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NASA Press Releases
2008 - 2014
National Aeronautics and Space Administration

John F. Kennedy Space Center
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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 and affordable commercial crew transportation capabilities.

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


May 4, 2012

KENNEDY DIRECTOR LOOKS FORWARD TO EXPANDED INDUSTRY PARTNERSHIP

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- On Friday, NASA Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana participated in an event with federal and state officials to discuss the future plans of Sierra Nevada Corp., one of NASA's industry partners, in Florida. His remarks from that event are below:

"Partnerships are key to our future success," said Cabana. "We look forward to expanding our partnership with Sierra Nevada here at Kennedy Space Center.

"KSC has an extremely talented and dedicated work force, and unique processing capabilities and facilities that can help our commercial partners be successful.

"Sierra Nevada is already part of the KSC team through the space act agreement we signed last year, and we look forward to their more visible presence, as we continue to enable the commercial space industry and truly make KSC a multi-user spaceport of the future."

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


May 3, 2012

NASA'S COMMERCIAL CREW PARTNER BOEING COMPLETES PARACHUTE TEST

WASHINGTON -- The Boeing Company successfully completed the second parachute drop test for its Crew Space Transportation (CST) spacecraft Wednesday, part of its effort to develop commercial crew transportation capabilities that could ferry U.S. astronauts to and from low-Earth orbit (LEO) and the International Space Station.

A helicopter lifted the CST-100 crew capsule to about 10,000 feet above the Delmar Dry Lake Bed near Alamo, Nev. A drogue parachute deployment sequence was initiated, followed by deployment of the main parachute. The capsule descended to a smooth ground landing, cushioned by six inflated air bags. The test demonstrated the performance of the entire landing system.

"Boeing's parachute demonstrations are a clear sign NASA is moving in the right direction of enabling the American aerospace transportation industry to flourish under this partnership," NASA's Commercial Crew Program Manager Ed Mango said. "The investments we're making now are enabling this new path forward of getting our crews to LEO and potentially the space station as soon as possible."

Boeing's CST system is designed to be a reusable, capsule-shaped spacecraft capable of taking up to seven people, or a combination of people and cargo, to and from low-Earth orbit, including the space station. HDT Airborne Systems of Solon, Ohio, designed, fabricated and integrated the parachute system, including the two drogue parachutes. ILC Dover of Frederica, Del., designed and fabricated the landing air bag system.

The first test, on April 3, validated the architecture and deployment of the parachute system, characterized pyrotechnic shock loads, confirmed parachute size and design, and identified potential forward compartment packaging and deployment issues. The company inspected and re-packed the full parachute system for this second test.

"This second parachute drop test validates Boeing's innovative system architecture and deployment plan," said John Mulholland, vice president and program manager of Boeing Commercial Programs. "Boeing's completion of this milestone reaffirms our commitment to provide safe, reliable and affordable crewed access to space."

The company has scheduled additional tests to be performed in 2012 that will provide more data on elements of the spacecraft's design.

Boeing's spacecraft was designed to be compatible with a variety of expendable launch vehicles. The company selected United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rocket for initial CST-100 test flights.

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: http://www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew


April 24, 2012

NASA ISSUES STATEMENT ON SPACEX LAUNCH DATE

WASHINGTON -- In response to SpaceX's announcement that it has delayed launch of its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft from April 30 to May 7, NASA issued the following statement from Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations William Gerstenmaier:

"We appreciate that SpaceX is taking the necessary time to help ensure the success of this historic flight. We will continue to work with SpaceX in preparing for the May 7 launch to the International Space Station."

For more information on the flight, visit: www.nasa.gov/spacex

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

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


April 16, 2012

SHUTTLE DISCOVERY TO FLY OVER FLORIDA'S SPACE COAST APRIL 17

NASA's 747 with Space Shuttle on top. CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA's 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) with space shuttle Discovery on top will fly above sections of the Central Florida coastline and Brevard County on Tuesday, April 17, starting at about 7 a.m. EDT. This will be the final time Discovery will take to the skies over Florida's Space Coast as the spacecraft will be headed to its new home at the Smithsonian in Virginia.

The Space Coast flyover is expected to head south from Kennedy down the coastline past Patrick Air Force Base and then head back up north along the coast to Kennedy where it will make a pass over the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and shuttle runway one last time before the SCA heads out of the area.

Discovery will be transported to Washington Dulles International Airport in Sterling, Va., and then offloaded and transferred to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va., for permanent public display on April 19. Before landing at Dulles on Tuesday, the SCA and Discovery are expected to fly near a variety of landmarks in the metropolitan Washington, D.C., area between 10-11 a.m.

While travelling north to Dulles, the SCA is expected generally to fly up the coastline in Georgia and the Carolinas before taking a more inland route over Virginia. The exact route and timing of the flight depend on weather and operational constraints. If the flight is postponed for any reason, an additional notice will be released.

NASA Television will provide live video of Discovery's departure from Kennedy and flyover of the Space Coast and of the arrival at Dulles and flyover of Washington. For NASA TV downlink information, schedules and links to streaming video, visit: www.nasa.gov/ntv

For information about NASA and its missions, visit: www.nasa.gov/transition


April 16, 2012

NASA/SPACEX LAUNCH AND MISSION TO SPACE STATION

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Following the completion of NASA's flight readiness review, the second SpaceX demonstration launch for NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program is scheduled for Monday, April 30. A Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Dragon capsule will lift off from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. There is a single instantaneous launch opportunity at 12:22 p.m. EDT.

NASA Television launch commentary from Cape Canaveral will begin at 11 a.m.: www.nasa.gov/ntv

During the flight, SpaceX's Dragon capsule will conduct a series of check-out procedures to test and prove its systems, including rendezvous and berthing with the International Space Station (ISS). The primary objectives for the flight include a flyby of the ISS at a distance of approximately 1.5 miles to validate the operation of sensors and flight systems necessary for a safe rendezvous and approach. The spacecraft also will demonstrate the ability to abort the rendezvous. After these capabilities are successfully proven, the Dragon will be cleared to berth with the ISS.


April 5, 2012

NASA AWARDS LAUNCH CONTRACT FOR GOES-R AND GOES-S MISSIONS

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA has selected United Launch Services, LLC of Englewood, Colo., to launch the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites-R and S, or GOES-R and GOES-S. The spacecrafts will launch in October 2015 and February 2017, respectively, aboard Atlas V 541 rockets from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.

The total cost of the GOES-R and GOES-S launch services is approximately $446 million. This estimated cost includes launch service for the Atlas V and additional services under other contracts for payload processing, launch vehicle integration, mission unique launch site ground support, and tracking, data and telemetry services.

The advanced spacecraft and instrument technology used on GOES-R and GOES-S will result in more timely and accurate weather forecasts. It will improve detection and observation of meteorological phenomena that directly affect people's lives.

The GOES-R and GOES-S Flight Projects Office, which oversees the development of the Space Segment, is managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., The overall GOES-R and GOES-S Program is managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NASA's Launch Services Program, based at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is responsible for Atlas V launch vehicle program management and launch services.

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


April 10, 2012

NASA CRAWLER-TRANSPORTER

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 pads. These system modifications include AC generator replacement, electronics replacement, cable replacement, tubing replacement, hydraulic component replacement, cleaning of fuel tanks, and cleaning of hydraulic systems. These modifications will allow the crawler, which has supported NASA's Apollo and Space Shuttle Programs, to continue supporting human spaceflight for another 20 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


March 13, 2012

NASA'S COMMERCIAL CREW PARTNER HOT-FIRES LAUNCH ABORT ENGINE

CANOGA PARK, Calif. -- Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, which is supporting The Boeing Company during the development of its CST-100 spacecraft in NASA's Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2), completed mission-duration hot-fire tests on a launch abort engine on Friday, March 9. The demonstration in California is one of many milestones Boeing is meeting for its funded Space Act Agreement during CCDev2.

"Boeing and its contractor, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, continue to make good progress on milestones supporting the development of their commercial crew transportation capabilities," said Ed Mango, Commercial Crew Program program manager. "The eventual availability of these capabilities from a U.S. domestic provider will enhance U.S. competitiveness and open new markets for the U.S. aerospace industry."

Boeing's Crew Space Transportation system is a reusable, capsule-shaped spacecraft designed to take up to seven people, or a combination of people and cargo, to low Earth orbit, including the International Space Station. Its service module and integrated launch abort propulsion system are designed to push the crew capsule to safety if an abort becomes necessary during launch or ascent. If an abort is not necessary, the system's propellant could be used for other portions of a mission, including re-boosting the orbit of the space station.

"We achieved full thrust on the 40,000-pound thrust-class engine while validating key operating conditions during engine start-up and shut down," said Terry Lorier, Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne's Commercial Crew Development program manager, who supports Boeing's program.

Under its fixed-price contract with Boeing, Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne is combining its Attitude Control Propulsion System thrusters from heritage spaceflight programs, Bantam abort engine design and storable propellant engineering capabilities. "The tests provided key thermal and analytical data," Lorier said. "We are well on our way to providing an important propulsion system for safe, reliable human spaceflight."

All of NASA's industry partners under CCDev2 continue to meet their established milestones in developing commercial crew transportation capabilities.

For more information about NASA's Commercial Crew Program and CCDev2, visit: www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew


April 2, 2012

NASA, SPACEX ANNOUNCE NASA SOCIAL FOR FALCON 9 LAUNCH ATTEMPT

WASHINGTON -- NASA and Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) will invite 50 of their social media followers to a two-day NASA Social April 29-30 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The event is expected to culminate in the launch of SpaceX's second Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) demonstration flight. SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket is targeted to lift off at 12:22 p.m. EDT on April 30, in an attempt to become the first commercial company to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station.

Registration opens at noon EDT Thursday, April 5, and closes at noon Friday, April 6. Fifty participants will be selected from online registrations.

For more information on NASA Social and to register, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/social

A NASA Social is an event for people who use NASA's social media accounts. For this event, fans and followers on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ are eligible to register. Participants will have unique in-person experiences with SpaceX and NASA, which they are encouraged to share with others through their favorite social network. Guests will view the launch, tour NASA facilities at Kennedy, speak with representatives from both organizations, view the SpaceX launch pad, meet fellow space enthusiasts who are active on social media, and meet members of SpaceX and NASA's social media teams.

SpaceX will launch its Dragon spacecraft atop its Falcon 9 launch vehicle to test and prove its systems for a rendezvous with the space station. The flight's objectives include a fly-under of the station to validate operation of sensors and flight systems necessary for a safe rendezvous, berthing to the station and returning the Dragon spacecraft to Earth.

Because portions of this event may take place in restricted areas, registration is limited to U.S. citizens.

Since 2006, NASA's COTS program has invested financial and technical resources to stimulate private sector efforts to develop and demonstrate safe, reliable and cost-effective space transportation capabilities. In a multi-phase strategy, the program spurs the innovation and development of new spacecraft and launch vehicles from commercial industry to create a new system of delivering cargo to low-Earth orbit and the space station.

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

To find all the ways to connect and collaborate with NASA, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/connect

To follow SpaceX on Twitter, visit: http://www.twitter.com/SpaceX

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

For more information about SpaceX or the Dragon spacecraft, visit: http://www.spacex.com


Feb. 10, 2012

NASA HOSTS EVENTS TO CELEBRATE 50 YEARS OF AMERICANS IN ORBIT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- In celebration of 50 years of Americans in orbit, NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida will host several events Feb. 17 and 18 that will air live on NASA Television.

On Feb. 17 at 10 a.m. EST, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana will host an employee presentation on NASA TV with the first two Americans to orbit Earth, Mercury astronauts John Glenn and Scott Carpenter. On Feb. 20, 1962, Glenn piloted his Friendship 7 spacecraft on the first U.S. orbital mission. Three months later, on May 24, Carpenter became the second American in orbit.

At 3 p.m., NASA TV will air a news conference with Glenn and Carpenter. The event will take place at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in the Mercury Mission Control exhibit.

On Feb. 18 at 6:30 p.m., Glenn and Carpenter will participate in a ceremony at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex honoring all who made NASA's Project Mercury possible. The "On the Shoulders of Giants" program will include remarks from Cabana, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and astronaut Steve Robinson, who flew with Glenn on his second trip into orbit on shuttle Discovery's STS-95 mission in 1998.

Highlights from the Feb. 17 and 18 events will air on NASA TV's Video File. For NASA TV 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 For more information about NASA's Project Mercury, visit: http://go.usa.gov/QIM


Feb. 7, 2012

NASA CALLS FOR NEW COMMERCIAL CREW PROPOSALS

WASHINGTON -- As part of NASA's ongoing efforts to foster development of a U.S. commercial crew space transportation capability to and from low Earth orbit and the International Space Station, NASA has issued a call for industry to submit proposals for the Commercial Crew Integrated Capability Initiative.

It's expected that proposals will lead to Space Act Agreements that will help NASA and the U.S. achieve safe, reliable, and cost effective human access to space. NASA expects to make multiple awards this summer, with values ranging from $300 - $500 million.

To provide industry a better understanding of this initiative so that they may provide more comprehensive proposals, NASA plans a pre-proposal conference on Feb. 14, at the Courtyard Marriott in Cocoa Beach, Fla. Proposals are due March 23.

"President Obama is working hard to create an American economy built to last," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "NASA's support of commercial innovation to reach low Earth orbit is helping to support these efforts by spurring new technological development and creating jobs and economic benefits for years to come."

NASA's announcement asks industry to propose a base period of approximately 21 months, running from award through May 2014. The goals of the base period include completing the design of a fully integrated commercial crew transportation system, which consists of the spacecraft, launch vehicle, ground operations, and mission control. In addition, NASA is asking for the proposals to contain optional milestones beyond the base period leading to and culminating in a crewed orbital demonstration flight.

For more information on the announcement and pre-proposal conference, visit: http://commercialcrew.nasa.gov/index.cfm

For more information about NASA's commercial exploration program, visit: www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew


Feb. 2, 2012

NASA'S COMMERCIAL CREW PARTNER SIERRA NEVADA DELIVERS FLIGHT TEST VEHICLE STRUCTURE

LOUISVILLE, Colo. -- One of NASA's industry partners, Sierra Nevada Corp. (SNC), recently delivered the primary structure of its first Dream Chaser flight test vehicle to the company's facility in Louisville, Colo., where it will be assembled and integrated with secondary systems. This is one of 12 milestones to be completed under SNC's funded Space Act Agreement (SAA) with NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP).

"It's rewarding to see our partner's ideas and concepts come to fruition," said CCP Program Manager Ed Mango. "The company's delivery of its flight structure will allow them to make more strides toward launching NASA astronauts on American vehicles to the International Space Station."

The Dream Chaser flight test vehicle, a full-scale prototype of the company's planned winged spacecraft, will be used to carry out several remaining NASA Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2) milestones, including a captive carry flight and the first free flight of the craft.

"SNC is proud to have met its schedule and cost targets in the delivery of our first flight structure as we continue to make preparations for our vehicle's first full-scale flight," said Mark Sirangelo, head of Sierra Nevada Space Systems. "The Dream Chaser Program is making great strides toward developing a safe and cost-effective space system that will provide our country with the capability to safely transport crew and critical cargo to and from the International Space Station."

The all-composite structure was designed by the SNC team and built in conjunction with SNC Dream Chaser team organizations AdamWorks of Centennial, Colo., Applied Composite Technology of Gunnison, Utah, and Scaled Composites of Mojave, Calif.

"Our team now includes more than a dozen heritage space companies and seven NASA centers whose combined strength has continued to allow us to exceed the program's expectations," said Jim Voss, SNC's vice president for Space Exploration. Voss is a former space shuttle astronaut and was a member of the second crew to live aboard the International Space Station.

Dream Chaser's CCDev2 flight tests will be conducted with the assistance of NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif., under a Reimbursable Space Act Agreement (RSAA). During the captive carry test, a Virgin Galactic While Knight 2 carrier aircraft will drop the Dream Chaser flight test vehicle to measure its performance. SNC flight operations will be managed by the program's Director of Flight Operations Steve Lindsey, who joined the Dream Chaser team in 2011. Lindsey is a veteran of five shuttle missions and was chief of NASA's Astronaut Office from 2008 until his retirement from the agency in 2011.

All of NASA's industry partners continue to meet their established milestones in developing commercial crew transportation capabilities that will ferry U.S. astronauts to and from the International Space Station, reducing the amount of time America is without its own system.

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


Jan. 25, 2012

NASA'S NUSTAR SHIPS TO VANDENBERG FOR MARCH 14 LAUNCH

PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, shipped to Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., on Tuesday, to be mated to its Pegasus launch vehicle. The observatory will detect X-rays from objects ranging from our sun to giant black holes billions of light-years away. It is scheduled to launch March 14 from an aircraft operating out of Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

"The NuSTAR mission is unique because it will be the first NASA mission to focus X-rays in the high-energy range, creating the most detailed images ever taken in this slice of the electromagnetic spectrum," said Fiona Harrison, the mission's principal investigator at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif.

The observatory shipped from Orbital Sciences Corporation in Dulles, Va., where the spacecraft and science instrument were integrated. It is scheduled to arrive at Vandenberg on Jan. 27, where it will be mated to the Pegasus, also built by Orbital, on Feb. 17.

The mission will be launched from the L-1011 "Stargazer" aircraft, which will take off near the equator from Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific. NuSTAR and its Pegasus will fly from Vandenberg to Kwajalein attached to the underside of the L-1011, and are scheduled to arrive on March 7.

On launch day, after the airplane arrives at the planned drop site over the ocean, the Pegaus will drop from the L-1011 and carry NuSTAR to an orbit around Earth.

"NuSTAR is an engineering achievement, incorporating state-of-the-art high-energy X-ray mirrors and detectors that will enable years of astronomical discovery," said Yunjin Kim, the mission's project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

NuSTAR's advanced telescope consists of two sets of 133 concentric shells of mirrors, which were shaped from flexible glass similar to that found in laptop screens. Because X-rays require large focusing distances, or focal lengths, the telescope has a lengthy 33-foot (10-meter) mast, which will unfold a week after launch.

These and other advances in technology will enable NuSTAR to explore the cosmic world of high-energy X-rays with much improved sensitivity and resolution over previous missions. During its two-year primary mission, NuSTAR will map the celestial sky in X-rays, surveying black holes, mapping supernova remnants, and studying particle jets travelling away from black holes near the speed of light.

NuSTAR also will probe the sun, looking for microflares theorized to be on the surface that could explain how the sun's million-degree corona, or atmosphere, is heated. It will even test a theory of dark matter, the mysterious substance making up about one-quarter of our universe, by searching the sun for evidence of a hypothesized dark matter particle.

"NuSTAR will provide an unprecedented capability to discover and study some of the most exotic objects in the universe, from the corpses of exploded stars in the Milky Way to supermassive black holes residing in the hearts of distant galaxies," said Lou Kaluzienski, NuSTAR program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

NuSTAR is a small-explorer mission managed by JPL for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. The spacecraft was built by Orbital Sciences Corporation. Its instrument was built by a consortium including Caltech, JPL, Columbia University, New York, N.Y., NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., the Danish Technical University in Denmark, the University of California, Berkeley, and ATK-Goleta. NuSTAR will be operated by U.C. Berkeley, with the Italian Space Agency providing its equatorial ground station located at Malindi, Kenya. NASA's Explorer Program is managed by Goddard. JPL is managed by Caltech for NASA.

For more information, visit www.nasa.gov/nustar and www.nustar.caltech.edu.


Jan. 12, 2012

NASA MOVES SHUTTLE ENGINES FROM KENNEDY TO STENNIS

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- The relocation of the RS-25D space shuttle main engine inventory from Kennedy Space Center's Engine Shop in Cape Canaveral, Fla., is under way. The RS-25D flight engines, repurposed for NASA's Space Launch System, are being moved to NASA's Stennis Space Center in south Mississippi.

The Space Launch System (SLS) is a new heavy-lift launch vehicle that will expand human presence beyond low Earth orbit and enable new missions of exploration across the solar system. The Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., is leading the design and development of the SLS for NASA, including the engine testing program. SLS will carry the Orion spacecraft, its crew, cargo, equipment and science experiments to destinations in deep space.

"The relocation of RS-25D engine assets represents a significant cost savings to the SLS Program by consolidating SLS engine assembly and test operations at a single facility," said William Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.

The RS-25Ds -- to be used for the SLS core stage -- will be stored at Stennis until testing begins at a future date. Testing is already under way on the J-2X engine, which is planned for use in the SLS upper stage. Using the same fuel system -- liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen -- for both core and upper stages reduces costs by leveraging the existing knowledge base, skills, infrastructure and personnel.

"This enables the sharing of personnel, resources and practices across all engine projects, allows flexibility and responsiveness to the SLS program, and it is more affordable," said Johnny Heflin, RS-25D core stage engine lead in the SLS Liquid Engines Office at Marshall. "It also frees up the space, allowing Kennedy to move forward relative to commercial customers."

The 15 RS-25D engines at Kennedy are being transported on the 700-mile journey using existing transportation and processing procedures that were used to move engines between Kennedy and Stennis during the Space Shuttle Program. They will be relocated one at time by truck.

Built by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne of Canoga Park, Calif., the RS-25D engine powered NASA's Space Shuttle Program with 100 percent mission success.

For more information about SLS, visit: www.nasa.gov/sls


Jan. 10, 2012

NASA AWARDS LAUNCH SERVICES PROGRAM SUPPORT CONTRACT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA has selected a.i. solutions Inc. of Lanham, Md., to receive a contract award that will enable the agency's Launch Services Program (LSP) to provide integrated services for the preparation and launch of NASA's next generation of scientific and exploration spacecraft.

The Expendable Launch Vehicle Integrated Support 2 (ELVIS 2) contract has a potential maximum value of $138.1 million. This new contract resulted from a competitive, small business set-aside.

The contract has a two-month phase-in period that begins February 2012, followed by a one-and-a-half-year base period extending from April 1, 2012, through Sept. 30, 2013. Two option periods are available that would bring the total period of performance to five years.

The ELVIS 2 contract supports 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 contract will provide LSP with program management support; vehicle engineering and analysis; launch site support engineering; communications and telemetry; technical integration services; LSP programmatic safety, reliability and quality support; support at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California; information technology support; and special studies.

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


STS 115 Atlantis launch 9/9/06


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2011

Dec. 22, 2011

NASA KENNEDY SPACE CENTER 2011 REVIEW, LOOK AHEAD

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- In 2011, NASA's Kennedy Space Center helped launch a new era in space exploration, building on the final three missions of the Space Shuttle Program era.

Kennedy began transitioning from a historically government-only launch facility, which supported shuttle missions and construction of the International Space Station, to a multi-purpose spaceport, supporting research and development aboard the space station and serving different types of missions, rockets, and spacecraft, both governmental and commercial.

As NASA's prime launch complex responsible for sending humans and payloads to space, Kennedy teams were involved in launching nine missions this year: six on expendable launch vehicles and the last three space shuttle flights ever.

The first of the final three shuttle flights started on Feb. 24 with Discovery's STS-133 mission roaring off Launch Pad 39A. The shuttle and its six astronauts delivered to the International Space Station the last pressurized U.S. segment called the Permanent Multipurpose Module. Discovery, the longest-serving veteran of NASA's space shuttle fleet, landed at Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility on March 9, completing a total of 39 missions since 1984.

Space shuttle Endeavour's final flight, the STS-134 mission, originally was scheduled to launch in late April. It was a high-profile launch, not only because it was the second to last shuttle mission, but because the wife of Endeavour Commander Mark Kelly, Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords, and President Obama and the first family were in attendance. But an electrical wiring issue kept Endeavour on Launch Pad 39A until May 16, when the shuttle and its six-astronaut crew lifted off to deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-2 (AMS) and critical supplies to the space station. NASA's youngest shuttle returned to Kennedy on June 1, completing its 25th and final mission.

The last space shuttle flight, Atlantis' STS-135 mission, launched from Launch Pad 39A at 11:29 a.m. EDT on July 8 carrying the Raffaello multi-purpose logistics module full of supplies, experiments and key spare parts for the space station. On July 21 at 5:57 a.m., Atlantis touched down at Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility, concluding 30 years of storied space shuttle missions. The Space Shuttle Program officially ended on Aug. 30.

And instead of preparing shuttles for space flights, technicians now are preparing them for public display. On April 12, the 30th anniversary of the first shuttle launch, NASA announced where the shuttles would be displayed: In 2012, NASA will deliver shuttle Discovery to the Smithsonian in Virginia; test shuttle Enterprise to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York; and shuttle Endeavour to the California Science Center in Los Angeles. In early 2013, Atlantis, which is the only space shuttle NASA is retaining, will go to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

NASA's Launch Services Program (LSP), which is based at Kennedy, had a rough start to its launch year. The Glory spacecraft failed to reach orbit after liftoff aboard an Orbital Sciences' Taurus XL rocket on March 4 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. A mishap board is investigating the failure; however, telemetry indicated the fairing, a protective shell atop the satellite's rocket, did not separate as expected. Glory was intended to improve scientists' understanding of how the sun and tiny atmospheric particles called aerosols affect Earth's climate.

On June 10, LSP was back on track with the launch of NASA's Aquarius/SAC-D observatory aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket. The international satellite lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base carrying the agency-built Aquarius instrument that will measure the saltiness of Earth's oceans to advance our understanding of the global water cycle in order to improve climate forecasts.

LSP turned its attention to deep space with its next launch. On Aug. 5, NASA's Juno spacecraft launched atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., bound for Jupiter. After its five-year flight, Juno will look deep beneath the planet's swirling curtain of clouds to find out what lies beneath.

A United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket successfully sent NASA's twin moon-bound Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft on their way on Sept. 10. After arriving next week on New Year's weekend, the two solar-powered spacecraft will fly in tandem orbits around the moon to measure its gravity field and answer longstanding questions about the moon and how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system formed.

On Oct. 28, a Delta II rocket sent the NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP) spacecraft into Earth orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base. NPP is the first NASA satellite mission to address the challenge of acquiring a wide range of land, ocean and atmospheric measurements for Earth system science while simultaneously preparing to address operational requirements for weather forecasting.

LSP ended its 2011 launch schedule by sending the most sophisticated robotic explorer ever built to another planet. On Nov. 26, an Atlas V rocket launched NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), which carries a car-sized rover named Curiosity, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Curiosity is scheduled to arrive at Mars in August 2012 and begin two years of study with its 10 science instruments to search for evidence about whether the Red Planet has had environments favorable for microbial life, including the chemical ingredients for life. The unique rover will use a laser to look inside rocks and release the gasses so that its spectrometer can analyze and send the data back to Earth.

While many Kennedy personnel were busy launching spacecraft and rockets in 2011, others were working on preparing to launch new spacecraft and rockets in the future. And with those new launch systems, new jobs will come to the Space Coast. On Sept. 14, NASA announced it had selected the design of a new Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift rocket that will send the agency's astronauts farther into space than ever before, such as asteroids and Mars, and provide the cornerstone for America's future human space exploration efforts. The SLS with NASA's new Orion spacecraft, which already is under development, on top is set to lift off from Kennedy's Launch Pad 39B in 2017.

Deconstruction of pad 39B from being a space shuttle pad was completed in August, and now is being prepared for SLS and Orion and possibly commercial rockets and spacecraft. As part of that, a new comprehensive weather instrumentation system was installed there in April providing up-to-the-second and extremely accurate measurements at several locations and altitudes. The improvements are expected to produce increasingly detailed launch criteria that could lead to more on-time liftoffs for a variety of rockets in the future.

SLS and Orion programs plan to use NASA's new mobile launcher (ML) to help start their voyages into deep space. Initial construction of the 355-foot-tall launch tower was completed in 2010. A year later, teams used a crawler-transporter to move the ML to Launch Pad 39B for two weeks of engineering tests in November. The data will help with the ML modifications needed to support the SLS and Orion.

As NASA's deep space human exploration program was taking shape in 2011, the parallel path of using commercial companies to bring cargo and then astronauts to the International Space Station also started picking up steam. NASA's new Commercial Crew Program (CCP) hit the ground running this year with the goal of assisting in the development of a United States-led commercial space system aiming to launch astronauts to the station and other future low Earth orbit destinations by about the middle of the decade. CCP is primarily based at Kennedy, which is a first for the center in NASA's human spaceflight programs.

CCP has had a busy inaugural year. In April, NASA awarded approximately $270 million to four commercial companies to continue development of commercial rockets and spacecraft in the second phase of its Commercial Crew Development effort, known as CCDev2.

Also during the course of the year, CCP signed unfunded Space Act Agreements with three other companies under CCDev2. NASA will review and provide expert feedback to those companies on overall concepts and designs, systems requirements, launch vehicle compatibility, testing and integration plans, and operational and facilities plans.

In the last several years leading up to the Space Shuttle Program's retirement, Kennedy management has emphasized that partnering is the key to the center's future. In 2011, Kennedy's Center Planning and Development Office was involved in discussions on about 80 agreements, many of which are partnerships with commercial companies. For example, in July, NASA and Sierra Nevada Corp., a CCDev2 company, entered into a Space Act Agreement that will offer the company technical capabilities from Kennedy's uniquely skilled work force. In August, a non-reimbursable umbrella agreement was signed between NASA and K.T. Engineering that aims to help the agency acquire the knowledge necessary to develop a multi-user ground system architecture for launching nontraditional, low-cost vehicles. And in October, NASA announced a partnership with Space Florida to occupy, use and modify Kennedy's Orbiter Processing Facility-3 (OPF-3), the Space Shuttle Main Engine Processing Facility and Processing Control Center. Space Florida, the aerospace economic development agency of the state of Florida, is leasing OPF-3 to The Boeing Company to manufacture and test the company's Crew Space Transportation (CST-100) spacecraft. In addition, Boeing, which also is a CCDev2 company, announced it is basing its Commercial Crew Program headquarters at Kennedy.

Even with U.S. construction of the International Space Station complete, support for the orbiting facility from Kennedy received a boost on Sept. 9. The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) was awarded management of the portion of the station that is operated as a U.S. national laboratory. CASIS will base its efforts at the Space Life Sciences Laboratory at Kennedy and help ensure the station's unique capabilities are made available to the broadest possible cross-section of U.S. scientific, technological and industrial communities.

In August, Kennedy formed the Ground Processing Directorate to support operations management, as well as strategies and techniques to launch a variety of rockets and spacecraft from Kennedy in the future. Ground Processing represents Kennedy's efforts to become less program-centric and more capability-centric to provide technical services to diverse government and non-government customers.

Cooperation and partnerships were key themes discussed on Oct. 19 when Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll and cabinet members toured Kennedy's Operations and Checkout Building, where final assembly of NASA's Orion spacecraft will take place. Gov. Scott expressed a desire to find new projects and initiatives in the coming years in which Florida and NASA could work together.

Kennedy also continued expanding its green efforts in 2011. In January, the center unveiled its newest environmentally friendly building, the Propellants North Administrative and Maintenance Facility. Propellants North qualified for the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, Platinum status, which is the highest of green building certifications. As expected, throughout the year the facility produced more of its own energy that it used.

In November, Kennedy also hosted the third forum in the LAUNCH initiative, which is designed to identify and support innovative work that will contribute to a sustainable future. Like the two previous forums, which also were held at Kennedy, NASA along with the other founder partners, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. State Department and Nike, brought experts together to focus on a sustainability topic. In this year's case, it was "energy."

On May 5, more than 200 workers from the original Mercury Program joined NASA senior management on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for a re-creation of Alan Shepard's flight and recovery to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first U.S. manned spaceflight.

And in the summer of 2012, NASA's Kennedy Space Center will celebrate its own 50th anniversary. As the United States begins this new approach to human spaceflight, using commercial and government methods of exploring space, Kennedy aims to continue to play an integral role in NASA's and America's scientific research and discoveries for the next half century and beyond.

For more information about NASA's Kennedy Space Center and the missions and programs it supports, visit: www.nasa.gov/kennedy


Dec. 16, 2011

FOURTH STATUS REPORT ON COMMERCIAL PARTNERS PROGRESS RELEASED

WASHINGTON -- NASA released the fourth in a series of 60-day reports today showing that commercial spaceflight development programs are moving forward. The agency's U.S. industry partners continue to make progress in developing a transportation system to ferry cargo and U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station. The development of industry systems will allow NASA to concentrate its resources on deep space exploration.

The latest status report highlights the progress and accomplishments for the agency's commercial spaceflight development efforts. The bi-monthly report is targeted toward non-technical stakeholders and the American public, to inform them of NASA's achievements in maintaining spaceflight leadership.

NASA's Commercial Spaceflight Development programs are investing financial and technical resources to stimulate efforts within the private sector to develop and demonstrate safe, reliable, and cost-effective space transportation capabilities.

For the report and more information visit: www.nasa.gov/exploration/commercial/


Dec. 15, 2011

NASA TAKES NEXT STEP IN DEVELOPING COMMERCIAL CREW PROGRAM

Competitive Agreements Will Keep U.S. Commercial Space Program on Track

WASHINGTON -- NASA announced today a modified competitive procurement strategy to keep on track the agency's plan to have U.S. companies transport American astronauts into space instead of outsourcing this work to foreign governments.

Instead of awarding contracts for the next phase of the Commercial Crew Program, the agency plans to use multiple, competitively awarded Space Act Agreements. Using competitive Space Act Agreements instead of contracts will allow NASA to maintain a larger number of partners during this phase of the program, with the flexibility to adjust technical direction, milestones and funding.

This flexibility is important during a period of high budget uncertainty when NASA is receiving less funding than President Obama requested for the agency's commercial space program.

"NASA is committed to ensuring that U.S. companies are sending American astronauts into space," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "This new acquisition strategy will allow us to preserve competition as we maintain our momentum to provide a U.S.-based commercial crew launch capability at the earliest possible time."

This competitive Space Act solicitation is separate from the work being carried out under existing Space Act Agreements. The new competition will focus on an overall system design rather than single technology activities. Details on the new competition will be available in January.

The announcement for proposals is expected in the first quarter of 2012. These competitively awarded Space Acts will be followed by a competitively awarded contract for the certification phase. The certification phase will ensure that the designs fully meet the safety and performance requirements for NASA utilization.

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


Dec. 9, 2011

NASA ANNOUNCES LAUNCH DATE AND MILESTONES FOR SPACEX FLIGHT

WASHINGTON -- NASA has announced the launch target for Space Exploration Technologies' (SpaceX) second Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) demonstration flight will be Feb. 7, 2012. Pending completion of final safety reviews, testing and verification, NASA also has agreed to allow SpaceX to send its Dragon spacecraft to rendezvous with the International Space Station (ISS) in a single flight.

"SpaceX has made incredible progress over the last several months preparing Dragon for its mission to the space station," said William Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. "We look forward to a successful mission, which will open up a new era in commercial cargo delivery for this international orbiting laboratory."

Gerstenmaier said, "There is still a significant amount of critical work to be completed before launch, but the teams have a sound plan to complete it and are prepared for unexpected challenges. As with all launches, we will adjust the launch date as needed to gain sufficient understanding of test and analysis results to ensure safety and mission success."

During the flight, Dragon will conduct a series of check-out procedures that will test and prove its systems in advance of the rendezvous with the station. The primary objectives for the flight include a fly-by of the space station at a distance of approximately two miles to validate the operation of sensors and flight systems necessary for a safe rendezvous and approach. The spacecraft also will demonstrate the capability to abort the rendezvous, if required.

Dragon will perform the final approach to the ISS while the station crew grapples the vehicle with the station's robotic arm. The capsule will be berthed to the Earth-facing side of the Harmony node. At the end of the mission, the crew will reverse the process, detaching Dragon from the station for its return to Earth and splashdown in the Pacific off the coast of California. If the rendezvous and attachment to the station are not successful, SpaceX will complete a third demonstration flight in order to achieve these objectives as originally planned.

"SpaceX is on the forefront of demonstrating how a partnership between the government and private industry can lead to new capabilities and provide a large return on investment," said Alan Lindenmoyer, program manager for COTS at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

"SpaceX is excited to be the first commercial company in history to berth with the International Space Station. This mission will mark a historic milestone in the future of spaceflight," said SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell. "We appreciate NASA's continued support and their partnership in this process."

Begun in 2006, NASA's COTS program is investing financial and technical resources to stimulate efforts within the private sector to develop and demonstrate safe, reliable and cost-effective space transportation capabilities. In a multiphase strategy, the program is spurring the innovation and development of new spacecraft and launch vehicles from commercial industry, creating a new system of delivering cargo to low-Earth orbit and the International Space Station.

Through Space Act Agreements, SpaceX will receive up to $396 million and Orbital Sciences Corp., NASA's other COTS partner, will receive up to $288 million for the successful completion of all milestones in the agreements. To date, SpaceX has received $376 million for completing 36 out of 40 milestones and Orbital has received $261.5 million for completing 23 out of 29 milestones.

For more information on COTS, visit: www. nasa. gov/cots

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

For more information on SpaceX or the Dragon spacecraft, visit: www. spacex. com


Curiosity - The next Mars Rover November 26, 2011

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 live. 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 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: http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/ .

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltechphoto


Nov. 26, 2011

NASA LAUNCHES MOST CAPABLE AND ROBUST ROVER TO EXPLORE MARS

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA began a historic voyage to Mars with the Nov. 26 launch of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), which carries a car-sized rover named Curiosity. Liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station aboard an Atlas V rocket occurred at 10:02 a. m. EST.

Launch of Curiosity to Mars "We are very excited about sending the world's most advanced scientific laboratory to Mars," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "MSL will tell us critical things we need to know about Mars, and while it advances science, we'll be working on the capabilities for a human mission to the Red Planet and to other destinations where we've never been."

The mission will pioneer precision landing technology and a sky-crane touchdown to place Curiosity near the foot of a mountain inside Gale Crater on Aug. 6, 2012. During a nearly two-year prime mission after landing, the rover will investigate whether the region has ever offered conditions favorable for microbial life, including the chemical ingredients for life.

"The launch vehicle has given us a great injection into our trajectory, and we're on our way to Mars," said MSL Project Manager Peter Theisinger of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. "The spacecraft is in communication, thermally stable and power positive."

The Atlas V initially lofted the spacecraft into Earth orbit and then, with a second burst from the vehicle's upper stage, pushed it out of Earth orbit into a 352-million-mile (567-million-kilometer) journey to Mars.

"Our first trajectory correction maneuver will be in about two weeks," Theisinger said. "We'll do instrument checkouts in the next several weeks and continue with thorough preparations for the landing on Mars and operations on the surface."

Curiosity's ambitious science goals are among the mission's many differences from earlier Mars rovers. It 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. Curiosity carries 10 science instruments with a total mass 15 times as large as the science-instrument 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 rocks' elemental composition from a distance, and an X-ray diffraction instrument for definitive identification of minerals in powdered samples.

To haul and wield its science payload, Curiosity is twice as long and five times as heavy as Spirit or Opportunity. Because of its one-ton mass, Curiosity is too heavy to employ airbags to cushion its landing as previous Mars rovers could. Part of the MSL spacecraft is a rocket-powered descent stage that will lower the rover on tethers as the rocket engines control the speed of descent.

The mission's landing site offers Curiosity access for driving to layers of the mountain inside Gale Crater. Observations from orbit have identified clay and sulfate minerals in the lower layers, indicating a wet history.

Precision landing maneuvers as the spacecraft flies through the Martian atmosphere before opening its parachute make Gale a safe target for the first time. This innovation shrinks the target area to less than one-fourth the size of earlier Mars landing targets. Without it, rough terrain at the edges of Curiosity's target would make the site unacceptably hazardous.

The innovations for landing a heavier spacecraft with greater precision are steps in technology development for human Mars missions. In addition, Curiosity carries an instrument for monitoring the natural radiation environment on Mars, important information for designing human Mars missions that protect astronauts' health.

The mission is managed by JPL for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The rover was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. NASA's Launch Services Program at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida managed the launch. NASA's Space Network provided space communication services for the launch vehicle. NASA's Deep Space Network will provide spacecraft acquisition and mission communication.

For more information about the mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/msl

For more information about the Deep Space Network, visit: http://deepspace.jpl.nasa.gov/dsn


Nov. 25, 2011

NASA ADMINISTRATOR TOURS COMPANY ASSISTING WITH MARS ROVER LAUNCH

Highlights Local Firm on Eve of Small Business Saturday

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA Administrator Charles Bolden toured Kegman Inc. of Melbourne, Fla., one company that supplied technology and engineering support to the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Curiosity rover.

Bolden's tour of Kegman coincided with the Second Annual Small Business Saturday, a day to support the local small businesses that create jobs, boost the economy and preserve neighborhoods around the country.

"On Saturday, NASA will be launching our most sophisticated science laboratory to date, the Mars Science Laboratory, and the work of dozens of small businesses helped make this happen," Bolden said. "Even in a project as expansive and with dramatic long-range impact, small businesses like Kegman and nearly two dozen other small businesses around the nation are playing a large role."

Kegman Inc. is an economically disadvantaged, woman-owned, veteran-owned small business. It monitors and analyzes the wind impact during launch preparations.

The data is used by the mission's weather officer to determine whether conditions are right to launch the Curiosity rover. The $2.5 billion laboratory will study past and present potentially habitable environments on Mars after it lands on the planet in August 2012.

NASA officials estimate more than 40 American companies, universities and organizations with over 5,000 workers in 31 states and nine countries contributed to the development and construction of Curiosity. Of those companies, at least two dozen are small businesses.

"Curiosity's mission is to get Mars to give up its secrets," Bolden said. "But we can't get Mars to talk without the contributions of companies like Kegman who contribute technology, innovation, component parts and know-how to the project."

For more information about the Mars Science Laboratory launch and mission, visit: www.nasa.gov/msl

For more information about Small Business Saturday, visit: www.smallbusinesssaturday.com


Nov. 22, 2011

NASA INVITES PUBLIC TO LEARN AND SEE SCIENTISTS IN ACTION ONLINE

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Space enthusiasts are invited to view and participate in interactive webcasts starting this Wednesday through Saturday featuring a variety of NASA officials, scientists, engineers and educators discussing their work and aspirations about the agency's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Curiosity rover mission.

The webcasts, originating from the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Fla., are scheduled to begin at noon to 5 p.m. EST, Wednesday, Nov. 23; 1 to 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 25; 8:30 a.m. to launch and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 26.

MSL is scheduled to lift off at 10:02 a.m. on Nov. 26 from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.

To view and participate in the live chats, visit: www.livestream.com/marsrover

The webcasts are part of a NASA partnership with the National Institute of Aerospace, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (DMNS), and the Virginia Air and Space Center that is hosting the live, interactive Web-based broadcasts from NASA's Kennedy Space Center. The webcasts complement the "Year of the Solar System" supported by NASA's Planetary Science Division, Washington, and the "Scientists in Action" distance-learning program at DMNS. The goal of the webcasts is to bring students and the general public together directly with scientists and engineers passionate about their scientific missions in a real-time, engaging way.

For information of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission, visit: www.nasa.gov/msl


Nov. 8, 2011

NASA PROPOSES ORION SPACECRAFT TEST FLIGHT IN 2014

Agency Moves to Implement Deep Space Exploration Plan

WASHINGTON -- NASA plans to add an unmanned flight test of the Orion spacecraft in early 2014 to its contract with Lockheed Martin Space Systems for the multi-purpose crew vehicle's design, development, test and evaluation. This test supports the new Space Launch System (SLS) that will take astronauts farther into space than ever before, create U. S. jobs, and provide the cornerstone for America's future human spaceflight efforts.

"President Obama and Congress have laid out an ambitious space exploration plan, and NASA is moving out quickly to implement it," NASA Associate Administrator for Communications David Weaver said. "This flight test will provide invaluable data to support the deep space exploration missions this nation is embarking upon."

This Exploration Flight Test, or EFT-1, will fly two orbits to a high-apogee, with a high-energy re-entry through Earth's atmosphere. Orion will make a water landing and be recovered using operations planned for future human exploration missions. The test mission will be launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla., to acquire critical re-entry flight performance data and demonstrate early integration capabilities that benefit the Orion, SLS, and 21st Century Ground Systems programs. The agency has posted a synopsis explaining its intention on NASA's procurement website.

"The entry part of the test will produce data needed to develop a spacecraft capable of surviving speeds greater than 20,000 mph and safely return astronauts from beyond Earth orbit," Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations William Gerstenmaier said. "This test is very important to the detailed design process in terms of the data we expect to receive."

NASA also intends to release several competitive solicitations to industry in the near future. One solicitation will request proposals for the design, development, test and evaluation of a new advanced liquid or solid booster capability for the SLS. Another future contract NASA intends to compete will be for the development of spacecraft, and payload adaptors and fairings for crew and cargo missions. The competition and award dates for these will be determined as missions are identified.

NASA is developing the Orion spacecraft to launch astronauts to asteroids, the moon, Mars and other destinations atop SLS, the agency's new heavy launch vehicle. An early orbital flight test such as EFT-1 will provide data needed to influence design decisions and serve as a pathfinder to validate innovative new approaches to space systems development. The goal is to reduce the cost and schedule risks of exploration missions.

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

The synopsis of contract action is available at: http://prod.nais.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/nais/index.cgi


Oct. 31, 2011

NASA SIGNS AGREEMENT WITH SPACE FLORIDA TO REUSE KENNEDY FACILITIES

Boeing to Build Commercial Spacecraft at Kennedy, Create 550 Jobs

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- In an innovative agreement that will create new jobs, NASA today announced a partnership with Space Florida to exclusively occupy, use and modify Kennedy Space Center's Orbiter Processing Facility-3, the Space Shuttle Main Engine Processing Facility and Processing Control Center.

"The next era of space exploration won't wait, and so we can't wait for Congress to do its job and give our space program the funding it needs. That's why my Administration will be pressing forward, in partnership with Space Florida and the private sector, to create jobs and make sure America continues to lead the world in exploration and discovery," President Barack Obama said.

Space Florida, the aerospace economic development agency of the state of Florida, is leasing the Orbiter Processing Facility-3 to the Boeing Company to manufacture and test the company's Crew Space Transportation (CST-100) spacecraft, creating up to 550 jobs along the Space Coast. The 15-year use permit deal is the latest step Kennedy is making as the center transitions from a historically government-only launch complex to a multi-user spaceport.

"Neither NASA nor the Space Coast can afford to stand still. We must be aggressive in pursuing this next generation of space exploration -- and the jobs and innovation that will accompany it," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said.

"Kennedy continues working to bring new commercial space activities to the center," said Kennedy Center Director Bob Cabana. "Partnering with Space Florida to enable commercial space operations at Kennedy will help NASA maintain facilities and assets while supporting our nation's space objectives and expanding opportunities for the U. S. economy." In addition to the agreement Boeing is signing with Space Florida to reuse existing KSC facilities, the aerospace company announced it is locating it Commercial Crew Program headquarters at the center.

"We are extremely pleased that Boeing will locate its commercial crew headquarters here in Florida," said Frank DiBello, president of Space Florida. "This positions our state well for future growth and a leadership role in NASA's next-generation human space exploration initiatives. It is also a key factor in ensuring Florida's space-related economy continues to thrive."

The goal of NASA's Commercial Crew Program is to facilitate the development of a U. S. commercial crew space transportation capability by achieving safe, reliable and cost-effective access to and from the International Space Station and future low Earth orbit destinations.

"We selected Florida for the commercial crew headquarters because of its close proximity to not only our NASA customer at Kennedy Space Center, but also because of outstanding facilities and an experienced space workforce," said John Elbon, vice president and program manager of Boeing's Commercial Crew Programs.

Boeing is developing the CST-100, a reusable capsule-shaped spacecraft that will consist of a crew module and service module for transporting up to seven people, or a combination of people and cargo to space.

For information about Space Florida, visit: www.spaceflorida.gov

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

For more information about NASA's commercial transportation programs, visit: www.nasa.gov/exploration/commercial/index.html


Oct. 28, 2011

NASA TO ANNOUNCE NEW AGREEMENT FOR KENNEDY FACILITIES MONDAY

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- There will be a major announcement of a new partnership between NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida and an outside organization that open NASA's facilities to U. S. commercial space launch service providers, create jobs and help American companies regain leadership in the global space economy. The announcement will take place on Monday, Oct. 31, at 10 a. m. EDT at NASA Kennedy's Orbiter Processing Facility-3 and will be carried live on NASA television.

The new partnership was developed following a Notice of Availability NASA issued in January. The notice was used to identify interest from industry for space processing and support facilities at Kennedy. These facilities have become available for space-related commercial use following the end of the Space Shuttle Program.

Audio of the teleconference also will be streamed over the Internet from NASA's website at: www.nasa.gov/newsaudio

For NASA TV downlink information, Video File schedules and links to streaming video, visit: www.nasa.gov/ntv

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


Oct. 28, 2011

NASA LAUNCHES MULTI-TALENTED EARTH-OBSERVING SATELLITE

WASHINGTON -- NASA's newest Earth-observing satellite soared into space early today aboard a Delta II rocket after liftoff at 5:48 a. m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

NASA's National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System Preparatory Project, or NPP, successfully separated from the Delta II 58 minutes after launch, and the first signal was acquired by the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System. NPP's solar array deployed 67 minutes after launch to provide the satellite with electrical power. NPP is on course to reach its sun-synchronous polar orbit 512 miles (824 km) above Earth.

"NPP is critical to our understanding of Earth's processes and changes," said NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver. "Its impact will be global and builds on 40 years of work to understand our complex planet from space. NPP is part of an extremely strong slate of current and future innovative NASA science missions that will help us win the future as we make new discoveries."

NPP carries five science instruments, including four new state-of-the-art sensors, which will provide critical data to help scientists understand the dynamics of long-term climate patterns and help meteorologists improve short-term weather forecasts. The mission will extend more than 30 key long-term datasets NASA has been tracking, including measurements of the ozone layer, land cover, and ice cover.

NPP serves as a bridge mission between NASA's Earth Observing System (EOS) of satellites and the next-generation Joint Polar Satellite System, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) program that will also collect weather and climate data.

Scientists will use NPP data to extend and improve upon EOS data records. These satellites have provided critical insights into the dynamics of the entire Earth system, including clouds, oceans, vegetation, ice, solid Earth and atmosphere. NPP will allow scientists to extend the continuous satellite record needed to detect and quantify global environmental changes.

National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System configuration "The measurements from NPP will benefit science and society for many years to come," said Michael Freilich, director of NASA's Earth Science Division. "NPP will help improve weather forecasts, enable unique scientific insights, and allow more accurate global environmental predictions. I'm confident that the strong partnerships forged in the NPP program between NASA and NOAA, industry, and the research and applications communities will ensure the success of the mission."

The satellite will be operated from the NOAA Satellite Operations Facility in Suitland, Md. NASA will operate NPP for the first three months after launch while the satellite and instrument are checked out. NPP operations will then be turned over to NOAA and the JPSS program for the remainder of the mission.

NPP data will be transmitted once every orbit to a ground station in Svalbard, Norway, and to direct broadcast receivers around the world. The data will be sent back to the United States via fiber optic cable to the NOAA Suitland facility. NPP data is then processed into data records that NASA and NOAA will make available through various data archives.

The Delta II launch vehicle that delivered NPP into orbit also deployed auxiliary payloads within 98 minutes after launch. The five small "CubeSat" research payloads are the third in a series of NASA Educational Launch of Nanosatellite missions, known as ELaNa missions.

The NPP mission is managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., for the Earth Science Division of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. The Joint Polar Satellite System program provides the NPP ground system. NOAA will provide operational support for the mission. Launch management is the responsibility of the NASA Launch Services Program at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

For more information about NPP, visit: www.nasa.gov/npp

For more information about the ELaNa III mission, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/tgbuVn


Oct. 25, 2011

NASA RELEASES THIRD STATUS REPORT ON COMMERCIAL PARTNER PROGRESS

WASHINGTON -- NASA's industry partners continue to meet their established milestones in developing commercial crew transportation capabilities that will ferry U. S. astronauts to and from the International Space Station, reducing the amount of time America has to depend on Russia for launch services. NASA has outlined an ambitious program moving forward that relies on U. S. private industry to assume transportation of cargo and crew to the International Space Station, while the agency focuses on deep space exploration.

NASA has posted the third status report on its Commercial Crew Development 2 (CCDev2) program to the agency's Commercial Space Transportation website. The report highlights the progress and accomplishments for the agency's commercial spaceflight development efforts. The bi-monthly report is targeted toward non-technical stakeholders and the American public, to keep them informed of NASA's achievements in regaining human spaceflight leadership through American-made access to space.

"There is a lot happening in NASA's commercial crew and cargo programs and we want to make sure the public and our stakeholders are informed about the progress industry is making," said Phil McAlister, NASA's director of commercial spaceflight development. "It's exciting to see these spaceflight concepts move forward."

NASA's Commercial Crew Development program is investing financial and technical resources to stimulate efforts within the private sector to develop and demonstrate safe, reliable, and cost-effective space transportation capabilities.

For the report and more information about CCDev2, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/commercial/


Oct. 13, 2011

NPP SATELLITE READY FOR LAUNCH OCT. 27

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The launch of the NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP) satellite aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 27. Liftoff from NASA's Space Launch Complex 2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB), Calif., is targeted during a nine-minute, 10 second launch window that opens at 2:48:01 a. m. PDT (5:48:01 a. m. EDT). The spacecraft's final circular polar orbit will be 512 miles (824 kilometers) at an inclination of 98 degrees.

NPP, a NASA Earth-observing satellite, represents a critical first step in building the next-generation of U. S. polar-orbiting climate and weather monitoring spacecraft. NPP is the bridge between NASA's Earth Observing System (EOS) satellites and the forthcoming series of Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) satellites. The mission will test key technologies and instruments for the JPSS missions.

The second of NASA's Educational Launch of Nanosatellite, or ELaNa, missions also will be launched on the Delta II. These auxiliary payloads are small satellites called CubeSats. Each is designed and created by university and college students. Five satellites will be deployed on ELaNa-2.


Oct. 11, 2011

NASA ADMINISTRATOR VISITS THE KENNEDY SPACE CENTER

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA Administrator Charles Bolden met with Space Coast community leaders, Kennedy Space Center employees and news media representatives during a Tuesday visit to Florida. He outlined recent steps the agency has taken toward missions to deep space and Florida's critical role in future exploration.

"As our nation looks for ways to compete and win in the 21st century, NASA continues to be an engine of job growth and economic opportunity," Bolden said. "From California to Florida, the space industry is strong and growing. The next generation of explorers will not fly a space shuttle, but they may be able to walk on Mars. And those journeys are starting at the Kennedy Space Center today."

Bolden met with several hundred Space Coast community leaders, business executives, educators, community organizers, and state and local government representatives to discuss their partnership with NASA to keep America the world leader in space exploration. He discussed jobs related to the agency's new Orion multipurpose crew vehicle and other activities the agency is pursuing to develop new capabilities, including the placement of the Commercial Crew program office at Kennedy.

The administrator also talked with reporters while touring the agency's new mobile launcher for the Space Launch System (SLS), the heavy-lift rocket that will propel astronauts into deep space. He outlined NASA's plans to use the launcher from Kennedy's Launch Complex 39 to send astronauts in the Orion spacecraft to asteroids, the moon and other destinations in the solar system. The new 6.75 million-ton mobile launcher is a tangible step on the agency's path forward to launching deep space missions.

Bolden met with Kennedy's work force and thanked them for their commitment to the American space program. He answered questions from workers about NASA's future and Kennedy's important role in implementing the bi-partisan vision for exploration agreed to by President Obama and Congress one year ago.

For more information about SLS, visit: www.nasa.gov/sls

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

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


Oct. 4, 2011

NASA RECEIVES AWARD FOR KENNEDY CRAWLERWAY EVALUATION PROJECT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) presented the Florida Project of the Year award on Tuesday to the crawlerway system evaluation team at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The Cape Canaveral branch of the ASCE nominated the team for its project, the Crawlerway Evaluation to Support a Heavy-Lift Program. The crawlerway is a 130-foot-wide, specialty-built roadway between Kennedy's Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), where rockets and spacecraft are prepared for flight, and Launch Pad 39A and 39B.

The team's more than two-year evaluation confirmed the crawlerway system would be able to support the weight of moving the agency's future heavy-lift rockets and potential commercial vehicles from the VAB to the launch pads.

"Putting all of the different entities together has resulted in an outstanding product that the center and the program can stand firmly on," said Justin Junod, project manager for the team.

The award honors the team's outstanding engineering efforts in research, design, construction and management, recognizing the complexity of multi-agency coordination and cost-effective engineering advances. For more information on the American Society of Civil Engineers, visit: http://www.asce.org

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


Oct. 3, 2011

NASA AND EDC RENEW ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COOPERATION

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA's Kennedy Space Center and the Economic Development Commission (EDC) of Florida's Space Coast are formally renewing their economic development partnership. NASA and EDC managers signed a new five-year Space Act Agreement on Monday at Kennedy that outlines economic development cooperation aimed at supporting NASA's current and future missions.

"The Kennedy Space Center appreciates our relationship with the EDC of Florida's Space Coast and looks forward to continuing our strong partnership with this agreement," said Kennedy Space Center Director Robert Cabana. "It's the people of the Space Coast that have made Kennedy a success over the decades, and it's our hope that working with the EDC and other partners will help us and the surrounding communities continue to be successful."

The agreement calls for NASA and EDC senior leadership to meet regularly to discuss economic development matters of mutual interest. Managers from Kennedy's Center Planning and Development Office will work with the EDC on potential business partnerships and meet with business leaders and committees to address space-related and high-tech economic development. They will also collaborate with the EDC on industry recruitment initiatives seeking targeted space-related and high-tech companies and on targeted industry outreach activities, such as trade shows.

EDC officials will assist NASA with disseminating information about potential partnership opportunities and space-related and high-tech economic development, and increase awareness of Kennedy's Engineering and Technology Directorate collaboration initiatives. They also will promote the commercial use of underutilized facilities at Kennedy.

"The continuation of this agreement further enhances the partnership between the EDC and Kennedy Space Center," said Bob Whelen, Chairman of the Board for the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast. "This agreement reinforces our joint goal of maintaining and enhancing Brevard County's vigorous activity in support of the nation's preeminent gateway to space."

NASA and the EDC entered into their first economic cooperation agreement in 2005.

For information about the Economic Development Commission (EDC) of Florida's Space Coast, visit: www.spacecoastedc.org For information about how to partner and do business with NASA's Kennedy Space Center, visit: http://kscpartnerships.ksc.nasa.gov

And for more information about Kennedy, visit: www.nasa.gov/kennedy


Sept. 30, 2011

NASA MODIFIES LAUNCH SERVICES CONTRACT TO ADD DELTA II ROCKET

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA announced the modification of its NASA Launch Services (NLS) II contract with United Launch Services of Littleton, Colo., to add the Delta II rocket launch service in accordance with the contract's on-ramp provision. The modification will enable United Launch Services to offer as many as five Delta II rockets.

The NLS II contracts are multiple award, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contracts with ordering periods through June 2020. The NLS II on-ramp provision provides an opportunity annually for new launch service providers to compete for future missions and allows existing launch service providers to introduce launch vehicles not currently on their NLS II contracts.

The NLS II 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.

The NLS II contracts support the goals and objectives of the agency's Human Exploration and Operations and Science Mission Directorates. 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.


Sept. 30, 2011

NASA AWARDS PROTECTIVE SERVICES CONTRACT AT KENNEDY

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA selected Chenega Security & Support Solutions, LLC of Ashburn, Va., to provide protective services at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The new firm, fixed price contract begins Dec. 1 with a possible total performance period of four years, 10 months. Phase-in begins as soon as practicable. The maximum potential value of this contract is approximately $151.9 million. This new contract resulted from a competitive small business set-aside.

Chenega Security & Support Solutions, LLC will provide protective services at Kennedy including: physical security operations; personnel security; secure access, such as badging; 911 dispatch; firefighting, fire prevention and fire protection engineering; aircraft rescue and firefighting; advance life support ambulance services; emergency management and protective services training.

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


Sept. 26, 2011

NASA AWARDS ARCHITECTURAL CONTRACT FOR BRIDGE WORK AT KENNEDY

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA has selected FIGG Bridge Engineers Inc. of Tallahassee, Fla., to provide architect engineer studies, designs and other professional services required for replacement bridges and rehabilitation of existing bridges at NASA's Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The new indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract begins Sept. 27, with a five-year base ordering period and potentially four, one-year options. The maximum potential value of this contract is $30 million.

FIGG Bridge Engineers will conduct a variety of field investigations and surveys, and prepare a number of reports and studies to support the project. The firm will develop complete design packages, detailed cost estimates, environmental permit applications, and environmental certificates of compliance. They also will provide planning studies, bridge modeling/renderings, permits, and contract documents for construction.

FIGG Bridge Engineers also will perform other professional and incidental services such as project management, construction management, and inspection services to support all phases of bridge work from design through construction. The company will provide designs with low environmental impact using sustainable materials.

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


Sept. 26, 2011

NASA AWARDS ARCHITECTURAL CONTRACT FOR NEW COMPLEX AT KENNEDY

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA has selected Hunton Brady Architects, P.A. of Orlando, Fla., to provide design, engineering, and other professional services required to develop a Central Campus Complex at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Central Campus Complex involves consolidating multiple facilities through new construction, the progressive deconstruction of targeted facilities and the potential renovation of existing facilities.

The new indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract begins Sept. 27, with a five-year base ordering period and potentially five, one-year options. The maximum potential value of this contract is $25 million.

Hunton Brady Architects will provide project professional services, including conducting field investigations, topographical surveys, analysis of existing and planned work and support systems, preparing design packages, engineering studies and/or reports of recommended actions. The firm will develop complete design packages and provide studies, surveys, reports, environmental permit applications and environmental certificates of compliance.

Hunton Brady Architects also will perform other professional architectural and engineering services which include project management, construction management and inspection services, preparation of historical documentation, review of shop drawings and resolution of construction issues. The contract will create as-built drawings to support all phases of the work throughout design and construction.

The Central Campus Complex project will be designed to earn the U. S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) Silver status and strive for the highest achievable rating based on life cycle costs.

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


Sept. 19, 2011

NASA RELEASES COMMERCIAL CREW DRAFT RFP, ANNOUNCES CCDEV2 OPTIONAL MILESTONES

WASHINGTON -- NASA unveiled Monday an outline of its acquisition strategy to procure transportation services from private industry to carry U. S. astronauts to low Earth orbit and the International Space Station. The agency also announced the addition of optional milestones for the Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2) initiative.

"This is a significant step forward in America's amazing story of space exploration," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "It's further evidence we are committed to fully implementing our plan -- as laid out in the Authorization Act -- to outsource our space station transportation so NASA can focus its energy and resources on deep space exploration."

NASA's draft request for proposal (RFP) outlines a contract that will be awarded to multiple companies that provide a complete end-to-end design, including spacecraft, launch vehicles, launch services, ground and mission operations and recovery. The Integrated Design Contract (IDC) of up to $1.61 billion will run from July 2012 through April 2014.

"This IDC effort will bring us through the critical design phase to fully incorporate our human spaceflight safety requirements and NASA's International Space Station mission needs," said NASA Commercial Crew Program Manager Ed Mango. "We look forward to strong U. S. industry response."

Bolden also announced Monday at a speech to the Air Force Association's 2011 Air and Space Conference that NASA will fund optional milestones pre-negotiated as part of some of the original CCDev2 Space Act Agreements (SAA) to help accelerate development.

NASA amended Sierra Nevada Corp.' s SAA to include four optional milestones for a total of $25.6 million, bringing the potential value of Sierra Nevada's SAA to $105.6 million, if all milestones are completed successfully.

NASA also amended Boeing's SAA to include three optional milestones for a total of $20.6 million, bringing the potential value of Boeing's SAA to $112.9 million, if all milestones are reached.

"All four CCDev2 partners are performing very well and meeting their milestones," said Phil McAlister, director of NASA's Commercial Spaceflight Development. "These additional milestones were selected because they sufficiently accelerated the development of commercial crew transportation systems to justify additional NASA investment."

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


Sept. 16, 2011

NASA PARTICIPATES IN SPACE FARM 7 MISSION AT THE ROCK RANCH, GA.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Educators from NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla., will travel to The Rock Ranch, Ga., on Sept. 24 to participate in the ranch's annual family fun day kickoff event.

The Rock Ranch was selected as a member of the Space Farm 7, a collaborative outreach project with NASA designed to celebrate the accomplishments of the U. S. space program through agri-tourism at seven farms throughout the nation.

The participating farms planted and designed NASA-themed corn mazes. The Rock Ranch design celebrates the 50th anniversary of human space exploration and features an astronaut image.

The kickoff event will include various educational activities, games, exhibits and a special appearance by an astronaut. The goal of the project is to educate children of all ages on NASA's space exploration efforts and achievements.

In addition to the Rock Ranch, the Space Farm 7 includes: Belvedere Plantation, Fredericksburg, Va. ; Cornbelly's Corn Maze and Pumpkin Fest, Lehi, Utah; Dell'Osso Family Farm, Lathrop, Calif. ; Dewberry Farm, Brookshire, Texas; Liberty Ridge Farm, Schaghticoke, N.Y. ; and Vala's Pumpkin Patch, Gretna, Neb.

For more information on Space Farm 7, visit: www.spacefarm7.com/

For more information on The Rock Ranch, visit: www.therockranch.com/

For more information on NASA's education programs, visit: www.nasa.gov/education


Sept. 13, 2011

NASA BEGINS COMMERCIAL PARTNERSHIP WITH ALLIANT TECHSYSTEMS

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA and Alliant Techsystems (ATK) of Salt Lake City have agreed to collaborate on the development of the company's Liberty Launch System as part of the agency's Commercial Crew Development Round 2 activities.

The unfunded Space Act Agreement (SAA) through NASA's Commercial Crew Program will allow the agency and ATK to review and discuss Liberty system requirements, safety and certification plans, computational models of rocket stage performance, and avionics architecture designs. The agreement outlines key milestones including an Initial System Design review, during which ATK will present to NASA officials the Liberty systems level requirements, preliminary design, and certification process development.

"This agreement will provide the opportunity to look at the Liberty system to understand its design solution and risks, its capabilities and how it could be used to fly our NASA crew," said Ed Mango, NASA's Commercial Crew Program manager. The program is based at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

NASA will provide feedback to ATK based on its human spaceflight experience for advancing crew transportation system capabilities and the agency's draft human certification requirements.

"With this SAA we believe NASA will benefit from gaining insight into the various systems we are developing, and we can benefit from the feedback," said Kent Rominger, vice president, strategy and business development for ATK Aerospace. "In the end, we hope to offer a commercial solution to NASA, the Department of Defense, and other commercial human spaceflight programs."

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


Twin GRAIL spacecraft will map the gravity of the moon.
Sept. 10, 2011
NASA's Kennedy Space Center - Facebook
We're launching rockets here! Did you see GRAIL lift off on a Delta II this morning? Watch the launch footage on YouTube:
GRAIL Launch -- www.youtube.com
NASA's Twin GRAIL spacecraft lift off at 9:08 a.m. EDT on Saturday, September 10, 2011, on a mission to explore the moon in unprecedented detail.


Sept. 10, 2011

NASA LAUNCHES MISSION TO STUDY MOON FROM CRUST TO CORE

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA's twin lunar Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 9:08 a. m. EDT Saturday to study the moon in unprecedented detail.

GRAIL-A is scheduled to reach the moon on New Year's Eve 2011, while GRAIL-B will arrive New Year's Day 2012. The two solar-powered spacecraft will fly in tandem orbits around the moon to measure its gravity field. GRAIL will answer longstanding questions about the moon and give scientists a better understanding of how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system formed.

"If there was ever any doubt that Florida's Space Coast would continue to be open for business, that thought was drowned out by the roar of today's GRAIL launch," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "GRAIL and many other exciting upcoming missions make clear that NASA is taking its next big leap into deep space exploration, and the space industry continues to provide the jobs and workers needed to support this critical effort."

The spacecraft were launched aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket. GRAIL mission controllers acquired a signal from GRAIL-A at 10:29 a. m. GRAIL-B's signal was eight minutes later. The telemetry downlinked from both spacecraft indicates they have deployed their solar panels and are operating as expected.

"Our GRAIL twins have Earth in their rearview mirrors and the moon in their sights," said David Lehman, GRAIL project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. "The mission team is ready to test, analyze and fine-tune our spacecraft over the next three-and-a-half months on our journey to lunar orbit."

The straight-line distance from Earth to the moon is approximately 250,000 miles (402,336 kilometers). NASA's Apollo moon crews needed approximately three days to cover that distance. However, each spacecraft will take approximately 3.5 months and cover more than 2.5 million miles (4 million kilometers) to arrive. This low-energy trajectory results in the longer travel time. The size of the launch vehicle allows more time for spacecraft checkout and time to update plans for lunar operations. The science collection phase for GRAIL is expected to last 82 days.

"Since the earliest humans looked skyward, they have been fascinated by the moon," said GRAIL principal investigator Maria Zuber from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. "GRAIL will take lunar exploration to a new level, providing an unprecedented characterization of the moon's interior that will advance understanding of how the moon formed and evolved."

JPL manages the GRAIL mission. It is part of the Discovery Program managed at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver built the spacecraft. Launch management for the mission is the responsibility of NASA's Launch Services Program at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida

For more information about GRAIL, visit: www.nasa.gov/grail and http://grail.nasa.gov


Sept. 9, 2011

NASA, ATK ANNOUNCE NEW COMMERCIAL CREW AGREEMENT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA and Alliant Techsystems (ATK) managers will announce an agreement that could accelerate the availability of U. S. commercial crew transportation capabilities at 3 p. m. EDT on Tuesday, Sept. 13. The announcement will occur at the Press Site auditorium at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The announcement participants are: -- Ed Mango, Commercial Crew Program manager, NASA -- Kent Rominger, vice president, Strategy and Business Development, ATK Aerospace -- John Schumacher, vice president, Space Programs, EADS North America

For NASA TV downlink information, Video File schedules and links to streaming video, visit: www.nasa.gov/ntv

For information about ATK, visit: www.atk.com/

For information on NASA's Commercial Crew Program, visit: www.nasa.gov/exploration/commercial/


Sept. 9, 2011

NASA NAMES CASIS TO MANAGE SPACE STATION NATIONAL LAB RESEARCH

WASHINGTON -- NASA has finalized a cooperative agreement with the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) to manage the portion of the International Space Station that operates as a U. S. national laboratory.

CASIS will be located in the Space Life Sciences Laboratory at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The independent, nonprofit research management organization will help ensure the station's unique capabilities are available to the broadest possible cross section of U. S. scientific, technological and industrial communities.

"The station is the centerpiece of our human spaceflight activities for the coming years," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "This cooperative agreement allows us to expand the station's use and achieve its fullest potential so we can reach destinations farther in the solar system and improve life on Earth. CASIS will help NASA make the station available to a diverse national market that will use this unprecedented resource in innovative ways."

CASIS will develop and manage a varied research and development portfolio based on U. S. national needs for basic and applied research; establish a marketplace to facilitate matching research pathways with qualified funding sources; and stimulate interest in using the national lab for research and technology demonstrations and as a platform for science, technology, engineering and mathematics education. The goal is to support, promote and accelerate innovations and new discoveries in science, engineering and technology that will improve life on Earth.

NASA issued a cooperative agreement notice on Feb. 14 to seek a management partner for the portion of the station that was designated a national laboratory in 2005. The NASA Authorization Act of 2010, which extended station operations until at least 2020, also directed the agency to establish this organization. NASA began negotiations with CASIS on July 13. The cooperative agreement initially will have a value of up to $15 million per year.

For additional information about the International Space Station National Laboratory, visit: www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/nlab/index.html

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

Follow the national lab on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/ISS_NatLab


Aug. 5, 2011

NASA'S JUNO SPACECRAFT LAUNCHES TO JUPITER

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA's solar-powered Juno spacecraft lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 12:25 p. m. EDT Friday to begin a five-year journey to Jupiter.

Juno's detailed study of the largest planet in our solar system will help reveal Jupiter's origin and evolution. As the archetype of giant gas planets, Jupiter can help scientists understand the origin of our solar system and learn more about planetary systems around other stars.

Spacecraft Juno airborn on the way to Saturn. "Today, with the launch of the Juno spacecraft, NASA began a journey to yet another new frontier," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "The future of exploration includes cutting-edge science like this to help us better understand our solar system and an ever-increasing array of challenging destinations."

After Juno's launch aboard an Atlas V rocket, mission controllers now await telemetry from the spacecraft indicating it has achieved its proper orientation, and that its massive solar arrays, the biggest on any NASA deep-space probe, have deployed and are generating power.

"We are on our way, and early indications show we are on our planned trajectory," said Jan Chodas, Juno project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. "We will know more about Juno's status in a couple hours after its radios are energized and the signal is acquired by the Deep Space Network antennas at Canberra."

Juno will cover the distance from Earth to the moon (about 250,000 miles or 402,236 kilometers) in less than one day's time. It will take another five years and 1,740 million miles (2,800 million kilometers) to complete the journey to Jupiter. The spacecraft will orbit the planet's poles 33 times and use its collection of eight science instruments to probe beneath the gas giant's obscuring cloud cover to learn more about its origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere, and look for a potential solid planetary core.

With four large moons and many smaller moons, Jupiter forms its own miniature solar system. Its composition resembles a star's, and if it had been about 80 times more massive, the planet could have become a star instead.

"Jupiter is the Rosetta Stone of our solar system," said Scott Bolton, Juno's principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. "It is by far the oldest planet, contains more material than all the other planets, asteroids and comets combined and carries deep inside it the story of not only the solar system but of us. Juno is going there as our emissary -- to interpret what Jupiter has to say."

Juno's name comes from Greek and Roman mythology. The god Jupiter drew a veil of clouds around himself to hide his mischief, and his wife, the goddess Juno, was able to peer through the clouds and reveal Jupiter's true nature.

The NASA Deep Space Network, or DSN, is an international network of antennas that supports interplanetary spacecraft missions and radio and radar astronomy observations for the exploration of the solar system and the universe. The network also supports selected Earth-orbiting missions.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator, Scott Bolton, of Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. The Juno mission is part of the New Frontiers Program managed at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft. Launch management for the mission is the responsibility of NASA's Launch Services Program at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

For more information about Juno, visit: www.nasa.gov/juno


Spacecraft Juno lifts off from Kennedy Space Center on the way to Saturn.

Juno set sail for Jupiter! The solar-powered spacecraft lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 12:25 p.m. EDT Friday.

August 4, 2011

Atlas V in Place for Launch of Spacecraft Juno

Launch Vehicle: Atlas V 551 (AV-029)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Launch Pad: Complex 41
Launch Date: Friday, Aug. 5, 2011
Launch Time: 11:34 a.m. - 12:43 p.m. EDT
This launch can be viewed from any of the Titusville launch viewing locations. It will rise from just south of the Shuttle launch complexes. Keep an eye on Tropical Storm Emily's track and the effect it might have on the launch.

Space View Park at 8 Broad Street in Titusville has the best views. After the Launch, stop by the US Space Walk of Fame Museum, a great place to see the history of Space Travel up close. Located at 4 Main Street in Titusville.

 


July 29, 2011

NASA AWARDS KENNEDY SPACE CENTER WATER SYSTEMS CONTRACT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA has selected Speegle Construction II, Inc. of Cocoa, Fla., for the revitalization of Kennedy Space Center's Water and Wastewater Systems Project.

The total value of the firm-fixed price contract is $6.97 million. The performance period, which begins in August 2011, is 540 days. Speegle's scope of work will include, but is not limited to, replacement of existing asbestos cement water mains, water main valves and connections. Additional work to be performed consists of the installation of a 500,000 gallon pre-stressed concrete ground storage reservoir and a new water pump station.

The company will install and replace water quality analyzers, gravity sewer systems, sewer manhole linings and associated electrical and communications equipment. The project is scheduled to begin in fall 2011.

Speegle will have work spanning across Kennedy. It will include the industrial area near the center's headquarters building, the Vehicle Assembly Building and Launch Pads 39A and 39B.

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


July 22, 2011

NASA ANNOUNCES LAUNCH TWEETUP FOR GRAIL MOON MISSION

WASHINGTON -- NASA will host a two-day launch Tweetup for 150 of its Twitter followers on Sept. 7-8 at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Tweetup is expected to culminate in the launch of the twin lunar-bound GRAIL spacecraft aboard a Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The launch window opens at 8:37 a. m. EDT on Sept. 8. The two GRAIL spacecraft will fly in tandem orbits around the moon for several months to measure its gravity field, from its crust to core, in unprecedented detail. The mission also will answer longstanding questions about the moon and provide scientists with a better understanding of how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system formed.

The Tweetup will provide NASA's Twitter followers with the opportunity to tour the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex; speak with scientists and engineers from GRAIL and other upcoming missions; and, if all goes as scheduled, view the spacecraft launch. The event also will provide participants the opportunity to meet fellow tweeps and members of NASA's social media team.

2011 is one of the busiest ever in planetary exploration; GRAIL's liftoff is the third of four space missions launching this year under the management of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

Aquarius launched June 10 to study ocean salinity; Juno will launch Aug. 5 to study the origins and interior of Jupiter; and the Mars Science Laboratory/Curiosity rover heads to the Red Planet no earlier than Nov. 25.

Tweetup registration opens at 9 a. m. on Tuesday, July 26, and closes at noon on Thursday, July 28. NASA will randomly select 150 participants from online registrations.

For more information and rules about the Tweetup and registration, visit: www.nasa.gov/tweetup

To follow NASA on Twitter, visit: www.twitter.com/NASA

For information about more ways to connect and collaborate with NASA, visit: www.nasa.gov/connect

GRAIL's principal investigator is Maria Zuber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., manages the mission. For more information about GRAIL, visit: http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/grail and http://moon.mit.edu/


July 21, 2011

NASA'S PROUD SPACE SHUTTLE PROGRAM ENDS WITH ATLANTIS LANDING

Agency Ushers In Next Era Of Exploration

Space Shuttle Atlantis landing for the final time.
Space shuttle Atlantis lands for the final time at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Image credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Wrapping up 30 years of unmatched achievements and blazing a trail for the next era of U. S. human spaceflight, NASA's storied Space Shuttle Program came to a "wheels stop" on Thursday at the conclusion of its 135th mission.

Shuttle Atlantis and its four-astronaut crew glided home for the final time, ending a 13-day journey of more than five million miles with a landing at 5:57 a. m. EDT at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It was the 26th night landing (20th night and 78th total landings at Kennedy) and the 133rd landing in shuttle history.

"The brave astronauts of STS-135 are emblematic of the shuttle program -- skilled professionals from diverse backgrounds who propelled America to continued leadership in space with the shuttle's many successes," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "This final shuttle flight marks the end of an era, but today, we recommit ourselves to continuing human spaceflight and taking the necessary - and difficult - steps to ensure America's leadership in human spaceflight for years to come."

Since STS-1 launched on April 12, 1981, 355 individuals from 16 countries flew 852 times aboard the shuttle. The five shuttles traveled more than 542 million miles and hosted more than 2,000 experiments in the fields of Earth, astronomy, biological and materials sciences.

The shuttles docked with two space stations, the Russian Mir and the International Space Station. Shuttles deployed 180 payloads, including satellites, returned 52 from space and retrieved, repaired and redeployed seven spacecraft.

The STS-135 crew consisted of Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley, Mission Specialists Sandra Magnus and Rex Walheim. They delivered more than 9,400 pounds of spare parts, spare equipment and other supplies in the Raffaello multi-purpose logistics module - including 2,677 pounds of food - that will sustain space station operations for the next year. The 21-foot long, 15-foot diameter Raffaello brought back nearly 5,700 pounds of unneeded materials from the station.

A welcome-home ceremony for the astronauts will be held Friday, July 22, in Houston. The public is invited to attend the 4 p. m. CDT event at NASA's Hangar 990 at Ellington Field. Gates to Ellington Field will open at 3:30 p. m. The ceremony will be broadcast live on NASA Television. For NASA TV downlink information, schedules and links to streaming video, visit: www.nasa.gov/ntv

STS-135 was the 135th and final shuttle flight, Atlantis' 33rd flight and the 37th shuttle mission dedicated to station assembly and maintenance.

For more information about the STS-135 mission, visit: www.nasa.gov/shuttle

For information about the space station, visit: www.nasa.gov/station

For information on NASA's future exploration activities, visit: www.nasa.gov/next


July 18, 2011

NASA BEGINS COMMERCIAL PARTNERSHIP WITH UNITED LAUNCH ALLIANCE

DENVER -- Through a new agreement, United Launch Alliance (ULA) will provide technical information to NASA about using the Atlas V rocket to launch astronauts into space. The announcement was made Monday at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. "I am truly excited about the addition of ULA to NASA's Commercial Crew Development Program team," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "Having ULA on board may speed the development of a commercial crew transportation system for the International Space Station, allowing NASA to concentrate its resources on exploring beyond low Earth orbit."

NASA and ULA's unfunded Space Act Agreement requires ULA to provide data on the Atlas V, a flight-proven expendable launch vehicle used by NASA and the Department of Defense for critical space missions.

NASA will share its human spaceflight experience with ULA to advance crew transportation system capabilities and the draft human certification requirements. ULA will provide NASA feedback about those requirements, including providing input on the technical feasibility and cost effectiveness of NASA's proposed certification approach.

"This unfunded SAA will look at the Atlas V to understand its design risks, its capabilities, how it can be used within the context of flying our NASA crew and maturing ULA's designs for the Emergency Detection System and launch vehicle processing and launch architectures under a crewed configuration," said Ed Mango, NASA's Commercial Crew Program manager.

The majority of the work will be completed by the end of this year. As part of the agreement, NASA will:

ULA will:

"We believe this effort will demonstrate to NASA that our systems are fully compliant with NASA requirements for human spaceflight," said George Sowers, ULA's vice president of business development. "ULA looks forward to continued work with NASA to develop a U. S. commercial crew space transportation capability providing safe, reliable, and cost effective access to and return from low Earth orbit and the International Space Station."

In 2010, NASA awarded $6.7 million to ULA to accompany its own $1.3 million investment to develop an Emergency Detection System prototype test bed. The EDS will monitor critical launch vehicle and spacecraft systems and issue status, warning and abort commands to crew during their mission to low Earth orbit. EDS is the sole significant element necessary for flight safety to meet the requirements to certify ULA's launch vehicles for human spaceflight.

For information on the United Launch Alliance, visit: www.ulalaunch.com

For information about NASA's Commercial Crew Program, visit: www.nasa.gov/exploration/commercial/


July 13, 2011

NASA SELECTS NONPROFIT TO MANAGE SPACE STATION NATIONAL LAB RESEARCH

WASHINGTON -- NASA has selected the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space Inc. (CASIS) to develop and manage the U. S. portion of the International Space Station that will be operated as a national laboratory. At the conclusion of successful negotiations, the independent, nonprofit research management organization will help ensure the station's unique capabilities are available to the broadest possible cross-section of the U. S. scientific, technological and industrial communities.

"The space station is the centerpiece of NASA's human spaceflight activities, and it is truly a national asset," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "This agreement helps us ensure the station will be available for broad, meaningful and sustained use."

CASIS will be located at the Space Life Sciences Laboratory near NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida (not far out beyond the KSC Visitors Complex - webmaster). The organization will increase station use to maximize the public's return on its investment by managing its diversified research and development portfolio based on needs for basic and applied research in a variety of fields. CASIS will identify opportunities for non-NASA uses linking scientific review and economic value, and will match potential research and development opportunities with funding sources. The organization also will increase awareness among schools and students about using the station as a learning platform.

NASA issued a cooperative agreement notice on Feb. 14 to seek a management partner for the portion of the station designated a national laboratory in 2005. The NASA Authorization Act of 2010, which extended station operations until at least 2020, also directed NASA to establish this organization. The cooperative agreement initially will have a value of up to $15 million per year.

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

For more information about the space station as a national lab, visit: www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/nlab/


July 8, 2011

NASA'S FINAL SPACE SHUTTLE MISSION BEGINS WITH ATLANTIS' LAUNCH

Launch of apace shuttle Atlantis, STS-135.
Space shuttle Atlantis lifts off the launch pad for the final space shuttle mission. Image credit: NASA TV
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Space shuttle Commander Chris Ferguson and his three crewmates are on their way to the International Space Station after launching from NASA's Kennedy Space Center at 11:29 a. m. EDT Friday. STS-135 is the final mission of NASA's Space Shuttle Program.

"With today's final launch of the space shuttle, we turn the page on a remarkable period in America's history in space, while beginning the next chapter in our nation's extraordinary story of exploration," Administrator Charles Bolden said. "Tomorrow's destinations will inspire new generations of explorers, and the shuttle pioneers have made the next chapter of human spaceflight possible."

The STS-135 crew consists of Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley, and Mission Specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim. They will deliver the Raffaello multi-purpose logistics module filled with more than 8,000 pounds of supplies and spare parts to sustain space station operations after the shuttles are retired.

"The shuttle's always going to be a reflection to what a great nation can do when it dares to be bold and commits to follow through," Ferguson said shortly before liftoff. "We're not ending the journey today -- we're completing a chapter of a journey that will never end."

The mission includes flying the Robotic Refueling Mission, an experiment designed to demonstrate and test the tools, technologies and techniques needed for robotic refueling of satellites in space, even satellites not designed for servicing. The crew also will return with an ammonia pump that recently failed on the station. Engineers want to understand why the pump failed and improve designs for future spacecraft.

Atlantis is on a 12-day mission and scheduled to dock to the station at 11:06 a. m. on Sunday.

STS-135 is the 135th shuttle flight, the 33rd flight for Atlantis and the 37th shuttle mission dedicated to station assembly and maintenance. NASA's Web coverage of STS-135 includes mission information, a press kit, interactive features, news conference images, graphics and videos.

Mission coverage, including the latest NASA Television schedule, is available on the main space shuttle website at: www.nasa.gov/shuttle

NASA is providing continuous television and Internet coverage of the mission. NASA TV features live mission events, daily status news conferences and 24-hour commentary. For NASA TV streaming video, downlink and schedule information, visit: www.nasa.gov/ntv

Live updates to the NASA News Twitter feed will be added throughout the mission and landing. To access the feed, go to the NASA.gov home page or visit: www.twitter.com/nasa

All four of Atlantis' crew members are posting updates to Twitter. You can follow them at:
www.twitter.com/Astro_Ferg
www.twitter.com/Astro_Doug
www.twitter.com/Astro_Sandy
www.twitter.com/Astro_Rex

To connect with NASA on Twitter and other social networking sites, visit: www.nasa.gov/connect

For more information about space shuttle Atlantis' STS-135 mission, visit: www.nasa.gov/shuttle

For more information about the space station, visit: www.nasa.gov/station


June 29, 2011

NASA'S PARTNERS MEET MILESTONES FOR DEVELOPING FUTURE COMMERCIAL SPACECRAFT

WASHINGTON -- NASA's industry partners have met all their initial milestones in developing commercial crew transportation capabilities to reduce the gap in U. S. human spaceflight capability.

NASA has posted its first status report on the agency's Commercial Crew Development 2 (CCDev2) program to its website. The report highlights the progress and accomplishments for the agency's commercial spaceflight development efforts. Designed to be a bi-monthly report, it is targeted toward the interested layperson and other non-technical stakeholders in order to keep them informed of our achievements.

"We're only 60 days into CCDev 2, and their progress is right on schedule," said Phil McAlister, NASA's acting director, commercial spaceflight development.

NASA's Commercial Crew Development program is investing financial and technical resources to stimulate efforts within the private sector to develop and demonstrate safe, reliable, and cost-effective space transportation capabilities.

For the report and more information about CCDev2, visit: www.nasa.gov/exploration/commercial/


Space Shuttle Atlantis Tribute

Space Shuttle Atlantis Tribute

This tribute to space shuttle Atlantis, OV-104, hangs in Firing Room 4 of the Launch Control Center at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

It features, Atlantis soaring above Earth. Threaded through the design are the mission patches for each of Atlantis' flights. Atlantis' accomplishments include seven missions to the Russian space station Mir and several assembly, construction and resupply missions to the International Space Station. Atlantis also flew the last Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission on STS-125.

The planet Venus represents the Magellan probe being deployed during STS-30, and Jupiter represents the Galileo probe being deployed during STS-34. The inset photos illustrate various aspects of shuttle processing in addition to significant achievements, such as the glass cockpit and the first shuttle docking with Mir during STS-71.

The inset photo in the upper-left corner shows a rainbow over Atlantis on Launch Pad 39A and shuttle Endeavour on Launch Pad 39B. Endeavour was the assigned vehicle had Atlantis' STS-125 mission needed rescue. Also, this was the last time both launch pads were occupied at the same time.

The stars in the background represent the many people who have worked with Atlantis and their contributions to the vehicle's success.

Graphic design credit: NASA/Amy Lombardo

On April 12, 2011 NASA announced that "Atlantis, which will fly the last planned shuttle mission in June, will be displayed at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida."


June 23, 2011

NASA MARS ROVER ARRIVES IN FLORIDA AFTER CROSS-COUNTRY FLIGHT

Graphic of Mars Curiosity 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.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. -- NASA's next Mars rover has completed the journey from its California birthplace to Florida in preparation for launch this fall.

The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover, also known as Curiosity, arrived Wednesday at NASA's Kennedy Space Center aboard an Air Force C-17 transport plane. It was accompanied by the rocket-powered descent stage that will fly the rover during the final moments before landing on Mars. The C-17 flight began at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, Calif., where the boxed hardware had been trucked from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif.

The rover's aeroshell -- the protective covering for the trip to the Red Planet -- and the cruise stage, which will guide it to Mars, arrived at Kennedy last month. The mission is targeted to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station between Nov. 25 and Dec. 18. The car-size rover will land on Mars in August 2012.

"The design and building part of the mission is nearly behind us now," said JPL's David Gruel, who has managed Mars Science Laboratory assembly, test and launch operations since 2007. "We're getting to final checkouts before sending the rover on its way to Mars."

The rover and other spacecraft components will undergo more testing before mission staff stack them and fuel the onboard propulsion systems. Curiosity should be enclosed in its aeroshell for the final time in September and delivered to Kennedy's Launch Complex 41 in early November for integration with a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

Curiosity is about twice as long and more than five times as heavy as any previous Mars rover. Its 10 science instruments include two for ingesting and analyzing samples of powdered rock delivered by the rover's robotic arm. During a prime mission lasting one Martian year -- nearly two Earth years -- researchers will use the rover's tools to study whether the landing region has had environmental conditions favorable for supporting microbial life and favorable for preserving clues about whether life existed.

JPL built the rover and descent stage and manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Launch management for the mission is the responsibility of NASA's Launch Services Program at Kennedy.

For more information about the mission, visit: www.nasa.gov/msl

To follow the mission on Facebook and Twitter, visit: www.facebook.com/marscuriosity or www.twitter.com/marscuriosity


June 10, 2011

NASA'S 'AGE OF AQUARIUS' DAWNS WITH LAUNCH FROM CALIFORNIA

WASHINGTON -- NASA's "Age of Aquarius" dawned Friday with the launch of an international satellite carrying the agency-built Aquarius instrument that will measure the saltiness of Earth's oceans to advance our understanding of the global water cycle and improve climate forecasts.

The Aquarius/SAC-D observatory rocketed into space from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket at 7:20:13 a. m. PDT. Less than 57 minutes later, the observatory separated from the rocket's second stage and began activation procedures, establishing communications with ground controllers and unfurling its solar arrays.

Initial telemetry reports show the observatory is in excellent health. The SAC-D (Satelite de Aplicaciones Cientificas) observatory is a collaboration between NASA and Argentina's space agency, Comision Nacional de Actividades Espaciales (CONAE).

"Aquarius is a critical component of our Earth sciences work, and part of the next generation of space-based instruments that will take our knowledge of our home planet to new heights," said NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver. "The innovative scientists and engineers who contributed to this mission are part of the talented team that will help America win the future and make a positive impact across the globe."

Aquarius will make NASA's first space observations of the salinity or concentration of salt at the ocean surface, a key missing variable in satellite studies of Earth. Variations in salinity influence deep ocean circulation, trace the path of freshwater around our planet and help drive Earth's climate.

"Data from this mission will advance our understanding of the ocean and prediction of the global water cycle," said Michael Freilich, director of NASA's Earth Science Division in the Science Mission Directorate at agency headquarters in Washington. "This mission demonstrates the power of international collaboration and accurate spaceborne measurements for science and societal benefit. This would not be possible without the sustained cooperation of NASA, CONAE and our other partners."

In addition to Aquarius, the observatory carries seven instruments that will monitor natural hazards and collect a broad range of environmental data. Other mission partners include Brazil, Canada, France and Italy.

"This mission is the most outstanding project in the history of scientific and technological cooperation between Argentina and the United States," said CONAE Executive and Technical Director Conrado Varotto. "Information from the mission will have significant benefits for humankind."

Aquarius will map the global open ocean once every seven days for at least three years with a resolution of 93 miles (150 kilometers). The maps will show how ocean surface salinity changes each month, season and year. Scientists expect to release preliminary salinity maps later this year.

Aquarius will measure salinity by sensing thermal microwave emissions from the water's surface with three microwave instruments called radiometers. When other environmental factors are equal, these emissions indicate the saltiness of surface water. A microwave radar scatterometer instrument will measure ocean waves that affect the precision of the salinity measurement. Because salinity levels in the open ocean vary by only about five parts per thousand, Aquarius will be able to detect changes as small as approximately two parts per 10,000, equivalent to about one-eighth of a teaspoon of salt in a gallon of water.

During the next 25 days, the Aquarius/SAC-D service platform will be tested and maneuvered into its final operational, near-polar orbit 408 miles (657 kilometers) above Earth. Science operations will begin after the observatory's instruments are checked out. This commissioning phase may last up to 65 days.

Aquarius was built by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. NASA's Launch Services Program, at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, managed the launch. JPL will manage Aquarius through its commissioning phase and archive mission data. Goddard will manage Aquarius mission operations and process science data. CONAE is providing the SAC-D spacecraft, optical camera, thermal camera with Canada, microwave radiometer, sensors from various Argentine institutions and the mission operations center. France and Italy also are contributing instruments. For more information about Aquarius/SAC-D, visit: =www.nasa.gov/aquarius and www.conae.gov.ar/eng/principal.html


June 8, 2011

NASA OFFERS GRANTS FOR 2012 UNIVERSITY COMPETITIONS

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- The NASA Minority Innovation Challenges Institute (MICI) is offering opportunities for minority serving institutions to apply for a $5,000 grant to enter the 2012 University Student Launch Initiative (USLI) or Lunabotics Mining Competition. Applications for both competitions are due June 30.

USLI challenges students to design, build and launch to an altitude of one mile a reusable rocket with a scientific or engineering payload. The project engages students in scientific research and real-world engineering processes with NASA engineers. The competition will take place at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., in April 2012.

The Lunabotics competition challenges students to design and build remote controlled robots that can excavate simulated lunar dirt. During the event, the teams' designs, known as lunabots, will go head-to-head to determine which one can collect and deposit the most dirt within 15 minutes. This competition will take place at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida in May 2012.

MICI is designed to inspire minority undergraduate students to pursue advanced degrees and careers in science, technology, engineering and math disciplines critical to NASA's future missions.

For more information about the grant and how to apply, visit: http://nasamici.com/grants.html

For more information on NASA's education programs, visit:www.nasa.gov/education


June 3, 2011

NASA ANNOUNCES LUNABOTICS MINING COMPETITION WINNERS

Cape Canaveral, Fla. -- Thirty-six teams of undergraduate and graduate students from around the globe tested their robot designs in a challenge at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida from May 26-28.

During the competition, teams remotely controlled excavators, called lunabots, to determine which could collect the most simulated lunar soil during a specified timeframe. The first place mining competition team was Laurentian University in Ontario, Canada. The Joe Kosmo Award for Excellence winner was the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

Winners in other competition categories are:

The competition is designed to engage and retain students in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines critical to NASA missions.

For more information about the competition, visit: www.nasa.gov/lunabotics

For information on NASA's education programs, visit: www.nasa.gov/education


June 1, 2011

NASA'S SHUTTLE ATLANTIS AT LAUNCH PAD, LIFTOFF PRACTICE SET

Click to enlarge Atlantis rollout photo. CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- After safely reaching its launch pad at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, space shuttle Atlantis awaits the next major milestone for its upcoming STS-135 mission to the International Space Station, the final flight of the Space Shuttle Program. The mission with four veteran astronauts is targeted to launch July 8.

Atlantis arrived at the pad early Wednesday morning on top of a giant crawler-transporter. The crawler-transporter left Kennedy's Vehicle Assembly Building at 8:42 p. m. EDT Tuesday, May 31, and travelled less than 1 mph during the 3.4-mile journey. The shuttle was secured on the launch pad at 3:29 a. m. Wednesday.

During the 12-day flight, Atlantis and its crew will deliver the Raffaello multi-purpose logistics module filled with supplies and spare parts to sustain station operations once NASA's shuttle fleet is retired.

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

For more information about the STS-135 mission and crew, visit: www.nasa.gov/shuttle


June 1, 2011

SPACE SHUTTLE ENDEAVOUR SAILS TO HOME PORT FOR FINAL TIME

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Space shuttle Endeavour and its six-astronaut crew sailed home for the final time, ending a 16-day journey of more than 6.5 million miles with a landing at 2:35 a. m. EDT on Wednesday at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Space Shuttle Endeavour lands for the last time at the Kennedy Space Center - June 1, 2011.
Space shuttle Endeavour makes its final landing at the Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility, completing a 16-day mission to the International Space Station. -- Image credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
Endeavour being towed back to the Orbiter Processing Facility
After landing, Endeavour was towed back to the Orbiter Processing Facility to be prepared for its retirement.
STS-134 was the last mission for the youngest of NASA's space shuttle fleet. Since 1992, Endeavour flew 25 missions, spent 299 days in space, orbited Earth 4,671 times and traveled 122,883,151 miles.

"We are very proud of Endeavour's legacy, and this penultimate flight of the space shuttle program once again demonstrated the amazing skill and dedication of our astronauts and the entire workforce," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "As we begin the transition from the shuttle program to the commercial transportation of our crews and cargo, our ability to tackle big challenges remains steadfast and will ensure that NASA reaches even more destinations farther in the solar system."

Mark Kelly commanded the flight and was joined by Pilot Greg H. Johnson and Mission Specialists Mike Fincke, Drew Feustel, Greg Chamitoff and the European Space Agency's Roberto Vittori. Endeavour delivered the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-2 (AMS), beginning a scientific voyage of discovery to our solar system and beyond from the International Space Station. By measuring cosmic rays, AMS is designed to help researchers understand the origin of the universe and search for evidence of dark matter, strange matter and antimatter.

Endeavour also delivered the Express Logistics Carrier-3, a platform carrying spare parts that will sustain space station operations once the shuttles are retired from service. The astronauts performed four spacewalks to maintain station systems and install new components.

These were the last scheduled spacewalks by shuttle crew members and brought the final number of shuttle excursions to 164. During 159 spacewalks for assembly and maintenance of the space station, astronauts and cosmonauts have spent a total of 1,002 hours and 37 minutes outside.

Fincke set a new record for time a U. S. astronaut has spent in space when he reached his 377th day on May 27, surpassing previous record holder Peggy Whitson. With today's landing, Fincke's record now is at 382 days in space.

A welcome ceremony for the astronauts will be held Thursday, June 2, in Houston. The public is invited to attend the 4 p. m. CDT event at Ellington Field's NASA Hangar 990. Gates to Ellington Field will open at 3:30 p. m. Highlights from the ceremony will be broadcast on NASA Television's Video File. For NASA TV downlink information, schedules and links to streaming video, visit: www.nasa.gov/ntv

STS-134 was the 134th shuttle flight and the 36th shuttle mission dedicated to station assembly and maintenance. With Endeavour and its crew safely home, the stage is set for the launch of shuttle Atlantis on its STS-135 mission, targeted to begin July 8.

Four veteran astronauts will deliver supplies and spare parts to the space station. The 12-day mission also will install an experiment designed to demonstrate and test the tools, technologies and techniques needed to refuel satellites in space robotically -- even satellites not designed to be serviced.

Chris Ferguson, a veteran of two previous shuttle missions, will command the flight. Doug Hurley will be the pilot, a role he filled on the STS-127 mission in 2009. Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim will be the mission specialists. Magnus spent four and a half months aboard the station beginning in November 2008. Walheim flew on the STS-110 mission in 2002 and the STS-122 mission in 2008.

STS-135 will be Atlantis' 33rd mission and the 37th shuttle flight dedicated to station assembly and maintenance. It will be the 135th and final mission of NASA's Space Shuttle Program. For more information about the STS-134 mission and the upcoming STS-135 flight, visit: www.nasa.gov/shuttle

For information about the space station, visit: www.nasa.gov/station


May 23, 2011

NASA'S TWIN CRAFT ARRIVE IN FLORIDA FOR MOON MISSION

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA's twin lunar probes have arrived in Florida to begin final preparations for a launch in late summer. The two Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory spacecraft (GRAIL) were shipped from Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, to the Astrotech payload processing facility in Titusville, Fla., Friday, May 20. NASA's dynamic duo will orbit the moon to determine the structure of the lunar interior from crust to core and to advance understanding of the thermal evolution of the moon.

"NASA's lunar twins have arrived at Cape Canaveral," said Maria Zuber, GRAIL's principal investigator, based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in Cambridge. "We're only a few full moons away from a mission that will reveal clues not only into the history of the moon and Earth, but will provide important data for future lunar exploration."

The GRAIL twins, known as GRAIL-A and GRAIL-B, were removed from their shipping containers Monday, May 23. Later this week, they will begin functional testing to verify their state of health after their ride on an Air Force transport jet from Colorado. Over the next four months at the Astrotech facility, the spacecraft will undergo final testing, fueling and packaging in the shroud that will protect them as the Delta II launch vehicle lifts them into space. The spacecraft will then be transported to the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for installation atop the rocket that will carry them toward the moon.

GRAIL will be carried into space aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II Heavy rocket lifting off from Launch Complex-19 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The launch period opens Sept. 8, 2011, and extends through Oct. 19. For a Sept. 8 liftoff, the launch window opens at 8:37 a. m. EDT (5:37 a. m. PDT) and remains open through 9:16 a. m. EDT (6:16 a. m. PDT).

GRAIL-A and GRAIL-B will fly in tandem orbits around the moon for several months to measure its gravity field in unprecedented detail. The mission will also answer longstanding questions about Earth's moon, and provide scientists a better understanding of how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system formed.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages the GRAIL mission. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, is home to the mission's principal investigator, Maria Zuber. The GRAIL mission is part of the Discovery Program managed at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft. Launch management for the mission is the responsibility of NASA's Launch Services Program at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

More information about GRAIL is available online at: solarsystem.nasa.gov/grail


May 23, 2011

U. S. HONOR FLAG TO BE PRESENTED TO NASA FOR SHUTTLE ATLANTIS FLIGHT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- A presentation ceremony of the U. S. Honor Flag to NASA will be held on Thursday, May 26, at 10:30 a. m. at the Astronaut Memorial Mirror at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. The flag will be presented by James Loftus, director, Miami-Dade Police Department, to Robert Cabana, Kennedy Space Center director, to be transferred for preparation to fly aboard shuttle Atlantis on its final mission.

The U. S. Honor Flag has traveled throughout the world honoring heroes who lost their lives while serving their community and country to include police officers, firefighters, members of the Armed Forces and astronauts. More than 100 honor guard members will travel to the Space Coast to take part in the ceremony.

For more information on the U. S. Honor Flag, visit: www.ushonorflag.org

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

For information on the Astronaut Memorial Foundation, visit: www.amfcse.org

For more information on NASA and Atlantis' final mission, visit: www.nasa.gov/shuttle


May 16, 2011

NASA'S SHUTTLE ENDEAVOUR HEADS TO SPACE STATION ON ITS FINAL MISSION

Endeavour launches.
Space shuttle Endeavour's main engines and solid rocket boosters burst to life lifting the shuttle from Launch Pad 39A Monday morning.
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Space shuttle Commander Mark Kelly and his five crewmates are on their way to the International Space Station after launching from NASA's Kennedy Space Center at 8:56 a. m. EDT Monday. The STS-134 mission is the penultimate orbiter flight and the final one for shuttle Endeavour.

"This mission represents the power of teamwork, commitment and exploration," Commander Mark Kelly said shortly before liftoff. "It is in the DNA of our great country to reach for the stars and explore. We must not stop. To all the millions watching today including our spouses, children, family and friends, we thank you for your support."

The crew will deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-2 (AMS) and critical supplies to the space station, including two communications antennas, a high-pressure gas tank and additional parts for the Dextre robot. AMS is a particle physics detector designed to search for various types of unusual cosmic matter. The crew also will transfer Endeavour's orbiter boom sensor system to the station, where it could assist spacewalkers as an extension for the station's robotic arm.

"Today's final launch of Endeavour is a testament to American ingenuity and leadership in human spaceflight," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "As we look toward a bright future with the International Space Station as our anchor and new destinations in deep space on the horizon, we salute the astronauts and ground crews who have ensured the orbiter's successful missions. The presence of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords at the launch inspired us all, just as America's space program has done for the past 50 years."

Kelly's crewmates are Pilot Greg H. Johnson and Mission Specialists Mike Fincke, Drew Feustel, Greg Chamitoff and Roberto Vittori of the European Space Agency. This is the first shuttle flight for Fincke and Vittori. Vittori will be the last international astronaut to fly aboard a shuttle.

Endeavour is scheduled to dock to the station at 6:15 a. m. on Wednesday. The 16-day mission includes four spacewalks. After undocking to return to Earth, Kelly and Johnson will ease the shuttle back toward the station to test new sensor technologies that could facilitate the docking of future space vehicles to the station.

The shuttle's first landing opportunity at Kennedy is scheduled for 2:32 a. m. on June 1. STS-134 is the 134th shuttle flight, the 25th flight for Endeavour and the 36th shuttle mission dedicated to station assembly and maintenance.

Mission coverage, including the latest NASA Television schedule, is available on the main space shuttle website at: www.nasa.gov/shuttle

NASA is providing continuous television and Internet coverage of the mission. NASA TV features live mission events, daily status news conferences and 24-hour commentary. For NASA TV streaming video, downlink and schedule information, visit: www.nasa.gov/ntv

Live updates to the NASA News Twitter feed will be added throughout the mission and landing. To access the feed, go to the NASA.gov home page or visit: www.twitter.com/nasa

Kelly, Johnson, Fincke and Chamitoff are providing updates to their Twitter accounts during the mission. They can be followed at:
www.twitter.com/shuttleCDRkelly
www.twitter.com/Astro_Box
www.twitter.com/AstroIronMike
www.twitter.com/Astro_Taz

For more information about the space station, visit: www.nasa.gov/station


May 2, 2011

TWO EVENTS COMMEMORATE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF U. S. HUMAN SPACEFLIGHT

WASHINGTON -- NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first U. S. manned spaceflight during two events this week around the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA Television will carry both events live.

On Wednesday, May 4, at 2 p. m. EDT, the U. S. Postal Service will unveil two new stamps at the Rocket Garden of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, located on State Road 405.

One stamp commemorates NASA's Project Mercury and Alan Shepard's historic launch on May 5, 1961, aboard the spacecraft Freedom 7. The second stamp honors NASA's MESSENGER, which reached Mercury in March to become the first spacecraft to orbit the planet. The two missions frame a remarkable 50-year period in which America advanced space exploration through more than 1,500 manned and unmanned flights.

Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter and members of the Shepard family will join Bolden at the stamps' unveiling and at a 50th anniversary ceremony on Thursday, May 5, at 9 a. m., at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The Thursday event includes a re-creation of Shepard's flight and recovery, as well as a tribute to his contributions as a moonwalker on the Apollo 14 lunar mission. KSC Director and former astronaut Bob Cabana and more than 200 workers from the original Mercury program also will be in attendance.

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

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

For a photo gallery of Shepard's flight and an interactive timeline of key NASA milestones, visit: www.nasa.gov/50th

For more information about the MESSENGER mission, visit: www.nasa.gov/messenger


April 19, 2011

NASA SETS LAUNCH DATE FOR SPACE SHUTTLE ENDEAVOUR MISSION

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Space shuttle Commander Mark Kelly and his five crewmates are scheduled to begin a 14-day mission to the International Space Station with a launch at 3:47 p. m. EDT on Friday, April 29, from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The STS-134 mission is shuttle Endeavour's final scheduled flight.

The launch date was announced Tuesday at the conclusion of a flight readiness review at Kennedy. During the meeting, senior NASA and contractor managers assessed the risks associated with the mission and determined the shuttle and station's equipment, support systems and personnel are ready.

The crew will deliver a particle physics detector, known as the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-2 (AMS) to the station. AMS is designed to measure cosmic rays to search for various types of unusual matter, such as dark matter and antimatter. The instrument's experiments will help researchers study the formation of the universe. Endeavour also will deliver the Express Logistics Carrier 3, a platform that carries spare parts to sustain station operations after the shuttles are retired from service. The mission will feature the last four spacewalks by a shuttle crew. The spacewalkers will do maintenance work, install new components, and perform a complex series of tasks to top off the ammonia in one of the station's photovoltaic thermal control system cooling loops.

The crew consists of Commander Kelly, Pilot Greg H. Johnson, NASA Mission Specialists Michael Fincke, Andrew Feustel and Greg Chamitoff and European Space Agency Mission Specialist Roberto Vittori. They are scheduled to arrive at Kennedy on Tuesday, April 26, for final launch preparations.

STS-134 is the 134th shuttle mission, Endeavour's 25th flight and the 36th shuttle mission to the station.

For more information about the STS-134 mission, visit: www.nasa.gov/shuttle

For more information about the space station, visit: www.nasa.gov/station


Employees support Shuttle Endeavour
We're Behind You, Endeavour
Employees gather to hold up a banner to commemorate space shuttle Endeavour's STS-134 mission, as it is moved from Orbiter Processing Facility-2 to the Vehicle Assembly Building.
Image credit: NASA/Jack Pfaller, Feb. 28, 2011


April 18, 2011

NASA AWARDS NEXT SET OF COMMERCIAL CREW DEVELOPMENT AGREEMENTS

WASHINGTON -- NASA has awarded four Space Act Agreements in the second round of the agency's Commercial Crew Development (CCDev2) effort. Each company will receive between $22 million and $92.3 million to advance commercial crew space transportation system concepts and mature the design and development of elements of their systems, such as launch vehicles and spacecraft.

The selectees for CCDev2 awards are:

"We're committed to safely transporting U. S. astronauts on American-made spacecraft and ending the outsourcing of this work to foreign governments," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "These agreements are significant milestones in NASA's plans to take advantage of American ingenuity to get to low-Earth orbit, so we can concentrate our resources on deep space exploration."

The goal of CCDev2 is to accelerate the availability of U. S. commercial crew transportation capabilities and reduce the gap in American human spaceflight capability. Through this activity, NASA also may be able to spur economic growth as potential new space markets are created. Once developed, crew transportation capabilities could become available to commercial and government customers.

"The next American-flagged vehicle to carry our astronauts into space is going to be a U. S. commercial provider," said Ed Mango, NASA's Commercial Crew Program manager. "The partnerships NASA is forming with industry will support the development of multiple American systems capable of providing future access to low-Earth orbit."

These awards are a continuation of NASA's CCDev initiatives, which began in 2009 to stimulate efforts within U. S. industry to develop and demonstrate human spaceflight capabilities. For more information about NASA's Commercial Crew Program, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/exploration


April 12, 2011

NASA ANNOUNCES NEW HOMES FOR SHUTTLE ORBITERS AFTER RETIREMENT

WASHINGTON -- After 30 years of spaceflight, more than 130 missions, and numerous science and technology firsts, NASA's space shuttle fleet will retire and be on display at institutions across the country to inspire the next generation of explorers and engineers.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on Tuesday announced the facilities where four shuttle orbiters will be displayed permanently at the conclusion of the Space Shuttle Program. Shuttle Enterprise, the first orbiter built, will move from the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York. The Udvar-Hazy Center will become the new home for shuttle Discovery, which retired after completing its 39th mission in March. Shuttle Endeavour, which is preparing for its final flight at the end of the month, will go to the California Science Center in Los Angeles. Atlantis, which will fly the last planned shuttle mission in June, will be displayed at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida.

"We want to thank all of the locations that expressed an interest in one of these national treasures," Bolden said. "This was a very difficult decision, but one that was made with the American public in mind. In the end, these choices provide the greatest number of people with the best opportunity to share in the history and accomplishments of NASA's remarkable Space Shuttle Program. These facilities we've chosen have a noteworthy legacy of preserving space artifacts and providing outstanding access to U. S. and international visitors."

NASA also announced that hundreds of shuttle artifacts have been allocated to museums and education institutions.

Various shuttle simulators for the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum of McMinnville, Ore., and Texas A&M's Aerospace Engineering Department. Full fuselage trainer for the Museum of Flight in Seattle Nose cap assembly and crew compartment trainer for the National Museum of the U. S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio Flight deck pilot and commander seats for NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston Orbital maneuvering system engines for the U. S. Space and Rocket Center of Huntsville, Ala., National Air and Space Museum in Washington, and Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum

For more information about other shuttle program artifacts that are available to museums and libraries, visit: gsaxcess.gov/htm/nasa/userguide/NASA_SSPA_Pamphlet.pdf

NASA also is offering shuttle heat shield tiles to schools and universities that want to share technology and a piece of space history with their students. Schools can request a tile at: gsaxcess.gov/NASAWel.htm

For a map of the future locations for the orbiters and shuttle artifacts and for more information on visiting the facilities, visit: www.nasa.gov/topics/shuttle_station/features/shuttle_map.html

For more information about NASA's placement of the space shuttle orbiters, visit: www.nasa.gov/transition

For information about the Space Shuttle Program, visit: www.nasa.gov/shuttle



KSC Home to Shuttle Atlantis
Kennedy visitors will see shuttle Atlantis as it worked in space, with cargo bay doors open and arm extended. (Time: 5:03)


Administrator Bolden on the Shuttle's 30th Anniversary
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden speaks on the 30th anniversary of the space shuttle program and announces the locations which will host the orbiters after retirement. (Time: 13:12)


April 11, 2011

NASA TO HOLD 30TH ANNIVERSARY CEREMONY AT KENNEDY SPACE CENTER AND ANNOUNCE PERMANENT SPACE SHUTTLE LOCATIONS

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will participate in a ceremony at the Kennedy Space Center, Fla., on Tuesday, April 12, on the 30th anniversary of the first space shuttle launch. During the 1 p. m. EDT ceremony, Bolden and Kennedy Center Director Bob Cabana will honor the shuttle work force's dedication, which has made it possible for NASA to take the next steps in exploration and retire the shuttle fleet later this year.

During the ceremony, which will feature an astronaut from the first shuttle mission, Bolden also will name the four institutions that will receive a shuttle orbiter for permanent display. The announcement and ceremony will air live on NASA Television and the agency's website: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv

The 1 p. m. ceremony is open to Kennedy employees and will take place outside the hangar for shuttle Atlantis, known as Orbiter Processing Facility-1. Atlantis is being prepared for its upcoming STS-135 mission to the International Space Station, the final flight of the Space Shuttle Program.

For more information about NASA's placement of the space shuttle orbiters, visit: www.nasa.gov/transition

For information about the Space Shuttle Program, visit: www.nasa.gov/shuttle


March 18, 2011

NASA RELEASES FIRST-EVER HD FOOTAGE OF SRB RECOVERY SHIP MISSION

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- For the first time, NASA has released high-definition video taken during the retrieval of solid rocket booster segments from the Atlantic Ocean. The solid rocket boosters provided 144 million pounds of thrust for the final launch of space shuttle Discovery on its STS-133 mission.

After each shuttle launch, crew members of the Liberty Star and Freedom Star retrieval ships pull the spent boosters out of the ocean and return them to Hangar AF at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. After they are processed, the boosters are transported to Utah, where they are refurbished and stored, if necessary.

The video includes high-definition video footage from the recovery ships and time-lapse footage of recovery efforts on Freedom Star.

The footage was captured with a Panasonic HPX 3700 high-definition, cinema-style camera with 1080 progressive scanning at 24 frames per second.

The video will be broadcast on NASA Television's Video File. For NASA TV downlink information, schedules and links to streaming video, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv

To view the video on the Kennedy YouTube page, visit: http://www.youtube.com/nasakennedy

For more information about the Space Shuttle Program, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/shuttle


March 9, 2011

SPACE SHUTTLE DISCOVERY RETURNS HOME AFTER FINAL MISSION

Space Shuttle Discovery's final landing.
Space shuttle Discovery lands at Kennedy Space Center in Florida to complete its 39th and final flight.
Image credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Space shuttle Discovery and its six-astronaut crew ended a 13-day journey of more than five million miles and concluded the spacecraft's illustrious 27-year career with an 11:57 a. m. EST landing Wednesday at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

STS-133 was the last mission for the longest-serving veteran of NASA's space shuttle fleet. Since 1984, Discovery flew 39 missions, spent 365 days in space, orbited Earth 5,830 times and traveled 148,221,675 miles.

"Discovery is an amazing spacecraft and she has served her country well," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "The success of this mission and those that came before it is a testament to the diligence and determination of everyone who has worked on Discovery and the Space Shuttle Program, over these many years. As we celebrate the many accomplishments of this magnificent ship, we look forward to an exciting new era of human spaceflight that lies ahead."

Steve Lindsey commanded the flight and was joined by Pilot Eric Boe and Mission Specialists Alvin Drew, Steve Bowen, Michael Barratt and Nicole Stott. Discovery delivered the Pressurized Multipurpose Module, or PMM, which was converted from the Multipurpose Logistics Module, Leonardo. The PMM can host experiments in fluid physics, materials science, biology, biotechnology and other areas.

STS-133 also brought critical spare components and the Express Logistics Carrier 4 to the International Space Station. Robonaut 2, or R2, became the first human-like robot in space and a permanent resident of the station. The mission's two spacewalks assisted in outfitting the truss of the station and completed a variety of other tasks designed to upgrade station systems.

A welcome ceremony for the astronauts will be held Thursday, March 10, in Houston. The public is invited to attend the 4 p. m. CST event at Ellington Field's NASA Hangar 276. Gates to Ellington Field will open at 3:30 p. m.

Highlights from the ceremony will be broadcast on NASA Television's Video File. For NASA TV downlink information, schedules and links to streaming video, visit: www.nasa.gov/ntv

STS-133 was the 133rd shuttle flight and the 35th shuttle mission dedicated to station assembly and maintenance. With Discovery and its crew safely home, the stage is set for the launch of shuttle Endeavour on its STS-134 mission, targeted to lift off on April 19.

Endeavour's flight will deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) to the space station. AMS will use the unique environment of space to advance knowledge of the universe, leading to a better understanding of the universe's origin by searching for antimatter, dark matter and strange matter, and by measuring cosmic rays.

The AMS will be attached to the outside of the station on the starboard truss. The device is expected to remain active for 10 or more years. Endeavour also will fly the Express Logistics Carrier 3, a platform that carries a number of spare parts that will sustain space station operations after the shuttles are retired from service.

For more information about the STS-133 mission and the upcoming STS-134 flight, visit: www.nasa.gov/shuttle

For information about the space station, visit: www.nasa.gov/station


Feb. 24, 2011

NASA'S SHUTTLE DISCOVERY HEADS TO SPACE STATION ON ITS FINAL MISSION

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- The final flight of space shuttle Discovery lifted off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center at 4:53 p. m. EST Thursday to deliver a new module and critical supplies to the International Space Station.

The STS-133 mission is delivering the Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM), a facility created from the Multi-Purpose Logistics Module named Leonardo. The module can support microgravity experiments in areas such as fluid physics, materials science, biology and biotechnology. Inside the PMM is Robonaut 2, a dextrous robot that will become a permanent resident of the station. Discovery also is carrying critical spare components to the space station and the Express Logistics Carrier 4, an external platform that holds large equipment.

"With Discovery's mission, the United States once again reaches for new heights, pushes the boundaries of human achievement and contributes to our long-term future in space," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "Discovery's crew - including the first-ever dexterous robot crew member, Robonaut 2 - will continue America's leadership in human and robotic spaceflight, and support important scientific and technical research aboard the space station."

STS-133 Commander Steve Lindsey will command the flight. He is joined on the mission by Pilot Eric Boe and Mission Specialists Alvin Drew, Steve Bowen, Michael Barratt and Nicole Stott. Bowen replaced Tim Kopra as mission specialist 2 following a bicycle injury on Jan. 15 that prohibited Kopra from supporting the launch window. Bowen last flew on Atlantis in May 2010 as part of the STS-132 crew. Flying on the STS-133 mission will make Bowen the first astronaut ever to fly on consecutive missions.

The shuttle crew is scheduled to dock to the station at 2:16 p. m. on Saturday, Feb. 26. The mission's two spacewalks will focus on outfitting the station and storing spare components outside the complex. v After completing the 11-day flight, the shuttle's first landing opportunity at Kennedy is scheduled for 12:44 p. m. on Monday, March 7. STS-133 is the 133rd shuttle flight, the 39th flight for Discovery and the 35th shuttle mission dedicated to station assembly and maintenance.

NASA's Web coverage of STS-133 includes mission information, a press kit, interactive features, news conference images, graphics and videos. Mission coverage, including the latest NASA Television schedule, is available on the main space shuttle website at: www.nasa.gov/shuttle

NASA is providing continuous television and Internet coverage of the mission. NASA TV features live mission events, daily status news conferences and 24-hour commentary. For NASA TV streaming video, downlink and schedule information, visit: www.nasa.gov/ntv


Feb. 14, 2011

NASA AND PALM BEACH COUNTY PROVIDE UNIQUE STUDENT EXPERIENCE

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA is partnering with the South Florida Science Museum, West Palm Beach, Fla., and the school district of Palm Beach County to inspire and encourage underrepresented students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

The event, in honor of African-American History month, will take place Feb. 15-18, 2011, at the museum and area elementary and middle schools. More than 1,000, fifth- and eighth-grade students will have the opportunity to interact with minority role-model speakers, participate in hands-on educational activities and view astronomy presentations in Kennedy Space Center's portable planetarium.

Educational outreach activities will take place at the South Florida Science Museum on Feb. 15 and will involve the following schools:

Activities on the remaining dates will take place on-site at the following schools: For more information on NASA's education programs, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/education

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


Feb. 10, 2011

NASA PRESENTS SAFETY AWARD TO PATRICIA STRATTON

WASHINGTON -- NASA has presented its Quality and Safety Achievement Recognition, or QASAR, award for 2010 to Patricia J. Stratton of Merritt Island, Fla.

The QASAR award recognizes individual government and contractor employees who have demonstrated exemplary performance in contributing to the quality or safety of products, services, processes, or management programs and activities.

A NASA contractor employee of United Space Alliance, or USA, of Houston, Stratton received the award for devising a work force retention program that has enabled space shuttle workers to maintain their focus on safety and quality as that NASA program draws to a close.

Through the initiatives developed by Stratton, who is USA's associate program manager for ground operations at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, employees can take advantage of educational, financial and emotional assistance; specialized recognition and award programs; compensation packages designed to make use of their critical skills until the last shuttle flies and then ease their transition into other employment; and skills training and certification.

"We are extremely proud of Patty," said Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana. "She continuously sets the highest standards in Safety and Quality and effectively provides the leadership for the USA work force to meet them. Her genuine concern for the workers has enabled employees to remain focused on meeting and exceeding NASA's quality and safety goals during a challenging time of transition."

Stratton was recognized along with four other award recipients Feb. 10 at the agency's eighth annual Project Management Challenge in Long Beach, Calif.

For more information about the Quality and Safety Achievement Recognition award program, visit: www.hq.nasa.gov/office/codeq/qasar/


Feb. 1, 2011

NASA AND PINELLAS COUNTY PROVIDE UNIQUE EXPERIENCE FOR STUDENTS

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA is partnering with the Pinellas Science Center, St. Petersburg, Fla., and the Pinellas County School System to inspire and encourage underrepresented students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

The event, in honor of African-American History month, will take place Feb. 8-11, 2011, at the science center and area elementary and middle schools. More than 1,000 fifth- and eighth-grade students will have the opportunity to interact with minority role-model speakers, participate in hands-on educational activities and view astronomy presentations in Kennedy Space Center's portable planetarium.

Educational outreach activities will take place at the Pinellas Science Center on Feb. 10. Activities on the remaining dates will take place on-site at the following schools:

For more information on NASA's education programs, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/education

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


Jan. 24, 2011

NASA EXPLORES POTENTIAL NEW USERS FOR SOME KENNEDY FACILITIES

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA has released a formal Notice of Availability (NOA) and Request for Information (RFI) to identify interest from industry for space processing and support facilities at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The facilities may become available for space-related commercial use following the end of the Space Shuttle Program.

The facilities that may become available are well-suited for entities operating or directly supporting government or commercial launches or space user services.

"Kennedy has been working for some time to enable commercial space activities at the center that are in line with NASA's mission," Kennedy Center Director Bob Cabana said. "Partnering with the commercial space industry will help NASA meet its goals and help sustain facility assets to support our nation's space objectives."

The announcement groups facilities into four classes: space vehicle processing and launch facilities; off-line processing facilities; payload processing facilities; and miscellaneous facilities. Facilities listed in the announcement include: Launch Pads 39A and B, the Vehicle Assembly Building, Orbiter Processing Facilities and the Shuttle Landing Facility.

NASA reserves the right to subsequently remove facilities from this list if the agency determines it needs them for its own requirements. NASA also may pursue other options for disposition of the listed facilities if in the government's best interests.

NASA has received previous commercial interest in some of the facilities at the center. This notice is another step in efforts to build awareness with industry about potentially available center assets. It was issued to provide the widest notice about facilities and to ensure fairness to interested parties.

For more information about the NOA/RFI, visit: http://prod.nais.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/eps/bizops. cgi? gr=D& pin=76#145065

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


Jan. 12, 2011

KENNEDY HOLDS CEREMONY FOR NASA'S GREENEST FACILITY ON JAN. 20

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Kennedy Space Center is having a ribbon-cutting ceremony for NASA's greenest building, Propellants North Administrative and Maintenance Facility, on Thursday, Jan. 20, at 10:30 a. m. EST.

Propellants North consists of two buildings, one to store cryogenic fuel transfer equipment and one to house personnel who support fueling spacecraft. The recently rebuilt buildings will be NASA's first carbon neutral facility, which means it will produce enough energy on site from renewable sources to offset what it requires to operate. The facility also will reach for the U. S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) Platinum status, which is the highest LEED rating.

In addition to its environmentally friendly features, such as a rainwater harvesting system for non-potable water irrigation and restroom use and more than 300 high-efficient solar panels on the roof, Propellants North has some very NASA Kennedy Space Center-specific touches. These include reusing deconstructed windows and framing from the historic Launch Control Center and landscaping mulch made from recycled crushed crawlerway rocks.

Video highlights of the facility's construction and ribbon-cutting event will air on NASA Television's Video File Thursday afternoon. For NASA TV downlink information, schedules and links to streaming video, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv

Images of the events will be posted on Kennedy's Media Gallery at: http://mediaarchive.ksc.nasa.gov

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


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2010

Dec. 30, 2010

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER 2010 REVIEW, LOOK AHEAD

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – In 2010, NASA's Kennedy Space Center helped begin a new volume to the agency's space exploration book as the storied Space Shuttle Program entered into its final chapters.

Kennedy teams were involved in launching five missions this year; two on expendable launch vehicles and three on space shuttles. And on Dec. 8, SpaceX's successfully launched its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The flight was the first for NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program, which is developing commercial supply services to the International Space Station. It was also the first time a commercial company launched and returned a spacecraft to Earth.

Commercial companies going to low Earth orbit for both cargo and crewed missions was the focus of a new direction for NASA announced in February by the White House. That was followed up by a visit by President Obama to Kennedy on April 15 to outline details of his plans for the future of U. S. leadership in human spaceflight. The president committed NASA to a series of developmental goals leading to new spacecraft for reaching low Earth orbit and new technology for potential missions beyond the moon. The president's visit preceded NASA's Conference on the American Space Program for the 21st Century, held at the center's Operations and Checkout Building and Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

NASA's Launch Services Program based at Kennedy started its year on Feb. 11 by sending the agency's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) into space aboard an Atlas V rocket Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. SDO is a first-of-its-kind mission to reveal the sun's inner workings in unprecedented detail.

Less than a month later, NASA's latest Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite, or GOES-P, lifted off aboard a Delta IV rocket from Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The latest National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellite joined four other similar spacecraft to improve weather forecasting and monitoring of environmental events.

Just three days before the Launch Services Program's first flight of 2010, NASA's Space Shuttle Program launched its first of three missions this year aboard shuttle Endeavour on Feb. 8. STS-130's six astronauts delivered the Tranquility node and cupola to the International Space Station during the two week flight.

On April 5, space shuttle Discovery launched on its STS-131 mission to deliver science experiments, equipment and supplies to the space station. Discovery and its seven astronaut crew landed at Kennedy 15-days later.

What turned out to be the final shuttle mission of the year, STS-132, lifted off on May 14. Shuttle Atlantis and its six astronauts deliver the Russian-built Mini Research Module, cargo and critical spare parts to the station. Atlantis touched down at Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility after the 12-day mission.

STS-132 was the last scheduled space flight for Atlantis. Currently, it's planned to be used as the "launch on need," or potential rescue mission for the final scheduled shuttle flight, Endeavour's STS-134 mission. Among the new directions in the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 passed by Congress in September and signed by President Obama in October was the approval to turn Atlantis' planned rescue mission into an actual flight to the space station in the summer of 2011. NASA intends to fly this flight pending resolution of funding considerations.

The last scheduled shuttle mission for the year was supposed to be Discovery's STS-133 mission to bring the final pressurized module to be added to the U. S. portion of the International Space Station. Now STS-133 will be the first flight of 2011. A hydrogen gas leak on Discovery's external fuel tank scrubbed a Nov. 5 launch attempt. Then engineers discovered that small cracks on the tops of two support beams, called stringers, on the tank formed during the Nov. 5 fueling process. Engineers spent the next month collecting and analyzing data before performing a tanking test on Dec. 10 where the external tank again was filled with super-cold propellants while sensors recorded its movements and temperatures in an effort to understand why the stringer cracks occurred in the first place.

On Dec. 22, Discovery was rolled off Launch Pad 39A and back into the Vehicle Assembly Building for more tank analysis and possible modifications, if the data indicates that's needed. Managers are planning to return Discovery to the pad in January to support another launch attempt in February.

Two very visual signs the Space Shuttle Program is retiring came in 2010. In May, the final shuttle solid rocket boosters segments arrived at Kennedy by rail. The segments will be used for Atlantis, whether it's a potential rescue flight or real mission to the space station. Then in September, the final external tank to be delivered to Kennedy arrived and began being prepared for Endeavour's STS-134 mission.

Even before the Obama Administration began taking NASA in a new direction for life after space shuttles, Kennedy management already was focusing on bringing new commercial companies to the space center. In June, the official groundbreaking ceremony for NASA and Space Florida's new technology and commerce park, known as Exploration Park at Kennedy was held outside the Space Life Sciences Laboratory. Exploration Park is designed to be a strategically located complex for servicing diverse tenants and uses that will engage in activities to support the space and space-related activities of NASA, other government agencies and the U. S. commercial space industry, as well as bring new aerospace work to the Space Coast.

Kennedy management also set up a new Center Planning and Development Office to enhance the economic vitality of Kennedy. Last spring, the office created a new web site aimed at making it easier to partner and do business with the space center, http://kscpartnerships.ksc.nasa.gov/.

After supporting its last space shuttle in 2009, Kennedy's Launch Pad 39B began being deconstructed this year to convert it from a shuttle launch pad to a commercial launch site that could host multiple types of spacecraft.

Phase one of NASA's new mobile launcher was completed this year. The 355 foot tall tower could be converted to support commercial launch vehicles or possibly even large heavy-lift rockets.

Four-years worth of upgrades to Kennedy's Launch Equipment Test Facility also were completed this summer. The LETF, which has fixtures that can simulate launch conditions, can support the Space Shuttle Program in its final months, as well as the Launch Services Program and commercial companies in the coming years.

To support the agency's new direction, the space transportation planning office was established at Kennedy to help develop a commercial capability to low-Earth orbit leading to astronaut launch services that NASA could buy to the International Space Station in the 2015 timeframe. The 21st Launch Complex program was established to help modernize Kennedy's infrastructure and facilities and transform them from a space shuttle launch port into a multi-purpose launch complex that could support many different companies. Kennedy also is working on technology demonstration spaceflight plans that will support NASA's new long-term exploration goals.

To help employees with the Space Shuttle Program retirement, Kennedy held two large-scale job fairs this year, one in May and the other in September, along with months of career-building courses and other work force support efforts. In June, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis announced that the U. S. Department of Labor awarded a $15 million grant to assist workers in Florida who will be affected by the end of the shuttle program.

Also this summer, the White House established the Presidential Task Force on Space Industry Work Force and Economic Development, which examined how to use a $40 million, multi-agency initiative for regional economic growth and help prepare space industry workers for future opportunities. The Federal Aviation Administration also began establishing an office at Kennedy this year to help support the commercial human launch services endeavor.

Kennedy also expanded its "green space" efforts in 2010. On April 8, NASA, Florida Power & Light (FPL) and political leaders commissioned FPL's Space Coast Next Generation Solar Energy Center at Kennedy Space Center. The 10-megawatt solar-power facility will provide electricity to more than 1,000 Florida homes and reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions by more than 227,000 tons. In December, Kennedy's new Propellants North Administration and Maintenance Facility was reopened for business. It will be one of NASA's "greenest" facility, expected to achieve the U. S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) Platinum status, the highest rating. And this summer, Kennedy helped with the unprecedented effort to save wildlife from the effects of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Hundreds of endangered sea turtle eggs were brought to a hatchery at Kennedy and then the baby turtles were released into the Atlantic Ocean off Kennedy's Central Florida coast.

Kennedy also hosted the first two forums for a new initiative designed to identify and support innovative work that will contribute to a sustainable future. Called Launch, NASA along with the other founder partners, the U. S. Agency for International Development, the U. S. State Department and Nike, brought experts together in March to focus on "water. " Then in October, Launch turned its attention to "health. " Launch plans other forums in 2011. On the education front, on May 28 NASA's first Lunabotics Mining Competition, hosted by Kennedy Space Center's Education Programs and University Research Division, drew more than 20 university teams to design and build remote controlled or autonomous excavators, called lunabots. The 2011 competition is expected to be even bigger.

On July 1, NASA helped welcome more than 100 people as new U. S. citizens during a naturalization ceremony at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services administered the Oath of Allegiance to candidates representing 36 countries. This was the first time a NASA facility hosted a naturalization ceremony.

And as the Space Shuttle Program winds down and new programs start up, Kennedy Space Center looks forward to hosting many new "first time" events and milestones in the coming decade. For more information about NASA's Kennedy Space Center, visit: www.nasa.gov/kennedy


Dec. 8, 2010

NASA ADMINISTRATOR BOLDEN'S STATEMENT ON FALCON 9 LAUNCH

WASHINGTON -- NASA Administrator Charles Bolden issued the following statement about SpaceX's launch of the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule:

"While rocket launches from the Cape are considered a common occurrence, the historic significance of today's achievement by SpaceX should not be lost.

"This is the first in a new generation of commercial launch systems that will help provide vital support to the International Space Station and may one day carry astronauts into orbit. This successful demonstration flight is an important milestone in meeting the objectives outlined by President Obama and Congress, and shows how government and industry can leverage expertise and resources to foster a new and vibrant space economy.

"These new explorers are to spaceflight what Lindbergh was to commercial aviation."

The Falcon 9 launch is part of NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program. For more information, visit: www.nasa.gov/cots

NASA Television's Video File will air b-roll of the launch. For scheduling information, visit: www.nasa.gov/ntv

The launch video also will be available on NASA TV's YouTube channel, at: www.youtube.com/NASAtelevision/


Dec. 7, 2010

DEMONSTRATION FLIGHT OF FALCON 9 ROCKET SET FOR WEDNESDAY

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- The first demonstration flight of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule for NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program has been scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 8, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The launch window extends from 9 a. m. to 12:22 p. m. EST.

During a routine inspection this week, SpaceX engineers observed two small cracks in the rocket's second stage engine nozzle. SpaceX completed repairs to the cracked nozzle Tuesday.

Live coverage of the launch will air on NASA Television and the agency's website. For streaming information, visit: www.nasa.gov/ntv

For more information about the launch, visit: www.nasa.gov/cots


Nov. 18, 2010

NASA AWARDS KENNEDY SPACE CENTER ENGINEERING SERVICES CONTRACT

WASHINGTON -- NASA has selected QinetiQ North America of McLean, Va., to provide engineering services and products at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The new cost-plus-award-fee contract begins on March 1, 2011. It has a five-year base period with three, one-year option periods. The maximum potential value of the contract is approximately $1.959 billion.

Under the contract, QinetiQ North America will support an institutional capability for the engineering development of ground systems and equipment for handling, testing, servicing and other ground processing of launch vehicles, spacecraft and payloads.

The contract provides spaceflight systems engineering and analysis of launch vehicle and spacecraft-payload systems and subsystems. It also performs science and technology development to address Kennedy and the agency's future operational needs.

Additionally, it will provide maintenance and operations at assigned laboratories, developmental shops and crosscutting technical services.

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


Nov. 15, 2010

NASA AWARDS LIQUID HYDROGEN CONTRACT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA has selected Air Products and Chemicals Inc. of Allentown, Pa., for the follow-on contract for the agencywide acquisition of liquid hydrogen.

The fixed price, requirements follow-on contract begins Dec. 1, 2010. It has a one-year base performance period with a one-year option period. The maximum potential value of the contract is approximately $18 million, which is comprised of a $7 million base value and $11 million for the one-year option.

Air Products and Chemicals will supply approximately 10,860,000 pounds of liquid hydrogen to NASA's Stennis Space Center, Miss. ; Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala. ; and Kennedy Space Center, Fla., in support of the agency's Space Operations Mission Directorate and Exploration Systems 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: http://www.nasa.gov/kennedy


Nov. 2, 2010

NASA AND THE LEGO GROUP PARTNER TO INSPIRE CHILDREN TO BUILD AND EXPLORE THE FUTURE

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- A LEGO space shuttle headed to orbit helps mark the Tuesday signing of a Space Act Agreement between NASA and The LEGO Group to spark children's interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

To commemorate the beginning of this partnership, the small LEGO shuttle will launch with the crew of the space shuttle Discovery on its STS-133 mission, targeted to launch Wednesday, Nov. 3, from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The partnership marks the beginning of a three-year agreement that will use the inspiration of NASA's space exploration missions and the appeal of the popular LEGO bricks to spur children's interest in STEM. The theme of the partnership is "Building and Exploring Our Future."

The LEGO Group will release four NASA-inspired products in their LEGO CITY line next year. The space-themed products will vary in terms of complexity, engaging audiences from young children to adult LEGO fans. Each product release will contain NASA-inspired education materials.

"Partnering with The LEGO Group is a perfect fit. We have taken the excitement of NASA's missions and coupled that with kids' love of creating things with the iconic LEGO bricks," said Leland Melvin, NASA's associate administrator for Education. "These projects not only foster creativity but also instill in the young builders a real sense of the engineering and design principles that NASA uses every day. Fun learning activities like these can help inspire kids to become the next generation of explorers."

As part of the Space Act Agreement, NASA will send special LEGO sets to the International Space Station aboard shuttle Endeavour's STS-134 mission in February 2011. The sets will be assembled by astronauts on-orbit and by children and student groups across the country. The construction process and activities with the sets will demonstrate the challenges faced when building things in the microgravity environment of space.

"The LEGO Group's purpose is to inspire children to think creatively, reason systematically and release their potential to shape their own future," said Stephan Turnipseed, president of LEGO Education North America. "The partnership with NASA provides us a unique opportunity to fulfill our purpose while expanding the imaginations of children around the world. A child who plays with LEGO bricks today can become the NASA astronaut or engineer of tomorrow."

As part of the NASA-The LEGO Group partnership kick-off, a 40-feet by 70-feet activity tent will be set up Wednesday at the shuttle launch viewing site on the NASA Causeway in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Children of all ages will be invited to get creative and build their vision of the future with LEGO bricks as they await Discovery's launch. To see images of STS-133 prelaunch activities, visit: www.LEGOspace.com

Currently, the site has galleries featuring images of prelaunch activities and will add games and other activities leading up to the release of the complete line of LEGO Space City games, activities and products on March 1.

NASA's Office of Education in Washington seeks partnerships that help the agency promote student interest in STEM studies and careers. For more information about NASA's partnership with LEGO and other education programs, visit: www.nasa.gov/education


Nov. 1, 2010

NASA CELEBRATES 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF SPACE STATION WITH CREW NEWS CONFERENCE AND NEW WEB CONTENT

WASHINGTON -- The International Space Station partner agencies will mark a major milestone on Nov. 2 with the 10-year anniversary of people living permanently aboard the space station. NASA will commemorate the event with a news conference featuring the six crew members currently in orbit.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will begin the event, speaking live to the station crew at 9:30 a. m. EDT from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. His remarks and the following news conference will be broadcast live on NASA Television.

The news conference will begin immediately after the administrator's conversation with the crew and be open to participation from accredited media representatives at participating NASA or international partner locations.

Expedition 25, the 25th crew to live and work aboard the station, consists of Commander Doug Wheelock; his fellow NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Shannon Walker; and Russian cosmonauts Fyodor Yurchikhin, Alexander Kaleri and Oleg Skripochka.

The crew is awaiting the launch of space shuttle Discovery's six astronauts on the STS-133 mission to deliver supplies, spare parts and a permanent cargo module to the station. STS-133 is scheduled to lift off at 3:52 p. m. EDT on Nov. 3 from Kennedy.

"As we look forward to the next 10 years, taking us through 2020, the space station will serve many roles," said Mike Suffredini, International Space Station program manager. "With its permanent human presence, it will serve as a foothold for long-term exploration into space, being an integral part of testing human endurance, equipment reliability and processes essential for space exploration."

Since the Expedition 1 crew arrived at the station, humans have continuously occupied the orbiting laboratory. More than 196 people have visited the complex, and by the exact time of the anniversary (5:21 a. m., Nov. 2, 2000), the station will have completed 57,361 orbits of the Earth, traveling some 1.5 billion miles.

Representatives of the five international agencies that built and operate the station have agreed in principle to continuing its use for another decade. The governments of the 15 participating nations in the station partnership are in the process of formally endorsing that plan. More than 600 different research and technology development experiments have been conducted on the station, many of which are producing advances in medicine, recycling systems and a fundamental understanding of the universe.

In addition to the crew news conference, NASA is updating the content of the International Space Station section of its website in recognition of the 10th anniversary. The update supports the on-going transition from station assembly to utilization. The website now will focus on the research in the unique microgravity environment of low-Earth orbit.

The updated section of the NASA website incorporates an improved organization system to help visitors find what they are looking for with regard to research and technology development, crews and expeditions, international cooperation and the new capabilities of the station as a U. S. national laboratory.

The new space station section also provides better linkages with social media applications, including a new International Space Station Program scientist blog, and Twitter accounts for astronauts aboard the station and the National Laboratory. For more information, visit: www.nasa.gov/station

For a Flash feature and Web story on the first 10 years of human life aboard the station, visit: www.nasa.gov/externalflash/expedition_10_years

Julie Robinson, space station program scientist, is sponsoring an inside look at how research is conducted on the station through a new blog. The blog will bring to the public the stories of the researchers and their discoveries as they unfold.

For the new program scientist blog, visit: http://go.usa.gov/atI

To follow station science on Twitter, visit: www.twitter.com/@ISS_Research

To follow the station's national laboratory activities, visit: www.twitter.com/@ISS_NatLab

To follow Twitter updates from Expedition 25 astronauts Wheelock and Kelly, visit: www.twitter.com/@Astro_Wheels & www.twitter.com/@StationCDRKelly

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


Oct. 21, 2010

NASA TO MARK 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF LIFE ON SPACE STATION

WASHINGTON -- NASA will commemorate the 10th anniversary of human life, work and research on the International Space Station (ISS) with an Oct. 27 series of roundtable discussions. The events at three NASA centers and headquarters in Washington will air live on NASA Television and the agency's website www.nasa.gov/ntv.

The events will feature former space station residents, key leaders and team members who have guided the station through its first 10 years. Panelists at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida; Johnson Space Center in Houston; Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. ; and NASA Headquarters in Washington will discuss the challenges and accomplishments of the station's first decade of assembly and research and consider the promise of the upcoming decade of microgravity research.

On Nov. 2, 2000, Expedition 1 Commander Bill Shepherd and Flight Engineers Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko became the first residents of the space station. Since then, 200 explorers have visited the orbiting complex, 15 nations have contributed modules and hardware, and more than 600 experiments have been conducted aboard the station.

The Oct. 27 schedule is at Kennedy Space Center from 11:30 a. m. - 12:30 p. m. Participants: - Bob Cabana, director, Kennedy Space Center - Josie Burnett, director, ISS and spacecraft processing - Bill Dowdell, deputy director, ISS and spacecraft processing - David Bethay, director, program management development, The Boeing Company.

Johnson Space Center: 1 - 2 p.m.

Marshall Space Flight Center: 2 - 3 p.m.

NASA Headquarters: 3 - 4 p.m.


Oct. 11, 2010

NASA ADMINISTRATOR THANKS PRESIDENT OBAMA AND CONGRESS FOR AGENCY'S NEW DIRECTION SUPPORT

WASHINGTON -- The following is a statement from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden in support of President Obama's signing of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2010 on Monday, Oct. 11, 2010:

"Earlier today, President Obama signed into law the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2010. It is important bipartisan legislation that charts a new course for space exploration, science, technology development, and aeronautics. We are grateful for the President's forward-thinking plan and the hard work members of Congress put into this framework that will guide us for the coming three years.

"This legislation supports the president's ambitious plan for NASA to pioneer new frontiers of innovation and discovery. With this direction, we will extend operations on the International Space Station through at least 2020.

"We will foster a growing commercial space transportation industry that will allow NASA to focus our efforts on executing direction in the act to start work on a heavy-lift architecture to take astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit and to develop a multipurpose crew vehicle for use with our new space launch systems.

"Also, we will continue to invest in green aviation and other technologies that make air travel safer and more efficient.

"In collaboration with our international partners, industry, and academia, we will build and launch observatories and robotic missions to explore our solar system and peer through new windows into our amazing universe, as well as help us better understand our own home planet with a robust plus-up in our Earth Science program. Our education programs will build on all of this to inspire future generations of scientists, engineers, and explorers.

"We have been given a new path in space that will enable our country to develop greater capabilities, transforming the state of the art in aerospace technologies. We will continue to maintain and expand vital partnerships around the world. It will help us retool for the industries and jobs of the future that will be vital for long-term economic growth and national security.

"Our workers have been steadfast in their dedication to safety and success through this time of transition, and we salute their hard work and continued professional excellence. They will continue to be our most vital resource as we implement these plans.

"As the 2011 appropriations process moves forward, there is still a lot of hard work ahead of us in collaboration with the Congress. We are committed to work together with the continued wide public support for NASA, and the bipartisan backing of Congress. Today's vote of confidence from the president ensures America's space program will remain at the forefront of a bright future for our nation."

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


Oct. 1, 2010

INTERNATIONAL PARTNERS UPDATE SPACE STATION LAUNCH MANIFEST

WASHINGTON -- NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) agreed on Friday to update the International Space Station launch schedule.

The target launch dates for the last planned space shuttle flight, STS-134 on Endeavour, will be Feb. 27, 2011, and the Automated Transfer Vehicle-2 (ATV-2) will be Feb. 15. Roscosmos will continue to look at Soyuz launch and landing options to provide manifest robustness.

The agencies agreed to the changes during discussions at the International Astronautical Conference in Prague. Arianespace, whose Ariane 5 rocket will launch ATV-2 into orbit from French Guiana, has confirmed its commitment to launch on Feb. 15.

The STS-134 flight will deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) to the station. The AMS is a state-of-the-art cosmic ray particle physics detector designed to examine fundamental issues about matter, and the origin and structure of the universe. The flight will include three spacewalks and the installation of the AMS to the exterior of the space station using both the shuttle and station arms.

ATV-2, dubbed Johannes Kepler, is scheduled to dock on Feb. 26 to the station. The cargo craft is designed to deliver more than seven tons of experiments, fuel, water, food and other supplies to the space station. While docked, ATV-2 will use its thrusters to periodically boost the station's orbit, which decays with time. It also can be used for emergency maneuvers, such as those required if a piece of space debris is predicted to hit the station. This capability saves critical attitude control propellant for the station.

After about 3.5 months, the ATV-2 will undock from the station and burn up harmlessly in the atmosphere over an uninhabited area of the Pacific Ocean. The first ATV, Jules Verne, was launched in March 2008 and reentered the atmosphere in September 2008.

The space station launch manifest is available at: www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/structure/iss_manifest.html

For details about upcoming shuttle missions and crews, visit: www.nasa.gov/shuttle

For more information about ATV-2, visit ESA at: www.esa.int/SPECIALS/ATV

For more information about the Ariane 5 launch vehicle, visit: www.arianespace.com/launch-services/launch-services-overview. asp

For more information about the space station, visit: www.nasa.gov/station


Sept. 28, 2010

FINAL FLIGHT OF SPACE SHUTTLE DISCOVERY

HOUSTON -- Discovery is targeted to launch Nov. 1 on the 11-day STS-133 mission to the International Space Station. The shuttle will deliver the Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM), which was converted from the multi-purpose logistics module Leonardo. The PMM will provide additional storage for the station crew, and experiments may be conducted inside it. Discovery also will carry critical spare components and the Express Logistics Carrier 4, an external platform that holds large equipment that can only be transported using the unique capability of the shuttle. Robonaut 2, or R2, will be the first human-like robot in space when it flies on Discovery inside the PMM to become a permanent resident of the station.

Astronaut Steve Lindsey will command Discovery. Eric Boe is the pilot. They will be joined by Mission Specialists Alvin Drew, Tim Kopra, Michael Barratt and Nicole Stott. Kopra and Drew are scheduled to perform two spacewalks to do maintenance work and install new components.

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

For the latest information about the STS-133 mission and its crew, visit: www.nasa.gov/shuttle v For more information about the space station and its crew, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station


Sept. 24, 2010

NASA AWARDS CONTRACT TO REVITALIZE POWER DISTRIBUTION SYSTEMS

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA has selected MIL-CON Electric Company of Jacksonville, Fla., to revitalize the high and medium electric voltage power distribution systems throughout NASA's Kennedy Space Center. The value of the contract is approximately $6.1 million.

MIL-CON's scope of work includes modifications to the systems providing high voltage utility power service at Kennedy. This work will span the space center from the Industrial Area to Launch Complex 39 and will significantly improve electrical systems reliability. In addition, the contract will include substation improvement work, installation of new medium and low voltage switch equipment, and replacement of power cables approaching the end of their service life. A major electrical rehabilitation to Complex 39 launch pads and the Vehicle Assembly Building will be undertaken to support future launch programs.

The project is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2010 and will take two years to complete.

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


Sept. 23, 2010

NASA AWARDS POLY PICOSATELLITE ORBITAL DEPLOYERS CONTRACT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA has announced the award of the Poly Picosatellite Orbital Deployers, or P-POD, service contract to CaliforniaPolytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, Calif. This new contract is an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity award for five years with a maximumcumulative potential value of $5 million. The award will provide a broad range of P-POD services for NASA's CubeSat program.

CubeSats are a class of research spacecraft called nanosatellites. The cube-shaped satellites are approximately four inches long, have a volume of about one quart and weigh less than 2.2 pounds.

NASA has adapted the P-POD system for a series of small university-class, student-built satellite missions as part of the Educational Launch of Nanosatellites program. This is intended to advance the objectives of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs within educational institutions.

The first launch is planned aboard a Delta II rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., in October 2011, on a mission to launch a polar-orbiting weather and environmental satellite.

NASA's Launch Services Program office at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida is responsible for management of the P-POD contract.

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


Sept. 16, 2010

NASA AWARDS LAUNCH SERVICES CONTRACTS

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA has announced the awards for the NASA Launch Services (NLS) II Contract. The award will provide a broad range of launch services for NASA's planetary, Earth-observing, exploration and scientific satellites.

NASA has the ability to order a maximum of 70 launch services missions with a maximum cumulative potential contract value of $15 billion. The NLS II contracts are multiple award indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity, spanning a 10-year period.

NASA selected four companies for awards: Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company of Denver; Orbital Sciences Corporation of Dulles, Va. ; Space Exploration Technologies of Hawthorne, Calif. ; and United Launch Services, LLC of Littleton, Colo.

The NLS 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 provider also may offer a range of vehicles to NASA to meet higher payload weight and orbit requirements. In addition, there is an annual opportunity for additional providers and incumbents to submit proposals introducing launch services not available at the time of award, if they meet the minimum contract requirements.

The NLS II contracts support the goals and objectives of the agency's Science Mission Directorate, Space Operations Mission Directorate and Exploration Systems Mission Directorate. Under the contract, NASA also will provide launch services to other government agencies, such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

NASA's Launch Services Program Office at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida is responsible for program management.

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


Aug. 20, 2010

NASA SUPPORTS NEW FAA COMMERICAL SPACE TRANSPORTATION CENTER

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida will support the new Center of Excellence for Commercial Space Transportation (COE), a university-led consortium sponsored and announced Wednesday by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The new center will perform research and development to help build a safe and strong U. S. commercial space industry.

The nationwide team selected by the FAA and based at New Mexico State University will lead other core university members to establish and operate the new Center of Excellence (COE). Those universities include the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne and the Florida Center for Advanced Aero-Propulsion (FCAAP) in Tallahassee, which is a consortium of other Florida universities. Kennedy provided support for the COE during the development of proposals submitted to the FAA, along with a number of other industry and government affiliates.

"Kennedy Space Center is pleased to participate in the FAA's new Center of Excellence and to support this winning team," said Kennedy Center Director Bob Cabana. "We look forward to active involvement in these research and development initiatives. This collaborative effort initiated by the FAA aligns perfectly with NASA's evolving relationship and support for a vital U. S. commercial space industry and with our vision of a 21st Century Space Launch Complex."

Kennedy is prepared to serve as a flight test center for COE research efforts as they evolve through cooperative agreements among the partner institutions. The COE's research and development will be targeted on focus areas defined by the FAA.

"The FAA's new Center of Excellence will help build the nation's future space transportation capabilities," said Jim Ball, Kennedy's program manager for Strategic Partnerships.

For more information on the new FAA Center of Excellence, visit: http://www.faa.gov/go/coe

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


Aug. 17, 2010

SPACE COAST TASK FORCE DELIVERS ECONOMIC STRATEGIES REPORT

WASHINGTON -- The President's Task Force on Space Industry Workforce and Economic Development, co-chaired by NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, Jr. and U. S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, today released its report to President Barack Obama with recommendations to enhance economic development strategies along Florida's Space Coast.

The task force was charged with developing a plan for how best to invest $40 million in transition assistance from the federal government in the Space Coast region as the space shuttle program winds down.

Bolden, Locke, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, and several other senior administration officials visited the region several times since the creation of the task force to meet with area workers and experts.

"Over the past few months, we have worked diligently with local government officials, economic development agencies and affected corporations and employees to develop a comprehensive plan that will create high-skill, high-wage jobs and a strong economic base in the Space Coast," Locke said. "Space is a key driver of the 21st century American economy, and that's why the president believes so strongly in empowering NASA to pursue new avenues of discovery."

After review of the Space Coast's economic assets, employment needs, and development priorities, as well as suggestions submitted through a public website, the task force developed four key recommendations for the president:

1. To sustain regional investments already underway including:
-- Retraining resources for displaced workers
--The Space Shuttle Transition Liaison Office
-- Recovery Act funding for the region, and other government programs

2. To spur immediate opportunity by:
-- Launching a new Commercial Spaceflight Technical Center
-- Investing $600,000 of the Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration (EDA) and Small Business Administration FY 2010 budget to support small businesses and industry clusters
-- Holding a federal government job fair for the highly skilled displaced workers
-- Facilitating a technology export exposition hosted by the Department of Commerce to increase access to international markets for small- and medium-sized businesses

3. To invest in smart economic growth initiatives through a new competitive fund by:
-- Establishing a fast-track competitive grant process through the EDA

4. To build lasting infrastructure for success by:
-- Engaging a public-private partnership between the federal government, venture capitalists, and corporations to catalyze new, long-term business creation along the Space Coast

The majority of the $40 million investment will be dedicated to a fast-track competitive grant process through Commerce's EDA. Thirty-five million dollars in grants will be awarded to the most promising job creation and economic development programs, with competition announced Sept. 1. The additional $5 million will fund a new Commercial Spaceflight Technical Center to support commercial space launch and reentry activities.

"For decades, the dedicated members of the Space Coast workforce have used their wide-ranging talents to safely create, launch, and maintain some of the world's most complex aerospace and technical systems," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "As we transition to a new era in our national space policy, President Obama has made it a top priority to foster innovation and create job opportunities for those who helped make America the leader in international space exploration. The investments we're making with these Task Force recommendations are investments in our nation's most important asset -- our skilled workforce."

In addition to funding set aside in President Obama's 2011 budget for the Space Coast, another $60 million was set aside for other areas across the country that will be impacted by changes to the nation's space policy, including $45 million for economic development through EDA and another $15 million for job training activities through the Department of Labor. Earlier this year, President Obama announced a new, ambitious space initiative that includes a budget increase of $6 billion over five years to support a bold new path of innovation and discovery that will create thousands of jobs at Kennedy Space Center, on the Space Coast, and nationwide.

And in May, he established the Task Force on Space Industry Workforce and Economic Development to lead the initiative to coordinate and implement a plan to grow the region's economy and prepare its workers for the opportunities of tomorrow as the shuttle program comes to a close. The $40 million, multi-agency initiative builds on and complements ongoing local and federal economic and workforce development efforts.

To view the full task force report, visit: www.nasa.gov/spacecoasttaskforce

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


July 14, 2010

NASA SUPPORTING GULF OIL SPILL WILDLIFE RECOVER

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA's Kennedy Space Center is helping with the unprecedented effort to save wildlife from the effects of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Sea turtle hatchlings released at KSC.
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- The first group of hatchlings from endangered sea turtle eggs brought from beaches along the northern U.S. Gulf Coast are being released into the Atlantic Ocean off NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Jane Provancha, Kennedy's lead biologist at the hatchery, is heading-up the project. The release and relocation work is part of an effort by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the National Park Service, NOAA, FedEx and conservationists to help minimize the risk to this year's sea turtle hatchlings from impacts of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. This plan involves carefully moving an anticipated 700 nests deposited on Florida Panhandle and Alabama beaches during the next several months.
Note: The photos were shot using a red filter to protect the hatchlings.
Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
The first group of hatchlings from endangered sea turtle eggs brought from beaches along the northern U. S. Gulf Coast was released into the Atlantic Ocean off Kennedy's central Florida coast on July 11. Twenty-two Kemp's ridley turtles were set free on a Kennedy Space Center beach, which is part of the Canaveral National Seashore.

After being collected on June 26, the Kemp's ridley nest from Walton County, Fla., was packed in a Styrofoam box with sand and transported by a specially-equipped FexEx truck to a secure, climate-controlled facility at Kennedy where it was monitored until incubation was complete. Most of the nests that will be collected are from loggerhead turtles, but nests from leatherback and green turtles, in addition to Kemp's ridley, may be brought to the Kennedy hatchery.

Video of the hatchery at Kennedy, the nest and release of the first group of hatchlings is airing on NASA Television's Video File segment. For NASA TV downlink information, schedules and links to streaming video, visit: www.nasa.gov/ntv

Still images are available at: mediaarchive.ksc.nasa.gov

In an effort to have a minimal impact on the initial incubating eggs and hatchling releases, there are no opportunities currently planned for news media to visit the Kennedy hatchery or view a turtle release. However, as the ocean release process is refined, it is expected media opportunities will be scheduled. Media who want to be added to a notification list for opportunities should contact Pat Behnke at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The release and relocation work is part of an environmental endeavor by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the National Park Service, NOAA, FedEx and conservationists to help minimize the risk to this year's sea turtle hatchlings from impacts of the oil spill. During the next several months, this plan involves carefully moving an anticipated 700 nests to Kennedy that have been laid on Florida Panhandle and Alabama beaches.

The Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1963 as an overlay of Kennedy Space Center, where it shares the land with space shuttle launch pads, rockets and research and development facilities. As part of the Deepwater Horizon Response, six brown pelicans, four laughing gulls and one common tern also were released at Kennedy on June 6.

The complete turtle relocation plan, along with other wildlife related plans and recommended wildlife protocols, is available at: www.fws.gov/northflorida

For information about the Deepwater Horizon Response, visit: www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com

For more information about the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's oil spill response, visit: myfwc.com/OilSpill/index.htm

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


July 9, 2010

NASA AWARDS SPACE GRANT COOPERATIVE AGREEMENT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- The National Space Grant Foundation is the recipient of NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD) Space Grant Cooperative Agreement.

The agreement began July 1, 2010 and runs until June 30, 2013. The $1.8 million award will be used for ESMD Space Grant internships, senior design projects, faculty fellowships, faculty workshops, course developments and student competitions.

The program is designed to encourage college students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, also known as STEM. It is part of NASA's education strategy to attract and retain students in STEM disciplines.

Formed in 2006, the ESMD Space Grant project has provided opportunities for students and faculty through individual grants to each of the 52 Space Grant Consortia. The agreement will enable a more efficient and streamlined process for NASA and the Consortia.

The National Space Grant Foundation supports the Space Grant Consortia in every state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico by implementing education, research, and public outreach activities in STEM and additional fields, related to space, aeronautics, aviation, and Earth systems science.

For more information about the National Space Grant Foundation, visit: www.spacegrant.org/

For information on NASA's education programs, visit: www.nasa.gov/education


June 25, 2010

NASA & SPACE FLORIDA BREAK GROUND ON NEXT-GEN SCI-TECH PARK

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Work on a next-generation science and technology commerce park is under way at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla. NASA, Space Florida, and local, state and Congressional leaders held a groundbreaking ceremony Friday for Exploration Park at Kennedy's Space Life Sciences Laboratory (SLSL), adjacent to where the park will be built.

The SLSL will be the anchor facility for Exploration Park, which is expected to open its first new facility in early 2012. The park will host diverse aerospace-related research and development activities for interested commercial, civil and military tenants, and bring new work to Central Florida.

"Exploration Park will provide opportunities for enhancing commercial space capabilities to support NASA's mission, as well as the benefit of space commerce to the economy of this entire nation," said Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana. "I believe Exploration Park will play a very key role in helping Kennedy take advantage of new opportunities emerging from the transition we have begun and it will help facilitate the center's future, where we are the world's premiere spaceport, supporting a diversity of space transportation services and home to world-leading research and technology in space and space-related fields."

"Today's groundbreaking is a tremendous milestone in the transformation of Florida's $8 billion-a-year space industry and will enable the Sunshine State to tap into a greater share of the $250-billion global space marketplace," said Florida Gov. Charlie Crist.

"Exploration Park is building on Kennedy Space Center's rich history of innovation," said Florida Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp. "The types of cutting-edge businesses that will operate from Exploration Park will play a significant role in growing Florida's innovation economy. On behalf of the State of Florida, we look forward to watching Exploration Park grow to become a leading research and technology campus for our state."

Phase 1 of Exploration Park currently is expected to include eight new buildings totaling 315,000 sq. ft. NASA signed a 60-year land-use lease with Space Florida to develop 60 acres on Kennedy property for the park, which also will incorporate the SLSL and facilitate other new laboratory and high bay capabilities. To date, six Letters of Intent have been signed by potential tenants of Phase 1 facilities. These companies cannot be identified at this time as they currently are protected under Non-Disclosure Agreements with Space Florida. Tenant announcements are anticipated in the near future.

In November 2009, NASA and Florida Power & Light, Florida's largest utility, announced plans for a new research and development facility to support continual improvement of solar renewable energy that would be established by SunPower and FPL's other partners at Exploration Park. The dedicated R&D facility could result in at least 50 high-salary science and engineering positions permanently established at Kennedy by SunPower and FPL's other partners, a potential for solar panel manufacturing located nearby and new construction jobs.

"We are thankful to our State legislators for leading the charge on attracting increased commercial opportunities to our state's space industry," noted Space Florida President Frank DiBello. "More than 1,700 jobs are possible within Phase 1 of this park, and we look forward to working with a wide variety of innovative companies to establish and grow their operations here."

For information about Space Florida and Exploration Park, visit: www.spaceflorida.gov

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

Exploration Park - Kennedy Space Center, Titusville, FL
Exploration Park is adjacent to the world-class Space Life Sciences Laboratory at Kennedy Space Center. Known for its first-rate laboratory environments, SLSL has facilitated vital research for NASA's astronaut and International Space Station programs. Exploration Park tenants will be in close proximity to this innovative facility, as well as the historic launch complexes and processing infrastructure located at KSC and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station


SPACE ECONOMIC TASK FORCE SEEKS FLORIDA PUBLIC COMMENTS

WASHINGTON -- The Task Force on Space Industry Workforce and Economic Development has launched an interactive Web site to encourage public comment on ways to promote economic growth and sustainability in Florida's Space Coast region as it adapts to changes in America's space program.

The site offers valuable information about the work the administration is doing to create jobs in the region by fostering a more supportive entrepreneurial ecosystem.

"We consider the new interactive Web site an important tool to understand public concerns and challenges about the economic growth and well being of Florida's Space Coast," said Woodrow Whitlow, NASA's associate administrator for the Mission Support Directorate in Washington. "This tool and our other outreach efforts will help the task force prepare recommendations for the president that reflect the greatest needs and concerns of both the public and the area's aerospace-related industries."

On May 3, President Obama issued a presidential memorandum establishing the task force. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke are co-chairing the effort.

"President Obama is committed to helping Florida's Space Coast adapt and thrive in the years ahead," said U. S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John Fernandez. "The work of the task force adds to this administration's unprecedented level of transparency, and ensures public trust, participation and confidence. Our efforts depend on the participation of local stakeholders who will ultimately devise and implement a bottom-up, regionally driven strategic plan."

The task force will review all input. Comments can be shared at: www.nasa.gov/spacecoasttaskforce

The task force's mission is to develop an interagency strategic action plan to enhance economic development along Florida's Space Coast and related areas. Plans will include recommendations to ensure the region is equipped to adapt to changes in local economies resulting from developments in America's space program.

Among these recommendations will be a strategic investment plan for $40 million in new federal funding for the Space Coast region that the president included in his 2011 budget request. The task force will present the plan to the president by Aug. 15.

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


June 17, 2010

TO EXPLORATION PARK 'GROUNDBREAKING' EVENT AT KENNEDY

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- A groundbreaking ceremony for NASA and Space Florida's new technology and commerce park, known as "Exploration Park" at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., June 25 at 10 a.m. EDT. It will take place outside the Space Life Sciences Laboratory (SLSL).

Exploration Park is designed to be a strategically located complex, adjacent to the SLSL, for servicing diverse tenants and uses that will engage in activities to support the space and space-related activities of NASA, other government agencies and the U.S. commercial space industry, as well as bring new aerospace work to the Space Coast.

Scheduled speakers at the event include Florida Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp, Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana, Space Florida President Frank DiBello and executives from The Pizzuti Companies, Exploration Park's Master Developer.

Video highlights of the June 25 event and supporting video b-roll will air that afternoon on the NASA TV Video File. For NASA TV schedules, visit: www.nasa.gov/ntv

Images of the event will be posted that afternoon on the Kennedy Media Gallery at: mediaarchive.ksc.nasa.gov

For information about Space Florida, visit: www.spaceflorida.gov/

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


June 8, 2010

NASA RELEASES FIRST-EVER INSIDE VIEW OF SHUTTLE AFTER LANDING

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA has released the first-ever up close, high-definition video taken from inside a space shuttle during "towback" following a landing.

Shuttle Atlantis touched down at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on May 26 after 12 days in space, completing its STS-132 mission to the International Space Station.

Following every shuttle landing, about 150 trained workers assist the crew out and prepare the shuttle for towing atop a large diesel-driven tractor to its processing hangar.

The video, which includes views of Atlantis' hatch opening and closing from the inside, shows United Space Alliance employees inside Atlantis' crew compartment working through an extensive checklist to "safe" the spacecraft for towback from Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility runway to Orbiter Processing Facility-1. Inside the facility, Atlantis will be prepared for the unlikely event it is needed as a rescue spacecraft for the final planned shuttle flight, Endeavour's STS-134 mission.

The video will be broadcast on NASA Television's Video File. For NASA TV downlink information, schedules and links to streaming video, visit: www.nasa.gov/ntv

To view the video on the NASA YouTube page, visit: www.youtube.com/nasatelevision

For more information about the Space Shuttle Program, visit: www.nasa.gov/shuttle


June 4, 2010

NASA ADMINISTRATOR'S STATEMENT ON FIRST FALCON 9 LAUNCH

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- The following is a statement by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden regarding Friday's launch of Space Exploration Technologies' Falcon 9 rocket.

"Congratulations to Space X on today's launch of its Falcon 9 launch vehicle. Space X's accomplishment is an important milestone in the commercial transportation effort and puts the company a step closer to providing cargo services to the International Space Station.

"Preparations are proceeding for the first NASA-sponsored test launch under the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services project later this year. COTS is a vital development and demonstration partnership to create a commercial space transportation system capable of providing cargo to the station.

"This launch of the Falcon 9 gives us even more confidence that a resupply vehicle will be available after the space shuttle fleet is retired."

For more information about COTS, visit: www.nasa.gov/offices/c3po/about/c3po.html


June 3, 2010

NASA AND COMMERCE PRESENT UPDATE ON SPACE INDUSTRY TASK FORCE

WASHINGTON -- NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke will present an update about the Presidential Task Force on Space Industry Work Force and Economic Development..

The event will be carried live on NASA Television and also available online.

The administration recently launched a $40 million, multi-agency initiative for regional economic growth and to prepare space industry workers for future opportunities. Task force activities will complement local and federal economic and workforce-development efforts.

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


June 1, 2010

KENNEDY VISITOR COMPLEX ANNOUNCEMENT JUNE 2

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA's Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex will host Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis Wednesday, June 2, for a major announcement to assist NASA workers who will be dislocated as a result of the impending retirement of the Space Shuttle Program.

NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver will open the event, which will include Rep. Suzanne Kosmas of Florida, Brevard Workforce President Lisa Rice and other community leaders.

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


May 28, 2010

NASA RELEASES FIRST-EVER HIGH-DEF FOOTAGE OF SHUTTLE "ICE TEAM"

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – NASA has released the first-ever up close, high-definition video of Kennedy Space Center's Final Inspection Team walkdown in the final hours before a space shuttle launch. The footage was shot on May 14 at Kennedy's Launch Pad 39A during the countdown for shuttle Atlantis' STS-132 mission.

The six-member inspection team, also known as the "Ice Team," walks on every level of the launch pad's fixed service structure and mobile launcher platform base, inspecting the shuttle, external fuel tank, solid rocket boosters, pad structure and ground equipment for signs of ice buildup, debris or anything else that might be amiss prior to launch. As part of the inspection, photos are taken and transmitted to the launch team for review.

A NASA videographer was included on the team for Atlantis' launch to document this important and hazardous process. The footage was captured with a Panasonic HPX 3700 high definition, cinema-style camera with 1080 progressive scanning at 24 frames per second.

The video will be broadcast in standard definition on NASA Television's Video File. For NASA TV downlink information, schedules and links to streaming video, visit: www.nasa.gov/ntv

To view the HD video on the NASA YouTube page, visit: www.youtube.com/nasatelevision

For more information about Atlantis' STS-132 mission and the Space Shuttle Program, visit: www.nasa.gov/shuttle


May 14, 2010

NASA'S SPACE SHUTTLE ATLANTIS LIFTS OFF TO PUT FINISHING TOUCHES ON THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - One of the final space shuttle visits to the International Space Station began at 2:20 p. m. Friday with the launch of Atlantis and six astronauts from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The mission will deliver cargo, critical spare parts and a Russian laboratory to the station.

The third of five shuttle missions planned for 2010, this was the last planned launch for Atlantis. The Russian-built Mini Research Module-1 is inside the shuttle's cargo bay. Also known as Rassvet (dawn in Russian), it will provide additional storage space and a new docking port for Russian Soyuz and Progress spacecraft. The laboratory will be attached to the bottom port of the station's Zarya module.

Ham is joined on the STS-132 mission by Pilot Tony Antonelli and Mission Specialists Garrett Reisman, Michael Good, Steve Bowen, and Piers Sellers, all veteran space fliers. Good and Sellers rode Atlantis into orbit on their first space missions in 2009 and 2002, respectively.

The shuttle crew is scheduled to dock to the station at 10:27 a. m. EDT on Sunday, May 16. The mission's three spacewalks will focus on storing spare components outside the station, including six batteries, a communications antenna and parts for the Canadian Dextre robotic arm.

After completing the 12-day STS-132 mission, the shuttle's first landing opportunity at Kennedy is scheduled for 8:44 a. m. on Wednesday, May 26. STS-132 is the 132nd shuttle flight, the 32nd flight for Atlantis and the 34th shuttle mission dedicated to station assembly and maintenance.

Mission coverage, including the latest NASA Television schedule, is available on the main space shuttle Web site at: www.nasa.gov/shuttle

NASA is providing continuous television and Internet coverage of the mission. NASA TV features live mission events, daily status news conferences and 24-hour commentary. For NASA TV streaming video, downlink and schedule information, visit: www.nasa.gov/ntv

Live updates to the NASA News Twitter feed will be added throughout the mission and landing. To access the feed, go to the NASA.gov homepage or visit: www.twitter.com/nasa

For more information about the space station, visit: www.nasa.gov/station


President Obama deplains Air Force One at Kenedy Space Center
President Obama and Advisers Visit Space center
President Barack Obama, left, exits of Air Force One with, from left, Representative US Representative Suzanne M. Kosmas (D - FL), U.S Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Apollo 11 Astronaut Buzz Aldrin after landing at the NASA Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. on Thursday, April 15, 2010. Obama visited Kennedy to deliver remarks on the bold new course the administration is charting to maintain U.S. leadership in human space flight.
Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls


THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary




FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 15, 2010, 2:55 P.M. EDT

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
ON SPACE EXPLORATION IN THE 21ST CENTURY

John F. Kennedy Space Center
Merritt Island, Florida


THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, everybody. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you so much. Thank you, everybody. Please have a seat. Thank you.

I want to thank Senator Bill Nelson and NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden for their extraordinary leadership. I want to recognize Dr. Buzz Aldrin as well, who's in the house. (Applause.) Four decades ago, Buzz became a legend. But in the four decades since he's also been one of America's leading visionaries and authorities on human space flight.

Few people -- present company excluded -- can claim the expertise of Buzz and Bill and Charlie when it comes to space exploration. I have to say that few people are as singularly unimpressed by Air Force One as those three. (Laughter.) Sure, it's comfortable, but it can't even reach low Earth orbit. And that obviously is in striking contrast to the Falcon 9 rocket we just saw on the launch pad, which will be tested for the very first time in the coming weeks.   Click here for SpaceX (Falcon 9) information.

A couple of other acknowledgments I want to make. We've got Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee from Texas visiting us, a big supporter of the space program. (Applause.) My director, Office of Science and Technology Policy -- in other words my chief science advisor -- John Holdren is here. (Applause.) And most of all I want to acknowledge your congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas, because every time I meet with her, including the flight down here, she reminds me of how important our NASA programs are and how important this facility is. And she is fighting for every single one of you and for her district and for the jobs in her district. And you should know that you've got a great champion in Congresswoman Kosmas. Please give her a big round of applause. (Applause.)

I also want to thank everybody for participating in today's conference. And gathered here are scientists, engineers, business leaders, public servants, and a few more astronauts as well. Last but not least, I want to thank the men and women of NASA for welcoming me to the Kennedy Space Center, and for your contributions not only to America, but to the world.

Here at the Kennedy Space Center we are surrounded by monuments and milestones of those contributions. It was from here that NASA launched the missions of Mercury and Gemini and Apollo. It was from here that Space Shuttle Discovery, piloted by Charlie Bolden, carried the Hubble Telescope into orbit, allowing us to plumb the deepest recesses of our galaxy. And I should point out, by the way, that in my private office just off the Oval, I've got the picture of Jupiter from the Hubble. So thank you, Charlie, for helping to decorate my office. (Laughter.) It was from here that men and women, propelled by sheer nerve and talent, set about pushing the boundaries of humanity's reach.

That's the story of NASA. And it's a story that started a little more than half a century ago, far from the Space Coast, in a remote and desolate region of what is now called Kazakhstan. Because it was from there that the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the first artificial satellite to orbit the Earth, which was little more than a few pieces of metal with a transmitter and a battery strapped to the top of a missile. But the world was stunned. Americans were dumbfounded. The Soviets, it was perceived, had taken the lead in a race for which we were not yet fully prepared.

But we caught up very quick. President Eisenhower signed legislation to create NASA and to invest in science and math education, from grade school to graduate school. In 1961, President Kennedy boldly declared before a joint session of Congress that the United States would send a man to the Moon and return him safely to the Earth within the decade. And as a nation, we set about meeting that goal, reaping rewards that have in the decades since touched every facet of our lives. NASA was at the forefront. Many gave their careers to the effort. And some have given far more.

In the years that have followed, the space race inspired a generation of scientists and innovators, including, I'm sure, many of you. It's contributed to immeasurable technological advances that have improved our health and well-being, from satellite navigation to water purification, from aerospace manufacturing to medical imaging. Although, I have to say, during a meeting right before I came out on stage somebody said, you know, it's more than just Tang -- and I had to point out I actually really like Tang. (Laughter.) I thought that was very cool.

And leading the world to space helped America achieve new heights of prosperity here on Earth, while demonstrating the power of a free and open society to harness the ingenuity of its people.

And on a personal note, I have been part of that generation so inspired by the space program. 1961 was the year of my birth -- the year that Kennedy made his announcement. And one of my earliest memories is sitting on my grandfather's shoulders, waving a flag as astronauts arrived in Hawaii. For me, the space program has always captured an essential part of what it means to be an American -- reaching for new heights, stretching beyond what previously did not seem possible. And so, as President, I believe that space exploration is not a luxury, it's not an afterthought in America's quest for a brighter future -- it is an essential part of that quest.

So today, I'd like to talk about the next chapter in this story. The challenges facing our space program are different, and our imperatives for this program are different, than in decades past. We're no longer racing against an adversary. We're no longer competing to achieve a singular goal like reaching the Moon. In fact, what was once a global competition has long since become a global collaboration. But while the measure of our achievements has changed a great deal over the past 50 years, what we do -- or fail to do -- in seeking new frontiers is no less consequential for our future in space and here on Earth.

So let me start by being extremely clear: I am 100 percent committed to the mission of NASA and its future. (Applause.) Because broadening our capabilities in space will continue to serve our society in ways that we can scarcely imagine. Because exploration will once more inspire wonder in a new generation -- sparking passions and launching careers. And because, ultimately, if we fail to press forward in the pursuit of discovery, we are ceding our future and we are ceding that essential element of the American character.

I know there have been a number of questions raised about my administration's plan for space exploration, especially in this part of Florida where so many rely on NASA as a source of income as well as a source of pride and community. And these questions come at a time of transition, as the space shuttle nears its scheduled retirement after almost 30 years of service. And understandably, this adds to the worries of folks concerned not only about their own futures but about the future of the space program to which they've devoted their lives.

But I also know that underlying these concerns is a deeper worry, one that precedes not only this plan but this administration. It stems from the sense that people in Washington -- driven sometimes less by vision than by politics -- have for years neglected NASA's mission and undermined the work of the professionals who fulfill it. We've seen that in the NASA budget, which has risen and fallen with the political winds.

But we can also see it in other ways: in the reluctance of those who hold office to set clear, achievable objectives; to provide the resources to meet those objectives; and to justify not just these plans but the larger purpose of space exploration in the 21st century.

All that has to change. And with the strategy I'm outlining today, it will. We start by increasing NASA's budget by $6 billion over the next five years, even -- (applause) -- I want people to understand the context of this. This is happening even as we have instituted a freeze on discretionary spending and sought to make cuts elsewhere in the budget.

So NASA, from the start, several months ago when I issued my budget, was one of the areas where we didn't just maintain a freeze but we actually increased funding by $6 billion. By doing that we will ramp up robotic exploration of the solar system, including a probe of the Sun's atmosphere; new scouting missions to Mars and other destinations; and an advanced telescope to follow Hubble, allowing us to peer deeper into the universe than ever before.

We will increase Earth-based observation to improve our understanding of our climate and our world -- science that will garner tangible benefits, helping us to protect our environment for future generations.

And we will extend the life of the International Space Station likely by more than five years, while actually using it for its intended purpose: conducting advanced research that can help improve the daily lives of people here on Earth, as well as testing and improving upon our capabilities in space. This includes technologies like more efficient life support systems that will help reduce the cost of future missions. And in order to reach the space station, we will work with a growing array of private companies competing to make getting to space easier and more affordable. (Applause.)

Now, I recognize that some have said it is unfeasible or unwise to work with the private sector in this way. I disagree. The truth is, NASA has always relied on private industry to help design and build the vehicles that carry astronauts to space, from the Mercury capsule that carried John Glenn into orbit nearly 50 years ago, to the space shuttle Discovery currently orbiting overhead. By buying the services of space transportation -- rather than the vehicles themselves -- we can continue to ensure rigorous safety standards are met. But we will also accelerate the pace of innovations as companies -- from young startups to established leaders -- compete to design and build and launch new means of carrying people and materials out of our atmosphere.

In addition, as part of this effort, we will build on the good work already done on the Orion crew capsule. I've directed Charlie Bolden to immediately begin developing a rescue vehicle using this technology, so we are not forced to rely on foreign providers if it becomes necessary to quickly bring our people home from the International Space Station. And this Orion effort will be part of the technological foundation for advanced spacecraft to be used in future deep space missions. In fact, Orion will be readied for flight right here in this room. (Applause.)

Next, we will invest more than $3 billion to conduct research on an advanced "heavy lift rocket" -- a vehicle to efficiently send into orbit the crew capsules, propulsion systems, and large quantities of supplies needed to reach deep space. In developing this new vehicle, we will not only look at revising or modifying older models; we want to look at new designs, new materials, new technologies that will transform not just where we can go but what we can do when we get there. And we will finalize a rocket design no later than 2015 and then begin to build it. (Applause.) And I want everybody to understand: That's at least two years earlier than previously planned -- and that's conservative, given that the previous program was behind schedule and over budget.

At the same time, after decades of neglect, we will increase investment -- right away -- in other groundbreaking technologies that will allow astronauts to reach space sooner and more often, to travel farther and faster for less cost, and to live and work in space for longer periods of time more safely. That means tackling major scientific and technological challenges. How do we shield astronauts from radiation on longer missions? How do we harness resources on distant worlds? How do we supply spacecraft with energy needed for these far-reaching journeys? These are questions that we can answer and will answer. And these are the questions whose answers no doubt will reap untold benefits right here on Earth.

So the point is what we're looking for is not just to continue on the same path -- we want to leap into the future; we want major breakthroughs; a transformative agenda for NASA. (Applause.)

Now, yes, pursuing this new strategy will require that we revise the old strategy. In part, this is because the old strategy -- including the Constellation program -- was not fulfilling its promise in many ways. That's not just my assessment; that's also the assessment of a panel of respected non-partisan experts charged with looking at these issues closely. Now, despite this, some have had harsh words for the decisions we've made, including some individuals who I've got enormous respect and admiration for.

But what I hope is, is that everybody will take a look at what we are planning, consider the details of what we've laid out, and see the merits as I've described them. The bottom line is nobody is more committed to manned space flight, to human exploration of space than I am. (Applause.) But we've got to do it in a smart way, and we can't just keep on doing the same old things that we've been doing and thinking that somehow is going to get us to where we want to go.

Some have said, for instance, that this plan gives up our leadership in space by failing to produce plans within NASA to reach low Earth orbit, instead of relying on companies and other countries. But we will actually reach space faster and more often under this new plan, in ways that will help us improve our technological capacity and lower our costs, which are both essential for the long-term sustainability of space flight. In fact, through our plan, we'll be sending many more astronauts to space over the next decade. (Applause.)

There are also those who criticized our decision to end parts of Constellation as one that will hinder space exploration below [sic] low Earth orbit. But it's precisely by investing in groundbreaking research and innovative companies that we will have the potential to rapidly transform our capabilities -- even as we build on the important work already completed, through projects like Orion, for future missions. And unlike the previous program, we are setting a course with specific and achievable milestones.

Early in the next decade, a set of crewed flights will test and prove the systems required for exploration beyond low Earth orbit. (Applause.) And by 2025, we expect new spacecraft designed for long journeys to allow us to begin the first-ever crewed missions beyond the Moon into deep space. (Applause.) So we'll start -- we'll start by sending astronauts to an asteroid for the first time in history. (Applause.) By the mid-2030s, I believe we can send humans to orbit Mars and return them safely to Earth. And a landing on Mars will follow. And I expect to be around to see it. (Applause.)

But I want to repeat -- I want to repeat this: Critical to deep space exploration will be the development of breakthrough propulsion systems and other advanced technologies. So I'm challenging NASA to break through these barriers. And we'll give you the resources to break through these barriers. And I know you will, with ingenuity and intensity, because that's what you've always done. (Applause.)

Now, I understand that some believe that we should attempt a return to the surface of the Moon first, as previously planned. But I just have to say pretty bluntly here: We've been there before. Buzz has been there. There's a lot more of space to explore, and a lot more to learn when we do. So I believe it's more important to ramp up our capabilities to reach -- and operate at -- a series of increasingly demanding targets, while advancing our technological capabilities with each step forward. And that's what this strategy does. And that's how we will ensure that our leadership in space is even stronger in this new century than it was in the last. (Applause.)

Finally, I want to say a few words about jobs. Suzanne pointed out to me that the last time I was here, I made a very clear promise that I would help in the transition into a new program to make sure that people who are already going through a tough time here in this region were helped. And despite some reports to the contrary, my plan will add more than 2,500 jobs along the Space Coast in the next two years compared to the plan under the previous administration. So I want to make that point. (Applause.)

We're going to modernize the Kennedy Space Center, creating jobs as we upgrade launch facilities. And there's potential for even more jobs as companies in Florida and across America compete to be part of a new space transportation industry. And some of those industry leaders are here today. This holds the promise of generating more than 10,000 jobs nationwide over the next few years. And many of these jobs will be created right here in Florida because this is an area primed to lead in this competition.

Now, it's true -- there are Floridians who will see their work on the shuttle end as the program winds down. This is based on a decision that was made six years ago, not six months ago, but that doesn't make it any less painful for families and communities affected as this decision becomes reality.

So I'm proposing -- in part because of strong lobbying by Bill and by Suzanne, as well as Charlie -- I'm proposing a $40 million initiative led by a high-level team from the White House, NASA, and other agencies to develop a plan for regional economic growth and job creation. And I expect this plan to reach my desk by August 15th. (Applause.) It's an effort that will help prepare this already skilled workforce for new opportunities in the space industry and beyond.

So this is the next chapter that we can write together here at NASA. We will partner with industry. We will invest in cutting-edge research and technology. We will set far-reaching milestones and provide the resources to reach those milestones. And step by step, we will push the boundaries not only of where we can go but what we can do.

Fifty years after the creation of NASA, our goal is no longer just a destination to reach. Our goal is the capacity for people to work and learn and operate and live safely beyond the Earth for extended periods of time, ultimately in ways that are more sustainable and even indefinite. And in fulfilling this task, we will not only extend humanity's reach in space -- we will strengthen America's leadership here on Earth.

Now, I'll close by saying this. I know that some Americans have asked a question that's particularly apt on Tax Day: Why spend money on NASA at all? Why spend money solving problems in space when we don't lack for problems to solve here on the ground? And obviously our country is still reeling from the worst economic turmoil we've known in generations. We have massive structural deficits that have to be closed in the coming years.

But you and I know this is a false choice. We have to fix our economy. We need to close our deficits. But for pennies on the dollar, the space program has fueled jobs and entire industries. For pennies on the dollar, the space program has improved our lives, advanced our society, strengthened our economy, and inspired generations of Americans. And I have no doubt that NASA can continue to fulfill this role. (Applause.) But that is why -- but I want to say clearly to those of you who work for NASA, but to the entire community that has been so supportive of the space program in this area: That is exactly why it's so essential that we pursue a new course and that we revitalize NASA and its mission -- not just with dollars, but with clear aims and a larger purpose.

Now, little more than 40 years ago, astronauts descended the nine-rung ladder of the lunar module called Eagle, and allowed their feet to touch the dusty surface of the Earth's only Moon. This was the culmination of a daring and perilous gambit -- of an endeavor that pushed the boundaries of our knowledge, of our technological prowess, of our very capacity as human beings to solve problems. It wasn't just the greatest achievement in NASA's history -- it was one of the greatest achievements in human history.

And the question for us now is whether that was the beginning of something or the end of something. I choose to believe it was only the beginning.

So thank you. God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America. Thank you. (Applause.)

END 3:21 P.M. EDT


April 12, 2010
THE WHITE HOUSE

PRESIDENT OBAMA TO DELIVER REMARKS AT KENNEDY SPACE CENTER

WASHINGTON - On the afternoon of Thursday, April 15 President Barack Obama will visit Cape Canaveral, Florida and deliver remarks on thebold new course the Administration is charting for NASA and the future of U.S. leadership in human space flight.

Air Force One will arrive and deparg from the Shuttle Landing Facility. His presentation will be at the NASA Operations and Checkout Building.
Air Force One Scheduled Arrival: 1:30 PM.
Air Force One Scheduled Departure: 3:45 PM.
The event will be streamed at: www.nasa.gov/ntv.


April 8, 2010

SOLAR POWER PLANT AT KENNEDY SUPPLYING ELECTRICITY TO FLORIDIANS

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - A newly constructed solar power facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla., officially is providing electricity to Florida homes. NASA, Florida Power & Light, or FPL, and political leaders commissioned FPL's Space Coast Next Generation Solar Energy Center on Thursday.

The 10-megawatt solar plant was built by FPL, Florida's largest utility. It will feed FPL's electric grid, generating energy for more than 1,000 homes and reducing annual carbon dioxide emissions by more than 227,000 tons.

FPL built a separate 1-megawatt solar power facility at Kennedy as part of this unique public-private partnership between NASA and FPL. That facility has been supplying the space center with electricity since late 2009.

"NASA is a pioneer in the use of solar power for space exploration, so it's fitting that we're working with FPL to expand the use and R&D of that renewable energy source at Kennedy where many of those missions were launched," said Bob Cabana, director of the Kennedy Space Center. "This type of commercial partnership with NASA helps provide Florida residents, and America's space program, with new sources of green power that reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and improve the environment."

"Florida is poised to be a leader in America's growing clean-energy economy, which naturally includes solar power," said Rep. Suzanne Kosmas of Florida. "Bringing new clean-energy jobs to our communities is one of my top priorities. This joint effort between NASA and FPL is an example of how we can create jobs while investing in common-sense solutions to the economic, environmental and national security challenges we face today."

The 10-megawatt facility features approximately 35,000 highly efficient solar photovoltaic panels from SunPower Corporation on 60 acres at Kennedy. The panels are 50 percent more efficient than conventional solar panels.

"Like NASA, FPL is looking beyond the horizon. FPL's Space Coast Next Generation Solar Energy Center is an important part of our state's clean-energy future, but large-scale solar projects like this one also have a very positive impact on the economy today," said FPL President and CEO Armando J. Olivera. "Projects like this and our Next Generation Solar Energy Centers in Martin and DeSoto give Florida the opportunity to create and attract clean-energy jobs and produce millions of dollars in new revenue for local governments while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fighting the effects of climate change at the same time."

Plans also are being discussed to expand the 10-megawatt facility's generating capacity to 100-megawatts at another Kennedy location. This expansion of the solar facilities is contingent on regulatory support and the passage of renewable energy legislation at the state level. If proven environmentally and economically feasible, an expansive field of photovoltaic solar panels will be constructed in phases on 500 or more acres of fallow Kennedy agricultural land and integrated into the utility's grid. A dedicated research and development facility to support continual improvement of solar renewable energy also would be established by SunPower and FPL's other partners at Kennedy's upcoming business complex, Exploration Park.

The proposed projects are being pursued under a five-year Memorandum of Understanding entered into by Kennedy and FPL in 2007 to promote jointly developed projects in renewable technologies.

For information about Florida Power & Light and its programs, visit: www.fpl.com

For information about SunPower, visit: www.sunpowercorp.com

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


March 24, 2010

NASA OPENS NEW FRONT DOOR TO PARTNERSHIPS WITH KENNEDY

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - NASA's Kennedy Space Center is using a new Web site aimed at making it easier to partner and do business with the space center.

The site details general partnership criteria, opportunities and benefits. It includes an online partnership interest request form, highlights success stories, answers frequently asked questions and lists the center's area development managers who are the primary interfaces with customers.

The site also provides access to some of the resumes of the center's highly-trained, highly-skilled employees, who may become available for new work as the Space Shuttle Program is retired. These workers possess many skills that are transferable to industries both within the aerospace community and beyond, including experience in engineering, technology, sciences, program/project management, construction, hardware integration and administrative fields.

To access the Web page's resources, visit: kscpartnerships.ksc.nasa.gov/

The Web site is part of a broader effort by Kennedy management to enhance the economic vitality of the center. To help with that goal, Kennedy's Center Planning and Development Office recently was established. Through new and innovative partnerships, the office is set up to provide more concentrated management of Kennedy institutional resources in response to space shuttle transition and retirement and increased focus on enabling commercial space transportation. The office serves as Kennedy's "front door" for accepting proposals for businesses and partnerships, management of Kennedy property and primary interaction with industry partners and other entities wanting to engage in new business ventures.

For updates about ongoing 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


March 12, 2010

NASA AWARDS CIVIL DESIGN, ENGINEERING AND SERVICES CONTRACT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - NASA has selected Jones Edmunds & Associates Inc. of Gainesville, Fla., to provide civil and environmental design, engineering and other professional services. Services will be provided at NASA's Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, and overseas emergency space shuttle landing sites. The work will rehabilitate, modernize or provide new facilities and systems at these locations.

This new indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract begins in March 2010 with a five year ordering period. The maximum potential value of this contract is approximately $25 million.

Jones Edmunds & Associates will provide services for the design of sewage treatment facilities, road repair and development, and parking facilities. The company also will be responsible for the design of new and reconfigured structures and facilities, building envelope, interior finishes, and site development. The work includes storm water management and utilities as well as facility equipment designed to process and condition hazardous and industrial waste products. Additional work involved includes HVAC and plumbing, industrial and institutional electrical systems, grounding, lighting, lightning protection, fire alarm and detection systems, and construction management.

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


March 8, 2010

NASA HOSTS FIRST-EVER WATER SUSTAINABILITY FORUM MARCH 16-18

WASHINGTON - NASA today announced its founding partnership of Launch, an initiative to identify, showcase and support innovative approaches to sustainability challenges through a series of forums. The first forum, "Launch: Water," will take place at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida from March 16-18.

"NASA is perfectly positioned to host a conversation with experts about potential solutions to the world's most perplexing sustainability problems," said NASA's Deputy Administrator Lori Garver, the host of the forum. "NASA offers a culture of problem-solving, deep technical expertise on sustainable systems such as the International Space Station, and a unique capacity to capture and analyze data about our home planet."

Other founding partners are the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. State Department and Nike. The event will bring together 10 entrepreneurs from around the world who have proposed solutions to water shortages and 40 council members who represent business, policy, engineering, science, communications and sustainability sectors. During the two-and-a-half-day forum, the invited innovators and the Launch Council will participate in sessions designed to identify challenges and discuss future opportunities for their innovations.

Launch is a global initiative to identify and support innovative work that will contribute to a sustainable future. Organizers have begun a global search for visionaries, whose innovative world-class ideas, technologies or programs show great promise in making tangible impacts on society. Through a series of forums focused on key challenge areas including water, air, food, energy, mobility and sustainable cities, Launch will give thought leaders a forum to present innovative ideas among peers and join in collaborative, solution-driven discussions.

To learn about the 10 innovators and their proposed solutions, and for a list of the 40 council members, visit: www.launchorg.com


Feb. 12, 2010

NASA AWARDS CONCESSION AGREEMENT FOR KENNEDY VISITOR COMPLEX

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - NASA has selected Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts, Inc., of Buffalo, N.Y., to provide concession services for the operation of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida.

The new concession agreement begins May 1, 2010. It has a 10-year base period with one five-year option and five, one-year options.

The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex has operated for more than 43 years as a commercially viable, self-sufficient concession activity. As such, no appropriated dollars are received for its development, operation or maintenance. All revenues are generated through the sale of admission, food, retail and education programs without cost to the federal budget.

Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts will be responsible for the management and operation of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. The principle objective of concession activities is to provide access for visitors to NASA's Kennedy Space Center and to communicate the NASA mission and activities, past, present and future.

For information about NASA's Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, visit: www.kennedyspacecenter.com

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


Feb. 3, 2010

GLOW-IN-THE-DARK PLANTS ARE HIGHLIGHT OF INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION SCIENCE BRIEFING

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - NASA will shed light on plant investigations aboard the International Space Station in a briefing at 12 p. m. EST, Friday, Feb. 5. The briefing from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida will be broadcast live on NASA Television.

The upcoming shuttle mission, planned to launch Feb. 7, will continue assembling the space station so it can be used for continuous scientific research as a national and multinational laboratory.

Microgravity plant growth experiments conducted aboard the station will help prepare for long-duration spaceflights of the future. The use of miniaturized green fluorescent proteins that glow in the dark, and associated compact imaging systems, may be used to help monitor crop conditions on Earth.

NASA has published a new Web feature that provides examples of space station research dividends such as those related to cancer treatment delivery, food poisoning vaccine development, air purification, remote ultrasound tests and more.

For more information about space station science payoffs, visit: www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/science/coolstation.html

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

For more information about the upcoming shuttle mission, designated STS-130, visit: www.nasa.gov/shuttle


Jan. 29, 2010

NASA ANNOUNCES INNOVATION INITIATIVES WITH FISCAL YEAR 2011 BUDGET

WASHINGTON -- NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will brief reporters about the agency's fiscal year 2011 budget at 3 p. m. EST on Monday, Feb. 1. The news conference will take place in the James E. Webb Memorial Auditorium at NASA Headquarters, located at 300 E St. S.W., in Washington.

NASA Chief Financial Officer Beth Robinson will join Bolden. The news conference will be broadcast live on NASA Television and the agency's Web site. Questions will be taken from media representatives at headquarters and participating field centers, including Kennedy Space Center.

To watch the budget news conference online, visit: www.nasa.gov/ntv

NASA budget and supporting information will be available at 12:30 p. m., Feb. 1, at: www.nasa.gov/budget


top

2009

Dec. 31, 2009

NASA KENNEDY SPACE CENTER 2009 REVIEW AND LOOK AHEAD

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - Kennedy Space Center in Florida helped NASA return to the moon in 2009 and look beyond.

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Kennedy teams were involved in launching 14 missions in 2009 -- eight on expendable launch vehicles, five on space shuttles and the first new rocket to liftoff from Kennedy in more than a quarter of a century, the Ares I-X.

The expendable launch vehicle mission that received the highest public attention was NASA's first moon flight in 10 years, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LRO/LCROSS. It launched June 18 aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. LRO is designed to orbit the moon and relay the most detailed data about the lunar surface and environment. LCROSS' mission was to impact into the lunar surface to confirm the presence of frozen water in a permanently shadowed crater at the moon's south pole, which it did in October. In March, NASA's exploration eyes looked deep into space with the launch of the Kepler mission aboard a Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral. Kepler is designed to find the first Earth-size planets orbiting stars at distances where water could pool on the surface.

Kennedy helped the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration with two launches in 2009. First in February, the NOAA-N Prime spacecraft launched from NASA's Space Launch Complex-2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California aboard a Delta II rocket. The new polar-orbiting satellite will improve weather forecasting and climate research. Then in June, the latest Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite, GOES-O, soared into space on a Delta IV rocket from the Cape. NOAA's GOES-O satellite will improve weather forecasting and monitor environmental events around the world. NASA's Launch Services Program at Kennedy also supported two launches for the U. S. Missile Defense Agency, the Space Tracking and Surveillance System-Advanced Technology Risk Reduction spacecraft, or STSS-ATRR in May from Vandenberg and the STSS-Demo mission in September from Cape Canaveral.

On Feb. 24, NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory, or OCO, failed to reach orbit after its liftoff aboard a Taurus XL launch vehicle from Launch Pad 576-E at Vandenberg. An investigation concluded the OCO mission was lost when the payload fairing of the Taurus failed to separate during ascent. Kennedy ended the year with the successful launch of NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, spacecraft aboard a Delta II on Dec. 14 from Vandenberg. WISE will survey the entire sky in infrared light, picking up the glow of millions of objects never seen before, including the coolest stars, most luminous galaxies and darkest near Earth asteroids and comets.

Kennedy sent five shuttles safely and successfully on their way in 2009. First on March 15, space shuttle Discovery and its seven-member crew lifted off from Launch Pad 39A on the STS-119 mission to deliver the final set of large power-generating solar array wings and a new crew member to the International Space Station.

Then on May 11, shuttle Atlantis and its seven-member crew lifted off on the fifth and final shuttle mission to repair and upgrade NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, leaving the world-famous orbiting observatory in better shape than ever before and extending its life at least five more years. This also was the last shuttle mission scheduled to fly to a destination other than the International Space Station before the fleet is retired.

Two months later in July, shuttle Endeavour and its seven-member STS-127 crew launched on a 16-day mission to deliver the final segment of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Kibo laboratory and a new crew member to the space station. On Aug. 28, shuttle Discovery and its seven-member crew launched on the STS-128 mission to deliver supplies, equipment and a new crew member to the station.

The final shuttle mission of 2009, STS-129, began on Nov. 16 with shuttle Atlantis launching with its six crew members. They delivered critical spare parts and equipment the space station will need after shuttles stop flying. Kennedy also held its first "Tweet up" event during the STS-129 launch, bringing in 101 Tweeters from 21 states and four countries with an estimated 150,000 followers. Atlantis brought back Expedition 21 Flight Engineer and Florida native Nicole Stott, the last station astronaut scheduled to return from or launch to the orbiting laboratory aboard a space shuttle.

Bad weather kept two shuttle missions from ending at Kennedy, Atlantis' STS-125 flight and Discovery's STS-128. Both landed at Edwards Air Force Base in California and had to be flown back on top of NASA's modified 747 aircraft. One special passenger aboard Discovery's ferry flight to Florida was Disney's toy astronaut Buzz Lightyear. The space toy was returned to Walt Disney World in Orlando for an Oct. 2 event that was the launching point for new NASA educational efforts to encourage students to pursue studies in science, technology and mathematics. NASA and Disney Parks had collaborated to fly the 12-inch-tall action figure aboard the International Space Station for more than 15 months.

Currently, there are only five scheduled shuttle missions left for NASA before the program's scheduled retirement in 2010, with the first one targeted for February and the last in September.

In April and May for what was expected to be the last time for the agency's Space Shuttle Program, two shuttles, Endeavour and Atlantis, stood poised on both Launch Complex 39 launch pads. Atlantis was on pad 39A for the STS-125 mission. Endeavour was on pad 39B as the STS-125 rescue spacecraft, if required. After being cleared from its possible rescue assignment, Endeavour was moved to pad A and then on May 31, pad B officially was transferred from the Space Shuttle Program to the Constellation Program for the Ares I-X flight test. Pad B already had been undergoing modifications for first flight of the new program. Three, 600-foot-tall lightning towers were assembled this year at the pad to accommodate the taller Ares next-generation rockets, including I-X, changing Kennedy's landscape.

Going from the drawing board to the launch pad in just a few years, NASA's Ares I-X rocket lifted off Launch Pad 39B on Oct. 28. The flight test lasted about six minutes from launch until splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean. Among the systems tested, the rocket's more than 700 sensors will provide ascent data for future flights. Other work at Kennedy for the Constellation Program included ongoing construction of a new, lighter and taller mobile launcher, renovations on Kennedy's historic Operations and Checkout Building high bay for use as the final assembly facility for the Orion crew exploration vehicle, and a test in April under real and simulated weather conditions off the coast of Kennedy that used a full-scale mock-up of the Orion spacecraft.

Kennedy continued to expand its environmentally friendly and recycling initiatives this year. Five facilities are qualifying for the U. S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certification. The Life Support Facility already earned silver certification in 2009, and the Propellants North Facility is expected to receive the highest rating, platinum, when it is complete in the summer of 2010. There are about 145 platinum-rated facilities in the United States with only one other in Florida.

In May, NASA and Florida Power and Light, or FPL, held a groundbreaking ceremony for new solar power facilities at Kennedy. FPL will build and maintain two solar photovoltaic power generation systems on Kennedy property, a one-megawatt solar farm for Kennedy's use and a 10-megawatt one for Florida residents. The one-megawatt facility officially was commissioned in November and has been providing power to Kennedy for several months. The 10-megawatt facility is set to be complete in April 2010. At the November commissioning ceremony, Kennedy Center Director Bob Cabana announced plans to pursue a new renewable energy research and development facility at Kennedy's under development business center, Exploration Park. Plans also were announced to expand the electrical generating capacity of the 10-megawatt solar facility to 100-megawatts.

In October, NASA announced it was partnering with Starfighters Inc. of Tarpon Springs, Fla., to use the space shuttle runway at Kennedy to help support the development of the commercial space industry. Kennedy and the aerospace company signed a cooperative Space Act Agreement enabling Starfighters to become a tenant at Kennedy where it will launch a new business venture with a fleet of privately operated Lockheed F-104 Starfighter aircraft. The new venture also is enabled by Space Florida, which has entered into separate agreements with Starfighters to use a state-built hangar at Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility and to provide other business assistance.

In July, Kennedy helped celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch to and first steps on the moon with a ceremony at the center's visitor complex. Several Apollo astronauts attended the event, which featured the opening of the Apollo Treasures Gallery.

On July 30, Kennedy helped support a public meeting in Cocoa Beach, Fla., of the Review of U. S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee, led by Norm Augustine. The blue-ribbon panel was requested by President Barack Obama's administration to conduct an independent review of America's human spaceflight plans and programs, as well as alternatives. The committee's report was issued in October to the White House and NASA. While final decisions about future space exploration plans, including the Space Shuttle and Constellation programs, haven't been announced, NASA's Kennedy Space Center and its work force are expected to be a vital part of those endeavors in 2010, into the next decade and beyond.

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


Nov. 19, 2009

NASA REAPS BENEFITS FROM SOLAR FARM AND PLANS NEW ENERGY PROJECT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - The electricity that's being used at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla., now is partly supplied by the space agency's first large-scale solar power generation facility. Representatives from NASA, Florida Power & Light Company and SunPower Corporation formally commissioned a one-megawatt facility Thursday and used the occasion to announce plans to pursue a new research, development and demonstration project at Kennedy to advance America's use of renewable energy.

The facility is the first element of a major renewable energy project currently under construction at Kennedy. The completed system features a fixed-tilt, ground-mounted solar power system designed and built by SunPower, along with SunPower solar panels. A 10-megawatt solar farm, which SunPower is building on a nearby Kennedy property, will supply power to FPL's customers when it's completed in April 2010.

At Thursday's commissioning ceremony, Kennedy Center Director Bob Cabana and FPL Vice President and Chief Development Officer Eric Silagy announced plans to establish a permanent renewable energy research and development center at Kennedy along with a new solar facility that would expand the 10-megawatt generating capability up to 100-megawatts. This expansion of the solar facilities is contingent on regulatory support and the passage of renewable energy legislation at the state level.

If proven environmentally and economically feasible, an expansive field of photovoltaic solar panels will be constructed in phases on 500 or more acres of fallow Kennedy agricultural land and integrated into the utility's grid. A dedicated research and development facility to support continual improvement of solar renewable energy would be established by SunPower and FPL's other partners at Kennedy's business complex, Exploration Park.

"Both our current projects are nearing completion, and this proposed expanded collaboration with FPL directly responds to the president's recent executive order directing NASA and other federal agencies to expand their use of renewable power and enable renewable projects on agency lands," said Cabana. "We are pleased to be taking a leadership role in supporting this important national goal aimed at increasing America's energy independence while improving the planet's environment."

"FPL is a national leader in the development of clean, renewable energy, and we are committed to growing the renewable power industry here in Florida, which will spur the local economy and create jobs," said Silagy. "These solar projects are an important part of Florida's clean-energy future and we are proud to be at the forefront of powering the space program. Like NASA, FPL is looking beyond the horizon. We are prepared and excited about the prospect of building more emissions-free solar power with the quality of life of our children and grandchildren in mind."

"We congratulate NASA and FPL for their commitment to the development of solar technologies, and for making solar energy a key part of the nation's economic recovery and the protection of the environment for future generations," said Howard Wenger, president, global business units for SunPower. "Solar power systems can be built quickly anywhere and at any scale, and we are pleased to partner with NASA and FPL on these important projects."

The dedicated R&D facility proposed for Exploration Park could result in at least 50 high-salary science and engineering positions permanently established at Kennedy by SunPower and FPL's other partners, a potential for solar panel manufacturing located nearby and as many as 1,000 new construction jobs. FPL and Kennedy have initiated environmental studies and a plan to support the next project, which could be initiated before the end of 2010.

The proposed project will be pursued under a five-year Memorandum of Understanding entered into by Kennedy and FPL in 2007 to promote jointly developed projects in renewable technologies. Implementation will require completion of the environmental and business assessments, the development of a formal partnering agreement, renewable energy legislation at the state level and a constructive regulatory framework.

The current agreement to construct two solar energy projects totaling 11 megawatts recently won the 2009 General Services Administration Award for Asset Management. The public-private partnership for solar power facilities at Kennedy was selected by the GSA judges for its innovative use of federal land, and published as a "best practice" example by GSA's Office of Government-wide Policy.

For information about Florida Power & Light and its programs, visit: www.fpl.com

For information about SunPower, visit: www.sunpowercorp.com

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


Oct. 22, 2009

NASA AND STARFIGHTERS MAKE AGREEMENT ON SHUTTLE RUNWAY USE

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - NASA and Starfighters, Inc., of Tarpon Springs, Fla., are partnering to use the space shuttle runway at Kennedy Space Center to help support the development of the commercial space industry. Kennedy and the aerospace company have signed a cooperative space act agreement enabling Starfighters to become a tenant at Kennedy where it will launch a new business venture with a fleet of privately-operated Lockheed F-104 Starfighter aircraft.

The new venture also is enabled by Space Florida, which has entered into separate agreements with Starfighters to use a state-built hangar at Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility, or SLF, and to provide other business assistance.

Under the agreement, Starfighters will be permitted to use the SLF on a regular basis to conduct flight operations supporting the test, development, and training activities associated with the emerging commercial space launch industry, and to advance aerospace and space-related technology. It also will be permitted to house and perform maintenance on its aircraft at the SLF and will reimburse NASA costs associated with its operations at the center.

"This agreement with Starfighters aligns well with NASA's mission and national space policy direction to support and enable the U.S. commercial space industry," said Kennedy Center Director Bob Cabana. "This activity also will help diversify our uses at the SLF in a manner compatible with NASA's operations, and help us sustain the SLF as a unique asset supporting horizontal space launch and recovery after the shuttle retires."

Starfighters plans to operate its aircraft to simulate suborbital vehicle trajectories and provide both training and technology development for the reusable launch vehicle industry. In addition, the firm may provide flight test services to NASA and other government users, for other spaceflight and aviation test activities and other uses approved by NASA pursuant to the agreement. Starfighters recently was awarded a blanket purchase agreement from NASA's Airborne Science Program from the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

The company plans to relocate all operations to Brevard County and expects to employ as many as approximately 20 highly-skilled workers to assist and develop its operations at Kennedy.

Starfighters responded to Kennedy's 2005 request to industry for interest in use of the SLF, and previously flew several test flights from the SLF as a demonstration project, which included testing of a NASA-developed range safety system and an investigation of the sonic boom characteristics to be anticipated from suborbital vehicles taking off from and returning to the SLF.

For more information about Starfighters, visit: www.starfighters.net/

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


Oct. 2, 2009

NASA LAUNCHES NEW EDUCATION INITIATIVES WITH DISNEY'S BUZZ LIGHTYEAR

WASHINGTON -- NASA and Disney Parks, which collaborated to carry toy space ranger Buzz Lightyear into orbit, are launching new efforts to encourage students to pursue studies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Buzz on the ISS
Buzz Lightyear aboard the International Space Station

The 12-inch-tall action figure spent more than 15 months aboard the International Space Station and returned to Earth on Sept. 11. On Friday, Oct. 2, a ticker-tape parade at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Fla., will officially welcome Lightyear home.

"Buzz's historic spaceflight is a great example of spreading the excitement of space exploration with students around the world," said Joyce Winterton, NASA's assistant administrator for Education at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "We hope our space station crews and Buzz will continue to spark student interest in the space station and its scientific potential."

NASA astronaut Mike Fincke, the station commander from October 2008 to April 2009, is spending the day at the Magic Kingdom to tell students about two new educational design challenges and a new online game.

Mission Patch Design Challenge: Students ages 6-12 will have the opportunity to design a patch to commemorate Lightyear's mission and his accomplishment of being the longest serving space ranger. The student with the most creative mission patch and 100-word essay will win a tour of NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida and a trip to Walt Disney World Resort. NASA will fly the winning patch into space, then present it to the contest winner.

Kids in Micro-g Experiment Challenge: Students in the fifth through eighth grades are encouraged to devise experiments to be conducted aboard the space station. The 12 winning experiments will be performed by the end of the school year and videotaped for the winning schools.

For more information about the challenges, visit: www.nasa.gov/buzzoniss

NASA and Disney Parks are launching a new online game as part of the Space Ranger Education Series. The series includes fun educational games for students and materials for educators to download and integrate into classroom curricula. In the newest game, "Putting It All Together," players can build the entire station using all of the real modules.

"We can't thank our partners at NASA enough for bringing Buzz Lightyear home from space to his family, friends and fans here at Disney Parks -- after all, this was his dream come true," said Duncan Wardle, vice president of Disney Parks.

NASA Television will air highlights of Finke's meeting with students and the Buzz Lightyear parade. For streaming video, schedules and downlink information, visit: www.nasa.gov/ntv

For information about other NASA education programs, visit: www.nasa.gov/education

For more information about the space station, visit: www.nasa.gov/station

For more information about the space shuttle, visit: www.nasa.gov/shuttle


Sept. 30, 2009

NASA MODIFIES LIFE SCIENCES SERVICES CONTRACT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - NASA is extending the Life Science Services contract at Kennedy Space Center held by Dynamac Corporation of Rockville, Md., for an additional one year, three months and increasing its value.

The potential estimated increase value of the cost-plus-fixed-fee contract is $9.7 and begins Oct. 1. The base extension value is $8.1 million with three, one month options totaling about $1.6 million.

The contract's additional period of performance allows Dynamac Corporation to continue to provide a space experiment and processing laboratory at Kennedy, known as the Space Life Sciences Lab, maintain and operate this laboratory, conduct critical life sciences and technology development tasks and perform biological payload integration and processing in support of the Space Shuttle, International Space Station and Constellation Programs.

Some of the effort under the existing contract is expected to transition to the Medical and Environmental Services Contract on Oct. 1. However, the remainder of the requirements being supported under this contract will not be transitioned until the Exploration Ground Launch Services contract and the Engineering Services Contract are awarded in the fall of 2010.

The original period of performance for the Life Science Services contract was seven years, nine months, which ends Sept. 30. The total original contract value was $123.6 million. The revised potential contract value is $133.3 million.

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


Sept. 11, 2009

NASA EXERCISES PAYLOAD PROCESSING CONTRACT OPTION

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA is exercising its final option in the Checkout, Assembly and Payload Processing Services contract, known as CAPPS.

The option is the second of two on the cost-plus-award-fee CAPPS contract awarded to Boeing Space Operations Company of Titusville, Fla., a wholly owned subsidiary of The Boeing Company. The option's performance period is from Oct. 1, 2009, through Sept. 30, 2012, with a maximum potential value of approximately $156.5 million.

The contract provides management and technical services in support of payload processing requirements at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the International Space Station, space shuttle, expendable launch vehicle, Constellation and other payload programs. Boeing performs all aspects of payload processing, including planning, safety and mission assurance, payload processing ground systems support, space shuttle integration, launch and post-landing activities.

Option 1 on the CAPPS contract began in October 2006 with a value of $308.8 million. The base contract began in October 2002 with a value of $359.4 million. The total maximum potential value of the CAPPS contract with both options is approximately $824.8 million.

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


Aug. 21, 2009

NASA TO AIR STEPHEN COLBERT MESSAGE ON EVE OF SHUTTLE LAUNCH

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - NASA will broadcast a special message from comedian Stephen Colbert on Monday, Aug. 24, as the space shuttle Discovery prepares to deliver the COLBERT treadmill to the International Space Station.

The message will air on NASA Television after the shuttle's fueling commentary concludes at approximately 7:15 p.m. EDT.

The name Colbert received the most entries in NASA's online poll to name the station's Node 3 module, so NASA named its new space station treadmill the Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill, or COLBERT. NASA named the module Tranquility.

Colbert, the host of Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report," took an interest in the poll and urged his viewers to suggest his name, which received the most entries.

Discovery and its seven-member crew are set to launch at 1:36 a.m. EDT Tuesday, Aug. 25, on a 13-day mission to deliver scientific experiments, equipment and supplies to the station.

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

After the initial broadcast, the video also will be available at: www.youtube.com/NASATelevision

For more information about the Node 3 module naming poll, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/externalflash/name_ISS/index.html

For more information about the COLBERT treadmill, visit: www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/behindscenes/colberttreadmill.html


Aug. 11, 2009

FLORIDA NATIVE TO LIVE ABOARD INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Nicole Stott, a native of Clearwater, Fla., will make her first journey into orbit on space shuttle Discovery's upcoming mission to the International Space Station. She will live and work aboard the station for three months.

Discovery is targeted to launch at 1:36 a.m. EDT, Aug. 25, from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Stott is one of seven astronauts who will fly on Discovery's STS-128 mission. The 13-day flight will deliver science and storage racks, a freezer to store research samples, a new sleeping compartment and a treadmill named after comedian Stephen Colbert. The name Colbert received the most entries in NASA's online poll to name the station's Node 3. NASA named the node Tranquility.

Once Discovery docks with the station, Stott will officially trade places with Tim Kopra, who has been aboard since July. At that point, Stott will become a member of Expedition 20 and will remain on board until the STS-129 shuttle mission in November.

Stott graduated from Clearwater High School and received a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla. She also holds a Master of Science degree in engineering management from the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Fla.

Stott was selected as an astronaut in 2000 and worked as a support astronaut for the crew of Expedition 10. She also lived and worked underwater in 2006 as part of the NEEMO 9 mission.

For Stott's complete biography, visit: http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/stott-np.html

For the latest information about the STS-128 mission and crew, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/shuttle


July 28, 2009

NASA HONORS APOLLO ASTRONAUT AL WORDEN WITH MOON ROCK

WASHINGTON -- NASA will honor Apollo astronaut Al Worden with the presentation of an Ambassador of Exploration Award for his contributions to the U.S. space program.

Worden will receive the award during a ceremony Thursday, July 30, at 4 p.m. EDT. The ceremony will be held at the Apollo Saturn V Center at NASA's Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida, where the moon rock will be displayed.

NASA is giving the Ambassador of Exploration Award to the first generation of explorers in the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space programs for realizing America's goal of going to the moon. The award is a moon rock encased in Lucite, mounted for public display. The rock is part of the 842 pounds of lunar samples collected during six Apollo expeditions from 1969 to 1972. Those astronauts who receive the award will then present the award to a museum of their choice, where the moon rock will be placed for public display.

Worden served as command module pilot for the Apollo 15 mission, which set several moon records for NASA, including the longest lunar surface stay time, the longest lunar extravehicular activity and the first use of a lunar roving vehicle. Worden spent 38 minutes in a spacewalk outside the command module and logged a total of 295 hours, 11 minutes in space during the mission.

Worden was born in Jackson, Mich. He received a bachelor of military science degree from the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., in 1955, and Master of Science degrees in astronautical and aeronautical engineering and instrumentation engineering from the University of Michigan in 1963.

For more biographical information about Worden, visit: http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/worden-am.html

NASA Television will broadcast a Video File of the event. For NASA TV streaming video, schedules and downlink information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv

For more information about the Apollo Saturn V Center, visit: http://www.kennedyspacecenter.com

For information about and pictures of the NASA Ambassador of Exploration Award, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/AofEphotos.html


June 18, 2009

NASA SUCCESSFULLY LAUNCHES LUNAR IMPACTOR

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA successfully launched the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, Thursday on a mission to search for water ice in a permanently shadowed crater at the moon's south pole. The satellite lifted off on an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., at 5:32 p.m. EDT, with a companion mission, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO.

Atlas rocket launches toward the moon.
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket roars into space carrying NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite. Photo credit: NASA/Tom Farrar
LRO safely separated from LCROSS 45 minutes later. LCROSS then was powered-up, and the mission operations team at NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., performed system checks that confirmed the spacecraft is fully functional.

LCROSS and its attached Centaur upper stage rocket separately will collide with the moon at approximately 7:30 a.m. on Oct. 9, 2009, creating a pair of debris plumes that will be analyzed for the presence of water ice or water vapor, hydrocarbons and hydrated materials. The spacecraft and Centaur are tentatively targeted to impact the moon's south pole near the Cabeus region. The exact target crater will be identified 30 days before impact, after considering information collected by LRO, other spacecraft orbiting the moon, and observatories on Earth.

"LCROSS has been the little mission that could," said Doug Cooke, associate administrator for NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "We stand poised for an amazing mission and possible answers to some very intriguing questions about the moon."

The 1,290-pound LCROSS and 5,216-pound Centaur upper stage will perform a swing-by maneuver of the moon around 6 a.m. on June 23 to calibrate the satellite's science instruments and enter a long, looping polar orbit around Earth and the moon. Each orbit will be roughly perpendicular to the moon's orbit around Earth and take about 37 days to complete. Before impact, the spacecraft and Centaur will make approximately three orbits.

On the final approach, about 54,000 miles above the surface, LCROSS and the Centaur will separate. LCROSS will spin 180 degrees to turn its science payload toward the moon and fire thrusters to slow down. The spacecraft will observe the flash from the Centaur's impact and fly through the debris plume. Data will be collected and streamed to LCROSS mission operations for analysis. Four minutes later, LCROSS also will impact, creating a second debris plume.

"This mission is the culmination of a dedicated team that had a great idea," said Daniel Andrews, LCROSS project manager at Ames. "And now we'll engage people around the world in looking at the moon and thinking about our next steps there."

The LCROSS science team will lead a coordinated observation campaign that includes LRO, the Hubble Space Telescope, observatories on Hawaii's Mauna Kea and amateur astronomers around the world.

Ames manages LCROSS and also built the instrument payload. Northrop Grumman in Redondo Beach, Calif., built the spacecraft.

The LCROSS mission is providing updates via @LCROSS_NASA on Twitter. To follow, visit: http://www.twitter.com/lcross_nasa

For more information about the LCROSS mission, visit: www.nasa.gov/lcross


June 18, 2009

NASA RETURNING TO THE MOON WITH FIRST LUNAR LAUNCH IN A DECADE

GREENBELT, Md. -- NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter launched at 5:32 p.m. EDT Thursday aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The satellite will relay more information about the lunar environment than any other previous mission to the moon.

Atlas liftoff
NASA's LRO and LCROSS spacecraft on top of the Atlas V rocket launch from Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Photo credit: United Launch Alliance/Pat Corkery
The orbiter, known as LRO, separated from the Atlas V rocket carrying it and a companion mission, the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, and immediately began powering up the components necessary to control the spacecraft. The flight operations team established communication with LRO and commanded the successful deployment of the solar array at 7:40 p.m. The operations team continues to check out the spacecraft subsystems and prepare for the first mid-course correction maneuver. NASA scientists expect to establish communications with LCROSS about four hours after launch, at approximately 9:30 p.m.

"This is a very important day for NASA," said Doug Cooke, associate administrator for NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate in Washington, which designed and developed both the LRO and LCROSS missions. "We look forward to an extraordinary period of discovery at the moon and the information LRO will give us for future exploration missions."

The spacecraft will be placed in low polar orbit about 31 miles, or 50 kilometers, above the moon for a one-year primary mission. LRO's instruments will help scientists compile high resolution three-dimensional maps of the lunar surface and also survey it at many spectral wavelengths. The satellite will explore the moon's deepest craters, exploring permanently sunlit and shadowed regions, and provide understanding of the effects of lunar radiation on humans.

"Our job is to perform reconnaissance of the moon's surface using a suite of seven powerful instruments," said Craig Tooley, LRO project manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "NASA will use the data LRO collects to design the vehicles and systems for returning humans to the moon and selecting the landing sites that will be their destinations."

High resolution imagery from LRO's camera will help identify landing sites for future explorers and characterize the moon's topography and composition. The hydrogen concentrations at the moon's poles will be mapped in detail, pinpointing the locations of possible water ice. A miniaturized radar system will image the poles and test communication capabilities.

"During the 60-day commissioning period, we will turn on spacecraft components and science instruments," explained Cathy Peddie, LRO deputy project manager at Goddard. "All instruments will be turned on within two weeks of launch, and we should start seeing the moon in new and greater detail within the next month."

"We learned much about the moon from the Apollo program, but now it is time to return to the moon for intensive study, and we will do just that with LRO," said Richard Vondrak, LRO project scientist at Goddard.

All LRO initial data sets will be deposited in the Planetary Data System, a publicly accessible repository of planetary science information, within six months of launch.

Goddard built and manages LRO. LRO is a NASA mission with international participation from the Institute for Space Research in Moscow. Russia provides the neutron detector aboard the spacecraft.

The LRO mission is providing updates via @LRO_NASA on Twitter. To follow, visit: www.twitter.com/lro_nasa

For more information about the LRO mission, visit: www.nasa.gov/lro


March 7, 2009

NASA'S KEPLER MISSION ROCKETS TO SPACE IN SEARCH OF OTHER EARTHS

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA's Kepler mission successfully launched into space from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II at 10:49 p.m. EST, Friday. Kepler is designed to find the first Earth-size planets orbiting stars at distances where water could pool on the planet's surface. Liquid water is believed to be essential for the formation of life.

Delta 2 lifts Kepler satalite to 900 mile up orbit.
Liftoff of the Delta II rocket carrying NASA's Kepler spacecraft. Image credit: NASA/Jack Pfaller
"It was a stunning launch," said Kepler Project Manager James Fanson of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "Our team is thrilled to be a part of something so meaningful to the human race -- Kepler will help us understand if our Earth is unique or if others like it are out there."

Engineers acquired a signal from Kepler at 12:11 a.m. Saturday, after it separated from its spent third-stage rocket and entered its final sun-centered orbit, trailing 950 miles behind Earth. The spacecraft is generating its own power from its solar panels.

"Kepler now has the perfect place to watch more than 100,000 stars for signs of planets," said William Borucki, the mission's science principal investigator at NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif. Borucki has worked on the mission for 17 years. "Everyone is very excited as our dream becomes a reality. We are on the verge of learning if other Earths are ubiquitous in the galaxy."

Engineers have begun to check Kepler to ensure it is working properly, a process called "commissioning" that will take about 60 days. In about a month or less, NASA will send up commands for Kepler to eject its dust cover and make its first measurements. After another month of calibrating Kepler's single instrument, a wide-field charge-couple device camera, the telescope will begin to search for planets.

The first planets to roll out on the Kepler "assembly line" are expected to be the portly "hot Jupiters" -- gas giants that circle close and fast around their stars. NASA's Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes will be able to follow up with these planets and learn more about their atmospheres. Neptune-size planets will most likely be found next, followed by rocky ones as small as Earth. The true Earth analogs -- Earth-sized planets orbiting stars like our sun at distances where surface water, and possibly life, could exist -- would take at least three years to discover and confirm. Ground-based telescopes also will contribute to the mission by verifying some of the finds.

In the end, Kepler will give us our first look at the frequency of Earth-size planets in our Milky Way galaxy, as well as the frequency of Earth-size planets that could theoretically be habitable.

"Even if we find no planets like Earth, that by itself would be profound. It would indicate that we are probably alone in the galaxy," said Borucki.

As the mission progresses, Kepler will drift farther and farther behind Earth in its orbit around the sun. NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, which was launched into the same orbit more than five years ago, is now more than 62 million miles behind Earth.

Kepler is a NASA Discovery mission. Ames is the home organization of the science principal investigator and is responsible for the ground system development, mission operations and science data analysis. JPL manages the Kepler mission development. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. of Boulder, Colo., is responsible for developing the Kepler flight system and supporting mission operations. NASA's Launch Services Program at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla., managed the launch service including payload integration and certifying the Delta II launch vehicle for NASA's use.

For more information about the Kepler mission, visit: www.nasa.gov/kepler


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2008

Nov. 17, 2008

NATIONS AROUND THE WORLD MARK 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF SPACE STATION

HOUSTON - Nations around the world will join together to mark a milestone in space exploration this week, celebrating the 10th birthday of a unique research laboratory, the International Space Station.

Now the largest spacecraft ever built, the orbital assembly of the space station began with the launch from Kazakhstan of its first bus-sized component, Zarya, on Nov. 20, 1998. The launch began an international construction project of unprecedented complexity and sophistication.

The station is a venture of international cooperation among NASA, the Russian Federal Space Agency, Canadian Space Agency, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, and 11 members of the European Space Agency, or ESA: Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. More than 100,000 people in space agencies and contractor facilities in 37 U.S. states and throughout the world are involved in this endeavor.

"The station's capability and sheer size today are truly amazing," said International Space Station Program Manager Mike Suffredini. "The tremendous technological achievement in orbit is matched only by the cooperation and perseverance of its partners on the ground. We have overcome differences in language, geography and engineering philosophies to succeed."

Only a few weeks after the U.S.-funded, Russian-built Zarya module was launched from Kazakhstan, the space shuttle carried aloft the Unity connector module in December 1998. Constructed on opposite sides of Earth, Unity and Zarya met for the first time in space and were joined to begin the orbital station's assembly and a decade of peaceful cooperation.

Ten years later, the station's mass has expanded to more than 627,000 pounds, and its interior volume is more than 25,000 cubic feet, comparable to the size of a five-bedroom house. Since Zarya's launch as the early command, control and power module, there have been 29 additional construction flights to the station: 27 aboard the space shuttle and two additional Russian launches.

One hundred sixty-seven individuals representing 14 countries have visited the complex. Crews have eaten some 19,000 meals aboard the station since the first crew took up residence in 2000. Through the course of 114 spacewalks and unmatched robotic construction in space, the station's truss structure has grown to 291 feet long so far. Its solar arrays now span to 28,800 square feet, large enough to cover six basketball courts.

The International Space Station hosts 19 research facilities, including nine sponsored by NASA, eight by ESA and two by JAXA. Cooperation among international teams of humans and robots is expected to become a mainstay of space exploration throughout our solar system. The 2005 NASA Authorization Act recognized the U.S. orbital segment as the first national laboratory beyond Earth, opening it for additional research by other government agencies, academia and the private sector.

"With the International Space Station, we have learned so many things -- and we're going to take that knowledge and apply it to flying to the moon and Mars," said Expedition 18 Commander Mike Fincke, now aboard the station. "Everything we're learning so close to home, only 240 miles away from the planet, we can apply to the moon 240,000 miles away."

To take a virtual tour of the International Space Station and learn more about the current mission, visit: www.nasa.gov/station

To find out how to see the station from your own backyard, visit: www.spaceflight.nasa.gov/realdata/sightings


June 25, 2008

NASA AND FLORIDA POWER & LIGHT BUILD SOLAR POWER PLANTS AT KENNEDY

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - NASA and Florida Power & Light (FPL) are teaming up to provide Florida residents and America's space program with new sources of "green power."

NASA and the state's largest electric utility signed an agreement Tuesday at Florida Governor Charlie Crist's global climate change summit in Miami. The agreement is part of a new initiative that will cut reliance on fossil fuels and improve the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The agreement will permit FPL to lease 60 acres of NASA Kennedy Space Center's approximately 140,000 acres for a solar photovoltaic power generation system. The facility will produce an estimated 10 megawatts of electrical power, which is enough energy to serve roughly 3,000 homes. The solar power facility will be built and maintained by FPL.

As part of the agreement, FPL will build a separate one megawatt solar power facility at Kennedy that will support the electrical needs of the center. It will also help NASA meet its goals for use of power generated from renewable energy. In addition to generating electricity, the facility will provide an opportunity for NASA engineers and technicians to gain experience in energy production. It also may serve as a test bed for solar power technology that could be used on the surface of the moon and other planetary bodies.

"This is a major renewable energy project that will help both NASA and the state of Florida advance efforts to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and improve our environment through use of clean energy," said Kennedy Center Director Bill Parsons.

FPL refers to the large solar plant at Kennedy as the space coast facility. The company estimates the plant will prevent more than 227,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere during the life of the project. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, that is the equivalent of eliminating the emissions from more than 1,800 cars every year.

"This facility, the first cooperative solar effort with NASA, will help power the space coast event as it leaves a smaller carbon footprint here on Earth," said FPL Group CEO Lewis Hay III.

NASA and FPL managers signed a memorandum of understanding in December 2007 to explore developing renewable energy projects. Other concepts under consideration include using biomass for energy production and wind power generation. Details of the projects under consideration still are being formulated and will be evaluated before moving into development.

For information about Florida Power & Light and its programs, visit: www.fpl.com/

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


April 22, 2008

NASA AWARDS LAUNCH SERVICES CONTRACT TO SPACEX

WASHINGTON -- NASA has awarded Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, a NASA Launch Services contract for the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 launch vehicles.

The NASA Launch Services contracts are multiple awards to multiple launch service providers. Twice per year, there is an opportunity for existing and emerging domestic launch service providers to submit proposals if their vehicles meet the minimum contract requirements.

The contract is an Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract where NASA may order launch services through June 30, 2010, for launches to occur through December 2012. Under the NASA Launch Services IDIQ contracts, the potential total contract value is between $20,000 and $1 billion, depending on the number of missions awarded.

The contract seeks a launch capability for payloads weighing 551 pounds or heavier into a circular orbit of 124 miles at an orbital inclination of 28.5 degrees. Payloads would be launched to support three NASA mission directorates: Science, Space Operations and Exploration Systems.

Because an IDIQ contract has been awarded to SpaceX, it can compete for NASA missions using the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 launch vehicles as specified by the NASA Launch Services contract process.

NASA's Launch Services Program at Kennedy Space Center is responsible for program management. This award to SpaceX adds to the stable of launch vehicles available to NASA under previously awarded contracts. The original request for proposal was issued in 1999.

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



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