For Humans to Reach Mars, Advances Are Needed in Space Nuclear Propulsion Technologies

Illustration of a Mars transit habitat and nuclear propulsion system that could one day take astronauts to Mars. (Credits: NASA)

WASHINGTON (National Academies PR) — Using nuclear propulsion technologies to support a human mission to Mars in 2039 will require NASA to pursue an aggressive and urgent technology development program, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.


NASA Moves Forward with Campaign to Return Mars Samples to Earth

As seen in this artist’s concept, the SHERLOC instrument is located on the end of the robotic arm of NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) are moving to the next phase in a campaign to deepen understanding of whether life ever existed on Mars and, in turn, better understand the origins of life on Earth.


Bobby Braun to Join JPL to Head Planetary Exploration Program

Bobby Braun (Credit: CU Boulder)

Former NASA chief technologist Bobby Braun will be re-joining the space agency in January as the leader of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s (JPL) center’s planetary exploration program.

Braun, who serves as dean of the University of Colorado (UC) Boulder’s College of Engineering and Applied Science, will serve as a member of JPL’s leadership team.

In an internal memo, center Director Michael Watkins said Braun’s 30 years of experience with the JPL and NASA planetary missions, including the Mars Pathfinder lander, would be a great asset in implementing a planned overhaul of the lab’s Mars and planetary exploration programs.


White House, SpaceX Veteran Phil Larson Joining CU Boulder

Phil Larson

BOULDER, Colo. (CU Boulder PR) — The University of Colorado Boulder’s College of Engineering and Applied Science Dean Bobby Braun is announcing the appointment of Phil Larson as assistant dean for communications, strategy, and planning, where he will lead strategic relations for the college.

Larson – who was senior advisor for space and innovation at the White House, where he served from 2009 to 2014 – will join CU Boulder in February. Most recently, Larson was part of Elon Musk’s SpaceX team, supporting communications efforts as well as managing corporate projects.

Larson’s appointment concludes a national search carried out by a College of Engineering and Applied Science search committee.


SpaceWorks Acquires Terminal Velocity Aerospace

Terminal_VelocityATLANTA, September 1, 2015 (SpaceWorks PR) — SpaceWorks Enterprises, Inc. announced today that it has completed acquisition of Terminal Velocity Aerospace, LLC. Terminal Velocity Aerospace (TVA) is an Atlanta-based aerospace design and hardware manufacturing organization focused on orbital reentry devices, heat shields, and thermal protection systems. TVA will become a wholly owned subsidiary of SpaceWorks and a member of the SpaceWorks family of companies.


NRC Names Human Spaceflight Technical Feasibility Panel

The National Research Council’s (NRC’) Committee on Human Spaceflight has named 14 members to its Technical Feasibility Panel, which will help the committee evaluate the future of the American space program.

The panel is being chaired by John Sommerer, who is head of the space sector at John Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory (APL).  Other notable members of the panel include: former NASA Chief Technologist Bobby Braun; Douglas Cooke, former NASA associate administrator for Exploration Systems; Robert Dickman, former commander of the 45th Space Wing; soft spacesuit designer Dava J. Newman; and space architect Guillermo Trotti.


Ex-NASA CTO Bobby Braun Co-Founds Terminal Velocity Aerospace

RED-Data is a basketball ball sized device designed to record a re-entry event. (Credit: TVA)

ATLANTA, GA, July 10, 2012 (TVA PR) – Terminal Velocity Aerospace, LLC (TVA) announced operation today as a new venture dedicated to improving reentry safety and furthering the utilization of outer space. TVA offers small protective devices for data collection during reentry breakup events, and for safe return of small payloads from space.

TVA was co-founded by Dr. Robert Braun, Director of the Georgia Tech Space Systems Design Laboratory, and Dr. John Olds, CEO of SpaceWorks Enterprises, Inc. [Editor’s Note: Braun served as NASA’s Chief Technologist in 2010-11.]


Braun: Completing Human Spaceflight Projects Could Take Decade

Jupiter Direct Launcher Variants

UPDATE: I ran into Bobby Braun last night here in Orlando, and he says that this story misquoted him as saying it would take a decade.

NASA Chief Technologist Bobby Braun thinks it could a while to complete the space agency’s human spaceflight projects:

But with spending squeezed and NASA at odds with lawmakers over a 2016 timeframe for building a new heavy-lift rocket and crew vehicle to replace the 30-year-old shuttle program, Braun said that developing the future mode of travel could take longer than Congress, or the US public, may want to hear.

“Let’s call it — think about it as a decade if you want to put a time stamp to it,” said Braun, who gathered along with a host of veteran astronauts, politicians and space enthusiasts at Kennedy Space Center on Thursday to witness the final blastoff for the Discovery space shuttle.


NASA Names Deputy Chief Technologist

NASA Chief Technologist Bobby Braun has announced the appointment of Michael J. Gazarik as the agency’s deputy chief technologist.

Gazarik will be a key member of the office responsible for coordination, integration and tracking of all technology investments across the agency, as well as management of NASA’s Space Technology programs.


NASA Chief Technologist Bobby Braun Awarded Von Karman Lectureship

NASA Chief Technologist Robert Braun


The American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) honored NASA Chief Technologist Bobby Braun with the Von Karman Lectureship in Astronautics.

The award is given annually to someone who has performed notably and distinguished themselves technically in the field of astronautics. Braun was recognized for significantly advancing the understanding of the challenge of Mars entry, descent, and landing, and for the development of systems concepts and technologies enabling Martian exploration programs.

As part of the award, Braun delivered the speech “Mars Entry, Descent and Landing Technology Advancements” Thursday during the AIAA’s 49th Aerospace Sciences Meeting in Orlando. The award honors Theodore von Karman, an early astronautics pioneer responsible for breakthroughs in understanding supersonic and hypersonic airflow characterization and the value of the swept wing design.


NASA CTO Bobby Braun on The Space Show

The Space Show schedule for this week…

Monday, November 8 , 2010, 2-3:30 PM PST. We welcome back Chris Carberry, Executive Director of Explore Mars, Inc. along with Artemis Westenberg from The Netherlands who is part of Explore Mars, Inc. and also the President of the Mars Society Netherlands.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010, 7-8:30 PM PST: We welcome back Derek Weber who will talk about spaceports and his new Apogee book, “The Wright Stuff: The Century Of Effort Behind Your Ticket To Space.” I have one book to give away that will go to the first caller with a question or comment for Derek.

Friday, November 12 , 2010, 9:30-11 AM PST: We welcome back Dr. Robert (Bobby) Braun, NASA CTO. This program will feature one hour with Dr. Braun, then 30 minutes of Open Lines discussion based on Dr. Braun’s interview. I anticipate many callers so please, only one short question to give as many people as possible a chance to call in.

Sunday, November 14 , 2010, 12-1:30 PM PST. We welcome back Dr. Mike Gruntman, Professor of Astronautics, Professor of Aerospace Engineering and Systems Architecture, Engineering Department of Astronautical Engineering Viterbi School of Engineering.