April 21, 2022
By Kimberly Underwood
NASA is seeking to replace its NASA Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) communications system, shown in a NASA illustration. The administration is pursuing two demonstrations with six commercial satellite communication providers to start to examine how the industry can support future near-Earth communication mission requirements. Credit: NASA

Building on the success of private industry cargo, launch and commercial crew services, NASA is betting on the commercial satellite industry to meet its future communication needs. It is turning to a service model for fixed satellite services in low-Earth orbit, to support its various missions, and later on, is planning on using mobile satellite services. What stands in the administration’s way, however, is a lengthy regulatory hurdle. NASA must obtain spectrum regulatory recognition for satellite-to-satellite operations from the world’s governing body, the World Radio Conference, which only meets every four years.

December 16, 2021
By Robert K. Ackerman
Northrop Grumman's design for a multipurpose commercial space station is one of the three proposals selected by NASA for development and orbit this decade. Credit: Northrop Grumman

The successors to the International Space Station may come from the drawing boards of commercial research and development shops. NASA has signed agreements with three U.S. firms to design commercial low-earth-orbit (LEO) platforms that could serve both government and private sector needs. Eventually, NASA aims to certify their use by NASA crew members as part of an effort to provide space services that the government needs at a lower cost than currently possible.

June 1, 2021
By Kimberly Underwood
The ProtoSpace augmented reality system takes collaboration to a higher level, allowing scientists at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory to more easily see and discuss spacecraft design considerations, such as for the Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography and Spectroscopy spacecraft.  NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is using a 3D visualization tool to design innovative space probes, including the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover and its Ingenuity helicopter. The same tool can help researchers plan work in space’s complex environment.

The mixed reality, computer aided design (CAD) 3D visualization tool is known as ProtoSpace. It has been crucial to the lab’s collaborative development of spacecraft, says the technical lead for ProtoSpace, Benjamin Nuernberger.

March 1, 2021
By Kimberly Underwood
NASA is developing a wireless communications network to use on the moon that will feature self-configuration, autonomous operations, reliability and hardened systems for the lunar environment. In its first planned technology demonstration in 2022, enabled by a public-private partnership, the space agency aims to increase the technology readiness level of space-based 4G LTE communications technology to “flight proven.”  NASA

With astronauts planning to return to the moon in 2024 for the first time since 1972, NASA will leverage commercial technology to mount a wireless communications network there. The capability will support the exchange of data and communications of autonomous systems, robots and astronauts. The fourth-generation long-term evolution of mobile communications, commonly known as 4G LTE, will provide the network’s reliability for NASA to conduct its lunar activity.

February 12, 2021

Ampex Data Systems, Hayward, California, has been awarded a $9,999,999 firm-fixed price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for telemetric electrical system-supplies and ancillary services. The contractor will furnish all personnel, equipment, labor, tools, materials and other items necessary to provide recorders, parts, technical engineering support, upgrades and the ability for maintenance sustainment of airborne data recorders and ground data recorders for the Air Force Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base, California; Eglin AFB, Florida; and other Department of Defense and National Aeronautics and Space Administration continental U.S. activities.

December 3, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
A Prandtl-M prototype is air launched by a Carbon Cub aircraft in a NASA test to simulate the flight conditions of the Martian atmosphere. The conventional aircraft in the Earth’s atmosphere is used to test a prototype interplanetary probe to glean knowledge that would be applied millions of miles distant. Credit: NASA imagery

Amassing data serves little purpose if it is not processed into knowledge, and that knowledge is largely wasted if leaders don’t understand what they have and how it can best be used.

That was just part of the message on empowering knowledge delivered by a NASA expert on the second day of TechNet Cyber 2020, AFCEA’s virtual event held December 1-3. Tiffany Smith, chief knowledge officer and information technology manager in NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, emphasized the importance of understanding both the knowledge at hand, knowledge priorities and the people who will exploit that knowledge to the fullest.

September 22, 2020
By Julianne Simpson
U.S. Space Force Chief of Space Operations Gen. John “Jay” Raymond and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announce a new memorandum of understanding between the two organizations during a virtual event hosted by the Mitchell Institute.

A new memorandum of understanding was announced today by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and U.S. Space Force Chief of Space Operations Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, USSF, during a Mitchell Institute virtual event.

August 5, 2020

Martin Baker, Uxbridge, United Kingdom, has been awarded a maximum $150,000,000 five-year, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for T-6 and T-38 Sustainment. This contract provides for T-6 and T-38 replenishment spares. Work will be performed in Uxbridge, United Kingdom, and is expected to be completed December 31, 2026. This award is the result of a sole-source acquisition. Fiscal 2020 munitions procurement funds; NASA funds; Army funds; and Foreign Military Sales funds, in the total amount of $13,316, 027 are being obligated at the time of award. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Hill Air Force Base, Utah, is the contracting activity (FA8213-20-D-0004).

July 21, 2020

BAE Systems Technology Solutions and Services Inc., Rockville, Maryland, has been awarded a $495,482,136 firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed-fee and cost-reimbursable indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for the Instrumentation Range Support Program. This contract provides for serviceable components and subsystems for instrumentation tracking systems, worldwide for both foreign and domestic government agencies to include radars, telemetry and optical range mission systems, flight termination systems, data acquisition systems and Global Positioning Systems. Work will be performed on participating ranges in the program, including Air Force, Army, Navy, NASA, Department of Energy, as well as foreign ranges in the United Kingdom, G

July 1, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
The Lightweight Surface Manipulator System (LSMS), a surface version of TALISMAN, would help offload lunar landers and construct facilities on the Moon.  NASA

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.

July 1, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
NASA is embracing a slightly different risk profile for its MoonRanger robot that will explore ice fields on the lunar south pole.  NASA

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.

December 3, 2019

NASA, Washington, D.C., has appointed Douglas Loverro as the agency's associate administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.

May 14, 2019

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.

April 9, 2019

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.

April 2, 2019

Suzanne Gillen has been named NASA's associate administrator for the Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs, Washington, D.C.

September 1, 2018
By George I. Seffers
The Deep Space Optical Communications system will be launched into space in 2022 on the Psyche spacecraft, which will explore a massive metallic asteroid. The research program may eventually contribute to a laser communications infrastructure around the red planet. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State University/Space Systems Loral/Peter Rubin

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.

August 22, 2018

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.

June 4, 2018
Posted by Kimberly Underwood
NASA’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer satellite, known as ICON, will track how Earth’s weather and space weather interact. Photo and artistic rendering of ICON courtesy of NASA.

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.

April 1, 2018
By George I. Seffers
NASA’s development of new communications satellites began in 1960 based on the theory that placing them in a geosynchronous orbit would keep the satellites in the same area of the sky relative to the rotating Earth. Just 17 months later, NASA launched Syncom I, but the satellite stopped sending signals a few seconds before it reached its final orbit and was soon replaced by Syncom II.  NASA

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.

October 17, 2017

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.

August 31, 2017
By Kimberly Underwood
The Institutional Computing Environment contract with ManTech allows JPL to focus on its space-related missions.

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. 

July 24, 2017
SwellPro's waterproof drones shoot video both above and below the water. In an effort to keep airspace safe, NASA is funding research into UAV system detection and tracking.

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.

December 16, 2016

NASA has named Thomas Zurbuchen associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s Washington headquarters.

September 29, 2016
By Robert K. Ackerman

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.

September 21, 2016
By Robert K. Ackerman

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.

By Robert K. Ackerman
Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana (l); John Mulholland, vice president and program manager of Boeing Commercial Programs (c); and Jorge Hernandez, president of Bastion Technologies, examine a Boeing CST-100 Starliner mock-up in the Kennedy Space Center’s former Orbiter Processing Facility 3.

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.

June 14, 2016
By Sandra Jontz
Beth Beck, l, the open innovation program manager in NASA’s Office of the Chief Information, discusses the agency’s Space Apps Challenge 2016, a global hackathon.

Give women wings, and they will soar, says one leader working hard to launch a new crop of budding scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians toward a new frontier. SIGNAL Media and AFCEA International’s Women in AFCEA tackle a multi-month project to highlight women in STEM.

April 19, 2016

NASA has named Todd May director of its Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama.

April 13, 2016

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

December 21, 2015

BAE Systems Technology Solutions & Services Inc., Fort Walton Beach, Florida, has been awarded a $278,500,000 firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed-fee and cost-reimbursable contract for the Instrumentation Radar Support Program. Contractor will provide serviceable components and subsystems to include radar, telemetry and optics systems for 28 test ranges across the Department of Defense, Department of Energy, NASA and seven foreign governments. Work will be performed at Fort Walton Beach, Florida, and is expected to be complete by December 31, 2020. This award is the result of a competitive acquisition with one offer received.

December 2, 2015

NASA, Washington, D.C., has promoted John Honeycutt to manager of the Space Launch System Program and Renee Wynn to chief information officer of the agency.

September 3, 2015
By George I. Seffers
Helicopters drop water and fire retardant on a fire near the Mexican border. AUDREY will provide tailored information to firefighters, whether in the air or on the ground.

Researchers are linking together the power of the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and cloud computing to create a personal assistant to provide total situational awareness to first responders. The advanced program is wise enough to provide only the information necessary for each user, smart enough to ask questions and versatile enough for virtually anyone to use, including firefighters, warfighters, factory workers and home owners.

If all goes well, the system is set to begin prototype testing within the next 16 months, and an initial capability could be fielded soon.

August 5, 2015
Lockheed Martin Corporation is being awarded a $32,289,173 contract for engineering services in support of the P-3 Fatigue Life Management Program for the U.S. Navy; other government agencies, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA, and the U.S. Customs Border Protection; and multiple countries.

Lockheed Martin Corp., Marietta, Georgia, is being awarded a $32,289,173 cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract with a five-year ordering period for engineering services for the P-3 Fatigue Life Management Program in support of the Navy; other government agencies, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the U.S. Customs Border Protection (CBP); and the governments of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Norway and Germany. Work will be performed in Marietta, Georgia, and is expected to be completed in August 2020.

June 8, 2015
By Sandra Jontz
DSCOVR orbits the sun at a location called the Lagrange point 1, or L1. Credit: NOAA

The Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite today reached its orbit position 1 million miles from Earth, little more than 100 days after its winter launch. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellite will become the first operational spacecraft in deep space to provide constant weather analysis.

DSCOVR will replace NASA’s aged Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE), launched in 1997 and operating a decade past its design life, and is expected to begin operations later this summer. 

May 19, 2015
By Sandra Jontz

The good news: There's no such thing as a killer sun flare that could destroy Earth. But annual losses due to power outages throughout the United States caused by solar storms are estimated at more than $100 billion, officials say. Engineers from several government agencies and industry partners have teamed up to explore solutions to better predict, and thus mitigate, adverse impacts solar storms have on power grids.

March 30, 2015

iGov Technologies Inc., Reston, Virginia, is being awarded a $7,400,323 firm-fixed-price task order under a previously awarded NASA contract (NNG07DA27B) for Marine Corps Enterprise Network (MCEN) Secret Internet Protocol Router (SIPR) (MCEN-S) Enterprise Service Stacks (ESS). The scope of this effort includes procuring and delivery of a technical solution, (i.e., hardware, software, and infrastructure), support services, user training, and lifecycle sustainment support to replace MCEN SIPR ESS. This task order includes options which, if exercised would bring the cumulative value of this order to $9,341,310.

January 6, 2015
By Sandra Jontz
NRL's Christoph Englert examines the prototype Michelson interferometer (MIGHTI) being developed at NRL for flight on NASA's ICON mission.

When NASA’s Pegasus rocket lifts off in June 2017, it will carry scientific equipment and technology that might help researchers better understand space variations that contribute to disruptions in communications equipment, radar and Global Positioning Systems here on Earth.

NASA’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) mission will study what happens in Earth’s upper atmosphere and the connections to environmental conditions on the planet, says Thomas Immel, ICON mission lead with the University of California, Berkeley’s Space Sciences Laboratory.

“[The ionosphere] shows day-to-day, hour-to-hour variability that we have never understood,” Immel says.

December 19, 2014
By Sandra Jontz
DSCOVR spacecraft at NASA's Goddard Spaceflight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland.

Scientists are gearing up to launch revolutionary technology into deep space that will provide the most advanced solar storm warning system to date. The spacecraft includes new research systems that also will better monitor Earth's atmosphere and land. 

Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) is scheduled for launch aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on January 23 and will become the first operational spacecraft in deep space to provide weather analysis.

May 7, 2014
By Sandra Jontz
Scientists will use the new capability to study the formation of interstellar grains in the outflow of carbon stars.

NASA scientists at Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, reproduced the processes that occur in the atmosphere of a red giant star and lead to the formation of planet-forming interstellar dust.

At Ames, scientists use a specialized facility called the Cosmic Simulation Chamber (COSmIC) to recreate and study dust grains similar to those that form in the outer layers of dying stars. The research can help them understand the composition and evolution of the universe and creation of planets, to include Earth-like planets, according to a news statement.


David W. Miller has been named chief technologist of NASA, Washington, D.C.

April 9, 2014

Aerojet Rocketdyne, Sacramento, Calif., has been awarded a contract from the Flight Opportunities Program Office at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Test Center to develop propulsion technology for miniature satellites that could possibly lower cost and accelerate mission schedules. Under the first phase of the contract, Aerojet Rocketdyne will develop and perform hot-fire tests on its MPS-120 CubeSat High-Impulse Adaptable Modular Propulsion System. If selected for a flight demonstration in a second phase, the MPS-120 would be the first chemical propulsion system ever used on a CubeSat.

September 25, 2013
George I. Seffers

NASA has exercised the fourth option year under its existing contract with Computer Sciences Corporation, Falls Church, Va. This is a one-year option period for the continuation of financial management, human resources, procurement and information technology support services for the agency. The option increases the existing NASA Shared Services Center (NSSC) support contract by more than $44 million and provides services through Sept. 30, 2014.


Ellen Stofan has been named the chief scientist for NASA, Washington, D.C.

April 26, 2013
George I. Seffers

NASA has exercised a contract option with Lockheed Martin Corp. of Gaithersburg, Md., to provide continued mission control systems services, development, maintenance and operations support as part of the Facilities Development and Operations Contract. The extension has a total estimated value of $166.8 million and extends the period of performance through Sept. 30, 2014. The total contract value has been increased to $1 billion. Lockheed Martin will provide support for the hardware, software, data and displays systems used to train for and execute all human spaceflight missions supported by the Mission Operations Directorate at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

April 12, 2013

NASA and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory are asking industry for solutions to meet future high-performance space computing needs in the coming decades.

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.


NASA has named James Free director, Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio, and Ellen Ochoa director, Johnson Space Center, Houston

August 22, 2012
By George Seffers

NASA has selected Barrios Technology Limited, Houston, Texas, to provide mission and program integration services for the International Space Station Program at the agency's Johnson Space Center in Houston. The contract includes three two-year options valued at approximately $84 million and a provision for additional work not to exceed $50 million. The total potential value of the contract is $384.7 million.

August 8, 2012
By George Seffers

NASA has elected to exercise the first option of the Technology, Engineering and Aerospace Mission Support contract (TEAMS 2) that was awarded to Analytical Mechanics Associates Incorporated, Hampton, Virginia, the company recently announced. The contracted work will be performed at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton. The option is valued at almost $42.2 million. The total value of this cost-plus award-fee with indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract is approximately $328 million. The TEAMS 2 contract provides engineering services to support research and technology development to meet evolving NASA mission objectives.