The final work platform for NASA’s Space Launch System arrived Dec. 13 at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The second half of the A-level platforms, A north, was transported to the center by heavy-lift truck from Tillett Heavy Hauling in Titusville, Florida, and delivered to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) staging area.
The platform will remain in the staging area for prep work before it is moved into the transfer aisle of the VAB. The first half of the A-level platforms, A south, arrived at the center Nov. 28. The south platform will be installed in High Bay 3 on Dec. 22. The north platform will be installed in late January 2017.
The A-level platforms are the topmost platforms for High Bay 3. The two halves will provide access to the Orion spacecraft’s Launch Abort System (LAS) for Orion Lifting Sling removal and installation of the closeout panels. Testing of the Launch Abort System Antenna also is performed on this level.
A total of 10 levels of new platforms, 20 platform halves altogether, will surround the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft and provide access for testing and processing. NASA is preparing for the launch of Orion atop the SLS rocket from Launch Pad 39B in 2018.
Several of the umbilicals that will support the launch of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket atop the mobile launcher were transported from the Launch Equipment Test Facility to the Mobile Launcher Yard and staging area at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. They will be prepped for installation on the mobile launcher.
The mobile launcher tower will be equipped with several launch umbilicals, which connect to the SLS core stage and twin solid rocket boosters, the interim cryogenic propulsion stage and the Orion spacecraft. They will provide power, communications, coolant and fuel. Several other accessories will provide access and stabilization to the rocket and spacecraft.
The two aft skirt electrical umbilicals and one vehicle support post were transported by flatbed truck from the test facility. The two aft skirt umbilicals will be prepped and installed on the deck of the mobile launcher in the coming weeks. Work will begin to prep the first vehicle support post while the remaining seven posts undergo testing at the Launch Equipment Test Facility before being shipped to the mobile launcher. The installation work will be performed by the construction contractor JP Donovan Construction.
The two umbilicals will connect to the SLS rocket at the bottom outer edge of each booster and provide electrical power and data connections to the SLS rocket until it lifts off from the launch pad. The umbilicals will act like a telephone line and carry a signal to another subsystem on the mobile launcher called the launch release system. This system will distribute the launch signal to the rest of the launch accessories and the SLS boosters will actually initiate the launch release command.
There are a total of eight posts that will support the load of the solid rocket boosters, with four posts for each of the boosters. The support posts are five feet tall and weigh about 10,000 pounds each. They will be located on the deck of the mobile launcher and will be instrumented with strain gages to measure loads during vehicle stacking, integration, rollout and launch. The posts will structurally support the SLS rocket through countdown and liftoff.
NASA’s SLS rocket is scheduled to launch with the Orion spacecraft atop from Launch Pad 39B in late 2018. The mission will send Orion on a path thousands of miles beyond the moon over a course of three weeks before the spacecraft returns to Earth and safely splashes down in the Pacific Ocean. The mission will be the first in a series of the proving ground as NASA prepares for the Journey to Mars.
The Orion Underway Recovery Test 5 (URT-5) team recently celebrated the completion of the test during a gathering hosted by the Ground Systems Development and Operations Program (GSDO) and the Engineering Directorate at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
URT-5 team members included NASA’s GSDO, Kennedy’s Engineering Directorate, contractors with the Test and Operations Support Contract and Engineering Services Contract, Orion representatives, the team from the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory at Johnson Space Center in Houston, and U.S. Air Force Detachment 3 from the 45th Space Wing at nearby Patrick Air Force Base.
During URT-5 in October, the team practiced recovering a test version of the Orion crew module in the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of California, and guiding it into the well deck of the USS San Diego. Over several days, the team demonstrated and evaluated new recovery processes, procedures, hardware and personnel that will be necessary to recover Orion after its first flight test on NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.
“URT-5 proved to be a really valuable test for us as we evolve our ground support equipment and recovery procedures to one day safely recover our astronauts and crew module from deep space,” said Mike Bolger, GSDO Program manager. “It is a complex procedure and the conditions on the Pacific Ocean can be daunting. But this team performed flawlessly.”
Landing and Recovery Director Melissa Jones, with GSDO, thanked the team for countless hours of hard work and hundreds of newly developed parts that contributed to the success of the test.
“This test was the first time the Landing and Recovery Team has been able to consistently demonstrate control of the test capsule in the well deck of the ship,” Jones said.
The team will fine-tune their strategy, make some equipment adjustments and return to the open water for another test late next year.
NASA’s Orion spacecraft is scheduled to launch atop the SLS on Exploration Mission 1 in late 2018. EM-1 will send Orion on a path thousands of miles beyond the moon over a course of three weeks, farther into space than human spaceflight has ever traveled before. The spacecraft will return to Earth and safely splash down in the Pacific Ocean. The mission will advance and validate capabilities required for the Journey to Mars.
Testing of several of the umbilical lines that will attach to NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket from the tower on the mobile launcher continues at the Launch Equipment Test Facility (LETF) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The Core Stage Inter-tank Umbilical (CSITU) arrived at the LETF and was attached to the “C” tower of the Vehicle Motion Simulator 2 test fixture. Engineers with the Ground Systems Development and Operations Program and the Engineering Directorate will prepare the umbilical for a series of tests to confirm it is functioning properly and ready to support the SLS rocket for launch.
The tests will begin in January 2017 and are scheduled to be completed by the end of February. Testing will include hydraulic system controller tuning, umbilical plate mate and leak checks, primary and secondary disconnect testing at ambient temperatures, and fire suppression system functional checks. Also, a series of primary and secondary disconnect testing at liquid nitrogen and liquid hydrogen temperatures, minus 321 and minus 421 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively, will be performed.
The CSITU is a swing arm umbilical that will connect to the SLS core stage inter-tank. The umbilical’s main function is to vent gaseous hydrogen from the core stage. The arm also provides conditioned air, pressurized gases, and power and data connection to the core stage.
The CSITU will be located at about the 140-foot-level on the mobile launcher tower, between the Core Stage liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen tanks, and will swing away before launch. The umbilical is one of several umbilicals that will be installed on the mobile launcher tower and attach to the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft.
The Orion spacecraft is scheduled to launch in late 2018 atop the SLS rocket on a three-week mission that will take it thousands of miles beyond the moon and back during Exploration Mission 1.
A new liquid hydrogen (LH2) liquid separator tank has arrived at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It will be used to support the agency’s Space Launch System rocket and all future launches from Launch Pad 39B.
The tank was lifted by crane, rotated, and then lowered on the transporter for the move to the pad.
The existing hydrogen vent system that terminates at a flare stack was designed for gaseous hydrogen. New requirements for Exploration Mission 1 and future launches include the need to address liquid hydrogen in the vent system. The new LH2 separator/storage tank will be added to the existing hydrogen vent system to assure gaseous hydrogen is delivered downstream to the flare stack.
At Pad B, the existing hydrogen vent line and supporting systems will be modified to accommodate the new LH2 liquid separator tank. The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program and the Engineering Directorate at Kennedy are performing the upgrades to Launch Pad 39B to support the agency’s premier multi-user spaceport.
The 60,000 gallon tank was built by INOXCVA, in Baytown, Texas, a subcontractor to Precision Mechanical Inc. in Cocoa, Florida. It is about 56 feet long, with a 14-foot diameter.