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The Space Shuttle Discovery takes one last flight over the Space Center before heading to its new home at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Chantilly Virginia.

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August 25, 2016

NASA Awards Launch Services Contract for Mars 2020 Rover Mission

The design of NASA's Mars 2020 rover.
The design of NASA's Mars 2020 rover leverages many successful features of the agency's Curiosity rover, which landed on Mars in 2012, but it adds new science instruments and a sampling system to carry out the new goals for the 2020 mission
Credits: NASA/NOAA

The design of NASA's Mars 2020 rover leverages many successful features of the agency's Curiosity rover, which landed on Mars in 2012, but it adds new science instruments and a sampling system to carry out the new goals for the 2020 mission. Credits: NASA NASA has selected United Launch Services LLC of Centennial, Colorado, to provide launch services for a mission that will address high-priority science goals for the agency's Journey to Mars.

Mars 2020 is targeted for launch in July 2020 aboard an Atlas V 541 rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The rover will conduct geological assessments of its landing site on Mars, determine the habitability of the environment, search for signs of ancient Martian life, and assess natural resources and hazards for future human explorers.

Additionally, scientists will use the instruments aboard the rover to identify and collect samples of rock and soil, encase them in sealed tubes, and leave them on the surface of Mars for potential return to Earth by a future mission to the Red Planet.

The mission will build on the achievements of Curiosity and other Mars Exploration Program missions, and offer opportunities to deploy new capabilities developed through investments by NASA's Space Technology Program and Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, as well as contributions from international partners.

The Mars 2020 rover mission presents new opportunities to learn how future human explorers could use natural resources available on the surface of the Red Planet. An ability to live off the land could reduce costs and engineering challenges posed by Mars exploration.

The total cost for NASA to launch Mars 2020 is approximately $243 million, which includes: the launch service; spacecraft and spacecraft power source processing; planetary protection processing; launch vehicle integration; and tracking, data and telemetry support.

NASA is on an ambitious journey to Mars that includes sending humans to the Red Planet. The robotic missions of NASA's Planetary Science Division are leading the way with the upcoming Mars 2020 rover, the InSight lander mission targeted for 2018, Opportunity and Curiosity rovers currently exploring the Martian surface, Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft currently orbiting the planet, and the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission (MAVEN) orbiter, which is helping scientists understand what happened to the planet's atmosphere.

NASA's Launch Services Program at Kennedy Space Center in Florida will manage and oversee the Atlas V launch service for Mars 2020. The Mars 2020 Project at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, manages the Mars 2020 spacecraft development for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

For more information about NASA's Mars 2020 rover, visit: http://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/

For more information about NASA's Launch Services Program, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/launchservices


August 24, 2016

NASA Prepares for NOAA's GOES-R November Launch

NASA prepares GOES-R for November Launch
GOES-R sits uncovered in a clean room at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida, in preparation for launch on top of the rocket that will take it to geostationary orbit, more than 22,000 miles above Earth. GOES-R is scheduled to launch on November 4, 2016.
Credits: NASA/NOAA

GOES-R weather and environmental satellite will launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The two-hour launch window opens at 5:40 p.m. EDT., currently planned for Nov. 4.

GOES-R is the first of four satellites to be launched for NOAA in a new and advanced series of spacecraft. Once in geostationary orbit, it will be known as GOES-16 and will provide images of weather patterns and severe storms across the continental U.S. as regularly as every five minutes, with smaller, more detailed images of areas where storm activity is present as frequently as every 30 seconds. These images can be used to aid in formulating regular forecasts, severe weather outlooks, and watches and warnings, assessing lightning conditions, and improving maritime and aviation forecasts. It also will assist in long-term forecasting, such as seasonal predictions and drought outlooks. In addition, the satellite constantly will monitor space weather conditions, such as solar flares, to provide advance notice of potential communication and navigation disruptions. The satellite also will assist researchers in understanding the interactions between land, oceans, the atmosphere and climate.

For more information about the GOES-R Program, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/goes

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, provides spacecraft project management, systems engineering, and safety and mission assurance for GOES-R. Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Littleton, Colorado, built the spacecraft for NASA, who will turn it over to NOAA for operational use after on-orbit checkout. Launch management is the responsibility of NASA's Launch Services Program at Kennedy, with United Launch Alliance of Centennial, Colorado, providing the Atlas V launch service.


August 01, 2016

NASA's Asteroid-Bound Spacecraft

OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will go to an asteroid.
Artist's conception of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft at Bennu. Credits: NASA/GSFC
OSIRIS-REx will be the first U.S. mission to sample the surface of an asteroid and return the sample to Earth. OSIRIS-REx has a science requirement to bring back to Earth a "pristine sample."

OSIRIS-REx is scheduled to launch at 7:05 p.m. Sept. 8 from nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Launch Complex 41 on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. The spacecraft will travel to the near-Earth asteroid Bennu to survey the surface, then retrieve at least 60 grams (2.1 ounces) of surface material and return it to Earth for study. The spacecraft will rendezvous with the asteroid in 2018. The sample return is planned in 2023.

NASA's Launch Services Program at Kennedy is responsible for launch management. United Launch Alliance of Centennial, Colorado, is the provider of the Atlas V launch service.

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, provides overall mission management, systems engineering and safety and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver built the spacecraft and is responsible for mission operations after launch. Dante Lauretta, of the University of Arizona, is the mission's principal investigator.

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.

For more information about the OSIRIS-REx mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/osiris-rex


July 29, 2016

NASA Orders Second SpaceX Crew Mission to International Space Station

SpaceX Crew Dragon
This artist's concept shows a SpaceX Crew Dragon docking with the International Space Station, as it will during a mission for NASA's Commercial Crew Program. NASA is partnering with Boeing and SpaceX to build a new generation of human-rated spacecraft capable of taking astronauts to the station and back to Earth, thereby expanding research opportunities in orbit.
Credits: SpaceX
This artist's concept shows a SpaceX Crew Dragon docking with the International Space Station, as it will during a mission for NASA's Commercial Crew Program. NASA is partnering with Boeing and SpaceX to build a new generation of human-rated spacecraft capable of taking astronauts to the station and back to Earth, thereby expanding research opportunities in orbit. Credits: SpaceX

NASA took another important step Friday in returning U.S. astronaut launches from U.S. soil with the order of a second post-certification mission from commercial provider SpaceX in Hawthorne, California. Commercial crew flights from Florida's Space Coast to the International Space Station will restore America's human spaceflight launch capability and increase the time U.S. crews can dedicate to scientific research, which is helping prepare astronauts for deep space missions, including the Journey to Mars.

"The order of a second crew rotation mission from SpaceX, paired with the two ordered from Boeing will help ensure reliable access to the station on American spacecraft and rockets," said Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA's Commercial Crew Program. "These systems will ensure reliable U.S. crew rotation services to the station, and will serve as a lifeboat for the space station for up to seven months."

This is the fourth and final guaranteed order NASA will make under the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contracts. Boeing received its two orders in May and December of 2015, and SpaceX received its first order in November 2015. Both companies have started planning for, building and testing the necessary hardware and assets to carry out their first flight tests, and ultimately missions for the agency.

At a later time, NASA will identify which company will fly the first post-certification mission to the space station. Each provider's contract includes a minimum of two and a maximum potential of six missions.

SpaceX met the criteria for this latest award after it successfully completed interim developmental milestones and internal design reviews for its Crew Dragon spacecraft, Falcon 9 rocket and associated ground systems.

"We're making great progress with Crew Dragon, with qualification of our docking adapter and initial acceptance testing of the pressure vessel qualification unit completed" said Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX president and chief operating officer. "We appreciate the trust NASA has placed in SpaceX with the order of another crew mission and look forward to flying astronauts from American soil next year."

SpaceX is building four Crew Dragon spacecraft at its Hawthorne facility -- two for qualification testing and two for flight tests next year. The company also is in the process of modifying Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, from which the company will launch future crewed missions to the space station.

A standard commercial crew mission to the station will carry as many as four crew members and about 220 pounds of pressurized cargo, and remain at the station for as long as 210 days, available as an emergency lifeboat during that time.

"With the commercial crew vehicles from Boeing and SpaceX, we will soon add a seventh crew member to space station missions, which will significantly increase the amount of crew time to conduct research," said Julie Robinson, NASA's International Space Station chief scientist. "Given the number of investigations waiting for the crew to be able to complete their research, having more crew members will enable NASA and our partners to significantly increase the important research being done every day for the benefit of all humanity."

Orders under the CCtCap contracts are made two to three years prior to actual mission dates in order to provide time for each company to manufacture and assemble the launch vehicle and spacecraft. Each company also must successfully complete a certification process before NASA will give the final approval for flight.

NASA's Commercial Crew Program manages the CCtCap contracts and is working with each company to ensure commercial transportation system designs and post-certification missions will meet the agency's safety requirements. Activities that follow the award of missions include a series of mission-related reviews and approvals leading to launch. The program also will be involved in all operational phases of missions.

For more information about NASA's Commercial Crew Program, visit:
http://www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew
http://blogs.nasa.gov/commercialcrew


July 28, 2016

NASA Awards Protective Services Contract at Kennedy Space Center

NASA has selected Chenega Infinity, LLC of Chantilly, Virginia, to provide protective services at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

This firm-fixed-price contract, resulting from a small business set-aside competition, will begin Oct. 1. The contract has a possible total performance period of five years and a maximum potential value of $146.3 million.

Chenega Infinity, LLC will provide physical security operations, personnel security, secure access procedures, 911 dispatch, firefighting, fire prevention and protection engineering, aircraft rescue, advance life support ambulance services, emergency management and protective services training.

For more information about NASA programs and missions, visit: http://www.nasa.gov


July 18, 2016

NASA Sends Trailblazing Science, Cargo to International Space Station Aboard SpaceX Resupply Mission

SpaceX launch
SpaceX's Dragon cargo craft launched at 12:45 a.m. EDT on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida with almost 5,000 pounds of cargo.
Credits: NASA

Instruments to perform the first-ever DNA sequencing in space, and the first international docking adapter for commercial spacecraft, are among the cargo scheduled to arrive at the International Space Station after Monday's launch of the SpaceX Commercial Resupply Services-9 (CRS-9) mission.

SpaceX's Dragon cargo craft launched at 12:45 a.m. EDT on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida with almost 5,000 pounds of cargo. The spacecraft will be grappled to the space station at 7 a.m. Wednesday, July 20, by NASA astronaut Jeff Williams, supported by NASA astronaut Kate Rubins.

"Each commercial resupply flight to the space station is a significant event. Everything, from the science to the spare hardware and crew supplies, is vital for sustaining our mission," said Kirk Shireman, NASA's International Space Station Program manager. "With equipment to enable novel experiments never attempted before in space, and an international docking adapter vital to the future of U.S. commercial crew spacecraft, we're thrilled this Dragon has successfully taken flight."

The mission is the company's ninth cargo flight to the station under NASA's CRS contract. Dragon's cargo will support dozens of the more than 250 science and research investigations during the station's Expeditions 48 and 49.

DNA testing aboard the space station typically requires collecting samples and returning them to Earth. The Biomolecule Sequencer seeks to demonstrate, for the first time, that DNA sequencing is feasible in microgravity using a crew-operated, miniaturized device to identify microbes, diagnose diseases, monitor crew health and possibly help detect DNA-based life off the Earth.

Maintaining safe temperatures is difficult in space where there is no atmosphere to moderate the extreme heat and cold provided by direct, unfiltered sunlight. The Phase Change Heat Exchanger, a NASA investigation to test temperature control technology for future spacecraft, uses a continual process of freezing and thawing to maintain temperatures inside a spacecraft, thereby protecting crews and equipment.

The crew also will test a new efficient, three-dimensional solar cell.

Millions of Americans experience bone loss resulting from disease or the reduced effects of gravity that can occur in immobilized patients. New ground-based studies are using magnetic levitation equipment to simulate these gravity-related changes. Research delivered under the station's role as a U.S. National Laboratory includes OsteoOmics, a test to determine whether magnetic levitation accurately simulates the free-fall conditions of microgravity by comparing genetic expression in different types of bone cells.

Improved understanding of the mechanisms behind bone loss could lead to better ways to prevent it during space missions. This also could contribute to better prevention of, and treatments for, bone loss as a result of diseases like osteopenia and osteoporosis, or from prolonged bed rest.

Another National Lab investigation called Heart Cells studies how microgravity changes the human heart, and how those changes vary from one individual to another. Future exploration of the moon, asteroids or Mars will require long periods of space travel, which creates increased risk of health problems such as muscle atrophy, including possible atrophy of heart muscle. Heart cells cultured aboard the space station for one month will be analyzed for cellular and molecular changes. Results could advance the study of heart disease and the development of drugs and cell replacement therapy.

Dragon is scheduled to depart the space station Monday, Aug. 29. After splashdown in the Pacific Ocean, west of Baja California, more than 3,300 pounds of science, hardware, crew supplies and spacewalk tools will be returned to shore.

For more than 15 years, humans have lived and worked continuously aboard the International Space Station, advancing scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies, making research breakthroughs not possible on Earth that will enable long-duration human and robotic exploration into deep space. A truly global endeavor, more than 200 people from 18 countries have visited the unique microgravity laboratory that has hosted more than 1,900 research investigations from researchers in more than 95 countries.

Keep up with the International Space Station, and its research and crews, at: http://www.nasa.gov/station
Get breaking news, images and features from the station on Instagram and Twitter at: http://instagram.com/iss and http://www.twitter.com/Space_Station
Learn more about SpaceX's resupply mission at: http://www.nasa.gov/spacex


July 12, 2016

SpaceX CRS-9

NASA provider SpaceX is scheduled to launch its ninth Commercial Resupply Services mission to the International Space Station Monday, July 18. NASA Television coverage of the launch begins at 11:30 p.m. EDT, Sunday, July 17.

SpaceX Dragon spacecraft
Credits: NASA

The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft is targeting liftoff on the company's Falcon 9 rocket at 12:45 a.m. from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) in Florida, carrying science research, crew supplies and hardware to the orbiting laboratory in support of the Expedition 48 and 49 crew members.

As part of prelaunch activities, NASA TV will air a prelaunch briefing conducted by mission managers on Saturday, July 16, at 2 p.m. The briefing also will stream live on the agency's website at www.nasa.gov/ntv.

About 10 minutes after launch, Dragon will reach its preliminary orbit, deploy its solar arrays and begin a carefully choreographed series of thruster firings to reach the space station. SpaceX also is planning to attempt to land its Falcon 9 first stage on land.

After a two-day trip, NASA astronaut Jeff Williams will use the station's 57.7-foot (17.6-meter) robotic arm to reach out and capture the Dragon spacecraft as he operates from the station's cupola. NASA astronaut Kate Rubins will serve as the backup. Ground commands will be sent from Houston for the station's arm to install Dragon on the Earth-facing side of the station's Harmony module for its stay at the space station. By the next day, the crew will pressurize the vestibule between the station and Dragon, and then open the hatch that leads to the forward bulkhead of Dragon.

Live coverage of the rendezvous and capture July 20 will begin at 5:30 a.m. on NASA TV, with installation set to begin at 9:45 a.m.

During the next five weeks, crew members will unload the spacecraft and reload it with cargo to return to Earth. About five-and-a-half hours after it departs the station Aug. 29, it will splash down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California.

In addition to SpaceX's arrival, Roscosmos is scheduled to launch its next cargo resupply mission on the ISS Progress 64 cargo resupply mission at 5:41 p.m. EDT, Saturday, July 16, with a docking Monday night. NASA Television of launch coverage will begin at 5:30 p.m.

If the launch does not occur Monday, July 18, the next launch opportunity is midnight Wednesday, July 20, with NASA TV coverage starting at 10:45 p.m. Tuesday, July 19.

Learn more about the SpaceX CRS-9 mission by going to the mission home page at: http://www.nasa.gov/spacex
TWITTER
The Kennedy Twitter feed will be updated throughout the launch countdown. To access the feed, visit: http://www.twitter.com/NASAKennedy
FACEBOOK
The Kennedy Facebook feed will be updated throughout the launch countdown. To access the feed, visit: http://www.facebook.com/NASAKennedy


June 21, 2016

Next SpaceX Commercial Cargo Launch Now No Earlier Than July 18

The next SpaceX commercial cargo resupply services mission for NASA to the International Space Station now is targeted for launch no earlier than 12:45 a.m. EDT Monday, July 18.

An uncrewed SpaceX Dragon spacecraft, carrying crew supplies and station hardware, will lift off on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS), adjacent to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

This is the ninth mission by SpaceX under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services contract. Among the almost 4,900 pounds of supplies, equipment and science research Dragon will carry is the first of two international docking adapters, which will allow Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft to dock to the station when transporting astronauts in the near future as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program.

For launch countdown coverage, NASA's launch blog, and more information about the mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/spacex


June 02, 2016

NASA Issues Notice for Kennedy Space Center Land Use

NASA's VAB June, 2016
The Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida is a unique facility capable of stacking rockets as high as 450 feet tall using its 325-ton cranes.
Credits: NASA

NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida has released a notice of availability for undeveloped land to potentially support activities in launch operations and support, assembly, testing and processing of space systems, renewable energy, research and development, and vertical launch and landing. The announcement is part of Kennedy's transformation to a multi-user spaceport based on effectively utilizing land assets identified in the center's 20-year Master Plan.

"We look forward to new commercial partnerships as KSC supports emerging space markets. Making this land available is yet another step in our evolution as a diverse spaceport that supports NASA and the commercial space industry," said Scott Colloredo, director of Kennedy's Center Planning and Development.

The center has transformed from a government-focused launch base to a multi-user spaceport that can accommodate different vehicles, systems and commercial launch providers. Kennedy features a host of launch and processing facilities, a one-of-a-kind runway and laboratories suited to multiple requirements. The center is well-equipped to support the full spectrum of needs for space launch service companies.

The official announcement and additional details can be found at: http://go.nasa.gov/1XuxYLw
Kennedy's Master Plan is available at: http://masterplan.ksc.nasa.gov/
For information on additional partnership opportunities at Kennedy, visit: http://kscpartnerships.ksc.nasa.gov/


May 23, 2016

Next SpaceX Commercial Cargo Launch Targeted for Mid-July

The next SpaceX commercial cargo resupply services mission to the International Space Station is targeted for launch no earlier than approximately 1:32 a.m. EDT Saturday, July 16.

An uncrewed SpaceX Dragon spacecraft, carrying crew supplies and station hardware, will lift off on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS), adjacent to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

This is the ninth mission by SpaceX under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services contract. Among the supplies, equipment and science research Dragon will carry is the first of two international docking adapters, which will allow Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft to dock to the station when transporting astronauts in the near future as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program.

For launch countdown coverage, NASA's launch blog, and more information about the mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/spacex


May 20, 2016

Launch of First U.S. Spacecraft to Sample Asteroid Set for September

NASA's asteroid satellite.
Artist's conception of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft at Bennu.
Credits: NASA/GSFC
NASA's Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security - Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft will travel to and collect surface material from the asteroid Bennu, and return it to Earth for study.

OSIRIS-REx is scheduled to launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Sept. 8. The two-hour launch window opens at 7:05 p.m. EDT.

OSIRIS-REx will retrieve at least 60 grams (2.1 ounces) of surface material. Scientists suspect Bennu may hold clues to the origin of the solar system and the source of the water and organic molecules that may have made their way to Earth.

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, provides overall mission management, systems engineering and the safety and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx. Dante Lauretta is the mission's principal investigator at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver built the spacecraft.

OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA's New Frontiers Program. The agency's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages the New Frontiers Program for the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Launch and countdown is managed at Kennedy.

For more information about the OSIRIS-REx Program, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/osiris-rex


May 11, 2016

NASA Invites Media to Robotics Mining Competition at KSC Visitor Complex

Robotics at KSC: May, 2016
Team members from Temple University prepare their custom-made remote-controlled mining robot for a test run in the mining arena during NASA's 2015 Robotic Mining Competition at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida. More than 40 student teams from colleges and universities around the U.S. used their mining robots on May 19, 2015, to dig in a supersized sandbox filled with regolith simulant and participated in other competition requirements. The competition is a NASA Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate project designed to engage and retain students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields by expanding opportunities for student research and design.
Credits: NASA/Jim Grossmann

Teams of undergraduate and graduate students from throughout the nation will demonstrate their excavator robots May 16-20 at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex near NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

More than 45 teams have designed and built remote controlled mining robots to traverse the simulated Martian terrain and excavate simulated Martian dirt. During the competition, the teams' robots will go head-to-head to determine which machine can collect and move the most regolith within a specified amount of time.

The competition is a NASA Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate project designed to engage and retain students in science, technology, engineering and math or STEM fields by expanding opportunities for student research and design. The project provides a competitive environment to foster innovative ideas and solutions that could potentially be used on NASA's journey to Mars.

Although the competition is for college students, the event offers many opportunities for students of all ages. NASA is hosting a college recruitment fair for high school sophomores, juniors and seniors showcasing STEM education opportunities available at top colleges and universities across the nation. The event also will offer additional STEM activities for students of all ages.

For more information on the competition, associated activities and social media links to participate virtually, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/nasarmc

Video highlights of the practice and competition will air on the NASA Television Video File. For downlink information, schedules and links to streaming video, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv

For information about the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, visit: http://www.kennedyspacecenter.com


April 21, 2016

NASA Selects Orbital ATK to Begin Negotiations for Space in Iconic Vehicle Assembly Building

NASA's Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB)
Kennedy Space Center's iconic Vehicle Assembly Building
Credits: NASA
NASA has selected Orbital ATK Inc. of Dulles, Virginia, to begin negotiations on an agreement to use High Bay 2 in the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The prospective property use agreement, which also will include a mobile launcher platform, reflects Kennedy's transformation to a multi-user spaceport supporting both government and commercial organizations.

"Over the past few years, the people of Kennedy have worked diligently to transform the center. We are now a true multi-user spaceport supporting a variety of different partners successfully," said Bob Cabana, Kennedy director. "We look forward to working with Orbital ATK in the future to help expand the capabilities of this unique, historic asset."

NASA will remain the primary user of the VAB for the Space Launch System and Orion programs. If an agreement is negotiated, NASA will act as the overall site operator for the facility.

The potential agreement is the result of a competitive Announcement for Proposals the agency released in June 2015.

The VAB, a national landmark, was completed in 1966 for the assembly of the Apollo/Saturn V moon rockets. For 30 years, it acted as the final assembly point for all space shuttle missions. The building is 525 feet tall and 518 feet wide.

Essentially a large steel box, a mobile launcher platform measures 160 by 135 feet. The platform's surface features wide openings that align with a space-bound vehicle's engines and direct the rocket's blast into the flame trench below.

For more information about partnership opportunities with Kennedy, visit: http://kscpartnerships.ksc.nasa.gov
For more information about Orbital ATK, visit: https://www.orbitalatk.com/
For more information on NASA and agency programs, visit: http://www.nasa.gov


April 19, 2016

NASA Celebrates Earth Day with Public Events, Online Activities

NASA's Earth Day programs
NASA will feature Earth Day exhibits, hands-on activities and demonstrations, as well as talks from NASA scientists, April 21 and 22 at Union Station in Washington.
Credits: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani
This year, NASA will celebrate Earth Day, April 22, with a variety of live and online activities Thursday and Friday, April 21-22, to engage the public in the agency's mission to better understand and protect our home planet.

Earth Day in the Nation's Capital
Thursday and Friday — 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Union Station main hall, 40 Massachusetts Ave., NE, Washington
NASA Hyperwall and Science Gallery exhibits, hands-on activities and demonstrations. NASA scientists will give talks April 22 at the Hyperwall stage following the opening ceremony at 11 a.m., featuring NASA Chief Scientist Ellen Stofan, Michael Freilich, director of NASA's Earth Science Division in Washington, and others.

Earth Day at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida
Thursday — 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Space Station Processing Facility Conference Center at Kennedy
Friday — 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
Activities will showcase sustainability themes, including energy saving solutions and renewable energy. More than a dozen electric cars will be on display with test drives available. Master gardeners and pollinator specialists will answer questions and offer tips. And wildlife and natural conservation specialists will discuss methods to safeguard wildlife, preserve natural resources, and protect Florida waters. Approximately 50 exhibitors from around the United States will be attending.
http://www.nasa.gov/24Seven

NASA Earth #24Seven Social Media Event
Friday — Online
NASA is inviting people all around the world to share on social media what they are doing to celebrate and improve our home planet. In return, the space agency will also share what makes up a "day in the life" of NASA Earth science, capturing everything that's involved in better understanding and protecting our home planet.

http://www.nasa.gov/24Seven

NASA uses the vantage point of space to increase our understanding of our home planet, improve lives and safeguard our future. The agency develops new ways to observe and study Earth's interconnected natural systems with long-term data records, shares this unique knowledge, and works with institutions around the world to gain new insights into how our planet is changing.

For more information about NASA's Earth science activities, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/earth


April 14, 2016

Swarmathon Robotics Competition at Kennedy Visitor Complex

Autonomous robots search at NAS
Four hobbyist-level, autonomous robots begin their programmed search of an area using software inspired by the method ants use to search and gather food. The experimental technique is being tried outside the Launch Control Center at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Credits: NASA/Dmitri Gerondidakis

Students from minority-serving universities and community colleges around the country will demonstrate their programming for "Swarmie" robots April 20-21 at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida.

Twelve teams developed search algorithms for small robots that can operate autonomously and are programmed to communicate and interact as a collective swarm, similar to ants foraging for food. During the competition, the teams' algorithm will run on the Swarmie robots in an official competition arena. Groups will be ranked by the number of resources their search algorithm is able to locate in a specified period of time.

The competition is a NASA Minority University Research Program project, which strives to ensure that underrepresented and underserved students participate in NASA education and research. The Swarmies were designed through collaboration between the University of New Mexico and NASA Kennedy Space Center's Swamp Works Facility.

As NASA expands human presence in the solar system, like the journey to Mars, the goal of the Swarmathon competition is to develop integrated robotic platforms that could revolutionize space exploration though the utilization of extraplanetary resources.

For more information about the competition, visit: http://nasaswarmathon.com/
For information about the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, visit: http://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/


April 08, 2016

NASA Cargo Headed to Space Station Includes Habitat Prototype, Medical Research

Falcon 9 launch from Cape Canaveral
Credits: NASA TV

Tucked in the trunk of the latest commercial cargo spacecraft to head for the International Space Station is an expandable structure that has the potential to revolutionize work and life on the space station.

3 photos of the Falcon 9 launch from Cape Canaveral
Credits: NASA TV

SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft is delivering almost 7,000 pounds of cargo, including the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), to the orbital laboratory following its launch on a Falcon 9 rocket at 4:43 p.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The mission is SpaceX's eighth cargo delivery through NASA's Commercial Resupply Services contract. Dragon's cargo will support dozens of the more than 250 science and research investigations taking place on the space station during Expeditions 47 and 48.

"The cargo will allow investigators to use microgravity conditions to test the viability of expandable space habitats, assess the impact of antibodies on muscle wasting, use protein crystal growth to aid the design of new disease-fighting drugs and investigate how microbes could affect the health of the crew and their equipment over a long duration mission," said NASA Deputy Administrator Dava Newman.

Dragon will be grappled at 7 a.m. Sunday, April 10, by ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Tim Peake, using the station's Candarm2 robotic arm, with help from NASA astronaut Jeff Williams.

BEAM will arrive in Dragon's unpressurized trunk and, after about five days, will be removed and attached to the station. Expansion is targeted for the end of May. The module will expand to roughly 10 feet in diameter and 13 feet long. During its two-year test mission, astronauts will enter the module for a few hours several times a year to retrieve sensor data and assess conditions. Expandable habitats are designed to take up less room on a rocket, but provide greater volume for living and working in space once expanded. This first in situ test of the module will allow investigators to gauge how well the habitat protects against solar radiation, space debris and contamination.

Crew members experience significant decreases in bone density and muscle mass during long-duration spaceflight without appropriate nutrition and exercise. One life science investigation on its way to the orbiting laboratory will assess myostatin inhibition as a means of preventing skeletal muscle atrophy and weakness in mice exposed to long-duration spaceflight. Drugs tested on the space station could progress to human clinical trials back on Earth to validate their effectiveness for future space missions.

Dragon also will deliver Microchannel Diffusion, a study of fluids at the nanoscale, or atomic, level. Nanofluidic sensors could measure the air in the space station, or be used to deliver drugs to specific places in the body. The laws that govern flow through nanoscale channels are not well understood, and this investigation simulates those interactions by studying them at the larger microscopic level. This type of research is possible only on the space station, where Earth's gravity is not strong enough to interact with the molecules in a sample, so they behave more like they would at the nanoscale. Knowledge gleaned from the investigation may have implications for drug delivery and particle filtration, as well as future technological applications for space exploration.

Another experiment onboard Dragon is a protein crystal growth investigation focused on drug design and development. Growing protein crystals in microgravity can help researchers avoid some of the obstacles inherent to protein crystallization on Earth, such as sedimentation. One investigation will study the effect of microgravity on the co-crystallization of a membrane protein to determine its three-dimensional structure. This will enable scientists to chemically target and inhibit, with "designer" compounds, an important human biological pathway thought to be responsible for several types of cancer.

The spacecraft is scheduled to depart the space station May 11 for a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean, west of Baja California, bringing almost 3,500 pounds of science, hardware and spacewalking tools back to Earth for further study, including biological samples from NASA's one-year mission.

The International Space Station is a convergence of science, technology and human innovation that demonstrates new technologies and makes research breakthroughs not possible on Earth. The space station has been continuously occupied since November 2000. In that time, it has been visited by more than 200 people and a variety of international and commercial spacecraft. The space station remains the springboard to NASA's next great leap in exploration, including future missions to an asteroid and Mars.

For more information about SpaceX's mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/spacex
For more information about the International Space Station, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station


April 06, 2016

NASA Progresses Toward SpaceX Resupply Mission to Space Station

BEAM module loaded into SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft.
The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), developed for NASA by Bigelow Aerospace, is lifted into SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft for transport to the International Space Station when the spacecraft launches at 4:43 p.m. Friday, April 8, from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) in Florida
Credits: SpaceX

NASA provider SpaceX is scheduled to launch its eighth Commercial Resupply Services mission to the International Space Station on Friday, April 8. NASA Television coverage of the launch begins at 3:30 p.m. EDT.

The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft is targeting lift off on the company's Falcon 9 rocket at 4:43 p.m. from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) in Florida, carrying science research, crew supplies and hardware to the orbiting laboratory in support of the Expedition 47 and 48 crews.

About 10 minutes after launch, Dragon will reach its preliminary orbit, deploy its solar arrays and begin a carefully choreographed series of thruster firings to reach the space station.

The spacecraft will arrive at the station Sunday, April 10, at which time NASA astronaut Jeff Williams and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Tim Peake will use the station's robotic arm to capture the Dragon spacecraft. Ground commands will be sent from Houston to the station's arm to install Dragon on the bottom side of the Harmony module for its stay at the space station. Live coverage of the rendezvous and capture will begin at 5:30 a.m. on NASA TV, with installation set to begin at 9:30 a.m.

The following day, the crew will pressurize the space between the station and Dragon and open the hatch between the two spacecraft.

The Dragon spacecraft will deliver almost 7,000 pounds of supplies and vehicle hardware to the orbital outpost and its crew. The cargo includes the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), which will be attached to the space station to test the use of an expandable space habitat in microgravity. Scheduled to return to Earth in May, the Dragon capsule will bring back biological samples from astronauts, including those collected during NASA's one-year mission.

The new experiments arriving to the station will help investigators study muscle atrophy and bone loss in space, use microgravity to seek insight into the interactions of particle flows at the nanoscale level and use protein crystal growth in microgravity to help in the design of new drugs to fight disease.

Dragon is scheduled to return to Earth on May 11. About five-and-a-half hours after it leaves the station, it will splash down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California.

If the launch does not occur on Friday, April 8, the next launch opportunity is 4:20 p.m. Saturday, April 9.

NASA TV LAUNCH COVERAGE
Friday, April 8 (Launch day): NASA TV live coverage will begin at 3:30 p.m. For NASA TV downlink information, schedules and links to streaming video, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv

IN-FLIGHT NASA TV COVERAGE
If launch occurs April 8, NASA TV will provide live coverage of the arrival of the SpaceX CRS-8 Dragon spacecraft to the space station. NASA TV will cover the rendezvous and capture of the spacecraft beginning at 5:30 a.m. with installation taking place at approximately 10 a.m. Coverage of the installation of Dragon will begin at 9:30 a.m.

NASA WEB PRELAUNCH AND LAUNCH COVERAGE
Prelaunch and launch day coverage of the SpaceX CRS-8 flight will be available on the NASA website. Coverage will include live streaming and text updates beginning at 3:30 p.m. as the countdown milestones occur. On-demand streaming video, podcast and photos of the launch will be available shortly after liftoff. For questions about countdown coverage, contact Gregory B. Harland at 321-861-7401. You can follow countdown coverage on our launch blog at: http://blogs.nasa.gov/spacex
Learn more about the SpaceX CRS-8 mission by going to the mission home page at: http://www.nasa.gov/spacex

TWITTER
The Kennedy Twitter feed will be updated throughout the launch countdown. To access the feed, visit: http://www.twitter.com/NASAKennedy

FACEBOOK
The Kennedy Facebook feed will be updated throughout the launch countdown. To access the feed, visit: http://www.facebook.com/NASAKennedy

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
For video b-roll and other International Space Station media resources, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/stationnews
For more information about the International Space Station, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station


March 29, 2016

NASA's 'Spaceport of the Future' Reaches Another Milestone

An image of NASA's SLS rocket that will launch the Orion spacecraft.
This artist concept depicts the Space Launch System rocket rolling out of the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. SLS will be the most powerful rocket ever built and will launch the agency's Orion spacecraft into a new era of exploration to destinations beyond low-Earth orbit.
Credits: NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center

NASA has completed a major milestone on its journey to Mars and is ready to begin another phase of work on its spaceport of the future, where the next generation of astronauts will launch to Mars and other deep-space destinations.

The agency recently wrapped up a comprehensive and successful review of plans for the facilities and ground support systems that will process the agency's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

"NASA is developing and modernizing the ground systems at Kennedy to safely integrate Orion with SLS, move the vehicle to the pad, and successfully launch it into space," said Bill Hill, deputy associate administrator of NASA's Exploration Systems Development Division at the agency's Headquarters in Washington. "Modernizing the ground systems for our journey to Mars also ensures long-term sustainability and affordability to meet future needs of the multi-use spaceport."

Over the course of a few months, engineers and experts across the agency reviewed hundreds of documents as part of a comprehensive assessment. The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program (GSDO), responsible for processing SLS and Orion for flight and ensuring all systems and facilities are ready, completed its critical design review (CDR) of the facilities and ground support systems plans in December 2015.

This was followed in January by the completion of an independent assessment by a Standing Review Board, a team of aerospace experts that assessed program readiness and confirmed the program is on track to complete the engineering design and development process on budget and on schedule.

In the final step before actual fabrication, installation and testing of Kennedy's ground systems, the GSDO program and review board briefed the results of their assessments to NASA's Agency Program Management Council, led by Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot.

Engineers are transforming Kennedy's launch infrastructure to support the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft. The heavy-lift rocket will be stacked in the Vehicle Assembly Building on the mobile launcher and roll out to Launch Pad 39B atop a modified crawler transporter. The Orion spacecraft will be fueled with propellants in the Multi-Payload Processing Facility at Kennedy prior to stacking atop the rocket. The launch team will use the new command and control system in the firing room as the clock counts down to liftoff of SLS's first flight.

"The team is working hard and we are making remarkable progress transforming our facilities," said Mike Bolger, GSDO Program Manager. "As we are preparing for NASA's journey to Mars, the outstanding team at the Kennedy Space Center is ensuring that we will be ready to receive SLS and Orion flight hardware and process the vehicle for the first flight in 2018."

The council also heard the results of the Orion CDR, completed at the program level in October 2015. The evaluation assessed the primary systems of the spacecraft, including the capsule's structures, pyrotechnics, Launch Abort System jettison, guidance, navigation and control and software systems among many other elements.

For the spacecraft's first mission on the SLS rocket, ESA (European Space Agency) is providing Orion's service module, which powers, propels, cools and provides consumables like air and water in space. Results from ESA's service module design review, which began this month, will be assessed and incorporated into Orion development and integration plans later this summer. Systems unique to the first crewed flight will be addressed at a review in the fall of 2017.

Progress continues on Orion at NASA facilities across the country. The underlying structure of the crew module arrived at Kennedy in early February for outfitting, which is currently underway. Over the next 18 months, thousands of Orion components will arrive and be installed.

Meanwhile, a structural representation of the service module is being tested at NASA's Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio, where engineers conducted a successful solar array wing deployment test on Feb. 29 and are preparing for a variety of tests to confirm it can withstand the harsh conditions of launch.

For more information on GSDO, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/groundsystems
For more information on Orion, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/orion


March 23, 2016

NASA Sends Fire, Meteor Experiments to International Space Station on Commercial Cargo Spacecraft

Scientific investigations of fire in microgravity and grippers inspired by geckos are among the nearly 7,500 pounds of cargo headed to the International Space Station aboard an Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft, along with equipment to support some 250 other experiments and studies aboard the world's only orbital laboratory.

An Atlas V rocket launches Cygnus.
An Atlas V launch vehicle lifts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station carrying a Cygnus resupply spacecraft on the Orbital ATK CRS-6 mission to the International Space Station. Liftoff was at 11:05 p.m. EDT. The spacecraft will deliver 7,500 pounds of supplies, science payloads and experiments. Credits: NASA

Orbital ATK's fifth cargo delivery flight under its Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA launched at 11:05 p.m. EDT Tuesday on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The Cygnus is scheduled to arrive at the orbiting laboratory Saturday, March 26. The station's Expeditions 47 and 48 crews will employ these science payloads to support experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science – research that improves life on Earth -- including:

  • Saffire-I provides a new way to study a large fire on an exploration craft, which has not been possible in the past because the risks for performing such studies on spacecraft with astronauts aboard are too high.
  • Meteor will enable the first space-based observations of meteors entering Earth's atmosphere from space.
  • Strata-I could give us answers about how regolith behaves and moves in microgravity, how easy or difficult it is to anchor a spacecraft in regolith, how it interacts with spacecraft and spacesuit materials, and other important properties.
  • The Gecko Gripper study tests a gecko-inspired adhesive gripping device that can stick on command in the harsh environment of space.
  • The Additive Manufacturing Facility will add an upgraded 3-D printing capability to the station.
NASA astronaut and Expedition 46 Commander Tim Kopra will capture Cygnus at about 6:40 a.m. Saturday, March 26, using the space station's Canadarm2 robotic arm to take hold of the spacecraft. Astronaut Tim Peake of ESA (European Space Agency) will support Kopra in a backup position. NASA TV coverage of capture will begin at 5:30 a.m.

Saffire-1 will remain on the spacecraft once all the other supplies are unloaded, and the vehicle will be attached to the space station for about two months. Once it departs and the spacecraft is a safe distance from the space station, engineers will remotely conduct the first Saffire experiment before the Cygnus' destructive reentry into Earth's atmosphere. Before detaching from the station, Cygnus will also be filled with about 3,000 pounds of trash, which will be burned up over the Pacific Ocean.

This is the second flight of an enhanced Cygnus spacecraft, and the second using the Atlas V launch system. The cargo freighter features a greater payload capacity, supported by new fuel tanks and solar arrays, and an extended pressurized cargo module that increases the spacecraft's interior volume by 25 percent, enabling more cargo to be delivered with each launch.

The space station is a convergence of science, technology and human innovation that demonstrates new technologies and makes research breakthroughs not possible on Earth. The space station has been continuously occupied since November 2000. In that time, it has been visited by more than 200 people and a variety of international and commercial spacecraft. The space station remains the springboard to NASA's next great leap in exploration, including future missions to an asteroid and Mars.

For more information about Orbital ATK's mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/orbitalatk
For more information about the International Space Station, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station


March 18, 2016

NASA Targets Early April for Eighth SpaceX Cargo Launch

SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft
Expedition 39 crew members captured this image of the arrival, capture and berthing of the SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule at the International Space Station April 20, 2014. Credits: NASA

SpaceX's Dragon cargo spacecraft is targeted for launch at 4:43 p.m. EDT Friday, April 8.

The Dragon capsule will launch on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) in Florida, carrying science research, crew supplies and hardware to the orbiting laboratory in support of the Expedition 47 and 48 crews. The flight also includes the Bigelow Aerospace expandable habitat module that will be attached to the space station for testing. In its scheduled return to Earth in May, the Dragon capsule will bring back biological samples from astronauts, including those collected during NASA's one-year mission. This launch is the eighth contracted mission by SpaceX under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services contract.

For launch countdown coverage, NASA's launch blog, and more information about commercial cargo resupply missions, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/commercialresupply


March 17, 2016

Fifth Orbital ATK Resupply Mission to Space Station

Cygnus
The Cygnus spacecraft for the upcoming Orbital ATK Commercial Resupply Services-6 mission is encapsulated inside its payload fairing as it moves past the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It is being moved to Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Credits: NASA/Dimitrios Gerondidakis

NASA commercial provider Orbital ATK is scheduled to launch its fifth mission to the International Space Station Tuesday, March 22, under the agency's Commercial Resupply Services contract.

The company's Cygnus spacecraft is set to lift off on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at 11:05 p.m., the start of a 30-minute launch window, from Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Cygnus will carry almost 7,500 pounds of science and research, crew supplies and vehicle hardware to the orbital laboratory to support dozens of science and research investigations that will occur during Expeditions 47 and 48.

The new experiments will inspire future scientists and explorers, with experiments such as an investigation that looks at the properties and behavior of regolith, or "soil" found on asteroids, comets, the moon, and other airless worlds; an instrument for the first-ever, space-based observations of the chemical composition of meteors entering Earth's atmosphere; a technology demonstration of an adhesive device that can stick on-command in the harsh environment of space; and the second generation of a portable onboard 3-D printer, among others.

The spacecraft will arrive at the station on Saturday, March 26, at which time Expedition 47 Commander Tim Kopra of NASA and Flight Engineer Tim Peake of ESA (European Space Agency) will grapple Cygnus, using the space station's robotic arm, at approximately 6:40 a.m. NASA TV coverage of rendezvous and grapple will begin at 5:30 a.m.

After Cygnus' capture, ground commands will be sent from mission control in Houston to the station's arm to rotate and install the spacecraft on the bottom of the station's Unity module. Coverage of installation will begin at 9:15 a.m. Cygnus will remain at the space station until May, when the spacecraft will be used to dispose of several tons of trash during its fiery re-entry into Earth's atmosphere. Under Orbital ATK's Commercial Resupply Services contract, the company will fly 10 missions.

This will be the second flight to the station of an enhanced Cygnus spacecraft, which has an extended pressurized cargo module that increases the spacecraft's interior volume capacity by 25 percent and enables more cargo to be delivered with each mission. Dubbed the S.S. Rick Husband, the spacecraft is a tribute to U.S. Air Force Col. Rick Husband, commander of space shuttle Columbia's STS-107 mission, which was lost during re-entry on Feb. 1, 2003.

NASA WEB PRELAUNCH AND LAUNCH COVERAGE Prelaunch and launch day coverage of the Orbital ATK CRS-6 flight will be available on the NASA website. Coverage will include live streaming and text updates beginning at 10 p.m. as the countdown milestones occur. On-demand streaming video, podcast and photos of the launch will be available shortly after liftoff. For questions about countdown coverage, contact Tracy Young at 321-867-2468. You can follow countdown coverage on our launch blog at: http://blogs.nasa.gov/orbital
Learn more about the Orbital ATK CRS-6 mission by going to the mission home page at: http://www.nasa.gov/orbitalatk

TWITTER
The Kennedy Twitter feed will be updated throughout the launch countdown. To access the feed, visit: http://www.twitter.com/NASAKennedy

FACEBOOK
The Kennedy Facebook feed will be updated throughout the launch countdown. To access the feed, visit: http://www.facebook.com/NASAKennedy

For more information about the International Space Station, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station


March 03, 2016

Commercial Cargo Mission

Cygnus NanoRack being installed
Inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, engineers and technicians install a NanoRack on a Cygnus cargo spacecraft. The Cygnus will be launched to the International Space Station on the upcoming Orbital ATK Commercial Resupply Services-6 mission, delivering hardware and supplies to the orbiting outpost. A NanoRack is a low-cost research platform for payloads on the U.S. National Laboratory of the space station. Based on CubeSats, the standardized mini-labs allow low cost use by researchers and commercial customers, as well as students. Credits: NASA/Ben Smegelsky
The next launch of a commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station, is now targeted for Tuesday, March 22, during a 30-minute launch window that opens at approximately 11 p.m. EDT.

Orbital ATK's Cygnus spacecraft will launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) in Florida. The spacecraft will carry crew supplies and hardware to the orbital laboratory to support the Expedition 47 and 48 crews.

This launch is the fifth contracted mission by Orbital ATK under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services contract and will be followed later this year by an Orbital ATK resupply mission launching from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia.

For launch countdown coverage, NASA's launch blog, and more information about the mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/orbitalatk


February 29, 2016

The Cygnus Orbital ATK CRS-6 Cargo Module

Cygnus pressurized cargo module
The Orbital ATK Cygnus pressurized cargo module undergoes preflight preparations in the high bay of the Space Station Processing Facility on Jan. 18, 2016, at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The module will be loaded with scientific experiments and supplies on a Commercial Resupply Services flight to the International Space Station. Credits: NASA/Charles Babir
The Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft filled with cargo for the International Space Station is at NASA's Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility (PHSF) at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The fifth commercial resupply services mission for Orbital ATK is targeted for liftoff atop a commercial United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on March 22 at approximately 11:05 p.m. EST.

Orbital ATK uses the Cygnus to perform ISS resupply flights under the Commercial Resupply Services contract. Cygnus consists of a pressurized cargo module for crew supplies, scientific experiments and equipment, together with an associated service module providing solar power and propulsion. This mission will be the second flight of the enhanced variant of Orbital ATK's Cygnus pressurized cargo module, which will be delivering approximately 7,700 pounds of cargo to the station.

For more information about the Orbital ATK resupply mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/orbital

For more information about the International Space Station, its crew and research, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station


January 29, 2016

Next Commercial Space Station Cargo Mission

A transporter carries the Orbital ATK Cygnus pressurized cargo module
A transporter carries the Orbital ATK Cygnus pressurized cargo module, sealed inside a shipping container, to the Space Station Processing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The module will soon begin preflight preparations for its upcoming mission to carry hardware and supplies on the company's Commercial Resupply Services flight to the International Space Station.
Credits: NASA/Charles Babir

The launch of Orbital ATK's Cygnus spacecraft is scheduled for Thursday, March 10, during a 30-minute window that opens at approximately 3 a.m. EST. The launch is a commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station.

Cygnus will launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) in Florida. The spacecraft will carry crew supplies and vehicle hardware to the orbital laboratory to support the Expedition 47 and 48 crews.

This launch is the fifth contracted mission by Orbital ATK under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract and will be followed later this year by an Orbital ATK resupply mission launching from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia. Science payloads heading to the space station on this launch include:

  • the second generation of a portable onboard printer to demonstrate 3-D printing;
  • an instrument for first space-based observations of the chemical composition of meteors entering Earth's atmosphere; and
  • an experiment to ignite and study a large-scale fire inside an empty Cygnus resupply vehicle after it leaves the space station and before it re-enters Earth's atmosphere to improving understanding of fire growth in microgravity and safeguarding future space missions.
The International Space Station is a convergence of science, technology and human innovation that demonstrates new technologies and makes research breakthroughs not possible on Earth. The space station has been occupied continuously since November 2000. In that time, more than 200 people and a variety of international and commercial spacecraft have visited the orbiting laboratory. The space station remains the springboard to NASA's next great leap in exploration, including future missions to an asteroid and Mars.

For NASA TV schedule and video streaming information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv

For launch countdown coverage, NASA's launch blog, and more information about the mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/orbitalatk


January 22, 2016

Orion Crew Module Arriving at Kennedy Space Center

Orion Crew Module at Kennedy Space Center
Welding work on the pressure vessel, or underlying structure, of the Orion crew module
was completed at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. It will be shipped to
the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida Feb. 1 for outfitting and processing.
Credits: NASA

The upcoming arrival of the Orion crew module pressure vessel that will fly atop the Space Launch System rocket on the first integrated flight test, Exploration Mission-1, (EM-1). Delivery of this major Orion hardware marks an important milestone as NASA continues making progress on its journey to Mars.

At 3 p.m. EST, Monday, February 1, Orion's recently completed pressure vessel, or underlying structure of the crew module, is scheduled to arrive at Kennedy's Landing Facility aboard NASA's Super Guppy cargo aircraft.

NASA and Lockheed Martin are tracking several milestones for Orion in 2016. The processing of Orion for flight at Kennedy will include outfitting the crew module with the spacecraft's heat-shielding thermal protection systems, avionics and other subsystems including electrical power storage and distribution, thermal control, cabin pressure control, command and data handling, communications and tracking, guidance, navigation and control, reaction control system propulsion and flight software and computers.

The Orion spacecraft will carry astronauts farther into the solar system than ever before. It will provide emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during the space travel and provide safe re-entry from deep space.

For more information about Orion, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/orion


January 17, 2016

Jason-3 Launches to Monitor Global Sea Level Rise

SpaceX launches Jason-3.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches with the Jason-3 spacecraft Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016, from Space Launch Complex 4 East at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Jason-3, an international mission led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), will help continue U.S.-European satellite measurements of global ocean height changes.
Credits: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Jason-3, a U.S.-European oceanography satellite mission with NASA participation that will continue a nearly quarter-century record of tracking global sea level rise, lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California Sunday at 10:42 a.m. PST (1:42 p.m. EST) aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Jason-3 is an international mission led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in partnership with NASA, the French space agency CNES, and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites.

"Jason-3 will take the pulse of our changing planet by gathering environmental intelligence from the world's oceans," said Stephen Volz, assistant administrator for NOAA's Satellite and Information Service.

The mission will improve weather, climate and ocean forecasts, including helping NOAA's National Weather Service and other global weather and environmental forecast agencies more accurately forecast the strength of tropical cyclones.

"Jason-3 is a prime example of how our nation leverages NASA's expertise in space and scientific exploration to help address critical global challenges in collaboration with NOAA and our international partners," said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for science at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "The measurements from Jason-3 will advance our efforts to understand Earth as an integrated system by increasing our knowledge of sea level changes and the ocean's roles in climate."

Minutes after Jason-3 separated from the rocket's second stage, the spacecraft unfolded its twin sets of solar arrays. Ground controllers successfully acquired the spacecraft's signals, and initial telemetry reports showed the satellite was in good health.

Jason-3 entered orbit about 15 miles (25 kilometers) below Jason-2. The new spacecraft will gradually raise itself into the same 830-mile (1,336-kilometer) orbit and position itself to follow Jason-2's ground track, orbiting a couple of minutes behind Jason-2. The two spacecraft will fly in formation, making nearly simultaneous measurements for about six months to allow scientists to precisely calibrate Jason-3's instruments.

Jason-3 begins full science operations after a six-month checkout phase, joining Jason-2, which launched in 2008. From low-Earth orbit, Jason-3 will precisely measure the height of 95 percent of the world's ice-free ocean every 10 days.

Coordinating orbits and combining measurements from Jason-2 and Jason-3 should allow even more frequent coverage of the global oceans. Together, the two spacecraft will double global data coverage. This tandem mission will improve our knowledge of tides in coastal and shallow seas and internal tides in the open ocean, while improving our understanding of ocean currents and eddies.

Measurements of sea-surface height, or ocean-surface topography, reveal the speed and direction of ocean currents and tell scientists how much of the sun's energy is stored by the ocean. Combining ocean current and heat storage data is key to understanding global climate changes.

Since the Topex/Poseidon-Jason satellite missions began in 1992, researchers have observed a total global sea level rise of 2.8 inches (70 millimeters) – an average rate of 0.12 inches (3 millimeters) a year. Because it is a measure of both ocean warming and loss of land ice, sea level rise is an important indicator of human-caused climate change.

"As human-caused global warming drives sea levels higher and higher, we are literally reshaping the surface of our planet," said Josh Willis, NASA project scientist for Jason-3 at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. "These missions tell us how much and how fast."

Data from Jason-3 will be used for other scientific, commercial and operational applications, including modeling of deep-ocean waves; forecasts of surface waves for offshore operators; forecasts of tides and currents for commercial shipping and ship routing; coastal forecasts to respond to environmental challenges such as oil spills and harmful algal blooms; coastal modeling crucial for marine mammal and coral reef research; and forecasts of El Nino and La Nina events.

CNES provided the Jason-3 spacecraft bus. NASA and CNES are jointly providing the primary payload instruments. NASA's Launch Services Program at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida is responsible for launch management and countdown operations for the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. JPL manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

For more information about the Jason-3 mission, visit: http://www.nesdis.noaa.gov/jason-3

To find out more about NASA's Earth science research, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/earth


January 14, 2016

NOAA's Jason-3 Spacecraft Ready for Launch

NASA's Jason 3 spacecraft

Jason-3, a collaborative effort between NOAA, NASA, Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales, France's space agency, and the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites, will continue the ability to monitor and precisely measure global sea surface heights, monitor the intensification of tropical cyclones and support seasonal and coastal forecasts.
Credits: NASA

The launch of Jason-3, an international mission led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to continue U.S.- European satellite measurements of the topography of the ocean surfaces, is scheduled for launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016. Liftoff aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg's Space Launch Complex 4 East is targeted for 10:42:18 a.m. PST (1:42:18 p.m. EST) at the opening of a 30-second launch window. If needed, a backup launch opportunity is available on the Western Range on Jan. 18 at 10:31:04 a.m. PST (1:31:04 p.m. EST).

Jason-3 will maintain the ability to monitor and precisely measure global sea surface heights, monitor the intensification of tropical cyclones and support seasonal and coastal forecasts. Data from Jason-3 will support scientific, commercial and practical applications related to ocean circulation and climate change. Additionally, Jason-3 data will be applied to fisheries management, marine industries and research into human impacts on the world's oceans. The mission is planned to last at least three years with a goal of five years.

Jason-3 is a four-agency international partnership consisting of NOAA, NASA, the French Space Agency CNES (Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales), and EUMETSAT (the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites). Thales Alenia of France built the spacecraft.

NOAA in collaboration with the international European partners is responsible for the Jason-3 mission. JPL is responsible for NASA Jason-3 project management. NASA's Launch Services Program at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida provides launch management. SpaceX of Hawthorne, California, is NASA's launch service provider of the Falcon 9 rocket.

For more information about the Jason-3 mission, visit: http://nesdis.noaa.gov/jason-3/


15/12/20

Sunday launch postponed

SpaceX's Falcon 9 launch is postponed to Monday, December 21 at 8:33pm.
It is sety to deliver 11 satellites to space for ORBCOMM. SpaceX will attempt to land the first stage booster at their new landing facility at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.


December 18, 2015

NASA Kennedy Space Center Counts Down to Santa's Annual Toy Delivery Mission

NASA's Space Santa 2015
Kennedy Space Center's holiday poster, depicting Santa Claus and NASA's programs at the Florida spaceport. Credits: NASA

NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida is counting down to support Santa Claus during his annual mission to deliver toys and other presents to children around the world. As always, the jolly old fellow will have the opportunity to take advantage of the agency's latest advances in technology.

Claus will have access to the most recent findings on the amounts of moisture and frost in the Earth's surface. NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive, or SMAP, satellite, is providing the latest measurements of the Earth's soil moisture distribution and freeze/thaw rates. This global data could be valuable in helping Claus determine the best places to land his sleigh.

Additionally, Claus and his reindeer will be given the opportunity to use Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility if a rest stop is needed during their long Christmas Eve trip. During the past year, NASA signed a 30-year property agreement with Space Florida for the operations and management of the facility. Now that Kennedy is a 21st century multi-user spaceport, a variety of commercial and government partners may use the three-mile-long runway.

If he does choose to touch down at the Shuttle Landing Facility, Claus' reindeer will feel right at home at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Alongside the many high-tech facilities at the Florida spaceport, Kennedy employees work in an animal sanctuary that is home to hundreds of wildlife species. The diverse, 140,000-acre landscape provides a habitat for many varieties of animals, including alligators, manatees and deer.

Claus has one extraterrestrial destination this year -- the International Space Station. The crew recently celebrated the 15th anniversary of permanent occupancy of the orbiting laboratory. The first expedition crew docked with the station on Nov. 2, 2000, and began activation of the station and scientific research that has continued nonstop.

On Dec. 6, an Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft successfully lifted off with more than 7,000 pounds of additional research equipment to support science investigations by the station crew.

In addition to St. Nick's Christmas Eve delivery, crews aboard the ISS received supplies in April when a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on its sixth commercial resupply services mission. The SpaceX Dragon capsule brought up 4,300 pounds of scientific experiments, technology demonstrations and supplies.

Soon, astronauts can join Claus by flying from U.S. soil to the space station aboard new spacecraft as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program. The effort is a partnership that will include Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon taking astronauts to the orbiting laboratory.

Should Claus wish to visit future pioneers living and working on Mars, recent findings should aid St. Nick when he visits the Red Planet. Earlier this year, NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter provided the strongest evidence yet that liquid water flows intermittently on present-day Mars. Dark streaks appear to ebb and flow in numerous locations when temperatures rise above 10 degrees below zero Fahrenheit and disappear at colder times.

As future explorers reach farther into the solar system, Claus may want to pay them a visit. Launched from the Cape on Jan. 19, 2006, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft provided the first close-up observations of Pluto on July 14 of this year. While human exploration may be years away, it gives the jolly old fellow time to map out his gift-giving strategy no matter where astronauts venture into the cosmos.

  • To learn more about NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive, or SMAP, satellite, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/smap
  • To read more about NASA's agreement with Space Florida to operate the Shuttle Landing Facility, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-signs-agreement-with-space-florida-to-operate-historic-landing-facility-0
  • To learn about the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy/shuttleoperations/alligators/kscovrv.html
  • To read more about the International Space Station, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/1dOptld
  • To learn when the space station is visible in your area, visit: http://spotthestation.nasa.gov/
  • To read more about NASA's Commercial Crew Program, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/commercial/crew/index.html
  • To learn more about NASA's Mars Reconnaissance orbiter, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/MRO/main/index.html
  • To read more about NASA's New Horizons mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/newhorizons/main/index.html
  • To learn more about the other missions and programs NASA's Kennedy Space Center supports, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/kennedy


December 18, 2015

NASA Orders Second Boeing Crew Mission to International Space Station

Boeing's Starliner spacecraft

This artist's concept shows Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, currently under development for NASA's Commercial Crew Program, docking to the International Space Station. Credits: NASA

NASA took an important step Friday to establish regular crew missions that will launch from the United States to the International Space Station with the order of its second post-certification mission from Boeing Space Exploration of Houston.

"Once certified by NASA, the Boeing CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon each will be capable of two crew launches to the station per year," said Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA's Commercial Crew Program. "Placing orders for those missions now really sets us up for a sustainable future aboard the International Space Station."

This is the third in a series of four guaranteed orders NASA will make under the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contracts. Boeing and SpaceX received their first orders in May and November, respectively, and have started planning for, building and procuring the necessary hardware and assets to carry out their first missions for the agency. NASA will identify at a later time which company will fly a mission to the station first.

Boeing met the criteria for NASA to award the company its second mission with the successful completion of interim developmental milestones and internal design reviews for its Starliner spacecraft, United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket and associated ground system.

Boeing's Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida is seeing the buildup of the Starliner structural test article, and nearby, the main column of the crew access tower is in place at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 41. Flight trainers are nearing completion in Boeing's St. Louis facility and rocket parts are starting to come together in Huntsville, Alabama.

"As our company begins its second century, our Starliner program continues Boeing's tradition of space industry innovation with commercial service to the space station," said John Mulholland, vice president and manager of Boeing's commercial crew program. "We value NASA's confidence in the Starliner system to keep their crews safe."

Commercial crew missions to the space station will restore America's human spaceflight capabilities and increase the amount of time dedicated to scientific research off the Earth, for the Earth and beyond. A standard commercial crew mission to the station will carry up to four NASA or NASA-sponsored crew members and about 220 pounds of pressurized cargo. The spacecraft will remain at the station for up to 210 days, available as an emergency lifeboat during that time.

"With the commercial crew vehicles from Boeing and SpaceX, we will soon add a seventh crew member to International Space Station missions, which will significantly increase the amount of crew time to conduct research," said Kirk Shireman, manager for the International Space Station Program. "This will enable NASA and our partners to ramp up the important research being done every day for the benefit of all humanity."

Orders under the CCtCap contracts are made two to three years prior to actual mission dates in order to provide time for each company to manufacture and assemble the launch vehicle and spacecraft. Each company also must successfully complete a certification process before NASA will give the final approval for flight. Each provider's contract includes a minimum of two and a maximum potential of six missions.

NASA's Commercial Crew Program manages the CCtCap contracts and is working with each company to ensure commercial transportation system designs and post-certification missions will meet the agency's safety requirements. Activities that follow the award of missions include a series of mission-related reviews and approvals leading to launch. The program also will be involved in all operational phases of missions to ensure crew safety.

For more information about NASA's Commercial Crew Program, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew
To stay up-to-date on commercial crew progress, bookmark the program's blog at: http://blogs.nasa.gov/commercialcrew


December 10, 2015

As SpaceX plans its next blastoff, here's how it aims to stick the landing

SpaceX plans to launch a new version of its Falcon 9 rocket next week, to deliver 11 satellites into Low Earth Orbit. SpaceX will try a third time to soft-land the first rocket stage – this time on solid ground, rather than on a floating barge.

Read the rest of this story on the December 10, 2015 The Christian Science Monitor.

The Falcon 9 Rocket Launch is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 19th at 8:25pm from Launch Pad 40.


December 17, 2015

NOAA's Jason-3 Spacecraft Ready for Launch

The launch of Jason-3, an international mission led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to continue U.S.- European satellite measurements of the topography of the ocean surfaces, is scheduled for launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016. Liftoff aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg's Space Launch Complex 4 East is targeted for 10:42:18 a.m. PST (1:42:18 p.m. EST) at the opening of a 30-second launch window. If needed, a backup launch opportunity is available on the Western Range on Jan. 18 at 10:31:04 a.m. PST (1:31:04 p.m. EST).

Jason-3 will maintain the ability to monitor and precisely measure global sea surface heights, monitor the intensification of tropical cyclones and support seasonal and coastal forecasts. Data from Jason-3 will support scientific, commercial and practical applications related to ocean circulation and climate change. Additionally, Jason-3 data will be applied to fisheries management, marine industries and research into human impacts on the world's oceans.

The mission is planned to last at least three years with a goal of five years.

Jason-3 is a four-agency international partnership consisting of NOAA, NASA, the French Space Agency CNES (Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales), and EUMETSAT (the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites). Thales Alenia of France built the spacecraft.

NOAA in collaboration with the international European partners is responsible for the Jason-3 mission. JPL is responsible for NASA Jason-3 project management. NASA's Launch Services Program at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida provides launch management. SpaceX of Hawthorne, California, is NASA's launch service provider of the Falcon 9 rocket.

NASA TELEVISION COVERAGE
NASA Television will carry the prelaunch news conference starting at 1 p.m. PST (4 p.m. EST) on Friday, Jan. 15. The prelaunch news conference also will be webcast at: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv

On launch day, Jan. 17, NASA TV launch commentary coverage of the countdown will begin at 8 a.m. PST (11 a.m. EST). Launch is targeted for 10:42:18 a.m. PST (1:42:18 p.m. EST). The launch window is 30 seconds in duration. Spacecraft separation from the rocket occurs 55 minutes after launch.

NASA Web Prelaunch and Launch Coverage
For extensive prelaunch, countdown and launch day coverage of the liftoff, including the prelaunch webcast of Jason-3 aboard the Falcon 9 rocket, go to: http://blogs.nasa.gov/Jason-3

Social Media
Join the conversation online and follow the Jason-3 mission on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/Jason-3

Throughout the launch countdown, the NASA Launch Services Program and NASA JPL Twitter and Facebook accounts will be continuously updated at:

  • https://www.twitter.com/NASALSP
  • https://twitter.com/NASAKennedy
  • https://twitter.com/NASAJPL
  • https://www.facebook.com/NASALSP
  • https://www.facebook.com/NASAJPL
  • https://www.facebook.com/NASAKennedy
Live countdown coverage on NASA's launch blog begins at 8 a.m. PST (11 a.m. EST). Coverage features real-time updates of countdown milestones, as well as streaming video clips highlighting launch preparations and liftoff.

NASA JASON-3 AND FALCON 9 NEWS CENTER
The Jason-3 and Falcon 9 News Center at the NASA Vandenberg Resident Office will open Monday, Jan. 11. To speak with a NASA communications specialist, call 805-605-3051 beginning at that time. A recorded launch status report also will be available by dialing 805-734-2693.



December 06, 2015

NASA Cargo Launches to Space Station Aboard Orbital ATK Resupply Mission

New hardware that will support dozens of NASA investigations and other science experiments from around the world is among the more than 7,000 pounds of cargo on the way to the International Space Station aboard Orbital ATK's Cygnus spacecraft. It launched at 4:44:57 p.m. EST Sunday on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

"NASA is delighted at the continued progress made possible by our investment in commercial space," said NASA Deputy Administrator Dava Newman. "As we celebrate Orbital ATK's success with its fourth cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station, we look forward to the next milestones of our other commercial partners, including commercial crew launches from American soil in the near future. All these missions are critical to our journey to Mars – a journey we have already begun."

Atlas V launching Cygnus
The Atlas V launch vehicle lifts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station carrying a Cygnus resupply spacecraft to the International Space Station. Liftoff was at 4:44 p.m. EST. Science payloads include experiments that will study the behavior of gases and liquids and clarify the thermo-physical properties of molten steel; and evaluations of flame-resistant textiles.
Credits: NASA

The mission is Orbital ATK's fourth cargo delivery flight to the station through NASA's Commercial Resupply Services contract. This is the first flight of an enhanced Cygnus spacecraft to the station. The cargo freighter now features a greater payload capacity, new UltraFlex solar arrays and new fuel tanks. Cygnus' pressurized cargo module has been extended and increases the spacecraft's interior volume capacity by 25 percent, allowing more cargo to be delivered with each mission. It's also the first Cygnus mission using the Atlas V launch system.

Science payloads will support science and research investigations that will occur during the space station's Expeditions 45 and 46, including experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science -- research that impacts life on Earth. Investigations will offer a new life science facility that will support studies on cell cultures, bacteria and other microorganisms, a microsatellite deployer and the first microsatellite that will be deployed from the space station, and experiments that will study the behavior of gases and liquids and clarify the thermo-physical properties of molten steel and evaluations of flame-resistant textiles.

The Space Automated Bioproduct Lab is a new space life science facility that is designed to support a wide variety of fundamental, applied and commercial space life sciences research, as well as education-based investigations for students from kindergarten through university. The facility will support research on microorganisms, such as bacteria, yeast, algae, fungi, and viruses, as well as animal cells and tissues and small plant and animal organisms.

NanoRacks-MicroSat-SIMPL is a modular, hyper integrated satellite designed to provide complete satellite functionality in a nanosatellite scale. It will be the first NanoRacks microsatellite deployed from the space station and the first propulsion-capable satellite deployed from the NanoRacks-MicroSat-Deployer known as Kaber. The commercial deployer system aims to address the growing market of customers wanting to deploy microsatellites in orbit.

The Packed Bed Reactor Experiment studies the behavior of gases and liquids when they flow simultaneously through a column filled with fixed porous media, which is of interest in many chemical and biological processing systems, as well as numerous geophysical applications.

BASS-M (Burning and Suppression of Solids – Milliken) will evaluate flame retardant and resistant textiles as a mode of personal protection from fire-related hazards. Studying flame retardant and resistant behavior of different materials in microgravity will aid in better designs for future textiles and benefit those who wear protective clothing, such as military personnel and civilian workers in the electrical and energy industries.

The Nodes satellites, sponsored by NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate and developed by the Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, consist of two CubeSats weighing 4.5 pounds each and measuring 4 inches by 4 inches by 6.5 inches. They are an example of how technology drives innovation, as they will test new network capabilities for operating swarms of spacecraft in the future.

In addition, Cygnus will deliver replacement cargo items including a set of Microsoft HoloLens devices for use in NASA's Sidekick project, a safety jet pack astronauts wear during spacewalks known as SAFER, and high pressure nitrogen and oxygen tanks to plug into the station's air supply network.

Launch from ISS
NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, from his vantage point aboard the International Space Station, photographed the launch of Orbital ATK's Cygnus cargo spacecraft from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Credits: NASA

Cygnus will be grappled at approximately 6:10 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 9, by NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren, using the space station's Canadarm2 robotic arm to take hold of the spacecraft. Scott Kelly of NASA will support Lindgren in a backup position. The spacecraft will spend more than a month attached to the space station before its destructive re-entry into Earth's atmosphere, disposing of about 3,000 pounds of trash.

The International Space Station is a convergence of science, technology and human innovation that demonstrates new technologies and makes research breakthroughs not possible on Earth. The space station has been continuously occupied since November 2000. In that time, it has been visited by more than 200 people and a variety of international and commercial spacecraft. The space station remains the springboard to NASA's next great leap in exploration, including future missions to an asteroid and Mars.

For more information about Orbital ATK's mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/orbitalatk
For more information about the International Space Station, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station


December 01, 2015

NASA TV Coverage Set for Orbital ATK Resupply Mission to Space Station

NASA UPDATES

Cygnus spacecraft being transported for launch.
A transporter moves Orbital ATK's enhanced Cygnus spacecraft, fitted inside the payload fairing of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V, from the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida to Space Launch Complex 41. The Cygnus is a cargo-only spacecraft that will take about 7,300 pounds of experiments, equipment and supplies to the International Space Station.
Credits: United Launch Alliance
NASA commercial partner Orbital ATK has set Thursday, Dec. 3, for the launch of its fourth contracted mission to the International Space Station under the agency's Commercial Resupply Services contract. NASA Television coverage begins at 4:30 p.m. EST.

NASA confirmed the launch date at the conclusion of Tuesday's launch readiness review at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) in Florida. During the meeting, senior NASA, U.S. Air Force, Orbital ATK and United Launch Alliance managers assessed the risks associated with the mission and determined the Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft, United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket and personnel are ready for launch.

Cygnus is set to lift off on the Atlas V at 5:55 p.m., the beginning of a 30-minute launch window, from CCAFS Space Launch Complex 41. Cygnus will carry more than 7,000 pounds of science and research, crew supplies and vehicle hardware to the orbital laboratory to support dozens of approximately 250 science and research investigations that will occur during Expeditions 45 and 46. This first Cygnus mission using the Atlas V launch system provides increased performance and flexibility to the Orbital ATK cargo delivery service.

In addition to launch coverage, NASA TV will air three briefings Wednesday, Dec. 2: several experts involved in the launch and mission will host an interactive discussion with the agency's social media followers from 9 to 10:30 a.m.; at 1 p.m., scientists and researchers will discuss some of the investigations to be delivered; at 2 p.m., mission managers will host a prelaunch news conference. A post-launch briefing will be held approximately two hours after launch. All briefings will air live on NASA TV and via streaming video on the agency's website.

The new experiments arriving to the orbital laboratory will challenge and inspire future scientists and explorers. Science payloads will offer a new life science facility that will support studies on cell cultures, bacteria and other microorganisms; a microsatellite deployer and the first microsatellite that will be deployed from the space station; and experiments that will study the behavior of gases and liquids, clarify the thermo-physical properties of molten steel, and evaluate flame-resistant textiles.

Cygnus also will deliver replacement cargo items including a set of Microsoft HoloLens devices for use in NASA's Sidekick project, a safety jet pack astronauts wear during spacewalks known as SAFER, and high pressure nitrogen and oxygen tanks to plug into the station's air supply network.

This will be the first flight of an enhanced Cygnus spacecraft to the station. The cargo freighter now features a greater payload capacity, new UltraFlex solar arrays and new fuel tanks. Cygnus' pressurized cargo module has been extended and increases the spacecraft's interior volume capacity by 25 percent, enabling more cargo to be delivered with each mission.

A Dec. 3 launch will result in the Cygnus spacecraft arriving at the space station on Sunday, Dec. 6. NASA crew members Kjell Lindgren and Scott Kelly will use the station's Canadarm2 robotic arm to reach out and capture Cygnus at approximately 5:30 a.m. NASA TV coverage of rendezvous and grapple of Cygnus will begin at 4 a.m. Cygnus will be the first cargo ship to be berthed to the Earth-facing port on the Unity module. Coverage of Cygnus' installation will begin at 7:15 a.m.

The spacecraft will spend more than a month attached to the space station before its destructive re-entry into Earth's atmosphere in January 2016, disposing of about 3,000 pounds of trash.

For an updated schedule of prelaunch briefings, events and NASA TV coverage, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/1MzW1Cj

For NASA TV schedule and video streaming information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv

For launch countdown coverage, NASA's launch blog, and more information about the mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/orbitalatk

For more information about the International Space Station, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station


November 24, 2015

NASA TV Coverage Set for Fourth Orbital ATK Resupply Mission to Space Station

NASA commercial partner Orbital ATK is targeting Thursday, Dec. 3, for the launch of its fourth contracted mission to the International Space Station under the agency's Commercial Resupply Services contract. NASA Television coverage of the launch begins at 4:30 p.m. EST.

The company's Cygnus spacecraft is set to lift off on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at 5:55 p.m., the beginning of a 30-minute launch window, from Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Cygnus will carry more than 7,000 pounds of science and research, crew supplies and vehicle hardware to the orbital laboratory to support dozens of approximately 250 science and research investigations that will occur during Expeditions 45 and 46. This first Cygnus mission using the Atlas V launch system provides increased performance and flexibility to the Orbital ATK cargo delivery service.

In addition to launch coverage, NASA TV will air three briefings Wednesday, Dec. 2: several experts involved in the launch and mission will host an interactive discussion with the agency's social media followers from 9 to 10:30 a.m.; at 1 p.m., scientists and researchers will discuss some of the investigations to be delivered; at 2 p.m., mission managers will host a prelaunch news conference. A post-launch briefing will be held approximately two hours after launch. All briefings will air live on NASA TV and the agency's website.

The new experiments arriving to the orbiting laboratory will challenge and inspire future scientists and explorers. Science payloads will offer a new life science facility that will support studies on cell cultures, bacteria and other microorganisms; a microsatellite deployer and the first microsatellite that will be deployed from the space station; and experiments that will study the behavior of gases and liquids, clarify the thermo-physical properties of molten steel, and evaluate flame-resistant textiles.

Cygnus also will deliver replacement cargo items including a set of Microsoft HoloLens devices for use in NASA's Sidekick project, a safety jet pack astronauts wear during spacewalks known as SAFER, and high pressure nitrogen and oxygen tanks to plug into the station's air supply network.

This will be the first flight of an enhanced Cygnus spacecraft to the station. The cargo freighter now features a greater payload capacity, new UltraFlexTM solar arrays and new fuel tanks. Cygnus' pressurized cargo module has been extended and increases the spacecraft's interior volume capacity by 25 percent, enabling more cargo to be delivered with each mission.

A Dec. 3 launch will result in the Cygnus spacecraft arriving at the space station on Sunday, Dec. 6. NASA crew members Kjell Lindgren and Scott Kelly will use the station's Canadarm2 robotic arm to reach out and capture Cygnus at approximately 5:30 a.m. NASA TV coverage of rendezvous and grapple of Cygnus will begin at 4 a.m. Cygnus will be the first cargo ship to be berthed to the Earth-facing port on the Unity module. Coverage of Cygnus' installation will begin at 7:15 a.m.

The spacecraft will spend more than a month attached to the space station before its destructive reentry into Earth's atmosphere in January 2016, disposing of about 3,000 pounds of trash.

If the launch does not occur on Dec. 3, the next launch opportunity would be at 5:33 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 4, resulting in a grapple and berthing on Dec. 7 or Dec. 8.

ISS SCIENCE, RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGY PANEL ON NASA TV

Wednesday, Dec. 2 (L-1 day): An ISS Science, Research and Technology briefing will be held at Kennedy's Press Site at 1 p.m. NASA Television will provide live coverage, as well as streaming Internet coverage.

Participants will be:

  • Kirt Costello, deputy chief scientist, International Space Station Program Science Office, NASA's Johnson Space Center
  • Ken Shields, director of Operations and Education Outreach, Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS)
  • Dr. Brian Motil, principle investigator, Packed Bed Reactor Experiment (PBRE), NASA's Glenn Research Center, Cleveland
  • Talbot Jaeger, chief technology officer, NovaWurks, and principle investigator, Nanoracks-MicroSat-SIMPL (Satlet Initial-Mission Proofs and Lessons)
  • Andrew Petro, program executive, Small Spacecraft Technology Program, NASA Headquarters, Washington
  • Eleanor McCormack, principal, St. Thomas More Cathedral School, St. Thomas More (STM)Sat-1

PRELAUNCH NEWS CONFERENCE ON NASA TV
Wednesday, Dec. 2 (L-1 day): A prelaunch status will be held at Kennedy's Press Site at 2 p.m. NASA Television will provide live coverage, as well as streaming Internet coverage.

Participants will be:

  • Kirk Shireman, International Space Station Program manager
  • Frank Culbertson, Jr., Space Systems Group president, Orbital ATK
  • Vernon Thorpe, program manager for NASA missions, United Launch Alliance
  • Todd McNamara, launch weather officer, 45th Weather Squadron

POST-LAUNCH NEWS CONFERENCE ON NASA TV
Thursday, Dec. 3: A post-launch news conference will occur at approximately 8 p.m. and NASA Television will provide live coverage, as well as streaming Internet coverage.

Participants in the post-launch news conference will be:

  • Kirk Shireman, International Space Station Program manager
  • Frank Culbertson, Jr., Space Systems Group president, Orbital ATK
  • Vernon Thorpe, program manager for NASA missions, United Launch Alliance
NASA TV LAUNCH COVERAG
Thursday, Dec. 3 (Launch day): NASA TV live coverage will begin at 4:30 p.m. EST and conclude at approximately 7 p.m. For NASA TV downlink information, schedules and links to streaming video, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv

Audio only of the news conferences and launch coverage will be carried on the NASA "V" circuits, which may be accessed by dialing 321-867-1220, -1240, -1260 or -7135. On launch day, "mission audio," the launch conductor's countdown activities without NASA TV launch commentary, will be carried on 321-867-7135 starting at 4:15 p.m. Launch also will be available on local amateur VHF radio frequency 146.940 MHz heard within Brevard County on the Space Coast.

IN-FLIGHT NASA TV COVERAGE
If launch occurs Dec. 3, NASA TV will provide live coverage Dec. 6 of the arrival of the Cygnus cargo ship to the International Space Station. Grapple and berthing coverage will begin at 4 a.m. EST with grapple at approximately 5:30 a.m.

NASA WEB PRELAUNCH AND LAUNCH COVERAGE
Prelaunch and launch day coverage of the Orbital ATK CRS-4 flight will be available on the NASA website. Coverage will include live streaming and text updates beginning at 4:30 p.m. as the countdown milestones occur. On-demand streaming video, podcast and photos of the launch will be available shortly after liftoff. You can follow countdown coverage on our launch blog at: http://blogs.nasa.gov/orbital

Learn more about the Orbital ATK CRS-4 mission by going to the mission home page at: http://www.nasa.gov/orbitalatk

TWITTER
The Kennedy Twitter feed will be updated throughout the launch countdown. To access the feed, visit: http://www.twitter.com/NASAKennedy

FACEBOOK
The Kennedy Facebook feed will be updated throughout the launch countdown. To access the feed, visit:

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
For video b-roll and other International Space Station media resources, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/stationnews

For more information about the International Space Station, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station

For more information about the International Space Station, visit:http://www.nasa.gov/station


November 20, 2015

NASA Orders SpaceX Crew Mission to International Space Station

SpaceX's facility at Launch Pad 39A

Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida undergoes modifications by SpaceX to adapt it to the needs of the company's Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets, which are slated to lift off from the historic pad in the near future. A horizontal integration facility has been constructed near the perimeter of the pad where rockets will be processed for launch prior of rolling out to the top of the pad structure for liftoff. SpaceX anticipates using the launch pad for its Crew Dragon spacecraft for missions to the International Space Station in partnership with NASA's Commercial Crew Program. Credits: SpaceX

NASA took a significant step Friday toward expanding research opportunities aboard the International Space Station with its first mission order from Hawthorne, California based-company SpaceX to launch astronauts from U.S. soil.

This is the second in a series of four guaranteed orders NASA will make under the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contracts. The Boeing Company of Houston received its first crew mission order in May.

"It's really exciting to see SpaceX and Boeing with hardware in flow for their first crew rotation missions," said Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA's Commercial Crew Program. "It is important to have at least two healthy and robust capabilities from U.S. companies to deliver crew and critical scientific experiments from American soil to the space station throughout its lifespan."

Determination of which company will fly its mission to the station first will be made at a later time. The contracts call for orders to take place prior to certification to support the lead time necessary for missions in late 2017, provided the contractors meet readiness conditions.

Commercial crew missions to the space station, on the Boeing CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, will restore America's human spaceflight capabilities and increase the amount of time dedicated to scientific research aboard the orbiting laboratory.

SpaceX's crew transportation system, including the Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket, has advanced through several development and certification phases. The company recently performed a critical design review, which demonstrated the transportation system has reached a sufficient level of design maturity to work toward fabrication, assembly, integration and test activities.

"The authority to proceed with Dragon's first operational crew mission is a significant milestone in the Commercial Crew Program and a great source of pride for the entire SpaceX team," said Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating office of SpaceX. "When Crew Dragon takes NASA astronauts to the space station in 2017, they will be riding in one of the safest, most reliable spacecraft ever flown. We're honored to be developing this capability for NASA and our country."

Commercial crew launches will reduce the cost, per seat, of transporting NASA astronauts to the space station compared to what the agency must pay the Russian Federal Space Agency for the same service. If, however, NASA does not receive the full requested funding for CCtCap contracts in fiscal year 2016 and beyond, the agency will be forced to delay future milestones for both U.S. companies and continue its sole reliance on Russia to transport American astronauts to the space station.

Orders under the CCtCap contracts are made two to three years prior to actual mission dates in order to provide time for each company to manufacture and assemble the launch vehicle and spacecraft. Each company also must successfully complete a certification process before NASA will give the final approval for flight. Each contract includes a minimum of two and a maximum potential of six missions.

A standard commercial crew mission to the station will carry up to four NASA or NASA-sponsored crew members and about 220 pounds of pressurized cargo. The spacecraft will remain at the station for up to 210 days, available as an emergency lifeboat during that time.

"Commercial crew launches are really important for helping us meet the demand for research on the space station because it allows us to increase the crew to seven," said Julie Robinson, International Space Station chief scientist. "Over the long term, it also sets the foundation for scientific access to future commercial research platforms in low- Earth orbit."

NASA's Commercial Crew Program manages the CCtCap contracts and is working with each company to ensure commercial transportation system designs and post-certification missions will meet the agency's safety requirements. Activities that follow the award of missions include a series of mission-related reviews and approvals leading to launch. The program also will be involved in all operational phases of missions to ensure crew safety.

For the latest on Commercial Crew progress, bookmark the program's blog at: http://blogs.nasa.gov/commercialcrew


Cygnus Cargo Module
Inside the high bay in the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, was used to remove the protective covering from the Orbital ATK Cygnus pressurized module. The spacecraft will carry more than 7,000 pounds of cargo on the next resupply flight to the International Space Station. The launch currently is targeted for Thursday, Dec. 3 aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Credits: NASA/Kim Shiflett
November 06, 2015

Cygnus Cargo Module Nov. 13

The unpiloted Cygnus will be Orbital ATK's fourth cargo mission to the space station for NASA's Commercial Resupply Services contract, and the first flight of the enhanced variant of the Cygnus pressurized cargo module, which will deliver more than 7,000 pounds to the station. Cygnus consists of a pressurized cargo module for crew supplies, scientific experiments and equipment, together with an associated service module providing solar power and propulsion.

The launch is currently targeted for Thursday, Dec. 3 during a 30-minute window that opens at approximately 6 p.m., aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

For more information about the Orbital ATK resupply mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/orbital
For more information about the International Space Station, its crew and research, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station


October 30, 2015

NASA Awards Launch Services Contract for Next Tracking, Data Relay Satellite

NASA has selected United Launch Services LLC of Centennial, Colorado, to provide launch services for the agency's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-M (TDRS-M) mission. The mission will launch in October 2017 aboard an Atlas V 401 rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The total cost for NASA to launch TDRS-M is approximately $132.4 million, which includes the launch service, spacecraft processing, payload integration, tracking, data and telemetry, and other launch support requirements.

TDRS-M will join other TDRS spacecraft of the NASA Space Network, which provides voice, data, video and telemetry services for low-Earth orbiting satellites, such as the Hubble Space Telescope, the International Space Station, weather and environmental monitoring satellites. The Space Network also captures real-time telemetry data from expendable vehicles during launch and early orbit. Customers using data from scientific satellites can also take advantage of TDRS-M. Signals will be sent through the primary TDRS ground station located in White Sands, New Mexico.

NASA's Launch Services Program at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida manages and oversees the Atlas V 401 launch services for TDRS-M. The TDRS Project at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages TDRS-M spacecraft development for the agency's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate in Washington.

For more information about NASA programs and missions, visit: http://www.nasa.gov

For more information about NASA's Launch Services Program, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/launchservices


October 26, 2015

Space Station Crew Celebrates 15 Years of Human Space Exploration in Low-Earth Orbit

All six members of the Expedition 45 crew aboard the International Space Station will participate in a news conference at 10 a.m. EST on Monday, Nov. 2, to mark the start of continuous work by humans aboard the space-based laboratory 15 years ago. The 30-minute news conference will air live on NASA Television and agency's website.

Station Commander Scott Kelly and Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren of NASA, Flight Engineers Mikhail Kornienko, Oleg Kononenko and Sergey Volkov of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and Flight Engineer Kimiya Yui of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will take questions from U.S., Russian and Japanese media during the news conference.

Expedition 1 arrived at the orbital outpost Nov. 2, 2000, its first residents including Commander William Shepherd of NASA and cosmonauts Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko of Roscosmos. Their mission marked the start of an uninterrupted human presence on the complex that has seen the station grow from a modest pair of U.S. and Russian modules, to a sprawling laboratory and home the size of a football field.

Orbiting 250 miles above the Earth, astronauts aboard the station are conducting research not possible on the ground, such as the one-year mission with Kelly and Kornienko to research the effects on the human body of an extended stay in a microgravity environment. The space station also is facilitating the growth of a robust commercial market in low-Earth orbit for research, technology development, and crew and cargo transportation.

For more information about the International Space Station and its crew, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station

For NASA TV streaming video, schedule and downlink information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv


October 22, 2015

Kennedy Space Center Issues Results of Land Use Call for Proposals

After thorough consideration of the proposals received to develop additional commercial vertical launch capabilities at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the center has decided not to select a partner at this time.

Kennedy is transforming as a multi-user spaceport under a 20-year master plan. As part of that plan, the center released an Announcement for Proposals (AFP) June 2 to alert the public to a potential opportunity to develop commercial vertical launch capabilities at two launch sites on Kennedy Space Center.

Several major aerospace launch providers already are located at Kennedy and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. An initial market analysis, more than a year before issuing the AFP, indicated there may be a need for more.

A review of the AFP proposals and the current commercial market demand indicated the market wasn't sufficiently mature to make the commitment NASA sought when it issued the announcement.

The two sites mentioned in the AFP are the only locations in the center's master plan suitable for vertical launch capabilities. As a result, Kennedy will keep them for this purpose. While no decision has been made at this time to issue another AFP, as demand grows, Kennedy will look to make the sites available for commercial partnerships in the future.

For more information about Kennedy's master plan and other partnership opportunities, visit: http://kscpartnerships.ksc.nasa.gov

For more information about NASA, visit: http://www.nasa.gov


October 14, 2015

NASA Awards Venture Class Launch Services Contracts for CubeSat Satellites

NASA's Launch Services Program (LSP) has awarded multiple Venture Class Launch Services (VCLS) contracts to provide small satellites (SmallSats) -- also called CubeSats, microsats or nanosatellites -- access to low-Earth orbit.

The three companies selected to provide these new commercial launch capabilities, and the value of their firm fixed-price contracts, are:

  • Firefly Space Systems Inc. of Cedar Park, Texas, $5.5 million
  • Rocket Lab USA Inc. of Los Angeles, $6.9 million
  • Virgin Galactic LLC of Long Beach, California, $4.7 million
At present, launch opportunities for small satellites and science missions mostly are limited to rideshare-type arrangements, flying only when space is available on NASA and other launches. The services acquired through these new contract awards will constitute the smallest class of launch services used by NASA.

"LSP is attempting to foster commercial launch services dedicated to transporting smaller payloads into orbit as an alternative to the rideshare approach and to promote the continued development of the U.S. commercial space transportation industry," said Jim Norman, director of Launch Services at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "VCLS is intended to help open the door for future dedicated opportunities to launch CubeSats and other small satellites and science missions."

Small satellites, including CubeSats, are playing an increasingly larger role in exploration, technology demonstration, scientific research and educational investigations at NASA. These miniature satellites provide a low-cost platform for NASA missions, including planetary space exploration; Earth observations; fundamental Earth and space science; and developing precursor science instruments like cutting-edge laser communications, satellite-to-satellite communications and autonomous movement capabilities.

LSP supports the agency's CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI) by providing launch opportunities for more than 50 CubeSats that are awaiting launch during the next three years. The VCLS contracts will demonstrate a dedicated launch capability for smaller payloads that NASA anticipates it will require on a recurring basis for future science SmallSat and CubeSat missions.

Small satellites already are used to provide imagery collection for monitoring, analysis and disaster response. In the future, CubeSat capabilities could include ship and aircraft tracking, improved weather prediction, and the provision of broader Internet coverage.

The Earth Science Division of NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington has partnered with LSP to fund the VCLS contracts. These VCLS launches of small satellites are able to tolerate a higher level of risk than larger missions and will demonstrate, and help mitigate risks associated with, the use of small launch vehicles providing dedicated access to space for future small spacecraft and missions.

"Emerging small launch vehicles have great potential to expand the use of small satellites as integral components of NASA's Earth science orbital portfolio," said Michael Freilich, director of NASA's Earth Science Division. "Today's CubeSat technology fosters hands-on engineering and flight research training; with the addition of reliable, affordable, and dedicated access to space on small launchers, constellations of SmallSats and CubeSats could revolutionize our science-based spaceborne Earth-observing systems and capabilities. We're eager to work with the VCLS providers as they develop new launch capabilities for the Earth science community."

For more information about NASA's CubeSat Launch Initiative, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/directorates/heo/home/CubeSats_initiative.html

For more information about NASA's Launch Services Program, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy/launchingrockets/index.html

          WATCH VIDEO



October 14, 2015

Media Accreditation Open for Orbital ATK Mission to Resupply Space Station

Orbital ATK
Artist's concept of Orbital ATK's Cygnus spacecraft in orbit.
Credits: Orbital ATK
NASA has opened media accreditation for the fourth commercial resupply services launch of an Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft filled with cargo for the International Space Station. The launch is currently targeted for Thursday, Dec. 3 during a 30-minute window that opens at approximately 6 p.m. EST.

The Cygnus will lift off aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS), Florida. The mission will be the first flight of the enhanced variant of Orbital ATK's Cygnus advanced maneuvering spacecraft, capable of delivering more than 7,700 pounds of essential crew supplies, equipment and scientific experiments to the station.

Science payloads include a new life science facility that will support studies on cell cultures, bacteria, and other micro-organisms; a microsatellite deployer and the first microsatellite to be deployed from the space station; experiments that will study the behavior of gases and liquids and clarify the thermo-physical properties of molten steel; and evaluations of flame-resistant textiles.

For more information about the Orbital ATK resupply mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/orbital

For more information about the International Space Station, its crew and research, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station


October 13, 2015

NASA Innovation Expo Highlights Kennedy Technology Advances on Journey to Mars

Technological innovations underway at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida are driving the advances needed to send humans farther into the solar system than ever before, including the ambitious journey to Mars.

Beginning on Friday, Oct. 16, Kennedy and the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex will showcase some of these key innovations in the fourth annual Innovation Expo. The theme of this year's expo is "From Earth to Mars." The event will include many exhibits such as space mining robots, Robonaut and an exhibit of growing food in space, along with presentations by astronaut Nicole Stott and NASA scientists.

The expo will remain on display to visitor complex patrons through Saturday, Oct. 17.

New ideas and creativity are essential in Kennedy's transition into a 21st century, multi-user space launch complex. The Innovation Expo is designed to inspire participants by sharing past successes, current ideas and NASA's vision of the future.

For more information about the event, visit: https://public.ksc.nasa.gov/InnovationExpo

For information about the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, visit: http://www.kennedyspacecenter.com


October 07, 2015

NASA to Announce Selections for Small Satellite Launch Contract

CubeSats
The FIREBIRD-II CubeSat. Credits: Montana State University / University of New Hampshire
NASA will host a news conference at 1 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, Oct. 14, at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida to announce the outcome of the Venture Class Launch Service (VCLS) competition. The news conference will air live on NASA Television and the agency's website.

The participants are:

  • Garrett Skrobot, Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) mission lead for the Launch Services Program (LSP) at Kennedy
  • Eric Ianson, associate director of NASA's Earth Sciences Division in the Science Mission Directorate at the agency's headquarters in Washington
  • Mark Wiese, flight projects office chief, NASA Launch Services Program, Kennedy Space Center
  • Representatives from the selected launch service providers
Social media may ask questions using #askNASA.

The vehicles expected to meet the VCLS requirement represent an emerging class of commercial launch services for small satellites -- often called CubeSats or nanosatellites -- and science missions that are currently limited to ride-share arrangements, flying only when space is available on NASA and other launches.

This new class of launch services is intended to help open the door for future dedicated opportunities for CubeSat launches and science missions, so that a single rocket would be able to send dozens of the tiny spacecraft into orbit at once and on paths that best suit their scientific goals. The services acquired through such a contract will constitute the smallest class of launch services used by NASA.

In addition to the benefit of having a dedicated launch capability, this contract will save NASA the costs of developing a launch vehicle of its own for this purpose, instead paying for the launches as a service. The boosters will be developed by the commercial provider, with rocket costs supported by a wide market of users, also enabling the agency to enjoy cost savings.

VCLS is an element of a strategic initiative led by LSP and focused on assuring long-term launch services availability while also promoting the continued evolution of the U.S. commercial space launch market.

LSP supports the CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI) by providing innovators at non-profits and educational institutions an accessible way to participate in space exploration. More than 50 CubeSats currently are awaiting launch over the next three years. NASA's Earth Sciences Division anticipates future recurring science missions requiring LSP support and use of a dedicated capability for launching smaller payloads into orbit.

Small satellites, including CubeSats, are playing an increasingly larger role in exploration, technology demonstration, scientific research and educational investigations at NASA. These miniature satellites provide a low-cost platform for NASA missions, including planetary space exploration; Earth observations; fundamental Earth and space science; and developing precursor science instruments like cutting-edge laser communications, satellite-to-satellite communications and autonomous movement capabilities. They also allow educators an inexpensive means to engage students in all phases of satellite development, operation and exploitation through real-world, hands-on research and development experience on NASA-funded rideshare launch opportunities.

For NASA TV streaming video, schedule and downlink information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv


September 23, 2015

NASA Awards Flight Operations and Maintenance Support Services Contract

NASA has awarded a contract to URS Federal Services Inc., of Germantown, Maryland, to operate and maintain three UH-1H-II aircraft and associated aerospace ground equipment (AGE) in support of various NASA and government missions at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The firm-fixed price contract begins Oct. 1. It has a maximum value of $7 million with a potential performance period of five years.

The contractor will provide services to meet NASA requirements that include flight operations that are conducted under NASA and FAA regulations, and are under the direction of the Chief of Flight Operations based at the Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility. The contractor shall provide support for flight, maintenance and operations of the three UH-1H-II aircraft.

For information about NASA and agency programs, visit: http://www.nasa.gov


September 03, 2015

Media Invited to View Kennedy's 9/11 Tribute Ceremony

World Trade Center iBeam at KSC.
A section of I-beam that once strengthened the World Trade Center in New York has made
its way to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where it will serve as a memorial to
the 343 fire/rescue personnel who gave their lives to save others on Sept. 11, 2001.
Credits: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis

Media are invited to attend an event memorializing the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center at 10 a.m. EDT on Friday, Sept. 11, at Fire Station 1 on NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The event will pay tribute to the 343 fire and rescue personnel that lost their lives during the attack. In addition, a piece of the New York City World Trade Center will be on display at the event.

The ceremony will be hosted by Kennedy's Associate Director Kelvin Manning. Representatives from the Spaceport Integration and Services Directorate and local fire, rescue and police personnel will attend.

For more information about NASA's Kennedy Space Center, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/kennedy


September 02, 2015

NASA TV to Air Grand Opening of Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will participate in the grand opening of The Boeing Company's Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Friday, Sept. 4. The event will air live on NASA Television beginning at 10 a.m. EDT.

Boeing, one of two companies under contract with NASA's Commercial Crew Program to restore America's ability to launch crews to the International Space Station from the United States, will debut the modernization of the former space shuttle Orbiter Processing Facility-3, which now is home to Boeing's CST-100 spacecraft. Inside, there are more than 150 pieces of hardware, as well as the structural test article and service module that together will be used to prove the design Boeing is developing to accomplish flight tests and crew missions to the space station.

Additional participants are:

  • Robert Cabana, director of NASA's Kennedy Space Center
  • Chris Ferguson, deputy manager of the Commercial Crew Program, Operations, Boeing
  • John Elbon, vice president and general Manager of Space Exploration, Boeing
  • John Mulholland, vice president of Commercial Programs, Boeing
  • U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-Florida)
  • Florida Governor Rick Scott (R-Florida)
Through a 2011 land-use agreement between Kennedy and Space Florida, a state economic development agency, the former space shuttle hangar has been transformed to support Boeing's clean-floor factory-like concept for processing the CST-100. Kennedy has transitioned more than 50 facilities for commercial use over the past few years as the space center has evolved to a multi-user spaceport.

For more information about NASA's Kennedy Space Center, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/kennedy
For more information about NASA's Commercial Crew Program, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew


September 02, 2015

Three Space Station Crews to Answer Media Questions from Orbit

International Space Station (ISS)
Nine International Space Station crew members will discuss their mission with reporters from around the world during a joint crew news conference to air live on NASA Television at 10:10 a.m. EDT Tuesday, Sept. 8.

This will be the first time since November 2013 that nine crew members are aboard the station simultaneously.

The nine crew members represent five different space agencies:

  • NASA's Scott Kelly, one-year crew member and Expedition 45 commander, and Kjell Lindgren, Expedition 44/45 flight engineer
  • Russian Federal Space Agency's (Roscosmos') Gennady Padalka, Expedition 44 commander; Mikhail Kornienko, one-year crew member; Oleg Kononenko, Expedition 44/45 Flight Engineer; and Sergey Volkov, Expedition 45/46 flight engineer
  • Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Kimiya Yui, Expedition 44/45 flight engineer
  • ESA's (European Space Agency) Andreas Mogensen, visiting crew member
  • Kazakh Space Agency's Aidyn Aimbetov, visiting crew member
Volkov, Mogensen and Aimbetov launched aboard a Soyuz TMA-18M rocket Wednesday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The three are set to arrive at the space station on Friday, Sept. 4, and will join Kelly, Lindgren, Padalka, Kononenko, Kornienko, and Yui.

The trip enables Roscosmos to rotate a crew member and a Soyuz spacecraft. Volkov will remain aboard the station for the next six months, returning in March 2016 with one-year mission crew members Kelly and Kornienko in the Soyuz TMA-18M. Padalka, who launched in March with Kelly and Kornienko in the Soyuz TMA-16M, will return to Earth in that spacecraft on Friday, Sept. 11, with Mogensen and Aimbetov. Each Soyuz remains in orbit for about six months.

In the coming months, Expedition 45 crew members will conduct more than 250 science investigations in fields such as biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences, and technology development.

For the full schedule of docking and landing coverage, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv
For more information about the International Space Station, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station


August 12, 2015

NASA's Modified Mobile Launcher for Space Launch System

NASA's Modified Mobile Launcher
A sunrise casts a golden glow on NASA's Mobile Launcher in the Launch Complex 39 area at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program at Kennedy is overseeing upgrades and modifications to the Mobile Launcher so it can carry the agency's Space Launch System and Orion Spacecraft to Launch Pad 39B.
Credits: NASA/Ben Smegelsky

Modifications of the mobile launcher that will support NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) have been completed. SLS is the agency's new rocket that will launch astronauts in the Orion spacecraft on missions to an asteroid and eventually to Mars.

For more information about NASA's Ground Systems Development and Operations Program, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/groundsystems


August 11, 2015

NASA Selects Contractor to Prepare Launch Structure for Agency's Journey to Mars

NASA has selected J. P. Donovan Construction Inc. of Rockledge, Florida, to begin work at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on the ground structures that will launch NASA's next-generation rocket and spacecraft on the journey to Mars and other deep-space destinations.

The Ground Systems Development and Operations (GSDO) Mobile Launcher Ground Support Equipment Installation contract is a firm, fixed-price contract that extends for 455 calendar days and has a maximum value of $45.8 million. Significant subcontractors are Core Electric of Melbourne, Florida; MDI Services, LLC of Orlando, Florida; and Bragg Crane & Rigging of Long Beach, California.

J.P. Donovan Construction will install and integrate ground support equipment onto the existing Mobile Launcher to modify the structure with systems necessary to assemble, process and launch NASA's integrated Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft.

GSDO's primary objective is to prepare Kennedy to process and launch the next-generation vehicles and spacecraft designed to achieve NASA's goals for space exploration. To achieve this transformation, program personnel are developing the necessary ground systems while refurbishing and upgrading infrastructure and facilities to meet tomorrow's demands. This modernization effort keeps flexibility in mind, in order to accommodate a multitude of government, commercial and other customers.

For more information about NASA programs for the journey to Mars, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/groundsystems


July 14, 2015

New Small Class Vehicle Launch Pad 39C

Launch Complex 39B - Pad C
An aerial view of Launch Complex 39B at NASA's Kennedy Space Center shows
the small launch area called Pad C in the southeast corner of the perimeter.
Credits: NASA/Kim Shiflett

NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida took another step forward in its transformation into a 21st Century multi-user spaceport with the creation of a new launch pad that is designed to attract smaller aerospace companies and enable them to develop and launch their vehicles from the center.

A ceremony will be hosted on July 17th by Kennedy Director Bob Cabana and representatives from the Ground Systems Development and Operations Program and Kennedy's Center Planning and Development and Engineering Directorates.

For more information about NASA's Kennedy Space Center, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/kennedy


July 09, 2015

NASA Selects Astronauts for First U.S. Commercial Spaceflights

NASA has selected four astronauts to train and prepare for commercial spaceflights that will return American launches to U.S. soil and further open up low-Earth orbit transportation to the private sector. The selections are the latest major milestone in the Obama Administration's plan to partner with U.S. industry to transport astronauts to space, create good-paying American jobs and end the nation's sole reliance on Russia for space travel.

First U.S. Commercial Spaceflight Astronauts

"I am pleased to announce four American space pioneers have been selected to be the first astronauts to train to fly to space on commercial crew vehicles, all part of our ambitious plan to return space launches to U.S. soil, create good-paying American jobs and advance our goal of sending humans farther into the solar system than ever before," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "These distinguished, veteran astronauts are blazing a new trail -- a trail that will one day land them in the history books and Americans on the surface of Mars."

Video Presentation By These Astronauts

We selected four astronauts to train and prepare for commercial spaceflights that will return American launches to U.S....

Posted by NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration on Thursday, July 9, 2015

NASA named experienced astronauts and test pilots Robert Behnken, Eric Boe, Douglas Hurley and Sunita Williams to work closely with The Boeing Company and SpaceX to develop their crew transportation systems and provide crew transportation services to and from the International Space Station (ISS).

"Today, NASA announced that it has selected four, veteran astronauts to be the first to fly to space on commercial carriers," said John Holdren, assistant to the President for Science and Technology and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. "Their selection allows NASA to move forward with the training necessary to deliver on President Obama's ambitious plan for returning the launch of U.S. astronauts to U.S. soil, while creating good-paying American jobs, and moving us closer to the President's goal of sending astronauts to Mars in the 2030s."

The commercial crew astronauts will work closely with company-led teams to understand their designs and operations as they finalize their Boeing CST-100 and SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and operational strategies in support of their crewed flight tests and certification activities as part of their contracts with NASA.

"This is a new and exciting era in the history of U.S. human spaceflight," said Brian Kelly, director of Flight Operations at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. "These four individuals, like so many at NASA and the Flight Operations Directorate, have dedicated their careers to becoming experts in the field of aeronautics and furthering human space exploration. The selection of these experienced astronauts who are eligible to fly aboard the test flights for the next generation of U.S. spacecraft to the ISS and low-Earth orbit ensures that the crews will be well-prepared and thoroughly trained for their missions."

The Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contracts with Boeing and SpaceX each require at least one crewed flight test with at least one NASA astronaut on board to verify the fully-integrated rocket and spacecraft system can launch, maneuver in orbit, and dock to the space station, as well as validate all systems perform as expected, and land safely.

"We are excited to have such an experienced group of astronauts working with the Commercial Crew Program, Boeing and SpaceX and ultimately flying on the companies' flight test missions," said Commercial Crew Program Manager Kathy Lueders. "Naming these astronauts is a key step forward and consistent with past approaches to involve the crew in the design and development of new systems."

Once the test program is completed successfully, and the systems are certified by NASA, the companies will conduct between two and six crew rotation missions to the space station. Each mission will transport four NASA crew members and at least 220.5 pounds of pressurized cargo to and from the orbiting laboratory.

Commercial Provider Statements

"Congratulations to Bob, Eric, Doug and Sunita and welcome to the Commercial Crew team," said John Elbon, Boeing Vice President and General Manager, Space Exploration. "We look forward to working with such a highly-skilled and experienced group of NASA astronauts as we carve a path forward to launch in 2017."

"Congratulations to Bob, Doug, Eric and Suni on being the first group of astronauts selected for flight training as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program," said Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO of SpaceX. "We look forward to working with them even more closely as we prepare for the first human missions to the space station on Crew Dragon. Human spaceflight is why SpaceX was founded, and we look forward to supporting our nation's exploration efforts by launching astronauts from America again."

The Commercial Crew Astronauts

Robert Behnken is a U.S. Air Force colonel from St. Anne, Missouri, who accumulated more than 1,300 flight hours in more than 25 different aircraft types. NASA selected Behnken as an astronaut in July 2000, and he reported for training in August 2000.

Behnken flew on space shuttle missions STS-123 in March 2008 and STS-130 in February 2010, logging more than 29 days in space, including more than 37 hours during six spacewalks. He earned bachelor's degrees in physics and mechanical engineering from Washington University in 1992, and a master's and doctoral degree in mechanical engineering from the California Institute of Technology in 1993 and 1997, respectively. Behnken has served as chief of the Astronaut Office since 2012. U.S. Navy Capt. Chris Cassidy is replacing Behnken as chief of the Astronaut Office.

Eric Boe, also a U.S. Air Force colonel, was born in Miami and grew up in Atlanta. As an Air Force pilot, he flew more than 5,000 hours in more than 45 different aircraft before NASA selected him as an astronaut in July 2000. A veteran of two spaceflights, STS-126 in November 2008 and STS-133 in February of 2011, Boe has spent more than 28 days in space.

While in the Astronaut Office, Boe's technical assignments included serving as the NASA director of operations at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, and as the deputy chief of the Astronaut Office. He earned a Bachelor of Science in astronautical engineering from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1987 and a Master of Science in electrical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1997.

Douglas Hurley, a retired U.S. Marine colonel, was born in Endicott, New York, and considers Apalachin, New York, his hometown. Hurley retired from the military in 2012 after more than 24 years of service as a Naval aviator who flew more than 4,500 hours in more than 25 different types of aircraft. He also was selected as an astronaut in 2000, and spent more than 28 days in space, flying as the pilot of STS-127 in July 2009 and STS-135 in July 2011, the last flight of the Space Shuttle Program.

Hurley served in several technical assignments within the Astronaut Office including as the NASA director of operations at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia. His most recent assignment was as the assistant director of New Programs for the Flight Operations Directorate at Johnson. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering from Tulane University in New Orleans in 1988.

Sunita Williams, a U.S. Navy captain, was born in Euclid, Ohio, and considers Needham, Massachusetts, her hometown. Williams received her commission in the Navy in May 1987 and became a helicopter pilot, logging more than 3,000 flight hours in more than 30 different aircraft. NASA chose Williams for the astronaut program in 1998.

A veteran of two long-duration spaceflights, Williams spent a total of 322 days in space and currently holds the record for total cumulative spacewalk time by a female astronaut (50 hours and 40 minutes). She now ranks sixth on the all-time U.S. endurance list, and second all-time for a female astronaut. She graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1987 with a bachelor of science in physical science, and from the Florida Institute of Technology in 1995 with a master of science in engineering management.

For the latest information about Commercial Crew progress, follow the blog at: http://blogs.nasa.gov/commercialcrew
For more information about the International Space Station, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station


June 27, 2015

'Forever Remembered' Exhibit Honoring Challenger and Columbia Opens at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Forever Remembered exhibit honoring Space Shuttles Challenger and Columbia.
A permanent memorial, "Forever Remembered," is unveiled June 27 in the
Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
in Florida. NASA and astronaut families collaborated on the memorial designed
to honor the crews lost on missions STS-51L and STS-107, pay tribute to shuttle
vehicles Challenger and Columbia, and emphasize the importance of learning from
the past. Encompassing nearly 2,000 square feet, the memorial contains the largest
collection of memorabilia and personal items of both flight crews. It also includes recovered
hardware from both Challenger and Columbia, never before displayed for the public.
Credits: Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

NASA and the families of the crews of space shuttle missions STS-51L and STS-107 have collaborated to create a new, permanent memorial designed to honor the astronauts, pay tribute to orbiters Challenger and Columbia, and emphasize the importance of learning from the past. "Forever Remembered" opened Saturday at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida, where it completes NASA's 30-year Space Shuttle Program story told throughout the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit.

Encompassing nearly 2,000 square feet, the memorial contains the largest collection of personal items of both flight crews. It also includes recovered hardware from both Challenger and Columbia, never before on display for viewing by the public.

Family members were present at a small ceremony as the memorial was formally opened by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana, both veteran shuttle astronauts.

"The crews of Challenger and Columbia are forever a part of a story that is ongoing," Bolden said. "It is the story of humankind's evolving journey into space, the unknown, and the outer-reaches of knowledge, discovery and possibility. It is a story of hope."

The Space Shuttle Program story is full of spectacular successes. From its maiden voyage in 1981 to its final touchdown in 2011, the capable, reusable delta-winged vehicle captivated a generation. Teams of astronauts pulled off seemingly impossible feats in Earth orbit while a cast of thousands supported them from the ground.

But the shuttle story also includes the losses of 14 courageous astronauts and the nation's first two shuttles, Columbia and Challenger. The tragedies galvanized the agency to learn from these painful events, not only to safely return the shuttle fleet to flight, but to help assure the safety of future explorers.

Temperatures at Kennedy Space Center were just a few degrees above freezing on the morning of Jan. 28, 1986, as Challenger lifted off on its 10th mission, STS-51L. One minute and 13 seconds into the flight, a booster failure caused an explosion that destroyed the vehicle, resulting in the loss of the crew of seven astronauts: Commander Francis Scobee, Pilot Michael Smith, Mission Specialists Judith Resnik, Ellison Onizuka and Ronald McNair, and Payload Specialists Gregory Jarvis and Christa McAuliffe, a New Hampshire schoolteacher.

Seventeen years later, on Jan. 16, 2003, NASA's flagship orbiter Columbia thundered into orbit on STS-107, a 16-day science mission. On board were Commander Rick Husband, Pilot Willie McCool, Payload Commander Michael Anderson, Mission Specialists Kalpana Chawla, David Brown and Laurel Clark, and Payload Specialist Ilan Ramon, Israel's first astronaut. On Feb. 1, 2003, the orbiter broke apart in the skies above east Texas as it re-entered Earth's atmosphere on the way to a planned landing at Kennedy. Seven more lives were lost.

"I believe that it's important to share this story with everyone, and not just push it aside, or try to hide it," Cabana said. "These crews and these vehicles are part of who we are as an agency, and a nation. They tell the story of our never ending quest to explore, and our undying spirit to never give up."

"Forever Remembered" is designed to be an emotional experience, according to NASA's Mike Ciannilli, who has been NASA's lead on the memorial project since it began about four years ago. At the time, Ciannilli was a NASA Test Director and Landing Recovery Director.

"Emotion is timeless," Ciannilli explained. "It's important that we don't lock this experience into a certain time, a certain place."

Visitors enter the memorial through a doorway flanked by the STS-51L and STS-107 mission patches. The orbiter and crew are remembered through individual collections lining the walls: Challenger on the left, Columbia on the right. The items were carefully chosen to share each astronaut's passions, talents and achievements, allowing their personalities to shine through.

Items include Husband's cowboy boots and Bible, a small aircraft Smith hand-carved for his wife, Anderson's vintage Star Trek lunch box, and a research paper authored by Judy Resnik, displayed alongside sheet music for violin and piano. There are flight jackets, family photographs and numerous other artifacts offering a glimpse into the people behind the names on the mission patches. Many items were loaned by the families; others belong to NASA.

"The families have been unbelievably gracious, inspiring, warm and giving," Ciannilli said. "There were times they provided comfort to me as I worked on this, and still do."

At the end of the first hall, the warmth of the astronauts' collections gives way to a small gallery where guests will see firsthand the toll these events took on the shuttle hardware. A section of Challenger's fuselage displaying the American flag stands at left; on the right, the flight deck windows of Columbia are placed at eye level.

"When I look into those windows, I see John Young and Bob Crippen preparing to launch on the boldest test flight in history, the first flight of America's space shuttle, Columbia," Cabana said.

"I see a much younger Bob Cabana launching to space on his first command, and I see Rick and Willie and the rest of the 107 crew smiling and experiencing the wonders of space on the final flight of Columbia."

While great care has been taken to preserve the pieces, they're real, bearing the scars of the trauma each shuttle endured.

"Forever Remembered" concludes with a focus on the recovery and return-to-flight efforts, including the emotional toll these events had on the nation, the challenges involved in recovery, and the triumph of return to flight. A looping video shares heartfelt letters written by children as they shared their condolences and messages of hope.

After each loss, investigators spent months looking at recovered hardware, poring over data and conducting analysis to determine what had gone wrong. A second video reveals rarely seen photos and footage of this painstaking process.

The space shuttle team pulled together to fix the problems and return the program to flight each time. Any less effort would not have honored the fallen astronauts or their missions. Shuttle Atlantis, on display nearby, flew the final mission of the Space Shuttle Program, STS-135.

"The artifacts here on display are not easy to look at. Many of them are on display for the very first time," Bolden said. "It is our hope that by making them available for the public to view, we will help remind the world, that every launch, every discovery, every measure of progress, is possible only because of the sacrifice of those we have lost."

For information about Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, visit: http://www.kennedyspacecenter.com


June 26, 2015

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Opens New Exhibit Saturday

Street view of the Space Shuttle Atlantis building at the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex
The 90,000-square-foot "Space Shuttle Atlantis" facility, home to the now-retired space shuttle
Atlantis, is a crowd pleaser at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida.
Credits: NASA/Dan Casper

The new exhibit will open to the public at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 27.

For information about Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, visit: http://www.kennedyspacecenter.com



June 22, 2015

NASA Signs Agreement with Space Florida to Operate Historic Landing Facility

Runway at the Kennedy Space Center, Titusville, FL
This aerial photo of the runway at the KSC Shuttle Landing Facility looks north. Longer and wider than most
commercial runways, it is 15,000 feet long, with 1,000-foot paved overruns on each end, and 300 feet wide,
with 50-foot asphalt shoulders. The runway is used by military and civilian cargo carriers,
astronauts' T-38 trainers, Shuttle Training Aircraft and helicopters, as well as the Space Shuttle.
Credits: NASA

A new agreement marks another step in the transformation of NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida to a multi-user spaceport. NASA's historic Shuttle Landing Facility, the site of one of the longest runways in the world, has a new operator.

"Our journey to Mars goes straight through Florida, and this agreement helps amplify the many ways that our critical Kennedy Space Center can support the next generation of human spaceflight," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.

A 30-year property agreement for the operations and management of the facility, located at Kennedy, has been signed by NASA and Space Florida, the aerospace and spaceport development authority for the state of Florida.

"Following the final space shuttle landing in 2011, the site has transformed into a multi-user facility supporting a variety of commercial and government partners," said Bob Cabana, Kennedy director. "We look forward to partnering with Space Florida to expand upon the multi-use of this historical asset."

Private companies frequently request time on the Shuttle Landing Facility. That demand is expected to increase as businesses that were commercial startups evolve into mature enterprises. The new arrangement with Space Florida is expected to maximize opportunities to use the runway creatively while maintaining its ability to serve NASA and the center, which has transformed to a multi-user spaceport.

"This marks the dawn of a new era for horizontal spaceflight in Florida and the country as a whole," said Space Florida's president and CEO Frank DiBello. "The most storied runway in the world will now become the cornerstone of Florida's next generation commercial spaceport."

Built in 1974 for space shuttles returning to Kennedy, the facility opened for flights in 1976. The concrete runway is 15,000 feet long and 300 feet wide and is capable of supporting all types and sizes of aircraft and horizontal launch and landing vehicles.

For more information about partnership opportunities with Kennedy, visit: http://kscpartnerships.ksc.nasa.gov
For more information on Space Florida, visit: http://www.spaceflorida.gov
For more information on NASA and agency programs, visit: http://www.nasa.gov


June 19, 2015

NASA TV Coverage Set for Seventh SpaceX Resupply Mission to Space Station

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida carrying
the Dragon resupply spacecraft on the sixth commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station.
Credits: NASA/Kim Shiflett

NASA commercial partner SpaceX currently is targeting Sunday, June 28, for the launch of its seventh cargo delivery to the International Space Station under the agency's Commercial Resupply Services contract. NASA Television coverage of the launch begins at 9 a.m. EDT.

The company's Falcon 9 rocket will lift off at 10:21 a.m. carrying its Dragon cargo spacecraft to the station from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The Dragon spacecraft will be filled with more than 4,000 pounds of supplies and payloads, including critical materials for the science and research investigations that will occur during Expeditions 44 and 45.

In addition to launch coverage, NASA also will host a series of prelaunch news conferences and events on Friday, June 26, and Thursday, June 27, at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. All briefings will air live on NASA TV and the agency's website.

Science payloads will offer new insight to combustion in microgravity, perform the first space-based observations of meteors entering Earth's atmosphere, continue solving potential crew health risks and make new strides toward being able to grow food in space. Research continues to support the twins study and one-year mission investigations with NASA astronaut Scott Kelly.

This mission also is launching more than 30 student experiments, all of which are flying to the U.S. National Laboratory managed by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS).

The first of two International Docking Adapters for the station will be delivered in Dragon's unpressurized trunk. The adapters will enable space station docking of commercial crew spacecraft, including the Boeing CST-100 and SpaceX Crew Dragon.

A Sunday launch will result in the Dragon spacecraft arriving at the space station on Tuesday, June 30. Expedition 44 Flight Engineer Scott Kelly of NASA will use the station's Canadarm2 robotic arm to reach out and capture Dragon at approximately 7 a.m. Station commander Gennady Padalka of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) will support Kelly as they operate from the station's cupola.

NASA TV coverage of rendezvous and grapple of Dragon will begin at 5:30 a.m. Coverage of Dragon's installation to the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module will begin at 8:30 a.m.

If the launch does not occur on Sunday, the next launch opportunity would be at 9:58 a.m. on Monday, June 29, resulting in a grapple and berthing on Thursday, July 2.

After more than five weeks at the space station, the spacecraft will return with more than 1,400 pounds of cargo, including science experiments, crew supplies, hardware and computer resources, space station hardware, and trash.

ISS SCIENCE, RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGY PANEL ON NASA TV
Friday, June 26 (L-2 days): An ISS Science, Research and Technology briefing will be held at Kennedy's Press Site at 1 p.m. NASA Television will provide live coverage, as well as streaming Internet coverage.
Participants will be:

  • Dr. Julie Robinson, chief program scientist, International Space Station, NASA's Johnson Space Center
  • Dr. Michael B. Stenger, principal investigator, Fluid Shifts, Wyle Science Technology and Engineering Group, Houston
  • Dr. Alessandro Grattoni, principal investigator, Microchannel Diffusion, Houston Methodist Research Institute, for the Center for the Advancement for Science in Space (CASIS)
  • CASIS representative TBD

INTERNATIONAL DOCKING ADAPTER/COMMERCIAL CREW/PRELAUNCH PANEL ON NASA TV
Saturday, June 27 (L-1 day): A briefing covering the International Docking Adapter, Commercial Crew and a prelaunch status will be held at Kennedy's Press Site at 2 p.m. EDT. NASA Television will provide live coverage, as well as streaming Internet coverage.
Participants will be:

  • International Space Station Program representative TBD
  • Commercial Crew Program representative TBD
  • Chris Ferguson, Crew and Mission Systems director, Boeing
  • Hans Koenigsmann, vice president of Mission Assurance, SpaceX
  • Kathy Winters, launch weather officer, 45th Weather Squadron

POST-LAUNCH NEWS CONFERENCE ON NASA TV
Sunday, June 28: A post-launch news conference will be held at approximately 90 minutes after launch. NASA Television will provide live coverage, as well as streaming Internet coverage.
Participants in the post-launch news conference will be:

  • International Space Station representative TBD
  • Hans Koenigsmann, vice president of Mission Assurance, SpaceX

NASA TV LAUNCH COVERAGE
Sunday, June 28 (Launch day): NASA TV live coverage will begin at 9 a.m. EDT and conclude at approximately 11 a.m. For NASA TV downlink information, schedules and links to streaming video, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv

Audio only of the news conferences and launch coverage will be carried on the NASA "V" circuits, which may be accessed by dialing 321-867-1220, -1240, -1260 or -7135. On launch day, "mission audio," the launch conductor's countdown activities without NASA TV launch commentary, will be carried on 321-867-7135 starting at 8:30 a.m. Launch also will be available on local amateur VHF radio frequency 146.940 MHz heard within Brevard County on the Space Coast.

IN-FLIGHT NASA TV COVERAGE
If launch occurs June 28, NASA TV will provide live coverage June 30 of the arrival of the Dragon cargo ship to the International Space Station. Grapple and berthing coverage will begin at 5:30 a.m. EDT with grapple at approximately 7 a.m.

NASA WEB PRELAUNCH AND LAUNCH COVERAGE
Prelaunch and launch day coverage of the SpaceX CRS-7 flight will be available on the NASA website. Coverage will include live streaming and text updates beginning at 9 a.m. as the countdown milestones occur. On-demand streaming video, podcast and photos of the launch will be available shortly after liftoff. You can follow countdown coverage on our launch blog and learn more about the SpaceX CRS-7 mission by going to the mission home page at: http://www.nasa.gov/SpaceX

TWITTER
The Kennedy Twitter feed will be updated throughout the launch countdown. To access the feed, visit: http://www.twitter.com/NASAKennedy
FACEBOOK
The Kennedy Facebook feed will be updated throughout the launch countdown. To access the feed, visit: http://www.facebook.com/NASAKennedy

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
For video b-roll and other International Space Station media resources, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/stationnews
For more information about the International Space Station, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station
For video b-roll and other International Space Station media resources, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/stationnews
For more information about the International Space Station, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station


June 15, 2015

NASA Solicits Proposals for Use of Kennedy Space Center's Vehicle Assembly Building High Bay 2

NASA's VAB seeking tenants
The Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida is a unique
facility capable of stacking rockets as high as 450 feet tall using its 325-ton cranes.
Credits: NASA

NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida has released an announcement for proposals (AFP) for private companies interested in using its Vehicle Assembly Building, High Bay 2 (VAB HB2) for assembly, integration and testing of launch vehicles.

In addition to VAB HB2, the center has three Mobile Launcher Platforms (MLPs) available for reuse in commercial space operations. This announcement supports Kennedy's transformation to a multi-user spaceport that effectively utilizes assets identified in the center's 20-year Master Plan.

"Making unique capabilities like the VAB available to commercial companies is yet another step in our evolution to a diverse spaceport that supports government and commercial partners," said Scott Colloredo, director of Center Planning and Development at Kennedy. "The Space Launch System relies on the VAB for assembly and integration, but High Bay 2 will be available in 2016 for commercial users, and we want to fully explore who might have a need for a massive integration facility at Launch Complex 39."

The VAB is a unique facility capable of stacking rockets as high as 450 feet tall using its 325-ton cranes. The facility is in close proximity to heavy lift launch pads located along the Eastern Range and has connectivity to Kennedy's integration, checkout and launch infrastructure. High Bay 2 is located on the west side of the facility.

Kennedy has transformed from a government-focused launch base to a multi-user spaceport that can accommodate different vehicles, systems and commercial launch providers, and continues to evolve to support changing markets. Kennedy features a host of launch and processing facilities, a one-of-a-kind runway and laboratories suited to multiple needs. The center is well-equipped to support the full spectrum of needs for space launch service companies.

The official announcement, and additional details concerning criteria and requirements, can be found at: http://go.nasa.gov/1DHaDrI
Kennedy's Master Plan is available at: http://masterplan.ksc.nasa.gov/
For information on additional partnership opportunities at Kennedy, visit: http://kscpartnerships.ksc.nasa.gov/


June 12, 2015

NASA Issues Request for Proposals for New Class of Launch Services

NASA's Launch Services Program has issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for new commercial Venture Class Launch Services (VCLS) for small satellites, often called CubeSats or nanosatellites, and experiments on science missions using a class of rockets smaller than any currently available to the agency.

Drawing of a cube satellite. Not NASA. NASA plans to award one or more firm fixed-price VCLS contracts to accommodate 132 pounds (60 kilograms) of CubeSats in a single launch or two launches carrying 66 pounds (30 kilograms) each. The launch provider will determine the launch location and date, but the launch must occur by April 15, 2018.

At present, launch opportunities for small satellites and science missions are primarily limited to ride-share type arrangements, flying only when space is available on NASA and other launches. NASA's Launch Services Program (LSP) seeks to develop alternatives to this approach and help foster other launch services dedicated to transporting smaller payloads into orbit. The services acquired through such a contract will constitute the smallest class of launch services used by NASA.

This solicitation, and resulting contract or contracts, is intended to demonstrate a dedicated launch capability for smaller payloads that NASA anticipates it will require on a recurring basis for future science and CubeSat missions.

The services acquired under the RFP mean NASA does not have to support a CubeSat launch vehicle on its own or pay for its development. The agency can buy the launch service as any other customer could and enjoy the savings since the rocket's costs are supported by a wide market of users. The boosters would be developed privately, and a single rocket would be able to send dozens of the tiny spacecraft into orbit at once on paths that best suit their scientific goals. Some of the tiny craft that contain experiments and sensors inside the form factor of a 4 inch cube may even be sent beyond Earth orbit to send back reports from deep space.

NASA's CubeSat Launch Initiative provides innovators at non-profits, educational institutions, and NASA sponsor missions with an accessible way to participate in space exploration. Universities, science clubs and organizations with an idea for a Kickstarter campaign can afford to build a small satellite and compete to get it flown whereas traditional large satellites require a great deal more resources and involvement of many agencies and institutions to accomplish. For example, past CubeSats have been built with parts from smartphones, while others are a custom blend of materials and equipment. The next CubeSat launch opportunity through the CubeSat Launch Initiative will be released in early August.

CubeSats already are used in the commercial sector for purposes, such as imagery collection and analysis, and are being used for operational purposes instead of being limited to research and development.

"This will start to open up viable commercial opportunities," said Mark Wiese, chief of the flight projects office for LSP. "We hope to be one of the first customers for these companies, and once we get going, the regular launches will drive the costs down for everyone."

The emerging uses are for data valuable to a number of industries including farming, shipping, data networking and the insurance field. The uses for the satellites, even as small as they are, require them to be in particular orbits in some cases, so piggybacking on the launch of another mission that may be heading to an orbit that is not as useful is no longer acceptable for the CubeSat market, Wiese said.

Dedicated rockets for small satellites also will benefit NASA's missions by pushing cutting-edge technology faster from the research level to usable stage. A sensor that works well in the lab, but has not been flown in space will find it difficult to get a trip to Mars on a major spacecraft, for instance. On the other hand, if that sensor could be flown on a CubeSat and show its effectiveness, a future use becomes more practical more quickly.

"It proves the technology for our larger spacecraft," said Garrett Skrobot, Educational Launch of Nano-satellite (ELaNa) mission manager. "If we find a sensor or a battery that works better, we can fly it on one of these and show whether it works. Then the team that uses it on something else does so with a lot more confidence."

The drive comes as CubeSat designers learn how to build observatories capable of studying distant black holes and cosmic X-ray background to track geomagnetic storms of Earth's weather patterns.

"As we drive costs down, that frees up more money for science," Wiese said. "We see this emerging capability to launch CubeSats as something the world is going to need."

The VCLS RFP is available at: http://go.nasa.gov/1L2WUkM

For more information about NASA's CubeSat Launch Initiative, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/directorates/heo/home/CubeSats_initiative.html

NASA's Launch Services Program is focused on assuring the availability of long-term launch services for NASA while also promoting the continued evolution of the U.S. commercial space launch market. The capability anticipated to meet the requirement for a smaller launch vehicle represents an emerging category of launch services.

For more information about NASA's Launch Services Program, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy/launchingrockets/index.html


June 11, 2015

Next SpaceX Station Resupply Launch

SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft will launch on a Falcon 9 rocketon June 26th at approximately 11:09 a.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on the company's seventh NASA-contracted cargo mission and its eighth visit to the station. The flight will deliver several tons of supplies, such as new science experiments and technology research, as well as the first of two International Docking Adapters. These adapters will be installed on the station to facilitate docking of commercial crew spacecraft, including the Boeing CST-100 and SpaceX Crew Dragon.

For more information about the SpaceX resupply mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/spacex
For information about the International Space Station, its crew and research, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station


June 11, 2015

NASA Mourns Loss of Former Launch Commentator Jack King

Jack King - NASA launch commentator
In the Firing Room of the Kennedy Space Center's Launch Control Center, Jack King's announcements keep the public up-to-date during the countdown for Apollo 12, the second lunar landing mission launched Nov. 14, 1969. With one exception (Apollo 13), King provided launch countdown commentary for every American human spaceflight from Gemini 4 in 1965 through Apollo 15 in 1971.
Credits: NASA

John W. (Jack) King, former chief of Public Information at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, died June 11, 2015. He was 84. A resident of Cocoa Beach, Florida, King worked in the space agency's Public Affairs office from 1960 until 1975. He returned to Kennedy in 1997, working for space shuttle contractor United Space Alliance until his 2010 retirement. According to Hugh Harris, retired director of NASA Public Affairs at Kennedy, King was instrumental in instituting open communications with the public during the beginning of America's civilian space program.

"Jack helped establish the original systems to ensure the news media received timely and accurate information about both the early human flight programs and the unmanned missions," Harris said.

Born in the Brighton section of Boston, Massachusetts, in April 1931, King was the son of the sports editor for the Associated Press. In 1953 he earned a bachelor's degree in English from Boston College.

King was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Army artillery corps immediately after graduation and served two years in Korea and Japan from 1953 through 1955.

After his military service, King followed in his father's footsteps as a news reporter in the Associated Press Boston Bureau. Shortly after the United States launched its first satellite, Explorer 1, in 1958, King was assigned to cover the fledgling space program from Cocoa Beach, Florida.

In 1960, Kurt Debus, Kennedy Space Center's first director, hired King to serve as NASA's chief of Public Information based on his experience as the space reporter and bureau chief for the Associated Press Cape Canaveral Bureau from 1958 to 1959. Many of the launches were classified military rockets and a new mindset was required at the growing launch center.

"The biggest PR job I had to do was with our own people in order to get information that I could pass out to the news media," King said during an interview for an oral history project in June 2002. "These were the early days when things were just starting out."

During that time, the attention of the world and many of America's leaders focused on Cape Canaveral. Three weeks after Alan Shepard became the first American in space on May 5, 1961, President John F. Kennedy raised the sights of the space program even further.

"Right after the Shepard launch is when Kennedy said, let's go to the moon," King said. "After (John) Glenn was launched ... Kennedy was at (Cape Canaveral) welcoming him back."

King served as manager of press operations for 12 years, spanning the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs.

During that time, King was the "voice of launch control" for virtually every human mission from Gemini 4 to Apollo 15. He described countdown events as millions around the world watched the liftoff of the Saturn V rocket that carried the Apollo 11 astronauts to the moon.

In 1972, King became director of Public Affairs for NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. There he had wider responsibilities for directing programs that included education outreach, exhibits and astronaut appearances, as well as intergovernmental and community relations.

After the United States and Soviet Union agreed to a mission in which an Apollo spacecraft would link up with a Soyuz in July 1975, King joined a three-member team that negotiated the joint information plan for the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, or ASTP. The resulting agreement included the first live television coverage of a Russian rocket launch and Soyuz landing at the end of the Russian portion of the flight.

After ASTP, King moved to Washington, D.C., accepting a position as director of Public Affairs for the Department of Energy Research and Development to build an agencywide publicity program in solar, fossil and nuclear energy.

King left government service in 1977 to work for Dr. Armand Hammer, chairman of Occidental International Corp., for whom he developed and implemented a wide-ranging public relations program. He also served as the chairman's speech writer and coordinator of media events in connection with his numerous travels and philanthropic activities.

After Hammer's death in December 1990, King served as vice president of Powell Tate, a leading communications and public affairs firm in Washington, specializing in defense, space technology and energy issues.

King returned to Florida's Space Coast in 1997, assuming responsibilities for news media relations for United Space Alliance (USA), NASA's prime contractor for day-to-day Space Shuttle Program operations.

King was a two-time recipient of the NASA Exceptional Service Medal and winner of the Aviation/Space Writer's Lawrence Award as the outstanding U.S. government public information officer in 1969. In 2000, he was one of the first two recipients of the Harry Kolcum Memorial News and Communications Award presented by the National Space Club Florida Committee, recognizing the highest standards in journalism and public affairs work.

King retired from USA in October 2010, but continued to serve as a NASA public affairs volunteer.

A widower, King and his wife Evelyn were married 39 years prior to her death in 2005. They had three children and five grandchildren.

For more information about the Kennedy Space Center, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/kennedy


June 08, 2015

NASA Commercial Crew Partner SpaceX Achieves Pad Abort Milestone Approval

SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft splas down.
SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean under three main parachutes following a successful test on May 6, 2015 of the spacecraft's ability to save astronauts in the unlikely event of a life-threatening situation on the launch pad. Credits: NASA

NASA has approved a $30 million milestone payment to SpaceX under the agency's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) agreement with the company following a recent and successful pad abort test of its Crew Dragon spacecraft.

Data gathered during the test are critical to understanding the safety and performance of the Crew Dragon spacecraft as the company continues on the path to certification for crew missions to the International Space Station, and helping return the ability to launch astronauts from the United States.

The Crew Dragon's eight SuperDraco engines fired at 9 a.m. EDT on May 6 for about six seconds, each instantly producing about 15,000 pounds of thrust and lifting the spacecraft off a specially built platform at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 40 in Florida. The spacecraft traveled 3,561 feet (1,187 meters) up before jettisoning its trunk and safely splashing down under three main parachutes in the Atlantic Ocean, 3,606 feet (1,202 meters) from the launch pad.

"This test was highly visible and provided volumes of important information, which serves as tangible proof that our team is making significant progress toward launching crews on American rockets from America soon," said Jon Cowart, partner manager for NASA's Commercial Crew Program. "The reams of data collected provide designers with a real benchmark of how accurate their analyses and models are at predicting reality. As great as our modern computational methods are, they still can't beat a flight test, like this, for finding out what is going on with the hardware."

The successful test of SpaceX's Crew Dragon launch escape capabilities demonstrated the spacecraft's ability to save astronauts in the unlikely event of a life-threatening situation on the launch pad.

"This is the first major flight test for a vehicle that will bring astronauts to space for the entire Commercial Crew Program," said Gwynne Shotwell, president of SpaceX. "The successful test validated key predictions as it relates to the transport of astronauts to the space station. With NASA's support, SpaceX continues to make excellent and rapid progress in making the Crew Dragon spacecraft the safest and most reliable vehicle ever flown."

The approval of the pad abort test milestone payment follows NASA's authorization for Boeing to begin work toward its first post-certification mission. These steps ensure continued progress in the agency's effort to return to U.S. soil American crew launches to the International Space Station. SpaceX is expected to receive its authorization to proceed with work on a post-certification mission later this year. The determination of which company will fly the first mission to station will be made at a later time.

For more information about NASA's Commercial Crew Program, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew
For the latest on Commercial Crew progress, bookmark the program's blog at: http://blogs.nasa.gov/commercialcrew


June 08, 2015

NASA Selects Eight Projects for 2016 X-Hab Academic Innovation Challenge

NASA space habitat challenge

NASA architects, engineers and scientists are already busy creating sustainable, space-based living quarters, work spaces and laboratories for next-generation human term exploration, including our journey to Mars. This 2011 version of the deep space habitat at the Desert Research and Technology Studies (Desert RATS) analog field test site in Arizona features a Habitat Demonstration Unit, with the student-built X-Hab loft on top, a hygiene compartment on one side and airlock on the other.
Credits: NASA

NASA is working with eight U.S. universities on new technology projects for deep space exploration, including the agency's journey to Mars, as part of the 2016 X-Hab Academic Innovation Challenge.

The challenge, which is led by NASA and the National Space Grant Foundation, has teams designing systems, concepts and technologies that will help improve NASA's exploration capabilities and provide undergraduate and graduate students with the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in technology development.

"These strategic collaborations lower the barrier for university students to assist NASA in bridging gaps and increasing our knowledge in architectural design trades, capabilities and technology risk reduction related to exploration activities that will eventually take humans farther into space than ever before," said Jason Crusan, director of NASA's Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) division.

Teams are encouraged to use multidisciplinary approaches, partner with experts and industry and engage in outreach. The experience is designed to enhance the science, technical, leadership and project skills for the selected student teams and encourage studies to pursue spaceflight-related disciplines.

Student teams submitted proposals earlier this year. Their selection kicks off a year-long process covering the 2015-2016 academic year. Project teams will meet a series of milestones to design, manufacture, assemble and test their systems and concepts in close cooperation with members of NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. NASA staff from the directorate's Space Life and Physical Sciences and AES divisions will work with students in areas including additive manufacturing, advanced life support systems, space habitation and systems for food production in space.

The X-Hab Academic Innovation Challenge 2016 teams and projects are: AES In-space Manufacturing sponsored:

  • University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, Puerto Rico – Technology Development of Low-Power Required Manufacturing of Metals for the Zero-Gravity Environment
  • AES Beyond Earth Habitation sponsored:
  • University of Maryland, College Park – Inflatable/Deployable Airlock Structures
  • Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York – Human Centered – Designs for Mars Transit Habitat
  • Oklahoma State University, Stillwater – Deep Space Mars Transit Habitat Layout Studies
  • AES Life Support Systems sponsored:
  • University of South Alabama, Mobile – Development of a Concentration Swing Frequency Response Device
  • Space Life and Physical Sciences sponsored:
  • Utah State University, Logan – Student Experimental Microgravity Plant System
  • The Ohio State University, Columbus – Water Assurance: Improve Water Delivery of a Modular Vegetable Production System
  • University of Colorado-Boulder, Boulder – Performance Characterization and Enhancement of the Mars OASIS Space Plant Growth System
The X-Hab Academic Innovation Challenge supports NASA's research efforts to enable sustained and affordable human and robotic space exploration while contributing to the agency's efforts to train and develop a highly skilled scientific, engineering and technical workforce for the future.

The National Space Grant Foundation will administer the grants, which range from $10,000 to $30,000, to the universities on behalf NASA to fund design, development and evaluation of the projects by the selected teams during the 2015-2016 academic year.

For more information about previous challenges and current challenge requirements, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/x-hab and http://www.spacegrant.org/xhab/
For information about NASA and its programs, visit: http://www.nasa.gov


June 05, 2015

Astronaut Nicole Stott Retires From NASA

Nicole Stott After 27 years with the space agency, astronaut Nicole Stott is retiring from NASA. Stott, who flew two spaceflight missions, including a long-duration mission on the International Space Station (ISS), plans to pursue a career as a full-time artist and advocate for science, technology, engineering, math and art (STEM/STEAM) education.

"NASA's Flight Operations team wishes Nicole the very best in her new endeavors. Nicole has always cared deeply about America, our youth, and the importance of STEM education and inspiration," said Brian Kelly, director for the Flight Operations Directorate at Johnson Space Center. "Her positive approach, knowledge, experience and fun style will serve her very well in her future pursuits."

Stott was born in Albany, New York, and her hometown is Clearwater, Florida. She received degrees from both Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and the University of Central Florida before joining NASA as an operations engineer in the Orbiter Processing Facility at Kennedy Space Center.

During her time at Kennedy, she held a variety of positions associated with the Space Shuttle Program including Shuttle Flow Director for Endeavour, Orbiter Project Engineer for Columbia, NASA Convoy Commander for space shuttle landings and Vehicle Operations Engineer, preparing space shuttles for their next mission. She also worked at Huntington Beach, California, for two years as part of the ISS Hardware Integration Office as a program lead between the flight hardware manufacturing site and launch site at Kennedy.

In 1998, she transitioned to the Johnson Space Center in Houston to work as a Flight Simulation Engineer on the Shuttle Training Aircraft, helping train astronaut pilots to land the space shuttle.

She was selected as a NASA astronaut in 2000. She held numerous assignments, including as a crew member on the undersea NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) 9 mission, for which Stott still holds the women's world record for the longest saturation dive of 18 days, before being assigned to her first spaceflight mission.

In 2009, Stott flew aboard space shuttle Discovery STS-128 to the space station for a long-duration mission. As part of her 91 days supporting scientific research in space, Stott conducted a nearly seven-hour-long spacewalk and she also guided the station's Canadarm2 robotic arm for the first track and capture of a visiting cargo vehicle. At the completion of her mission, returning on the space shuttle Atlantis, she was the last station crew member to return to Earth via a space shuttle.

She flew again in 2011, as a mission specialist on STS-133, the 39th and final mission for space shuttle Discovery. During the 13-day flight, the crew delivered the Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM), completing the U.S. assembly portion of the ISS.

Stott returned to Kennedy for a one-year assignment as the Astronaut Office representative to the Commercial Crew Program and the team responsible for selecting contractors to build our next U.S. human-rated spacecraft. In her most recent assignment at Johnson, Stott served as Chief of the Vehicle Integration Test Office in the Astronaut Office/Flight Operations Directorate. Her last day with NASA was May 31.

Stott's full biography can be found here: http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/stott-np.pdf


June 02, 2015

NASA Issues Announcement for Kennedy Space Center Land Use Proposals

NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida has released an announcement for proposals (AFP) for private companies interested in developing commercial vertical launch sites at the multi-user spaceport. The announcement is part of Kennedy's continued transformation to a multi-user spaceport based on effectively utilizing land assets identified in the center's 20-year Master Plan.

"We strongly encourage companies to provide proposals for developing space launch services and capabilities at the Kennedy Space Center," said Scott Colloredo, director of Kennedy's Center Planning and Development. "We have transformed to a multi-user spaceport and look forward to new commercial partnerships as KSC supports emerging space markets. Making this land available is yet another step in our evolution to a diverse spaceport that supports NASA and commercial partners."

As a separate activity, Kennedy also will release a notice of availability for undeveloped land not suitable for launch operations to potentially support vertical landings, launch assembly, testing and processing support activities.

The center has been transforming for the past several years from a government-focused launch base to a multi-user spaceport that can accommodate different vehicles, systems and commercial launch providers. Kennedy features a host of launch and processing facilities, a one-of-a-kind runway and laboratories suited to multiple needs. The center is well-equipped to support the full spectrum of needs for space launch service companies.

The official announcement and additional details concerning criteria and requirements can be found at: http://go.nasa.gov/1DHaDrI
Kennedy's Master Plan is available at: http://masterplan.ksc.nasa.gov/
For information on additional partnership opportunities at Kennedy, visit: http://kscpartnerships.ksc.nasa.gov/


May 30, 2015

Four NASA Heroes Inducted into U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame

NASA Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate and astronaut John Grunsfeld (center) is inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame on May 30, 2015, at the NASA Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida. Shaking Grunsfeld's hand is Dan Brandenstein, Chairman of the board of directors for the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, and standing next to Grunsfeld is former NASA astronaut Steve Hawley. Credits: NASA

Dan Brandenstein, John Grunsfeld & Steve Hawley

NASA's Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate John Grunsfeld and former astronauts Steve Lindsey, Kent Rominger, and M. Rhea Seddon were inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame Saturday, bringing the total number of Hall of Fame space explorers to 91.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden addresses the crowd at U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame 2015 induction ceremony on May 30, 2015, at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida. Ceremony emcee John Zarrella is seated behind Bolden. Credits: NASA

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, a 2006 hall of famer, and 2008 inductee Bob Cabana, director of NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, presided over the ceremony at Kennedy's visitor complex to welcome the new inductees.

"To John Grunsfeld, Steve Lindsey, Kent Rominger, Rhea Seddon – I offer my deepest congratulations," said Bolden. "You have my deepest respect for all you have achieved in space, for the example you set for others, and the inspiration you have given future generations to take us on a journey to Mars."

Grunsfeld was selected as a NASA astronaut in March 1992. A five-flight veteran, he logged more than 58 days in space, including 58 hours and 30 minutes of extravehicular activity during eight spacewalks. Three of his missions focused on repairing and upgrading NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.

He went on to serve as the deputy director of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, managing the science programs for Hubble and the James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled for launch in October 2018. Grunsfeld was selected in January 2012 to his current position at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

Lindsey was selected for NASA's astronaut corps in March 1995. A veteran of five spaceflights, he logged more than 63 days in space. Lindsey served on several notable missions, including STS-95 alongside former astronaut and U.S. senator John Glenn, STS-121, the second Return to Flight mission after the loss of space shuttle Columbia, and STS-133, the final flight of space shuttle Discovery.

NASA selected Rominger to become an astronaut in 1992. Also a veteran of five spaceflights – three as pilot and two as commander – he logged more than 67 days in space. Several of Rominger's missions were integral to the beginnings of the International Space Station. As commander of the STS-96 mission, Rominger oversaw the first docking of a space shuttle to the station.

Seddon was selected by NASA in January 1978 to the first U.S. astronaut class to include women, and became an astronaut in August 1979. A three-flight veteran, she logged more than 30 days in space. In addition to participating in and leading numerous science and medical experiments during her flights, Seddon also helped develop and implement a variety of programs and plans for the shuttle program.

For Grunsfeld's biography, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/about/highlights/grunsfeld_biography.html
Biographies for Lindsey, Rominger and Seddon are available at: http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/astrobio_former.html
For more information about the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, visit: http://www.kennedyspacecenter.com


May 29, 2015
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

NASA NEWS AND HISTORY
HEROES AND LEGENDS GROUNDBREAKING

On Friday, May 29, 2015, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex broke ground on a new attraction designed to touch the hearts and minds of the next generation of space explorers –Heroes and Legends, featuring the U. S. Astronaut Hall of Fame®.

Concept of the KSC VC Heroes and Legends Theater
Concept image of the Heroes and Legends Theater.
(Photo: KSC Visitor Complex)
Opening in 2016, Heroes and Legends will not only bring to life the enthralling stories of America's pioneering astronauts, but also invite guests to vicariously experience the thrills and dangers of America's earliest missions.

The highlight of the experience is a 3D omni-directional theater, designed to make guests feel as though they are floating in the vastness of space. Stunning images will envelope them from every direction, as legendary astronauts including Alan Shepard, John Glenn, Jim Lovell and Neil Armstrong invite them to join in their epic journeys into the vast unknown.

Early space artifacts from the Mercury and Gemini programs, such as the original Mercury Mission Control room, will be brought to life by high-tech, interactive show elements and special effects, including simulated holograms and augmented reality. Inside the new U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, guests may get to know each of the 91 heroes and legendary astronauts who have been inducted through 2015.

Ultimately, the stories of NASA's space heroes will resonate with guests as they find parallels in their own challenges and triumphs.

Transforming the space previously occupied by Early Space Exploration, the new Heroes and Legends, will be incorporated into the Rocket Garden, giving guests a new and elevated perspective of the towering collection of historic rockets.

Check here for updates on Heroes and Legends, featuring the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, opening 2016 at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.


May 27, 2015

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Celebrates 25th Anniversary of U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame

Astronaut Hall of Fame in Titusville, FL. Click to visit the KSC VC website.
The United States Astronaut Hall of Fame at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
Credits: NASA/Kim Shiflett

The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida will celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame at 9:45 a.m. EDT on Friday, May 29, with a surprise announcement and a groundbreaking ceremony for a major new attraction that will open in 2016.

Past, present and future pioneers of the American space program have been invited to participate in a special celebration, including members of the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, recipients of the Astronaut Scholarship from the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, and students from Apollo Elementary School in Titusville, Florida.

The event will take place in the Debus Conference Facility at the visitor complex. The groundbreaking will take place immediately following the program directly outside of the conference facility, and media interview opportunities will be available after the groundbreaking.

Speakers for the program include NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Kennedy Space Center Director Robert Cabana, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Chief Operating Officer Therrin Protze, President of Delaware North's parks and resorts business Jim Houser, and Chairman of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation's board of directors Dan Brandenstein.

For information about the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, visit: www.kennedyspacecenter.com.


May 27, 2015

Commercial Crew Milestones Met; Partners on Track for Missions in 2017

NASA has taken another step toward returning America's ability to launch crew missions to the International Space Station from the United States in 2017.

The Commercial Crew Program ordered its first crew rotation mission from The Boeing Company. SpaceX, which successfully performed a pad abort test of its flight vehicle earlier this month, is expected to receive its first order later this year. Determination of which company will fly its mission to the station first will be made at a later time. The contract calls for the orders to take place prior to certification to support the lead time necessary for the first mission in late 2017, provided the contractors meet certain readiness conditions. Missions flown to the station on Boeing's Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 and SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft will restore America's human spaceflight capabilities and increase the amount of scientific research that can be conducted aboard the orbiting laboratory.

"Final development and certification are top priority for NASA and our commercial providers, but having an eye on the future is equally important to the commercial crew and station programs," said Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA's Commercial Crew Program. "Our strategy will result in safe, reliable and cost-effective crew missions."

Boeing's crew transportation system, including the CST-100 spacecraft, has advanced through various commercial crew development and certification phases. The company recently completed the fourth milestone in the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) phase of the program, the delta integrated critical design review. This milestone demonstrates the transportation system has reached design maturity appropriate to proceed with assembly, integration and test activities.

"We're on track to fly in 2017, and this critical milestone moves us another step closer in fully maturing the CST-100 design," said John Mulholland, Boeing's vice president of Commercial Programs. "Our integrated and measured approach to spacecraft design ensures quality performance, technical excellence and early risk mitigation."

Orders under the CCtCap contracts are made two to three years prior to the missions to provide time for each company to manufacture and assemble the launch vehicle and spacecraft. In addition, each company must successfully complete the certification process before NASA will give the final approval for flight. If NASA does not receive the full requested funding for CCtCap in fiscal year 2016 and beyond, NASA will have to delay future milestones for both partners proportionally and extend sole reliance on Russia for crew access to the station.

A standard mission to the station will carry four NASA or NASA-sponsored crew members and about 220 pounds of pressurized cargo. The spacecraft will remain at the station for up to 210 days and serve as an emergency lifeboat during that time. Each contract includes a minimum of two and a maximum potential of six missions.

"Commercial Crew launches are critical to the International Space Station Program because it ensures multiple ways of getting crews to orbit," said Julie Robinson, International Space Station chief scientist. "It also will give us crew return capability so we can increase the crew to seven, letting us complete a backlog of hands-on critical research that has been building up due to heavy demand for the National Laboratory."

NASA's Commercial Crew Program manages the CCtCap contracts and is working with each company to ensure commercial transportation system designs and post-certification missions will meet the agency's safety requirements. Activities that follow the award of missions include a series of mission-related reviews and approvals leading to launch. The program also will be involved in all operational phases of missions to ensure crew safety.

For more information about NASA's Commercial Crew Program, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew
For the latest on Commercial Crew progress, bookmark the program's blog at: http://blogs.nasa.gov/commercialcrew
For more information about the International Space Station, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station


May 27, 2015

NASA Television to Air U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony May 30

NASA Television will provide live coverage of the 2015 U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame induction ceremony at 2 p.m. EDT on Saturday, May 30. The ceremony will take place at NASA's Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Space Shuttle Atlantis attraction in Florida.

Joining the hall of fame this year are NASA's associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate John Grunsfeld, and former astronauts Steve Lindsey, Kent Rominger, and M. Rhea Seddon. Their induction brings the total number of space explorers enshrined to 91.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, a 2006 hall of famer, and Kennedy Director Bob Cabana, inducted into the hall of fame in 2008, will deliver remarks at the event.

Grunsfeld was selected as a NASA astronaut in March 1992. A five-flight veteran, he logged more than 58 days in space, including 58 hours and 30 minutes of extravehicular activity during eight spacewalks. Three of his missions focused on repairing and upgrading NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.

Lindsey was selected as a NASA astronaut in March 1995. A veteran of five spaceflights, he logged more than 1,510 hours in space. Lindsey served on several notable missions, including STS-95 alongside Sen. John Glenn, STS-121, the second Return to Flight mission after the loss of Columbia, and STS-133, the final flight of shuttle Discovery.

Rominger was selected by NASA to become an astronaut in 1992. A veteran of five spaceflights – three as pilot and two as commander – he logged more than 1,600 hours in space. Several of Rominger's missions were integral to the beginnings of the International Space Station. As commander of STS-96, Rominger oversaw the first docking of a space shuttle to the space station.

Seddon was selected by NASA in January 1978 and became an astronaut in August 1979 as part of the first U.S. astronaut class to include women. A three-flight veteran, she logged more than 722 hours in space. In addition to participating in and leading numerous science and medical experiments during her flights, Seddon also helped develop and implement a variety of programs and plans for the shuttle program.

Reporters interested in covering the event should contact Andrea Farmer at 321-449-4318 or Liz Perez at 321-449-4273.

For NASA TV schedules and links to streaming video, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv
For Grunsfeld's biography, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/about/highlights/grunsfeld_biography.html
For biographies for Lindsley, Rominger, and Seddon visit: http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/astrobio_former.html
For more information about the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, visit: http://www.kennedyspacecenter.com


May 21, 2015

Launch of Ocean-Measuring Satellite

July 22: launch of Jason-3, the fourth mission in a series of satellite missions that measure the height of the ocean surface.

The Jason-3 mission, led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), will launch from Space Launch Complex 4 East at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Due to U.S. Air Force security requirements, international media must apply for accreditation at least 30 days before the launch.

Jason-3 is the latest in a series of U.S.-European satellite international missions that have been measuring the height of the ocean surface for 23 years. Sea level height is a critical piece of evidence about Earth's natural cycles and climate change. Knowing sea level height also improves hurricane forecasts, navigation and the efficiency of fisheries and other offshore industries.

The Jason-3 project is managed within NASA by the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. NASA's Launch Services Program at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida is responsible for launch vehicle program management of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

For more information about the Jason-3 mission, visit: http://www.nesdis.noaa.gov/jason-3


May 20, 2015

Next SpaceX Station Resupply Launch

June 26: launch of NASA's next commercial cargo resupply mission from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) in Florida to the International Space Station.

SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft will launch on a Falcon 9 rocket at approximately 11:09 a.m. EDT on the company's seventh NASA-contracted cargo mission and its eighth visit to the station. The flight will deliver several tons of supplies, such as new science experiments and technology research, as well as the first of two International Docking Adapters. These adapters will be installed on the station to facilitate docking of commercial crew spacecraft, including the Boeing CST-100 and SpaceX Crew Dragon.

For more information about the SpaceX resupply mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/spacex
For information about the International Space Station, its crew and research, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station


May 14, 2015

NASA Robotics Mining Competition at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Teams of undergraduate and graduate students from around the country will demonstrate their excavator robots May 18-22 at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida.

More than 45 teams have designed and built remote-controlled mining robots that can traverse the simulated Martian terrain features and excavate simulated regolith. During the competition, the teams' robots will go head-to-head to determine which machine can collect and move the most regolith within a specified amount of time.

The competition is a NASA Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate project designed to engage and retain students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, fields by expanding opportunities for student research and design. The project provides a competitive environment to foster innovative ideas and solutions that potentially could be applied to future NASA missions.

Although the competition is for college students, the event offers many opportunities for students of all ages. NASA is hosting a college recruitment fair for high school sophomores, juniors and seniors showcasing STEM education opportunities available at top colleges and universities across the nation. The event also will offer additional STEM activities for students of all ages.

For more information about the competition, associated activities and social media links to participate virtually, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/nasarmc
For information about the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, visit: http://www.kennedyspacecenter.com


May 07, 2015

NASA on Draft Solicitation for New Class of Launch Services

NASA's Launch Services Program has issued a draft Request for Proposal (RFP) for a new Venture Class Launch Services (VCLS), which would be commercial launch services for small satellites and experiments on science missions using a smaller than currently available class of rockets.

At present, launch opportunities for small satellites -- often called CubeSats or nanosatellites -- and small science missions are mostly limited to ride-share type arrangements, flying only when space is available on NASA and other launches. The Launch Services Program seeks to develop alternatives to this approach and help foster other launch services dedicated to transporting smaller payloads into orbit. The services acquired through such a contract will constitute the smallest class of launch services used by NASA.

This solicitation, and resulting contract or contracts, is intended to demonstrate a dedicated launch capability for smaller payloads that NASA anticipates it will require on a recurring basis for future science and CubeSat missions. CubeSats already are used in markets, such as imagery collection and analysis. In the future, CubeSat capabilities will include abilities, such as ship and aircraft tracking, improved weather prediction, and broader Internet coverage.

NASA intends to award one or more firm fixed-price VCLS contracts to accommodate 132 pounds (60 kilograms) of CubeSats a single launch or two launches carrying 66 pounds (30 kilograms) each. The launch provider will determine the launch location and date, but the launch must occur by April 15, 2018.

To listen to the media teleconference, call 321-867-1220, 321-867-1240 or 321-867-1260 or listen online at: http://www.nasa.gov/newsaudio

The draft RFP is open for written questions and comments from industry entities until Wednesday, May 20. The final RFP, if issued, is anticipated to be released in June. The draft RFP may be accessed at: http://go.nasa.gov/1KMTeDR

For more information about NASA's CubeSat Launch Initiative, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/directorates/heo/home/CubeSats_initiative.html

NASA's Launch Services Program is focused on assuring the availability of long-term launch services for NASA while also promoting the continued evolution of the U.S. commercial space launch market. The capability anticipated to meet the requirement for a smaller launch vehicle represents an emerging category of launch services.

For more information about NASA's Launch Services Program, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy/launchingrockets/index.html


May 04, 2015

NASA Seeks Industry Comment on Kennedy Space Center Land Use

Aerial view of the Vehicle Assembly Building, or VAB
An aerial view of the Vehicle Assembly Building, or VAB, and other buildings in the Launch Complex 39 area at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Launch Control Center is in front of the VAB. To the right is the mobile launcher that will be used to transport NASA's Space Launch System rocket and the Orion crew capsule to Launch Pad 39B. Upgrades are underway at Pad B and other facilities in the Launch Complex 39 area.
Credits: NASA

NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida is seeking industry comments on a draft announcement for proposals (AFP) for potential future land use at the multi-user spaceport. Kennedy's transformation to a multi-user spaceport is based on effectively utilizing land assets identified in the center's 20-year Master Plan.

The purpose of the announcement is to provide advance notice of an upcoming opportunity for launch service companies interested in developing commercial vertical launch sites at the center. The comments will be taken into consideration prior to the release of the final announcement for proposals scheduled to be issued later this year. After the release of the final announcement the center will begin accepting formal proposals for developing land at Kennedy for launch and related uses by private companies.

"We designed the master plan with commercial needs and potential uses in mind. What we want to do now is bring in industry that can apply their own creativity and innovation for their business using our unique location and capabilities," said Scott Colloredo, Director of Kennedy's Center Planning and Development. "It's a win-win situation for companies that want to provide space launch services and for the American taxpayers who get to see their space-related assets used in the most effective manner possible."

In addition to the primary land use for vertical launch capabilities, the final announcement will allow industry to propose other ancillary uses for areas at Kennedy as outlined in the Master Plan.

The center has been transforming for the past several years from a government-focused launch base to a multi-user spaceport that can accommodate different vehicles, systems and commercial launch providers. Kennedy features a host of launch and processing facilities, a one-of-a-kind runway and laboratories suited to multiple needs. The center is well-equipped to support the full spectrum of needs for space launch service companies.

NASA welcomes comments and questions on all sections of the Draft AFP and particularly is interested in receiving comments on the following:

  • Instructions to proposers and evaluation factors
  • Page limitations
  • Interest in a site visit and industry briefing
  • Proposal due date-currently 45 days after announcement for proposal release
  • Terms and conditions for a land use agreement
The official announcement and additional details concerning criteria and requirements can be found at: http://go.nasa.gov/1DHaDrI
Kennedy's Master Plan is available at: http://masterplan.ksc.nasa.gov/
For information on additional partnership opportunities at Kennedy, visit: http://kscpartnerships.ksc.nasa.gov/


April 30, 2015

SpaceX Targets May 6 for Pad Abort Test of New Crew Spacecraft

** DETAILS

SpaceX now is targeting Wednesday, May 6, for a pad abort test of its Crew Dragon, a spacecraft under final development and certification through NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP). The test window will open at 7 a.m. EDT.

NASA Television will provide live coverage of the test, which will simulate an emergency abort from a test stand on Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) in Florida.

The ability to abort from a launch or pad emergency, and safely carry crew members out of harm's way, is a critical element for NASA's next generation of crewed spacecraft. SpaceX will perform the test under its Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) agreement with NASA, but can use the data gathered during the development flight as it continues on the path to certification.

Under a separate Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contract, NASA's CCP will certify SpaceX's Crew Dragon, Falcon 9 rocket and ground and mission operations systems to fly crews to and from the International Space Station.

For more information about NASA's Commercial Crew Program, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew
For up-to-the-minute coverage of the test, visit the Commercial Crew Blog at: http://blogs.nasa.gov/commercialcrew


April 24, 2015

NASA Kennedy Space Center Director Robert D. Cabana Receives 2015 National Space Trophy

Robert D. Cabana
Robert D. Cabana, Center Director, John F. Kennedy Space Center
Credits: NASA
The Rotary National Award for Space Achievement (RNASA) Foundation awarded the 2015 National Space Trophy to Colonel Robert D. Cabana, director of NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, former NASA astronaut on four space shuttle missions, and retired United States Marine Corps Colonel. The award was made during the 29th National Space Trophy gala on April 24 at the Hyatt Regency in Houston, Texas.

The National Space Trophy is presented annually to an outstanding American who has made major contributions to our nation's space program. Nominations are voted upon by the RNASA Foundation's Board of Advisors that includes a who's who list of individuals intimately involved with the space program, including NASA center directors, presidents of aerospace corporations, military, news media, academic and political leaders, and previous Trophy winners.

Previous National Space Trophy winners include NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, President George H.W. Bush and Neil A. Armstrong.

Rodolfo González, President of the RNASA Foundation said, "The Foundation is overwhelmed with the number of nominators that came forward with a submittal for Col. Cabana. We are pleased the board of advisors selected him."

Cabana was nominated by Dr. Ellen Ochoa, director, NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Michael L. Coats, former director, NASA Johnson Space Center, Rick Hieb, vice president of Lockheed Martin Civil Programs, John Zarella, Elliot Holokauahi Pulham, chief executive officer of Space Foundation, and Dr. Michael D. Griffin, former NASA administrator, and chairman and chief executive officer (CEO), Schafer Corporation, "for his exceptional leadership and executive guidance in leading the evolution of the NASA Kennedy Space Center as the world's premier multi-user spaceport in support of NASA's exploration goals."

Cabana said, "I am extremely honored to receive the National Space Trophy. The previous awardees are my heroes, and it means so much to me that the board considered me worthy to be among them."

Cabana is serving as the tenth director of Kennedy, the primary United States launch site that has been used for every NASA human spaceflight since 1968. In this role, Cabana manages all NASA facilities and activities at Kennedy, leading a team of civil service and contractor personnel who operate and support numerous space programs and projects. He has been instrumental in ensuring the successful transition from the space shuttle and establishing the center as a true multi-user spaceport of the future.

Cabana was inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2008. He is the recipient of The Daughters of the American Revolution Award for the top Marine to complete naval flight training in 1976, is a Distinguished Graduate of the United States Naval Test Pilot School, and has logged over 7,000 hours in 50 different kinds of aircraft.

Cabana is a Fellow in the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, an Associate Fellow in the AIAA, and has received numerous awards and decorations, including the De La Vaulx medal by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale in 1994, the Presidential Distinguished Rank Award, and most recently he was honored with the National Space Club 2013 Dr. Kurt H. Debus Award.

His personal decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the National Intelligence Medal of Achievement, two NASA Distinguished Service Medals, two NASA Medals for Outstanding Leadership, two NASA Exceptional Service Medals, and four NASA Space Flight Medals.

A veteran of four spaceflights, Cabana has logged over 910 hours in space. He served as pilot on STS-41 (October 6-10, 1990) and STS-53 (December 2-9, 1992), and was commander on STS-65 (July 8-23, 1994) and STS-88 (December 4-15, 1998), the first International Space Station assembly mission.

The Rotary National Award for Space Achievement (RNASA) Foundation was founded by the Space Center Rotary Club of Houston, Texas in 1985 to organize and coordinate an annual event to recognize outstanding achievements in space and create greater public awareness of the benefits of space exploration. The nonprofit Foundation presents the National Space Trophy and Stellar Awards each year.

For more information on RNASA and the National Space Trophy, visit: http://www.rnasa.org/
For more information on NASA's Kennedy Space Center, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/kennedy


April 22, 2015

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Celebrates Hubble Space Telescope 25th Anniversary

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida invites guests to participate in three days of special activities and events centered on the accomplishments of the Hubble Space Telescope. The three-day event, "25 Years of Hubble," will take place April 24-26. There is a charge for admission to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Activities and events include:
  • A high-tech projection mapping show that features 200 of Hubble's most iconic images and a photo gallery of large-scale, high-definition celestial prints.
  • A host of hands-on education and activity stations for all ages, including a full-scale Hubble replica, portable planetarium shows, 3D printing, infrared light simulation, a "flight" through the universe, simulations of Hubble's focus and accuracy, and a scale replica of NASA's next-generation space telescope.
  • Showings of the Hubble 3D IMAX® movie, filmed in space by NASA astronauts.
  • Presentations and question-and-answer sessions with current and former NASA scientists, astronomers, astrophysicists and astronauts, including Dr. Sam Durrance, Dr. Eric B. Ford, Dr. Lisa Mazzuca and Dr. Weipeing Yu.
The visitor complex also will offer a Hubble After Hours Adventure on Friday, April 25, from 4-11 p.m. EDT. There is a separate admission charge for the event, which includes:
  • A two-day ticket to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
  • The opportunity to see the launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, carrying the TurkmenAlem52E/MonacoSat telecommunications satellite, from six miles away at the Apollo/Saturn V Center at Kennedy Space Center.
  • A stargazing event supported by regional museums, planetariums and university-level astronomy clubs.
  • A laser astronomy tour of the night sky by Derek Demeter of Emil Buehler Planetarium at Seminole State College in Sanford, Florida.
  • A host of hands-on education and activity stations for all ages, including a full-scale Hubble replica, portable planetarium shows, infrared light simulation, a "flight" through the universe, and simulations of Hubble's focus and accuracy.
  • A presentation and question-and-answer session with veteran NASA astronaut and astrogeophysicist, Dr. Sam Durrance.
  • A high-tech projection mapping show that features 200 of Hubble's most iconic images and a photo gallery of large-scale, high-definition celestial prints.
  • Showings of the Hubble 3D IMAX® movie, filmed in space by NASA astronauts.
  • A buffet dinner at the Debus Conference Center and an evening snack.
  • A commemorative T-shirt and glow stick.
For more information on Hubble's 25th anniversary, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/hubble
For more event details, visit: http://www.kennedyspacecenter.com


April 21, 2015

SpaceX Commercial Crew Pad Abort Test

The test will simulate an emergency abort from a test stand on Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

As a development test, it has a higher likelihood of encountering an issue than an operational mission does. SpaceX currently is targeting no earlier than Tuesday, May 5, for the test flight. The company will have a four-hour window to conduct the test, beginning at about 9:30 a.m. EDT. SpaceX has an additional test opportunity on May 6.

The ability to abort from a launch or pad emergency and safely carry crew members out of harm's way is a critical element for NASA's next generation of crew spacecraft. SpaceX will perform the test under its Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) agreement with NASA, but can use the data gathered during the development flight as it continues on the path to certification. Under a separate Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contract, NASA's Commercial Crew Program will certify SpaceX's Crew Dragon, Falcon 9 rocket, ground and mission operations systems to fly crews to and from the International Space Station.

For more information about NASA's Commercial Crew Program, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew
For up-to-the-minute coverage of the test, go to the Commercial Crew Blog at: http://blogs.nasa.gov/commercialcrew


April 10, 2015

NASA Awards Architect-Engineer Services Contract for Launch Infrastructure

NASA has selected BPRH Architect and Engineers, Inc., of Melbourne, Florida, and Jones Edmunds and Associates, Inc., of Gainesville, Florida, to provide architect-engineer services to rehabilitate, modernize and develop new and existing civil infrastructure and facilities at Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, and other NASA assets, launch or landing sites worldwide.

Two indefinite delivery indefinite quantity contracts will be awarded, one for each of the respective firms. Each contract will be for five years and will not exceed $20 million.

The scope of work includes architect-engineer services for complex civil infrastructure including preparation of studies, designs, specifications, reports and other contract documents for construction, roadways, parking facilities, traffic signalization, specialized ground transportation infrastructure for flight hardware, railroads, airport runways and hangars, wharf facilities and dredging, security systems and force protection, water distribution, wastewater collection, storm-water management, coastal management, and geotechnical evaluations. Services also include the study and design of new facilities, refurbishment of existing facilities, and deconstruction of existing facilities.

These facilities may vary from small to large scale commercial buildings, industrial facilities, and/or laboratories. The architect-engineer services also include the application of sustainability concepts through an integrated design approach and designing in accordance with various Executive Orders and the U.S. Green Building Council, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating system. The architect-engineer services will be performed across all project phases including planning and feasibility studies, environmental studies, environmental permitting, preliminary design, final design, engineering services during construction, activation and commissioning.

For more information about NASA programs and missions, visit: http://www.nasa.gov


April 7, 2015

NASA TV Coverage Set for Sixth SpaceX Resupply Mission to Space Station

The sixth SpaceX cargo mission to the International Space Station under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services contract is scheduled to launch on Monday, April 13, from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. NASA Television coverage of the launch begins at 3:30 p.m. EDT.

The company's Falcon 9 rocket will lift off at 4:33 p.m., carrying its Dragon cargo spacecraft. Dragon is filled with more than 4,300 pounds of supplies and payloads, including critical materials to directly support about 40 of the more than 250 science and research investigations that will occur during Expeditions 43 and 44.

Science payloads will study new ways to possibly counteract the microgravity-induced cell damage seen during spaceflight, the effects of microgravity on the most common cells in bones, gather new insight that could lead to treatments for osteoporosis and muscle wasting conditions, continue studies into astronaut vision changes and test a new material that could one day be used as a synthetic muscle for robotics explorers of the future.

A Monday launch will result in the Dragon spacecraft arriving at the space station Wednesday, April 15. Expedition 43 Flight Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA (European Space Agency) will use the station's 57.7-foot robotic arm to reach out and capture Dragon at approximately 7 a.m. Flight Engineer Terry Virts of NASA will support Cristoforetti as they operate from the station's cupola. NASA TV coverage of grapple will begin at 5 a.m. Coverage of Dragon's installation to the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module will begin at 9:15 a.m.

If the launch does not occur on Monday, the next launch opportunity would be at approximately 4:10 p.m. Tuesday, April 14.

After about five weeks at the space station, Dragon will return to Earth filled with more than 3,000 pounds of cargo including crew supplies, hardware and computer resources, science experiments, and space station hardware.

NASA TV LAUNCH COVERAGE
Monday, April 13 (Launch day): NASA TV live coverage will begin at 3:30 p.m. EDT and conclude at approximately 5:30 p.m. For NASA TV downlink information, schedules and links to streaming video, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv

Audio only of the news conferences and launch coverage will be carried on the NASA "V" circuits, which may be accessed by dialing 321-867-1220, -1240, -1260 or -7135. On launch day, "mission audio," the launch conductor's countdown activities without NASA TV launch commentary, will be carried on 321-867-7135 starting at 3 p.m. Launch also will be available on local amateur VHF radio frequency 146.940 MHz heard within Brevard County on the Space Coast.

IN-FLIGHT NASA TV COVERAGE
If launch occurs April 13, NASA TV will provide live coverage Wednesday, April 15, of the arrival of the Dragon cargo ship to the International Space Station. Grapple and berthing coverage will begin at 5 a.m. with grapple at approximately 7:14 a.m. Berthing coverage begins at 9:15 a.m.

NASA WEB PRELAUNCH AND LAUNCH COVERAGE
Prelaunch and launch day coverage of the SpaceX CRS-6 flight will be available on the NASA website. Coverage will include live streaming and text updates beginning at 3:30 p.m. as the countdown milestones occur. On-demand streaming video, podcast and photos of the launch will be available shortly after liftoff. For questions about countdown coverage, contact Nancy Bray at 321-867-9112. You can follow countdown coverage on our launch blog and learn more about the SpaceX CRS-6 mission by going to the mission home page at: http://www.nasa.gov/SpaceX

TWITTER
The NASA News Twitter feed will be updated throughout the launch countdown. To access the NASA News Twitter feed, visit: http://www.twitter.com/NASAKennedy

FACEBOOK
The NASA News Facebook feed will be updated throughout the launch countdown. To access the NASA Facebook feed, visit: http://www.facebook.com/NASAKennedy

For video b-roll and other International Space Station media resources, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/stationnews
For more information about the International Space Station, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station


March 18, 2015

NASA Awards Launch Services Contract for Solar Probe Plus Mission

NASA has selected United Launch Services LLC of Centennial, Colorado, to provide launch services for the agency's Solar Probe Plus (SPP) mission.

The SPP spacecraft will launch aboard a Delta IV Heavy rocket from Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Launch is targeted for July 31, 2018, at the opening of a 20-day launch period. The total contract award amount for launch services is $389.1 million.

SPP will be the first mission to fly through the sun's outer atmosphere -- the solar corona -- to examine two fundamental aspects of solar physics: why the corona is so much hotter than the sun's surface, and what accelerates the solar wind that affects Earth and our solar system. Understanding these fundamental phenomena has been a top-priority science goal for more than five decades. SPP will orbit the sun 24 times, closing to within 3.9 million miles of its surface with the help of seven Venus flybys.

The Launch Services Program at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida is responsible for management and oversight of the Delta IV Heavy launch services for SPP. The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory is designing and building the spacecraft for NASA's Living with a Star Program, managed by the agency's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

For more information about NASA programs and missions, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/


March 18, 2015

NASA Awards Launch Services Contract for Solar Probe Plus Mission

NASA has selected United Launch Services LLC of Centennial, Colorado, to provide launch services for the agency's Solar Probe Plus (SPP) mission.

The SPP spacecraft will launch aboard a Delta IV Heavy rocket from Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Launch is targeted for July 31, 2018, at the opening of a 20-day launch period. The total contract award amount for launch services is $389.1 million.

SPP will be the first mission to fly through the sun's outer atmosphere -- the solar corona -- to examine two fundamental aspects of solar physics: why the corona is so much hotter than the sun's surface, and what accelerates the solar wind that affects Earth and our solar system. Understanding these fundamental phenomena has been a top-priority science goal for more than five decades. SPP will orbit the sun 24 times, closing to within 3.9 million miles of its surface with the help of seven Venus flybys.

The Launch Services Program at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida is responsible for management and oversight of the Delta IV Heavy launch services for SPP. The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory is designing and building the spacecraft for NASA's Living with a Star Program, managed by the agency's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

For more information about NASA programs and missions, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/


March 10, 2015

NASA Announces Small Business Industry Awards

The winners of the 2014 Agency-Level NASA Small Business Industry Awards (SBIA) were announced Tuesday at NASA Headquarters in Washington during the spring 2015 NASA Industry Forum meeting, hosted by the agency's Office of Small Business Programs.

The SBIA Program recognizes the outstanding Small Business Prime Contractor, Small Business Subcontractor, and Large Business Prime Contractor that support NASA in achieving its mission in the identified fiscal year. Nominations were received from all 10 agency centers.

"American small businesses are critical to our success as the world leaders in space exploration and scientific discovery," said Small Business Program Associate Administrator Glenn Delgado. "As NASA continues to reach for new heights and advance an ambitious journey to Mars, we're helping to create jobs and support small businesses right here on Earth."

The Agency Small Business Prime Contractor of the Year award went to a.i. solutions, Inc., of Lanham, Maryland. The company works with NASA's Launch Services Program, supporting launches of several of the agency's science spacecraft. The company also supported the International Space Station Slosh experiment, looking at how liquid in motion behaves in microgravity.

Advanced Aerospace Solutions, LLC, of Raleigh, North Carolina, was named Agency Small Business Subcontractor of the Year. The company is working with NASA on a concept for aircraft operations called Traffic Aware Strategic Aircrew Requests (TASAR) Analysis and Development. This onboard automation tool will help compute route changes to improve flight efficiency while avoiding conflicts with hazards and other air traffic. Two airlines are pursuing formal agreements with NASA to implement TASAR in their regular operations.

Raytheon Company of Waltham, Massachusetts, was named Agency Large Business Prime Contractor of the Year. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, in Greenbelt, Maryland, nominated Raytheon for their work on the Earth Observing System Data and Information System Evolution and Development contract supporting the agency's Earth Science Data and Information System. As the Large Business Prime Contractor of the Year, Raytheon has actively encouraged small business subcontractors, helping to meet NASA's small business goals.

To learn more about NASA's Small Business Program, visit: http://www.osbp.nasa.gov


March 13, 2015

NASA Spacecraft in Earth's Orbit, Preparing to Study Magnetic Reconnection

MMS launch
The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with NASA's Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) spacecraft aboard launches Thursday, March 12, 2015, from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 41 in Florida.
Image Credit: NASA

Following a successful launch at 10:44 p.m. EDT Thursday, NASA's four Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) spacecraft are positioned in Earth's orbit to begin the first space mission dedicated to the study of a phenomenon called magnetic reconnection. This process is thought to be the catalyst for some of the most powerful explosions in our solar system.

The spacecraft, positioned one on top of the other on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 421 rocket, launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. After reaching orbit, each spacecraft deployed from the rocket's upper stage sequentially, in five-minute increments, beginning at 12:16 a.m. Friday, with the last separation occurring at 12:31 a.m. NASA scientists and engineers were able to confirm the health of all separated spacecraft at 12:40 a.m.

"I am speaking for the entire MMS team when I say we're thrilled to see all four of our spacecraft have deployed and data indicates we have a healthy fleet," said Craig Tooley, project manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

MMS liftoff
As an Atlas V rocket lifts off from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in the background, the launch also can be seen on the countdown clock at the Kennedy Space Center's Press Site. The rocket is carrying NASA's Magnetospheric Multiscale, or MMS, spacecraft. Image Credit: NASA/Frankie Martin
MMS rainbow magnetic lines
Artist's concept of the MMS observatory fleet with rainbow magnetic lines. Image Credit: NASA

Over the next several weeks, NASA scientists and engineers will deploy booms and antennas on the spacecraft, and test all instruments. The observatories will later be placed into a pyramid formation in preparation for science observations, which are expected to begin in early September.

"After a decade of planning and engineering, the science team is ready to go to work," said Jim Burch, principal investigator for the MMS instrument suite science team at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio (SwRI). "We've never had this type of opportunity to study this fundamental process in such detail."

The mission will provide the first three-dimensional views of reconnection occurring in Earth's protective magnetic space environment, the magnetosphere. Magnetic reconnection occurs when magnetic fields connect, disconnect, and reconfigure explosively, releasing bursts of energy that can reach the order of billions of megatons of trinitrotoluene (commonly known as TNT). These explosions can send particles surging through space near the speed of light.

Scientists expect the mission will not only help them better understand magnetic reconnection, but also will provide insight into these powerful events, which can disrupt modern technological systems such as communications networks, GPS navigation, and electrical power grids.

By studying reconnection in this local, natural laboratory, scientists can understand the process elsewhere, such as in the atmosphere of the sun and other stars, in the vicinity of black holes and neutron stars, and at the boundary between our solar system's heliosphere and interstellar space.

The spacecraft will fly in a tight formation through regions of reconnection activity. Using sensors designed to measure the space environment at rates100 times faster than any previous mission.

"MMS is a crucial next step in advancing the science of magnetic reconnection – and no mission has ever observed this fundamental process with such detail," said Jeff Newmark, interim director for NASA's Heliophysics Division at the agency's Headquarters in Washington. "The depth and detail of our knowledge is going to grow by leaps and bounds, in ways that no one can yet predict."

MMS is the fourth mission in the NASA Solar Terrestrial Probes Program. Goddard built, integrated and tested the four MMS spacecraft and is responsible for overall mission management and operations. The principal investigator for the MMS instrument suite science team is based at the SwRI. Science operations planning and instrument commanding are performed at the MMS Science Operations Center at the University of Colorado Boulder's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics.

More information about the MMS mission is available at: http://www.nasa.gov/mms


March 11, 2015

NASA Challenge Invites Students to Help Design Journey to Mars Systems

The University of Wisconsin-Madison team's X-hab loft model
The University of Wisconsin-Madison team won the 2011 X-Hab Academic Innovation Challenge with their X-hab loft model, seen here being moved into the Habitat Demonstration Unit (HDU) at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Image Credit: NASA

College students have the opportunity to be at the forefront of innovation for NASA's journey to Mars by designing systems for future space habitats and exploration systems through the agency's Exploration Habitat (X-Hab) Academic Innovation Challenge.

The challenge is designed to engage students directly in the design, research and development of functional components of future habitats. As NASA develops missions to send astronauts to destinations far into the solar system, such as an asteroid and Mars, a habitat to sustain the crews pioneering deep space environments will be needed.

The challenge also will help develop strategic partnerships with universities in order to increase knowledge in critical exploration capabilities and technology risk reduction activities.

To apply for the challenge, student teams must submit their plans for designing, manufacturing, assembling and testing systems for evaluation by engineers and scientists in NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, which leads and oversees the agency's human space operations in low-Earth orbit and beyond. Applications for the challenge will be accepted through April 30.

This year's challenge includes a broad array of topics such as power distribution systems, deployable structures, habitat architectural layout studies and food production systems. Previous projects have included a remotely-operated plant growth system and a deployable airlock structure.

The X-Hab Challenge is part of a continuing effort to engage and retain students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. Exposing students to engineering and design processes used in the aerospace industry will benefit both NASA and the participants.

The challenge is managed by the National Space Grant Foundation for NASA. Teams selected for the challenge will receive a monetary stipend to assist in producing functional products based on their designs.

For more information on the 2016 X Hab Challenge application process, visit: http://www.spacegrant.org/xhab/
For more information on NASA's journey to Mars, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/content/nasas-journey-to-mars


February 27, 2015

NASA Sets Coverage for Launch of Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission

NASA's Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission is set to lift off at 10:44 p.m. EDT Thursday, March 12, from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. There is a 30-minute window for the launch.

MMS will study magnetic reconnection, a fundamental process that occurs throughout the universe when magnetic fields connect and disconnect explosively, releasing energy and accelerating particles up to nearly the speed of light. Unlike previous missions that have observed only evidence of magnetic reconnection events, MMS has sufficient resolution to observe and measure reconnection events as they occur. While MMS will fly through reconnection regions in less than a second, key sensors on each spacecraft are able to capture measurements 100 times faster than any previous mission. In addition, MMS consists of four identical observatories, which together will provide the first ever three-dimensional view of magnetic reconnection.

The mission observes reconnection directly in Earth's protective magnetic space environment known as the magnetosphere. By studying reconnection in this local, natural laboratory, MMS helps scientists understand reconnection elsewhere, such as in the atmosphere of the sun and other stars, in the vicinity of black holes and neutron stars and at the boundary between our solar system's heliosphere and interstellar space.

NASA Television Coverage
On Tuesday, March 10, NASA Television will carry the MMS prelaunch news conference at 1 p.m. EDT. On Wednesday, March 11, NASA Television will carry the MMS mission science briefing at 1 p.m. EDT.

On Thursday, March 12, NASA Television coverage of the launch will begin at 8 p.m. and conclude after the MMS spacecraft deployments from the Atlas V are complete, which occurs one hour, forty-seven minutes after launch.

NASA Web Prelaunch and Launch Coverage
Extensive prelaunch and launch day coverage of the liftoff of the MMS spacecraft aboard an Atlas V rocket will be available on NASA's home page at:
http://www.nasa.gov

The MMS prelaunch news conference and the mission science briefing will be carried live on the web. A prelaunch webcast for the MMS mission will be available on NASA's YouTube channel and NASA's website on Wednesday, March 11. Live countdown coverage through NASA's Launch Blog begins at 8 p.m., Thursday, March 12. Coverage features live updates as countdown milestones occur, as well as video clips highlighting launch preparations and liftoff. For questions about countdown coverage, contact Nancy Bray at 321-867-9112. For NASA's Launch Blog, visit:
blogs.nasa.gov/mms

To view the webcast or to learn more about the MMS mission, visit:
http://www.nasa.gov/mms

Social Media
Join the conversation and follow the MMS mission online by using #MMS on Twitter and Facebook at:
http://www.twitter.com/mms
https://www.facebook.com/mms

Throughout the launch countdown, the NASA Kennedy Twitter and Facebook accounts will be continuously updated throughout the launch countdown at:
http://www.twitter.com/NASAKennedy
https://www.facebook.com/NASAKennedy


February 19, 2015

View Move of the Vehicle to Transport Orion Spacecraft and Rocket for Launches on the Journey to Mars Feb. 23

On Monday, Feb. 23, at 7 a.m. EST at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida NASA will move crawler-transporter 2 that will test recently completed modifications.

Crawler-transporter 2, known as CT-2, is being modified to extend the lifetime of the crawler's systems to allow it to carry NASA's new Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket and Orion spacecraft, as well as other future space program vehicles, to Kennedy's launch pad. Using these vehicles, NASA will send astronauts farther than ever before, first to an asteroid, and onward to Mars. The modifications will enable the crawler to continue supporting human spaceflight for another 20 years. The move also marks 50 years since the crawler was put into commission.

Video highlights of the move will air during Video File segments on NASA Television, although the move will not be shown live.

NASA's two crawler-transporters are unique. They originally were built in 1965 to carry the massive Saturn V rocket and Apollo spacecraft from Kennedy's Vehicle Assembly Building to Launch Complex 39. After the moon landing and Skylab programs, the crawlers continued their work, taking space shuttles to their launch pads for 30 years.

NASA's Ground Systems Development and Operations Program is overseeing the crawler upgrade work. For more information about the program, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/groundsystems

Video B-roll of the move will air on NASA TV's Video File. For NASA TV downlink information, schedules and links to streaming video, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv
Information extracted from a media press release.


February 13, 2015

Boeing Commercial Crew Access Tower Groundbreaking

Boeing and United Launch Alliance (ULA) will mark the start of construction of the Commercial Crew access tower at Space Launch Complex 41 (SLC-41) on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, at 2:30 p.m. EST Friday, Feb. 20.

The new crew access tower at SLC-41 will reach 200 feet in height and include an elevator, as well as means for quick evacuation from the structure in the event of an emergency. SLC-41 is one of the most active launch complexes on the Space Coast, so construction of this tower is scheduled to take place between launches, with segments of the structure being built off site, then assembled at the pad.

Under a Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contract with NASA, Boeing's Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 spacecraft, currently in development, will be certified by NASA's Commercial Crew Program to fly crews to and from the International Space Station. The spacecraft will launch on a ULA Atlas V rocket from SLC-41.

For more information about NASA's Commercial Crew Program, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew
Information extracted from a media press release.


February 10, 2015

NASA: Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission

Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission
Earth's magnetosphere as a laboratory to study the microphysics of magnetic reconnection.
The will launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) March 12, 2015. The 30-minute launch window opens at 10:44 p.m. EDT.

MMS is a NASA mission led by the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The instrument payload science team consists of researchers from a number of institutions and is led by the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas.

MMS is an unprecedented NASA mission to study magnetic reconnection, a fundamental process that occurs throughout the universe. Unlike prior missions which have observed the evidence of magnetic reconnection events, the MMS mission will have sufficient resolution to measure characteristics of ongoing reconnection events as they occur. It has the primary task of collecting data to understand the mystery of how magnetic fields around Earth connect and disconnect, explosively converting magnetic energy into particle energy via a process known as magnetic reconnection. MMS consists of four identical observatories that will provide the first three-dimensional view of magnetic reconnection. The four MMS observatories will fly through reconnection regions in a tight formation in well under a second, so key sensors on each spacecraft are designed to measure the space environment at rates faster than any previous mission.

The mission observes reconnection directly in Earth's protective magnetic space environment known as the magnetosphere. By studying reconnection in this local, natural laboratory, MMS helps us understand reconnection elsewhere as well, such as in the atmosphere of the Sun and other stars, in the vicinity of black holes and neutron stars, and at the boundary between our solar system's heliosphere and interstellar space.

For more information about the MMS Program, visit: http://mms.gsfc.nasa.gov
Information extracted from a media press release.


February 9, 2015

NASA TV Coverage Set for NOAA DSCOVR Launch Feb. 10

The Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) now is scheduled to launch at 6:05 p.m. EST Tuesday, Feb. 10 from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. There is a backup launch opportunity at 6:03 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 11.

NASA Television coverage of Tuesday's launch will begin at 5 p.m.

Following a launch scrub on Sunday, officials from NOAA, the U.S. Air Force and NASA chose Feb. 10 for the next launch attempt because of more favorable weather forecasts for Tuesday and Wednesday compared to Monday. While it is not required for flight, SpaceX will leverage the extra time to replace a video transmitter on the first stage in advance of the next attempt.

DSCOVR is a partnership between NOAA, NASA and the U.S. Air Force. DSCOVR will maintain the nation's solar wind observations, which are critical to the accuracy and lead time of NOAA's space weather alerts, forecasts, and warnings. Space weather events like geomagnetic storms, caused by changes in solar wind, can affect public infrastructure systems such as power grids, telecommunications systems, and aircraft avionics.

For countdown updates beginning at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/dscovr/
For more information on the DSCOVR mission, visit: http://www.nesdis.noaa.gov/DSCOVR/
For NASA TV schedule and video streaming information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv


January 31, 2015

NASA Launches Groundbreaking Soil Moisture Mapping Satellite

NASA successfully launched its first Earth satellite designed to collect global observations of the vital soil moisture hidden just beneath our feet.
Delta II rocket launches SMAP satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base.
NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory, on a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, launches at 6:22 a.m. PST (9:22 a.m. EST) Saturday from Space Launch Complex 2, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. SMAP is NASA's first Earth-observing satellite designed to collect global observations of surface soil moisture and its freeze/thaw state.
Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
The Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory, a mission with broad applications for science and society, lifted off at 6:22 a.m. PST (9:22 a.m. EST) Saturday from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, on a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket.

About 57 minutes after liftoff, SMAP separated from the rocket's second stage into an initial 411- by 425-mile (661- by 685-kilometer) orbit. After a series of activation procedures, the spacecraft established communications with ground controllers and deployed its solar array. Initial telemetry shows the spacecraft is in excellent health.

SMAP now begins a three-year mission that will figuratively scratch below Earth's surface to expand our understanding of a key component of the Earth system that links the water, energy and carbon cycles driving our living planet. SMAP's combined radar and radiometer instruments will peer into the top 2 inches (5 centimeters) of soil, through clouds and moderate vegetation cover, day and night, to produce the highest-resolution, most accurate soil moisture maps ever obtained from space.

The mission will help improve climate and weather forecasts and allow scientists to monitor droughts and better predict flooding caused by severe rainfall or snowmelt -- information that can save lives and property. In addition, since plant growth depends on the amount of water in the soil, SMAP data will allow nations to better forecast crop yields and assist in global famine early-warning systems.

"The launch of SMAP completes an ambitious 11-month period for NASA that has seen the launch of five new Earth-observing space missions to help us better understand our changing planet," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "Scientists and policymakers will use SMAP data to track water movement around our planet and make more informed decisions in critical areas like agriculture and water resources."

SMAP also will detect whether the ground is frozen or thawed. Detecting variations in the timing of spring thaw and changes in the length of the growing season will help scientists more accurately account for how much carbon plants are removing from Earth's atmosphere each year.

"The next few years will be especially exciting for Earth science thanks to measurements from SMAP and our other new missions," said Michael Freilich, director of the Earth Science Division of NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. "Each mission measures key variables that affect Earth's environment. SMAP will provide new insights into the global water, energy, and carbon cycles. Combining data from all our orbiting missions will give us a much better understanding of how the Earth system works."

SMAP will orbit Earth from pole to pole every 98.5 minutes, repeating the same ground track every eight days. Its 620-mile (1,000-kilometer) measurement swath allows SMAP to cover Earth's entire equatorial regions every three days and higher latitudes every two days. The mission will map global soil moisture with about 5.6-mile (9-kilometer) resolution.

"SMAP will improve the daily lives of people around the world," said Simon Yueh, SMAP project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. "Soil moisture data from SMAP has the potential to significantly improve the accuracy of short-term weather forecasts and reduce the uncertainty of long-term projections of how climate change will impact Earth's water cycle."

The SMAP team is engaged with many organizations and individuals that see immediate uses for the satellite's data. Through workshops and tutorials, the SMAP Applications Working Group is collaborating with 45 "early adopters" to test and integrate the mission's data products into many different applications. Early adopters include weather forecasters from several nations, as well as researchers and planners from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the United Nations World Food Programme.

During the next 90 days, SMAP and its ground system will be commissioned to ensure they are fully functional and are ready to begin routine science data collection. A key milestone will be the deployment of the spacecraft's instrument boom and 20-foot- (6-meter)-diameter reflector antenna. The observatory will be maneuvered to its final 426-mile (685-kilometer), near-polar operational orbit, and the antenna will spin up to 14.6 revolutions per minute.

SMAP science operations will then begin, and SMAP data will be calibrated and validated. The first release of SMAP soil moisture data products is expected within nine months. Fully validated science data are expected to be released within 15 months.

SMAP is managed for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington by JPL, with instrument hardware and science contributions made by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. JPL built the spacecraft and is responsible for project management, system engineering, radar instrumentation, mission operations and the ground data system. Goddard is responsible for the radiometer instrument and science data products. Both centers collaborate on science data processing and delivery to the Alaska Satellite Facility, in Fairbanks, and the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado in Boulder. NASA's Launch Services Program at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida was responsible for launch management. JPL is managed for NASA by the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

For more information about SMAP, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/smap

NASA monitors Earth's vital signs from land, air and space with a fleet of satellites and ambitious airborne and ground-based observation campaigns. NASA develops new ways to observe and study Earth's interconnected natural systems with long-term data records and computer analysis tools to better see how our planet is changing. The agency shares this unique knowledge with the global community and works with institutions in the United States and around the world that contribute to understanding and protecting our home planet.

For more information about NASA's Earth science activities, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/earthrightnow
Follow SMAP on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/NASASMAP


January 30, 2015

NASA TV Coverage Set for NOAA DSCOVR Launch Feb. 8

The Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) is scheduled to launch at 6:10 p.m. EST Sunday, Feb. 8, from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. A backup launch opportunity is available on Feb. 9 at 6:07 p.m., if needed.

NASA Television coverage of the launch will begin at 3:30 p.m. In addition to launch coverage, NASA TV will also air a prelaunch news conference at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 7.

DSCOVR is a partnership between NOAA, NASA and the U.S. Air Force and will maintain the nation's solar wind observations. These observations are critical to the accuracy and lead time of NOAA's space weather alerts, forecasts, warnings and space weather events like geomagnetic storms caused by changes in solar wind, which affect public infrastructure systems including power grids, telecommunications systems and avionics aboard aircraft. DSCOVR will succeed NASA's Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) in supporting solar observations and provide 15- to 60-minute warning time to improve predictions of geomagnetic storm impact locations.

For in-depth prelaunch, countdown and launch day coverage of the liftoff of DSCOVR aboard the Falcon 9, visit: http://blogs.nasa.gov/DSCOVR

For NASA TV schedules and video streaming information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv

For more information about the DSCOVR mission, visit: http://www.nesdis.noaa.gov/DSCOVR

PRELAUNCH NEWS CONFERENCE
Saturday, Feb. 7 (L-1 day): The prelaunch news conference for the DSCOVR mission will be held at Kennedy's Press Site at 1 p.m. NASA Television will provide live coverage, as well as streaming on the Internet.

Participating in the prelaunch news conference will be:

  • Steven Volz, assistant administrator, NOAA Satellite and Information Service Silver Spring, Maryland
  • Tom Berger, director, NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center Boulder, Colorado
  • Steven Clarke, director, NASA Joint Agency Satellite Division, Science Mission Directorate Washington
  • Colonel D. Jason Cothern, chief, Space Demonstrations Division, U.S. Air Force Kirtland Air Force Base, Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX Vice President of Mission Assurance Hawthorne, California
  • Mike McAlaneen, launch weather officer, 45th Weather Squadron Cape Canaveral Air Force Station
  • No post-launch news conference is planned.
NASA TV LAUNCH COVERAGE
Sunday, February 8 (launch day): NASA TV live coverage will begin at 3:30 p.m. and conclude at approximately 7:30 p.m. For NASA TV downlink information, schedules and links to streaming video, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv

Audio only of the news conferences and launch coverage will be carried on the NASA "V" circuits which may be accessed by dialing 321-867-1220, -1240, -1260 or -7135. On launch day, "mission audio," the launch conductor's countdown activities without NASA TV launch commentary, will be carried on 321-867-7135 starting at 3 p.m. Launch also will be available on local amateur VHF radio frequency 146.940 MHz heard within Brevard County on the Space Coast.

NASA WEB PRELAUNCH AND LAUNCH COVERAGE
Prelaunch and launch day coverage of the DSCOVR flight will be available on the NASA website. Coverage will include live streaming and text updates beginning at 3:30 p.m. as the countdown milestones occur.

Follow the launch countdown on NASA's launch blog which may be accessed at: http://blogs.nasa.gov/DSCOVR

On-demand streaming video, podcast and photos of the launch will be available shortly after liftoff. For questions about countdown coverage, contact Nancy Bray at 321-867-9112.

TWITTER
NASA will update Twitter throughout the launch countdown. For updates, visit: http://www.twitter.com/NASAKennedy

FACEBOOK
NASA also will update Facebook throughout the launch countdown. For updates, visit: http://www.facebook.com/NASAKennedy

WEB ACTIVITIES UPDATES AND ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
To learn more about the DSCOVR mission by going to NOAA's mission home page at: http://www.nesdis.noaa.gov/DSCOVR/


January 30, 2015

Launch of NASA Soil Moisture Mapping Mission Set for Saturday

NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive mission (SMAP) now is scheduled to launch from Space Launch Complex 2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, at 9:20 a.m. EST (6:20 a.m. PST) Saturday, Jan. 31, on a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket. NASA Television coverage of the launch will begin at 7 a.m.

Managers from NASA and United Launch Alliance gave a "go" to proceed with the launch following completion of minor repairs to the Delta II rocket. During inspections following the Thursday launch attempt, minor "debonds" to the booster insulation were identified. A standard repair was implemented.

Weather forecasters are predicting a 100 percent chance of favorable conditions for launch.

SMAP will provide high-resolution, space-based measurements of soil moisture and its state -- frozen or thawed -- a new capability that will allow scientists to better predict natural hazards of extreme weather, climate change, floods and droughts, and help reduce uncertainties in our understanding of Earth's water, energy and carbon cycles.

The mission will map the entire globe every two to three days for at least three years and provide the most accurate and highest-resolution maps of soil moisture ever obtained. The spacecraft's final circular polar orbit will be 426 miles (685 kilometers), at an inclination of 98.1 degrees. The spacecraft will orbit Earth once every 98.5 minutes and repeat the same ground track every eight days.

For an updated schedule of prelaunch briefings, events and NASA TV coverage, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/1xaYUzD

For in-depth prelaunch, countdown and launch day coverage of the liftoff of SMAP aboard the Delta II rocket, go to: http://blogs.nasa.gov/smap

For NASA TV schedules and video streaming information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv

For more information about the SMAP mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/smap


January 29, 2015

NASA Hosts Social Media for "State of NASA" Events at Agency Centers

NASA centers across the country are opening their doors Monday, Feb. 2, to social media for "State of NASA" events, unique opportunities for a behind-the-scenes look at the agency's work on its journey to Mars.

Events at NASA centers will include presentations on the cutting-edge technologies developed and under development, as well as the scientific discoveries made as NASA studies our changing Earth and the infinite universe, and progresses toward the next generation of air travel.

Additionally, each center will connect via NASA Television with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden at 1:30 p.m. EST at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Bolden will address the agency's scientific and technological achievements and the exciting work ahead as we push farther in the solar system and lead the world in a new era of exploration.

The briefing will air live on NASA TV and the agency's website.

Audio and visuals from the media teleconference will be streamed live on NASA's website and on Ustream at: http://www.nasa.gov/newsaudio

For NASA TV streaming video, schedule and downlink information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv

The NASA budget and supporting information will be available online Monday afternoon at: http://www.nasa.gov/budget


January 29, 2015

NASA TV Coverage Reset for Launch of Newest Earth-Observing Mission

NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive mission (SMAP) launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, now is scheduled for 9:20 a.m. EST (6:20 a.m. PST) Friday, Jan. 30, with a three-minute launch window. The launch of the United Launch Alliance/Delta II rocket was scrubbed Thursday due to a violation of upper-level wind constraints. Launch managers have initiated a 24-hour recycle. The weather forecast for this launch window shows a 90 percent chance of favorable conditions.

NASA Television coverage of the launch Friday will begin at 7 a.m.

SMAP will provide high-resolution, space-based measurements of soil moisture and its state -- frozen or thawed -- a new capability that will allow scientists to better predict natural hazards of extreme weather, climate change, floods and droughts, and help reduce uncertainties in our understanding of Earth's water, energy and carbon cycles.

The mission will map the entire globe every two to three days for at least three years and provide the most accurate and highest-resolution maps of soil moisture ever obtained. The spacecraft's final circular polar orbit will be 426 miles (685 kilometers), at an inclination of 98.1 degrees. The spacecraft will orbit Earth once every 98.5 minutes and repeat the same ground track every eight days.

For an updated schedule of prelaunch events and NASA TV coverage, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/1xaYUzD

For in-depth prelaunch, countdown and launch day coverage of the liftoff of SMAP aboard the Delta II rocket, go to: http://blogs.nasa.gov/smap

For NASA TV schedules and video streaming information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv

For more information about the SMAP mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/smap


January 26, 2015

Kennedy Space Center Observes NASA Day of Remembrance Jan. 28

NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida will pay tribute to the crews of Apollo 1 and space shuttles Challenger and Columbia, as well as other NASA astronauts who lost their lives while furthering the cause of exploration and discovery, during the agency's Day of Remembrance on Wednesday, Jan. 28.

At 10:30 a.m. EST, Kennedy Deputy Director Janet Petro, Kennedy associate director Kelvin Manning, and President and Chief Executive Officer of The Astronauts Memorial Foundation Thad Altman will hold a wreath-laying ceremony at the Space Mirror Memorial located in the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Petro will make brief remarks at the observance.

The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex will provide flowers for visitors to place at the memorial.

The Astronauts Memorial Foundation is a private, not-for-profit organization that built and maintains the Space Mirror Memorial. The mirror was dedicated in 1991 to honor all astronauts who lost their lives on missions or during training. It has been designated a National Memorial by Congress.

For more information about Kennedy, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/kennedy


January 23, 2015

NASA Awards Power System Upgrade Contract

NASA has awarded a contract to A. West Enterprise of Albany, Georgia, to implement various safety and reliability upgrades to the institutional power system at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The firm-fixed price contract begins Jan. 23. It has a maximum value of $8.8 million with a potential performance period of approximately two and a half years.

The contractor will provide services to meet NASA requirements that include refurbishing substation buses, installing new controllers, relay management systems, metering and protection packages, demolition and replacement of underground medium-voltage cable. Additional services include low-voltage wiring, communication cable, manholes, cable trays, control wiring, installing neutral grounding resistors, surge arrestors, generator plant equipment, and pad mounted transformers.

For information about NASA and agency programs, visit: http://www.nasa.gov


January 21, 2015

NASA, Boeing, SpaceX Discuss Plan for Launching American Astronauts from U.S. in 2017

NASA, Boeing and SpaceX will hold a news briefing on NASA Television at the agency's Johnson Space Center in Houston at noon EST (11 a.m. CST) Monday, Jan. 26, to highlight key development activities, test plans and objectives for achieving certification of two American crew transportation systems.

Under Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contracts for NASA's Launch America initiative, Boeing and SpaceX will develop safe and reliable crew transportation to and from the International Space Station on American spacecraft launched from the United States. This initiative returns the American industry to the forefront of human exploration technology and operations and ends the nation's sole reliance on Russia for crew transportation to the space station.

The panelists are:

  • NASA Administrator Charles Bolden
  • Johnson Space Center Director Ellen Ochoa
  • Commercial Crew Program Manager Kathy Lueders
  • Vice President and General Manager of Boeing Space Exploration John Elbon
  • President and Chief Operating Officer of SpaceX Gwynne Shotwell
  • NASA astronaut Mike Fincke
For NASA TV streaming video, schedule and downlink information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv
For more information about NASA's Commercial Crew Program, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew


January 20, 2015

NASA Kennedy Space Center Director Robert D. Cabana to Receive the 2015 National Space Trophy

The Rotary National Award for Space Achievement (RNASA) Foundation has selected Colonel Robert D. Cabana, director of NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, former NASA astronaut on four space shuttle missions, and retired United States Marine Corps Colonel, to receive the 2015 National Space Trophy on April 24, 2015, at the Houston Hyatt Regency in Houston, Texas.

Rodolfo González, president of the RNASA Foundation said, "The Foundation is overwhelmed with the number of nominators that came forward with a submittal for Col. Cabana. We are pleased the board of advisors' selected him, and look forward to honoring him at the 2015 RNASA Space Awards Gala."

Cabana was nominated by Dr. Ellen Ochoa, director, NASA Johnson Space Center, Mr. Michael L. Coats, former director, NASA Johnson Space Center, and Dr. Michael D. Griffin, former NASA administrator, and chairman and chief executive officer (CEO), Schafer Corporation, "for his exceptional leadership and executive guidance in leading the evolution of the NASA Kennedy Space Center as the world's premier multi-user spaceport in support of NASA's exploration goals."

Rick Hieb, vice-president of Lockheed Martin Civil Programs, also nominated Cabana, "for outstanding leadership, commitment, vision and public service benefiting America's security and our Nation's human space exploration program."

John Zarrella said, "I have known Bob for decades while I was covering the U.S. Space Program for CNN. During those years it became very evident, very quickly that no one cared more about the successes of the program. No one hurt more over the failures. And no one had greater hope about the future."

And Elliot Holokauahi Pulham, chief executive officer of Space Foundation said "I can think of no one more deserving of the 2015 National Space Trophy than Bob Cabana."

Cabana said, "I am extremely honored to be receiving the National Space Trophy. The previous awardees are my heroes, and it means so much to me that the board considered me worthy to be among them."

Cabana currently is serving as the tenth director of Kennedy, the primary United States launch site that has been used for every NASA human space flight since 1968. In this role, Cabana manages all NASA facilities and activities at Kennedy, leading a team of civil service and contractor personnel who operate and support numerous space programs and projects. He has been instrumental in ensuring the successful transition from the space shuttle and establishing the center as a true multi-user spaceport of the future.

Cabana was inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2008. He is the recipient of The Daughters of the American Revolution Award for the top Marine to complete naval flight training in 1976, is a Distinguished Graduate of the United States Naval Test Pilot School, and has logged over 7,000 hours in 50 different kinds of aircraft.

Cabana is a Fellow in the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, an Associate Fellow in the AIAA, and has received numerous awards and decorations, including the De La Vaulx medal by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale in 1994, the Presidential Distinguished Rank Award, and most recently he was honored with the National Space Club 2013 Dr. Kurt H. Debus Award.

His personal decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the National Intelligence Medal of Achievement, two NASA Distinguished Service Medals, two NASA Medals for Outstanding Leadership, two NASA Exceptional Service Medals, and four NASA Space Flight Medals.

A veteran of four space flights, Cabana has logged over 910 hours in space. He served as pilot on STS-41 (October 6-10, 1990) and STS-53 (December 2-9, 1992), and was commander on STS-65 (July 8-23, 1994) and STS-88 (December 4-15, 1998), the first International Space Station assembly mission.

The RNASA Foundation invites members of the public and the aerospace community to attend the black-tie event on April 24, 2015 at the Houston Hyatt Regency where Cabana will be recognized with the National Space Trophy. This year will be RNASA's 29th annual National Space Trophy Banquet. For more information, go to: http://www.rnasa.org/

About RNASA: The Rotary National Award for Space Achievement (RNASA) Foundation was founded by the Space Center Rotary Club of Houston, Texas in 1985 to organize and coordinate an annual event to recognize outstanding achievements in space and create greater public awareness of the benefits of space exploration. The nonprofit Foundation presents the National Space Trophy and Stellar Awards each year.


January 19, 2015 - UPI

MUOS-3 satellite ready for launch

By Richard Tomkins | Jan. 19, 2015 at 8:00 AM

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., Jan. 19 (UPI) -- The third MUOS satellite for improving secure mobile satellite communications for the military is ready for launch in Florida.

Lockheed Martin, who made the satellite for the U.S. Navy, said the Mobile User Objective System satellite will be carried into orbit on Tuesday evening from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

"The launch of MUOS-3, and the near-term certification of our fourth and final Radio Access Facility, brings us to the brink of the global coverage we anticipate for MUOS communications," said Iris Bombelyn, vice president of Narrowband Communications at Lockheed Martin.

"To deliver a satellite like MUOS is no small task and the team worked around the clock and through every holiday. We are honored to do so, because we know that our warfighters never stop in their own mission to keep us safe."

The constellation of MUOS satellites operates like a smart phone network and provides users on-demand, beyond-line-of-sight capability to transmit and receive high-quality voice and mission data on a high-speed Internet Protocol-based system.

MUOS satellites carry two payloads to ensure access to UHF narrowband communications as well as new capabilities. Once in operation they will provide 16 times the capacity of the legacy UHF system now in use.


January 16, 2015

NASA SMAP Observatory Ready for Launch

The launch of NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive mission (SMAP) at Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) in California is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 29. Liftoff from Space Launch Complex 2 aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket is targeted for 6:20:42 a.m. PST (9:20:42 a.m. EST) at the opening of a three-minute launch window. If needed, a backup launch opportunity is available on the Western Range on Jan. 30 with the same launch window.

SMAP is the first U.S. Earth-observing satellite designed to collect global observations of surface soil moisture and its freeze/thaw state. High resolution space-based measurements of soil moisture and whether the soil is frozen or thawed will give scientists a new capability to better predict natural hazards of extreme weather, climate change, floods and droughts, and will help reduce uncertainties in our understanding of Earth's water, energy and carbon cycles.

The mission will provide the most accurate and highest-resolution maps of soil moisture ever obtained, mapping the globe every two to three days from space for a least three years. The spacecraft's final circular polar orbit will be 426 miles (685 kilometers) at an inclination of 98.1 degrees. The spacecraft will orbit the Earth once every 98.5 minutes and repeats the same ground track every eight days.

NASA Web Prelaunch and Launch Coverage

For extensive prelaunch, countdown and launch day coverage of the liftoff of SMAP aboard the Delta II rocket, go to: http://blogs.nasa.gov/smap

A prelaunch webcast for the SMAP mission will be streamed on NASA's website at noon PST (3 p.m. EST) on Wednesday, Jan. 28. To view the webcast and the countdown blog or to learn more about the SMAP mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/smap

Social Media

Join the conversation online and follow the SMAP mission on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/NASASMAP

Throughout the launch countdown, the NASA Launch Services Program and NASA JPL Twitter and Facebook accounts will be continuously updated at:
https://www.twitter.com/NASA_LSP
https://twitter.com/NASAJPL
https://www.facebook.com/NASALSP
https://www.facebook.com/NASAJPL
https://www.facebook.com/NASAKennedy

Live countdown coverage on NASA's launch blog begins at 4 a.m. PST (7 a.m. EST). Coverage features real-time updates of countdown milestones, as well as streaming video clips highlighting launch preparations and liftoff. For questions about countdown coverage, contact Nancy Bray at 321-867-9112.


January 10, 2015

NASA Cargo Launches to Space Station aboard SpaceX Resupply Mission

Falcon 9 rocket launch - 1/10/15
A SpaceX Dragon spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket launches from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 4:47 a.m. EST on Jan. 10, 2014. The Dragon is loaded with more than two tons of supplies and NASA science investigations for the International Space Station.
Image Credit: NASA TV
More than two tons of supplies and NASA science investigations are on the way to the International Space Station aboard SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft. The spacecraft launched Saturday on the company's Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 4:47 a.m. EST.

The mission is the company's fifth official cargo delivery flight to the station through NASA's Commercial Resupply Services contract. Dragon's cargo will support more than 250 experiments that will be conducted by the station's Expeditions 42 and 43 crews.

"We are delighted to kick off 2015 with our first commercial cargo launch of the year," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "Thanks to our private sector partners, we've returned space station resupply launches to U.S. soil and are poised to do the same with the transport of our astronauts in the very near future. Today's launch not only resupplies the station, but also delivers important science experiments and increases the station's unique capabilities as a platform for Earth science with delivery of the Cloud-Aerosol Transport System, or CATS instrument. I congratulate the SpaceX and NASA teams who have made today's success possible. We look forward to extending our efforts in commercial space to include commercial crew by 2017 and to more significant milestones this year on our journey to Mars."

The CATS instrument measures the location, composition and distribution of pollution, dust, smoke, aerosols and other particulates in the atmosphere. CATS will be attached outside the station on the Japanese Experiment Module. By gaining a deeper understanding of cloud and aerosol coverage, scientists can create a better model of their role in Earth's changing global climate.

A new biological study will use flatworms as a model organism to see how gravity affects tissue regeneration and the rebuilding of damaged organs and nerves. Flatworms regenerate their cells, replacing them as they age or are damaged. This investigation studies the cell signaling mechanisms the worms use while regenerating their tissue in microgravity. Its results could provide insight into how wounds heal in space.

Also making the trip as model organisms will be fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster). Scientists will study the flies' immune systems as a model for the human immune system, to explore how spaceflight can make organisms more susceptible to disease, especially since microbes can become more virulent in space.

The new Micro-5 investigation aims to understand the risks of in-flight infections in space explorers during long-term spaceflight. It will study the interactions between the host and bacteria, cellular responses and the effectiveness of countermeasures during spaceflight. The model organism Caenorhabditis elegans (roundworm) will be studied along with the microbe Salmonella typhimurium, which is known to cause food poisoning in humans.

Dragon will be grappled at 6:12 a.m. Monday, Jan. 12, by Expedition 42 Commander Barry "Butch" Wilmore of NASA, using the space station's robotic arm to take hold of the spacecraft. European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti will support Wilmore in a backup position. Dragon is scheduled to spend about a month attached to the space station before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean, west of Baja California, Mexico, carrying more than 3,800 pounds of cargo, including crew supplies, hardware and computer resources, science experiments, space station hardware and trash.

The International Space Station is a convergence of science, technology and human innovation that demonstrates new technologies and makes research breakthroughs not possible on Earth. The space station has been occupied continuously since November 2000. In that time, more than 200 people and a variety of international and commercial spacecraft have visited the orbiting laboratory. The space station remains the springboard to NASA's next great leap in exploration, including future missions to an asteroid and Mars.

For more information about SpaceX's mission to the International Space Station, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/spacex

For more information about the International Space Station, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station


January 9, 2015

NASA Satellite Set to Get the Dirt on Soil Moisture

NASA's SMAP video
NASA's next mission to study Earth is a soil moisture mapper know as SMAP (Soil Moisture Active Passive). Data from SMAP will be used to enhance understanding of processes that link the water, energy and carbon cycles, and to extend the capabilities of weather and climate prediction models including improved flood prediction and drought monitoring capabilities.
Image Credit: NASA
A new NASA satellite that will peer into the topmost layer of Earth's soils to measure the hidden waters that influence our weather and climate is in final preparations for a Jan. 29 dawn launch from California.

The Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission will take the pulse of a key measure of our water planet: how freshwater cycles over Earth's land surfaces in the form of soil moisture. The mission will produce the most accurate, highest-resolution global maps ever obtained from space of the moisture present in the top 2 inches (5 centimeters) of Earth's soils. It also will detect and map whether the ground is frozen or thawed. This data will be used to enhance scientists' understanding of the processes that link Earth's water, energy and carbon cycles.

"With data from SMAP, scientists and decision makers around the world will be better equipped to understand how Earth works as a system and how soil moisture impacts a myriad of human activities, from floods and drought to weather and crop yield forecasts," said Christine Bonniksen, SMAP program executive with the Science Mission Directorate's Earth Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "SMAP's global soil moisture measurements will provide a new capability to improve our understanding of Earth's climate."

Globally, the volume of soil moisture varies between three and five percent in desert and arid regions, to between 40 and 50 percent in saturated soils. In general, the amount depends on such factors as precipitation patterns, topography, vegetation cover and soil composition. There are not enough sensors in the ground to map the variability in global soil moisture at the level of detail needed by scientists and decision makers. From space, SMAP will produce global maps with 6-mile (10-kilometer) resolution every two to three days.

Researchers want to measure soil moisture and its freeze/thaw state better for numerous reasons. Plants and crops draw water from the soil through their roots to grow. If soil moisture is inadequate, plants fail to grow, which over time can lead to reduced crop yields. Also, energy from the sun evaporates moisture in the soil, thereby cooling surface temperatures and also increasing moisture in the atmosphere, allowing clouds and precipitation to form more readily. In this way, soil moisture has a significant effect on both short-term regional weather and longer-term global climate.

In summer, plants in Earth's northern boreal regions -- the forests found in Earth's high northern latitudes -- take in carbon dioxide from the air and use it to grow, but lay dormant during the winter freeze period. All other factors being equal, the longer the growing season, the more carbon plants take in and the more effective forests are in removing carbon dioxide from the air. Since the start of the growing season is marked by the thawing and refreezing of water in soils, mapping the freeze/thaw state of soils with SMAP will help scientists more accurately account for how much carbon plants are removing from the atmosphere each year. This information will lead to better estimates of the carbon budget in the atmosphere and, hence, better assessments of future global warming.

SMAP data will enhance our confidence in projections of how Earth's water cycle will respond to climate change.

"Assessing future changes in regional water availability is perhaps one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world today," said Dara Entekhabi, SMAP science team leader at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. "Today's computer models disagree on how the water cycle -- precipitation, clouds, evaporation, runoff, soil water availability -- will increase or decrease over time and in different regions as our world warms. SMAP's higher-resolution soil moisture data will improve the models used to make daily weather and longer-term climate predictions."

SMAP also will advance our ability to monitor droughts, predict floods and mitigate the related impacts of these extreme events. It will allow the monitoring of regional deficits in soil moisture and provide critical inputs into drought monitoring and early warning systems used by resource managers. The mission's high-resolution observations of soil moisture will improve flood warnings by providing information on ground saturation conditions before rainstorms.

SMAP's two advanced instruments work together to produce soil moisture maps. Its active radar works much like a flash camera, but instead of transmitting visible light, it transmits microwave pulses that pass through clouds and moderate vegetation cover to the ground and measures how much of that signal is reflected back. Its passive radiometer operates like a natural-light camera, capturing emitted microwave radiation without transmitting a pulse. Unlike traditional cameras, however, SMAP's images are in the microwave range of the electromagnetic spectrum, which is invisible to the naked eye. Microwave radiation is sensitive to how much moisture is contained in the soil.

The two instruments share a large, lightweight reflector antenna that will be unfurled in orbit like a blooming flower and then spin at about 14 revolutions per minute. The antenna will allow the instruments to collect data across a 621-mile (1,000-kilometer) swath, enabling global coverage every two to three days.

SMAP's radiometer measurements extend and expand on soil moisture measurements currently made by the European Space Agency's Soil Moisture Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission, launched in 2009. With the addition of a radar instrument, SMAP's soil moisture measurements will be able to distinguish finer features on the ground. SMAP will launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base on a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket and maneuver into a 426-mile (685-kilometer) altitude, near-polar orbit that repeats exactly every eight days. The mission is designed to operate at least three years.

SMAP is managed for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington by the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, with instrument hardware and science contributions made by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. JPL is responsible for project management, system engineering, radar instrumentation, mission operations and the ground data system. Goddard is responsible for the radiometer instrument. Both centers collaborate on science data processing and delivery to the Alaska Satellite Facility, in Fairbanks, and the National Snow and Ice Data Center, at the University of Colorado in Boulder, for public distribution and archiving. NASA's Launch Services Program at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida is responsible for launch management. JPL is managed for NASA by the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

For more information about the Soil Moisture Active Passive mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/smap and http://smap.jpl.nasa.gov

SMAP will be the fifth NASA Earth science mission to launch within a 12-month period. NASA monitors Earth's vital signs from land, air and space with a fleet of satellites and ambitious airborne and ground-based observation campaigns. NASA develops new ways to observe and study Earth's interconnected natural systems with long-term data records and computer analysis tools to better see how our planet is changing. For more information about NASA's Earth science activities, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/earthrightnow


January 5, 2015

NASA Statement on GAO Decision to Deny Commercial Crew Contract Protest

Commercial Crew Transportation program NASA issued the following statement in response to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) decision to deny a protest Sierra Nevada Corp., of Louisville, Colorado, filed Sept. 26, 2014, challenging the agency's Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) Contract awards made Sept. 16, 2014, to The Boeing Company, Space Exploration, Houston, and Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX), of Hawthorne, California.

"The GAO has notified NASA that it has denied Sierra Nevada Corporation's protest of the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability contract awards. NASA is pleased the GAO's decision allows the agency to move forward and continue working with Boeing and SpaceX on the Launch America initiative that will enable safe and reliable crew transportation to and from the International Space Station on American spacecraft launched from the United States, ending the nation's sole reliance on Russia for such transportation. The case remains under the protective order and blackout until the GAO releases its decision."

Read the GAO's full statement on its ruling at: http://www.gao.gov/press/pr_statement_sierra_nevada_bid_protest.htm
For more information about NASA's Commercial Crew Program, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew




 


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