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NASA Awards Contract for Constellation Spacesuit for the Moon

NASA moon spacesuit concept. Credits: NASA

[NASA Press Release - 27.02.2009]
NASA has awarded an interim letter contract to Oceaneering International Inc. of Houston to begin work on the design, development and production of a new spacesuit system for the Constellation Program. The system will protect astronauts during voyages to the International Space Station and exploration of the moon's surface.

The letter contract requires Oceaneering International to begin work on the basic period of performance while NASA and the company negotiate the contract's final terms. The current award amount for the performance of the letter contract is limited to $9.6 million. It will become effective March 2 and be in effect until the full contract is defined, no later than Aug. 29, 2009.

NASA Mission To Seek Water Ice On Moon Heads To Florida For Launch

LCROSS heading towards the Moon. Credits: NASA

[NASA Press Release - 17.02.2009]
NASA's Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, known as LCROSS, is enroute from Northrop Grumman's facility in Redondo Beach, Calif., to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida in preparation for a spring launch.

The satellite's primary mission is to search for water ice on the moon in a permanently shadowed crater near one of the lunar poles. LCROSS is a low-cost, accelerated-development, companion mission to NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO. At Kennedy, the two spacecraft will be integrated with an Atlas V launch vehicle and tested for final flight worthiness. LCROSS and LRO are the first missions in NASA's plan to return humans to the moon and begin establishing a lunar outpost by 2020.

NASA Lunar Spacecraft Ships South In Preparation For Launch

LRO in orbit around the Moon. Credits: NASA

[NASA Press Release - 11.02.2009]
NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, spacecraft was loaded on a truck Wednesday to begin its two-day journey to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Launch is targeted for April 24.

The spacecraft was built by engineers at Goddard, where it recently completed two months of tests in a thermal vacuum chamber. During its time in the chamber, the spacecraft was subjected to hot and cold temperatures it will experience as it orbits the moon.

New Kaguya video available

Kaguya HD footage of the Moon. Credits: JAXA/NHK

A new video of Mare Moscoviense taken by Kaguya has recently been released at http://wms.selene.jaxa.jp/selene_viewer/jpn/observation_mission/tc/tc_030.html. The website has been renewed, and the video is now available for download.

NASA Selects Teams for Moon Impact Observation Campaig

LCROSS heading towards the Moon. Credits: NASA

[NASA Press Release - 02.02.2009]
NASA has selected four teams to observe the impact of the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, known as LCROSS, with the lunar surface during the mission's search for water ice on the moon.

The LCROSS mission is a small companion mission to the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral, Fla., in spring 2009. Instruments aboard the satellite are designed to search for evidence of water ice on the moon as the spacecraft collides with a permanently shadowed crater near one of the moon's poles. The resulting debris plumes are expected to be visible from Earth with telescopes 10-to-12 inches in diameter or larger.

NASA Seeks Concept Proposals for Future Moon Lander

Lunar lander touch-down. Credits: NASA

NASA Press Release - 28.01.2009]
On Wednesday, NASA issued a request for proposals for concept definition and requirements analysis support for the Altair lunar lander. Proposals are due to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston by 2 p.m. CST on Feb. 27.

NASA's Constellation Program will use Altair to land four astronauts on the moon following launch aboard an Ares V rocket and rendezvous in low Earth orbit with the Orion crew vehicle. The lunar lander will provide the astronauts with life support and a base for weeklong initial surface exploration missions of the moon. Altair also will return the crew to the Orion spacecraft that will return them home to Earth.

NASA Invites Media to View Lunar Rover Driven at Inaugural Parade

NASA's Lunar Electric Rover. Credits: NASA

[NASA Press Release - 15.01.2009]
Reporters are invited to attend a briefing about the NASA Lunar Electric Rover concept vehicle that will be driven down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington as part of the presidential inaugural parade on Jan. 20. The rover is part of a new generation of prototype vehicles that NASA is evaluating for use when astronauts return to the moon in 2020.

The briefing will be held in the NASA Headquarters auditorium at 300 E Street, SW, on Wednesday, Jan. 21, at 1:30 p.m. EST. After the briefing, NASA officials will escort participants to the vehicle and demonstrate some of the rover's capabilities for reporters.

NASA Tests Engine Technology for Landing Astronauts on the Moon

The Common Extensible Cryogenic Engine (CECE). Credits: Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne

[NASA Press Release - 14.01.2009]
A technology development engine that may help NASA safely return astronauts to the lunar surface has successfully completed its third round of testing. The goal of these tests is to reduce risk and advance technology for a reliable and robust rocket engine that could enable America's next moon landing.

The tests by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne in West Palm Beach, Fla., helped gather data on this concept engine that might play a role in the next stage of human exploration of the moon. Most rockets make spacecraft travel faster. The goal of a lunar lander descent engine is to slow the vehicle so astronauts can land safely.

CU-Boulder Selected for Two Lunar Research Grants Totaling $11 Million

Artist impression of a moon telescope. Credits: NASA

[CU-Boulder Press Release - 09.01.2009
The University of Colorado at Boulder was awarded two grants totaling $11 million today from NASA's Lunar Science Institute to probe the cosmos from observatories on the moon and to conduct science and safety investigations on the dusty lunar surface and its atmosphere.

The two CU-Boulder grants from the Lunar Science Institute, which was created by NASA in March 2008, are expected to further the space agency's research agenda regarding future moon missions, a key part of NASA's space exploration goals. A total of seven grants were made nationwide to interdisciplinary science teams by the institute, which is managed by the NASA Ames Research Center in California.

NASA Selects CU-Boulder to Build $6 Million Lunar Dust Detector to Orbit Moon in 2012

LADEE model. Credits: NASA

[CU-Boulder Press Release - 09.01.2009]
The University of Colorado at Boulder has been awarded a $6 million grant from NASA to build a high-tech lunar dust detector for a 2011 mission to orbit the moon and conduct science investigations of the dusty lunar surface and its atmosphere.

Known as the Lunar Dust Experiment, or LDEX, the instrument will be designed and built at CU-Boulder's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. The instrument will fly on the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Experiment Explorer mission, or LADEE, an orbiting satellite that will assess the lunar atmosphere and the nature of dust lofted above the moon's surface.

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