Students from Utah State University presented Eden, a plant chamber that could be operated autonomously during long-term spaceflight missions, while visiting Kennedy Space Center Nov. 7. This project is part of NASA’s eXploration Systems and Habitation (X-Hab) Academic Innovation Challenge series, and also serves as a pathfinder for the type of technology needed for future long duration missions beyond low-Earth orbit.
“The Utah State University X-HAB team did a fantastic job developing an innovative project,” commented Dr. Gioia Massa, a scientist who works on food production in space. “Their Eden X-HAB project demonstrated a very novel approach to sustaining plant growth in microgravity, with a 3-D printed substrate that could be a revolutionary way to provide water and nutrients to plants.”
Eden would make use of the 3-D printed substrate to deliver water, oxygen, and nutrients to plant roots in microgravity conditions. Students built an Eden prototype and grew plants in a 30-day test. This type of plant growth system would improve the autonomy of current plant growth systems in use aboard the International Space Station to make them more practical for limited crew time missions.
A woman who had to relearn everything about daily life following a nearly fatal stroke when she was 12 revealed to an audience at Kennedy some of the keys to her recovery and how she synthesized her own strengths with help from family and friends to graduate high school and then get into college.
As the keynote speaker for the event sponsored by Kennedy’s Disability Awareness and Action Working Group, or DAAWG, Alex and her mother, Juli Dixon, detailed Alex’s journey from age 4 – when she wanted to be a farmer so she could help animals – to pneumonia that struck her at age 10. The illness went away, but had set the stage for a stroke and coma that followed two years later. Since that occurrence, the pace of her learning slowed significantly and Alex had to re-learn everything from speech to how to work around paralysis in her right hand and other significant disabilities.
“I was determined that I would get better,” Alex Dixon said. “It’s slow, but you can do it. Failure isn’t just failure, there’s always something that improved. I just had to do it better next time.”
“We couldn’t give up,” Juli said of her family’s own determination to work with Alex. “We had to be satisfied with baby steps.”
After Alex Dixon graduated high school, her mother took to calling around to see what she could do to get Alex in to the University of Central Florida where Juli Dixon is a professor. “While I was busy calling around and finding out what I could do, Alex applied and got in completely on her own.”
Alex Dixon beamed at the memory and pointed to her college enrollment as the achievement she is most proud of. It’s also the environment that gave her considerable insight into the way people cope with disabilities, and what others do around them that helps them.
“In class, I was Alex with a disability, but in groups outside of class I was just Alex and I had special abilities,” she said. “I was like everybody else and I felt like I was like everybody else.”
She offered a bit of advice for the Kennedy community, including offering even small opportunities to those who are disabled. “Small opportunities combine into big opportunities,” she said. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
On Oct. 20, Kennedy Space Center promoted the center-wide effort to underscore how central energy is to our center’s mission, security, and environmental well-being. Employees, vendors, and representatives of local energy utility companies were on hand at Kennedy’s Multi-Function Facility to share energy consumption data, energy conservation tips, and ideas.
“There are things we can do at home and the office to meet our president’s goals, be environmentally friendly and meet the sustainability goals outlined in the KSC Sustainability Plan.” said Cory Taylor, an energy and water conservation specialist at Kennedy.
In keeping with the Executive Order goals set by President Obama, Kennedy continues to reduce energy consumption while increasing production from renewable sources.
For example, one of the goals is to reduce the amount of energy used per square foot in facilities on center by at least 25 percent in comparison to what was used in 2015 by 2025.
According to Nick Murdock, an energy and water program manager at Kennedy, every little bit adds up toward reaching our sustainability goals.
“Our goal is to be 30 percent dependent on renewable energy and we would like to meet and exceed this goal,” Murdock said. “It’s a lofty goal that we need to work toward.”
Among those in attendance were Florida City Gas; Lutron Electronics Co., a lighting control company; and ISC Energy and Water, Kennedy’s energy and water conservation program. Photo credit: NASA/Cory Huston
When Orion returns from deep space missions and lands in the ocean, a team will be responsible for safely returning the capsule and crew back to land.
NASA’s Ground Systems Development and Operations Program and U.S. Navy personnel are preparing to conduct a water recovery test, called Underway Recovery Test 5 (URT-5), this week, using a test version of the Orion spacecraft in the Pacific Ocean.
During URT-5, the team will demonstrate and evaluate in open water the recovery processes, procedures, hardware and personnel that are necessary for recovery of the Orion crew module into the well deck of a Navy ship.
The USS San Diego, a test version of Orion, several support boats, and associated hardware and equipment will be used for the test.
Orion is the exploration spacecraft designed to carry astronauts to destinations not yet explored by humans, including an asteroid and the agency’s Journey to Mars. It will have emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during space travel and provide safe re-entry from deep space return velocities.
NASA’s Orion spacecraft is scheduled to launch atop the Space Launch System rocket in late 2018.
The first half of the B-level work platforms, B south, for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, arrived by heavy-load transport truck at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Oct. 21. The B platforms are the ninth of 10 levels of new platforms for High Bay 3 in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB).
The platform was delivered to the VAB staging area in the west parking lot. 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 in the high bay.
The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program is overseeing upgrades and modifications to VAB High Bay 3 to support processing of the SLS and Orion spacecraft for Exploration Mission 1 and deep space missions, including NASA’s Journey to Mars.
Processing engineers are set to encapsulate the GOES-R weather satellite into its payload fairing at the Astrotech payload processing facility near NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The work is being performed as teams from NASA, United Launch Alliance and NOAA progress toward a liftoff on Nov. 16 from Space Launch Complex 41 aboard an Atlas V rocket. Launch time is 4:42 p.m. EDT.
The spacecraft, folded into launch position, will be enclosed inside the two halves of the fairing before being taken to the launch pad and positioned atop the Atlas V. The fairing will protect the spacecraft during the climb through the lower atmosphere, then the two pieces will be jettisoned as the rocket pushes GOES-R toward its final orbit more than 22,000 miles above Earth. Once in orbit and operational, GOES-R will use its advanced instruments to help weather forecasters on Earth predict storms and atmospheric conditions and to track environmental changes. Photos credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis
Testing of the Orion Service Module Umbilical (OSMU) is complete at the Launch Equipment Test Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. A series of tests, called regressions tests, were performed on the umbilical’s design modifications to validate it for installation on the mobile launcher. The tests were conducted by Kennedy’s Engineering Directorate for the Ground Systems Development and Operations Program.
During the tests, the OSMU was connected to the facility’s Vehicle Motion Simulator 1 and the umbilical’s release mechanism that will connect to the service module was tested to confirm it is functioning properly.
The OSMU will connect from the mobile launcher tower to the Orion service module at about the 280-foot level of the mobile launcher tower. Prior to launch, the umbilical will transfer liquid coolant for the electronics and air for the environmental control system to the Orion service module that houses these critical systems to support the spacecraft. The OSMU also will provide purge air and gaseous nitrogen for environmental control to the Launch Abort System located atop the spacecraft. The OSMU will release and tilt back, away from the service module, before launch.
NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) will launch with the Orion spacecraft atop for its first flight in 2018. The SLS is the rocket that will carry Orion to deep space destinations, including the agency’s Journey to Mars.
A heavy-lift crane lowers the first half of the C-level work platforms, C south, for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, for installation on the south side of High Bay 3 in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The C platforms are the eighth of 10 levels of work platforms that will surround and provide access to the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft for Exploration Mission 1. In view below Platform C are several of the previously installed platforms. The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program is overseeing upgrades and modifications to VAB High Bay 3, including installation of the new work platforms, to prepare for NASA’s Journey to Mars.
Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana and Disaster Assessment Recovery Team (DART) Chief Bob Holl briefed members of the news media about the center’s efforts to recover from Hurricane Matthew.
Just prior to impacting Florida’s Space Coast, Matthew was downgraded from a category 4 to a category 3 storm with winds at 115 miles per hour. The eye of the hurricane passed 20 to 25 miles off Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, with Kennedy’s Launch Pad 39B near the edge of the eye experiencing 86 mile-per-hour winds. Pad 39-B is where NASA’s Space Launch System rocket will boost the Orion spacecraft to destinations such as an asteroid and Mars.
“I’m pleased to say that as of today, 100 percent of our civil service and contractors have reported in with no serious injuries or significant damage to personal property,” Cabana said. “Things can be fixed or replaced, but people are special and we have a very special family here.”
As Matthew approached, NASA closed the center at 1 p.m. EDT on Oct. 5 ahead of the storm’s onset and only a small team of 139 specialists, known as the Ride-out Team, were on the center as the storm approached and passed.
“I can’t say enough about both the Ride-out and DART teams,” Cabana said. “Wayne Kee leading my Ride out Team, kept an eye on things and Bob Hull, who led the DART team, did a truly outstanding job getting things ready the past two days to reopen the center.”
Most of the impact was to the northern part of the center,” Cabana said. “In the Launch Complex 39 area, around the VAB (Vehicle Assembly Building).”
The survey found several buildings with roof panels that had been blown off.
“That resulted in water intrusion in those facilities,” Cabana said.
He also noted that some beach erosion took place near both Launch Pads 39 A and B.
“After (Hurricane) Sandy came through, it didn’t hit Florida, but it really did impact our beach here,” Cabana said. “But all the effort we put into rebuilding that dune worked perfect. The grass held it in place and the dune looks great.”
Crucial spacecraft processing buildings also were reported to be in good shape.
“The space Station Processing Facility, the Operations and Checkout Building and high bay where Orion was, were all fine inside — all looking good.”
Holl also expressed appreciation for the professionalism of both the Ride-out and DART teams.
“I’m really happy with the team I work with,” he said. “The DART Team is only called on when there is an emergency. We have to come onto the center not knowing the situation. Wayne Kee and the Ride-out Team confirmed it is safe for us to come out and later gave us their initial damage assessment.”
Holl explained the work of the DART team is simple, but crucial.
“The first thing you want to do is assess all the damage,” he said. “Then we go safe that damage, then we figure how we can get everybody back to work.”
Cabana pointed out that assistance came from many areas.
“I really appreciate everyone’s support throughout this whole ordeal,” he said. “I can’t say enough good things about the Kennedy NASA family and team in how they prepared for the hurricane, how we responded to it and the support we’ve received from headquarters and other NASA centers across the country.”
Getting Kennedy back to work is Cabana’s goal.
“Now we can get back to the business of being America’s premier spaceport,” he said, “heading out to our Journey to Mars.”
An ALL CLEAR has been declared for Kennedy Space Center, this message is applicable for KSC only.
KSC will be open for work Tuesday, October 11, 2016 at 6:00 a.m. and all KSC access gates will be open at that time.
All Center facilities have been inspected and are safe for personnel to return to work. Systems including communications, power, and air conditioning are functional; however, some facility systems remain in the recovery phase.
Since recovery operations are ongoing, personnel should use caution when returning to work.
There are no reported road closures; however, personnel are reminded to use caution nearing intersections with inoperative lights.
Mr. Bob Cabana will conduct a media engagement at the KSC Press Site Tuesday, October 11, 2016 at 12:30 p.m. A media advisory will be sent out Tuesday morning. A list of damaged buildings and equipment will available at this briefing.