BEAM Fully Expanded and Pressurized

The space station now hosts the new fully expanded and pressurized Bigelow Expandable Activity Module attached to the Tranquility module. Credit: NASA
The space station now hosts the new fully expanded and pressurized Bigelow Expandable Activity Module attached to the Tranquility module. Click image for larger version. Credit: NASA

BEAM was pressurized May 28 on the International Space Station, where it will remain attached for a two-year test period.

The module measured just over 7 feet long and just under 7.75 feet in diameter in its packed configuration. BEAM now measures more than 13 feet long and about 10.5 feet in diameter to create 565 cubic feet of habitable volume. It weighs approximately 3,000 pounds.

Leak checks are being performed on BEAM to ensure its structural integrity. Hatch opening and NASA astronaut Jeff Williams’ first entrance into BEAM will take place about a week after leak checks are complete.

BEAM is an example of NASA’s increased commitment to partnering with industry to enable the growth of the commercial use of space. The project is co-sponsored by NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems Division and Bigelow Aerospace.

Expandable habitats are designed to take up less room on launch but provide greater volume for living and working in space once expanded. This first test of an expandable module will allow investigators to gauge how well the habitat performs and specifically, how well it protects against solar radiation, space debris and the temperature extremes of space.

For more information about BEAM, visit: www.nasa.gov/beam.

Petition: USA Must Lead the Transition to Space-Based Energy

Your signature on this petition will have a very real and positive impact on the United States of America and on all future generations of humankind worldwide.

Sign this petition and send the following urgent message to the United States Congress, to the President of the United States, and to future congresses and administrations:

Pass and support legislation to ensure national energy security and to protect the worldwide environment by establishing congressionally chartered public-private corporations for space-based energy, space mining, and spacefaring logistics. These corporations shall provide the United States, its allies, and trading partners with sustainable and carbon emission free space-based energy.

The United States of America faces a looming national energy security threat due to its dependence on a finite supply of fossil fuels.

Humankind worldwide faces an environmental security threat due to its dependence on fossil fuels that release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere when burned.

Sustainable, carbon emission free energy from space-based solar power (SBSP) is the solution. Simply put–and challenging to accomplish–SBSP consists of orbiting solar power satellites continuously harvesting the sun’s intense energy in space. The energy is beamed wirelessly to rectifying antennas on the Earth, and then transmitted to existing electrical power grids. Unlike terrestrial renewable energy sources, space-based solar power is nearly infinitely scalable. It is also continuous, so it can supply the planet’s baseload energy requirements.

For more information see the NSS Space Solar Power Library (nss.org/ssp).

Smithsonian Science Education Center and National Space Society Team Up for Next-Generation Space Education Program “Enterprise In Space”

Enterprise In Space (EIS), an international program of the National Space Society (NSS), is excited to announce the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Smithsonian Science Education Center (SSEC), the only unit at the Smithsonian Institution that is solely dedicated to formal K-12 science education reform.

As a part of its mission to send a 3D printed spacecraft into low Earth orbit with more than 100 student experiments aboard, EIS has established a robust online educational platform, the EIS Academy, which includes several Enterprise Centers for Excellence, dedicated to hosting knowledge from experts in space science. The SSEC is dedicated to the establishment of effective science programs and professional learning experiences for all teachers and students. Together, the SSEC and EIS will support one another in developing educator and student experiences in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) that enhance awareness in the exploration and development of space and extend the reach of SSEC and EIS programs.

EIS and SSEC plan to collaborate on two projects dedicated to space education. The first is a mission patch design challenge in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education to present at Space Day at the National Air and Space Museum, tentatively set to occur this summer. The second is the development of a space science summer course for the Smithsonian Science Education Academies for Teachers (SSEATs) that will enrich and enhance space education in the participating educators’ classrooms.

To provide teachers with powerful classroom tools and lessons, EIS, in conjunction with SSEC, will be creating a space science curriculum for leaders and learners that will be taught as a week-long SSEAT course. The course will use resources from the Smithsonian and its affiliates in the Washington, D.C. area, including access to museums, scientists, historians, and researchers at those facilities. Class lessons created by participating teachers will be shared further by being uploaded to the EIS Academy. The program will also include an online course preceding the summer Space Science Academy and post-academy activities for follow-up networking and teacher collaborations.

“The decision to collaborate with the Smithsonian Science Education Center was a natural one,” says Lynne Zielinski, EIS Education Program Manager and NSS Vice President of Public Affairs. “The Smithsonian has a prestigious reputation for its educational initiatives and will provide the ideal network and support necessary for bringing the EIS program to the public.”

“Space science topics are a timely and exciting subject area that motivates student learning,” said Carol O’Donnell, SSEC Director. “The EIS Academy offers a pathway for our SSEATs teachers to build long-lasting professional learning communities that will provide them with confidence and reinvigorate their enthusiasm while embracing cutting edge applications and best teaching practices.”

Both organizations wish to establish a sustainable relationship for space science education, launching their collaboration on a trajectory where the Sky is NOT the Limit!

Enterprise In Space Mission Profile

For more information about Enterprise in Space, see www.enterpriseinspace.org.

Program Manager Pete Worden to Present Interstellar Mission at International Space Development Conference

Pete Worden, former director of NASA Ames Research Center, will present “Starshot, Mission to Alpha Centauri,” at the Thursday (May 19) luncheon during the National Space Society’s International Space Development Conference®. NSS Governor Janet Ivey will emcee the luncheon which also features the presentation of the Heinlein award to Dr. Jerry Pournelle. Rich Pournelle of Nanoracks will receive the award for his father. The conference is open to the public and is set for May 18-22, 2016 at the Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel and Casino in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Breakthrough Starshot is a $100 million research and engineering program aiming to demonstrate proof of concept for light-propelled nanocrafts. These could fly at 20 percent of light speed and capture images of possible planets and other scientific data in our nearest star system, Alpha Centauri, just over 20 years after their launch.

The program will be led by Pete Worden, the former director of NASA AMES Research Center, and advised by a committee of world-class scientists and engineers. The board will consist of Stephen Hawking, Yuri Milner, and Mark Zuckerberg.

ISDC is the yearly conference of the National Space Society, a non-profit organization that has hosted the gathering since 1982. The event brings together leading managers, engineers, scientists, educators, and business people from civilian, military, commercial, entrepreneurial, and grassroots advocacy space sectors.

Online registration is currently open with a variety of options, from single-day registration passes to full conference registration with meals. Discounts are provided for youth, full-time students, seniors, and members of the National Space Society and its affiliates.

“We would like to invite local attendees interested in space to the annual conference of the world’s premier space public interest group,” stated Aggie Kobrin, the conference organizer and NSS board member.

For more information, visit http://isdc2016.nss.org.

SpaceX to Receive the National Space Society’s 2016 Space Pioneer Award for Science and Engineering

Josh BrostSpaceX is the winner of the National Space Society’s 2016 Space Pioneer Award for Science and Engineering. This award recognizes the company’s recent major achievement, the historic first landing of the Falcon 9 rocket on Dec 21, 2015, which was a major step toward fulfilling one of the major “holy grail” quests of the space community – reusability. This flight marked the first successful vertical landing by a large first-stage rocket, which reached space and whose second stage carried a payload into orbit. Creating reusable rockets is a fundamental requirement for spaceflight to be inexpensive enough for general and large-scale use. Josh Brost, Director of Government Business Development at SpaceX, will accept the award in the name of SpaceX on May 20 at the National Space Society’s 2016 International Space Development Conference® (isdc.nss.org/2016). This will be the 35th ISDC and will be held in San Juan, Puerto Rico, at the Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel and Casino. The conference, open to the public, will run from May 18-22, 2016.

About the Space Pioneer Award

NSS Space Pioneer AwardThe Space Pioneer Award consists of a silvery pewter Moon globe cast by the Baker Art Foundry in Placerville, California, from a sculpture originally created by Don Davis, the well-known space and astronomical artist. The globe, as shown at right, which represents multiple space mission destinations and goals, sits freely on a brass support with a wooden base and brass plaque, which are created by the greatly respected Michael Hall’s Studio Foundry of Driftwood, TX. NSS has several different categories under which the award is presented each year, starting in 1988. Some of the recent winners of Space Pioneer Awards include Elon Musk, Ray Bradbury, Robert Bigelow, citizen astronaut Anousheh Ansari, Dr. Kip Thorne, and the European Space Agency (ESA) Rosetta mission team.

About SpaceX

SpaceX designs, manufactures, and launches the world’s most advanced rockets and spacecraft. The company was founded in 2002 by Elon Musk to revolutionize space transportation, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets. Today, SpaceX is advancing the boundaries of space technology through its Falcon launch vehicles and Dragon spacecraft.

Engineering an Impact on the New Frontier

By NSS Member Bradley Williams

It was a chilly December morning; I was 10 years old and sitting on the cold, hard floor of my elementary school library…too enthralled and focused on a 20-inch television screen to realize how uncomfortable I was. The TV was showing a live stream of Entry, Decent, and Landing (EDL) activities being commanded by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It was very quiet. And, expecting that at any moment the engineers and scientists on the television would burst into excitement and applause, I wasn’t about to be the first of my classmates to break the silence. We sat there for 45 minutes—what seemed like a lifetime to a group of 5th graders—before my teacher finally got up and turned off the TV. Mrs. Storar, being fluent in space history and blessed with an understanding of mission architecture, gently informed us that something had gone wrong and the Mars Polar Lander would likely never be heard from again. It was an unlikely experience to spur passion and inspiration in a 10-year-old, but from that moment I was completely hooked on space exploration.

Systems Engineer Bradley Williams with the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft in the Lockheed Martin cleanroom.
Systems Engineer Bradley Williams with the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft in the Lockheed Martin cleanroom.

My name is Bradley Williams and I am a Systems Engineer for the OSIRIS-REx Camera Suite (OCAMS). OCAMS is a set of three cameras on the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft that will provide the imagery of asteroid Bennu during the OSIRIS-REx mission. Driven by science and innovation, my goal has always been to make an impact in cutting edge space exploration and in the technology that gives us access to explore the truly NEW frontier—space.

I came to the University of Arizona looking for a way I could impact…I mean, leave an impression on the space industry (people in this field don’t like using the word “impact”). While studying mechanical engineering, I also submerged myself in planetary science and eventually gained a minor in the field. In no other field can you take courses taught by Dr. Alfred McEwen, Principal Investigator (PI) of the HiRISE camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and get the opportunity to request your own high resolution observations of Mars’ surface to write a paper on. I credit much of my career to the UA Lunar and Planetary Laboratory’s unique ability to provide students with the opportunity to network with space community leaders and ground-breaking innovators. It was an astrobiology course taught by Phoenix Mars Lander PI, Dr. Peter Smith, that opened the door to the path that has led me to where I am today.

Whether it was my persistence or eagerness to get involved, Dr. Smith eventually found me a spot as a research assistant developing CubeSat applications through an electronics test and integration program. During my tenure in the UA’s L-CAVE (Lab of CubeSat Applications and Vehicular Exploration), I had the chance to meet several future members of the OSIRIS-REx OCAMS team. So when NASA awarded the OSIRIS-REx mission to the University of Arizona, things happened fast—and I am talking “rocket escape velocity” fast. In no time, I had transitioned over to the OCAMS team to work on numerous systems engineering tasks for Cat Merrill, the Lead Systems Engineer for OCAMS. The learning curve was steep but it was exhilarating at the same time.

Bradley Williams, who began working on the OCAMS instrument as a University of Arizona student, is now part of the team guiding OCAMS through the ATLO process.
Bradley Williams, who began working on the OCAMS instrument as a University of Arizona student, is now part of the team guiding OCAMS through the ATLO process.

While still a student, my early responsibilities included assisting in the maturation of the Integrated Master Schedule (IMS), and managing the OCAMS requirements. After graduating with my mechanical engineering degree, I was given the opportunity to remain on the project as a full-time engineer. Obviously, I was ecstatic. How many people get the chance to start their career with their dream job, RIGHT? As grateful as I was, my role rapidly evolved. My requirements role quickly turned into the responsibility to design a verification program that could be used to validate the 2,000 mission requirements levied upon the OCAMS instrument, its subsystems, and its components. Once you know how to verify that the right system was built and that it was built correctly, you then have to design an integration and test program. The goal was to incrementally satisfy these requirements while the three OCAMS cameras and control electronics were being built, thus buying down risk that large problems would occur later. This included working with vendors of critical parts, subsystems, and assemblies to ensure that the requirements in the statement of work were verified prior to their delivery to OCAMS.

Again, a unique experience emerged. I was thrown into the OCAMS cleanroom (not literally—you have to properly suit up first to protect the spaceflight hardware from contamination risks) to execute many of the procedures I had authored. From running performance tests in the thermal vacuum chamber to performing functional tests on electronics and cameras after coming off the “vibe table” (and trust me there are no good vibes about it—watching an instrument you’ve spent endless hours and weekends building and perfecting be strapped to a violently shaking table is terrifying). Prior to that, I worked side by side with our mechanical assemblers to verify that our mechanical interfaces met spec before the final torqueing and staking of fasteners. You don’t want to get to the spacecraft and realize that your instrument doesn’t fit the footprint allocated by the spacecraft.

One of the key tests I shepherded through the OCAMS environmental test program was the Electromagnetic Interference and Compatibility test (EMI-EMC for short). I worked with the RF experts at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center to identify the proper standardized test setups for our mission, and then conveyed those requirements to the vendor to itemize contract deliverables. Negotiating statements of work may sound dull and exhausting, but you obviously haven’t spent much time in an anechoic chamber. This is where EMI/EMC testing occurs. The chamber is designed to be non-reflective and completely silent to noise, from either external sounds or internal electromagnetic waves (so good luck getting a wifi signal in there). Through our testing, we determined that there were no excessive emissions by the OCAMS instrument, especially in the frequency band that the spacecraft uses to communicate. We also verified that the OCAMS camera performance is not susceptible to any of the emissions we may experience during operations near and around the asteroid Bennu. Recently, I also had the chance to support the same testing but at the vehicle (spacecraft) level. The difference with this test was that all of the payloads (instruments) were on the spacecraft and were actively and concurrently producing science data. This test validated our instrument level results and provided the verification necessary to prove there would be no impact to the launch vehicle (an Atlas V rocket) or the spacecraft during launch activities.

The three cameras of OCAMS sit in an anechoic chamber while undergoing EMI-EMC testing.
The three cameras of OCAMS sit in an anechoic chamber while undergoing EMI-EMC testing.

Fortunately, after the conclusion of the OCAMS test program and the delivery of the instrument to the spacecraft, I have been able to continue with OCAMS in providing ATLO (spacecraft Assembly Test Launch Operations) support. Being knowledgeable in OCAMS’s functionality and commanding, I work closely with the operations team to define system verification tests that prove out different phases of the mission before launch. This has given me insight into the future decisions that will have to be made during mission science operations to coordinate and balance science value with operational risk.

The OSIRIS-REx mission is awe-inspiring. It pushes the limits of current space exploration efforts and will help shape and guide future generations of scientists and engineers. Like the Phoenix rising from the ashes, my inspiration was derived from previous space endeavors, and I hope to continue this “pay-it-forward” attitude to help inspire this country’s future doers and dreamers.

NSS Space Ambassadors Program Update

The NSS Space Ambassadors Program is a venue to allow people worldwide to communicate the benefits of space exploration to our daily lives and to inspire and educate young people and the public to pursue careers in science, engineering, and mathematics. The goal is to inspire the next generation of leaders to embrace and pursue the vision of people living and working in space. Lots of people have participated, and NSS is now completing the first phase of the Space Ambassadors Program. The Top Ten Ambassadors will present examples of their work at the upcoming ISDC 2016 in Puerto Rico on May 19, 2016. Based on their work, the Top Ten will be rank-ordered, and they will select an NSS training assignment from the following sponsors:

  • Aurora Aerospace: Two zero-G training assignments in their Rockwell-700 aircraft (2 awardees)
  • Kepler Space Institute: A $5000 scholarship
  • ETC’s The NASTAR Center: One assignment to their Basic Suborbital Space Training program
  • Zero Gravity Corp: One ZERO-G experience in their Boeing-727 aircraft

For more information see www.spaceambassadors.com.

International/U.S. Students and Teachers Head to Puerto Rico for International Space Development Conference

Hundreds of students and teachers from the United States and countries across the globe will converge in Puerto Rico next month for the National Space Society’s (NSS) 35th annual International Space Development Conference® (ISDC) to celebrate and engage people in the goal of space settlement. The event is set for May 18-22, 2016 at the Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel and Casino in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Students attending the conference, grades 6-12, will be sharing their imaginative ideas about how people will be living and working in space. They are attending the conference as a result of their participation in this year’s NSS/NASA Ames Space Settlement Contest, co-sponsored by the National Space Society and NASA Ames Research Center. The contest challenges students to design a space settlement, which must realistically address concerns such as atmosphere, food, gravity, radiation shielding, energy production, and recreation for human space colonists.

“The students attending the ISDC are so passionate and excited to be there to share their ideas and projects. There is so much to learn from them, their cultures, and creative insights,” said Lynne F. Zielinski, NSS vice president of public affairs and chair of NSS’ education and outreach committee. “We are always dazzled by their insightful and futuristic designs. Their enthusiasm is infectious and gives us all hope that we will soon be living and working in space ourselves. These students are the ones to take us there.”

Project Divinity Team

Each year, NSS invites contest participants to attend the organization’s ISDC. Throughout the conference, students will provide oral presentations about their space settlement designs, along with colorful artwork related to the contest. The NSS/NASA Ames Space Settlement Contest’s Grand Prize winner, Project Divinity team, will receive the $5,000 NSS Bruce M. Clark, Jr. Memorial Scholarship.

The Project Divinity team is comprised of five students, SeungHyeon Do (Kongju High School, grade 12), JaeHun Jang (Korea Science Academy, 12), DongHyun Kim (Korea Science Academy, 12), YongSung Park (GwangJu Munsung High High School, 11), HwanSung Jang (Korean Minjok Leadership Academy, 11) under the mentorship of KangSan Kim, from Incheon, Republic of Korea (South Korea). (www.nss.org/settlement/nasa/Contest/Results/2016/ProjectDivinity.pdf).

“Project Divinity is a space settlement for 10,000 individuals situated in the Equatorial Low Earth Orbit (ELEO), 500 km altitude above the equator. It is built in the near future where space tourism, coupled with commercial development of launch vehicles, provides enough incentives for primitive forms of space industry to grow. Project Divinity describes how the Divinity space settlement and its neighboring facilities can become the foundation for a new market for outer space.”

This year’s competition received 996 entries from 4,017 students. Entries came from 23 countries: Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, England, India, Ireland, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Poland, Republic of Korea (So.Korea), Romania, Taiwan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, and Venezuela. U.S. entries were received from 15 states and territories: California, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

ISDC is the yearly conference of the National Space Society, a non-profit organization that has hosted the gathering since 1982. The event brings together leading managers, engineers, scientists, educators, and business people from civilian, military, commercial, entrepreneurial, and grassroots advocacy space sectors.

Online registration is currently open with a variety of options, from single-day registration passes to full conference registration with meals. Discounts are provided for youth, full-time students, seniors, and members of the National Space Society and its affiliates.

“We would like to invite local attendees interested in space to the annual conference of the world’s premier space public interest group,” stated Aggie Kobrin, the conference organizer and NSS board member. “Kids today are somewhat lacking in inspiration to pursue STEM fields and this conference is making giant strides to solve this problem.”

For more information, visit isdc2016.nss.org.

Videos of the SpaceX Reusable Rocket Program

Below are two 5-minute videos about the reusable rocket development program of SpaceX. The first video shows the live coverage of the first successful landing on an autonomous spaceport drone ship, with the tremendous excitement of the SpaceX team very audible in the background. The second video is a cool compilation of SpaceX reusable rocket testing over the previous four years.

The Billionaire’s Race to Colonize Space: Blue Origin and SpaceX

Elon Musk has made it clear that his mission with SpaceX is to colonize Mars and to help humanity become a multi-planet species.

Jeff Bezos states that Blue Origin is “working hard to bring closer the day when millions of people can live and work in space.”

See the interesting article on this subject by Trevor Nace on The Next Web Insider.