Test of Launch Umbilicals at Halfway Point for Mobile Launcher System

Testing is complete on the Core Stage Forward Skirt Umbilical at Kennedy Space Center.
Engineers and technicians gather at the Launch Equipment Test Facility with a signed banner to mark testing complete on the Core Stage Forward Skirt Umbilical. Photo credit: NASA/Cory Huston

NASA reached the halfway point on testing of the launch umbilicals for its Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft at the Launch Equipment Test Facility at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The Core Stage Forward Skirt Umbilical (CSFSU) underwent testing for four months. A team of engineers and technicians with the Engineering Directorate and the Ground Systems Development and Operations Program, along with support contractors, conducted the tests. The CSFSU was attached to a Vehicle Motion Simulator at the LETF and tests confirmed the CSFSU load limits, its ability to disconnect before liftoff and that it is functioning properly and ready to be installed on the mobile launcher.

The CSFSU will be located at about the 180-foot level on the mobile launcher tower, above the vehicle liquid oxygen tank. During processing, the umbilical will be mated to the core stage forward skirt to provide commodities to the SLS rocket, and then disconnect and swing away before launch. Its main purpose is to provide conditioned air and gaseous nitrogen to the SLS Core Stage Forward Skirt.

The umbilical was transported to the mobile launcher area in December, where it is being prepared for installation on the tower of the mobile launcher.

The other umbilicals which have been tested at the LETF and are now at the mobile launcher area are the Orion Service Module Umbilical, two Aft Skirt Electrical Umbilicals, two Aft Skirt Purge Umbilicals, and three of the eight Vehicle Support Posts.

Tribute Unveiled Honoring Apollo 1 Crew

Apollo 1 Tribute

IMG_0007It’s been 50 years since the crew of Apollo 1 perished in a fire at the launch pad, but the lives, accomplishments and heroism of the three astronauts are celebrated in a dynamic, new tribute that is part museum, part memorial and part family scrapbook.

Called “Ad Astra Per Aspera – A Rough Road Leads to the Stars”, the tribute exhibit carries the blessings of the families of astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White II and Roger Chaffee. It showcases clothing, tools and models that define the men as their parents, wives and children saw them as much as how the nation viewed them.

“Although the fire took place across the river on Launch Pad 34, their story didn’t end there and their legacy lives on today,” said Sheryl Chaffee, daughter of Roger Chaffee.

The tribute was dedicated during a ceremony at the Apollo/Saturn V Center at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Friday, Jan. 27, on the 50th anniversary of the fatal fire. It stands only a few miles from the long-abandoned Launch Complex 34, the launch pad where the fire took place. The pad was dismantled in 1968 after the launch of Apollo 7.

Former astronaut Tom Stafford, who flew Gemini and Apollo missions, spoke during the dedication. Read the full details of the tribute
at http://go.nasa.gov/2kBgtJT.

Top photo by NASA/Kim Shiflett

Kennedy Space Center’s NASA Day of Remembrance to be Observed Jan. 26


NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida will pay tribute to the crews of Apollo 1, the space shuttles Challenger and Columbia, as well as other agency colleagues, during Kennedy’s NASA Day of Remembrance on Thursday, Jan. 26. The ceremony, which will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 1 tragedy, is scheduled for 10 a.m. EST at the Astronauts Memorial Foundation hall at the Kennedy visitor complex.

The first Apollo crew, Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee, perished when a flash fire broke out in their spacecraft on Jan. 27, 1967.

Speakers are scheduled to include NASA Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot, Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana, Sheryl Chaffee, daughter of Roger Chaffee, as well as Apollo astronauts Mike Collins and Charlie Duke.

A wreath laying will follow the ceremony on site at the Space Mirror Memorial.

The observance is hosted by the Astronauts Memorial Foundation, paying tribute to those who acknowledged exploration of space is an unforgiving environment but believed it worth the risk.

Photo credit: NASA/Tim Jacobs

The Day of Remembrance ceremony will be carried live on NASA Television at:

Cabbage Now on Astronaut’s Menu

Jeff Richards with Stinger Ghaffarian Technologies of the Engineering Services Contract is one of the researchers who worked on a ground test of Chinese cabbage this past summer. Photo credit: NASA
Above: Jeff Richards with Stinger Ghaffarian Technologies of the Engineering Services Contract is one of the researchers who worked on a ground test of Chinese cabbage this past summer. Below right: Veggie Project Manager Nicole Dufour provides real-time instructions to astronaut Peggy Whitson aboard the International Space Station as she initiates the latest Veggie experiment. Photo credits: NASA

Veggie Project Manager Nicole Dufour provides real-time instructions to astronaut Peggy Whitson aboard the International Space Station as she initiates the latest Veggie experiment.  Photo credit: NASAAstronaut Peggy Whitson will initiate the next round of crops to be grown aboard the International Space Station today. For the first time, a Chinese cabbage variety named Tokyo Bekana will be grown in space. The cabbage was chosen as a good candidate because it is a quick growing leafy green that is rated highly from a nutritional and taste perspective. Whitson will act as the on-orbit gardener, tending to the cabbage for about a month.

Kennedy Honors Gene Cernan in Wreath-laying Service

31543239103_af997d8136_oWreath Laying Ceremony for Eugene CernanGemini Crew Welcomed by Wasp CrewHouse Hearing NASA Human Spaceflight Plan

Members of the Kennedy Space Center community gathered Wednesday afternoon to remember astronaut Gene Cernan with a wreath-laying service at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Cernan died Monday in Houston at age 82.

“One of the things that he was extremely passionate about was exploring beyond our home planet, developing that capability to go back to the moon and then go beyond,” said Bob Cabana, a former astronaut who is director of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. “In talking with him, there was nobody who was more supportive of what we were doing and that’s his legacy, one of exploration and taking the word ‘impossible’ out of the dictionary.”

Although Cernan made history several times lifting off a few miles away aboard Gemini and Apollo spacecraft, he is best known for commanding Apollo 17, the last mission that saw men walk on the moon’s surface.

Cernan, a Navy fighter pilot before joining NASA in 1963, and Harrison “Jack” Schmidt made three moonwalks over the course of about three days as they lived on the moon and drove 22 miles across its face using the lunar rover. Ron Evans flew the Apollo command module during the mission and remained in lunar orbit while Cernan and Schmidt conducted their surface experiments and collected hundreds of pounds of moon rocks.

Cernan climbed the ladder into the lunar module after his third moonwalk in December 1972, saying, “As we leave the moon at Taurus-Littrow, we leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind. Godspeed the crew of Apollo 17.”

The astronaut made his first spaceflight in June 1966 as pilot of Gemini 9 with Thomas Stafford commanding. They maneuvered the Gemini spacecraft through rendezvous with an unmanned satellite before Cernan stepped outside the capsule for his first spacewalk. Wednesday’s remembrance ceremony inside the Heroes and Legends hall took place a short walk from the exhibit featuring the Gemini 9 capsule.

Cernan’s second mission would take him within a few miles of the moon’s surface as lunar module pilot of Apollo 10. Again with Stafford commanding the mission, Cernan was joined by John Young who flew the command module during the flight that would rehearse all the aspects of Apollo 11 flight, except of course, the touch down.

Though he retired from NASA in 1976, Cernan regularly visited Kennedy and was a frequent guest speaker for groups large and small. He was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in 1993. Cernan and Stafford spoke to a group of then-new shuttle astronauts in 1978 including Jon McBride.

“Gene was one of the foremost advocates of nurturing and encouraging our young people to follow in his footsteps,” McBride said. “He didn’t want people to talk about him as the last man to walk on the moon, he wanted to be called ‘the most recent’ person to walk on the moon. He was an idol for me and an idol for millions.”

Photo credits: Top, Cernan after moonwalk during Apollo 17: NASA; right – NASA/Ben Smegelsky, right middle and bottom – NASA

NASA, Contractor Workers Sign Final Platform in Vehicle Assembly Building

Workers sign final platform in the Vehicle Assembly Building.NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Engineering Directorate coordinated a platform beam signing event to celebrate the NASA and contractor team’s last several years of study, design, construction and installation of 20 new work platforms for NASA’s Space Launch System in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB).

Workers involved in the High Bay 3 platform project had the opportunity to sign one of the beams of the final work platform, A North, in the transfer aisle of the VAB.

The A platforms are the topmost and final level of 10 levels of work platforms that will surround and provide access to the agency’s Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft. Orion’s first uncrewed flight atop the rocket is scheduled for late 2018.

The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program, with support from the Engineering Directorate, is overseeing upgrades and modifications to the VAB, including installation and testing of the new work platforms.

Photo credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis

Final Work Platform Lifted into Place for NASA’s Space Launch System

Platform A North InstallationThe final work platform, A north, was lifted, installed and secured on its rail beam on the north wall of High Bay 3 inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Jan. 12.

The installation of the final topmost level completes the 10 levels of work platforms, 20 platform halves altogether, that will surround NASA’s Space Launch System rocket and the Orion spacecraft and allow access during processing for missions, including the first uncrewed flight test of Orion atop the SLS rocket in 2018.

The A platforms will provide access to the Orion spacecraft’s Launch Abort System for Orion lifting sling removal and installation of the closeout panels. The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program, with support from the center’s Engineering Directorate, is overseeing upgrades to the VAB, including the installation of the work platforms.

Photo credit: NASA/Frank Michaux

Reusable NORS Provides Fresh Air for Space Station Use

How do astronauts aboard the International Space Station get fresh oxygen for spacewalks and everyday use in the orbiting laboratory? After the space shuttle retired, NASA designed the Nitrogen Oxygen Recharge System, or NORS. Once onboard, the tanks are used to fill the oxygen and nitrogen tanks that supply the needed gases to the station’s airlock for spacewalks. They are also used as a secondary method to replenish the atmosphere inside of the space station.

The tanks are fully reusable once they have been inspected after returning from space. Earlier this week, the first flight-returned NORS Recharge Tank Assembly was depressurized at Kennedy. This particular NORS tank was returned on the SpaceX CRS-9 flight after spending almost a year on station. There are currently four more tanks aboard the station that are scheduled to come down soon so they may be reused in the future.

Spaceport Magazine Looks Back at Exciting 2016

SpM_January_2017_COVER smSpaceport Magazine takes a look back at the accomplishments of 2016 and some of the people our space community lost including a special remembrance of American legend John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth who later became a senator and returned to orbit on the space shuttle at age 77.

From advances made for NASA’s Journey to Mars, to progress toward launching Americans again from Florida with the Commercial Crew Program, this edition highlights the changes that continue to make Kennedy NASA’s premiere spaceport. We also take a look at the missions begun at Kennedy in 2016, including a recap of the December launch of the CYGNSS constellation of microsatellites that will study hurricanes. Click here to download Spaceport Magazine.