Hurricane Matthew Has Passed Offshore From Cape Canaveral

9:45 a.m. EDT – Hurricane Matthew has now passed offshore from Cape Canaveral and is north of Kennedy Space Center.  The wind is starting to decline but remains near tropical storm strength.  However, until the wind is consistently below 50 knots a crew cannot be sent outside to begin a more thorough look at KSC. That is expected sometime this afternoon.  At this time there is observed to be limited roof damage to KSC facilities, water and electrical utilities services have been disrupted and there is scattered debris. Storm surge has been observed to be relatively minimal, limited to localized portions of the space center. The Damage Assessment and Recovery Team will be brought in for its formal assessment Saturday morning.

Matthew Approaching KSC; No Major Damage Reported Yet

Hurricane Matthew is passing Cape Canaveral and Kennedy Space Center at this time with sustained winds of 90 mph with gusts to 107 mph.  There are no reports of significant damage so far, mostly power outages around different parts of the space center.  The storm is expected to have passed the space center by 10:30 a.m. Tropical storm force winds are expected to continue until about 9:30 tonight.  The storm is passing the space center about 26 miles off the tip of Cape Canaveral.  Rainfall totals for the hurricane by the end of the storm are forecast to be 8-12 inches.  Storm surge models are somewhat lower than originally forecast, now from 1-5 feet in various locations.

KSC Prepares to Ride Out Matthew

Members of the NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida rideout team prepare for Hurricane Matthew in the emergency operations center in Kennedy's Launch Control Center on Oct. 6, 2016.
Members of the NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida rideout team prepare for Hurricane Matthew in the emergency operations center in Kennedy’s Launch Control Center on Oct. 6, 2016. Credit: NASA

The hurricane ride-out crew at Kennedy Space Center team is beginning its report to stations to prepare for Hurricane Matthew.  The number of ride out crew members has been adjusted slightly to 116.   All facilities at Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station have been secured. The most recent weather briefing shows tropical storm force winds beginning at Cape Canaveral tonight at midnight with hurricane force winds starting at starting about 6 a.m. The wind is expected to decline at approximately 4 p.m Friday and fall below tropical storm force early Saturday morning. Under the current storm track, peak winds are forecast to be 125 mph sustained with gusts to 150 mph, however a shift in the track even slightly could improve the wind forecast somewhat.

Kennedy Space Center Closed Oct. 5-6

The Kennedy Space Center is closed today, Oct. 6, and Friday for Hurricane Matthew.  Kennedy Space Center is now in HurrCon 1 status, meaning a hurricane is imminent.  Hurricane preparations at Kennedy were completed early last night, and remaining employees were then sent home. A final check is being made this morning around the space center for any potential loose debris.  The hurricane ride-out team will report for duty at 3 p.m. today in the major buildings and facilities at KSC.  During the storm they will report any significant events to the Emergency Operations Center, located in the Launch Control Center at Complex 39.  They can also take any action needed to stabilize the situation and keep the facility secure. There will be 139 people on the ride-out team at locations around KSC.  After the hurricane has passed and winds have dropped below 50 knots (approximately 58 mph), damage around the space center will be assessed and the Damage Assessment and Recovery Team will then report for duty. Tropical storm force winds are expected at Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral late this evening followed by hurricane force winds early Friday morning.

Kennedy Space Center Closing in Advance of Hurricane Matthew

NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida is closing at 1 p.m. EDT today, Wednesday, Oct. 5, due to the approach of Hurricane Matthew. Across the spaceport, essential personnel are preparing facilities for the storm’s arrival. Hurricane Matthew is expected to make its closest approach to the Cape Canaveral/Kennedy area overnight Thursday and into Friday morning, bringing with it the potential for heavy rain, storm surge and hurricane-force winds. Once the storm has passed, center facilities and infrastructure will be assessed and employees will be cleared to return when it is safe to do so.

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex will be closed on Thursday, October 6 and Friday, October 7. Visitor Complex officials anticipate reopening Saturday, Oct. 8 at 9 a.m. after a thorough assessment of the property has been completed.

RASSOR, MARCO POLO Demonstrate Resource Utilization on Mars

RASSOR delivers regolith simulant during an integrated test with MARCO POLO.An integrated test of the MARCO POLO/Mars Pathfinder in-situ resource utilization, or ISRU, system recently took place at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Demonstrations such as this one help scientists learn how to extract critical resources on site – even as far away as the Red Planet.

A mockup of MARCO POLO, an ISRU propellant production technology demonstration simulated mission, was tested in a regolith bin with RASSOR 2.0, the Regolith Advanced Surface Systems Operations Robot. RASSOR excavated regolith and delivered sand and gravel to a hopper and mock oven.

On the surface of Mars, mining robots like RASSOR will dig down into the regolith and take the material to a processing plant where usable elements such as hydrogen, oxygen and water can be extracted for life support systems. Regolith also shows promise for both construction and creating elements for rocket fuel.

Kennedy Team Briefed on Juno Mission Progress

NASA's Juno spacecraft captured this view as it closed in on Jupiter's north pole, about two hours before closest approach on Aug. 27, 2016. Since its arrival in orbit around Jupiter nearly three months ago, the Juno spacecraft already is impressing scientists with its observations of the gas giant. Employees at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida were briefed Sept. 20 on the status and the scientific promise of a mission many audience members helped launch a little more than five years ago.

NASA's Juno planetary probe, enclosed in its payload fairing, launches atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.“Of course, what we’re really after is to learn about Jupiter — which is helping us to learn about ourselves,” said Scott Bolton, principal investigator for Juno at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas.

Kennedy’s Launch Services Program led the successful launch of Juno aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. After some deep-space maneuvers in 2012 and an Earth flyby that provided a gravity assist in October 2013, Juno arrived at the largest planet in our solar system on July 4, 2016.

Jupiter was the first planet to form after the sun, Bolton explained. A better understanding of Jupiter’s makeup could help provide the “recipe” for a solar system.

“The stuff that Jupiter has more of than the sun — that’s what we are made of,” he explained.

Juno took 53 days to go around on the first orbit and it passed by Jupiter on Aug. 27 — this time for the first time with the science instruments on. The photo above was taken as Juno closed in on Jupiter’s north pole. Read more: Jupiter’s North Pole Unlike Anything Encountered in Solar System

After another 53 days, around Oct. 19, the spacecraft will perform its final burn to place Juno into a 14-day “science orbit” from which it will begin regularly mapping the gas giant.

Juno has come a long way since its departure from Earth.

“On Aug. 5, 2011, we launched from here. I’m so indebted to all of you, and everybody here at Kennedy who worked with you, because I realized when I got that close to it and was responsible for Juno just how difficult the launch was,” Bolton said.

“It is an immense amount of work and engineering challenge. What you do here is incredible.”

Juno will continue to orbit and study Jupiter until the spacecraft’s scheduled deorbit into the planet in February 2018.

Photo credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS (top), NASA/Tony Gray and Don Kight (right)

Navy Divers Rehearse Orion Underway Recovery at NASA’s Johnson Space Center

Divers train for Orion recovery in the Neutral Buoyancy Lab at Johnson Space Center in Houston.A group of U.S. Navy divers, Air Force pararescuemen and Coast Guard rescue swimmers are practicing Orion underway recovery techniques this week in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL) at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston to prepare for the first test flight of an uncrewed Orion spacecraft with the agency’s Space Launch System rocket during Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1).

Training in the NBL began Sept. 20 and will wrap up by Sept. 22.

A test version of the Orion spacecraft was lowered into the water in the NBL. Divers wearing scuba gear used ground support equipment and zodiac boats to swim or steer to the test spacecraft. They placed a flotation collar around Orion and practiced using the new tow cleat modifications that will allow the tether lines to be connected to the capsule. The tether lines are being used to simulate towing Orion into the well deck of a Navy recovery ship.

Training at the NBL will help the team prepare for Underway Recovery Test 5 (URT-5), which will be the first major integrated test in a series of tests to prepare the recovery team, hardware and operations to support EM-1 recovery.

The recovery team, engineers with NASA’s Ground Systems Development and Operations program and Orion manufacturer Lockheed Martin, are preparing for URT-5, which will take place in San Diego and aboard the USS San Diego in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California in October.

During EM-1, Orion will travel about 40,000 miles beyond the moon and return to Earth after a three-week mission to test the spacecraft’s systems and heat shield. Orion will travel through the radiation of the Van Allen Belts, descend through Earth’s atmosphere and splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.

Photo credit: NASA/James Blair

Paschen Project

UCF Wind Tunnel SetupKennedy Space Center’s Exploration Research and Technology Programs is collaborating with the University of Central Florida in Orlando on the Dynamic Paschen project, designed to evaluate how Paschen’s Law is affected if fluid is moving. Paschen’s Law describes the voltage necessary to create an arc through various gasses. The Dynamic Paschen project could play a role in the design of future planetary missions.

NASA researchers Dr. Michael Hogue and Rachel Cox are working with UCF graduate student Jaysen Mulligan on Dynamic Paschen. Initial data collection began last week, and the team now is collecting full data sets for the project. The team is varying both the speed of the air (ranging from Mach 3 to 4) and the gap distance between the electrodes (from 0.5 to 2.0 cm).

Experimental data from the Dynamic Paschen project will be used to validate theoretical models of changes to Paschen’s Law that take into account the flow of gas past charged surfaces. The team’s findings could provide insights into how breakdown voltage is affected by fast-moving air, and could help scientists better understand how static electricity in the air behaves when an aerospace vehicle moves through planetary atmospheres.

Photo credit: NASA

Second Half of D Platforms Installed for NASA’s Space Launch System

Second half of D-level platforms is installed in High Bay 3 of the Vehicle Assembly Building.A heavy-lift crane lowers the second half of the D-level work platforms, D north, for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, into position Sept. 9 for installation in High Bay 3 in the Vehicle Assembly Building at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The platform will be installed on the north side of the high bay. The D platforms are the seventh of 10 levels of work platforms that will surround and provide access to the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft for Exploration Mission 1. 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.

Photo credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky