NASA Rings in Busy New Year in Florida to Prepare for Artemis Missions

The Orion crew module for Artemis I is lifted by crane on July 16, 2019, in the high bay inside the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The crew module was moved to the final assembly and test cell and work was completed to secure it atop the service module. (Credits: NASA/Ben Smegelsky)

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

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida will have a busy year preparing facilities, ground support equipment and space hardware for the launch of Artemis I, the first uncrewed launch of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the Orion spacecraft. In 2020, Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) activities will ramp up as launch hardware arrives and teams put systems in place for Artemis I and II missions.

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Video: Back to the Moon with ESA

Video Caption: The first flight of the Artemis programme, which will see humans return to the Moon, is scheduled to begin soon.

The lunar spacecraft consists of NASA’s Orion crew module and the European Service Module, or ESM. Developed by ESA and building on technology from its Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), the ESM will provide propulsion, life support, environmental control and electrical power to Orion.

The Artemis 1 spacecraft modules are undergoing thermal vacuum and electromagnetic interference tests in the world’s largest space simulation vacuum chamber at the Glenn Research Centre’s Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio, USA.

Learn more about Orion: http://bit.ly/ESAOrion

First NASA Artemis Rocket Core Stage Loaded on Pegasus Barge

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. Teams rolled out, or moved, the completed core stage for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket from NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans to the barge in preparation for the core stage Green Run test series. Pegasus, which was modified to ferry SLS rocket hardware, will transport the core stage more than 40 miles from Michoud to Stennis for the comprehensive core stage Green Run test series. Green Run, named for its testing of new, or green, hardware progressively, is the final test campaign ahead of the first Artemis launch. (Credits: NASA)

NEW ORLEANS (NASA PR) — The first Space Launch System (SLS) rocket core stage for NASA’s Artemis program completed manufacturing work at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans and was loaded onto the agency’s Pegasus barge on Jan. 8 for delivery to NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. With NASA Deputy Administrator Jim Morhard in attendance, NASA rolled out the core stage for the SLS rocket onto Pegasus in preparation for the Green Run test series, the final test campaign ahead of the agency’s first Artemis launch.

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NASA Prepares Artemis I SLS Rocket Stage for Move to Pegasus Barge

four RS-25 engines mated to Space Launch System core stage for Artemis 1 mission. (Credit: NASA/Eric Bordelon)

NEW ORLEANS (NASA PR) — Teams at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans moved the core stage, complete with all four RS-25 engines, for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket to Building 110 for final shipping preparations on Jan. 1.

The SLS core stage includes state-of-the-art avionics, propulsion systems and two colossal propellant tanks that collectively hold 733,000 gallons of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen to power its four RS-25 engines.

The completed stage, which will provide more than 2 million pounds of thrust to help power the first Artemis mission to the Moon, will be shipped via the agency’s Pegasus barge from Michoud to NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, later this month.

Once at Stennis, the Artemis rocket stage will be loaded into the B-2 Test Stand for the core stage Green Run test series. The comprehensive test campaign will progressively bring the entire core stage, including its avionics and engines, to life for the first time to verify the stage is fit for flight ahead of the launch of Artemis I.

NASA is working to land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024. SLS is part of NASA’s backbone for deep space exploration, along with Orion and the Gateway in orbit around the Moon. SLS will be the most powerful rocket in the world and will send astronauts in the Orion spacecraft farther into space than ever before. No other rocket is capable of carrying astronauts in Orion around the Moon.

NASA Looks Forward to Busy 2020

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In 2020, NASA will be taking long strides toward returning astronauts to the Moon, continuing the exploration of Mars and developing new technology to make supersonic aircraft fly more quietly.

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Artemis Program 2019 in Review

The Orion crew module for Artemis 1 is lifted by crane on July 16, 2019, in the high bay inside the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building high bay at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credit: NASA’s Kennedy Space Center)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Using a sustainable architecture and sophisticated hardware unlike any other, the first woman and the next man will set foot on the surface of the Moon by 2024. Artemis I, the first mission of our powerful Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft, is an important step in reaching that goal.

As we close out 2019 and look forward to 2020, here’s where we stand in the Artemis story — and what to expect in 2020. 

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DLR Phantoms Undergo Fit Check in NASA’s Orion Spacecraft

Orion capsule for Artemis I mission. (Credit: NASA)
  • MARE is an experiment to measure radiation exposure on the female body during NASA’s Artemis I mission.
  • The phantoms Helga and Zohar are DLR measurement bodies and will be flying to the Moon and back on the first, uncrewed flight of the Orion spacecraft.
  • They will acquire gender-specific measurement data on space radiation beyond the orbit of the ISS for the first time.
  • They are also testing the effectiveness of a newly developed radiation protection vest (AstroRad).
  • Focus: Space, human spaceflight, aerospace medicine, radiation biology

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — The intensity of space radiation is much greater outside Earth’s protective magnetic field. This causes problems for the human body and represents a challenge for future crewed space missions to the Moon and Mars.

The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) is conducting research to determine the radiation risk for crewed spaceflight. One of the projects that the researchers are carrying out together with NASA, the Israeli Space Agency ISA and the companies Lockheed Martin and StemRad is the Matroshka AstroRad Radiation Experiment (MARE).

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Video: How We Are Going to the Moon

Video Caption: While Apollo placed the first steps on the Moon, Artemis opens the door for humanity to sustainably work and live on another world for the first time. Using the lunar surface as a proving ground for living on Mars, this next chapter in exploration will forever establish our presence in the stars. ✨

We are returning to the Moon – to stay – and this is how we are going!

Actress Kelly Marie Tran of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” lent her voice to this project.

Report: NASA Needs to Improve Management of Major Projects

An artist’s concept of the 2012 Mars Curiosity Landing. Mars 2020 will use a nearly identical landing system, but with added precision from the Lander Vision System. (Credits: NASA Image /JPL-Caltech)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA’s culture of excessive optimism and its tendency to underestimate technical challenges combine with funding instability to cause cost overruns and schedule delays, according to a new report from the NASA Office of Inspector General (OIG).

The document identified NASA’s management of major projects as one of the space agency’s top seven performance challenges. [Full Report]

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Germany Invests 3.3 Billion Euros in European Space Exploration, Becomes ESA’s Largest Contributor

  • Three years after the last ESA Council Meeting at Ministerial Level, held in Lucerne, Switzerland, government representatives from the 22 Member States met in Seville, Spain, on 27 and 28 November 2019 and committed a total of almost 14.4 billion euro [$15.87 billion] for space programmes over the next few years.
  • Germany is contributing 3.3 billion euro [$3.6 billion] to ESA programmes focusing on Earth observation, telecommunications, technological advancement and commercialisation / NewSpace.
  • At 22.9 percent, Germany is now ESA’s largest contributor, followed by France (18.5 percent, 2.66 billion euro), Italy (15.9 percent, 2.28 billion euro) and the United Kingdom (11.5 percent, 1.65 billion euro).
  • The ESA Council Meeting at Ministerial Level is the highest political decision-making body, and it defines the content and financial framework for ESA’s space programmes every two to three years.
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Going with the Flow: EGS Team Tests Flow of Cryogenic Fluids

A liquid hydrogen storage tank is photographed at Launch Pad 39B on Nov. 8, 2019, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credits: NASA/Ben Smegelsky)

By Danielle Sempsrott
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

With NASA’s mobile launcher at Launch Pad 39B for final verification and testing, the agency’s Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) team has completed another critical set of tests, bringing the agency even closer to the first integrated launch of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft for the Artemis I mission. Over the course of two weekends, teams tested the flow of cryogenic fluids through the pad’s infrastructure – those systems that will send liquid hydrogen (LH2) and liquid oxygen (LOX) to the rocket at the time of launch.

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Orion Arrives at Plum Brook for Environmental Testing

The Super Guppy is opened at dawn to reveal Orion spacecraft inside. (Credits: NASA/Bridget Caswell)

SANDUSKY, Ohio (NASA PR) — The Artemis I Orion spacecraft arrived at NASA’s Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio, on Tuesday, Nov. 26 for in-space environmental testing in preparation for Artemis I.

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Orion Spacecraft Arrives in Ohio Aboard the Super Guppy

The Super Guppy is opened at dawn to reveal Orion spacecraft inside. (Credits: NASA/Bridget Caswell)


MANSFIELD, Ohio (NASA PR) — Almost 1,500 people turned out Sunday, November 24 to watch NASA’s Super Guppy aircraft arrive at Mansfield Lahm Airport with the Orion spacecraft for Artemis I aboard.  After viewing exhibits, the crowd gathered at the flight line to await the aircraft.

At about 4:35 p.m. EST, the Guppy, which had traveled from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, appeared in the eastern sky on approach.

Super Guppy with Orion spacecraft aboard comes in for a landing. (Credits: NASA/Marvin Smith)

Once the Guppy touched down, there was a loud cheer from the crowd as it taxied to a stop for the night just as the sun began to set. 

The nose of the Guppy was opened at sunrise on Monday, November 25  revealing the packaged Orion spacecraft inside. It has been removed from the aircraft and is loaded onto a large flatbed trailer so it can be transported to NASA’s Plum Brook Station for testing.

Crowds gather to greet Super Guppy with Orion spacecraft aboard. (Credits: NASA/Marvin Smith)

Completed in two phases inside the world’s largest vacuum chamber, testing will begin with a thermal test, which will last approximately 60 days, while Orion’s systems are powered-on under vacuum conditions that simulate the space environment.

During this phase, the spacecraft will be subjected to extreme temperatures, ranging from -250 to 300-degrees Fahrenheit, to replicate flying in-and-out of sunlight and shadow in space. The second phase is an electromagnetic interference and compatibility test, lasting about 14 days. This testing will ensure the spacecraft’s electronics work properly when operated at the same time.

Super Guppy with Orion spacecraft inside parked on the tarmac in Ohio. (Credits: NASA/Bridget Caswell)

After successful completion, the spacecraft will return to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, where it will begin integration with the powerful Space Launch System rocket for the Artemis I launch.

View more images of Orion’s arrival in Ohio.

NASA Struggles with Shortage of Skilled Workers

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA is already hampered by a shortfall of skilled workers, a problem that will be exacerbated as the space agency gears up to return astronauts to the moon by 2024 in the Artemis program.

That is the conclusion of a new report from NASA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG). The review identified attracting and retaining a highly-skilled workforce as one of the space agency’s seven biggest management and performance challenges. [Full Report]

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