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

Kennedy Space Center Employees Support America Recycles Day

John Ryan of Goodwill Industries loads electronic equipment for recycling
John Ryan of Goodwill Industries loads electronic equipment for recycling. On Nov. 9 and 10, Kennedy Space Center employees turned in no longer needed household items as part of America Recycles Day. The national emphasis focuses on opportunities not to discard items that can be recycled, giving them new life and protecting the environment.
Photo credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky

On Nov. 9 and 10, NASA at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida partnered with Keep America Beautiful and Goodwill Industries participating in America Recycles Day. The national emphasis focuses on opportunities not to discard items that can be recycled, giving them new life.

This year, Kennedy’s Spaceport Integration and Services Directorate encouraged employees to bring in personal electronic waste, either working or not, as well as new and “gently used” household articles. These items were collected by Goodwill Industries for reuse.

Altogether, 182 people dropped off more than 7,500 pounds of items to be recycled.

America Recycles Day is a program of Keep America Beautiful and is nationally recognized as a time dedicated to promoting and celebrating recycling in the U.S. Every year on or around Nov. 15, event organizers work to educate neighbors, friends and colleagues about the value of not discarding no-longer-needed items.

According to the website of Keep America Beautiful, the national recycling rate has increased annually for the past 30 years. The current recycling rate in the U.S. is 34.5 percent.

During the two-day event, scores of Kennedy employees turned in goods to be recycled, dropping them off in the parking lots of the Kennedy Learning Institute and Vehicle Assembly Building. While some of the materials turned in were used household items, much of it was electronic waste.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that electronic products are made from valuable resources and materials, including metals, plastics and glass, all of which require energy to mine or manufacture. Donating or recycling consumer electronics conserves our natural resources and avoids air and water pollution, as well as greenhouse gas emissions that are caused by manufacturing.

Noting the value of recycling electronics, the EPA reports that 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 cell phones recycled, 35,000 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered.

Established in 1953, Keep America Beautiful provides the expertise, programs and resources to help people end littering, increase recycling and beautify America’s communities. Among the organization’s most effective efforts was their 1971 ad campaign discouraging litter. During the 1950s and 1960s, roadside trash was commonplace.

The public service announcement came to be known as the “Crying Indian ad.” Narrated by actor William Conrad, the message featured actor Iron Eyes Cody, portraying a Native American saddened to see the damage to the Earth’s natural beauty by the thoughtless litter.

A short promotional video for Kennedy employees recently was produced encouraging everyone to avoid throwing recyclable waste into an ordinary trash can, but choose a recycling bin.

KickStart Focuses on Creativity of Kennedy’s Workforce

Innovation Expo LogoThroughout its history, NASA innovation has produced tangible benefits. New ideas have been and continue to be a key element in converting NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida into a 21st century multi-user space launch complex. Many employees also are devising ways to do their jobs better and more efficiently.

The agency’s innovations include developing, testing and deploying new capabilities and transportation systems for astronauts to explore an asteroid, Mars and other deep-space destinations. NASA also is growing a commercial spaceflight industry to transport astronauts to the International Space Station from American soil.

On Oct. 15, Kennedy employees pitched 21 innovative ideas for improving the center at the annual Kennedy KickStart competition. The event was part of a center wide three-day Innovation Expo designed to increase exposure for novel ideas and encourage their implementation.

NASA astronaut Cady Coleman began the event with a keynote addressing her current role in encouraging NASA employees to keep developing new ideas.

“I’m now working at NASA Headquarters in the Office of the Chief Technologist,” she said. “One of our challenges is helping people think outside the box. What I get to see is fascinating.”
Coleman noted that she feels that the Kennedy Space Center is a special place.

“This is where I feel anything can happen,” she said. “There is an atmosphere here that helps you do things that are extraordinary.”

Coleman is a veteran of two space shuttle missions. During 2010 and 2011, she logged 159 days in orbit aboard the International Space Station and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

“I would have gladly spent another six months on the space station,” she said. “If I could take my family with me, I don’t see any reason to come home. It’s amazing up there — flying around the lab, working upside down when you need to — it’s a magical place.”

Employees’ concepts were submitted through the Kennedy KickStart website and pre-screened earlier in October by the Research and Technology Board. Ideas were offered by employee “innovators” in 90-second presentations, explaining their concepts to an eight-member Kick-Start selection panel. The selection committee included Coleman and Kennedy senior leaders representing diverse organizations at Kennedy.

As was the case last year, audience members had an opportunity to cast their votes using iClickers. An iClicker is an interactive response system allowing program leaders to poll the audience and view the results immediately.

A total of 12 proposals were selected to receive up to $5,000 to fund equipment needed to implement each recommended project. Projects selected ran the gamut from new ways of predicting lightning to proposals for catching foreign object debris.

The projects selected were;

  •  Cryogenic Liquid Air Quantity Sensor
    Innovator: Rolando Valdez, NASA KSC Aero Medicine and Occupational Branch
  •  Regolith Vibro-compaction with Surface Sintering
    Innovators: Mike Dupuis, NASA KSC Testing and Design Branch and Evan Bell, along with  NASA KSC Environmental and Life Support Systems Branch
  • FOD “CATCH” (Collect-and-Tether Containment Holders) Devices and Training
    Innovators: Mark Smith, Katrine Stelges and Martin Wilson of Jacobs Technology, along with Damon Stambolian, NASA KSC Technical Processes and Tools Branch
  • LPAWS — Lightning Prediction and Warning System
    Innovators: Nathan Miles, Red Canyon Software, Inc., and Hector Pagan, NASA KSC Information Technology and Communications Services Project Management Office
  • Ice House: 3-D Construction using H2O Ice
    Innovator: Rob Mueller, NASA Spaceport Systems Branch
  • Structural Health Monitoring and the Beginning of the “Digital Twin”
    Innovator: Matthew Breault, URS Federal Services Inc.
  • Cryo-Fluid Capacitor
    Innovator: Adam Swanger, NASA KSC Cryogenic Propulsion Systems Branch
  • Expand Balance Initiative with Mini Balance Zones
    Innovator: Mary Kirkland, InoMedic Health Applications Inc., and Darcy Miller, NASA KSC Safety and Mission Assurance
  • Robotic Mining Competition Regolith Bin Rainproof Lid and Dryer System
    Innovators: Gabor Tamasy, NASA KSC Structures and Launch Accessories Branch, and Greg Galloway, NASA KSC Flight Technology Branch
  •  Virtual Tablet
    Innovator: Bill Little, NASA KSC Computational Sciences Branch
  • Planetary Lander Egg-Drop Competition
    Innovators: Samantha Thorstensen, NASA KSC Education, along with Alex Greutman, Ryan Elliot and Mike Hull, Delaware North Companies Parks and Resorts
  • UV Cured 3-D Printing using Regolith
    Innovators: Tom Lippitt and Rob Mueller, NASA KSC Spaceport Systems Branch

The KickStart competition was part of the spaceport’s annual Innovation Expo taking place Oct. 15-18, 2015. The annual event is designed to encourage NASA and contractor employees to continue to present proposals for advanced technologies.

This year’s Innovation Expo theme, “From Earth to Mars,” included exhibits and presentations for both the public and center employees by astronauts, a planetary physicist and innovation experts. Subjects included innovations in technology, aeronautics, the International Space Station, as well as plans to explore Mars, the solar system and beyond.

NASA Experts Engage, Inspire America’s Interest in STEM Education

Over the Labor Day weekend, NASA’s Education Project and Youth Engagement Office at the Kennedy Space Center is reaching out to thousands of guests at the annual Tom Joyner Family Reunion staged at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Kissimmee, Florida. Exhibits, demonstrations and educational activities are designed to inspire young students to consider careers in STEM – science, technology, engineering and math.

Taking place Sept. 3-7, the Allstate Tom Joyner Family Reunion is an annual event, now in its 12th year. It is designed to present uplifting programs, entertainment and educational information about growing, diverse communities.

As host of The Tom Joyner Morning Show, the nationally syndicated radio personality also is the founder of REACH Media Inc. and the Tom Joyner Foundation.

For the eighth year, agency representatives are on hand to explain exhibits focusing on NASA’s current efforts with the International Space Station, Commercial Crew Program, Ground Systems Development and Operations, as well as the Launch Services Programs. At the same time, participants are being given an opportunity to talk to NASA experts and ask questions about space, education and careers.

During the five-day reunion, visitors also are being given an opportunity to take part in hands-on science projects such as building rockets and launching them, operating small robots, answering trivia questions about NASA activities, and talking with former NASA astronaut Winston Scott.