THIS WEEK @NASA: Teams Add Orion’s Critical Launch Abort System for Artemis I, Astronaut Doug Hurley Retires

By  //  July 17, 2021

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ABOVE VIDEO: Installing a critical system for our Orion spacecraft, the latest engine test for our Artemis Moon missions, and working to give spacecraft propulsion a boost … a few of the stories to tell you about – This Week at NASA!

Teams Adding Orion’s Critical Launch Abort System for Artemis I

Teams at our Kennedy Space Center moved the Orion spacecraft for our uncrewed Artemis I mission to the spaceport’s Launch Abort System Facility, to add parts of the launch abort system onto the spacecraft.

This critical system is designed to safely jettison the crew away from the Space Launch System or (SLS) rocket in an emergency during launch.

RS-25 Rocket Engine Test Series Continues

On July 14 we conducted an RS-25 engine hot fire test at our Stennis Space Center, the fifth test in a seven-part series. Four RS-25s will help power the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket on future Moon missions, including Artemis I targeted for later this year.

Learn more about the current RS-25 engine test series at nasa.gov/SLS.

NASA Announces Nuclear Thermal Propulsion Reactor Concept Awards

NASA has teamed with the Department of Energy (DOE) to advance space nuclear technologies – selecting reactor design concept proposals from three companies for a nuclear thermal propulsion system.

Nuclear propulsion is more efficient than chemical rockets, and could potentially enable faster and more robust crew and cargo missions to Mars and science missions to the outer solar system.

Trailblazing Astronaut Doug Hurley Retires From NASA

Astronaut and former U.S. Marine Col. Doug Hurley retired from NASA after 21 years of service. His career highlights include 93 days in space and flights aboard the final space shuttle mission in July 2011, and most recently, as commander on the first crewed flight of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft.

That mission marked a new era of human spaceflight, enabling crewed launches from America on commercial spacecraft to the International Space Station.

NASA Retires a Research Workhorse

On July 13, the last S-3B Viking aircraft flying today anywhere in the world left our Glenn Research Center. The aircraft has been a research workhorse for over 16 years, flying a variety of missions, including flights to help define communications standards that could enable future unmanned aircraft systems to safely operate in the U.S. airspace. The S-3B Viking will spend its retirement on exhibit at the San Diego Air and Space Museum.

Lucy Mission’s Message to the Future

When our Lucy spacecraft launches on a first-of-its-kind-mission to visit the Trojan asteroids which share an orbit with Jupiter, it will carry a time capsule in the form of a plaque with messages of advice, wisdom, joy, and inspiration for those who might encounter the spacecraft in the distant future. The messages were solicited from thoughtful leaders and inspirational figures, including members of the Beatles, whose song, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” indirectly inspired the mission’s name.

“(Cymbal crash) A little noisy, but I’m so excited. Lucy is going back in the sky with diamonds. If you meet anyone up there Lucy, give them peace and love from me.”—Ringo Starr, The Beatles

After Lucy finishes visiting a record number of asteroids for a single mission in 2033, it will continue on a stable orbit—travelling between Earth and the Trojan asteroids for hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of years. Learn more at nasa.gov/lucy.

That’s what’s up this week @NASA