MAIN / INDEX / GAMES / JOURNAL ENTRIES & UPDATES / ASK PARMAN! / VIDEOS / FRIENDS' GALLERY / GALLERY 2 / FAVORITES / FICTION / DRAWINGS / LINKS / AUTOGRAPHS / FILM NOTES / NAME IN SPACE / HUMAN SPACEFLIGHT BLOG / CREDITS


Monday, March 31, 2014

Space Launch System Update...

A dome for the Space Launch System's cryogenic fuel tank, built by Dynetics, undergoes welding at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
NASA / MSFC / Dynetics

Dynetics Meets Milestone on Advanced Booster Work (Press Release)

Dynetics recently met a milestone in the company’s work on the Space Launch System (SLS) Advanced Booster Engineering Demonstration and/or Risk Reduction (ABEDRR) contract. Using the robotic weld tool at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, the Dynetics friction stir weld team successfully completed the first two dome to y-ring welds as part of its work on a full-scale cryogenic tank for the SLS. The cryogenic tank is an 18-foot diameter welded aluminum structure that weighs more than 20,000 pounds and is composed of some of the thickest material ever welded on that tool.

The two-dome assemblies will be welded to barrels on the vertical assembly tool at Marshall Space Flight Center later this spring to form a complete tank. This will be the first full-scale hardware to be welded on the vertical assembly tool.

This work is part of a contract NASA awarded in the fall of 2012 and is being performed in partnership with Aerojet Rocketdyne to reduce risks for advanced boosters that could help meet SLS’s future capability needs. Dynetics, the prime contractor, is designing and fabricating a full-scale cryogenic tank that it will test to verify the structural design of the affordable booster concept.

At the end of the contract’s third quarter, the Dynetics team had successfully manufactured its first two full-scale, 18-foot diameter cryogenic tank barrels, taking advantage of the cutting edge friction stir welding tools at Marshall Space Flight Center. Kim Doering, Dynetics’ space division manager, said the team took the flight-weight tank barrels all the way from design to successful manufacturing in less than 10 months, demonstrating that Dynetics’ affordable booster structures approach was credible.

“We are pleased to be making such significant progress,” said Doering, “and are excited to be working in such close partnership with Marshall Space Flight Center to advance its mission.”

Source: Dynetics.com

****

A close-up of the friction stir welding tool used to fabricate a dome used on Dynetic's cryogenic fuel tank for NASA's Space Launch System.
NASA / MSFC / Dynetics

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Spaceport USA...

An aerial view of NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
NASA

NASA Marks Major Programmatic Milestone for Spaceport of the Future (Press Release)

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.

Source: NASA.Gov

****

An illustration depicting the SLS poised for launch at LC-39B at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
NASA / MSFC

Friday, March 14, 2014

EFT-1's Launch Moved to December...

At the Operations and Checkout Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the service module for the Orion EFT-1 spacecraft is mated to the adapter that will connect the capsule to its Delta IV Heavy launch vehicle in December of 2014.
NASA

Orion Makes Testing, Integration Strides Ahead of First Launch to Space (Press Release)

Orion is marching ever closer to its first trip to space on a flight that will set the stage for human exploration of new destinations in the solar system.

The Orion team continues to work toward completing the spacecraft to be ready for a launch in September-October. However, the initial timeframe for the launch of Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1) has shifted from September-October to early December to support allowing more opportunities for launches this year. Completing the spacecraft according to the original schedule will allow many engineers and technicians to continue transitioning to work on the Orion spacecraft that will fly atop the agency's Space Launch System. It will also ensure that NASA's partners are fully ready for the launch of EFT-1 at the earliest opportunity on the manifest.

To that end, the core and starboard boosters for the United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket that will launch Orion into space for the first time arrived at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station this month. That leaves just one booster still in production at the company's Decatur, Ala., facility. It's scheduled to arrive in April along with the rocket's upper stage, and will join the other boosters inside ULA's Horizontal Integration Facility for processing and testing.

Meanwhile, in the spacecraft factory at Kennedy Space Center - the Operations and Checkout Facility - Orion itself is making progress of its own.

After completing construction on the service module in January, engineers at Kennedy moved on to testing whether it could withstand the stresses that it will endure during launch and in space. The service module sits below Orion's crew module and above the rocket, and would normally provide power and in-space propulsion and house a number of other systems that aren't needed on this first flight. Despite being pushed and twisted in multiple directions, the service module came through the tests not only unscathed, but earlier than planned.

Once the service module testing was completed, it was the crew module's turn.

Almost all of the spacecraft's avionics components have been installed, and system by system, the engineers are powering them up. It's a methodical, deliberate process, in which each connector is checked individually before they're hooked up and the system turned on to make sure each battery, heater, camera and processor - to name a few - works on its own, before the entire system is turned on together. Otherwise, one faulty cable could damage an entire, one-of-a-kind system.

The process is called functional testing, and once it's complete and all 59 systems have been verified, the engineers will graduate to performance testing, in which all of the systems work together to operate the crew module as a whole. Ultimately, they'll be able to turn on all of the flight computers, radios and other systems at once and simulate the vehicle's sensors so that the spacecraft thinks its flying in space.

The crew module testing will wrap up in April, and then Orion's heat shield - the largest of its kind ever built - will be installed. With that in place, the crew module, service module and launch abort system will be ready to mate this spring. Its launch later this year will send Orion 3,600 miles above the Earth for a two-orbit flight that will give engineers the chance to verify its design and test some of the systems most critical for the safety of the astronauts who will fly on it in the future. After traveling 15 times farther into space than the International Space Station, Orion will return to Earth at speeds near 20,000 mph, generating temperatures of up to 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit, before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean.

Source: NASA.Gov

****

The core and starboard Delta IV boosters that will be used on EFT-1 arrive inside the Horizontal Integration Facility at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, on March 4, 2014.
NASA / Kim Shiflett

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

One More Milestone for EFT-1...

An artist's concept of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle soaring in Earth orbit atop a Delta IV upper stage motor.
NASA

Earlier today, two of the three core boosters that will comprise the Delta IV Heavy rocket used on Exploration Flight Test (EFT)-1 arrived at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) in Florida. Now ready to be processed for launch are the starboard and core boosters for the Delta IV, while the port booster and upper stage motor are scheduled to arrive at CCAFS next month. Riding atop this mammoth vehicle is the Orion spacecraft...which will make its debut flight out of Earth's atmosphere on EFT-1 this September.

The core and starboard Delta IV boosters that will be used on Exploration Flight Test (EFT)-1 are about to be unloaded from a barge at Port Canaveral, Florida, on March 4, 2014.
NASA / Kim Shiflett

A Delta IV booster that will be used on EFT-1 is unloaded from a barge at Port Canaveral, Florida, on March 4, 2014.
NASA / Kim Shiflett

The core and starboard Delta IV boosters that will be used on EFT-1 are transported to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, on March 4, 2014.
NASA / Kim Shiflett

The core and starboard Delta IV boosters that will be used on EFT-1 are transported to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, on March 4, 2014.
NASA / Kim Shiflett

The core and starboard Delta IV boosters that will be used on EFT-1 arrive inside the Horizontal Integration Facility at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, on March 4, 2014.
NASA / Kim Shiflett

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Gravity...

Alfonso Cuarón's space disaster thriller GRAVITY won the most Oscars of any film at the 86th annual Academy Awards...held in Hollywood, CA, on March 2, 2014.
Photo courtesy of Gravity - Facebook.com

In honor of Gravity winning the most Oscars of any film during the 86th annual Academy Awards tonight, NASA marked the occasion by tweeting actual photos taken in space under the hashtag #RealGravity on Twitter. This public relations effort paid off...with each of the images posted (five of them are shown below) getting retweeted by thousands of people during the Oscar telecast. Gravity won seven Academy Awards...with Alfonso Cuarón taking home the trophy for Best Director, and his critically-acclaimed sci-fi hit winning for Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing and Best Visual Effects. However, like 1995's Apollo 13 before it, Gravity was the latest space-themed movie to fall short of winning Best Picture—with that honor going to Steve McQueen's historical epic, 12 Years A Slave.

The Hubble Space Telescope is placed inside space shuttle Atlantis' payload bay by the crew members of mission STS-125, on May 13, 2009.
NASA

Astronaut Steven L. Smith works on the Hubble Space Telescope (not visible here) during shuttle mission STS-125.
NASA

Strapped to a Manned Maneuvering Unit, Bruce McCandless II floats away from space shuttle Challenger during mission STS-41B in 1984.
NASA

A night view of Australia as seen from aboard the International Space Station.
NASA

The Sun shines over the Russian segment of the International Space Station.
NASA

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Photo of the Day...

These two CubeSats are among several nanosatellites that were deployed from the International Space Station on February 26 and 27, respectively.
NASA

Deploying a Set of CubeSats From the International Space Station (Press Release - February 28)

A set of NanoRacks CubeSats is photographed by an Expedition 38 crew member after deployment by the NanoRacks Launcher attached to the end of the Japanese robotic arm. The CubeSats program contains a variety of experiments such as Earth observations and advanced electronics testing. International Space Station solar array panels are at left. Earth's horizon and the blackness of space provide the backdrop for the scene. Two sets of CubeSats were deployed late Wednesday, Feb. 26 and early Thursday, Feb. 27, leaving just two more launches to go of the 33 CubeSats that were delivered to the station in January by Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus cargo ship. The latest CubeSats were sent on their way at 8:50 p.m. EST Wednesday and 2:40 a.m. Thursday. CubeSats are a class of research spacecraft called nanosatellites and have small, standardized sizes to reduce costs. Two final batches of CubeSats are set for deployment at 11:20 p.m. Thursday and 2:30 a.m. Friday, but more are scheduled to be delivered to the station on the second Orbital commercial resupply mission in May.

Source: NASA.Gov