NASA Moves Ahead With Constellation

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Greg Galitzine

NASA Moves Ahead With Constellation

Before I came to TMC I was involved with the publication NASA Tech Briefs as chief copy editor. Because of my association with that engineering publication and frankly due to a lifelong interest in the subject, I try to keep up with news on the space program. Today I came across a news item from VOA News that discussed NASA's Constellation project.
Seems the engineers at NASA are moving ahead according to plan, hitting their milestones and preparing for the day that the new rockets and capsules they're developing today will be the primary vehicles for human space exploration after the current shuttle fleet is retired in 2010.shuttle.jpg

According to a NASA press release:
NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, has successfully completed thermal vacuum testing, which simulates the extreme hot, cold and airless conditions of space LRO will experience after launch. This milestone concludes the orbiter's environmental test program at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
The orbiter will carry seven instruments to provide scientists with detailed maps of the lunar surface and increase our understanding of the moon's topography, lighting conditions, mineralogical composition and natural resources. Data returned to Earth from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter will be used to select safe landing sites, determine locations for future outposts and help mitigate radiation dangers to astronauts. The spacecraft will spend at least a year in a low, polar orbit approximately 30 miles above the lunar surface while the instruments work together to collect detailed information about the moon's environment.
One stated goal of NASA's current Constellation mission is a return to the Moon no later than 2020, with the further goal of extending human presence across the solar system and beyond.
In fact Constellation intends to lay the groundwork for scientists to use the Moon to prepare for future human and robotic missions to Mars and other destinations.
There are even plans to enable eventual settlement of the Moon.

earth from moon.jpg

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