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Images: A moon shot on the way to Mars

NASA hands out assignments for the man-on-the-moon Constellation project, to be followed by a mission to Mars.
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Topic: Innovation
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1 of 12 Bill Detwiler/ZDNet

Moon rockets

NASA took a big step Monday toward sending astronuts to the moon and beyond by handing out work assignments for Project Constellation. The goal of the project is to send astronauts back to the moon and is seen by NASA as just a step toward mankind's next giant leap--Mars.

The Kennedy Space Center in Florida will be responsible for the ground operations of the launch and landing sites. The bigger rocket will blast the mission's cargo into Earth orbit and the smaller one will carry the astronauts and the vehicle that will land on the moon.

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Mission control

The Johnson Space Center in Houston will be the base for mission control, and for overall management of Project Constellation. In this photo from 1970, engineers discover that the spacecraft in the Apollo 13 mission--an early and aborted lunar landing effort--is leaking oxygen.

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Crew launch

The Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., will design the Crew Launch Vehicle's first stage and is responsible for launch vehicle testing.

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Orbiter sections

The Glenn Research Center in Cleveland will be responsible for the Crew Exploration Vehicle service module. The agency will develop the propulsion system, the solar arrays for the power system, and the heat rejection radiators for keeping the vehicle cool.

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Goddard

The Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., will oversee communications, tracking and support mechanisms for the Crew Exploration Vehicle.

Recently, Goddard developed a detector that can see invisible infrared light in a range of "colors," or wavelengths. In this image, warmer temperatures are orange and cooler temperatures are red. Note the thermal handprint on the lab coat as the technician removes her hand from her pocket.

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Launch to moon

The NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton Roads, Va., will be responsible for the abort systems.

In this artist's rendering, a rocket assembled in Earth orbit takes off for the moon--or Mars.

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X-48B

Also at Langley, a separate NASA project involves wind-tunnel testing for the subscale X-48B Blended Wing Body prototype. It's being developed by Boeing Phantom Works, NASA and the Air Force Research Laboratory.

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Cargo launch

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., will lead the Mission Operations Project to plan systems engineering processes. Here is an artist's conception of the cargo launch.

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Rocket science

The Mississippi-based Stennis Space Center will test the rockets for Project Constellation. The first engine to be tested will be the J-2X, which will power the upper stage of the Crew Launch Vehicle. Here a small engine is being tested at Stennis.

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Shuttle engine

Want to work on the shuttle engine? It's a little more involved than tinkering under the hood of a vintage Mustang.

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Heat testing

NASA's Ames Research Center, at Moffet Field, Calif., will be responsible for the thermal protection systems and information technology for Project Constellation. Ames will be developing the heat shield and aeroshell for the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV). Here's more about the Ames facility.

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X-15

The Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards, Calif., will do the research on the abort systems, drop tests, landing and recovery tests, flight re-entry and landing profiles, and range safety.

Dryden rose to fame with its testing programs of the '50s and '60s. Many of the first astronauts were test pilots at Dryden. This 1959 photo shows the X-15 being launched by a high-altitude bomber.

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