Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage Moves to Space Station Processing Facility

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The ICPS is moved to the Space Station Processing Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage, packed in its canister, exits the Delta Operations Center at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for transport to the Space Station Processing Facility at Kennedy Space Center. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

The Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS) is the first segment for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket to arrive at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It was transported from the United Launch Alliance (ULA) facility at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, where it had been undergoing final testing and checkout since arriving in February, to the Space Station Processing Facility at the center.

Stacking of the rocket will occur in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). The ICPS will be located at the very top of the SLS, just below the Orion capsule. During Exploration Mission-1, NASA’s first test mission of the SLS rocket and Orion, the ICPS, filled with liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen, will give Orion the big in-space push needed to fly beyond the Moon before returning to Earth.

The ICPS was designed and built by ULA in Decatur, Alabama, and Boeing in Huntsville, Alabama. The propulsion stage will be cleaned and maintained and remain in the high bay at the Space Station Processing Facility and moved to the VAB when it is time for stacking operations.

TDRS-M Status Update – July 26, 2017

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NASA has provided Boeing concurrence to remove and replace the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite’s (TDRS-M) Omni S-band forward antenna. Pending Eastern Range approval, NASA, Boeing, and United Launch Alliance (ULA) are now targeting Aug. 20 for launch. A 40-minute launch window would open at 7:56 a.m. EDT. This new date allows for time to replace the antenna, which was damaged earlier this month while Boeing was conducting final spacecraft closeout activities at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida. TDRS-M will launch atop an ULA Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

TDRS-M Status Update – July 21, 2017

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NASA, Boeing and United Launch Alliance (ULA) are reviewing a new launch date in August for the agency’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS-M). NASA and Boeing need additional time to replace the spacecraft’s Omni S-band antenna at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida. A separate possible ground support equipment issue at Astrotech still is being assessed. TDRS-M will launch on a ULA Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. It is the latest satellite in a fleet of satellites supporting the space segment of the NASA’s Space Network.

TDRS-M Status Update – July 20, 2017

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NASA and Boeing are reviewing plans to safely replace an antenna on the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS-M). The satellite’s Omni S-band antenna was damaged during spacecraft closeout activities July 14 at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida. The TDRS team is also evaluating a possible electrostatic discharge event involving spacecraft mechanical ground support equipment. An integrated launch team is assessing the Aug. 3 launch date on an United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. TDRS-M is the latest satellite to support the space segment of NASA’s Space Network.

Centaur Upper Stage in Place Atop Atlas V

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At the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, United Launch Alliance team members mate a Centaur upper stage to an Atlas V booster. The rocket is scheduled to launch the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, TDRS-M.At the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, United Launch Alliance team members mate a Centaur upper stage to an Atlas V booster. The rocket is scheduled to launch the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, TDRS-M.The Centaur upper stage has been installed atop its United Launch Alliance Atlas V booster inside the Vertical Integration Facility at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41.

The rocket is slated to launch the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, TDRS-M. It will be the latest spacecraft destined for the agency’s constellation of communications satellites that allows nearly continuous contact with orbiting spacecraft ranging from the International Space Station and Hubble Space Telescope to the array of scientific observatories. Liftoff from Space Launch Complex 41 is scheduled for early August.

Photo credits: NASA/Kim Shiflett

TDRS-M Status Update – July 15, 2017

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NASA and Boeing are reviewing an incident that occurred with the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS-M) on July 14 at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida. The satellite’s Omni S-band antenna was damaged during final spacecraft closeout activities. The mission team is currently assessing flight acceptance and schedule. TDRS-M is planned to launch Aug. 3, 2017, on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Hands-on Activities Hone STEM Teaching Methods

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Teachers participate in the Rocketry Engineering Design Challenge during the 2017 GE Foundation High School STEM Integration Conference at the Center for Space Education at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. High-school teachers from across the country visited the Center for Space Education at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center during this week’s 2017 GE Foundation High School STEM Integration Conference.

Education Specialists Lynn Dotson, left, of the NASA Public Engagement Center, and Lester Morales, right, of Texas State University's NASA STEM Educator Professional Development Collaborative, explain the Rocketry Engineering Design Challenge to teachers participating in the 2017 GE Foundation High School STEM Integration Conference at the Center for Space Education at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. In the photo at right, Education Specialists Lynn Dotson, left, of the NASA Public Engagement Center, and Lester Morales, right, of Texas State University’s NASA STEM Educator Professional Development Collaborative, explain the Rocketry Engineering Design Challenge. The teachers then applied their knowledge by building their own projects, shown above.

The week-long conference, a partnership between GE Foundation and the National Science Teachers Association, is designed to explore effective ways for teachers, schools and districts from across the country to integrate STEM throughout the curriculum.

Photo credit: NASA/Chris Chamberland

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TDRS-M Spacecraft, Atlas V Rocket Take Strides Toward Launch

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A United Launch Alliance Atlas V first stage is lifted at the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V first stage is lifted at the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Inside the Astrotech facility in Titusville, Florida, NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, TDRS-M, is undergoing final checkouts prior to encapsulation in its payload fairing.

Credit: NASA/Glenn Benson

NASA’s next addition to the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System and the rocket that will deliver it to space are achieving significant prelaunch milestones this week.

The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket is coming together in the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex 41 on Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The first-stage booster was transported to the launch complex and lifted into position yesterday. The Centaur upper stage will be installed today atop the first stage.

Meanwhile, at the Astrotech payload processing facility in nearby Titusville, local news media got a chance to see the TDRS-M spacecraft before it is affixed to the payload attach fitting in preparation for encapsulation inside the Atlas V payload fairing next week.

Core Stage Forward Skirt Umbilical Installed on Mobile Launcher

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Just north of the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, technicians install the core stage forward skirt umbilical on the mobile launcher.

Just north of the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, technicians install the core stage forward skirt umbilical on the mobile launcher.

Just north of the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, technicians install the core stage forward skirt umbilical on the mobile launcher.The Core Stage Forward Skirt Umbilical (CSFSU) recently was installed on the tower of the mobile launcher at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, to prepare for the first launch of the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft atop.

The mobile launcher tower will be equipped with a number of lines, called umbilicals, which will connect to the SLS and Orion spacecraft and provide commodities during processing and preparation for launch of Exploration Mission-1.

Cranes and rigging were used to lift the CSFSU and install it at about the 220-foot-level on the tower. The CSFSU will swing into position to provide connections to the core stage forward skirt of the SLS rocket, and then swing away before launch. Its main purpose is to provide conditioned air and gaseous nitrogen to the SLS core stage forward skirt cavity.

The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program is overseeing installation of the umbilicals on the tower.

Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Kennedy Engineers to Support Liftoff of World’s Most Powerful Rocket

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The Kennedy Ground Control System team poses after signing a banner at Kennedy Space Center's Operations Support Building II.

The Kennedy Ground Control System team poses at Kennedy Space Center’s Operations Support Building II after signing a banner to celebrate receiving authorization to operate. Credit: NASA/Cory Huston

Liftoff of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft from Launch Complex 39B at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida will require a symphony of tightly coordinated commands for processing and launch. Kennedy engineers recently achieved authorization to operate the Kennedy Ground Control Subsystem, which is a network of controls, during hazardous operations at the Multi-Payload Processing Facility. The processing facility is used to prepare Orion for its test flight atop the SLS.

To gain authorization to operate, Kennedy updated access to the subsystem network and equipment, ensuring the network is secure from all malicious threats, whether internal or external. Kennedy now is prepared to support hazardous operations and ensure that the network meets agency standards for network and physical protection.

According to Reggie Martin, a NASA electrical engineer in the Engineering Development Lab at the center, an authorization is good for only one year.

“Each subsequent authorization is a review to ensure we continue to operate at the level first certified to operate,” Martin said. “It also includes a review of any new equipment or operations to ensure they are properly incorporated as we get closer to the launch of NASA’s Space Launch System on Exploration Mission-1.”

The subsystem of the Spaceport Command and Control System is the main integration network system between ground support equipment at various locations around Kennedy and the Launch Control Center. The network interfaces with ground support equipment, such as sensors, valves and heaters, with systems in the Vehicle Assembly Building, the mobile launcher, the Launch Abort System Facility, the processing facility and on Launch Pad 39B to facilitate monitoring and control of subsystem processes.

“We’re responsible for ensuring all ground operations are transmitted to ground support equipment to ensure timely launch processing and vehicle launch from the launch pad,” said Martin.

Martin led a team of NASA and contractor engineers in the integrated design, fabrication, installation, verification and validation of the mission’s operational information and security requirements in support of hazardous operations.

The subsystem is monitored by NASA and contractor engineers from consoles located in the Launch Control Center’s Firing Room 1.

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