Kathy Lueders Selected to Lead NASA’s Human Spaceflight Office

June 12th, 2020

Kathy Lueders Credits: NASA

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine Friday selected Commercial Crew Program Manager Kathy Lueders to be the agency’s next associate administrator of the Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Mission Directorate. Since 2014, Lueders has directed NASA’s efforts to send astronauts to space on private spacecraft, which culminated in the successful launch of Demo-2 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 30.

“Kathy gives us the extraordinary experience and passion we need to continue to move forward with Artemis and our goal of landing the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024,” said Bridenstine. “She has a deep interest in developing commercial markets in space, dating back to her initial work on the space shuttle program. From Commercial Cargo and now Commercial Crew, she has safely and successfully helped push to expand our nation’s industrial base. Kathy’s the right person to extend the space economy to the lunar vicinity and achieve the ambitious goals we’ve been given.”

The appointment takes effect immediately. Steve Stich is named Commercial Crew Program Manager, and Ken Bowersox returns to his role as HEO deputy associate administrator.
Lueders began her NASA career in 1992 at the White Sands Test Facility in New Mexico where she was the Shuttle Orbital Maneuvering System and Reaction Control Systems Depot manager. She later moved to the International Space Station Program and served as transportation integration manager, where she led commercial cargo resupply services to the space station.

She also was responsible for NASA oversight of international partner spacecraft visiting the space station, including the European Space Agency’s Automated Transfer Vehicle, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s H-II Transfer Vehicle, and the Russian space agency Roscosmos’ Soyuz and Progress spacecraft. She went to Kennedy as acting Commercial Crew Program Manager in 2013 and was selected as the head of the office in 2014.

Lueders has a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance from the University of New Mexico and a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Industrial Engineering from New Mexico State University.

“I want to thank Ken and the entire HEO team for their steady support of Kathy in making Commercial Crew such a success,” added Bridenstine. “I know they’ll give her the same support as she moves out in her new role. This is such a critical time for the agency and for HEO. We still need to bring Doug and Bob home safely and we’re not going to lose focus. We have our sights set on the Moon and even deeper into space, and Kathy is going to help lead us there.”

For additional information in NASA’s human spaceflight program, visit: National Aeronautics and Space Administration

NASA astronauts launch from America in historic test flight of SpaceX Crew Dragon

May 31st, 2020

President Donald Trump, right, Vice President Mike Pence, and Second Lady Karen Pence watch the launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley onboard, Saturday, May 30, 2020, from the balcony of Operations Support Building II at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission is the first launch with astronauts of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. The test flight serves as an end-to-end demonstration of SpaceX’s crew transportation system. Behnken and Hurley launched at 3:22 p.m. EDT on Saturday, May 30, from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. A new era of human spaceflight is set to begin as American astronauts once again launch on an American rocket from American soil to low-Earth orbit for the first time since the conclusion of the Space Shuttle Program in 2011. Photo by NASA/Bill Ingalls

For the first time in history, NASA astronauts have launched from American soil in a commercially built and operated American crew spacecraft on its way to the International Space Station. The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft carrying NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley lifted off at 3:22 p.m. EDT Saturday, May 30 on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

“Today a new era in human spaceflight begins as we once again launched American astronauts on American rockets from American soil on their way to the International Space Station, our national lab orbiting Earth,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “I thank and congratulate Bob Behnken, Doug Hurley, and the SpaceX and NASA teams for this significant achievement for the United States. The launch of this commercial space system designed for humans is a phenomenal demonstration of American excellence and is an important step on our path to expand human exploration to the Moon and Mars.”

Known as NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2, the mission is an end-to-end test flight to validate the SpaceX crew transportation system, including launch, in-orbit, docking and landing operations. This is SpaceX’s second spaceflight test of its Crew Dragon and its first test with astronauts aboard, which will pave the way for its certification for regular crew flights to the station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

“This is a dream come true for me and everyone at SpaceX,” said Elon Musk, chief engineer at SpaceX. “It is the culmination of an incredible amount of work by the SpaceX team, by NASA and by a number of other partners in the process of making this happen. You can look at this as the results of a hundred thousand people roughly when you add up all the suppliers and everyone working incredibly hard to make this day happen.”

The program demonstrates NASA’s commitment to investing in commercial companies through public-private partnerships and builds on the success of American companies, including SpaceX, already delivering cargo to the space station.

“It’s difficult to put into words how proud I am of the people who got us here today,” said Kathy Lueders, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program manager. “When I think about all of the challenges overcome – from design and testing, to paper reviews, to working from home during a pandemic and balancing family demands with this critical mission – I am simply amazed at what the NASA and SpaceX teams have accomplished together. This is just the beginning; I will be watching with great anticipation as Bob and Doug get ready to dock to the space station tomorrow, and through every phase of this historic mission.”

SpaceX controlled the launch of the Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy’s Launch Control Center Firing Room 4, the former space shuttle control room, which SpaceX has leased as its primary launch control center. As Crew Dragon ascended into space, SpaceX commanded the spacecraft from its mission control center in Hawthorne, California. NASA teams are monitoring space station operations throughout the flight from Mission Control Center at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft is scheduled to dock to the space station at 10:29 a.m. Sunday, May 31. NASA Television and the agency’s website are providing ongoing live coverage of the Crew Dragon’s trip to the orbiting laboratory. Behnken and Hurley will work with SpaceX mission control to verify the spacecraft is performing as intended by testing the environmental control system, the displays and control system, and by maneuvering the thrusters, among other things. The first docking maneuver began Saturday, May 30, at 4:09 p.m., and the spacecraft will begin its close approach to the station at about 8:27 a.m. Sunday, May 31. Crew Dragon is designed to dock autonomously, but the crews onboard the spacecraft and the space station will diligently monitor the performance of the spacecraft as it approaches and docks to the forward port of the station’s Harmony module.

After successfully docking, the crew will be welcomed aboard the International Space Station, where they will become members of the Expedition 63 crew, which currently includes NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy. NASA will continue live coverage through hatch opening and the crew welcoming ceremony. The crew will perform tests on Crew Dragon in addition to conducting research and other tasks with the space station crew.

Demo-2 Astronauts

Three astronauts aboard the International Space Station will participate in a live NASA Television crew news conference from orbit on Monday, June 1, beginning at 11:15 a.m. on NASA TV and the agency’s website.

Behnken is the joint operations commander for the mission, responsible for activities such as rendezvous, docking and undocking, as well as Demo-2 activities while the spacecraft is docked to the space station. He was selected as a NASA astronaut in 2000 and has completed two space shuttle flights. Behnken flew STS-123 in March 2008 and STS-130 in February 2010, performing three spacewalks during each mission. Born in St. Anne, Missouri, he has bachelor’s degrees in physics and mechanical engineering from Washington University in St. Louis and earned a master’s and doctorate in mechanical engineering from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Before joining NASA, he was a flight test engineer with the U.S. Air Force.

Hurley is the spacecraft commander for Demo-2, responsible for activities such as launch, landing and recovery. He was selected as an astronaut in 2000 and has completed two spaceflights. Hurley served as pilot and lead robotics operator for both STS‐127 in July 2009 and STS‐135, the final space shuttle mission, in July 2011. The New York native was born in Endicott but considers Apalachin his hometown. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from Tulane University in New Orleans and graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School in Patuxent River, Maryland. Before joining NASA, he was a fighter pilot and test pilot in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Mission Objectives

The Demo-2 mission is the final major test before NASA’s Commercial Crew Program certifies Crew Dragon for operational, long-duration missions to the space station. As SpaceX’s final flight test, it will validate all aspects of its crew transportation system, including the Crew Dragon spacecraft, spacesuits, Falcon 9 launch vehicle, launch pad 39A and operations capabilities.

While en route to the station, Behnken and Hurley will take control of Crew Dragon for two manual flight tests, demonstrating their ability to control the spacecraft should an issue with the spacecraft’s automated flight arise. On Saturday, May 30, while the spacecraft is coasting, the crew will test its roll, pitch and yaw. When Crew Dragon is about 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) below the station and moving around to the docking axis, the crew will conduct manual in-orbit demonstrations of the control system in the event it were needed. After pausing, rendezvous will resume and mission managers will make a final decision about whether to proceed to docking as Crew Dragon approaches 20 meters (66 feet).

For operational missions, Crew Dragon will be able to launch as many as four crew members at a time and carry more than 220 pounds of cargo, allowing for an increased number crew members aboard the space station and increasing the time dedicated to research in the unique microgravity environment, as well as returning more science back to Earth.

The Crew Dragon being used for this flight test can stay in orbit about 110 days, and the specific mission duration will be determined once on station based on the readiness of the next commercial crew launch. The operational Crew Dragon spacecraft will be capable of staying in orbit for at least 210 days as a NASA requirement.

At the conclusion of the mission, Behnken and Hurley will board Crew Dragon, which will then autonomously undock, depart the space station, and re-enter Earth’s atmosphere. Upon splashdown off Florida’s Atlantic coast, the crew will be picked up by the SpaceX recovery ship and returned to the dock at Cape Canaveral.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is working with SpaceX and Boeing to design, build, test and operate safe, reliable and cost-effective human transportation systems to low-Earth orbit. Both companies are focused on test missions, including abort system demonstrations and crew flight tests, ahead of regularly flying crew missions to the space station. Both companies’ crewed flights will be the first times in history NASA has sent astronauts to space on systems owned, built, tested and operated by private companies.

Learn more about NASA’s Commercial Crew program at:

NASA names companies to develop human landers for Artemis Moon Missions

May 1st, 2020

Illustration of Artemis astronauts on the Moon — NASA

NASA has selected three U.S. companies to design and develop human landing systems (HLS) for the agency’s Artemis program, one of which will land the first woman and next man on the surface of the Moon by 2024. NASA is on track for sustainable human exploration of the Moon for the first time in history.

The human landing system awards under the Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP-2) Appendix H Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) are firm-fixed price, milestone-based contracts. The total combined value for all awarded contracts is $967 million for the 10-month base period.

The following companies were selected to design and build human landing systems:

  • Blue Origin of Kent, Washington, is developing the Integrated Lander Vehicle (ILV) – a three-stage lander to be launched on its own New Glenn Rocket System and ULA Vulcan launch system.
  • Dynetics (a Leidos company) of Huntsville, Alabama, is developing the Dynetics Human Landing System (DHLS) – a single structure providing the ascent and descent capabilities that will launch on the ULA Vulcan launch system.
  • SpaceX of Hawthorne, California, is developing the Starship – a fully integrated lander that will use the SpaceX Super Heavy rocket.

“With these contract awards, America is moving forward with the final step needed to land astronauts on the Moon by 2024, including the incredible moment when we will see the first woman set foot on the lunar surface,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “This is the first time since the Apollo era that NASA has direct funding for a human landing system, and now we have companies on contract to do the work for the Artemis program.”

Fifty years ago, NASA’s Apollo Program proved it is possible to land humans on the Moon and return them safely to Earth. When NASA returns to the Moon in four years with the Artemis program, it will go in a way that reflects the world today – with government, industry, and international partners in a global effort to build and test the systems needed for challenging missions to Mars and beyond.

“We are on our way.” said Douglas Loverro, NASA’s associate administrator for Human Explorations and Operations Mission Directorate in Washington. “With these awards we begin an exciting partnership with the best of industry to accomplish the nation’s goals. We have much work ahead, especially over these next critical 10 months. I have high confidence that working with these teammates, we will succeed.”

NASA’s commercial partners will refine their lander concepts through the contract base period ending in February 2021. During that time, the agency will evaluate which of the contractors will perform initial demonstration missions. NASA will later select firms for development and maturation of sustainable lander systems followed by sustainable demonstration missions. NASA intends to procure transportation to the lunar surface as commercial space transportation services after these demonstrations are complete. During each phase of development, NASA and its partners will use critical lessons from earlier phases to hone the final concepts that will be used for future lunar commercial services.

“I am confident in NASA’s partnership with these companies to help achieve the Artemis mission and develop the human landing system returning us to the Moon” said Lisa Watson-Morgan, HLS program manager at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. “We have a history of proven lunar technical expertise and capabilities at Marshall and across NASA that will pave the way for our efforts to quickly and safely land humans on the Moon in 2024.”

NASA experts will work closely with the commercial partners building the next human landing systems, leveraging decades of human spaceflight experience and the speed of the commercial sector to achieve a Moon landing in 2024.

The HLS program manager will assign NASA personnel to support the work of each contractor, providing direct, in-line expertise to the companies as requested in their proposals (e.g., design support, analysis, testing). The HLS program will also perform advanced development and risk reduction activities, working in parallel to better inform the approach for the 2024 mission and the necessary maturation of systems for the future sustaining architecture.

Charged with returning to the Moon in the next four years, NASA’s Artemis program will reveal new knowledge about the Moon, Earth, and our origins in the solar system. The human landing system is a vital part of NASA’s deep space exploration plans, along with the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, Orion spacecraft, and Gateway.

NASA is returning to the Moon for scientific discovery, economic benefits, and inspiration for a new generation. Working with its partners throughout the Artemis program, the agency will fine-tune precision landing technologies and develop new mobility capabilities that allow robots and crew to travel greater distances and explore new regions of the Moon. On the surface, the agency has proposed building a new habitat and rovers, testing new power systems and much more to get ready for human exploration of Mars.

Learn more about each HLS concept:

https://www.nasa.gov/feature/nasa-selects-blue-origin-dynetics-spacex-for-artemis-human-landers​

Learn more about America’s Moon to Mars exploration approach at: Moon to Mars

NASA commemorates 50th Anniversary of Apollo 13, ‘A Successful Failure’

April 13th, 2020

Crewmembers of the Apollo 13 mission, step aboard the USS Iwo Jima, prime recovery ship for the mission, on April 17, 1970, following splashdown and recovery operations in the South Pacific Ocean. Exiting the helicopter which made the pick-up some four miles from the Iwo Jima are (from left) astronauts Fred W. Haise Jr., lunar module pilot; James A. Lovell Jr., commander; and John L. Swigert Jr., command module pilot. The crippled Apollo 13 spacecraft splashed down at 12:07:44 p.m. (CST), April 17, 1970. NASA Photo

“Our goal 50 years ago was to save our valiant crew after sending them around the Moon and return them safely to Earth,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “Our goal now is to return to the Moon to stay, in a sustainable way. We are working hard to ensure that we don’t need to respond to this kind of emergency in Artemis, but to be ready to respond to any problems we don’t anticipate.”As NASA marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 13 mission – which has become known as “a successful failure” that saw the safe return of its crew in spite of a catastrophic explosion – the agency is sharing a variety of resources, recognizing the triumph of the mission control team and the astronauts, and looking at how those lessons learned can be applied to its lunar Artemis program.

The crew of Apollo 13 consisted of Commander James (Jim) Lovell Jr., Command Module Pilot John Swigert Jr. and Lunar Module Pilot Fred Haise Jr. Their Saturn V rocket launched at 2:13 p.m. EST on April 11,1970, from Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The command module was named Odyssey, and the lunar module was named Aquarius.

While en route to the Moon on April 13, an oxygen tank in the Apollo service module ruptured. The lunar landing and moonwalks, which would have been executed by Lovell and Haise, were aborted as a dedicated team of flight controllers and engineering experts in the Apollo Mission Control Center devoted their efforts to developing a plan to shelter the crew in the lunar module as a “lifeboat” and retain sufficient resources to bring the spacecraft and its crew back home safely. Splashdown occurred in the Pacific Ocean at 1:07 p.m. April 17, after a flight that lasted five days, 22 hours and 54 minutes.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, no NASA in-person activities are planned or sponsored to mark the Apollo 13 anniversary. However, a wealth of new content and programming, historic documents, still and video imagery are available online, including previously unreleased conversations between the crew of Apollo 13 and the recently restored Apollo Mission Control Center in Houston. This dialogue includes the now-famous exchange between Lovell and mission control during which Lovell utters the phrase, “Hey Houston, we’ve had a problem here.”

Among the resources NASA is making available are:

Apollo 13 on NASA TV

NASA TV is commemorating the anniversary with multiple videos and interviews, anchored by an original special program, “Apollo 13: Home Safe,” which premiered  April 10, on NASA Television and all of the agency’s streaming and social media platforms. The 30-minute program featured an interview with Lovell, a conversation with Haise and Flight Directors Gene Kranz and Glynn Lunney, and engineer Hank Rotter, in the restored Apollo mission control room mixed with archival footage from the mission. In addition, NASA TV will air replays of historic mission footage and “pop-up” mission factoids at the exact times the events happened 50 years ago.

Apollo 13 on Social Media

Social media followers are invited to ask questions about Apollo 13 using the hashtag #AskNASA. Experts will provide answers to as many questions as possible on social media and some will be answered in NASA TV’s upcoming #AskNASA episode about the mission.

The NASA Headquarters Photo Team has begun sharing historical images from the photo archives using the @NASAHQPhoto Twitter account, leading up to the splashdown anniversary on Friday, April 17.
On Monday, April 13, the NASA Tumblr page will tell the story about the mission using compelling images and multimedia.

The NASA History Facebook account and @NASAHistory Twitter account also have special content planned during the week of the anniversary.

This video, from the Scientific Visualization Studio at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., uses data gathered from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft to recreate some of the stunning views of the Moon the Apollo 13 astronauts saw on their perilous journey around the farside of the Moon. These visualizations, in 4K resolution, depict many different views of the lunar surface, starting with earthset and sunrise and concluding with the time Apollo 13 reestablished radio contact with mission control.

 

Supermoon Live Shots

Leading up to the anniversary of Apollo 13, the biggest and brightest Moon of the year – known as a supermoon – illuminated the night sky on Tuesday, April 7. To schedule an interview go to:
Listen as Lovell and Haise remember the fateful mission from their perspective 50 years later and reflect on the highlights of their expansive careers and share wisdom gained from their famous mission on its 50th anniversary. Houston, We Have A Podcast is the official podcast of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, in Houston.

 

Apollo 13 In Real Time

This searchable Apollo 13 website is a NASA-funded project designed by NASA contractor Ben Feist that provides viewers with access to all of the photographs, film, transcripts and audio from the mission. Visitors can replay the mission in real time or scroll through to find highlights. The site includes more than 17,000 hours of audio recorded from the various positions at mission control. It also includes video from NASA press conferences as they occurred, as well as newly audio-synced, previously silent, mission control footage.

Most of the Apollo 13 flight control team audio tapes were digitized in cooperation with the University of Texas, Dallas. Five additional tapes were found with the help of the National Archives and were digitized earlier this year by NASA.

Apollo 13 In-Flight Video Recordings

These TV transmissions are film recordings of television transmissions, or kinescopes, transferred onto broadcast videotape, then converted to digital files and posted to Johnson’s Internet Archive collection.
Apollo 13 Imagery Collections
NASA makes imagery available in many formats and resolutions, and NASA’s Image and Video Library contains many items related to Apollo 13. Apollo 13 images also are available on the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal, a volunteer-created site managed by NASA’s History Office.

 

Apollo 13 Presentation

Download and adapt these presentation slides about Apollo 13 to your audience and setting. The notes section for each slide contains the image source and explanations.

 

Additional Apollo Resources

Additional Apollo audio and video resources are available for download in the highest resolutions available in this publicly curated collection on the Internet Archive. Additional resources related to all the Apollo missions are available at NASA’s Apollo 50th Anniversary website.

As NASA marks the anniversary of Apollo 13, the agency is progressing with its Artemisprogram, which will send the first woman and next man to the Moon by 2024, and establish sustainable exploration with its commercial and international partners by 2028. What we learn on during sustained operations on the Moon will prepare us for the next giant leap – sending astronauts to Mars.

Learn more about Artemis and NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration approach at:

NASA: Moon to Mars

Houstonian rounds out SpaceX expedition crew

April 1st, 2020

Shannon Walker

By Mary Alys Cherry

Houston native Dr. Shannon Walker has been assigned by NASA to the first crewed flight of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station.

So rest assured, the eyes of Texas will be on Walker as she joins NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover Jr., as well as Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), for a six-month expedition aboard the unique space laboratory.

This mission, the space agency said, will be the first in a series of regular, rotational flights to the station following NASA’s certification of the new crewed system following completion and validation of SpaceX’s test flight with astronauts, known as Demo-2. This test is expected to take place in mid-to-late May as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Once it proves to be a success, the four will launch aboard Crew Dragon on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, currently planned for later this year.

After  graduating from Westbury High in Houston in 1983, Walker received her B.A. in Physics from Rice University in Houston in 1987 and began her career as a robotics flight controller for the space shuttle with Rockwell Space Operations Co. at NASA’s Johnson Space Center soon afterwards. From 1990 to 1993, she took a leave of absence to attend graduate school, where her area of study was the solar wind interaction with the Venusian atmosphere.

She joined NASA in 1995, working on robotics and avionics hardware for the space station with the program’s international partners after earning her Master of Science and Ph.D in Space Physics from Rice in 1992 and 1993, respectively. NASA selected her in the 2004 astronaut class. As an astronaut, she spent 163 days as a flight engineer aboard the ISS for Expeditions 24 and 25 in 2010. She is married to astronaut Andy Thomas.

Previously, NASA had assigned Glover and Hopkins to the first SpaceX crewed mission in August 2018. This will be the first spaceflight for Glover and the second for Hopkins, who lived aboard the space station from September 2013 to March 2014 as part of Expeditions 37 and 38.

It will be the third spaceflight for Noguchi, who flew on the STS-114 space shuttle mission in 2005 and was a ISS crew member from December 2009 to June 2010 on Expeditions 22 and 23.

NASA said its “Commercial Crew Program is working with the American aerospace industry as companies develop and operate a new generation of spacecraft and launch systems capable of carrying crews to low-Earth orbit and to the space station. Commercial transportation to and from the station will provide expanded utility, additional research time and broader opportunities for discovery on the orbital outpost.”

The station is a critical testbed for NASA to understand and overcome the challenges of long-duration spaceflight. As commercial companies focus on providing human transportation services to and from low-Earth orbit, NASA is free to focus on building spacecraft and rockets for deep space missions.

Leidos Webster

March 30th, 2020

Tanya Hanway and Ernest Sanchez explain that Leidos’ name comes from the word “kaleidoscope” to represent the company’s ability to solve difficult problems by applying different perspectives, unlocking new insights, and making new discoveries.

A Kaleidoscope of Space Supplies and Innovation to the ISS and Beyond

From a 55,000 Sq Ft facility on Forge River Road in Webster, Leidos supports human spaceflight and deep space exploration to enable NASA’s next great discovery. Leidos’ local team of innovators works on numerous NASA programs spanning mission operations, research and engineering, payload processing, food development, human spaceflight, and IT support. Just about everything astronauts aboard the International Space Station touch, wear, consume, and do bears Leidos’ signature. From laptops to space suits, tortillas, toothpaste, and experiments, Leidos has shipped more than 210,000 pounds of supplies to the International Space Station.

In Webster, Leidos’ focus is enabling NASA’s mission of driving innovation in science, technology, aeronautics, and space exploration. The 129-member team inside the Forge River Road facility and 284-member team on site at Johnson Space Center prepare astronauts for space travel, zero-gravity living, and daily work aboard the largest spacecraft ever built—the International Space Station (ISS)—which circles the earth at 17,000 mph and is the astronauts’ habitat for an average of six-month intervals.

Inside Leidos’ Cargo Processing Facility, Cargo Mission Contract Program Manager Ernest Sanchez; Division Manager of NASA Programs Nan Hardin; and Research, Engineering, Mission Integration Services Program Manager Tanya Hanway hold kits of essential supplies, like food and hygiene towels, bound for the ISS. Prior to transport, cargo undergoes about 200 different processes inside the Webster facility.

Special Delivery to the ISS and Beyond

Leidos’ development of clothing, gear, food, and equipment for those aboard the ISS holds significant ramifications for space colonies on the moon, Mars, and beyond. Logistics falls into this category, as well. Just as astronauts on the ISS require regular deliveries of experiment equipment, spare parts, food, air, and water, those who inhabit space outposts will need resupplies, too. Leidos’ expertise in planning, processing, and packing more than 400,000 pounds of supplies annually to the ISS is of critical importance—especially when every ounce matters. Leidos inventories, labels, and fit-checks each piece of hardware and soft goods, like a puzzle, to fit within a cargo transfer bag. Leidos’ very name, which appears in the word “kaleidoscope” to convey a constantly changing shape and form, represents the company’s innovative mindset toward solving problems and making new discoveries. Leidos’ prowess in technology and its far-reaching science and research applications play a vital role in human space activity.

kaLEIDOScope Leidos Innovates

Under NASA’s Cargo Mission Contract (CMC) in the Webster facility, Leidos processes cargo to enable astronauts’ daily health, welfare, and work aboard the ISS. The sheer number of steps and scope of work involved in making, assembling, processing, inventorying, labeling, testing, imaging, certifying, and integrating everything that is sent to ISS crewmembers is mind-boggling. Shipments often include crew provisions, hand tools, equipment, cameras, batteries and power supplies, research experiments, and ISS hardware.

Space-rated Yeti™

The majority of the thousands of different experiments and critical systems hardware that are bound for space are developed at various facilities and sent to Leidos’ Webster team for packaging and packing for launch to orbit.  However, Leidos also plays a critical role in fabricating and developing products for use in space. For example, when NASA wanted to research a low cost, low risk alternative for passively transporting frozen items to the ISS, Leidos’ engineers were charged with developing a custom Passive Cold Stowage Box (PCSB) that could maintain subzero temperatures for up to a week without battery or vehicle power.  Essentially, NASA asked if Leidos could develop and certify a space-rated Yeti®, and within months, the ISS crew was surprised with a shipment of frozen fruit bars to the ISS to enjoy as proof of concept. Leidos has developed many useful and innovative solutions, including a reliable power supply for laptops, a larger, safer, and more efficient food warmer, and a multi-layer insulation blanket needed to protect cargo from extreme temperatures that is fully compatible with the ISS robotic arm.

Inside the Decal Lab, 8,000 to 10,000 decals are created each month to support ISS missions. Decals, labels, and placards are generated for everything—contents, barcodes, tracking info, serial numbers, operating instructions, and safety.

Shipments to ISS average between 4,000 and 7,700 pounds

Inside Leidos’ Webster CMC facility, packaging takes on a completely new meaning. Bubble bags, Ziplocs, and Velcro abound inside the main cargo processing room, as well as the ubiquitous cargo transfer bags that come in various sizes to hold just about everything. Special shipping containers and lifts to handle heavy equipment are complemented by imaging services, HAZMAT assessments, and Department of Transportation coordination. Cargo kits become part of cargo transfer bags, which are clearly labeled and contain stringent inventory data to ensure that all hardware is handled in accordance with safety protocols. Electronic Launch Return On-Orbit Data Sets (eLRODS) protect hardware during all phases of processing—from receipt, ground handling, and delivery to the ISS. Custom foam enclosures made in the Foam Operations Lab protect flight hardware, just as decals, labels, and placards created in the Decal Lab protect and aid astronauts, so they know the precise sequencing for unpacking, setup, and operations. Labels are created in accordance with stringent NASA flight-approved materials and certifications and contain essential safety, inventory, tracking, and operating information.

Leidos’ work is not all inventorying, packaging, and labeling. The Webster team also works to ensure astronauts are healthy and comfortable. In fact, Leidos touts a seamstress who tailors clothing for astronauts and fabricates specialty items and equipment. Buttons on shorts or pants must be replaced with Velcro closures, and pockets with straps or closures must be added. Special equipment and soft goods are also fabricated inside the Webster facility. For instance, Leidos designed a camera covering that allows an astronaut’s huge, thick glove to handle and actuate buttons on the camera during a spacewalk or extra vehicular activity (EVA).

Leidos also considers toiletries and astronaut hygiene in its cargo preparation.  Every kilogram counts for payloads; water must be imported to the ISS, as no method for cleaning clothes currently exists. This means astronauts receive a single clothing kit, clearly labeled for two weeks’ worth of wear. A change of outfit might transpire twice a week. Astronauts can choose among their favorite brands for hygiene products, such as shampoo, toothpaste and deodorant—many of which will be outfitted with a Velcro backing.

Ernest Sanchez displays a 3D printed mock-up of the Keyence BZ-X800E All-In-One Fluorescence Microscope, an automated microscope with high-resolution imaging and analysis system, that was recently certified by Leidos for use on the ISS.

Manifest to Delivery: Six Weeks 13-15 Flights to ISS Annually

While food is made off-site, all of it is labeled, packaged, and processed in Webster where it’s categorized, numbered, placed into kits, and pressurized for transport. Factors, like nutrition, digestion, dietary conditions, shelf life, and zero-gravity have a huge role in determining what astronauts eat. A four-pound bag labeled “fruits and nuts,” for example, contains individual bags of almonds, apples with spice, applesauce, berry medley, cashews, dried apricots, dried pears, fruit cocktail, macadamia nuts, peaches, peanut butter, peanuts, and more—clearly listed in alphabetical order with tracking or inventory number.

Just as Leidos processes nearly all of the cargo that goes to the ISS, the Webster facility is the repository for returning payloads, as well. This includes time-sensitive or temperature-critical experiments, research materials, malfunctioning hardware, and used, but valuable, gear and equipment. The constant challenge to innovate and develop new modes for life and work in space is Leidos’ focus in Webster and at Johnson Space Center.

Next Stop: Lunar Station

Leidos is poised now to be the supplier to Gateway—the lunar orbital platform that brings astronauts to the moon to operate a space station and serves as a “gateway” for deep space missions. Under the Research, Engineering, Mission Integration Services (REMIS) contract, Leidos is currently developing the navigation and alignment aides for the Gateway Program to ensure safe docking of the various modules. Additionally, as commercialization of low earth orbit continues to ramp up rapidly, Leidos’ unparalleled expertise in logistics, research, engineering, IT, and mission integration services is in demand.

With a track record of success at NASA centers across the country, Leidos provides the mission understanding and technical expertise necessary to support advancements in space exploration and human spaceflight across the public and private space sector. From enterprise IT modernization to operations and logistics to systems engineering and integration, Leidos stands ready to support NASA in achieving its next discovery.

NASA photographer Bill Ingalls to receive Communicator Award

February 27th, 2020

NASA Photographer Bill Ingalls.
Photo: Joel Kowsky

The Rotary National Award for Space Achievement (RNASA) Foundation has selected NASA Senior Photographer Bill Ingalls to receive the prestigious 2020 Space Communicator Award.

Ingalls will be honored at RNASA’s 34th annual National Space Trophy Banquet on April 17 at the Houston Hyatt Regency along with Dr. Ellen Ochoa, retired Johnson Space Center director who will receive the 2020 National Space Trophy.  The public is invited to attend.

For over three decades Bill Ingalls has been capturing NASA’s most spectacular moments through his camera lens. His career was born in 1987 when he landed an internship at NASA’s communications office. After graduating from the Waynesburg College with two Bachelor of Art degrees in English and Visual Communications, Ingalls returned to NASA where he joined a group of accomplished and esteemed photographers in 1989.

He has crisscrossed the globe photographing some of our country’s most historic and compelling images. His iconic photos have captured Neil Armstrong’s burial at sea, Space Shuttle Endeavor’s final landing in 2011, and the first launch of a U.S. citizen on a Russian rocket. As one of NASA’s most senior photographers, he manages over 400 projects annually and supervises a team of five.

The space shuttle Discovery sits atop a launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, as a nearly full moon sets behind it. Photo: NASA/Bill Ingalls.

Ingalls said of his award, “I am incredibly honored, not only to have been selected to receive this recognition, but to be given the trust and responsibility to document space history in order to share NASA’s story for this and future generations.” His assignments have taken him to some of the most extreme environments imaginable. He has been lowered into an active volcano in Alaska, endured -17° temperatures for a Soyuz landing in the Kazakh steppes, and flown through a hurricane aboard a DC-8.

NASA Deputy Associate Administrator for Communications Bob Jacobs, who nominated Ingalls, said, “Bill is so much more than a photographer, he’s a storyteller. Bill takes us on this amazing journey of spaceflight through this camera lens, whether it’s the beauty and power of a launch or the exhaustion and excitement of an astronaut’s return home. He’s able to turn the vastness of space into very intimate moments. It’s a special talent.”

Bill is the second photographer to ever be honored with the National Space Club Press Award. Legendary journalist Edward R. Murrow was the first. Bill’s work has been highlighted in National Geographic, Newsweek, TIME, The Washington Post, Fortune, People, The New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times and has been featured on NBC, CBS and ABC News. To view more of his work, visit his website at ingallsimages.com.

The RNASA Space Communicator Award was created in 1997 in honor of KTRK, Houston Channel 13 space reporter and long-time RNASA Advisor Stephen Gauvain who was tragically killed in a car accident in 1996. The award is presented to an individual or team that makes exceptional contributions to public understanding and appreciation of space exploration The previous recipients of the award are: William Shatner; William Harwood of CBS; Miles O›Brien, formerly of CNN; Elliot Pulham of the Space Foundation; the NASA-Contractor Communications team that responded to the Columbia accident; Mark Carreau, formerly of the Houston Chronicle; Neil deGrasse Tyson of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, Veronica McGregor, manager of news and social media at NASA›s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.; former Canadian Space Agency astronaut, author, and musician Chris A. Hadfield; Bill Nye (the science guy) CEO of the Planetary Society, and Rob Navias of NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

Visit www.rnasa.org/tables.html to reserve a table or find information about tickets and sponsorships. To reserve a room at the Hyatt Regency, visit www.rnasa.org/houston.html or call 713-654-1234 and request the RNASA group rate.

NASA to Hire More Astronauts

February 13th, 2020

NASA is hiring new astronauts to explore the Moon and Mars! If you have what it takes to be an Artemis Generation astronaut, apply online March 2-31.
Photo by NASA

As NASA prepares to launch American astronauts this year on American rockets from American soil to the International Space Station – with an eye toward the Moon and Mars – the agency is announcing it will accept applications March 2 to 31 for the next class of Artemis Generation astronauts.

Since the 1960s, NASA has selected 350 people to train as astronaut candidates for its increasingly challenging missions to explore space. With 48 astronauts in the active astronaut corps, more will be needed to crew spacecraft bound for multiple destinations and propel exploration forward as part of Artemis missions and beyond.

We’re celebrating our 20th year of continuous presence aboard the International Space Station in low-Earth orbit this year, and we’re on the verge of sending the first woman and next man to the Moon by 2024,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “For the handful of highly talented women and men we will hire to join our diverse astronaut corps, it’s an incredible time in human spaceflight to be an astronaut. We’re asking all eligible Americans if they have what it to takes to apply beginning March 2.”

The basic requirements to apply include United States citizenship and a master’s degree in a STEM field, including engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science, or mathematics, from an accredited institution. The requirement for the master’s degree can also be met by:

  • Two years (36 semester hours or 54 quarter hours) of work toward a Ph.D. program in a related science, technology, engineering or math field;
  • A completed doctor of medicine or doctor of osteopathic medicine degree;
  • Completion (or current enrollment that will result in completion by June 2021) of a nationally recognized test pilot school program.

Candidates also must have at least two years of related, progressively responsible professional experience, or at least 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft. Astronaut candidates must pass the NASA long-duration spaceflight physical.

Americans may apply to #BeAnAstronaut at: www.usajobs.gov

As part of the application process, applicants will, for the first time, be required to take an online assessment that will require up to two hours to complete.

After completing training, the new astronauts could launch on American rockets and spacecraft developed for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program to live and work aboard the International Space Station, 250 miles above Earth, where they will take part in experiments that benefit life at home and prepare us for more distant exploration.

They may also launch on NASA’s powerful new Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft, docking the spacecraft at the Gateway in lunar orbit before taking a new human landing system to the Moon’s surface. After returning humans to the Moon in 2024, NASA plans to establish sustainable lunar exploration by 2028. Gaining new experiences on and around the Moon will prepare NASA to send the first humans to Mars in the mid-2030s.

NASA expects to select the new class of astronaut candidates in mid-2021 to begin training as the next class of Artemis Generation astronauts.

For more information about a career as a NASA astronaut, and application requirements, visit: NASA Astronauts Homepage

NASA getting $25B budget for FY 2021

February 11th, 2020

NASA photo
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine delivers the State of NASA address from NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi on Feb. 10, 2020.

“President Donald Trump’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget for NASA is worthy of 21st century exploration and discovery,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said as he delivered the State of NASA Address Feb. 10 at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. “The President’s budget invests more than $25 billion in NASA to fortify our innovative human space exploration program while maintaining strong support for our agency’s full suite of science, aeronautics, and technology work.

“The budget proposed represents a 12 percent increase and makes this one of the strongest budgets in NASA history. The reinforced support from the President comes at a critical time as we lay the foundations for landing the first woman and the next man on the South Pole of the Moon by 2024. This budget keeps us firmly on that path.

“We are preparing to achieve pivotal milestones this year in development of the Space Launch System rocket, Orion spacecraft, and the Gateway. These make up the backbone of our Artemis program and are fully supported by this budget. They constitute our ability to build a sustainable lunar presence and eventually send human missions to Mars.

“Most noteworthy, is the President’s direct funding of more than $3 billon for the development of a human landing system. This is the first time we have had direct funding for a human lander since the Apollo Program. We are serious about our 2024 goals, and the President’s budget supports our efforts to get the job done.

“We soon will launch American astronauts on American rockets from American soil for the first time in nearly a decade. This recaptured ability will not only allow us to do more science and more exploration than ever before, but will also broaden commercial activity in low-Earth orbit to support ever greater private partnerships.

“As we prepare to celebrate 20 years of continuous human presence aboard the International Space Station this year, we will continue to look for ways to partner with private enterprise and give more people access to the unique environment microgravity offers. Similarly, when we go to the Moon in the next four years, we are interested in taking the world with us. This includes those involved in our Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative and the international relationships we have forged over the decades.

“The FY 2021 budget positions NASA to spearhead a new era of human space exploration without focusing funds on one program at the expense of others. This all-of-NASA approach to the future will help us take advantage of all the exciting, new horizons emerging in science, aeronautics, and technology.

“The decadal survey priorities are strongly supported by this budget, including history’s first Mars sample return mission, the Europa Clipper, and development of a host of new trailblazing Earth observation missions. In aeronautics, the budget backs all our cutting-edge research on commercial use of supersonic aircraft, all-electric airplanes, and development of an unmanned aerial system that will make flying small drones safer and more efficient in the 21st century.

“NASA is on the cusp of embarking on era-defining exploration. The civilization-changing technology we develop will deepen humanity’s scientific knowledge of the universe and how to take care of our ever changing world.

“I am confident the FY 2021 budget’s proper investment in our agency’s priorities, coupled with your unmatched talents and expertise, will strengthen our national posture for continued space preeminence and, as President Trump said during his State of the Union speech last week, help our nation embrace the next frontier.”

To learn more about NASA’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget, visit: Budget Documents, Strategic Plans and Performance Reports

 

Record-setting NASA astronaut, crewmates return from Space Station

February 6th, 2020

NASA astronaut Christina Koch is helped out of the Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft just minutes after she, Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov, and ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano, landed their Soyuz MS-13 capsule in a remote area near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020. Koch returned to Earth after logging 328 days in space — the longest spaceflight in history by a woman — as a member of Expeditions 59-60-61 on the International Space Station. Skvortsov and Parmitano returned after 201 days in space where they served as Expedition 60-61 crew members onboard the station.
Credits: NASA/Bill Ingalls

After setting a record for the longest single spaceflight in history by a woman, NASA astronaut Christina Koch returned to Earth Thursday, along with Soyuz Commander Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos and Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency).

The trio departed the International Space Station at 12:50 a.m. EST and made a safe, parachute-assisted landing at 4:12 a.m. (3:12 p.m. Kazakhstan time) southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan.

Koch’s extended mission will provide researchers the opportunity to observe effects of long-duration spaceflight on a woman as the agency plans to return humans to the Moon under the Artemis program and prepare for human exploration of Mars.

Koch launched March 14, 2019, alongside fellow NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin. Her first journey into space of 328 days is the second-longest single spaceflight by a U.S. astronaut and also places her seventh on the list of cumulative time in space for American astronauts with one or more missions.

Supporting NASA’s goals for future human landings on the Moon, Koch completed 5,248 orbits of the Earth and a journey of 139 million miles, roughly the equivalent of 291 trips to the Moon and back. She conducted six spacewalks during 11 months on orbit, including the first three all-woman spacewalks, spending 42 hours and 15 minutes outside the station. She witnessed the arrival of a dozen visiting spacecraft and the departure of another dozen.

For Parmitano and Skvortsov, this landing completed a 201-day stay in space, 3,216 orbits of Earth and a journey of 85.2 million miles. They launched last July with NASA’s Andrew Morgan. Morgan also is participating in an extended duration mission on the orbiting laboratory and will return to Earth April 17.

Completing his second mission, Parmitano now has logged 367 days in space, more than any ESA astronaut in history. During his time in space for Expeditions 60 and 61, Parmitano conducted four spacewalks, totaling 25 hours and 30 minutes. He has now conducted six spacewalks in his career, totaling 33 hours and 9 minutes. Parmitano was commander of Expedition 61.

Skvortsov completed his third mission and a total of 546 days in space, placing him 15th on the all-time spaceflight endurance list.

Following post-landing medical checks, the crew will return to the recovery staging city in Karaganda, Kazakhstan, aboard Russian helicopters. Koch and Parmitano will board a NASA plane bound for Cologne, Germany, where Parmitano will be greeted by ESA officials for his return home. Koch will continue home to Houston. Skvortsov will board a Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center aircraft to return to his home in Star City, Russia.

The Expedition 61 crew contributed to hundreds of experiments in biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences and technology development, including improvements to the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer in an effort to extend its life and support its mission of looking for evidence of dark matter and testing 3D biological printers to print organ-like tissues in microgravity.

With the undocking of the Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft with Koch, Skvortsov, and Parmitano aboard, Expedition 62 officially began aboard the station, with NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Morgan as flight engineers and Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos as station commander. They will remain on board as a three-person crew until early April, when NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Nikolai Tikhonov and Andrei Babkin will launch to the station.