Success Stories: Web Articles

2nd Annual NASA STEM Educators Workshop Series - AESP

"Calling all teachers in the Charlotte area. NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools are inviting educators to take part in free workshops Feb. 23-25. The second annual NASA STEM Educator Workshop Series will showcase science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education resources relating to studying the NASA mission to return to the moon."

This announcement is from a NASA-sponsored Aerospace Education Services Project (AESP) located at Penn State. STEM education for teachers flows into our classrooms and helps stimulate creation of our future workforce, that includes commercial space enterprises.

NASA, GM believes Robonaut2 will work alongside humans | R&D Mag

"Engineers and scientists from NASA and GM worked together through a Space Act Agreement at the agency's Johnson Space Center in Houston to build a new humanoid robot capable of working side by side with people. Using leading edge control, sensor and vision technologies, future robots could assist astronauts during hazardous space missions and help GM build safer cars and plants.

The two organizations, with the help of engineers from Oceaneering Space Systems of Houston, developed and built the next iteration of Robonaut. Robonaut 2, or R2, is a faster, more dexterous and more technologically advanced robot. This new generation robot can use its hands to do work beyond the scope of prior humanoid machines. R2 can work safely alongside people, a necessity both on Earth and in space."

Monitoring peatland from Earth and space | R&D Mag

"A team of UK scientists led by Dr. Karen Anderson (University of Exeter) has developed a new technique for monitoring the condition of peatlands. It could help monitor the damage that is being done to peatlands through human activity. Such disruption is contributing to global warming, as peatlands can release the carbon they absorb and store if they are damaged by drainage or peat extraction processes.

The team used a combination of images captured from Earth and space to measure spatial patterning in peatland surfaces as an indicator of their condition. This new method uses a novel coupled approach, using satellite images from space and airborne laser scanning data, and has resulted in improved peatland mapping products."

Development of the American commercial space industry: imminent federal decisions and implications for economic development in the states

"It’s very early to have much certainty, but I’d say that a shift in federal policy toward commercial operation presages a subtle but notable shift in the center of gravity of the American space program from the South/Southeast to the Far West and Southwest, with lots of interesting economic-development consequences.

The table in this article by Hochman summarizes these data, noting the broad mandates of these space authorities to develop comprehensive aerospace sectors, including enabling technologies of all types. The table also lists states with NASA Centers and their expertises, some but not all of which will be salient to Augustine’s call for enhanced attention to “technology development” necessary to meet long-term, inspirational space goals."


Suborbital Scientist-Astronauts Successfully Complete NASTAR Training

"Washington, D.C. – Showcasing the growing interest in conducting research and education missions aboard commercial suborbital spacecraft, eleven researchers including members of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation’s Suborbital Applications Researchers Group (SARG) successfully completed a training program yesterday at The National Aerospace Training and Research (NASTAR) Center in Pennsylvania.

The training included classroom instruction, altitude chamber training, multi-axis centrifuge training for launch and reentry accelerations, and several distraction factor exercises, simulating the conditions that scientist-astronauts will experience during future missions to 100 km altitude."

Person Of The Year: The Space Entrepreneur | AVIATION WEEK

Aviation Week and Space Technology, in an article titled "Person Of The Year: The Space Entrepreneur," reported that, "Space entrepreneurs had a big influence on aerospace in 2009, although it does not begin to compare with the impact they are likely to have in years to come." These people are "poised to transform" space access. Even though the government, especially Congress, "remains skeptical" of using commercial companies, space entrepreneurs are "at the center of the debate on how government astronauts will get to space; the very governments they have often disdained are potentially their biggest customers." During a recent House Science subcommittee hearing, some witnesses "criticized the Augustine panel as taking safety for granted in commercial human spaceflight. But proponents inherent in any worthwhile endeavor, and the space beyond Earth's atmosphere is never likely to become an integral part of mankind's economic and scientific sphere without it." Thanks to AIAA News.

Virgin Galactic to Unveil SpaceShipTwo - Commercial Spaceflight Federation

"SpaceShipTwo, intended to carry passengers and scientific payloads into suborbital space, is being unveiled today by Virgin Galactic in Mojave, California. SpaceShipTwo was developed for Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic by the engineering firm Scaled Composites, a team that includes aerospace pioneer Burt Rutan.

This reusable spacecraft will take two pilots and six passengers to space after first being carried aloft by the WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft, which has already been undergoing test flights for a year. SpaceShipTwo will conduct flights of passengers and science payloads to space from Spaceport America near Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic, stated, “This is truly a momentous day. The team has created not only a world first but also a work of art. The unveil of SS2 takes the Virgin Galactic vision to the next level and continues to provide tangible evidence that this ambitious project is not only moving rapidly, but also making tremendous progress towards our goal of safe commercial operation.”

Suborbital Science at Blue Origin Goes Public | Cosmic Log -

" billionaire Jeff Bezos' usually secretive Blue Origin rocket venture raised the curtain today on three research experiments that are slated to take suborbital journeys on its prototype spaceship in two years' time."

"Blue Origin has said that the first experiments could fly during New Shepard's unmanned testing phase in 2011, and that experiments requiring human tending could be taken up starting in 2012. That schedule is still operative, but it's too early to be more specific about the launch timing."

Making Rocket Science a Career Move | Space-Travel

"The Caddo Mills Municipal Airport east of Dallas is the home of Texas' most unusual rocket company, Armadillo Aerospace. All that outwardly heralds the presence of the company is a small sign over a few windows looking in on a sparse lobby decorated with a few trophies."

"Nine-year-old Armadillo is 100% owned by John Carmack, famous video-game developer of the well-known and highly-profitable Doom and Quake franchises. Armadillo has for its life so far, been a non-profitable endeavour, consuming around 4 million dollars of Carmack's own money along with various grants, awards and sponsorship monies. A team of eight (mostly volunteers but three full-timers) toils each week at pushing commercial spaceflight to where it has never gone before: affordability and availability."

Hanson provides (see pdf download) an inside profile of Armadillo with great photos and insights into this maverick enterprise that just picked up $0.5M in the Lunar Lander Challenge.  He also relates it to other Texas suborbital space vehicle vendors like Blue Origin and other key industry players.  This is a fine report, so check it out. 

Masten Building On X-Prize | AVIATION WEEK

"Masten Space Systems, fresh from a million-dollar win in the NASA-sponsored Lunar Lander X-Prize Challenge, hopes to use its vertical-takeoff-and-landing rocket technology to launch a commercial enterprise by the middle of next year.

Dave Masten, founder and CEO of the five-year-old Mojave, Calif., company, said Nov. 6 the company will use the $1.15 million it won by taking first place in the Level 2 lander competition and second place in Level 1 to upgrade its Xoie (pronounced "Zoey") vehicle for higher and faster flight (Aerospace DAILY, Nov. 4)." Masten intends to fly payloads to the edge of space and not humans.