Tag Archives: NASA

Orion Spaceship

Technicians have completed construction on the spacecraft capsule structure that will return astronauts to the Moon, and have successfully shipped the capsule to Florida for final assembly into a full spacecraft. The capsule structure, or pressure vessel, for NASA’s Orion Exploration Mission-2 (EM-2) spacecraft was welded together over the last seven months by Lockheed Martin technicians and engineers at the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility near New Orleans.

Lockheed Martin Begins Final Assembly on NASA's Orion Spaceship That Will Take Astronauts Further Than Ever Before
Lockheed Martin Begins Final Assembly on NASA’s Orion Spaceship That Will Take Astronauts Further Than Ever Before

Orion is the world’s only exploration-class spaceship, and the EM-2 mission will be its first flight with astronauts on board, taking them farther into the solar system than ever before.

«It’s great to see the EM-2 capsule arrive just as we are completing the final assembly of the EM-1 crew module», said Mike Hawes, Lockheed Martin vice president and program manager for Orion. «We’ve learned a lot building the previous pressure vessels and spacecraft and the EM-2 spacecraft will be the most capable, cost-effective and efficient one we’ve built».

Orion’s pressure vessel is made from seven large, machined aluminum alloy pieces that are welded together to produce a strong, light-weight, air-tight capsule. It was designed specifically to withstand the harsh and demanding environment of deep space travel while keeping the crew safe and productive.

«We’re all taking extra care with this build and assembly, knowing that this spaceship is going to take astronauts back to the Moon for the first time in four decades», said Matt Wallo, senior manager of Lockheed Martin Orion Production at Michoud. «It’s amazing to think that, one day soon, the crew will watch the sun rise over the lunar horizon through the windows of this pressure vessel. We’re all humbled and proud to be doing our part for the future of exploration».

The capsule was shipped over the road from New Orleans to the Kennedy Space Center, arriving on Friday, August 24. Now in the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building, Lockheed Martin technicians will immediately start assembly and integration on the EM-2 crew module.

Parker Solar Probe

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying NASA’s Parker Solar Probe spacecraft lifted off from Space Launch Complex-37 on August 12 at 3:31 a.m. EDT. NASA selected ULA’s Delta IV Heavy for its unique ability to deliver the necessary energy to begin the Parker Solar Probe’s journey to the sun.

United Launch Alliance Successfully Launches NASA’s Parker Solar Probe Spacecraft
United Launch Alliance Successfully Launches NASA’s Parker Solar Probe Spacecraft

The Delta IV Heavy is the nation’s proven heavy lift launch vehicle, delivering high-priority missions for NASA, the U.S. Air Force and the National Reconnaissance Office. With its advanced cryogenic upper stage, Delta IV Heavy can deliver more than 14,000 pounds/6,350 kg directly to geosynchronous orbit, as well as a wide variety of complex interplanetary trajectories.

«The unique requirements of this mission made the Delta IV Heavy the perfect launch vehicle to deliver Parker Solar Probe into orbit with the highest precision», said Gary Wentz, ULA vice president of Government and Commercial Programs. «Congratulations to our team and mission partners, we are proud to launch this exceptional spacecraft that will provide invaluable scientific information benefiting all of humankind».

This mission was launched aboard a Delta IV Heavy, which is comprised of three common core boosters each powered by an Aerojet Rocketdyne (AR) RS-68A liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engines producing a combined total of more than 2.1 million pounds/952,544 kg of thrust. The second stage was powered by an AR RL10B-2 liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine. Due to the extremely high energy required for this mission, the Delta IV Heavy’s capability was enhanced by a powerful third stage provided by Northrop Grumman.

This was the 37th launch of the Delta IV rocket, and the 10th in the Heavy configuration. It also marks ULA’s sixth launch in 2018 and the 129th successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006.

ULA’s next launch is the ICESat-2 mission for NASA on what will be the final Delta II mission. The launch is scheduled for September 15 at Space Launch Complex-2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

With more than a century of combined heritage, United Launch Alliance is the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 125 satellites to orbit that aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, unlock the mysteries of our solar system, provide critical capabilities for troops in the field and enable personal device-based GPS navigation.

Desired stable orbit

Northrop Grumman Corporation announced that NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has successfully reached its desired stable orbit and begun science operations. The spacecraft was built and operated by Northrop Grumman. The TESS spacecraft instrument is the set of four wide-field cameras designed and built by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and MIT Lincoln Lab. The principal goal of the TESS mission is to use its four wide-field cameras to detect planets around bright host stars in the solar neighborhood so that detailed characterizations of the planets and their atmospheres can be performed through follow-up observations from telescopes on Earth and in space. As the first-ever satellite to perform an exoplanet survey of nearly the entire sky, TESS will identify planets ranging from Earth-sized to Jupiter-sized, orbiting a wide range of stellar types at various orbital distances.

NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) was designed, manufactured and tested by Northrop Grumman in the company’s Dulles, Virginia, satellite manufacturing facility. The company is also responsible for handling mission operations for the observatory
NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) was designed, manufactured and tested by Northrop Grumman in the company’s Dulles, Virginia, satellite manufacturing facility. The company is also responsible for handling mission operations for the observatory

The TESS spacecraft was designed, manufactured and tested by Northrop Grumman at the company’s satellite manufacturing facility in Dulles. The company is also responsible for handling mission operations for the observatory. TESS was launched April 18, 2018, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. After launch, the observatory went through a series of tests and began preparation for a series of in-space maneuvers, including a lunar gravity assist, to reach its targeted highly-elliptical orbit. This lunar flyby was executed May 17 and the final period-adjustment maneuver was performed May 29.

«The TESS observatory is in excellent condition after completing the journey to its final orbit», said Steve Krein, vice president, science and environmental satellite programs, Northrop Grumman. «TESS is another example of our ability to deliver successful scientific space missions that shape our knowledge of the known universe. We are proud to provide critical mission operations for TESS as it continues a historic journey to identify new planets outside our solar system».

The four TESS cameras developed by MIT project partners are integrated with Northrop Grumman’s LEOStar-2 bus, a flight-proven and flexible satellite platform that accommodates a wide variety of missions. The company has several other satellites in production for upcoming NASA missions including the Earth science ICESat-2 and Landsat-9 satellites and the JPSS-2, -3 and -4 weather spacecraft which use the larger LEOStar-3 bus, as well as the Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) LEOStar-2 satellite to be launched later this year.

TESS is a NASA astrophysics explorer mission led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Dr. George Ricker of MIT’s Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research serves as principal investigator for the mission. Additional partners besides Northrop Grumman include NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley; the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts; MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, Massachusetts; and the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland. More than a dozen universities, research institutes and observatories worldwide are participants in the mission.

X-plane

Supersonic commercial travel is on the horizon. On April 3, 2018, NASA awarded Lockheed Martin Skunk Works a contract to design, build and flight test the Low-Boom Flight Demonstrator, an X-plane designed to make supersonic passenger air travel a reality.

The Lockheed Martin Skunk Works’ X-plane design will cruise at 55,000 feet/16,764 m, Mach 1.4, and will generate a gentle, supersonic heartbeat instead of a sonic boom
The Lockheed Martin Skunk Works’ X-plane design will cruise at 55,000 feet/16,764 m, Mach 1.4, and will generate a gentle, supersonic heartbeat instead of a sonic boom

«It is super exciting to be back designing and flying X-planes at this scale», said Jaiwon Shin, NASA’s associate administrator for aeronautics. «Our long tradition of solving the technical barriers of supersonic flight to benefit everyone continues».

Lockheed Martin Skunk Works will build a full-scale experimental aircraft, known as an X-plane, of its preliminary design developed under NASA’s Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST) effort. The X-plane will help NASA establish an acceptable commercial supersonic noise standard to overturn current regulations banning commercial supersonic travel over land.

«We’re honored to continue our partnership with NASA to enable a new generation of supersonic travel», said Peter Iosifidis, Low-Boom Flight Demonstrator program manager, Lockheed Martin Skunk Works. «We look forward to applying the extensive work completed under QueSST to the design, build and flight test of the X-plane, providing NASA with a demonstrator to make supersonic commercial travel possible for passengers around the globe».

Lockheed Martin Skunk Works and NASA have partnered for more than a decade to enable the next generation of commercial supersonic aircraft. NASA awarded Lockheed Martin Skunk Works a contract in February 2016 for the preliminary design of the supersonic X-plane flight demonstrator.

The aircraft will be built at the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works facility in Palmdale, California, and will conduct its first flight in 2021.

Clean Room

All the major elements of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope now reside in a giant clean room at Northrop Grumman Corporation’s Redondo Beach facility, setting the stage for final assembly and testing of the giant space telescope that will explore the origins of the universe and search for life beyond our solar system.

NASAs James Webb Space Telescope Optics and Science Instruments in Northrop Grumman’s Clean Room
NASAs James Webb Space Telescope Optics and Science Instruments in Northrop Grumman’s Clean Room

The Optical Telescope and Integrated Science instrument module (OTIS) arrived at Northrop Grumman in February. It was previously at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, where it successfully completed cryogenic testing.

OTIS and the spacecraft element, which is Webb’s combined sunshield and spacecraft bus, now both call Northrop Grumman home. Webb is scheduled to launch from Kourou, French Guiana in 2019.

The James Webb Space Telescope is the world’s premier space observatory of the next decade. Webb will solve mysteries of our solar system, look beyond to distant worlds around other stars, and probe the mysterious structures and origins of our universe and our place in it. Webb is an international program led by NASA with its partners, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.

InSight Spacecraft

NASA’s latest mission to Mars took its first trip on its long journey to the Red Planet. On February 28, Lockheed Martin delivered NASA’s InSight Mars lander to Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The lander will now undergo final processing in preparation for a May 5 launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 rocket.

Lockheed Martin delivered NASA’s InSight spacecraft to its California launch site on February 28, 2018. The Mars lander was shipped aboard a U.S. Air Force transport plane from Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado to Vandenberg Air Force Base where it will undergo final processing in preparation for a May launch
Lockheed Martin delivered NASA’s InSight spacecraft to its California launch site on February 28, 2018. The Mars lander was shipped aboard a U.S. Air Force transport plane from Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado to Vandenberg Air Force Base where it will undergo final processing in preparation for a May launch

The InSight lander will study the deep interior of Mars and will address one of the most fundamental questions of planetary and solar system science: how do terrestrial planets form? By mapping the basic structure of the planet, the mission will help scientists understand the processes that shaped the rocky planets of the inner solar system more than four billion years ago. Lockheed Martin designed and built the spacecraft and is responsible for testing, launch processing and spacecraft flight operations.

«InSight is an amazing spacecraft and we can’t wait to see it on the surface of Mars later this year», said Stu Spath, InSight program manager and director of Deep Space Exploration Systems at Lockheed Martin Space. «We’ve worked closely with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to design and build this spacecraft. Its environmental testing is complete, and now the launch team is moving to California to perform final preparations for a May launch».

The 1,380-pound/626-kg spacecraft, consisting of the lander, aeroshell and cruise stage, was shipped aboard a U.S. Air Force transport plane, courtesy of the Air Force Air Mobility Command, in an environmentally controlled container. The plane, spacecraft and support personnel took off from Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colorado and touched down at Vandenberg Air Force Base. While at Vandenberg at the Astrotech Space Operations facility, the spacecraft will undergo final processing including system-level checkout, propellant loading and a final spin balance test.

The InSight mission’s principal investigator is JPL’s Bruce Banerdt. The Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES), France’s space agency, and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) are each contributing a science instrument to the two-year scientific mission. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages InSight for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. InSight is part of NASA’s Discovery Program, managed by the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

James Webb

The two halves of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope now reside at Northrop Grumman in Redondo Beach, California, where they will come together to form the complete observatory.

The Space Telescope Transporter for Air, Road and Sea (STTARS) container enclosed with NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope’s Optical Telescope and Integrated Science instrument module (OTIS) arriving at Northrop Grumman Redondo Beach, California facilities on Friday, February 2
The Space Telescope Transporter for Air, Road and Sea (STTARS) container enclosed with NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope’s Optical Telescope and Integrated Science instrument module (OTIS) arriving at Northrop Grumman Redondo Beach, California facilities on Friday, February 2

«This is a major milestone», said Eric Smith, program director for Webb at NASA. «With the arrival of the science payload at Northrop Grumman’s Space Park facility, we will now carefully test the observatory to ensure the work of thousands of scientists and engineers across the globe is ready for launch and will enable people to seek the first luminous objects in the universe and search for signs of habitable planets».

The Optical Telescope and Integrated Science instrument module (OTIS) of Webb arrived at Northrop Grumman on Friday, February 2. It was previously at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, where it successfully completed cryogenic testing.

In preparation for leaving Johnson, OTIS was placed inside a specially designed shipping container called the Space Telescope Transporter for Air, Road and Sea. The container was then loaded onto a U.S. military C-5 Charlie aircraft at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base, just outside of Johnson. From there, OTIS took an overnight flight to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

Upon its arrival, OTIS was driven from LAX to Northrop Grumman. OTIS and the spacecraft element, which is Webb’s combined sunshield and spacecraft bus, now both call Northrop Grumman home.

«It’s exciting to have all three Webb elements – OTIS, sunshield and spacecraft bus, here at our campus», said Scott Willoughby, vice president and program manager for Webb at Northrop Grumman. «The team is excited to begin the final stages of integration of the world’s largest space telescope».

During the summer, OTIS will receive additional testing before being combined with the spacecraft element to form the complete James Webb Space Telescope observatory. Once the telescope is fully integrated, the entire observatory will undergo more tests during what is called observatory-level testing.

Webb is scheduled to launch from Kourou, French Guiana, in 2019.

The James Webb Space Telescope is the world’s premier space observatory of the next decade. Webb will solve mysteries of our solar system, look beyond to distant worlds around other stars, and probe the mysterious structures and origins of our universe and our place in it. Webb is an international program led by NASA with its partners, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.

Major milestone

Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Dream Chaser program passed a major NASA milestone for its Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCAP) contract with the completion of a successful Free-Flight test, which produced subsonic flight and landing performance data.

Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser Spacecraft Passes Major NASA Milestone after Free-Flight Test
Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser Spacecraft Passes Major NASA Milestone after Free-Flight Test

Milestone 4B validated the spacecraft’s design for a safe and reliable return of cargo services to Earth through a gentle runway landing, signaling the program is one step closer to orbital operations.

The Dream Chaser will go to the space station for at least six cargo resupply missions starting in 2020 under a separate contract, NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS2).

The NASA Commercial Crew Program reviewed the data, confirming it fully met or exceeded all requirements and authorized full payment of the milestone.  Additionally, SNC collected a significant amount of additional information that will be used for the final vehicle design.

«The test was a huge success and when we looked at the data, we were thrilled to see how closely our flight performance projections matched the actual flight data», said Steve Lindsey, vice president of SNC’s Space Exploration Systems business unit. «This gives us high confidence in our atmospheric flight performance as we move towards orbital operations».

The approach and landing test included intentional maneuvers both to assess the responsiveness of the Dream Chaser to control inputs and to measure the resulting stability of the vehicle under very dynamic, stressful conditions. This showcased the aerodynamic capability of the Dream Chaser as well as performance of the integrated computer system that autonomously returned the vehicle to a safe runway landing. These are critical components for orbital missions to and from the International Space Station.

Mark Sirangelo, executive vice president for SNC’s Space Systems business area, commented, «Achievements of this magnitude require the involvement and collaboration of many people. The Free-Flight test took place at the same historic location where the sound barrier was broken 70 years ago and where the Space Shuttle program began 40 years ago. With that historic legacy, I would like to extend our sincere appreciation to our whole flight team».

«I want to especially thank NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center Director, David McBride, the entire Armstrong team, the U.S. Air Force, NASA’s Commercial Crew and CRS2 programs, and our industry partners, including Draper Laboratories, who helped design our flight software. Most importantly, I want to say how proud I am of the SNC Dream Chaser flight and program teams who have performed above and beyond to make the flight and milestone a success», Sirangelo added.

The Free-Flight test of the Dream Chaser was performed at Edwards Air Force Base, California on November 11. The vehicle’s next milestone will be the CRS2 Dream Chaser Critical Design Review, scheduled for 2018.

 

About Dream Chaser Spacecraft

Owned and operated by SNC, the Dream Chaser spacecraft is a reusable, multi-mission space utility vehicle. It is capable of transportation services to and from low-Earth orbit, where the International Space Station resides, and is the only commercial, lifting-body vehicle capable of a runway landing. The Dream Chaser Cargo System was selected by NASA to provide cargo delivery and disposal services to the space station under the Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS2) contract. All Dream Chaser CRS2 cargo missions are planned to land at Kennedy Space Center’s Shuttle Landing Facility.

Free-Flight test

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) announces a successful atmospheric Free-Flight test of its Dream Chaser spacecraft, signaling the program is another achievement closer to orbital operations.

The Dream Chaser landing after the Free-Flight test at Edwards AFB, CA on Saturday, November 11
The Dream Chaser landing after the Free-Flight test at Edwards AFB, CA on Saturday, November 11

The full-scale Dream Chaser test vehicle was lifted from a Columbia Helicopters Model 234-UT Chinook helicopter on Saturday, released and flew a pre-planned flight path ending with an autonomous landing on Runway 22L at Edwards Air Force Base (AFB), California.

«The Dream Chaser flight test demonstrated excellent performance of the spacecraft’s aerodynamic design and the data shows that we are firmly on the path for safe, reliable orbital flight», said Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president of SNC’s Space System business area.

The first orbital vehicle is scheduled to go to the International Space Station as soon as 2020 for at least six missions as part of NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services 2 contract (CRS2). The missions will supply astronauts with much needed supplies and technical support elements and enable the gentle return of scientific experiments. The test vehicle was originally developed under the Commercial Crew Integrated Capabilities agreement (CCiCap).

«The Dream Chaser spacecraft today has proven its atmospheric flight performance along with its return and landing capability. This advances our program and the Dream Chaser towards orbital flight, while meeting the final milestone for our NASA CCiCap agreement and supporting milestone 5 of the CRS2 contract», Sirangelo added.

The test verified and validated the performance of the Dream Chaser spacecraft in the final approach and landing phase of flight, modeling a successful return from the space station.  Most critically, by flying the same flight path that would be used returning from orbit, this free-flight proves the highly important landing attributes needed to bring back science and experiments from the space station.

SNC and NASA will evaluate information from the test, including the Dream Chaser aerodynamic and integrated system performance from 12,400 feet/3,780 meters altitude through main landing gear touchdown, nose landing gear touchdown and final rollout to wheel-stop on the runway. The Edwards Air Force Base runway is very similar to the Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility runway that Dream Chaser will land on for CRS2 flights.

This approach and landing test expands on phase one flight testing, with key differences including adding specific program test inputs into the trajectory, which helps the engineers refine the aerodynamic characteristics of the vehicle. Saturday’s test also included orbital vehicle avionics and flight software for the first time, providing orbital vehicle design validation.

«I’m so proud of the Dream Chaser team for their continued excellence. This spacecraft is the future and has the ability to change the way humans interact with space, and I couldn’t be happier with SNC’s dedicated team and the results of the test», said Fatih Ozmen, CEO of SNC.

The Dream Chaser has been at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center since January undergoing a variety of tests in preparation for the Free-Flight. The spacecraft used the same historic hangar occupied by the Enterprise Shuttle.

Dream Chaser

Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Dream Chaser underwent a captive carry test at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center here August 30. The test was part of the spacecraft’s Phase Two flight test efforts to advance the orbiter closer to space flight, according to an SNC press release.

The Dream Chaser prepares for a captive carry test August 30, 2017, at Edwards Air Force Base, California. The test was part of the spacecraft’s Phase Two flight test efforts to advance the orbiter closer to space flight (U.S. Air Force photo/Kenji Thuloweit)
The Dream Chaser prepares for a captive carry test August 30, 2017, at Edwards Air Force Base, California. The test was part of the spacecraft’s Phase Two flight test efforts to advance the orbiter closer to space flight (U.S. Air Force photo/Kenji Thuloweit)

A Columbia Helicopters Model 234-UT Chinook helicopter carried the Dream Chaser over Edwards for about an hour. The goal was to reach an altitude and flight conditions the spacecraft would experience before being released on a free flight test, said company officials.

The Dream Chaser was delivered to Armstrong January 25 to undergo several months of testing at the center in preparation for its upcoming approach and landing flight on one of Edwards Air Force Base’s (AFB) runways.

The test series is part of a developmental space act agreement SNC has with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The test campaign will help SNC validate the aerodynamic properties, flight software and control system performance of the Dream Chaser, according to NASA.

Lee Archambault, SNC director of flight operations for the Dream Chaser program, said in a press release, «We are very pleased with the results from the captive carry test and everything we have seen points to a successful test with useful data for the next round of testing».

The August 30 captive carry test is one of two planned at Edwards for this year. The test obtained data and evaluated both individual and overall system performance, said the release. If the second captive carry test is a success, it will clear the way for a free-flight test.

The Dream Chaser is also being prepared to deliver cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services 2 contract beginning in 2019. The data that SNC gathers from this test campaign will help influence and inform the final design of the cargo Dream Chaser, which will fly at least six cargo delivery missions to and from the space station by 2024, according to NASA.

A Columbia Helicopters Model 234-UT Chinook helicopter carries the Dream Chaser over Edwards Air Force Base, California, for a captive carry test August 30, 2017 (U.S. Air Force photo/Kenji Thuloweit)
A Columbia Helicopters Model 234-UT Chinook helicopter carries the Dream Chaser over Edwards Air Force Base, California, for a captive carry test August 30, 2017 (U.S. Air Force photo/Kenji Thuloweit)