Here is my top 5 list of videos from this year's Space Symposium. It includes a tour of the Internation Space Station (ISS) along with a few new satellites plus one of the new crew transportation systems that might replace the space shuttle. The space shuttles have been retired and Discovery made its last trip to Washington, D.C. where it is now part of the Smithsonian Museum (see Space Symposium Looks Forward After Discovery's Final Flight). The Space Symposium crowd was upbeat although many were disappointed that the shuttles were grounded prematurely.
- Touring the International Space Station with NASA
- The James Webb Space Telescope from Northrop Grumman
- SMAP Satellite Mission from Northrop Grumman
- The Alabama Space Grant Consortium and UAH
- Commercial Crew Transportation System from Boeing
Touring the International Space Station with NASA
International Space Station (ISS) is complete but its job is not. Regular transportation of humans is handled by Russian rockets and a Soyuz capsule is the lifeboat for the station. Todd Sampsel of the NASA Johnson Space Center give us a virtual tour of the station.
Space X has a launch on April 30, 2012 with an unmanned capsule that will deliver cargo to the ISS. The capsule will then return to earth to be reused. Eventually this may be used for human transport. Space X is one of a number of commercial companies competing for NASA's business which includes experiments on the ISS.
The James Webb Space Telescope from Northrop Grumman
Northrop Grumman is the primary for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) that will replace the Hubble as the main space telescope for the United States. I spoke with Scott Willoughby of Northrop Grumman about the JWST. It is an infrared-based telescope designed to allow astronomers to see deeper into the universe and into the past.
SMAP Satellite Mission from Northrop Grumman
Another Northrop Grumman satellite is the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) for NASA's JPL. Edward Keay from Northrop Grumman explained SMAP's mission and how the satellite works. It will provide global measurements of soil moisture and its freeze/thaw state and generates a new image of the surface of the Earth every three days. This should enhance our understanding of processes that link the water, energy and carbon cycles. It may also help improve our capability to predict weather and climate changes.
The SMAP uses radiometer and a synthetic aperture radar system operating at L-band (1.20-1.41 GHz). This is implemented using a rotating antenna that is part of the satellite. It is an impressive design because it must remain stable to provide accurate measurements. The measurement swath is 1000 km wied.
The Alabama Space Grant Consortium and UAH
The National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program is a NASA administered program that targets the national universities with interests and capabilities in aeronautics, space and related fields. There were a number of projects on display at the Space Symposium and John Gregory, PH.D. and a number of students from The University of Alabama in Huntsville. Their projects range from robots to satellites.
Commercial Crew Transportation System from Boeing
I mentioned Space X earlier. One of the other commercial competitors for NASA's business is Boeing. I spoke with John Mulholland of Boeing about their Commercial Crew Transportation System, the CST-100. This is designed to take up to seven crew members or any combination of crew and cargo up to 2800 pounds into low earth orbit (LEO) which is where the ISS is located.
The complete list of our video interviews from the Space Symposium 2012 can be found on Engineering TV.