Pneumatic Systems Tested in Multi-Purpose Payload Facility for Orion

View of the service platform for Orion inside the Multi-Payload Processing Facility at Kennedy Space Center.
Engineers and technicians completed verification and validation testing of several pneumatic systems inside and outside the Multi-Payload Processing Facility (MPPF) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. In view is the service platform for Orion spacecraft processing. The MPPF will be used for offline processing and fueling of the Orion spacecraft and service module stack before launch. Orion also will be de-serviced in the MPPF after a mission. The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program (GSDO) is overseeing upgrades to the facility. The Engineering Directorate led the recent pneumatic tests. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Testing of systems critical to preparing Orion for its first flight atop NASA’s Space Launch System rocket were successfully completed in the Multi-Payload Processing Facility (MPPF) at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The MPPF is the location where fuel and commodities will be provided for the Orion spacecraft prior to launch. Orion also will be defueled and prepared for its next mission in this facility.

Pneumatics test team with banner.
Pneumatics test team members gather to mark the successful verification and validation of pneumatics testing in the Multi-Payload Processing Facility. Photo credit: NASA/Bonni Mcclure

Engineers and technicians completed a series of verification and validation tests of the pneumatic systems inside and outside the facility and confirmed they are ready to become operational, and that the systems meet requirements to support flight and ground systems that use pneumatic commodities.

“Completion of verification and validation testing of the pneumatic systems helps ensure that ground systems at Kennedy are ready to support Orion spacecraft processing,” said Stephen Anthony, pneumatic design engineering lead in the Environmental and Life Support Systems branch in the center’s Engineering Directorate.

Four pneumatic systems supply high pressure gases to various locations in the MPPF. These include gaseous nitrogen, gaseous helium and gaseous oxygen. They will be used to pressurize flight tanks on the Orion spacecraft. Another system, the breathing air system, provides an air source for personnel using Self-Contained Atmospheric Protection Ensembles, or SCAPE suits, which protect them during hazardous operations inside and outside the facility.

Leak tests of all of the pneumatic hardware installed inside and outside the MPPF were performed. Checkouts included verifying proper function of valves, regulators, pressure gauges and other components; verifying that the systems can be operated by command and control software; and performing flow tests of the systems to validate analysis and demonstrate that the systems meet requirements. A simulation of Orion flight tank fill operations also was performed.

“The pneumatic systems at the MPPF provide high pressure gases to many other ground and flight systems, making them vital to successful ground processing operations,” Anthony said.

The vast majority of the testing was completed between August 2016 and January 2017. Additional testing is scheduled this spring.

A team of about 60 NASA and contractor workers supported the tests, including design, operations, systems and project engineers, mechanics, technicians, logistics, safety, quality, configuration management, and construction of facilities personnel.

Radiological Control Center Renamed Honoring Randy Scott

Radiological Control Center (RADCC) Renaming Ceremony
Dr. David Tipton, left, chief of Aerospace Medicine and Occupational Health at the Kennedy Space Center, presents Myrna Scott, widow of Randy Scott, with a replica of the emblem noting that the spaceport’s Radiological Control Center has been named in honor of her husband who died last year.
Photo credit: NASA/Cory Huston

A ceremony in the NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Radiological Control Center honored the extensive contributions of Randy Scott, during which the facility was named in his honor. A professional health physicist of more than 40 years, Scott served as the Florida spaceport’s Radiation Protection Officer for 14 years until his death June 17, 2016.

During the March 31, 2017, ceremony, Director of Spaceport Integration and Services Nancy Bray spoke of Scott’s efforts to establish the Radiological Control Center.

“Randy had a vision, and he knew what it would take to make this a first-class spaceport and support the radiological mission,” she said. “This room serves a dual purpose. When we are not using it for a major radiological mission, it’s available to our emergency operations team.”

Bray then joined Dr. David Tipton, chief of Aerospace Medicine and Occupational Health, and Myrna Scott, Randy Scott’s widow, in cutting a ribbon dedicating the Randall E. Scott Radiological Control Center.

Scott is best known for his contingency planning efforts supporting planetary missions that included a plutonium-powered radioisotope thermalelectric generator (RTG). Spacecraft such as New Horizons, launched to Pluto on Jan. 19, 2006, and the Mars Science Laboratory with the Curiosity lander, lifting off on Nov. 26, 2011, take so long to travel so far from the sun that batteries and solar panels are impractical. Electrical power is provided by an RTG which produces electricity from heat generated by the natural decay of plutonium.

Located in the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout building, the Randall E. Scott Radiological Control Center is staffed by technical and radiological experts from NASA, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing and the state of Florida. The group performs data collection and assessment functions supporting launch site and field data collection activities.

Scott was awarded NASA’s Exceptional Service Medal in 2012 for coordinating multiple federal agencies’ radiological contingency preparedness and the Interagency Nuclear Safety Review Panel prior to launch of the Mars Science Laboratory.

Orbital ATK CRS-7 Mission Targeted for April 18 Launch

Orbital ATK's Cygnus module is mated to the Atlas V rocket at Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
The payload fairing containing the Orbital ATK Cygnus pressurized cargo module is mated to the Centaur upper stage, or second stage, of the United Launch Alliance rocket March 17 in the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Photo credit: United Launch Alliance

NASA, Orbital ATK and United Launch Alliance (ULA) are now targeting April 18 for the launch of Orbital ATK’s seventh contracted commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station. ULA has developed a plan to resolve an earlier booster hydraulic issue, and is moving forward with launch vehicle processing. Both the Atlas V rocket and Cygnus spacecraft remain secure. Several tons of cargo including crew supplies and science experiments packed aboard Cygnus remain in good shape.

Crawler-Transporter 2 Takes Test Drive along Crawlerway

Crawler-transporter 2 with MLP-1 atop moves slowly along the crawlerway at Kennedy Space Center.NASA’s crawler-transporter 2 (CT-2) took a test drive along the crawlerway at Kennedy Space Center to determine the structural dynamics and loading environments of the crawler’s recent upgrades. The test was performed to ensure that the crawler is ready to support the first integrated flight of the agency’s Orion spacecraft atop the Space Launch System.

The unloaded CT-2 rolled from the crawler yard along the crawlerway to the Pad A/B split for the first leg of the trip and traveled back to the mobile launcher platform park site near the Vehicle Assembly Building. For the loaded test, the crawler picked up Mobile Launch Platform 1 at the park site and returned to the Pad A/B split. Engineers took measurements during the entire trek using accelerometers, strain gauges and pressure transducers. The data collected will be used to validate the dynamic model of the integrated SLS.

CT-2 is the vehicle that will carry the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft on the mobile launcher to Pad B for launch. The behemoth vehicle recently was upgraded to support the heavier load of the SLS atop the mobile launcher.

Upgrades to the crawler included installation of new generators, gear assemblies, jacking, equalizing and leveling (JEL) hydraulic cylinders, roller bearings and brakes. Other systems also were upgraded.

The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program is overseeing upgrades to facilities and ground support equipment necessary to support the launch and deep space missions, including the Journey to Mars.

Photo credit: NASA/Leif Heimbold

Space Seed Cupboard Emptied with Cabbage Growth

At Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Veggie Project Manager Nicole Dufour instructs astronaut Peggy Whitson during the first harvest of Chinese cabbage aboard the International Space Station last month. Today begins the grow out of the second Chinese cabbage crop aboard the orbiting laboratory.
At Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Veggie Project Manager Nicole Dufour instructs astronaut Peggy Whitson during the first harvest of Chinese cabbage aboard the International Space Station last month. Today begins the grow out of the second Chinese cabbage crop aboard the orbiting laboratory.
Photo credit: NASA

Today, astronaut Peggy Whitson will pull out her gardening tools once again to initiate the next crop of Chinese cabbage to be grown aboard the International Space Station. This crop will be the second Chinese cabbage and the sixth crop grown in the Veggie system. The leafy greens will be allowed to grow for two months while Whitson periodically harvests leaves for crew enjoyment as well as for science. This will be the second time a space station crew has used the cut-and-come-again harvest technique intended to increase crop yield; the technique was previously used with ’Outredgeous’ lettuce.

This time around, the gardening guidance given to Whitson was revised to reflect the need for more water that was discovered during the first growth of Chinese cabbage earlier this year. According to Veggie Project Scientist Dr. Gioia Massa, every experiment provides new information as the Veggie team continues to lay the groundwork for future long-duration plant growth systems.

“Our main goal for this VEG-03C crop is to grow the Chinese cabbage for a longer duration and to see how plants respond to the cut-and-come-again repetitive harvest technique we used last fall with the ‘Outredgeous’ lettuce,” Massa said. “We hope that, similar to the lettuce, astronauts will get to eat more Chinese cabbage over a longer duration as we test more sustainable growth practices for this crop.”

Although these Chinese cabbage seeds are the last ones currently aboard the orbiting laboratory, the Veggie team does plan to send up more seed pillows in the near future. What seeds will those pillows contain? The team isn’t certain just yet, but the scientists have been studying peppers, tomatoes and other leafy greens.

Stay tuned for more cosmic cuisine!