Dan Rasky, head of commercial space portal at Ames, thinks that with the new administration and administrator, commercial space will get much more support within the agency.
Build on ISS investment
Accelerate development of next-generation launch systems
Enhance ability to study earth environment
Lead space sciency to new achievements
Continue cutting-edge tech development
Support innovation of entrepreneurs
Inspire the kids
Rasky got together with Bruce Pittman and Yvonne Cagle and others to form Ames space portal. Hosted a workshop in June 2005 (with endorsement of Mike Griffin, before he went over to the Dark Side). Been supporting conferences and workshops, working with many NewSpace companies. Worked with Steidle to start COTS program (along with Neil Woodward, Steve Isakowitz, Brant Sponberg, Ken Dividian). Eventually moved to JSC with Lindenmoyer and Dennis Stone, and it has been running very well for a NASA commercial-related program. Other new initiatives at other centers: Langley, JSC, etc. that will be revealed in near future.
Started working with SpaceX about three years ago, to provide support with thermal protection technologies (one of the areas not available commercially). Also working with life support. Particularly focused on Dragon, thinking that summer 2010 is a realistic first launch (about a year from now). Meets NASA crew-rated safety margins and failure tolerances. Noting that Elon has had to pull a lot of components in house because he couldn’t find suppliers that would meet schedule or cost. Using NASA-developed PICA for Dragon thermal protection. Only supplier is Fiber-Materials Incorporated, but couldn’t get price or schedule he wanted, so SpaceX is now building in house. SpaceX materials tested at Ames, and passed in December. Very fun to work in such an entrepreneurial environment. Describing a meeting where Elon asked his opinion, and he expressed one, and Elon said, “OK, that’s how we’ll do it.” Elon isn’t building rockets to maximize profits, he’s doing it because he wants to get into space, and that’s a game changer.
John Hogan talking about advanced life support systems. Earth only life support system that can sustain human life indefinitely. Goal is to take a small part of earth (and systems that earth does, can’t live on power bars forever) into space. Earth provides ecosystem services, things that life does to maintain life — air and water purification, radiation protection, waste and pest control, etc. Small spacesuit like a backpacking trip (can’t provide gravity, but all right for short duration). Trying to evolve lighter smaller more energy-efficient suits. ISS provides much more life-support capability than a suit, but requires resupply. Just starting to learn to recover water, moving from perspiration and hygiene water to urine recovery. Still scrubbing and ejecting CO2, but working on systems to transform back to oxygen. Going to moon will stress technology more due to higher resupply costs yet. Will be treating waste, completely recycling water and recovering oxygen from CO2. Mars will require long-term systems, and long-term effects of waste recycling. Holy Grail is completely closed system for sustainability, which may have applications back on earth.
Want to continue to work with commercial partners for this kind of research and tech development, via SBIRs and STTRs.
Yvonne Cagle up now (astronaut, though she hasn’t flown, and retired flight surgeon from the Air Force) to talk about suborbital science program. This is new for NASA. They’re going to purchase rides on commercial vehicles to to research. Presents the greatest opportunity for weightless research (short of expensive orbital) in history. New opportunity for four-minute durations, for training crews, testing, and advancing TRLs in ways never possible before.
Not just about milestone and tech development. Also about work force development. Good opportunity to allow us to maintain research and astronaut proficiency when Shuttle is retired. Also supports public education and outreach with opportunities for hands-on research, both remotely and human-in-the-loop. Want to see human operators on the payloads once safety performance is established (2012 on). Want to see students not just fly research but fly with the research.
Big difference between 23 seconds and four minutes? You can save a life. Can takes four minutes to resuscitate cardiac arrest using compression, but never had enough time to learn how to do it properly (for zero-gee medicine) in subsonic parabolas. Good environment to learn how to restrain patient and equipment in medical emergency, and four minutes a lot more time to practice and train than twenty-three seconds.
Have had two workshops to figure out what you can do with four minutes. Puts up chart of twenty or so previous research areas that can be significantly improved by longer duration. Within two minutes you can actually see things that you don’t see in half a minute (e.g., observing how lunar dust moves through bronchial tubes). Showing chart of flight profile — “hybrid of sounding rocket and parabolic aircraft.” Dirty on both ends, but very good microgravity for at least two minutes. If organized, could refly the same day. Want to explore the “Ignorasphere” where air is too thin to fly but too thick to orbit. Shuttle passes through, but disturbs too much. These vehicles will be able to do sampling and monitoring not previously possible, and also pick up information on entry transition zones that Shuttle crew is too busy to study. Looking for five to ten times more experience in microgravity than we’ve had to date. Scientific community very excited about it. Suborbital transports combine best of both worlds between parabolic aircraft and sounding rockets. Much cheaper than latter, can fly with experiments, rapid turnaround, relatively low entry and exit gees. Has developed equation:
C3 – Commercial, Cost, Customizable
Times Delta Volume (lot more
U3 — User, Unprecedented, Uninterrupted
FO (U3FO) — Frequency, Opportunistic
Equals WE (Workforce development, Education)
C3 * Delta V * UFO = WE
Sees huge opportunities for technology development, career development, and public engagement.