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Results for category "Lockheed Martin"

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Lockheed Martin completes assembly of GOES-S

Lockheed Martin personnel prepare GOES-S for an acoustics test. Photo Credit: Lockheed Martin

Although the recently launched GOES-R series satellite, since designated GOES-16, has yet to enter operation, Lockheed Martin hasn’t been idle. The second member of the GOES-R series of weather satellites, GOES-S, is now complete and undergoing mechanical and environmental tests to ensure the spacecraft can handle the rigors of launch and harshness of space.

Like its on-orbit sibling, GOES-S represents a revolutionary step forward in weather satellites and will greatly enhance the data available to weather forecasters with the capability to provide near real-time observations.

However, before it can take its place in geostationary orbit and begin supplying data to scientists and forecasters, the spacecraft and its related hardware must undergo rigorous testing here on Earth.

Read more in the full piece at SpaceFlight Insider.

Key component for EM-1’s Orion spacecraft arrives at Kennedy Space Center

Technicians guide the Orion heat shield in the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building after removing it from its shipping crate.

Technicians guide the Orion heat shield in the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building after removing it from its shipping crate. Photo Credit: NASA

Slamming into Earth’s atmosphere at 6.8 miles per second (11 kilometers per second), Orion’s heat shield must protect the vehicle from the searing heat of reentry after its flight around the Moon. However, before it can go on its journey to our nearest neighbor, the shield had to make a much more mundane — though no less important — trip here on Earth.

The heat shield for the Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1) Orion vehicle arrived at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida on September 19, 2016, where it was offloaded from the agency’s Super Guppy aircraft and delivered to the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building’s high bay.

The heat shield is a joint project, designed by engineers at Lockheed Martin and NASA’s Orion team, and was built at Lockheed Martin’s Denver-area manufacturing facility.

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NASA selects six companies to develop deep space habitation prototypes

Conceptual image of a deep space habitation module. Credit: NASA

Conceptual image of a deep space habitation module. Credit: NASA

NASA recently announced they have selected six companies to develop ground prototypes of deep space habitation modules as part of the agency’s ‘Journey to Mars’. Though NASA has been making steady progress on their heavy-lift rocket – the Space Launch System (SLS) – and the Orion spacecraft, a lengthy interplanetary journey will require a dedicated habitation module.

To that end, NASA has partnered with Bigelow Aerospace, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Orbital ATK, Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Space Systems, and NanoRacks to develop prototypes and concepts of habitation modules suitable for such a journey. The companies will have approximately 24 months to produce a prototype and/or a concept study.

“NASA is on an ambitious expansion of human spaceflight, including the Journey to Mars, and we’re utilizing the innovation, skill and knowledge of both the government and private sectors,” said Jason Crusan, director of NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems in a press release issued by the agency. “The next human exploration capabilities needed beyond the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion capsule are deep space, long duration habitation and in-space propulsion. We are now adding focus and specifics on the deep space habitats where humans will live and work independently for months or years at a time, without cargo supply deliveries from Earth.”

Developing ground prototypes is crucial in understanding how the habitats will integrate into an overall crewed system. Both physical and virtual models will be used to test and plan the layouts of the modules. It’s better to work through hundreds, or thousands, of iterations on the ground than to find out something doesn’t work once it’s on orbit.

Expedition 47 astronauts and cosmonauts gather for a group photo inside BEAM. Credit: Tim Peake/ESA/NASA

Expedition 47 astronauts and cosmonauts gather for a group photo inside BEAM. Credit: Tim Peake/ESA/NASA

One of the companies, Bigelow Aerospace, currently has a test module attached to the International Space Station (ISS). Their Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) was launched to the ISS aboard the SpaceX CRS-8 mission on April 8, 2016, and subsequently attached to the orbiting outpost eight days later. After some initial hitches, BEAM was eventually fully expanded and pressurized. Though not nominally inhabited, astronauts will occasionally enter BEAM to recover test data to send back to Bigelow.

Bigelow expects to field their XBASE (Expandable Bigelow Advanced Station Enhancement) module for the NextSTEP initiative. The 330 cubic meter habitat is based on the company’s B-330 spacecraft, though modified to attach to the ISS as a “visiting vehicle”. By comparison, BEAM is 16 cubic meters in volume.

Orbital ATK also hopes to leverage its experience with ISS operations. Based off the company’s cargo resupply ship, Orbital ATK looks to develop a solution derived from their Cygnus spacecraft. The enlarged module would operate in cislunar space, maturing the design and systems, while the company develops a Mars-focused roadmap.

You can read more about this initiative on NASA’s site, including the proposed designs from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Sierra Nevada Corporation, and NanoRacks.

Concept of Lockheed Martin's NextSTEP-2 habitat with Orion. Credit: Lockheed Martin

Concept of Lockheed Martin’s NextSTEP-2 habitat with Orion. Credit: Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin signs contract with NASA to launch ‘SkyFire’ CubeSat

Artist's depiction of SkyFire in lunar proximity. Image courtesy of Lockheed Martin.

Artist’s depiction of SkyFire in lunar proximity. Image courtesy of Lockheed Martin.

Lockheed Martin has signed a contract with NASA to launch and deploy its 6U SkyFire CubeSat on the agency’s maiden launch of the Space Launch System (SLS) in 2018 in an effort to increase our understanding of Earth’s closest neighbor.

Though destinations beyond low-Earth orbit (LEO) are normally the domain of much larger spacecraft, SkyFire will launch as a secondary payload on Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) and take advantage of the larger vehicle’s ability to ferry the smaller CubeSat to lunar vicinity.

SkyFire’s lunar flyby will pioneer brand new infrared technology, enabling scientists to fill strategic gaps in lunar knowledge that have implications for future human space exploration,” said John Ringelberg…

Read the full story in my post at SpaceFlight Insider.