Jason-3 On Pace for Jan. 17 Liftoff

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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

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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.

#NASAinNOLA

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!

NASAinNOLA

Jason-3 to be Powered On for the First Time Today

The Jason-3 spacecraft was removed from its shipping container over the weekend at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. It has been placed on a movable rotation and test fixture inside the payload processing facility at Space Launch Complex-4 East, where it will be powered on for the first time today as a prelude to upcoming testing.

Jason-3 Satellite Arrives at California Launch Site

18746717838_ff647c5ebf_oThe Jason-3 satellite arrived today at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base after a journey from France in preparation for launch Aug. 8, 2015, aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Jason-3 will continue a 23-year effort to monitor Earth’s global ocean, tracking sea level rise, ocean heat content and sea-surface height. Additionally, Jason-3 data will help the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration accurately predict when tropical cyclones will intensify.

 

 

NASA Seeks CubeSat Launchers

CubeSat artist conceptNASA’s Launch Services Program is looking for a couple of launch vehicles suited to the needs of CubeSats, small spacecraft that fit inside a 4-inch cube. After five years of launching cubes as secondary payloads on larger missions, the industry has matured to the point that designers and scientists are able to perform significant science in Earth and space studies. Along the way, a backlog of about 50 CubeSat missions has built up, so the agency wants to put a new small rocket to use that is capable of sending an assortment of the small satellites into orbit at one time. Read more about the draft proposal at http://go.nasa.gov/1JTwRPz