NASA Establishes Translational Research Institute

To study ways to protect future astronauts as they prepare and one day travel to the other planets and throughout the solar system

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Enter a captionVisual Impairment Intracranial Pressure (VIIP) Syndrome was identified in 2005. It is currently NASA’s leading spaceflight-related health risk and is more predominant among men than women in space. Here, NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg of NASA uses a fundoscope to image her eye while aboard the International Space Station.Credits: NASA

Space news (NASA initiatives: The Transitional Research Institute (NTRI); researching and developing innovative approaches to decrease risks for humans associated with traveling and living in space) – Texas Medical Center Innovation Institute in Houston, Texas –

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Astronauts need to be tested and readied for space, a dangerous and hazardous environment for humans to work and live in. Credits: NASA

During the next few decades human beings will travel to parts of the solar system never visited before and the journey is expected to be dangerous, yet awe-inspiring. In order to reduce the risks associated with traveling and living in space, NASA has announced the formation of a partnership with Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Plans are to operate a new institute charged with researching and developing innovative approaches designed to help keep astronauts alive and healthy during long-term voyages to Mars and beyond. 

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Men and women react differently to the environment called space and research can differ between the two. This diagram shows key differences between men and women in cardiovascular, immunologic, sensorimotor, musculoskeletal, and behavioral adaptations to human spaceflight. Credits: NASA

 

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Astronauts need to be in shape to handle the rigors and hazards associated with living and traveling in space. Biomechanical Engineer Renita Fincke monitors Biomechanical Engineer Erin Caldwell as she performs a squat exercise to generate a computational biomechanical model in the Exercise Physiology and Counter Measures Project in Building 261. Photo Date: October 25, 2011.

Called the NASA Transitional Research Institute (NTRI), the new institute will implement a bench-to-spaceflight strategy. Their main goals to produce new treatments, countermeasures, and technologies with practical applications towards known spaceflight health risks. Medical problems like visual impairment intracranial pressure (VIIP) Syndrome, which was identified in 2005, and is currently NASA’s number one spaceflight-related health risk for astronauts. Plans are for the work to be done at the Texas Medical Center Innovation Institute in Houston, Texas.

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Marshall Porterfield is the new director of NASA’s Space Life and Physical Sciences Research and Applications Division. He’ll be leading the charge to protect astronauts as they prepare to head to Mars. Credit: Linked

“It’s fitting on the 47th anniversary of humanity’s first moon landing that we’re announcing a new human spaceflight research institute that will help reduce risks for our astronauts on the next giant leap – our Journey to Mars,” said Marshall Porterfield, NASA’s director of Space Life and Physical Sciences Research and Applications.

Time to get to work

Astronauts will be happy to hear this news and it has the potential to enable mankind’s journey to Mars and beyond to the beginning of space and time. The NASA Transitional Research Institute will help form relationships between scientists and medical laboratories and institutes looking to reduce health risks and performance barriers for humans traveling and living in space. It will also keep astronauts healthier during their space missions during the decades ahead. 

Learn about the Curiosity rover discovering evidence suggesting the Red Planet was once a much wetter world.

Discover how astronomers measure distances to objects on the other side of the Milky Way.

Read about the recent launch of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx to an expected rendezvous with asteroid Bennu.

You can learn more about NASA’s contributions to the human journey to the beginning of space and time here.

Learn more about the NASA Human Research Program.

Learn more about the work of the professionals at the Baylor College of Medicine.

Discover the Texas Medical Center Innovation Institute.

Learn more about NASA’s plans to travel to send astronauts to Mars here.

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The Next Generation of Electric Aircraft

A more energy efficient, light-weight electric engine for larger, commercial aircraft 

Dr. Rodger Dyson, NASA Glenn Hybrid Gas Electric Propulsion technical lead., and the science boys of NASA's Glenn Research Center are using Plum Brook Station's newest test bed to design and engineer the next generation of aviation propulsion. Credits: NASA
Dr. Rodger Dyson, NASA Glenn Hybrid Gas Electric Propulsion technical lead., and the science boys of NASA’s Glenn Research Center are using Plum Brook Station’s newest test bed to design and engineer the next generation of aviation propulsion. Credits: NASA

Space news (new aeronautics technology: Glenn Research Center; NASA’s Electric Aircraft Testbed (NEAT) – 6,400-acre site near Sandusky, Ohio, home to four world-class test facilities –  

The drive to create more energy efficient, light-weight electric engines for quieter cars that emit less carbon’s heading upward into the friendly skies. Engineers and scientists working at NASA’s Glenn Research Center are conducting the first tests of a new electric aircraft engine in their Electric Aircraft Testbed (NEAT) at Plum Brook Station. A new electric engine capable of powering a small aircraft carrying up to two people into the skies and possibly one day even larger commercial aircraft carrying travelers around the world. The successors of this amazing new technology could one-day power manned flight to the planets in the solar system and the stars beyond. 

Engineers conduct the first test of an electric aircraft engine in NASA’s Electric Aircraft Testbed (NEAT) at Plum Brook Station. Credits: NASA
Engineers conduct the first test of an electric aircraft engine in NASA’s Electric Aircraft Testbed (NEAT) at Plum Brook Station.
Credits: NASA

“As large airline companies compete to reduce emissions, fuel burn, noise and maintenance costs, it is expected that more of their aircraft systems will shift to using electrical power,” said Dr. Rodger Dyson, NASA Glenn Hybrid Gas-Electric Propulsion technical lead.  

Dr. Rodger Dyson, NASA Glenn Hybrid Gas-Electric Propulsion technical lead. Credits: NASA
Dr. Rodger Dyson, NASA Glenn Hybrid Gas-Electric Propulsion technical lead. Credits: NASA

What’s next?

The team of engineers he leads hope to spark a change in the commercial aircraft industry and manned space flight that will make a significance difference in aviation and aeronautics. 

“What we’re hoping to learn now is how to make it more efficient and light-weight,” said Dyson. “Next year we’re going to upgrade the size of these motors — we’ll use the same technology to test the higher-power stuff next.” 

“We look forward to making a difference in aviation,” said Dyson. 

Read about the X-57 Electric Propulsion Aircraft being assembled by engineers and scientists at NASA.

Read and learn more about China’s long march to the stars.

Learn how astronomers study the stars?

Learn more about NASA’s Glenn Research Center

Join the voyage of NASA across the cosmos here

Discover NASA’s Plum Book Station

 

 

 

X-57 Electric Propulsion Aircraft Being Assembled

Aeronautic engineers and technicians reach milestone in development of all-electric propulsion system

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The Italian Tecnam aircraft fuselage, P2006T, arrived in California and will be integrated with the wing for electric propulsion becoming X-57, or Maxwell. Credits: NASA Photo / Ken Ulbrich

Space news (New space technology: new space propulsion systems; SCEPTOR) – Armstrong Flight Research Center and Langley Research Center –

Traveling across the solar system using present space propulsion technology is going to be very time-consuming and costly in terms of the extra weight requirements for chemical propulsion systems. In order to enable future trips to distant bodies in our host solar system. NASA scientists and engineers of the Scalable Convergent Electric Propulsion Technology and Operations Research (SCEPTOR), under the management and direction of the Transformative Aeronautics Concepts Program, are working on the first all-electric propulsion aircraft.  

The Tecnam P2006T cockpit for the X-57, or Maxwell, will be the first all electric propulsion aircraft once the plane and wing integration is complete. Credits: NASA Photo / Ken Ulbrich
The Tecnam P2006T cockpit for the X-57, or Maxwell, will be the first all electric propulsion aircraft once the plane and wing integration is complete.
Credits: NASA Photo / Ken Ulbrich

Called the X-57 (Maxwell), the first all-electric propulsion aircraft will be the first in a series of scaled up models. During the next phase of the project, they expect to install the flight system and begin test flights. An important milestone on the road to designing propulsion systems capable of taking us across the solar system in a reasonable amount of time.

Preparations are underway to inspect, weigh and balance the Tecnam fuselage before it heads to Mojave, California, for wing integration. Credits: NASA Photo / Ken Ulbrich
Preparations are underway to inspect, weigh and balance the Tecnam fuselage before it heads to Mojave, California, for wing integration.
Credits: NASA Photo / Ken Ulbrich

“I am very excited that NASA Aeronautics has started the Convergent Aeronautic Solutions project where cross-center teams can propose revolutionary ideas that if feasible, can graduate that new technology into one of the mainstream aeronautics projects for further research and validation,” stated NASA Armstrong Deputy Aeronautics Research Director Starr Ginn

This artist's concept of NASA's X-57 Maxwell aircraft shows the plane's specially designed wing and 14 electric motors. NASA Aeronautics researchers will use the Maxwell to demonstrate that electric propulsion can make planes quieter, more efficient and more environmentally friendly. Credits: NASA Langley/Advanced Concepts Lab, AMA, Inc.
This artist’s concept of NASA’s X-57 Maxwell aircraft shows the plane’s specially designed wing and 14 electric motors. NASA Aeronautics researchers will use the Maxwell to demonstrate that electric propulsion can make planes quieter, more efficient and more environmentally friendly.
Credits: NASA Langley/Advanced Concepts Lab, AMA, Inc.

“Unboxing the airplane today was an exciting milestone for those of us who have been advocating for several years the need to design, build and fly an electric airplane, and understand the system integration challenges, technology gaps and showcase a new area of vehicle design space with distributed electric propulsion.” 

This artist's concept of NASA's X-57 Maxwell aircraft shows the plane's specially designed wing and 14 electric motors. NASA Aeronautics researchers will use the Maxwell to demonstrate that electric propulsion can make planes quieter, more efficient and more environmentally friendly. Credits: NASA Langley/Advanced Concepts Lab, AMA, Inc.
This artist’s concept of NASA’s X-57 Maxwell aircraft shows the plane’s specially designed wing and 14 electric motors. NASA Aeronautics researchers will use the Maxwell to demonstrate that electric propulsion can make planes quieter, more efficient and more environmentally friendly.
Credits: NASA Langley/Advanced Concepts Lab, AMA, Inc.

The fuselage for the new aircraft an Italian Tecnam P2006T left Naples, Italy and arrived at Empirical Systems Aerospace’s facility at Oceano Airport in California (ESAero). Eager engineers from NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center and Langley Research Center were on hand to inspect the fuselage for the first all-electric propulsion aircraft. Watch this video of its arrival.

“We’re all really excited. We get to see in person what we’ve been modeling for so long,” said Sean Clarke, principal investigator for the X-57 project out of NASA Armstrong. “We’ve been looking forward to this for years now, so there’s been a lot of anticipation, and to have it out here in front of us is a relief.” 

The equipment required for an electric propulsion test is ready for research. April 5, 2016 NASA Photo / Lauren Hughes
The equipment required for an electric propulsion test is ready for research.
April 5, 2016
NASA Photo / Lauren Hughes

Engineers working on the X-57 project completely inspected the fuselage, including testing its weight and balance. Technicians and engineers verified all modifications were made to the design during the fabrication process. This is necessary for the successful integration of the electric propulsion system into the existing infrastructure of the fuselage.  

“I’ve never worked on a NASA X-plane before, this is a very exciting experience for me,” Foster said “It has become very real for everyone to actually have some hardware to touch. Everything up until now has been on paper and photographs, so everyone is very excited, and looking forward to the next several years.” 

The electric propulsion system to be tested is secured at the top of the Airvolt test stand and instrumented to collect data. Credits: NASA Photo / Lauren Hughes
The electric propulsion system to be tested is secured at the top of the Airvolt test stand and instrumented to collect data.
Credits: NASA Photo / Lauren Hughes

After all inspections by engineers and scientists are finished, NASA’s future X-57 Maxwell’s scheduled to be sent to SCEPTOR in Mojave, California, where it will be housed during its modification into the first fully electric aircraft. The engineering team will verify the safety and operation of the aircraft’s all-electric power system and two electric cruise motors planned for the wing tips before the new high-aspect ratio wing’s integrated into the design. In the final design, twelve smaller electric propellers along the new wing’s leading edge will provide lift during take-off and landing, while the two electric cruise motors are used during flight.  

The experimental, high-aspect ratio wing designed at NASA Langley in Virginia, and fabricated by Xperimental LLC in San Luis Obispo, California will be integrated into the fuselage after final inspections are complete. The battery system used to power the future X-57 Maxwell was designed and developed by Electric Power Systems in California. 

During this phase in the development of NASA’s first all-electric, next generation propulsion system engineers and scientists will assess and reduce risks in the final design of NASA’s future X-57 Maxwell. This includes installing the two electric cruise motors, which are being designed and developed by Joby Aviation in Santa Cruz, California. If all goes as planned with the integration and testing of the aircraft’s all-electric power system, scientists and engineers will begin ground tests to analyze all flight systems. Culminating in flight tests for this first model sometime in the spring of 2018, if all goes well with the development and tests. 

Up, up and away!

Successful flight tests of this model of NASA’s X-57 Maxwell will be just one step in designing and developing the propulsion systems we’ll need to travel further into the solar system and one day colonize the Red Planet. The first electric propulsion system for the human journey to the beginning of space and time. Hopefully, leading to the development of propulsion systems capable of taking mankind to the stars and beyond. The X-57 Maxwell gets us one step closer to dancing among the stars. 

You can learn more about Scalable Convergent Electric Propulsion Technology and Operations Research (SCEPTOR) project. 

Take the space journey of NASA here

Learn about NASA’s Transformative Aeronautics Concepts Program

Learn more about NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate’s New Aviation Horizons initiative here

Learn more about NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center

Learn more about NASA’s Langley Research Center here.

Read about NASA’s Juno spacecraft making Jupiter orbit after five years of traveling across the solar system.

Read and learn about a recent sky survey that revealed millions of black hole candidates.

Read about a supermassive star nicknamed Nasty 1.