Marc Boucher: April 2017 Archives

"Acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot recognizes the 2017 National Small Business Week; a time to celebrate the critical contributions of America's entrepreneurs and small business owners. NASA honors its 2016 Agency Small Business Advocate Award winners and acknowledges the contributions made by NASA civil servant personnel throughout the Agency. The Agency 2016 Small Industry Award winners are also highlighted and they recognize the outstanding Small Business Prime Contractor, Small Business Subcontractor, Large Business Prime Contractor, and Mentor-Protégé Agreement that support NASA in achieving its mission."

Marc's note: There's always a steady stream of discussion concerning ULA, Boeing, SpaceX, Lockheed etc. on NASA Watch, in other words, the big companies, but innovation also comes from small businesses.

Dawn Observing Ceres; 3rd Reaction Wheel Malfunctions, NASA JPL

"While preparing for this observation, one of Dawn's two remaining reaction wheels stopped functioning on April 23. By electrically changing the speed at which these gyroscope-like devices spin, Dawn controls its orientation in the zero-gravity, frictionless conditions of space."

"The team discovered the situation during a scheduled communications session on April 24, diagnosed the problem, and returned the spacecraft to its standard flight configuration, still with hydrazine control, on April 25. The failure occurred after Dawn completed its five-hour segment of ion thrusting on April 22 to adjust its orbit, but before the shorter maneuver scheduled for April 23-24. The orbit will still allow Dawn to perform its opposition measurements. The reaction wheel's malfunctioning will not significantly impact the rest of the extended mission at Ceres."

NASA OIG: NASA's Management and Development of Spacesuits, NASA OIG

"NASA continues to manage an array of design and health risks associated with the EMUs used by ISS crew. In addition, only 11 of the 18 original EMU Primary Life Support System units - a backpack-like structure that performs a variety of functions required to keep an astronaut alive during a spacewalk - are still in use, raising concerns that the inventory may not be adequate to last through the planned retirement of the ISS."

"Despite spending nearly $200 million on NASA's next-generation spacesuit technologies, the Agency remains years away from having a flight-ready spacesuit capable of replacing the EMU or suitable for use on future exploration missions."

"After examining these spacesuit development efforts, we question NASA's decision to continue funding a contract associated with the Constellation Program after cancellation of that Program and a recommendation made by Johnson Space Center officials in 2011 to cancel the contract. Rather than terminate the contract, NASA paid the contractor $80.8 million between 2011 and 2016 for spacesuit technology development, despite parallel development activities being conducted within NASA's Advanced Exploration Systems Division."

Reopening the American Frontier: Reducing Regulatory Barriers and Expanding American Free Enterprise in Space (Live at 10:00 a.m. EDT)

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), chairman of the Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness, will convene a hearing titled "Reopening the American Frontier: Reducing Regulatory Barriers and Expanding American Free Enterprise in Space" at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, April 26, 2017. This hearing will examine the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act signed into law in November 2015, potential regulatory barriers to address in future legislation, and ways to expand commercial opportunities for American firms in space.

Witnesses:

- Mr. Robert Bigelow, Founder, Bigelow Aerospace
- Mr. Rob Meyerson, President, Blue Origin
- Mr. George Whitesides, CEO, Galactic Ventures
- Mr. Andrew Rush, CEO, Made in Space

Marc's note: Phil Larson, formerly with SpaceX, now Assistant Dean, College of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Colorado, Boulder wrote the following opinion yesterday afternoon in The Hill related to today's hearing; There's a new frontier in space exploration, but will Trump be on board?

"There's a jump ball underway in space, and it'll be on full display Wednesday at a Senate hearing chaired by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). Will the administration and Congress be pro-innovation or pro the old way of doing business? And will the team in the White House really look for opportunities to run government more like a business? There's no better bellwether for answering these questions than the space debate going on right now. "

NASA Invites Entrepreneurs to Another Industry Day

NASA has opened registration for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program Industry Day.

NASA SBIR/STTR Industry Day
Date: June 25-27th, 2017
Location: NASA Ames Research Center
Building 152
Moffett Field, CA 94035

SwRI-Led Team Discovers Lull in Mars' Giant Impact History

"The new results reveal that Mars' impact history closely parallels the bombardment histories we've inferred for the Moon, the asteroid belt, and the planet Mercury," Bottke said. "We refer to the period for the later impacts as the 'Late Heavy Bombardment.' The new results add credence to this somewhat controversial theory. However, the lull itself is an important period in the evolution of Mars and other planets. We like to refer to this lull as the 'doldrums.'"

NASA's Launches Football Stadium Sized Super Balloon From New Zealand [With Video]

"NASA successfully launched its football-stadium-sized, heavy-lift super pressure balloon (SPB) from Wanaka, New Zealand, at 10:50 a.m. Tuesday, April 25 (6:50 p.m. April 24 in U.S. Eastern Time), on a mission designed to run 100 or more days floating at 110,000 feet (33.5 km) about the globe in the southern hemisphere's mid-latitude band."

Marc's note: Since New Zealand ambassador nominee Scott Brown won't be seeing a SpaceX launch from New Zealand, perhaps he'll settle for a NASA Super Pressure Balloon launch.

Cassini Completes Final and Fateful Titan Flyby

"NASA's Cassini spacecraft has had its last close brush with Saturn's hazy moon Titan and is now beginning its final set of 22 orbits around the ringed planet."

"The spacecraft made its 127th and final close approach to Titan on April 21 at 11:08 p.m. PDT (2:08 a.m. EDT on April 22), passing at an altitude of about 608 miles (979 kilometers) above the moon's surface."

Marc's note: There are a couple of new images.

Marc's note: At 10:00 a.m. ET President Trump, Ivanka Trump and NASA Astronaut Kate Rubins will call the ISS from the White House to speak with Commander Peggy Whitson and Flight Engineer Jack Fischer of NASA. Will we hear anything of substance? With This President you never know. You can watch the event LIVE on SpaceRef.

Updated: NASA Astronaut Peggy Whitson Talks STEM Education with President Trump

Updated: Remarks by President Trump in Video Call with NASA Astronauts Aboard the International Space Station

President Trump Calls Space Station Crew on Record-Setting Day

This Week at NASA: Expedition 51-52 Takes Flight, Earth Day and More

"On April 20, Expedition 51-52 Flight Engineer Jack Fischer of NASA and Soyuz Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of the Russian Space Agency, Roscosmos launched to the International Space Station aboard a Soyuz spacecraft, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. About six-hours later, the pair arrived at the orbital outpost and were greeted by station Commander Peggy Whitson of NASA and other members of the crew. Fischer and Yurchikhin will spend four and a half months conducting research aboard the station. Also, U.S. Resupply Mission Heads to the Space Station, Time Magazine Recognizes Planet-Hunting Scientists, Landslides on Ceres Reflect Ice Content, Mars Rover Opportunity Leaves 'Tribulation', and Earth Day in the Nation's Capital."


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