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NASA astronaut Scott Kelly took this majestic image of the Earth at night highlighting the green and red hues of an Aurora. NASA NASA is asking American companies to provide input on the agency’s requirements for end-to-end services as part of the Commercial Low-Earth Orbit Development Program.
In the future, the agency plans to transition its operations in low Earth orbit to commercially owned and operated destinations to ensure continued access and presence in space for research, technology development, and international collaboration after the planned retirement of the International Space Station.
Through a request for information (RFI), NASA is seeking feedback from industry as the agency refines its anticipated requirements for new commercial space destinations. The requirements will help industry understand NASA’s human-rating standards that will be used by the agency to certify that the new systems meet NASA expectations for low Earth orbit operations and transportation. An industry briefing day is scheduled to take place Tuesday Oct. 12, with responses to the RFI due Wednesday, Nov. 17.
“This RFI is a significant next step in transitioning low Earth orbit operations to the private sector, allowing NASA to be one of many customers for services” says Phil McAlister, director of commercial spaceflight at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. “These requirements will be the foundation upon which the companies can design safe systems. But the requirements have to work for companies as well. Thus, we are seeking industry feedback on these draft requirements to ensure that the Commercial LEO destinations will be safe, reliable, and cost effective.”
The agency is currently supporting the development of several new stations and destination concepts through both funded and unfunded agreements. However, a company does not need to have a current agreement with NASA in order to provide feedback via the RFI or to bid on future procurements to provide low Earth orbit services to the agency.
“We’ve seen a tremendous amount of innovation and effort from industry thus far in developing their station designs,” says Angela Hart, manager of the Commercial Low Earth Orbit Development program at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “We are working in lockstep with multiple companies to help guide them in a way that sets them up for success to meet our requirements. However, it’s crucial that we open feedback to as wide of an audience as possible. The more commercial stations that are successfully operating in low Earth orbit, the greater likelihood that we can continue to drive down costs and encourage innovation in this new commercial space industry.”
NASA previously sought industry input in 2022 and early 2023, and has hosted two industry days on the agency’s assumptions and expectations for crew and technical requirements to guide companies’ technical and business plans. The feedback from industry will continue to inform the agency’s future commercial services strategy for low Earth orbit destinations.
NASA’s goal is to enable a strong commercial marketplace in low Earth orbit where NASA is one of many customers for private industry. This strategy will provide services the government needs safely, at a lower cost, and enables the agency to focus on its Artemis missions to the Moon in preparation for Mars, while continuing to use low Earth orbit as a training and proving ground for those deep space missions.
Information about how to attend the industry briefing day is contained in the RFI on SAM.gov. The dates for industry day and responses due are subject to change pending a government shutdown resolution and will be updated on SAM.gov when available. For more information about NASA’s commercial space strategy, visit:
By Rebecca Turkington
Johnson Space Center, Houston
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The NASA Space Tech Catalyst Prize will recognize U.S. individuals and/or organizations that share effective best practices for how they support underrepresented and diverse space technology innovators, researchers, technologists, and entrepreneurs. The prize competition’s primary goals are: (1) Showcase effective strategies and approaches for developing the capacity and skill sets of these groups, enhancing their ability to succeed, (2) Expand the outreach and engagement efforts of the NASA ESIP portfolio, ensuring a diverse and inclusive pool of applicants for future funding opportunities, and (3) Recognize the efforts of those who support and nurture underrepresented and diverse individuals and organizations in the space technology sector.
Award: $500,000 in total prizes
Open Date: September 29, 2023
Close Date: February 22, 2024
For more information, visit: https://www.spacetechcatalystprize.org/
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The US Navy's engagement with UFO encounters is not a recent phenomenon. UFO sightings by the Navy can be traced back to the 1950s and 1960s. However, during that period, these sightings were shrouded in secrecy. Crew members were explicitly instructed to remain silent about the incidents, and when pressed, they were often provided with vague or nonsensical explanations regarding the nature of these mysterious objects.
Even with the latest official announcements of supposed UFO/USO encounters such as the USS Nimitz UFO Incident (2004) USS Theodore Roosevelt UFO Incident (2014-2015) USS Kidd UFO Incident (2019) USS Russell UFO Incident (2019) USS Omaha UFO Incident (2021) You can imagine that the US Navy has experienced many more UFO / USO encounters over the years but these events are kept secret.
Here are five UFO / USO incidents in which the US Navy has been involved during the 60's, 70's and 80's.
1. Azores Islands, Early fall 1965, USS Albany GC10 -Late at night, lights out, watch shift. Technician and air traffic controllers observed 3 unidentified objects on radar following the fleet at a distance of about 40-50 miles for over an hour. -Three jets deployed to investigate. The pilots flying at speeds of around 1350 nots, but failed to make visual contact with the unknown objects. The technician, however, could spot the bogies on the height-finding radar, SP530. -As the jets attempted to approach the UFOs, the objects moved away rapidly, maintaining their triangular formation.-Then, within seven radar sweeps, the UFOs had completely disappeared from the radar, while the jets remained visible.
2. Azores Islands, May 23, 1968, USS Monrovia APA-31-Witness was on board the USS Monrovia APA-31 and observed a large submerged object on the starboard side of the ship, just behind the stern. -This USO had an elongated oval shape and emitted a luminescent orange glow. It appeared to have a translucent quality. -The USO seemed to mimic several changes in the ship's compass, radar, and radio equipment to malfunction, rendering them inoperable.-As suddenly as it had appeared, the USO vanished. -The sighting lasted for about 90 minutes and was witnessed by around 1,100 members of the ship's crew, including a contingent of US Marines.
3. Mediterranean Sea, Summer 1974, USS Forrestal CV-59 -Signalman on duty during a regular night-watch spots an unusual reflection appearing as an underwater light, approximately 8 miles away and reports the sighting to the control tower. -Despite sonar failing to confirm the contact, the visual sighting was strong enough to bring the captain, executive officer, flight boss, and several intelligence officers to the deck. Over the next 20 minutes, they watch the object moving at high speed across the ship's bow. -The object zigzagged from 60 to over 100 miles per hour until it halted directly in the ship's path at one point within 4 miles of the Forrestal, before disappearing into the depths of the sea. -In the aftermath, the witness was ordered by the executive officer to remain silent.
4. Bermuda Triangle, June 15, 1977, USS Glover AGFF-1 -Early morning of June 15, 1977 witness's watch duty above the bridge interrupted by a bright red-orange circular object that dropped from the sky and neared the ship and almost simultaneously, another watch also spotted the object. -Within moments, two more similar objects appeared, compelling them to report 3 unidentified contacts to the bridge and the Combat Information Center (CIC). -Suddenly, the ship lost all power, including radar and sonar, and came to a standstill in the water while the 3 objects conducted astonishing maneuvers across the sky before forming a triangle directly above the ship. -The 3 objects then converged to form a single bright orange light circle about 200 yards directly above the ship. Then vanish and the ship regains full power, and all systems reboot. -Later that night, ship encounters a surface contact that moved at an estimated speed of 70 mph and dove underwater without any slowdown, eventually, it plunged into depths of the Atlantic, disappearing both from the sonar and radar screens. -The following morning, the crew was assembled and ordered to forget everything they had witnessed and told they had seen 'an experimental Russian helicopter.'
5. Caribbean Sea, Summer 1980 or 1981, USS W.S. Sims FF-1059 -An urgent dispatch was relayed to the USS W.S. Sims to head to Puerto Rico where there were reports of a Russian submarine exhibiting suspicious maneuvers in the area. -Onboard were divers, scientists and other experts, all brought together to investigate the unusual underwater activity. -The crew spent several intense weeks working to determine what exactly they were dealing with.-Witness heard "whispers" from the divers who were part of the investigation. They referred to the incident as another "Shag Harbor." -The final outcome of the mission remained elusive and the crew were told they had been studying a natural phenomenon of undetermined origin. -The phenomenon had the uncanny ability to elude detection at will, only to reappear again, this pattern continued for about six weeks.
The Shag Harbor UFO incident was the reported impact of an unknown large object into waters near Shag Harbor, Nova Scotia, a fishing village on the Atlantic coast, on 4 October 1967.
At least eleven people saw a low-flying lit object head towards the harbor. Multiple witnesses reported hearing a whistling sound "like a bomb," then a "whoosh," and finally a loud bang.
Two days after the incident had been observed, a detachment of navy divers from Fleet Diving Unit Atlantic was assembled and for the next three days, they combed the seafloor of the Gulf of Maine off Shag Harbor looking for an object.
The final report said no trace of an object was found but it is suggested that they kept this UFO incident secret.
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NASA logoCredits: NASA NASA has selected four small explorer missions to conduct concept studies. These studies aim to expand knowledge of the dynamics of the Sun and related phenomena, such as coronal mass ejections, aurora, and solar wind to better understand the Sun-Earth connection.
Any missions selected to move forward after the concept studies are conducted will join the current heliophysics mission fleet, which not only provides deeper insight into the mechanics of our universe, but also offers critical information to help protect astronauts, satellites, and communications signals, and helps enable space exploration.
“These four mission concept studies were selected because they address compelling science questions and could greatly impact the field of heliophysics,” said Nicky Fox, the associate administrator for science at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “These mission proposals are exciting because they build upon and complement the science of our current mission fleet, have the potential for broad impact and could provide new and deeper insight into the solar atmosphere and space weather.”
The Cross-scale Investigation of Earth’s Magnetotail and Aurora (CINEMA) mission would work to understand the structure and evolution of Earth’s plasma sheet – a long sheet of denser space plasma in the magnetic fields flowing behind Earth, known as the magnetotail — using a constellation of nine CubeSats flown in sun-synchronous, low Earth orbit. The primary purpose of this mission is to study the role of plasma sheet structure, as well as how Earth’s magnetic fields transfer heat and change over time at multiple scales. CINEMA will complement current heliophysics missions, such as the THEMIS (Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms), MMS (Magnetospheric Multiscale) mission, and the planned Geospace Dynamics Constellation mission. The principal investigator for the CINEMA mission concept study is Robyn Millan from Dartmouth College, in Hanover, New Hampshire.
The Chromospheric Magnetism Explorer (CMEx) mission would attempt to understand the magnetic nature of solar eruptions and identify the magnetic sources of the solar wind. CMEx proposes to obtain the first continuous observations of the solar magnetic field in the chromosphere – the layer of solar atmosphere directly above the photosphere or visible surface of the Sun. These observations would improve our understanding of how the magnetic field on the Sun’s surface connects to the interplanetary magnetic field. The principal investigator for this mission concept study is Holly Gilbert from the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.
EUV CME and Coronal Connectivity Observatory
The Extreme ultraviolet Coronal Mass Ejection and Coronal Connectivity Observatory (ECCCO) consists of a single spacecraft with two instruments, a wide-field extreme ultra-violet imager and a unique imaging EUV spectrograph. ECCCO’s observations would contribute to understanding the middle corona, the dynamics of eruptive events leaving the Sun, and the conditions that produce the outward streaming solar wind. The mission would address fundamental questions about where the mass and energy flow linking the Sun to the outer corona and heliosphere originate ECCCO’s concept study principal investigator is Katharine Reeves from the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The primary objective of the Magnetospheric Auroral Asymmetry Explorer (MAAX) mission would be to improve our understanding of how electrodynamic coupling between Earth’s magnetosphere and ionosphere regulates auroral energy flow. The mission would use two identical spacecraft equipped with dual-wavelength ultraviolet imagers to provide global imaging of northern and southern aurora. The principal investigator for the MAAX concept study is Michael Liemohn from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
“These mission concept study selections provide so much promise to ongoing heliophysics research,” said Peg Luce, acting Heliophysics division director at NASA Headquarters. “The potential to gain new insights and answer longstanding questions in the field while building on the research and technology of our current and legacy missions is incredible..”
Funding and management oversight for these mission concept studies is provided by the Heliophysics Explorers Program, managed by the Explorers Program Office at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
For more information on NASA heliophysics missions, visit:
Last Updated Sep 29, 2023 Related Terms
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