Using advanced Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP) technologies is an essential part of future missions into deep space with larger payloads. The use of robotics and advanced SEP technologies like this concept of an SEP-based spacecraft during NASA mission to find, rendezvous, capture and relocate an asteroid to a stable point in the lunar vicinity offers more mission flexibility than would be possible if a crewed mission went all the way to the asteroid.
NASA’s asteroid initiative, announced as part of the President’s FY2014 budget request, integrates the best of NASA’s science, technology, and human exploration capabilities and draws on the innovation of America’s brightest scientists and engineers. It uses current and developing capabilities to find both large asteroids that pose a hazard to Earth and small asteroids that could be candidates for the initiative, accelerates our technology development activities in high-powered SEP and takes advantage of our hard work on the Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft, helping to keep NASA on target to reach the President’s goal of sending humans to Mars in the 2030s.
A view of Earth as seen from the Cupola on the Earth-facing side of the International Space Station. Visible in the top left foreground is a Russian Soyuz crew capsule. In the lower right corner, a solar array panel can be seen.
On June 18, 1983, Sally Ride became the first American woman to fly in space when the space shuttle Challenger launched on mission STS-7.
As one of the three mission specialists on the STS-7 mission, she played a vital role in helping the crew deploy communications satellites, conduct experiments and make use of the first Shuttle Pallet Satellite. In this image, Dr. Ride sits in the aft flight deck mission specialist’s seat during deorbit preparations.
On Dec. 6, 1998, the crew of space shuttle mission STS-88 began construction of the International Space Station, attaching the U.S.-built Unity node and the Russian-built Zarya module together in orbit. The crew carried a large-format IMAX® camera, used to take this image of Unity lifted out of Endeavour’s payload bay to position it upright for connection to Zarya.
Zarya, launched on Nov. 20, 1998, was the first piece of the International Space Station. Also known as the Functional Cargo Block (FGB), it would provide a nucleus of orientation control, communications and electrical power while the station waited for its other elements. Two weeks later, on Dec. 4, 1998, NASA’s space shuttle Endeavour launched Unity, the first U.S. piece of the complex, during the STS-88 mission.
The heat shield for NASA’s Orion spacecraft was loaded onto a Super Guppy plane in Manchester, N.H. on Dec. 4, for transport to Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The heat shield, the largest of its kind ever built, is being unloaded Thursday, Dec. 5, and is scheduled for installation on Orion in March 2014.
The heat shield will be used in September 2014 during Exploration Flight Test-1, a two-orbit flight that will take an uncrewed Orion capsule to an altitude of 3,600 miles. The returning capsule is expected to encounter temperatures of almost 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit as it travels through Earth’s atmosphere at up to 20,000 mph, faster than any spacecraft in the last 40 years.
Data gathered during the flight will influence decisions about design improvements on the heat shield and other Orion systems, authenticate existing computer models, and innovative new approaches to space systems and development. It also will reduce overall mission risks and costs for future Orion missions, which include exploring an asteroid and Mars.
NASA astronauts Cady Coleman and Ricky Arnold step into the Orion crew module hatch during a series of spacesuit check tests conducted on June 13, 2013 at the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
The Orion crew module will serve as both transport and a home to astronauts during future long-duration missions to an asteroid, Mars and other destinations throughout our solar system.
On Dec. 4, 1973, NASA’s Pioneer 10 spacecraft sent back images of Jupiter of ever-increasing size. The most dramatic moment was after closest approach and after the spacecraft was hidden behind Jupiter. Here, images gradually build up into a very distorted crescent-shaped Jupiter. “Sunrise on Jupiter,” a team member said. The giant planet crescent gradually decreased in size as the spacecraft sped away out of the Jovian system.
Launched on Mar. 2, 1972, Pioneer 10 was the first spacecraft to travel through the asteroid belt, and the first spacecraft to make direct observations and obtain close-up images of Jupiter. Pioneer 10 passed within 81,000 miles of the cloudtops during its closest encounter with Jupiter. This historic event marked humans’ first approach to Jupiter and opened the way for exploration of the outer solar system - for Voyager to tour the outer planets, for Ulysses to break out of the ecliptic, for Galileo to investigate Jupiter and its satellites, and for Cassini to go to Saturn and probe Titan. During its Jupiter encounter, Pioneer 10 imaged the planet and its moons, and took measurements of Jupiter’s magnetosphere, radiation belts, magnetic field, atmosphere, and interior. These measurements of the intense radiation environment near Jupiter were crucial in designing the Voyager and Galileo spacecraft.
NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman, Expedition 40/41 flight engineer, participates in a spacewalk - or extravehicular activity (EVA) - training session on May 14, 2013 in the Partial Gravity Simulator (POGO) test area in the Space Vehicle Mock-up Facility at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. NASA astronaut Steve Swanson (left), Expedition 39 flight engineer and Expedition 40 commander, assists Wiseman.
NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy, Expedition 36 flight engineer, uses a digital still camera during a session of extravehicular activity (EVA) as work continues on the International Space Station. A little more than one hour into the spacewalk on July 16, 2013, European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano (out of frame) reported water floating behind his head inside his helmet. The water was not an immediate health hazard for Parmitano, but Mission Control decided to end the spacewalk early.
Silver snoopy award presented to Omega in appreciation on their watches help to get back to earth safely .
In the early hours of Nov. 27, 2013, Comet ISON entered the field of view of the European Space Agency/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory. In this picture, called a coronagraph, the bright light of the sun itself is blocked so the structures around it are visible. The comet is seen in the lower right; a giant cloud of solar material, called a coronal mass ejection or CME, is seen billowing out under the sun.
Comet ISON, which began its trip from the Oort cloud region of our solar system, will reach its closest approach to the sun on Thanksgiving Day, skimming just 730,000 miles above the sun’s surface.
The original Gemini 9 prime crew, astronauts Elliot M. See Jr. (left), command pilot, and Charles A. Bassett II, pilot, in space suits with their helmets on the table in front of them. On February 28, 1966 the prime crew for the Gemini 9 mission were killed when their twin seat T-38 trainer jet aircraft crashed into a building in which the Gemini spacecraft were being manufactured. They were on final approach to Lambert-Saint Louis Municipal Airport when bad weather conditions hampered pilot See’s ability to make a good visual contact with the runway. Noticing the building at the last second as he came out of the low cloud cover, See went to full afterburner and attempted to nose-up the aircraft in an attempt to miss the building. He clipped it and his plane crashed.
Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., pilot of the Gemini 12 spacecraft performs extravehicular activity (EVA) during the second day of the four day mission in space. Aldrin is positioned next to the Agena work station.
A weightless applesauce tube floats free following a snack by astronaut John Glenn in the course of his first orbit during the Mercury “Friendship 7” mission on February 20, 1962.
Astronaut Edward H. White II, pilot for the Gemini-Titan 4 space flight, floats in space during America’s first spacewalk. The extravehicular activity (EVA) was performed during the Gemini 4 mission on June 3, 1965. White spent 23 minutes maneuvering around his spacecraft as Jim McDivitt remained inside the spacecraft. White is attached to the spacecraft by a 25-ft. umbilical line and a 23-ft. tether line, both wrapped in gold tape to form one cord. In his right hand, White carries a Hand-Held Self Maneuvering Unit (HHSMU), which he used to help move him around the weightless environment of space. The visor of his helmet is gold plated to protect him from the unfiltered rays of the sun.