NASA Grants KBR the Right to Train Private Astronauts at NASA Facilities

HOUSTON, January 30, 2020 (KBR PR) – KBR (NYSE: KBR), a leading solutions provider to the civil, military and commercial space industry, will become the first company to train private astronauts at NASA facilities. The company recently signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA Johnson Space Center allowing it to provide human spaceflight operation services to commercial companies. KBR currently holds the only agreement with NASA to provide these services using the agency’s facilities and capabilities.

Through this agreement, KBR will be able to train private astronauts in a wide variety of spaceflight tasks including operating onboard International Space Station (ISS) systems, integrating into the existing ISS crew, performing routine operational tasks, maintaining health and performance, and responding to emergencies. KBR will also provide medical operations and services prior to, during, and after spaceflights.

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NASA Determines Australian Meteor Crater is the Oldest Known

Yarrabubba meteor crater

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — The Earth is pocked with roughly 190 major meteor craters, yet scientists only know the age of just a few. Recently, A NASA scientist analyzed the age of the Yarrabubba meteor crater in Australia and found it to be 2.229 billion years old, making it now the oldest crater currently known.

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First Commercial Moon Delivery Assignments to Advance Artemis

The Moon as seen from the International Space Station (Credit: ESA/NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA has finalized the first 16 science experiments and technology demonstrations, ranging from chemistry to communications, to be delivered to the surface of the Moon under the Artemis program. Scheduled to fly next year, the payloads will launch aboard the first two lander deliveries of the agency’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative. These deliveries will help pave the way for sending the first woman and the next man to the lunar surface by 2024.

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NASA’s New Moon Rover Tested in Lunar Operations Lab

Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) engineering model undergoing tests. (Credit: NASA / Bridget Caswell, Alcyon Technical Services)

CLEVELAND (NASA PR) — An engineering model of the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER, is tested in the Simulated Lunar Operations Laboratory at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

About the size of a golf cart, VIPER is a mobile robot that will roam around the Moon’s South Pole looking for water ice in the region and for the first time ever, actually sample the water ice at the same pole where the first woman and next man will land in 2024 under the Artemis program.

The large, adjustable soil bin contains lunar simulant and allows engineers to mimic the Moon’s terrain. Engineers from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, where the rover was designed and built, joined the Glenn team to complete the tests.

Test data will be used to evaluate the traction of the vehicle and wheels, determine the power requirements for a variety of maneuvers and compare methods of traversing steep slopes. Respirators are worn by researchers to protect against the airborne silica that is present during testing.  

VIPER is a collaboration within and beyond the agency.  NASA’s  Ames  Research Center in Silicon Valley is managing the project, leading the mission’s science, systems engineering, real-time rover surface operations and software.

The rover’s instruments are provided by Ames, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and commercial partner, Honeybee Robotics in  California.  The spacecraft, lander and launch vehicle that will deliver VIPER to the surface of the Moon will be provided through NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program, delivering science and technology payloads to and near the Moon.  

NASA Faces Billions in Deferred Maintenance & Repairs

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Although NASA has made some progress in repairing and rebuilding its aging infrastructure, the space agency faces a deferred maintenance backlog of $2.65 billion, according to a new report by the Office of Inspector General (IG).

NASA is one of the biggest managers of property in the federal government, with 5,000 buildings and structures in 14 states. More than 83 percent of the structures are beyond their original design life, the review found.

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NASA’s Small Investments in Small Businesses Pay Big Dividends

Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park. Sustainable Bioproducts, a previous recipient and NASA STTR funding, uses extremophile organisms from volcanic springs to create edible proteins. (Credits: Jim Peaco/National Park Service)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — In 2013, a startup company had an idea for using extremophile organisms from volcanic springs to create edible proteins that would serve as an environmentally conscious alternative to meat-based proteins.

Following a handful of small investments from government agencies, including a $124,000 Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) contract from NASA, Sustainable Bioproducts announced in early 2019 it received $33 million in venture capital financing, including backing from two of the world’s biggest food and agriculture companies.

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NASA Opens Previously Unopened Apollo Sample Ahead of Artemis Missions

Pictured from left: Apollo sample processors Andrea Mosie, Charis Krysher and Juliane Gross open lunar sample 73002 at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. The Moon rocks inside this tube have remained untouched since they were collected on the surface and brought to Earth by Apollo astronauts nearly 50 years ago. (Credits: NASA/James Blair)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA scientists opened an untouched rock and soil sample from the Moon returned to Earth on Apollo 17, marking the first time in more than 40 years a pristine sample of rock and regolith from the Apollo era has been opened. It sets the stage for scientists to practice techniques to study future samples collected on Artemis missions.

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Raytheon Wins $150 Million Contract to Help JPL Develop, Test New Space Systems

DULLES, Va., Oct. 8, 2019 (Raytheon PR) — Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) will develop new space systems and flight software, and provide engineering, training and operations support for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, managed by Caltech, under a five-year, $150 million contract. The contract could potentially be worth $300 million over 10 years if all options are exercised.

“JPL’s pioneering spacecraft and rovers have led to groundbreaking discoveries of our solar system and beyond,” said Dave Wajsgras, president of Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services. “This is an incredible opportunity to continue enabling the future of space exploration.”

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NASA, CERN Timepix Technology Advances Miniaturized Radiation Detection

Space radiation (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — As we prepare to send the first woman and next man to the Moon and on to Mars, NASA, with support from the University of Houston, has been working to develop advanced radiation detectors to better protect astronauts and vital spacecraft systems during solar storms. The detectors are based on technology that was originally developed by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) to detect particle collisions in high-energy physics experiments. Storms emanating from our Sun release invisible, high energy particles, also called ionizing radiation, into space at relativistic speeds that can damage spacecraft electronics and systems, and impact the health of astronauts. 

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NASA Television to Air 10 Upcoming Spacewalks, Preview Briefing

NASA astronauts Nick Hague (top) and Anne McClain work to swap batteries in the Port-4 truss structure during today’s spacewalk. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Astronauts aboard the International Space Station plan to conduct what may become a record pace of 10 complex spacewalks during the next three months, a cadence that has not been experienced since assembly of the space station was completed in 2011.

Experts will discuss those plans in a briefing at 2 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Oct. 1, at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Live coverage of the briefing and all spacewalks will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

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NASA Announces New Tipping Point Partnerships for Moon and Mars Technologies

Astrobotic is one of 14 companies selected for NASA’s Tipping Point solicitation. This illustration depicts CubeRover, an ultra-light, modular and scalable commercial rover.(Credit: Astrobotic/Carnegie Mellon University)

Astrobotic, Blue Origin, ExoTerra, Paragon and SpaceX among contract awardees for advanced technologies

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 14 American companies as partners whose technologies will help enable the agency’s Moon to Mars exploration approach.

The selections are based on NASA’s fourth competitive Tipping Point solicitation and have a combined total award value of about $43.2 million. This investment in the U.S. space industry, including small businesses across the country, will help bring the technologies to market and ready them for use by NASA.

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Learning to Live on the Moon

Astronauts training in the Neutral Buoyancy Lab in conditions simulating those on the moon. (Credit: NASA/Bill Brassard)

In NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, teams are in the early stages of evaluating how astronauts would live and work on the Moon.

In this image taken on Sept. 5, 2019, the teams are moving around, setting up habitats, collecting samples and deploying experiments as they will on the Moon, beginning with Artemis III in 2024. NASA astronauts wear weighted vests and backpacks to simulate walking on the Moon, which has one-sixth the gravity of Earth.

Astronauts Drew Feustel and Don Pettit are among those training in the massive pool, which is used primarily to train astronauts for spacewalks aboard the International Space Station.

NASA Study Links Genetics and Vitamin Status to Eye Changes

Astronaut Karen Nyberg, Expedition 37 flight engineer, performs an Ocular Health fundoscope exam in the Destiny laboratory of the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

by Shaneequa Vereen
NASA Johnson Space Center

HOUSTON — Recent research findings show a link between nutrition, genetics and ocular changes during bed rest, an analog of spaceflight. These findings support and extend earlier findings in astronauts and may point to potential low-risk countermeasures. 

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Babin Disappointed in NASA Decision to Make NASA Marshall Lead Center for Lunar Lander

Astronauts explore a crater at the lunar south pole. (Credit: NASA)

DEER PARK, Texas – Congressman Brian Babin (TX-36) issued the following statement in response to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine’s announcement today awarding the lunar lander program management to Marshall Space Flight Center.

“I am disappointed by the decision from NASA to not place the lunar lander program management at the Johnson Space Center (JSC),” said Babin. “Marshall Space Flight Center does tremendous work for our nation’s space program, but the knowledge base and skill set for this task unquestionably resides at JSC where the Apollo lunar lander program was successfully managed. Yesterday, I joined Senators Cruz and Cornyn in sending a letter to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine requesting that this decision be reconsidered.”

To view the letter sent to Administrator Bridenstine, please click here.