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Tag: <span>NASA</span>

NASA Flies Large Unmanned Aircraft in Public Airspace Without Chase Plane

Credits: NASA Photo / Carla Thomas
NASA’s remotely-piloted Ikhana aircraft, based at the agency’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, successfully flew its first mission in the National Airspace System without a safety chase aircraft on Tuesday. This historic flight moves the United States one step closer to normalizing unmanned aircraft operations in the airspace used by commercial and private pilots.

Flying these large remotely-piloted aircraft over the United States opens the doors to all types of services, from monitoring and fighting forest fires, to providing new emergency search and rescue operations. The technology in this aircraft could, at some point, be scaled down for use in other general aviation aircraft.

“This is a huge milestone for our Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration in the National Airspace System project team,” said Ed Waggoner, NASA’s Integrated Aviation Systems Program director. “We worked closely with our Federal Aviation Administration colleagues for several months to ensure we met all their requirements to make this initial flight happen.”

Flights of large craft like Ikhana, have traditionally required a safety chase aircraft to follow the unmanned aircraft as it travels through the same airspace used by commercial aircraft. The Ikhana flew in accordance with the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Technical Standard Order 211 — Detect and Avoid Systems — and Technical Standard Order 212 — Air-to-Air Radar for Traffic Surveillance.

The FAA granted NASA special permission to conduct this flight under the authority of a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization on March 30. The certificate permitted Ikhana’s pilot to rely on the latest Detect and Avoid technology, enabling the remote pilot on the ground to see and avoid other aircraft during the flight.

NASA successfully worked with its industry partners to develop a standard for Detect and Avoid technologies, complied with the requirements of the FAA Technical Standard Orders, and garnered flight approval from the FAA.

The Ikhana aircraft was equipped with detect and avoid technologies, including an airborne radar developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., a Honeywell Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System, a Detect and Avoid Fusion Tracker, and an Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast capability – a surveillance technology where the aircraft determines its position via satellite navigation and periodically broadcasts this information so other aircraft can track it.

The flight took off from Edwards Air Force Base in California and entered controlled air space almost immediately. Ikhana flew into the Class-A airspace, where commercial airliners fly, just west of Edwards at an altitude of about 20,000 feet. The aircraft then turned north toward Fresno, requiring air traffic control to be transferred from the Los Angeles Air Route Traffic Control Center to the Oakland Air Route Traffic Control Center. On the return trip, the pilot headed south toward Victorville, California, requiring communication control to be transferred back to Los Angles.

During the return flight, the pilot began a gentle decent over the city of Tehachapi, California, into Class E airspace — about 10,000 feet — where general aviation pilots fly. The pilot initiated an approach into Victorville airport at 6,000 feet, coordinating in real time with air traffic controllers at the airport. After successfully executing all of these milestones, the aircraft exited the public airspace and returned to its base at Armstrong.

“We are flying with a suite of sophisticated technology that greatly enhances the safety capabilities of pilots flying large unmanned aircraft in the National Airspace System,” said Scott Howe, Armstrong test pilot. “We took the time to mitigate the risks and to ensure that we, as a program, were prepared for this flight.”

Tuesday’s flight was the first remotely-piloted aircraft to use airborne detect and avoid technology to meet the intent of the FAA’s “see and avoid” rules, with all test objectives successfully accomplished.

NASA to Host National Space Council Meeting at Kennedy Space Center

NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida will host a meeting of the National Space Council, chaired by Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday, Feb. 21.

NASA Television and the agency’s website will provide live coverage of the meeting beginning at 10 a.m. EST.

Media are invited to cover the vice president’s arrival on Tuesday, Feb. 20, at Kennedy’s Shuttle Landing Facility and the council meeting on Wednesday.

After his arrival on Tuesday, Vice President Pence will tour Cape Canaveral Air Force Station launch facilities and participate in a commercial spaceflight federal reception. On Wednesday, Vice President Pence will lead the National Space Council meeting inside Kennedy’s Space Station Processing Facility. “Moon, Mars, and Worlds Beyond: Winning the Next Frontier” will include testimonials from leaders in the civil, commercial, and national security sectors about the importance of the United States’ space enterprise. The Vice President will conclude his visit with a tour of Kennedy Space Center.

New Mexico Students to Speak with NASA Astronaut on Space Station

Expedition 54-55 prime Scott Tingle of NASA.

Students from six schools in Alamogordo, New Mexico, will speak with a NASA astronaut living, working and doing research aboard the International Space Station at 11 a.m. EST Wednesday, Feb. 21. The 20-minute, Earth-to-space call will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

Middle and high school students will travel to Alamogordo High School for the call to Expedition 54 astronaut Scott Tingle aboard the space station, posing questions about life aboard the orbital outpost, NASA’s deep space exploration plans, and doing science in space.

Tingle arrived Dec.19 and is scheduled to return to Earth in June.

The New Mexico Museum of Space History (NMMSH) has collaborated with the Alamogordo Public School and the New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired for this event. NMMSH is a state museum chartered to educate the people of New Mexico and visitors in the history, science and technology of space.

Students have been preparing for the event by forming teams to design and build simple apparatuses or experiments involving fluid management, combustion, or crystal growth to compare performance in a 1g vs simulated microgravity environment. Some 1,500 students and teachers are expected to be on-site at Alamogordo High School during the downlink with 4,000 more watching virtually in school auditoriums throughout Alamogordo Public Schools.

NASA TV to Air Return of 3 International Space Station Crew

Expedition 52 Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson of NASA, Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos and Flight Engineer Jack Fischer of NASA float through the Harmony module of the International Space Station. Credits: NASA
Expedition 52 Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson of NASA, Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos and Flight Engineer Jack Fischer of NASA float through the Harmony module of the International Space Station.
Credits: NASA

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson and her Expedition 52 crew are scheduled to return to Earth Saturday, Sept. 2. NASA TV and website will provide complete coverage.

The complete schedule of return (all times EDT):

2:15 p.m. – farewell and hatch closure (hatch closure at 2:40 p.m.)
5:30 p.m. – undocking (undocking at 5:58 p.m.)
8 p.m. – deorbit burn and landing (deorbit burn at 8:29 p.m. and landing at 9:22 p.m.)
11 p.m. – replay of hatch closure, undocking and landing activities

Nasa Begins the ACT-America campaign


WASHINGTON, July 6, 2016— NASA’s airborne experiment to improve scientists’ understanding of the sources of two powerful greenhouse gases and how they cycle into and out of the atmosphere begins now.The Atmospheric Carbon and Transport–America, or ACT-America campaign will measure concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane in relation to weather systems. The study will gather real-time measurements from research aircraft and ground stations.

“Carbon dioxide and methane are the two most important long-lived greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,” said Ken Davis, ACT-America principal investigator from Pennsylvania State University, University Park. “We have a very difficult time inferring important sources and sinks of these gases, including uptake of carbon dioxide by the biosphere, and emission of methane from a variety of human and biological sources. We hope to improve our ability to measure those sources and sinks today, which should enable improvements in the management and simulation of future climate.””

ACT-America employs new gen data analysis systems to convert regional observations of greenhouse gas concentrations and the meteorological conditions. The information will help scientists interpret long-term greenhouse gas observations.

The ACT-America campaign will bridge the gap between satellite and ground observations, look how weather patterns contribute the sources and sinks of greenhouse gases. The campaign team includes researchers and flight crews collecting data in the air, and scientists on the ground synthesizing that information into computer models. The first flights will be based out of NASA’s Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia, and Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Virginia. Subsequent flights this summer will be based in Lincoln, Nebraska, and Shreveport, Louisiana.

ACT-America team members and the two NASA research aircraft will be available to the media at an event at Langley on Friday, July 15, from 9 to 11 a.m. EDT. This summer’s flights are the first of five field campaigns planned during the study. NASA collects data from space, air, land and sea to increase our understanding of our home planet, improve lives and safeguard our future.
For more information about ACT-America, go to: http://act-america.larc.nasa.gov

NASA Conducts Crash Test on Cessna to Assess ELT Performance

NASA has recently conducted a crash test using a Cessna 172 plane at NASA’s Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia.

The test was carried out to evaluate the performance of Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELT) in the aircraft. The aircraft was hauled to 82 feet to assess how the 4 ELTs installed in the plane perform during cabling’s strength and fire tests and beacons’ drop and vibration tests

NASA spokesperson Chad Stimson said “Everything worked. But the team will take some time to sort out why the ELTs performed the way they did.”


HOUSTON — NASA is once again taking human space exploration to the Arizona desert in tests to simulate conditions on other worlds. News media representatives are invited to two opportunities to learn more about the upcoming Desert Research and Technology Studies (Desert RATS) field tests.

On Thursday, Aug. 4, journalists can visit NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston from 2:30 to 4 p.m. CDT for the Desert RATS team’s final dry run before next month’s mission. On Sept. 12, reporters at Black Point Lava Flow in northern Arizona can talk with team members and see mission hardware from 9 to 11:30 a.m. MDT.

To attend either opportunity, reporters must contact Brandi Dean at brandi.k.dean@nasa.gov. The deadline for the Johnson event is 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 3. For the desert media day, reporters must RSVP by Sept. 2.

For the past 14 years, teams of engineers, scientists, astronauts and technicians from across NASA centers and throughout industry and academia have simulated missions to distant destinations to answer questions about future exploration. This year, for the first time, the desolate desert landscape will stand in for an asteroid. Visiting an asteroid presents NASA with challenges the agency is only beginning to tackle. Among them are how to travel between sites of interest on an asteroid’s surface and how to conduct spacewalks in its microgravity.

Desert RATS will investigate these issues and others applicable to future exploration such as crew size and bases; making the best use of astronauts’ time when faced with extensive time delays in communication from Earth; and efficiently controlling robotic technology during surveys and scouting expeditions.

Technologies being tested in the 2011 Desert RATS mission include: — The Deep Space Habitat, which combines NASA’s Habitat Demonstration Unit with a student-built X-Hab inflatable loft. The habitat provides crew living and work space.
— NASA’s Space Exploration Vehicle. Although its wheels would not be needed on the surface of an asteroid, the vehicle cabin could be mounted on a flying platform to provide astronauts transportation between sites of interest.
— Robonaut 2/Centaur 2. Mounted on a wheeled base called Centaur 2, NASA’s Robonaut 2 robotic astronaut assistant becomes R2C2. It can remotely scout areas for potential crew visits or assist astronauts in spacewalks.
— The Deep Space Network. The size and capability of communications and data network links will have far-reaching impact on day-to-day existence of explorers on distant surfaces. Testing various scenarios in the desert will help identify requirements for such systems.
— The Extravehicular Activity Information System. Spacesuits will not be worn during the planned field test activities, but a suite of prototype electronic tools have been developed to help plan for efficient, autonomous work during future spacewalks. The tools are packaged as a small system for test and evaluation on conceptual lightweight backpacks. They will be connected to displays worn on the astronauts’ wrists and incorporate high definition video cameras.

Participants in the 2011 Desert RATS mission include Johnson and NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.; Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif.; Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena,
Calif.; Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.; Kennedy Space Center in Florida; Glenn Research Center in Cleveland ; Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.; NASA Headquarters in Washington; the European Space Agency; the Canadian Space Agency; the U.S. Air Force; the U.S. Army; the U.S. Geological Survey; the Lunar and Planetary Institute; the Planetary Science Institute; University of Texas, El Paso; Hamilton College of Clinton, N.Y.; Brown University; Arizona State University School of Earth and Space Exploration; the University of Massachusetts at Amherst; Colorado State University; the University of Wisconsin, Madison; Berkeley Heights, N.J., Public Schools; and Penn Manor School District of Millersville, Pa.

$400 Million Solicitation

NASA has selected five firms for awards under a $400 million solicitation to perform large general construction projects.

The work will be performed at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Ellington Field, the Sonny Carter Training Facility, all in Houston, and the White Sands Test Facility in New Mexico.

The five selected firms are Swinerton Builders of Arvada, Colo.; J.T. Vaughn Construction, LLC of Houston; Kiewit Building Group of Arlington, Va.; Skanska USA Building of Houston; and Hensel Phelps Construction Co. of Austin, Texas.

Awardees will provide general construction services, including limited design-build capability, modification, repair and demolition for multiple unrelated large projects. The guaranteed minimum amount of work for each firm under the contracts is $5,000. The maximum total amount of all task orders under all contracts awarded under this
solicitation shall not exceed $400 million for the five-year period of performance. There are no options included.


WASHINGTON — NASA Administrator Charles Bolden issued the following
statement Tuesday about the plane crash in Alaska that killed former
U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens and injured former NASA Administrator Sean
O’Keefe and his son, Kevin:

“We at NASA are deeply saddened by today’s news that former U.S. Sen.
Ted Stevens and others were killed in a plane crash in Alaska that
also injured former NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe and his son,
Kevin. As a long-time supporter of NASA, Sen. Stevens made lasting
contributions to our agency and our country. We at NASA mourn his
loss and send our deepest condolences to his family, as well as the
families and friends of all who perished in the accident. We also
send our best wishes for a speedy recovery to Sean, Kevin, and other
survivors of the crash. Our thoughts and prayers are with them and
their families.”


HAMPTON, Va. — NASA has selected Stinger Ghaffarian Technologies of
Greenbelt, Md., to provide the agency’s Langley Research Center in
Hampton, Va., with computing support services for complex information
technology (IT) systems and applications.

The five-year maximum value of the Langley Research Center Information
Technology Enhanced Services (LITES) task order contract is $183

The systems supported include unique and high-end systems used by
mission and mission-support staff at Langley. LITES provides a wide
range of support functions including those for non-standard operating
systems, for system interfaces, or for use within a dynamic
environment such as a research laboratory or test facility.

LITES provides integrated support that encompasses all activities
necessary to develop, deploy, upgrade, operate and maintain a system
that delivers an IT capability for research and development use and
for business systems and applications. The contract provides support
through Langley’s Office of the Chief Information Officer in the
areas of science and engineering applications; project management
applications; business management applications; and center
infrastructure applications and data center support not provided as
part of NASA’s Information Technology Infrastructure Improvement

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