NASA Selects Nine Space Technologies for Commercial Suborbital Flight Tests

Carthage College student Nicolas Welker prepares to start a zero-gravity transfer of propellant simulant during a flight on Zero Gravity Corporation’s G-FORCE ONE on Nov. 16, 2021. The flight enabled testing of technology designed to gauge propellant levels during on-orbit refueling and transfer operations. (Credits: Zero Gravity Corporation/Steve Boxall)

EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA has selected nine space technologies under the agency’s 2021 TechFlights solicitation for testing aboard parabolic aircraft, high-altitude balloons, and suborbital rocket-powered systems.

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AFRL Announces Winners of Space University Research Initiative Funding Opportunity

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, OHIO (AFRL PR) – The Air Force Research Laboratoryvia its basic research office, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, announced December 17, the winners of the newly established Space University Research Initiative (SURI) program – a first step in improving the transition of critical concepts from academia into revolutionary new military technologies for the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force (USSF).

“Our way of warfare depends on space superiority and AFRL has a long history of research and development in support of this domain. With the recent standup of the USSF, along with the emergence of U.S. Space Command and new energy in the commercial space sector, we have exciting opportunities to modernize the way we lead and manage S&T,” wrote AFRL Commander, Maj. Gen. Heather Pringle in her 2021 Commander’s Intent.

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NASA Awards Grant for Purdue University Engineer to Fly as Researcher Aboard Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo

Steven Collicott, an aerospace engineer in the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, was selected by NASA for a suborbital flight to conduct a research experiment aboard a Virgin Galactic aircraft. (Credit: Purdue University/Rebecca McElhoe)

Editor’s Note: Although NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program has awarded a grant for Steven Collicott to fly as a researcher on SpaceShipTwo, the space agency has yet to approve Virgin Galactic’s spacecraft or Blue Origin’s New Shepard vehicle to carry agency-funded researchers. Those technical reviews are on-going at the moment. It’s unclear when approvals might be given. Virgin Galactic is scheduled to complete its flight test program next summer and begin flying paying passengers in the fourth quarter of 2022.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Purdue University PR) — Purdue University’s Steven Collicott was 8 years old when he saw Neil Armstrong step onto the moon and dreamed of reaching the stars. Now, both he and his research are going to make a giant leap into space aboard a Virgin Galactic craft.

Collicott, a professor of aerospace engineering in the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, was selected Wednesday to receive an award by NASA’s Flight Opportunities program giving him the chance to fly into suborbital space and back on a Virgin Galactic craft while conducting a zero-gravity experiment.

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AFRL Selects 10 Universities for Prestigious Satellite Program

Graphic representation of Arachne, the first solar power beaming experiment for the Space Solar Power Incremental Demonstrations & Research Project. (Credit: AFRL)

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AFRL PR) – The Air Force Research Laboratory’s University Nanosatellite Program (UNP) has selected 10 universities to participate in the upcoming 2-year partnership to design, fabricate and test small satellites.

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Expert on Space Junk: When Spacecraft Explode, Answers May be in the Debris Left Behind

Carolin Frueh, an associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics, enjoys solving math problems that just keep getting harder the more that she discovers about how space junk behaves. (Purdue University photo/Rebecca McElhoe)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Purdue University PR) — Much of the space junk orbiting Earth won’t clean up itself – or tell you how it got there.

Purdue University’s Carolin Frueh and her team are investigating what causes spacecraft to become space junk. Their findings are revealing ways to prevent spacecraft from breaking apart into thousands of pieces of debris that pose a threat to space stations and satellites.

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Blue Canyon Technologies Selected by Ball Aerospace to Provide Spacecraft Bus for NASA Solar Cruiser Program

LAFAYETTE, Colo., November 15, 2021 (Blue Canyon Technologies PR) –Small satellite manufacturer and mission services provider Blue Canyon Technologies LLC (“BCT” or “Blue Canyon”), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Raytheon Technologies Corporation (NYSE: RTX), was selected by Ball Aerospace to develop a standardized X-SAT Venus ESPA-class microsatellite bus and several custom components to enable an upcoming one-of-a-kind mission with NASA for the Solar Cruiser project.

As the largest planned solar sail to date, the 18,000 square-foot sail is a third the size of a football field. The Solar Cruiser: “Sailing on Sunlight” mission is being led by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center out of Huntsville, Alabama. Ball Aerospace will perform several mission-critical functions, including the integration and test of the satellite bus with the solar sail system that will form the completed “Sailcraft.”

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Space, Sustainable Tourism Can Work and Grow Together, says Purdue Tourism Expert

Jonathon Day (Credit: Purdue University)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Purdue University PR) — As space enthusiasts line up to purchase suborbital and orbital flights, communities that want to be known as space tourism hubs have a great opportunity to plan for future developments on Earth.

Jonathon Day, an associate professor who specializes in sustainable tourism in Purdue University’s White Lodging-J.W. Marriott Jr., School of Hospitality and Tourism Management in the College of Health and Human Sciences, says community leaders and business owners should look at what makes their communities special as they prepare for tourists.  

“Space tourism is offering these communities and regions an opportunity for economic development,” Day says. “We know these activities are going to increase the number of visitors to these destinations. Now would be a great time for the community leaders to take a deeper look at things they will need for the future.”

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Firefly Alpha Launch Scheduled for Thursday Evening From Vandenberg

Tom Markusic and Lauren Lyons in front of Firefly Alpha rocket on the pad at Vandenberg Space Force Base. (Credit: Firefly Aerospace)

Firefly Aerospace will attempt the maiden flight of its Alpha booster later today from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. The window for the rideshare mission extends from 6 to 10 p.m. PDT (0100-0500 UTC on Friday). A livestream of the launch will be available through Everyday Astronaut beginning one hour before the scheduled liftoff.

The rideshare mission will carry a number of payloads, which are show below.

PayloadPurposeCompany/ OrganizationNation
 DREAMCubeSat deployerFireflyUSA
BSS1 (DFAST Demonstrator)Technology demonstrationBenchmark SpaceUSA
CRESST DREAM COMETTechnology demonstrationUniversity of CambridgeUK
Firefly Capsule 1EducationFireflyUSA
FOSSASAT 1bLoRa communicationsFOSSA SystemsSpain
FOSSASAT 2PhotographyFOSSA SystemsSpain
GENESIS LAmateur radio/PropulsionAMSAT-EASpain
GENESIS NAmateur radio/PropulsionAMSAT-EASpain
HiapoThermospheric researchHawaii Science and Technology MuseumUSA
NPS-CENETIX-Orbital 1Technology demonstrationAT&T / NPSUSA
PICOBUS-1PocketQube deployerLibre Space FoundationGreece
QUBIK 1Amateur radioLibre Space FoundationGreece
QUBIK 2Amateur radioLibre Space FoundationGreece
Spinnaker3Technology demonstrationPurdue UniversityUSA
TIS SerenityEducationTeachers in Space, Inc.USA

Source: Wikipedia

The two-stage, 29 meter (95 foot) tall Alpha booster is capable of delivery one metric ton (2,205 lb) to low Earth orbit and 630 kg (1,389 lb) to a 500 km (311 mile) high sun-synchronous orbit. Firefly is charging $15 million for a dedicated launch.

Spacecraft Deorbiting Device Developed at Purdue Ready for Firefly Alpha Launch on Thursday

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Purdue University PR) — A drag sail that a team at Purdue University developed to pull launch vehicles in space back to Earth is scheduled to undergo a test launch on Thursday (Sept. 2).

The mission, set to take off from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, will evaluate how well the prototype helps its vehicle deorbit from space after mission completion. A livestream of the launch will be available through Everyday Astronaut.

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NASA Selects 19 Small Business Tech Transfer Projects for Further Funding

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 19 proposals from 17 U.S. small businesses for a total of more than $14 million in follow-on funding through the agency’s Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program. The awards will help advance NASA priorities such as the Artemis program and other initiatives in aeronautics, human exploration and operations, science, and space technology. 

NASA’s STTR program is open to small businesses partnering with U.S. research institutions to develop an innovation or technology. The partnering component distinguishes STTR from its sister program, NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR). 

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NASA Selects Promising Purdue Space Technologies for Commercial Flight Tests

Steven Collicott, Purdue University professor of aeronautics and astronautics, shown here in zero gravity, will have four projects under grants.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Faculty members in Purdue University’s schools of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Mechanical Engineering are among a list of 28 researchers whose technologies have been selected to receive funding under NASA’s Tech Flights solicitation.

Steven Collicott , professor of aeronautics and astronautics, will receive four separate grants totaling $1.8 million for four different experiments. Issam Mudawar, the Betty Ruth and Milton B. Hollander Family Professor of Mechanical Engineering, will receive one grant in the amount of $649,851.

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NASA Selects 31 Promising Space Technologies for Commercial Flight Tests

by Nicole Quenelle
NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program

NASA has selected 31 promising space technologies for testing aboard parabolic aircraft, high-altitude balloons, and suborbital rocket-powered systems. By exposing the innovations to many of the rigors and characteristics of spaceflight – without the expense of an orbital flight – NASA can help ensure these technologies work correctly when they are deployed on future missions.

“By supporting suborbital flight testing, our Flight Opportunities  program aims to help ensure that these innovations are well-positioned to address challenges and enable NASA to achieve its lunar ambitions, while also contributing to a growing and vibrant commercial space industry,” said Jim Reuter, associate administrator of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD). The Flight Opportunities program is part of STMD.

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Using Sunlight to Save Satellites from a Fate of ‘Space Junk’

by Kayla Wiles
Purdue University

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — No satellite stays the same once launched into space. How much it changes can go unnoticed – until something bad happens.

Carolin Frueh is among only a handful of researchers who have persisted in using a complex technique that can diagnose a problem from thousands of miles away based on how the satellite reflects sunlight.

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Martian Moon’s Orbit Hints at an Ancient Ring of Mars

These color-enhanced views of Deimos, the smaller of the two moons of Mars, result from imaging on Feb. 21, 2009, by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (SETI Insitute PR — Scientists from the SETI Institute and Purdue University have found that the only way to produce Deimos’s unusually tilted orbit is for Mars to have had a ring billions of years ago. While some of the more massive planets in our solar system have giant rings and numerous big moons, Mars only has two small, misshapen moons, Phobos and Deimos. Although these moons are small, their peculiar orbits hide important secrets about their past.

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Space ISAC Launches New Website: S-ISAC.org

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (ISAC PR) – Conceived by the Science & Technology Partnership Forum in 2017 in response to recognized information-sharing gaps within the cybersecurity and space community, the Space Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ISAC) was announced in April 2019 during a classified session at the 35th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, CO. The Space ISAC held its inaugural board meeting in November 2019.

Today, the Space ISAC unveils its new website, a new resource for collaboration to protect space missions and global space assets. The launch of this new website is an important milestone as the Space ISAC approaches initial operating capability and readies for the launch of its threat intelligence platform.

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