NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Top 20 Stories of 2023

Here’s a look back at 2023’s most significant events at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida: JANUARYDay of Remembrance

NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Top 20 Stories of 2023

Here’s a look back at 2023’s most significant events at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida:

Day of Remembrance Marks 20th Anniversary of Columbia Tragedy 

NASA senior management and guests paid tribute to the crew members of space shuttle Columbia, as well as other astronauts who perished in the line of duty, during the agency’s Annual Day of Remembrance held at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.   

Facilities, Spacecraft Prepped for Artemis II Mission 

Teams with Exploration Ground Systems began upgrading and modifying facilities at Kennedy to support Artemis II, paving the way for human exploration to the Moon and Mars. Artemis II will be the first crewed flight of the agency’s Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft.   

‘Famous’ Eagles Build New Nest at Kennedy

When storms badly damaged their original nest at the Florida spaceport, a well-known pair of American bald eagles built a new home nearby along Kennedy Parkway, providing a magnificent view of the majestic birds in their natural habitat.   

New Orion Test Article Makes a Splash

NASA’s Landing and Recovery team completed a rigorous round of testing on the new mock-up of the agency’s Orion spacecraft. This test article will be used to train NASA, Navy, and other Department of Defense personnel to retrieve astronauts from the Pacific Ocean after splashing down on Artemis Moon missions.   

Crew-6 Lights up Florida Early-Morning Sky

A Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft roared off of Kennedy’s Launch Pad 39A at 12:34 a.m. EST March 2, kickstarting NASA’s SpaceX Crew-6 mission. The launch carried NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Woody Hoburg, along with UAE (United Arab Emirates) astronaut Sultan Alneyadi and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev to the International Space Station for a six-month science expedition mission.  

Crew-5 Comes Back to Earth

NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Koichi Wakata, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina splashed down safely in the SpaceX Dragon Endurance in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Tampa, Florida, at 9:02 p.m. EST March 11, returning to Earth after 157 days in space.  

CRS-27 Launches to the Space Station

At 8:30 p.m. EDT March 14, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket rumbled off the pad at Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39A, starting Dragon’s two-day journey to the International Space Station to deliver new science investigations, supplies, and equipment for Expedition 68 and 69 crews aboard the orbiting laboratory.

Swamp Works Celebrates a Decade of Discoveries

In 2023, Swamp Works, which drew its inspiration from Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works in California, celebrated 10 years. The facility is devoted to innovation and leveraging skills and capabilities across the center, focusing on granular mechanics and regolith operations, applied chemistry, electrostatics and surface physics, advanced materials and systems, applied physics, and corrosion technology.  

Astronauts Complete Second All-Private Mission

Four private astronauts completed a successful Axiom Mission 2, the second all-private astronaut mission to the space station. Axiom Space astronauts Peggy Whitson, John Shoffner, Ali Alqarni, and Rayyanah Barnawi spent 10 days on the orbiting laboratory after lifting off at 5:37 p.m. EDT on May 21 from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center.

Solar Arrays Delivered on CRS-28

Several thousand pounds of important research, crew supplies and hardware, including new solar arrays, were delivered to the space station following the June 5 launch of SpaceX’s 28th commercial resupply services mission for NASA from Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39A.  

Artemis Crews Get New Ride to the Pad

Teams from manufacturer Canoo Technologies Inc. of Torrance, California, delivered three specially designed, fully electric, environmentally friendly crew transportation vehicles to Kennedy on July 11. The vehicles will take Artemis crews on the final Earth-bound leg of their journey to the Moon before boarding their rocket and spacecraft.  

Crew-7 Carries International Crew to Space Station   

A Dragon spacecraft, named Endurance, launched atop a Falcon 9 rocket, carrying NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Andreas Mogensen, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Satoshi Furukawa, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Konstantin Borisov to the space station on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-7 mission. Liftoff occurred at 3:27 a.m. EDT on Saturday, Aug. 26.  

Artemis II Crew Meets Their Ride Around the Moon 

Inside the high bay of Kennedy’s Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building, Artemis II NASA astronauts Reid Wiseman, Victor Glover, and Christina Koch, and CSA (Canadian Space Agency) astronaut Jeremy Hansen visited the Orion spacecraft that will take them on a 10-day journey around the Moon as the first Artemis crew.  

Crew-6 Completes Six-Month Mission  

NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Woody Hoburg, along with UAE (United Arab Emirates) astronaut Sultan Alneyadi and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev splashed down safely in SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft, named Endeavour, in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida, at 12:17 a.m. EDT Monday, Sept. 24, after 186 days in space.  

Artemis II Astronauts Conduct Launch-Day Demonstration 

NASA astronauts Reid Wiseman, Victor Glover, and Christina Koch, along with CSA (Canadian Space Agency) astronaut Jeremy Hansen, practiced the procedures they will undergo on launch day to prepare for their mission around the Moon. The Artemis II crew and teams with NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems Program successfully completed the critical ground system tests at Kennedy on Sept. 20. 

Psyche Launches to a Metal Asteroid

NASA’s Psyche spacecraft began its six-year voyage to an asteroid of the same name, a metal-rich world that could tell us more about the formation of rocky planets, after successfully launching aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket from Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy on Oct. 13.

Progress Continues Toward NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight to Station 

NASA and Boeing are working to complete the agency’s verification and validation activities ahead of the Starliner spacecraft’s first flight with astronauts to the International Space Station. While Boeing is targeting March 2024 to have the spacecraft ready for flight, teams decided during a launch manifest evaluation that a launch in April will better accommodate upcoming crew rotations and cargo resupply missions this spring.  

Sea Turtle Nests Set Kennedy Record  

A record number of sea turtle nests were built on the undisturbed beaches of the Florida spaceport in 2023. Biologists counted 13,935 sea turtle nests along Kennedy’s shoreline during the 2023 nesting season, 639 more nests than 2022 and the most found on center in a single year since record-keeping began in 1984.  

NASA, SpaceX Launch New Science, Hardware to Space Station 

Following a successful launch of NASA’s SpaceX 29th commercial resupply mission from Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39A, scientific experiments and technology demonstrations – including studies of enhanced optical communications and measurement of atmospheric waves – were delivered to the space station.  

Kennedy Celebrates 25 Years of International Space Station Science

NASA Kennedy marked a quarter of a century of assembling and processing components and science missions for the International Space Station. In December 1998, the Unity module of the International Space Station was carried to orbit on STS-88 from Kennedy, helping kick off a 25-year legacy that includes over 3700 science investigations conducted to date on the orbiting laboratory by 273 people from 21 countries.   

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