Thursday, December 2, 2021

Flight Hardware Is Being Prepped for SLS Missions That Will Launch Through Late 2031...

A solid rocket booster motor for NASA's Artemis 4 mission is being hoisted vertically at Northrop Grumman’s factory in Promontory, Utah.
NASA

NASA Awards Artemis Contract for Future Mega-Moon Rocket Boosters (Press Release)

NASA has awarded the Booster Production and Operations Contract (BPOC) to Northrop Grumman of Brigham City, Utah, to build boosters for the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket to support nine SLS flights. Northrop Grumman, the lead booster contractor, has produced booster motors for the first three Artemis missions and is casting the motors for the fourth lunar mission.

This contract, with a value of $3.19 billion, definitizes a letter contract awarded in June 2020 that authorized Northrop Grumman to order long-lead items and build twin boosters for the next six SLS flights. The period of performance extends through Dec. 31, 2031. This includes production and operations for boosters for Artemis IV-VIII and design, development, test, and evaluation of a booster as part of Booster Obsolescence and Life Extension (BOLE) for Artemis IX.

“This contract award ensures NASA will have the most powerful solid rocket boosters ever built for future Space Launch System rockets for the Artemis missions to the Moon,” said Bruce Tiller, SLS Booster Manager at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. “The contract allows NASA to work with Northrop Grumman to not only build the boosters for upcoming missions but also to evolve and improve the boosters for future flights.”

The twin solid rocket boosters, which are mounted on the side of the SLS core stage, will produce more than 75% of the thrust for each SLS launch. The boosters were based on the design of the space shuttle solid rocket boosters but include a fifth segment to produce the extra power needed to send the larger SLS rocket to space. As part of this contract, the team also will design and test evolved boosters needed for flights starting with the ninth SLS mission. The new BOLE boosters will replace the steel cases currently used from the space shuttle with a stronger composite case and upgraded structures, electronic thrust vector control systems and propellant materials.

“Our boosters are ready to launch the first flight of the Space Launch System on the Artemis I mission, and we are making great progress producing boosters for the Artemis II, III, and IV missions,” said Tiller. “Upgrading the booster’s performance ensures we can improve SLS’s ability to send astronauts and cargo to the Moon as well as making our processes more efficient.”

The SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft are part of NASA’s backbone for deep space exploration. Through Artemis missions, NASA will land the first woman and the first person of color on the surface of the Moon and establish a long-term lunar presence that serves as a steppingstone on the way to Mars.

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Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Vice President Harris Addresses Current and Future Space Policy Goals for the United States...

Vice President Kamala Harris chairs her first meeting of the National Space Council at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, DC...on December 1, 2021.
NASA / Joel Kowsky

Vice President Highlights STEM in First National Space Council Meeting (Press Release)

Vice President Kamala Harris chaired the first National Space Council meeting of the Biden-Harris Administration Wednesday, Dec. 1 at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington. Prior to the meeting, President Biden expanded the number of participants of the council by executive order, reflecting the Biden-Harris administration’s broad priorities and creating the largest, most diverse space council in the nation’s history.

During the meeting, Vice President Harris led a discussion about how the United States should capitalize on opportunities in space, including promoting peaceful exploration and reducing the risk of miscalculation or conflict in space, addressing the climate crisis, and building a stronger STEM workforce.

“Today, our nation and our world are more active in space than ever before,” Vice President Harris said. “In this new era, we must see all the ways in which space can benefit Earth. We must see all the ways in which space can benefit the people of our nation and of all humanity. This perspective is central to our work as a council because, while exploration of space defined the 20th century, the opportunity of space must guide our work in the 21st.”

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson reflected on the agency’s STEM initiatives to support job creation and maintain America’s innovative and competitive edge.

“Just look at the sparkle in the eyes of children when the topic of space and spaceflight come up. It opens their little eyes into working to get involved. We saw that was the case with the Apollo generation. For a couple generations thereafter, look at the mathematicians and the technicians,” Nelson said. "[NASA has] paid interns and fellows. We get them in. We have them work with NASA professionals. They work on hardware... They do 3D manufacturing. As a result of that, 30% of our interns come to work for NASA. That's why STEM is so important."

Nelson highlighted the breadth of NASA’s STEM engagement, from the more than 6,400 internships, fellowships, and other direct student higher education awards made in the last year alone, to the $35 million in direct financial support to students enrolled in higher education programs.

Vice President Harris also announced the release of the United States Space Priorities Framework, which will guide the council’s efforts to develop and implement national space policy and strategy.

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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Photos of the Day #2: The ISS as Seen from Aboard Crew Dragon Endeavour...

An image of the International Space Station that was taken by European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon Endeavour capsule...on November 8, 2021.
NASA / ESA - Thomas Pesquet

Just thought I'd end this month with these amazing images of the International Space Station that were taken by European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet on November 8...during a flyaround by SpaceX's Crew Dragon Endeavour capsule before she returned back to Earth that night.

This flyaround was the first one conducted by an American spacecraft since the shuttle Atlantis did one final 360-degree manuever around the ISS upon completing flight STS-135 in 2011.

With the Crew Dragon vehicle now capable of doing flyarounds after undocking from the space station, expect more snapshots of the orbital outpost by the astronauts on the current Crew-3 mission and beyond!

Another image of the International Space Station that was taken by European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon Endeavour capsule...on November 8, 2021.
NASA / ESA - Thomas Pesquet

Another image of the International Space Station that was taken by European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon Endeavour capsule...on November 8, 2021.
NASA / ESA - Thomas Pesquet

Another image of the International Space Station that was taken by European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon Endeavour capsule...on November 8, 2021.
NASA / ESA - Thomas Pesquet

Another image of the International Space Station that was taken by European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon Endeavour capsule...on November 8, 2021.
NASA / ESA - Thomas Pesquet

Another image of the International Space Station that was taken by European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon Endeavour capsule...on November 8, 2021.
NASA / ESA - Thomas Pesquet

Another image of the International Space Station that was taken by European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon Endeavour capsule...on November 8, 2021.
NASA / ESA - Thomas Pesquet

Another image of the International Space Station that was taken by European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon Endeavour capsule...on November 8, 2021.
NASA / ESA - Thomas Pesquet

Another image of the International Space Station that was taken by European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon Endeavour capsule...on November 8, 2021.
NASA / ESA - Thomas Pesquet

A final image of the International Space Station that was taken by European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon Endeavour capsule...on November 8, 2021.
NASA / ESA - Thomas Pesquet

Friday, November 26, 2021

Photos of the Day: Assembly Is Now Complete on the ISS Russian Orbital Segment!

A screenshot showing Russia's Prichal module about to dock at the International Space Station...on November 26, 2021.
Roscosmos

After completing a two-day trip to the International Space Station (ISS) that began with the launch aboard a Soyuz 2.1b rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on November 24, Russia's Prichal docking node successfully attached itself to the new Nauka module earlier today...at 7:19 AM, Pacific Standard Time (10:19 AM, Eastern Standard Time).

With the arrival of Prichal, construction has officially concluded on Russia's side of the ISS; an endeavor that began in late 1998 when its Zarya module was mated to NASA's Unity node during space shuttle Endeavour's STS-88 mission.

Here are photos (taken by Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov) of Prichal approaching the ISS courtesy of the modified Progress freighter that it was attached to for launch. Supposedly, even SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule should be able to dock with the new Russian component in the future... Stay tuned.

A snapshot showing Russia's Prichal module approaching the International Space Station for docking...on November 26, 2021.
Roscosmos / Anton Shkaplerov

A snapshot showing Russia's Prichal module approaching the International Space Station for docking...on November 26, 2021.
Roscosmos / Anton Shkaplerov

A snapshot showing Russia's Prichal module about to dock at the International Space Station...on November 26, 2021.
Roscosmos / Anton Shkaplerov

A screenshot showing Russia's Prichal module about to dock at the International Space Station...on November 26, 2021.
NASA TV

An infographic showing the International Space Station's latest configuration now that Russia's Prichal module is attached to the orbital outpost.
NASA

Thursday, November 25, 2021

SpaceShipTwo Update: A Resident of Antigua (and Her Daughter) Will Fly Aboard VSS Unity Next Year!

Keisha S., the Omaze winner who will fly into space aboard VSS Unity next year, poses for a photo next to Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson, Space for Humanity executive director Rachel Lyons and Omaze CEO/co-founder Matt Pohlson in Antigua.
Virgin Galactic

Omaze and Virgin Galactic Announce Winner of Once-in-a-Lifetime Trip to Space (Press Release - November 24)

Virgin Galactic and Sir Richard Branson's Omaze sweepstakes raised an anticipated $1.7M in grants to support Space for Humanity's mission to democratize space travel

Today, Omaze, the charity fundraising platform that offers the chance to win once-in-a-lifetime experiences and prizes, and Virgin Galactic, revealed that Keisha S. from Antigua and Barbuda is the exclusive winner of two seats on a Virgin Galactic commercial space flight. Born and raised in Antigua, Keisha is a health and energy coach who is passionate about empowering women to live their best lives. She has always had a lifelong dream of going to space, and hopes to bring her daughter, an astrophysics student, as her guest on this incredible journey.

Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson, Omaze CEO and co-founder Matt Pohlson, and Space For Humanity executive director Rachel Lyons surprised Keisha at her home in Antigua to share the news that she won.

The sweepstakes kicked off in July following Virgin Galactic’s historic Unity 22 mission, and drew donations from 164,338 people around the world in eight weeks to raise a projected $1.7M in grants benefiting Space for Humanity and their Citizen Astronaut Program. These anticipated grants from Charities Aid Foundation America (CAF America), will help Space for Humanity transform perspectives and train candidates to ensure an inclusive future in space.

“Being able to give people of all ages and backgrounds equal access to space, and in turn, the opportunity to lead and inspire others back on Earth, is what Virgin Galactic has been building towards for the past two decades,” said Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic Founder. “It was remarkable to be there for the beginning of Keisha’s journey to space; she is an extraordinary person who is already inspiring people with the work she does to support women in her home of Antigua and Barbuda. This experience will provide another platform for her to inspire many more people into the future. I couldn’t be happier to see the mission of Virgin Galactic come to life and to work with such amazing partners like Omaze and Space for Humanity in our continued commitment to make space accessible to all.”

Omaze offers people the chance to win once-in-a-lifetime experiences to support charities around the world. Their unique model allows for people who dream big to experience truly out of this world opportunities.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to announce Keisha as the winner of our biggest experience offering to date,” said Matt Pohlson, CEO and Co-Founder of Omaze. “Omaze exists to dream the world better. Not only will a lifelong stargazer get to experience space, but this also helps Space for Humanity open up that opportunity to even more people. Because of that, the partnership with Virgin Galactic and Space for Humanity was a dream come true for Omaze too.”

Keisha will also join Virgin Galactic’s Future Astronaut community, as the first person from the Caribbean islands. The Future Astronaut community is an established and growing family of 700 individuals from over 60 countries, all united by a shared passion for adventure and the desire to push the boundaries of humankind. Through being a member of this community, Keisha and her fellow Future Astronauts will be invited to participate in extraordinary experiences to make new connections and prepare for their journey into space. Along with space anticipation and space readiness, the Future Astronaut community uses its collective power as a force for good by inspiring students to study STEM through their involvement with Galactic Unite.

“I’ve always had a lifelong love of flying and a fascination with space, and this is truly a dream come true for me,” said Keisha. “It means the world to me. I hope to share this experience with my daughter, so together we can inspire the next generation to follow their dreams.”

In addition to experiencing the wonder of space travel, Keisha will receive a guided tour of Spaceport America, the world’s first purpose-built Spaceport in New Mexico, from Sir Richard Branson and the Virgin Galactic team.

Source: Virgin Galactic

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A remote camera image, which was taken from the top of VSS Unity's fuselage, showing the vehicle near the edge of space.
Virgin Galactic

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Artemis 4 Update: A Major Orion Flight Component Will Continue Fabrication in Northern California...

The Super Guppy cargo plane carrying the heat shield for NASA's Orion Artemis 4 capsule arrives at Moffett Federal Airfield in California...on November 9, 2021.
NASA / Ames Research Center / Don Richey

NASA’s Super Guppy Arrives in California with Future Artemis Heat Shield (News Release - November 23)

Crews transported the heat shield skin for a future mission of NASA's Orion spacecraft -- via the agency's Super Guppy oversize cargo transport aircraft -- to Moffett Federal Airfield on November 9. The heat shield skin for the Artemis IV mission, the third crewed mission to the Moon, is now at Moffett Federal Airfield near NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley, for the next phase of production.

Orion's heat shield protects the spacecraft and the astronauts inside the capsule from the intense heat generated while re-entering Earth's atmosphere. When the spacecraft re-enters at roughly 25,000 miles per hour, the heat shield will experience extreme temperatures at about 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit, or about half as hot as the Sun. The heat shield has an underlying titanium skeleton covered by a carbon fiber skin. More than 180 unique blocks are bonded to the heat shield's skin and will slowly burn away as the spacecraft travels through Earth's atmosphere during re-entry.

The recently-delivered heat shield skin will undergo heat- and pressure-treatment at Lockheed Martin's facility in Sunnyvale, California. The heat shield skin is made up of many layers of carbon fabric that are activated by a resin. Once cured, the resin will first soften, then harden to consolidate the skin. The heat- and pressure-treatment will give the skin the necessary mechanical strength properties it needs for Orion's thermal protection system.

Unlike other aircraft, the Super Guppy aircraft has a specially designed hinged nose that opens to an angle of 110 degrees so that cargo can be loaded and unloaded from its belly. The aircraft's unique shape also allows it to carry bulky or heavy hardware that would not otherwise fit on traditional aircraft. At 16.5 feet in diameter, the Orion heat shield and its corresponding skin is the largest heat shield base ever developed for human spaceflight missions.

Ames oversees the development, analysis, and arc jet testing of the entry systems and spacecraft for NASA's Artemis lunar missions. Through Artemis, NASA will land the first woman and first person of color on the lunar surface, conduct extensive operations on and around the Moon, and prepare for the first human mission to Mars.

Source: NASA.Gov

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The heat shield for NASA's Orion Artemis 4 capsule is unloaded from the Super Guppy cargo plane at Moffett Federal Airfield in California...on November 9, 2021.
NASA / Ames Research Center / Don Richey

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Blue Origin Will Send a Super Bowl Champ and the Daughter of an American Space Icon on a Suborbital Flight Next Month...

The six-member crew of Blue Origin's NS-19 mission.
Blue Origin

Alan Shepard’s Daughter Laura Shepard Churchley and GMA Co-Anchor Michael Strahan to Fly on NS-19 Alongside Four Customers (News Release)

New Shepard’s 19th mission will be the first to carry a full manifest of six astronauts to space

Blue Origin today announced the crew of its upcoming NS-19 flight on December 9 will include two honorary guests and four paying customers. Guests include Good Morning America co-anchor Michael Strahan and Laura Shepard Churchley, the eldest daughter of Alan Shepard, who was the first American to fly to space. The four customers include space industry executive and philanthropist Dylan Taylor, investor Evan Dick, Bess Ventures founder Lane Bess, and Cameron Bess. Lane and Cameron Bess will become the first parent-child pair to fly in space.

This mission furthers the company’s vision of millions of people living and working in space for the benefit of Earth. It will be New Shepard’s third human flight this year, the sixth for the program in 2021, and the 19th in its history. It will carry a full manifest of six astronauts to space for the first time.

Live launch coverage begins on BlueOrigin.com at T-90 minutes. Liftoff is currently targeted for 9:00 am CST / 15:00 UTC from Launch Site One in West Texas.

Also on board NS-19 will be a postcard from each astronaut flown on behalf of Blue Origin’s foundation, Club for the Future, whose mission is to help future generations pursue careers in STEM and help invent the future of life in space. The Club’s Postcards to Space program gives students access to space on Blue Origin’s rockets.

Meet the Crew:

Laura Shepard Churchley

Laura has dedicated her life to promoting what her father, Alan Shepard, started when he became the first American in space and the fifth person to walk on the Moon. Alan Shepard is the namesake of New Shepard. She currently serves as Chair of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation Board of Trustees, a foundation that raises funds for college students and provides mentoring to scholars pursuing careers and research in STEM.

Michael Strahan

Michael is a two-time Emmy award winner, Peabody award-winning journalist, and Super Bowl Champion, who currently serves as a co-anchor on ABC’s Good Morning America and host of the top-rated primetime game show $100,000 Pyramid. Strahan additionally serves as an analyst for Fox NFL Sunday and headlines the Thursday Night Football Pregame Show live from New York City. Partnering with his longtime friend Constance Schwartz, Strahan formed SMAC Entertainment, a multi-dimensional talent management, music, branding, and production company which has become known for strong, diversified content, and its production of the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Sports Awards. Strahan is also intensely dedicated to charitable work, supporting the USO, HELP USA, Merging Vets and Players organizations.

Blue Origin invited Michael to join the crew of this flight. As a crew member, he will receive a stipend, which is being donated to The Boys & Girls Club.

Dylan Taylor

Dylan is an active pioneer in the space exploration industry as a CEO, investor, thought leader, and philanthropist. He is the Chairman & CEO of Voyager Space, a global space exploration firm headquartered in Denver, and the founder of the global nonprofit Space for Humanity, which seeks to democratize access to space. He is also co-Founding Patron of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. Known for his commitment to creating positive impact in the world and leading Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) initiatives in the space community, Dylan was named a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute in 2014 and a Fellow of the Unreasonable Group in 2021.

Evan Dick

Evan is an engineer, investor, and Managing Member of Dick Holdings, LLC. Evan formerly served as Senior Vice President for D.E. Shaw and Managing Director of Highbridge Capital Management, and is a charitable supporter of the Darwin Foundation and Population Relief International Corp. Evan is an ATP-rated pilot and volunteer for Starfighters Aerospace, as well as an avid sailor and motorcyclist.

Lane Bess

Lane is the Principal and Founder of Bess Ventures and Advisory, a family fund supporting technology firms that innovate and disrupt across multiple market sectors. Lane is best known for having helped start and build two of the most important cybersecurity companies in the public markets today, Zscaler (NASDQ) and Palo Alto Networks (NYSE). Lane also serves as a Trustee at Carnegie Mellon University and, along with his family, supports philanthropic interests across health and social issues.

Cameron Bess

Cameron is a content creator with a passion for creating and expressing themselves in ways that can brighten a person’s day. After studying Computer Science and Game Design at DigiPen Institute for Technology in Washington, they've developed an engaged community across multiple platforms, producing original content and developing proprietary software to support their audience. Cameron identifies as pansexual and is proud to represent marginalized communities and hopes their journey can inspire others.

Source: Blue Origin

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A New Shepard rocket lifts off from Blue Origin's launch site in West Texas on a flight that took it 389,846 feet above the Earth...on July 18, 2018.
Blue Origin

Thursday, November 18, 2021

ISS Update #2: Russia Will Soon Launch the Newest Addition to Its Nauka Module...

Attached to a modified Progress delivery craft, Russia's Prichal module undergoes launch preps at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Roscosmos

NASA Television to Air Russian Port Module Launch, Docking to Station (Press Release)

NASA will provide live coverage of the upcoming launch and docking of a new Russian docking module to the International Space Station. The events will air on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

The five-ton Prichal docking module and its modified, uncrewed Russian Progress delivery spacecraft are scheduled to launch atop a Soyuz 2.1b booster from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 8:06 a.m. EST (6:06 p.m. Baikonur time) on Wednesday, Nov. 24. Live coverage will begin at 7:45 a.m.

After separating from the Soyuz rocket’s upper stage, Progress will transport Prichal for an automated docking with the space station’s Nauka multipurpose laboratory module two days later, at 10:26 a.m. Friday, Nov. 26. Coverage of rendezvous and docking will begin at 9:30 a.m.

Prichal, named for the Russian word for port or berth, has five available docking ports to accommodate multiple Russian spacecraft and provide fuel transfer capability to the Nauka module.

To make room for Prichal, the recently relocated, uncrewed Progress 78 cargo craft will undock from Nauka at 6:21 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 25, and follow a path to burn up upon reentry in the Earth’s atmosphere. NASA TV will not cover the Progress 78 undocking or reentry.

The modified Progress transport spacecraft that will guide Prichal to the station will detach from Prichal in late December and burn up during reentry over the Pacific Ocean.

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Wednesday, November 17, 2021

ISS Update: The Crew-4 Mission Has Received Its Fourth and Final Crew Member...

NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins will be making her first flight into space courtesy of the Crew-4 mission to the International Space Station early next year.
NASA / Bill Ingalls

NASA Assigns Astronaut Jessica Watkins to NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 Mission (Press Release - November 16)

NASA has assigned astronaut Jessica Watkins to serve as a mission specialist on the agency’s upcoming SpaceX Crew-4 mission, the fourth crew rotation flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station.

This will be Watkins’ first trip to space following her selection as an astronaut in 2017. Watkins joins NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren and Robert Hines, as well as ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, as a crew member for the Crew-4 mission.

NASA previously announced the assignments of Lindgren and Hines as spacecraft commander and pilot, respectively, in February, and ESA announced Cristoforetti as a mission specialist for the mission in May.

Crew-4 is scheduled to launch in April 2022 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for a six-month science mission aboard the microgravity laboratory.

Watkins was born in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and considers Lafayette, Colorado, her hometown. She earned a bachelor’s degree in geological and environmental sciences from Stanford University and a doctorate in geology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Watkins conducted her graduate research on the emplacement mechanisms of large landslides on Mars and Earth. She began her career at NASA as an intern and has worked at the agency’s Ames Research Center in California and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. At the time of her astronaut selection, Watkins was a postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences at the California Institute of Technology, where she collaborated as a member of the Science Team for the Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity.

For more than 21 years, humans have lived and worked continuously aboard the International Space Station in low-Earth Orbit, advancing scientific knowledge, demonstrating new technologies, and making research breakthroughs not possible on Earth.

Through the Commercial Crew Program and broader commercial efforts, NASA is working with private industry to develop human space transportation services and a robust low-Earth orbit economy that enables the agency to focus on building spacecraft and rockets for deep space missions to the Moon and Mars.

Follow Watkins on Instagram throughout her mission and get the latest space station crew news, images and features on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Artemis 1 Update: NASA Gets Ready to Transport SLS to Launch Pad 39B Later Next Month...

The Orion Artemis 1 capsule is soft-mated to NASA's Space Launch System rocket inside High Bay 3 of Kennedy Space Center's Vehicle Assembly Building in Florida...on October 20, 2021.
NASA

NASA to Roll Out Mega-Moon Rocket for First Time, Media Invited (Press Release)

Media registration is now open to capture imagery and video as NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft roll out of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida this winter for the first time. SLS and Orion will journey to Launch Pad 39B atop the crawler transporter-2 for a test in preparation for the agency’s Artemis I mission.

The exact date for the move is currently under review. Additional information on timing, as well as interview opportunities and NASA coverage for the final prelaunch test, known as a wet dress rehearsal, will be provided later. No onsite media support is planned during the test itself at this time.

During the rollout, media will have the opportunity to follow the journey from the iconic VAB to the pad from multiple locations. Experts from NASA and its partners will be available to answer questions during the beginning and end of rollout operations.

During the test, planned approximately a week after arriving at the pad, teams from Kennedy’s Exploration Ground Systems, as well as the primary contractor, Jacobs, will load the rocket with more than 700,000 gallons of cryogenic, or supercold, propellants and the team will run through the launch countdown sequence, ending prior to engine ignition. Engineers also will demonstrate procedures to drain the propellants from the rocket. After the test, the rocket and spacecraft will return to the VAB for final checkouts before launch.

Accreditation for this activity is open to U.S. and international media. International media must apply by Sunday, Nov. 28. U.S. media must apply by Wednesday, Dec. 8.

All media accreditation requests must be submitted online at:

https://media.ksc.nasa.gov

NASA’s COVID-19 policies are updated as necessary and to remain consistent with guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and White House Safer Federal Workforce Task Force. COVID-19 safety protocols for this event will be communicated closer to the date of the event. The agency also will communicate any updates that may impact mission planning or media access as necessary.

For questions about accreditation, please email: ksc-media-accreditat@mail.nasa.gov.

For other questions, please contact Kennedy’s newsroom at: 321-867-2468.

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