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Glenn Helps Ares I-X Soar

November 17, 2009 Leave a comment
11.16.09

The future of new rocket design was successfully tested when the Ares I-X blasted off on October 28, 2009. The test vehicle launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and travelled for six minutes until it splashed down 150 miles away in the Atlantic Ocean. Ares I-X, at 327 feet tall and 1.8 million pounds, was comprised of components fabricated at several NASA centers. The Upper Stage Simulator (USS), all 430,000 pounds and 110 feet of it, was developed, designed and constructed at NASA’s Glenn Research Center.

view of ARES I -X launch from distance

The Ares I-X Flight Test blasts off from the launch pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Image Credit: Thilo Kranz, Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft-und Raumhahrt (German Space Agency)
Vince Bilardo, Ares I-X Upper Stage Simulator Project Manager at Glenn, lead the project from its beginning four years ago through the extraordinary apex of the launch. He shares his thoughts on Ares I-X and Glenn’s essential role in its success.

How did the launch go?
Vince Bilardo: The launch was nearly flawless! Once we got past the weather issues, the countdown and flight went just as planned. The vehicle flew the exact trajectory that was planned. All the data was successfully telemetered to the ground during the flight, the cameras all worked great and provided spectacular images of the flight. We proved conclusively that we can successfully control a tall, slender rocket by small movements in a single rocket nozzle.

How did the Glenn component, the USS, perform?
VB: The Glenn-built Upper Stage Simulator (USS) performed flawlessly, as best as we can determine so far. And that was not just during launch but in all phases of the ground assembly and launch processing prior to the flight. Contrary to speculation, the USS motion after First Stage separation was predicted in several of the “dispersion cases” or simulations that we ran prior to flight. And the entire stage held together after separation all the way down to the water, contrary to some analyses which predicted that it might break apart due to high loads during the tumble down to the sea. It all adds up to a strong endorsement of the robust design and manufacturing concept that our in house team implemented.

ARES I-X at night

>Ares I-X, including the Upper Stage Simulator (USS) built at NASA’s Glenn Research Center, is illuminated the night before launch. Image Credit: Thilo Kranz, Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft-und Raumhahrt (German Space Agency)
What was the experience of being at the launch like?
VB: I was part of the Launch Support Team, which was located in one of the backup launch control rooms called Hangar AE, on the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station side. All of the Integrated Product Team personnel that designed and developed the Ares I-X hardware and software were located in Hangar AE. We had to be “on station” at our consoles by 4:00 am for the countdown each of the two launch attempts on October 27 and 28. Then, we had to work some contingency loads analyses to take into account the winds on the actual day of launch and their potential affect on the vehicle structure. So it was a very busy time leading up to the final countdown coming out of the planned hold at the T-4 minute point.

As we got close to this point, the weather uncertainty took over, and it made for an emotional roller coaster as we thought we had a go, then the weather window would close, then open again another 30 minutes later, and so on. Once we got the count restarted, the final four minutes were very quiet in the room, then once we got to T-0 and saw the vehicle lift off there was elation and cheering, followed by more quiet as we watched closely to for each event during the overall six minute mission. As each of those milestones were hit, there was more cheering, followed by a big round of applause once we saw the FS parachutes open up.

What was it like being a key participant in the Ares I-X launch? What did you and your Glenn team learn from being a part of the project?
VB: It was a thrilling experience, and without a doubt the highlight of my career to date. I believe this is true for all of our USS team members at GRC and across the agency, for this truly was a once-in-a-career historic mission: the first flight of a new rocket vehicle in over a generation, since the Space Shuttle was developed in the 1970s.

We have learned a tremendous amount being part of this endeavor, starting with the hands-on, in house engineering, design, analysis, manufacturing, handling, and transportation we performed with civil servants and in-house contractor team members. We developed rigorous flight hardware processes and procedures, and we put in place improved manufacturing tools and techniques. We also gained the experience of processing the flight hardware for launch in the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center.

We have truly built our capacity to be a space flight development center during the execution of Ares I-X.

NASA EDGE Nominated for Best Video Podcast

November 17, 2009 Leave a comment
11.16.09

NASA EDGE Nominated for ‘Best Video Podcast’ in the 5th Annual Podcast Awards!

›› Vote Now for NASA EDGE!

NASA EDGE

Vote now for NASA EDGE, Best Video Podcast at www.podcastawards.com!

NASA EDGE continues their unprecedented, unscripted journey through the world of video podcasting with their very first award nomination. This is no small accomplishment considering that only two and half years ago, they weren’t sure that they would find an audience.

Well, they have. Almost three years and 3.2 million downloads later, NASA EDGE is now recognized in the company of such internet greats and fellow nominees as “Buzz out Loud,” “Diggnation” and “Filmriot” just to name a few.

In fact, the 5th Annual Podcast Awards, managed by Podcast Connect Inc., mentioned on their Web site that this year’s competition received more than 321,000 nominations for over 3,500 different shows.

Be sure to vote for NASA EDGE

You can vote once a day from November 13 to November 30, 2009 by visiting www.podcastawards.com. NASA EDGE is listed in the “Best Video Podcast” category with nine other video podcasts.

If you’re already a fan of NASA EDGE, please vote for them. If you haven’t seen or heard of NASA EDGE, visit their home page at www.nasa.gov/nasaedge and download any or all of their 46 video podcasts. You will not be disappointed.

NASA EDGE Co-Host and outsider Blair Allen

NASA EDGE Co-host, Blair Allen

What is NASA EDGE?

NASA EDGE is different. Unscripted and unpredictable, NASA EDGE takes a unique look in and around the greatest space program on the planet. They have hosted the Great Moonbuggy Race, examined NASA spinoff technology at the X Games, followed the Desert-RATS with an unconventional set of duct tape boots, coined the term Magnetospherence and even made an appearance on ESPN’s nationally syndicated “Mike & Mike in the Morning” show.

Check out their latest Vodcast, which added a new wrinkle. In October they covered NASA’s historic Ares I-X Flight Demonstration live on the Web. That show featured the entire broadcast team and an attempt at defining and redefining ‘triboelectrification.’

Of course, NASA EDGE isn’t just a video podcast. If you have questions, comments or thoughts about NASA or NASA EDGE, you can friend them on facebook and ask questions, chat or check out some exclusive facebook videos.

Or if you just want to keep up with their latest shows or activities you can follow them on twitter (@NASA_EDGE).

If all goes well, you’ll hear from them the second they win their very first award!

Smiles and Memories: A Final ‘Goodbye’ to the Langley Full-Scale Tunnel

November 16, 2009 Leave a comment

It was a grand finale of sorts, a celebration that revisited the 78-year history of the Full-Scale Tunnel at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.

The Langley Full-Scale Tunnel in Oct. 1930

Click to enlarge

The Langley Full-Scale Tunnel’s huge exterior from the Little Back River in October 1930.

 

Credit: NASA

Engineers mingled with mayors. Alumni mingled with a new generation of NASA. Recollections mingled with respect.

“Many times it is referred to as ‘the’ Langley Wind Tunnel,” said Joe Chambers, author and former tunnel branch head, who spoke to a standing room-only crowd at Langley’s Reid Conference Center. In fact, it was only one of dozens of wind tunnels at NASA Langley.

A slideshow of the tunnel’s history shown through photographs and quotes included music from the decades of the tunnel’s operation. It set the ambiance for the ceremony that marked the official “goodbye.” Demolition of the 30-by-60-foot tunnel is expected to begin early next year.

“We did 796 tests in this facility,” said Chambers.

Chambers explained that the vision for a tunnel that would be 60 feet (18.3 m) across, 30 feet (9.1 m) high and with capabilities of speed surpassing 100 miles per hour (161 kph) started as a model in 1929. That model was under construction by 1930 and dedicated in 1931. It was built for $980,000.

As ideas arose, the tunnel evolved. In 1939, wooden blades replaced the original metal ones. “Those blades are the same blades that are in the tunnel today,” Chambers said. Applause erupted.

Clyde McLemore (R) offered his experiences as Dan Murri (L) guided guests

Click to enlarge

After a celebratory reception, some of the employees and alumni who worked in the Langley Full-Scale Tunnel gathered in front of the Reid Conference Center.

 

Credit: NASA/Sean Smith

During the years of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, the tunnel attracted pioneers and luminaries like Orville Wright, Charles Lindbergh, Glenn Curtiss and Howard Hughes.

“When NASA was formed, the facility changed and began to develop space ideas,” Chambers said. Modern times called for modern upgrades. Chambers noted the addition of a flight control computer.

And according to Chambers, the wind tunnel was producing more than just critical test results for improved flight — it produced four NASA Center Directors. “There is no other wind tunnel or organization that provided four center directors to the agency,” he said.

It also produced memories.

Gorden Helsel, mayor of Poquoson, Va., stared forward at the slideshow. “It’s a landmark to this area,” he said. “To a lot of folks out here, it’s like losing an old friend.”

He glanced over at the F-22 model. “I flew in one of those,” Helsel said. “I spent 45 minutes in the air and was glad to get back on the ground.” It was an experience made possible through testing at the full-scale tunnel.

Long Yip worked in the tunnel from 1977 to 1990. “I remember opening a textbook on aeronautics and the first thing I saw was the Full Scale Tunnel. I never imagined I would work there,” he said.

Bob Huston began working at the tunnel in 1958. He recalled a time when one of his tests was interrupted by testing for Neil Armstrong and the lunar lander. “The test I was working on was delayed for six months,” he said. In hindsight, Huston didn’t mind so much.

A group of employees who worked in the Full-Scale Tunnel

Click to enlarge

Clyde McLemore (R) offered his personal experiences as Dan Murri (L) guided guest throughout different areas of the Langley Full-Scale Tunnel. “If I get anything wrong, you all can let me know,” Murri respectfully said to the alumni that were present on the tour.

 

Credit: NASA/Sean Smith

Following the reception, many guests chose to revisit the tunnel located on the Langley Air Force Base side of NASA Langley. When attending alumni spoke up during a tour, the crowd circled and listened.

Clyde McLemore who worked there from 1947 to 1980, described a time when workers used slide rules, calculators and computers.

“When you say ‘computers’ — you are talking about a person?” asked Dan Murri as he led guests throughout the tunnel.

“Yes, it was a girl we called a computer,” McLemore responded with a smile.

The group continued on through the curvy turbulence vanes and across a walkway. It was the same walkway that Cameron Diaz walked on for a scene in the movie, “The Box,” which is set to be released nationwide on Nov. 6.

At the next halt, McLemore looked up at a wooden propeller that stood about three stories tall. “The nose cone and tail cone were mine,” he said.

“You designed those?” Murri asked.

“Yes,” McLemore responded.

For many on the tour, the tunnel was being seen through the eyes of the alumni. And for the alumni, the tunnel was being seen through their younger selves.

//

Alumni and guests tour the Langley Full-Scale Tunnel.

Huston smiled at the tunnel’s interior. He pointed to specific areas and recalled a funny story or a test that took place there. “Even when we worked extra hours during the war, it didn’t matter much. It was still a fun place to work,” he said.

The facility survived nearly eight decades. Its memory and history will survive much longer and so will its results. Tests conducted there include all of the World War II aircrafts, the P-51 aircraft, the Mercury entry capsule, submarines and NASCAR vehicles, to name a few.

The Langley Full-Scale Tunnel is being preserved virtually at:

http://gis.larc.nasa.gov/documents/643/historic/WebApp.html

2012: Beginning of the End or Why the World Won’t End?

November 9, 2009 Leave a comment

Scenes from the upcoming film 2012. Courtesy Columbia Pictures.

Scenes from the motion picture “2012.” Courtesy Columbia Pictures. Remember the Y2K scare? It came and went without much of a whimper because of adequate planning and analysis of the situation. Impressive movie special effects aside, Dec. 21, 2012, won’t be the end of the world as we know. It will, however, be another winter solstice.

Much like Y2K, 2012 has been analyzed and the science of the end of the Earth thoroughly studied. Contrary to some of the common beliefs out there, the science behind the end of the world quickly unravels when pinned down to the 2012 timeline. Below, NASA Scientists answer several questions that we’re frequently asked regarding 2012.

Question (Q): Are there any threats to the Earth in 2012? Many Internet websites say the world will end in December 2012.
Answer (A): Nothing bad will happen to the Earth in 2012. Our planet has been getting along just fine for more than 4 billion years, and credible scientists worldwide know of no threat associated with 2012.

Q: What is the origin of the prediction that the world will end in 2012?
A: The story started with claims that Nibiru, a supposed planet discovered by the Sumerians, is headed toward Earth. This catastrophe was initially predicted for May 2003, but when nothing happened the doomsday date was moved forward to December 2012. Then these two fables were linked to the end of one of the cycles in the ancient Mayan calendar at the winter solstice in 2012 — hence the predicted doomsday date of December 21, 2012.

Q: Does the Mayan calendar end in December 2012?
A: Just as the calendar you have on your kitchen wall does not cease to exist after December 31, the Mayan calendar does not cease to exist on December 21, 2012. This date is the end of the Mayan long-count period but then — just as your calendar begins again on January 1 — another long-count period begins for the Mayan calendar.

Q: Could a phenomena occur where planets align in a way that impacts Earth?
A: There are no planetary alignments in the next few decades, Earth will not cross the galactic plane in 2012, and even if these alignments were to occur, their effects on the Earth would be negligible. Each December the Earth and sun align with the approximate center of the Milky Way Galaxy but that is an annual event of no consequence.

“There apparently is a great deal of interest in celestial bodies, and their locations and trajectories at the end of the calendar year 2012. Now, I for one love a good book or movie as much as the next guy. But the stuff flying around through cyberspace, TV and the movies is not based on science. There is even a fake NASA news release out there…”
– Don Yeomans, NASA senior research scientist
Q: Is there a planet or brown dwarf called Nibiru or Planet X or Eris that is approaching the Earth and threatening our planet with widespread destruction?
A: Nibiru and other stories about wayward planets are an Internet hoax. There is no factual basis for these claims. If Nibiru or Planet X were real and headed for an encounter with the Earth in 2012, astronomers would have been tracking it for at least the past decade, and it would be visible by now to the naked eye. Obviously, it does not exist. Eris is real, but it is a dwarf planet similar to Pluto that will remain in the outer solar system; the closest it can come to Earth is about 4 billion miles.

Q: What is the polar shift theory? Is it true that the earth’s crust does a 180-degree rotation around the core in a matter of days if not hours?
A: A reversal in the rotation of Earth is impossible. There are slow movements of the continents (for example Antarctica was near the equator hundreds of millions of years ago), but that is irrelevant to claims of reversal of the rotational poles. However, many of the disaster websites pull a bait-and-shift to fool people. They claim a relationship between the rotation and the magnetic polarity of Earth, which does change irregularly, with a magnetic reversal taking place every 400,000 years on average. As far as we know, such a magnetic reversal doesn’t cause any harm to life on Earth. A magnetic reversal is very unlikely to happen in the next few millennia, anyway.

The Blue Marble: Next GenerationEarth, as seen in the Blue Marble: Next Generation collection of images, showing the color of the planet’s surface in high resolution. This image shows South America from September 2004. Q: Is the Earth in danger of being hit by a meteor in 2012?
A: The Earth has always been subject to impacts by comets and asteroids, although big hits are very rare. The last big impact was 65 million years ago, and that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs. Today NASA astronomers are carrying out a survey called the Spaceguard Survey to find any large near-Earth asteroids long before they hit. We have already determined that there are no threatening asteroids as large as the one that killed the dinosaurs. All this work is done openly with the discoveries posted every day on the NASA NEO Program Office website, so you can see for yourself that nothing is predicted to hit in 2012.

Q: How do NASA scientists feel about claims of pending doomsday?
A: For any claims of disaster or dramatic changes in 2012, where is the science? Where is the evidence? There is none, and for all the fictional assertions, whether they are made in books, movies, documentaries or over the Internet, we cannot change that simple fact. There is no credible evidence for any of the assertions made in support of unusual events taking place in December 2012.

A Splendid Day for Flying Glaciers

November 9, 2009 Leave a comment

From: Kathryn Hansen, Science Writer, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

pen3vel

A last-minute change in flight plans made for another great science flight on Nov. 4. Initial plans were to make a high-altitude flight, according to program director Jim Yungel of NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility.  But a forecaster in the Punta Arenas airport weather office advised crew of the potential for weather to interfere with the high-altitude measurements for the mission’s LVIS instrument.

With a new flight plan in place, NASA’s DC-8 took off just a few minutes after the scheduled 11 a.m. departure time. The new plan called for low-altitude flights over the Antarctic Peninsula.

“The forecaster was completely correct,” Yungel wrote to colleagues after the flight. “We flew into sunny conditions with occasional very light high cirrus over flight lines, resulting in an outstanding data set over the Larsen Ice Shelf and many impressive glaciers.”

Instruments that collect data at lower altitudes, including the Airborne Topographic Mapper, had a successful 11.3-hour flight.

“Much of this flight surveyed a grid over the Larsen C Ice Shelf,” Yungel wrote. “Later in the flight we surveyed several significant glaciers in the central Peninsula area, including the Atlee, Flask, Crane, Hektoria, and Drygalski glaciers. It was a splendid day for flying glaciers!”

DSC03014

Despite the busy flight, Yungel managed to capture these images of the landscape from the aircraft window …

HANSEN

Frost-Covered Phoenix Lander Seen in Winter Images

November 9, 2009 Leave a comment

Phoenix in winter

As the sun began to reappear on the horizon following the deepest, darkest days of north polar winter on Mars, the HiRISE camera imaged the Phoenix landing site on July 30, 2009, (left image) and in Aug. 22, 2009 (right). Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona
› Full image and caption

PASADENA, Calif. — Winter images of NASA’s Phoenix Lander showing the lander shrouded in dry-ice frost on Mars have been captured with the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, or HiRISE camera, aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

The HiRISE camera team at the University of Arizona, Tucson, captured one image of the Phoenix lander on July 30, 2009, and the other on Aug. 22, 2009. That’s when the sun began peeking over the horizon of the northern polar plains during winter, the imaging team said. The first day of spring in the northern hemisphere began Oct. 26.

The images are available at http://hirise.lpl.arizona.edu/ESP_014393_2485.

“We decided to try imaging the site despite the low light levels,” said HiRISE team member Ingrid Spitale of the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory.

“The power of the HiRISE camera helped us see it even under these poor light conditions,” added HiRISE team member Michael Mellon of the University of Colorado in Boulder, who was also on the Phoenix Mars Lander science team.

The HiRISE team targeted their camera at the known location of the lander to get the new images and compared them to a HiRISE image of the frost-free lander taken in June 2008. That enabled them to identify the hardware disguised by frost, despite the fact that their views were hindered by poor lighting and by atmospheric haze, which often obscures the surface at this location and season.

Carbon dioxide frost completely blankets the surface in both images. The amount of carbon dioxide frost builds as late winter transitions to early spring, so the layer of frost is thicker in the Aug. 22 image.

HiRISE scientists noted that brightness doesn’t necessarily indicate the amount of frost seen in the images because of the way the images are processed to produce optimal contrast. Even the darker areas in the frost-covered images are still brighter than typical soil that surrounds the lander in frost-free images taken during the lander’s prime mission in 2008.

Other factors that affect the relative brightness include the size of the individual grains of carbon dioxide ice, the amount of dust mixed with the ice, the amount of sunlight hitting the surface and different lighting angles and slopes, Spitale and Mellon said.

Studying these changes will help us understand the nature of the seasonal frost and winter weather patterns in this area of Mars.

Scientists predicted that the ice layer would reach maximum thickness in September 2009, but don’t have images to confirm that because HiRISE camera operations were suspended when Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter entered an extended safe mode on Aug. 26.

The Phoenix Mars Lander ceased communications last November, after successfully completing its mission and returning unprecedented primary science phase and returning science data to Earth. During the first quarter of 2010, teams at JPL will listen to see if Phoenix is still able to communicate with Earth. Communication is not expected and is considered highly unlikely following the extended period of frost on the lander.

HiRISE is run from the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory’s HiRISE Operations Center, on the University of Arizona campus. Planetary Sciences Professor Alfred McEwen is HiRISE principal investigator. Planetary Sciences Professor Peter Smith is principal investigator for the Phoenix Mars Lander mission. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, for NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, based in Denver, is the prime contractor and built the spacecraft. Ball Aerospace Technologies Corp., of Boulder, Colo., built the HiRISE camera.

For more information about the mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/mro.

NASA Blog: Constellation: Managers reevaluating Ares I-Y flight test

November 5, 2009 Leave a comment

ares

Constellation program managers agreed to reevaluate the proposed Ares I-Y flight test during an Oct. 30 Control Board and plan to take the decision up the ladder to management at NASA Headquarters soon. The decision could result in the removal of the Ares I-Y flight from the manifest in order to better align test flights with evolving program objectives.

As part of the program’s ongoing review of its ground and flight test strategy, managers evaluated the flight test plan and decided that the Ares I-Y flight fell too late in the vehicle development phase to provide useful information and lacks key elements to make it a true validation of the flight vehicle’s systems.

Originally, the I-Y test was defined as an incremental “placeholder” and planned for 2012. It was to be a suborbital flight to test a five-segment booster, a flight production upper stage — without a J-2X engine — a functional command module and launch abort system and a simulated encapsulated service module.

By fall 2008, program managers were already looking at changing direction for the Ares I-Y test to improve the overall program’s chances of flying a full test vehicle by 2014. Now, with the Constellation Program nearing its preliminary design review and with maturing vehicles and systems, managers agree the I-Y test objectives can be achieved through other tests already in the manifest.

For example, the ascent abort test for Orion’s Launch Abort System can be incorporated into abort tests planned at White Sands Missile Range in 2012 and 2013 and on the first Orion flight in 2014. The ascent test will document the performance of the LAS in the event control of the launch vehicle is lost after first stage separation.

Removing the Ares I-Y flight test eliminates a unique vehicle configuration that must be designed and managed separately from the objective designs of Ares and Orion. It allows the team to focus on achieving a first launch of a thoroughly verified system and represents a tightening of the program as a function of its maturation that will ultimately save money needed for other tests.

“It simply does not fit where we are headed,” said Jeff Hanley, Constellation Program manager and chairman of the Control Board. “The test vehicle was intended to meet evolving needs but the current configuration is too different from what the program requires to certify the Ares/Orion vehicle systems.”

The current Constellation manifest shows the Ares I-Y flight test scheduled in March 2014, just a year out from the proposed first crewed flight Orion 2, planned in 2015.

Managers are also considering other options including a flight test that would fly in 2012 or 2013 that would have revised flight test objectives to better support vehicle development.

Source : spaceref.com