News Listings for Mars Pathfinder

  • NASA specifies Orion heatshield

    News | 18 Sep 2006 23:00

    <P>NASA Ames Research Center is purchasing SLA-561V, a thermal protection system (TPS) material, from the Orion crew vehicle prime contractor Lockheed Martin Space Systems for use in developing the Orion capsule's re-entry heatshield.</P> <P>Lockheed had previously specified SLA-561V as its preferred TPS material for the Block 1 low Earth orbit (LEO) Orion. The spaceships Block 1A and Block 1B versions are for missions to the International Space Station only. Block 2 Orion will go to the Moon.</P> <P>Ames is leading the TPS advanced development project (ADP) for the new four- to six-astronaut vehicle. The SLA-561V material is being acquired for use in test articles and design and manufacturing demonstrations. Ames is aiming for a TPS preliminary design review in December 2007.</P> <P>The heatshield on the Orion capsule will be a single 5m (16.3ft)-wide piece of ablative material. NASA wanted a TPS material with a technology-readiness level of six - one that has been demonstrated in
  • NASA weighs up CEV air bags versus retro rockets

    News | 29 May 2006 23:00

    <P>NASA will continue to evaluate a Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) landing system using retro-rockets, despite placing two $250,000 contracts for airbag development. The four-month contracts have been placed with Delaware-based inflatables firm ILC Dover and a second unnamed company, writes Rob Coppinger.</P> <P>ILC’s award is part of a $2 million, five-year deal for the advanced development of airbag landing attenuation systems for Earth entry capsules managed by NASA’s Langley Research Center. Subscale demonstration tests could take place at Langley’s impact test facility in Hampton, Virginia at the end of the four months.</P> <P>NASA’s wider landing system evaluation is related to CEV crew capsule weight issues and the mass impact of airbags, crushable zones or retro-rockets. The work is expected to continue until the CEV’s preliminary design review, due to take place in September 2007.</P> <P>“The rockets could be a lighter system than airbags because we have to have structures
  • NASA rejoices but Beagle 2 sulks

    News | 13 Jan 2004 00:00

    <p>GRAHAM WARWICK / WASHINGTON DC &amp; TIM FURNISS / LONDON</p> <p>Space agency picks targets in search for past water activity on Mars, with second rover due to land on 24 January</p> <p>While NASA basks in the successful landing of its first Mars expedition rover, Spirit, the European Space Agency's efforts to establish contact with the missing Beagle 2 lander have met with failure. ESA's first attempt to contact Beagle 2 from the orbiting Mars Express on 7 January failed. Further attempts were planned for subsequent passes over the landing site, but certainty is growing that the lander is lost.</p> <p>NASA, meanwhile, met a hitch in the otherwise smooth start-up of the Spirit when it was determined that two sections of the airbags that cushioned its 3 January touchdown partially blocked the ramp the rover was to use to leave its lander. This delayed plans to roll the six-wheeled rover off the lander by three days, to 14 January at the earliest.</p> <p>Engineers planned to lift
  • UK gears up for Beagle's landing

    News | 23 Dec 2003 00:00

    <p>TIM FURNISS / LONDON</p> <p>Craft due to enter Martian atmosphere on 25 December and will transmit music to declare operational status</p> <p>The UK's National Space Centre in Leicester is gearing up its Beagle 2 Mars lander operations, declaring its Lander Operation Control Centre operational in advance of Beagle 2's deployment from European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter last week. </p> <p>The 68.8kg (152lb) Beagle probe, now separated from the orbiter, is following a ballistic trajectory towards the selected Mars landing site at Isidis Planitia, and will remain switched off for most of the remaining 3 million km (1.7 million miles) coast phase. It will power up a few hours before atmospheric entry scheduled for 25 December. </p> <p>The craft, for which EADS Astrium is the prime contractor, will enter the Martian atmosphere at 21,000km/h (13,000mph), protected from the 1,600°C (2,910¡ °F) temperature by its heatshield. A pilot parachute will be deployed at 1,600km/h, and
  • Wind River keeps crucial Mars water survey role

    News | 15 Jun 2003 23:00

    <p>Executives from Wind River (Hall 5B, B9) are celebrating the 10 June launch of the first of two Mars Exploration Rovers, NASA's Spirit spacecraft, powered by the Alameda, California company's mission-critical operating systems. </p> <p>Following the success of the 1997 Mars Pathfinder Mission, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) once again selected Wind River's real-time operating system (RTOS), VxWorks and Tornado integrated development environment (IDE) to create the "brains" of the new twin robot geologists. </p> <p>Wind River technology will enable the machines to perform complex, mission-critical tasks, including trajectory, descent and ground operations control, data collection and Mars to Earth communication relay, among other functions. </p> <p>Pathfinder </p> <p>Wind River was the first commercial operating system to go to Mars, when it worked with NASA JPL on the successful Pathfinder mission. </p> <p>With greater mobility than the 1997 Mars Pathfinder, the self-su
  • Martian armada

    News | 09 Jun 2003 23:00

    <p>TIM FURNISS / LONDON</p> <p>Armed with a suite of scientific instruments, a fleet of five international spacecraft will be on its way to the Red Planet by late June</p> <p>This summer, five spacecraft will be heading for Mars, arriving in late 2003 and early 2004 to search for conditions that may be conducive to life. They will represent the largest armada of spacecraft heading to one planet at the same time.</p> <p>The European Space Agency (ESA) launched its first mission to the Red Planet, the Mars Express orbiter, on 2 June. Together with a piggyback craft, the UK's Beagle 2 lander, the Mars Express is due to arrive in December this year. NASA is also launching two Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) in June, due to land in 2004.</p> <p>The fifth craft, the Japanese Institute of Space and Astronautical Sciences' Nozomi, was launched in 1998, aiming for Mars orbit in 1999. But a thruster fault made the journey more protracted, and Nozomi is set to reach the planet in early 2004.</p