NASA Invites Public to Share Launch of Laser Communications Demonstration

Conceptual image of the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration payload transmitting optical signals. (Credits: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA is inviting the public to take part in virtual activities and events ahead of the launch of the agency’s Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) mission. Launch is scheduled for 4:04 – 6:04 a.m. EST on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 551 rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida.

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SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Launches 53 Starlink Satellites

Falcon 9 launches 53 Starlink broadband satellites. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE BASE, Fla. — A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched 53 Starlink broadband satellites equipped with crosslink laser communications systems into orbit from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on Saturday morning.

The laser communications systems will allow for faster transmission of data. SpaceX normally launches 60 Starlink satellites at a time, but the laser systems appear to make the satellites heavier.

It was the first Starlink launch since May. SpaceX has launched 1,791 Starlink satellites, with 1,666 in orbit and 1,643 currently functioning, according to Jonathan’s Space Report.

The Falcon 9’s first stage landed on an off-shore drone ship. It was the ninth launch and landing of this first stage, which previously launched Crew Demo-2, ANASIS-11, CRS-21, Transporter-1, and five Starlink missions.

Slow Speed Ahead: Boeing Struggles with Starliner Valve Issues as Second Flight Test Delayed to Next Year

Boeing engineers continue work at the United Launch Alliance Vertical Integration Facility on the Starliner propulsion system valves. (Credit: Boeing)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Boeing said on Tuesday that it will delay the second uncrewed flight test of its Starliner spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) until sometime in the first half of next year due to ongoing problems with stuck oxidizer valves on the vehicle. A crewed flight test would follow about six months later, with the first commercial mission carrying NASA astronauts in 2023.

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NASA, ULA Launch Lucy Mission to ‘Fossils’ of Planet Formation

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with the Lucy spacecraft aboard is seen in this 2 minute and 30 second exposure photograph as it launches from Space Launch Complex 41, Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Lucy will be the first spacecraft to study Jupiter’s Trojan Asteroids. Like the mission’s namesake – the fossilized human ancestor, “Lucy,” whose skeleton provided unique insight into humanity’s evolution – Lucy will revolutionize our knowledge of planetary origins and the formation of the solar system. (Credits: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE BASE, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Lucy mission, the agency’s first to Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids, launched at 5:34 a.m. EDT Saturday on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

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ULA to Launch Lucy Asteroid Mission on Saturday Morning

Lucy spacecraft inside its payload fairing being installed on its Atlas V booster. (Credit: United Launch Alliance)

CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE BASE, Fla., Oct. 13, 2021 (ULA PR) – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket is in final preparations to launch the Lucy mission for NASA. The launch is on track for Oct. 16 from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. Launch is planned for 5:34 a.m. EDT. The live launch broadcast begins at 5 a.m. EDT on Oct. 16 at  www.ulalaunch.com.

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NASA Sets Coverage, Invites Public to Virtually Join Lucy Launch

An artist’s concept of the Lucy Mission. (Credit: SwRI)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA will provide coverage of upcoming prelaunch and launch activities for Lucy, the agency’s first mission to explore the Jupiter Trojan asteroids. 

Lucy is scheduled to launch no earlier than 5:34 a.m. EDT Saturday, Oct. 16, on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 401 rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

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NOAA’s GOES-T Launch Date Shifts to Feb. 16, 2022

GOES-T is lowered into the thermal vacuum chamber. (Credit: Lockheed Martin)

SILVER SPRING, Md. (NOAA PR) — NOAA and NASA are now targeting Feb. 16, 2022, for the launch of the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite T (GOES-T) mission. The launch was previously planned for Jan. 8, 2022. Changes to launch dates in missions scheduled ahead of GOES-T prompted NASA, NOAA, and United Launch Alliance (ULA) to coordinate the new target date to optimize launch schedules for missions flying from Space Launch Complex-41.

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Built by SNC, Largest Structure Ever Launched for Unmanned Mission Wraps Successful On-Orbit Research Operation for AFRL

Demonstration and Science Experiments spacecraft on the production floor. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

CENTENNIAL, Colo., Sept. 21, 2021 (Sierra Nevada PR) – Global aerospace and national security company Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) concluded a successful two-year on-orbit research mission for U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). The mission utilized SNC’s Demonstration and Science Experiments (DSX) spacecraft in Medium Earth Orbit (MEO), and resulted in research and technologies that advance potential future deployment of Department of Defense (DoD) spacecraft in the harsh radiation environment of MEO. SNC is a longtime leader in the national security space domain; earlier this year the company transferred its civil and commercial space contracts to its new commercial space subsidiary, Sierra Space.

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SpaceX to Launch Turkey’s First Domestically Built Communications Satellite

Falcon 9 launches the Turksat 5A satellite. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

Space X will launch Turkey’s first domestically produced communications satellite, Turksat 6A, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Adil Karaismailoglu announced in a press release. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Turkish engineers will complete assembly, integration and testing of the Turksat 6A by the end of 2022, Karaismailoglu said. The launch will occur in the first quarter of 2023 from Florida.

The satellite will be operated by Turksat S.A., which is the nation’s only communications satellite operator.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 launched the Turksat 5A communications satellite in January from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. SpaceX is scheduled to launch Turksat 5B during the fourth quarter of this year. Airbus Defence and Space built both satellites.

Inspiration4 Crew Arrives in Florida, Targeting September 15 Launch

Inspiration4 crew members Chris Sembroski, Sian Proctor, Jared Isaacman and Hayley Arceneaux. (Credit: Inspiration4)

CAPE CANAVERAL, FL, September 10, 2021 (Inspiration4 PR) – After completing their final day of astronaut training at SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California on Wednesday, September 8, the crew of Inspiration4 arrived in Florida on Thursday, September 9, landing at Space Florida’s Launch and Landing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center just before noon.

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ManTech Wins $476 Million U.S. Space Force Contract for Systems Engineering and Integration Supporting Launch Enterprise Programs

HERNDON, Va., Sept. 07, 2021 (ManTech PR) — ManTech (Nasdaq: MANT), a leading provider of innovative technologies and solutions for mission-critical national security programs, has been awarded a $476 million contract by U.S. Space Force to provide systems engineering solutions for the agency’s Space and Missile Center – now redesignated as Space Systems Command (SSC).

With this 10-year prime contract award, ManTech continues its support for a wide array of mission critical space launch programs with launch service integration, fleet surveillance and certification for space and missile systems at Space Force facilities at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Vandenberg Space Force Base and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. As part of this contract, ManTech is Bringing Digital to the Mission with its investment in Intelligent Systems Engineering solutions to support the Space Force goal of fielding a digital engineering ecosystem fostering both innovation and speed of delivery.

“As the trusted partner of this prominent customer since 2010, we are proud and excited to take the next steps in advancing the missions of U.S. Space Force,” said Andrew Twomey, Executive Vice President and General Manager of ManTech’s Defense Sector. “Applying the world’s finest Intelligent Systems Engineering capabilities, we will meet the standard set by U.S. Space Force – ‘Way Above’ – to build on America’s dominance in space.”

About ManTech

ManTech provides mission-focused technology solutions and services for U.S. defense, intelligence community and federal civilian agencies. In business more than 52 years, we excel in full-spectrum cyber, data collection & analytics, enterprise IT, systems engineering and software application development solutions that support national and homeland security. Additional information on ManTech can be found at www.mantech.com.

Boeing’s Starliner Returns to Factory, Preparations Underway to Resolve Valve Issue

Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft returned Aug. 19, 2021, from the United Launch Alliance Vertical Integration Facility to the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where teams will work to diagnose and resolve a valve issue detected during the Aug. 3 launch attempt of NASA Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2. (Credit: Boeing)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Teams from Boeing and United Launch Alliance (ULA) safely returned the CST-100 Starliner to its production facility in Florida on Aug. 19 for continued work on the spacecraft’s service module propulsion system.

The Starliner Orbital Flight Test-2 spacecraft was removed from its Atlas V rocket inside the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex-41 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida and returned to the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

The team now will perform propulsion system checkouts inside the factory’s hazardous processing area and determine the appropriate vehicle configuration for accessing and analyzing the system further. NASA and Boeing will recommend forward work as part of a formal process designed to aid in determining root cause and remediation steps.

In the weeks ahead, engineering teams from NASA and Boeing will work to diagnose and ultimately resolve a valve issue detected during the Aug. 3 countdown for NASA’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2, and resulted in the decision to postpone the launch destined for the International Space Station.

NASA, Boeing, and ULA will establish a new launch date once the issue is resolved.

Starliner Returning to Factory to Resolve Valve Issue

Boeing engineers continue work at the United Launch Alliance Vertical Integration Facility on the Starliner propulsion system valves. (Credit: Boeing)

CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE STATION, Fla. (Boeing PR) — Today, Boeing informed NASA that the company will destack its CST-100 Starliner from the Atlas V rocket and return the spacecraft to the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility (C3PF) for deeper-level troubleshooting of four propulsion system valves that remain closed after last Tuesday’s scrubbed launch.

Starliner has sat atop the Atlas V rocket in ULA’s Vertical Integration Facility since August 4, where Boeing teams have worked to restore functionality to the affected valves.

The relocation of the spacecraft to the C3PF will require Boeing, NASA and United Launch Alliance to agree on a new launch date once the valve issue is resolved.

“Mission success in human spaceflight depends on thousands of factors coming together at the right time,” said John Vollmer, vice president and program manager, Boeing’s Commercial Crew Program. “We’ll continue to work the issue from the Starliner factory and have decided to stand down for this launch window to make way for other national priority missions.”

Boeing will continue to provide information and updates at www.StarlinerUpdates.com as it becomes available.

NASA, Boeing Make Progress on Starliner Valve Issue

Boeing engineers continue work at the United Launch Alliance Vertical Integration Facility on the Starliner propulsion system valves. (Credit: Boeing)

CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE STATION, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA and Boeing continued work over the weekend and Monday morning on the company’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft service module propulsion system in preparation for the Orbital Flight Test-2 mission to the International Space Station.

Work progressed to restore functionality to several valves in the Starliner propulsion system that did not open as designed during the launch countdown for the Aug. 3 launch attempt. The valves connect to thrusters that enable abort and in-orbit maneuvering.

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Starliner Work in Vertical Integration Facility to Continue Through Weekend

Platforms and scaffolding are up around the Orbital Flight Test-2 Starliner, atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, inside the Vertical Integration Facility. (Credit: Boeing)

CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE STATION, Fla. (Boeing PR) — This weekend, Boeing engineers will continue testing and evaluating the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft inside the Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) at Space Launch Complex-41.

Yesterday, teams powered up the spacecraft to receive data and send commands to the propulsion system valves that unexpectedly indicated “closed” positions early in the launch countdown on Tuesday. The transmitted commands successfully opened some of the valves, giving the team new data to assess while also beginning physical inspections.

“Cautiously optimistic is a good way to describe how the team is feeling,” said John Vollmer, Starliner vice president and program manager. “They’re coming forward with innovative ideas and prioritizing the safety of the spacecraft and their teammates.”

Boeing aims to perform all activities at the VIF before returning to the launch pad for flight. If necessary, the spacecraft could return to the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at Kennedy Space Center for further troubleshooting and inspections and possibly return to the pad for launch this month.

Boeing is assessing multiple launch opportunities for Starliner in August and will work with NASA and United Launch Alliance to confirm those dates when the team is ready to proceed with the Orbital Flight Test-2 mission.

Updates will be provided by NASA and Boeing as information is available.

Please follow @NASA, @Commercial_Crew and @BoeingSpace on Twitter, or visit www.nasa.gov or  www.StarlinerUpdates.com, for more information.