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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Kennedy Space Center: A New Era

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NASA's Kennedy Space Center is midway through its transition from government-focused launch facility to multi-user spaceport capable of handling the needs of NASA's space exploration ambitions as well as commercial companies.
Published on Feb 18, 2015
New NASA App Shares Excitement for Deep Space Missions. Step into the near future with NASA's 3DV app to see a Space Launch System rocket on the launch pad and the Orion spacectaft in processing at Kennedy - and much more!
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alligator Wildlife at the Kennedy Space Center

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


December 22, 2014

NASA Commercial Crew Partners Complete 23 Milestones in 2014, Look Ahead to 2015

NASA's Commercial Crew Program and the agency's industry partners completed 23 agreement and contract milestones in 2014 and participated in thousands of hours of technical review sessions. The sessions focused on creating a new generation of safe, reliable and cost-effective crew space transportation systems to low-Earth orbit destinations.

"To say we've been busy would truly be an understatement," said Kathy Lueders, manager of the Commercial Crew Program. "Our partners at Blue Origin, Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corporation and SpaceX have made tremendous strides in their respective systems throughout the year and we're happy to have supported them along their way. My team and I are excited to continue to work with our partners in the coming year."

Blue Origin continued the development of its Space Vehicle spacecraft designed to carry people into low-Earth orbit. The company also continued work on its subscale propellant tank assembly through an unfunded Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2) agreement with NASA, which was recently extended until April 2016. In the coming year, Blue Origin will further test its propellant tank and BE-3 engine.

Both Boeing and SpaceX began work on the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contracts to develop systems to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

In 2014 Boeing closed out its Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) agreement and Certification Products Contract (CPC) with NASA. The company also completed its first two CCtCap milestones. Boeing worked with the agency to set an operating rhythm and path toward certification of the CST-100 spacecraft and United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

NASA evaluated the designs of the company's ground-based systems that will be used to carry crews to the station, including the launch complex, crew training, countdown operations mission control facilities, landing locations and post-landing operations.

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) performed incremental tests of its reaction control system that will help maneuver its Dream Chaser spacecraft in space. SNC achieved its CCiCap milestone in November and built on previous propulsion system development efforts by implementing a compact prototype thruster operating in a vacuum chamber to simulate an on-orbit environment. This year, the company also performed wind tunnel and risk-reduction testing under its CCiCap agreement and closed out its Certification Products Contract with NASA. In 2015, the company will perform the second free-flight of its Dream Chaser test article at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center.

SpaceX performed two milestones, its Dragon Primary Structure Qualification and Delta Crew Vehicle Critical Design Review, in November as part of its CCiCap agreement. Under that agreement, SpaceX also performed other critical design reviews of its systems and operations this year. The company continued to provide NASA with data in preparation for the company's Certification Baseline Review under its CCtCap contract, which was approved this month. SpaceX also closed out its CPC contract with NASA in 2014. Next year, SpaceX will perform two abort tests for its Crew Dragon spacecraft under its CCiCap agreement.

"Our partners and providers are working on real hardware and will be doing exciting tests next year," Lueders said. "Pad infrastructures, processing facilities, hardware and crew training mock-ups, which are all key elements crucial to flying crew safely in just a few years, will take a more cohesive shape next year."

NASA's goal for the Commercial Crew Program is to facilitate the development of a U.S. commercial crew space transportation capability with the goal of achieving safe, reliable and cost-effective access to and from low-Earth orbit and the International Space Station. With the CCtCap contracts announced Sept. 16, NASA's goal is to certify crew transportation systems in 2017 that will return the ability to launch astronauts from the United States to the International Space Station.

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


December 22, 2014

NASA Commercial Crew Partners Complete 23 Milestones in 2014, Look Ahead to 2015

NASA's Commercial Crew Program and the agency's industry partners completed 23 agreement and contract milestones in 2014 and participated in thousands of hours of technical review sessions. The sessions focused on creating a new generation of safe, reliable and cost-effective crew space transportation systems to low-Earth orbit destinations.

"To say we've been busy would truly be an understatement," said Kathy Lueders, manager of the Commercial Crew Program. "Our partners at Blue Origin, Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corporation and SpaceX have made tremendous strides in their respective systems throughout the year and we're happy to have supported them along their way. My team and I are excited to continue to work with our partners in the coming year."

Blue Origin continued the development of its Space Vehicle spacecraft designed to carry people into low-Earth orbit. The company also continued work on its subscale propellant tank assembly through an unfunded Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2) agreement with NASA, which was recently extended until April 2016. In the coming year, Blue Origin will further test its propellant tank and BE-3 engine.

Both Boeing and SpaceX began work on the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contracts to develop systems to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station. In 2014 Boeing closed out its Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) agreement and Certification Products Contract (CPC) with NASA. The company also completed its first two CCtCap milestones. Boeing worked with the agency to set an operating rhythm and path toward certification of the CST-100 spacecraft and United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

NASA evaluated the designs of the company's ground-based systems that will be used to carry crews to the station, including the launch complex, crew training, countdown operations mission control facilities, landing locations and post-landing operations.

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) performed incremental tests of its reaction control system that will help maneuver its Dream Chaser spacecraft in space. SNC achieved its CCiCap milestone in November and built on previous propulsion system development efforts by implementing a compact prototype thruster operating in a vacuum chamber to simulate an on-orbit environment. This year, the company also performed wind tunnel and risk-reduction testing under its CCiCap agreement and closed out its Certification Products Contract with NASA. In 2015, the company will perform the second free-flight of its Dream Chaser test article at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center.

SpaceX performed two milestones, its Dragon Primary Structure Qualification and Delta Crew Vehicle Critical Design Review, in November as part of its CCiCap agreement. Under that agreement, SpaceX also performed other critical design reviews of its systems and operations this year. The company continued to provide NASA with data in preparation for the company's Certification Baseline Review under its CCtCap contract, which was approved this month. SpaceX also closed out its CPC contract with NASA in 2014. Next year, SpaceX will perform two abort tests for its Crew Dragon spacecraft under its CCiCap agreement.

"Our partners and providers are working on real hardware and will be doing exciting tests next year," Lueders said. "Pad infrastructures, processing facilities, hardware and crew training mock-ups, which are all key elements crucial to flying crew safely in just a few years, will take a more cohesive shape next year."

NASA's goal for the Commercial Crew Program is to facilitate the development of a U.S. commercial crew space transportation capability with the goal of achieving safe, reliable and cost-effective access to and from low-Earth orbit and the International Space Station. With the CCtCap contracts announced Sept. 16, NASA's goal is to certify crew transportation systems in 2017 that will return the ability to launch astronauts from the United States to the International Space Station.

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


December 19, 2014

Video Gives Astronaut's-Eye View Inside NASA's Orion Spacecraft

New video recorded during the return of NASA's Orion through Earth's atmosphere this month provides a taste of the intense conditions the spacecraft and the astronauts it carries will endure when they return from deep space destinations on the journey to Mars.

Among the first data to be removed from Orion following its uncrewed Dec. 5 flight test was video recorded through windows in Orion's crew module. Although much of the video was transmitted down to Earth and shown in real time on NASA Television, it was not available in its entirety. Also, the blackout caused by the superheated plasma surrounding the vehicle as it endured the peak temperatures of its descent prevented downlink of any information at that key point. However, the cameras were able to record the view and now the public can have an up-close look at the extreme environment a spacecraft experiences as it travels back through Earth's environment from beyond low-Earth orbit.

The video begins 10 minutes before Orion's 11:29 a.m. EST splashdown in the Pacific Ocean, just as the spacecraft was beginning to experience Earth's atmosphere. Peak heating from the friction caused by the atmosphere rubbing against Orion's heat shield comes less than two minutes later, and the footage shows the plasma created by the interaction change from white to yellow to lavender to magenta as the temperature increases.

As Orion emerges safely on the other side of its trial by fire, the camera continues to record the deployment of the series of parachutes that slowed it to a safe 20 mph for landing and the final splash as Orion touched down on Earth.

Orion was then retrieved by a combined NASA, U.S. Navy and Lockheed Martin team and carried back to shore aboard the Navy's USS Anchorage. After returning to shore, it was loaded onto a truck and driven back to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where it arrived on Thursday.

Orion traveled 3,600 miles above Earth on its 4.5-hour flight test – farther than any spacecraft built for humans has been in more than 40 years. In coming back from that distance, it also traveled faster and experienced hotter temperatures – 20,000 mph and near 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit, to be exact. Orion will travel faster and experience even higher temperatures on future missions, when it returns from greater distances, but this altitude allowed engineers to perform a good checkout of Orion's critical systems – in particular its heat shield.

Orion's flight test was a critical step on NASA's journey to Mars. Work already has begun on the next Orion capsule, which will launch for the first time on top of NASA's new Space Launch System rocket and travel to a distant retrograde orbit around the moon.

To view the video of Orion's re-entry, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtWzuZ6WZ8E
For information about Orion, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/orion


December 19, 2014

SpaceX Completes First Milestone for Commercial Crew Transportation System

NASA has approved the completion of SpaceX's first milestone in the company's path toward launching crews to the International Space Station (ISS) from U.S. soil under a Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contract with the agency.

NASA's Launch America program
By Steven Siceloff, NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
During the Certification Baseline Review, SpaceX described its current design baseline including how the company plans to manufacture its Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 v.1.1 rocket, then launch, fly, land and recover the crew. The company also outlined how it will achieve NASA certification of its system to enable transport of crews to and from the space station.

"This milestone sets the pace for the rigorous work ahead as SpaceX meets the certification requirements outlined in our contract," said Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA's Commercial Crew Program. "It is very exciting to see SpaceX's proposed path to certification, including a flight test phase and completion of the system development."

On Sept. 16, the agency unveiled its selection of SpaceX and Boeing to transport U.S. crews to and from the space station using their Crew Dragon and CST-100 spacecraft, respectively. These contracts will end the nation's sole reliance on Russia and allow the station's current crew of six to increase, enabling more research aboard the unique microgravity laboratory.

Under the CCtCap contracts, the companies will complete NASA certification of their human space transportation systems, including a crewed flight test with at least one NASA astronaut aboard, to verify the fully integrated rocket and spacecraft system can launch from the United States, maneuver in orbit, and dock to the space station, and validate its systems perform as expected.

Throughout the next few years, SpaceX will test its systems, materials and concept of operations to the limits to prove they are safe to transport astronauts to the station. Once certified, the Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket will be processed and integrated inside a new hangar before being rolled out for launch. This will all take place at the historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The Crew Dragon is expected to be able to dock to the station for up to 210 days and serve as a 24-hour safe haven during an emergency in space.

"SpaceX designed the Dragon spacecraft with the ultimate goal of transporting people to space," said Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer. "Successful completion of the Certification Baseline Review represents a critical step in that effort—we applaud our team's hard work to date and look forward to helping NASA return the transport of U.S. astronauts to American soil."

By expanding the station crew size and enabling private companies to handle launches to low-Earth orbit -- a region NASA has been visiting since 1962 -- the nation's space agency can focus on getting the most research and experience out of America's investment in ISS.

NASA also can expand its focus to develop the Space Launch System and Orion capsule for missions in the proving ground of deep space beyond the moon to advance the skills and techniques that will enable humans to explore Mars.

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


December 18, 2014

NASA's Orion Arrives Back at Kennedy, Media Invited to View Spacecraft

After traveling more than 3,600 miles above Earth and 600 miles over sea, NASA's Orion spacecraft completed the final leg of its journey by land Thursday, arriving home at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The spacecraft's cross-country return, a 2,700 mile road trip from Naval Base San Diego to Kennedy, sets the stage for in-depth analysis of data obtained during Orion's trip to space and will provide engineers detailed information on how the spacecraft fared during its two-orbit, 4.5-hour flight test, completed on Dec. 5.

"Orion's flight test was a critical step on our journey to send astronauts to explore deep space destinations," said Bill Hill, deputy associate administrator for exploration systems development at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "We stressed Orion to help us evaluate its performance and validate our computer models and ground-based evaluations, and the information we gathered will help us improve Orion's design going forward."

Data was gathered in real time during the flight test, and more was removed from the vehicle when it arrived on land in San Diego before it was crated for the drive to Florida.

"The flight itself was such a great success, but that's only the beginning of the story," said Orion Program Manager Mark Geyer. "Now we get to dig in and really find out if our design performed like we thought it would. This is why we flew the flight. We demonstrated on Dec. 5 that Orion is a very capable vehicle. Now we're going to keep testing and improving as we begin building the next Orion."

An initial inspection of the crew module turned up nothing unexpected. There were indications of some micrometeoroid orbital debris strikes on the sides of Orion, which was anticipated.

With the spacecraft back at Kennedy, where it was assembled and prepared for launch, engineers will be able to remove the back shell of the spacecraft and perform inspections of its cabling, fluid lines, propulsion system and avionics boxes. Heat shield samples already have been removed and sent to a laboratory where their thickness, strength and charring will be examined.

The information will be used to make improvements to Orion's design before its next flight, Exploration Mission-1, when it will launch uncrewed on top of NASA's new Space Launch System for the first time into a large orbit around the moon.

While the information is being gathered from the flight test, testing also will continue on Earth. On Dec. 18, engineers dropped a test version of the Orion capsule from a C-17 aircraft 25,000 feet above U.S. Army's Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona. The latest in a series of tests designed to certify Orion's parachute system, the test simulated a failure of one of Orion's three main parachutes for a first-time demonstration of several modifications made to the parachute system to improve its performance.

Panels for the pressure vessel that will form the inner structure for the next Orion crew module are in production and set to be welded together at the end of summer 2015. Meanwhile, the European Space Agency is building the test article of the Orion service module they will be supplying for Exploration Mission-1, and assembly of the launch abort system for that flight will begin in April.

NASA's Ground Systems Development and Operations Program managed Orion's cross-country trip from Naval Base San Diego to Kennedy. The crew module will be refurbished for use in Ascent Abort-2 in 2018, a test of Orion's launch abort system.

For more information about the Ground Systems Development and Operations Program at Kennedy, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/groundsystems
For information about Orion, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/orion



December 18, 2014

NASA, SpaceX Update Launch of Fifth SpaceX Resupply Mission to Space Station

NASA and SpaceX announced today the launch of SpaceX's fifth commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station now will occur no earlier than Tuesday, Jan. 6.

The new launch date will provide SpaceX engineers time to investigate further issues that arose from a static fire test of the Falcon 9 rocket on Dec. 16 and will avoid beta angle constraints for berthing the Dragon cargo ship to the station that exist through the end of the year.

A beta angle is the position of the sun relative to mechanical structures on the space station. During the time of high beta angles, which run from Dec. 28 through Jan. 7, thermal and operational constraints prohibit Dragon from berthing to the station.

Space station managers will meet Monday, Jan. 5, for a readiness review in advance of the launch attempt Jan. 6. The launch postponement has no impact on the station's crew or its complement of food, fuel and supplies and will not affect the science being delivered to the crew once Dragon arrives at the station.

The launch is scheduled at approximately 6:18 a.m. EST. NASA Television coverage will begin at 5 a.m.

A backup launch attempt is available Wednesday, Jan. 7.

A launch on Jan. 6 will result in a rendezvous and grapple of Dragon Thursday, Jan. 8, at approximately 6 a.m. NASA TV coverage will begin at 4:30 a.m. Installation coverage will begin at 9 a.m.

Prelaunch briefings at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida will be rescheduled for Monday, Jan. 5, with times still to be determined.

For an updated schedule of prelaunch briefings, events and NASA TV coverage, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/1FrjDEO
For launch countdown coverage, NASA's launch blog, and more information about the mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/spacex
For NASA TV schedule and video streaming information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv
For more information about the International Space Station, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station



December 16, 2014

NASA Awards Launch Services Contract for Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite

NASA has selected SpaceX to provide launch services for the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission. TESS will launch aboard a Falcon 9 v1.1 launch vehicle, with liftoff targeted for August 2017 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The total cost for NASA to launch TESS is approximately $87 million, which includes the launch service, spacecraft processing, payload integration, tracking, data and telemetry, and other launch support requirements.

TESS's science goal is to detect transiting exoplanets orbiting nearby bright stars. During a three-year funded science mission, TESS will sample hundreds of thousands of stars in order to detect a large sample of exoplanets, with an emphasis on discovering Earth- and super-Earth-sized planets in the solar neighborhood.

The Launch Services Program at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida is responsible for management and oversight of the Falcon 9 v1.1 launch services for TESS. The TESS Mission is led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with oversight by the Explorers Program at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

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



December 12, 2014 (edited)

Deep Space Climate Observatory

NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida will launch the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) spacecraft aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) Jan. 23, 2015. The instantaneous launch window occurs at 6:49:21 p.m. EST. A backup launch opportunity also is available the following day if needed.

DSCOVR is a mission led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, in partnership with NASA and the U.S. Air Force, having a primary task to collect measurements to enable space weather forecasting by NOAA. The DSCOVR spacecraft will make unique space measurements from its orbit one million miles away from Earth.

For more information about the DSCOVR Program, visit: http://www.nesdis.noaa.gov/DSCOVR/



December 11, 2014

NASA, SpaceX Update Launch of Fifth SpaceX Resupply Mission to Space Station

The fifth SpaceX cargo mission to the International Space Station (ISS) under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services contract now is scheduled to launch no earlier than 1:20 p.m. EST Friday, Dec. 19, from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. NASA Television coverage of the launch begins at 12:15 p.m.

The change of launch date allows SpaceX to take extra time to ensure they do everything possible on the ground to prepare for a successful launch. Both the Falcon 9 rocket and its Dragon spacecraft are in good health.

An on-time launch on Dec. 19 will result in the Dragon spacecraft arriving at the space station on Sunday, Dec. 21. Expedition 42 Commander Barry "Butch" Wilmore of NASA will use the station's 57.7-foot robotic arm to reach out and capture it at approximately 6 a.m.

Flight Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency will support Wilmore as they operate from the station's cupola. NASA TV coverage of grapple will begin at 4:30 a.m. Coverage of Dragon's installation to the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module will begin 9 a.m.

For launch countdown coverage, NASA's launch blog, and more information about the mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/spacex
For NASA TV schedule and video streaming information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv
For more information about the International Space Station, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station


December 5, 2014

NASA's New Orion Spacecraft Completes First Spaceflight Test

Major Milestone on Agency's Journey to Mars

NASA marked a major milestone Friday on its journey to Mars as the Orion spacecraft completed its first voyage to space, traveling farther than any spacecraft designed for astronauts has been in more than 40 years.

Orion lift off & landing

"Today's flight test of Orion is a huge step for NASA and a really critical part of our work to pioneer deep space on our Journey to Mars," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "The teams did a tremendous job putting Orion through its paces in the real environment it will endure as we push the boundary of human exploration in the coming years."

Orion blazed into the morning sky at 7:05 a.m. EST, lifting off from Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket. The Orion crew module splashed down approximately 4.5 hours later in the Pacific Ocean, 600 miles southwest of San Diego.

During the uncrewed test, Orion traveled twice through the Van Allen belt where it experienced high periods of radiation, and reached an altitude of 3,600 miles above Earth. Orion also hit speeds of 20,000 mph and weathered temperatures approaching 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit as it entered Earth's atmosphere.

Orion will open the space between Earth and Mars for exploration by astronauts. This proving ground will be invaluable for testing capabilities future human Mars missions will need. The spacecraft was tested in space to allow engineers to collect critical data to evaluate its performance and improve its design. The flight tested Orion's heat shield, avionics, parachutes, computers and key spacecraft separation events, exercising many of the systems critical to the safety of astronauts who will travel in Orion.

On future missions, Orion will launch on NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift rocket currently being developed at the agency's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. A 70 metric-ton (77 ton) SLS will send Orion to a distant retrograde orbit around the moon on Exploration Mission-1 in the first test of the fully integrated Orion and SLS system.

"We really pushed Orion as much as we could to give us real data that we can use to improve Orion's design going forward," said Mark Geyer, Orion Program manager. "In the coming weeks and months we'll be taking a look at that invaluable information and applying lessons learned to the next Orion spacecraft already in production for the first mission atop the Space Launch System rocket."

A team of NASA, U.S. Navy and Lockheed Martin personnel aboard the USS Anchorage are in the process of recovering Orion and will return it to U.S. Naval Base San Diego in the coming days. Orion will then be delivered to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where it will be processed. The crew module will be refurbished for use in Ascent Abort-2 in 2018, a test of Orion's launch abort system.

Lockheed Martin, NASA's prime contractor for Orion, began manufacturing the Orion crew module in 2011 and delivered it in July 2012 to the Neil Armstrong Operations & Checkout Facility at Kennedy where final assembly, integration and testing were completed. More than 1,000 companies across the country manufactured or contributed elements to Orion.

For more information about Orion, its flight test and the Journey to Mars, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/orion and http://go.nasa.gov/1pVQu0S



December 1, 2014

New Display Counts Down for New Generation

NASA's new Countdown Display Clock
A new countdown display has been constructed in the place of the former analog countdown clock at the Press Site at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The display is a modern, digital LED display akin to stadium monitors. It allows television images to be shown along with numbers.
Image Credit: NASA

The new generation of human space exploration spacecraft is getting a new generation clock to count it down for launch on December 4.

The new forms of both the spacecraft and clock and clock will look familiar, but carry substantial changes and are run by modern technology. In the same way that NASA's Orion is a capsule shape akin to Apollo, the new countdown display at Kennedy Space Center's Press Site doesn't look all that different from its predecessor. And again, just as in the case of Orion and Apollo, the new version of the countdown display is far more capable and boasts technology more akin to a stadium television than a simple wristwatch.

The new display, which sits on the same mount as the former countdown clock, is already up and running and has been showing NASA TV images along with a test countdown in the lower corner. The completion of the display came about a week before Orion heads to space on its first flight test. News media, families of center employees and NASA guests will do as so many have done before: follow the progress of the countdown on the grassy area around the turn basin while looking out toward the launch pad for the rocket to ignite.

This time though, they will be able to get far more from the display than the clicking lights and numbers. NASA's whole prelaunch program will be available to showcase on the display. So if the numbers stop counting down, those following along won't have to wonder whether it is a built-in hold or a technical glitch with the rocket – they'll know quickly from the screen.

"I think this is an upgrade that will really surprise news media with how much more information they will get to see while they are outside to watch the launch," said George Diller, a NASA Public Affairs officer whose launch commentary has accompanied dozens of countdowns for space shuttles and expendable rockets. "It's really neat to be able to see the launch pad up close on the monitor while still experiencing the magic of seeing the countdown and then the rocket rise above the tree line."

The new display is very similar in size to the historic clock, with a screen nearly 26 feet wide by 7 feet high. While not true high-definition, the video resolution will be 1280 x 360.The new countdown clock sports a widescreen capability utilizing the latest breakthroughs in outdoor LED display technology. The display, which comes at a cost of $280,000, will provide images from multiple sources, as well as the countdown launch time. Also, streaming video will be an option.

"Visually it will be much brighter and support whatever mission it is called upon," said Timothy M. Wright of IMCS Timing, Countdown and Photo Services at Kennedy. "Hopefully the new display will be accepted like its predecessor."

The pressure to improve the display was high for many reasons, technical as well as nostalgia. The former countdown clock earned its place in space lore as an icon familiar to everyone who watched an Apollo or shuttle launch on TV. Media members and visitors took thousands of pictures of themselves in front of the clock as proof of their pilgrimage to the Florida spaceport. The clock was even the centerpiece of several Hollywood scenes, the 4-foot-high, 2-foot-wide numbers helping add tension for the audience as a launch drew near.

"It is so absolutely unique -- the one and only -- built for the world to watch the countdown and launch," Wright said. "From a historical aspect, it has been very faithful to serve its mission requirements."

The new display is expected to become just as ingrained in the public's awareness as Orion progresses from uncrewed flight tests to deep space missions taking astronauts past the moon. The display will also chronicle launch days for the private companies working with NASA's Commercial Crew Program to launch astronauts from American soil to the International Space Station in 2017.

Of course, the display also will mark the time before the liftoff of NASA's scientific satellites from Florida, something the former clock watched over as well. The countdown clock became part of the Kennedy landscape during the Apollo era. It ticked off the progression of launches ranging from moon landings to Skylab crew launches to the historic liftoff of the Apollo-Soyuz mission in 1975 that saw NASA and the Soviet space program connect in space, a presage of the cooperation in full effect now in the form of the International Space Station and its crucial research. All the space shuttle missions and scores of planetary probes and Earth-focused observatories also lifted off in the background of the steadily clicking clock.

While launch days were clear, the clock structure took a beating from the Florida weather on more than one occasion, including sustaining damage from three hurricanes in 2004. In another parallel to the transition into the next space age, the older display could not be sustained and there was not going to be a better time to replace it than when the whole of Kennedy is transforming into a spaceport of modern infrastructure and abilities.

"We've been refurbishing our structures and facilities here for more than three years and I think this new countdown display is symbolic of the way we can meet the demands of the future using modern technology without losing sight of our landmark accomplishments," said Bob Cabana, director of Kennedy Space Center and former shuttle commander.

Even the network that will control the clock has been modernized during the previous three years. The center now uses Global Positioning Satellites to coordinate timing across the center rather than the timing facility that was housed in the Central Instrumentation Facility at Kennedy, a building better known as the CIF.

The clock is controlled from the Launch Control Center by the Timing and Imaging Technical Support Group, also known as the "timing crew." From their consoles, technicians monitor and distribute the official time to NASA facilities, including the firing rooms.

Before a launch, the launch director performs the traditional call to stations and the countdown clock is activated and begins to count down eventually to T-zero in hours, minutes and seconds. After launch, the clock runs forward, recording mission-elapsed time.

While the new display takes over the watch for launch day, the former clock will be set up again at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex where the public will see it up-close beginning in early 2015.

"Many feel this clock is as much of an icon as Apollo and shuttle," Berrios said. "At the visitor complex, it would ignite the magic surrounding a launch, and begin the countdown to explore Kennedy Space Center as part of the entry experience for the guests of the visitor complex."

http://www.nasa.gov/content/new-display-counts-down-for-new-generation/#.VHzsUot9zRx



December 1, 2014

Boeing Completes First Milestone for NASA's Commercial Crew Transportation Systems

NASA has approved the completion of Boeing's first milestone in the company's path toward launching crews to the International Space Station from the United States under a groundbreaking Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contract.

The Certification Baseline Review is the first of many more milestones, including flight tests from Florida's Space Coast that will establish the basis for certifying Boeing's human space transportation system to carry NASA astronauts to the space station. The review established a baseline design of the Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 spacecraft, United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, and associated ground and mission operations systems.

"The work done now is crucial to each of the future steps in the path to certification, including a flight test to the International Space Station," said Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA's Commercial Crew Program. "This first milestone establishes an expected operating rhythm for NASA and Boeing to meet our certification goal."

On Sept. 16, the agency unveiled its selection of Boeing and SpaceX to transport U.S. crews to and from the space station using their CST-100 and Crew Dragon spacecraft, respectively. These contracts will provide U.S. missions to the station, ending the nation's sole reliance on Russia and allowing the station's current crew of six to grow, enabling more research aboard the unique microgravity laboratory.

The CCtCap contracts are designed for the companies to complete NASA certification of their human space transportation systems, including a crewed flight test with at least one NASA astronaut aboard to verify the fully integrated rocket and spacecraft system can launch from the United States, maneuver in orbit, and dock to the space station, as well as validate all its systems perform as expected. Once the test program has been completed successfully and the systems achieve NASA certification, the contractors will conduct at least two, and as many as six, crewed missions to the space station. The spacecraft also will serve as a lifeboat for astronauts aboard the station.

During the review, Boeing provided NASA with a roadmap toward certification, including its baseline design, concept of operations and management and insight plans. The Boeing team also detailed how the CST-100 would connect with the station and how it plans to train NASA astronauts to fly the CST-100 in orbit.

"It's important for us to set a robust plan for achieving certification upfront," said Boeing Commercial Crew Program Manager John Mulholland. "It's crucial for us to achieve our 2017 goal, and the plan we've put in place will get us there."

By expanding the crew size and enabling private companies to handle launches to low-Earth orbit -- a region NASA has been visiting since 1962 -- the nation's space agency can focus on getting the most research and experience out of America's investment in the International Space Station. NASA also can expand its focus to develop the Space Launch System and Orion capsule for missions in the proving ground of deep space beyond the moon to advance the skills and techniques that will enable humans to explore Mars.

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



November 24, 2014

NASA Sets Prelaunch Activities, Television Coverage for Orion Flight Test

The first flight test of Orion, NASA's next-generation spacecraft that will send astronauts to an asteroid and onward to Mars, is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 4.

Orion will launch, uncrewed, on a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket at 7:05 a.m. EST from Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) in Florida. The window for launch is two hours 39 minutes.

NASA TV launch commentary of the flight, designated Exploration Flight Test-1, begins at 4:30 a.m. and will continue through splashdown in the Pacific Ocean approximately 600 southwest of San Diego.

During its 4.5 hour trip, Orion will orbit Earth twice and travel to an altitude of 3,600 miles into space. The flight is designed to test many of the elements that pose the greatest risk to astronauts and will provide critical data needed to improve Orion's design and reduce risks to future mission crews.

NASA SOCIAL: http://www.nasa.gov/social-orionflighttest-kennedy/
TWITTER: The NASA News Twitter feed will be updated throughout the launch countdown. To access the NASA News Twitter feed, visit: @NASA and @NASAKennedy
FACEBOOK: The NASA News Facebook feed will be updated throughout the launch countdown. To access the NASA Facebook feed, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/NASA and http://www.facebook.com/NASAKennedy

NASA TV LAUNCH COVERAGE: Thursday, Dec. 4: (Launch day): NASA TV live coverage will begin at 4:30 a.m. and conclude after splashdown. For NASA TV downlink information, schedules and links to streaming video, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv
For NASA TV schedule and video streaming information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv



November 20, 2014

NASA Awards Launch Services Contract for Ionospheric Connection Explorer

NASA has selected Orbital Sciences Corporation of Dulles, Virginia, to provide launch services for the Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) mission.

ICON is targeted to launch in June 2017 from the Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands aboard a Pegasus XL launch vehicle from Orbital's "Stargazer" L-1011 aircraft.

The total cost for NASA to launch ICON under this new firm-fixed price launch services task order is approximately $56.3 million. This includes spacecraft processing, payload integration, tracking, data and telemetry and other launch support requirements.

ICON will study the interface between the upper reaches of Earth's atmosphere and space in response to a recent scientific discovery that the ionosphere, positioned at the edge of space where the sun ionizes the air to create charged particles, is significantly influenced by storms in the lower atmosphere. ICON also will help NASA better understand how atmospheric winds control ionospheric variability.

NASA's Launch Services Program at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida is responsible for management and oversight of the Pegasus XL launch services. The ICON mission is led by the University of California, Berkeley, with oversight by the Explorers Program at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

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

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



November 19, 2014

NASA Awards Agencywide Acquisition of Liquid Hydrogen Contract

NASA has awarded the agencywide Acquisition of Liquid Hydrogen contract to Praxair Inc. of Danbury, Connecticut.

This firm-fixed price contract begins Dec. 1 and has a maximum value of $53 million, with a potential performance period of five years.

The contract consolidates the liquid hydrogen requirements of four NASA locations, including the agency's Stennis Space Center, Mississippi; Kennedy Space Center, Florida; Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama; and Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.

Liquid hydrogen is used as the fuel for rocket engine development, testing and launch of spacecraft. Liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, which are cryogenic propellants, are supplied to engines that produce the thrust necessary to meet mission objectives.

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



November 14, 2014

NASA Commercial Crew Partners Continue System Advancements

NASA's industry partners continue to complete development milestones under agreements with the agency's Commercial Crew Program. The work performed by Blue Origin, Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corporation and SpaceX during partnership and contract initiatives are leading a new generation of safe, reliable and cost-effective crew space transportation systems to low-Earth orbit destinations.

Blue Origin conducted an interim design review of the subsystems in development for its Space Vehicle spacecraft designed to carry people into low-Earth orbit. The September review was performed under an unfunded Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2) agreement with NASA. In October, NASA and Blue Origin agreed to add three additional unfunded milestones to the agreement to continue the development work and partnership. Those milestones will include further testing of Blue Origin's propellant tank, BE-3 engine and pusher escape system.

"The team at Blue Origin has made tremendous progress in its design, and we're excited to extend our partnership to 2016," said Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA's Commercial Crew Program. "It's important to keep a pulse on the commercial human spaceflight industry as a whole, and this partnership is a shining example of what works well for both industry and the government."

Boeing successfully closed out its Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) agreement with NASA, which significantly matured the company's crew transportation system, including the CST-100 spacecraft and Atlas V rocket. Meanwhile, both Boeing and SpaceX began work on the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contracts the agency awarded them Sept. 16 to develop systems to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station while the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) considers the GAO bid protest filed by Sierra Nevada Corporation.

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) continued to perform incremental tests of its reaction control system as it prepares for a CCiCap milestone review for NASA that details the system, which would help maneuver the Dream Chaser spacecraft in space. SNC also is preparing for the CCiCap free-flight milestone test of its Dream Chaser test vehicle at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center.

SpaceX held several CCiCap meetings with NASA, including one in August that covered the company's launch and mission operations plans and the associated ground systems at Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A. The company also held a series of technical interchange sessions with the agency's spaceflight experts to discuss the intricacies of the progress, testing and plans associated with the Crew Dragon spacecraft and the Falcon 9 v 1.1 rocket.

"Our partners' detailed progress on launch and spaceflight capabilities expands domestic access to space and does so in a unique and revolutionary manner," said Lueders. "Their success is a critical part of NASA's integrated approach to advance the frontier of exploration."

NASA's goal for the Commercial Crew Program is to facilitate the development of a U.S. commercial crew space transportation capability with the goal of achieving safe, reliable and cost-effective access to and from low-Earth orbit and the International Space Station. With the new CCtCap contracts announced Sept. 16, NASA's goal is to certify crew transportation systems in 2017 that will return the ability to launch astronauts from American soil to the International Space Station.

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



November 12, 2014

NASA's Orion Spacecraft Arrives at Launch Pad, Hoisted onto Rocket Ahead of its First Spaceflight

NASA's new Orion spacecraft now is at its launch pad after completing its penultimate journey in the early hours Wednesday. It arrived at Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 3:07 a.m. EST, where the spacecraft then was lifted onto a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket in preparation for its first trip to space.

Orion will travel almost 60,000 miles into space Thursday, Dec. 4, during an uncrewed flight designed to test many of the spacecraft's systems before it begins carrying astronauts on missions to deep-space destinations. The spacecraft, which includes the crew and service modules, launch abort system and the adapter that will connect it to the rocket, was completed in October and has since been awaiting its rollout inside the Launch Abort System Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Although storms in the area delayed its move slightly, Orion completed its 22-mile journey with no issues.

"This is the next step on our journey to Mars, and it's a big one," said William Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations. "In less than a month, Orion will travel farther than any spacecraft built for humans has been in more than 40 years. That's a huge milestone for NASA, and for all of us who want to see humans go to deep space."

Once it arrived at Space Launch Complex 37, Orion was hoisted up about 200 feet and placed atop the Delta IV Heavy rocket that will carry it into orbit. Over the course of the three weeks that remain until liftoff, the spacecraft will be fully connected to the rocket and powered on for final testing and preparations.

"We've put a lot of work into designing, building and testing the spacecraft to get it to this point and I couldn't be prouder of the whole team," said Mark Geyer, Orion Program manager. "Now it's time to see how it flies. Sending Orion into space will give us data that is going to be critical to improving the spacecraft's design before we go to an asteroid and Mars."

Orion is scheduled to lift off at 7:05 a.m. Dec. 4. During its two-orbit, 4.5-hour flight test, Orion will travel 3,600 miles beyond Earth. From this distance, Orion will return through Earth's atmosphere at speeds approaching 20,000 mph, generating temperatures near 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit on its heat shield. The flight will allow engineers to test systems critical to safety, including the heat shield, parachutes, avionics and attitude control.

For information about Orion and its first flight, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/orion



November 7, 2014

NASA's Orion Spacecraft Set to Roll out to Launch Pad for its First Flight

NASA's Orion spacecraft is set to roll out of the Launch Abort System Facility (LASF) at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida to its launch pad at nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 37 on Monday, Nov. 10, in preparation for liftoff next month on its first space flight.

At 4:30 p.m. EST, NASA Television will air a news briefing live from the LASF before Orion's move.

Participants in the briefing include:

  • Robert Cabana, Kennedy Space Center director
  • Ellen Ochoa, Johnson Space Center director
  • Mark Geyer, Orion Program manager
  • Mike Hawes, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company director of Human Space Flight Programs

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

Orion is in the final stages of preparation for its uncrewed flight test, targeted for Dec. 4, that will take it 3,600 miles above Earth on a more than four hour flight to test many of the systems critical for future human missions into deep space. After two orbits and 60,000 miles, Orion will re-enter Earth's atmosphere at almost 20,000 mph before its parachute system deploys to slow the spacecraft for a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean. On future missions, the Orion spacecraft will help carry astronauts farther into the solar system than ever before, including to an asteroid and Mars. For more information about Orion, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/orion



October 30, 2014

NASA's Orion Spacecraft's First Flight

NASA's new Orion spacecraft received finishing touches Thursday, marking the conclusion of construction on the first spacecraft designed to send humans into deep space beyond the moon, including a journey to Mars that begins with its first test flight Dec. 4.

To provide more detail on what this first flight entails, NASA will host a preflight briefing at 11 a.m. EST Nov. 6 at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The news conference will be broadcast live on NASA TV and on the agency's website.

The briefing participants are:

  • William Hill, deputy associate administrator for Exploration Systems Development
  • Mark Geyer, Orion Program manager
  • Bryan Austin, Lockheed Martin mission director
  • Mike Sarafin, Orion flight director
  • Jeremy Graeber, recovery director
  • Ron Fortson, United Launch Alliance director of mission management
The assembled Orion crew module, service module, launch abort system and adapter will reside in Kennedy's Launch Abort System Facility until its scheduled rollout to the launch pad, set for Nov. 10. At the launch pad, it will be lifted onto the United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket that will carry it into space for its uncrewed flight test.

"This is just the first of what will be a long line of exploration missions beyond low-Earth orbit, and in a few years, we will be sending our astronauts to destinations humans have never experienced," said Bill Hill, deputy associate administrator for Exploration Systems Development "It's thrilling to be a part of the journey now, at the beginning."

The December flight test will send Orion 3,600 miles from Earth on a two-orbit flight intended to ensure the spacecraft's critical systems are ready for the challenges of deep-space missions.

During the 4.5-hour flight, called Exploration Flight Test-1, Orion will travel farther than any crewed spacecraft has gone in more than 40 years, before returning to Earth at speeds near 20,000 mph and generating temperatures up to 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

For information about Orion and its first flight, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/orion



October 17, 2014

Boeing Concludes Commercial Crew Space Act Agreement for CST-100/Atlas V

Boeing has successfully completed the final milestone of its Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) Space Act Agreement with NASA. The work and testing completed under the agreement resulted in significant maturation of Boeing's crew transportation system, including the CST-100 spacecraft and Atlas V rocket.

NASA in July approved the Critical Design Review Board milestone for Boeing's crew transportation system, confirming the detailed designs and plans for test and evaluation form a satisfactory basis to proceed with full-scale fabrication, assembly, integration and testing. It is the culmination of four years of development work by Boeing beginning when the company partnered with NASA during the first round of agreements to develop commercial crew transportation systems. To get to this point, extensive spacecraft subsystem, systems, and integrated vehicle design work has been performed, along with extensive component and wind tunnel testing.

Boeing is one of eight companies NASA partnered with during the last four years to develop a human-rated transportation system capable of flying people to low-Earth orbit and the International Space Station. NASA's unique approach encouraged companies to invest their own financial resources in the effort and open up a new industry of private space travel. Other current NASA partners Blue Origin, Sierra Nevada Corporation and SpaceX all are deep in development of their own commercial crew transportation systems under separate Space Act Agreements.

NASA's spaceflight specialists from a variety of technical expertise areas not only assisted the companies but also worked closely with them in judging progress and deciding whether milestones in the Space Act Agreements were met.

The partnership with Boeing began in 2010 when NASA selected the company as one of five awardees for the first phase of commercial crew development. NASA's second round of development awards in April 2011 also included Boeing and called for the CST-100 crew transportation system design to be advanced to the preliminary design review point.

The CCiCap initiative, the third phase of development, began in August 2012 when NASA announced an agreement with Boeing totaling $460 million to advance the design of the integrated transportation system. NASA added an optional milestone in 2013, bringing the total level of NASA investment in Boeing for CCiCap to $480 million.

Development work aligned with milestone goals of the initiative, and work took place at numerous locations across the country to take advantage of unique facilities.

Engineering teams tested and modified mission flight software, including launch, docking, on-orbit, and re-entry and landing maneuvers. Teams conducted mission simulations to advance communications and mission operations planning. Models of the CST-100 and the Atlas V launch vehicle were tested in wind tunnels. Launch abort engines and thrusters the spacecraft will use for maneuvering in space were test-fired. Work was done to refine the spacecraft and service module designs and make modifications required for human rating the existing commercially available United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

Ground systems design and operation included launch site modification plans for crews and pad workers. Landing and recovery details also were conceived, reviewed, tested and approved.

All this work ensured Boeing's crew transportation system matured to the verge of flight test article construction.

NASA's goal for the Commercial Crew Program is to facilitate the development of a U.S. commercial crew space transportation capability with the goal of achieving safe, reliable and cost-effective access to and from low-Earth orbit and the International Space Station. The next and final phase of commercial crew development was announced recently with the award of Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contracts to Boeing and SpaceX. With the new contracts, NASA's goal is to certify crew transportation systems in 2017 that will return the ability to launch astronauts from American soil to the International Space Station using privately built spacecraft.

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



October 15, 2014

NASA Soil Moisture Mapper Arrives at Launch Site

A NASA spacecraft designed to track Earth's water in one of its most important, but least recognized forms -- soil moisture -- now is at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, to begin final preparations for launch in January.

The Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) spacecraft arrived Wednesday at its launch site on California's central coast after traveling from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. The spacecraft will undergo final tests and then be integrated on top of a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket in preparation for a planned Jan. 29 launch. A NASA spacecraft designed to track Earth's water in one of its most important, but least recognized forms -- soil moisture -- now is at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, to begin final preparations for launch in January.

The Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) spacecraft arrived Wednesday at its launch site on California's central coast after traveling from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. The spacecraft will undergo final tests and then be integrated on top of a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket in preparation for a planned Jan. 29 launch. SMAP will provide the most accurate, highest-resolution global measurements of soil moisture ever obtained from space and will detect whether the ground is frozen or thawed. The data will be used to enhance scientists' understanding of the processes that link Earth's water, energy and carbon cycles.

Soil moisture is critical for plant growth and supplies aquifers, which are underground water supplies contained in layers of rock, sand or dirt. Through evaporation, water in the soil cools the land surface and lower atmosphere while seeding the upper atmosphere with moisture that forms clouds and rain. High-resolution global maps of soil moisture produced from SMAP will allow scientists to understand how regional water availability is changing and inform water resource management decisions.

"Water is vital for all life on Earth, and the water present in soil is a small but critically important part of Earth's water cycle," said Kent Kellogg, SMAP project manager at JPL. "The delivery of NASA's SMAP spacecraft to Vandenberg Air Force Base marks a final step to bring these unique and valuable measurements to the global science community."

SMAP data also will aid in predictions of plant growth and agricultural productivity, improve weather and climate forecasts, and enhance our ability to predict the extent and severity of droughts and where floods may occur. SMAP's freeze/thaw data will also be used to detect changes in the length of the growing season, which is an indicator of how much carbon plants take up from the atmosphere each year.

Among the users of SMAP data will be hydrologists, weather forecasters, climate scientists, and agricultural and water resource managers. Additional users include fire hazard and flood disaster managers, disease control and prevention managers, emergency planners and policy makers.

To make its high-resolution, high-accuracy measurements, SMAP will combine data from two microwave instruments -- a synthetic aperture radar and a radiometer -- in a way that uses the best features of each. The instruments can peer through clouds and moderate vegetation cover day and night to measure water in the top 2 inches (5 centimeters) of the soil.

SMAP will fly in a 426-mile (685-kilometer) altitude, near-polar, sun-synchronous orbit that crosses the equator near 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. local time. SMAP is designed to operate for at least three years, producing a global map of soil moisture every two to three days.

SMAP is managed for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington by JPL with participation by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland. JPL is responsible for project management, system engineering, instrument management, the radar instrument, mission operations and the ground data system. Goddard is responsible for the radiometer instrument. Both centers collaborate on the science data processing and delivery of science data products to the Alaska Satellite Facility and the National Snow and Ice Data Center for public distribution and archiving. NASA's Launch Services Program at NASA'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 SMAP, visit: http://smap.jpl.nasa.gov

SMAP is planned to be the final of five NASA Earth science missions launched into space in a 12-month period, the most new NASA Earth-observing mission launches in that timespan in more than a decade. 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



October 8, 2014

NASA Partners with X-37B Program for Use of Former Space Shuttle Hangars

NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida has entered into an agreement with the U.S. Air Force's X-37B Program for use of the center's Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF) Bays 1 and 2 to process the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle for launch.

The OPF bays were last used during NASA's Space Shuttle Program. With the agency's transition to the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft, the agency currently does not have a mission requirement for the facilities. This agreement ensures the facilities will again be used for their originally-intended purpose -- processing spacecraft.

"Kennedy is positioning itself for the future, transitioning to a multi-user launch facility for both commercial and government customers, while embarking on NASA's new deep-space exploration plans," said Kennedy Center Director Robert Cabana. "A dynamic infrastructure is taking shape, designed to host many kinds of spacecraft and rockets."

In addition to vehicle preparation for launch, the X-37B Program conducted testing at Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility to demonstrate that landing the vehicle at the former shuttle runway is a technically feasible option.

The Boeing Company is performing construction upgrades in the OPFs on behalf of the X-37B Program. These upgrades are targeted to be complete in December.

For more information on partnering with NASA's Kennedy Space Center, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy/business/index.html



October 2, 2014

Groundbreaking for New Kennedy Space Center Headquarters

There will be a groundbreaking ceremony for the new NASA Kennedy Space Center headquarters building on Tuesday, Oct. 7.

The new headquarters building will be the keystone to the Central Campus makeover and will take place in several phases. Headquarters will be a seven-story, 200,000-square-foot structure that will consolidate all shared services and administrative office functions and will be located north and east of the current headquarters building.

The ceremony will be hosted by Kennedy director Bob Cabana and representatives from companies involved in the project, Kurt Hazen from Hensel Phelps and Steve Belflower from Hunton Brady.



October 1, 2014

NASA's Orion Spacecraft, Rocket Move Closer to First Flight

NASA's new Orion spacecraft and the Delta IV Heavy rocket that will carry it into space are at their penultimate stops in Florida on their path to a December flight test.

Orion was moved Sunday out of the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida and the Delta IV Heavy rocket, built by United Launch Alliance, made its move Tuesday night, to nearby Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. It was raised Wednesday from the horizontal position into its vertical launch configuration.

"We've been working toward this launch for months, and we're in the final stretch," said Kennedy Director Bob Cabana. "Orion is almost complete and the rocket that will send it into space is on the launch pad. We're 64 days away from taking the next step in deep-space exploration."

Orion now is ready for the installation of its last component -- the launch abort system. This system is designed to protect astronauts if a problem arises during launch by pulling the spacecraft away from the failing rocket. During the December, uncrewed flight, the jettison motor, which separates the launch abort system from the crew module in both normal operations and in an emergency, will be tested.

Once the launch abort system is stacked on the completed crew and service modules, and the three systems are tested together, the Orion spacecraft will be considered complete. It then will wait inside the launch abort system facility until mid-November, when the Delta IV Heavy rocket is ready for integration with the spacecraft.

The rocket's three Common Booster Cores were tested, processed and attached to each other to form the first stage that will connect to Orion's service module.

Following its targeted Dec. 4 launch, the Delta IV Heavy will send Orion 3,600 miles above Earth to test the spacecraft's systems most critical to crew safety. After orbiting Earth twice, Orion will re-enter Earth's atmosphere at 20,000 miles per hour, generating temperatures near 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit, before it splashes down in the Pacific Ocean.

Orion is being built to send humans farther than ever before, including to an asteroid and Mars. Although the spacecraft will be uncrewed during its December flight, which is designated Exploration Flight Test-1, the crew module will be used to transport astronauts safely to and from space on future missions. Orion will provide living quarters for up to 21 days, while longer missions will incorporate an additional habitat to provide extra space.

For information about Orion and its first flight, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/orion


September 25, 2014

NASA Awards Agencywide Helium Contract

NASA has awarded an agencywide multiple award contract to Air Products and Chemicals Inc. of Allentown, Pennsylvania, and Linde LLC of Murray Hill, New Jersey, consolidating the agency's requirements for 10.2 million liters of liquid helium and 128.6 million cubic feet of gaseous helium to support operations at 13 NASA locations.

Air Products and Chemicals Inc. supply helium to the agency's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland and Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This firm-fixed price contract begins Oct. 1 and has a maximum value of $28.8 million, with a potential performance period of five years.

Linde LLC will supply helium to NASA's Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility in Palestine, Texas; Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland; Johnson Space Center in Houston; Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California; Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans; Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama; Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California; Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia; Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California; White Sands Test Facility in Las Cruces, New Mexico; and Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

This firm-fixed price contract begins Oct. 1 and has a maximum value of $14.8 million, with a potential performance period of five years.

Helium is used throughout NASA as a cryogenic agent for cooling various materials and in precision welding applications, as well as lab use. Helium also is used as an inert purge gas for hydrogen systems and as a pressurizing agent for ground and flight fluid systems of space vehicles.

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


September 21, 2014

NASA Cargo Launches to Space Station Aboard SpaceX Resupply Mission

About 5,000 pounds of NASA science investigations and cargo are on their way to the International Space Station aboard SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft. The cargo ship launched on the company's Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 1:52 a.m. EDT Sunday, Sept. 21.

The mission is the company's fourth cargo delivery flight to the space station through a $1.6 billion NASA Commercial Resupply Services contract. Dragon's cargo will support experiments to be conducted by the crews of space station Expeditions 41 and 42.

One of the new Earth science investigations heading to the orbital laboratory is the International Space Station-Rapid Scatterometer. ISS-RapidScat monitors ocean winds from the vantage point of the space station. This space-based scatterometer is a remote sensing instrument that uses radar pulses reflected from the ocean's surface from different angles to calculate surface wind speed and direction. This information will be useful for weather forecasting and hurricane monitoring.

Dragon also will deliver the first-ever 3-D printer in space. The technology enables parts to be manufactured quickly and cheaply in space, instead of waiting for the next cargo resupply vehicle delivery. The research team also will gain valuable insight into improving 3-D printing technology on Earth by demonstrating it in microgravity.

New biomedical hardware launched aboard the spacecraft will help facilitate prolonged biological studies in microgravity. The Rodent Research Hardware and Operations Validation (Rodent Research-1) investigation provides a platform for long-duration rodent experiments in space. These investigations examine how microgravity affects animals, providing information relevant to human spaceflight, discoveries in basic biology and knowledge that may have direct impact toward human health on Earth.

The Dragon spacecraft also will transport other biological research, include a new plant study. The Biological Research in Canisters (BRIC) hardware has supported a variety of plant growth experiments aboard the space station. The BRIC-19 investigation will focus on the growth and development in microgravity of Arabidopsis thaliana seedlings, a small flowering plant related to cabbage. Because plant development on Earth is impacted by mechanical forces such as wind or a plant's own weight, researchers hope to improve understanding of how the growth responses of plants are altered by the absence of these forces when grown in microgravity.

Dragon is scheduled to be grappled at 7:04 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 23, by Expedition 41 Flight Engineer Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency, using the space station's robotic arm to take hold of the spacecraft. NASA's Reid Wiseman will support Gerst in a backup position. Dragon is scheduled to depart the space station in mid-October for a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean, west of Baja California, bringing from the space station almost 3,200 pounds of science, hardware and crew supplies.

The space station is a convergence of science, technology and human innovation that demonstrates new technologies and makes research breakthroughs not possible on Earth. NASA recently awarded contracts to SpaceX and The Boeing Company to transport U.S. crews to and from the space station with the goal of certifying those transportation systems in 2017.

For more information about SpaceX's fourth cargo resupply 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



September 16, 2014

NASA Chooses American Companies to Transport U.S. Astronauts to International Space Station Selection

Selection Will Return Launches to America

U.S. astronauts once again will travel to and from the International Space Station from the United States on American spacecraft under groundbreaking contracts NASA announced Tuesday. The agency unveiled its selection of Boeing and SpaceX to transport U.S. crews to and from the space station using their CST-100 and Crew Dragon spacecraft, respectively, with a goal of ending the nation's sole reliance on Russia in 2017.

"From day one, the Obama Administration made clear that the greatest nation on Earth should not be dependent on other nations to get into space," NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden said at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. "Thanks to the leadership of President Obama, the hard work of our NASA and industry teams, and support from Congress, today we are one step closer to launching our astronauts from U.S. soil on American spacecraft and ending the nation's sole reliance on Russia by 2017. Turning over low-Earth orbit transportation to private industry will also allow NASA to focus on an even more ambitious mission – sending humans to Mars."

These Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contracts are designed to complete the NASA certification for human space transportation systems capable of carrying people into orbit. Once certification is complete, NASA plans to use these systems to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station and return them safely to Earth.

The companies selected to provide this transportation capability and the maximum potential value of their FAR-based firm fixed-price contracts are:

  • The Boeing Company, Houston, $4.2 billion
  • Space Exploration Technologies Corp., Hawthorne, California, $2.6 billion
The contracts include at least one crewed flight test per company with at least one NASA astronaut aboard 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 its systems perform as expected. Once each company's test program has been completed successfully and its system achieves NASA certification, each contractor will conduct at least two, and as many as six, crewed missions to the space station. These spacecraft also will serve as a lifeboat for astronauts aboard the station.

NASA's Commercial Crew Program will implement this capability as a public-private partnership with the American aerospace companies. NASA's expert team of engineers and spaceflight specialists is facilitating and certifying the development work of industry partners to ensure new spacecraft are safe and reliable.

The U.S. missions to the International Space Station following certification will allow the station's current crew of six to grow, enabling the crew to conduct more research aboard the unique microgravity laboratory.

"We are excited to see our industry partners close in on operational flights to the International Space Station, an extraordinary feat industry and the NASA family began just four years ago," said Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA's Commercial Crew Program. "This space agency has long been a technology innovator, and now we also can say we are an American business innovator, spurring job creation and opening up new markets to the private sector. The agency and our partners have many important steps to finish, but we have shown we can do the tough work required and excel in ways few would dare to hope."

The companies will own and operate the crew transportation systems and be able to sell human space transportation services to other customers in addition to NASA, thereby reducing the costs for all customers.

By encouraging private companies to handle launches to low-Earth orbit -- a region NASA's been visiting since 1962 -- the nation's space agency can focus on getting the most research and experience out of America's investment in the International Space Station. NASA also can focus on building spacecraft and rockets for deep space missions, including flights to Mars.

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



September 16, 2014

NASA to Make Major Announcement Today About Astronaut Transport to the International Space Station

Launch America - Commercial crew transportation - logo

NASA will make a major announcement today at 4 p.m. EDT regarding the return of human spaceflight launches to the United States. The agency will make the announcement during a news conference from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The event will be broadcast live on NASA Television and the agency's website.

A brief question-and-answer session will take place during the event.

News conference participants at Kennedy are:

  • NASA Administrator Charles Bolden
  • Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana
  • Commercial Crew Program Manager Kathy Lueders
  • Astronaut and former ISS Expedition crew member Mike Fincke
The teleconference will be streamed live on NASA's website at: http://www.nasa.gov/newsaudio
For NASA TV downlink information, schedules and links to the 4 p.m. streaming video of the announcement, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv
For continuous coverage of the announcement and NASA's Commercial Crew Program throughout the development, visit: http://Blogs.nasa.gov/commercialcrew
For more information about NASA's Commercial Crew Program and CCtCap, visit http://www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew



September 11, 2014

NASA's Orion Spacecraft Nears Completion, Ready for Fueling

NASA is making steady progress on its Orion spacecraft, completing several milestones this week at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida in preparation for the capsule's first trip to space in December.

Engineers finished building the Orion crew module, attached it and the already-completed service module to the adapter that will join Orion to its rocket and transported the spacecraft to a new facility for fueling.

"Nothing about building the first of a brand new space transportation system is easy," said Mark Geyer, Orion Program manager. "But the crew module is undoubtedly the most complex component that will fly in December. The pressure vessel, the heat shield, parachute system, avionics -- piecing all of that together into a working spacecraft is an accomplishment. Seeing it fly in three months is going to be amazing."

Finishing the Orion crew module marks the completion of all major components of the spacecraft. The other two major elements -- the inert service module and the launch abort system -- were completed in January and December, respectively. The crew module was attached to the service module in June to allow for testing before the finishing touches were put on the crew module.

The adapter that will connect Orion to the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Heavy rocket was built by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. It is being tested for use on the agency's Space Launch System rocket for future deep space missions.

NASA, Orion's prime contractor Lockheed Martin, and ULA managers oversaw the move of the spacecraft Thursday from the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building to the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at Kennedy, where it will be fueled with ammonia and hyper-propellants for its flight test. Once fueling is complete, the launch abort system will be attached. At that point, the spacecraft will be complete and ready to stack on the Delta IV Heavy.

Orion is being built to send humans farther than ever before, including to an asteroid and Mars. Although the spacecraft will be uncrewed during its December flight test, the crew module will be used to transport astronauts safely to and from space on future missions. Orion will provide living quarters for up to 21 days, while longer missions will incorporate an additional habitat to provide extra space. Many of Orion's critical safety systems will be evaluated during December's mission, designated Exploration Flight Test-1, when the spacecraft travels about 3,600 miles into space.

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


August 27, 2014

New NASA App Encourages Kids to Play Along In Adventure of Rocketry

The fun and learning experiences of preparing a rocket and spacecraft for launch are not limited to the engineers and technicians in special suits thanks to a new digital activity book available for the iPad.

NASA's Launch Services Program (LSP), based at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, specializes in preparing rockets and their complex scientific payloads for missions that sometimes take them far out into the solar system.

That sense of long-distance adventure with a touch of precision inspires all the activities in this app. Peter the Payload guides participants through 24 pictures to color and many other activities such as Word Search, Asteroid Maze, Solar System Match and Planet Crossword. Drawing options throughout the app include more than a dozen colors and are adaptable to young participants but also include the freestyle options for markers and crayons that older children crave as they express themselves.

There is even a space-related recipe to take care of the appetite built up during all the fun!

Successful completions of some activities are met with cheers and congratulations, too, to keep kids coming back.

Participants will be able to get a certificate of achievement for completing the mission.

The application was developed by the Kennedy Information Technology Mobile Team in conjunction with LSP. The LSP Activity Book is available for iPad users via iTunes at: http://go.nasa.gov/1sx0Em8

It also is available on GooglePlay at: http://go.nasa.gov/1AVzKJF

Online, find the LSP Activity Book at: http://go.nasa.gov/X4eFNP

For additional educational resources and learning activities, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/1y95yGD


August 25, 2014

NASA Awards Contract Option on Test and Operations Support Contract

NASA has exercised the first option to extend the period of performance of its Test and Operations Support Contract (TOSC) with Jacobs Technology Inc. of Tullahoma, Tennessee, to Sept. 30, 2016. Jacobs Technology Inc. will provide continued overall management and implementation of ground systems capabilities, flight hardware processing and launch operations in support of the International Space Station, Ground Systems Development and Operations, Space Launch System and Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle Programs, as well as select support services for the Launch Services Program at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The cost-plus-award-fee option was exercised Aug. 21 at a value of $172.8 million for the baseline work with a performance period of two years. The contract's indefinite-delivery indefinite-quantity ordering provision, valued up to $500 million for the life of the contract, also was extended for a concurrent two-year period.

Jacobs Technology Inc. will provide ground processing for launch vehicles, spacecraft and payloads in support of emerging programs, commercial entities and other government agencies as designated by the government. Services include advanced planning and special studies; development of designated ground systems; operational support for design and development of flight hardware and ground systems; spacecraft, payload and launch vehicle servicing and processing; ground systems services; and logistics and other processing support services at Kennedy.

Kennedy Space Center is transforming to a multi-user spaceport to support both government and commercial customers. The center is looking toward the future. A dynamic infrastructure is taking shape, designed to host many kinds of spacecraft and rockets sending people on America's next adventures in space – to an asteroid, to Mars and to other destinations in the solar system.

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


August 21, 2014

NASA and Commercial Partners Review Summer of Advancements

NASA's spaceflight experts in the Commercial Crew Program (CCP) met throughout July with aerospace partners to review increasingly advanced designs, elements and systems of the spacecraft and launch vehicles under development as part of the space agency's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) and Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2) initiatives.

Blue Origin, The Boeing Co., Sierra Nevada Corporation and SpaceX are partners with NASA in these initiatives to develop a new generation of safe, reliable, and cost-effective crew space transportation systems to low-Earth orbit. Company engineering representatives meet regularly with NASA engineers and specialists to survey advancements. As progress is checked off, larger, more formal reviews are conducted to show the achievement of milestones in system development. Each of the reviews also addresses points brought up in prior sessions and ends with areas to look into before the next session is held.

"These discussions capitalize on all the aspects of working as partners instead of working solely as a customer and supplier," said Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA's Commercial Crew Program. "The partners are innovative in a number of developmental areas. We have a set of detailed criteria drawn up so we can adequately evaluate what they are doing and they can tell us where adjustments fit in with their system's overall success. It's exactly what we had in mind when we kicked off this effort four years ago."

The next milestone for Blue Origin will be a subsystem interim design review that will assess the progress of the company's Space Vehicle design.

Development of the Boeing CST-100 continued throughout July with two milestone reviews conducted. The spacecraft phase two safety review demonstrated the CST-100 design follows the NASA safety analysis process, including documenting spacecraft hazard reports. The integrated critical design review demonstrated the design maturity of the integrated spacecraft, launch vehicle and ground systems are at their appropriate points.

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), which is working on the Dream Chaser lifting-body spacecraft, is expected to complete the review of its fifth design cycle in the coming weeks. The company also completed a review of the engineering test article with CCP and NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center specialists ahead of its second free-flight test later this year. SNC continues to vacuum test its reaction control system ahead of its incremental milestone test review.

SpaceX will conduct a critical design review of its ground systems and mission and crew operations plans toward the end of August as it advances Dragon V2 through development. The company also is coming up on the primary structure qualification for the Dragon V2, which is a more advanced version of the cargo-only spacecraft SpaceX uses to transport supplies to the International Space Station.

In August or September, NASA plans to award one or more contracts that will provide the agency with commercial services to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station by the end of 2017.

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


August 6, 2014

NASA, Navy Prepare for Orion Spacecraft to Make a Splash

A team of technicians, engineers, sailors and divers just wrapped up a successful week of testing and preparing for various scenarios that could play out when NASA's new Orion spacecraft splashes into the Pacific Ocean following its first space flight test in December.

After enduring the extreme environment of space, Orion will blaze back through Earth's atmosphere at speeds near 20,000 mph and temperatures approaching 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Its inaugural journey will end in the Pacific, off the Southern California coast, where a U.S. Navy ship will be waiting to retrieve it and return it to shore.

"We learned a lot about our hardware, gathered good data, and the test objectives were achieved," said Mike Generale, NASA recovery operations manager in the Ground Systems Development and Operations Program. "We were able to put Orion out to sea and safely bring it back multiple times. We are ready to move on to the next step of our testing with a full dress rehearsal landing simulation on the next test."

NASA and Orion prime contractor Lockheed Martin teamed up with the U.S. Navy and the Defense Department's Human Space Flight Support Detachment 3 to try different techniques for recovering the 20,500-pound spacecraft safely during this second "underway recovery test." To address some of the lessons learned from the first recovery test in February, the team brought new hardware to test and tested a secondary recovery method that employs an onboard crane to recover Orion, as an alternative to using the well deck recovery method, which involves the spacecraft being winched into a flooded portion of the naval vessel.

"Anchorage provided a unique, validated capability to support NASA's request for operational support without adversely impacting the Navy's primary warfighting mission," said Cmdr. Joel Stewart, commanding officer of the Navy vessel. "This unique mission gave Anchorage sailors an opportunity to hone their skills for the routine missions of recovering vehicles in the well deck and operating rigid-hulled inflatable boats in the open water while supporting NASA. The testing with NASA was a success and Anchorage sailors continue to raise the bar, completing missions above and beyond any expectations."

Learn more about Orion at: http://www.nasa.gov/orion

Learn more about NASA's Ground Systems Development and Operations Program at: http://go.nasa.gov/groundsystems


July 22, 2014

NASA Partners Punctuate Summer with Spacecraft Development Advances

Spacecraft and rocket development is on pace this summer for NASA's aerospace industry partners for the agency's Commercial Crew Program as they progress through systems testing, review boards and quarterly sessions under their Space Act Agreements with the agency.

NASA engineers and specialists continue their review of the progress as the agency and partners move ahead with plans to develop the first American spacecraft designed to carry people into space since the space shuttle.

"Our partners are making great progress as they refine their systems for safe, reliable and cost-effective spaceflight," said Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA's Commercial Crew Program. "It is extremely impressive to hear and see the interchange between the company and NASA engineering teams as they delve into the very details of the systems that help assure the safety of passengers."

The next milestone for Blue Origin will be a subsystem interim design review that will assess the progress of the company's Space Vehicle design.

The Boeing Company, which is designing the CST-100 spacecraft, has two reviews later this summer. A full critical design review (CDR) will examine the detailed plans for the spacecraft, launch vehicle and a host of ground support, processing and operations designs. The second review will come soon after -- the Spacecraft Safety Review is designed to show the design of the spacecraft and its systems are in line with Boeing's CDR-level design.

Sierra Nevada Corporation completed risk reduction testing on the flight crew systems in development for its Dream Chaser spacecraft. The team evaluated crew ingress and egress using the full-scale mockup of the Dream Chaser pressurized cabin, as well as the visibility from inside the cockpit, controls and displays, and seat loading. The company reviewed tests conducted on the thermal protection system for its spacecraft as well as the composite structure, life support system and thermal control systems. Later this summer, the reaction control system will undergo an incremental test to further its design.

SpaceX currently is completing a qualification test milestone for the primary structure of its Dragon spacecraft. Following this milestone, the company, which is using its own Falcon 9 launch vehicle, will outline its ground systems, crew and mission operations plans in an operational review that will put the company's processes through a rigorous examination.

Later this year, NASA plans to award one or more contracts that will provide the agency with commercial services to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station by the end of 2017.

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


July 17, 2014

NASA Awards Construction Contract at Kennedy Space Center

NASA has awarded a two-year contract to Hensel Phelps Construction Co. of Orlando to build a new multi-story headquarters building at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The maximum value of this firm fixed-price contract is $64,823,000, including base work and five awarded options. The contract award begins Thursday.

The new headquarters building is the cornerstone for Kennedy's central campus consolidation. The campus construction will enable demolition of approximately 900,000 square feet of buildings and supporting infrastructure in what is known as the Kennedy Industrial Area, while rebuilding only about 450,000 square feet. Kennedy will save an estimated $400 million during the next 40 years because of the 50 percent reduction in square footage and the lower operation and maintenance costs associated with the new energy-efficient facilities.

Hensel Phelps will provide all the construction and installation of required civil, structural, electrical, plumbing, environmental, mechanical, fire suppression, and communication infrastructure. Under the five options, the company will remove U-Shaped Pre-Cast Panel and Pre-Cast, add additional landscaping, add seven dual-station electric vehicle battery charge stations in parking areas, provide LED light fixtures instead of fluorescent and compact light fixtures, and upgrade the 800-kw emergency generator environmental rating from tier 2 to tier 4 and provide future utility system interconnection capability.

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


July 14, 2014

NASA Updates Time for Facility Renaming Ceremony in Honor of Neil Armstrong

NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida is changing the time for the renaming of the Operations and Checkout Building to the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building in honor of the legendary astronaut and first man to set foot on the moon, Neil Armstrong. The ceremony will take place at 10:15 a.m. EDT, Monday, July 21.

The event will include remarks from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Kennedy Center Director Robert Cabana, and Apollo 11 crew members, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin.

The ceremony will be carried live on NASA Television and the agency's website.

Sunday, July 20, is the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 crew's moon landing in 1969.

The Operations and Checkout Building was built in 1964 and previously was known as the Manned Spacecraft Operations Building. The facility has played a vital role in NASA's spaceflight history. The high bay was used during the Apollo program to process and test the command, service and lunar modules. The facility is being used today to process and assemble NASA's Orion spacecraft as the agency prepares to embark on the next giant leap in space exploration, sending astronauts to an asteroid and Mars.

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

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


July 8, 2014

NASA Awards CubeSat Hardware and Integration Services Contract

NASA has selected five companies to provide commercial CubeSat hardware and integration services with associated special task assignments covering a five-year ordering period between 2014 and 2018.

The five companies are 406 Aerospace LLC of Bozeman, Montana; Applied Technology Associations of Albuquerque, New Mexico; Spaceflight Inc. of Tukwila, Washington; TriSept Corp. of Chantilly, Virginia; and Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems LLC of Irvine, California. Each were awarded a firm fixed-price indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract. The total potential value of the combined contracts is $9.5 million dollars, if the maximum amount of work is ordered.

All contractors will provide all services, facilities, and resources necessary to support this work effort for the task orders they are awarded.

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

For more information about the Launch Services Program, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/lspeducation


July 7, 2014

NASA Renaming Ceremony in Honor of Neil Armstrong

NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida is renaming one of its iconic facilities in honor of legendary astronaut and the first person to set foot on the moon, Neil Armstrong.

The event will include remarks from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Kennedy Center Director Robert Cabana and Apollo 11 crew members Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin.

The ceremony will be carried live on NASA Television and the agency's website at 9:00am.

July 20 is the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 crew's moon landing in 1969.

The Operations and Checkout Building was built in 1964 and previously was known as the Manned Spacecraft Operations Building. The facility has played a vital role in NASA's spaceflight history. The high bay was used during the Apollo program to process and test the command, service and lunar modules. The facility is being used today to process and assemble NASA's Orion spacecraft as the agency prepares to embark on the next giant leap in space exploration, sending astronauts to an asteroid and Mars.

For more information on NASA's future human exploration plans, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/exploration

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


July 2, 2014

NASA Launches New Carbon-Sensing Mission to Monitor Earth's Breathing

NASA successfully launched its first spacecraft dedicated to studying atmospheric carbon dioxide at 2:56 a.m. PDT (5:56 a.m. EDT) Wednesday.

The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) raced skyward from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, on a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket. Approximately 56 minutes after the launch, the observatory separated from the rocket's second stage into an initial 429-mile (690-kilometer) orbit. The spacecraft then performed a series of activation procedures, established communications with ground controllers and unfurled its twin sets of solar arrays. Initial telemetry shows the spacecraft is in excellent condition.

OCO-2 soon will begin a minimum two-year mission to locate Earth's sources of and storage places for atmospheric carbon dioxide, the leading human-produced greenhouse gas responsible for warming our world and a critical component of the planet's carbon cycle.

"Climate change is the challenge of our generation," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "With OCO-2 and our existing fleet of satellites, NASA is uniquely qualified to take on the challenge of documenting and understanding these changes, predicting the ramifications, and sharing information about these changes for the benefit of society."

OCO-2 will take NASA's studies of carbon dioxide and the global carbon cycle to new heights. The mission will produce the most detailed picture to date of natural sources of carbon dioxide, as well as their "sinks" -- places on Earth's surface where carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere. The observatory will study how these sources and sinks are distributed around the globe and how they change over time.

"This challenging mission is both timely and important," said Michael Freilich, director of the Earth Science Division of NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. "OCO-2 will produce exquisitely precise measurements of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations near Earth's surface, laying the foundation for informed policy decisions on how to adapt to and reduce future climate change."

Carbon dioxide sinks are at the heart of a longstanding scientific puzzle that has made it difficult for scientists to accurately predict how carbon dioxide levels will change in the future and how those changing concentrations will affect Earth's climate.

"Scientists currently don't know exactly where and how Earth's oceans and plants have absorbed more than half the carbon dioxide that human activities have emitted into our atmosphere since the beginning of the industrial era," said David Crisp, OCO-2 science team leader at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. "Because of this we cannot predict precisely how these processes will operate in the future as climate changes. For society to better manage carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere, we need to be able to measure the natural source and sink processes." Precise measurements of the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide are needed because background levels vary by less than two percent on regional to continental scales. Typical changes can be as small as one-third of one percent. OCO-2 measurements are designed to measure these small changes clearly.

During the next 10 days, the spacecraft will go through a checkout process and then begin three weeks of maneuvers that will place it in its final 438-mile (705-kilometer), near-polar operational orbit at the head of the international Afternoon Constellation, or "A-Train," of Earth-observing satellites. The A-Train, the first multi-satellite, formation flying "super observatory" to record the health of Earth's atmosphere and surface environment, collects an unprecedented quantity of nearly simultaneous climate and weather measurements.

OCO-2 science operations will begin about 45 days after launch. Scientists expect to begin archiving calibrated mission data in about six months and plan to release their first initial estimates of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations in early 2015.

The observatory will uniformly sample the atmosphere above Earth's land and waters, collecting more than 100,000 precise individual measurements of carbon dioxide over Earth's entire sunlit hemisphere every day. Scientists will use these data in computer models to generate maps of carbon dioxide emission and uptake at Earth's surface on scales comparable in size to the state of Colorado. These regional-scale maps will provide new tools for locating and identifying carbon dioxide sources and sinks.

OCO-2 also will measure a phenomenon called solar-induced fluorescence, an indicator of plant growth and health. As plants photosynthesize and take up carbon dioxide, they fluoresce and give off a tiny amount of light that is invisible to the naked eye. Because more photosynthesis translates into more fluorescence, fluorescence data from OCO-2 will help shed new light on the uptake of carbon dioxide by plants.

OCO-2 is a NASA Earth System Science Pathfinder Program mission managed by JPL for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Orbital Sciences Corporation in Dulles, Virginia, built the spacecraft bus and provides mission operations under JPL's leadership. The science instrument was built by JPL, based on the instrument design co-developed for the original OCO mission by Hamilton Sundstrand in Pomona, California. NASA's Launch Services Program at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida is responsible for launch management. Communications during all phases of the mission are provided by NASA's Near Earth Network, with contingency support from the Space Network. Both are divisions of the Space Communications and Navigation program at NASA Headquarters. JPL is managed for NASA by the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

For more information about OCO-2, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/oco2

OCO-2 is the second of five NASA Earth science missions scheduled to launch into space this year, the most new Earth-observing mission launches in one year in more than a decade. 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 in 2014, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/earthrightnow
Follow OCO-2 on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/IamOCO2


July 1, 2014

Launch of NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 Rescheduled for July 2

The launch of NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket is scheduled for Wednesday, July 2 at 5:56 a.m. EDT (2:56 a.m. PDT) from Space Launch Complex 2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The launch team has completed troubleshooting of the launch pad water suppression system that resulted in the scrub of the launch attempt Tuesday. A valve that is part of the pulse suppression water system, which had operated properly during tests shortly before the launch countdown, failed to function properly during the final minutes of the launch attempt. The failed valve has been replaced with a spare, and the system is being tested in preparation for Wednesday's launch attempt.

The OCO-2 mission will produce the most detailed picture to date of natural sources of carbon dioxide, as well as their "sinks" -- places on Earth's surface where carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere. The observatory will study how these sources and sinks are distributed around the globe and how they change over time.

The launch weather forecast is unchanged with a 100 percent chance of favorable conditions at liftoff, which is targeted for 5:56:23 EDT (2:56:23 PDT) at the opening of a 30-second launch window.

NASA Television coverage will begin at 3:45 a.m. EDT (12:45 a.m. PDT) Wednesday. For NASA TV downlink and schedule information and streaming video, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, is responsible for project management of OCO-2. Orbital Sciences Corp., built the OCO-2 spacecraft. NASA's Launch Services Program at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida provides launch management. United Launch Alliance of Centennial, Colorado, is NASA's launch service provider for the Delta II rocket.

For more information about OCO-2, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/oco2


June 30, 2014

NASA Awards Launch Complex 39B Refurbishment Contract for Kennedy

NASA has awarded a contract to Precision Mechanical Inc. of Cocoa, Florida, to refurbish the Environmental Control System at Launch Complex 39B at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The firm-fixed price contract with two options was awarded June 30 and has a maximum value of $11.23 million with a performance period of 412 days.

Precision Mechanical Inc. shall furnish all labor, equipment, materials and related activities necessary for the refurbishment/replacement of the Environmental Control System (ECS) at KSC Building J7-337, better known as Launch Complex (LC) 39B. The completed ECS will provide conditioned clean purge air to various compartments of the new Space Launch System (SLS) vehicle. The refurbishment/replacement includes the following components: chillers, large volume blowers, high-pressure ducts, piping, industrial process PLC-based controls, humidifiers and boilers, and associated electrical equipment. All cooling tower equipment including fill, fans, gear boxes, pumps, valves, piping, grating and handrails will be replaced and the concrete structure repaired/refurbished.

The project also will include two options for the installation of four additional compartment purge circuits and appurtenances from the main distribution plenum to above the pad surface and the replacement of existing post-cooling coils for three cooling chambers.

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


June 30, 2014

NASA's Commercial Crew Partners Focus on Testing, Analysis to Advance Designs

NASA's aerospace industry partners are taking their designs and operational plans for the agency's Commercial Crew Program (CCP) through a series of comprehensive tests, evaluations and review boards this summer as they move through important milestones – all with an eye on launching people into orbit from American soil by 2017.

To meet milestones established in Space Act Agreements with NASA, the companies are completing specific assessments such as materials stress tests, engine firings and analysis, and system tests. The companies' engineers use data gathered from these tests to refine the design, then NASA's team uses the data to ensure the tests satisfy milestone objectives that provide confidence a spacecraft system or program is progressing toward its goals.

"A vast array of testing and work goes into even the smallest subsystem of a spacecraft, so getting to the point where our partners evaluate integrated spacecraft, launch systems and operation details is a massive achievement for our partners," said Kathy Lueders, program manager for CCP.

Blue Origin continues to make steady progress in the development of its Space Vehicle as the company moves toward an interim design review of the spacecraft's subsystems.

The Boeing Company is preparing for a critical design review that will determine whether the integrated design, systems, software and operations plans for its CST-100 spacecraft are ready for the production of models for extensive testing that simulates the demands of space travel.

In May, Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) tested the main propulsion and reaction control systems (RCS) of its Dream Chaser spacecraft to advance its design to a production version. SNC is preparing to perform additional RCS vacuum environment tests, simulating flight-like conditions that will enable the company to further examine and certify system performance.

SpaceX is preparing to test the structural integrity of its Dragon spacecraft to verify it will stand up to the forces and stresses exerted on it during launch, while in orbit and through re-entry into Earth's atmosphere.

Milestones achieved by NASA's CCP partners continue to advance commercial spacecraft and transportation systems from design to reality. The successes of NASA and American aerospace companies are ushering in a new generation of space transportation capabilities, which will enable new opportunities for people to live and work in space.

Later this year, NASA plans to award one or more Commercial Crew contracts that will provide the agency with commercial services to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station by the end of 2017.

For more information about NASA's Commercial Crew Program and its aerospace industry partners, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew


June 19, 2014

NASA Invites Public Comment on Mars 2020 Draft Environmental Impact Statement

NASA is requesting the public and interested organizations to review and comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the agency's proposed Mars 2020 mission. The comment period runs through July 21.

During the comment period, NASA will host an online public meeting from 1-3 p.m. EDT Thursday, June 26, at: https://ac.arc.nasa.gov/mars2020

The meeting site will be accessible to participants at 12:45 p.m. EDT. The meeting will include briefings about the proposed mission, its power source options, and the findings of the DEIS. A question-and-answer session and an open period for the public to submit live written comments will follow. Advance registration for the meeting is not required.

The DEIS addresses the potential environmental impacts associated with carrying out the Mars 2020 mission, a continuation of NASA's in-depth exploration of the planet. The mission would include a mobile science rover based closely on the design of the Curiosity rover, which was launched in November 2011 and is operating successfully on Mars.

The mission is planned to launch in July or August 2020 from Florida on an expendable launch vehicle.

NASA will consider all received comments in the development of its Mars 2020 Final Environmental Impact Statement and comments received, and responses to these comments, will be included in the final document.

The DEIS, background material on the proposed mission, and instructions on how to submit comments on the DEIS are available at: http://www.nasa.gov/agency/nepa/mars2020eis

After the conclusion of the virtual public meeting, an on-demand replay of the event also will be available at the above link. Additional information on NASA's National Environmental Policy Act process and the proposed Mars 2020 mission can be found at: http://www.nasa.gov/agency/nepa/ and http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/mars2020/


June 16, 2014

NASA Awards Liquid Nitrogen and Liquid Oxygen Contract to PRAXAIR Inc.

NASA has awarded a contract to PRAXAIR Inc. of Danbury, Connecticut, to supply liquid nitrogen and liquid oxygen to NASA's Ames Research Center, California, and Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The firm-fixed price contract with an Economic Price Adjustment begins July 1. It has a maximum value of $5.3 million with a potential performance period of five years.

PRAXAIR Inc. will supply approximately 175,000 liters of liquid nitrogen and approximately 52,400 tons of liquid oxygen to support operations at the aforementioned NASA centers and partner facilities. Nitrogen is used by the agency for pneumatic actuation, purging and inerting, pressurization, and for its cooling value. Oxygen is used as an oxidizer in cryogenic rocket engines.

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


June 16, 2014

NASA Awards Liquid Nitrogen and Liquid Oxygen Contract to Linde LLC

NASA has awarded a contract to Linde LLC of Murray Hill, New Jersey, to supply liquid nitrogen and liquid oxygen to NASA's Glenn Research Center, Ohio; Goddard Space Flight Center, Maryland; Johnson Space Center, Texas; Stennis Space Center, Mississippi; Michoud Assembly Facility, Louisiana,;and Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama.

The firm-fixed price contract with an Economic Price Adjustment begins July 1. It has a maximum value of $23 million with a potential performance period of five years.

Linde LLC will supply approximately 361,176 tons of liquid nitrogen and approximately 64,000 tons of liquid oxygen to support operations at the aforementioned NASA centers and facilities. Nitrogen is used by the agency for pneumatic actuation, purging and inerting, pressurization, and for its cooling value. Oxygen is used as an oxidizer in cryogenic rocket engines.

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


June 16, 2014

NASA Awards Liquid Nitrogen and Liquid Oxygen Contract to Air Products and Chemicals Inc.

NASA has awarded a contract to Air Products and Chemicals Inc. of Allentown, Pennsylvania, to supply liquid nitrogen and liquid oxygen to NASA's Ames Research Center, California; Glenn Research Center, Ohio; and Marshall Space Center, Alabama.

The firm-fixed price contract with an Economic Price Adjustment begins July 1. It has a maximum value of $10.5 million with a potential performance period of five years.

Air Products and Chemicals Inc. will supply approximately 150,690 tons of liquid nitrogen and approximately 600 tons of liquid oxygen to support operations at the aforementioned NASA centers. Nitrogen is used by the agency for pneumatic actuation, purging and inerting, pressurization, and for its cooling value. Oxygen is used as an oxidizer in cryogenic rocket engines.

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


June 16, 2014

NASA's OCO-2 Observatory Ready for Launch

The launch of NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 mission (OCO-2) at Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) in California, is scheduled for Tuesday, July 1. Liftoff from Space Launch Complex 2 aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket is targeted for 2:56 a.m. PDT (5:56 a.m. EDT) at the opening of a 30-second launch window.

OCO-2 is NASA's first mission dedicated to studying atmospheric carbon dioxide, the leading human-produced greenhouse gas driving changes in Earth's climate. OCO-2 will provide a new tool for understanding the human and natural sources of carbon dioxide emissions and the natural "sinks" that absorb carbon dioxide and help control its buildup.

The observatory will measure the global geographic distribution of these sources and sinks and study their changes over time.

The spacecraft's final circular polar orbit will be 438 nautical miles (705 kilometers) at an inclination of 98.2 degrees.


June 11, 2014

NASA Selects Five Projects for 2015 X-Hab Academic Innovation Challenge

NASA and the National Space Grant Foundation have selected five universities to design systems, concepts and technologies to enhance capabilities for deep space missions for the 2015 Exploration Habitat (X-Hab) Academic Innovation Challenge.

The selections are the first milestone in a yearlong design and development effort for these five projects. Throughout the 2014-2015 academic year, the teams must meet a series of milestones to design, manufacture, assemble and test their systems and concepts in close cooperation with members of the NASA Exploration Augmentation Module (EAM) concept team.

EAM is a new agencywide technology development concept managed by the Advanced Exploration Systems Division in NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. The EAM will combine several capabilities into a prototype system to augment Orion's habitation and extravehicular activity capabilities for extended deep space missions.

"This is the fifth year of the X-Hab Academic Innovation Challenge, and we continue to be impressed by the innovative university proposals to advance capabilities for spaceflight," said Tracy Gill, NASA lead for the X-Hab Challenge. "We look forward to lending our experience to the teams, to learning from their fresh approaches and to guiding the efforts through the systems engineering process."

The challenge is a university-level participatory exploration effort designed to encourage studies in spaceflight-related disciplines. The challenge encourages multidisciplinary approaches and strengthens partnerships between NASA, academia and industry. This design challenge requires undergraduate students to explore NASA's work on development of deep space habitats while also helping the agency gather new ideas to complement its current research and development. NASA selected these five projects from among a group of proposals received in May. The X-Hab Academic Innovation Challenge 2015 teams and projects are:

  • University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee: Design of a Carbon-fiber/Fused Deposition Modeling Spacecraft Structural Fabrication System
  • University of South Alabama: Development of a Volumetric Adsorption System for CO2 and H2O Multicomponent Isotherm Measurements
  • University of Vermont: Design of a "Smart-Structure" Deployable Airlock
  • Oklahoma State University: Deployable Greenhouse for food production on long-duration exploration missions
  • University of Colorado at Boulder: Deployable Greenhouse for Food Production
This challenge also contributes 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 to the universities for NASA to fund design, development and evaluation of the systems by members of the NASA teams during the 2014-2015 academic year.

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


June 10, 2014

NASA's Orion Spacecraft Stacks Up for First Flight

With just six months until its first trip to space, NASA's Orion spacecraft continues taking shape at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Engineers began stacking the crew module on top of the completed service module Monday, the first step in moving the three primary Orion elements – crew module, service module and launch abort system – into the correct configuration for launch.

"Now that we're getting so close to launch, the spacecraft completion work is visible every day," said Mark Geyer, NASA's Orion Program manager. "Orion's flight test will provide us with important data that will help us test out systems and further refine the design so we can safely send humans far into the solar system to uncover new scientific discoveries on future missions."

With the crew module now in place, the engineers will secure it and make the necessary power connections to the service module over the course of the week. Once the bolts and fluid connector between the modules are in place, the stacked spacecraft will undergo electrical, avionic and radio frequency tests.

The modules are being put together in the Final Assembly and System Testing (FAST) Cell in the Operations and Checkout Facility at Kennedy. Here, the integrated modules will be put through their final system tests prior to rolling out of the facility for integration with the United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket that will send it on its mission.

Orion is being prepared for its first launch later this year, an uncrewed flight that will take it 3,600 miles above Earth, in a 4.5 hour mission to test the systems critical for future human missions to deep space. After two orbits, Orion will reenter Earth's atmosphere at almost 20,000 miles per hour before its parachute system deploys to slow the spacecraft for a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.

Orion's flight test also will provide important data for the agency's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and ocean recovery of Orion. Engineers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, have built an advanced adapter to connect Orion to the Delta IV Heavy rocket that will launch the spacecraft during the December test. The adapter also will be used during future SLS missions. NASA's Ground Systems Development and Operations Program, based at Kennedy, will recover the Orion crew module with the U.S. Navy after its splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.

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


June 9, 2014

NASA Announces Briefing on New Mission to Track Global Carbon Dioxide

NASA will hold a media briefing at 2 p.m. EDT Thursday, June 12, at the NASA Headquarters James E. Webb Auditorium in Washington to discuss the upcoming Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 mission.

The briefings will be broadcast live on NASA Television and streamed on the agency's website.

OCO-2, NASA's first spacecraft dedicated to studying carbon dioxide, is set for a July 1 launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Its mission is to measure the global distribution of carbon dioxide, the leading human-produced greenhouse gas driving changes in Earth's climate. OCO-2 replaces a nearly identical spacecraft lost in a rocket launch mishap in February 2009.

The briefing participants are:

  • Betsy Edwards, OCO-2 program executive with the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington
  • Ralph Basilio, OCO-2 project manager with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California
  • Mike Gunson, OCO-2 project scientist at JPL
  • Annmarie Eldering, OCO-2 deputy project scientist at JPL
Media and the public also may ask questions during the briefing on Twitter using the hashtag #AskNASA.

OCO-2 is one of five NASA Earth science missions scheduled for launch in 2014. 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 around the world that contribute to understanding and protecting our home planet.

For more information about NASA's Earth science activities in 2014, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/earthrightnow

JPL manages the OCO-2 mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. JPL is managed for NASA by the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

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

For more information about NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/oco2


June 5, 2014

NASA's Orion Spacecraft is Ready to Feel the Heat

NASA and Lockheed Martin engineers have installed the largest heat shield ever constructed on the crew module of the agency's Orion spacecraft. The work marks a major milestone on the path toward the spacecraft's first launch in December.

"It is extremely exciting to see the heat shield in place, ready to do its job," said Mark Geyer, Orion Program manager at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. "The heat shield is such a critical piece, not just for this mission, but for our plans to send humans into deep space."

The heat shield is made of a coating called Avcoat, which burns away as it heats up in a process called ablation to prevent the transfer of extreme temperatures to the crew module. The Avcoat is covered with a silver reflective tape that protects the material from the extreme cold temperatures of space.

Orion's flight test, or Exploration Flight Test-1, will provide engineers with data about the heat shield's ability to protect Orion and its future crews from the 4,000-degree heat of re-entry and an ocean splashdown following the spacecraft's 20,000-mph re-entry from space.

Data gathered during the flight will inform decisions about design improvements on the heat shield and other Orion systems, and authenticate existing computer models and new approaches to space systems design and development. This process is critical to reducing overall risks and costs of future Orion missions -- missions that will include exploring an asteroid and Mars.

Orion's flight test also will provide important data for the agency's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and ocean recovery of Orion. Engineers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, have built an advanced adapter to connect Orion to the United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket that will launch the spacecraft during the December test. The adapter also will be used during future SLS missions. NASA's Ground Systems Development and Operations Program, based at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, will recover the Orion crew module with the U.S. Navy after its splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.

The heat shield was manufactured at Lockheed Martin's Waterton Facility near Denver. Construction was completed at Textron Defense Systems near Boston before the heat shield was shipped to the Operations and Checkout Building at Kennedy, where Orion is being assembled.

In the coming months, the Orion crew and service modules will be joined and put through functional tests before the spacecraft is transported to Kennedy's Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility for fueling. The spacecraft then will be transferred to the Launch Abort System (LAS) Facility to be connected to the LAS before making the journey to Cape Canaveral's Space Launch Complex 37 for pad integration and launch operations.

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


May 30, 2014

NASA and Industry Complete First Phase to Certify New Crew Transportation Systems

Development is Major Step toward Returning Human Space Launches to U.S. Soil

NASA's Commercial Crew Program and industry have completed the first step in the certification process that will enable American-made commercial spacecraft safely to ferry astronauts from U.S. soil to and from the International Space Station by 2017. The completion of the Certification Products Contracts (CPC) marks critical progress in the development of next-generation American space transportation systems that are safe, reliable and cost-effective.

"We're making great strides toward returning human spaceflight launch capability to U.S. soil," said Phil McAlister, director of Commercial Spaceflight at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "This certification is important to ensuring our crew members have reliable transportation to and from the space station where they are conducting research essential to advancing human exploration farther into the solar system."

Under the contracts, The Boeing Company, Sierra Nevada Corporation Space Systems (SNC) and Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) completed reviews detailing how each plans to meet NASA's certification requirements to transport space station crew members to and from the orbiting laboratory. NASA awarded the contracts totaling $30 million in December 2012.

"There's more than one correct way to build a spacecraft, and CPC has been an invaluable learning process for our industry partners and the agency," said Kathy Lueders, NASA Commercial Crew Program manager. "It is extremely exciting to see the unique approach each company brings to the table."

Throughout the CPC process, the companies provided plans to show safety has been a key element in the design of their spacecraft and demonstrate how their systems will meet NASA's performance requirements.

"It's allowed them to mature their plans and gave us additional insight into each company's approach," said Ed Burns, systems engineering and integration acting manager for NASA's Commercial Crew Program. "It also gave our NASA team and the partners a chance to work together towards certifying their systems."

The second phase of the certification process, the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap), is open to any company with system designs at a maturity level consistent with the completion of the first certification phase. NASA will announce one or more CCtCap awards later this year. This second phase will include at least one crewed flight test per awardee to verify the spacecraft can dock to the space station and all its systems perform as expected. Contracts also will include at least two, and as many as six, crewed, post-certification missions to enable NASA to meet its station crew rotation requirements.

Although CCtCap will enable NASA to acquire a capability to transport crews to the space station, NASA intends that U.S. providers market and use their systems for other customers.

For more information about NASA's Commercial Crew Program and its aerospace industry partners, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew


May 27, 2014

NASA Seeks Input on Kennedy Space Center Land Use

NASA's Kennedy Space Center is conducting market research on the potential lease and development of land assets that will enable the center to continue its transformation to a multi-user spaceport. The transformation is based on effectively utilizing land assets identified in the 2013-2032 Master Plan.

Kennedy is issuing a Request for Information (RFI) to identify potential partnership opportunities for the expansion of non-NASA launch operations and launch support functions at Kennedy, activities related to the assembly and processing of payloads or launch vehicles, and additional ventures that encourage activities in space.

The Master Plan describes the vision and supporting activities that will enable the center to continue to evolve into a multi-user spaceport supporting both government and commercial operations. The Master Plan is available at: http://masterplan.ksc.nasa.gov/
To access the RFI, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/1mzVWl5
For more information about Kennedy Space Center, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/kennedy


May 19, 2014

From Wind Tunnel Tests to Software Reviews, NASA's Commercial Crew Partners Continue to Advance

Progress Being Made to Return Space Launches to U.S. Soil

Working in wind tunnels, software laboratories and work stations across America, NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP) partners continue to make strides in advancing the designs of the American spacecraft and rockets that will carry humans safely and reliably into low-Earth orbit from U.S. soil by 2017.

Blue Origin, The Boeing Company, Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) and Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) are accomplishing milestones established through Space Act Agreements as part of the agency's Commercial Crew Development Round 2 and Commercial Crew Integrated Capability initiatives.

CCP's engineering team is working closely with its partners as they develop the next generation of crewed spacecraft and work toward challenging evaluations and tests this year. Ultimately, NASA intends to certify and use American-made commercial systems to fly astronauts from U.S. soil to the International Space Station and back, ending our sole reliance on Russia to get to space.

"What we have seen from our industry partners is a determination to make their components and systems work reliably, and in turn they've been able to demonstrate the complex machinery that makes spaceflight possible will also work as planned," said Kathy Lueders, Commercial Crew Program manager. "These next few months will continue to raise the bar for achievement by our partners."

Boeing completed its most in-depth evaluation in April of the software planned to operate the CST-100 spacecraft. Called a critical design review, or CDR, the evaluation confirmed the computer coding can be used in flight tests. Spacecraft are increasingly dependent on computers that automate systems and perform split-second commands, making the software one of the most crucial elements of the spacecraft.

SNC put models of its Dream Chaser spacecraft through rigorous wind tunnel tests at facilities across America as it refined the design by studying its reaction to subsonic, transonic and supersonic conditions it will encounter during ascent into space and re-entry from low-Earth orbit. Several Dream Chaser scale model spacecraft were subjected to multiple wind tunnel tests in various configurations, including the integrated launch stack of Dream Chaser on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

SpaceX conducted an integrated critical design review in April to demonstrate major hardware and software elements of the company's Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket. The critical design review took into account a host of previous reviews of the design of the vehicles along with the testing involved in verifying the systems.

As in building a house or other complex structure, these advancements set the stage for upcoming accomplishments on the path to a completed space transportation system. Blue Origin is closing in on an interim design review for the subsystems of its Space Vehicle design, a biconic spacecraft the company is developing to carry humans into low-Earth orbit.

Boeing will complete a critical design review that will cover all elements of the crewed spacecraft, rocket, as well as ground and mission operations in the coming months.

SNC is preparing to share its results from a series of tests of the reaction control system motors for the Dream Chaser spacecraft at a subcontractor facility, and main engine motor tests at SNC's Poway, California, facility.

SpaceX continues to develop hardware for a series of flight tests later this year that will put the Dragon's launch abort system through simulated emergencies to make sure it will perform for astronauts in the unlikely event of a mishap during launch or ascent into orbit.

Milestones achieved by CCP's partners continue to advance commercial spacecraft and transportation systems from design to reality. The successes of NASA and American aerospace companies are ushering in a new generation of space transportation capabilities, which will enable new opportunities for humans to live and work in space.

For more information about CCP and its aerospace industry partners, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew


May 16, 2014

NASA Robotics Mining Competition at KSC Visitor Complex

Teams of undergraduate and graduate students from around the country will demonstrate their excavator robots May 19-23 at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida.

More than 35 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

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


May 14, 2014

NASA Hosts KSC's NASA MOVES!
Fitness Challenge Kickoff With Bob Cabana and Florida State Surgeon General, Dr. John Armstrong

NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, in conjunction with the Florida Department of Health, is kicking off National Employee Health and Fitness Month with the NASA Moves! challenge event scheduled for May 19 at the Kennedy Pathfinder Fitness Trail.

The Chief Health and Medical Officer at NASA Headquarters in Washington is sponsoring a two-week agencywide fitness challenge called NASA Moves! from Sunday, May 18, to Saturday, May 31.

The event will be hosted by Kennedy Director Bob Cabana and will include Florida State Surgeon General Dr. John Armstrong, as well as the directors of health from Osceola, Brevard, Volusia, Orange and Indian River counties.

The challenge will encourage the center's workforce to accomplish at least 20 minutes of physical activity every day. Examples include walking at lunch; walking up one flight of stairs or down two instead of taking the elevator whenever possible; parking farther away from the workplace entrance; or anything that increases physical activity. The challenge complements the State of Florida Healthiest Weight Initiative, which is intended to promote a healthier lifestyle among the state's population.

For more information about "NASA Moves!" or Florida's Healthiest Weight Initiative, visit:
http://www.nasa.gov/kennedy
http://ohp.nasa.gov/health4life
http://www.floridahealth.gov


April 30, 2014

NASA TV to Air U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony May 3

NASA Television will provide live coverage of the 2014 U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame induction ceremony at 3 p.m. EDT Saturday, May 3. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, a 2006 Hall of Famer, and Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana, in 2008, will deliver remarks at the event.

Former astronauts Shannon W. Lucid and Jerry L. Ross will be inducted into the Hall of Fame during Saturday's ceremony at NASA's Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Space Shuttle Atlantis attraction in Florida.

A veteran of five missions and a member of NASA's first astronaut class to include women, Lucid logged more than 223 days in space. From August 1991 to June 2007, she held the record for the most days in orbit by any woman in the world. Lucid is the only American woman who served aboard the Russian Mir space station, where she lived and worked in 1996 for more than 188 days -- the longest stay of any American on that spacecraft.

Ross flew on seven shuttle missions, logged more than 58 days in space, and conducted nine spacewalks totaling 58 hours and 18 minutes. He was the first person to be launched into space seven times. Ross' time spent conducting spacewalks is the all-time second highest among U.S. astronauts.

The induction of Ross and Lucid brings the total number of space-exploring Hall of Famers to 87.

For more information about the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, visit: http://www.kennedyspacecenter.com

For Lucid's biography, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/1o0jP4Z

For Ross' biography, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/xiedg2

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


April 28, 2014

NASA Seeks Partners for Technology Development Projects

NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida is seeking proposals to participate in the technology advancing partnerships challenge, a new initiative managed by Kennedy's chief technologist to enhance the development of new technologies to meet specific agency mission objectives.

Technological areas of emphasis for the challenge include: robotics, telerobotics and autonomous systems; human health, life support and habitation systems; human exploration destination systems; ground and launch systems processing; modeling, simulation, information technology and processing; thermal management systems; and communication and navigation.

Proposals will be accepted from U.S. educational institutions, private industry and non-profit organizations through May 9, 2014.

For more information on how to submit a proposal and to view the Cooperative Agreement Notice, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/1rrFXpa

For more information on NASA's research and technology programs, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/oct/


April 22, 2014

NASA's Kennedy Space Center Among NASA Cargo Launching to Space Station

When the SpaceX-3 cargo resupply mission launched to the International Space Station April 18, an experiment designed by NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida was among the cargo headed to space.

The experiment, Veg-01, provides lighting and nutrient delivery for efficient plant growth in space. The plants grown in VEGGIE can support a wide spectrum of uses, from research and education outreach to a fresh food source and recreational gardening activities for long-duration space missions.

SpaceX-3 is NASA's third contracted resupply mission to the space station by U.S. company SpaceX of Hawthorne, Calif. SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft launched atop the company's Falcon rocket from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 3:25 p.m. EDT.

SpaceX developed its Dragon capsule, the only cargo spacecraft currently servicing the space station with the capability to return cargo back to Earth, with NASA and now successfully has completed three missions to the orbiting outpost. Expedition 39 crew members captured the SpaceX-3 Dragon using the station's robotic arm at 7:14 a.m. Sunday, April 20. The capsule is scheduled to remain attached to the station unit May 18. It then will return to Earth and splash down in the Pacific Ocean, off the coast California. It will return samples from scientific investigations currently underway aboard the space station.

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 had continuous human occupation 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 the SpaceX-3 mission and the International Space Station, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station


April 21, 2014

NASA Selects Commercial Crew Program Manager

NASA has selected Kathy Lueders (pronounced LEE-ders) as program manager for the agency's Commercial Crew Program (CCP). Lueders, who has served as acting program manager since October 2013, will help keep the nation's space program on course to launch astronauts from American soil by 2017 aboard spacecraft built by American companies.

"This is a particularly critical time for NASA's human spaceflight endeavors as the Commercial Crew Program enters into contract implementation," said William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Kathy's experience and leadership skills developed during the ISS commercial resupply contract activity will be critical to safely and effectively leading commercial crew transportation activities for NASA."

Lueders, who will be assigned to the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, previously served as the International Space Station Program's transportation integration manager, where she managed commercial cargo resupply services to the space station. Lueders also was responsible for NASA oversight of international partner spacecraft visiting the space station, including the European Space Agency's Automated Transfer Vehicle, the Japanese Space Agency's H-II Transfer Vehicle, and the Russian Federal Space Agency's Soyuz and Progress spacecraft.

"It's exciting to think that I'll be continuing to utilize my background and leadership experience with the International Space Station to help the Commercial Crew Program team and our industry partners execute the next phase," said Lueders.

Lueders began her NASA career at the White Sands Test Facility in New Mexico in 1992, where she managed the Shuttle Orbital Maneuvering System and Reaction Control Systems Depot. She served in numerous positions in the space station program, including the deputy manager for station logistics and maintenance, the vehicle systems integration manager, and the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services integration manager.

Lueders has a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance from the University of New Mexico and a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Industrial Engineering from New Mexico State University.

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


April 18, 2014

NASA Cargo Launches to Space Station aboard SpaceX Resupply Mission

Nearly 2.5 tons of NASA science investigations and cargo are on the way to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft. The spacecraft launched atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 3:25 p.m. EDT Friday, April 18.

The mission is the company's third cargo delivery flight to the station through a $1.6 billion NASA Commercial Resupply Services contract. Dragon's cargo will support more than 150 experiments to be conducted by the crews of ISS Expeditions 39 and 40.

"SpaceX is delivering important research experiments and cargo to the space station," said William Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations. "The diversity and number of new experiments is phenomenal. The investigations aboard Dragon will help us improve our understanding of how humans adapt to living in space for long periods of time and help us develop technologies that will enable deep space exploration."

The scientific payloads on Dragon include investigations into efficient plant growth in space, human immune system function in microgravity, Earth observation, and a demonstration of laser optics communication. Also being delivered is a set of high-tech legs for Robonaut 2, which will provide the humanoid robot torso already aboard the orbiting laboratory the mobility it needs to help with regular and repetitive tasks inside the space station.

Dragon also will deliver a second set of investigations sponsored by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), which manages the portion of the space station that is designated a U.S. National Laboratory. The investigations include research into plant biology and protein crystal growth, a field of study experts believe may lead to beneficial advancements in drug development through protein mapping.

On its way to the ISS, SpaceX's Falcon rocket jettisoned five small research satellites known as CubeSats that will perform a variety of technology demonstrations. The small satellites are part of NASA's Educational Launch of Nanosatellite, or ElaNa, mission, and involved more than 120 students in their design, development and construction. One of the satellites, PhoneSat 2.5, is the third in a series of CubeSat missions designed to use commercially available smartphone technology as part of a low-cost development effort to provide basic spacecraft capabilities. Another of the small satellites, SporeSat, is designed to help scientists study the mechanisms by which plant cells sense gravity -- valuable research in the larger effort to grow plants in space.

Dragon will be grappled at 7:14 a.m. on Sunday, April 20, by Expedition 39 Commander Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, using the space station's robotic arm to take hold of the spacecraft. NASA's Rick Mastracchio will support Wakata in a backup position. Dragon is scheduled to depart the space station May 18 for a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean, west of Baja California, bringing from the space station nearly 3,500 pounds of science, hardware, crew supplies and spacewalk tools.

The ISS 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 third cargo resupply mission and the International Space Station, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station


April 16, 2014

SpaceX Launch of NASA Cargo to Space Station Set for Friday, Spacewalk Wednesday

NASA and SpaceX are targeting a 3:25 p.m. EDT launch on Friday, April 18, of SpaceX's third cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. NASA Television coverage will begin at 2:15 p.m.

The company's April 14 launch to the orbiting laboratory was scrubbed due to a helium leak in the Falcon 9 rocket that will launch the Dragon spacecraft to the space station.

Dragon is carrying to the space station almost 5,000 pounds of science and research, crew supplies, vehicle hardware and spacewalk tools -- all to support the crew and more than 150 scientific investigations planned for Expeditions 39 and 40. If needed, another launch attempt will take place at 3:02 p.m. Saturday, April 19.

NASA Television coverage of Dragon's arrival at the space station will begin at 5:45 a.m. Sunday, April 20. Expedition 39 Commander Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will use the space station's robotic arm to capture the spacecraft at approximately 7 a.m. NASA's Rick Mastracchio will support Wakata during the rendezvous. NASA Television coverage will resume at 9:30 a.m., as the Dragon is attached to the Earth-facing port of the space station's Harmony module.

An April 18 launch will allow the space station program to plan for a spacewalk on Wednesday, April 23, to replace a failed multiplexer-demultiplexer (MDM) relay system. The prime MDM, which is operating normally, and the failed backup computer provide commands to some space station systems, including the external cooling system, Solar Alpha Rotary joints and Mobile Transporter rail car.

For the latest information on the SpaceX mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/spacex

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

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


April 15, 2014

NASA Signs Agreement with SpaceX for Use of Historic Launch Pad

NASA Kennedy Space Center's historic Launch Complex 39A, the site from which numerous Apollo and space shuttle missions began, is beginning a new mission as a commercial launch site.

NASA signed a property agreement with Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, Calif., on Monday for use and occupancy of the seaside complex along Florida's central east coast. It will serve as a platform for SpaceX to support their commercial launch activities.

"It's exciting that this storied NASA launch pad is opening a new chapter for space exploration and the commercial aerospace industry," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "While SpaceX will use pad 39A at Kennedy, about a mile away on pad 39B, we're preparing for our deep space missions to an asteroid and eventually Mars. The parallel pads at Kennedy perfectly exemplify NASA's parallel path for human spaceflight exploration -- U.S. commercial companies providing access to low-Earth orbit and NASA deep space exploration missions at the same time."

Under a 20-year agreement, SpaceX will operate and maintain the facility at its own expense. "As the world's fastest growing launch services provider, SpaceX will maximize the use of pad 39A both to the benefit of the commercial launch industry as well as the American taxpayer," said Gwynne Shotwell, president and COO of SpaceX.

The reuse of pad 39A is part of NASA's work to transform the Kennedy Space Center into a 21st century launch complex capable of supporting both government and commercial users. At the same time, NASA and Lockheed Martin are assembling the agency's first Orion spacecraft in the Operations and Checkout Building while preparing Kennedy's infrastructure for the Space Launch System rocket, which will lift off from the center's Launch Complex 39B and send American astronauts into deep space, including to an asteroid and eventually Mars.

"Kennedy Space Center is excited to welcome SpaceX to our growing list of partners," Center Director Bob Cabana said. "As we continue to reconfigure and repurpose these tremendous facilities, it is gratifying to see our plan for a multi-user spaceport shared by government and commercial partners coming to fruition." Launch Complex 39A originally was designed to support NASA's Apollo Program and later modified to support the Space Shuttle Program. Because of the transition from the shuttle program to NASA's Space Launch System and Orion programs, the agency does not have a need for the complex to support future missions.

Pad 39A was first used to launch Apollo 4 on Nov. 9, 1967; it is the site where Apollo 11 lifted off from on the first manned moon landing in 1969; and the pad was last used for space shuttle Atlantis' launch to the International Space Station on July 11, 2011, for the STS-135 mission, the final shuttle flight. This agreement with SpaceX ensures the pad will be used for the purpose it was built -- launching spacecraft.

For more information about Launch Complex 39A and ongoing work to transform Kennedy Space Center into a 21st century launch complex, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/kennedy


April 11, 2014

NASA's Orion Spacecraft Powers through First Integrated System Testing

NASA's Orion spacecraft has proven its mettle in a test designed to determine the spacecraft's readiness for its first flight test -- Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1) -- later this year. EFT-1 will send the spacecraft more than 3,600 miles from Earth and return it safely.

The spacecraft ran for 26 uninterrupted hours during the final phase of a major test series completed April 8 at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The test verified the crew module can route power and send commands that enable the spacecraft to manage its computer system, software and data loads, propulsion valves, temperature sensors and other instrumentation.

"This has been the most significant integrated testing of the Orion spacecraft yet," said William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for NASA's human exploration and operations at the agency's Headquarters in Washington. "The work done to test the avionics with the crew module isn't just preparing us for Orion's first trip to space in a few months. It's also getting us ready to send crews far into the solar system."

In October 2013, NASA and Lockheed Martin engineers powered on Orion's main computer for the first time. Since then, they have installed harnessing, wiring and electronics. This was the first time engineers ran the crew module through its paces to verify all system actuators respond correctly to commands and all sensors report back as planned. More than 20 miles of wire are required to connect the different systems being powered.

"Getting all the wiring right, integrating every element of the avionics together, and then testing it continuously for this many hours is a big step toward getting to deep space destinations," said Mark Geyer, Orion program manager.

Engineers now are preparing the crew module for vibration testing, scheduled for the week of April 14. In May, the heat shield will be installed and, shortly thereafter, the crew module will be attached with the service module.

During EFT-1, an uncrewed Orion spacecraft will take a four-hour trip into space, traveling 15 times farther from Earth than the International Space Station. During its re-entry into Earth's atmosphere, Orion will be traveling at 20,000 mph, faster than any current spacecraft capable of carrying humans, and endure temperatures of approximately 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The data gathered during the flight will inform design decisions to improve the spacecraft that will one day carry humans to an asteroid and eventually Mars. EFT-1 is targeted for launch in December.

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


April 4, 2014

NASA Coverage Set for SpaceX Mission to Space Station

The next SpaceX cargo mission to the International Space Station under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services contract is scheduled to launch Monday, April 14, from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The company's Falcon 9 rocket, carrying its Dragon cargo spacecraft, will lift off at approximately 4:58 p.m. EDT. NASA Television coverage of the launch begins at 3:45 p.m. If for any reason the launch is postponed, the next launch opportunity is Friday, April 18 at approximately 3:25 p.m.

The mission, designated SpaceX-3, is the third of 12 SpaceX flights contracted by NASA to resupply the space station. It will be the fourth trip by a Dragon spacecraft to the orbiting laboratory.

The spacecraft will be filled with almost 5,000 pounds of scientific experiments and supplies. The Dragon will remain attached to the space station's Harmony module until mid-May and splash down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California with more than 3,000 pounds of experiment samples and equipment returning from the station.


April 2, 2014

PaR Systems Celebrates One-Year Anniversary in Hangar N

Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana marked the one-year anniversary of a lease agreement with PaR Systems Inc., of Shoreview, Minn., for use of the Hangar N facility on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida during an Open House event April 2.

"This is a unique facility that provides a critical capability to the aerospace community here at the Cape," Cabana said, "and it also employs technicians that have the highest standard of training in nondestructive test and evaluation."

Under a 15-year lease agreement, PaR Systems will operate the Hangar N facility and utilize its unique nondestructive testing (NDT) equipment. Some of the NDT systems were used during the Space Shuttle Program.

"Our partnership with NASA goes back many years, and Hangar N is only a recent example of the partnership that we had with NASA," said Brian Behm, president, Aerospace Robotics, PaR Systems. "We think the future is bright with some good opportunities and we look forward to being a valued member of the space community. It's truly the case where our commercial partnership is good for NASA, good for the local community and good for PaR Systems."

PaR Systems is operating the facility at its own expense and is using the facility to perform nondestructive evaluation testing and other related aerospace, marine and industrial products and services.

"We have entered into a partnership with NASA to ensure the world-class inspection capabilities developed during the space shuttle era will remain in place to support future human spaceflight programs launching from Kennedy Space Center," said Tony Corak, manager of NDT Services for PaR Systems.

"The equipment and expertise developed over a 30-year period of space shuttle processing provides a significant differentiating factor over others," Corak said. "It exemplifies why Kennedy stands out as the preeminent launch facility in the world, as well as providing a product launching pad for PaR's commercial endeavors."

The partnership agreement was established by Kennedy's Center Planning and Development Directorate (CPDD). Space Florida and the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast also had integral roles in the development of the Hangar N partnership.

"The agreement we have with PaR systems has been an outstanding example of the types of partnerships we are seeking to create the multi-user spaceport at Kennedy. The supply chain activities such as this are an integral component of the success of all of the partnerships we have," said Tom Engler, deputy director of the CPDD.

PaR Systems Inc. is a privately held business specializing in process automation, robotic solutions and services for critical applications in demanding environments. Additional support for PaR's work at Hangar N is being provided by PaR's LaserUT Center of Excellence in Fort Worth, Texas, and its Robotics Headquarters in Shoreview.

Kennedy is positioning itself for the next era of space exploration, transitioning to a 21st century launch facility with multiple users, both private and government.

For more information about PaR Systems Inc. visit: http://par.com

For more information about partnership opportunities, visit: http://www.ksc.nasa.gov


March 31, 2014

NASA Commercial Crew Partners Complete Space System Milestones

NASA's commercial space partners continue to meet milestones under agreements with the agency's Commercial Crew Program (CCP), as they move forward in their development of spacecraft and rockets that will transport humans to destinations in low-Earth orbit.

The achievements in February are the latest development in a cycle that is seeing all four industry partners meet their milestones in their Commercial Crew Integrated Capability and Commercial Crew Development Round 2 agreements with the agency.

Blue Origin, The Boeing Company, Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) and Space Exploration Technology (SpaceX) are developing unique transportation systems and face challenging evaluations and tests in 2014. CCP's engineering team is working closely with its partners as they develop the next generation of crewed spacecraft. Ultimately, NASA intends to certify and use commercial systems to fly astronauts from the United States to the International Space Station, and back.

"We have been very pleased to see all the companies in this extraordinary partnership continue to hold to schedules of development that keep us on a path to resume flights into space for astronauts on American-made spacecraft lifting off from U.S. soil," said Kathy Lueders, acting CCP program manager.

Blue Origin completed a review of the design, manufacture and assembly of its sub-scale propulsion tank, a smaller version of the tank that will boost the company's Space Vehicle into low-Earth orbit. Engineers will use the results to evaluate design features and manufacturing processes for orbital operations.

Boeing wrapped up a critical design review of the primary structures for its CST-100 spacecraft in late February that advances the design of many of the spacecraft structures to a point at which fabrication can begin. The primary structures are comprised of two major components -- the crew module and the service module. The crew module is the pressurized shell where the crew sits during a mission. The shell also contains the computers, cooling systems and other critical components to keep the flight crew and their cargo safe during flight. The service module houses propulsion and abort systems, used to maneuver the spacecraft during flight.

The critical design review was backed up by significant materials testing to verify the materials would hold up to the strenuous demands of spaceflight. One of the challenges in developing a primary structure for spacecraft is to make it light, but still have the strength to tolerate the rigors of spaceflight, and to safely house the vehicle's critical components.

Also in February, SpaceX completed an early design review for the ground systems it anticipates using at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida to launch the company's crewed Dragon spacecraft on the company's Falcon 9 rocket. NASA engineers reviewed plans to adapt existing structures at Kennedy to accommodate the rocket. Because the Dragon spacecraft will be flying people, the ground system designs have to include ways for the crew to safely enter the spacecraft at the top of the rocket, plus a means for them to evacuate the pad quickly in the unlikely event of an emergency.

All four of NASA's industry partners continue to meet their established milestones in developing crew transportation systems and are preparing for several more. Blue Origin is working toward the interim design review of its space vehicle subsystems. Boeing's next milestone comes in April when the software for the CST-100 goes through a critical design review.

As with hardware elements of the spacecraft, the software has undergone numerous tests and simulations to confirm it will hold up to the demanding realm of spaceflight. SNC is preparing to evaluate the data from numerous wind tunnel tests of its Dream Chaser spacecraft and United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket integrated stack configurations at NASA's Langley and Ames Research Centers. SNC also is actively conducting several reaction control systems and main engine motor tests at their Poway, Calif., facility. These evaluations and tests are crucial tools for advancing SNC's spacecraft. Also in April, SpaceX will complete an integrated critical design review that will cover all elements of the crewed Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket. This precedes a busy summer for the company as preparation continues on two launch abort system test flights later this year.

Milestones achieved by CCP's partners continue to advance commercial spacecraft and transportation systems from design to reality. The successes of NASA and American aerospace companies are ushering in a new generation of space transportation capabilities, which will enable new opportunities for humans to live and work in space.

For more information about CCP and its aerospace industry partners, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew


March 28, 2014

NASA Awards Launch Services Contract for CYGNSS Mission

NASA has selected Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., to launch the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) mission. CYGNSS will launch in October 2016 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida aboard a Pegasus XL rocket from Orbital's "Stargazer" L-1011 aircraft.

This is a firm-fixed price launch-service task order contract worth approximately $55 million. Contract services include spacecraft processing, the launch service payload integration, tracking, data and telemetry, and other launch support requirements.

CYGNSS will produce measurements of ocean surface winds throughout the life cycle of tropical storms and hurricanes, which could help lead to forecasting weather better. The mission, led by the University of Michigan, will use a constellation of small satellites that will be carried to orbit on a single launch vehicle. CYGNSS's eight micro-satellite observatories will receive direct and reflected signals from GPS satellites. CYGNSS is the first award for space-based investigations in the Earth Venture-class series of rapidly developed, cost-constrained projects for NASA's Earth Science Division. NASA's Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va., manages the Earth System Science Pathfinder program for NASA's Science Mission Directorate.

NASA's Launch Services Program at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida is responsible for management and oversight of the Pegasus XL launch services. Langley provides management for the CYGNSS mission.

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

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


March 26, 2014

NASA Marks Major Programmatic Milestone for Spaceport of the Future

NASA achieved a major milestone this month in its effort to transform the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida into a multi-user spaceport by successfully completing the initial design and technology development phase for the Ground Systems Development and Operations (GSDO) Program. The major program milestone on March 20, called the Preliminary Design Review, provided an assessment of the initial designs for infrastructure at Kennedy and allowed development of the ground systems to proceed toward detailed design. The thorough review has validated the baseline architecture is sound and aligns with the agency's exploration objectives.

"We've pushed the boundaries of space exploration for more than 50 years and are making progress getting ready to move the frontier even further into the solar system," said Dan Dumbacher, deputy associate administrator for exploration system development at NASA Headquarters in Washington. ''The work being done to transform our abilities to prepare and process spacecraft and launch vehicles at Kennedy is a critical piece of our efforts to send astronauts in Orion on top of the Space Launch System to an asteroid and ultimately Mars."

Unlike previous work at Kennedy focusing on a single kind of launch system, such as the Saturn V rocket or space shuttle, engineers and managers in GSDO are preparing the spaceport's infrastructure to support several different spacecraft and rockets in development for human exploration. This includes NASA's development of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft. They will provide an entirely new capability for human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit with the flexibility to launch spacecraft for crew and cargo missions to destinations in the solar system, including an asteroid and Mars.

"The preliminary design review is incredibly important, as it must demonstrate the ground systems designs are on track to process and launch the SLS and the Orion from Kennedy," said Mike Bolger, GSDO program manager.

In December 2012, the GSDO Program completed a combined system requirements review and system definition review to determine the center's infrastructure needs for future programs and establish work plans for the preliminary design phase. That successful completion confirmed the groundwork needed to launch the SLS and Orion spacecraft.

For more information on GSDO, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/groundsystems

For more information about Orion, SLS and NASA's future human spaceflight exploration plans, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/exploration


March 21, 2014

SpaceX Launch to Space Station Reset for March 30

SpaceX has confirmed it will target its next cargo mission launch to the International Space Station from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, for 10:50 p.m. EDT, Sunday, March 30.

NASA Television launch coverage begins at 9:45 p.m. for the company's third contracted resupply mission to the orbital laboratory. If for any reason the launch is postponed, the next launch opportunity is 9:39 p.m. Wednesday, April 2, with NASA TV coverage beginning at 8:30 p.m.

NASA TV also will air a prelaunch news conference at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 29, at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. A 2 p.m. briefing on the science and technology cargo being delivered to the space station by SpaceX will follow.

A March 30 launch would result in SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft arriving at the station on Wednesday, April 2, at approximately 7 a.m. NASA TV coverage of rendezvous and berthing will begin at 5:45 a.m. for a 7 a.m. capture. Coverage of Dragon's installation will begin at 9:30 a.m.

NASA TV LAUNCH COVERAGE
Sunday, March 30 (Launch day): NASA TV live coverage will begin at 9:45 p.m. EDT and conclude at approximately 11 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 9 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 March 30, NASA TV will provide live coverage on Wednesday, April 2, of the arrival of the Dragon cargo ship to the International Space Station. Grapple and berthing coverage begins at 5:45 a.m. for a grapple at 7 a.m. Berthing coverage begins at 9:30 a.m.

NASA WEB PRELAUNCH AND LAUNCH COVERAGE
Prelaunch and launch day coverage of the SpaceX-3 flight will be available on the NASA website. Coverage will include live streaming and text updates beginning at 9:45 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-3 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

WEB ACTIVITIES UPDATES AND ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
For updates to these SpaceX-3 prelaunch activities, go to: http://www.nasa.gov/SpaceX
For video b-roll and other International Space Station media resources, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/stationnews
For further information about the International Space Station, research in low-Earth orbit, NASA's commercial space programs and the future of American spaceflight, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station
For more information about SpaceX, visit: http://www.spacex.com


March 13, 2014

NASA Associate Administrator to Highlight Rocket for Orion's Flight Test

The two boosters of the United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket will be paired with a third booster, all igniting at liftoff, to loft NASA's Orion spacecraft on Exploration Flight Test-1 later this year. During the flight test, Orion will travel 3,600 miles into space -- farther than a spacecraft built for humans has been in more than 40 years -- and orbit the Earth twice. The capsule will re-enter Earth's atmosphere at speeds approaching 20,000 mph, generating temperatures as high as 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit, before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean.

The uncrewed flight will provide engineers with important data about Orion's heat shield and other elements that will help engineers improve the spacecraft that will carry humans to an asteroid and eventually Mars during future missions.

NASA has adjusted the times and content of previously scheduled events on Friday, March 14. For an updated schedule of SpaceX-3 prelaunch briefings, events and NASA TV coverage items, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/1dsh9dp

For updates on the SpaceX-3 mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/SpaceX

For further information about the International Space Station, research in low-Earth orbit, NASA's commercial space programs and the future of American spaceflight, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station

For more information about SpaceX, visit: http://www.spacex.com


March 13, 2014

Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana Presents Memento to Six-Year-Old Connor Johnson

Dreams do come true. Six-year old Connor Johnson, Denver, Colo., will have the opportunity to meet with astronauts, see space vehicles and witness his first launch while at Kennedy Space Center this weekend.

NASA Kennedy Director Bob Cabana will present a memento to inspire the youngster at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex at 11 a.m. EDT on Saturday, March 15. Media are invited to photograph the event scheduled to take place at the Rocket Garden, where a Robot Rocket Rally is being held to celebrate NASA's robotic marvels, including the engineering model of Robonaut's legs that will be launched to the International Space Station on Sunday.

Connor Johnson is continuing his dream of becoming an astronaut as a guest of the visitor complex. He and his family are making their first visit to the space center and will view their first launch, the SpaceX-3 Falcon 9, at 4:41 a.m. Sunday.

In December 2013, he launched an online petition to save NASA's funding from budget cuts. Since the age of three, he has dreamed of becoming an astronaut and discovering new worlds and asteroids.

Cabana flew four missions as a NASA astronaut, logging 38 days in space as the pilot on STS-41 and STS-53 and the commander of STS-65 and STS-88. His fourth flight was the first assembly mission of the International Space Station in December 1998. He currently serves as the tenth director of Kennedy.

For more information on NASA and its missions, visit: http://www.nasa.gov
For more information on SpaceX-3, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/spacex
For information on the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, visit: http://www.kennedyspacecenter.com


March 5, 2014

NASA Awards Contract to Modify Kennedy's Vehicle Assembly Building High Bay 3

NASA has selected Hensel Phelps Construction Co., of Orlando, Fla., to modify High Bay 3 in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the processing of the agency's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.

Hensel Phelps will receive a fixed-price contract for $99.57 million, consisting of the base amount and three options. The period of performance is 782 calendar days, or about 2 years and one month. The potential maximum value of this contract is $112.70 million, if additional awarded options are exercised.

Contract services include all required management, labor, facilities, materials and equipment, other than government-furnished equipment, to modify the VAB and construct new vehicle access platforms and related systems for the SLS. The work consists of removing, modifying or reusing current structural component systems, and constructing and installing new structural, mechanical and electrical material, systems and equipment.

The work done on this contract will support Kennedy's Ground Systems Development and Operations (GSDO) Program. Building on five decades of launch and processing excellence, GSDO is transforming Kennedy into a multi-user spaceport capable of accommodating a wide array of government and commercial space activities.

NASA is developing the heavy-lift SLS rocket to expand human presence to deep-space destinations including an asteroid and Mars. The SLS will take astronauts farther into space than ever before, while engaging the U.S. aerospace workforce here at home.

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


March 5, 2014

March 16 SpaceX Mission to Space Station

The next SpaceX mission to the International Space Station under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services contract is scheduled to launch Sunday, March 16, from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The company's Falcon 9 rocket, carrying its Dragon cargo capsule, will lift off at 4:41 a.m. EDT. NASA Television coverage of the launch begins at 3:45 a.m. If for any reason the launch is postponed, the next launch opportunity is Monday, March 17, at 4:19 a.m., with NASA TV coverage beginning at 3:15 a.m. The mission, designated SpaceX-3, is the third of 12 SpaceX flights contracted by NASA to resupply the space station. It will mark the fourth trip by a Dragon capsule to the orbiting laboratory.

The capsule will be filled with almost 5,000 pounds of scientific experiments and supplies. The Dragon will remain attached to the space station's Harmony module for more than three weeks, and splash down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California on April 17 with more than 3,500 pounds of experiment samples and equipment returning from the station.

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: www.facebook.com/NASAKennedy


February 28, 2014

NASA Kennedy Space Center Names Abacus Technology Small Business Prime Contractor of Year

NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida has selected Abacus Technology Corp. as its Small Business Prime Contractor of the Year for 2013. The company serves as the center's Information Management and Communications Support (IMCS) contractor.

The award was presented to IMCS Program Manager Patty Stratton by Kennedy's director, Bob Cabana, during the space center's Honor Awards Ceremony on Feb. 25. "Congratulations for exemplary work that has earned you this honor," said Cabana, in his letter informing the company of the selection.

In accepting the recognition, Stratton gave credit to the Abacus and QinetiQ team of employees who do the day-to-day work supporting the IMCS contract. "We are privileged to have highly skilled, experienced and dedicated people providing our customers with world-class service," she said. "We are committed to assisting Kennedy in its evolution to a world-class, multi-user spaceport for the 21st century."

Based in Chevy Chase, Md., Abacus Technology provides information technology and communications services to NASA, the Department of Defense, contractors and worldwide news media organizations. In addition to Abacus, the IMCS team includes QinetiQ North America.

The Small Business Prime Contractor of the Year award recipient is selected based on the company's performance by operating on schedule, within cost, exhibiting responsiveness to contractual requirements and providing innovative solutions to problems and issues.

Abacus has achieved a five-year contract underrun by one percent translating into a savings of $3.62 million. The company's "Best Practice" safety program at Kennedy was recognized by the United Safety Council with its Gold Award for Corporate Safety in 2013.

The IMCS contract facilitates the sharing of systems, information and data on an enterprise-level basis in accordance with NASA's strategic plan. The work includes information technology, such as data center operations, website and software development and security. Communications services involve voice, radio, telephone, imaging, closed-circuit television, television production and transmission of mission networks. Administrative services provided includes printing and duplication, forms, library, engineering documentation, microimaging, graphics, public affairs writing, publications and Web content.

"We will continue to implement efficient and innovative solutions to help the space agency modernize Kennedy's facilities and systems," Stratton said. "Our goal is to provide quality mission support on the NASA Launch Services, Commercial Crew, Commercial Resupply Services and Space Station programs."

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


February 28, 2014

NASA Commercial Crew Partners Complete Space System Milestones

NASA's aerospace industry partners continue to meet milestones under agreements with the agency's Commercial Crew Program (CCP), as they move forward in their development of spacecraft and rockets that will transport humans to destinations in low-Earth orbit. Blue Origin, Boeing Space Exploration, Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) and SpaceX each are developing unique transportation systems, and each faces stringent evaluations and tests in 2014. CCP's engineering team is working closely with its partners as they develop the next generation of crewed spacecraft. NASA intends to certify and use these commercial systems to fly astronauts from U.S. soil to the International Space Station, and back.

"Already this year, NASA and its industry partners are making tremendous progress toward achieving the nation's goal of restoring America's capability to launch commercial passengers, including astronauts, from U.S. soil to low-Earth orbit," said Kathy Lueders, CCP's acting program manager. "This year, we'll see hardware testing, flight demonstrations and the award of the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contract. We're excited for what the rest of this year holds and look forward to highlighting the tremendous progress our partners make to advance commercial human spaceflight."

Working under Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) agreements with NASA, Boeing and SNC met key milestones in late December and throughout January. Boeing worked with United Launch Alliance to complete milestones in the development of an emergency detection system and launch vehicle adapter for the Atlas V rocket planned to launch Boeing's CST-100.

"United Launch Alliance was an integral partner in both of these milestones, ensuring that the launch vehicle adapter and emergency detection system were fully functioning and safe for our future passengers," said John Mulholland, vice president and program manager of Boeing Commercial Programs. "A tireless engineering development and analysis effort since the preliminary design review early last year has led to the success of two critical milestone completions."

The CST-100's emergency detection system is an integrated set of hardware and software that will operate with the avionics systems of the Atlas V rocket as it lifts off and ascends into orbit. In the event of a confirmed emergency, the detection system will send a signal to the CST-100 to trigger escape thrusters on the spacecraft to push the crew out of harm's way and return them safely to Earth.

Engineers ran the software through a series of emergency scenarios to verify the performance of the escape system, carefully tracking how changes in one component might affect another. The launch vehicle adapter that connects the CST-100 to the top of the rocket also received significant attention during the critical design review. Boeing demonstrated that pilots could take over control of the CST-100 and fly it through various phases of a mission successfully.

Chris Ferguson, director of Boeing's Crew and Mission Operations and former space shuttle commander, led the testing. Sitting inside a simulator replica of the spacecraft, Ferguson demonstrated how the CST-100's flight computers would immediately relinquish control of the spacecraft to the pilot -- a NASA requirement for crewed spacecraft destined for low-Earth orbit. The feature is comparable to turning off the autopilot function of a commercial aircraft.

SNC's team recently concluded an incremental critical design review of the Dream Chaser lifting body spacecraft and its related systems. The company also completed a database validation review based on data gathered during the company's first free-flight test in October 2013. The review confirmed that the Dream Chaser flies and navigates as designed and can perform both controlled descents and landings.

"SNC's Dream Chaser program is continuing its steady progress toward flight certification," said Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president and head of SNC's Space Systems."By completing these important milestones, SNC is confident that our vehicle design is sound and that the spacecraft can successfully fly within established and expected flight boundaries. SNC is now advancing and upgrading the Dream Chaser test spacecraft in preparation for additional flight tests in 2014."

All four of NASA's industry partners continue to meet their established milestones in developing crew transportation systems and are preparing for several more. Blue Origin is preparing to complete its two remaining milestones under an unfunded Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2) initiative extension. Later this year, NASA will review the company's propellant tank assembly and subsystem interim design. The primary structure design of Boeing's CST-100 will go through a critical design review that will determine if the spacecraft as a whole is ready for manufacturing. SNC is preparing for a review of data from numerous wind tunnel tests, which will further mature the Dream Chaser Space System design. In the coming months, SpaceX will host increasingly detailed reviews of the company's integrated systems and progress on its ground systems. SpaceX also will conduct two flight tests of Dragon's launch abort systems, powered by two SuperDraco thrusters that will push the spacecraft into the sky rather than pulling it up, as previous launch abort systems have done.

Milestones achieved by CCP's partners continue to push commercial spacecraft and transportation systems from design to reality. The successes of NASA and American aerospace companies are ushering in a new generation of space transportation capabilities, which will enable new opportunities for humans to live and work in space.

For more information about CCP and its aerospace industry partners, visit: www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew


January 28, 2014

Kennedy Space Center Observes NASA Day of Remembrance Jan. 31

NASA Kennedy Space Center will pay tribute to the crews of Apollo 1 and space shuttles Challenger and Columbia, as well as other NASA colleagues, during the agency's Day of Remembrance on Friday, Jan. 31.

At 10:30 a.m. EST, Kennedy Director Bob Cabana and Deputy Director Janet Petro will hold a wreath-laying ceremony at the Space Mirror Memorial located in the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida. Cabana will make brief remarks at the observance. Media interested in covering the service should contact Andrea Farmer at 321-223-1091.

NASA's Day of Remembrance honors members of the NASA family who lost their lives while furthering the cause of exploration and discovery.

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex will provide flowers for visitors throughout the day 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: www.nasa.gov/kennedy


January 23, 2014

NASA Launches Third Generation Communications Satellite

NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite L (TDRS-L), the 12th spacecraft in the agency's TDRS Project, is safely in orbit after launching at 9:33 p.m. EST Thursday aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Ground controllers report the satellite -- part of a network providing high-data-rate communications to the International Space Station, Hubble Space Telescope, launch vehicles and a host of other spacecraft -- is in good health at the start of a three-month checkout by its manufacturer, Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems of El Segundo, Calif. NASA will conduct additional tests before putting TDRS-L into service.

"TDRS-L and the entire TDRS fleet provide a vital service to America's space program by supporting missions that range from Earth-observation to deep space discoveries," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "TDRS also will support the first test of NASA's new deep space spacecraft, the Orion crew module, in September. This test will see Orion travel farther into space than any human spacecraft has gone in more than 40 years."

The mission of the TDRS Project, established in 1973, is to provide follow-on and replacement spacecraft to support NASA's space communications network. This network provides high data-rate communications. The TDRS-L spacecraft is identical to the TDRS-K spacecraft launched in 2013.

"This launch ensures continuity of services for the many missions that rely on the system every day," said Jeffrey Gramling, TDRS project manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

The TDRS fleet began operating during the space shuttle era with the launch of TDRS-1 in 1983. Of the 11 TDRS spacecraft placed in service to date, eight still are operational. Four of the eight have exceeded their design life.

Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems completed the TDRS-L integration and testing at its satellite factory in El Segundo in November and launch processing began after the spacecraft arrived in Florida Dec. 6.

TDRS-M, the next spacecraft in this series, is on track to be ready for launch in late 2015.

NASA's Space Communications and Navigation Program, part of the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD) at the agency's Headquarters in Washington, is responsible for the space network. The TDRS Project Office at Goddard manages the TDRS development program. Launch management of the launch service for TDRS-L is the responsibility of HEOMD's Launch Services Program based at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. United Launch Alliance provided the Atlas V rocket launch service.

To join the online conversation about TDRS on Twitter, use the hashtag #TDRS.

For more information about TDRS, visit: http://tdrs.gsfc.nasa.gov

To learn more about the many ways to connect and collaborate with NASA, visit: www.nasa.gov/connect


January 23, 2014

Sierra Nevada Corporation Announces New Space Plans for NASA's Kennedy Space Center

In the latest example of NASA Kennedy Space Center's transformation into a multi-user spaceport, Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) of Louisville, Colo., announced Thursday steps it will take to prepare for a November 2016 orbital flight of its Dream Chaser spacecraft from Florida's Space Coast.

The announcement included the purchase of an Atlas V rocket from United Launch Alliance (ULA) for the launch, sharing the Operations and Checkout (O&C) development and testing facility with Lockheed Martin Space Systems, establishing an operation center at Kennedy Space Center and using the former Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) runway at Kennedy. The steps are considered substantial for SNC and important to plans by NASA and Space Florida for Kennedy's new availability to both commercial and government customers.

"Today's announcement is the latest major milestone in the transformation of the Kennedy Space Center into a 21st century launch complex, serving both private sector and government users," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "I salute Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana for his leadership in transitioning the space coast for the future, and applaud Sierra Nevada Corporation on their decision to carry out their ground-breaking work at Kennedy."

SNC said it plans to work with ULA to launch the company's winged Dream Chaser spacecraft into orbit from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

"SNC is thrilled to confirm a launch date for our country's return to orbital human spaceflight and the restart of human spaceflight operations from Florida's Space Coast," said Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president and head of SNC's Space Systems. "We could not have done this without the spirit and engagement from our national and state governments, the best aerospace companies in the industry, and several major universities, which all hail from over 30 states. Together these passionate people will return our astronauts to space on American spacecraft and rockets launched from America's space coast right here in Florida."

The Dream Chaser spacecraft is designed to carry crew and critical cargo to destinations, as well as perform servicing and science in low-Earth orbit. SNC said intends to complete Dream Chaser missions with a landing on the 3.5-mile runway at the SLF. Space Florida, which will operate the SLF in the future, will negotiate the terms and conditions for the runway's use with SNC.

"We are pleased to see continued growth of the State's investment into KSC facilities like the O&C," said Space Florida President Frank DiBello. "It is clear that the future of commercial space growth is happening right now in Florida and we couldn't be happier to work with companies like Sierra Nevada to realize their Florida-based expansion goals."

The company said it plans to prepare the Dream Chaser spacecraft in the high bay of the O&C building at Kennedy, with Lockheed Martin performing the work. The facility also is used for the development, assembly and testing of NASA's deep-space Orion spacecraft. Dream Chaser testing will take place without disrupting Orion, NASA's flagship human exploration vehicle.

"The O&C is a state-of-the-art facility that will greatly enhance Dream Chaser's future operations through an innovative co-use plan with Orion," said Vice President and General Manager, Civil Space, Lockheed Martin Space Systems, James H. Crocker. "The result will maximize efficiency for both the Dream Chaser spacecraft and Orion and will provide continuity for our highly trained, motivated and certified workforce."

SNC also plans to lease office space at Exploration Park, located just outside Kennedy's gates.

"We have been diligent in our efforts, and I consider this a strong vote of confidence from a company that expects to be a major force in the future of human spaceflight," said Bob Cabana, Kennedy center director. "Sierra Nevada Corporation will find in our workforce and facilities the same dynamic and professional people who have made successful missions from here for more than 50 years."

Cabana said SNC's involvement with the Florida spaceport shows the conversion to a 21st century spaceport is succeeding, although work remains to keep the transformation on pace.

"We are honored that Sierra Nevada Corporation has reserved a proven Atlas V to launch its first flight test in 2016," said Michael Gass, United Launch Alliance president and CEO. "With 42 successful missions spanning a decade of operational service, the commercially-developed Atlas V is uniquely qualified to provide launch services for the Crew Transportation System. Because Atlas is already certified by NASA to fly the nation's most complex exploration missions, ULA is able to provide a wealth of flight data, design implementation, detailed system and subsystem analysis, qualification and certification documentation to support the Atlas V for human spaceflight." The Dream Chaser spacecraft is deep into development of flight hardware and specific plans ranging from ground support equipment to what to include in a mission operations center.

"I had the privilege of piloting and commanding five space shuttle flights as a NASA astronaut," said Steve Lindsey, former NASA astronaut and SNC's senior director and Dream Chaser program manager. "This included the last flight of Discovery which was processed, launched, and on March 9, 2011, made its final landing at the SLF after 39 flights and 148 million space miles. Mark, the entire SNC Dream Chaser team, and I look forward to seeing Dream Chaser continue this legacy from Discovery when it flies in 2016."

For more information about Sierra Nevada Corporation's Dream Chaser, visit: www.SNCDreamChaser.com

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


January 17, 2014

NASA Commercial Crew Partner SpaceX Tests Dragon Parachute System

Engineers and safety specialists from NASA and Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) gathered in Morro Bay, Calif., in late December to demonstrate how the company's Dragon spacecraft's parachute system would function in the event of an emergency on the launch pad or during ascent.

The test was part of an optional milestone under NASA's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative and approved by the agency in August. Through the Commercial Crew Program, SpaceX is one of NASA's commercial partners working to develop a new generation of U.S. spacecraft and rockets capable of transporting humans to and from low-Earth orbit from American soil. NASA intends to use such commercial systems to fly U.S. astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

The 12,000-pound test craft was lifted 8,000 feet above sea level by an Erickson Sky Crane helicopter and flown over the Pacific Ocean.

Following Dragon's release, two drogue parachutes were released from the top of the spacecraft to slow its decent, before the three main parachutes deployed. The craft splashed down and was quickly recovered by the Sky Crane and carried back to shore.

"The parachute test is essential for the commercial crew effort because it helps us better understand how SpaceX's system performs as it safely returns crew," said Jon Cowart, NASA Partner Integration deputy manager working with SpaceX. "Like all of our partners, SpaceX continues to provide innovative solutions based on NASA's lessons learned that could make spaceflight safer."

During a normal spacecraft landing, the parachutes will be aided by the Dragon's SuperDraco thrusters to provide a soft controlled landing. This redundancy on both the parachutes and thrusters is designed to ensure safe landings for crews.

"SpaceX is working diligently to make the Dragon spacecraft the safest vehicle ever flown," said Gwynne Shotwell, president of SpaceX.

"The parachute system is an integral part of Dragon's ability to provide a safe landing for nominal and abort conditions -- with this successful test we are well-positioned to execute a full end-to-end test of the launch escape system later this year."

The parachute test puts SpaceX a step closer to launch abort system tests. The company currently is manufacturing the spacecraft and rocket to be used for these flight tests.

SpaceX is on track to complete all 15 of its CCiCap milestones in 2014. All of NASA's industry partners, including SpaceX, continue to meet their established milestones in developing commercial crew transportation capabilities.

For more information about NASA's Commercial Crew Program and its aerospace industry partners, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew


January 14, 2014

NASA's Commercial Crew Partners Aim to Capitalize, Expand on 2013 Successes in 2014

Several companies, working closely with NASA, ended 2013 with an impressive string of achievements to build on in 2014 as the American aerospace industry continues to develop and demonstrate commercial human spaceflight capabilities with the potential to support both commercial and government customers.

The year will be pivotal for NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP) as the agency looks to announce one or more awards by August for Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contracts that would lead to operational crewed flights to the International Space Station. NASA intends to use new commercial systems to fly U.S. astronauts to and from the station within the next three years.

NASA's industry partners are pursuing ambitious milestones this year as CCP moves forward. The partners are Blue Origin of Kent, Wash.; The Boeing Company of Houston; Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) of Sparks, Nev.; and Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, Calif.

Milestones planned by the companies include sophisticated software demonstrations, a free flight to evaluate a vehicle in a simulated space environment and launches to test the first of a new generation of launch abort systems. The goal of CCP is to develop a new generation of U.S. human transportation systems capable of delivering humans to low-Earth orbit from American soil.

"Our partners have steadily moved pieces from the drawing boards and computer screens to factory floors and test stands across the country," said Kathy Lueders, acting manager of CCP. "The new year offers exciting opportunities for these companies to demonstrate the reach and potential of their hard-earned innovations."

Blue Origin test-fired its BE-3 engine in 2013. It plans this year to review its assembly of a subscale propellant tank and conduct a review of the space vehicle's subsystems design.

With the completion of a detailed design review in 2013, Boeing continued to develop its spacecraft, the CST-100, confirming in this review the service module propulsion system was ready to move into the next phases: production and integration with the CST-100 spacecraft.

Boeing's certification plan for the CST-100 detailed several aspects of its development and operation, including plans for testing components and systems along with the spacecraft as a whole -- a plan that takes the spacecraft through development to the launch pad and on to mission operations.

"Boeing's goal is to develop a safe and reliable commercial space transportation system and these reviews are vital to meet that goal," said Gennaro Caliendo, NASA's Integration Team lead for Boeing. "They help ensure that the spacecraft and its myriad systems will work together to accomplish challenging missions, which require the utmost attention to detail."

NASA worked with a team of engineers and designers from SNC in 2013 to review detailed certification and systems safety plans for its Dream Chaser Space System.

"The roadmap to understanding how safe and reliable a crew transportation system is takes a lot of details and dedication from all parties involved," said Cheryl McPhillips, NASA's Partner Integration Team lead for SNC. "When building a system that is to be trusted enough to carry humans into space, the most important part is building in safety from the start. SNC has made significant progress with its Dream Chaser to date."

SNC plans to build on that progress in 2014 with wind tunnel tests and further advancement of its innovative main propulsion and reaction control systems, and a second free-flight test of the Dream Chaser.

SpaceX's first commercial satellite launch on an upgraded Falcon 9 rocket gave NASA engineers an opportunity to review the vehicle's performance in flight following the Sept. 28 liftoff and ascent of the Falcon 9 v1.1 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The company anticipates using the upgraded rocket to launch humans to destinations in low-Earth orbit.

"With the upgrade from version 1.0 to a 1.1, SpaceX introduced a number of new systems including new engines, new software and new avionics," said Derek Hassmann, NASA Partner Integration Manager working with SpaceX. "The overall conclusion is that SpaceX is on the right track. The goal really isn't to judge their design, but to see how they cope with anomalies, see how they track their processes and control their hazards and how they're able to deal with the unexpected."

The 2014 calendar for SpaceX includes increasingly detailed reviews of the company's integrated systems and progress on its ground systems. SpaceX will conduct two flights to test the Dragon's launch abort systems, powered by two SuperDraco thrusters that will push the Dragon into the sky instead of pulling the spacecraft up as previous launch abort systems have done.

Milestones achieved by CCP's partners are continuing to push commercial spacecraft and transportation system designs closer to reality. The successes of NASA and American aerospace companies are ushering in a new generation of space transportation capabilities, which will enable new opportunities for humans to live and work in space.

For more information about NASA's Commercial Crew Program and its aerospace industry partners, visit: www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew


January 14, 2014

NASA Sets TDRS-L/Atlas V Launch Events Coverage Schedule

NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-L (TDRS-L) is scheduled to launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 rocket Jan. 23 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 41 in Florida. The 40-minute launch window extends from 9:05 to 9:45 p.m. EST.

Prelaunch media briefings and launch commentary coverage will be carried live on NASA Television and the agency's website.

The TDRS-L spacecraft is the second of three next generation satellites designed to ensure vital operational continuity for NASA by expanding the lifespan of the fleet, which now consists of eight satellites in geostationary orbit. The spacecraft provide tracking, telemetry, command, and high bandwidth data return services for numerous science and human exploration missions orbiting Earth. These include NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and the International Space Station. TDRS-L has a high-performance solar panel designed for more spacecraft power to meet the growing S-band communications requirements.

NASA Television Coverage

On Tuesday, Jan. 21, NASA Television will carry the TDRS-L prelaunch news conference and mission science briefing live beginning at 1 p.m. EST. Question-and-answer capability will be available from other NASA field centers. Call-in questions also will be taken by dialing 321-867-2468 no later than 15 minutes before the start of each briefing to establish a position in the queue.

On Thursday, Jan. 23, NASA Television coverage of the launch will begin at 6:30 p.m. and conclude after the TDRS-L spacecraft has separated from the Atlas V, which occurs one hour, forty-six minutes after launch. Live launch coverage will be carried on all NASA Television channels.

For NASA Television downlink information, schedule information and streaming video, visit: www.nasa.gov/ntv

Launch also will be available on local amateur VHF radio frequency 146.940 MHz heard within Brevard County.

NASA Web Prelaunch and Launch Coverage

Extensive prelaunch and launch day coverage of the liftoff of the TDRS-L spacecraft aboard an Atlas V rocket will be available on NASA's home page on the Internet at: www.nasa.gov

A prelaunch webcast for the TDRS-L mission will be streamed on NASA's website at noon on Wednesday, Jan. 22. Live countdown coverage through NASA's Launch Blog begins at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 23. Coverage features live updates as countdown milestones occur, as well as streaming 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: http://blogs.nasa.gov/tdrs-l

To view the webcast or to learn more about the TDRS-L mission, visit: www.nasa.gov/tdrs

Social Media

Join the conversation and follow the TDRS-L mission online by using the #TDRS on Twitter and Facebook at:
www.twitter.com/NASA_TDRS
https://www.facebook.com/NASA.TDRS

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


January 13, 2014

Melbourne School Experiment among NASA Cargo on Space Station

An experiment designed by West Shore Junior/Senior High School in Melbourne, Fla., is among the cargo that arrived at the International Space Station Sunday on the Orbital-1 cargo resupply mission.

Designed by students in grades 10-12, the experiment, entitled "A Study of How Microgravity Affects the Activity of Enzymes in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis using the Model of Papain and Gelatin," is part of the NanoRacks-National Center for Earth and Space Science Education-Falcon II payload.

This experiment seeks to explore the reasons behind why people suffering from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS, cannot break down the neurotransmitter glutamate. The inability causes the neurons to die and patients to lose control of voluntary muscles. The students selected a non-biological model to study this phenomenon, testing the effect of the enzyme papain (papaya extract) on the breakdown of proteins in gelatin by measuring the amount of protein remaining after the reaction.

Orbital-1 is NASA's first contracted resupply mission to the space station by U.S. company Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va. Orbital's Cygnus spacecraft launched atop the company's Antares rocket from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in eastern Virginia on Jan. 9.

Expedition 38 crew members captured the Orbital-1 Cygnus using the space station's robotic arm at 6:08 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 12.

Orbital developed its Antares and Cygnus with NASA and successfully completed a test mission to the space station in September, enabling the first of eight planned contract resupply flights by the company. The capsule is scheduled to remain attached to the station through mid-January. It then will return for a destructive re-entry in Earth's atmosphere.

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 had continuous human occupation 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 the Orbital-1 mission and the International Space Station, visit: www.nasa.gov/station


January 13, 2014

NASA Kennedy, Florida Institute of Technology, MIT Experiment Among NASA Cargo on Space Station

An experiment designed by NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the Florida Institute of Technology, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is among the cargo that arrived at the International Space Station Sunday on the Orbital-1 cargo resupply mission. The experiment, entitled "SPHERES-Slosh," is part of the SPHERES-Slosh payload.

This experiment seeks to examine how liquids move around inside containers in microgravity. This investigation will allow middle-school and high-school students to control the Synchronized Position Hold Engage Reorient Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) as part of a planned outreach program to continue to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.

Orbital-1 is NASA's first contracted resupply mission to the space station by U.S. company Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va. Orbital's Cygnus spacecraft launched atop the company's Antares rocket from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in eastern Virginia on Jan. 9.

Expedition 38 crew members captured the Orbital-1 Cygnus using the space station's robotic arm at 6:08 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 12.

Orbital developed its Antares and Cygnus with NASA and successfully completed a test mission to the space station in September, enabling the first of eight planned contract resupply flights by the company. The capsule is scheduled to remain attached to the station through mid-January. It then will return for a destructive re-entry in Earth's atmosphere.

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 had continuous human occupation 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 the Orbital-1 mission and the International Space Station, visit: www.nasa.gov/station


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