Jason-3 Spacecraft Mated to Falcon 9 Rocket

The Jason-3 spacecraft has been mated to the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at Space Launch Complex 4 on Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The spacecraft and rocket will be rolled horizontally to the launch pad later today and raised to vertical on Saturday. The Launch Readiness Review is under way today at Vandenberg.

Weather forecasters from the U.S. Air Force 30th Weather Squadron continue to predict a 100 percent chance of favorable weather at the opening of a 30-second launch window at 10:42:18 a.m. PST on Sunday, Jan. 17.

Tune in for today’s Jason-3 Mission Science Briefing and prelaunch news conference starting at 4 p.m. PST (7 p.m. EST). Both events will be carried live on NASA Television and streamed online at www.nasa.gov/nasatv.

Bolden: Commercial Market in Low-Earth Orbit Serves Nation’s Journey to Mars

NASA Administrator Charles BoldenToday, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden blogged about the agency’s plan, vision and timetable for sending American astronauts to the Red Planet in the 2030s. By building a robust commercial market in low-Earth orbit, the agency is able to focus on simultaneously getting our astronauts to deep space. Kennedy, the agency’s premier multi-user spaceport, is home to two programs that are vital to this plan. The Commercial Crew Program will return our astronauts to the International Space Station on American systems launching from the United States. The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program is upgrading our facilities to support the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft for our Journey to Mars.

Competition, innovation and technology – it’s the American way,” said NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden. “It’s helping us to Launch America.”

Read more of Bolden’s blog at http://go.nasa.gov/1Q8VLNX

Jason-3 Spacecraft Batteries Charged

At Vandenberg Air Force Base is California, the Jason-3 spacecraft batteries have been charged and the satellite is scheduled to be mated to the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket today. Other prelaunch preparations continue at Space Launch Complex 4 for a launch on Sunday, Jan. 17. The 30-second launch window opens at 10:42:18 a.m. PST. The Launch Readiness Review is scheduled to be held on Friday.

Jason-3 is an international mission led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to continue U.S.- European satellite measurements of the topography of the ocean surface. It will continue the ability to monitor and precisely measure global sea surface heights, monitor the intensification of tropical cyclones and support seasonal and coastal forecasts. Jason-3 data also will benefit fisheries management, marine industries and research into human impacts on the world’s oceans. The mission is planned to last at least three years, with a goal of five years.

Jason-3 is a four-agency international partnership consisting of NOAA, NASA, Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales, France’s space agency, and the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites. Thales Alenia of France built the spacecraft.

SpaceX Falcon 9 Static Fire Complete for Jason-3

At Space Launch Complex 4 on Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, the static test fire of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket for the upcoming Jason-3 launch was completed Monday at 5:35 p.m. PST, 8:35 p.m. EST. The first stage engines fired for the planned full duration of 7 seconds.  The initial review of the data appears to show a satisfactory test, but will be followed by a more thorough data review on Tuesday.  With this test complete, the next step in prelaunch preparations is to mate the rocket and the Jason-3 spacecraft, which is encapsulated in the payload fairing. This also is planned to occur as soon as Tuesday. 

Flight Readiness Review Gives “Go” to Proceed Toward Jan. 17 Launch

At Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, the Flight Readiness Review for the Jason-3 mission is complete.  At its conclusion on Friday evening, managers determined that work should proceed toward a launch on Sunday, Jan. 17.  The static fire of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at Space Launch Complex 4 now is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 11.  Meanwhile, the Jason-3 spacecraft was encapsulated into the Falcon 9 payload fairing on Friday.

A final review, the Launch Readiness Review, will be held at Vandenberg on Friday, Jan. 15.

The 30-second launch window on Jan. 17 opens at 10:42:18 a.m. PST.

Jason-3 Flight Readiness Review and Encapsulation Tomorrow; Static Fire Planned for Sunday

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.

G-Level Work Platform Next to Arrive at Kennedy Space Center for NASA’s Journey to Mars

The first half of the G-level work platforms for the Vehicle Assembly Building arrives at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Mike Justice
The first half of the G-level work platforms for the Vehicle Assembly Building arrives at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Mike Justice

Continuing efforts to upgrade the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), the first half of the G-level work platforms arrived today at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The G platforms are the fourth of 10 levels of platforms that will support processing of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft for the journey to Mars.

Hensel Phelps moved Platform G on an over-sized load, heavy transport trailer from the Sauer Co. in Oak Hill, Florida. The platform was successfully delivered to the VAB west parking lot work area.

A total of 10 levels of new platforms, 20 platform halves altogether, will be used to access, test and process the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft in High Bay 3. Twenty new elevator landings and access ways are being constructed for each platform level. The high bay also will accommodate the 355-foot-tall mobile launcher tower that will carry the rocket and spacecraft atop the crawler-transporter to Launch Pad 39B.

The platforms are being fabricated by Steel LLC of Scottdale, Georgia, and assembled by Sauer. A contract to modify High Bay 3 was awarded to Hensel Phelps Construction Co. of Orlando, Florida, in March 2014.

The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program at Kennedy is overseeing upgrades and modifications to the high bay to prepare for NASA’s exploration missions to deep-space destinations.

The first three sets of platforms, H, J and K, were delivered to Kennedy last year. The first half of the K-level platforms was installed in the VAB on Dec. 22. It was secured into position about 86 feet above the VAB floor, or nearly nine stories high, in High Bay 3.

Kennedy ‘Ready for Launch’ in 2016

Spaceport Magazine cover for Jan. 2016 showing facilities, rockets and International Space StationNASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida kicks off the new year with the January 2016 issue of Spaceport Magazine. In this issue, get a look at the busy year ahead and learn about Kennedy’s evolution into a 21st-century spaceport, updates on current and future missions, innovative new technologies, and more.

Check out the January issue of Spaceport Magazine on the ISSUU digital newsstand. To download or view the accessible PDF version or view past PDF issues of the magazine, go to http://go.nasa.gov/1k2qusq.

Jason-3 On Pace for Jan. 17 Liftoff

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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.

First Work Platform for NASA’s Space Launch System Installed in Vehicle Assembly Building

A 325-ton crane has lowered the first half of the K-level work platforms into High Bay 3 of the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The platform will be secured into position on tower E, about 86 feet above the floor. The K work platforms will provide access to NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) core stage and solid rocket boosters during processing and stacking operations on the mobile launcher.  Photo credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky
A 325-ton crane has lowered the first half of the K-level work platforms into High Bay 3 of the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The platform will be secured into position on tower E, about 86 feet above the floor. The K work platforms will provide access to NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) core stage and solid rocket boosters during processing and stacking operations on the mobile launcher. Photo credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky

The first of ten new work platforms that will provide access to NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket has been installed in High Bay 3 inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

An overhead crane that can hold as much as 325 tons was used to lift the first half of the K-level work platforms up from High Bay 4, across the transfer aisle 19 floors up, and then lowered it into High Bay 3. The platform was secured into position, about 86 feet above the VAB floor, or nearly 9 stories high. The K-level work platform halves will provide access to the SLS core stage and solid rocket boosters during processing and stacking operations on the mobile launcher.

A total of 10 levels of new platforms — 20 platform halves altogether — will surround the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft and provide access for testing and processing. The giant steel platforms, each measuring 38 feet long and 62 feet wide, will be attached to rail beams that will provide structural support and contains the drive mechanisms to move them in and out or up and down as needed.

The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program is overseeing upgrades and modifications to the VAB, including installation of the new work platforms, marking preparations for the agency’s journey to Mars.

NASA awarded a contract to modify High Bay 3 to the Hensel Phelps Construction Co. of Orlando, Florida, in March 2014. Steel LLC, of Scottdale, Georgia, is the subcontractor fabricating the huge steel platforms, and Sauer Co. in Oak Hill, Florida, is assembling the platforms.

Hensel Phelps, along with its subcontractors, and Kennedy’s Institutional Services Contract, Engineering Services Contract and safety personnel are supporting crane operations, installation and initial inspection of each of the platforms.

For more information about the new work platforms, visit https://www.nasa.gov/feature/first-work-platform-for-nasas-space-launch-system-arrives-at-kennedy-space-center.