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NASA Receives Final NRC Report On Space Technology Roadmaps

David E. Steitz
Headquarters, Washington                                    
202-358-1730
david.steitz@nasa.gov
  RELEASE : 12-039 NASA NRC On WASHINGTON — NASA has received the National Research Council (NRC) report “NASA Space Roadmaps and Priorities,” which provides the agency with findings and recommendations on where best to invest in technologies needed to enable NASA’s future missions in space. The NRC report will help define NASA’s development priorities in the years to come.

One year ago, NASA provided 14 draft space technology area roadmaps to the NRC and asked the council to examine and prioritize technologies for the agency. The technologies were prioritized in each of the 14 areas and then across all categories.

The report finalizes the NRC’s review and identifies 16 top-priority technologies necessary for NASA’s future missions, which also could benefit American aerospace industries and the nation. The 16 were chosen by the NRC from its own ranking of 83 high-priority technologies out of approximately 300 identified in the roadmaps.

“The report strongly reaffirms the vital importance of technology development to enable the agency’s future missions and grow the nation’s new technology economy,” said Mason Peck, chief technologist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “The report confirms the value of our technology development strategy to date. NASA currently invests in all of the highest-priority technologies and will study the report and adjust its investment portfolio as needed.”

The technology priorities the report identifies are aligned with NASA missions to extend and sustain human activities beyond low Earth , explore the evolution of the solar system and the potential for life elsewhere, and expand our un¬derstanding of Earth and the universe in which we live.

The report observes that “technological breakthroughs have been the foundation of virtually every NASA success. In addition, technological advances have yielded benefits far beyond space itself in down-to-Earth applications.” It also states “future U.S. leadership in space requires a foundation of sustained technology advances.”

During the coming months, NASA’s Office of the Chief Technologist will lead an agency-wide analysis and coordination effort to update the 14 technology area roadmaps with the NRC report’s findings and recommendations.

To review a copy of the report, visit:

http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13354
For more information about NASA’s Space Technology Program, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/oct

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Media Invited To Final Orion Spacecraft Water Landing Test

ADVISORY : M12-002 to Test HAMPTON, Va. – Media representatives are invited to watch as the Orion crew capsule makes its water landing test on Thursday, Jan. 5, at NASA’s Langley Research Center’s Hydro Impact Basin in Hampton, Va.

Testing began last summer to certify the Orion spacecraft for water landings. Orion will carry astronauts into , providing emergency abort capability, sustaining the crew during travel and ensuring safe re-entry and landing.

Since July 2011, engineers have conducted eight tests at different angles, heights and pitches to simulate varying sea conditions and impacts that Orion could face upon landing in the Pacific Ocean.

The test will simulate deployment of all parachutes at a high impact pitch of 43 degrees. The capsule will travel approximately 47 mph before splashing into the basin, where it will likely flip over after impact. While this type of landing scenario is not likely to occur during actual vehicle operation, the test will validate models of how the spacecraft would respond. Like the Apollo spacecraft, Orion will have an on-board system that allows the spacecraft to up-right itself in the ocean.

The Hydro Impact Basin is 115 feet long, 90 feet wide and 20 feet deep. It is located at the west end of Langley’s historic Landing and Impact Research Facility, or Gantry, where Apollo astronauts trained for moonwalks.

Journalists must arrive by 1 p.m. EDT at the NASA Langley main gate. Due to the nature of the testing, an exact drop time cannot be given. If the drop test date changes due to weather or technical reasons, NASA will issue a media advisory.

To ensure access and badging, reporters must contact Amy Johnson by phone at 757-272-9859 or by email at amy.johnson@nasa.gov by 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 4.

For video and still imagery that documents ground breaking of the Hydro Impact Basin through various stages of Orion testing, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/langley/exploration/hib.html

For more information about Orion, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/orion– end – text-only version of this release

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Media Invited to Final Orion Spacecraft Water Landing Test

ADVISORY : M12-002 to Test HAMPTON, Va. – Media representatives are invited to watch as the Orion crew capsule makes its final water test on Thursday, Jan. 5, at NASA’s Langley Research Center’s Hydro Impact Basin in Hampton, Va.

Testing began last summer to certify the Orion spacecraft for water landings. Orion will carry astronauts into , providing emergency abort capability, sustaining the crew during travel and ensuring safe re-entry and landing.

Since July 2011, engineers have conducted eight tests at different angles, heights and pitches to simulate varying sea conditions and impacts that Orion could face upon landing in the Pacific Ocean.

The test will simulate deployment of all parachutes at a high impact pitch of 43 degrees. The capsule will travel approximately 47 mph before splashing into the basin, where it will likely flip over after impact. While this type of landing scenario is not likely to occur during actual vehicle operation, the test will validate models of how the spacecraft would respond. Like the Apollo spacecraft, Orion will have an on-board system that allows the spacecraft to up-right itself in the ocean.

The Hydro Impact Basin is 115 feet long, 90 feet wide and 20 feet deep. It is located at the west end of Langley’s historic Landing and Impact Research Facility, or Gantry, where Apollo astronauts trained for moonwalks.

Journalists must arrive by 1 p.m. EDT at the NASA Langley main gate. Due to the nature of the testing, an exact drop time cannot be given. If the drop test date changes due to weather or technical reasons, NASA will issue a media advisory.

To ensure access and badging, reporters must contact Amy Johnson by phone at 757-272-9859 or by email at amy.johnson@nasa.gov by 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 4.

For video and still imagery that documents ground breaking of the Hydro Impact Basin through various stages of Orion testing, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/langley/exploration/hib.html

For more information about Orion, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/orion– end – text-only version of this release

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NASA Twin Spacecraft On Final Approach For Moon Orbit

Dwayne Brown
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1726      
dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov
DC Agle
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
818-393-9011
agle@jpl.nasa.gov
Caroline McCall
Massachusetts Institute of , Cambridge
617-253-1682
cmcall5@mit.edu
RELEASE : 11-426 NASA Twin On For Moon PASADENA, Calif. — NASA’s twin to study the moon from crust to core are nearing their New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day main-engine burns to place the duo in lunar orbit.

Named Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL), the spacecraft are scheduled to be placed in orbit beginning at 1:21 p.m. PST (4:21 p.m. EST) for GRAIL-A on Dec. 31, and 2:05 p.m. PST (5:05 p.m. EST) on Jan. 1 for GRAIL-B.

“Our team may not get to partake in a traditional New Year’s celebration, but I expect seeing our two spacecraft safely in lunar orbit should give us all the excitement and feeling of euphoria anyone in this line of work would ever need,” said David Lehman, project manager for GRAIL at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif.

The distance from Earth to the moon is approximately 250,000 miles (402,336 kilometers). NASA’s Apollo crews took about three days to travel to the moon. Launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Sept. 10, 2011, the GRAIL spacecraft are taking about 30 times that long and covering more than 2.5 million miles (4 million kilometers) to get there.

This low-energy, long-duration trajectory has given mission planners and controllers more time to assess the spacecraft’s health. The path also allowed a vital component of the spacecraft’s single science instrument, the Ultra Stable Oscillator, to be continuously powered for several months. This will allow it to reach a stable operating temperature long before it begins making science measurements in lunar orbit.

“This mission will rewrite the textbooks on the evolution of the moon,” said Maria Zuber, GRAIL principal investigator from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge. “Our two spacecraft are operating so well during their journey that we have performed a full test of our science instrument and confirmed the performance required to meet our science objectives.”

As of Dec. 28, GRAIL-A is 65,860 miles (106,000 kilometers) from the moon and closing at a speed of 745 mph (1,200 kph). GRAIL-B is 79,540 miles (128,000 kilometers) from the moon and closing at a speed of 763 mph (1,228 kph).

During their final approaches to the moon, both orbiters move toward it from the south, flying nearly over the lunar south pole. The lunar orbit insertion burn for GRAIL-A will take approximately 40 minutes and change the spacecraft’s velocity by about 427 mph (688 kph). GRAIL-B’s insertion burn 25 hours later will last about 39 minutes and is expected to change the probe’s velocity by 430 mph (691 kph).

The insertion maneuvers will place each orbiter into a near-polar, elliptical orbit with a period of 11.5 hours. Over the following weeks, the GRAIL team will execute a series of burns with each spacecraft to reduce their orbital period from 11.5 hours down to just under two hours. At the start of the science phase in March 2012, the two GRAILs will be in a near-polar, near-circular orbit with an altitude of about 34 miles (55 kilometers).

When science collection begins, the spacecraft will transmit radio signals precisely defining the distance between them as they orbit the moon. As they fly over areas of greater and lesser gravity, caused both by visible features such as mountains and craters and by masses hidden beneath the lunar surface. they will move slightly toward and away from each other. An instrument aboard each spacecraft will measure the changes in their relative velocity very precisely, and scientists will translate this information into a high-resolution map of the Moon’s gravitational field. The data will allow mission scientists to understand what goes on below the surface. This information will increase our knowledge of how Earth and its rocky neighbors in the inner solar system developed into the diverse worlds we see today.

JPL manages the GRAIL mission. MIT is home to the mission’s principal investigator, Maria Zuber. The GRAIL mission is part of the Discovery Program managed at NASA’s Marshall Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. Lockheed Martin Systems in Denver built the spacecraft.

For more information about GRAIL, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/grail – end – text-only version of this release

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