Category Archives: NASA

Water Flow on Pad 39

Water flow is a subject near and dear to my heart. I spent many years dealing with water flow on a daily basis as part of my profession. Ah the memories. . .

But this is cool, we are talking around 3.4 million litres per minute (lpm)! Nice! I only dealt with flows of 19,000 lpm – good times. Thanks to NASA and Kim Shiflett for the image.

NASA: NASA eclipsed another milestone in its plan to send the first woman and next man to the lunar surface by 2024 with the latest successful water flow test on the mobile launcher at Kennedy Space Center’s Pad 39B.

Using adjustments from the first water flow test event in July, the Friday, Sept. 13 exercise demonstrated the capability of the sound suppression system that will be used for launch of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) for the Artemis I mission.

During the 30-second test, about 450,000 gallons of water poured onto the Pad B flame deflector, the mobile launcher flame hole and onto the launcher’s blast deck. The system reached a peak flow rate of more than 1 million gallons per minute. While the visual is dramatic, the water’s main purpose come launch day involves sound.

“SLS will create about 176 decibels at liftoff, which is significantly louder than a jetliner,” said Launchpad Element Deputy Project Manager Nick Moss. “The sheets of water created by the flow will curb that sound by knocking it down a few decibels.”

When the rocket’s engines ramp up to full power, the hot exhaust starts to push harder in the confined space of the mobile launcher. These pressure waves can cause vibrations that could potentially damage the mobile launcher, as well as the rocket about to take flight.             

“The sound suppression system acts as a dampener, absorbing the acoustic energy and reducing the strength of the pressure waves,” said Cliff Lanham, mobile launcher senior project manager. “It creates a protective environment to ensure safe liftoff.”

The sound suppression system starts flowing about 20 seconds before T-Zero. Smoke and fire from the vehicle starts about 10 seconds later.

“And that’s what we’re all here for — making sure that we can get to those last 10 seconds safely and get the vehicle going,” Moss said.

Friday’s test was the first time the ground launch sequencer software that will be used on launch day was used to command launch support systems at Pad B from the Launch Control Center. The weekend tests included a nominal launch countdown flow and a single valve failure test flow to better characterize off-nominal system performance.The team is currently performing post-test analysis on these events in preparation for a final water flow test in the coming weeks, involving the hydrogen burn-off igniters.

Landing Sites

Just a couple short videos today both are landing sites.

The first is the site of India’s Chandrayaan 2 Vikram lander. Communications with the lander was lost moments before landing. We do not know if the craft actually landed successfully or not. There is a pretty good chance it did and the ISRO is attempting to make contact. The contact attempts will last a reasonable amount of time.

The area looks quite interesting so let’s wish them good luck. The video from Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute was make with NASA’s Moon Trek, very nice bit of work too, it took a bit of time to load – your load time may vary.

The second video is a 3D rendering of the four candidate landing sites on Asteroid Bennu for the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft:

Why Did Docking Abort?

Sounds like a communications problem essentially. Interesting that the component is on the Station-side of the loop. The good thing about this scenario, if accurate, is the possibility of swapping out the bad component.

As they state, the earliest another attempt might be attempted is Sunday night into Monday so at least 48 hours.

Thanks SciNews!


Do you have any favorite music scores you listen to while traveling about? NASA has a long tradition of using music on their missions, notably to awaken space-fairing travelers.

They are looking for suggestions to add to the old eight-track player. Ok no eight-track player, some readers may not even know what that is. Just as well, but if you must know, go here.

You can still buy them (used of course).

So here you go, BE SURE TO READ THE RULES at the end!

NASA: Music has been interwoven throughout spaceflight history, from pre-launch songs to shuttle wake-up calls to crewmembers playing instruments on the International Space Station. As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, we’re also preparing to go back to the Moon by 2024, which means astronauts will have a non-stop journey of approximately 3 days each way – the ultimate long-distance travel. Just like any road trip needs a soundtrack, so does a spaceflight! If you were making the journey, what favorite song would you be sure to include on your playlist? Let us add it to ours! Tell us on Twitter with the hashtag #NASAMoonTunes or submit via this form

Submit your suggestion from June 3-June 28 — the same time frame in which Apollo 11 astronauts were making final preparations for their mission 50 years ago. Liftoff of our playlist will be on July 13 and 14 and will air during a live show on NASA’s Third Rock Radio, just a few days prior to the Apollo 11 launch anniversary!

Third Rock Radio


Facebook: @thirdrockradionasa

Twitter: @ThirdRockRadio

NASA’s Johnson Space Center

Facebook: @NASAJSC

Twitter: @NASA_Johnson

The rules:

1. Songs with explicit titles, lyrics and themes will not be accepted for addition to the playlist. NASA is for everyone – let’s make sure our playlist is too.

2. Only songs published on official music streaming services at the time of the acceptance period will be added to the playlist. A user may not submit song lyrics or unpublished music from sites such as SoundCloud, YouTube, Bandcamp, MixCloud or other user-uploaded content websites.

3. Only songs with the hashtag #NASAMoonTunes on Twitter and submissions via the above form will be accepted.

4. Third Rock Radio has the flexibility to select which songs will air from the proposed list. There is no requirement or obligation to play any specific song from the playlist, and there is no guarantee that each song submitted will be aired live. Want to know if your submission made the cut? Don’t miss the live show!

June is Going to be Fun

Going to plan on seeing Mercury. If I have decent skies that is and that’s a big “if”. It has been terrible for any kind of observing and has been terrible for a good long time.

I have had just one good opportunity to see the StarLink satellites and I don’t know what happened because they did not show up. Of course that was very early on.

We were supposed to have mostly clear skies yesterday but it seemed hazy. Turned out it was hazy because of smoke from wild fires 3,700 km (2300 miles) away.

Hopefully the weather turns around and dries out. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Get Your Name On Mars2020

You can get your name on NASA’s Mars2020 rover. Super simple here’s the details:

NASA: Although it will be years before the first humans set foot on Mars, NASA is giving the public an opportunity to send their names — stenciled on chips — to the Red Planet with NASA’s Mars 2020 rover, which represents the initial leg of humanity’s first round trip to another planet. The rover is scheduled to launch as early as July 2020, with the spacecraft expected to touch down on Mars in February 2021.

The rover, a robotic scientist weighing more than 2,300 pounds (1,000 kilograms), will search for signs of past microbial life, characterize the planet’s climate and geology, collect samples for future return to Earth, and pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet.

“As we get ready to launch this historic Mars mission, we want everyone to share in this journey of exploration,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD) in Washington. “It’s an exciting time for NASA, as we embark on this voyage to answer profound questions about our neighboring planet, and even the origins of life itself.”

The opportunity to send your name to Mars comes with a souvenir boarding pass and “frequent flyer” points. This is part of a public engagement campaign to highlight missions involved with NASA’s journey from the Moon to Mars. Miles (or kilometers) are awarded for each “flight,” with corresponding digital mission patches available for download. More than 2 million names flew on NASA’s InSight mission to Mars, giving each “flyer” about 300 million frequent flyer miles (nearly 500 million frequent flyer kilometers).

From now until Sept. 30, you can add your name to the list and obtain a souvenir boarding pass to Mars here:

Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Artemis Phase 1 Explained

NASA is serious about returning to the moon. Here we have NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine explains how Phase 1 of the Artemis mission to the moon might work.

We’ll see how the political landscape changes over the next few years to see if this becomes reality. Don’t get me wrong I hope it does.

Want to Help NASA?

NASA: Citizen scientists assemble! NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission to the asteroid Bennu needs extra pairs of eyes to help choose its sample collection site on the asteroid – and to look for anything else that might be scientifically interesting. 

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has been at Bennu since Dec. 3, 2018, mapping the asteroid in detail, while the mission team searches for a sample collection site that is safe, conducive to sample collection and worthy of closer study. One of the biggest challenges of this effort, which the team discovered after arriving at the asteroid five months ago, is that Bennu has an extremely rocky surface and each boulder presents a danger to the spacecraft’s safety. To expedite the sample selection process, the team is asking citizen scientist volunteers to develop a hazard map by counting boulders. 

“For the safety of the spacecraft, the mission team needs a comprehensive catalog of all the boulders near the potential sample collection sites, and I invite members of the public to assist the OSIRIS-REx mission team in accomplishing this essential task,” said Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator at the University of Arizona, Tucson.

For this effort, NASA is partnering with CosmoQuest, a project run out of the Planetary Science Institute that supports citizen science initiatives. Volunteers will perform the same tasks that planetary scientists do – measuring Bennu’s boulders and mapping its rocks and craters – through the use of a simple web interface. They will also mark other scientifically interesting features on the asteroid for further investigation.

The boulder mapping work involves a high degree of precision, but it is not difficult. The CosmoQuest mapping app requires a computer with a larger screen and a mouse or trackpad capable of making precise marks. To help volunteers get started, the CosmoQuest team provides an interactive tutorial, as well as additional user assistance through a Discord community and livestreaming sessions on Twitch. 

“We are very pleased and excited to make OSIRIS-REx images available for this important citizen science endeavor,” said Rich Burns, OSIRIS-REx project manager at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. “Bennu has surprised us with an abundance of boulders. We ask for citizen scientists’ help to evaluate this rugged terrain so that we can keep our spacecraft safe during sample collection operations.”

Sample return isn’t new for NASA – this year, the agency is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo missions to the Moon, which allowed astronauts to bring back 842 pounds (382 kilograms) of rocks and lunar soil. Those samples helped scientists discover that the Moon has water locked in its rocks and even permanently frozen in craters. These findings and others inspired the agency to create the Artemis program to return humans to the Moon by 2024 and start preparing for human exploration on Mars.

“The OSIRIS-REx mission will continue the Apollo legacy by giving scientists precious samples of an asteroid,” said Lori Glaze, director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “These samples will help scientists discover the secrets of planetary formation and the origins of our planet Earth.”

The Bennu mapping campaign continues through July 10, when the mission begins the sample site selection process. Once primary and secondary sites are selected, the spacecraft will begin closer reconnaissance to map the two sites to sub-centimeter resolution. The mission’s Touch-and-Go (TAG) sampling maneuver is scheduled for July 2020, and the spacecraft will return to Earth with its cargo in September 2023.

Goddard provides overall mission management, systems engineering, and the safety and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx. Dante Lauretta of the University of Arizona, Tucson, is the principal investigator, and the University of Arizona also leads the science team and the mission’s science observation planning and data processing. Lockheed Martin Space in Denver built the spacecraft and is providing flight operations. Goddard and KinetX Aerospace are responsible for navigating the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA’s New Frontiers Program, which is managed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

To volunteer as a Bennu mapper, visit: