Tag: NASA

Lots and Lots of Concerns About SLS & Orion

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Artist concept of the Block I configuration of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS). The SLS Program has completed its critical design review, and the program has concluded that the core stage of the rocket will remain orange along with the Launch Vehicle Stage Adapter, which is the natural color of the insulation that will cover those elements. (Credit: NASA)

Artist concept of the Block I configuration of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS). The SLS Program has completed its critical design review, and the program has concluded that the core stage of the rocket will remain orange along with the Launch Vehicle Stage Adapter, which is the natural color of the insulation that will cover those elements. (Credit: NASA)

The NASA Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) held a meeting on July 21 at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC. Below is the section of the meeting minutes that deals with the space agency’s Exploration Systems Development, which includes the Space Launch System (SLS), Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and related ground systems.
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Boeing CST-100 Conducts Touchdown Tests at NASA Langley

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Dirt flies out as the mock-up of a Boeing CST-100 Starliner lands as part of testing on the spacecraft's landing system including airbags designed to absorb the shock of impact. (Credit: NASA/Langley Research Center)

Dirt flies out as the mock-up of a Boeing CST-100 Starliner lands as part of testing on the spacecraft’s landing system including airbags designed to absorb the shock of impact. (Credit: NASA/Langley Research Center)

By Sasha Ellis,
NASA’s Langley Research Center, Virginia

Hoisted about 30 feet in the air, a mockup of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft awaits its encounter with a pad full of dirt.

“Three, two, one” projects over the loud speaker just before the spacecraft is released and makes a loud thud when meeting the dirt. Six attached airbags absorb much of the landing impact and stabilize the spacecraft.

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NASA Selects ULA’s Reliable Atlas V Rocket to Launch Mars 2020 Mission

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Atlas V liftoff (Credit: ULA)

Atlas V liftoff (Credit: ULA)

Centennial, Colo., Aug. 25, 2016 (ULA PR) – NASA’s Launch Services Program announced today that it selected United Launch Alliance’s (ULA’s) proven Atlas V vehicle to launch Mars 2020, its next robotic science rover. This award resulted from a competitive procurement under the NASA Launch Services contract.

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ASAP Update on NASA’s Commercial Crew Program

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The Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) held a meeting on July 21, 2016 at NASA’s headquarters in Washington, DC. Below is a summary of the status of the  Commercial Crew program and the Boeing and SpaceX vehicles, including top programmatic risks.

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Video: NASA Tests RS-25 Engine for Use on SLS

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Video Caption: The 7.5-minute test conducted at NASA’s Stennis Space Center is part of a series of tests designed to put the upgraded former space shuttle engines through the rigorous temperature and pressure conditions they will experience during a launch. The tests also support the development of a new controller, or “brain,” for the engine, which monitors engine status and communicates between the rocket and the engine, relaying commands to the engine and transmitting data back to the rocket.

COTS Hits the Big 1-0

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Cygnus approaches ISS (Credit: NASA)

Cygnus approaches ISS (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Ten years ago, on August 18, 2006, NASA announced agreements with two private companies that dramatically changed the way NASA does business and the landscape for the commercial space industry.

The announcement was rooted in long term trends dating back to the 1980s, but the immediate cause of this change can be traced to the report of the President’s Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy. In the wake of the Columbia accident in 2003, and the announcement of the Vision for Space Exploration by President Bush in early 2004, the Commission was tasked with coming up with recommendations about future space policy.

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NASA Selects 8 University Teams for Smallsat Tech Demos

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CubeSat

CubeSat

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected eight university teams to collaborate on the development and demonstration of new technologies and capabilities for small spacecraft. Each of the university teams will be working with engineers and scientists from NASA on two-year projects beginning this fall.

These collaborations are directed toward making small spacecraft, some of which weigh only a few kilograms, into powerful and affordable tools for science, exploration, and space operations. This is the third round of projects selected under the Smallsat Technology Partnerships initiative, managed by the Small Spacecraft Technology Program within NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD). Eight projects that were selected in 2015 are getting ready to begin their second year, and some of the projects selected in 2013 are preparing for space flight demonstrations.

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RL-10 Engine Tested for Boeing CST-100 Starliner Flight

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Steam billows from the engine test stand as the RL10 engine fires. (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)

Steam billows from the engine test stand as the RL10 engine fires.
(Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)

By Steven Siceloff
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida

A trio of NASA astronauts watched last Friday as engineers and technicians from Aerojet Rocketdyne fired one of the RL10 engines that will help power the first crewed flight test of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner as it flies into orbit on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

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Astronauts Install International Docking Adapter on Space Station

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Spacewalker Kate Rubins works outside the International Space Station with the SpaceX Dragon space freighter just below her. (Credit: NASA TV)

Spacewalker Kate Rubins works outside the International Space Station with the SpaceX Dragon space freighter just below her. (Credit: NASA TV)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Expedition 48 Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineer Kate Rubins concluded their spacewalk at 2:02 EDT. During the five-hour and 58-minute spacewalk, the two NASA astronauts successfully installed the first of two international docking adapters (IDAs).

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NAS: Many Goals Outlined in Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey Are Met, Others Delayed

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NASA LOGOWASHINGTON (NAS PR) – While scientists have made remarkable advancements in astronomy and astrophysics since the beginning of this decade – notably the first detection of gravitational waves and the discovery of distant Earth-like planets – unforeseen constraints have slowed progress toward reaching some of the priorities and goals outlined in the Academies’ 2010 decadal survey of these disciplines, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The report calls for NASA, National Science Foundation (NSF), and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) – the federal agencies largely responsible for funding and implementing these research activities – to maintain, and in some cases adjust, their programs in order to meet the survey’s scientific objectives.

The 2010 survey, New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics (NWNH), identified an array of scientific and technical projects for the next decade that would trace back the formation of the first stars and galaxies, seek out black holes, reveal nearby habitable planets, and advance understanding of the fundamental physics of the universe.  The new report is an assessment of the progress made thus far by NASA, NSF, and DOE on the suite of large-, medium-, and small-scale programs given priority in the survey, including NASA’s Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) and the NSF/DOE’s Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST).

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Russia Looking to Reduce ISS Crew Size

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ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Timothy Peake, NASA astronaut Timothy Kopra and Roscosmos cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko (front) are set to depart the International Space Station and return to Earth June 18, 2016. Russian cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin and NASA astronaut Jeff Williams (back) will be joined in July by NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, Russian cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin and Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. (Credit: NASA)

ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Timothy Peake, NASA astronaut Timothy Kopra and Roscosmos cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko (front) are set to depart the International Space Station and return to Earth June 18, 2016. Russian cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin and NASA astronaut Jeff Williams (back) will be joined in July by NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, Russian cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin and Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. (Credit: NASA)

Roscosmos is looking to reduce the size of Russian crew aboard the International Space Station (ISS) from three to two, Izvestiya reports.

“We sent a letter to the participants of the ISS program – we want to hear their views on how we reduce the crew and when, there are nuances,” Sergei Krikalev, director of manned programs of the state corporation Roscosmos told Izvestia. “We are interested in the opinion of the Mission Control Center, the Institute of Biomedical Problems (RAS lead agency on the subject of Human Spaceflight — Izvestiya), our ISS partners. The intention to reduce the crew due to the fact that we have reduced the number of cargo ships sent to the ISS, as well as awareness of the need to increase the effectiveness of the program.”

The story says Roscosmos’ budget for space station operations was reduced as part of a severe cut in the space program’s funding. Russia’s national budget has been under severe pressure due to a reduction in oil revenues and Western sanctions over its annexation of Crimea.

Another factor is that the three cosmonauts aboard the station apparently don’t have enough to do. This problem is a result of the severe quality control problems that  have bedeviled the Russian space program in recent years.

Russia had planned to expand its part of the station by adding the Multipurpose Laboratory Module (MLM) and two related modules to support it between 2013 and 2015. However, Khrunichev botched the job manufacturing the MLM. An inspection of the module after it was completed found debris in pipes and other flaws. Now, the launches are planned for 2018 and 2019.

“If you look at the original plan, we have assumed the launch multipurpose laboratory module for the International Space Station, and only then increase the crew,” Krikalev explained in an interview with Izvestiya. But MLM launch postponed several times, and the crew nevertheless increased. From my point of view, three people in the Russian segment, taking into account a set of equipment, which is now – it’s a bust.”

Reducing the crew size will free up seats on the Soyuz transport to carry space tourists, which would bring in funding for the hard-pressed space program. Russia has not been able to fly tourists since the American space shuttle retired in 2011, forcing the Soyuz to shoulder the entire burden of taking crews to the space station.

At a press conference earlier this week, NASA officials acknowledged they had received Russia’s proposal for the crew reduction.

“At this point it’s strictly a proposal they put on the table, and we’ll look at it,” said Kenny Todd, NASA’s space station operations integration manager. “As we do with all these kinds of things, we’ll trade it against whatever risk it might put into the program. First and foremost, the risk to our crew on board and the station itself. And then from there we start looking at the options and see what we can do as a partnership to try to either accommodate it, or help them realize why that’s a bad thing.”

NASA Prepares to Launch Asteroid Sample Return Mission

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The high gain antenna and solar arrays were installed on the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft prior to it moving to environmental testing (Credit: Lockheed Martin)

The high gain antenna and solar arrays were installed on the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft prior to it moving to environmental testing (Credit: Lockheed Martin)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA is preparing to launch its first mission to return a sample of an asteroid to Earth. The mission will help scientists investigate how planets formed and how life began, as well as improve our understanding of asteroids that could impact Earth.

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NASA to Air Rocket Engine Test on Thursday

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The RS-25 engine fires up for a 500-second test Jan. 9 at NASA's Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. (Credit: NASA)

The RS-25 engine fires up for a 500-second test Jan. 9 at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. (Credit: NASA)

NEW ORLEANS (NASA PR) — NASA is offering a behind-the-scenes look Thursday, Aug. 18, at its Journey to Mars, including the test of a rocket engine that will launch the agency to the Red Planet, with live coverage on social media, NASA Television and the agency’s website.

The day’s events begin at 9:30 a.m. EDT from NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, where the agency’s social media followers will have a conversation with NASA officials about the numerous efforts enabling exploration of the Red Planet. The public can ask questions during the live broadcast, which will air on NASA TV, using the hashtag #askNASA.

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NASA Asteroid Redirect Mission Completes Design Milestone as Cost Rises

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Asteroid Redirect Robotic Mission (Credit: NASA/AMA Studios)

Asteroid Redirect Robotic Mission (Credit: NASA/AMA Studios)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Following a key program review, NASA approved the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) to proceed to the next phase of design and development for the mission’s robotic segment. ARM is a two-part mission that will integrate robotic and crewed spacecraft operations in the proving ground of deep space to demonstrate key capabilities needed for NASA’s journey to Mars.

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Sierra Nevada Teams with ORBITEC, Aerojet Rocketdyne on NextSTEP-2 Habitat Work

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Concept image of Sierra Nevada Corporation's habitation prototype, based on its Dream Chaser cargo module. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

Concept image of Sierra Nevada Corporation’s habitation prototype, based on its Dream Chaser cargo module. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

SPARKS, Nev. (SNC PR) – Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has been selected to develop a deep space, long-duration, human habitat design and prototype for NASA. The partnership, under NASA’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships-2 (NextSTEP-2) Broad Agency Announcement, Appendix A, will allow SNC and its partners to use their experience to design a complete habitat system architecture and build a full-scale prototype for testing and evaluation.

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