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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
After its 1.4-million-mile mission beyond the Moon and back, the Orion spacecraft for the Artemis I mission arrived back at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Dec. 30. The capsule splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on Dec. 11 and was transported by truck across the country from Naval Base San Diego in California to Kennedy’s Multi Payload Processing Facility in Florida.
Now that Orion is back at Kennedy, technicians will remove payloads from the capsule as part of de-servicing operations, including Commander Moonikin Campos, zero-gravity indicator Snoopy, and the official flight kit. Orion’s heat shield and other elements will be removed for extensive analysis, and remaining hazards will be offloaded.
Artemis I was a major step forward as part of NASA’s lunar exploration efforts and sets the stage for the next mission of the Space Launch System rocket and Orion to fly crew around the Moon on Artemis II.
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.
Team members with NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems program successfully removed the Artemis I Orion spacecraft from the USS Portland Dec. 14, after the ship arrived at U.S. Naval Base San Diego a day earlier. The spacecraft successfully splashed down Dec. 11 in the Pacific Ocean west of Baja California after completing a 1.4 million-mile journey beyond the Moon and back, and was recovered by NASA’s Landing and Recovery team and personnel from the Department of Defense.
Engineers will conduct inspections around the spacecraft’s windows before installing hard covers and deflating the five airbags on the crew module uprighting system in preparation for the final leg of Orion’s journey over land. It will be loaded on a truck and transported back to the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for post-flight analysis.
Before its departure, teams will open Orion’s hatch as part of preparations for the trip to Kennedy and remove the Biological Experiment-01 payload which flew onboard Orion. The experiment involves using plant seeds, fungi, yeast, and algae to study the effects of space radiation before sending humans to the Moon and, eventually, to Mars. Removing the payload prior to Orion’s return to Kennedy allows scientists to begin their analysis before the samples begin to degrade.
Once it arrives to Kennedy, Orion will be delivered to the Multi-Payload Processing Facility where additional payloads will be taken out, its heat shield and other elements will be removed for analysis, and remaining hazards will be offloaded.
The Orion spacecraft has been secured in the well deck of the USS Portland. The ship will soon begin its trip back to U.S. Naval Base San Diego, where engineers will remove Orion from the ship in preparation for transport back to Kennedy Space Center in Florida for post-flight analysis.
Upon Orion’s successful splashdown in the Pacific Ocean west of Baja California at 9:40 PST/12:40 EST Dec. 11, flight controllers in mission control at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston spent about two hours performing tests in open water to gather additional data about the spacecraft, including on its thermal properties after enduring the searing heat of re-entry through Earth’s atmosphere. Recovery personnel also spent time collecting detailed imagery of the spacecraft before beginning to pull the capsule into the USS Portland’s well deck.
The recovery process involved divers attaching a cable called a winch line and several additional tending lines attached to the crew module. The winch was used to pull Orion into a specially designed cradle inside the ship’s well deck and the other lines were used to control the motion of the spacecraft. The recovery team consists of personnel and assets from the U.S. Department of Defense, including Navy amphibious specialists and Space Force weather specialists, and engineers and technicians from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Johnson Space Center in Houston, and Lockheed Martin Space Operations.
Orion is expected to arrive to shore Dec. 13 with offload expected on Dec. 15.
Weather conditions remain 90% favorable for the Artemis I launch based on the Monday, Nov. 14 forecast from meteorologists with the U.S. Space Force Space Launch Delta 45. Liftoff is scheduled for 1:04 a.m. EST Wednesday, Nov. 16 with a two-hour launch window.
The mission management team will reconvene this afternoon to review additional analysis from overnight operations in preparation for launch. NASA is targeting a teleconference at 6 p.m. to discuss the outcome of the meeting. Listen on the agency’s website at: https://www.nasa.gov/live .