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  • richardmitnick 8:21 am on June 23, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , NASA Orion   

    From ESA: “Sensing Orion” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    European Space Agency

    21/06/2016
    J. Harrod

    1

    A test version of the European Service Module at NASA’s Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio, USA. ESA’s module will power NASA’s Orion spacecraft to the Moon and beyond, providing propulsion, electricity, water, oxygen and nitrogen and thermal control.

    This test article has the same structure and weight as the real thing but does not include the electronics and engines. It is being used to confirm the design before starting to build the flight version.

    From a design perspective, the launch is one of the most demanding moments in a mission. Orion will sit atop the Space Launch System and more than 2500 tonnes of propellant. The vibrations and forces are intense until they reach the relative calm of space.

    To ensure the service module can withstand these forces, it is placed on a large table that shakes and moves to recreate the vibrations of launch. Almost 1000 sensors monitor how the 35 tonne spacecraft flexes and withstands the stress. The blue wires carry the data during the tests for later analysis.

    The tests are running smoothly and the first flight model is already being built in Bremen, Germany. It will be shipped to the USA next year for more testing and final integration ahead of launch at the end of 2018.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 9:06 pm on February 2, 2016 Permalink | Reply
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    From JPL: “Six CubeSats with JPL Contributions Chosen for SLS Flight” 

    JPL-Caltech

    February 2, 2016
    Elizabeth Landau
    NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-354-6425
    Elizabeth.Landau@jpl.nasa.gov

    Kathryn Hambleton
    NASA Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-1100
    kathryn.hambleton@nasa.gov

    Kim Newton / Shannon Ridinger
    Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.
    256-544-0371 / 256-544-3774
    kimberly.d.newton@nasa.gov / shannon.j.ridinger@nasa.gov

    NASA JPL Lunar Flashlight
    The Lunar Flashlight, flying as secondary payload on the first flight of NASA’s Space Launch System, will examine the moon’s surface for ice deposits and identify locations where resources may be extracted.Credit: NASA

    The first flight of NASA’s new rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), will carry 13 low-cost CubeSats to test innovative ideas along with an uncrewed Orion spacecraft in 2018. Six of these CubeSat missions have contributions from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

    NASA Space Launch System
    NASA SLS

    NASA Orion Spacecraft
    NASA Orion spacecraft

    These small satellite secondary payloads will carry science and technology investigations to help pave the way for future human exploration in deep space, including the Journey to Mars.

    NASA Journey to Mars

    SLS’ first flight, referred to as Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), provides the rare opportunity for these small experiments to reach deep space destinations, as most launch opportunities for CubeSats are limited to low-Earth orbit.

    “The 13 CubeSats that will fly to deep space as secondary payloads aboard SLS on EM-1showcase the intersection of science and technology, and advance our journey to Mars,” said NASA Deputy Administrator Dava Newman.

    The secondary payloads were selected through a series of announcements of flight opportunities, a NASA challenge and negotiations with NASA’s international partners.

    “The SLS is providing an incredible opportunity to conduct science missions and test key technologies beyond low-Earth orbit,” said Bill Hill, deputy associate administrator for Exploration Systems Development at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “This rocket has the unprecedented power to send Orion to deep space plus room to carry a fleet of 13 small satellites — payloads that will advance our knowledge about deep space with minimal cost.”

    NASA selected two payloads through the Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) Broad Agency Announcement:

    Skyfire –Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Denver,will develop a CubeSat to perform a flyby of the moon, taking infrared sensor data during the flyby to enhance our knowledge of the lunar surface.
    Lunar IceCube–Morehead State University, Kentucky,will build a CubeSat to search for water ice and other resources at a low orbit of only 62 miles above the surface of the moon. JPL is providing telecommunications support and Deep Space Network support. The measurement principal investigator is also based at JPL.

    Three payloads were selected by NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate:

    Near-Earth Asteroid Scout, or NEA Scout will perform reconnaissance of an asteroid, take pictures and observe its position in space. JPL is responsible for building and delivering the spacecraft, and the principal investigator is based at JPL.
    BioSentinel will use yeast to detect, measure and compare the impact of deepspace radiation on living organisms over long durations in deep space. JPL is providing telecommunications support and Deep Space Network support.
    Lunar Flashlight will look for ice deposits and identify locations where resources may be extracted from the lunar surface. JPL is managing the mission, and the project manager is based at JPL.

    Two payloads were selected by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate:

    CuSP — a “space weather station” to measure particles and magnetic fields in space, testing practicality for a network of stations to monitor space weather. JPL is providing telecommunications support and Deep Space Network support.
    LunaH-Map will map hydrogen within craters and other permanently shadowed regions throughout the moon’s south pole. JPL is providing telecommunications support and Deep Space Network support.

    Three additional payloads will be determined through NASA’s Cube Quest Challenge — sponsored by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate and designed to foster innovations in small spacecraft propulsion and communications techniques. CubeSat builders will vie for a launch opportunity on SLS’ first flight through a competition that has four rounds, referred to as ground tournaments, leading to the selection in 2017 of the payloads to fly on the mission.

    NASA has also reserved three slots for payloads from international partners. Advanced discussions to fly those three additional payloads are ongoing, and they will be announced at a later time.

    On this first flight, SLS will launch the Orion spacecraft to a stable orbit beyond the moon to demonstrate the integrated system performance of Orion and the SLS rocket prior to the first crewed flight. The first configuration of SLS that will fly on EM-1 is referred to as Block I and will have a minimum 70-metric-ton (77-ton) lift capability and be powered by twin boosters and four RS-25 engines. The CubeSats will be deployed following Orion separation from the upper stage and once Orion is a safe distance away. Each payload will be ejected with a spring mechanism from dispensers on the Orion stage adapter. Following deployment, the transmitters on the CubeSats will turn on, and ground stations will listen for their beacons to determine the functionality of these small satellites.

    For more information about NASA’s Journey to Mars, visit:

    http://www.nasa.gov/journeytomars

    For more information about CubeSats at JPL, visit:

    http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/cubesat/missions/

    See the full article here .

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    NASA JPL Campus

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge [1], on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

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  • richardmitnick 4:25 pm on January 29, 2016 Permalink | Reply
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    From ESA: “Inside a rocket’s belly” 

    ESASpaceForEuropeBanner
    European Space Agency

    26/01/2016
    No writer credit found

    ESA Rockets belly
    Credits: ESA/NASA

    An unusual view of a spacecraft – looking from below, directly into the thruster nozzles. This is a test version of ESA’s service module for NASA’s Orion spacecraft that will send astronauts further into space than ever before.

    The European Service Module provides electricity, water, oxygen and nitrogen, and thermal control as well as propelling the spacecraft.

    The large cone is the spacecraft’s main engine, the same model that was used on the Space Shuttle for orbital manoeuvres. The surrounding red cones are auxiliary thrusters. The engines will provide almost 30 kN of thrust, only one-tenth that of a Jumbo Jet engine, but enough to manoeuvre in space. More thrusters are carried on the module’s sides.

    This structural test model is used for testing purposes before installing the real thing. It is as close to the flight version as possible while keeping costs and development time manageable. The structure and weight are the same, while mass equivalents stand in for electronics boxes not needed for the series of tests.

    The model was installed under a test version of the Crew Module Adapter, and sits on the Spacecraft Adapter that will attach Orion to its launch vehicle. This is the first time the European hardware has been physically connected to NASA’s elements.

    The service module will be shaken at NASA’s Plum Brook station in Sandusky, Ohio, USA, to recreate the vibrations of launch, as well as being subjected to acoustic and shock environments.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 4:55 pm on December 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From ESA: “European Service Module” 

    ESASpaceForEuropeBanner
    European Space Agency

    11.30.15

    1
    Orion European Service Module

    The European Service Module is ESA’s contribution to NASA’s Orion spacecraft that will send astronauts to the Moon and beyond. It provides electricity, water, oxygen and nitrogen as well as keeping the spacecraft at the right temperature and on course.

    2
    ESA’s Orion structural test article assembled at Airbus Defence and Space. Airbus is building the module, which will supply NASA’s Orion spacecraft’s power, in-space propulsion and air and water for the crew.
    The design of the European Service Module is based on the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), the European supply craft for the International Space Station. It is a cylindrical module with a diameter of 4.5 metres and a total length – main engine excluded – of 2.7 metres. It is fitted with four solar array ‘wings’ with a span of 18.8 metres.

    The cylindrical module is unpressurised and 4 m long, including the main engine and tanks for gas and propellant. During launch it is held in place by the Spacecraft Adapter and is connected to the capsule where the astronauts are by the Crew Module Adapter.

    The main body of the service module is around 2 m high but its main engine, the Orbital Maneuvering System Engine, extends into the Spacecraft Adapter. Likewise, some of the equipment in ESA’s service module protrudes into the Crew Module Adapter.

    3
    ATV Albert Einstein, Europe’s supply and support ferry, docked with the International Space Station on 15 June 2013, some ten days after its launch from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. In this image, ATV’s four solar panel arrays can be seen along with the vertical antenna on top. This antenna is the ‘proximity boom’ that is used to communicate with the Station.
    ATV Albert Einstein brought 7 tonnes of supplies, propellant and experiments to the complex. ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano oversaw the unloading and cataloguing of the cargo, comprising over 1400 individual items.

    During launch the service module fits into a 5.2 m-diameter housing. Once Orion is above the atmosphere and the rocket fairing is jettisoned, the service module’s solar array unfolds to span 19 m.

    The spacecraft resembles ESA’s Automated Transfer Vehicle, from which it evolved. Five Automated Transfer Vehicles delivered supplies to the International Space Station and helped to keep the outpost in orbit.

    Three types of engine push Orion to its destination and can turn it in all directions to align the spacecraft as needed.

    4
    A test version of ESA’s service module for NASA’s Orion spacecraft at Thales Alenia Space in Turin, Italy, before shipping to USA.
    The module sits directly below Orion’s crew capsule and provides propulsion, power, thermal control, and water and air for four astronauts. The solar array spans 19 m and provides enough to power two households.
    A little over 5 m in diameter and 4 m high, it weighs 13.5 tonnes. The 8.6 tonnes of propellant will power one main engine and 32 smaller thrusters.
    Following initial tests in Europe, it will now undergo rigorous vibration tests in NASA’s Plum Brook Station in Ohio to ensure the structure and components can withstand the extreme stresses during launch.
    The European Service Module is adapted from Europe’s largest spacecraft, the Automated Transfer Vehicle, which completed its last mission to the International Space Station in February 2015. Just nine months later, prime contractor Airbus Defence & Space in Bremen, Germany, has delivered the first test module.

    Inside the Service Module, large tanks hold fuel as well consumables for the astronauts: oxygen, nitrogen and water.

    Radiators and heat exchangers keep the astronauts and equipment at a comfortable temperature, while the module’s structure is the backbone of the entire vehicle, like a car chassis.

    The European Service Module is built by main contractor Airbus Defence and Space, with many companies all over Europe supplying components. The final product is assembled in Europe before being shipped to NASA in the USA.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Stem Education Coalition

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 12:27 pm on November 10, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From ESA: “Orion’s European Module Ready for Testing” 

    ESASpaceForEuropeBanner
    European Space Agency

    10 November 2015

    1
    ESA’s service module

    A test version of ESA’s service module for NASA’s Orion spacecraft arrived in the US yesterday after leaving its assembly site in Italy last weekend.

    The European Service Module is adapted from Europe’s largest spacecraft, the Automated Transfer Vehicle, which completed its last mission to the International Space Station in February. Just nine months later, prime contractor Airbus Defence & Space in Bremen, Germany, has delivered the first test module.

    The module sits directly below Orion’s crew capsule and provides propulsion, power, thermal control, and water and air for four astronauts. The solar array spans 19 m and provides enough to power two households.

    2
    European Service Module

    A little over 5 m in diameter and 4 m high, it weighs 13.5 tonnes. The 8.6 tonnes of propellant will power one main engine and 32 smaller thrusters.

    The structural test article delivered today was built by Thales Alenia Space in Turin, Italy. Following initial tests in Europe, it will now undergo rigorous vibration tests in NASA’s Plum Brook Station in Ohio to ensure the structure and components can withstand the extreme stresses during launch.

    “This is the first major element of the European Service Module to be delivered to the US,” notes Philippe Deloo, ESA’s programme manager, “demonstrating the commitment of ESA to this human exploration endeavour.”

    3
    Orion with service module

    More than 20 companies around Europe are working on the project, most building on their expertise earned from the five Automated Transfer Vehicles that delivered cargo to the Space Station and reboosted its orbit from 2009 to 2015.

    The first, uncrewed, launch of the full Orion vehicle is planned for 2018 with the first European Service Module. It will fly beyond the Moon and back, returning to Earth at higher speeds than any other previous spacecraft.

    During the mission, the module will detach shortly before entry into Earth’s atmosphere.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 11:35 am on October 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From NASA: “Five Orion Technologies That Will Help Us Get Home From Mars” 

    NASA

    NASA

    Oct. 1, 2015
    No Writer Credit

    Orion is a key piece of NASA’s journey to Mars.

    NASA Orion Spacecraft

    The spacecraft, which was first tested in space last year, will enable crew to travel to deep space on the journey to the Red Planet and bring astronauts home safely. It’s a critical technology we’ll use to help NASA test, demonstrate and hone the skills and capabilities we need to operate farther and farther away from Earth.

    Environmental Control and Life Support Systems

    2
    Orion Tech: Environmental Control and Life Support System

    Water. Air. A temperate environment. A bathroom. These are some of the things astronauts need to survive the long journey back to Earth from Mars. NASA has developed an environmental control and life support system on the International Space Station and is designing such a system for Orion. The system can recycle carbon dioxide and make it back into useable air and process urine to make it into potable water, for example. Right now on the space station, engineers and astronauts are testing a filtering system for efficiency and reliability on long-duration missions. The investigation uses an amine-based chemical compound combined with the vacuum of space to filter and renew cabin air for breathing. When astronauts travel home from Mars, they won’t be able to count on the arrival of spare parts or extra supplies if something breaks or gets depleted, so engineers are hard at work developing reliable and robust technologies to keep crews alive and healthy in space.

    Radiation protection

    3

    Astronauts traveling to and from Mars will be far away from the protective shield of Earth’s atmosphere and magnetic field, and their spacecraft and its systems will need to be able to protect against the full spectrum of space radiation. NASA is working now to develop protective methods.

    Orion will use items already on board to protect the crew and create a temporary shelter in the aft bay of the spacecraft, which is the inside portion closest to the heat shield. This location minimizes the amount of equipment to move around while maximizing the amount of material that can be placed between the crew and the outside environment. The items that will be used include supplies, equipment and launch and re-entry seats as well as water and food. By using the items already on board, the astronauts benefit from additional shielding without adding to Orion’s mass.

    Power and Propulsion

    4

    A spacecraft needs power and propulsion in space to refine its trajectory during the trip back to Earth. Orion will include a service module capable of helping the spacecraft make any necessary mid-course corrections. A service module provides power, heat rejection, in-space propulsion and water and air for crews, and NASA is working with ESA (European Space Agency) to provide Orion’s service module for its next mission in a partnership that will also bring international cooperation on the journey to Mars. The service module will provide propulsion, batteries and solar arrays to generate power and contain all the air, nitrogen and water for crews.

    The ESA-provided element brings together new technology and lightweight materials while also taking advantage of spaceflight-proven hardware. For example, ESA is modeling several key components — like the solar arrays — from technology developed for its Automated Transfer Vehicle-series of cargo vessels, which delivered thousands of pounds of supplies to the space station during five missions between 2008 and 2015. NASA is providing ESA one of the Orbital Maneuvering System pods that allowed space shuttles to move in space to be upgraded and integrated into the service module.

    Heat shield

    5
    Orion Tech: Heat Shield

    When an uncrewed Orion was tested in space in 2014, the heat shield withstood temperatures of about 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit, or about twice as hot as molten lava. That heat was generated when the spacecraft, traveling at about 20,000 mph back toward our planet, made its way through Earth’s atmosphere, which acts as a braking mechanism to cause friction and slow down a returning spacecraft. Its speed was about 80 percent of what Orion will experience when it comes back from missions near the moon and will need to be even more robust for missions where return speeds, and therefore reentry temperatures, are higher.

    Orion’s heat shield is built around a titanium skeleton and carbon fiber skin that provide structural support. A honeycomb structure fits over the skin with thousands of cells that are filled with a material called Avcoat. That layer is 1.6 inches at its thickest and erodes as Orion travels through Earth’s atmosphere.

    Parachutes

    6
    Orion Tech: Parachutes

    A spacecraft bringing crews back to Earth after a long trip to Mars will need a parachute system to help it slow down from its high-speed reentry through the atmosphere to a relatively slow speed for splashdown in the ocean. While Earth’s atmosphere will initially slow Orion down from thousands of miles per hour to about 325 mph, its 11 parachutes will deploy in precise sequence to further slow the capsule’s descent. There are three forward bay cover parachutes that pull a protective cover off the top of the capsule, two drogue parachutes that deploy to stabilize the spacecraft, and three pilot parachutes that are used to pull out Orion’s three orange and white main parachutes that are charged with slowing the spacecraft to its final landing speed. The main parachutes are so big that the three of them together nearly cover an entire football field.

    Engineers are currently building the Orion spacecraft that will launch on the world’s most powerful rocket, the Space Launch System, and will enable astronauts to travel farther into space than ever before on the journey to Mars.

    Visit NASA on the Web for more information about Orion and NASA’s journey to Mars.

    Last Updated: Oct. 2, 2015
    Editor: Mark Garcia

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Stem Education Coalition

    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation’s civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research.

    President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958 with a distinctly civilian (rather than military) orientation encouraging peaceful applications in space science. The National Aeronautics and Space Act was passed on July 29, 1958, disestablishing NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency became operational on October 1, 1958.

    Since that time, most U.S. space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo moon-landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and Commercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program (LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches. Most recently, NASA announced a new Space Launch System that it said would take the agency’s astronauts farther into space than ever before and lay the cornerstone for future human space exploration efforts by the U.S.

    NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System, advancing heliophysics through the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate’s Heliophysics Research Program, exploring bodies throughout the Solar System with advanced robotic missions such as New Horizons, and researching astrophysics topics, such as the Big Bang, through the Great Observatories [Hubble, Chandra, Spitzer, and associated programs. NASA shares data with various national and international organizations such as from the [JAXA]Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite.

     
  • richardmitnick 3:38 pm on September 9, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , NASA Orion   

    From NASA: “First Pieces of NASA’s Orion for Next Mission Come Together at Michoud” 

    NASA

    NASA

    Sep. 8, 2015

    Kathryn Hambleton
    Headquarters, Washington
    202-358-1100
    kathryn.hambleton@nasa.gov

    Rachel Kraft
    Johnson Space Center, Houston
    281-483-5111
    rachel.h.kraft@nasa.gov

    1
    At NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, engineers welded together on Sept. 5, two sections of the Orion spacecraft’s primary structure that will fly on Exploration Mission-1, the first flight of Orion atop the agency’s Space Launch System rocket.
    Credits: NASA

    NASA is another small step closer to sending astronauts on a journey to Mars. On Saturday, engineers at the agency’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans welded together the first two segments of the Orion crew module that will fly atop NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket on a mission beyond the far side of the moon.

    “Every day, teams around the country are moving at full speed to get ready for Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), when we’ll flight test Orion and SLS together in the proving ground of space, far away from the safety of Earth,” said Bill Hill, deputy associate administrator for Exploration Systems Development at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “We’re progressing toward eventually sending astronauts deep into space.”

    2
    This diagram shows the seven pieces of Orion’s primary structure and the order in which they are welded together. Credits: NASA

    The primary structure of Orion’s crew module is made of seven large aluminum pieces that must be welded together in detailed fashion. The first weld connects the tunnel to the forward bulkhead, which is at the top of the spacecraft and houses many of Orion’s critical systems, such as the parachutes that deploy during reentry. Orion’s tunnel, with a docking hatch, will allow crews to move between the crew module and other spacecraft.

    “Each of Orion’s systems and subsystems is assembled or integrated onto the primary structure, so starting to weld the underlying elements together is a critical first manufacturing step,” said Mark Geyer, Orion Program manager. “The team has done tremendous work to get to this point and to ensure we have a sound building block for the rest of Orion’s systems.”

    Engineers have undertaken a meticulous process to prepare for welding. They have cleaned the segments, coated them with a protective chemical and primed them. They then outfitted each element with strain gauges and wiring to monitor the metal during the fabrication process. Prior to beginning work on the pieces destined for space, technicians practiced their process, refined their techniques and ensured proper tooling configurations by welding together a pathfinder, a full-scale version of the current spacecraft design.

    NASA’s prime contractor for the spacecraft, Lockheed Martin, is doing the production of the crew module at Michoud.

    Through collaborations across design and manufacturing, teams have been able to reduce the number of welds for the crew module by more than half since the first test version of Orion’s primary structure was constructed and flown on the Exploration Flight Test-1 last December. The Exploration Mission-1 structure will include just seven main welds, plus several smaller welds for start and stop holes left by welding tools. Fewer welds will result in a lighter spacecraft.

    During the coming months as other pieces of Orion’s primary structure arrive at Michoud from machine houses across the country, engineers will inspect and evaluate them to ensure they meet precise design requirements before welding. Once complete, the structure will be shipped to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida where it will be assembled with the other elements of the spacecraft, integrated with SLS and processed before launch.

    For more information about Orion, visit:

    http://www.nasa.gov/orion

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation’s civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research.

    President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958 with a distinctly civilian (rather than military) orientation encouraging peaceful applications in space science. The National Aeronautics and Space Act was passed on July 29, 1958, disestablishing NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency became operational on October 1, 1958.

    Since that time, most U.S. space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo moon-landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and Commercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program (LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches. Most recently, NASA announced a new Space Launch System that it said would take the agency’s astronauts farther into space than ever before and lay the cornerstone for future human space exploration efforts by the U.S.

    NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System, advancing heliophysics through the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate’s Heliophysics Research Program, exploring bodies throughout the Solar System with advanced robotic missions such as New Horizons, and researching astrophysics topics, such as the Big Bang, through the Great Observatories [Hubble, Chandra, Spitzer, and associated programs. NASA shares data with various national and international organizations such as from the [JAXA]Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite.

     
  • richardmitnick 4:44 am on February 20, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , NASA Orion   

    From CERN ALICE: “ALICE contributes to NASA’s Orion mission” 

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    16 February 2015
    Panos Charitos

    On Friday, 5 December, NASA’s new Orion spaceship, a capsule built to take humans farther into space than ever before, made its first test flight.

    NASA Orion Spacecraft
    Orion

    The flight marked the first time, since Apollo 17 was launched to the moon in 1972, that a spacecraft built for humans traveled out of low-Earth orbit. Behind the Orion mission there is a flavour of High Energy physics, following in the tradition of synergies between the two fields. More specifically, following the previous success of the Timepix project on the Inernational Space Station (ISS), CERN scientists worked closely with their colleagues at NASA to integrate Timepix into the Orion spaceship.

    CERN TimePix
    TimePix

    Pivotal for this effort was Lawrence Pinsky, who started his career in heavy-ion physics at the NA48 and later NA49 fixed target experiments, before joining the ALICE collaboration. Later, he became involved with NASA’s APOLLO programme, where he was mainly responsible for heavy particle dosimetry. He worked as a postdoc at NASA’s space programme from 1977 to 1990. At that time, he became interested in the simulation of cosmic rays events with the use of GEANT3. His colleagues were also trying to do the same simulations of heavy particles coming from cosmic rays with FLUKA and he joined them. They developed the first Monte Carlo code to simulate transport phenomena of heavy cosmic rays.

    In 2006, when NASA invited him to give a series of lectures, he met Michael Campbell. Strangely, even though they worked in neighbouring buildings, they never had the chance to interact before and realize the possibility of using some of the technologies developed at CERN in space programmes. Michael showed MEDIPIX2 to Pinsky, who immediately realized its potential and demonstrated the chip to his colleagues in Houston.

    CERN MediPix
    MediPix

    During a workshop held by NASA, they advertised it to experts in space radiation and monitoring from all over the world. Various other projects were presented during the workshop, but it was MEDIPIX2 that had the most advantages and outclassed the rest. For the non-experts, the Medipix2 ASIC is a high spatial, high contrast resolving CMOS pixel read-out chip working in single photon counting mode. It can be combined with different semiconductor sensors which convert the X-rays directly into detectable electric signals. This represents a new solution for various X-ray and gamma-ray imaging applications.

    NASA and Huston joined MEDIPIX2 in 2007 and worked actively in the development of the new chip. In 2010, during the Workshop on Radiation Monitoring for the International Space Station – an annual meeting to discuss the scientific definition of an adequate radiation monitoring package and its use by the scientific community on the International Space Station (ISS) – a sequence of lectures on MEDIPIX took place. As the funding necessary for the project to continue was approved, more institutes joined the MEDIPIX2 collaboration that later developed the Timepix chip. The chip was finally installed on ISS in October, and started collecting data and sending them to physicists for analysis.

    1
    Image of the Timepix USB system in operation on the International Space Station (Image Courtesy of NASA).

    The ISS Timepix detectors gather data to characterize the radiation field as a function of time, taking precise measurements of the spectrum of charge and velocity of particles present inside the spacecraft. These Timepix units are compact USB powered devices, based on Medipix technology and controlled via Flight Software that is deployed on existing ISS Computers. Configuration settings can be modified and uploaded from the ground to adjust data-taking parameters on orbit, and minimal crew time is required for deployment and operation. The flight software displays total dose and dose rate based on LET information compiled from individual particle tracks. In addition, full measurement data is saved and downlinked for further analysis.

    2
    Larry Pinsky and undergraduate physics major Christina Stegemoeller, who worked with the group, display the Timepix detector.

    Timepix technology could improve or replace older devices by helping scientists analyse the particles and energy spectrum and then calculate the risks of exposure to heavy-ion radiation. This first trip was an opportunity to gain experience on the use of detectors in space, contributing to the development of the next generation of Timepix.

    During the test flight, mission controllers extensively checked Orion’s systems. The capsule orbited Earth twice, with its second orbit taking it about 5,793 kilometres away from the planet’s surface — 14 times farther than the orbit of the International Space Station.

    NASA scientists were particularly interested in seeing how the spacecraft behaves during important events, such as separations, once in space. Moreover, they also used the approximately 1,200 sensors aboard Orion to monitor the way the capsule’s computers and other technology behave in the harsh space environment. Orion flew through belts of radiation twice (on the way out, and again on the way back to Earth), allowing scientists to see how the spacecraft’s computers behave in a high-radiation environment.

    NASA has plans for another uncrewed mission in 2017 or 2018, which will be the first flight of Orion with the Space Launch System, a mega rocket, still in development. And in 2021, astronauts will travel with Orion and SLS for the first time to test some of the technologies needed for a trip to Mars. This test flight was just the beginning for Orion.

    See the full article here.

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    Meet CERN in a variety of places:

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    THE FOUR MAJOR PROJECT COLLABORATIONS

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  • richardmitnick 10:10 am on December 11, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , NASA Orion   

    From Harvard Physics via Harvard Gazette: “Eyes on Orion” 

    Harvard Physics

    Harvard Physics

    Harvard Gazette

    December 9, 2014
    Alvin Powell

    Astrophysicist looks beyond test flight to asteroids and Mars

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    ap

    Photos (1) courtesy of Bill Ingalls/NASA; (2) by Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

    NASA’s Orion (photo 1) is considered to be the next-generation spaceship. “Apollo was: ‘Let’s get someone to the moon and back alive.’ Orion is: ‘Let’s develop the infrastructure and the capability to gad about the solar system and have a spacecraft that can operate for months, have a spacecraft that can have a bigger safety margin than Apollo did.'” said Jonathan McDowell (photo 2), a scientist with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

    On Friday, NASA successfully launched its next-generation spaceship farther than any astronaut has flown since the Apollo program of the 1960s. Though the Orion was unmanned during the test flight, which took it 15 times higher than the Space Station orbits, it is designed to eventually carry a human crew on missions to the moon, to near-Earth asteroids, and even to Mars.

    Jonathan McDowell, a scientist with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, works on the Chandra X-ray Observatory and also publishes Jonathan’s Space Report, a Web newsletter that focuses on launches of all kinds, manned and unmanned. He answered questions from the Gazette on the test flight, the goals of the Orion effort, and the rationale behind mounting a mission to a near-Earth asteroid.

    GAZETTE: I’ve heard this launch mentioned as the beginning of a new era. Do you think that’s true?

    McDOWELL: In a small way. I do think it’s part of a shift back in human space exploration. I say human space exploration, because the robotic space exploration program — both the scientific program in Earth orbit typified by Hubble and Chandra, and the robot probes into space, with the Mars rovers, Cassini, and so on — those have been going like gangbusters and been super-successful.

    NASA Chandra Telescope
    Chandra

    NASA Hubble Telescope
    Hubble

    NASA Mars Curiosity
    Curiosity

    NASA Cassini Spacecraft
    Cassini

    So, it’s really the American human spaceflight program that has been perhaps faltering, partly due to problems with the way NASA approached things, and partly due to political indecisiveness.

    GAZETTE: Even though computerization and technology have advanced very rapidly since, it seems we’re still catching up to Apollo and, with Orion, we’ve taken a baby step.

    McDOWELL: The Orion spacecraft is a lot more sophisticated than Apollo. It’s bigger, can carry more people. Once they build the service module, which they haven’t done yet, it will have solar panels, it will be able to last longer. Apollo was: “Let’s get someone to the moon and back alive.” Orion is: “Let’s develop the infrastructure and the capability to gad about the solar system and have a spacecraft that can operate for months, have a spacecraft that can have a bigger safety margin than Apollo did.”

    NASA Orion Spacecraft
    Orion

    It’s just amazing that we didn’t lose an Apollo mission in space. Apollo 13 was a close thing. Those folks were really brave. One can hope that there’s just a little more margin in Orion in terms of life-support systems. We have a little more understanding now after decades of operating the shuttle. In every year of the shuttle program, we launched more people into Earth orbit than in the entire Mercury-Gemini-Apollo programs combined. And so just the number of astronaut flight hours that we’ve had and even astronaut rocket propulsion minutes — getting to orbit and back — is so much bigger than we had with Apollo. So there’s a maturity with the processes now.

    This is something that can get to the moon like Apollo could get to the moon, just as your 2014 Honda Civic can get you to the grocery store much like the Model T could have done. But there’s still a big difference between them.

    That’s one aspect of this. The thing that we’re still missing is a good cheap way to get to space. And we’re limited. Orion is a compromise, because even this enormous SLS [space launch system] booster that they’re planning to get Orion to the moon can’t carry as much mass as you’d like. They’re going to various extremes to cut the weight to the bone.

    You have to have these immensely expensive SLS rockets that are still not as big as you’d like. Many people hope that the development that Space X is doing with their Falcon series of rockets will lead to something more affordable.

    GAZETTE: Is that because the SLS wasn’t designed anew? It uses off-the-shelf shuttle boosters in its rocket?

    McDOWELL: There’s some of that, yes, and it’s designed both using existing technology and with the existing processes and approaches, sort of the old NASA way. I think there’s starting to be an awareness, even in the SLS program, [that they have] to tweak that and see what they can do to make it more affordable.

    But there are constraints: “You can build it anywhere you want, as long as the jobs go to Alabama or Utah.” It’s very much influenced by political considerations of who gets the contract. “What’s the best way to get us to Mars?” is not necessarily the first constraint.

    GAZETTE: Can you address the idea of Orion visiting a near-Earth asteroid before any trip to Mars?

    McDOWELL: There are a number of reasons to be interested in near-Earth asteroids. Everyone knows there are these rocks between Mars and Jupiter called the asteroid belt. But there are also a smaller number of objects that are from maybe 10 miles across at the biggest, down to a few yards across. And these things litter the inner solar system.

    Most of them, over the billions of years of the solar system, have been soaked up by the planets, making big craters. That’s why the moon is covered by these big round holes. But there’s still a few left, and there’s some concern they might make a few more holes.

    One reason for being concerned with asteroids is the danger of them hitting us. Another reason is that some of them have heavy deposits of valuable minerals, like rare earth elements, and you might want to mine them. And a third scientific reason is that they may be relatively unchanged from the early solar system and give us insight into how the Earth itself formed.

    But I think those reasons don’t matter [because] the point of sending astronauts to an asteroid is that we need practice getting around the solar system. What we want to do in the long run is colonize the solar system. We want to live in the “Star Trek” future where Earth is not the only place where humans live. And to get there we need to be able to get around the solar system and, beyond the moon, the easiest things to get to are asteroids.

    It’s going to take a voyage of years to get to Mars [and] if anything goes wrong, you’re in big trouble, because you’re a long way from home. With asteroids, you’re maybe weeks to months to get there. So it’s longer than the three days to the moon, but it’s still a much more manageable trip time.

    GAZETTE: Is there a point at which you will be disappointed if this vehicle hasn’t taken us to Mars? Or is Mars sort of a reach goal?

    McDOWELL: Personally, I think Mars is a reach goal for Orion. I don’t think that NASA has a budgetarily realistic plan to get to Mars in the foreseeable future. But I think if we keep tweaking things and [start doing] what we haven’t been doing, [which] is investing in advanced technology development, we may be able to improve the rockets and the systems enough to get something practical to Mars.

    GAZETTE: They’re talking about Mars in the 2040s. That seems like a long way away.

    McDOWELL: It’s not a definite plan, but it’s hard to see it happening any earlier than the 2030s and it’s easy to see it slipping to the 2050s, but not much beyond that. So I would say that’s sort of the right timeframe to imagine a human Mars expedition, if we don’t somehow lose interest in human space exploration.

    GAZETTE: Do we have the technology to go now, if the budgetary and political will was there?

    McDOWELL: I think we’re not far off. You know, one of the great things we’re discovering on the space station is how often things break. There’s this oxygen-regeneration system and the urine-recycling system and things like that which had unexpected “failure modes” that they were able to fix with [help from] cargo ships. You can’t do that if you’re halfway to Mars when the thing breaks.

    You need to build your Mars ship and operate it in Earth orbit for a few years — operate several of them — to get experience in how they break, until you’re confident that you can send one out to Mars on a long trip without too much breaking down on the way.

    I think we’re starting to understand that there’s all this research you have to do. We don’t really know, right now, how to land a big enough vehicle on Mars. Mars is a hard place to land because the atmosphere is too thin for parachutes to really do the job, and too thick to just use rocket engines on the way down. So you have to use a mix of methods, and it’s complicated. The heavier vehicle you have, the harder it is to get it right.

    So there’s some basic technology that we still [have] got to develop and we’re a ways off from being able to do the Mars mission. [We’re] not so far from being able to do a Phobos mission, which is one of the moons of Mars. Getting down into Mars’ gravity well and back up is what’s really hard. If you can make the long duration vehicle work OK, maybe you can go to Phobos and back just to say you’ve been there.

    See the full article here.

    The Department of Physics at Harvard is large and diverse. With 10 Nobel Prize winners (see above) to its credit, the distinguished faculty of today engages in teaching and research that spans the discipline and defines its borders, and as a result Harvard is consistently one of the top-ranked physics departments in the nation.

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  • richardmitnick 1:31 pm on December 3, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , NASA Orion   

    From NASA: “About Orion” 

    NASA

    NASA

    December 3, 2014
    No Writer Credit

    NASA’s Orion spacecraft is built to take humans farther than they’ve ever gone before. Orion will serve as the exploration vehicle that will carry the crew to space, provide emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during the space travel, and provide safe re-entry from deep space return velocities.

    o
    NASA’s Orion Spacecraft at the Launch Pad

    On December 4, 2014, Orion will launch atop a Delta IV Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex Flight Test on the Orion Flight Test: a two-orbit, four-hour flight that will test many of the systems most critical to safety.

    The Orion Flight Test will evaluate launch and high speed re-entry systems such as avionics, attitude control, parachutes and the heat shield.

    In the future, Orion will launch on NASA’s new heavy-lift rocket, the Space Launch System. More powerful than any rocket ever built, SLS will be capable of sending humans to deep space destinations such as an asteroid and eventually Mars. Exploration Mission-1 will be the first mission to integrate Orion and the Space Launch System.

    See the full article here.

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    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation’s civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research.

    President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958 with a distinctly civilian (rather than military) orientation encouraging peaceful applications in space science. The National Aeronautics and Space Act was passed on July 29, 1958, disestablishing NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency became operational on October 1, 1958.

    Since that time, most U.S. space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo moon-landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and Commercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program (LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches. Most recently, NASA announced a new Space Launch System that it said would take the agency’s astronauts farther into space than ever before and lay the cornerstone for future human space exploration efforts by the U.S.

    NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System, advancing heliophysics through the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate’s Heliophysics Research Program, exploring bodies throughout the Solar System with advanced robotic missions such as New Horizons, and researching astrophysics topics, such as the Big Bang, through the Great Observatories [Hubble, Chandra, Spitzer, and associated programs. NASA shares data with various national and international organizations such as from the Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite.

     
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