MAVEN mission primary structure complete

Sep 26, 2011
The core structure of the MAVEN spacecraft under construction at Lockheed Martin in Denver, Colo. Credit: Lockheed Martin

NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) mission has reached a new milestone. Lockheed Martin has completed building the primary structure of the MAVEN spacecraft at its Space Systems Company facility near Denver.

"It's always a significant milestone when the project moves from a paper design to real hardware and software," said Guy Beutelschies, MAVEN program manager at Company. "Seeing the core structure really reinforces the fact that MAVEN is no longer just a set of ideas that scientists and engineers have come up with, it is starting to become a spacecraft."

In mid October, the structure will be moved to Lockheed Martin's Structures Test Lab and undergo static load testing, which simulates and tests the many dynamic loads the spacecraft will experience during launch.

Despite the primary structure's light weight, it's designed to support the entire spacecraft mass during the launch, which applies an equivalent axial force at the interface of approximately 61,000 pounds when including accelerations up to 6 Gs. After completion of the static tests, the structure will be moved into a clean room to start propulsion subsystem integration. The Assembly, Test and Launch Operations (ATLO) phase begins July 2012.

"There's still a lot of work to go before we have the complete spacecraft, but this is a major step in getting us to the in two years," said Bruce Jakosky, MAVEN principal investigator from the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Physics at the University of Colorado. "All of the team's hard work now will pay off when we get to Mars and see the science results."

The goal of MAVEN is to determine the role that loss of atmospheric gas to space played in changing the Martian climate through time. MAVEN will determine how much of the has been lost over time by measuring the current rate of escape to space and gathering enough information about the relevant processes to allow extrapolation backward in time.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. manages the project and will also build some of the instruments for the mission. In addition to the principal investigator coming from CU-LASP, the university will provide science operations, build instruments, and lead education/public outreach. Lockheed Martin of Littleton, Colo., is building the spacecraft and will perform mission operations. The University of California-Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory is also building instruments for the mission. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., will provide navigation support, the Deep Space Network, and the Electra telecommunications relay hardware and operations.

Explore further: SpaceX ship leaves ISS for Earth loaded with lab results

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

MAVEN mission completes major milestone

Jul 22, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) mission reached a major milestone last week when it successfully completed its Mission Critical Design Review (CDR).

NASA selects CU-Boulder to lead $485M Mars mission

Sep 15, 2008

In the largest research contract ever awarded to the University of Colorado at Boulder, the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics has been selected by NASA to lead a $485 million orbiting space mission ...

NASA mission asks why Mars has no atmosphere

Oct 07, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA this week gave the green light to a mission to Mars that will seek to understand why and how the red planet lost its atmosphere 3-4 billion years ago.

Juno Taking Shape in Denver

Apr 06, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Assembly has begun on NASA's Juno spacecraft, which will help scientists understand the origin and evolution of Jupiter. The mission, whose principal investigator is Scott Bolton of Southwest ...

Recommended for you

Hinode satellite captures X-ray footage of solar eclipse

Oct 24, 2014

The moon passed between the Earth and the sun on Thursday, Oct. 23. While avid stargazers in North America looked up to watch the spectacle, the best vantage point was several hundred miles above the North ...

User comments : 0