Tag: U.S. Air Force

Texas Company Aims to 3D-Print Buildings on the Moon

Article by Mike Wall                                      October 2, 2020                                   (space.com)

• The Austin-based company ICON, known for 3D-printing houses here on Earth, just launched Project Olympus to develop a space-based construction system to help get a foothold on the Moon and Mars. “From the very founding of ICON, we’ve been thinking about off-world construction,” said ICON CEO Jason Ballard. “I am confident that learning to build on other worlds will also provide the necessary breakthroughs to solve housing challenges we face on this world.”

• Project Olympus recently signed a four-year, $14.55M Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) deal with the U.S. Air Force to expand the capabilities of its 3D-printing tech. NASA is contributing 15% of the SBIR funding.

• NASA’s interest in ICON’s 3D-printing construction tech is tied to the Artemis program for manned lunar exploration and permanent base on the Moon by 2030. Making this happen will require extensive use of lunar resources, including water ice (for life support and rocket fuel) and moon dirt (for building materials). A similar devotion to “living off the land” will likely be necessary for sustained human exploration of Mars.

• ICON will partner with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama to test a variety of processing and printing technologies using simulated lunar soil. “We want to increase the technology readiness level and test systems to prove it would be feasible to develop a large-scale 3D printer that could build infrastructure on the Moon or Mars,” said Corky Clinton, associate director of Marshall’s Science and Technology Office. “The team will use what we learn from the tests with the lunar simulant to design, develop and demonstrate prototype elements for a full-scale additive construction system.”

• ICON is also teaming with two architecture firms on the program – SEArch+ (Space Exploration Architecture) and Denmark-based BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group. “To explain the power of architecture, ‘formgiving’ is the Danish word for design, which literally means to give form to that which has not yet been given form,” said Bjarke Ingels, creative director at the BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group. “This becomes fundamentally clear when we venture beyond Earth and begin to imagine how we are going to build and live on entirely new worlds.”

• “With ICON, we are pioneering new frontiers – both materially, technologically and environmentally,” Ingels said. “The answers to our challenges on Earth very well might be found on the Moon.”

 

                         Jason Ballard

A Texas company aims to take its innovative homebuilding approach into the final frontier.

Austin-based startup ICON, known for 3D-printing houses here on Earth, just launched Project Olympus,

                 Corky Clinton

an ambitious effort to develop a space-based construction system. The program will eventually help humanity get a foothold on the moon and Mars, if all goes according to plan.

“From the very founding of ICON, we’ve been thinking about off-world construction. It’s a surprisingly natural progression if you are asking about the ways additive construction and 3D printing can create a better future for humanity,” ICON co-founder and CEO Jason Ballard said in a company statement.

“I am confident that learning to build on other worlds will also provide the necessary breakthroughs to solve housing challenges we face on this world,” Ballard said. “These are mutually reinforcing endeavors.”

Project Olympus will get a boost from a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract that ICON recently signed with the U.S. Air Force to expand the capabilities of its 3D-printing tech.

The four-year deal is worth $14.55 million, according to the Austin Business Journal. (You can find the outlet’s story

           Bjarke Ingels

here, but it’s behind a paywall.) NASA is contributing 15% of the SBIR sum, ICON representatives told Space.com.

NASA’s interest in ICON’s tech makes sense. The space agency is working, via its Artemis program of crewed lunar exploration, to establish a long-term human presence on and around the moon by the end of the 2020s. Making this happen will require extensive use of lunar resources, including water ice (for life support and rocket fuel) and moon dirt (for building materials), NASA officials have stressed.

A similar devotion to “living off the land” will likely be necessary for sustained human exploration of Mars, an ambitious goal that Artemis will inform and advance, NASA officials have said.

As part of the newly announced SBIR deal, ICON will partner with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama to test a variety of processing and printing technologies using simulated lunar soil. The research will build upon tech that ICON demonstrated in 2018 during NASA’s 3D Printed Habitat Challenge, company representatives said.

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NASA, FEMA Prepare for Sept 20 Asteroid Impact on California Coast

Article by Shepard Ambellas                               August 21, 2020                                (intellihub.com)

• In 2017, NASA and FEMA initiated a supposed fictitious response scenario for an asteroid hitting southern California on September 20, 2020. But is it just a drill? Or is it actual preparation for a real event while avoiding public panic?

• We have seen past situations when such a “drill” actually went “live”. In July 2017, a bombing drill became the actual London bombing. On September 11, 2001, a ‘military exercise’ became the 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center buildings in NYC. Last March, in a White House press conference, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blurted out that the coronavirus pandemic was a “live exercise” playing out. (see video here) In the background, a disgusted President Trump is heard to mutter, “You should have let us know.”

• The ‘exercise’ goes like this: A fictitious asteroid is discovered in the fall of 2016 heading in the direction of the Earth. The asteroid is estimated to be between 300 and 800 feet in size. NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory gives it a 2 percent chance of impacting the Earth on September 20, 2020. NASA tracks the asteroid over the following three months using ground-based telescope observations, and the probability of impact climbs to 65 percent. The observations are put on hold for another four months due to the asteroid’s position relative to the Sun. When the observations resume in May 2017, the impact probability jumps to 100 percent. By November 2017, the asteroid’s impact is calculated to hit somewhere in Southern California or just off the coast in the Pacific Ocean.

• However, NASA recently listed a real asteroid, dubbed 2017 SL16 discovered in 2017 (see here), as making a close approach to Earth on September 20, 2020. This raises a major red flag.

• NASA, FEMA, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Department of Energy’s National Laboratories, the U.S. Air Force, and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services have all been participating in this four year ‘exercise’. “By working through our emergency response plans now, we will be better prepared if and when we need to respond to such an event,” said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate.

• Previous tabletop simulations included a scenario where the asteroid is somehow deflected away from the Earth. But in this scenario, NASA JPL said that “the time to impact was too short for a deflection mission to be feasible”. Instead, they role play the forced mass evacuation of Los Angeles.

• “Scientists from JPL, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and The Aerospace Corporation predicted impact footprint models, population displacement estimates, information on infrastructure that would be affected…” according to the NASA simulation report, “… as well as other data that could realistically be known at various points throughout the exercise scenario.”

• “[U]nlike any other time in our history, we now have the ability to respond to an impact threat through continued observations, predictions, response planning and mitigation,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “It’s not a matter of if – but when – we will deal with such a situation.”

 

The National Aeronautics Space Administration and FEMA in 2017 devised and initiated a supposed fictitious scenario in which the two agencies would drill down on an asteroid that’s set to impact the Earth in or just off the coast of California on September 20, 2020, but is this so-called “exercise” really just a drill?

                       Craig Fugate

NASA claims “the simulation was designed to strengthen the collaboration between the two agencies, which have Administration direction to lead the U.S. response” but could the drill actually go live like so many other drills have in the past? (i.e. the July 7, 2007, London bombing, the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and others)

    Thomas Zurbuchen

“It’s not a matter of if–but when–we will deal with such a situation,” Associate Administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate Thomas Zurbuchen said. “But unlike any other time in our history, we now have the ability to respond to an impact threat through continued observations, predictions, response planning and mitigation.”

The exercise was designed to create “a forum for the planetary science community to show how it would collect, analyze and share data about a hypothetical asteroid predicted to impact Earth. Emergency managers discussed how that data would be used to consider some of the unique challenges an asteroid impact would present-for preparedness, response and public warning,” according to NASA.

Representatives from NASA, FEMA, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Department of Energy’s National Laboratories, the U.S. Air Force, and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services attended the initial meeting and will be participating throughout the 4 year long exercises which is set to come to a head on Sept 20, 2020.

“It is critical to exercise these kinds of low-probability but high-consequence disaster scenarios,” FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said. “By working through our emergency response plans now, we will be better prepared if and when we need to respond to such an event.”

The exercise simulates a possible impact four years from now in which, according to NASA, “a fictitious asteroid imagined to have been discovered this fall with a 2 percent probability of impact with Earth on Sept. 20, 2020. The simulated asteroid was initially estimated to be between 300 and 800 feet (100 and 250 meters) in size, with a possibility of making impact anywhere along a long swath of Earth, including a narrow band of area that crossed the entire United States.”

12:11 minute video on the 11/20/20 asteroid simulation (‘End Times Productions’ YouTube)

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Over 8,500 Airmen Volunteer to Join U.S. Space Force

Article by Sandra Erwin                           June 9, 2020                          (spacenews.com)

• On June 9th, The U.S. Space Force announced that more than 8,500 active-duty airmen applied to join the new military branch. Applicants include a mix of officers and enlisted personnel from 13 career fields. It was anticipated that only about 7,000 would give up their commission in the Air Force and transfer to the U.S. Space Force. The Space Force is reviewing transfer applications and expects that approximately 6,000 of the 8,500 will be selected for transfer.

• The response reflects the enthusiasm in the ranks about the opportunity to serve in the newest branch of the military. These men and women “made the bold decision to volunteer to join the U.S. Space Force and defend the ultimate high ground,” said chief of space operations General John “Jay” Raymond. Approximately 16,000 military and civilians from the former U.S. Air Force Space Command are now assigned to Space Force.

• Transfers to the Space Force will begin September 1st. For volunteers from other career fields, evaluation panels known as “transfer boards” will be scheduled between July and November, with transfers expected by February 2021.

 

WASHINGTON — More than 8,500 active-duty airmen applied to join the U.S. Space Force during the month of May, the service announced on June 9.
Applicants include a mix of officers and enlisted personnel from 13 career fields.

   President Trump and General Raymond

The number of applicants is larger than what the Space Force had projected. Officials said they were anticipating about 7,000 would volunteer to give up their commission in the Air Force and transfer to the U.S. Space Force.

The response reflects the enthusiasm in the ranks about the opportunity to serve in the newest branch of the military, said Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, chief of space operations of the U.S. Space Force. These men and women “made the bold decision to volunteer to join the U.S. Space Force and defend the ultimate high ground,” he said in a statement.

Approximately 16,000 military and civilians from the former U.S. Air Force Space Command are now assigned to the Space Force. The transfer process will officially commission or enlist military members into the Space Force.

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