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Dates set for Space Station change of command as Franco-German relations awarded Media prize

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    • By Space Force
      Air Marshal Paul Godfrey took the position June 17 and will serve the U.S. Space Force as assistant chief of Space Operations for Future Concepts and Partnerships after three years as the first commander of the U.K. Space Command.

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    • By European Space Agency
      Video: 00:02:27 The first launch of Ariane 6 is a collective success for all of Europe. First flights are no easy thing, but Europe now has a heavy-lift rocket able to launch any mission into any orbit. From Earth observation satellites that monitor our changing climate, predict the weather and assist emergency responders during disasters; to communication and navigation systems that keep Europeans in touch and in the right place; to deep space telescopes and explorers expanding our understanding of the Universe and our place within it – Ariane 6 has restored Europe’s autonomous access to space.
      “Thank you, not only to the ESA team but everyone around Europe who contributed to this moment in history,” said Tony Tolker-Nielsen, ESA’s Director of Space Transportation, the day after Ariane 6’s first flight. “This is a major industrial project, with contributions from 13 countries and hundreds of companies. Like a symphonic orchestra, all instruments are vital to play the perfect music”.
      Ariane 6 launched on 9 July 2024 from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana at 16:00 local time (20:00 BST, 21:00 CEST). Europe’s newest heavy-lift rocket, it is designed to provide great power and flexibility at a lower cost than its predecessors. The launcher’s configuration – with an upgraded main stage, a choice of either two or four powerful boosters and a new restartable upper stage – will provide Europe with greater efficiency and possibility as it can launch multiple missions into different orbits on a single flight, while its upper stage will deorbit itself at the end of mission.
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    • By NASA
      4 min read
      Preparations for Next Moonwalk Simulations Underway (and Underwater)
      The biofilm mitigation research team at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center assembled its own test stand to undertake a multi-month assessment of a variety of natural and chemical compounds and strategies for eradicating biofilm accretion caused by bacteria and fungi in the wastewater tank assembly on the International Space Station. Testing will help NASA extend the lifecycle of water reclamation and recycling hardware and ensure astronauts can sustain clean, healthy water supplies on long-duration missions in space and on other worlds.NASA/Eric Beitle A small group of scientists on the biofilm mitigation team at NASA’s Marshall Space Center in Huntsville, Alabama, study solutions to combat the fast-growing colony of bacteria or fungi, known as biofilm, for future space missions.
      Biofilm occurs when a cluster of bacteria or fungi generates a slimy matrix of “extracellular polymeric substances” to protect itself from adverse environmental factors. Biofilm can be found nearly anywhere, from the gray-green scum floating on stagnant pond water to the pinkish ring of residue in a dirty bathtub.
      For medical, food production, and wastewater processing industries, biofilm is often a costly issue. But offworld, biofilm proves to be even more resilient.
      “Bacteria shrug off many of the challenges humans deal with in space, including microgravity, pressure changes, ultraviolet light, nutrient levels, even radiation,” said Yo-Ann Velez-Justiniano, a microbiologist and environmental control systems engineer at Marshall.
      Biofilm is icky, sticky – and hard to kill.
      Liezel Koellner
      Chemical Engineer and NASA Pathways Intern
      “Biofilm is icky, sticky – and hard to kill,” said Liezel Koellner, a chemical engineer and NASA Pathways intern from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. Koellner used sophisticated epifluorescence microscopy, 3D visualizations of 2D images captured at different focal planes, to fine-tune the team’s studies.
      Keenly aware of the potential hurdles biofilm could pose in future Artemis-era spacecraft and lunar habitats, NASA tasked engineers and chemists at Marshall to study mitigation techniques. Marshall built and maintains the International Space Station’s ECLSS (Environment Control and Life Support System) and is developing next-generation air and water reclamation and recycling technologies, including the system’s wastewater tank assembly.
      “The wastewater tank is ‘upstream’ from most of our built-in water purification methods. Because it’s a wastewater feed tank, bacteria and fungus grow well there, generating enough biofilm to clog flow paths and pipes along the route,” said Eric Beitle, ECLSS test engineer at Marshall.
      To date, the solution has been to pull and replace old hardware once parts become choked with biofilm. But engineers want to avoid the need for such tactics.
      “Even with the ability to 3D-print spare parts on the Moon or Mars, it makes sense to find strategies that prevent biofilm buildup in the first place,” said Velez-Justiniano.
      The team took the first step in June 2023 by publishing the complete genome sequence of several strains of bacteria isolated from the space station’s water reclamation system, all of which cultivate biofilm formation.
      They next designed a test stand simulating conditions in the wastewater tank about 250 miles overhead, which permits simultaneous study of multiple mitigation options. The rig housed eight Centers for Disease Control and Prevention biofilm reactors – cylindrical devices roughly the size of a runner’s water bottle – each 1/60th the size of the actual tank.
      Yo-Ann Velez-Justiniano, left, and Connor Murphy, right, both Environmental Control and Life Support Systems engineers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, prepare slides for study of cultured bacterial biofilm in the center’s test facility NASA/Eric Beitle Each bioreactor holds up to 21 unique test samples on slides, bathed continuously in a flow of real or ersatz wastewater, timed and measured by the automated system, and closely monitored by the team. Because of the compact bioreactor size, the test stand required 2.1 gallons of ersatz flow per week, continuously trickling 0.1 milliliters per minute into each of the eight bioreactors.
      “Essentially, we built a collection of tiny systems that all had to permit minute changes to temperature and pressure, maintain a sterile environment, provide autoclave functionality, and run in harmony for weeks at a time with minimal human intervention,” said Beitle. “One phase of the test series ran nonstop for 65 days, and another lasted 77 days. It was a unique challenge from an engineering perspective.”
      Different surface mitigation strategies, upstream counteragents, antimicrobial coatings, and temperature levels were introduced in each bioreactor. One promising test involved duckweed, a plant already recognized as a natural water purification system and for its ability to capture toxins and control wastewater odor. By devouring nutrients upstream of the bioreactor, the duckweed denied the bacteria what it needs to thrive, reducing biofilm growth by up to 99.9%.
      Over the course of the three-month testing period, teams removed samples from each bioreactor at regular intervals and prepared for study under a microscope to make a detailed count of the biofilm colony-forming units on each plate.
      “Bacteria and fungi are smart,” said Velez-Justiniano. “They adapt. We recognize that it is going to take a mix of effective biofilm mitigation methods to overcome this challenge.”
      Biofilm poses as an obstacle to long-duration spaceflight and extended missions on other worlds where replacement parts may be costly or difficult to obtain. The biofilm mitigation team continues to assess and publish findings, alongside academic and industry partners, and will further their research with a full-scale tank experiment at Marshall. They hope to progress to flight tests, experimenting with various mitigation methods in real microgravity conditions in orbit to find solutions to keep surfaces clean, water potable, and future explorers healthy.
      Joel Wallace
      Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.
      Last Updated Jul 09, 2024 EditorBeth RidgewayLocationMarshall Space Flight Center Related Terms
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    • By NASA
      2 min read
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      In Orbiter Processing Facility-2 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Michael Williams of United Space Alliance paints the NASA logo — known as the “meatball” — on the left wing of space shuttle Endeavour in 2012.Credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis NASA’s logo turns 65 on Monday, July 15, and media are invited to its birthday celebration in Cleveland, the city where the iconic symbol was designed.
      To mark the logo’s birthday, NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland will host a series of activities celebrating the city’s connection to one of the most recognized logos in the world from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET on July 15 at Great Lakes Science Center, home of Glenn’s visitor center. Admission to the Science Center will be free, and the event is open to the public.
      A birthday celebration and cake-cutting ceremony will begin at 10:30 a.m. and feature remarks from center leadership, a visit from the logo designer’s family, and special presentations from the city and state. Other activities include:

      History and Symbolism of NASA Insignia Presentation, noon and 2 p.m. NASA Creatives Presentation featuring Glenn’s award-winning photographers and videographers, 1 p.m. Coloring contest, 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.  Coloring contest winners announced, 2 p.m. Eva the Astronaut mascot appearance and photo ops, 1 to 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. NASA Creatives Presentation featuring retired NASA Glenn photographer Marv Smith, 3 p.m. The round blue, white, and red logo affectionately nicknamed the “meatball” became official in 1959 and was designed by the late James Modarelli, a Cleveland Institute of Art graduate and employee of Lewis Research Center (now NASA Glenn).
      Media interested in covering the event should contact Jacqueline Minerd at jacqueline.minerd@nasa.gov.
      For more information on NASA Glenn events, visit: 
      Jacqueline Minerd 
      Glenn Research Center, Cleveland 
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    • By NASA
      7 Min Read Spectral Energies is a NASA SBIR/STTR-Funded Tech that Could Change the Way We Fly
      City scape of New York City at sunrise with multiple airplanes and other flying vehicles. Credits: NASA SBIR/STTR Editor Note: Article written by Nicholas Mercurio
      With $20 million in commercial sales and $15 million in sales to government agencies, minority-owned small business Spectral Energies, based in Beavercreek, Ohio, has found a customer base for its pulse-burst laser systems. NASA has played a significant role in developing the technology through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) / Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program. With wide-ranging applications including metrology to support commercial aircraft certification, as well as material processing, this technology could pave the way for new forms of passenger aircraft.
      The High Cost of Aircraft Certification
      Did you know that the Boeing 737 first entered service in 1968? Yet there’s a good chance that, if you’ve flown recently, it was on a Boeing 737. That’s due in large part to the cost of certifying new airplanes, which can range in the hundreds of millions of dollars. One place to look for cost savings is the testing process.
      When testing a new design for a space vehicle or commercial aircraft, researchers use wind tunnels to simulate flight conditions. The new aircraft or aircraft component—such as a new wing design—is built, put inside the wind tunnel, and evaluated.
      NASA has long sought to develop robust modeling and prediction software to significantly reduce the need for wind tunnel testing and expensive flight testing. Such software would allow initial analysis to be done on a computer model to identify performance improvement opportunities and iterate on designs, saving the actual manufacturing and its associated costs for a design much closer to being final. Innovations in laser measurement systems could finally bring this goal within reach.
      The Limitations of Traditional Lasers and Early Pulse-Burst Laser Systems
      Entering into use in the 1980s and still widely used today, traditional commercial laser systems operate at 10 Hz, meaning they can fire 10 times per second into the air moving around an aircraft in a wind tunnel. This essentially provides a “photograph” of the air flow at that moment.
      But a tenth of a second is a long time, especially when NASA wind tunnels can test vehicles at up to ten times the speed of sound. In a tenth of a second, the pocket of air from the previous image has long since moved on, meaning the second image is capturing something completely different than the first and crucial data is lost.  
      Why is this data crucial? Because when an aircraft has stalled, it’s the air flow—how the air moves over, under, and around the aircraft—that matters. This air flow changes rapidly in time, leading to effects like stall and buffet; measurement techniques need to be able to capture these rapid changes. Without a complete, data-backed understanding of air flow moment to moment, efforts to develop accurate modeling software have stalled.
      In the late 1990s, pulse-burst laser systems came onto the scene and delivered a dramatic increase in measurement speed. These systems—developed in part with support from the NASA SBIR program—went from producing a set of photograph-like images to delivering a movie-like sequence of data. However, these early systems were difficult to transport and operate, significantly limiting their use.
      NASA SBIR/STTR phasesCredits: NASA SBIR/STTR Enhancing Usability with Air Force SBIR Funding
      By providing funding to develop early-stage technologies, the NASA SBIR/STTR program helps de-risk and develop ideas, maturing them to the point where others can continue innovating. More than a decade after helping to fund some of the earliest pulse-burst laser systems, NASA awarded Phase I SBIR funding to Spectral Energies in 2009 for further advancement of the technology.
      The firm went on to receive Phase II and Phase III SBIR funding from the U.S. Air Force, leveraging these awards to create a commercial pulse-burst laser system that was smaller, easier to transport, more resilient and reliable, and simpler to operate due to significant software advancements. Air Force funding also enabled Spectral Energies to demonstrate several new applications of the system in combustion environments.
      With this foundational work in place, the technology was ready for further innovation to help NASA pursue its long-held goal of more effective air flow measurement and modeling.
      Spectral Energies work with the NASA SBIR/STTR program
      Spectral Energies resumed its work with the NASA SBIR/STTR program in 2014 with multiple Phase I awards. Through continuing program awards, including three Phase II Extended (II-E) and three Phase III contracts, the firm added new capabilities to its pulse-burst laser system, such as high-speed two-color thermometry, demonstrated in 2020.
      Previously, two-color thermometry was typically done at 10 Hz speeds with two lasers and two cameras. Spectral Energies worked with NASA to develop this capability at high-speed using their single-laser, single-camera system, thereby enabling three- and four-dimensional (i.e., three spatial coordinates and time) temperature measurement of chemical flows, a critical capability when designing new chemical propulsion systems.
      Further collaboration with NASA yielded additional capabilities in high-speed picosecond velocimetry and two-dimensional ultraviolet spectroscopy and imaging. Adding these measurement techniques to its technology allowed Spectral Energies to make commercial inroads into hypersonic wind tunnel testing, material processing, and defense applications. Rather than modifying the pulse-burst laser system to deliver these capabilities, each enhancement took the form of an add-on that could be attached to the system, similar to how you can add apps to your smart phone or attach a new lens to your camera. These NASA SBIR-funded add-ons have increased the return on investment (ROI) for each of Spectral Energies’ customers across federal agencies, research universities, and commercial companies.
      Growing a Small Business
      For small businesses, the hunger to do more is often quelled by the reality of limited resources. As a result, necessity is often the biggest driver of decision-making: What do we need to do today to keep our doors open tomorrow? Funding from the NASA SBIR/STTR program allowed Spectral Energies to move into a different mindset and tap into their creative drive.
      “Through the NASA program, we started diversifying in hypersonic test facilities from subsonic combustion facilities,” said Dr. Sukesh Roy, CEO of Spectral Energies, “and that opened many doors for the application of this laser, from detonation to directed energies. Without the funding from NASA, it would have been impossible for us to push for versatile technological enhancements that significantly broadened the application field.” Moving into the research and development of new applications allowed the company to widen its focus and ultimately find a larger customer base.
      Spectral Energies’ continued work with the NASA SBIR/STTR program has helped the company further grow and succeed. By providing entry into new industries and new capabilities for existing customers, the add-on technologies developed with NASA SBIR-funding have generated significant commercial revenue for the small business. Additionally, these developments have opened the door for new funding opportunities with the Air Force, Navy, Army, and Missile Defense Agency.
      Without the funding from NASA, it would have been impossible for us to push for versatile technological enhancements that significantly broadened the application field.
      Dr. Sukesh Roy
      CEO of Spectral Energies
      Providing Benefit to NASA and Beyond
      Dr. Paul Danehy, Senior Technologist for Advanced Measurement Systems at NASA’s Langley Research Center, has worked with Spectral Energies on a number of projects through the program. According to Dr. Danehy, not only did NASA SBIR funding aid the company’s technology growth, program funding also made it possible for NASA researchers to make use of this technology.
      As Dr. Danehy explains, SBIR/STTR Post Phase II funding vehicles like Phase II-E and Phase III allow other programs within NASA to pool money together, then receive matching funds from the SBIR/STTR program. This matching funding increases the purchasing power of other NASA programs and has allowed the agency to acquire two of Spectral Energies’ pulse-burst laser systems, complete with add-ons.
      Agency researchers are using these pulse-burst laser systems to obtain unique quantitative flow field measurements that will allow them to refine software codes to accurately design and evaluate new aerospace vehicles. In time, these software codes could cut hundreds of millions of dollars from the certification of commercial aircraft, allowing new planes to be developed and made available to passengers faster and cheaper.
      View the full article
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