NASA is funding research into advanced technology that would allow spacecraft to combine its propulsion system and the sun’s gravity to reach the distant Kuiper Belt or interstellar space in far less time than is possible today.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — An astronaut steps into a body scanner and, hours later, walks on Mars in a custom-made spacesuit, breathing oxygen that was extracted from Mars’ carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere. On Venus, an inflatable bird-like drone swoops through the sky, studying the planet’s atmosphere and weather patterns. Ideas like these are currently science fiction, but they could one day become reality, thanks to a new round of grants awarded by NASA.
SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Space Micro PR) — Space Micro, powered by Voyager Space, has been selected by the United States Air Force (USAF) AFWERX program for an award to develop an air-to-space laser communications system.
Under this contract, Space Micro, a leader in space-based laser communications, addresses some of the most challenging air-to-space laser communications problems, which are primarily caused by the regular instability of Earth’s atmosphere. Space Micro’s laser communications products have been developed for commercial and government customers and are now evolving into a key solution for highly directional, long-distance, high-bandwidth telecommunications for air-to-space connective applications.
GREENBELT, Md. — When you help build a satellite the size of a shoebox, you learn pretty much everything about it, says Emil Atz, a PhD candidate in Mechanical Engineering at Boston University. You learn how to write a proposal to fund it, how to place the screws that hold it together, how to test each instrument to ensure it functions properly.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Each year NASA selects and funds a number of university researchers to mature game-changing space technologies. The multi-year research and development projects could help develop super-cold space refrigerators and innovate ways to deal with hazardous lunar dust, among other objectives.
In late 2020, NASA selected 14 university-led research proposals to study early-stage technologies relevant to these topics. Each selection will receive up to $650,000 in grants from NASA’s Space Technology Research Grants program over up to three years, giving the university teams the time and resources to iterate multiple designs and solutions.
HOUSTON (NASA PR) — The Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH) at Baylor College of Medicine selected 5 researcher teams to advance the study of space radiation and investigate countermeasures for deep space exploration using human tissue/organ models.
TRISH funds health research and technology to protect astronauts during long-duration space missions. The crew headed to the moon or beyond will experience high Galactic Cosmic Radiation (GCR) levels, which could endanger their health and the mission’s success.
NICE, France (ESA PR) — Queen guitarist and astrophysicist Brian May has teamed up with asteroid researchers to investigate striking similarities and a puzzling difference between separate bodies explored by space probes. The research team ran a supercomputer-based ‘fight club’ involving simulated large asteroid collisions to probe the objects’ likely origins. Their work is reported in Nature Communications.
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla., April 7, 2020 (ISS National Lab PR) – SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft successfully splashed down today off the coast of California, bringing back dozens of research investigations sponsored by the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory.
The successful splashdown and science return marks the completion of SpaceX’s 20th commercial resupply services (CRS) mission to the space station (contracted by NASA) to send critical research and supplies to the orbiting laboratory. The Dragon spacecraft spent approximately 30 days berthed to the space station before returning to Earth.
Project to help researchers understand aging on Earth, protect astronauts
BALTIMORE (Johns Hopkins University PR) — Launching no earlier than March 6 at 11:50 PM EST, the Johns Hopkins University will send heart muscle tissues, contained in a specially-designed tissue chip the size of a small cellphone, up to the microgravity environment of the International Space Station (ISS) for one month of observation.
NASA Associate Administrator Steve Jurcyk said on Friday that the first Artemis mission to the moon will not launch later this year but will hopefully fly in the mid- to late 2021 time frame.
It marks yet another delay in a program that is already running years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget. The slip potentially makes the Trump Administration’s goal of landing astronauts at the south pole of the moon in 2024 more difficult to achieve.
NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program Phase I Award: Up to $125,000 for 9 Months
RIPS: Ripcord Innovative Power System Noam Izenberg Johns Hopkins University
Descent probe or lander power is a key resource for planetary exploration, and is a particular challenge where solar power is difficult to utilize efficiently and alternative power sources are expensive, risky, or complex. Short duration, battery powered probes have successfully landed and returned data from the surfaces of cloud-shrouded Venus.
EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Flight Opportunities program has selected 15 promising space technologies to be tested on commercial low-gravity simulating aircraft, high-altitude balloons and suborbital rockets. These flights will help advance technologies for future spaceflight, taking them from the laboratory to a relevant flight environment.
During an Aug. 28 visit to NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, where the Flight Opportunities program is managed, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said the agency will focus on funding more of these payload flights in the future.
Christmas came early last week for Aerojet Rocketdyne, Northrop Grumman and Orbital ATK as the U.S. Air Force awarded rocket propulsion contracts worth a combined $14.5 million to the companies on Dec. 23.
The contracts support “technology maturation and risk reduction” in the areas of material manufacturing and development and advanced technologies. The work supports the effort to transition away from the use of Russian-built RD-180 engines in United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V booster.
The Air Force has awarded a total of seven contracts totaling just under $17 million. A list of the contracts is below.
ATK Launch Systems Inc.
Johns Hopkins University Whiting School of Engineering
Johns Hopkins University Whiting School of Engineering
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 12 proposals for study under Phase I of the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program, which aims to turn science fiction into fact through pioneering technology development.
The selected proposals cover a wide range of imaginative concepts, including:
a submarine to explore the methane lakes of Titan;
using neutrinos to perform measurements for the icy moons of the outer planets; and,
a concept to safely capture a tumbling asteroid, space debris, and other applications.
LAUREL, Mary. (APL PR) — NASA has tapped the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., to look into the processes that shape the surfaces of the moon and asteroids — and provide insight into potential robotic and human exploration of these surfaces and the resources they might harbor.
As part of NASA’s new Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute, APL space scientist Benjamin Bussey will head the Volatiles, Regolith and Thermal Investigations Consortium for Exploration and Science (VORTICES) team. VORTICES includes more than 40 co-investigators and collaborators from the U.S. and abroad, including the Homewood campus of the Johns Hopkins University. By combining the talents and facilities of different researchers at multiple institutions, the VORTICES team will tackle problems of interest to NASA’s science and human operations mission directorates.