NASA’s low-Earth orbiting rockets get hardware boost
What in news:
ü Engineers have now assembled the first major piece of core stage hardware for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket which is designed to herald a new era of exploration beyond low-Earth orbit.
ü Engineers have now assembled the first major piece of core stage hardware for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket
ü It is designed to herald a new era of exploration beyond low-Earth orbit, launching crew and cargo on deep space exploration missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond.
ü It now is ready to be joined with other hardware for Exploration Mission-1, the first integrated flight of SLS and the Orion spacecraft.
ü The 212-foot-tall core stage, referred to as the “backbone” of the rocket by NASA, will contain the SLS rocket’s four RS-25 rocket engines, propellant tanks, flight computers and much more.
ü Though the smallest part of the core stage, the forward skirt will serve two critical roles.
ü It will connect the upper part of the rocket to the core stage and house many of the flight computers, or avionics.
ü “Completion of the core stage forward skirt is a major step in NASA’s progress to the launch pad.
ü We’re putting into practice the steps and processes needed to assemble the largest rocket stage ever built.
ü With the forward skirt, we are improving and refining how we’ll conduct final assembly of the rest of the rocket.
ü As part of forward skirt testing, the flight computers came to life for the first time as NASA engineers tested critical avionic systems that will control the rocket’s flight.
ü Located throughout the core stage, the avionics are the rocket’s “brains,” controlling navigation and communication during launch and flight.
ü It is critical that each of the avionics units is installed correctly, work as expected and communicate with each other and other components, including the Orion spacecraft and ground support systems.
ü “It was amazing to see the computers come to life for the first time,” said Lisa Espy, lead test engineer for SLS core stage avionics.
Ø Orbit: An orbit is a regular, repeating path that one object in space takes around another one
Ø Heliocentric orbit: An orbit around the Sun. In the Solar System, all planets, comets, and asteroids are in such orbits, as are many artificial satellites and pieces of space debris.
Ø Geocentric orbit: An orbit around the planet Earth, such as that of the Moon or of artificial satellites.
Ø Low Earth orbit (LEO):Low earth orbits (LEO) are satellite systems used in telecommunication, which orbit between 400 and 1,000 miles above the earth's surface.
Ø Geosynchronous orbit (GSO): A geosynchronous orbit is a high Earth orbit that allows satellites to match Earth's rotation. Located at 22,236 miles (35,786 kilometers) above
Ø Geostationary orbit (GEO): A geostationary orbit, often referred to as a geosynchronous equatorial orbit (GEO), is a circular geosynchronous orbit 35,786 km (22,236 mi) above Earth's equator and following the direction of Earth's rotation.
Geostationary orbits are also geosynchronous,
but not all geosynchronous orbits are geostationary. ·
A geostationary orbit stays exactly above
the equator, whereas a geosynchronous orbit may swing north and south to
cover more of the Earth's surface. ·
Both complete one full orbit of Earth per
· Geostationary orbits are also geosynchronous, but not all geosynchronous orbits are geostationary.
· A geostationary orbit stays exactly above the equator, whereas a geosynchronous orbit may swing north and south to cover more of the Earth's surface.
· Both complete one full orbit of Earth per sidereal day
Ø Polar orbit:An orbit that passes above or nearly above both poles of the planet on each revolution. Therefore, it has an inclination of (or very close to) either 90 degrees or -90 degrees.
Ø Polar Sun-synchronous orbit (SSO): A nearly polar orbit that passes the equator at the same local solar time on every pass. Useful for image-taking satellites because shadows will be the same on every pass.
Ø Geostationary or Geosynchronus Transfer orbit (GTO):An elliptic orbit where the perigee is at the altitude of a low Earth orbit (LEO) and the apogee at the altitude of a geostationary orbit.
Expected prelims question:
Communication satellites are generally placed in
a) Low earth orbit
b) Middle earth orbit
c) High earth orbit
d) None of the above
Ans - a
Expected mains question: