Artemis I Carries the Future of NASA with It

The Space Launch System rocket fairing with ESA and NASA logos on the launchpad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA. The new ESA logo and NASA’s ‘worm’ logo will be along for the ride on the first full mission of the powerful Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Of the six launches known to be scheduled to close out August, there’s only one – Artemis I — that truly matters in any real sense. The others will be duly recorded but little remembered in what could be the busiest launch year in human history.

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The Upcoming Week in Launches: Artemis I and Some Other Ones

Artemis I rocket rolls out to the launch pad for a wet dress rehearsal on June 6, 2022. (Credit: NASA)

The Wikipedia orbital launch page lists six launches to close out August. The big one, of course, is NASA’s Artemis I mission next Monday. The others, not so momentous but still worth listing.

Disclaimer: This schedule is subject to change without notice. Parabolic Arc takes no responsibility for delays, changes, additions or what have you. And, as always, no wagering.

Tuesday, August 23

Launch Vehicle: Long March 11
Launch Site: Xichang Satellite Launch Center
Launch Company: China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC)
Payload: TBA

Wednesday, August 24

Launch Vehicle: Long March 2D 
Launch Site: Taiyuan Xichang Satellite Launch Center
Launch Company: CASC
Payload: TBA

Saturday, August 27

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Launch Site: Vandenberg Space Force Base
Launch Company: SpaceX
Payloads: 46 Starlink broadband satellites
Webcast: www.spacex.com

Sunday, August 28

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Space Force Station
Launch Company: SpaceX
Payloads: 53 Starlink broadband satellites
Webcast: www.spacex.com

Monday, August 29

Launch Vehicle: Space Launch System Block 1
Launch Site: Kennedy LC-39B
Launch Window: 8:33-10:33 a.m. EDT (12:33-14:33 UTC)
Launching Agency: NASA
Payloads: Orion spacecraft and 10 secondary payloads
Webcast: www.nasa.gov

Artemis I Secondary Payloads

SatelliteOrganizationOrbitPurpose
ArgoMoonItalian Space AgencyHeliocentricSpacecraft will demonstrate capacity of CubeSats to conduct precise maneuvers in deep space by providing detailed images of the SLS’s Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage 
BioSentinelNASAHeliocentricSpacecraft will use budding yeast to detect, measure, and compare the impact of deep space radiation on DNA repair
CuSP NASAHeliocentricSpace weather measurements
EQUULEUSUniversity of TokyoEarth-moon L26U CubeSat will measure the distribution of plasma around Earth
LunaH-MapNASASelenocentricLunar polar orbiter will search for evidence of frozen water deposits
Lunar IceCubeNASASelenocentricLunar orbiter will search for frozen water deposits
LunIRLockheed Martin SpaceHeliocentricDemonstration technology to collect surface spectroscopy and thermography
Near-Earth Asteroid ScoutNASAHeliocentricTechnology demonstration of solar sail to rendezvous with asteroid
OMOTENASHIJapan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)SelenocentricSmallest vehicle to attempt lunar lander
Team MilesFluid and Reason, LLCHeliocentricTechnology demonstration of plasma thrusters

Late August       

Launch Vehicle: Kuaizhou 1A
Launch Site: Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center
Launch Company: ExPace
Payloads: Centispace-1 S3 and Centispace-1 S4 navigation satellites

NASA’s Moon-observing CubeSat Ready for Artemis Launch

Illustration of NASA’s Lunar IceCube mission investigating lunar ice. (Credit: Morehead State University)

By Katherine Schauer and Danny Baird
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA’s water-scouting CubeSat is now poised to hitch a ride to lunar orbit. Not much bigger than a shoe box, Lunar IceCube’s data will have an outsized impact on lunar science.

The satellite is integrated into the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and ready to journey to the Moon as part of the uncrewed Artemis I mission, launching this year.

Orbiting the Moon, Lunar IceCube will use a spectrometer to investigate lunar ice. Earlier missions revealed water ice on the Moon, but Lunar IceCube will further NASA’s knowledge about lunar ice dynamics.

Scientists are interested in the absorption and release of water from the regolith — the Moon’s rocky and dusty surface. With Lunar IceCube investigating this process, NASA can map these changes as they occur on the Moon.

Lunar IceCube will also study the exosphere — the very thin atmosphere-like volume surrounding the Moon. By understanding the dynamics of water and other substances on the Moon, scientists will be able to predict seasonal changes for lunar ice that could impact its use as a resource in the future.

This will all be achieved from an efficient and cost-effective CubeSat that only weighs 31 pounds. Lunar IceCube is one of several CubeSats catching a ride to the Moon aboard Artemis I. These small satellites, along with future Artemis missions, will increase our knowledge for living and working on the Moon and eventually Mars.


Lunar IceCube is funded by NASA’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships program, or NextSTEP, in support of NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems Division within the Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate. The Lunar IceCube mission is led by Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky; NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland; NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California; NASA’s Katherine Johnson Independent Verification and Validation Facility in Fairmont, West Virginia; and Busek Space Propulsion and Systems in Natick, Massachusetts.

Lunar IceCube Passes Critical Testing at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Lunar IceCube CubeSat hardware (Credit: NASA)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — The Lunar IceCube CubeSat successfully passed essential environmental testing at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The spacecraft, pictured above, will fly aboard the upcoming Artemis I mission to the Moon as a secondary payload to investigate the amount and distribution of water ice on the Moon.

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Lunar IceCube Mission to Locate, Study Resources Needed for Sustained Presence on Moon

llustration of Lunar IceCube in orbit. (Credits: Morehead State University)

By Katherine Schauer
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Greenbelt, Md. — As we venture forward to the Moon and establish a sustained lunar presence, finding and understanding water on the lunar surface becomes increasingly important. Lunar water is largely in the form of, but not necessarily limited to, water ice. Astronauts on the Moon could use this ice for various crew needs, potentially including rocket fuel.

The Lunar IceCube mission, led by Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, will study water distribution and interaction on the Moon. The mission will carry a NASA instrument called Broadband InfraRed Compact High-Resolution Exploration Spectrometer (BIRCHES) to investigate the distribution of water and other organic volatiles. NASA scientists will use this data to understand where the water is on the Moon, its origins and how we can use it.

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NASA Outlines New Lunar Science, Human Exploration Missions

Image Credit: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — NASA is focused on an ambitious plan to advance the nation’s space program by increasing science activities near and on the Moon and ultimately returning humans to the surface.

As part of the President’s fiscal year 2019 budget proposal, NASA is planning a new Moon-focused exploration campaign that starts with a series of progressive commercial robotic missions.

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A Look at NASA’s Plans to Explore the Moon

Image Credit: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University

Statement of Jason Crusan
Director, Advanced Exploration Systems Division
Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate
National Aeronautics and Space Administration

before the

Subcommittee on Space
Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
U. S. House of Representatives

SELECTED EXCERPTS

Lunar CATALYST: Promoting Private Sector Robotic Exploration of the Moon

As part of the Agency’s overall strategy to conduct deep space exploration, NASA is also supporting the development of commercial lunar exploration. In 2014, NASA introduced an initiative called Lunar Cargo Transportation and Landing by Soft Touchdown (CATALYST). The purpose of the initiative is to encourage the development of U.S. private-sector robotic lunar landers capable of successfully delivering payloads to the lunar surface using U.S. commercial launch capabilities.

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Lunar IceCube Wins Slot on Exploration Mission-1

Goddard scientists Avi Mandell and Dennis Reuter are developing the BIRCHES instrument for the new Lunar IceCube mission. (Credit: NASA)
Goddard scientists Avi Mandell and Dennis Reuter are developing the BIRCHES instrument for the new Lunar IceCube mission. (Credit: NASA)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Lunar IceCube has won a coveted slot as one of 12 diminutive secondary payloads to deploy during the first planned flight in 2018 of NASA’s next-generation Space Launch System (SLS) and the second for its Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle — an event that scientists say will signal a paradigm shift in interplanetary science.

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