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By Space Force
The Department of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, in partnership with the United States Space Force and SpaceX, is making final preparations to launch the seventh mission of the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle. Due to launch delays and pad availability, USSF-52 will now launch on Dec. 10, 2023.
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A view of the Earth with Aurora Borealis and an orbital sunrise taken by the Expedition 35 crew aboard the International Space Station.NASA Two small businesses are benefitting from NASA’s expertise as they develop heat shield technologies, cargo delivery systems, and new protective materials for spacecraft and space stations in the growing commercial industry of low Earth orbit operations.
The two American companies – Canopy Aerospace Inc. of Littleton, Colorado and Outpost Technologies Corp. of Santa Monica, California – recently announced progress in the development of a new heat shield manufacturing capability and a new cargo transportation system for potential use on the International Space Station and future commercial space stations.
“These projects are a great example of how NASA is supporting a growing commercial space industry,” said Angela Hart, manager of NASA’s Commercial Low Earth Orbit Development Program at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “There is an entire ecosystem emerging where companies are working together and innovating to meet NASA’s needs and also positioning themselves to reach new customers, so that NASA can be just one of many customers in low Earth orbit.”
The companies work with NASA’s Commercial Low Earth Orbit Development Program through SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) contracts funded by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. Both contracts are part of an innovative pilot program known as SBIR Ignite, focused on small businesses with commercially viable technology ideas aligned with NASA mission needs that can help support the expanding aerospace ecosystem.
Improving heat shields, saving time
A piece of Thermal Protection System (TPS) material undergoes high temperature testing at Canopy Aerospace’s facility in Littleton, Colorado. Canopy Aerospace Canopy Aerospace Inc., a venture-funded startup, is collaborating with NASA to develop a new manufacturing system that can improve production of ceramic heat shields – otherwise referred to as thermal protection systems (TPS). In the vacuum of space, spacecraft and space station hardware must withstand extreme cold and heat environments. Upon re-entry to Earth’s atmosphere, these craft in low Earth orbits are exposed to temperatures as high as 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
To protect spacecraft and space stations during re-entry, engineered TPS are required. NASA developed the first TPS types under the Space Shuttle Program, and similar technologies are still used today to protect the Orion spacecraft as it returns to Earth from space. Canopy’s RHAM (Reusable Heatshields Additive Manufacturing) platform builds on the shuttle program’s heritage methods, but utilizes novel materials, new binding, and heat treatment processes to create a new type of ceramic heat shield and produce it at scale in the commercial sector.
As more companies enter the commercial space market, improved heat shield manufacturing methods are critical to driving down launch costs, shortening lead times, and enabling new mission capabilities for future spacecraft.
Transporting cargo, saving space
A concept infographic depicting the Cargo Ferry cargo transportation vehicle’s launch and return process. Outpost Technologies Outpost Technologies Corp. is collaborating with NASA to develop a new cargo transport vehicle, named Cargo Ferry. The reusable vehicle consists of a payload container for cargo, solar array wings to power the vehicle, a deployable heat shield to protect it on re-entry to Earth’s atmosphere, and a robotic paraglider system to deliver it safely to the ground with “landing pad” precision.
Cargo Ferry could transport non-human cargo including science and hardware from space stations back down to Earth more frequently, freeing up vital research and stowage space on board the station. Commercial space stations are expected to be smaller than the International Space Station, thus systems like Cargo Ferry could offer a more versatile and adaptable solution for cargo transportation.
NASA is supporting the design and development of multiple commercial space stations with three funded partners, as well as several other partners with unfunded agreements through NASA’s Collaborations for Commercial Space Capabilities-2 project.
NASA’s commercial strategy for low Earth orbit will provide the government with reliable and safe services at a lower cost and enable the agency to focus on Artemis missions to the Moon in preparation for Mars while also continuing to use low Earth orbit as a training and proving ground for those deep space missions.
For more information about NASA’s commercial space strategy, visit:
Johnson Space Center, Houston
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Low Earth Orbit Economy
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NASA Selects 11 Space Biology Research Projects to Inform Biological Research During Future Lunar Exploration MissionsBy NASA
4 min read
NASA Selects 11 Space Biology Research Projects to Inform Biological Research During Future Lunar Exploration Missions
NASA announces the award of eleven grants or cooperative agreements for exciting new Space Biology research that will advance NASA’s understanding of how exposure to lunar dust/regolith impact both plant and animal systems.
As human exploration prepares to go beyond Earth Orbit, Space Biology is advancing its research priorities towards work that will enable organisms to Thrive In DEep Space (TIDES). The ultimate goal of the TIDES initiative is to enable long-duration space missions and improve life on Earth through innovative research. Space Biology supported research will enable the study of the effects of environmental stressors in spaceflight on model organisms, that will both inform future fundamental research, as well as provide valuable information that will better enable human exploration of deep space.
Proposals for these eleven projects were submitted in response to ROSES-2022 Program Element E.9 “Space Biology Research Studies” (NNH22ZDA001N-SBR). This funding opportunity solicited ground studies using plant or animal models (or their associated microbes) to characterize the responses of these organisms to lunar regolith simulant similar to that found at NASA candidate landing sites for future lunar exploration missions. This funding opportunity represents a collaboration between the Space Biology Program and NASA’s Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science (ARES) Division within the Exploration Architecture, Integration, and Science (EAIS) Directorate at the NASA Johnson Space Center, who will be supplying the lunar regolith simulant required for these studies.
Selected studies include (but are not limited to) efforts to 1) test the ability of lunar regolith to act as a growth substrate for crop-producing plants including grains, tomatoes and potatoes, 2) understand how growth in lunar regolith influences plant and microbial interactions, and how in turn, these interactions affect plant development and health, 3) identify and test bioremediation methods/techniques to enhance the ability of regolith to act as a growth substrate, and 4) understand how lunar dust exposure impacts host/microbial interactions in human-analogous model systems under simulated microgravity conditions.
Eleven investigators will conduct these Space Biology investigations from ten institutions in nine states. Eight of these awards are to investigators new to the Space Biology Program. When fully implemented, approximately $2.3 million will be awarded in fiscal years 2024-2027.
Plant Research Investigations
Simon Gilroy, Ph.D. University of Wisconsin, Madison
Tailoring Lunar Regolith to Plant Nutrition
Aymeric Goyer, Ph.D. Oregon State University
Growth, physiology and nutrition dynamics of potato plants grown on lunar regolith
Christopher Mason, Ph.D. Weill Medical College of Cornell University
Leveraging the microbes of Earth’s extreme environments for sustainable plant growth
in lunar regolith
Thomas Juenger, Ph.D. University of Texas, Austin
Engineering plant-microbial interactions for improved plant growth on simulated lunar regolith
Plant Early Career Research Investigations
Miranda Haus, Ph.D. Michigan State University
The sources and extent of root stunting during growth in lunar highland regolith and its impact on legume symbioses
Joseph Lynch, Ph.D. West Virginia University
The metabolomic impact of lunar regolith-based substrate on tomatoes
Jared Broddrick, Ph.D. NASA Ames Research Center
Phycoremediation of lunar regolith towards in situ agriculture
Shuyang Zhen, Ph.D. Texas A&M AgriLife Research
Investigating the impact of foliar and root-zone exposure to lunar regolith simulant on lettuce growth and stress physiology in a hydroponic system
Plant Small Scale Research Investigations
Kathryn Fixen, Ph.D. University of Minnesota
The impact of lunar regolith on nitrogen fixation in a plant growth promoting rhizobacterium
Animal Research Investigations
Cheryl Nickerson, Arizona State University
Effects of Lunar Dust Simulant on Human 3-D Biomimetic Intestinal Models, Enteric Microorganisms, and Infectious Disease Risks
Afshin Beheshti, Ph.D. NASA Ames Research CenterSpaceflight and Regolith Induced Mitochondrial Stress Mitigated by miRNA-based Countermeasures
Last Updated Nov 21, 2023 Related Terms
Biological & Physical Sciences Space Biology View the full article
A Journey of Support and Community Impact
Small Business Saturday is an annual holiday that encourages shoppers to support local businesses. Taking place on the Saturday following Thanksgiving, it stands as a dedicated day to celebrate and rally support for the contributions small businesses make to their communities. This year, amid the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, the emphasis on supporting small businesses is more crucial than ever as they navigate and adapt to evolving circumstances.
The History and Evolution:
As of 2013, communities actively embraced the holiday, expressing solidarity by pledging support for their local businesses and organizations.
The timeline of Small Business Saturday is marked by the following key milestones:
2010: Small Business Saturday was launched 2011: The U.S. Senate unanimously passes a resolution endorsing the day 2013: Over 1400 individuals become “Neighborhood Champions,” organizing local events 2015: The Small Business Administration (SBA) becomes a co-sponsor of Small Business Saturday 2020: Americans set a record by spending $19.8 billion on Small Business Saturday 2021: Shoppers surpass the previous year’s record, contributing over $20 billion Today, Small Business Saturday has the unwavering support from private sectors, the SBA, and Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), and NASA.
For small business owners, their enterprises transcend mere commercial endeavors — they are extensions of their identities. Supporting local businesses in your community not only ensures their survival but also fosters thriving communities, establishing a symbiotic relationship between these businesses and the people they serve. This year, Small Business Saturday is on November 25, 2023.
Historically, the NASA Office of Small Business Programs (OSBP) has celebrated this annual holiday by launching a Small Business Saturday Campaign. Now, in 2023, NASA OSBP developed a comprehensive Small Business Saturday Digital Toolkit. This toolkit comprises of digital posters and a virtual background designed to serve as a call-to-action for small business program specialists to integrate it into meetings for a whole week. Our outreach extended beyond the toolkit, urging followers to embrace the theme of “Shop, Support and Sustain!” We invited everyone to display their support by shopping small and tagging us in their posts on social media.
We continue to invite all individuals to help to make this movement a success! Keep an eye out for our upcoming social media posts, where we will be sharing informative strategy guides and an engaging Small Biz Bingo game. Your participation is key to amplifying the impact of this movement, and we look forward to having you on board for another year of supporting and celebrating local businesses.
NASA OSBP is dedicated to championing and uplifting local businesses making an impact on Small Business Saturday and beyond!
Editor: Maliya Malik, NASA Office of Small Business Programs Intern
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3 min read
NASA to Highlight Inclusion During Bayou Classic Event
NASA Logo.NASA NASA is bringing a clear message to the 50th Annual Bayou Classic Friday, Nov. 24 and Saturday, Nov. 25 – while exploring the universe for the benefit of all, it is equally invested in ensuring the participation of all in the agency and its discovery work.
The commitment will be on full display during NASA’s outreach and engagement activities at the Bayou Classic weekend in New Orleans. “Our message is simple – there’s space for everybody at NASA,” said Pamela Covington, Office of Communications director at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, which is leading the agency’s Bayou Classic planning. “We need everyone involved if we hope to accomplish our shared mission and truly benefit all humanity.”
The annual Bayou Classic event, which features a football game and a spirited Battle of the Bands, typically attracts more than 200,000 students and supporters from two Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) – Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Grambling State University in Grambling, Louisiana – to New Orleans.
In addition to signage and social media messaging, NASA Stennis representatives will be on hand during Fan Fest activities Nov. 25 to interact and visit with event participants. Alumni and others will staff a NASA booth at Champions Square next to the Caesars Superdome from 9 a.m. CDT to 12 p.m., to talk about their career paths with the agency and to promote current internship and employment opportunities for minority students and others.
The outreach and engagement effort is part of an agencywide commitment to advance equity and reach deeper into underrepresented and underserved segments of society and is in support of the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to advance racial equity in the federal government. NASA’s 2022 Equity Plan outlines the agency’s efforts to increase participation in areas such as procurements and contracts, as well as grants and cooperative agreements. The agency also is working to eliminate visible and invisible barriers to full participation, and to increase NASA outreach to underserved communities. The agency is scheduled to update the plan and its progress by year’s end.
Frontline evidence of the agency’s commitment to inclusion also is seen in its plan to return humans, including the first woman and the first person of color, to the Moon through Artemis missions, powered by NASA’s SLS (Space Launch System) rocket. That is just one aspect of the agency’s across-the-board diversity work.
The NASA Minority University Research and Education Project is another example. Through the initiative, NASA provides financial awards to minority-serving institutions, including HBCUs, to assist faculty and students alike in STEM-related research efforts. The initiative also focuses on providing internship opportunities and career paths for minority members.
NASA also has launched a Science Mission Directorate Bridge Program to develop partnerships with underserved institutions such as HBCUs and to promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility within the agency. The primary focus is to help transition science and engineering students from undergraduate studies into graduate schools and/or employment by NASA or related institutions.
Along the same lines, a new NASA Space Tech Catalyst Prize seeks to recognize individuals and/or organizations that share effective best practices on ways to engage underrepresented and diverse space technology innovators, researchers, technologists, and entrepreneurs. The initiative is built on the premise that diversity leads to greater innovation, research, and mission success.
Stay connected with the mission on social media, and let people know you’re following it on X, Facebook, and Instagram using the hashtags #Artemis, #BayouClassic50, #NASA_HBCUs. Follow and tag these accounts:
Facebook logo @NASAStennis @NASAStennis Instagram logo @NASAStennis Share
Last Updated Nov 20, 2023 Editor Contact Location Stennis Space Center Related Terms
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STEM Engagement at Stennis Space Center
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SMD Bridge Program
Planning Information Science Mission Directorate Bridge Program Call for ProposalsAnticipated ROSES-22 Amendment or ROSES-23 New Program This page contains Planning…
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