NASA has signed a $187 million contract with Northrop Grumman to complete the preliminary design of a pressurized crew habitat for the planned Gateway mini-space station near the moon, and agency officials have discussed new details about plans to launch first two Gateway modules on a single heavy-lift rocket.
Aiming to reduce risk and costs, NASA has decided to launch the first two modules of the Gateway station in lunar orbit on the same heavy-lift rocket in 2023, rather than fly them on separate rockets and dock them together in deep space, according to the the agency’s chief human spaceflight manager.
NASA expects to select a launch vehicle next year to carry the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope — a multibillion-dollar flagship astrophysics observatory targeted for cancellation by the Trump administration — into space in 2025 after the mission passed a key review last month, agency officials said.
The sixth and final satellite in the U.S. military’s network of ultra-secure, nuclear-hardened AEHF communications relay stations has arrived in Florida for final preparations for liftoff in March on a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket, the first of nearly 20 U.S. Space Force missions planned for launch in the first year of operations for the new military service.
With construction already underway at Kennedy Space Center’s launch pad 39A on facilities for SpaceX’s next-generation Starship vehicle, another new fixture could soon rise at the seaside launch complex to satisfy U.S. military requirements to vertically integrate sensitive top secret spy satellites with Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets.
After assessing any damage to the spaceport caused by Hurricane Dorian as it narrowly missed Florida’s east coast, NASA says the Kennedy Space Center will reopen for normal operations Friday. Teams rolled the Space Launch System’s mobile launch platform from pad 39B back into the cavernous Vehicle Assembly Building last week for safekeeping during the storm.