Final Call for NASA’s RASSOR Bucket Drum Challenge

The Regolith Advanced Surface Systems Operations Robot (RASSOR) is in the regolith bin inside Swamp Works at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
A team from the Granular Mechanics and Regolith Operations Lab tests the Regolith Advanced Surface Systems Operations Robot (RASSOR) in the regolith bin inside Swamp Works at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on June 5, 2019. Tests use a gravity assist offload system to simulate reduced gravity conditions found on the Moon. On the surface of the Moon, mining robots like RASSOR will excavate 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. RASSOR can scoop up icy regolith, which can be used to make operations on the Moon sustainable. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

There is still time to submit an entry to NASA’s Regolith Advanced Surface Systems Operations Robot (RASSOR) Bucket Drum Design Challenge. Entries are due by 11:59 p.m. EDT Monday, April 20. A total of $7,000 will be awarded for the top five submissions.

NASA is holding a competition for participants to design an improved bucket drum for RASSOR, a robotic platform designed to dig on the Moon. RASSOR’s current design has counter-rotating bucket drums mounted on moveable arms positioned on either end of the robot. As the bucket drums rotate and start to dig, the forces balance out. This means RASSOR is well suited for excavating in low gravity, because it does not have to rely on its weight or traction to dig.

To enter the competition, go to the GrabCAD website that hosts the challenge and submit an original design with CAD files and a short description of how the design works. The competition is open to eligible individuals.

The challenge is funded by NASA’s Lunar Surface Innovation Initiative within the Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD), which champions technologies needed to live on and explore the Moon supporting NASA’s Artemis program, which will land the first woman and next man on the Moon. NASA Tournament Lab, part of STMD’s Prizes and Challenges program, manages the challenge. The program supports the use of public competitions and crowdsourcing as tools to advance NASA R&D and other mission needs.

Learn more about opportunities to participate in your space program via NASA prizes and challenges: www.nasa.gov/solve

https://grabcad.com/challenges/nasa-regolith-advanced-surface-systems-operations-robot-rassor-bucket-drum-design-challenge

Apollo 11 Anniversary Celebrations Continue at Kennedy

NASA's Apollo 11 mission launched July 16, 1969.
NASA’s Apollo 11 mission, landing the first two humans on the Moon, launched July 16, 1969, from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Kennedy Space Center continues its celebration of Apollo 11’s 50th anniversary with “NASA’s Giant Leaps: Past and Future” – a show honoring the heroes of Apollo and highlighting the agency’s future space exploration plans. Watch live on NASA TV or the agency’s website Friday, July 19, from 1 to 3 p.m.

The three astronauts for the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission. Left to right are Neil A. Armstrong, commander; Michael Collins, command module pilot; and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot.
The three astronauts for the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission. Left to right are Neil A. Armstrong, commander; Michael Collins, command module pilot; and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot. Photo credit: NASA

Hosted from Kennedy’s Apollo/Saturn V Center in Florida, the show will include segments at Washington D.C.; Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas; the U.S. Space and Rocket Center near the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama; Neil Armstrong’s hometown of Wapakoneta, Ohio; and the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington.

Immediately following “NASA’s Giant Leaps: Past and Future,” stay tuned for “STEM Forward to the Moon,” also streaming on NASA TV and the agency’s website. The show, airing from 3 to 3:30 p.m., will feature kids participating in Moon landing simulations and segments of activity demonstrations at the following museums across the nation:

Kennedy Kicks Off 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11

The crewmen of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission leave the Kennedy Space Center's Manned Spacecraft Operations Building (MSOB) during the prelaunch countdown on July 16, 1969.
The crewmen of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission leave the Kennedy Space Center’s Manned Spacecraft Operations Building (MSOB) during the prelaunch countdown. Astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, commander; Michael Collins, command module pilot; and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot, ride the special transport van over to Launch Complex 39A where their spacecraft awaited them. Liftoff was at 9:32 a.m. EDT July 16, 1969. Photo credit: NASA

Today, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida kicks off the celebration of Apollo 11’s 50th anniversary with a visit from former astronaut Michael Collins, command module pilot of the 1969 Apollo 11 mission. Collins will start the day with a visit to the Astronaut Crew Quarters in Kennedy’s Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building.

Following this, he will speak with Kennedy Center Director Bob Cabana at Pad 39A, the location for the Apollo 11 launch on this day fifty years ago that landed the first two men on the Moon. Beginning at 9:15 a.m., tune in to NASA TV or the agency’s website to watch the conversation live.

Follow along the blog for updates on Apollo 11 coverage. Here’s a look at what’s to come:

  • Friday, July 19: Tune in to NASA TV or the agency’s website for live coverage of a special Apollo 11 show, “NASA’s Giant Leaps: Past and Future,” from 1 to 3 p.m. The show will salute the heroes of Apollo and highlight the agency’s future space exploration plans.
  • Friday, July 19: Immediately following “NASA’s Giant Leaps: Past and Future,” stay tuned for “STEM Forward to the Moon,” which will feature kids participating in Moon landing simulations and activity demonstrations at museums across the nation from 3 to 3:30 p.m.

Kennedy Buzzing with Activity During Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Week

Apollo 11 liftoff
Kennedy Space Center will host multiple programs as part of the 50th anniversary celebration of the Apollo 11 mission. Photo credit: NASA

The Apollo 11 mission, which landed the first two humans on the Moon, remains one of mankind’s most impressive achievements. To honor that historic event on its 50th anniversary, several activities are taking place at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, including multiple shows on NASA TV and the agency’s website:

Apollo 11 patchTuesday, July 16:
Astronaut Michael Collins, who served on that historic mission in July 1969, will start the day with a visit to the Astronaut Crew Quarters in Kennedy’s Neil Armstrong Operations & Checkout Building before participating in the day’s televised events.

From 9:15 to 10 a.m. EDT, Collins will speak with Kennedy Director Bob Cabana at Pad 39A, the site of the July 16, 1969, launch. Cabana was the commander of STS-88, the first International Space Station assembly mission, which celebrated its 20th anniversary on Dec. 10, 2018.

Friday, July 19:
Tune in to a pair of special live broadcasts from Kennedy’s Apollo/Saturn V Center. The first, an Apollo 11 show titled “NASA’s Giant Leaps: Past and Future,” is from 1 to 3 p.m. EDT. It will honor the heroes of Apollo, and examine NASA’s future plans, including the Artemis missions that are part of the agency’s Moon and Mars human space exploration. That will be followed by a program titled “STEM Forward to the Moon” from 3 to 3:30 p.m. EDT, featuring kids across the nation participating in Moon landing simulations and other activities.

Remember to tune in to NASA TV and the agency’s website for the special Apollo 11 coverage.

Plant Experiment Veg-03 H Initiated on Space Station

Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques began growing two new crops aboard the International Space Station on Saturday, March 9, 2019.
Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques initiated plant experiment Veg-03 H aboard the International Space Station on Saturday, March 9, 2019. This required Saint-Jacques to add water to “plant pillows,” which are space pots for plants that contain pre-packed seeds, granular media for the roots to grow into, controlled-release fertilizer, and a way for the on-orbit gardeners to water their plants in microgravity. The experiment should take 30 days to complete and will provide data on food safety for the new crops to compare to ground studies in order to establish a baseline.

Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques began growing two new crops aboard the International Space Station on Saturday, March 9, 2019. The two crops, Wasabi Mustard Greens and Extra Dwarf Pak Choi, are part of experiment Veg-03 H. Saint-Jacques placed six “plant pillows” into the veggie growth chamber. This experiment is part of ongoing research on the space station and on Earth to identify fresh vegetables capable of providing astronauts food and nutrition during long-duration spaceflight, including future missions to the Moon or Mars.

Each pillow serves as a pot designed for space with pre-packed seeds, a substance for the roots to grow into, controlled-release fertilizer, and a way for the in-orbit gardeners to water their plants in microgravity.

High school and middle school students participating in the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden’s Growing beyond Earth Challenge identified Extra Dwarf Pak Choi as a potential candidate crop for space through classroom science experiments, along with Dragoon Lettuce, which NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor grew on the station last fall. Using science stations designed to mimic conditions on the space station gave students a chance to grow plants and record data that NASA was able to use. Those experiments culminated in the plant species which launched to the space station aboard the 15th SpaceX cargo resupply mission on June 29, 2018, along with three other plant species.

The experiment should take 30 days to complete and will provide data on food safety for the new crops to compare to ground studies in order to establish a baseline.

“I think the astronauts will be surprised to learn that the Extra Dwarf Pak Choi that they grow and eat has the same amount of Vitamin C by weight as does a fresh Florida orange,” said NASA scientist Matt Romeyn, “and the leaves don’t taste much different than other fresh leafy greens.”