Tag: Orbital ATK

Dawn Sets Course for Higher Orbit

Dawn Sets Course for Higher Orbit

After studying Ceres for more than eight months from its low-altitude science orbit, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will move higher up for different views of the dwarf planet.

Dawn has delivered a wealth of images and other data from its current perch at 240 miles (385 kilometers) above Ceres’ surface, which is closer to the dwarf planet than the International Space Station is to Earth. Now, the mission team is pivoting to consider science questions that can be examined from higher up.

After Dawn completed its prime mission on June 30, having surpassed all of its scientific objectives at Vesta and at Ceres, NASA extended the mission to perform new studies of Ceres. One of the factors limiting Dawn’s lifetime is the amount of hydrazine, the propellant needed to orient the spacecraft to observe Ceres and communicate with Earth. By going to a higher orbit at Ceres, Dawn will use the remaining hydrazine more sparingly, because it won’t have to work as hard to counter Ceres’ gravitational pull.

“Most spacecraft wouldn’t be able to change their orbital altitude so easily. But thanks to Dawn’s uniquely capable ion propulsion system, we can maneuver the ship to get the greatest scientific return from the mission,” said Marc Rayman, chief engineer and mission director, based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

Dawn Sets Course for Higher Orbit

On Sept. 2, Dawn will begin spiraling upward to about 910 miles (1,460 kilometers) from Ceres. The altitude will be close to where Dawn was a year ago, but the orientation of the spacecraft’s orbit — specifically, the angle between the orbit plane and the sun — will be different this time, so the spacecraft will have a different view of the surface.

The mission team is continuing to develop the extended mission itinerary and will submit a full plan to NASA next month.

Dawn’s mission is managed by JPL for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Dawn is a project of the directorate’s Discovery Program, managed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. UCLA is responsible for overall Dawn mission science. Orbital ATK Inc., in Dulles, Virginia, designed and built the spacecraft. The German Aerospace Center, Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Italian Space Agency and Italian National Astrophysical Institute are international partners on the mission team. For a complete list of mission participants.

source: world press news

Orbital ATK Target Spring 2017 for Next Cargo Mission

Orbital ATK Target Spring 2017 for Next Cargo Mission

Orbital ATK has contracted with United Launch Alliance (ULA) for an Atlas V rocket for the company’s next cargo resupply mission for NASA to the International Space Station. This will be Cygnus’ third flight atop an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Launch is targeted for spring 2017.

This mission is one of Orbital ATK’s previously awarded 11 missions under its first commercial resupply services (CRS-1) contract with NASA. Both the agency and Orbital ATK mutually agreed to use of the Atlas V in order to expedite the company’s seventh contracted resupply mission, and their CRS-1 contract was modified Nov. 8, 2016.

“We’re continuously working with all our partners on range availability, space station traffic and other factors to maximize utilization, operation of the station in a safe and effective way as we use it as our test bed for preparing for longer duration missions farther into the solar system, including the Journey to Mars,” said Kirk Shireman, manager, ISS Program at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

NASA, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport and Orbital ATK continue to work toward the next Antares launch from the agency’s Wallops Flight Facilities in Virginia. Missions from that facility will resume with Orbital ATK’s eighth and subsequent resupply missions to the station next year.

Orbital ATK launched a successful flight Oct. 17 from Wallops on its upgraded Antares. By contracting with ULA for its next flight, the company will be able to meet NASA’s near and long term cargo needs.

“The schedule provides margin flexibility for our Antares workforce, who worked tirelessly for the past several months to prepare and successfully launch the upgraded rocket from Wallops Island on our sixth contracted commercial resupply services mission,” said Frank DeMauro, vice president, Orbital ATK. “This plan also allows NASA to again capitalize on the operational flexibility built into Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft to assure the space station receives a steady and uninterrupted flow of vital supplies, equipment and scientific experiments.”

Orbital ATK Target Spring 2017 for Next Cargo Mission

NASA and its partners’ long-term planning for operating the station ensures that astronauts aboard the station are safe and have sufficient supplies. In addition to the recent Cygnus delivery to station, a Russian Progress and Japanese HTV will carry additional cargo to the orbiting laboratory before the end of the year.

NASA’s and the National Lab’s research and technology development activities continue aboard the space station. Keep up with the International Space Station, and its research and crews, at: http://www.nasa.gov/station

source:press news