NASA Deep-Space Program Gaining Focus

By Frank Morring, Jr.
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology

October 22, 2012

Frank Morring, Jr. Huntsville, Ala.

In an election year, with a “fiscal cliff” looming that could whack NASA’s budget by $1.7 billion, U.S. space officials are not eager to declare a new destination in space for human crews just yet.

But once the post-election dust clears, and Congress decides how to handle the funding-sequestration box it created in lieu of making difficult deficit-reduction choices publicly, work underway here and in other space communities around the nation is likely to give some focus to NASA’s next steps into the Solar System.

Engineers at Marshall Space Flight Center are using a medium-fidelity mockup cobbled together from scrap space hardware to run human-factors tests and equipment fit checks on one of the missing pieces in NASA’s human-exploration planning—somewhere for deep-space crews to live. They are working with experts at Johnson Space Center in Houston, under the leadership of astronaut Alvin Drew.

At the Fifth Wernher von Braun Memorial Symposium here Oct. 15-18, industry and NASA field-center engineers outlined other projects that are beginning to flesh out a notional architecture that would use cislunar space to practice for travel deeper into the Solar System.

Read more: NASA Deep-Space Program Gaining Focus — Aviation Week & Space Technology.

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