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Former NASA Acting Administrator Steve Jurczyk delivering remarks during NASA’s 60th anniversary.NASA/Joel Kowsky Former NASA Acting Administrator Steve Jurczyk passed away Nov. 23, at the age of 61, following a battle with pancreatic cancer.
During his career, which spanned more than three decades with the agency, Jurczyk rose in ranks to associate administrator, the highest-ranking civil servant, a position he held from May 2018 until January 2021. He ultimately went on to serve as acting administrator between administration changes, serving in that position from January 2021 until his retirement in May 2021.
“Steve dedicated his life to solving some of the most daring spaceflight challenges and propelling humanity’s reach throughout the solar system. The world lost Steve too soon, but his legacy of kindness and exceptional leadership lives on. My thoughts are with his family and loved ones during this difficult time,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.
Preceding his roles as acting administrator and associate administrator, Jurczyk served as the associate administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, a position he had held since June 2015. He was responsible for formulating and executing the agency’s space technology portfolio, focusing on the development and demonstration of new technologies supporting human and robotic exploration within the agency, public/private partnerships, and academia.
Jurczyk joined the leadership team at headquarters after serving as director of NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. He was named to that position in May 2014. He previously served as deputy center director from August 2006 until his appointment as director.
His NASA career began in 1988, serving as a design, integration, and test engineer in the Electronic Systems Branch at NASA Langley. There he worked on developing several space-based Earth remote sensing systems. He served in a variety of other roles at Langley including director of engineering, and director of research and technology.
At the time of his retirement, Jurczyk shared the following:
“It has been an honor to lead NASA and see the agency’s incredible growth and transformation throughout my time here. The NASA workforce is what makes this agency so special, and I’m incredibly grateful for their amazing work, especially throughout the coronavirus pandemic. At NASA, we turn dreams into reality, and make the seemingly impossible possible. I am so fortunate to have been a member of the NASA family.”
Among his awards, Jurczyk received a Distinguished Service Medal, Presidential Rank Award for Distinguished Executive, Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Executive, Silver Achievement Medal, Outstanding Leadership Medal, and numerous Group
Achievement Awards. He also was a finalist for Sammie management excellence award for his leadership in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jurczyk is a graduate of the University of Virginia where he earned a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in electrical engineering in 1984 and 1986. He also was an associate fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
An obituary for Steve Jurczyk is online. For more information about his NASA career, visit:
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A member of the winning team of NASA’s 2023’s BIG Idea Challenge working on their Lunar Forge project, Production of Steel from Lunar Regolith through Carbonyl Iron Refining (CIR).University of Utah Through Artemis, NASA plans to conduct long-duration human and robotic missions on the lunar surface in preparation for future crewed exploration of Mars. Expanding exploration capabilities requires a robust lunar infrastructure, including practical and cost-effective ways to construct a lunar base. One method is employing in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) – or the ability to use naturally occurring resources – to produce consumables and build structures in the future, which will make explorers more Earth-independent.
An ISRU process that NASA wants to learn more about is forging metals from lunar minerals to create structures and tools in the future. Through its 2023 Breakthrough, Innovative and Game-Changing (BIG) Idea Lunar Forge Challenge, NASA sought innovative concepts from university students to design an ISRU metal production pipeline on the Moon. The year-and-a-half-long challenge, funded by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) and Office of STEM Engagement, supports NASA’s Lunar Surface Innovation Initiative in developing new approaches and novel technologies to pave the way for successful exploration on the surface of the Moon.
Finalist teams presented their research, designs, prototypes, and testing results to a panel of NASA and industry judges at a culminating forum on Nov. 16, in Cleveland, Ohio.
The University of Utah team, partnering with Powder Metallurgy Research Laboratory, earned the Artemis Award, which represents top honors in the 2023 BIG Idea Challenge. Their lunar forge project, Production of Steel from Lunar Regolith through Carbonyl Iron Refining (CIR), represents a promising avenue to extract iron from reduced lunar regolith and refine it into a high purity powder product in a two-stage process. The Artemis Award is given to the team whose concept has the best potential to contribute to and be integrated into an Artemis mission.
There were multiple times we came close to scrapping the concept, but each time we found the strength to go a little farther. Our small group was driven by a genuine belief in the concept and curiosity of what would happen. This honor has validated the perseverance, effort, and dedication of exploring an innovative and applied idea. Participating in this challenge has allowed us to gain a tremendous and unique experience in technical and collaboration skills. We are incredibly grateful for this opportunity and for the friends we made along the way!
Collin Andersen, Team Lead
University of Utah and Powder Metallurgy Research Laboratory
The University of Utah team, partnering with Powder Metallurgy Research Laboratory, earned the Artemis Award, which represents top honors in the 2023 BIG Idea Challenge. Credit: National Institute of Aerospace Teams could select to address technologies needed along any point in the lunar metal production pipeline, including, but not limited to:
Metal detecting Metal refining Forming materials for additive manufacturing Testing and qualifying 3D printed infrastructure for use on the Moon In January, teams submitted proposal packages, from which seven finalists were selected in March 2023 for funding of up to $180,000, totaling nearly $1.1 million across all teams. The finalists then worked for nine months designing, developing, and demonstrating their concepts. The 2023 BIG Idea program concluded at its annual forum, where teams presented their results and answered questions from judges, followed by an interactive poster session. Experts from NASA and other aerospace companies evaluated the student concepts based on technical innovation, credibility, management, and teams’ verification testing. In addition to the presentation, the teams provided a technical paper and technical poster detailing their proposed metal production pipeline.
This was a fantastic experience for both the student and NASA participants. The university concepts for how to forge metal on the Moon were inspiring and resulted in diverse, novel approaches for the agency to consider, as well as an extensive learning experience for students. The BIG Idea Challenge proves time and time again that engaging the academic community in complex technology challenges is a worthwhile endeavor for everyone involved.
Director of technology maturation within STMD
In addition to the top spot, several teams were recognized in other categories, including:
Edison Award: Missouri University of Science & Technology
Path-to-Flight Award: University of North Texas with Advanced Materials & Manufacturing Processes Institute at UNT; Enabled Engineering
Systems Engineering: Northwestern University with Wearifi, Inc.
Best Verification Demonstration: Colorado School of Mines
BIG Picture Award: Massachusetts Institute of Technology with Honeybee Robotics
Innovation Award: Pennsylvania State University with RFHIC & Jacobs Space Exploration Group
The 2023 BIG Idea Challenge is sponsored by NASA through a collaboration between STMD’s Game Changing Development program and the Office of STEM Engagement’s Space Grant project. The Challenge is managed by a partnership between the National Institute of Aerospace and the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL).
Students from Northwestern University with Wearifi, Inc., winners of the 2023 BIG Idea Challenge System’s Engineering award.Credit: Northwestern University Colorado School of Mines team members are shown submerging the housing into a furnace holding simulated regolith melt > 1,300°C in the 2023 BIG Idea Challenge.Credit: Colorado School of Mines An image of MIT’s floating zone furnace set up for the unbeneficiated small-scale experiment. Credit: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Missouri University of Science & Technology’s team members are shown working on their lunar forge project in the 2023 BIG Idea Challenge.Credit: Missouri University of Science & Technology An image of furrowed soil created by ACRE’s plow in Northwestern’s BIG Idea Challenge project. Credit: Northwestern University Penn State University’s SMELT system is shown during experiments with 20-g samples during the 2023 BIG Idea Challenge. Credit: Penn State University Student from Missouri University of Science and Technology working on the team’s lunar forge project in the 2023 BIG Idea Challenge.Credit: Missouri University of Science and Technology An overview image depicts how University of North Texas’s SIMPLE project works, in the 2023 BIG Idea Challenge. Credit: University of North Texas Colorado School of Mines team members pouring regolith slag into tile sandcasting molds to review applicability for use as building products in the 2023 BIG Idea Challenge. Credit: Colorado School of Mines An image of one step in the process of reducing anorthite to alumina in Missouri University of Science & Technology’s BIG Idea Challenge project. Credit: Missouri University of Science and Technology Penn State University’s SMELT system is shown during experiments with 20-g samples during the 2023 BIG Idea Challenge. Credit: Penn State University The University of Utah team, partnering with Powder Metallurgy Research Laboratory, earned the Artemis Award, which represents top honors in the 2023 BIG Idea Challenge. Pictured here with Dave Moore, Program Manager for NASA’s Game Changing Development program. Credit: Amy McCluskey, National Institute of Aerospace BIG Idea Challenge winners of the Best Verification Demonstration, Colorado School of MinesAmy McCluskey, National Institute of Aerospace 2023 BIG Idea Challenge winners of the BIG Picture Award, Massachusetts Institute of Technology with Honeybee Robotics Amy McCluskey, National Institute of Aerospace 2023 BIG Idea Challenge winners of the Edison Award, Missouri University of Science & TechnologyAmy McCluskey, National Institute of Aerospace 2023 BIG Idea Challenge winners of the Innovation Award, Pennsylvania State University with RFHIC & Jacobs Space Exploration GroupAmy McCluskey, National Institute of Aerospace 2023 BIG Idea Challenge winners of the Path to Flight Award, University of North Texas with Advanced Materials & Manufacturing Processes Institute at UNT; Enabled EngineeringCredit: Amy McCluskey, National Institute of Aerospace 2023 BIG Idea Challenge winners of the Systems Engineering Award, Northwestern University with Wearifi, Inc.Credit: Amy McCluskey, National Institute of Aerospace NASA sponsors the 2023 BIG Idea Challenge through its Game Changing Development program and the Office of STEM Engagement’s Space Grant project. The National Institute of Aerospace and the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland managed the challenge for NASA.
Team presentations, technical papers, and digital posters are available on the BIG Idea website.
For full competition details, visit:
NASA’s 2023 annual Breakthrough, Innovative and Game-Changing (BIG) Idea Challenge asks college students to design technologies that will support a metal production pipeline on the Moon – from extracting metal from lunar minerals to creating structures and tools. NASA/Advanced Concepts Lab Keep Exploring Discover More Topics From NASA
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Former NASA astronaut Col. (ret.) Frank Borman The following is a statement from NASA Administrator Bill Nelson on the passing of former NASA astronaut Col. (ret.) Frank Borman, who passed away Nov. 7, in Billings, Montana, at the age of 95.
“Today we remember one of NASA’s best. Astronaut Frank Borman was a true American hero. Among his many accomplishments, he served as the commander of the Apollo 8 mission, humanity’s first mission around the Moon in 1968.
“His lifelong love for aviation and exploration was only surpassed by his love for his wife Susan.
“Frank began his career as an officer with the U.S. Air Force. His love of flying proved essential through his positions as a fighter pilot, operational pilot, test pilot, and assistant professor. His exceptional experience and expertise led him to be chosen by NASA to join the second group of astronauts.
“In addition to his critical role as commander of the Apollo 8 mission, he is a veteran of Gemini 7, spending 14 days in low-Earth orbit and conducting the first rendezvous in space, coming within a few feet of the Gemini 6 spacecraft.
“Frank continued his passion for aviation after his time with NASA as the CEO of Eastern Airlines.
“Frank knew the power exploration held in uniting humanity when he said, ‘Exploration is really the essence of the human spirit.’ His service to NASA and our nation will undoubtedly fuel the Artemis Generation to reach new cosmic shores.”
For more about Borman’s NASA career, photos, and his agency biography, visit:
Jackie McGuinness / Cheryl Warner
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Johnson Space Center, Houston
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By Space Force
The United States Space Force selected two institutions under the University Consortium Research Opportunity 2.0/Space Strategic Technology Institute 1 to facilitate applied research in the areas of Beyond Geostationary Earth Orbit Operations and Space Domain Awareness.
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By Space Force
U.S. Space Force Master Sgt. Phillip Lowery recently returned to Vandenberg Space Force Base after graduating with top honors from the U.S. Marine Corps Staff Noncommissioned Officers Academy (SNCOA) at Camp Johnson, North Carolina.
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