Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .




TECH SPACE
Endeavour's Last Flight a Big Deal to University Research Team
by Staff Writers
Washington DC (VOA) May 05, 2011


Even in its final days the waiting game continues to bedevil NASA's space shuttle program.

As the world watches space shuttle Endeavour's final mission to deliver equipment and science experiments to the International Space Station, a research team from Northwestern University is following the mission with special interest. It built one of the experiments - to analyze the effects of radiation and the harsh space environment on certain materials.

Many scientists and researchers are worried that the end of the space shuttle program could threaten future space-based research.

Northwestern University Material Science and Engineering Professor Mark Hersam has more than just a passing interest in the final Endeavour mission. Six small pieces of his research were on board.

"These samples are thin films of carbon-based nano-materials including carbon nano-tubes and graphite," said Hersam. "These materials are being explored in our lab to offer next-generation electronic technology and also for solar cell technology."

Hersam said the samples, delivered to the International Space Station, could help advance technology used in satellites and other equipment destined for space. "We're interested to see if they are also stable under the harsh conditions of outer space in particular the radiation they are exposed to."

Hersam said there was great uncertainty about how, when, or even if the samples would ever get into space. But several years ago, one of Hersam's former students, now an employee of the aerospace giant, Boeing, was able to help him secure the small amount of cargo space needed to get the samples into orbit. The next step was waiting.

"We prepared the samples over 18 months ago, and we've been waiting, in the queue, and as the Space Shuttle [program] is coming to an end, we were actually nervous that we may never get up there. But fortunately, we made it."

Hersam knows how his experiment got into space. But with the last-ever space shuttle flight scheduled just two months from now, he's not sure how he's going to get the samples back to Earth.

"There still will be most likely Russian spacecraft, which will be shuttling samples back and forth, so hopefully we will be able to catch a return flight that way, but it's not finalized yet how that will occur," said Hersam.

Professor Peter Voorhees, Hersam's colleague at Northwestern University, said, "The challenge isn't so much getting them up, because you have these unmanned transport vehicles that will take things up. It's getting the samples back. So the down mass really becomes an issue."

Vorhees has successfully completed three experiments carried aboard the space shuttle. His concern is that whatever craft eventually replaces the shuttle might not be able to carry as much cargo into orbit.

"NASA, to their credit, is extraordinarily careful about what they take up and how they pack the shuttle, but it just had so much space to start with, that there was space to transport samples up and back in a reasonably timely manner," he said.

When President Barack Obama outlined his vision for the future of the U.S. space program last April, he signaled a desire to allow private companies to develop spacecraft that will fill the void left by the retiring space shuttle program. Hersam is worried that plan could push projects like his aside.

"My concern is that the motivation behind the experiments will presumably be commercial in nature, which will be a different type of research than we are doing now. I suspect that the level of discovery and serendipity will reduce if it's being drive by bottom-line [profit] considerations. I'm worried that it's not going to be as productive as it is now, where fundamental research can be performed," said Hersam.

Endeavour's final mission into space is the 25th journey into orbit for the 22-year-old vehicle. It is expected to return to Earth on May 13, completing the penultimate mission of NASA's 30 old Space Shuttle program.

Atlantis is tentatively set to make the final shuttle journey into space at the end of June.

.


Related Links
station at NASA
Shuttle at NASA
Space Technology News - Applications and Research






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





TECH SPACE
Stanford's Gravity Probe B confirms two Einstein theories
Stanford CA (SPX) May 05, 2011
Stanford and NASA researchers have confirmed two predictions of Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity, concluding one of the space agency's longest-running projects. Known as Gravity Probe B, the experiment used four ultra-precise gyroscopes housed in a satellite to measure two aspects of Einstein's theory about gravity. The first is the geodetic effect, or the warping of space an ... read more


TECH SPACE
BRP To Contribute To Canadian Moon And Mars Exploration Programs

Naveen Jain Co-Founder And Chairman Of Moon Express

Project Morpheus To Begin Testing At NASA's Johnson Space Center

NASA Announces Winners Of 18th Annual Great Moonbuggy Race

TECH SPACE
Opportunity Images Small Craters

Exploring Rio Tinto Eurobotically

NASA Orbiter Reveals Big Changes in Mars' Atmosphere

Dry ice find hints Mars was a wetter place: study

TECH SPACE
NASA Selects Investigations for Future Key Missions

Space Adventures Reflects Upon A Decade In Space Tourism

Orbital Space Tourism Demand

ISS Orbit raised to help crew return to Earth

TECH SPACE
Top Chinese scientists honored with naming of minor planets

China sees smooth preparation for launch of unmanned module

China to attempt first space rendezvous

Countdown begins for Chineses space station program

TECH SPACE
Soyuz is in the launch zone at Europe's Spaceport

Progress Docks To ISS

Russia ferries supplies to space

ESA prepares Soyuz for dry roll-out

TECH SPACE
Arianespace to launch ABS-2 in 2013

GSAT-8 put through its paces

Ariane Ariane 5 enjoys second successful launch for 2011

Ariane rocket launches two telecoms satellites

TECH SPACE
An Earth as Dense as Lead

Astronomers unveil portrait of 'super-exotic super-Earth'

Tuning Into ExoPlanet Radio

The Shocking Environment Of Hot Jupiters

TECH SPACE
News Corp. buys videogame news sites from Hearst

Android smartphones widen lead in US market

Four injured in iPad fight at Beijing Apple store

Endeavour's Last Flight a Big Deal to University Research Team




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement