NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida will pay tribute to the crews of Apollo 1, the space shuttles Challenger and Columbia, as well as other agency colleagues, during Kennedy’s NASA Day of Remembrance on Thursday, Jan. 26. The ceremony, which will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 1 tragedy, is scheduled for 10 a.m. EST at the Astronauts Memorial Foundation hall at the Kennedy visitor complex.
The first Apollo crew, Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee, perished when a flash fire broke out in their spacecraft on Jan. 27, 1967.
Speakers are scheduled to include NASA Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot, Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana, Sheryl Chaffee, daughter of Roger Chaffee, as well as Apollo astronauts Mike Collins and Charlie Duke.
A wreath laying will follow the ceremony on site at the Space Mirror Memorial.
The observance is hosted by the Astronauts Memorial Foundation, paying tribute to those who acknowledged exploration of space is an unforgiving environment but believed it worth the risk.
NASA managers have given a GO for the next attempt to launch of the agency’s Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) mission now scheduled for Thursday at 8:26 a.m. EST.
Mission personnel uploaded new flight parameter data to the CYGNSS spacecraft this morning, correcting an issue discovered during routine testing on Tuesday. There is no change in status of the Pegasus XL rocket and the Orbital ATK L-1011 Stargazer carrier aircraft. Both also are ready to fly.
Meteorologists with the U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron are predicting an 80 percent chance of favorable weather for the launch.
The CYGNSS spacecraft will ride into orbit aboard an Orbital ATK air-launched Pegasus XL rocket. Orbital ATK’s modified L-1011 aircraft will deploy the Pegasus XL and its CYGNSS payload from an altitude of approximately 39,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean 110 nautical miles east southeast of Daytona Beach.
During the two-year mission, the eight CYGNSS microsatellites will fly in formation about 316 miles above Earth’s surface, focusing on the tropics and studying wind speeds and intensification of tropical cyclones such as hurricanes.
Live updates from the countdown will begin at 7 a.m. here on the blog and on NASA Television. NASA EDGE will provide prelaunch coverage beginning at 6 a.m.
John H. Glenn Jr. was the quintessential American hero. He died Dec. 8, 2016, at the age of 95.
As a member of the Original Seven Mercury astronauts, he was a frequent visitor to Florida’s Space Coast, becoming the first American to orbit the Earth. After serving more than 24 years in the U.S. Senate, Glenn returned to space a member of the crew of the space shuttle Discovery.
Born in Cambridge, Ohio, Glenn served in the U.S. Marine Corps, flying 59 combat missions in World War II. During the Korean conflict, he few another 90. In the last nine days of fighting in Korea, Glenn downed three MIGs fighters in combat along the Yalu River.
When NASA was formed in 1958, one of its first tasks was to select pilots to serve as the nation’s first astronauts. During the April 9, 1959, news conference that introduced the Mercury astronauts, the seven military pilots discussed their views on the fledgling space program.
Responding to a reporter’s question, Glenn compared Project Mercury to the Wright Brothers’ first powered aircraft flight in North Carolina in 1903.
“My feelings are that this whole project with regard to space is like the Wright Brothers standing at Kitty Hawk about fifty years ago, with Orville and Wilbur pitching a coin to see who was going to shove the other one off the hill,” he said. “I think we stand on the verge of something as big and as expansive as that.”
On Feb. 20. 1962, millions of Americans watched as Glenn was strapped into the couch of the spacecraft he named Friendship 7. As the sun rose over Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Launch Complex 14, flight controllers worked through last-minute problems leading to lift off of the Mercury Atlas-6 mission.
During the four-hour, 55-minute mission, Glenn orbited the Earth three times, splashing down in the Atlantic before sundown. His comments aboard the recovery ship typically understated the historic event.
“I don’t know what you could say about a day in which you have seen four beautiful sunrises and sunsets,” he said.
Three days later, Glenn returned to a hero’s welcome at the Cape. Ceremonies included President John F. Kennedy presenting him NASA’s Distinguished Service Medal.
Glenn resigned from NASA on Jan. 16, 1964. A decade later he was elected to the U.S. Senate from his home state of Ohio. Glenn’s time in the Senate included a bid for the presidency in 1984.
Glenn announced that he would not seek re-election in the 1998 fall campaign. Instead, he was given an opportunity to return to orbit as a payload specialist with the STS-95 crew of the shuttle Discovery.
On Oct. 29, 1998, Glenn launched as part of a seven-person crew including astronauts from the United States, Japan and Spain. At the age of 77, he was the oldest person to date to fly in space.
Glenn’s flight provided NASA with an opportunity to gain valuable data on the effects of weightlessness on a person 36 years apart. It easily was the longest length of time between flights by the same person. Medical data was also gathered on the effects of spaceflight and weightlessness on the elderly.
Over the years, Glenn collected many awards and accolades. In May 1990, he and the other six Mercury astronauts became the charter class of the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. During a ceremony at the White House on May 29, 2012, President Barack Obama awarded Glenn the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Glenn’s last visit to the Space Coast took place in February 2012. He was joined by fellow Mercury astronaut, Scott Carpenter, the second American in orbit. They came to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the nation’s first orbital spaceflights.
Looking back on the early days of human spaceflight, Glenn explained that preparation was the key to success.
“You became the best-trained person you could be and that’s what we did,” he said.
Glenn noted that the challenge of spaceflight continues to depend on today’s designers and engineers to keep making strides along with the thousands of individuals working as a team in America’s space program.
“These things depend on people,” Glenn said. “Nothing’s going to happen unless you have the people to do it.”
An Atlas V rocket is set to lift off Nov. 19 at 5:42 p.m. EST to deliver NOAA’s latest-generation weather satellite, GOES-R, into orbit. NASA is conducting the launch through its Launch Services Program. United Launch Alliance engineers are processing the rocket at Space Launch Complex 41 ahead of launch. After several months of processing at Astrotech in Titusville, Florida, the GOES-R spacecraft has been encapsulated inside a payload fairing for protection during the climb through Earth’s atmosphere on the way to orbit. Carrying the most advanced sensors of their kind, the GOES-R spacecraft will fly more than 22,000 miles above Earth where it will offer weather forecasters an unblinking eye on conditions on the planet below.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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
At 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.
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.
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.