Tag: NASA

BEAM Fully Expanded & Pressurized

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BEAM module (Credit: NASA TV)

BEAM module (Credit: NASA TV)

NASA astronaut Jeff Williams successfully expanded and pressurized Bigelow Aerospace’s BEAM module today. It was a long procedure that took more than 7.5 hours. The module will now go through an 80-hour leak check and other tests before astronauts enter it for the first time in about a week.

 

BEAM Expansion Underway

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Credit: NASA TV

Credit: NASA TV

Bigelow’s BEAM module is being expanded this morning on the International Space Station. It’s an extremely slow process that’s now been going on for about 3.5 hours, but it seems to be progressing well.

BEAM is being expanded using air from the space station. It will then be pressurized using tanks on board the module.

NASA to Attempt BEAM Inflation on Saturday

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BEAM attached to the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

BEAM attached to the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

NASA and Bigelow Aerospace had a press conference this afternoon about the failed effort to fully expand the BEAM module attached to the International Space Station (ISS) on Thursday.
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House Appropriations Committee Sets NASA Spending at $19.5 Billion

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 NASA astronaut Suni Williams exits a test version of the Orion spacecraft in the agency’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab in Houston. The testing is helping NASA identify the best ways to efficiently get astronauts out of the spacecraft after deep space missions. (Credit: NASA)

NASA astronaut Suni Williams exits a test version of the Orion spacecraft in the agency’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab in Houston. The testing is helping NASA identify the best ways to efficiently get astronauts out of the spacecraft after deep space missions. (Credit: NASA)

The House Appropriations Committee is marking up a FY 2017 spending bill today that would boost NASA’s spending by $215 million to $19.5 billion dollars. The amount is roughly $500 million more than the $19 billion requested by the Obama Administration.

Appropriators have zeroed out money for NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), instead instructing the space agency to focus on lumar missions applicable to sending astronauts to Mars.

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Lockheed Martin Lays Out Deep Space Exploration Plans

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Humanity Becomes an Interplanetary Species: Artist’s rendition of the Mars Base Camp architecture in Martian orbit. By leveraging developed technologies and the taxpayers’ investment in SLS and Orion, Lockheed Martin believes a human science Mission to Mars is feasible by 2028. (Credit: Lockheed Martin)

Artist’s rendition of the Mars Base Camp architecture in Martian orbit. By leveraging developed technologies and the taxpayers’ investment in SLS and Orion, Lockheed Martin believes a human science Mission to Mars is feasible by 2028. (Credit: Lockheed Martin)

At a House Space Subcommittee meeting on Capitol Hill last week, several companies laid out plans for deep space exploration. Lockheed Martin Vice President Wanda A. Sigur discussed the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle the company is building for NASA, proposed cis-lunar space operations, and a Mars base camp orbiting the Red Planet.

Lockheed Martin of a number of companies working with NASA under the Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) program, which is a private-public partnership that focuses on advance concept studies and technology development projects for deep space exploration.

Relevant excerpt’s from Sigur’s prepared testimony follow.

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NASA’s Nodes CubeSats Deployed From Space Station

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Members of the NASA Ames Nodes Integration & Test team ready to integrate the Nodes 1 and 2 spacecraft (forefront) into the Nanoracks dispenser.(Credit: NASA)

Members of the NASA Ames Nodes Integration & Test team ready to integrate the Nodes 1 and 2 spacecraft (forefront) into the Nanoracks dispenser.(Credit: NASA)

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — After a five-month stay aboard the International Space Station, NASA’s two Nodes satellites were deployed on May 16 from the NanoRacks platform and into low-Earth orbit to begin their much anticipated technology demonstration. These tiny satellites have dimensions of only four by four by six inches. The ground controllers for the Nodes mission received confirmation that both satellites are transmitting and are in good health when they passed over the tracking station for the first time, soon after deployment. The first transmission of science data is expected by May 18.

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I Will Launch America: Launch Site Integrator Misty Snopkowski

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i_will_launch_misty_snopkowskiBy Steven Siceloff,
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Misty Snopkowski has worked on human spaceflight initiatives since 2003, building up expertise with the Space Shuttle and International Space Station Programs and now standing on the precipice of the new era in human spaceflight with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

“I got to work up until the very last shuttle launch in 2011, which was a pretty amazing period in time,” Snopkowski said. “Then I joined commercial crew. You flip the script and go into a brand new program. I was this young person who got to start at the very beginning of a new program and most people don’t ever get that opportunity.”

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NIAC Focus: In-Space Construction of 1g Growable Habitat

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TENSOR construction of habitat, cross-sectional view of growth TENSOR. (Credit: R. Skelton)

TENSOR construction of habitat, cross-sectional view of growth TENSOR. (Credit: R. Skelton)

Tensegrity Approaches to In-Space Construction of a 1g Growable Habitat
NASA Innovative Advance Concepts Phase II Award

Robert Skelton
Texas Engineering Experiment

This proposal seeks to design a rotating habitat with a robotic system that constructs the structure and provides a habitat growth capability. The tensegrity technology allows minimum mass of both the habitat and the robotic system. This proposal solves three unsolved space travel problems: a) growth, b) radiation protection, and c) gravity.

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Orion Passes Pressure Test

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Lockheed Martin engineers and technicians prepare the Orion pressure vessel for a series of tests inside the proof pressure cell in the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

Lockheed Martin engineers and technicians prepare the Orion pressure vessel for a series of tests inside the proof pressure cell in the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Engineers at Kennedy Space Center in Florida recently conducted a series of pressure tests of the Orion pressure vessel. Orion is the NASA spacecraft that will send astronauts to deep space destinations, including on the journey to Mars. The tests confirmed that the weld points of the underlying structure will contain and protect astronauts during the launch, in-space, re-entry and landing phases on the Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1), when the spacecraft performs its first uncrewed test flight atop the Space Launch System rocket.

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NIAC Focus: Cryogenic Selective Surfaces

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Visible light scattered by the Solar White Coating. (Credit: R. Youngquist)

Visible light scattered by the Solar White Coating. (Credit: R. Youngquist)

Cryogenic Selective Surfaces
NASA Innovative Advance Concepts Phase II Award

Robert Youngquist
NASA Kennedy Space Center

During our Phase 1 NIAC study we discovered a novel coating we call “Solar White” that, when used in deep space, is predicted to reflect more than 99.9% of the sun’s energy. We have shown analytically that a sphere covered with a 10 mm thick coating of Solar White and located far from the Earth and at 1 Astronomical Unit from the Sun can achieve a steady state temperature below 50 K, the freezing point of oxygen.

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SPHERES: From Class Project to Droids in Space

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The three on-orbit SPHERES satellites fly in formation through the International Space Station, appearing like a squadron star fighters from the Star Wars universe. (Credit: NASA/ISS)

The three on-orbit SPHERES satellites fly in formation through the International Space Station, appearing like a squadron star fighters from the Star Wars universe. (Credit: NASA/ISS)

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — Imagine you’re sitting in class watching a scene from “Star Wars” and your professor assigns a project meant to fly in space.

In 1999, that is exactly what happened for engineering students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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NASA TV to Provide Live Coverage of BEAM Expansion

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The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, or BEAM, is attached to the International Space Station early on April 16, 2016. (Credit: NASA)

The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, or BEAM, is attached to the International Space Station early on April 16, 2016. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) will be deployed to its full size Thursday, May 26, and begin its two-year technology demonstration attached to the International Space Station. NASA Television will provide coverage of the expansion beginning at 5:30 a.m. EDT.

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NIAC Focus: Precise Extremely Large Reflective Telescope

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General APERTURE concept, before and after deployment (write head moves along the curved arm, while the curved arm rotates about the center axis). (Credit: M. Ulmer)

General APERTURE concept, before and after deployment (write head moves along the curved arm, while the curved arm rotates about the center axis). (Credit: M. Ulmer)

Further Development of Aperture: A Precise Extremely Large Reflective Telescope Using Re-configurable Elements
NASA Innovative Advance Concepts Phase II Award

Melville Ulmer
Northwestern University

One of the pressing needs for space ultraviolet-visible astronomy is a design to allow larger mirrors than the James Webb Space Telescope primary. The diameter of the rocket fairing limits the mirror diameter such that all future missions calling for mirrors up to 16 m in diameter or larger will require a mirror that is deployed post-launch.

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Airbus Starts Orion Service Module Assembly

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A test version of ESA’s service module for NASA’s Orion spacecraft. (Credit: Airbus)

A test version of ESA’s service module for NASA’s Orion spacecraft. (Credit: Airbus)

TOULOUSE, France (Airbus PR) — Airbus Defence and Space, the world’s second largest space company, has started assembling the European Service Module (ESM), a key element of NASA’s next-generation Orion spacecraft that will transport astronauts into deep space for the first time since the end of the Apollo program.

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NIAC Focus: Directed Energy for Interstellar Flight

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Artist rendering of the Directed Energy Interstellar Study. (Credit: P. Lubin)

Artist rendering of the Directed Energy Interstellar Study. (Credit: P. Lubin)

Directed Energy Interstellar Study
NASA Innovative Advance Concepts Phase II Award

Philip Lubin
University of California, Santa Barbara

We propose to expand our investigations started in our NIAC Phase I of using directed energy to allow the achievement of relativistic flight to pave the way to the first interstellar missions. All of the current conventional propulsion systems are incapable of reaching the high speeds necessary to enable interstellar flight. Directed energy offers a path forward that, while difficult, is feasible. It is not an easy path and it does have many milestones to cross in order to get to the point of achieving the speeds needed.

Along the roadmap we propose are important and useful “waypoints” that both allow testing and feed back to the larger design but are also useful for many applications. The consequences of this program are truly transformative not only for achieving relativistic flight for small probes but also for larger spacecraft at lower speeds suitable for rapid interplanetary travel.

The Phase II work will consist of refining our roadmap and building and testing a small phased array prototype to test many of the concepts developed in the Phase I. We will also further our work on the wafer scale spacecraft design including work on the critical integrated laser communications system. We will also explore and test the inverse mode of using the array for reception which is critical to receiving the laser communications from the spacecraft.