Kennedy Employees Support Recycling

In the parking lot of the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, a member of Goodwill Industries loads used household material for recycling. During the two-day event, employees dropped off items as part of America Recycles Day. Photo credit: NASA/ Michelle Stone
In the parking lot of the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, a member of Goodwill Industries loads used household material for recycling. During the two-day event, employees dropped off items as part of America Recycles Day. The center partnered with Goodwill Industries and several other local organizations to collect items for reprocessing. The annual event is a program of Keep America Beautiful, dedicated to promoting and celebrating recycling.
Photo credit: NASA/ Michelle Stone

Electronic devices such as televisions, computers and cellular telephones play a vital role in daily life. Over time, however, these modern wonders wear out and become waste. NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida recently partnered with Goodwill Industries and several other local organizations to collect these and other used household items as part of America Recycles Day.

The annual event is a nationally recognized program of Keep America Beautiful, dedicated to promoting and celebrating recycling in the U.S. Each year around mid-November, America Recycles Day organizers work to tell Americans about the value of not discarding no-longer-needed items.

Keep America Beautiful Senior Vice President of Recycling Brenda Pulley emphasized the organization’s goal while speaking at a congressional staff briefing during last year’s event.

“Since 1953, Keep America Beautiful has worked to fulfill a vision of a country where every community is a clean, green and beautiful place to live,” she said. “Our mission is to inspire and educate people to take action every day to improve and beautify their community environment.”

On Nov. 14 and 15, Kennedy employees worked to keep communities around the spaceport clean and green by bringing in items for recycling, dropping them off in the parking lots of the Kennedy Data Center and Vehicle Assembly Building. While much of what was turned in was electronic waste, items included everything from gently used household products, to greeting cards and serviceable eyeglasses.

All totaled, spaceport employees made approximately 295 drop-offs.

These efforts are paying off. According to the website of Keep America Beautiful, over the past 30 years the national recycling rate in the United States has increased by 34 percent.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that electronic products are made from valuable resources and materials. Recycling consumer electronics conserves natural resources and avoids air and water pollution, as well as greenhouse gas emissions caused by manufacturing. Recycling one million laptop computers saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used annually by more than 3,500 U.S. homes. For every million cellphones recycled, 35,000 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered.

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Free Flight Completes Crucial Milestone for Dream Chaser

Having been dropped from an altitude of 12,500 feet, Sierra Nevada Corp’s Dream Chaser lands at Edwards Air Force Base in California, as part of a successful free flight on Nov. 11, 2017. It was a crucial milestone to help finalize the design for the cargo version of the spacecraft for future resupply missions to the International Space Station.
Having been dropped from an altitude of 12,500 feet, Sierra Nevada Corp’s Dream Chaser lands at Edwards Air Force Base in California, as part of a successful free flight on Nov. 11, 2017. It was a crucial milestone to help finalize the design for the cargo version of the spacecraft for future resupply missions to the International Space Station.
Photo credit: NASA/Carla Thomas

Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser spacecraft recently glided to a successful landing at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center located on Edwards Air Force Base in California. Completion of Dream Chaser’s free flight test on Nov. 11, 2017, was a major milestone under a space act agreement with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

NASA selected Sierra Nevada Corporation, along with Orbital ATK and SpaceX, for the agency’s second commercial resupply contracts to deliver critical science, research and technology demonstrations to the International Space Station from 2019 to 2024.

For the free flight test, a Columbia Helicopters model 234-UT heavy-lift helicopter carried aloft an uncrewed Dream Chaser test article, suspended at the end of a cable. The lifting-body, winged spacecraft had all the same outer mold line specifications as a flight-ready vehicle. A lifting body is a fixed-wing aircraft or spacecraft shaped so that the vehicle body itself produces lift.

After release, Dream Chaser glided on its own and landed in a manner similar to NASA’s space shuttles.

“It is very exciting that Sierra Nevada Corporation successfully completed this important free-flight test,” said Steve Stich, deputy manager NASA Commercial Crew Program. “The Dream Chaser team has done an amazing job preparing for and executing this test and the Commercial Crew Program has been with them along the way. The Flight computers and avionics systems are the same as the orbital vehicle so this test will pave the way for future landings for the International Space Station missions.”

For the complete story on Dream Chaser’s first free flight, read the full article at: https://go.nasa.gov/2huQdVo .

Wreath Honors Gemini, Apollo Astronaut Richard Gordon

At the Heroes and Legends exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, a memorial wreath was placed following a ceremony to honor the memory of former NASA astronaut Richard Gordon. He performed two spacewalks during Gemini XI in 1966 and was command module pilot for Apollo 12 in 1969. Photo credit: NASA/Michelle Stone
At the Heroes and Legends exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, a memorial wreath was placed following a ceremony to honor the memory of former NASA astronaut Richard Gordon. He performed two spacewalks during Gemini XI in 1966 and was command module pilot for Apollo 12 in 1969.
Photo credit: NASA/Michelle Stone

In memory of NASA astronaut Richard Gordon, a memorial wreath was placed in the Heroes and Legends exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. The brief ceremony took place on the morning of Nov. 9, 2017. Gordon died Nov. 6, 2017, in San Marcos, California at the age of 88.

“NASA and the nation have lost one of our early space pioneers,” acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot said in a statement. “We send our condolences to the family and loved ones of Gemini and Apollo astronaut Richard Gordon, a hero from NASA’s third class of astronauts.”

"Ride 'em cowboy!" "Ride 'em cowboy," said Gemini XI command pilot Pete Conrad as pilot Richard Gordon attaches a tether from the Agena target vehicle to his spacecraft. The tether was later used in an experiment to test the feasibility of creating artificial gravity. Photo credit: NASA
“Ride ’em cowboy,” said Gemini XI command pilot Pete Conrad as pilot Richard Gordon attaches a tether from the Agena target vehicle to his spacecraft. The tether was later used in an experiment to test the feasibility of creating artificial gravity.
Photo credit: NASA

Gordon served as pilot with Pete Conrad on Gemini XI during Sept. 12-15, 1966. On that mission he performed two spacewalks during which he attached a tether from the Agena target vehicle to his spacecraft. Gordon and Conrad also set what was then a world altitude record of 850 miles.

Three years later, Gordon was command module pilot on the Apollo 12 Moon landing mission with Conrad as commander and Alan Bean as lunar module pilot. As Conrad and Bean landed on the Moon on Nov. 19, 1969, Gordon remained in lunar orbit just 60 miles above the surface, taking photographs and conducting experiments. Altogether, he spent more than 316 hours in space during his two space flights.

At NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Apollo 12 command module pilot Richard Gordon works in a simulator during training for the lunar mission. Photo credit: NASA
At NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Apollo 12 command module pilot Richard Gordon works in a simulator during training for the lunar mission.
Photo credit: NASA

Gordon was born in Seattle, Washington in 1929. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Washington in 1951.

In 1953, Gordon became a naval aviator and attended the All-Weather Flight School and jet transitional training. Gordon attended the Navy’s Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Maryland, in 1957, serving as a flight test pilot until 1960.

Gordon was a member of the group of astronauts selected by NASA in October 1963.

After retiring from the agency and the U.S. Navy in 1972, Gordon served as executive vice president of the New Orleans Saints of the National Football League and held executive positions at several companies in the oil and gas, engineering and technology industries.

Gordon was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in March 1993. In November 2005, he was honored by NASA with an Ambassador of Exploration Award. NASA presented this prestigious recognition to those who flew in the nation’s Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs from 1961 to 1972. Ambassadors of Exploration help NASA communicate the benefits and excitement of space exploration.

Rocket Coming Together for Boeing’s First Commercial Crew Flight Test

The Atlas V rocket that will launch Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft on the company’s uncrewed Orbital Flight Test for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is coming together inside a United Launch Alliance facility in Decatur, Alabama. The flight test is intended to prove the design of the integrated space system prior to the Crew Flight Test. These events are part of NASA’s required certification process as the company works to regularly fly astronauts to and from the International Space Station. Boeing's Starliner will launch on the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
The Atlas V rocket that will launch Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft on the company’s uncrewed Orbital Flight Test for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is coming together inside a United Launch Alliance facility in Decatur, Alabama. The flight test is intended to prove the design of the integrated space system prior to the Crew Flight Test. These events are part of NASA’s required certification process as the company works to regularly fly astronauts to and from the International Space Station. Boeing’s Starliner will launch on the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
Photo credit: United Launch Alliance

The Atlas V rocket that will launch Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft for the company’s uncrewed Orbital Flight Test for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is coming together inside a United Launch Alliance facility in Decatur, Alabama.

The uncrewed Orbital Flight Test is intended to prove the design of the integrated space system prior to the Crew Flight Test. These events are part of NASA’s required certification process as the company works to regularly fly astronauts to and from the International Space Station. Boeing and United Launch Alliance have begun conducting integrated reviews of components, software and systems along with decades of Atlas data to ensure integrated vehicle test simulations are similar to real-life conditions during missions. Starliners for the uncrewed and crew test flights, including for the pad abort test, are in various stages of production and testing.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is working with private companies, Boeing and SpaceX, as they each develop unique systems to fly astronauts for the agency to and from the space station. SpaceX is developing the Crew Dragon, or Dragon 2, spacecraft to launch on a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Boeing’s Starliner will liftoff on the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

NASA Night Gives Dreamflight Kids Opportunity of a Lifetime

Dreamflight Participant on a hoverboard at NASA NightA group of seriously ill or disabled children and their caregivers from the United Kingdom recently had an opportunity for a special vacation in Orlando, Florida. For the past 30 years, UK-based Dreamflight has chartered a 747 jumbo jet for 192 children facing a disability. The children spent 10 days in exciting events, including an evening of space-themed activities with NASA.

While in Central Florida, the children, ages 8 to 14, spent time at Orlando’s theme and water parks. For the past five years, NASA has been part of the experience for these youngsters with an interactive NASA Night created by volunteers from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

Dreamflight was co-founded in 1986 by Patricia Pearce and Derek Pereira, both of whom worked for British Airways. They began raising funds to take deserving children to Orlando theme parks and Dreamflight was born. The program’s goal is to change the kids’ young lives. But to the Kennedy employees who spent a few hours with these special children, Dreamflight and the children made a lasting impact.

Peter Karikas is 14 years old and is a member of the Stargazing Club at his school in Scotland. He stated that NASA Night was his favorite activity of the entire trip.

“I would love to work for NASA – that’s my dream job,” he said. “I’m quite interested in this as I aspire to do something like that,”

A total of 40 participants from Kennedy included employees from the center’s Education Projects and Youth Engagement Office, Commercial Crew Program, Launch Services Program, Ground Systems Development and Operations, as well as contractor representatives from Jacobs and Delaware North at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

In addition to Kennedy employees, the Orlando Science School’s “Clockwork Mania” FIRST Robotics team, including five students and two mentors, presented a robotic demonstration and answered questions.

While there were many fun activities, the young people were thrilled to hear from someone who had flown aboard the space shuttle. Florida Tech professor of physics and space sciences, Dr. Sam Durrance, gave a presentation called “Astronaut Talk.” He was a payload specialist on STS-35 in 1990 and STS-67 in 1995.

Karikas said he enjoyed meeting and talking to Durrance.

“I loved hearing his stories and seeing the pictures from space,” he said. “There is so much out there to do and learn about. It’s all fascinating to me.”

After hearing about what it’s like to fly in space, the young people participated in a virtual reality demonstration, gee-whiz science presentation, rode a hovercraft and had their picture taken with the “SpacePerson” from the Kennedy visitor complex.

Dreamflight team leader Jason Beamish-Knight has been volunteering with the organization for 15 years.

“I enjoy the satisfaction of working with the kids,” he said. “It’s all about helping them have the holiday of a lifetime.”

Photo credit: Dreamflight

First Nations Launch Winners Visit Kennedy Space Center

First Nations Launch Competition Winners tour the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

A group of 15 college students recently visited NASA’s Kennedy Space Center as winners of the First Nations Launch competition in Wisconsin. They were part of teams that successfully flew high-powered rockets, earning them an opportunity to visit the Florida spaceport.

The competition is supported by NASA and the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium. It provides an opportunity for students attending tribal colleges and universities or who are members of a campus American Indian Science and Engineering Society, or AISES, chapter to design, build and launch a rocket at a competition in Kansasville, Wisconsin.

“The project has been ongoing for nine years,” said Rob Cannon, a project specialist in Kennedy’s Education Office who serves as activity manager for the visit of the First Nations Launch Competition. “NASA began supporting it starting with the second year.”

During the students’ visit to Kennedy, they toured the Vehicle Assembly Building, Launch Control Center, Swamp Works, Kennedy Prototype Shop, Cryogenics Lab and the visitor complex. They also were given the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion on career opportunities with NASA, contractors or other areas of the aerospace industry.

Christian Cultee participated as a student at Northwest Indian College established by the Lummi Nation in Bellingham, Washington. He noted that his visit was one he would not soon forget.

“Every stop of our tour made me even more eager to see where they would bring us next,” he said. “We extend our appreciation to the employees who took time out of their busy schedules to share with us their experience at Kennedy. We would like them to know that their impact on us was much larger than they’ll ever know.”

While competitors usually are majoring in engineering disciplines, Cannon noted that that’s not always the case.

“There was one team that was made up entirely of nursing students,” he said. “While it may help to be majoring in a technical field, the competition is open to any student interested in building a rocket and is attending a tribal college or a member of an AISES chapter.”

There are two annual challenges students may choose to enter. In this year’s Tribal Challenge, a rocket is launched and is judged on its stability using a small onboard camera. In the AISES Challenge, student teams from AISES chapters design, build and launch a rocket that will be able to provide an active drag system integrated into the rocket by means of a mechanical device. The goal is to attain an altitude of exactly 75 percent of the nondeployed drag system to the altitude of the first launch.

Photo credit: NASA/Cory Huston

Mars Rover to Help Visitor Complex Kick off New Mars Exhibit

Mars Rover Concept VehicleIt looks like something out of this world, but that’s exactly where it would work. A futuristic Mars rover concept vehicle was recently unveiled at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex with a goal of inspiration and education as NASA continues developing plans for its journey to the Red Planet.

The visitor complex kicked off its “Summer of Mars” promotion with a June 5 ceremony which included former astronaut Scott Kelly. During his appearance, Kelly shared some of his experiences during a one-year stay aboard the International Space Station from March 27, 2015 to Feb. 3, 2016.

According to Rebecca Shireman, assistant manager of public relations for the Kennedy visitor complex, the “Summer of Mars” program will provide a survey of NASA’s studies of the Red Planet.

“It’s an all-encompassing effort to review the history of our efforts to explore Mars and look ahead to what is being planned,” she said. “We hope this will encourage young people to want to learn more about being a part of the effort to go to Mars.”

NASA’s next robotic Mars rover is set to land on the Red Planet in 2020. The Mars 2020 rover will search for signs of past microbial life and collect core samples for a potentially future return to Earth.

The builders of the scientifically-themed Mars rover concept vehicle, Parker Brothers Concepts of Port Canaveral, Florida, incorporated input into its design from NASA subject matter experts. Construction of the Mars rover was commissioned by the Kennedy visitor complex without use of taxpayer dollars.

The rover operates on an electric motor, powered by solar panels and a 700-volt battery. The rover separates in the middle with the front area designed for scouting and equipped with a radio and navigation provided by the Global Positioning System. The back section serves as a laboratory which can disconnect for autonomous research. While this exact rover is not expected to operate on Mars, one or more of its elements could make its way into a rover astronauts will drive on the Red Planet.

Following several weeks on display at Kennedy’s visitor complex, the Mars rover concept vehicle will be displayed at several locations. From July through August, it will be displayed at several locations during a tour along the East Coast.

Shireman explained that the Mars rover concept vehicle will return to the visitor complex to be part of the new Astronaut Training Experience attraction opening in the fall of this year.

Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Kennedy celebrates Earth Day 2017

Earth Day 2017 Activites at KSC
Approximately 500 Kennedy Space Center employees attended the 2017 Earth Day event at the Operations and Support Building II on April 20. One of 40 exhibitors shared information on how the biogas digester system converts any organic waste into clean cooking gas and high-quality liquid fertilizer for gardens.
Photo credit: NASA/Cory Huston

The theme for the 48th Earth Day could have been “making space for nature” as NASA’s Kennedy Space Center hosted about 40 exhibitors who shared information on renewable energy, electric cars and Florida-friendly landscaping.

The event kicked off at the Operations and Support Building II on April 20, then moved to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex on April 21, allowing employees and visitors to learn and benefit from an array of sources.

“Kennedy Space Center is dedicated to being really good stewards of the planet,” said Jeanne Ryba of Kennedy’s Environmental Management Branch. “Everyone seemed to enjoy and appreciate the caliber of vendors.”

The celebration was designed to spread awareness of innovations that can contribute to sustainable living at work and at home.

Among the vendors was HomeBiogas who showed a biogas digester system that could convert any organic waste into clean cooking gas and high-quality liquid fertilizer.

“We are trying to get everyone to think more futuristically,” said Rhiannon Roberts, the Internship Coordinator for the Patel College of Global Sustainability. “We eventually are shooting for galactic sustainability because that is where the future is at.”

There also were natural conservation specialists showing ways to protect wildlife and Florida waters. Many employees took home plants that will help the environment.

Also included were representatives of the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Canaveral National Seashore, Brevard Zoo and General Motors. Other vendors shared information on Florida’s expanded biking and hiking trails. Representatives from the Brevard Zoo showed the zoo’s efforts to achieve sustainability, including a recycling program, enhanced sustainability signage within the zoo and assisting with special events to minimize waste.

Earth Day in the United States, first celebrated April 22, 1970, is held nationally each April to promote environmental awareness and appreciation. For more than four decades, NASA has been using the vantage point of space to increase the understanding of Earth and safeguard the future while improving lives.

“We like to think every day is Earth Day at Kennedy Space Center,” Ryba said.

Volunteers Clean Kennedy Space Center’s Beach

About 50 participants led by NASA Kennedy Space Center's Employee Resource Groups picked up about 20 bags of trash and other large debris along the center's shoreline before turtle-nesting season as a community service. Sea turtle-nesting season begins in about one month. Unlike what might be found along a public beach, all of the debris that litters Kennedy’s restricted beaches washes ashore after being discarded at sea. Of the 72 miles of beach that form the eastern boundary of Brevard County, Florida, about six of those miles line Kennedy.
About 50 participants led by NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Employee Resource Groups picked up about 20 bags of trash and other large debris along the center’s shoreline before turtle-nesting season as a community service. Sea turtle-nesting season begins in about one month. Unlike what might be found along a public beach, all of the debris that litters Kennedy’s restricted beaches washes ashore after being discarded at sea. Of the 72 miles of beach that form the eastern boundary of Brevard County, Florida, about six of those miles line Kennedy.
Photo credit: Bill White

About 50 employees picked up 20 bags of trash and large debris along the shoreline of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center during a beach cleanup in preparation of the upcoming sea turtle-nesting season.

Led by the center’s Employee Resource Groups, the participants met at the Beach House, worked about an hour and covered approximately two miles in their efforts. Of the 72 miles of beach that form the eastern boundary of Brevard County, about six of those miles line Kennedy.

Unlike what might be found along a public beach, all of the debris that litters Kennedy’s restricted beaches washes ashore after being discarded at sea. So before the group started, Kennedy’s Hazardous Materials team swept the beach to take care of any dangerous/suspicious items. They also stayed with the group through the entire cleanup on ATVs and responded quickly to potentially dangerous items the group found.

Along with cleaning the beach, the group’s team-building effort included attracting a diverse group of Kennedy workers to come together and make a positive impact on Kennedy. With sea turtle-nesting season beginning in about a month, the group deemed the timing ideal. The beach looked completely transformed after the cleanup, said some of those taking part in the effort.

With Kennedy’s shoreline being part of the top nesting area in the Western Hemisphere for loggerhead sea turtles, wildlife agencies consider it important to remove trash and debris along the coast whenever possible.

“We’re hoping those sea turtles can have a safer nesting season with the newly clean beach,” said Pri Thakrar, an engineer at Kennedy. “It was a beautiful day and we got a lot of positive feedback from the participants.”

Thakrar, along with engineer and co-organizer Megan Yohpe, hope to make this a regular event.

Kennedy ‘Swarmed’ as Students Develop Computer Code to Support Exploration

Swarmathon 2017

Students from colleges and universities from across the nation recently participated in a robotic programming competition at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Their research may lead to technology which will help astronauts find needed resources when exploring the moon or Mars.

In the spaceport’s second annual Swarmathon competition, aspiring engineers from 20 teams representing 22 minority serving universities and community colleges were invited to develop software code to operate innovative robots called “Swarmies.” The event took place April 18-20, 2017, at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

In her welcoming remarks, Kennedy’s deputy center director, Janet Petro, pointed out to the students that their endeavors to develop robotic software code are more than an academic exercise.

“All of the work that you have done – designing, coding, testing – will soon be put to the ultimate test,” she said. “You should be extremely proud of your accomplishments. You have shown tenacity, problem-solving, teamwork and innovation – all qualities that NASA highly values.”

A team from Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI) in Albuquerque, New Mexico won this year’s Swarmathon capturing a $5,000 cash prize.

The small, four-wheeled Swarmie robots were designed through a collaboration between Kennedy’s Swamp Works laboratory and the University of New Mexico. It is a technology that could revolutionize space exploration by more effectively and efficiently locating hidden resources while astronauts explore distant destinations.

Computer scientists are developing Swarmies to focus not so much on the hardware, but the software. The Swarmathon is designed to help students improve their skills in robotics and computer science, as well as integrating software with hardware. What makes these robots noteworthy is the coding each carries in its silicon brain that makes them search for water, minerals and elements that could be refined into useful resources such as building materials or rocket fuel.

NASA’s Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) selected the University of New Mexico to manage the Swarmathon challenge in a joint effort with the agency. Through the MUREP program, NASA’s goal is to increase the number of NASA-focused science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, experiences that engage underrepresented groups in active education.

Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett