Monthly Archives: November 2016

Space Station Processing Modified with Eye on Future Use

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Operational upgrades are completed inside the SSPF, featuring Bob Cabana

The high bay designed to process, test and complete a multitude of modules for the International Space Station will be able to house a robust assortment of space-bound hardware after continued modifications to the Space Station Processing Facility free up zones tailored to a variety of needs by commercial space companies and other NASA programs.

For instance, even moving the operations desk about 40 feet so it doesn’t restrict a large doorway was a small amount of work that made the high bay more accessible from nearby laboratories, said Bill Dowdell, International Space Station technical director.

“I think it’s important for people to come in here and see that we are organizing and getting ready for that eventuality of commercial entities operating in this building along with NASA programs,” Dowdell said. “It’s in keeping with what we’ve done before with industrial operations zones. This enables us to give people a footprint of their own to work in.”

Although the space station has been complete for more than five years, the processing hall has been used to prep numerous other missions including Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft for two cargo resupply missions. Orbital ATK with help from Jacobs engineers and specialists under the Test and Operations Contract, or TOSC, will use the high bay again for a third Cygnus spacecraft that will fly a cargo mission to the space station.

The modifications to the Space Station Processing Facility are the latest in a continuing line of improvements across the Florida spaceport. Rather than shape its facilities for a single program and spacecraft, Kennedy is becoming home to multiple programs, spacecraft and rockets. For example, former space shuttle hangars are being used for a new generation of human-rated spacecraft, launch pads have been refit to support large new rockets and the Vehicle Assembly Building has been modernized. For more: http://go.nasa.gov/2g0wmI1 Photo credit: NASA/Daniel Casper

Advanced Plant Habitat Test Unit Arrives at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

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The Advanced Plant Habitat test unit in the SSPF at Kennedy Space Center.

A test unit of NASA’s Advanced Plant Habitat was delivered to the Space Station Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Nov. 17. Photo credit: NASA/Bill White

A high fidelity test version of NASA’s Advanced Plant Habitat (APH), the largest plant chamber built for the agency, arrived at Kennedy Space Center in Florida last week. The engineering development unit arrived by truck, was offloaded and transported to a laboratory at the Space Station Processing Facility.

Inside the lab, NASA engineers, and scientists and technicians on the Engineering Services Contract will train with the test unit to learn how to handle and assemble it before the actual APH unit arrives early next year. They also will test how the science integrates with the various systems of the plant habitat.

NASA Kennedy engineers designed parts of the APH, but also fabricated the flight growth chamber, with the remaining subsystems designed and built by ORBITEC in Madison, Wisconsin. The unit is a closed-loop system with a controlled environment than can house large plants. The system will use red, green and blue LED lights, similar to the Veggie growth system that currently is on the International Space Station. The APH also has the capability of using white LEDs and infrared light. The APH will have about 180 sensors and four times the light output of Veggie.

Kennedy scientists developed the science carrier that will be inserted in the APH for plant growth experiments on the space station and the control experiments on the ground. Payload integration engineers with Jacobs, on the Test and Operations Support Contract, will help integrate the science, or seeds, into the APH. Jacobs research scientists also are providing lab space and support for the APH.

The small-scale experiment, called Plant Habitat 1 or PH01, will contain Arabidopsis seeds, small flowering plants related to cabbage and mustard. PH01 and the APH unit will be delivered to the space station in 2017.

Orion Crew Module Adapter Lifted in Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

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The Orion crew module adapter was lifted Nov. 11 and lowered onto a test stand for further testing.

The Orion crew module adapter was lifted out of its work stand Nov. 11 and is now undergoing secondary structure outfitting in the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building high bay at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/ Glen Benson

Processing activity at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida has ramped up in preparation for the agency’s launch of the Orion spacecraft atop the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket on its first deep space mission, Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1).

The Orion crew module adapter (CMA) for EM-1 was lifted for the first and only time, Nov. 11, during its processing flow inside the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout (O&C) Building high bay at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

A crane lowers the Orion crew module structural test article onto a test tool called the birdcage Nov. 16.

Technicians with Lockheed Martin, the Orion crew module manufacturer, lowered the adapter onto a test stand for secondary structure outfitting. The CMA will be moved into a temporary clean room at the end of the month for propellant and environmental control and life support system tube installation and welding.

The adapter will connect the Orion crew module to the European Space Agency-provided service module. The Orion spacecraft will launch on the SLS rocket on EM-1 scheduled for late 2018.

In the meantime, the Orion crew module structural test article (STA), pictured above right, arrived in its shipping container at Kennedy’s Shuttle Landing Facility aboard the agency’s Super Guppy aircraft Nov. 15 from the agency’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.  The test article was transported to Stennis from the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans.

The container was offloaded and transported to the O&C on Nov. 16 where it was uncrated. Technicians removed the test module’s protective covering. Then it was lifted by crane and moved to a test tool called a birdcage where it was secured for further testing. The test article will undergo mechanical assembly for the next several months before being transported to Lockheed Martin in Denver for additional testing.

Above right photo credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky

Kennedy Employees Donate to Community on America Recycles Day

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Computers, monitors, vacuum cleaners and other electronics have been donated by employees at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida in conjunction with America Recycles Day.

Computers, monitors, vacuum cleaners and other electronics have been donated by employees at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida in conjunction with America Recycles Day.

A sign points the way to the electronic waste collection site, where NASA Kennedy Space Center employees donated computers, monitors, vacuum cleaners and other electronics in conjunction with America Recycles Day.Employees at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida brought a wide variety of household items to work Tuesday, Nov. 15, and Wednesday, Nov. 16, in conjunction with America Recycles Day.

America Recycles Day is a nationally recognized initiative dedicated to promoting recycling in the United States. Kennedy partnered with several organizations in order to donate as many of the items as possible to those who could use them the most in the Space Coast community. These included Goodwill Industries, Bridges BTC Inc., Cellphones for Soldiers, the Lions Club, and the Ronald McDonald House.

Space center personnel were invited to bring electronic waste, from cell phones to computers; new or gently used household items such as sporting goods, home decor and kitchen items; shoes, clothing and eyeglasses; and many more. Kennedy’s Sustainability team sponsored the event.

In total, spaceport employees made approximately 345 drop-offs. Televisions and cell phones were especially common.

“It turned out to be a great event,” said Jeanne Ryba, NASA Sustainability Specialist. “Employees appreciated the convenience of dropping off their unwanted items and knowing they would be used again by someone in the community, or disposed of in an Earth-friendly way.”

Photo credits: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Second Half of Platform C Installed in Vehicle Assembly Building High Bay 3

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Platform C North is installed in VAB High Bay 3.The second half of the C-level work platforms, C North, was installed Nov. 10 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 on the north wall of the high bay, about 280 feet above the floor.

The C platforms are the eighth 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 C platforms will provide access to the Space Launch System’s Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle Stage Adapter and the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage for mate activities. ICPS mate to the Launch Vehicle Stage Adapter (LVSA) operations occur on Platform C. ICPS umbilical mate operations also will be performed on this level. LVSA upper access doors are located on Platform C for entry to the top of the ICPS.

The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program is overseeing upgrades and modifications to the VAB, including installation of the new work platforms.

Photo credit: NASA/Daniel Casper

Second Half of Platform B Arrives for NASA’s Space Launch System

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Second half of Platform B arrives at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.The second half of the B-level work platforms, B north, for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, arrived by heavy-load transport truck at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Nov. 7. The B platforms are the ninth of 10 levels of new platforms for High Bay 3 in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB).

The platform was delivered to the VAB staging area in the west parking lot. 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 in the high bay.

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 for Exploration Mission 1 and deep space missions, including NASA’s Journey to Mars.

Photo credit: NASA/Glen Benson

GOES-R Set to Lift Off Nov. 19

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GOES-R Encapsulation

Team members with United Launch Alliance (ULA) prepare the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES-R) for encapsulation in the payload fairing inside the Astrotech payload processing facility in Titusville, Florida near NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. GOES-R will be the first satellite in a series of next-generation NOAA GOES Satellites. The spacecraft is to launch aboard a ULA Atlas V rocket in November.

An Atlas V rocket is set to lift off Nov. 19 at 5:42 p.m. EST to deliver NOAA’s latest-generation weather satellite, GOES-R, into orbit. NASA is conducting the launch through its Launch Services Program. United Launch Alliance engineers are processing the rocket at Space Launch Complex 41 ahead of launch. After several months of processing at Astrotech in Titusville, Florida, the GOES-R spacecraft has been encapsulated inside a payload fairing for protection during the climb through Earth’s atmosphere on the way to orbit. Carrying the most advanced sensors of their kind, the GOES-R spacecraft will fly more than 22,000 miles above Earth where it will offer weather forecasters an unblinking eye on conditions on the planet below.

Utah State Students Bring Eden Garden to Kennedy

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Utah State students Elizabeth Sherman, Emilee Madsen, Daniel Froerer, Zachary Jensen and Professor Timothy Taylor talk about their Eden project with Kennedy scientists and engineers.

Above: Utah State students Elizabeth Sherman, Emilee Madsen, Daniel Froerer, Zachary Jensen and Professor Timothy Taylor talk about their Eden project with Kennedy scientists and engineers. Right: Dr. Gioia Massa takes a look at the substrate created by the students. Photo Credits: NASA

Students from Utah State University presented Eden, a plant chamber that could be operated autonomously during long-term spaceflight missions, while visiting Kennedy Space Center Nov. 7. This project is part of NASA’s eXploration Systems and Habitation (X-Hab) Academic Innovation Challenge series, and also serves as a pathfinder for the type of technolDr. Gioia Massa takes a look at the substrate created by the students. ogy needed for future long duration missions beyond low-Earth orbit.

“The Utah State University X-HAB team did a fantastic job developing an innovative project,” commented Dr. Gioia Massa, a scientist who works on food production in space. “Their Eden X-HAB project demonstrated a very novel approach to sustaining plant growth in microgravity, with a 3-D printed substrate that could be a revolutionary way to provide water and nutrients to plants.”

Eden would make use of the 3-D printed substrate to deliver water, oxygen, and nutrients to plant roots in microgravity conditions. Students built an Eden prototype and grew plants in a 30-day test. This type of plant growth system would improve the autonomy of current plant growth systems in use aboard the International Space Station to make them more practical for limited crew time missions.