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Monday, August 26, 2013

Draper Technology on Two NASA Launches in September

CAMBRIDGE, MA-- Draper Laboratory will play a key role in two upcoming space missions to be launched in early September. The first mission is a NASA project as the agency launches a spacecraft to help better understand the composition of atmosphere of the Moon and other exospheric bodies in the solar system. The second mission is a joint NASA and Orbital Sciences Corporation mission to launch and demonstrate the capabilities of an unmanned spacecraft to deliver cargo to the International Space Station (ISS).
NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE), which is scheduled to be launched aboard a Minotaur V rocket on Sept. 6 from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, features an Ultraviolet and Visible Light Spectrometer built by Draper that will determine the composition of the lunar atmosphere by analyzing light signatures of materials that it finds, according to NASA’s website.
Approximately 10 days later, the Cygnus Advanced Maneuvering Spacecraft will be launched for the first time, also from Wallops. Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., developed Cygnus under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. It will be launched aboard Orbital’s new Antares rocket. Following the upcoming COTS Demonstration Mission, Cygnus will conduct eight operational missions to deliver cargo including crew supplies and scientific equipment to the ISS through 2016, a role previously handled by the now-retired Space Shuttle.
Draper developed the guidance and navigation systems for the Cygnus spacecraft, and provided fault tolerant computer support as well.
Draper’s contributions to these missions build on the lab’s legacy of support to NASA , which began with the Lab’s design of the Apollo guidance computer, and has continued with programs including ISS and the Space Shuttle.

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