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By European Space Agency
Video: 00:07:30 Meet the people working on the testing of Ariane 6. Europe’s next rocket, Ariane 6, has passed all its qualification tests in preparation for its first flight, and now the full-scale test model will be removed from the launch pad to make way for the real rocket that will ascend to space.
To make way for launch, teams from ArianeGroup, France’s space agency CNES and ESA have started to remove the Ariane 6 test model by disconnecting the cables and fuel lines that pass through the launch tower.
Find out about the progress being made at the end of testing by the people who know Ariane 6 best. Featuring interviews with ESA’s launch system architect Pier Domenico Resta, CNES Inspector General Bernard Chemoul, CNES Ariane 6 project manager Olivier Bugnet, ESA Launch system engineer Frank Saingou, ArianeGroup system test program manager Valérie and ArianeGroup production engineering manager Lydia Amakoud.
Ariane 6 is an all-new design, created to succeed Ariane 5 as Europe's heavy-lift launch system. With Ariane 6's upper stage restart capability, Europe's launch capability will be tailored to the needs of multiple payload missions, for example to orbit satellite constellations. This autonomous capability to reach Earth orbit and deep space supports Europe's navigation, Earth observation, scientific and security programmes. Ongoing development of Europe's space transportation capabilities is made possible by the sustained dedication of thousands of talented people working in ESA's 22 Member States.
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NASA’s Artemis II crew members are assisted by U.S. Navy personnel as they exit a mockup of the Orion spacecraft onto an inflatable “front porch” while NASA’s Exploration Ground System’s Landing and Recovery team and partners from the Department of Defense aboard the USS San Diego practice recovery procedures using the Crew Module Test Article, during Underway Recovery Test 11 (URT-11) off the coast of San Diego, California on Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024. NASA/Jamie Peer When Artemis II NASA astronauts Reid Wiseman, Victor Glover, Christina Koch, and CSA (Canadian Space Agency) astronaut Jeremy Hansen return to Earth after a nearly 10-day mission around the Moon, a joint NASA and Department of Defense team led by NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems Program will be ready to retrieve them from the Orion spacecraft and ferry them onto a naval ship in the Pacific Ocean.
As Orion enters Earth’s atmosphere, the capsule will keep the crew safe as it slows from nearly 25,000 mph to about 300 mph, when its system of 11 parachutes will deploy in a precise sequence to help slow the capsule and crew to a relatively gentle 20 mph for splashdown about 60 miles off the coast of California, weather permitting.
Prior to splashdown, a team from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, called Sasquatch, will map where elements jettisoned from Orion such as the forward bay cover, drogue parachutes, and mortars, will land in the Ocean so the boats and helicopters supporting recovery stay clear of those areas.
NASA Artemis II crew members are assisted by U.S. Navy personnel as they exit a mockup of the Orion spacecraft in the Pacific Ocean during Underway Recovery Test 11 (URT-11) on Feb. 25, 2024, while his crewmates look on. URT-11 is the eleventh in a series of Artemis recovery tests, and the first time NASA and its partners put their Artemis II recovery procedures to the test with the astronauts.NASA/Kenny Allen Once it is safe to approach the capsule, helicopters, and a team of Navy divers in small boats, along with NASA’s open water lead, will begin making their way to the capsule. The Navy divers then will assess the environment surrounding the capsule to make sure there are no hazards present.
Teams will stabilize Orion before the crew exits the capsule in the open water by installing an inflatable collar. To safely retrieve the astronauts, the divers also will install an inflatable raft, called the front porch, under Orion’s side hatch to aid in astronaut retrieval from the capsule.
“Our highly choreographed recovery operations will help ensure the final phase of NASA’s first crewed mission to the Moon in more than 50 years ends as a success,” said Lili Villareal, NASA’s landing and recovery director.
When all four crew members are out of the capsule, the front porch is repositioned about 100 yards from Orion to allow the astronauts to be individually lifted into a helicopter and returned to the ship. Two helicopters will be deployed to retrieve the crew. The helicopters will each retrieve two crewmembers and deliver them to the deck of the naval ship.
Once on the ship, the astronauts will be transported to a medical bay for a post-mission evaluation before flying on a helicopter from the ship back to shore and then to Johnson. Teams expect to recover the crew and deliver them to the medical bay within two hours of splashdown. If the crew returns to Earth at night, teams expect the recovery activities to take a bit longer but still must meet a requirement to have the crew in the medical bay within two hours.
With the crew safely out of the capsule, teams will work on towing Orion into the well deck of the ship, using procedures similar to those used during Artemis I. Navy divers will secure a system of lines to the capsule via several connection points on a collar to help tow Orion inside the ship.
NASA’s Artemis II crew members (front to back) NASA astronauts Reid Wiseman, Victor Glover, and Christina Koch, and CSA (Canadian Space Agency) astronaut Jeremy Hansen descend the well deck of the USS San Diego as NASA’s Exploration Ground System’s Landing and Recovery team and partners from the Department of Defense aboard the ship practice recovery procedures using the Crew Module Test Article, during Underway Recovery Test 11 (URT-11) off the coast of San Diego, California on Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024. When Orion is close to the vessel, an additional line attached to a pneumatic winch will be affixed to the capsule by the divers. These ropes all work together to ensure the capsule is stable as it is slowly pulled inside the ship. A team of sailors and NASA recovery personnel inside the ship will begin manually pulling some of the lines to help align Orion with the stand it will be placed on once back on the ship.
As the sailors are pulling on the lines, NASA technicians will operate a main winch line attached to the capsule to help bring Orion inside making for a safe and precise recovery. After Orion is on a stand, the well deck will be drained of water and the ship will begin making its way back to Naval Base San Diego. Under NASA’s Artemis campaign, the agency will establish the foundation for long-term scientific exploration at the Moon, land the first woman, first person of color, and its first international partner astronaut on the lunar surface, and prepare for human expeditions to Mars for the benefit of all.
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NASA has selected Dana Weigel as the International Space Station Program manager, based at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Weigel succeeds Joel Montalbano, who has accepted a position as deputy associate administrator for the agency’s Space Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington.Credits: NASA NASA has selected Dana Weigel as the International Space Station Program manager, based at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Weigel succeeds Joel Montalbano, who has accepted a position as deputy associate administrator for the agency’s Space Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. Both positions will be effective April 7.
“Dana is an excellent choice to lead the space station program during this remarkably busy time in human spaceflight, especially aboard humanity’s home in orbit,” said Ken Bowersox, NASA’s associate administrator for space operations. “With Dana continuing her contributions to space station, Joel will bring his experience to the Space Operations directorate. NASA will continue to benefit from their human spaceflight knowledge as we maintain our unique capabilities in orbit and prepare for the future of the agency’s operations in space.”
Weigel will bring 20 years of NASA experience to her new role. She’s currently serving as the agency’s deputy program manager for the International Space Station since 2021. As program manager, Weigel will be responsible for the overall management, development, integration, and operation of the orbital complex. She also has served in a number of key positions at NASA, including as the manager of the Space Station Vehicle Office from 2014 to 2021, where she was responsible for sustaining, sparing and developing systems and payload facility hardware, managing the risks, and integrating commercial and international partner elements into the International Space Station. She served as deputy chief of the Flight Director Office from 2012 through 2014 and was a flight director from 2004 to 2014. Weigel began her career with Barrios Technology in 1994 and became a NASA civil servant in 2004.
A native of Baltimore, Weigel holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Texas A&M University. Throughout her career, Weigel has been recognized for achievements including the Astronauts’ Silver Snoopy Award in 2002; NASA’s Exceptional Service Medal in 2006, 2010 and 2011; Outstanding Leadership Medal in 2008; Exceptional Achievement Medal in 2010; Silver Achievement Medal in 2014; and Distinguished Service Medal in 2022. She was also recognized as a Rotary National Award for Space Achievement Stellar award recipient in 2000 and 2007.
“Dana’s depth of expertise and International Space Station Program experience will be instrumental as we continue to explore low Earth orbit for the benefit of all humanity,” said Johnson Center Director Vanessa Wyche. “On behalf of NASA Johnson, we are proud of Joel’s contributions and dedication to mission excellence and look forward to his accomplishments as Space Operations Mission Directorate’s deputy associate administrator.”
Montalbano will lend his vast experience to meet the nation’s goals of establishing a low Earth orbit economy and to maintain America’s leadership space. He has served as International Space Station Program manager since 2020. Prior to that, he was the deputy program manager since 2012. Montalbano began his career at Rockwell in June 1988 and became a NASA civil servant in August 1998, serving in a number of roles, including as a NASA flight director from 2000 to 2008.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in aerospace, aeronautical and astronautical engineering from Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. Throughout his career, Montalbano has earned multiple NASA awards, including the Distinguished Service Medal in 2018. He received NASA’s Exceptional Service Medal in 2003 and 2007, Outstanding Leadership Medal in 2004, and the Superior Accomplishment Award in 2007. He also was awarded the Astronauts’ Silver Snoopy Award and the American Astronomical Society’s Advancement of International Cooperation Award. In 2012, he was awarded Rank of Meritorious Executive, conferred by the President of the United States. Montalbano also has earned the Boy Scouts of America rank of Eagle Scout.
The International Space Station is a hub for scientific research and technology demonstration. NASA and its partners continue to maximize use of the space station for research, where astronauts have lived and worked continuously for more than 23 years.
The Space Operations Mission Directorate, which oversees the International Space Station Program, helps maintain a continuous human presence in space for the benefit of people on Earth. The programs within the directorate are the heart of NASA’s exploration efforts, enabling Artemis, commercial space, science, and other agency missions through communication, launch services, research capabilities, and crew support.
For more information about the International Space Station, visit:
Last Updated Feb 26, 2024 LocationNASA Headquarters Related Terms
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By European Space Agency
Video: 00:03:29 Mission complete. ESA’s second European Remote Sensing (ERS-2) satellite has reentered Earth’s atmosphere over the North Pacific Ocean. The satellite returned at 18:17 CET (17:17 UTC) between Alaska and Hawaii.
ERS-2 was launched almost 30 years ago, on 21 April 1995. Together with ERS-1, it provided invaluable long-term data on Earth’s land surfaces, ocean temperatures, ozone layer and polar ice extent that revolutionised our understanding of the Earth system.
ERS-2’s reentry was ‘natural’. ESA used the last of its fuel, emptied its batteries and lowered the satellite from its altitude of 785 km to 573 km. This reduced the risk of collision with other satellites and space debris. As a result, it was not possible to control ERS-2 at any point during its reentry and the only force driving its descent was unpredictable atmospheric drag.
As well as leaving a remarkable legacy of data that still continue to advance science, this outstanding mission set the stage for many of today’s satellites and ESA’s position at the forefront of Earth observation.
The ERS-2 reentry is part of ESA's wider efforts to ensure the long-term sustainability of space activities. These include ESA's Clean Space initiative which promotes the development of new technologies for more sustainable space missions in collaboration with the wider European space community, as well as the Zero Debris Approach, which will even further reduce the debris left in both Earth and lunar orbits by future missions.
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NASA has selected Sierra Lobo Inc. of Fremont, Ohio, to support spaceflight hardware design, development, testing, and operations at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.
The Space Flight Systems Development and Operations Contract III is a cost-plus-fixed-fee contract featuring a cost-plus-fixed-fee and firm-fixed-price indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity provision with a maximum potential value of approximately $282.1 million. The 90-day phase-in period is anticipated to begin on Tuesday, Feb. 27, followed by a three-year base period and two two-year option periods.
The systems development and operations contract encompasses the development and delivery of technology development hardware and software, space flight hardware and software, ground support equipment, spares, as well as mission integration and operations, and sustaining engineering. The contractor will be responsible for the definition, design, development, analysis, fabrication, assembly, test, verification, delivery, and operation of space flight systems, associated support systems and equipment, and related ground activities, including research, science, and technology development and demonstrations.
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Glenn Research Center, Cleveland
Last Updated Feb 22, 2024 LocationNASA Headquarters Related Terms
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