Written by Sam McDonald
Hampton, VA – The celebrated robot ISAAC now has a hermetically sealed workshop where it’s free to follow its prime directive: discovering bold new ways of making composite materials for the air and space vehicles of tomorrow.
The $750,000 air-tight, temperature- and moisture-controlled enclosure — an unusually capable clean room — was completed in July and now keeps the surrounding air pristine for ISAAC, a multi-million-dollar robot on a mission to build experimental composite structures.
Written by Joe Atkinson
Hampton, VA – In the 2017 Breakthrough, Innovative, and Game-changing (BIG) Idea Challenge, NASA is engaging university-level students in its quest to reduce the cost of deep space exploration.
NASA’s Game Changing Development Program (GCD), managed by the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, and the National Institute of Aerospace (NIA) are seeking novel and robust concepts for in-space assembly of spacecraft — particularly tugs, propelled by solar electric propulsion (SEP), that transfer payloads from low earth orbit (LEO) to a lunar distant retrograde orbit (LDRO).
Written by Alan Buis
Pasadena, CA – On August 16th, 2016, at around 10:30am, a brush fire ignited in the Cajon Pass east of Los Angeles, just to the west of Interstate 15. Within a matter of hours, extreme temperatures, high winds and low humidity allowed the fire to spread rapidly, burning through brush left tinder-dry by years of drought.
By August 17th, the fire had expanded dramatically, and firefighters continue to battle to save homes and evacuate residents.
Written by DC Agle
Pasadena, CA – Following a key program review, NASA approved the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) to proceed to the next phase of design and development for the mission’s robotic segment. ARM is a two-part mission that will integrate robotic and crewed spacecraft operations in the proving ground of deep space to demonstrate key capabilities needed for NASA’s journey to Mars.
The milestone, known as Key Decision Point-B, or KDP-B, was conducted in July and formally approved by agency management August 15th. It is one in a series of project lifecycle milestones that every spaceflight mission for the agency passes as it progresses toward launch. At KDP-B, NASA established the content, cost, and schedule commitments for Phase B activities.
Written by Sasha Ellis
Hampton, VA – Upon re-entry from a deep space mission, NASA’s next generation spacecraft, more commonly known as Orion, will descend under its three main parachutes, swaying in the wind until its final splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.
In that brief instant where capsule meets water, astronauts will experience the mission’s greatest deceleration and with that, some of the greatest forces on the human body. That’s where crash-test dummies come into the picture.
Written by Sasha Ellis
Hampton, VA – Engineers at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, are preparing for a series of water-impact tests to evaluate the Orion spacecraft and crew safety when they return from deep-space missions and touch down on Earth’s surface.
After venturing thousands of miles beyond Earth, Orion will splash down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California. At Langley, engineers are preparing to mimic various mission finale scenarios this year by dropping a mockup of Orion, coupled with the heat shield from the spacecraft’s first flight, into Langley’s 20-foot-deep Hydro Impact Basin.
Written by J.D. Harrington
Washington, D.C. – The return of supersonic passenger air travel is one step closer to reality with NASA’s award of a contract for the preliminary design of a “low boom” flight demonstration aircraft. This is the first in a series of ‘X-planes’ in NASA’s New Aviation Horizons initiative, introduced in the agency’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden announced the award at an event Monday at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia.
Written by Alan Buis
Pasadena, CA – A new three-year NASA field expedition gets underway this year that will use advanced instruments on airplanes and in the water to survey more of the world’s coral reefs, and in far greater detail, than ever before.
The COral Reef Airborne Laboratory (CORAL) will measure the condition of these threatened ecosystems and create a unique database of uniform scale and quality.
Coral reefs, sometimes called the rainforests of the sea, are home to a quarter of all ocean fish species. They protect shorelines from storms and provide food for millions of people, yet very little of the world’s reef area has been studied scientifically.
Written by Gina Anderson
Washington, D.C. – Humanoid robots will be helpful to astronauts on our journey to Mars, so NASA has awarded prototypes to two universities for advanced research and development work.
NASA is interested in humanoid robots because they can help or even take the place of astronauts working in extreme space environments. Robots, like NASA’s R5, could be used in future NASA missions either as precursor robots performing mission tasks before humans arrive or as human-assistive robots actively collaborating with the human crew.
Written by Joshua Buck
Washington, D.C. – Imagine a world with extreme temperatures that can wreak havoc on unprotected spacecraft and habitat components; a world where water is so scarce that plants are outfitted with sensors so farmers can avoid overwatering them; a world where precious water supplies are found in underground oases by satellites in orbit; a world where systems filter, recycle and purify air for the survival of inhabitants huddled in shelters.
Although images of human habitation on Mars may have filled your mind, the world just described is actually Earth, and the technologies cited are spinoffs, or technologies developed by the American space program that have gone on to benefit the public.
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