How does NASA run space missions?
There is a long process between the idea behind a space mission and its completion.
Generally the process is something like this:
- Someone proposes a mission to NASA. If NASA accepts it, a Scientific Working
Group (SWG) develops the main science components in the mission and then sends
out an announcement to scientists who may wish to work with the scientific
information gathered by the mission.
- The SWG makes and the beginnings of a design for the spacecraft and the
mission and present to NASA headquarters. They also figure out how much it
could cost and communicate the plans to the public.
- NASA assigns teams of people to work on different parts of the spacecraft
- The spacecraft is built and tested on the ground.
- The spacecraft is launched, usually on a multi-stage launch rocket designed
to get it out of Earth's gravity well.
- The spacecraft enters or leaves Earth orbit and heads for its destination.
- NASA, through use of the Deep Space Network or other radio telescopes, stays
in contact with the spacecraft, uplinking commands and downlinking information
about the spacecraft and data about what the spacecraft is encountering.
- The spacecraft goes into "encounter" phase, where it is in contact
with something in space worth studying. It could orbit, fly by or land on
the object it is encountering. Experiments are done by the spacecraft.
- Information gathered is sent back to the scientific teams who are waiting
for it on Earth. Once the scientists have gotten results from this data, they
publish their results for other scientists to see.
Extended operations phase:
- After the primary mission is completed, the spacecraft goes into extended
operations phase. It continues to send back data until the parts to collect
or transmit such information no longer work. Generally, only missions with
people on board are brought back to Earth, though some satellites have their
orbits fail and fall to Earth.
will happen to DS1 after its done all of its objectives?
What will DS1 do on
are uplink and downlink?
How did DS1 get
How do we put a spacecraft
How does a spacecraft get to
where its going?
What is an orbit?
is NASA overseeing the DS1 mission?
is a flyby?
What's a gravity