SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Awaits Liftoff with Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite is vertical at the launch pad.
The protective payload fairing containing the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite is seen atop the SpaceX Falcon 9 after the rocket was lifted to vertical at Space Launch Complex 4 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Nov. 20, 2020. Photo credit: SpaceX

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite inside the payload fairing, is lifted to vertical at Space Launch Complex-4 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Nov. 20, 2020.

Stay tuned for launch coverage today on the NASA’s Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich blog, on NASA TV, and the agency’s website. Live coverage begins at 8:45 a.m. PST (11:45 a.m. EST). Liftoff of the Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled for today, Nov. 21, at 9:17 a.m. PST (12:17 p.m. EST).

SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Rolls to Pad with Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich rolls out to the launch pad.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite atop in its payload fairing rolls out to Space Launch Complex-4 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Nov. 20, 2020. Photo credit: SpaceX

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite inside the payload fairing, rolls to Space Launch Complex-4 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Nov. 20, 2020.

Stay tuned for launch coverage of the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite today here on the NASA blog, on NASA TV, and the agency’s website. Live coverage begins at 8:45 a.m. PST (11:45 a.m. EST).

Tune in Tomorrow for Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich Launch Coverage

Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich stickerTune in tomorrow, Nov. 21, for launch coverage of the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite here on the NASA blog, on NASA TV, and the agency’s website. Live coverage begins at 8:45 a.m. PST (11:45 a.m. EST). Rollout of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite was completed this afternoon.

Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich ‘Go’ For Launch, Prelaunch News Conference at 2 p.m. PST (5 p.m. EST)

The Sentinel-6 satellite in the SpaceX Falcon 9 payload fairing.
An animated image of the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite in the SpaceX Falcon 9 payload fairing at the launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Photo credit: NASA

Launch and mission managers have completed the Launch Readiness Review for the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich mission. At the conclusion of the review, NASA’s Launch Services Program, SpaceX, the European Space Agency (ESA), and NOAA agreed to target the launch for 9:17 PST (12:17 p.m. EST) on Saturday, Nov. 21, from Space Launch Complex 4 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Currently, the 30th Space Wing weather forecast is 80% “go” for launch, with a 20% chance of violating weather constraints. The primary concern is ground winds of 20 knots at the time of launch.

A prelaunch news conference will be held at 2 p.m. PST (5 p.m. EST), live on NASA Television and the agency’s website. Participants are:

  • Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for Science Mission Directorate, NASA HQ
  • Johann-Dietrich Worner, Director-General, European Space Agency
  • Pierrik Vuilleumier, Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich project manager, ESA
  • Parag Vaze, Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich project manager, JPL
  • Tim Dunn, NASA Launch Director, Launch Services Program, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center
  • Julianna Scheiman, program manager, NASA Launch Services, SpaceX
  • Anthony Mastalir, commander, 30th Space Wing and Western Launch and Test Range
  • John Ott, weather officer, 30th Space Wing

NASA TV launch coverage will begin at 8:45 a.m. PST (11:45 a.m. EST) on Nov. 21. You can follow the countdown milestones here on the blog and on NASA Television.

Stay connected with the mission on social media, and let people know you’re following it on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram using the hashtag #SeeingTheSeas and tag these accounts:

Twitter: @NASA@NASAEarth@NASA_JPL@NASASocial@ESA@ESA_EO@EU_Commission@NOAA@CNES@Eumetsat@CopernicusEU@defis_eu  @SpaceX@NASA_LSP@NASA36030thSpaceWing
Facebook: NASANASA JPLNASA EarthNASA LSP30thSpaceWing
Instagram: NASANASAJPLNASAEarthVandenberg_AFB

Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich Launch Readiness Review, Televised Briefings on Tap Today

The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich mission patch Today, launch and mission managers are holding the final major review, called the Launch Readiness Review, for the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich mission that will launch from Space Launch Complex 4 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Launch is targeted for 9:17 a.m. PST (12:17 p.m. EST) on Saturday, Nov. 21.

Coming up today at 12:30 p.m. PST (3:30 p.m. EST) is a science briefing, live on NASA Television and the agency’s website. Participants are:

  • Karen St. Germain, director, NASA Earth Science Division, NASA HQ
  • Josh Willis, Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich project scientist, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) (remote)
  • Craig Donlon, Sentinel-6 mission scientist, European Space Agency (remote)
  • Remko Scharroo, programme scientist for Sentinel-6 EUMESTAT (remote)
  • Deirdre Byrne, oceanographer, NOAA (remote)
  • Luanne Thompson, Walters Professor of Oceanography, University of Washington (remote)

A prelaunch news conference will be held today at 2 p.m. PST (5 p.m. EST), live on NASA Television and the agency’s website. Participants are:

  • Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for Science Mission Directorate, NASA HQ
  • Johann-Dietrich Worner, Director-General, European Space Agency
  • Pierrik Vuilleumier, Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich project manager, European Space Agency
  • Parag Vaze, Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich project manager, JPL
  • Tim Dunn, NASA Launch Director, Launch Services Program, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center
  • Julianna Scheiman, program manager, NASA Launch Services, SpaceX
  • Anthony Mastalir, commander, 30th Space Wing and Western Launch and Test Range
  • John Ott, weather officer, 30th Space Wing

NASA TV launch coverage will begin at 8:45 a.m. PST (11:45 a.m. EST) on Nov. 21.

Follow along with launch activities and get more information about the mission at: https://www.nasa.gov/sentinel-6.

Learn more about NASA’s Launch Services Program at: https://www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy/launchingrockets/index.html.

Stay connected with the mission on social media, and let people know you’re following it on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram using the hashtag #SeeingTheSeas and tag these accounts:

Twitter: @NASA@NASAEarth@NASA_JPL@NASASocial@ESA@ESA_EO@EU_Commission@NOAA@CNES@Eumetsat@CopernicusEU@defis_eu  @SpaceX@NASA_LSP@NASA36030thSpaceWing
Facebook: NASANASA JPLNASA EarthNASA LSP30thSpaceWing
Instagram: NASANASAJPLNASAEarthVandenberg_AFB

Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich ‘Go’ to Proceed Toward Nov. 21 Launch

The Sentinel-6 satellite in the SpaceX Falcon 9 payload fairing.
The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite is in the SpaceX Falcon 9 payload fairing at the launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Photo credit: NASA, JPL
The Sentinel-6 satellite is encapsulated in the SpaceX Falcon 9 payload fairing.
The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite is encapsulated in the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket’s payload fairing on Nov. 3, 2020, inside SpaceX’s Payload Processing Facility at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Photo credit: NASA/Randy Beaudoin

The Flight Readiness Review (FRR) for the U.S.-European Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich ocean-monitoring satellite has concluded, and teams are proceeding toward a planned liftoff aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 9:17 a.m. PST (12:17 p.m. EST) on Saturday, Nov. 21, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. 

This mission is an international collaboration between NASA and several partners. It is the first of two identical satellites to be launched this year and in 2025 to continue observations of sea level change for at least the next decade.

Live launch coverage will begin at 8:45 a.m. PST (11:45 a.m. EST), on NASA Television and the agency’s website, with prelaunch and science briefings the day before on Nov. 20. Click here for ways to follow along with the mission.

Sentinel-6 Satellite Arrives at Vandenberg for Preflight Checkout

The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite, secured inside a shipping container, arrives at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Sept. 24, 2020, aboard an Antonov cargo aircraft.
The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite, secured inside a shipping container, arrives at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Sept. 24, 2020, aboard an Antonov cargo aircraft. Photo credit: NASA/JPL

The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite, secured inside a shipping container, arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Thursday, Sept. 24, aboard an Antonov cargo aircraft. It was offloaded from the aircraft and moved to the SpaceX Payload Processing Facility for checkout and preflight processing.

The mission is an international partnership and the first launch of a constellation of two satellites that will observe changes in Earth’s sea levels for at least the next decade. Launching atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 Full Thrust rocket, Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich is targeted to lift off from Vandenberg’s Space Launch Complex 4 on Nov. 10, 2020.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, manages NASA’s contribution to the mission. The Launch Services Program, based at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is responsible for launch management.

Orion Test Articles Arrive to Kennedy for Testing on Future Artemis Missions

NASA’s Super Guppy arrives at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch and Landing Facility in Florida on Sept. 11, 2020, carrying the Orion Service Module Structural Test Article (SM-STA). Photo credit: NASA/Yulista Tactical Services, LLC/Tommy Quijas

The Orion Service Module Structural Test Article (SM-STA), composed of the European Service Module (ESM) and Crew Module Adapter (CMA), arrived at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida following the completion of the test campaign to certify the Orion Service Module for Artemis I. Transported via Super Guppy from Lockheed Martin’s test facility in Denver, Colorado, on Sept. 11, components will now be used in testing for future Artemis missions.

“The Orion SM-STA supported testing in multiple configurations to validate the structural robustness of the vehicle under a variety of conditions that a spacecraft will experience on lunar missions for the Artemis program,” said Rafael Garcia, Orion Test and Verification lead.

At Kennedy, the Orion SM-STA test article will be separated from the CMA test article, and portions of the CMA test article will support qualifications tests in preparation for the Artemis II mission. The test version of the ESM will remain at Kennedy, in order to support future structural qualification tests such as testing what volume of sound and how much shaking the vehicle can handle for future Artemis missions.

When tested together, the full test stack of Orion verified the spacecraft’s structural durability for all flight phases of the Artemis I flight, which is designed to be an opportunity to test the kind of maneuvers and environments the spacecraft will see on future exploration missions. The test structures experienced launch and entry loads tests, intense acoustic vibration force, and shock tests that recreate the powerful blasts needed for critical separation events during flight. A lightning test was performed to evaluate potential flight hardware damage if the vehicle were to be hit by lightning prior to launch.

The Artemis II flight will test a hybrid free return trajectory, which uses the Moon’s gravitational pull as a slingshot to put Orion on the return path home instead of using propulsion. With astronauts aboard the spacecraft, additional validation is required of all vehicle components to certify the capsule prior to proving lunar sustainability with Artemis III and beyond.

The first in a series of increasingly complex missions, Artemis I will test the Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System as an integrated system ahead of crewed flights to the Moon. Under the Artemis program, NASA will land the first woman and the next man on the Moon in 2024.

Final Launch Abort System Motor Arrives for Artemis II Crewed Mission

The attitude control motor for the Artemis II mission arrives in the Launch Abort System Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Aug. 28, 2020.
The attitude control motor for the Artemis II mission arrives in the Launch Abort System Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Aug. 28, 2020. Photo credit NASA/Ben Smegelsky

The last of three motors required to assemble the Launch Abort System for NASA’s Artemis II mission–the first crewed mission of the Orion spacecraft–arrived at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on August 28. The attitude control motor (ACM) was delivered by truck from Northrop Grumman’s manufacturing facility in Maryland, to the Launch Abort System Facility (LASF) at Kennedy.

During launch of Orion atop the agency’s Space Launch System rocket, the LAS motors work together to separate the spacecraft from the rocket in the unlikely event of an emergency during launch. The LAS includes three motors – the launch abort motor, the jettison motor, and the attitude control motor—that once activated, will steer the spacecraft carrying the astronauts to safety. The launch abort and attitude control motors were manufactured by Northrop Grumman; the jettison motor was manufactured by Aerojet Rocketdyne.

The ACM operates to keep Orion’s crew module on a controlled flight path in the event it needs to jettison and steer away from the rocket. It then reorients the crew module for parachute deployment and landing. The motor consists of a solid propellant gas generator, with eight proportional valves equally spaced around the outside of the 32-inch diameter motor. Together, the valves can exert up to 7,000 pounds of steering force to the vehicle in any direction upon command from the crew module.

Inside the LASF, the motor will be placed on a special trailer for future integration with the rest of the LAS elements. It will remain in the LASF midbay, where the Artemis I LAS is being integrated with its designated crew and service module for its mission next year.

Artemis II is the first crewed flight in a series of increasingly complex missions to the Moon that will lay the foundation for exploration of Mars and beyond. Artemis II will confirm all of the Orion spacecraft’s systems operate as designed in the actual environment of deep space with astronauts aboard. As part of the Artemis program, NASA will send the first woman and next man to the Moon in 2024.

NASA Pins Down First Step in SLS Stacking for Artemis I

Inside the Rotation, Processing and Surge Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Payton Jones, at left, a launch vehicle processing technician, and Bradley Bundy, a spaceflight technician, both with Jacobs, complete the first mate pinning of the right-hand motor segment to the right-hand aft skirt on one of the two solid rocket boosters for the agency’s Space Launch System.
Inside the Rotation, Processing and Surge Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Payton Jones, at left, a launch vehicle processing technician, and Bradley Bundy, a spaceflight technician, both with Jacobs, complete the first mate pinning of the right-hand motor segment to the right-hand aft skirt on one of the two solid rocket boosters for the agency’s Space Launch System. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

About a dozen technicians and engineers from Exploration Ground Systems worked together recently at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center to carry out the first step in stacking the twin solid rocket boosters that help launch NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket for the first Artemis lunar mission

Inside the Florida spaceport’s Rotation, Processing and Surge Facility, the NASA and Jacobs team completed a pin. The pinning activity involved using bolts to attach one of five segments that make up one of two solid rocket boosters for SLS to the rocket’s aft skirt. A crane crew assisted in mating the aft segments to the rocket’s two aft skirts.

Inside the Rotation, Processing and Surge Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Pablo Martinez, a handling, mechanical and structures engineer on the Jacobs Technology Inc. Test and Operations Support Contract, prepares to insert the first of many pins that will secure the Space Launch System’s right-hand motor segment to the rocket’s right-hand aft skirt.
Inside the Rotation, Processing and Surge Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Pablo Martinez, a handling, mechanical and structures engineer on the Jacobs Technology Inc. Test and Operations Support Contract, prepares to insert the first of many pins that will secure the Space Launch System’s right-hand motor segment to the rocket’s right-hand aft skirt. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

A handful of the team members gained pinning experience on boosters for the space shuttle, while the rest were first-time pinners. Pablo Martinez, Jacobs TOSC handling, mechanical and structures engineer, inserted the first of 177 pins per joint to complete the first official step in stacking the SLS boosters.

The next step is a move to Kennedy’s iconic Vehicle Assembly Building to await stacking on the mobile launcher.

Manufactured by Northrop Grumman in Utah, the 177-foot-tall twin boosters provide more than 75 percent of the total SLS thrust at launch. SLS is the most powerful rocket NASA has ever built.

The SLS rocket will launch NASA’s Orion spacecraft and send it to the Moon for Artemis I — a mission to test the two as an integrated system, leading up to human missions to the Moon. Under the Artemis program, NASA will land the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024.

View a video of booster segment mate pinning.