NASA’s New Spacecraft: NEA Scout:
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has announced that its new spacecraft, named Near-Earth Asteroid Scout or NEA Scout, has completed all required tests and has been safely tucked inside the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.
About NEA Scout:
- Near-Earth Asteroid Scout, or NEA Scout, is a miniaturized spacecraft, known as a CubeSat, developed under NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) Program.
- AES pioneers new approaches for rapidly developing prototype systems, demonstrating key capabilities, and validating operational concepts for future human missions beyond low-Earth orbit.
- Its main mission is to fly by and collect data from a near-Earth asteroid.
- It will take about two years to cruise to the asteroid and will be about 93 million miles away from Earth during the asteroid encounter.
- It will also be America’s first interplanetary mission using a special solar sail propulsion.
- So far, spacecraft have been using solar energy to power them and execute critical functions.
- This will be the first time that a spacecraft uses it as wind to generate thrust and move forward.
- It is one of several payloads that will hitch a ride on Artemis I, which is expected to be launched in November, 2021.
- Artemis I will be an uncrewed testflight of the Orion spacecraft and SLS rocket.
- It is the first in a series of increasingly complex missions that will enable human exploration to the Moon and Mars.
- NEA Scout launches to the Moon in 2021 with a fleet of other small satellites aboard Artemis 1.
- At the Moon, NEA Scout will deploy its 86-square-meter solar sail and slowly spiral out of lunar orbit.
- It will travel to a near-Earth asteroid and perform a slow fly-by, capturing up-close images of the surface.