SpaceX Falcon 9 Static Fire Complete for Jason-3

At Space Launch Complex 4 on Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, the static test fire of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket for the upcoming Jason-3 launch was completed Monday at 5:35 p.m. PST, 8:35 p.m. EST. The first stage engines fired for the planned full duration of 7 seconds.  The initial review of the data appears to show a satisfactory test, but will be followed by a more thorough data review on Tuesday.  With this test complete, the next step in prelaunch preparations is to mate the rocket and the Jason-3 spacecraft, which is encapsulated in the payload fairing. This also is planned to occur as soon as Tuesday. 

Flight Readiness Review Gives “Go” to Proceed Toward Jan. 17 Launch

At Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, the Flight Readiness Review for the Jason-3 mission is complete.  At its conclusion on Friday evening, managers determined that work should proceed toward a launch on Sunday, Jan. 17.  The static fire of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at Space Launch Complex 4 now is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 11.  Meanwhile, the Jason-3 spacecraft was encapsulated into the Falcon 9 payload fairing on Friday.

A final review, the Launch Readiness Review, will be held at Vandenberg on Friday, Jan. 15.

The 30-second launch window on Jan. 17 opens at 10:42:18 a.m. PST.

Jason-3 Flight Readiness Review and Encapsulation Tomorrow; Static Fire Planned for Sunday

The first full week of 2016 has been a busy one for teams preparing NASA’s Jason-3 spacecraft for its upcoming launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The Earth-observing satellite is scheduled to be sealed inside the rocket’s protective payload fairing tomorrow as launch and mission managers convene for the Flight Readiness Review. A static fire to test the Falcon 9’s first stage is planned for Sunday, Jan. 10, followed by mating of the spacecraft and payload fairing to the rocket on Jan. 12.

Steady El Nino rain on California’s central coast has made work challenging at Space Launch Complex 4 throughout the past four days, but launch remains scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 17 at 10:42:18 a.m. PST.

Jason-3 On Pace for Jan. 17 Liftoff


Launch preparations continue at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California for the launch of Jason-3 on January 17, 2016. At Space Launch Complex 4E, the next milestone is mating the first stage booster to the second stage which is currently planned to occur on Dec. 28.  The spacecraft, seen here after arriving at Vandenberg earlier this year, will be encapsulated into the payload fairing on Jan. 9, then mated to the rocket’s second stage on Jan. 12.

Insight Arrives at Vandenberg; First-Stage Booster at Pad

Sections of the fairing for NASA's InSight mission await further prelaunch processing
Sections of the fairing for NASA’s InSight mission await further prelaunch processing in the west high bay of the Astrotech Space Operations processing facility on Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Photo credit: NASA/Joe Davila

The first stage booster of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 rocket for NASA's InSight mission is ready for lifting into the mobile service tower at Space Launch Complex 3E.NASA’s Insight spacecraft is one step closer to beginning its journey to Mars now that it has arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The lander was delivered last night aboard a U.S. Air Force transport aircraft, then was offloaded and moved to the Astrotech payload processing facility. Today it is being removed from its shipping container. Meanwhile, at Space Launch Complex 3, the United Launch Alliance Atlas V first stage booster (pictured, right, photo credit NASA/Mark Mackley) was hoisted from its transport trailer into vertical position within the pad gantry.

Insight, short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, will study processes that formed and shaped Mars. Its findings will improve understanding about the evolution of our inner solar system’s rocky planets, including Earth. The lander will be the first mission to permanently deploy instruments directly onto Martian ground using a robotic arm. The mission is scheduled to launch from Vandenberg’s Space Launch Complex 3E in March 2016 and land on Mars in September 2016.

Engineers Attaching Jason-3 Spacecraft to Falcon 9 Rocket

Artist concept of Jason-3 in orbit with solar arrays deployed

At Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, with the determination of a January 17, 2016, launch date for Jason-3, the spacecraft is being mated to the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket today. Launch time is 10:42:18 a.m. PST. The electrical connections with the launch vehicle will be established tomorrow, Tuesday, Dec. 15.  Work to begin encapsulation into payload fairing will begin January 5.

Event Oct. 14 to Introduce CubeSat Launch Providers


NASA will host a news conference at 1 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, Oct. 14, at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to announce the outcome of the Venture Class Launch Service competition. The news conference will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

The participants are:
Garrett Skrobot, Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) mission lead for theLaunch Services Program at Kennedy
Eric Ianson, associate director of NASA’s Earth Sciences Division in the Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s headquarters in Washington
Mark Wiese, flight projects office chief, NASA Launch Services Program, Kennedy Space Center
Representatives from the selected launch service providers

The event will include a question-and-answer session with media. Media may participate in the briefing by calling the Kennedy news center at 321-867-2468 within 15 minutes prior to the start of the news conference to obtain a passcode for voice access. Social media also may ask questions using #askNASA.

The vehicles expected to meet the VCLS requirement represent an emerging class of commercial launch services for small satellites — often called CubeSats or nanosatellites — and science missions that are currently limited to ride-share arrangements, flying only when space is available on NASA and other launches. This new class of launch services is intended to help open the door for future dedicated opportunities for CubeSat launches and science missions, so that a single rocket would be able to send dozens of the tiny spacecraft into orbit at once and on paths that best suit their scientific goals. The services acquired through such a contract will constitute the smallest class of launch services used by NASA. Read more details here.

Jason-3 Processing Paused

Processing of the Jason-3 spacecraft at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California continued last week up to the point at which the satellite normally would be fueled. Preparations have been suspended following the SpaceX Falcon 9 mishap that occurred at Cape Canaveral during the liftoff of CRS-7, a cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station.

The Jason-3 spacecraft test team for the French-built satellite will return to France on Tuesday, July 7 until a more definitive launch date for the mission can be determined.


Are you in New Orleans for the Fourth of July weekend? NASA has a large exhibit at Essence Fest this year. Stop by the Audubon Institute’s Aquarium July 1-5!