NASA, Northrop Grumman Prepare for Launch of ICON

Northrop Grumman’s L-1011 Stargazer aircraft has arrived at the Skid Strip at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Oct. 1, 2019.
Northrop Grumman’s L-1011 Stargazer aircraft has arrived at the Skid Strip at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Oct. 1, 2019. The company’s Pegasus XL rocket, containing NASA’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON), is attached beneath the aircraft. ICON will study the frontier of space – the dynamic zone high in Earth’s atmosphere where terrestrial weather from below meets space weather above. Photo credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky

NASA and Northrop Grumman will hold a mission briefing at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 1 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, Oct. 8, in preparation for the launch of NASA’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) satellite. Tune in to NASA TV and the agency’s website to watch the mission briefing live.

The Northrop Grumman L-1011 Stargazer aircraft, carrying a Pegasus XL rocket with the agency’s ICON satellite, will take off from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Skid Strip on Oct. 9. The launch window will be open from 9:25 to 10:55 p.m., with a targeted release at 9:30 p.m. Ignition of the Pegasus XL rocket will occur five seconds after release from the Stargazer.

ICON is designed to study the frontier of space: the dynamic zone high in our atmosphere where terrestrial weather from below meets space weather above.

Be sure to follow our blog for launch updates. Live launch coverage here and on NASA TV will begin at 9:15 p.m. on Oct. 9.

Large and on a Barge: SLS Core Stage Pathfinder Arrives at Kennedy

NASA’s Pegasus Barge arrives at the Launch Complex 39 turn basin wharf at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sept. 27 to make its first delivery to Kennedy in support of the agency’s Artemis missions. Photo credit: NASA/Mike Downs

NASA’s Pegasus Barge arrived at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sept. 27, carrying the 212-foot-long core stage pathfinder for the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. Weighing in at 228,000 pounds, the pathfinder is a full-scale mock-up of the rocket’s core stage and will be used to validate ground support equipment and demonstrate it can be integrated with Kennedy facilities.

NASA’s Pegasus Barge makes its way along the intercoastal waterway to its destination at the Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39 turn basin wharf on Sept. 27, to make its first delivery to Kennedy in support of the agency’s Artemis missions. Photo credit: NASA/Mike Downs

After arriving at the Launch Complex 39 turn basin wharf – a docking area initially used during the Space Shuttle Program that has been modified to accommodate SLS hardware deliveries – the pathfinder was moved into the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) on Sept. 30, where it will remain for testing for about one month.

While in the VAB, pathfinder will provide NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) and contractor Jacobs with the opportunity to practice stacking maneuvers in the VAB’s High Bay 3 prior to the arrival of the SLS flight hardware that will be processed for the agency’s Artemis I mission.

“This will help ensure that all core stage engineers and technicians are trained and certified in preparation for the flight core stage processing,” said Jim Bolton, EGS core stage element operations manager at Kennedy. “It’s a very significant milestone that will demonstrate the capabilities and ability for KSC to receive, process and integrate that flight hardware.”

The core stage – the largest rocket stage in the world and the backbone of SLS – will provide the power necessary to send NASA’s Orion spacecraft beyond Earth’s orbit and to the Moon. Before it can be brought to Kennedy for processing, the core stage will undergo its first full test with all flight hardware, known as a green run, at the agency’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. Following this, Pegasus will make its return journey to Kennedy in 2020 – this time, delivering the SLS core stage for launch.

Learn more about the SLS rocket’s pathfinders at: https://www.nasa.gov/exploration/systems/sls/pathfinders-prepare-teams-for-one-of-a-kind-hardware.html

ICON Launch Now Targeted for Oct. 9

The Northrop Grumman L-1011 Stargazer aircraft lands on Oct. 19, 2018 at the Skid Strip at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. A Pegasus XL rocket is attached to the underside of the aircraft with NASA's Ionospheric Connection Explorer, or ICON, satellite. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
The Northrop Grumman L-1011 Stargazer aircraft lands on Oct. 19, 2018 at the Skid Strip at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. A Pegasus XL rocket is attached to the underside of the aircraft with NASA’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer, or ICON, satellite.
Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

NASA and Northrop Grumman coordinated with the U.S. Air Force Eastern Range for an earlier launch date for the agency’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer, or ICON, spacecraft from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. ICON is now targeted for launch on Oct. 9, 2019, aboard a Northrop Grumman Pegasus XL rocket carried by the company’s L-1011 Stargazer aircraft.

Apollo 11 Anniversary Celebrations Continue at Kennedy

NASA's Apollo 11 mission launched July 16, 1969.
NASA’s Apollo 11 mission, landing the first two humans on the Moon, launched July 16, 1969, from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Kennedy Space Center continues its celebration of Apollo 11’s 50th anniversary with “NASA’s Giant Leaps: Past and Future” – a show honoring the heroes of Apollo and highlighting the agency’s future space exploration plans. Watch live on NASA TV or the agency’s website Friday, July 19, from 1 to 3 p.m.

The three astronauts for the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission. Left to right are Neil A. Armstrong, commander; Michael Collins, command module pilot; and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot.
The three astronauts for the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission. Left to right are Neil A. Armstrong, commander; Michael Collins, command module pilot; and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot. Photo credit: NASA

Hosted from Kennedy’s Apollo/Saturn V Center in Florida, the show will include segments at Washington D.C.; Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas; the U.S. Space and Rocket Center near the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama; Neil Armstrong’s hometown of Wapakoneta, Ohio; and the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington.

Immediately following “NASA’s Giant Leaps: Past and Future,” stay tuned for “STEM Forward to the Moon,” also streaming on NASA TV and the agency’s website. The show, airing from 3 to 3:30 p.m., will feature kids participating in Moon landing simulations and segments of activity demonstrations at the following museums across the nation:

Kennedy Kicks Off 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11

The crewmen of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission leave the Kennedy Space Center's Manned Spacecraft Operations Building (MSOB) during the prelaunch countdown on July 16, 1969.
The crewmen of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission leave the Kennedy Space Center’s Manned Spacecraft Operations Building (MSOB) during the prelaunch countdown. Astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, commander; Michael Collins, command module pilot; and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot, ride the special transport van over to Launch Complex 39A where their spacecraft awaited them. Liftoff was at 9:32 a.m. EDT July 16, 1969. Photo credit: NASA

Today, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida kicks off the celebration of Apollo 11’s 50th anniversary with a visit from former astronaut Michael Collins, command module pilot of the 1969 Apollo 11 mission. Collins will start the day with a visit to the Astronaut Crew Quarters in Kennedy’s Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building.

Following this, he will speak with Kennedy Center Director Bob Cabana at Pad 39A, the location for the Apollo 11 launch on this day fifty years ago that landed the first two men on the Moon. Beginning at 9:15 a.m., tune in to NASA TV or the agency’s website to watch the conversation live.

Follow along the blog for updates on Apollo 11 coverage. Here’s a look at what’s to come:

  • Friday, July 19: Tune in to NASA TV or the agency’s website for live coverage of a special Apollo 11 show, “NASA’s Giant Leaps: Past and Future,” from 1 to 3 p.m. The show will salute the heroes of Apollo and highlight the agency’s future space exploration plans.
  • Friday, July 19: Immediately following “NASA’s Giant Leaps: Past and Future,” stay tuned for “STEM Forward to the Moon,” which will feature kids participating in Moon landing simulations and activity demonstrations at museums across the nation from 3 to 3:30 p.m.

SpaceX’s Cargo Dragon to Deliver New Space Station Docking Adapter for Commercial Crew Spacecraft

The International Docking Adapter 3, a critical component for future crewed missions to the International Space Station, is carefully packed away in the unpressurized "trunk" section of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft at the SpaceX facility on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on June 19.
The International Docking Adapter 3, a critical component for future crewed missions to the International Space Station, is carefully packed away in the unpressurized “trunk” section of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft at the SpaceX facility on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on June 19. Photo credit: NASA/Isaac Watson

A new International Docking Adapter, called IDA-3, is scheduled to arrive at the International Space Station this July aboard SpaceX’s 18th cargo resupply mission to the microgravity laboratory. When installed on the space station, the one-of-a-kind outpost will have two common ports enabling expanded opportunities for visiting vehicles, including new spacecraft designed to carry humans for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

The docking adapters are the physical connections spacecraft like Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon and future, yet-to-be designed international spacecraft will use to autonomously attach to station. The adapters are important because the plans are readily available for spacecraft builders and standardize a host of docking requirements.

The International Docking Adapter 3, a critical component for future crewed missions to the International Space Station, is carefully packed away in the unpressurized "trunk" section of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft at the SpaceX facility on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on June 19.
The International Docking Adapter 3, a critical component for future crewed missions to the International Space Station, is carefully packed away in the unpressurized “trunk” section of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft at the SpaceX facility on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on June 19. Photo credit: NASA/Cory Huston

Currently stowed in the trunk of SpaceX’s Dragon cargo spacecraft, the IDA-3 was assembled at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and comprises of a number of sensors that spacecraft will communicate with and connect to through use of onboard computers and navigation systems.  Docking requires no crew assistance and can be completed much more quickly than the berthing process often used for cargo spacecraft today, which may involve astronauts aboard the station manually capturing spacecraft using a robotic arm then maneuvering the craft to attach to a common hatch mechanism.

IDA-3 is one of the primary payloads on the SpaceX resupply mission and is identical to the International Docking Adapter-2, IDA-2, installed in the summer of 2016. IDA-2 was used by SpaceX during the company’s first uncrewed flight test, called Demo-1, for commercial crew. Both docking adapters were built by Boeing.

Once at the space station, flight controllers will use the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to remove the IDA-3 from Dragon’s trunk and place it over a Pressurized Mating Adapter (PMA-3) on the station’s Harmony module, or Node 2. Later this summer, two Expedition 60 crew members will perform a spacewalk to permanently install the IDA-3 to PMA-3.

The SpaceX CRS-18 mission is scheduled to launch at 7:35 p.m. EDT on Sunday, July 21, from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. After its arrival, the Dragon cargo spacecraft will remain at the space station for about a month.

SpaceX Targeting Sunday, July 21, at 7:35 p.m. for CRS-18 Launch

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft lift off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Launch Complex 40
In this file photo, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft lift off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Launch Complex 40 at 1:16 p.m. EST, Dec. 5, 2018, on the company’s 16th commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station. Credit: NASA Television

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.

SpaceX Falcon Heavy Successfully Launches STP-2

A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket lifts off from Launch Complex 39A at 2:30 a.m. EDT on June 25, 2019, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket lifts off from Launch Complex 39A at 2:30 a.m. EDT on June 25, 2019, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Cory Huston

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.

Each of NASA’s four payloads deployed successfully. For a full recap of this morning’s launch, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-technology-missions-launch-on-spacex-falcon-heavy

 

Natives in Florida: An Integral Part of Our Past and Present

Daniel Murphree, Ph.D., associate professor of history at the University of Central Florida, presents information to NASA Kennedy Space Center employees on the impact Florida natives have had on, and how they were affected by, Atlantic World events from 1492 to the present on June 11, 2019.
Daniel Murphree, Ph.D., associate professor of history at the University of Central Florida, presents information to NASA Kennedy Space Center employees on the impact Florida natives have had on, and how they were affected by, Atlantic World events from 1492 to the present. The presentation took place June 11, 2019, in Kennedy’s Training Auditorium and was brought to Kennedy by the Native American Heritage Initiative (NAHI) Employee Resource Group. One of eight resource groups at the Florida spaceport, NAHI aims to bring employees together, provide networking opportunities and inform the Kennedy workforce about Native American heritage. Photo credit: NASA/Chris Swanson

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.”

NASA Kennedy Space Center employees attend a presentation on June 11, 2019, on Native American presence in Florida in Kennedy’s Training Auditorium.  Daniel Murphree, Ph.d., associate professor of history at the University of Central Florida, spoke on the impact Florida natives have had on, and how they were affected by, Atlantic World events from 1492 to the present.
NASA Kennedy Space Center employees attend a presentation on June 11, 2019, on Native American presence in Florida in Kennedy’s Training Auditorium.

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.”

Triage Forces on Display During Familiarization Training

Kennedy Space Center personnel and American Medical Response (AMR) contractor paramedics prepare to load a “patient,” a KEMCON Fitness Center staff member, into a NASA helicopter during a medical support training course in the Space Florida hangar at the spaceport’s Shuttle Landing Facility on May 17, 2019.
Kennedy Space Center personnel and American Medical Response (AMR) contractor paramedics prepare to load a “patient,” a KEMCON Fitness Center staff member, into a NASA helicopter during a medical support training course in the Space Florida hangar at the spaceport’s Shuttle Landing Facility on May 17, 2019. 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. The AMR paramedics will assist the agency in contingency planning for the return of human spaceflight from Kennedy. Photo credit: NASA/Cory Huston

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.

A Kennedy Space Center fire pumper truck stands at the ready during a medical support training course at the Florida spaceport’s Shuttle Landing Facility on May 17, 2019.
A Kennedy Space Center fire pumper truck stands at the ready during a medical support training course at the Florida spaceport’s Shuttle Landing Facility on May 17, 2019. Photo credit: NASA/Cory Huston

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.