Video: Morpheus lander tethered test with lateral translation

On Friday the Project Morpheus Vertical Takeoff and Landing rocket vehicle flew another tethered test , this time with a short horizontal translation included:


The Morpheus/ALHAT team successfully completed TT27 with ALHAT on board Morpheus’ Bravo vehicle, meeting all test objectives including ALHAT tracking & imaging and Bravo lateral translation and long duration flight. We’ve offloaded propellants and are purging the tanks. Initial indications are that ALHAT and Bravo systems performed nominally, with one exception…

Telemetry data froze on MCC screens during the flight and returned immediately after the flight with no apparent dropouts, presumably buffered onboard the vehicle. The MCC maintained radio contact with the vehicle (and Thrust Termination System (TTS) throughout the flight, suggesting a temporary onboard data buffering issue rather than a comm issue. The MCC also maintained video and direct visual observation of the vehicle throughout the flight, saw no evidence of loss of control or deviation from the planned trajectory, and allowed it to complete its full ~80 second flight profile. (The 1st hover duration was reduced by 10 sec, reducing the overall flight time by the same amount, in order to maintain safety reserves with the actual pre-ignition propellant load.) Though not a flight risk to a fully autonomous vehicle, the telemetry data buffering issue between the vehicle and the MCC will be investigated and fixed by the Morpheus team. The experienced Morpheus/ALHAT ops team maintained steady, steely-eyed focus throughout the loss of telemetry data, enabling successful completion of TT27.

The Morpheus/ALHAT team will spend the next few days de-integrating ALHAT from the Bravo vehicle in B.220 in preparation for shipping ALHAT to KSC for Free Flight testing later this summer and fall. With ALHAT mass simulators instead of laser sensors atop Bravo, the Morpheus team plans to conduct TT28 next week and a couple more JSC tests after that before packing up and shipping Bravo off to KSC in late August. We’re marching inexorably toward flying free at KSC.

Video: NASA Evolutionary Xenon Thruster (NEXT)

This NASA video describes the NASA Evolutionary Xenon Thruster or NEXT, which

is an advanced Ion propulsion system developed at Glenn Research Center. Its unmatched fuel efficiency could give a real boost to future deep space exploration missions — extending the reach of NASA science missions and yielding a higher return on scientific research.

Citizens in Space selects Greg Kennedy as astronaut candidate

An announcement from Citizens in Space:

Citizens in Space, a project of the United States Rocket Academy, has announced the selection of its fifth citizen-astronaut candidate.

Informal educator and aerospace historian Greg Kennedy will join four other citizen-astronaut candidates who are training to fly as payload operators on the Lynx spacecraft, currently under construction by XCOR Aerospace in Mojave, CA. XCOR expects to begin Lynx test flights later this year.

“We are pleased to welcome Greg to our astronaut group, “ said Edward Wright, citizen-astronaut candidate and project manager for Citizens in Space. “His experience and skills will help to strengthen our program and expand our outreach in new directions.”

Greg Kennedy is currently director of education at NASTAR Center, a leading provider of spaceflight training for commercial vehicles, in Southampton, Pennsylvania. Previously, he was associate curator for manned spaceflight at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC; director of the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas, Texas; founding director of the American Airlines C.R. Smith Museum in Fort Worth; executive director of the Space Center in Alamogordo, New Mexico; executive director of the Mid Atlantic Air Museum in Liberal, Kansas; and executive director of the American Helicopter Museum in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

“I am proud to join this program, which is providing everyday citizens with ground-breaking opportunities to participate in space science and space exploration,“ said Greg Kennedy.

Kennedy is a noted aerospace historian whose books include Touching Space: The Story of Project Manhigh, Apollo to the Moon, The First Men in Space, Rockets and Missiles of White Sands Proving Ground, and Vengeance Weapon Two: Germany’s V-2 Rocket. He was also a co-author of The Space Shuttle Operator’s Manual and Rockets, Missiles, and Spacecraft of the National Air and Space Museum.

Kennedy is a qualified spacesuit technician and commercial spaceflight instructor. At NASTAR Center, he conducts training for commercial spaceflight participants and suborbital scientists, along with various workshops and summer-camp programs which he has created for teachers and students.

Citizens in Space was originally known as “Teachers in Space.” Lt. Col. Steve Heck, a retired Air Force pilot and science teacher from Milford, Ohio was one of the first astronaut candidates to be recruited. “In 2012, the program was renamed and expanded to include a broader range of participants, including informal educators, university students, hardware hackers and science hobbyists,” Heck said. “Greg Kennedy represents our first outreach to the informal-education community. Today’s announcement is only a taste of things to come.”

Citizens in Space has purchased 10 flights on the XCOR Lynx spacecraft. To fill those flights, Citizens in Space is seeking 100 citizen-science experiments and 10 citizen astronauts to fly as payload operators.

Current citizen-astronaut candidates include Greg Kennedy; Maureen Adams, an elementary-school teacher and principle from Killeen, Texas; Michael Johnson, an aviation instructor from Dallas, Texas; Lt. Col. Steve Heck (USAF-ret.), and Edward Wright.

Greg Kennedy

New IRIS space telescope sees fine details of sun’s atmosphere

NASA releases images of the suns atmosphere (in particular the the interface between the photosphere and corona) from the newly launched Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) observatory: NASA’s IRIS Telescope Offers First Glimpse of Sun’s Mysterious Atmosphere –  NASA

Comparison SDO and IRIS solar images

These two images show a section of the sun as seen by NASA’s Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, or IRIS, on the right and NASA’s SDO on the left. The IRIS image provides scientists with unprecedented detail of the lowest parts of the sun’s atmosphere, known as the interface region.
Image Credit:  NASA/SDO/IRIS

This animation shows the IRIS in action:

And this video shows the initial imaging of the sun by IRIS: