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Multi-Center NASA Social: Preview Orion’s First Flight Test Launch at a Location Nearest You

For the first time ever, all 10 NASA field centers will participate in a multi-center NASA Social event Dec. 3, previewing the Dec. 4 first flight of the Orion Spacecraft on Exploration Flight Test-1. We are inviting social media users to apply for a credential to attend an event in-person at one of eight locations through the country.

Each center will be connected via a multi-center NASA Television simulcast with Kennedy Space Center during its NASA Social, which was previously announced. Orion will launch on a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket from Space Launch Complex 37 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Liftoff is targeted for 7:05 a.m. EST Dec. 4.

Along with discussing Orion and our Journey to Mars, participants will get a unique behind the scenes look at the respective center and the diverse work of the agency through tours and presentations with scientists, engineers and managers. The events also will provide guests the opportunity to interact with fellow social media users, space enthusiasts and members of NASA’s social media team.

Registration for the NASA Social closes at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 2. Participants will be selected from online registrations.  

No two locations are the same. Each center has a different itinerary depending on their location:

NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
Ames in California’s Silicon Valley will host up to 25 social media followers to commemorate the center’s many contributions to Orion. Ames engineers, scientists, managers and facilities have primarily supported the Orion Program with capabilities in supercomputing, wind tunnel testing and thermophysics. Tours and speakers will cover the Pleiades supercomputer and NASA Advanced Supercomputing facility; the supersonic Unitary Plan Wind Tunnel; and heat shield research, development and testing, including the Arc Jet facilities that simulate the extreme conditions of atmospheric reentry. Additional Ames tours and speakers will feature other highlights of the center’s expertise in exploration, science and aeronautics research.

NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio
Glenn will host up to 50 social media followers to come and learn about the center’s current contributions to the Orion Spacecraft.  You will see selected facilities and interact with the researchers who have been instrumental in the design of the Orion crew and service modules, fairing separation mechanism and development of the thermal and power subsystems for the service module.  Facilities toured will include our state-of-the-art 3D immersive visualization laboratory, a newly designed thruster in a vacuum chamber and a clean room housing satellite communications hardware.  A launch event is planned for Dec. 4th at the Great Lakes Science Center in downtown Cleveland.

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
Goddard will host up to 25 social media followers to attend an afternoon celebrating the Orion launch. Attendees will tour the Astrobiology Analytical Laboratory, where Martian meteorites and other samples are tested to answer two of the biggest mysteries facing humanity: How did we get here? And are we alone? We’ll also tour Goddard’s massive Integration and Testing Facility, where spacecraft are built and tested and the world’s largest cleanroom where the James Webb Space Telescope is being constructed. Webb is the scientific successor to NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. It will be the most powerful space telescope ever built.

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory & NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center, Pasadena, Calif.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory in partnership with the agency’s Armstrong Flight Research Center will host up to 40 social media followers to JPL to learn about the Southern California centers’ contributions to Orion and NASA’s Journey to Mars. The program includes a behind-the-scenes tour of JPL, with stops at the Mars Yard, where engineering models of our Curiosity rover are tested in a sandy Mars-like environment; and the Spacecraft Assembly Facility, where hardware for upcoming projects is under construction. Guests will interact with those who design, build, test and operate the robots that precede human explorers, as well as those developing new technology, like the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD), a system that will help land humans safely on Mars. Experts from NASA Armstrong will discuss their role in testing Orion’s Launch Abort System, designed to propel the Crew Module safely from a launch pad or in-flight emergency. An Armstrong pilot will give a briefing on NASA’s Ikhana unmanned aircraft system (UAS), which will serve as a chase aircraft feeding live video of the Orion capsule as it makes its way to splashdown on Dec. 4. Participants will have the option of viewing the splashdown feed online or from an auditorium at JPL.

NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Houston
Johnson will host up to 30 social media followers to NASA Johnson for a two-day event Dec. 3 and 4 to highlight the first launch of the Orion Spacecraft and discuss Johnson’s role in NASA’s Journey to Mars. NASA Social guests will tour the center and get behind-the-scenes visits to the Orion Spacecraft mockup, the iconic Mission Control Centers, and the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory, which simulates zero gravity for astronaut training. Guests will also have the chance to explore the International Space Station mockups and learn how that unique research platform contributes to our future exploration goals. Orion experts will discuss the main objectives for the first flight test and the future of the program. Also, astronauts, scientists and managers will make appearances throughout the day to share their unique perspectives. For launch, guests will be invited to Johnson’s official visitor center, Space Center Houston, for a special launch viewing Dec. 4.

NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va.
Langley will host up to 30 social media followers on Dec. 3. Guests will get behind-the-scenes access to NASA’s first field center and a briefing on Orion’s first flight test. Langley’s massive Landing and Impact Research Facility and Hydro Impact Basin will be showcased. In the 1960s, this is where Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin learned how to land on the moon. Today, our researchers test Orion splashdown scenarios and crash test airplanes and helicopters at the Hydro Impact Basin. Guests will also tour Langley labs, where NASA is evaluating asteroid grappling, developing lunar habitat technologies and testing an Orion mockup. On Dec. 4, we’ll offer guests a special opportunity to watch Orion’s launch and splashdown at the nearby Virginia Air & Space Center, our official visitor center.

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.
Marshall will host up to 30 social media followers to celebrate Orion’s first test flight December 3 and 4. The center has provided critical support to Orion’s first flight, including the fabrication of Orion test and flight hardware, conducting structural testing of the service module and crew module elements, management oversight of the launch abort system (LAS) propulsion elements, and the design and manufacturing of the stage adapter that will connect the Orion spacecraft to the United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket. The stage adapter will also be used to connect NASA’s new rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS) — being designed and developed at the Marshall Center — to the Orion spacecraft. The center is also home to the International Space Station’s Payload Operations Center, where flight controllers coordinate and assist orbiting astronauts around the clock with activities and scientific investigations. Visitors will also learn more about Marshall’s role in innovative manufacturing techniques, 3-D printing, and other advanced technologies and capabilities. Participants to the social will tour the Marshall Center on December 3 and also be able to attend a launch party at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, the official visitor center for the Marshall Center, on December 4. Participants will also have the opportunity for special tours of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center during the social. 

NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center, near Bay St. Louis, Miss.
Stennis will host up to 25 social media followers for an all-day event to learn about the center’s commercial partnerships that contribute to the Orion first flight test and get behind-the-scenes access to America’s largest rocket engine test facility. Stennis is where Aerojet Rocketdyne tests its RS-68 engines that will power the Delta IV rocket, which will boost the pathfinder version of our Orion crew capsule on its maiden flight. Additionally, participants will view the historic B-2 test stand that is being renovated for Space Launch System core stage testing. They will also visit the A-1 test stand where the RS-25 engine is scheduled to begin its test series debut later this year. Four RS-25 engines will be used to power the massive core stage of the SLS.


What are NASA Social media credentials? Social media credentials give users a chance to apply for the same access as journalists in an effort to align the access and experience of social media representatives with those of traditional media. People, who actively collect, report, analyze and disseminate news on social networking platforms are encouraged to apply for media credentials. Selection is not random. All social media accreditation applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Those chosen must prove through the registration process they meet specific engagement criteria.

How do I register? Registration opens on Oct. 22 and closes at 5 p.m. Nov. 2. Registration is for one person only (you) and is non-transferable. All social media accreditation applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Do I need to have a social media account to register? Yes. This event is designed for people who:

  • Actively use multiple social networking platforms and tools to disseminate information to a unique audience.
  • Regularly produce new content that features multimedia elements.
  • Have the potential to reach a large number of people using digital platforms.
  • Reach a unique audience, separate and distinctive from traditional news media and/or NASA audiences.
  • Must have an established history of posting content on social media platforms.
  • Have previous postings that are highly visible, respected and widely recognized.

Users on all social media networks are encouraged to use the hashtags #NASASocial and #Orion. Updates and information about the event will be shared on Twitter (@NASA@NASASocial, @NASA_Orion), Facebook (NASA, NASA’s Orion Spacecraft) and Google+ (NASA).

What are the registration requirements? Registration indicates your intent to travel to one of our NASA field centers and attend the two-day event in person. You are responsible for your own expenses for travel, accommodation, food and other amenities.

Some events and participants scheduled to appear at the event are subject to change without notice. NASA and is not responsible for loss or damage incurred as a result of attending. NASA, moreover, is not responsible for loss or damage incurred if the event is cancelled with limited or no notice. Please plan accordingly.

All registrants must be at least 18 years old.

Can I register if I am not a U.S. citizen? Because of the security deadlines, registration is limited to U.S. citizens. If you have a valid permanent resident card, you will be processed as a U.S. citizen. Those who are selected will need to complete an additional registration step to receive clearance to enter the secure areas. To be admitted, you will need to show two government-issued identifications (one with a photo) that match the name provided on the registration. Those without proper identification cannot be admitted. All registrants must be at least 18 years old.

Does my registration include a guest? Because of space limitations, you may not bring a guest. Each registration provides a place for one person only (you) and is non-transferable. Each individual wishing to attend must register separately. Select launch or splashdown viewing events on Dec. 4 will be open to the public at large. Please check with each local host for details.

What if I cannot come to a NASA field center in-person? If you cannot come to one of our centers and attend in person, you should not register for the NASA Social. You can follow the conversation using the #NASASocial and #Orion hashtags. You can watch the launch on Dec. 4 on NASA TV or on our website.

If you cannot make this NASA Social, don’t despair; NASA is planning others in the near future at various locations. Check back on for updates.

When will I know if I am selected? After registrations have been received and processed, an email with confirmation information and additional instructions will be sent to those selected and those on the waitlist. We expect to send notifications no later than Monday, Nov. 10

What if the spacecraft’s launch date changes? Hundreds of different factors can cause a scheduled launch date to change multiple times. The launch date will not be official until after the Flight Readiness Review. If the launch date changes prior to then, we may adjust the date of the NASA Social accordingly to coincide with the new target launch date. We will notify registrants of any changes by email. If the launch is postponed on Dec. 4, we will try and accommodate you on the new launch date.  

NASA Social attendees are responsible for any additional costs they incur related to any launch delay. We strongly encourage participants to make travel arrangements that are refundable and/or flexible.

Does registration for and/or attendance at the NASA Social qualify me for media accreditation? No, your registration and/or attendance does not qualify you for news media credentials now or in the future.

Can you tell me more information about Orion? NASA’s Orion spacecraft is being built to take humans farther than they’ve ever gone before. Orion will serve as the exploration vehicle that will carry the crew to space, provide emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during the space travel, and provide safe re-entry from deep space return velocities.

The uncrewed test flight called Exploration Flight Test-1 will test Orion systems critical to crew safety, such as heat shield performance, separation events, avionics and software performance, attitude control and guidance, parachute deployment and recovery operations.

The data gathered during the flight will influence design decisions and validate existing computer models and innovative new approaches to space systems development, as well as reduce overall mission risks and costs.

In the future, Orion will launch on NASA’s new heavy-lift rocket, the Space Launch System. More powerful than any rocket ever built, SLS will be capable of sending humans to deep space destinations such as an asteroid and eventually Mars. Exploration Mission-1, scheduled for 2018, will be the first mission to integrate Orion and the Space Launch System.