NASA Begins Installing Orion Adapter for First Artemis Moon Flight

Orion fitted to its adapter for the Artemis I mission. (Credit: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Technicians at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida are working to install an adapter that will connect the Orion spacecraft to its rocket for the Artemis I mission around the Moon. This is one of the final major hardware operations for Orion inside the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building prior to integration with the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.

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Aerojet Rocketdyne Completes its Propulsion for NASA’s Artemis II Mission

Four RS-25 engines, like the one pictured undergoing a hot-fire test, will power the core stage of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) — NASA’s new heavy-lift launch vehicle. (Credit: NASA)

EL SEGUNDO, Calif., July 20, 2020 (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) — Aerojet Rocketdyne recently completed all of its propulsion hardware for the first crewed flight of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft.

The engines and motors, which Aerojet Rocketdyne produces at its major space operations sites across the country, will support NASA’s Artemis II mission. The Artemis II mission is the second flight of SLS and Orion and the first to send an astronaut crew to fly around the Moon.

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Audit Says NASA Hid $17 Billion in Orion-related Costs

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

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A new audit of the Orion lunar crew vehicle has found that NASA has excluded $17 billion in program‐related costs from its budget estimate, and the space agency has paid “overly generous” performance awards to prime contractor Lockheed Martin despite the program being over budget and behind schedule.

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Orion Cockpit Designed with Crew in Mind for Artemis Missions to Deep Space

In a mockup of Orion’s crew capsule, astronauts and ground crew test procedures to get them out of the capsule in under two minutes in case of an emergency before launch. (Credits: NASA/Radislav Sinyak)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s Orion spacecraft will carry astronauts from Earth on their journeys to the Moon. To ensure crew get there safely during Artemis missions, Orion’s design team is considering every detail about living and working inside the spacecraft.

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Heat Shield Milestone Complete for First Orion Mission with Crew

Orion heat shield for the Artemis II mission. (Credit: NASA/Isaac Watson)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Technicians at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida recently finished meticulously applying more than 180 blocks of ablative material to the heat shield for the Orion  spacecraft set to carry astronauts around the Moon on Artemis II.

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Orion’s ‘Twin’ Completes Structural Testing for Artemis I Mission

The Orion STA, in its “full stack” launch configuration — the crew module, service module and launch abort system, as well as the spacecraft adapter and jettisonable fairings — was lifted into a reverberant acoustic chamber at Lockheed Martin for acoustic testing. (Credit: Lockheed Martin)

DENVER (NASA PR) — Before NASA astronauts fly the Orion spacecraft on Artemis missions to the Moon and back, engineers needed to thoroughly test its ability to withstand the stresses of launch, climb to orbit, the harsh conditions of deep space transit, and return to Earth. NASA designed Orion from the beginning specifically to support astronauts on missions farther from Earth than any other spacecraft built for humans.

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NASA Sinks More Money into SLS

The manufacture and checkout of all 10 motor segments for the first Artemis flight were completed in January at Northrop Grumman’s factory in Promontory, Utah. (Credits: Northrop Grumman)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — NASA has taken the next steps toward building Space Launch System (SLS) solid rocket boosters to support as many as six additional flights, for a total of up to nine Artemis missions. The agency is continuing to work with Northrop Grumman of Brigham City, Utah, the current lead contractor for the solid rocket boosters that will launch the first three Artemis missions, including the mission that will land the first woman and next man on the Moon in 2024.

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NASA Prepares to Complete Artemis SLS Rocket Structural Testing

The Space Launch System’s liquid oxygen tank is one of two propellant tanks in the rocket’s massive core stage that will produce more than 2 million pounds of thrust to help launch Artemis I, the first flight of SLS and NASA’s Orion spacecraft to the Moon. Now, the tank will undergo the final test completing a three-year structural test campaign at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. (Credits: NASA/Tyler Martin)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) Program is concluding its structural qualification test series with one upcoming final test that will push the design for the rocket’s liquid oxygen tank to its limits at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

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U.S. Companies Advance Critical Human Lander Technologies

Compilation of artist’s renderings representing NextSTEP Appendix E work. Top row, left to right: Dynetics, Lockheed Martin, Blue Origin. Bottom row, left to right: Aerojet Rocketdyne, Northrop Grumman, Masten Space System, Boeing. (Credit: NASA)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — NASA and 11 commercial partners recently completed a series of technical studies, demonstrations and ground prototypes for 21st Century human landing systems. The Next Space Technology Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) Appendix E work helped the agency refine its Artemis program requirements for the companies competing to build the landers that will take American astronauts to the Moon throughout this decade.

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GAO: NASA Performance on Major Projects Continues to Deteriorate

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its latest assessment of NASA’s major projects at the end of April. It found that NASA’s performance on its major projects continued to deteriorate on cost and schedule. (Full Report)

Below are key excerpts from the report that provide an overview of where NASA stands on its major projects. Although GAO did not analyze the Artemis program to return astronauts to the moon, the watchdog warned the Trump Administration’s decision to move the landing date up from 2028 to 2024 will put more pressure on the space agency.

“Looking ahead, NASA will continue to face significant cost and schedule risks as it undertakes complex efforts to return to the moon under an aggressive time frame,” the report stated.

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NASA Prepares To Send Artemis I Booster Segments to Kennedy for Stacking

Artemis I solid rocket booster. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

PROMONTORY POINT, Utah (NASA PR) — As it soars off the launch pad for the Artemis I missions, NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket is powered by two solid rocket boosters. Critical parts of the booster will soon head to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida in preparation for the Artemis I launch.

Specialized transporters move each of the 10 solid rocket motor segments from the Northrop Grumman facility in their Promontory Point, Utah, to a departure point where they will leave for NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The cross-country journey is an important milestone toward the first launch of NASA’s Artemis lunar program.

Exploration Ground Systems teams at Kennedy will begin processing the segments with the forward and aft parts of the booster previously assembled in the Booster Fabrication Facility on site at Kennedy.

When the boosters arrive, they are moved into the Rotation, Processing and Surge Facility (RPSF) that in the past to processed shuttle booster segments. Initial stacking of the aft assembly will occur here, and then booster segments will be kept at the RPSF until stacking on the mobile launcher inside Kennedy’s Vehicle Assembly Building.

NASA is working to land the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024. SLS, along with NASA’s Orion spacecraft, the Human Landing System and the Gateway in orbit around the Moon, are NASA’s backbone for deep space exploration. SLS is the only rocket that can send Orion, astronauts and cargo to the Moon on a single mission.

NASA Awards Northrop Grumman Artemis Contract for Gateway Crew Cabin

Artist’s concept of the Gateway power and propulsion and Habitation and Logistics Outpost, or HALO, in orbit around the Moon. (Credits: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has finalized the contract for the initial crew module of the agency’s Gateway lunar orbiting outpost.

Orbital Sciences Corporation of Dulles, Virginia, a wholly owned subsidiary of Northrop Grumman Space, has been awarded $187 million to design the habitation and logistics outpost (HALO) for the Gateway, which is part of NASA’s Artemis program and will help the agency build a sustainable presence at the Moon. This award funds HALO’s design through its preliminary design review, expected by the end of 2020.

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Third European Service Module for Mission to Land Astronauts on the Moon

European Service Module 2 assembly (Credit: Airbus)

PARIS (ESA PR) — It’s official: when astronauts land on the Moon in 2024 they will get there with help from the European Service Module. The European Space Agency signed a contract with Airbus to build the third European Service Module for NASA’s Orion spacecraft that will ferry the next astronauts to land on the Moon.

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Searching with Sasquatch: Recovering Orion

During Underway Recovery Test-8 in March, NASA’s Landing and Recovery team from Exploration Ground Systems at Kennedy Space Center performs its first full mission profile test of the recovery procedures for Artemis I aboard the USS John P. Murtha in the Pacific Ocean. (Credits: NASA/Kenny Allen)

By Jim Cawley
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

For Artemis missions, NASA’s Orion spacecraft will be traveling at 25,000 mph as it reenters the Earth’s atmosphere, which will slow it down to 325 mph. Parachutes will then bring it down to about 20 mph.

During the parachute deploy sequence, hardware will be jettisoned and fall into the Pacific Ocean below while the recovery ship awaits near the landing site. Keeping the ship and recovery team safe is critical to mission success.

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Orion Makes Significant Progress, Awaits Ride to the Moon

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

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA’s Orion crew vehicle has made good progress over the past year, with the completion of a launch abort test and thermal vacuum testing on the spacecraft scheduled to an automated flight test around the moon next year, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

Although Orion has suffered delays and budget overruns during development, the Space Launch System (SLS) that will send it to the moon is even more behind schedule due to development problems, the report found.

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