A Brief Look at CRS-7

spacex_launchThe CRS-7 mission will be the seventh operational cargo delivery flight by SpaceX to the International Space Station. It will carry a host of experiments, supplies and equipment for the crew of the orbiting laboratory. It also will ferry the first of two Boeing-built International Docking Adapters that will be used by Commercial Crew spacecraft in the future when they dock at the station.

Launch of CRS-7 from SpaceX’s facilities at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida is targeted for June 26 at 11:09 a.m. We will cover the countdown, launch and ascent into orbit here on the NASA Blog and on NASA TV at www.nasa.gov/ntv.

Mourning Jack King, Apollo ‘Voice of Launch Control’

John W. (Jack) King, former chief of Public Information at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, died June 11, 2015 He was 84. A resident of Cocoa Beach, Fla., King worked in the space agency’s Public Affairs office from 1960 until 1975. He returned to Kennedy in 1997, working for space shuttle contractor United Space Alliance until his 2010 retirement.

King served as manager of press operations for 12 years, spanning the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. During that time, he was the “voice of launch control” for virtually every human mission from Gemini 4 to Apollo 15. He described countdown events as millions around the world watched the liftoff of the Saturn V rocket that carried the Apollo 11 astronauts to the moon.

Read the full story at http://go.nasa.gov/1L3NDMh.

All Kennedy Facilities Open After Wednesday Storms

A severe thunderstorm cell moved through Kennedy Space Center at approximately 3 p.m. on Wednesday, June 10 with a maximum wind speed reaching 84 knots (96 mph) in the Kennedy Industrial Area.

A severe thunderstorm watch had been issued shortly after 8 a.m. for the period of 3 to 8 p.m. and included Strong Wind and Damaging Wind Warnings at 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. respectively.

Most damage was confined to the KSC Industrial Area, particularly the NASA Headquarters Building. Approximately ten building windows were cracked, there were numerous roof and window leaks and water intrusion, and some inside ceilings in offices collapsed. In the area of the Central Campus construction site between the Headquarters Building and the Operations and Checkout Building, temporary fencing and barricades were blown over, and a construction trailer moved horizontally approximately 100 feet into a parked vehicle. Also, approximately 15-20 cars were damaged in the front and rear parking lots of the Headquarters Building including some with windows blown out.

Around Kennedy, limbs and small trees were down and there was ponding or minor flooding and some traffic lights out. There was no damage to operational facilities or flight hardware. Once the storm had passed and it was safe to initiate temporary repairs, crews worked through the evening to ensure a safe work place for personnel returning to work this morning. All Kennedy facilities are open and operating today.

SpaceX Work Continues on 39A Hangar

Spx39Ahangar

 

SpaceX released a new photo showing the progress the company is making on an assembly hangar at Kennedy’s historic Launch Complex 39A. The company says the building will be big enough to house five Falcon rockets at once. The launch pad is being outfitted for missions by the Falcon Heavy and for Commercial Crew flights using the Falcon 9 rocket launching Crew Dragons to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts onboard.

Budding Engineers Build Spacecraft

“Sometimes when you are an engineer, you have to get it wrong, before you can get it right,” said Rebecca Regan, an employee at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

Yesterday, Regan taught 17 elementary school students at Kennedy’s Child Development Center about the Commercial Crew Program and the need to have American-made spacecraft and rocket systems to carry people to and from space. After the lesson, each student built their own spacecraft out of cardboard boxes and art supplies.

Take a look at the designs these budding engineers created.

 

DSC_9577_COWant to build your own spacecraft this summer? We used the following supplies:

  • Cardboard box
  • Disposable plates (for portholes)
  • Pictures (to place on the portholes)
  • Plastic cups (to make rocket engines)
  • Foil (to cover the cups)
  • Tissue Paper – red, orange and yellow (to make fire for the engines)
  • Construction Paper (for decorating)
  • Stencils (for decorating)
  • Pencil (for a steering wheel)
  • Tape
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • NASA and Commercial Crew Program logos

No Recess for Attorney of Year

Steve_Horn
By Steven Siceloff

Three months of seven-day work weeks including a month of 17-hour days punctuated the end of 2014 for Steven Horn. As assistant chief counsel at Kennedy, Horn worked to defend the decisions by NASA’s Commercial Crew Program to award contracts to Boeing and SpaceX under the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability phase. The effort was intense and draining, but equal parts rewarding for the lawyer who has since been named the agency’s Attorney of the Year.

“This procurement was very complex, given the parallel space act agreements and phased acquisition and all,” Horn said. “We have to bring the level of expertise that the engineers have down to a more readable level when making findings when they are going to be reviewed by someone who doesn’t necessarily have that technical background. That can be difficult at times.”

Horn’s legal career began following his graduation from the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law. After a couple years in private practice, Horn joined the Air Force where he worked in the Judge Advocate General department before going to Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma, where contracts and labor-related issues became his specialty. Having traveled the world in the Air Force, Horn opted to settle down in Florida, and came to work for NASA at Kennedy Space Center in 1998.

“Every day here is a challenge, whether it’s contracts, space act agreements or how we’re commercializing property that NASA has no present use for,” Horn said. “The most rewarding thing for me, bar none, is the people I get to work with. There are some amazing engineers out here, I’m not just saying that. They blow me away every day. I like working with people smarter than me and there are a heck of a lot of people out here smarter than me and it motivates me to bring my game up. That’s what I get a kick out of. It’s that interaction with people and helping create solutions.”

Horn is now the primary legal voice for Commercial Crew, beginning that role two years ago when he became a part of the source board to acquire services for the first American-made, human-rated spacecraft since the space shuttle. Then he helped judge how proposals by aerospace companies stacked up against NASA’s requirements for Commercial Crew. Ultimately, the source board made the evaluations before NASA’s hierarchy made the final selection of Boeing and SpaceX.

“The Source Evaluation Board chairwoman, Maria Collura, in my almost 30 years of work, is easily the best that I’ve ever come across,” Horn said. “She was the glue that held the entire team together.”

A couple weeks later, a protest lodged against the decision sent the board and Horn into justification mode. By the time it was complete, more than 160,000 pages had been gathered and reviewed. Ultimately, the Government Accountability Office agreed with NASA’s rationale and approved the contract awards.

“I think the day the announcement was made to select two companies, it showed that all the work we had done for the past year and half as a team was correct,” Horn said. “The day that we got the successful decision was a good day — a very good day for myself and for NASA.”

Although getting to this point with the contracts awarded and decision upheld has been a lot of work, Horn said it will be the next three years of development progress, test flights and certification that tells the team whether they got it right.

“The work’s not done,” Horn said. “Selecting the contractor is important, but administering the contract correctly matters just as much. We have a goal of 2017 for these flights, but it’s just a goal. We need to make sure they meet NASA’s requirements and are safe and cost-effective.”

 

Commercial Crew Rotation Mission in Motion

4-astros_webfeature-graphicNASA took another step toward returning America’s ability to launch crew missions to the International Space Station from the United States in 2017. Commercial Crew ordered its first crew rotation mission from The Boeing Company. SpaceX is expected to receive its first order later this year. Determination of which company will fly its mission to the station first will be made at a later time.

“Final development and certification are top priority for NASA and our commercial providers, but having an eye on the future is equally important to the Commercial Crew and station programs,” said Kathy Lueders, manager of Commercial Crew. “Our strategy will result in safe, reliable and cost-effective crew missions.”

Missions flown to the station on Boeing’s CST-100 and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft will restore America’s human spaceflight capabilities and increase the amount of scientific research that can be conducted aboard the orbiting laboratory. A standard mission to the station will carry four NASA or NASA-sponsored crew members and about 220 pounds of pressurized cargo. The spacecraft will remain at the station for up to 210 days and serve as an emergency lifeboat during that time.

“Commercial Crew launches are critical to the International Space Station Program because it ensures multiple ways of getting crews to orbit,” said Julie Robinson, International Space Station chief scientist. “It also will give us crew return capability so we can increase the crew to seven, letting us complete a backlog of hands-on critical research that has been building up due to heavy demand for the National Laboratory.”

Astronauts to Join Hall of Fame on May 30

In this image from March 2002, John M. Grunsfeld is shown in space shuttle Columbia's cargo bay.Four accomplished NASA astronauts soon will be inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame.

Joining the hall of fame this year are NASA’s associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate John Grunsfeld, and former astronauts Steve Lindsey, Kent Rominger, and M. Rhea Seddon. Their induction brings the total number of space explorers enshrined to 91.

NASA Television will provide live coverage of the induction ceremony at 2 p.m. EDT on Saturday, May 30.

For more information, go to http://go.nasa.gov/1QalTnm.

Robotic Miners Compete at Kennedy

Inside the robot pit preparation facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida, college team members look over their custom-made robot in preparation for NASA's Robotic Mining Competition.
Inside the robot pit preparation facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida, college team members look over their custom-made robot in preparation for NASA’s Robotic Mining Competition.

University teams and their mining robots have descended on the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex this week for the 2015 NASA Robotic Mining Competition.

Teams have designed and built remote-controlled mining robots that can traverse the simulated Martian terrain features and excavate simulated regolith. During the competition, the teams’ robots will go head-to-head to determine which machine can collect and move the most regolith within a specified amount of time.

The competition is a NASA Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate project designed to engage and retain students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, fields by expanding opportunities for student research and design. The project provides a competitive environment to foster innovative ideas and solutions that potentially could be applied to future NASA missions.

NASA Seeks CubeSat Launchers

CubeSat artist conceptNASA’s Launch Services Program is looking for a couple of launch vehicles suited to the needs of CubeSats, small spacecraft that fit inside a 4-inch cube. After five years of launching cubes as secondary payloads on larger missions, the industry has matured to the point that designers and scientists are able to perform significant science in Earth and space studies. Along the way, a backlog of about 50 CubeSat missions has built up, so the agency wants to put a new small rocket to use that is capable of sending an assortment of the small satellites into orbit at one time. Read more about the draft proposal at http://go.nasa.gov/1JTwRPz