Mitigating Lunar Dust: Masten Completes FAST Landing Pad Study

A spacecraft creates its own landing pad using the in-Flight Alumina Spray Technique system. (Credit: Masten Space Systems)

MOJAVE, Calif. (Masten Space Systems PR) — Landing on the Moon (and staying on the Moon) is no easy task. The lunar surface has limited sunlight, extremely cold temperatures, and lots and lots of dust (a.k.a. lunar regolith). But the good news is, Masten is up for the challenge!

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NASA Awards $500,000 in Break the Ice Lunar Challenge

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — As NASA prepares to go to the Moon with the Artemis program, in-situ resource utilization is paramount, and there is no hotter commodity than water. To that effect, 13 teams from across the United States have won a share of a $500,000 prize in a competition that asked for ideas for digging and hauling icy Moon “dirt” – or regolith.

NASA’s Break the Ice Lunar Challenge opened in November 2020, incentivizing new approaches for excavating resources astronauts will need during long-duration missions on the Moon. Water, one of the most important resources, is trapped in icy regolith at the Moon’s poles, inside permanently dark and cold craters.

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NASA, Partners Test 3D Printed Rocket Pad Designed by Artemis Generation Students

Credit: NASA

BASTROP, Texas (NASA PR) — A team of students from colleges and universities across the United States – members of the Artemis Generation – tested a 3D printed launch and landing pad to see how it holds up to a hot rocket engine March 6 at Camp Swift in Bastrop, Texas. The students’ design concept – called the Lunar Plume Alleviation Device, or Lunar PAD – aims to solve problems caused by lunar dust kicked up during launches and landings.  

The students first proposed the new design for a competitive proposal writing workshop led by the Office of the Chief Technologist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, and the L’SPACE Academy – the student collaboration project for NASA’s Lucy mission at Arizona State University in Tempe.

Credit: NASA

The team won funding to print and test a small-scale prototype with help from NASA’s Moon-to-Mars Planetary Autonomous Construction Technologies (MMPACT) project, Austin-based construction technologies startup ICON, and the Sounding Rocketry Team at Texas A&M University in College Station. 

Artemis is NASA’s robotic and human return to the Moon. Inspiring the next generation of explorers – the Artemis Generation – ensures America will continue to lead in space exploration and discovery. MMPACT is funded by NASA’s Game Changing Development Program.

NASA Selects 14 Early Stage Innovations from US Universities for R&D

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Each year NASA selects and funds a number of university researchers to mature game-changing space technologies. The multi-year research and development projects could help develop super-cold space refrigerators and innovate ways to deal with hazardous lunar dust, among other objectives.

In late 2020, NASA selected 14 university-led research proposals to study early-stage technologies relevant to these topics. Each selection will receive up to $650,000 in grants from NASA’s Space Technology Research Grants program over up to three years, giving the university teams the time and resources to iterate multiple designs and solutions.

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NASA Researcher Arrested for False Statements and Wire Fraud in Relation to China’s Talents Program

Texas A&M University Professor Working on U.S. Space Projects Allegedly Hid Affiliations with Chinese State Owned Academic and Commercial Institutions

WASHINGTON (DOJ PR) — A criminal complaint has been unsealed today, charging Zhengdong Cheng, 53, of College Station, Texas, for conspiracy, making false statements and wire fraud. 

Texas A&M University (TAMU) Professor Zhengdong Cheng is expected to make his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sam Sheldon today at 10 a.m. in Houston, Texas.  Authorities took him into custody Sunday, Aug. 23. 

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NASA Selects Two New Space Tech Research Institutes for Smart Habitats

Habitation concept interior. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — As exploration missions venture beyond low-Earth orbit and to the Moon — and eventually Mars — NASA must consider automated technologies to keep habitats operational even when they are not occupied by astronauts. To help achieve this, NASA has selected two new Space Technology Research Institutes (STRIs) to advance space habitat designs using resilient and autonomous systems.

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