Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I TOLD YOU SO! – a mixed bag of updates

In the first update I give you DARPA. Remember when I told you they had the cool projects, the ones we don’t get to hear about until they’re done? Well, this invention isn’t really about space but the robot they have and are currently refining has many abilities and I am sure some will be applied to space and in fact they probably are already making the adjustments!

Currently their first concerns are for Military uses as an unmanned tactical vehicle. They have given an open contract for development to the company iRobot. The current objective involves expanding/refining the inflatable arm to include control & sensor functions.


How about NASA developing products because of on-going missions and space conditions that have practical uses right here? Mary Ann Meador at the NASA Glenn Research Center is the study leader and scientist who with her team of colleagues has developed a new aerogel that they have made not only stronger (500 x’s more stronger! ) but also they are made from polymide which is a heat resistant material AND incredibly thin. This allows for use in firemen’s clothing, in home insulation, tent’s and sleeping bags, as heat shield for spacecraft reentering the atmosphere. Because it can be produced in a film-like material and is extremely flexible, there is a large list of commercial uses being explored.

ISS (Russian Spacewalk)

Just a follow up on the Russian spacewalk outside the ISS that started yesterday. The goal of this walk is to relocate the space crane so that they may install some space debris shields AND release a small satellite into space. The main thought behind most of the spacewalk involves preparations for a new module for placement on the Russian portion)that will both enhance their living space and make it more resistant to micrometeorites and debris. (FYI – the US completed additions to its portion of the ISS last year prior to retiring the space shuttles.)

On August 30th both the NASA astronaut as well as Japan’s astronaut will be doing a spacewalk where they install a power relay unit and set up power cables for the new module scheduled for arrival next year. Oh, and put a new thermal cover on the docking port.

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