Tag: NASA

Sierra Nevada Plans Additional Dream Chaser Flight Tests in Fall

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Dream Chaser on approach after a successful free flight. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Sierra Nevada Corporation will conduct additional drop tests of its Dream Chaser space shuttle at Edwards Air Force Base in the fall, Co-program Director John Curry said during the recent Space Tech Expo in Long Beach, Calif.

The approach and landing tests will be conducted using an upgraded engineering test vehicle that glided to a landing at Edwards last October.  The upgrades will include the avionics, software, and guidance, navigation and control systems designed for use on the orbital Dream Chaser spacecraft, Curry said.

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Falcon 9 Launch Reset for Friday

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SpaceX CRS 3 Mission Update

NASA and SpaceX have confirmed Friday, April 18 for the next launch attempt for the Falcon 9 rocket to send the Dragon spacecraft on the company’s third commercial resupply mission and fourth visit to the space station. Launch is targeted for 3:25 p.m. ET. The launch will be webcast live at www.spacex.com/webcast beginning at 2:45 p.m. ET.

A launch on Friday results in a rendezvous with the space station on Sunday, April 20 and a grapple at 7:14 a.m ET.

During Monday’s launch attempt, pre-flight checks detected that a helium valve in the stage separation pneumatic system was not holding the right pressure. This meant that the stage separation pistons would be reliant on a backup check valve.

No issue was detected with the backup valve and a flight would likely have been successful, but SpaceX policy is not to launch with any known anomalies. We have brought the vehicle back to horizontal and are replacing the faulty valve, as well as inspecting the whole system for anything that may have contributed to the valve not working as designed.

An Overview of Blue Origin’s Commercial Crew Milestones

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Blue Origin’s pusher escape system rockets the New Shepard crew capsule away from the launch pad. (Credit: Blue Origin)

Blue Origin’s pusher escape system rockets the New Shepard crew capsule away from the launch pad. (Credit: Blue Origin)

As one of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program partners, Blue Origin doesn’t get as much attention as Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corporation and SpaceX. That’s partly by design; the secretive company tries to fly under the radar as much as possible.

The other reason is that while Blue Origin received $25.38 million in funding for its orbital vehicle during the first two phases of Commercial Crew, it was not selected for the third round. The company has been working with NASA on an unfunded Space Act Agreement under which the space agency is providing support but not any funding.

To date, Blue Origin has completed 19 of 20 milestones under the three agreements with NASA. There has been significant progress on the pressure vessel, engine and escape system. The table below shows the company’s milestones under the agreements.

Blue Origin Space Act Agreements Milestones
Award Period: 2010 – 2014
Milestones: 20
Milestones Completed: 19
Milestones Remaining: 1
Total Award: $25.38 million

NO. DESCRIPTION ORIGINAL DATE
STATUS AMOUNT
COMMERCIAL CREW DEVELOPMENT 1
A1 Project Kickoff Meeting. A meeting to brief NASA personnel on the pusher escape system maturation plan. March 2010 Complete $835,000
A2 1-DOF TVC Plan. Conduct test firing of full-scale demonstration SRM integrated with TVC system on 1-degree of freedom trust measurement stand. July 2010 Complete $835,000
A3 6-DOF TVC Plan. Conduct test firing of full-scale demonstration SRM integrated with TVC system on 6-degree of freedom trust measurement stand. October 2010 Complete $835,000
A4 Rocket Sled Test. Conduct non-separating test of full CC OML and mass simulator on rocket sled track. March 2011 Complete $0
B1 Composite Pressure Vessel Maturation Kickoff Meeting.
A meeting to brief NASA personnel on the implementation plan.
March 2010 Complete $290,000
B2 Test Article Composite Parts Received. Receive all parts necessary to complete assembly of one composite pressure vessel, closing supplier risk. May 2010 Complete $290,000
B3 Test Article Assembly Complete. Completion of the test article. August 2010 Complete $290,000
COMMERCIAL CREW DEVELOPMENT 2
1.1 Space Vehicle Kickoff Meeting. A meeting at Blue Origin headquarters in Kent, WA to brief NASA personnel on the project implementation plan. May 2011 Complete $905,000
1.2 Space Vehicle Mission Concept Review. A review of the Space Vehicle Mission Concept.  September 2011 Complete $900,000
1.3 Space Vehicle Systems Requirements Review. A review of systems requirements for the Space Vehicle.  May 2012 Complete $900,000
2.1 Pusher Escape Kickoff Meeting. A meeting to brief NASA personnel on the pusher escape implementation plan. May 2011 Complete $2,000,000
2.2 Pusher Escape Vehicle #1 Shipment. Assembly of the first Pusher Escape Flight Test Vehicle is complete, except for installation of the pusher escape subsystem and separation mechanisms. Shipment to test range. December 2011 Complete $2,000,000
2.3 Pusher Escape Ground Firing.  Conduct an intial ground test of the pusher escape rocket motor and thrust vector control system to be used during the flight test campaign.  January 2012 Complete $3,000,000
2.6 Escape Pad Escape Test. Conduct a test of one of the fight test vehicles simulating an escape from a booster on the launch pad. April 2012 Complete $1,900,000
3.1 Engine Kickoff Meeting. Meeting to brief NASA personnel on engine risk reduction implementation plan. May 2011 Complete $3,400,000
3.2 Engine TCA and Test Plan Review. Meeting to review test article interface data, Interface Control Diagram (ICD) and test plan. September 2011 Complete $4,000,000
3.4 Engine TCA Test. Conduct pressure-fed test of the full-scale thrust chamber assembly (TCA). May 2012 Complete $3,000,000
UNFUNDED SPACE ACT AGREEMENT
3.6 BE-3 Engine Test. Conduct a test firing of the pump-fed engine simulating a sub-scale booster suborbital mission duty cycle (MDC). September 2013 Complete $0
3.7 Subscale Prop Tank Assembly Review. Conduct a review of the design, manufacture and assembly of a subscale booster propellant tank.  December 2013 Complete $0
1.4 Space Vehicle Subsystem Interim Design Review. Review space vehicle subsystem design progress with emphasis on power and actuation systems, in-space propulsion, multiplex avionics, flight mechanics and GN&C. March 2014 Pending May 2014 $0
 TOTAL:  $25,380,000

NASA Signs Agreement with SpaceX for Use of Historic Launch Pad

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Discovery on Pad 39A. (Credit: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA Kennedy Space Center’s historic Launch Complex 39A, the site from which numerous Apollo and space shuttle missions began, is beginning a new mission as a commercial launch site.

NASA signed a property agreement with Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, Calif., on Monday for use and occupancy of the seaside complex along Florida’s central east coast. It will serve as a platform for SpaceX to support their commercial launch activities.

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SpaceX Signs 20-Year Lease for Pad 39A

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Launch Pad 39A with the space shuttle Endeavour. (Credit: NASA)

Launch Pad 39A with the space shuttle Endeavour. (Credit: NASA)

SpaceX has signed a 20-year lease on Pad 39A, the former shuttle launch facility the company plans to use for its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy boosters.

“I promise everybody, we’re going to make great use of this pad,” said Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX president and chief operating officer.

NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden and KSC Director Bob Cabana joined Shotwell at the pad to announce the agreement moments after they signed it, beginning the pad’s “new mission as a commercial launch site,” Bolden said.

SpaceX hopes to launch its first heavy-lift Falcon rocket from KSC in the first quarter of next year, a mission previously expected to launch from California.

And if later this year SpaceX wins a NASA contract to launch astronauts to the International Space Station, those missions also would depart from KSC by 2017….

Shotwell said SpaceX would install new instrumentation and some new plumbing at 39A.

More details are to come, but the overhaul likely won’t be as significant as at pad 39B, where NASA dismantled the fixed and rotating shuttle service towers.

Read more here.

Smartphone Sat Headed for ISS

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PhoneSat 2.5 (Credit: NASA)

PhoneSat 2.5 (Credit: NASA)

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (NAS PR) — NASA’s preparing to send its fifth in a series of smartphone-controlled small spacecraft into orbit. PhoneSat 2.5 will ride into space as part of the SpaceX-3 commercial cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. SpaceX-3 is scheduled to lift off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on April 14.

Once in Earth orbit, the tiny spacecraft will demonstrate the power of smartphone components to support space-based communications systems and survive the radiation environment of low Earth orbit — as high as 220 miles above Earth. The technology demonstration mission also will pave the way for a constellation of cooperative small satellites scheduled to launch later this year.

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Fungi Research Conducted in Space

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The study’s lead author Aurélie Crabbé (left), Cheryl Nickerson (Principal Investigator and senior author on the study) and co-author Jennifer Barrila (right) of Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute, Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology. (Credit: Arizona State University/Anais Bon)

The study’s lead author Aurélie Crabbé (left), Cheryl Nickerson (Principal Investigator and senior author on the study) and co-author Jennifer Barrila (right) of Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute, Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology. (Credit: Arizona State University/Anais Bon)

TEMPE, Ariz. (NASA PR) — You may not recognize it by name, but if you have ever had a child with a diaper rash, that child was likely a host to Candida albicans (C. albicans). This unwelcome “guest” can be hard to control, as it can potentially lead to serious illness in humans with weakened immune systems. During an investigation dubbed “Microbe,” using the unique microgravity environment aboard space shuttle Atlantis on an International Space Station mission, researchers at the Arizona State University (ASU) in Tempe gained a better understanding of these prevalent fungi. Their tendency to become more aggressive in microgravity helps scientists see what mechanisms control the behavior of these types of organisms, with the potential to develop ways to influence their behavior both in space and on Earth.

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SpaceX Dragon Flight to ISS is On for Monday

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SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft. (Credit: NASA)

SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft. (Credit: NASA)

NASA officials said today that SpaceX’s launch of a Dragon freighter to the International Space Station is on for Monday despite the failure of an external computer on the orbiting facility.

The Falcon 9 launch is set for 4:58 p.m. EDT from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Floriday. NASA is planning a spacewalk for later this month to fix the external computer.

During a press conference this afternoon, NASA officials said there is an 80 percent probability of weather being acceptable for the Monday launch. There is only a 40 percent probability of weather being acceptable on Friday, which is the next launch window.

NASA Looks Beyond Batteries for Space Exploration

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Fly wheels, such as the NASA G2 flywheel module above, are one way to store rotational energy for use by spacecraft or machines on Earth. NASA’s looking for new energy storage systems to enable our future exploration missions. (Credit: NASA)

Fly wheels, such as the NASA G2 flywheel module above, are one way to store rotational energy for use by spacecraft or machines on Earth. NASA’s looking for new energy storage systems to enable our future exploration missions. (Credit: NASA)

HAMPTON, Virg. (NASA PR) — NASA is seeking proposals for the development of new, more capable, energy storage technologies to replace the battery technology that has long powered America’s space program.

The core technologies solicited in the Wednesday call for proposals will advance energy storage solutions for the space program and other government agencies, such as the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E) through ongoing collaboration with NASA and industry.

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Student Medical Research Experiments Bound for ISS

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The International Space Station, backdropped by the blackness of space and the thin line of Earth's atmosphere. (Credit: NASA)

The International Space Station, backdropped by the blackness of space and the thin line of Earth’s atmosphere. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Scheduled for launch and on-orbit operations on Space-X 3, April 14, 2014, the University Research- 1 (UR-1) research is focused on the development of benzofuran-2-carboxylic acid derivatives designed for immune system augmentation, the restoration of immune cell function and the inhibition of cancer initiation and development. The initial findings of these compounds reveal inhibitive properties for cancer cell proliferation and restorative properties for cells exposed to radiation. This research addresses risks critical to the health of the astronauts and humankind.

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