Jacobs Technology Puts on Red Cape for Space Safety and Mission Assurance

Orbital debris – perhaps the greatest threat to human space exploration – has just met its nemesis: Houston’s Jacobs Technology, a Fortune 500 engineering, architecture and construction firm, one of America’s most trustworthy companies, and now a space superhero.

Jacobs and the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) this month entered a five-year, $5 million partnership to create research opportunities for students and faculties. The funds also allow UTEP to hire five leading experts in planetary geology and orbital debris to conduct studies at the Houston Johnson Space Center.

Orbital debris are man-made objects that no longer serve a useful purpose in orbit around the earth. These include spent rocket stages, old satellites and fragments from disintegration, erosion and collisions. Almost 20,000 pieces of “space junk” are greater than 2 inches in diameter, large enough to cause significant problems if they collide with operational spacecraft.

The researchers, along UTEP’s Center for the Advancement of Space Safety and Mission Assurance Research (CASSMAR), will also conduct studies to further CASSMAR and NASA’s mission to ensure safer spaceflight overall.

“Partnerships such as this one created by visionaries at Jacobs Technology and UTEP will help make commercial spaceflight a reality,” said former astronaut John “Danny” Olivas, director of space initiatives at CASSMAR. “Research to solve the problem of orbital debris will truly clear a path for more governmental and private space initiatives.”

For more information about this historic partnership, follow these links:

El Paso Times: http://www.elpasotimes.com/business/ci_27685137/5-million-deal-with-nasa-contractor-bolsters-space-research-at-utep 

El Diario de El Paso: http://diario.mx/El_Paso/2015-03-10_1f6a9cd0/estrecha-utep-vinculos-e-investigacion-con-nasa

El Paso Inc.: http://www.elpasoinc.com/news/business_announcements/article_bac7ccfc-c80f-11e4-a1ea-23821c1a0efc.html 

Phys.org: http://phys.org/wire-news/187609382/utep-research-at-nasa-to-explore-space-safety.html 

ECN Magazine: http://www.ecnmag.com/news/2015/03/research-nasa-explore-space-safety 


Risk-Reduction Research at UTEP Expands Lessons Learned in Space

The future for commercial space travel may now be even closer thanks to research being conducted at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) and its Center for the Advancement of Space Safety and Mission Assurance Research (CASSMAR). Students there are collaborating with NASA to use the lessons learned from past space travel to develop new materials for safe and reliable spacecraft.

For part of their research, the students are examining debris from the space shuttle Columbia, focusing on new materials-behavior issues for the first time. When the students determine how different materials respond to the stress of spaceflight, they will recommend what substances are best for engineering future space vehicles.

Former Astronaut John “Danny” Olivas, UTEP’s director of space initiatives at CASSMAR, said, “By leveraging lessons learned in space, this risk-reduction research will help make manned spaceflight safer and directly contribute to the safety of terrestrial products and workplaces.”

For more information about CASSMAR’s research project, follow this link to a Spaceport News article by Bob Granath: http://www.nasa.gov/content/students-applying-lessons-learned-to-develop-safer-spacecraft/#.VQxlTY7F_UX