NASA’s First Mission to the Trojan Asteroids Installs its Final Scientific Instrument

Two engineers work on L’Ralph, the most complicated instrument that will fly on the Lucy mission to Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids. It is actually two instruments in one. The Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC), will take visible light color images. The Linear Etalon Imaging Spectral Array (LEISA), will collect infrared spectra. (Credits: NASA/Goddard/Barbara Lambert/Desiree Stover)

LITTLETON, Colo. (NASA PR) — With less than a year to launch, NASA’s Lucy mission’s third and final scientific instrument has been integrated onto the spacecraft.

The spacecraft, which will be the first to explore the Trojan asteroids — a population of small bodies that share an orbit with Jupiter — is in the final stages of the assembly process. Just five months ago, at the beginning of the Assembly, Testing and Launch operations (ATLO) process, the components of the Lucy spacecraft were being built all over the country. Today, a nearly assembled spacecraft sits in the high bay in Lockheed Martin Space in Littleton, Colorado.

(more…)

Tricky Terrain: Helping to Assure a Safe Rover Landing

Mars 2020’s Perseverance rover is equipped with a lander vision system based on terrain-relative navigation, an advanced method of autonomously comparing real-time images to preloaded maps that determine the rover’s position relative to hazards in the landing area. Divert guidance algorithms and software can then direct the rover around those obstacles if needed. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

How two new technologies will help Perseverance, NASA’s most sophisticated rover yet, touch down onto the surface of Mars this month.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — After a nearly seven-month journey to Mars, NASA’s Perseverance rover is slated to land at the Red Planet’s Jezero Crater Feb. 18, 2021, a rugged expanse chosen for its scientific research and sample collection possibilities.

(more…)

NASA Sets Week of Feb. 21 for Repeat of Green Run Test

The core stage for the first flight of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket is seen in the B-2 Test Stand during a scheduled eight minute duration hot fire test, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021, at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. The four RS-25 engines fired for a little more than one minute. The hot fire test is the final stage of the Green Run test series, a comprehensive assessment of the Space Launch System’s core stage prior to launching the Artemis I mission to the Moon. (Credit: NASA/Robert Markowitz)

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (NASA PR) — Media are invited to attend NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket’s  second Green Run hot fire – a test of the rocket’s core stage and all of its integrated systems before its flight on the Artemis I lunar mission. NASA is targeting the week of Feb. 21 for the test in the B-2 Test Stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. The date for the test will be set following the test readiness review.

(more…)

Redwire Selected to Develop Deployable Systems for NASA’s Solar Cruiser Mission

The technology demonstration mission will expand agile sailcraft technology and scientific discovery

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., January 26, 2021 (Redwire PR) – Redwire, a new leader in mission critical space solutions and high reliability components for the next generation space economy, announced today that its subsidiary Roccor has been awarded a subcontract to support NASA’s Solar Cruiser technology demonstration mission funded through NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. Roccor was selected by NASA to develop the deployable structure for a nearly 18,000 square foot (1,600 m2) solar sail that will allow solar scientists to view the sun from different perspectives—and stay in orbit longer—than before. 

(more…)

New NASA Challenge Offers Prizes for Sprouting Astronaut Food Systems

NASA and the Canadian Space Agency have coordinated to open the Deep Space Food Challenge, targeted at developing novel food system technologies for long-duration deep space missions. (Credits: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Astronauts need hearty nutrients to maintain a healthy diet in space, but like any of us, they want their food to taste good, too! As NASA develops concepts for longer crewed missions to Mars and beyond, the agency will need innovative and sustainable food systems that check all the boxes.

(more…)

NASA Selects 4 Concepts for Small Missions to Study Universe’s Secrets

As neutron stars collide, some of the debris blasts away in particle jets moving at nearly the speed of light, producing a brief burst of gamma rays. (Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/CI Lab)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has chosen four small-scale astrophysics missions for further concept development in a new program called Pioneers. Through small satellites and scientific balloons, these selections enable new platforms for exploring cosmic phenomena such as galaxy evolution, exoplanets, high-energy neutrinos, and neutron star mergers.

(more…)

Tiny NASA Cameras to Watch Commercial Lander form Craters on Moon

HAMPTON, Va. (NASA PR) — This little black camera looks like something out of a spy movie — the kind of device one might use to snap discrete photos of confidential documents.

It’s about half the size of a computer mouse.

But the only spying this camera — four of them, actually — will do is for NASA researchers wondering what happens under a spacecraft as it lands on the Moon.

(more…)

NASA Space Launch System Rocket Proceeding with Green Run Hot Fire

Fully loading the propellant and detecting no leaks is a major milestone for the Green Run test series. A total of 114 tanker trucks delivered propellant to six propellant barges next to the B-2 Test Stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. The barges deliver more than 733,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen to the core stage for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket as part of the seventh test in the Green Run test series. The wet dress rehearsal test marks the first time propellant is loaded and drained from the propellant tanks of the stage that will help power Artemis I. Six propellant barges send fuel through a special feed system and lines in the test stand to the rocket stage. (Credits: NASA)

BAY St. Louis, Miss. (NASA PR) — NASA is targeting the final test in the Green Run series, the hot fire, for as early as Jan.17. The hot fire is the culmination of the Green Run test series, an eight-part test campaign that gradually brings the core stage of the Space Launch System (SLS) — the deep space rocket that will power the agency’s next-generation human Moon missions — to life for the first time.

(more…)

Dynetics Achieves Critical NASA Milestone, Delivers Key Data on Lunar Lander Program

Credit: Dynetics

The company and its subcontractors complete a major step in the Human Landing System (HLS) competition while continuing to perform significant hardware and software development activities

HUNTSVILLE, Ala., Jan. 6, 2021 – Dynetics, a wholly owned subsidiary of Leidos, has submitted its proposal for Option A of the Human Landing System (HLS) for NASA’s Artemis Program. The Dynetics team has also completed the HLS Continuation Review, a critical milestone during the 10-month base period, which NASA will use to assess progress on HLS hardware development and program plans.

(more…)

NASA Completes Design Review of the SLS Exploration Upper Stage

This illustration shows the Exploration Upper Stage (EUS) for the evolved configuration of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. (Credits: NASA/Terry White)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — The Exploration Upper Stage (EUS) for future flights of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket has passed its Critical Design Review, or CDR. 

A panel of experts evaluated the EUS in the latest review to determine that the stage’s design meets requirements for future missions. This most recent assessment certifies the EUS meets critical design requirements to withstand deep space environments and when completed will ensure astronaut safety.

The review board also evaluated testing processes, the ability of the industrial base to supply parts and tooling, and production plans. Boeing, the prime contractor for the EUS as well as the core stage, will manufacture and assemble the upper stage at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. 

A structural test article of the stage will undergo testing at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, where the SLS Program is managed. The flight article will undergo Green Run testing at the agency’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, before its first flight, similar to the SLS core stage Green Run testing currently in progress, including a hot firing of the engines.

NASA is working to land the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024. SLS and Orion, along with the human landing system and theGateway in orbit around the Moon, are NASA’s backbone for deep space exploration. 

For more on NASA’s SLS, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/sls

3 Things We’ve Learned From NASA’s Mars

Credit: NASA

InSight scientists are finding new mysteries since the geophysics mission landed two years ago.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s InSight spacecraft touched down Nov. 26, 2018, on Mars to study the planet’s deep interior. A little more than one Martian year later, the stationary lander has detected more than 480 quakes and collected the most comprehensive weather data of any surface mission sent to Mars. InSight’s probe, which has struggled to dig underground to take the planet’s temperature, has made progress, too.

(more…)

3D Printed Rocket Engine Parts Survive 23 Hot-Fire Tests

Hot-fire testing of an additively manufactured copper alloy combustion chamber and a nozzle made of a high-strength hydrogen resistant alloy. (Credits: NASA)

By Hillary Smith
NASA’s Game Changing Development Program

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Future lunar landers might come equipped with 3D printed rocket engine parts that help bring down overall manufacturing costs and reduce production time. NASA is investing in advanced manufacturing – one of five industries of the future – to make it possible.

(more…)

NASA Selects Solar Sail, Earth Atmosphere Study SmallSat Missions

Solar Cruiser spacecraft (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected two SmallSat missions – a study of Earth’s outer most atmosphere and a solar sail spaceflight test mission – to share a ride to space in 2025 with the agency’s Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP).

The missions – the Global Lyman-alpha Imagers of the Dynamic Exosphere (GLIDE) and Solar Cruiser – were selected as Solar Terrestrial Probes (STP) Missions of Opportunity. GLIDE will help researchers understand the upper reaches of Earth’s atmosphere – the exosphere – where it touches space. Solar Cruiser demonstrate the use of solar photons for propulsion in space.

(more…)

Dig In: NASA Challenge Seeks Innovations to Excavate Moon Resources

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — From garage inventors to university students and entrepreneurs, NASA is looking for ideas on how to excavate the Moon’s icy regolith, or dirt, and deliver it to a hypothetical processing plant at the lunar South Pole. The NASA Break the Ice Lunar Challenge, now open for registration, is designed to develop new technologies that could support a sustained human presence on the Moon by the end of the decade.

(more…)