Kennedy Buzzing with Activity During Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Week

Apollo 11 liftoff
Kennedy Space Center will host multiple programs as part of the 50th anniversary celebration of the Apollo 11 mission. Photo credit: NASA

The Apollo 11 mission, which landed the first two humans on the Moon, remains one of mankind’s most impressive achievements. To honor that historic event on its 50th anniversary, several activities are taking place at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, including multiple shows on NASA TV and the agency’s website:

Apollo 11 patchTuesday, July 16:
Astronaut Michael Collins, who served on that historic mission in July 1969, will start the day with a visit to the Astronaut Crew Quarters in Kennedy’s Neil Armstrong Operations & Checkout Building before participating in the day’s televised events.

From 9:15 to 10 a.m. EDT, Collins will speak with Kennedy Director Bob Cabana at Pad 39A, the site of the July 16, 1969, launch. Cabana was the commander of STS-88, the first International Space Station assembly mission, which celebrated its 20th anniversary on Dec. 10, 2018.

Friday, July 19:
Tune in to a pair of special live broadcasts from Kennedy’s Apollo/Saturn V Center. The first, an Apollo 11 show titled “NASA’s Giant Leaps: Past and Future,” is from 1 to 3 p.m. EDT. It will honor the heroes of Apollo, and examine NASA’s future plans, including the Artemis missions that are part of the agency’s Moon and Mars human space exploration. That will be followed by a program titled “STEM Forward to the Moon” from 3 to 3:30 p.m. EDT, featuring kids across the nation participating in Moon landing simulations and other activities.

Remember to tune in to NASA TV and the agency’s website for the special Apollo 11 coverage.

NASA Gearing up for July 2 Morning Ascent Abort-2 Flight Test

Prelaunch news conference for the Ascent Abort-2 flight test
From left, Derrol Nail, NASA Communications, moderates a prelaunch news conference on July 1, 2019, for the agency’s Ascent Abort-2 (AA-2) flight test, with Jenny Devolites, AA-2 Crew Module manager; Mark Kirasich, Orion Program manager; and Randy Bresnik, NASA astronaut, at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

With weather at 80 percent go for launch and everything proceeding as planned, optimism and enthusiasm were high at Monday morning’s Ascent Abort-2 flight test preview news conference at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

“We are incredibly excited,” said Jenny Devolites, Ascent Abort-2 crew module manager and test conductor. “It’s such an honor to be a part of this activity and to have this opportunity.”

The Ascent Abort-2 flight test of the launch abort system for NASA’s Orion spacecraft, featuring a test version of the crew module, will lift off from Space Launch Complex 46 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Tuesday, July 2. The four-hour launch window opens at 7 a.m. EDT. NASA TV will broadcast launch activities, starting at 6:40 a.m. A postlaunch briefing is  scheduled for approximately two hours after launch. Audio of this briefing will stream live on the agency’s website.

Orion will help pave the way for Artemis missions with astronauts to the Moon and then Mars.

“This test is extremely important,” said Mark Kirasich, Orion program manager. “Our Launch Abort System is a key safety feature of the spacecraft — it will protect the crew members who fly onboard Orion during the most challenging part of the mission, which is the ascent phase.”

Ascent Abort-2 will verify Orion’s abort system can pull the crew module away from an emergency during its ascent to space. The two main objectives: execute the abort by demonstrating it can be completed end to end, and collect key data. There are approximately 900 sensors — including temperature sensors, pressure sensors and microphones —located throughout the vehicle.

At liftoff, the booster will provide about 500,000 pounds of thrust. It will take 55 seconds to ascend to 31,000 feet, traveling more than 800 mph, at which point the abort will be initiated and the abort motor will ignite. Also igniting will be the attitude control motor, which provides steering.

Twenty-seven seconds after the abort, the jettison motor will ignite, pulling away the Launch Abort System from the crew module. The crew module will then free-fall and descend back to the ocean. As a backup communication system, 12 ejectable data recorders eject into the water in pairs. The highest altitude reached will be about 45,000 feet.

“It’s certainly a very exciting test for us tomorrow because it is so important,” NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik said. “The neat part is the next time this whole Launch Abort System flies, there will be crew underneath it in Artemis 2.”

Preview News Conference for Ascent Abort-2 Flight Test Today at 11:30 a.m. EDT

AA-2 mission patchNASA will host a preview news conference for the Ascent Abort-2 flight test of the launch abort system for NASA’s Orion spacecraft at 11:30 a.m. Monday, July 1, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The flight test will help pave the way for Artemis missions with astronauts to the Moon and then Mars.

The launch and preview news conference will air on NASA TV and the agency’s website. Participants include:

  • Mark Kirasich, Orion program manager
  • Jenny Devolites, Ascent Abort-2 test conductor
  • Randy Bresnik, NASA astronaut

The blog will feature highlights from the preview news conference.

The AA-2 flight test’s four-hour launch window opens at 7 a.m. EDT Tuesday, July 2. A test version of the crew module will launch from Space Launch Complex 46 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. NASA TV coverage will begin at 6:40 a.m.

Students Show off Plant Research at Symposium in Miami

Trent Smith, left, and Gioia Massa give a talk on Veggie at the Student Research Symposium in Miami on April 27, 2019. Photo credit: NASA/Dinah Dimapilis
Trent Smith, left, and Gioia Massa give a talk on Veggie at the Student Research Symposium in Miami on April 27, 2019. Photo credit: NASA/Dinah Dimapilis

By Rachel Cox
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

Students from around the country convened with NASA scientists in Miami for the Student Research Symposium on April 27 as part of the Growing Beyond Earth program, a partnership between NASA and the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.

Growing Beyond Earth is an educational outreach and citizen science program that reaches over 170 middle and high schools from Florida, Colorado and Puerto Rico. NASA’s Kennedy Space Center plant production scientists Gioia Massa and Trent Smith train teachers, who then receive plant growth chambers that mimic Veggie, the space garden residing on the International Space Station.

Students and teachers listen to Ray Wheeler discuss the history of plant research for space. Photo credit: NASA/Dinah Dimapilis
Students and teachers listen to Ray Wheeler discuss the history of plant research for space. Photo credit: NASA/Dinah Dimapilis

In the fall, students set up their plant growth chambers and conduct experiments designed by Fairchild in conjunction with Kennedy.

“Every year, it’s something different,” Massa explained. “Last year, they were looking at photoperiod, how plants respond to different durations of light. This year, they’re looking at the neighbor effect, how different plants influence each other by growing next to each other.”

Since the beginning of the program, students have tested approximately 130 plant varieties under different conditions. Some schools are in high humidity areas, like Puerto Rico, while others have low humidity, like Colorado. Sometimes students overwater their plants; other times they forget. Sometimes the power goes out over the weekend. Plants that do well across these different environments make good candidates for space.

Both middle and high schools participate in new crop testing. But after getting a good grasp on the system in the fall, high school students can take it a step further and design independent experiments in the spring. These projects were the focus of the Miami symposium; 34 high schools presented their independent research, plus 17 middle schools presented their work on new crop testing.

“We had the students testing some really creative things,” Massa said. One project looked at using nitrogen-fixing bacteria in the substrate. Another 3D printed different containers.

The students created scientific posters, just like a NASA scientist would for a conference, with sections for the abstract, introduction, materials, results, conclusion and references. Fairchild printed out the posters, and the students presented them. Then Massa and her colleagues judged them on their poster, the quality of their project and presentation, the significance to NASA and how well they understood it.

Twelve Kennedy employees supported the event, including Bryan Onate, chief of the Life Sciences and Utilization Division, and Josie Burnett, director of Exploration Research and Technology Programs, along with plant production scientists and interns. Massa, Smith and Ray Wheeler gave talks to the students about Veggie and plant space research.

Dragon Cargo Spacecraft Berthed to Station

Two days after its launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft was installed on the Earth-facing side of the International Space Station’s Harmony module on Monday, May 6, at 9:32 a.m. EDT.

The 17th contracted commercial resupply mission from SpaceX (CRS-17) delivered more than 5,500 pounds of research, crew supplies and hardware to the orbiting laboratory. After Dragon spends approximately one month attached to the space station, the spacecraft will return to Earth with about 4,200 pounds of cargo and research.

Keep up to date with the latest news from the crew living in space by following https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/, @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, and the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Dragon Spacecraft Captured at 7:01 a.m. EDT

While the International Space Station was traveling over the north Atlantic Ocean, astronauts David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency and Nick Hague of NASA grappled Dragon at 7:01 a.m. EDT using the space station’s robotic arm Canadarm2.

Ground controllers will now send commands to begin the robotic installation of the spacecraft on bottom of the station’s Harmony module. NASA Television coverage of installation is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Watch online at www.nasa.gov/live.

The Dragon lifted off on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida Saturday, May 4 with more than 5,500 pounds of research, equipment, cargo and supplies that will support dozens of investigations aboard the orbiting laboratory.

Here’s some of the research arriving at station:

NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3 (OCO-3) examines the complex dynamics of Earth’s atmospheric carbon cycle by collecting measurements to track variations in a specific type of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Understanding carbon sources can aid in forecasting increased atmospheric heat retention and reduce its long-term risks.

The Photobioreactor investigation aims to demonstrate how microalgae can be used together with existing life support systems on the space station to improve recycling of resources. The cultivation of microalgae for food, and as part of a life support system to generate oxygen and consume carbon dioxide, could be helpful in future long-duration exploration missions, as it could reduce the amount of consumables required from Earth.

Keep up to date with the latest news from the crew living in space by following https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/, @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, and the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

CRS-17 Liftoff No Earlier Than Friday, May 3, at 3:11 EDT

NASA and SpaceX are targeting no earlier than Friday, May 3, for the launch of the company’s 17th commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station. Launch is scheduled for 3:11 a.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

On April 29, the space station team identified an issue with one of the station’s Main Bus Switching Units (MBSU) that distributes power to two of the eight power channels on the station. There are no immediate concerns for the crew or the station.

Flight controllers are scheduled to perform a series of maneuvers to robotically swap the failed MSBU for a spare on Wednesday, May 1 and Thursday, May 2. After the swap is complete, flight controllers will conduct a series of checkouts on the newly installed MBSU and take steps to return the station to full power capability to support SpaceX capture and berthing.

SpaceX CRS-17 Launch No Earlier Than Friday, May 3

CRS-17 is SpaceX's 17th Commercial Resupply Services Mission to the International Space Station. It will launch from from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station no earlier than Friday, May 3. Photo credit: SpaceX image
CRS-17 is SpaceX’s 17th Commercial Resupply Services Mission to the International Space Station. It will launch from from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station no earlier than Friday, May 3. Photo credit: SpaceX image

NASA has requested SpaceX move off from May 1 for the launch of the company’s 17th commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station.

On April 29, the space station team identified an issue with one of the station’s Main Bus Switching Units that distributes power to two of the eight power channels on the station. There are no immediate concerns for the crew or the station. Teams are working on a plan to robotically replace the failed unit and restore full power to the station system. Additional information will be provided as it becomes available. The earliest possible launch opportunity is no earlier than Friday, May 3.

SpaceX Targeting Wednesday, May 1 at 3:59 EDT for CRS-17 Launch

The two-stage Falcon 9 launch vehicle lifts off Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station during SpaceX’s 16th commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station on Dec. 5, 2018. SpaceX is targeting Wednesday, May 1, at 3:59 EDT for its CRS-17 mission launch. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
The two-stage Falcon 9 launch vehicle lifts off Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station during SpaceX’s 16th commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station on Dec. 5, 2018. SpaceX is targeting Wednesday, May 1, at 3:59 EDT for its CRS-17 mission launch. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

NASA’s commercial cargo provider SpaceX is targeting 3:59 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, May 1, for the launch of its 17th resupply mission to the International Space Station after successful completion of its static fire engine test. Packed with more than 5,500 pounds of research, crew supplies and hardware, the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft will launch on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Follow along with the coverage of the SpaceX CRS-17 mission with prelaunch events on NASA Television and at www.nasa.gov/live.

  • Monday, April 29 at 10:30 a.m. — What’s On Board science briefing
  • Tuesday, April 30 at 1 p.m. — Prelaunch news conference
  • Wednesday, May 1 at 3:30 a.m. — NASA TV launch coverage

Learn more about station activities by following @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Employees Gain Insight During Earth Day Lunch and Learns

Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Officer Jeff Sidor presents information on FWC’s Port K9 Program to Kennedy Space Center employees in the Space Station Processing Facility Conference Center on April 23, 2019 with FWC K9 Harry.
Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Officer Jeff Sidor presents information on FWC’s Port K9 Program to Kennedy Space Center employees in the Space Station Processing Facility Conference Center on April 23, 2019. Officer Sidor brought a special K9, Harry, to demonstrate how FWC is using specially trained dogs in airports, seaports and mail facilities to detect illegal and invasive fish and wildlife species shipping into Florida. The demonstration involved Harry distinguishing which box, among many, contained a turtle shell. This lunch and learn was available for employees to attend as part of Kennedy’s Earth Day events. Photo credit: NASA/Cory Huston

Two lunch and learns, held April 23 and April 24 in support of Earth Day, provided Kennedy Space Center employees with the opportunity to learn more about wildlife and protecting our planet’s natural environment.

Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's (FWC) Port K9 Harry demonstrates how FWC is using specially trained dogs in airports, seaports, and mail facilities to detect illegal and invasive fish and wildlife species shipping into Florida.
Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Port K9 Harry demonstrates how FWC is using specially trained dogs in airports, seaports, and mail facilities to detect illegal and invasive fish and wildlife species shipping into Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Cory Huston

Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Officer Jeff Sidor brought a K9, Harry, for a demonstration on how FWC is using specially trained dogs in airports, seaports and mail facilities to detect illegal and invasive fish and wildlife species shipping into Florida. Since the program’s inception in 2012, it has now grown to include 12 investigators and five canines.

Canine Harry went through about an 18-week training program in which he learned to detect six different odors. He can alert on saltwater, conch, lobster, reptiles, red snapper filets and ivory, and he has been a part of the program for three-and-a-half years.

Officer Sidor has three years left in the program before he plans to retire with Harry. “It’s the best thing that I’ve done,” he said. “It’s amazing. The dog is awesome, and we’re going to retire together.”

Sally Scalera, urban horticulture agent and master gardener coordinator from the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Brevard Extension Office, shows Kennedy Space Center employees some sustainable yard products available during her presentation on tips and tricks for a healthy yard and garden on April 24, 2019. Photo credit: NASA/Cory Huston
Sally Scalera, urban horticulture agent and master gardener coordinator from the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Brevard Extension Office, shows Kennedy Space Center employees some sustainable yard products available during her presentation on tips and tricks for a healthy yard and garden on April 24, 2019. Photo credit: NASA/Cory Huston

Also available for employees was a presentation on Florida-friendly landscaping. Sally Scalera, urban horticulture agent and master gardener coordinator from the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Brevard Extension Office, shared some sustainable tips and tricks for a healthy yard and garden.

The first step is ensuring your soil is healthy, which in turn will help with water quality and produce healthy plants. Scalera covered multiple ways to increase soil health, including utilizing organic yard matter – such as leaves, twigs and grass clippings – as an alternative to purchasing compost, growing a variety of plants together for the different root systems to provide food for the soil, and using organic fertilizer as much as possible, among others.

Integrating sustainable landscaping practices and choosing the right plants for Florida’s environment can help protect our water resources from pollution, reduce overall water consumption and decrease the amount of fertilizer and pesticides needed for plant life to thrive.

The presentations held at Kennedy further promoted environmental awareness at the Florida spaceport and educated employees on a number of changes we can apply to further protect our home planet.