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This Week at NASA | This Week at NASA: Unmanned Craft, ‘A Beautiful Planet’ Premiere, Bubble Nebula, more

Uploaded 04/22/2016

This Week at NASA: Unmanned Craft, ‘A Beautiful Planet’ Premiere, Bubble Nebula, more

An April 19 event at NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California, showcased the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Traffic Management (UTM) prototype the agency is developing for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). With coordination from Ames, operators of non-NASA unmanned aircraft or drones used the system to conduct simultaneous test flights, with some 20 drones at six FAA-approved locations around the country. During the test, Ames engineers used the traffic management prototype to monitor the flights remotely and gather qualitative feedback that will help further develop and refine the system. With this research, NASA and the FAA hope to address the need for a system to safely integrate unmanned aircraft into the nation’s airspace. Also, Earth Day Kick-off, A Beautiful Planet Premiere, First Major SLS Flight Hardware, SLS Test Stand Progress, Solar Electric Propulsion for Deep Space Exploration, and An Anniversary Bubble for Hubble.

 

TRANSCRIPT

 

Managing Unmanned Aircraft Traffic

An April 19 event at NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California, showcased the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Traffic Management (UTM) prototype the agency is developing for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). With coordination from Ames, operators of non-NASA unmanned aircraft or drones used the system to conduct simultaneous test flights, with some 20 drones at six FAA-approved locations around the country. During the test, Ames engineers used the traffic management prototype to monitor the flights remotely and gather qualitative feedback that will help further develop and refine the system. With this research, NASA and the FAA hope to address the need for a system to safely integrate unmanned aircraft into the nation’s airspace.

Earth Day Kick-off

NASA helped kick off this year’s celebration of Earth Day with public events and online activities. Exhibits at the April 22 Earth Day in the nation’s capital event, at Washington’s Union Station, featured hands-on activities and presentations that included stunning images of Earth, on NASA’s mega-sized Hyperwall. Chief Scientist Ellen Stofan was among those who talked about NASA’s Earth science research, and how observing our planet from the vantage point of space helps us better understand how it is changing. NASA also invited people around the world to use #24Seven to share on social media what they are doing to celebrate and improve our home planet.

A Beautiful Planet Premiere

Observing Earth from space is great for science – but also for just gawking at the awesomeness and beauty of our home world. Only a select few get to do that first hand. But, the new documentary, “A Beautiful Planet” – made in cooperation with NASA – is bringing the experience to IMAX screens around the world. NASA was on the red carpet for the film’s April 16 world premiere at New York’s Lincoln Square Theater. The production, narrated by actress Jennifer Lawrence, uses IMAX and IMAX 3-D views of Earth, shot by astronauts from onboard the International Space Station. Several of them attended the event, including NASA’s Kjell Lindgren, Terry Virts and Butch Wilmore, as well as former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly.

First Major SLS Flight Hardware

At NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, final welding was completed on the first major piece of flight hardware for the core stage of the agency’s Space Launch System rocket. The component, part of the rocket’s engine section, will house the four RS-25 engines for the first flight of the SLS with NASA’s Orion spacecraft in 2018. The SLS core stage will be more than 200 feet tall and store cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen to feed the rocket’s RS-25 engines.

SLS Test Stand Progress

Engineers at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama placed the top-most beam into place on test stand 4693. When construction is completed, the structure will be used to evaluate how the SLS’s giant liquid hydrogen tank holds up to the same stresses and loads it will experience during liftoff and flight. SLS will be the world’s most powerful rocket for human space exploration, able to take astronauts in the Orion spacecraft on deep-space missions, including NASA’s journey to Mars.

Solar Electric Propulsion for Deep Space Exploration

NASA announced April 19 it selected Aerojet Rocketdyne to design and develop an advanced electric propulsion system that will significantly advance the nation’s commercial space capabilities, and enable deep space exploration missions, including the robotic portion of NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) and the Journey to Mars. Work performed under the contract could potentially increase spaceflight transportation fuel efficiency by 10 times over current chemical propulsion technology and more than double thrust capability compared to current electric propulsion systems.

An Anniversary Bubble for Hubble

Astronomers have used the Hubble Space Telescope to photograph an enormous bubble being blown into space by a super-hot, massive star. The Hubble image of the Bubble Nebula, or NGC 7635, was taken to mark the 26th anniversary of the launch of the famed observatory on space shuttle mission STS-31 on April 24, 1990. The Bubble Nebula is 7 light-years across, and resides 7,100 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cassiopeia.

And that’s what’s up this week @NASA.

 

 

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