NASA Flight Opportunities Program Selects 15 Space Technologies for Tests

New Shepard booster over the landing pad. (Credit: Blue Origin)

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.

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Purdue School Launchboxes Available to Send School Experiments into Space

by Brian L. Huchel
Purdue University

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Standing less than a foot tall and weighing a few ounces, the rectangular box doesn’t seem like much but Purdue’s School of Aeronautics and Astronautics hope it will represent the first step for schools nationwide wanting to conduct zero-gravity experiments in space.

A few aluminum Launchboxes already have been shipped out this summer and more interest is expected as students return to K-12 schools across the nation, said Steven Collicott, professor of aeronautics and astronautics.

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NASA Selects US Firms to Provide Commercial Suborbital Flight Services

NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program has selected four companies to integrate and fly technology payloads on commercial suborbital reusable platforms that carry payloads near the boundary of space. The selection is part of NASA’s continuing effort to foster a viable market for American commercial reusable suborbital platforms that allow testing of new space technologies within Earth’s atmosphere.

Through these new awards, selected companies will receive an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract for integration and flight services, drawing from a pool of commercial space companies. The five-year contracts have a combined potential contract value of $45 million. The flights will carry a variety of payloads to help meet the agency’s research and technology needs.

The selected companies are:

  • Aerostar International (Raven Aerostar), Sioux Falls, South Dakota
  • Blue Origin Texas, LLC, Van Horn, Texas
  • Up Aerospace Inc., Littleton, Colorado
  • World View Enterprises, Inc., Tucson, Arizona

NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) is charged with maturing crosscutting technologies to flight readiness status for future space missions. The agency’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, manages the Flight Opportunities Program for STMD.

During the coming year, STMD will make significant new investments that address several high priority challenges for achieving safe and affordable deep space exploration. It continues to solicit the help of the best and brightest minds in academia, industry, and government to drive innovation and enable solutions in important technology thrust areas. These planned investments are addressing high priority challenges for achieving safe and affordable deep space exploration.

For more information on the program, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/flightopportunities

Space Station Experiment Reaches Ultracold Milestone

The Cold Atom Laboratory (CAL) consists of two standardized containers that will be installed on the International Space Station. The larger container is called a “quad locker,” and the smaller container is called a “single locker.” The quad locker contains CAL’s physics package, or the compartment where CAL will produce clouds of ultra-cold atoms. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Tyler Winn)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — The International Space Station is officially home to the coolest experiment in space.

NASA’s Cold Atom Laboratory (CAL) was installed in the station’s U.S. science lab in late May and is now producing clouds of ultracold atoms known as Bose-Einstein condensates. These “BECs” reach temperatures just above absolute zero, the point at which atoms should theoretically stop moving entirely. This is the first time BECs have ever been produced in orbit.

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Europe’s New ISS Commercial Research Facility Inaugurates Service

ICE Cubes in Columbus (Credit: ESA/NASA)

SINT-STEVENS-WOLUWE, Belgium — 13 July 2018 (ESA PR) — Europe’s new commercial research facility on the International Space Station, called ICE Cubes or International Commercial Experiments Service, is inaugurating its new service today with a special event in Belgium. With the first experiments installed, the service is ready to perform operations in orbit.

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Space Station Shrinks Fluorescence Microscopy Tool

FLUMIAS team members install the 3D fluorescence microscope that will allow live-cell imaging in microgravity into Payload Card-8 of the TangoLab in preparation for launch aboard the SpaceX Dragon last month. (Credit: DLR)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Honey, I shrunk the microscope! A miniaturized fluorescence microscope makes it possible to observe changes in living cells in microgravity. Future observations of astronauts’ cells could tell scientists important information about how the body adapts to space.

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NanoRacks Brings 40 Students Experiments to Space Station, New Commercial Customer

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – July 2, 2018 (NanoRacks PR) –  Early this morning, Dragon, the spacecraft from the fifteenth SpaceX contracted resupply mission, berthed with the International Space Station carrying one of NanoRacks’ largest educational missions to date. In addition to launching 40 student experiments, NanoRacks has also introduced a new commercial company and ongoing professional research into the commercial low-Earth orbit ecosystem.

NanoRacks brought the 12th Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) mission to the Space Station. SSEP Mission 12 received 2,498 proposals from 31 communities. These proposals were narrowed down to 34 flight experiments, and through the whole process, engaged over 12,000 students in the aerospace experiment design process.

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Dragon Delivers Some ICE to Space Station

ICE Cubes experiment unit (Credit: ICE Cubes/ISU)

PARIS (ESA PR) — The newly installed International Commercial Experiments service – ICE Cubes for short – facility providing commercial access to microgravity will soon receive the first experiment cubes after today’s successful SpaceX Dragon resupply launch.

The 15th resupply mission lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 5:42 ET (11:42 CEST) with standard cargo for the International Space Station as well as the first 10 x 10 x 10 cm experiment cubes.

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Upcoming SpaceX Mission to the International Space Station Loaded with Research

Dragon spacecraft in orbit. (Credit: NASA)

Kennedy Space Center, Fla. — June 26, 2018 (CASIS PR) SpaceX is targeting its 15th resupply mission (awarded by NASA) to the International Space Station (ISS) for no earlier than 5:42 a.m. EDT on June 29th from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. As part of this mission, SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft will haul approximately 300 kilograms of research and hardware facilities under the ISS U.S. National Laboratory flight allocation. The ISS National Lab is managed by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS). The research investigations that are part of the ISS National Lab flight manifest represent a diverse mixture of payloads which are intended to benefit life on Earth.

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A Refreshing Increase in Access to the Orbiting Lab

Preparation of the experiment cubes for the International Commercial Experiment, or ICE Cubes Service. (Credit: Space Applications Services)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — A new, simple and cost-effective way to conduct experiments and test technology aboard the International Space Station offers another option to make space more accessible for out-of-this-world research.

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Parabolic Flight Campaign – Three ‘Firsts’ in Partial Gravity

A-310 ZERO-G at Bordeaux-Merignac Airport. (Credit: DLR, CC-BY 3.0)

BORDEAUX, France (DLR PR) — When the parabolic flight aircraft, the Airbus A310 ZERO-G, takes off from Bordeaux-Mérignac Airport on 5 June 2018, it will be a ‘first’ in several respects: for the first time, only life science experiments will be exposed to three very different gravity conditions during a joint campaign by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), the European Space Agency (ESA) and French space agency CNES (Centre national d’études spatiales; CNES).

The idea of conducting a pure ‘life science campaign’ originated with the International Space Life Sciences Working Group (ISLSWG), an expert network at space agency level. This particular campaign includes a total of eight experiments – three of them from Germany – over three flight days. Also for the first time, a NASA life science experiment will be on board.
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NASA’s ISS Transition Report — Executive Summary

The International Space Station is featured in this image photographed by an STS-133 crew member on space shuttle Discovery. (Credit: NASA)

International Space Station Transition Report
NASA
March 30, 2018

Full Report (PDF)

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 (P.L. 115-10) provided for an ISS Transition Report under section 303:

The Administrator, in coordination with the ISS management entity (as defined in section 2 of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Transition Authorization Act of 2017), ISS partners, the scientific user community, and the commercial space sector, shall develop a plan to transition in a step-wise approach from the current regime that relies heavily on NASA sponsorship to a regime where NASA could be one of many customers of a low-Earth orbit non-governmental human space flight enterprise.

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NASA Releases Solicitation for LEO Commercialization Studies

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins removes samples from the Minus Eighty-Degree Laboratory Freezer for ISS (MELFI). Blood, saliva and urine samples will be stored in MELFI until they can be transported back to Earth for analysis. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has released a research announcement requesting proposals to study the future of human spaceflight commercialization in low-Earth orbit.

The research announcement solicits industry concepts detailing business plans and viability for habitable platforms, whether using the International Space Station or a separate free-flying structure, that would enable a space economy in low-Earth orbit in which NASA is one of many customers.

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Orbital ATK’s Cygnus Capsule to Host Research Destined for ISS

SS John Glenn near the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL. (May 16, 2018) – The 9th Commercial Resupply Services (awarded by NASA) mission to the International Space Station (ISS) by Orbital ATK is targeted for launch no earlier than 5:04 a.m. EDT on May 20th. Orbital ATK’s Cygnus capsule will host multiple payloads sponsored by the ISS National Laboratory (managed by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space). These payloads represent a diverse combination of science (life and materials sciences, chemistry evaluations), technology, small satellites, and the replenishment of hardware facilities to support future research. Additionally, multiple investigations will launch to station focused on inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers.

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