NASA is developing a spacecraft capable of taking astronauts farther than ever before and the agency needs some special individuals to pilot it and conduct the defining work that will be performed by humans far away from their home planet. Orion is the first spacecraft since Apollo that NASA has built with an eye on distant worlds. NASA’s Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft, now in development, will enable humans to reach asteroids beyond lunar orbit, Mars and other potential destinations.
Built with the latest manufacturing technology around systems that are state-of-the-art for safe space travel, the Orion will be able to venture into a three-week flight on its own, and extend its range for a journey to Mars with the use of a habitat module.
The space agency also is guiding an unprecedented transition to commercial spacecraft for crew and cargo transport to the space station. Flights in Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon will facilitate adding a seventh crew member to each station mission, effectively doubling the amount of time astronauts will be able to devote to research in space. The science conducted on the orbiting laboratory will be applied to Earthbound uses and to decipher what needs to be done for space explorers headed into deep space.
If the opportunity to explore realms never touched by humans before entices you, circle Dec. 14 on your calendar, because that’s when our astronaut application cycle begins. Gather your credentials, review your transcripts and papers and count down to the chance to join one of the most selective groups of professionals in the nation. Orion is calling!
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
The Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage Umbilical (ICPSU) for NASA’s Space Launch System was lifted and attached to the A Tower mobile launcher simulator Sept. 28 at the Launch Equipment Test Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The ICPSU will provide super-cooled hydrogen and liquid oxygen to the rocket’s interim cryogenic propulsion stage, or upper stage, at T-0 for Exploration Mission-1.
Kennedy engineers and technicians from the center’s Engineering Directorate and Ground Systems Development and Operations Program prepared the large 70,000-pound steel structure to be lifted by crane for installation on the test tower. The umbilical will be prepared for load and functional tests.
During four months of testing, beginning in 2016, engineers will check the ICPSU’s swing arm function and its primary and secondary retraction systems to ensure they are working properly. Simulated fueling tests using liquid hydrogen and liquid nitrogen also will be performed.
The ICPSU is one of the umbilical arms that will be attached to the mobile launcher for EM-1. The umbilical will be located at the 240-foot level of the mobile launcher and will supply fuel, oxidizer, gaseous helium, hazardous gas leak detection, electrical commodities and environment control systems to the upper stage of the Space Launch System rocket during launch.
Platform J arrived at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center last week and was positioned in an area outside the Vehicle Assembly Building where workers will prepare the platform and a host of others just like it for installation inside the massive processing building. The platforms will replace work stands that were installed in the VAB when it was first built in the 1960s.
The new generation of platforms are designed for the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft. More than simply fitting the mammoth new rocket, the platforms will be outfitted with modern communications, consumables, power and other lines. The platforms will make up 10 levels where engineers and technicians will prep the 32-story-tall rocket and spacecraft stack.
The SLS and Orion are in development to provide NASA with a deep-space capable spacecraft and booster that can carry astronauts on trips beyond low-Earth orbit. The first flight of SLS and Orion is slated for 2018 on a mission that will not launch astronauts but rather check out rocket and spacecraft systems during a full mission profile.
A crane lifts the Interim Cryogenic Propulsive Stage Umbilical (ICPSU) arm for NASA’s Space Launch System at the Launch Equipment Test Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The ICPSU is one of the umbilical arms that will be attached to the mobile launcher. The umbilical will be located at the about the 240-foot-level of the mobile launcher and will supply fuel, oxidizer, pneumatics, hazard gas leak detection, electrical commodities and environmental control systems to the interim cryogenic propulsive stage of the SLS rocket during launch.
The modified Mobile Launcher that will host NASA’s Space Launch System rocket was shown this morning to the news media following the completion of a series of modifications which strengthened the platform and tower to the demands of the booster that will be tasked with sending astronauts on a journey to Mars in the future.
Load test #1 on the Interim Cryogenic Propulsive Stage Umbilical (ICPSU) arm for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) was completed July 23 at Coastal Steel in Cocoa, Florida. The test consisted of applying six vertical loads and eight horizontal loads onto the truss in the retracted position to simulate the effects of a launch on the structure.
A load test tower was designed and fabricated at Coastal Steel for the test. Engineers and technicians from NASA Kennedy Space Center and Coastal applied the loads by hanging weights off the ICPSU structure. Vertical loads were applied by hanging the weights directly, and horizontal loads were applied by a rope that wrapped over an adjacent pipe on the load test tower.
The ICPSU is one of the umbilical arms that will be attached to the mobile launcher. The umbilical will be located at about the 240-foot-level of the mobile launcher and will supply fuel, oxidizer, pneumatics, hazard gas leak detection, electrical commodities and environmental control systems to the interim cryogenic propulsive stage of the SLS rocket during launch.