Tag: NASA

Bolden Praises ESA Commitment to Space Station Extension

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NASA Administrator Charles Bolden

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — The following is a statement from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on ESA’s (European Space Agency’s) decision to continue its operations aboard the International Space Station:

“I’m excited all the International Space Station partners have now joined us in committing to operation of this invaluable resource through at least 2024.

“The European Space Agency contributions to station are essential, and we look forward to continuing to work with ESA, the Canadian Space Agency, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and Roscosmos for extended operations, and to collaborating with other nations to push the boundaries of human exploration, and extend our reach farther into the solar system as part of the ongoing Journey to Mars.”

For more information about the International Space Station, its research and crews, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station

Soyuz Launcher Suffers “Anomaly” During Progress Launch

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The Progress 65 spacecraft is pictured at its launch pad Nov. 29 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. (Credit: Roscosmos)

The Progress 65 spacecraft is pictured at its launch pad Nov. 29 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. (Credit: Roscosmos)

Mission Update From NASA
Dec. 1, 2016 — 11:29 a.m. EST

Launch of the ISS Progress 65 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan occurred at 9:51 a.m. EST (8:51 p.m. Baikonur time). An anomaly occurred sometime during the third stage operation. As we get updates from Roscosmos, we will provide them.

Our astronauts and the Russian cosmonauts are safe aboard the station. Consumables aboard the station are at good levels.

An H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV)-6 from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is scheduled to launch to the space station on Friday, Dec. 9.

To join the online conversation about the International Space Station and Progress 65 on Twitter, follow @Space_Station. To learn more about all the ways to connect and collaborate with NASA, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/connect.

Editor’s Note, 9:32 a.m. PST: Reliable Twitter reports say Mission Control in Houston has informed International Space Station Commander Shane Kimbrough that the launch of the Progress supply ship has failed. The Russians have sent their Progress team home for the day and are forming a state commission to investigate the failure.

Editor’s Note, 9:11 a.m. PST: It appears the third stage may have cut out early, which would have put Progress in lower than planned orbit. There are unconfirmed social media reports from Russia of a large explosion in the sky, a large bang and falling debris, so Progress may have reentered the atmosphere. Let me stress these are unconfirmed reports at this time.

I’ll update this story as we learn more. You can also follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/spacecom.

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NSS Urges Trump to Lead Lunar Base Construction

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nss_logoWASHINGTON, DC, November 30, 2016 (NSS PR) — On Saturday, October 8th, the National Space Society (NSS) organized a workshop directed at recommending a space policy to the new Administration. Eleven thought leaders from government, industry, and academia gathered in a fruitful collaboration to produce a set of five recommendations.

Steve Jurvetson, a partner at the well-known Silicon Valley Sand Hill Road venture capital firm DFJ hosted the meeting at the DFJ offices. NSS has submitted the resulting white paper to the Trump Transition Team. The paper can be viewed at The paper can be viewed at http://www.nss.org/legislative/positions/NSS-DFJ-Workshop-Recommendations-Nov-2016.pdf.

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Space Florida Pleads With Trump to Continuing Funding Major NASA Programs

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Space Florida President Frank DiBello

Space Florida President Frank DiBello

Statement from Space Florida President Frank DiBello Regarding President-Elect Donald Trump

“On behalf of Space Florida, I welcome President-Elect Trump’s incoming administration and look forward to continuing our positive relationship with NASA. I have been encouraged by what I have heard of President-Elect Donald Trump’s plans for our national space program. As the incoming administration develops policies and priorities for the upcoming term, Space Florida  encourages President-Elect Trump’s incoming administration to sustain the balance of programs of record, including NASA’s Commercial Cargo and Crew programs, Space Launch System (SLS), Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (Orion), and affiliated Ground Systems Development and Operations.

Collectively, these programs sustain the Cape Canaveral Spaceport in Florida, this nation’s premier gateway to a great future in space.”
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House Science Committee Launches Investigation into NASA Press Release

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Lamar Smith

Lamar Smith

WASHINGTON (House Science Committee PR) – Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Space Subcommittee Chairman Brian Babin (R-Texas) today sent a letter to National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Administrator Charles Bolden regarding the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM). NASA recently issued a press release that implies the ARM has gained acceptance by advisory bodies.

“As the incoming Administration evaluates ARM, it would benefit from clear guidance from both NASA and its advisory bodies. Similarly, it should be unencumbered by decisions made in the twilight of this Administration’s term. Contrary to the assertions made in the press release, numerous advisory bodies have questioned the merits of the President’s ARM mission. The NASA Advisory Council, the Small Bodies Assessment Group (SBAG), and the National Research Council have all raised concerns with the mission since its proposal by the Administration,” the letter states.

Today’s letter requests documents associated with the consideration, development, formulation, drafting, production, and dissemination of the press release and a recent SBAG Special Action Team report.

frank_grimes

The late Frank Grimes

Editor’s Note: The House Science Committee is investigating a press release? Are you serious? Of course you’re serious. You guys went all cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs a long time ago.

Trump needs to be “unencumbered by decisions made in the twilight of this Administration’s term.” What decisions? To put out a press release? And when has Trump ever felt encumbered by anything? Decency. Precedent. Truth.

And a 10-page letter? You needed 10 pages for that?

Don’t you have anything better to do with their time? Like passing a budget so agencies like NASA can do their work properly? The fiscal year ended on Sept. 30. Now I hear you guys are going with a continuing resolution until March.

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Orbital ATK to Develop Critical Technology for In-Orbit Assembly Through NASA Partnership

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orbital_ATK_logoDULLES, Va., 29 November 2016 (Orbital ATK PR) – Orbital ATK (NYSE: OA), a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, today announced that it has begun a public-private partnership with NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) to establish a Commercial Infrastructure for Robotic Assembly and Services (CIRAS) in space. The CIRAS program will advance key technologies for in-orbit manufacturing and assembly of large space structures that will help the agency meet its goals for robotic and human exploration of the solar system.

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Trump Appoints Christopher Shank to NASA Landing Team

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Christopher Shank

Christopher Shank

President elect Donald Trump has appointed Christopher Shank to the NASA transition landing team. Shank was most recently the policy and coalitions director for the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology and was formerly deputy chief of staff for Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas). He also served as NASA’s director of strategic investments and chief of strategic communications under President George W. Bush.

Mark Albrecht, who had been reportedly involved in the NASA transition, was been added to the landing team for the Department of Defense.

Shank’s LinkedIn profile is below.

Christopher Shank
LinkedIn Profile

Policy and Coalitions Director
House Science, Space, and Technology Committee
January 2013 – Present (3 years 11 months)
Washington D.C. Metro Area

Directs the Committee’s legislative and hearing agenda for broad portfolio of issues ranging from energy and environment/climate change, space exploration, and various research and technology initiatives across five subcommittees, engaging 22 Science Committee Members of Congress, in coordination with House Leadership.

Deputy Chief of Staff
Congressman Lamar Smith
March 2011 – Present (5 years 9 months)

Senior Director, Space, Networks, and Communications Business Development
Honeywell Aerospace
November 2009 – March 2011 (1 year 5 months)
Washington D.C. Metro Area

Assistant Group Supervisor
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
February 2009 – October 2009 (9 months)

Director of Strategic Investments and Chief of Strategic Communications
NASA
April 2005 – January 2009 (3 years 10 months)

  • Senior agency official responsible for directing strategic messaging across all NASA mission directorates, program offices, and field centers. Directed 120-person NASA HQ staff including 10 senior executives responsible for $150 million/year education portfolio, legislative and intergovernmental affairs, and NASA public relations/special events.
  • Key member of NASA’s Management Councils with other Headquarters Officials-in-Charge, Associate Administrators, and Center Directors
  • Responsible for formulating and defending NASA’s annual budget requests and operating plans of $18 billion to the White House and Congress. Led 30-person HQ office, with hundreds more people in matrix support across agency.

Professional Staff Member
House Science Committee
April 2001 – April 2005 (4 years 1 month)

Officer
US Air Force
May 1990 – March 2001 (10 years 11 months)

Education

University of Colorado Boulder
M.S., Aerospace Engineering
1995 – 1996

University of Notre Dame
B.A., Mathematics
1986 – 1990

A Box of ‘Black Magic’ to Study Earth from Space

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RainCube, due to fly in 2017, forced JPL’s engineers to get creative in order to squeeze an antenna into a CubeSat. (Credits: Tyvak/Jonathan Sauder/NASA/JPL-Caltech)

RainCube, due to fly in 2017, forced JPL’s engineers to get creative in order to squeeze an antenna into a CubeSat. (Credits: Tyvak/Jonathan Sauder/NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Black magic.

That’s what radiofrequency engineers call the mysterious forces guiding communications over the air. These forces involve complex physics and are difficult enough to master on Earth. They only get more baffling when you’re beaming signals into space.

Until now, the shape of choice for casting this “magic” has been the parabolic dish. The bigger the antenna dish, the better it is at “catching” or transmitting signals from far away.

But CubeSats are changing that. These spacecraft are meant to be light, cheap and extremely small: most aren’t much bigger than a cereal box. Suddenly, antenna designers have to pack their “black magic” into a device where there’s no room for a dish — let alone much else.

Continue reading ‘A Box of ‘Black Magic’ to Study Earth from Space’

NASA’s NavCube Could Support an X-ray Communications Demonstration

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NavCube, the product of a merger between the Goddard-developed SpaceCube 2.0 and Navigator GPS technologies, could play a vital NavCube, the product of a merger between the Goddard-developed SpaceCube 2.0 and Navigator GPS technologies, could play a vital role helping to demonstrate X-ray communications in space — a potential NASA first. (Credit: NASA/W. Hrybyk)

NavCube, the product of a merger between the Goddard-developed SpaceCube 2.0 and Navigator GPS technologies, could play a vital NavCube, the product of a merger between the Goddard-developed SpaceCube 2.0 and Navigator GPS technologies, could play a vital role helping to demonstrate X-ray communications in space — a potential NASA first. (Credit: NASA/W. Hrybyk)

By Lori Keesey
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Two proven technologies have been combined to create a promising new technology that could meet future navigational challenges in deep space. It also may help demonstrate — for the first time — X-ray communications in space, a capability that would allow the transmission of gigabits per second throughout the solar system.

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NASA & Contractors Developing New Astronaut Gloves

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David Clark Company’s unique spacesuit pressure restraint. (Credit: David Clark Company)

David Clark Company’s unique spacesuit pressure restraint. (Credit: David Clark Company)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Over the summer of 2016, the Next Generation Life Support (NGLS) project received delivery from three industry partners of several new promising spacesuit technologies, namely for advancing glove designs and capabilities. Glove prototypes incorporating these technologies are now undergoing testing and performance evaluation under increased operating pressures and in the more challenging environments expected during future space exploration.

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Harper, Trump & Science a la Carte: A Warning From Canada

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Stephen Harper and cat.

Stephen Harper and cats.

Canadian science writer Graham Templeton says the election of Donald Trump and a Republican controlled Congress threatens a repeat of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s nine-year war on science.

Though Americans might be surprised to hear it, Canada offers a good example of why there is a very real need to worry, and of how the coming anti-science administration could realistically affect all of national research. My home and native land has been a fair ways down the road America is just now preparing to travel and, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the endpoint is absolutely disastrous….

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SUPERball Bot Harnesses Forces at Play

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Credit: NASA

Credit: NASA

By Denise M. Stefula
NASA

Each planet and moon in our solar system is unique, although many have characteristics in common that can be hazardous for exploration—unstable crevices, ravines and steep cliff faces, broken jagged ice, and rocky, boulder-strewn terrains—all of which are inaccessible to the currently used wheeled rovers. These locations are largely excluded from exploration planning because one mishap can end a mission.

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NASA Explores 4 Technologies for Improved Oxygen Recovery

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Spacecraft Oxygen Recovery (SCOR) test facility. (Credit: NASA)

Spacecraft Oxygen Recovery (SCOR) test facility. (Credit: NASA)

CLEVELAND (NASA PR) — On long duration deep space missions, providing crew-members with a steady supply of oxygen is a real challenge. Because resupply is not an option and taking huge tanks of oxygen on exploration spacecraft is not practical, oxygen must be recovered from what is produced during normal metabolism.

Astronauts breathe in oxygen and most is turned into carbon dioxide and water vapor. Getting the oxygen from the water is pretty straightforward and can be done with electrolysis alone. The real trick is efficiently getting oxygen from the carbon dioxide.

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Trump’s Tax Plan Likely to Limit Options in Space

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Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)

Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)

During an appearance in Florida one week before the election, Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence promised that he and Donald Trump would reinvigorate the nation’s space program.

However, the incoming administration’s larger economic priorities are likely to limit its options for any large-scale space exploration efforts.

President elect Trump’s biggest priority is a massive tax cut that would primarily favor corporations and upper income Americans. It would also lower taxes slightly for many middle class families while actually raising taxes for some of them. CBS News has a full analysis. Some of the highlights:

Right now, a single parent with $75,000 in income and two children can claim a head of household deduction of $9,300, plus three personal exemptions. Those steps would reduce the household’s taxable income by $21,450, to $53,550.
Continue reading ‘Trump’s Tax Plan Likely to Limit Options in Space’

NASA Sets Space Fire in Second Round of Fire Safety Experiments

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Sample 7 of the Saffire-II Experiment consists partially of Nomex, a commercially available, flame-resistant material.

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Fire safety is a crucial component of space living. As we partner with industry and international space agencies to develop deep space habitation capabilities, we are leveraging every opportunity to validate important habitation-related systems and operations in low-Earth orbit. The second Spacecraft Fire Safety experiment, or Saffire-II, is a fire experiment with nine material swatches that will be ignited in a cargo ship as it orbits Earth. Saffire-II is the second in a series of three fire safety experiments, and builds on the data captured during Saffire-I with an expanded test portfolio of new materials.

Saffire-II launched on OA-5 in October 2016. The nine samples in the experiment kit aboard the Cygnus cargo vehicle include a cotton-fiberglass blend, Nomex, and the same acrylic glass that is used for spacecraft windows. After the spacecraft departs the station, and before its destructive reentry to Earth, mission controllers on the ground will remotely ignite the samples.

Saffire-II mission updates will be added below as data and imagery are returned from the orbiting Cygnus vehicle.

UPDATE

Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2106
All updates are posted in Eastern Standard Time

6:00 p.m: The Saffire team has successfully downlinked images from the nine samples tested in Saffire-II. The first sample has a thin sheet of poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA), also known as plexiglass, that is being used to ignite Nomex, a commercially available, flame-resistant material that is used on spacecraft for cargo storage bags and as a fire barrier. The second sample is a plexiglass sheet (5 cm wide x 29 cm long x 10 cm wide), a material that is used for spacecraft windows. The Saffire investigators will continue to downlink data and images on Tuesday and Wednesday nights and provide additional updates as they are available.

UPDATE

Monday, Nov. 21, 2016
All updates are posted in Eastern Standard Time

9:30 p.m.: All nine samples have burned and preliminary telemetry indicate that data and images were recorded as expected for all 9 samples and flow visualization. The Saffire-II hardware performed very well and there were no issues. The team will spend tonight downlinking the sensor and image data and begin analysis of the dataset tomorrow morning. Updates on Tuesday will include preliminary sensor data and images from the burns.

8:04 p.m.: Samples 1-6 have been ignited and we’ve captured more than 106,000 images. Samples 1-4 were a silicon material at different thicknesses. Samples 5 and 6 were the same cotton-fiberglass blend that was burned on Saffire-I; one was at the same flow speed as Saffire-I and the other was at the flow speed planned for Saffire-III. Samples 7-9 up next! The images will be downlinked to Orbital ATK overnight and transferred to researchers at NASA-GRC for analysis tomorrow. Initial images will be released as they are available.

7:14 p.m.: We’ve received confirmation that the first Saffire-II test sample has been ignited.

6:04 p.m.: Orbital ATK has confirmed that the Saffire-II experiment is powered and we are receiving telemetry. We remain on track for a 7:00 p.m. sample ignition.

8:22 a.m.: Shane Kimbrough of NASA and Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency commanded the International Space Station’s Candadarm2 robotic arm to release the Cygnus spacecraft.