Engineers rolled a test version of the Orion spacecraft integrated with the Launch Abort System for the Ascent Abort-2 flight test from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Abort System Facility to Space Launch Complex 46 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in preparation for its launch this summer.
The 21.5 mile trek began around 6 p.m. on May 22, and finished at 3:18 a.m. on May 23. The team will be stacking all the AA-2 elements together at the launch pad over the next several weeks.
During the flight, planned for July 2, a test version of Orion will launch on a booster to more than six miles in altitude, where Orion’s launch abort system will pull the capsule and its crew away to safety if an emergency occurs during ascent on the Space Launch System rocket.
The test helps pave the way for Artemis missions at the Moon and will enable astronauts to set foot on the lunar surface by 2024.
The 46,000-pound flight test article that will be used for a test of Orion’s Launch Abort System (LAS) was lifted and mated to its transportation pallet inside the Launch Abort System Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 18, 2019. The flight test article includes the Orion test article, a separation ring created for this test, and the LAS. This operation marks the completion of the flight test article integration and checkout operations necessary for NASA’s Ascent Abort-2 (AA-2) flight test scheduled for July. Next, the system will roll to Pad 46 where the team will be stacking all the AA-2 elements together at the launch pad over the next several weeks.
AA-2 will demonstrate the abort system can activate, steer the spacecraft, and carry astronauts to a safe distance if an emergency arises during Orion’s climb to orbit as the spacecraft faces the greatest aerodynamic pressure during ascent. AA-2 is an important test to verify Orion’s design to safely carry astronauts on deep space missions as NASA works to land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024
During the three-minute test, the LAS with the Orion test article will launch atop a booster from Space Launch Complex 46 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, to an altitude of about six miles and traveling at more than 1,000 mph. The abort motor will quickly whisk the crew module away from the booster, and the attitude control motor will maneuver the assembly into position to jettison the crew module. Test data from 890 sensors will be sent in real-time to ground sites as well as recorded on board by 12 data recorders. The 12 data recorders will eject from the crew module before Orion reaches the water and will be retrieved after the test.
With no astronauts on board, the test concludes after the data recorders are ejected and does not include parachutes or recovery of the test capsule. AA-2 is focused on testing Orion’s ability to abort during ascent, and NASA has already fully qualified the parachute system for flights with crew through an extensive series of 17 developmental tests and 8 qualification tests completed at the end of 2018.
The LAS was designed and built by NASA and Lockheed Martin with motors provided by Northrop Grumman and Aerojet Rocketdyne. NASA’s Orion and Exploration Ground Systems programs, contractors Jacob’s, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, in conjunction with the Air Force Space and Missile Center’s Launch Operations branch and the 45th Space Wing will perform flight operations for AA-2.
Richard G. Smith, a former director of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, passed away March 14, 2019, in Decatur, Alabama. He was 89 years old.
Smith served as director of Kennedy from Sept. 26, 1979 to Aug. 2, 1986. During his years as director, the buildup of the space shuttle was completed, 25 space shuttle missions were launched and planning efforts began for the International Space Station.
At the beginning of his career, Smith became a member of the rocket research and development team at Redstone Arsenal in Alabama in 1951. He transferred to NASA in July 1960 when the Development Operations Division of the Army Ballistic Missile Agency became the nucleus for the establishment of the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville.
Smith served in various positions at Marshall, including in the former Guidance and Control Laboratory and in the Systems Engineering Office prior to being appointed deputy manager and later manager of the Saturn Program. In 1974, Smith was named deputy director of the Marshall Center.
In August 1978, Smith accepted a one-year assignment as deputy associate administrator for Space Transportation Systems at NASA Headquarters in Washington. He served as director of the Skylab Task Force, appointed by the NASA administrator to represent NASA preceding and following the re-entry of Skylab.
For his contributions to the Apollo Lunar Landing Program and the Skylab Program, Smith received the NASA Medal for Exceptional Service in 1969 and the NASA Medal for Distinguished Service in 1973. Smith was inducted into the Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame in 2011.
Smith was born in Durham, North Carolina, 1929. He attended Florence State College and Auburn University in Alabama, where he received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1951. In June 1981, he was awarded an honorary doctorate of science degree by Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Florida. He also was awarded an honorary doctorate of science degree by his Alma Mater, Auburn University, in December 1983.
He is survived by his wife of close to 66 years, Louise Self Smith, two daughters, two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Following a full day of briefings and discussion, NASA and SpaceX are proceeding with plans to conduct the first uncrewed test flight of the Crew Dragon on a mission to the International Space Station. Launch is scheduled for 2:48 a.m. EST Saturday, March 2 from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It will be the first time a commercially built and operated American rocket and spacecraft designed for humans will launch to the space station.
While the review was ongoing, crew members on station utilized a computer-based trainer and reviewed procedures to refresh themselves with the Crew Dragon spacecraft systems, rendezvous and docking, ingress operations, changes to emergency responses, and vehicle departure. Demo-1 is the first uncrewed flight to the space station for the Crew Dragon.
NASA will provide full mission coverage for activities from now through launch, docking, departure and splashdown.
NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is working with two American companies to provide safe, reliable and cost-effective crew transportation to and from the International Space Station, which could allow for additional research time and increase the opportunity for discovery aboard humanity’s testbed for exploration.
NASA astronaut E. Michael “Mike” Fincke has been added to the crew of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner’s Crew Flight Test, scheduled to launch later this year.
Fincke takes the place of astronaut Eric Boe, originally assigned to the mission in August 2018. Boe is unable to fly due to medical reasons; he will replace Fincke as the assistant to the chief for commercial crew in the astronaut office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.
The Starliner’s Crew Flight Test will be the first time that the new spacecraft, which is being developed and built by Boeing as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, is launched into space with humans on board.
Meteorologists with the U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing predict a 60 percent chance of favorable weather for liftoff of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket for the company’s 16th commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station. Launch is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec 4 at 1:38 p.m. EST from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. On launch day, the primary weather concerns are violation of the thick cloud layer and cumulus cloud rules and flight through precipitation.
SpaceX’s 16th commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station for NASA is targeted to launch at 1:39 p.m. EST Tuesday, Dec. 4, from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Join us Monday, Dec. 3, as we start SpaceX CRS-16 launch week coverage with prelaunch events on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
9:30 a.m. – What’s on Board science briefing from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The briefing will highlight the following research:
Jill McGuire, project manager, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, will discuss RRM3.
Dr. Ralph Dubayah, principal investigator, University of Maryland, and Bryan Blair, deputy principal investigator, Goddard, will discuss GEDI.
Dr. Elaine Horn-Ranney, principal investigator, Tympanogen, will discuss an investigation into novel wound dressings and how antibiotics can be directly released on wound sites.
Nicole Wagner, LambdaVision, will discuss the Enhancement of Performance and Longevity of a Protein-Based Retinal Implant.
Seniors from Brevard County area high schools were treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, ate lunch with an astronaut, and participated in a roundtable discussion with Kennedy engineers, scientists and business experts at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex on Nov. 7, 2018.
The students heard from astronaut Bob Springer, a member of the second class of NASA astronauts, who flew on the STS-29 and STS-38 missions. Mixing pertinent information with humor, Springer shared his experiences in training and flying on a space shuttle, and the astronaut selection criteria.
The annual event, hosted by the NASA Academic Engagement Office at the center, also provided information about NASA’s internships and scholarships. At the end of the day, each student received a certificate of recognition. From there, they were invited to tour the visitor complex and view the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit.
“Each year, the schools select a superb group of students to participate,” said Denise Coleman, Education Program specialist. “They were engaged and eager to see and hear as much as possible about Kennedy, NASA missions, and how all of that might relate to their future.”
NASA Kennedy Space Center’s use of a technology widely employed in sophisticated manufacturing supports the agency’s space exploration efforts and also has led to improvements in the product’s design.
The technology is a sensor called a residual gas analyzer/mass spectrometer, or RGA. At each step in the process of producing complex items like semi-conductors, which can involve thousands of RGAs for process control, the devices can rapidly detect vacuum leaks as well as contamination that, if left unchecked, could result in manufacturing defects. RGAs also can determine the type and location of a leak by identifying its chemical composition.
A team at Kennedy leveraged their experience working with RGAs while they worked with members of industry to troubleshoot Kennedy’s thermal vacuum chamber, or TVAC. The chamber can simulate various space environments to test and prepare hardware for flight.
The NASA researchers, members of the Water Analysis and Volatile Extraction (WAVE) team, are developing RGAs as payloads for landers to detect resources on the Moon, such as water that astronauts can drink or convert to rocket fuel. During testing of the TVAC, engineers had detected pressure spikes indicative of small, invisible leaks. The WAVE team and members of industry demonstrated how to use a RGA sensor to troubleshoot the leaks by identifying gases present in the chamber which would indicate the source of a leak, thus avoiding a costly and time-consuming delay to operations.
This was not their first collaboration.
The NASA researchers had already put their RGA through numerous flight verifications, and had worked with the vender to resolve issues that arose when adapting the technology for space. Vibration testing, in particular, highlighted several ways in which RGA manufacturers could make their devices more robust. Ken Wright, chief scientist and instrument development lead for sensor manufacturer Inficon, said working with NASA produced at least three direct improvements to the company’s residual gas analyzer. “Our main product is now better because of this collaboration,” Wright said.
Janine Captain, a researcher at Kennedy, said the work was beneficial to everyone involved. “This collaboration makes the center stronger and better equipped to provide testing facilities to our customers,” she said. “Working with commercial providers enables us to continue expanding our capabilities.”
Employing the RGA sensor to troubleshoot Kennedy’s thermal vacuum chamber while preparing the same equipment for use in space is another example of harnessing innovation to develop the agencies capabilities and using technology to drive exploration.
Today, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida celebrates U.S. Constitution Day, the official birthday of our country’s government. With the theme “Freedom Needs Space,” a remembrance poster makes appearances in various locations around the multi-user spaceport, including the crawlerway, Vehicle Assembly Building and Shuttle Landing Facility.
Constitution Day is an American federal observance. It recognizes the adoption of the U.S. Constitution and those who have become U.S. citizens. Constitution Day is observed on Sept. 17, the day in 1787 that 39 delegates to the Constitutional Convention, representing the 13 original colonies, met for the last time and signed the document in Philadelphia.