The future for SCIFLI is very bright. The team is currently in the planning phase for several missions, while others are being considered. The group has stayed very busy and will remain very important to multiple large NASA projects.
Currently, the SCIFLI team is preparing for several upcoming missions and potential missions that will grow our expertise and experience. The first of these, in early 2018, is a combination of two drop tests of the SpaceX Dragon Crew Capsule representing what would happen if the launch abort system was required. The capsules will be transported to two different heights by balloons and then released to test parachute deployment and aerodynamics. The SCIFLI team is being asked to image the deployment of the parachutes to provide data on parachute performance and how the wake of the vehicle affects the parachute deployment.
The second of these missions will be NASA Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1) in early 2020. This is the second flight of the Orion Crew Capsule. We will be conducting imaging on the forward bay cover and parachute deployment sequence that occurs during sequence entry, descent, and landing. Following recent developments, SCIFLI has also been engaged to image the ascent of the rocket. EM-1 is set to travel further and longer and return faster and hotter than ever before with the help of the Space Launch System (SLS), the most powerful rocket in history for deep space missions. Because of these differences from past missions, SCIFLI’s imaging expertise is vital to understanding the behavior of the vehicle.
In late 2020, the SCIFLI team will potentially be contracted to image the reentry of the Hayabusa 2 satellite, a project of JAXA (the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency). Hayabusa 2 is an asteroid sample return mission, and JAXA has an agreement with NASA to image the reentry of the craft, which will be landing in Woomera, Australia.