About the Author

Jared Locke

Jared is a photographer based out of Orlando who covers rocket launches and events at Cape Canaveral.

Along with photography, he is also a writer for Space Explored, with a specialty for permits and public records.

You can follow Jared’s work on Twitter: @baserunner0723, Instagram: @jared_base, and Facebook: Jared-Base Photography

For tips, errors, or questions, you can reach me at base@spaceexplored.com

June 14

United Launch Alliance loaded an Atlas V Booster and Dual Engine Centaur onto their Rocketship boat over the weekend. Its destination? Florida. This isn’t just any ordinary Atlas V though, this will be the first one to carry crew to space. The Boeing Starliner Crewed Flight Test (CFT) is still expected NET late 2021. However, a second Orbital Flight Test is needed.

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June 12

NASA teams begin lift operations of the Artemis 1 Core Stage | Image Credit: NASA/Frank Michaux
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Stacking of the SLS Core Stage is well underway at this time with operations beginning on June 10th. This is a major milestone for the Artemis and SLS programs. The launch of Artemis 1 is currently NET November 2021, but this timeframe assumes no complications.

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June 8

Relativity Space just announced the successor to the Terran 1 smallsat launch vehicle, Terran R. Coming in at 216 feet tall and producing 2.1 million pounds of thrust, Terran R will be the world’s first fully reusable, 3D printed rocket. The first launch is expected NET 2024 out of Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

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June 7

Axiom Space and SpaceX announced a 3 flight deal to carry private astronauts to the International Space Station on June 2nd. These 3 additional flights will occur through 2023 and will utilize the SpaceX Crew Dragon Capsule.

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June 5

Those going out to see the latest booster return and droneship departures may have noticed a new structure being erected in the SpaceX area. Permits detail this new tent as a roughly 40′ square with the walls consisting of containers. The canopy being constructed will sit atop these containers.

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June 1

In a closed permit application, Blue Origin proposed modifications to Grouper Road, a road on the north side of Port Canaveral, that would allow their New Glenn booster transporter to enter and leave the port.

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The secretive company founded by Jeff Bezos has been in and out of the news a lot in recent years. Below is an overview of the facilities they have built up across Florida to support their mission to break into the commercial launch industry.

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May 25

Located just north of the Visitor Complex at KSC is SpaceX’s newest facility. The Roberts Road site has been in development for around 2 to 3 years at this point, and construction is continuing to ramp up. Hangar X is the main building of the site that will support Falcon 9 booster refurbishment and house administration offices.

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Axiom Space announced the commander and pilot for their upcoming Ax-2 mission this morning, expected to launch NET Fall 2022. The Ax-2 Commander will be Peggy Whitson, a former NASA astronaut with a lot of firsts to her name. Ax-2 Pilot will be John Shoffner, a pilot, motorsport racer, and a life science activist.

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May 17

May 16th, 8:44 PM: The Black Brant XII sounding rocket carrying the KiNET-X mission launched from Wallops Island in Virginia, images below.

NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility is set to launch a sounding rocket on May 8th late in the evening that could be easily seen across the east side of the US if weather conditions allow.

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May 11

In cases where there is an emergency on the pad and the crew needs to get out of there in a hurry. Companies have designed Emergency Egress Systems (EES) to do just that job. SpaceX and ULA each have them, and in the past, NASA has as well. It looks like Artemis, NASA’s mission to the moon, is in the early stages of having her’s built.

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April 16

It was announced today that Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Space Systems division would be splitting off into its own, independent company. This move comes shortly after SNC announced their future plans for space, including an inflatable space station.

SNC has a long history of working on space systems, and Sierra Space further emphasizes its commitment to achieving its goals. Moving the Space Systems division independent will likely result in these goals reaching fruition faster.

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April 1

Rocket Crafters, based out of Cocoa, Florida, has rebranded to Vaya Space following a difficult year in 2020 and has new plans moving forward. Their new rocket is called Dauntless and is expected to be capable of launching 1000kg (2,200lbs) to Low Earth Orbit and 610kg (1,340lbs) to Sun Synchronous Orbit with the first launch expected in 2023. This launch vehicle is different than most because it uses a hybrid solid rocket motor rather than liquid propellants for thrust.

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March 24

On this day in 1965, Ranger 9 impacted the Moon at 14:08:19 UTC with a relative speed of 2.67 km/s (5,972 mph). This impact concluded the 3-day mission of Ranger 9 and the overall Ranger program. This mission gathered important data needed for the later Surveyor program, and ultimately the Apollo program.

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March 23

The Visitor Complex at Kennedy Space Center has reopened one of its must-see exhibits and just unveiled the Delta II display! With the Coronavirus still very much a hazard, the KSC Visitor Complex has implemented new procedures to keep you safe while still being able to see the amazing Saturn V. Additionally, the latest addition to the Rocket Garden was officially unveiled today with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

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March 9

SpaceX is continuing work on their Boca Chica facilities to support further launches and tests. New plans released by the US Army Corps of Engineers show some new additions that could be coming to the Starship launch site in the very near future.

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March 5

After 29 years and 155 flights, United Launch Alliance retired the Delta II rocket. The final flight took place on September 15, 2018, delivering the NASA ICESat-2 satellite to orbit. Some notable payloads of Delta II are the Spirit and Opportunity Mars Rovers and most of the operational GPS satellites.

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February 23

With the recent landing of Perseverance on the 18th and the first-of-its-kind video release on the 22nd, we are getting access to interplanetary imagery rivaled only by the Juno mission and its JunoCam. The website for the Perseverance rover will be the home for all the pictures, videos, and sounds taken by the rover for the public to view.

Image Breakdown

There are 2 picture sections on the site: Images and Raw Images. The Images section will contain all the NASA-created and edited content such as graphics and edited Perseverance pictures. The Raw Images section contains exactly what the name entails, raw images. You will find that most of these pictures are in black and white while some others may be in color but have a strange hue to them. This is to be expected as little to no editing should have been applied.

As of writing this, there are currently 4,796 total images in the Raw Images section. That’s a lot to go through. You may notice that there are some very small pictures along with normal-sized pictures. That is because they also put the thumbnail pictures they get from the rover up on the site too.

Thumbnail pictures are the low-resolution copies that they get from the rover first before getting the much larger normal resolution files downlinked. You can filter out these thumbnail images using the filters in the sidebar if you want to focus on the normal resolution images instead.

With these raw images, you can create your own edits of Perseverance pictures. I use Adobe Photoshop 2021 to create my edits but you can also create edits in GIMP, a free photoshop alternative. You will need to use the black and white frames that are individual color bands (Red, Green, and Blue) to construct a full-color image.

Here are some of the edits I have made using Photoshop, Astronomy Tools Action Set (For constructing the RGB image and contrast enhancement), and Topaz Labs GigaPixel AI (for AI image up-scaling)

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January 18

NASA recently submitted a permit detailing facility construction and modification plans to support its next Mobile Launch Platform for Space Launch System, the agency’s nearly complete rocket to the Moon. We first have to go back to where SLS all started with the Constellation program to understand why NASA is building a new Mobile Launch Platform.

The current Mobile Launcher, ML-1, was initially built for the Constellation program between 2009 and 2010. When the Constellation program was canned in October 2010, NASA started reworking ML-1 to support their new program for the Space Launch System. With the increased complexity and weight of SLS, issues quickly began to arise.

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The other side of the Solid Rocket Booster pictured before has the iconic Worm logo
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NASA invited media to Kennedy Space Center to witness the progress being made with the stacking of the SLS Solid Rocket Motors and to see the Orion Crew Capsule as it is being prepared to be moved to one of the final processing facilities before being stacked later this year.

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