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Topic: NASA Artemis Program

NASA’s Ames Research Center Contributions to SpaceX Commercial Crew Missions

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationMountain View, CA – A new era of human spaceflight is set to begin as American astronauts once again launch on an American rocket from American soil to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program – the first time since the retirement of the Space Shuttle Program in 2011.

Commercial crew partner SpaceX will carry humans to the space station, like a taxi or a rideshare service, shuttling people to their destination and home again.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft onboard as it is rolled to the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A for NASA’s SpaceX Demo-1 mission on Feb. 28, 2019 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (NASA/Joel Kowsky)

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft onboard as it is rolled to the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A for NASA’s SpaceX Demo-1 mission on Feb. 28, 2019 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (NASA/Joel Kowsky)

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NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover being put through Tough Tests before trip to Mars

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – While auto manufacturers built over 92 million motor vehicles for this world in 2019, NASA built just one for Mars. The Perseverance Mars rover is one of a kind, and the testing required to get it ready to roll on the mean (and unpaved) streets of the Red Planet is one of a kind as well.

Because hardware cannot be repaired once the rover is on Mars, the team has to build a vehicle that can survive for years on a planet with punishing temperature shifts, constant radiation and ever-present dust.

This photo shows a successful test of the parachute that will be used to land NASA's Perseverance rover on Mars. The image were taken on Septe,ber 7th, 2018, during the third and final flight of the Advanced Supersonic Parachute Inflation Research Experiment (ASPIRE) project. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This photo shows a successful test of the parachute that will be used to land NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars. The image were taken on Septe,ber 7th, 2018, during the third and final flight of the Advanced Supersonic Parachute Inflation Research Experiment (ASPIRE) project. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover equipped with most advanced Cameras to date

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – When it launches this summer, NASA’s Perseverance rover will have the most advanced pair of “eyes” ever sent to the Red Planet’s surface: Its Mastcam-Z instrument packs a next-gen zoom capability that will help the mission make 3D imagery more easily. Rover operators, who carefully plan out each driving route and each movement of a rover’s robotic arm, view these stereo images through 3D goggles to see the contours of the landscape.

A close-up of the head of Perseverance Rover's remote sensing mast. The mast head contains the SuperCam instrument (its lens is in the large circular opening). In the gray boxes beneath mast head are the two Mastcam-Z imagers. On the exterior sides of those imagers are the rover's two navigation cameras. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

A close-up of the head of Perseverance Rover’s remote sensing mast. The mast head contains the SuperCam instrument (its lens is in the large circular opening). In the gray boxes beneath mast head are the two Mastcam-Z imagers. On the exterior sides of those imagers are the rover’s two navigation cameras. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Mars Helicopter receives new name, Ingenuity

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Destined to become the first aircraft to attempt powered flight on another planet, NASA’s Mars Helicopter officially has received a new name: Ingenuity.

Vaneeza Rupani, a junior at Tuscaloosa County High School in Northport, Alabama, came up with the name and the motivation behind it during NASA’s “Name the Rover” essay contest.

“The ingenuity and brilliance of people working hard to overcome the challenges of interplanetary travel are what allow us all to experience the wonders of space exploration,” Rupani wrote in her contest submission. “Ingenuity is what allows people to accomplish amazing things, and it allows us to expand our horizons to the edges of the universe.” 

Vaneeza Rupani (inset), a junior at Tuscaloosa County High School in Northport, Alabama, came up with the name Ingenuity for NASA's Mars Helicopter (an artist's impression of which is seen here) and the motivation behind it during NASA's "Name the Rover" essay contest. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/NIA/Rupani Family)

Vaneeza Rupani (inset), a junior at Tuscaloosa County High School in Northport, Alabama, came up with the name Ingenuity for NASA’s Mars Helicopter (an artist’s impression of which is seen here) and the motivation behind it during NASA’s “Name the Rover” essay contest. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/NIA/Rupani Family)

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NASA to use CubeSat with Infrared Lasers to search the Moon’s Craters for Ice

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – As astronauts explore the Moon during the Artemis program, they may need to make use of the resources that already exist on the lunar surface. Take water, for instance: Because it’s a heavy and therefore expensive resource to launch from Earth, our future explorers might have to seek out ice to mine.

Once excavated, it can be melted and purified for drinking and used for rocket fuel. But how much water is there on the Moon, and where might we find it?

This artist's concept shows the briefcase-sized Lunar Flashlight spacecraft using its near-infrared lasers to shine light into shaded polar regions on the Moon to look for water ice. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s concept shows the briefcase-sized Lunar Flashlight spacecraft using its near-infrared lasers to shine light into shaded polar regions on the Moon to look for water ice. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA performs weight balancing test on Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – With 13 weeks to go before the launch period of NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover opens, final preparations of the spacecraft continue at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. On April 8th, 2020 the assembly, test and launch operations team completed a crucial mass properties test of the rover.

Precision mass properties measurements are essential to a safe landing on Mars because they help ensure that the spacecraft travels accurately throughout its trip to the Red Planet – from launch through its entry, descent and landing.

This image of the Perseverance Mars rover was taken at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on April 7, 2020, during a test of the vehicle's mass properties. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This image of the Perseverance Mars rover was taken at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on April 7, 2020, during a test of the vehicle’s mass properties. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s VIPER Lunar Rover prepared to handle Moon Dust

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationMountain View, CA – NASA says that Moon dust is a formidable adversary – the grains are as fine as powder and as sharp as tiny shards of glass.

During the Apollo 17 mission to the Moon, the astronauts lamented how the dust found its way into everything, coating their spacesuits and jamming the shoulder joints, getting inside their lunar habitat and even causing symptoms of a temporary “lunar dust hay fever” in astronaut Harrison Schmitt. Those symptoms fortunately went away quickly – but the problem of Moon dust remains for future missions.

Robotics engineer Jason Schuler performs a preliminary test to prepare for dust testing of various seals for the wheel motors on NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER, March 17, 2020, at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The test takes place in a bin holding more than 120 tons of simulated lunar regolith – loose dirt, dust and rock – that is used to help simulate the properties of the lunar surface. (NASA/Cory Huston)

Robotics engineer Jason Schuler performs a preliminary test to prepare for dust testing of various seals for the wheel motors on NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER, March 17, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The test takes place in a bin holding more than 120 tons of simulated lunar regolith – loose dirt, dust and rock – that is used to help simulate the properties of the lunar surface. (NASA/Cory Huston)

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NASA’s Perseverance Rover gets Mars Helicopter connected to it’s bottom

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – With the launch period of NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover opening in 14 weeks, final preparations of the spacecraft continue at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

In the past week, the assembly, test and launch operations team completed important milestones, fueling the descent stage – also known as the sky crane – and attaching the Mars Helicopter, which will be the first aircraft in history to attempt power-controlled flight on another planet.

Over the weekend, 884 pounds (401 kilograms) of hydrazine monopropellant were loaded into the descent stage’s four fuel tanks.

The Mars Helicopter and its Mars Helicopter Delivery System were attached to the Perseverance Mars rover at Kennedy Space Center on April 6, 2020. The helicopter will be deployed about two-and-a-half months after Perseverance lands. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The Mars Helicopter and its Mars Helicopter Delivery System were attached to the Perseverance Mars rover at Kennedy Space Center on April 6, 2020. The helicopter will be deployed about two-and-a-half months after Perseverance lands. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA Grants Contract to Deliver Science, Tech to Moon Ahead of Human Missions

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA has selected Masten Space Systems of Mojave, California, to deliver and operate eight payloads – with nine science and technology instruments – to the Moon’s South Pole in 2022, to help lay the foundation for human expeditions to the lunar surface beginning in 2024.

The payloads, which include instruments to assess the composition of the lunar surface, test precision landing technologies, and evaluate the radiation on the Moon, are being delivered under NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative as part of the agency’s Artemis program.

Masten’s XL-1 lunar lander will deliver science and technology payloads to the Moon’s South Pole in 2022. (Masten Space Systems)

Masten’s XL-1 lunar lander will deliver science and technology payloads to the Moon’s South Pole in 2022. (Masten Space Systems)

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NASA lays out concept for Lunar Surface Activities

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – When NASA sends astronauts to the surface of the Moon in 2024, it will be the first time outside of watching historical footage most people witness humans walking on another planetary body. Building on these footsteps, future robotic and human explorers will put in place infrastructure for a long-term sustainable presence on the Moon.

NASA recently proposed a plan to go from limited, short-term Apollo-era exploration of the 1960s, to a 21st Century plan in a report to the National Space Council. With the Artemis program, we will explore more of the Moon than ever before to make the next giant leap – sending astronauts to Mars.

Infographic showing the evolution of lunar activities on the surface and in orbit. (NASA)

Infographic showing the evolution of lunar activities on the surface and in orbit. (NASA)

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