NASA Space Technology Year in Review

Mars 2020 Lander Vision System flight tested aboard a Masten “Xombie” up to 1,066 feet on December 9, 2014 at Mojave Air and Space Port in California. (Credits: NASA Photo / Tom Tschida)
Mars 2020 Lander Vision System flight tested aboard a Masten “Xombie” up to 1,066 feet on December 9, 2014 at Mojave Air and Space Port in California. (Credits: NASA Photo / Tom Tschida)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) is dedicated to pushing the technological envelope, taking on challenges not only to further space agency missions near Earth, but also to sustain future deep space exploration activities.

“In 2016, we completed several major program milestones,” explains Steve Jurczyk, NASA associate administrator for STMD.

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Deep Space Optical Communications

A NASA JPL artist imagines a group of satellites around Mars providing navigation and communication for robots and humans down on the Red Planet, while a larger spacecraft ensures the Mars-Earth connection. (Credit: NASA)
A NASA JPL artist imagines a group of satellites around Mars providing navigation and communication for robots and humans down on the Red Planet, while a larger spacecraft ensures the Mars-Earth connection. (Credit: NASA)

By Denise M. Stefula

In May 2016, the Game Changing Development Program’s Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) project completed TRL 6 milestone testing on its key deliverable, an integrated deep-space flight laser transmitter assembly. Proposed on several Discovery missions, the technology undergoes a transition review in June and is expected to advance to NASA’s Technology Demonstration Missions (TDM) program.

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Q&A With NASA Space Technology Mission Directorate Chief Steve Jurczyk

Steve Jurczyk (Credit: NASA)
Steve Jurczyk (Credit: NASA)


WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Earlier this year, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden named Steve Jurczyk as the agency’s associate administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

Jurczyk and technology have long been linked given that his career began in 1988 at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. A skillful and well-recognized engineer, his talents led to key leadership positions at Langley including deputy center director prior to becoming center director.

During his tenure at Langley, Jurczyk shaped the direction of research and technology endeavors in a wide array of areas, from aerodynamics, aerothermodynamics and acoustics to structures, materials and airborne systems – all in support of NASA’s aeronautics, exploration systems, science and space operations. (more…)

NASA Selects 12 NIAC Phase I Projects for Funding

Titan submarine
Titan submarine

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 12 proposals for study under Phase I of the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program, which aims to turn science fiction into fact through pioneering technology development.

The selected proposals cover a wide range of imaginative concepts, including:

  • a submarine to explore the methane lakes of Titan;
  • using neutrinos to perform measurements for the icy moons of the outer planets; and,
  • a concept to safely capture a tumbling asteroid, space debris, and other applications.

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NASA’s STMD Helps Pave the Way to Mars

During its first free flight test at night, Morpheus (a Human Exploration and Operations MD project) tests NASA's ALHAT and an engine that runs on liquid oxygen and methane, which are green propellants. These capabilities could be used in the future to deliver cargo to planetary surfaces. (Credit: NASA)
During its first free flight test at night, Morpheus (a Human Exploration and Operations MD project) tests NASA’s ALHAT and an engine that runs on liquid oxygen and methane, which are green propellants. These capabilities could be used in the future to deliver cargo to planetary surfaces. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) is paving the way for future Mars exploration. The directorate is currently investing in and developing bold, disruptive technology required for future deep-space missions. This critical work leads a concerted effort throughout the agency, including at the program level and across multiple centers, as well as with partners in American industry.

“NASA remains committed to developing the critical technologies required to enable future exploration missions beyond low Earth orbit,” said Michael Gazarik, associate administrator for STMD. “Within STMD, we are focusing on creating advanced technologies that could lead to entirely new approaches for the needs of the agency’s future space missions, especially on Mars.”

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NASA Advanced Space Technology in 2013

NASA Ames engineers are building PhoneSats, demonstrating how "off the shelf" consumer devices can lead to new space exploration capabilities. (Credit:  NASA Ames Research Center/Dominic Hart)
NASA Ames engineers are building PhoneSats, demonstrating how “off the shelf” consumer devices can lead to new space exploration capabilities. (Credit:
NASA Ames Research Center/Dominic Hart)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) made major strides in 2013, pioneering new technologies and capabilities that added breadth to NASA’s tool kit, aiding current and future missions.

The directorate is engaged in nine major technology development programs that are underway at each of NASA’s ten field centers located across the United States.

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