Category: NASA

NASA Announces "Roadmap" for Deep Space CEV

NASA Announces "Roadmap" for Deep Space CEV

It Seems NASA has reached an important milestone for the next U.S. transportation system that will carry humans into Near-deep space. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden announced that the system will be based on designs originally planned for the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle. Those plans now will be used to develop a new spacecraft known as the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV).
“We are committed to human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit and look forward to developing the next generation of systems to take us there,” Bolden said.

“The NASA Authorization Act lays out a clear path forward for us by handing off transportation to the International Space Station to our private sector partners, so we can focus on deep space exploration. As we aggressively continue our work on a heavy lift launch vehicle, we are moving forward with an existing contract to keep development of our new crew vehicle on track.”

Lockheed Martin Corp. will continue working to develop the MPCV. The spacecraft will carry four astronauts for 21-day missions and be able to land in the Pacific Ocean off the California coast. The spacecraft will have a pressurized volume of 690 cubic feet, with 316 cubic feet of habitable space.

It is designed to be 10 times safer during ascent and entry than its predecessor, the space shuttle.

“This selection does not indicate a business as usual mentality for NASA programs,” said Douglas Cooke, associate administrator for the agency’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate in Washington.

“The Orion government and industry team has shown exceptional creativity in finding ways to keep costs down through management techniques, technical solutions and innovation.”

Knowledge needs to be free!
Students Invited To Name New Mars Rover

Students Invited To Name New Mars Rover

NASA is looking for the right stuff, or in this case, the right name for the next Mars rover. NASA, in cooperation with Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures’ movie WALL-E from Pixar Animation Studios, will conduct a naming contest for its car-sized Mars Science Laboratory rover that is scheduled for launch in 2009.
The contest begins Tuesday, Nov. 18, and is open to students 5 to 18 years old who attend a U.S. school and are enrolled in the current academic year. To enter the contest, students will submit essays explaining why their suggested name for the rover should be chosen.

Essays must be received by Jan. 25, 2009. In March 2009, the public will have an opportunity to rank nine finalist names via the Internet as additional input for judges to consider during the selection process. NASA will announce the winning rover name in April 2009.

Disney will provide prizes to students submitting winning essays, including a trip to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., where the rover is under construction. The grand prize winner will have an opportunity to place a signature on the spacecraft and take part in the history of space exploration.

“Mars exploration has always captured the public imagination,” said Mark Dahl, program executive for the Mars Science Laboratory at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “This contest will expand our ability to inspire students’ interest in science and give the public a chance to participate in NASA’s next expedition to Mars.”

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures in Burbank, Calif., will make it possible for WALL-E, the name of its animated robotic hero and summer 2008 movie, to appear in online content inviting students to participate in the naming contest.

The online WALL-E content will provide young viewers with a current connection to the human-robotic partnership that is transforming discovery and exploration. The contest coincides with Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment’s release of WALL-E on DVD and Blu-ray.

The naming contest partnership is part of a Space Act Agreement between NASA and Disney designed to use the appeal of WALL-E in educational and public outreach efforts.

“All of us at Disney are delighted to be working with NASA in its educational and public outreach efforts to teach schoolchildren about space exploration, robot technology and the universe in which they live,” said Mark Zoradi, president of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Group. “WALL-E is one of the most lovable and entertaining characters that Pixar has ever created, and he is the perfect spokes-robot for this program.”

The Mars Science Laboratory rover will be larger and more capable than any craft previously sent to land there. It will check whether the environment in a carefully selected landing region ever has been favorable for supporting microbial life. The rover will search for minerals that formed in the presence of water and look for several chemical building blocks of life.

“We are now in a phase when we’re building and testing the rover before its journey to Mars,” said John Klein, deputy project manager for the Mars Science Laboratory at JPL. “As the rover comes together and begins to take shape, the whole team can’t wait to call it by name.”

Additional assignments include imaging its surroundings in high definition, analyzing rocks with a high-powered laser beam, inspecting rocks and soil with a six-foot robotic arm, and cooking and sniffing rock powder delivered from a hammering drill to investigate what minerals are in Martian rocks.

Knowledge needs to be free!
Wanted: Old-school IT guy to save NASA moonbase

Wanted: Old-school IT guy to save NASA moonbase

I know i get a more than cursory look from technocrats from around the world, but see if this is useful/infomative for you…

For those who hadn’t heard, NASA is gearing up to build a permanent moonbase in the next decade or so — if it can find the right legacy hard drive expert to save their bacon. Seriously.

Here’s how it breaks down: NASA learned the hard way during Apollo that moon dust is insanely abrasive, sort of like aerosol sandpaper. Learning how to deal with moon dust is going to be a serious issue for moonbase planners. Fortunately, NASA accrued all kinds of moon dust data during the 1970s.

Unfortunately, NASA “misplaced” all its moon dust data tapes, mostly because it never thought they’d come in handy. Since NASA lost the originals — and thus never translated the moon dust data to modern media — and all it has left are backups of the original data tapes, which can only be read by a vintage IBM 729 mark 5 tape drive. For those scoring at home, IBM stopped making the 729 in the 1960s. Thankfully, an Australian computer museum had one on mothballs, but it isn’t functional.

Thus, if any of you old-school tech heads has the kung fu to get a 40 years out-of-date tape drive running, NASA has a job for you. It’s sort of like the plot of Space Cowboys, only nerdier. And they say old IT guys have nothing to contribute.