Weather Forecast Improves for Today’s OFT-2 Launch

Boeing OFT-2 mission
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft aboard is seen on the launch pad Wednesday, May 18, 2022, at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Liftoff of the Orbital Flight Test-2 mission, from Space Launch Complex-41, is targeted for today at 6:54 p.m. EDT. Photo credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

Meteorologists with the U.S. Space Force 45th Weather Squadron now predict an 80% chance of favorable weather for today’s uncrewed launch of NASA’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) to the International Space Station. Liftoff is scheduled for 6:54 p.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

The primary weather concerns for launch day are the cumulus and anvil cloud rules violations during the instantaneous launch window.

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, will lift off from Space Launch Complex-41. Live launch coverage begins at 6 p.m. EDT on NASA TV, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

Starliner Joins Atlas V at Space Launch Complex-41

Boeing's CST-100 Starliner
Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft rolls out from the company’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 4, 2022, on its way to Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. Photo credit: NASA/Glenn Benson

On Wednesday, May 4, Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner was joined with the rocket that will launch the spacecraft on its way to the International Space Station on an uncrewed flight test for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

During the operation, Starliner rolled out of the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility (C3PF) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and made its way to Space Launch Complex-41 (SLC-41) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in preparation for the company’s second uncrewed Orbital Flight Test (OFT-2)

CST-100 Starliner and Atlas V rocket
United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket and Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft are fully assembled in preparation for an integrated systems test. Photo credit: United Launch Alliance

Starliner was raised and carefully placed onto the rocket and now is fully assembled and ready for an integrated systems test, a tip-to-tail electrical check of the 172-foot-tall Atlas V and Starliner stack.

OFT-2 is scheduled to launch Thursday, May 19, to demonstrate the system’s human transportation capabilities.

About 24 hours after launch, Starliner will rendezvous and dock to the space station and then return to Earth five to 10 days later. The test is the last flight before the Starliner system launches American astronauts on the Crew Flight Test (CFT) to the microgravity laboratory – the spacecraft’s first flight test with crew on board. Potential launch windows for CFT are under review and will be determined after a safe and successful OFT-2.

More details about the mission and NASA’s commercial crew program can be found by following the commercial crew blog@commercial_crew on Twitter, and commercial crew on Facebook.

Axiom Mission 1 Crew Safely Splashes Down Near Florida

Axiom Space's Ax-1 mission splashes down.
SpaceX’s Dragon Endeavour capsule splashes down in the Atlantic Ocean on April 25, 2022, marking the end of Axiom Space’s Axiom Mission 1 – the first all-private astronaut mission to the International Space Station. Photo credit: Axiom Space

Axiom Space astronauts Michael López-Alegría, Larry Connor, Eytan Stibbe, and Mark Pathy have safely returned to Earth, marking the end of the Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1) – the first private astronaut mission to the International Space Station. SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft, carrying the crew of four and more than 200 pounds of science and supplies, including NASA experiments and hardware, undocked from the space station at 9:10 p.m. EDT on Sunday, April 24. About 16 hours later, the vehicle splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida.

“The success of this first private astronaut mission to the International Space Station is an important step in opening opportunities for space travelers and achieving NASA’s goal of enabling commercial business off the planet in low-Earth orbit,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “This progress has been made possible by NASA’s work with private industry – especially the Commercial Crew Program. I’m incredibly proud of the NASA, SpaceX, and Axiom teams for safely completing this landmark mission. Welcome home, Ax-1!”

Chile peppers on the space station
Fresh chile peppers are pictured growing inside the International Space Station’s Advanced Plant Habitat shortly before being harvested late last year. Photo credit: NASA

The crew spent 15 days in orbit, conducting a variety of science experiments and technology demonstrations. A few highlights include research on cancer cell growth, a demonstration testing a new air purifier for station use, and a study utilizing swarms of autonomous tiles for future applications of in-space construction.

Following splashdown, teams will retrieve science aboard the Dragon spacecraft and transport it to nearby Kennedy Space Center for further investigation. Kennedy’s proximity to the coast allows researchers to study their experiments mere hours after their return to Earth, while the effects of microgravity are still largely intact.

NASA is partnering with commercial companies to establish a robust low-Earth orbit economy – one where government and private astronauts live and work aboard the space station and future commercial habitats. The agency recently selected Axiom Space to negotiate for a second private astronaut mission to the orbiting laboratory and plans to announce a third flight opportunity later this year.

Learn more information about NASA’s low-Earth orbit economy efforts at:

https://www.nasa.gov/leo-economy

 

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 Flight Readiness Review Begins

NASA's SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts
NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts participate in a training session at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida late last year. From left, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, mission specialist; NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren, commander; NASA astronaut Bob Hines, pilot; and NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins, mission specialist. Photo credit: SpaceX

NASA and SpaceX managers have gathered at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to start the Crew-4 mission’s Flight Readiness Review (FRR). Over the next several hours, the FRR will focus on the preparedness of SpaceX’s crew transportation system, the International Space Station, and its international partners to support the flight, and the certification of flight readiness.

After the conclusion of the FRR, NASA will hold a media teleconference to discuss the outcome. While the teleconference will not be televised, media may call in to ask questions via phone. Contact the Kennedy newsroom no later than 4 p.m. EDT for connection details.

Participants in the teleconference include:

  • Kathy Lueders, associate administrator, Space Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters
  • Steve Stich, manager, Commercial Crew Program, Kennedy
  • Joel Montalbano, manager, International Space Station, NASA’s Johnson Space Center
  • Zeb Scoville, chief flight director, Flight Operations Directorate, Johnson
  • Frank De Winne, program manager, International Space Station, ESA

NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, and Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti will launch on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft for the Crew-4 mission as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. They will arrive at the International Space Station approximately 24 hours after launch. Crew-4 will arrive at station for a short overlap with NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, and Kayla Barron, and ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer, who flew to the station as part of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission in November 2021.

NASA Celebrating Space Pioneers for Women’s History Month

NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins
NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins is one of several trailblazing women being honored by the agency during Women’s History Month. Photo credit: NASA
NASA astronaut Kayla Barron
NASA astronaut Kayla Barron flew to the International Space Station on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission. Photo credit: NASA

March is Women’s History Month, and NASA is celebrating all of the trailblazing women making history each and every day. Among those pioneers are 16 active astronauts, including NASA’s Jessica Watkins and Kayla Barron, and ESA’s (European Space Agency)  Samantha Cristoforetti.

Watkins and Cristoforetti will fly to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s SpaceX Crew 4 mission slated to launch no earlier than April 19, 2022. This will be Watkins’ first trip to space, while Cristoforetti has 200 days of spaceflight under her belt. Barron flew to the space station as part of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission and is scheduled to return to Earth in late April.

These remarkable women will join the ranks of other female astronauts whose participation in scientific research on the space station have helped benefit those on Earth.

Learn more about Watkins, Cristoforetti, and many other women who have conducted scientific work on the space station.

Kennedy Space Center Teams Win SEA Awards

Sustainable Environment Awareness Awards
The Test and Operations Support Contract (TOSC) Kimberly-Clark RightCycle program team is one of three teams at Kennedy Space Center to receive a Fiscal Year 2021 Sustainable Environment Awareness Award. The teams will be honored during the KSC Honor Awards Ceremony this spring. Photo credit: NASA/Cory Huston

By Jim Cawley
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

Three teams at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida earned Fiscal Year 2021 Sustainable Environment Awareness (SEA) Awards and will be recognized during the upcoming 2022 KSC Honor Awards Ceremony this spring.

The Phase 1 Utility Energy Service Contract (UESC) Award Team won in the Building Efficiency/Performance Contracts category, the Kimberly-Clark RightCycle Program Team was selected in the Waste Management category, and the Sustainable Acquisition Reporting Team earned an award in the Sustainable Acquisition category.

The Phase 1 UESC Award Team’s project bundles a diverse mixture of energy conservation measures to provide energy savings, resiliency, and efficiency; two-megawatt solar farm, water fixtures, transformers, internal lighting, street and parking lot lighting, boilers, chillers, and other mechanical-related improvements. The effort, which uses the concept of financing and then paying it off through the savings, will result in $1.4 million in annual savings for NASA.

Sustainability is a critical part of NASA’s current and future goals – at Kennedy and throughout the agency.

“The UESC provides a win-win alternative where we can meet our energy and water conversation metrics and goals for the center and the agency,” said Launch Services Program Facility Operations and Maintenance Coordinator Cory Taylor, who works in the Spaceport Integration and Services (SI) directorate. “It also allows the programs to invest in their own facilities in a way that doesn’t impact their budget, as well as reducing their long-term utility expenses.”

The team comprises more than 35 members, including NASA civil servants and contractors, as well as Florida Power and Light employees. During the effort, Taylor engaged with about 120 people for feedback.

“It was an amazing project on a personal level to get to learn and engage with so many people, but also from a center level perspective – getting to understand the functions that everyone holds and how they work together to make this such a successful spaceport,” Taylor said.

A UESC 2 is already underway.

The Kimberly-Clark RightCycle Program Team reduced waste by replacing personal protective equipment (PPE) with recyclable products throughout Jacobs’ Test and Operations Support Contract (TOSC) facilities wherever possible, reducing waste disposal costs. The effort also lowered the purchase cost of gloves, with reductions of up to 35 percent.

“We wanted to make sure we did this to its full capabilities and did it throughout the TOSC contract. We’ve gotten almost all of the PPE changed over to Kimberly-Clark so it can be recycled,” said Environmental Scientist April Smith, who spearheaded the effort, along with An Huynh, also an environmental scientist on the TOSC contract. “I’d like to see us change in every area possible and expand this as far as it can go.”

As part of the newly established process, all supplier PPE is collected, placed in a recycle container, and shipped back to the company to be recycled into usable products. The containers are set up throughout multiple TOSC facilities on center.

The Sustainable Acquisition Team created a process to identify contract actions that were reported incorrectly in the Federal Procurement Data System – Next Generation. The new process ensures Kennedy receives credit for contracts that include mandatory clauses for the purchase of biobased, energy-efficient, recycled content and other sustainable features.

Annie Williams (SI) led the team, which included Hien Nguyen (SI), Karen Rivaud (Procurement), and consultant Angela Solorio.

The SEA Award Program recognizes NASA civil servants and contractors who demonstrate leadership to enhance the environment, implement sustainable practices, conserve energy and preserve natural resources. Click here for more information about the SEA program.

GOES-T Separates from Spacecraft, Continues on Journey to Save Lives

GOES-T liftoff on a ULA rocket
A joint effort between NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the GOES-T satellite will be positioned to watch over the western contiguous United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico, Central America, and the Pacific Ocean. Liftoff occurred at 4:38 p.m. EST from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41 in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Following completion of a third planned start and then cutoff of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V 541 Centaur main engine, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-T (GOES-T) satellite separated from the spacecraft and is continuing on its journey to help meteorologists observe and predict local weather events, including thunderstorms, tornadoes, fog, hurricanes, flash floods and other severe weather.

In addition, GOES observations have proven helpful in monitoring dust storms, volcanic eruptions, and forest fires.

“That is what it’s all about – when we get to the spacecraft separation. It’s years of work going into that one event,” said NASA Launch Director Tim Dunn. “Today, we were blessed with a smooth and successful countdown.”

A joint effort between NASA and NOAA, GOES-T will be renamed GOES-18 once it reaches geostationary orbit, replacing GOES-17 as GOES West. It will be positioned to watch over the western contiguous United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico, Central America, and the Pacific Ocean. The satellite will be ideally located to monitor weather systems and hazards that most affect this region of the Western Hemisphere.

GOES-T is about the size of a small school bus and weighs more than 6,000 pounds. Liftoff, aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 541 rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41 in Florida, occurred right at the top of the two-hour launch window, at 4:38 p.m. EST. All milestones were successfully reached – from liftoff through spacecraft separation.

The launch was managed by NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

This concludes today’s live coverage of GOES-T launch day activities. To learn more about the GOES Satellite Network or to meet members of the GOES-T team, click here.

Main Engine Restart, Cutoff Executed

GOES-T mission logoThe United Launch Alliance Atlas V 541 Centaur main engine successfully restarted and then cut off again just a few minutes later as the GOES-T mission heads into a planned coast phase.

This will last approximately three hours, after which the Centaur main engine will start and then cut off for a third – and final – time.

Check out continuing coverage on NASA TV, the NASA app, or the agency’s website. Check back here for a live report on GOES-T’s separation from the rocket.

Main Engine Cutoff, First-Stage Separation

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V 541 rocket is shown carrying NOAA’s GOES-T satellite. Photo Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Have you ever wondered what the three numbers (541) on United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V 541 rocket stand for? The numbers signify a payload fairing, or nose cone, that is approximately 5 meters (16.4 feet) in diameter; 4 solid-rocket boosters fastened alongside the central common core booster; and a 1-engine Centaur upper stage.

Just an interesting fact to throw in while we announce main engine cutoff (MECO) has occurred and the first stage has separated from the rocket. Coming up next, in about 10 minutes, will be Centaur main engine start #2, followed by main engine cutoff #2 about five minutes later.

Liftoff! NOAA’s GOES-T Soars Into the Space Coast Sky

GOES-T liftoff
GOES-T lifts off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41 at 4:38 p.m. EST on Tuesday, March 1, 2022. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

3, 2, 1 … LIFTOFF! The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-T (GOES-T) satellite spacecraft lights up the late afternoon Florida sky as it roars off the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on a joint effort with NASA to help meteorologists observe and predict local weather events.

Stay right here on the blog, or tune in to NASA TV, the NASA app, or the agency’s website to watch the spacecraft and rocket eclipse more launch milestones. Live coverage continues through GOES-T spacecraft separation at approximately 8:30 this evening. The next milestone is main engine cutoff, or MECO, coming in about 10 minutes.