Tag: NASA

NASA Wants Partnership on Tipping Point, Emerging Technologies

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NASA LOGOWASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — NASA announced Thursday two opportunities for public-private partnerships to achieve the agency’s goals of expanding capabilities and opportunities in space. Through both solicitations, NASA is seeking industry-developed space technologies that can foster the development of commercial space capabilities and benefit future NASA missions.

“These solicitations form an increased focus on collaborations with the commercial space sector that not only leverage emerging markets and capabilities to meet NASA’s strategic goals, but also focus on industry needs,” said Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “While developing the technology to enable NASA’s next generation of science and human exploration missions, we will grow the economy and strengthen the nation’s economic competitiveness.”

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NASA Pays for Launch of Planetary Society’s LightSail

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The Planetary Society's LightSail-1 solar sailing spacecraft is scheduled to ride a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket to orbit in 2016 with its parent satellite, Prox-1. (Credit: Josh Spradling / The Planetary Society)

The Planetary Society’s LightSail-1 solar sailing spacecraft is scheduled to ride a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket to orbit in 2016 with its parent satellite, Prox-1. (Credit: Josh Spradling / The Planetary Society)

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — With help from NASA, a small research satellite to test technology for in-space solar propulsion launched into space Wednesday aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, as part of the agency’s CubeSat Launch Initiative.

The Atlas V sent the U.S. Air Force’s X-37B space plane on its fourth mission, which also is carrying NASA’s Materials Exposure and Technology Innovation in Space (METIS) investigation that will expose about 100 different materials samples to the space environment for more than 200 days.

The Planetary Society’s LightSail satellite is a technology demonstration for using solar propulsion on CubeSats, a class of research spacecraft called nanosatellites. Using the momentum transferred from solar photons as they strike a large, thin, reflective sail would allow a spacecraft to accelerate continuously using only the sun’s energy. NASA is considering the use of solar sails on future exploration mission secondary payloads, and data from this mission will advance understanding of this form of propulsion.

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House Appropriations Committee Releases NASA Budget Figures

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Capitol Building
The House Appropriations Committee has released updated numbers for the NASA FY 2016 budget. The highlights include:

  • $3.4 billion for Space Launch System, Orion and related ground systems, an increase of $546 million over the President’s request;
  • $1 billion for Commercial Crew, a reduction of $243 million from the request;
  • $625 million for space technology, a reduction of $100 million.
  • $1.56 billion for planetary exploration, an increase of $196 million;
  • $1.68 billion for Earth science, a reduction of $264 million;
  • $140 million to begin work on the Jupiter Europa clipper;
  • $19 million to maintain operations of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and $13.7 million for the Mars Opportunity Rover.

The table below has the full details.

NASA FY 2016 BUDGET
(In Millions of Dollars)
PROGRAM ADMINISTRATION REQUEST
HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE
DIFFERENCE
Science $5,288.6 $5,237.5 -$51.1
Earth Science
$1,947.3 $1,682.9 -$264.2
Planetary Sciences $1,361.2  $1,557.0  $195.8
Astrophysics $709.1  $735.6  $26.5
James Webb Space Telescope
$620.0  $620.0  $0.0
Heliophysics $651.0 $642.0  -$9.0
Jupiter Europa Clipper $30.0 $140.0  $110.0
Space Exploration $4,505.9 $4,759.3 $253.4
Exploration Systems Development
$2,862.9 $3,409.3 $546.4
Space Launch System
$1,356.5 $1,850.0 $493.5
Orion
$1,096.3 $1,096.3 $0.0
Exploration Ground Systems
$410.1 $410.0 -$0.1
Program Integration
$53.0 $53.0
Commercial Spaceflight $1,243.8 $1,000.0 -$243.0
Research & Development $399.2 $350.0 -$49.2
Space Operations $4,003.7 $3,957.3
-$46.4
International Space Station $3,106.6 $3,075.6 -$31.0
Space & Flight Support
$898.1 $881.7 -$16.4
Space Technology $724.8 $625.0
-$99.8
Aeronautics $571.4 $600.0
$28.6
Education $88.9 $119.0
$30.1
Safety, Security and Mission Services $2,843.1 $2,768.6
-$74.5
Construction & Environmental Compliance & Restoration $465.3 $425.0
-$40.3
Inspector General $37.4 $37.4
$0.0
TOTALS: $18,529.1 $18,529.1 $0.0

ULA to Launch X-37B, LightSail on Wednesday

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X-37B after landing at Vandenberg Air Force Base on June 16, 2012. (Credit: Boeing/USAF)

X-37B after landing at Vandenberg Air Force Base on June 16, 2012. (Credit: Boeing/USAF)

The U.S. Air Force’s mysterious X-37B spacecraft and The Planetary Society’s LightSail prototype will share a ride into space from Cape Canaveral on Wednesday aboard an United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V booster. NASA will also conduct a materials sciences experiment aboard the X-37B.

The launch window opens at 10:45 a.m. EDT and runs until 2:45 p.m. EDT. ULA will webcast the launch at http://www.ulalaunch.com.

The weather forecast shows a 60 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for launch.

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NASA Issues RFI on Asteroid Redirect Mission

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In this concept image, the robotic vehicle descends to the surface of a large asteroid to collect a boulder that it can redirect to a distant retrograde lunar orbit. (Credit: NASA)

In this concept image, the robotic vehicle descends to the surface of a large asteroid to collect a boulder that it can redirect to a distant retrograde lunar orbit. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has issued a Request for Information (RFI) seeking ideas from American companies for a spacecraft design that could be used for both the agency’s Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) and a robotic satellite servicing mission in low-Earth orbit.

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NASA Certifies Falcon 9 for Science Missions

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Falcon 9 lifts off on CRS-6 mission.

Falcon 9 lifts off on CRS-6 mission.

Some good news for SpaceX, which will now be able to bid to launch NASA science missions:

NASA has formally certified SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket to launch all but the agency’s most costly robotic science missions. The first mission for SpaceX will be the launch of a United States and France oceanography satellite that is scheduled for liftoff from California in July.

According to George Diller, a spokesperson from NASA, the space agency’s Launch Services Program, which manages the agency’s rocket procurements for research missions, concluded the multi-year certification on Tuesday.

This new milestone now clears the Falcon 9 to launch what NASA calls “medium-risk” science missions, a classification that includes most of the agency’s Earth observation satellites and many of its interplanetary probes.  The Falcon 9 is now certified by NASA as a “Category 2″ launch vehicle.

In order to launch the most valuable spacecraft, such as the multibillion-dollar interplanetary flagship missions, NASA requires a Category 3 certification.  The Atlas 5, Delta 2 and Pegasus XL rockets operated by SpaceX rivals United Launch Alliance and Orbital ATK currently meet the stringent requirements for Category 3 certification.

The certification clears the way for SpaceX to launch NASA’s Jason 3 ocean altimetry spacecraft from Vandenberg Air Force Base. The launch is scheduled for July 22.

Read the full story.

Aitech to Provide Components, Services for Boeing’s CST-100 Spacecraft

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Chris Ferguson of The Boeing Company works through scenarios inside the cockpit simulator of the CST-100 under development. (Credit:  NASA/Bill Stafford)

Chris Ferguson of The Boeing Company works through scenarios inside the cockpit simulator of the CST-100 under development. (Credit: NASA/Bill Stafford)

CHATSWORTH, Calif. (Aitech PR) – Aitech Defense Systems Inc. was recently awarded a contract by The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] to provide space-grade products and services to support the Commercial Crew Transportation System (CCTS) and Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 spacecraft, part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Aitech has been commissioned to develop and produce the crew interface system computer and displays used to physically control and maneuver the capsule.  The new subsystem, consisting of a display computer, pilot and copilot displays and keypads, gives the space crew reliable, precision control of the craft using the pilots’ rotational and translational hand controllers.

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SLS Begins Critical Design Review

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Space Launch System in flight. (Credit: NASA)

Space Launch System in flight. (Credit: NASA)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) Program kicked off its critical design review May 11 at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

This new rocket will be the most powerful launch vehicle ever built. It is designed to be sustainable and evolve to carry crew and cargo on deep space missions, including an asteroid and ultimately to Mars.

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Zubrin’s Pioneer Astronautics Selected for 2 SBIR Phase I Contracts

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pioneer_astronautics_logoNASA has selected Bob Zubrin’s Pioneer Astronautics for two small business awards to fund the development of a system to extract water and other volatiles from asteroids and a new rocket engine for spacecraft.

“The Carbonaceous Asteroid Volatile Recovery (CAVoR) system extracts water and volatile organic compounds for propellant production, life support consumables, and manufacturing from in-situ resources in support of advanced space exploration,” according to the proposal. “The CAVoR thermally extracts ice and water bound to clays minerals, which is then combined with small amounts of oxygen to gasify organic matter contained in carbonaceous chondrite asteroids.

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America’s Impenetrable Congress Does It Again

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2001_monolith_astros_moon
There’s a great scene in “2010: The Year We Make Contact,” in which Dmitri Moiseyevich (Dana Elcar) asks Heywood Floyd (Roy Scheider) what scientists had learned about the monolith brought back from the moon.

“Nothing,” Floyd replies. “It’s impenetrable. We’ve tried lasers, nuclear detonators. Nothing worked.”

I reached that same conclusion about Congress this week. The institution seems impermeable to facts, reasoned arguments, and even potential threats to the lives of America’s brave astronauts.

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