NASA To Test 13 New Reusable Flight Technologies
January 22, 2013

NASA Selects 13 Technologies For Suborbital Test Flights

Lee Rannals for — Your Universe Online

NASA said it has selected 13 new technologies to ride along payloads for flights on commercial reusable launch vehicles, balloons and a commercial parabolic aircraft in 2013 and 2014.

The flights will enable participants to demonstrate their technologies, allowing them to touch the edge of space to see how well they will be prepared for the harsh conditions of spaceflight.

Las Vegas-based Zero-G Corporation's parabolic airplane, and high altitude balloons from Near Space Corporation will be carrying the payloads. The vehicles from Masten Space Systems in Mojave, Calif., UP Aerospace in Highlands Ranch, Colo., and Virgin Galactic in Las Cruces, N.M will also be using reusable launch spacecraft for the tests.

"These payloads represent more real progress in our goal of fostering a viable market for American commercial reusable suborbital platforms -- access to near space that provides the innovation needed for cutting-edge space technology research and development," Michael Gazarik, director of NASA's Space Technology Program, said in a statement. "American leadership in the commercial suborbital flight market will prove to benefit technology development across NASA, universities, industries and in our new technology economy."

A wide range of payloads are represented in the selection. The Resonant inductive Near-field Generation System payload from the University of Maryland will use the flights to perform preliminary tests on a technology seeking to hold a cluster of satellites in formation using magnetic fields.

Payloads will be tested on Astrobotic Technology Inc. of Pittsburgh's suborbital reusable launch vehicle, which takes off and lands vertically. The demonstration will examine how the company's automated landing system enables future unmanned missions to land on another planet or rocky and hazardous terrain.

Nine of the payloads will fly on a parabolic aircraft flight, providing brief periods of weightlessness, four will fly on suborbital reusable launch vehicles, and two will be carried on high-altitude balloons that will fly to 100,000 feet.

The technologies that will be aboard the payloads include the following list:

Flight on a parabolic aircraft:

-- "Structural Dynamics Test of STACER Antenna Deployment in Microgravity," Kerri Cahoy of Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge

-- "UAH ChargerSat-2 Parabolic Flight Testing," Francis Wessling of the University of Alabama in Huntsville

-- "High Eccentric Resistive Overload (HERO) Device Demonstration during Parabolic Flight," Aaron Weaver of NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland

-- "Assessing Otolith-Organ Function with Vestibular Evoked Myogenic Potentials (VEMPs) in Parabolic Flight," Mark Shelhamer of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore

-- "On the Performance of a Nanocatalyst-based Direct Ammonia Alkaline Fuel Cell (DAAFC) under Microgravity Conditions for Water Reclamation and Energy Applications," Carlos Cabrera of the University of Puerto Rico in San Juan

-- "Dynamic and Static Behavior of a Flexible Fuel Hose in Zero-G," Allyson Buker of Jackson and Tull in Washington

-- "In-Flight Lab Analysis Technology Demonstration in Reduced Gravity," Emily Nelson of Glenn

-- "Caging System for Drag-free Satellites," Robert Byer of Stanford University in California

-- "Reduced Gravity Flight Demonstration of the Resonant Inductive Near-field Generation System," Raymond Sedwick of the University of Maryland in College Park

Flight on a vertical launch and landing suborbital vehicle:

-- "Autolanding for Robotic Precursor Missions," Kevin Peterson of Astrobotic Technology Inc. in Pittsburgh

Flight on a high altitude balloon:

-- "Deployable Rigid Adjustable Guided Final Landing Approach Pinions," Jonathan Powers of Masten Space Systems Inc. in Mojave, Calif.

-- "Guided Parafoil High Altitude Research," Allen Lowry of Airborne Systems North America of CA Inc. in Santa Ana, Calif.

Flights on multiple platforms:

-- "Flight Testing of a UAT ADS-B Transmitter Prototype for Commercial Space Transportation Using Reusable Launch Vehicles," Richard Stansbury of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla.