Engineers prepare NEA Scout for integration and shipping at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Image via NASA.
NEA Scout readies for launch
Space fans still hope NASA’s long-awaited Artemis program will get off the ground before the end of this year. The ultimate mission is a human return to the moon. But that’s not the only quest of the Artemis program, which will also enable several secondary payloads to hitch a ride to space. One of these is NASA’s Near-Earth Asteroid Scout – or NEA Scout – due to launch with the uncrewed test flight Artemis 1 no earlier than November 26, 2021. NEA Scout is a shoebox-sized cubesat that will navigate space and visit a near-Earth asteroid, all while sailing on sunlight. NEA Scout’s voyage will take approximately two years. But, by its end, it’ll provide researchers with an arsenal of data on near-Earth asteroids and how solar sail propulsion works in outer space.
Les Johnson, the mission’s principal investigator at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, said:
NEA Scout will be America’s first interplanetary mission using solar sail propulsion. There have been several sail tests in Earth orbit, and we are now ready to show we ...