12345...102030...


NASA – Wikipedia

US government agency responsible for civilian space programs, and aeronautical and aerospace research

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA, ) is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research.[note 1]

NASA was established in 1958, succeeding the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency was to have a distinctly civilian orientation, encouraging peaceful applications in space science.[7][8][9] Since its establishment, most US space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo Moon landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, the Space Launch System and Commercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for uncrewed NASA launches.

NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System;[10] advancing heliophysics through the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate's Heliophysics Research Program;[11] exploring bodies throughout the Solar System with advanced robotic spacecraft missions such as New Horizons;[12] and researching astrophysics topics, such as the Big Bang, through the Great Observatories and associated programs.[13]

From 1946, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) had been experimenting with rocket planes such as the supersonic Bell X-1.[14] In the early 1950s, there was a challenge to launch an artificial satellite for the International Geophysical Year (195758), resulting in the American Project Vanguard among others. After the Soviet launch of the world's first artificial satellite (Sputnik 1) on October 4, 1957, the attention of the United States turned toward its own fledgling space efforts. The US Congress, alarmed by the perceived threat to national security and technological leadership (known as the "Sputnik crisis"), urged immediate and swift action; President Dwight D. Eisenhower and his advisers counseled more deliberate measures. On January 12, 1958, NACA organized a "Special Committee on Space Technology", headed by Guyford Stever.[9] On January 14, 1958, NACA Director Hugh Dryden published "A National Research Program for Space Technology" stating:[15]

It is of great urgency and importance to our country both from consideration of our prestige as a nation as well as military necessity that this challenge [Sputnik] be met by an energetic program of research and development for the conquest of space ... It is accordingly proposed that the scientific research be the responsibility of a national civilian agency ... NACA is capable, by rapid extension and expansion of its effort, of providing leadership in space technology.[15]

While this new federal agency would conduct all non-military space activity, the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) was created in February 1958 to develop space technology for military application.[16]

On July 29, 1958, Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act, establishing NASA. When it began operations on October 1, 1958, NASA absorbed the 43-year-old NACA intact; its 8,000 employees, an annual budget of US$100million, three major research laboratories (Langley Aeronautical Laboratory, Ames Aeronautical Laboratory, and Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory) and two small test facilities.[17] A NASA seal was approved by President Eisenhower in 1959.[18] Elements of the Army Ballistic Missile Agency and the United States Naval Research Laboratory were incorporated into NASA. A significant contributor to NASA's entry into the Space Race with the Soviet Union was the technology from the German rocket program led by Wernher von Braun, who was now working for the Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA), which in turn incorporated the technology of American scientist Robert Goddard's earlier works.[19] Earlier research efforts within the US Air Force[17] and many of ARPA's early space programs were also transferred to NASA.[20] In December 1958, NASA gained control of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a contractor facility operated by the California Institute of Technology.[17]

The agency's leader, NASA's administrator, is nominated by the President of the United States subject to approval of the US Senate, and reports to him or her and serves as senior space science advisor. Though space exploration is ostensibly non-partisan, the appointee usually is associated with the President's political party (Democratic or Republican), and a new administrator is usually chosen when the Presidency changes parties. The only exceptions to this have been:

The first administrator was Dr. T. Keith Glennan appointed by Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower. During his term he brought together the disparate projects in American space development research.[23]

The second administrator, James E. Webb (19611968), appointed by President John F. Kennedy, was a Democrat who first publicly served under President Harry S. Truman. In order to implement the Apollo program to achieve Kennedy's Moon landing goal by the end of the 1960s, Webb directed major management restructuring and facility expansion, establishing the Houston Manned Spacecraft (Johnson) Center and the Florida Launch Operations (Kennedy) Center. Capitalizing on Kennedy's legacy, President Lyndon Johnson kept continuity with the Apollo program by keeping Webb on when he succeeded Kennedy in November 1963. But Webb resigned in October 1968 before Apollo achieved its goal, and Republican President Richard M. Nixon replaced Webb with Republican Thomas O. Paine.

James Fletcher was responsible for early planning of the Space Shuttle program during his first term as administrator under President Nixon. He was appointed for a second term as administrator from May 1986 through April 1989 by President Ronald Reagan to help the agency recover from the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.

Former astronaut Charles Bolden served as NASA's twelfth administrator from July 2009 to January 20, 2017.[24] Bolden is one of three former astronauts who became NASA administrators, along with Richard H. Truly (served 19891992) and Frederick D. Gregory (acting, 2005).

The agency's administration is located at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC and provides overall guidance and direction.[25] Except under exceptional circumstances, NASA civil service employees are required to be citizens of the United States.[26]

NASA has conducted many crewed and uncrewed spaceflight programs throughout its history. Uncrewed programs launched the first American artificial satellites into Earth orbit for scientific and communications purposes, and sent scientific probes to explore the planets of the solar system, starting with Venus and Mars, and including "grand tours" of the outer planets. Crewed programs sent the first Americans into low Earth orbit (LEO), won the Space Race with the Soviet Union by landing twelve men on the Moon from 1969 to 1972 in the Apollo program, developed a semi-reusable LEO Space Shuttle, and developed LEO space station capability by itself and with the cooperation of several other nations including post-Soviet Russia. Some missions include both crewed and uncrewed aspects, such as the Galileo probe, which was deployed by astronauts in Earth orbit before being sent uncrewed to Jupiter.

The experimental rocket-powered aircraft programs started by NACA were extended by NASA as support for crewed spaceflight. This was followed by a one-man space capsule program, and in turn by a two-man capsule program. Reacting to loss of national prestige and security fears caused by early leads in space exploration by the Soviet Union, in 1961 President John F. Kennedy proposed the ambitious goal "of landing a man on the Moon by the end of [the 1960s], and returning him safely to the Earth." This goal was met in 1969 by the Apollo program, and NASA planned even more ambitious activities leading to a human mission to Mars. However, reduction of the perceived threat and changing political priorities almost immediately caused the termination of most of these plans. NASA turned its attention to an Apollo-derived temporary space laboratory, and a semi-reusable Earth orbital shuttle. In the 1990s, funding was approved for NASA to develop a permanent Earth orbital space station in cooperation with the international community, which now included the former rival, post-Soviet Russia. To date, NASA has launched a total of 166 crewed space missions on rockets, and thirteen X-15 rocket flights above the USAF definition of spaceflight altitude, 260,000 feet (80km).[28]

The North American X-15 was an NACA experimental rocket-powered hypersonic research aircraft, developed in conjunction with the US Air Force and Navy. The design featured a slender fuselage with fairings along the side containing fuel and early computerized control systems.[29] Requests for proposal were issued on December 30, 1954, for the airframe, and February 4, 1955, for the rocket engine. The airframe contract was awarded to North American Aviation in November 1955, and the XLR30 engine contract was awarded to Reaction Motors in 1956, and three planes were built. The X-15 was drop-launched from the wing of one of two NASA Boeing B-52 Stratofortresses, NB52A tail number 52-003, and NB52B, tail number 52-008 (known as the Balls 8). Release took place at an altitude of about 45,000 feet (14km) and a speed of about 500 miles per hour (805km/h).

Twelve pilots were selected for the program from the Air Force, Navy, and NACA (later NASA). A total of 199 flights were made between 1959 and 1968, resulting in the official world record for the highest speed ever reached by a crewed powered aircraft (current as of 2014[update]), and a maximum speed of Mach 6.72, 4,519 miles per hour (7,273km/h).[30] The altitude record for X-15 was 354,200 feet (107.96km).[31] Eight of the pilots were awarded Air Force astronaut wings for flying above 260,000 feet (80km), and two flights by Joseph A. Walker exceeded 100 kilometers (330,000ft), qualifying as spaceflight according to the International Aeronautical Federation. The X-15 program employed mechanical techniques used in the later crewed spaceflight programs, including reaction control system jets for controlling the orientation of a spacecraft, space suits, and horizon definition for navigation.[31] The reentry and landing data collected were valuable to NASA for designing the Space Shuttle.[29]

Shortly after the Space Race began, an early objective was to get a person into Earth orbit as soon as possible, therefore the simplest spacecraft that could be launched by existing rockets was favored. The US Air Force's Man in Space Soonest program considered many crewed spacecraft designs, ranging from rocket planes like the X-15, to small ballistic space capsules.[32] By 1958, the space plane concepts were eliminated in favor of the ballistic capsule.[33]

When NASA was created that same year, the Air Force program was transferred to it and renamed Project Mercury. The first seven astronauts were selected among candidates from the Navy, Air Force and Marine test pilot programs. On May 5, 1961, astronaut Alan Shepard became the first American in space aboard Freedom7, launched by a Redstone booster on a 15-minute ballistic (suborbital) flight.[34] John Glenn became the first American to be launched into orbit, by an Atlas launch vehicle on February 20, 1962, aboard Friendship7.[35] Glenn completed three orbits, after which three more orbital flights were made, culminating in L. Gordon Cooper's 22-orbit flight Faith 7, May 1516, 1963.[36] Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, and Dorothy Vaughan were three of the human computers doing calculations on trajectories during the Space Race.[37][38][39] Johnson was well known for doing trajectory calculations for John Glenn's mission in 1962, where she was running the same equations by hand that were being run on the computer.[37]

The Soviet Union (USSR) competed with its own single-pilot spacecraft, Vostok. They sent the first man in space, by launching cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin into a single Earth orbit aboard Vostok 1 in April 1961, one month before Shepard's flight.[40] In August 1962, they achieved an almost four-day record flight with Andriyan Nikolayev aboard Vostok 3, and also conducted a concurrent Vostok 4 mission carrying Pavel Popovich.

Based on studies to grow the Mercury spacecraft capabilities to long-duration flights, developing space rendezvous techniques, and precision Earth landing, Project Gemini was started as a two-man program in 1962 to overcome the Soviets' lead and to support the Apollo crewed lunar landing program, adding extravehicular activity (EVA) and rendezvous and docking to its objectives. The first crewed Gemini flight, Gemini 3, was flown by Gus Grissom and John Young on March 23, 1965.[41] Nine missions followed in 1965 and 1966, demonstrating an endurance mission of nearly fourteen days, rendezvous, docking, and practical EVA, and gathering medical data on the effects of weightlessness on humans.[42][43]

Under the direction of Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, the USSR competed with Gemini by converting their Vostok spacecraft into a two- or three-man Voskhod. They succeeded in launching two crewed flights before Gemini's first flight, achieving a three-cosmonaut flight in 1964 and the first EVA in 1965. After this, the program was canceled, and Gemini caught up while spacecraft designer Sergei Korolev developed the Soyuz spacecraft, their answer to Apollo.

The U.S public's perception of the Soviet lead in the space race (by putting the first man into space) motivated[citation needed] President John F. Kennedy to ask the Congress on May 25, 1961, to commit the federal government to a program to land a man on the Moon by the end of the 1960s, which effectively launched the Apollo program.[44]

Apollo was one of the most expensive American scientific programs ever. It cost more than $20 billion in 1960s dollars[45] or an estimated $223billion in present-day US dollars.[46] (In comparison, the Manhattan Project cost roughly $28.4billion, accounting for inflation.)[46][47] It used the Saturn rockets as launch vehicles, which were far bigger than the rockets built for previous projects.[48] The spacecraft was also bigger; it had two main parts, the combined command and service module (CSM) and the Apollo Lunar Module (LM). The LM was to be left on the Moon and only the command module (CM) containing the three astronauts would eventually return to Earth.[note 2]

The second crewed mission, Apollo 8, brought astronauts for the first time in a flight around the Moon in December 1968.[49] Shortly before, the Soviets had sent an uncrewed spacecraft around the Moon.[50] On the next two missions docking maneuvers that were needed for the Moon landing were practiced[51][52] and then finally the Moon landing was made on the Apollo 11 mission in July 1969.[53]

The first person to walk on the Moon was Neil Armstrong, who was followed 19 minutes later by Buzz Aldrin, while Michael Collins orbited above. Five subsequent Apollo missions also landed astronauts on the Moon, the last in December 1972. Throughout these six Apollo spaceflights, twelve men walked on the Moon. These missions returned a wealth of scientific data and 381.7 kilograms (842lb) of lunar samples. Topics covered by experiments performed included soil mechanics, meteoroids, seismology, heat flow, lunar ranging, magnetic fields, and solar wind.[54] The Moon landing marked the end of the space race; and as a gesture, Armstrong mentioned mankind when he stepped down on the Moon.[55]

Apollo set major milestones in human spaceflight. It stands alone in sending crewed missions beyond low Earth orbit, and landing humans on another celestial body.[56] Apollo 8 was the first crewed spacecraft to orbit another celestial body, while Apollo 17 marked the last moonwalk and the last crewed mission beyond low Earth orbit. The program spurred advances in many areas of technology peripheral to rocketry and crewed spaceflight, including avionics, telecommunications, and computers. Apollo sparked interest in many fields of engineering and left many physical facilities and machines developed for the program as landmarks. Many objects and artifacts from the program are on display at various locations throughout the world, notably at the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museums.

Skylab was the United States' first and only independently built space station.[57] Conceived in 1965 as a workshop to be constructed in space from a spent Saturn IB upper stage, the 169,950lb (77,088kg) station was constructed on Earth and launched on May 14, 1973, atop the first two stages of a Saturn V, into a 235-nautical-mile (435km) orbit inclined at 50 to the equator. Damaged during launch by the loss of its thermal protection and one electricity-generating solar panel, it was repaired to functionality by its first crew. It was occupied for a total of 171 days by 3 successive crews in 1973 and 1974.[57] It included a laboratory for studying the effects of microgravity, and a solar observatory.[57] NASA planned to have a Space Shuttle dock with it, and elevate Skylab to a higher safe altitude, but the Shuttle was not ready for flight before Skylab's re-entry on July 11, 1979.[58]

To save cost, NASA used one of the Saturn V rockets originally earmarked for a canceled Apollo mission to launch the Skylab. Apollo spacecraft were used for transporting astronauts to and from the station. Three three-man crews stayed aboard the station for periods of 28, 59, and 84 days. Skylab's habitable volume was 11,290 cubic feet (320m3), which was 30.7 times bigger than that of the Apollo Command Module.[58]

On May 24, 1972, US President Richard M. Nixon and Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin signed an agreement calling for a joint crewed space mission, and declaring intent for all future international crewed spacecraft to be capable of docking with each other.[59] This authorized the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP), involving the rendezvous and docking in Earth orbit of a surplus Apollo Command/Service Module with a Soyuz spacecraft. The mission took place in July 1975. This was the last US crewed space flight until the first orbital flight of the Space Shuttle in April 1981.[60]

The mission included both joint and separate scientific experiments, and provided useful engineering experience for future joint USRussian space flights, such as the ShuttleMir Program[61] and the International Space Station.

The Space Shuttle became the major focus of NASA in the late 1970s and the 1980s. Planned as a frequently launchable and mostly reusable vehicle, four Space Shuttle orbiters were built by 1985. The first to launch, Columbia, did so on April 12, 1981,[62] the 20th anniversary of the first known human space flight.[63]

Its major components were a spaceplane orbiter with an external fuel tank and two solid-fuel launch rockets at its side. The external tank, which was bigger than the spacecraft itself, was the only major component that was not reused. The shuttle could orbit in altitudes of 185643km (115400 miles)[64] and carry a maximum payload (to low orbit) of 24,400kg (54,000lb).[65] Missions could last from 5 to 17 days and crews could be from 2 to 8 astronauts.[64]

On 20 missions (198398) the Space Shuttle carried Spacelab, designed in cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA). Spacelab was not designed for independent orbital flight, but remained in the Shuttle's cargo bay as the astronauts entered and left it through an airlock.[66] On June 18, 1983 Sally Ride became the first American woman in space, on board the Space Shuttle Challenger STS-7 mission.[67] Another famous series of missions were the launch and later successful repair of the Hubble Space Telescope in 1990 and 1993, respectively.[68]

In 1995, Russian-American interaction resumed with the ShuttleMir missions (19951998). Once more an American vehicle docked with a Russian craft, this time a full-fledged space station. This cooperation has continued with Russia and the United States as two of the biggest partners in the largest space station built: the International Space Station (ISS). The strength of their cooperation on this project was even more evident when NASA began relying on Russian launch vehicles to service the ISS during the two-year grounding of the shuttle fleet following the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia disaster.

The Shuttle fleet lost two orbiters and 14 astronauts in two disasters: Challenger in 1986, and Columbia in 2003.[69] While the 1986 loss was mitigated by building the Space Shuttle Endeavour from replacement parts, NASA did not build another orbiter to replace the second loss.[69] NASA's Space Shuttle program had 135 missions when the program ended with the successful landing of the Space Shuttle Atlantis at the Kennedy Space Center on July 21, 2011. The program spanned 30 years with over 300 astronauts sent into space.[70]

The International Space Station (ISS) combines NASA's Space Station Freedom project with the Soviet/Russian Mir-2 station, the European Columbus station, and the Japanese Kib laboratory module.[71] NASA originally planned in the 1980s to develop Freedom alone, but US budget constraints led to the merger of these projects into a single multi-national program in 1993, managed by NASA, the Russian Federal Space Agency (RKA), the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).[72][73] The station consists of pressurized modules, external trusses, solar arrays and other components, which have been launched by Russian Proton and Soyuz rockets, and the US Space Shuttles.[71] It is currently[when?] being assembled in Low Earth Orbit. The on-orbit assembly began in 1998, the completion of the US Orbital Segment occurred in 2019 and the completion of the Russian Orbital Segment is expected by 2020s.[74][75][needs update] The ownership and use of the space station is established in intergovernmental treaties and agreements[76] which divide the station into two areas and allow Russia to retain full ownership of the Russian Orbital Segment (with the exception of Zarya),[77][78] with the US Orbital Segment allocated between the other international partners.[76]

Long-duration missions to the ISS are referred to as ISS Expeditions. Expedition crew members typically spend approximately six months on the ISS.[79] The initial expedition crew size was three, temporarily decreased to two following the Columbia disaster. Since May 2009, expedition crew size has been six crew members.[80] Crew size is expected to be increased to seven, the number the ISS was designed for, once the Commercial Crew Program becomes operational.[81] The ISS has been continuously occupied for the past 19years and 77days, having exceeded the previous record held by Mir; and has been visited by astronauts and cosmonauts from 15 different nations.[82][83]

The station can be seen from the Earth with the naked eye and, as of 2020, is the largest artificial satellite in Earth orbit with a mass and volume greater than that of any previous space station.[84] The Soyuz spacecraft delivers crew members, stays docked for their half-year-long missions and then returns them home. Several uncrewed cargo spacecraft service the ISS; they are the Russian Progress spacecraft which has done so since 2000, the European Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) since 2008, the Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) since 2009, the American Dragon spacecraft since 2012, and the American Cygnus spacecraft since 2013. The Space Shuttle, before its retirement, was also used for cargo transfer and would often switch out expedition crew members, although it did not have the capability to remain docked for the duration of their stay. Until another US crewed spacecraft is ready, crew members will travel to and from the International Space Station exclusively aboard the Soyuz.[85] The highest number of people occupying the ISS has been thirteen; this occurred three times during the late Shuttle ISS assembly missions.[86]

The ISS program is expected to continue until at least 2024, and may be extended beyond 2028.[87] On March 29, 2019, the ISS had its first all-female spacewalk; Anne McClain and Christina Koch will take flight during Women's History Month.[88]

Dragon being berthed to the ISS in May 2012

Cygnus berthed to the ISS in September 2013

The development of the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) vehicles began in 2006 with the purpose of creating American commercially operated uncrewed cargo vehicles to service the ISS.[89] The development of these vehicles was under a fixed-price, milestone-based program, meaning that each company that received a funded award had a list of milestones with a dollar value attached to them that they did not receive until after they had successfully completed the milestone.[90] Companies were also required to raise an unspecified amount of private investment for their proposal.[91]

On December 23, 2008, NASA awarded Commercial Resupply Services contracts to SpaceX and Orbital Sciences Corporation.[92] SpaceX uses its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft.[93] Orbital Sciences uses its Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft. The first Dragon resupply mission occurred in May 2012.[94] The first Cygnus resupply mission occurred in September 2013.[95] The CRS program now provides for all America's ISS cargo needs, with the exception of a few vehicle-specific payloads that are delivered on the European ATV and the Japanese HTV.[96]

The Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program was started in 2010 with the purpose of creating American commercially operated crewed spacecraft capable of delivering at least four crew members to the ISS, staying docked for 180 days and then returning them back to Earth.[97] It is hoped that these vehicles could also transport non-NASA customers to private space stations such those planned by Bigelow Aerospace.[98] Like COTS, CCDev is a fixed-price, milestone-based developmental program that requires some private investment.[90]

In 2010, when NASA announced the winners of the first phase of the program, a total of $50million was divided among five American companies to foster research and development into human spaceflight concepts and technologies in the private sector. In 2011, the winners of the second phase of the program were announced, and $270million was divided among four companies.[99] In 2012, the winners of the third phase of the program were announced; NASA provided $1.1 billion divided among three companies to further develop their crew transportation systems.[100] In 2014, the winners of the final round were announced.[101] SpaceX's Dragon V2 (planned to be launched on a Falcon 9 v1.1) received a contract valued up to $2.6 billion and Boeing's CST-100 (to be launched on an Atlas V) received a contract valued up to $4.2 billion.[102] NASA expects these vehicles to begin transporting humans to the ISS in 2019.[103]

While the Space Shuttle program was still suspended after the loss of Columbia, President George W. Bush announced the Vision for Space Exploration including the retirement of the Space Shuttle after completing the International Space Station. The plan was enacted into law by the NASA Authorization Act of 2005 and directs NASA to develop and launch the Crew Exploration Vehicle (later called Orion) by 2010, return Americans to the Moon by 2020, return to Mars as feasible, repair the Hubble Space Telescope, and continue scientific investigation through robotic solar system exploration, human presence on the ISS, Earth observation, and astrophysics research. The crewed exploration goals prompted NASA's Constellation program.

After the Augustine Committee found that the Constellation program could not meet its goals without substantially more funding, in February 2010, President Barack Obama's administration proposed eliminating public funds for it.[104] Obama's plan was to develop American private spaceflight capabilities to get astronauts to the International Space Station, replacing Russian Soyuz capsules, and to use Orion capsules for ISS emergency escape purposes. During a speech at the Kennedy Space Center on April 15, 2010, Obama proposed a new heavy-lift vehicle (HLV) to replace the formerly planned Ares V.[105] In his speech, Obama called for a crewed mission to an asteroid as soon as 2025, and a crewed mission to Mars orbit by the mid-2030s.[105] The NASA Authorization Act of 2010 was passed by Congress and signed into law on October 11, 2010.[106] The act officially canceled the Constellation program.[106]

The NASA Authorization Act of 2010 required a newly designed HLV be chosen within 90 days of its passing; the launch vehicle was given the name Space Launch System. The new law also required the construction of a beyond low earth orbit spacecraft.[107] The Orion spacecraft, which was being developed as part of the Constellation program, was chosen to fulfill this role.[108] The Space Launch System is planned to launch both Orion and other necessary hardware for missions beyond low Earth orbit.[109] The SLS is to be upgraded over time with more powerful versions. The initial capability of SLS is required to be able to lift 70t (150,000lb) (later 95t or 209,000lb) into LEO. It is then planned to be upgraded to 105t (231,000lb) and then eventually to 130t (290,000lb).[108][110] The Orion capsule first flew on Exploration Flight Test 1 (EFT-1), an uncrewed test flight that was launched on December 5, 2014, atop a Delta IV Heavy rocket.[110]

NASA undertook a feasibility study in 2012 and developed the Asteroid Redirect Mission as an uncrewed mission to move a boulder-sized near-Earth asteroid (or boulder-sized chunk of a larger asteroid) into lunar orbit. The mission would demonstrate ion thruster technology, and develop techniques that could be used for planetary defense against an asteroid collision, as well as cargo transport to Mars in support of a future human mission. The Moon-orbiting boulder might then later be visited by astronauts. The Asteroid Redirect Mission was cancelled in 2017 as part of the FY2018 NASA budget, the first one under President Donald Trump.

Since 2017, NASA's crewed spaceflight program has been the Artemis program, which involves the help of U.S. commercial spaceflight companies and international partners such as ESA.[111] The goal of this program is to land "the first woman and the next man" on the lunar south pole region by 2024. Artemis would be the first step towards the long-term goal of establishing a sustainable presence on the Moon, laying the foundation for private companies to build a lunar economy, and eventually sending humans to Mars.

The Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle was held over from the canceled Constellation program for Artemis. Artemis 1 is the uncrewed initial launch of SLS that would also send an Orion spacecraft on a Distant Retrograde Orbit, which is planned to launch no earlier than November 2020.[112]

NASA's next major space initiative is to be the construction of the Lunar Gateway. This initiative is to involve the construction of a new space station, which will have many features in common with the current International Space Station, except that it will be in orbit about the Moon, instead of the Earth.[113] This space station will be designed primarily for non-continuous human habitation. The first tentative steps of returning to crewed lunar missions will be Artemis 2, which is to include the Orion crew module, propelled by the SLS, and is to launch in 2022.[111] This mission is to be a 10-day mission planned to briefly place a crew of four into a Lunar flyby.[110] The construction of the Gateway would begin with the proposed Artemis 3, which is planned to deliver a crew of four to Lunar orbit along with the first modules of the Gateway. This mission would last for up to 30 days. NASA plans to build full scale deep space habitats such as the Lunar Gateway and the Nautilus-X as part of its Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) program.[114] In 2017, NASA was directed by the congressional NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 to get humans to Mars-orbit (or to the Martian surface) by 2030s.[115][116]

On June 5, 2016, NASA and DARPA announced plans to also build a series of new X-planes over the next 10 years.[117] One of the planes will be the Quiet Supersonic Technology project, burning low-carbon biofuels and generating quiet sonic booms.[117]

More than 1,000 uncrewed missions have been designed to explore the Earth and the solar system.[118] Besides exploration, communication satellites have also been launched by NASA.[119] The missions have been launched directly from Earth or from orbiting space shuttles, which could either deploy the satellite itself, or with a rocket stage to take it farther.

The first US uncrewed satellite was Explorer 1, which started as an ABMA/JPL project during the early part of the Space Race. It was launched in January 1958, two months after Sputnik. At the creation of NASA, the Explorer project was transferred to the agency and still continues to this day. Its missions have been focusing on the Earth and the Sun, measuring magnetic fields and the solar wind, among other aspects.[120] A more recent Earth mission, not related to the Explorer program, was the Hubble Space Telescope, which was brought into orbit in 1990.[121]

The inner Solar System has been made the goal of at least four uncrewed programs. The first was Mariner in the 1960s and 1970s, which made multiple visits to Venus and Mars and one to Mercury. Probes launched under the Mariner program were also the first to make a planetary flyby (Mariner 2), to take the first pictures from another planet (Mariner 4), the first planetary orbiter (Mariner 9), and the first to make a gravity assist maneuver (Mariner 10). This is a technique where the satellite takes advantage of the gravity and velocity of planets to reach its destination.[122]

The first successful landing on Mars was made by Viking 1 in 1976. Twenty years later a rover was landed on Mars by Mars Pathfinder.[123]

Outside Mars, Jupiter was first visited by Pioneer 10 in 1973. More than 20 years later Galileo sent a probe into the planet's atmosphere, and became the first spacecraft to orbit the planet.[124] Pioneer 11 became the first spacecraft to visit Saturn in 1979, with Voyager 2 making the first (and so far only) visits to Uranus and Neptune in 1986 and 1989, respectively. The first spacecraft to leave the solar system was Pioneer 10 in 1983. For a time it was the most distant spacecraft, but it has since been surpassed by both Voyager 1 and Voyager 2.[125]

Pioneers 10 and 11 and both Voyager probes carry messages from the Earth to extraterrestrial life.[126][127] Communication can be difficult with deep space travel. For instance, it took about three hours for a radio signal to reach the New Horizons spacecraft when it was more than halfway to Pluto.[128] Contact with Pioneer 10 was lost in 2003. Both Voyager probes continue to operate as they explore the outer boundary between the Solar System and interstellar space.[129]

On November 26, 2011, NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission was successfully launched for Mars. Curiosity successfully landed on Mars on August 6, 2012, and subsequently began its search for evidence of past or present life on Mars.[130][131][132]

NASA's ongoing investigations include in-depth surveys of Mars (Mars 2020 and InSight) and Saturn and studies of the Earth and the Sun. Other active spacecraft missions are Juno for Jupiter, New Horizons (for Jupiter, Pluto, and beyond), and Dawn for the asteroid belt. NASA continued to support in situ exploration beyond the asteroid belt, including Pioneer and Voyager traverses into the unexplored trans-Pluto region, and Gas Giant orbiters Galileo (19892003), Cassini (19972017), and Juno (2011). In the early 2000s, NASA was put on course for the Moon, however in 2010 this program was cancelled (see Constellation program). As part of that plan the Shuttle was going to be replaced, however, although it was retired its replacement was also cancelled, leaving the US with no human spaceflight launcher for the first time in over three decades.

The New Horizons mission to Pluto was launched in 2006 and successfully performed a flyby of Pluto on July 14, 2015. The probe received a gravity assist from Jupiter in February 2007, examining some of Jupiter's inner moons and testing on-board instruments during the flyby. On the horizon of NASA's plans is the MAVEN spacecraft as part of the Mars Scout Program to study the atmosphere of Mars.[133]

On December 4, 2006, NASA announced it was planning a permanent Moon base.[134] The goal was to start building the Moon base by 2020, and by 2024, have a fully functional base that would allow for crew rotations and in-situ resource utilization. However, in 2009, the Augustine Committee found the program to be on an "unsustainable trajectory."[135] In 2010, President Barack Obama halted existing plans, including the Moon base, and directed a generic focus on crewed missions to asteroids and Mars, as well as extending support for the International Space Station.[136]

Since 2011, NASA's strategic goals have been[137]

In August 2011, NASA accepted the donation of two space telescopes from the National Reconnaissance Office. Despite being stored unused, the instruments are superior to the Hubble Space Telescope.[138]

In September 2011, NASA announced the start of the Space Launch System program to develop a human-rated heavy lift vehicle. The Space Launch System is intended to launch the Orion spacecraft and other elements towards the Moon and Mars.[139] The Orion spacecraft conducted an uncrewed test launch on a Delta IV Heavy rocket in December 2014.[140]

On August 6, 2012, NASA landed the rover Curiosity on Mars. On August 27, 2012, Curiosity transmitted the first pre-recorded message from the surface of Mars back to Earth, made by Administrator Charlie Bolden:

Hello. This is Charlie Bolden, NASA Administrator, speaking to you via the broadcast capabilities of the Curiosity rover, which is now on the surface of Mars.

Since the beginning of time, humankind's curiosity has led us to constantly seek new life ... new possibilities just beyond the horizon. I want to congratulate the men and women of our NASA family as well as our commercial and government partners around the world, for taking us a step beyond to Mars.

This is an extraordinary achievement. Landing a rover on Mars is not easy others have tried only America has fully succeeded. The investment we are making ... the knowledge we hope to gain from our observation and analysis of Gale Crater, will tell us much about the possibility of life on Mars as well as the past and future possibilities for our own planet. Curiosity will bring benefits to Earth and inspire a new generation of scientists and explorers, as it prepares the way for a human mission in the not too distant future. Thank you.[141]

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is currently scheduled to launch in March 2021.[142]

In 1994, there was a Congressional directive to find near-Earth objects (NEOs) larger than 1 kilometer, and 90% of 1 kilometer sized asteroids are estimated to have been found by 2010.[143]

In 2005, the US Congress mandated NASA to achieve by the year 2020 specific levels of search completeness for discovering, cataloging, and characterizing dangerous asteroids larger than 140 meters (460ft) (Act of 2005, H.R. 1022; 109th),[144][145] but no new funds were appropriated for this effort.[146] As of January 2019, it is estimated about 40% of the NEOs of this size have been found, although since by its nature the exact amount of NEOs are unknown the calculations are based on predictions of how many there could be.[147]

(d) Near-Earth Object Survey.--

(1) Survey program.--The Administrator shall plan, develop, and implement a Near-Earth Object Survey program to detect, track, catalogue, and characterize the physical characteristics of near-Earth objects equal to or greater than 140 meters in diameter in order to assess the threat of such near-Earth objects to the Earth. <> It shall be the goal of the

Page 119 STAT. 2923

Survey program to achieve 90 percent completion of its near- Earth object catalogue (based on statistically predicted populations of near-Earth objects) within 15 years after the

date of enactment of this Act.

NEOs were defined in this case by the term near-Earth object as an asteroid or comet with a perihelion distance of less than 1.3 Astronomical Units from the Sun.[149] In late 2019 the directive gained increased notoriety and NASA approved an additional space telescope in addition to the existing observatory programs.[150]

One issue with NEO prediction is trying to estimate how many more are likely to be found In 2000, NASA reduced its estimate of the number of existing near-Earth asteroids over one kilometer in diameter from 1,0002,000 to 5001,000.[151][152] Shortly thereafter, the LINEAR survey provided an alternative estimate of 1,227+17090.[153] In 2011, on the basis of NEOWISE observations, the estimated number of one-kilometer NEAs was narrowed to 98119 (of which 93% had been discovered at the time), while the number of NEAs larger than 140 meters across was estimated at 13,2001,900.[154][155] The NEOWISE estimate differed from other estimates in assuming a slightly lower average asteroid albedo, which produces larger estimated diameters for the same asteroid brightness. This resulted in 911 then known asteroids at least 1km across, as opposed to the 830 then listed by CNEOS.[156] In 2017, using an improved statistical method, two studies reduced the estimated number of NEAs brighter than absolute magnitude 17.75 (approximately over one kilometer in diameter) to 92120.[157][158] The estimated number of asteroids brighter than absolute magnitude of 22.0 (approximately over 140m across) rose to 27,1002,200, double the WISE estimate,[158] of which about a third are known as of 2018. A problem with estimating the number of NEOs is that detections are influenced by a number of factors.[159] Observational biases need to be taken into account when trying to calculate the number of bodies in a population.[159] What is easily detected will be more counted.[160]

For example, it has been easier to spot objects on the night-side of Earth. There is less noise from twilight, and the searcher is looking at the sunlit side of the asteroids. In the daytime sky, a searcher looking towards the sun sees the backside of the object (e.g. comparing a Full Moon at night to a New Moon in daytime). In addition, opposition surge make them even brighter when the Earth is along the axis of sunlight. Finally, the day sky near the Sun is bright.[160] The light of sun hitting asteroids has been called "full asteroid" similar to a "full Moon" and the greater amount of light, creates a bias that makes them easier to detect in this case.[160]

Over half (53%) of the discoveries of Near Earth objects were made in 3.8% of the sky, in a 22.5 cone facing directly away from the Sun, and the vast majority (87%) were made in 15% of the sky, in a 45 cone facing away from the Sun.[161]

NASA turned the infrared space survey telescope WISE back on in 2013 to look for NEOs, and it found some during the course of its operation. NEOcam competed in the highly competitive Discovery program, which became more so due to a low mission rate in the 2010s. Also the Mars Scout Program was terminated at that time, further increasing competition. From its start until 2010, ten missions where launched, only two more mission were launched by 2020 (to the Moon and Mars), additionally the Mars Scout program had launched two additional programs to the planet Mars, which competed with NEOcam as well as more obscure destinations like Venus, which has had no dedicated mission since the 1980s. Finally, NASA plans to turn off its existing Infrared Great Observatory, the Spitzer Space Telescope in 2021 due to technical problems (It is drifting away from the Earth in an Earth-trailing orbit which means it must rotate at extreme angle to communicate with Earth, but keep its battery charge).

Two of the biggest Near-Earth objects, 433 Eros and 1036 Ganymed, were among the first Near Earth asteroids to be detected.[162] As bigger asteroids they reflected more light.[160] The eccentric 433 asteroid was discovered by German astronomer Carl Gustav Witt at the Berlin Urania Observatory on 13 August 1898.[163] 1036 Ganymed is about 20 miles (35km) in diameter,[162] and it was discovered by German astronomer Walter Baade at the Bergedorf Observatory in Hamburg on 23 October 1924.[164][165] In 1999 NASA visited 433 Eros with the NEAR spacecraft which entered its orbit in 2000, closely imaging the asteroid with various instruments at that time.[166] From the 1990s NASA has run many NEO detection programs from Earth bases observatories, greatly increasing the number of objects that have been detected. However, many asteroids are very dark and the ones that are near the Sun are much harder to detect from Earth-based telescopes which observe at night, and thus face away from the Sun. NEOs inside Earth orbit only reflect a part of light also rather than potentially a "full Moon" when they are behind the Earth and fully lit by the Sun.

NASA's ongoing investigations include in-depth surveys of Mars (Mars 2020 and InSight) and Saturn and studies of the Earth and the Sun. Other active spacecraft missions are Juno for Jupiter, New Horizons (for Jupiter, Pluto, and beyond), and Dawn for the asteroid belt. NASA continued to support in situ exploration beyond the asteroid belt, including Pioneer and Voyager traverses into the unexplored trans-Pluto region, and Gas Giant orbiters Galileo (19892003), Cassini (19972017), and Juno (2011).

The New Horizons mission to Pluto was launched in 2006 and successfully performed a flyby of Pluto on July 14, 2015. The probe received a gravity assist from Jupiter in February 2007, examining some of Jupiter's inner moons and testing on-board instruments during the flyby. On the horizon of NASA's plans is the MAVEN spacecraft as part of the Mars Scout Program to study the atmosphere of Mars.[133]

In 2017, President Donald Trump directed NASA to send Humans to Mars by the year 2033.[115][168] Foci in general for NASA were noted as human space exploration, space science, and technology.[168] The Europa Clipper and Mars 2020 continue to be supported for their planned schedules.[169]

In 2018, NASA alongside with other companies including Sensor Coating Systems, Pratt & Whitney, Monitor Coating and UTRC have launched the project CAUTION (CoAtings for Ultra High Temperature detectION). This project aims to enhance the temperature range of the Thermal History Coating up to 1,500C and beyond. The final goal of this project is improving the safety of jet engines as well as increasing efficiency and reducing CO2 emissions.[170]

The Northrop Grumman Antares rocket, with Cygnus resupply spacecraft on board, launches from Pad-0A, Wednesday, April 17, 2019 at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Northrop Grumman's 11th contracted cargo resupply mission for NASA to the International Space Station will deliver about 7,600 pounds of science and research, crew supplies and vehicle hardware to the orbital laboratory and its crew.[171]

Recent and planned activities include:

In response to the Apollo 1 accident, which killed three astronauts in 1967, Congress directed NASA to form an Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) to advise the NASA Administrator on safety issues and hazards in NASA's aerospace programs. In the aftermath of the Shuttle Columbia disaster, Congress required that the ASAP submit an annual report to the NASA Administrator and to Congress.[176] By 1971, NASA had also established the Space Program Advisory Council and the Research and Technology Advisory Council to provide the administrator with advisory committee support. In 1977, the latter two were combined to form the NASA Advisory Council (NAC).[177]

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2014 reaffirmed the importance of ASAP.

Some of the major NASA directives were to land people on the Moon, build the Space Shuttle, and build a large space station. Typically, the major directives had the intervention of the science advisory, political, funding, and public interest that synergized into various waves of effort often heavily swayed by technical, funding, and worldwide events. For example, there was a major push to build Space Station Freedom in the 1980s, but when the Cold War ended, the Russians, the Americans and other international partners came together to build the International Space Station.

In the 2010s, the major shift was the retirement of the Space Shuttle and the development of a new crewed heavy lift rocket, the Space Launch System. Missions for the new System have varied but overall, they were similar as it primarily involved the desire to send a human into the space. The Space Exploration Initiative of the 1980s opened newer avenues of galaxy exploration.

In the coming decades, the focus is gradually shifting towards exploration of planet Mars; however, some differences exist over the technologies to develop and focus on for the exploration.[178] One of the options considered was the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM).[178] ARM had largely been defunded in 2017, but the key technologies developed for ARM would be utilized for future exploration, especially on a solar electric propulsion system.[179][178]

Longer project execution timelines means it is up to future officials to execute on a directive, which often leads to directional mismanagement. For example, a Shuttle replacement has numerous components involved, each making some headway before being called off for various reasons including the National Aerospace Plane, Venture Star, Orbital Space Plane, Ares I, and others. The asteroid mission was not a major directive in the 2010s. Instead, the general support rested with the long-term goal of getting humans to Mars. The Space Shuttle was retired and much of the existing road map was shelved including the then planned Lunar Return and Ares I human launch vehicle.

Previously, in the early 2000s, there was a plan called the Constellation Program but this was defunded in the early 2010s.[180][181][182][183] In the 1990s, there was a plan called "Faster, Better, Cheaper"[184] In the 1980s, there was a directive to build a crewed space station.[185]

The NASA Authorization Act of 2017, which included $19.5 billion in funding for that fiscal year, directed NASA to get humans near or on the surface of Mars by the early 2030s.[186]

More here:

NASA - Wikipedia

SpaceX Test Delayed to Sunday – The New York Times

Because of rough seas in the Atlantic, SpaceX called off a test on Saturday that would have destroyed a rocket in flight to demonstrate that its spacecraft are safe for astronauts.

The company will now try to conduct the test on Sunday between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. Eastern time.

Since 2012, the company founded by Elon Musk has been flying to the International Space Station for NASA, but it has never before carried a human crew, only cargo. In a final major milestone before it is ready to start taking NASA astronauts to the station, SpaceX will test a system that is to rescue astronauts in case of an emergency during launch.

The main objective of this test is to show that we can carry the astronauts safely away, said Benji Reed, director of crew mission management for SpaceX, during a news conference on Friday.

This flight of a Falcon 9 rocket with a Crew Dragon capsule on top is known as an in-flight abort test. It will not have any astronauts aboard, and it will not be like most launches where were really hoping for it not to be exciting, said Kathy Lueders, manager of the commercial crew program for NASA.

About 84 seconds after launch, the Falcon 9 rocket will shut off its nine engines, simulating a failure, and powerful thrusters on the Crew Dragon will ignite to propel the capsule away. The force of that sudden departure will destroy the rocket, possibly even causing it to explode.

Probably a fireball of some kind, Mr. Reed said.

After reaching an altitude of about 25 miles, the Dragon will then drop off the trunk, or bottom half of the spacecraft, and small thrusters will push the capsule into the correct vertical orientation before parachutes deploy. It is to splash down in the Atlantic Ocean just 10 minutes after launch.

While weather on Saturday looked favorable at the launchpad, waves and winds were high at the splashdown site.

If the test is successful, Ms. Lueders said, the next Crew Dragon mission, which is scheduled to take two NASA astronauts, Douglas G. Hurley and Robert L. Behnken, to the space station, could launch as soon as early March.

A success in SpaceXs in-flight abort test would bring NASA closer to the culmination of its strategy of turning to private companies SpaceX and Boeing for providing transportation for its astronauts. In the past, NASA built and operated its own vehicles, like the space shuttles.

Delays have pushed back the first commercial crew flights by a couple of years, but NASA hopes that the first crewed missions will take off this year. In California, SpaceX is completing construction of its next Crew Dragon capsule and plans to ship it to Florida within a few weeks.

Last month, Boeing launched its capsule, called Starliner, in a test flight without astronauts, but a problem with the spacecrafts clock led to calling off a planned docking at the space station. Boeing and NASA are investigating what went wrong and NASA will decide whether it will allow astronauts on the next Starliner flight, or if it will require Boeing to first repeat the uncrewed orbital test flight.

Since the retirement of the space shuttles in 2011, NASA has had to rely on Soyuz rockets built by Russia for taking astronauts into orbit. It is looking to buy one or two more seats from Russia, at a cost of more than $80 million apiece. If SpaceX and Boeing experience further delays, NASA will have to cut the number of astronauts at the space station, which would limit the amount of scientific research.

See the article here:

SpaceX Test Delayed to Sunday - The New York Times

Astronauts on the moon and Mars may grow their homes there out of mushrooms, says NASA – CNN International

');$vidEndSlate.removeClass('video__end-slate--inactive').addClass('video__end-slate--active');}};CNN.autoPlayVideoExist = (CNN.autoPlayVideoExist === true) ? true : false;var configObj = {thumb: 'none',video: 'business/2019/10/22/mycelium-mushroom-material-mission-ahead-orig.cnn',width: '100%',height: '100%',section: 'domestic',profile: 'expansion',network: 'cnn',markupId: 'large-media_0',adsection: 'cnn.com_technology_scienceandspace_videopage',frameWidth: '100%',frameHeight: '100%',posterImageOverride: {"mini":{"width":220,"type":"jpg","uri":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/191112203339-mushroom-generic-small-169.jpg","height":124},"xsmall":{"width":307,"type":"jpg","uri":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/191112203339-mushroom-generic-medium-plus-169.jpg","height":173},"small":{"width":460,"type":"jpg","uri":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/191112203339-mushroom-generic-large-169.jpg","height":259},"medium":{"width":780,"type":"jpg","uri":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/191112203339-mushroom-generic-exlarge-169.jpg","height":438},"large":{"width":1100,"type":"jpg","uri":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/191112203339-mushroom-generic-super-169.jpg","height":619},"full16x9":{"width":1600,"type":"jpg","uri":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/191112203339-mushroom-generic-full-169.jpg","height":900},"mini1x1":{"width":120,"type":"jpg","uri":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/191112203339-mushroom-generic-small-11.jpg","height":120}}},autoStartVideo = false,isVideoReplayClicked = false,callbackObj,containerEl,currentVideoCollection = [],currentVideoCollectionId = '',isLivePlayer = false,mediaMetadataCallbacks,mobilePinnedView = null,moveToNextTimeout,mutePlayerEnabled = false,nextVideoId = '',nextVideoUrl = '',turnOnFlashMessaging = false,videoPinner,videoEndSlateImpl;if (CNN.autoPlayVideoExist === false) {autoStartVideo = true;if (autoStartVideo === true) {if (turnOnFlashMessaging === true) {autoStartVideo = false;containerEl = jQuery(document.getElementById(configObj.markupId));CNN.VideoPlayer.showFlashSlate(containerEl);} else {CNN.autoPlayVideoExist = true;}}}configObj.autostart = CNN.Features.enableAutoplayBlock ? false : autoStartVideo;CNN.VideoPlayer.setPlayerProperties(configObj.markupId, autoStartVideo, isLivePlayer, isVideoReplayClicked, mutePlayerEnabled);CNN.VideoPlayer.setFirstVideoInCollection(currentVideoCollection, configObj.markupId);videoEndSlateImpl = new CNN.VideoEndSlate('large-media_0');function findNextVideo(currentVideoId) {var i,vidObj;if (currentVideoId && jQuery.isArray(currentVideoCollection) && currentVideoCollection.length > 0) {for (i = 0; i 0) {videoEndSlateImpl.showEndSlateForContainer();if (mobilePinnedView) {mobilePinnedView.disable();}}}}callbackObj = {onPlayerReady: function (containerId) {var playerInstance,containerClassId = '#' + containerId;CNN.VideoPlayer.handleInitialExpandableVideoState(containerId);CNN.VideoPlayer.handleAdOnCVPVisibilityChange(containerId, CNN.pageVis.isDocumentVisible());if (CNN.Features.enableMobileWebFloatingPlayer &&Modernizr &&(Modernizr.phone || Modernizr.mobile || Modernizr.tablet) &&CNN.VideoPlayer.getLibraryName(containerId) === 'fave' &&jQuery(containerClassId).parents('.js-pg-rail-tall__head').length > 0 &&CNN.contentModel.pageType === 'article') {playerInstance = FAVE.player.getInstance(containerId);mobilePinnedView = new CNN.MobilePinnedView({element: jQuery(containerClassId),enabled: false,transition: CNN.MobileWebFloatingPlayer.transition,onPin: function () {playerInstance.hideUI();},onUnpin: function () {playerInstance.showUI();},onPlayerClick: function () {if (mobilePinnedView) {playerInstance.enterFullscreen();playerInstance.showUI();}},onDismiss: function() {CNN.Videx.mobile.pinnedPlayer.disable();playerInstance.pause();}});/* Storing pinned view on CNN.Videx.mobile.pinnedPlayer So that all players can see the single pinned player */CNN.Videx = CNN.Videx || {};CNN.Videx.mobile = CNN.Videx.mobile || {};CNN.Videx.mobile.pinnedPlayer = mobilePinnedView;}if (Modernizr && !Modernizr.phone && !Modernizr.mobile && !Modernizr.tablet) {if (jQuery(containerClassId).parents('.js-pg-rail-tall__head').length) {videoPinner = new CNN.VideoPinner(containerClassId);videoPinner.init();} else {CNN.VideoPlayer.hideThumbnail(containerId);}}},onContentEntryLoad: function(containerId, playerId, contentid, isQueue) {CNN.VideoPlayer.showSpinner(containerId);},onContentPause: function (containerId, playerId, videoId, paused) {if (mobilePinnedView) {CNN.VideoPlayer.handleMobilePinnedPlayerStates(containerId, paused);}},onContentMetadata: function (containerId, playerId, metadata, contentId, duration, width, height) {var endSlateLen = jQuery(document.getElementById(containerId)).parent().find('.js-video__end-slate').eq(0).length;CNN.VideoSourceUtils.updateSource(containerId, metadata);if (endSlateLen > 0) {videoEndSlateImpl.fetchAndShowRecommendedVideos(metadata);}},onAdPlay: function (containerId, cvpId, token, mode, id, duration, blockId, adType) {/* Dismissing the pinnedPlayer if another video players plays an Ad */CNN.VideoPlayer.dismissMobilePinnedPlayer(containerId);clearTimeout(moveToNextTimeout);CNN.VideoPlayer.hideSpinner(containerId);if (Modernizr && !Modernizr.phone && !Modernizr.mobile && !Modernizr.tablet) {if (typeof videoPinner !== 'undefined' && videoPinner !== null) {videoPinner.setIsPlaying(true);videoPinner.animateDown();}}},onAdPause: function (containerId, playerId, token, mode, id, duration, blockId, adType, instance, isAdPause) {if (mobilePinnedView) {CNN.VideoPlayer.handleMobilePinnedPlayerStates(containerId, isAdPause);}},onTrackingFullscreen: function (containerId, PlayerId, dataObj) {CNN.VideoPlayer.handleFullscreenChange(containerId, dataObj);if (mobilePinnedView &&typeof dataObj === 'object' &&FAVE.Utils.os === 'iOS' && !dataObj.fullscreen) {jQuery(document).scrollTop(mobilePinnedView.getScrollPosition());playerInstance.hideUI();}},onContentPlay: function (containerId, cvpId, event) {var playerInstance,prevVideoId;if (CNN.companion && typeof CNN.companion.updateCompanionLayout === 'function') {CNN.companion.updateCompanionLayout('restoreEpicAds');}clearTimeout(moveToNextTimeout);CNN.VideoPlayer.hideSpinner(containerId);if (Modernizr && !Modernizr.phone && !Modernizr.mobile && !Modernizr.tablet) {if (typeof videoPinner !== 'undefined' && videoPinner !== null) {videoPinner.setIsPlaying(true);videoPinner.animateDown();}}},onContentReplayRequest: function (containerId, cvpId, contentId) {if (Modernizr && !Modernizr.phone && !Modernizr.mobile && !Modernizr.tablet) {if (typeof videoPinner !== 'undefined' && videoPinner !== null) {videoPinner.setIsPlaying(true);var $endSlate = jQuery(document.getElementById(containerId)).parent().find('.js-video__end-slate').eq(0);if ($endSlate.length > 0) {$endSlate.removeClass('video__end-slate--active').addClass('video__end-slate--inactive');}}}},onContentBegin: function (containerId, cvpId, contentId) {if (mobilePinnedView) {mobilePinnedView.enable();}/* Dismissing the pinnedPlayer if another video players plays a video. */CNN.VideoPlayer.dismissMobilePinnedPlayer(containerId);CNN.VideoPlayer.mutePlayer(containerId);if (CNN.companion && typeof CNN.companion.updateCompanionLayout === 'function') {CNN.companion.updateCompanionLayout('removeEpicAds');}CNN.VideoPlayer.hideSpinner(containerId);clearTimeout(moveToNextTimeout);CNN.VideoSourceUtils.clearSource(containerId);jQuery(document).triggerVideoContentStarted();},onContentComplete: function (containerId, cvpId, contentId) {if (CNN.companion && typeof CNN.companion.updateCompanionLayout === 'function') {CNN.companion.updateCompanionLayout('restoreFreewheel');}navigateToNextVideo(contentId, containerId);},onContentEnd: function (containerId, cvpId, contentId) {if (Modernizr && !Modernizr.phone && !Modernizr.mobile && !Modernizr.tablet) {if (typeof videoPinner !== 'undefined' && videoPinner !== null) {videoPinner.setIsPlaying(false);}}},onCVPVisibilityChange: function (containerId, cvpId, visible) {CNN.VideoPlayer.handleAdOnCVPVisibilityChange(containerId, visible);}};if (typeof configObj.context !== 'string' || configObj.context.length 0) {configObj.adsection = window.ssid;}CNN.autoPlayVideoExist = (CNN.autoPlayVideoExist === true) ? true : false;CNN.VideoPlayer.getLibrary(configObj, callbackObj, isLivePlayer);});CNN.INJECTOR.scriptComplete('videodemanddust');

See original here:

Astronauts on the moon and Mars may grow their homes there out of mushrooms, says NASA - CNN International

NASA’s Mars 2020 Rover Closer to Getting Its Name – Jet Propulsion Laboratory

155 students from across the U.S. have been chosen as semifinalists in NASA's essay contest to name the Mars 2020 rover. and see it launch from Cape Canaveral this July.

NASA's Mars2020 rover is one step closer to having its own name after 155 students acrossthe U.S. were chosen as semifinalists in the "Name the Rover" essay contest.Just one will be selected to win the grand prize - the exciting honor of namingthe rover and an invitation to see the spacecraft launch in July 2020 from CapeCanaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The currentlyunnamed rover is a robotic scientist weighing more than 2,300 pounds (1,000kilograms). It will search for signs of past microbial life, characterize theplanet's climate and geology, collect samples for future return to Earth andpave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet.

"Thisrover is the first leg of a round-trip mission to Mars that will advanceunderstanding in key science fields like astrobiology," said Lori Glaze,director of NASA's Planetary Science Division. "This contest is a cool wayto engage the next generation and encourage careers in all STEM fields. Thechosen name will help define this rover's unique personality among our fleet ofMartian spacecraft."

With more than 28,000essay submissions received from K-12 students, NASA recruited volunteer contestjudges from every U.S. state and territory. Nearly 4,700 eligible judge volunteerswere selected from a diverse pool of educators, professionals, and spaceenthusiasts and were instrumental in selecting the semifinalists.

The next phasesof judging will reduce the competition to nine finalists, and the public willhave an opportunity to vote for their favorite name online in late January. Theresults of the poll will be a consideration in the final naming selection.

The ninefinalists will talk with a panel of experts, including Glaze, NASA astronautJessica Watkins, NASAJPL rover driver Nick Wiltsie and Clara Ma, who proposed the name for the MarsScience Laboratory rover, Curiosity, as a sixth-grade student in 2009. Thegrand prize winner will be announced in early March 2020.

For completecontest and prize details, including a full listing of the 155 state/territory semifinalists,visit:

https://www.futureengineers.org/nametherover

The namingcontest partnership is part of a Space Act Agreement in educational and publicoutreach efforts between NASA, Battelle of Columbus, Ohio, and Future Engineersof Burbank, California.

NASA's Jet PropulsionLaboratory in Pasadena, California, manages rover development for the agency.The Launch Services Program at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida isresponsible for launch management.

Mars 2020 ispart of a larger program that includes missions to the Moon as a way to preparefor human exploration of the Red Planet. Charged with returning astronauts tothe Moon by 2024, NASA will establish a sustained human presence on and aroundthe Moon by 2028 through NASA's Artemislunar exploration plans.

For moreinformation about the mission, go to:

https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/

For more aboutNASA's Moon to Mars plans, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/topics/moon-to-mars

News Media Contact

DC Agle Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California 818-393-9011 david.c.agle@jpl.nasa.gov

2020-007

Originally posted here:

NASA's Mars 2020 Rover Closer to Getting Its Name - Jet Propulsion Laboratory

What will NASA’s Mars 2020 rover be called? There’s 155 names on the shortlist. – Space.com

And then there were 155.

The competition to name NASA's next Mars rover has entered the home stretch, with the space agency culling the field from 28,000 student entries to 155 semifinalists.

The 2,300-lb. (1,040 kilograms) robot, which currently goes by Mars 2020, is scheduled to launch this July and touch down inside the Red Planet's Jezero Crater in February 2021. Mars 2020 will search for signs of ancient life, characterize the geology of its surroundings, collect and cache samples for eventual return to Earth and test out tech that will aid human exploration of the Red Planet, among other tasks.

Related: NASA's Mars Rover 2020 Mission in Pictures

And it will do this work with a much catchier name.

"This rover is the first leg of a round-trip mission to Mars that will advance understanding in key science fields like astrobiology," Lori Glaze, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division, said in a statement Monday (Jan. 13). "This contest is a cool way to engage the next generation and encourage careers in all STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] fields. The chosen name will help define this rover's unique personality among our fleet of Martian spacecraft."

NASA selected 4,700 volunteer judges to sort through the deluge of submissions from K-12 students around the country. The newly announced semifinalists proposed a wide variety of names, from the grand (Excelsior) to the playful (Dusty).

NASA's three previous Mars rovers Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity were also named by students. Many of the Mars 2020 semifinalists went down a similar path as those winners, proposing monikers such as Ingenuity, Imagination, Inspiration and Courage.

You can find all 155 semifinalists on the Mars 2020 naming-contest website here.

The next cull will whittle the field down to nine finalists, who will get a nice intellectual reward for making it that far. The nine students "will talk with a panel of experts, including Glaze, NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins, NASA JPL [Jet Propulsion Laboratory] rover driver Nick Wiltsie and Clara Ma, who proposed the name for the Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity, as a sixth-grade student in 2009," NASA officials wrote in the statement.

The public will be able to vote for their favorite of the nine finalist names starting in late January, NASA officials added. This public vote will be one factor considered in the selection of the final name, which will be announced in early March.

Mike Wall's book about the search for alien life, "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), is out now. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.

See the rest here:

What will NASA's Mars 2020 rover be called? There's 155 names on the shortlist. - Space.com

See NASA’s new lunar rover test out its ‘moon shimmy’ on Earth – CNET

This engineering model will help NASA with the final design for the Viper lunar rover.

NASA has what amounts to a moon sandbox at the Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. The agency took a model of its new Viper rover out to play in conditions that mimic the lunar surface.

"We call this maneuver the 'Moon shimmy,'" NASA's Ames Research Center team tweetedMonday, along with a video showing the rover wiggling its wheels in a large soil bin filled with lunar simulant.

"Test data will be used to evaluate the traction of the vehicle and wheels, determine the power requirements for a variety of maneuvers and compare methods of traversing steep slopes," NASA said in a statement Monday.

Viper stands for Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover. The rover's purpose is to wheel around the lunar south pole on a hunt for water ice, which it'll also sample. This is the same region of the moon NASA is targeting for its crewed Artemis mission in 2024.

NASA has ambitious plans to return astronauts to the moon and to establish an ongoing human presence there. Local water resources could help sustain that dream.

The Viper engineering model is used to test the technologies and hardware that will go into the finalized machine. NASA is hoping to deliver the golf cart-size rover to the moon in late 2022. NASA will be delighted if it receives an icy welcome.

Now playing: Watch this: NASA unveils new next-generation spacesuits

12:15

See original here:

See NASA's new lunar rover test out its 'moon shimmy' on Earth - CNET

We’re All Going to Live in Mushroom Houses on Mars – Popular Mechanics

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/Arizona State University/basker_dhandapani

NASA is sharing information about its myco-architecture program, in which experimental fungus-based building technologies could be the feasible future of Mars habitats. Science fiction often imagines our future on Mars and other planets as run by machines, with metallic cities and flying cars rising above dunes of red sand, NASA says. But the reality may be even stranger.

The myco-architecture (myco is the prefix meaning fungus) NASA is excited about isnt only a new way to make furniture, although it can do that, the agency says. Mushroom Housenot its real nameis an integrated habitat with layers. The tough, complex fibers made by fungal mycelia are building blocks of furniture, interior walls, and the innermost layer of the outer shell. After that comes a layer of cyanobacteria, which photosynthesize water and CO into oxygen and fungus food. The outermost layer in the model is solid ice, which is both protective and nourishing to the cyanobacteria below.

2018 Stanford-Brown-RISD iGEM Team

Bricks and other structures made using myco-architecture are lightweight, easily blended with reused materials like wood chips to make something like plywood, but with mushrooms. NASA pithily says sci-fi relies on shiny metal and flying cars, but the idea of organically grown housing or even spaceships goes back decades. And NASA isnt alone in suggesting that fast-growing natural fibers are the future: In Kim Stanley Robinsons 2018 novel Red Moon, bamboo forms the backbone of an international moon station where thousands of people live and work. Characters marvel at how much the plants grow within even just a day.

On the food podcast Check the Pantry, an Alaska mushroom farmer said once his mushroom cave has taken root, so to speak, new mushrooms can be harvested about every three to five days for the whole growing season. Some fungi grow so fast that scientists are attempting to slow them in order to better study and prevent environmental harm. Different kinds feed on decaying organic material or have symbiotic relationships with plants. The relationship in the NASA myco-architectural model resembles naturally occurring lichen, which are composite organisms made of cyanobacteria and different kinds of fungi.

The lab running the myco-architectural experiments explains that any travel to Mars will follow the so-called turtle model: If we want to live there, we have to carry everything with us in order to do that. (Remember what Matt Damon has to do in order to make nutritious soil for growing potatoes in The Martian?)

On our planet, scientists would build and seed a full-scale fungal Chia Pet house. On Earth, a flexible plastic shell produced to the final habitat dimensions would be seeded with mycelia and dried feedstock and the outside sterilized. [...] At destination, the mycelial and feedstock material would be moistened with water and heated, initiating fungal growth.

Inside the Chia Mushroom House, myco-architecture research lead Lynn Rothschild says the fungi could be biologically tuned to make all kinds of other materials like bioplastics and latex. The fungal materials are insulating, self-repairing, fire-retardant, and with the right melanin levels, reflective of incoming radiation. Finally, science is catching up to what Mario and friends have known since 1988s Super Mario Bros. 3: A Mushroom House bestows a valuable bonus.

Read more here:

We're All Going to Live in Mushroom Houses on Mars - Popular Mechanics

An Earth-size planet in the habitable zone? New NASA discovery is one special world. – Space.com

HONOLULU When scientists search for alien planets, they get a special thrill when they find one that seems to reflect our own world back to us.

TOI 700 d is the newest member of that elite club. The planet was discovered courtesy of NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, as one of three worlds in a distant solar system. Unlike its neighbors and the vast majority of planets scientists have identified so far it seems to be about the same size as Earth and to orbit its star at a distance that would allow water to remain liquid on its surface. The discovery was announced here on Jan. 6 at the 235th meeting of the American Astronomical Society.

As an Earth-size planet in its star's habitable zone, TOI 700 d is a big deal for scientists. "We really want to understand the question, could life form on these planets around very small stars? And this is kind of a nice big step towards that goal," Joseph Rodriguez, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Massachusetts, told Space.com. "We're nowhere near it yet and we're talking, probably, decades, if not much, much longer to answer this question. but we're making steps towards arguably one of the biggest questions in science and not just science but philosophy, religion and a lot of other things."

Related: The Biggest Alien Planet Discoveries of 2019

But for all their excitement, the scientists involved in the discovery don't know a whole lot about TOI 700 d. First, they know about its star, a red dwarf that appears to be a more pleasant sun than some. Active stars can fling bursts of radiation and of highly charged material at planets orbiting them, potentially sterilizing these worlds.

"The star is absolutely quiet," Emily Gilbert, a graduate student in astronomy at the University of Chicago, told Space.com. "We had 11 [months] of TESS data and I didn't see a single flare. The star is a little bit older so it's kind of calmed down a bit over its lifetime, we expect."

The scientists have spotted three planets so far around this quiet star: TOI 700 b, c and d. The first two orbit too close to the star to be promising worlds for life, but the third orbits in the magic ring scientists call the habitable zone, where temperatures allow water to remain liquid on a planet's surface. "It's actually farther into the habitable zone than Earth; Earth itself is barely habitable," Gilbert said.

They are also confident, although not positive, that this planet is tidally locked the same side always faces its star in a constant day, while the other side is in constant night.

But from there, the uncertainties start to pile up. In particular, the scientists working on TOI 700 d want one crucial measurement: its mass. That number would clarify how likely the planet is to be a rocky world like ours, rather than a gassy body that looks like a small sibling of Neptune.

All About Space

All About Space magazine takes you on an awe-inspiring journey through our solar system and beyond, from the amazing technology and spacecraft that enables humanity to venture into orbit, to the complexities of space science.

Subscribe for just $5 (or 5/5).VIEW DEAL ON All About Space

They've announced their findings anyway because that measurement is going to be very hard to get. "There are facilities that can do it," Rodriguez said. "But there's only a few, it's going to take years probably and multiple campaigns and hundreds of observations."

The scientists also don't know right now whether the planet has an atmosphere, a vital clue when looking for potential life. "If you have just a rock, no one can live there," Gilbert said. Unfortunately, answering that question will be even more difficult than measuring the world's mass.

So for now, scientists are assuming TOI 700 d is rocky, and using models to try to bridge the gap between what they know about the planet and what they know about what life requires. "Modeling helps us say, how robust is this planet? How well can it maintain habitable surface temperatures under all these conditions?" Gabrielle Engelmann-Suissa, a Universities Space Research Association visiting research assistant at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, told Space.com.

All told, Engelmann-Suissa and her colleagues ran 20 different models, each starting with a different combination of surface characteristics: Is the world covered in land, or is it covered in water? And atmospheres? Like Earth's today, like ancient Earth's, or like that of Mars, for example.

Engelmann-Suissa and her colleagues have no idea which of those models is a better match for the reality of TOI 700 d if any of them are. "It sounds like a free-for-all and it kind of is when you model all these types of planets," she said. But the point isn't to stumble upon a scenario that matches the distant truth. Instead, it's to get a sense of the range of possibilities and to understand whether scientific instruments could distinguish between them.

On the first front, the TOI 700 d models look somewhat promising. "None of them went into a runaway greenhouse effect," Engelmann-Suissa said. "In no simulation that we studied did the ocean evaporate, which is cool, that's a good sign." She added that the global average temperatures ranged fairly dramatically, but not beyond the bounds of what scientists can imagine particularly hardy life withstanding.

The hottest simulation, for example, turned up an average surface temperature of about 196 degrees Fahrenheit (91 degrees Celsius). "That's way too hot for us to be comfortable," Engelmann-Suissa said. "It's really hot, but it would kind of be presumptuous to say there's no life"

Modeling's second goal, to better understand how instruments could see the world, offers a grimmer evaluation of TOI 700 d. Nothing scientists have right now will be able to begin to differentiate between all these possible flavors of planet. NASA's next major telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope, won't be able to either, and most future concept designs rely on similar apparatuses.

"That's a big problem in our field, there's kind of dim prospects for looking at these planets," Engelmann-Suissa said. "We need to really experiment with detectors and figure out, OK, how can we get this signal precision? Luckily, it's not my problem."

But what the scientists do know for sure is that starting this summer, TESS will again be pointed toward TOI 700 and that could reveal whole new mysteries to try to solve. "Maybe we'll find out that we don't know the architecture of the system: Hey, there's a few more planets," Rodriguez said. "Maybe it's something where it starts to resemble our own solar system, which seems to be uncommon.

"But we just don't know, and I think that's really interesting," Rodriguez said. "We're going to have a lot more data and we're just starting to peel the orange and figure out what's going on with the system."

Email Meghan Bartels at mbartels@space.com or follow her @meghanbartels. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

Here is the original post:

An Earth-size planet in the habitable zone? New NASA discovery is one special world. - Space.com

Valley Middle School student selected as semifinalist in NASA’s ‘Name the Rover’ contest – Grand Forks Herald

Gabbi Cormier, an eighth-grader at Valley Middle School, has been selected as a semifinalist in a nationwide contest to name the information-gathering robot that NASA plans to send to Mars next year.

Students across the United States were invited to enter the Mars 2020 Name the Rover essay contest. Fifty-two semifinalists per grade level group -- kindergarten to fourth-graders, fifth- to eighth-graders and ninth- to 12th-graders -- were selected.

Cormier submitted the name Cueillir, which is French for gatherer, according to a news release from Grand Forks Public Schools.

The term gatherer means one who collects information in an effort to better understand complicated things, Cormier said.

The Mars 2020 rover is a piece of robotic equipment, weighing more than 2,300 pounds, which will search for signs of past microbial life, characterize the planets climate and geology, collect samples for scientists to study back on Earth and pave the way for human exploration of the red planet.

We are most proud of Gabbi and her accomplishments thus far, said Todd Selk, principal at Valley Middle School. She is creative, curious and enthusiastic about her learning. On top of that, Gabbi is a wonderful young person, representing herself and our school with the highest integrity.

The naming contest partnership is part of the Space Act Agreement between the NASA, Future Engineers and Battelle Education organizations.

Three finalists per grade level group will be announced Tuesday, Jan. 21, and will advance to the final round of judging, which includes a public vote. NASA plans to announce the selected rover name Feb. 18, exactly one year before the rover is scheduled to land on the surface of Mars.

The winner of the Name the Rover contest will win a trip with up to four family members to see the Mars 2020 rover launch.

Read more from the original source:

Valley Middle School student selected as semifinalist in NASA's 'Name the Rover' contest - Grand Forks Herald

SpaceX’s next rocket launch is doomed, and that’s great for astronauts – Business Insider

SpaceX is about to do the unthinkable.

On Sunday morning, the company plans to launch a doomed Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, with a brand-new spaceship for NASA, called Crew Dragon, perched on top.

The 230-foot-tall vehicle is expected to heave itself off the ground between 8 a.m. and 12 p.m. ET, but then suddenly shut down its engines about 84 seconds into flight. At that point, the Falcon 9 will be traveling nearly twice the speed of sound some 13 miles above Earth's surface.

What comes next for the rocket will be catastrophic. Within seconds of cutting its engines, aerodynamic forces will throttle the uncontrolled, tube-shaped body and rip it to pieces. Inside, huge tanks full of liquid oxygen and RP-1 kerosene propellant will rip open so a large explosion and fireball is almost a given.

But if all goes according to plan, the Crew Dragon will escape to safety moments after the failure begins.

Such a scenario is one of an astronaut's worst nightmares, but NASA is excited to get on with the flight. That's because the spectacle is part of a highly orchestrated, human-free, and strenuous test of the Crew Dragon's launch escape or abort system.

If the empty spaceship flies away to safety and splashes down in the Atlantic Ocean, as planned, SpaceX will be a penultimate step closer to launching astronauts its first-ever human passengers who are part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program.

"We are purposely failing a launch vehicle to make sure that our abort system on the spacecraft that we'll be flying for our crews works," Kathy Lueders, the manager of the agency's program, said during a televised press briefing on Friday. "This is a very important test."

Nine astronauts will fly the first four crewed missions inside SpaceX and Boeing's new spaceships for NASA, called Crew Dragon and CST-100 Starliner, respectively. NASA via AP

More than the safety of SpaceX's launch system for astronauts is riding on the in-flight abort test. In fact, NASA's ability to launch astronauts from American soil at all partly depends on it.

In July 2011, NASA retired its space shuttle fleet without a new American ship to get astronauts to and from orbit from the International Space Station a $150 billion, football field-size laboratory that orbits Earth. Since that time, the agency has had no practical choice but to buy tickets aboard Russia's Soyuz spacecraft for astronauts, to the tune of about $80 million per seat today.

The first crewed flights of NASA's commercial program were supposed to start taking off around 2015. But neither SpaceX nor Boeing, which is also part of the agency's program, have not yet completed rigorous mandatory testing required to launch astronauts.

"Most of us are just way past ready for this to happen. It has taken a lot longer than anybody thought," Wayne Hale, an aerospace engineering consultant and retired NASA space shuttle program manager, told Business Insider. "This year we really need to do it. It really needs to be done."

Saturday's test is the next-to-last step toward that goal, which is why it's so crucial that everything go right.

"The number-one most important thing is we launch them safely," Benji Reed, SpaceX's director of crew mission management, said during NASA's briefing at Kennedy Space Center on Friday.

Hale said that "everybody hopes at this stage that success is the outcome." But he added that in-flight abort tests are not only rare only a handful of them have been done since the Apollo moon program in the 1960s but also "a very difficult situation" where "many things can go wrong."

SpaceX has had trouble with its parachutes, for example, though Hale noted that tweaking and testing has apparently resolved those difficulties. Meanwhile, Boeing also saw a parachute deployment hiccup with its CST-100 Starliner spacecraft due to an incorrect rigging. A clock error on the Starliner also caused Boeing's first uncrewed launch of the vehicle toward the space station to veer wildly off-course.

SpaceX performs a parachute test for its Crew Dragon spaceship, which is designed to ferry NASA astronauts to and from space. NASA

Benji said the Crew Dragon is pre-programmed to detach itself from the Falcon 9 rocket "at the right point in time" if anything goes wrong.

"We're looking for anything that's off-nominal," he told Business Insider.

In the case of Sunday's test, the rocket will shut down while the vehicle is moving through extreme, though not maximum, forces in the atmosphere what Lueders described as "a stressing test" for the entire system, and one that SpaceX ultimately chose over less trying and expensive ones.

"Getting this test behind us is a huge milestone," she said. (The launch was originally scheduled for Saturday, but NASA and SpaceX delayed it due to worsening weather conditions.)

Shortly after detaching from the rocket on Saturday, Reed said Crew Dragon should fire its SuperDraco escape engines for about 10 seconds. That should be enough to put many miles between the doomed rocket and the spaceship.

"We expect there to be some sort of ignition, and probably a fireball of some kind. Whether I would call it an explosion that you would see from the ground? I don't know," Reed said of the rocket. "We'll have to see what actually happens."

As the rocket breaks up, Crew Dragon will coast to an altitude of about 25 miles, shed its aerodynamic "trunk" (which serves as dead weight), and begin to fall toward Earth, according to a SpaceX animation on YouTube (below). The plummeting capsule will then use clusters of small rocket engines, called reaction-control thrusters, to right itself at high speed. The goal is to keep the gumdrop-shaped base facing down and its parachute pods pointed up.

About 4 minutes and 30 seconds after launch, two small drogue shoots will pop out of the capsule's top to stabilize its fall. Four enormous main parachutes will deploy about a minute later and dramatically slow down the vehicle. A little while later about nine minutes total into the mission the Crew Dragon is supposed to splash down about 20 miles offshore in the Atlantic Ocean, where SpaceX recovery crews on boats should be ready and waiting to recover it.

SpaceX and NASA will then review all of the data they collect from the safety test and see if it matches their predictive computer models. That process could take months, and smaller tests may be required afterward.

Assuming the abort test is a success, SpaceX will be poised to fly its first-ever humans NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on a demonstration mission called Demo-2. (In March 2019, the company launched an uncrewed Crew Dragon to the space station and back on a mission called Demo-1.)

"The main objective of this test is to show that we can carry the astronauts safely away from the rocket in case anything's going wrong," Reed said.

This story has been updated with new information. It was originally published on January 17, 2019.

Read the rest here:

SpaceX's next rocket launch is doomed, and that's great for astronauts - Business Insider

Head of NASA visits the Choctaw Nation – KXII-TV

DURANT, Okla. (KXII) - The Choctaw Nation received a visit from the head of NASA Friday morning to talk about the tribe's use of drones in the past couple of years.

Nearly two years ago the Choctaw Nation was chosen by the federal government as just one of ten locations in the country where drones could be tested in a variety of ways that are currently illegal elsewhere.

Those projects included things that would benefit agriculture, such as feeding animals and setting traps.

"The things that we say are dull, dirty, dangerous, and difficult. Those are the things robots and drones and automation are good for," said James Grimsley, Executive Director of Advanced Technology Initiatives for the Choctaw Nation.

NASA Administrator and former Oklahoma Congressman Jim Bridenstine stopped by the Choctaw Nation Friday morning.

He's particularly interested in the drone program and hopes NASA can learn from the Choctaws.

"They initially want to use it for moving medical supplies and equipment and even organs. Sometimes organs don't make it from point A to point B when there's an emergency and they don't make it because it takes it too long to get there. Well what we can do is put them on a vehicle that can get there in a matter of minutes," said Bridenstine.

Grimsley says in the past year, they used drones after the tornados that hit Bryan County in the Spring.

"We were able to help some of the homeowners with their insurance claims because we were able to get them data with video and photographs and things they could use for their claims," said Grimsley.

There are even more goals in mind.

"Search and rescue capabilities that are being developed here, capabilities for infrastructure inspection when you think about pipelines and power lines," said Bridenstine.

"We're going to open up more opportunities for the tribe, more opportunities for our region, so we're excited. There's a lot of good things on the horizon," said Grimsley.

The rest is here:

Head of NASA visits the Choctaw Nation - KXII-TV

NASA basing one of its Earth Research Planes at Hunter Army Airfield – WJCL News

Savannah and Hunter Army Airfield will be home to some very important work over the next few weeks.NASA has brought one of their planes to town, to gather details on snowstorms in the US.If you see a pretty impressive looking plane flying in and out of Hunter Army Airfield the next few weeks, there's nothing to fear.One of NASA's Earth Research Planes arrived Wednesday and will be setting up shop until March 1st. The purpose, to fly 65,000 feet above the clouds to gather data from snowstorms."We're pretty over the entire atmosphere at that altitude," said Tim Williams, Pilot, NASA Research Plane. "It's very much similar to what satellite can do, the difference between us and a satellite.. We can bring this instrument back down at the end of the day."Radars aboard the plane will measure the distribution of raindrops, snowflakes, and ice particles vertically in the clouds as well as how they move."The end game, what we do really do for the public," added Williams. "Better models, better understanding and don't forget that a lot of this is training the next generation."Pilot Cory Bartholomew flew the aircraft into Savannah and he says its satisfying knowing he's playing a part in this important research."It's fun to know that I'm a cog and I'm helping produce information that will maybe let us predict earthquakes a little sooner, blizzards a little better, hurricanes," explained Bartholomew.There were several reasons for NASA choosing Hunter Army Airfield and Savannah for their base, primarily access to a hangar and the weather."It takes us a while to get up to altitude, about 300 nautical miles or so," added Williams. "And doing so we might as well be away from that weather we're going to look at and land at a place that has really good weather."NASA also has a plane based in Virginia that is flying into the storms. This will be the first comprehensive study of east coast snowstorms in 30 years.

Savannah and Hunter Army Airfield will be home to some very important work over the next few weeks.

NASA has brought one of their planes to town, to gather details on snowstorms in the US.

If you see a pretty impressive looking plane flying in and out of Hunter Army Airfield the next few weeks, there's nothing to fear.

One of NASA's Earth Research Planes arrived Wednesday and will be setting up shop until March 1st.

The purpose, to fly 65,000 feet above the clouds to gather data from snowstorms.

"We're pretty over the entire atmosphere at that altitude," said Tim Williams, Pilot, NASA Research Plane. "It's very much similar to what satellite can do, the difference between us and a satellite.. We can bring this instrument back down at the end of the day."

Radars aboard the plane will measure the distribution of raindrops, snowflakes, and ice particles vertically in the clouds as well as how they move.

"The end game, what we do really do for the public," added Williams. "Better models, better understanding and don't forget that a lot of this is training the next generation."

Pilot Cory Bartholomew flew the aircraft into Savannah and he says its satisfying knowing he's playing a part in this important research.

"It's fun to know that I'm a cog and I'm helping produce information that will maybe let us predict earthquakes a little sooner, blizzards a little better, hurricanes," explained Bartholomew.

There were several reasons for NASA choosing Hunter Army Airfield and Savannah for their base, primarily access to a hangar and the weather.

"It takes us a while to get up to altitude, about 300 nautical miles or so," added Williams. "And doing so we might as well be away from that weather we're going to look at and land at a place that has really good weather."

NASA also has a plane based in Virginia that is flying into the storms. This will be the first comprehensive study of east coast snowstorms in 30 years.

Follow this link:

NASA basing one of its Earth Research Planes at Hunter Army Airfield - WJCL News

Local girl may be choosing the name of NASAs 2020 rover – KSNF/KODE – FourStatesHomepage.com

NEOSHO, Mo. One girl from Neosho could be choosing the name of NASAs 2020 rover after being named a semi-finalist in a national competition.

8-year-old Schiylah Pilant, a student at Neosho Christian School, entered the contest.

Her suggested name for the rover is Mystery, and she wrote an essay to be considered.

She and 155 other students beat out 28,000 other applicants across the nation to be semi-finalists.

Schiylah has always had a passion for science and studying rocks which inspired her to get involved. . Schiylah Pilant, named semi-finalist in Name The Rover contest, says, The one thing it has that the other one didnt is a drill, and it is going to drill through rocks to get core samples to look for past microbial life.

In a few weeks, Schiylah will find out if she is in the top nine finalists in the contest.

Only one person will have the rover named their idea.

They will also get a chance to see the rover launch at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

See the original post:

Local girl may be choosing the name of NASAs 2020 rover - KSNF/KODE - FourStatesHomepage.com

NASA And Amazon Are Teaming Up To Build An App That Can Predict Solar Superstorms – Forbes

Artist's impression of a solar storm going towards Earth (at right). Earth is surrounded by magnetic ... [+] fields that can deflect most solar activity.

Every so often, the sun has an epic tantrum and if Earth's in the way, bad things can happen. Thats why NASA and Amazon are teaming up with a new machine learning application to better predict the coming of a solar superstorm.

Weve seen these superstorms cause damage in the past. In 1859, an incident called the Carrington event reportedly disrupted telegraph communications. And in winter 1989, thousands of residents of Quebec, Canada were plunged into darkness when their hydro cut out. While these worst events are rare, on average they are expected every 50 years.

These incidents are due to eruptions on the sun. The sun periodically sends out flares (which you can see in large telescopes) and often, these flares are accompanied by bursts of invisible radiative particles called coronal mass ejections. Usually Earth's magnetic field protects against the radiation. But occasionally, there are so many particles that they can produce huge solar storms, knocking out satellites, power lines and other vital infrastructure for humans.

Amazon's cloud services, which could be deployed to predict solar storms.

So NASA and Amazon together are working on machine learning applications. It's not an easy task, Amazon said in a blog post.

Given just how rare superstorms are, there are very few historical examples that can be used to train algorithms. This makes common machine learning approaches like supervised learning woefully inadequate for predicting superstorms, Amazon stated. Additionally, with dozens of past and current satellites gathering space weather information from different key vantage points around Earth, the amount of data is prodigious and the attempt to find correlations laborious when searched conventionally.

Amazon's AWS Professional Services and Machine Learning Solutions Lab have another approach. They're using both unsupervised learning and anomaly prediction to better predict the conditions that are associated with superstorms. AWS is able to examine as many as 1,000 data sets simultaneously, based on rankings of anomalies (generated by NASA) to find patterns that are unique to superstorms.

Before long, NASA and Amazon plan to offer a data "lake" (or repository with reams of raw data) to let researchers crunch the numbers for themselves. The plan is to make forecasting even stronger by looking at the anomalies and making simulations about current-day superstorms and the extreme ones of history, like the Carrington event.

"There's a lot of data, and factors like time lags add to the complexity," said lead researcher Janet Kozyra, a heliophysicist (sun researcher) at NASA, in the statement. "With Amazon, we can take every single piece of data that we have on superstorms, and use anomalies we have detected to improve the models that predict and classify superstorms effectively."

Read the original post:

NASA And Amazon Are Teaming Up To Build An App That Can Predict Solar Superstorms - Forbes

New View of the Swan Nebula From NASA’s Airborne SOFIA Telescope – Universe Today

The Omega Nebula (Messier 17), also known as the Swan Nebula because of its distinct appearance, is one of the most well-known nebulas in our galaxy. Located about 5,500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Sagittarius, this nebula is also one of the brightest and most massive star-forming regions in the Milky Way. Unfortunately, nebulas are very difficult to study because of the way their clouds of dust and gas obscure their interiors.

For this reason, astronomers are forced to examine nebulas in the non-visible wavelength to get a better idea of their makeup. Using the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), a team of NASA scientists recently observed the Swan Nebula in the infrared wavelength. What they found has revealed a great deal about how this nebula and stellar nursery evolved over time.

To be clear, studying star-forming nebulas like M17 is no simple task. For starters, it is largely composed of hot hydrogen gas that is illuminated by the hottest stars housed inside of it. However, its brightest stars can be difficult to see directly because they are housed within cocoons of dense gas and dust. Its central region is also very bright, to the point that images captured in visible light wavelengths become oversaturated.

As such, this nebula and the youngest stars that live deep inside of it have to be observed in the infrared wavelength. To do this, the research team relied on the Faint Object Infrared Camera for the SOFIA Telescope (FORCAST), which is part of the joint NASA/DLR SOFIA telescope. This telescope is housed aboard a modified Boeing 747SP aircraft that routinely flies it to an altitude of 11600 to 13700 m (38,000 to 45,000 ft) to make observations.

This altitude places SOFIA in Earths stratosphere, where it is subject to 99% less atmospheric interference than ground-based telescopes. As Wanggi Lim, a Universities Space Research Association (USRA) scientist with the SOFIA Science Center at NASAs Ames Research Center, explained:

The present-day nebula holds the secrets that reveal its past;we just need to be able to uncover them. SOFIA lets us do this, so we can understand why the nebula looks the way it does today.

Thanks to SOFIAs FORCAST instrument, the team was able to pierce the veil of the Swan Nebula to reveal nine previously-unknown protostars areas where the nebulas cloud that are collapsing to create new stars. In addition, the team calculated the ages of the nebulas different regions and determined that they didnt all form at once, but through multiple generations of star formation.

The central region, since it is the oldest and most evolved, is believed to have formed first, followed by the northern area and southern regions, respectively. They also noted that while the northern area is older than the southern region, the radiation and stellar winds from previous generations of stars disrupted the material there, thus preventing it from collapsing to form the next generation of stars.

These observations constitute a breakthrough for astronomers, who have been trying to learn more about the stars inside of the Swan Nebula for decades. As Jim De Buizer, a senior scientist also at the SOFIA Science Center, conveyed, put it:

This is the most detailed view of the nebula we have ever had at these wavelengths. Its the first time we can see some of its youngest, massive stars, and start to truly understand how it evolved into the iconic nebula we see today.

Essentially, massive stars (like the ones found in the Swan Nebula) release so much energy that they can affect the evolution of entire galaxies. However, only 1% of all stars are this enormous, which means that astronomers have very few opportunities to study them. And while infrared surveys have been made of this nebula before using space telescopes, none of them revealed the same level of detail as SOFIA.

The composite image above showcases what SOFIA captured, along with data from the Herschel and Spitzer Space Telescope that show the red gas at its edges (red) and the white starfield, respectively. These included regions of gas (shown in blue above) that are heated by massive stars located near the center and dust clouds (shown in green) that are warmed by existing massive stars and nearby newborn stars.

The observations are also significant seeing as how Spitzer, NASAs premier infrared telescope for more than 16 years, is set to retire on Jan. 30th, 2020. In the meantime, SOFIA will continue to explore the Universe in the mid- and far-infrared wavelengths, which are not accessible to other telescopes. In the coming years, it will be joined by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST).

By learning more about the makeup and evolution of nebulas, astronomers hope to better their understanding of star and planet formation, the chemical evolution of galaxies, and the role magnetic fields play in the cosmic evolution.

Further Reading: NASA

Like Loading...

Originally posted here:

New View of the Swan Nebula From NASA's Airborne SOFIA Telescope - Universe Today

SpaceX will trigger an intentional rocket failure to prove crew capsule’s safety – Spaceflight Now

Illustration of the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Falcon 9 rocket during the companys uncrewed In-Flight Abort Test for NASAs Commercial Crew Program. This demonstration test of Crew Dragons launch escape capabilities is designed to provide valuable data toward NASA certifying SpaceXs crew transportation system for carrying astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

SpaceX will sacrifice a Falcon 9 rocket Sunday in a fiery test a minute-and-a-half after liftoff from Floridas Space Coast to prove the companys Crew Dragon spacecraft can safely push astronauts away from a failing launch vehicle, simulating a daring maneuver that would only be attempted on a piloted mission during an in-flight emergency.

The launch escape demonstration could be a spectacle for local residents, rocket fans and enthusiasts along the Space Coast, assuming clear skies and good visibility, according to SpaceX.

While the Crew Dragon capsule flying without astronauts on Sundays test fires away from the top of the Falcon 9 rocket, the booster itself is expected to tumble and break apart, possibly in a fireball visible from the ground.

The purpose of the test the final planned demonstration of a full-scale Crew Dragon before NASA astronauts fly it int orbit is to validate the ships launch escape system. Abort rockets mounted around the circumference of the capsule would activate to rapidly carry the spaceship and its astronaut crew away from an emergency during launch on a Falcon 9 rocket, such as a booster failure or explosion.

On launch day (with crews), were really hoping for it not to be exciting, said Kathy Lueders, manager of NASAs commercial crew program. I will tell you (Sunday) will be an exciting day. We are purposely failing a launch vehicle to make sure that our abort system on the spacecraft that well be flying for our crews works.

The Crew Dragons eight liquid-fueled SuperDraco escape engines will ignite around 84 seconds after liftoff on top of a Falcon 9 rocket from pad 39A, soon after the point in the launch sequence where the booster and capsule experience the most extreme aerodynamic pressures.

The abort thrusters will generate nearly 130,000 pounds of thrust, pushing the gumdrop-shaped crew capsule away from the top of the Falcon 9 with an acceleration of up to to 4Gs.

The six-hour test window opens at 8 a.m. EST (1300 GMT) Sunday. SpaceX called off a launch attempt early Saturday due to concerns about rough seas in the Atlantic Ocean east of Florida, where the Crew Dragon splash down under parachutes around 10 minutes after launch from pad 39A the Kennedy Space Center.

What will happen, basically, is well initiate launch escape, and the Falcon engines will shut down, said Benji Reed, SpaceXs director of crew mission management. So the thrust of the Falcon will shut down right after that happens.

The abort burn should happen as the Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon are flying at an altitude of roughly 62,000 feet (19 kilometers) and traveling nearly twice the speed of sound.

Dragon, at the same time, will be getting away, Reed said. It takes about 10 seconds for a SuperDraco burn on the Dragon. Dragon will hit about Mach 2.3 as its getting away. We expect it to be actually quite far away from falcon at the acceleration its going before anything starts to happen on Falcon Thats a very quick process.

The sudden separation of the Dragon spacecraft from top of the rocket, coupled with the loss of thrust from the Falcon 9s Merlin main engines, will likely cause the launcher to begin tumbling in the upper atmosphere.

The Dragon will have left, so the top end of the second stage is now basically a big air scoop, so youve got all this air pushing against it, huge amounts of force pushing against it, and its also cut thrust, so its no longer pushing up in a trajectory, Reed said. Its going to be a lot more susceptible to the winds and starting to fall as it loses its velocity and starts to tumble.

At some point, we expect that the Falcon will start to break up, Reed said. Both stages are loaded with fuel because we want have the right mass, and test the right (way), so with those both stages loaded with fuel, we do expect there will probably be some amount of ignition, flame. Well see something. On a clear day, possibly from the ground you could see it.

The first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket launching the Crew Dragon on Sundays abort test is designated B1046. Its set to fly for the fourth and final time, and was the first upgraded Falcon 9 Block 5 booster to launch in May 2018.

The Block 5 is the most recent, human-rated variant of SpaceXs Falcon 9 rocket.

Before the Crew Dragon abort test, the B1046 booster launched the Bangabandhu 1 communications satellite for Bangladesh from the Kennedy Space Center in May 2018, then launched again in August 2018 with the Indonesian Merah Putih communications spacecraft. The boosters third mission occurred in December 2018 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on a rideshare mission with 64 small satellites.

The booster landed on a SpaceX drone ship after each of its previous missions, but will not be recovered intact after the Crew Dragon abort test.SpaceX says teams will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean just east of Cape Canaveral to pick up any floating debris from the rocket.

There is no second stage engine on the Falcon 9 rocket that will launch the abort test.

The second stage will be loaded with propellant, Reed said. There will still be quite bit of propellant in the first stage. We expect there to be some sort of ignition and probably a fireball of some kind.

Whether I would call it an explosion that you would see from the ground, I dont know, he added. Well have to see what actually happens, but I wouldnt be surprised, and it wouldnt be a bad outcome.

In the unlikely event of a rocket mishap before the planned time of the Crew Dragon abort burn, the capsule will be armed to trigger a premature escape burn Sunday, according to Reed.

While the Falcon 9 boosters demise could prove a spectacle, SpaceXs attention will be on the performance of the crew capsule.

The in-flight launch abort capability is a crucial part of the Crew Dragon safety system. SpaceX verified the Crew Dragons ability to escape an emergency on the launch pad in 2015 during a ground-launched pad abort test.

(Sundays) test is one of these things thats actually going to allow us test that whole system end-to-end, Reed said.

Meanwhile, the Crew Dragon will reach a top speed of Mach 2.3 and arc on a ballistic trajectory to a peak altitude of some 138,000 feet (42 kilometers), then use its thrusters to re-orient for descent. The capsule will jettison an unpressurized trunk section and deploy four main parachutes to gently splash down in the Atlantic Ocean around 20 miles (32 kilometers) offshore, where U.S. military, NASA and SpaceX recovery teams will recover the capsule to practice procedures they would execute on a crew mission.

The entire abort test flight, from liftoff through splashdown, will take around 10 minutes.

SpaceX and NASA officials will have to carefully monitor weather and sea conditions for the in-flight abort test.

In addition the the typical launch weather constraints such as high winds and lightning engineers want good visibility to optically track the Falcon 9 launcher and Crew Dragon spacecraft during the escape sequence. And sea conditions in the Atlantic Ocean splashdown zone roughly 20 miles (32 kilometers) east of pad 39A are also important.

Its a nice dance between launch weather, optics, and the winds and waves offshore, so were trying to find a time where all those things match up, said Mike McAleenan, the launch weather officer from the U.S. Space Forces 45th Weather Squadron. But well find it, and well make sure we go when its ready and everything is lining up.

Launch abort systems have been used during emergencies on other rockets, most recently in October 2018, when a Russian Soyuz booster failed two minutes after liftoff. The Soyuz abort rockets fired to safely carry Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin and NASA flight engineer Nick Hague away from the Soyuz booster as it tumbled out of control.

SpaceX is conducting the in-flight abort test under the terms of a commercial crew agreement awarded by NASA in 2012.

NASA has awarded SpaceX a series of funding agreements and SpaceX since 2011 worth more than $3.1 billion for development of a human-rated Dragon spacecraft. Boeing has received more than $4.8 billion from NASA since 2010 for its Starliner crew capsule.

Both companies aim to fly astronauts for the first time later this year, ending U.S. reliance on Russian Soyuz spacecraft for crew transportation to the International Space Station. NASA paid the Russian government $3.9 billion for crew transport services to the space station since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011, according to the agencys inspector general.

A NASA official said Friday that SpaceXs next Crew Dragon spacecraft could be ready to launch astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the space station as soon as early March. But that schedule hinges on a good outcome to Sundays abort test, the results of two more parachute drop tests, NASA data reviews and final assembly and processing milestones for the Crew Dragon spacecraft itself.

Email the author.

Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

More here:

SpaceX will trigger an intentional rocket failure to prove crew capsule's safety - Spaceflight Now

2019 Was the Second Hottest Year on Record According to Both NASA & NOAA – SciTechDaily

According to independent analyses by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Earths global surface temperatures in 2019 were the second warmest since modern recordkeeping began in 1880. Credit: NASA

According to independent analyses by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Earths global surface temperatures in 2019 were the second warmest since modern recordkeeping began in 1880.

Globally, 2019 temperatures were second only to those of 2016 and continued the planets long-term warming trend: the past five years have been the warmest of the last 140 years.

This past year, they were 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (0.98 degrees Celsius) warmer than the 1951 to 1980 mean, according to scientists at NASAs Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York.

The decade that just ended is clearly the warmest decade on record, said GISS Director Gavin Schmidt. Every decade since the 1960s clearly has been warmer than the one before.

Earths long-term warming trend can be seen in this visualization of NASAs global temperature record, which shows how the planets temperatures are changing over time, compared to a baseline average from 1951 to 1980. The record is shown as a running five-year average. Credit: NASAs Scientific Visualization Studio/Kathryn Mersmann

Since the 1880s, the average global surface temperature has risen and the average temperature is now more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit (a bit more than 1 degree Celsius) above that of the late 19th century. For reference, the last Ice Age was about 10 degrees Fahrenheit colder than pre-industrial temperatures.

Using climate models and statistical analysis of global temperature data, scientists have concluded that this increase mostly has been driven by increased emissions into the atmosphere of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases produced by human activities.

We crossed over into more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit warming territory in 2015 and we are unlikely to go back. This shows that whats happening is persistent, not a fluke due to some weather phenomenon: we know that the long-term trends are being driven by the increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, Schmidt said.

This plot shows yearly temperature anomalies from 1880 to 2019, with respect to the 1951-1980 mean, as recorded by NASA, NOAA, the Berkeley Earth research group, the Met Office Hadley Centre (UK), and the Cowtan and Way analysis. Though there are minor variations from year to year, all five temperature records show peaks and valleys in sync with each other. All show rapid warming in the past few decades, and all show the past decade has been the warmest. Credit: NASA GISS/Gavin Schmidt

Because weather station locations and measurement practices change over time, the interpretation of specific year-to-year global mean temperature differences has some uncertainties. Taking this into account, NASA estimates that 2019s global mean change is accurate to within 0.1 degrees Fahrenheit, with a 95% certainty level.

Weather dynamics often affect regional temperatures, so not every region on Earth experienced similar amounts of warming. NOAA found the 2019 annual mean temperature for the contiguous 48 United States was the 34th warmest on record, giving it a warmer than average classification. The Arctic region has warmed slightly more than three times faster than the rest of the world since 1970.

Rising temperatures in the atmosphere and ocean are contributing to the continued mass loss from Greenland and Antarctica and to increases in some extreme events, such as heat waves, wildfires, intense precipitation.

NASAs temperature analyses incorporate surface temperature measurements from more than 20,000 weather stations, ship- and buoy-based observations of sea surface temperatures, and temperature measurements from Antarctic research stations.

These in situ measurements are analyzed using an algorithm that considers the varied spacing of temperature stations around the globe and urban heat island effects that could skew the conclusions. These calculations produce the global average temperature deviations from the baseline period of 1951 to 1980.

NOAA scientists used much of the same raw temperature data, but with a different interpolation into the Earths polar and other data-poor regions. NOAAs analysis found 2019 global temperatures were 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit (0.95 degrees Celsius) above the 20th century average.

NASAs full 2019 surface temperature data set and the complete methodology used for the temperature calculation and its uncertainties are available here.

GISS is a laboratory within the Earth Sciences Division of NASAs Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The laboratory is affiliated with Columbia Universitys Earth Institute and School of Engineering and Applied Science in New York.

NASA uses the unique vantage point of space to better understand Earth as an interconnected system. The agency also uses airborne and ground-based measurements, and develops new ways to observe and study Earth with long-term data records and computer analysis tools to better see how our planet is changing. NASA shares this knowledge with the global community and works with institutions in the United States and around the world that contribute to understanding and protecting our home planet.

Visit link:

2019 Was the Second Hottest Year on Record According to Both NASA & NOAA - SciTechDaily

Australia’s Deadly Wildfires in Photos: The View from Space – Space.com

Fueled by a lengthy and intensifying drought, an early kickoff to fire season in the Australian states of Queensland and New South Wales began in September 2019 and continued into early 2020. Upwards of 100 wildfires have devastated Australia's southeast coast, killing at least 28 people and more than 1 billion animals.

Satellites from NASA and other agencies are tracking the deadly wildfires from space. Scroll down to photos of Australia's wildfires from space.

Full Coverage:

Jan. 15: Astronauts spot smoke from growing Australian wildfires from space

Jan. 10: Satellites show toll of Australian wildfires on wildlife and human populations

Jan. 7: In Australia, rain falls, but wildfires expected to intensify

Jan. 6: Astronauts spot Australia's deadly wildfires from space station

Jan. 3: Satellite images show Australia's devastating wildfires from space

This gallery was updated with new imagery on Jan. 15.

Thick clouds of brown smoke from Australia's bushfires spread across the Tasman Sea in this photo captured by an astronaut at the International Space Station. The photo was taken on Jan. 4, when the station was orbiting 269 miles (433 kilometers) above the Earth.

European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano captured this image of the Australian fires on Jan. 12, 2020.

Also taken by European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano on Jan. 12, this image presents several of the wild fires burning across Australia. The astronaut wrote on Twitter, "Australia fires: lives, hopes, dreams in ashes."

European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano tweeted this Jan. 13 image of the fires burning Down Under.

European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano tweeted this image from the International Space Station, on Jan. 13.

Astronaut Luca Parmitano tweeted this image of the wildfires from the International Space Station, on Jan. 13.

On Jan. 13, 2020, astronaut Luca Parmitano tweeted this image of an immense ash cloud covering Australia.

As the International Space Station flew toward sunset on Jan. 13, European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano captured this image of immense ash clouds over Australia.

Australian wildfires cover the continent in ash clouds early on Jan. 13.

On Jan. 14, NASA astronaut Christina Koch tweeted this image of the Australian continent.

NASA astronaut Christina Koch tweeted this photo on Jan. 14, writing: "Australia. Our hearts and thoughts are with you."

NASA astronaut Christina Koch tweeted out support to Australia on Jan. 14, as the International Space Station orbited above the wildfires.

On Jan. 9, 2020, the Operational Land Imager on the NASA-USGS Landsat 8 satellites acquired natural-color images of charred land and thick smoke covering Australias Kangaroo Island, where nearly one-third of the land area had burned.

An annotated image of Kangaroo Island shows the burn scars, fires and smoke on Jan. 9, 2020.

A satellite image taken by NASA's Terra mission in January 2020 shows the extent of wildfire burns on Australia's Kangaroo Island.

Imagery from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the NASA-NOAA Suomi NPP satellite shows a cloud of brown smoke spreading across the ocean from Australias east coast.

Data from the Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite on the NASA-NOAA Suomi NPP satellite provides a map of the UV aerosol index, which indicates smoke and dust in the atmosphere.

This animation from the Suomi NPP satellite combines natural-color imagery with UV aerosol data to illustrate how the wildfires in Australia are spreading aerosols to other parts of the world.

NASA's Aqua satellite, using the MODIS instrument captured smoke plumes coming off the wildfires in southeastern Australia on Jan. 5, 2020.

An image from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite, taken on Jan. 4, 2020, captured smoke plumes blanketing Australia's southeastern coast.

An astronaut on the International Space Station captured this view of smoke from devastating wildfires obscuring the region around Sydney, Australia on Jan. 3, 2020.

A satellite image of the smoke coming from the Australia wildfires on Jan. 1, 2020.

A closeup view of the same satellite image of the smoke coming from the Australia wildfires on Jan. 1, 2020.

This animation is a model of where the black smoke from the raging Australian wildfires is traveling. It's based off of the GEOS forward processing (GEOS FP) model, which combines information from satellite, aircraft and ground-based observation systems and uses data such as air temperature, moisture levels and wind information to project the plume's behavior.

NASA's Aqua satellite used its Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer to capture this view of wildfires raging on Australia's eastern coast on Dec. 9, 2019. The wildfires were fueled by unusually hot weather and a potent drought that primed the region in October 2019, according to the space agency.

This map depicts measurements of outgoing longwave radiation in November 2019. The data on Australia's heat emission comes from the Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System on board NASA's Terra satellite.

In Australia's Lamington National Park and Gondwana Rainforests fires created large amounts of smoke visible in this Suomi NPP satellite image, captured on Oct. 9, 2019.

Taken on Nov. 5, 2019, this image shows fire and smoke over southern Western Australia. The image, taken by the Operational Land Imager, exhibits fire in the Goldfields region.

The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite on the Suomi NPP satellite captured the recent outbreak of fires in New South Wales in this image from Nov. 8, 2019. Thick smoke is blowing over the Tasman Sea.

More than 100 bushfires burned on the east coast of Australia, stretching from the Blue Mountains to the border of Queensland, which has over 50 of its own blazes. The hot, dry and windy weather has precipitated an early and grisly start to this year's fire season.

Read the original:

Australia's Deadly Wildfires in Photos: The View from Space - Space.com

SpaceX Prepares to Destroy Rocket for NASA in Safety Test – The New York Times

On Saturday morning, SpaceX hopes that destroying a rocket in flight will show that its spacecraft are safe for astronauts.

Since 2012, the company founded by Elon Musk has been flying to the International Space Station for NASA, but it has never before carried a human crew, only cargo. In a final major milestone before it is ready to start taking NASA astronauts to the station, SpaceX will test a system that is to rescue astronauts in case of an emergency during launch.

The main objective of this test is to show that we can carry the astronauts safely away, said Benji Reed, director of crew mission management for SpaceX, during a news conference on Friday.

This flight of a Falcon 9 rocket with a Crew Dragon capsule on top is known as an in-flight abort test. It will not have any astronauts aboard, and it will not be like most launches where were really hoping for it not to be exciting, said Kathy Lueders, manager of the commercial crew program for NASA. I will tell you, tomorrow will be an exciting day.

About 84 seconds after launch, the Falcon 9 rocket will shut off its nine engines, simulating a failure, and powerful thrusters on the Crew Dragon will ignite to propel the capsule away. The force of that sudden departure will destroy the rocket, possibly even causing it to explode.

Probably a fireball of some kind, Mr. Reed said.

After reaching an altitude of about 25 miles, the Dragon will then drop off the trunk, or bottom half of the spacecraft, and small thrusters will push the capsule into the correct vertical orientation before parachutes deploy. It is to splash down in the Atlantic Ocean just 10 minutes after launch.

Weather forecasts predict a 90 percent chance of good conditions at the launchpad. But if the ocean is too choppy where the capsule is to splash down, it could delay the liftoff. You all may be waiting for a while, Ms. Lueders said, while were trying to find the perfect time for us to be able to conduct this test.

The launch is to occur after 11 a.m. Eastern time, at least three hours later than what had been scheduled. On Friday evening, NASA and SpaceX posted updates on Twitter that the liftoff would likely occur closer to noon. During the Friday news conference, Mr. Reed said there were discussions to possibly extend the launch window into Saturday afternoon.

NASA Television is to broadcast coverage of the test beginning 20 minutes before liftoff. There are backup opportunities for conducting the launch on Sunday and Monday, although weather could again cause problems.

If the test is successful, Ms. Lueders said, the next Crew Dragon mission, which is scheduled to take two NASA astronauts, Douglas G. Hurley and Robert L. Behnken, to the space station, could launch as soon as early March.

SpaceXs in-flight abort test brings NASA closer to the culmination of its strategy of turning to private companies SpaceX and Boeing for providing transportation for its astronauts. In the past, NASA built and operated its own vehicles, like the space shuttles.

Delays have pushed back the first commercial crew flights by a couple of years, but NASA hopes that the first crewed missions will take off this year. In California, SpaceX is completing construction of its next Crew Dragon capsule and plans to ship it to Florida within a few weeks.

Last month, Boeing launched its capsule, called Starliner, in a test flight without astronauts, but a problem with the spacecrafts clock led to calling off a planned docking at the space station. Boeing and NASA are investigating what went wrong and NASA will decide whether it will allow astronauts on the next Starliner flight, or it will require Boeing to first repeat the uncrewed orbital test flight.

Since the retirement of the space shuttles in 2011, NASA has had to rely on Soyuz rockets built by Russia for taking astronauts into orbit. It is looking to buy one or two more seats from Russia, at a cost of more than $80 million apiece. If SpaceX and Boeing experience further delays, NASA will have to cut the number of astronauts at the space station, which would limit the amount of scientific research.

Read more here:

SpaceX Prepares to Destroy Rocket for NASA in Safety Test - The New York Times

Astronauts on the moon and Mars may grow their homes there out of mushrooms, says NASA – CNN

');$vidEndSlate.removeClass('video__end-slate--inactive').addClass('video__end-slate--active');}};CNN.autoPlayVideoExist = (CNN.autoPlayVideoExist === true) ? true : false;var configObj = {thumb: 'none',video: 'business/2019/10/22/mycelium-mushroom-material-mission-ahead-orig.cnn',width: '100%',height: '100%',section: 'domestic',profile: 'expansion',network: 'cnn',markupId: 'large-media_0',adsection: 'cnn.com_technology_scienceandspace_videopage',frameWidth: '100%',frameHeight: '100%',posterImageOverride: {"mini":{"width":220,"type":"jpg","uri":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/191112203339-mushroom-generic-small-169.jpg","height":124},"xsmall":{"width":307,"type":"jpg","uri":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/191112203339-mushroom-generic-medium-plus-169.jpg","height":173},"small":{"width":460,"type":"jpg","uri":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/191112203339-mushroom-generic-large-169.jpg","height":259},"medium":{"width":780,"type":"jpg","uri":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/191112203339-mushroom-generic-exlarge-169.jpg","height":438},"large":{"width":1100,"type":"jpg","uri":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/191112203339-mushroom-generic-super-169.jpg","height":619},"full16x9":{"width":1600,"type":"jpg","uri":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/191112203339-mushroom-generic-full-169.jpg","height":900},"mini1x1":{"width":120,"type":"jpg","uri":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/191112203339-mushroom-generic-small-11.jpg","height":120}}},autoStartVideo = false,isVideoReplayClicked = false,callbackObj,containerEl,currentVideoCollection = [],currentVideoCollectionId = '',isLivePlayer = false,mediaMetadataCallbacks,mobilePinnedView = null,moveToNextTimeout,mutePlayerEnabled = false,nextVideoId = '',nextVideoUrl = '',turnOnFlashMessaging = false,videoPinner,videoEndSlateImpl;if (CNN.autoPlayVideoExist === false) {autoStartVideo = true;if (autoStartVideo === true) {if (turnOnFlashMessaging === true) {autoStartVideo = false;containerEl = jQuery(document.getElementById(configObj.markupId));CNN.VideoPlayer.showFlashSlate(containerEl);} else {CNN.autoPlayVideoExist = true;}}}configObj.autostart = CNN.Features.enableAutoplayBlock ? false : autoStartVideo;CNN.VideoPlayer.setPlayerProperties(configObj.markupId, autoStartVideo, isLivePlayer, isVideoReplayClicked, mutePlayerEnabled);CNN.VideoPlayer.setFirstVideoInCollection(currentVideoCollection, configObj.markupId);videoEndSlateImpl = new CNN.VideoEndSlate('large-media_0');function findNextVideo(currentVideoId) {var i,vidObj;if (currentVideoId && jQuery.isArray(currentVideoCollection) && currentVideoCollection.length > 0) {for (i = 0; i 0) {videoEndSlateImpl.showEndSlateForContainer();if (mobilePinnedView) {mobilePinnedView.disable();}}}}callbackObj = {onPlayerReady: function (containerId) {var playerInstance,containerClassId = '#' + containerId;CNN.VideoPlayer.handleInitialExpandableVideoState(containerId);CNN.VideoPlayer.handleAdOnCVPVisibilityChange(containerId, CNN.pageVis.isDocumentVisible());if (CNN.Features.enableMobileWebFloatingPlayer &&Modernizr &&(Modernizr.phone || Modernizr.mobile || Modernizr.tablet) &&CNN.VideoPlayer.getLibraryName(containerId) === 'fave' &&jQuery(containerClassId).parents('.js-pg-rail-tall__head').length > 0 &&CNN.contentModel.pageType === 'article') {playerInstance = FAVE.player.getInstance(containerId);mobilePinnedView = new CNN.MobilePinnedView({element: jQuery(containerClassId),enabled: false,transition: CNN.MobileWebFloatingPlayer.transition,onPin: function () {playerInstance.hideUI();},onUnpin: function () {playerInstance.showUI();},onPlayerClick: function () {if (mobilePinnedView) {playerInstance.enterFullscreen();playerInstance.showUI();}},onDismiss: function() {CNN.Videx.mobile.pinnedPlayer.disable();playerInstance.pause();}});/* Storing pinned view on CNN.Videx.mobile.pinnedPlayer So that all players can see the single pinned player */CNN.Videx = CNN.Videx || {};CNN.Videx.mobile = CNN.Videx.mobile || {};CNN.Videx.mobile.pinnedPlayer = mobilePinnedView;}if (Modernizr && !Modernizr.phone && !Modernizr.mobile && !Modernizr.tablet) {if (jQuery(containerClassId).parents('.js-pg-rail-tall__head').length) {videoPinner = new CNN.VideoPinner(containerClassId);videoPinner.init();} else {CNN.VideoPlayer.hideThumbnail(containerId);}}},onContentEntryLoad: function(containerId, playerId, contentid, isQueue) {CNN.VideoPlayer.showSpinner(containerId);},onContentPause: function (containerId, playerId, videoId, paused) {if (mobilePinnedView) {CNN.VideoPlayer.handleMobilePinnedPlayerStates(containerId, paused);}},onContentMetadata: function (containerId, playerId, metadata, contentId, duration, width, height) {var endSlateLen = jQuery(document.getElementById(containerId)).parent().find('.js-video__end-slate').eq(0).length;CNN.VideoSourceUtils.updateSource(containerId, metadata);if (endSlateLen > 0) {videoEndSlateImpl.fetchAndShowRecommendedVideos(metadata);}},onAdPlay: function (containerId, cvpId, token, mode, id, duration, blockId, adType) {/* Dismissing the pinnedPlayer if another video players plays an Ad */CNN.VideoPlayer.dismissMobilePinnedPlayer(containerId);clearTimeout(moveToNextTimeout);CNN.VideoPlayer.hideSpinner(containerId);if (Modernizr && !Modernizr.phone && !Modernizr.mobile && !Modernizr.tablet) {if (typeof videoPinner !== 'undefined' && videoPinner !== null) {videoPinner.setIsPlaying(true);videoPinner.animateDown();}}},onAdPause: function (containerId, playerId, token, mode, id, duration, blockId, adType, instance, isAdPause) {if (mobilePinnedView) {CNN.VideoPlayer.handleMobilePinnedPlayerStates(containerId, isAdPause);}},onTrackingFullscreen: function (containerId, PlayerId, dataObj) {CNN.VideoPlayer.handleFullscreenChange(containerId, dataObj);if (mobilePinnedView &&typeof dataObj === 'object' &&FAVE.Utils.os === 'iOS' && !dataObj.fullscreen) {jQuery(document).scrollTop(mobilePinnedView.getScrollPosition());playerInstance.hideUI();}},onContentPlay: function (containerId, cvpId, event) {var playerInstance,prevVideoId;if (CNN.companion && typeof CNN.companion.updateCompanionLayout === 'function') {CNN.companion.updateCompanionLayout('restoreEpicAds');}clearTimeout(moveToNextTimeout);CNN.VideoPlayer.hideSpinner(containerId);if (Modernizr && !Modernizr.phone && !Modernizr.mobile && !Modernizr.tablet) {if (typeof videoPinner !== 'undefined' && videoPinner !== null) {videoPinner.setIsPlaying(true);videoPinner.animateDown();}}},onContentReplayRequest: function (containerId, cvpId, contentId) {if (Modernizr && !Modernizr.phone && !Modernizr.mobile && !Modernizr.tablet) {if (typeof videoPinner !== 'undefined' && videoPinner !== null) {videoPinner.setIsPlaying(true);var $endSlate = jQuery(document.getElementById(containerId)).parent().find('.js-video__end-slate').eq(0);if ($endSlate.length > 0) {$endSlate.removeClass('video__end-slate--active').addClass('video__end-slate--inactive');}}}},onContentBegin: function (containerId, cvpId, contentId) {if (mobilePinnedView) {mobilePinnedView.enable();}/* Dismissing the pinnedPlayer if another video players plays a video. */CNN.VideoPlayer.dismissMobilePinnedPlayer(containerId);CNN.VideoPlayer.mutePlayer(containerId);if (CNN.companion && typeof CNN.companion.updateCompanionLayout === 'function') {CNN.companion.updateCompanionLayout('removeEpicAds');}CNN.VideoPlayer.hideSpinner(containerId);clearTimeout(moveToNextTimeout);CNN.VideoSourceUtils.clearSource(containerId);jQuery(document).triggerVideoContentStarted();},onContentComplete: function (containerId, cvpId, contentId) {if (CNN.companion && typeof CNN.companion.updateCompanionLayout === 'function') {CNN.companion.updateCompanionLayout('restoreFreewheel');}navigateToNextVideo(contentId, containerId);},onContentEnd: function (containerId, cvpId, contentId) {if (Modernizr && !Modernizr.phone && !Modernizr.mobile && !Modernizr.tablet) {if (typeof videoPinner !== 'undefined' && videoPinner !== null) {videoPinner.setIsPlaying(false);}}},onCVPVisibilityChange: function (containerId, cvpId, visible) {CNN.VideoPlayer.handleAdOnCVPVisibilityChange(containerId, visible);}};if (typeof configObj.context !== 'string' || configObj.context.length 0) {configObj.adsection = window.ssid;}CNN.autoPlayVideoExist = (CNN.autoPlayVideoExist === true) ? true : false;CNN.VideoPlayer.getLibrary(configObj, callbackObj, isLivePlayer);});CNN.INJECTOR.scriptComplete('videodemanddust');

Link:

Astronauts on the moon and Mars may grow their homes there out of mushrooms, says NASA - CNN


12345...102030...