NASA’s Ground Systems Program Begins Critical Design Review For SLS/Orion Launch

Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana speaks during the kickoff meeting Oct. 6 of the critical design review for the Ground Systems Development and Operations Program at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Image Credit: NASA/Daniel Casper

Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana speaks during the kickoff meeting Oct. 6 of the critical design review for the Ground Systems Development and Operations Program at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Image Credit: NASA/Daniel Casper

October 12, 2015 – The NASA program tasked with preparing Kennedy Space Center in Florida to process and launch the next generation of rockets and spacecraft kicked off its critical design review October 6. This review is an important milestone for the Ground Systems Development and Operations Program (GSDO) as it will demonstrate that upgrades to necessary facilities and ground support equipment are on track for the first integrated mission with the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft.

“We’ve worked hard the past several years,” said Mike Bolger, GSDO program manager, as he welcomed managers and engineers from across the agency to Kennedy Space Center. “Seeing the Space Launch System and Orion roll out from the Vehicle Assembly Building is going to be quite a sight, and I’m really looking forward to it.”

NASA’s three exploration systems development programs, GSDO, SLS and Orion, have been pursuing parallel development paths that keep each program progressing toward the first SLS and Orion mission. Orion will be the safest, most advanced spacecraft ever built. NASA’s SLS will be the world’s most powerful rocket, and will launch astronauts on Orion to explore multiple, deep space destinations. For its part, GSDO teams specialize in three areas: the first team works to connect a spacecraft with a rocket, move the launch vehicle to the launch pad and send it space; the second team ensures all processing systems safely prepare a spacecraft for flight; and the third modernizes communications used to launch astronauts into space.

Specifically, the GSDO critical design review will look at the Vehicle Assembly Building, Launch Control Center, mobile launcher, crawler-transporter, Launch Pad 39B and the Multi Payload Processing Facility. Upgrades and designs currently in progress will be reviewed to ensure they will be ready to support all system and processing requirements for a launch of the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft.

“When I look at what we’ve accomplished, and where we are, we are on track and I couldn’t be more proud of this team,” said Bob Cabana, Kennedy center director.

The design review will continue at Kennedy through December.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Littleton, Colorado is the prime contractor for the Orion spacecraft.