NASA Kennedy Teams Test High-Speed Cameras for Artemis II Mission 

Credits: NASA

Teams with NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems Program have completed the next series of integrated ground systems testing at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. On Jan. 25, the high-speed film and high-speed digital cameras on the mobile launcher and Launch Pad 39B were successfully tested at the spaceport ahead of the Artemis II mission.  

Following Artemis I, teams updated the 68 high-speed cameras, which start during the final 12 seconds of the countdown to provide views of the rocket and surrounding ground structures during launch. The imagery also is used in detailed post-launch analysis.   

The updates on the cameras include:   

  • Software and procedures to ensure proper field of view of the rocket and spacecraft.  
  • High-speed digital camera firmware and digital recorder software to improve visual video quality.  
  • Optical control system software to ensure accurate setup. 
  • Upgraded faceplate purge hardware – a small tool near the camera lens that releases small amounts of gaseous nitrogen to remove any water that falls on the lenses.    

During a water flow test to check the sound suppression system at the pad, teams tested these cameras by setting them up in a launch countdown configuration. The test verifies the cameras’ field of view and the upgraded faceplate purge hardware all function properly. In September 2023, teams at Kennedy and at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama also tested the cameras during a hot fire test of the upgraded solid rocket booster design for the SLS (Space Launch System) rocket for future Artemis missions.   

Personnel at Kennedy next will test the dynamic range of the cameras during a nighttime commercial rocket launch from a nearby launch site. Following each operation, teams will analyze the footage to ensure each camera performed as expected. 

Artemis II Astronauts Successfully Conduct Launch Day Demonstration   

Artemis II astronauts, from left, NASA astronaut Victor Glover (left), CSA (Canadian Space Agency) astronaut Jeremy Hansen, NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Reid Wiseman stand on the crew access arm of the mobile launcher at Launch Pad 39B as part of an integrated ground systems test at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday, Sept. 20. The test ensures the ground systems team is ready to support the crew timeline on launch day. Photo Credit: NASA/Frank Michaux

The Artemis II crew and teams with NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems Program successfully completed the first in a series of integrated ground system tests at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida in preparation for their mission around the Moon.  

On Wednesday, NASA astronauts Reid Wiseman, Victor Glover, and Christina Koch, along with CSA (Canadian Space Agency) astronaut Jeremy Hansen, practiced the procedures they will undergo on launch day to prepare for their ride to space. 

The crew awoke at their crew quarters inside Kennedy’s Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkouts building before putting on test versions of the Orion crew survival system spacesuits they will wear on launch day. They then departed in NASA’s new Artemis crew transportation fleet to take them to Launch Pad 39B, traversing the nine-mile journey to the pad. Wiseman and Glover headed over in the first electric vehicle as Koch and Hansen followed them in the second.  

Upon arrival at the pad, the crew headed onto the mobile launcher and proceeded up the tower to the white room inside the crew access arm. From this area, the astronauts will have access to enter and exit the Orion spacecraft – only for this test, there was no Orion or SLS (Space Launch System) rocket. 

“When we walked out that crew access arm, I just had images of all those Apollo launches and shuttle launches that I saw as a kid and it was unreal,” Glover said. “I actually had to stop and just stay in the moment to really let it all sink in.” 

Successful completion of this test ensures both the crew and the ground systems teams at Kennedy are prepared and understand the timeline of their events for launch day.  

Credits: NASA

Mobile Launcher Arrives at Launch Pad 39B for Artemis ll Preps

The top part of mobile launcher 1, carried by the crawler-transporter 2, rolls out from its park site location to Launch Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Aug. 16, 2023.
The mobile launcher, carried by the crawler-transporter 2, rolls out from its park site location to Launch Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Aug. 16, 2023. While at the pad, it will undergo testing for the agency’s Artemis II mission. Under Artemis, the mobile launcher will transport NASA’s Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft to pad 39B for liftoff.  Photo credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky

After an approximately four-mile journey over the course of two days, mobile launcher 1 arrived on Aug. 17 at Launch Pad 39B from its park site location at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It will remain at the pad for several months as teams with NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems Program prepare for Artemis ll, the first crewed mission under Artemis.

Teams will conduct a variety of tests and continue ground systems upgrades on both structures. These preparations include testing the pad’s new 1.4-million-gallon liquid hydrogen sphere and emergency egress system.

After testing at the pad is complete, the mobile launcher will travel to the Vehicle Assembly Building in preparation for rocket stacking operations ahead of launching Artemis ll.

Mobile Launcher Rolls to Launch Pad for Artemis ll Testing

Under bright blue skies, the mobile launcher 1 is seen behind the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Aug. 16, 2023 as it gets ready to roll to Launch Pad 39B.
Mobile launcher 1 is on its way to Launch Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to prepare for Artemis ll, the first crewed mission on the agency’s path to establishing a long-term presence at the Moon under Artemis.
Photo credit: NASA/Chad Siwik

Mobile launcher 1 is on its way to Launch Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to prepare for Artemis ll, the first crewed mission on the agency’s path to establishing a long-term presence at the Moon under Artemis. The ground structure began its trek from the west park site at approximately 8:27 a.m. EDT on Aug.16 atop the crawler-transporter 2. It will stop at the gate of pad 39B and resume its journey on Aug. 17.

At 380 feet tall above the ground, the mobile launcher is used to assemble, process, and launch NASA’s SLS (Space Launch System) rocket and Orion spacecraft. It contains all of the connection lines – known as umbilicals – and ground support equipment that will provide the rocket and spacecraft with the power, communications, fuel and coolant necessary for launch.

Once the mobile launcher is at the launch pad, teams with NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems Program will conduct a series of tests and continue ground systems upgrades for both the mobile launcher 1 and the launch pad. These preparations will range from a launch day demonstration for the crew, closeout crew, and the pad rescue team to rehearse operations to testing the emergency egress system and the new liquid hydrogen sphere.

Artemis II Crew Visits Naval Base San Diego for Recovery Training

Artemis II astronauts inside the Vehicle Advanced Demonstrator for Emergency Recovery (VADR) during a tour of Naval Base San Diego.
From left (front to back), NASA astronauts Victor Glover, Christina Hammock Koch, and Reid Wiseman, along with Canadian Space Agency astronaut Jeremy Hansen, pose inside the Vehicle Advanced Demonstrator for Emergency Recovery (VADR) during a tour of Naval Base San Diego on July 19, 2023. VADR is a replica of the Orion crew module that will carry the astronauts around the Moon on Artemis II. Photo credit: U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joshua Samoluk

The Artemis II crew – NASA astronauts Reid Wiseman, Victor Glover, Christina Hammock Koch, and Canadian Space Agency astronaut Jeremy Hansen – visited Naval Base San Diego on July 19 ahead of the first Artemis II recovery test in the Pacific Ocean, Underway Recovery Test-10. The test will build on the success of Artemis I recovery and ensure NASA and the Department of Defense personnel can safely recover astronauts and their Orion spacecraft after their trip around the Moon on the first crewed Artemis mission.

The crew met with recovery team members from NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems Program and the Department of Defense to learn more about the recovery process for their mission, which includes being extracted from the spacecraft after splashing down in the Pacific Ocean and being lifted via helicopter to the recovery ship where they will undergo routine medical checks before returning to shore.

The visit included a walkdown of the ground equipment and facilities the team uses to practice recovery procedures along with a walkthrough of the recovery ship. The crew will participate in full recovery testing at sea next year.

Artemis I Orion Spacecraft Departs Naval Base San Diego 

The Artemis I Orion spacecraft is on its way back to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.  After completing a 25.5-day, 1.4-million-mile journey beyond the Moon and back Dec. 11, the spacecraft was recovered from the Pacific Ocean and transported to U.S. Naval Base San Diego, where engineers prepared the spacecraft for its trek by truck to Kennedy. Orion is scheduled to arrive to Kennedy’s Multi Payload Processing Facility by the end of the year.  

Once at Kennedy, technicians will open the hatch and unload several payloads, including Commander Moonikin Campos, zero-gravity indicator Snoopy, and the official flight kit as part of de-servicing operations. In addition to removing the payloads, Orion’s heat shield and other elements will be removed for analysis, and remaining hazards will be offloaded.  

NASA also has released new aerial footage of Orion’s descent through the clouds and splashdown taken from an Unmanned Aircraft System or drone. View the new imagery of spacecraft’s return to Earth here 

NASA’s Mega Moon Rocket Begins Roll to Launch Pad 

The Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft for the Artemis I flight test are rolling to launch pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida ahead of launch. At about 11:17 p.m. EDT the crawler-transporter began the approximately 4-mile journey from the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) to the launch pad. 

Once outside the VAB high-bay doors, the Moon rocket will make a planned pause allowing the team to reposition the crew access arm on the mobile launcher before continuing to the launch pad. The journey is expected to take between eight to 12 hours. NASA will provide an update once the rocket has arrived at the pad. A live stream view of the rocket and spacecraft departing VAB and arriving at the launch pad is available on the Kennedy Newsroom YouTube Channel. 

Launch is currently targeted for Nov. 14 at the opening of a 69-minute launch window starting at 12:07 a.m. EST.  

Teams Monitoring Weather While Protecting Option for Artemis I Launch  

NASA is monitoring the forecast associated with the formation of a tropical depression in the Caribbean Sea while in parallel continuing to prepare for a potential launch opportunity on Tuesday, Sept. 27 during a 70-minute window that opens at 11:37 a.m. EDT.  

Managers are initiating activities on a non-interference basis to enable an accelerated timeline for rolling back to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) to protect the rocket, should it be necessary. Discussions about whether to remain at the launch pad or roll back to the VAB are on-going and based on the latest forecast predictions. NASA will make a decision on whether to remain at the launch pad or roll back using incremental protocols to take interim steps necessary to protect people and hardware with a final decision anticipated no later than Saturday. The step-wise decision making process over the next day lets the agency protect its employees by completing a safe roll in time for them to address the needs of their families, while allowing flexibility to hold the launch window should weather predictions improve.  

NASA is grateful to its agency partners at NOAA, United State Space Force and the National Hurricane Center for giving us the highest quality products to protect our nation’s flight test to return us to the Moon. 

Artemis I Update: Rocket’s Upper Stage Powered Up, Countdown on Track

The Space Launch System rocket’s interim cryogenic propulsion stage (ICPS) has been powered up, the NASA test director has given the “go” for booster power up, and all non-essential personnel have left the launch pad area in preparation for propellant loading operations.

At 10:53 p.m. EDT, or L-9 hours, 40 minutes, the launch team is expected to reach a planned two hour, 30-minute built-in hold. During this time, the mission management team will review the status of operations, receive a weather briefing, and make a “go” or “no-go” decision to proceed with tanking operations.

Tanking milestones include filling the rocket’s core stage with several hundred thousand gallons of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. This will occur over a series of different propellant loading milestones to fill and replenish the tanks.

At midnight, NASA TV coverage begins with commentary of tanking operations to load propellant into the SLS rocket. Full coverage begins at 6:30 a.m.

Artemis I: Final Stage of Moon Rocket Preparations Underway 

A view of Moonikin “Campos” secured in a seat inside the Artemis I Orion crew module atop the Space Launch System rocket in High Bay 3 of the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Aug. 3, 2022.
A view of Moonikin “Campos” secured in a seat inside the Artemis I Orion crew module atop the Space Launch System rocket in High Bay 3 of the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Aug. 3, 2022.

As NASA’s first launch attempt for Artemis I approaches, teams are ahead of schedule to complete final checks and closeouts of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA is targeting launch on Aug. 29 during a two-hour launch window that opens at 8:33 a.m. EDT, with backup opportunities on Sept. 2 and 5. A successful launch on Aug. 29 would result in a mission duration of approximately 42 days, with a targeted Orion splashdown on Oct. 10.  

Teams are retracting the VAB platforms that provide access to the rocket and spacecraft after engineers completed installing thermal blankets on the interim cryogenic propulsion stage around the launch vehicle stage adapter. Technicians also replaced the engine section flight doors of the rocket’s core stage. Final closeout inspections are complete on those sections  and they are ready for flight.   

On the 212-foot-tall core stage, teams started flight closeouts inspections. Coming up, engineers will test the flight termination system elements in the intertank of the core stage and the forward skirts of the solid rocket boosters before SLS rolls out to the pad for launch.  

Launch and flight controllers, along with support personnel across NASA centers, completed their final launch countdown simulation ahead of the mission. The team has conducted many launch and flight simulations to prepare for Artemis I. 

Technicians also finished replacing the inflatable seal that sits between the mobile launcher’s crew access arm and Orion’s launch abort system and crew module to prevent anything from the outside environment getting inside the capsule. Teams have extended the crew access arm and are conducting final powered testing and installing the “passengers” that are part of the MARE investigation before closing the hatch ahead of rolling out to the launch pad, currently scheduled for Aug. 18.  

NASA also held two briefings earlier this week, a mission overview briefing and a detailed flight briefing, in which key personnel provided updates and specifics about the flight test.