Kennedy Space Center’s Education Programs and University Research Division
recently awarded several grants to support future spaceport technology work.

Two years ago KSC’s education office, led by Pam Biegert, KSC’s Education
Programs and University Research Division chief, sought additional funding
for new university partnerships. The funding request was approved, and KSC
issued grant announcements relating to student intern activity and technical

The technical activity supports two areas: cryogenics and life sciences. In
the cryogenics area, University of Central Florida and Southern University
(Baton Rouge, LA) will work independently to investigate cryogenic switch

“This will be good work that will relate to other activity in one of our key
areas — the cryogenics test bed,” said KSC Chief Technologist Dr. Dave
Bartine. “We are happy to have two strong universities working with us in
this area.”

In the life sciences area, Ohio State University will be teaming up with Dr.
John Sager, autonomous harvester for plants in space, and others to look at
technology for harvesting food on longer duration Space Shuttle missions.

“This is an excellent opportunity for NASA to leverage the current
automation research in the university community that is applicable to our
life support project goals,” said Dr. Sager. “This work will advance NASA’s
objectives, will keep basic work in this area active, and will increase our
collaborative efforts with academia.”

This project may also have technology transfer potential for production
agriculture such as citrus producers interested in automating some of their
harvesting activity.

In the student programs, three grants were awarded. The first brings interns
to KSC from Penn State’s Minority Engineering Program. The second recruits
engineering students from Florida International University.

“Both these programs will bring a diverse group of engineering students to
KSC to get a taste of engineering in the nation’s space program,” said Gregg
Buckingham, KSC’s university programs lead. “It will also give us a chance
to get to know some talented students who may become future employees.”

The third program is a grant to Alabama A & M University to work with their
statistics department in drafting interns and supporting curriculum changes
at their institution.

Each of the grants is approximately $100,000 and lasts for one year. KSC
received twelve other grant proposals, which will be held pending any future
funding availability.