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.
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.
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.
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.
The Jason-3 mission is scheduled for launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on January 17, 2016 at approximately 10:42:18 a.m. PST from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The launch window allows for a second attempt on January 18 at 10:31:04 a.m. PST.
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.
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.
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.
The 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.