Kennedy Leaders Report on Impact of Hurricane Matthew

Hurricane Matthew Damage Survey
At NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, members of the Damage Assessment Recovery Team inspect the roof of the utility annex to the Vehicle Assembly Building. Much of the roof came off the facility’s electrical room which provides air conditioning to the VAB.  A center-wide survey was performed to identify structures and facilities that may have sustained damage from Hurricane Matthew as the storm passed to the east of Kennedy on Oct. 6 and 7, 2016.
Photo credit: NASA/Cory Huston

Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana and Disaster Assessment Recovery Team (DART) Chief Bob Holl briefed members of the news media about the center’s efforts to recover from Hurricane Matthew.

Just prior to impacting Florida’s Space Coast, Matthew was downgraded from a category 4 to a category 3 storm with winds at 115 miles per hour. The eye of the hurricane passed 20 to 25 miles off Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, with Kennedy’s Launch Pad 39B near the edge of the eye experiencing 86 mile-per-hour winds. Pad 39-B is where NASA’s Space Launch System rocket will boost the Orion spacecraft to destinations such as an asteroid and Mars.

“I’m pleased to say that as of today, 100 percent of our civil service and contractors have reported in with no serious injuries or significant damage to personal property,” Cabana said. “Things can be fixed or replaced, but people are special and we have a very special family here.”

As Matthew approached, NASA closed the center at 1 p.m. EDT on Oct. 5 ahead of the storm’s onset and only a small team of 139 specialists, known as the Ride-out Team, were on the center as the storm approached and passed.

“I can’t say enough about both the Ride-out and DART teams,” Cabana said. “Wayne Kee leading my Ride out Team, kept an eye on things and Bob Hull, who led the DART team, did a truly outstanding job getting things ready the past two days to reopen the center.”

The center director also described video shot during an aerial assessment on Oct. 8.

Most of the impact was to the northern part of the center,” Cabana said. “In the Launch Complex 39 area, around the VAB (Vehicle Assembly Building).”

The survey found several buildings with roof panels that had been blown off.

“That resulted in water intrusion in those facilities,” Cabana said.

He also noted that some beach erosion took place near both Launch Pads 39 A and B.

“After (Hurricane) Sandy came through, it didn’t hit Florida, but it really did impact our beach here,” Cabana said. “But all the effort we put into rebuilding that dune worked perfect. The grass held it in place and the dune looks great.”

Crucial spacecraft processing buildings also were reported to be in good shape.

“The space Station Processing Facility, the Operations and Checkout Building and high bay where Orion was, were all fine inside — all looking good.”

Holl also expressed appreciation for the professionalism of both the Ride-out and DART teams.

“I’m really happy with the team I work with,” he said. “The DART Team is only called on when there is an emergency. We have to come onto the center not knowing the situation. Wayne Kee and the Ride-out Team confirmed it is safe for us to come out and later gave us their initial damage assessment.”

Holl explained the work of the DART team is simple, but crucial.

“The first thing you want to do is assess all the damage,” he said. “Then we go safe that damage, then we figure how we can get everybody back to work.”

Cabana pointed out that assistance came from many areas.

“I really appreciate everyone’s support throughout this whole ordeal,” he said. “I can’t say enough good things about the Kennedy NASA family and team in how they prepared for the hurricane, how we responded to it and the support we’ve received from headquarters and other NASA centers across the country.”

Getting Kennedy back to work is Cabana’s goal.

“Now we can get back to the business of being America’s premier spaceport,” he said, “heading out to our Journey to Mars.”

SAGE III to Look Back at Earth’s Atmospheric ‘Sunscreen’

SAGE III checked out at NASA's Kennedy Space Center
In the Space Station Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, operations are underway to close out processing of NASA’s Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment III, or SAGE, III instrument. On May 16, 2016, an engineer is working in a super-clean ‘tent’ built in the SSPF high bay to protect SAGE III’s special optics. The class ’10K,’ or 10,000, clean room provides an environment in which there is less than 10,000 particles of less than a half micron inside. That’s about 150 times cleaner than the air in the average living room.
Photo credit: NASA/Charles Babir

On the upcoming SpaceX CRS-10 resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS), a Dragon spacecraft will deliver the Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment (SAGE) III instrument to further study ozone in the atmosphere.

Once mounted on the space station, SAGE III will measure the Earth’s sunscreen, or ozone, along with other gases and aerosols, or tiny particles in the atmosphere. SAGE will make its measurements by locking onto the sun or moon and scanning the limb, or thin profile of the atmosphere from that unique vantage point.

During the late 1970s, scientists began tracking a steady decline of ozone in the Earth’s stratosphere. It was determined this was caused by extensive use of human-produced chemicals. Following years of global efforts to significantly reduce the number of ozone-depleting substances, experts now are optimistic the ozone layer will recover.

Launch atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket currently is scheduled for late fall this year.

Since the instrument arrived at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, engineers at the Florida spaceport have assisted SAGE team members from the Langley Research Center in Virginia in preparing it for launch.

According to Rob Kuczajda, a Kennedy project manager in the ISS Utilization and Life Sciences Office, this SAGE III effort has been underway for several years.

“Our role actually began back in September 2011,” he said. “We sent a small delegation of engineers to Langley to meet with the SAGE team and learn about the payload. Our message was that Kennedy had years of expertise processing ISS payloads and that we were available to assist with SAGE III. Over the next four years, Kennedy engineers helped assemble and test parts of the payload.”

SAGE III now is being stored in the high bay of Kennedy’s Space Station Processing Facility (SSPF), a world-class processing laboratory. Every American-launched element for construction of the ISS, all cargo and each experiment is prepared and checked out in the SSPF, a crucial part of a premier multi-user spaceport.

To ensure SAGE III will be ready to go to work once it arrives at the ISS, extensive checkouts have been taking place in the special processing area of the SSPF.

“The processing has included functional testing on the payload, to verify everything is operating correctly after shipment of the payload from Langley to Florida,” Kuczajda said.

Jennifer Wahlberg, also a Kennedy utilization project manager, has played a key role in helping coordinate the Langley team’s testing.

“We have been assisting the SAGE III team from Langley with our ISS simulators,” she said. “They have performed command and data handling checkouts to make sure everything is going to transmit the data correctly, that commands go up and data can come down.”

Kuczajda pointed out that after the SAGE III team returns in September and hardware inspections are complete, the instrument will go back into the shipping container.

“The Kennedy Logistics team will deliver the instrument to the SpaceX payload processing facility at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station where it will be prepared for flight aboard the Dragon spacecraft,” he said.

Wahlberg had high praise for the team from Langley.

“It’s been great to work with the SAGE III team for the past several years,” she said. “It’s really amazing to see how many people can work together to bring successful science to bear.”

“And the feeling is mutual,” said Mike Cisewski, SAGE III/ISS project manager at NASA’s Langley Research Center. “Support from the KSC team has been exemplary through our payload development and processing at KSC. From logistics, to assembly of portions of our Nadir Viewing Platform and vibration testing fixture, for outstanding support at the Space Station Processing Facility, they have been great partners.”

Randy Wade, support manager of off-line labs in Kennedy’s Exploration Research and Technology Programs Directorate, is hoping the instrument will send back data that the ozone layer is improving.

“I’ve seen a lot of changes in fluorocarbon use,” he said. “We’ve done a lot of things here at the Kennedy Space Center to reduce the use of fluorocarbons, and automobile cooling systems have changed. So they are going to try to verify if those efforts made on Earth have helped improve the ozone layer.”

Wahlberg sees long-term benefits in the SAGE III research.

“I wish all the payload teams and the science teams great success,” she said. “I know they are doing important work for our future generations.”

The Tiles that Bond

technicians prepare to bond thermal protection system tiles on the Orion crew module for the agency’s first uncrewed flight test with the Space Launch System (SLS) on NASA’s Journey to Mars.In the photo above, technicians prepare to bond thermal protection system tiles on the Orion crew module for the agency’s first uncrewed flight test with the Space Launch System (SLS) on NASA’s Journey to Mars. The work is taking place inside the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

While similar to those used on the space shuttle, Orion only requires about 1,300 tiles compared to more than 24,000 on the shuttle. The tiles, along with the spacecraft’s heatshield, will protect Orion from the 5,000 degree Fahrenheit heat of re-entry.
Photo credit: NASA/Cory Huston

OSIRIS-REx Processed for Asteroid Sample Return Mission

KSC-20160604-PH_DNG0001_0057AAt NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, preparations are underway to launch a mission to an asteroid that may hold clues to the origin of the solar system and the source of water and organic molecules found on Earth.

The Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security–Regolith Explorer, or OSIRIS-REx, spacecraft arrived at the spaceport from Buckley Air Force Base near Denver aboard an Air Force C-17, touching down on May 20 at the Shuttle Landing Facility. Since that time, the spacecraft was moved to the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility where technicians and engineers removed it from its shipping container the next day and connected it to a rotation fixture for spin balance testing.

A test of the OSIRIS-REx solar array deployment mechanism recently was conducted along with inspection, cleaning and functional testing of the arrays. An interface test with the Deep Space Network currently is underway.

Targeted for liftoff at 7:05 p.m. EDT, Sept. 8, 2016, aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, OSIRIS-REx will be the first U.S. mission to sample an asteroid, retrieve surface material and return it to Earth for study.

After OSIRIS-REx arrives within three miles of the asteroid, Bennu, the spacecraft will begin six months of comprehensive study and mapping of the surface.

The science team then will select a location where the spacecraft’s arm will take a sample. The spacecraft gradually will move closer to the site, and the arm will extend to collect at least a 2.1-ounce sample for return to Earth in 2023.

Photo credit: NASA/ Dimitri Gerondidakis

News Media View Cygnus Spacecraft for Orbital ATK CRS-6 Mission

Dan Tani Interview
Inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, former NASA astronaut Dan Tani, who now is senior director of Missions and Cargo Operations for Orbital ATK in Dulles, Virginia, participates in a press interview. In the background is the Cygnus spacecraft scheduled to deliver hardware and supplies to the International Space Station on the upcoming Orbital ATK Commercial Resupply Services-6 mission.
Photo credit: NASA/Bill White

While NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and his Russian colleague, cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko, have returned to Earth after a year on the International Space Station, work goes on aboard the orbiting outpost. To keep supplies coming to the current ISS crew and those who soon will join them, an Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft is being prepared at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Members of the news media recently were given an opportunity to visit the spaceport’s Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility, or PHSF, where Cygnus is being prepared.

The Orbital ATK Commercial Resupply Services-6 mission is scheduled for launch at 11:05 p.m. EDT on March 22 atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. Liftoff will take place at Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Former astronaut Dan Tani, now senior director of Missions and Cargo Operations for Orbital ATK in Dulles, Virginia, spoke about what he recalls about a resupply spacecraft arriving at the ISS. He was a member of the station’s Expedition 16 crew from October 2007 to February 2008.

“It’s like Christmas,” he said. “It’s exciting to watch another vehicle approach and dock. It’s like opening a big box of goodies and finding some stuff that you’ve been wanting and finding some surprises you didn’t know about.”

Orbital ATK uses the Cygnus to ferry provisions to the ISS under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract.

Cygnus consists of a pressurized cargo module for crew supplies, scientific experiments and equipment, together with an associated service module providing solar power and propulsion, to deliver approximately 7,700 pounds of cargo to the station.

This mission will be the second flight of the enhanced variant of Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft. The upgraded cargo freighter features a greater payload capacity, new solar arrays and new fuel tanks. Cygnus’ pressurized cargo module has been extended and increases the spacecraft’s interior volume capacity by 25 percent, enabling more cargo to be delivered with each mission.

According to Tani, Orbital ATK’s CRS-4 mission went so well, no significant changes were made for CRS-6.

“We had a great mission on CRS-4, he said “There were a few workarounds we needed to do, but it was so minor we didn’t make any changes to this (CRS-6) vehicle.”

Tani explained that the astronauts aboard the orbiting outpost play a crucial role in commanding the spacecraft to get it into the right position so they can capture, or grapple, it with the station’s robotic arm.

“The crew on board the station get involved about two hours before they actually grapple Cygnus,” he said. “Their job is to watch the vehicle as it’s coming in and command the Cygnus to go into free-drift. This means it cannot control itself. That way, when they do grapple it, the spacecraft won’t be fighting the force of the arm.”

Plans call for the Cygnus spacecraft to remain attached to the station for about a month. Before undocking, the spacecraft will be loaded with several thousand pounds of trash prior to its destructive re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere.

Kennedy Space Center is ‘Go’ for the Future

Center Director's Update
In the Space Shuttle Atlantis facility at the Kennedy Space Center’s visitor complex, center director Bob Cabana presents an update on activities at the Florida spaceport.
Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

On March 1, Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana presented an update on current and future activities at the Florida spaceport. His report was part of the annual Center Director’s Update to community leaders, which took place in the Space Shuttle Atlantis facility at Kennedy’s visitor complex. The event was attended by local government representatives, along with individuals from business and industry.

Cabana explained that the space center now is a 21st century, multi-user spaceport with a great deal of work going on in support of current and future space program initiatives.

“We are really starting to pick up speed,” he said. “We’ve turned the corner and we are moving off to an absolutely outstanding future.”

That theme was backed up with a video presentation on current work at Kennedy titled, “KSC is Go!”

Speaking under the shuttle Atlantis, Cabana noted that the Florida spaceport’s main focus has evolved from a center focused primarily on flying a vehicle to utilize space close to Earth and exploring beyond Earth, to establishing a permanent presence in space.

“When we went to the moon, we stayed for a couple of days and took some rocks home,” said Cabana, a former space shuttle astronaut. “We explored. But we want to be pioneers. Explorers leave a nice, safe environment, they go off to an extreme environment for a short period of time, gather information and return to that safe environment.”

With crews living and working aboard the International Space Station since 2000, Cabana pointed out that a presence in space has already been established.

“Exploration is challenging, it’s hard,” he said. “What we are doing in space with humans really is a challenge. But we want to go beyond low-Earth orbit. We want to go to Mars.”

Like a permanent presence in orbit, Cabana sees humans building ongoing outposts beyond Earth.

“We don’t just want to go explore,” he said, “we want to pioneer, we want to establish a presence in the solar system.”

Cabana referenced the many directorates at Kennedy that are supporting ongoing and future efforts. He then invited guests to speak with experts working displays explaining work at the space center.

After the center director’s remarks, guests visited exhibits which featured the Center Planning and Development directorate, the Commercial Crew Program, Ground Systems Development and Operations Program, Exploration Research and Technology Directorate, the Launch Services Program, the International Space Station Program, and the center’s hands-on development environment for innovation, the Swamp Works lab.

Wreath Honors Apollo Astronaut Edgar Mitchell

Edgar Mitchell Honored
In the Apollo Saturn V Center at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, a ceremony took place to honor the memory of NASA astronaut Edgar Mitchell, who died Feb. 4, 2016. A memorial wreath was placed at the Apollo 14 command module by, Mitchell’s son, Paul Mitchell, and daughter, Kimberly Mitchell. One of 12 humans to walk on the moon, Mitchell was Apollo 14’s lunar module pilot who landed in the moon’s Fra Mauro highlands on Feb. 5, 1971 with mission commander Alan Shepard while command module pilot Stuart Roosa remained in lunar orbit.
Photo credit: NASA/Bill White

In memory of NASA astronaut Edgar Mitchell, a memorial wreath was placed in the Apollo Saturn V Center at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The brief ceremony took place on the morning of Feb. 12, 2016. The wreath was placed in the Treasures of Apollo exhibit where the Apollo 14 command module, flown by Mitchell, Alan Shepard and Stuart Roosa, is on display.

One of 12 humans to walk on the moon, Mitchell died Feb. 4, 2016, in West Palm Beach, Florida, at the age of 85. It was the eve of the 45th anniversary of his lunar landing.
As Apollo 14’s lunar module pilot, Mitchell and mission commander Shepard touched down in the moon’s Fra Mauro highlands aboard the lunar module Antares on Feb. 5, 1971.

Mitchell was born Sept. 17, 1930, in Hereford, Texas, but considered Artesia, New Mexico, his hometown. After being commissioned an officer in the U.S. Navy, Mitchell went on to accumulate 5,000 hours flight time, including 2,000 hours in jet aircraft. NASA selected Mitchell as an astronaut in 1966.
Mitchell was drawn to spaceflight by President John F. Kennedy’s call to send astronauts to the moon.

“That’s what I wanted, because it was the bear going over the mountain to see what he could see and what you could learn,” Mitchell said after Kennedy announced the moon program. “I’ve been devoted to that, to exploration, education and discovery since my earliest years, and that’s what kept me going,”

As Apollo 14 command module pilot Stuart Roosa orbited the moon, Mitchell and Shepard collected 94 pounds of lunar rock and soil samples that later were distributed for analysis across 187 scientific teams in the United States and 14 other countries.
Mitchell retired from NASA and the U.S. Navy in 1972.
In an interview for NASA’s oral history program in 1997, Mitchell commented on what spaceflight meant to him.

“To me, that was the culmination of my being,” he said, “and what can I learn from this? What is it we are learning? That’s important, because I think what we’re trying to do is discover ourselves and our place in the cosmos and we don’t know. We’re still looking for that.”

Mitchell lived in Palm Beach County, Florida, since 1975. He is survived by four daughters, Karlyn Mitchell, Elizabeth Kendall, Kimberly Mitchell and Mary Beth Johnson, a son, Paul Mitchell, and nine grandchildren. His son Adam Mitchell died in 2010.

IDEAS Technology Potential to Improve Mission Safety, Efficiency

David Miranda, a project lead in NASA's Operations Integration Branch of Ground Systems Development and Operations, explains the Integrated Display and Environmental Awareness System
David Miranda, a project lead in NASA’s Operations Integration Branch of Ground Systems Development and Operations, explains the Integrated Display and Environmental Awareness System, or IDEAS, for members of the news media during a demonstration and the offices of digital creative agency Purple, Rock, Scissors in Orlando, Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Charles Babir

NASA continues to invest in the future by developing transformative capabilities and cutting-edge technologies. On Dec. 9, the agency unveiled an innovative system that could allow an engineer or technician working on a space system to immediately access all the information needed to complete a task. The “IDEAS” project being developed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center was demonstrated at the offices of Purple Rock Scissors, a digital creative agency in Orlando, Florida.

Called IDEAS, for the Integrated Display and Environmental Awareness System, it is a wearable, optical computer that allows users to view and modify information on an interactive display.

According to David Miranda of the Operations Integration Branch of Ground Systems Development and Operations, wearable technologies now are showing promise across many industries, from manufacturing to medicine. NASA now is investing in this new technology to apply it to the agency’s missions.

“The technology being developed here at Kennedy is designed to help technicians do their jobs more efficiently and safely,” Miranda said. “The glasses become a wearable computer system much like a heads-up display. It can provide various means of communication and access to documentation needed to complete a task.”

While the user may simply look like a person wearing glasses, those operating the system will see a screen with instructions for a task – no printed instructions or laptops necessary.

“The glasses include a camera to take photographs or video that could be provided to a console operator in the event something unexpected comes up,” Miranda said. “This would allow real-time troubleshooting of a problem.”

The photo-video capability also adds an extra safety margin.

“An infrared camera will allow detection of hot and cold,” said Miranda. “That would aid in spotting a cryogenic leak or a fire. Hydrogen fires are invisible, but infrared would detect that immediately.”

Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) attended at the recent demonstration. STMD oversees the agency’s Game Changing Development (GCD) Program. The IDEAS project began in January of 2015 and is managed by a NASA Early Career Team at Kennedy as part of. GCD.

As part of GCD, projects develop technologies through component and subsystem testing on Earth to prepare them for future use in space. New ideas and approaches are investigated that could solve significant technological problems and revolutionize future space endeavors. One of the most promising applications for NASA may be deep-space missions.

“Astronauts traveling far from Earth, such as a mission to Mars, will need to work with autonomy,” said Miranda. “IDEAS could help them operate a spacecraft far for home and have the resources quickly available to respond to the unexpected.”

This Kennedy team is one of four that were selected from across the agency as part of STMD’s Early Career Initiative pilot program. The effort encourages creativity and innovation among NASA technologists who earned a bachelor’s degree within in the past 10 years by engaging them in hands-on technology development opportunities needed for future missions.

The NASA IDEAS team has partnered with Abacus Technology at Kennedy, the Florida Institute of Technology’s Human Centered Design Institute in Melbourne, Florida, and Purple Rock Scissors.

Miranda explained that Abacus is providing software development for the program. Florida Tech is integrating human factors that is ensuring the hardware meets the needs of the people using the system. Purple Rock Scissors is integrating the hardware with the software and providing feedback from those testing the system.

“The IDEAS will have a wide range of applications beyond NASA’s use in the space program,” Miranda said. “Imagine first responders reporting back to a hospital from the scene of an accident, military personnel reporting in from a battlefield or those working in a hazardous environment. All could benefit from such a system.”

Miranda points out that IDEAS is simply the next step in the evolution of computers.

“Originally, a computer system would fill a building,” he said. “It was a dramatic breakthrough when desktops were developed allowing home use. Then came portable laptops. Miniaturization further reduced the size of computers to a pocket-size smart phone. Wearable computing systems is simply the next step.”

Kennedy Leaders Celebrate 15 Years of Ongoing Space Station Work

International Space Station 15th Anniversary Celebration
Inside the Space Station Processing Facility at NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida, agency leaders and guests celebrate the 15th anniversary of ongoing work aboard the station. On the podium, Chris Hummel of NASA Communications, left, moderates a discussion between center director Bob Cabana, center, and Josephine Burnett, director of Kennedy’s Exploration Research and Technology Programs. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

As NASA celebrates 15 consecutive years with humans aboard the International Space Station (ISS), Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana joined Josephine Burnett, director of Kennedy’s Exploration Research and Technology Programs, in a discussion of the milestone.

They spoke on Nov. 3 in the high bay of the spaceport’s Space Station Processing Facility. It was in that location that many of the key ISS elements were prepared for launch aboard the space shuttle.

Cabana commanded the STS-88 flight of the shuttle Endeavour that lifted off from Kennedy on Dec. 4, 1998. The crew carried the first American-launched element, Node 1, called “Unity.” The highlight of their 12-day shuttle flight was connecting Unity to the Zarya module launched by Russia just a few weeks earlier.

Permanent occupancy of the space station began Nov. 2, 2000, when the first expedition crew docked with the space station. American astronaut Bill Shepherd, along with Russian cosmonauts Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev, moved in and began activation of the space station, and scientific research has continued nonstop.

Cabana has been Kennedy’s director since 2008. During that time, many of the station elements processed at the Florida spaceport were launched aboard the space shuttle.

Burnett’s 28-year career at Kennedy included several roles in overseeing preparation and processing of space station hardware. In 1996, she was assigned to the Space Station Hardware Integration Office, supporting the test and checkout of the Canadian Space Station Remote Manipulator System in Brampton, Ontario, and the Canadian portion of the Multi Element Integrated Test.

In 2000, Burnett joined the ISS/Payload Processing Project as chief of the Future Missions and International Partner Division. She was named the director of International Space Station and Spacecraft Processing at Kennedy in 2010. In this role, Burnett was responsible for all ground processing of space station elements from around the world being prepared to fly aboard the space shuttle.

Watch as Cabana and Burnett recall their experiences in supporting construction of the International Space Station and the strategic value of the orbiting laboratory.

Ponce De Leon Inlet Tracking Site to Support Space Launch System

PDL-11_05_2015-Dish-Install-(17)Engineers and technicians from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and contractor ViaSat Inc. are completing restoration of a launch communications site at the Ponce De Leon Inlet Tracking Annex. The facility is located in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, 35 miles north of the spaceport. The annex will provide a crucial tracking capability following liftoff of the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. Carlsbad, California, based ViaSat recently installed the S-band dish antenna site that will provide tracking during the second and third minutes after liftoff. One minute into flight, the line-of-site from Kennedy tracking antennas are obscured because of the highly reflective plume from the SLS solid rocket boosters. The S-band portion of the microwave spectrum combines command, voice and television signals though a single antenna. The Ponce De Leon Inlet Tracking Annex is being reestablished following decommissioning at the end of the Space Shuttle Program.
Photo credit: NASA