Test Versions of Space Launch System Booster Segments Arrive at Kennedy Space Center

A train hauls two pathfinder solid rocket booster segments to Kennedy Space Center.
A train hauls two pathfinder solid rocket booster segments to Kennedy Space Center. The segments are test versions of those that will be used on NASA’s Space Launch System rocket. Photo credit: NASA/Bill White

Two pathfinders, or test versions, of solid rocket booster segments for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket arrived at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The booster segments were transported from Promontory, Utah, for pathfinder operations at the Rotation, Processing and Surge Facility (RPSF) to prepare for Exploration Mission-1.

The boosters, which are inert, were stored at the Jay Jay rail yard in Titusville, Florida, to prepare for the final move. The first booster was transported onto the center Feb. 23 by rail aboard a train service provided by Goodloe Transportation and was delivered to the RPSF. Inside the RPSF, the booster segment was offloaded and inspected. Its cover was removed, and the segment will undergo additional inspections to confirm it is ready for testing. The second booster segment which arrived later in the day will undergo the same preparations.

During the pathfinder operations, engineers and technicians with NASA and industry partners will conduct a series of lifts, moves and stacking operations using the booster segments and an aft skirt, with aft motor and aft exit cone attached, to simulate how the boosters will be processed in the RPSF to prepare for an SLS/Orion mission. The stacking operations will help train ground personnel before they handle flight hardware for the most powerful rocket in the world that will start to arrive at Kennedy in less than two years.

The pathfinder operations also will help to test recent upgrades to the RPSF facility as the center continues to prepare for the EM-1 mission, deep-space missions, and the journey to Mars.

NASCAR Driver Carl Edwards Behind the Wheel at Kennedy

NASCAR Driver Carl Edwards drives MRAP around Pad 39B perimeter and visits the VAB.
NASCAR Driver Carl Edwards drives MRAP around Pad 39B perimeter and visits the VAB. Photos by NASA/Bill White

NASCAR Driver Carl Edwards drives MRAP around Pad 39B perimeter and visits the VAB.

NASCAR driver Carl Edwards visited NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and slid behind the wheel of an entirely different kind of car: a Mine-resistant, Ambush-protected vehicle better known as MRAP.

The agency’s Ground Systems Development and Operations Program selected the MRAP to serve as an upgraded version of an armored escape vehicle that would allow astronauts to evacuate the launch pad in the event of an emergency.

While at Kennedy, Edwards stopped by the massive Vehicle Assembly Building and Launch Pad 39B. Both facilities are being prepared to support assembly and launch of NASA’s next-generation heavy-lift rocket, the Space Launch System.

Edwards toured the spaceport ahead of Sunday’s Daytona 500 race, in which he is driving the No. 19 car for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Work Platform Arrives at Kennedy Space Center for NASA’s Journey to Mars

The second half of the G-level work platforms arrives at Kennedy Space Center.
The second half of the G-level work platforms arrives at the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky

NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida received another work platform that will be used to modernize the massive Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), which is where the agency will test and process the SLS for flight before it is rolled out onto the launch pad. The agency’s Ground Systems Development and Operations (GSDO) Program at Kennedy continues to make progress preparing the center to launch NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft that will take humans beyond Earth orbit and on to deep space.

The arrival of the second half of the G-level work platforms at Kennedy brings the total to eight platforms, or four levels of work platforms being readied for the VAB. The G platforms are the fourth of 10 levels of platforms that will support processing of the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft for deep space missions including to an asteroid and the journey to Mars.

Tillet Heavy Haul Inc. of Titusville, Florida, transported the platform from Sauer Co. in Oak Hill, Florida to Kennedy Space Center for Hensel Phelps Construction Co. of Orlando, Florida. A contract to modify the VAB’s High Bay 3 was awarded to Hensel Phelps in March 2014.

A total of 10 levels of new platforms, 20 platform halves altogether, will be used to access, test and process the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft in High Bay 3. In addition, 20 new elevator landings and access ways are being constructed for the platform levels. The high bay also will accommodate the 355-foot-tall mobile launcher tower that will carry the rocket and spacecraft atop the crawler-transporter to Launch Pad 39B.

The platforms are being fabricated by Steel LLC of Scottdale, Georgia, and assembled by Sauer. The GSDO team at Kennedy is overseeing upgrades and modifications to the high bay to prepare for NASA’s deep space exploration missions.

The first three sets of platforms, H, J and K, were delivered to the center last year.

Aft Skirt Moved to RPSF for Solid Rocket Booster Pathfinder Operations at Kennedy Space Center

The aft skirt is moved to the RPSF at NASA's Kennedy Space Center.
An aft skirt is moved to the Rotation, Processing and Surge Facility for solid rocket booster pathfinder operations at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Charles Babir

An aft skirt similar to one that will be used on a solid rocket booster (SRB) that will help launch NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket into space was transported from the Booster Fabrication Facility to the Rotation, Processing and Surge Facility (RPSF) at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The aft skirt will remain in the RPSF and be readied for simulated stacking operations with a pathfinder, or test version, of a solid rocket booster. February 1 will mark the official start date for booster pathfinder operations after the aft skirt is inspected and undergoes limited processing.

Segments of the pathfinder SRB will arrive from Promontory, Utah, to Kennedy in mid-February and will be transported to the RPSF.

Engineers and technicians with NASA and industry partners will conduct a series of lifts, moves and stacking operations using the aft skirt and pathfinder SRB to simulate how SRB will be processed in the RPSF to prepare for an SLS/Orion mission.

The pathfinder operations will help to test recent upgrades to the RPSF facility as the center prepares for NASA’s Exploration Mission-1, deep-space missions, and the journey to Mars.

G-Level Work Platform Next to Arrive at Kennedy Space Center for NASA’s Journey to Mars

The first half of the G-level work platforms for the Vehicle Assembly Building arrives at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Mike Justice
The first half of the G-level work platforms for the Vehicle Assembly Building arrives at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Mike Justice

Continuing efforts to upgrade the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), the first half of the G-level work platforms arrived today at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The G platforms are the fourth of 10 levels of platforms that will support processing of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft for the journey to Mars.

Hensel Phelps moved Platform G on an over-sized load, heavy transport trailer from the Sauer Co. in Oak Hill, Florida. The platform was successfully delivered to the VAB west parking lot work area.

A total of 10 levels of new platforms, 20 platform halves altogether, will be used to access, test and process the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft in High Bay 3. Twenty new elevator landings and access ways are being constructed for each platform level. The high bay also will accommodate the 355-foot-tall mobile launcher tower that will carry the rocket and spacecraft atop the crawler-transporter to Launch Pad 39B.

The platforms are being fabricated by Steel LLC of Scottdale, Georgia, and assembled by Sauer. A contract to modify High Bay 3 was awarded to Hensel Phelps Construction Co. of Orlando, Florida, in March 2014.

The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program at Kennedy is overseeing upgrades and modifications to the high bay to prepare for NASA’s exploration missions to deep-space destinations.

 

The first three sets of platforms, H, J and K, were delivered to Kennedy last year. The first half of the K-level platforms was installed in the VAB on Dec. 22. It was secured into position about 86 feet above the VAB floor, or nearly nine stories high, in High Bay 3.

Orion Service Module Umbilical Tests Support NASA’s Journey to Mars

Engineers and technicians prepare the Orion Service Module Umbilical for a series of tests,, beginning Nov. 30, at the Launch Equipment Test Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Cory Huston
Engineers and technicians prepare the Orion Service Module Umbilical for a series of tests,, beginning Nov. 30, at the Launch Equipment Test Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Cory Huston

In support of NASA’s journey to Mars, testing began Nov. 30 on one of the umbilicals that will connect from the mobile launcher tower to the Orion service module at the Launch Equipment Test Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The mobile launcher will carry the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft atop a crawler-transporter to the launch pad for Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), scheduled to launch in 2018.

The mobile launcher will be equipped with a number of lines, called umbilicals that connect to the rocket and Orion spacecraft to provide power, communications, coolant and fuel. In preparation for the rocket’s first launch on EM-1, engineers are conducting a series of tests on the Orion Service Module Umbilical System (OSMU), including a simulated rocket launch.

During the first in the series of tests, the OSMU was attached to a Vehicle Motion Simulator that can simulate all expected launch vehicle motions from rollout through about the first half-second of launch, when the umbilical is disconnected.

For another test, the OSMU will be attached to a replicated section of the Orion service module on the simulator, and will experience the maximum velocity, up to 70 inches per second, during a launch simulation.

The center’s Engineering Directorate is providing support to the Ground Systems Development and Operations Program for testing of the OSMU. This umbilical will be located high on the mobile launcher tower and, prior to launch, will transfer liquid coolant for the electronics and air for the Environmental Control System to the Orion service module that houses these critical systems to support the spacecraft.

Engineers also will check the OSMU umbilical interfaces, hoses, and quick-disconnect plates for functionality. The tests will verify that the 15-foot-long umbilical will be ready for installation on the mobile launcher early next year and ensure that the umbilical will be ready to support launch of the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft.

Work Platform H Arrives at Kennedy Space Center to Support NASA’s Journey to Mars

The second half of the H level work platforms for the Vehicle Assembly Building arrives at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky
The second half of the H level work platforms for the Vehicle Assembly Building arrives at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky

The second half of the H level work platforms for the Vehicle Assembly Building arrived today at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The H platforms are the third of 10 levels of platforms that will support processing of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft for the journey to Mars.

Hensel Phelps moved Platform H on an over-sized load, heavy transport trailer from the Sauer Company in Oak Hill, Florida, and was successfully delivered to the VAB west parking lot work area.

As the platform was being transported through Titusville, the edge of the platform contacted a light pole near US1 and DeLeon Street. There was no personal injury and the City of Titusville is working the repairs. There was very minor damage to the platform and no indication of structural damage.

A total of 10 levels of new platforms, 20 platform halves altogether, will be used to access, test and process the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft in High Bay 3. Twenty new elevator landings and access ways are being constructed for each platform level. The high bay also will accommodate the 355-foot-tall mobile launcher tower that will carry the rocket and spacecraft atop the crawler-transporter to Launch Pad 39B.

The platforms are being fabricated by Steel LLC of Scottdale, Georgia, and assembled by Sauer. A contract to modify High Bay 3 was awarded to Hensel Phelps Construction Co. of Orlando, Florida, in March 2014.

The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program at Kennedy is overseeing upgrades and modifications to the high bay to prepare for NASA’s exploration missions to deep-space destinations.

The first two sets of platforms, J and K, were delivered to Kennedy earlier this year.

To read more about the new work platforms, visit http://go.nasa.gov/1ba5T6V.

Ponce De Leon Inlet Tracking Site to Support Space Launch System

PDL-11_05_2015-Dish-Install-(17)Engineers and technicians from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and contractor ViaSat Inc. are completing restoration of a launch communications site at the Ponce De Leon Inlet Tracking Annex. The facility is located in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, 35 miles north of the spaceport. The annex will provide a crucial tracking capability following liftoff of the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. Carlsbad, California, based ViaSat recently installed the S-band dish antenna site that will provide tracking during the second and third minutes after liftoff. One minute into flight, the line-of-site from Kennedy tracking antennas are obscured because of the highly reflective plume from the SLS solid rocket boosters. The S-band portion of the microwave spectrum combines command, voice and television signals though a single antenna. The Ponce De Leon Inlet Tracking Annex is being reestablished following decommissioning at the end of the Space Shuttle Program.
Photo credit: NASA

NASA Tests Crew Recovery for Orion

Team members from NASA's Orion and the Ground Systems Development and Operations (GSDO) Program practice egress training Oct. 6-8 using a mockup of the Orion crew module in the 6.2-million-gallon Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory at the agency's Johnson Space Center in Houston. Photo credit: NASA
Team members from NASA’s Orion and the Ground Systems Development and Operations (GSDO) Program practice egress training Oct. 6-8 using a mockup of the Orion crew module in the 6.2-million-gallon Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Photo credit: NASA

When astronauts come home in Orion from deep-space missions, they’ll need a strategy for a safe and efficient exit. At NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, teams performed a series of tests Oct. 6-8 to evaluate the most efficient way for astronauts to get out of the spacecraft after weeks or months away from Earth.

During the three-day testing, personnel simulated approaching the spacecraft floating in the Pacific Ocean and what it would take to assist the crew as they exit. They also evaluated the layout of equipment inside the spacecraft that will affect exit and the gear used during the recovery process.

Team members from NASA’s Orion and the Ground Systems Development and Operations (GSDO) Program demonstrated and evaluated the procedures, and a team from several branches in the Department of Defense specially trained in rescue techniques provided insight into ways to efficiently get the crew out, including in a case where the crew was incapacitated.

“This training is essential to help the Ground Systems Development and Operations recovery team be as prepared as possible to recover the Orion spacecraft after its first flight atop NASA’s Space Launch System rocket,” said Melissa Jones, GSDO Recovery director at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The buoyancy lab, a 6.2-million-gallon pool that is primarily used to train astronauts underwater for spacewalks, provides a controlled environment where recovery personnel can practice techniques to assist people getting out of a test version of the crew module. The facility had previously been used to develop ways to approach and harness Orion for its first flight test, Exploration Flight Test-1, last year.

To read the full story, visit https://www.nasa.gov/feature/nasa-tests-crew-exit-strategy-for-orion.

Umbilical for Mobile Launcher Prepped for Testing

A heavy-lift crane is used to lift the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage Umbilical (ICPSU)
A heavy-lift crane is used to lift the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage Umbilical (ICPSU) on Sept. 28 at the Launch Equipment Test Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Preparations are underway to move the ICPSU for installation on the A Tower mobile launcher simulator for testing. Photo credit: NASA/Glenn Benson

The Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage Umbilical (ICPSU) for NASA’s Space Launch System was lifted and attached to the A Tower mobile launcher simulator Sept. 28 at the Launch Equipment Test Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The ICPSU will provide super-cooled hydrogen and liquid oxygen to the rocket’s interim cryogenic propulsion stage, or upper stage, at T-0 for Exploration Mission-1.

Kennedy engineers and technicians from the center’s Engineering Directorate and Ground Systems Development and Operations Program prepared the large 70,000-pound steel structure to be lifted by crane for installation on the test tower. The umbilical will be prepared for load and functional tests.

During four months of testing, beginning in 2016, engineers will check the ICPSU’s swing arm function and its primary and secondary retraction systems to ensure they are working properly. Simulated fueling tests using liquid hydrogen and liquid nitrogen also will be performed.

The ICPSU is one of the umbilical arms that will be attached to the mobile launcher for EM-1. The umbilical will be located at the 240-foot level of the mobile launcher and will supply fuel, oxidizer, gaseous helium, hazardous gas leak detection, electrical commodities and environment control systems to the upper stage of the Space Launch System rocket during launch.