Tuesday, October 29, 2013

NASA Partner SpaceX Completes Review of 2014 Commercial Crew Abort Test

SpaceX Dragon commercial crew spacecraft

The SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft, as it is about to be grappled by the Canadarm2 robotic arm at the International Space Station in May 2012.

In preparation for a summer 2014 test, NASA partner Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) recently laid out its plan to demonstrate the Dragon spacecraft's ability to carry astronauts to safety in the event of an in-flight emergency.

This review of the in-flight abort test plan provided an assessment of the Dragon's SuperDraco engines, the software that would issue the abort command, and the interface between the Dragon spacecraft and the Falcon 9 rocket on which the spacecraft will be launched.

"It's critical to have a launch abort system in which NASA and SpaceX can have confidence," said Phil McAlister, director of Commercial Spaceflight Development at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "When you put humans aboard, safety and reliability are paramount and this review and the upcoming tests will help prove their space transportation system is on the right track."

Experts from NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration attended the review of the in-flight abort test plan Sept. 17 at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif. Attendees also had the opportunity to view the Dragon test spacecraft, which is being manufactured for an upcoming pad abort test and, potentially, the in-flight abort test.

"With NASA’s support, SpaceX continues to implement the necessary modifications to equip Dragon to fly crew," said Garrett Reisman, commercial crew project manager at SpaceX. "SpaceX and NASA believe in rigorous flight testing and we are looking forward to putting our SuperDraco launch abort system through these critical tests, starting with the pad abort test in the spring and followed by the in-flight abort test in the summer." 

The in-flight abort test will take place along Florida’s space coast. During the test, a Dragon spacecraft will launch on a standard Falcon 9 rocket and an abort command will be issued approximately 73 seconds into the flight. At that point, the spacecraft will be flying through the area of maximum dynamic pressure, or Max Q, where the combination of air pressure and speed will cause maximal strain on the spacecraft.

Dragon will be outfitted with about 270 special sensors to measure a wide variety of stresses and acceleration effects on the spacecraft. An instrumented mannequin, similar to a crash test dummy, also will be inside. The spacecraft's parachutes will deploy for a splashdown in the Atlantic, where a ship will be pre-positioned for simulated rescue operations. The test spacecraft will be returned to Port Canaveral by barge so data can be retrieved and incorporated into the system's design.

SpaceX is one of three companies working under NASA's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative to develop spaceflight capabilities that eventually could provide launch services to transport NASA astronauts to the International Space Station from U.S. soil.

This review was the eighth milestone for SpaceX under CCiCap. The company is on track to complete all 15 of its CCiCap milestones by the summer of 2014. All of NASA's industry partners, including SpaceX, continue to meet their established milestones in developing commercial crew transportation capabilities.

For more information about NASA's Commercial Crew Program and its aerospace industry partners, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew

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Antarctic Ozone Hole Slightly Smaller than Average This Year

The ozone hole that forms each year in the stratosphere over Antarctica was slightly smaller in 2013 than average in recent decades, according to NASA satellite data.

The ozone hole is a seasonal phenomenon that starts to form during the Antarctic spring (August and September). The September-October 2013 average size of the hole was 8.1 million square miles (21 million square kilometers). For comparison, the average size measured since the mid-1990s when the annual maximum size stopped growing is 8.7 million square miles (22.5 million square kilometers). However, the size of the hole in any particular year is not enough information for scientists to determine whether a healing of the hole has begun.

"There was a lot of Antarctic ozone depletion in 2013, but because of above average temperatures in the Antarctic lower stratosphere, the ozone hole was a bit below average compared to ozone holes observed since 1990," said Paul Newman, an atmospheric scientist and ozone expert at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

The ozone hole forms when the sun begins rising again after several months of winter darkness. Polar-circling winds keep cold air trapped above the continent, and sunlight-sparked reactions involving ice clouds and chlorine from manmade chemicals begin eating away at the ozone. Most years, the conditions for ozone depletion ease before early December when the seasonal hole closes.

Levels of most ozone-depleting chemicals in the atmosphere have gradually declined as the result of the 1987 Montreal Protocol, an international treaty to protect the ozone layer by phasing out production of ozone-depleting chemicals. As a result, the size of the hole has stabilized, with variation from year to year driven by changing meteorological conditions.

The single-day maximum area this year was reached on Sept. 16 when the maximum area reached 9.3 million square miles (24 million square kilometers), about equal to the size of North America. The largest single-day ozone hole since the mid-1990s was 11.5 million square miles (29.9 million square kilometers) on Sept. 9, 2000.

Science teams from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have been monitoring the ozone layer from the ground and with a variety of instruments on satellites and balloons since the 1970s. These ozone instruments capture different aspects of ozone depletion. The independent analyses ensure that the international community understands the trends in this critical part of Earth's atmosphere. The resulting views of the ozone hole have differences in the computation of the size of the ozone hole, its depth, and record dates.

NASA observations of the ozone hole during 2013 were produced from data supplied by the Ozone Monitoring Instrument on NASA's Aura satellite and the Ozone Monitoring and Profiler Suite instrument on the NASA-NOAA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite. Long-term satellite ozone-monitoring instruments have included the Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer, the second generation Solar Backscatter Ultraviolet Instrument, the Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment series of instruments, and the Microwave Limb Sounder.

For images of the 2013 Antarctic ozone hole, visit:

http://go.nasa.gov/HkbB8w

For more information about the ozone hole, visit:

http://ozonewatch.gsfc.nasa.gov

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NASA's Orion Spacecraft Comes to Life

Orion's avionics system was installed on the crew module and powered up for a series of systems tests at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida last week.

Orion's avionics system was installed on the crew module and powered up for a series of systems tests
at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida last week. Image credit: Lockheed Martin.

NASA's first-ever deep space craft, Orion, has been powered on for the first time, marking a major milestone in the final year of preparations for flight.

Orion's avionics system was installed on the crew module and powered up for a series of systems tests at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida last week. Preliminary data indicate Orion's vehicle management computer, as well as its innovative power and data distribution system -- which use state-of-the-art networking capabilities -- performed as expected.

All of Orion's avionics systems will be put to the test during its first mission, Exploration Flight Test-1(EFT-1), targeted to launch in the fall of 2014.

"Orion will take humans farther than we've ever been before, and in just about a year we're going to send the Orion test vehicle into space," said Dan Dumbacher, NASA's deputy associate administrator for exploration systems development in Washington. "The work we're doing now, the momentum we're building, is going to carry us on our first trip to an asteroid and eventually to Mars. No other vehicle currently being built can do that, but Orion will, and EFT-1 is the first step."

Orion provides the United States an entirely new human space exploration capability -- a flexible system that can to launch crew and cargo missions, extend human presence beyond low-Earth orbit, and enable new missions of exploration throughout our solar system.

EFT-1 is a two-orbit, four-hour mission that will send Orion, uncrewed, more than 3,600 miles above the Earth's surface --15 times farther than the International Space Station. During the test, Orion will return to Earth, enduring temperatures of 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit while traveling 20,000 miles per hour, faster than any current spacecraft capable of carrying humans. The data gathered during the flight will inform design decisions, validate existing computer models and guide new approaches to space systems development. The information gathered from this test also will aid in reducing the risks and costs of subsequent Orion flights.

"It’s been an exciting ride so far, but we're really getting to the good part now," said Mark Geyer, Orion program manager. "This is where we start to see the finish line. Our team across the country has been working hard to build the hardware that goes into Orion, and now the vehicle and all our plans are coming to life."

Throughout the past year, custom-designed components have been arriving at Kennedy for installation on the spacecraft -- more than 66,000 parts so far. The crew module portion already has undergone testing to ensure it will withstand the extremes of the space environment. Preparation also continues on the service module and launch abort system that will be integrated next year with the Orion crew module for the flight test.

The completed Orion spacecraft will be installed on a Delta IV heavy rocket for EFT-1. NASA is also developing a new rocket, the Space Launch System, which will power subsequent missions into deep space, beginning with Exploration Mission-1 in 2017.

For information about Orion and EFT-1, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/orion

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NASA Prepares to Launch First Mission to Explore Martian Atmosphere

The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, or MAVEN, spacecraft

Oct. 21, 2013 -- Inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, engineers and technicians perform a spin test of the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, or MAVEN, spacecraft. The operation is designed to verify that MAVEN is properly balanced as it spins during the initial mission activities. (NASA)

A NASA spacecraft that will examine the upper atmosphere of Mars in unprecedented detail is undergoing final preparations for a scheduled 1:28 p.m. EST Monday, Nov. 18 launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission (MAVEN) will examine specific processes on Mars that led to the loss of much of its atmosphere. Data and analysis could tell planetary scientists the history of climate change on the Red Planet and provide further information on the history of planetary habitability.

"The MAVEN mission is a significant step toward unraveling the planetary puzzle about Mars' past and present environments," said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. "The knowledge we gain will build on past and current missions examining Mars and will help inform future missions to send humans to Mars."

The 5,410-pound spacecraft will launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 rocket on a 10-month journey to Mars. After arriving at Mars in September 2014, MAVEN will settle into its elliptical science orbit.

Over the course of its one-Earth-year primary mission, MAVEN will observe all of Mars' latitudes. Altitudes will range from 93 miles to more than 3,800 miles. During the primary mission, MAVEN will execute five deep dip maneuvers, descending to an altitude of 78 miles. This marks the lower boundary of the planet's upper atmosphere.

"Launch is an important event, but it's only a step along the way to getting the science measurements," said Bruce Jakosky, principal investigator at the University of Colorado, Boulder's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (CU/LASP) in Boulder. "We're excited about the science we'll be doing, and are anxious now to get to Mars."

The MAVEN spacecraft will carry three instrument suites. The Particles and Fields Package, provided by the University of California at Berkeley with support from CU/LASP and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., contains six instruments to characterize the solar wind and the ionosphere of Mars. The Remote Sensing Package, built by CU/LASP, will determine global characteristics of the upper atmosphere and ionosphere. The Neutral Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer, built by Goddard, will measure the composition of Mars’ upper atmosphere.

"When we proposed and were selected to develop MAVEN back in 2008, we set our sights on Nov. 18, 2013, as our first launch opportunity," said Dave Mitchell, MAVEN project manager at Goddard. "Now we are poised to launch on that very day. That's quite an accomplishment by the team."
MAVEN's principal investigator is based at CU/LASP. The university provided science instruments and leads science operations, as well as education and public outreach, for the mission.

Goddard manages the project and provided two of the science instruments for the mission. Lockheed Martin built the spacecraft and is responsible for mission operations. The University of California at Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory provided science instruments for the mission. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., provides navigation support, Deep Space Network support, and Electra telecommunications relay hardware and operations.

For more information about the MAVEN mission, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/maven

and

http://lasp.colorado.edu/home/maven/

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NASA Administrator Visits Stennis to Commend Employee Efforts

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden visited Stennis Space Center in Mississippi Wednesday to welcome employees back to work after the U.S. government shutdown and thank them for their ongoing commitment to the nation’s space program.

Bolden held separate meetings with Stennis and NASA Shared Services Center (NSSC) employees. At Stennis, he also toured the B-2 Test Stand, which is being prepared to test the core stage of NASA’s new Space Launch System (SLS). NASA is building the SLS to carry humans deeper into space than ever before.

"Stennis continues to demonstrate that the road to space goes through Mississippi," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "I applaud the center's continued work to help bring about a new era of exploration through its commercial partnerships and the ongoing essential work it does for us in testing new propulsion systems. I also salute the personnel of the NASA Shared Services Center, housed at Stennis, for the superb contingency support they provided the agency during the recent government shutdown.  It's my pleasure to visit the Stennis and NSSC workforces and thank them for holding the fort during the shutdown and ensuring our forward progress."

Stennis employees returned to work Oct. 17 following a 16-day furlough. Their focus quickly returned to efforts critical to the future of American space exploration.

"It always is an honor to host the NASA administrator," Stennis Director Rick Gilbrech said. "We deeply appreciate his affirmation of our team and its support of NASA’s deep-space and commercial spaceflight initiatives and pledge ourselves to ongoing excellence in all those efforts."

"We have always understood the work provided by the NASA Shared Services Center is crucial to the agency's mission," said NSSC Executive Director Michael Smith. "However, situations like the recent furlough shed a spotlight on the hard work and dedication of NSSC employees who stop at nothing to get the job done, even under strenuous circumstances."

Bolden’s visit came the day a new commercial engine test agreement for Stennis was announced. Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant announced the Mississippi Development Authority has entered into agreement with Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) to provide initial testing of the company’s Raptor methane rocket engines at Stennis. Testing is expected to begin in early 2014.

Along with this new commercial testing, Stennis is continuing to test Aerojet Rocketdyne AJ26 rocket engines for Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., which has partnered with NASA to provide commercial cargo flights to the International Space Station. Orbital’s maiden flight to the space station launched from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia Sept. 18. Orbital's Antares rocket was powered by a pair of AJ26 engines -- E9 and E12 -- tested at Stennis May 3, 2012 and Jan. 18, respectively.

Orbital’s Cygnus capsule connected to the space station Sept. 30. It detached from the space station successfully Tuesday after completing delivery of its cargo. Orbital has a contract through NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services initiative to launch eight cargo missions to the space station.

Other companies also have tested their propulsion systems at Stennis. Blue Origin has conducted testing at the center's E-1 Test Stand. Stennis also has leased the B-1 Test Stand to Aerojet Rocketdyne for testing of its RS-68 engine. The RS-68 in a Delta IV heavy-lift rocket will power the first flight test of NASA's Orion multipurpose crew vehicle in 2014.

In addition to this commercial testing, the A-1 Test Stand at Stennis is being readied to test the RS-25 engine that will power the SLS. The B-2 Test Stand also is being modified to test the SLS core stage, which will involve firing four RS-25 engines simultaneously

For information about Stennis Space Center, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/stennis

For information about NASA programs and missions, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov

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NASA Awards Bridge Contract for Multidisciplinary Engineering and Technical Services

NASA has awarded a bridge contract to AS and D Inc. of Greenbelt, Md., for continued multidisciplinary engineering and technical services until a follow-on contract is awarded at the agency's Goddard Space Flight Center, also in Greenbelt.

Known as Multidisciplinary Engineering and Technical Services II Bridge (METS 2 Bridge), this is a cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite delivery-indefinite quantity contract with an ordering value ranging from a minimum of $5 million to a maximum of $90 million and a period of performance extending from Oct. 22 through April 30, 2015. There is one $20 million option for a one-year extension through Sept. 30, 2015.

AS & D Inc. will continue its systems engineering support for several operating divisions in Goddard's Applied Engineering and Technology Directorate, including mechanical systems; software management; instrument systems and technology; electrical engineering; and mission engineering and systems analysis. This support includes the formulation, design, development, flight and non-flight fabrication, integration, test, verification, and operation of components, subsystems, systems, science instruments, and complete spacecraft for multiple projects.

Task orders issued under the METS 2 Bridge contract provide critical support to a wide range of NASA programs and projects including the James Webb Space Telescope; the Magnetosphere Multiscale mission; the Global Precipitation Measurement mission; Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites; the Ice, Cloud, Land Elevation Satellite II/Atlas mission; and the Mars Atmosphere Volatile Evolution mission.

For information about NASA and agency programs, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov

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NASA Hosts NASA TV News Briefing on Upcoming Mars Mission

NASA will host a news briefing at 2 p.m. EDT Monday, Oct. 28, to discuss the upcoming launch of the agency's next mission to Mars and the first devoted to understanding the upper atmosphere of the Red Planet.

The briefing on the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission will take place at NASA Headquarters, 300 E St. SW in Washington, and air live on NASA Television and the agency's website.

MAVEN is scheduled to launch at 1:28 p.m. EST Nov. 18 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. MAVEN's data will be used to study the history and change of Mars’ atmosphere, climate, and planetary habitability.
Briefing participants are:

- John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters, Washington
- Jim Green, director, Planetary Science Division, Headquarters
- Lisa May, MAVEN program executive, Headquarters
- Kelly Fast, MAVEN program scientist, Headquarters
- Bruce Jakosky, MAVEN principal investigator, University of Colorado Boulder Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics
- David Mitchell, MAVEN project manager, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

Journalists unable to attend in person may ask questions from participating NASA locations, join by phone, or send questions via Twitter using the hashtag #askNASA. To participate by phone, reporters must contact Steve Cole at stephen.e.cole@nasa.gov with their media affiliation by 1 p.m. Monday.

For NASA TV streaming video, downlink and scheduling information, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv

For more information about the mission, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/maven

and

http://lasp.colorado.edu/home/maven/

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Media Invited to NASA Google+ Hangout Briefing on Antarctic Ice Campaign

Antarctic Mission Google+ Hangout

NASA will host a live Google+ Hangout news conference on Tuesday, Oct. 29 at 3 p.m. EDT about Operation IceBridge's upcoming airborne field campaign in Antarctica.

This is the first year IceBridge will operate directly from Antarctica, flying from McMurdo Station starting in mid-November instead of from southern Chile. This change will allow IceBridge researchers to survey parts of Antarctica previously unavailable to them since the mission began in 2009.

IceBridge is a multi-year NASA science mission to study ice conditions at both poles. The mission's survey flights gather data on changes in ice elevation and thickness and measure the shape of bedrock and water cavities beneath ice using a suite of scientific instruments. The mission provides critical measurements that bridge the gap between observations supplied by NASA's Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite, or ICESat, and the upcoming ICESat-2.

Panelists for this briefing are:

-- Michael Studinger, IceBridge project scientist, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
-- Christy Hansen, IceBridge project manager, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
-- Chad Naughton, project manager, National Science Foundation's U.S. Antarctic Program, Centennial, Colo.

The Hangout will be broadcast on NASA Goddard's Google+ and YouTube pages and carried live on NASA Television and the agency's website. Journalists can submit questions via comments on these pages or on Twitter using the hashtag #IceBridge.

To join the Hangout, visit:

http://go.nasa.gov/HjmQOk

For NASA TV downlink, schedule and streaming video information, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv

For more information about Operation IceBridge, visit:

www.nasa.gov/icebridge

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NASA's Great Observatories Begin Deepest Ever Probe of the Universe

NASA's Hubble, Spitzer and Chandra space telescopes are teaming up to look deeper into the universe than ever before. With a boost from natural "zoom lenses" found in space, they should be able to uncover galaxies that are as much as 100 times fainter than what these three great observatories typically can see.

In an ambitious collaborative program called The Frontier Fields, astronomers will make observations over the next three years of six massive galaxy clusters, exploiting a natural phenomenon known as gravitational lensing, to learn not only what is inside the clusters but also what is beyond them. The clusters are among the most massive assemblages of matter known, and their gravitational fields can be used to brighten and magnify more distant galaxies so they can be observed.

"The Frontier Fields program is exactly what NASA's great observatories were designed to do; working together to unravel the mysteries of the Universe" said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. "Each observatory collects images using different wavelengths of light with the result that we get a much deeper understanding of the underlying physics of these celestial objects."

The first object they will view is Abell 2744, commonly known as Pandora's Cluster. The giant galaxy cluster appears to be the result of a simultaneous pile-up of at least four separate, smaller galaxy clusters that took place over a span of 350 million years.

Astronomers anticipate these observations will reveal populations of galaxies that existed when the universe was only a few hundred million years old, but have not been seen before.

"The idea is to use nature's natural telescopes in combination with the great observatories to look much deeper than before and find the most distant and faint galaxies we can possibly see," said Jennifer Lotz, a principal investigator with the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Md.

Data from the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes will be combined to measure the galaxies' distances and masses more accurately than either observatory could measure alone, demonstrating their synergy for such studies.

"We want to understand when and how the first stars and galaxies formed in the universe, and each great observatory gives us a different piece of the puzzle," said Peter Capak, the Spitzer principal investigator for the Frontier Fields program. "Hubble tells you which galaxies to look at and how many stars are being born in those systems. Spitzer tells you how old the galaxy is and how many stars have formed."

The Chandra X-ray Observatory also will peer deep into the star fields. It will image the clusters at X-ray wavelengths to help determine their mass and measure their gravitational lensing power, and identify background galaxies hosting supermassive black holes.

High-resolution Hubble data from the Frontier Fields program will be used to trace the distribution of dark matter within the six massive foreground clusters. Accounting for the bulk of the universe's mass, dark matter is the underlying invisible scaffolding attached to galaxies.

Hubble and Spitzer have studied other deep fields with great success. The Frontier Fields researchers anticipate a challenge because the distortion and magnification caused by the gravitational lensing phenomenon will make it difficult for them to understand the true properties of the background galaxies.

For images and more information about The Frontier Fields, visit:

http://hubblesite.org/news/2013/44

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NASA Laser Communication System Sets Record with Data Transmissions to and from Moon

NASA's Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) has made history using a pulsed laser beam to transmit data over the 239,000 miles between the moon and Earth at a record-breaking download rate of 622 megabits per second (Mbps).

LLCD is NASA's first system for two-way communication using a laser instead of radio waves. It also has demonstrated an error-free data upload rate of 20 Mbps transmitted from the primary ground station in New Mexico to the spacecraft currently orbiting the moon.

"LLCD is the first step on our roadmap toward building the next generation of space communication capability," said Badri Younes, NASA's deputy associate administrator for space communications and navigation (SCaN) in Washington. "We are encouraged by the results of the demonstration to this point, and we are confident we are on the right path to introduce this new capability into operational service soon."

Since NASA first ventured into space, it has relied on radio frequency (RF) communication. However, RF is reaching its limit as demand for more data capacity continues to increase. The development and deployment of laser communications will enable NASA to extend communication capabilities such as increased image resolution and 3-D video transmission from deep space.

"The goal of LLCD is to validate and build confidence in this technology so that future missions will consider using it," said Don Cornwell, LLCD manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "This unique ability developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Lincoln Laboratory has incredible application possibilities."

LLCD is a short-duration experiment and the precursor to NASA's long-duration demonstration, the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD). LCRD is a part of the agency's Technology Demonstration Missions Program, which is working to develop crosscutting technology capable of operating in the rigors of space. It is scheduled to launch in 2017.

LLCD is hosted aboard NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE), launched in September from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va. LADEE is a 100-day robotic mission operated by the agency's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif. LADEE's mission is to provide data that will help NASA determine whether dust caused the mysterious glow astronauts observed on the lunar horizon during several Apollo missions. It also will explore the moon's atmosphere. Ames designed, developed, built, integrated and tested LADEE, and manages overall operations of the spacecraft. NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington funds the LADEE mission.

The LLCD system, flight terminal and primary ground terminal at NASA's White Sands Test Facility in Las Cruces, N.M., were developed by the Lincoln Laboratory at MIT. The Table Mountain Optical Communications Technology Laboratory operated by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., is participating in the demonstration. A third ground station operated by the European Space Agency on Tenerife in the Canary Islands also will be participating in the demonstration.

For more information about LLCD, visit:

http://llcd.gsfc.nasa.gov

For more information about the LADEE mission, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/ladee

For more information about LCRD, visit:

http://esc.gsfc.nasa.gov/267/LCRD.html

For more information about SCaN, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/scan

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