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Space Launch System

U.S. communication with the International Space Station happens from this room at NASA's M...

One of NASA’s more off-the-radar facilities is responsible for some of the organization’s most important research. Kennedy Space Center and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory may get the lion's share of attention, but Marshall Space Flight Center, in Huntsville, Alabama, is responsible for developing much of the complex inner-workings of rockets, satellites, and future technologies.  Read More

The proposals are designed to support NASA's deep space missions, such as that which Orion...

NASA is preparing to launch its Orion spacecraft in December and its Space Launch System (SLS) is scheduled to fly by 2018. However, impressive as this is, more is needed if buyer's regret isn't to set in. To avoid this, the space agency is asking for proposals to develop new technologies to send astronauts to the asteroids and Mars using "sustainable, evolvable, multi-use space capabilities."  Read More

Firing lasers up the backsides of rockets could accelerate them faster without requiring e...

Russian scientists have proposed a novel way to accelerate a spaceship while in flight – firing a ground-based laser up its backside. The new technique uses a plasma flow caused by laser ablation to increase the exhaust efficiency of a traditional rocket propulsion system, and could theoretically accelerate an aircraft beyond Mach 10.  Read More

Artist's impression of the Orion spacecraft in orbit, having separated from the Delta IV l...

Progress is continuing apace as NASA readies its next-generation Orion spacecraft for her maiden flight, dubbed Exploration Flight Test 1 (EFT-1), set to blast off Dec. 4 atop a Delta IV heavy launch vehicle. Once operational, Orion will be the first spacecraft built with the capacity to carry out a manned flight beyond low-Earth orbit since the Apollo era, when man first walked on the moon. NASA boasts that Orion will represent the safest and most advanced spacecraft ever created, allowing man to capture an asteroid and in time, even put a man on Mars.  Read More

The Orion capsule getting ready to receive its skin prior to fueling (Image: NASA/Dimitri ...

NASA’s return to manned spaceflight took a couple of major steps forward this week with the completion of the Orion crew capsule and the attachment of it and the previously-completed service module to the adapter that will connect Orion to its rocket. This marks the completion of all major components of the spacecraft, which is due to make its first test flight in December.  Read More

Artist's concept of the SLS in flight (Image: NASA)

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) program has received the green light to progress after the completion of a critical design review. The next generation heavy launch system, which is designed to lift the Orion spacecraft for manned missions into deep space, is NASA’s most ambitious project since the 1960s and the most powerful rocket ever built, with 12 percent more thrust than the Saturn V booster used to send the Apollo missions to the Moon.  Read More

The tests aim at reducing the weight of the SLS by 20 percent (Image: NASA)

On December 9, NASA began what is either an impressive engineering test or a classic example of world-class larking about. At the space agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, engineers are crushing an enormous can by subjecting it to almost one million pounds of force. This may seem like a party trick that’s gone out of control, but there’s a serious reason behind this … or so NASA says. The crushing is part of the project to design the fuel tanks for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), which will be used to launch the Orion spacecraft and deep space missions.  Read More

An F/A-18 research jet simulated various flight conditions to evaluate the new SLS flight ...

Earlier this month, NASA carried out tests on a new flight system for the Space Launch System (SLS), the heavy lifting rocket that will send the manned Orion spacecraft into deep space. What was unusual about this is that instead of using a rocket for the tests, the space agency used an F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet as a stand in as a way to carry out more tests at lower costs.  Read More

Hot-fire test of a 3D printed rocket part (Image: NASA/MSFC/NASA/David Olive)

NASA has shown a keen interest in 3D printed rocket components lately with a series of tests that have had considerable success, with printed parts in test firings working as well as those made by conventional methods. In the latest test firing on August 22, the largest 3-D printed rocket engine component yet tested by NASA withstood ten times the thrust previously generated by an engine using printed components.  Read More

Concept image showing Orion spacecraft approaching the robotic asteroid capture vehicle (I...

NASA has released new concept images and animations outlining one version of its plan to capture an asteroid with an unmanned craft and return it to lunar orbit for astronauts to study. The plan is part of an initiative by President Barack Obama for a US manned asteroid mission as outlined in his 2014 NASA budget request. The agency’s main objective at the moment is to come up with alternative approaches and evaluate them.  Read More

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