Kennedy Pushes the Boundaries of Innovation During Employee Event

Kennedy Space Center innovator Sherry O'Brien
Sherry O’Brien proudly displays her first-place check in the No Cost Proposal Awards category from Kennedy Space Center’s Innovation Without Boundaries competition. Photo credit: NASA

Eleven Kennedy Space Center employees in two different categories were selected as winners in the 2021 KSC Innovation Without Boundaries competition. Winning proposals spanned a wide range of topics, including cryogenic fixtures, multi-chargers for emergency communications, and a space chili challenge.

“It was amazing to see the passion the employees have,” said Innovation Lead Hetal Miranda. “Their creative ideas are inspiring innovation at KSC.”

Kennedy Space center innovator Jaime Toro Medina
Kennedy Space Center engineer Jaime Toro Medina poses with his first-place check from the Innovation Without Boundaries Award event. Photo credit: NASA

Sponsored by Kennedy chief technologist Kathy Loftin, the Innovation Without Boundaries campaign is in its third year. The competition took place in person at Kennedy in 2018 and 2019 and was held virtually in 2021 due to concerns with COVID-19. Presentations were made in November and winners were announced in December.

Kennedy Space Center innovator Nicolas Donahue
Nicolas Donahue stands in front of Kennedy’s Vehicle Assembly Building with his second-place award. Photo credit: NASA

The event featured six winners in the “No Cost Proposal Awards” category (ideas that could make a significant impact with little-to-no associated cost needed to implement) and five winners in the “Small Project Award” category (ideas that would require funding up to $20,000). Contestants made presentations before a panel of judges, who were permitted time to ask questions about the proposals. Judges made recommendations to the chief technologist, who made the final determinations.

 

Here are the winners in the No Cost Proposal Awards category:

  • First place, tie: Jaime Toro Medina (NASA Engineering) – KSC National Instrument Center of Excellence
  • First place, tie: Sherry O’Brien (TOSC contract) – Scanning part tags used for flight processing into Solumina
  • Second place, tie: Ian Rook (NASA Engineering) – Adjustable window frame prototype for optical testing
  • Second place, tie: Nicolas Donahue (TOSC contract) – Cryogenic valve tuning fixtures
  • Third place, tie: Athela Frandsen (NASA Engineering) – Multi-chargers for sustained communications during emergency lockdowns
  • Third place, tie: Kimberly Phillips (KLXS III contract) – Program model number tool upgrade

Here are the winners in the Small Project Awards category:

  • Jacob Torres (LASSO contract) – Space chili grow a pepper plant challenge
  • David Miranda (NASA Exploration Research and Technology) – Remote collaboration tool
  • James Mantovani (NASA Exploration Research and Technology) – Advanced lunar array for regolith monitoring validation in the SwampWorks GMRO Lab BP-1 Test Facility
  • Thomas “Trey” Barnes (NASA Engineering) – Increasing capability of chemical analysis via sorbent pen technology
  • Misle Tessema (NASA Engineering) – Method development for determining wide range of low allow steel chemistry

“We want to encourage our KSC workforce – both civil servants and contractors – to be innovative with ideas that could not only impact their organizations, but KSC and NASA,” Hetal Miranda said. “Our goal is to continue to provide opportunities to bring these ideas forward through future Innovation Without Boundaries calls.”

Weather Holds at 30% Favorable, Prelaunch News Conference Set for Noon Today

Falcon 9 roll out for CRS-24
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket with Dragon spacecraft rolls out to Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Dec. 19, 2021, in preparation for launch. The agency’s 24th commercial resupply services mission, targeted for liftoff on Dec. 21, 2021 at 5:06 a.m. EST, will deliver new science investigations, supplies, and equipment to the crew on board the International Space Station. Photo credit: SpaceX

The weather forecast remains unchanged for the planned Tuesday, Dec. 21, launch of SpaceX’s 24th commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station for NASA.

Weather officials with Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s 45th Weather Squadron predict a 30% chance of favorable weather conditions for Tuesday’s targeted liftoff of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and the company’s Dragon spacecraft from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Less than favorable conditions are expected for the primary launch window early Tuesday morning, with the main concerns associated with this weather being the cumulus cloud rule, thick cloud layer rule, and surface electric field rule.

NASA commercial cargo provider SpaceX is targeting tomorrow at 5:06 a.m. EST, to launch its resupply services mission to the space station. The backup date for launch is Wednesday, Dec. 22, at 4:43 a.m. EST.

At noon today, NASA TV will broadcast a prelaunch news conference from the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for SpaceX’s 24th commercial resupply services mission. The event will feature representatives from NASA’s International Space Station Program, SpaceX, and the U.S. Space Force Space Launch Delta 45.

Participants include:

  • Joel Montalbano, manager for the International Space Station Program
  • Bob Dempsey, Acting Deputy Chief Scientist, International Space Station Program
  • Sarah Walker, director, Dragon mission management at SpaceX
  • Arlena Moses, launch weather officer, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s 45th Weather Squadron

Live launch coverage will air on NASA Television, the NASA app and the agency’s website, with prelaunch events starting Tuesday at 4:45 a.m. EST. Join us on the blog for live updates, or follow along on NASA TV or the agency’s website for the live launch broadcast.

Stay connected with the mission on social media and let people know you’re following the mission on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram by using the hashtags #Dragon and #NASASocial. Follow and tag these accounts:

Twitter: @NASA, @NASAKennedy, @NASASocial, @Space_Station, @ISS_Research, @ISS National Lab, @SpaceX
Facebook: NASA, NASAKennedy, ISS, ISS National Lab
Instagram: @NASA, @NASAKennedy, @ISS@ISSNationalLab, @SpaceX

SpaceX Falcon 9 Rolled to Launch Pad, Weather 30% Favorable for CRS-24 Launch

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket with Dragon spacecraft rolls out to Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Dec. 19, 2021, in preparation for launch. The agency’s 24th commercial resupply services mission, targeted for liftoff on Dec. 21, 2021 at 5:06 a.m. EST, will deliver new science investigations, supplies, and equipment to the crew on board the International Space Station.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket with Dragon spacecraft rolls out to Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Dec. 19, 2021, in preparation for launch. The company’s 24th commercial resupply services mission for NASA, targeted for liftoff on Dec. 21, 2021 at 5:06 a.m. EST, will deliver new science investigations, supplies, and equipment to the crew on board the International Space Station. Photo credit: SpaceX

NASA commercial cargo launch provider SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket – with the Dragon atop – was rolled out to the launch pad Sunday morning, Dec. 19, before being raised to a vertical position in preparation for Tuesday’s launch of SpaceX’s 24th commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station. Liftoff of the Falcon 9 is scheduled for 5:06 a.m. EST.

Weather officials with Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s 45th Weather Squadron now predict a 30% chance of favorable weather conditions for Tuesday’s launch, with the cumulous cloud, thick cloud layer, and surface electric field rules remaining the primary weather concerns.

Dragon will deliver a variety of NASA science investigations, including a protein crystal growth study that could improve how cancer treatment drugs are delivered to patients, a handheld bioprinter that could one day be used to print tissue directly onto wounds for faster healing, an investigation from the makers of Tide that examines detergent efficacy in microgravity, and investigations from the Student Payload Opportunity with Citizen Science (SPOCS) program.

About 12 minutes after launch, Dragon will separate from the Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage and begin a carefully choreographed series of thruster firings to reach the space station. Arrival to the station is planned for Wednesday, Dec. 22. Dragon will dock autonomously to the forward-facing port of the station’s Harmony module, with NASA astronauts Raja Chari and Thomas Marshburn monitoring operations from the station.

The spacecraft is expected to spend about a month attached to the orbiting outpost before it returns to Earth with research and return cargo, splashing down off the coast of Florida.

Tune in to NASA TV or the agency’s website for live coverage of mission activities, beginning Monday, Dec. 20, at noon with the prelaunch news conference. Live launch day coverage starts Tuesday at 4:45 a.m. EST.

Weather 40% Favorable for Tuesday’s SpaceX Cargo Resupply Launch

Weather officials with Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s 45th Weather Squadron predict a 40% chance of favorable weather conditions for Tuesday’s launch, with the cumulous cloud, thick cloud layer, and surface electric field rules being the primary weather concerns.

SpaceX is targeting Dec. 21, at 5:06 a.m. EST, to launch its 24th commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station for NASA. Liftoff will be from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft will deliver new science investigations, supplies, and equipment for the international crew.

Some of the NASA science investigations launching as part of Dragon’s 6,500 pounds of cargo include a protein crystal growth study that could improve how cancer treatment drugs are delivered to patients and a handheld bioprinter that could one day be used to print tissue directly onto wounds for faster healing. There are also experiments from students at several universities as part of the Student Payload Opportunity with Citizen Science (SPOCS) program and an investigation from the makers of Tide that examines detergent efficacy in microgravity.

Live coverage will air on NASA Television, the NASA app and the agency’s website, with prelaunch events starting Tuesday at 4:45 a.m. You can also join us here on the blog for live updates.

Stay connected with the mission on social media and let people know you’re following the mission on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram by using the hashtags #Dragon and #NASASocial. Follow and tag these accounts:

Twitter: @NASA, @NASAKennedy, @NASASocial, @Space_Station, @ISS_Research, @ISS National Lab, @SpaceX
Facebook: NASA, NASAKennedy, ISS, ISS National Lab
Instagram: @NASA, @NASAKennedy, @ISS@ISSNationalLab, @SpaceX

Launch Readiness Review Complete Ahead of 24th SpaceX Resupply Mission

CRS-23 Cargo Dragon
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, topped with the Dragon spacecraft, is seen inside the company’s hangar at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Aug. 24, 2021, prior to being rolled out to the launch pad in preparation for the 23rd commercial resupply services launch. The mission delivered science investigations, supplies, and equipment to the crew aboard the International Space Station. Photo credit: SpaceX

Joint teams from NASA and SpaceX have completed a launch readiness review ahead of the company’s 24th commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station for the agency. Liftoff is targeted for Tuesday, Dec. 21, at 5:06 a.m. EST from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and the live launch broadcast will begin at 4:45 a.m.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft have been mated inside the company’s hangar at Launch Complex 39A. Rollout to the launch pad is scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 19, when teams from SpaceX will then raise the Falcon 9 – with Dragon atop – into vertical position in preparation for launch.

Tune in on NASA Television, the NASA app, or the agency’s website at noon Monday, Dec. 20, for the prelaunch news conference from Kennedy’s Press Site with the following participants:

  • Joel Montalbano, manager, NASA’s International Space Station Program
  • Bob Dempsey, acting deputy chief scientist, NASA’s International Space Station Program
  • Sarah Walker, director, Dragon Mission Management, SpaceX
  • Arlena Moses, launch weather officer, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s 45th Weather Squadron

SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft will deliver 6,500 pounds of new science investigations, supplies, and equipment for the international crew. Research includes a protein crystal growth study that could improve how cancer treatment drugs are delivered to patients and a handheld bioprinter that could one day be used to print tissue directly onto wounds for faster healing. Also aboard are experiments from students at several universities as part of the Student Payload Opportunity with Citizen Science (SPOCS) program as well as an investigation from the makers of Tide that examines detergent efficacy in microgravity.

NASA’s IXPE Journeys to Explore the Universe

NASA's IXPE launch from Kennedy Space Center
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches with NASA’s Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) spacecraft onboard from Launch Complex 39A, Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021, at 1 a.m. EST, from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

NASA’s Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) mission launched at 1 a.m. EST Thursday on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

A joint effort with the Italian Space Agency, the IXPE observatory is NASA’s first mission dedicated to measuring the polarization of X-rays from the most extreme and mysterious objects in the universe – supernova remnants, supermassive black holes, and dozens of other high-energy objects.

Click here to read the full feature.

Weather Outlook Great, IXPE Locked in for 1 a.m. EST Launch

The weather outlook for NASA’s Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) launch from Kennedy Space Center remains outstanding. Weather officials with Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s 45th Weather Squadron predict a greater than 90% chance of favorable conditions for liftoff of NASA’s first dedicated mission to measuring X-ray polarization.

Propellant load is underway, which eliminates IXPE’s 90-minute launch window.

“We have committed to this and we are committed to a T-zero at 1 a.m.,” said Mic Woltman of NASA Communications.

NASA Begins Live Broadcast of IXPE Launch

NASA has ramped up its coverage of today’s Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) launch, as the live broadcast has now begun. Tune in to NASA Television, 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 unique mission.

You can also stay right here for blog updates throughout the launch day milestones.

Live Broadcast of NASA’s IXPE Launch Starts Soon

NASA's IXPE mission logoTune in to NASA Television, the NASA app, or the agency’s website, starting in about 10 minutes (12:30 a.m. EST), for live broadcast coverage of NASA’s Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) mission.

Liftoff, aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39A, is targeted for 1 a.m. EST. The Launch is managed by NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at Kennedy.

IXPE will study changes in the polarization of X-ray light through some of the universe’s most extreme sources, including black holes, dead stars known as pulsars, and more. The mission is NASA’s first dedicated to measuring X-ray polarization.

Click here to learn more about the IXPE mission.

Key Launch Day Milestones for NASA’s IXPE

NASA's IXPE spacecraft
Tune in to NASA Television, the NASA app, or the agency’s website, starting at 12:30 a.m. EST for a live broadcast of the IXPE launch. Photo credit: SpaceX

Here is a look at some of the key milestones for today’s IXPE launch:

Mission Timeline (all times approximate)
LAUNCH AND DRAGON DEPLOYMENT
Time                      Events
1 a.m. EST             Liftoff
T+153 sec              First stage main engine cutoff (MECO)
T+156 sec              First and second stages separate
T+164 sec              Second stage engine start 1 (SES-1)
T+220 sec              Fairing deploy
8.1 min                    Second stage engine cutoff 1 (SECO-1)
28.7 min                 Second stage engine start 2 (SES-2)
29.8 min                 Second stage engine cutoff 2 (SECO-2)
33.3 min                  Spacecraft separation
66.7 min                 Second stage deorbit burn

IXPE’s launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida is now about 40 minutes away. Coverage of launch day activities will continue here on the blog. Also, tune in to NASA Television, the NASA app, or the agency’s website, starting at 12:30 a.m. EST for a live broadcast. Liftoff, from Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39A, is targeted for 1 a.m.