Posts tagged with "nasa"

Technology illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Cityzenith Futuristic Sky Mapping

Digital Twin pioneer Cityzenith predicts futuristic 3D sky mapping will launch low carbon city flight revolution

Science fiction fans can tick off one more prediction turned to reality as NASA aims to optimize local travel and commuting by air above cities.

A key enabler is Digital Twin technology, a ‘real-world SimCity’ software able to aggregate vast quantities of data on buildings, roads, infrastructure, vehicles, and even the space above into an interactive 3D virtual model of a city.

It is the potential to manage integrated drone and ‘new age’ air taxi routes in the air space that attracted a nationwide NASA search, leading Digital Twin pioneer Cityzenith to be 1 of just 10 tech companies presenting to senior NASA officials at the prestigious ‘Ignite the Night: Aeronautics’* NASA iTech virtual event on April 13, 2021.

NASA iTech identifies and searches for cutting-edge technologies being developed outside of NASA that solve problems on Earth, but also having the potential to address challenges facing exploration of the Moon and Mars. 

The high-profile panel of judges includes:

  • David VoracekCenter Chief Technologist, NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center

Julie Williams-ByrdDeputy Chief Technologist, NASA Langley Research Center NASA’s vision for Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) aims to help develop air transportation to safely move people and cargo between places previously not served or underserved by aviation – local, regional, intra-regional, and urban – using revolutionary new aircraft only now becoming possible.

Michael Jansen, CEO of Chicago-based Cityzenith, said: “This will be the second presentation to NASA by my company and its SmartWorldOS software platform within weeks, and we are very honored and excited to be the only Digital Twin company at this prestigious gathering.

“It highlights yet another application for Digital Twin technology and growing interest in flight above our cities, a dream dating back to the ground-breaking 1927 movie ‘Metropolis’ and many sci-fi classics since then, but now set to happen as we move to delivery by flying drones and then human travel by zero-carbon air vehicles using electric propulsion.

“It will open a whole new dimension to city life; no longer will high-rise living and working mean people must literally come down to earth to go elsewhere.

“But there is a real pressure to act, too: The World Economic Forum has reported that ground level delivery vehicles in the world’s 100 largest cities will increase 36% by 2030, carbon emissions from all urban delivery traffic will rise 32% and congestion will be up by 21%, adding 11 minutes to an average daily commute.

“NASA introduced the air taxi concept in 2001 and the race is now on to create the first viable electric machines in a market tipped to grow 26.2% annually to $6.63 billion by 2030**.

“This new air mobility can also significantly reduce greenhouse gases in cities, a goal of our Clean Cities – Clean Future mission to drive down urban carbon emissions. Cities produce more than 70% of global carbon emissions (source: UN) and that’s why we pledged to donate SmartWorldOS to key cities around the world, one at a time, to help the most polluted become carbon neutral.

“We are also expanding to meet demand for our Digital Twin capability as the post-COVID-19 ‘Build Back better’ initiative grows; we have just passed a $2.5 million milestone en route to a $10 million Regulation A+ crowdfunding investment raise.”

Provided by:

World Digital Foundation

Allied Market Research

Film Premiere illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Twenty Pearls Premiere

COMCAST ANNOUNCES EXCLUSIVE PREMIERE OF
TWENTY PEARLS – A DOCUMENTARY EXAMINING THE STORIED HISTORY OF ALPHA KAPPA ALPHA SORORITY, INCORPORATED – ON ITS NEWLY LAUNCHED BLACK EXPERIENCE ON XFINITY CHANNEL

Comcast NBCUniversal is excited to announce the exclusive premiere of the documentary film “Twenty Pearls: The Story of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated”, arriving Friday, March 26 on its newly launched Black Experience on Xfinity Channel, available on X1, Flex, and on-the-go with the Xfinity Stream app.

From award-winning filmmaker Deborah Riley Draper, produced by Coffee Bluff Pictures, and narrated by Phylicia Rashād, Twenty Pearls closely examines the founding and legacy of the first Black sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, which is now regarded as one of the most significant and influential Black organizations in historyThe documentary tells a powerful story of sisterhood. In 1908, nine Black women enrolled at Howard University made one decision that would change the course of history. These college students created Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. For over 113 years, the sorority has influenced many of the most famous watershed moments in history.

Through narration, interviews, and rarely seen archival materials, the audience will see the sorority’s impact on World War II, NASA, Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) culminating in the historic election of America’s first Black and South Asian woman Vice President. Twenty Pearls features interviews with members of the sorority including Vice President Kamala HarrisMiss Universe Ireland 2019 Fionnghuala O’ReillySmithsonian Secretary Lonnie Bunch III, Anna Eleanor Roosevelt Fierst, great-granddaughter of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, International President and CEO of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated Dr. Glenda Glover and many more.

 
Watch the Twenty Pearls trailer hereTrailer
 

“This is an extraordinary time to look back at our past to serve our future,” added filmmaker Deborah Riley Draper. “A future where Black women are centered. Helming this documentary love letter to the founders of Alpha Kappa Alpha, the generations of women that followed in their footsteps, and to all Black women everywhere is an honor. This is an important history for all of us to know and understand.”

“We’re thrilled to work with award-winning filmmaker, Deborah Riley Draper, and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority to bring this exclusive premiere to the Black Experience on Xfinity channel, furthering our company-wide mission of investing in and showcasing authentic Black stories and culture,” said Keesha Boyd, Executive Director, Multicultural Video & Entertainment, Xfinity Consumer Services. “We launched this channel to help facilitate the discovery of stories like Twenty Pearls while providing a platform for emerging Black content creators.”

“Telling our own story is essential to preserving our history and uplifting the culture,” said Alpha Kappa Alpha International President and CEO Dr. Glenda Glover. “Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated’s remarkable 113-year journey which began on the campus of Howard University is punctuated by stories of history makers, ceiling breakers, public servants, and ordinary women who have changed the course of American history.  Through this beautifully written and narrated odyssey, this film highlights in undeniable ways the vision, courage, tenacity, determination, and power of Black women while putting to bed the age-old questions about the relevance of Historically Black Colleges and Universities and the Divine Nine sororities and fraternities.”

Black Experience on Xfinity is a first-of-its-kind destination of Black entertainment, movies, TV shows, news, and more. It features high-quality content from many of Xfinity’s existing network partners, at no additional cost, while investing millions of dollars in fostering and showcasing emerging Black content creators. The channel is the only one of its kind endorsed by the African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA), the world’s largest group of Black film critics that gives annual awards for excellence in film and television. Available at home on Xfinity X1 and Flex, and on-the-go with the Xfinity Stream app, the Black Experience on Xfinity will entertain, educate and uplift, featuring Black actors, writers, producers and directors. At home, Xfinity subscribers can visit channel 1622 or simply say “Black Experience” into the Voice Remote to instantly enjoy the ultimate in Black storytelling.

Visit Xfinity to learn more about the Black Experience on Xfinity and other Black programming available on X1, Flex, and the Xfinity Stream app. Visit Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated to learn more about Twenty Pearls, which premieres on March 26 on Xfinity and is free for subscribers, and will be available nationwide, on-demand, starting on March 30, 2021.

Wonderworks image by Cher Murphy PR for 360 Magazine

WonderWorks Syracuse Reopens

After a Year of Pandemic Closure, WonderWorks Syracuse Reopens with a New Exhibit

The moment so many people have patiently waited for is here. WonderWorks Syracuse will officially reopen on March 26, 2021. While Canyon Climb ropes course re-opened in August 2020, WonderWorks has been closed for nearly a year due to the pandemic. With the reopening, WonderWorks will have new rules and covid safety measures to help keep people safe and socially distanced.

“We are thrilled to be able to get our doors back open and welcome people to come on in,” says Nicole Montgomery, general manager of WonderWorks Syracuse. “We know that people are ready to get out and do things, and we offer a great mix of fun and educational activities, with something for everyone in the family.”

Some of the changes that patrons can expect when visiting WonderWorks Syracuse include:

  • Being cashless. Be sure to bring an electronic form of payment or purchase your tickets online ahead of time because WonderWorks will no longer be accepting cash.
  • WonderWorks is reopening on a reservation basis only, which will keep its capacity to 50 people. It will only be allowing 50 people inside every 30 minutes.
  • The hours will be limited to start with, which is currently noon–6 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday, and 11 a.m.–7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Tickets will be available for advanced sale soon.
  • There will be COVID measures taken, such as staff health screenings and guest temperature checks before entering. Additionally, guests over the age of two must wear a face covering and everyone must adhere to social distancing of six feet.
  • WonderWorks is providing sanitizer stations throughout.

“Come on out and have some fun,” added Montgomery. “We have a lot to offer, including ropes courses, laser tag, rides, science exhibits and more.”

WonderWorks reopens with its newest exhibit that incorporates student artists. CNY Art: New York Youth Art Gallery held its first annual contest, the winning masterpieces will be on display for a year.

WonderWorks ropes course, called Canyon Climb, is the world’s largest suspended indoor ropes course. It offers three levels and 81 obstacles. Additional attractions include laser tag, where people can have fun strapping on a laser tag vest and competing in a fast-paced, action-packed battle of laser tag, a 4D XD motion theater, and various fun and educational zones. The zones focus on weather, light and sound, physical challenges, space discovery, imagination and art.

WonderWorks Syracuse recently launched some educational programs, including virtual learning labs and homeschool days. It also offers group rates, scouting programs, sensory days, birthday parties and corporate events.

To see a full list of COVID-19 safety measures being taken, visit the site.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the site.

For information on the exhibit, CNY Art: New York Youth Art Gallery, visit their website.

About WonderWorks

WonderWorks, a science-focused indoor amusement park, combines both education and entertainment into one venue. With over 100 hands-on exhibits, there is something unique and challenging for all ages. Feel the power of 71 mph hurricane-force winds in the Hurricane Shack. Make life-sized bubbles in the Bubble Lab. Get the NASA treatment and experience zero gravity in our Astronaut Training Gyro. Nail it by lying on the death-defying Bed of Nails. WonderWorks is located in Orlando, Pigeon Forge, Panama City Beach, Myrtle Beach, Syracuse and Branson. For more information, visit their website and follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

Space Station Vacation

Culture Editor Tom Wilmer shares insights about civilian journeys to the International Space Station

By Tom Wilmer & Elizabeth Saylor

Today, even the best ultimate destination vacations are hampered by Covid-spector realities. Ubiquitous masks, goggles, testing and social distancing subconsciously ratchet up anxiety levels while simultaneously reducing pleasure and awe.

But what if there were a getaway promising out-of-this-world scenery, once in a lifetime thrills, a chance to make history and come away from it with a life-altering view of humanity’s totality — all possible without requisite plague masks, twinges of anthropophobia and hand-sanitizer-cracked hands?

Well, by thinking outside the box (or sphere, in this case), Directed by Roman Chiporukha and Erica Jackowitz, husband-and-wife co-founders of Roman & Erica, Inc., NYC-based lifestyle and luxury travel firm is the first company to offer such an epic adventure. Partnering with Axiom Space, seats are now available for a 10-day total “private astronaut” space flight  experience to escape earth’s confines, designating a low-earth-orbit space station as “home” for eight of those transformative days.

It’s only natural that Mike Suffredini, former director of NASA’s International Space Station, would be willing to lend his expertise as Axiom’s CEO to help  people experience the numerous social, economic and even cognitive benefits of space flight.

Hyperbole aside, space travel really is life changing. There’s even a term for visualizing earth from space: the “overview effect”, which is a profound sense of interconnectedness and euphoria whereby the viewer sees earth’s fragility, beauty and the oneness of all living things. Astronauts have even reported the cognitive changes re-made their perceptions of life’s purpose. Earthly, holiday vacation digital media memories are no match for life-affirming adventures beyond our atmosphere.

Aside from personal enlightenment, other private space-travel benefits are innumerable. For the industrially inclined, research and development opportunities from space’s microgravity/extreme environment will drive future discoveries unavailable on earth.

Scientific endeavors in the field of medicine, e.g. regenerative medicine, pharmaceutical R&D and accelerated-disease modeling– along with unparalleled possibilities for advancements in fluid physics and protein crystallization modeling, make the science/space coupling full of potentially profound discoveries.

Axiom Station will be constructed while attached to the ISS and, at the end of the ISS’ life, detach and operate on its own into the future.

And if a private astronaut’s proclivities are humanitarian, what better stage could there be to deliver a compelling message encouraging specific global behavioral change. No doubt, messages encouraging climate change awareness would strike an impressive cord with our delicate blue-dot planet framed by the cosmos.

So, how does one sign up for the trip of a lifetime?  Of course, would-be adventurers must be very healthy, and a thorough medical evaluation with a physician’s clearance is required. Once greenlighted physically, a 15-week astronaut training (spread out over almost two years) is held at space agency facilities — with the training purported to be an incredible experience even with feet planted on terra firma.

The launch team usually consists of three private astronauts and one career-commander astronaut. Learning to function as a team is crucial not just for safety reasons, but for building mental health ease and camaraderie. The fact that training  takes place in the same ultra-sophisticated, beyond-cutting-edge-tech facilities used by hero astronauts is heady stuff.

And then there’s the cost. With an all inclusive price tag of $55 million, it’s obviously out of reach for nearly all who may want to sail toward the stars… BUT for those who can afford to sign up now, their journeys will pave the way for the next wave of civilian astronauts and, within a relatively short period of time, drive down costs enough to enable hundreds, and eventually thousands, of eager space explorers to afford the mind-bending travel.

Though Roman & Erica, Inc. sold out the October 2021 flight, an extraordinary accomplishment, two seats are still available for the April 2022 launch. “We are the first travel company to successfully sell private astronaut seats for the ISS mission and are literally travel agents to the stars! It’s outta this world,” said Roman Chiporukha, CFO & Co-Founder of Roman & Erica, Inc. “We are thrilled to partner with Axiom Space. They are virtuosos in the private astronaut space and in the process of building the replacement to the International Space Station which is incredible!”

It’s been whispered that Tom Cruise is supposedly going for a 30 day mission in Oct 2022 with Mission Impossible director pal, Doug Liman. That would leave an extra seat, possibly, to chat up Top Gun while hurtling through space– hard to resist, right? After that, it’s your race to make a reservation with history. And if you’re not keen on travel to outer space, Roman & Erica will be happy to sort whatever else you’re interested in. We hear they have a waiting list to become a member and frankly, we are not surprised.

In this illustration, a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft is shown in low-Earth orbit. NASA is partnering with Boeing and SpaceX to build a new generation of human-rated spacecraft capable of taking astronauts to the International Space Station and expanding research opportunities in orbit. SpaceX’s upcoming Demo-1 flight test is part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Transportation Capability contract with the goal of returning human spaceflight launch capabilities to the United States.

The Wine Dark Deep Series by R. Peter Keith

“Turning My Time on a NASA Co-Designed Spaceship and Asteroid Base into a Space Opera”

By R. Peter Keith

It started in a museum exhibit.

About fifteen years ago, I co-founded a company to produce museum exhibits with core experiences that were high-end simulations. Video games built from ground up to be both fun and compelling educational experiences.

My first project as creative director was a dinosaur exhibition that reproduced 2.5 square miles of late Cretaceous Montana complete with AI dinosaurs sporting simulated musculoskeletal systems, digestion systems, and intelligence based off of both fossil evidence and analogs of behavior in modern day animals that occupy their same ecological niche. The landscapes and nutritional values of plants were resurrected from the fossil record of leaf and seed distributions.

Upon the success of that venture we embarked on a five-year endeavor to create an experience that would allow visitors to learn how to fly a spaceship. No joke, real useful knowledge. It would teach, among other things, the basic principles of spaceflight and the laws that govern it. And we wanted to focus on space exploration as it could plausibly be in just a few short decades. A world that we could experience within our lifetimes. It turned out that NASA was cool with some Sci-Fi.

As I worked on the design, a funny and interesting thought experiment-type question kept popping into my head: What if PBS had produced the original Star Trek instead of NBC? What would that have been like? Where would the tension and conflict and challenges arise? I felt there were tons of delightful possibilities inherent with that idea – but it was too big. Too big for the framing device of a museum exhibit.  We ended up using just the hint of it, but I never forgot it.

During the five years of the project, I got to work with some incredible people from NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Langley and JPL – which operates as a space agency partner in accordance with a different branch of the same program, the NASA Space Act Agreement Partnership Program, that my company is proudly a part of.

We created physical structures, space capsules and station corridors, and digitally re-created 22 square miles of the Lunar North Pole, encompassing Whipple Crater and all of its two-plus miles of depth, where visitors can eventually land and explore. We built 12 miles of an area of Mars called The Labyrinth of Night. And we didn’t simply look at a map and extrapolate something similar, our landscapes were simulated using NASA space probe data: laser scans of the surfaces of these worlds from the Lunar and Martian Global Reconnaissance Orbiters. When you drive on my Moon, you are on a surface that is accurate down to about a foot. Thanks to some fortunate timing we also got to study early results from the Dawn probe of the asteroid Ceres, rich in all the things humanity needs to explore space but terrifyingly distant. NASA helped us to design plausible near-future spacecraft and surface facilities designed to enable deep space exploration and colonization.  For example, the lander and it’s flight behavior was worked out by a member of the same team that designed the Entry, Descent and Landing profile for the Mars Curiosity Rover.

And then of course there are the laws of physics that govern space flight and the ways in which they acted upon a spacecraft (and the forces it would produce) often produced surprises for me. I had always been a lifelong space-geek but even so – this was actual rocket science. Other exhibits can do with a diagram or diorama, but this was simulation. Visitors were going to have to learn these concepts, learn about the technology and then apply that knowledge in a high-fidelity 3D simulation of that very situation. And all of it would have to pass the muster of these NASA advisors because it was premiering at one of the greatest of all NASA Visitor Centers. It was an exciting and incredibly rewarding experience but every day there was some new set of data or counter-intuitive process (in orbit, in order to speed up you need to slow down) to make me feel like I was being punched inside my skull.

I lived in this simulated world for all that time, building and refining the experience for future museum visitors—and it became real to me. I could envision the people who would live there and the challenges they would face, both natural, technological and – most importantly – those of human nature. Over the course of one long drive down the Eastern coast of the U.S., the plot of the entire first book of Wine Dark Deep sprang into my mind. It was as if I’d lived parts of it. Sounds silly, but I was so immersed it was true.

In fact, the idea and the world just kept growing and I realized there was too much for one book. It needed to be its a series. – and that the concept to govern the series should be my initial abandoned concept for the narrative of the museum exhibition.  The question that never left my head: What if PBS had done Star Trek? What would that be like?  2001: A Space Odyssey the Series?  Carl Sagan’s Cosmos Trek?  It would have a cast of realistic characters who made logical choices and the conflicts and challenges that arose would stem equally from human nature as from real scientific challenges. And each step along the way, as the story moved from a base of grounded science fiction into the fantastic, would feel earned.

Peter Keith is a co-founder and creative director of a NASA Space Act Agreement partner company that specializes in the design, fabrication and display of museum exhibits and interactive experiences. The first three books of the Wine Dark Deep series (Wine Dark Deep, Encounter at Jupiter, and The Odyssey), will be released on October 12. Visit Uphill Downhill Press’ website, his publisher, to learn more.

Challenger: The Final Flight

By Cassandra Yany

On Wednesday, Netflix released “Challenger: The Final Flight,” a four-episode docuseries about the tragic explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger.

The doc was directed by Daniel Junge and Steven Leckart, and executive produced by JJ Abrams and Glenn Zipper. It provides a complete look at the events leading up to the takeoff and includes interviews with family members of the seven astronauts who died in the explosion.

According to CNN, the series uses archival footage and home videos, along with interviews from officials and crew members to shed light on the poor decision-making and systemic failures that led up to the disaster, as well as the aftermath that followed.

Challenger took off from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral on January 28, 1986. Just 73 seconds after it launched, the shuttle began breaking apart, due to malfunctioning O-rings in the rocket boosters, which hardened as the temperature decreased. NASA had reportedly known about this damaged hardware for months prior, according to Vanity Fair.

The purpose of mission STS-51-L was to deploy a satellite to study the approaching Halley’s Comet, but it had been delayed multiple times because of technical difficulties.

The crew was one of NASA’s most diverse to date, as reported by the New York Post. One of the astronauts was a teacher, so school children across the country watched in class as the shuttle went down, engulfed by a huge, ominous cloud of smoke. The explosion devastated the nation, especially all of the young children who had watched it live.

Nearly thirty-five years later, we remember the passengers who lost their lives on that dreadful day:

Christa McAuliffe

Christa McAuliffe was a teacher at Concord High School in New Hampshire who learned of the Teacher in Space Project— NASA’s plan to fly an educator into space. NASA had hoped that this would help increase public interest in the space shuttle program. 

Along with 11,000 others, McAuliffe applied in 1984 to be the first teacher to communicate with students from space. She was chosen as one of two finalists from New Hampshire, then was selected to be part of the STS-51-L crew by a Review Panel in Washington, D.C.

McAuliffe took a year off from teaching to train for the space shuttle mission. While in orbit, she was planning to conduct experiments in chromatography, hydroponics, magnetism and Newton’s laws. She also would have taught two 15-minute classes— one providing a tour of the spacecraft, the other about the benefits of space travel— which would have been broadcasted to students on closed-circuit TV. 

The nationwide excitement of having McAuliffe in space was a significant reason why the explosion had such a lasting impact on the country, and was especially upsetting for young students who watched the takeoff or extensive coverage in class. 

Gregory Jarvis

Gregory Jarvis was an engineer for Hughes Aircraft who served as Payload Specialist 2 on Challenger. In 1984, he was one of two employees from the company that were selected for the Space Shuttle program. 

Jarvis was originally supposed to make his shuttle flight in April 1985, but was rescheduled to early January 1986, then rescheduled again, landing him a spot on the STS-51-L crew. From space, he planned to conduct experiments on the effects of weightlessness on fluids. 

Dick Scobee

Dick Scobee earned his pilot wings in 1966 and served as a combat aviator in the Vietnam War, for which he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal.

After the war, Scobee graduated from the USAF Aerospace Research Pilot School and became an Air Force test pilot. He was the commander on Challenger and died a lieutenant colonel.

Judith Resnik

After graduating from Carnegie Mellon, Judith Resnik worked as a design engineer in missile and radar projects at RCA (Radio Corporation of America). There, she performed circuit design for the missile and surface radar division. She later developed electronics and software for NASA’s sounding rocket and telemetry systems programs. 

Resnik qualified as a professional aircraft pilot in 1977 and was recruited into the NASA Astronaut Corps in 1978. She was one of six women selected for the program out of 8,000 applicants. At NASA, and piloted the Northrop T-38 Talon, trained intensely, conducted research, and developed different systems and software. 

Resnik served as a mission specialist on the maiden voyage of Discovery in 1984 for her first space flight from August to September. During this flight, she operated a shuttle’s robotic arm (which she created), and deployed and conducted experiments on a solar array wing to determine if there was a way to generate additional electric power during missions. She was the second American woman in space and the first Jewish woman in space. 

Resnik was a mission specialist on Challenger. After the explosion, further examination of the cockpit shows that her Personal Egress Air Pack was activated, indicating that she may have been alive after the cockpit separated from the vehicle to activate it. Her body was the first to be recovered from the crash by Navy divers. 

Ellison Onizuka

Ellison Onizuka served as a flight test engineer and test pilot for the U.S. Air Force in the early 1970s. After attending the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School from 1974 to 1975, he became a squadron flight test engineer there and worked as a manager for engineering support in the training resources division. 

In 1978, Onizuka was selected for the astronaut program and later worked in the experimentation team, orbiter test team, and launch support screw for the STS-1 and STS-2. At NASA he also worked on the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory test and revision software team. 

Onizzuka’s first space mission was one year before the Challenger explosion, on the mission STS-51-C on the shuttle Discovery. This was the first space shuttle mission for the Department of Defense, and he became the first Asian American to reach space. 

Onizuka was a mission specialist aboard Challenger. Similar to Resnik, it is speculated that he could have been alive when the cockpit separated from the vehicle because his Personal Egress Air Pack was also activated. When he died, he held the position of lieutenant colonel, but was later promoted to the rank of colonel. 

Ronald McNair

Ronald McNair received his Ph.D. in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1976 and became nationally recognized for his work in laser physics. After graduation, he worked as a staff physicist at the Hugh Research Lab in Malibu, CA. 

McNair was one of the ten thousand applicants to be selected in 1978 for the NASA astronaut program. He became the second African American astronaut in 1984 when he flew as a mission specialist for STS-41-B on Challenger from Feb. 3-11. 

McNair later served as a mission specialist for STS-51-L. During this flight, he had planned to record the saxophone solo for a song he had worked on with composer Jean-Michel Jarre for his upcoming album Rendez-Vous. This would have been the first original piece of music to be recorded in space. 

McNair was also supposed to participate in Jarre’s Rendez-Vous Houston concert through a live feed from Challenger. To honor McNair, Jarre dedicated the last song on the album to him and subtitled it “Ron’s Piece.”

Michael J. Smith

Michael J. Smith served in the Vietnam War, then attended U.S. naval Test Pilot School. After graduation, he was assigned to the Strike Aircraft Test Directorate at NAS Patuxent River in Maryland, where he worked on the A-6E TRAM and Cruise missile guidance systems. In 1976, later returned to NTPS for 18 months as an instructor. 

Smith was selected for the astronaut program in May 1980, in which he served as a commander in the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory, the Deputy Chief of Aircraft Operations, the Technical Assistant to the Director, and the Flights Operations Directorate. 

Smith was the pilot for Challenger, and was set to pilot another mission the following fall. His voice was the last heard on the flight deck tape recorder with his final words being “Uh oh.”

All seven passengers were awarded with the Congressional Space Medal of Honor in 2004.

The Avalanches × The International Space Orchestra

Today, The Avalanches and The International Space Orchestra (ISO) come together to share their collaborative music video for the Australian alt-rock/electronica pioneers’ new track, “Wherever You Go” ft. Jamie xx, Neneh Cherry and CLYPSO. The video, filmed live during lockdown, is a meteorite shower of space science, planet-poking and harp-playing spacecraft operators coming together with The Avalanches’ Robbie Chater and Tony DiBlasi in the most cosmic collaboration imaginable. The clip, which marks the first time The Avalanches have appeared in a music video, can be viewed here.

Robbie Chater and Tony DiBlasi of The Avalanches say “We are forever grateful to Dr. Nelly Ben Hayoun-Stépanian and The International Space Orchestra for a truly magical, inspiring and connective experience. During a hard lockdown, it has renewed our faith in music, humanity and the power of connection, science and love.”

“We have so much respect for all those at NASA and SETI Institute and the work they do pushing the boundaries of human exploration, in trying to find the answers to the universe, and who and what lay beyond our neighborhood.”

As part of a musical collaboration, The Avalanches also worked on developing a sonification of the Arecibo message created by SETI Institute co-founder Frank Drake, who shared the original message with the band.

“We would also like to thank Dr. Frank Marchis and Dr. Frank Drake for all their help in deciphering the Arecibo message for inclusion on our upcoming project. It’s the first time this message has been translated into music,” added Chater and DiBlasi.

Created in 2012, ISO is directed by SETI Institute Designer of Experiences Nelly Ben Hayoun-Stépanian along with musical director Evan Price. Under Ben Hayoun-Stépanian’s leadership, ISO has performed sold-out shows on some of California’s most prestigious stages, including San Francisco Symphony Hall, The Fillmore and the Hollywood Bowl with world-renowned, Grammy award-winning artists such as Bobby Womack, Damon Albarn, Beck, Sigur Rós, Maywa Denki and Savages.

Of the collaboration, Ben Hayoun-Stépanian says, “The Avalanches have been working on a space inspired album for a few years now. Researching sounds coming from space, they came across the brilliant work developed by our scientists at the SETI Institute and by the International Space Orchestra. Very quickly, it became apparent that our musical collaboration should focus on further inspiring new perspectives and desires to understand the universe. In the current context we could not make our performance happen in real life, but we decided to make it happen regardless and this performance is the result of our online meetups. We hope that our performance will allow for further curiosity and interest to research further galaxies and extraterrestrial intelligence and life. Working with The Avalanches has been our greatest honour, one of the most cosmic experiences we have encountered. Robbie and Tony are truly inspiring, kind, caring and just too brilliantly talented. Thank you to them for having us at the International Space Orchestra and the SETI Institute a part of their outer-space musical journey.”

Released in July 2020 by Astralwerks, “Wherever You Go” ft. Jamie xx, Neneh Cherry and CLYPSO is an epic track that begins with greetings from planet Earth, sampled from The Voyager Golden Record, a gold-plated copper disk launched into space by Voyager 1 and 2 in 1977. The New York Times said,  “The track moves from buzzy, beeping, tinkling abstraction to a thumping dance floor,” while PASTE Magazine hailed “Wherever You Go” as one of the “Best Songs Of The Week.”

FOLLOW THE AVALANCHES: Website | Instagram | Facebook | YouTube

FOLLOW THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE ORCHESTRA: Website

FOLLOW THE SETI INSTITUTE: Website | Facebook | YouTube | Twitter

FOLLOW NELLY BEN HAYOUN-STÉPANIAN: Website | Instagram | Facebook | YouTube | Twitter

'Bending Arc' by Janet Echelman. Photo Credit: by Brian Adams courtesy of Studio Echelman

Civil Rights Sculpture

On July 6, 2020, the new St. Pete Pier™ and its St. Pete Pier District debuted world-renowned artist Janet Echelman’s latest large-scale aerial sculpture. The work, which was inspired by both the destination and its connection to the Civil Rights Movement, incorporates materials and technology utilized by NASA. Entitled ‘Bending Arc,’ the aerial sculpture is composed of 1,662,528 knots and 180 miles of twine and spans 424 feet, reaching 72 feet at its tallest point. Named an Architectural Digest Innovator for “changing the very essence of urban spaces,” Echelman and her work defy categorization.

Echelman’s artwork offers visitors an oasis where they can seek a moment of calm sensory experience and heightened awareness of nature and our place within it. “The sky is the canvas for my artwork,” says Echelman.

Embracing change, the monumental sculpture gently billows above the Pier District, allowing the wind to create a choreography of constantly changing shape in the sculpture’s soft surface. The sculpture’s color also transforms at every moment while its surface interplays with natural and projected light. In daytime the sculpture casts shadow drawings on the park and people below, and at night it transforms into a glowing beacon of magenta and violet light. Images available here.

How It’s Made

The technical design process utilizes custom proprietary software that allows Echelman’s team to perform soft-body 3D modeling of the monumental design while understanding the constraints of the craft, and shows digital responses to the forces of gravity and wind.

First, the artist extrudes custom color PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene) into fiber. PTFE is a highly-engineered technical fiber that retains its strength under UV exposure, and for this reason has historically been used to coat astronauts’ spacesuits.

Then the artist mixes multiple fiber colors together and braids them into twine. The blended colors of twines are wrapped onto bobbins and loaded onto looms which knot lengths of diamond mesh netting. Mesh is hand-cut and hand-knotted together to sculpt complex geometric forms.

Separately, UHMWPE (Ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene) fiber is braided into ropes. This fiber is 15 times stronger than steel by weight and was used by NASA to tether the Mars Rover. These ropes are spliced by hand to create the 420 ft rope structure using a method that fishermen and mariners have used for centuries. Then the net is meticulously hand-knotted to the rope structure.

Cranes arrive on site to pull the ropes into tension at maximum force levels of 65 tons at top of masts. The net and rope structure has been engineered by Arup to withstand a design wind load of 150 mph.

The sculpture is illuminated with sustainable low-energy LED lights which project a combination of colors designed by the artist to transform the sculpture at night into a glowing beacon.

About ‘Bending Arc’ and Janet Echelman

The internationally-renowned artist, born and raised along the shores of Tampa Bay, was inspired by historical postcards depicting blue and white striped beach parasols together with the geometric forms made by colonies of barnacles growing on the underside of the pier itself. The sculpture’s design in aerial view can be read as three barnacle-like parasols nestled together.

As she continued her design process, she learned of the site’s important Civil Rights Movement significance, as the place where local citizens began peacefully challenging racial barriers, leading to the 1957 US Supreme Court case ruling which upheld the rights of all citizens to enjoy use of the municipal beach and swimming pool without discrimination. The sculpture’s geometry in section is composed of multiple arcs, which gently billow in the wind. The artist titled the sculpture Bending Arc in reference to MLK’s words: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

Echelman’s work has been celebrated for enlivening cities and have become focal points for urban life on five continents, from Singapore, Sydney, Shanghai, and Santiago, to Beijing, Boston, New York and London. Her experiential sculptures such as her permanent works in Porto, Vancouver, San Francisco, West Hollywood, Phoenix, Eugene, Greensboro, Philadelphia, and Seattle transform daily with colored light and the natural movement of wind.

About the St. Pete Pier

Janet Echelman was commissioned to create a monumental aerial sculpture for the Pier District which is also receiving multiple accolades for its future-forward design, an ambitious and sustainable infrastructure that not only embraces, but empowers St. Petersburg’s growth. It encompasses many things from economic development, urban resilience and environmental awareness to equity, access, enjoyment and recreation – designed to be as rich in use now as it will be in twenty years, fifty years and beyond.

Mars illustrated by Mina Tocalini for 360 MAGAZINE.

NASA Webinar 

By Andrew de Naray, Multimedia Content Writer & Editor, Space Foundation

Seventh grader Alex Mather, who won the contest to name NASA’s new Mars rover on March 5, could not have had any idea how truly appropriate his submission of the name Perseverance would come to be. Yet, true to that name, and despite COVID-19-related setbacks to NASA and affiliated teams, the scheduled launch of the rover has stayed on track, currently slated for July 30.

On July 20, in the second episode of its new webinar series, “Space Foundation Presents,” Space Foundation hosted an exclusive conversation with NASA and Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) leadership to discuss America’s next mission to Mars.

The hour-long discussion, “Roving the Red Planet: Perseverance, Ingenuity, and the Next Generation of Explorers,” featured a distinguished panel including: the Honorable Jim Bridenstine, NASA Administrator; Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate; Dr. Michael M. Watkins, Director of NASA JPL; and MiMi Aung, Project Manager at NASA JPL.

Opening comments by Space Foundation CEO Tom Zelibor, contrasted the historic Apollo 11 lunar landing that had occurred 51 years to the day before, with the fact that the United Arab Emirates (UAE), China, and the U.S. have all recently launched Mars probes. “While this is a source of great national pride for each of these nations, globally we can celebrate what we can learn and achieve when we invest in people, curiosity, and the pursuit of bold, challenging frontiers,” he said. “At no other time in our history have we seen anything like what is unfolding with these three unique missions to Mars. Each of them is a science and engineering marvel.”

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine started off by citing his long relationship with the Space Foundation and its, “great scholarly work and studies, and the great committees put together with regard to space,” before passing the virtual podium to Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate. Zurbuchen started by congratulating the UAE for the successful launch of their Hope orbiter, saying that, “Together, Hope and Perseverance are essential ingredients of exploration.”

Moving on to Perseverance, Zurbuchen said, “Next week, the United States returns to Mars. It’s the next step in putting together a puzzle we’ve been working on for centuries.” After a brief recap of past Mars missions, he set apart Perseverance by its impressive capabilities that will provide essential research into whether Mars has the elements required to sustain human life. Perseverance — the ninth U.S. mission to Mars and the fifth rover to land there — he described as, “the most capable robotic scientist ever sent to the surface of another planet.” He touted the rover’s capability to detect, collect, and return Martian samples to Earth so researchers can better understand the weather and atmosphere on the planet.

Zurbuchen said that the rover would be the first to bring “all human senses” to Mars, with a suite of tools to analyze the weather, determine if the atmosphere contains elements that can be converted into breathable air, probes to access ice beneath the surface, various cameras to provide never-before-seen images, and microphones to hear sounds from the Red Planet for the very first time.

Among those components, and perhaps most eagerly anticipated is the Mars Ingenuity helicopter, providing “powered flight on another planet for the first time.” He also mentioned how this mission unites and sustains international space agency relations, saying, “Perseverance carries the goodwill of the entire space community… It reinforces NASA’s commitment to working with our international partners to accomplish stunning achievements in science, technology, and exploration. So, when Perseverance launches — it takes us all. Every one of us will have a chance to learn from and be inspired by this mission.”

The next guest in the webinar was Dr. Michael M. Watkins, Director of NASA JPL, who starting by expressing how proud he was of the 1,000-plus team members who built and will operate the rover. He explained that COVID-19 struck at possibly the most critical juncture of the project and heralded the perseverance of the United Launch Alliance (ULA), JPL, and NASA Kennedy Space Center (KSC) teams through pandemic lockdowns.

Watkins shared that the rover would land in February 2021, and that the teams had done exhaustive analysis of data from previous probes to pinpoint the Jezero Crater as being the best location to base the rover, given it had the greatest likelihood of containing biosignatures indicative of past habitability and prior life on the planet.

“Really, this mission, we’re out there trying to find something we’ve never found before on another planet, and then we’re trying to capture it, and isolate it, and bring those samples back to take a close look at them,” he said. Watkins added further that some of Perseverance’s tasks will be “technical demonstration experiments” designed to push the limits of current technology and test capabilities that can be implemented for future missions.

The conversation then moved to MiMi Aung, Project Manager at NASA JPL, who described the Mars Ingenuity helicopter component of the rover as a “Wright Brothers moment,” as it will be the first aircraft to be flown on another planet. Although one might think that helicopters would be relatively simple aircraft to NASA scientists, it turns out building one light enough (under 2 kilograms) and propelled fast enough to take flight in Mars’ thin atmosphere (about 1% that of Earth) was no simple task.

Aung described how the helicopter was tested in a simulated Martian environment, but added that the true test now awaits its deployment. She expounded on the high risk/high reward first-time nature of many of the rover’s functions, adding how their experiences operating these functions in situ, “will be feeding into future, much more capable, rotorcraft that we envision, and really add that aerial dimension to space exploration.”

Returning to the topic of the Red Planet itself, NASA Administrator Bridenstine explained that two-thirds of the northern hemisphere of Mars had historically been covered with water, and that the planet once had a thick atmosphere protecting it from the radiation of space. With those characteristics, the planet may have been previously habitable — if not necessarily inhabited — and it makes a case as to why signs of ancient life are likely to be discovered.

Bridenstine said, “the probability of finding life on another world just went up again,” and continued to describe the Jezero Crater as an area believed to contain liquid water 12 kilometers beneath the surface, of which the rover will be able to cache samples. “All of these robotic precursor missions are leading to something that I think is even more magnificent —and that is, to a day when we plant an American flag on Mars,” he said.

In the question-and-answer session that followed, an audience member asked the panel why there was a need to return to Mars with another probe, in addition to those we already have there. Zurbuchen framed that as being part of the effort to accelerate crewed missions to the planet — that much of it has to do with needing samples to be returned to Earth sooner than possible with the existing rovers. “The questions that we want to address now, are really so much different than the ones that 20 years ago we might have asked,” he said in reference to the existing rovers.

Bridenstine added that the surface area of Mars is equivalent to that of Earth (minus our oceans) and that the characteristics and potential resources of the entire planet cannot be determined based on data gathered in a single area of it.

As it turns out, 2020 is the year of perseverance in more ways than any of us could have imagined at the outset. Reflecting on why, beyond atmospheric launch windows, it was important to keep the mission on track, and how it will be internationally inspiring amid a global pandemic and geopolitical strife, Bridenstine explained, “Space exploration brings people together in a way that I think is inspirational in and of itself… I do believe, without question, we need to persevere in these challenging times.”

Headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Space Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and the world’s premier organization dedicated to inspiring, educating, connecting, and advocating on behalf of the global space community. Through its newly established Center for Innovation and Education, Space Foundation partners with a diverse spectrum of public and private sector partners and donors to drive workforce development and economic opportunity so every generation can find their place in the space economy. Best known for its annual Space Symposium, attended by 15,000 space professionals from around the world, Space Foundation also publishes The Space Report, its quarterly authoritative guide to research and analysis of the space industry, and through its Space Certification™ and Space Technology Hall of Fame® programs, Space Foundation recognizes space-based innovations that have been adapted to improve life on Earth. At Space Foundation’s Discovery Center an array of dynamic on-site and online space-inspired educational programming is available for teachers, parents, students, and to the general public to prepare them for their own space futures. 

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NASA, Kids Foot Locker, 360 MAGAZINE

SUPER HEROIC × NASA

Children’s footwear and apparel brand, Super Heroic, launched its first social impact campaign in collaboration with NASA. With this partnership they hope to encourage, and make accessible to inner city youth the reality of space exploration and STEAM career opportunities as a whole! 

Apart from finding the collection on the Super Heroic site, the NASA gear will be available nationwide via Kids Foot Locker on December 3rd, 2019!

Alongside the new NASA sneakers and apparel, Super Heroic is offering 4 child Heroes the chance to win an all-expenses-paid trip to Space Camp. The brand aims to teach young Heroes about NASA, about the work it does and the opportunities available they provide. Particularly young girls who might not think a career in space or science is for them.✊ 

Check out context details HERE.