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August 29, 2014
This Week @ NASA, August 29, 2014

“Here’s some of the stories trending This Week at NASA!”

Space Launch System milestone

On August 27, NASA announced a milestone in development of the Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket. The completion of a rigorous review known as Key Decision Point C, or KDP-C, means NASA can transition from formulation to development of the rocket that will send humans beyond Earth orbit and to Mars. KDP-C outlines a conservative development cost baseline and a launch readiness schedule based on an initial SLS flight no later than November 2018. This marks the country's first commitment to building an exploration class launch vehicle since the Space Shuttle Program.

3-D printed rocket injector test

Marshall Space Flight Center manages development of the SLS. Among the recent activities by engineers there was a hot-fire test of a 3-D printed rocket engine injector—a highly complex part that sends propellant into the engine. Using the efficient 3-D printing process, the injector was made from just two parts – compared to about 163 parts for one made with traditional manufacturing. The injector’s design is similar to those used for large engines, such as the RS-25, that will power the Space Launch System rocket.

SLS scale model test

An August 28 test firing at Marshall of a five percent scale model of the Space Launch System rocket, was conducted to provide important data on how low and high-frequency sound waves generated by the rocket’s engines and boosters affect the rocket and the crew, especially during liftoff. The data will be used by engineers at Kennedy Space Center to verify the design of the rocket's sound suppression system.

Composite fuel tank tests

The Boeing-built composite cryogenic fuel tank at Marshall -- one of the largest ever manufactured, recently completed a complex series of structural, temperature and pressure tests -- bringing the aerospace industry a step closer to designing, building, and using lightweight, composite tanks on rockets. This game-changing technology being evaluated by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate could reduce the weight of rockets by about 30 percent and cut costs by at least 25 percent.

Crossing Neptune’s orbit

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft traversed the orbit of Neptune on August 25. It is the spacecraft’s last major crossing en route to becoming the first probe to make a close flyby of Pluto in July 2015. The milestone happened on the 25th anniversary of the historic encounter of NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft with Neptune in 1989.

New Horizons: Continuing Voyager’s legacy

The New Horizons and Voyager missions were the subjects of a two-part science panel discussion also on August 25 at NASA headquarters. During the first panel, NASA scientists and officials discussed the scientific goals and expectations of the New Horizons mission, and the second event featured New Horizons science team members sharing memories of their work during the 1989 Voyager-Neptune encounter and discussing their new assignments on the Pluto mission.

Asteroid smashup

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has spotted an eruption of dust around a young star about 12-hundred light-years away, which could be the result of a smashup between large asteroids. This type of collision can eventually lead to the formation of planets. Scientists who had been regularly tracking the star noticed a huge amount of fresh dust between August 2012 and January 2013. While the suspected aftermaths of asteroid collisions have been observed by Spitzer before, this is the first time data has been collected before and after a planetary system smashup.

And that’s what’s up this week @NASA …

For more on these and other stories follow us on social media and visit www.nasa.gov/twan.

Page Last Updated: August 29th, 2014
Page Editor: Gary Daines