NASA, SpaceX Launch DART: First Test Mission to Defend Planet Earth

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches with the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART, spacecraft onboard, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021, Pacific time (Nov. 24 Eastern time) from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. DART is the world’s first full-scale planetary defense test, demonstrating one method of asteroid deflection technology. The mission was built and is managed by Johns Hopkins APL for NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), the world’s first full-scale mission to test technology for defending Earth against potential asteroid or comet hazards, launched Wednesday at 1:21 a.m. EST on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 4 East at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

Just one part of NASA’s larger planetary defense strategy, DART – built and managed by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland – will impact a known asteroid that is not a threat to Earth. Its goal is to slightly change the asteroid’s motion in a way that can be accurately measured using ground-based telescopes.

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DART on Target – Six Questions with Mission Manager Clayton Kachele

DART mission (Credit: Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory)

Editor’s Note: DART is scheduled to launch from Vandenberg on Nov. 23 at 10:21 p.m. PST (Nov. 24 at 1:21 a.m. EST). NASA will stream the launch live on its website. 

By Wayne Smith
NASA Marshall Space Flight Center

It sounds like a plot for a movie but protecting Earth from a potential impact by a hazardous asteroid is the objective of an upcoming NASA mission.

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission is a planetary defense-driven test of technologies for mitigating such a threat. DART’s target asteroid is not a threat to Earth. The DART spacecraft launch window opens Nov. 24. It will launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

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Fission System to Power Exploration on the Moon’s Surface and Beyond

Artist’s concept of a fission power system on the lunar surface. (Credit: NASA)

CLEVELAND (NASA PR) — Exploration of the Moon and Mars requires the power of human imagination and vision. It also takes the power of electricity to bring science and technology to life when astronauts land and stay on the surface. 

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NASA TV to Air DART Prelaunch Activities, Launch

Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft at Didymos. (Credit: NASA)

VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA will provide coverage of the upcoming prelaunch and launch activities for the agency’s first planetary defense test mission, the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART). The mission will help determine if intentionally crashing a spacecraft into an asteroid is an effective way to change its course. DART’s target asteroid is not a threat to Earth.

DART is scheduled to launch no earlier than 1:20 a.m. EST Wednesday, Nov. 24 (10:20 p.m. PST Tuesday, Nov. 23) on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

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DART Arrives at Vandenberg Space Force Base, Its Final Stop Before Launch

Inside a cleanroom at Johns Hopkins APL, the DART spacecraft being moved into a specialized shipping container that headed across the country to Vandenberg Space Force Base near Lompoc, California, where DART is scheduled to launch from late next month. (Credits: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Ed Whitman)

VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. (NASA PR) — Just two days after leaving the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, in a specialized container carefully strapped to the deck of a semi-trailer truck, NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft arrived in California — its final stop here on Earth. 

The truck, spacecraft and a small motorcade of APL engineers and technicians pulled into Vandenberg Space Force Base near Lompoc, California, on Saturday, Oct. 2, in the early afternoon local time. 

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NASA Empowers Workforce to Advance Deep Space Technologies

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 10 proposals led by early-career employees across the agency for two-year projects that will support the development of new capabilities for deep space human exploration.

These proposals were selected under Project Polaris, a new initiative to support the NASA workforce in efforts to meet the challenges of sending humans to the Moon and Mars. Project Polaris seeks to fill high-priority capability gaps on deep space missions like those planned under Artemis and introduce new technologies into human exploration flight programs. The project also aims to create opportunities for early-career employees across NASA centers to gain experience building and testing flight hardware while developing technologies and reducing risk for future human exploration missions.

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Voyager Space Subsidiary, Altius Space Machines, Inc. Announces Support of Eta Space and NASA’s LOXSAT Cryogenic Fluid Management Mission

Voyager Logo

DENVER, Aug. 24, 2021 (Voyager Space PR) — Voyager Space (Voyager), a global leader in space exploration, today announced its subsidiary, Altius Space Machines, Inc. (Altius) was recently selected by Eta Space to provide a cryogenic coupler for liquid oxygen (LOX) transfer in support of its planned nine-month LOXSAT cryogenic fluid management mission.

Eta Space was selected by NASA to execute a flight demonstration of a complete cryogenic oxygen fluid management system. The system will fly as a dedicated payload on a Rocket Lab Electron launch vehicle and will collect critical cryogenic storage and transfer data in orbit for nine months. Eta Space will collaborate with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

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Mission Critical AEPS Thruster Completes Development Testing for NASA’s Lunar Gateway

Advanced Electric Propulsion System (AEPS) thruster recently completed development testing. (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)

August 9, 2021 (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) – Aerojet Rocketdyne’s Advanced Electric Propulsion System (AEPS) thruster that will be employed on the Power and Propulsion Element (PPE) for NASA’s international lunar Gateway recently completed development testing. The next milestone for the program will be the PPE Preliminary Design Review in October. Three 12 kilowatt (kW) AEPS thrusters will serve as the primary source of propulsion on the PPE to enable orbit transfer and in-space maneuvering.

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NASA Awards $500K in First Phase of $5M Watts on the Moon Challenge

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — NASA has awarded $500,000 to seven winning teams in Phase 1 of the agency’s Watts on the Moon Challenge. The technology design competition challenged U.S. innovators, from garage tinkerers to university researchers a­nd startup entrepreneurs, to imagine a next-generation energy infrastructure on the Moon.

Sixty teams submitted original design concepts aimed at meeting future needs for robust and flexible technologies to power human and robotic outposts on the Moon. After evaluation by a judging panel, NASA announced the winners during a private awards ceremony May 20.

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Space Station Hardware Developers, Payload Support Teams Celebrate Two Decades of Success, Prepare for Third

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson conducts a science experiment in the Microgravity Science Glovebox during Expedition 51 in 2017. The glovebox is one of 15 space station science hardware facilities managed for the agency by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. (Credits: NASA)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — Ask International Space Station facility engineers and payload operations teams at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, what makes them proudest as they look back on two decades of developing and testing science hardware and providing real-time support for experiments on orbit. Many will instinctively glance upward, as if the source of that pride might be passing overhead at that moment, 250 miles up.

Just as often though, they look to one another.

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Returning a Sample From Titan Using In-Situ Propellants

Visualization of sample return launch from Titan. (Credits: Steven Oleson)

NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Phase I Award
Funding: up to $125,000
Study Period: 9 months

A Titan Sample Return Using In-Situ Propellants
Steven Oleson
NASA Glenn Research Center
Cleveland, Ohio

A Titan Sample Return Using In-Situ Propellants is a proposed Titan sample return mission using in-situ volatile propellants available on its surface. This approach for Titan is very different from all conventional in-situ resource utilization concepts, and will accomplish a return of great science value toward planetary science, astrobiology, and understanding the origin of life, that is an order of magnitude more difficult (in distance and ∆V) than other sample return missions.

2021 Phase I Selections

About NIAC

The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program nurtures visionary ideas that could transform future NASA missions with the creation of breakthroughs — radically better or entirely new aerospace concepts — while engaging America’s innovators and entrepreneurs as partners in the journey.

The program seeks innovations from diverse and non-traditional sources and NIAC projects study innovative, technically credible, advanced concepts that could one day “change the possible” in aerospace. If you’re interested in submitting a proposal to NIAC, please see our “Apply to NIAC” link (https://www.nasa.gov/content/apply-to-niac) for information about the status of our current NASA Research Announcement (NRA). For descriptions of current NIAC projects, please refer to our ”NIAC Studies” link (https://www.nasa.gov/directorates/spacetech/niac/NIAC_funded_studies.html).

To find out more, see nasa.gov/niac or contact us at hq-niac@mail.nasa.gov.

University Students Test NASA Tech in Microgravity

University of Florida students test new technologies during a zero gravity microgravity flight. (Credit: Zero Gravity Corporation)

CLEVELAND (NASA PR) — NASA teamed up with a group of researchers from Dr. Jacob Chung’s lab at the University of Florida in Gainesville and the Aerospace Corporation based in El Segundo, California, to test two technologies to reduce the amount of cryogenic propellant consumed during future space missions. Instead of working in a typical lab, a plane following a parabolic flight path briefly suspended the technologies and researchers in microgravity.

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NASA Armstrong Collaborates with Rocket Lab, Sensuron to Mature Fiber Optic Technology

EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — A system originally developed to collect distributed strain and temperature measurements on aircraft has been enhanced to support future NASA space missions. Two companies were selected by NASA through the 2020 Announcement of Collaboration Opportunity to further develop and commercialize the technology. 

The Fiber Optic Sensing System (FOSS) developed at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, uses sensors that are the size of a human hair to monitor vehicle structural and thermal response. Much of the technology effort to advance FOSS for use on airplanes and rockets was funded by the Space Technology Mission Directorate’s Center Innovation Fund.

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