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Building NASA's New Spacecraft
Building NASA's New Spacecraft
6 Jun 2006
(Source: NASA Headquarters)

NASA's Constellation Program is getting to work on the new spacecraft that will return humans to the moon and blaze a trail to Mars and beyond. Thousands of people across the agency are pulling together to meet this challenge, with work assignments that will sustain ten healthy and productive centers.

Each NASA center is playing a vital role in making the Vision for Space Exploration a reality:

Ames Research Center, Moffet Field, CA

NASA Ames will be the lead for development of thermal protection systems and information technology for NASA's exploration effort. This responsibility includes developing the heat shield and aeroshell for the new spaceship called the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV).

They're also leading the development of the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, which will launch with the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2008 and crash into the lunar south pole to search for water ice.

Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, CA

Dryden will lead the abort flight test integration and operations for the CEV. The center will support abort systems tests, drop tests, landing and recovery tests, flight re-entry and landing profiles and range safety.

Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, OH

Glenn will manage the work on the CEV's service module, which will provide maneuvering with its propulsion system, generate power using solar arrays, and keep the vehicle cool with heat rejection radiators. Glenn is also the lead for the upper stage of the Crew Launch Vehicle.

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD

Goddard has responsibility for communications, tracking and support mechanisms for the CEV. The center will also continue its work on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission, set to launch in October 2008.

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA

JPL leads a multi-center activity in support of the Mission Operations Project to plan systems engineering processes related to operations development and preparation. JPL also provides co-leadership for the Constellation Program Office Systems Engineering and Integration Software and Avionics team.

Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX

Johnson, home to NASA's astronaut corps and mission control, is managing the Constellation Program. The center will integrate the CEV, Crew Launch and Cargo Launch Vehicles for all mission operations. JSC is the lead for the crew module, and will provide flight operations support to the Crew Launch Vehicle. As with Shuttle program and Apollo before, JSC will plan missions, train crews and run mission control.

Langley Research Center, Hampton Roads, VA

Langley leads Launch Abort System integration supporting the CEV Project, providing oversight and independent analysis of the system's development. Langley also leads the Command Module Landing System Advanced Development Project and will support CEV testing.

Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL

Marshall hosts the Constellation Launch Vehicle projects, responsible for managing all Crew Launch and Cargo Launch Vehicle related activities. Marshall will design the Crew Launch Vehicle's first stage and is responsible for launch vehicle testing.

Stennis Space Center, MS

By building on more than 40 years of experience in rocket propulsion testing, Stennis will continue to serve in its traditional test role, serving as the integration lead for all propulsion testing. The first rocket engine to be tested will be the J-2X, an engine similar to those tested at the center 40 years ago for the Apollo Saturn V rockets. In the Constellation Program, the J-2X will be used to power the Upper Stage of the Crew Launch Vehicle.

Kennedy Space Center, FL

Kennedy will continue its tradition of launching NASA's explorers into space. KSC hosts the Ground Operations Project, which manages all activities related to ground operations for the launch and landing sites, including ground processing, launch, and recovery systems.

Photo Credits: NASA/John Frassanito and Associates

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Last Updated: 6 Jun 2006