Parker Solar Probe Updates

Artist rendering of NASA's Parker Solar Probe observing the sun.
Artist rendering of NASA’s Parker Solar Probe observing the sun. Image credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Steve Gribben

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is scheduled to lift off atop a ULA Delta IV Heavy at 3:53 a.m. EDT, at the opening of a 65-minute window, on Saturday, Aug. 11. Live launch coverage begins at 3 a.m. on NASA TV and NASA’s Parker Solar Probe Launch Blog.

For the latest status, visit www.nasa.gov/parkersolarprobe.

NASA Administrator Meets Kennedy Space Center Employees

Administrator Tours Kennedy Space Center
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, left, made his first official visit to the agency’s Kennedy Space Center on Monday, Aug. 6, 2018. His up-close look at the premier, multi-user spaceport began with Center Director Bob Cabana giving the administrator a helicopter tour over the bustling Florida spaceport that included the center’s Industrial Area.
Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine made his first official visit to the agency’s Kennedy Space Center on Aug. 6 and 7 for an up-close look at the premier, multi-user spaceport.

Bridenstine’s visit began with Center Director Bob Cabana giving the administrator a helicopter tour of the bustling Florida spaceport.

During an all hands meeting for Bridenstine to speak with employees, Cabana commented on the spaceport’s shift.

“The transition that you all have made in the last seven years since (space shuttle) Atlantis made its final fight has been nothing short of phenomenal,” he said. “I’ve had the privilege the past two days to share the work that you all have accomplished with our new NASA administrator, who is passionate about what we do.”

Administrator views Vehicle Assembly Building
During his helicopter tour of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Administrator Jim Bridenstine gets an up-close view of the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building.
Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Bridenstine also thanked Kennedy employees for their part in the recent changes.

“You have transitioned splendidly,” Bridenstine said. “When you look at how Kennedy has handled the challenge and how you have turned this into a multi-user spaceport with commercial and other partners, I’m inspired and in awe.”

For nearly half a century, Kennedy operated as a NASA-only space center. As the Space Shuttle Program came to an end, Kennedy began preparing to support NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft. Anticipation of an emerging commercial space industry resulted in center leadership developing an innovative concept of a multi-user spaceport to change focus from a big government, NASA-only space center to the agency partnering with other organizations.

The administrator also spoke of the crucial role NASA plays in everyday life around the globe.

“Space is important to our everyday lives,” he said. “Look at how space has transformed all of our lives. You look at the way we communicate, the way we navigate, the way we produce food, the way we produce energy, the way we do disaster relief in this country and the world, the way we provide national security and defense, every person in our country and every human on the planet has benefited from what NASA has done.”

In addition to touring Kennedy facilities, Bridenstine participated in an Industry Roundtable hosted by the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast and Space Florida. He later met with members of the news media in the center’s Space Florida’s Space Life Sciences Lab facility.

 

Mobile Launcher’s Crew Access Arm Successfully Tested

Crew Access Arm Testing
Technicians and engineers in Exploration Ground Systems at the NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida recently tested the Crew Access Arm (CAA) that was added on the mobile launcher being prepared to support the agency’s Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket.
Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

As astronauts prepare for trips to destinations beyond low-Earth orbit, their last steps before boarding an Orion spacecraft will be across the Crew Access Arm (CAA) on the mobile launcher.

Earlier this year, the CAA was added to the mobile launcher being prepared to support NASA’s Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, the largest in the world. Technicians and engineers in Exploration Ground Systems at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center recently tested the crucial arm, confirming it worked as designed.

The test was designed to determine the functionality and integrity of the CAA and supporting mobile launcher systems.

“This was the first functional swing testing for the Crew Access Arm,” said Cliff Lanham, Mobile Launcher Project Manager at Kennedy. “Prior to testing, we checked the mechanical attachment, hydraulics and cabling to make sure we had confidence it would work properly.”

380-foot-tall mobile launcher tower
The crew access arm is located at the 274-foot level on the 380-foot-tall mobile launcher tower. The CAA will rotate from its retracted position and interface with the Space Launch System rocket at the Orion crew hatch location to provide entry in and exit from the spacecraft.
Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

The CAA is designed to rotate from its retracted position and line up with Orion’s crew hatch. The arm will provide entry and emergency egress for astronauts and technicians into and out of the Orion spacecraft.

In advance of those missions, the Exploration Ground Systems team at Kennedy has been overseeing testing of umbilicals and other launch accessories on the 380-foot-tall mobile launcher in preparation for stacking the first launch of the SLS rocket with Orion.
During the test, there were several moves of the arm controlled by systems on the mobile launcher. The test also was important because of the upcoming move of the mobile launcher from its park site to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB).

“The CAA will be extended when it goes inside the VAB,” Lanham said. “We cannot rotate the arm once in the VAB due to space constraints.”

Testing inside the VAB is designed to ensure all systems work properly in connection with the building prior to stacking the first SLS and Orion for Exploration Mission-1. EM-1 will be the first unpiloted flight of the new NASA spacecraft traveling 280,000 miles from Earth well beyond the Moon.

Engineers Mark Completion of Umbilical Testing at Launch Equipment Test Facility

A banner signing event was held at the Launch Equipment Test Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to mark completion of umbilical testing.
A banner signing event was held at the Launch Equipment Test Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to mark completion of umbilical testing. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

The team that tested the umbilical lines and launch accessories that will connect from the mobile launcher (ML) to NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft for Exploration Mission-1 celebrated their achievement during a banner signing at the Launch Equipment Test Facility (LETF) at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Engineers and technicians in the Engineering Directorate and the Exploration Ground Systems Program, along with contractor support, began the tests at the LETF about 2.5 years ago. The first to be tested was one of two aft skirt electrical umbilicals. Testing of the final umbilical, the second of two tail service mast umbilicals, was completed on June 27.

“The team of NASA test engineers and test managers, and contractor engineers and technicians, worked tirelessly six days a week, 10 hours a day, in order to meet the highly aggressive schedule and deliver the hardware to the mobile launcher for installation,” said Jeff Crisafulli, Test and Design branch chief in the Engineering Directorate.

In all, 21 umbilicals and launch accessories were tested on various simulators at the LETF that mimicked conditions during launch to ensure they are functioning properly and ready for installation on the ML. Most have been delivered and installed on the ML tower. These include the Orion service module umbilical, interim cryogenic propulsion stage umbilical, core stage forward skirt umbilical and core stage inter-tank umbilical. Two aft skirt electrical umbilicals, two aft skirt purge umbilicals, a vehicle stabilizer system, eight vehicle support posts and two tail service mast umbilicals were installed on the 0-level deck of the ML.

Before launch, the umbilical lines will provide power, communications, coolant and fuel to the rocket and spacecraft. Additional accessories will provide access and stabilization. During launch, each umbilical and accessory will release from its connection point, allowing the SLS and Orion to lift off safely from the launch pad.

“Design, fabrication and testing of the new mobile launcher’s umbilicals and launch accessories is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I am proud to have been part of,” Crisafulli said.

Kennedy Celebrates National Intern Day

Kennedy Space Center interns gather in the News Center auditorium on Intern Day, Thursday, July 26, 2018.
Kennedy Space Center interns gather in the News Center auditorium on Intern Day, Thursday, July 26, 2018. Photo credit: NASA/Madison Tuttle

NASA’s Kennedy Space Center celebrated National Intern Day on Thursday, July 26, by highlighting various interns around the center. Throughout the day, the interns posted photos and videos on their Instagram story as part of their intern social media takeover. NASA interns at every center watched the agency’s administrator, Jim Bridenstine, as he spoke with interns at Goddard Spaceflight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Aeroshells Prepped for Vital Orion Launch Abort System Test

The third and final aeroshell, at left, for Orion's Launch Abort System (LAS) is in High Bay 4 of the Vehicle Assembly Building on July 12, 2018, at Kennedy Space Center after its arrival from EMF Inc. on nearby Merritt Island.
The third and final aeroshell, at left, for Orion’s Launch Abort System (LAS) is in High Bay 4 of the Vehicle Assembly Building on July 12, 2018, at Kennedy Space Center after its arrival from EMF Inc. on nearby Merritt Island.

The third and final aeroshell, at left, for Orion’s Launch Abort System (LAS) is in High Bay 4 of the Vehicle Assembly Building on July 12, 2018, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida after its arrival from EMF Inc. on nearby Merritt Island. In the photo above, technicians prepare the aeroshell to be lifted off of the flatbed truck and transferred to slats. All three aeroshells will be stacked and prepared for a full-stress test of the LAS, called Ascent Abort-2 (AA-2) flight test, scheduled for April 2019.

During the test, a booster will launch from Space Launch Complex 46 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station carrying a fully functional LAS and a 22,000-pound Orion test vehicle to an altitude of 31,000 feet and traveling at more than 1,000 miles per hour. The test will verify the LAS can steer the crew module and astronauts aboard to safety in the event of an issue with the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket when the spacecraft is under the highest aerodynamic loads it will experience during a rapid climb into space.

NASA’s Orion is being prepared for its first integrated uncrewed flight atop the SLS on Exploration Mission-1.

Photo credit: NASA/Frank Michaux

Successful Launch for SpaceX Falcon 9, CRS-15

Liftoff of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Launch of the SpaceX CRS-15 mission took place at 5:42 a.m. EDT.
Liftoff of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Launch of the SpaceX CRS-15 mission took place at 5:42 a.m. EDT. Image credit: NASA TV

Now in its preliminary orbit, the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft will begin its three-day pursuit of the International Space Station. It’s scheduled to arrive Monday, July 2. NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold will be the prime operator of the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm; he will be backed up by NASA astronaut Drew Feustel. Meanwhile, NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor will keep watch over the spacecraft’s systems. Dragon will be installed on the station’s Harmony module.

SpaceX CRS-15 Set for Liftoff Early Friday

The SpaceX Falcon 9 and Dragon spacecraft lift off from Space Launch Complex 40 on July 18, 2017, at the start of the CRS-9 mission.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 and Dragon spacecraft lift off from Space Launch Complex 40 on July 18, 2017, at the start of the CRS-9 mission. Photo credit: NASA/Tony Gray

SpaceX’s 15th cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station is slated to begin before dawn Friday. Liftoff of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft is scheduled for at 5:42 a.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The Dragon is packed with more than 5,900 pounds of science and research, crew supplies and vehicle hardware.

The launch forecast predicts a 90 percent chance of favorable weather, according to meteorologists with the U.S. Air Force’s 45th Space Wing.

Join us right here on NASA’s SpaceX launch blog for countdown updates beginning at 5:15 a.m.

Dragon Set to Deliver Supplies to International Space Station

Dragon Set to Deliver Supplies to International Space Station
The two-stage Falcon 9 launch vehicle lifts off Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Dec. 15, 2017 carrying the Dragon resupply spacecraft to the International Space Station.
Photo credit: NASA/Photo credit: NASA/Tony Gray, Tim Powers and Tim Terry

Commercial Resupply Services Mission: SpaceX CRS-15
Launch: 5:42 a.m. EDT, Friday, June 29, 2018
Launch Weather: Meteorologists with the U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing predict a 90 percent chance of favorable weather at launch time. Cumulus and anvil clouds are the primary weather concerns.
Lift Off: Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida
Launch Vehicle: SpaceX Falcon 9, 230 feet-tall
Spacecraft: Dragon, 20 feet high, 12 feet-in diameter
Payload: Dragon will deliver supplies and payloads, including materials to directly support dozens of the more than 250 science and research investigations that will occur during the space station’s Expeditions 56.
Return to Earth: After about one month attached to the space station, Dragon will return with results of earlier experiments, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California.
Payloads on Board: https://go.nasa.gov/2LymYKJ