Orion efforts recognized by Rotary National Award for Space Achievement Foundation

Orion took a large slice of the cake at the Rotary National Award for Space Achievement (RNASA) annual gala, held April 24 in Houston. The RNASA Foundation, which recognizes outstanding achievements in space and contributes to public awareness of the benefits of space exploration, awarded several team and individual awards, of which work on Orion took a large share.

late careerNASA’s management team for Orion’s flight test in December 2014, called Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1) and the industry team that supported the flight were both recognized with Stellar Awards for their efforts, while Orion’s hardware development team from Lockheed Martin, which is NASA’s prime contractor for Orion, was also recognized. Individual Stellar Awards were given to Orion Program Manager Mark Geyer, Orion Chief Engineer Julie Kramer White and several individuals from Lockheed Martin who contributed to Orion.

Bob Cabana, director of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where Orion is put together and processed before launch, received RNASA’s top award, the National Space Trophy.

In this photo, several winners of the RNASA Stellar Award pose during RNASA’s annual gala. Mark Geyer, Orion program manager, is third from right.

Hubble Opened Eyes to Universe For Exploration in Orion

Orion EarthThis week NASA marked both Earth Day and the 25th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope’s launch on April 24, 1990. The spectacular images of the cosmos provided by Hubble and the many photos and videos submitted by the public representing their favorites places on Earth as part of the agency’s #NoPlaceLikeHome campaign are a reminder of the incredible tools in space we have to explore new destinations and understand our home planet. On future Orion missions, astronauts will be able to gather spectacular imagery of Earth and other planetary bodies to help us explore places we’ve never been. Today, engineers across the country are hard at work developing and building Orion to make it all possible. This photo was Orion’s view from about 3,600 miles above Earth during its recent flight test.

NASA’s gallery of Hubble images

Earth Day imagery

Five Years and Counting

It’s been five yimageears since President Obama visited NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to outline his plan for America’s space program. The President’s speech took place at the Neil Armstrong Operations & Checkout Building, where since that time, Orion was processed and outfitted ahead of its first trip to space in December 2014. NASA-wide, significant progress had been made within the last five years, and the work to reach for new heights continues. Check out the progress NASA has made on our journey: https://www.nasa.gov/fiveyear

Secondary Payloads, New Partnerships Mark Progress Toward Deep Space Exploration

When NASsecondary payload imageA’s new Space Launch System (SLS) launches on its first flight, it will be doing some serious multi-tasking. Not only will Exploration Mission-1 test the performance of SLS and its integration with the Orion spacecraft – the agency plans to use its massive lift capability to carry nearly a dozen nano-satellites to conduct science experiments beyond low Earth orbit.

NASA’s newest rocket will launch Orion on an uncrewed test flight to a distant retrograde orbit around the moon. Tucked inside the stage adapter — the ring connecting Orion to the top propulsion stage of the SLS — will be 11 self-contained small satellites, each about the size of a large shoebox. About 10 minutes after Orion and its service module escape the pull of Earth’s gravity, the two will disconnect and Orion will proceed toward the moon. Once Orion is a safe distance away, the small payloads will begin to be deployed, all at various times during the flight depending on the particular missions.

These CubeSats are small nano-satellites designed to be efficient and versatile. The masses of these secondary payloads are light — no heavier than 30 pounds (14 kilograms) — and will not require any extra power from the vehicle to function. They will essentially piggyback on the SLS flight, providing what otherwise would be costly access to deep space. More information on the secondary payloads can be found here: http://go.nasa.gov/1BVKa92

In other deep space news, NASA announced on March 30 a series of new partnerships with U.S. industry for key deep space capabilities. The agency selected 12 Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) to advance concept studies and technology development projects in the areas of advanced propulsion, habitation and small satellites. Through these public-private partnerships, selected companies will partner with NASA to develop the exploration capabilities necessary to enable commercial endeavors in space and human exploration to deep space destinations such as the proving ground of space around the moon, known as cis-lunar space, and Mars.

Results from these studies and hardware developments also will help determine the role for international partner involvement, by fully exploring domestic capabilities, and for Orion and SLS missions in cis-lunar space. This work also will advance system understanding and define a need for further testing of habitation systems and components on the International Space Station. For more information about the partnerships, including the companies selected, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/nextstep