For the first time, one of the new work platforms in High Bay 3 inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida was powered on. Lights illuminate one half of the J-level platforms as the platform is extended. A preliminary test of both J platforms was completed April 28 to verify each platform’s push chain system, roller system and electrical connections. The J-level platforms are located about 112 feet above the floor, or nearly 11 stories high. The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program is overseeing upgrades and modifications to VAB High Bay 3 to support processing of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft. 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.
Preparations are under way for the 2017 launch of the Joint Polar Satellite System spacecraft. The United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket booster and protective payload fairing arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in early April.
The booster was uncrated from its shipping container April 4 (above) in Vandenberg’s Building 836 and placed onto a transporter (right) for the drive to Space Launch Complex 2 on April 5. The two halves of the payload fairing arrived April 6 (below).
The Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) is the United States’ next-generation polar-orbiting operational environmental satellite system. JPSS is a collaborative program between NOAA and NASA.
Photo credits: NASA/Randy Beaudoin (above, right) and NASA/Joshua Seybert (below)
With its image reflected in the water, a heavy load transport truck proceeds along the road to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 26, carrying the first half of the E-level work platforms, E South, for the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. The platform will be delivered to the VAB staging area in the west parking lot. The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program is overseeing upgrades and modifications to VAB High Bay 3 to support processing of the SLS and Orion spacecraft. 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.
A construction worker with J.P. Donovan of Rockledge, Florida, installs new heat-resistant bricks around one of the overpressure water system pipes on the north side of the flame trench at Launch Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Pad B flame trench is being refurbished to support the launch of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket.
The Ground Systems Development and Operations (GSDO) Program at Kennedy is helping transform the space center into a multi-user spaceport and prepare for Exploration Mission 1, deep-space missions, and the journey to Mars. For more information about GSDO, visit https://www.nasa.gov/groundsystems. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
Kennedy Space Center marked the 46th annual Earth Day on April 21-22 with a celebration designed to spread awareness of our planet’s needs – and to share innovations that can contribute to sustainable living both at work and at home.
This year’s Earth Day expo showcased demonstrations and products by exhibitors from across the country in order to get people thinking about changes they can make in order to preserve our planet and its limited resources. The event kicked off in Kennedy’s Space Station Processing Facility on Thursday, then moved to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex on Friday, allowing both employees and visitors to learn and benefit from the array of available activities.
More than a dozen electric cars were on display from a variety of automakers. Some were available for test drives, and many participants took advantage of the opportunity to try out the vehicles. Several exhibitors shared technologies and tips for saving energy and water in the workplace, the home and throughout the community through water treatment, recycling and lighting controls, among others.
Florida’s natural environment also played a starring role, with wildlife and conservation specialists such as the Brevard Zoo and Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge on hand to discuss methods to safeguard wildlife, preserve natural resources, and protect Florida waters. Master gardeners and pollinator specialists offered their expertise and answered questions, and native butterflies were released throughout the day at the visitor complex on Friday.
NASA selected Orbital ATK of Dulles, Virginia, to begin negotiations on an agreement to use High Bay 2 in the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The prospective agreement will include a mobile launcher platform and reflects Kennedy’s transformation to a multi-user spaceport supporting both government and commercial organizations.
“Over the past few years, the people of Kennedy have worked diligently to transform the center. We are now a true multi-user spaceport supporting a variety of different partners successfully,” said Bob Cabana, Kennedy’s director. “We look forward to working with —- in the future to help expand the capabilities of this unique, historic asset.”
NASA will remain the primary user of the VAB for the Space Launch System and Orion programs. If an agreement is negotiated, NASA will act as the overall site operator for the facility. Details at http://go.nasa.gov/26hoG9a and on Kennedy’s Partnerships page at http://go.nasa.gov/26hpk6E Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
More than 20 partners and prospective partners participated in a Partnership Landscape Forum hosted by the Center Planning and Development Directorate (CPD) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 7. The workshop was led by CPD Director Scott Colloredo, with welcoming remarks by Kennedy Center Director Bob Cabana.
“The landscape here at the Kennedy Space Center has changed tremendously in the last five years. We really are a multi-user spaceport and now we’re moving into a new phase of working agreements, Cabana said. “We’ve put the infrastructure in place to help make that happen. This is really an exciting time.”
Representatives from various Kennedy organizations shared information on the requirements necessary to do business with the center, including agreement approach and framework; commercial operations, safety and mission assurance requirements; and a perspective from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Presentations also covered Kennedy’s payload services capabilities, the Universal Propellant Servicing System developed for use at Launch Pad 39C and other launch locations, and the autonomous flight termination system that is available to customers through the center’s Technology Transfer Office.
“We’re counting on you, our current and future partners represented here today, to help shape the future of Kennedy and the whole space coast,” said Colloredo.
Government and academia forum participants included the U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing, FAA, Florida Department of Transportation, Space Florida, the Space Coast Economic Development Commission and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
Industry attendees included Blue Origin, Boeing, Ensco, Gilmour Space Corp., Greenboard Enterprise, Masten, Micro Aerospace Solutions, Orbital ATK, Rocket Crafters Inc., Rocket Lab USA, Space Systems Alliance, SpaceX, TrailBlazer Technologies, United Launch Alliance and Virgin Galactic.
Attendees were encouraged to ask questions and participate in a roundtable discussion.
“Thank you for coming out today to share your ideas. Your feedback will help make this multi-user spaceport successful,” said Kennedy Deputy Director Janet Petro. “We want to be the place that people want to come to do business.”
Residents aboard the International Space Station are expecting a cargo delivery Sunday.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Space Launch Complex 40 on Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Friday afternoon carrying a Dragon spacecraft packed with nearly 7,000 pounds of science experiments, crew supplies and technology demonstrations bound for the orbiting laboratory. The on-time liftoff at 4:43 p.m. EDT set the spacecraft on a two-day chase of the station. (Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett. View larger)
“We’re very excited to have our cargo and Dragon safely on orbit and we’re looking forward to it arriving at the International Space Station,” said Kirk Shireman, manager of the International Space Station Program at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, adding that all systems on the station are ready to support the mission.
SpaceX reports the Dragon spacecraft is healthy and performing as expected. Its first orbital adjustment burn is scheduled for Saturday morning.
Dragon will arrive at the station Sunday. Watch the rendezvous and capture live on NASA TV beginning at 5:30 a.m. Sunday on NASA TV. Installation of the Dragon on the bottom side of the station’s Harmony module is set to begin at 9:30 a.m. For updates throughout the mission, visit www.nasa.gov/spacex.
Plant pillows containing ‘Tokyo Bekana’ Chinese cabbage seeds for NASA’s third Veggie plant growth system experiment, Veg-03, were prepared at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for their flight to the International Space Station. Veg-03 will continue NASA’s deep-space plant growth research to benefit the Earth and the agency’s journey to Mars. Veg-03 will be delivered aboard the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft during its eighth Commercial Resupply Services mission.
Veg-03 is a follow-on experiment to the Veg-01 experiment that launched in 2014 and contained ’Outredgeous‘ red romaine lettuce seeds. Plants grow differently in space than on Earth based on differences in the environmental factors controlling growth. Future long-duration missions into the solar system, finally culminating on Mars, will require a fresh food supply to supplement crew diets. Understanding how plants respond to microgravity is an important step toward that goal.
“This variety of Chinese cabbage was selected based on excellent growth and flavor,” said Gioia Massa, NASA Veg-03 science team lead. “Veg-03 will allow us to test a new variety of crop plants that we hope the crew will eat and enjoy as we work toward developing a salad system for ISS.”
Inside a laboratory at the Space Station Processing Facility, the Veg-03 science team inserted a wick into each of the 18 pillows and then measured a precise amount of calcined clay, or space dirt, and fertilizer, and inserted the mixture into each pillow. Each plant pillow was sealed by sewing the open end shut.
The science team sanitized the cabbage seeds, along with additional ‘Outredgeous’ lettuce seeds, and then planted the seeds into each pillow before sealing them in gas-impermeable bags and transferring them to the Engineering Services contractor for packing into a cargo transport bag. Twelve pillows of Chinese cabbage and six of lettuce will be sent to ISS.
“Veg-03 will build on former crewmember Scott Kelly’s autonomous gardening by testing similar gardening procedures with the leafy greens. We are hopeful that the ISS crewmembers will like the Chinese cabbage,” said Trent Smith, Veggie project manager.
Aboard the space station, crew members will insert the plant pillows into the Veggie plant growth system, activate the system’s LED lights, add water, and regularly monitor and care for the growth of the plants.
Later this summer, NASA also will send a plaque to the International Space Station that the crew members will affix to the Veggie facility to recognize and honor the legacy of space biology pioneers, particularly the recently deceased Thora Halstead and Ken Souza. Their research exploring how living organisms respond to a low-gravity environment and their early stewardship of a new science that became the discipline of space biology will continue to benefit future explorers on the journey to Mars.