At an Orion Program Launch Readiness Review held June 28, the team preparing to launch Orion’s Ascent Abort-2 flight test gave a “go” to proceed to launch on Tuesday, July 2. Pending the outcome of a range readiness review to be held Monday, NASA is targeting the opening of a four-hour launch window at 7 a.m. EDT. Engineers will close out final operations at the launch pad over the weekend and on Monday to prepare for the test.
The Mobile Access Structure at Space Launch Complex 46 will be pulled back for the final time Tuesday morning before launch. Technicians had rolled it back earlier this week to perform end-to-end systems checkouts. The team also will temporarily pull it back on Monday to remove tape protecting sensors that will be used to collect data during the test.
NASA will hold an overview on the test at 11:30 a.m. Monday, which will air on NASA TV and the agency’s website.
A SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft is scheduled to launch at 7:35 p.m. EDT on Sunday, July 21, on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. This will be SpaceX’s 18th Commercial Resupply Services contract mission to the International Space Station for NASA.
Launch on July 21 results in an arrival at the space station for a robotic capture by Expedition 60 crew members Nick Hague and Christina Koch of NASA on Tuesday, July 23, at 7 a.m. EDT for about a month-long stay.
Learn more about station activities by following @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the space station Facebook and Instagram accounts.
Students from Cabrillo College in Aptos, California, received the top honors for this year’s NASA Swarmathon University Challenge. They received the recognition for developing an algorithm that they programmed, which was used in a set of Swarmie robots who scurried about collecting coded cubes and depositing them in a predetermined location.
“The Swarmathon has been a huge inspiration to my students. I saw their skill and confidence grow,” said Michael Matera, faculty team mentor at Cabrillo College. “The Swarmathon has immeasurably enriched my students’ education, and I’m very grateful to your team for organizing it.”
To culminate the fourth and final year of the Swarmathon challenge, a Swarmathon Robotics Workshop was held at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida on June 11, 2019. Students and mentors showcased the best of their work in Swarmathon. They heard from guest speakers, delivered a presentation during the poster session, talked to NASA employees and received information about NASA internships. The award ceremony was held at the visitor complex on June 12, 2019. Teams not able to attend the workshop or award ceremony joined in virtually.
This year’s competition started with a virtual competition, with 16 teams from colleges and universities in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. The top eight teams competed physically at the host location, the University of New Mexico, in May 2019. Teams built their Swarmies, small robotic vehicles equipped with sensors, a webcam, a GPS system and Wi-Fi antenna, to test their code during development. The Swarmies were programmed by the students to communicate and interact autonomously as a collective swarm.
“Real-world applications of college school work is a proven method of helping students absorb new topics and gain a thorough understanding of new concepts. It is well documented that ’hands-on’ projects for students lead to higher rates of recruitment and retention within STEM majors,” said Theresa Martinez, Minority University Research and Education Program (MUREP) Science, Technology, Education and Math (STEM) engagement manager at Kennedy Space Center.
The NASA Swarmathon challenge is an innovative swarming robotics competition for university students. The challenge has been administered by the University of New Mexico through a NASA MUREP grant in partnership with a technical NASA subject matter expert at the Swamp Works facility at Kennedy.
Swarmathon students gain experience with code integration, hardware testing, software engineering, project management and team collaboration critical to their future success in robotics and computer science. The students’ efforts advance swarm robotics technology for future NASA space exploration missions.
A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket successfully launched from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida on June 25, 2019, at 2:30 a.m. EDT for the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Space Test Program-2 (STP-2) mission. Twenty four satellites were on board, including four NASA payloads:
Enhanced Tandem Beacon Experiment (E-TBEx) – twin cube satellites (CubeSats) that will measure the disruption of radio signals from natural-forming bubbles in the Earth’s upper atmosphere. Understanding these disruptions and how to overcome them ultimately will improve the reliability of radio and GPS signals, which we rely on so heavily.
Deep Space Atomic Clock (DSAC) – a technology demonstration that aims to change the way we navigate our spacecraft by making the spacecraft more autonomous.
Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM) – a “green” alternative to hydrazine, a highly toxic propellant currently used. If successful, this low-toxicity fuel and compatible propulsion system could replace hydrazine in future spacecraft and ease handling concerns on Earth.
Space Environment Testbeds (SET) – studies how to protect satellites in space by characterizing the harsh space environment near Earth and how that affects the spacecraft and its instruments. Understanding this can be used to improve design and engineering in order to further protect the spacecraft from harmful radiation derived from the Sun.
Native Americans in Florida have been largely affected by world events, but they also played an important role in influencing the outcomes of the world. Kennedy Space Center employees had the opportunity to attend a presentation on this topic June 11.
The presentation was brought to Kennedy by the Native American Heritage Initiative (NAHI) Employee Resource Group. One of eight resource groups at Kennedy, NAHI aims to bring employees together, provide networking opportunities and inform the workforce about our heritage.
Daniel Murphree, Ph.D., associate professor of history at the University of Central Florida, spoke on the history of native peoples in Florida and how their influences on the world continue even into today. “I always like to remind people that indigenous people were here before us,” he said. “The indigenous people who were here before us really paved the way for us to be here.”
Native peoples played a large role in the European colonization of Florida, participated in revolutionary activity during the American Revolution, and served in 20th and 21st century wars. They also contributed to the economics of the world by selling gold they would salvage from shipwrecks back to the Europeans, providing fish and farm produce to Florida settlers, and supplying materials, such as deerskins, alligator hides and exotic bird feathers, that were used in London and New York fashion.
More presently, Native Americans contribute to tourism in Florida and have capitalized on the gaming industry. A large number of casinos are found on reservations mainly because many state restrictions on gambling don’t apply on the reservations due to Native American sovereignty. “The Indians didn’t create the same kind of laws restricting gambling that you would see in the states and, therefore, they became the places people would go,” said Murphree.
They also have influenced world views, sparking the debate on what savagery and civilization mean, the understanding of what conquest and sovereignty mean, and have been key to the societal acceptance of the gender roles that we enjoy today.
“Instead of Native Americans being outside of this Atlantic World that was formed, they were an integral part of it,” said Murphree. “They weren’t just affected by it, but they affected it themselves.”
Kennedy Space Center personnel and American Medical Response (AMR) contractor paramedics gathered at the Florida spaceport’s Shuttle Landing Facility on May 17, 2019, for a medical support training course.
The course was designed to familiarize the AMR paramedics with the center’s Triage Forces deployment, which included medical team members, fire/rescue personnel, environmental health specialists and flight operations crew members, as well as a helicopter, Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) tactical vehicle, fire pumper truck and triage vehicles.
Signs indicated the “dirty side,” where patient off-loading and decontamination would take place, and the “clean side,” used for patient evaluation and medevac.
The AMR paramedics will assist the agency in contingency planning for the return of human spaceflight from Kennedy.