Tuesday May 22, 2018
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NASA reveals detailed plan to send humans to Mars

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Washington: The US space agency has released a detailed outline of its plans to send manned mission to Mars.

In a report titled ‘NASA’s Journey to Mars: Pioneering Next Steps in Space Exploration’, agency administrator Charles Bolden said that NASA is closer to sending American astronauts to Mars than at any point in our history.

“Today, we are publishing additional details about our journey to Mars plan and how we are aligning all of our work in support of this goal.

“In the coming weeks, I look forward to continuing to discuss the details of our plan with members of Congress, as well as our commercial and our international and partners, many of whom will be attending the International Astronautical Congress next week,” he said in a statement.

The journey to Mars crosses three thresholds, each with increasing challenges as humans move farther from Earth.

The “Earth Reliant” exploration is focused on research aboard the International Space Station.

“From this world-class microgravity laboratory, we are testing technologies and advancing human health and performance research that will enable deep space, long duration missions,” Bolden added.

In the ‘Proving Ground’, NASA will learn to conduct complex operations in a deep space environment that allows crews to return to Earth in a matter of days.

“NASA will advance and validate capabilities required for humans to live and work at distances much farther away from our home planet, such as at Mars,” he stated.

“Earth Independent” activities build on what we learn on the space station and in deep space to enable human missions to the Mars vicinity, possibly to low-Mars orbit or one of the Martian moons, and eventually the Martian surface.

Future Mars missions will represent a collaborative effort between NASA and its partners – a global achievement that marks a transition in humanity’s expansion as we go to Mars to seek the potential for sustainable life beyond Earth.

Living and working in space require accepting risks – and the journey to Mars is worth the risks.

A new and powerful space transportation system is key to the journey, but NASA also will need to learn new ways of operating in space, based on self-reliance and increased system reliability.

“We will use proving ground missions to validate transportation and habitation capabilities as well as new operational approaches to stay productive in space while reducing reliance on Earth.” the statement further read.

With the Space Launch System, Orion crewed spacecraft, and revitalised space launch complex, the US space agency is developing core transportation capabilities for the journey to Mars and ensuring continued access for commercial crew and cargo partners to maintain operations and stimulate new economic activity in low-Earth orbit.

 

(IANS)

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SpaceX to Launch Twin NASA Water Cycle Tracker Satellites

The satellites are scheduled to launch at 3.47 p.m. EDT from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Central California

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SpaceX to Launch Twin NASA Water Cycle Tracker Satellites
SpaceX to Launch Twin NASA Water Cycle Tracker Satellites. Pixabay

On its way to deploy five Iridium Next communications satellites on Tuesday, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will also launch twin NASA satellites that will monitor Earth’s water cycle, marking a unique rideshare arrangement.

The satellites are scheduled to launch at 3.47 p.m. EDT from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Central California. (This corresponds to 1.17 a.m. Wednesday India time), NASA said.

The two Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On mission (GRACE-FO) spacecraft will follow each other in orbit around Earth, separated by about 220 km.

On liftoff, the Falcon 9 first-stage engines will burn for approximately two minutes and 45 seconds before shutting down at main engine cutoff (MECO).

The Falcon 9’s first and second stages will separate seconds later. Then, the second-stage engine will ignite for the first time (SES1) and burn until the vehicle reaches the altitude of the injection orbit, 490 km.

NASA
Representational Image, VOA

While this burn is going on, the payload fairing — the launch vehicle’s nose cone — will separate into two halves like a clamshell and fall away.

When the rocket’s second stage has completed its ascent to the injection orbit altitude, it will pitch down (its nose points down) 30 degrees and roll so that one of the twin GRACE-FO satellites is facing down, toward Earth, and the other is facing up, toward space.

Then the second stage engine will cut off (SECO).

About 10 minutes after liftoff, a separation system on the second stage will deploy the GRACE-FO satellites.

Separation will occur over the Pacific Ocean at about 17.5 degrees North latitude, 122.6 degrees West longitude.

The first opportunity to receive data from the spacecraft will occur at NASA’s tracking station at McMurdo, Antarctica, about 23 minutes after separation, NASA said.

Also Read: A Study by NASA Shows Freshwater Decline in India

After the GRACE-FO satellites are deployed, the Falcon 9 second stage will coast for half an orbit before reigniting its engine (SES2) to take the Iridium Next satellites to a higher orbit for deployment.

GRACE-FO, a collaborative mission of NASA and the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ), continues the work of the original GRACE mission in observing the movement of water and other mass around our planet by tracking the changing pull of gravity very precisely. (IANS)