Engineer James Van Allen, RBSP Namesake, leads NACA in Rocket Propulsion development

NASA Engineers

Jet Propulsion Laboratory Director William Pickering (left), Dr. James Van Allen (middle), and Dr. Wernher von Braun (right) hold up a model of Explorer 1, which successfully launched on January 31, 1958. Image Credit: NASA

Engineers from the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), who joined NASA after its creation, tested, developed, and recommended one of the most vital technologies that the United States needed in order to successfully launch the Saturn rockets in the 1960s. These engineers had become experts in the field of high-energy propellants, particularly liquid hydrogen, and believed it should be used to power the upper stages of the Saturn rocket.

In 1959, these engineers made that critical recommendation to Wernher von Braun. The liquid hydrogen recommendation was not one that von Braun accepted at first. Von Braun and his team had more faith in the kerosene and liquid oxygen rocket propellants, with which they had more experience. He later acknowledged that the recommendation contributed immensely to NASA’s successful attempt to land the first human beings on the surface of the Moon in 1969.

So how did the NACA get involved in rocket research?

Read More

Charles Townes turns 99

U.C. Berkeley Nobel Prize Winner and SSL Scientist Researcher, Professor Charles Townes will be turning 99 next week. Join the celebration! and help Dr. Townes celebrate this momentous Birthday milestone.

The Nobel Prize for Physics in 1964 was divided, one half awarded to Charles Hard Townes, the other half jointly to Nicolay Gennadiyevich Basov and Aleksandr Mikhailovich Prokhorov “for fundamental work in the field of quantum electronics, which has led to the construction of oscillators and amplifiers based on the maser-laser principle”.

Townes_SaveTheDate_email_6

You can also read the Berkeley NewsCenter article.

NASA Administrator Bolden visits Space Sciences Lab

On Thursday May 8th the U.C. Berkeley Space Sciences Lab was honored to have NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and his Deputy Chief of Staff Mike French (Cal Alumni) stop by for an informational visit and tour of our facilities

Dr. Stuart Bale presented the history of our lab and the high success rate of the 75 missions that we have flown scientific instruments on, including Space Shuttle missions, Explorer Satellites, Sounding Rockets and High Altitude Balloons.

Two upcoming missions and one current mission were discussed with Administrator Bolden and his team. MAVEN’s current transition from Earth to Mars was championed by Dr. Dave Mitchell, discussing data already being collected by the suite of instruments developed by the lab and upcoming science once we arrive at Mars. ICON’s science objectives were highlighted by Dr. Thomas Immel and Dr. Bale discussed the upcoming Solar Probe mission and the challenges that are faced in its design and observations that will take place as it orbits the sun. Laura Peticolas also discussed the Educational Outreach that our lab participates in to spread the word and get students interested in science.

Administrator Bolden then toured various parts of our lab including the great view overlooking the Bay and Golden Gate, Deployable Booms with Paul Turin, Wire Booms and sphere Preamps with Dr. Bonnell, the GRIPS and COSI Balloon program with Ben Maruca, and Carolyn Kierans, the SSL MOC or Mission Operations Center with Bryce Roberts, Mark Lewis and Dan Cosgrove, and finally the Stardust lab with Anna Butterworth and Andrew Wesphal.

Administrator Charles Bolden

Administrator Charles Bolden

Paul Turin demonstrating Deployable Antennas and Whips

Paul Turin demonstrating Deployable Antennas and Whips

Dr. Bonnell explaining Wire Boom Sphere Preamps

Dr. Bonnell explaining Wire Boom Sphere Preamps

IMGP0947

Ben Maruca explaining the GRIPS and COSI Balloon Gondola

IMGP0962

Carolyn Kierans and the Balloon electronics

IMGP0978

Bryce Roberts and Mark Lewis showing the MOC capabilities

IMGP0992

Administrator Bolden examining Stardust Aerogel under the scope

IMGP0999

Administrator Bolden, his team and our Lab envoys

 

Come visit SSL on Cal Day, April 12, 2014

CalDay-logo-200px-2013

 

 

Join us on Cal Day, Saturday, April 12th, from 11am-5pm, the one day each year that Space Sciences Lab opens its doors to the public. Shuttles will be transporting the public every 20 minutes from Mining Circle on campus to SSL.

cal day activities

Activities Include:

  • Walking guided tours of the lab
  • Passport to Science@Cal presenting many fun activities for youth
  • Talks and Panels  (see topics below)

1 – 2 pm Lunar Eclipse

2 – 3 pm  Cool Careers in Space Science

3 – 4 pm pm  Imaging With Neutrons: Can You See a Flower Through a Granite Wall?

For more detailed information go to the “Events” page here: Cal Day 2014 Event