Monthly Archives: February 2017

Kennedy Space Center Participates in National Engineers Week

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Harris Corp. presents during National Engineers Week events at Kennedy Space Center.

Robert Basta, chief systems engineer for the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R (GOES-R) Ground at Harris Corp., was a guest speaker during National Engineers Week events at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. GOES-R launched aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket Nov. 19, 2016 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Basta gave a glimpse into the world of development and discovery of this environmental science mission that is making life better for everyone on Earth. He discussed what happens before and after a science mission launches. Photo credit: NASA/Cory Huston

Engineering in all of its disciplines was the focus of several special events attended by NASA and contractor workers at Kennedy Space Center to celebrate National Engineers Week, Feb. 21-24. Events were coordinated by the center’s Engineering Directorate.

“All of the missions we take on at KSC, in NASA, and indeed across the country, have a little, or a lot, of engineering,” said Pat Simpkins, Engineering director. “The celebration of Engineer’s Week began in 1952, originally in conjunction with President George Washington’s birthday. President Washington was considered the nation’s first engineer, and this week is a little celebration of how far we’ve come.”

Moon Express presents during National Engineers Week events at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Robert Noteboom, vice president of Advanced Technology with Moon Express was a guest speaker during National Engineers Week events at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Noteboom shared an update on the company’s progress, future plans and how they are helping to pave the way for commercial space activities. Moon Express currently is one of only five teams left in an intense engineering competition for moon rover reconnaissance. Photo credit: NASA/Frank Michaux

Presentations featured engineers from the Ground Systems Development and Operations (GSDO) Program, ISS Exploration Research and Technology, Spaceport Integration and Services, and Communication and Public Engagement. They discussed their individual experiences navigating engineering careers and their evolution becoming leaders in their organizations.

Robert Basta, chief systems engineer for the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R (GOES-R) Ground at Harris Corp. gave a glimpse into the world of development and discovery of this environmental science mission that is making life better for everyone on Earth. Robert Noteboom, vice president of Advanced Technology with Moon Express shared an update on the company’s progress, future plans, and how they are helping to pave the way for commercial space activities.

NASA’s Digital Learning Network hosted a series of webcasts as part of “Introduce a Girl to Engineering.” Three female engineers from Kennedy were featured guests.

The Engineering Directorate provides support to programs across the center, including GSDO, Launch Services, ISS Exploration Research and Technology, and Commercial Crew. Engineers are helping to transform Kennedy into a multi-user spaceport that supports government and commercial launches.

National Engineers Week, referred to as EWeek, was founded in 1951 by the National Society of Professional Engineers. The society is dedicated to ensuring a diverse and well-educated future engineering workforce by increasing understanding of and interest in engineering and technology careers. Each year, EWeek reaches thousands of schools, businesses and community groups across the U.S.

Saffire-III Fire Experiment Prepped for Flight to Station

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NASA’s Glenn Research Center shared a video clip from the running of the Saffire-1 experiment aboard the Cygnus spacecraft. This screenshot shows the fire in progress.

NASA’s Glenn Research Center shared a video clip from the running of the Saffire-1 experiment aboard the Cygnus spacecraft. This screenshot shows the fire in progress. Photo credit: NASA/Glenn Research Center

After setting a couple of large fires in space, it’s almost time to send the third Spacecraft Fire Experiment, or Saffire, to the International Space Station. Saffire-III was recently integrated into the Cygnus spacecraft in Kennedy Space Center’s Space Station Processing Facility in Florida.

The experiment will fly to the station aboard Orbital ATK’s seventh commercial resupply services mission to the space station. But it will have to wait until this summer to do its work. In June, the trash-filled Cygnus resupply vehicle departs the station with Saffire onboard and re-enters the Earth’s atmosphere, and that’s when a fire is lit — providing a unique environment for studying fires in microgravity.

The experiment lasts about two-and-a-half hours, of which 20 minutes is the actual burn. The flame will grow across a panel measuring .4 meters wide by 1 meter long. The oxygen concentration in the vehicle is nearly 21 percent by volume — the same as in the space station when the hatch is closed. The ignition is controlled from a ground station that will activate a hot wire along the upstream edge.

Saffires I and II successfully flew and operated on Orbital ATK’s fifth and sixth contracted resupply missions respectively. The next generation of Saffire experiments are being designed now to fly starting in 2019. These experiments will advance capabilities for flammability tests and provide a testbed for the technology development of devices that detect gases and particulates from a fire, as well as scrub the atmosphere after a fire so it is safe for the crew to re-enter.

Understanding how to detect fires, how they spread, and how to clean up after them, is vital for ensuring crew safety and preventing fires in space.

Media View New Work Platforms for NASA’s Space Launch System

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Media view new work platforms in Vehicle Assembly Building High Bay 3.Members of the news media recently viewed the ten levels of new work platforms inside High Bay 3 of the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Work to install the platforms came to conclusion Jan. 12 as the final work platform, A north, was lifted, installed and secured on its rail beam on the north wall of the high bay inside the iconic facility.

Twenty platform halves will surround NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the Orion spacecraft atop the mobile launcher and allow access during processing for missions, including the first flight test of Orion atop the SLS.

With the goal of being a multi-user facility, the new platforms were designed to be adjusted up and down, and in and out on their rail beams in order to accommodate the SLS and its solid rocket boosters, as well as other vehicles.

Design of the new platforms began in 2010. NASA awarded a contract to modify High Bay 3 to the Hensel Phelps Construction Co. of Greeley, Colorado, in March 2014. Hundreds of NASA and contractor workers were involved in the design, manufacture and installation of the platforms.

The platform levels are A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, J and K. With the K-level being the lowest and the A-level the highest platforms.

The mobile launcher will be rolled into High Bay 3 in the fall for multi-element verification and validation testing with the platforms.

Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

NASA Cargo Headed to Space Station Includes Important Experiments, Equipment

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The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Launch Complex 39A on the CRS-10 mission to the International Space StationMajor experiments that will look into a range of scientific disciplines from human health to atmospheric conditions on Earth are on their way to the International Space Station following liftoff at 9:39 a.m. EST aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. About 5,500 pounds of research equipment, cargo and supplies are packed into the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft that is now in Earth orbit and headed to the station on the CRS-10 mission.

SpaceX’s Dragon cargo craft launched from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This was the first commercial launch from Kennedy’s historic pad.

Astronauts Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency and Shane Kimbrough of NASA will use the space station’s robotic arm to capture Dragon when it arrives at the station. Live coverage of the rendezvous and capture will begin at 4:30 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22 on NASA TV and the agency’s website, with installation coverage set to begin at 8:30 a.m.

Research materials flying inside the Dragon’s pressurized area include a crystal growth experiment that will crystallize a monoclonal antibody that is undergoing clinical trials for the treatment of immunological diseases. Growing the crystal in space will allow it develop more than it could on Earth where gravity causes crystals to collapse on themselves. Preserving these antibodies in crystals allows researchers a glimpse into how the biological molecules are arranged, which can provide new information about how they work in the body. So far, Earth-grown crystalline suspensions of monoclonal antibodies have proven to be too low-quality to fully model.

Better defining how some bacteria become drug-resistant is the focus of another experiment that aims to develop medicines that counter the resistance. Stem cells like those used to treat strokes and other occurrences also will be studied using experiment supplies brought up on this flight.

The equipment aboard the Dragon includes a major instrument that will survey Earth’s upper atmosphere in a continuation of one of NASA’s longest-running Earth-observing programs. Called SAGE III for Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment, the instrument examines the levels of ozone, aerosols, nitrogen dioxide and water vapor in the stratosphere and troposphere high above Earth. It is the latest version of an experiment that began in 1979 and has created a multi-decade record of measurements. The 2,200-pound instrument will be connected to the outside of the station to make daily observations for several years.

The mission is the company’s tenth cargo flight to the station under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract. Dragon’s cargo will support dozens of the more than 250 science and research investigations during the station’s Expeditions 50 and 51.

Dragon is scheduled to depart the space station in late March, returning nearly 5,000 pounds of science, hardware and crew supplies.

Forecast Continues to Improve: Now 70 Percent ‘Go’

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Dragon spacecraft captured by International Space Station armWith one day before launch, the weather forecast for the SpaceX CRS-10 mission continues to improve. Meteorologists with the Air Force’s 45th Weather Squadron now call for a 70 percent chance of acceptable conditions at launch time Saturday morning. The primary concern is for potential violation of the thick cloud layer rule for launch.

Liftoff is scheduled for 10:01 a.m. EST from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is to carry an uncrewed Dragon spacecraft into orbit carrying about 5,500 pounds of equipment, experiments and supplies to the International Space Station. For a closer look at the mission itself, read our preview feature at http://go.nasa.gov/2lnx2wb.

Here’s the detailed forecast: Cold temperatures this morning will quickly give way to a beautiful, sunny day over the Space Coast. Also today, an upper-level trough generating clouds and precipitation over the central Gulf of Mexico is slowly moving east and strengthening. On Saturday, this upper-level trough will bring moisture over the Florida peninsula. The clouds and isolated rain will steadily progress eastward through the day, although the most significant weather will not make it to the Spaceport until after the launch window. The primary weather concern for launch is the thick cloud cover associated with the upper-level trough. Maximum upper-level winds will be from the southwest at 110 knots at 35,000 feet.

On Sunday, the cloudiness and rain associated with the upper-level trough will continue to slowly move east, diminishing through the countdown. The main weather concern will be cumulus clouds associated with lingering instability. Max upper-level winds will be northwesterly at 80 knots near 34,000 feet.

Forecast Predicts 50-50 Chance of Favorable Conditions Saturday

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SpaceXCRS10-on39AThe weather forecast for Saturday’s planned launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket predicts a 50 percent chance of ‘go’ conditions. Liftoff is scheduled for 10:01 a.m. EST from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A, but meteorologists with the U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron cite rain in the flight path and thick cloud layers as weather concerns during the launch window.

The rocket is set to carry a SpaceX Dragon cargo module packed with science experiments and crew supplies bound for the International Space Station. This is the company’s tenth contracted cargo resupply flight to the station.

 

ULA Atlas V Arrives for Next Orbital ATK Space Station Resupply Mission

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OA-7 Atlas V Booster arrives at the Army Wharf, is offloaded and transfered to the ASOC.

NASA recently took another step in preparations for Orbital ATK’s seventh commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station. The United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V booster arrived at the Army Outpost wharf at Port Canaveral, Florida, near the Kennedy Space Center.

The Atlas V rocket was assembled at the ULA plant in Decatur, Alabama, about 20 miles southwest of Huntsville. After completion, the Atlas V was shipped aboard the Mariner cargo ship down the Tennessee River and Tombigbee Waterway, a canal, through the Gulf of Mexico to Port Canaveral.

From the port, the booster was transported to the hangar at the Atlas Spaceflight Operations Center, located south of Launch Complex 41 (SLC-41) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The Atlas V will undergo final testing in that facility. When processing is complete, the Atlas V booster will be moved to the Vertical Integration Facility for stacking approximately .3 miles from SLC-41.

Scheduled for launch at approximately 10:56 p.m. on March 19, 2017, the Atlas V rocket will boost an Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo spacecraft loaded with thousands of pounds of supplies and equipment for the crew aboard the space station. Additionally, scientific experiments will be aboard for research by the crew on the station to improve life on Earth and drive progress toward future space flight.

Photo credit: United Launch Alliance

 

First Solid Rocket Booster Forward Skirt for NASA’s Space Launch System Arrives at Kennedy Space Center

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The left-hand forward skirt for the Space Launch System solid rocket boosters arrives at Hangar AF.The forward skirt for the left-hand solid rocket booster of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket arrived at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida from booster prime contractor Orbital ATK’s facilities in Promontory, Utah on February 1, 2017. The left-hand forward skirt was transported to Hangar AF where it will continue refurbishment to support the first uncrewed flight test of the Orion spacecraft atop the SLS rocket from Launch Pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center.

The forward skirts for the left- and right-hand solid rocket boosters are located near the top, or forward assembly, of the boosters. The solid rocket boosters will generate a combined 7.2 million pounds of thrust to help power the massive SLS rocket off the launch pad.

The large hangar and several support buildings — as well as Orbital ATK and NASA engineers and technicians — provide the capabilities and expertise to prepare booster hardware for flight. Other parts of the right and left booster structures for the SLS rocket also are being readied for the first flight.

Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Orion Crew Module Plumbing to Undergo Proof Pressure Testing

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Orion spacecraft in the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at Kennedy Space Center.The Orion crew module was moved from a work station to the proof pressure cell in the high bay of the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Jan. 26 to prepare for testing.

Engineers and technicians with NASA and Orion manufacturer Lockheed Martin, will prepare the crew module for a series of proof pressure and leak tests to confirm the welded joints of the propulsion and Environmental Control and Life Support Systems (ECLSS) tubing are solid and capable of withstanding launch, re-entry and landing.

The Orion propulsion system includes the propellant and thrusters which support deorbit and re-entry of the spacecraft while the ECLSS provides cooling for interior and exterior components on the crew module throughout the mission.

Technicians will attach ground support equipment to the propulsion and ECLSS tubing, and use helium to pressurize the tubing to its proof pressure and to higher pressures at which the weld joints will be checked for leakage.

For its uncrewed flight test, Orion will be outfitted with most of the systems needed for a crewed mission during its first flight atop the agency’s Space Launch System rocket from Launch Pad 39B at Kennedy.

Photo credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky