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NASA Hack Space: August 2011


The 100 Year StarshipTM (100YSSTM) is a project seeded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), with NASA Ames Research Center as executing agent, to develop a viable and sustainable non-governmental organization for persistent, long-term, private-sector investment into the myriad of disciplines needed to make long-distance space travel viable. The goal is to develop an investment vehicle--with the patronage and guidance of entrepreneurs, business leaders, and technology visionaries--which provides the stability for sustained investment over a century-long time horizon, concomitant with the agility to respond to the accelerating pace of technological, social, and other change. More

"Studying space and the physical sciences at Singularity University provoked significant thought and consideration. In the belief that experience is the best method of learning, many of the students felt it necessary to experience lunar and Martian gravity, and weightlessness to better understand space and space exploration. ZERO-G made this experience possible. From the first seconds of experiencing reduced gravity, the surreal experience left an indelible mark of excitement and happiness on each participant. Moving into weightlessness, we finally understood what it exactly feels like to be in space," said Carlo Bellini, Graduate Studies Program Participant, Singularity University." More

"This was a documentary filed by UBC/UTV television in regard to the first African Made aircraft, the African Skyhawk. Details can be found on ugandanway.com then you click on uiaa aircraft. The African Space research Program is the official developer of this project under UIAA, Uganda International Alien Association"

- Ugandan man wants to build space shuttle from scratch, io9
- African space research: Dreaming of a manned shuttle, BBC

NigeriaSat-X was built by engineers from Nigeria's National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) under the supervision of Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL). The new generation of Nigerian scientists and engineers trained up under the NigeriaSat-X project will continue to support Nigeria's space programme, ensuring its continued success and sustainability. In total, 26 Nigerian engineers were located at SSTL's facilities in Guildford for 18 months throughout the design and test phases. More

"This notice is being issued as a Request for Quotations (RFQ) for the following rapid prototype machine: 1 EA ProJet HD 3000 Plus Professional 3D Printer." More info on NASA JSC procurement

"The ProJetTM HD 3000 3-D Production System offers the option of two modes, High Definition (HD) and Ultra High Definition (UHD), for applications ranging from prototypes and concepts to direct castable models. For direct castable models of fine jewelry and other components, the UHD mode is unmatched in its ability to handle delicate features and produce detailed parts and patterns. For precision models and prototypes, the high speed and exceptional surface quality of the standard HD mode is ideal. Rely on the HD mode everyday for a wide variety of applications including concept development, design verification, form-fit testing, and product presentations."

Singularity University co-founder Peter Diamandis, faculty and staff introduce the aims and mission of the university. The video features students from the current graduate student program 2011.

45 Years ago today, on 23 August 1966, Lunar Orbiter 1 snapped the first photo of Earth as seen from lunar orbit. While a remarkable image at the time, the full resolution of the image was never retrieved from the data stored from the mission. In 2008, this earthrise image was restored by the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project at NASA Ames Research Center. We obtained the original data tapes from the mission (the last surviving set) and restored original FR-900 tape drives to operational condition using both 60s era parts and modern electronics. The following links provide background on the image, its restoration, and reactions to its release.

- Newly Restored Lunar Orbiter Image of Earth and Moon (Detail)
- How the Photo Was Taken
- House of Representatives Honors Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project
- Nimbus II and Lunar Orbiter 1 Imagery: A New Look at Earth in 1966
- Dumpster Diving for Science, Science Magazine
- What Lunar Orbiter 1 Was Seeing on 23 August 1966

Play as an aspiring astronaut in Astronaut: Moon, Mars and Beyond™, the official NASA MMO game. Set in the year 2035, you will embark on an adventure into space, Mars, the asteroid belt, and the outer planets. You will uncover secrets about a threat to civilization as we know it, and build you and your team a high-tech inventory of space gear including a home base, somewhere out there. Our small group of 20 developers have won a contest* held for the best idea for an official massively multi-player online game depicting the future, and signed a "Space Act Agreement" with NASA, who chose our pitch over all others, the start of a project conceived of at NASA Learning Technologies. Can you believe it? Not only can we pick up the phone and call a NASA scientist to talk about our spaceship and exploration ideas, but we're being encouraged to be creative! It's a once-in-a-lifetime project for all of us: the kind of work you can only dream of as a game developer (and player). More at Kickstarter

Space Adventures, Ltd., the only company currently providing human space mission opportunities to the world marketplace, along with their partner Armadillo Aerospace, LLC, released a Request for Information (RFI) solicitation today in an effort to gather information on the industry's capabilities in designing and fabricating a space suit for suborbital spaceflight. Last year, Space Adventures entered into an exclusive marketing agreement with Armadillo Aerospace, a leading manufacturer of reusable rocket power vehicles, and together the companies are developing a commercial passenger suborbital space program. More

Tor/Forge Books and NASA Jointly Announce Publishing Collaboration

In an effort to educate and encourage math and science education Tor/Forge Books, an imprint of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, and NASA have embarked on a collaboration to publish a series of science based, commercial fiction books, referred to as "NASA inspired Works of Fiction" around concepts pertinent to the current and future work of NASA. NASA will allow existing and new Tor/Forge authors to team up with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center's (GSFC) Subject Matter Experts (SME) to create scientifically accurate and entertaining novels in a distinctly unique way.

Tor/Forge and NASA hope that pairing scientists and engineers with the imprints' award-winning roster of writers will raise awareness and inspire the study of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), in line with the President's Technology Agenda. They also hope to contribute towards the goal of attracting and retaining students in the above fields, thereby strengthening NASA and the nation's future workforce in a compelling manner. More

Images: Opportunity Arrives At Endeavour Crater

"Opportunity had arrived at the western rim of 13-mile-diameter (21-kilometer-diameter) Endeavour crater four days earlier. A portion of the northeastern rim of Endeavour forms the distant horizon in this view. A crater about 66 feet (20 meters) in diameter is on the Endeavour rim near Opportunity's arrival point. From a position south of Odyssey, this view is dominated by a rock informally named "Ridout" on the northeastern rim of Odyssey. The rock is roughly the same size as the rover, which is 4.9 feet (1.5 meters) long."

Keith's note: It has been a long tradition among planetary scientists to name prominent features that their missions discover - if for no other reason than to make navigation easier. According to Mars rover principal investigator Steve Squyres: "None of these names are 'official' in any sense. Selecting the official names of features like craters on other planets is the purview of the International Astronomical Union. None of our names -- including the names of the craters -- are official IAU names. They are simply names that we have chosen out of necessity for use within the team during the mission. Unless you have some names to use for the things you're looking at and driving by, things get pretty confusing."

Why shouldn't these names be "official"? People have been naming places on Earth since people started to speak. Terrestrial exploration has a rich tradition of allowing the discoverers to name the things that they discover. There are lots of things that appear in these pictures that have yet to be named. Why can't everyone have a shot at naming things - including the taxpayers who paid for the missions? Why should naming things on other worlds be the "purview" of an elite group like the IAU - one that answers only to itself?

"Welcome to "The Sp.ace". The Sp.ace is for people who are passionate about solving extraordinary problems. It's a space for people who envision a more open, participatory and collaborative space agency. It's a space that deserves the energy and creativity of those who inhabit it because it is adaptable, innovative and engaging. It's a space where challenging the normal rules of business is encouraged. It's a space where an electric current of innovation pulses through every activity, meeting, and conversation. Directions: The location is above the old Weightless Environment Training Facility (WETF) in Building 29. ..." More at open.nasa.gov

"With wonderful heart and an impressive sense of scale, Tiffany Shlain's vibrant and insightful documentary, Connected, explores the visible and invisible connections linking major issues of our time--the environment, consumption, population growth, technology, human rights, the global economy--while searching for her place in the world during a transformative time in her life. Connected illuminates the beauty and tragedy of human endeavor while boldly championing the importance of personal connectedness for understanding and coping with today's global conditions." via NASA IT Summit 2011 and open.nasa.gov

NASA Federal Advisory Committees- Nominations and Self- Nominations

"In accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act, Public Law 92-463, as amended, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and in accordance with the Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies signed on December 17, 2010, signed by the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), Executive Office of the President, NASA announces an invitation for the public to nominate individuals and also submit self-nominations for consideration as potential members of NASA's Federal advisory committees. NASA's Federal advisory committees have member vacancies from time to time throughout the year, and NASA will consider nominations and self-nominations to fill such intermittent vacancies. NASA is committed to selecting members to serve on its Federal advisory committees based on their expertise, knowledge, and contribution to the relevant subject area."

NASA will hold a media teleconference at 2 p.m. EDT on Monday, Aug. 22, to announce proposals selected in the agency's Technology Demonstration Mission program. These crosscutting technology demonstrations were selected because of their potential to infuse high-impact capabilities into NASA's future space operations missions. Flight demonstrations will advance the technology readiness of these systems, providing tangible products and capabilities ready for infusion into NASA missions. Technology Demonstration Missions are a vital element in the technology readiness pipeline, allowing NASA to advance innovations from concept to flight across the agency's 10 space technology programs.

What could possibly make an already super cool robotics competition even better? The zero-gravity environment of space! NASA and DARPA, in cooperation with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, TopCoder, and Aurora Flight Sciences, recently announced the Zero Robotics competition, an event open to all high schools in the United States that form a team and complete the application process. The Zero Robotics competition is a student software competition that takes the idea of a robotics competition to new heights--literally. The robots are basketball-sized satellites called SPHERES, and they look like something straight out of Star Wars. The competition is kicked off by a challenging problem conjured up by DARPA and NASA. After multiple rounds of simulation and ground competition, a final tournament will be held onboard the International Space Station! The 27 finalists will have their robotic programs run by an astronaut in the microgravity environment of space. More at OSTP

NASA is challenging university students to solve space exploration challenges. The RASC-AL (Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts Academic Linkage) contest, sponsored by NASA and the National Institute of Aerospace (NIA), seeks engineering ideas that could potentially provide solutions to issues faced by current NASA projects. "RASC-AL is born out of the desire to get new, creative, innovative ideas outside the traditional box," said Pat Troutman, Strategic Analysis Manager at NASA's Langley Research Center. "If you never innovate, you never progress."

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) Innovative Partnership Program (IPP) and Earth Science Division will be hosting a Commercial Suborbital Vehicles Workshop at the GSFC on September 7, 2011. The purpose of the proposed workshop is to provide information for Earth and Space scientists about these vehicles capabilities, and to examine and discuss science topics that might be conducted from these platforms. Suborbital reusable launch vehicles could enable researchers to directly access the mesosphere, lower thermosphere (MLT) region of the atmosphere (50-140 km altitude), repeatedly, many times per day, at low-cost, and at very low velocities in many different environmental locations around the planet (no hypersonic shock).More

Editor's note: In the film "Avatar" the line between organic and electronic is often blurred. Hybrid "avatars" containing both human and Na'vi DNA are created - but with blank minds. Humans enter a chamber that integrates with both their nervous system and that of the avatar so as to allow the human to teleoperate the avatar's body as if it were their own. Clearly, such an integration between biology and technology needs to be seamless and intimate. A new technology is now emerging that would lend itself to such cybernetic/biological applications. As described below, ultra-thin patches with embedded electronics have been developed that can be easily applied to your skin so as to allow integration with electronic systems. In the near term, such an interface could find application in space by allowing astronauts to be better monitored in terms of their health and also allow them to remotely operate robots.

The Kepler science team announced on Aug. 12 the next release of data to the public archive. Quarter three science data collected during the months of September to December 2009 will be available for download on Sept. 23, 2011. Kepler is the first NASA mission capable of finding Earth-size planets in or near the "habitable zone," the region in a planetary system where liquid water can exist on the surface of the orbiting planet. Although additional observations will be needed over time to reach that milestone, Kepler is detecting planets and planet candidates with a wide range of sizes and orbital distances to help us better understand our place in the galaxy. More.

Kris Kimmel of Kentucky Space is organizing the first hackerSPACE Workshop, which provides an opportunity for makers learn about building spacecraft from space professionals and engineers. The focus of the workshop is on the CubeSat satellite platform. The workshop is November 11-12 in Lexington, Kentucky. The workshop will be led by Bob Twiggs, Emeritus professor and former director of the Space Systems Development Lab at Stanford University, now professor at Morehead State University and also with Kentucky Space. Bob is credited with inventing the CubeSat spacecraft, which is now helping to revolutionize space, putting it within reach of more people than ever. More

NASA is seeking proposals for small satellite payloads to fly on rockets planned to launch between 2012 and 2014. These miniature spacecraft, known as CubeSats, could be auxiliary payload on previously planned missions. CubeSats are a class of research spacecraft called nanosatellites. The cube-shaped satellites are approximately four inches long, have a volume of about one quart and weigh less than three pounds.

NASA has selected four companies to develop concepts for storing and transferring cryogenic propellants in space. These capabilities are important for the agency's future deep space human exploration missions.

The awards total approximately $2.4 million with a maximum individual contract award of $600,000. Each company will provide a final report to help define a mission concept to demonstrate the cryogenic fluid management technologies, capabilities and infrastructure required for sustainable, affordable human presence in space.

Event Date: August 4-5, 2011

Location: TBD/Virtual - Check website for details.

Audience: All welcome, especially students!

Web: http://open.nasa.gov/maker (NASA-only access)

Maker Camp is an effort stemming from the burgeoning NASA Forward group targeted at engaging the work force in fast, hyper-local projects that advance NASA's mission and vision. Based on the "Maker" culture, the concept is to gather interested individuals and go about creating something new. Several centers have already conducted their Maker Camps, focusing on 2 to 3 activities ranging from physical creations to process improvements.

Do you like to build, tinker and try new things? Do you wish some days that you could just get your hands dirty and create something? Maker Camp is an internal pilot project focused on creating a culture of experimentation by offering individuals the chance to collaborate on quick, innovative projects that are good for the center and the agency. JSC will connect remotely and work collaboratively with teams at ARC to see what we can do together in a short, focused period of time.

Breakfast and overview is at 9 a.m., and project pitches and group selection are at 10 a.m. on Thursday Aug. 4 in Building 29 the sp.ace (please see http://www.opennasa.com/space/ for directions). Projects will be presented/demoed on Friday afternoon, Aug. 5. Watch http://open.nasa.gov/maker/ for live updates during the event.

MADE IN SPACE, a start-up dedicated to providing solutions for manufacturing in space, announced the successful completion of testing 3D printers in zero-gravity. The test took place on multiple zero-gravity flights provided by NASA's Flight Opportunities Program. Two modified off-the-shelf 3D printers were tested, including one provided by their partner 3D Systems, a leading provider of 3D printing solutions. The company also tested a custom-made printer that's designed to manufacture structures in space.

Several objects were printed during the flight, including a scaled-down wrench that became the first ever tool printed through partial zero-gravity. They also built a part that was designed by Within Technologies to be optimized for complete strength-to-mass ratio.

NASA Ames Research Center (ARC) is hereby soliciting information about potential sources for the design, assembly, test and manufacture of pico- or nanosatellites. Vendors having the capabilities necessary to meet or exceed the stated requirements are invited to submit appropriate documentation, literature, brochures, and references. More

The NASA Launch Services Program (LSP) is seeking a high altitude launch service for demonstration Nano-Satellites. This contract will consist of a single launch with potential extension at the Government's discretion to up to four additional launches. LSP requires a launch service provider with proven flight experience and a rocket capable of both launch and safe return of Nano-Satellite payloads in order to collect/analyze NASA experimental data. The solicitation is under NAICS 541712 c for Space Vehicles and Guided Missiles, their Propulsion Units, their Propulsion Units Parts, and their Auxiliary Equipment and Parts. More

NASA is currently preparing for upcoming CubeSat Launch Initiative announcements. As part of CubeSat Launch Initiative, NASA will seek for CubeSat payloads that address an aspect of science, exploration, technology development, education, or operations encompassed by NASA's strategic goals and outcomes, which are identified in the NASA Strategic Plan and Education Strategic Coordination Framework. NASA anticipates using its authority to enter into a collaborative Agreement to support the 2011 CubeSat Launch Initiative. Under the Agreement, NASA would provide integration and other services needed to complete the launch activity. For information about last year's initiative please refer to the 2010 announcement seeking participants for its pilot program. For FY2012, NASA is expanding the available CubeSat positions available to proposers. NASA will accept proposals for 1, 2, 3 or 6U satellites. More