NASA to Launch Small Satellites on Next SpaceX Cargo Mission

Middle schoolers are sending their science fair project to space, one of five CubeSats on a ride-share on a Commercial Resupply Services, CRS-25. The CapSat-1 team are three 7th-grade students from the Weiss School in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
Middle schoolers are sending their science fair project to space, one of five CubeSats on a ride-share on the 25th Commercial Resupply Services, CRS-25. The CapSat-1 team are three 7th-grade students from the Weiss School in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Photo credit: Weiss School

NASA’s Launch Services Program is preparing to send five CubeSats to the International Space Station as part of the ELaNa 45 (Educational Launch of Nanosatellites) mission aboard SpaceX’s 25th Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-25) mission for NASA. Liftoff is scheduled for June 7 from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The small satellites were selected through NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative, which provides low-cost access to space for U.S. educational institutions, NASA centers, and others to develop and demonstrate novel technologies in space and to inspire and grow the next generation of scientists, engineers, and technologists.

The CubeSats were developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; The Weiss School in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida; NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California; Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida; and the University of South Alabama in Mobile. The CubeSats will be deployed from the space station.

NASA has selected over 200 CubeSat missions from more than 100 unique organizations representing 42 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico through the CubeSat Launch Initiative since 2010. To date, 134 CubeSat missions have launched into space through ELaNa rideshare opportunities.

NASA’s Psyche Spacecraft Arrives at Kennedy

NASA's Psyche spacecraft arrives at Kennedy Space Center's Launch and Landing Facility in Florida.
Preparations are underway to offload NASA’s Psyche spacecraft from the C-17 aircraft it arrived aboard at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch and Landing Facility in Florida on April 29, 2022. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

The Psyche spacecraft completed its journey from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. First, it traveled to March Air Reserve Base, about 55 miles southeast of JPL, before flying cross-country aboard a C-17 aircraft to the Launch and Landing Facility (formerly the Shuttle Landing Facility) where crews offloaded the spacecraft. Over the next three months, the spacecraft will undergo additional preparations before launching aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket on Aug. 1.

The Psyche spacecraft will use solar-electric propulsion to travel approximately 1.5 billion miles (2.4 billion kilometers) to rendezvous with its namesake asteroid in 2026. This will make it the first spacecraft to use Hall-effect thrusters beyond the orbit of the Moon. This thruster technology traps electrons in a magnetic field and uses them to ionize onboard propellant, expending much less propellant than equivalent chemical rockets. Psyche also carries three scientific instruments: an imager, magnetometer, and a gamma ray and neutron spectrometer.

The unique, metal-rich Psyche asteroid may be part of the core of a planetesimal, a building block of rocky planets in our solar system. Learning more about the asteroid could tell us more about how our own planet formed and help answer fundamental questions about Earth’s own metal core and the formation of our solar system.

The launch of Psyche will include two secondary payloads, NASA’s Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) technical demonstration, which is attached to the spacecraft as a separate experiment and the Janus spacecraft. DSOC will perform the agency’s first demonstration of optical communications beyond the Earth-Moon system, and will use lasers to send data at a higher rate than typical spacecraft radio communications. Janus is two small spacecraft that will study two different binary asteroids (two asteroids that orbit each other) to understand the formation and evolution of these objects.

The Psyche mission is led by Arizona State University. JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, is responsible for mission’s overall management, system engineering, integration and testing, and mission operations. Maxar Technologies in Palo Alto, California, provided the high-power solar electric propulsion spacecraft chassis. NASA’s Launch Services Program (LSP), based at Kennedy, is managing the launch. Psyche will be the 14th mission in the agency’s Discovery program and LSP’s 100th primary mission. Numerous international, university, and commercial partners are part of the Psyche team.

For more information check out the mission website.

GOES-T Separates from Spacecraft, Continues on Journey to Save Lives

GOES-T liftoff on a ULA rocket
A joint effort between NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the GOES-T satellite will be positioned to watch over the western contiguous United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico, Central America, and the Pacific Ocean. Liftoff occurred at 4:38 p.m. EST from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41 in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Following completion of a third planned start and then cutoff of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V 541 Centaur main engine, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-T (GOES-T) satellite separated from the spacecraft and is continuing on its journey to help meteorologists observe and predict local weather events, including thunderstorms, tornadoes, fog, hurricanes, flash floods and other severe weather.

In addition, GOES observations have proven helpful in monitoring dust storms, volcanic eruptions, and forest fires.

“That is what it’s all about – when we get to the spacecraft separation. It’s years of work going into that one event,” said NASA Launch Director Tim Dunn. “Today, we were blessed with a smooth and successful countdown.”

A joint effort between NASA and NOAA, GOES-T will be renamed GOES-18 once it reaches geostationary orbit, replacing GOES-17 as GOES West. It will be positioned to watch over the western contiguous United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico, Central America, and the Pacific Ocean. The satellite will be ideally located to monitor weather systems and hazards that most affect this region of the Western Hemisphere.

GOES-T is about the size of a small school bus and weighs more than 6,000 pounds. Liftoff, aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 541 rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41 in Florida, occurred right at the top of the two-hour launch window, at 4:38 p.m. EST. All milestones were successfully reached – from liftoff through spacecraft separation.

The launch was managed by NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

This concludes today’s live coverage of GOES-T launch day activities. To learn more about the GOES Satellite Network or to meet members of the GOES-T team, click here.

Main Engine Restart, Cutoff Executed

GOES-T mission logoThe United Launch Alliance Atlas V 541 Centaur main engine successfully restarted and then cut off again just a few minutes later as the GOES-T mission heads into a planned coast phase.

This will last approximately three hours, after which the Centaur main engine will start and then cut off for a third – and final – time.

Check out continuing coverage on NASA TV, the NASA app, or the agency’s website. Check back here for a live report on GOES-T’s separation from the rocket.

Main Engine Cutoff, First-Stage Separation

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V 541 rocket is shown carrying NOAA’s GOES-T satellite. Photo Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Have you ever wondered what the three numbers (541) on United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V 541 rocket stand for? The numbers signify a payload fairing, or nose cone, that is approximately 5 meters (16.4 feet) in diameter; 4 solid-rocket boosters fastened alongside the central common core booster; and a 1-engine Centaur upper stage.

Just an interesting fact to throw in while we announce main engine cutoff (MECO) has occurred and the first stage has separated from the rocket. Coming up next, in about 10 minutes, will be Centaur main engine start #2, followed by main engine cutoff #2 about five minutes later.

Liftoff! NOAA’s GOES-T Soars Into the Space Coast Sky

GOES-T liftoff
GOES-T lifts off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41 at 4:38 p.m. EST on Tuesday, March 1, 2022. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

3, 2, 1 … LIFTOFF! The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-T (GOES-T) satellite spacecraft lights up the late afternoon Florida sky as it roars off the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on a joint effort with NASA to help meteorologists observe and predict local weather events.

Stay right here on the blog, or tune in to NASA TV, the NASA app, or the agency’s website to watch the spacecraft and rocket eclipse more launch milestones. Live coverage continues through GOES-T spacecraft separation at approximately 8:30 this evening. The next milestone is main engine cutoff, or MECO, coming in about 10 minutes.

Final ‘Go’ Given for GOES-T Launch

GOES-T mission
The GOES-T mission has recieved the final ‘go’ for launch from NASA Launch Director Tim Dunn. Photo credit: NASA

NASA Launch Director Tim Dunn gives the final ‘go’ for NOAA’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-T (GOES-T) launch!

The skies on Florida’s Space Coast soon will be alight as the United Launch Alliance Atlas V 541 rocket’s Centaur engines fire up to launch the mission into space.

NOAA’s GOES-T Mission Nears Liftoff

GOES-T at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station
GOES-T liftoff, aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 541 rocket from Canaveral Space Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41, is set for 4:38 p.m. EST. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

In just about 15 minutes, the United Launch Alliance Atlas V 541 rocket engines will roar to life, sending NOAA’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-T (GOES-T) satellite into space.

Excitement is building as the mission nears launch. A joint effort between NASA and NOAA, GOES-T will help meteorologists observe and predict local weather events, including thunderstorms, tornadoes, fog, hurricanes, flash floods and other severe weather.

If you’re just joining us, liftoff – aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 541 rocket from Canaveral Space Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41 – is set for 4:38 p.m. EST. Stay right here, or tune in to NASA TV, the NASA app, or the agency’s website for continuing coverage.

Weather Outlook Solid, GOES-T on Target for 4:38 p.m. EST Launch

GOES-T mission logoThe weather outlook for today’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-T (GOES-T) satellite launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station remains positive. Weather officials with the Space Force Station’s 45th Weather Squadron predict an 80% chance of favorable conditions for liftoff from Space Launch Complex 41.

The launch, which is managed by NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, is targeted for 4:38 p.m. EST. There is a two-hour launch window.

“Liftoff winds are going to be our primary concern with a smaller concern coming from some of those passing cumulus clouds,” said Arlena Moses, launch weather officer with the 45th Weather Squadron.

NASA’s Live Launch Day Coverage Has Begun!

Tune in to NASA TV, the NASA app, or the agency’s website, starting now for launch day commentary, interviews, and everything you need to know about the launch of today’s GOES-T mission.

You can also stay right here for blog updates throughout today’s launch day milestones. Liftoff, aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 541 rocket, is set for 4:38 p.m. EST from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s Launch Complex 41.