THIS WEEK @NASA: Discussing Lunar Exploration Plans, Testing Resumes With SLS Rocket Engine

By  //  February 17, 2019

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Mars Opportunity Rover Mission Ends

ABOVE VIDEO: Working with industry to develop new lunar landers …Testing resumes with our Space Launch System rocket engine … And, after a job well done – the end of the line for one of our Mars rovers … a few of the stories to tell you about – This Week at NASA!

(NASA) – Working with industry to develop new lunar landers …Testing resumes with our Space Launch System rocket engine … And, after a job well done – the end of the line for one of our Mars rovers … a few of the stories to tell you about – This Week at NASA!

We hosted an industry forum at our headquarters in Washington, to talk to American companies about developing reusable lunar landers and supporting systems for future human missions to the Moon.

NASA Administrator, Jim Bridenstine: “And this is all part of the President’s Space Policy Directive-1, that we here at NASA are charged with moving out on.”

Space Policy Directive-1 calls for NASA to work with industry to study and refine the agency’s approach to landing on the Moon. A key aspect of this proposed approach is the use of our Gateway – an outpost in lunar orbit – to support journeys to and from the lunar surface.

NASA Associate Administrator-Human Exploration and Operations, Bill Gerstenmaier: “This is really sustainable — we’re going to need the best and brightest from you in industry, we’re going to need the best and brightest from the international partner community to pull all this off.”

New Space Launch System RS-25 Engine Testing Resumes

Our Stennis Space Center in Mississippi conducted this year’s first hot fire test of an RS-25 engine controller for use on a future flight of our new Space Launch System rocket, or SLS. The SLS will use four of the engines to launch astronauts aboard our Orion spacecraft on missions to the Moon.

NASA’s MAVEN Spacecraft Shrinking Mars Orbit to Prepare for Mars 2020 RoverRelated Story:
NASA’s MAVEN Spacecraft Shrinking Mars Orbit to Prepare for Mars 2020 Rover

Opportunity Rover’s Mission Complete

Our Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity’s mission is complete. Opportunity last communicated with Earth on June 10, 2018, during a global dust storm on Mars that blanketed the solar-powered rover’s location. Opportunity, which landed on Mars in January 2004, was supposed to operate for only 90 Martian days and travel just 1,100 yards. But it far surpassed those marks – traveling over 28 miles in its almost 15 years exploring the Red Planet.

NASA Associate Administrator for Science, Thomas Zurbuchen: “Everything we do and think about in our planetary neighborhood – with Mars and elsewhere – relates to the research that came from that.”

New Mission Selected to Explore Origins of Universe

We announced the selection of a new mission that will help astronomers understand both how our universe evolved and how common are the ingredients for life in our galaxy’s planetary systems. The Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization and Ices Explorer mission, or SPHEREx is a two-year mission targeted to launch in 2023, that will survey the sky in optical as well as near-infrared light to gather data on more than 300 million galaxies, as well as more than 100 million stars in our own Milky Way.

MAVEN Shrinking Its Mars Orbit to Prepare for Mars 2020 Rover

Our atmosphere-sniffing MAVEN spacecraft is lowering its orbit around Mars – a move that will enable it to act as a data-relay satellite for our Mars 2020 rover, which launches next year. The change in orbit will bring the spacecraft about a thousand miles closer to the surface of the planet. This will slightly increase the number of daily orbits – which will allow MAVEN to communicate more often with rovers on the Martian surface. When not conducting relay communications, MAVEN will continue to study the structure and composition of the upper atmosphere of Mars.
Van Allen Probes Begin Final Phase of Exploration

Our Van Allen Probes mission is in its final phase, after one of the twin probes began a series of maneuvers to bring its lowest point of orbit closer to Earth. Over the past six-and-a-half years, the probes have confirmed scientific theories and revealed new structures and processes at work in the harsh region of space known as the Van Allen radiation belts.

That’s what’s up this week @NASA …

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