Marshall Space Flight Center: Missions

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About Marshall Missions

The Marshall Space Flight Center's capabilities and experience are essential to nearly every facet of NASA's mission of exploration and discovery.

The Marshall team is leading development of NASA's Space Launch System, or SLS, the next advanced, heavy-lift launch vehicle. The Space Launch System will carry human explorers, their equipment, cargo and science payloads on new missions beyond low-Earth orbit. We're also developing safe, affordable vehicles, systems and technologies, delivering the means to enable astronauts to live and work safely and more comfortably in the harsh space environment -- whether it's in the space station's active research facilities or during long-term, deep-space expeditions yet to come.

We're preparing the way for human and robotic excursions to points all across the solar system, and developing robust science missions to further our understanding of our planet and our universe. All these efforts contribute to enabling and preparing the way for long-term, high-value research and discovery missions in deep space, and to creating real benefits for the people of Earth.

Below are links to the NASA missions supported by the Marshall Center. We invite you to browse each section to learn more about the center's critical roles in each mission.

Chandra image of Cat's Eye Nebula Chandra X-ray Observatory
Marshall developed and manages NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, which probes the mysteries of space with unprecedented X-ray images that help to reveal the structure and evolution of the universe.

Artist concept of the planets Discovery
Marshall manages this program of focused scientific investigations that complement NASA's larger planetary exploration missions. Active Discovery missions are GRAIL, MESSENGER, Stardust, Deep Impact, ASPERA-3, Dawn, Kepler and Moon Mineralogy Mapper.

Glast Burst Monitor Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope
Sensitive to X-rays and gamma rays in the low-energy range, the GLAST Burst Monitor (GBM) is a complementary instrument for the Gamma-Ray Large Area Space Telescope (GLAST) dedicated to NASA’s study of high-energy gamma rays. Development of the GBM was a collaboration between Marshall and the Germany-based Max Plank Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics.

Artist concept of Solar-B during observation of the sun Hinode
A collaboration among the space agencies of Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Europe, Hinode's mission is to investigate the interaction between the sun's magnetic field and its corona. Marshall managed the development of the scientific instrumentation provided for the mission by NASA, other Federal agencies and industry and currently manages science operations.

Hurricane Elena HIRAD
The Hurricane Imaging Radiometer produces imagery of ocean wind conditions from above a hurricane during the heaviest rain and wind conditions by measuring microwave radiation emitted by the foamy froth whipped up as strong wind swirls across ocean waves. Marshall is developing HIRAD through a partnership with three universities and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

International Space Station International Space Station
Aboard the International Space Station, astronauts work to improve life on Earth and extend life beyond our home planet. Marshall supports hardware development, oxygen generation, water recovery systems, workspace nodes, and science operations for the space station.

James Webb Telescope James Webb Space Telescope
Scheduled for launch in 2013, the James Webb Space Telescope will find the first galaxies that formed in the early universe and will peer through dusty clouds to see stars forming planetary systems. Marshall conducts mirror testing for the telescope.

New Horizons image New Frontiers
Marshall manages this program which seeks to conduct frequent, medium-class spacecraft missions to explore our solar system. New Horizons, which studied Jupiter and is closing in on its long-awaited 2015 encounter with the Pluto system; Juno, which will conduct an in-depth study of Jupiter; and OSIRIS-REx -- the first U.S. mission to bring samples from an asteroid back to Earth. 

SERVIR is a regional visualization and monitoring system that integrates satellite and other geospatial data for improved decision making in disasters, ecosystems, biodiversity, weather, water, climate, oceans, health, agriculture, and energy. Marshall manages a test bed and rapid prototyping SERVIR facility and provides data analysis and forecasting support products used for disaster and environmental preparedness in Mesoamerica.

Artist concept of SLS launchingSpace Launch System, or SLS
The U.S. Space Launch System, or SLS, will provide an entirely new capability for human exploration beyond Earth orbit. It also will back up commercial and international partner transportation services to the International Space Station. Designed to be flexible for crew or cargo missions, the SLS will be safe, affordable, and sustainable.

Space Shuttle Discovery Space Shuttle
The space shuttle is the most complex machine ever built and its unique capability is instrumental in building the International Space Station. Marshall manages the external tank, main engines and solid rocket boosters.

SPORT satellite image SpoRT
The Short-term Prediction Research and Transition provides real-time data and products to the National Weather Service to help improve forecasting and save lives. The SpoRT Center is managed by Marshall scientists and is executed in concert with other government, university, and private sector partners.

Marshall Missions Contacts

Marshall Center Newsroom
Jennifer Stanfield

Marshall Education
Angela Storey

Chandra X-ray Observatory, Hinode, SERVIR, Centennial Challenges, SPoRT
Janet Anderson

Space Launch System, J-2X Engine
Kim Henry

International Space Station
Tracy McMahan

Technology Demonstration Missions
Shannon Ridinger

Marshall Diversity
Betty Humphery

Page Last Updated: December 15th, 2014
Page Editor: Brooke Boen