Lockheed Martin has started the assembly, test and launch operations (ATLO) phase for NASA’s InSight Mars lander spacecraft.
The InSight mission will record the first-ever measurements of the interior of the red planet, giving scientists unprecedented detail into the evolution of Mars and other terrestrial planets. InSight is scheduled to launch in March 2016. “The InSight mission is a mix of tried-and-true and new-and-exciting. The spacecraft has a lot of heritage from Phoenix and even back to the Viking landers, but the science has never been done before at Mars,” said Stu Spath, InSight program manager at Lockheed Martin Space Systems. “Physically, InSight looks very much like the Phoenix lander we built, but most of the electronic components are similar to what is currently flying on the MAVEN spacecraft.”
Lockheed Martin Begins Final Assembly of NASA InSight Lander SpaceRef Business
NASA has selected United Launch Services LLC of Centennial, Colo., to launch the Interior Exploration Using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) mission to Mars.
InSight will launch in March 2016 aboard an Atlas V 401 rocket from Space Launch Complex 3E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
The total cost for NASA to launch InSight is approximately $160 million, including spacecraft processing, payload integration, tracking, data and telemetry and other launch support requirements.
InSight is scheduled to land on Mars in September 2016 to begin a two-year science mission.
Building on the success of Curiosity’s Red Planet landing, NASA has announced plans for a robust multi-year Mars program, including a new robotic science rover set to launch in 2020. This announcement affirms the agency’s commitment to a bold exploration program that meets our nation’s scientific and human exploration objectives.
“The Obama administration is committed to a robust Mars exploration program,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. “With this next mission, we’re ensuring America remains the world leader in the exploration of the Red Planet, while taking another significant step toward sending humans there in the 2030s.”
The planned portfolio includes the Curiosity and Opportunity rovers; two NASA spacecraft and contributions to one European spacecraft currently orbiting Mars; the 2013 launch of the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) orbiter to study the Martian upper atmosphere; the Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) mission, which will take the first look into the deep interior of Mars; and participation in ESA’s 2016 and 2018 ExoMars missions, including providing “Electra” telecommunication radios to ESA’s 2016 mission and a critical element of the premier astrobiology instrument on the 2018 ExoMars rover.
MegaFlex™ solar array was recently selected by NASA’s Space Technology Program under a Game Changing Technology competition for development of the promising lightweight and compact solar array structure. ATK received a $6.4 million contract for the MegaFlex™ development.
MegaFlex™, under development by ATK’s Space Components Division in Goleta, California, is designed specifically to meet the anticipated power demands of 350kW and higher, with very low mass and small stowed volume for future space exploration missions using solar electric propulsion.
“We are honored to win this program to develop the future space exploration power platform for NASA,” said David Shanahan, vice president and general manager of ATK Aerospace Group’s Space Components Division. “This win is a result of the outstanding innovation and capabilities of our Goleta team.”
On Aug. 20, NASA announced the selection of InSight, a new Discovery-class mission that will probe Mars at new depths by looking into the deep interior of Mars.
“We are certainly excited, but our veterans on this team know the drill,” said Tom Hoffman, project manager for InSight from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “Which is fortunate, because one of the great things we’ll get to do on Mars is drill below the surface.”
Drilling underneath the red Martian topsoil will be courtesy of InSight’s HP3, or Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package – one of the four instruments the Mars lander will carry. Made by the German Aerospace Center, or DLR, HP3 will get below Mars’ skin by literally pounding it into submission with a 14-inch (35-centimeter), hollowed-out, electromechanically-festooned stake called the Tractor Mole.