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Three Companies to Support Marshall Space Flight Center

March 15, 2013
George I. Seffers

NASA has selected three companies to provide engineering solutions and products to Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. The companies are Radiance Technologies Inc. and Teledyne Brown Engineering Inc., Huntsville, Ala., and Wyle Laboratories Inc., Houston, Texas. The performance-based, cost-reimbursement fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contracts have a potential value of $350 million. The contracts have a five-year performance period with a minimum order quantity value of $1 million. The three companies will compete to provide engineering solutions and products for design, development, test, evaluation, operations and training in support of MSFC flight projects, human and robotic exploration, science and technology development, future programs/projects, and other MSFC organizations that have similar needs.

EDA Inventories Military Communications Systems

March 8, 2013

To facilitate multinational operations, the European Defence Agency (EDA) has set a future communications project in motion to study the terrestrial and satellite communication network systems in European Union (EU) countries. In this initial step of what will be a four-phase project, the primary EU member states’ existing and future assets will be inventoried. During the first phase of the project, operational scenarios and capability requirements will be identified. The second and third phases will involve identifying the required technical specifications to support these scenarios and the potential capability gaps. During the final phase, radio frequency spectrum will be analyzed to determine which bands are available. The EDA will then make recommendations based on this information and specify the technical and operational resources needed to create a cohesive capability. The work aims at resolving incompatibility issues that the piecemeal development of communications capabilities has caused, hindering multinational cooperation and increasing reliance on other nations for interoperable assets or resources.

 

New NASA Communications Satellite Bridges Legacy, Future Technologies

February 15, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The latest generation Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, TDRS-K, updates existing technology with an eye to the future. New electronics and better power management will help extend the TDRS constellation for at least another decade, but NASA already is looking ahead to major changes in the system’s capabilities that would define the next-generation TDRS.

NASA Leverages 
Video Game
 Technology for Robots and Rovers

February 11, 2013
By Max Cacas

Earthbound technologies and computer programming that make most popular video games possible are driving development of the remote-controlled robots now in use by NASA in the unmanned exploration of Mars and the solar system. Those improvements in both hardware and software also spur innovation in the next generation of robots envisioned for use by government and industry. That is important because NASA recently has proposed a new, multiyear program of sending robot explorers to Mars, culminating in the launch of another large scientific rover in the year 2020.

“The technologies and the software that the video game industry has developed for rendering data, scenes, terrain—many of the same visualization techniques and technologies are infiltrating into the kinds of software that we use for controlling spacecraft,” according to Jeff Norris, manager of the Planning and Execution Systems Section with NASA’S Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. In a similar way, joysticks and gaming consoles such as the Microsoft XBox Kinect are examples of gaming technology hardware that have functional analogues in the systems used to control robotic spacecraft.

Pacific Defense Receives Situational Awareness Contract

November 9, 2012
George I. Seffers

 
Pacific Defense Solutions LLC, Kihei, Hawaii is being awarded a $9,724,737 cost plus fixed fee contract for space situational awareness research and development. The contracting activity is Air Force Research Laboratory, Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M. 

YouTube Space Lab Young Scientists Challenge

December 7, 2011

Students age 14 to 18 can compete to have astronauts in space carry out their experiments if they win the Space Lab challenge. Budding scientists must upload a video outlining their idea, but they don't have to carry out the experiments themselves.

Strategy Encourages Competition in Space Launch Industry

November 1, 2011

A new strategy for certifying commercial launch vehicles aims to expand the number of companies qualified for space launch missions. The entrant launch vehicle certification strategy is a cooperative effort between the U.S. Air Force, the National Reconnaissance Office and NASA.

One Giant Leap for Spotting Space Debris

September 2, 2011
By Rachel Eisenhower

No matter how vast it seems, even space gets a little crowded. Hundreds of active satellites and thousands of pieces of space junk clutter the area surrounding Earth-from lost astronaut tools to pieces of rockets. To help track and identify the debris, the U.S. Air Force is replacing its aging and outdated Air Force Space Surveillance System, which has been in service for 50 years.

Navy Adds $150 Million to Research Contract

March 1, 2011
By George Seffers

The Pennsylvania State University Applied Research Laboratory, State College, has been awarded a $150 million contract modification to increase the contract ceiling, providing up to 1,560,000 additional staff hours to provide research, development, engineering, test and evaluation. The core areas include guidance, navigation and control of undersea systems, advanced thermal propulsion, materials and manufacturing technology, atmosphere and defense communications and other related technologies. Research and development areas include, but are not limited to, missiles, radar, sonar, space, undersea warfare, anti-air warfare, command, control and communications, and other related technologies. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

Commercial Manned Launch Services Awaken

March 2011
By Robert K. Ackerman, SIGNAL Magazine

The end of the space shuttle program is the signal for NASA to turn to the private sector for human access to orbit. The space agency that built a series of manned spacecraft to blaze a trail to the moon now is placing its bets on several commercial space technology companies to provide entry for humans into low earth orbit.
This new direction for the government space agency has several goals. First, it seeks to establish a domestic manned orbital capability to reach the International Space Station. After the shuttle program ends this year, the only way for spacefarers to reach the space station for the next few years will be through Russian space agency launches.

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