assembly facility

Take a Virtual Tour of NASA

Welcome to NASA! Today, we’re taking you behind-the-scenes for a virtual tour looking at our cutting-edge work and humanity’s destiny in deep space!

Starting at 1:30 p.m., we will host a series of Facebook Live events from each of our 10 field centers across the country. Take a look at where we’ll be taking you…

Glenn Research Center
1:30 p.m. EDT

Our Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, OH will host a tour of its Electric Propulsion Lab. This lab is where we test solar propulsion technologies that are critical to powering spacecraft for our deep-space missions. The Electric Propulsion Laboratory houses two huge vacuum chambers that simulate the space environment.

Marshall Space Flight Center
1:50 p.m. EDT

Our Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, AL will host a tour from a Marshall test stand where structural loads testing is performed on parts of our Space Launch System rocket. Once built, this will be the world’s most powerful rocket and will launch humans farther into space than ever before.

Stennis Space Center
2:10 p.m. EDT

Our Stennis Space Center in Bay St. Louis, MS will take viewers on a tour of their test stands to learn about rocket engine testing from their Test Control Center.

Armstrong Flight Research Center
2:30 p.m. EDT 

Our Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, CA will host a tour from their aircraft hangar and Simulator Lab where viewers can learn about our X-Planes program. What’s an X-Plane? They are a variety of flight demonstration vehicles that are used to test advanced technologies and revolutionary designs.

Johnson Space Center
2:50 p.m. EDT

Our Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX will take viewers on a virtual exploration trip through the mockups of the International Space Station and inside our deep-space exploration vehicle, the Orion spacecraft!

Ames Research Center
3:10 p.m. EDT

Our Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley will bring viewers into its Arc Jet Facility, a plasma wind tunnel used to simulate the extreme heat of spacecraft atmospheric entry.

Kennedy Space Center
3:30 p.m. EDT

Our Kennedy Space Center in Florida will bring viewers inside the Vehicle Assembly Building to learn about how we’re preparing for the first launch of America’s next big rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.

Langley Research Center
3:50 p.m. EDT

Our Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia will bring viewers inside its 14-by-22-foot wind tunnel, where aerodynamic projects are tested.

Goddard Space Flight Center
4:10 p.m. EDT

Our Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD will discuss the upcoming United States total solar eclipse and host its tour from the Space Weather Lab, a large multi-screen room where data from the sun is analyzed and studied.

Jet Propulsion Laboratory
4:30 p.m. EDT

Our Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA will bring viewers to the Spacecraft Assembly Facility to learn about robotic exploration of the solar system.

So, make sure to join us for all or part of our virtual tour today, starting at 1:30 p.m. EDT! Discover more about the work we’re doing at NASA and be sure to ask your questions in the comment section of each Facebook Live event! 

Additional details and viewing information available HERE

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A Tour of Spaceflight Centers - From Michoud to Marshall

Lovers of history, spaceflight enthusiasts - I spent the first week of May traveling the southeast United States from Austin, Texas and stopping at Space Centers (among other locations of interest) with my significant other. This is what I experienced. 

The first stop outside Texas on our first day of travel - Michoud Assembly Facility. This is not open to visitors and we knew this, but it was an extra 20 minutes out of a many hour trip.

There used to be a Saturn V S-IC, originally meant for Apollo 19, out front but it has been moved…

Just a hop and skip later and we ended up in Pearlington, Mississippi and Stennis Space Center’s visitor complex, the Infinity Science Center. There was a heavy emphasis on nature conservation and the environment as well getting students involved with experiments and hands-on learning. The highlight for me was the display of Wernher von Braun’s desk.

And the new home of that Saturn V S-IC that was at Michoud? Infinity Science Center. Recently moved, there is an ongoing effort to raise funds to restore and preserve it.

We drove most of a day to where I grew up, Saint Petersburg, Florida, where the first scheduled airline flight took place on January 1st, 1914. Tony Jannus flew a Benoist flying boat across the bay to Tampa in a trip that lasted a little over 20 minutes.

Walking around sunny St. Petersburg, we stopped at several museums including an old favorite, the St. Petersburg Museum of History, where they have a functional replica of the Benoist flying boat. An original Benoist pennant from 1914 flew aboard OV-103 Discovery on her final flight, STS-133, is also on display.

Following a stay with friends and family, it was off to Kennedy Space Center. There have been many changes since I had last been here, the new Astronaut Memorial and Hall of Fame being the most notable. 

The Orion Capsule that flew EFT-1 was also on display, along with a CST-100 Starliner structural test article and Dragon capsule.

A trip though the rocket garden as always. The day had started as a torrential downpour but was now sunny. Florida, weird as always.

Of course, you can’t walk through the garden without getting a picture with the Saturn IB. She learned that you don’t really have a sense of scale to these without getting right up next to it. It was during this time that I learned my girlfriend has a fondness for the Mercury-Redstone - it’s what she pictures when she hears ‘rocket’. Quintessential! 

OV-104 Atlantis is always my favorite stop. This time, I had brought my Atlantis flag, and with a friend who joined us we had a wonderful time with my favorite orbiter.

I have not been to KSC since the addition of the Challenger and Columbia display. It was an incredibly moving experience, seeing these pieces, as well as the displays of the Astronauts personal belongings that you see before entering this room.

We said our goodbyes and began a northerly drive up the Florida east coast, stopping in beautiful Saint Augustine for a night, seeing the Castillo and ancient city before going around the mess that is currently Atlanta, GA, and ending up in Huntsville, Alabama - Rocket City, USA. You can see that Saturn V, the only standing Saturn V, for miles.

It also happened to be Star Wars Day - what a lovely coincidence! It was quite a sight to see people dressed as Jedi, Sith, and Storm Troopers walking around a Space Center.

Of course, we were there for NASA, and I, to see Wernher von Braun’s legacy. I am of the belief that without von Braun’s vision, charisma and genius, we would have fallen so far behind on the dream of spaceflight as a nation, or at the very least, never made it to the moon at all. Look for an upcoming, detailed post on von Braun in the future.

Of course, there were many exhibits and displays of a historical nature, showcasing prototype gloves that were in development for Apollo, models of probes and satellites that have given us a more detailed look at our solar system, and Carl Sagan’s cosmic calendar to really get a sense of how vast the universe is (this is also shown on the newer Cosmos series, hosted by Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson). This History of Space Exploration timeline also gave perspective on the earliest efforts of rocketry by Robert Goddard, to where we are today. Comprehensive to say the least.

On display at the US Space & Rocket Center rocket garden is of course the Saturn V, a Saturn I, Mercury-Redstone, Juno I, among other military missiles.

We toured the Saturn V Center, enjoying the exhibits and displays, including one presented by IBM on the “brain” of the Saturn V, the quarantine trailer the Apollo Astronauts had to spend weeks in because of fears of “space germs”, and the Apollo 16 Capsule.

We concluded the day as it began to rain with a visit to OV-098 Pathfinder. Built in 1977, Pathfinder was a structural test article that weighted the same as the production orbiters would, and had roughly the same dimensions - she was used for fit-checking the various processing facilities that served the Space Shuttles. After her fit-check mission was complete, STA-098 was overhauled and made to look like a real orbiter (or as real as one could surmise), and was sent to Tokyo, Japan for the Great Space Shuttle Exposition in the early 1980s. After being brought back to the United States in the late 1980s, she was set up at the US Space and Rocket Center and given the honorary designation OV-098 and named Pathfinder.

We left as the rain began to fall, but not without stopping by for a visit to Miss Baker. It is customary to leave a banana.

A day later, we ended up in Vicksburg, MS and toured the Civil War battlefield, the USS Cairo gunboat, and stopped by some of the monuments and important sites. It was the last stop on our trip. We pulled into Austin, TX on Friday night, May 5th, exhausted and hungry. The next morning, after getting some breakfast, we visited a site we’ve been meaning to see - the Texas State Cemetery. Gene Cernan, Astronaut, Commander of Apollo 17, lunar land speed record holder, and last man on the moon, was first to be buried on the highest hill in the cemetary, closest to the moon. It was a solemn end to a long journey of history, spaceflight, celebration, tragedy, art, nature, science and exploration.

There are many more photos, and a lot more tales of this trip that aren’t directly related to spaceflight, but I hope my followers enjoy what I’ve shared and have tried to cram into a single posting. This was an incredible experience and it would not be possible without the support and patience of my fiancée, and her camerawork. Most of these photos are hers. Take a look at her blog, especially if you love history, live in Texas, or both!

Another thanks to my good friend Joey who joined us on our journey to KSC. Check him out here, but if you’re looking at this, you may be already following him.

Planning for a trip to see OV-105 Endeavour and the west coast spaceflight tour starts now! 

Testing Time for the SLS Engine Section

In schools across the country, many students just finished final exams. Now, part of the world’s most powerful rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), is about to feel the pressure of testing time. The first SLS engine section has been moving slowly upriver from Michoud Assembly Facility near New Orleans, but once the barge Pegasus docks at our Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, the real strength test for the engine section will get started.

The engine section is the first of four of the major parts of the core stage that are being tested to make sure SLS is ready for the challenges of spaceflight.

The engine section is located at the bottom of the rocket. It has a couple of important jobs. It holds the four RS-25 liquid propellant engines, and it serves as one of two attach points for each of the twin solid propellant boosters. This first engine section will be used only for ground testing. 

Of all the major parts of the rocket, the engine section gets perhaps the roughest workout during launch. Millions of pounds of core stage are pushing down, while the engines are pushing up with millions of pounds of thrust, and the boosters are tugging at it from both sides. That’s a lot of stress. Maybe that’s why there’s a saying in the rocket business: “Test like you fly, and fly like you test.”

After it was welded at Michoud, technicians installed the thrust structure, engine supports and other internal equipment and loaded it aboard the Pegasus for shipment to Marshall.

Once used to transport space shuttle external tanks, Pegasus was modified for the longer SLS core stage by removing 115 feet out of the middle of the barge and added a new 165-foot section with a reinforced main deck. Now as long as a football field, Pegasus – with the help of two tugboats – will transport core stage test articles to Marshall Space Flight Center as well as completed core stages to Stennis Space Center in Mississippi for test firing and then to Kennedy Space Center for launch.

The test article has no engines, cabling, or computers, but it will replicate all the structures that will undergo the extreme physical forces of launch. The test article is more than 30 feet tall, and weighs about 70,000 pounds. About 3,200 sensors attached to the test article will measure the stress during 59 separate tests. Flight-like physical forces will be applied through simulators and adaptors standing in for the liquid hydrogen tank and RS-25 engines.

The test fixture that will surround and secure the engine section weighs about 1.5 million pounds and is taller than a 5-story building. Fifty-five big pistons called “load lines” will impart more than 4.5 million pounds of force vertically and more than 428,000 pounds from the side.

The engineers and their computer design tools say the engine section can handle the stress.  It’s the test team’s job prove that it can.

For more information about the powerful SLS rocket, check out: 

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Liquid oxygen tank confidence weld complete on VAC

A liquid oxygen tank confidence article for NASA’s new rocket, the Space Launch System, completes final welding on the Vertical Assembly Center at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans.

A liquid oxygen tank confidence article for NASA’s new rocket, the Space Launch System, completes final welding on the Vertical Assembly Center at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans.


The first Space Launch System hardware from NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans just arrived at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. We take a minute to introduce you to the crew of NASA’s barge Pegasus. The crew made an 18-day journey on the barge leaving New Orleans on April 28 and arriving at Marshall on May 15. The barge delivered a structural test version of the core stage engine section of SLS, NASA’s new heavy-lift rocket. Pegasus will deliver four test articles of the rocket’s core stage to Marshall for tests that will simulate the forces experienced during launch. Pegasus will later ferry the flight-ready core stage to NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, for testing and then to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for integration of the SLS flight vehicle in the Vehicle Assembly Building.


     NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Louisiana is busy at work fabricating the USA’s future deep space exploration system. Robotic Weld Tool 2 (shown in the second and third photos) uses friction stir welding to build the hull of the Orion Spacecraft. The piece in the tool is the Orion Confidence Article which underwent testing to insure that the tool and manufacturing processes were ready for operation. At the time this photo was taken, June 30, 20, this machine had welded the hull for the Confidence Article, Ground Test Article (GTA) and Exploration Flight Test 1 (EFT-1), which flew successfully on December 5, 2014.

     One of the most leveraged pieces of government property is in use at Michoud; a 1943 metal roller (photo four). The roller was first used in WWII, then built parts for the first stage of the Saturn V Rocket and every Space Shuttle External Tank. The Michoud Machine Shop also houses a press (photo five) adorned with mission patches from each shuttle mission that it served. Now, it is used to bend barrel panels for the SLS core stage propellant tanks. One of these barrel panels rests in front of an oven used for heat treating (photo six). This particular barrel panel is another confidence article.

     The Final Assembly Area (photo seven) is just a small portion of building 103, which houses 42 climate controlled acres under one roof. This enormous facility will continue to build equipment that executes the hopes and dreams of the people on Planet Earth. Big thanks to NASA for allowing Project Habu access to Michoud Assembly Facility.

Tornado Recovery Underway at Michoud Assembly Facility

Teams at our Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans worked overnight and are continuing Wednesday with assessment and recovery efforts following a tornado strike at the facility Tuesday at 11:25 a.m. CST. All 3,500 employees at the facility have been accounted for, with five sustaining minor injuries.

Teams worked through the night on temporary repairs to secure the perimeter fencing and provide access for the essential personnel through the main gate. Approximately 40 to 50 percent of the buildings at Michoud have some kind of damage; about five buildings have some form of severe damage.

Approximately 200 parked cars were damaged, and there was damage to roads and other areas near Michoud.

“The entire NASA family pulls together during good times and bad, and the teams at the Michoud Assembly Facility are working diligently to recover from the severe weather that swept through New Orleans Tuesday and damaged the facility,” said acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot. “We are thankful for the safety of all the NASA employees and workers of onsite tenant organizations, and we are inspired by the resilience of Michoud as we continue to assess the facility’s status.”

Teams will reassess the condition of the Vertical Assembly Center (VAC), as the initial examination revealed some electrical damage to its substation. The VAC is used to weld all major pieces of hardware for the core stage of the Space Launch System. The most recently welded part was removed from the facility last week.

The team has prioritized completing the assessment at the site’s main manufacturing building for the Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft flight hardware so power can be restored in phases and temporary protection put in place to shield hardware from any further inclement weather.

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The barge Pegasus, carrying a structural test version of the massive SLS rocket’s engine section, arrived at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center on May 15 after a 1,240-mile voyage from NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. The barge left Michoud on April 28. The delivery – the first of major SLS hardware from Michoud to Marshall – marks a critical milestone toward the first integrated flight of the SLS rocket and NASA’s Orion spacecraft, and a step closer to sending humans to deep space destinations, including Mars.

NASA modified Pegasus to accommodate the SLS rocket’s core stage, increasing the barge’s length and weight-carrying capacity. The SLS rocket’s core stage is 50 feet longer than the space shuttle external tank.

     When people hear the phrase “most magical place on earth”, their thoughts instantly drift to The Magic Kingdom at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. I may be a sucker for “Disney magic”, but when I hear that phrase, I think of a location about an hour east of Orlando; a place where my dreams come true called NASA Kennedy Space Center. This photoset displays key infrastructure used to support iconic Apollo and Space Shuttle programs that operated from this location.      Photos One, Two & Three: The Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) is the largest single story building in the world. The building consists of four “high bays”, each with its own hangar door, which are the largest doors in the world. In the first photo, High Bay Three is open. The area inside is so large that it often creates fog near the top of the high bays. If the air conditioning quits, it actually rains inside the building. The VAB was constructed in 1966 for the purpose of assembling Saturn V rockets and was later used to assemble Space Shuttle components until 2011. Now, this building will be used to assemble the new Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion spacecraft, along with multiple launch vehicles for different private and commercial space companies. The first photo shows Launch Control in the foreground, attached to the VAB. You can see inside of Firing Room 4 at Launch Control in my previous article (click here to view).      Photo Four: Space shuttle orbiters are essentially a pickup truck. If you have a big pickup, it’s nice to have a big garage. This is where the Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF) comes in. After flight, the shuttle orbiters were transported to one of three OPF buildings. There, they would be inspected and refurbished with no nut or bolt untouched. After every mission, the Main Engines and Orbiter Maneuvering System Pods were replaced. Any hardware needed for the next mission was installed and the orbiter would be rolled to the VAB, where it would be mated to the entire shuttle stack. OPF buildings 1 and 2 now house the Air Force operated Boeing X-37B space planes. OPF 3 contains Boeing’s CST-100 spacecraft, which will be used as a taxi to the International Space Station.      Photo Five: The Crawler-Transporters, a pair of 6,000,000 lb tractors, were constructed to move the Saturn V rocket from the VAB to their launch pads. These vehicles have also transported every space shuttle. To move a rocket, the crawler positions itself under a mobile launch platform on which the launch vehicle rests. The platform is lifted atop the crawler, then transported to the pad where the crawler sets it down. The crawler then moves out from under the mobile launch platform, retreating to a safe distance away from the launch. After launch, the crawler must retrieve the mobile launch platform, bringing it back to the VAB for the next launch cycle. Since 1977, these crawlers have covered over 2,500 miles back and forth on this 3.5 mile stretch of roadway.      Photos Six & Seven: Prior to the construction of the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF), the space shuttle orbiter landed at Edwards Air Force Base in California. This required a Shuttle Carrier Aircraft to transport the orbiter back to Kennedy Space Center in Florida, which was expensive. On March 18, 1974, the SLF idea was announced. After a groundbreaking ceremony, construction began on one of the largest runways in the world. Shuttles could then land at Kennedy Space Center, the port from which they would launch, making the operation of a reusable spacecraft drastically more efficient. Major efforts are conducted to control local birds and reptiles. Alligators tend to bask in the sun on this landing strip. A few hours prior to a shuttle landing, a brave individual would drive the length of the runway and remove alligators by hand.
Let History Never Forget the Name Enterprise

Just as the captains of the fictional 24th century Starfleet blazed a trail among the stars, the space shuttle Enterprise helped pave the way for future space exploration. 

Fifty years ago, Star Trek debuted with the USS Enterprise as the main space-faring vessel used in much of the Star Trek universe. As such, the vessel holds a treasured place in the hearts of Star Trek fans and is as much of a character in the show as Kirk and Spock. Over three different series and a total of 14 seasons on TV and 13 feature films, the iterations of Enterprise have captured the imaginations and provided inspiration for its fans across the globe. 

This brief history of the shuttle tells the tale of humanity’s first reusable spacecraft. Space shuttles were first built in the late 1970s and were flown in space from 1981 to 2011. Their missions ranged from helping to build the International Space Station to repairing the Hubble Space Telescope.   

It’s All In The Name

The first shuttle was originally to be named Constitution, celebrating the country’s bicentennial and was to be unveiled to the public on Constitution Day, Sept. 17, 1976. However, a massive letter-writing campaign by Star Trek fans prompted President Gerald Ford to suggest the change. In the above photo, we see the shuttle Enterprise rolled out in Palmdale, California, with cast members of Star Trek on Sept. 17, 1976. 

To Boldly Go …

This circular red, white and blue emblem was  the official insignia for the Space Shuttle Approach and Landing Test flights and became a model for future space shuttle mission patch designs, including placing the names of the crew on the patch . The four astronauts listed on the patch are: 

  • Fred Haise., commander of the first crew 
  • Charles Fullerton, pilot of the first crew 
  • Joe Engle, commander of the second crew 
  • Dick Truly, pilot of the second crew 

First Impressions

In this image, Enterprise makes its first appearance mated to its boosters as it is slowly rolled to the huge Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at Kennedy Space Center. Although she never flew in space, shuttle Enterprise underwent a series of fit and function checks on the pad in preparation for the first launch of its sister craft, Columbia.

Not Meant To Be

Enterprise sits on Launch Complex 39 at Kennedy Space Center undergoing tests after completing its 3.5 mile journey from the VAB. Have you ever wondered why Enterprise never went into space? Converting Enterprise from a training vehicle to space-worthy one was too cost prohibitive, our engineers felt.


Commander Fred Haise and pilot Charles Fullerton are seen in the cockpit of Enterprise prior to the fifth and final Approach and Landing Test at Dryden Flight Research Center (Armstrong Flight Research Center). The tests were performed to learn about the landing characteristics of the shuttle.

It’s Been An Honor To Serve With You

The Enterprise’s two crews pose for a photo op at the Rockwell International Space Division’s Orbiter assembly facility at Palmdale, California. They are (left to right) Charles Fullerton, Fred Haise, Joe Engle and Dick Truly.

Fair Winds And Following Seas

On July 6, 2012, the Enterprise, atop a barge, passes the Statue of Liberty on its way to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, where is now permanently on display.

Learn more about Star Trek and NASA.

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One lovely lady on twitter asked me to send her links to post AOU Steve/Wanda fanfics, so i decided to post all of my favorite fics from AO3 and at once include an au ones. Enjoy!

Where the Heart Is  |  Home is where you make it. Home is where you find it. 

Five times Steve couldn’t really answer her questions |   Five times Steve couldn’t really answer her questions, and the one time he could 

I will not say ‘do not weep’ | The red rims of her eyes and the blood on her hands match her scarlet coat. Steve wonders if it makes it harder or easier, having a body to mourn over.He knows all too well there’s precious little that can be done to ease her pain, but he’ll be damned if he won’t at least try. 

Wish |  No one touches her anymore.  

Hollow Fragments  |  It would always be the same. Wanda would stand close to the wall, her fingers running over the letters of her twin’s name. While the red mist that accompanied her powers would surround her in almost a blanket of protection.  

I Don’t Want To Think About It Now (Is It All In My Head?) |  They compliment each other.   

Consequences  |  The team try to deal with the aftermath of the events of Age of Ultron and everything that comes with it.  

Stand By Me  | Wanda Maximoff is adjusting to life as an Avenger  and without Pietro. Steve Rogers has been there and knows what that’s like.Somehow, they fit together quite nicely. 

I Will Have War |  The Avengers have assembled at their new facility. They learn to work together as a team, but after several international incidents, the governments of the world concur that all superheroes must be monitored. With mutterings of The Winter Soldier and lost bloody secrets coming to light, Captain America and Iron Man face off in an epic conflict between former allies and friends. 

My Eyes (AU) |  A shower, some music and paper thin walls. Together you get how Wanda and Steve meet all because of a simple song. 

Wanda’s First Christmas |  Wanda experiences her first Christmas with the Avengers.  

never alone |  Steve’s almost asleep when she creeps into his room. “I have never been alone before.”  

Captain Scarlet |  Set a year after the events in Age of Ultron. Wanda is now a full-fledged Avenger, only problem is she still has difficulties opening up to anyone. When she and Steve get ambushed on what seemed like a low-priority mission, things begin to change and a bond between the two heroes forms.  

Aveilut  |  Wanda Maximoff tries to mourn her brother, but she’s not sure how. 

Bodily Woes |  Lately, Steve has been in the rut. It caused him to feel like the elephant in any room. His wife, on the other hand isn’t helping, since she seemed to be hiding a secret. 

Scarlet |  “Despite what Maria told me, I don’t think you’re weird.”  

Labour of Love  |  Steve is fairly content with his life. He has a fiancé who he loves very much, his missions have been successful, and his friendship with the Avengers is as stronger than ever. However, they get a surprise that Steve is delighted about while she is a little apprehensive about it. 

A Nice Day For a White Wedding  |  It’s Tony and Pepper’s wedding, only the groom is missing, there is a pregnancy test, one of the bridesmaid has a back eye, Pepper’s sister provides some temptation for two of the guys, Steve and Wanda are going through a dry patch sexually and there is no one to officiate the wedding. Not everything is quite as straightforward as everything seems however.  

Thanksgiving for the Memories  |  Sorry for the pun. The team reminisce about a Thanksgiving five years previously where Pepper’s mother meets the team for the first time, a critical culinary error is made, and Tony pushes Pepper too far.


Last space shuttle External Tank arrives at California Science Center.

ET-94 paraded its way through the Los Angeles suburbs today, May 21, as it journeyed to its final home at the California Science Center.

The last surviving flight-worthy space shuttle external tank, ET-94 left the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans April 12, where it has been since it was fabricated in the early 2000′s. It traversed the Panama Canal April 25-27, and arrived at Marina Del Rey in Los Angeles last Wednesday, May 19, after a 36-day sea voyage.

Leaving Marina Del Rey at 12:01am PDT with a New Orleans jazz band, the tank encountered more obstacles than expected during its 15.5 mile trek through the city, arriving at the CSC at 7:13pm PDT.

Towed through the streets of Inglewood, the last time space hardware shut down traffic was in October 2012, when space shuttle Endeavour was towed from Los Angeles International Airport to the CSC.

P/c: LA Times, California Science Center.

I’m going to NASA’s #JourneyToMars Tomorrow

Originally posted by cheshireteaparty

For those who don’t yet know, I have been 1 out of 100 social media people selected to attend the NASA Social event ‪#‎JourneyToMars‬ (tomorrow & Thursday) at the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans and at NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center nearby in Mississippi.

I will be live-blogging and live-tweeting throughout it, so be sure to check out this Star Wars blog and my twitter (@maddie_fett) to keep up with everything…especially on Thursday!

I may do live streams as well (specifically of the rocket engine test), so if you’re interested in seeing all this exclusive, behind-the-scenes stuff about NASA’s #JourneyToMars, be sure to look out for livestream notifications on here and twitter (and snapchat).

Also feel free to check my snapchat (maddiesun99) for random, unofficial posts/updates, if you haven’t already.

That’s all for now, may the force be with you all!

Originally posted by fallingwinters


NASA’s first test article for the Space Launch System’s Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage arrived at its test stand at Marshall Space Flight Center earlier today, November 16. The stage was moved from its assembly facility in Decatur, Alabama to Marshall in Huntsville via the Tennessee River June 19.

Here, it will be stacked with other test components of the upper portion of the Space Launch System, which will then undergo structural load testing at the center’s newly-constructed SLS test stand. The completed STA stack - consisting of the core stage simulator, launch vehicle stage adapter, ICPS, and Orion spacecraft simulator - will stand more than 56 feet tall.

Structural Test Articles help engineers test a vehicle’s design loads during flight conditions. The STA vehicle being assembled at Marshall will be vibrated, pushed, pulled, and twisted to ensure all components remain within acceptable conditions. 

This is the first ICPS built by by Boeing, who is the Space Launch System’s prime contractor. The ICPS is the second stage of the SLS, and will be used to loft Orion into Earth orbit, and then into deep space. As its name suggests, it will only fly on EM-1 and EM-2 before being replaced by the more powerful Exploration Upper Stage.

The design of the ICPS is derived from the Delta Cryogenic Second Stage, the upper stage of the Delta IV rocket. The STA - without an engine nozzle - stands more than 29 feet tall and 17 feet wide.



Happy Boxing Day Comrades

An overview of Italy’s anti-fascist gyms and boxing clubs

Politics has never been far from the surface in the world of combat sports. Whether we think of the boxer Primo Carnera, an icon of fascism in the 1930s, or Muhammad Ali, an icon of black power in the 1960s. Or of the predominance of Jews in East London’s boxing clubs before and immediately after World War 2, often using their training against Mosley’s British Union of Fascists.

The “Palestra Popolare AntiFa Boxe,” the first of its kind, opened in October 2001 in Turin, in the Askatasuna squatted social centre, when one of the centre’s activists suggested occupying and using the empty spaces of a commercial gym. Completely run by activists, the school is open to everyone and doesn’t charge expensive fees, unlike many commercial gyms. As their website proudly claims, “in terms of training and equipment we have nothing to envy in the capitalist gyms: our training is non-competitive simply because of the nature of what we do.”

Similar sentiments are held by the “Palestra Popolare San Pietrino”, the boxing, aikido and tai-chi gym attached to the nEXt Emerson social centre in Florence:

A working class gym doesn’t require a membership card, a monthly fee or an enrollment. No money changes hands, not from athletes nor for coaches: we all contribute to the building up, maintenance and cleaning of our place. […] We have a coach but, as the years have gone by, older boxers or tai-chi practitioners have become coaches too and started teaching younger athletes, in line with the principles of autogestione (self-management) and horizontal organization. On Wednesdays we fight against each other, not with rage, but willing to improve. We know that in the opposite corner of the ring there’s a friend who’s trained, shared the maintenance tasks and will later eat a pizza with us.

Credit: Palestra Popolare San Pietrino

Popular and antifascist boxing is also meant as a response to the heavily politicized climate of many traditional combat training centres, where young men who are initially interested in fighting often meet right-wing groups and their neo-fascist ideologies. Which is why being anti-fascist is the only requirement in order to become a member.

Several such centres are also open in Milan, in squats and self-organised centres such as Palestra Baraonda, Area Grizzly, and Sottoterra (apologies if we missed someone!). TPO, a long-standing squat in Bologna, also has a popular sports centre, where traditional martial arts (Muay Thai) and contemporary dance are offered to citizens and activists. Boxing training at the Palestra Antirazzista Red Rose is also organized by Crash, a more recent squat mainly run by students. Palermo also has a prominent antifascist boxing centre, the Antifa Boxe; Rome has at least two, the “Pallestra” at the Forte Prenestino and one at the Corto Circuito squat. In Cosenza the “ASD Boxe Popolare” has a longtime connection with the football ultras. These are only the oldest examples: sports centres also exist in Ancona, Naples, and many other cities across the nation.

When, in January 2012, the first popular sports network meeting was held in Ancona, about 20 centres answered the call. While these centres do not constitute a common political front, they have promoted joint political action on some occasions. For instance, popular sport played a big role in the 10-year commemorations of Dax’s murder; members of different centres marched behind a common banner in the March 23 (2013) No-TAV demo.

In addition to being extremely affordable and self-organised, these centres are also open to everyone, regardless of legal status – something that is not common in official sports networks.

Popular and self-organised sport provides a radical alternative to the culture of commercial training and fighting. These centres promote a different view of the body, fighting gender discrimination, ageism, ableism and homophobia; they support a natural view of the body, promoting diversity against the artificial standards of fitness imposed by the market. They reject commercialization and commodification of sport, with its pricey and branded equipment and its exclusive premium memberships. Consequently, they empower the individual to be in charge of their own training and socialization — which also involves taking care of their own spaces, from management assemblies to cleaning facilities, painting walls, hanging bags and all the hard, sweaty labour of renovation. Finally, they strive to counter the male-chauvinist philosophy underlying some training philosophies, and any latent view of supremacy. It surely is a major shift of perspective, and one of the most interesting innovations of the glorious season of the Italian “centri sociali”.

It may look like this model works only for boxing, rugby or soccer but TPO in Bologna has contemporary dance and nEXt Emerson hosts TangoSognato. Begun in 2008, this course of self-managed Tango now has more than 100 students at four different levels, so many that it was necessary (and possible) to build a parquet dance-floor of 100 sq metres inside one of the Squat’s big warehouses. Every month it hosts free “milonghe” (dance nights open to the public).



Spain _uDc






Getting to Mars: A New Rocket for the Journey

Do you know what the structural backbone is of our new rocket, the Space Launch System? If you answered the core stage, give yourself a double thumbs up! Or better yet, have astronaut Scott Kelly do it!

We’re on a journey to Mars. For bolder missions to deep space, we need a big, powerful rocket like SLS to take astronauts in the Orion spacecraft to places we’ve never gone before. The core stage is a major part of that story, as it will house the fuel and avionics systems that will power and guide the rocket to those new destinations beyond Earth’s orbit. Here’s how:

It’s Big, and It’s Fast.

The core stage will be the largest rocket stage ever built and is under construction right now at our Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. It will stand at 212 feet tall and weigh more than 2.3 million pounds with propellant. That propellant is cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen that will feed the vehicle’s RS-25 engines. In just 8.5 minutes, the core stage will reach Mach 23, which is faster than 17,000 mph!

It’s Smart.

Similar to a car, the rocket needs all the equipment necessary for the “drive” to deep space. The core stage will house the vehicle’s avionics, including flight computers, instrumentation, batteries, power handling, sensors and other electronics. That’s a lot of brain power behind those orange-clad aluminum walls. *Fun fact: Orange is the color of the rocket’s insulation.

It’s a Five-Parter.

The core stage is made up of five parts. Starting from the bottom is the engine section, which will deliver the propellants to the four RS-25 engines. It also will house avionics to steer the engines, and be an attachment point for the two, five-segment solid rocket boosters. The engine section for the first SLS flight has completed welding and is in the final phases of manufacturing at Michoud.

Next up is the liquid hydrogen tank. It will hold 537,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen cooled to -423 degrees Fahrenheit. Right now, engineers are building the tank for the first SLS mission. It will look very similar to the qualification test article that just finished welding at Michoud. That’s an impressive piece of rocket hardware!

The next part of the core stage is the intertank, which will join the propellant tanks. It has to be super strong because it is the attachment point for the boosters and absorbs most of the force when they fire 3.6 million pounds of thrust each. It’s also a “think tank” of sorts, as it holds the SLS avionics and electronics. The intertank is even getting its own test structure at our Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

And then there’s the liquid oxygen tank. It will store 196,000 gallons of liquid oxygen cooled to -297 degrees. If you haven’t done the math, that’s 733,000 gallons of propellant for both tanks, which is enough to fill 63 large tanker trucks. Toot, toot. Beep, beep! A confidence version of the tank has finished welding at Michoud, and it’s impressive. Just ask this guy.

The topper of the core stage is the forward skirt. Funny name, but serious hardware. It’s home to the flight computers, cameras and avionics. The avionics system is being tested right now in a half-ring structure at the Marshall Center.

You can click here for more SLS core stage facts. We’ll continue building, and see you at the launch pad for the first flight of SLS with Orion in 2018!

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Getting to Mars: What It’ll Take

Join us as we take a closer look at the next steps in our journey to the Red Planet:

The journey to Mars crosses three thresholds, each with increasing challenges as humans move farther from Earth. We’re managing these challenges by developing and demonstrating capabilities in incremental steps:

Earth Reliant

Earth Reliant exploration is focused on research aboard the International Space Station. From this world-class microgravity laboratory, we are testing technologies and advancing human health and performance research that will enable deep space, long duration missions.

On the space station, we are advancing human health and behavioral research for Mars-class missions. We are pushing the state-of-the-art life support systems, printing 3-D parts and analyzing material handling techniques.

Proving Ground

In the Proving Ground, we will learn to conduct complex operations in a deep space environment that allows crews to return to Earth in a matter of days. Primarily operating in cislunar space (the volume of space around the moon). We will advance and validate the capabilities required for humans to live and work at distances much farther away from our home planet…such as at Mars.

Earth Independent

Earth Independent activities build on what we learn on the space station and in deep space to enable human missions to the Mars vicinity, possibly to low-Mars orbit or one of the Martian moons, and eventually the Martian surface. Future Mars missions will represent a collaborative effort between us and our partners.

Did you know….that through our robotic missions, we have already been on and around Mars for 40 years! Taking nearly every opportunity to send orbiters, landers and rovers with increasingly complex experiments and sensing systems. These orbiters and rovers have returned vital data about the Martian environment, helping us understand what challenges we may face and resources we may encounter.

Through the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), we will demonstrate an advanced solar electric propulsion capability that will be a critical component of our journey to Mars. ARM will also provide an unprecedented opportunity for us to validate new spacewalk and sample handling techniques as astronauts investigate several tons of an asteroid boulder.

Living and working in space require accepting risks – and the journey to Mars is worth the risks. A new and powerful space transportation system is key to the journey, but we will also need to learn new ways of operating in space.

We Need You!

In the future, Mars will need all kinds of explorers, farmers, surveyors, teachers…but most of all YOU! As we overcome the challenges associated with traveling to deep space, we will still need the next generation of explorers to join us on this journey. Come with us on the journey to Mars as we explore with robots and send humans there one day.

Join us as we go behind-the-scenes:

We’re offering a behind-the-scenes look Thursday, Aug. 18 at our journey to Mars. Join us for the following events:

Journey to Mars Televised Event at 9:30 a.m. EDT
Join in as we host a conversation about the numerous efforts enabling exploration of the Red Planet. Use #askNASA to ask your questions! Tune in HERE.

Facebook Live at 1:30 p.m. EDT
Join in as we showcase the work and exhibits at our Michoud Assembly Facility. Participate HERE.

Hot Fire Test of an RS-25 Engine at 6 p.m. EDT
The 7.5-minute test is part of a series of tests designed to put the upgraded former space shuttle engines through the rigorous temperature and pressure conditions they will experience during a launch. Watch HERE.  

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