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NASA’s super rocket to Mars clears critical review

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An artist's concept of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), the first vehicle designed to meet the challenges of the journey to Mars and the first exploration class rocket since the Saturn V.

Washington: For the first time in almost 40 years, NASA has completed all steps needed to clear a critical design review (CDR) for the most powerful rocket ever built that will take humans to deeper space missions, including Mars.

The agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) is the first vehicle designed to meet the challenges of the journey to Mars and the first exploration class rocket since the Saturn V.

SLS will launch America into a new era of exploration to destinations beyond Earth’s orbit.

“We have successfully completed the first round of testing of the rocket’s engines and boosters and all the major components for the first flight are now in production,” explained Bill Hill, deputy associate administrator of NASA’s Exploration Systems Development Division.

“This review gives us confidence that we are on the right track for the first flight of SLS and using it to extend permanent human presence into deep space,” he added.

This review is the last of four reviews that examine concepts and designs.

The next step for the programme is design certification, which will take place in 2017 after manufacturing, integration and testing is complete.

The design certification will compare the actual final product to the rocket’s design.

The final review, the flight readiness review, will take place just prior to the 2018 flight readiness date.

“This is a major step in the design and readiness of SLS,” added John Honeycutt, SLS programme manager.

The core stage of SLS, towering more than 200 feet tall and with a diameter of 27.6 feet, will carry cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen fuel for the rocket’s four RS-25 engines.

NASA recently completed the first developmental test series on the RS-25 engines.

(IANS)

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Partial Shutdown of US Delays Space Missions, But NASA Not Grounded

Other active space missions includes NASA probes OSIRIS-REx and New Horizons spacecraft that continue to gather data in Earth orbit and the Moon, Mars, Jupiter and beyond, the report said

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People rally to call for an end to the partial government shutdown in Detroit, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. VOA

The partial shutdown of the US federal government has had a serious impact on the country’s space agency NASA and development work on most future space missions has been slowed or suspended.

However, NASA has not been totally grounded by the partial government shutdown that began on December 22, after last-minute negotiations in Congress failed to end a budget standoff.

Over 95 per cent of the space agency’s employees have been furloughed. As a result, various research projects, including the Hubble Space Telescope has been put on hold, the Space.com reported on Wednesday.

Hubble suffered a mechanical problem that only furloughed NASA employees could repair.

Many workers also gathered outside the Johnson Space Center in Houston to protest the shutdown and its deleterious effects on their lives and the nation’s space programmes.

The Telescope facilities that have so far remained open during the shutdown will soon run out of money and cease operations.

This includes the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), a federally funded organization that operates the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA), the Green Bank Telescope and the Very Large Array (VLA), the report noted.

The partial shutdown become the longest on record after January 12, overtaking the previous record of the 21-day impasse in 1995-96 under then President Bill Clinton.

NASA, tissue
US shutdown delays space missions but NASA not grounded: Report,

President Donald Trump and the Congress have been at loggerheads over his demand to include in the budget $5.7 billion funding for building a border wall along the Mexico border. Democratic leaders have rejected his call.

NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), also called the “flying telescope” has also ceased operations since the shutdown.

The telescope, which is mounted to the fuselage of a Boeing 747 aircraft, has not flown since the shutdown began, the report said.

However, despite the shutdown some “excepted” employees remained at work, assisting astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and other space missions, the report said.

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Last week, astronauts aboard the ISS conducted a range of scientific experiments and public-outreach work. They engaged in an orbital Q&A with school kids and answered a variety of questions, from the nature of the research performed aboard the ISS to the type of training astronauts receive to whether your ears pop in space.

On January 13, a SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule departed the orbiting lab for Earth, eventually splashing down in the Pacific Ocean. The robotic Dragon brought down important scientific research and hardware for examination here on terra firma.

Other active space missions includes NASA probes OSIRIS-REx and New Horizons spacecraft that continue to gather data in Earth orbit and the Moon, Mars, Jupiter and beyond, the report said.  (IANS)