NASA Ground, Marine Teams Integral to Moving SLS Rocket to Pad

NASA’s Ground Transportation team guides NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket’s completed core stage from NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans to the agency’s Pegasus barge on Jan. 8. NASA’s Marine Transportation team and Pegasus crew then shipped the rocket stage to NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, for the core stage Green Run test series. The 212-foot-tall core stage is currently undergoing Green Run testing. (Credits: NASA/Tyler Martin)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — As NASA prepares for the first launch of Artemis I, the first mission of the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft to the Moon, one team will be there every step of the way: the aptly nicknamed “SLS Move Team.”

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Using Augmented Reality to Prepare Orion Hardware for Artemis II Crewed Mission

Mary Lakaszcyck, a technician with ASRC Federal Data Solutions, a subcontractor to Orion manufacturer Lockheed Martin, demonstrates a pair of augmented reality (AR) goggles inside the high bay of the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building high bay at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Jan. 16, 2020. (Credits: NASA/Cory Huston)

By Linda Herridge
NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center

Augmented reality, also known as AR, is a powerful tool that engineers are using to enable NASA to send humans to the Moon under the agency’s Artemis  program. Lockheed Martin, lead contractor for NASA’s Orion spacecraft, is currently using AR to increase efficiency in building the spacecraft for Artemis II, the first crewed mission aboard Orion.

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Orion Ready for Final Artemis I Launch Preparations

Orion undergoing interference testing at NASA’s Plum Brook Station. (Credit: ESA)

By Danielle Sempsrott
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

NASA’s Orion spacecraft for Artemis I returned to the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on March 25 after engineers put it through the rigors of environmental testing at NASA’s Plum Brook Station in Ohio. At Kennedy, the spacecraft will undergo final processing and preparations prior to launching on the first in a series of increasingly complex missions to the Moon that will ultimately lead to the exploration of Mars.

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Audit: NASA Making Progress With Artemis Software

The first Artemis rocket stage is guided toward NASA’s Pegasus barge Jan. 8 ahead of its forthcoming journey to NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. (Credits: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA has made progress in improving the development of software for flights of the Space Launch System (SLS) booster and Orion spacecraft that will take American astronauts back to the moon, according to a new audit from the agency’s Office of Inspector General (OIG).

The software is on track to be ready for the first launch of SLS and an automated Orion capsule in 2021, the review found. However, challenges remain in the over budget and behind schedule effort.

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How Space Station Research is Helping NASA’s Plans to Explore the Moon and Beyond

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly undergoes ultrasound measurements for the Fluid Shifts experiment during his one-year mission. The investigation measures how much fluid shifts from the lower to the upper body and in or out of cells and blood vessels as well as the effect on vision and the eye. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — As part of the Artemis lunar exploration program, NASA plans to return astronauts to the Moon and use that experience to inform future human exploration of Mars. To safely and comfortably explore for days at a time on the surface of these celestial bodies, astronauts need suitable equipment and places to live. Almost 20 years of human habitation aboard the International Space Station and a growing body of research conducted there are contributing important insights into how to meet these needs for future lunar explorers.

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NASA Leadership Assessing Mission Impacts of Coronavirus

WASHINGTON, March 20, 2020 (NASA PR) — To protect the health and safety of the NASA workforce as the nation responds to coronavirus (COVID-19), agency leadership recently completed the first assessment of work underway across all missions, projects, and programs. The goal was to identify tasks that can be done remotely by employees at home, mission-essential work that must be performed on-site, and on-site work that will be paused.

“We are going to take care of our people. That’s our first priority,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “Technology allows us to do a lot of what we need to do remotely, but, where hands-on work is required, it is difficult or impossible to comply with CDC guidelines while processing spaceflight hardware, and where we can’t safely do that we’re going to have to suspend work and focus on the mission critical activities.” 

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NASA Moves to Stage 4 on Coronavirus Pandemic; SLS & Orion Testing Suspended

Jim Bridenstine (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Update on NASA’s Response to Coronavirus
by Jim Bridenstine
NASA Administrator

NASA leadership is determined to make the health and safety of its workforce its top priority as we navigate the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. To that end, the agency’s Michoud Assembly Facility and Stennis Space Center are moving to Stage 4 of the NASA Response Framework,  effective Friday, March 20.

The change at Stennis was made due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the community around the center, the number of self-isolation cases within our workforce there, and one confirmed case among our Stennis team.  While there are no confirmed cases at Michoud, the facility is moving to Stage 4 due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the local area, in accordance with local and federal guidelines.

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Mobile Launchers: NASA’s Billion Dollar Bungle

The VAB is the large building located in the upper left corner of the photograph and ML-1 is the tall tower-like structure resting on the crawler-transporter located in the lower right corner. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The latest audit of NASA’s troubled Artemis lunar program had some good news and some bad news regarding the mobile launch (ML) platforms that will be used for flights of the Space Launch System (SLS) that will send American astronauts back to the moon.

“After nearly a decade of development, ML-1 is nearing completion in support of the launch of Artemis I, the first integrated, uncrewed flight test of the SLS and the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (Orion),” the report from NASA Office of Inspector General (IG) said. (Full Report)

And now, the bad news.

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Test Version of Orion Capsule Recovered in the Pacific Ocean

Seahawks from the Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23, also known as Wildcards, fly by a test version of an Orion capsule during Underway Recovery Test-8 in the Pacific Ocean. (Credit: NASA/Tony Gray)

With the USS John P. Murtha (LPD 26) in the distance, helicopters from the HSC-23 squadron fly by a test version of an Orion capsule during Underway Recovery Test-8 in the Pacific Ocean. During this first full mission profile test of the recovery procedures for Artemis I, NASA’s Landing and Recovery team met their objectives.

Artemis I, formerly Exploration Mission-1, will be the first integrated flight test of NASA’s Deep Space Exploration Systems: the Orion spacecraft, Space Launch System rocket, with the newly upgraded Exploration Ground Systems at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. 

The primary goal of the mission is to assure a safe crew module entry, descent, splashdown and recovery. Artemis will land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024.

Orion Completes Environmental Tests at Plum Brook

Orion undergoing testing at Plum Brook Station. (Credit: NASA–Marvin Smith)

SANDUSKY, Ohio (ESA PR) — The first Orion spacecraft that will fly around the Moon as part of Artemis to return humans to the lunar surface has finished its space-environment tests at NASA’s Plum Brook Station in Ohio, USA.

The vehicle – that can transport up to four astronauts – consists of the European Service Module, the Crew Module and connecting adapter and all elements have now been given the stamp of approval for spaceflight after being subjected to the vacuum, extreme temperatures and electro-magnetic interference it will encounter during its trip to the Moon.

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Audit: SLS 33-43 Percent Over Budget, First Launch Slips to 2021

The first Artemis rocket stage is guided toward NASA’s Pegasus barge Jan. 8 ahead of its forthcoming journey to NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. (Credits: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The latest audit of NASA’s troubled Space Launch System (SLS) finds the program is now even more behind schedule and over budget than previously thought, with the space agency failing to fully account to Congress for almost $6 billion in program costs.

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Artemis I’s Orion Capsule Completes Testing

Orion undergoing testing at Plum Brook. (Credit: NASA)

NASA’s Orion spacecraft, a critical part of the agency’s Artemis I mission, has completed three months of testing at the agency’s Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio. During the testing, the craft was subjected to the extreme temperatures and electromagnetic environment it will experience in its upcoming test mission to the Moon.

Video: NASA’s Steve Jurcyk Gives Update on Artemis Moon Program

Video Caption: Experts from academia, industry, and government discuss how to shape the technologies needed to explore the Moon in new ways at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, MD. Opening remarks by Dr. Ralph Semmel. Keynote address by Steve Jurcyk, associate administrator of NASA.

Artemis I Launch Delayed to Mid- to Late 2021

SLS core stage installation (Credits: NASA/SSC)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA Associate Administrator Steve Jurcyk said on Friday that the first Artemis mission to the moon will not launch later this year but will hopefully fly in the mid- to late 2021 time frame.

It marks yet another delay in a program that is already running years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget. The slip potentially makes the Trump Administration’s goal of landing astronauts at the south pole of the moon in 2024 more difficult to achieve.

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