COLORADO SPRINGS — Aerojet Rocketdyne has studied what it would take to replace the Russian-built RD-180 and AJ-26 rocket engines used in the Atlas V and Antares launch vehicles.
The answer is at least four years, with enough money, said Julie Van Kleeck, Aerojet Rocketdyne vice president for Advanced Space & Launch Systems, when asked what it would take to develop new engines domestically if Russia shuts off the supply over the Crimean crisis.
As it develops an “extensible” program of human and robotic missions aimed at landing humans on Mars in 20 years, NASA is likely to include an in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) experiment on the nuclear-powered robotic rover it plans to send to the Red Planet in 2020.
Hoping to take advantage of its new, decade-long plan for International Space Station operations, NASA is polling industry and others for ideas on how to expand the commercial use of the orbiting outpost and begin work on commercial follow-ons to it.
A powerful solar flare forced Orbital Sciences Corp. to delay the first commercial mission of its Cygnus cargo vehicle atop the company’s new Antares rocket Wednesday, delaying delivery of 1,465 kg. of supplies and scientific gear to the International Space Station by at least a day. (Photo: NASA)
NASA’s Space Technology Program, upgraded this week into a full-fledged mission directorate at the agency’s headquarters, is funding development of an electric-thruster technology that holds promise both in propulsion for tiny cubesats and as a lightweight replacement for attitude-control and in-space propulsion systems on larger spacecraft.
Lockheed Martin will use its Space Operations Simulation Laboratory in nearby Littleton, Colo., to test full-scale mockups of the Dream Chaser in space station docking and other maneuvers. (Image: NASA)
John Shannon, the NASA human spaceflight manager who restored space shuttle operations after the disastrous Columbia crash, has joined Boeing as its International Space Station program manager. (Photo: NASA)