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NASA Awards $14 Million to Universities for Supportive STEM Efforts

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Howard University student Miles Phillips gives NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins a demonstration of his work with lasers during a tour of the Nuclear and Particle Physics Detector Laboratory at Howard University, Friday, March 31, 2023, in Washington. Photo Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

NASA is investing more than $14 million in 19 U.S. colleges and universities to grow their STEM capacity to participate in critical spaceflight research and prepare a new generation of diverse students for careers in the nation’s science, technology, engineering, and math workforce.

“These awards help NASA reach students and institutions that traditionally have had fewer opportunities in cutting-edge spaceflight research,” said Shahra Lambert, NASA’s senior advisor for engagement. “We want the Artemis Generation to feel excited and prepared to join us in tackling the scientific and technological challenges of space exploration.”

The new MUREP (Minority University Research and Education Project) Curriculum Award was established this year to help Minority-Serving Institutions strengthen their STEM academic offerings.

“Current research shows that developing new curricular pathways or adding to an existing STEM curriculum can help these colleges and universities attract more diverse groups of students to the kinds of research that align with NASA’s needs,” said Torry Johnson, the project’s manager.

NASA awarded five institutions a total of nearly $6 million to implement their curriculum-boosting projects. The selected institutions and their proposed projects are:

  • Passaic County Community College, Paterson, New Jersey

PCCC Urban Climate Change Initiative

  • Prince George’s Community College, Upper Marlboro, Maryland

Establishing STEM Majors at Prince George’s Community College

  • University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Enhancing IDEAS at a Minority- and Hispanic-Serving Institution through research and education for underserved students in partnership with NASA

  • The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Edinburg, Texas

Remote-sensing and Analytics for Integrating Science Education with NASA SMD to Strengthen Student Research Capacity at MSI (RAISE)

  • University of the District of Columbia, Washington

Developing NASA-infused Curriculum and Experiential Research for Student Success in Space Technology

The MUREP Space Technology Artemis Research opportunity supports NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) by fostering and increasing MSI participation in research and technology development concepts that algin with the agency’s needs for upcoming Artemis missions to the Moon. The agency chose nine institutions, awarding a total of more than $8 million to carry out their projects.

“When we return humans to the Moon, it will be thanks to the creativity and dedication of researchers across the nation,” said Walt Engelund, deputy associate administrator for programs in STMD. “We’re proud to partner with OSTEM to foster the future of technology development and create opportunities for these institutions to contribute to NASA’s Artemis missions.”

The selected institutions and their proposed projects are:

  • Cal Poly Pomona Foundation, Pomona, California

CubeSat Technology Exploration Program (CubeSTEP)

  • California State University, Los Angeles

Additive Manufacturing on the Moon: Exploring the Potential of Laser Wire Directed Energy Deposition for Metallic Component Fabrication

  • Cankdeska Cikana Community College, Fort Totten, North Dakota

The Research and Development of Extravehicular Activity Gait Assist Device

  • Delaware State University, Dover

Constraining Exospheric Water Using Mid-IR Sensing and LIBS for Lunar Rover Missions

  • College of the Desert, Palm Desert, California

A Penetrolyzer for Extracting Oxygen and Hydrogen from Mars Regolith

  • Morgan State University, Baltimore

Muscular Atrophy Effects of Long Duration Human Exploration Mission on Vocal Fold Adduction for Airway Protection

  • University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Princess Anne

DREAM: Developing Robotic Exploration with Agrobots and Moonbots

  • University of North Texas, Denton

Protective Thermal Electro-Chromic Coatings (ProTECC) for Lunar Exploration

  • The University of Texas at Arlington

Rotating Detonation Rocket Engines for In-Space Propulsion: Integrating Technology Development with STEM Engagement

The International Space Station Flight Opportunity provides a ride to low Earth orbit for mature, flight-ready research projects that align with NASA’s science and technology priorities. This opportunity entails cooperation with NASA’s International Space Station Research Office, mission directorates, and field centers.

“These awards offer researchers a valuable opportunity to leverage the unique microgravity environment of the International Space Station as a platform or testbed, allowing them to conduct authentic spaceflight demonstrations based on their preliminary ground-based research,” said Dr. Kathleen Loftin, EPSCoR (Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) project manager. “By utilizing the space station as a proving ground, we accelerate the readiness of these technologies, bringing them one step closer to practical implementation.”

NASA selected five institutions to receive $100,000 each – $500,000, total – to complete their projects. These institutions and their proposed projects are:

  • University of Delaware, Newark

Impact of Temperature Cycles and Outgassing on the Fiber-packaged Silicon Photonic Transceivers

  • University of North Dakota, Grand Forks

Effect of Microgravity and Higher Radiation on Healing and Metastasis Potential of Omentum – ISS Flight Opportunity

  • Nevada System of Higher Education

A Compact, Non-invasive, and Efficient Vision Screening System for Long-term Spaceflight Missions

  • University of Kentucky, Lexington

KRUPS: ISS Flight for Telemetry and Recovery

  • Oklahoma State University, Stillwater

Effect of Synergistic Space Effects on Properties of Novel Polymer Composite Materials

The awards are made possible through NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement and funded by MUREP, which provides resources and activities to support underserved students from K-12 through higher education, and EPSCoR, which partners with government, academia, and industry to improve research infrastructure in select U.S. jurisdictions.

Both MUREP awards were made through the annual Engagement Opportunities in NASA STEM FY 2023 solicitation. The EPSCoR ISS Flight Opportunity Award is also an annual solicitation. All the awards listed above have a three-year period of performance.

For more information about NASA STEM, visit:

https://stem.nasa.gov

Source: NASA

aerospace

Sierra Space Unveils Dream Chaser Spaceplane: A New Era in Space Travel

Sierra Space’s Dream Chaser spaceplane ‘Tenacity’ brings a futuristic touch to space travel, poised to visit the ISS. #SpaceExploration

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Colorado-based space company Sierra Space recently showcased its remarkable Dream Chaser spaceplane at NASA’s Neil Armstrong Test Facility in Sandusky, Ohio. This private spacecraft, named “Tenacity,” boasts a design reminiscent of NASA’s iconic Space Shuttle, blended with futuristic elements like aerodynamic wings straight out of a sci-fi movie.

Dream Chaser. (2024, February 8). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dream_Chaser

Standing 55 feet tall atop its cargo module, Tenacity is scheduled to embark on its historic journey to the International Space Station later this year. The spaceplane is set to launch vertically on the United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan Centaur rocket, following in the footsteps of successful missions like Astrobotic’s lunar lander deployment.

Upon reentry to Earth, Tenacity will elegantly glide back using its wings, offering a safe alternative to traditional parachute and ocean landings for cargo and, eventually, crew members. Sierra Space’s CEO, Tom Vice, stressed the importance of rigorous testing to ensure the spacecraft’s resilience in the harsh conditions of outer space.

As Sierra Space prepares for Tenacity’s maiden voyage to the ISS in the first half of the year, the company faces stiff competition in the commercial space industry. NASA’s partnerships have already seen SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft successfully complete numerous crew and uncrewed missions to the space station.

Sierra Space’s bold entry into the spaceplane arena promises exciting developments in space travel and cargo transportation. The company’s commitment to innovation and safety echoes the spirit of exploration that drives humanity’s forays beyond Earth’s atmosphere.

This blog post is based on a cool article I read on Futurism’s website by Victor Tangermann.

https://futurism.com/sierra-space-reveals-star-wars-looking-new-spaceship

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Sonic Boom Startles West Valley Residents: Understanding the Phenomenon and Its Impact

Sonic booms: Understanding the loud surprise that rattled Buckeye, Arizona, and its impact on communities.

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Photo by Omar Barrera on Pexels.com

Residents of Buckeye, Arizona woke up to an unexpected surprise on Tuesday morning when a loud sonic boom rattled the area. The source? An F-16 jet from the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke Air Force Base. While the incident left many startled, it also sparked curiosity about the nature of sonic booms and their implications.

Check out the 12news story: https://www.12news.com/article/news/national/military-news/sonic-boom-heard-west-valley-tuesday-luke-afb/75-6bc006af-2b1c-4846-b5be-5652274a10f7

What is a sonic boom?

A sonic boom is an intense sound that occurs when an object travels through the air faster than the speed of sound (approximately 750 miles per hour at sea level). The U.S. Air Force describes it as an “impulsive noise” akin to the thunderous sound of an approaching storm. This phenomenon occurs when an aircraft breaks the sound barrier, creating a rapid change in air pressure that leads to the characteristic shockwave.

Luke Air Force Base’s Response

In response to the recent incident, a spokesperson for the 56th Fighter Wing assured the community that procedures within the airspace are specifically designed to mitigate sonic booms, preventing them from disturbing residents in the West Valley Phoenix area. Sean Clements, chief of media relations, emphasized the Air Force’s commitment to investigating the event and ensuring the safety and well-being of the local community.

The Impact of Sonic Booms

Sonic booms can startle individuals, rattle windows, and even cause minor structural vibrations. While military aircraft are capable of supersonic speeds and have been conducting faster-than-sound test flights since 1947, efforts are made to minimize the impact of these events on civilian populations.

Community Awareness and Safety

The recent sonic boom incident serves as a reminder of the importance of community awareness and safety when it comes to military training activities. As technology continues to advance, it is crucial for both military personnel and civilians to remain vigilant about the potential impact of such events.

Moving Forward

As investigations into the recent incident unfold, it is imperative for the Luke Air Force Base and the local community to maintain open communication and transparency. By working together, both parties can ensure that proper measures are in place to minimize disruptions caused by sonic booms.

In conclusion, while the sonic boom in Buckeye, Arizona may have caused a moment of surprise for residents, it also provides an opportunity to understand the nature of these events and the efforts made to safeguard communities. Through ongoing communication and collaboration, it is possible to strike a balance between military training needs and the well-being of civilian populations.

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The Aviation Industry’s Unaddressed Safety Costs: A Critical Look at the Recent Boeing 737 MAX 9 Incident

Recent Boeing 737 MAX 9 incident raises concerns about aviation safety and cost-cutting measures.

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By KirkXWB – https://www.jetphotos.com/photo/10884712, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=140503211

The aviation industry has been left reeling by a recent near disaster that occurred on January 5, 2024. During a flight at 16,000 feet, a 60-pound “door plug” blew out from a nearly new Boeing 737 MAX 9, leaving a gaping hole in the fuselage. In response, the Federal Aviation Administration grounded all 737 MAX 9 planes with similar plugs, with other countries following suit. While the media has highlighted the safe landing of the affected Alaska Airlines Flight 1282, questions remain about the industry’s approach to safety.

As a former United Airlines pilot now lecturing at Yale University’s School of Management, I believe the focus needs to shift from celebrating successful emergency landings to addressing the underlying issues. The use of door plugs to seal unused exits on commercial airliners raises critical questions about safety and airline practices. The industry’s cost-cutting measures often take precedence over passenger safety, as every functioning emergency exit comes with associated costs in maintenance, inspections, and staffing.

The U.S. aviation regulations dictate aircraft maintenance procedures, in-flight personnel assignments, and minimum standards for emergency exits. However, the issue arises when the same airplane is sold to different airlines with varying needs. While federal rules allow air carriers to disable exits and plug the openings based on seating capacity, it is unclear whether this approach is in the best interest of air safety.

The Boeing 737 MAX 9, a part of the 737 family of aircraft, has faced a series of safety concerns. Despite its popularity and high demand, the 737 MAX’s safety record has been marred by two fatal crashes and subsequent grounding. The rush to continue MAX development despite its problematic history raises significant safety concerns, especially considering its widespread use by major U.S. carriers.



These incidents underscore the need for a more thorough examination of the aviation industry’s safety practices and cost-cutting measures. It is crucial for regulatory bodies like the FAA to prioritize passenger safety over potential cost savings for airlines. As the aviation industry continues to grapple with safety challenges, it’s imperative for stakeholders to address the unintended costs and consequences of compromising safety in favor of financial interests.

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