Fourth Set of New Work Platforms Installed in Vehicle Assembly Building High Bay 3

The g-level work platforms are installed in the Vehicle Assembly Building High Bay 3.The G-level work platforms for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, were installed this week in High Bay 3 of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. A heavy-lift crane was used to raise G south and G north platforms up from the transfer aisle, then over and down to about the 14th floor level for installation.

The G-level work platforms are the fourth of 10 levels of work platforms that will surround and provide access to the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft for Exploration Mission 1. The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program is overseeing upgrades and modifications to VAB High Bay 3, including installation of the new work platforms, to prepare for deep space missions, including NASA’s journey to Mars.

Photo credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky

Tail Service Mast Umbilicals Prepared to Support NASA’s Journey to Mars

A Tail Service Mast Umbilical at Precision Fabrication Cleaning in Cocoa, Florida.
A crane lowers a segment of one of the Tail Service Mast Umbilicals to its other segment at Precision Fabrication Cleaning in Cocoa, Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Bill White

Several connections, called launch umbilicals, will connect from the mobile launcher tower and provide power, communications, coolant and fuel to NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft for their first integrated mission. Among them are two umbilicals, called tail service mast umbilicals (TSMUs). They are being cleaned and assembled at Precision Fabrication Cleaning in Cocoa, Florida, before they are transported to the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for testing.

Technicians are cleaning the two segments of each umbilical to remove any dirt or debris that may hinder their functionality, checking them for any defects, and then assembling the parts to form two complete umbilicals. They will be transported to Kennedy’s Launch Equipment Test Facility where they will undergo testing to ensure their readiness to support prelaunch operations leading up to launch.

The umbilicals will connect from the zero-level deck on the base of the mobile launcher to the SLS rocket core stage aft section. The 33-foot-tall structures will provide liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen fluid lines and electrical cable connections to the SLS core stage engine section to support propellant handling during prelaunch operations.

At the LETF, engineers and technicians will use liquid nitrogen to simulate the liquid oxygen for the TSMU that will provide liquid oxygen. They will test the umbilical’s arm performance across the full range of SLS core stage motions and simulate a vehicle launch using the Vehicle Motion Simulator test fixture. The same series of tests will be performed with the second TSMU that will provide liquid hydrogen, using the actual liquid hydrogen commodity.

Before launch, both TSMUs will tilt back to ensure a safe and reliable disconnect and retract of all umbilical hardware away from the rocket during liftoff.

Kennedy’s Engineering Directorate, along with the Ground Systems Development and Operations Program, are supporting processing activities of the umbilicals for missions to deep space, including NASA’s journey to Mars.

Platform D South Arrives at Kennedy Space Center for NASA’s Space Launch System

Platform D South arrives at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.A heavy load transport truck from Tillett Heavy Hauling in Titusville, Florida, arrived at the north entrance gate at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on June 6, carrying the first half of the D-level work platforms, D south, for the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. The platform will be delivered to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) staging area in the west parking lot. The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program is overseeing upgrades and modifications to VAB High Bay 3 to support processing of the SLS and Orion spacecraft. A total of 10 levels of new platforms, 20 platform halves altogether, will surround the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft and provide access for testing and processing to prepare for Exploration Mission 1.

Photo credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky

Liquid Hydrogen Tanker Flex Hose Fit Check at Launch Pad 39B

Engineers and technicians go over procedures with liquid hydrogen (LH2) provider PRAXAIR April 28 to prepare for a fit check of the new LH2 transfer flex hose at Launch Pad 39BEngineers and technicians on the Test and Operations Support Contract go over procedures with liquid hydrogen (LH2) provider PRAXAIR April 28 to prepare for a fit check of the new LH2 transfer flex hose at Launch Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. LH2 provider PRAXAIR connected the transfer flex hose from its LH2 truck to the LH2 tanker to confirm that the hose fits and functions properly. The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program is overseeing upgrades and modifications to Pad 39B to support processing of the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft for Exploration Mission 1 and NASA’s journey to Mars.

Photo credit: NASA/Frankie Martin

First Work Platforms Powered On for Testing in Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

The first half of the J-level work platforms is powered on for testing in the Vehicle Assembly Building.For the first time, one of the new work platforms in High Bay 3 inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida was powered on. Lights illuminate one half of the J-level platforms as the platform is extended. A preliminary test of both J platforms was completed April 28 to verify each platform’s push chain system, roller system and electrical connections. The J-level platforms are located about 112 feet above the floor, or nearly 11 stories high. The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program is overseeing upgrades and modifications to VAB High Bay 3 to support processing of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft. A total of 10 levels of new platforms, 20 platform halves altogether, will surround the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft and provide access for testing and processing.

Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

First Half of E-level Work Platforms for NASA’s Space Launch System Arrives at Kennedy Space Center

PWith its image reflected in the water, a heavy load transport truck proceeds along the road to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 26, carrying the first half of the E-level work platforms, E South, for the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. The platform will be delivered to the VAB staging area in the west parking lot. The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program is overseeing upgrades and modifications to VAB High Bay 3 to support processing of the SLS and Orion spacecraft. A total of 10 levels of new platforms, 20 platform halves altogether, will surround the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft and provide access for testing and processing.

Photo credit: NASA/Cory Huston

Second Half of J-level Work Platform Installed in Vehicle Assembly Building

Second half of Platform J is installed in High Bay 3 in the Vehicle Assembly Building.
The second half of the J-level work platforms was lifted by crane and installed today in High Bay 3 inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The newly installed platform completes the second of 10 levels of work platforms that will surround and provide access to NASA’s Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft for Exploration Mission 1. The J-level work platforms are installed about 112 feet above the VAB floor, or nearly 11 stories high. The platforms will provide access to the SLS core stage and solid rocket boosters. The K-level work platforms were installed in High Bay 3 earlier this year, about 86 feet above the VAB floor, or nearly nine stories high. The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program is overseeing upgrades and modifications to the VAB, including installation of new work platforms, to prepare for NASA’s journey to Mars.

Photo credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis

Prospective Partners Attend Partnership Landscape Forum at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

Partnership Landscape Forum at NASA's Kennedy Space Center.
Scott Colloredo, director of the Center Planning and Development Directorate at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, listens to a question from one of the participants during the Partnership Landscape Forum V held April 7 in a conference room at the center. Photo credit: NASA/Frankie Martin

More than 20 partners and prospective partners participated in a Partnership Landscape Forum hosted by the Center Planning and Development Directorate (CPD) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 7. The workshop was led by CPD Director Scott Colloredo, with welcoming remarks by Kennedy Center Director Bob Cabana.

“The landscape here at the Kennedy Space Center has changed tremendously in the last five years. We really are a multi-user spaceport and now we’re moving into a new phase of working agreements, Cabana said. “We’ve put the infrastructure in place to help make that happen. This is really an exciting time.”

Representatives from various Kennedy organizations shared information on the requirements necessary to do business with the center, including agreement approach and framework; commercial operations, safety and mission assurance requirements; and a perspective from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Presentations also covered Kennedy’s payload services capabilities, the Universal Propellant Servicing System developed for use at Launch Pad 39C and other launch locations, and the autonomous flight termination system that is available to customers through the center’s Technology Transfer Office.

“We’re counting on you, our current and future partners represented here today, to help shape the future of Kennedy and the whole space coast,” said Colloredo.

Government and academia forum participants included the U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing, FAA, Florida Department of Transportation, Space Florida, the Space Coast Economic Development Commission and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Industry attendees included Blue Origin, Boeing, Ensco, Gilmour Space Corp., Greenboard Enterprise, Masten, Micro Aerospace Solutions, Orbital ATK, Rocket Crafters Inc., Rocket Lab USA, Space Systems Alliance, SpaceX, TrailBlazer Technologies, United Launch Alliance and Virgin Galactic.

Attendees were encouraged to ask questions and participate in a roundtable discussion.

“Thank you for coming out today to share your ideas. Your feedback will help make this multi-user spaceport successful,” said Kennedy Deputy Director Janet Petro. “We want to be the place that people want to come to do business.”

Veg-03 Plant Pillows Readied at Kennedy Space Center for Trip to Space Station

Veg-03 seeds being prepared for flight.
Inside the Veggie flight laboratory in the Space Station Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Dr. Gioia Massa, NASA Veggie project lead, prepares plant pillows April 4, for the Veg-03 experiment. Photo credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky

Plant pillows containing ‘Tokyo Bekana’ Chinese cabbage seeds for NASA’s third Veggie plant growth system experiment, Veg-03, were prepared at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for their flight to the International Space Station. Veg-03 will continue NASA’s deep-space plant growth research to benefit the Earth and the agency’s journey to Mars. Veg-03 will be delivered aboard the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft during its eighth Commercial Resupply Services mission.

Veg-03 is a follow-on experiment to the Veg-01 experiment that launched in 2014 and contained ’Outredgeous‘ red romaine lettuce seeds. Plants grow differently in space than on Earth based on differences in the environmental factors controlling growth. Future long-duration missions into the solar system, finally culminating on Mars, will require a fresh food supply to supplement crew diets. Understanding how plants respond to microgravity is an important step toward that goal.

“This variety of Chinese cabbage was selected based on excellent growth and flavor,” said Gioia Massa, NASA Veg-03 science team lead. “Veg-03 will allow us to test a new variety of crop plants that we hope the crew will eat and enjoy as we work toward developing a salad system for ISS.”

Inside a laboratory at the Space Station Processing Facility, the Veg-03 science team inserted a wick into each of the 18 pillows and then measured a precise amount of calcined clay, or space dirt, and fertilizer, and inserted the mixture into each pillow. Each plant pillow was sealed by sewing the open end shut.

The science team sanitized the cabbage seeds, along with additional ‘Outredgeous’ lettuce seeds, and then planted the seeds into each pillow before sealing them in gas-impermeable bags and transferring them to the Engineering Services contractor for packing into a cargo transport bag. Twelve pillows of Chinese cabbage and six of lettuce will be sent to ISS.

“Veg-03 will build on former crewmember Scott Kelly’s autonomous gardening by testing similar gardening procedures with the leafy greens. We are hopeful that the ISS crewmembers will like the Chinese cabbage,” said Trent Smith, Veggie project manager.

Aboard the space station, crew members will insert the plant pillows into the Veggie plant growth system, activate the system’s LED lights, add water, and regularly monitor and care for the growth of the plants.

Later this summer, NASA also will send a plaque to the International Space Station that the crew members will affix to the Veggie facility to recognize and honor the legacy of space biology pioneers, particularly the recently deceased Thora Halstead and Ken Souza. Their research exploring how living organisms respond to a low-gravity environment and their early stewardship of a new science that became the discipline of space biology will continue to benefit future explorers on the journey to Mars.

Crawler-Transporter 2 Takes Trip to Launch Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

Crawler-transporter 2 deparrs the Vehicle Assembly Building March 22 on its way to Launch Pad 39B at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.NASA’s crawler-transporter 2 (CT-2) began its trek March 22 from the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) to Launch Pad 39B at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to test recently completed upgrades and modifications to support NASA’s journey to Mars. CT-2 moved along the crawlerway at no more than one mile per hour and will complete its journey to the pad after numerous scheduled stops along the way to verify the operation of the completed upgrades.

The crawler will depart the pad and travel along the crawlerway to the mobile launcher yard west park sight, where it will pick up a shuttle-era launch platform (MLP-1) to simulate how it would carry the new mobile launcher, and return to Pad 39B in order to verify the vehicle’s capabilities.

The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program oversaw upgrades to the crawler in the VAB. CT-2 received 16 new jacking, equalization and leveling (JEL) cylinders that will lift the mobile launcher, with the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft atop, and keep them level during transport to the pad; 88 new traction roller bearing assemblies; refurbishment of 16 gear boxes that contain bearings ranging in weight from 10 to 150 pounds each; new generators; and upgrades to the fluid and electrical systems.

The crawler will carry the mobile launcher with Orion atop the SLS rocket to Pad 39B for Exploration Mission-1.

CT-2 is one of two crawlers built in 1965 for the Apollo program, and also carried space shuttles for 30 years. CT-1 and CT-2 have travelled more than 5,000 miles during their 50-plus years in service for NASA’s space programs.

Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett