NASA Names Holly Ridings New Chief Flight Director

Holly Ridings is at her Flight Director console in the space station flight control room in the Mission Control Center at NASA’s Johnson Space Center on Nov. 17, 2008, for day four of the space shuttle Endeavour’s STS-126 mission. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA has named Holly Ridings its new chief flight director, making her the first woman to lead the elite group that directs human spaceflight missions from the Mission Control Center at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

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Mattel, Inc. Releases Dream Chaser® Spacecraft Matchbox Toy

Mattel Dream Chaser Matchbox® toy. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

SPARKS, Nev. (Sierra Nevada PR) – America’s next generation spaceplane will soon be available in stores. Mattel, Inc. toymaker is releasing a Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) Dream Chaser spacecraft Matchbox® toy, which will be sold in stores starting in September.

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Astrobotic and RIS4E Demonstrate Technologies to Explore Extreme Lunar Environments

Astrobotic is developing navigation technologies to allow free-flying spacecraft to explore subterranean environments on the Moon, such as lava tubes. (Credit: Astrobotic)

PITTSBURGH, Pa. (Astrobotic PR)  As America prepares to return to the surface of the Moon, Astrobotic Technology is partnering with scientists from the RIS4E node of NASA’s Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI), led by Stony Brook University, to demonstrate the robotic technologies needed to explore and study our nearest neighbor’s most interesting and challenging destinations.

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NASA-funded ELFIN CubeSats to Study How Electrons Get Lost

An artist’s depiction of the Van Allen Belts, showing Earth’s magnetic field lines and the trajectories of charged particles trapped by them. The twin ELFIN spacecraft are shown following their inclined polar orbit, traced in yellow. (Credits: UCLA EPSS/NASA SVS)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Three hundred and ten miles above our planet’s surface, near-Earth space is abuzz with action. Here begin the Van Allen Belts, a pair of concentric rings of fast-moving particles and intense radiation that extends more than 30,000 miles farther into space.

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MarCO Makes Space for Small Explorers

Engineer Joel Steinkraus uses sunlight to test the solar arrays on one of the Mars Cube One (MarCO) spacecraft. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA/JPL-Caltech PR) — Twenty years ago, CubeSats — a class of boxy satellites small enough to fit in a backpack — were used by universities as a teaching aid. Simpler, smaller and cheaper than traditional satellites, they’ve made space more accessible to private companies and science agencies.

This summer, NASA has been flying the first two next-generation CubeSats to deep space. They’re currently on their way to Mars, trailing thousands of miles behind the InSight spacecraft. InSight and its CubeSat tag-alongs are already more than halfway to the Red Planet.

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How NASA Goddard Tests Tools Astronauts Will Use to Explore Distant Worlds

Kelsey E. Young, a geologist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center who helps develop space-exploration tools, is using the handheld X-ray fluorescence spectrometer to investigate lava flow chemistry at Valentine Cave at Lava Beds National Monument, Tulelake, California. (Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

By Lonnie Shekhtman
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

When astronauts land again on the surface of another world, their limited resources will allow for a short window of time each day to explore their new surroundings. Instruments designed to quickly reveal the terrain’s chemistry and form will help them understand the environments around them and how they change over time.

To protect precious hours available for extraterrestrial scientific investigations, a team at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland — the Goddard Instrument Field Team (GIFT) — is testing and refining the chemical-analyzing and land-surveying tools that will assist future human explorers of places like the Moon and Mars.

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5 Hazards of Human Spaceflight

Credit: NASA

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — A human journey to Mars, at first glance, offers an inexhaustible amount of complexities. To bring a mission to the Red Planet from fiction to fact, NASA’s Human Research Program has organized hazards astronauts will encounter on a continual basis into five classifications. Pooling the challenges into categories allows for an organized effort to overcome the obstacles that lay before such a mission. However, these hazards do not stand alone. They can feed off one another and exacerbate effects on the human body. These hazards are being studied using ground-based analogs, laboratories, and the International Space Station, which serves as a test bed to evaluate human performance and countermeasures required for the exploration of space.

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NASA Completes Orion Parachute Tests for Missions with Astronauts

An Orion test capsule with its three main parachutes touches down in the Arizona desert Sept. 12. (Credit: NASA)

YUMA, Ariz. (NASA PR) — NASA has completed the final test to qualify Orion’s parachute system for flights with astronauts, checking off an important milestone on the path to send humans on missions to the Moon and beyond.

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UCLA Students Launch Project that’s Out of this World

By Rebecca Kendall
UCLA

Five years ago, a group of UCLA undergrads came together with a common goal — to build a small satellite and launch it into space. In the years since, more than 250 students — many of whom are now UCLA graduate students and alumni — have been the mechanical engineers, software developers, thermal and power testers, electronics technicians, mission planners and fabricators of the twin Electron Losses and Fields Investigation CubeSats, known as ELFIN.

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Delta II Rocket to be Displayed in Rocket Garden at KSC Visitor Complex

An ULA Delta II rocket carrying the ICESat-2 mission for NASA lifts off from Space Launch Complex-2 at 6:02 a.m. PT. (Credit: United Launch Alliance)

CENTENNIAL, Colo., Sept. 15, 2018 (ULA PR) – United Launch Alliance (ULA) announced today that the last Delta II rocket will join a lineup of historic rockets in the Rocket Garden on display at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Cape Canaveral, Fla.

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Northrop Grumman-built ICESat-2 Satellite Launched by Delta II for NASA

NASA’s Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) spacecraft arrives at the Astrotech Space Operations facility at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California ahead of its scheduled launch on Sept. 15, 2018. (Credits: U.S. Air Force/Vanessa Valentine)

Advanced technologies from Northrop Grumman support launch of ULA’s Delta II rocket and deployment of NASA’s satellite

DULLES, Va. – Sept. 15, 2018 – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) today announced the Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation spacecraft (ICESat-2), built by the company for NASA, successfully launched aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta II rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. In addition to manufacturing the spacecraft, Northrop Grumman also provided propulsion, key composite structures, a space navigation system and other components on the Delta II launch vehicle. This event marks the final launch of the Delta II rocket.

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Last Delta II Launches NASA’s IceSat-2 Spacecraft

An ULA Delta II rocket carrying the ICESat-2 mission for NASA lifts off from Space Launch Complex-2 at 6:02 a.m. PT. (Credit: United Launch Alliance)

Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., (Sept. 15, 2018) – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta II rocket carrying NASA’s Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) spacecraft lifted off from Space Launch Complex-2 on Sept. 15 at 6:02 a.m. PDT. This marks the final mission of the Delta II rocket, which first launched on Feb. 14, 1989, and launched 155 times including ICESat-2.
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New Coalition Formed to Revive Canadian Space Program


A new coalition of industry, academic and interest groups has launched  a campaign called Don’t Let Go Canada in an effort to bolster the Canadian space program.

“While other countries have been increasing their investments in space, Canada has fallen from 8th place in 1992 to 18th place (% of GDP), and hasn’t had a long-term plan to guide Canada’s investments for decades,” the group said on its website.

“The economic stakes of space participation are higher than ever. The global space market is worth over USD $380B today; analysts forecast it will grow to be a multi-trillion-dollar market in coming decades,” the website states. “Ambitious governments are staking their claims. Luxembourg plans to be the leading country in space mining; the UK aims to capture 10 percent of the global space market by 2030.”

Among the members of the coalition are MDA, Honeywell, Magellan Aerospace, ABB, AIAC, Neptec, Canadian Space Society, Canadian Astronautics and Space Institute, and The Planetary Society. A full list of members is on the organization’s website.

The group is calling for a properly funded, long-term Canadian Space Strategy to guide the nation’s efforts. One pressing concern is a decision on whether Canada will participate in the U.S.-led Lunar Gateway program, which will place a human-tended station in orbit around the moon.

Exploring the Solar System? You May Need to Pack an Umbrella

Adaptable Deployable Entry Placement Technology (ADEPT) aeroshell. (Credits: NASA Ames Research Center/ Eric James)

by Kimberly Minafra and Gianine Figliozzi
​NASA Ames Research Center

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — Gearing up for its first flight test, NASA’s Adaptable Deployable Entry Placement Technology, or ADEPT, is no ordinary umbrella. ADEPT is a foldable device that opens to make a round, rigid heat shield, called an aeroshell. This game-changing technology could squeeze a heat shield into a rocket with a diameter larger than the rocket itself. The design may someday deliver much larger payloads to planetary surfaces than is currently possible.

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Jody Singer Named Director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

Jody Singer (Credit: NASA)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has named Jody Singer director of the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Singer has been the center’s deputy director since February 2016, and has been serving as acting director since the retirement of Todd May as center director in July. She is the first woman appointed to the position.

As Marshall’s director, Singer will lead one of NASA’s largest field installations, with almost 6,000 civil service and contractor employees and an annual budget of approximately $2.8 billion.

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