Jason-3 Flight Readiness Review and Encapsulation Tomorrow; Static Fire Planned for Sunday

The first full week of 2016 has been a busy one for teams preparing NASA’s Jason-3 spacecraft for its upcoming launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The Earth-observing satellite is scheduled to be sealed inside the rocket’s protective payload fairing tomorrow as launch and mission managers convene for the Flight Readiness Review. A static fire to test the Falcon 9’s first stage is planned for Sunday, Jan. 10, followed by mating of the spacecraft and payload fairing to the rocket on Jan. 12.

Steady El Nino rain on California’s central coast has made work challenging at Space Launch Complex 4 throughout the past four days, but launch remains scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 17 at 10:42:18 a.m. PST.

Kennedy ‘Ready for Launch’ in 2016

Spaceport Magazine cover for Jan. 2016 showing facilities, rockets and International Space StationNASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida kicks off the new year with the January 2016 issue of Spaceport Magazine. In this issue, get a look at the busy year ahead and learn about Kennedy’s evolution into a 21st-century spaceport, updates on current and future missions, innovative new technologies, and more.

Check out the January issue of Spaceport Magazine on the ISSUU digital newsstand. To download or view the accessible PDF version or view past PDF issues of the magazine, go to http://go.nasa.gov/1k2qusq.

Insight Arrives at Vandenberg; First-Stage Booster at Pad

Sections of the fairing for NASA's InSight mission await further prelaunch processing
Sections of the fairing for NASA’s InSight mission await further prelaunch processing in the west high bay of the Astrotech Space Operations processing facility on Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Photo credit: NASA/Joe Davila

The first stage booster of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 rocket for NASA's InSight mission is ready for lifting into the mobile service tower at Space Launch Complex 3E.NASA’s Insight spacecraft is one step closer to beginning its journey to Mars now that it has arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The lander was delivered last night aboard a U.S. Air Force transport aircraft, then was offloaded and moved to the Astrotech payload processing facility. Today it is being removed from its shipping container. Meanwhile, at Space Launch Complex 3, the United Launch Alliance Atlas V first stage booster (pictured, right, photo credit NASA/Mark Mackley) was hoisted from its transport trailer into vertical position within the pad gantry.

Insight, short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, will study processes that formed and shaped Mars. Its findings will improve understanding about the evolution of our inner solar system’s rocky planets, including Earth. The lander will be the first mission to permanently deploy instruments directly onto Martian ground using a robotic arm. The mission is scheduled to launch from Vandenberg’s Space Launch Complex 3E in March 2016 and land on Mars in September 2016.

Successful Launch Sends Cygnus on its Way to ISS

Liftoff of ULA Atlas V rocket with Orbital ATK's Cygnus spacecraft at 4:44 p.m. EST on Dec. 6New hardware that will support dozens of NASA investigations and other science experiments from around the world is among the more than 7,000 pounds of cargo on the way to the International Space Station aboard Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft. It launched at 4:44:57 p.m. EST Sunday on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The mission is Orbital ATK’s fourth cargo delivery flight to the station through NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract. This is the first flight of an enhanced Cygnus spacecraft to the station. The cargo freighter now features a greater payload capacity, new UltraFlex solar arrays and new fuel tanks. Cygnus’ pressurized cargo module has been extended and increases the spacecraft’s interior volume capacity by 25 percent, allowing more cargo to be delivered with each mission. It’s also the first Cygnus mission using the Atlas V launch system.

For more information on this mission, visit https://www.nasa.gov/orbitalatk. To join the online conversation about the Orbital ATK CRS-4 launch and the International Space Station on Twitter, follow @Space_Station and #Cygnus.

Photo credit: NASA TV

Launch Forecast Improves; Follow Launch Blog for Updates

United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, carrying Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft on the company's CRS-4 mission, awaits liftoff from Space Launch Complex 41Launch Weather Office Clay Flinn briefed the Orbital ATK CRS-4 launch team in advance of fueling the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. Conditions at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 41 have improved, as has the forecast. There now is a 70 percent chance of favorable weather for the launch of the Atlas V and Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft to the international Space Station at 4:44:57 p.m. EST.

Follow NASA’s Launch Blog for frequent updates throughout the countdown starting at 3:45 p.m.

For background information on the mission, visit https://www.nasa.gov/orbitalatk. To join the online conversation about the Orbital ATK CRS-4 launch and the International Space Station on Twitter, follow @Space_Station and #Cygnus.

Orbital ATK CRS-4 Launch Update

Launch managers have set Saturday, Dec. 5 at 5:10 p.m. EST for the next launch attempt of the fourth Orbital ATK commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station. NASA Television coverage will begin at 4 p.m. Earlier this evening, the 30-minute launch window tomorrow had a 30 percent chance of acceptable conditions.

The Cygnus is loaded with more than 7,000 pounds of supplies and science and research investigations that are important to advancing NASA’s exploration goals on the journey to Mars, demonstrating technologies that drive innovation, and providing benefits to Earth.

Follow NASA’s Launch Blog for frequent updates.

For background information on the mission, visit https://www.nasa.gov/orbitalatk. To join the online conversation about the Orbital ATK CRS-4 launch and the International Space Station on Twitter, follow @Space_Station and #Cygnus.

Launch Scrubbed Due to Winds

Because of wind gusts that exceeded the weather criteria for launching, Orbital ATK and United Launch Alliance have postponed the planned launch of the Atlas V rocket carrying the Cygnus spacecraft. It is Orbital ATK’s fourth commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station. Mission managers will be evaluating when to make the next launch attempt.

Follow NASA’s Launch Blog for frequent updates.

For background information on the mission, visit https://www.nasa.gov/orbitalatk. To join the online conversation about the Orbital ATK CRS-4 launch and the International Space Station on Twitter, follow @Space_Station and #Cygnus.

Orbital ATK CRS-4 Launch Updates

Countdown clocks at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida are ticking down to the planned liftoff of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft on the company’s fourth commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station. Launch now is scheduled for 6:03 p.m. EST.

Follow NASA’s Launch Blog for frequent updates throughout the countdown.

For background information on the mission, visit https://www.nasa.gov/orbitalatk. To join the online conversation about the Orbital ATK CRS-4 launch and the International Space Station on Twitter, follow @Space_Station and #Cygnus.

Orbital ATK CRS-4 Liftoff Scrubbed Due to Weather

Because of thick clouds and precipitation that violated the weather rules for launching, Orbital ATK and United Launch Alliance have postponed the planned launch of the Atlas V rocket carrying the Cygnus spacecraft. It is Orbital ATK’s fourth commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station.

The next 30-minute launch window opens tomorrow, Dec. 4, at 5:33:11 p.m. EST. The chance of favorable weather for the next launch is 30 percent. NASA Television coverage will begin at 4:30 p.m. and can be viewed online at https://www.nasa.gov/nasatv.