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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
As winter storm Xyler approached southern Wisconsin, a group of 15 tribal college teams gathered in the cold to launch high-powered rockets at the 10th annual First Nations Launch in Kansasville, Wisconsin. The competition was bumped up a day early to avoid the storm. On Friday April 26, 2019, in spite of a couple anomalies, all Native American college teams were successful in launching a rocket that they hand-built.
Students were evaluated for rocket aesthetics, team spirit and altitude, among other criteria. The competition was separated into two subcategories, the Tribal Challenge and the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) Challenge. The Tribal Challenge required students to build a high-powered rocket equipped with a camera and to create a montage of photos and videos showing construction, preparation, flight and recovery. Target apogee was between 2,400 and 3,000 feet above ground level for Tribal teams. The AISES Challenge required students to build a rocket with a microcontroller system installed to capture critical flight data. Target apogee for AISES teams was between 3,500 and 5,000 feet.
The event, which is funded by NASA’s Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium, was supported by a number of NASA employees. Rob Cannon and Theresa Martinez, from Kennedy Space Center’s Academic Engagement Office; James Wood, chief engineer of the Launch Services Program at Kennedy; Orson John from Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland; and Joseph Connolly from Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, all attended to oversee the competition and issue awards.
Four honorees were distinguished as “Chroniclers” during a ceremony May 3, 2019, at Kennedy Space Center’s NASA News Center in Florida among their families and friends, space journalists, and current and former NASA officials.
Jim Banke, Todd Halvorson, Vic Ratner and Peter Cosgrove were recognized for their roles in helping spread the news of American space exploration from Kennedy. To be considered for The Chroniclers, retirees of the news and communications business must have worked in the field for 10 years or more. The group of four was chosen by their peers on March 25.
“These men inspired the world,” said NASA Public Affairs Officer Greg Harland. “These men were the voice of the Kennedy Space Center and the history of space launch. And that’s no easy feat.”
A former journalist with Florida Today, Banke spent more than 20 years covering NASA launches and missions from Kennedy and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS). He was the co-creator of Florida Today’s online space news site, Space.com – the first newspaper website dedicated solely to publishing real-time space news. Banke remains active in the local space community and currently works as a contractor at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Halvorson retired as the senior aerospace reporter with Florida Today and Kennedy Bureau Chief in 2013 after reporting space news for more than three decades. During his career, he chronicled 108 space shuttle missions and the journey of the Hubble Space Telescope. Halvorson also is a member of the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame Selection Committee.
Ratner covered the space program for ABC Radio, providing coverage ranging from the early days of Gemini and the Apollo Moon landings to the last space shuttle mission. He was the only radio correspondent on the air live during the Space Shuttle Challenger accident, delivering on-the-scene information for over five hours that day after the tragedy. Some of Ratner’s reports also were seen on ABC TV “World News Tonight” and “Good Morning America.”
Cosgrove’s photojournalism career spanned nearly 50 years for the Associated Press. He covered four Apollo Moon mission crew recoveries at sea and was aboard the recovery ship when the first astronauts to walk on the Moon were picked up after their return to Earth. He also covered both Challenger and Columbia shuttle tragedies.
Cosgrove retired in 2005 and passed away in 2019. His award was accepted by his three children on his behalf, and his granddaughter, Amanda, shared some remarks. “We know how honored he would feel being given this award, as we are honored to be able to accept it for him,” she said. “This is a memory that my family and I will treasure for a lifetime.”
Brass strips engraved with the name of each honoree were added to The Chroniclers wall on display in the news center and unveiled during the ceremony. The addition of Banke, Halvorson, Ratner and Cosgrove bring the total number of Chroniclers to 80.
Two lunch and learns, held April 23 and April 24 in support of Earth Day, provided Kennedy Space Center employees with the opportunity to learn more about wildlife and protecting our planet’s natural environment.
Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Officer Jeff Sidor brought a K9, Harry, for a demonstration on how FWC is using specially trained dogs in airports, seaports and mail facilities to detect illegal and invasive fish and wildlife species shipping into Florida. Since the program’s inception in 2012, it has now grown to include 12 investigators and five canines.
Canine Harry went through about an 18-week training program in which he learned to detect six different odors. He can alert on saltwater, conch, lobster, reptiles, red snapper filets and ivory, and he has been a part of the program for three-and-a-half years.
Officer Sidor has three years left in the program before he plans to retire with Harry. “It’s the best thing that I’ve done,” he said. “It’s amazing. The dog is awesome, and we’re going to retire together.”
Also available for employees was a presentation on Florida-friendly landscaping. Sally Scalera, urban horticulture agent and master gardener coordinator from the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Brevard Extension Office, shared some sustainable tips and tricks for a healthy yard and garden.
The first step is ensuring your soil is healthy, which in turn will help with water quality and produce healthy plants. Scalera covered multiple ways to increase soil health, including utilizing organic yard matter – such as leaves, twigs and grass clippings – as an alternative to purchasing compost, growing a variety of plants together for the different root systems to provide food for the soil, and using organic fertilizer as much as possible, among others.
Integrating sustainable landscaping practices and choosing the right plants for Florida’s environment can help protect our water resources from pollution, reduce overall water consumption and decrease the amount of fertilizer and pesticides needed for plant life to thrive.
The presentations held at Kennedy further promoted environmental awareness at the Florida spaceport and educated employees on a number of changes we can apply to further protect our home planet.
NASA astronaut Owen Garriott, a veteran of two spaceflights, was remembered by Kennedy Space Center officials and employees during a ceremony at the Florida spaceport’s visitor complex on April 18, 2019. Following the ceremony, a memorial wreath was placed in the Heroes and Legends exhibit within the Astronaut Hall of Fame. Garriott passed away on April 15, 2019, at the age of 88.
Speakers at the ceremony included Center Director Bob Cabana and Therrin Protze, chief operating officer at the Kennedy visitor complex. Also sharing a few words was former NASA astronaut Jon McBride.
Garriott was selected as one of the first six NASA scientist-astronauts in June 1965. He flew aboard the Skylab space station during the Skylab 3 mission, serving as the mission’s science-pilot, and also on space shuttle Columbia during the STS-9/Spacelab-1 mission.
This ninth space shuttle mission contained a crew of six – the largest to fly aboard a single spacecraft at the time. It also was the first international shuttle crew and the first to carry payload specialists.
Born in Enid, Oklahoma, Garriott received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Oklahoma. He then went on to receive a master’s and doctoral degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.
Each year, NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Safety and Health Days demonstrates how this topic is not only a top priority both centerwide and agencywide, but that it’s ingrained in the spaceport’s DNA. This year’s Safety and Health Days took place March 25 – 29. Events and presentations held during the week emphasized the importance Kennedy places on the wellbeing of its employees, both at home and at work.
A few of the classes and presentations open to employees included: “Stop the Bleed,” a hands-on course that teaches basic life-saving interventions to equip individuals with the knowledge and power to act quickly and save lives; “Moments Matter,” where a flight crash survivor revealed how resiliency, leadership and managing your mind can help you overcome obstacles to grow and thrive; and a briefing on the “Space Launch System Low Oxygen Tank Mishap,” in which a team of investigators delved into the cause of the incident and discussed recommendations and corrective actions that have helped to prevent future incidents at Kennedy.
Also available for employees were presentations on how to determine if they are getting a good night’s sleep, the seriousness of skin cancer and what to look for, the Crimeline, safety awareness, crime prevention and education program, presented by Brevard County’s well-known Sheriff Wayne Ivey, and the importance of safe behaviors at home and at work. In addition to presentations, Kennedy and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station employees had the opportunity to attend the KSC Walk Run on Tuesday, March 26. Employees and up to four of their registered guests were able to participate in a two-mile walk or run, a 5K run, or a 10K run.
The Tour de KSC, a bike tour on Kennedy grounds open to employees and up to five guests per employee, is another event employees were encouraged to attend. Originating in 2009, the Tour de KSC is another way the spaceport promotes an active lifestyle and a healthy work-life balance. This year’s tour took place Saturday, March 30, with attendees riding alongside Center Director Bob Cabana, an avid bicyclist.
In addition to the presentations and events that took place during the week, Kennedy offers year-round fitness center and balance zone classes every week, giving employees the opportunity to improve and maintain their health throughout the year. The activities and information readily available to all employees reinforce the notion that health and safety continues to be a hallmark of Kennedy’s values — not only during this week, but throughout the entire year.
This year, Kennedy Space Center kicked off its annual Earth Day celebrations with a butterfly release and sustainability expo at the center’s visitor complex. On April 11, approximately 40 exhibitors from across the nation assembled to provide information ranging from energy-saving solutions to wildlife and natural conservation.
Also on display were electric cars for attendees to admire. Plant and wildlife specialists from organizations such as Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge and the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), among others, were there to provide expertise on safeguarding wildlife and preserving natural resources.
Continuing the center’s Earth Day focus, Kennedy employees will have the opportunity to attend two lunch and learns, being held April 23 and 24, to further learn about ways in which we can protect our natural environment. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Investigator Steve Wayne and Officer Jeff Sidor will bring a special K9, Harry, for a demonstration. Dogs such as Harry are trained to locate protected species and detect non-native wildlife that can be harmful to native flora and fauna.
Sally Scalera, urban horticulture agent and master gardener coordinator from the UF/IFAS Brevard Extension office, will lead the second lunch and learn, which will educate employees on ways to make their yards Florida-friendly. Topics will include using native plants to reduce water consumption, reducing turf area, watering efficiently and learning how to employ integrated pest management.
For more than five decades, NASA has used the vantage point of space to understand and explore our home planet, improve lives and safeguard our future. The activities held at Kennedy in celebration of Earth Day further promote awareness of our planet’s natural resources and strengthen the center’s emphasis on the importance of sustainability. They encourage employees and guests to engage in practices that benefit the environment, both at work and at home.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon continues to perform well as the Demo-1 flight test nears completion. The Crew Dragon hatch will be closed Thursday, March 7, at approximately 12:25 p.m. EST.
Crew Dragon will remain docked to the International Space Station until approximately 2:30 a.m. on Friday, March 8. The spacecraft is expected to return to Earth hours later, with a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean at approximately 8:45 a.m.