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    • By NASA
      Main Takeaways:
      New 66-foot-wide antenna dishes will be built, online, and operational in time to provide near-continuous communications services to Artemis astronauts at the Moon later this decade. Called LEGS, short for Lunar Exploration Ground Sites, the antennas represent critical infrastructure for NASA’s vision of supporting a sustained human presence at the Moon. The first three of six proposed LEGS are planned for sites in New Mexico, South Africa, and Australia. LEGS will become part of NASA’s Near Space Network, managed by the agency’s Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) program and led out of Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Background:
      NASA’s LEGS can do more than help Earthlings move about the planet.
      Three Lunar Exploration Ground Sites, or LEGS, will enhance the Near Space Network’s communications services and support of NASA’s Artemis campaign.
      NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) program maintains the agency’s two primary communications networks — the Deep Space Network and the Near Space Network, which enable satellites in space to send data back to Earth for investigation and discovery.
      Using antennas around the globe, these networks capture signals from satellites, collecting data and enabling navigation engineers to track the mission. For the first Artemis mission, these networks worked in tandem to support the mission as it completed its 25-day journey around the Moon. They will do the same for the upcoming Artemis II mission.
      To support NASA’s Moon to Mars initiative, NASA is adding three new LEGS antennas to the Near Space Network. As NASA works toward sustaining a human presence on the Moon, communications and navigation support will be crucial to each mission’s success. The LEGS antennas will directly support the later Artemis missions, and accompanying missions like the human landing system, lunar terrain vehicle, and Gateway.
      The Gateway space station will be humanity’s first space station in lunar orbit as a vital component of the Artemis missions to return humans to the Moon for scientific discovery and chart a path for humans to Mars.NASA “One of the main goals of LEGS is to offload the Deep Space Network,” said TJ Crooks, LEGS project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “The Near Space Network and its new LEGS antennas will focus on lunar missions while allowing the Deep Space Network to support missions farther out into the solar system — like the James Webb Space Telescope and the interstellar Voyager missions.”
      The Near Space Network provides communications and navigation services to missions anywhere from near Earth to 1.2 million miles away — this includes the Moon and Sun-Earth Lagrange points 1 and 2. The Moon and Lagrange points are a shared region with the Deep Space Network, which can provide services to missions there and farther out in the solar system.
      An artist’s rendering of a lunar terrain vehicle on the surface of the Moon.NASA The LEGS antennas, which are 66 feet in diameter, will be strategically placed across the globe. This global placement ensures that when the Moon is setting at one station, it is rising into another’s view. With the Moon constantly in sight, the Near Space Network will be able to provide continuous support for lunar operations.
      How it Works:
      As a satellite orbits the Moon, it encodes its data onto a radio frequency signal. When a LEGS antenna comes into view, that satellite (or rover, etc.) will downlink the signal to a LEGS antenna. This data is then routed to mission operators and scientists around the globe who can make decisions about spacecraft health and orbit or use the science data to make discoveries.
      The LEGS antennas are intended to be extremely flexible for users. For LEGS-1, LEGS-2, and LEGS-3, NASA is implementing a “dual-band approach” for the antennas that will allow missions to communicate using two different radio frequency bands — X-band and Ka-band. Typically, smaller data packets — like telemetry data — are sent over X-band, while high-resolution science data or imagery needs Ka-band. Due to its higher frequency, Ka-band allows significantly more information to be downlinked at once, such as real-time high-resolution video in support of crewed operations.
      LEGS will directly support the Artemis campaign, including the Lunar Gateway, human landing system (HLS), and lunar terrain vehicle (LTV).NASA Further LEGS capacity will be sought from commercial service providers and will include a “tri-band approach” for the antennas using S-band in addition to X- and Ka-band.
      The first LEGS ground station, or LEGS-1, is at NASA’s White Sands Complex in Las Cruces, New Mexico. NASA is improving land and facilities at the complex to receive the new LEGS-1 antenna.
      The LEGS-2 antenna will be in Matjiesfontein, South Africa, located near Cape Town. In partnership with SANSA, the South African National Space Agency, NASA chose this location to maximize coverage to the Moon. South Africa was home to a ground tracking station outside Johannesburg that played a role in NASA’s Apollo missions to the Moon in the 1960s. The agency plans to complete the LEGS-2 antenna in 2026. For LEGS-3, NASA is exploring locations in Western Australia.
      These stations will fully complement the existing capabilities of the Near and Deep Space Networks and allow for more robust communications services to the Artemis campaign.
      The LEGS antennas (similar in appearance to this 20.2-meter CPI Satcom antenna) will be placed in equidistant locations across the globe. This ensures that when the Moon is setting at one station, it will be rising into another’s view. With the Moon constantly in sight, NASA’s Near Space Network will be able to support approximately 24/7 operations with Moon-based missions.CPI Satcom CPI Satcom is building the Lunar Exploration Ground Site (LEGS) antennas for NASA. The antennas will look very similar to the 20-meter antenna pictured here. CPI Satcom The Near Space Network is funded by NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) program office at NASA Headquarters in Washington and operated out of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
      About the Author
      Kendall Murphy
      Technical WriterKendall Murphy is a technical writer for the Space Communications and Navigation program office. She specializes in internal and external engagement, educating readers about space communications and navigation technology.
      5 Min Read Ground Antenna Trio to Give NASA’s Artemis Campaign ‘LEGS’ to Stand On
      An artist’s rendering of astronauts working near NASA’s Artemis base camp, complete with a rover and RV. Credits: NASA Share
      Details
      Last Updated Jul 22, 2024 EditorKatherine SchauerContactKendall MurphyLocationGoddard Space Flight Center Related Terms
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    • By NASA
      John Campbell, a logistics engineer at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, stands on NASA’s Pegasus barge July 15. NASA How do you move NASA’s SLS (Space Launch System) rocket’s massive 212-foot-long core stage across the country? You do it with a 300-foot-long barge. However, NASA’s Pegasus barge isn’t just any barge. It’s a vessel with a history, and John Campbell, a logistics engineer for the agency based at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, is one of the few people who get to be a part of its legacy.
      For Campbell, this journey is more than just a job – it’s a lifelong passion realized. “Ever since I was a boy, I’ve been fascinated by engineering,” he said. “But to be entrusted with managing NASA’s Pegasus barge, transporting history-making hardware for human spaceflight across state lines and waterways – is something I never imagined.”
      NASA has used barges to ferry the large,and heavy hardware elements of its rockets since the Apollo Program. Replacing the agency’s Poseidon and Orion barges, Pegasus was originally crafted for the Space Shuttle Program and updated in recent years to help usher in the Artemis Generation and accommodate the mammoth dimensions of the SLS core stage. The barge plays a big role in NASA’s logistical operations, navigating rivers and coastal waters across the Southeast, and has transported key structural test hardware for SLS in recent years.
      Campbell grew up in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. After graduating from the University of Alabama with a degree in mechanical engineering, he ventured south to Panama City, Florida, where he spent a few years with a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning consulting team. Looking for an opportunity to move home, he applied for and landed a contractor position with NASA and soon moved to his current civil service role.
      With 17 years under his belt, Campbell has many fond memories during his time with the agency. One standout moment was witnessing the space shuttle stacked in the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. But it’s not all about rockets and launch pads for Campbell. When he isn’t in his office making sure  Pegasus has everything it needs for its next trip out, he is on the water accompanying important pieces of hardware to their next destinations. With eight trips on Pegasus under his belt, the journey never gets old.
      “There is something peaceful when you look out and it’s just you, the water, one or two other boats, and wildlife,” Campbell said. “On one trip we had a pod of at least 20 dolphins surrounding us. You get to see all kinds of cool wildlife and scenery.” From cherishing special moments like this to ensuring the success of each journey, Campbell recognizes the vital role he plays in the agency’s goals to travel back to the Moon and beyond and does not take his responsibility lightly.
      “To be a part of the Artemis campaign and the future of space is just cool. I was there when the barge underwent its transformation to accommodate the colossal core stage, and in that moment, I realized I was witnessing history unfold. Though I couldn’t be present at the launch of Artemis I, watching it on TV was an emotional experience. To see something you’ve been a part of, something you’ve watched evolve from mere components to a giant spacecraft hurtling into space – it’s a feeling beyond words.”
      NASA is working to land the first woman, first person of color, and its first international partner astronaut on the Moon under Artemis. SLS is part of NASA’s backbone for deep space exploration, along with the Orion spacecraft, supporting ground systems, advanced spacesuits and rovers, the Gateway in orbit around the Moon, and commercial human landing systems. SLS is the only rocket that can send Orion, astronauts, and supplies to the Moon in a single launch.
      Read other I am Artemis features.
      View the full article
    • By NASA
      Members of the Artemis II crew met with the crew of NASA’s Pegasus barge prior to their departure to deliver the core stage of NASA’s SLS (Space Launch System) rocket to the Space Coast.
      NASA astronaut and pilot of the Artemis II mission Victor Glover met the crew July 15.
      From left to right: Ashley Marlar, Jamie Crews, Nick Owen, Jeffery Whitehead, Scott Ledet, Jason Dickerson, John Campbell, NASA astronaut Victor Glover, Farid Sayah, Kelton Hutchinson, Terry Fitzgerald, Bryan Jones, and Joe Robinson.NASA/Brandon Hancock NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman, commander, and CSA (Canadian Space Agency) astronaut Jeremy Hansen, mission specialist, visited the barge July 16 shortly before the flight hardware was loaded onto it.
      The Pegasus crew and team, from left, includes Kelton Hutchinson, Jeffery Whitehead, Jason Dickerson, Arlan Cochran, John Brunson, NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman, Marc Verhage, Terry Fitzgerald, Scott Ledet, CSA astronaut Jeremy Hansen, Wil Daly, Ashley Marlar, Farid Sayah, Jamie Crews, Joe Robinson, and Nick Owen.NASA/Sam Lott Pegasus is currently transporting the SLS core stage from NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where it will be integrated and prepared for launch. During the Artemis II test flight, the core stage with its four RS-25 engines will provide more than 2 million pounds of thrust to help send the Artemis II crew around the Moon.
      Pegasus, which was previously used to ferry space shuttle tanks, was modified and refurbished to ferry the SLS rocket’s massive core stage. At 212 feet in length and 27.6 feet in diameter, the Moon rocket stage is more than 50 feet longer than the space shuttle external tank.
      See more images:
      Members of NASA’s Pegasus barge crew meet with Artemis II crew members at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans July 15 and 16. NASA/Eric Bordelon Members of NASA’s Pegasus barge crew meet with Artemis II crew members at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans July 15 and 16. NASA/Eric Bordelon Members of NASA’s Pegasus barge crew meet with Artemis II crew members at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans July 15 and 16. NASA/Brandon Hancock Members of NASA’s Pegasus barge crew meet with Artemis II crew members at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans July 15 and 16.NASA/Evan DeRoche NASA is working to land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon under Artemis. SLS is part of NASA’s backbone for deep space exploration, along with the Orion spacecraft, advanced spacesuits and rovers, the Gateway in orbit around the Moon, and commercial human landing systems. SLS is the only rocket that can send Orion, astronauts, and supplies to the Moon in a single launch.
      View the full article
    • By NASA
      NASA/Eric Bordelon & Michael DeMocker On July 16, 2024, the first core stage of NASA’s SLS (Space Launch System) rocket for the agency’s Artemis II mission began a journey from NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. The core stage was moved onto the agency’s Pegasus barge, where it will be ferried 900 miles to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Once at Kennedy, engineers will prepare it in the Vehicle Assembly Building for attachment to other rocket and Orion spacecraft elements.
      The SLS rocket’s core stage is the largest NASA has ever produced. At 212 feet tall, it consists of five major elements, including two huge propellant tanks that collectively hold more than 733,000 gallons of super-chilled liquid propellant to feed four RS-25 engines. During launch and flight, the stage will operate for just over eight minutes, producing more than 2 million pounds of thrust to propel four astronauts inside NASA’s Orion spacecraft toward the Moon.
      Watch a timelapse video of the SLS core stage rollout.
      Image credit: NASA/Eric Bordelon & Michael DeMocker
      View the full article
    • By NASA
      Move teams with NASA and Boeing, the SLS (Space Launch System) core stage lead contractor, position the massive rocket stage for NASA’s SLS rocket on special transporters to strategically guide the flight hardware the 1.3-mile distance from the factory floor onto the agency’s Pegasus barge on July 16. The core stage will be ferried to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where it will be integrated with other parts of the rocket that will power NASA’s Artemis II mission. Pegasus is maintained at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility. Credit: NASA NASA rolled out the SLS (Space Launch System) rocket’s core stage for the Artemis II test flight from its manufacturing facility in New Orleans on Tuesday for shipment to the agency’s spaceport in Florida. The rollout is key progress on the path to NASA’s first crewed mission to the Moon under the Artemis campaign.
      Using highly specialized transporters, engineers maneuvered the giant core stage from inside NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans to the agency’s Pegasus barge. The barge will ferry the stage more than 900 miles to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where engineers will prepare it in the Vehicle Assembly Building for attachment to other rocket and Orion spacecraft elements.
      “With Artemis, we’ve set our sights on doing something big and incredibly complex that will inspire a new generation, advance our scientific endeavors, and move U.S. competitiveness forward,” said Catherine Koerner, associate administrator for NASA’s Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “The SLS rocket is a key component of our efforts to develop a long-term presence at the Moon.”
      Technicians moved the SLS rocket stage from inside NASA Michoud on the 55th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 11 on July 16, 1969. The move of the rocket stage for Artemis marks the first time since the Apollo Program that a fully assembled Moon rocket stage for a crewed mission rolled out from NASA Michoud.
      The SLS rocket’s core stage is the largest NASA has ever produced. At 212 feet tall, it consists of five major elements, including two huge propellant tanks that collectively hold more than 733,000 gallons of super-chilled liquid propellant to feed four RS-25 engines. During launch and flight, the stage will operate for just over eight minutes, producing more than 2 million pounds of thrust to propel four astronauts inside NASA’s Orion spacecraft toward the Moon.
      “The delivery of the SLS core stage for Artemis II to Kennedy Space Center signals a shift from manufacturing to launch readiness as teams continue to make progress on hardware for all major elements for future SLS rockets,” said John Honeycutt, SLS program manager at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. “We are motivated by the success of Artemis I and focused on working toward the first crewed flight under Artemis.”
      After arrival at NASA Kennedy, the stage will undergo additional outfitting inside the Vehicle Assembly Building. Engineers then will join it with the segments that form the rocket’s twin solid rocket boosters. Adapters for the Moon rocket that connect it to the Orion spacecraft will be shipped to NASA Kennedy this fall, while the interim cryogenic propulsion stage is already in Florida. Engineers continue to prepare Orion, already at Kennedy, and exploration ground systems for launch and flight.
      All major structures for every SLS core stage are fully manufactured at NASA Michoud. Inside the factory, core stages and future exploration upper stages for the next evolution of SLS, called the Block 1B configuration, currently are in various phases of production for Artemis III, IV, and V. Beginning with Artemis III, to better optimize space at Michoud, Boeing, the SLS core stage prime contractor, will use space at NASA Kennedy for final assembly and outfitting activities.
      Building, assembling, and transporting the SLS core stage is a collaborative effort for NASA, Boeing, and lead RS-25 engines contractor Aerojet Rocketdyne, an L3Harris Technologies company. All 10 NASA centers contribute to its development with more than 1,100 companies across the United States contributing to its production. 
      NASA is working to land the first woman, first person of color, and its first international partner astronaut on the Moon under Artemis. SLS is part of NASA’s backbone for deep space exploration, along with the Orion spacecraft, supporting ground systems, advanced spacesuits and rovers, the Gateway in orbit around the Moon, and commercial human landing systems. SLS is the only rocket that can send Orion, astronauts, and supplies to the Moon in a single launch.
      For more on NASA’s Artemis campaign, visit: 
      http://www.nasa.gov/artemis
      -end- 
      Madison Tuttle/Rachel Kraft
      Headquarters, Washington
      202-358-1600
      madison.e.tuttle@nasa.gov/rachel.h.kraft@nasa.gov
      Corinne Beckinger 
      Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala. 
      256-544-0034  
      corinne.m.beckinger@nasa.gov
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      Details
      Last Updated Jul 16, 2024 LocationNASA Headquarters Related Terms
      Space Launch System (SLS) Artemis Artemis 2 Common Exploration Systems Development Division Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate Marshall Space Flight Center Michoud Assembly Facility View the full article
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