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Does NASA's Constellation Architecture Offer Opportunities to Achieve Multiple Additional Goals in Space?Every major NASA human spaceflight program in the last four decades has been modified to achieve goals in space not incorporated within the original design goals: the Apollo Applications Program, Skylab, Space Shuttle, and International Space Station. Several groups in the US have been identifying major future science goals, the science facilities necessary to investigate them, as well as possible roles for augmented versions of elements of NASA's Constellation program. Specifically, teams in the astronomy community have been developing concepts for very capable missions to follow the James Webb Space Telescope that could take advantage of - or require - free-space operations by astronauts and/or robots. Taking as one example, the Single-Aperture Far-InfraRed (SAFIR) telescope with a approx. 10+ m aperture proposed for operation in the 2020 timeframe. According to current NASA plans, the Ares V launch vehicle (or a variant) will be available about the same time, as will the capability to transport astronauts to the vicinity of the Moon via the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle and associated systems. [As the lunar surface offers no advantages - and major disadvantages - for most major optical systems, the expensive system for landing and operating on the lunar surface is not required.] Although as currently conceived, SAFIR and other astronomical missions will operate at the Sun-Earth L2 location, it appears trivial to travel for servicing to the more accessible Earth-Moon L1,2 locations. Moreover. as the recent Orbital Express and Automated Transfer Vehicle missions have demonstrated, future robotic capabilities should offer capabilities that would (remotely) extend human presence far beyond the vicinity of the Earth. In addition to multiplying the value of NASA's architecture for future human spaceflight to achieve the goals multiple major stakeholders. if humans one day travel beyond the Earth-Moon system - say, to Mars - technologies and capabilities for operating for long periods in free space must be developed. The engineering, management. and operational successes of the Space Station have demonstrated that international collaboratio~i is possible. However, there is a danger that the hard-won lessons of cLul+sent programs will be lost without continuing development of in-space operations. A program to achieve. for example. major astronomical goals in space using astronauts and robots will sustain international capabilities. produce highly visible achievements. and appeal to a11 additional broad community of stakeholders not currently involved with missions to the lunar surface.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Thronson, Harley
(NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD, United States)
Lester, Daniel F.
(Texas Univ. TX, United States)
Date Acquired
August 24, 2013
Publication Date
September 26, 2008
Subject Category
Lunar And Planetary Science And Exploration
Meeting Information
Royal Observatory meeting(Edinburgh, Scotland)
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