Robots have led the way for human space exploration, and NASA is counting on them to serve as partners in the next round of endeavors. The space agency is teaming with industry on new technologies that will develop innovative robotic systems and offer capabilities that are key to expanding the reach of humans beyond Earth.
The current development of particular robots for NASA represents a methodical shift in how some Lunar or Martian vehicles are designed and how the related components or systems are included to support vehicle operation. Carnegie Mellon University and Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic are working on a lunar robot for NASA’s Lunar Surface and Instrumentation and Technology Payload program, or LSITP, that is small, fast, solar-powered and will not be teleoperated nor radiation-hardened, which is quite a change from more risk-adverse prior methods.
NASA, Washington, D.C., has appointed Douglas Loverro as the agency's associate administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.
DRS Network & Imaging Systems LLC, Melbourne, Florida, was awarded a sole-source, firm-fixed-price delivery order (HC1084-19-F-0145) with a face value and approximate total contract value of $28,600,000, under contract NNG15SC08B on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurement contract vehicle for additional Army installation kits and spares in support of the Army Program Executive Office Command, Control, and Communications-Tactical Project Manager, Mission Command. This action is funded by fiscal year 2019 procurement funds. Performance is throughout the continental U.S. The contract period of performance is 12 months.
Telecommunications company CenturyLink, Inc. recently won a contract to provide network services to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) under a task order as part of the General Services Administration's Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) program, the company reported. As part of the effort, CenturyLink will provide core backbone network connectivity to NASA at speeds up to 100 Gbps. CenturyLink became the first supplier to receive authority to operate under GSA's 15-year, $50 billion EIS program last month, enabling it to be eligible for EIS task order awards.
Suzanne Gillen has been named NASA's associate administrator for the Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs, Washington, D.C.
In the coming months, researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory expect to take a series of small steps that will ultimately result in a giant leap in laser-enabled Mars telecommunication capabilities. Their technological progress will contribute to a telecommunications infrastructure around the planet that will support both human and robotic expeditions.
Mars is expected to be a veritable hotbed of activity in the relatively near future. NASA’s InSight lander is scheduled to touch down in November to study the planet’s deep interior using seismology and various sensors. The planet also is drawing commercial interest. SpaceX plans to land its Red Dragon spacecraft in 2020.
MEI Technologies, Inc.,* Houston, Texas, has been awarded a $10,231,304 multi-award, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for National Aeronautics and Space Administration research, engineering and mission integration services. This contract provides for contractor services to support Department of Defense payloads on NASA exploration vehicles and other available space transportation capabilities. Work will be performed at Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas, and is expected to be completed by July 31, 2025. One request for proposal was advertised and one offer was received. Fiscal year 2018 research, development, test and evaluation funds in the amount of $1,122,944 will be obligated at the time of award.
With a growing reliance on the global positioning system (GPS), satellites and other space-based technologies for use in everyday life on Earth, the importance of understanding the region of space where these technologies operate has also grown.
Researchers working on behalf of the U.S. intelligence community are kicking off a program designed to develop a revolutionary capability for monitoring objects in geostationary orbit, including functioning satellites and hundreds of thousands of bits of space debris. The program will attempt to provide low-cost approaches for passive ground-based interferometric imaging of space objects, a technique using two or more telescopes or lenses.
To support its Global Hawk Program, NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC) is tapping Gaithersburg, Maryland-based UltiSat, Incorporated to provide commercial Ku-band satellite capacity with coverage of the Continental United States (CONUS), Atlantic and Pacific. AFRC operates Global Hawk UAV aircraft for atmospheric research, including the assessment and monitoring of developing tropical storms to forecast storm tracks and potential landfall points for advanced notifications and warnings. UltiSat is a provider of end-to-end managed satellite communications (SATCOM) networks. "UltiSat is proud to support this scientific application of our SATCOM services,” Steve Roth, UltiSat program director, said.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), responsible for space robotics and Earth science, among other planetary things, will lean on cloud-based computer services to keep its data secure but accessible to its scientists.
JPL hopes to save costs in its cyber-related operations under its new Institutional Computing Environment (ICE) services contract with ManTech International Corporation.
Located in Pasadena, California, JPL is a federally funded research and development center managed by the California Institute of Technology (known as Caltech). The NASA laboratory outsources all of its information technology (IT) needs.
Researchers at North Carolina State University (NC State) are launching a project to find new ways to detect and track unmanned aircraft in U.S. airspace. The project seeks to research and develop high-performance communications, networking and air traffic management (ATM) systems, including navigation and surveillance for both manned aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The work is supported by a three-year, $1.33 million grant from NASA’s University Leadership Initiative.
NASA has named Thomas Zurbuchen associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s Washington headquarters.
The Chinese Aeronautical Establishment (CAE) and NASA have signed a formal memorandum of understanding to cooperate on advanced air traffic automation. The five-year agreement calls for both groups to share research into realizing more efficient and timely air traffic.
According to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, who met with CAE officials on a trip to China in August, China faces a “substantial increase” in air travel in the near future. The joint research will acquire and analyze data from Chinese airports as they deal with increasing traffic. This will help identify potential improved air traffic management practices that would allow air carriers to plan departures better to increase efficiencies.
Adaptive space robotics, 3-D printing and autonomous communication systems are among the topics of 21 innovative research and development proposals selected by NASA to enable future solar system missions. The agency’s Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program chose proposals from 41 firms that can negotiate for possible contract awards worth a combined total of about $15.8 million.
NASA’s Office of Small Business Programs and Boeing have initiated a new mentor-protégé agreement tied to the company’s entry into the space agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Boeing will mentor Bastion Technologies, a small business that has worked with the larger firm on the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, which is being built to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station. Under the agreement, Boeing will share manufacturing, quality and business development practices with Bastion for 18 months.
NASA has named Todd May director of its Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced today a partnership with the NASA Center of Excellence for Collaborative Innovation (CoECI) to develop new technology solutions through publicly crowdsourced prize competitions.
Crowdsourcing and incentive prizes across industry have led to the successful creation of advanced technologies, such as autonomous vehicles and improved data analytics. The DHS Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate is expanding its efforts to solicit innovations like these through its partnership with NASA, according to an S&T statement.