CYGNSS Wednesday Launch Attempt Delayed

The CYGNSS launch planned for Wednesday, Dec. 14 is being delayed due to an issue with flight parameter data used by spacecraft software. The issue was discovered during routine testing Tuesday. The new flight parameter data have undergone verification testing on the engineering model, and will be uploaded to the spacecraft on Wednesday. The uploading of new flight data is a very routine procedure, and is expected correct the issue. The next launch attempt will be determined pending the results of ongoing tests.

Engineers Prep to Encapsulate GOES-R For Launch

Both halves of the fairing for the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES-R) are being inspected and cleaned by United Launch Alliance (ULA) team members inside the Astrotech payload processing facility in Titusville, Florida near NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. GOES-R will be the first satellite in a series of next-generation NOAA GOES Satellites. The spacecraft is to launch aboard a ULA Atlas V rocket in November.The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES-R) is undergoing final launch preparations prior to fueling inside the Astrotech payload processing facility in Titusville, Florida near NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. GOES-R will be the first satellite in a series of next-generation NOAA GOES Satellites. The spacecraft is to launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket in November.Processing engineers are set to encapsulate the GOES-R weather satellite into its payload fairing at the Astrotech payload processing facility near NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The work is being performed as teams from NASA, United Launch Alliance and NOAA progress toward a liftoff on Nov. 16 from Space Launch Complex 41 aboard an Atlas V rocket. Launch time is 4:42 p.m. EDT.

The spacecraft, folded into launch position, will be enclosed inside the two halves of the fairing before being taken to the launch pad and positioned atop the Atlas V. The fairing will protect the spacecraft during the climb through the lower atmosphere, then the two pieces will be jettisoned as the rocket pushes GOES-R toward its final orbit more than 22,000 miles above Earth. Once in orbit and operational, GOES-R will use its advanced instruments to help weather forecasters on Earth predict storms and atmospheric conditions and to track environmental changes. Photos credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis

Kennedy Team Briefed on Juno Mission Progress

NASA's Juno spacecraft captured this view as it closed in on Jupiter's north pole, about two hours before closest approach on Aug. 27, 2016. Since its arrival in orbit around Jupiter nearly three months ago, the Juno spacecraft already is impressing scientists with its observations of the gas giant. Employees at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida were briefed Sept. 20 on the status and the scientific promise of a mission many audience members helped launch a little more than five years ago.

NASA's Juno planetary probe, enclosed in its payload fairing, launches atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.“Of course, what we’re really after is to learn about Jupiter — which is helping us to learn about ourselves,” said Scott Bolton, principal investigator for Juno at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas.

Kennedy’s Launch Services Program led the successful launch of Juno aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. After some deep-space maneuvers in 2012 and an Earth flyby that provided a gravity assist in October 2013, Juno arrived at the largest planet in our solar system on July 4, 2016.

Jupiter was the first planet to form after the sun, Bolton explained. A better understanding of Jupiter’s makeup could help provide the “recipe” for a solar system.

“The stuff that Jupiter has more of than the sun — that’s what we are made of,” he explained.

Juno took 53 days to go around on the first orbit and it passed by Jupiter on Aug. 27 — this time for the first time with the science instruments on. The photo above was taken as Juno closed in on Jupiter’s north pole. Read more: Jupiter’s North Pole Unlike Anything Encountered in Solar System

After another 53 days, around Oct. 19, the spacecraft will perform its final burn to place Juno into a 14-day “science orbit” from which it will begin regularly mapping the gas giant.

Juno has come a long way since its departure from Earth.

“On Aug. 5, 2011, we launched from here. I’m so indebted to all of you, and everybody here at Kennedy who worked with you, because I realized when I got that close to it and was responsible for Juno just how difficult the launch was,” Bolton said.

“It is an immense amount of work and engineering challenge. What you do here is incredible.”

Juno will continue to orbit and study Jupiter until the spacecraft’s scheduled deorbit into the planet in February 2018.

Photo credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS (top), NASA/Tony Gray and Don Kight (right)

Launch Day at Kennedy for OSIRIS-REx

OSIRIS-REx rollout to the Pad 41 for the upcoming launch.

Everything remains on track today for the launch of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission at 7:05 p.m. EDT, the opening of a 2-hour window. The weather forecast continues to call for an 80 percent chance of acceptable conditions.

Bolted to the top of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at Space Launch Complex 41, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will be sent on a course to rendezvous with an asteroid called Bennu. Once there in August 2018, the spacecraft will take unprecedented surveys of the asteroid and then reach out a mechanical arm to grab a pristine sample of it. Then the spacecraft will head back to Earth, releasing the sample inside a specialized, heat shield-equipped capsule that will parachute the sample safely to Earth where researchers will collect it for study. The mission will take seven years to complete. Our webcast on the launch and mission is below.

Analysis of the sample will reveal the earliest stages of the solar system’s evolution and the history of Bennu over the past 4.5 billion years.  Scientists expect Bennu may hold clues to the origin of the solar system and the source of the water and organic molecules that may have made their way to Earth.

For tonight though, all eyes are on the launch. Our continuous countdown coverage will begin at 5:30 p.m. EDT on the OSIRIS-REx blog. NASA TV’s coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. with an episode of NASA Edge, then will shift at 4:30 p.m. to live views of the Atlas V rocket and OSIRIS-REx spacecraft accompanied by countdown net audio. The launch broadcast will begin at 5:30 p.m. and continue through spacecraft separation, solar array deployment and positive communication with the spacecraft by NASA’s Deep Space Network. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

On the Pad at Space Launch Complex 41

OSIRIS-REx rollout to the Pad 41 for the upcoming launch.The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket made the trek from the Vertical Integration Facility to Space Launch Complex 41 at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Wednesday. Atop the rocket, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is sealed in the protective payload fairing. Liftoff is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 8 at 7:05 p.m. EDT. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

If you’re in the central Florida area and wondering how to view the launch, check out this page for a list of popular launch viewing locations.

How Were OSIRIS-REx and Atlas V Prepped for Flight?

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will be boosted into orbit aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. OSIRIS-REx stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer. The U.S.’s first mission to sample an asteroid, OSIRIS-REx will travel to the near-Earth asteroid Bennu.

Learn how this pioneering spacecraft and the Atlas V were readied for flight:

OSIRIS-REx NASA Social, Asteroid Briefing to be Televised

The forecast for launch of the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft remains 80 percent “go” atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at 7:05 p.m. EDT Thursday from Space Launch Complex 41 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Today, NASA will air two OSIRIS-REx events on NASA TV. Social media followers may ask questions during both using #askNASA.

Noon to 1 p.m. – OSIRIS-REx NASA Social

NASA will host a discussion with representatives from the mission’s science and engineering teams that includes an overview of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft and the science behind the mission. This event will air live on NASA TV and the agency’s website.

1 to 2 p.m. – Uncovering the Secrets of Asteroids Briefing

During this panel at OSB II, NASA scientists will discuss asteroids, how they relate to the origins of our solar system, and the search for life beyond Earth. Panelists are:

  • Ellen Stofan, NASA chief scientist
  • Michelle Thaller, deputy director of science communications for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate
  • Lindley Johnson, director of the Planetary Defense Coordination Office in NASA’s Science Mission Directorate
  • Alex Young, associate director for science in the Heliophysics Science Division at Goddard

Televised Briefings Today; Forecast Favors Thursday Launch

Launch week has arrived at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket is slated to lift off Thursday, Sept. 8, sending the agency’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft to the asteroid Bennu. Liftoff is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 41. Learn more about this ambitious mission.

Forecasters with the U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron are predicting an 80 percent of “go” weather at launch time, with the possibility of cumulus clouds as the main concern.

Officials are holding a Launch Readiness Review today to ensure the spacecraft and rocket are prepared for this week’s activities. This afternoon, NASA will hold two briefings at Kennedy. Both briefings will air live on NASA TV. Events and participants are:

1 p.m. – Prelaunch mission briefing at the Kennedy Press Site

  • Geoffrey Yoder, acting associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington
  • Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator at the University of Arizona, Tucson
  • Tim Dunn, NASA launch manager at Kennedy
  • Scott Messer, program manager for NASA missions at ULA in Centennial, Colorado
  • Michael Donnelly, OSIRIS-REx project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland
  • Rich Kuhns, OSIRIS-REx program manager for Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver
  • Clay Flinn, launch weather officer for the 45th Weather Squadron at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida

2 p.m. – OSIRIS-REx mission science briefing at the Kennedy Press Site

  • Christina Richey, OSIRIS-REx deputy program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington
  • Jason Dworkin, OSIRIS-REx project scientist at Goddard
  • Daniella DellaGiustina, OSIRIS-REx lead image processing scientist at the University of Arizona, Tucson

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.