NASA Kennedy Teams Test High-Speed Cameras for Artemis II Mission 

Credits: NASA

Teams with NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems Program have completed the next series of integrated ground systems testing at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. On Jan. 25, the high-speed film and high-speed digital cameras on the mobile launcher and Launch Pad 39B were successfully tested at the spaceport ahead of the Artemis II mission.  

Following Artemis I, teams updated the 68 high-speed cameras, which start during the final 12 seconds of the countdown to provide views of the rocket and surrounding ground structures during launch. The imagery also is used in detailed post-launch analysis.   

The updates on the cameras include:   

  • Software and procedures to ensure proper field of view of the rocket and spacecraft.  
  • High-speed digital camera firmware and digital recorder software to improve visual video quality.  
  • Optical control system software to ensure accurate setup. 
  • Upgraded faceplate purge hardware – a small tool near the camera lens that releases small amounts of gaseous nitrogen to remove any water that falls on the lenses.    

During a water flow test to check the sound suppression system at the pad, teams tested these cameras by setting them up in a launch countdown configuration. The test verifies the cameras’ field of view and the upgraded faceplate purge hardware all function properly. In September 2023, teams at Kennedy and at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama also tested the cameras during a hot fire test of the upgraded solid rocket booster design for the SLS (Space Launch System) rocket for future Artemis missions.   

Personnel at Kennedy next will test the dynamic range of the cameras during a nighttime commercial rocket launch from a nearby launch site. Following each operation, teams will analyze the footage to ensure each camera performed as expected. 

NASA Science, Astrobotic’s Peregrine Lunar Lander Mission to Conclude

Carrying NASA science and technology, Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander continues on a trajectory toward Earth and is expected to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere on Thursday about 4 p.m. EST.

To ensure a controlled, safe re-entry, Astrobotic in coordination with NASA and other government agencies, changed the spacecraft’s projected re-entry location to a remote area of the South Pacific. No ground hazards are anticipated.

Astrobotic evaluated several options with NASA consultation to end the mission safely and determined that the best approach for minimizing risk and ensuring responsible disposal of the spacecraft would be Peregrine’s re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere, likely causing the spacecraft to burn up.

After Astrobotic confirmed Astrobotic’s Peregrine Mission One would not be a soft-landing on the Moon, NASA science teams adjusted their procedures to collect data in space near the Moon. All NASA payloads designed to power on have received power and collected data, including: Linear Energy Transfer Spectrometer (LETS), Near-Infrared Volatile Spectrometer System (NIRVSS), Neutron Spectrometer System (NSS), and the Peregrine Ion-Trap Mass Spectrometer (PITMS). Since the LRA (Laser Retroreflector Array) instrument is a passive experiment designed for the lunar surface, it cannot conduct any operations in transit.

Although interpreting the results will require some time, preliminary data suggests that the instruments have collected measurements of the radiation environment and chemical compounds in the lander vicinity, a positive sign that the instruments survived the harsh conditions of space and are functioning as expected.

The NSS and LETS experiments gathered measurements of the radiation environment in interplanetary space around the Earth and the Moon. The two instruments collected different components of the radiation spectrum, providing complementary insights into the galactic cosmic ray activity and space weather resulting from solar activity.

The PITMS operations were successful, and the team was able to acquire multiple mass spectra both before and after opening the instrument’s protective dust cover. The data confirm PITMS was in good health and that the instrument could provide useful measurements of lunar volatile compounds on future missions. The PITMS is a partnership between NASA; The Open University; RAL Space; and ESA (European Space Agency).

NIRVSS also successfully powered on and collected images, spectra, and additional data around the lander. A variety of chemical compounds were detected in the NIRVSS spectra which the team currently attributes to lander outgassing and leaked fuel. The team also refined their process for capturing spectra, or intensity of light being emitted, and images while at low data rates. Some of this work validated data processing methods, tools, and operational procedures, all of which will improve NASA’s ability to map the lunar surface in the future.

NASA will join Astrobotic during their media telecon at 1 p.m. EST on Friday, Jan. 19, to provide an end of mission update. Audio of the call will stream live on NASA’s website.

Additional updates can be found on Astrobotic’s platforms.

With NASA Science Aboard, Astrobotic’s Mission Continues to Evolve

The following NASA statement is attributed to Dr. Nicola Fox, associate administrator, Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington:

As part of NASA’s CLPS (Commercial Lunar Payload Services) initiative, Astrobotic’s Peregrine became the first American commercial lunar lander to launch on a mission to the Moon. Under the Artemis campaign, NASA is supporting exploration through the development of a lunar economy fostering a new commercial robotic delivery service carrying NASA science and technology instruments to the Moon in advance of future missions with crew. The privately designed and developed Peregrine robotic spacecraft uses novel, industry-developed technology, some of which has never flown in space. Shortly after a successful launch and separation from the rocket on Jan. 8, the spacecraft experienced a propulsion issue that would ultimately prevent it from softly landing on the Moon.

Astrobotic said on its current trajectory, Peregrine will re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere on Thursday, Jan. 18, and is likely to burn up. Astrobotic worked with NASA’s assistance to assess the most appropriate action, and this is the best approach to safely and responsibly conclude Peregrine Mission One.

While it’s too soon to understand the root cause of the propulsion incident, NASA continues to support Astrobotic, and will assist in reviewing flight data, identifying the cause, and developing a plan forward for the company’s future CLPS and commercial flights.

Spaceflight is an unforgiving environment, and we commend Astrobotic for its perseverance and making every viable effort to collect data and show its capabilities of Peregrine while in flight. Together, we will use the lessons learned to advance CLPS.

Additional updates can be found on Astrobotic’s platforms.

NASA Science, Data Collection Ongoing Aboard Peregrine Mission One  

NASA’s CLPS (Commercial Lunar Payload Services) initiative aims to deliver science and technology to the Moon to advance our capabilities in lunar exploration. Shortly after launch, Astrobotic’s Peregrine lander experienced a failure in the propulsion system, causing a critical loss of propellent. Astrobotic announced due to the failure, Peregrine will not achieve a soft lunar landing for this mission. Efforts by the Astrobotic team have recovered the spacecraft and allowed Peregrine to remain operationally stable collecting data about the interplanetary environment. All NASA payloads that can power on have received power and are effectively gathering data, although interpreting the results will require some time. 

Both Astrobotic and NASA are taking advantage of this flight time by extending the science of Peregrine’s Mission One into cislunar space. NASA payloads including, NSS (Neutron Spectrometer System), LETS (Linear Energy Transfer Spectrometer), PITMS (Peregrine Ion Trap Mass Spectrometer), and NIRVSS (Near Infrared Volatile Spectrometer System) have successfully powered on while the spacecraft has been operationally stable. Since the LRA (Laser Retroreflector Array) instrument is a passive experiment that can only be conducted on the lunar surface, it cannot conduct any operations in transit. 

A novel NASA space technology guidance and navigation sensor, which Astrobotic incorporated as a Peregrine lander component, NDL (Navigation Doppler Lidar), has also been successfully powered on. 

“Measurements and operations of the NASA-provided science instruments on board will provide valuable experience, technical knowledge, and scientific data to future CLPS lunar deliveries,” said Joel Kearns, deputy associate administrator for exploration with NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington.  

Some of the NASA provided payloads aboard Peregrine were already scheduled for future lunar flights. The team is taking this opportunity to collect as much science data as possible and to further characterize the performance and functionality of the science instruments while the spacecraft follows its current trajectory. Astrobotic is striving to extend Peregrine’s mission, allowing for additional data collection for NASA’s and other customers’ payloads.  

Two of the payloads, NSS and LETS, are making measurements of the radiation environment in interplanetary space around the Earth and the Moon. The two instruments are measuring different components of the radiation spectrum, which provide complementary insights into the galactic cosmic ray activity and space weather resulting from solar activity. This data helps characterize the interplanetary radiation environment for humans and electronics.  

Additional updates will be shared as they become available.  

Tune in to Hear NASA Discuss Artemis Moon Mission Plans

NASA will hold a media teleconference today at 1:30 p.m. EST to provide an update on the agency’s lunar exploration plans for the benefit of all under Artemis.

Audio of the briefing will stream live on NASA’s website.

In addition to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, agency participants will include:

    • NASA Associate Administrator Jim Free
    • Catherine Koerner, associate administrator, Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate
    • Amit Kshatriya, deputy associate administrator, Moon to Mars Program, Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate

The following partner representatives also will be available to answer questions during the call:

    • Mike Lauer, RS-25 Program director, Aerojet Rocketdyne
    • Russell Ralston, vice president and Extravehicular Activity Program manager, Axiom Space
    • Dave Leeth, mobile launcher 2 deputy project manager and principal vice president, Bechtel
    • John Couluris, senior vice president of lunar permanence and Human Landing System Program manager, Blue Origin
    • Dave Dutcher, vice president and Space Launch System Program manager, Boeing
    • Peggy Guirgis, general manager, Space Systems, Collins Aerospace
    • Lorna Kenna, vice president and Consolidated Operations, Management, Engineering and Test Program manager, Jacobs
    • Tonya Ladwig, vice president human space exploration and Orion Program manager, Lockheed Martin
    • Chris Coker, vice president for civil programs, Maxar
    • Mark Pond, senior director of NASA programs, Northrop Grumman
    • Jessica Jensen, vice president of customer operations and integration, SpaceX
    • Daniel Neuenschwander, director of human and robotic exploration, ESA (European Space Agency)

Through Artemis, the agency will establish a long-term presence at the Moon for scientific exploration with our commercial and international partners, learn how to live and work away from home, and prepare for future human exploration of the Red Planet. The SLS (Space Launch System), exploration ground systems, and NASA’s Orion spacecraft, along with the human landing system, next-generation spacesuits, the lunar space station, Gateway, and future rovers are NASA’s foundation for deep space exploration.

Payload Assessments Continue for NASA Science Aboard Peregrine Mission One

NASA is working with Astrobotic to determine impact to the agency’s five science investigations aboard the company’s Peregrine Mission One spacecraft. Earlier today, Peregrine became the first American commercial lunar lander to launch on a mission to the Moon. Soon after spacecraft separation, Peregrine experienced a propulsion issue. The privately designed and developed spacecraft uses novel, industry-developed technology, some of which has never flown in space. While it’s too soon to understand the root cause, NASA is supporting Astrobotic, and will assist in reviewing flight data, identifying the cause, and developing a plan forward.

“There are many challenges with spaceflight, and we’re incredibly proud of the Astrobotic and NASA teams that have put us one step closer to a robotic return to the lunar surface as part of Artemis. This delivery service model is a first for the agency and with something new, there is a higher risk,” said Joel Kearns, deputy associate administrator for exploration at NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “NASA is committed to supporting our commercial vendors as they navigate the very difficult task of sending science and technology to the surface of the Moon.”

Copies of four of the NASA payloads aboard Peregrine are expected to fly on future flights including the Laser Retroreflector Array, Near-Infrared Volatile Spectrometer System, Neutron Spectrometer System, and Linear Energy Transfer Spectrometer. The Peregrine Ion-Trap Mass Spectrometer is not currently on a future CLPS flight.

Additional updates will be shared as the situation develops.

Astrobotic Experiences Issue Aboard First NASA CLPS Robotic Flight to the Moon

Carrying NASA science planned for the Moon, United Launch Alliance successfully launched its Vulcan rocket and Astrobotic’s lunar lander early this morning. Astrobotic’s Peregrine lander experienced a propulsion issue after the spacecraft entered its operational state. This prevented Astrobotic from achieving sun-pointing orientation. The company is assessing and will provide more information as soon as it is available.

“Each success and setback are opportunities to learn and grow,” said Joel Kearns, deputy associate administrator for exploration at NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.  “We will use this lesson to propel our efforts to advance science, exploration, and commercial development of the Moon.”

Below are updates from Astrobotic so far:

 https://x.com/astrobotic/status/1744367789953933641?s=20

https://x.com/astrobotic/status/1744389634568724791?s=46&t=bbgk_BORuaKEyjSlQeAXng

https://twitter.com/astrobotic/status/1744412283743199585

https://twitter.com/astrobotic/status/1744419692813443333

https://twitter.com/astrobotic/status/1744469638640005538

https://twitter.com/astrobotic/status/1744543629392134194

https://twitter.com/astrobotic/status/1744770456626893215

https://x.com/astrobotic/status/1744835489838854215?s=20 

Moon Bound! NASA Science Heads to Moon on Astrobotic Robotic Lander  

Astrobotic’s Peregrine lander successfully powered on and is now on its way to the Moon, carrying NASA science as part of the agency’s CLPS (Commercial Lunar Payload Services) initiative and Artemis program.   

Peregrine is expected to land on the lunar surface on Feb. 23 and, throughout the approximate 10-day mission, the agency’s scientific instruments will study the lunar exosphere, thermal properties of the lunar regolith, hydrogen abundances in the soil at the landing site, magnetic fields, and conduct radiation environment monitoring.   

This concludes our live launch coverage. Continue to follow along for more CLPS updates: nasa.gov/clps.   

Astrobotic Lander Carrying NASA Instruments Separates from ULA Vulcan Rocket 

At approximately 3:09 a.m. EST, Astrobotic’s Peregrine lander separated from United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan rocket. Onboard Peregrine are NASA scientific instruments and other commercial payloads to the Moon as part of the agency’s CLPS (Commercial Lunar Payload Services) initiative and Artemis program. Coming up, Peregrine will power up and begin its journey to the Moon. 

Liftoff of ULA Vulcan Rocket! NASA Science Begins Journey to Moon on Astrobotic Robotic Lander  

At 2:18 a.m. EST, United Launch Alliance launched its Vulcan rocket and Astrobotic’s Peregrine lander from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.  

Onboard Peregrine are a suite of NASA scientific instruments and commercial payloads to the Moon as part of the agency’s CLPS (Commercial Lunar Payload Services) initiative and Artemis program. The payloads onboard the lander aim to help the agency develop capabilities needed to explore the Moon under Artemis and in advance of human missions on the lunar surface.   

The next major milestone for Peregrine will be separation from Vulcan, which is expected to occur in approximately 50 minutes or around 3:09 a.m. EST. Following this, Peregrine will power on, commencing its journey to the lunar surface.