Redstone Rocket launch.

NASA Press Releases
2008 - 2016
National Aeronautics and Space Administration

John F. Kennedy Space Center
Kennedy Space Center, Florida 32899


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2016


December 20, 2016

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

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

NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida is counting down to support Santa Claus during his annual mission to deliver toys and other presents to children around the world.

Once again, the agency is making the latest technology available for Santa's global trip this Christmas Eve. Soon he will have access to the most accurate, up-to-date weather forecasts using the new GOES-R weather satellite.

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA's) GOES-R spacecraft was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Nov. 19, 2016, atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. Claus may want to take advantage of the satellite's advanced instruments to observe weather conditions in the western hemisphere. The satellite will help forecasters improve the accuracy of their predictions, providing increased abilities to track storm intensity and development. It also is equipped with sensors that can pick up signals from emergency beacons as part of the Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking System.

Should Santa fly his sleigh through the outer reaches of Earth's atmosphere, he also can benefit from the improved space weather sensor aboard GOES-R (renamed GOES-16 upon reaching geostationary orbit). Geosynchronous satellites orbit about 22,000 miles above the Earth, keeping them over the same location.

As St. Nick crosses the world's oceans, he may benefit from data supplied by the Jason-3 satellite launched Jan. 17, 2016, on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Jason-3 is monitoring and precisely measuring global sea surface heights and the intensification of tropical cyclones. Data from Jason-3 now is supporting scientific, commercial and practical applications related to ocean circulation and climate change.

Since Christmas of 2000, the jolly old fellow's annual trip has included one extraterrestrial destination -- the International Space Station. In addition to Santa's delivery, crews aboard the space station received supplies in July launched from Cape Canaveral. The SpaceX CRS-9 lifted off on the company's Falcon 9 rocket, boosting a Dragon spacecraft with about 4,900 pounds of supplies. The delivery included new science experiments and an International Docking Adapter. The adapter was installed on the station during a spacewalk in August to facilitate docking of commercial crew spacecraft, including the Boeing CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon.

In the near future, Claus may join astronauts after they have launched from U.S. soil to the space station aboard new spacecraft as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP). The effort is an agency partnership including Boeing and SpaceX to take astronauts to the orbiting laboratory.

CCP was formed to facilitate the development of a U.S. commercial crew space transportation capability with the goal of reliable and cost-effective access from U.S. soil to the International Space Station and low-Earth orbit.

Supporting multiple agencies and companies launching from the Florida spaceport is part of Kennedy's role as a premier multi-user spaceport, with a variety of commercial and government partners working at Kennedy and using the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF).

Kennedy's three-mile long runway will be available should Santa and his reindeer need it for a rest stop during their long, Christmas Eve trip. Space Florida now operates the SLF under a 30-year property agreement with NASA.

Kennedy is a high-tech space center, as well as home to the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, providing a 140,000-acre habitat for hundreds of wildlife species, including alligators, manatees and deer.

While pausing at Kennedy, St. Nick may want to check out some of the technology he may need when he is ready to visit future pioneers living and working on Mars. The crew module for the Orion spacecraft designated for the Exploration Mission 1, or EM-1, flight is being prepared in the high bay of the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building.

The first integrated mission of NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft, EM-1 will lift off from Launch Complex 39B at Kennedy in late 2018. On the mission, the spacecraft will venture 40,000 miles beyond the orbit of the moon, farther than any spacecraft built for humans has ever traveled, testing the systems needed for the agency's Journey to Mars.

While interplanetary exploration may be a few years away, the intervening time gives Santa Claus the opportunity to map out his gift-giving strategy no matter where astronauts venture beyond Earth.


December 15, 2016

New NASA Hurricane Tracking Mission on Track

Ignition of the rocket carrying CYGNSS satellites.
Flying over the Atlantic Ocean offshore from Daytona Beach, Florida, a Pegasus XL rocket with eight Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System, or CYGNSS, spacecraft is released from the Orbital ATK L-1011 Stargazer aircraft and the first stage ignites at 8:37 a.m. EST. The CYGNSS satellites will make frequent and accurate measurements of ocean surface winds throughout the life cycle of tropical storms and hurricanes. The data that CYGNSS provides will enable scientists to probe key air-sea interaction processes that take place near the core of storms, which are rapidly changing and play a crucial role in the beginning and intensification of hurricanes.
Credits: NASA

NASA confirmed Friday morning that all eight spacecraft of its latest Earth science mission are in good shape. The Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) will provide scientists with advanced technology to see inside tropical storms and hurricanes like never before.

CYGNSS launched into orbit at 8:37 a.m. EST Thursday aboard an Orbital ATK air-launched Pegasus XL launch vehicle. The rocket was dropped and launched from Orbital's Stargazer L-1011 aircraft, which took off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, over the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of central Florida.

"The launch of CYGNSS is a first for NASA and for the scientific community," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. "As the first orbital mission in our Earth Venture program, CYGNSS will make unprecedented measurements in the most violent, dynamic, and important portions of tropical storms and hurricanes."

The CYGNSS constellation will make frequent and accurate measurements of ocean surface winds in and near a hurricane's inner core, including regions beneath the eyewall and intense inner rainbands that previously could not be measured from space. CYGNSS will do this by using both direct and reflected signals from existing GPS satellites to obtain estimates of surface wind speed over the ocean.

"CYGNSS will provide us with detailed measurements of hurricane wind speeds, an important indicator of a storm's intensity," said Christopher Ruf, CYGNSS principal investigator at the University of Michigan's Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering in Ann Arbor. "Ultimately, the measurements from this mission will help improve hurricane track and intensity forecasts."

CYGNSS is the first orbital mission competitively selected by NASA's Earth Venture program, managed by the Earth System Science Pathfinder (ESSP) Program Office at NASA's Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia. This program focuses on low-cost, science-driven missions to enhance our understanding of the current state of Earth and its complex, dynamic system and enable continual improvement in the prediction of future changes.

"There is a feeling of pride and joy knowing that you have been a part of something that is much bigger than yourself and will potentially have a significant positive impact on the general public safety," said Jim Wells, ESSP mission manager.

Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio led the development, integration and operation of the CYGNSS microsatellites. The Space Physics Research Laboratory at the University of Michigan College of Engineering leads the overall mission execution, and its Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering department leads the science investigation. The Earth Science Division of NASA's Science Mission Directorate oversees the mission. The NASA Launch Services Program, based at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, was responsible for spacecraft/launch vehicle integration and launch management. Orbital ATK Corp. of Dulles, Virginia, provided the Pegasus XL launch service to NASA.

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


December 12, 2016

NASA Targets Wednesday for Launch of Small Satellite Constellation

Stargazer aircraft carrying a Pegasus XL Rocket
An Orbital ATK L-1011 Stargazer aircraft carrying a Pegasus XL Rocket with eight NASA Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System, or CYGNSS, spacecraft takes off from the Skid Strip at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
Credits: NASA/Ben Smegelsky

NASA is rescheduling the launch of its Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) spacecraft for no earlier than Wednesday, Dec. 14, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, during a one-hour window that opens at 8:20 a.m. EST.

Live launch commentary will begin at 7 a.m. from nearby NASA Kennedy Space Center, and carried live on NASA Television and the agency's website. A prelaunch program by NASA EDGE will begin at 6 a.m.

CYGNSS will take off aboard an Orbital Sciences ATK air-launched Pegasus XL launch vehicle. The rocket is scheduled for deployment at 8:25 a.m. over the Atlantic Ocean from Orbital's L-1011 carrier aircraft.

Monday's launch was aborted due to an issue with the launch vehicle release system on the L-1011 Stargazer. A hydraulic system operates the mechanism that releases the Pegasus rocket from the carrier aircraft. The hydraulic system functioned properly during the pre-flight checks of the airplane.

The current targeted Wednesday launch time will allow for a replacement L-1011 carrier aircraft component to arrive from Mojave, California, and be installed, as well as support the required crew rest requirements.

Once in orbit, CYGNSS will make frequent and accurate measurements of ocean surface winds throughout the lifecycle of tropical storms and hurricanes. The CYGNSS constellation consists of eight microsatellite observatories that will measure surface winds in and near a hurricane's inner core, including regions beneath the eyewall and intense inner rainbands that previously could not be measured from space.

Live coverage also will be available on social media at: http://www.twitter.com/NASAKennedy &
https://www.facebook.com/NASAKennedy

Live countdown coverage on NASA's Launch Blog begins at 7 a.m. Coverage will include live updates as countdown milestones occur, as well as video clips highlighting launch preparations and the flight.

To learn more about the CYGNSS mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/cygnss


December 08, 2016

Kennedy Director Statement on Passing of John Glenn

John Glenn & Bob Cabana in Discovery
John Glenn and NASA Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana sit in the flight deck of space shuttle Discovery in Orbiter Processing Facility-1 OPF-1. Glenn is at the space center to mark the 50th anniversary of being the first American astronaut to orbit the Earth inside the NASA Mercury Project's Friendship 7 capsule on Feb. 20, 1962. Glenn later returned to space in October 1998 as a payload specialist aboard Discovery's STS-95 mission. Glenn's launch aboard an Atlas rocket took with it the hopes of an entire nation and ushered in a new era of space travel that eventually led to Americans walking on the moon by the end of the 1960s. Glenn soon was followed into orbit by Scott Carpenter, Walter Schirra and Gordon Cooper. Their fellow Mercury astronauts Alan Shepard and Virgil "Gus" Grissom flew earlier suborbital flights. Deke Slayton, a member of NASA's original Mercury 7 astronauts, was grounded by a medical condition until the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in 1975. Shuttle Discovery currently is being prepared for display at Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va.
Credits: NASA/Cory Huston

Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana issued the following statement:

"I had just turned 13 when I watched John Glenn become the first American to orbit the earth back in February of 1962. John epitomized what it was to be a Marine, a pilot, and an astronaut, and he was one of my heroes. After I was fortunate enough to become an astronaut myself, our paths crossed many times. I so much enjoyed, and now treasure, the time I was able to spend with him discussing the early days of our space program, and the space program's importance to our country and our future.

"More than a senator, or an astronaut, John defined himself as a Marine and a pilot. He was very proud that he was able to pass his medical even when he turned 90, and he loved to talk about flying. He was definitely in his element when he returned to the astronaut office in 1998, at the age 77, to train and fly on STS-95 aboard Discovery. He had always wanted to fly in space again. He was the consummate professional, a leader of the highest caliber, and a genuinely nice man. I am so glad that I had the opportunity to get to know him and his lovely wife Annie. John was truly one of the finest gentlemen I have ever known and he will be greatly missed."


December 07, 2016

NASA Awards Launch Services Program Support Contract

NASA has awarded a contract to a.i. solutions, Inc., of Lanham, Maryland, to support the agency's Launch Services Program (LSP) in providing end-to-end launch services for NASA and NASA-sponsored payloads on commercial expendable launch vehicles.

The Expendable Launch Vehicle Integrated Support 3 (ELVIS 3) contract is cost-plus-fixed-fee, with an award-term option incentive and a provision for obtaining additional requirements on an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) basis. The base contract value is approximately $48.1 million, and the maximum ordering value of the IDIQ portion is $55. Including eight options, the total potential value of the contract is $387.6 million.

The contract has a two-month phase-in period that begins Feb. 1, 2017 followed by a 1.5-year base period extending from April 1 through Sept. 30, 2018. A one-year option period and seven award-term option periods are available, which would bring the total period of performance to 9.5 years.

Services under this contract include: supporting LSP with launch service insight activities through launch vehicle system engineering and mission analysis; providing launch site engineering support for mission planning, as well as launch vehicle and spacecraft ground processing activities; supporting LSP's safety, reliability, and quality engineering activities; providing communication engineering support, along with operations and maintenance of NASA LSP's communications and telemetry systems; performing technical integration services, information technology services, special studies, and other services as tasked; supporting LSP launch operations; and supporting NASA facility maintenance at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity portion of ELVIS 3 includes NASA facility upgrades, modifications, repairs, design work and construction required at Vandenberg.

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


December 02, 2016

NASA Sets Coverage for Briefings, Launch of Small Satellite Constellation

NASA's CYGNSS deployment - doncept drawing
An Orbital ATK L-1011 Stargazer aircraft carrying a Pegasus XL Rocket with eight NASA Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System, or CYGNSS, spacecraft takes off from the Skid Strip at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
Credits: NASA/Ben Smegelsky

The launch of NASA's Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) spacecraft is scheduled for 8:24 a.m. EST Monday, Dec. 12. News briefings, live launch commentary, photo opportunities and other media events will be held at nearby NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and carried live on NASA Television and the agency's website.

During the one-hour window, which opens at 8:19 a.m., CYGNSS will take off aboard an Orbital Sciences ATK air-launched Pegasus XL launch vehicle. The rocket is scheduled for deployment over the Atlantic Ocean from Orbital's L-1011 carrier aircraft.

CYGNSS will make frequent and accurate measurements of ocean surface winds throughout the lifecycle of tropical storms and hurricanes. The CYGNSS constellation consists of eight microsatellite observatories that will measure surface winds in and near a hurricane's inner core, including regions beneath the eyewall and intense inner rainbands that previously could not be measured from space.

Saturday, Dec. 10
Social Media Event

Kennedy will be hosting a Facebook Live event at noon from the Skid Strip runway at nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Briefers will highlight both the science involved in the CYGNSS mission, as well as the L-1011 aircraft and the Pegasus rocket, and participants will get a view inside the airplane. The event will stream live on Kennedy's Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/NASAKennedy

NASA Television Coverage Of Pegasus/CYGNSS

Because this Pegasus launch occurs with a chase plane equipped with a television camera, there will be live coverage on NASA Television beginning at 6:45 a.m. Monday, Dec. 12. Coverage begins prior to departure of the L-1011 aircraft and will conclude after final spacecraft separation, 14 1/2 minutes after Pegasus ignition. Launch commentary and audio of all Pegasus/CYGNSS briefings will be available on the "V" audio circuits, which may be dialed directly at 321-867-1220, -1240, -1260. Mission audio of the launch conductor's countdown operations without NASA TV launch commentary will be available by dialing 321-867-7135.

Also on launch day, Dec. 12, NASA Television will simulcast a special prelaunch program carried by NASA EDGE starting at 5:45 a.m. The program is live and featured on the NASA web and social media sites. It will cover the CYGNSS mission and its launch aboard the Pegasus XL rocket.

NASA Web Prelaunch And Launch Coverage Extensive prelaunch and launch day coverage of the launch of CYGNSS will be available on NASA's home page at: http://www.nasa.gov

The CYGNSS prelaunch news conference and the mission briefing will be carried live on the web Saturday, Dec. 10. A prelaunch webcast for the CYGNSS mission will be available on NASA's YouTube channel and NASA's website on Sunday, Dec. 11. Live countdown coverage through NASA's Launch Blog begins at 6:30 a.m., Monday, Dec. 12. Coverage features live updates as countdown milestones occur, as well as video clips highlighting launch preparations and the flight. For NASA's Launch Blog, visit: http://blogs.nasa.gov/cygnss

The Space Physics Research Laboratory at the University of Michigan College of Engineering in Ann Arbor leads overall mission execution in partnership with the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas. The Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering Department at the University of Michigan leads the science investigation. The Earth Science Division of NASA's Science Mission Directorate oversees the mission.

The NASA Launch Services Program at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida is responsible for spacecraft integration and launch management. Orbital ATK Corp. of Dulles, Virginia, provides the Pegasus XL launch service to NASA.

For more information about NASA's CYGNSS mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/cygnss


December 01, 2016

NASA Invites Media to Talk with Cast of Hidden Figures at Kennedy Space Center

Mary Jackson at NASA
Mary Jackson is portrayed in the upcoming film Hidden Figures by Janelle Monáe. Jackson, one of NASA's "human computers," grew up in Hampton, Virginia. After graduating with highest honors from high school, she then continued her education at Hampton Institute, earning her Bachelor of Science Degrees in Mathematics and Physical Science. Following graduation, Mary taught in Maryland prior to joining NASA.
Credits: NASA

Media are invited to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida to participate in a news conference at 3 p.m. EST Monday, Dec. 12, with cast members from the 20th Century Fox motion picture Hidden Figures.

The film is based on the book of the same title, by Margot Lee Shetterly, and chronicles the lives of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson -- African-American women working at NASA as "human computers," who were critical to the success of John Glenn's Friendship 7 mission in 1962.

The news conference will be held in the Kennedy TV Auditorium and will air on NASA Television and the agency's website.

For more information, visit NASA's From Hidden to Modern Figures webpage, at https://www.nasa.gov/modernfigures


November 22, 2016

NASA Selects Launch Services for Global Surface Water Survey Mission

NASA has selected Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, California, to provide launch services for the agency's Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission. Launch is targeted for April 2021 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The total cost for NASA to launch SWOT is approximately $112 million, which includes the launch service; spacecraft processing; payload integration; and tracking, data and telemetry support.

Designed to make the first-ever global survey of Earth's surface water, in addition to high-resolution ocean measurements, the SWOT mission will collect detailed measurements of how water bodies on Earth change over time. The satellite will survey at least 90 percent of the globe, studying Earth's lakes, rivers, reservoirs and oceans, at least twice every 21 days, aid in freshwater management around the world, to improve ocean circulation models and weather and climate predictions. The SWOT spacecraft will be jointly developed and managed by NASA and the French space agency Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES).

NASA's Launch Services Program at Kennedy Space Center in Florida will manage the SpaceX launch service. The SWOT Project office at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, manages spacecraft development for the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

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


November 20, 2016

NASA Successfully Launches NOAA Advanced Geostationary Weather Satellite

GOES-R satellite launch.
The GOES-R satellite will be NOAA's most sophisticated weather observation spacecraft and is expected to improve forecasts and tracking substantially.
Credits: NASA/Kim Shiflett
NASA successfully launched for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) the first in a series of highly advanced geostationary weather satellites Saturday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

NOAA's Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R (GOES-R) lifted off at 6:42 p.m. EST on its way to boost the nation's weather observation capabilities, leading to more accurate and timely forecasts, watches and warnings.

"The launch of GOES-R represents a major step forward in terms of our ability to provide more timely and accurate information that is critical for life-saving weather forecasts and warnings," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. "It also continues a decades-long partnership between NASA and NOAA to successfully build and launch geostationary environmental satellites."

After it reaches its final designated orbit in the next two weeks, GOES-R will be renamed GOES-16. The new satellite will become operational within a year, after undergoing a checkout and validation of its six new instruments, including the first operational lightning mapper in geostationary orbit.

"The next generation of weather satellites is finally here," said NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan. "GOES-R will strengthen NOAA's ability to issue life-saving forecasts and warnings and make the United States an even stronger, more resilient weather-ready nation."

Forecasters will use the lightning mapper to hone in on storms that represent the greatest threats. The satellite's primary instrument, the Advanced Baseline Imager, will provide images of Earth's weather, oceans and environment with 16 different spectral bands, including two visible channels, four near-infrared channels, and 10 infrared channels.

Improved space weather sensors on GOES-R will monitor the sun and relay crucial information to forecasters so they can issue space weather alerts and warnings. In all, data from GOES-R will result in 34 new or improved meteorological, solar and space weather products.

"NOAA and NASA have partnered for decades on successful environmental satellite missions," said Sandra Smalley, director of NASA's Joint Agency Satellite Division at the agency's Headquarters in Washington, which worked with NOAA to manage the development and launch of GOES-R. "Today's launch continues that partnership and provides the basis for future collaboration in developing advanced weather satellites."

Beyond weather forecasting, GOES-R also will be part of the Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking (SARSAT) System, an international satellite-based search and rescue network operated by NOAA. The satellite is carrying a special transponder that can detect distress signals from emergency beacons.

There are four satellites in the GOES-R series: –R, –S, –T and –U, which will extend NOAA's geostationary coverage through 2036.

NOAA manages the GOES-R Series Program through an integrated NOAA-NASA office. NASA's Launch Services Program, based at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, acquired and managed the United Launch Alliance Atlas V launch service and led the countdown. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, oversees the acquisition of the GOES-R series spacecraft and instruments.

For more information about GOES-R, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/content/goes-r/index.html
and http://www.goes-r.gov


November 01, 2016

NASA Sets GOES-R/Atlas V Launch

GOES on an Atlas-V - a NASA-built advanced geostationary weather satellite.
The United Launch Alliance Atlas V first stage has been lifted to the vertical position inside the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES-R) will launch aboard the Atlas V rocket in November. GOES-R will be the first satellite in a series of next-generation NOAA GOES Satellites.
Credits: NASA/Kim Shiflett
The first spacecraft in a new series of NASA-built advanced geostationary weather satellites is set to launch into orbit aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket Wednesday, Nov. 16. The two-hour launch window opens at 4:42 p.m. EST. Liftoff will occur from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Once in geostationary orbit, GOES-R will be known as GOES-16 and will provide images of weather patterns and severe storms as regularly as every five minutes or as frequently as every 30 seconds. These images can be used to aid in weather forecasts, severe weather outlooks, watches and warnings, lightning conditions, maritime forecasts and aviation forecasts. It also will assist in longer term forecasting, such as in seasonal predictions and drought outlooks. In addition, space weather conditions will be monitored constantly, including the effects of solar flares to provide advance notice of potential communication and navigation disruptions. It also will assist researchers in understanding the interactions between land, oceans, the atmosphere and climate.

NASA Television Coverage

On Monday, Nov. 14, NASA Television will carry the GOES-R prelaunch news conference beginning at 1 p.m. The NOAA GOES-R mission briefing will follow at 2 p.m.

On Tuesday, Nov. 15, the GOES-R "Social" presentations to the social media will be broadcast on NASA Television from 1 p.m. until 2:30 p.m.

On Wednesday, Nov. 16, NASA Television will simulcast a special prelaunch program carried by NASA EDGE starting at 3 p.m. The program is live and featured on the NASA web and social media sites. It will cover NOAA's GOES-R mission and its launch aboard the Atlas V rocket.

On Wednesday, Nov. 16, NASA Television launch coverage and commentary will begin at 4 p.m. Coverage will conclude after spacecraft separation from the Centaur and the GOES-R solar arrays are deployed, which occurs approximately 3 ½ hours after launch. At that time the spacecraft initial state of health can be determined and will be confirmed on the air. There is no planned post-launch news conference.

A post-launch news release also will be issued as soon as the state-of-health of the spacecraft can be verified. Representatives will be available at the Press Site to answer questions.

For NASA Television downlink information, schedule information and video, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv On launch day, "mission audio" of the launch conductor's countdown activities will be carried with a live picture of the Atlas V at the launch pad on the NASA Media Channel starting at 2 p.m. The audio also may be accessed on the NASA "V" circuits, which may be accessed by dialing 321-867-1220, -1240, -1260 or -7135 starting at that time. After launch coverage begins at 4 p.m., mission audio of the launch conductor's countdown operations without NASA TV launch commentary will continue to be available on 321-867-7135. 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 GOES-R spacecraft aboard an Atlas V rocket will be available on NASA's home page at: http://www.nasa.gov

The GOES-R prelaunch news conference and the mission briefing will be carried live on the web. A prelaunch webcast for the GOES-R mission will be available on NASA's YouTube channel and NASA's website on Tuesday, Nov. 15. Live countdown coverage through NASA's Launch Blog begins at 2:15 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 15. Coverage features live updates as countdown milestones occur, as well as video clips highlighting launch preparations and liftoff. For NASA's Launch Blog, visit: http://blogs.nasa.gov/goes-r To view the webcast or to learn more about the GOES-R mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/goes

Social Media
Join the conversation and follow the GOES-R mission online by using Twitter and Facebook at:
https://www.twitter.com/NOAASatellites
https://www.facebook.com/NOAANESDIS

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


October 28, 2016

NASA's Orion Test Capsule, Recovery Hardware

Test version of the Orion crew module
The is transported to the USS San Diego at Naval Base San Diego in California. NASA and the U.S. Navy will head out to sea with the Orion test spacecraft aboard for Underway Recovery Test 5 (URT-5) in the Pacific Ocean. During URT-5, the team will demonstrate and evaluate the recovery processes, procedures, hardware and personnel necessary for recovery of Orion on its return from a deep space mission. Orion is the exploration spacecraft designed to carry astronauts to destinations not yet explored by humans, including an asteroid and NASA's Journey to Mars. It will have emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during space travel and provide safe re-entry from deep space return velocities. Orion is scheduled to launch atop NASA's Space Launch System rocket in 2018. For more information, visit www.nasa.gov/orion.
Credits: NASA/Bill White

This is the Orion test capsule and the hardware that will be used to recover the spacecraft after its return from space, and talk with team members involved in the recovery operations, seen at the Naval Base San Diego. NASA and the U.S. Navy are conducting tests to prepare for recovery of the agency's Orion crew module following its first uncrewed flight atop the Space Launch System rocket on Exploration Mission 1, or EM-1, scheduled for 2018. This week they are at sea conducting tests aboard the USS San Diego (LPD 22) to demonstrate and evaluate the recovery processes, procedures and hardware prior to the test.

EM-1 will send Orion on a path thousands of miles beyond the moon over a course of three weeks, farther into space than human spaceflight has ever travelled before. The spacecraft will return to Earth and safely splash down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California. The mission will advance and validate capabilities required for the Journey to Mars.

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

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


October 05, 2016

Kennedy Space Center Closing in Advance of Hurricane Matthew

NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida is closing at 1 p.m. EDT today, Wednesday, Oct. 5, due to the approach of Hurricane Matthew. Across the spaceport, essential personnel are preparing facilities for the storm's arrival. Hurricane Matthew is expected to make its closest approach to the Cape Canaveral/Kennedy area overnight Thursday and into Friday morning, bringing with it the potential for heavy rain, storm surge and hurricane-force winds.

Once the storm has passed, center facilities and infrastructure will be assessed and employees will be cleared to return when it is safe to do so. The Kennedy Space Center codaphone at 321-867-2525 will be updated periodically with Kennedy hurricane status. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex will be closed on Thursday, Oct. 6, and Friday, Oct. 7. Visitor complex officials anticipate reopening Saturday, Oct. 8, at 9 a.m. after a thorough assessment of the property has been completed.


September 08, 2016

NASA's OSIRIS-REx Speeds Toward Asteroid Rendezvous

NASA's first asteroid sampling mission launched into space at 7:05 p.m. EDT Thursday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, beginning a journey that could revolutionize our understanding of the early solar system.

"Today, we celebrate a huge milestone for this remarkable mission, and for this mission team," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "We're very excited about what this mission can tell us about the origin of our solar system, and we celebrate the bigger picture of science that is helping us make discoveries and accomplish milestones that might have been science fiction yesterday, but are science facts today."

The Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft is designed to rendezvous with, study, and return a sample of the asteroid Bennu to Earth. Asteroids like Bennu are remnants from the formation of our solar system more than 4.5 billion years ago. Scientists suspect that asteroids may have been a source of the water and organic molecules for the early Earth and other planetary bodies. An uncontaminated asteroid sample from a known source would enable precise analyses, providing results far beyond what can be achieved by spacecraft-based instruments or by studying meteorites.

OSIRIS-REx separated from its United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at 8:04 p.m. The solar arrays deployed and are now powering the spacecraft.

"With today's successful launch, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft embarks on a journey of exploration to Bennu," said Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator at the University of Arizona, Tucson. "I couldn't be more proud of the team that made this mission a reality, and I can't wait to see what we will discover at Bennu."

In 2018, OSIRIS-REx will approach Bennu – which is the size of a small mountain – and begin an intricate dance with the asteroid, mapping and studying Bennu in preparation for sample collection. In July 2020, the spacecraft will perform a daring maneuver in which its 11-foot arm will reach out and perform a five-second "high-five" to stir up surface material, collecting at least 2 ounces (60 grams) of small rocks and dust in a sample return container. OSIRIS-REx will return the sample to Earth in September 2023, when it will then be transported to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston for examination.

The OSIRIS-REx mission will be the first U.S. mission to carry samples from an asteroid back to Earth and the largest sample returned from space since the Apollo era. "It's satisfying to see the culmination of years of effort from this outstanding team," said Mike Donnelly, OSIRIS-REx project manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "We were able to deliver OSIRIS-REx on time and under budget to the launch site, and will soon do something that no other NASA spacecraft has done – bring back a sample from an asteroid."

Goddard provides overall mission management, systems engineering and the safety and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx. The University of Arizona leads the science team and observation planning and processing. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver built the spacecraft. OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA's New Frontiers Program. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages the agency's New Frontiers Program for its Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Launch and countdown management is the responsibility of NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

For images, video, and more information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/osiris-rex
and http://www.asteroidmission.org


September 06, 2016

NASA Awards Safety, Mission Assurance Support Services Contract

NASA has awarded a contract to Alphaport Inc., of Cleveland, for safety and mission assurance support services at its Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Headquarters in Washington and other sites supported by Kennedy programs and projects.

The Safety and Mission Assurance Support Services (SMASS) III contract is cost-plus-fixed-fee and has a two-year base period and three one-year options, with a maximum potential value of $47.5 million.

Customers under the SMASS III contract include NASA's Ground Systems Development and Operations, Commercial Crew Program, Launch Services Program, International Space Station, and Agency Management and Operations (AMO), including Range Safety, Independent Assessment, Metrology and Calibration, and Expendable Launch Vehicle Payload Safety. Safety, quality, and mission assurance service will be accomplished through performance of activities such as risk assessments, inspections, investigations, engineering analyses, and evaluations of work performed by other contractors and NASA organizations.

Kennedy has transformed into a multi-user spaceport to support both government and commercial customers. Its dynamic infrastructure is designed to host many kinds of spacecraft and rockets sending people on America's next adventures in space – to an asteroid, Mars and other destinations in our solar system.

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


August 29, 2016

NASA's Asteroid Mission, Launch

OSIRIS-REx Asteroid mission spaceship
Artist's conception of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft at Bennu.
Credits: NASA/GSFC

NASA is gearing up to launch the United States' first mission to sample an asteroid, with the spacecraft launch Thursday, Sept. 8.

The Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft is scheduled to launch aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket between 7:05 and 9 p.m. EDT Sept. 8 from Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, neighboring Kennedy in Florida.

OSIRIS-REx will be the first U.S. mission to sample an asteroid. OSIRIS-REx will travel to the near-Earth asteroid Bennu, arriving in 2018, to survey the surface, retrieve at least 60 grams (2.1 ounces) of surface material, and return it to Earth in 2023 for study. Analysis of the sample will reveal the earliest stages of the solar system's evolution and the history of Bennu over the past 4.5 billion years.

Goddard provides overall mission management, systems engineering and the safety and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx. The University of Arizona leads the science team and observation planning and processing. Lockheed Martin Space Systems built the spacecraft. OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA's New Frontiers Program. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages the agency's New Frontiers Program for its Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Launch management is conducted by the Launch Services Program at Kennedy.


August 25, 2016

NASA Awards Launch Services Contract for Mars 2020 Rover Mission

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


August 24, 2016

NASA Prepares for NOAA's GOES-R November Launch

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

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

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

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

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


August 08, 2016

Starliner Crew Access Arm and White Room Installation

Starliner Crew Access Arm
The Crew Access Arm is seen following a water deluge systems test March 23 at a construction yard near NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The arm is being tested before being installed on Space Launch Complex 41 Crew Access Tower later this year. It will be used as a bridge by astronauts to board Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft as it stands on the launch pad atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.
Credits: NASA/Ben Smegelsky

NASA, Boeing and United Launch Alliance (ULA) will mark the installation of the CST-100 Starliner Crew Access Arm and White Room to the Crew Access Tower on Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Media are invited to view the lift and installation operations on Saturday, Aug. 13, with a back-up of Monday, Aug. 15. Operations are dependent on weather conditions and launches supported by the Air Force Eastern Range.

Representatives from NASA, Boeing and ULA will be available for interviews at SLC-41. The installation of the Crew Access Arm and White Room will complete the major construction of the first new Crew Access Tower to be constructed along Florida's Space Coast since the Apollo era. The arm will serve as the connection that astronauts will walk through prior to boarding Boeing's Starliner spacecraft when stacked atop ULA's Atlas V rocket.

SLC-41 is one of the most active launch complexes on the Space Coast, and construction of this tower has taken place between launches, with segments of the structure being built off-site and then assembled at the pad. Under a Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contract with NASA, the Starliner system, currently in development, will be certified by NASA's Commercial Crew Program 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


August 08, 2016

NASA Extends Ground Systems Support Contract at Kennedy Space Center

NASA's VAB & Launch Complex 39B
Credits: NASA

NASA has exercised the second option to extend to Sept. 30, 2018, the period of performance of its Test and Operations Support Contract (TOSC) with Jacobs Technology Inc. of Tullahoma, Tennessee.

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 Orion 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 at a value of $232.3 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 designated by NASA. Services include advanced planning and special studies, development of designated ground systems, operational support for design and development of flight hardware and ground systems, servicing and processing of spacecraft, payload, and launch vehicles, ground systems services, and logistics and other processing support services at Kennedy.

Kennedy has transformed into a multi-user spaceport to support both government and commercial customers. A dynamic infrastructure is designed to host many kinds of spacecraft and rockets sending people on America's next adventures in space – to an asteroid, to Mars and other destinations in the solar system.

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


August 01, 2016

NASA's Asteroid-Bound Spacecraft

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

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

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

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

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

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


July 29, 2016

NASA Orders Second SpaceX Crew Mission to International Space Station

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


July 28, 2016

NASA Awards Protective Services Contract at Kennedy Space Center

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

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

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

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


July 18, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


July 12, 2016

SpaceX CRS-9

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

SpaceX Dragon spacecraft
Credits: NASA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


June 21, 2016

Next SpaceX Commercial Cargo Launch Now No Earlier Than July 18

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

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

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

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


June 02, 2016

NASA Issues Notice for Kennedy Space Center Land Use

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

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

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

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

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


May 23, 2016

Next SpaceX Commercial Cargo Launch Targeted for Mid-July

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

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

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

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


May 20, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


May 11, 2016

NASA Invites Media to Robotics Mining Competition at KSC Visitor Complex

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


April 21, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


April 19, 2016

NASA Celebrates Earth Day with Public Events, Online Activities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


April 14, 2016

Swarmathon Robotics Competition at Kennedy Visitor Complex

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

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

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

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

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

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


April 08, 2016

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

Falcon 9 launch from Cape Canaveral
Credits: NASA TV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


April 06, 2016

NASA Progresses Toward SpaceX Resupply Mission to Space Station

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


March 29, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


March 23, 2016

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

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

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

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

NASA astronaut and Expedition 46 Commander Tim Kopra will capture Cygnus at about 6:40 a.m. Saturday, March 26, using the space station's Canadarm2 robotic arm to take hold of the spacecraft. Astronaut Tim Peake of ESA (European Space Agency) will support Kopra in a backup position. NASA TV coverage of capture will begin at 5:30 a.m.

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

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

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

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


March 18, 2016

NASA Targets Early April for Eighth SpaceX Cargo Launch

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

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

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

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


March 17, 2016

Fifth Orbital ATK Resupply Mission to Space Station

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


March 03, 2016

Commercial Cargo Mission

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

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

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

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


February 29, 2016

The Cygnus Orbital ATK CRS-6 Cargo Module

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

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

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

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

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


January 29, 2016

Next Commercial Space Station Cargo Mission

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


January 22, 2016

Orion Crew Module Arriving at Kennedy Space Center

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

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

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

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

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

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


January 17, 2016

Jason-3 Launches to Monitor Global Sea Level Rise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


January 14, 2016

NOAA's Jason-3 Spacecraft Ready for Launch

NASA's Jason 3 spacecraft

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

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

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

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

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

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


2015


15/12/20

Sunday launch postponed

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


December 18, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


December 18, 2015

NASA Orders Second Boeing Crew Mission to International Space Station

Boeing's Starliner spacecraft

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


December 10, 2015

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

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

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

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


December 17, 2015

NOAA's Jason-3 Spacecraft Ready for Launch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Live countdown coverage on NASA's launch blog begins at 8 a.m. PST (11 a.m. EST). Coverage features real-time updates of countdown milestones, as well as streaming video clips highlighting launch preparations and liftoff.

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



December 06, 2015

NASA Cargo Launches to Space Station Aboard Orbital ATK Resupply Mission

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


December 01, 2015

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

NASA UPDATES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


November 24, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ISS SCIENCE, RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGY PANEL ON NASA TV

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

Participants will be:

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

Participants will be:

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

Participants in the post-launch news conference will be:

NASA TV LAUNCH COVERAG
Thursday, Dec. 3 (Launch day): NASA TV live coverage will begin at 4:30 p.m. EST and conclude at approximately 7 p.m. For NASA TV downlink information, schedules and links to streaming video, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


November 20, 2015

NASA Orders SpaceX Crew Mission to International Space Station

SpaceX's facility at Launch Pad 39A

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Cygnus Cargo Module Nov. 13

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

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

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


October 30, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


October 26, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


October 22, 2015

Kennedy Space Center Issues Results of Land Use Call for Proposals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


October 14, 2015

NASA Awards Venture Class Launch Services Contracts for CubeSat Satellites

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

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

At present, launch opportunities for small satellites and science missions mostly are limited to rideshare-type arrangements, flying only when space is available on NASA and other launches. The services acquired through these new contract awards will constitute the smallest class of launch services used by NASA.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

          WATCH VIDEO



October 14, 2015

Media Accreditation Open for Orbital ATK Mission to Resupply Space Station

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

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

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

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

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


October 13, 2015

NASA Innovation Expo Highlights Kennedy Technology Advances on Journey to Mars

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

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

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

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

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

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


October 07, 2015

NASA to Announce Selections for Small Satellite Launch Contract

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

The participants are:

Social media may ask questions using #askNASA.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


September 23, 2015

NASA Awards Flight Operations and Maintenance Support Services Contract

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

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

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

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


September 03, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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


September 02, 2015

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

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

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

Additional participants are:

Through a 2011 land-use agreement between Kennedy and Space Florida, a state economic development agency, the former space shuttle hangar has been transformed to support Boeing's clean-floor factory-like concept for processing the CST-100. Kennedy has transitioned more than 50 facilities for commercial use over the past few years as the space center has evolved to a multi-user spaceport.

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


September 02, 2015

Three Space Station Crews to Answer Media Questions from Orbit

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

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

The nine crew members represent five different space agencies:

Volkov, Mogensen and Aimbetov launched aboard a Soyuz TMA-18M rocket Wednesday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The three are set to arrive at the space station on Friday, Sept. 4, and will join Kelly, Lindgren, Padalka, Kononenko, Kornienko, and Yui.

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

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

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


August 12, 2015

NASA's Modified Mobile Launcher for Space Launch System

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

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

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


August 11, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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


July 14, 2015

New Small Class Vehicle Launch Pad 39C

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

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

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

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


July 09, 2015

NASA Selects Astronauts for First U.S. Commercial Spaceflights

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

First U.S. Commercial Spaceflight Astronauts

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

Video Presentation By These Astronauts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Commercial Provider Statements

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

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

The Commercial Crew Astronauts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


June 27, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


June 26, 2015

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Opens New Exhibit Saturday

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

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

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



June 22, 2015

NASA Signs Agreement with Space Florida to Operate Historic Landing Facility

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


June 19, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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:

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:

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:

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:

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: 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: 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:

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:

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

2014

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:

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:

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 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:

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:

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:

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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2013

December 23, 2013

Kennedy Space Center in 2013: A Year of Accomplishments and Milestones

Click to view the YouTube video: 2013-NASA's Year In Review. NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida accomplished many milestones in 2013 as it continued to transition from a historically government-only launch facility to an affordable, sustainable, multiuser spaceport for both government and commercial customers. "It's been an exciting and productive year here at Kennedy," said Director Bob Cabana. "We have made tremendous progress in 2013. As challenging and exciting as this year has been, next year will be even more so as we continue to implement the plan we've charted for our future."

Launch Services Program
The Launch Services Program (LSP), managed at Kennedy, began 2013 with the successful launch of NASA's TDRS-K satellite Jan. 30 aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) in Florida.

LSP followed up with another launch, less than a month later, when NASA's Landsat Data Continuity Mission roared into space Feb. 11 aboard a ULA Atlas V rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

A second LSP launch from the west coast occurred on June 27, when NASA's Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph spacecraft was placed in orbit by the Pegasus XL rocket.

On Nov. 18, a ULA Atlas V lifted off from CCAFS and sent the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft on its way to study the Red Planet's upper atmosphere. Scientists expect data gathered during the MAVEN mission will help explain how Mars' climate has changed over time due to the loss of atmospheric gases.

MAVEN will enter a Mars orbit in July 2014 to begin its one-year research mission.

The program also successfully launched 16 CubeSats as secondary payloads on rocket launches.

Ground Systems Development and Operations Program
The Ground Systems Development and Operations (GSDO) Program continued to upgrade or modify several facilities and ground support equipment to be ready to support the processing and launch of NASA's Exploration Flight Test 1 in 2014 and the agency's Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion spacecraft in 2017.

At Launch Pad 39B, construction crews have removed the space shuttle-era flame deflector and Apollo-era brick walls from the flame trench that sits below and between the crawler tracks to make way for a new flame deflector and brick walls. On the surface of the pad, a new elevator has been constructed. All of the crawler track panels were removed so that the concrete surface below and the catacomb roof can be inspected and repaired. New crawler track panels will be installed in 2014.

Upgrades, including new roller shaft bearings, were installed on crawler-transporter 2 so it can support the added weight of the mobile launcher and SLS on its journey to Pad 39B. Crawler-transporter 1 (CT-1) received new jacking, equalizing and leveling, or JEL, hydraulic cylinders and was taken for a test ride to Launch Pad 39A to undergo a leveling and turning test. CT-1 continues to be modernized so that it is available to carry a variety of launch vehicles to the pad.

The crawlerway leading to pads A and B was upgraded to improve the foundation and prepare it to support the weight of the SLS and mobile launcher on the crawler-transporter during rollout. Workers removed the original Alabama river rock and restored the layer of lime rock below to its original depth of three feet. New river rock was added on top.

The Multi-Payload Processing Facility is undergoing extensive upgrades and modernizations to support processing of Orion spacecraft. The building, originally constructed in 1995, primarily will be used for Orion hypergolic fueling, ammonia servicing and high-pressure gas servicing and checkout. Upgrades include installing new pneumatics systems, hypergolic systems and a ground cooling system.

With crewed launches on the SLS and Orion spacecraft approaching, GSDO led the effort to select an emergency egress vehicle that future astronauts could use to quickly leave the Launch Complex 39 area in case of an emergency. The first of four refurbished Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected (MRAP) vehicles was shipped from the U.S. Army Red River Depot in Texarkana, Texas, and arrived at the center Dec. 5. They will be modified to meet NASA's emergency egress requirements.

Commercial Crew Program
Aerospace companies working closely with NASA closed out 2013 with a string of milestone achievements that the industry intends to build on in 2014 as America continues to develop a privately funded alternative to launch astronauts to destinations in low-Earth orbit. Blue Origin of Kent, Wash.; The Boeing Company of Houston; Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) of Louisville, Colo.; and Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, Calif., are NASA's commercial partners working to develop a new generation of U.S. spacecraft and rocket combinations capable of transporting humans to low-Earth orbit from American soil. NASA intends to use new commercial systems to fly U.S. astronauts to and from the International Space Station in 2017.

In February, Blue Origin signed an unfunded agreement with NASA to extend its Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2) partnership. In November, the company conducted a test of its BE-3 rocket engine on a stand at the company's West Texas facility. The engine fired for 2 1/2 minutes, then paused for several minutes before re-igniting for a minute in a pattern that simulated a suborbital mission.

In March, SNC put its Dream Chaser spacecraft through a ground resonance test at the company's facilities in Louisville, Colo. In July and August, the company performed low- and high-speed ground tow tests of the Dream Chaser at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center (DFRC) in Edwards, Calif. The first free-flight test of the Dream Chaser occurred in October over DFRC and Edwards Air Force Base. Data collected will help to characterize its aerodynamic and flight handling capabilities.

In April, Boeing successfully completed a preliminary design review of the component that would connect the company's crew capsule to the ULA Atlas V rocket. In July, two NASA astronauts conducted pressurized flight suit evaluations inside a fully outfitted test version of the company's CST-100 spacecraft. It was the first time the world got a glimpse of the crew capsule's interior. In August, Boeing conducted an interface test between Johnson Space Center's Mission Control Center and the CST-100 spacecraft, and in September, it moved one step closer to liftoff after a gauntlet of test firings of its steering jets at NASA's White Sands Test Facility in Las Cruces, N.M.

In August, the Commercial Crew Program prepared to enter its final phase of NASA certification efforts. At Kennedy, agency officials met with company representatives who are interested in competing for a contract during the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability phase.

NASA issued a request for Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contract proposals in December and answered questions from potential industrial bidders.

As the agency moved ahead with its plans and defined its needs for the next generation of American spacecraft, the companies continued their detailed development and testing regimens along with careful reviews.

Orion
Using hydraulic actuators, the Orion crew module underwent a static loads test, which simulated the massive loads the spacecraft would experience during its mission, in the Operations and Checkout Building in April.

During the year, the main components of the Launch Abort System, or LAS, were delivered to Kennedy and are being processed in the Launch Abort System Facility. In May, the launch abort motor was connected to the attitude control motor. The LAS is designed to safely pull the Orion crew module away from the launch vehicle in the event of an emergency on the launch pad or during the initial ascent of the SLS rocket.

In June, a series of tests on the explosive bolts that separate Orion from the launch abort system were performed on the ground test vehicle in the Launch Equipment Test Facility. Data was collected on the effect of the shock waves during the explosive bolt separation. In August, a stationary recovery test was performed on the Orion boilerplate test article and support equipment aboard a U.S. Navy ship at the Naval Station Norfolk near NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia. The stationary recovery test allowed the teams to demonstrate and evaluate the recovery processes, procedures, hardware and personnel in a controlled environment before conducting a second recovery test next year in open waters.

In October, the Orion crew module was powered on for the first time. The spacecraft's avionics system was installed and powered up for a series of systems tests that marked a major milestone in the final year of preparations for flight.

In December, the heat shield for the Orion spacecraft arrived at Kennedy aboard the Super Guppy aircraft and was transported to the Operations and Checkout Building for processing. The largest of its kind ever built, the heat shield is planned for installation on the Orion crew module in March 2014. Also in December, one of three main parachutes for Orion arrived at Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility and was transported to the Operations and Checkout Building high bay for processing.

Center Planning and Development
The Center Planning and Development Directorate facilitated agreements with several companies for the use of some of Kennedy's legacy facilities.

A new partnership agreement with United Paradyne Corp. of Santa Maria, Calif., will allow the company to use the shuttle-era Hypergolic Maintenance Facility. A new partnership agreement with PaR Systems Inc. of Shoreview, Minn., will give the company use of the Hangar N facility and its unique nondestructive equipment. An agreement with Micro Aerospace Solutions of Melbourne, Fla., will allow the use of an offline hardware processing "clean room" laboratory and office space in the center's Space Station Processing Facility.

International Space Station and Payload Processing
NASA's Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science (OPALS), an optical technology demonstration experiment for the space station, arrived at the Space Station Processing Facility (SSPF) July 11 from the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

The nearly 600-pound experiment is being prepared for delivery to the International Space Station aboard a SpaceX Dragon commercial resupply capsule on the company's Falcon 9 rocket early next year.

Kennedy supported the space station by integrating two Orbital Replacement Units and successfully demonstrating the high-pressure Nitrogen Oxygen Recharge System capability, which will be ready for flight fill operations in 2014. Also, workers outfitted more than 10 science labs that supported the SpaceX-2 mission.

Technology
A meteorological airship containing a "Cloud Lab" flew over Kennedy in September, carrying components of NASA's Microorganisms in the Stratosphere (MIST) experiment. The microbes for MIST were developed by NASA scientists at the Space Life Sciences Laboratory near the center.

In December, NASA's Project Morpheus prototype lander underwent two free-flight tests at the north end of Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility, near the autonomous landing and hazard avoidance technology (ALHAT) field. The field contains rocks, craters and other hazards. Project Morpheus tests ALHAT and an engine that runs on liquid oxygen and methane, or green propellants, into a fully operational lander that could deliver cargo to other planetary surfaces.

To learn more about the other missions and programs NASA's Kennedy Space Center supports, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/kennedy


December 23, 2013

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

NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida is counting down to support Santa Claus during his annual mission to deliver toys and other presents to children around the world.

Santa's with his reindeer. Claus can take advantage of agency technology advances, such as the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) system, already aiding the annual Christmas Eve flight.

Not long after Claus' trip last year, NASA launched TDRS-K, part of the next-generation series of space-based communication satellites providing tracking, telemetry, command and high-bandwidth data return services. Claus now has this system available, providing almost uninterrupted communications services with his mission control center at the North Pole.

Claus also will have access to up-to-date imagery of the changes on the Earth provided by the Landsat Data Continuity Mission spacecraft, which launched in February. This could aid Claus in knowing exactly where to touch down in areas of recent population growth.

As Santa makes his way along Florida's Space Coast, Kennedy's mammoth Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) always makes an easy-to-spot landmark. Spaceport employees celebrated the 50th anniversary of the VAB this year and modifications are under way that will result in the ability to process multiple vehicles such as the Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft while simultaneously restacking toys into Santa's sleigh.

As Claus and his reindeer make their deliveries, they could make a fly-by of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex where the space shuttle Atlantis now is on display following its grand opening in late June.

If Claus and his reindeer need a rest stop during their long Christmas Eve trip, they are invited to use Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility. There, Claus could check out a rock-and crater-filled planetary scape that has been built so engineers can test an autonomous landing and hazard avoidance technology, or ALHAT. NASA engineers are testing the new system with Project Morpheus and a similar system could prove useful as Claus touches down in varied terrains around the world.

Claus has one extraterrestrial destination this year -- the International Space Station. Crews aboard the orbiting laboratory recently celebrated its 15th anniversary. Soon, astronauts can join Santa by flying aboard new spacecraft launching from U.S. soil; NASA's Commercial Crew Program is partnering with private industry on launch vehicle and spacecraft development options for taking astronauts to low-Earth orbit and the station.

Like Claus' annual world-wide delivery mission, the space station is a multinational effort including the United States, Japan, Canada, Russia and the 11 members of the European Space Agency -- Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. And like Santa's sleigh, the space station can be seen flying through the sky from locations around the world: http://spotthestation.nasa.gov/

To read more about the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite system, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/1dOpbLi

To read more about the Landsat, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/Obsb9q

To learn more about the Vehicle Assembly Building's 50th Anniversary, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/1bLVLOs

To learn more about the International Space Station, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/1dOptld

To learn more about the other missions and programs NASA's Kennedy Space Center supports, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/kennedy


December 19, 2013

NASA Awards Launch Services Contract for InSight Mission

NASA has selected United Launch Services LLC of Centennial, Colo., to launch the Interior Exploration Using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) mission to Mars.

InSight will launch in March 2016 aboard an Atlas V 401 rocket from Space Launch Complex 3E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The total cost for NASA to launch InSight is approximately $160 million, including spacecraft processing, payload integration, tracking, data and telemetry, and other launch support requirements.

InSight is scheduled to land on Mars in September 2016 to begin a two-year science mission. InSight is a lander that will address one of the most fundamental issues of planetary and solar system science -- understanding the processes that shaped the rocky planets of the inner solar system more than 4 billion years ago. The mission will investigate the interior structure and processes of Mars to understand better the evolution of rocky planets such as Earth. InSight will perform this science using two instrument packages.

NASA's Launch Services Program at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida is responsible for management and oversight of the Atlas V launch services. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., provides management for the InSight mission. United Launch Services LLC operates as a subsidiary of United Launch Alliance.

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

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


December 9, 2013

NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite Arrives at Kennedy Space Center

NASA's newest Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) is in a temporary home at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida waiting to be attached to a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket that will take it into Earth orbit Thursday, Jan. 23.

TDRS Arrives at Kennedy Space Center The TDRS-L spacecraft arrived at Kennedy Friday, Dec. 6. After being unloaded from a U.S. Air Force C-17 aircraft, it was unpacked and inspected to ensure it sustained no damage on its flight from the Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems satellite factory in El Segundo, Calif.

As a vital information pipeline for space-based research and exploration, TDRS fulfills NASA's broadest communication demands. For more than 30 years, the TDRS fleet has provided critical communication support to NASA's human spaceflight endeavors that began during the space shuttle era and continues with support of the International Space Station. It also provides communications support to an array of science missions, as well as several launch vehicles.

"The launch of TDRS-L 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 in Greenbelt, Md.

TDRS-L is the second of three replenishment satellites for the TDRS constellation, which currently consists of eight spacecraft. TDRS-K was launched in January 2013. The last of the three, TDRS-M, is on track to be ready for launch as early as 2015. Of the 11 TDRS satellites launched, eight still are operational. Four of those already are beyond their design life. Two have been retired. One was lost in a space shuttle accident.

These three constitute the third-generation of TDRS satellites, which changes the location for communication signal processing of some services from the spacecraft to the ground. This change supports the evolving needs of the users, providing more flexibility and unique tailoring options for use of these services, including unscheduled access on demand.

NASA's Space Communications and Navigation Program, a part of the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, is responsible for the TDRS network. Launch management of the Atlas V launch service for TDRS-L is the responsibility of the mission directorate's Launch Services Program at Kennedy.

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

For more information about the Space Communications and Navigation Program, visit: www.nasa.gov/scan

For more information about NASA's launch services, visit: www.nasa.gov/launchservices


December 4, 2013

Heat Shield for NASA's Orion Spacecraft Arrives at Kennedy Space Center

NASA's Orion spacecraft is just about ready to turn up the heat. The spacecraft's heat shield arrived at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida Wednesday night aboard the agency's Super Guppy aircraft.

The heat shield, the largest of its kind ever built, is to be unloaded Thursday and is scheduled for installation on the Orion crew module in March, in preparation for Orion's first flight test in September 2014.

"The heat shield completion and delivery to Kennedy, where Orion is being prepared, is a major step toward Exploration Flight Test-1 next year," said Dan Dumbacher, NASA's deputy associate administrator for exploration systems development in Washington. "Sending Orion into space for the first time is going to give us crucial data to improve our design decisions and develop Orion to send humans on future missions to an asteroid and Mars."

The heat shield began its journey in January 2012 in Colorado, at Orion prime contractor Lockheed Martin's Waterton Facility near Denver. That was the manufacturing site for a titanium skeleton and carbon fiber skin that give the heat shield its shape and provide structural support during landing. They were shipped in March to Textron Defense Systems near Boston, where they were used in construction of the heat shield itself.

Textron installed a fiberglass-phenolic honeycomb structure on the skin, filled each of the honeycomb's 320,000 cells with the ablative material Avcoat, then X-rayed and sanded each cell to match Orion's design specifications. The Avcoat-treated shell will shield Orion from the extreme heat it will experience as it returns to Earth. The ablative material will wear away as it heats up during Orion's re-entry into the atmosphere, preventing heat from being transferred to the rest of the capsule.

"Many people across the country have poured a tremendous amount of hard work into building this heat shield," said Orion Program Manager Mark Geyer. "Their efforts are a critical part of helping us understand what it takes to bring a human-rated spacecraft back safely from deep space."

Before and during its manufacture, the heat shield material was subjected to arc-jet testing at NASA's Ames Research Center in California and NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. Arc jets heat and expand gasses to very high temperatures and supersonic and hypersonic speeds, thus simulating the heating conditions that a returning spacecraft will experience.

The heat shield delivered to Kennedy will be used during Exploration Flight Test-1, a two-orbit flight that will take an uncrewed Orion capsule to an altitude of 3,600 miles. The returning capsule is expected to encounter temperatures of almost 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit as it travels through Earth's atmosphere at up to 20,000 mph, faster than any spacecraft in the last 40 years.

Data gathered during the flight will influence decisions about design improvements on the heat shield and other Orion systems, authenticate existing computer models, and innovative new approaches to space systems and development. It also will reduce overall mission risks and costs for future Orion missions, which include exploring an asteroid and Mars.

To learn more about Orion and Exploration Flight Test-1, visit www.nasa.gov/orion


December 3, 2013

NASA Commercial Crew Partner Blue Origin Test-Fires New Rocket Engine

NASA commercial crew partner Blue Origin of Kent, Wash., announced it has tested a new, hydrogen- and oxygen-fueled engine designed to lift the company's crewed Space Vehicle on future missions out of Earth's atmosphere. Blue Origin is one of the American companies developing next generation rockets and spacecraft capable of carrying humans to low-Earth orbit.

Blue Origin conducted the test of its BE-3 rocket engine on a stand at the company's West Texas facility near Van Horn on Nov. 20. The engine fired for 2 1/2 minutes, then paused for several minutes before re-igniting for a minute in a pattern that simulated a suborbital mission.

NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP) has been working with the company on several aspects of the engine's development. The program supported testing of the BE-3 under the agency's Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2) initiative and continues to offer technical support. NASA and Blue Origin also are partnered in review and tests of the company's Space Vehicle design.

"Blue Origin has made steady progress since the start of our partnership under the first Commercial Crew Development round," said Phil McAlister, NASA's director of Commercial Spaceflight Development. "We're thrilled to see another successful BE-3 engine test fire."

During the test, the engine demonstrated a full mission duty cycle, mimicking the flight of the company's suborbital New Shepard vehicle by thrusting at 110,000 pounds in a 145-second boost phase, shutting down to simulate coast through apogee. The engine then restarted and throttled down to 25,000 pounds thrust to simulate controlled vertical landing.

Blue Origin's Orbital Launch Vehicle will use the BE-3 engine to propel the company's Space Vehicle into orbit. Unlike other boosters that burn once and then fall away to never be used again, the Reusable Booster System is designed to send a crew into space and then make a soft landing on Earth before being refurbished for another mission. The Space Vehicle is envisioned to carry people into orbit and could potentially carry astronauts to the International Space Station.

"Working with NASA accelerated our BE-3 development by over a year in preparation for flight testing on our New Shepard suborbital system and ultimately on vehicles carrying humans to low-Earth orbit," said Rob Meyerson, president and program manager of Blue Origin. "The BE-3 is a versatile, low-cost hydrogen engine applicable to NASA and commercial missions."

The engine firing comes about a year after the BE-3's thrust chamber was tested at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. Developing a new rocket engine is one of the most difficult aspects of launch vehicle design because of the dynamics involved with creating a powerful machine that can safely operate in a range of -423 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature of liquid hydrogen, to more than 6,000 degrees Fahrenheit in the engine during a firing. The BE-3 is the first new liquid-hydrogen rocket engine built for production since the RS-68, which was developed more than a decade ago for the Delta IV rocket family.

All of NASA's industry partners, including Blue Origin, 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: www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew


November 19, 2013

NASA Advances Effort to Launch Astronauts Again from U.S. Soil to Space Station

Commercial Crew Request for Proposals Finalizes Development and Certification Process

NASA took another step Tuesday to restore an American capability to launch astronauts from U.S. soil to the International Space Station by the end of 2017, subject to the availability of adequate funding. The agency's Commercial Crew Program (CCP) requested proposals from U.S. companies to complete development of crew transportation systems that meet NASA certification requirements and begin conducting crewed flights to the space station.

"NASA is committed to launching American astronauts from U.S. soil in the very near future, and we're taking a significant step toward achieving that goal today," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "Our American industry partners have already proven they can safely and reliably launch supplies to the space station, and now we're working with them to get our crews there as well. However, we will require that these companies provide spacecraft that meet the same rigorous safety standards we had for the space shuttle program, while providing good value to the American taxpayer."

This phase of the CCP, called Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap), will enable NASA to ensure a company's crew transportation system is safe, reliable and cost-effective. The certification process will assess progress throughout the production and testing of one or more integrated space transportation systems, which include rockets, spacecraft and ground operations. Requirements under CCtCap also will include at least one crewed flight test to the space station before certification can be granted.

"The U.S. commercial space industry has made tremendous progress designing and developing the next generation of U.S. crew transportation systems for low-Earth orbit," said William Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations in Washington. "Finalizing these systems in accordance with NASA's certification requirements will not be easy. The acquisition approach we are using is designed to leverage the innovative power of industry with the expertise, skill and hard-learned lessons from NASA. This request for proposals begins the journey for a new era in U.S. human spaceflight."

As with all of NASA's human spaceflight activities, astronaut safety will be a priority. CCtCap ensures a strong emphasis on crew safety through its requirements, including NASA insight throughout development and thorough testing of the space transportation systems. "NASA is taking its years of expertise in human spaceflight systems and partnering with industry to develop a safe and reliable crew transportation system for NASA and for the nation," said Phil McAlister, NASA's director of Commercial Spaceflight Development. "These certification contracts are part of a strategy that will help ensure human safety."

NASA expects to award one or more CCtCap contracts no later than September 2014.

CCtCap is the second phase of a two-phased effort that began last year. It builds on the accomplishments of a first certification phase, called Certification Products Contracts (CPC). CPC required companies to deliver a range of products that establish a baseline for their integrated system certification. CCtCap is open to any company with systems at the design maturity level consistent with the completion of the first certification phase.

CCtCap contractors will plan, manage and execute long-term production and operational plans for their systems. The firm-fixed price contracts, based on the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR), will include at least one crewed flight test to verify the spacecraft can dock to the space station and that all its systems perform as expected. CCtCap 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.

While CCtCap will enable NASA to acquire a capability to transport crews to the space station, systems developed by U.S. industry can be marketed and used by other customers.

As NASA works with U.S. industry partners to develop commercial spaceflight capabilities to low-Earth orbit, the agency also is developing the Orion spacecraft and the Space Launch System (SLS), a crew capsule and heavy-lift rocket to provide an entirely new capability for human exploration. Designed to be flexible for launching spacecraft for crew and cargo missions, SLS and Orion will expand human presence beyond low-Earth orbit and enable new missions of exploration across the solar system. www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew


November 15, 2013

NASA Commercial Crew Partner SpaceX Achieves Milestone in Safety Review

Engineers and safety specialists from NASA and Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) met in late October to review the safety of the Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket being developed to launch humans into low-Earth orbit later this decade.

SpaceX logo The detailed overview of safety practices the company is implementing was a major milestone for SpaceX under a funded Space Act Agreement with NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP).

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 new commercial systems to fly U.S. astronauts to and from the International Space Station within the next four years.

A team of NASA engineers went to SpaceX headquarters for two days of detailed presentations and question-and-answer sessions that reviewed the company's safety practices.

"The milestone is not the end of the safety discussion, it's really the beginning," said Jon Cowart, deputy manager of the NASA Partnership Integration Team for CCP. "Because we've been doing this for so long, we all have a pretty good idea of what works and what doesn't and how safety processes can be strengthened to increase our confidence in the system."

Teams from NASA and SpaceX are working closely together to make sure the innovative technologies employed meet the rigorous requirements that come with flying crews in space. "We greatly appreciate NASA's support and feedback throughout this process," said Garrett Reisman, commercial crew project manager at SpaceX and a former astronaut. "Together we are taking all the necessary steps to make Dragon the safest, most reliable spacecraft ever flown." SpaceX already has flown several cargo missions to the space station using its Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket, but those spacecraft have not yet transported astronauts. Through NASA's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative, the company is deep into the design process of the integrated crew-capable Falcon 9 and Dragon spacecraft.

SpaceX plans to test its launch abort system next year at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Two flight tests will demonstrate the ability of the Dragon spacecraft abort system to lift an uncrewed spacecraft clear of a simulated emergency.

The first test will simulate an abort from the pad prior to launch in the second quarter of 2014. The second test, targeted for the third quarter of 2014, calls for the spacecraft to separate from a Falcon 9 booster in flight and parachute safely into the Atlantic Ocean. The company is building the spacecraft for the flight tests, and manufacturing of the rocket is expected to begin shortly.

This safety review was the ninth milestone for SpaceX under CCiCap. The company is on track to complete all 15 of its CCiCap milestones by the third quarter of 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: www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew


November 14, 2013

NASA Awards Ground Systems Development and Operations Support Contract

NASA has selected Millennium Engineering and Integration Company of Satellite Beach, Fla., to provide support to the Ground Systems Development and Operations (GSDO) Program at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The cost-plus-fixed-fee contract includes a base period, four option periods and an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity (ID/IQ) component. The contract will begin in February 2014, following a 30-day phase-in period. With all options and ID/IQ included, the total potential contract value is $97.2 million and the potential performance period is five years.

GSDO provides support to NASA's Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket. The contract work includes ground and spaceflight systems planning and design; project management and integration; operations, integration and analysis; technical requirements development; management and compliance; and cost, risk and schedule integration and analysis.

Subcontractors to Millennium are Avatar Technologies of Melbourne, Fla.; Booz Allen Hamilton of McLean, Va.; All Points Logistics LLC of Merritt Island, Fla.; and Red Canyon Engineering and Software of Denver.

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


November 14, 2013

NASA Administrator to View Orion Spacecraft and MAVEN Launch Preparations

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will view the latest progress on NASA's Orion spacecraft and launch preparations for the next Mars mission at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sunday, Nov. 17.

Media are invited to meet with Bolden at 2:30 p.m. EST in Kennedy's Operations and Checkout Building where the Orion crew capsule is being prepared for its first flight test in 2014. At 3:30 p.m., media then can accompany Bolden to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 41 where NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft will launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket on a 10-month journey to the Red Planet on Monday, Nov. 18.

MAVEN launch credentials will be used for these events. For U.S. media who require new credentials to cover these events, contact the Kennedy Public Affairs Office at 321-867-2468. New credentialing for international media is closed.

Media will leave Kennedy's Press Site for the Operations and Checkout Building at 2 p.m. and return from Space Launch Complex 41 by 4:35 p.m. Media wishing only to attend the Orion event may return to the Press Site at 3 p.m. Journalists who plan only to attend the MAVEN event may depart from the Press Site at 2:30 p.m.

For information about NASA's programs and missions, including Orion and MAVEN, visit: www.nasa.gov


November 18, 2013

NASA Launches Mission to Study Upper Atmosphere of Mars

A NASA mission that will investigate how Mars lost its atmosphere and abundant liquid water launched into space at 1:28 p.m. EST Monday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

MAVEN launches for Mars. The agency's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft separated from an Atlas V Centaur rocket's second stage 53 minutes after launch. The solar arrays deployed approximately one hour after launch and currently power the spacecraft. MAVEN now is embarking on a 10-month interplanetary cruise before arriving at Mars next September.

"MAVEN joins our orbiters and rovers already at Mars to explore yet another facet of the Red Planet and prepare for human missions there by the 2030s," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "This mission is part of an integrated and strategic exploration program that is uncovering the mysteries of the solar system and enabling us to reach farther destinations."

In the next four weeks, MAVEN will power on and check out each of its eight instruments. Upon arrival at Mars in September, the spacecraft will execute an orbit insertion maneuver, firing six thrusters that will allow it to be captured by Mars' orbit. In the following five weeks, MAVEN will establish itself in an orbit where it can conduct science operations, deploy science appendages, and commission all instruments before starting its one-Earth-year scientific primary mission.

"After 10 years of developing the mission concept and then the hardware, it's incredibly exciting to see MAVEN on its way," said Bruce Jakosky, principal investigator at the University of Colorado Boulder's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (CU/LASP) in Boulder, Colo. "But the real excitement will come in 10 months, when we go into orbit around Mars and can start getting the science results we planned."

MAVEN is traveling to Mars to explore how the Red Planet may have lost its atmosphere over billions of years. By analyzing the planet's upper atmosphere and measuring current rates of atmospheric loss, MAVEN scientists hope to understand how Mars transitioned from a warm, wet planet to the dry desert world we see today.

"The team overcame every challenge it encountered and still kept MAVEN on schedule and on budget," said David Mitchell, MAVEN project manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "The government, industry and university partnership was determined and focused to return to Mars sooner, not later."

MAVEN's principal investigator is based at CU/LASP. The university provided science instruments and leads science operations, as well as education and public outreach, for the mission. Goddard manages the project and provided two of the science instruments for the mission. Lockheed Martin built the spacecraft and is responsible for mission operations. The University of California at Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory provided science instruments for the mission. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., provides navigation support, Deep Space Network support, and Electra telecommunications relay hardware and operations.

For more information about the MAVEN mission, visit NASA's mission website: www.nasa.gov/maven


November 7, 2013

NASA's Orion Sees Flawless Fairing Separation in Second Test

The three massive panels protecting a test version of NASA's Orion multipurpose crew vehicle successfully fell away from the spacecraft Wednesday in a test of a system that will protect Orion during its first trip to space next year.

The panels, called fairings, encase Orion's service module and shield it from the heat, wind and acoustics it will experience during the spacecraft's climb into space. The service module, located directly below the crew capsule, will contain the in-space propulsion capability for orbital transfer, attitude control and high-altitude ascent aborts when Orion begins carrying humans in 2021. It also will generate and store power and provide thermal control, water and air for the astronauts. The service module will remain connected to the crew module until just before the capsule returns to Earth. During Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1), the spacecraft's flight test next year, a test service module will be attached to the capsule.

"Hardware separation events like this are absolutely critical to the mission and some of the more complicated things we do," said Mark Geyer, Orion program manager at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. "We want to know we've got the design exactly right and that it can be counted on in space before we ever launch."

Unlike conventional rocket fairings, these panels are designed to support half of the weight of Orion's crew module and launch abort system during launch and ascent, which improves performance, saves weight and maximizes the size and capability of the spacecraft. Each panel is 14 feet high and 13 feet wide.

The fairings' work is done soon after launch. They must be jettisoned when Orion has reached an altitude of about 560,000 feet. To make that possible, six breakable joints and six explosive separation bolts are used to connect the fairing panels to the rocket and each other. In a carefully timed sequence, the joints are fired apart, followed shortly by the bolts. Once all of the pyrotechnics have detonated, six spring assemblies will push the three panels away, leaving the service and crew module exposed to space as they travel onward.

This test, conducted by Orion's primary contractor, Lockheed Martin, at the company's Sunnyvale, Calif., facility, was the second test of the fairing separation system. The first occurred in June, when one of the three fairing panels did not completely detach. Engineers determined the issue was caused when the top edge of the fairing came into contact with the adapter ring and kept it from rotating away and releasing from the spacecraft. Because of the engineers' confidence in successfully eliminating the interference, they maintained plans to increase this week's test fidelity by emulating the thermal loads experienced by the fairings during ascent. They used strip heaters to heat one of the fairings to 200 degrees Fahrenheit and simulate the temperatures the panels will experience.

Exploration Flight Test-1 is scheduled for September 2014. During that flight, an uncrewed Orion will launch to an altitude of 3,600 miles, more than 15 times farther into space than the International Space Station. It will orbit Earth twice before re-entering the atmosphere as fast as 20,000 mph.

The data gathered during the flight will influence design decisions, authenticate existing computer models, and innovative new approaches to space systems development It also will reduce overall mission risks and costs for subsequent Orion missions to an asteroid and eventually Mars.

For information about Orion and EFT-1, visit: www.nasa.gov/orion


October 28, 2013

NASA's Orion Spacecraft Comes to Life

NASA's first-ever deep space craft, Orion, has been powered on for the first time marking a major milestone in the final year of preparations for flight.

Orion's avionics system was installed on the crew module and powered up for a series of systems tests at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida last week. Preliminary data indicate Orion's vehicle management computer, as well as its innovative power and data distribution system -- which use state-of-the-art networking capabilities -- performed as expected.

All of Orion's avionics systems will be put to the test during its first mission, Exploration Flight Test-1(EFT-1), targeted to launch in the fall of 2014.

"Orion will take humans farther than we've ever been before, and in just about a year we're going to send the Orion test vehicle into space," said Dan Dumbacher, NASA's deputy associate administrator for exploration systems development in Washington. "The work we're doing now, the momentum we're building, is going to carry us on our first trip to an asteroid and eventually to Mars. No other vehicle currently being built can do that, but Orion will, and EFT-1 is the first step."

Orion provides the United States an entirely new human space exploration capability -- a flexible system that can to launch crew and cargo missions, extend human presence beyond low-Earth orbit, and enable new missions of exploration throughout our solar system.

EFT-1 is a two-orbit, four-hour mission that will send Orion, uncrewed, more than 3,600 miles above the Earth's surface --15 times farther than the International Space Station. During the test, Orion will return to Earth, enduring temperatures of 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit while traveling 20,000 miles per hour, faster than any current spacecraft capable of carrying humans. The data gathered during the flight will inform design decisions, validate existing computer models and guide new approaches to space systems development. The information gathered from this test also will aid in reducing the risks and costs of subsequent Orion flights.

"It's been an exciting ride so far, but we're really getting to the good part now," said Mark Geyer, Orion program manager. "This is where we start to see the finish line. Our team across the country has been working hard to build the hardware that goes into Orion, and now the vehicle and all our plans are coming to life."

Throughout the past year, custom-designed components have been arriving at Kennedy for installation on the spacecraft -- more than 66,000 parts so far. The crew module portion already has undergone testing to ensure it will withstand the extremes of the space environment. Preparation also continues on the service module and launch abort system that will be integrated next year with the Orion crew module for the flight test.

The completed Orion spacecraft will be installed on a Delta IV heavy rocket for EFT-1. NASA is also developing a new rocket, the Space Launch System, which will power subsequent missions into deep space, beginning with Exploration Mission-1 in 2017.

For information about Orion and EFT-1, visit: www.nasa.gov/orion


October 24, 2013

NASA Partner SpaceX Completes Review of 2014 Commercial Crew Abort Test

In preparation for a summer 2014 test, NASA partner Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) recently laid out its plan to demonstrate the Dragon spacecraft's ability to carry astronauts to safety in the event of an in-flight emergency.

This review of the in-flight abort test plan provided an assessment of the Dragon's SuperDraco engines, the software that would issue the abort command, and the interface between the Dragon spacecraft and the Falcon 9 rocket on which the spacecraft will be launched.

"It's critical to have a launch abort system in which NASA and SpaceX can have confidence," said Phil McAlister, director of Commercial Spaceflight Development at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "When you put humans aboard, safety and reliability are paramount and this review and the upcoming tests will help prove their space transportation system is on the right track."

Experts from NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration attended the review of the in-flight abort test plan Sept. 17 at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif. Attendees also had the opportunity to view the Dragon test spacecraft, which is being manufactured for an upcoming pad abort test and, potentially, the in-flight abort test.

"With NASA's support, SpaceX continues to implement the necessary modifications to equip Dragon to fly crew," said Garrett Reisman, commercial crew project manager at SpaceX. "SpaceX and NASA believe in rigorous flight testing and we are looking forward to putting our SuperDraco launch abort system through these critical tests, starting with the pad abort test in the spring and followed by the in-flight abort test in the summer."

The in-flight abort test will take place along Florida's space coast. During the test, a Dragon spacecraft will launch on a standard Falcon 9 rocket and an abort command will be issued approximately 73 seconds into the flight. At that point, the spacecraft will be flying through the area of maximum dynamic pressure, or Max Q, where the combination of air pressure and speed will cause maximal strain on the spacecraft.

Dragon will be outfitted with about 270 special sensors to measure a wide variety of stresses and acceleration effects on the spacecraft. An instrumented mannequin, similar to a crash test dummy, also will be inside. The spacecraft's parachutes will deploy for a splashdown in the Atlantic, where a ship will be pre-positioned for simulated rescue operations. The test spacecraft will be returned to Port Canaveral by barge so data can be retrieved and incorporated into the system's design.

SpaceX is one of three companies working under NASA's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative to develop spaceflight capabilities that eventually could provide launch services to transport NASA astronauts to the International Space Station from U.S. soil. This review was the eighth milestone for SpaceX under CCiCap. The company is on track to complete all 15 of its CCiCap milestones by the summer of 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: www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew


September 26, 2013

NASA Awards Construction Task Order for Kennedy

NASA has awarded a task order to Sauer Inc. of Jacksonville, Fla., to provide construction services for a new computer data center building at Kennedy Space Center.

The firm-fixed price task order was awarded against the General Construction indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract Sept. 19. It has a maximum value of $11.1 million with a performance period of one year.

Sauer Inc. will build the Kennedy Data Center (KDC) computer data center building. The KDC will facilitate the closure of five existing inefficient data centers (totaling 25,000 square feet of compute space), in exchange for one state-of-the-art, Tier 2 power-efficient facility (with 5,300 square feet of compute space). The new facility will allow Kennedy to effectively meet the objectives of OMB's Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative, which targets reductions to the number of data centers and associated information technology systems at federal installations, which will result in significant reductions to the center's electrical power and cooling costs. The facility will pay for itself out of energy and operations savings in approximately eight years.

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


September 26, 2013

NASA Awards Follow-on Mail Services Contract

NASA has awarded a contract to Anthony Wayne Rehabilitation Center (AWRC) of Fort Wayne, Ind., to provide mail services to the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The firm-fixed price contract begins Oct. 1. It has a maximum value of $11.5 million with a potential performance period of five years. AWRC will provide mail services, including mail distribution and courier services for 92 buildings and 670 mail stops, as well as operating several mailrooms at Kennedy.

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


September 26, 2013

NASA Awards Construction Contract for Kennedy

NASA has awarded a contract to A. West Enterprise of Albany, Ga., to provide construction services for the revitalization of the medium-voltage electrical distribution systems in the industrial and payload processing areas at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The firm-fixed price contract was awarded to A. West Enterprise Sept. 25 and has a maximum value of $5.7 million with a performance period of two years.

A. West Enterprise will provide construction services for the revitalization of Kennedy Space Center's medium voltage electrical distribution systems in the industrial and payload processing areas. Work includes the demolition, replacement and installation of underground medium voltage cable systems. Also included in the project will be the installation of underground duct systems for medium-voltage and low-voltage cable systems, as well as replacing various transformer and substation equipment.

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


September 20, 2013

NASA Awards Follow-on Custodial Services Contract for Kennedy

NASA has awarded a contract to Brevard Achievement Center of Rockledge, Fla., to provide custodial services to the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The firm-fixed price contract begins Oct. 1. It has a maximum value of $30.4 million with a potential performance period of five years. Brevard Achievement Center will provide custodial services, including recurring general cleaning and non-recurring custodial support for launch services, special events, and emergency cleanup for about 3.2 million square feet of general office, shop, warehouse and support areas at Kennedy.

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


September 20, 2013

NASA Commercial Partner Boeing Tests CST-100 Spacecraft Thrusters

Boeing's CST-100 spacecraft is one step closer to liftoff after a gauntlet of test firings of its steering jets at White Sands Space Harbor in Las Cruces, N.M.

Boeing and Aerojet Rocketdyne recently completed the tests, which simulated the demanding environment of space. The tests assessed how the thrusters -- which fire with 1,500 pounds of force -- will speed up, slow down and move the spacecraft while carrying NASA astronauts in Earth's orbit.

Boeing is developing a fully integrated crew transportation system, which includes the CST-100 spacecraft and the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, in partnership with NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP). New commercial spaceflight capabilities being developed by NASA partners through commercial crew initiatives eventually could provide services to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station, launching from American soil. Boeing is working on development milestones that are part of NASA's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative.

"Boeing and Aerojet Rocketdyne continue to show a path forward for NASA's low-Earth orbit crew transportation needs by implementing cutting-edge technologies and showcasing decades of human spaceflight experience," said Ed Mango, CCP manager.

The CST-100's orbital maneuvering and attitude control (OMAC) system has 24 thrusters, giving it the ability to perform critical maneuvers in space such as those required to refine the CST-100's orbit, as well as the braking maneuver near the end of a mission that slows the spacecraft down before re-entry. The OMAC thrusters will be jettisoned when the service module is released from the capsule just before re-entry. Positioned in four clusters of six on the service module of the spacecraft, the thrusters could steer the spacecraft in case an emergency calls for it to separate from its rocket during launch or ascent.

During the tests, the OMAC thrusters were fired in a vacuum chamber that simulated the space-like environment at an altitude of 100,000 feet. These evaluations put the thrusters through the burns and stresses they would encounter during a real flight. Engineers equipped the jets with a host of instruments to measure changes in the smallest components.

"The CST-100 OMAC thrusters are an example of leveraging proven flight hardware solutions to ensure mission supportability," said John Mulholland, Boeing vice president and manager for commercial programs. "We are very pleased with the data collected during this second series of tests and with our overall team performance as we continue to progress through CCiCap milestones on time and on budget."

Previous tests of the OMAC thrusters verified their durability in extreme heat, evaluated the opening and closing of their valves and confirmed continuous combustion and performance. Designers are using the results of these tests to validate or adjust their complex computer models that predict how a thruster and spacecraft will work during a mission.

"The OMAC engines met CCiCap test objectives," said Terry Lorier, Aerojet Rocketdyne's CST-100 Service Module Propulsion Program manager. "Aerojet Rocketdyne and Boeing are both pleased with the results and look forward to continuing our partnership."

With the completion of Milestone 9, Boeing is on track to meet all 20 of its CCiCap milestones by summer 2014. All of NASA's industry partners, including Boeing, 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: www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew


September 13, 2013

NASA Partner Boeing Completes Mission Control Center Interface Test

For the first time, the Mission Control Center (MCC) at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston has tested communications with a commercial, crew-capable spacecraft, as The Boeing Company conducted an interface test between the MCC and software planned for the company's CST-100 spacecraft.

Boeing has partnered with NASA to develop a fully integrated crew transportation system, with its CST-100 spacecraft and United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, in partnership with NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP). New commercial spaceflight capabilities being developed by NASA partners through commercial crew initiatives could eventually provide services to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station, launching from U.S. soil.

The August test verified that Boeing could send and receive data from its Avionics Software Integration Facility to the MCC. The company's software facility and CST-100 spacecraft simulator are serving as precursors to integrated flight operations training.

"Every day, our connection to the humans living and working in space comes through the historic and hallowed MCC in Houston," said Ed Mango, NASA's CCP manager. "As low-Earth orbit opens to a growing commercial space industry, the ability of new spacecraft to communicate with existing space infrastructure is critical."

Through a reimbursable Space Act Agreement with NASA's Mission Operations Directorate, which began during CCP's second phase of development, Boeing is collaborating with the agency on mission planning, training and flight operations for its CST-100.

"Our continued partnership with NASA Mission Operations Directorate brings valued experience to our Commercial Crew Program," said John Mulholland, vice president of Boeing Commercial Crew Programs. "This fully integrated team will ensure that we can safely and affordably conduct missions."

Additional interconnectivity assessments conducted by Boeing will include software avionics testing for the ascent phase of flight and demonstrations that will put a human at the controls of the spacecraft simulator. A pilot will run through the critical phases of flight, including rendezvous and docking by firing thrusters, navigating state changes and adjusting the spacecraft attitude.

Boeing is on track to meet all 20 of its Commercial Crew integrated Capabilities (CCiCap) milestones by summer 2014. All of NASA's industry partners, including Boeing, 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: www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew


August 29, 2013

NASA Awards Kennedy Space Center Grounds and Pest Contract

NASA has awarded a contract to SC Jones Services Inc., of Hampton Va., to provide grounds maintenance and pest control work at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The firm fixed-price contract has a one-year base period beginning Oct. 1, 2013, and four one-year options with a maximum value of $10.6 million.

This procurement provides for the continued maintenance of Kennedy Space Center grounds, including cutting grass, edging trees, pruning shrubs, removing trees and stumps, weeding, mulching, leaf gathering, fertilization, vegetation cutting and removal, sod installation, emergency clean up, land clearing and pest control services.

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


August 22, 2013

NASA Partner Sierra Nevada Corporation Completes Second Dream Chaser Captive-Carry Test

NASA partner Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) of Louisville, Colo., successfully completed a captive-carry test of the Dream Chaser spacecraft Thursday, Aug. 22, at the agency's Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif.

During the two-hour test, an Erickson Air-Crane helicopter picked up a test version of the Dream Chaser flight vehicle and flew it a distance of three miles over a dry lake bed at Edwards Air Force Base at a maximum altitude of approximately 12,400 feet. The spacecraft followed the projected path it will fly during future approach and landing tests at Dryden. Dream Chaser's flight computer, along with its guidance, navigation and control systems were tested. The landing gear and nose skid also were deployed during flight.

"Today is the first time we have flown a fully functional Dream Chaser flight vehicle, and we are very pleased with the results," said Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president and head of SNC's Space Systems. "Our team represents the very best in collaboration between industry and government. We have worked closely with NASA, Dryden and the Air Force to reach this important milestone in our flight test program.

We look forward to seeing Dream Chaser land on the same runway as the space shuttle orbiters once did as we move forward in the development of the next-generation crew transportation vehicle."

This was the second captive-carry test of the Dream Chaser flight vehicle and its first captive-carry at Dryden. Data obtained from the test will provide SNC valuable information about the Dream Chaser hardware and ground operations. The test paves the way for upcoming free-flight tests at Dryden this fall as part of the company's agreements with NASA.

SNC is working with NASA to develop Dream Chaser, planned to launch atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, through the agency's Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2) and Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiatives. New commercial spaceflight capabilities being developed by NASA partners through these initiatives eventually could provide launch services to transport NASA astronauts to the International Space Station from U.S. soil.

"It's great to see real American-made hardware taking flight right here in the U.S.," said Ed Mango, NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP) manager. "This is just the start of an exciting flight test campaign for SNC's Dream Chaser at Dryden."

Work leading up to the captive-carry test included an evaluation of the performance of Dream Chaser's braking and landing systems, during ground tow tests, at increasing speeds. SNC engineers also verified the spacecraft's computer and software systems, instrumentation and steering performance. The company held a thorough flight test readiness review with engineers, technical experts and representatives from NASA and the U.S. Air Force.

SNC's CCDev2 Space Act Agreement with NASA is set to culminate with an upcoming approach-and-landing free-flight test at Dryden. SNC also is on track to complete all 12 of its CCiCap milestones by the summer of 2014. All of NASA's industry partners, including SNC, 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


August 20, 2013

NASA Explores New Uses for Historic Launch Structures

NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida is seeking concepts for the potential use or divestment of three historic launch platforms that are not needed for the agency's current or planned future missions.

A Request for Information (RFI) released Friday will gauge the interest of commercial or government entities for using the three nearly identical mobile launcher platforms in support of either commercial launch activity; deconstruction; or an alternative option that benefits the public, environment or other entities not associated with space.

The three mobile launch platforms were used to hold Saturn rockets and space shuttles as they made their way from the Vehicle Assembly Building to the launch pads in preparation to travel into space. The platforms are two-story, hollow steel structures on which Saturn rockets and space shuttles launched. They are 25 feet tall, weigh around 8.2 million pounds, and are 160 feet long and 135 feet wide. Each platform features numerous pathways, compartments and plumbing and electrical cabling systems.

The RFI is the latest in the work to transform Kennedy into a multi-user spaceport for both government and commercial clients and to support NASA's future spaceflight programs and initiatives. These include plans to launch astronauts from Kennedy to study an asteroid and work with commercial companies to send crews to low-Earth orbit and the International Space Station from Florida's Space Coast in the next four years.

To see the Request for Information, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/14GGxTZ

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


August 16, 2013

NASA Exercises Expendable Launch Vehicle Contract Option

NASA has exercised the first option on a contract providing integrated services for the preparation and launch of the next generation of the agency's scientific and exploration spacecraft.

The two-year Option Period 1 on the Expendable Launch Vehicle Integrated Support (ELVIS) 2 contract, operated by a.i. solutions Inc. of Lanham, Md., begins Oct. 1 and is valued at about $56.5 million. The contract contains another potential option period that would begin in October 2015, if exercised.

The ELVIS 2 contract began in April 2012 and has a potential maximum value of $138.1 million. This contract resulted from a competitive small business set-aside.

The ELVIS 2 contract supports NASA's Launch Services Program (LSP) and LSP-sponsored missions, activities and strategic initiatives for multiple NASA programs, the Defense Department and other government agencies and commercial launch activities. The contractor will support program management; vehicle engineering and analysis; launch site engineering; communications and telemetry; technical integration services; LSP programmatic safety, reliability and quality assurance; LSP operations at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California; information technology; and special studies.

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


August 15, 2013

NASA Commercial Crew Partner SpaceX Completes Orbit and Entry Review

NASA Commercial Crew Program (CCP) partner Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) recently reviewed the systems critical to sustaining crews in orbit and returning them safely to Earth aboard the company's Dragon spacecraft.

SpaceX is one of three commercial space companies working under NASA's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative to develop spaceflight capabilities that eventually could provide launch services to transport NASA astronauts to the International Space Station from U.S. soil.

During the preliminary design review at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., company engineers presented NASA representatives and aerospace industry experts detailed analyses of Dragon systems critical to keeping crews safe in orbit and during re-entry operations. From basic life support functions, including pressurizing Dragon with breathable air, to stocking the capsule with enough food and water for as many as seven crew members, the spacecraft must be designed to protect humans in the harsh conditions of space. Company designers and NASA engineers dissected the plans carefully to make sure no details were overlooked.

"NASA has learned a lot about keeping our astronaut crews safe throughout a mission, and we don't want those lessons to be forgotten," said Ed Mango, NASA's CCP manager. "So, we're sharing a lot of what we already know, and the company is adding its own innovations to suit its needs and meet its challenges."

The review detailed equipment and software aboard Dragon that would help guide crews to the International Space Station for rendezvous and docking operations. This included discussion on SpaceX's planning for software code which, in this modern era of spaceship design, is just as critical as the hardware design. The company also described how the spacecraft will be operated both by its onboard crew and by ground controllers.

While SpaceX works to further develop its crewed Dragon spacecraft, it also is preparing for the upcoming launch of the third of at least 12 cargo missions to the space station with a remotely controlled Dragon under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services contract.

"SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft was designed from the outset to accommodate the upgrades necessary to safely carry people, so we're excited to have reached the halfway point in our agreement with NASA to design those features," said Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX president and chief operating officer. "As we leverage our experience successfully delivering cargo both to the International Space Station and back to Earth, SpaceX remains committed to providing the safest manned flights ever conducted."

In December, the company completed preliminary design reviews covering the ground systems and ascent, which are the first two phases of flight. Completion of the orbit and entry review clears the way for SpaceX to proceed with detailed designs for its integrated space transportation system, comprised of its Dragon spacecraft, Falcon 9 rocket and supporting ground systems.

The review was the seventh milestone for SpaceX under CCiCap. The company is on track to complete all 15 of its CCiCap milestones by the summer of 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: www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew


August 15, 2013

NASA, Commercial Crew Partners Fund Additional Development Milestones

NASA announced Thursday it is adding some additional milestones to agreements with three U.S. commercial companies that are developing spaceflight capabilities that could eventually provide launch services to transport NASA astronauts to the International Space Station from U.S. soil.

NASA is supporting the development of these capabilities through its Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative. As part of this initiative, NASA is exercising and funding specific additional milestones for these next generation space transportation systems. The agency has extended the Space Act Agreements (SAAs) for The Boeing Company of Houston, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, Calif., and Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) of Louisville, Colo., to include one or two additional milestones each under CCiCap.

"Our commercial partners are on-track developing innovative, new space systems that can safely, reliably and affordably transport astronauts and end the gap in U.S. human spaceflight capabilities," said William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "These additional milestones are specifically targeted by NASA and our partners to reduce risk and improve development efforts."

In their respective CCiCap SAAs, which were awarded in August 2012, NASA's partners listed optional milestones that could be exercised to continue the development and maturation of their space systems. After negotiation with the partners, NASA decided to fund revised portions of existing CCiCap optional milestones and extend the period of performance for the CCiCap SAAs from May 2014 to August 2014. The industry partners also will be contributing financially to the execution of these milestones. The revisions, in the form of amendments to the SAAs, are posted online at: http://commercialcrew.nasa.gov/page.cfm?ID=38

The milestones are:

These milestones each reduce risks, advance the partners' development efforts or accelerate schedules consistent with the goals of CCiCap. NASA plans to use fiscal year 2014 funding for the total government investment of $55 million. Funding these optional milestones does not alter or affect NASA's acquisition strategy for the agency's Commercial Crew Program.

While NASA works with U.S. industry partners to develop and advance new commercial space capabilities, the agency also is developing the Orion spacecraft and the Space Launch System (SLS), a crew capsule and heavy-lift rocket to provide an entirely new capability for human exploration. Designed to be flexible for launching spacecraft for crew and cargo missions, SLS and Orion will expand human presence beyond low-Earth orbit and enable new missions of exploration in the solar system, including to an asteroid and Mars.

For more information about NASA's commercial space initiatives, visit: www.nasa.gov/commercial


August 7, 2013

Orion Stationary Recovery Testing

NASA and the U.S. Navy are conducting tests to prepare for recovery of the Orion crew module and forward bay cover on its return from deep space missions. The stationary recovery test will allow the teams to demonstrate and evaluate the recovery processes, procedures, hardware and personnel in a controlled environment before conducting a second recovery test next year in open waters.

Orion is America's new spacecraft that will take astronauts to destinations not yet explored by humans, including an asteroid and Mars. It will have an emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during space travel and provide safe re-entry from deep space. The first spacecraft will launch on Exploration Flight Test-1 in September 2014, an uncrewed mission that will allow engineers to examine many of Orion's systems.

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

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


August 5, 2013

NASA Begins Launch Preparations for Next Mars Mission

NASA's next spacecraft going to Mars arrived Friday, Aug. 2, at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and is now perched in a cleanroom to begin final preparations for its November launch.

The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft is undergoing detailed testing and fueling prior to being moved to its launch pad. The mission has a 20-day launch period that opens Nov. 18.

The spacecraft will conduct the first mission dedicated to surveying the upper atmosphere of Mars. Scientists expect to obtain unprecedented data that will help them understand how the loss of atmospheric gas to space may have played a part in changing the planet's climate.

"We're excited and proud to ship the spacecraft right on schedule," said David Mitchell, MAVEN project manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "But more critical milestones lie ahead before we accomplish our mission of collecting science data from Mars. I firmly believe the team is up to the task. Now we begin the final push to launch."

Over the weekend, the team confirmed the spacecraft arrived in good condition. They removed the spacecraft from the shipping container and secured it to a rotation fixture in the cleanroom. In the next week, the team will reassemble components previously removed for transport. Further checks prior to launch will include software tests, spin balance tests, and test deployments of the spacecraft's solar panels and booms.

The spacecraft was transported from Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colo., on Friday, aboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 cargo plane. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Littleton, Colo., designed and built the spacecraft and is responsible for testing, launch processing, and mission operations.

"It's always a mix of excitement and stress when you ship a spacecraft down to the launch site," said Guy Beutelschies, MAVEN program manager at Lockheed Martin. "It's similar to moving your children to college after high school graduation. You're proud of the hard work to get to this point, but you know they still need some help before they're ready to be on their own."

Previous Mars missions detected energetic solar fields and particles that could drive atmospheric gases away from Mars. Unlike Earth, Mars does not have a planet-wide magnetic field that would deflect these solar winds. As a result, these winds may have stripped away much of Mars' atmosphere.

MAVEN's data will help scientists reconstruct the planet's past climate. Scientists will use MAVEN data to project how Mars became the cold, dusty desert planet we see today. The planned one-year mission begins with the spacecraft entering the Red Planet's orbit in September 2014.

"MAVEN is not going to detect life," said Bruce Jakosky, planetary scientist at the University of Colorado Boulder and MAVEN's principal investigator. "But it will help us understand the climate history, which is the history of its habitability."

MAVEN's principal investigator is based at the University of Colorado Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics in Boulder. The university provides science instruments and leads science operations, education and public outreach.

Goddard manages the project and provides two of the science instruments for the mission. Lockheed Martin built the spacecraft and is responsible for mission operations. The University of California at Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory provides science instruments for the mission. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., provides navigation support, Deep Space Network support, and Electra telecommunications relay hardware and operations.

To learn more about the MAVEN mission, visit: www.nasa.gov/maven


August 5, 2013

NASA Selects Launch Services Contract for OSIRIS-REx Mission

NASA has selected United Launch Services LLC of Englewood, Colo., to launch the Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft.

The OSIRIS-REx mission is scheduled to launch in September 2016 aboard an Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.

This new firm-fixed price, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity, launch service task order contract is valued at about $183.5 million. This price includes payload processing, integrated services, telemetry and other launch support requirements.

OSIRIS-REx will survey near-Earth asteroid 101955 Bennu to understand its physical, mineralogical and chemical properties; assess its resource potential; refine the impact hazard; and return a sample to Earth. The spacecraft will rendezvous with the asteroid in 2018. Sample return is planned in 2023. Analysis of the sample returned will reveal the earliest stages of the solar system's evolution and the history of Bennu over the past 4.5 billion years.

OSIRIS-REx also will study the Yarkovsky effect, a non-gravitational force affecting the orbit of this potentially hazardous asteroid, and provide the first direct measurements for telescopic observations of this type of asteroids.

NASA's Launch Services Program at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida is responsible for program management of the Atlas V launch vehicle. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., provides overall mission management for OSIRIS-REx.

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


August 2, 2013

Space Station Sighting Opportunities for Central Florida

Central Florida residents will have several opportunities to see the International Space Station pass overhead this weekend, weather permitting.

International Space Station The space station, with its six-member Expedition 36 crew, is about 260 miles above Earth and will celebrate its 13th anniversary of continuous occupancy in November. Commander Pavel Vinogradov and Flight Engineers Fyodor Yurchikhin and Alexander Misurkin of the Russian Federal Space Agency, Chris Cassidy and Karen Nyberg of NASA, and Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency are conducting important science and technology experiments aboard the orbiting laboratory.

At 9:48 p.m. EDT on Saturday, the station will approach from the southwest, and for about six minutes, it will be almost two-thirds of the way up in the sky as it moves to the north/northeast.

International Space Station On Sunday at 5:58 a.m., the station will appear in the northwest sky and be visible for six minutes at a maximum elevation of 80 degrees, moving to the southeast. At 8:59 p.m. Sunday, the complex will move from south/southwest to northeast and be visible for six minutes, almost two-thirds of the way up in the sky.

Sighting opportunities also occur Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

The station can be seen every day at various locations around the world just befoire sunrise and just after sunset.

For sighting opportunities from specific cities in Florida, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/KtXV9E

NASA's Spot the Station service sends you an email or text message several hours before the space station passes over your house: http://spotthestation.nasa.gov/

For the latest information about the International Space Station, its crews and scientific research taking place onboard, visit: www.nasa.gov/station

For updates about activities at Kennedy, visit the NASA Kennedy News Twitter feed at: www.twitter.com/nasakennedy

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


July 24, 2013

Tenth Parachute Test for NASA's Orion Adds 10,000 Feet of Success

WASHINGTON -- A complicated, high-altitude test Wednesday demonstrated NASA's new Orion spacecraft could land safely even if one of its parachutes failed.

The 10th in a series of evaluations to check out the Orion multipurpose crew vehicle's parachute system dropped the test capsule from a C-17 aircraft at its highest altitude yet, 35,000 feet above the Arizona desert. One of three massive main parachutes was cut away early on purpose, leaving the spacecraft to land with only two. The test at the U.S. Army's Yuma Proving Ground was the highest-altitude test of a human spacecraft parachute since NASA's Apollo Program.

During previous tests, a mock capsule was dropped from a height of 25,000 feet and the parachutes deployed at no higher than 22,000 feet. The extra 10,000 feet of altitude at the beginning of Wednesday's test made the demonstration the best so far of Orion's parachute flight and landing.

"The closer we can get to actual flight conditions, the more confidence we gain in the system," said Chris Johnson, project manager for the Orion capsule parachute assembly system at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. "What we saw today -- other than the failures we put in on purpose -- is very similar to what Orion will look like coming back during Exploration Flight Test-1's Earth entry next year." During its return from space, Orion's parachute system will begin to deploy 25,000 feet above the ground.

Engineers gathered data on the effects of losing a parachute during the descent. The team already proved Orion can land with just two of its three main parachutes, but this was the first opportunity to study how one parachute pulling away in mid-flight might affect the remaining two. "We wanted to know what would happen if a cable got hooked around a sharp edge and snapped off when the parachutes deployed," said Stu McClung, Orion's landing and recovery system manager at Johnson. "We don't think that would ever happen, but if it did, would it cause other failures? We want to know everything that could possibly go wrong, so that we can fix it before it does."

The test was part of a series of parachute tests that will enable NASA to certify Orion to carry humans into space. The system already has met the necessary requirements for Orion's first mission, Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1), in September 2014. During that flight, Orion will travel 3,600 miles into orbit then return to Earth at speeds as fast as 20,000 mph, putting the parachute system to the test again as it lands in the Pacific Ocean.

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


July 19, 2013

NASA Signs Agreement with BRS Aerospace for Use of Unique Facility

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida has signed a new partnership agreement with Ballistic Recovery Systems Inc., or BRS Aerospace, of Miami, Fla., for use of the Parachute Refurbishment Facility, or PRF.

The PRF previously was used during NASA's Space Shuttle Program to manufacture and refurbish the solid rocket booster parachutes. Because of NASA's transition from the shuttle to future commercial and government mission activities, this agreement allows NASA to preserve the unique facility capabilities for future spaceflight projects.

"Kennedy continues working with the commercial community to bring new partnerships to the center, and this latest agreement is a great example of pairing a NASA facility having a previously specialized focus with a U.S. company that has a similar engineering and manufacturing focus," said Kennedy Director Bob Cabana. "This partnership would not have been possible without the support of the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast. We welcome BRS Aerospace to Kennedy Space Center and look forward to a long-standing partnership."

BRS Aerospace is engaged in the business of developing and commercializing parachutes, including whole-airframe emergency recovery parachute systems, personnel parachute systems, low-cost aerial delivery systems, and precision guided aerial delivery systems. The company will utilize the facility to establish a technical research and development center for advanced parachute systems and for manufacturing prototype systems.

Under a 10-year lease agreement, BRS Aerospace will operate and maintain the facility at its own expense. The company will access the facility to begin work on Sept. 3 and will hire approximately 34 full-time employees by the end of the year.

Kennedy's center planning and development team and the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast worked with the company to establish the agreement.

For more information about BRS Aerospace visit: www.brsparachutes.com

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


July 11, 2013

NASA's OPALS To Beam Data From Space Via Laser

PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA will use the International Space Station to test a new communications technology that could dramatically improve spacecraft communications, enhance commercial missions and strengthen transmission of scientific data.

The Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science (OPALS), an optical technology demonstration experiment, could improve NASA's data rates for communications with future spacecraft by a factor of 10 to 100. OPALS has arrived at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida from the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. It is scheduled to launch to the space station later this year aboard a SpaceX Dragon commercial resupply capsule on the company's Falcon 9 rocket.

"OPALS represents a tangible stepping stone for laser communications, and the International Space Station is a great platform for an experiment like this," said Michael Kokorowski, OPALS project manager at JPL. "Future operational laser communication systems will have the ability to transmit more data from spacecraft down to the ground than they currently do, mitigating a significant bottleneck for scientific investigations and commercial ventures."

OPALS will be mounted on the outside of the International Space Station and communicate with a ground station in Wrightwood, Calif., a mountain town near Los Angeles.

"It's like aiming a laser pointer continuously for two minutes at a dot the diameter of a human hair from 30 feet away while you're walking," explained OPALS systems engineer Bogdan Oaida of JPL.

The OPALS instrument was built at JPL and is slated to fly on the Dragon capsule in late 2013. The mission is expected to run 90 days after installation on the station.

The OPALS Project Office is based at JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

For more information about OPALS, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/10MMPDO

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


July 2, 2013

NASA Announces Space Station Research and Development Conference

WASHINGTON -- The American Astronautical Society, in cooperation with NASA and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), will conduct the second annual International Space Station Research and Development Conference July 16-18 in Denver.

The theme of the conference is "Discoveries, Applications and Opportunities." It is the only annual conference offering details on the full breadth of research and technology development on the space station, including the full suite of prospects for future research over the life of the station.

Plenary sessions will discuss top station discoveries in microgravity; benefits and applications in Earth science, materials and education; uses of the station for medical advancements and Earth applications; and station technology applications for future space exploration. Parallel technical sessions will include findings from the life, physical, Earth and space sciences; human research; education; and technologies enabling exploration. Scientists will receive updates on significant accomplishments within their areas of expertise.

Keynote speakers include International Space Station Program Manager Michael Suffredini and CASIS Chief Operating Officer Duane Ratliff.

Special guests include NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations William Gerstenmaier and station program managers from the Canadian, European, Japanese and Russian space agencies. In a recorded presentation, Nobel laureate Samuel Ting will present preliminary results from the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer experiment currently underway aboard the space station. Astronaut Don Pettit will share his experiences living and working aboard the orbiting outpost. Organizations that manage and fund research on the space station, including NASA and CASIS, will provide overviews of upcoming opportunities.

The conference will include a workshop designed to help interested users develop their own ideas for experiments aboard the space station. Potential future station users will learn what they can accomplish, how to get started and sources for funding.

For details on the conference program and online registration, visit: www.astronautical.org

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


July 2, 2013

NASA Announces Space Station Research and Development Conference

WASHINGTON -- The American Astronautical Society, in cooperation with NASA and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), will conduct the second annual International Space Station Research and Development Conference July 16-18 in Denver.

The theme of the conference is "Discoveries, Applications and Opportunities." It is the only annual conference offering details on the full breadth of research and technology development on the space station, including the full suite of prospects for future research over the life of the station.

Plenary sessions will discuss top station discoveries in microgravity; benefits and applications in Earth science, materials and education; uses of the station for medical advancements and Earth applications; and station technology applications for future space exploration. Parallel technical sessions will include findings from the life, physical, Earth and space sciences; human research; education; and technologies enabling exploration. Scientists will receive updates on significant accomplishments within their areas of expertise.

Keynote speakers include International Space Station Program Manager Michael Suffredini and CASIS Chief Operating Officer Duane Ratliff.

Special guests include NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations William Gerstenmaier and station program managers from the Canadian, European, Japanese and Russian space agencies. In a recorded presentation, Nobel laureate Samuel Ting will present preliminary results from the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer experiment currently underway aboard the space station. Astronaut Don Pettit will share his experiences living and working aboard the orbiting outpost. Organizations that manage and fund research on the space station, including NASA and CASIS, will provide overviews of upcoming opportunities.

The conference will include a workshop designed to help interested users develop their own ideas for experiments aboard the space station. Potential future station users will learn what they can accomplish, how to get started and sources for funding.

For details on the conference program and online registration, visit: www.astronautical.org

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


July 2, 2013

NASA Commercial Crew Partner SpaceX Completes Two Human-Critical Reviews

HAWTHORNE, Calif. -- Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, Calif., recently completed two milestones for NASA's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative, which is intended to make commercial human spaceflight services available for government and commercial customers.

These were the fifth and sixth milestones for SpaceX, a partner in NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP). The company is on track to complete all 14 of its CCiCap milestones by mid-2014.

In a human certification plan review May 7, SpaceX outlined all the steps the company plans to take to certify its system for crewed missions, including testing, demonstrations, analyses, inspections, verifications and training events. This was a key milestone to ensure SpaceX's integrated Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule will be safe to carry humans to and from low-Earth orbit beginning in the middle of this decade.

At its pad abort test review, SpaceX presented plans for a pad abort test, currently targeted for later this year or early next year from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 40 in Florida. The review successfully demonstrated the adequacy of the test plan objectives and the pad abort scenario.

"The beauty of having the pad abort test review was it allowed both NASA and SpaceX to start coalescing toward an understanding of what will be tested and how we'll measure success," said Ed Mango, NASA's CCP manager. "We're really looking forward to seeing SpaceX's pad abort system take off from along Florida's Space Coast."

During the upcoming pad abort test, SpaceX will perform a recovery operation following a simulated Falcon 9 anomaly. Plans call for the company to put one of its Dragon capsules on a launch pad test stand, countdown to T-0, ignite the system's SuperDraco abort engines and initiate a separation command. At around 5,000 feet, the spacecraft's parachutes will deploy resulting in a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean.

SpaceX is one of three U.S. companies participating in NASA's CCiCap initiative. Future development and certification initiatives eventually will lead to the availability of human spaceflight services for NASA to send its astronauts to the International Space Station.

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


June 28, 2013

NASA AND SPACE FLORIDA BEGIN PARTNERSHIP DISCUSSIONS

Space Florida Proposes to Operate Shuttle Landing Facility

WASHINGTON -- NASA has selected Space Florida, the aerospace economic development agency for the state of Florida, for negotiations toward a partnership agreement to maintain and operate the historic Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF).

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and the director of NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Robert Cabana, announced the selection during a news conference Friday at Kennedy's Visitor Complex in Florida.

"This agreement will continue to expand Kennedy's viability as a multiuser spaceport and strengthen the economic opportunities for Florida and the nation," Bolden said. "It also continues to demonstrate NASA's commitment and progress in building a strong commercial space industry so that American companies are providing safe, reliable, and cost-effective transportation to and from the International Space Station and other low-Earth orbit destinations."

NASA issued a request for information to industry in 2012 to identify new and innovative ways to use the facility for current and future commercial and government mission activities. Space Florida's proposal is aligned closely with Kennedy's vision for creating a multiuser spaceport.

"The SLF is a significant asset for the center that ties our historical past to the vision of the future," said Cabana. "I had the privilege of landing two space shuttle orbiters at the facility and look forward to beginning discussions with Space Florida on a future partnership that will fully utilize this unique resource."

"The SLF provides a unique capability for new and expanding suborbital launch providers, unmanned aerial vehicle operators and other aerospace-related businesses to thrive in a location that maximizes the resources of the space center and Eastern Range operations," said Space Florida President Frank DiBello. "We look forward to working with NASA and KSC leadership in the coming months to finalize the details of this transaction in a way that will provide the greatest benefit to incoming commercial aerospace businesses."

The SLF, specially designed for space shuttles returning to Kennedy, opened for flights in 1976. The concrete runway is 15,000 feet long and 300 feet wide. The SLF is capable of handling all types and sizes of aircraft and horizontal launch and landing vehicles.

For more information on Space Florida, visit: www.spaceflorida.gov

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


June 27, 2013

NASA LAUNCHES SATELLITE TO STUDY HOW SUN'S ATMOSPHERE IS ENERGIZED

WASHINGTON -- NASA's Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) spacecraft launched Wednesday at 7:27 p.m. PDT (10:27 p.m. EDT) from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The mission to study the solar atmosphere was placed in orbit by an Orbital Sciences Corporation Pegasus XL rocket.

"We are thrilled to add IRIS to the suite of NASA missions studying the sun," said John Grunsfeld, NASA's associate administrator for science in Washington. "IRIS will help scientists understand the mysterious and energetic interface between the surface and corona of the sun."

IRIS is a NASA Explorer Mission to observe how solar material moves, gathers energy and heats up as it travels through a little-understood region in the sun's lower atmosphere. This interface region between the sun's photosphere and corona powers its dynamic million-degree atmosphere and drives the solar wind. The interface region also is where most of the sun's ultraviolet emission is generated. These emissions impact the near-Earth space environment and Earth's climate. The Pegasus XL carrying IRIS was deployed from an Orbital L-1011 carrier aircraft over the Pacific Ocean at an altitude of 39,000 feet, off the central coast of California about 100 miles northwest of Vandenberg. The rocket placed IRIS into a sun-synchronous polar orbit that will allow it to make almost continuous solar observations during its two-year mission.

The L-1011 took off from Vandenberg at 6:30 p.m. PDT and flew to the drop point over the Pacific Ocean, where the aircraft released the Pegasus XL from beneath its belly. The first stage ignited five seconds later to carry IRIS into space. IRIS successfully separated from the third stage of the Pegasus rocket at 7:40 p.m. At 8:05 p.m., the IRIS team confirmed the spacecraft had successfully deployed its solar arrays, has power and has acquired the sun, indications that all systems are operating as expected.

"Congratulations to the entire team on the successful development and deployment of the IRIS mission," said IRIS project manager Gary Kushner of the Lockheed Martin Solar and Atmospheric Laboratory in Palo Alto, Calif. "Now that IRIS is in orbit, we can begin our 30-day engineering checkout followed by a 30-day science checkout and calibration period."

IRIS is expected to start science observations upon completion of its 60-day commissioning phase. During this phase the team will check image quality and perform calibrations and other tests to ensure a successful mission.

NASA's Explorer Program at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., provides overall management of the IRIS mission. The principal investigator institution is Lockheed Martin Space Systems Advanced Technology Center. NASA's Ames Research Center will perform ground commanding and flight operations and receive science data and spacecraft telemetry.

The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory designed the IRIS telescope. The Norwegian Space Centre and NASA's Near Earth Network provide the ground stations using antennas at Svalbard, Norway; Fairbanks, Alaska; McMurdo, Antarctica; and Wallops Island, Va. NASA's Launch Services Program at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida is responsible for the launch service procurement, including managing the launch and countdown. Orbital Sciences Corporation provided the L-1011 aircraft and Pegasus XL launch system.

For more information about the IRIS mission, visit: www.nasa.gov/iris


June 25, 2013

LAUNCH OF NASA'S NEW SOLAR MISSION RESCHEDULED TO JUNE 27

WASHINGTON -- The launch of NASA's Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) mission is being delayed one day to 7:27 p.m. PDT (10:27 p.m. EDT) Thursday, June 27, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Live NASA Television launch coverage begins at 6 p.m. PDT.

Because of a significant power outage at Vandenberg earlier this week, certain Western Range facilities will not be ready to support the original June 26 launch date. Range officials believe they will be able to restore power to the affected facilities in time to support a launch Thursday evening. Managers will assess the situation at the Launch Readiness Review Wednesday.

The launch of IRIS on an Orbital Sciences Corporation Pegasus XL rocket is targeted for the middle of a five-minute window.

IRIS is a NASA Small Explorer Mission to observe how solar material moves, gathers energy and heats up as it travels through a little-understood region in the sun's lower atmosphere. This interface region between the sun's photosphere and corona powers its dynamic million-degree atmosphere and drives the solar wind.

The drop of the air-launched Pegasus from Orbital's L-1011 carrier aircraft will occur over the Pacific Ocean at an altitude of 39,000 feet, about 100 miles northwest of Vandenberg off the central coast of California, south of Big Sur.

The IRIS News Center at Kennedy's Vandenberg Resident Office may be reached between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at 805-605-3051.

For complete details on media registration, media events, and live launch coverage on NASA TV, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/13L6djG

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

Extensive prelaunch and launch day coverage of the IRIS spacecraft will be available on NASA's home page at: www.nasa.gov

To view the IRIS webcast and launch blog, and learn more about the mission, visit: www.nasa.gov/iris


June 24, 2013

NASA STATUS UPDATES ON FUTURE HUMAN SPACEFLIGHT PROGRAMS

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- In a revamped area of the Operations and Checkout building, NASA employees and Lockheed Martin contractors are working side by side to prepare Orion for Exploration Flight Test-1 next year. Orion is designed to take U.S. astronauts farther into space than ever before.

The Orion spacecraft, managed at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, will be launched on missions by the agency's heavy-lift Space Launch System (SLS), an entirely new capability for human exploration, beginning in 2017. Designed to be flexible for launching spacecraft from Kennedy for crew and cargo missions, SLS will expand human presence beyond low-Earth orbit and enable new missions of exploration across the solar system. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages SLS. Kennedy manages the Ground Systems Development and Operations Program, which is preparing to process and launch the next-generation vehicles and spacecraft designed to achieve NASA's goals for space exploration.

NASA's Commercial Crew Program, managed at Kennedy, is an innovative partnership to help the aerospace industry in the United States develop space transportation systems that can safely launch astronauts to the International Space Station and other low-Earth orbit destinations.

For more information about NASA's Orion, SLS, and GSDO programs, visit: www.nasa.gov/exploration

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


June 21, 2013

NASA ANNOUNCES WINNERS OF 2012 GEORGE M. LOW AWARD FOR QUALITY

WASHINGTON -- Two companies that share a commitment to teamwork, technical and managerial excellence, safety, and customer service have been selected to receive NASA's premier honor for quality and performance, the George M. Low Award.

NASA recognizes URS Federal Technical Services Inc. of Germantown, Md., in the large business award category and ATA Engineering Inc. of San Diego, Calif., in the small business award category.

"NASA's industry partners are crucial in our work to reach new destinations and expand our nation's capabilities, and we're happy to recognize these two companies with the high honor of the George M. Low Award," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "Their success both in space and on the ground has demonstrated excellence and innovation that will help us reach our challenging goals and keep America the leader in space exploration."

URS Federal Technical Services Inc. is the institutional services contractor at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. With 1,100 employees and subcontractors, the company maintains 1,250 facilities, roadways, railroad tracks and an airfield; provides utilities, indoor climate control, life support and propellant storage; conducts non-destructive evaluation; cleans, samples and calibrates components; and coordinates logistics.

Evaluators cited URS' automation initiative, which deployed tablet computers to employees to reduce their paperwork burden; its process for ensuring customer satisfaction; and the breadth of its safety program in an industrial environment with so many potential hazards.

ATA Engineering Inc. supported development of the Mars Science Laboratory and its robotic rover, Curiosity, at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. With 93 employees, the company played a key role in the mission by conducting detailed mechanical simulation work to support spacecraft's challenging entry, descent and landing at Mars in August last year.

Evaluators cited ATA's problem-solving ability, demonstrated with the design of Curiosity's sampling scoop; its emphasis on contracting with small business and hiring young talent with high potential; and its strong culture of teamwork.

"I congratulate these companies for winning our premier award. It's our recognition for their management's leadership and employee commitment to the highest standards in performance," said Terrence Wilcutt, the agency's chief of safety and mission assurance. "For NASA to do the kind of things the country asks us to do in exploration, science, research, and technology development, we depend on our contractors to operate at an exemplary level. URS Federal Technical Services Inc. and ATA Engineering Inc. have set the example for all of us."

The Low award demonstrates the agency's commitment to promoting excellence and continual improvement by challenging NASA's contractor community to be a global benchmark of quality management practices.

The award was established in 1985 as NASA's Excellence Award for Quality and Productivity. It was renamed in 1990 in memory of George M. Low, an outstanding leader with a strong commitment to quality products and workforce during his 27-year tenure at the agency. Low was NASA's deputy administrator from 1969 to 1976 and a leader in the early development of space programs.

For more information about the George M. Low Award, visit: www.hq.nasa.gov/office/codeq/gml

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


June 6, 2013

NASA'S ORION SPACECRAFT PROVES SOUND UNDER PRESSURE

WASHINGTON -- After a month of being poked, prodded and pressurized in ways that mimicked the stresses of spaceflight, NASA's Orion crew module successfully passed its static loads tests on Wednesday.

When Orion launches on Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1), which is targeted for September 2014, it will travel farther from Earth than any spacecraft built for humans in more than 40 years. The spacecraft will fly about 3,600 miles above Earth's surface and return at speeds of approximately 25,000 mph. During the test, Orion will experience an array of stresses, or loads, including launch and re-entry, the vacuum of space, and several dynamic events that will jettison hardware away from the spacecraft and deploy parachutes.

To ensure Orion will be ready for its flight test next year, engineers at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida built a 20-foot-tall static loads test fixture for the crew module with hydraulic cylinders that slowly push or pull on the vehicle, depending on the type of load being simulated. The fixture produced 110 percent of the load caused by eight different types of stress Orion will experience during EFT-1. More than 1,600 strain gauges recorded how the vehicle responded. The loads ranged from as little as 14,000 pounds to as much as 240,000 pounds.

"The static loads campaign is our best method of testing to verify what works on paper will work in space," said Charlie Lundquist, NASA's Orion crew and service module manager at the agency's Johnson Space Center in Houston. "This is how we validate our design."

In addition to the various loads it sustained, the Orion crew module also was pressurized to simulate the effect of the vacuum in space. This simulation allowed engineers to confirm it would hold its pressurization in a vacuum and verify repairs made to superficial cracks in the vehicle's rear bulkhead caused by previous pressure testing in November.

The November test revealed insufficient margin in an area of the bulkhead that was unable to withstand the stress of pressurization. Armed with data from that test, engineers were able to reinforce the design to ensure structural integrity and validate the fix during this week's test.

To repair the cracks, engineers designed brackets that spread the stress of being pressurized to other areas of the module that are structurally stronger. During these tests, Orion was successfully pressurized to 110 percent of what it would experience in space, demonstrating it is capable of performing as necessary during EFT-1.

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


June 4, 2013

NASA PREPARES FOR LAUNCH OF NEXT SOLAR SATELLITE

WASHINGTON -- NASA's next scientific satellite, which is scheduled for launch June 26, will provide the most detailed look ever at the sun's lower atmosphere or interface region.

The Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) mission will observe how solar material moves, gathers energy, and heats up as it travels through this largely unexplored region of the solar atmosphere. The interface region, located between the sun's visible surface and upper atmosphere, is where most of the sun's ultraviolet emission is generated. These emissions impact the near-Earth space environment and Earth's climate.

The IRIS spacecraft was designed and built by Lockheed Martin's Advanced Technology Center in Palo Alto, Calif. It will launch aboard a Pegasus XL rocket deployed by an Orbital Sciences L-1011 aircraft from Vandenberg Air Force Base on the central California coast.

"IRIS data will fill a crucial gap in our understanding of the solar interface region upon joining our fleet of heliophysics spacecraft," said Jeffrey Newmark, NASA's IRIS program scientist in Washington. "For the first time we will have the necessary observations for understanding how energy is delivered to the million-degree outer solar corona and how the base of the solar wind is driven."

IRIS carries an ultraviolet telescope that feeds a multi-channel imaging spectrograph. The satellite is the first mission designed to use an ultraviolet telescope to obtain high-resolution images and spectra every few seconds and provide observations of areas as small as 150 miles across the sun.

"Previous observations suggest there are structures in this region of the solar atmosphere 100 to 150 miles wide, but 100,000 miles long," said Alan Title, IRIS principal investigator at Lockheed Martin. "Imagine giant jets like huge fountains that have a footprint the size of Los Angeles and are long enough and fast enough to circle Earth in 20 seconds. IRIS will provide our first high-resolution views of these structures along with information about their velocity, temperature and density."

After launch, IRIS will travel in a polar, sun-synchronous orbit around Earth, crossing nearly directly over the poles in such a way that it moves over the equator at the same local time each day. The spacecraft will orbit at an altitude range of 390 miles to 420 miles. This orbit allows for almost continuous solar observations on IRIS' two-year mission.

NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., will provide IRIS mission operations and ground data systems. The Norwegian Space Centre in Oslo, Norway, will provide regular downlinks of science data. NASA's Launch Services Program at the agency's Kennedy Space Center is responsible for launch management.

IRIS is a NASA Small Explorer Mission, which the agency's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., manages for the Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The goal of the Explorers Program is to provide frequent flight opportunities for world-class scientific investigations from space utilizing innovative, streamlined and efficient management approaches within the heliophysics and astrophysics science areas.

Other IRIS contributors include the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Mass.; Montana State University in Bozeman, Mont.; Stanford University in Stanford, Calif.; and the University of Oslo in Norway.

For graphics related from the June 4 IRIS news conference, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/irisgraphics

For more information about the IRIS mission, visit: www.nasa.gov/iris


May 31, 2013

NASA COMMERCIAL CREW PARTNER BOEING COMPLETES NEW SPACECRAFT, ROCKET MILESTONES

HOUSTON -- The Boeing Company of Houston, a NASA Commercial Crew Program (CCP) partner, recently performed wind tunnel testing of its CST-100 spacecraft and integrated launch vehicle, the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket. The testing is part of NASA's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative, intended to make commercial human spaceflight services available for government and commercial customers.

Boeing and ULA also worked together to test a newly developed component of the Atlas V's Centaur upper stage. Boeing now has completed two of eight performance milestones under CCiCap and is on track to complete all 19 of its milestones around mid-2014.

"The Centaur has a long and storied past of launching the agency's most successful spacecraft to other worlds," said Ed Mango, NASA's CCP manager at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. "Because it has never been used for human spaceflight before, these tests are critical to ensuring a smooth and safe performance for the crew members who will be riding atop the human-rated Atlas V."

The wind tunnel tests, which began in March and wrapped up in May at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., were the first interface tests of Boeing's spacecraft, launch vehicle adaptor and launch vehicle. A scale model of the integrated spacecraft and rocket was placed in Ames' 11-foot diameter transonic wind tunnel. The data gathered provides Boeing with critical information it needs to ensure its system is safe for launching crews to low-Earth orbit.

The Centaur liquid oxygen-feed duct line was tested in March in Murrieta, Calif., to characterize how liquid oxygen moves from the stage's oxygen tank to its two engines where the propellant will be mixed with liquid hydrogen to create thrust. The Centaur, which takes over after the Atlas V first stage runs low on propellants, will push the spacecraft to its intended orbit. The Centaur has an extensive and successful history of delivering spacecraft to their destinations, including carrying NASA's Curiosity science rover to Mars.

"The CST-100 and Atlas V, connected with the launch vehicle adaptor, performed exactly as expected and confirmed our expectations of how they will perform together in flight," said John Mulholland, Boeing vice president and program manager for Commercial Programs.

Boeing is one of three U.S. companies NASA is working with during CCiCap to set the stage for a crewed orbital demonstration mission around the middle of the decade. Future development and certification initiatives eventually will lead to the availability of human spaceflight services for NASA to send astronauts to the International Space Station from the United States.

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


May 31, 2013

NASA ASSOCIATE ADMINISTRATOR ROBERT LIGHTFOOT VISITS SPACE COAST JUNE 3-4

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot will visit Florida's Space Coast on Monday, June 3, and Tuesday, June 4.

On June 3, Lightfoot will join Kennedy Center Director Bob Cabana for an open house event with Craig Technologies from 4 to 6 p.m. EDT at the Aerospace and Defense Manufacturing Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla.

In June 2012, NASA and Craig Technologies entered into a partnership under a five-year, non-reimbursable Space Act Agreement to use the unique manufacturing equipment previously used to support the Space Shuttle Program for other hi-tech purposes. The Craig Technologies Aerospace Defense and Manufacturing Center provides custom avionics, precision machining and fabrication, specialty manufacturing and test and evaluation services for commercial and government customers.

For more information about partnerships with NASA and Kennedy, visit: www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy/business

For more information on Craig Technologies, visit: www.craigtechinc.com

NASA recently announced plans to find, study, capture and relocate an asteroid for exploration by astronauts. The asteroid initiative is a strategy to leverage human and robotic activities for a first human mission while accelerating efforts to improve detection and characterization of asteroids.

The goal of KaBOOM is to prove technologies that will allow future systems to characterize near-Earth objects in terms of size, shape, rotation/tumble rate and to determine the trajectory of those objects. Radar studies can determine the trajectory 100,000 times more precisely than can optical methods.

Current NASA radar systems are limited in both resolution and the distance at which they are effective. KaBOOM is the penultimate, low-cost step before proceeding with a high-power, high-resolution radar system. NASA expects this proof of concept to be completed in about two years.

For more information on NASA's asteroid initiative, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/asteroidinitiative


May 30, 2013

LANDSAT 8 SATELLITE BEGINS WATCH

WASHINGTON -- NASA transferred operational control Thursday of the Landsat 8 satellite to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in a ceremony in Sioux Falls, S.D.

The event marks the beginning of the satellite's mission to extend an unparalleled four-decade record of monitoring Earth's landscape from space. Landsat 8 is the latest in the Landsat series of remote-sensing satellites, which have been providing global coverage of landscape changes on Earth since 1972. The Landsat program is a joint effort between NASA and USGS.

NASA launched the satellite Feb. 11 as the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM). Since then, NASA mission engineers and scientists, with USGS collaboration, have been putting the satellite through its paces -- steering it into its orbit, calibrating the detectors, and collecting test images. Now fully mission-certified, the satellite is under USGS operational control.

"Landsat is a centerpiece of NASA's Earth Science program," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden in Washington. "Landsat 8 carries on a long tradition of Landsat satellites that for more than 40 years have helped us learn how Earth works, to understand how humans are affecting it and to make wiser decisions as stewards of this planet."

Beginning Thursday, USGS specialists will collect at least 400 Landsat 8 scenes every day from around the world to be processed and archived at the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science Center in Sioux Falls. The newest satellite joins Landsat 7, which launched in 1999 and continues to collect images. Since 2008, USGS has provided more than 11 million current and historical Landsat images free of charge to users over the Internet.

"We are very pleased to work with NASA for the good of science and the American people," said U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell in Washington. "The Landsat program allows us all to have a common, easily accessible view of our planet. This is the starting point for a shared understanding of the environmental challenges we face."

Remote-sensing satellites such as the Landsat series help scientists observe the world beyond the power of human sight, monitor changes to the land that may have natural or human causes, and detect critical trends in the conditions of natural resources.

The 41-year Landsat record provides global coverage at a scale that impartially documents natural processes such as volcanic eruptions, glacial retreat and forest fires and shows large-scale human activities such as expanding cities, crop irrigation and forest clear-cuts. The Landsat Program is a sustained effort by the United States to provide direct societal benefits across a wide range of human endeavors including human and environmental health, energy and water management, urban planning, disaster recovery, and agriculture.

With Landsat 8 circling Earth 14 times a day, and in combination with Landsat 7, researchers will be able to use an improved frequency of data from both satellites. The two observation instruments aboard Landsat 8 feature improvements over their earlier counterparts while collecting information that is compatible with 41 years of land images from previous Landsat satellites.

For more information about the Landsat mission, visit: www.nasa.gov/landsat


May 29, 2013

NASA'S NEXT SOLAR MISSION LAUNCH

WASHINGTON -- The Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) mission is scheduled to launch June 26 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

IRIS is a NASA Small Explorer Mission to observe how solar material moves, gathers energy, and heats up as it travels through a little-understood region in the sun's lower atmosphere. This interface region between the sun's photosphere and corona powers its dynamic million-degree atmosphere and drives the solar wind. The region is the origin of most of the ultraviolet solar emission that impacts the near-Earth space environment and Earth's climate.

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

For more information about the IRIS mission, visit: www.nasa.gov/iris


May 23, 2013

NASA EDUCATION OFFERS SUMMER OF INNOVATION 'MINI-AWARDS'

WASHINGTON -- NASA's Summer of Innovation project is accepting proposals through Monday, June 10, from organizations that want to offer students science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) educational experiences this summer.

NASA will grant "mini-awards" of as much as $2,500 each to encourage a wide variety of educational partners, such as museums, schools or school districts, and youth organizations to infuse existing summer and after-school student programs with STEM content.

"Fun and interactive learning experiences are a perfect way to keep students' minds sharp during the summer break," said Leland Melvin, NASA's associate administrator for education in Washington. "NASA centers and other national partners offer great Summer of Innovation opportunities, but the mini-awards allow smaller, non-traditional partners to inspire students in their local communities through creative educational activities."

In 2012, NASA's Office of Education gave more than 200 mini-awards to groups, such as scout troops, church summer camps and similar community-based organizations. The agency expects to issue between 180 and 200 awards this year.

The Summer of Innovation project is designed to improve skills and enhance American middle school students and educators' engagement with STEM disciplines. It provides hands-on learning opportunities and professional development activities through educational activities unique to NASA during the summer. Summer of Innovation is a key component of the agency's broader education program to increase student interest in STEM courses, particularly among those in underserved sectors of the academic community.

To learn more about Summer of Innovation and apply for a 2013 mini-award, visit: www.nasa.gov/soi

To learn more about NASA Education, visit: www.nasa.gov/education


May 20, 2013

NASA SIGNS AGREEMENT WITH UNITED PARADYNE FOR USE OF FACILITY

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida has signed a new partnership agreement with United Paradyne Corporation of Santa Maria, Calif., for use of the Hypergolic Maintenance Facility, or HMF.

The HMF previously was used during NASA's Apollo and Space Shuttle Programs. Because of NASA's transition from the shuttle to future commercial and government mission activities, this agreement allows NASA to preserve the unique facility capabilities for future spaceflight projects.

United Paradyne will utilize the HMF to provide offline processing support services in the storage, delivery, handling and maintenance of hypergolic and green propellant commodities and satellite fueling operations. The company also will provide services to refurbish, manufacture and assemble test ground support equipment.

"Kennedy continues to work with the commercial community to find innovative ways to use and preserve our unique capabilities," said Kennedy Director Bob Cabana. "With the support of organizations such as the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast, Kennedy Space Center is well on its way to becoming a world-class multiuser launch complex. We look forward to our partnership with United Paradyne and its contributions to America's space program."

Under a 15-year lease agreement, United Paradyne will operate and maintain the facility at its own expense. The company, which will access the facility in June, will employ approximately 12 aerospace workers within the first year and has a goal of achieving 50 new jobs over the next four years.

Kennedy's center planning and development team and the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast worked with the company to establish the agreement.

United Paradyne Corporation is a privately held business specializing in hypergolic storage facility operations and satellite fueling services.

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. A dynamic infrastructure is taking shape, designed to host many kinds of spacecraft and rockets sending people on America's next adventures in space.

For more information about United Paradyne Corporation, visit: www.unitedparadyne.com

For more information about Kennedy, visit: www.nasa.gov/kennedy


May 17, 2013

NASA SEEKS PROPOSALS FOR COMMERCIAL OPERATIONS AT LAUNCH PAD 39A

WASHINGTON -- NASA released a synopsis Friday announcing plans to issue an announcement for proposals for the commercial use of Launch Pad 39A at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The announcement is expected next week.

Use of the launch pad by industry is designed to encourage commercial space activities along Florida's Space Coast and fully use the historic launch complex.

Launch Pad 39A originally was designed to support NASA's Apollo Program and later was modified to launch space shuttles. Today, the agency is modernizing nearby Launch Pad 39B to support government and commercial launches, including NASA's heavy-lift Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft, which will provide an entirely new capability for human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit.

"We remain committed to right-sizing our portfolio by reducing the number of facilities that are underused, duplicative, or not required to support the Space Launch System and Orion," said Kennedy Center Director Bob Cabana. "Launch Complex 39A is not required to support our asteroid retrieval mission or our eventual missions to Mars. But it's in the agency's and our nation's best interest in meeting our commitment and direction to enable commercial space operations and allow the aerospace industry to operate and maintain the pad and related facilities."

Assessments conducted by NASA show Launch Pad 39A could serve as a platform for a commercial space company's launch activities if the company assumes financial and technical responsibility of the complex's operations and management. Commercial use of the pad would further support NASA's goal to encourage the commercial use of property the agency does not need for the foreseeable future.

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. A dynamic infrastructure is taking shape, designed to host many kinds of spacecraft and rockets capable of sending people on America's next adventures in space.

To view the full announcement, visit Kennedy Space Center's Business Opportunities page: http://go.nasa.gov/13Bhogu

For more information about NASA and human exploration, visit: www.nasa.gov/exploration


May 15, 2013

SIERRA NEVADA CORPORATION DREAM CHASER TESTING BEGINS AT NASA DRYDEN, LANGLEY

EDWARDS, Calif. -- Sierra Nevada Corporation's (SNC) Space Systems Dream Chaser flight vehicle arrived at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif., Wednesday to begin tests of its flight and runway landing systems.

The tests are part of pre-negotiated, paid-for-performance milestones with NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP), which is facilitating U.S.-led companies' development of spacecraft and rockets that can launch from American soil. The overall goal of CCP is to achieve safe, reliable and cost-effective U.S. human access to and from the International Space Station and low-Earth orbit.

Tests at Dryden will include tow, captive-carry and free-flight tests of the Dream Chaser. A truck will tow the craft down a runway to validate performance of the nose strut, brakes and tires. The captive-carry flights will further examine the loads it will encounter during flight as it is carried by an Erickson Skycrane helicopter. The free flight later this year will test Dream Chaser's aerodynamics through landing.

Meanwhile, on the east coast, several NASA astronauts will be at the agency's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., this week to fly simulations of a Dream Chaser approach and landing to help evaluate the spacecraft's subsonic handling. The test will measure how well the spacecraft would handle in a number of different atmospheric conditions and assess its guidance and navigation performance.

"Unique public-private partnerships like the one between NASA and Sierra Nevada Corporation are creating an industry capable of building the next generation of rockets and spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the scientific proving ground of low-Earth orbit," said William Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for human exploration and operations in Washington. "NASA centers around the country paved the way for 50 years of American human spaceflight, and they're actively working with our partners to test innovative commercial space systems that will continue to ensure American leadership in exploration and discovery."

The Dream Chaser Space System is based on Langley's Horizontal Lander HL-20 lifting body design concept. The design builds on years of analysis and wind tunnel testing by Langley engineers during the 1980s and 1990s. Langley and SNC joined forces six years ago to update the HL-20 design in the Dream Chaser orbital crew vehicle. In those years, SNC has worked to refine the spacecraft design. SNC will continue to test models in Langley wind tunnels. Langley researchers also helped develop a cockpit simulator at SNC's facility in Louisville, Colo., and the flight simulations being assessed at the center. NASA is partnered with SNC, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) and The Boeing Company to meet CCP milestones for integrated crew transportation systems under the Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative. Advances made by these companies under their funded Space Act Agreements ultimately are intended to lead to the availability of commercial human spaceflight services for government and commercial companies.

While NASA works with U.S. industry partners to develop commercial spaceflight capabilities, the agency also is developing the Orion spacecraft and the Space Launch System (SLS), a crew capsule and heavy-lift rocket to provide an entirely new capability for human exploration. Designed to be flexible for launching spacecraft for crew and cargo missions, SLS and Orion will expand human presence beyond low-Earth orbit and enable new missions of exploration in the solar system.

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

For more information about Dream Chaser and Sierra Nevada Corp. Space Systems, visit: www.SNCspace.com


May 10, 2013

NASA SETS TV BRIEFING TODAY TO DISCUSS SPACE STATION STATUS

HOUSTON -- NASA managers will discuss the status of the International Space Station, including the latest on an external cooling loop leak that developed Thursday, during a televised briefing today at 3 p.m. CDT (4 p.m. EDT).

The news briefing will take place at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. It will air live on NASA Television and the agency's website.

Journalists may ask questions from participating NASA locations and through a phone bridge by calling the Johnson newsroom at 281-483-5111 no later than 2:45 p.m.

Mission managers have spent the day reviewing data on the leak, which is located on the station's far port truss, and whether to conduct a spacewalk Saturday to investigate the leak. A final decision on the possible spacewalk is expected later today.

The news briefing participants are:
- Michael Suffredini, International Space Station Program manager
- Norm Knight, NASA chief flight director

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

For more information about the station and the Expedition 35 crew, visit: www.nasa.gov/station


May 10, 2013

LAUNCH OF NASA'S NEXT MISSION TO MARS

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Upcoming launch of NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission.

Liftoff is scheduled for 1:28 p.m. EST Monday, Nov. 18, aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

MAVEN is the second mission for NASA's Mars Scout Program. The mission will obtain critical measurements of the Martian atmosphere to help understand climate change throughout the Red Planet's history. MAVEN is the first spacecraft devoted to exploring and understanding Mars' upper atmosphere. It will orbit the planet in an elongated, or elliptical, orbit that allows it to pass through and sample the entire upper atmosphere on every orbit. The spacecraft will investigate how the loss of Mars' atmosphere to space determined the history of water on the surface.

MAVEN's principal investigator is based at the University of Colorado at Boulder's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. The university will provide science operations and science instruments and lead education and public outreach. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., manages the project and provides two of the science instruments for the mission. Lockheed Martin of Littleton, Colo., built the spacecraft and is responsible for mission operations. The University of California at Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory provides science instruments for the mission. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., provides navigation support, the Deep Space Network and the Electra telecommunications relay hardware and operations.

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

For more information about the MAVEN mission, visit: www.nasa.gov/maven


May 9, 2013

NASA COMMERCIAL PARTNER SIERRA NEVADA COMPLETES SAFETY REVIEW

WASHINGTON -- Sierra Nevada Corp. (SNC) Space Systems of Louisville, Colo., has completed its first major, comprehensive safety review of its Dream Chaser Space System. This is the company's latest paid-for-performance milestone with NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP), which is working with commercial space partners to develop capabilities to launch U.S. astronauts from American soil in the next few years.

The Integrated Systems Safety Analysis Review provided NASA with hazard reports and safety and reliability plans for the major components of the company's integrated crew transportation system, including the Dream Chaser spacecraft, United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, and flight and ground systems.

"Safety review milestones are critical to ensuring safety and reliability techniques and methods are incorporated into space systems design," said Ed Mango, NASA's CCP manager. "NASA's participation in these reviews provides our partners with critical design experiences from past human spaceflight activities."

SNC is developing its Dream Chaser Space System under NASA's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative, which is intended to lead to the availability of commercial human spaceflight services for government and commercial customers.

"Dream Chaser is making substantial progress toward flight with the help of our NASA team," said Mark Sirangelo, head of SNC's Space Systems. "The ability to openly exchange information through the work on these CCiCap milestones is invaluable for many reasons, such as communicating Dream Chaser development plans and receiving timely feedback from NASA, all of which help to improve our design and maximize safety and reliability. As we begin our flight test program we have a better and stronger program due to our partnership with NASA."

A Dream Chaser engineering test craft is being prepared for shipment to NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in California this month for its first free-flight test later this year at the center. The test will provide data on the winged spacecraft's aerodynamic performance during approach and landing on a traditional runway.

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


May 8, 2013

NASA AWARDS CONTRACT TO MODIFY MOBILE LAUNCHER

WASHINGTON -- NASA has awarded a contract to J.P. Donovan Construction Inc. of Rockledge, Fla., to modify the mobile launcher that will enable the agency's Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift rocket to send humans to an asteroid, Mars and other new destinations in the solar system.

The work under this firm fixed-price $20.7 million contract will begin in June and be completed in 18 months.

The mobile launcher is located at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Kennedy is expanding its capabilities to support the SLS rocket and ground support infrastructure. The modifications will enable the mobile launcher to meet vehicle processing deadlines and the launch manifest for SLS.

SLS' first launch is scheduled for 2017. It will be a flight test to send an uncrewed Orion spacecraft into lunar orbit. NASA's asteroid initiative, proposed in the agency's budget request for fiscal year 2014, would use SLS and Orion to send astronauts to study a small asteroid that will have been redirected robotically to a stable orbit near the moon.

Midwest Steel Inc. of Detroit will be a major subcontractor to J.P. Donovan Construction.

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


May 6, 2013

NASA ANNUAL LUNABOTICS MINING COMPETITION

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Fifty teams of undergraduate and graduate students from around the world will demonstrate their lunar excavator robots May 20-24 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The teams have designed and built remote controlled or autonomous robots that can excavate simulated lunar dirt. During the competition, the teams' designs -- known as lunabots -- will go head-to-head to determine which machine can collect and move the most simulated lunar dirt within a specific 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 (STEM) fields by expanding opportunities for student research and design. The project provides a competitive environment to foster innovative ideas and solutions that could potentially be 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.

For more information on Lunabotics 2013, associated activities and social media links to participate virtually, visit: www.nasa.gov/lunabotics

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: www.nasa.gov/ntv

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


April 24, 2013

SPACE STATION SIGHTING OPPORTUNITIES FOR CENTRAL FLORIDA

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Central Florida residents will have several opportunities to see the International Space Station pass overhead this week and next, weather permitting.

The station, with its six-member Expedition 35 crew, is about 260 miles above Earth and will celebrate its 13th anniversary of continuous occupancy in November. Commander Chris Hadfield from the Canadian Space Agency and Flight Engineers Tom Marshburn and Chris Cassidy from NASA, and Roman Romanenko, Pavel Vinogradov and Alexander Misurkin from the Russian Federal Space Agency are conducting important science and technology experiments aboard the complex.

At 9:42 p.m. EDT on Thursday, the station will approach from the northwest and for about one minute will be more than two-thirds of the way up in the sky as it moves to the north/northwest. Sighting opportunities also occur Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday.

The station can be seen every day at various locations around the world just prior to sunrise and just after sunset.

For sighting opportunities from specific cities in Florida, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/KtXV9E

NASA's Spot the Station service sends you an email or text message hours before the space station passes over your house: http://spotthestation.nasa.gov/

For the latest information about the International Space Station, its crews and scientific research taking place onboard, visit: www.nasa.gov/station

For updates about activities at Kennedy, visit the NASA Kennedy News Twitter feed at: www.twitter.com/nasakennedy

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


April 17, 2013

NASA'S NEWEST SOLAR SATELLITE ARRIVES AT VANDENBERG AFB FOR LAUNCH

GREENBELT, Md. -- NASA's Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) satellite arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Tuesday, April 16, to begin its final preparations for launch, currently scheduled no earlier than May 28. IRIS will improve our understanding of how heat and energy move through the deepest levels of the sun's atmosphere, thereby increasing our ability to forecast space weather.

Following final checkouts, the IRIS spacecraft will be placed inside an Orbital Sciences Pegasus rocket. Deployment of the Pegasus from the L-1011 carrier aircraft is targeted for 7:27 p.m. PDT at an altitude of 39,000 feet at a location over the Pacific Ocean about 100 miles northwest of Vandenberg AFB off the central coast of California south of Big Sur.

"IRIS will contribute significantly to our understanding of the interface region between the sun's photosphere and corona," said Joe Davila, IRIS mission scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "This region is crucial for understanding how the corona gets so hot."

IRIS carries a single instrument, a multichannel imaging spectrograph with an ultraviolet (UV) telescope that will help scientists better understand the physical processes in the sun's interface region.

"With the high-resolution images from IRIS, scientists will be able to use advanced computer models to unravel how matter, light and energy move from the sun's 6,000 Kelvin surface to its million Kelvin corona," said Eric Ianson, IRIS mission manager at NASA Goddard. "Scientists will be able to combine data from NASA's IRIS and Solar Dynamics Observatory and the NASA/JAXA Hinode missions to obtain a more comprehensive understanding of the sun's atmosphere."

IRIS is a NASA Small Explorer mission. The program provides frequent flight opportunities for world-class scientific investigations from space using innovative, streamlined and efficient management approaches within the heliophysics and astrophysics areas.

NASA's Launch Services Program at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., is responsible for launch management. Lockheed Martin's Advanced Technology Center Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory in Palo Alto, Calif., designed and built the IRIS spacecraft and instrument. NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., is responsible for mission operations and ground data systems.

For more information about the IRIS mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/iris


April 15, 2013

NASA MARKS THIRD ANNIVERSARY OF OBAMA SUPPORT OF SPACE AT KENNEDY

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA marked the third anniversary Monday of President Obama's speech at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, in which he laid out a plan to ensure the United States will remain the world's leader in space exploration.

Obama's plan includes reaching new destinations, such as an asteroid by 2025 and Mars in the 2030s, using NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the Orion spacecraft. During an anniversary event at Kennedy's Operations and Checkout Building, where Orion spacecraft is being processed for a 2014 flight test, Kennedy Space Center Director Robert Cabana and human spaceflight officials showcased Orion's crew module.

"Three years ago today, the president was here in an empty high bay challenging us to go to an asteroid by 2025," said Cabana. "Today, this is a world-class production facility with a flight article, a flight vehicle, Orion, getting ready to fly next year. We've made tremendous progress in our transition to the future. And now with the announcement from the budget rollout last week about our plans to retrieve an asteroid and send a crew to it, we're moving forward to meet the president's challenge."

Following the president's 2010 visit to Kennedy, Congress passed the bipartisan NASA Authorization Act of 2010. The agency continues to implement the ambitious national space exploration plan outlined in the act. It will enable scientific discovery and technological developments for years to come and make critical advances in aerospace and aeronautics to benefit the American people.

"I am very proud of the progress the NASA team has made over the past three years to meet the president's challenge, aligning our capabilities in human spaceflight, technology and science to capture an asteroid, relocate it and send astronauts to explore it," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden in a statement. "The president's budget for next year advances a strategic plan for the future that builds on U.S. pre-eminence in science and technology, improves life on Earth and protects our home planet, while creating well-paying jobs and strengthening the American economy."

The 2014 flight test will be the first launch of Orion. NASA also is progressing toward a launch of Orion on top of the SLS rocket during a 2017 flight test.

SLS is essential to America's future in human spaceflight and scientific exploration of deep space. It will take humans beyond Earth orbit to an asteroid and Mars. Ground systems development and operations to support launches of SLS and Orion from Kennedy also are well into development. The SLS Program is on track to complete the rocket's preliminary design review this summer. The tools needed to build SLS's massive structure and fuel tanks are being installed at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. The process will include one of the largest welding tools ever built.

In addition, the agency is working with the private sector to develop a strong commercial capability to deliver cargo and crew to low-Earth orbit. The Boeing Co. of Houston plans to use a former space shuttle hangar at Kennedy to process its CST-100 vehicle, one of several spacecraft in development for commercial providers to take astronauts to low-Earth orbit from American soil in the next four years.

The agency continues to develop technologies for traveling farther into space, such as solar electric propulsion, which will power a mission to capture an asteroid and return it to an orbit nearer to Earth. Then astronauts will launch from Kennedy aboard an SLS rocket and fly to the asteroid to study it in an Orion spacecraft by as early as 2021.

For more information about NASA's ongoing work in human spaceflight, visit:
www.nasa.gov/orion
www.nasa.gov/sls
http://go.nasa.gov/groundsystems
www.nasa.gov/exploration/commercial


April 12, 2013

NASA ANNOUNCES CHALLENGES FOR 2013 INTERNATIONAL SPACE APPS CHALLENGE

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA and over 150 partner organizations worldwide will be hosting the International Space Apps Challenge on April 20-21, 2013. The International Space Apps Challenge is a technology development event during which citizens from around the world work together to solve challenges relevant to improving life on Earth and in space.

NASA and its partners have released 50 challenges for the second International Space Apps Challenge, taking place in more than 75 locations around the world, including NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Participants are encouraged to develop software, hardware, data visualization, and mobile/web applications that will contribute to space exploration missions and help improve life on Earth.

The following three challenges were developed by Kennedy Space Center employees:

--Deployable Greenhouse: Develop a conceptual design of a deployable greenhouse that could be used for predeployment on a space mission to the moon or Mars (partial gravity). The greenhouse could arrive at the planet/moon prior to astronauts arriving. The design(s) should specify for which location the greenhouse is intended.

--Envision Kennedy Space Center Spaceport 2040: Design a concept of the Kennedy Space Center Spaceport in 2040, using the spaceport's current state as a starting point. Show government and commercial facilities for the processing and launch operations of orbital and suborbital vehicles. Include the required community planning of research parks, tourism and supporting infrastructure.

--Moonville-Lunar Industry Game: Develop a game to virtually build a lunar industry through a series of "bootstrapping" stages until it becomes self-sustaining. The strategy is to decide which machines to build first and how many of them, using resources launched from Earth and available from the moon. Follow the event progress at the Kennedy Space Center location on Twitter using #SpaceAppsKSC and on Tumblr at http://spaceappsksc.tumblr.com.

To register for a local International Space Apps Challenger event and to find more information, visit: http://spaceappschallenge.org

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


April 12, 2013

NASA TV PROVIDES COVERAGE OF SPACE STATION SPACEWALK

WASHINGTON -- Two members of the Expedition 35 crew will venture outside the International Space Station on April 19 for a six-hour spacewalk to deploy and retrieve several science experiments and install a new navigational aid.

NASA Television will broadcast the spacewalk live beginning at 9:30 a.m. EDT. Russian flight engineers Pavel Vinogradov and Roman Romanenko will open the hatch to the Pirs airlock and docking compartment to start the spacewalk at 10:06 a.m.

The spacewalkers' first task will be to install the Obstanovka experiment on the station's Zvezda service module. Obstanovka will study plasma waves and the effect of space weather on Earth's ionosphere.

They will retrieve the Biorisk experiment, which studied the effect of microbes on spacecraft structures. If time permits, they also will retrieve one section of the Vinoslivost experiment, which exposed materials samples to space.

While at the far end of Zvezda, Vinogradov and Romanenko will replace a faulty retro-reflector device, one of a suite of navigational aids that will provide assistance to the European Space Agency's Albert Einstein Automated Transfer Vehicle 4 cargo ship during its final approach for an automated docking to the space station in June.

This spacewalk will be the 167th in support of space station assembly and maintenance, the seventh for Vinogradov and the first for Romanenko. Both spacewalkers will wear spacesuits marked by blue stripes. Romanenko's suit will be equipped with a helmet camera to provide close-up views of the spacewalk activity as it progresses.

This is the first of as many as six Russian spacewalks planned for this year. Two U.S. spacewalks are scheduled in July.

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

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


April 5, 2013

NASA COMMERCIAL CREW PARTNER BOEING COMPLETES LAUNCH VEHICLE ADAPTER REVIEW

HOUSTON -- The Boeing Company of Houston, a NASA Commercial Crew Program (CCP) partner, has successfully completed a preliminary design review (PDR) of the component that would connect the company's new crew capsule to its rocket.

The review is one of six performance milestones Boeing has completed for NASA's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative, which is intended to make available commercial human spaceflight services for government and commercial customers. The company is on track to complete all 19 of its milestones during CCiCap.

Boeing is one of three U.S. companies NASA is working with during CCiCap to set the stage for a crewed orbital demonstration mission around the middle of the decade. Future development and certification initiatives eventually will lead to the availability of human spaceflight services for NASA to send its astronauts to the International Space Station.

The component that was reviewed is called the Launch Vehicle Adapter. The critical structure is being designed by United Launch Alliance (ULA) to join Boeing's Crew Space Transportation-100 (CST-100) spacecraft to ULA's Atlas V rocket, just above the rocket's second stage.

"Solid systems engineering integration is critical to the design of a safe system," said Ed Mango, NASA's CCP manager. "Boeing and all of NASA's partner companies are working to build in proper systems integration into their designs. This review with Boeing and their partner ULA was a good review of the current state of these important design interfaces."

In recent weeks, teams from NASA, Boeing and ULA met at ULA's headquarters in Denver, Colo., to assess requirements and capabilities to safely launch people into low-Earth orbit from U.S. soil once again. The PDR was a culmination of early development and preliminary analysis to demonstrate the design is ready to proceed with detailed engineering.

"The PDR was an outstanding integrated effort by the Boeing, ULA and NASA teams," said John Mulholland, vice president and program manager of Boeing Commercial Programs. "The ULA design leverages the heritage hardware of the Atlas V to integrate with the CST-100, setting the baseline for us to proceed to wind tunnel testing and the Launch Segment-level PDR in June."

In addition to the Launch Vehicle Adapter PDR, Boeing recently completed two additional CCiCap milestones, including the Engineering Release (ER) 2.0 software release and the Landing and Recovery Ground Systems and Ground Communications design review.

The ER 2.0 software release was completed Jan. 25 in Boeing's Avionics and Software Integration Facility Lab in Houston. This test laid the foundation for the software structure to control and fly the spacecraft, as well as communicate with pilots and ground systems.

The landing and recovery ground systems and ground communications design review Jan. 16 to 18 in Titusville, Fla., established the baseline plan for equipment and infrastructure needed for CST-100 spacecraft ground communications and landing and recovery operations.

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


April 5, 2013

NASA SIGNS AGREEMENT WITH PAR SYSTEMS FOR USE OF UNIQUE FACILITY

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida has signed a new partnership agreement with PaR Systems Inc. of Shoreview, Minn., for use of the Hangar N facility and its unique nondestructive testing (NDT) equipment. The facility is located on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) adjacent to Kennedy.

Because of NASA's transition from the Space Shuttle Program to future commercial and government mission activities, this agreement allows NASA to preserve Hangar N's unique inventory of nondestructive test and evaluation (NDE) equipment and the capability for current and future mission spaceflight support. The government retains ownership of the facility and equipment, which enables PaR Systems to utilize it now and NASA to use it for future spaceflight projects.

"Kennedy Space Center continues to work with the commercial community to find inventive ways to use our unique facilities and equipment," said Kennedy Director Bob Cabana. "We look forward to this new partnership with PaR Systems and its contributions to America's space program."

Under a 15-year lease agreement, PaR Systems will operate and maintain the facility at its own expense to perform nondestructive evaluation testing and other related aerospace, marine and industrial products services. The company will immediately access the facility to begin work.

Hangar N can inspect large structures as well as small commercial and aerospace parts. Its location at CCAFS allows PaR to provide support to NASA's Space Launch System and Orion programs and to commercial launch customers.

Kennedy's business project development team and the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast worked with PaR Systems Inc. to establish the agreement.

PaR Systems Inc. is a privately held business specializing in process automation, robotic solutions and services for critical applications in demanding environments. Initially, eight PaR employees will be based at Kennedy to perform the work. Additional support will be provided by PaR's LaserUT Center of Excellence in Fort Worth, Texas, and its Robotics Headquarters in Shoreview, Minn.

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. A dynamic infrastructure is taking shape, designed to host many kinds of spacecraft and rockets sending people on America's next adventures in space.

For more information about PaR Systems Inc., visit: www.par.com

For more information about Kennedy, visit: www.nasa.gov/kennedy


March 22, 2013

NASA PARTNERS WITH MICRO AEROSPACE SOLUTIONS TO USE KENNEDY LABS

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA has signed an agreement with Micro Aerospace Solutions (MAS) of Melbourne, Fla., for use of an offline hardware processing "clean room" laboratory and office space at Kennedy Space Center's Space Station Processing Facility. Micro Aerospace Solutions will utilize the area to perform small satellite flight hardware and payload assembly, as well as testing and checkout operations.

The initial two-year agreement will allow Micro Aerospace Solutions access to the facility to begin work on April 1, 2013.

Micro Aerospace Solutions is a small business established in 2000, specializing in software, electrical and mechanical design engineering services. The company is involved in a wide variety of engineering disciplines including software engineering, thruster designs, propulsion systems, attitude control, command and data handling, as well as computer and communications systems for small and nanosatellites.

Micro Aerospace Solutions will relocate current employees to Kennedy to perform the work. More employees may be added depending upon pending project announcements. MAS is lead avionics integrator and software developer for the NASA Sunjammer small satellite mission to demonstrate a solar sail for propulsion in space.

For more information about Micro Aerospace Solutions, visit: www.micro-a.net . For more information about Kennedy, visit: www.nasa.gov/kennedy .


March 7, 2013

NASA, LOCKHEED MARTIN ANNOUNCE EXPLORATION DESIGN CHALLENGE FOR STUDENTS

WASHINGTON -- NASA and Lockheed Martin Corp. of Bethesda, Md., will involve students in the flight test of NASA's Orion spacecraft through an Exploration Design Challenge to be unveiled in Houston on Monday, March 11.

Two-time space shuttle astronaut Leland Melvin, now NASA's associate administrator for education, will announce details of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) challenge at 11:30 a.m. EDT (10:30 a.m. CDT) in the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility at NASA's Johnson Space Center. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Marillyn Hewson, president and CEO of Lockheed Martin, will speak. Lockheed Martin is NASA's prime contractor for Orion, which is being built to take people farther than they have ever traveled into space.

The event also will be broadcast on NASA Television and the agency's website. Media representatives who wish to attend must register no later than 5 p.m. CDT, Friday, March 8, with Brandi Dean at brandi.k.dean@nasa.gov.

After the Exploration Design Challenge kickoff, at 11:30 a.m. CDT, NASA will host a Google+ hangout with Melvin and fellow astronaut Rex Walheim, who will be inside a mock-up of the Orion spacecraft discussing its capabilities and answering questions about the future of exploration. To join the Google+ hangout, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/12u0RwZ

The Exploration Design Challenge was developed under a Space Act Agreement between NASA and Lockheed Martin, with support from the National Institute of Aerospace in Hampton, Va.

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

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


March 7, 2013

NASA BRIEFING HIGHLIGHTS EXPEDITION 36-37 SPACE STATION CREW

HOUSTON -- NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston will host a crew news conference at 1 p.m. CDT (2 p.m. EDT) Tuesday, March 19, to preview the May launch of an American, an Italian and a Russian to the International Space Station.

NASA Television and the agency's website will broadcast the briefings live.

Karen Nyberg of NASA, Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency and Fyodor Yurchikhin of the Russian Federal Space Agency will discuss their Expedition 36-37 mission. The trio is set to launch to the station aboard a Soyuz spacecraft May 28 and return to Earth in mid-November. Social media followers, who will be at Johnson for a NASA Social focusing on scientific research aboard the space station, will participate in the briefing and ask questions of the crew.

Nyberg, Parmitano and Yurchikhin are three of the six crew members comprising Expeditions 36 and 37. When they arrive at the station, they will join NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Pavel Vinogradov and Alexsandr Misurkin.

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

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


March 3, 2013

SPACEX'S DRAGON CARRYING NASA CARGO RESUPPLIES SPACE STATION

HOUSTON -- The Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) Dragon spacecraft was berthed to the International Space Station at 8:56 a.m. EST Sunday. The delivery flight was the second contracted resupply mission by the company under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services contract.

Space station Expedition 34 crew members Kevin Ford and Tom Marshburn of NASA used the station's robotic arm to successfully capture Dragon at 5:31 a.m. The capture came one day, 19 hours and 22 minutes after the mission's launch. The station was 253 miles above northern Ukraine. Following its capture, the spacecraft was installed onto the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module through ground commands issued by mission control at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

"The newly arrived scientific experiments delivered by Dragon carry the promise of discoveries that benefit Earth and dramatically increase our understanding of how humans adapt to space," said William Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate in Washington. "Spaceflight will never be risk-free, but it's a critical achievement that we once again have a U.S. capability to transport science to and from the International Space Station. The science delivered and to be returned from the space station has the promise of giving us a unique insight into problems that we face on Earth. As the patch of Expedition 34 states: 'Off the Earth...For the Earth.'"

The Dragon spacecraft lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 10:10 a.m. Friday aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Shortly after spacecraft separation from the rocket's second stage, the Dragon lost three of its four thruster pods. Solar array deployment was delayed while SpaceX engineers worked to purge blocked valves and get the pods back online. Ninety minutes after launch, Dragon's arrays were deployed. By 3 p.m., all four thruster pods were online and attitude control was regained.

Following a series of tests to ensure the spacecraft could safely approach the space station, Dragon was approved to approach the orbiting laboratory Sunday morning, one day after its originally planned arrival, which is not expected to impact any of the scientific investigations being delivered.

Dragon is loaded with about 1,268 pounds (575 kilograms) of supplies to support continuing space station research experiments and will return with about 2,668 pounds (1,210 kilograms) of science samples from human research, biology and biotechnology studies, physical science investigations, and education activities.

Newly delivered investigations include studies of how molecular biology, cells and plants grow in microgravity. One experiment, titled Coarsening in Solid Liquid Mixtures-3, will examine solid and liquid mixtures made of lead and tin that contain a small amount of tin branch-like structures called dendrites. By understanding how temperature and time control the growth of such dendrites, researchers hope to develop more efficient and economical means of producing higher-quality products derived from the casting of molten metals. New student experiments include observing how gravity changes the growth of E. coli bacteria, studying the long-term impact of space travel on small coin-cell-sized batteries, and producing ammonium aluminum sulfate crystals of higher purity than is possible on Earth.

Experiment samples coming back to Earth will help researchers continue to assess the impact of long-duration spaceflight on the human body. Returning plant samples will aid in food production during future long-duration space missions and enhance crop production on Earth. Crystals grown aboard and returning from the station could help in the development of more efficient solar cells and semiconductor-based electronics.

The Dragon capsule is scheduled to spend 22 days attached to the station before returning for a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California March 25.

This flight is the second of at least 12 SpaceX cargo resupply missions to the space station through 2016. The resupply contract with NASA is worth $1.6 billion.

NASA's Space Network, which includes the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System, provided space communications for SpaceX from launch through berthing with the space station.

SpaceX built and tested new cargo spacecraft under NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. NASA initiatives like COTS and the agency's Commercial Crew Program are helping develop a robust U.S. commercial space transportation industry with the goal of achieving safe, reliable and cost-effective transportation to and from the space station and low-Earth orbit. In addition to cargo flights, NASA's commercial space partners are making progress toward a launch of astronauts from U.S. soil within the next few years.

While NASA works with U.S. industry partners to develop and advance these commercial spaceflight capabilities, the agency also is developing the Orion spacecraft and the Space Launch System (SLS), a crew capsule and heavy-lift rocket to provide an entirely new capability for human exploration. Designed to be flexible for launching spacecraft for crew and cargo missions, SLS and Orion will expand human presence beyond low-Earth orbit and enable new missions of exploration in the solar system.

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


Feb. 22, 2013

NASA SET FOR MARCH 1 SPACEX MISSION TO SPACE STATION

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- The second SpaceX mission to the International Space Station under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services contract is scheduled to launch Friday, March 1, from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. NASA Television coverage begins at 8:30 a.m. EST.

The company's Falcon 9 rocket carrying its Dragon cargo capsule will lift off at 10:10 a.m. If needed, a backup launch opportunity is available on March 2 with launch time at 9:47 a.m. and NASA TV coverage beginning at 8 a.m.

The mission is the second of 12 SpaceX flights contracted by NASA to resupply the space station. It will mark the third trip by a Dragon capsule to the orbiting laboratory, following a demonstration flight in May 2012 and the first resupply mission in October 2012.

The capsule will be filled with more than 1,200 pounds of scientific experiments and cargo. It will remain attached to the space station's Harmony module for more than three weeks. The Dragon capsule will splash down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California on March 25, returning more than 2,300 pounds of experiment samples and equipment, which will be recovered for examination by scientists and engineers.

In advance of the launch, NASA will host a briefing on NASA's human deep-space exploration progress at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27, at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. On Thursday, Feb. 28, NASA will host a mission science briefing at 1 p.m. and a prelaunch news conference at 3 p.m. All three briefings will be carried live on NASA TV and the agency's website.

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

For countdown coverage, NASA's launch blog and more information about the mission, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/spacex2

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


Feb. 22, 2013

NASA SELECTS LAUNCH SERVICES FOR ICESAT-2 MISSION

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA's Launch Services Program at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida has selected United Launch Services LLC of Englewood, Colo., to provide Delta II launch services for the Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) mission, currently scheduled for July 2016.

A firm fixed-price launch service task order has been awarded under the indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity NASA Launch Services (NLS) II contract. NASA's total cost to launch ICESat-2 is $96.6 million, including payload processing, integrated services, telemetry, reimbursables and other launch support requirements.

The Delta II rocket will place the ICESat-2 spacecraft into a near-circular Earth polar orbit following liftoff from Space Launch Complex-2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. ICESat-2 is a continuation of the global time series of precision ice topography measurements initiated by the first ICESat mission. ICESat-2 will measure changes in the elevation of the polar ice sheets to understand their contribution to current and future sea-level rise. It also will characterize polar-sea ice thicknesses and global vegetation heights to understand their connections to the Earth system.

Subcontractors performing work for United Launch Services include Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne of Canoga Park, Calif., Alliant Techsystems Inc. of Magna, Utah, and Aerojet of Sacramento, Calif. United Launch Services' United Launch Alliance provides the Delta II and launch services.

NASA's Launch Services Program at Kennedy Space Center is responsible for management of the ICESat-2 launch service acquisition and implementation.

For more information about the ICESat-2 mission, visit: http://icesat.gsfc.nasa.gov/icesat2/

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

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


Feb. 22, 2013

NASA SET FOR MARCH 1 SPACEX MISSION TO SPACE STATION

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- The second SpaceX mission to the International Space Station under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services contract is scheduled to launch Friday, March 1, from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. NASA Television coverage begins at 8:30 a.m. EST.

The company's Falcon 9 rocket carrying its Dragon cargo capsule will lift off at 10:10 a.m. If needed, a backup launch opportunity is available on March 2 with launch time at 9:47 a.m. and NASA TV coverage beginning at 8 a.m.

The mission is the second of 12 SpaceX flights contracted by NASA to resupply the space station. It will mark the third trip by a Dragon capsule to the orbiting laboratory, following a demonstration flight in May 2012 and the first resupply mission in October 2012.

The capsule will be filled with more than 1,200 pounds of scientific experiments and cargo. It will remain attached to the space station's Harmony module for more than three weeks. The Dragon capsule will splash down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California on March 25, returning more than 2,300 pounds of experiment samples and equipment, which will be recovered for examination by scientists and engineers.

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

For countdown coverage, NASA's launch blog and more information about the mission, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/spacex2

For more 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/exploration


Feb. 14, 2013

NASA TARGETS MARCH 1 LAUNCH FOR NEXT SPACEX STATION RESUPPLY MISSION

HOUSTON -- NASA and its international partners are targeting Friday, March 1, as the launch date for the next cargo resupply flight to the International Space Station by Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), designated CRS-2.

Launch is scheduled for 10:10 a.m. EST (9:10 a.m. CST) from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

NASA also is inviting 50 social media users to apply for credentials for the launch. Social media users selected to attend will be given the same access as journalists. All social media accreditation applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Registration for social media accreditation is open online. International social media users without U.S. citizenship must apply for credentials by 5 p.m. EST Friday, Feb. 15, to qualify. For U.S. social media, the deadline to apply is 5 p.m. EST Friday, Feb. 22. For more information about NASA social media accreditation requirements and to register, visit: www.nasa.gov/social

SpaceX's Dragon capsule will be filled with about 1,200 pounds of supplies for the space station crew and experiments being conducted aboard the orbiting laboratory.

On March 2, Expedition 34 Commander Kevin Ford and Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn of NASA will use the station's robot arm to grapple Dragon following its rendezvous with the station. They will attach the Dragon to the Earth-facing port of the station's Harmony module for a few weeks while astronauts unload cargo. They then will load experiment samples for return to Earth.

Dragon is scheduled to return to Earth on March 25 for a parachute-assisted splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California. It will be bringing back more than 2,300 pounds of experiment samples and equipment.

To follow the mission and for more information about the International Space Station, visit: www.nasa.gov/station


Feb. 12, 2013

NASA'S ORION LANDS SAFELY ON TWO OF THREE PARACHUTES IN TEST

WASHINGTON -- NASA engineers have demonstrated the agency's Orion spacecraft can land safely if one of its three main parachutes fails to inflate during deployment.

The test was conducted Tuesday in Yuma, Ariz., with the parachutes attached to a test article. Engineers rigged the parachutes so only two would inflate, leaving the third to flag behind, when the test capsule was dropped from a plane 25,000 feet above the Arizona desert.

"Today is a great validation of the parachute system," said Chris Johnson, a NASA project manager for Orion's parachute system. "We never intend to have a parachute fail, but we've proven that if we do, the system is robust for our crew to make it to the ground safely."

Orion's parachutes will perform in ways no landing system for a spacecraft carrying humans has been required to do before. Because Orion will return to Earth from greater distances, it will re-enter Earth's atmosphere at speeds of more than 20,000 mph. After re-entry, astronauts will rely on the parachutes to slow the spacecraft for a gentle splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.

This 21,000-pound capsule needs only two main parachutes and one drogue parachute. But NASA spacecraft, particularly those carrying humans, are designed to keep working when something goes wrong. So, Orion will be equipped with three main parachutes and two drogues, providing each system one backup parachute.

In December, engineers simulated a failure of one of the drogue parachutes in a test that ended with a safe landing, proving the system design is valid.

Tuesday's test was the eighth parachute engineering development drop test. The next is scheduled for May. The system also will be put to the test in 2014 when Orion makes its first flight test. During the mission, an uncrewed capsule will travel 3,600 miles from Earth, farther than any spacecraft designed to carry humans has gone in more than 40 years.

To join the online conversation about Orion, follow @NASA_Orion and the hashtag #Orion. To learn more about all the ways to connect and collaborate with NASA, visit: www.nasa.gov/connect

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


Feb. 11, 2013

NASA AWARDS PROGRAM INTEGRATION CONTRACT FOR ORION

WASHINGTON -- NASA has selected ARES Technical Services Corp. of Burlingame, Calif., for its program integration contract for Orion.

The cost-plus-fixed-fee services contract has a potential value of $49 million, including options. The contract begins April 1 with a base performance period of two-and-a-half years followed by two one-year options and includes indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity task orders.

ARES will provide products, professional services, and systems engineering and integration services to NASA's Orion Program, which is developing a spacecraft that will send humans farther into space than ever before. ARES will support the program's planning and control, vehicle integration and crew and service module. Additional services include education outreach, and test and verification functions.

Work under the contract will be performed at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, with additional work at other NASA centers and at Orion's prime contractor facilities.

Companies that will support ARES on the contract include MEI Technologies Inc. of Houston.

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

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


Feb. 11, 2013

NASA LAUNCHES NEW EARTH OBSERVATION SATELLITE TO CONTINUE 40-YEAR LEGACY

WASHINGTON -- NASA's Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) roared into space at 1:02 p.m. EST (10:02 a.m. PST) Monday aboard an Atlas V rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The LDCM spacecraft separated from the rocket 79 minutes after launch and the first signal was received three minutes later at a ground station in Svalbard, Norway. The solar arrays deployed 86 minutes after launch, and the spacecraft is generating power from them. LDCM is on course to reach its operational, sun-synchronous, polar orbit 438 miles (705 kilometers) above Earth within two months.

"Landsat is a centerpiece of NASA's Earth Science program, and today's successful launch will extend the longest continuous data record of Earth's surface as seen from space," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "This data is a key tool for monitoring climate change and has led to the improvement of human and biodiversity health, energy and water management, urban planning, disaster recovery and agriculture monitoring -- all resulting in incalculable benefits to the U.S. and world economy."

LDCM will go through a check-out phase for the next three months. Afterward, operational control will be transferred to NASA's mission partner, the Department of the Interior's U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and the satellite will be renamed Landsat 8. Data will be archived and distributed free over the Internet from the Earth Resources and Science (EROS) center in Sioux Falls, S.D. Distribution of Landsat 8 data from the USGS archive is expected to begin within 100 days of launch.

LDCM is the eighth in the Landsat series of satellites that have been continuously observing Earth's land surfaces since 1972.

"Landsat has been delivering invaluable scientific information about our planet for more than forty years," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said. "It's an honor to be a part of today's launch to ensure this critical data will continue to help us better understand our natural resources and help people like water managers, farmers, and resource managers make informed decisions."

The use of Landsat data been transformed in recent years by advancements in computing power and the decision by USGS to allow free online access to the information. This revolution has allowed scientists to detect changes over time to our planet and has enabled a host of applications based on Landsat measurements to be developed by researchers, the private sector, and state, local, and tribal governments.

LDCM continues that legacy with more and better observations. The spacecraft carries two instruments, the Operational Land Imager (OLI) and Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS). The measurements will be compatible with data from past Landsat satellites, but the LDCM instruments use advanced technology to improve reliability, sensitivity, and data quality.

"LDCM is the best Landsat satellite ever built," said Jim Irons, a LDCM project scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "The technology will advance and improve the array of scientific investigations and resource management applications supported by Landsat images. I anticipate new knowledge and applications to emerge with an increasing demand for the data."

OLI will continue observations currently made by Landsat 7 in the visible, near infrared, and shortwave infrared portions of the electromagnetic spectrum. It also will take measurements in two new bands, one to observe high-altitude cirrus clouds and another to observe atmospheric aerosols, as well as water quality in lakes and shallow coastal waters. OLI's new design has fewer moving parts than instruments on previous Landsat satellites.

TIRS will collect data on heat emitted from Earth's surface in two thermal bands, as compared with a single thermal band on previous Landsat satellites. These thermal band observations are becoming increasingly vital to monitoring water consumption, especially in the arid western United States.

On Monday afternoon, Bolden will tour Vandenberg's Space Launch Complex 4, which is home to a new Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) launch pad. The pad is nearing completion to support SpaceX launches beginning in 2013. NASA's first use will be in 2015 with the launch of the Jason-3 mission, which will precisely measure sea surface height on Earth to monitor ocean circulation and sea level. SpaceX is the newest American company to demonstrate the capability to launch science missions for NASA and other government agencies. Jason-3 will be developed and operated as part of an international effort led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Bolden also will see the Orbital Sciences Pegasus rocket, being readied at Vandenberg, for the launch this April of NASA's Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) heliophysics mission.

Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. built the OLI instrument in Boulder, Colo. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center built the TIRS instrument. Orbital Sciences Corp. built, integrated, and tested the spacecraft in Gilbert, Ariz. USGS provided the LDCM ground system. The launch was managed by NASA's Launch Services Program based at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. United Launch Alliance provided the Atlas V launch vehicle.

For more information about LDCM, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/landsat and http://landsat.usgs.gov


Jan. 30, 2013

NASA LAUNCHES NEXT-GENERATION COMMUNICATIONS SATELLITE

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- The first of NASA's three next-generation Tracking and Data Relay Satellites (TDRS), known as TDRS-K, launched at 8:48 p.m. EST Wednesday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

"TDRS-K bolsters our network of satellites that provides essential communications to support space exploration," said Badri Younes, deputy associate administrator for Space Communications and Navigation at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "It will improve the overall health and longevity of our system."

The TDRS system provides tracking, telemetry, command and high-bandwidth data return services for numerous science and human exploration missions orbiting Earth. These include the International Space Station and NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.

"With this launch, NASA has begun the replenishment of our aging space network," said Jeffrey Gramling, TDRS project manager. "This addition to our current fleet of seven will provide even greater capabilities to a network that has become key to enabling many of NASA's scientific discoveries."

TDRS-K was lifted into orbit aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41. After a three-month test phase, NASA will accept the spacecraft for additional evaluation before putting the satellite into service.

The TDRS-K spacecraft includes several modifications from older satellites in the TDRS system, including redesigned telecommunications payload electronics and a high-performance solar panel designed for more spacecraft power to meet growing S-band requirements. Another significant design change, the return to ground-based processing of data, will allow the system to service more customers with evolving communication requirements.

The next TDRS spacecraft, TDRS-L, is scheduled for launch in 2014. TDRS-M's manufacturing process will be completed in 2015.

NASA's Space Communications and Navigation Program, part of the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at the agency's Headquarters in Washington, is responsible for the space network. The TDRS Project Office at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., manages the TDRS development program. Launch services were provided by United Launch Alliance. NASA's Launch Services Program at the Kennedy Space Center was responsible for acquisition of launch services.

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


Jan. 25, 2013

LDCM SATELLITE READY FOR LAUNCH

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The launch of NASA's Landsat Data Continuity Mission, or LDCM satellite, aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 rocket is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 11.

Liftoff from Space Launch Complex 3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB), Calif., is targeted to occur at the opening of a 48-minute launch window that extends from 10:02 a.m. to 10:50 a.m. PST (1:02 to 1:50 p.m. EST). The spacecraft's final circular polar orbit will be 438 miles (705 kilometers) at an inclination of 98.2 degrees.

LDCM is a joint NASA and U.S. Geological Survey mission. It is the eighth satellite in the Landsat series, which began in 1972, and will add to the longest continuous data record of Earth's surface as viewed from space. The mission will extend the history of global land observations that are critical in many areas, such as energy and water management, forest monitoring, human and environmental health, urban planning, disaster recovery and agriculture.

NASA's LDCM mission website at: www.nasa.gov/landsat

The NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., is responsible for the project management of LDCM. Orbital Sciences Corp. built the LDCM satellite. NASA's Launch Services Program at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida provides launch management. United Launch Alliance of Denver, Colo., is NASA's launch service provider of the Atlas V 401 rocket. After launch and the initial checkout phase, the U. S. Geological Survey will take operational control of the satellite, and LDCM will be renamed Landsat 8.


Jan. 24, 2013

NASA DAY OF REMEMBRANCE FEB. 1 AT KENNEDY SPACE CENTER

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla., 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 observance on Friday, Feb. 1, the 10th anniversary of the Columbia tragedy.

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

Ceremony speakers include:

The Astronauts Memorial Foundation, a private, not-for-profit organization, built and maintains the Space Mirror Memorial. It was dedicated in 1991 to honor all astronauts who lost their lives on missions or during training and has been designated a National Memorial by Congress.

The ceremony will be broadcast live on NASA Television. For NASA Television downlink information, schedule information and streaming video, visit: www.nasa.gov/ntv

Images of the service will be available in Kennedy's Media Gallery online at: http://mediaarchive.ksc.nasa.gov

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


Jan. 23, 2013

NASA POSTPONES LAUNCH OF TDRS-K

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- The launch of NASA's TDRS-K Tracking and Data Relay Satellite aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket is being rescheduled to Jan. 30. The launch window is 8:48 to 9:28 p.m. EST, a duration of 40 minutes.

The one-day postponement allows technicians additional time to replace an Ordnance Remote Control Assembly (ORCA) that gave an anomalous signal indication prior to planned ordnance connections.

The standard Launch Readiness Review is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 28. At the conclusion of this review, the "go" is given for the Atlas V rollout to the launch pad.

Rollout is targeted for 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 29.

Launch coverage on NASA Television and the Web will begin at 6:15 p.m. on Jan. 30.

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


Jan. 11, 2013

NASA TDRS-K/ATLAS V LAUNCH

Aniticipated launch of Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-K, or TDRS-K, aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 rocket Jan. 29. The 40-minute launch window extends from 8:52 to 9:32 p.m. EST. Liftoff will occur from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

TDRS-K is the first of three next-generation satellites designed to ensure vital operational continuity for NASA. Each of the new satellites has a higher performance solar panel design for more spacecraft power to meet the growing S-band communications requirements. The TDRS system provides critical support from several locations in geostationary orbit for an array of science and human exploration missions orbiting Earth. These include the Hubble Space Telescope and the International Space Station.

NASA Television Coverage

On Monday, Jan. 28, NASA Television will carry the TDRS-K prelaunch news conference and mission science briefing live beginning at 1 p.m. EST.

On Tuesday, Jan. 29, NASA Television coverage of the launch will begin at 6:15 p.m. and conclude after the TDRS-K 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

NASA Web Prelaunch and Launch Coverage

Extensive prelaunch and launch day coverage of the liftoff of the TDRS-K 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-K mission will be streamed on NASA's website at noon on Monday, Jan. 28. Live countdown coverage through NASA's Launch Blog begins at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 29. Coveragefeatures live updates as countdown milestones occur, as well as streaming video clips highlighting launch preparations and liftoff.

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

Social Media

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

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


Jan. 10, 2013

NASA PREPARES FOR LAUNCH OF NEXT EARTH OBSERVATION SATELLITE

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA's Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) is scheduled to launch Feb. 11 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. A joint NASA and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) mission, LDCM will add to the longest continuous data record of Earth's surface as viewed from space.

LDCM is the eighth satellite in the Landsat series, which began in 1972. The mission will extend more than 40 years of global land observations that are critical in many areas, such as energy and water management, forest monitoring, human and environmental health, urban planning, disaster recovery and agriculture. NASA and the USGS jointly manage the Landsat Program.

"For decades, Landsat has played an important part in NASA's mission to advance Earth system science. LDCM promises to extend and expand that capability," said Michael Freilich, director of the Earth Science Division in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "USGS's policy of offering free and open access to the phenomenal 40-year Landsat data record will continue to give the United States and global research community a better understanding of the changes occurring on our planet."

After launch, LDCM will enter a polar orbit, circling the Earth about 14 times daily from an altitude of 438 miles (705 kilometers), returning over each location on Earth every 16 days. After launch and the initial checkout phase, the USGS will take operational control of the satellite, and LDCM will be renamed Landsat 8. Data will be downlinked to three ground stations in Gilmore Creek, Alaska; Svalbard, Norway; and Sioux Falls, S.D. The data will be archived and distributed at no cost to users from the USGS's Earth Resources Observation and Science Center in Sioux Falls.

"The Landsat program provides the nation with crucial, impartial data about its natural resources," said Matthew Larsen, USGS associate director for climate and land use change in Reston, Va. "Forest managers, for instance, use Landsat's recurring imagery to monitor the status of woodlands in near real-time. Landsat-based approaches also now are being used in most western states for cost-effective allocation of water for irrigation. This mission will continue that vital role."

LDCM carries two instruments, the Operational Land Imager (OLI), built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo., and the Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS), built by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. These instruments are designed to improve performance and reliability over previous Landsat sensors.

"LDCM will be the best Landsat satellite yet launched in terms of the quality and quantity of the data collected by the LDCM sensors," said Jim Irons, LDCM project scientist at Goddard. "OLI and TIRS both employ technological advances that will make the observations more sensitive to the variation across the landscape and to changes in the land surface over time."

OLI will continue observations currently made by Landsat 7 in the visible, near infrared, and shortwave infrared portions of the electromagnetic spectrum. It also will take measurements in two new bands, one to observe high altitude cirrus clouds and one to observe water quality in lakes and shallow coastal oceans as well as aerosols. OLI's new design has fewer moving parts than previous versions.

TIRS will collect data on heat emitted from Earth's surface in two thermal bands, as opposed to the single thermal band on previous Landsat satellites. Observations in the thermal bands are vital to monitoring water consumption, especially in the arid western United States.

The LDCM spacecraft, built by Orbital Sciences Corp. in Gilbert, Ariz., will launch from Vandenberg's Space Complex 3 aboard an Atlas V rocket provided by United Launch Alliance. NASA's Launch Services Program at Kennedy Space Center is responsible for launch management.

For more information on LDCM and the Landsat Program, visit: www.nasa.gov/Landsat and http://landsat.usgs.gov


Jan. 2, 2013

NASA AWARDS CONTRACT FOR INSTITUTIONAL SUPPORT SERVICES

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA has awarded the Kennedy Space Center Institutional Support Services III, or KISS III, contract to Wichita Tribal Enterprises, LLC of Tulsa, Okla.

KISS III begins Feb. 1. The contract has a seven-month base period and options to extend the work through Sept. 30, 2016. If all options are exercised, the maximum potential value for the three-year, seven-month indefinite-delivery-indefinite-quantity contract is $48 million.

Wichita Tribal Enterprises will provide institutional support services in areas such as technical training, clerical support, financial management support, personnel program activity, employee development and training, employee benefits, personnel action processing, procurement administration and analyst support, business systems support, and records management.

REDE/Critique JV of New Orleans, La., will perform work on KISS III as a subcontractor to Wichita Tribal Enterprises.

For more information about Kennedy, visit: www.nasa.gov/kennedy

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


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2012

Dec. 18, 2012

NASA'S NEXT-GENERATION COMMUNICATIONS SATELLITE ARRIVES AT KENNEDY

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA's newest Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, known as TDRS-K, arrived Tuesday at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida in preparation for a Jan. 29 launch. TDRS-K arrived aboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 from the Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems assembly facility in El Segundo, Calif.

For almost 30 years, the TDRS spacecraft have provided a reliable communications network for NASA, serving numerous national and international space missions. The TDRS fleet is a space-based communication system used to provide tracking, telemetry, command, and high bandwidth data return services. The satellites provide in-flight communications with spacecraft operating in low-Earth orbit. It has been 10 years since NASA's last TDRS launch.

"This launch will provide even greater capabilities to a network that has become key to enabling many of NASA's scientific discoveries," said Jeffrey Gramling, project manager for TDRS at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

TDRS-K will launch to geostationary orbit aboard an Atlas V rocket. The spacecraft is the first of three next-generation satellites designed to ensure vital operational continuity for NASA by expanding the lifespan of the fleet. The launch of TDRS-L is scheduled for 2014 and TDRS-M in 2015.

Each of the new satellites has a higher performance solar panel design to provide more spacecraft power. This upgrade will return signal processing for the S-band multiple access service to the ground -- the same as the first-generation TDRS spacecraft. Ground-based processing allows TDRS to service more customers with different and evolving communication requirements.

The TDRS fleet began operating during the space shuttle era and provides critical communication support from several locations in geostationary orbit to NASA's human spaceflight endeavors, including the International Space Station. The fleet also provides communications support to an array of science missions, as well as various types of launch vehicles. Of the nine TDRS satellites launched, seven are still operational, although four are already beyond their design life. Two have been retired. The second TDRS was lost in 1986 during the space shuttle Challenger accident.

NASA's Space Communications and Navigation Program, part of the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at the agency's Headquarters in Washington, is responsible for the TDRS network.

NASA's Launch Services Program at Kennedy is responsible for launch management. United Launch Alliance provides the Atlas V rocket launch service.

To join the online conversation about TDRS on Twitter, follow the hashtag #TDRS. To learn more about all the ways to connect and collaborate with NASA, visit: www.nasa.gov/connect

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


Dec. 17, 2012

NASA KENNEDY SPACE CENTER 2012 REVIEW, LOOK AHEAD

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- In 2012, NASA's Kennedy Space Center celebrated its 50th year and continued transitioning from a historically government-only launch facility to an affordable and sustainable multiuser spaceport of the future.

Kennedy teams were involved in launching four missions this year: two on expendable launch vehicles and two commercial flights to the International Space Station. The center also prepared and transported NASA's three space shuttles to their final display sites, established strategic partnerships and began the refurbishment of existing infrastructure for future uses.

NASA's Launch Services Program (LSP), based at Kennedy, launched its first mission of the year June 13, more than 7,000 miles from Florida's Space Coast in the Pacific Ocean. NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) began its two-year mission aboard an Orbital Sciences' Pegasus XL rocket launched from the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Now operating in a low-Earth equatorial orbit, NuSTAR is studying high-energy X-ray light to reveal black holes lurking in our Milky Way galaxy and those hidden in the hearts of faraway galaxies.

On Aug. 30, NASA's Radiation Belt Storm Probes mission began with a thundering early morning liftoff aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Now called the Van Allen Probes, the two identical spacecraft loaded with scientific instruments are following each other through two extreme and dynamic regions of space that surround Earth. The pair now is providing unprecedented details about the Van Allen region, which can affect Earth's communications systems and electric power grids.

Kennedy LSP workers also marched toward three launches planned for 2013, one from Florida and two from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base. Targeted to take off early next year, TDRS-K, beginning the next generation of advanced Tracking and Data Relay Satellites (TDRS), will become the latest piece of NASA's telemetry and communications network. The Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) is on track to obtain data and imagery for agriculture purposes, disaster response efforts and ecosystem research. The Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) will then take off to help scientists understand how the solar atmosphere is energized.

Work to open a new frontier in space and invest in the American commercial aerospace industry also began to pay off this year.

The Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) Dragon capsule became the first commercial spacecraft to berth to the International Space Station on May 25 after launching three days earlier atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. As the company's second demonstration mission for NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program, the flight opened the door for regularly transporting critical cargo and research to and from the station.

A few months later, SpaceX transitioned to the Commercial Resupply Services phase, launching its first of 12 contracted resupply missions to the station. Lifting off on Oct. 7, the Dragon spacecraft embarked on a journey to deliver about 1,000 pounds of supplies to the orbiting laboratory. It also carried with it critical materials to support about 170 investigations, some of which stemmed from Kennedy's Engineering and Technology Directorate and the International Space Station Ground Processing and Research Directorate.

These commercial cargo flights provide a glimpse of what commercial crew transportation services to low-Earth orbit might look like in the future. Working with seven commercial partners during the Commercial Crew Development Round 2 phase, NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP) continued to move promising spacecraft and launch vehicles concepts forward.

The program then signed new agreements in August with three companies for the Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative. Until mid-2014, CCP will work with SpaceX, Sierra Nevada Corp. (SNC) and The Boeing Company as they complete their integrated spacecraft and launch vehicle designs, test their hardware, and showcase how they would operate and manage missions from launch through orbit and landing.

All three companies have chosen to base their launch operations at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, which is expected to bring hundreds of high-paying jobs to the area within the next five years. In an effort to cut down on cost, Boeing has decided to build its CST-100 spacecraft close to its United Launch Alliance Atlas V launch site. The company is working with Space Florida to modernize Kennedy's former Orbiter Processing Facility-3, now called the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility, and plans to occupy the facility in the summer of 2013.

CCP also awarded the first phase of contracts in certification efforts for crewed missions to the space station. The two-phase approach of Certification Products Contracts (CPC), awarded to the same three companies, will run concurrently with CCiCap. The CPC phase will allow NASA and industry to iron out how systems in development could meet all of the agency's safety and performance requirements.

By investing in American-led commercial space transportation systems for low-Earth orbit missions, NASA can focus on exploring farther than ever before with its own rocket and spacecraft.

The agency's first space-bound Orion spacecraft arrived at Kennedy on June 28. It now is being processed and tested for flight in the Operations and Checkout building high bay. The first uncrewed mission of Orion, called Exploration Flight Test-1, is targeted to launch atop a Delta IV rocket in 2014. NASA also is designing a heavy-lift rocket called the Space Launch System (SLS) that will launch future Orion spacecraft and astronauts farther into space than ever before from Kennedy.

To position the center as a premier launch site for both government and commercial spaceflight missions, NASA's Ground Systems Development and Operations (GSDO) Program is developing multipurpose ground systems and upgrading infrastructure and facilities.

This year, the program removed hundreds of miles of cables, replacing it with state-of-the-art command, control and communication systems in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) and at Pad 39B. Workers also removed space shuttle-era work platforms from the VAB to make room for a more flexible concept and began to upgrade a legacy crawler-transporter to support the SLS.

While preparing for the future, Kennedy workers closed out a historical chapter in human spaceflight. The team methodically processed space shuttles Discovery, Endeavour and Atlantis for their new missions to educate and inspire America's next generation of explorers at display sites across the country. They also preserved unique shuttle-era hardware that NASA could call on for the future, such as the space shuttle main engines set to be repurposed for use on the SLS.

Shuttle Discovery was the first to depart Kennedy when it took off atop the agency's Shuttle Carrier Aircraft on April 17. The ferry flight to the Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia took about four hours. The agency's most-flown shuttle then was transported to its new home at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va.

On Sept. 21, Endeavour made a three-day cross-country trek to Los Angeles with flyovers above NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility near New Orleans and Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, several points around Houston and numerous California landmarks. The agency's youngest shuttle then was honored with a two-day, 12-mile parade as it traveled to the California Science Center.

NASA gave its final shuttle a grand sendoff as it moved Atlantis from the VAB to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex on Nov. 2. Shuttle-era astronauts and members of the workforce who readied the shuttles for 30 years cheered as Atlantis made a final daylong 10-mile trip through Kennedy's Launch Complex 39, Industrial Area and Exploration Park. A fireworks display that night welcomed Atlantis to its new home, which is set to open to the public next summer.

Inside the still-under-construction 90,000-square-foot exhibit hall, Atlantis has been raised 36 feet off the ground and rotated 43.21 degrees. From that angle, visitors will see Atlantis as only its mission crew members have, as if it were in space with its payload bay doors open and robotic arm extended.

Celebrating the many accomplishments of Kennedy and its workforce was a reoccurring theme throughout the year. In February, NASA commemorated the 50-year anniversary of the Mercury-Atlas 6 mission, the successful first attempt at sending an American into orbit. The center then celebrated its own anniversary in July, marking five decades of launching humans and machines into space.

In September, Kennedy hosted its first Innovation Expo to highlight employee innovations and spur collaboration for future center and agency endeavors. Shops, laboratories and facilities offered tours and exhibits across Kennedy and at NASA facilities at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Inspirational speakers also came in from outside companies and Kennedy researchers had an opportunity to show off some of their work.

Many organizations across Kennedy collaborated to host a record-turnout year for its high-energy Lunabotics Mining Competition. Thirty-eight U.S. and 17 international college and university teams spent months designing and building their versions of remote-controlled or autonomous excavators, called lunabots, before heading to Kennedy to test them out in a large sandbox filled with lunar regolith simulant.

Another lunar terrain-focused project met with success in 2012. NASA's Regolith and Environment Science and Oxygen and Lunar Volatile Extraction payload was installed on the Canadian Space Agency rover, dubbed Artemis Jr., at Kennedy. The duo and a team of center engineers then traveled to Hilo, Hawaii, where the terrain is similar to the moon's to test how their tools and equipment would drill for resources.

Partnering with commercial customers has been a key focus of the Center Planning and Development Office as Kennedy becomes less program-centric and more capability-centric.

In July, the agency partnered with Craig Technologies of Melbourne, Fla., to maintain an inventory of unique processing and manufacturing equipment for future mission support. Also in July, Kennedy signed a Space Act Agreement with Cella Energy Inc. to base some of its offices in the Space Life Sciences Laboratory. There, Cella is researching the ability to power vehicles with hydrogen adding to the center's sustainability efforts.

As the United States embarks on a new era of spaceflight through government and commercial partnerships, Kennedy will continue to build off its rich history of launching humans and machines farther than imagined and remain the nation's premier launch complex for decades to come.

For more information about NASA's Kennedy Space Center and the missions and programs it supports, visit: www.nasa.gov/kennedy


Dec. 17, 2012

NASA AWARDS TEST AND OPERATIONS SUPPORT CONTRACT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA has awarded its Test and Operations Support Contract, or TOSC, to Jacobs Technology Inc. of Tullahoma, Tenn. Jacobs will provide overall management and implementation of ground systems capabilities, flight hardware processing and launch operations at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. These tasks will support the International Space Station, Ground Systems Development and Operations, and the Space Launch System, Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and Launch Services programs.

The contract begins March 1, 2013, following a two-month phase-in period beginning Jan. 2. The contract has a one-year, seven-month base period and options to extend the work through Sept. 30, 2022. The maximum potential value for the nine-year, seven-month cost-plus-award-fee contract is $1.37 billion if NASA exercises all options.

Jacobs will provide services to meet NASA requirements, including support to the agency's programs, commercial entities and other government agencies. These services include launch vehicle, spacecraft and payload integration and processing; operations and development of associated processes and ground systems to support integration, processing and launch; servicing and testing of flight hardware; and launch of development and operational flights at Kennedy.

Subcontractors working with Jacobs on the contract include Engineering Research and Consulting Inc., or ERC, of Huntsville, Ala., and Aerodyne Industries LLC, of Oldsmar, Fla.

With the award of this contract, Kennedy is positioning itself for the next era of space exploration. Kennedy is transitioning to a 21st-century launch facility with multiple users, both private and government. A dynamic infrastructure is taking shape, designed to host many kinds of spacecraft and rockets sending people on America's next voyages in space.

For more information about Kennedy, visit: www.nasa.gov/kennedy

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


Dec. 10, 2012

NASA AWARDS CONTRACTS IN NEXT STEP TOWARD SAFELY LAUNCHING AMERICAN ASTRONAUTS FROM U.S. SOIL

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA announced Monday the next step in its plan to launch American astronauts from U.S. soil, selecting three companies to conduct activities under contracts that will enable future certification of commercial spacecraft as safe to carry humans to the International Space Station.

Advances made by these American companies during the first contract phase known as the certification products contracts (CPC) will begin the process of ensuring integrated crew transportation systems will meet agency safety requirements and standards to launch American astronauts to the International Space Station from the United States, ending the agency's reliance on Russia for these transportation services. The second phase of certification will result in a separately competed contract.

CPC contractors are:

"These contracts represent important progress in restoring human spaceflight capabilities to the United States," said Phil McAlister, director of the Commercial Spaceflight Development Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "NASA and its industry partners are committed to the goal of safely and cost-effectively launching astronauts from home within the next five years."

During the Phase 1 CPC contracts, from Jan. 22, 2013, through May 30, 2014, the companies will work with NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP) to discuss and develop products to implement the agency's flight safety and performance requirements. This includes implementation across all aspects of the space system, including the spacecraft, launch vehicle, and ground and mission operations.

Under the contract, a certification plan will be developed to achieve safe, crewed missions to the space station. This includes data that will result in developing engineering standards, tests and analyses of the crew transportation systems design.

"I congratulate the three companies for their selection," said Ed Mango, CCP manager at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. "This is the program's first major, fixed-price contract. The effort will bring space system designs within NASA's safety and performance expectations for future flights to the International Space Station."

The second phase of the certification contract, expected to begin in mid-2014, will involve a full and open competition. It will include the final development, testing and verifications necessary to allow crewed demonstration flights to the space station.

NASA is facilitating the development of U.S. commercial crew space transportation capabilities with the goal of achieving safe, reliable and cost-effective access to and from low-Earth orbit for potential future government and commercial customers.

While NASA works with U.S. industry partners to develop these capabilities, the agency also is developing the Orion spacecraft and the Space Launch System (SLS), a crew capsule and heavy-lift rocket to provide an entirely new capability for human exploration. Designed to be flexible for launching spacecraft for crew and cargo missions, SLS and Orion will expand human presence beyond low-Earth orbit and enable new missions of exploration in the solar system.

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


Nov. 29, 2012

NASA SPACECRAFT FINDS NEW EVIDENCE FOR WATER ICE ON MERCURY

WASHINGTON -- A NASA spacecraft studying Mercury has provided compelling support for the long-held hypothesis the planet harbors abundant water ice and other frozen volatile materials within its permanently shadowed polar craters.

The new information comes from NASA's MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft. Its onboard instruments have been studying Mercury in unprecedented detail since its historic arrival there in March 2011. Scientists are seeing clearly for the first time a chapter in the story of how the inner planets, including Earth, acquired their water and some of the chemical building blocks for life.

"The new data indicate the water ice in Mercury's polar regions, if spread over an area the size of Washington, D.C., would be more than 2 miles thick," said David Lawrence, a MESSENGER participating scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., and lead author of one of three papers describing the findings. The papers were published online in Thursday's edition of Science Express.

Spacecraft instruments completed the first measurements of excess hydrogen at Mercury's north pole, made the first measurements of the reflectivity of Mercury's polar deposits at near-infrared wavelengths, and enabled the first detailed models of the surface and near-surface temperatures of Mercury's north polar regions.

MESSENGER launched at 2:15:56 a.m. EDT on Aug. 3, 2004, aboard a Boeing Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The countdown and launch were managed by NASA's Launch Services Program based at Kennedy Space Center.

Given its proximity to the sun, Mercury would seem to be an unlikely place to find ice. However, the tilt of Mercury's rotational axis is less than one degree, and as a result, there are pockets at the planet's poles that never see sunlight.

Scientists suggested decades ago there might be water ice and other frozen volatiles trapped at Mercury's poles. The idea received a boost in 1991 when the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico detected radar-bright patches at Mercury's poles. Many of these patches corresponded to the locations of large impact craters mapped by NASA's Mariner 10 spacecraft in the 1970s. However, because Mariner saw less than 50 percent of the planet, planetary scientists lacked a complete diagram of the poles to compare with the radar images.

Images from the spacecraft taken in 2011 and earlier this year confirmed all radar-bright features at Mercury's north and south poles lie within shadowed regions on the planet's surface. These findings are consistent with the water ice hypothesis.

The new observations from MESSENGER support the idea that ice is the major constituent of Mercury's north polar deposits. These measurements also reveal ice is exposed at the surface in the coldest of those deposits, but buried beneath unusually dark material across most of the deposits. In the areas where ice is buried, temperatures at the surface are slightly too warm for ice to be stable.

MESSENGER's neutron spectrometer provides a measure of average hydrogen concentrations within Mercury's radar-bright regions. Water ice concentrations are derived from the hydrogen measurements.

"We estimate from our neutron measurements the water ice lies beneath a layer that has much less hydrogen. The surface layer is between 10 and 20 centimeters [4-8 inches] thick," Lawrence said.

Additional data from detailed topography maps compiled by the spacecraft corroborate the radar results and neutron measurements of Mercury's polar region. In a second paper by Gregory Neumann of NASA's Goddard Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., measurements of the shadowed north polar regions reveal irregular dark and bright deposits at near-infrared wavelength near Mercury's north pole.

"Nobody had seen these dark regions on Mercury before, so they were mysterious at first," Neumann said.

The spacecraft recorded dark patches with diminished reflectance, consistent with the theory that ice in those areas is covered by a thermally insulating layer. Neumann suggests impacts of comets or volatile-rich asteroids could have provided both the dark and bright deposits, a finding corroborated in a third paper led by David Paige of the University of California at Los Angeles.

"The dark material is likely a mix of complex organic compounds delivered to Mercury by the impacts of comets and volatile-rich asteroids, the same objects that likely delivered water to the innermost planet," Paige said.

This dark insulating material is a new wrinkle to the story, according to MESSENGER principal investigator Sean Solomon of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, N.Y.

"For more than 20 years, the jury has been deliberating whether the planet closest to the sun hosts abundant water ice in its permanently shadowed polar regions," Solomon said. "MESSENGER now has supplied a unanimous affirmative verdict."

MESSENGER was designed and built by APL. The lab manages and operates the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The mission is part of NASA's Discovery Program, managed for the directorate by the agency's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

For more information about the Mercury mission, visit: www.nasa.gov/messenger


Nov. 28, 2012

NASA, ROSCOSMOS HOLD BRIEFINGS AND INTERVIEWS DEC. 5 FOR YEARLONG SPACE STATION MISSION

HOUSTON -- NASA and the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) will hold two briefings on Wednesday, Dec. 5, beginning at 9 a.m. EST, to preview the upcoming yearlong expedition by two crew members aboard the International Space Station. NASA Television and the agency's website will carry the briefings live.

Scott Kelly of NASA and Mikhail Kornienko of Roscosmos will launch to the station in early 2015 to begin a yearlong stay aboard the orbiting laboratory. This will be the longest time an American has spent in space on a single mission.

Both briefings will take place at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston and will include participants at Johnson and the Russian Mission Control Center outside of Moscow. Questions will be taken during both briefings from media at NASA centers and the Russian control center. A limited number of questions from media also will be taken via Johnson's phone lines.

The programmatic news conference at 9 a.m. will include:

The crew news conference at 10 a.m. will include Kelly and Kornienko.

Individual interviews with Kelly and Robinson will be available to media immediately after the crew news conference.

For those attending at Johnson, the deadline for U.S. reporters to request credentials is Monday, Dec. 3. The deadline for international residents is Thursday, Nov. 29. Reporters attending at other centers should contact those centers' newsrooms for specific deadlines.

To participate via the phone, reporters must contact the Johnson newsroom by noon on Tuesday, Dec. 4, at 281-483-5111, to request approval. Approved media will be notified that afternoon and will be required to call the Johnson newsroom at least 15 minutes before the start of the first briefing on Wednesday. Media will not be able to connect after the beginning of that briefing.

Reporters requesting individual interviews with Kelly and Robinson need to contact Gayle Frere in the Johnson newsroom by Friday, Nov. 30.

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

Join the conversation on Twitter by following the hashtag #ISS. To learn more about all the ways to Connect and Collaborate with NASA, visit: www.nasa.gov/connect

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


Nov. 26, 2012

NASA AWARDS LIQUID HYDROGEN CONTRACT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA has selected Praxair Inc. of Danbury, Conn., for a follow-on contract for the agencywide acquisition of liquid hydrogen.

The fixed price, requirements follow-on contract begins Dec. 1, 2012. It has a one-year base performance period with a one-year option period. The maximum potential value of the contract is approximately $18.8 million, which is comprised of a $10 million base value and $8.8 million for the one-year option.

Praxair will supply approximately 10,265,000 pounds of liquid hydrogen to NASA's Stennis Space Center, Miss.; Kennedy Space Center, Fla.; Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.; and White Sands Test Facility, N.M., in support of the agency's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. Liquid hydrogen, when combined with liquid oxygen, acts as fuel in cryogenic rocket engines.

Kennedy Space Center in Florida is responsible for the acquisition of liquid hydrogen on behalf of the agency.

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

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


Nov. 20, 2012

NASA ANNOUNCES EDUCATION RESEARCH PROGRAM AWARD RECIPIENTS

WASHINGTON -- NASA has awarded $12.6 million to colleges and universities to conduct research and technology development in areas important to the agency's mission. In addition to research and technology development, the awards enable faculty development and support higher education students.

The selections are part of NASA's Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, or EPSCoR. The program helps develop partnerships among NASA research missions and programs, academic institutions and industry. It also helps the awardees establish long-term academic research enterprises that will be self-sustaining and competitive, and contribute to the jurisdictions' economic viability and development.

Seventeen proposals were selected for funding in Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Carolina (in conjunction with the U.S. Virgin Islands), South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and Vermont. Winning proposals were selected through a merit-based, peer-reviewed competition.

Two proposals were selected from the College of Charleston, S.C., with one of the two proposals being from the EPSCoR-eligible University of the Virgin Islands, which is being aligned under South Carolina for administrative purposes.

One proposal was selected from each of the following universities and organizations:

For a list of selected proposals, visit: http://nspires.nasaprs.com

For more information about EPSCoR, visit: http://education.nasa.gov/epscor

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


Nov. 16, 2012

SAFETY BRANCH CHIEF RECEIVES EMERGING LEADER AWARD

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Harmony Myers, branch chief of Safety Engineering and Assurance in the Program Development and Operations Division of the Safety and Mission Assurance Directorate at NASA's Kennedy Space center in Florida, received the Emerging Leader Award from the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) on Nov. 9 in Houston. She was nominated by the Central Florida section of SWE for meeting difficult technical challenges in space program-related safety, dedication to SWE leadership and outreach to youth.

"I was very excited and honored to receive this award," Myers said.

The Society of Women Engineers is a nonprofit educational organization whose mission is to stimulate women to achieve full potential in careers as engineers and leaders, expand the image of the engineering profession as a positive force in improving the quality of life, and demonstrate the value of diversity. "I have been involved with SWE since 1998, when I was a collegiate member at the University of Central Florida," Myers said. "I became a lifelong member of SWE in 2001."

The Emerging Leader Award is given by SWE to honor a woman who has actively engaged in engineering or technology professions and has demonstrated outstanding technical excellence and significant accomplishments in her career as an engineer. In order to become eligible for the award, recipients must have had 10 to 15 years of engineering experience.

As a member, Myers participates in outreach for the organization by conducting hands-on experiments in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields to encourage youth, specifically girls, to take interest in those subjects. "I've led these workshops at Girl Scout events, the Sally Ride Festival, and many other outreach events," Myers said. "I've also been responsible for leading the team that organized and hosts these events."

Myers started her career in 2000 at Kennedy as a reliability engineer for NASA contractor United Space Alliance (USA). While at USA, Myers performed various reliability and safety analyses on ground support equipment for the Space Shuttle Program. She also helped with design modification activities and operational process changes for all of the Space Shuttle Program requirements.

In 2005, Myers became a civil servant for NASA. Now as the branch chief of Safety Engineering and Assurance in the Program Development and Operations Division of the Safety and Mission Assurance Directorate, she is responsible for all activities that include safety and reliability analyses of ground support equipment and safety operations for new programs and projects such as the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV).

Maynette Smith, chief of the Payload Development and Processing Division, was Myers' supervisor at Kennedy. "In her tenure with NASA, Harmony has made significant contributions both at the center and agency level. She represents the future of NASA. Harmony has tireless dedication and talent," Smith said.

Myers currently is on a detail at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., as the executive director of the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP). In this role, she manages the operations of the panel, which advises the NASA administrator on the overall safety of the agency.

Myers has won several awards for her leadership, including the NASA Spaceflight Awareness Leadership Award, Central Florida Engineers Week Leadership Excellence Award, and NASA Most Effective Mentor Award, all in 2011. She also received the University of Central Florida Rising Star Award from the College of Engineering and Computer Science in 2010, the SWE Distinguished New Engineer in 2006, the Regional Award for Outstanding SWE Counselor in 2005 and the Central Florida Engineers Week Young Engineer of the Year Award in 2003.

"I've always looked at the big picture and enjoyed making a difference, and that has been a key driver to successful leadership in the organization," Myers said.

For more information about Kennedy, visit: www.nasa.gov/kennedy

For more information about the Society of Women Engineers, visit: www.swe.org


Nov. 8, 2012

NASA COMMERCIAL PARTNERS ENSURING AMERICAN LEADERSHIP IN SPACE AND NEW JOBS

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA Commercial Crew Program Manager Ed Mango Thursday offered the following statement upon news United Launch Alliance has selected Hensel Phelps Construction Co. of Orlando, Fla., to provide program management contractor support to ULA's efforts on NASA's Commercial Crew Program. According to ULA, the project, part of the Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative, could eventually create up to 250-300 skilled aerospace and construction jobs at Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Mango's statement is as follows:

"One year after the Space Shuttle Program, American companies are making critical progress on modern spacecraft and rockets that will enable the next generation of human spaceflight," Mango said. "NASA's Commercial Crew Program is fostering new national capabilities for spacecraft, launch vehicles, flight operations and ground operations to achieve safe, reliable and cost-effective access to and from the International Space Station and low-Earth orbit. These advances will enable a launch of astronauts from U.S. soil in the next five years. Companies like ULA and their subcontractors in the Space Coast and around the nation are creating the high-skill, good-paying jobs that will ensure continued American leadership in space and the growth of the greatest aerospace industry in the world."

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


Nov. 1, 2012

SPACEX TRANSITIONS TO THIRD COMMERCIAL CREW PHASE WITH NASA

WASHINGTON -- Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) has completed its first three performance milestones for NASA's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative, which is intended to lead to the availability of commercial human spaceflight services for government and commercial customers.

During the company's first milestone, a technical baseline review, NASA and SpaceX reviewed the Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket for crew transportation to low-Earth orbit and discussed future plans for ground operations for crewed flights. The second milestone included a review of the company's plan to achieve the CCiCap milestones established during SpaceX's $440 million Space Act Agreement. SpaceX also presented the company's financial resources to support its co-investment in CCiCap.

At the company's headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., on Oct. 29, SpaceX presented techniques it will use to design, build and test its integrated system during the third milestone, called an integrated systems requirements review. The company also provided NASA with the initial plans it would use for managing ground operations, launch, ascent, in-orbit operations, re-entry and landing should they begin transporting crews.

"These initial milestones are just the beginning of a very exciting endeavor with SpaceX." said Ed Mango, NASA's Commercial Crew Program manager. "We expect to see significant progress from our three CCiCap partners in a fairly short amount of time."

SpaceX also has completed its Space Act Agreement with NASA for the Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2) initiative, the development phase that preceded CCiCap. During CCDev2, the company designed, developed and tested components of a launch abort system. A large hypergolic engine named SuperDraco would propel the Dragon spacecraft away from its rocket to save the crew from a disastrous event during launch or ascent. SpaceX also built a rocket engine test stand for developing an abort system. Engineers from NASA and SpaceX analyzed the trajectories, loads and dynamics the spacecraft would experience as it separates from a failing rocket.

"Our NASA team brought years of experience to the table and shared with SpaceX what components, systems, techniques and processes have worked for the agency's human space transportation systems in the past and why they've worked," said Jon Cowart, NASA's SpaceX partner manager during CCDev2. "This sharing of experience benefitted both NASA and the company, and is creating a more dependable system at an accelerated pace."

SpaceX is one of three U.S. companies NASA is working with during CCiCap to set the stage for a crewed orbital demonstration mission around the middle of the decade. SpaceX already is executing a contract with NASA for 12 cargo resupply missions to the International Space Station.

"The Dragon spacecraft has successfully delivered cargo to the space station twice this year, and SpaceX is well under way toward upgrading Dragon to transport astronauts as well," said SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell.

Future development and certification initiatives eventually will lead to the availability of human spaceflight services for NASA to send its astronauts to the International Space Station, where critical research is taking place daily.

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


Oct. 30, 2012

NASA TELEVISION AIRS SPACE SHUTTLE ATLANTIS' FINAL MOVE

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA Television will provide live coverage of events surrounding space shuttle Atlantis' move to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida for permanent public display.

At 2 p.m. EDT Thursday, Nov. 1, NASA TV's media channel will air a news briefing about the transformation of Kennedy Space Center to a multiuser spaceport.

The briefing participants are:

At 3:30 p.m., NASA TV's media channel will air a briefing about the future of human spaceflight.

The participants are:

On Friday, Nov. 2, NASA TV will begin coverage at 7 a.m. as Atlantis departs Kennedy's Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). The shuttle will make the 10-mile journey from the VAB to the visitor complex atop a 76-wheel flatbed vehicle called the Orbiter Transportation System, stopping along the route for a retirement ceremony at about 10 a.m.

Ceremony participants include:

Following the ceremony, Atlantis will travel to Space Florida's Exploration Park for a presentation and viewing opportunity for visitor complex guests before departing for its new home.

NASA TV coverage of the move will conclude when Atlantis reaches the visitor complex at about 6 p.m.

NASA retains the title to Atlantis and is providing it to the visitor complex for the public to view. Engineers have been preparing the shuttle for public display as part of NASA's transition and retirement processing of the shuttle fleet. A grand opening of Atlantis' new home at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is planned for July 2013.

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

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

For more information about preparations for Atlantis' public display, visit: www.nasa.gov/transition


Oct. 22, 2012

NASA COMMERCIAL CREW PARTNER BLUE ORIGIN COMPLETES PAD ESCAPE TEST

VAN HORN, Texas -- NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP) partner Blue Origin conducted a successful pad escape test Friday at the company's West Texas launch site, firing its pusher-escape motor and launching a full-scale suborbital crew capsule from a simulated propulsion module.

The test was part of Blue Origin's work supporting its funded Space Act Agreement with NASA during Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2). Through initiatives like CCDev2, NASA is fostering 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 the International Space Station and low-Earth orbit. After the capability is matured and available to the government and other customers, NASA could contract to purchase commercial services to meet its station crew transportation needs.

"The progress Blue Origin has made on its suborbital and orbital capabilities really is encouraging for the overall future of human spaceflight," CCP Manager Ed Mango said. "It was awesome to see a spacecraft NASA played a role in developing take flight."

The suborbital crew capsule traveled to an altitude of 2,307 feet (703 meters) during the flight test before descending safely by parachute to a soft landing 1,630 feet (497 meters) away.

The pusher escape system was designed and developed by Blue Origin to allow crew escape in the event of an emergency during any phase of ascent for its suborbital New Shepard system. As part of an incremental development program, the results of this test will shape the design of the escape system for the company's orbital biconic-shaped Space Vehicle. The system is expected to enable full reusability of the launch vehicle, which is different from NASA's previous launch escape systems that would pull a spacecraft away from its rocket before reaching orbit.

"The use of a pusher configuration marks a significant departure from the traditional towed-tractor escape tower concepts of Mercury and Apollo," said Rob Meyerson, president and program manager of Blue Origin. "Providing crew escape without the need to jettison the unused escape system gets us closer to our goal of safe and affordable human spaceflight."

All of NASA's industry partners, including Blue Origin, continue to meet their established milestones in developing commercial crew transportation capabilities.

While NASA works with U.S. industry partners to develop commercial spaceflight capabilities, the agency also is developing the Orion spacecraft and the Space Launch System (SLS), a crew capsule and heavy-lift rocket to provide an entirely new capability for human exploration. Designed to be flexible for launching spacecraft for crew and cargo missions, SLS and Orion will expand human presence beyond low-Earth orbit and enable new missions of exploration into the solar system.

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


Oct. 15, 2012

NASA COMMERCIAL CREW PARTNER BLUE ORIGIN COMPLETES ROCKET ENGINE THRUST CHAMBER TEST

WASHINGTON -- NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP) partner Blue Origin has successfully fired the thrust chamber assembly for its new 100,000 pound thrust BE-3 liquid oxygen, liquid hydrogen rocket engine. As part of Blue's Reusable Booster System (RBS), the engines are designed eventually to launch the biconic-shaped Space Vehicle the company is developing.

The test was part of Blue Origin's work supporting its funded Space Act Agreement with NASA during Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2). CCDev2 continues to bring spacecraft and launch vehicle designs forward to develop a U.S. commercial crew space transportation capability that ultimately could become available for the government and other customers.

"Blue Origin continues to be extremely innovative as it develops a crew-capable vehicle for suborbital and orbital flights," said Ed Mango, CCP manager. "We're thrilled the company's engine test fire was met with success."

The test took place early this month on the E-1 test stand at NASA's Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Miss. Blue Origin engineers successfully completed the test by powering the thrust chamber to its full power level.

"We are very excited to have demonstrated a new class of high-performance hydrogen engines," said Rob Meyerson, president and program manager of Blue Origin. "Access to the Stennis test facility and its talented operations team was instrumental in conducting full-power testing of this new thrust chamber."

As part of CCDev2, Blue Origin also completed a system requirements review of its spacecraft. During the review, engineers and technical experts representing NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration and the company assessed the spacecraft's ability to meet safety and mission requirements to low-Earth orbit. That review also included results from more than 100 wind tunnel tests of the vehicle's aerodynamic design, stability during flight and cross-range maneuverability.

All of NASA's industry partners, including Blue Origin, continue to meet their established milestones in developing commercial crew transportation capabilities.

While NASA works with U.S. industry partners to develop commercial spaceflight capabilities, the agency also is developing the Orion spacecraft and the Space Launch System (SLS), a crew capsule and heavy-lift rocket to provide an entirely new capability for human exploration. Designed to be flexible for launching spacecraft for crew and cargo missions, SLS and Orion will expand human presence beyond low-Earth orbit and enable new missions of exploration into the solar system.

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


Oct. 15, 2012

NASA AND UNITED LAUNCH ALLIANCE COMPLETE SPACE ACT AGREEMENT

WASHINGTON -- NASA partner United Launch Alliance (ULA) has completed the fifth and final milestone for its Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2) agreement with the agency's Commercial Crew Program.

The Hazard, System Safety and Probabilistic Risk Assessment detailed how ULA's Atlas V rocket launch system hardware would ensure crew safety during launch and ascent.

"The ULA team did an outstanding job outlining how it plans to integrate its launch vehicle with completely different spacecraft designs," said Ed Mango, NASA's Commercial Crew Program manager. "We commend ULA for taking on the challenge of human spaceflight, and we look forward to learning more about their innovative and cost-saving solutions as we continue to move forward in developing a crew transportation capability for America."

During the year-long unfunded partnership, five reviews by technical experts from NASA and ULA assessed the company's design implementation plans, detailed system and sub-system analysis, qualification, certification and flight data.

"This has been a tremendous team effort between NASA, ULA and our commercial crew partners and we have made a great deal of progress toward safe, affordable human spaceflight," said George Sowers, ULA's vice president of human launch services.

As a follow on to CCDev2, NASA recently announced funded partnerships for the agency's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative. Two of the three recipients, The Boeing Company and Sierra Nevada Corp. (SNC), have selected ULA's Atlas V rocket as their launch vehicle.

"This baseline will be used by both Boeing and SNC as they proceed into the CCiCap phase, providing them with the confidence that the flight-proven Atlas V will be ready to safely, reliably and cost-effectively launch," said Sowers.

With the completion of the CCDev2 milestones, ULA establishes a technical foundation for potentially certifying its Atlas V rocket for crewed missions. It also marks the development of the design criteria for the rocket's emergency detection system, which would allow crew members to escape if something were to go wrong with either the launch vehicle or spacecraft. In addition, ULA established requirements for its dual-engine Centaur configuration and selected the design approaches it would take for accommodating a spacecraft and its crew at the company's launch facility in Florida, Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

All of NASA's industry partners, including ULA, continue to meet their established milestones in developing commercial crew transportation capabilities.

While NASA works with U.S. industry partners to develop commercial spaceflight capabilities, the agency also is developing the Orion spacecraft and the Space Launch System (SLS), a crew capsule and heavy-lift rocket to provide an entirely new capability for human exploration. Designed to be flexible for launching spacecraft for crew and cargo missions, SLS and Orion will expand human presence beyond low Earth orbit and enable new missions of exploration into the solar system.

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


Oct. 7, 2012

FIRST CONTRACTED SPACEX RESUPPLY MISSION LAUNCHES WITH NASA CARGO TO SPACE STATION

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- A Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) Falcon 9 rocket carrying its Dragon spacecraft lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 8:35 p.m. EDT Sunday, beginning NASA's first contracted cargo delivery flight, designated SpaceX CRS-1, to the International Space Station. Under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services contract, SpaceX will fly at least 12 cargo missions to the space station through 2016. The contract is worth $1.6 billion.

The Dragon spacecraft will be grappled at 7:22 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 10, by Expedition 33 crew members Sunita Williams of NASA and Aki Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, who will use the station's robotic arm to install the Dragon. The capsule is scheduled to spend 18 days attached to the station. It then will return for a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of southern California.

"Just over one year after the retirement of the space shuttle, we have returned space station cargo resupply missions to U.S. soil and are bringing the jobs associated with this work back to America," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "The SpaceX launch tonight marks the official start of commercial resupply missions by American companies operating out of U.S. spaceports like the one right here in Florida."

Dragon is delivering a total of 882 pounds of supplies to the orbiting laboratory, including 260 pounds of crew supplies, 390 pounds of scientific research, 225 pounds of hardware and several pounds of other supplies. Dragon will return a total of 1,673 pounds of supplies, including 163 pounds of crew supplies, 866 pounds of scientific research, 518 pounds of vehicle hardware and other hardware.

Dragon's capability to return cargo from the station is critical for supporting scientific research in the orbiting laboratory's unique microgravity environment, which enables important benefits for humanity and vastly increases understanding of how humans can safely work, live and thrive in space for long periods. The ability to return frozen samples is a first for this flight and will be tremendously beneficial to the station's research community. Not since the space shuttle have NASA and its international partners been able to return considerable amounts of research and samples for analysis.

Materials being launched on Dragon will support experiments in plant cell biology, human biotechnology and various materials technology demonstrations, among others. One experiment, called Micro 6, will examine the effects of microgravity on the opportunistic yeast Candida albicans, which is present on all humans. Another experiment, called Resist Tubule, will evaluate how microgravity affects the growth of cell walls in a plant called Arabidopsis. About 50 percent of the energy expended by terrestrial-bound plants is dedicated to structural support to overcome gravity. Understanding how the genes that control this energy expenditure operate in microgravity could have implications for future genetically modified plants and food supply. Both Micro 6 and Resist Tubule will return with the Dragon at the end of its mission.

SpaceX is one of two companies that built and tested new cargo spacecraft under NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. SpaceX completed its final demonstration test in May when it flew to the station and performed a series of checkout maneuvers, ultimately being grappled by the station crew and installed on the complex.

Orbital Sciences is the other company participating in COTS. Orbital's Antares launch vehicle is currently on the launch pad at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The launch vehicle and pad will undergo a series of fueling tests that will take about three weeks. After tests are completed, a hot fire test will be conducted. Finally, a test flight of the Antares rocket with a simulated Cygnus spacecraft will be flown in late 2012. A demonstration flight of Cygnus to the station is planned in early 2013.

NASA initiatives like COTS and the agency's Commercial Crew Program are helping develop a robust U.S. commercial space transportation industry with the goal of achieving safe, reliable and cost-effective transportation to and from the space station and low Earth orbit. In addition to cargo flights, NASA's commercial space partners are making progress toward a launch of astronauts from U.S. soil in the next 5 years.

While NASA works with U.S. industry partners to develop and advance these commercial spaceflight capabilities, the agency also is developing the Orion spacecraft and the Space Launch System (SLS), a crew capsule and heavy-lift rocket to provide an entirely new capability for human exploration. Designed to be flexible for launching spacecraft for crew and cargo missions, SLS and Orion will expand human presence beyond low Earth orbit and enable new missions of exploration in the solar system.

To follow the SpaceX CRS-1 mission and for more information about the International Space Station and its crew, visit: www.nasa.gov/station


Oct. 1, 2012

NASA VEHICLE ASSEMBLY BUILDING REFURBISHMENT

The Ground Systems Development and Operations Program is leading an extensive refurbishment of one of space exploration's unique facilities. The modernization calls for a flexible setting inside the VAB rather than configuring the whole building toward supporting one design.

Part of the effort includes removing about 150 miles of Apollo and shuttle-era cabling from high bays 1 and 3 to make room for installation of future state-of-the-art command, communication, and control systems that will be needed by future users to perform vehicle testing and verification prior to rollout to the launch pad.

Future work also will replace the antiquated communications, power and vehicle access resources with modern, efficient systems. Some of the utilities and systems slated for replacement have been used since the VAB opened in 1965.

GSDO's mission is to prepare Kennedy Space Center to process and launch the next generation of rockets and spacecraft in support of NASA's exploration objectives by developing the necessary ground systems, infrastructure and operational approaches, including the agency's Space Launch System carrying the Orion spacecraft, which is scheduled for its first launch in 2017.

For more information about the program, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/groundsystems

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


Sept. 28, 2012

OCT. 7 SPACEX LAUNCH TO SPACE STATION

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- The first SpaceX launch for NASA's Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 7, from Space Launch Complex 40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. There is a single instantaneous launch opportunity for the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule at 8:35 p.m. EDT. Backup launch opportunities are available on Oct. 8 and Oct. 9, if needed.

The launch of the Dragon spacecraft, designated SpaceX CRS-1, will be the first of 12 contracted flights by the company to resupply the International Space Station and is the second trip by a Dragon to the station, following a successful demonstration mission in May. Under the CRS contract, SpaceX will restore an American capability to deliver and return significant amounts of cargo, including science experiments, to the orbiting laboratory -- a capability not available since the retirement of the space shuttle.

The Dragon will be filled with about 1,000 pounds of supplies. This includes critical materials to support the 166 investigations planned for the station's Expedition 33 crew, including 63 new investigations. The Dragon will return about 734 pounds of scientific materials, including results from human research, biotechnology, materials and educational experiments, as well as about 504 pounds of space station hardware.

Sunday, Oct. 7 (Launch day): NASA TV live coverage will begin at 7 p.m. and will conclude at approximately 9 p.m. A post-launch news conference is planned at approximately 10 p.m.

Wednesday, Oct. 10 (L+3 days): Rendezvous and grapple coverage begins at 4 a.m. for a grapple at 7:30 a.m. Berthing coverage begins at 9:15 a.m. for the start of berthing at 9:30 a.m.

Unberthing and release for deorbit is currently scheduled on Sunday, Oct. 28; however, times have not yet been determined.

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

The NASA News Twitter feed will be updated throughout the launch countdown at: www.twitter.com/nasa and www.twitter.com/nasakennedy and www.twitter.com/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: www.nasa.gov/exploration

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


Sept. 20, 2012

SPACEX, NASA TARGET OCT. 7 LAUNCH FOR FIRST CONTRACTED U.S. CARGO RESUPPLY MISSION TO SPACE STATION

HOUSTON -- NASA managers, Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) officials and international partner representatives Thursday announced Sunday, Oct. 7, as the target launch date for the first contracted cargo resupply flight to the International Space Station under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract.

International Space Station Program managers confirmed the status and readiness of the Falcon 9 rocket and its Dragon cargo spacecraft for the SpaceX CRS-1 mission, as well as the space station's readiness to receive Dragon.

Launch is scheduled for 8:34 p.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. A backup launch opportunity is available on Oct. 8.

The launch of the Dragon spacecraft will be the first of 12 contracted flights by SpaceX to resupply the space station and marks the second trip by a Dragon to the station, following a successful demonstration mission in May. SpaceX services under the CRS contract will restore an American capability to deliver and return significant amounts of cargo, including science experiments, to the orbiting laboratory -- a feat not achievable since the retirement of the space shuttle.

The Dragon will be filled with about 1,000 pounds of supplies. This includes critical materials to support the 166 investigations planned for the station's Expedition 33 crew, including 63 new investigations. The Dragon will return about 734 pounds of scientific materials, including results from human research, biotechnology, materials and educational experiments, as well as about 504 pounds of space station hardware.

Materials being launched on Dragon will support experiments in plant cell biology, human biotechnology and various materials technology demonstrations, among others. One experiment, called Micro 6, will examine the effects of microgravity on the opportunistic yeast Candida albicans, which is present on all humans. Another experiment, called Resist Tubule, will evaluate how microgravity affects the growth of cell walls in a plant called Arabidopsis. About 50 percent of the energy expended by terrestrial-bound plants is dedicated to structural support to overcome gravity. Understanding how the genes that control this energy expenditure operate in microgravity could have implications for future genetically modified plants and food supply. Both Micro 6 and Resist Tubule will return with the Dragon at the end of its mission.

Expedition 33 Commander Sunita Williams of NASA and Aki Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will use a robot arm to grapple the Dragon following its rendezvous with the station on Wednesday, Oct. 10. They will attach the Dragon to the Earth-facing port of the station's Harmony module for a few weeks while crew members unload cargo and load experiment samples for return to Earth.

Dragon is scheduled to return in late October for a parachute-assisted splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of southern California.

While NASA works with U.S. industry partners to develop commercial spaceflight capabilities, the agency also is developing the Orion spacecraft and the Space Launch System (SLS), a crew capsule and heavy-lift rocket to provide an entirely new capability for human exploration. Designed to be flexible for launching spacecraft for crew and cargo missions, SLS and Orion will expand human presence beyond low Earth orbit and enable new missions of exploration across the solar system.

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

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

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


Sept. 18, 2012

SHUTTLE ENDEAVOUR FLIGHT RESCHEDULED TO SEPT. 19

WASHINGTON -- NASA's ferry flight of space shuttle Endeavour atop the 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) is rescheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 19 due to an unfavorable weather forecast along the flight path on Tuesday, Sept. 18. Endeavour now is expected to arrive at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on Friday, Sept. 21.

On Oct. 11, 2011, NASA transferred title and ownership of Endeavour to the California Science Center in Los Angeles. The decision to reschedule the flight was made Monday in coordination with the science center to ensure a safe flight for Endeavour and the SCA. Weather predictions are favorable Wednesday for the flight path between Houston and NASA's Kennedy Space Center, where the flight will originate.

In cooperation with the Federal Aviation Administration, the SCA is scheduled to conduct low-level flyovers at about 1,500 feet above locations along the planned flight path. The exact timing and path of the ferry flight will depend on weather conditions and operational constraints. Some planned flyovers or stopovers could be delayed or cancelled. If the ferry flight is postponed again, an additional advisory will be issued.

At sunrise on Sept. 19, the SCA and Endeavour will depart Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility and perform a flyover of various areas of the Space Coast, including Kennedy, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Patrick Air Force Base.

The aircraft will fly west and conduct low flyovers of NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi and the agency's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. As it arrives over the Texas Gulf Coast area, the SCA will perform low flyovers above various areas of Houston and Clear Lake before landing at Ellington Field near NASA's Johnson Space Center.

At sunrise on Thursday, Sept. 20, the aircraft will depart Houston, make a refueling stop at Biggs Army Airfield in El Paso, Texas, and conduct low-level flyovers of White Sands Test Facility near Las Cruces, N.M., and NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in California, before landing around mid-day at Dryden.

Options for the NASA Social at Dryden are being evaluated. Attendees for the event will be notified by the NASA social media team once plans are decided.

On the morning of Sept. 21, the SCA and Endeavour will take off from Dryden and perform a low-level flyover of northern California, passing near NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., and various landmarks in multiple cities, including Sacramento and San Francisco. The aircraft also will conduct a flyover of many Los Angeles sites before landing about 11 a.m. PDT at LAX.

Social media users are encouraged to share their Endeavour sightings using the hashtags #spottheshuttle and #OV105, Endeavour's orbiter vehicle designation.

After arrival at LAX, Endeavour will be removed from the SCA and spend a few weeks at a United Airlines hangar undergoing preparations for transport and display. Endeavour then will travel through Inglewood and Los Angeles city streets on a 12-mile journey from the airport to the science center, arriving in the evening on Oct. 13.

Beginning Oct. 30, the shuttle will be on display in the science center's Samuel Oschin Space Shuttle Endeavour Display Pavilion, embarking on its new mission to commemorate past achievements in space and educate and inspire future generations of explorers.

Endeavour completed 25 missions, spent 299 days in orbit, and orbited Earth 4,671 times while traveling 122,883,151 miles.

For information about NASA's transfer of space shuttles to museums, visit: www.nasa.gov/transition

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


Sept. 14, 2012

BOEING COMPLETES FIRST MILESTONE FOR NASA'S COMMERCIAL CREW INITIATIVE

HOUSTON -- The Boeing Company completed its first performance milestone Aug. 23 for NASA's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative, which is intended to lead to the availability of human spaceflight transportation services for government and commercial customers.

In its Integrated Systems Review (ISR), Boeing presented the latest designs of its CST-100 spacecraft, United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rocket launch system, and ground and mission operations. These designs will serve as the baseline for further development work to be accomplished during CCiCap. The company also discussed its plans for safety and mission assurance, which ultimately will contribute to achieving certification of the system for human spaceflight.

"The ISR established a firm baseline configuration that will allow our team to push forward with the final vehicle design," said John Mulholland, Boeing vice president and program manager for Commercial Programs. "We hope the rigor of our design and development process, and our outstanding team of suppliers will help position the CST-100 as one of the next crew transportation vehicles to the space station and other low Earth orbit destinations."

Technical experts from NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP) participated in the review in Houston. They are in the process of providing comments and advice based on more than 50 years of human spaceflight experience.

"All of our industry partners are gearing up to push their human spaceflight technologies further than ever before so America can have its own crew transportation system around the middle of the decade," said Ed Mango, CCP's program manager. "This review was just the first of many exciting and valuable milestones Boeing is expected to complete during its funded partnership with NASA."

At the review, Boeing also presented results from numerous tests that were conducted as part of its earlier Commercial Crew Development Round Two Space Act Agreement with NASA. These tests included parachute and air bag drops, abort engine firings and wind tunnel tests.

NASA's new CCiCap agreements follow two previous commercial endeavors by the agency to spur the development of crew transportation systems and subsystems. Work by NASA's industry partners during CCiCap will set the stage for a crewed orbital demonstration mission around the middle of the decade.

Future development and certification initiatives eventually will lead to the availability of human spaceflight services for NASA to send its astronauts to the International Space Station, where critical research is taking place daily to benefit all of humanity. The overall goal of NASA's commercial space efforts is to make low Earth orbit more accessible and open for business for other government and commercial customers.

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


Sept. 12, 2012

NASA REQUESTS PROPOSALS FOR INITIAL CONTRACTS TO CERTIFY COMMERCIAL CREW TRANSPORTATION SYSTEMS

WASHINGTON -- NASA on Wednesday released a request for proposals for the first of two contract phases to certify commercially developed space systems in support of crewed missions to the International Space Station. Through these certification products contracts, NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP) will ensure commercial missions are held to the agency's safety requirements and standards for human space transportation system missions to the space station.

NASA's request for proposals outlines a two-phase approach in which the first phase awards will be made to multiple companies. The companies will provide data related to the development of their Crew Transportation System (CTS) design, including a spacecraft, launch vehicle, ground and mission operations and recovery. NASA plans to award up to $10 million to each company in early 2013 for the first phase.

The first phase will last about 15 months, during which companies will outline their strategies to meet the agency's required standards and safety requirements before a CTS could be approved to fly NASA astronauts to the space station.

"We're looking forward to a strong U.S. industry response for this certification phase," said Ed Mango, NASA's CCP manager. "This is a major step in certifying transportation systems that can meet America's goal of transporting our astronauts to and from the space station."

At the conclusion of the first phase, the agency anticipates more than one company will be ready to compete for the second certification phase contract. The second phase will be open to any company with systems at the design maturity level of Phase 1. The second phase will include development, testing, evaluation and certification activities enabling NASA to assess and approve the CTS capability for performing space station missions in compliance with NASA requirements.

The objective of CCP 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 the space station and low Earth orbit. After the capability is matured and expected to be available to the government and other customers, NASA could contract to purchase commercial services to meet its station crew transportation needs.

While NASA works with U.S. industry partners to develop commercial spaceflight capabilities to low Earth orbit, the agency also is developing the Orion spacecraft and the Space Launch System (SLS), a crew capsule and heavy-lift rocket to provide an entirely new capability for human exploration. Designed to be flexible for launching spacecraft for crew and cargo missions, SLS and Orion will expand human presence beyond low Earth orbit and enable new missions of exploration across the solar system.

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


Sept. 7, 2012

NASA KENNEDY SPACE CENTER FUNDS EMPLOYEE INNOVATIONS

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- As part of a new initiative to help foster worker innovation and creativity, NASA's Kennedy Space Center is funding a dozen employee ideas designed to improve the center.

The funding comes from Kennedy Kick-Start, an employee competition to further encourage innovation. The new competition was held Thursday during the first Innovation Expo. The event highlighted employee innovative work and showed how it helps to shape the future of the center and NASA.

Sixteen employees gave 90-second pitches of potential center improvements that would cost less than $5,000 in equipment. The ideas ranged from 3-D printing of a working robot hand to commissioning artists to recycle space shuttle hardware as art.

A panel of eight judges consisting of Kennedy Center Director Bob Cabana and senior management from organizations across the center selected 12 projects to fund immediately and complete within four-to-six months. The selected innovations were announced Friday, and they are:

Kennedy works to spur innovation on a daily basis. By retrofitting its world-class ground systems and facilities for both government and commercial users, and infusing innovative ideas into ongoing and forward-looking programs such as Launch Services, International Space Station, Commercial Crew, Orion and Space Launch Systems, the center helps NASA reach America's space exploration goal.

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


Sept. 7, 2012

SPACE SHUTTLE ENDEAVOUR TO MAKE HISTORIC FINAL FERRY FLIGHT

WASHINGTON -- Space shuttle Endeavour, mounted atop NASA's modified 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), will make the final ferry flight of the Space Shuttle Program era when it departs Monday, Sept. 17, from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida headed to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

On Oct. 11, 2011, NASA transferred title and ownership of Endeavour to the California Science Center in Los Angeles. Under the terms of a Space Act Agreement with the science center, NASA will safely transport Endeavour to LAX for a planned arrival on Thursday, Sept. 20.

In cooperation with the Federal Aviation Administration, the SCA is scheduled to conduct low-level flyovers at about 1,500 feet above locations along the planned flight path. The exact timing and path of the ferry flight will depend on weather conditions and operational constraints. Some planned flyovers or stopovers could be delayed or cancelled. If the ferry flight must be postponed for any reason, an additional advisory will be issued.

At sunrise on Sept. 17, the SCA and Endeavour will depart Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility and perform a flyover of various areas of the Space Coast, including Kennedy, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Patrick Air Force Base.

The aircraft will fly west and conduct low flyovers of NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi and the agency's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. As it arrives over the Texas Gulf Coast area, the SCA will perform low flyovers above various areas of Houston, Clear Lake and Galveston before landing at Ellington Field near NASA's Johnson Space Center. Weather permitting, the SCA and Endeavour will stay at Ellington the remainder of Sept. 17 and all day Sept. 18.

At sunrise on Wednesday, Sept. 19, the aircraft will depart Houston, make a refueling stop at Biggs Army Airfield in El Paso, Texas, and conduct low-level flyovers of White Sands Test Facility near Las Cruces, N.M., and NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in California, before landing around midday at Dryden.

On the morning of Sept. 20, the SCA and Endeavour will take off from Dryden and perform a low-level flyover of northern California, passing near NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., and various landmarks in multiple cities, including San Francisco and Sacramento. The aircraft also will conduct a flyover of many Los Angeles sites before landing about 11 a.m. PDT at LAX.

Social media users are encouraged to share their Endeavour sightings using the hashtags #spottheshuttle and #OV105, Endeavour's orbiter vehicle designation.

After arrival at LAX, Endeavour will be removed from the SCA and spend a few weeks at a United Airlines hangar undergoing preparations for transport and display. Endeavour then will travel through Inglewood and Los Angeles city streets on a 12-mile journey from the airport to the science center, arriving in the evening on Oct. 13.

Beginning Oct. 30, the shuttle will be on display in the science center's Samuel Oschin Space Shuttle Endeavour Display Pavilion, embarking on its new mission to commemorate past achievements in space and educate and inspire future generations of explorers.

Endeavour completed 25 missions, spent 299 days in orbit, and orbited Earth 4,671 times while traveling 122,883,151 miles.

For information about NASA's transfer of space shuttles to museums, visit: www.nasa.gov/transition

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


Sept. 6, 2012

KENNEDY HOSTS FIRST INNOVATION EXPO FOR EMPLOYEES TO SPUR NEW NASA IDEAS

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) strives to be innovative in all of its programs, projects and practices, and that ingenuity comes from the center's greatest asset, its workforce. As part of a new initiative to help foster worker innovation and creativity, Kennedy on Thursday hosted its first Innovation Expo, which is designed to highlight employee innovations in the workplace that help shape the future of the center and the agency.

The expo provided an opportunity for employees to hear from outside speakers and to pitch their own ideas of ways to improve Kennedy.

"Our NASA history demonstrates the greatness of American innovation, and KSC has always played a key role in that history," Kennedy Director Bob Cabana said. "Innovation is a part of our jobs, and now more than ever, we need to collaborate and innovate in new and exciting ways to fulfill our goal of transforming KSC into a vibrant, multiuser spaceport."

Throughout the day, employees toured labs and facilities across the center that normally are not open to the general workforce. In addition, they heard from innovative and inspirational speakers from companies such as Disney, Sierra Nevada Corp., and the Boy Scouts of America.

The expo also featured Kennedy Kick-Start, a competition for employees to receive as much as $5,000 for equipment needed to implement their ideas at the center. The selected innovators will be announced Friday, Sept. 7.

Kennedy works to spur innovation on a daily basis. By retrofitting its world-class ground systems and facilities for both government and commercial users, and infusing innovative ideas into ongoing and forward-looking programs such as Launch Services, International Space Station, Commercial Crew, Orion and Space Launch Systems, the center helps NASA reach America's space exploration goals.

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


Aug. 30, 2012

NASA LAUNCHES RADIATION BELT STORM PROBES MISSION

RBSP spacecraft
Technicians at the Astrotech payload processing facility (in Titusville-ed) prepare the RBSP spacecraft for encapsulation in the payload fairing. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
WASHINGTON -- NASA's Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP), the first twin-spacecraft mission designed to explore our planet's radiation belts, launched into the predawn skies at 4:05 a.m. EDT Thursday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.

"Scientists will learn in unprecedented detail how the radiation belts are populated with charged particles, what causes them to change and how these processes affect the upper reaches of the atmosphere around Earth," said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate at Headquarters in Washington. "The information collected from these probes will benefit the public by allowing us to better protect our satellites and understand how space weather affects communications and technology on Earth."

The two satellites, each weighing just less than 1,500 pounds, comprise the first dual-spacecraft mission specifically created to investigate this hazardous region of near-Earth space, known as the radiation belts. These two belts, named for their discoverer, James Van Allen, encircle the planet and are filled with highly charged particles. The belts are affected by solar storms and coronal mass ejections and sometimes swell dramatically. When this occurs, they can pose dangers to communications, GPS satellites and human spaceflight.

"We have never before sent such comprehensive and high-quality instruments to study high radiation regions of space," said Barry Mauk, RBSP project scientist at the Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md. "RBSP was crafted to help us learn more about, and ultimately predict, the response of the radiation belts to solar inputs."

The hardy RBSP satellites will spend the next two years looping through every part of both Van Allen belts. By having two spacecraft in different regions of the belts at the same time, scientists finally will be able to gather data from within the belts themselves, learning how they change over space and time. Designers fortified RBSP with special protective plating and rugged electronics to operate and survive within this punishing region of space that other spacecraft avoid. In addition, a space weather broadcast will transmit selected data from those instruments around the clock, giving researchers a check on current conditions near Earth.

"The excitement of seeing the spacecraft in orbit and beginning to perform science measurements is like no other thrill," said Richard Fitzgerald, RBSP project manager at APL. "The entire RBSP team, from across every organization, worked together to produce an amazing pair of spacecraft."

RBSP was lifted into orbit aboard an Atlas V 401 rocket from Space Launch Complex-41, as the rocket's plume lit the dark skies over the Florida coast. The first RBSP spacecraft is scheduled to separate from the Atlas rocket's Centaur booster 1 hour, 18 minutes, 52 seconds after launch. The second RBSP spacecraft is set to follow 12 minutes, 14 seconds later. Mission controllers using APL's 60-foot satellite dish will establish radio contact with each probe immediately after separation.

During the next 60 days, operators will power up all flight systems and science instruments and deploy long antenna booms, two of which are more than 54 yards long. Data about the particles that swirl through the belts, and the fields and waves that transport them, will be gathered by five instrument suites designed and operated by teams at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark; the University of Iowa in Iowa City; University of Minnesota in Minneapolis; and the University of New Hampshire in Durham; and the National Reconnaissance Office in Chantilly, Va. The data will be analyzed by scientists across the nation almost immediately.

RBSP is the second mission in NASA's Living With a Star (LWS) program to explore aspects of the connected sun-Earth system that directly affect life and society. LWS is managed by the agency's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. APL built the RBSP spacecraft and will manage the mission for NASA. NASA's Launch Services Program at Kennedy is responsible for launch management. United Launch Alliance provided the Atlas V launch service.

For more information about NASA's RBSP mission, visit: www.nasa.gov/rbsp


Aug. 25, 2012

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER DIRECTOR STATEMENT ON NEIL ARMSTRONG'S DEATH

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- The following is a statement from NASA Kennedy Space Center Director Robert Cabana regarding the death of former test pilot and NASA astronaut Neil Armstrong. He was 82.

"Neil Armstrong was a true American hero, and one of the nicest gentlemen around. He was the epitome of what an engineering test pilot should be, and a role model for everyone who aspired to be an astronaut.

"He always took the time to share his thoughts on technical issues and his experiences from the past.

"I feel very privileged to have known him. He will be missed."

Additional information about Armstrong is available on the Web at:
www.nasa.govwww.neilarmstronginfo.com


Aug. 23, 2012

NASA ADMINISTRATOR ANNOUNCES NEW COMMERCIAL CREW AND CARGO MILESTONES

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA Administrator Charles Bolden announced Thursday new milestones in the nation's commercial space initiatives from the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The latest advances made by NASA's commercial space partners pave the way for the first contracted flight of cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) this fall and mark progress toward a launch of astronauts from U.S. soil in the next five years.

Bolden announced Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) has completed its Space Act Agreement with NASA for Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS). SpaceX is scheduled to launch the first of its 12 contracted cargo flights to the space station from Cape Canaveral in October, under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services Program.

"We're working to open a new frontier for commercial opportunities in space and create job opportunities right here in Florida and across the United States," Bolden said. "And we're working to in-source the work that is currently being done elsewhere and bring it right back here to the U.S. where it belongs."

Through the COTS program, NASA provides investments to stimulate the American commercial space industry. As part of its COTS partnership, SpaceX became the first commercial company to resupply the space station in May, successfully launching its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft to the orbiting complex. During the historic mission, the Dragon was captured by astronauts using the station's robot arm, unloaded and safely returned to Earth carrying experiments conducted aboard ISS. Later this winter, Orbital Sciences Corp. plans to carry out its first test flight under COTS.

Bolden also announced NASA partner Sierra Nevada Corp. has conducted its first milestone under the agency's recently announced Commercial Crew integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative. The milestone, a program implementation plan review, marks an important first step in Sierra Nevada's efforts to develop a crew transportation system with its Dream Chaser spacecraft.

CCiCap is an initiative of NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP) and an Obama administration priority. The objective of the CCP 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 the space station and low Earth orbit. After the capability is matured, it is expected to be available to the government and other customers. NASA could contract to purchase commercial services to meet its station crew transportation needs later this decade.

While NASA works with U.S. industry partners to develop commercial spaceflight capabilities, the agency also is developing the Orion spacecraft and the Space Launch System (SLS), a crew capsule and heavy-lift rocket to provide an entirely new capability for human exploration. Designed to be flexible for launching spacecraft for crew and cargo missions, SLS and Orion will expand human presence beyond low Earth orbit and enable new missions of exploration across the solar system.

For more information about NASA's commercial space initiatives and programs, visit: www.nasa.gov/commercial

For more information about the present and future of American human spaceflight, visit: www.nasa.gov/exploration


Aug. 23, 2012

NASA WELCOMES XCOR AEROSPACE TO FLORIDA

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA's Kennedy Space Center looks forward to potential partnership with XCOR Aerospace. The company is looking at Florida as a possible location for their operations that could bring new work for highly skilled former space shuttle employees to Brevard County.

XCOR Aerospace is a small, privately held California corporation with focus on the research, development, project management and production of reusable launch vehicles, or RLVs, rocket engines and rocket propulsion systems.

"We look forward to discussing with XCOR Aerospace and other space companies how Kennedy's unique capabilities may be made available for use," said Kennedy's Center Director Bob Cabana. "This is further evidence that the Space Coast is preparing for the next era of space exploration."

"The next era in space exploration is under way, and the Space Coast of Florida is ground zero in the Obama administration's effort to launch Americans from U.S. soil and create good jobs that support an economy built to last," said NASA Chief of Staff David Radzanowski. "The region continues to be a key strategic location for companies, like XCOR, who want to build on our nation's great legacy of innovation and entrepreneurship."

A dynamic infrastructure is taking shape, one designed to host many kinds of spacecraft and rockets sending people on America's next adventures. Negotiations are taking place with other commercial users for Orbiter Processing Facility Bays 1 and 2, as well as with potential commercial users of the Launch Complex 39 launch pads. These and other partnerships will cement Kennedy as a true multiuser spaceport as envisioned by our nation's leadership.

For more information about Kennedy, visit: www.nasa.gov/kennedy


Aug. 15, 2012

NASA AWARDS CONTRACT FOR KENNEDY SPACE CENTER SAFETY AND MISSION SUPPORT SERVICES

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA has selected A-P-T Research Inc. of Huntsville, Ala., to provide mission assurance, engineering and risk assessment services at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The maximum potential value for the four-year cost-plus-award-fee Safety and Mission Support Services II (S-MASS II) contract is $36 million.

A-P-T Research Inc. will perform the mission assurance, engineering and risk assessment services in the disciplines of safety, reliability, and quality at Kennedy and all Kennedy-assigned facilities at sites that include Vandenberg Air Force Base and NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in California.

Subcontractors working on the S-MASS II contract include Mantech International Corp. of Fairfax, Va.; SAIC of McLean, Va.; GP Strategies Corp. of Elkridge, Md.; Davis Strategic Innovations Inc. of Huntsville; and Cummings Aerospace of Huntsville.

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


Aug. 8, 2012

NASA SEEKS INDUSTRY PARTNERS TO USE SHUTTLE LANDING FACILITY

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA's Kennedy Space Center is seeking new ways to use the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) for current and future spaceflight mission support through a Request for Information, or RFI.

Kennedy wants to identify potential industry interest in the operation and maintenance of the SLF, modifying it into a multipurpose launch and landing facility supporting a wide range of space and aerospace customers. With NASA's transition from the Space Shuttle Program to future commercial and government mission activities, the facility currently is underutilized.

The SLF first opened for flights in 1976 and was specially designed for returning shuttles to Kennedy. The concrete runway is 15,000 feet long and 300 feet wide. The SLF is capable of handling all types and sizes of aircraft and is especially suited for very large and very heavy transport craft.

Kennedy may enter into an agreement in which a partner would operate and maintain the SLF at the partner's expense. In the RFI, Kennedy seeks concepts for how customers would use and maintain the facility in order to make an agreement feasible.

In cases where Kennedy facilities, such as the SLF, are not being fully used by the agency, NASA has the option of establishing partnerships with external organizations. Such arrangements must benefit the U.S. government and NASA.

For information about this RFI, visit: https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=2fe54bb7fa63a29196f42b9f6457eca2&tab=core&_cview=1

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


Aug. 7, 2012

NASA'S UPCOMING RADIATION BELT STORM PROBES LAUNCH

WASHINGTON -- NASA will hold a news conference at 2 p.m. EDT Thursday, Aug. 9, to discuss the upcoming launch of the Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP), a mission to study Earth's radiation belts. The event will be broadcast live on NASA Television and streamed on the agency's website.

The two-year RBSP mission will help scientists develop an understanding of Earth's Van Allen radiation belts and related regions that pose hazards to human and robotic explorers. RBSP is scheduled to launch no earlier than 4:08 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 23, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The twin probes will lift off on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

News conference panelists are:

RBSP will explore space weather -- changes in Earth's space environment caused by the sun -- that can disable satellites, create power-grid failures and disrupt GPS service. The mission also will allow researchers to understand fundamental radiation and particle acceleration processes throughout the universe.

Graphics presented during the news conference will be online shortly before the start of the event at: www.nasa.gov/sunearth

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

For more information about the RBSP mission, visit: www.nasa.gov/rbsp


Aug. 05, 2012

NASA Lands Car-Size Rover Beside Martian Mountain

Curiosity, the new Mars rover - the landing field.
Now safely on the surface of the Red Planet after a spectacular entry, Curiosity is sending back photos of it's new home in Gale Crater as it begins its science mission.

An image from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (left) shows where Curiosity and its supporting hardware landed on the Martian surface. NASA image
View of Mars surface from Curiosity.
Behold Mount Sharp! This image taken by NASA's Curiosity shows what lies ahead for the rover -- its main science target, Mount Sharp. The rover's shadow can be seen in the foreground, and the dark bands beyond are dunes. Rising up in the distance is the highest peak Mount Sharp at a height of about 3.4 miles, taller than Mt. Whitney in California. The Curiosity team hopes to drive the rover to the mountain to investigate its lower layers, which scientists think hold clues to past environmental change.

This image was captured by the rover's front left Hazard-Avoidance camera at full resolution shortly after it landed. It has been linearized to remove the distorted appearance that results from its fisheye lens. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's most advanced Mars rover Curiosity has landed on the Red Planet. The one-ton rover, hanging by ropes from a rocket backpack, touched down onto Mars Sunday to end a 36-week flight and begin a two-year investigation.

The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) spacecraft that carried Curiosity succeeded in every step of the most complex landing ever attempted on Mars, including the final severing of the bridle cords and flyaway maneuver of the rocket backpack.

"Today, the wheels of Curiosity have begun to blaze the trail for human footprints on Mars. Curiosity, the most sophisticated rover ever built, is now on the surface of the Red Planet, where it will seek to answer age-old questions about whether life ever existed on Mars -- or if the planet can sustain life in the future," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "This is an amazing achievement, made possible by a team of scientists and engineers from around the world and led by the extraordinary men and women of NASA and our Jet Propulsion Laboratory. President Obama has laid out a bold vision for sending humans to Mars in the mid-2030's, and today's landing marks a significant step toward achieving this goal."

Curiosity landed at 10:32 p.m. PDT Aug. 5, (1:32 a.m. EDT Aug. 6) near the foot of a mountain three miles tall and 96 miles in diameter inside Gale Crater. During a nearly two-year prime mission, the rover will investigate whether the region ever offered conditions favorable for microbial life.

"The Seven Minutes of Terror has turned into the Seven Minutes of Triumph," said NASA Associate Administrator for Science John Grunsfeld. "My immense joy in the success of this mission is matched only by overwhelming pride I feel for the women and men of the mission's team."

Curiosity returned its first view of Mars, a wide-angle scene of rocky ground near the front of the rover. More images are anticipated in the next several days as the mission blends observations of the landing site with activities to configure the rover for work and check the performance of its instruments and mechanisms.

"Our Curiosity is talking to us from the surface of Mars," said MSL Project Manager Peter Theisinger of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. "The landing takes us past the most hazardous moments for this project, and begins a new and exciting mission to pursue its scientific objectives."

Confirmation of Curiosity's successful landing came in communications relayed by NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter and received by the Canberra, Australia, antenna station of NASA's Deep Space Network.

Curiosity carries 10 science instruments with a total mass 15 times as large as the science payloads on the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity. Some of the tools are the first of their kind on Mars, such as a laser-firing instrument for checking elemental composition of rocks from a distance. The rover will use a drill and scoop at the end of its robotic arm to gather soil and powdered samples of rock interiors, then sieve and parcel out these samples into analytical laboratory instruments inside the rover.

To handle this science toolkit, Curiosity is twice as long and five times as heavy as Spirit or Opportunity. The Gale Crater landing site places the rover within driving distance of layers of the crater's interior mountain. Observations from orbit have identified clay and sulfate minerals in the lower layers, indicating a wet history.

The mission is managed by JPL for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The rover was designed, developed and assembled at JPL.

For more information on the mission, visit: www.nasa.gov/mars and http://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/msl

Follow the mission on Facebook and Twitter at: www.facebook.com/marscuriosity and www.twitter.com/marscuriosity


August 6, 2012

Statement by the President on Curiosity Landing on Mars

Tonight, on the planet Mars, the United States of America made history.

The successful landing of Curiosity – the most sophisticated roving laboratory ever to land on another planet – marks an unprecedented feat of technology that will stand as a point of national pride far into the future. It proves that even the longest of odds are no match for our unique blend of ingenuity and determination.

Tonight's success, delivered by NASA, parallels our major steps forward towards a vision for a new partnership with American companies to send American astronauts into space on American spacecraft. That partnership will save taxpayer dollars while allowing NASA to do what it has always done best – push the very boundaries of human knowledge. And tonight's success reminds us that our preeminence – not just in space, but here on Earth – depends on continuing to invest wisely in the innovation, technology, and basic research that has always made our economy the envy of the world.

I congratulate and thank all the men and women of NASA who made this remarkable accomplishment a reality – and I eagerly await what Curiosity has yet to discover.


Graphic image of Curiosity on the surface of Mars.
Curiosity - The Next Mars Rover

This artist concept features NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover, a mobile robot for investigating Mars' past or present ability to sustain microbial life. Curiosity is being tested in preparation for launch in the fall of 2011. In this picture, the rover examines a rock on Mars with a set of tools at the end of the rover's arm, which extends about 2 meters (7 feet). Two instruments on the arm can study rocks up close. Also, a drill can collect sample material from inside of rocks and a scoop can pick up samples of soil. The arm can sieve the samples and deliver fine powder to instruments inside the rover for thorough analysis.

The mast, or rover's "head," rises to about 2.1 meters (6.9 feet) above ground level, about as tall as a basketball player. This mast supports two remote-sensing instruments: the Mast Camera, or "eyes," for stereo color viewing of surrounding terrain and material collected by the arm; and, the ChemCam instrument, which is a laser that vaporizes material from rocks up to about 9 meters (30 feet) away and determines what elements the rocks are made of.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

For more information about Curiosity is at http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/ .

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


Aug. 3, 2012

NASA ANNOUNCES NEXT STEPS IN EFFORT TO LAUNCH AMERICANS FROM U.S. SOIL

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA Friday announced new agreements with three American commercial companies to design and develop the next generation of U.S. human spaceflight capabilities, enabling a launch of astronauts from U.S. soil in the next five years. Advances made by these companies under newly signed Space Act Agreements through the agency's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative are intended to ultimately lead to the availability of commercial human spaceflight services for government and commercial customers.

CCiCap partners are:

"Today, we are announcing another critical step toward launching our astronauts from U.S. soil on space systems built by American companies," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. "We have selected three companies that will help keep us on track to end the outsourcing of human spaceflight and create high-paying jobs in Florida and elsewhere across the country."

CCiCap is an initiative of NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP) and an administration priority. The objective of the CCP 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 the International Space Station and low Earth orbit. After the capability is matured and expected to be available to the government and other customers, NASA could contract to purchase commercial services to meet its station crew transportation needs.

The new CCiCAP agreements follow two previous initiatives by NASA to spur the development of transportation subsystems, and represent the next phase of U.S. commercial human space transportation, in which industry partners develop crew transportation capabilities as fully integrated systems. Between now and May 31, 2014, NASA's partners will perform tests and mature integrated designs. This would then set the stage for a future activity that will launch crewed orbital demonstration missions to low Earth orbit by the middle of the decade.

"For 50 years American industry has helped NASA push boundaries, enabling us to live, work and learn in the unique environment of microgravity and low Earth orbit," said William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "The benefits to humanity from these endeavors are incalculable. We're counting on the creativity of industry to provide the next generation of transportation to low Earth orbit and expand human presence, making space accessible and open for business."

While NASA works with U.S. industry partners to develop commercial spaceflight capabilities to low Earth orbit, the agency also is developing the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) and the Space Launch System (SLS), a crew capsule and heavy-lift rocket to provide an entirely new capability for human exploration. Designed to be flexible for launching spacecraft for crew and cargo missions, SLS and Orion MPCV will expand human presence beyond low Earth orbit and enable new missions of exploration across the solar system.

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


Aug. 2, 2012

NASA AND GOOGLE PARTNER TO RELEASE 360-DEGREE INTERACTIVE IMAGES OF KENNEDY SPACE CENTER ON 50TH ANNIVERSAY

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA's Kennedy Space Center is celebrating its 50th anniversary by opening its gates for virtual tours through a partnership with Google Maps.

The launch pads that sent Americans to the moon, probes to distant planets and space shuttles into Earth orbit are just a few clicks away through Google's largest special collection of Street View imagery to date, totaling 6,000 panoramic images of Kennedy.

Google Maps with Street View lets you explore Kennedy's facilities, roads and structures through 360-degree street-level imagery that includes the Apollo/Saturn V Center, Space Shuttle Main Engine shop, Orbiter Processing Facility-3, the Launch Control Center, the Space Station Processing Facility and the center's iconic Vehicle Assembly Building.

Users may go directly to Google Maps, search for "NASA Shuttle Landing Facility," and drag the orange "pegman" icon on the left-hand side to an area outlined in blue. From there, users can navigate around the area by moving up and down pathways and looking around in 360 degrees. The entire collection of images also is available in the Google Street View gallery: www.google.com/streetview

The Street View feature in Google Maps enables users to see Kennedy as it transitions to the multipurpose launch complex of the future, revamping existing infrast

ructure and facilities to provide the flexibility to host a variety of commercial and government spacecraft, rockets and other craft. View the debut video at: http://go.nasa.gov/NLqiSU

NASA's Commercial Crew Program, which is based at Kennedy, is spurring the innovation and development of commercial spacecraft and launch vehicles to transport our astronauts to and from low Earth orbit and the International Space Station. Kennedy will be the starting point for NASA's Orion crew capsule and Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket, which will provide an entirely new capability for human exploration beyond low Earth orbit. NASA's Launch Services Program is preparing for at least 25 missions to various destinations across our solar system, including Mars, Pluto and our sun.

For more information about Kennedy's 50th anniversary, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/y0VdRi

For more information about Kennedy, visit: www.nasa.gov/kennedy


Aug. 1, 2012

NASA TO ANNOUNCE NEW AGREEMENTS FOR NEXT PHASE OF COMMERCIAL CREW DEVELOPMENT

WASHINGTON -- NASA will issue a news release to announce new agreements with industry partners for its Commercial Crew integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative at 9 a.m. EDT, Friday, Aug. 3. At 10 a.m. NASA will host a news briefing from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, which will be broadcast live on NASA Television and the agency's website. NASA also will host a follow-up teleconference for media representatives with detailed questions at 10:45 a.m., immediately following the briefing.

Through CCiCap, NASA is stimulating the private sector to develop and demonstrate human spaceflight capabilities that could ultimately lead to the availability of commercial human spaceflight services for both commercial and government customers.

CCiCap is an initiative of NASA's Commercial Crew Program and a priority of the Obama Administration. The objective of the 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. After the capability is matured, NASA could purchase commercial services to meet its space station crew transportation needs.

Televised news briefing participants at Kennedy are:

News teleconference participants are:

For NASA TV downlink information, schedules and links to the 10 a.m. streaming video of the announcement, visit: www.nasa.gov/ntv

Audio of the 10:45 a.m. teleconference will be streamed live at: www.nasa.gov/newsaudio

To access presentation graphics during the telecon and for more information about NASA's Commercial Crew Program and CCiCap, visit: www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew


July 26, 2012

NASA SELECTS CONTRACT FOR WATER AND WASTE WATER REVITALIZATION

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA has selected RTD Construction Inc. of Zephyrhills, Fla., to provide construction services for the revitalization of Kennedy Space Center's water distribution and waste water collection systems.

The maximum potential value for the two-year fixed price contract is approximately $25.6 million.

RTD Construction Inc. will replace more than 125,000 feet of existing water mains and various water valves, hydrants, fittings and connections. The company also will replace or refurbish 33 sewer systems and replace more than 25,000 feet of sewer pipes and associated electrical and communications systems and wiring.

Subcontractors working with RTD Construction on the revitalization contract include MIL-CON Electric Company of Merritt Island, Fla.; Santis Engineering Inc. of Cape Canaveral, Fla.; Killebrew Inc. of Lakeland, Fla.; and EE&G Construction & Electrical LLC of Melbourne, Fla.

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


July 27, 2012

THE MORPHEUS LANDER IS AT KENNEDY

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- The vehicle arrived at Kennedy Friday to begin a series of tests during the next three months.

Morpheus test May 4, 2011
The Project Morpheus lander fires its liquid oxygen- and methane-fueled engine for a tethered test on May 4, 2011, at the Johnson Space Center. With the vehicle suspended from a crane, the tethered tests allowed engineers to test their control of the vehicle with little risk of damage to the lander. Image credit: NASA/JSC
Morpheus is a prototype lander engineers can use to integrate technologies for future spacecraft that could land on a variety of destinations in our solar system. The technologies include a new propulsion system that uses liquid oxygen and methane, two "green" fuels that could be manufactured on other planetary bodies. Morpheus also is testing technology capable of identifying and avoiding surface hazards to enable a safe and accurate landing anywhere on a planetary surface and under any lighting conditions.

Morpheus is one of 20 projects comprising the Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) program in NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. AES projects pioneer new approaches for rapidly developing prototype systems, demonstrating capabilities and validating concepts for future human missions beyond Earth orbit.

The lander underwent testing at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston for almost a year in preparation for its first free flight at Kennedy. Once Morpheus has performed several successful free flights there, it will fly about a half-mile-long approach that simulates avoiding hazards in a landing field. Teams have spent the last two months creating a hazard field of craters and rocks at the end of the runway of Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF).

Repurposing the SLF for Morpheus testing is one of many projects under way at Kennedy. Across the space center, teams are preparing for the next generation of launch vehicles and spacecraft. The preparations include upgrading launch pads and the space shuttle crawler transporter, and modifying and refurbishing the Vehicle Assembly Building.

For more information about Project Morpheus and videos of past tests, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/OmxmBP

For more information about NASA's Advanced Exploration Systems projects, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/OjU0fQ


July 27, 2012

NASA'S CHIEF TECHNOLOGIST VISITS SPACE FLORIDA'S SPACE LIFE SCIENCES LAB MONDAY

WASHINGTON -- NASA Chief Technologist Mason Peck will visit Space Florida's Space Life Sciences Lab, located just outside of NASA Kennedy Space Center's security gates, on Monday, July 30, at 12:30 p.m. EDT. Peck will meet with Space Florida President and CEO Frank DiBello and small business leaders to discuss collaborative partnerships with NASA.

The lab serves as the primary gateway for payloads bound for the International Space Station and is a leader in innovative approaches to research and development work in space. Research at the lab includes efforts to analyze plant growth in space aboard the station.

For more information about the lab, visit: http://spaceflorida.gov/r-d/space-life-sciences-lab

For a biography of Peck and information about the Office of the Chief Technologist, visit: www.nasa.gov/oct


July 19, 2012

NASA PARTNER UNITED LAUNCH ALLIANCE COMPLETES TWO ATLAS V REVIEWS

CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- NASA partner United Launch Alliance (ULA) has completed a review of its Atlas V rocket to assess its compliance with NASA human spaceflight safety and performance requirements.

ULA has partnered to launch Boeing's CST-100, Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser and Blue Origin's Space Vehicle on missions to low Earth orbit and the International Space Station. NASA provided technical consultation during the ULA review.

ULA is one of several companies working to develop crew transportation capabilities under the Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2) agreement with NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP). Through CCDev2, NASA is helping the private sector develop and test new spacecraft and rockets with the goal of making commercial human spaceflight services available to commercial and government customers.

The Atlas V has launched numerous satellites and robotic missions into space for NASA, including the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover and the Juno probe to Jupiter. Requirements to launch humans will require more stringent criteria, so the company has to show its rocket can meet the extra demands.

"Our partnership with ULA during this round of development has really been focused on understanding the core design of the launch vehicle," said CCP Program Manager Ed Mango. "In these reviews we were able to see how ULA plans to modify the vehicle for human spaceflight."

Among adjustments required to evolve the Atlas V for human spaceflight, designers would have to modify the launch pad so crew members can board the spacecraft. The upper stage of a crewed Atlas V would require the use of two Centaur engines, stronger than the current Atlas V upper stage that uses a single engine. The onboard flight computers would be programmed to guide the rocket on a more managed path through the sky into orbit. Sensors also would be added to the rocket to detect emergency situations for the crew.

"The systems requirements review was the result of an extensive effort with NASA and our commercial spacecraft partners to determine what capabilities the Atlas V already meets and to define what we need to do from here to certify the rocket for human spaceflight," said George Sowers, ULA's vice president for human launch services. "We continue to receive valuable insight from NASA's human spaceflight experts as we move toward the certification of Atlas V for human spaceflight."

All of NASA's industry partners, including ULA, continue to meet their established milestones in developing commercial crew transportation capabilities under CCDev2.

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


July 16, 2012

NASA SELECTS LAUNCH SERVICES CONTRACT FOR JASON-3 MISSION

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA has selected Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, Calif., to launch the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Jason-3 spacecraft in December 2014 aboard a Falcon 9 v1.0 rocket from Complex 4 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The total value of the Jason-3 launch service is approximately $82 million. This estimated cost includes the task ordered launch service for the Falcon 9 v1.0, plus additional services under other contracts for payload processing, launch vehicle integration, mission-unique launch site ground support and tracking, data and telemetry services. NASA is the procurement agent for NOAA.

Jason-3 is an operational ocean altimetry mission designed to measure precisely sea surface height to monitor ocean circulation and sea level. Jason-3 will follow in the tradition of previous missions such as TOPEX/Poseidon, Jason-1 and the Ocean Surface Topography Mission/Jason-2. The Jason-3 mission will be developed and operated as part of an international effort led by NOAA and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites in collaboration with NASA and the French space agency, Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales.

Processed data from the satellite will be used in a broad range of applications including operational ocean and weather forecasting, ocean wave modeling, hurricane intensification prediction, seasonal forecasting, El Nino and La Nina forecasting and climate research. The data will help address questions about global climate change.

The Launch Services Program at NASA's Kennedy Space Center is responsible for launch vehicle program management of the Jason-3 launch services.

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


July 16, 2012

NASA SELECTS LAUNCH SERVICES CONTRACT FOR THREE MISSIONS

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA has selected United Launch Services LLC of Englewood, Colo., to launch the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2), Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) and Joint Polar Satellite System-1 (JPSS-1) spacecraft. The spacecraft will launch in July 2014, October 2014 and November 2016, respectively, aboard Delta II rockets from Complex 2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The total value for the OCO-2, SMAP and JPSS-1 launch services is approximately $412 million. This estimated cost includes the task-ordered launch service for the Delta II plus additional services under other contracts for payload processing, launch vehicle integration, mission-unique launch site ground support and tracking, data and telemetry services.

OCO-2 will study and make time-dependent global measurements of atmospheric carbon dioxide. It will provide the first complete picture of human and natural carbon dioxide sources and "sinks," the places where the gas is pulled out of the atmosphere and stored. The observatory's high-resolution measurements will help scientists better understand the processes that regulate atmospheric carbon dioxide. The OCO-2 project is managed by JPL.

SMAP will provide global measurements of soil moisture and its freeze-thaw state. These measurements will enhance understanding of processes that link Earth's water, energy and carbon cycles. SMAP will extend current capabilities in weather and climate prediction.

SMAP data will be used to develop improved flood prediction and drought monitoring capabilities. SMAP is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif.

JPSS-1 is the successor to the Suomi-National Polar Partnership (NPP) spacecraft, which was launched in October 2011 as a joint mission between NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and operated by the JPSS Program. The JPSS Program is the former National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System Program. The JPSS system includes the satellite's sensors and ground system supporting civil weather, climate measurements and data sharing with other U.S. agencies and international partners.

JPSS-1 will make afternoon observations as it orbits Earth, providing continuity of critical data and imagery observations for accurate weather forecasting, reliable severe storm outlooks and global measurements of atmospheric and oceanic conditions such as sea surface temperatures and ozone. JPSS-1 will increase the timeliness, accuracy and cost-effectiveness of public warnings and forecasts of weather, climate and other environmental events, reducing the potential loss of human life and property.

NOAA is responsible for the JPSS Program and the JPSS-1 mission. NASA is the program's procurement agent. The agency's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., is the lead for acquisition and implementation.

NASA's Launch Services Program at Kennedy Space Center is responsible for launch vehicle program management of the OCO-2, SMAP and JPSS-1 launch services.

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


July 18, 2012

NASA MOURNS LOSS OF FORMER KENNEDY DIRECTOR FORREST MCCARTNEY

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Forrest S. McCartney, former director of NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center, died July 17, 2012, with his family in attendance. He was 81 years old. McCartney, of Indialantic, Fla., was Kennedy's director from Sept. 1, 1987, until Dec. 21, 1991.

"It is with great sadness that I learned of the passing of former Kennedy Space Center Director Forrest McCartney," said Kennedy Director Robert Cabana. "Forrest was one of the finest gentlemen I have ever known, and no one cared more for the KSC team than Gen. McCartney. He was always out in the processing areas talking with the troops and getting the pulse of KSC. He was a man with the highest integrity who always did the right thing. He will most certainly be missed."

McCartney served as director of Kennedy under detail from the U. S. Air Force beginning Oct. 1, 1986. He came to NASA from the position of commander, Air Force Space Division and concluded a distinguished 35-year military career on Aug. 31, 1987, with a retirement ceremony at the office of the Secretary of the Air Force in the Pentagon.

Born March 23, 1931, in Ft. Payne, Ala., McCartney graduated from Gulfcoast Military Academy in 1949. He received a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from the Alabama Polytechnic Institute in 1952. His first military assignment was with the Air Force Logistics Command at Robins Air Force Base, Ga.

McCartney earned a master's degree in nuclear engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, in 1955. Upon graduation he served as project officer for various special weapons programs, and for nuclear weapons safety systems studies at the Special Weapons Center, Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M. He also graduated from the Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, Va., in 1967.

McCartney's first Air Force assignments included duty as a satellite controller at the Satellite Control Facility, Sunnyvale, Calif., in 1959 during early space operations; an assignment at the Office of Space Activities, Air Force Systems Command Headquarters, Andrews Air Force Base, Md., from 1961 to 1966; and service as a project officer in the Titan II program and various Air Force communication satellite programs. He was assigned to the Directorate of Space at U.S. Air Force Headquarters, Washington, D.C., in 1967, as the program element monitor for satellite communications programs and other selected space-related efforts.

Gen. McCartney transferred in 1971 to the Air Force Eastern Test Range, headquartered at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., as the director of Range Engineering.

In June 1974, McCartney was assigned to the Space and Missile Systems Organization at Los Angeles Air Force Station as the systems program director for Fleet Satellite Communications Systems. In August 1976, he was reassigned within the organization as deputy for Space Communications Systems.

McCartney moved to Norton Air Force Base, Calif., in September 1979, as vice commander of the Ballistic Missile Office. In November 1980, he was named commander of the Ballistic Missile Office and MX Program director. He became vice commander of the Air Force Space Division in May 1982.

In May 1983, McCartney was promoted to his retirement rank of lieutenant general and named commander of the Air Force Space Division and vice commander of the new Air Force Space Command.

Spacecraft programs with which McCartney was directly associated include the FLTSATCOM series of military communications satellites, the DSCS communications satellites, the Navstar Global Positioning System, and the Inertial Upper Stage (IUS). He also participated in the construction program of the Consolidated Space Operations Center (CSOC), a command and control center for military space operations at Falcon Air Force Station, Colo.

His military decorations and awards included the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit with one oak leaf cluster, Meritorious Service Medal and Air Force Commendation Medal with three oak leaf clusters, and the Gen. Thomas D. White U. S. Air Force Space Trophy. He also wore the master missileman badge and the master space badge.

After joining NASA, he was the recipient the Military Astronautical Trophy in 1987; NASA's Distinguished Service Medal in 1989; the National Space Club's Goddard Memorial Trophy also in 1989; and the National Space Club Florida Committee's Kurt H. Debus award in 1992.

McCartney was active in the local community, previously serving on the board of trustees of the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Fla., which awarded him an honorary doctorate degree, and on the boards of the Space Coast Science Center and the Merritt Island Wildlife Association.

McCartney is survived by his wife, the former Ruth Griffis of Memphis, Tenn., and two daughters, Margaret and Worthy.

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


July 12, 2012

NASA COMMERCIAL PARTNER SPACEX COMPLETES DRAGON DESIGN REVIEW

HAWTHORNE, Calif. -- NASA partner Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) has completed an important design review of the crewed version of its Dragon spacecraft. The concept baseline review presented NASA with the primary and secondary design elements of its Dragon capsule designed to carry astronauts into low Earth orbit, including the International Space Station.

SpaceX is one of several companies working to develop crew transportation capabilities under the Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2) agreement with NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP). Through CCDev2, NASA is helping the private sector develop and test new spacecraft and rockets with the goal of making commercial human spaceflight services available to commercial and government customers.

In the June 14 review conducted at the company's headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., SpaceX provided details about each phase of a potential crewed mission. This included how the company plans to modify its launch pads to support such missions, Dragon's docking capabilities, the weight and power requirements for the spacecraft, and prospective ground landing sites and techniques. The company also outlined crew living arrangements, such as environmental control and life support equipment, displays and controls.

"SpaceX has made significant progress on its crew transportation capabilities," NASA CCP Manager Ed Mango said. "We commend the SpaceX team on its diligence in meeting its CCDev2 goals to mature the company's technology as this nation continues to build a real capability for America's commercial spaceflight needs."

Safety was a key focus of the review. The SpaceX team presented NASA with analyses on how its SuperDraco launch abort system would perform if an emergency were to occur during launch or ascent. The review also outlined plans for getting astronauts away from danger quickly and safely on the way to low Earth orbit, in space and during the return home.

"The successful conclusion of the concept baseline review places SpaceX exactly where we want to be -- ready to move on to the next phase and on target to fly people into space aboard Dragon by the middle of the decade," said SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer Elon Musk.

All of NASA's industry partners, including SpaceX, continue to meet their established milestones in developing commercial crew transportation capabilities under CCDev2.

While NASA works with U.S. industry to develop commercial spaceflight capabilities to low Earth orbit, the agency also is developing the Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System (SLS), a crew capsule and heavy-lift rocket, to provide an entirely new capability for human exploration of deep space. Designed to be flexible for launching crew and cargo missions, Orion and SLS will expand human presence beyond Earth and enable new missions of exploration across the solar system.

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


July 11, 2012

NASA SEEKS INDUSTRY PARTNER TO UTILIZE UNIQUE SPACEFLIGHT FACILITY

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA's Kennedy Space Center seeks to preserve a unique inventory of Nondestructive Test and Evaluation (NDE) equipment and the capability for current and future mission spaceflight support through a Request for Information, or RFI.

Kennedy wants to identify potential industry interest in the operation and maintenance of the Hangar N facility and its NDE equipment. Because of NASA's transition from the Space Shuttle Program to future commercial and government mission activities, the equipment is underutilized. Hanger N and its associated labs are located near Kennedy on the grounds of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The center may enter into an agreement in which a partner would operate and maintain Hangar N and its equipment at the partner's expense. In the RFI, Kennedy seeks concepts for how customers would use and maintain the facility and equipment in order to make an agreement feasible.

Hangar N provides the inspection techniques necessary for spaceflight hardware, avionics and ground support equipment processing, troubleshooting, and failure analysis. Some of the equipment is attached to the Hangar N facility and cannot easily be relocated. As a result, Kennedy seeks to implement a real property agreement for Hangar N with a potential partner.

In cases where Kennedy facilities like Hangar N are now underutilized, NASA has the option of establishing partnerships with external organizations to make beneficial use of such facilities. Such arrangements must benefit the U.S. government and NASA.

For information about this RFI, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/PHlez9

For more information about Kennedy, visit: www.nasa.gov/kennedy


July 11, 2012

NASA'S COMMERCIAL CREW PARTNER SIERRA NEVADA COMPLETES DREAM CHASER NOSE LANDING GEAR TEST

LOUISVILLE, Colo. -- NASA partner Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has completed a successful test of the nose landing gear for its full-scale Dream Chaser engineering flight test vehicle. The completed test and an upcoming flight test are part of SNC's Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2) agreement with NASA's Commercial Crew Program.

The gear test is an important milestone to prepare for the upcoming approach and landing test of the Dream Chaser Space System later this year. It evaluated the impact the nose landing gear will experience on touchdown in order to ensure a safe runway landing.

SNC is one of seven companies developing commercial crew transportation capabilities to ferry U.S. astronauts to and from low Earth orbit and the International Space Station. The Dream Chaser is the only spacecraft under CCDev2 that is winged and designed to land on a conventional runway. It is designed to carry as many as seven astronauts to space.

"The landing gear system must perform flawlessly, just like the space shuttle orbiter's did, for the safe return of the crew," CCP program manager Ed Mango said. "It's great to see that SNC is building on that experience while developing the Dream Chaser spacecraft."

SNC tested the spacecraft's main landing gear in February. This nose landing gear test completes the milestones leading up to the upcoming approach and landing test, which will complete the CCDev2 partnership.

"This test marks a significant point in the development of the Dream Chaser orbital crew vehicle. As the last milestone before free flight of the Dream Chaser spacecraft, we are now preparing for the approach and landing tests to be flown later this year," said Jim Voss, SNC vice president of space exploration systems and program manager for the Dream Chaser.

All of NASA's industry partners, including SNC, continue to meet their established milestones in developing commercial crew transportation capabilities under CCDev2.

For more information about NASA's Commercial Crew Program and CCDev2, visit: www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew


July 10, 2012

NASA WELCOMES ROCKET CRAFTERS INC. TO FLORIDA

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA's Kennedy Space Center welcomes Rocket Crafters Inc. (RCI) to Florida's Space Coast. The company announced Tuesday a plan to bring new work to Brevard County that could create job opportunities for highly skilled former space shuttle employees.

RCI is a Utah-based company that holds licenses for advanced hybrid rocket and aerospace composite technologies, as well as proprietary hybrid rocket design and analysis software.

This is further evidence that the Space Coast is open for business and positioning itself for the next era of space exploration. Recently, NASA and Lockheed Martin Space Systems revealed the first Orion capsule that will fly to space. NASA announced agreements with The Boeing Company and Craig Technologies to use Kennedy facilities and equipment, and SpaceX launched a successful resupply mission to the International Space Station.

"Kennedy Space Center has worked hard to transition to a 21st Century launch facility," said Kennedy's Center Planning and Development Manager Joyce Riquelme. "Multiple users, both private and government are doing business here. We look forward to discussing with Rocket Crafters and other space companies how Kennedy's unique assets and technical capabilities may be made available to enable their success."

A year after the retirement of NASA's space shuttles, the workforce at Kennedy is remaking America's gateway to space. Over the past three years, President Obama has fought to invest almost $1.4 billion in NASA's 21st Century Space Launch Complex and Exploration Ground Systems.

A dynamic infrastructure is taking shape, one designed to host many kinds of spacecraft and rockets sending people on America's next adventures. Negotiations are taking place with other commercial users for Orbiter Processing Facility Bays 1 and 2, as well as with potential commercial users of the Launch Complex 39 launch pads. These and other partnerships will cement Kennedy as a true multiuser spaceport as envisioned by our nation's leadership.

For more information about Kennedy, visit: www.nasa.gov/kennedy


July 9, 2012

NASA PARTNERS WITH CELLA ENERGY ON HYDROGEN TECHNOLOGY

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida has announced a new partnership with Cella Energy Inc. that could result in vehicles being powered by hydrogen, which is cleaner and produces no greenhouse gases.

This new approach to hydrogen will be the focus of research, development and possible production during the five-year Space Act Agreement (SAA) between Kennedy and Cella. The company has formulated a way to store hydrogen safely in tiny pellets that still allow the fuel to be burned in an engine. Because of its rocket work, Kennedy has the infrastructure and experience necessary to handle hydrogen safely.

"We have a lot of great capabilities at Kennedy and some exceptional talent in both our materials and cryogenics labs, and I think that's what mostly attracted them to us," said Robert Hubbard, Business Development manager at Kennedy.

Cella hopes to make its micro-bead technology practical enough to be used as a fuel in most kinds of machinery, cars, and perhaps even spacesuits and portable electronics. The eventual goal is to use it in fuel-cell engines, which combine hydrogen and oxygen to generate electricity and produce water as the only exhaust product. Kennedy has worked with fuel-cell technology in Apollo spacecraft and space shuttles.

The company already has offices in the Space Life Sciences Laboratory at Kennedy and is expected to become an early tenant at Exploration Park, a research center now under construction at the space center.

"We're trying to expand Kennedy's portfolio of capabilities," Hubbard said. "We want to be on the cutting edge of developing green energy technologies and what better place to do it than Kennedy's Exploration Park."

Under the agreement, Kennedy will serve as a consultant to Cella for developing an integrated solution for hydrogen storage and help Cella incorporate Kennedy-developed hydrogen sensing color-changing polymers. Cella also is interested in working with lightweight aerofoam and aeroplastic, another NASA innovation, notable for their thermal-insulating properties.

For more information about Kennedy, visit: www.nasa.gov/kennedy


July 3, 2012

NASA SIGNS AGREEMENT WITH CRAIG TECHNOLOGIES FOR KENNEDY'S UNIQUE EQUIPMENT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA has signed a new partnership with Craig Technologies of Melbourne, Fla., to maintain an inventory of unique processing and manufacturing equipment for future mission support at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Under a five-year, non-reimbursable Space Act Agreement, NASA will loan 1,600 pieces of equipment to Craig Technologies. The equipment supported Space Shuttle Program capabilities such as flight hardware and cable fabrication. It was used in manufacturing, repair and inspection processes necessary for spaceflight hardware, avionics and ground processing.

"This is an innovative way to ensure that space shuttle era technology and tools are reused for other hi-tech, private sector purposes along the Space Coast," said David Weaver, NASA's associate administrator for the Office of Communications."This is all part of NASA's plan to support the transition to the next era of exploration, creating good-paying American jobs and keeping the United States the world leader in space."

Craig Technologies will be able to use the equipment for five years beginning January 2013 or until NASA requires use of it, whichever comes first. Craig will be required to operate, maintain and store the property at a single location within a 50-mile radius of Kennedy.

"Kennedy continues to work with the commercial community to find inventive ways to share our unique capabilities," said Joyce Riquelme, manager of the Kennedy Center Planning and Development Office. "This partnership benefits new customers who will use the equipment now, and keeps it close for our use in future spaceflight projects."

The equipment currently is located in the NASA Shuttle Logistics Depot in Cape Canaveral, Fla., and managed by United Space Alliance (USA). The equipment will remain there through the end of the year when the current USA lease expires.

For more information about Kennedy, visit: www.nasa.gov/kennedy


June 29, 2012

NASA'S KENNEDY SPACE CENTER CELEBRATES 50TH ANNIVERSARY JULY 1

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- On Sunday, NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida celebrates 50 years of launching humans and machines to other planets and into low Earth orbit.

Since its inception as the Launch Operations Center on July 1, 1962, Kennedy has supported a variety of launch vehicles and payloads. The Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs carried astronauts on space missions that culminated in moon landings. Planetary probes lifted off on journeys that expanded our knowledge. The space shuttles launched 135 times and helped build the International Space Station.

Kennedy Director Bob Cabana said, "In 50 years, less than a lifetime, Americans first pioneered paths into orbit, then made confident strides onto the surface of another world and sent instrument-laden machines into the perilous reaches of space beyond the solar system. All those voyages began here, made possible in large measure by the professionalism, determination and boldness of the Kennedy team."

A 50th Anniversary website charts the five-decade history of Kennedy Space Center and includes a video that chronicles some of the center's most impressive milestones: http://go.nasa.gov/y0VdRi

As it turns 50, Kennedy is transitioning to the launch complex of the future, revamping existing infrastructure and facilities to provide the flexibility to host a variety of vehicles.

"We have learned so much about exploring new horizons," Cabana said. "In our endeavors, we've also come to realize that there is so much out there for us to discover. Kennedy is the linchpin to NASA's new undertakings because we are, and always have been, the nation's premier launch site."

In partnership with NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, the Commercial Crew Program at Kennedy is spurring the innovation and development of commercial spacecraft and launch vehicles to transport our astronauts to and from low Earth orbit and the International Space Station.

Kennedy also will be the starting point for NASA's Orion crew capsule and Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket, which will provide an entirely new capability for human exploration beyond low Earth orbit.

Kennedy's Launch Services Program is preparing for at least 25 missions to various destinations, including Mars, Pluto and our sun.

For more information about Kennedy, visit: www.nasa.gov/kennedy


June 28, 2012

NASA SELECTS CONTRACTS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL REMEDIATION SERVICES

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA has selected three companies to provide architect and engineering professional environmental remediation services at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., the adjacent Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) and other NASA locations.

The combined maximum potential value for the three contracts is $91 million. Services will be performed during a five-year period beginning this year.

The companies selected are Geosyntec Consultants of Boca Raton, Fla.; Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. of Cape Canaveral, Fla.; and Tetra Tech of Pittsburgh, Pa. Under the contract, the three companies will compete for fixed-price work orders to develop and implement contamination assessment and remediation requirements for Resource Conservation and Recovery Act sites and petroleum contamination for NASA at Kennedy and CCAFS.

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


June 27, 2012

NEW NASA GAME LETS PLAYERS BUILD AND LAUNCH A VIRTUAL ROCKET

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- With NASA's Rocket Science 101, a new game designed for computers and iPad users, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to launch a spacecraft.

NASA's Launch Services Program (LSP), based at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, provides access to space for the studies of Earth and exploration of our solar system and the universe. Now, LSP is turning over the virtual selection, construction and launch of a mission to players who will decide the best rocket to assemble to launch a spacecraft. Rocket scientists in LSP do the same thing for real rockets and missions every day.

Players select their favorite NASA mission and choose from three skill levels for building a rocket to send the spacecraft into orbit. The Rocket Science 101 challenge provides players an opportunity to learn about NASA missions and the various components of the launch vehicles, including how rockets are configured and how they work together to successfully launch a spacecraft.

LSP managers, engineers and other specialists match spacecraft with the right rocket to carry out real-life missions, a process often done years ahead of a launch. As liftoff nears, teams oversee the launch vehicle's engineering and manufacturing, including its integration with the spacecraft. LSP conducts the countdowns for NASA's scientific missions and provides additional quality assurance along with other controls to ensure a successful mission.

The application was developed by the Kennedy Information Technology Mobile Team in conjunction with LSP. Rocket Science 101 is available for iPad users via iTunes at: http://bit.ly/Mn1xLr

Rocket Science 101 is available online at: http://go.nasa.gov/Mn28Nt

To learn more about LSP, rockets and NASA missions, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/yg4U1J


June 26, 2012

THRUSTER TESTS COMPLETE FOR NASA PARTNER BOEING'S CREW CAPSULE

CANOGA PARK, Calif. -- Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne has successfully completed a series of tests on a thruster destined for Boeing's Commercial Space Transportation spacecraft, designated CST-100.

Boeing is one of several companies working to develop crew transportation capabilities under the Commercial Crew Development Round 2 agreement with NASA's Commercial Crew Program. The goal of the program is to help spur innovation and development of safe, reliable and cost-effective spacecraft and launch vehicles capable of transporting astronauts to low Earth orbit and the International Space Station.

Twenty-four thrusters will be part of the spacecraft's orbital maneuvering and attitude control system (OMAC), giving the CST-100 the ability to maneuver in space and during re-entry. The thrusters also will allow the spacecraft to separate from its launch vehicle if an abort becomes necessary during launch or ascent.

"Boeing and Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne know what it takes to develop safe systems and subsystems," said NASA Commercial Crew Program Manager Ed Mango. "They're building on the successes of their past, while pushing the envelope with next-generation ideas to create a spacecraft for low Earth orbit transportation."

During tests conducted at the White Sands Space Harbor in Las Cruces, N.M., an OMAC thruster was fired in a vacuum chamber that simulated a space-like environment of 100,000 feet. The tests verified the durability of the thrusters in extreme heat, evaluated the opening and closing of its valves and confirmed continuous combustion and performance.

"We're excited about the performance of the engine during the testing and confident the OMAC thrusters will affordably meet operational needs for safe, reliable human spaceflight," said Terry Lorier, Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne's Commercial Crew Development program manager.

All of NASA's industry partners, including Boeing, continue to meet their established milestones in developing commercial crew transportation capabilities.

NASA also is developing the Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System (SLS), a crew capsule and heavy-lift rocket that will provide an entirely new capability for human exploration beyond low Earth orbit. Designed to be flexible for launching spacecraft for crew and cargo missions, SLS and Orion will expand human presence beyond low Earth orbit and enable new missions of exploration across the solar system.

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


June 26, 2012

NASA ADDS ORBITAL'S ANTARES TO LAUNCH SERVICES II CONTRACT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA has modified its NASA Launch Services (NLS) II contract with Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., to add the Antares launch vehicle, formerly known as Taurus II, for future missions.

The NLS II on-ramp provision provides an opportunity annually for launch service providers not presently under the NLS II contract to compete for future missions, and allows launch service providers already under contract to introduce launch vehicles not currently on their NLS II contracts, such as Antares.

NLS II contracts are multiple award, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contracts with ordering periods through June 2020. The contracts provide for a minimum capability of delivering agency payloads weighing approximately 550 pounds or more to a minimum 124-mile-high circular orbit with a launch inclination of 28.5 degrees. The launch service providers also may offer a range of vehicles to NASA to meet higher payload mass and orbit requirements.

These contracts support the goals and objectives of the agency's Science Mission Directorate, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, and Office of the Chief Technologist. Under the contract, NASA also can provide launch services to other government agencies, such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The Launch Services Program Office at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida is responsible for program management.

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


June 6, 2012

NUSTAR SCHEDULED FOR LAUNCH ON PEGASUS XL ROCKET JUNE 13

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) is scheduled for launch Wednesday, June 13, 2012. The four-hour launch window opens at 11:30 a.m. EDT. A Pegasus XL rocket built by Orbital Sciences Corporation will carry the NuSTAR spacecraft into orbit.

The two-year mission will begin from the U.S. Army's Reagan test site at Kwajalein Atoll, a part of the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean. After departure of the Orbital L-1011 carrier aircraft, the Pegasus with NuSTAR will be launched over the Pacific at an altitude of 39,000 feet. The launch location will be 117 nautical miles south of Kwajalein at a latitude of 6.75 degrees north of the equator. Spacecraft separation from the Pegasus rocket occurs 13 minutes, 12 seconds after deployment from the L-1011.

NuSTAR is a Small Explorer mission that will allow international astronomers to study the universe in high-energy X-rays. It will be the first focusing hard X-ray telescope to orbit Earth and will dramatically improve sensitivity and imaging capability over previous space missions that have observed this region of the electronic magnetic spectrum.

NuSTAR's X-ray telescope will undertake a broad range of scientific investigations. For example, NuSTAR will observe the Milky Way to search for the remnants of exploded stars, such as white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes that radiate at high energies. Using the penetrating power of high-energy X-rays, NuSTAR will peer deep into dusty galaxies to find the billion-solar-mass black holes that reside in the galactic centers. Other targets range from galaxy clusters -- the largest-known gravitationally bound structures in the Universe -- to our own Sun. This will be the 41st launch of an Orbital Sciences Pegasus rocket.

NuSTAR is a Small Explorer mission led by the California Institute of Technology and managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, both in Pasadena, Calif., for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. The spacecraft was built by Orbital Sciences Corp., Dulles, Va. Its instrument was built by a consortium including Caltech; JPL; the University of California, Berkeley; Columbia University, New York; NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.; the Danish Technical University in Denmark; Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Calif.; and ATK Aerospace Systems, Goleta, Calif. NuSTAR will be operated by UC Berkeley, with the Italian Space Agency providing its equatorial ground station located at Malindi, Kenya. The mission's outreach program is based at Sonoma State University, Calif. NASA's Explorer Program is managed by Goddard. JPL is managed by Caltech for NASA.

Launch management and government oversight for the mission is the responsibility of NASA's Launch Services Program at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., is NASA's launch service provider of the Pegasus XL rocket. Orbital is also the designer and builder of the NuSTAR spacecraft. For more information about NuSTAR, visit: www.nasa.gov/nustar


June 6, 2012

NASA PARTNER SIERRA NEVADA COMPLETES PRELIMINARY DESIGN REVIEW OF DREAM CHASER VEHICLE TO TRANSPORT ASTRONAUTS

LOUISVILLE, Colo. -- Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) Space Systems has successfully completed a preliminary design review (PDR) of the design, architecture and performance of its Dream Chaser orbital crew vehicle. This marks a new milestone in the company's effort to develop transportation for astronauts to low Earth orbit and the International Space Station.

SNC is one of several companies working to develop commercial crew transportation capabilities under the Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2) agreement with NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP). The goal is to help spur innovation and development of new spacecraft and launch vehicles from the commercial industry to develop safe, reliable and cost-effective capabilities to transport astronauts to low Earth orbit and the space station. The Dream Chaser is designed to carry as many as seven astronauts to space. It is the only spacecraft under CCDev2 that uses wings and is designed to land on a conventional runway.

"As CCP's partners meet these critical milestones, we are moving in the right direction in our combined effort to advance commercial capabilities that could eventually transport NASA astronauts," NASA CCP Program Manager Ed Mango said.

This marks the 17th milestone to be completed by SNC during CCP's initial two development phases. The PDR included a review of the entire orbital flight program, including the Dream Chaser spacecraft, and associated mission and ground systems. The company also reviewed the spacecraft's compatibility with its initial launch vehicle, the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

"Our program includes 12 industrial partners, 7 NASA Centers and 3 universities from over 20 states who helped us achieve two major program milestones this week. With the completion of PDR and the beginning of our vehicle's flight test program, the Dream Chaser Program has now entered the next phase of its development. We are proud to be included with the other CCDev companies in developing a U.S. crew capability to low earth orbit," said Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president and head of SNC's Space Systems.

The final PDR board meeting was conducted shortly after the company successfully completed a captive-carry test of its full-scale Dream Chaser test flight vehicle May 29. The flight met all its test goals and moved the program a step closer to preparing the vehicle for an autonomous approach and landing test scheduled for later this summer.

All of NASA's industry partners, including SNC, continue to meet their established milestones in developing commercial crew transportation capabilities.

NASA also is developing the Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System (SLS), a crew capsule and heavy-lift rocket that will provide an entirely new capability for human exploration beyond low Earth orbit. Designed to be flexible for launching spacecraft for crew and cargo missions, SLS and Orion will expand human presence beyond low Earth orbit and enable new missions of exploration across the solar system.

For more video and images of the test flight, and more information about NASA's Commercial Crew Program, visit: www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew

For more information on Sierra Nevada Space Systems, visit: http://www.SNCspace.com


May 31, 2012

NASA'S COMMERCIAL CREW PARTNER SIERRA NEVADA CORPORATION COMPLETES DREAM CHASER FLIGHT TEST MILESTONE

LOUISVILLE, Colo. -- Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) Space Systems successfully completed a "captive carry test" of its full-scale Dream Chaser orbital crew vehicle Tuesday, marking a new milestone in the company's effort to develop transportation for astronauts to low Earth orbit and the International Space Station.

Sierra Nevada Corp's captive carry of Dream Chaser.
Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) announces the beginning of its Dream Chaser® Space System's flight test program with a successful captive carry of a full scale Dream Chaser Flight Vehicle. -- Photo: SNC website
During the test, the Dream Chaser flight vehicle was carried under an Erickson Air-Crane helicopter to assess the vehicle's aerodynamic flight performance, which will allow additional flight tests in the future. The helicopter flew for approximately an hour near the Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport in Jefferson County, Colo.

SNC is one of several companies working to develop commercial crew transportation capabilities under the Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2) agreement with NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP), which is helping spur innovation and development of new spacecraft and launch vehicles from the commercial industry.

"This is a very positive success for the Dream Chaser team and their innovative approach," NASA CCP Program Manager Ed Mango said. "I applaud and encourage the designers and engineers to continue their efforts in meeting the objectives of the rest of their CCDev2 milestones."

The Dream Chaser is designed to carry as many as seven astronauts to space. It is the only spacecraft under CCDev2 that is winged and designed to land on a conventional runway. Data from the test will provide SNC an early opportunity to evaluate and prove hardware, facilities and ground operations in preparation for approach and landing tests scheduled for later this year.

"The successful captive carry flight test of the Dream Chaser full scale flight vehicle marks the beginning of SNC's flight test program, a program that could culminate in crewed missions to the International Space Station for NASA," said Steve Lindsey, former NASA astronaut and head of Dream Chaser's flight operations for SNC.

Additional milestones leading up to the test included evaluating the performance of the main landing gear selected for use on the Dream Chaser flight vehicle, an interface test to demonstrate the release mechanism between the spacecraft prototype and the heavy-lift helicopter, and a thorough flight test readiness review with engineers, technical experts and representatives from SNC and NASA. Another milestone evaluated the separation system compatibility of Dream Chaser with its initial launch vehicle, the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, which would be used to release the spacecraft from the rocket's second stage after it has placed the spacecraft into low Earth orbit.

All of NASA's industry partners, including SNC, continue to meet their established milestones in developing commercial crew transportation capabilities.

For more video and images of the test flight, and more information about NASA's Commercial Crew Program, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew

For more information on Sierra Nevada Space Systems, visit: http://www.SNCspace.com


May 22, 2012

SPACEX LAUNCHES NASA DEMONSTRATION MISSION TO SPACE STATION

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- The second demonstration mission for NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program is under way as SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft lifted off Tuesday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 3:44 a.m. EDT.

"I want to congratulate SpaceX for its successful launch and salute the NASA team that worked alongside them to make it happen," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "Today marks the beginning of a new era in exploration; a private company has launched a spacecraft to the International Space Station that will attempt to dock there for the first time. And while there is a lot of work ahead to successfully complete this mission, we are certainly off to good start. Under President Obama's leadership, the nation is embarking upon an ambitious exploration program that will take us farther into space than we have ever traveled before, while helping create good-paying jobs right here in the United States of America."

The Dragon capsule will conduct a series of checkout procedures to test and prove its systems, including the capability to rendezvous and berth with the International Space Station. On Thursday, May 24, Dragon will perform a flyby of the space station at a distance of approximately 1.5 miles to validate the operation of sensors and flight systems necessary for a safe rendezvous and approach with live NASA TV coverage beginning at 2:30 a.m.

Following analysis of the flyby by NASA and SpaceX managers, the Dragon capsule will be cleared to rendezvous and berth with the space station on Friday, May 25, marking the first time a commercial company has attempted this feat. The Expedition 31 crew on board the station will use the orbiting complex's robotic arm to capture Dragon and install it on the bottom side of the Harmony node. NASA TV will provide live coverage beginning at 2 a.m.

"This flight is an important milestone as NASA and SpaceX develop the next generation of U.S. spacecraft to carry the critically important experiments, payloads and supplies to our remarkable laboratory in space," said William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for NASA's Human Exploration Operations Directorate at the agency's Headquarters in Washington.

SpaceX and Orbital Sciences, which will perform its own test flight later this year, have been working under NASA's COTS program, which provides investments to stimulate the commercial space industry in America. Once the companies have successfully completed their test flights, they will begin delivering regular cargo shipments to the station.

"NASA is working with private industry in an unprecedented way, cultivating innovation on the path toward maintaining America's leadership in space exploration," said Philip McAlister, director for NASA's Commercial Spaceflight Development.

In parallel to COTS, NASA's Commercial Crew Program is helping spur innovation and development of new spacecraft and launch vehicles from the commercial industry to develop safe, reliable and cost-effective capabilities to transport astronauts to low Earth orbit and the space station.

NASA also is developing the Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System (SLS), a crew capsule and heavy-lift rocket that will provide an entirely new capability for human exploration beyond low Earth orbit. Designed to be flexible for launching spacecraft for crew and cargo missions, SLS and Orion will expand human presence beyond low Earth orbit and enable new missions of exploration across the solar system.

For up-to-date SpaceX mission information and a schedule of NASA TV coverage, visit: www.nasa.gov/spacex

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

For more information about NASA's commercial space programs, visit: www.nasa.gov/exploration/commercial/

For an interactive overview of NASA's commercial space programs, visit: www.nasa.gov/externalflash/commercializingspace

For an interactive overview of the future of American human spaceflight, visit: www.nasa.gov/externalflash/human_space


May 24, 2012

NASA AWARDS ARCHITECTURE AND ENGINEERING CONTRACT FOR BRIDGES

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA selected URS Corp. of Orlando, Fla., to perform architecture and engineering studies and provide designs and other professional services to replace and restore bridges at NASA's Kennedy Space Center and the adjacent Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The maximum potential value of this indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract will not exceed $30 million for work that starts in May and extends for five years, with four one-year options.

Work under the contract includes completing design packages and performing studies, and providing detailed cost estimates, surveys, reports, environmental permit applications and environmental certificates of compliance. URS will provide designs with low environmental impact and use sustainable materials.

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


May 24, 2012

NASA's UPCOMING NUSTAR LAUNCH

WASHINGTON -- NuSTAR will observe some of the hottest, densest and most energetic objects in the universe, including black holes, their high-speed particle jets, ultra-dense neutron stars, supernova remnants and our sun. It will observe high-energy X-rays with much greater sensitivity and clarity than any mission flown to date. Among its several goals, NuSTAR will address the puzzle of how black holes and galaxies evolve together over time.

NuSTAR is scheduled to launch no earlier than 11:30 a.m. EDT on June 13 from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The spacecraft will lift off on an Orbital Sciences Pegasus XL launch vehicle, released from an aircraft flying south of Kwajalein. Launch management and government oversight for the mission is the responsibility of NASA's Launch Services Program at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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

For more information about the NuSTAR mission, visit: www.nasa.gov/nustar


May 24, 2012

NASA COMMERCIAL CREW PARTNER BOEING MEETS SOFTWARE MILESTONE

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- The Boeing Company has successfully completed a new milestone in the development of software that will operate its Crew Space Transportation (CST) spacecraft. The company is one of NASA's partners developing commercial crew transportation capabilities to ferry U.S. astronauts to and from low Earth orbit and the International Space Station.

With the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) of its software on May 18, the company now has completed more than 40 milestones under partnerships supporting NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP).

"When it comes to designing a spacecraft safe enough to transport humans, software is as important as the hardware," said Ed Mango, CCP manager. "Boeing has made an excellent effort to take safety into consideration while developing critical software components of its spacecraft."

Boeing's CST-100 is designed to be a reusable, capsule-shaped spacecraft, capable of transporting up to seven people or a combination of people and cargo. It is compatible with a variety of expendable launch vehicles. Boeing has selected United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rocket for initial CST-100 test flights.

Software is essential to all operational aspects of the spacecraft, including launch, orbital maneuvering, docking with and separating from the space station, re-entry and landing.

The testing is part of a NASA-funded Space Act Agreement under the second round of the agency's commercial crew development (CCDev2) activities, which could eventually lead toward human spaceflight certification of the CST-100.

The Boeing team is on schedule to complete its remaining CCDev2 milestones in the next few months, including an orbital maneuvering/attitude control engine hot fire test that will provide additional data on significant elements of the spacecraft design.

All of NASA's industry partners, including Boeing, continue to meet their established milestones in developing commercial crew transportation capabilities.

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


May 8, 2012

NASA COMMERCIAL PARTNER SPACEX COMPLETES CREW ACCOMMODATIONS MILESTONE

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) has finished an important evaluation of a prototype Dragon spacecraft designed to carry people into orbit. This key milestone is part of SpaceX's partnership with NASA under a funded Space Act Agreement to advance the design of crew transportation vehicles.

The primary goal of the tests was to determine whether the layout will allow astronauts to maneuver effectively in the vehicle. Several veteran space shuttle astronauts and NASA engineers conducted the evaluation during a pair of two-day-long reviews.

"I am very pleased with the progress SpaceX and our other commercial partners are making during the CCDev2 effort," said NASA Commercial Spaceflight Director Philip McAlister. "Together with NASA's development of beyond low-Earth-orbit systems, commercial crew and cargo transportation is an integral part of our overall human spaceflight program."

As part of the Commercial Crew Development Round 2, or CCDev2, agreement, the company invited the astronauts and engineers to its headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., to conduct the evaluation. The prototype was equipped with seats, lighting, environmental control and life support systems, conceptual displays and controls, cargo racks and other interior systems.

"This milestone demonstrated the layout of the crew cabin supports critical tasks," said SpaceX Commercial Crew Development Manager Garrett Reisman. "It also demonstrated the Dragon interior has been designed to maximize the ability of the seven-member crew to do their jobs as effectively as possible."

During the reviews, space shuttle veterans Rex Walheim, Tony Antonelli, Eric Boe and Tim Kopra participated in so-called "human factor assessments." This included entering and exiting Dragon under normal and emergency scenarios. They also performed reach and visibility evaluations.

"As an anchor customer for commercial transportation services, we are happy to provide SpaceX with knowledge and lessons learned from our 50 years of human spaceflight," said Commercial Crew Program Manager Ed Mango. "We appreciate the opportunity SpaceX gave us to provide feedback on these critical interior systems while the company maintains its flexibility to appeal to other customers."

This is the seventh of 10 milestones SpaceX must meet under the CCDev2 agreement, which continues through July 31. This includes the development of a launch abort system for crew escape during launch or ascent.

All of NASA's industry partners continue to meet their established milestones in developing safe, reliable