tv NASA Glenn Research Center CSPAN May 26, 2020 9:28pm-9:45pm EDT
successfully orbited the earth once in 1961, the u.s. -- then nasa astronaut john glenn became the first american to orbit the earth, spending almost five hours in space and circling the earth three times. as nasa prepares for its scheduled wednesday launch of u.s. astronauts into space for the first time since 2011, we take you to the glenn research center in cleveland. >> nasa glenn is primarily a research and technology center. we are not really the mission center. we work with the mission center in goddard, maryland, which does science missions. which is donepl, in california for the deep space mission, as well as the johnson
space center in texas, which > does man missions. we provide some of the systems that will fit into that mission, but we are not the overall mission providers. >> we are at nasa's john glenn research center in cleveland, ohio. we are the third oldest of the nasa centers. we broke ground on january 3, 1941. we predate nasa by a little under 18 years. naca, which extends for the national advisory committee for aeronautics, was founded in 1915, in the infancy of aviation in this country to study this new technology and figure out how we can harness it for economic, military use. but prior to this center, they had really only focused on general aeronautics. they had not really done anything with aircraft engines. they had been seeing what they were doing in europe and found that they were way ahead of us
when it came to aircraft engine research, especially the germans. in the late 1930's, that made them a little nervous. congress approved the establishment of a third laboratory that would focus on aircraft engines. you could do all the research you want, but you will never make a plane fly higher or faster if you don't have good engines. , to was our single role improve aircraft engines. 75 years later, we're still working on aircraft engine research and improving that technology. we've had five names over the course of our history. we started off as the aircraft engine research lab, later named the lewis flight propulsion lab after george lewis, who was the first director of aeronautical research for the national
advisory committee on aeronautics, and he was instrumental in promoting this idea of an airflight engine lab. we started with this core idea, we are going to do aircraft engine research, and all of the related disciplines of aircraft engines, they grew and shoot off. everything we do today is connected to this idea of engine research. if you looked over 75 years -- it would not look like a timeline, it would look like a family tree. every discipline is built off of the other one. at glenn, over the course of 75 years, we've had an incredible amount of new technologies and programs we have managed, but want to touch on our engine research, our centaur program and communications. we started with aircraft engines , we supported the war, and we got this new technology that the germans were doing, and jet engines was the next big thing. jet engines allowed us to fly
much faster, much higher. this was what led the way for supersonic flight, and eventually that technology is what starts to get incorporated into rocket technology. when we started doing jet engines, we were studying a lot of different types of fuel. an engine needs fuel to work. they were doing a lot of investigations on different types of fuel, what ones get the best burn, what increases engine performance. they started experimenting with different fuel. one of those was liquid hydrogen, and this is where the rockets start to come in. in the early 1950's we had the first successful demonstration of liquid hydrogen as a rocket fuel. under the naca, they wanted to be strictly aviation. they felt that anything, like
rockets equal missiles which equals defense. they thought that should be left to the military. they didn't want us doing this type of work with rockets. but our leadership was like, keep doing it. they recognized that was going to be something useful for the future. with the launch of sputnik, it was like, space is something we really need to do, and eventually the naca becomes the foundation for nasa. we already have those space-related skills to start applying to this new space program. nasa was officially created october 1, 1958. naca ceased to exist. this facility was known as nasa lewis research center. essentially all aeronautic work stopped. we had a role in the mercury program. the mercury program was our
first manned spaceflight program. almost like a testbed missions, where we were going to prove particular space capabilities. can we launch a man? can we bring him back? can we launch someone and have an orbit and come back? can we do a spacewalk? these are the first steps we have to take before we go on to the apollo program, which will take us to our ultimate goal, to go to the moon. the mercury program was first. like i said, all seven mercury astronauts came here to do training. their test was called the -- rig,st call it the gimbal essentially a giant gyroscope cage thing that they would sit in and spin them all around on all three axes, and they had to use thrusters to bring the
capsule back under control. this is to simulate if their capsule was tumbling out of control, they needed to adjust everything so the heat shield was oriented correctly so it did not burn up in space. john glenn came here on another visit when he was a senator and asked about this test. he was very happy to hear that this had been scrapped. i think most of the astronauts agreed that was pretty much the most heinous of their tasks. it had a kill switch. they all used it. all of the preparation for the apollo mercury were happening concurrently. onare working also, then, ntuarinto our -- ce program. it is the rocket that will take this survey are probed to the moon so we can check it out. this is a stage that uses liquid hydrogen.
the program was being managed out of another center. they were having a lot of trouble with the engineering, getting things to work. the first tests they had done exploded. they thought, we should never have gone with liquid hydrogen. we should scrap this and do something else. this is too mission-critical to keep trying this. but an engineer at our lab who had been headquartered -- designing the structure of nasa, he named the mercury and apollo programs, and he said no, this will work. i know my guys at lewis. they perfected this technology with liquid hydrogen, and i know that they can make it work. we spent most of the early 1960's perfecting the centaur technology with the ultimate goal of launching the surveyor probe to the moon, which is what we needed to kind of scout out a landing spot for our manned
missions. centaur, lead centaur were surveyors. we don't have surveyors, there is really no apollo program. so the centaur technology is absolutely mission-critical. centaur is called america's workforce in space. when we managed the program for over 35 years, we had well over 100 launches. it is still used today by our commercial partners who manage our launch operations. our center today has six core competencies that we align our work with, and one of those is space communications, and this goes well back into the 1960's. our first major communications project was the communications technology satellite. this allowed us to do direct broadcasting. it allowed for receiving equipment to be much smaller, and we could access more remote parts of the world.
kind of the first demonstration of this direct broadcast, and in the follow-on, the next generation of communications we did was the advanced communication technology satellite. and this was digital. this was a similar testbed in showing we can do communication satellites that are fully digital. the new one we have, the scan is -- the signals are sent through software, so they can adjust everything in real-time through that technology. >> we work for the space communications and navigations program. the idea behind the navigations program is to provide the communications infrastructure for the satellites and for the space vehicles. we are in the laboratory here for the cognitive communications testbed. we use this as a ground communications facility for our
on-orbit iss platform, which has next-generation communications research. the radios you currently use, like your cell phone, there they are very advanced in terms of the communications capability. we are trying to put that same communications capability in our next generation radios that we use in space. the idea is to be able to get more data from the scientific payload created on space craft such as the space station and get them down to earth so the investigator can figure out how well their payloads are working in space. over here, what you are seeing is our scan testbed, i ground unitground integration which is a mockup of what we have on the space station. if we're going to reprogram the radios in space, a big part of it is we do testing in order to make sure we can reprogram to do all sorts of new features they were originally not intended to
do. before we put them on the space station, we will test them out on our ground unit and make sure they work properly, and then send that software up to the flight unit and retest it. this is our system we built before we built the system that is up on the space station. the goal of this is next-generation communications capability, have much more capable radios than what we had in the past. how we do that is by demonstrating on something like can prove they will work, and when we have new spacecraft, use those technologies, we can now use them and they are proven for those spacecraft. at nasa glen, there's a lot of different research we do. our primary areas are propulsion, we do it in communications, we do it in wind tunnel work. this is a key area for us in terms of the communications capability we have.
at any one time, we have between 25 and 30 projects in the communications area that we are working on. let's go to another lab and we will show you what's next. let me get you in here to our -- integrated radio and optical communications lab. the effort for this is to design a system that can be used that will not only do advanced radiofrequency communications like you use with your wireless, but also incorporates optical communications into the same system. we are looking for this for some of our deep space applications, where this allows us to get even more data than we currently get from our spacecraft, for example, that are on mars, getting that back to earth. the idea behind this is, if you
had the rovers that are on mars, for example, by having a next-generation relay satellite that's going around mars, getting that data back to earth, how do you do that in an efficient way? what we found is one of the best ways to do that is to do it with our signals in the same system and then have a dual system to get the signals back. this is the next generation of systems. our work here is primarily focused in on individual technologies associated with it, a little less about the system and more about making those technologies, advancing those technologies so for the next-generation spacecraft, they have the ability to provide those systems. this is an example of some of the next-generation technology we are using. some of the laser systems out there now are mechanically seared. we have worked with the small business here to have an electrically seared system, and it's all done by electronics in
order to do the searing. sending the laser beam, if you see here if i interrupt the signal, now what i get is it will block it off and go again. what we can do is simulate what it's like on a spacecraft with these systems so we know they will work on the intended operations for a spacecraft. anne: what makes the center unique, literally and obviously, is we are the only center located in the midwest. we really embody the midwestern culture where the agency can call on us to do anything and we are going to do it well and we are going to do our best job. we are really diverse in our ability to do anything from aeronautics to exploration and do it very well. we are an incubator of all kinds of technologies, not only things that are very mind blowing space
exploration kinds of things, but things that are directly applicable to every day life. you are going to see the technologies we develop trickle down to consumer products. seven years after john glenn's 1962 flight as the first astronaut to orbit the earth, neil armstrong become the first astronaut to walk on the moon in 1969. a purdue university graduate is one of 25 astronauts educated -- educated there. >> >> 4 ---10, nine, 8, 7, 6, 5,