Kennedy Space Center Closing Friday Ahead of Hurricane Irma

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

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

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

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

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

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.

TDRS-M Prelaunch Programs Today; Weather 80 Percent ‘Go’ for Friday Launch

The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-M (TDRS-M) stands on the launch pad at Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The rocket rolled out to the pad Wednesday, Aug. 16.
The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-M (TDRS-M) stands on the launch pad at Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The rocket rolled out to the pad Wednesday, Aug. 16. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

NASA TV will broadcast two programs today from Kennedy Space Center in support of the launch of NASA’s next Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) mission atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The programs will be carried live on NASA TV.

A prelaunch news conference will air live on NASA TV at 9 a.m. EDT Launch and mission managers will provide the current status of liftoff preparations and the launch weather forecast, as well as a look ahead at the satellite’s mission to come. This will be followed at 2 p.m. by a prelaunch Social Live briefing at 2 p.m. featuring some of the speakers, as well as NASA astronauts Steve Bowen and Nicole Mann, among other guests.

Launch coverage will begin at 7:30 a.m. on Friday with commentary leading up to the 8:03 a.m. start of a 40-minute launch window. Meteorologists with the U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron are expecting good weather conditions tomorrow morning, with thick clouds the primary concern. The probability of favorable conditions has been upgraded to 80 percent.

Atlas V Rocket with TDRS-M In Place at Launch Pad

The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-M (TDRS-M) is in place on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41.The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-M (TDRS-M) is in place on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41.

TDRS-M is the newest in a series of spacecraft to join the agency’s constellation of communications satellites that allows nearly continuous contact with orbiting spacecraft, including the International Space Station, Hubble Space Telescope and more. Liftoff is scheduled for Friday at 8:03 a.m. EDT.

Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

TDRS-M Launch Weather Remains Favorable for Friday; Atlas V Moves to Pad

A sign at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida notes that a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket is scheduled to launch in two days. Liftoff of the Atlas V carrying Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-M (TDRS-M) is slated for Friday morning at 8:03 a.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 41 at Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
A sign at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida notes that a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket is scheduled to launch in two days. Liftoff of the Atlas V carrying Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-M (TDRS-M) is slated for Friday morning at 8:03 a.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 41 at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Photo credit: NASA/Bill White

Only two days remain until the scheduled launch of NASA’s newest addition to the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System. The TDRS-M satellite is in place atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket and final prelaunch milestones are being checked off in preparation for liftoff Friday morning at 8:03 a.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41.

The U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron has issued today’s launch weather forecast. Meteorologists continue to predict a 70 percent chance of “go” weather at liftoff time, with thick clouds and cumulus clouds the primary concerns.

The Atlas V rocket is on the move this morning, making the short trek from the launch complex’s Vertical Integration Facility, where it was stacked and tested ahead of the flight, to the launch pad. The rollout is the final preflight move for the rocket and spacecraft, which will finish out the day in position for launch on Friday morning.