NASA today will host media briefings previewing the launch of a Jupiter-bound spacecraft and the next crew flying to the International Space Station.
The robotic Juno spacecraft this morning was mated to the upper stage of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at Cape Canaveral Air Force Stations' Launch Complex 41.
A five year cruise to Jupiter is targeted to begin with an 11:34 a.m. blastoff next Friday, Aug. 5., the opening of a roughly hour-long launch window.
At 1 p.m. today, mission managers and scientists will gather at Kennedy Space Center's press site to preview the mission. Additional briefings are planned next Wednesday.
The Juno mission will be the first to launch from the Space Coast since the return of Atlantis last Thursday ended the shuttle era and began a multi-year gap in human spaceflights.
After the Juno event, NASA astronaut Dan Burbank and two cosmonauts will host a 2 p.m. EDT news conference at Johnson Space Center to preview their planned Sept. 22 launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the space station.
Burbank is a veteran of two shuttle missions, both on Atlantis.
The crew will be the first to launch in the post-shuttle era, when Russian Soyuz vehicles offer the only human access to the station.
NASA is working with commercial partners to develop crew taxi services by the middle of the decade.
Click on the NASA TV box at right to watch both events live.
IMAGE: Above, in the Astrotech payload processing facility near Kennedy Space Center on July 18, work was under way to enclose the Juno spacecraft in its Atlas payload fairing for launch. Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett. Below, NASA astronaut Dan Burbank (foreground), Expedition 29 flight engineer and Expedition 30 commander, participated in a Robonaut familiarization training session on June 17 at Johnson Space Center. Ron Diftler, NASA Robonaut project manager, assisted Burbank. Credit: NASA