Zero-G News
Volume 14; Issue 263 ~ Zero-G News (ISSN 2333-7257) ~ A Publication Of Ares Institute, Inc.
Breaking News
Successful Debut For Minotaur IV At Cape Canaveral
In a historic first, after waiting out inclement weather,...
Atlas V Successfully Orbits Final Next-Generation TDRS Spacecraft
Marking the end of an era, NASA’s Tracking and...
SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft Blasts Off On Second Mission To Resupply ISS
Major experiments that will look into the human body...
Rocket Lab Conducts Historic Test Flight Of Electron Launch Vehicle
Rocket Lab broke new ground today when its Electron...
Falcon 9 Successfully Deploys Its Heaviest Geosynchronous Comsat To Date
Demonstrating SpaceX”s ramped-up two missions per month launch rate,...
Startup Company Vector Space Systems’ Vector-R Rocket Makes Its First Test Flight
Vector, a micro satellite space launch company comprised of...
NASA Selects CubeSat, SmallSat Mission Concept Studies
NASA has selected 10 studies under the Planetary Science...
Delta IV Lights Up The Night To Deliver Advanced Military Communications Satellite
Blazing a fiery trail in the sky above Cape...
Falcon 9 Lofts Commercial Satellite On Second Launch From LC-39A
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket successfully orbited the EchoStar XXIII...
NASA Preps Cygnus For Third Flight On Atlas
Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft is being prepped for it...
Booster Issue Delays Delta IV / WGS-9 Launch
United Launch Alliance announced this evening that the launch...
Atlas V Wins NASA’s JPSS-2 Launch Contract
NASA’s Launch Services Program has selected United Launch Alliance’s...
Atlas V Lofts NROL-79 For The National Reconnaissance Office
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying a...
Goddard’s IceCube SmallSat Ready for Launch, Space Station Deployment
Less is more, and that’s not just a buzz...
SpaceX Surprises With Planned Human Lunar Mission Announcement
Elon Musk is not someone who could be described...
CubeSats: Shaping Possibilities in Space
For more than a decade, CubeSats, or small satellites, have...
Falcon 9 Soars On Historic Launch From KSC
Nearly five years after the final space shuttle mission...
NASA Announces Eighth Class of Candidates for Launch of CubeSat Space Missions
NASA has selected 34 small satellites from 19 states...
NASA And NanoRacks Parter On First Commercial ISS Airlock
The International Space Station allows NASA to conduct cutting-edge...
NASA Langley Ozone Sensor Set for Launch to Space Station
Brooke Thornton has devoted eight years to a project...
NASA Sounding Rocket Successfully Launches into Alaskan Night
An experiment to measure nitric oxide in the polar...
Kennedy Space Center’s NASA Day of Remembrance Honors Fallen Astronauts
On Jan. 26, 2017, Kennedy Space Center employees and...
Atlas Begins 2017 With Successful Launch Of Missile Warning Satellite
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket successfully launched...
Falcon 9 Returns To Flight To Orbit Next-Generation Iridium Spacecraft
Four and a half months after a devastating explosion...
NASA Awards Contract for Series of CubeSat Technology Missions
NASA’s Small Spacecraft Technology Program has selected Tyvak Nanosatellite...
SpaceX Falcon 9 / Iridium NEXT FAA Launch License
Comments What do you think?
NASA Orders Additional Commercial Crew Flights From Boeing, SpaceX
NASA took another big step to ensure reliable crew...
NASA Selects Mission to Study Black Holes, Cosmic X-ray Mysteries
NASA has selected a science mission that will allow...
SpaceX Pinpoints Cause Of Falcon 9 Explosion, Targets Launch Next Week
Four months after a massive fireball destroyed a Falcon...
Next-Generation Weather Satellite Successfully Launches On Atlas V
Perched atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket,...
Antares Returns To Flight Carrying Critical Supplies For ISS
Orbital ATK successfully launched its Antares rocket carrying a...
NASA Prepares The Next-Generation Of Weather Satellite For Launch
On September 27, NASA offered members of the media...
Falcon 9 Accident Traced To Upper Stage Helium System Breach
(Editor’s Note: This is an update provided to Zero-G...
Orbital ATK Sets Target Window For Antares Return-To-Flight
Orbital ATK is targeting no earlier than Oct. 9-13,...
United Launch Alliance Announces CubeSat STEM Education Program Winners
United Launch Alliance (ULA) has selected four proposals from...
KSC Visitor Complex Destination: Mars Experience Offers A Virtual Reality Tour Of Mars
A walk on Mars may be in the future...
Emergency management: A behind the scenes look on the Eastern Range
Last week, the 45th Space Wing’s Incident Management Team...
NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Begins Seven-Year Odyssey To Sample An Asteroid
Blazing a trail into the early evening sky, the...
Firing Up Rocket Engine Tests
A 100-pound liquid oxygen/liquid methane engine fires up after...
SpaceX Begins Test Fire Series On Landed Falcon 9 First Stage
Looking to re-launch one of their succeffully-landed Falcon 9...
NASA Orders Second Commercial Crew Dragon Mission From SpaceX
NASA took another important step Friday in returning U.S....
Atlas V Launches Classified Communications Relay Satellite For NRO
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying...
SpaceX Launches 9th Cargo Mission To ISS, Delivers Groundbreaking Science
Instruments to perform the first-ever DNA sequencing in space,...
Orbital ATK Conducts Final Qualification Test For Space Launch System Booster
A booster for the most powerful rocket in the...
Delta IV Blazes The Night Sky To Launch Clandestine Spy Satellite
Just five days after successfully orbiting the GPS IIF-12...
Final Block 2 GPS Satellite Launches On Atlas V
Continuing a record of perfect mission reliability, a United...
Falcon 9 Returns To Flight, Completes Historic First Earth Landing
Plummeting through the black sky above Cape Canaveral at...
SpaceX Targets December 19 Falcon 9 Return To Flight
Nearly six months after a space station resupply mission...
Cygnus Returns To Space Riding The Powerful Atlas Rocket
Space station cargo resupply missions from U.S. soil resumed...
Atlas V Successfully Launches Penultimate GPF IIF Series Spacecraft
Soaring through a crystal-clear autumn afternoon, a United Launch...
United Launch Alliance Marks 100th Launch With Morelos-3 Success
United Launch Alliance successfully launched its 100th mission today...
Atlas Successfully Deploys Fourth Mobile Comsat For U.S. Navy
Putting on a spectacular pre-sunrise light show, a United...
NASA Awards Grants For Transformative Space Technologies
NASA has selected eight university-led proposals to study innovative,...
Space Launch System RS-25 Main Engine Completes Key Full-Duration Test
Aerojet Rocketdyne has successfully completed a full duration (535...
Orbital ATK Updates Progress On ISS Cargo Delivery Program
Orbital ATK is on track to launch its next...
Orion Spacecraft Begins Critical Design Review Milestone
NASA’s Orion Program kicked off its critical design review...
NASA’s Space Launch System Passes Critical Design Review Milestone
You know the feeling of pride and achievement when...
Delta IV Launches High Capacity Digital WGS-7 Military Comsat
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket successfully...
Kennedy Space Center Opens New Small Vehicle Launch Complex
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida took another step...
Atlas Delivers Again With Newest Air Force GPS Satellite
The newest member of the the Air Force’s worldwide...
NASA Names First Four Commercial Crew Program Astronauts
As Boeing and SpaceX continue working toward the goal...
Video Feature: SpaceX Falcon 9 CRS-7 Launch In Slow Motion
During this month’s launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9...
SpaceX Delays Crucial Test, Moves Crew Dragon Abort Test To KSC
Following the successful pad abort test in May, SpaceX...
First Falcon 9 Loss Leaves SpaceX Reeling, Challenges ISS Resupply Lines
Sunday’s loss of the 19th Falcon 9 rocket on...
NASA Launches Suborbital Rocket From Wallops With Student Experiments
NASA successfully launched a NASA Terrier-Improved Orion suborbital sounding...
NASA Hosts Rocket Week at Wallops Flight Facility
Students and educators from across the country will have...
Atlas V Launches Secret X-37B Spaceplane And Novel Solar Sail Experiment
With help from NASA, a small research satellite to...
SpaceX Successfully Completes Crew Dragon PAd Abort Test
A loud whoosh, faint smoke trail and billowing parachutes...
Five Things To Know About Dragon’s Pad Abort Test
Crew Dragon’s first critical flight test, known as a...
Blue Origin Conducts First Test Flight Of New Shepard Suborbital Rocket
Secretive space startup Blue Origin achieved a significant milestone...
NASA Launches RockSat-X Sounding Rocket With University Payloads
A NASA Terrier-Improved Malemute suborbital sounding rocket carrying the...
Falcon 9 Blasts Off With Cargo Supporting NASA’s One-Year Mission
Two tons of supplies and research cargo are headed...
Blue Origin Completes Acceptance Testing of New Shepard BE-3 Engine
Blue Origin recently completed acceptance testing of its BE‑3...
NASA’s Space Launch System to Boost Science with Secondary Payloads
When NASA’s new Space Launch System (SLS) launches on...
American And Russian Begin Yearlong Orbital Journey
ISS One-Year Mission Expedition 43 Soyuz TMA-16M Launch Coverage...
Delta IV Hits The Mark With Another Successful GPS Launch
Piercing a thick layer of clouds that hung low...
United Launch Alliance Lets The Public Name Its New Rocket
ULA is offering the public the opportunity to select...
SpaceX Clarifies Reason For TurkmenAlem52E Launch Delay
Over the weekend, SpaceX filled in some of the...
NASA Provides Space Access for University Developed Experiments during March 27 Flight
NASA will fly six university experiments developed by undergraduate...
Lockheed Martin Pitches Novel Concept For CRS-2 ISS Resupply
On May 10, 1869, Leland Stanford raised a hammer...
Aerojet Rocketdyne Gets Fired Up About 3D Printing
Additive Manufacturing, also known as 3d printing, has been...
ULA, SpaceX Go Head-To-Head At House Armed Services Cmte Hearing
United Launch Alliance (ULA) President and CEO Tory Bruno...
Technical Issues Prompt Falcon 9 Launch Delay For TurkmenAlem52E/MonacoSAT
Technical problems with the Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage...
Spectacular Launch Delivers MMS Probes To Study Magentic Reconnection
NASA’s first-of-its kind mission to study the violent interactions...
Paper: Launch Window Assessment For The MMS Mission
Comments What do you think?
Falcon Orbits Electric Satellites On Dual-Launch Milestone
Working to build a steady launch pace and shake...
Deep Space Falcon Launch Successfully Deploys NASA’s DSCOVR Climate Observatory
The second mission of 2015 for SpaceX’s Falcon 9...
NASA Selects Winning Student Designs Of 3-D Printed Tools For Astronauts
After three months of designing and modeling, a panel...
NASA’s New Horizons Returns First Photos Of Pluto, Charon As It Nears Encounter
NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft returned its first new images...
“Old Reliable” Delta II Orbits First Of A Kind Soil Moisture Mapping Spacecraft
Blazing a trail through a cloudy California morning, a...
Planetary Society Announces LightSail Spacecraft Test Flight
The Planetary Society today announced the first of its...
Photo Gallery: Atlas V-551 Launches The Navy’s MUOS-3 Satellite
Comments What do you think?
SpaceX And US Air Force Agree To Settle Lawsuit
Just days after entering judge-ordered mediation, SpaceX and the...
First Full-Scale SLS Booster Installed On Stand For March Static Test
NASA and ATK have completed installing the first Space...
NASA Completes Investigation of 2014 Sounding Rocket Failure
January 12, 2015 – An investigation team has determined...
Atlas V Successfully Launches Navy’s “Orbital Cell Tower”
Marking the 200th launch for the venerable Atlas-Centaur family...
Photo Feature: Five Rockets Are On The Pad In Alaska
January 20, 2015 – Five rockets are on the...
Five Sounding Rockets To Study Effect of Solar Wind On The Weather
January 13, 2015 – The interaction of solar winds...
RS-25 Main Engine Testing Resumes At Stennis After Five-Year Hiatus
The new year is off to a hot start...
Falcon 9 Launches Fifth Contracted SpaceX ISS Mission; Booster Recovery Test Fails
A Falcon 9 rocket blasted into space early this...
Technical Glitches, Orbital Mechanics Push Falcon 9 CRS-5 Launch Into 2015
The next launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket...
Amid Testing Trouble, Firm Launch Date Expected Today For Falcon 9 CRS-5
We should learn today whether or not SpaceX will...
X Marks the Spot: Falcon 9 To Attempt Ocean Platform Landing
(Source: SpaceX) During our next flight, SpaceX will attempt...
Powerful Atlas Launches Clandestine Satellite From California
The largest Atlas rocket to fly from California blasted...
Atlas To The Rescue, Orbital Selects ULA To Launch Cygnus To ISS In 2015
As the company continues to recover from October’s spectacular...
NASA’s Orion Spacecraft Completes “Picture Perfect” First Test Flight
Reaching a pinnacle in its nine-year development program, NASA’s...
Inferno Over Wallops! A first-hand Photo And Video Account Of Antares Launch Failure
Read the story with a full page of launch...
NASA’s Morpheus Lander Readies New Round Of Test Flights
NASA’s Morpheus experimental rocket-powered vertical takeoff and landing testbed...
Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Crashes, One Pilot Reported Killed
We have received word that Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo failed...
Antares Explodes, ISS Cargo Lost In Launch Failure
Launch of the Cygnus spacecraft was supposed to be...
Atlas V Racks Up 50th Success With Launch of GPS IIF-8 For U.S. Air Force
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket successfully...
Hurricane Gonzalo Delays NASA’s Latest Cargo Run To ISS
Already delayed several times, the launch of an Orbital...
Photo Feature: Melbourne Air & Space Show
“We are thrilled by the turnout on Saturday for...
JPL Selects CubeSat Proposals for Europa Clipper Mission Study
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, has chosen...
Looking To The Future, Delta IV Rocket For Orion First Flight Reaches The Launch Pad
A United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket stands...
India, U.S. To Collaborate On Earth Obsevation, Mars Missions
In a meeting Tuesday in Toronto, NASA Administrator Charles...
Sierra Nevada Targets Air-Launch With Stratolaunch Partnership
Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) today announced a design for...
ATK Test Fires Igniter For Orion Launch Abort System Motor
NASA and ATK successfully completed a static test of...
Delta IV Processing Nearly Complete For Historic EFT-1 Mission
Engineers took another step forward in preparations for the...
Sierra Nevada Files Protest Challenging NASA Commercial Crew Awards To Boeing, SpaceX
(Editor’s Note: The following is a press release from...
Dragon Blasts Off With Science, Supplies On Fourth Space Station Cargo Run
Dodging persistent thunderstorms that have beseiged Florida most of...
NASA Opens Bidding For Second Round Of ISS Cargo Resupply Services
On the heels of awarding groundbreaking contracts to U.S....
United Launch Alliance and Blue Origin To Develop RD-180 Alternative
Facing pressure to find a domestic replacement for the...
SpaceX Breaks Ground For Texas Spaceport, With Just A Hint Of Politics
Gov. Rick Perry today helped break ground on the...
One More Leap, Boeing And SpaceX Win NASA’s Commercial Crew Contracts
U.S. astronauts once again will travel to and from...
NASA Rolls Out First Orion Spacecraft For December EFT-1 Test Flight
NASA is making steady progress on its Orion spacecraft,...
Falcon 9 Successfully Delivers AsiaSat 6 Comsat To Orbit
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket thundered into orbit during...
Acoustic Tests Help NASA Model SLS Launch Dynamics
Engineers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville,...
SLS Passes Milestone And Receives NASA Approval For Development
NASA officials Wednesday announced they have completed a rigorous...
SpaceX Falcon 9R Rocket Explodes During Texas Test Flight
SpaceX experienced a rare but disappointing failure today when...
Amazing Photo Captures Cygnus’ Flaming Re-Entry
ISS Expedition 40 crewmember Alexander Gerst captured this amazing...
Dramatic Video Shows Falcon First Stage Powered Descent After Launch
When SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket from...
On Its Way To A Fiery Re-Entry, Orbital’s Cygnus Departs ISS
Orbital Sciences Cygnus commercial cargo craft completed a month-long...
Atlas Rocket Orbits WorldView-3 Commercial Imaging Satellite
Continuing a very successful year for United Launch Alliance,...
ULA Names Tory Bruno President And CEO; Michael Gass Retires
United Launch Alliance named veteran aerospace industry executive Tory...
NASA Releases High-Definition Onboard Video From LDSD “Flying Saucer” Test
NASA’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) project successfully flew a...
NASA To Create First 3D-Printed Space Cameras
By the end of September, NASA aerospace engineer Jason...
Final European Automated Transfer Vehicle Blasts Off On Ariane 5 To Resupply ISS
The European Space Agency’s (ESA) fifth and final Automated...
Delta IV Dodges Weather To Launch GSSAT Spacecraft On Fifth Try
After nearly a week of frustrating technical and then...
Delta II Returns To Service To Launch NASA’s First Carbon Monitoring Spacecraft
Following a one-day delay to fix a balky water...
Success For NASA’s Experimental Supersonic “Flying Saucer”
NASA officials are calling today’s near-space test flight of...
2014 NASA Advanced Technology Phase I Concepts Selected For Study
NASA has selected 12 proposals for study under Phase...
Projects Selected For NASA’s 2015 X-Hab Academic Innovation Challenge
NASA and the National Space Grant Foundation have selected...
Orion Stacking Operations Begin For December EFT-1 Launch
With just six months until its first trip to...
Engine Failure Investigation Slips Next Cygnus ISS Resupply Mission Into July
Orbital Sciences Corporation announced that it has updated its...
NASA Video Highlights Orion, SLS Development Progress
This is NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate quarterly update...
NASA Uses Laser To Beam “Hello, World!” Video From ISS
NASA successfully beamed a high-definition video 260 miles from...
NASA’s Final Commercial Orbital Transportation Services Report Released
With two companies now providing commercial cargo launch services...
Orion Receives Heat Shield For Late 2014 EFT-1 Test Flight
Lockheed Martin technicians and engineers attach the heat shield...
Photo Feature: Meet The SpaceX Dragon V2 Spacecraft
SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk unveiled the Dragon...
NASA Readies Futuristic “Flying Saucer” For Flight Over Hawaii
UPDATE: Due to weather conditions, there will be no...
SpaceX Unveils Next-Generation Manned Dragon Spacecraft
With just a bit of Hollywood-esque flash, SpaceX unveiled...
Atlas V Successfully Deploys Classified NROL-33 Satellite
While the battle between SpaceX and United Launch Alliance...
Photo Feature: The Powerful Atlas Rocket Ready To Launch NROL-33
  Comments What do you think?
Delta IV Launches Sixth Upgraded GPS Satellite
America’s newest Global Positioning System satellite is now in...
Orbital And ATK Announce Merger Continuing Industry Consolidation
Orbital Sciences Corporation today announced that it has entered...
New Spacecraft Will Become First U.S. Space Lifeboat in 40 Years
The next generation of American spacecraft designed to carry...
NASA Partnerships Launch Multi-User Spaceport
Teamed with its industry partners, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center...
NASA Outlines Future Path To Human Mars Exploration
I will join 11 senior NASA officials in a...
Dragon Begins Third ISS Resupply Mission; First Stage Recovery Test Success
  A GoPro Captures Launch Of A SpaceX Falcon...
Atlas V Successfully Deploys Classified NROL-67 Satellite
. United Launch Alliance successfully launched the second mission...
Morpheus Completes First Test Of Hazard Avoidance System
The Morpheus team successfully completed Free Flight 10 (FF10)...
NASA’s LRO Mission and North America to Experience Total Lunar Eclipse
When people in North America look up at the...
Orion Avionics System Ready For Exploration Flight Test-1
Testing of the Orion spacecraft’s avionics system has concluded...
Space Launch System Core Stage Model ‘Sounds’ Off for Testing
A 5-percent scale model of the Space Launch System...
NASA Selects New Suborbital Technology Payloads
NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program has selected 13 space technology...
Air Force Weather Satellite Successfully Deployed On ULA’s 80th Launch
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket successfully...
Soyuz Blasts Off To Orbit Europe’s Sentinel-1A Earth Oservation Satellite
Continuing their track record for delivering both commercial and...
Air Force Releases Details Of Incident That Scrubbed Atlas And Falcon Launches
In the wake of serious outage on the U.S....
Orion Integration Makes Progress Toward Late-Year EFT-1 Mission
Orion is marching ever closer to its first trip...
Atlas 5 Rocket Launches To Successfully Deploy NASA’s Newest TDRS Satellite
A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket thundered into...
Dragon Passes Another Milestone With Sucessful Parachute Drop Test Over Pacific Ocean
Engineers and safety specialists from NASA and Space Exploration...
NASA’s Morpheus Lander Soars Over Kennedy Space Center As Tests Continue
NASA’s Morpheus lander testbed resumed testing following a break...
2013 NASA Safety Report Highlights Funding Uncertainty, Commercial Crew Progress
The Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP), an advisory committee...
NASA, Commercial Crew Partners Look To Make Strides In 2014
Several companies, working closely with NASA, ended 2013 with...
Space Launch System Could Enable Transformational Missions, Scientists Say
The human spaceflight community joined the space science community...
NASA Administrator Visits Michoud, Tours SLS Facilities
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden Monday visited the agency’s Michoud...
Florida Schools Send Experiments To ISS On Board Orbital’s Cygnus
When Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Cygnus cargo ship arrived at...
Cygnus Arrives At ISS With Supplies, Experiments
Astronauts aboard the International Space Station Sunday used a...
Virgin Galactic Reaches New Heights in Third Supersonic Test Flight‏
Virgin Galactic, the world’s first commercial spaceline, which is...
SpaceX Manifest Grows With JCSAT 14 Launch Contract
Fresh off its second successful launch of a commercial...
NASA, White House Discuss ISS Life Extension At International Space Exploration Forum
Speaking at a global space exploration forum Thursday, John...
NASA Powers Up SLS Avionics For The First Time
The modern avionics system that will guide NASA’s Space...
Antares Blasts Off With Cygnus On First Contracted ISS Resupply Mission
Marking the beginning of regular supply runs to the...
Antares Set For Chilly Launch To Space Station
1/8/14 7:00 am EST UPDATE: Early this morning the...
SpaceX Rings In The New Year With Launch Of Thai Satellite
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Cape...
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Poised For First Launch Of New Year
Looking to start 2014 with a roar, SpaceX is...
Photo Feature: NASA Readies TDRS-L Spacecraft For Late January Launch
NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS)-L was the...
Boeing Announces Expansion Of X-37B Operations At Kennedy Space Center
In what could be a boon for the aerospace...
SpaceX Delays Falcon 9 Launch Of Thaicom 6, Remains Confident Of January Liftoff
Bird-watchers on the beaches of Cape Canaveral will have...
NASA’s Resurrected Infrared Telescope Captures First Images, Prepares To Hunt Asteroids
NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE), a...
NASA’s Next Mars Lander Gets A Launch Vehicle
NASA has selected United Launch Services LLC of Centennial,...
Dreamchaser Completes NASA Commercial Crew Milestones
Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) today announced that the company...
Aerojet Rocketdyne Completes Launch Abort Engine Testing for Boeing CST-100 Spacecraft
Aerojet Rocketdyne announced today that it completed development testing...
Balky Station Cooling Pump Creates Delay, Uncertainty For Cygnus Resupply Mission
NASA and Orbital Sciences Corp. Saturday moved the targeted...
SpaceX Gains Advantage Over Blue Origin In Fight For Former Shuttle Launch Pad
Government Accountability Office denies Blue Origin’s protest over fairness...
Cygnus Joins Antares For Second Space Station Supply Run
On December 10, Orbital Sciences Corporation’s operations team mated...
NASA’s Juno Photographs Spectacular Views Of Earth And Moon During Flyby
When NASA’s Juno spacecraft flew past Earth on Oct....
NASA’s Morpheus Lander Returns To Flight At Kennedy Space Center
Rebuilt and better than ever, NASA’s Morpheus prototype lander...
Proton Notches Another Success With Launch Of Inmarsat-5 F1
An International Launch Services (ILS) Proton Breeze M successfully...
Atlas V Lofts Top-Secret Satellite, 12 CubeSats For NASA And Education
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying a...
SpaceX Reaches Milestone With Falcon 9 Launch Of Commercial Satellite
Making its commercial debut, an upgraded Falcon 9 rocket...
Blue Origin Test-Fires New BE-3 Rocket Engine
NASA commercial crew partner Blue Origin of Kent, Wash.,...
China Successfully Launches First Lunar Lander Chang’e 3
A Long March 3B rocket blasted off from the...
SpaceX Targets Thanksgiving For Inaugural Falcon 9 GTO Mission
SpaceX is hoping for a special Thanksgiving after the...
NASA’s MAVEN Rockets To Explore Mysteries Of Mars Atmosphere
 With a thunderous roar, NASA’s Mars Atmoshere and Volatile...
Today In History, November 10, 1964 – KSC Mercury Monument Dedication
The Mercury Monument stands outside of Complex 14 was...
Dream Chaser And Role Of The Media On Public Perception Of Failure
Last week, Sierra Nevada conducted the first free-flight test...
Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser Suffers Setback During First Free Flight Test
Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) suffered an apparent setback of...
Proton Rocket Successfully Launches FM-6 Satellite For Sirius XM Radio
International Launch Services (ILS), a leader in providing mission...
This LADEE Wasn’t Just Eating Bon Bon’s During The Government Shutdown
During the NASA shutdown, the LADEE mission continued to...
Proton Set To Launch Comsat For Sirius XM After 24-Hour Delay
The launch of a Proton launch vehicle with the...
Dramatic Video Captures Grasshopper’s Highest Jump To Date
On Monday, October 7th, Grasshopper completed its highest leap...
The View From Here: Curiosity Looks Back At Home
The HiRISE instrument would make a great backyard telescope...
SpaceX Releases New Photos And Video Of Next-Gen Falcon 9 Demo
SpaceX released stunning new photos and video from the...
MAVEN Granted Reprieve, Preparations Resume For November Launch
The cloud of pessimism over NASA because of funding...
Second-Generation Falcon Takes Flight To Test New Engines, Recoverability
Equipped with upgraded engines, computer systems and greatly improved...
Curiosity Fails To Find Methane And Adds To The Mystery Of Life On Mars
Data from NASA’s Curiosity rover has revealed the Martian...
Historic Comet Hunting Mission Ends As Deep Impact Falls Silent
After almost 9 years in space that included an...
Orbital’s Antares Blasts Off On First Cygnus Mission To ISS
Marking a giant stride forward in NASA’s plans to...
On Its 40th Mission, Atlas Deploys Third Advanced Extremely High Frequency Satellite
Dodging rain and high winds, an Atlas V rocket...
Moon Express’ Guidance Software Flies NASA’s Mighty Eagle On A Successful Test
The Mighty Eagle, a NASA robotic prototype lander managed...
To Boldly Go… Voyager 1 Reaches For The Stars
There was a time over a generation ago when...
NASA’s Lunar Dust Explorer Blasts Off From Virginia Spaceport
UPDATE: NASA has confirmed that the reaction wheels of...
Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Conducts Second Powered Test Flight
Suborbital passenger spaceflight pioneer Virgin Galactic passed another major...
NASA Narrows List Of Potential Sites For Next Mars Lander
NASA has narrowed to four the number of potential...
STS-3 Space Shuttle Columbia Photo And Video Collection
Former NASA astronaut Gordon Fullerton passed away this week....
It’s Been 20 Years Since The First Flight Of DC-X
It’s been 20 years since the remarkable DC-X Delta...
NASA Prepares LADEE for First Virginia Coast Launch to Moon
In an attempt to answer prevailing questions about our...
Sierra Nevada Makes Second Successful Dream Chaser Captive-Carry Test Flight
NASA partner Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) of Louisville, Colo.,...
NASA Releases New Graphic and Video Depictions of Asteroid Mission
NASA released Thursday new photos and video animations depicting...
NASA Astronaut Candidate Class Of 2013 Introduced To The Public
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on Tuesday formally welcomed the...
NASA Wallops Launch Facility To Host A Moon Mission Celebration August 21
The upcoming moon mission at the NASA Wallops Flight...
NASA Seeks Users For Shuttle Era Launch Structures
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida is seeking concepts...
NASA Selects Technology Demonstration Projects for Suborbital Research Flights
NASA has selected for possible flight demonstration 10 proposals...
NASA Commercial Crew Partner SpaceX Completes Orbit and Entry Review
NASA Commercial Crew Program (CCP) partner Space Exploration Technologies...
NASA Adds Milestones To Commercial Crew Initiative, Funds SpaceX, Sierra Nevada
NASA announced Thursday it is adding some additional milestones...
NASA Launches Suborbital RockSat-X Mission With Student Payloads
A Terrier-Improved Malemute suborbital rocket carrying experiments developed by...
Delta IV Rocket Successfully Launches Sixth Wideband Global Satcom Military Satellite
Blazing through the evening skies over Florida, a United...
Japanese Resupply Craft HTV-4 Is Captured And Berthed To ISS
The fourth Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency H-II Transfer Vehicle,...
Progress 52 Resupply Ship Docks With ISS
The ISS Progress 52 resupply ship docked with the...
ULA Completes Five Major Milestones In Just Eight Days, Including One Launch
During the last eight days, the United Launch Alliance...
One Special Day in the Life of Planet Earth Shining Brightly In The Black Void
Color and black-and-white images of Earth taken by two...
Atlas V 551 Launches Its Heaviest Payload Yet, MUOS-2 For The U.S. Navy
Rattling windows as it pierced cloudy skies above Cape...
Photo/Video Feature: 38 Years Ago, The Mission Of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project
The first international partnership in space wasn’t the International...
Eastern Range (ER) and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) Spaceport Concept
Introduction:  This concept explores the Eastern Range (ER) and...
Stephen Hawking – “Why Go To Space?” – NASA 50th Anniversary Lecture
MODERATOR: Good afternoon. Welcome to the  campus of George...
Watch Out NASA, The Next Mission To The Moon Might Not Be Yours
In 1959, the author Martin Caidin (“Marooned”) wrote, “The...
Space Shuttle Atlantis Grand Opening
NASA’s retired space shuttle Atlantis, the last orbiter to...
NASA Announces New Grand Challenge Aimed At Finding Asteroids
WASHINGTON, DC – NASA announced Tuesday a Grand Challenge...
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NASA’s MAVEN Rockets To Explore Mysteries Of Mars Atmosphere

 With a thunderous roar, NASA’s Mars Atmoshere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft rocketed into space today on time at 1:28 p.m. EST and the opening of a 20-day launch period. Nestled atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V-401 rocket, MAVEN lifted off from from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral AFS and quickly sliced through partly cloudy skies, thrilling crowds gathered along the causeways and beaches to watch NASA’s newest emissary to the Red Planet break the bonds of Earth’s gravity. Less than an hour later, MAVEN was cast free from the Atlas upper stage to begin a nearly year-long cruise to Mars and an ambitious mission to understand the history of the Martian atmosphere, present-day processes and add another piece to the question, Where did Mars water go?

Watch Our MAVEN Video Collection
MAVEN Mission Homepage
MAVEN Launch Press Kit

“We’re currently about 14,000 miles away from Earth and heading out to the Red Planet right now,” said MAVEN Project Manager David Mitchell of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

“Safe travels, MAVEN,” Mitchell said. “We’re with you all the way.”

The 191-foot tall Atlas rocket sported a four meter diameter payload  fairing atop the second-stage powered by a single-engine Centaur. Atlas provided 933,406 pounds of thrust  to lift MAVEN out of Earth’s atmosphere before the Centaur took over to provide 22,300 pounds of  thrust and the energy to propel the MAVEN on an escape trajectory toward Mars.

Following launch at T-0, the Atlas’ Russian-built RD-180 first stage fired for 250 seconds before shutting down and separating from the second stage. Shortly before first stage shutdown, at T+4.5 minutes, the payload fairing was released, jettisoning its added weight since it was no longer necessary to protect the spacecraft from the dense lower atmosphere.

The Centaur upper stage, powered by its RL-10B cryogenic engine, conducted two burns to place MAVEN on a trajectory that will intercept Mars in September, 2014. The first burn, lasting 9.5 minutes was followed by a 30-minute coast phase before Centaur fired again for approximately 5 and a half minutes.

Separation from the Centaur’s payload adapter occurred at approximately T+53 minutes. Deployment of the twin solar arrays took place five minutes later and ground controllers received the first communication with MAVEN over it’s Low-Gain communication system.

“MAVEN joins our orbiters and rovers already at Mars to explore yet another facet of the Red Planet and prepare for human missions there by the 2030s,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. “This mission is part of an integrated and strategic exploration program that is uncovering the mysteries of the solar system and enabling us to reach farther destinations.”

Two to three weeks after launch, most of MAVEN’s instruments will power up for the first time and perform a post-launch checkout. The spacecraft will not extend any of its booms and the NGIMS and the IUVS instruments will power down following this early checkout procedure. The  Particles & Fields package will remain on and will collect data during the cruise phase.

“After 10 years of developing the mission concept and then the hardware, it’s incredibly exciting to see MAVEN on its way,” said Bruce Jakosky, principal investigator at the University of Colorado Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (CU/LASP) in Boulder, Colo. “But the real excitement will come in 10 months, when we go into orbit around Mars and can start getting the science results we planned.”

“We’ve managed to work together as a team in a way I never would have imagined possible,” Jakosky said.

During the cruise phase, flight operations will execute at least four trajectory correction  maneuvers (TCM).  The first will use the spacecraft’s six orbit insertion thrusters. Following  TCMs will utilize the spacecraft’s six smaller vector control thrusters. After the first TCM, the  team will turn on and checkout all the instruments over a one week period. By approximately day 89, MAVEN will be oriented toward Earth and will activate its high-gain antenna. All  activities not related to orbital insertion will conclude 60 days before insertion.

Entry Into Martian Orbit

MAVEN will enter Martian orbit on or around Sept. 22, 2014. Six orbital insertion thrusters, each  with 45 pounds of thrust, will fire for 38 minutes to slow the craft and establish a 35hour orbit  at a 75-degree inclination. During this phase, the closest point in its orbit, known as periapsis, is 236 miles (380 km).

During a five-week “commissioning phase,” MAVEN will carry out five maneuvers to settle into its  final, 4.5-hour scientific mapping orbit. The spacecraft will also power up and test all  instruments before commencing its scientific mission. Spacecraft booms will be deployed during the commissioning phase.

“The team overcame every challenge it encountered and still kept MAVEN on schedule and on budget,” said David Mitchell, MAVEN project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “The government, industry and university partnership was determined and focused to return to Mars sooner, not later.”

Orbital Operations

MAVEN’s orbit is designed so that the craft will visit a wide range of Martian latitudes at  periapsis and encounter all of the different solar-wind-interaction regions at apoapsis. During  routine scientific orbits, periapsis will be around 93 miles (150 km) and apoapsis at around 3,860 miles (6,220 km).

While in its nominal science mapping orbits, MAVEN’s solar panels will face the Sun much of the  time. The articulated payload platform will continually move to orient its three instruments  correctly. This orientation will vary depending on MAVEN’s position in its orbit. Close to  periapsis, though, the platform will orient NGIMS in the ram direction, IUVS facing the planet, and  STATIC perpendicular to the orbital plane.

MAVEN will execute five Deep Dip campaigns, each lasting 20 orbits.  During a Deep Dip, MAVEN will descend to a lower periapsis altitude of around 77.6 miles (125 km)  to sample a denser region of the upper atmosphere. At this elevation, the atmosphere is around  30 times denser than at nominal science mapping periapsis.

The  spacecraft’s solar panels are bent at a 20-degree angle. As MAVEN travels through the upper  atmosphere, the air pressure will increase to a point that could disrupt flight dynamics if the  solar panels were flat. MAVEN’s bent solar panels shift the center of air pressure away from the  spacecraft’s center of gravity, providing a selfstabilizing configuration for atmospheric flight . The effect is similar to the self-stabilization provided by feathers on a badminton shuttlecock.

Extended Mission

MAVEN’s primary mission lasts for one Earth year. MAVEN is expected to be able to fully  satisfy its science objectives during this time period and mission managers are hopeful of getting an extension to the prime mission. If the mission continues for a second Earth year, MAVEN will be able to enhance its science  investigations by observing all of Mars’ seasons through a full Martian year (98 weeks). Further  mission extensions could cover a greater period of the Sun’s 11-year solar cycle and provide data  on year-to-year variability in both Martian weather and space weather.

During a long-duration extended science mission, ground crews will raise MAVEN’s periapsis  altitude to 137 miles (220 km). At this altitude, MAVEN can continue science observations for  another six years with minimal fuel use and continue to serve as a communications relay for ground-based Mars spacecraft via its Electra antenna.

After MAVEN’s fuel is depleted, the spacecraft will eventually fall to the surface of Mars. Planetary  protection precautions have been taken to ensure that, when it impacts, the spacecraft will not  contaminate the surface of Mars with terrestrial organisms.

MAVEN’s Science Objectives

MAVEN’s goal is to determine the role that loss of volatiles from the Mars atmosphere to space has played through time, exploring the histories of Mars’ atmosphere and climate, liquid  water, and planetary habitability.

To achieve this, the mission has three stated objectives:

  1. Determine the structure and composition of the Martian upper atmosphere today and understand the  processes controlling them.
  2. Determine rates of loss of gas to space today and understand the processes that lead to escape.
  3. Measure properties and processes that will allow us to determine the integrated loss to space through time.

MAVEN investigates the processes whereby atmospheric gases may have escaped from Mars. In order to escape, gas molecules must attain sufficient energy to break free of the  planet’s gravity. These escape processes can be  classified according to the underlying physics and chemistry driving them.

Atmospheric atoms and molecules naturally bounce around, colliding with one another in random  directions and with random energies. The higher-energy atoms at the top of the atmosphere may have  enough kinetic energy to jump right out of the atmosphere.

This process, dubbed “Jeans escape” after English astronomer James Jeans, may account for the loss  of most neutral (non-ionized) hydrogen from Mars. and therefore is equivalent to tracking the loss of water on the planet.

Solar ultraviolet light can eject electrons from atoms and molecules, creating positive ions.  When some molecular ions (such as ionized oxygen, carbon and nitrogen) re-combine with electrons,  the reaction releases energized atoms at escape speeds.

Charged molecules in Mars’ upper atmosphere follow magnetic field lines carried by the solar wind. These ions can be accelerated to velocities up to hundreds of  miles per second and many are carried away into space.

Not all of these pickup ions escape Mars, however. Some are flung back down into the atmosphere  with terrific speed, transferring their energy to other molecules. This process, called “sputtering,” can account for the loss of heavier neutral atoms.

MAVEN’s instruments will also measure the amount and types of gas particles escaping Mars’ atmosphere today.  Over the course of MAVEN’s mission, scientists will monitor how escaping  gas composition changes in reaction to different energy inputs.

The Instruments

MAVEN’s science payload consists of eight instruments in three packages.

Solar Energetic Particle (SEP) measures the energetic ions of hydrogen and helium emitted by the Sun during storms, flares,  and coronal mass ejections. The instrument characterizes the particles’ energy and direction.

SEP is a near-exact duplicate of instruments on the THEMIS (launched 2007) and Wind (launched 1994) missions, which both studied how the solar wind interacts with Earth’s atmosphere.  SEP consists of two identical instrument boxes, mounted at 90-degree angles to each other on  opposite sides of the spacecraft. The offset angle allows the twin SEP sensors to record  differences in energetic particle impacts from different directions.

Solar Wind Ion Analyzer (SWIA) measures the density, temperature, and velocity of solar wind ions, both in the undisturbed  interplanetary medium and as they encounter the Martian environment. Using these data, MAVEN  scientists can derive the rate at which neutral atmospheric atoms are ionized by the solar wind,  and the acceleration of these new ions in the magnetic and electric fields around Mars.

SWIA’s design heritage comes from instruments on the FAST, Wind and THEMIS missions, (the latter  two still operating after 19 and six years, respectively). SWIA is mounted on the spacecraft body  and is oriented toward the Sun, ensuring good coverage of the solar wind. The instrument operates  continuously except during the “deep dips” into the Martian upper atmosphere.

STATIC (SupraThermal and Thermal Ion Composition) measures the composition and velocity of high-energy ions in Mars’ upper atmosphere. Mounted on the articulated payload platform, STATIC provides a profile of high-velocity ions at  different altitudes and quantifies how many of these ions are carried away by solar winds. These high-speed ions may leap out of the atmosphere into space to be lost, or they may plunge back  down into the upper atmosphere, causing sputtering loss. The instrument measures the densities and velocities of hydrogen, helium, oxygen, and carbon dioxide ions.

The LPW (Langmuir Probe and Waves) instrument has two sensors, one that is the Langmuir probe and Waves sensor and a second  that measures Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) light coming from the Sun.

LPW’s measurements allow MAVEN scientists to delineate the boundaries and the density of the  ionosphere.  The instrument will also measure the temperature of ionospheric electrons. These  data will allow scientists to derive photochemical reaction rates, which control atmospheric escape.

The instrument design draws on forerunner instruments used on STEREO and THEMIS missions. During  launch and interplanetary cruise, the booms remain coiled within a canister. Upon arrival at  Mars, the booms will uncoil and expand from approximately 1.5 feet in length to their full length. MAVEN’s two LPW sensors are oriented such that the spacecraft’s wake obscures no more than one  sensor at a time.

Solar Wind Electron Analyzer (SWEA) measures the energy and angular distributions of electrons with mid-range energies, which  helps to fulfill several of MAVEN’s scientific objectives.

Neutral atmospheric gases can become ionized by solar ultraviolet light and by collisions with  energetic ions and electrons. SWEA  measures the influx of those solar wind and ionospheric electrons with sufficient energy to cause  ionization on impact.

Over the course of the mission, as the MAVEN orbit samples different altitudes and latitudes, SWEA measurements can  be used to map the solar wind regions both “upstream” and “downstream” of the planet, and  characterize the ionosphere on both the day-side and night-side of Mars.

Positioned at the far ends of MAVEN’s solar panels, dual magnetometer sensors (MAG) provide information  about the magnetic environment as the spacecraft travels through the solar wind, the Martian  ionosphere, or the magnetic field near one of the regions of magnetized crust on the surface.   This information provides MAVEN’s other instruments with appropriate context, since magnetic fields  affect many upper atmosphere processes. MAG assists LPW and SWEA in determining the structure of  Mars’ ionosphere and magnetic cusp regions formed by Mars’ crustal magnetic fields.

Neutral Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer (NGIMS) will measure the composition of neutral gases and thermal (or cold) ions in the Martian  upper atmosphere, sorting them by electrical charge and isotopic mass. These measurements will  provide basic information on the composition and structure of the Martian upper atmosphere and how  it varies around the planet and throughout the MAVEN mission.

In addition to measuring the abundance and composition of both neutral gases and ions, NGIMS’ data  also measures the isotope ratios for atmospheric gases. The isotopes of different atoms have the  same composition but different masses.

MAVEN measures atmospheric processes’ impact on isotopes so that surface explorers, such as Curiosity, can better interpret their own isotopic measurements. Gas enters the instrument and is ionized in an electron beam. The ionized gas is then filtered by  four electrostatic rods, which sort atoms by weight and charge. Detectors at the far end of the  rods measure the amounts of the filtered fractions of ions. NGIMS will measure  isotope ratios of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and argon.

The ultraviolet portion of the electromagnetic spectrum contains valuable information about the  chemical makeup of planetary atmospheres. Imaging UltraViolet Spectrograph (IUVS) will use UV light to chemically map the composition  of Mars’ upper atmosphere and measure the rate that hydrogen atoms escape from the planet.

In addition to its science payload, MAVEN also carries Electra, an ultra-high-frequency transceiver. Electra will serve as an additional backup communications relay for the Curiosity and Opportunity rovers. The rovers are able to return much more data to Earth through a relay than they could with direct-to-Earth communications.

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