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NASA Tells Space Cowboy Concept To Mount Up
by Michael Keller
Earlier this month, NASA awarded $100,000 to a Washington-based company to develop their concept for a cowboy spacecraft. The firm, Tethers Unlimited, has up to a year to develop a proposal for a craft that can deploy a net and tether attached to a winch to capture an asteroid and stop it from spinning.
The nanosatellite-scale system, envisioned in the artist’s concept above, is called the Weightless Rendezvous And Net Grapple to Limit Excess Rotation (WRANGLER, of course). The proposed system will use two technologies to stop a much larger and more massive asteroid from spinning: the Grapple, Retrieve, And Secure Payload (GRASP) Technology for Capture of Non-Cooperative Space Objects that uses inflatable tubes to deploy a net; and a winch-mounted tether that can exchange angular momentum with the object.
If it works, it could be an important element to decrease the complexity and risk of NASA’s long-term plan to collect and redirect an asteroid. Once caught and despun, the celestial object would then be moved to a stable orbit beyond the moon so that astronauts can explore it.[[MORE]]
“The leverage offered by using a tether to extract angular momentum from a rotating space object enables a very small nanosatellite system to de-spin a very massive asteroid or large spacecraft,” NASA said in its announcement.  
NASA’s award enables the company to try for a phase 2 award, which offers $500,000 for two more years of advancing their concept. The system could also be used to capture pesky space debris. 
Image courtesy NASA/TUI.

NASA Tells Space Cowboy Concept To Mount Up

by Michael Keller

Earlier this month, NASA awarded $100,000 to a Washington-based company to develop their concept for a cowboy spacecraft. The firm, Tethers Unlimited, has up to a year to develop a proposal for a craft that can deploy a net and tether attached to a winch to capture an asteroid and stop it from spinning.

The nanosatellite-scale system, envisioned in the artist’s concept above, is called the Weightless Rendezvous And Net Grapple to Limit Excess Rotation (WRANGLER, of course). The proposed system will use two technologies to stop a much larger and more massive asteroid from spinning: the Grapple, Retrieve, And Secure Payload (GRASP) Technology for Capture of Non-Cooperative Space Objects that uses inflatable tubes to deploy a net; and a winch-mounted tether that can exchange angular momentum with the object.

If it works, it could be an important element to decrease the complexity and risk of NASA’s long-term plan to collect and redirect an asteroid. Once caught and despun, the celestial object would then be moved to a stable orbit beyond the moon so that astronauts can explore it.

Read More

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Meet the 3-D printer robots that might build infrastructure out of Martian soil one day. The method they would use is called contour crafting, which would take the Martian regolith and extrude it in layers to produce habitats and other structures like roads. 

The concept comes from USC’s Center for Rapid Automated Fabrication Technologies, which is developing the idea for NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concept project. USC’s goal is to make contour crafting robots that can also embed electrical, plumbing and air-conditioning pipes and equipment. Click here to learn more about how the team hopes to use computer-controlled troweling to get other worlds ready for human habitation.

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generalelectric:

The Lunar Landing Training Vehicle and its predecessor, the Lunar Landing Research Vehicle, were developed by NASA in the early 1960s to prepare astronauts for the first mission to the moon. Built by Bell Aerosystems, the vehicles featured a GE CF-700-2V jet engine that pointed downward to cancel out 5/6th of the vehicle’s weight. Two 2250 Newton hydrogen peroxide lift rockets were also used to help simulate lunar conditions.

Three out of the five that were created crashed during training, with all of the astronauts, including Neil Armstrong in the first crash, ejecting safely. According to Armstrong, the Lunar Module flew better than the test vehicles, but the test vehicles were vital to the success of the moon landing. In his own words, “What the LLTV gave you was not so much the seat-of-the-pants dynamics as the real-world visual. That and the fact that, if you make a mistake, you can’t hit the reset button.”

Read more about the vehicles here. GIFs from NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center / YouTube

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Txch This Week: Flying Saucers from Earth and Medical Innovations

by Norman Rozenberg

This week on Txchnologist, we looked at innovations improving the medical field and the environment around us. First, MIT researchers have unlocked the mystery of what makes oyster shells so strong. Their discovery could make lightweight, translucent and extremely strong armor.

Medical devices continue to advance in leaps and bounds. The newest discovery can monitor the heart and perform other hospital-quality diagnostic functions with tiny wearable sensors. This marks a new step in miniature, flexible and wearable medical technology. Other diagnostic methods are getting an upgrade thanks to developments made with Google Glass. A new app developed for the hardware can scan samples and digitally send them out for analysis. This development by UCLA researchers reduces the need for nearby labs and might improve medical treatment in areas without large medical facilities.

Some optimistic news about U.S. air quality came out recently. Research shows that Americans are breathing air with fine fewer particulates. The new study shows that this measure of air quality has significantly improved over the last decade thanks to effective state emission control plans.

Buildings regularly suffer lightning strikes, offering a brilliant - and destructive - light show during storms. Scientists say they have devised a way to save buildings from Zeus’ wrath using laser beams. The high-intensity beams can guide lightning away from buildings.

And now we’re bringing you the news and trends we’ve been following this week in the world of science, technology and innovation.

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