The Occupy Mars Learning Adventure

Training Jr. Astronauts, Scientists & Engineers


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Getting Ready for the Second Annual Robot Showcase in Long Beach, California

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Would you consider showcasing your robot online?  You can participate with us from a distance.   We have room for you in our new online showcase.   If you would like to participate in person we can make that happen.  There is no charge to participate.  We love robots and we want to share this passion with everyone for free.

Contact: Bob Barboza, Suprschool@aol.com or visit: http://www.BarbozaSpaceCenter.com,

http://www.BarbozaSpaceCenter.WordPress.com.

 

We have been looking at great robots all year.    We are talking with California’s top robot designers.   The Robot Showcase is a great place to bring the entire family.

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The Mars Society: Bold New Initiative

At Today’s NASA, Success is not an Option

By Robert Zubrin, National Review, 06.12.19

The Trump administration has proposed a bold new initiative, dubbed the Artemis Program, that will send astronauts to the Moon by 2024 and Mars by 2033. As detailed by NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine in a presentation on May 23, the program will include some 37 launches by 2028, kicked off by the maiden launch of the agency’s new Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift booster in October 2020.

Unfortunately, the program as currently conceived is very unlikely to succeed, as it appears to be designed primarily as a mechanism for distributing funds, rather than for accomplishing goals in space. This was made clear when Bridenstine said that a baseline condition for the program would be that all piloted missions would use the SLS booster and the Orion crew capsule, neither of which has yet flown, rather than much cheaper alternatives that have flown. Furthermore, at 26 tons the Orion is so heavy that the SLS cannot deliver it to low lunar orbit with enough propellant for it to fly home. So rather than using a SpaceX Dragon (which at 10 tons is still 50 percent larger than the Apollo crew capsule), which either SLS or the already operational and vastly cheaper ($150 million per launch, compared to over $1 billion for SLS) Falcon Heavy could readily deliver, NASA is proposing to build a new space station, called the Deep Space Gateway, in a high orbit around the Moon, as a halfway house accessible to Orion.

NASA is trying to justify the Gateway with platitudes claiming that it will “provide a command center,” “create resilience,” and “establish a strategic presence around the Moon,” but this is all nonsense. The fact of the matter is that a lunar-orbiting space station is a liability, not an asset. It is not needed to support flights to the Moon and is certainly not, as NASA claims, necessary or even useful as a base for flights to Mars. It will cost a fortune to build and a fortune to maintain and will impose significant-to-severe propulsion and timing-constraint penalties on any mission that is forced to make use of it — as they all surely will be, to avoid public exposure of the Gateway’s uselessness.

NASA has properly targeted the south pole of the Moon for its intended landing, because ice resources there could be turned into hydrogen/oxygen propellant. This could allow lunar-excursion vehicles to explore the Moon or take off and return directly to Earth orbit, where they could be readily refueled, making the whole transportation system fully reusable and much more capable and economical. It would also free up our heavy-lift capabilities from lunar-logistics service so we could move rapidly onward to Mars. But putting the base in orbit rather than on the surface will make those resources worthless, because it would take more propellant to lift the ice to the Gateway than the amount of propellant the ice would yield. Moreover, because it is wasting billions on building the Gateway and launching a politically motived SLS flight in the fall of 2020 without a meaningful payload, NASA does not have enough money to support the development of a lunar lander — which is actually needed if you want to land on the Moon. The agency has therefore made a request for more cash, which the White House has supported with the kiss of death — a requirement that the funds be drawn from Pell Grants, guaranteeing rejection in the Democrat-controlled Congress.

Apparently, success is not an option, so the key priority is to assign blame.

Engineering is the art of making the impossible possible. Bureaucracy is the art of making the possible impossible. By choosing bureaucracy over engineering, the administration’s planners have transformed human space exploration from a mission into a vision.

The question is fundamentally this: Will NASA have a purpose-driven plan or a vendor-driven plan? A purpose-driven plan spends money to do things. A vendor-driven plan does things in order to spend money. For the half century since Apollo, NASA’s robotic planetary-exploration and space-astronomy programs have made epic accomplishments, because they have remained purpose-driven. In contrast, NASA’s human-spaceflight program has become vendor-driven and been allowed to drift. If we let NASA remain in this mode, we will not reach the Moon by 2024 or Mars by 2033. But if we insist that our entire space program be purpose-driven, taking full advantage of space resources to reduce the number of launches and the entrepreneurial space revolution to sharply cut their costs, we can not only meet these long-overdue goals, but greatly exceed them to truly commence humanity’s history as a multi-planet space-faring species.

Such is the choice before us.

ROBERT ZUBRIN, an aerospace engineer, is the founder of the Mars Society and the president of Pioneer Astronautics. His latest book, THE CASE FOR SPACE: HOW THE REVOLUTION IN SPACEFLIGHT OPENS UP A FUTURE OF UNLIMITED POSSIBILITIES, was recently published by Prometheus Books. @robert_zubrin

 


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University Rover Challenge 2019 – Requirements and Guidelines

Who wants to build a Mars Rover?   University Rover Challenge 2019 – Requirements and Guidelines

The Mars Society’s University Rover Challenge challenges students to build remotely operated rovers that can accomplish a variety of tasks that might one day assist astronauts working on the surface of Mars. Rovers will compete in four missions: 1) a Science Mission to investigate a site for the presence of current or past life; 2) a Delivery Mission to deliver a variety of objects to astronauts in the field across rugged terrain; 3) an Equipment Servicing Mission to perform dexterous operations on a mock lander using a robotic arm; and 4) an Autonomous Traversal Mission to autonomously travel to a site and locate a marker.

The 2019 University Rover Challenge will be held May 30 – June 1, 2019 at the Mars Society’s Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) near Hanksville, Utah, USA. The competition is open to both graduate and undergraduate students, although teams are permitted to include secondary (high school) students.

Any issues not covered by these published rule sets will be addressed on a case-by-case basis by the University Rover Challenge (URC) Director. Please consult the Questions and Answers (Q&A) portion of the URC web site (http://urc.marssociety.org) for updates. All matters addressed in the Q&A are applicable to the requirements and guidelines.

1. Competition Rules1.a. Schedule

Prospective teams will undergo a review and down-selection process, meaning that only teams who pass each milestone will be invited to compete in the field. Specific details for each deadline (including deliverable format, submission requirements, and judges’ expectations) will be posted to the URC web site (http://urc.marssociety.org). Judges may respond to teams with follow-up questions or requests for clarification at any of these milestones.

1.a.i. Declaration of Intent to Compete
Teams are required to register and declare their intent to compete no later than Friday, November 2, 2018. No significant deliverables are required for this deadline, aside from team details requested via the URC web site.

1.a.ii. Preliminary Design Review
Teams are required to submit a Preliminary Design Review (PDR) document no later than Friday, November 30, 2018. The PDR document is expected to focus on the team structure, resources, and project management plan (including a Gantt chart, initial budget, fund-raising plans, recruiting, and educational outreach). Technical details regarding the rover are highly encouraged but are not the main focus. Judges will be assessing each team’s overall level of readiness to compete in the URC competition. Teams will be assessed on their own merits, not against other teams. PDRs may be submitted as early as November 5, 2018, and will be reviewed by judges on a rolling basis.

1.a.iii. System Acceptance Review
Teams are required to submit a System Acceptance Review (SAR) Package no later than Friday, March 1, 2019. The SAR Package will focus on the overall system design, science plan, and progress to-date of the final system. The SAR Package will consist of both written and video components. The SAR is a competitive milestone and packages will be judged against other teams’ submissions by the judges. The 36 teams who score the highest in the SAR milestone will be invited to compete in the field.

1.a.iv. Field Competition
May 30 – June 1, 2019 at the Mars Society’s Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) near Hanksville, Utah, USA.

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1.b. Operations

  1. 1.b.i.  Teams will operate their rovers in real-time from designated command and control stations.

    These stations will be metal trailer units (such as the back of a small moving truck provided by URC) or structures at the Mars Desert Research Station. Visibility of the course to the operators in the control station will be blocked. Basic power (120V, 60Hz), tables, and chairs will be provided. All of the competition events will be held in full daylight. The GPS standard shall be the WGS 84 datum. Coordinates will be provided in latitude/longitude format (e.g. decimal degrees; degrees decimal minutes; degrees minutes seconds).

  2. 1.b.ii.  There should be radio communication line-of-sight from the command station to the rover for the Science and Equipment Servicing Missions. For the other missions, line of sight communication is not guaranteed for more than 50% of the courses. Rovers are not expected to travel more than 1 km from the command station.
  3. 1.b.iii.  In the summer temperatures at MDRS can easily reach 100°F and winds frequently whip up dust. Rovers shall be able to withstand these conditions and also light rain, but will not be expected to compete in heavy rain or thunderstorms.
  4. 1.b.iv.  Testing will not be allowed at MDRS before, during, or after URC 2019. Teams may test at other sites where off-road vehicles are allowed such as Swing Arm City (http://capitolreef.org/trails/swing-arm-city/); however teams must follow local regulations regarding off-road activity. Land controlled by the Bureau of Land Management, that is not specifically designated for off-road use, is strictly not allowed for any URC purposes.

1.c. Team Members

  1. 1.c.i.  There is no restriction on the number of team members or operators allowed. All operators

    must remain in the designated operators’ area. Nobody may follow alongside the rover for the purpose of providing feedback to the operators. Members of the judging team, media, non- operator team members, and other spectators may only follow a rover at the judges’ discretion. Team members following the rover may participate as runners in accordance with Section 2.d, or activate an emergency kill switch (in the event of an emergency), but may not otherwise participate in that mission.

  2. 1.c.ii.  Students must be enrolled at least half-time in a degree or high school diploma granting course. Students from multiple universities may compete on the same team. A single university may field multiple rovers and multiple teams, however there may be no overlap between team members and leaders, budget, donated equipment, or purchased equipment.
  3. 1.c.iii.  Teams are encouraged to work with advisors. Advisors should limit their involvement to academic level advising only. Nontechnical management duties, including tracking finances, registration, submission of deliverables, and communication with URC staff, fall within the duties of the students. Advisors can spectate from the field, but may not spectate from within the control station.
  4. 1.c.iv.  It is incumbent upon the student team leaders to ensure that their respective teams uphold the integrity of this competition.

1.d. Finances

  1. 1.d.i.  Teams shall be required to track all finances as related to this project, and submit a final

    expense record no later than May 20, 2019 (if necessary, teams may submit an updated record – hard or soft copy – on the first day of the URC event – May 30, 2019). Teams shall be penalized 10% of total points per day if they are late in submitting the expense report, and will be disqualified for not submitting their expense report by the end of the URC event (June 1, 2019).

  2. 1.d.ii.  The maximum allowable cash budget to be spent on the project is $18,000 US, which shall include components for the rover, rover modules, rover power sources, rover communications

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equipment, and base station equipment including the antenna and transceiver, and all command

and control equipment (i.e. base station computers, monitors, controllers, etc.).

  1. 1.d.iii.  The Director may allow certain sponsorships that are available to all teams to count as an

    extension of the budget limit.

  2. 1.d.iv.  The budget limit shall not apply to spare parts, tools, travel expenses. Spare parts are defined as

    those that are replaced one-for-one in the case of damage to the original.

  3. 1.d.v.  If used equipment is purchased commercially the as-bought price may be used.
  4. 1.d.vi.  Re-used equipment from prior competitions must be valued at either their original as-bought

    cost, or the current cost for a new version of the same or equivalent item.

  5. 1.d.vii.  Any equipment rented must be valued at purchase cost (new or used).

1.d.viii.Shipping and taxes should be included in the cost since these are a standard part of the cost of

any item.

  1. 1.d.ix.  Corporate sponsorship is encouraged. If equipment or services are donated to the team either

    free or at reduced cost, the full cost of a new or second-hand component must be used. Donations must be documented by the donor, but teams may use the cheapest rate commercially available for the same equipment or service.

  2. 1.d.x.  Non-US teams have an allowable budget equivalent to $18,000 US based on the most advantageous documented currency conversion rate between August 1, 2018 and May 30, 2019.
  3. 1.d.xi.  Teams may be required to submit receipts as proof of budget upon request.

2. Rover Rules
2.a. Size, Weight, Power

  1. 2.a.i.  The rover shall be a stand-alone, off-the-grid, mobile platform. Tethered power and communications are not allowed. A single connected platform must leave the designated start gate. In the open field, the primary platform may deploy any number of smaller sub-platforms, so long as the combined master/slave sub-platforms meet all additional requirements published. Due to FAA (United States Federal Aviation Authority) restrictions, no airborne vehicles will be allowed at URC2019.
  2. 2.a.ii.  Rovers shall be weighed by the judges during the set-up time of each mission. For weighing the rover must fit completely within a 1.2 m x 1.2 m square platform. Immediately following the weigh-in the rover may be unfolded/assembled into a configuration that expands beyond that size. This includes wheels, antenna, and any other system protruding from the rover. Failure to fit within the specified dimensions at weigh-in will result in a 20% penalty.
  3. 2.a.iii.  The maximum allowable mass of the rover when deployed for any competition mission is 50 kg. The total mass of all fielded rover parts for all events is 70 kg. For example, a modular rover may have a robotic arm and a sensor that are never on the rover at the same time. The combinations of rover plus arm and rover plus sensor must each be under 50 kg, but the total rover plus arm plus sensor must be less than 70 kg.
    • The weight limits do not include any spares or tools used to prepare or maintain the rover, but does include any items deployed by the rover such as sub-rovers, cameras, communication relays.
    • For each event in which the rover is overweight, the team shall be assessed a penalty of 5% of the points scored, per kilogram over 50. Rovers over 70 kg will receive zero points for that task.

      2.a.iv. Rovers shall utilize power and propulsion systems that are applicable to operations on Mars.

Air-breathing systems are not permitted. No power or propulsion system may ingest ambient air for the purpose of combustion or other chemical reaction that yields energy.

2.a.v. All rovers shall have a “kill switch” that is readily visible and accessible on the exterior of the rover. This switch shall immediately stop the rover’s movement and cease all power draw from batteries in the event of an emergency such as a battery fire.

2.b. Communications Equipment

  1. 2.b.i.  The rover shall be operated remotely using wireless communications with no time delay. The

    operators will not be able to directly view the rover or the site, and line-of-sight communications are not guaranteed for all of the missions. Internet is not available in the field or at MDRS. Teams are required to power down communications equipment at the event sites while not competing, so as not to interfere with other teams. Aerial devices are not allowed for communications at URC 2019.

  2. 2.b.ii.  Wireless communication methods used by teams shall adhere to all applicable FCC (United States Federal Communications Commission) standards and regulations. Teams must submit details regarding communication devices and operator licenses (when applicable) to the URC Director no later than Friday, April 26, 2019. Team members are permitted to obtain and utilize any relevant licenses, and must document the license, applicable regulations, and devices as part of the communications documentation deadline. Teams must notify the URC Director immediately of any changes after this date.
  3. 2.b.iii.  Both omnidirectional and directional antennae are allowed, but communications equipment must not rely on the team’s ability to watch and track the rover first hand. Steered directional antennae may use a mechanized antenna mounted outside that is controlled via an electronic signal from the command station. Signal strength, relayed GPS, or other strategies may be used to give feedback on antenna direction, but it is not allowed to mount a camera on top of the antenna for visual feedback.

2.b.iv. Base station antenna height is limited to 3m, and shall adhere to all applicable regulations. Any antennae must be documented as part of the communications documentation submitted by April 27, 2019. Antenna bases must be located within 5 meters of the team’s command station, and any ropes or wires used for stability purposes only may be anchored within 10 meters of the command station. The exception to this is the use of structures at the MDRS where allowable antennae locations will be given by the judge and may be located up to 20m away from the Hab to avoid underground pipe and cables, and other structures which may block radio signals. All teams should bring at least 25m of communications cable to deal with this scenario.

2.c. Restrictions on the 900 MHz and 2.4GHz bands
Teams must notify the organizers of the communications standards they will be using, including frequency bands and channels, by April 26, 2019.

  1. 2.c.i.  900 MHz frequency band (902-928 MHz): Teams shall not use frequency bandwidths greater

    than 8 MHz. Teams must also be able to operate exclusively within each of the following three sub-bands: “900-Low” (902-910 MHz), “900-Mid” (911-919 MHz), and “900-High” (920-928 MHz). The competition schedule will notify teams which sub-band may be used for each mission, and teams must be able to shift to another sub-band as required. There is no limit on the number of 900 MHz channels a team uses, so long as they are all within the designated sub-band.

  2. 2.c.ii.  2.4 GHz frequency band (2.400-2.4835 GHz): Teams shall use center frequencies that correspond to channels 1-11 of the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) 802.11 standard for 2.4 GHz. Teams shall not use frequency bandwidths greater than 22 MHz.The competition schedule will notify teams which channels may be used for each mission,

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and teams must be able to shift to other channels as required. Teams shall be limited to

using no more than three channels in the 2.4 GHz band.

  1. 2.c.iii.  These restrictions apply to both the command station to rover communications and any

    local wireless network such as (but not limited to) on-board the rover between subsystems.

  2. 2.c.iv.  Teams may use spread spectrum or narrowband (fixed channel allocation) within the sub-band

    limits as they fit.

  3. 2.c.v.  There will be spectrum monitoring on-site to ensure that teams are not interfering with channels

    outside those allotted. Teams should anticipate being within signal range of other teams operating on different 900 MHz sub-bands and different 2.4GHz channels and be able to operate their rover under these conditions. Teams must also be able to deconflict communications as specified above (the URC Director will mediate as necessary). Beyond this requirement a 0.5 km minimum separation between competition areas will be guaranteed, which will include large terrain barriers.

  4. 2.c.vi.  Teams are allowed to operate in bands outside of 900 MHz and 2.4 GHz, but should implement spread spectrum, automatic channel switching, frequency hopping, or other interference-tolerant protocols. Teams are strongly encouraged to investigate interference-tolerant protocols but in the event of interference outside of 900 MHz and 2.4 GHz, teams will not be granted additional time or special considerations.

2.d. Interventions
If a rover suffers a critical problem during a mission that requires direct team intervention (including a loss of communication that requires the team to move the rover to reestablish communications), that intervention shall be subject to the following:

  1. 2.d.i.  A request for an intervention can only come from the team members operating the rover,

    not any team members spectating in the field. They may designate any number of team members who may go to repair or retrieve the rover (hereafter referred to as “runners”). Spectating team members may be asked to act as runners, and also rover operators may leave the command station and become runners. Spectating team members may carry tools and the command station may radio out to them to request an intervention.

  2. 2.d.ii.  If a spectating team member intervenes with the rover without request from the operators, it counts as an emergency stop. This is allowed such as to rescue the rover to prevent a fall or a fire. The current mission will be considered terminated although the rover may compete in other subsequent missions. All points earned in a mission to this point are preserved, and in the Science Mission teams may still conduct their field briefing.
  3. 2.d.iii.  If a team member leaves the command station to become a runner they will not be permitted to return to the command station to participate in operating the rover, or analysis of any data, after this point for the current mission. Runners will still be permitted to retrieve or repair the rover in future interventions.
  4. 2.d.iv.  Runners may fix the rover in the field without moving it, return the rover to the command station, or return the rover to the start of that obstacle/mission as defined by the judge in the field. However, the judge may require the rover to be moved for the safety of the team members or preservation of the course.
  5. 2.d.v.  If the rover is returned to the command station, the operators may take part in the diagnostic and repair process, but runners and spectators may not communicate any details about the mission site to the operators.
  6. 2.d.vi.  When an intervention is called, the team members in the field may communicate directly with their team members operating the rover to facilitate repairs. They may use their own radios, or borrow the radios from the judges. Communication will be monitored by the judges. Team members may carry radios into the field for this purpose but they may be used only during an intervention.

2.d.vii. Teams will be penalized 20% of the total points in that mission for every intervention. The mission clock will continue to run during an intervention. Multiple intervention penalties in a single mission are additive: e.g. two interventions would result in a score of 60% of points earned.

3. Competition Missions

3.a. The rover shall be judged in the four competition missions outlined below and also on the System Acceptance Review Package.

  1. 3.a.i.  Each event and the SAR shall be worth 100 points, for a total of 500 points. Penalties for

    overweight rovers, interventions, and other penalties are additive: e.g. penalties of 10% and 20% would result in a score of 70% of the points earned. Missions are scored independently and it is not possible to score less than zero on a mission.

  2. 3.a.ii.  From the time teams are given access to their command station, they shall be able to set up all necessary systems, including all communications systems, and be ready to compete in no more than 15 minutes. Teams shall be able to fully disassemble all equipment in no more than 10 minutes at the end of the event, and may be asked to switch off radio equipment immediately.
  3. 3.a.iii.  Teams do not need to return to the start gate before the end of time for any of the missions.
  4. 3.a.iv.  For the four competition events, the rover is not required to be in the same configuration so modular pieces can be swapped between missions. On days that teams compete in the Science and Extreme Retrieval and Delivery Missions, teams will only compete in one Mission. Teams may be required to begin on the Autonomous Traversal Mission as soon as 10 minutes after the completion of the Equipment Servicing Mission, operating from the same control station on an adjacent course. The rover will otherwise be accessible throughout the competition and modifications can be made at any point.

3.b. Science Mission
The goal is to conduct in-situ analysis with the rover, including life-detection testing of samples to determine the best candidates for a future sample cache. Specifically, the team using the science package onboard the rover should be able to determine the presence or absence of life, either extinct or extant, at designated sites. Teams should analyze data relevant to the setting on Earth while demonstrating an understanding of how these observations would translate to a Martian setting.

  1. 3.b.i.  Teams will be given a field briefing by judges and will be tasked with investigating multiple

    sites of biological interest within a 0.8 km radius of the start gate. Teams will be given between

    20 and 30 minutes to collect data with the rover.

  2. 3.b.ii.  The rover must have a life detection capability, instrument or assay, of the team’s choosing.

    Samples must be investigated by the rover in-situ, and may not be brought back to the crew for investigation. As many as six sites may be designated by the judges consisting of rock or soil. At each site the rover will need to determine the presence or absence of life, extant or extinct. Small amounts of soil may be removed from the sample site for analysis by on-board instrumentation, but rock samples must be evaluated in-situ. There will be no laboratory analysis – all instruments/tests must be onboard the rover.

  3. 3.b.iii.  Teams shall submit a written science plan by May 10, 2019, which will be factored into the judges’ evaluation for the Science Mission. Specifications for the plan will posted to the URC website.
  4. 3.b.iv.  Any chemicals used onboard, including water and any reaction products, must follow a no-spill policy of being contained on the rover and not spilt on the ground. Use of hazardous chemicals must be pre-approved prior to competition by submitting a plan of usage, transportation, safety

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precautions, and accident plan. Teams should consider that URC takes place in a remote desert location with very limited water supplies and no quick access to emergency medical care. Hazardous chemicals are strongly discouraged.

3.b.v. After completion of roving time, teams will have 10 – 15 minutes to prepare a ~10 min presentation for the judges to be given at the field site, based on the onboard analysis. The presentation and discussion with the judges is allowed even if the team was unsuccessful in collecting data with their rover. The presentation to the judges should include:

  • The team’s conclusions (results and explanation of results) based on the in-situ rover capability for each site regarding the presence or absence of life, distinguishing between extant and extinct life.
  • Results of on-board rover tests performed including data and images.
  • Scientific knowledge of astrobiology and Mars based on responses to judges’ questions. 3.b.vi. The score for this task will be based on the following components:
  • Correct identification of extant or extinct life in the designated sample(s).
  • Quality and applicability of the onboard analysis and how well this supports the team’s

    conclusions.

  • The completeness, correctness, and clarity of the science plan.
  • Scientific knowledge of astrobiology, particularly as it relates to Mars.

    3.c. Extreme Retrieval and Delivery Mission

  1. 3.c.i.  This will be a staged mission in which rovers shall be required to pick up and deliver objects in

    the field, and deliver assistance to astronauts, all while traversing a wide variety of terrain, no further than 1 km from the start gate. Teams will be given a fixed amount of time for each stage. Each stage will include multiple tasks as described below, and teams must achieve a specified minimum score within a stage and the allotted time in order to proceed to the next stage. Any time remaining at the completion of a stage is added to the allotted time of the subsequent stage, which begins immediately. Total on-course time will be no greater than 60 minutes.

  2. 3.c.ii.  The natural terrain around MDRS includes soft sandy areas, rough stony areas, rock and boulder fields, vertical drops and steep slopes. Terrain will range from very easy and close to the starting line, to exceedingly difficult obstacles at greater distances also involving navigation challenges. Portions of this mission, particularly in later stages, will be intentionally placed beyond direct line-of-sight of the control station antenna. A script giving a general description of the individual tasks will be given to the teams prior to the competition.
  3. 3.c.iii.  Objects to be retrieved in the field will consist of small lightweight hand tools (e.g. screwdriver, hammer, wrench), supply containers (e.g. toolbox, gasoline can), or rocks up to 5 kg in mass. All items will have graspable features (such as a handle) no greater than 5 cm in diameter. The maximum dimensions shall be no larger than 40 cm x 40 cm x 40 cm, but teams should expect a variety of sizes and weights.
  4. 3.c.iv.  Objects shall be picked up in the field and delivered to designated locations, which may include markers or astronauts identifiable by simulated space suits. Approximate GPS coordinates will be provided for each pickup/delivery location, although accuracy may vary. In certain cases, specific instructions will be provided for each object in advance, and in other cases, the object to be delivered will be indicated at the delivery location (e.g. on a small sign held by the astronaut).
  5. 3.c.v.  Teams will be scored on their ability to pick up and deliver the correct objects to the correct locations, and how close the object is placed to the objective within the allotted time. Points will not be awarded for partial completion of any particular task.

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3.d. Equipment Servicing Mission
Rovers shall be required to perform several dexterous operations on a mock-up equipment system. The rover shall have to travel up to 0.25 km across relatively flat terrain (minimal slope) to reach the equipment. The equipment servicing mission will involve delivering a cached science sample to a lander and performing maintenance on the lander. It will include but not be limited to some subset of the following sub-tasks:

  • Pick up the cache container and transport to the lander rocket. Cache will have a handle at least 10 cm long and not more than 5 cm in diameter. Cache will weigh less than 3 kg. The equipment servicing cache will be provided and may be partially buried.
  • Open a drawer on the lander. Insert cache into a close-fitting space in the drawer, and close the drawer.
  • Tighten captive screw to secure drawer. Screw will either be an 8 mm Allen (hex) head or a Phillips (cross) head. Teams may build the Phillips/Allen drivers into the rover, or pick up the screwdrivers provided.
  • Undo a latch on a hinged panel of the lander and open panel.
  • Type commands on a mechanical keyboard and follow directions on computer display.
  • Operate a joystick, push buttons, flip switches, turn knobs.
  • Turn a hand crank.
  • Replace an electronics board using a rugged board-to-board connector.

3.d.i. Teams will receive points for every sub-task completed successfully. Teams will have between 20 and 45 minutes to complete the mission.

3.e. Autonomous Traversal Mission

  1. 3.e.i.  Rovers shall be required to autonomously traverse between markers in this staged mission

    across moderately difficult terrain. Teams must complete each stage within the allotted time in order to proceed to the next stage. Failure to complete a stage will result in the end of the mission. Any time remaining at the completion of a stage is added to the allotted time of the subsequent stage, which begins immediately.

  2. 3.e.ii.  Teams may be required begin on this mission possibly as soon as 10 minutes after the completion of the Equipment Servicing Mission, operating from the same control station on an adjacent course. Total time on course will be between 30 and 60 minutes, and the cumulative distance of all legs shall be no greater than 2 km.
  3. 3.e.iii.  A leg is defined as the rover autonomously traversing from a start marker to a finish marker. Markers will be a standard tennis ball elevated 10 – 50 cm off the ground and GPS coordinates close to the markers will be provided. The finish marker of one leg will be used as the start marker of a subsequent leg.
  4. 3.e.iv.  Stages will increase in difficulty. Teleoperated scouting will be allowed in initial stages, but will not be allowed in later stages. Legs will progress with the marker getting further from the provided GPS coordinates, requiring a search for the marker once the GPS coordinates have been reached. Legs will also progress with more significant obstacles laying between the markers requiring obstacle avoidance or autonomous route finding.
  5. 3.e.v.  To complete a leg, teams must start with their rover within 2 m of the designated start marker. Before proceeding, teams must formally announce to judges that they are entering autonomous mode. In autonomous mode team members may monitor video and telemetry information sent from the rover, but may not transmit any commands that would be considered teleoperation.
  6. 3.e.vi.  The rover shall autonomously navigate from the start marker to the finish marker. The rover’s on-board systems are required to decide when it has reached the finish marker, and transmit a message back to operators that is displayed for the judge to observe. It must also provide a visual signal on the rover that can be observed by a judge following the

rover. A 2 m radius from the marker to the closest point on the rover will be considered

successful.
3.e.vii. In stages where teleoperation is allowed, operators may abort autonomous operation and revert

to teleoperation at any time, but the time will continue to run and teams shall be required to resume that leg in autonomous mode from the start marker. Interventions that require the physical intervention of runners are still penalized as in rule 2.d. In legs where teleoperation is not allowed, operators may only abort autonomous operations and request the physical intervention of runners, which is still penalized as in rule 2.d. and the rover must be returned to the start marker of that leg.

3.e.viii.Teams may resume teleoperation mode when the rover indicates it is at a marker and conduct any operations prior to attempting the subsequent leg but competition time will not stop. In stages where teleoperation is not allowed teleoperation at a marker shall not include driving of the rover, but programming of the next leg is allowed.

 


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What is Xometry?

Case Study: Xometry Helps UC Irvine Rocket Team Prepare for Spaceshot

A young team of rocket engineers builds the most critical component of a rocket, the fuel injector, with high precision CNC Machining at Xometry

By Serena Ngoh · March 26, 2019

A fuel injector is the most critical component of any rocket engine because if it fails, the rocket will not reach space, or worse, could spontaneously combust. A fuel injector, as the name indicates, is the part of an engine that injects fuel into the combustion chamber at a rate that determines the efficiency of the engine. Designing a fuel injector, however, is a double-edged sword because chemical stability is sacrificed if efficiency is optimized.

Development Challenge: Build an Explosion-Proof Fuel Injector

The UC Irvine Rocket Project is the first endeavor of its kind at the University of California, Irvine. This team of 31 students has taken on the challenge of designing and building a liquid-fueled rocket that will launch into space by 2021, in preparation for the FAR-Mars Launch Contest and the Base 11 Space Challenge. Their first and biggest challenge is to build a fuel injector that will subsequently lead to the development of an engine with the capability of sending a rocket to a height of 100 km above Earth’s sea level.

Over the past few quarters, the team has developed a strong base design for the rocket that meets the requirements of the FAR-Mars competition. They’ll create a liquid bipropellant rocket that uses liquid methane and liquid oxygen as its propellants. This chain of chemical reactions will allow the engine to thrust upwards at a force of 1,300 lbs for a duration of approximately 7.5 seconds. The maximum total impulse allowed is 9,208 lbf-seconds and a total rocket mass under 155 lbs. For the rocket to perform at maximum efficiency within these parameters, “everything is contingent on the fuel injector working,” says Chief Engineer Mitchell Martinez.

When Martinez brought the preliminary fuel injector design to injector specialists at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, his internship mentors told him the design would likely cause the injector to fail in a matter of microseconds. Undeterred, the UC Irvine team iterated until they reached a final prototype that has a less efficient, but more stable burn. In consultation with local and on-campus professional machinists, they designed their injector features to be manufactured in two steps. The first would use CNC machining with standard tooling and the second would use wire EDM for the injector elements.

Manufacturing Solution: High-Precision CNC Machining with Xometry is Best for Stable Rockets

Several design considerations were involved in the creation of the UC Irvine team’s injector parts, which Xometry manufactured using its CNC Machining Services.

  • Engine stability: The student team chose a showerhead injector design with straight throughholes. This design allows for less fuel mixing but increased stability.
  • The UC Irvine team designed these critical tight tolerances to ensure the injector creates a uniform burn, which will allow the flow to evenly exit the engine so the rocket launches perpendicular to the ground.
  • Precision Fitment: Xometry manufactured the injector fitments at the tightest tolerance range of +/- 0.001. The UC Irvine team designed these critical tight tolerances to allow the components to be assembled freely while still providing some level of sealing in case of an O-Ring failure.
  • Precise assembly: The team designed a groove in the end plate, so Xometry manufactured the end plate with a specific surface area smoothness of 16uin/0.4um Ra in which to place an O-ring.

Cryogenic shock-resistant material: The team’s choice of material was aluminum 6061 because when this metal is exposed to cryogenics like liquid methane and liquid oxygen, it will not experience detrimental effects from cryogenic shock.


Injector Plate – Without Elements

Injector Radial Passage – Oxygen Inlets

Injector Inlet – Methane Dome

The Final Outcome: High-Quality, Cost-Effective, and Fast Manufacturing with Xometry

The UC Irvine Rocket Project team was excited to receive their parts in pristine shape and exactly to specification. Martinez said,

“The presentation of the package showed so much attention to detail. We inspected the parts and verified all the manufacturing requirements.”

Left to right: Chief Engineer Mitchell Martinez, Project Manager Rasheed Aziz, and Project Lead Tan Nguyen

Since the fuel injector was manufactured exactly to spec, the team is confident the rocket’s engine should perform as they designed it and without any error introduced from the manufacturing process. They can now design the rest of the rocket components confidently, from the structure to the control and recovery system to the plumbing.

Additionally, since Xometry was able to manufacture the fuel injector components at a low cost, the team has increased budget flexibility. They can now focus on perfecting designs for the remaining parts and on more rigorous testing operations.

Working with Xometry was a quick and easy process overall. The UC Irvine team requested multiple bids and chose Xometry as their supplier because Xometry’s Instant Quoting Engine℠ provided the fastest lead time, best price, and best user experience. Martinez said, “The auto-quote feature is fantastic. Being able to instantly generate a baseline quote was great so we could submit that to the higher-ups, our faculty mentors.”

Xometry is proud to have facilitated the student team’s work on a project of a previously unseen scale and significance. Xometry’s receptive support and engineering teams guided the up-and-coming student engineers, many of which did not have prior experience with ordering custom parts. Tan Nguyen, Operations Lead, told the team’s sales representative,

“Thank you so much for your help and patience through the ordering process. All the help you’ve given us has definitely taught us a lot.”

Martinez ultimately describes Xometry as a combination of precise, affordable, and fast:

“[In a business], those three don’t normally go together, but that’s why we’re so enamored by the work that Xometry has done for us. You all have completely exceeded our expectations. We’re very happy to have chosen Xometry.”

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About Xometry

Xometry is your one-stop shop for manufacturing on demand. Xometry works with 32% of Fortune 100 companies, offering 24/7 access to instant pricing, expected lead times and manufacturability feedback. Xometry’s nationwide network of 2,500+ partner manufacturing facilities guarantees consistently fast lead times across a broad array of capabilities, including CNC Machining, 3D Printing, Sheet Metal, Metal Stamping, Die Casting, Extrusion, Urethane Casting, and Injection Molding.

 


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I have a great plan for Mars

SEMI FINALISTS SELECTED FOR MARS COLONY PRIZE COMPETITION

May 24, 2019

Twenty five teams, including entrants from the USA, UK, Japan, Poland, France, Switzerland Sweden, Finland, and Israel have been selected out of a field of 100 competitors as semi-finalists in the Mars Society’s Mars Colony Prize design contest.

The Mars Colony Prize design contest challenged people from all walks of life anywhere in the world to design a 1000 person Mars Colony, with design criteria including technical merit (40 points), economic viability (30 points) and social, political, and aesthetic  considerations (10 points each). The semi-finalists were chosen on the basis of their 20 page design studies as the top 4 to 6 out of five groups of twenty, each evaluated by two judges. Now all 25 will be evaluated by all 10 judges to narrow the field down to 8 to 10 finalists who will be invited to present their concepts in person before the judges at the Mars Society Convention at the University of Southern California, October 17-20. The winners will then be announced at the conference banquet on the evening of Saturday October 19, with the first prize winner receiving $10,000, the second $5000 and the third $2500.

All the Semi-Finalists will be invited to have their design papers included in a book, “Mars Colonies: Plans for Settling the Red Planet,” to be published by the Mars Society.

A list of the Semifinalists is below (in alphabetical order by Team/Individual Name):

Country  Team or Individual Name (For Teams Only) Names of all Team Members
USA Alex Dworzanczyk
Finland Brotherhood of Romulus and Remus Tuomas Lehtinen, Kartik Naik, Samuel Ocaña Losada amd Florian Reiner
USA Chris Wolfe
USA CrowdSpace Oleg Demidov, Ray Mercedes, Alexander Morozov, Vitalii Pashkin, Michael Denisov, Nata Volkova, Annet Nosova, Kristina Karacharskova, Tatiana Schaga
USA Emerging Futures LLC Jeffery Greenblatt, Akhil Rao
United Kingdom Endeavour Silviu-Vlad Pirvu, Mateusz Portka, Eduard-Ernest Pastor, Sławomir Tyczyński, Ibok Kegbokokim, Roxana Lupu
Japan Hiroyuki Miyajima Reiji Moroshima, Tomofumi Hirosaki, Shunsuke Miyazaki, Mayumi Arai, and Takuma Ishibashi
Poland Ideacity Justyna Pelc, Beata Suścicka, Magdalena Kubajewska, Piotr Torchała, Andrzej Reinke
USA James D. Little
USA Jason Preston
USA Kent Nebergall
Switzerland LET IT BE Pierre BRISSON / Richard Heidmann / Tatiana VOLKOVA
Israel MarsKibu Maayan Aharoni, Nitzan Anav, Neal Fischer, Eldar Gantz, Noa Guy, Yuval Porat, Liran Renert, Hilel Rubinstein, Eran Schenker, Hila Sharabi, Alon Shikar, Mikhail Raizanski, Doron Landau, Reut Sorek-Abramovich, Moti Cohen, David Warmflash, Helen Wexler, Moshe Zagai
USA MIT Star City George Lordos, Andreas Lordos
USA Nergal Mars Settlement Audrey Douglas, Cassandra Plevyak
USA Pesca Vincenzo Donofrio, Meghan Kirk
USA Stefanie Schur
USA Steve Theno, PE
USA Team Bold Wise, Saffel, Fagin, Livermore, Davis
USA Team Bubolaq Stellie Ford, Tessa Young, Julianna Ricco
Sweden Team Dvaraka Bhardwaj Shastri, Arvind Mukundan, Alice Phen, Akash Patel, Heeral Bhatt
FRANCE Team ENSC Caroline Cavel, Laetitia Calice, Adrien Leduque, Mateo Mahaut, Jean-Marc Salotti
USA Team Spaceship Robert Mahoney, Alex Bryant, Matthew Hayward, Tim Mew, Thomas Green, Josh Simmich
USA Wesley Stine
Poland Wroclaw University of Science and Technology Amanda Solaniuk,  Anna Wojcik,  Joanna Kuzma,  Natalia Cwilichowska,  Katarzyna Lis,  Slawek Malkowski,  Dariusz Szczotkowski,  Szymon Loj,  Orest Savystskyi,  Dominik Liskiewicz,  Wojciech Fikus,  Jakub Nalewaj,  Ania Jurga,  Leszek Orzechowski, Bartosz Drozd,  Paweł Gorniak,  Krzysztof Ratajczak, Paweł Piszko,  Maciej Piorun,

 

Commenting on the results, Mars Society president Dr. Robert Zubrin said: “I’m enormously impressed by the quality of the design studies submitted. The teams investigated all aspects of Mars colonization, and many found unique new approaches in all sorts of areas. There were so many great proposals that it was painful to be forced to narrow the field. It was terrific to see how the challenge of starting a new branch of human civilization and beginning our future history as a spacefaring species has inspired and mobilized the talent, hopes, and dreams of all kinds of people from all over the world. It really shows how Mars can bring humanity together.”

 


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Designing A Colony on Mars: Semi Finalists

SEMI FINALISTS SELECTED FOR MARS COLONY PRIZE COMPETITION

May 24, 2019

Twenty five teams, including entrants from the USA, UK, Japan, Poland, France, Switzerland Sweden, Finland, and Israel have been selected out of a field of 100 competitors as semi-finalists in the Mars Society’s Mars Colony Prize design contest.

The Mars Colony Prize design contest challenged people from all walks of life anywhere in the world to design a 1000 person Mars Colony, with design criteria including technical merit (40 points), economic viability (30 points) and social, political, and aesthetic  considerations (10 points each). The semi-finalists were chosen on the basis of their 20 page design studies as the top 4 to 6 out of five groups of twenty, each evaluated by two judges. Now all 25 will be evaluated by all 10 judges to narrow the field down to 8 to 10 finalists who will be invited to present their concepts in person before the judges at the Mars Society Convention at the University of Southern California, October 17-20. The winners will then be announced at the conference banquet on the evening of Saturday October 19, with the first prize winner receiving $10,000, the second $5000 and the third $2500.

All the Semi-Finalists will be invited to have their design papers included in a book, “Mars Colonies: Plans for Settling the Red Planet,” to be published by the Mars Society.

A list of the Semifinalists is below (in alphabetical order by Team/Individual Name):

Country  Team or Individual Name (For Teams Only) Names of all Team Members
USA Alex Dworzanczyk
Finland Brotherhood of Romulus and Remus Tuomas Lehtinen, Kartik Naik, Samuel Ocaña Losada amd Florian Reiner
USA Chris Wolfe
USA CrowdSpace Oleg Demidov, Ray Mercedes, Alexander Morozov, Vitalii Pashkin, Michael Denisov, Nata Volkova, Annet Nosova, Kristina Karacharskova, Tatiana Schaga
USA Emerging Futures LLC Jeffery Greenblatt, Akhil Rao
United Kingdom Endeavour Silviu-Vlad Pirvu, Mateusz Portka, Eduard-Ernest Pastor, Sławomir Tyczyński, Ibok Kegbokokim, Roxana Lupu
Japan Hiroyuki Miyajima Reiji Moroshima, Tomofumi Hirosaki, Shunsuke Miyazaki, Mayumi Arai, and Takuma Ishibashi
Poland Ideacity Justyna Pelc, Beata Suścicka, Magdalena Kubajewska, Piotr Torchała, Andrzej Reinke
USA James D. Little
USA Jason Preston
USA Kent Nebergall
Switzerland LET IT BE Pierre BRISSON / Richard Heidmann / Tatiana VOLKOVA
Israel MarsKibu Maayan Aharoni, Nitzan Anav, Neal Fischer, Eldar Gantz, Noa Guy, Yuval Porat, Liran Renert, Hilel Rubinstein, Eran Schenker, Hila Sharabi, Alon Shikar, Mikhail Raizanski, Doron Landau, Reut Sorek-Abramovich, Moti Cohen, David Warmflash, Helen Wexler, Moshe Zagai
USA MIT Star City George Lordos, Andreas Lordos
USA Nergal Mars Settlement Audrey Douglas, Cassandra Plevyak
USA Pesca Vincenzo Donofrio, Meghan Kirk
USA Stefanie Schur
USA Steve Theno, PE
USA Team Bold Wise, Saffel, Fagin, Livermore, Davis
USA Team Bubolaq Stellie Ford, Tessa Young, Julianna Ricco
Sweden Team Dvaraka Bhardwaj Shastri, Arvind Mukundan, Alice Phen, Akash Patel, Heeral Bhatt
FRANCE Team ENSC Caroline Cavel, Laetitia Calice, Adrien Leduque, Mateo Mahaut, Jean-Marc Salotti
USA Team Spaceship Robert Mahoney, Alex Bryant, Matthew Hayward, Tim Mew, Thomas Green, Josh Simmich
USA Wesley Stine
Poland Wroclaw University of Science and Technology Amanda Solaniuk,  Anna Wojcik,  Joanna Kuzma,  Natalia Cwilichowska,  Katarzyna Lis,  Slawek Malkowski,  Dariusz Szczotkowski,  Szymon Loj,  Orest Savystskyi,  Dominik Liskiewicz,  Wojciech Fikus,  Jakub Nalewaj,  Ania Jurga,  Leszek Orzechowski, Bartosz Drozd,  Paweł Gorniak,  Krzysztof Ratajczak, Paweł Piszko,  Maciej Piorun,

 

Commenting on the results, Mars Society president Dr. Robert Zubrin said: “I’m enormously impressed by the quality of the design studies submitted. The teams investigated all aspects of Mars colonization, and many found unique new approaches in all sorts of areas. There were so many great proposals that it was painful to be forced to narrow the field. It was terrific to see how the challenge of starting a new branch of human civilization and beginning our future history as a spacefaring species has inspired and mobilized the talent, hopes, and dreams of all kinds of people from all over the world. It really shows how Mars can bring humanity together.”

 


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What are Tiger Teams?

Tiger Teams in the Space Program

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A Tiger team is a term used for a team of specialists formed to work on specific goals.[1]

A 1964 paper entitled Program Management in Design and Development used the term tiger teams and defined it as “a team of undomesticated and uninhibited technical specialists, selected for their experience, energy, and imagination, and assigned to track down relentlessly every possible source of failure in a spacecraft subsystem”.[2] The paper consists of anecdotes and answers to questions from a panel on improving issues in program management concerning testing and quality assurance in aerospace vehicle development and production.[3] One of the authors was Walter C. Williams, an engineer at the Manned Spacecraft Center and part of the Edwards Air Force Base National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. Williams suggests that tiger teams are an effective and useful method for advancing the reliability of systems and subsystems in the context of actual flight environments.

  • A tiger team was crucial to the Apollo 13 lunar landing mission in 1970. During the mission, part of the Apollo 13 Service Module malfunctioned and exploded.[4] A team of specialists was formed to fix the issue and bring the astronauts back to earth safely, led by NASA Flight and Mission Operations Director Gene Kranz.[5] Kranz and the members of his “White Team”, later designated the “Tiger Team”, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for their efforts in the Apollo 13 mission.
  • In security work, a tiger team is a group that tests an organization’s ability to protect its assets by attempting to defeat its physical or information security. In this context, the tiger team is often a permanent team as security is typically an ongoing priority.[6] For example, one implementation of an information security tiger team approach divides the team into two co-operating groups: one for vulnerability research, which finds and researches the technical aspects of a vulnerability, and one for vulnerability management, which manages communication and feedback between the team and the organization, as well as ensuring each discovered vulnerability is tracked throughout its life-cycle and ultimately resolved.[6]
  • An initiative involving tiger teams was implemented by the United States Department of Energy (DOE) under then-Secretary James D. Watkins. From 1989 through 1992 the DOE formed tiger teams to assess 35 DOE facilities for compliance with environment, safety, and health requirements. Beginning in October 1991 smaller tiger teams were formed to perform more detailed follow up assessments to focus on the most pressing issues.[7]
  • The NASA Engineering and Safety Center (NESC) puts together “tiger teams” of engineers and scientists from multiple NASA centers to assist solving complex problems when requested by a project or program.[8]
  • Ryan Redd – A pioneer in leading teams and solving problems.

Bob Barboza, founder/director of the Barboza Space Center is training high school “Tiger Teams” at the Barboza Space Center in Long Beach, California. Students receive fellowships to work on a series of simulated Mars related projects.The Occupy Mars Learning Adventure project uses student “Tiger Teams” to solve problems with Mars colonization project-based learning integrating the Next Generation Science Standards.


  1. ^ Miller, Marilyn; Armon, Rick (June 6, 2016). “University of Akron announces new “Tiger Team” to address enrollment slide, finances, leadership issues”. Akron Beacon Journal. Akron Beacon Journal/Ohio.com. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  2. ^ J. R. Dempsey, W. A. Davis, A. S. Crossfield, and Walter C. Williams, “Program Management in Design and Development,” in Third Annual Aerospace Reliability and Maintainability Conference, Society of Automotive Engineers, 1964, p. 7–8
  3. ^ “Login – SAE Mobilus”. saemobilus.sae.org.
  4. ^ “Apollo 13 Accident”. nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov.
  5. ^ “Gene Kranz A Blast from The Past” (PDF). Retrieved August 29, 2017.
  6. ^ Jump up to: a b Laakso, Marko; Takanen, Ari; Röning, Juha (1999). “The vulnerability process: a tiger team approach to resolving vulnerability cases”. Proc. 11th FIRST Conf. Computer Security Incident Handling and Response. Brisbane, Australia: CiteSeerX: 1–2, 6. Retrieved 28 September 2016.