A section of the second half of the C-level platforms, C North, for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, arrived at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Aug. 30. The platform was offloaded from a heavy lift transport truck and secured in a staging area in the west parking lot of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB).
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.
The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft was lifted into the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex 41 and bolted into place on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V on Monday. The spacecraft, enclosed in a protective fairing, is to liftoff aboard the rocket on Sept. 8 to begin its mission to survey an asteroid called Bennu and then take a small sample from its surface and send that sample to Earth for analysis. Photo credits: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis
The first half of the E-level work platforms, E South, was installed Aug. 26 in High Bay 3 inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The platform was lifted up by crane from the floor of the transfer aisle and lowered into the high bay for installation about 246 feet above the floor on the south wall of the high bay.
The E platforms are the sixth of 10 levels of platforms that will surround NASA’s Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft and provide access for testing and processing for the uncrewed Exploration Mission 1 flight test and deep-space missions, including the journey to Mars.
The E platforms will provide access to the SLS core stage forward skirt umbilical for mating operations. The platforms will provide entry into the core stage forward skirt for alignment measurements of the SLS critical navigation components.
The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program is overseeing upgrades and modifications to the VAB, including installation of the new work platforms.
The heat shield that will protect the Orion crew module during re-entry after the spacecraft’s first uncrewed flight atop NASA’s Space Launch System rocket in 2018 arrived at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Aug. 25. The heat shield arrived aboard NASA’s Super Guppy aircraft at Kennedy’s Shuttle Landing Facility, was offloaded and transported to the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout (O&C) Building high bay today.
The heat shield was designed and manufactured by Lockheed Martin in the company’s facility near Denver. Orion’s heat shield will help it endure the approximately 5,000 degrees F it will experience upon reentry. The heat shield measures 16.5 feet in diameter.
Orion is the spacecraft that will carry astronauts to deep-space destinations, including the journey to Mars. Orion will be equipped with power, communications and life support systems to sustain space travelers during their journey, and return them safely back to Earth.
The booster and Centaur upper stage of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V vent gaseous propellant during a “wet dress rehearsal” test at Space Launch Complex 41 on Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The rocket will boost NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft on its way to the asteroid Bennu. Short for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer, OSIRIS-REx is to survey the asteroid closely before taking a sample from its surface and sending that small sample back to Earth for study.
Targeted for liftoff Sept. 8, 2016, OSIRIS-REx 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 may hold clues to the origin of the solar system and the source of water and organic molecules found on Earth. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
NOAA’s GOES-R advanced weather satellite arrived in Florida on Aug. 22 aboard an Air Force C-5 Galaxy aircraft, touching down at the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. GOES-R then was transported to the Astrotech payload processing facility in nearby Titusville, where it was carefully removed from its shipping container, rotated, and placed into a test stand to begin prelaunch processing.
GOES-R will be the first satellite in a series of next-generation NOAA Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES), which will also include GOES-S, T, and U. These satellites will provide significant enhancements for weather forecasters at NOAA’s National Weather Service, giving them the ability to observe the Western Hemisphere in near-real time. GOES-R will offer three times more spectral channels, four times better resolution, and provide five times faster scans of the Earth compared with current GOES satellites.
The spacecraft is slated to launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket in November.
Even when he isn’t officially studying how food production could work on Mars, NASA’s Ralph Fritsche still spends his free time looking into it. He’s seriously committed to the cause.
Here you see a potato plant Fritsche grew in a Martian soil simulant in a small incubator from February to June. The real meat and potatoes of Fritsche’s official work is helping to baseline, document and publish scientific data on growing plants in a medium other than Earth soil so it may be used for future studies.
Just recently, Fritsche has joined forces with the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne to grow various plants in a Martian soil simulant in order to figure out what blend of nutrients will be best suited for growing plants on the planet in the coming decades.
On the upcoming SpaceX CRS-10 resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS), a Dragon spacecraft will deliver the Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment (SAGE) III instrument to further study ozone in the atmosphere.
Once mounted on the space station, SAGE III will measure the Earth’s sunscreen, or ozone, along with other gases and aerosols, or tiny particles in the atmosphere. SAGE will make its measurements by locking onto the sun or moon and scanning the limb, or thin profile of the atmosphere from that unique vantage point.
During the late 1970s, scientists began tracking a steady decline of ozone in the Earth’s stratosphere. It was determined this was caused by extensive use of human-produced chemicals. Following years of global efforts to significantly reduce the number of ozone-depleting substances, experts now are optimistic the ozone layer will recover.
Launch atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket currently is scheduled for late fall this year.
Since the instrument arrived at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, engineers at the Florida spaceport have assisted SAGE team members from the Langley Research Center in Virginia in preparing it for launch.
According to Rob Kuczajda, a Kennedy project manager in the ISS Utilization and Life Sciences Office, this SAGE III effort has been underway for several years.
“Our role actually began back in September 2011,” he said. “We sent a small delegation of engineers to Langley to meet with the SAGE team and learn about the payload. Our message was that Kennedy had years of expertise processing ISS payloads and that we were available to assist with SAGE III. Over the next four years, Kennedy engineers helped assemble and test parts of the payload.”
SAGE III now is being stored in the high bay of Kennedy’s Space Station Processing Facility (SSPF), a world-class processing laboratory. Every American-launched element for construction of the ISS, all cargo and each experiment is prepared and checked out in the SSPF, a crucial part of a premier multi-user spaceport.
To ensure SAGE III will be ready to go to work once it arrives at the ISS, extensive checkouts have been taking place in the special processing area of the SSPF.
“The processing has included functional testing on the payload, to verify everything is operating correctly after shipment of the payload from Langley to Florida,” Kuczajda said.
Jennifer Wahlberg, also a Kennedy utilization project manager, has played a key role in helping coordinate the Langley team’s testing.
“We have been assisting the SAGE III team from Langley with our ISS simulators,” she said. “They have performed command and data handling checkouts to make sure everything is going to transmit the data correctly, that commands go up and data can come down.”
Kuczajda pointed out that after the SAGE III team returns in September and hardware inspections are complete, the instrument will go back into the shipping container.
“The Kennedy Logistics team will deliver the instrument to the SpaceX payload processing facility at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station where it will be prepared for flight aboard the Dragon spacecraft,” he said.
Wahlberg had high praise for the team from Langley.
“It’s been great to work with the SAGE III team for the past several years,” she said. “It’s really amazing to see how many people can work together to bring successful science to bear.”
“And the feeling is mutual,” said Mike Cisewski, SAGE III/ISS project manager at NASA’s Langley Research Center. “Support from the KSC team has been exemplary through our payload development and processing at KSC. From logistics, to assembly of portions of our Nadir Viewing Platform and vibration testing fixture, for outstanding support at the Space Station Processing Facility, they have been great partners.”
Randy Wade, support manager of off-line labs in Kennedy’s Exploration Research and Technology Programs Directorate, is hoping the instrument will send back data that the ozone layer is improving.
“I’ve seen a lot of changes in fluorocarbon use,” he said. “We’ve done a lot of things here at the Kennedy Space Center to reduce the use of fluorocarbons, and automobile cooling systems have changed. So they are going to try to verify if those efforts made on Earth have helped improve the ozone layer.”
Wahlberg sees long-term benefits in the SAGE III research.
“I wish all the payload teams and the science teams great success,” she said. “I know they are doing important work for our future generations.”
The first half of the C-level work platforms for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), C South, arrived in two segments at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center this week. The first segment arrived Aug. 4, and the second segment arrived today. The C work platforms are the eighth of 10 levels of platforms that will surround the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) and provide access for processing.
The platform segments were transported from Sauer Corp. in Orlando, Florida, by Tillett Heavy Haul of Titusville, Florida. Sauer is a subcontractor to VAB general contractor Hensel Phelps. Tillett Heavy Haul is a subcontractor to Sauer. The platform was placed on a stand in a staging area near the VAB, where some final assembly will be performed before it is transferred into the building.
The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program is overseeing upgrades and modifications to the VAB, including installation of the new platforms, to prepare for Exploration Mission 1, deep-space missions and the journey to Mars.
NASA, local and state officials gathered at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida today to spaceport’s share their visions of the spaceport’s future and discuss ways to work together to give these plans the best chance at success.
“Working with the state of Florida, we’ve already created a very vibrant multi-user spaceport here,” said Tom Engler, acting director of Kennedy’s Center Planning and Development Directorate, or CPD.
“Our intent today is to engage with state partners on the things we’re doing here, and also to get ideas about how we could do things differently, better or more effectively.”
The KSC Roundtable is a semi-annual meeting hosted by CPD. The goal is to bring together agency insiders, government officials, and Florida representatives from a wide variety of industries to review Kennedy’s current plans and strengthen communications between all parties.
Thursday’s gathering is the sixth held at the spaceport in recent years. This meeting focused on the center’s land use for commercial space customers and sought feedback on Kennedy’s Master Plan, partnerships and more.
“In the past five years, significant upgrades to our infrastructure have prepared the center for the next 50 years of spaceflight,” Engler said. “I believe this to my core: The progress we have made here would not have been possible without the help of our partners in the state of Florida.”
“It’s up to people like us to tell this story,” said Rep. Steve Crisafulli, speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, referring to the benefits of working together to solve challenges. “There are a lot of ways to accomplish things.”
State and local government participants included Rep. Steve Crisafulli, speaker of the Florida House of Representatives; Rich Biter, former Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) assistant secretary, Intermodal Systems Development; Alan Hyman, director, Transportation Operations, FDOT District 5; and and Moataz Hassan, Brevard operations engineer, FDOT District 5.
Industry participants featured Marshall Heard, retired Boeing senior executive; Greg Weiner, senior director of business development with the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast; Charles Lee, director of advocacy, Florida Audubon Society; and Todd Pokrywa, senior vice president, The Viera Co.
“I just want to say thank you for being here. We’re all about partnerships, and these relationships go a long way,” Kelvin Manning, associate center director, told those in attendance.
“People look at Kennedy Space Center and how far we’ve come in the past five years, and they are impressed,” he added. “And it happens because of activities like this: people sitting around the table, talking to each other eye to eye.”