NASA Continues With Important Testing of Mars 2020 Rover Aeroshell

Mars 2020 rover aeroshell spin table tests
At NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, tests to measure the center of gravity and moments of inertia for the Mars 2020 rover aeroshell are performed on the spin table inside the Florida spaceport’s Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Tests to measure the center of gravity and moments of inertia for the Mars 2020 rover aeroshell were performed on the spin table inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The rover is being manufactured at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California and, once complete, will be delivered to Kennedy in mid-February. The rover’s heat shield and back shell arrived at Kennedy last month.

The mission is scheduled to launch this summer from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 541 rocket. NASA’s Launch Services Program based at Kennedy is managing the launch.

Carrying seven different scientific instruments, the Mars 2020 rover will land on the Red Planet on Feb. 18, 2021. More information can be found on the mission’s website.

Solar Orbiter Encapsulated in Atlas V Payload Fairing

Both halves of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V payload fairing are positioned for installation around the Solar Orbiter spacecraft inside the Astrotech Space Operations facility in Titusville, Florida, on Jan. 20, 2020.
Both halves of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V payload fairing are positioned for installation around the Solar Orbiter spacecraft inside the Astrotech Space Operations facility in Titusville, Florida, on Jan. 20, 2020. Photo credits: NASA/Ben Smegelsky

The Solar Orbiter spacecraft is prepared for encapsulation in the Atlas V payload fairing.The payload fairing that will provide a protective, aerodynamic cover for Solar Orbiter during launch is now in place. The two halves of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V fairing were moved into position and installed around the spacecraft on Jan. 20 inside a cleanroom at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida.

The fairing protects the spacecraft during ground operations and during ascent. Solar Orbiter’s instruments are sensitive to contamination, and the fairing has special provisions to make sure those instruments are not affected by particles or humidity.

Solar Orbiter is an international cooperative mission between ESA (European Space Agency) and NASA. The mission aims to study the Sun, its outer atmosphere and solar wind. The spacecraft will provide the first images of the Sun’s poles. NASA’s Launch Services Program based at Kennedy Space Center in Florida is managing the launch. The spacecraft has been developed by Airbus Defence and Space.

Solar Orbiter will launch aboard an Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Mars 2020 Rover Lift Activities Performed at Kennedy Space Center

Mars 2020 rover aeroshell lift activities
Lift activities for the Mars 2020 rover aeroshell are conducted inside Kennedy Space Center’s Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility on Jan. 14, 2020. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Lift activities for the Mars 2020 rover aeroshell were conducted inside Kennedy Space Center’s Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility. The activities included installing the inverted lift fixture and lifting the aeroshell assembly to the spin table for mass properties measurements.

The Mars 2020 rover mission will launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 541 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida this summer. NASA’s Launch Services Program based at Kennedy will manage the launch.

About the size of a car with dimensions similar to the Curiosity rover, the Mars 2020 rover will land on the Red Planet on Feb. 18, 2021.

Visit the mission website for more information.

SpaceX Crew Dragon Splashes Down After In-Flight Abort Test

In this image captured from NASA TV, the SpaceX Crew Dragon descends toward the Atlantic Ocean under parachutes during a test of the spacecraft's launch escape capabilities.
In this image captured from NASA TV, the SpaceX Crew Dragon descends toward the Atlantic Ocean under parachutes during a test of the spacecraft’s launch escape capabilities. Image credit: NASA TV

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft splashed down offshore in the Atlantic Ocean at 10:39 a.m. EST after a launch on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft launch from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Pad 39A at the start of the test.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft launch from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Pad 39A at the start of the test. Image credit: NASA TV

Teams of personnel from SpaceX and the U.S. Air Force 45th Operations Groups Detachment-3 out of Patrick Air Force Base will recover the spacecraft for return to SpaceX facilities in Florida, and a dedicated team will begin the recovery effort of the Falcon 9, which broke apart as planned.

 

NASA, SpaceX Teams Preparing for 10:30 a.m. EST Launch

In-Flight Abort Test launch day
Today’s NASA and SpaceX in-flight abort test launch is set for 10:30 a.m. EST.

Hello, and good morning from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida! Welcome to coverage of this morning’s in-flight abort test.

NASA and SpaceX teams are targeting 10:30 a.m. EST today for the demonstration, which is set to begin in about 25 minutes from Launch Complex 39A. The six-hour launch window ends at 2 p.m. EST. NASA Commercial Crew Program astronauts Bob Behnken, Doug Hurley, Mike Hopkins and Victor Glover are present for this critical test.

Follow along on the blog as we track the milestones of today’s final, major test before the astronauts fly aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Also, live coverage of the event can be seen on NASA TV and the agency’s website starting at 10:12 a.m.

The latest weather reports from meteorologists with the 45th Space Wing predict a 60% chance of favorable conditions for launch toward the opening of the window, with a 40% chance toward the end of the window. The primary concerns for launch day are the thick cloud layer and flight through precipitation rules during the launch window.

Crew Dragon Spacecraft, Falcon 9 Rocket Set for In-Flight Abort Test

If-flight abort test Jan. 19, 2020
Today’s in-flight abort test will demonstrate the Crew Dragon spacecraft’s ability to safely escape the Falcon 9 rocket in the event of a failure during launch.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket are vertical and set for a 10:30 a.m. EST launch of the company’s In-Flight Abort Test from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The test will demonstrate Crew Dragon’s ability to safely escape the Falcon 9 rocket in the event of a failure during launch. The abort test launch window ends at 2 p.m. EST this afternoon.

Launch coverage will begin at 10:10 a.m., followed at noon by a post-test news conference with representatives from NASA and SpaceX. The launch and post-test news conference will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

Mission Timeline (all times approximate)

COUNTDOWN 

Hour/Min/Sec        Events

45:00                          SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for propellant load

37:00                          Dragon launch escape system is armed

35:00                          RP-1 (rocket grade kerosene) loading begins

35:00                          1st stage LOX (liquid oxygen) loading begins

16:00                          2nd stage LOX loading begins

07:00                          Falcon 9 begins engine chill prior to launch

05:00                          Dragon transitions to internal power

01:00                          Command flight computer to begin final prelaunch checks

01:00                          Propellant tank pressurization to flight pressure begins

00:45                          SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for launch

00:03                          Engine controller commands engine ignition sequence to start

00:00                          Falcon 9 liftoff

Meteorologists with the U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing continue to predict a 60% chance of favorable weather toward the opening of the window with a 40% chance toward the end of the window. The primary concerns for launch day are the thick cloud layer and flight through precipitation rules during the launch window.

Learn more about NASA’s Commercial Crew Program by following the commercial crew blog, @commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.

Targeted Time for NASA, SpaceX In-Flight Abort Liftoff Pushed Back to 10:30 a.m. EST

In-Flight Abort Test launch day
The targeted time for NASA and SpaceX’s in-flight abort test launch has been moved back to 10:30 a.m. EST

NASA and SpaceX now are targeting 10:30 a.m. EST Sunday, Jan. 19, for launch of the company’s In-Flight Abort Test from Launch Complex 39A in Florida, which will demonstrate Crew Dragon’s ability to safely escape the Falcon 9 rocket in the event of a failure during launch. The abort test launch window ends at 2 p.m. this afternoon.

The test launch will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website. Here’s the upcoming mission coverage:

 Sunday, Jan. 19

  • 10:10 a.m. – NASA TV test coverage begins for the 10:30 a.m. liftoff
  • Noon – Post-test news conference at Kennedy, with the following representatives:
    • NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
    • SpaceX representative
    • Kathy Lueders, manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program
    • Victor Glover, astronaut, NASA Commercial Crew Program
    • Mike Hopkins, astronaut, NASA Commercial Crew Program

The time adjustment for today’s launch attempt, splashdown and recovery of the Crew Dragon spacecraft allows for the best time to perform the abort demonstration based on weather conditions.

The U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing continues to predict a 60% chance of favorable weather for launch toward the opening of the window with a 40% chance toward the end of the window. The primary concerns for launch day are the thick cloud layer and flight through precipitation rules during the launch window.

Learn more about NASA’s Commercial Crew Program by following the commercial crew blog, @commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.

In-Flight Abort Test Targeted for 10 a.m. EST Launch

SpaceX In-Flight Abort Test L-0
NASA and SpaceX now are targeting 10 a.m. EST for launch of the in-flight abort test from Launch Complex 39A in Florida.

NASA and SpaceX now are targeting 10 a.m. EST Sunday, Jan. 19, for launch of the company’s In-Flight Abort Test from Launch Complex 39A in Florida, which will demonstrate Crew Dragon’s ability to safely escape the Falcon 9 rocket in the event of a failure during launch. The abort test has a six-hour launch window ending at 2 p.m. this afternoon.

The test launch will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website. Here’s the upcoming mission coverage:

 Sunday, Jan. 19

  • 9:40 a.m. – NASA TV test coverage begins for the 10 a.m. liftoff
  • 11:30 a.m. – Post-test news conference at Kennedy, with the following representatives:
    • NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
    • SpaceX representative
    • Kathy Lueders, manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program
    • Victor Glover, astronaut, NASA Commercial Crew Program
    • Mike Hopkins, astronaut, NASA Commercial Crew Program

The time adjustment for today’s launch attempt, splashdown and recovery of the Crew Dragon spacecraft allows for the best time to perform the abort demonstration based on weather conditions.

The U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing continues to predict a 60% chance of favorable weather for launch toward the opening of the window with a 40% chance toward the end of the window. The primary concerns for launch day are the thick cloud layer and flight through precipitation rules during the launch window.

Learn more about NASA’s Commercial Crew Program by following the commercial crew blog, @commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.

NASA, SpaceX Targeting 9 a.m. EST for In-Flight Abort Test Launch

SpaceX In-Flight Abort Test illustration
NASA and SpaceX now are targeting 9 a.m. EST Sunday, Jan. 19, for launch of the company’s In-Flight Abort Test. Illustration credit: SpaceX

NASA and SpaceX now are targeting 9 a.m. EST Sunday, Jan. 19, for launch of the company’s In-Flight Abort Test from Launch Complex 39A in Florida, which will demonstrate Crew Dragon’s ability to safely escape the Falcon 9 rocket in the event of a failure during launch. The abort test has a six-hour launch window ending at 2 p.m. this afternoon.

Teams continue to monitor the weather conditions for today’s launch attempt, splashdown and recovery of the Crew Dragon spacecraft for the best time to launch the abort demonstration.

Meteorologists with the U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing continue predict a 60% chance of favorable weather for launch toward the opening of the window with a 40% chance toward the end of the window. The primary concerns for launch day are the thick cloud layer and flight through precipitation rules during the launch window.

The test launch will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website. Here’s the upcoming mission coverage:

 Sunday, Jan. 19

  • 8:40 a.m. – NASA TV test coverage begins for the 9 a.m. liftoff
  • 10:30 a.m. – Post-test news conference at Kennedy, with the following representatives:
    • NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
    • SpaceX representative
    • Kathy Lueders, manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program
    • Victor Glover, astronaut, NASA Commercial Crew Program
    • Mike Hopkins, astronaut, NASA Commercial Crew Program

Learn more about NASA’s Commercial Crew Program by following the commercial crew blog, @commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.

Update: NASA and SpaceX Targeting Sunday, Jan. 19, for In-Flight Abort Test

SpaceX In-flight abort test
The uncrewed in-flight abort demonstration is targeted for 8 a.m. EST Sunday, Jan. 19, from Launch Complex 39A in Florida. There is a six-hour test window. Photo credit: SpaceX

NASA and SpaceX now are targeting 8 a.m. EST Sunday, Jan. 19, for launch of the company’s In-Flight Abort Test from Launch Complex 39A in Florida, which will demonstrate Crew Dragon’s ability to safely escape the Falcon 9 rocket in the event of a failure during launch. The abort test has a six-hour launch window.

Teams are standing down from today’s launch attempt due to poor splashdown and recovery weather.

For tomorrow’s launch attempt, meteorologists with the U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing predict a 60% chance of favorable weather toward the opening of the window with a 40% chance toward the end of the window. The primary concerns for launch day are the thick cloud layer and flight through precipitation rules during the launch window.

The test launch will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website. Here’s the upcoming mission coverage:

Sunday, Jan. 19

  • 7:40 a.m. – NASA TV test coverage begins for the 8 a.m. liftoff
  • 9:30 a.m. – Post-test news conference at Kennedy, with the following representatives:
    • NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
    • SpaceX representative
    • Kathy Lueders, manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program
    • Victor Glover, astronaut, NASA Commercial Crew Program
    • Mike Hopkins, astronaut, NASA Commercial Crew Program

Learn more about NASA’s Commercial Crew Program by following the commercial crew blog, @commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.