NASA will launch 13 small research satellites with the unmanned Orion deep space explorer craft in the first mission of the new Space Launch System rocket that aims to eventually put humans on Mars, the agency said this week.
NASA Deputy Administrator Dava Newman gave details of the 3 pound nano-satellites, shaped like shoeboxes and called CubeSats, during a press conference at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., Tuesday.
Each CubeSat contains a lightweight payload ready to gather astronomical weather information, study deep space radiation and collect data on other destinations, including the moon and near earth asteroids. Seven of the payloads have been allocated, three are reserved for NASA’s international partners, and three will be determined by a special competition.
“The design and advanced technology that we will be flying is really setting the stage for our future human exploration,” Newman said.
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