Here’s What NASA Will Launch Aboard Its New Rocket In 2018

Feb 11, 2016

Photo credit: NASA

By Mary Beth Griggs

Great things come in very small packages. When the Space Launch System–NASA’s new heavy-duty rocket–lifts off in 2018, the primary mission will be to put the uncrewed Orion capsule in a safe orbit out past the moon. (Safe being a key word here.) But the secondary part of Exploration Mission-1 will be to launch several tiny satellites, sending them out to the moon, space, and even an asteroid.

Today, NASA announced which of these CubeSats will be on that first mission.

A few, including BioSentinel and LunaH-Map, already had a spot on Exploration Mission-1, but now it’s official, and five other projects have gotten the green light as well:

  • Near Earth Asteroid Scout (NEAScout) is a reconnaissance CubeSat that is set to visit an asteroid;
  • Skyfire will map the lunar surface;
  • Lunar IceCube will look for more water on the moon;
  • CuSP is a “space weather station” that will be on the lookout for solar particles;
  • Lunar Flashlight will look for locations where there is enough ice on the moon to be of use to future crewed missions.

Flip through the gallery above to learn more about each of the seven selected satellites. All of the CubeSats on Exploration Mission-1 are tiny–roughly the size of a shoebox–and light, with some clocking in at just 30 pounds. Fitting large numbers of scientific instruments in such a small space can be a challenge.

“It’s the most complicated game of Tetris you’ve ever played,” said Leslie McNutt, the project manager of NEAScout.


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5 comments on “Here’s What NASA Will Launch Aboard Its New Rocket In 2018

  • With the reductions in size of cameras and electronics, these tiny and relatively cheap satellites can be added to larger mission launches as extra baggage using any additional capacity over and about a rocket’s main payload.
    This has given groups, businesses, and universities the opportunity to design and operate their own satellites.



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  • Technical tip: How to use the new @ function

    The new @ function allows you to address specific users, but you do need to be a little careful with it.

    It works here the same way as on Twitter, i.e. you need to use the person’s user name, which may not be the same as the display name.

    To find the user name, let your cursor hover over the name displayed beside any comment by the user in question. A long link like this will appear at the bottom of your screen:

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/members/[USER NAME]/
    

    For the @ function you just need the final bit of the link, i.e. the user name – without the / before and after.

    It is important to get it right, as otherwise the notification of your comment will be sent to the wrong person, which they will obviously find annoying!

    The mods



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  • The link appears at the bottom of the screen. If you can’t find it, just don’t use the @ function. It’s not necessary in any case. Just type the name of the person you’re replying to as normal.



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