|Wednesday / 28 June 2006|
NASA Testing Vehicles for Return to Moon. Engineers at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in Huntsville AL continue conducting tests to support the development and integration of the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) that will replace the Shuttle and carry humans back to the Moon, as well as two new rockets -- the Crew Launch Vehicle (CLV) and Cargo Launch Vehicle (CaLV). MSFC engineers have conducted 80 wind-tunnel tests on a partial model of the CLV, which "includes a portion of the upper stage, the spacecraft adaptor, the CEV and the launch abort system," according to the 26 June NASA Exploration Systems Progress Report. The wind-tunnel tests are the latest in an ongoing series of tests that began in February as part of a coordinated partnership between MSFC, Langley Research Center in Hampton VA, Ames Research Center in Mountain View CA and Boeing in St. Louis MO. Tests will continue through July at MSFC, where engineers have also completed preliminary tests of an "augmented spark igniter" for the J 2X engine, which will power the CLV upper stage and the CaLV Earth departure stage. Future J 2X tests will chill propellants to -260 degrees F (-162 C) to simulate conditions between Earth and the Moon. CLV and CaLV development is led by MSFC's Exploration Launch Projects Office, which is part of the overall Constellation Program. The Constellation Program, located at Johnson Space Center in Houston TX, is a key program of NASA Exploration Systems Mission Directorate in Washington DC. Pictured (R-L): CEV (with LSAM), CLV, CaLV.