Monthly Archives: September 2015

Umbilical for Mobile Launcher Prepped for Testing

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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/Glen 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.

Crew Access Tower Stacking Passes Midway Point

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The steel lattice column that will become the Crew Access Tower for Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft continues its methodical rise at Space Launch Complex-41 where four of seven sections of the tower have been stacked.

Built four miles south, each section or tier, is being trucked to United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V launch pad where a crane lifts it into position. The tower will reach about 200 feet high when it’s finished.

Even after stacking is complete, the team will have plenty to do to outfit it for launch, including installing the elevator, white room, crew access arm and infrastructure lines. Since SLC-41 remains an operational facility while the tower is built, work on the tower is taking place between Atlas V launch operations.

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Platform Arrivals Offer Glimpse of VAB Modifications

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2015-2867Platform J arrived at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center last week and was positioned in an area outside the Vehicle Assembly Building where workers will prepare the platform and a host of others just like it for installation inside the massive processing building.  The platforms will replace work stands that were installed in the VAB when it was first built in the 1960s.

The new generation of platforms are designed for the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft. More than simply fitting the mammoth new rocket, the platforms will be outfitted with modern communications, consumables, power and other lines. The platforms will make up 10 levels where engineers and technicians will prep the 32-story-tall rocket and spacecraft stack.

The SLS and Orion are in development to provide NASA with a deep-space capable spacecraft and booster that can carry astronauts on trips beyond low-Earth orbit. The first flight of SLS and Orion is slated for 2018 on a mission that will not launch astronauts but rather check out rocket and spacecraft systems during a full mission profile.

Umbilical Arm Load Testing Prep

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A crane lifts the Interim Cryogenic Propulsive Stage Umbilical arm for NASA's Space Launch System at the Launch Equipment Test Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. A crane lifts the Interim Cryogenic Propulsive Stage Umbilical (ICPSU) arm for NASA’s Space Launch System at the Launch Equipment Test Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The ICPSU is one of the umbilical arms that will be attached to the mobile launcher. The umbilical will be located at the about the 240-foot-level of the mobile launcher and will supply fuel, oxidizer, pneumatics, hazard gas leak detection, electrical commodities and environmental control systems to the interim cryogenic propulsive stage of the SLS rocket during launch.

Boeing Wraps Up C3PF Mural Work

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C3PF_partial_wrapThe new face of the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility (C3PF) is complete. Workers placed the finishing touches of the building-sized mural on the rounded edges of the former Orbiter Processing Facility-3 at Kennedy Space Center in Florida earlier this week.

The image of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner orbiting above Florida highlights the C3PF’s role as the assembly and processing home for the company’s next-generation human-rated spacecraft. The Starliner is being built in partnership with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program to re-establish America’s ability to launch astronauts to the International Space Station from Florida’s Space Coast.

Spacecraft built in the C3PF will be launched into space from nearby Space Launch Complex-41 aboard United Launch Alliance Atlas V rockets. NASA also is working with SpaceX on the Crew Dragon to take astronauts to the station.

Crew Access Tower Stacking Begins

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2015-2795The first new Crew Access Tower at Cape2015-27922015-2793Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida since the Apollo 2015-2799era will take shape at Space Launch Complex-41 in the coming days as workers moved the first two tiers from a nearby construction yard to the pad surface. The tiers will be lifted into place atop each other at the foot of the launch pad starting next week.

Boeing and United Launch Alliance are building the tower which is a critical element for the launch pad as it is converted from a pad that serves only uncrewed missions to a complex that can safely accommodate the needs of flight crews along with their ground support teams for CST-100 Starliner missions. The Starliner is under development in partnership with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, along with the SpaceX Crew Dragon, to take astronauts to the International Space Station from Florida’s Space Coast.

Designed with modern data systems, communications and power networks integrated and protected from blast and vibration, plus an elevator, the Crew Access Tower has been built with several features only a fully suited astronaut could appreciate, such as wider walkways, snag-free railings and corners that are easy to navigate without running into someone. The tower will also be equipped with slide wire baskets for emergency evacuation to a staged blast-resistant vehicle.

The segments were assembled about four miles away from the launch pad so workers wouldn’t be idled by launch preps for United Launch Alliance Atlas V rockets. The tower will be stacked just to the side of the hard stand at SLC-41 where the boosters lift off. It will take seven tiers to complete the more than 200-foot-tall tower. A swing-out walkway bridge will be added later to connect the tower to the hatch of the Starliner so astronauts can climb aboard the ship as it stands at the pad before launch.

The tower construction marks the latest in a quick succession of events for Boeing’s Starliner program. The company opened the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility last week for use as the Starliner production and processing base and just completed the mural on the front of the building showing the spacecraft orbiting above Florida. The upper and lower dome assemblies arrived earlier this year for the Starliner’s Structural Test Article which is being built and processed as a pathfinder for the program and will be put together just as an operational spacecraft would before it goes into exhaustive testing to the prove the design.

 

Meet the Starliner!

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The wait is over! Boeing’s next-generation spacecraft has a new name! A fleet of CST-100 Starliners will give the United States crew access to the International Space Station, launching from Florida’s Space Coast atop United Launch Alliance Atlas V rockets on NASA Commercial Crew Program flights. Read details about the spacecraft and today’s grand opening of the C3PF, where the Starliners will be assembled and processed for flight.

Artist concept of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft

NASA Experts Engage, Inspire America’s Interest in STEM Education

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Over the Labor Day weekend, NASA’s Education Project and Youth Engagement Office at the Kennedy Space Center is reaching out to thousands of guests at the annual Tom Joyner Family Reunion staged at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Kissimmee, Florida. Exhibits, demonstrations and educational activities are designed to inspire young students to consider careers in STEM – science, technology, engineering and math.

Taking place Sept. 3-7, the Allstate Tom Joyner Family Reunion is an annual event, now in its 12th year. It is designed to present uplifting programs, entertainment and educational information about growing, diverse communities.

As host of The Tom Joyner Morning Show, the nationally syndicated radio personality also is the founder of REACH Media Inc. and the Tom Joyner Foundation.

For the eighth year, agency representatives are on hand to explain exhibits focusing on NASA’s current efforts with the International Space Station, Commercial Crew Program, Ground Systems Development and Operations, as well as the Launch Services Programs. At the same time, participants are being given an opportunity to talk to NASA experts and ask questions about space, education and careers.

During the five-day reunion, visitors also are being given an opportunity to take part in hands-on science projects such as building rockets and launching them, operating small robots, answering trivia questions about NASA activities, and talking with former NASA astronaut Winston Scott.