NASA Glenn managed the Centaur program for 35 years.
CLEVELAND — A thriller has been solved.
Astronomers found an object again in September floating in house. This week, the merchandise, referred to as 2020 SO, got here shut sufficient to the Earth for NASA to verify that it was the higher stage of a rocket launched in 1966. And this rocket has a robust connection to Cleveland.
It’s a Centaur higher stage rocket, used to launch objects into Earth orbit, to the Moon, and even to Mars.
“I feel it’s actually cool and fairly neat. Particularly for me. I labored on Centaur early in my NASA profession within the 1980s,” stated Scott Graham the Area Flight Techniques Directorate at NASA Glenn Analysis Middle.
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“There are various, many dozens of Centaur higher phases which are in numerous orbits across the Earth or across the solar,” said Graham.
The one from 54 years in the past is headed again across the solar and gained’t meet up with the Earth till 2036.
Again within the 1960s, the primary take a look at flight of the Centaur exploded. That’s the place NASA Lewis– now NASA Glenn– took over this system.
“At Glenn Analysis Middle we’re closely concerned with pioneering using liquid hydrogen as rocket gasoline,” said Graham.
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With the brand new rocket gasoline, the Centaur higher stage would turn out to be a hit, and launched the Surveyor missions. Robotic landers have been despatched to the moon to collect essential information earlier than the Apollo missions. What was found floating in house was the Centaur higher stage from the Surveyor 2 mission, launched September 20th, 1966.
The Centaur is cylinder-shaped, 10 ft in diameter, and 30 ft lengthy.
“It is metallic. Chrome steel so it is rather shiny when the solar hits it good it illuminates it and makes it’s seen to telescopes and different observers right here on Earth,” stated Graham.
NASA Glenn would handle the Centaur program for 35 years and it turned one of many longest-running applications in NASA historical past. The rocket continues for use right this moment to launch Mars probes and future lunar lander missions.
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