NASA to Host Virtual Viewing of Orion Spacecraft Drop Test

Engineers at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia begin a new series of four water impact drop tests with a test version of the capsule for NASA’s Orion spacecraft to better understand what Orion and its crew may experience when landing in the Pacific Ocean after Artemis missions to the Moon. (Credits: NASA)

HAMPTON, Va. (NASA PR) — Engineers will drop a 14,000-pound test version of the Orion spacecraft into the Hydro Impact Basin at NASA’s Langley Research Center’s Landing and Impact Research Facility in Hampton, Virginia, at 1:45 p.m. EDT Tuesday, April 6.

The test will air live on NASA Television, the NASA app and the agency’s website, and will livestream on multiple agency social media platforms, including the Facebook channels for Orion and Langley.

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Sensors Collect Crucial Data on Mars Landings with Arrival of Perseverance

The MEDLI2 hardware is visible on the Mars 2020 heat shield as the heat shield falls toward the surface of Mars. The critical MEDLI2 electronics, two of the seven heat shield pressure transducers; these measure the stagnation pressure during the hypersonic and supersonic phases of flight, and one of the 11 heat shield temperature locations can be seen. The copper-colored harness snaking around the heat shield is also evident. The circuitous path of the harness was to avoid the rover wheels and other items on the bottom of the rover. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

HAMPTON, Va. (NASA PR) — “Tango delta. Touchdown confirmed. Perseverance safely on the surface of Mars, ready to begin seeking the signs of past life.” For more than six years, the Mars Entry, Descent, and Landing Instrumentation 2 (MEDLI2) team waited to hear these words.

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Exploring the Moon Using Beamed Light Energy

Artist concept of Light Bender. (Credits: Ronald Neale)

NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Phase I Award
Funding: up to $125,000
Study Period: 9 months

Light Bender
Charles Taylor
NASA Langley Research Center
Hampton, Va.

Synopsis

Light Bender is a novel concept for the generation and distribution of power on the lunar surface within the context of the Artemis mission and the “Long-Term Human Lunar Surface Presence” that will follow. The innovative concept is based on a heliostat that utilizes Cassegrain telescope optics as the primary means to capture, concentrate and focus the sun’s light.

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Futuristic Space Technology Concepts Selected by NASA for Initial Study

This illustration shows a conceptual lunar railway system called FLOAT (Flexible Levitation on a Track) that has been selected for an early-stage feasibility study within the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts program. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Four advanced space concepts from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have been selected to receive grants for further research and development.

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Lightweight Crane Technology Could Find a Home on the Moon

LSMS is a lightweight, scalable, and versatile long-reach manipulator that combines high structural efficiency and robustness with the enhanced dexterity and multi-functionality of a deployable robotic arm. (Credits: NASA)

HAMPTON, Va. (NASA PR) — Like a Swiss Army knife, there’s not a whole lot NASA’s Lightweight Surface Manipulation System (LSMS) technology can’t do.

This lightweight robotic crane is comprised of a structurally efficient truss frame with cable actuation, and mimics the movement of a human arm, but with a much longer reach. It is scalable to fit any sized lander, vehicle, or surface application and can use a toolbox of quick-interchange end-effectors, or tools, that allow it to act as a hoist, forklift, regolith scoop, welder, and more.

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General Atomics Awards Contract to Firefly Aerospace to Launch NASA’s Multi-Angle Imager for Aerosols Mission

Orbital Test Bed (OTB) satellite carrying NASA’s Multi-Angle Imager for Aerosols (MAIA) instrument. (Credit: General Atomics)

SAN DIEGO, February 18, 2021 (GA-EMS PR) — General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) announced today that it has awarded a contract to Firefly Aerospace Inc. to launch a GA-EMS developed Orbital Test Bed (OTB) satellite carrying NASA’s Multi-Angle Imager for Aerosols (MAIA) instrument. The launch vehicle delivering the satellite to space will be Firefly’s Alpha rocket and is scheduled to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in 2022.

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Sensors Prepare to Collect Data as Perseverance Enters Mars’ Atmosphere

MEDLI2 sensors, electronics, and harnessing installed on the inner surface of the Mars 2020 heat shield while it is mounted on the heat shield turn-over fixture. The MEDLI2 harness has a circuitous routing to avoid the wheels of the Perseverance rover. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

HAMPTON, Va. (NASA PR) — Nearly six and a half months and 300 million miles since launch, NASA’s Perseverance rover will land on Mars Feb. 18, 2021, to begin its robotic exploration of the Red Planet. But before Perseverance touches down on the surface of Mars, it has to achieve a successful entry, descent, and landing (EDL).

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Tiny NASA Cameras to Watch Commercial Lander form Craters on Moon

HAMPTON, Va. (NASA PR) — This little black camera looks like something out of a spy movie — the kind of device one might use to snap discrete photos of confidential documents.

It’s about half the size of a computer mouse.

But the only spying this camera — four of them, actually — will do is for NASA researchers wondering what happens under a spacecraft as it lands on the Moon.

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Audit Criticizes NASA’s Management of Hazardous Materials

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA needs to do a better job of storing and managing hazardous materials at its field centers to prevent accident and injuries, according to a new audit by the space agency’s Office of Inspector General.

“We found that hazardous materials are not managed uniformly across the Agency, the Centers we visited did not consistently implement adequate controls, and employees and contractors at times circumvented existing controls to acquire hazardous materials,” the audit said.

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NASA Perseveres Through Pandemic to Complete Successful 2020

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In 2020, NASA made significant progress on America’s Moon to Mars exploration strategy, met mission objectives for the Artemis program, achieved significant scientific advancements to benefit humanity, and returned human spaceflight capabilities to the United States, all while agency teams acted quickly to assist the national COVID-19 response.

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NASA Tests, Infuses Software into Blue Origin Landing Tech

Example of feature matching during the lunar descent simulated by BlueNav-L. (Credits: NASA)

HAMPTON, Va. (NASA PR) — NASA is working with commercial companies to advance navigation and landing capabilities for future missions to the Moon.

Engineers recently tested NASA-developed navigation software with a navigation system developed by Blue Origin of Kent, Washington. During the testing, engineers ran a live simulation of a landing at the Moon’s South Pole. The NASA software successfully integrated with Blue Origin’s lunar navigation system, called BlueNav-L.

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NASA Armstrong Collaborates with Rocket Lab, Sensuron to Mature Fiber Optic Technology

EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — A system originally developed to collect distributed strain and temperature measurements on aircraft has been enhanced to support future NASA space missions. Two companies were selected by NASA through the 2020 Announcement of Collaboration Opportunity to further develop and commercialize the technology. 

The Fiber Optic Sensing System (FOSS) developed at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, uses sensors that are the size of a human hair to monitor vehicle structural and thermal response. Much of the technology effort to advance FOSS for use on airplanes and rockets was funded by the Space Technology Mission Directorate’s Center Innovation Fund.

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NASA Announces Moon Supply Unloading System Design Winners

The first prize selection, NASAGANTRY2020 ALLGO CS used a tripod structure on wheels. (Credits: GrabCad/Christie S.)

HAMPTON, Va. (NASA PR) — NASA has selected five 3D model submissions to the Advanced Lightweight Lunar Gantry for Operations (ALLGO) challenge. The ideas offer potential ways to unload supplies on the Moon, something NASA is considering as it works toward sustainable exploration under the Artemis program.

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NASA to Work with Industry to Mature Green Propulsion, Advanced Materials, Space Robots and More

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 17 U.S. companies for 20 partnerships to mature industry-developed space technologies for the Moon and beyond through the Space Technology Mission Directorate’s 2020 Announcement of Collaboration Opportunity (ACO).

The selected proposals are relevant to technology topic areas outlined in the solicitation, including cryogenic fluid management and propulsion; advanced propulsion; sustainable power; in-situ propellant and consumable production; intelligent/resilient systems and advanced robotics; advanced materials and structures; entry, descent, and landing; and small spacecraft technologies.

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