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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, pleaseclick here.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine is set to speak at Marshall Space Flight Center on Friday where he is expected to announce that the Alabama field center will manage the lander being designed to land American astronauts on the moon by 2024.
Members of Texas’ Congressional delegation are urging Bridenstine to hold off on the decision.
U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) along with Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) today urged NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine to reconsider his decision and refrain from an official announcement until an official briefing is held.
In a letter to Administrator Bridenstine, the lawmakers wrote:
“The Johnson Space Center has served as NASA’s lead center for human spaceflight for more than half a century. […] ‘Houston’ was one of the first words ever uttered on the Moon, and Houston, the city that last sent man to the Moon, should be where the lander that will once again send Americans to the lunar surface is developed. Accordingly, we request that you reconsider this decision, and hold off on any formal announcements until we can receive a briefing on this matter that includes the timeline, projected cost, and rationale for this decision.”
No word yet on whether the event will go on as scheduled at 3:10 p.m. EDT Friday, Aug. 16. The remarks will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
A press release and the letter sent to Bridenstine follow.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In response to a news report that NASA will designate the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, to lead the development of the human-classed lunar lander for the Artemis program over the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas – which has served as NASA’s lead center for human spaceflight for more than half a century – U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) along with Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) today urged NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine to reconsider his decision and refrain from an official announcement until an official briefing is held.
In a letter to Administrator Bridenstine, the lawmakers wrote:
“The Johnson Space Center has served as NASA’s lead center for human
spaceflight for more than half a century. […] ‘Houston’ was one of the
first words ever uttered on the Moon, and Houston, the city that last
sent man to the Moon, should be where the lander that will once again
send Americans to the lunar surface is developed. Accordingly, we
request that you reconsider this decision, and hold off on any formal
announcements until we can receive a briefing on this matter that
includes the timeline, projected cost, and rationale for this decision.”
In 2018, Sens. Cruz and Cornyn sent a letter with Rep. Babin, and former Reps. John Culberson (R-Texas), and Lamar
Smith (R-Texas) requesting the Johnson Space Center be the location of
the new lunar lander program.
The follow-up letter to Administrator Bridenstine can be read here and below.
August 15, 2019
The Honorable James F. Bridenstine Administrator National Aeronautics and Space Administration 300 E. St. SW Washington, D.C. 20546
Dear Administrator Bridenstine,
We are writing to you today in light of a recent report that this
Friday, August 16, 2019, you plan to announce that the Marshall Space
Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama will manage the development of the
lunar lander for the Artemis program and oversee the commercial
development of two of the three elements, the Transfer Element and
Descent Element, of that lander. According to that same report the
Johnson Space Center, in Houston, Texas, will oversee the commercial
development of only one of three elements, the Ascent Element. This is
very troubling if accurate.
While the Marshall Space Flight Center specializes in rocketry and
spacecraft propulsion, and is undoubtedly the leader in these areas, it
is the Johnson Space Center, which has been, and continues to be, ground
zero for human space exploration. We are deeply concerned that NASA is
not only disregarding this history but that splitting up the work on the
lander between two different geographic locations is an unnecessary and
a counterproductive departure from the unquestionable success of the
previous lunar lander program. The integration of development
responsibilities into one center-ideally the center with the longest
history and deepest institutional knowledge of human space
exploration-would be the most cost-efficient, streamlined, and effective
approach, and is the approach that NASA should pursue.
As you may recall, on August 28, 2018, we sent you a letter
articulating the reasons why the Johnson Space Center would be the most
appropriate home for the lunar lander program. In that letter, we
highlighted the Johnson Space Center’s storied history as the lead
center for human spaceflight and deep experience with human space
exploration, and expressed our strong desire that it be selected as the
NASA Center responsible for establishing and leading the lunar lander
program. While much has changed in the intervening year, our feelings on
this matter have not.
The Johnson Space Center has served as NASA’s lead center for human
spaceflight for more than half a century. It is home to our nation’s
astronaut corps, the International Space Station mission operations, and
the Orion crew, and the men and women working there possess both the
institutional knowledge and technical expertise needed to manage all
facets of the successful development of a lunar lander for the Artemis program. “Houston” was one of the first words ever uttered on the Moon,
and Houston, the city that last sent man to the Moon, should be where
the lander that will once again send Americans to the lunar surface is
Accordingly, we request that you reconsider this decision, and hold
off on any formal announcements until we receive a briefing on this
matter that includes the timeline, projected cost, and rational for this
Please contact Duncan Rankin at 202-224-5922, Andrew Cooper at
202-224-2934, and Steve Janushkowsky at 202-225-1555 with any questions
regarding this request. Thank you for your prompt attention to this
HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Each year, the president of the United States selects an elite group of scientists and engineers at the beginning of their independent research careers to receive the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. This is the highest honor given by the U.S. government to outstanding science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professionals at this point in their professions.
HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Individual images taken by the Apollo astronauts were pulled together by NASA imagery specialist Warren Harold at Johnson, and the accuracy of the unique perspective they represent was verified by Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison “Jack” Schmitt, the only geologist to walk on the Moon.
“The Valley of Taurus-Littrow on the Moon presents a view that is
one of the more spectacular natural scenes in the Solar System,” Schmitt
said about the images stitched together from his Moon base Station 5 at
the Taurus-Littrow landing site.
“The massif walls of the valley are brilliantly illuminated by the
Sun, rise higher than those of the Grand Canyon, and soar to heights
over 4,800 feet on the north and 7,000 feet on the south,” Schmitt
added. “At the same time, the summits are set against a blacker than
black sky — a contrast beyond the experience of visitors from Earth.
And, over the South Massif wall of the valley, one can always see home,
the cloud-swirled blue Earth, only 250,000 miles away.”
The Apollo 17 panorama also has been converted into an immersive panorama viewable on the NASA Johnson account on Facebook.
Inspect these images and learn more about the sites they depict at:
HOUSTON, June 21, 2019 (United Airlines PR) — Fifty years after Apollo 11 landed on the Moon in July 1969, United Airlines stands with the nation in celebration of this milestone anniversary. Beginning today and continuing throughout July, the airline, in coordination with Houston First Corporation, Space Center Houston, NASA Johnson Space Center and OTG will provide customers with a variety of opportunities to learn about and celebrate space exploration. (more…)
At the beginning of my career, I spent a lot of time in the Advanced Spacesuit Lab at NASA’s Johnson Space Center with my team testing and modifying spacesuit designs to enable the next generation of astronauts—both men and women—to walk around, work and conduct science experiments on the Moon.
In my current position with the Human Landing System program, I use my experience in spacesuit design to help formulate the strategy for how we are returning astronauts to the Moon and collaborating with the scientists to determine what experiments the astronauts can do once we get there. (more…)