NASA has named the agency centres that will lead development of the initial elements of its Constellation exploration system. The 10 centres named will be involved in development of the crew exploration vehicle (CEV), crew launch vehicle (CLV), heavylift cargo launch vehicle and lunar lander, as well as studies of robotic and human missions to the Moon and Mars.

NASA centres made famous by Apollo and Space Shuttle – and some better know fdor aeronautics research - have been given key roles in the Constellation programme, which aims to restart US human spaceflight by 2014, following retirement of the Shuttle in 2010, and return man to the Moon by 2020.

Johnson Space Center in Houston hosts the Constellation programme office and project offices for the CEV and mission operations. NASA’s lead centre for Apollo and Space Shuttle, Johnson will integrate the overall programme and manage the CEV prime contractor, to be selected in September.

Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama is responsible for management of the CLV and cargo launch vehicle projects. The centre will also design the CLV first stage, a five-segment solid rocket booster derived from the Shuttle SRBs, and manage all launch vehicle demonstration testing. Marshall will also host the project offices for the lunar lander and precursor robotic missions.

Stennis Space Centre in Mississippi will manage rocket propulsion testing for the CLV and lead development of the Pratt & Whitney J-2X liquid-oxygen/liquid-hydrogen engine that will be used for the CLV upper stage and the Earth departure stage of the cargo launch vehicle. Kennedy Space Center in Florida will be responsible for all ground operations at the launch and landing sites.

Ames Research Center in California leads development of the thermal protection system for the CEV crew capsule; Glenn Research Center in Ohio is managing development of the CEV service module and spacecraft adapter; and Langley Research Center in Virginia leads CEV launch abort system integration and command module landing system development. Dryden Flight Research Center in California will be responsible for testing the launch abort system;

Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California co-lead the Constellation engineering and integration team for avionics and software. Additionally, Goddard in leading navigation system development and JPL is leading multi-centre mission operations work.

Source: Flight International