Green Run Update: NASA Investigating Valve Performance Before Second Hot Fire

The core stage for the first flight of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket is seen in the B-2 Test Stand during a scheduled eight minute duration hot fire test, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021, at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. The four RS-25 engines fired for a little more than one minute. The hot fire test is the final stage of the Green Run test series, a comprehensive assessment of the Space Launch System’s core stage prior to launching the Artemis I mission to the Moon. (Credit: NASA/Robert Markowitz)

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (NASA PR) — NASA’s is reviewing the performance of a valve on the core stage of the Space Launch System rocket before proceeding with a second hot fire test at the agency’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

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Boeing Delays Starliner Flight a Week to April 2

Starliner OFT-1 capsule after landing at White Sands Missile Range. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Orbital flight test delayed from March 25

HOUSTON (BOEING PR) — Boeing continues to support NASA as it reviews flight readiness products and we prepare the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft ahead of the Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) uncrewed mission to and from the International Space Station.

“We appreciate the significant work NASA is undertaking ahead of launch,” said John Vollmer, Starliner’s vice president and program manager at Boeing. “We’re fully engaged in the agency’s review process to ensure confidence in the spacecraft.”

With formal software tests completed, Boeing is continuing with flight preparations. We are ready to conduct a mission rehearsal, using flight hardware and final flight software, to ensure the readiness of the team and combined systems.

Hardware processing is also concluding. We recently moved the spacecraft into the Hazardous Processing Area in anticipation of propellant load. We continue to address final observations and have successfully replaced avionics units affected by a power surge during final checkouts. We continue to ensure product safety of our spacecraft and we are addressing any emerging issues in a timely manner.

NASA and Boeing teams in Houston are now contending with widespread power outages and other winter storm-related impacts in the region. Despite this, the team remains focused on the safety and quality of the spacecraft and a successful launch no earlier than April 2.

Multiple ISS National Lab-Sponsored Microbial Research Investigations Presently Being Performed on the Orbiting Platform

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla., February 9, 2021 (CASIS PR) – Astronauts onboard the International Space Station (ISS) are currently supporting two investigations sponsored by the U.S. National Laboratory that are focused on microbial research. The space station’s unique microgravity environment allows investigators to conduct fundamental research not possible on Earth that may yield valuable insights in the life sciences, ultimately leading to applications to benefit humans on Earth.

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NASA Weighs Options for Additional Crew Transportation for Spring Soyuz Mission to Space Station

Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft docking at the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — A rotating crew of NASA and international astronauts have called the International Space Station home for more than 20 years. To ensure a consistent U.S. presence on the space station through the years, NASA has implemented safeguards to ensure crew transportation is always available. 

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Spaceport Upgrades Launch Kennedy Into Record-Setting Future

An aerial view of the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) and Launch Control Center at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Jan. 13, 2021. The High Bay 3 in the VAB is where NASA’s Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft will be stacked on top of the mobile launcher before it is rolled out atop crawler-transporter 2 to Launch Pad 39B for launch on the agency’s Artemis I mission. (Credits: NASA/Ben Smegelsky)

By Heather L. Scott
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

As quickly as the crewed commercial rocket lifted off the launch pad and into the night sky, a new type of space race had begun.

The November 2020 launch of astronauts from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on the first operational mission by a commercial company was the culmination of a new form of government and industry cooperation – an example of how vibrant and diverse American space activities have become.

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NASA, Boeing Test Crew Return and Recovery Procedures

Landing and recovery teams from Boeing and NASA take part in a crew landing dress rehearsal at the U.S. Army’s White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico in preparation for missions returning with astronauts from the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. (Credits: Boeing)

WHITE SANDS, NM (NASA PR) — Landing and recovery teams from Boeing and NASA recently completed a crew landing dress rehearsal at the U.S. Army’s White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico, in preparation for missions returning with astronauts from the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

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Starliner Orbit Flight Test 2 Now Targeted for NET March 25

The Orbital Flight Test Starliner being processed by technicians after return from White Sands Missile Range. (Credit: Boeing)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (Boeing PR) — NASA and Boeing are targeting no earlier than Thursday, March 25, for the launch of Starliner’s second uncrewed flight test as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) is a critical developmental milestone on the company’s path to fly crew missions for NASA. Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner is designed, built, tested and flown by a team committed to safely, reliably and sustainably transporting astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

The target launch date is enabled by an opening on the Eastern Range; the availability of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket; steady progress on hardware and software; and an International Space Station docking opportunity.

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Green Run Update: Hot Fire Met Many Objectives, Test Assessment Underway

The core stage for the first flight of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket is seen in the B-2 Test Stand during a scheduled eight minute duration hot fire test, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021, at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. The four RS-25 engines fired for a little more than one minute. The hot fire test is the final stage of the Green Run test series, a comprehensive assessment of the Space Launch System’s core stage prior to launching the Artemis I mission to the Moon. (Credit: NASA/Robert Markowitz)

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (NASA PR) — For the Green Run hot fire test on Jan. 16, NASA set out to acquire test data to support 23 detailed verification objectives. To satisfy the objectives, hot fire test data is used in combination with analysis and testing that has already been completed. These detailed verification objectives are used to certify the design of the Space Launch System rocket’s core stage.

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The Year of the Four Spaceships: Final Report

Crew Dragon docked at the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Back in February, I went out on a limb and predicted that 2020 could be the Year of the Four Spaceships, with SpaceX, Boeing, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic and reaching major milestones in human spaceflight. (See 2020: Four Spaceships & the End of America’s Cosmic Groundhog Day)

With the disruption and deaths caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it wasn’t the easiest year to get things done. Keeping that in mind, let’s see how the companies did in 2020. (Spoiler Alert: they came up a little short.)

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NASA Perseveres Through Pandemic to Complete Successful 2020

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In 2020, NASA made significant progress on America’s Moon to Mars exploration strategy, met mission objectives for the Artemis program, achieved significant scientific advancements to benefit humanity, and returned human spaceflight capabilities to the United States, all while agency teams acted quickly to assist the national COVID-19 response.

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NASA Completes Design Review of the SLS Exploration Upper Stage

This illustration shows the Exploration Upper Stage (EUS) for the evolved configuration of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. (Credits: NASA/Terry White)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — The Exploration Upper Stage (EUS) for future flights of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket has passed its Critical Design Review, or CDR. 

A panel of experts evaluated the EUS in the latest review to determine that the stage’s design meets requirements for future missions. This most recent assessment certifies the EUS meets critical design requirements to withstand deep space environments and when completed will ensure astronaut safety.

The review board also evaluated testing processes, the ability of the industrial base to supply parts and tooling, and production plans. Boeing, the prime contractor for the EUS as well as the core stage, will manufacture and assemble the upper stage at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. 

A structural test article of the stage will undergo testing at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, where the SLS Program is managed. The flight article will undergo Green Run testing at the agency’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, before its first flight, similar to the SLS core stage Green Run testing currently in progress, including a hot firing of the engines.

NASA is working to land the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024. SLS and Orion, along with the human landing system and theGateway in orbit around the Moon, are NASA’s backbone for deep space exploration. 

For more on NASA’s SLS, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/sls

SLS Team Completes Propellant Loading of Core Stage During Green Run Test

The Space Launch System (SLS) rocket is completing the Green Run test for the rocket’s core stage, shown installed on the top left side of the B-2 Test Stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. (Credits: NASA/Stennis)

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (NASA PR) — NASA and Boeing engineers successfully completed propellant loading during the seventh core stage Green Run test, wet dress rehearsal Sunday, Dec. 20. The massive Space Launch System (SLS) rocket’s tanks were loaded with more than 700,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen.

Engineers working in the Test Control Center monitored all core stage systems during the test as propellant flowed from six barges into the core stage in the B-2 Test Stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. First looks at the data indicate the stage performed well during the propellant loading and replenish process. Part of the test was to simulate the countdown with the tanks loaded, leading up to 33 seconds prior to the engines firing. However, the test ended a few minutes short of the planned countdown duration.

The core stage and the B-2 test stand are in excellent condition, and it does not appear to be an issue with the hardware. The team is evaluating data to pinpoint the exact cause of the early shutdown. Then they will decide if they are ready to move forward with the final test, a hot fire when all four engines will be fired simultaneously.

For more updates, visit this blog or the Green Run web site: https://www.nasa.gov/artemisprogram/greenrun

NASA Astronauts Hard at Work on Multiple Life Science Investigations Aboard the International Space Station

International Space Station (Credit: NASA/Roscosmos)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (CASIS PR) – On December 7th, a Dragon spacecraft loaded with thousands of pounds of critical supplies and research docked with the International Space Station (ISS), paving the way for an incredibly busy Expedition 64 dedicated to executing science on the orbiting laboratory.

SpaceX’s 21st commercial resupply services (CRS-21) mission to the ISS brought with it a variety of life science investigations sponsored by the U.S. National Laboratory that will be evaluated in the unique microgravity environment, intending to benefit patient care on Earth. Since Dragon’s arrival, the astronauts have been hard at work performing many of these investigations.

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NASA, Boeing Complete Series of Starliner Parachute Tests Ahead of Future Flights with Astronauts

A reused drogue parachute deploys from Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner test article during the final balloon drop parachute test above White Sands, New Mexico, on Sept. 19, 2020. The test is part of a reliability campaign that will help strengthen the spacecraft’s landing system ahead of crewed flights to and from the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. (Credits: Boeing)

WHITE SANDS, NM (NASA PR) — NASA and Boeing have completed Starliner’s last parachute balloon drop test ending a reliability campaign that will help strengthen the spacecraft’s landing system ahead of crewed flights to and from the International Space Station.

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Report: Loverro Feared 2024 Moon Landing Would be Imperiled by Boeing Contract Protest

Douglas Loverro (Credit: NASA)

A former senior NASA official violated procurement regulations in his dealings with Boeing out of fear the company could delay the Trump Administration’s plan to land astronauts on the moon in 2024, The Washington Post reports.

The Post reports that NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration Doug Loverro reached out to Boeing Senior Vice President Jim Chilton in February to tell the company it would not win a study contract for the Human Landing System, a vehicle that will take astronauts to and from the lunar surface. The call came at a time when NASA was not to contact any of the bidders.

Loverro, who abruptly resigned in May, wanted to find out if Boeing planned to protest its loss. If so, NASA would need to issue stop work orders to the winning bidders until the Government Accountability Office (GAO) ruled on the protest. GAO reviews usually take months.

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