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Pat Troutman and Dan Mazanek Speak to CNU LifeLong Learning Society

Pat Troutman and Dan Mazanek Speak to CNU LifeLong Learning Society

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Video YouTube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRVKtWlV4A4

Members of the Christopher Newport University LifeLong Learning Society nestled into a once-antiquated dairy barn on Sept. 11 to begin their journey into the past, present and future of human spaceflight.

It was just the beginning of a five-part lecture series called “America’s Human Space Exploration.”

Located at the Yoder Barn Theatre in Newport News, Virginia, engineers from NASA’s Langley Research Center in nearby Hampton spent 75 minutes exploring the ins and outs of America’s vision for pioneering deep space.

Society members learned how NASA plans to take astronauts into deep space, including how to capture an asteroid in the 2020s. Asteroid retrieval allows the development of technologies for planetary defense and increased spaceflight experience to prepare for missions into deep space.

“We are doing something that is so exciting that it compels inspiration in other people,” said Steve Sandford, director of Langley’s Space, Technology and Exploration Directorate.

“This deep space program is so hard to do that we have to invent new machines and technologies,” Sandford said. “That’s what generates international leadership and drives our national economic engine providing returns

NASA engineers Pat Troutman, left, and Dan Mazanek, right, speak to members of the Christopher Newport University LifeLong Learning Society about America’s vision for pioneering deep space during a five-part lecture series called “America’s Human Space Exploration.”

on our investments we can no longer afford to delay.”

Each lecture carries a similar theme:

  • Path to Mars and Asteroid Redirect Mission: The first Step – Sept. 11
  • The Next Human Spacecraft: Orion and the Launch Abort System – Sept. 18
  • Escaping Earth’s Gravity: Space Launch System – Sept. 25
  • Mars Entry, Descent, and Landing with Humans – Oct. 2
  • Spacecraft, Habitats and Radiation Protection – Oct. 9

The second and third lectures will describe the new U.S. space transportation system.

Members will learn about Orion, America’s next generation spacecraft that will carry humans into deep space, including planetary destinations like an asteroid and Mars. The spacecraft will be used to carry astronauts safely to and from space, while providing launch abort capability in the unlikely event of an emergency.

Orion’s first mission, Exploration Flight Test-1, will launch Dec. 4 and carry an unmanned spacecraft 3,600 miles into space, testing Orion’s critical safety systems and preparing it for crewed missions.

The Space Launch System (SLS), a rocket designed to be bigger than the Apollo era’s Saturn V, will carry Orion to an asteroid and eventually to Mars. Generating up to 20 percent more thrust than the Saturn, SLS will be capable of carrying many tons of cargo, equipment and explorers into deep space.

The fourth and fifth lectures will give members a glimpse into the two most difficult problems for getting humans to Mars and back: descending through the treacherous atmosphere of Mars to land on its surface, and protection from space radiation.

Sasha Congiu
NASA Langley Research Center