Blue Origin is one of the commercial space agencies that are working towards revolutionizing space exploration in the future. Based on the progress the space agency has achieved so far, NASA entrusted Blue Origin’s operations and recently contracted it for a Mars Mission. This new Mars Mission is known as Escape and Plasma Acceleration and Dynamics Explorers (ESCAPADE) and it will be launched in late 2024. What is NASA’s objective for this mission? How will Blue Origin Launch the Twin Spacecraft? Continue reading to find out.
NASA’s objective for the ESCAPADE Mars Mission?
NASA hopes to study Mars Magnetosphere using its ESCAPADE twin spacecraft. Generally, the magnetosphere is referred to as the magnetized region of space surrounding a planet. NASA planned on sending two identical small spacecraft to study this area of the red planet and provide simultaneous two-point observations.
Scientists will use the data obtained from this mission to improve their knowledge of how the magnetosphere interacts with the solar wind. They will also understand how energy and plasma come in and escapes the magnetosphere and learn more about space weather.
NASA’s engineers built each satellite to carry three sophisticated instruments which include an electrostatic analyzer for measuring ions and electrons, a magnetometer to measure the magnetic field and a Langmuir probe for measuring plasma density, and solar extreme ultraviolet flux.
How Blue Origin Will Launch the Twin Spacecraft
NASA recently awarded Blue Origin a contract of providing a launch service for its ESCAPADE mission which is part of NASA’s Venture-Class Acquisition of Dedication and Rideshare (VADR) launch service contract. Blue Origin is one of the 13 companies selected by NASA for the VADR contract in 2022.
The commercial space agency has reached space several times with its New Shepard Space vehicle. However, the agency will not be launching the ESCAPADE spacecraft with this rocket. In late 2024, Blue Origin will be launching the ESCAPADE mission atop its New Glenn rocket from Space Launch Complex-36 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
Upon launch, it will take the spacecraft about 11 months to reach Mars after escaping Earth’s orbit. When the ESCAPADE twin spacecraft arrives in Mars’s orbit, they will spend several months adjusting their orbits to ensure that they are in the perfect position to capture the best data about the magnetosphere.
Learning about Mars magnetospheres will enable our scientists to learn more about space weather and come up with solutions on how to protect astronauts and satellites as they explore the solar system in the future. NASA included the ESCAPADE mission as part of its Small Innovative Missions for Planetary Exploration Program.
This implies that scientists will heavily depend on the data obtained from this mission in planning for future crewed and uncrewed missions to the red planet and beyond. This mission will also enable scientists to learn why Mars lost its atmosphere and got so dry billions of years ago.
NASA revealed that its VADR contracts will create new opportunities for science and technology payloads and also foster the growth of the U.S. commercial launch market.
“VADR provides FAA-licensed commercial launch services for payloads that can tolerate higher risk,” NASA wrote in a statement. “By using a lower level of mission assurance, and commercial best practices for launching rockets, these highly flexible contracts help broaden access to space through lower launch costs.”
Blue Origin is looking forward to launching NASA’s twin spacecraft using its New Glenn Space vehicle in 2024. The outcome of this mission will determine the future of the New Glenn Rocket in launching other payloads for NASA and other agencies. What do you think about the ESCAPADE mission?