February 5, 2017

Man Versus Machine: How Computers Replaced Humans in the Space Race (Source: Telegraph)
When the term “computer” was first used in the 17th century it referred to a human who performed mathematical calculations following fixed rules. Three hundred years later, in 1969 – at the height of the Space Race – electronic computers were in their infancy and Nasa still relied on “human computers” to perform advanced calculations because the new gadgets were simply not trusted to come up with the right answers.

The obvious need for reliability and safety on space missions meant that Nasa preferred to use proven methods and techniques. They relied on their pool of women mathematicians, who transcribed raw data from celluloid film and oscillograph paper and then used slide rules and electric calculators to turn it into standard engineering units. New film Hidden Figures follows the true story of three of these women and the incredible impact they had on American space exploration. (2/3)

NASA Seeks Partnerships with U.S. Companies to Advance Commercial Space Technologies (Source: NASA)
NASA is seeking partnerships with U.S. companies focused on industry-developed space technologies that can advance the commercial space sector and benefit future NASA missions through the “Announcement of Collaborative Opportunity (ACO)” solicitation. NASA centers will partner with the companies that are awarded projects under the ACO to provide technical expertise and test facilities as well as hardware and software to aid in maturing technologies that can enable or enhance space systems and closely related subsystems.

NASA's investments in industry partnerships can reduce the cost of the development of technologies and accelerate the infusion of emerging commercial space system capabilities into space missions. Topics include: In-space Propulsion Technology Development; Advanced Communications Technology Development; Reliable Electronics Technology Development; and Small Launch Vehicle Technology Development. Click here. (2/2)

Elon Musk Defends his Participation in Trump's Advisory Council (Source: Mashable)
Elon Musk, one of the tech leaders that joined President Donald Trump's Strategic and Policy Forum in December 2016, will not be leaving just yet, despite not being too happy with some of the Trump administration's decisions. On Friday, Musk posted a public note explaining why he didn't quit the council.

"Advisory councils simply provide advice and attending does not mean that I agree with actions by the administration," he wrote in the note that he shared on Twitter. Musk also said he would express his objections to Trump's recent executive order on immigration — or so-called the "Muslim ban" — at the scheduled council meeting on Friday. Musk says he believes "engaging on critical issues will on balance serve the greater good." (2/3)

The Evolution of U.S. Spacesuits From Mercury to Today (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
In order for humans to survive in the hostile environment of space, mankind has invented technologies ranging from rockets that lift them into space to spacecraft capable of sustaining us in that hostile environment, as well as the ultimate personal space ‘vehicle’ – the spacesuit. Designed to keep a person alive in the event of a spacecraft failure or while working outside of the spacecraft, a spacesuit must provide enough protection to keep the wearer alive in extreme conditions. Click here. (2/3)

Elon Musk Is About To Launch A Lethal Pathogen Into Space -- It Might Just Save Your Life (Source: Forbes)
February 14, 2017 won't be just any Valentine's Day.  On that day, SpaceX and Elon Musk will launch a lethal pathogen into space and deliver it to the International Space Station.  The pathogen is called methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, also known as MRSA, causes very frequent and difficult to treat infections in hospitalized patients. 

One of the main clinical concerns is that this superbug is rapidly becoming resistant to most currently available antibiotics.  Simply put, the pathogen is lethal and it's going to take a grand effort to stop it.  And that just might include space travel! After launch and once MRSA is on board, it will be used in a fascinating study to examine the impact of near-zero gravity on gene expression and mutation patterns. (2/3)

SpaceX Could Launch From KSC on Valentine's Day (Source: Florida Today)
If very tentative schedules hold, SpaceX could sweeten NASA's Valentine's Day with a launch of International Space Station cargo from Kennedy Space Center. Preparations for the launch, SpaceX's first from historic pad 39A at KSC, could include fueling a Falcon 9 rocket on the pad for a test-firing of its main engines as soon as the middle of this week. The "static fire" test will be even more important than usual to confirm that not only the rocket but newly installed ground systems at pad 39A are ready to go. (2/4)

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