The International Space Station (ISS) is a shining example of technological achievement; it also is a testbed for other technologies leading to developments for future exploration on Earth and in space. Celebrating these achievements is the goal of the fourth plenary panel, titled Top ISS Technology Applications Enabling Exploration, at the second annual ISS Research and Development Conference.
Three individuals were recognized for their work in this category, accepting awards during the afternoon of July 17 as they took part in the conference plenary panel highlighting their research:
Richard Reinhart, SCAN Testbed Principal Investigator at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, in recognition of outstanding results from the Space Communications and Navigation (SCAN) Testbed – named a top Exploration Technology Application from the International Space Station in 2012.
Jill Mcguire, Robotic Refueling Mission project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., in recognition of outstanding results from the Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM) – named a Top Exploration Technology Application from the International Space Station in 2012.
Robyn Carrasquillo, International Space Station Division Technology Demonstration lead at NASA Headquarters in Washington, in recognition of outstanding results from the ISS Environment Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) – named a Top Exploration Technology Application from the International Space Station in 2012.
“These selected awardees are elevating space technology to a whole new level, executing tests and demonstrations that show we can improve our spacecraft designs and further our space exploration,” said Allyson Thorn, assistant International Space Station Program scientist.
The plenary panel, moderated by NASA’s International Space Station Technology Demonstration Manager George Nelson, showcases key contributions in technology research and development that will enable and advance space exploration goals.
The technology of the SCAN Testbed demonstrates software defined radios (SDRs) that can reconfigure their functions via ground commands while the SDRs are in orbit. This unprecedented operational flexibility enables adaptability for new science capabilities and increased data return, while potentially reducing development costs and providing a flexible platform to address anomalies and risks both in orbit and during production. The new SDR technology also provides demonstrations for the development and operation of Earth-based applications with remote reconfigure systems, such as distributed telephony networks and other power resource constrained platforms such as small handheld radios.
“It is a sincere honor to have one’s work both recognized and acknowledged for its potential to advance space exploration by selection as one of the Top ISS Technology Applications Enabling Exploration,” said Reinhart. “The SCAN Testbed project is the culmination of 10 years of research and development by a dedicated group of individuals to develop a software defined radio architecture standard, infuse the standard into space products and advance the understanding of software defined radio both within NASA and the software radio community.”
Reinhart continued, “Few technologies make the leap from laboratory to space, and our team was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to demonstrate and experiment using the technology in space, on the International Space Station. I hope that the recognition and awareness of the ISS award encourages mission developers to assess, consider and adopt this new technology to enable or advance their mission capability and ultimately enable greater science return from their mission.”
The RRM technology, also currently using the space station as a testbed, is a joint NASA and Canadian Space Agency robotic mission leading to capabilities for satellite repair and refueling in orbit. This reduces risks to crew members, adds to long duration exploration tools and provides service for the satellites that provide things like cell phone communications, television broadcasts, air traffic navigation and more.
“Receiving this award is a great honor as we are among so many deserving and valuable technology and scientific payloads on ISS,” said Mcguire. “We are proud to demonstrate the endless possibilities of satellite servicing technologies through the use of innovative robotic tools and techniques. We look forward to continued collaboration with our partners at the Canadian Space Agency in showing the world the maturity and breadth of robotic technology, as well as providing a sneak peek into the future on-orbit satellite refueling, repair and repositioning.”
The technology from ECLSS not only stands to advance exploration, but also already has found a second life on Earth in water purification applications using the sorbents and microbial control resin from the space station's water recovery system. “These simpler ground-based filtration systems have been used in disaster relief, remote villages where the only water sources are contaminated rivers and well water and street-side "filling stations" in places like Pakistan,” said Carrasquillo. “In addition, air purification system technologies have broad application, and development of systems to remove and reduce carbon dioxide can potentially benefit companies trying to solve greenhouse gas emission problems.”
“I am very honored to receive this award on behalf of the team that has worked on utilizing the ISS to demonstrate Environmental Control and Life Support Systems for future exploration missions,” said Carrasquillo. “This team has worked hard to define the goals, specific objectives and detailed plans for advancing our current state-of-the-art ECLSS systems on the space station to the system we will ultimately need to take humans to Mars. The station is the perfect platform for demonstrating and validating these systems.”
Additional award categories for these space station achievements represented during other plenary panels at the conference include top benefits and applications in Earth science, materials and education; top utilization of space station for medical advancements; and top discoveries in microgravity. The overall theme of the conference for 2013 is Discoveries, Applications and Opportunities. The conference is organized by the American Astronautical Society (AAS) in cooperation with NASA and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS).