Students from Utah State University presented Eden, a plant chamber that could be operated autonomously during long-term spaceflight missions, while visiting Kennedy Space Center Nov. 7. This project is part of NASA’s eXploration Systems and Habitation (X-Hab) Academic Innovation Challenge series, and also serves as a pathfinder for the type of technology needed for future long duration missions beyond low-Earth orbit.
“The Utah State University X-HAB team did a fantastic job developing an innovative project,” commented Dr. Gioia Massa, a scientist who works on food production in space. “Their Eden X-HAB project demonstrated a very novel approach to sustaining plant growth in microgravity, with a 3-D printed substrate that could be a revolutionary way to provide water and nutrients to plants.”
Eden would make use of the 3-D printed substrate to deliver water, oxygen, and nutrients to plant roots in microgravity conditions. Students built an Eden prototype and grew plants in a 30-day test. This type of plant growth system would improve the autonomy of current plant growth systems in use aboard the International Space Station to make them more practical for limited crew time missions.
When Orion returns from deep space missions and lands in the ocean, a team will be responsible for safely returning the capsule and crew back to land.
NASA’s Ground Systems Development and Operations Program and U.S. Navy personnel are preparing to conduct a water recovery test, called Underway Recovery Test 5 (URT-5), this week, using a test version of the Orion spacecraft in the Pacific Ocean.
During URT-5, the team will demonstrate and evaluate in open water the recovery processes, procedures, hardware and personnel that are necessary for recovery of the Orion crew module into the well deck of a Navy ship.
The USS San Diego, a test version of Orion, several support boats, and associated hardware and equipment will be used for the test.
Orion is the exploration spacecraft designed to carry astronauts to destinations not yet explored by humans, including an asteroid and the agency’s Journey to Mars. It will have emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during space travel and provide safe re-entry from deep space return velocities.
NASA’s Orion spacecraft is scheduled to launch atop the Space Launch System rocket in late 2018.
Testing of the Orion Service Module Umbilical (OSMU) is complete at the Launch Equipment Test Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. A series of tests, called regressions tests, were performed on the umbilical’s design modifications to validate it for installation on the mobile launcher. The tests were conducted by Kennedy’s Engineering Directorate for the Ground Systems Development and Operations Program.
During the tests, the OSMU was connected to the facility’s Vehicle Motion Simulator 1 and the umbilical’s release mechanism that will connect to the service module was tested to confirm it is functioning properly.
The OSMU will connect from the mobile launcher tower to the Orion service module at about the 280-foot level of the mobile launcher tower. Prior to launch, the umbilical will transfer liquid coolant for the electronics and air for the environmental control system to the Orion service module that houses these critical systems to support the spacecraft. The OSMU also will provide purge air and gaseous nitrogen for environmental control to the Launch Abort System located atop the spacecraft. The OSMU will release and tilt back, away from the service module, before launch.
NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) will launch with the Orion spacecraft atop for its first flight in 2018. The SLS is the rocket that will carry Orion to deep space destinations, including the agency’s Journey to Mars.
A heavy-lift crane lowers the first half of the C-level work platforms, C south, for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, for installation on the south side of High Bay 3 in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The C platforms are the eighth of 10 levels of work platforms that will surround and provide access to the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft for Exploration Mission 1. In view below Platform C are several of the previously installed platforms. The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program is overseeing upgrades and modifications to VAB High Bay 3, including installation of the new work platforms, to prepare for NASA’s Journey to Mars.
An integrated test of the MARCO POLO/Mars Pathfinder in-situ resource utilization, or ISRU, system recently took place at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Demonstrations such as this one help scientists learn how to extract critical resources on site – even as far away as the Red Planet.
A mockup of MARCO POLO, an ISRU propellant production technology demonstration simulated mission, was tested in a regolith bin with RASSOR 2.0, the Regolith Advanced Surface Systems Operations Robot. RASSOR excavated regolith and delivered sand and gravel to a hopper and mock oven.
On the surface of Mars, mining robots like RASSOR will dig down into the regolith and take the material to a processing plant where usable elements such as hydrogen, oxygen and water can be extracted for life support systems. Regolith also shows promise for both construction and creating elements for rocket fuel.
A group of U.S. Navy divers, Air Force pararescuemen and Coast Guard rescue swimmers are practicing Orion underway recovery techniques this week in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL) at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston to prepare for the first test flight of an uncrewed Orion spacecraft with the agency’s Space Launch System rocket during Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1).
Training in the NBL began Sept. 20 and will wrap up by Sept. 22.
A test version of the Orion spacecraft was lowered into the water in the NBL. Divers wearing scuba gear used ground support equipment and zodiac boats to swim or steer to the test spacecraft. They placed a flotation collar around Orion and practiced using the new tow cleat modifications that will allow the tether lines to be connected to the capsule. The tether lines are being used to simulate towing Orion into the well deck of a Navy recovery ship.
Training at the NBL will help the team prepare for Underway Recovery Test 5 (URT-5), which will be the first major integrated test in a series of tests to prepare the recovery team, hardware and operations to support EM-1 recovery.
The recovery team, engineers with NASA’s Ground Systems Development and Operations program and Orion manufacturer Lockheed Martin, are preparing for URT-5, which will take place in San Diego and aboard the USS San Diego in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California in October.
During EM-1, Orion will travel about 40,000 miles beyond the moon and return to Earth after a three-week mission to test the spacecraft’s systems and heat shield. Orion will travel through the radiation of the Van Allen Belts, descend through Earth’s atmosphere and splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.
Kennedy Space Center’s Exploration Research and Technology Programs is collaborating with the University of Central Florida in Orlando on the Dynamic Paschen project, designed to evaluate how Paschen’s Law is affected if fluid is moving. Paschen’s Law describes the voltage necessary to create an arc through various gasses. The Dynamic Paschen project could play a role in the design of future planetary missions.
NASA researchers Dr. Michael Hogue and Rachel Cox are working with UCF graduate student Jaysen Mulligan on Dynamic Paschen. Initial data collection began last week, and the team now is collecting full data sets for the project. The team is varying both the speed of the air (ranging from Mach 3 to 4) and the gap distance between the electrodes (from 0.5 to 2.0 cm).
Experimental data from the Dynamic Paschen project will be used to validate theoretical models of changes to Paschen’s Law that take into account the flow of gas past charged surfaces. The team’s findings could provide insights into how breakdown voltage is affected by fast-moving air, and could help scientists better understand how static electricity in the air behaves when an aerospace vehicle moves through planetary atmospheres.
A heavy-lift crane lowers the second half of the D-level work platforms, D north, for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, into position Sept. 9 for installation in High Bay 3 in the Vehicle Assembly Building at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The platform will be installed on the north side of the high bay. The D platforms are the seventh of 10 levels of work platforms that will surround and provide access to the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft for Exploration Mission 1. The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program is overseeing upgrades and modifications to VAB High Bay 3, including installation of the new work platforms, to prepare for NASA’s journey to Mars.
A section of the second half of the C-level platforms, C North, for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, arrived at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Aug. 30. The platform was offloaded from a heavy lift transport truck and secured in a staging area in the west parking lot of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB).
The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program is overseeing upgrades and modifications to VAB High Bay 3 to support processing of the SLS and Orion spacecraft. A total of 10 levels of new platforms, 20 platform halves altogether, will surround the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft and provide access for testing and processing.
The first half of the E-level work platforms, E South, was installed Aug. 26 in High Bay 3 inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The platform was lifted up by crane from the floor of the transfer aisle and lowered into the high bay for installation about 246 feet above the floor on the south wall of the high bay.
The E platforms are the sixth of 10 levels of platforms that will surround NASA’s Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft and provide access for testing and processing for the uncrewed Exploration Mission 1 flight test and deep-space missions, including the journey to Mars.
The E platforms will provide access to the SLS core stage forward skirt umbilical for mating operations. The platforms will provide entry into the core stage forward skirt for alignment measurements of the SLS critical navigation components.
The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program is overseeing upgrades and modifications to the VAB, including installation of the new work platforms.