In the image above, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft rotates on a spin table during a weight and center of gravity test May 24 inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. An overhead crane carefully returned the spacecraft to its work stand May 26 (right) to continue prelaunch processing.
OSIRIS-REx, stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security – Regolith Explorer. The spacecraft will travel to an asteroid, Bennu, retrieve a sample and return it to Earth. Liftoff is targeted for Sept. 8 aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.
Photos by NASA/Kim Shiflett (above) and NASA/Frank Michaux (right)
NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket will be assembled, processed and transported to the launch pad on a mobile launcher featuring a tower equipped with umbilicals connecting power, communications, fuel and other commodities to the vehicle.
For more information on the Mobile Launcher umbilicals and support systems, download the fact sheet at:
The Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida reached a new level of preparation for the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft. Platform H North was installed Tuesday in the iconic facility’s High Bay 3; its corresponding half, Platform H South, will be lowered into place today.
Platform H will allow technicians and engineers to reach the booster for mating of the forward/center segment to the center/center segment, as well as cable routing and booster closeouts.
It is the third of 10 levels of work platforms that will surround and provide access to the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft for Exploration Mission 1. The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program is overseeing upgrades and modifications to VAB High Bay 3, including installation of the new work platforms, to prepare for NASA’s journey to Mars.
Photo credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky
New work platforms being installed in Kennedy Space Center’s Vehicle Assembly Building will provide access for testing and processing NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. The rocket will launch an uncrewed Orion spacecraft on Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1) from Launch Pad 39B at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. SLS will be capable of launching crewed missions to deep space destinations, including the journey to Mars.
A new fact sheet provides details about these giant steel platforms and how they will accommodate the most powerful rocket in the world. Read more at
NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft arrived at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Friday evening aboard an Air Force C-17 cargo aircraft.
OSIRIS-REx stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security – Regolith Explorer. This will be the first U.S. mission to sample an asteroid, retrieve at least two ounces of surface material and return it to Earth for study. The asteroid, Bennu, may hold clues to the origin of the solar system and the source of water and organic molecules found on Earth.
Tucked inside a shipping container, the spacecraft traveled from Lockheed Martin’s facility near Denver, Colorado to Kennedy’s Shuttle Landing Facility. It was carefully offloaded from the aircraft and transported to the spaceport’s Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility to begin processing for its upcoming launch, targeted for Sept. 8 aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.
Photo credits: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis (top) and NASA/Bill White (right)
The spacecraft that will perform NASA’s Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security – Regolith Explorer mission, known as OSIRIS-REx, will arrive at Kennedy Space Center from Buckley Air Force Base near Denver on May 20 aboard an Air Force C-17 at the Shuttle Landing Facility.
OSIRIS-REx will come out of the shipping container May 21, go onto a rotation fixture on May 23, have a spin test May 24-25. It then will be hoisted onto a dolly May 26 for other upcoming activities. A partial solar array deployment test is scheduled on May 31.
OSIRIS-Rex is scheduled to launch Sept. 8 at 7:05 p.m. EDT. As planned, the spacecraft will reach its near-Earth asteroid target, called Bennu (formerly 1999 RQ36), in 2018. Once within three miles of the asteroid, the spacecraft will begin six months of comprehensive surface mapping.
The science team then will pick a location where the spacecraft’s arm will take a sample. The spacecraft gradually will move closer to the site, and the arm will extend to collect a 2.1-ounce sample for return to Earth in 2023. The mission will help scientists investigate how planets formed and how life began, as well as improve our understanding of asteroids that could impact Earth.
Bennu is about 1,640 feet in diameter or roughly the size of five football fields. The asteroid, a little altered over time, is likely to represent a snapshot of our solar system’s infancy.
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center provides overall mission management, systems engineering, and safety and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx. Dante Lauretta is the principal investigator at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver built the spacecraft. OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA’s New Frontiers Program. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages New Frontiers for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C.
Teams of undergraduate and graduate students from throughout the nation have gathered at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida to demonstrate their excavator robots during the 2016 Robotic Mining Competition. In the photo above, a participant uncrates his team’s robot to prepare for practice runs and competition.
The RMC is set up for college students to design and build a mining robot that can travel over a simulated Martian surface, excavate regolith — or Mars dirt — and deposit as much of it as possible into a bin, all within 10 minutes. Team members may control their bots remotely from a trailer where their only line of sight is via a computer screen, or completely autonomously, with their programming skills put to the test as their robot handles the mission on its own. The competition focuses on technologies necessary to extract consumables such as oxygen and water to support human life and provide methane fuel to spacecraft.
Visit the Robotic Mining Competition website for more information on the competitors, sponsors and event schedule (subject to change).
Photo credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis
The upper dome of a Boeing CST-100 Starliner is lowered onto the lower dome May 2, completing the first hull of the Starliner’s Structural Test Article. Identical to the operational Starliners Boeing plans to build and fly in partnership with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, the Structural Test Article is not meant to ever fly in space but rather to prove the manufacturing methods and overall ability of the spacecraft to handle the demands of spaceflight carrying astronauts to the International Space Station.
The work was performed inside the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It is the first spacecraft to come together inside the former shuttle hangar since shuttle Discovery was moved out of the facility following its retirement and move to the Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy Center near Washington, D.C., in 2012. You can watch Boeing’s video about the spacecraft’s manufacturing here.
Photo credit: Boeing
Engineers and technicians on the Test and Operations Support Contract go over procedures with liquid hydrogen (LH2) provider PRAXAIR April 28 to prepare for a fit check of the new LH2 transfer flex hose at Launch Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. LH2 provider PRAXAIR connected the transfer flex hose from its LH2 truck to the LH2 tanker to confirm that the hose fits and functions properly. The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program is overseeing upgrades and modifications to Pad 39B to support processing of the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft for Exploration Mission 1 and NASA’s journey to Mars.
Photo credit: NASA/Frankie Martin