Posts Tagged: "U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration"

Capitol Hill Roundup

This week is a very busy one on Capitol Hill where hearings on various subjects related to technology and innovation are concerned. The House of Representatives will hold hearings on Chinese threats in innovation supremacy as well as nuclear energy and the American Innovation Act of 2018. The Senate will host hearings focused on quantum information science, consumer data privacy and reducing health care costs through innovation. Both houses will hold hearings to look at activities going on at the nation’s space exploration agency, NASA.

Benefits of NASA Space Directive on Mars could be Limited by Uncertain Software, Biotech Patentability

President Donald Trump signed a new space policy directive for human expansion across the solar system, a directive which hearkens at least slightly back to Horace Greeley’s “Go West, young man.” Increased human expansion in space will produce innovations that can improve human life on Earth to the benefit of U.S. consumers, provided our nation’s struggling IP regime can be righted for the proper commercialization of such inventions.

Government and 3D Printing: A New Line of Innovation to Protect

For the last 20 years, manufacturers have used 3D printing to build prototypes, but it was only recently that this industrial technology entered the mainstream.  The 3D printing of products can enable faster time-to-market, save money, mitigate risk and allow manufacturers to customize a component to suit customer needs. 3D printing can produce individual, specifically tailored parts on demand. Boeing printed an entire plane cabin in 2013 and Ford can manufacture vehicle parts in four days that would have taken four months using traditional methods.

Other Barks for Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

The highest federal court in the United States declines to hear an appeal from tech giants on applying common sense to patent validity challenge proceedings. A group of pharmaceutical giants duke it out in a patent battle over a topical ointment for treating acne. The capital’s district court hears arguments in a case about compulsory copyright licenses. Also, President Trump signs a bill authorizing billions in funding for the nation’s space agency.

Other Barks & Bites for Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

Another covered business method review is overturned by the Federal Circuit because the Patent Trial and Appeal Board instituted a CBM on a patent that was not a CBM patent. China leads the world not only in stealing digital images protected by copyright but also in terms of trademark applications filed. The Catholic Church starts to take action in protecting its own intellectual property. Also, Alphabet’s self-driving car subsidiary files a lawsuit including patent and trade secret claims against ride sharing giant Uber.

Change in NASA focus between Administrations may be greatest threat to Mars mission

Multiple members of the hearing’s witness panel attested to the problems created when agency plans change during a change of administration, a problem which Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Stafford, a NASA astronaut during the Gemini and Apollo programs and a member of NASA’s International Space Station Advisory Committee, said has been detrimental to the space program. “We have in recent years seen all too clearly the consequences of a failure to carry out long-term objectives,” Stafford said, referring to NASA’s activities under the Obama Administration as “eight years of lost opportunities… NASA’s present does not do justice to its past.” During questioning, Stafford recommended reestablishing the National Space Council (NSC), which had shown effectiveness in the past in ensuring that multi-year NASA missions which span administrations, such as the Apollo mission to the moon, reach their goal. Stafford also noted that if the federal government had stuck to previous plans to reach Mars, such as were discussed as part of the Space Exploration Initiative carried on under the administration of George H. W. Bush, humans could have reached Mars as early as 2016.

NASA, AIPLA, IPO among those who oppose USPTO fee increases

According to the USPTO, the fee increases are designed to better cover the costs of the USPTO’s main patent operations as well as PTAB operations and administrative services. This would be the first major change in fees pursued by the USPTO under their authority to set fees since March 2013; that fee-setting authority is allowed under terms of the America Invents Act (AIA) of 2011… “The fee increase will exacerbate an already existing issue in determining which of these new invention disclosures should be patented,” NASA’s comment reads. “We understand the basis for the upward fee adjustments, but as a Federal Agency subjected to the Congressional Appropriations process, NASA wishes to point out the dichotomy of one Federal Agency’s ability to generate fees at the expense of others.” The direct impact that the fee increases will have on NASA’s patenting activities creates tension with NASA’s federal statutory mandates on technology transfer.

Senate unanimously passes NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2016

The NASA Transition Authorization Act would require NASA to develop propulsion technologies intended to reduce travel time to Mars, as well as develop a strategic framework for human space flight to Mars, and would also require NASA to develop a transition plan that would enable greater participation in the International Space Station (ISS).

NASA releases 56 patents to public domain, creates searchable database portal for commercial spin-offs

NASA released 56 formerly-patented technologies to the public domain so that they can be used by commercial enterprises prior to their expiration. Patents released by NASA into the public domain were selected based on the low likelihood that the patents would be licensed by private enterprise because of low demand for resulting products. Other patents cover technologies that require further development before products are market-ready.

NASA’s Juno craft to reach Jupiter on July 4th to find what’s hidden beneath the clouds

Since 1972, NASA has sent a series of eight spacecraft to this fifth planet in our solar system, including Cassini and Galileo. This 4th of July, NASA engineers and scientists are hoping for the successful arrival of Juno, the latest spacecraft to visit this massive planetary body. When it arrives at Jupiter, Juno will fire up its main engine for 35 minutes to enter an elliptical orbit around the planet. Juno’s mission will see it orbit Jupiter at least 37 times at a distance of 5,000 km (3,100 mi) from the top of Jupiter’s cloud atmosphere, the closest any craft has come to this planet.

Mount St. Helens sees increased seismic activity as anniversary of eruption nears

This year, May 18th will mark the 36th anniversary of the eruption of Mount St. Helens, an active stratovolcano situated in Washington State’s Skamania County and part of the Cascade Range of mountains. The upcoming anniversary looks like it’s shaping up to be a special one for this major volcano, which is no longer dormant. A recent weekly update on seismic activity measured at the Cascades Volcano Observatory (CVO), produced by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), reports a “continued pattern of slightly elevated seismicity” at Mount St. Helens. This seismic activity has been going on for about two months. More than 130 earthquakes ranging in depth from 1.2 miles to 4 miles have been detected in the region since March 13th by the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN). Most of the earthquakes measure a magnitude of 0.5 or less but their frequency has been stunning, with as many as 40 earthquakes per week, which has led scientists to believe that the volcano may be recharging even if it won’t erupt any day soon.

NASA’s Kepler: Discovering 1,000+ exoplanets, and counting

When the K2 mission became fully operational in July 2014, it was supposed to run until 2018 at the latest. This timeline was threatened, however, when a routine contact with the spacecraft this April uncovered the fact that Kepler had placed itself in emergency mode, preventing NASA engineers from completing a planned Kepler maneuver. Within a week, however, NASA was able to recover Kepler from emergency mode which allows the telescope to enter a new phase of research, which will see Kepler survey millions of stars at the center of the Milky Way.

Federal funding for a cancer moonshot is not a terrible idea

To hear Ars Technica say it is ”a terrible idea” to devote increased funding in order to eradicate cancer is astonishing on many levels. As part of the reason why he believes increased funding for cancer research is a terrible idea he explains that great strides have been made with respect to treatments and cures, which is true. Of course, it is also true that people are dying and they are dying horrible deaths. With the victories and advances that have been made over the last generation it is no longer fanciful to dream of a day when cancer can become eradicated. So why is it a terrible idea to devote more resources on a so-called cancer moonshot to attempt to once and for all put an end to this scourge? For anyone to call President Obama’s cancer moonshot a terrible idea is nothing short of cruel, and is frankly incredibly stupid.

NASA is seeking answers for growing plants, constructing buildings on Mars

Now that NASA has announced its goal of sending a manned space mission to Mars sometime in the 2030s, the race is on to accomplish many of the scientific discoveries that will be required to support human life in space. On October 7th, NASA announced the In Situ Resource Utilization Challenge to drum up new ideas on how to use the resources available on the Red Planet to support life there. A prize pool of $15,000 will be distributed amongst three winning entries that will be announced by NASA next January; first place will receive $10,000, while the two runner-ups will each receive $2,500. Discoveries coming from this scientific competition will help to dramatically reduce the costs associated with sending a manned mission to Mars. The competition will close on December 3rd.

NASA’s Cassini orbiter sends back data from Saturn leading up to the mission’s Grand Finale

Powering Cassini towards the sixth planet of our solar system, and helping it to perform the braking techniques required to pull the craft into orbit around Saturn, is a propulsion module constructed by Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE:LMT). This module, the largest U.S. planetary spacecraft propulsion system ever constructed, was fired up 16 times while Cassini traveled to Saturn and will be used more than 100 times over the entire course of the already extended mission. Lockheed also built the Titan IV/Centaur rocket that launched Cassini-Huygens into space back in 1997.