KSC team delves into wearable tech in space

On his “smart” watch, David Miranda checks e-mail and appointments, dictates text messages and performs Google searches, among other tasks.

The accessory makes the Kennedy Space Center engineer an early adopter of “wearable technology” that one leading consumer electronics company predicts will emerge as a hot workplace trend this year .

But in “wearables” like the LG watch or Google Glass eye wear, Miranda and a group of colleagues see the potential for something more visionary: helping KSC workers do their jobs more safely and efficiently, and maybe someday also astronaut explorers.

*Source: FloridaToday.com

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Prof Awarded NASA Grant to Develop Building Blocks for Use in Space Missions

Mechanical engineering Asst. Prof. Christopher Hansen is one of seven young faculty researchers nationwide awarded a NASA Early Career Faculty Space Technology Research Grant. The program is designed to accelerate the development of innovative technologies originating from academia that address high-priority needs for America’s space program as well as other government agencies and the commercial flight industry. Hansen’s grant is worth approximately $579,000 spread over a period of three years.

*Source:UML.edu

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Child’s Toy Design Could Help Humans Get to Mars

HIAD-2

Devising a way to one day land astronauts on Mars is a complex problem and NASA scientists think something as simple as a child’s toy design may help solve the problem. Safely landing a large spacecraft on the Red planet is just one of many engineering challenges the agency faces as it eyes an ambitious goal of sending humans into deep space later this century.

At NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, engineers have been working to develop an inflatable heat shield that looks a lot like a super-sized version of a stacking ring of doughnuts that infants play with. The engineers believe a lightweight, inflatable heat shield could be deployed to slow the craft to enter a Martian atmosphere much thinner than Earth’s.

Such an inflatable heat shield could help a spacecraft reach the high-altitude southern plains of Mars and other areas that would otherwise be inaccessible under existing technology. The experts note that rockets alone can’t be used to land a large craft on Mars as can be done on the atmosphereless moon. Parachutes also won’t work for a large spacecraft needed to send humans to Mars, they add.

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*Source: ABC News

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X-Rays: Next-Gen Way to Travel and Talk in Space?

Galaxies

NASA scientists say they have figured out a way to use X-rays to both communicate with long-distance spacecraft, as well as navigate as they sail past the outer limits of the solar system.

They say that using X-rays is faster than existing radio wave communications, can carry more information and won’t be blocked when spacecraft enter a planet’s thick atmosphere.

“While we are using X-ray navigation to guide us to Pluto, we might also use X-ray communication to talk back to Earth,” said Keith Gendreau, principal investigator at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
 


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Source*: Discovery.com

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3-D Printed Engine Parts Withstand Hot Fire Tests

copper_chamber

Today’s innovations in science and technology are being driven by new capabilities in additive manufacturing. Also known as 3-D printing, this approach is changing the speed, cost and flexibility of designing and building future machines for space and earth applications.

NASA’s Game Changing Development Program in the Space Technology and Mission Directorate has been actively funding research in 3-D printing and co-funded a recent groundbreaking test series with Aerojet Rocketdyne (AR) at NASA’s Glenn Research Center. Recently, AR in partnership with NASA, successfully completed the first hot-fire tests on an advanced rocket engine thrust chamber assembly using copper alloy materials. This was the first time a series of rigorous tests confirmed that 3-D manufactured copper parts could withstand the heat and pressure required of combustion engines used in space launches.

 
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*Source: NASA.gov

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NASA aerospace engineer to discuss Mars and space program Nov. 20

A distinguished aerospace engineer will speak at Purdue to share her knowledge of landing humans on Mars and NASA’s approach to the future.

Michelle Munk, an aerospace engineer at NASA’s Langley Research Center, will speak during the presentation “From the Beach to Mars: One Engineer’s Journey” at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 20 in Armstrong Hall, Room B061.

Sponsored by the Women in Engineering program and the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the talk will focus on Munk’s 20-year career and her work on the mission to land a human on Mars.

Munk worked on the instrumentation of the heat shield on the Mars Science Laboratory. The MSL heat shield instrumentation was the most extensive ever sent to Mars. The data returned is vital to missions of the future.
Since 2013, Munk has been the principal investigator of entry, descent and landing technologies within NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. In this position, she coordinates NASA’s EDL investments across nine programs in the directorate.

Munk earned her bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from Virginia Tech University and has been a NASA employee for more than 26 years. She has won several NASA group and individual achievement awards, including the Space Flight Awareness Award and the NASA Exceptional Service Medal.

*Source: The Exponent Online

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NASA’s Massive Robotic Arm for Aerospace Applications

Researchers from NASA’s Langley Research Center have designed a huge robotic arm that collects spools of carbon fibers and moves in a preprogrammed pattern to arrange these fibers in a 40-foot long bed, to fabricate aerospace structures and parts.

The project known as the Integrated Structural Assembly of Advanced Composites (ISAAC) was sponsored by the NASA Langley’s Space Technology and Exploration Directorate, the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate and the Space Technology Mission Directorate.

The robot was actually manufactured by Washington-based Electroimpact, and hence physically moving the system to the Hampton, Virginia facility was a real challenge for the researchers. The robot carried in two 53-foot long covered trucks is now present at the NASA Langley’s Advanced Manufacturing and Flight Test Articles Development Laboratory.

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Towed Twin-Fuselage Glider Launch System First Test Flight Successful

NASA has successfully flight-tested a prototype twin-fuselage towed glider that could lead to rockets being launched from pilotless aircraft at high altitudes – a technology application that could significantly reduce the cost and improve the efficiency of sending small satellites into space. The first flights of the one-third-scale twin fuselage towed glider took place Oct. 21 from NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California.

The towed glider is an element of the novel rocket-launching concept of the Towed Glider Air-Launch System, or TGALS. NASA Armstrong researchers are developing the project, which is funded as a part of the Space Technology Mission Directorate’s Game Changing Development program.
The 27-foot-wingspan towed glider was towed behind the Dryden Remotely Operated Integrated Drone, or DROID, unmanned aircraft into the blue skies above Edwards Air Force Base. Minutes later the towline was released and the twin fuselage aircraft glided to a perfect landing on the dry lakebed.

After reviewing wind conditions and checking the systems of both aircraft, mission managers decided to go for a second flight. As with the first, the glider was towed behind the DROID, leveled out in flight and the glider was released for another free flight to the dry lakebed.

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NASA Is Studying How to Mine the Moon for Water

There’s a lot of water on the moon, and NASA wants to learn how to mine it.

Space agency scientists are developing two separate mission concepts to assess, and learn how to exploit, stores of water ice on the moon and other lunar resources. The projects — called Lunar Flashlight and the ResourceProspector Mission — are notionally targeted to blast off in 2017 and 2018, respectively, and aim to help humanity extend its footprint out into the solar system.

*Source: Space.com

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NASA Partners with Leading Technology Innovators to Enable Future Exploration

Recognizing that technology drives exploration, NASA has selected four teams of agency technologists for participation in the Early Career Initiative (ECI) pilot program. The program encourages creativity and innovation among early career NASA technologists by engaging them in hands-on technology development opportunities needed for future missions.

NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate created the ECI to enable a highly collaborative, joint-partnering work environment between the best and brightest NASA early career innovators and leading innovators in industry, academia and other government organizations.

*Source: Spaceref.com

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New commercial rocket descent data may help NASA with future Mars landings

Spacex

Thermal imagery of the Space X Falcon 9 first stage performing propulsive descent Sept. 21. Supersonic retropropulsion data obtained from this flight test is being analyzed by NASA to design future Mars landing systems. Credit: NASA

Washington, DC – NASA successfully captured thermal images of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on its descent after it launched in September from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The data from these thermal images may provide critical engineering information for future missions to the surface of Mars.

“Because the technologies required to land large payloads on Mars are significantly different than those used here on Earth, investment in these technologies is critical,” said Robert Braun, principal investigator for NASA’s Propulsive Descent Technologies (PDT) project and professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. “This is the first high-fidelity data set of a rocket system firing into its direction of travel while traveling at supersonic speeds in Mars-relevant conditions. Analysis of this unique data set will enable system engineers to extract important lessons for the application and infusion of supersonic retro-propulsion into future NASA missions.”

 

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*Source:Yumanewsnow.com

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Expert Panel Assesses Inflatable Spacecraft Tech

For most of us it’s hard to imagine that something that is inflated can survive the high heat and friction of space travel, especially atmospheric entry.

But a group of NASA engineers, primarily based at NASA’s Langley Research Center, have been working to develop inflatable spacecraft aeroshell technology for more than a decade.

“We have been eating, sleeping, dreaming this technology — in my case for six years,” said Anthony Calomino during a peer review of the Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator project. The project, which was part of the Space Technology Mission Directorate’s Game Changing Development Program, is wrapping up after three years.

HIAD Panel

Experts in the room and online listened as engineers talked about the progress made by the Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator team.

Some of the research and team are transitioning to the Terrestrial HIAD — Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator – Orbital Reentry, or THOR, flight test. That test is a Technology Demonstration Mission and also part of the Space Technology Mission Directorate.

Before HIAD moved forward the team wanted an outside assessment of its potential. “We [who have worked on HIAD] have a certain familiarity with it,” said Calomino. We wanted to have an independent group — a fresh set of eyes — looking at this technology.”

*Source: NASA.gov

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NASA, SpaceX Share Data On Supersonic Retropropulsion

Image Credit: NASA/Scifli Team/Applied Physics Laboratory Images

Image Credit: NASA/Scifli Team/Applied Physics Laboratory Images

An innovative partnership between NASA and SpaceX is giving the U.S. space agency an early look at what it would take to land multi-ton habitats and supply caches on Mars for human explorers, while providing sophisticated infrared (IR) imagery to help the spacecraft company develop a reusable launch vehicle.

After multiple attempts, airborne NASA and U.S. Navy IR tracking cameras have captured a SpaceX Falcon 9 in flight as its first stage falls back toward Earth shortly after second-stage ignition and then reignites to lower the stage toward a propulsive “zero-velocity, zero-altitude” touchdown on the sea surface.

 

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*Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology

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NASA-Boeing Team Wins Big at Advanced Materials Expo

Advanced Materials Expo

NASA Project Manager John Vickers and Boeing Program Manager Dan Rivera accept the Combined Strength Award for Composites Excellence for the Composite Cryogenic Technology Demonstration at the Composites and Advanced Materials Expo in Orlando, Fla.
Image Credit: NASA

On Tuesday, October 14, NASA and Boeing received the Combined Strength Award for composites excellence (ACE) for their work in composite cryotanks during the Composites and Advanced Materials Expo (CAMX) in Orlando, Fla. CAMX is the largest composites industry trade show and conference held in North America.

The award was given to the Composite Cryogenic Technology Demonstration (CCTD) project for utilizing innovative manufacturing and design techniques to build the largest composite liquid hydrogen fuel tank built out of autoclave. The project, funded by the NASA Space Technology Mission Directorate’s Game Changing Development Program, has led to a potential 30 percent weight savings and a 25 percent cost savings, allowing insertion of higher mass payloads to low Earth orbit and beyond.

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*Source: NASA.gov

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New Commercial Rocket Descent Data May Help NASA with Future Mars Landings

NASA successfully captured thermal images of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on its descent after it launched in September from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The data from these thermal images may provide critical engineering information for future missions to the surface of Mars.  Image Credit: NASA

NASA successfully captured thermal images of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on its descent after it launched in September from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The data from these thermal images may provide critical engineering information for future missions to the surface of Mars. Image Credit: NASA

NASA successfully captured thermal images of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on its descent after it launched in September from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The data from these thermal images may provide critical engineering information for future missions to the surface of Mars.

“Because the technologies required to land large payloads on Mars are significantly different than those used here on Earth, investment in these technologies is critical,” said Robert Braun, principal investigator for NASA’s Propulsive Descent Technologies (PDT) project and professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. “This is the first high-fidelity data set of a rocket system firing into its direction of travel while traveling at supersonic speeds in Mars-relevant conditions. Analysis of this unique data set will enable system engineers to extract important lessons for the application and infusion of supersonic retro-propulsion into future NASA missions.”

NASA equipped two aircraft with advanced instrumentation to document re-entry of the rocket’s first stage. The first stage is the part of the rocket that is ignited at launch and burns through the rocket’s ascent until it runs out of propellant, at which point it is discarded from the second stage and returns to Earth. During its return, or descent, NASA captured quality infrared and high definition images and monitored changes in the smoke plume as the engines were turned on and off.

 


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*Source: NASA.gov

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Aerojet Rocketdyne Successfully Tests Thrust Chamber Assembly Using Copper Alloy Additive Manufacturing Technology

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Oct. 17, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — NASA and Aerojet Rocketdyne, a GenCorp (NYSE:GY) company, successfully completed a series of hot-fire tests on an advanced rocket engine Thrust Chamber Assembly (TCA) using copper alloy additive manufacturing technology. This testing, conducted for the first time in the industry, was done with cooperation between Aerojet Rocketdyne, NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate Game-Changing Development Program and NASA’sGlenn Research Center under a Space Act Agreement.

“This work represents another major milestone in the integrated development and certification of the materials characterization, manufacturing processes, analysis and design-tool technologies that are required to successfully implement Selective Laser Melting for critical rocket engine components,” said Jay Littles, director of Advanced Launch Programs at Aerojet Rocketdyne. “Aerojet Rocketdyne continues to expand the development of novel material and design solutions made possible through additive manufacturing, which will result in more efficient engines at lower costs. We are working a range of additive manufacturing implementation paths – from affordability and performance enhancement to legacy products such as the RL10 upper stage engine. We also are applying the technology to next-generation propulsion systems, including the Bantam Engine family, as well as our new large, high performance booster engine, the AR1.”

*Source: Nasdaq.com

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NASA’s Free Flying Robot Challenge

NASA’s Free Flying Robot Challenge

NASA’s Free Flying Robot Challenge

In 2017, NASA is aiming to launch a robot that will be used on-board the International Space Station (ISS). The robot has been tentatively called the “Free Flying Robot”. Not that catchy, right?

So here’s where NASA needs your help – we need the Topcoder community to help design a custom mission patch AND develop a name for the Free Flying Robot.

So what is a Free Flying Robot? It’s a robot that is capable of functioning autonomously, but can also be controlled by a flight crew on-board the ISS or from Earth. It can conduct zero gravity robotics experiments, carry mobile sensors such as an RFID reader for logging inventory & inspect items using a built in camera

Currently on the ISS there are robotic devices called “SPHERES” (Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites), and the new Free Flyer Robot program is being seen as a step forward in the use of robotic devices in spaceflight.

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3D Printer Headed to Space Station

It’s not quite the replicator of Star Trek fame—but it’s seemingly a step in that direction.

The first 3D printer is soon to fly into Earth orbit, finding a home aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The size of a small microwave, the unit is called Portal. The hardware serves as a ted bed for evaluating how well 3D printing and the microgravity of space combine. Its use in space signals an new era of off-world manufacturing.

The foundation for 3D printing is also known as “additive manufacturing,” which has been evolving for more than three decades. The technology has picked up speed more recently due to new materials and new applications.

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SpaceX Alum Goes After Falcon 1 Market With Firefly

As entrepreneurial “New Space” grows up, veterans of its early days are finding innovative ways to tackle old problems and enter emerging markets that did not exist when their industry was an infant—a decade ago.

Thomas E. Markusic, a propulsion engineer who cut his New Space teeth running Elon Musk’s flight-test center in Texas and later held senior posts at Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin, has kicked off a startup called Firefly Space Systems that is developing a low-cost Falcon 1-class launch vehicle to launch small satellites using a methane-fueled aerospike engine and composite cryotanks.

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World’s First 3D Printer in Space Will Launch This Month

Above: Mike Snyder and Jason Dunn of Made In Space work on construction of the 3D printer in the company’s cleanroom. Credit: Made In Space

The first 3D printer ever to fly in space will blast off this month, and NASA has high hopes for the innovative device’s test runs on the International Space Station.

The 3D printer, which is scheduled to launch toward the orbiting lab Sept. 19 aboard SpaceX’s unmanned Dragon cargo capsule, could help lay the foundation for broader in-space manufacturing capabilities, NASA officials said. The end result could be far less reliance on resupply from Earth, leading to cheaper and more efficient missions to faraway destinations such as Mars.

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Technology Day Puts NASA Langley’s Work on Display for All to See

Technology Days
It’s not often that the researchers from NASA’s Langley Researcher Center gather in one spot at the same time to show off their work to the public.

But on July 15, a bunch NASA Langley researchers packed up their cutting-edge technologies, headed over to the Virginia Air & Space Center and did exactly that.

More than two-dozen exhibits filled the Air & Space Center’s two floors as part of NASA Langley’s Technology Day. The event put some of NASA Langley’s coolest, most exciting technologies front and center for visitors to see and experience first hand.

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STMD: Advancing NASA’s Path to Mars

2014-2705_0NASA’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.”

Source: NASA.gov

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NASA Completes Successful Battery of Tests on Composite Cryotank

NASA has completed a complex series of tests on one of the largest composite cryogenic fuel tanks ever manufactured, bringing the aerospace industry much closer to designing, building, and flying lightweight, composite tanks on rockets.

“This is one of NASA’s major technology accomplishments for 2014,” said Michael Gazarik, NASA’s associate administrator for Space Technology. “This is the type of technology that can improve competitiveness for the entire U.S. launch industry, not to mention other industries that want to replace heavy metal components with lightweight composites. These tests, and others we have conducted this year on landing technologies for Mars vehicles, show how technology development is the key to driving exploration.”

The demanding series of tests on the 18-foot (5.5-meter) diameter tank were conducted inside a test stand at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Engineers added structural loads to the tank to replicate the physical stresses launch vehicles experience during flight.

 
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*Source: NASA.gov

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NASA Selects Proposals for Advanced Energy Storage Systems

The Scarab lunar rover is one of the next generation of autonomous robotic rovers that will be used to explore dark polar craters at the lunar south pole. The rover is powered by a 100-watt fuel cell developed under the Space Power Systems Project under Game Changing Development program. Supported by NASA, the rover is being developed by the Robotics Institute of Carnegie Mellon University. Image Credit: Carnegie Mellon University

NASA has selected four proposals for advanced energy storage technologies that may be used to power the agency’s future space missions.

Development of these new energy storage devices will help enable NASA’s future robotic and human-exploration missions and aligns with conclusions presented in the National Research Council’s “NASA Space Technology Roadmaps and Priorities,” which calls for improved energy generation and storage “with reliable power systems that can survive the wide range of environments unique to NASA missions.” NASA believes these awards will lead to such energy breakthroughs.

“NASA’s advanced space technology development doesn’t stop with hardware and instruments for spacecraft,” said Michael Gazarik, associate administrator for Space Technology at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “New energy storage technology will be critical to our future exploration of deep space — whether missions to an asteroid, Mars or beyond. That’s why we’re investing in this critical mission technology area.”

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Smartphone Advances Drive Smallsats

Spheres

Terrestrial smartphone technology, based in part on government space research, is finding its way back into space as low-cost, rapidly evolving processors, cameras, GPS receivers and other gear used in bulk by the burgeoning smallsat movement.

In California’s Silicon Valley, where the lifetime of a state-of-the-art smartphone is about one year, engineers at NASA’s Ames Research Center have literally been plugging smartphones into spacecraft to get the most capable hardware into space quickly.


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*Source: AviationWeek.com

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NASA’s Space Tech Chief Offers Students a Glimpse of the Future

The man leading the charge to solve some of NASA’s biggest and most vexing technical problems offered an invitation to bright young people.

Let’s go places together — like Mars, for instance.

Michael Gazarik, the associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, spoke to a group of about 160 college and high school students on July 18, giving them insights, words of encouragement and a fast-paced, energetic look at the daring goals his team is pursuing.

*Source: NASA.gov

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Technology Day Puts NASA Langley’s Work on Display for All to See

It’s not often that the researchers from NASA’s Langley Researcher Center gather in one spot at the same time to show off their work to the public.

But on July 15, a bunch NASA Langley researchers packed up their cutting-edge technologies, headed over to the Virginia Air & Space Center and did exactly that.

More than two-dozen exhibits filled the Air & Space Center’s two floors as part of NASA Langley’s Technology Day. The event put some of NASA Langley’s coolest, most exciting technologies front and center for visitors to see and experience first hand.

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Emmy Award Winning Production Features NASA Glenn

A NASA video program about how new methods of power and propulsion are being developed and featuring employees and facilities at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, recently was recognized with a regional Emmy Award.

Kevin Krigsvold and Michael Bibbo, producers of NASA X, won the award for “Power and Propulsion” in the category of Informational/Instructional—Program/Special. The prestigious award was part of a ceremony held June 14 at the Fillmore Silver Spring by The National Capital Chesapeake Bay Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

NASA X, a television program and vodcast that highlights new and emerging technologies at NASA, operates out of NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

*Source: NASA.gov

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First LDSD Test Flight a Success

Hours after the June 28, 2014, test of NASA's Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator over the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range, the saucer-shaped test vehicle is lifted aboard the Kahana recovery vessel. Image Credit:  NASA/JPL-Caltech

Hours after the June 28, 2014, test of NASA’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator over the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range, the saucer-shaped test vehicle is lifted aboard the Kahana recovery vessel. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA representatives participated in a media teleconference this morning to discuss the June 28, 2014 near-space test flight of the agency’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD), which occurred off the coast of the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii.

A high-altitude balloon launch occurred at 8:45 a.m. HST (11:45 a.m. PDT/2:45 p.m. EDT) from the Hawaiian island facility. At 11:05 a.m. HST (2:05 p.m. PDT/5:05 p.m. EDT), the LDSD test vehicle dropped away from the balloon as planned and began powered flight. The balloon and test vehicle were about 120,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean at the time of the drop. The vehicle splashed down in the ocean at approximately 11:35 a.m. HST (2:35 p.m. PDT/5:35 p.m. EDT), after the engineering test flight concluded. The test vehicle hardware, black box data recorder and parachute were all recovered later in the day.

“We are thrilled about yesterday’s test,” said Mark Adler, project manager for LDSD at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “The test vehicle worked beautifully, and we met all of our flight objectives. We have recovered all the vehicle hardware and data recorders and will be able to apply all of the lessons learned from this information to our future flights.”


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Source*: NASA.gov

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Administrator Bolden Visits Company Rolling Out New Solar Array Technology

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden got a firsthand look at work being done on high power Roll Out Solar Arrays (ROSA) during a visit to the Deployable Space Systems’ (DSS) facility in Goleta, Calif. on Tuesday, July 1.

Bolden and DSS President Brian Spence toured the facility where the advanced large solar array system is being developed. The testing of the DSS array is a major milestone toward development of a new solar electric power system that will generate the high power needed for extending human presence throughout the solar system.

*Source: NASA.gov

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NASA’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator Test Flight Hailed as a Success

NASA has declared its Saturday, June 28, test flight of the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) a resounding success despite an issue with its parachute deployment. This vehicle, which has been popularly characterized as resembling the “flying saucer” of old science fiction lore, is meant to help the agency with its future goal of deploying large payloads to the surface of Mars. The test flight took place off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii, adjacent to the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility.

*Source:AmericaSpace

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International Space Station Being Used As A Technology Test Bed

The International Space Station is critically important to NASA’s future exploration missions. The orbiting outpost provides a platform to test technologies in a long-duration weightless environment; conditions which are impractical to replicate on Earth. NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate is utilizing the space station as a test bed for multiple game-changing technology demonstrations.

“The International Space Station is our national laboratory for foundational space technology development,” said Dr. Michael Gazarik, Associate Administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate. “The new technologies we fly and test on the station will help create the new capabilities needed for our Asteroid Initiative and our Evolvable Mars Campaign. The International Space Station is an innovation incubator for the advanced space technology that will get us to Mars, and beyond.”

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Robots Will Pave the Way to Mars

The first robot capable of building anything including a replica of itself, might cost a fortune to develop; the billionth copy would be as cheap as dirt. Send some of them into space and they could build new armies out of planetary rubble and dust, then go on to construct enough spaceships and refueling stations to carry the human race to other planets and, eventually, other stars.

That’s the scenario laid out some 35 years ago by a team of academics and NASA engineers meeting at the University of Santa Clara, in California. They envisioned robotic factories that would cover the moon and exploit the asteroid belt, extracting the resources needed to build more and better versions of themselves and also vast orbiting telescopes, space colonies, and other structures too big to launch from Earth. Over time, the researchers wrote, these bots could “produce an ever-widening habitat for man throughout the Solar System” and beyond it. The approach could become so successful, they warned, that we might have to worry about robotic population control.

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STMD: Advancing NASA’s Path to Mars

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.”

Source: NASA.gov

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How NASA tech makes an impact in your daily life

Space Technology NASA Banner

NASA suffers from an interesting problem: It gets credit for things it didn’t do and doesn’t get credit for things it did do. The public knows that the investment in space and space technologies brings about innovations that improve our daily lives. An understanding of what those technologies are, however, is something that is often elusive. NASA is often mistakenly credited with inventing commonplace consumer products to which it had either tangential connections or no connections — certainly not an enabling connection. Meanwhile, the real stories of NASA’s technological achievements are often unknown.

 
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*Source: Reformer.com

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A father-son chat leads to first-of-its-kind NASA spacecraft

(CNN) — The human imagination is an amazing thing. Take for example the story of how a simple father-and-son chat led to a prototype spacecraft for landing on other planets.

One Friday evening in 2009, NASA engineer Stephen Altemus arrived home from work feeling, well, kind of frustrated.

Altemus, who was chief engineer at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, believed the agency was under “incredible pressure and scrutiny” for allegedly high budget costs. NASA’s ambitious Constellation program to develop a next-generation rocket was about to be canceled.

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Powering A Manned Mission To Mars

One of the greatest challenges of any space mission is creating enough power to operate it. While gasoline powered engines suffice on Earth, there are no refueling stations in space.

A potential solution is to harness the power of the Sun using solar panels, or even solar sails. But this is not always possible for various reasons. So researchers have begun designing highly efficient power plants, called Stirling Engines, which use the heat from radioactive decay and convert that energy into electricity.

(Source:RedOrbit.com)

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NASA Langley part of new space tech research

April 17, 2014 | By Tamara Dietrich, tdietrich@dailypress.com

 

The technologies needed to get humans deeper into space and safely on another planet are continuing apace, and will take financial commitments for years to come, a NASA official says.

But NASA’s partnerships with industry and academia to develop and hone those technologies will also reap benefits on this planet, as well, he said.

“A deep-space exploration mission is, in some ways, imminent,” Michael Gazarik said Wednesday in a conference call with reporters to give updates on developing technologies and upcoming missions that will eventually enable manned exploration — to an asteroid, Mars or the moon of another planet.

Gazarik is the associate administrator for space technology at NASA headquarters. The broad umbrella of his Space Technology Mission Directorate includes the Game Changing Development Office at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, headed up by Steve Gaddis.

Gaddis helped spotlight some of those game-changing technologies Tuesday when Sen. Tim Kaine visited the center for an informational tour. There, Kaine said he was committed to NASA’s proposed $17.5 billion budget for fiscal year 2015, and even to see it increased in future. Read more (+)

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A Step Up for NASA’s Robonaut: Ready for Climbing Legs

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Getting your “space legs” in Earth orbit has taken on new meaning for NASA’s pioneering Robonaut program.

Thanks to a successful launch of the SpaceX-3 flight of the Falcon 9/Dragon capsule on Friday, April 18, the lower limbs for Robonaut 2 (R2) are aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Safely tucked inside the Dragon resupply vehicle, R2’s legs are to be attached by a station crew member to Robonaut’s torso already on the orbiting outpost.

R2’s upper body arrived on the space station back in February 2011 during the last flight of the space shuttle Discovery. That event signaled the first human-like robot to arrive in space to become a permanent resident of the laboratory.

Jointly developed by NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations and Space Technology mission directorates in cooperation with with General Motors, R2 showcases how a robotic assistant can work alongside humans, whether tasks are done in space or on Earth in a manufacturing facility.

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Source:* NASA.gov

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NASA’s space station Robonaut finally getting legs

By MARCIA DUNN, AP Aerospace Writer | April 19, 2014

robotLEGS2

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs.

For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot — now stuck on a pedestal — is going mobile at the International Space Station.

“Legs are going to really kind of open up the robot’s horizons,” said Robert Ambrose from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

It’s the next big step in NASA’s quest to develop robotic helpers for astronauts. With legs, the 8-foot Robonaut will be able to climb throughout the 260-mile-high outpost, performing mundane cleaning chores and fetching things for the human crew.

The robot’s gangly, contortionist-bending legs are packed aboard a SpaceX supply ship that launched Friday, more than a month late. It was the private company’s fourth shipment to the space station for NASA and is due to arrive Easter Sunday morning.


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Source:* Chron.com

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In space, recycled urine has many uses

Astronauts have already gotten used to the idea of drinking their recycled urine. A new device could potentially use waste water for both drinking and for fuel. Photo by Flickr user European Space Agency.

Astronauts have already gotten used to the idea of drinking their recycled urine. A new device could potentially use waste water for both drinking and for fuel.
Photo by Flickr user European Space Agency.

Recycled urine is something astronauts are already psychologically prepared to consume when they go to outer space. But a new report published in the ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering journal suggests that rather than releasing wasted urine into space, scientist are working on a new technique that can convert the urine into drinking water and fuel.

The reasoning behind this? Cost. Due to the high cost of delivering supplies to space, the recovery of potable water from spacecraft wastewater is critical for life support of crewmembers, the report said.

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(*Source: ” target=”_blank”>PBS.org)

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NASA Astronauts Will Breathe Easier With New Oxygen Recovery Systems

For NASA’s long-duration human spaceflight missions, travelers will need to recycle as much breathable oxygen in their spacecraft environments, as possible. To turn that need into a reality, NASA is seeking proposals for lightweight, safe, efficient and reliable systems for regenerating oxygen on future human exploration missions.

The first of two phases of this new NASA solicitation will consist of a detailed design, development, fabrication, and testing of an advanced oxygen recovery technology. Under a two year Phase II contract, the proposer then will develop a prototype hardware system, capable of an oxygen recovery rate of at least 75 percent.

(*Source:NASA.gov)

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NASA Engineers Prepare Game Changing Cryotank for Testing

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NASA and Boeing engineers are inspecting and preparing one of the largest composite rocket propellant tanks ever manufactured for testing. The composite cryotank is part of NASA’s Game Changing Development Program and Space Technology Mission Directorate, which is innovating, developing, testing and flying hardware for use in NASA’s future missions. NASA focused on this technology because composite tanks promise a 30 percent weight reduction and a 25 percent cost savings over the best metal tanks used today. The outer shell of the 18-foot-diameter (5.5-meter) cryotank is the same size as propellant tanks used on today’s full-size rockets.

 
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*Source: NASA.gov

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NASA Looks to Go Beyond Batteries for Space Exploration

NASA is seeking proposals for the development of new, more capable, energy storage technologies to replace the battery technology that has long powered America’s space program.

The core technologies solicited in the Wednesday call for proposals will advance energy storage solutions for the space program and other government agencies, such as the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E) through ongoing collaboration with NASA and industry.

*(Source: NASA.gov)

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Astronaut Ready to Take 3D Printing Into the Final Frontier

Above: A 3D printer developed by Made in Space will fly to the International Space Station. IMAGE CREDIT: Miriam Kramer/SPACE.com.

One NASA astronaut launching to the International Space Station in May is ready to 3D print in space.

Astronaut Reid Wiseman, bound for the station in May, is eager to use the first 3D printer in space this summer. Wiseman, flying into space for the first time as a member of the Expedition 40/41 crew, thinks that the implications for 3D printing in space are exciting and far-reaching.

“Imagine if Apollo 13 had a 3D printer,” Wiseman said in a news conference this month. “Imagine if you’re going to Mars and instead of packing along 20,000 spare parts, you pack along a few kilograms of ink. Now, you don’t even need to know what part is going to break, you can just print out that part. Let’s say your screwdriver strips out halfway to Mars and you need a screwdriver, print out a screwdriver. Really, I think for the future, that’s pretty fascinating. I really like that and it’ll be fun to play with that on orbit.” Read more (+).

See the video: Space Station 3D Printer Slated To Launch This Summer.

See the photo gallery: 3D Printing In Space: A New Dimension.

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Next-gen battery collaboration to develop ‘beyond lithium-ion space’ in space

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(Source: The American Ceramic Society)

There are few situations in life where two aren’t better than one.

So the recently announced collaboration between the Department of Energy’s Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR), located at Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), and NASA Glenn Research Center spells good things for batteries, which are poised to receive a double-dose of expertise from two of the country’s top research entities.

Together, “JCER’s deep knowledge of the basic science in energy storage research with NASA Glenn’s expertise engineering battery technology with aerospace applications” will spark the development of “next-generation batteries” (i.e., not lithium-ion) that will certainly make their way to space.

“The beyond lithium-ion space is rich with opportunity and mostly unexplored,” says George Crabtree, director of JCESR, in an ANL press release. “In this collaboration, JCESR will share fundamental research results with NASA, enabling them to develop technologies that benefit the space program and, ultimately, society as a whole through commercialization opportunities with a wide range of applications.”

 
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*Source: The American Ceramic Society

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NASA Marshall Kicks Off Game Changing Composite Cryotank Testing

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., is set to begin a series of structural and pressure tests on one of the largest composite cryogenic fuel tanks ever manufactured. Advanced composite cryotanks will help enable NASA’s future deep space exploration missions.

Media are invited to view the unloading of the 18-foot-diameter (5.5-meter) composite cryotank from NASA’s Super Guppy aircraft on March 27 at 7 a.m. CDT at Redstone Army Airfield. In addition, journalists are invited to interview John Vickers, NASA project manager, Composite Cryotank Technology Demonstration (CCTD), and Dan Rivera, Boeing program manager for CCTD.

For more than 50 years, metal tanks have carried fuel to launch rockets and propelled them into space. NASA is pursuing composite cryogenic fuel tanks, a potentially game-changing technology, because the tanks could yield significant cost and weight reductions on future launch vehicles. Once installed in Marshall’s test facility, the composite cryotank will undergo a series of tests at extreme pressures and temperatures, similar to those experienced during spaceflight.

 
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*Source: NASA.gov

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NASA’s Super Guppy Makes a Special Delivery

NASA’s Super Guppy, a wide-bodied cargo aircraft, landed at the Redstone Army Airfield near Huntsville, Ala. on March 26 with a special delivery: an innovative composite rocket fuel tank. The tank was manufactured at the Boeing Developmental Center in Tukwila, Wash. The tank will be unloaded from the Super Guppy, which has a hinged nose that opens and allows large cargos like the tank to be easily unloaded. After the tank is removed from the Super Guppy, it will be inspected and prepared for testing at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. The composite tank project is part of the Game Changing Development Program and NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate. Image credit: NASA/MSFC/Emmett Given

NASA’s Super Guppy, a wide-bodied cargo aircraft, landed at the Redstone Army Airfield near Huntsville, Ala. on March 26 with a special delivery: an innovative composite rocket fuel tank. The tank was manufactured at the Boeing Developmental Center in Tukwila, Wash. The tank will be unloaded from the Super Guppy, which has a hinged nose that opens and allows large cargos like the tank to be easily unloaded. After the tank is removed from the Super Guppy, it will be inspected and prepared for testing at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. The composite tank project is part of the Game Changing Development Program and NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate.
Image credit: NASA/MSFC/Emmett Given

› Alternate view #1
› Alternate view #2
› Flickr: Super Guppy and Cryotank

 
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*Source: NASA.gov

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Engineers Building Hard-working Mining Robot

Mining Robots

After decades of designing and operating robots full of scientific gear to study other worlds, NASA is working on a prototype that leaves the delicate instruments at home in exchange for a sturdy pair of diggers and the reliability and strength to work all day, every day for years.

Think of it as a blue collar robot.

Dubbed RASSOR, for Regolith Advanced Surface Systems Operations Robot and pronounced “razor,” the autonomous machine is far from space-ready, but the earliest design has shown engineers the broad strokes of what their lunar soil excavator needs in order to operate reliably.

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Source*: NASA.gov

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LVAC: Advancing the Technology Readiness Of SLS Adaptive Controls

NASA Armstrong’s highly modified F/A-18A Full Scale Advanced Systems Testbed aircraft No. 853 validated the effectiveness of the Adaptive Augmenting Controller developed by NASA Marshall engineers for the Space Launch System.
Image Credit: NASA / Carla Thomas

Can a rocket maneuver like an airplane?

And can an airplane act as a surrogate for a maneuvering rocket?

NASA engineers demonstrated just that when they used a NASA F/A-18 aircraft recently to simulate a rocket in its early flight phase to test adaptive software for NASA’s new rocket the Space Launch System (SLS), the largest, most powerful launch vehicle for deep space missions.

The tests are helping engineers working on the development of the SLS at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., ensure the rocket can adjust to the environment it faces as it makes its way to space. Read more (+)

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Tanks for a great idea

(Source: Boeing)

Humankind’s fascination with space helped put a man on the moon and satellites into orbit. It’s the same wonderment that currently captures the imagination of Boeing engineers, who are designing and building innovative technologies to enable new explorations into the Final Frontier.

Working under contract with NASA’s Space Technology Game Changing Development Program, Boeing has designed and built two composite liquid-hydrogen fuel tanks for heavy-lift launch vehicles and other future air and space missions.

Final assembly just wrapped up on the larger (5.5-meter) tank at the Boeing Developmental Center in Tukwila, Wash. Next week, the tank will be loaded onto the NASA Super Guppy, a large, wide-bodied cargo aircraft, and transported to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., for testing. This forthcoming test follows Boeing and NASA successfully testing a 2.4-meter composite tank at Marshall last year. These tanks promise a 30 percent weight reduction and 25 percent cost savings over the state of the art metallic tanks used today.

Dan Rivera, the cryotank program manager within Boeing Research & Technology, the company’s advanced R&D organization, said Boeing and NASA’s work has truly game-changing potential for the future of space exploration. The teams’ innovation provides both weight and cost savings, a combination that’s hard to find, Rivera said.

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Move Over Heavy Metal, There’s A New Tank Coming To Town

(Source: Marshall Space Flight Center)
For more than 50 years, metal tanks have carried fuel to launch rockets and propel them into space, but one of the largest composite tanks ever manufactured may change all that. This spring, that tank–known as the composite cryotank–is set to undergo a series of tests at extreme pressures and temperatures similar to those experienced during spaceflight.

“NASA focused on this technology because composite cryogenic tanks promise a 30 percent weight reduction and a 25 percent cost savings over the best metal tanks used today,” said Michael Gazarik, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. “It costs thousands of dollars to deliver a pound of cargo to space, so lighter tanks could be a game changer allowing rockets to carry more cargo, more affordably.”

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NASA’s Robonaut Legs Headed for International Space Station

Robonaut 2 (R2) is having its legs tested on the ground while the rest of the robot is undergoing experimental trial on the ISS. The legs will provide mobility necessary for tasks inside and out of Space Station.

NASA’s built and is sending a set of high-tech legs up to the International Space Station for Robonaut 2 (R2), the station’s robotic crewmember. The new legs will be delivered to the space station aboard the SpaceX-3 cargo resupply mission, due to launch March 16 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

These new legs, funded by NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations and Space Technology mission directorates, will provide R2 the mobility it needs to help with regular and repetitive tasks inside and outside the space station. The goal is to free up the crew for more critical work, including scientific research.

 
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*Source: NASA.gov

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Collaboration Key to Successful Technology “Push”

Bill Farr

Above, former DSOC Project Manager Bill Farr in his lab at NASA’s JPL. Credit: NASA

The Lunar Laser Communications Demonstration (LLCD) mission made history in October 2013 when it succeeded in transferring data at 622 Megabits per second, a rate six times that of comparable radio frequency systems, like going from dial up to a high-speed Internet connection. But this technological achievement in laser communications was at risk had it not been for the “push” researchers experienced when an important component, a photodiode detector, failed to perform as necessary during testing.

In the world of emerging technologies, a “push” is any activity attempting to expand on advancements to current challenges or limitations. Within NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD), projects like Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) seek to do just that. When LLCD was faced with the detector failure, a potential replacement was identified—one with a challenge: it was still under development with DSOC.

The LLCD experiment, now well known for its achievement, launched onboard the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on September 6, 2013. A series of LLCD experiments began in late September with the first successful downlink from LADEE on September 28, just before LADEE reached lunar orbit. LLCD mission operations began in mid-October, and by October 21 six links were successfully completed.

Getting to that successful point, however, was not a straightforward path and required numerous collaborative efforts among individuals and organizations across NASA and industry.

The Lunar Lasercom Ground Terminal at White Sands, New Mexico. Credit: MIT

The Lunar Lasercom Ground Terminal at White Sands, New Mexico. Credit: MIT

Early in the mission life cycle, it became evident that there was a high probability of limited or no communications link opportunities for the LADEE launch due to clouds or inclement weather during the monsoon season at the optical ground station at White Sands Center in New Mexico. NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) Office stepped in by funding a back-up ground station at the NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Optical Communications Telescope Laboratory. The JPL back-up ground station project is referred to as LLOT, or the Lunar Lasercom OCTL Terminal. The JPL ground station has a telescope specifically designed for space optical communications experiments. The back-up station project required a demonstration only at the lowest downlink rate of 39 Mb/s. During early testing of that capability, the baselined commercial intensified photodiode detector failed to adequately detect data at 39 Mb/s.

The need to overcome this limitation was clear; fortunately the answer was already in the works.

LADEE

The optical module of the Lunar Laser Communication Demo’s Space Terminal aboard LADEE during environmental testing. Credit: NASA

Back in the summer of 2011, under SCaN funding, Bill Farr and Jeff Stern of JPL had begun WSi detector development in collaboration with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, building on what Farr described as NIST’s “ground-breaking achievements.”

“This naturally flowed into STMD’s Game Changing Development DSOC project starting in the fall of 2011,” said Farr. “Our DSOC project goal has been to make large arrays of WSi detectors to go behind 5- to 12-m diameter telescopes. We are presently fabricating 64-pixel arrays. At an interim step we fabricated the 8- and 12-pixel devices, which were suitable for use behind a 1-m telescope, such as at the JPL ground station.”

Farr and Stern fabricated and began testing their first WSi devices at the start of March 2012.

“In collaboration with NIST, by the end of April 2012 we had a record setting 93-percent system detection efficiency with single-pixel devices, and under the DARPA-funded InPho program performed a record setting 13-bits per photon demonstration using pulse-position-modulation (the preferred deep-space optical communications modulation format) with one of these devices,” Farr said of the testing results.

In September 2012, after the critical nature of issues with the commercial photodiode detector was deemed insurmountable, the challenge was firmly set. The LLOT project found that to succeed, it would be necessary to switch to the WSi detector and moving forward was review-board approved.

With that approval, the push was now truly on.

Farr’s own words best describe the dynamic collaborative efforts:

“I knew a local vendor, Photon Spot, Inc., (Monrovia, Ca.) starting a business in superconducting nanowire detectors. The LLOT project worked with Photon Spot to quickly assemble and lease a cryostat that would achieve the required 1-K operating temperature for the WSi detectors.

“The cryostat was delivered to JPL in April 2013. Matt Shaw and Kevin Birnbaum at JPL then led the effort under the LLOT project to get the detector array installed into this cryostat and then interfaced to the data acquisition system, which was originally selected to operate with the photodiode detector. Kevin came up with a novel interface using only off-the-shelf electronic modules in order to meet the tight project schedule and budget.”

By June, the LLOT project demonstrated error-free communications and successfully completed compatibility testing of the WSi-based LLOT receiver with the Lunar Lasercomm Space Terminal engineering unit.

“An amazing 2-month integration effort by Matt and Kevin and the rest of the LLOT team,” said Farr.

John Rush, director for the Technology and Standards Division of NASA’s Space Communications Office, visited the JPL ground station for a final check before the LLCD experiment started. Discussions included the list of challenges the team faced in getting ready on time. “The biggest challenge was the detectors where everyone agreed that the original detectors would not have worked. But the tungsten silicide detectors that STMD invested in saved the day,” Rush said.

“The new detectors now hold the world record for efficiency at 93 percent and for a mind-boggling 13 bits per photon,” Rush added. “This is an excellent example of how working together we can achieve things that we can’t achieve by ourselves.”

Denise M. Stefula
NASA’s Langley Research Center

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Smart SPHERES Are About to Get A Whole Lot Smarter

Spheres

Smart devices – such as tablets and phones – increasingly are an essential part of everyday life on Earth. The same can be said for life off-planet aboard the International Space Station. From astronaut tweets to Google+ Hangouts, our reliance on these mobile and social technologies means equipment and software upgrades are an everyday occurrence – like buying a new pair of shoes to replace a pair of well-worn ones.

That’s why the Intelligent Robotics Group at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., with funding from the Technology Demonstration Missions Program in the Space Technology Mission Directorate, is working to upgrade the smartphones currently equipped on a trio of volleyball-sized free-flying satellites on the space station called Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES). In 2011 on the final flight of space shuttle Atlantis, NASA sent the first smartphone to the station and mounted it to SPHERES.


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*Source: NASA.gov

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NASA, Virginia Come Together to Talk Aerospace

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Photo credit: NASA/David Bowman
Article by Denise Lineberry, NASA’s Langley Research Center

Amid the hustle and bustle on the nine floors of the Virginia General Assembly building in Richmond, about 75 representatives from NASA and the aerospace industry spoke to every single member during a two-day awareness campaign called Aerospace Day 2014.

In small teams, they moved from office to office, expressing thanks and noting the impact of the aerospace industry in Virginia: $36.4 billion, 28,110 high-paying jobs, $57.5 million in state tax revenues and a highly skilled workforce.

“There’s only one word we can use to describe the impact that Wallops and NASA have had, it’s ‘Wow.’” said Sen. John Cosgrove. “It’s just amazing … we’re just so excited. We take pride for being in your corner and supporting you.”

View the photo gallery here.

 
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*Source: NASA.gov

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Researching “super dust” and other materials that could reduce the cost of air and space travel

By The Partnership for Public Service, The Washington Post

Mia Siochi

Whether researching stronger, lighter materials for use in planes and spaceships or keeping squashed insects from sticking to airplane wings, Mia Siochi’s work at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia has the potential to improve aviation and save taxpayers millions of dollars.

Siochi, a research materials engineer, leads a NASA team that is seeking to tap the potential of nanotechnology to reduce the weight of space launch vehicles by up to 30 percent, or about 200,000 pounds. With launch costs being about $10,000 per pound, lightening the load leads to significantly lower costs.

 


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(Source: The Washington Post)

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NASA Boards the 3-D-Manufacturing Train

Goddard technologists Ted Swanson and Matthew Showalter hold a 3-D-printed battery-mounting plate developed specifically for a sounding-rocket mission. The component is the first additive-manufactured device Goddard has flown in space.  Image Credit: NASA

Goddard technologists Ted Swanson and Matthew Showalter hold a 3-D-printed battery-mounting plate developed specifically for a sounding-rocket mission. The component is the first additive-manufactured device Goddard has flown in space. Image Credit: NASA

Given NASA’s unique needs for highly custom­ized spacecraft and instrument components, additive manufacturing, or “3-D printing,” offers a compelling alternative to more traditional manufacturing approaches.

“We’re not driving the additive manufacturing train, industry is,” said Ted Swanson, the assistant chief for technology for the Mechanical Systems Division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. Swanson is the center’s point-of-contact for additive manufacturing. “But NASA has the ability to get on-board to leverage it for our unique needs.”

 
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*Source: Sci-Tech-Today.com

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Efforts Underway to Develop Better Batteries for Electric Vehicles

By Bob Granath, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

Electricity producing batteries are a vital part of daily life on Earth and in space. Power storage devices keep spacecraft operating, cars running, cell phones connected and flashlights lit. The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) now is funding 22 projects across 15 states with a total of $36 million to develop better, more efficient power sources for electric vehicles (EV).
The Robust Affordable Next Generation Energy (RANGE) Storage Systems effort kicked off when NASA and ARPA-E officials along with representatives from other agencies, industry and universities gathered at the Kurt H. Debus Conference Facility at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex on Jan. 28 and 29. The project aims to accelerate widespread EV use by dramatically improving driving range and reliability using innovative chemistries, architectures and designs. The result would provide low-cost, low-carbon emission alternatives for today’s cars and other vehicles.
 
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(Source: NASA.gov)
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NASA to Make Water on the Moon and Oxygen on Mars

NASA Astronaut Jack Schmitt digs and rakes out material on the lunar surface during the 1972 Apollo 17 mission (Credits: NASA)

NASA Astronaut Jack Schmitt digs and rakes out material on the lunar surface during the 1972 Apollo 17 mission (Credits: NASA)

BY IRENE KLOTZ, Discovery News

NASA is planning missions to demonstrate how to make water on the moon and oxygen on Mars.

The initiatives are part of an evolving space exploration strategy that relies on indigenous resources, primarily to make rocket fuel for the return trip home.

 
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*Source: News.Discovery.com

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NASA: Engineered Microbes May Support Life in Space

Photo Credit: NASA Ames Research Center

Photo Credit: NASA Ames Research Center

A new NASA project called Synthetic Biology Initiative is studying the potential of designer microbes, based on tiny organisms called cyanobacterium, or blue-green algae, to convert the toxic atmospheres of planets like Mars or Venus into more hospitable environments. Such creatures would be manufactured using synthetic biology.

For more information on Synthetic Biology, please visit the NASA Ames Research Center Biology and Astrobiology site: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/ames/research/area-biology-astrobiology.html

 
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*Source: Sci-Tech-Today.com

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NASA Langley part of ISS ‘fluid slosh’ experiment

NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins holds a plastic container partially filled with green-colored water which is used in the free-flying satellites known as Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites, or SPHERES - Slosh experiment. Credits: NASA

NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins holds a plastic container partially filled with green-colored water which is used in the free-flying satellites known as Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites, or SPHERES – Slosh experiment. Credits: NASA

By Tamara Dietrich, The Daily Press

January 8, 2014

When a liquid-fueled rocket vaults into space, there’s a whole lot of sloshing going on inside those fuel tanks.

A better understanding of how that liquid behaves in zero gravity could help engineers build a better, safer rocket — one that could enable humans to explore asteroids, Mars, the moons of outer planets and, eventually, even deeper into space.

Now NASA expects that one of the many science experiments aboard the Cygnus commercial space freighter set to launch Wednesday from Wallops Island to the International Space Station will help toward that goal.

 
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*Source: Articles.DailyPress.com/

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NASA Planning for Mission To Mine Water on the Moon

RESOLVE, shown during testing on Canada's Artemis Jr. rover, is intended to pave the way toward incorporating the use of space resources into mission architectures. Credit: NASA photo

RESOLVE, shown during testing on Canada’s Artemis Jr. rover, is intended to pave the way toward incorporating the use of space resources into mission architectures. Credit: NASA photo

Irene Klotz | Jan. 28, 2014

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — Following a series of reconnaissance missions that found hydrogen and then water on the Moon, NASA is laying the groundwork for a lunar rover that would scout for subsurface volatiles and extract them for processing.

The heart of the proposed Resource Prospector Mission (RPM) is the Regolith and Environment Science and Oxygen & Lunar Volatile Extraction (RESOLVE) payload, a technology development initiative that predates its official start two years ago in NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate’s Advanced Exploration Systems Division.

 
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*Source: SpaceNews.com

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NASA’s Robot Astronaut Now Has Bendy, $15M Legs for Crawling Around the ISS

PHOTO DATE: 11-13-13 LOCATION:  Bldg. 32 - Robonaut Lab SUBJECT: High quality, production photos of new Robonaut legs in the Robonaut Lab. PHOTOGRAPHERS:  BILL STAFFORD AND RON SYKORA

PHOTO DATE: 11-13-13
LOCATION: Bldg. 32 – Robonaut Lab
SUBJECT: High quality, production photos of new Robonaut legs in the Robonaut Lab.
PHOTOGRAPHERS: BILL STAFFORD AND RON SYKORA

Having a skeleton crew aboard the International Space Station means forcing PhDs to pull double-duty as janitors, and sometimes to undertake dangerous space walks. NASA’s solution? Robonaut, or R2 as it’s called by shipmates on the International Space Station. Conceived of in 1997, the goal was to create a robot that would take on jobs that are too dangerous, or dull, for humans. It has been an engineering marvel: Engineers equipped R2 with arms and hands that can carry 40 pound payloads; 350 sensors feeding into 38 processors give it the ability to carefully manipulate a control panel, or even send a text message from an iPhone.

There was just one problem—it couldn’t move. R2 was either mounted on a pole or attached to a wheeled base, both non-starters in space. Now, NASA’s engineers have finally unveiled a bizarre-looking pair of legs that will help the robot crawl around.

 
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*Source: Wired.com

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Slosh Team Readies for Important Launch

Cygnus spacecraft shortly before attachment to ISS on September 29, 2013 Image Credit: NASA

Cygnus spacecraft shortly before attachment to ISS on September 29, 2013 Image Credit: NASA

After a successful demonstration flight in September, the next Orb-1 mission is scheduled to launch on an Antares rocket in January 2014 as part of the NASA Commercial Resupply to Station contract.

The first operational delivery flight to actually carry supplies and experiments, Orbital Sciences Corporation’s unmanned cargo freighter Cygnus will loft approximately 3,217 pounds (1,459 kg) of science equipment, spare parts and supplies to the International Space Station (ISS) for NASA.

Along for the ride with this payload will be the ISS Fluid Slosh experiment, a Space Technology Mission Directorate, Game Changing Development Program project dedicated to improving our understanding of how liquids behave when there is little to no gravity.

“Modern computer models try to predict how liquid moves inside a propellant tank,” said NASA’s Brandon Marsell, co-principal investigator on the Slosh Project. “Now that rockets are bigger and are going farther, we need more precise data. Most of the models we have were validated under 1 g conditions on Earth. None have been validated in the surface tension-dominated microgravity environment of space.”

The proposed research provides the first data set from long duration tests in zero gravity that can be directly used to benchmark computational fluid dynamics models, including the interaction between the sloshing fluid and the tank/vehicle dynamics.

Powerful rockets use liquid fuel to bring satellites into orbit, and are subjected to varying forces as they are propelled forward. But computer simulations may not accurately represent how liquids behave in low-gravity conditions, causing safety concerns. The Slosh experiments improve these models, and thereby improve rocket safety, by measuring how liquids move around inside a container when external forces are applied to it. This simulates how rocket fuels swirl around inside their tanks while a rocket moves through space.

To explore the coupling of liquid slosh with the motion of an unconstrained tank in microgravity, NASA’s Launch Services Program (LSP) teamed up with NASA’s Game Changing Development (GCD) Program, the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT), and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to perform a series of slosh dynamics experiments in the ISS using the Synchronized Position Hold Engage Reorient Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) platform. The SPHERES test bed provides a unique, free-floating instrumented platform on ISS that can be utilized in a manner that would solve many of the limitations of the current knowledge related to propellant slosh dynamics on launch vehicle and spacecraft propellant tanks.

Slosh experiment launch package Image Credit: NASA

Slosh experiment launch package Image Credit: NASA

“It was a complex and detailed process to bring this concept to fruition,” said Charlie Holicker, an FIT student who worked on the physical design of the experiment and aluminum machining. “The data that this experiment will gather sets the foundation for all long-term space flight involving liquid fuels. It was an honor to be a part of something that will have such a great impact in the exploration of space.”

Rich Schulman, an FIT student involved in the Slosh experiment since its beginning, said, “One huge benefit for the students working on this project is seeing firsthand the requirements for developing a payload for the ISS. Having gone through this process successfully, the students involved can effectively build future payloads or projects at the same standard.”

Many satellites launch on rockets powered by liquid propellants, and improved understanding of these propellants could enhance efficiency, potentially lowering costs for industry and taxpayer-funded satellite launches.

 
Denise M. Stefula
NASA Langley Research Center

 
 

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NASA Developing Legs for Space Station’s Robonaut 2

r2legs2

NASA engineers are developing climbing legs for the International Space Station’s robotic crewmember Robonaut 2 (R2), marking another milestone in space humanoid robotics.

The legless R2, currently attached to a support post, is undergoing experimental trials with astronauts aboard the orbiting laboratory. Since its arrival at the station in February 2011, R2 has performed a series of tasks to demonstrate its functionality in microgravity.

These new legs, funded by NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations and Space Technology mission directorates, will provide R2 the mobility it needs to help with regular and repetitive tasks inside and outside the space station. The goal is to free up the crew for more critical work, including scientific research.

 
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*Source: NASA.gov

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NASA Outreach Opportunity to Enable Future Exploration Missions

NASA needs an affordable, lightweight vehicle for greater payload capability to enable future exploration missions. Composite Cryotanks could lead to rocket propellant tanks that achieve greater than 30% weight savings and 25% cost savings compared to the state-of-the-art metal tanks. Under a contract to the Boeing Company the Composite Cryotank Technologies and Demonstration (CCTD) project has produced the largest automated fiber placement, out-of-autoclave, composite tank ever manufactured. The 2.4m composite cryotank represented a major element of the accelerated building block approach that has informed the design, fabrication and testing of the 5.5 meter article. The tank was shipped from Huntsville, Alabama to Kissimmee, Florida to be displayed within the Boeing booth as part of the Defense Manufacturing Conference (DMC) exhibit. The DMC is the premier national conference that brings together leaders from government, industry, and academia aimed at addressing advanced manufacturing technology. The conference has multiple sessions and panels where NASA has a long history with the conference sponsor – DOD MANTECH, and has significant ongoing technology interests and partnerships such as: Composites/Out-of Autoclave Composites; Metals; Digital Manufacturing; DARPA manufacturing; and the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII). This was an excellent public outreach opportunity for Boeing and NASA to disseminate the information about this exciting technology and start the dialog about future possible applications.

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Getting to the Root of Debris Predictions with Terminal Velocity Aerospace

On October 28, Terminal Velocity Aerospace (TVA) signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA Ames Research Center to collaborate on evaluation, testing, and technology transfer of newly-developed thermal protection system (TPS) materials.

“The Space Act Agreement mechanism offers a great way for companies to partner with NASA,” said Dominic DePasquale, the company’s CEO. “I’m excited that we have an opportunity to collaborate with the premier TPS technologists at NASA to transition this TPS material out of the laboratory for use in real missions that deliver value.” Read more…(+)

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This Awesome Ad, Set to the Beastie Boys, Is How to Get Girls to Become Engineers

This is a stupendously awesome commercial from a toy company called GoldieBlox, which has developed a set of interactive books and games to “disrupt the pink aisle and inspire the future generation of female engineers.” The CEO, Debbie Sterling, studied engineering at Stanford, where she was dismayed by the lack of women in her program. Read more and watch the video by clicking here…(+)

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NASA Tech Briefs Interview with Chuck Taylor

Chuck Taylor is principal investigator of in-space propulsion and space power generation within the Game Changing Development Program. He is responsible for a portfolio of technologies, including large-scale solar electric propulsion systems, the subject of this NASA Tech Briefs interview. Read more…(+)

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Composite tanks promise major savings

ROCKET ENGINEERS HAVE LONG BEEN enthralled by the idea of storing liquid hydrogen in cryogenic tanks made from graphite composite. These would weigh an estimated 40% less than the cryogenic tanks used today, which are made of aluminum or higher strength aluminum lithium alloy. Automated manufacturing also could make the composite tanks 20% less expensive than metal versions.

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Tooling up for larger launch vehicles

NASA and Janicki Industries demonstrate composites’ cost advantage in tooling for fabrication of 10m/33 ft diameter payload fairing for next-generation launch vehicle.

The Space Launch System (SLS) will be the next heavy-lift launch vehicle for the National Aeronautics and Space Admin. (NASA, Washington D.C.). Composites have been chosen for both the launch vehicle structures and tooling because they offer performance and cost advantages over metals.

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Finally: a 3-D Printer for Space

Sure, 3-D printers can print pretty much any three-dimensional object you can think of – but can they print in zero gravity?

That’s what NASA wants to find out next year when it tests a 3-D printer on the International Space Station. So far, the printer, which NASA created with Made In Space, a California-based company, has successfully printed small computer parts in parabolic flights that simulate zero gravity. But the next step is to actually test a 3-D printer in space.

“We want to show that not only can we print, but when we print these tools they have same comparable quality as printing on Earth,” said Niki Werkheiser, project lead for 3-D printing in zero-G ISS technology demonstration at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

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Video: Space Station Live: 3-D Printing on the Station

Tools and space parts can be printed for use on the station eliminating the need to manufacture and deliver the gear for launch aboard a cargo spacecraft. Flight controllers could upload a CAD file to the space station for printing complex parts. A crew member could then assemble the newly printed parts to build tools, repair broken gear and even assemble nano-satellites.

During future long-term missions beyond low-Earth orbit a crew will not have the benefit of deliveries from a resupply craft. The new 3-D printing technology could benefit a potential mission to an asteroid or Mars.

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Exploring the
 Outer Edge of
 Space Technology

X1-Exoskeleton

Project Engineer Shelley Rea demonstrates the X1 Robotic Exoskeleton. Credits: NASA

An agency office aims to find the undeniable breakthroughs necessary for understanding the universe

NASA’s core culture is to push the boundaries of what has been to create what can be. And within this cutting-edge organization is an entire group dedicated solely to ensuring that the revolutions continue to expand. The Game Changing Development Program exists to find the disruptive technologies available in relevant fields, then move them into the proper channels for development and deployment.

Stephen Gaddis, director of the program, describes its straightforward mission saying, “We are looking for the game changers. We either transform or disrupt the way that the country, that the agency, is doing business in space. We want to have a high impact on new missions and new capabilities. In essence, we’re looking to change the way NASA does business.”

 
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*Source: AFCEA.org

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Researchers explore the potential of an exoskeleton patients can control with their brains

exoskeleton_skullcap

Robotics engineer Roger Rovecamp tries out the X1 exoskeleton as University of Houston professor Jose Luis Contreras-Vidal looks on. Image credit: University of Houston

Jose Luis Contreras-Vidal looked on as Roger Rovekamp, wearing a skullcap covered in electrodes, took halting steps, each leg moved by the robotic exoskeleton wrapped around his body.

Contreras-Vidal, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering, develops algorithms that read electrical activity in the brain and translate it into movement.

His Rehab Rex gained attention for its ability to help people with spinal cord injuries stand upright and “walk.” That project is now waiting for clinical testing to begin at Houston Methodist Hospital.

His newest project is a colaboration with engineers from NASA, and it could help patients with conditions such as stroke or Parkinson’s disease.


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Source*: Phys.org

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What’s 3D Printing?

Niki Werkheiser, lead investigator of the 3D printing in zero-gravity technical demonstration project at Marshall Space Flight Center, stands beside a protected 3D printer bound for the International Space Station in 2014. Image Credit: (Lee Roop/LRoop@al.com)

Niki Werkheiser, lead investigator of the 3D printing in zero-gravity technical demonstration project at Marshall Space Flight Center, stands beside a protected 3D printer bound for the International Space Station in 2014. Image Credit: (Lee Roop/LRoop@al.com)

 

Some call it “additive manufacturing,” and some call it “3D printing.” Whatever you call it, the technique of building things by layering material according to a 3D computer design is one of the hottest things going. People are doing it with plastics and metals and trying it with food and even human “tissue” in a race to build the perfect Star Trek replicator.

At Huntsville’s Marshall Space Flight Center, NASA scientists and engineers from the company Made in Space are building the first 3D printer to send to space. It will go the International Space Station next year aboard a SpaceX rocket. In the 2:30 video below, watch the machine build a small plastic clip that’s used frequently on the space station.

Printing in space will allow astronauts to replace a variety of small parts that break and save NASA the trouble and expense of launching multiple spares of multiple parts.

Watch a 2-minute video on 3D printing in zero gravity by clicking here.


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Source*: Blog.AL.com

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NASA’s Ironman-Like Exoskeleton Could Give Astronauts, Paraplegics Improved Mobility and Strength

x1_estab

Marvel Comic’s fictional superhero, Ironman, uses a powered armor suit that allows him superhuman strength. While NASA’s X1 robotic exoskeleton can’t do what you see in the movies, the latest robotic, space technology, spinoff derived from NASA’s Robonaut 2 project may someday help astronauts stay healthier in space with the added benefit of assisting paraplegics in walking here on Earth.NASA and The Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC) of Pensacola, Fla., with the help of engineers from Oceaneering Space Systems of Houston, have jointly developed a robotic exoskeleton called X1. The 57-pound device is a robot that a human could wear over his or her body either to assist or inhibit movement in leg joints.In the inhibit mode, the robotic device would be used as an in-space exercise machine to supply resistance against leg movement. The same technology could be used in reverse on the ground, potentially helping some individuals walk for the first time.

“Robotics is playing a key role aboard the International Space Station and will continue to be critical as we move toward human exploration of deep space,” said Michael Gazarik, director of NASA’s Space Technology Program. “What’s extraordinary about space technology and our work with projects like Robonaut are the unexpected possibilities space tech spinoffs may have right here on Earth. It’s exciting to see a NASA-developed technology that might one day help people with serious ambulatory needs begin to walk again, or even walk for the first time. That’s the sort of return on investment NASA is proud to give back to America and the world.”

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Source*: NASA.gov

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Russia Is Building an Inflatable Space Module of its Own

russian-inflatable-space-module

A leading spacecraft developer in Russia reveals the design of an inflatable space station module, raising some eyebrows on this side of the Atlantic, where Bigelow Aerospace has been developing something similar.

RKK Energia, the manufacturer of the Soyuz spacecraft and the prime contractor on the Russian part of the International Space Station, quietly published in its annual report last week details on an innovative inflatable space habitat.


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Source*: PopularMechanics.com

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Gazarik Introduces Bright Minds to Space Tech

Mike Gazarik

At NASA’s Langley Research Center, Mike Gazarik, the associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD), reminded nearly 200 summer interns of the important role they play in space technology.

“Space tech is about building a community of people,” Gazarik said, “especially those in college … tapping into the brightest minds, and yes, you are the nation’s brightest minds, you’re going to be called that a lot in the years as you come out of college.”

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*Source: NASA.gov

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NASA Successfully Tests First 3-D Printed Rocket Engine Injector

We’ve seen 3-D printed aircraft and drone parts, and even plans for a printable private jet. Now NASA has demonstrated another 3-D printing first: The agency has just finished successful tests of a 3-D printed rocket engine injector at the Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, marking one of the first steps in using additive manufacturing for space travel. Read more…(+)

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NASA Picks Small Spacecraft Propulsion Systems for Development

HAMPTON, Va. — NASA selected three proposals for the development of lightweight micro-thruster propulsion technologies that are small in size but have big potential.

NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate selected the miniaturized electrospray propulsion technologies to perform stabilization, station keeping and pointing for small spacecraft. NASA hopes these technology demonstrations may lead to similar position control systems for larger spacecraft and satellites as well.

NASA’s Game Changing Development Program, managed by the agency’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., sponsored this solicitation and will oversee the first phase of this technology development. Read more…(+)

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NASA, Industry Test “3D Printed” Rocket Engine Injector

Liquid oxygen/gaseous hydrogen rocket injector assembly built using additive manufacturing technology is hot-fire tested at NASA Glenn Research Center’s Rocket Combustion Laboratory in Cleveland.
Image Credit: NASA Glenn Research Center

NASA and Aerojet Rocketdyne recently finished testing a rocket engine injector made through additive manufacturing, or 3-D printing.

This space technology demonstration may lead to more efficient manufacturing of rocket engines, saving American companies time and money. Read more…(+)

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NASA Sees Potential In Composite Cryotank

[dropcap1]S[/dropcap1]uccessful tests of an all-composite cryogenic fuel tank for space launch vehicles hold promise for lower-cost access to space, perhaps before the decade is out.

A small composite fuel tank fabricated by Boeing with funding from the “game-changing” program of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate contained 2,091 gal. of liquid hydrogen through a series of shifts in its internal pressure and three temperature cycles ranging from ambient down to minus 423F.

The June 25 test at Marshall Space Flight Center with a 2.4-meter-dia. composite fuel tank paves the way for more tests next spring. That test will subject a 5.5-meter tank to flight-like mechanical loads as well as temperature and pressure cycles.

So far it appears the project is achieving its goal of reducing the cost of building tanks by at least 25% from that of conventional aluminum-lithium tanks, while cutting the weight of tanks made from the lightweight aluminum alloy by at least 30%.

“This is a very difficult problem,” says Mike Gazarik, associate administrator for space technology. “Composites and cryos don’t work well together, and these guys have done incredible work in figuring out how to design and how to fabricate these tanks.”

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Additive manufacturing could turn ‘rust belt’ into ‘tech belt’

CLEVELAND — Exciting technology is taking shape in Northeast Ohio. It’s additive manufacturing, or 3-D printing, a concept that’s simpler than you might think.

“If you’ve made a layer cake, that’s additive manufacturing,” explains Malcolm Cooke of Case Western Reserve University.

“Two pieces of cake. Some cream in between. Plonk it together. That’s additive manufacturing.”

Traditional manufacturing is considered subtractive as a block of material is whittled down to produce an object, whereas additive manufacturing builds an object layer by layer.

“Very complex parts can be made relatively quickly,” says Cooke.

The technology has caught the eye of scientists at NASA Glenn Research Center for its cost effectiveness and convenience.

“It allows you to look at something you need, a part you need, and actually go and make that part,” says Carol Tolbert, of NASA.

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3-D Printing: NASA’s Next Frontier

3-D printing in space will radically enable the space industry. Building parts, structures, and tools in space will not only reduce launch mass and size constraints, it will also enable the capability to build parts when needed, on-demand.
Image credit: Made in Space

NASA is looking to boldly take 3-D printing where no 3-D printer has gone before. As NASA plans ventures deeper into space, flights that already cost millions of dollars will become more expensive. NASA could defray those rising costs by enabling crew members in space stations to print tools, replacement spacecraft parts and, eventually, even structures in which they could live on alien planets.

The aeronautical agency next year will fly the first 3-D printer to the International Space Station, where crew members will conduct the first 3-D printing tests in near zero gravity. Read more (+)

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3D Printer Launching to Space Station in 2014

made-in-space-upside-down

A 3D printer is slated to arrive at the International Space Station next year, where it will crank out the first parts ever manufactured off planet Earth.

The company Made in Space is partnering with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center on the 3D Printing in Zero G Experiment (or 3D Print for short), which aims to jump-start an off-planet manufacturing capability that could aid humanity’s push out into the solar system.

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*Source: Space.com

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Robot exoskeleton suits that could make us superhuman

Exoskeleton Technology

Lockheed Martin’s HULC exoskeleton is designed to allow soldiers to carry superhuman loads. (Image Credits: Lockheed Martin).

If you’ve been dreaming of strapping on your own “Iron Man” armor, you might have to wait a while longer. But revolutionary “bionic exoskeletons,” like the metal suit worn by comic book hero Tony Stark, might be closer than you think — just don’t expect to fly away in one.

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Source*: CNN

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Chief Technologist Mason Peck Attends MAGNET Event

NASA Chief Technologist Mason Peck and Ohio manufacturers celebrate NASA’s partnership with industry in building the innovation economy.

NASA Chief Technologist Mason Peck and Ohio manufacturers celebrate NASA’s partnership with industry in building the innovation economy. Credits: NASA

On May 23, NASA, the City of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County and the Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network (MAGNET) announced nine small and medium-sized Ohio manufacturers that will receive NASA assistance to solve technical problems with new or existing products.


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Women at NASA: Meg Nazario

Meg Nazario

Meg Nazario

As a senior in high school, I took a physics class. I loved the challenge of figuring things out, and I loved how math could be used to predict where a ball would land as it rolled off of a table. My teacher was amazing and helped keep my interest by making the subject so fascinating. But, I also loved playing the piano and was considering becoming a concert pianist. After much soul searching, I decided to have piano as my creative outlet and pursue physics for my career. I definitely made the right choice! I went to college and majored in physics. I then went on to get my Master’s degree in Physics and Ph.D in Electrical Engineering. Today, I work as an engineer at NASA Glenn Research Center in the Space Flight Systems Directorate, where I am a project manager for Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP). I love working at NASA.


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NASA’s Solar-Electric Propulsion Engine and a Real-World Lightsaber (sort of)

NASA has released this image of the solar-electric propulsion thruster currently in development and undergoing tests at JPL. An earlier version of the engine is being used on the Dawn mission to the asteroid belt. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA has released this image of the solar-electric propulsion thruster currently in development and undergoing tests at JPL. An earlier version of the engine is being used on the Dawn mission to the asteroid belt. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA has posted an image of a solar-electric propulsion engine currently in development. The engine, which uses xenon ions, burns blue, and NASA is considering using the engine as part of its asteroid retrieval initiative. The engine is being tested at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The image above was taken at JPL through a porthole during testing.


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