Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage Moves to Space Station Processing Facility

The ICPS is moved to the Space Station Processing Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage, packed in its canister, exits the Delta Operations Center at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for transport to the Space Station Processing Facility at Kennedy Space Center. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

The Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS) is the first segment for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket to arrive at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It was transported from the United Launch Alliance (ULA) facility at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, where it had been undergoing final testing and checkout since arriving in February, to the Space Station Processing Facility at the center.

Stacking of the rocket will occur in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). The ICPS will be located at the very top of the SLS, just below the Orion capsule. During Exploration Mission-1, NASA’s first test mission of the SLS rocket and Orion, the ICPS, filled with liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen, will give Orion the big in-space push needed to fly beyond the Moon before returning to Earth.

The ICPS was designed and built by ULA in Decatur, Alabama, and Boeing in Huntsville, Alabama. The propulsion stage will be cleaned and maintained and remain in the high bay at the Space Station Processing Facility and moved to the VAB when it is time for stacking operations.

Core Stage Forward Skirt Umbilical Installed on Mobile Launcher

Just north of the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, technicians install the core stage forward skirt umbilical on the mobile launcher.
Just north of the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, technicians install the core stage forward skirt umbilical on the mobile launcher.

Just north of the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, technicians install the core stage forward skirt umbilical on the mobile launcher.The Core Stage Forward Skirt Umbilical (CSFSU) recently was installed on the tower of the mobile launcher at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, to prepare for the first launch of the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft atop.

The mobile launcher tower will be equipped with a number of lines, called umbilicals, which will connect to the SLS and Orion spacecraft and provide commodities during processing and preparation for launch of Exploration Mission-1.

Cranes and rigging were used to lift the CSFSU and install it at about the 220-foot-level on the tower. The CSFSU will swing into position to provide connections to the core stage forward skirt of the SLS rocket, and then swing away before launch. Its main purpose is to provide conditioned air and gaseous nitrogen to the SLS core stage forward skirt cavity.

The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program is overseeing installation of the umbilicals on the tower.

Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Kennedy Engineers to Support Liftoff of World’s Most Powerful Rocket

The Kennedy Ground Control System team poses after signing a banner at Kennedy Space Center's Operations Support Building II.
The Kennedy Ground Control System team poses at Kennedy Space Center’s Operations Support Building II after signing a banner to celebrate receiving authorization to operate. Credit: NASA/Cory Huston

Liftoff of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft from Launch Complex 39B at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida will require a symphony of tightly coordinated commands for processing and launch. Kennedy engineers recently achieved authorization to operate the Kennedy Ground Control Subsystem, which is a network of controls, during hazardous operations at the Multi-Payload Processing Facility. The processing facility is used to prepare Orion for its test flight atop the SLS.

To gain authorization to operate, Kennedy updated access to the subsystem network and equipment, ensuring the network is secure from all malicious threats, whether internal or external. Kennedy now is prepared to support hazardous operations and ensure that the network meets agency standards for network and physical protection.

According to Reggie Martin, a NASA electrical engineer in the Engineering Development Lab at the center, an authorization is good for only one year.

“Each subsequent authorization is a review to ensure we continue to operate at the level first certified to operate,” Martin said. “It also includes a review of any new equipment or operations to ensure they are properly incorporated as we get closer to the launch of NASA’s Space Launch System on Exploration Mission-1.”

The subsystem of the Spaceport Command and Control System is the main integration network system between ground support equipment at various locations around Kennedy and the Launch Control Center. The network interfaces with ground support equipment, such as sensors, valves and heaters, with systems in the Vehicle Assembly Building, the mobile launcher, the Launch Abort System Facility, the processing facility and on Launch Pad 39B to facilitate monitoring and control of subsystem processes.

“We’re responsible for ensuring all ground operations are transmitted to ground support equipment to ensure timely launch processing and vehicle launch from the launch pad,” said Martin.

Martin led a team of NASA and contractor engineers in the integrated design, fabrication, installation, verification and validation of the mission’s operational information and security requirements in support of hazardous operations.

The subsystem is monitored by NASA and contractor engineers from consoles located in the Launch Control Center’s Firing Room 1.

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First Umbilical Installed on Mobile Launcher for NASA’s Space Launch System and Orion

The OSMU is installed on the mobile launcher.The first launch umbilical for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion spacecraft was installed on the mobile launcher tower March 16 at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Orion Service Module Umbilical, or OSMU, was installed high up on the tower at about the 260-foot level.

“Installation of the OSMU is a major milestone for the mobile launcher team,” said Sam Talluto, deputy project manager. “This is the first of multiple umbilicals and launch accessories that will be installed.”

The tower on the mobile launcher will be equipped with several connections, called launch umbilicals, which will connect to the SLS core stage and twin solid rocket boosters, the interim cryogenic propulsion stage and the Orion spacecraft. They will provide power, communications, coolant and fuel.

The OSMU will connect from the mobile launcher tower to the Orion service module. Prior to launch, the umbilical will transfer liquid coolant for the electronics and purge air/ GN2 for environmental control to the Orion service module that houses these critical systems to support the spacecraft. The umbilical also will provide purge air/GN2 for environmental control to the Launch Abort System. Before launch, the OSMU will tilt up and the umbilical lines will disconnect.

The first integrated launch of SLS and Orion, Exploration Mission 1, will send the spacecraft to a stable orbit beyond the moon. Orion will return to Earth and be recovered from the Pacific Ocean. The mission will demonstrate the integrated performance of the SLS rocket, Orion and ground support teams.

Photo credit: NASA/Leif Heimbold

First Integrated Flight Hardware for NASA’s Space Launch System Arrives in Florida

The ICPS for NASA's Space Launch System arrives in Florida.The first integrated piece of flight hardware for NASA’s Space Launch System rocket, the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage, or ICPS, arrived March 8 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The ICPS was shipped from the United Launch Alliance (ULA) facility in Decatur, Alabama aboard the Mariner barge.

The ICPS was offloaded and transported to the ULA Horizontal Integration Facility where it will be removed from its flight case to begin processing for launch at the ULA Delta Operations Center.

The ICPS is the in-space stage that is located toward the top of the rocket, between the Launch Vehicle Stage Adapter and the Orion Spacecraft Adapter, and will provide some of the in-space propulsion. Its single RL-10 engine, powered by liquid hydrogen and oxygen, will generate 24,750 pounds of thrust to propel the Orion spacecraft out of Earth’s orbit during Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1).

The initial configuration of the SLS rocket with the ICPS will stand 322 feet tall, which is higher than the Statue of Liberty. The rocket will weigh 5.75 million pounds fueled and produce 8.8 million pounds of thrust at liftoff.

The first integrated launch of SLS and Orion will send the spacecraft to a stable orbit beyond the moon. Orion will return to Earth and be recovered from the Pacific Ocean. The mission will demonstrate the integrated performance of the SLS rocket, Orion and ground support teams.

Photo credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky

Media View New Work Platforms for NASA’s Space Launch System

Media view new work platforms in Vehicle Assembly Building High Bay 3.Members of the news media recently viewed the ten levels of new work platforms inside High Bay 3 of the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Work to install the platforms came to conclusion Jan. 12 as the final work platform, A north, was lifted, installed and secured on its rail beam on the north wall of the high bay inside the iconic facility.

Twenty platform halves will surround NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the Orion spacecraft atop the mobile launcher and allow access during processing for missions, including the first flight test of Orion atop the SLS.

With the goal of being a multi-user facility, the new platforms were designed to be adjusted up and down, and in and out on their rail beams in order to accommodate the SLS and its solid rocket boosters, as well as other vehicles.

Design of the new platforms began in 2010. NASA awarded a contract to modify High Bay 3 to the Hensel Phelps Construction Co. of Greeley, Colorado, in March 2014. Hundreds of NASA and contractor workers were involved in the design, manufacture and installation of the platforms.

The platform levels are A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, J and K. With the K-level being the lowest and the A-level the highest platforms.

The mobile launcher will be rolled into High Bay 3 in the fall for multi-element verification and validation testing with the platforms.

Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

First Solid Rocket Booster Forward Skirt for NASA’s Space Launch System Arrives at Kennedy Space Center

The left-hand forward skirt for the Space Launch System solid rocket boosters arrives at Hangar AF.The forward skirt for the left-hand solid rocket booster of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket arrived at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida from booster prime contractor Orbital ATK’s facilities in Promontory, Utah on February 1, 2017. The left-hand forward skirt was transported to Hangar AF where it will continue refurbishment to support the first uncrewed flight test of the Orion spacecraft atop the SLS rocket from Launch Pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center.

The forward skirts for the left- and right-hand solid rocket boosters are located near the top, or forward assembly, of the boosters. The solid rocket boosters will generate a combined 7.2 million pounds of thrust to help power the massive SLS rocket off the launch pad.

The large hangar and several support buildings — as well as Orbital ATK and NASA engineers and technicians — provide the capabilities and expertise to prepare booster hardware for flight. Other parts of the right and left booster structures for the SLS rocket also are being readied for the first flight.

Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

NASA, Contractor Workers Sign Final Platform in Vehicle Assembly Building

Workers sign final platform in the Vehicle Assembly Building.NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Engineering Directorate coordinated a platform beam signing event to celebrate the NASA and contractor team’s last several years of study, design, construction and installation of 20 new work platforms for NASA’s Space Launch System in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB).

Workers involved in the High Bay 3 platform project had the opportunity to sign one of the beams of the final work platform, A North, in the transfer aisle of the VAB.

The A platforms are the topmost and final level of 10 levels of work platforms that will surround and provide access to the agency’s Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft. Orion’s first uncrewed flight atop the rocket is scheduled for late 2018.

The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program, with support from the Engineering Directorate, is overseeing upgrades and modifications to the VAB, including installation and testing of the new work platforms.

Photo credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis

Space Launch System Core Stage Umbilical Ready for Tests at Launch Equipment Test Facility

The Core Stage Inter-tank Umbilical is ready for tests at the Launch Equipment Test Facility.
The Core Stage Inter-Tank Umbilical being installed at the LETF.

Testing of several of the umbilical lines that will attach to NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket from the tower on the mobile launcher continues at the Launch Equipment Test Facility (LETF) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The Core Stage Inter-tank Umbilical (CSITU) arrived at the LETF and was attached to the “C” tower of the Vehicle Motion Simulator 2 test fixture. Engineers with the Ground Systems Development and Operations Program and the Engineering Directorate will prepare the umbilical for a series of tests to confirm it is functioning properly and ready to support the SLS rocket for launch.

The tests will begin in January 2017 and are scheduled to be completed by the end of February. Testing will include hydraulic system controller tuning, umbilical plate mate and leak checks, primary and secondary disconnect testing at ambient temperatures, and fire suppression system functional checks. Also, a series of primary and secondary disconnect testing at liquid nitrogen and liquid hydrogen temperatures, minus 321 and minus 421 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively, will be performed.

The CSITU is a swing arm umbilical that will connect to the SLS core stage inter-tank. The umbilical’s main function is to vent gaseous hydrogen from the core stage. The arm also provides conditioned air, pressurized gases, and power and data connection to the core stage.

The CSITU will be located at about the 140-foot-level on the mobile launcher tower, between the Core Stage liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen tanks, and will swing away before launch. The umbilical is one of several umbilicals that will be installed on the mobile launcher tower and attach to the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft.

The Orion spacecraft is scheduled to launch in late 2018 atop the SLS rocket on a three-week mission that will take it thousands of miles beyond the moon and back during Exploration Mission 1.

Photo credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis

 

Upgrades Establish Kennedy’s Future

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More than five years of careful thought, in-depth planning and detailed refurbishments have set up Kennedy Space Center for diverse exploration missions that will push astronauts and robotic spacecraft into new areas of accomplishment, said, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center director, Bob Cabana at the National Space Club Florida Committee meeting today in Cape Canaveral.

“We’re not just making a difference for Kennedy or even the nation, we’ve got a meaningful mission and we are making a difference for all of humankind,” Cabana, a former astronaut, told the group of about 375 in attendance.

By focusing on piloted missions to the International Space Station using Commercial Crew Program spacecraft, followed by Space Launch System and Orion flight tests, Kennedy has established a ground support network of launch pads and associated infrastructure needed to support missions to Mars by astronauts in the future. All of this while maintaining the center’s unique ability to launch historic robotic exploration missions such as Osiris-Rex that will bring back a sample from an asteroid. Other flights in the future will continue to decipher the mysteries of Mars as well as taking close looks at other planetary networks in the solar system.

The center has seen complete upgrades in many areas including the Launch Control Center, Launch Complex 39B and modifications to the Mobile Launcher tailored to the needs of the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft. Other facilities have been upgraded for commercial partners. The center’s new headquarters campus is under construction to deliver an environmentally friendly, energy efficient structure.

“Our future is absolutely outstanding,” Cabana said. “I believe the years we have ahead of us will be our best ever.”

View Mr. Cabana’s complete presentation here.