SpaceX Completes Crew Dragon In-flight Abort Test in Florida

NASA and SpaceX completed a launch escape demonstration of the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket on Jan. 19, 2020. The test began at 10:30 a.m. EST with liftoff from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on a mission to show the spacecraft’s capability to safely separate from the rocket in the unlikely event of an inflight emergency. (Credits: NASA Television)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA and SpaceX completed a launch escape demonstration of the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket Sunday. This was the final major flight test of the spacecraft before it begins carrying astronauts to the International Space Station under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

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SpaceX Crew Dragon In-flight Abort Test Set for Saturday

In-flight abort is the final, major test before astronauts fly aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. (Credits: SpaceX)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (SpaceX PR) — SpaceX is targeting Saturday, January 18 for an in-flight test of Crew Dragon’s launch escape capabilities from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

This test, which does not have NASA astronauts onboard the spacecraft, is intended to demonstrate Crew Dragon’s ability to reliably carry crew to safety in the unlikely event of an emergency on ascent.

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NASA’s New Moon Rover Tested in Lunar Operations Lab

Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) engineering model undergoing tests. (Credit: NASA / Bridget Caswell, Alcyon Technical Services)

CLEVELAND (NASA PR) — An engineering model of the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER, is tested in the Simulated Lunar Operations Laboratory at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

About the size of a golf cart, VIPER is a mobile robot that will roam around the Moon’s South Pole looking for water ice in the region and for the first time ever, actually sample the water ice at the same pole where the first woman and next man will land in 2024 under the Artemis program.

The large, adjustable soil bin contains lunar simulant and allows engineers to mimic the Moon’s terrain. Engineers from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, where the rover was designed and built, joined the Glenn team to complete the tests.

Test data will be used to evaluate the traction of the vehicle and wheels, determine the power requirements for a variety of maneuvers and compare methods of traversing steep slopes. Respirators are worn by researchers to protect against the airborne silica that is present during testing.  

VIPER is a collaboration within and beyond the agency.  NASA’s  Ames  Research Center in Silicon Valley is managing the project, leading the mission’s science, systems engineering, real-time rover surface operations and software.

The rover’s instruments are provided by Ames, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and commercial partner, Honeybee Robotics in  California.  The spacecraft, lander and launch vehicle that will deliver VIPER to the surface of the Moon will be provided through NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program, delivering science and technology payloads to and near the Moon.  

NASA Rings in Busy New Year in Florida to Prepare for Artemis Missions

The Orion crew module for Artemis I is lifted by crane on July 16, 2019, in the high bay inside the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The crew module was moved to the final assembly and test cell and work was completed to secure it atop the service module. (Credits: NASA/Ben Smegelsky)

by Linda Herridge
NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida will have a busy year preparing facilities, ground support equipment and space hardware for the launch of Artemis I, the first uncrewed launch of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the Orion spacecraft. In 2020, Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) activities will ramp up as launch hardware arrives and teams put systems in place for Artemis I and II missions.

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NASA to Provide Live Coverage of SpaceX Crew Dragon In-flight Abort Test

Crew Dragon abort static test (Credit: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA will provide coverage of the upcoming prelaunch and launch activities for the SpaceX Crew Dragon launch escape demonstration, as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program, which is working with U.S. companies to launch American astronauts on American rockets and spacecraft from American soil.

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SpaceX, NASA Gear up for In-Flight Abort Demonstration

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA and SpaceX are preparing to launch the final, major test before astronauts fly aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

The test, known as in-flight abort, will demonstrate the spacecraft’s escape capabilities — showing that the crew system can protect astronauts even in the unlikely event of an emergency during launch. The uncrewed flight test is targeted for 8 a.m. EST Saturday, Jan. 18, at the start of a four-hour test window, from Launch Complex 39A in Florida.

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SpaceX Designing Service Tower for Pad 39A

Falcon Heavy on the launch pad. (Credit: SpaceX)

Spaceflight Now reports that SpaceX is completing plans for a mobile service tower so the company can integrate U.S. military satellites onto its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy boosters while they are in a vertical position on Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

The tower will surround Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets at pad 39A, shielding the vehicles from storms and high winds and providing a controlled environment for ground crews to hoist heavy satellites and mount them on top of the launch vehicles in a vertical configuration.

SpaceX currently installs satellites, already cocooned inside their payload shrouds, onto Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets horizontally inside hangars near the company’s launch pads. But some of thee U.S. government’s most sensitive intelligence-gathering satellites, some of which come with billion-dollar or higher price tags, are designed to be mounted on their launch vehicles vertically.

SpaceX officials said the vertical integration capability is required for participants in the National Security Space Launch Phase 2 Launch Service Procurement. The U.S. Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center — now part of the U.S. Space Force — released a request for proposals for the Phase 2 Launch Service Procurement last May.

The military plans to select two companies later this year to launch the Pentagon’s most critical satellite missions from 2022 through 2026. The military’s incumbent National Security Space Launch providers — United Launch Alliance and SpaceX — are competing for the lucrative contracts with newcomers Northrop Grumman and Blue Origin for the Phase 2 contracts.

Northrop Grumman Signs Customer for First Flight of OmegA Rocket

OmegA rocket (Credit: Orbital ATK)

DULLES, Va., Dec. 12, 2019 (Northrop Grumman PR) – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) announced that Saturn Satellite Networks has selected the OmegA space launch vehicle to launch up to two satellites on the rocket’s inaugural flight scheduled for spring 2021. OmegA will launch from Kennedy Space Center’s Pad 39B and insert the SSN satellites into a geosynchronous transfer orbit.

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Going with the Flow: EGS Team Tests Flow of Cryogenic Fluids

A liquid hydrogen storage tank is photographed at Launch Pad 39B on Nov. 8, 2019, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credits: NASA/Ben Smegelsky)

By Danielle Sempsrott
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

With NASA’s mobile launcher at Launch Pad 39B for final verification and testing, the agency’s Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) team has completed another critical set of tests, bringing the agency even closer to the first integrated launch of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft for the Artemis I mission. Over the course of two weekends, teams tested the flow of cryogenic fluids through the pad’s infrastructure – those systems that will send liquid hydrogen (LH2) and liquid oxygen (LOX) to the rocket at the time of launch.

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NASA Teams Conduct Crucial SLS Booster Stacking Exercise

Teams practice Space Launch System booster stacking. (Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Teams from NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems and Space Launch System (SLS) practice SLS booster stacking with pathfinders inside Kennedy Space Center’s Vehicle Assembly Building.

The goal of the training, which took place Nov. 18 through Nov. 20, was to practice booster segment mate. Using overhead cranes and booster handling activities, the teams focused on procedures for mating a center segment onto a cylinder that simulated another segment. The exercise was performed around the clock, operating three shifts per day.

SLS will launch the first woman and next man to the Moon by 2024 through the Artemis program. For more information, click here.

Orion Spacecraft Arrives in Ohio Aboard the Super Guppy

The Super Guppy is opened at dawn to reveal Orion spacecraft inside. (Credits: NASA/Bridget Caswell)


MANSFIELD, Ohio (NASA PR) — Almost 1,500 people turned out Sunday, November 24 to watch NASA’s Super Guppy aircraft arrive at Mansfield Lahm Airport with the Orion spacecraft for Artemis I aboard.  After viewing exhibits, the crowd gathered at the flight line to await the aircraft.

At about 4:35 p.m. EST, the Guppy, which had traveled from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, appeared in the eastern sky on approach.

Super Guppy with Orion spacecraft aboard comes in for a landing. (Credits: NASA/Marvin Smith)

Once the Guppy touched down, there was a loud cheer from the crowd as it taxied to a stop for the night just as the sun began to set. 

The nose of the Guppy was opened at sunrise on Monday, November 25  revealing the packaged Orion spacecraft inside. It has been removed from the aircraft and is loaded onto a large flatbed trailer so it can be transported to NASA’s Plum Brook Station for testing.

Crowds gather to greet Super Guppy with Orion spacecraft aboard. (Credits: NASA/Marvin Smith)

Completed in two phases inside the world’s largest vacuum chamber, testing will begin with a thermal test, which will last approximately 60 days, while Orion’s systems are powered-on under vacuum conditions that simulate the space environment.

During this phase, the spacecraft will be subjected to extreme temperatures, ranging from -250 to 300-degrees Fahrenheit, to replicate flying in-and-out of sunlight and shadow in space. The second phase is an electromagnetic interference and compatibility test, lasting about 14 days. This testing will ensure the spacecraft’s electronics work properly when operated at the same time.

Super Guppy with Orion spacecraft inside parked on the tarmac in Ohio. (Credits: NASA/Bridget Caswell)

After successful completion, the spacecraft will return to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, where it will begin integration with the powerful Space Launch System rocket for the Artemis I launch.

View more images of Orion’s arrival in Ohio.

Crew Dragon In-flight Abort Test Set for No Earlier Than December

Crew Dragon abort static test (Credit: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Media accreditation is open for SpaceX’s In-Flight Abort Test as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The flight test of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft is targeted for no earlier than December – an exact test date still is to be determined — from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

This will be among the final major tests for the company before NASA astronauts will fly aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft. As part of the test, SpaceX will configure the spacecraft to trigger a launch escape shortly after liftoff and demonstrate Crew Dragon’s capability to safely separate from the rocket in the unlikely event of an in-flight emergency. The demonstration also will provide valuable data toward NASA certifying SpaceX’s crew transportation system for carrying astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is working with the American aerospace industry through a public-private partnership to launch astronauts on American rockets and spacecraft from American soil for the first time since 2011. The goal of the program is safe, reliable and cost-effective transportation to and from the International Space Station, which could allow for additional research time and increase the opportunity for discovery aboard humanity’s testbed for exploration. The space station remains the springboard to NASA’s next great leap in exploration, including future missions to the Moon and eventually to Mars.

For test coverage, NASA’s launch blog, and more information about the test, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew

NASA Faces Billions in Deferred Maintenance & Repairs

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Although NASA has made some progress in repairing and rebuilding its aging infrastructure, the space agency faces a deferred maintenance backlog of $2.65 billion, according to a new report by the Office of Inspector General (IG).

NASA is one of the biggest managers of property in the federal government, with 5,000 buildings and structures in 14 states. More than 83 percent of the structures are beyond their original design life, the review found.

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SNC’s “Shooting Star” Arrives at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

Dream Chaser cargo module. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

SPARKS, Nev., November 19, 2019 (SNC PR) – Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), the global aerospace and national security leader owned by Eren and Fatih Ozmen, delivered a test version of its Shooting Star cargo module to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center for testing ahead of its planned launch with SNC’s Dream Chaser® spacecraft in 2021.

Shooting Star is a 15-foot attachment to Dream Chaser that will be used on NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS-2) contract to provide extra storage for payloads and to facilitate cargo disposal upon re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere. 

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NASA Small Business, Tipping Point Contracts Advance Small Moon Rover

CubeRover on the lunar surface. (Credit: CubeRover)

By Jim Cawey
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

A partnership involving NASA and a Pittsburgh-based space robotics company and university will let us explore the lunar surface in new ways. The project to develop a shoebox-sized rover is part of a multifaceted approach to mature commercial space capabilities that benefit future NASA missions under the Artemis program. 

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