New work platforms being installed in Kennedy Space Center’s Vehicle Assembly Building will provide access for testing and processing NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. The rocket will launch an uncrewed Orion spacecraft on Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1) from Launch Pad 39B at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. SLS will be capable of launching crewed missions to deep space destinations, including the journey to Mars.
A new fact sheet provides details about these giant steel platforms and how they will accommodate the most powerful rocket in the world. Read more at
NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft arrived at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Friday evening aboard an Air Force C-17 cargo aircraft.
OSIRIS-REx stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security – Regolith Explorer. This will be the first U.S. mission to sample an asteroid, retrieve at least two ounces of surface material and return it to Earth for study. The asteroid, Bennu, may hold clues to the origin of the solar system and the source of water and organic molecules found on Earth.
Tucked inside a shipping container, the spacecraft traveled from Lockheed Martin’s facility near Denver, Colorado to Kennedy’s Shuttle Landing Facility. It was carefully offloaded from the aircraft and transported to the spaceport’s Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility to begin processing for its upcoming launch, targeted for Sept. 8 aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.
Photo credits: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis (top) and NASA/Bill White (right)
The spacecraft that will perform NASA’s Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security – Regolith Explorer mission, known as OSIRIS-REx, will arrive at Kennedy Space Center from Buckley Air Force Base near Denver on May 20 aboard an Air Force C-17 at the Shuttle Landing Facility.
OSIRIS-REx will come out of the shipping container May 21, go onto a rotation fixture on May 23, have a spin test May 24-25. It then will be hoisted onto a dolly May 26 for other upcoming activities. A partial solar array deployment test is scheduled on May 31.
OSIRIS-Rex is scheduled to launch Sept. 8 at 7:05 p.m. EDT. As planned, the spacecraft will reach its near-Earth asteroid target, called Bennu (formerly 1999 RQ36), in 2018. Once within three miles of the asteroid, the spacecraft will begin six months of comprehensive surface mapping.
The science team then will pick a location where the spacecraft’s arm will take a sample. The spacecraft gradually will move closer to the site, and the arm will extend to collect a 2.1-ounce sample for return to Earth in 2023. The mission will help scientists investigate how planets formed and how life began, as well as improve our understanding of asteroids that could impact Earth.
Bennu is about 1,640 feet in diameter or roughly the size of five football fields. The asteroid, a little altered over time, is likely to represent a snapshot of our solar system’s infancy.
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center provides overall mission management, systems engineering, and safety and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx. Dante Lauretta is the principal investigator at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver built the spacecraft. OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA’s New Frontiers Program. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages New Frontiers for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C.
Teams of undergraduate and graduate students from throughout the nation have gathered at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida to demonstrate their excavator robots during the 2016 Robotic Mining Competition. In the photo above, a participant uncrates his team’s robot to prepare for practice runs and competition.
The RMC is set up for college students to design and build a mining robot that can travel over a simulated Martian surface, excavate regolith — or Mars dirt — and deposit as much of it as possible into a bin, all within 10 minutes. Team members may control their bots remotely from a trailer where their only line of sight is via a computer screen, or completely autonomously, with their programming skills put to the test as their robot handles the mission on its own. The competition focuses on technologies necessary to extract consumables such as oxygen and water to support human life and provide methane fuel to spacecraft.
Visit the Robotic Mining Competition website for more information on the competitors, sponsors and event schedule (subject to change).
Photo credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis
The upper dome of a Boeing CST-100 Starliner is lowered onto the lower dome May 2, completing the first hull of the Starliner’s Structural Test Article. Identical to the operational Starliners Boeing plans to build and fly in partnership with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, the Structural Test Article is not meant to ever fly in space but rather to prove the manufacturing methods and overall ability of the spacecraft to handle the demands of spaceflight carrying astronauts to the International Space Station.
The work was performed inside the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It is the first spacecraft to come together inside the former shuttle hangar since shuttle Discovery was moved out of the facility following its retirement and move to the Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy Center near Washington, D.C., in 2012. You can watch Boeing’s video about the spacecraft’s manufacturing here.
Photo credit: Boeing
Engineers and technicians on the Test and Operations Support Contract go over procedures with liquid hydrogen (LH2) provider PRAXAIR April 28 to prepare for a fit check of the new LH2 transfer flex hose at Launch Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. LH2 provider PRAXAIR connected the transfer flex hose from its LH2 truck to the LH2 tanker to confirm that the hose fits and functions properly. The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program is overseeing upgrades and modifications to Pad 39B to support processing of the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft for Exploration Mission 1 and NASA’s journey to Mars.
Photo credit: NASA/Frankie Martin
For the first time, one of the new work platforms in High Bay 3 inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida was powered on. Lights illuminate one half of the J-level platforms as the platform is extended. A preliminary test of both J platforms was completed April 28 to verify each platform’s push chain system, roller system and electrical connections. The J-level platforms are located about 112 feet above the floor, or nearly 11 stories high. The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program is overseeing upgrades and modifications to VAB High Bay 3 to support processing of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft. 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.
Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
Preparations are under way for the 2017 launch of the Joint Polar Satellite System spacecraft. The United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket booster and protective payload fairing arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in early April.
The booster was uncrated from its shipping container April 4 (above) in Vandenberg’s Building 836 and placed onto a transporter (right) for the drive to Space Launch Complex 2 on April 5. The two halves of the payload fairing arrived April 6 (below).
The Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) is the United States’ next-generation polar-orbiting operational environmental satellite system. JPSS is a collaborative program between NOAA and NASA.
Photo credits: NASA/Randy Beaudoin (above, right) and NASA/Joshua Seybert (below)
With its image reflected in the water, a heavy load transport truck proceeds along the road to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 26, carrying the first half of the E-level work platforms, E South, for the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. The platform will be delivered to the VAB staging area in the west parking lot. 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. 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.
Photo credit: NASA/Cory Huston
A construction worker with J.P. Donovan of Rockledge, Florida, installs new heat-resistant bricks around one of the overpressure water system pipes on the north side of the flame trench at Launch Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Pad B flame trench is being refurbished to support the launch of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket.
The Ground Systems Development and Operations (GSDO) Program at Kennedy is helping transform the space center into a multi-user spaceport and prepare for Exploration Mission 1, deep-space missions, and the journey to Mars. For more information about GSDO, visit https://www.nasa.gov/groundsystems. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett