First Review of Orion Systems Completed by NASA

NASA this week completed its first review of all systems for the Orion spacecraft and the Ares I and Ares V rockets. The review brings the agency a step closer to launching its next human space vehicle.

NASA said the review results for its Constellation Program provide the foundation for design, development, construction and operation of the rockets and spacecraft necessary to take explorers to Earth orbit, the moon, and eventually to Mars.

‘We have established the foundation for a safe and strong transportation system and infrastructure. It is a historic first step,’ said Constellation Program manager Jeff Hanley of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.… Read the rest

Rocket Tested on Nov. 16

NASA’s Space Shuttle Program successfully fired a reusable solid rocket motor Thursday, Nov. 16, at a Utah facility. The two-minute test provided important information for nighttime shuttle launches and for the development of the rocket that will carry the next human spacecraft to the moon. The static firing of the full-scale, full-duration flight support motor was performed at 6 p.m. MST at ATK Launch Systems Group, a unit of Alliant Techsystems Inc. in Promontory, Utah, where the shuttle’s solid rocket motors are manufactured.

The flight support motor, or FSM-13, burned for approximately 123 seconds, the same time each reusable solid rocket motor burns during an actual space shuttle launch.… Read the rest

Orion to Visit Asteroid?

NASA is appraising a human mission to a near-Earth asteroid — gauging the scientific merit of the endeavor while testing out spacecraft gear, as well as mastering techniques that could prove useful if a space rock ever took aim at our planet.

Astronauts, engineers and scientists at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston have been looking into the capabilities of the Orion vehicle for the mission to a near-Earth asteroid. Full StoryRead the rest

Ares 1 Design Problems

Sources inside the development of the Ares 1 launch vehicle (aka Crew Launch Vehicle or “The Stick”) have reported that the current design is underpowered to the tune of a metric ton or more. As currently designed, Ares 1 would not be able to put the present Orion spacecraft design (Crew Exploration Vehicle) into the orbit NASA desires for missions to the ISS. This issue is more pronounced for CEV missions to the moon.The Ares 1 SRR (System Requirements Review) was held last week at MSFC. Mike Griffin was in attendance. Others participated off-site via webex.com.

It is widely known that both Mike Griffin and Scott Horowitz are reluctant (to say the least) about abandoning their current launch vehicle concept.Read the rest

The New Space Race

Florida, the nation’s premier launch site since the 1960s thanks to NASA’s largesse, is in danger of being eclipsed in a fast-changing space race.

In less than four years when the space shuttle program ends, one-third of the 15,000 space-related jobs on Florida’s Space Coast will be eliminated.

Meanwhile, a growing number of billionaire businessmen are proving that space is not just NASA anymore. These entrepreneurs, used to thinking big while profiting bigger, are into everything from commercial satellite launches to space tourism. And, instead of heading to Florida, they’re taking their fledgling businesses to places as far-flung as an atoll in the Pacific Ocean and Star City, Russia.… Read the rest

Rollercoaster to be Used for Ares 1 Escape

NASA Constellation have approved the Rollercoaster Escape System to be used as the Emergency Egress Systems (EES) for astronauts and pad crew to race away from the Ares I pad, should an emergency be called.The Rollercoaster system led the September trade study as the preferred option, and will now be offered as a contract to potential vendors.… Read the rest

Irvin Aerospace to Design Orion Parachutes

Irvin Aerospace, the world’s first parachute engineering, design and manufacturing company founded in 1919, was selected by Jacobs Sverdrup for NASA to develop parachutes for NASA’s Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV). Following the space shuttles retirement in 2010, NASA plans to replace the aging shuttle fleet with a number of reusable Orion spacecraft. Orion is expected to carry crew members to the International Space Station, the Moon and beyond.

Working with an integrated product team (IPT) that includes NASA, Jacobs Sverdrup, and engineers from Irvin Aerospace, the design team will develop a CEV Parachute Assembly System (CPAS) which is scheduled to begin testing in approximately 6 months.… Read the rest