NASA plans to enable smaller space firms to provide services to low-Earth orbit, while the space agency works to send astronauts to destinations past the orbit of Earth. The Engineering Services Contract at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida is working to see that this goal is achieved. Image Credit: NASA / SNC

ESC Empowers: Conclusion

By Jason Rhian

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla – The challenges for the Engineering Services Contract (ESC) are growing right along with NASA’s new direction. The ESC is refurbishing the infrastructure at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. While this encompasses the “nuts and bolts” of what is required to launch spacecraft to orbit, it is not the only thing that the ESC provides the space agency. Far from it.

The ESC may be involved with the redevelopment of Launch Complex 39B, as well as the structures that support it, but the contract, managed by QinetiQ North America, also handles cutting-edge scientific research. This research could revolutionize the manner in which space flight is conducted.

Imagine spacecraft traveling to other worlds far lighter than they are today. They would refuel themselves and gain heat shields on worlds that have far less gravity than what is found here on Earth. The science conducted for NASA by the ESC could see spacecraft developed that have self-healing components that could tell astronauts the extent of the damage that their spacecraft has suffered. Both of these would save crew from conducting dangerous extravehicular activities.

Even unmanned missions benefit from the research that the ESC does—probes with the ability to refuel themselves using resources abundant on the worlds they are exploring, and space sentinels that attach themselves to wayward near-Earth-objects (asteroids or comets) and use the ice of these space wanderers as propellant to knock them off course and ensure the safety of our home.

Read more: ESC Empowers: Conclusion « AmericaSpace.

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