Author Archives: Anna Heiney

NASA Employees Share Successes in National Disability Employment Awareness Month Webcast

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With the challenges involved in space exploration, NASA understands the need to fill its workforce with innovative employees and to help them maximize their capabilities.

On Oct. 5, schools, organizations and individuals from around the globe participated in a special webcast to learn from NASA employees with disabilities who have found rewarding, successful careers in the space program, including the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and this year’s theme — “Inclusion Drives Innovation” — is exemplified by NASA.

“We need people of different backgrounds and different experiences to help create innovation to solve those challenging problems that will allow us to go to the Moon, Mars and beyond,” said Kennedy Space Center Associate Director Kelvin Manning.

Employees shared their backgrounds, challenges and triumphs in pursuit of their dreams, highlighting how they have pushed NASA to meet the needs of every individual.

“In all my life, I never imagined that I would be working for NASA. I have been here for 26 years and I can say how proud I am to work here,” said Nicole Delvesco, a NASA systems accountant. Delvesco is co-chair of Kennedy’s Disability Awareness and Action Working Group, currently in its 25th year at the spaceport. “The agency is wonderful about hiring people with disabilities, and helping people with disabilities so that they can be successful in their jobs.”

According to the final tally, there were 456 webcast views from 23 states, Washington, D.C., and eight countries. Using a standard classroom ratio, it’s estimated the event reached 11,400 people.

“The best part of this event was that most of the questions coming in were from students who had disabilities similar to our experts, who never thought NASA was within their reach,” said NASA Project Coordinator Bethanne Hull. “I am still in awe of the amazing people across our agency. We reached the audience we hoped to inspire.”

Growing Beyond Earth Challenge Germinates in South Florida

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Kennedy scientists Trent Smith, left, and Dr. Gioia Massa speak to middle and high school teachers at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Miami during the kickoff of the 2017-2018 Fairchild Challenge-Growing Beyond Earth.

Kennedy scientists Trent Smith, left, and Dr. Gioia Massa speak to middle and high school teachers at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Miami during the kickoff of the 2017-2018 Fairchild Challenge-Growing Beyond Earth. Photo credit: NASA

The annual 2017-2018 Fairchild Challenge Growing Beyond Earth recently kicked off at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Miami. For the past three years, plant researchers at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida have been partnering with Fairchild to create STEM-based challenges for teachers and students in the area. More than 130 middle and high school teachers participated in the opening workshop Sept. 30. Kennedy scientists Dr. Gioia Massa and Trent Smith taught teachers about food production in space and NASA’s Veggie plant growth system currently aboard the International Space Station.

Veggie is a system that allows astronauts to grow plants and crops — some of which they can eat. Veggie is an important demonstration of how NASA applies science across disciplines — in this case Space Biology to grow a healthy crop and Human Research to ensure astronauts remain healthy — to enable human space exploration.

At the end of the workshop, teachers received mini botany labs their students will use to participate in the project during the current school year. Each lab is meant to be managed like Veggie’s hardware on station. Students have to follow research protocols set forth by NASA and Fairchild while testing factors that could influence plant growth, flavor and nutrition — all so they can help NASA pick the next crops to grow for the astronauts aboard the station.

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JPSS-1 Begins Final Preflight Processing

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NOAA's Joint Polar Satellite System-1, or JPSS-1, remains wrapped in a protective covering after removal from its shipping container at the Astrotech Processing Facility at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The spacecraft is being prepared for its upcoming liftoff aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket from Vandenberg's Space Launch Complex-2W. JPSS-1 is the first in a series four next-generation environmental satellites in a collaborative program between NOAA and NASA.

NOAA’s Joint Polar Satellite System-1, or JPSS-1, remains wrapped in a protective covering after removal from its shipping container at the Astrotech Processing Facility at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The spacecraft is being prepared for its upcoming liftoff aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket from Vandenberg’s Space Launch Complex-2W. JPSS-1 is the first in a series four next-generation environmental satellites in a collaborative program between NOAA and NASA. Photo credit: NASA/Rodney Speed

NOAA’s Joint Polar Satellite System-1 spacecraft has been removed from its shipping container in the Astrotech Payload Processing Facility at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, where it is being prepared for its upcoming launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket.

The JPSS-1 satellite will go through a series of routine inspections, checkouts and testing before it is sealed inside the payload fairing and placed atop the Delta II rocket, already standing at Space Launch Complex-2W. Launch remains scheduled for Nov. 10.

Kennedy Space Center Closing Friday Ahead of Hurricane Irma

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GOES-16 captured this geocolor image of Hurricane Irma -- a category 5 storm with winds as high as 185 miles per hour -- today at about 3:15 pm (eastern), September 6, 2017. Irma is forecast to remain a powerful category 4 or 5 hurricane during the next couple of days.

GOES-16 captured this geocolor image of Hurricane Irma — a category 5 storm with winds as high as 185 miles per hour — today at about 3:15 pm (eastern), September 6, 2017. Irma is forecast to remain a powerful category 4 or 5 hurricane during the next couple of days. Image credit: NOAA

NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida is closing Friday, Sept. 8 through at least Monday, Sept. 11, due to the approach of Hurricane Irma. The storm currently is expected to make its closest approach to the Kennedy/Cape Canaveral Air Force Station area during the weekend. Currently a Category 5 hurricane, Irma could potentially bring heavy rain and strong winds to the spaceport.

Essential personnel will make final preparations to secure center facilities and infrastructure. After the storm has left the area, Kennedy’s Damage Assessment and Recovery Team will evaluate all center facilities and infrastructure for damage. The spaceport will reopen after officials determine it is safe for employees to return.

 

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NOAA’s JPSS-1 Satellite Arrives in California for Launch

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Above and below right: The Joint Polar Satellite System-1, or JPSS-1, arrives at the Astrotech Processing Facility at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. JPSS is the first in a series four next-generation environmental satellites in a collaborative program between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA. The satellite is scheduled to liftoff later this year atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket. Photo credits: NASA/Randy Beaudoin

NOAA’s Joint Polar Satellite System-1 (JPSS-1) satellite arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Sept. 1, 2017, to begin preparations for a November launch.

After its arrival, the JPSS-1 spacecraft was pulled from its shipping container, and is being prepared for encapsulation on top of the United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket that will take it to its polar orbit at an altitude of 512 miles (824 km) above Earth. JPSS-1 is scheduled for launch from Vandenberg’s Space Launch Complex-2 on Nov. 10 at 1:47 a.m. PST.

NOAA partnered with NASA to implement the JPSS series of U.S. civilian polar-orbiting environmental remote sensing satellites and sensors. JPSS-1 has a seven-year design life and is the first in a series of NOAA’s four next-generation, polar-orbiting weather satellites.

For more information, please visit www.jpss.noaa.gov.

Preparing for Takeoff

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A NASA F-18 jet is prepared for takeoff from the agency's Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Several flights a day have been taking place the week of Aug. 21, 2017 to measure the effects of sonic booms. It is part of NASA's Sonic Booms in Atmospheric Turbulence, or SonicBAT II Program.

A NASA F-18 jet is prepared for takeoff from the agency’s Shuttle Landing Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Several flights a day have been taking place at the spaceport in order to measure the effects of sonic booms. The testing is part of NASA’s Sonic Booms in Atmospheric Turbulence, or SonicBAT II Program. NASA at Kennedy is partnering with the agency’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California, Langley Research Center in Virginia, and Space Florida for a program in which F-18 jets will take off from the Shuttle Landing Facility and fly at supersonic speeds while agency researchers measure the effects of low-altitude turbulence caused by sonic booms.

Photo credit: NASA/Bill White

Middle School Students’ Programming Skills Tested in Orbit

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Students and their sponsors gather for a commemorative photo in the Center for Space Education at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida after participating in the finals of the Zero Robotics Middle School Summer Program national championship.

Students and their sponsors gather for a commemorative photo in the Center for Space Education at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida after participating in the finals of the Zero Robotics Middle School Summer Program national championship. Photo credit: NASA/Cory Huston

Teams of middle school-aged students from across the state of Florida gathered at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Friday, Aug. 11, to see their robot-programming skills put to the test aboard the International Space Station. The occasion: the finals of the Zero Robotics Middle School Summer Program national championship.

Students and sponsors hear from astronauts aboard the International Space Station on a big screen in the Center for Space Education at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.The five-week program allows rising sixth- through ninth-graders to write programs for small satellites called SPHERES (Synchronized, Position, Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites). Finalists saw their code tested using SPHERES on the space station, with the assistance of astronauts living and working aboard the orbiting observatory.

A middle-school student high-fives a Star Wars character from the 501st Legion in the Center for Space Education at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.Adding to the fun were Sphero off-the-shelf programmable robots available for practice, a quantum levitation demonstration and a visit from Star Wars characters from the 501st Legion.

A total of 13 teams representing two countries and 12 states took part in the competition, with the winners hailing from West Virginia and Idaho.

Photos at right: Students and sponsors hear from astronauts aboard the International Space Station, shown on a big screen (top); a student high-fives a Star Wars character from the 501st Legion (bottom). Photo credits: NASA/Cory Huston

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NASA’s Newest Tracking and Data Relay Satellite Arrives in Orbit

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A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket lifts off from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida carrying NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, TDRS-M.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket lifts off from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida carrying NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, TDRS-M. Photo credit: NASA/Tony Gray and Sandra Joseph

The constellation of satellites charged with maintaining critical communications between NASA’s Space Network and Earth-orbiting spacecraft is about to be expanded by one.

Joining the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) System is TDRS-M, the third and final in a series of third-generation TDRS spacecraft that have taken their places in orbit in recent years. TDRS-M launched this morning aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket with a liftoff at 8:29 a.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41. (Read NASA’s Launch Blog)

With light winds, few clouds and temperatures in the low 80s, weather posed no threat to launch. The countdown proceeded smoothly throughout the early morning hours and into propellant-loading operations, when engineers noted an issue with the Centaur upper stage’s liquid oxygen (LOX) chilldown system.

“As we were chilling the Centaur engine down, we noticed one of the chilldown parameters on the thermal conditioning for the LOX side was not quite getting cold enough” in time to permit liftoff at 8:03 a.m., when the 40-minute launch window opened, NASA Launch Manager Tim Dunn explained.

Just before sunrise at Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket vents liquid oxygen propellant vapors during fueling for the lift off of NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, TDRS-M. The team methodically worked to resolve the issue while maximizing that window of opportunity, and the issue was resolved in time for launch officials to set up for a successful liftoff at 8:29 a.m.

Photo at right: Just before sunrise at Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket vents liquid oxygen propellant vapors during fueling for the lift off of NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, TDRS-M. Photo credit: NASA/Kenneth Allen

TDRS-M’s predecessors, TDRS-K and TDRS-L, also launched on Atlas V rockets from the same launch complex in January 2013 and January 2014, respectively. Today’s launch marked the 72nd liftoff of an Atlas V.

More than an hour and a half after launch, the TDRS-M spacecraft separated from the rocket’s Centaur upper stage, heralding the end of the launch effort and the mission’s beginning. Following several months of calibration and testing, TDRS-M will be renamed TDRS-13, and it will be eligible to begin supporting NASA’s Space Network.

“Spacecraft separation is the best part of the launch campaign,” Dunn said. “So many hours are put into getting to this exact point when you know you have a healthy satellite that just separated from the launch vehicle, about to go do its intended mission.”

For further updates, visit http://www.nasa.gov/tdrs.

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Launch Day Arrives for Atlas V, TDRS-M

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The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying NASA's TDRS-M spacecraft is lit by the rising sun at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 41 on Thursday, Aug. 17.

The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying NASA’s TDRS-M spacecraft is lit by the rising sun at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41 on Thursday, Aug. 17. Photo credit: NASA/Glenn Benson

The countdown is underway for today’s planned liftoff of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-M (TDRS-M). Launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41 is scheduled for 8:03 a.m. EDT at the opening of a 40-minute launch window.

Launch coverage will begin at 7:30 a.m. on NASA’s Launch Blog and on NASA TV.

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