NASA official: It’s “fair“ to ask if America is serious about spaceflight

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Enlarge / A test model of the Orion spacecraft, with its parachutes, is tested in Arizona. (credit: NASA)

Last week, NASA’s acting chief technologist, Douglas Terrier, visited one of NASA’s main contractors in the Houston area, Jacobs. Along with a handful of media members, he spent about an hour touring the company’s engineering development facility, where the company supports NASA programs from the International Space Station to the Orion spacecraft.

At one stop during the tour, Terrier learned about a new distiller that might more efficiently recover water from urine during long-duration missions. At another, he learned about new debris sensors that will go to the station to record micrometeorite and orbital debris impacts. And at yet another, he heard about the parachute system that Jacobs has helped develop for the Orion spacecraft.

The Jacobs engineer who talked about the contract said the company had partnered with several Houston-based firms and leveraged knowledge from the region’s large oil-and-gas economy. These partnerships, she said, had saved money for NASA over the course of the agency’s 11-year contract with Jacobs to design and build Orion’s parachutes.

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