Launch Services Program
|Headquarters||Kennedy Space Center, FL|
|Website||Launch Services Program|
Launch Services Program (LSP) is responsible for NASA oversight of launch operations and countdown management, providing added quality and mission assurance in lieu of the requirement for the launch service provider to obtain a commercial launch license. It operates under the Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Mission Directorate of NASA.
Since 1990, NASA has purchased expendable launch vehicle (ELV) launch services directly from commercial providers, whenever possible, for its scientific and applications missions. ELVs can accommodate all types of orbit inclinations and altitudes and are ideal vehicles for launching Earth-orbit and interplanetary missions. The Launch Services Program was established at Kennedy Space Center for NASA’s acquisition and program management of ELV missions. A NASA/contractor team is in place to meet the mission of the Launch Services Program, which exists to provide leadership, expertise and cost-effective services in the commercial arena to satisfy Agency wide space transportation requirements and maximize the opportunity for mission success.
Primary launch sites are Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) in Florida, and Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) in California. Other launch locations are NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, in Virginia, the North Pacific’s Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and Kodiak Island in Alaska.
- 1 Objective
- 2 Spacecraft Customers
- 3 Launch Vehicles
- 4 Upcoming Launches
- 5 Social Media
- 6 NASA Articles on LSP
- 7 CubeSats
- 8 Research
- 9 Launch History
- 10 Historic Missions
- 10.1 Mars Exploration Rovers (MER-A & B) (Delta II)
- 10.2 Kepler, Deep Impact, MESSENGER (Delta II)
- 10.3 New Horizons (Atlas V)
- 10.4 GOES and TDRS Fleet of Satellites (Atlas II)
- 10.5 Kodiak Star (Athena I) & Lunar Prospector (Athena II)
- 10.6 Terra (Atlas IIAS)
- 10.7 Stardust, Genesis (Delta II)
- 10.8 Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) (Atlas IIAS)
- 11 LSP Community Involvement
- 12 See also
- 13 External links
- 14 References
Provide safe, reliable, cost-effective and on-schedule processing, mission analysis, and spacecraft integration and launch services for NASA and NASA-sponsored payloads needing a mission on expendable launch vehicles (ELVs).
Mission Statement: Leadership and expertise in providing on-time, on-orbit and on-cost launch services.
Goal 1: Maximize Mission Success
Maximize mission success and achieve mission excellence for all missions.
Goal 2: Assure Long-Term Launch Services
Assure services by providing end-to-end and advisory service expertise for NASA science, Exploration, U.S. Government, and Government sponsored missions.
Goal 3: Promote Evolution of a U.S. Commercial Space Launch Market
Promote the evolution of a U.S. Commercial Space Launch Market through continued relationship development with customers and stakeholders as well as the continual enhancement of policy, contracts, and launch service products and services.
Goal 4: Continually Enhance LSP’s Core Capabilities
Enhance the Launch Services Program Core Capabilities by monitoring the Program’s performance assessment tools and measures, relationships with customer and stakeholders, workforce, LSP policy and contracts, and products and services.
- Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland
- Jet Propulsion Laboratory, located at the California Institute of Technology
- NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, in California’s Silicon Valley
- NASA Marshall Space Flight Center at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama
- NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia
- Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland
- Several U.S. Universities, launching small research satellites (CubeSats)
- International partners
- Other Government Agencies:
The Launch Services Program (LSP) is currently awarding new contracts under the NASA Launch Services (NLS) II Contract. The following vehicles are attached to the NLS II Contract.
- Antares  - Orbital Sciences Corporation (OSC)
- Athena I - Lockheed Martin Space Systems
- Athena II - Lockheed Martin Space Systems
- Atlas V - United Launch Alliance (ULA)
- Delta II - United Launch Alliance (ULA) [limited to 5 - 3 already assigned] 
- Falcon 1 - SpaceX
- Falcon 9 - SpaceX
- Pegasus XL - Orbital Sciences Corporation (OSC)
- Taurus XL - Orbital Sciences Corporation (OSC)
For NASA polices governing launch services, see NASA - Launch Services Policies.
LSP provides general information regarding the launch vehicle performance available via existing NASA contracts at the following link:
NASA LSP Launch Vehicle Performance Web Site
The schedule below includes only Launch Services Program (LSP) primary and advisory missions. See NASA Launch Schedule for the most up to date schedule of all NASA launches. The NASA KSC News Releases will also have updates on LSP launches and mission accomplishments. NASA Launch Services Manifest will show all missions on the manifest.
|NET||No Earlier Than (Tentative)|
|+||LSP Advisory Mission|
Follow the Launch Services Program using the following links
- NASA's Launch Services Program on Facebook
- NASA's Launch Services Program on Twitter
- KSC Video and Photo Search (you can search for "Launch Services Program" or for specific missions)
- NASA's Launch Services Program Videos
- NASA's Launch Services Program on YouTube
- Launch Blogs
- NASA Social - LSP participated in NASA Socials for Juno, GRAIL, NPP, MSL, KSC 50th/MSL Landing, and RBSP. NASA Socials were formerly known as Tweetups.
- Social Media accounts for NASA Spacecraft (launched by NASA LSP)
- NASA Social Wiki
- NASA's Launch Services Program Educational Outreach (Teachers, info on requesting educational materials is here)
- NASA's Kennedy Space Center on Facebook
- NASA's Kennedy Space Center on Twitter
- NASA's Kennedy Space Center on YouTube
- NASA App Center (for Android, iPhone, and iPad)
NASA Articles on LSP
- Launches Test Flight Design Teams
- Weather Forecasters Balance Experience with Technology
- Aiming for an Open Window
- Remote Launch Locations Challenge Telemetry and Communications Group
- CSI: NASA [LSP discusses how the Failure Analysis and Materials Evaluation Lab assists the program]
- LSP Supports Students in FIRST Robotics Competitions (Team 1592)
NASA and the Launch Services Program are partnering with several universities to launch small research satellites. These small satellites are called CubeSats. CubeSats were first included on the launch of LSP missions in 2011.
- CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI)
- NASA CubeSat Selections
- ELaNa: Educational Launch of Nanosatellites
- ELaNA-1: CubeSat ELaNa Launch on Glory Mission
- ELaNA-3: CubeSat ELaNa III Launch on NPP Mission
- The ELaNA-6 manifest launched on the NROL-36 Atlas 401 on September 13, 2012.
Members of the Launch Services Program perform research relating to launching unmanned NASA spacecraft.
- Acquisition of Long-Duration, Low-Gravity Slosh Data Utilizing Existing ISS Equipment (SPHERES) for Calibration of CFD Models of Coupled Fluid-Vehicle Behavior
- A Geometric Analysis to Protect Manned Assets from Newly Launched Objects - Cola Gap Analysis
- Assessing Upper-level Winds on Day-of-Launch (by NASA Applied Meteorology Unit)
|+||LSP Advisory Mission|
Mars Exploration Rovers (MER-A & B) (Delta II)
NASA’s Mars Exploration Rovers launched aboard Delta II vehicles from CCAFS. MER-A “Spirit” launched June 2003, and MER-B “Opportunity” launched July 7 that same year. Both rovers reached Mars in January 2004. Information sent back to Earth from the rovers revealed the existence of water in the Red Planet’s past (now ice). Previous missions to Mars include the 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft that launched in 2001.
The Mars Pathfinder began its journey as NASA’s first return to Mars after the Viking mission began with the launch of the Mars Global Surveyor in 1996, scheduled to last two years. The Surveyor traveled to the Red Planet and spent about two years mapping the Martian surface to achieve a global portrait then continued to work, so NASA extended its mission and used it as a communications satellite to relay data from the Mars Odyssey as well as the Spirit and Opportunity twins back to Earth.
Kepler, Deep Impact, MESSENGER (Delta II)
The Kepler mission, the 10th in NASA’s Discovery missions, launched on a Delta II rocket, in 2009. The Kepler telescope was specifically designed to survey a portion of the region of the Milky Way galaxy for about three and a half years to discover dozens of Earth-size planets in or near the habitable zone and determine how many of the billions of stars in the galaxy have such planets. The mission could be extended to six years.
The Deep Impact mission launched in 2005 and reached Comet Tempel 1 in July 2005. The “fly-by” spacecraft collected images of the comet before its “impactor” spacecraft reached the comet, and after the impact to study the pristine interior of one of its craters.
NASA’s Mercury Surface, Space, Environment, Geochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft launched aboard a Delta II rocket in August 2004. The spacecraft made the 4.9-billion-mile trek to Mercury, with 15 trips around the sun and flybys of the Earth and Venus along the way. The spacecraft reached Mercury in 2008, with flybys of that planet in January and October, and again in September 2009. MESSENGER is only the second spacecraft sent to Mercury, but the first one to orbit Mercury.
New Horizons (Atlas V)
In 2006, NASA dispatched an ambassador to the planetary frontier. The New Horizons spacecraft is now halfway between Earth and Pluto, on approach for a dramatic flight past the icy planet and its moons in July 2015. After 10 years and more than 3 billion miles, on a historic voyage that has already taken it over the storms and around the moons of Jupiter, New Horizons will shed light on new kinds of worlds we’ve only just discovered on the outskirts of the solar system.
Pluto gets closer by the day, and New Horizons continues into rare territory, as just the fifth probe to traverse interplanetary space so far from the Sun. And the first to travel so far, to reach a new planet for exploration.
GOES and TDRS Fleet of Satellites (Atlas II)
NASA used the Atlas II to launch the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) weather satellites, and some of the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) communications series of satellites into orbit. GOES-M lifted off in 2001 aboard an Atlas IIA. It was the fifth spacecraft to be launched in the current advanced series of environmental satellites for NOAA and the first to have a solar X-ray imager. The most recent TDRS launch was in January 2013 (TDRS-K) from CCAFS.
Kodiak Star (Athena I) & Lunar Prospector (Athena II)
The Athena I vehicle carried NASA’s Kodiak Star mission into orbit Sept. 29, 2001, from the Kodiak Launch Complex in Alaska. NASA’s Starshine 3 and three U.S. Department of Defense satellites were launched into different orbits. Starshine 3 provided data on satellite orbit decay.
Terra (Atlas IIAS)
NASA launched the Earth Observing System’s flagship satellite “Terra,” named for Earth, in 1999. Terra has been collecting data about Earth’s changing climate. Terra carries five state-of-the-art sensors that have been studying the interactions among the Earth’s atmosphere, lands, oceans, and radiant energy. Each sensor has unique design features that will enable scientists to meet a wide range of science objectives.
Stardust, Genesis (Delta II)
On Feb. 7, 1999, a Delta II launched from Launch Complex 17-A at CCAFS carrying the Stardust spacecraft. Stardust collected comet dust and volatile samples during a planned close encounter with the comet Wild 2 in January 2004. Stardust also collected samples of interstellar dust, including the recently discovered dust streaming into our Solar System. This launch was unusual in that it was the first U.S. mission dedicated solely to the study of a comet.
NASA’s Genesis spacecraft launched aboard a Delta II Aug. 8, 2001, from Launch Complex 17-A at CCAFS. Genesis collected samples of solar wind — invisible, charged particles that flow outward from the Sun. The particles will be studied by scientists to search for answers to fundamental questions about the exact composition of our star and the birth of our Solar System.
Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) (Atlas IIAS)
The SOHO spacecraft, a joint venture between NASA and the European Space Agency, was launched aboard an Atlas IIAS Dec. 2, 1995, from Space Launch Complex 36 at CCAFS. The SOHO spacecraft, which was launched Dec. 2, 1995, aboard an Atlas rocket, gathered data to study the internal structure of the Sun, its extensive outer atmosphere and the origin of solar wind, as well as the stream of highly ionized gas that blows continuously through the Solar System. The information SOHO provided helped scientists better understand the interactions between the Sun and the Earth’s environment.
LSP Community Involvement
These teams receive sponsorship from NASA's Launch Services Program. Additionally, some of the lead mentors are employees of LSP. Below are the team media pages and NASA articles on the teams.
FIRST Robotics: Team 1592 - Bionic Tigers
- FIRST Robotics Team 1592 - The Bionic Tigers website
- FIRST Robotics Team 1592 - The Bionic Tigers Facebook page
- LSP Supports Students in FIRST Robotics Competitions (Team 1592)
- Students strive for FIRST at Competition 2010.04.08
- Competition Heats Up for Kennedy's FIRST Robotics Teams 2011.04.01
- Local Teams Win Zero Robotics, FIRST Competitions 2012.03.23
- Crash Forces Robotic Rebuild for Competition (FIRST Robotics Orlando Regional 2013) 2013.03.13
CubeSat: Merritt Island High School StangSat
- Merritt Island High School CubeSat Facebook page
- Students to Design Tiny Satellite for Future Launch Services Program Mission 2011.06.27
- NASA Announces Fourth Round of CubeSat Space Mission Candidates 2013.02.26
- CubeSat Launch Tests Satellite Innovations 2013.06.12
- CubeSat Demo Flight Tests Technologies (video) 2013.06.18
- Atlas V
- Delta II
- Delta IV
- Lockheed Martin
- United Space Alliance
- Commercial Spaceflight Federation
- Kennedy Resource Encyclopedia (includes some of the Technical Capabilities and Services and Facilities associated with LSP)
- United Launch Alliance site Launch Provider
- Space X site Launch Provider
- Orbital site Launch Provider
- Lockheed Martin: Space Systems Launch Provider
- Space Flight Now Provides Space News including Launch Coverage
- "LSP". NASA. 2007. Retrieved April 1, 2011.
- "Chronology of NASA Expendable Vehicle Missions Since 1990".
- "NASA LSP Launch Vehicle Archives".