NASA releases its 2017 – 2018 software catalog to the public

NASA has released its 2017-2018 software catalog, which offers a portfolio of software products for a variety of technical applications, free of charge to the public, without any royalty or copyright fees. A number of software packages are being presented for release for the first time, says the space agency. Each catalog entry is accompanied with a plain language description of what it does. Available in both hard copy and online, this third edition of the publication has contributions from the agency’s centers on data processing/storage, business systems, operations, propulsion and aeronautics. It includes tools NASA uses to explore space as well.  “The software catalog is our way of supporting the innovation economy by granting access to tools used by today’s top aerospace professionals to entrepreneurs, small businesses,...

Veritas Capital acquires Harris’ government IT services business for $690M

Veritas Capital has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Harris Corporation’s government IT services business for $690 million in cash. Proceeds from the transaction will be used to support the company’s capital allocation strategy, including pension pre-funding and share repurchases, said Harris in a statement. Headquartered in Herndon, Virginia, the business provides communications, engineering and IT solutions for Intelligence, defense, and federal civilian customers, including NASA’s Space Communications Network and Deep Space Network programs, and operates within Harris’ Critical Networks segment, generating over $1 billion of revenue annually. Harris’ air traffic management franchise, primarily serving the FAA, is not part of the divestiture and will remain with Harris. The transaction is subject to regulatory review and other customary closing conditions and is expected to close in the second quarter...

The code that took America to the moon was just published to GitHub, and...

Former NASA intern Chris Garry uploaded the Apollo Guidance Computer source code to GitHub, on July 7th. Keith Collins wrote a piece on Quartz, talking about what happened after (coders began dissecting the software,  especially the comments) and how the code was written. Here is the link - http://qz.com/726338/the-code-that-took-america-to-the-moon-was-just-published-to-github-and-its-like-a-1960s-time-capsule/ Here is the link to the original Apollo 11 guidance computer (AGC) source code on GitHub https://github.com/chrislgarry/Apollo-11/. 

NASA, Vint Cerf working on internet that will work across solar system

NASA has established operational Delay/Disruption Tolerant Networking (DTN) service on the International Space Station (ISS); which the space agency says is a major step towards creating an internet that will work across the solar system. The DTN service is expected to help automate and improve data availability for space station experimenters. NASA says it worked closely with one of the “fathers of the internet,” Dr. Vinton Cerf, vice president and chief internet evangelist for Google and a distinguished visiting scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, to develop DTN. DTN works by providing a “store and forward” data network that stores partial bundles of data in nodes along a communication path, until the parts can be forwarded or retransmitted, then re-bundled at the final destination – either to ground stations...

NASA using NetApp AltaVault cloud-integrated storage

Following a proof of concept trial, NASA is using AltaVault cloud-integrated storage from NetApp, said the company in a statement. Last year, NASA's Informational Resources Directorate (IRD) ran a proof of concept to store backup data in the cloud with Amazon Web Services to reduce costs. The IRD used its existing Veritas NetBackup environment and deployed two NetApp AltaVault appliances as the interface. The proof of concept was a success and the solution is now in production, says NetApp. NetApp recently released version 4.2 of AltaVault.  

NASA Increases Harris Network Services Contract Ceiling By $384M

NASA has awarded Harris two one-year options, adding $384 million of contract ceiling, to continue supporting the Space Communications Network Services (SCNS) program. Harris will continue to support SCNS, which provides most of the communications and tracking services for a wide range of Earth-orbiting spacecraft, such as the International Space Station, the Hubble Space Telescope and Earth Observing System satellites. As prime contractor for SCNS, Harris also provided communications support to NASA’s Orion Exploration Flight Test-1 Mission in December 2015.

NASA Selects Unisys To Compete For SEWP V Contracts

NASA has selected Unisys to compete for task orders to provide a range of information technology products and services to federal government agencies under the new Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurement (SEWP) V contract. Unisys was selected to compete for work on the SEWP V contract, which has a ceiling value of $20 billion over 10 years, including one five-year base period followed by one five-year option period. Unisys was chosen for work in two contract categories: Group A for computer-based systems; and Group D for networking, security, video and conference tools. Unisys is among 23 contractors selected by NASA under Group A and 33 contractors under Group D. Unisys had provided IT products and services on the predecessor SEWP IV contract.

D-Wave Raises $23M

D-Wave Systems, the Canadian quantum computing company, has closed $23 million (CAD $29 million) in funding. The company did not give out names of the investors, but mentioned the funding came from a 'large institutional investor', among others. D-Wave says the funding will be used to accelerate development of its quantum hardware and software, and expand the software application ecosystem. The latest investment brings total funding in D-Wave to $174 million (CAD), with approximately $62 million raised in 2014. Companies using D-Wave's quantum computers include Lockheed Martin, NASA, Google, USC and the Universities Space Research Association (USRA), among others. D-Wave, which already employs over 120 people, plans to expand hiring with the additional funding, says the company. Key areas of growth include research, processor and systems development and software engineering.

NASA Testing Software To Reduce Traffic Delays

NASA researchers have begun flight tests of computer software that shows promise in improving flight efficiency and reducing environmental impacts of aircraft, especially on communities around airports, says the space agency. Known as ASTAR, or Airborne Spacing for Terminal Arrival Routes, the software is designed to give pilots specific speed information and guidance so that planes can be more precisely spaced, enabling pilots to fly a "follow the leader" approach to their destination airport. The ASTAR type of approach would minimize flight path deviations, allowing more efficient use of existing airspace and possibly reduce noise over communities surrounding airports – all of which could lead to reductions in commercial flight delays, says NASA. The software is being  tested on the Boeing ecoDemonstrator 787 test airplane. The ASTAR experiment...

First Material Created In Space – NASA 3D-Prints Objects On ISS

The first 3D printer built to operate in space successfully began manufacturing on the International Space Station (ISS) early Tuesday morning. This is the first time that hardware has been additively manufactured in space, as opposed being launched from Earth. The first part made in space is a functional part of the printer itself - a faceplate for its own extruder printhead. For the entirety of the space program, tools and parts have been built on Earth and required a rocket to get to space. The presence of a 3D printer onboard the ISS will allow hardware designs to be made on Earth and then digitally beamed to the space station, where the physical object can be created in hours, says NASA. The “3D Printing in Zero-Gravity Experiment”...

Softchoice Wins NASA Contract

IT solutions and managed services provider Softchoice has been awarded a contract under the NASA Solutions for Enterprise-wide Procurement (SEWP) V Government-Wide Acquisition contract. The contract for computer technologies, awarded to 43 different providers, extends for a period of ten years and has an estimated value of up to $20 billion. Softchoice was previously a prime contractor under the SEWP IV program, which commenced in 2007 and will end with the phase-in of SEWP V this month. SEWP Government-Wide Acquisition Contracts are available for ordering by all NASA centers, all federal agencies and their contractors. The principal purpose of the SEWP V contracts is to provide clients with state-of-the-art computer technologies, high-end scientific and engineering processing capabilities, network equipment and peripherals.

Google Wants To Build Quantum Computers

The Quantum Artificial Intelligence team at Google, is launching a hardware initiative to design and build new quantum information processors based on superconducting electronics. The Mountain View giant has hired John Martinis and his team at UC Santa Barbara, who have been working in building superconducting quantum electronic components, to work on the hardware. Among other things, Google's quantum computing hardware initiative will include implementing and testing new designs for quantum optimization and inference processors. The designs are expected to be based on what the company calls 'recent theoretical insights', as well as learnings from the D-Wave quantum annealing architecture. Google will also continue to collaborate with D-Wave scientists, and experiment with the Vesuvius machine at NASA Ames, which will be upgraded to a 1000 qubit Washington processor.

SpaceX Unveils Its First Manned Aircraft

SpaceX, the space transport services company started by former PayPal entrepreneur and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk, unveiled its first manned spacecraft, the Dragon V2, on Wednesday. The spacecraft is capable of transporting seven astronauts to orbit and back to Earth. The Dragon V2 will be able to land anywhere on earth, much like a helicopter. It will also be able to be refueled and go back in orbit without much delay, says SpaceX. The manned spacecraft uses titanium fuel tanks for the Draco and SuperDraco thrusters, the SuperDraco thrusters being an advanced version of the Draco engines used by the Dragon spacecraft. The spacecraft will be able to land with its SuperDraco thrusters, even if three engines fail. SpaceX has a $1.6 billion deal with NASA, and has already done three of its...

NASA Awards $143M Software Contract

NASA has selected L-3 National Security Solutions of Reston, Virginia, to provide simulation and software technology support to the Engineering Software, Robotics and Simulation Division (SRSD) at the agency's Johnson Space Center in Houston. Under the Simulation and Software Technology (SST) II contract, L-3 NSS will receive a cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract not to exceed $143 million. The period of performance runs from July through June 2019. Contract services include space vehicle systems and software expertise, and simulation and software technology support across simulation graphics and spacecraft software. L-3 NSS will provide expertise in the fields of simulation math models and applications, simulation products and virtual reality applications. Within the spacecraft software discipline, L-3 NSS will provide expertise in the areas of systems engineering and integration, software...

NASA Awards Robotics Contract Worth $49.7M

NASA has selected MacLean Engineering & Applied Technologies of Houston to provide simulation model development for organizations at the agency's Johnson Space Center, also in Houston. The indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract has firm-fixed price and cost-plus fixed-fee task orders. Beginning July 1, the contract has a three-year base period followed by two one-year options, and is valued at $ 49.7 million. Simulation services include model development, integration, verification, problem support and other activities on numerous robotics platforms. Platforms include in-orbit robotic manipulator systems; advanced future robotic systems; and guidance, navigation and control of space-based vehicles for all flight phases, including rendezvous operations. The contract also provides development and support services for avionics and embedded flight software systems.