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    • By NASA
      NASA/Kevin O’Brien NASA’s SLS (Space Launch System) rocket in the Block 1B cargo configuration will launch for the first time beginning with Artemis IV. This upgraded and more powerful SLS rocket will enable SLS to send over 38 metric tons (83,700 lbs.) to the Moon, including NASA’s Orion spacecraft and its crew, along with heavy payloads for more ambitious missions to deep space. While every SLS rocket retains the core stage, booster, and RS-25 engine designs, the Block 1B features a more powerful exploration upper stage with four RL10 engines for in-space propulsion and a new universal stage adapter for greater cargo capability and volume. 
      As NASA and its Artemis partners aim to explore the Moon for scientific discovery and in preparation for future missions to Mars, the evolved Block 1B design of the SLS rocket will be key in launching Artemis astronauts, modules or other exploration spacecraft for long-term exploration, and key components of  Gateway lunar space station.
      View the full article
    • By NASA
      2 min read
      Preparations for Next Moonwalk Simulations Underway (and Underwater)
      A wireframe image of an aircraft being designed.NASA The Hypersonic Technology project is divided into four research topic areas. The first research topic is system-level design, analysis, and validation, which explores the impacts of technologies on vehicle performance. The second and third topics focus more specifically on propulsion technologies and vehicle technologies enabling hypersonic flight. The fourth topic area explores material technology that can survive and be reused in high-temperature hypersonic flight.

      System-Level Design and Analysis
      The System-Level Design, Analysis, and Validation research topic (RT-1) investments are focused on computational tool development and validation for hypersonic propulsion and vehicle system analysis methods including uncertainty quantification. RT-1 coordinates and performs definitive systems analysis studies to clarify the potential benefits of hypersonic vehicles and technologies for both high-speed civilian travel and space access and will use these studies to drive a technology portfolio focused on reusability, affordability, and reliability.
      An illustration of a hypersonic vehicle.NASA Propulsion Technologies
      The Propulsion Technologies research topic (RT-2) focuses on turboramjet, ramjet, integrated combined-cycle, dual-mode, and scramjet propulsion systems and associated propulsive mode transitions, combustor operability, fuels, controls, and sensors. RT-2 develops computational fluid dynamic technologies to enable predictive simulations of these systems.
      Hypersonic model test in the 8-Foot High Temperature Tunnel at NASA Langley.NASA Vehicle Technologies
      The Vehicle Technologies research topic (RT-3) investments focus on understanding aerodynamic and aerothermodynamic phenomena, such as high-speed boundary-layer transition and shock-dominated flows, to further technologies that improve aerodynamic performance as well as reduce aerodynamic heating.
      A model of a hypersonic vehicle and sensor in NASA’s 20-Inch Mach 6 Air Tunnel in the Langley Aerothermodynamic Lab.NASA High Temperature Materials
      The High Temperature Durable Materials research topic (RT-4) investments focus on advanced propulsion and vehicle materials research. Due to the operating conditions of hypersonic vehicles, most of the structures and materials are shared between propulsion and vehicle components, which include aeroshell, control surface, leading edge, propulsion, and sealing concepts. RT-4 examines the design and evaluation of potential structure and material concepts through component development and testing under relevant environments. In addition, because of the extreme environments the materials and structures must endure, RT-4 also includes development of advanced thermal and structural measurement methods.

      Read More About Hypersonic Technology About the Author
      Shannon Eichorn
      Shannon Eichorn is the Strategic Engagement Lead for NASA’s Advanced Air Vehicles Program. She is a former test engineer in supersonic wind tunnels and former engineer managing facilities, such as the Aeroacoustic Propulsion Lab, Glenn Extreme Environments Rig, and Creek Road Cryogenics Complex.
      Facebook logo @NASA@NASAaero@NASA_es @NASA@NASAaero@NASA_es Instagram logo @NASA@NASAaero@NASA_es Linkedin logo @NASA Explore More
      3 min read NASA Launches Rocket to Study Hypersonic Aircraft
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      Last Updated Jun 21, 2024 EditorJim BankeContactShannon Eichornshannon.eichorn@nasa.gov Related Terms
      Hypersonic Technology Advanced Air Vehicles Program View the full article
    • By NASA
      A Satellite for Optimal Control and Imaging (SOC-i) CubeSat awaits integration at Firefly’s Payload Processing Facility at Vandenberg Space Force Base, California on Thursday, June 6, 2024. SOC-i, along with several other CubeSats, will launch to space on an Alpha rocket during NASA’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) 43 mission as part of the agency’s CubeSat Launch Initiative and Firefly’s Venture-Class Launch Services Demonstration 2 contract.NASA NASA is readying for the launch of several small satellites to space, built with the help of students, educators, and researchers from across the country, as part of the agency’s CubeSat Launch Initiative.
      The ELaNa 43 (Educational Launch of Nanosatellites 43) mission includes eight CubeSats flying on Firefly Aerospace’s Alpha rocket for its “Noise of Summer” launch from Space Launch Complex-2 at Vandenberg Space Force Base, California. The 30-minute launch window will open at 9 p.m. PDT Wednesday, June 26 (12 a.m. EDT Thursday, June 27).
      NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI) is an ongoing partnership between the agency, educational institutions, and nonprofits, providing a path to space for educational small satellite missions. For the ELaNa 43 mission, each satellite is stored in a CubeSat dispenser on the Firefly rocket and deployed once it reaches sun-synchronous or nearly polar orbit around Earth.
      CubeSats are built using standardized units, with one unit, or 1U, measuring about 10 centimeters in length, width, and height. This standardization in size and form allows universities and other researchers to develop cost-effective science investigations and technology demonstrations.
      Read more about the small satellites launching on ELaNa 43:
      CatSat – University of Arizona, Tucson
      CatSat, a 6U CubeSat with a deployable antenna inside a Mylar balloon, will test high-speed communications. Once the CatSat reaches orbit, it will inflate to transmit high-definition Earth photos to ground stations at 50 megabits per second, more than five times faster than typical home internet speeds.
      The CatSat design inspiration came to Chris Walker after covering a pot of pudding with plastic wrap. The CatSat principal investigator and professor of Astronomy at University of Arizona noticed the image of an overhanging light bulb created by reflections off the concave plastic wrap on the pot.
      “This observation eventually led to the Large Balloon Reflector, an inflatable technology that creates large collecting apertures that weigh a fraction of today’s deployable antennas,” said Walker. The Large Balloon Reflector was an early-stage study developed through NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts program.
      KUbeSat-1 – University of Kansas, Lawrence
      The KUbeSat-1, a 3U CubeSat, will use a new method to measure the energy and type of primary cosmic rays hitting the Earth, which is traditionally done on Earth. The second payload, the High-Altitude Calibration will measure very high frequency signals generated by cosmic interactions with the atmosphere. KUbeSat-1 is Kansas’ first small satellite to launch under NASA’s CSLI.
      MESAT-1 – University of Maine, Orono
      MESAT-1, a 3U CubeSat, will study local temperatures across city and rural areas to determine phytoplankton concentration in bodies of water to help predict algal blooms.  MESAT-1 is Maine’s first small satellite to launch under NASA’s CSLI.
      R5-S4, R5-S2-2.0 ­­­­­- NASA’s Johnson Space Center
      R5-S4 and R5-S2-2.0, both 6U CubeSats, will be the first R5 spacecraft launched to orbit to test a new, lean spacecraft build. The team will monitor how each part of the spacecraft performs, including the computer, software, radio, propulsion system, sensors, and cameras in low Earth orbit.
      NASA and Firefly Aerospace engineers review the integration plan for the agency’s CubeSat R5 Spacecraft 4 (R5-S4) at Firefly Aerospace’s Payload Processing Facility at Vandenberg Space Force Base, California on Wednesday, April 24, 2024.NASA/Jacob Nunez-Kearny “In the near term, R5 hopes to demonstrate new processes that allows for faster and cheaper development of high-performance CubeSats,” said Sam Pedrotty, R5 project manager at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “The cost and schedule improvements will allow R5 to provide higher-risk ride options to low-Technology Readiness Levels payloads so more can be demonstrated on-orbit.”
      Serenity – Teachers in Space
      Serenity, a 3U CubeSat equipped with data sensors and a camera, will communicate with students on Earth through amateur radio signals and send back images. Teachers in Space launches satellites as educational experiments to stimulate interest in space science, technology, engineering, and math among students in North America.
      SOC-i – University of Washington, Seattle
      Satellite for Optimal Control and Imaging (SOC-i), a 2U CubeSat, is a technology demonstration mission of attitude control technology used to maintain its orientation in relation to the Earth, Sun, or other body. This mission will test an algorithm to support autonomous operations with constrained attitude guidance maneuvers computed in real-time aboard the spacecraft. SOC-i will autonomously rotate its camera to capture images.
      TechEdSat-11 (TES-11) – NASA’s Ames Research Center, California’s Silicon Valley
      TES-11, a 6U CubeSat, is a collaborative effort between NASA researchers and students to evaluate technologies for use in small satellites. It’s part of ongoing experiments to evaluate new technologies in communications, a radiation sensor suite, and experimental solar panels, as well as to find ways to reduce the time to de-orbit.
      NASA awarded Firefly Aerospace a fixed-price contract to fly small satellites to space under a Venture-Class Launch Services Demonstration 2 contract in 2020. NASA certified Firefly Aerospace’s Alpha rocket as a Category 1 in May, which authorized its use during missions with high risk tolerance.
      NASA’s Launch Services Program is responsible for launching rockets delivering spacecraft that observe Earth, visit other planets, and explore the universe.
      Follow NASA’s small satellite missions blog for launch updates.
      View the full article
    • By NASA
      Crews transport NOAA’s (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES-U) from the Astrotech Space Operations facility to the SpaceX hangar at Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida beginning on Friday, June 14, 2024, with the operation finishing early Saturday, June 15, 2024. NASA/Ben Smegelsky NASA invites the public to participate in virtual activities and events leading up to the launch of the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) GOES-U (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-U) mission. 
      NASA is targeting a two-hour window opening at 5:16 p.m. EDT Tuesday, June 25, for the launch of the weather satellite aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. 
      Live launch coverage will begin at 4:15 p.m. and will air on NASA+, the agency’s website, and other digital channels. Learn how to stream NASA TV through a variety of platforms. 
      As the fourth and final satellite in NOAA’s GOES-R Series, GOES-U will enhance meteorologists’ ability to provide advanced weather forecasting and warning capabilities. GOES-U also will improve the detection and monitoring of space weather hazards using a new compact coronagraph instrument. 
      Members of the public can register to attend the launch virtually. As a virtual guest, you will have access to curated resources, schedule changes, and mission-specific information delivered straight to your inbox. Following each activity, virtual guests will receive a commemorative stamp for their virtual guest passport. 
      Stay updated on the mission by following NASA’s GOES blog: 
      https://blogs.nasa.gov/goes/
      View the full article
    • By NASA
      4 min read
      Marshall Research Scientist Enables Large-Scale Open Science
      Rahul Ramachandran is a senior research scientist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. NASA By Jessica Barnett 
      Most people use tools at work, whether it’s a hammer, a pencil, or a computer. Very few seek a doctorate degree in creating new tools for the job.
      Using that degree to make it easier for people around the world to access and use the vast amounts of data gathered by NASA? Well, that might just be unheard of if you didn’t know someone like Rahul Ramachandran, a senior research scientist in the Earth Science branch at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.
      “My undergrad was in mechanical engineering. I wanted to do industrial engineering, so I came to the U.S. for that, but I didn’t like the field that much,” Ramachandran explained. “It was by chance somebody suggested meteorology.”
      That led him to learn about atmospheric science as well, but it was the 1990s and the technology of the time was very limiting. So, Ramachandran set out to learn more about computers and how to better analyze data.
      “The limitations effectively prompted me to get a degree in computer science,” he said. “I now had science, engineering, and computer science in my background. Then, over the years, I got more and more interested in the tools and capabilities that can help not only manage data but also how you extract knowledge from these large datasets.”
      Fast forward to today, and Ramachandran is an award-winning scientist helping to ensure the vast amounts of data collected by NASA are accessible and searchable for scientists around the world.
      “I never would have thought that I could ever get a job working at an agency like NASA,” he said. “You get to work with some of the smartest people in the world, and you get to work on really hard problems. I think that’s what makes it so intellectually stimulating.”
      Over the course of his career, he has worked on many different projects focused on scientific data management, designed frameworks for large scale scientific analysis, and developed machine learning applications. Recently, he worked with team members at IBM Research to create a geospatial AI foundation model that could turn NASA satellite data into maps of natural disasters or other environmental changes. He also established the Interagency Implementation and Advanced Concepts Team (IMPACT) at NASA, which supports NASA’s Earth Science Data Systems Program by collaborating with other agencies and partners to boost the scientific benefits of data collected by NASA’s missions and experiments.
      Ramachandran received the 2023 Greg Leptoukh Lecture award for his accomplishments, an honor he attributes in large part to the many collaborators and mentors he’s had over the years.
      During his presentation, Ramachandran spoke about the ways in which artificial intelligence can help NASA continue to adapt and support open science.
      “We’ve seen what people can do with ChatGPT, which is built on a language foundation model, but there are AI foundation models for science that can be adapted into analyzing scientific data so we can augment what we are doing now in a much more efficient manner,” he said. “It requires a bit of a change in people’s mindset. How do we rethink our processes? How do we rethink a strategy for managing data? How will people search and analyze data information differently? All those things have to be thought of with a different perspective now.”
      Such work will have benefits not only for NASA but for those who use the data collected by the agency. Ramachandran said he recently got an email from someone in Africa who was able to use NASA’s data and the geospatial AI foundation model for detecting locust breeding grounds on the continent.
      “NASA has produced valuable science data that we make available to the community to use,” Ramachandran said. “I think the future would be that we not only provide the data, but we also provide these AI models that allow the science community to use the data effectively, whether it’s doing basic research or building applications like the locust breeding ground prediction.”
      As that future nears, Ramachandran and his team will be ready to help others in the science community find the data they need to learn and build the tools they’ll use for years to come.
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      Last Updated Jun 20, 2024 Related Terms
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