Innovations Success Stories

Aerospace Develops Monte Carlo Tool for Predicting Damage to Shuttle from Foam Debris

Background The space shuttle Columbia accident occurred in part because the foam fell off the tank about 82 seconds after liftoff, when the air was much thicker and slowed the foam so that the climbing orbiter struck it with great force. The Columbia and its crew were lost because a 1.67-pound piece of insulating foam […]  More »

Aerospace Provides Improvement in Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) Minotaur IV Launch Vehicle Trajectory

Background The SMAP observatory employs a dedicated spacecraft with an instrument suite that will be launched on the ICBM-derived Minotaur IV vehicle into a 680-km near-polar, sun-synchronous orbit. SMAP instrument includes a radiometer and a synthetic aperture radar operating at L-band with the ability to sense the soil conditions through moderate vegetation cover. The instrument […]  More »

Conclusion of Northrop Grumman Corporation (NGC) and TRW, Inc. Compliance Program Work

Background: On Dec. 11, 2002, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a proposed consent decree, permitting NGC to proceed with its $7.8 billion acquisition of TRW. According to the DOJ complaint filed with the consent decree, the acquisition would lessen competition for reconnaissance satellite systems and “payloads,” which are inputs for those systems. Under the […]  More »

Aerospace Performs Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Certification for Flight Readiness (CoFR)

Background: The MSL is the next-generation Mars rover. The spacecraft was launched Nov. 26, 2011, and is scheduled to arrive at Mars in August 2012. Researchers will use the rover’s 10 science instruments during the following two years to investigate whether the landing area has ever offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life. NASA’s Jet […]  More »

Aerospace Prepares Human Rated Delta IV Heavy Study Report for Human Spaceflight Committee

Background: The Review of United States Human Space Flight Plans Committee (also known as the Augustine Committee) was a group reviewing the human spaceflight plans of the United States. Their goal was to ensure the nation is on “a vigorous and sustainable path to achieving its boldest aspirations in space.” The review was announced by […]  More »

Aerospace Evaluates International Space Station (ISS) De-orbit Alternatives

Background: At some point in the near future, the ISS will have to be decommissioned, de-orbited, and returned to Earth. The end-of-life disposal of the ISS must be carefully planned to meet the strict safety standards required to minimize third-party damage and avoid casualties (less than a 1 in 10,000 chance of a casualty). Value […]  More »

Aerospace Provides Independent Review of Aquarius Microwave Radiometer

Background: Aquarius is a microwave radiometer/radar combination developed under NASA’s Earth System Science Pathfinder (ESSP) program to map the surface salinity field of the oceans from space. The Aquarius/SAC-D mission is a partnership between the U.S. (NASA) and Argentina (CONAE). The main instrument onboard is an L-band radiometer developed at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center […]  More »

Aerospace Conducts Radar Observations in Support of Mission Assurance for Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) Spacecraft

Background: JPL conducted interferometric radar observations of the south polar region of the moon in September and December 2006 using the Goldstone Lake Bed transmitting and receiving system in the Mojave Desert of California. The Goldstone Solar System Radar observations are formed by transmission of a 16.4 ms 500 kW pulse coded waveform and center […]  More »

Aerospace-Developed Independent Liftoff Acoustic Environments for Ares I

Background: NASA developed two liftoff acoustic environments for the Ares 1 vehicle using Saturn V and space shuttle SRB measured data. The second prediction in 2008 yielded substantially higher acoustic levels than the initial prediction of 2007. Value Added: NASA requested that Aerospace provide an independent prediction for comparison. Using flight data from the Atlas […]  More »

Aerospace’s Characterization of the External Tank Foam Debris Risk Analyses Critical to Shuttle Return-to-Flight

Background: Space shuttle Columbia disintegrated during re-entry on Feb. 1, 2003. Seven astronauts died, and the nation’s human spaceflight program was halted. Subsequent investigations revealed that the liberation of foam from the shuttle external tank had damaged the leading edge of the Columbia wing during ascent. NASA needed science-based analyses of this foam liberation to […]  More »

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