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January 14 – 20, 2013 / Vol 32, No 2 / Hawai`i Island, USA

11 Jan 2013, 21:45 UTC
January 14 – 20, 2013 / Vol 32, No 2 / Hawai`i Island, USA
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Space Launch System and Orion Crew Vehicle Advancing

The future of USA national government space access and human space exploration, the Space Launch System, is ahead of schedule in the design process building towards uncrewed Exploration Mission-1 to circumnavigate the Moon in 2017 and the first crewed flight EM-2 in 2021. On December 20 NASA and Boeing completed a Preliminary Design Review of the core stage and avionics. The Block 1 configuration to be used in EM-1 consists of four shuttle-derived RS-25 engines with a total lift capacity of 70 metric tons to LEO and will be supplemented by the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage for Earth departure. The Orion spacecraft, or Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, is being designed by Lockheed Martin to support up to 4 people on missions beyond LEO to the Moon, Mars, asteroids and other future destinations. Next week NASA will begin an integrated systems definition review of the SLS, Orion and supporting ground systems. One critical agenda item will be weight – with 33,112 kg budgeted the capsule is now running about 1,814 kg heavy, exceeding the capacity of the three 38-meter main parachutes. An Orion test module will fly on a Delta IV heavy in September ...

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