Teams Rehearse OSIRIS-REx Launch Countdown

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, enclosed in a payload fairing, is positioned atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Aug. 29, 2016Launch and mission controllers are at their consoles this afternoon in a dress rehearsal for the upcoming launch of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and Goddard Space Flight Center, United Launch Alliance and Lockheed Martin all are participating in today’s test.

OSIRIS-REx is sealed inside the payload fairing and already in place atop the rocket at Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The launch team is based at the Atlas Spaceflight Operations Center a few miles south of the launch site.

Photo credit: NASA/ Dimitri Gerondidakis

OSIRIS-REx Passes Flight Readiness Review

Launch and mission officials gathered this morning for the OSIRIS-REx Flight Readiness Review and concluded that there are no issues or concerns that would preclude continuing to target launch next Thursday, Sept. 8. Liftoff aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket is planned for 7:05 p.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 41 on Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The Atlas V, including the payload fairing containing the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, is in place at the pad, where vehicle closeouts have started. The spacecraft on-pad functional test will be completed today. A launch countdown dress rehearsal is set for Friday afternoon.

The Launch Readiness Review planned for Tuesday, Sept. 6 will be the final prelaunch readiness check before teams proceed with the countdown.

GOES-R Spacecraft Arrives in Florida to Begin Prelaunch Preps

A truck with a specialized transporter drives out of the cargo hold of an Air Force C-5 Galaxy transport plane at the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida to deliver the GOES-R spacecraft for launch processing.NOAA’s GOES-R advanced weather satellite arrived in Florida on Aug. 22 aboard an Air Force C-5 Galaxy aircraft, touching down at the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. GOES-R then was transported to the Astrotech payload processing facility in nearby Titusville, where it was carefully removed from its shipping container, rotated, and placed into a test stand to begin prelaunch processing.

GOES-R will be the first satellite in a series of next-generation NOAA Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES), which will also include GOES-S, T, and U. These satellites will provide significant enhancements for weather forecasters at NOAA’s National Weather Service, giving them the ability to observe the Western Hemisphere in near-real time. GOES-R will offer three times more spectral channels, four times better resolution, and provide five times faster scans of the Earth compared with current GOES satellites.

The spacecraft is slated to launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket in November.

Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Nearly Five Years After Launch, Juno Reaches Jupiter

NASA's Juno planetary probe, enclosed in its payload fairing, launches atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.
NASA’s Juno planetary probe, enclosed in its payload fairing, launches atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. Photo credit: NASA/Kenny Allen

The sun rises over Space Launch Complex 41 prior to liftoff of the United Launch Alliance Atlas rocket carrying NASA's Juno spacecraft.NASA’s Juno spacecraft is arriving at its destination with fanfare and fireworks.

As Americans celebrate Independence Day, Juno will slip into orbit around Jupiter. The solar-powered, 4-ton probe launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket on Aug. 5, 2011.

In August 2007, a team led by NASA’s Launch Services Program based at Kennedy Space Center selected an Atlas V 551 rocket for the task of launching Juno. After four more years of mission integration and analysis, Juno was lofted into space with a nearly perfect ascent. At that point the Juno team at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. took over control of the mission, deploying the spacecraft’s huge solar arrays and beginning a thorough checkout of all its systems and instruments to make sure all was well at the start of the long journey.

In the Astrotech payload processing facility near Kennedy Space Center in Florida, twin sections of the Atlas payload fairing are moved closer to the Juno spacecraft during work to enclose the spacecraft for launch.Now five years and some 1.75 billion miles later, Juno will enter into an orbit around Jupiter that gradually will get closer and closer to the planet during its mission lifetime. At about 9 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on the Fourth of July, the spacecraft will fly within 2,900 miles of the cloud tops of Jupiter. It will conduct a 35-minute burn of its main engine, slowing by about 1,200 mph so it can enter the polar orbit of our solar system’s largest planet.

“I’m sure it will be a tense 35 minutes on July Fourth during the main engine firing necessary to slow Juno down enough to achieve orbit around Jupiter,” said John Calvert, Juno’s mission manager for the Launch Services Program (LSP) at Kennedy Space Center. “We are all excited to finally start revealing the mysteries of the origins and evolution of Jupiter.”

Juno’s goal is to understand the origin and evolution of Jupiter, look for a solid planetary core, map magnetic fields, measure water and ammonia in the deep atmosphere, and observe auroras.

For the latest status and information on Juno’s arrival at Jupiter, visit the mission’s website at https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/juno/main.

Photo credits: NASA/Kenny Allen (top and middle) and NASA/Kim Shiflett (bottom)

OSIRIS-REx Goes for a Spin

A spin test being performed on the OSIRIS-REx inside the PHSF.OSIRIS-REx being moved from spin test stand to separate test stand for further processing insidethe PHSF.In the image above, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft rotates on a spin table during a weight and center of gravity test May 24 inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. An overhead crane carefully returned the spacecraft to its work stand May 26 (right) to continue prelaunch processing.

OSIRIS-REx, stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security – Regolith Explorer. The spacecraft will travel to an asteroid, Bennu, retrieve a sample and return it to Earth. Liftoff is targeted for Sept. 8 aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

Photos by NASA/Kim Shiflett (above) and NASA/Frank Michaux (right)

OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Begins Prelaunch Processing Ahead of Asteroid Mission

NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is revealed after its protective cover is removed inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.Tucked into a shipping container, NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is unloaded from an Air Force C-17 cargo aircraft on the Shuttle Landing Facility runway at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft arrived at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Friday evening aboard an Air Force C-17 cargo aircraft.

OSIRIS-REx stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security – Regolith Explorer. This will be the first U.S. mission to sample an asteroid, retrieve at least two ounces of surface material and return it to Earth for study. The asteroid, Bennu, may hold clues to the origin of the solar system and the source of water and organic molecules found on Earth.

Tucked inside a shipping container, the spacecraft traveled from Lockheed Martin’s facility near Denver, Colorado to Kennedy’s Shuttle Landing Facility. It was carefully offloaded from the aircraft and transported to the spaceport’s Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility to begin processing for its upcoming launch, targeted for Sept. 8 aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

Photo credits: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis (top) and NASA/Bill White (right)

Booster, Fairing Arrival Kick off Processing for JPSS Launch

Delta II JPSS-1 booster offload and hoist onto the transport fixture at Bldg. 836 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. Delta II JPSS-1 booster offload and hoist onto the transport fixture at Bldg. 836 at Vandenburg Air Force Base, California.Preparations are under way for the 2017 launch of the Joint Polar Satellite System spacecraft. The United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket booster and protective payload fairing arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in early April.

The booster was uncrated from its shipping container April 4 (above) in Vandenberg’s Building 836 and placed onto a transporter (right) for the drive to Space Launch Complex 2 on April 5. The two halves of the payload fairing arrived April 6 (below).

The Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) is the United States’ next-generation polar-orbiting operational environmental satellite system. JPSS is a collaborative program between NOAA and NASA.

Photo credits: NASA/Randy Beaudoin (above, right) and NASA/Joshua Seybert (below)

Delta II JPSS-1 fairing arrives and is offloaded at Bldg. 836, located at Vandenburg Air Force Base, California.

Successful Liftoff for Jason-3 Aboard Falcon 9 Rocket

Falcon 9 strongback fully retractedJason-3, a U.S.-European oceanography satellite mission with NASA participation that will continue a nearly quarter-century record of tracking global sea level rise, lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California Sunday at 10:42 a.m. PST (1:42 p.m. EST) aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Jason-3 is an international mission led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in partnership with NASA, the French space agency CNES, and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites.

Visit NASA’s Jason-3 website at http://sealevel.jpl.nasa.gov/missions/jason3 and NOAA’s Jason-3 website at http://www.nesdis.noaa.gov/jason-3 for further updates on the status of the Jason-3 mission.

Planned Countdown and Launch Highlights

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is almost fully obscured by fog at Space Launch Complex 4 on Vandenberg Air Force Base in CaliforniaPST/EST
8:42 a.m./11:42 a.m.        Flight termination system checks and collision avoidance coordination
9:42 a.m./12:42 p.m.        T-1 hour weather and launch status update
10:12 a.m./1:12 p.m.        Range tracking system check
10:22 a.m./1:22 p.m.        Jason-3 launch readiness poll
10:25 a.m./1:25 p.m.        NASA Launch Manager poll
10:29 a.m./1:29 p.m.        Terminal Countdown poll
10:32 a.m./1:32 p.m.        Terminal Countdown begins
10:38 a.m./1:38 p.m.        NASA go for launch
10:40 a.m./1:40 p.m.        Range Green
10:42:18 a.m./1:42:18 p.m.    Launch
10:44:48 a.m./1:44:48 p.m.    Falcon 9 Main Engine Cutoff (MECO)
10:44:54 a.m./1:44:54 p.m.    Falcon 9 Stage 1/2 Separate
10:45:03 a.m./1:45:03 p.m.     Falcon 9 second stage ignition
10:45:33 a.m./1:45:33 p.m.     Fairing jettisoned
10:51:18 a.m./1:51:18 p.m.     Falcon 9 second stage engine cutoff 1 (SECO 1)
11:37:24 a.m./2:37:24 p.m.     Falcon 9 second stage restart
11:37:36 a.m./2:37:36 p.m.     Falcon 9 second stage engine cutoff 2 (SECO 2)
11:38:06 a.m./2:38:06 p.m.     Jason-3 spacecraft separation
11:40:24 a.m./2:40:24 p.m.     Jason-3 solar array 1 deploy start
11:40:39 a.m./2:40:39 p.m.     Jason-3 solar array 1 deploy end
11:44:04 a.m./2:44:04 p.m.     Jason-3 solar array 2 deploy start
11:44:18 a.m./2:44:18 p.m.     Jason-3 solar array 2 deploy end

Image above: A coastal fog envelops the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket waiting to launch the Jason-3 satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The fog is not a concern for launch. Photo credit: NASA Television

Falcon 9 Rolled to Launch Pad for Jason-3

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is rolled to Space Launch Complex 4 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California ahead of the Jason-3 launchThe SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is rolled to Space Launch Complex 4 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California ahead of the Jason-3 launchThe SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket rolled from a hangar at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California to Space Launch Complex 4 on Friday, Jan. 15 and was raised into the vertical position on the launch pad at 11:11 a.m. PST today. The launch vehicle will boost the Jason-3 satellite to orbit. It will be the fourth in a series of spacecraft providing scientists with essential information about global and regional changes in the seas. Built by Thales Alenia of France, Jason-3 will measure the topography of the ocean surface for a four-agency international partnership consisting of NOAA, NASA, Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales, France’s space agency, and the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites.

Liftoff is targeted for 10:42:18 a.m. PST / 1:42:18 p.m. EST on Sunday from Space Launch Complex 4 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Join us right here for updates from the countdown beginning at 8 a.m. PST / 11 a.m. EST.
Photo credit: SpaceX