NASA-funded ELFIN CubeSats to Study How Electrons Get Lost

An artist’s depiction of the Van Allen Belts, showing Earth’s magnetic field lines and the trajectories of charged particles trapped by them. The twin ELFIN spacecraft are shown following their inclined polar orbit, traced in yellow. (Credits: UCLA EPSS/NASA SVS)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Three hundred and ten miles above our planet’s surface, near-Earth space is abuzz with action. Here begin the Van Allen Belts, a pair of concentric rings of fast-moving particles and intense radiation that extends more than 30,000 miles farther into space.

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UCLA Students Launch Project that’s Out of this World

By Rebecca Kendall
UCLA

Five years ago, a group of UCLA undergrads came together with a common goal — to build a small satellite and launch it into space. In the years since, more than 250 students — many of whom are now UCLA graduate students and alumni — have been the mechanical engineers, software developers, thermal and power testers, electronics technicians, mission planners and fabricators of the twin Electron Losses and Fields Investigation CubeSats, known as ELFIN.

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Northrop Grumman-built ICESat-2 Satellite Launched by Delta II for NASA

NASA’s Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) spacecraft arrives at the Astrotech Space Operations facility at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California ahead of its scheduled launch on Sept. 15, 2018. (Credits: U.S. Air Force/Vanessa Valentine)

Advanced technologies from Northrop Grumman support launch of ULA’s Delta II rocket and deployment of NASA’s satellite

DULLES, Va. – Sept. 15, 2018 – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) today announced the Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation spacecraft (ICESat-2), built by the company for NASA, successfully launched aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta II rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. In addition to manufacturing the spacecraft, Northrop Grumman also provided propulsion, key composite structures, a space navigation system and other components on the Delta II launch vehicle. This event marks the final launch of the Delta II rocket.

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Last Delta II Launches NASA’s IceSat-2 Spacecraft

An ULA Delta II rocket carrying the ICESat-2 mission for NASA lifts off from Space Launch Complex-2 at 6:02 a.m. PT. (Credit: United Launch Alliance)

Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., (Sept. 15, 2018) – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta II rocket carrying NASA’s Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) spacecraft lifted off from Space Launch Complex-2 on Sept. 15 at 6:02 a.m. PDT. This marks the final mission of the Delta II rocket, which first launched on Feb. 14, 1989, and launched 155 times including ICESat-2.
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NASA’s IceSat-2 Satellite Set for Launch From Vandenberg on Saturday

This image shows the ATLAS instrument inside a Goddard cleanroom where the instrument was assembled. (Credits: NASA/D. McCallum)

NASA’s Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2, or ICESat-2, a mission to measure the changing height of Earth’s ice, is scheduled to launch Saturday, Sept. 15, with a 40-minute window opening at 5:46 a.m. PDT (8:46 a.m. EDT).

The spacecraft will lift off from Space Launch Complex 2 (SLC-2) at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on the final launch of a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket. The U.S. Air Force 30th Space Wing weather officer reported they are predicting a 100 percent chance of favorable weather on launch day.

Be sure to follow along during the live coverage events below.

NASA EDGE Tower Rollback Show, Friday, Sept. 14, at 6 p.m. PDT (9 p.m. EDT)

Watch live at:

NASA TV: www.nasa.gov/nasalive
NASA EDGE Facebook: www.facebook.com/nasaedgefan
NASA LSP Facebook: www.facebook.com/NASALSP
NASA EDGE YouTube: www.youtube.com/NASAedge
NASA EDGE Ustream: www.usream.tv/nasaedge

Guests:

  • Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington
  • Doug McLennan, ICESat-2 project manager, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
  • Kelly Brunt, ICESat-2 science team member, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
  • Rex Engelhardt, mission manager, NASA’s Launch Services Program
  • Mic Woltman, chief, Fleet Systems Integration Branch, NASA’s Launch Services Program
  • Tim Dunn, launch director, NASA Kennedy Space Center
  • Tom Neumann, ICESat-2 deputy project scientist, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
  • Donya Douglas-Bradshaw, ATLAS instrument project manager, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
  • Dana VanDersaral, mission assurance team, United Launch Alliance

Live Launch Coverage, Saturday, Sept. 15, 5:10 a.m. PDT (8:10 a.m. EDT)
Join us for updates from the countdown, here on the blog and on NASA TV.

ULA to Launch Final Delta II with NASA’s ICESat-2 Satellite on Saturday

Delta II launches the JPSS-1 satellite. (Credit: ULA)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., Sept. 12, 2018 (ULA PR) – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta II rocket is in final preparations to launch NASA’s Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) spacecraft from Space Launch Complex-2 on Sept. 15. This marks the final launch of the Delta II rocket, which first launched on Feb. 14, 1989.

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NASA Launching Advanced Laser to Measure Earth’s Changing Ice

NASA’s Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) spacecraft arrives at the Astrotech Space Operations facility at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California ahead of its scheduled launch on Sept. 15, 2018. (Credits: U.S. Air Force/Vanessa Valentine)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Next month, NASA will launch into space the most advanced laser instrument of its kind, beginning a mission to measure – in unprecedented detail – changes in the heights of Earth’s polar ice.

NASA’s Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) will measure the average annual elevation change of land ice covering Greenland and Antarctica to within the width of a pencil, capturing 60,000 measurements every second.

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SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Launches 10 More Iridium NEXT Satellites

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (SpaceX PR) — On Wednesday, July 25, 2018 at 4:39 a.m. PDT, SpaceX successfully launched ten Iridium NEXT satellites from Space Launch Complex 4E (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. This was the seventh set of satellites in a series of 75 total satellites that SpaceX will launch for Iridium’s next generation global satellite constellation, Iridium® NEXT. The satellites began deployment about an hour after launch.

Following stage separation, SpaceX successfully landed Falcon 9’s first stage on the “Just the Read the Instructions” droneship in the Pacific Ocean.
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Launch Double Feature on Tap for Wednesday

Ariane 5 liftoff (Credit: ESA)

If you like rocket launches — and who doesn’t? — you’re in for a treat on Wednesday with two liftoffs 15 minutes apart.

Launch Vehicle: Ariane 5
Payloads: Galileo 23-26 navigation satellites
Launch time: 7:25:01 a.m. EDT; 4:25:01 PDT (1125:01 GMT)
Launch site: Kourou, French Guiana
Webcast: https://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Navigation/Galileo/Watch_the_launch_of_Galileos_23_26 (Coverage begins at 7:00 a.m. EDT/1100 GMT)

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payloads: Iridium Next 56-65 communications satellites
Launch Time: 7:39:26 a.m. EDT; 4:39:26 a.m. PDT (1139:26 GMT)
Launch Site: Vandenberg Air Force Base, California
Webcast: www.spacex.com (Coverage begins 20 minutes before launch)

The timing is perfect for folks on the East Coast and in Europe, but not so much for us out here in California. If I can roll out of bed in time, I’ll try to take some video of the Falcon 9 launch from here in Mojave. No promises.

The launch will be the 13th for the Falcon 9 and the 14th flight overall for Elon Musk’s SpaceX in 2018. The company’s other launch was the successful maiden flight of Falcon Heavy in February.

A successful mission on Wednesday will put the United States in a tie with China with 20 launches apiece this year. The two launches will bring the worldwide total to 61 for the year.

Ariane 5 will be launching for the third time this year. It will also be the fourth launch of 2018 from Kourou.

SpaceX Plans Three Launches in 11 Days

The first Falcon 9 Block 5 booster heads for the launch pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. (Credit: SpaceX)

After a three-week break, SpaceX is gearing up for a busy stretch of launches with three coming up in an 11-day period on opposite sides of the country.

The launch campaign kicks off with an early Sunday morning launch from Cape Canaveral. Falcon 9 will carry Telesat’s Telstar 19 VANTAGE communications satellite, which will provide service to China, India, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Ocean.

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Vandenberg Consolidates Operations on Western Launch Range

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket carrying the NROL-47 mission lifts off from Vandenberg Air Force Base. (Credit: ULA)

By Michael Peterson
30th Space Wing Public Affairs

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — The 30th Range Management Squadron inactivated and merged with the 2nd Range Operations Squadron here, July 10. The reorganization allows all range mission assurance operations to be conducted under a single chain of command. This combining of responsibilities allows two similar mission sets to continue providing a unified front for the Western Range.

“This process will empower our squadrons to push responsibility to our experts in the field and streamline our range management capabilities.” said Lt. Col. Max Coberly, 30th RMS commander. “This merger will offer our squadrons more flexibility in responding to the challenges of the range.”

“Since the activation of the 30th RMS in 2002, the unit has enabled 142 launches from Vandenberg,” said Col. Curtis Hernandez, 30th Operations Group commander. “The unit has also placed 73 satellites into orbit, valued at over 53.6 billion dollars, providing critical nation defense and commercial industry capabilities that protect and enable the American and global way of life.”

The 30th RMS inactivation and merge into the 2nd ROPS is a major step taken by the 30th Space Wing to reach its mission goal of “providing robust, relevant and efficient spaceport and range capabilities for the nation.”

“This Wing provides range support for nationally critical missions.” said Col. Michael Hough, 30th Space Wing commander. “We have to position ourselves to provide efficient, flexible range capabilities.”

The move to combine squadrons returns the decision-making down to the lower levels, improves readiness, and unifies the efforts of the wing towards the same goal while removing unnecessary barriers brought on by duplicated responsibilities. With the unified commands, Lt. Col. Meredith Beg, 2nd ROPS commander, sees the groundwork for an improved Western Range capability.

“The 30th RMS has made significant contributions to the defense of our nation, and cemented America’s current position as the dominant space power on this planet,” said Hernandez. “We will ensure America’s access to space is agile, efficient and lethal. This is an inactivation of a unit that maintained Vandenberg’s relevance to the nation and the planet, and has ensured our legacy into the future.”

Mid-Year Global Launch Report: China & USA Continue to Battle for Lead

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket carrying the NROL-47 mission lifts off from Vandenberg Air Force Base. (Credit: ULA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The world’s launch providers were extremely busy in the first half of 2018, with China and the United States battling for the lead.

There with 55 orbital launches through the end of June, which amounted to a launch every 3.29 days or 79 hours. The total is more than half the 90 launches attempted in 2017. With approximately 42 missions scheduled for the last six months of the year, the total could reach 97. (more…)

SpaceX Applies for Permission to Land Falcon 9 Stage at Vandenberg

Falcon 9 first stage comes in for a landing after launching the Zuma payload. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX has applied for permission to land a Falcon 9 first stage at Vandenberg Air Force Base for the first time.

The request to the Federal Communications Commission for “special temporary authority” covers a six-month window from September 5, 2018 to March 5, 2019. SpaceX needs permission for communications between the landing site and the returning first-stage booster for the experimental operation.

All previous land recoveries have taken place at Cape Canaveral in Florida. SpaceX has recovered first stages from Vandenberg launches using offshore drone ships.

Falcon 9 Orbits Iridium-NEXT, GRACE-FO Satellites

The NASA/German Research Centre for Geosciences GRACE Follow-On spacecraft launch onboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, Tuesday, May 22, 2018, from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

A SpaceX Falcon 9 booster blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base on Tuesday afternoon and successfully orbited seven satellites.

There were five Iridium-NEXT communications satellites aboard. These were the 51st through 56th Iridium-NEXT spacecraft orbited by Falcon 9 boosters.

A pair of Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) satellites were also onboard. The spacecraft will measure changes in how mass is redistributed within and among Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, land and ice sheets, as well as within Earth itself.

The mission is a join collaboration of NASA and the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ).  GFZ reports receiving signals from both GRACE-FO satellites.

GAO: Launch Vehicle Problems Caused Delay in NASA Science Satellite

ICON spacecraft (Credit: NASA)

Problems with its launch vehicle and range schedule conflicts have caused a year-long in the launch of a new NASA spacecraft that will study the Earth’s ionosphere, according to a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) assessment.

The June 2017 launch date for the Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) satellite was delayed after two of the three stages of the Pegasus XL’s launch vehicle were involved in a transport accident, the GAO found. The stages were returned to Orbital ATK’s facility for inspection and testing, but no damage was found.

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