Zero-G News
Volume 14; Issue 205 ~ Zero-G News (ISSN 2333-7257) ~ A Publication Of Ares Institute, Inc.
Breaking News
SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft Blasts Off On Second Mission To Resupply ISS
Major experiments that will look into the human body...
Rocket Lab Conducts Historic Test Flight Of Electron Launch Vehicle
Rocket Lab broke new ground today when its Electron...
Falcon 9 Successfully Deploys Its Heaviest Geosynchronous Comsat To Date
Demonstrating SpaceX”s ramped-up two missions per month launch rate,...
Startup Company Vector Space Systems’ Vector-R Rocket Makes Its First Test Flight
Vector, a micro satellite space launch company comprised of...
NASA Selects CubeSat, SmallSat Mission Concept Studies
NASA has selected 10 studies under the Planetary Science...
Delta IV Lights Up The Night To Deliver Advanced Military Communications Satellite
Blazing a fiery trail in the sky above Cape...
Falcon 9 Lofts Commercial Satellite On Second Launch From LC-39A
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket successfully orbited the EchoStar XXIII...
NASA Preps Cygnus For Third Flight On Atlas
Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft is being prepped for it...
Booster Issue Delays Delta IV / WGS-9 Launch
United Launch Alliance announced this evening that the launch...
Atlas V Wins NASA’s JPSS-2 Launch Contract
NASA’s Launch Services Program has selected United Launch Alliance’s...
Atlas V Lofts NROL-79 For The National Reconnaissance Office
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying a...
Goddard’s IceCube SmallSat Ready for Launch, Space Station Deployment
Less is more, and that’s not just a buzz...
SpaceX Surprises With Planned Human Lunar Mission Announcement
Elon Musk is not someone who could be described...
CubeSats: Shaping Possibilities in Space
For more than a decade, CubeSats, or small satellites, have...
Falcon 9 Soars On Historic Launch From KSC
Nearly five years after the final space shuttle mission...
NASA Announces Eighth Class of Candidates for Launch of CubeSat Space Missions
NASA has selected 34 small satellites from 19 states...
NASA And NanoRacks Parter On First Commercial ISS Airlock
The International Space Station allows NASA to conduct cutting-edge...
NASA Langley Ozone Sensor Set for Launch to Space Station
Brooke Thornton has devoted eight years to a project...
NASA Sounding Rocket Successfully Launches into Alaskan Night
An experiment to measure nitric oxide in the polar...
Kennedy Space Center’s NASA Day of Remembrance Honors Fallen Astronauts
On Jan. 26, 2017, Kennedy Space Center employees and...
Atlas Begins 2017 With Successful Launch Of Missile Warning Satellite
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket successfully launched...
Falcon 9 Returns To Flight To Orbit Next-Generation Iridium Spacecraft
Four and a half months after a devastating explosion...
NASA Awards Contract for Series of CubeSat Technology Missions
NASA’s Small Spacecraft Technology Program has selected Tyvak Nanosatellite...
SpaceX Falcon 9 / Iridium NEXT FAA Launch License
Comments What do you think?
NASA Orders Additional Commercial Crew Flights From Boeing, SpaceX
NASA took another big step to ensure reliable crew...
NASA Selects Mission to Study Black Holes, Cosmic X-ray Mysteries
NASA has selected a science mission that will allow...
SpaceX Pinpoints Cause Of Falcon 9 Explosion, Targets Launch Next Week
Four months after a massive fireball destroyed a Falcon...
Next-Generation Weather Satellite Successfully Launches On Atlas V
Perched atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket,...
Antares Returns To Flight Carrying Critical Supplies For ISS
Orbital ATK successfully launched its Antares rocket carrying a...
NASA Prepares The Next-Generation Of Weather Satellite For Launch
On September 27, NASA offered members of the media...
Falcon 9 Accident Traced To Upper Stage Helium System Breach
(Editor’s Note: This is an update provided to Zero-G...
Orbital ATK Sets Target Window For Antares Return-To-Flight
Orbital ATK is targeting no earlier than Oct. 9-13,...
United Launch Alliance Announces CubeSat STEM Education Program Winners
United Launch Alliance (ULA) has selected four proposals from...
KSC Visitor Complex Destination: Mars Experience Offers A Virtual Reality Tour Of Mars
A walk on Mars may be in the future...
Emergency management: A behind the scenes look on the Eastern Range
Last week, the 45th Space Wing’s Incident Management Team...
NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Begins Seven-Year Odyssey To Sample An Asteroid
Blazing a trail into the early evening sky, the...
Firing Up Rocket Engine Tests
A 100-pound liquid oxygen/liquid methane engine fires up after...
SpaceX Begins Test Fire Series On Landed Falcon 9 First Stage
Looking to re-launch one of their succeffully-landed Falcon 9...
NASA Orders Second Commercial Crew Dragon Mission From SpaceX
NASA took another important step Friday in returning U.S....
Atlas V Launches Classified Communications Relay Satellite For NRO
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying...
SpaceX Launches 9th Cargo Mission To ISS, Delivers Groundbreaking Science
Instruments to perform the first-ever DNA sequencing in space,...
Orbital ATK Conducts Final Qualification Test For Space Launch System Booster
A booster for the most powerful rocket in the...
Delta IV Blazes The Night Sky To Launch Clandestine Spy Satellite
Just five days after successfully orbiting the GPS IIF-12...
Final Block 2 GPS Satellite Launches On Atlas V
Continuing a record of perfect mission reliability, a United...
Falcon 9 Returns To Flight, Completes Historic First Earth Landing
Plummeting through the black sky above Cape Canaveral at...
SpaceX Targets December 19 Falcon 9 Return To Flight
Nearly six months after a space station resupply mission...
Cygnus Returns To Space Riding The Powerful Atlas Rocket
Space station cargo resupply missions from U.S. soil resumed...
Atlas V Successfully Launches Penultimate GPF IIF Series Spacecraft
Soaring through a crystal-clear autumn afternoon, a United Launch...
United Launch Alliance Marks 100th Launch With Morelos-3 Success
United Launch Alliance successfully launched its 100th mission today...
Atlas Successfully Deploys Fourth Mobile Comsat For U.S. Navy
Putting on a spectacular pre-sunrise light show, a United...
NASA Awards Grants For Transformative Space Technologies
NASA has selected eight university-led proposals to study innovative,...
Space Launch System RS-25 Main Engine Completes Key Full-Duration Test
Aerojet Rocketdyne has successfully completed a full duration (535...
Orbital ATK Updates Progress On ISS Cargo Delivery Program
Orbital ATK is on track to launch its next...
Orion Spacecraft Begins Critical Design Review Milestone
NASA’s Orion Program kicked off its critical design review...
NASA’s Space Launch System Passes Critical Design Review Milestone
You know the feeling of pride and achievement when...
Delta IV Launches High Capacity Digital WGS-7 Military Comsat
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket successfully...
Kennedy Space Center Opens New Small Vehicle Launch Complex
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida took another step...
Atlas Delivers Again With Newest Air Force GPS Satellite
The newest member of the the Air Force’s worldwide...
NASA Names First Four Commercial Crew Program Astronauts
As Boeing and SpaceX continue working toward the goal...
Video Feature: SpaceX Falcon 9 CRS-7 Launch In Slow Motion
During this month’s launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9...
SpaceX Delays Crucial Test, Moves Crew Dragon Abort Test To KSC
Following the successful pad abort test in May, SpaceX...
First Falcon 9 Loss Leaves SpaceX Reeling, Challenges ISS Resupply Lines
Sunday’s loss of the 19th Falcon 9 rocket on...
NASA Launches Suborbital Rocket From Wallops With Student Experiments
NASA successfully launched a NASA Terrier-Improved Orion suborbital sounding...
NASA Hosts Rocket Week at Wallops Flight Facility
Students and educators from across the country will have...
Atlas V Launches Secret X-37B Spaceplane And Novel Solar Sail Experiment
With help from NASA, a small research satellite to...
SpaceX Successfully Completes Crew Dragon PAd Abort Test
A loud whoosh, faint smoke trail and billowing parachutes...
Five Things To Know About Dragon’s Pad Abort Test
Crew Dragon’s first critical flight test, known as a...
Blue Origin Conducts First Test Flight Of New Shepard Suborbital Rocket
Secretive space startup Blue Origin achieved a significant milestone...
NASA Launches RockSat-X Sounding Rocket With University Payloads
A NASA Terrier-Improved Malemute suborbital sounding rocket carrying the...
Falcon 9 Blasts Off With Cargo Supporting NASA’s One-Year Mission
Two tons of supplies and research cargo are headed...
Blue Origin Completes Acceptance Testing of New Shepard BE-3 Engine
Blue Origin recently completed acceptance testing of its BE‑3...
NASA’s Space Launch System to Boost Science with Secondary Payloads
When NASA’s new Space Launch System (SLS) launches on...
American And Russian Begin Yearlong Orbital Journey
ISS One-Year Mission Expedition 43 Soyuz TMA-16M Launch Coverage...
Delta IV Hits The Mark With Another Successful GPS Launch
Piercing a thick layer of clouds that hung low...
United Launch Alliance Lets The Public Name Its New Rocket
ULA is offering the public the opportunity to select...
SpaceX Clarifies Reason For TurkmenAlem52E Launch Delay
Over the weekend, SpaceX filled in some of the...
NASA Provides Space Access for University Developed Experiments during March 27 Flight
NASA will fly six university experiments developed by undergraduate...
Lockheed Martin Pitches Novel Concept For CRS-2 ISS Resupply
On May 10, 1869, Leland Stanford raised a hammer...
Aerojet Rocketdyne Gets Fired Up About 3D Printing
Additive Manufacturing, also known as 3d printing, has been...
ULA, SpaceX Go Head-To-Head At House Armed Services Cmte Hearing
United Launch Alliance (ULA) President and CEO Tory Bruno...
Technical Issues Prompt Falcon 9 Launch Delay For TurkmenAlem52E/MonacoSAT
Technical problems with the Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage...
Spectacular Launch Delivers MMS Probes To Study Magentic Reconnection
NASA’s first-of-its kind mission to study the violent interactions...
Paper: Launch Window Assessment For The MMS Mission
Comments What do you think?
Falcon Orbits Electric Satellites On Dual-Launch Milestone
Working to build a steady launch pace and shake...
Deep Space Falcon Launch Successfully Deploys NASA’s DSCOVR Climate Observatory
The second mission of 2015 for SpaceX’s Falcon 9...
NASA Selects Winning Student Designs Of 3-D Printed Tools For Astronauts
After three months of designing and modeling, a panel...
NASA’s New Horizons Returns First Photos Of Pluto, Charon As It Nears Encounter
NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft returned its first new images...
“Old Reliable” Delta II Orbits First Of A Kind Soil Moisture Mapping Spacecraft
Blazing a trail through a cloudy California morning, a...
Planetary Society Announces LightSail Spacecraft Test Flight
The Planetary Society today announced the first of its...
Photo Gallery: Atlas V-551 Launches The Navy’s MUOS-3 Satellite
Comments What do you think?
SpaceX And US Air Force Agree To Settle Lawsuit
Just days after entering judge-ordered mediation, SpaceX and the...
First Full-Scale SLS Booster Installed On Stand For March Static Test
NASA and ATK have completed installing the first Space...
NASA Completes Investigation of 2014 Sounding Rocket Failure
January 12, 2015 – An investigation team has determined...
Atlas V Successfully Launches Navy’s “Orbital Cell Tower”
Marking the 200th launch for the venerable Atlas-Centaur family...
Photo Feature: Five Rockets Are On The Pad In Alaska
January 20, 2015 – Five rockets are on the...
Five Sounding Rockets To Study Effect of Solar Wind On The Weather
January 13, 2015 – The interaction of solar winds...
RS-25 Main Engine Testing Resumes At Stennis After Five-Year Hiatus
The new year is off to a hot start...
Falcon 9 Launches Fifth Contracted SpaceX ISS Mission; Booster Recovery Test Fails
A Falcon 9 rocket blasted into space early this...
Technical Glitches, Orbital Mechanics Push Falcon 9 CRS-5 Launch Into 2015
The next launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket...
Amid Testing Trouble, Firm Launch Date Expected Today For Falcon 9 CRS-5
We should learn today whether or not SpaceX will...
X Marks the Spot: Falcon 9 To Attempt Ocean Platform Landing
(Source: SpaceX) During our next flight, SpaceX will attempt...
Powerful Atlas Launches Clandestine Satellite From California
The largest Atlas rocket to fly from California blasted...
Atlas To The Rescue, Orbital Selects ULA To Launch Cygnus To ISS In 2015
As the company continues to recover from October’s spectacular...
NASA’s Orion Spacecraft Completes “Picture Perfect” First Test Flight
Reaching a pinnacle in its nine-year development program, NASA’s...
Inferno Over Wallops! A first-hand Photo And Video Account Of Antares Launch Failure
Read the story with a full page of launch...
NASA’s Morpheus Lander Readies New Round Of Test Flights
NASA’s Morpheus experimental rocket-powered vertical takeoff and landing testbed...
Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Crashes, One Pilot Reported Killed
We have received word that Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo failed...
Antares Explodes, ISS Cargo Lost In Launch Failure
Launch of the Cygnus spacecraft was supposed to be...
Atlas V Racks Up 50th Success With Launch of GPS IIF-8 For U.S. Air Force
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket successfully...
Hurricane Gonzalo Delays NASA’s Latest Cargo Run To ISS
Already delayed several times, the launch of an Orbital...
Photo Feature: Melbourne Air & Space Show
“We are thrilled by the turnout on Saturday for...
JPL Selects CubeSat Proposals for Europa Clipper Mission Study
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, has chosen...
Looking To The Future, Delta IV Rocket For Orion First Flight Reaches The Launch Pad
A United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket stands...
India, U.S. To Collaborate On Earth Obsevation, Mars Missions
In a meeting Tuesday in Toronto, NASA Administrator Charles...
Sierra Nevada Targets Air-Launch With Stratolaunch Partnership
Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) today announced a design for...
ATK Test Fires Igniter For Orion Launch Abort System Motor
NASA and ATK successfully completed a static test of...
Delta IV Processing Nearly Complete For Historic EFT-1 Mission
Engineers took another step forward in preparations for the...
Sierra Nevada Files Protest Challenging NASA Commercial Crew Awards To Boeing, SpaceX
(Editor’s Note: The following is a press release from...
Dragon Blasts Off With Science, Supplies On Fourth Space Station Cargo Run
Dodging persistent thunderstorms that have beseiged Florida most of...
NASA Opens Bidding For Second Round Of ISS Cargo Resupply Services
On the heels of awarding groundbreaking contracts to U.S....
United Launch Alliance and Blue Origin To Develop RD-180 Alternative
Facing pressure to find a domestic replacement for the...
SpaceX Breaks Ground For Texas Spaceport, With Just A Hint Of Politics
Gov. Rick Perry today helped break ground on the...
One More Leap, Boeing And SpaceX Win NASA’s Commercial Crew Contracts
U.S. astronauts once again will travel to and from...
NASA Rolls Out First Orion Spacecraft For December EFT-1 Test Flight
NASA is making steady progress on its Orion spacecraft,...
Falcon 9 Successfully Delivers AsiaSat 6 Comsat To Orbit
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket thundered into orbit during...
Acoustic Tests Help NASA Model SLS Launch Dynamics
Engineers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville,...
SLS Passes Milestone And Receives NASA Approval For Development
NASA officials Wednesday announced they have completed a rigorous...
SpaceX Falcon 9R Rocket Explodes During Texas Test Flight
SpaceX experienced a rare but disappointing failure today when...
Amazing Photo Captures Cygnus’ Flaming Re-Entry
ISS Expedition 40 crewmember Alexander Gerst captured this amazing...
Dramatic Video Shows Falcon First Stage Powered Descent After Launch
When SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket from...
On Its Way To A Fiery Re-Entry, Orbital’s Cygnus Departs ISS
Orbital Sciences Cygnus commercial cargo craft completed a month-long...
Atlas Rocket Orbits WorldView-3 Commercial Imaging Satellite
Continuing a very successful year for United Launch Alliance,...
ULA Names Tory Bruno President And CEO; Michael Gass Retires
United Launch Alliance named veteran aerospace industry executive Tory...
NASA Releases High-Definition Onboard Video From LDSD “Flying Saucer” Test
NASA’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) project successfully flew a...
NASA To Create First 3D-Printed Space Cameras
By the end of September, NASA aerospace engineer Jason...
Final European Automated Transfer Vehicle Blasts Off On Ariane 5 To Resupply ISS
The European Space Agency’s (ESA) fifth and final Automated...
Delta IV Dodges Weather To Launch GSSAT Spacecraft On Fifth Try
After nearly a week of frustrating technical and then...
Delta II Returns To Service To Launch NASA’s First Carbon Monitoring Spacecraft
Following a one-day delay to fix a balky water...
Success For NASA’s Experimental Supersonic “Flying Saucer”
NASA officials are calling today’s near-space test flight of...
2014 NASA Advanced Technology Phase I Concepts Selected For Study
NASA has selected 12 proposals for study under Phase...
Projects Selected For NASA’s 2015 X-Hab Academic Innovation Challenge
NASA and the National Space Grant Foundation have selected...
Orion Stacking Operations Begin For December EFT-1 Launch
With just six months until its first trip to...
Engine Failure Investigation Slips Next Cygnus ISS Resupply Mission Into July
Orbital Sciences Corporation announced that it has updated its...
NASA Video Highlights Orion, SLS Development Progress
This is NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate quarterly update...
NASA Uses Laser To Beam “Hello, World!” Video From ISS
NASA successfully beamed a high-definition video 260 miles from...
NASA’s Final Commercial Orbital Transportation Services Report Released
With two companies now providing commercial cargo launch services...
Orion Receives Heat Shield For Late 2014 EFT-1 Test Flight
Lockheed Martin technicians and engineers attach the heat shield...
Photo Feature: Meet The SpaceX Dragon V2 Spacecraft
SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk unveiled the Dragon...
NASA Readies Futuristic “Flying Saucer” For Flight Over Hawaii
UPDATE: Due to weather conditions, there will be no...
SpaceX Unveils Next-Generation Manned Dragon Spacecraft
With just a bit of Hollywood-esque flash, SpaceX unveiled...
Atlas V Successfully Deploys Classified NROL-33 Satellite
While the battle between SpaceX and United Launch Alliance...
Photo Feature: The Powerful Atlas Rocket Ready To Launch NROL-33
  Comments What do you think?
Delta IV Launches Sixth Upgraded GPS Satellite
America’s newest Global Positioning System satellite is now in...
Orbital And ATK Announce Merger Continuing Industry Consolidation
Orbital Sciences Corporation today announced that it has entered...
New Spacecraft Will Become First U.S. Space Lifeboat in 40 Years
The next generation of American spacecraft designed to carry...
NASA Partnerships Launch Multi-User Spaceport
Teamed with its industry partners, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center...
NASA Outlines Future Path To Human Mars Exploration
I will join 11 senior NASA officials in a...
Dragon Begins Third ISS Resupply Mission; First Stage Recovery Test Success
  A GoPro Captures Launch Of A SpaceX Falcon...
Atlas V Successfully Deploys Classified NROL-67 Satellite
. United Launch Alliance successfully launched the second mission...
Morpheus Completes First Test Of Hazard Avoidance System
The Morpheus team successfully completed Free Flight 10 (FF10)...
NASA’s LRO Mission and North America to Experience Total Lunar Eclipse
When people in North America look up at the...
Orion Avionics System Ready For Exploration Flight Test-1
Testing of the Orion spacecraft’s avionics system has concluded...
Space Launch System Core Stage Model ‘Sounds’ Off for Testing
A 5-percent scale model of the Space Launch System...
NASA Selects New Suborbital Technology Payloads
NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program has selected 13 space technology...
Air Force Weather Satellite Successfully Deployed On ULA’s 80th Launch
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket successfully...
Soyuz Blasts Off To Orbit Europe’s Sentinel-1A Earth Oservation Satellite
Continuing their track record for delivering both commercial and...
Air Force Releases Details Of Incident That Scrubbed Atlas And Falcon Launches
In the wake of serious outage on the U.S....
Orion Integration Makes Progress Toward Late-Year EFT-1 Mission
Orion is marching ever closer to its first trip...
Atlas 5 Rocket Launches To Successfully Deploy NASA’s Newest TDRS Satellite
A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket thundered into...
Dragon Passes Another Milestone With Sucessful Parachute Drop Test Over Pacific Ocean
Engineers and safety specialists from NASA and Space Exploration...
NASA’s Morpheus Lander Soars Over Kennedy Space Center As Tests Continue
NASA’s Morpheus lander testbed resumed testing following a break...
2013 NASA Safety Report Highlights Funding Uncertainty, Commercial Crew Progress
The Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP), an advisory committee...
NASA, Commercial Crew Partners Look To Make Strides In 2014
Several companies, working closely with NASA, ended 2013 with...
Space Launch System Could Enable Transformational Missions, Scientists Say
The human spaceflight community joined the space science community...
NASA Administrator Visits Michoud, Tours SLS Facilities
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden Monday visited the agency’s Michoud...
Florida Schools Send Experiments To ISS On Board Orbital’s Cygnus
When Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Cygnus cargo ship arrived at...
Cygnus Arrives At ISS With Supplies, Experiments
Astronauts aboard the International Space Station Sunday used a...
Virgin Galactic Reaches New Heights in Third Supersonic Test Flight‏
Virgin Galactic, the world’s first commercial spaceline, which is...
SpaceX Manifest Grows With JCSAT 14 Launch Contract
Fresh off its second successful launch of a commercial...
NASA, White House Discuss ISS Life Extension At International Space Exploration Forum
Speaking at a global space exploration forum Thursday, John...
NASA Powers Up SLS Avionics For The First Time
The modern avionics system that will guide NASA’s Space...
Antares Blasts Off With Cygnus On First Contracted ISS Resupply Mission
Marking the beginning of regular supply runs to the...
Antares Set For Chilly Launch To Space Station
1/8/14 7:00 am EST UPDATE: Early this morning the...
SpaceX Rings In The New Year With Launch Of Thai Satellite
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Cape...
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Poised For First Launch Of New Year
Looking to start 2014 with a roar, SpaceX is...
Photo Feature: NASA Readies TDRS-L Spacecraft For Late January Launch
NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS)-L was the...
Boeing Announces Expansion Of X-37B Operations At Kennedy Space Center
In what could be a boon for the aerospace...
SpaceX Delays Falcon 9 Launch Of Thaicom 6, Remains Confident Of January Liftoff
Bird-watchers on the beaches of Cape Canaveral will have...
NASA’s Resurrected Infrared Telescope Captures First Images, Prepares To Hunt Asteroids
NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE), a...
NASA’s Next Mars Lander Gets A Launch Vehicle
NASA has selected United Launch Services LLC of Centennial,...
Dreamchaser Completes NASA Commercial Crew Milestones
Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) today announced that the company...
Aerojet Rocketdyne Completes Launch Abort Engine Testing for Boeing CST-100 Spacecraft
Aerojet Rocketdyne announced today that it completed development testing...
Balky Station Cooling Pump Creates Delay, Uncertainty For Cygnus Resupply Mission
NASA and Orbital Sciences Corp. Saturday moved the targeted...
SpaceX Gains Advantage Over Blue Origin In Fight For Former Shuttle Launch Pad
Government Accountability Office denies Blue Origin’s protest over fairness...
Cygnus Joins Antares For Second Space Station Supply Run
On December 10, Orbital Sciences Corporation’s operations team mated...
NASA’s Juno Photographs Spectacular Views Of Earth And Moon During Flyby
When NASA’s Juno spacecraft flew past Earth on Oct....
NASA’s Morpheus Lander Returns To Flight At Kennedy Space Center
Rebuilt and better than ever, NASA’s Morpheus prototype lander...
Proton Notches Another Success With Launch Of Inmarsat-5 F1
An International Launch Services (ILS) Proton Breeze M successfully...
Atlas V Lofts Top-Secret Satellite, 12 CubeSats For NASA And Education
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying a...
SpaceX Reaches Milestone With Falcon 9 Launch Of Commercial Satellite
Making its commercial debut, an upgraded Falcon 9 rocket...
Blue Origin Test-Fires New BE-3 Rocket Engine
NASA commercial crew partner Blue Origin of Kent, Wash.,...
China Successfully Launches First Lunar Lander Chang’e 3
A Long March 3B rocket blasted off from the...
SpaceX Targets Thanksgiving For Inaugural Falcon 9 GTO Mission
SpaceX is hoping for a special Thanksgiving after the...
NASA’s MAVEN Rockets To Explore Mysteries Of Mars Atmosphere
 With a thunderous roar, NASA’s Mars Atmoshere and Volatile...
Today In History, November 10, 1964 – KSC Mercury Monument Dedication
The Mercury Monument stands outside of Complex 14 was...
Dream Chaser And Role Of The Media On Public Perception Of Failure
Last week, Sierra Nevada conducted the first free-flight test...
Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser Suffers Setback During First Free Flight Test
Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) suffered an apparent setback of...
Proton Rocket Successfully Launches FM-6 Satellite For Sirius XM Radio
International Launch Services (ILS), a leader in providing mission...
This LADEE Wasn’t Just Eating Bon Bon’s During The Government Shutdown
During the NASA shutdown, the LADEE mission continued to...
Proton Set To Launch Comsat For Sirius XM After 24-Hour Delay
The launch of a Proton launch vehicle with the...
Dramatic Video Captures Grasshopper’s Highest Jump To Date
On Monday, October 7th, Grasshopper completed its highest leap...
The View From Here: Curiosity Looks Back At Home
The HiRISE instrument would make a great backyard telescope...
SpaceX Releases New Photos And Video Of Next-Gen Falcon 9 Demo
SpaceX released stunning new photos and video from the...
MAVEN Granted Reprieve, Preparations Resume For November Launch
The cloud of pessimism over NASA because of funding...
Second-Generation Falcon Takes Flight To Test New Engines, Recoverability
Equipped with upgraded engines, computer systems and greatly improved...
Curiosity Fails To Find Methane And Adds To The Mystery Of Life On Mars
Data from NASA’s Curiosity rover has revealed the Martian...
Historic Comet Hunting Mission Ends As Deep Impact Falls Silent
After almost 9 years in space that included an...
Orbital’s Antares Blasts Off On First Cygnus Mission To ISS
Marking a giant stride forward in NASA’s plans to...
On Its 40th Mission, Atlas Deploys Third Advanced Extremely High Frequency Satellite
Dodging rain and high winds, an Atlas V rocket...
Moon Express’ Guidance Software Flies NASA’s Mighty Eagle On A Successful Test
The Mighty Eagle, a NASA robotic prototype lander managed...
To Boldly Go… Voyager 1 Reaches For The Stars
There was a time over a generation ago when...
NASA’s Lunar Dust Explorer Blasts Off From Virginia Spaceport
UPDATE: NASA has confirmed that the reaction wheels of...
Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Conducts Second Powered Test Flight
Suborbital passenger spaceflight pioneer Virgin Galactic passed another major...
NASA Narrows List Of Potential Sites For Next Mars Lander
NASA has narrowed to four the number of potential...
STS-3 Space Shuttle Columbia Photo And Video Collection
Former NASA astronaut Gordon Fullerton passed away this week....
It’s Been 20 Years Since The First Flight Of DC-X
It’s been 20 years since the remarkable DC-X Delta...
NASA Prepares LADEE for First Virginia Coast Launch to Moon
In an attempt to answer prevailing questions about our...
Sierra Nevada Makes Second Successful Dream Chaser Captive-Carry Test Flight
NASA partner Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) of Louisville, Colo.,...
NASA Releases New Graphic and Video Depictions of Asteroid Mission
NASA released Thursday new photos and video animations depicting...
NASA Astronaut Candidate Class Of 2013 Introduced To The Public
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on Tuesday formally welcomed the...
NASA Wallops Launch Facility To Host A Moon Mission Celebration August 21
The upcoming moon mission at the NASA Wallops Flight...
NASA Seeks Users For Shuttle Era Launch Structures
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida is seeking concepts...
NASA Selects Technology Demonstration Projects for Suborbital Research Flights
NASA has selected for possible flight demonstration 10 proposals...
NASA Commercial Crew Partner SpaceX Completes Orbit and Entry Review
NASA Commercial Crew Program (CCP) partner Space Exploration Technologies...
NASA Adds Milestones To Commercial Crew Initiative, Funds SpaceX, Sierra Nevada
NASA announced Thursday it is adding some additional milestones...
NASA Launches Suborbital RockSat-X Mission With Student Payloads
A Terrier-Improved Malemute suborbital rocket carrying experiments developed by...
Delta IV Rocket Successfully Launches Sixth Wideband Global Satcom Military Satellite
Blazing through the evening skies over Florida, a United...
Japanese Resupply Craft HTV-4 Is Captured And Berthed To ISS
The fourth Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency H-II Transfer Vehicle,...
Progress 52 Resupply Ship Docks With ISS
The ISS Progress 52 resupply ship docked with the...
ULA Completes Five Major Milestones In Just Eight Days, Including One Launch
During the last eight days, the United Launch Alliance...
One Special Day in the Life of Planet Earth Shining Brightly In The Black Void
Color and black-and-white images of Earth taken by two...
Atlas V 551 Launches Its Heaviest Payload Yet, MUOS-2 For The U.S. Navy
Rattling windows as it pierced cloudy skies above Cape...
Photo/Video Feature: 38 Years Ago, The Mission Of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project
The first international partnership in space wasn’t the International...
Eastern Range (ER) and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) Spaceport Concept
Introduction:  This concept explores the Eastern Range (ER) and...
Stephen Hawking – “Why Go To Space?” – NASA 50th Anniversary Lecture
MODERATOR: Good afternoon. Welcome to the  campus of George...
Watch Out NASA, The Next Mission To The Moon Might Not Be Yours
In 1959, the author Martin Caidin (“Marooned”) wrote, “The...
Space Shuttle Atlantis Grand Opening
NASA’s retired space shuttle Atlantis, the last orbiter to...
NASA Announces New Grand Challenge Aimed At Finding Asteroids
WASHINGTON, DC – NASA announced Tuesday a Grand Challenge...
Educational CubeSat Demonstrations Take To The Skies Aboard Prospector Rocket
Four tiny spacecraft soared over the California desert June...
NASA’s Space Launch System (Finally) Enters Preliminary Design Review
NASA is beginning a preliminary design review for its...
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On Eve Of Demolition, SLC-17’s Twin Pads Bridge Space Age At Cape Canaveral

The twin launch gantries that mark Space Launch Complex 17 bridge the Space Age from the early days when small rockets achieving modest successes made headlines to the modern era of large boosters regularly lofting probes and satellites into precise orbits with little fanfare.

In a time of gigantic launch servicing structures, control rooms and processing facilities spaced miles apart, SLC-17 harkens to the days when all the specialties of a launch team and support staff worked in the same area, most within the same building.

SLC-17, called “17” by those who worked there, is one of the myriad pads at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida that launched the early rockets made by engineers and technicians who for many missions just tried to get their machines to work right.

But while the other launch sites were abandoned in some cases before the space race even got going in the 1960s, 17 was adapted again and again to work with progressively better rockets and far more advanced spacecraft. Delta IIs soared into Cape skies from 17 until 2011.

The complex’s twin launch pads and their mobile servicing towers, the blockhouse that controllers worked out of for decades, a couple of low-slung office buildings plus a processing building are all within a short stroll of each other.

That physical closeness was the key to the launch complex’s enormous success, with a roster that includes some launches only days apart.

“These pads are very well laid out, very easy to operate and process on,” said Kathy McLaughlin, site manager for 17 and the Delta II for United Launch Alliance, the company that built the Delta II. “You have everybody here, in a single location.”

The launch and support teams also were kept trim, something the workers say made everyone operate more effectively.

“There was never a bloated feel to the launch team,” said Tim Dunn, currently a launch director for NASA’s Launch Services Program who worked at 17 as a guidance engineer for McDonnell Douglas. “It was always a lean operation. Even as a young engineer, I always felt a high level of responsibility.”

The launch structures at 17 are being dismantled. NASA turned over its responsibilities for the second pad at 17 in March so the Air Force can finish the demolition. There will not be any more Delta II launches from Florida, though a few more are slated for launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Aerial view of Space Launch Complex 17’s twin launch pads, slated for demolition in the near future.

The launch complex was not the highest-tech structure by launch pad standards, but it did what it had to do for well over 50 years, and the people who made their livings launching reliable Delta II rockets from it are forever grateful.

“There are people out here who have really made a contribution to history,” said Gary Beatovich, NASA’s project manager for SLC-17 deactivation.

The first successful NASA launch from 17A came on Aug. 12, 1960, when a Delta put Echo 1 into orbit, the first communications satellite. Rockets lifting off from 17 placed into orbit: the first satellite to relay television signals and phone calls, Telstar 1; the network of Global Positioning System satellites, or GPS, operational today; many planetary probes and numerous weather satellites.

“After we won the GPS launch contract, that was when everything really went crazy,” said Randy Long, who served as a propulsion engineer for McDonnell Douglas when the Delta II was selected. The GPS program would see 47 Delta II launches from 1989 to 2009.

The GPS network, which today tells military and civilian users where they are and where they’re heading, revolutionized satellite navigation on Earth.

“The GPS launches were close to my heart,” said McLaughlin, “because Desert Shield and Desert Storm had just started — my husband was over there — and they used GPS to redraw the maps they had. Now, it’s a part of everyday life.”

 

Some of the most notable exploration missions to other worlds also began at 17, including the Mars Pathfinder, Spirit and Opportunity rovers, plus the Spitzer Space Telescope and other observatories. By the time NASA’s GRAIL mission to send twin probes into lunar orbit launched Sept. 10, 2011, the complex had racked up more than 300 launches.

“It was a well-oiled machine,” said Darren Bedell, who was NASA’s Mission Manager for three planetary missions that launched within two months at 17. “We pushed the system pretty hard to turn that around. You launched, go out and look at the pad and start fixing the pad and four or seven days later you put out the next rocket. It just was one after another after another. There was no hesitation when it came to turning around the pad.”

Such a record was not to be expected judging from the first liftoff from 17, a Thor intermediate-range ballistic missile launched Jan. 25, 1957. The missile, making the first flight of the program, hit a high point six inches above the concrete launch stand of 17B before falling through the bottom. The missile hit the flame deflector and exploded in one of the more memorable images from the developmental days of rocketry.

Engineers made their fixes and the Thor line became the first operational missiles of their kind. Meanwhile, rocket designers steadily added stages, upgraded engines, and new solid rocket motors to the Thor, launching major missions along the way.

“It was very positive work,” said Wayne McCall, who began working with the program as an electrical engineer for Douglas Aircraft Co., maker of the Thor and retired as NASA’s chief of Launch Operations at 17. “There was an enormous amount of work and an enormous amount of technical problems to be solved and we solved a lot of them.”

McCall noted that the earliest rockets were guided by systems primitive by today’s standards.

“The Thor first stage and the second stage flight controllers still had vacuum tubes in them, since transistors had not entered the mass manufacturing stage yet,” he said.

Several of the earliest Pioneer missions to study the moon began on Thor rockets, including Pioneer 5 in 1960 that studied the space between Venus and Earth. Modified Thors and Deltas operated from 17 through most the 1960s until Thors gave way to the Delta rocket, which boasted heavier lifting abilities with a new engine and improved boosters.

“We kept getting pressure to grow the Delta,” McCall said. “In the 1970s, we saw the demand to launch bigger satellites to geosynchronous orbit. Our capability to put into geosynchronous orbit (22,300 miles above Earth) was about 70 pounds. So we started strapping solid motors to the boosters, first three, then six, then nine then bigger motors. By strapping those on, that gave us a real boost in capability and we could do 1,500 to 1,800 pounds into geosynchronous orbit.”

NASA delivered numerous scientific satellites into orbit to study the sun, Earth, and the region between the planets. Pioneer 7, launched in 1966, measured elements in Halley’s Comet 20 years later, discovering a specific form of plasma from the comet.

Deltas lifted weather, communications and scientific satellites regularly through 1989.

A series of communications satellites for Indonesia provided McCall one of his brightest career moments, he said. Since Indonesia is made up of about a thousand inhabited islands, building a conventional communications network was proving challenging.

“We tied that country together with satellites,” McCall said. “To see the impact on that culture was very pleasurable.”

In those years, NASA managed Launch Complex-17 and owned the rockets that flew from it. Like other aspects of the Space Age, that would change. When the Delta II began flying in 1989, NASA began buying launch services for its missions, rather than owning the rockets outright.

The crews of 17 say the launch complex and rocket would not have been so successful without each other. The launchers became workhorses for NASA, the Air Force and commercial satellite builders.

“You’ve got to have a good rocket to make the pad work, and the Delta II was the best rocket ever,” said Steve Seaman, a propulsion engineer for United Launch Alliance.

As the single-stage Thor missiles evolved into the multistage Deltas and then the Delta II and finally the Delta III, the gantries at Pads A and B added levels and layers to keep up, reminiscent of the way a tree grows, with new material added to an older core.

“The pad reflected the rocket,” Dunn said. “We would never call Delta simple, we would call it a straightforward rocket. Complex 17 took on that feel as well. Get the pad to where you need it and there’s no reason to go beyond that.”

The launch complex also holds the distinction of being the last operational complex that required a person to push a button to launch a rocket. While other pads went to a computerized auto-sequencer, such as the space shuttle used, 17 stayed with a button through 1995. Even then, the only change was from a button push to a mouse click, so there was still a human operator involved.

“If you didn’t push that button, it didn’t launch,” said Bill Hodge, an electrical engineer at the launch complex.

As demanding as the missions were on the rockets, spacecraft and equipment, the focused nature and quick pace brought the 17 crews together, they said.

“It was hectic, but not dysfunctional,” said Tom Mahaney, project manager for the closeout of the complex.

“The team had a lot of passion and pride, loving what they did. Without that, the team would not have been as succesful,” McLaughlin said. “It was the dedication that made it work.”

The work would not let up for long stretches, sometimes a few years at a time.

“There was the time I remember 10 or 11 launches a year,” said Marc Lavigne. “I was still very new there and it just fascinated me. You were like, ‘OK, I can’t take vacation here, here or here.’ Everybody had the same frame of mind: It’s good to stay busy. People enjoyed that busyness even though it sometimes took a toll on your personal life.”

The reward came on launch day, as soon as the spacecraft reached its proper placement in space, whether that meant orbiting Earth or started on a path into deep space.

“Just to see it launch, to see it all come together is a big, big part of the pride,” said John Penna, a propulsion engineer for the pad.

There was one day that stood out for everyone, but for the wrong reason. It was Jan. 17, 1997, when the launch team gathered at its familiar stations in the blockhouse sitting between the two launch pads. Dirt had been piled around and in front of the block building over the years to beef up protection, but it was still in the same location as when the first Thor missile was launched in 1957.

Thirteen seconds after lifting off the pad, the rocket carrying the first of a new series of GPS satellites exploded, sending a shock wave to the ground and splintering the rocket into thousands of pieces that rained down on the launch site for many minutes.

“We saw the vehicle let go and somebody said it wasn’t too far up,” said Lavigne. “Everybody went under their consoles because the overhead monitors were shaking, and we didn’t know if they were going to fall down.”

No one was hurt in the aftermath of the explosion, but for subsequent launches the team was moved out of the blockhouse to a control center farther away. Dunn and several others lost their cars to chunks of falling rocket, though.

The launch team, the complex and the rocket recovered quickly and got back to their successful ways.

The launch complex and Delta II soon set a record for most consecutive successful launches and built on that record through its final launch in 2011. At the height of the Delta launch manifest, the average launch rate held at about one a month, a statistic that would be hard to improve on, according to the engineers.

“I don’t know that you can do any more than 12 in a year,” Bedell said. “In the modern world, nobody did it as fast as the 17 crews.”

Written by: Steven Siceloff, NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center

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