NSS Phoenix Space News

Archive for August, 2010

August 2010

Posted by drdave on August 6, 2010

31 August 2010

  • NASA fired the five-segment DM-2 solid rocket motor that was scheduled to be the first stage of the ill-fated Ares I rocket.

30 August 2010

  • The liquid apogee engine (LAE) of the US Air Force Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellite failed prematurely. The $2 billion spacecraft will now have to rely on several thruster systems to try and reach its planned geosynchronous orbit.

29 August 2010

28 August 2010

27 August 2010

  • A team of scientists at the University of Arizona will build a color stereo camera for the 2016 Europeans Space Agency Mars orbiter mission (ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter). The purpose is to study the source topography and geology of regions where gases are being released that may be related to life.
  • The European Space Agency (ESA) has released new images of Orcus Patera, an enigmatic elliptical depression near Mars’s equator. Orcus Patera is located between the volcanoes of Elysium Mons and Olympus Monsi, in the eastern hemisphere of the planet. There are several possibilities for its formation, but a low angle (5 degrees) impact by a large body is most likely.

26 August 2010

  • NASA’s Kepler spacecraft has discovered the first confirmed planetary system with more than one planet crossing in front of, or transiting, the same star.
  • JPL has released a striking image of the Martian atmosphere. The Mars Climate Sounder instrument on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is mapping the vertical distribution of temperatures, dust, water vapor and ice clouds in the Martian atmosphere as it flies a near-polar orbit.

25 August 2010

  • Astronomers using ESO’s world-leading HARPS instrument have discovered a planetary system containing at least five planets, orbiting the Sun-like star HD 10180. The researchers also have tantalising evidence that two other planets may be present, one of which would have the lowest mass ever found. This would make the system similar to our Solar System in terms of the number of planets (seven as compared to the Solar System’s eight planets).
  • Working with federal economic stimulus funds under NASA’s Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) project, Paragon Space Development Corp. of Tucson, Ariz., passed the milestone with its Commercial Crew Transport Air Revitalization System.

24 August 2010

  • The last big science experiment to launch aboard the Space Shuttle has arrived at the Kennedy Space Center. The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer will soak up cosmic rays to detect nearly indistinguishable aberrations originating in the deep universe, potentially uncovering the origin of dark matter.
  • China has launched another new satellite – the TH-1 Tian Hui-1 – on August 24, using a CZ-2D Chang Zheng-2D (Long March 2D) launch vehicle from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

23 August 2010

  • Japanese amateur astronomer Masayuki Tachikawa caught the possible fireball event on Jupiter in a video at 18:22 UT on 20 August. I appeared as a brief, two second, brightening near the north edge of Jupiter’s Northern Equatorial Belt.

22 August 2010

  • Discovery’s External Tank (ET-137), along with ET-138 and the yet-to-be-shipped ET-122 – currently set to fly with STS-335/135) – are to undergo X-ray inspections, following an investigation into a washer that was found inside ET-138′s LO2/LOX Feedline.

21 August 2010

  • The Mars Hoax… Drinks Are On Me! Mark Thompson at Discovery.Com discusses the 2003 NASA news release that lead to the infamous email. “Every year, as regular as clockwork, ‘that’ email does the rounds. But no, Mars won’t be as big as the moon in the sky on Aug. 27.”

20 August 2010

  • Amateur astronomy lost one its most iconic figures today. Jack Horkheimer, known to millions as public television’s ebullient “Star Gazer,” died this afternoon at age 72.
  • The Moon is Shrinking.
  • Atlantis has gained one final mission, flying STS-135 to the International Space Station (ISS), with a launch date targeting June 28, 2011.
  • Space-X successfully tested its Dragon space capsule. A helicopter released the capsule at an altitude of 14,000 feet and the craft deployed two drogue parachutes for stability. Then three orange and white main parachutes unfurled to a diameter of 116 feet each. The dummy capsule was recovered by boat and returned to shore, according to SpaceX.

19 August 2010

  • The Planetary Society has sent a letter to the Chairs and Ranking Minority Members of the four subcommittees currently considering the NASA budget and the Administration’s plan for human space exploration. The letter states: “We are concerned about omissions and a lack of coherence in the four committees’ versions of this bill.”
  • The International Space Station closed in on the full recovery of internal systems on Aug. 18, including the reactivation of power to science experiments, following a serious malfunction of the external cooling system on July 31.
  • The left rear landing gear on Virgin Galactic’s WhiteKnight Two failed during a test flight in the Mojave desert 19 August.

18 August 2010

17 August 2010

  • China says it has completed assembling the first module for its space station, and the country’s space agency hopes to launch it next year.

16 August 2010

  • NASA astronauts Doug Wheelock and Tracy Caldwell Dyson have installed the new Ammonia Pump on the International Space Station. Ground controllers have pronounced the pump healthy.
  • Stewart Money, at The Space Review, discusses the potential longevity of the Merlin 1c rocket engine, comparing it in its simplicity to the venerable Chevy short block.

15 August 2010

14 August 2010

  • An Atlas V has launched the first Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral at 11:07 UTC Today. It will provide communications for the armed forces of the US and its allies.
  • NASA has packed up Robonaut 2 for a trip aboard STS-133 to the International Space Station. It consists of a head, torso and two arms with five fingered hands. Robonaut 2 is designed to use tools like humans do, and eventually perform tasks outside the ISS.

13 August 2010

  • SETIcon unfolds this weekend at the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara hotel, located at 5101 Great America Parkway, Santa Clara, CA
  • National Research Council released its decadal survey for astronomy, which includes independent appraisals of the technical readiness of missions, their cost and a development schedule. The committee also suggested that an independent panel be appointed to reappraise priorities in astrophysics more frequently.

12 August 2010

  • Astronomers have found a new 100km diameter Trojan asteroid near Neptune. It is one of only six Trojan asteroids associated with Neptune, compare to several hundred thousand associated with Jupiter.

11 August 2010

  • ISS crewmembers Tracy Caldwell-Dyson and Doug Wheelock performed the second of now three planned EVAs to bring the Station’s cooling system back to full operating capacity following the failure of the Loop A ammonia Pump Module on July 31. The EVA was a big success. The failed pump has been removed and stored. The third EVA will install the new pump.
  • Jupiter may have swallowed a massive “super-Earth” early in its formation according to new simulations.

10 August 2010

  • China has launched a new remote sensing satellite on Tuesday, the sixth Chinese launch this year. YaoGan Weixing-10 was launched via a CZ-4C Chang Zheng-4C (Long March) launch vehicle at 06:49 local time on August 10 from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center.

9 August 2010

  • Sometime in the past 40 years, an object smashed into the Moon, digging out a new crater. LROC released a new image showing the crater, as well as an image from 1971 that was taken aboard Apollo 15, which does not show the crater.

8 August 2010

7 August 2010

  • NASA’s Doug Wheelock and Tracy Caldwell Dyson have completed their eventful opening EVA to change out a failed ammonia coolant Pump Module (PM) on the International Space Station’s (ISS) External Thermal Control System (ETCS) “Loop A”. Lasting eight hours and three minutes, the spacewalk will be followed by a second EVA next Wednesday.
  • A six-legged, 15-foot-tall robot that could one day visit Mars or the Moon spent Friday morning in a much less exotic location: the Hahamongna Watershed Park.

6 August 2010

  • The U.S. Senate passed a NASA authorization bill Aug. 5 that would add a space shuttle flight to the manifest next year and require the space agency to get started immediately on a heavy-lift rocket capable of supporting manned missions beyond low Earth orbit. The bill also authorizes funding for NASA’s proposed commercial crew initiative, but at a level below the agency’s request.
  • Aerojet’s successful Main Engine Injector Tests Provide Milestone for NASA’s Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle.

5 August 2010

  • Following a scrub-prone launch campaign in June, Arianespace have enjoyed first-time success with Wednesday’s launch of their Ariane 5 ECA vehicle – her third mission of the year. The workhorse has two telecommunication passengers – Nilesat-201 and RASCOM-QAF1R – and launched slightly after the start of the long launch window.
  • NASA and the European Space Agency have selected five instruments for a methane-sniffing Mars orbiter scheduled for launch in 2016, the first mission of a transatlantic partnership to reconnoiter the Red Planet.
  • NASA has delayed two spacewalks to fix a major cooling system failure on the International Space Station for the second time, pushing the start of the vital repairs to no earlier than Saturday.

4 August 2010

  • The Northern Lights are making a rare appearance overhead this week, thanks to a solar “burp” that occurred Sunday and has spewed particles into Earth’s atmosphere.
  • Despite hurtling along at 300,000 kilometres per second, sunlight still takes nearly 16 hours to reach Voyager 1, the most distant object ever made by humans.
  • Astronomers have generated a 3-D view at a famed exploding star to reveal how fast the powerful Supernova 1987A ejected material when it died.

3 August 2010

  • A stereo camera operated by the University of Arizona will be carried aboard a Mars orbiter in 2016 as part of a joint program by NASA and the European Space Agency to explore the Red Planet, the UA announced today.

2 August 2010

  • An interview with Wayne Hale, who is always enlightening.

1 August 2010

  • The International Space Station suffered a cooling system malfunction late Saturday that forced its astronaut crew to power down some vital systems while engineers on Earth study the problem.
  • China successfully launched its fifth orbiter into space at 5:30 a.m. Sunday, as a part of its indigenous satellite navigation and positioning network.

Posted in European Space Agency, International Space Station, JAXA, Jupiter, Mars, NASA, Solar System | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

July 2010

Posted by drdave on August 6, 2010

31 July 2010

  • If you want to see Venice while keeping your feet dry, don’t go when the sun has lots of spots. Peaks in solar activity cause the city to flood more often, apparently by changing the paths of storms over Europe.

30 July 2010

  • Ground control teams began sending out a beacon for Spirit on July 26, but the rover has not yet responded. In a press release on Friday, NASA put out the word that it may never wake. “It will be the miracle from Mars if our beloved rover phones home,” Doug McCuistion, director of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program.
  • The shuttle Endeavour’s three main engines were installed this week as workers prepare the ship’s two solid rocket boosters.

30 July 2010

  • Orbital Sciences Corp. will continue its work with NASA’s small rockets program as prime contractor on a $125 million, five year contract.
  • The Planetary Society has this to say about the NASA authorization bill in the House of Representatives: “the proposed bill abandons any significant investment in exploration technology, effectively eliminates the Administration’s approach for engaging the commercial sector, establishes a program of loan guarantees that the Administration did not request, and seeks to reinstate programs that have been determined to be unsustainable.”

29 July 2010

  • Popular Mechanics thinks NASA is being set up for failure: “NASA is being asked to do too much with too little by Congress, and, once again, America’s space agency is set up for failure. If this plan goes forward, it will preserve jobs in Utah, Alabama, Texas and Florida, but contribute little to actually accomplishing things in space. And we can expect to have to assemble another panel of experts a couple of years from now to tell us once again what we already know, and what Congress will continue to ignore, because pork will always reign over progress.”

28 July 2010

  • Astronomers expect to find a number of planets with cozy, Earth-like properties. Which is why the TED lecture by Dimitar Sasselov, a member of the planet-hunting Kepler space telescope’s science team, created such a furor. The latest to weigh in on the TED event on 16 July is The New Scientist article. Whether its 38 or 140, the withholding of data until February 2011 is causing a ruckus.
  • A rare specimen of massive stars that live fast and die young has been photographed by a European observatory in Chile.
    The blazing hot star is called WR 22 and is shedding its atmosphere many millions of times faster than our own sun in outward blasts that unleash powerful radiation emissions.

27 July 2010

  • Yuri Artsutanov and Jerome Pearson will appear at this year’s Space Elevator Conference, to be held in Redmond, Washington (August 12-15). Yuri is traveling all the way from St. Petersburg, Russia.
  • Russian astronauts have completed a space walk at the International Space Station using their new “smart suits”. They replaced a badly performing camera and hooked up the automated rendezvous equipment for autopilot dockings using the Russian KURS system on the new Rassvet module, delivered in May.
  • The August 2010 issue of Scientific America has Kepler Co-Investigator Dimitar Sasselov’s article Planets We Could Call Home. This is the gentleman who Spilled the Beans at TED.

26 July 2010

  • Kepler Co-Investigator Spills The Beans: Lots of Earth-like Planets. Harvard’s Dimitar Sasselov gave an address at TEDGlobal at Oxford this month, announcing the discovery by the Kepler observatory of “hundreds” of earth like planets. The video is at TED.
  • The first of three Glonass satellites has arrived at Baikonur in preparation for launch on 2 September 2010. The remaining two satellites will arrive in August, and mated to the DM upper stage and Proton rocket.
  • Prelaunch processing of the Progress M-07M cargo vehicle is underway by RSC-Energia. The Progress is scheduled to fly from Baikonur aboard a Soyuz-U rocket on 8 September 2010 on a resupply mission to the International space station.
  • Dextre, the special-purpose dexterous manipulator sometimes described as the hand for Canadarm2 on the International Space Station (ISS), is almost ready to begin serving as a backup for spacewalking astronauts and cosmonauts.

25 July 2010

  • Researchers poring over Google Earth images have discovered one of Earth’s freshest impact craters — a 45-meter-wide (148-foot-wide) pock in southwestern Egypt that probably was excavated by a fast-moving iron meteorite no more than a few thousand years ago.

24 July 2010

23 July 2010

  • Curiosity, the next Mars rover grows by leaps and bounds.
  • The best Mars map ever made is now available online for planetary scientists and armchair astronauts alike. And citizen scientists are invited to help make it even better.
  • More Curiosity news: the rover took its first steps Friday inside a clean room at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, kicking off a test campaign to prove the $2.3 billion robot can operate on the surface of Mars.

22 July 2010

21 July 2010

  • NASA reports that the spacecraft Cassini has observed the formation of giant snowballs in Saturn’s F ring. The gravitational pull of the moon Prometheus creates wake channels, which trigger the formation of the snowballs. Some are as large as 20 km in diameter.
  • Scientists have completed installation of the Mars Descent Imager, or MARDI, on the new Mars Rover Curiosity. MARDI will return images of the descent and landing of Curiosity in 2012.
  • Workers started assembling twin solid rocket boosters this week to help power Endeavour toward orbit in February on the final scheduled launch of the space shuttle program.

20 July 2010

  • Preliminary data from the European Space Agency’s CryoSat-2 spacecraft has been released. A better understanding of how Earth’s ice fields are changing has come another step closer.
  • Politicians on the House Science and Technology committee continue to cling to “the sunk cost fallacy” as they endorse efforts to keep the Constellation program on track, despite the legislation worked out last week between the Senate and the White House. Citing the $9 Billion already wasted on the Constellation program, committee leaders claimed that it was “imperative that … [NASA] builds on the investments made to date”.
  • This will warm the cockles of the hearts over at ATK: “It (the US solid rocket motor industry) is over capacity right now,” Brett Lambert said at the Farnborough Airshow on Monday, adding a consolidation was long overdue.

19 July 2010

  • Scientists at CalTech have obtained data from the Cassini spacecraft documenting the drop in the level of two lakes on Saturn’s moon Titan. The decline is about one meter per year for the past four years.
  • The DragonEye (DE) relative navigation sensor – set to ride with Discovery on STS-133 – will be installed two weeks later than planned, following a laser rod failure during testing. Discovery – currently enjoying a smooth processing flow – will be conducting the second test for the sensor during her arrival at the International Space Station (ISS) in November.

18 July 2010

  • Following on the recent fly-by of Lutetia by the Rosetta spacecraft, Emily Lakdawalla has a discussion over at The Planetary Society blog about how Lutetia compare to the other asteroids and comets visited by spacecraft.

17 July 2010

  • NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) observatory has just completed its first full sky survey. The first release of WISE data, covering about 80 percent of the sky, will be delivered to the astronomical community in May of next year.
  • WISE has also discovered 95 new Near Earth Asteroids.

16 July 2010

  • Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have confirmed the existence of a baked object that could be called a “cometary planet.” The gas giant planet, named HD 209458b, is orbiting so close to its star that its heated atmosphere is escaping into space.
  • The Senate Commerce Committee approved bipartisan legislation July 15 that authorizes NASA funding levels through 2013.

15 July 2010

  • Three research articles have been published from the third and final flyby of Mercury in September 2009 by Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and Ranging spacecraft (MESSENGER). Data from the final flyby has revealed the first observations of ion emissions in Mercury’s exosphere; new information about the planet’s magnetic substorms; and evidence of younger volcanic activity than previously recorded.

14 July 2010

  • Scientists at Penn State released information on a blast of the brightest X-rays ever detected from beyond our Milky Way. The X-Ray burst temporarily blinded the eye on NASA’s Swift space observatory earlier this summer. The burst was 168 times brighter than the typical burst and five times brighter than anything previously seen.
  • The South Pole-Aitken (SPA) basin is the largest and oldest recognized impact basin on the moon. It’s diameter is roughly 2,500 km or 1,550 miles. The moon’s circumference is just under 11,000 km, meaning the basin stretches across nearly a quarter of the moon.

13 July 2010

  • The wheels on Curiosity that will touch down on Mars in 2012 are several rotations closer to spinning on the rocky trails of Mars. This video clip shows engineers in the JPL clean room where the rover is being assembled as they put all six wheels into motion for the first time.
  • Japan’s Kaguya spacecraft first photographed the enormous caverns last year. Now the powerful Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC, the same camera that photographed Apollo landers and astronauts’ tracks in the moondust) is giving us enticing high-resolution images of the caverns’ entrances and their surroundings.

12 July 2010

  • India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C15) successfully launches CARTOSAT – 2B Satellite
  • A total solar eclipse arced across the southern Pacific Ocean Sunday, blotting out the sun and offering stunning views to skywatchers.

11 July 2010

  • Movie” of the encounter between Rosetta and the asteroid Lutetia.

10 July 2010

  • Rosetta has completed her fly-by of Lutetia. Close up images should arrive about 21:00 UTC.
  • International Launch Services (ILS) have launched the EchoStar XV telecommunications satellite via their veteran Proton-M launch vehicle and Breeze-M upper stage.

9 July 2010

  • The place to be for the upcoming Sunday solar eclipse is French Polynesia (between 7:00 am and 10:30 am local time – 1700 and 2030 GMT). Come to think of it, the place to be has always been French Polynesia.

8 July 2010

  • The International Space Station (ISS) may live on until 2028, following confirmation by the Space Station Program Control Board (SSPCB) that partner agencies have been asked to produce an extension blueprint for continued operation until 2025, with the potential to push as far as 2028.
  • Rocketplane Global has filed for bankruptcy. It had been working on a suborbital rocket-jet hybrid plane that would have lofted paying passengers above the 62-mile (100-kilometer) altitude mark.
  • JAXA had the following announcement on the HAYABUSA main web page: “This summer, we are exhibiting a part of the capsule of the Asteroid Explorer “HAYABUSA,” which returned to the Earth on June 13, and other interesting things at the Sagamihara City Museum, JAXA Tsukuba Space Center, and at the OO square on the first floor of Marunouchi Oazo Building. Why don’t you come and witness the real capsule that came back to the Earth after seven years in space!”

7 July 2010

  • Puff the Magic Dragon?
  • The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said Wednesday it has found several dozen additional particles in a container inside a tiny capsule that the Hayabusa unmanned space probe released in June after a seven-year round-trip to the asteroid Itokawa. Results of analyses will probably not come until September.

6 July 2010

  • From the JAXA Hayabusa website: “Minute particles were confirmed in the sample container of the HAYABUSA, whose unpacking operation was started on June 24 (JST) at the Curation Center at the Sagamihara Campus. We are still unsure if those particles are something from the ITOKAWA or from the Earth, thus we will further examine them”.

5 July 2010

  • SpaceDaily.com is reporting that Japanese scientists have found “minute particles” inside the Hayabusa return capsule. The JAXA web site for Hayabusa has not yet posted the press release concerning this announcement.

4 July 2010

  • Following an aborted docking maneuver on Friday, the Progress M-06M resupply spacecraft completed its docking program this morning at 16:17 UTC.

3 July 2010

  • NASA and Shuttle managers have devised a forward plan to complete the mandatory Wing Leading Edge (WLE) Spar inspections on Atlantis – one of only a few mandatory safety inspections required for Atlantis before she can be cleared for flight next year.

2 July 2010

  • The Russian Progress resupply mission to the ISS experienced technical difficulties and failed to dock. A second attempt is tentatively scheduled for Sunday at 9:17 AM Phoenix time (1617 GMT).
  • New Horizons successfully executed a June 30 thruster-firing, which lasted 35.6 seconds just about one mile per hour. This will make sure that New Horizons makes its planned closest approach 7,767 miles (12,500 kilometers) above Pluto at 7:49 a.m. EDT on July 14, 2015.
  • NASA astronaut Douglas Wheelock snapped this picture of auroral lights as seen from the International Space Station.

1 July 2010

  • As has been expected for many weeks, NASA managers have approved the Change Requests (CR) for the launch dates of the next two shuttle missions. With STS-133 moving to November 1, STS-134 is targeting February 26 – although the threat of the program running out of funding may force Endeavour’s launch up by a week or so. A decision on adding STS-135 also appears to be no closer.
  • The Russian space freighter Progress M-06M will dock with ISS as scheduled

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June 2010

Posted by drdave on August 6, 2010

30 June 2010

  • John M Logsdon argues that Obama’s budget for NASA is attempting to finally end the Apollo Era and move us into a sustainable 21st century space program.
  • The Mollohan opening statement (pdf) to the 2011 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations, Subcommittee Bill covering NASA’s FY 2011 budget contains this note: “The program of record is fiscally unsustainable and will not serve the purpose of preserving this Nation’s leadership role in space exploration”. All this comes amidst criticism of President Obama’s attempt to redirect our National Space Policy.

29 June 2010

  • NASA is seeking an innovative path for human space exploration that strengthens its capability to extend human and robotic presence throughout the solar system. The information also may help lay the groundwork for humans to safely reach multiple potential destinations, including asteroids, Lagrange points, the moon and Mars. The total funding available under this announcement is approximately $8 million; maximum individual contract award is $625,000. The deadline for submitting proposals is July 29, 2010.

28 June 2010

27 June 2010

  • At 3:03 PM Phoenix time today, the Deep Impact spacecraft will pass 18,890 miles above the South Atlantic with a relative speed of 12,750 mph. The fly-by will be the final adjustment to the EPOXI (Deep Impact Extended Investigation) on its way to comet Hartley 2. On 4 July 2005, it sent an instrumented smart bomb into Comet Tempel 1, excavating the ancient materials buried inside the nucleus for scientists to examine.

26 June 2010

  • Third Time’s the Charm for Ariane V / Arabsat-5A and COMS launch.
  • The COMS satellite represents Korea’s first Geo Stationary Orbit (GSO) satellite.

25 June 2010

  • The Asia Sentinal reports that Hayabasa’s return capsule had arrived at JAXA’s laboratory in Kanagawa prefecture. Preliminary X-rays of the insides were not optimistic that it had collected enough asteroid material for serious analysis. Scientists did measure a small amount of gas inside the cylinder.

24 June 2010

23 June 2010

  • The BBC reports that JAXA has begun opening the return capsule from Hayabusa.
  • A pressure anomaly in the first stage of ESA’s Ariane V rocket scrubbed the Arabsat 5A and COMS launch 17 seconds before ignition.

22 June 2010

  • From Spaceflight Now.com: NASA managers Tuesday asked shuttle engineers to assess retargeting the final two space shuttle missions, moving launch of a mid-September flight with Discovery to Oct. 29 and a late November flight by Endeavour to Feb. 28. The changes would give engineers more time to optimize payloads bound for the International Space Station and avoid launch conflicts with other flights to the lab complex.
  • A new sentry is on guard atop the Haleakala volcano in Hawaii, scanning the skies for potentially threatening asteroids and comets.

21 June 2010

  • Russia’s RS-20B rocketlaunched Germany’s TanDEM-X satellite, designed to generate a consistent, highly-accurate global digital elevation model.
  • The latest information on viewing Comet McNaught.

20 June 2010

  • The Hayabusa return capsule arrived in Japan.

19 June 2010

18 June 2010

17 June 2010

  • The Russian Soyuz TMA-19 successfully docked with the International Space Station at 22:21 UTC, 222 miles above the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Argentina.
  • The space capsule from the Hayabusa mission has left Australia and begun its journey to Japan.

16 June 2010

  • Following on the heels of the successful launch of the Falcon-9 last week, Space-X has captured the lion’s share of the Iridium launch services market. Space-X has inked a $492 million deal to launch a new fleet of Iridium mobile communications satellites beginning in 2015.
  • Processing of Discovery (STS-133) proceeds as expected. Installation of the three SSMEs took around two days, starting with Engine 1, followed by Engine 3 and Engine 2. Other processing also took place at the same time as engineers worked on Discovery’s aft. The repair of the RH (Right Hand OMS) pod continues on schedule at the HMF (Hypergolic Maintenance Facility).

15 June 2010

  • Russia launched their Soyuz-FG rocket with three astronauts aboard heading for the International Space Station.
  • A Dnepr rocket carried three satellites into orbit: The French Picard satellite and the Swedish satellites Tango and Mango.

14 June 2010

  • JAXA has recovered the Hayabusa re-entry capsule and found both the front and back shells from the heat shield.
  • China successfully launched their Shijian 12 research satellite.

13 June 2010

  • The re-entry capsule from Hayabusa returned safely to Earth near Woomera, Australia on time and on target. The fireball was spectacular.
  • The roll-out of the Russian Soyuz rocket and manned space capsule has begun at the Baikonur space center in central Kazakhstan. Soyuz is scheduled for launch at 14:35 Phoenix time, Tuesday, 15 June.

12 June 2010

  • The re-entry capsule from the Hayabusa spacecraft is due back on 13 June at 6:51 AM Phoenix time (13:51 (UTC), creating a fireball over Western Australia.

11 June 2010

  • The UK Space Agency is announcing £10.5M for the development of instruments to search for signs of past or present life on Mars. The instruments are part of the scientific payload on the ExoMars rover to be launched in 2018 as part of a joint mission between the European Space Agency (ESA) and US space agency NASA.
  • Science Online Abstract: Oort cloud comets are currently believed to have formed in the Sun’s protoplanetary disk and to have been ejected to large heliocentric orbits by the giant planets. Detailed models of this process fail to reproduce all of the available observational constraints, however. In particular, the Oort cloud appears to be substantially more populous than the models predict. Here, we present numerical simulations that show that the Sun captured comets from other stars while it was in its birth cluster. Our results imply that a substantial fraction of the Oort cloud comets, perhaps exceeding 90%, are from the protoplanetary disks of other stars.
  • From JAXA: The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) began to deploy the solar sail of the Small Solar Power Sail Demonstrator “IKAROS” on June 3 (Japan Standard Time). On June 10 (JST,) we have confirmed that it was successfully expanded and was generating power through its thin film solar cells at about 770 km from the Earth.

10 June 2010

  • The Korea Space Launch Vehicle, or KSLV 1, blasted off from the Naro Space Center at 0801 GMT (4:01 a.m. EDT), and apparently exploded 137 seconds later.
  • NASA has dispatched a jet filled with scientists to Australia ahead of the long-awaited return of a Japanese asteroid probe, which began its final approach to Earth Wednesday.

9 June 2010

  • South Korea launched its satellite.
  • A NASA flying observatory has left California on a mission to track a Japanese asteroid-sampling spacecraft as it returns to Earth on a course for Australia.
    NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center says its DC-8 airborne lab left Palmdale Tuesday evening, carrying scientists from the U.S. and Japanese space agencies and other organizations. The group will study the meteor-like plunge of the Hayabusa spacecraft, which visited the asteroid Itokawa during a seven-year mission and is carrying a capsule that may contain a sample from the space rock.
  • Japan deploys the IKAROS Solar Sail.

8 June 2010

  • STS-135 is being considered for June of 2011.
  • The C/2009 R1 comet is nearing the Earth and will be visible in the Northern hemisphere with a naked eye in mid-June, NASA said on its website.

7 June 2010

  • Reaction to the successful flight of the Falcon-9.

6 June 2010

  • UFO nuts had a field day in Australia when the second stage of the Falcon rocket passed overhead at dawn 60 minutes after launch. Watch the video.
  • Orion’s role of transporting US astronauts into space has been reduced to little more than an assumption it may one day be involved in human space exploration, after contractor Lockheed Martin effectively washed its hands of the project due to fears relating to termination liability.
  • From the Alamogordo News: On June 1, 1921, Goddard performed an early experiment with liquid fuel, said the Web site astronautix.com. It was, the Web site history.nasa.gov said, one of many such tests from 1920-22, with Goddard experimenting with “liquid oxygen and various liquid hydrocarbons, including gasoline and liquid propane, as well as ether, as rocket fuel.”

5 June 2010

  • The Hylas communications satellite has completed thermal-vacuum testing in Bangalore, India. Final testing is underway, and the spacecraft will be shipped to Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana in August. Hyals will target the high demand for broadband services in Europe that cannot be met by terrestrial networks. It will provide capacity to serve hundreds of thousands of Internet users and broadcast up to 30 standard or 15 high-definition TV channels.
  • Earth and space are about to come into contact in a way that’s new to human history. Many technologies of the 21st century are vulnerable to solar storms, and in the next few years we expect to see much higher levels of solar activity.

4 June 2010

  • Space-X successfully launched their first Falcon-9. The first stage performed nominally. A bonus was the separation and operation of the second stage, which placed a boilerplate Dragon spacecraft in orbit.
  • SpaceX is set to attempt the initial launch of the Falcon 9 beginning at 8:00 AM Phoenix time this morning.

3 June 2010

  • International Launch Systems (ILS) launched the BADR-5 (Arabsat-5) Communications satellite aboard a Proton-M rocket.
  • A mineral-scouting instrument developed at ASU’s Mars Space Flight Facility has found an outcrop of rock rich in carbonate minerals in the Columbia Hills of Gusev Crater on Mars, according to a report published online June 3 in the journal Science.
  • SpaceX ‘Go’ for Falcon 9 Launch Attempt

2 June 2010

  • A full-scale model of the James Webb Space Telescope was built by the prime contractor, Northrop Grumman, to provide a better understanding of the size, scale and complexity of this satellite. The model is constructed mainly of aluminum and steel, weighs 12,000 lb., and is approximately 80 feet long, 40 feet wide and 40 feet tall. This Flickr set shows the construction of the full-scale model at Battery Park, NYC for the World Science Festival, May 30, 2010.
  • China launched a new navigation satellite on Wednesday, using a CZ-3C Chang Zheng-3C (CZ3C-4/Y4) launch vehicle from the Xi Chang satellite Launch Center, in Sichuan Province.
  • Astronauts land safely in Kazakhstan after mission.

1 June 2010

  • In a truly transformative event, physicists have for the first time found direct evidence that a neutrino, a ghostly elementary particle that barely interacts with matter, morphs from one type into another.
  • The Russian Soyuz spacecraft TMA-17 undocked from the International Space Station late Tuesday and is headed back to Earth with three veteran spaceflyers eager to return home after nearly six months in orbit.
  • More news and comments on VASIMR. Can it result in a 39 day trip to Mars?

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May 2010

Posted by drdave on August 6, 2010

31 May 2010

  • Japan’s asteroid visiting, highly crippled, out of fuel spacecraft Hayabusa is on track for landing in two weeks. Launched from Japan in 2003, Hayabusa spent three months exploring asteroid Itokawa in late 2005.
  • With manifest meetings set to take place in the next couple of weeks, Discovery continues to be deep in processing for her upcoming STS-133 mission. Program managers are working on confirming a mission extension by three days – with two EVAs added. Processing on Discovery is now concentrating on the repair of the helium valve. The entire Right Hand OMS (Orbital Maneuvering System) Pod will soon to be demated from Discovery for repairs at the Hypergolic Maintenance Facility (HMF).

30 May 2010

29 May 2010

  • NASA’s Deep Impact/Epoxi spacecraft has successfully performed a trajectory correction maneuver to refine its orbit prior to an upcoming Earth flyby June 27. The maneuver, along with the Earth flyby, will place the spacecraft on a trajectory to fly past comet Hartley 2 on Nov. 4.
  • The first flight of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is now being targeted for launch no earlier than Friday, 4 June 2010. The window for the test flight, which had been slated for Wednesday or Thursday, remains 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

28 May 2010

  • The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) aboard a Boeing 747 has snapped its first in-flight images of the night sky.
  • Scientists at NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., have determined that a small object that safely passed Earth on May 21 is more than likely an upper-stage of a rocket that carried a spacecraft on an interplanetary trajectory.

27 May 2010

  • The oft postponed launch of the GPS IIF SV-1 satellite finally got off the ground. Following several scrubbed attempts, the United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Delta IV launched from Cape Canaveral at the start of a 19 minute window that had opened at 11pm Eastern.
  • NASA engineers have fully revived the far-flung Voyager 2 probe on the edge of the solar system after fixing a computer glitch that scrambled its messages home for nearly three weeks.
  • A sleek aircraft called the X-51A WaveRider has set the record for the longest hypersonic flight using an air-breathing “scramjet” engine. The engine operated for about 150 seconds

26 May 2010

  • Shuttle Atlantis managed to dodge unacceptable weather at the Kennedy Space Center, landing gracefully during the first of the two opportunities.
  • Masten Space Re-Lights Rocket Engine in Flight. Xombie, Masten’s most-flown vehicle, carried out the test Wednesday and became the first VTVL vehicle to successfully re-light a rocket engine in flight.
  • NASA has reassigned Jeff Hanley, the Constellation program manger. After 5 years and 10 $Billion with nothing to show for its efforts, the Obama administration wants to kill Constellation. What went wrong for Constellation? See here. It failed because of politics.

25 May 2010

  • NASA has declared the Phoenix Mars Lander mission ended.
  • Scrubbed – The United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV launch vehicle – set to loft the GPS IIF SV-1 spacecraft into orbit – has suffered from a pad abort at around T-7 seconds, caused by a data anomaly in one of the SRB Thrust Vector Control (TVC) systems.
  • Space shuttle Atlantis and its six-member crew are expected to return to Earth on Wednesday, May 26, after a 12-day mission.

24 May 2010

  • Ceres is the only “dwarf planet” (by modern designation) easily visible to amateurs. In February 2015, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft takes up orbit around Ceres and will begin imaging its unknown landscape in detail. Due to its high water content, Ceres could become the “gas station” for Solar System exploration and exploitation/
  • NASA has set the target launch date for the Mars Science Laboratory next fall, but the Curiosity rover’s landing site is still being debated by a team of researchers walking a tightrope between science and safety.

23 May 2010

  • The Space Shuttle Atlantis has undocked from the International Space Station for the last time.
  • The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) acquired the signal transmitted from the IKAROS at the Usuda Deep Space Station and confirmed its solar power generation and stable posture, and established communications.

22 May 2010

  • Japan’s Akatsuki Venus atmospheric probe is en route to its target planet after launching on an H-IIA F17 rocket from the Tanegashima Space Center in Southeast Japan early on May 21 local time.
  • After a five month hiatus, an Ariane V rocket was launched from the French Guiana launch pad at 2201 GMT (6:01 p.m. EDT) Friday. The 12,063-pound ASTRA 3B television broadcasting satellite was released from the second stage about 33 minutes after liftoff.

21 May 2010

20 May 2010

  • Scaled Composites has successfully pressurized and powered up Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo (SS2) from the WhiteKnightTwo (WK2) carrier aircraft in flight for the first time. The milestone was achieved on the second captive-carry test flight, which took the vehicle to its planned launch altitude at around 51,000 ft.
  • The Opportunity rover broke a 28-year-old Mars duration record Thursday, surpassing the Viking 1 lander to become the longest-lived spacecraft to ever operate on the Red Planet, at least until the identical Spirit rover awakes from a winter snooze.

19 May 2010

  • The Japanese space agency is preparing to launch the IKAROS satellite (Interplanetary Kite-craft Accelerated by Radiation of the Sun), which will piggyback on the launch of a Venus climate orbiter. They are scheduled for a May 20 liftoff at 2:58 PM Phoenix time (5:58 EST), according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
  • Recent speculation concerning the Air Force X-37B.
  • STS-132: Space-walkers are installing new batteries and free a snagged cable on the International Space Station.

18 May 2010

  • Russia’s Mini Research Module-1 (MRM-1) “Rassvet” has been successfully docked and installed on to the Russian segment of the International Space Station (ISS). Meanwhile, the Mission Management Team (MMT) are close to clearing Atlantis’ Thermal Protection System (TPS) for Entry, after additional imagery of her Port Wing was acquired during EVA-1.

17 May 2010

  • The Japanese Space Agency JAXA were preparing to launch the Venus Climate Orbiter “AKATSUKI” and the Small Solar Power Sail Demonstrator “IKAROS” – along with several university-developed secondary payloads – via their H-IIA Launch Vehicle. However, launch from the Tanegashima Space Center (TNSC) – scheduled for 21:44 GMT – was scrubbed due to unacceptable weather.

16 May 2010

  • The space shuttle Atlantis docked with the International Space Station as planned Sunday morning. Atlantis docked with the Harmony node of the station at 10:28 am EDT (1428 GMT) and hatches separating the shuttle and station opened nearly two hours later.
  • Europe’s second robotic space cargo vessel (Kepler) is headed for its South American launch site in preparation for a delivery mission to the International Space Station (ISS) later this year. The Automated Transfer Vehicle 2, or ATV-2, a cargo ship built by the European Space Agency (ESA), is slated to launch toward the station in December.

15 May 2010

14 May 2010

13 May 2010

  • On an interview with NPR, Commander Ken Ham says his crew is calling this mission “the first last flight of Atlantis. And I think that’s appropriate. Because we really don’t know what she’s going to do next.” Atlantis is supposed to be the first shuttle in the aging fleet to stop flying. During its planned final mission, the shuttle will carry up a Russian-built research lab that’s part of NASA’s collaboration with other countries to construct the international space station. NASA administrator Charlie Bolden testified at a Senate hearing this week that another flight could help supply the space station with spare parts and other essentials that will be harder to bring up after the shuttles no longer fly.
  • High flying observatory: Sofia will cruise at altitudes up to 45,000 ft., above 95% of the atmosphere’s infrared-absorbing water vapor, and it is expected to provide astronomers with 1,000 science observation flight hours per year for at least 20 years.
  • A new report on the state of NASA laboratories was based on NRC review of six key centers including Marshall. Upgrade the labs, reviewers told NASA, or risk not being able to do the basic research that has made NASA what it is today.
  • A giant cloud belt in the southern half of Jupiter has apparently disappeared according to new photos of the planet taken by amateur astronomers.

12 May 2010

  • Space Shuttle Atlantis will lift off on Friday evening with an important hardware delivery from Europe to the International Space Station: spare portions of the European Robotic Arm and the first Russian payloads to use the arm.
  • While other congress critters fret about the employment picture on their districts, Senator Rockefeller states: NASA budget not just about jobs
  • A team of astronomers including Ivelina Momcheva of the Carnegie Observatories has discovered the most distant cluster of galaxies ever found. In a surprising twist, the young cluster born just 2.8 billion years after the Big Bang appears remarkably similar to the much older present-day galaxy clusters. “We were looking for clusters of galaxies when the Universe was still very young,” says Carnegie’s Momcheva, who did the spectroscopic analysis which led to the discovery of the cluster. “One might think that the clusters we find would look young as well. However in this cluster we found a number of surprisingly ancient-looking galaxies. This cluster resembles modern-day clusters, which are nearly 10 billion years older.”

11 May 2010

  • ESA’s Herschel infrared space telescope has made an unexpected discovery: a hole in space. The hole has provided astronomers with a surprising glimpse into the end of the star-forming process.
  • When space shuttle Atlantis launches, currently scheduled for May 14, 2010, it will carry an experiment to study how microgravity affects bacterial growth and the formation of surface films. Funded by NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., a team of researchers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), Troy, N.Y., will conduct the experiment.
  • A super-massive black hole — heavier than one billion suns — appears headed on an exit out of its home galaxy at 670,000 miles-an-hour.

10 May 2010

  • JPL Invites the Public to Annual Open House – 15-16 May 2010.
  • Two Soyuz 2-1a rockets were transported from Russia to French Guiana in November, and engineers are putting the launchers together for the first time in a new integration building near the Soyuz launch pad, which is still under construction. Each Soyuz rocket includes four strap-on boosters, a core stage and a third stage, all fueled by kerosene and liquid oxygen. A Fregat upper stage will be added atop the Soyuz to inject satellites into specific orbits.

9 May 2010

8 May 2010

7 May 2010

  • The first scientific results from the Herschel infrared space observatory have been unveiled by the European Space Agency (ESA). Some images reveal billowing clouds of gas and dust that astronomers believe will go on to form stars and planets. Others provide new views of the early universe, showing distant galaxies that are invisible to the likes of the Hubble Space Telescope.
  • NASASpaceFlight discusses the upcoming Atlantis launch, with the following elements: OV-104 / ET-136 / SRB BI-143 / RSRM 111 (Pad A)
  • U.S. Heavy-Lift Effort Inches Ahead.

6 May 2010

  • Dark matter ‘no result’ comes under fire
  • Voyager 2 was originally launched on a 4-year mission to Saturn. But 33 years later, the spacecraft is continuing on its journey to the outer reaches of the solar system. Scientists hope it will make it past the heliosphere – the bubble of solar wind that encases our solar system. No spacecraft – man-made, at least – has ever crossed that threshold and gone into interstellar space. Voyager 1 is supposed to cross it in about 5 years; Voyager 2 will cross it later, if the glitches don’t continue. Voyager 2 is about 8.6 billion miles from Earth, while Voyager 1 is now about 10.5 billion miles away.
  • WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE, N.M. — NASA’s Pad Abort 1 flight test, a launch of the abort system designed for the Orion crew vehicle, lifted off at 7 a.m. MDT Thursday at the U.S. Army’s White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) near Las Cruces, N.M. The flight lasted about 135 seconds from launch until the crew module touchdown about a mile north of the launch pad.
  • In the last week of May, thousands of square miles of airspace above the Pacific Ocean will be cleared to make way for a skinny, shark-nosed aircraft called the X-51.

5 May 2010

  • It’s been 24 years since Halley’s Comet last passed through the inner solar system, but remnants from the icy wanderer will light up the dawn sky this week in the Eta Aquarid meteor shower.
  • Aviation Week reports that prices for launching commercial satellites to geostationary orbit have dropped in the past decade and show signs of continuing the trend, a study backed by Arianespace with participation by International Launch Services (ILS) finds.

4 May 2010

  • Aviation Week reports that Space station Program Manager Mike Suffredini would prefer a summer 2011 flight if NASA moves forward with an extra shuttle mission using orbiter Atlantis.
  • Positively have to get there overnight? Discovery.com reports on a frequent topic: Plasma Rocket May Shorten Space Voyages.

3 May 2010

2 May 2010

  • A Russian cargo spaceship on Saturday docked at the International Space Station, authorities said, three days after launching from Kazakhstan with supplies that included sweets and chocolate.
  • Cornell University astronomers announced last week that they tracked a near-Earth object (NEO) named 2005 YU55 as it skimmed within 1.5 million miles of our planet last April 19. The giant radio antenna at Arecibo, Puerto Rico measured the intruder’s size at a planet-walloping 1,300 feet in diameter (pictured above). The speedy visitor is on a wanted list of “potentially hazardous asteroids” maintained by the Minor Planet Center, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, Mass.

1 May 2010

  • Discovery.com: The Mystery ‘Middle Child‘ of the Black Hole Family

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April 2010

Posted by drdave on August 6, 2010

25 April 2010

  • An ILS Proton Breeze M launched from Pad 39 at the Cosmodrome at 5:19 PM. today local time (7:19 AM EDT, 11:19 GMT). After an eight-hour, 58-minute mission, the Breeze M successfully released the SES-1 satellite directly into geostationary orbit.

24 April 2010

  • The first Minotaur IV Lite was launched from Vandenberg. The rocket launched the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2.
  • Asked about the secretive X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, deputy undersecretary for the Air Force for space programs Gary Payton said, “we don’t know when it’s coming back for sure”

23 April 2010

22 April 2010

21 April 2010

  • An object lesson in how to build the “railroad to space”. Wayne Hale’s Blog
  • Science News has published the first images from the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), launched 10 February 2010.
  • The Planetary Society has issued a “Statement of Support for New NASA Plan to Subcommittee of Senate Appropriations Committee”.
  • A “hidden galaxy” has been revealed in the infrared by the WISE Observatory. IC 342 is a spiral galaxy that is usually shrouded behind our own Milky Way.

20 April 2010

19 April 2010

18 April 2010

  • Indian space scientists confirmed that the cryogenic engine ignited for one second prior to fuel being blocked, causing the failure of the GSLV mission on Thursday.

17 April 2010

  • The Space Shuttle Discovery has undocked in preparation for landing on Monday.
  • The “one year” anniversary of the discovery of Neptune is approaching (12 July 2011). After 164 Earth years, Neptune has now returned to the place in the sky where it was first seen by Johann Galle, 23 September 1846.
  • While politicians and others continue to criticize President Obama for not announcing a super stupendous boots and flag mission doomed to fail (“we really don’t care what the mission is as long as NASA spends buckets of money in my district”), The Planetary Society recognizes the rational approach to exploration of the Solar System espoused by the President.

16 April 2010

  • The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite known as GOES-13 became the official GOES-EAST satellite on April 14, 2010. GOES-13 was moved from on-orbit storage and into active duty. It is perched 22,300 miles above the equator to spot potentially life-threatening weather, including tropical storm activity in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.
  • A recent study concludes that the interplanetary dust particles that cause Zodiacal light originates from Jupiter family comets.
  • The Orion space craft is being reconstituted as a rescue craft for the International Space Station.

15 April 2010

  • At the Kennedy Space Center, President Obama took on his critics: “We’ve got to do it in a smart way,” President Obama said, “and we can’t just keep on doing the same old things we’ve been doing and thinking that’s going to get us where we want to go.”
  • A new hydrogen-fueled third stage tumbled out of control during the launch of India’s most powerful rocket Thursday, dooming the $74 million test flight.
  • There is no shortage of debate in the Pentagon about how to proceed with maintaining a U.S. launch infrastructure.

14 April 2010

  • Ben Davies from the University of Leeds presented new images of the giant protostar W33A at the RAS’ National Astronomy Meeting this week at the University of Glasgow.
  • A MMOD (Micrometeoroid Orbital Debris) strike on Discovery’s Window 1 has been cleared as no concern.

13 April 2010

  • Aviation Week discusses President Obama’s upcoming speech at the Kennedy Space Center.
  • Ben Davies from the University of Leeds presented new images of the giant protostar W33A at the RAS’ National Astronomy Meeting this week at the University of Glasgow.
  • Newly released results from The Tauri Group, an independent, analytic consulting firm based in Alexandria, Virginia, reveal that the new NASA Commercial Crew and Cargo Program funding in the President’s FY2011 Budget Request will result in an average of 11,800 direct jobs per year over the next five years, nationwide.

12 April 2010

  • Yuri’s Night – Partying on the anniversary of Gagarin’s flight.
  • Angela Peura takes on the naysayers over at the Space Review: The new paradigm: Gemini on steroids. Well worth the read.
  • Air Force’s Mystery X-37B Space Plane Fuels Speculation. Launch is scheduled for 20 April 2010.

11 April 2010

10 April 2010

  • The Sun eats another comet.
  • “As an economic engine, there is very little that can compete with technology development.” Lori Garver, NASA’s deputy administrator, answers questions on the new NASA budget from Popular Mechanics.

9 April 2010

  • The Ariane 5 mission with the ASTRA 3B and COMSATBw-2 satellites has been postponed following the detection of an anomaly in the launch vehicle’s pressurization system during final countdown to liftoff.
  • Aviation Week: “Proposed work assignments under NASA’s turnabout Fiscal 2011 budget request would spread the agency’s five-year, $6-billion total budget increase — and the new jobs that may go with it — across the agency’s 10 field centers.”
  • A dim object less than 10 light years from Earth appears to be the closest brown dwarf yet found.

8 April 2010

  • USAF Plans Reusable Booster Demonstrators.
  • Aviation Week: “Proposed work assignments under NASA’s turnabout Fiscal 2011 budget request would spread the agency’s five-year, $6-billion total budget increase — and the new jobs that may go with it — across the agency’s 10 field centers.”

7 April 2010

  • Discovery and her seven member crew have arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) following a visually stunning R-bar Pitch Maneuver (RPM) 600 feet below the orbiting science laboratory. Following pressurization and leak checks of the ISS’s PMA-2 (Pressurized Mating Adaptor-2) and Discovery’s ODS (Orbiter Docking System), hatches between Discovery and the ISS will be opened at ~5:44a.m. EDT.
  • U.S. Signs New Deal for Soyuz Flights

6 April 2010

5 April 2010

  • The Space Shuttle Discovery rocketed into space with a pre-dawn launch.
  • Dorothy “Dottie” Metcalf-Lindenburger, robotic arm expert Stephanie Wilson and Naoko Yamazaki, the second Japanese woman ever to reach space will join with Caldwell Dyson, who is living on the International Space Station after arriving at the orbiting laboratory on Sunday. This is a record number of women in space at the same time.

4 April 2010

  • A Soyuz TMA-18 spacecraft carrying NASA astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson and Russian spaceflyers Alexander Skvortsov and Mikhail Kornienko arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) on Easter Sunday, boosting the orbiting lab’s population to six people just one day ahead of NASA’s planned launch of the shuttle Discovery toward the outpost.

3 April 2010

  • Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) plans to attempt the maiden launch of its Falcon 9 rocket no sooner than May 8.

2 April 2010

  • A Russian Soyuz TMA-18 spacecraft blasted off from a facility in Kazakhstan Friday on a mission to the International Space Station.
  • Following a series of highly elaborative and successful Flight Readiness Reviews (FRRs), launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery on the STS-131 mission is just three days away – as Launch Countdown (S0007) operations kicked off early on Friday morning.

1 April 2010

  • Astronomers have their eyes on a hot group of young stars, watching their every move like the paparazzi. A new infrared image from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope shows the bustling star-making colony of the Orion nebula.
  • Aviation Week reviews the reasons to support NASA’s “Flexible Path”. “As successful as NASA has been over its 50-plus years, NASA’s new plan can enable both revolutionary new scientific capabilities from space and, at the same time, propel our human exploration of space forward.”

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March 2010

Posted by drdave on August 6, 2010

29 March 2010

28 March 2010

  • Joel Achenbach at the Washington Post blogs NASA Administrator Charles Bolden’s answers to a series of questions about the NASA Space Program: There is no Plan B for Heavy Lift; the Augustine Committee’s findings made clear that Constellation was simply not affordable or executable under any reasonable budget scenario.
  • Major Timothy Peake, Britain’s first astronaut, discusses the launch of the UK Space Agency and other matters with the The Sunday Times in London.
  • Joel Achenbach at The Washington Post runs his full length discussion of the costs, goals and shock of cancellation of the Constellation program under the title “NASA’s $500 million launcher missing just one thing: the rocket it was made for”. He quotes Dale Ketcham, a University of Central Florida professor who runs a think tank called the Spaceport Research and Technology Institute on the $9.4 billion already spend on Ares I and the fact that Ares V would not be ready until 2028: “The taxpayers would really be ticked off: Sixty years later we go back and plant the flag and go home.”

27 March 2010

26 March 2010

  • Chris Bergin at NASASpaceFlight.com reports that “The decision to call a Special PRCB (Program Requirements Control Board) meeting on Tuesday paid dividends, as several outstanding issues gained the required flight rationale – with all dissenting opinions removed – to allow for Friday’s Agency-level Flight Readiness Review (FRR) to give a “go” for STS-131 to proceed towards an April 5 launch date”.
  • The New Scientist discusses Solar Sails as a tool for clearing orbiting space junk“.

25 March 2010

24 March 2010

  • The Mars Rover passed the twenty (20) kilometer mark on its odometer. JPL reports that, “Opportunity today surpassed 20 kilometers (12.43 miles) of total driving since it landed on Mars 74 months ago”.
  • The Hubble Space Telescope will be twenty a month from now. Science News has a review in its upcoming issue dated 10 April 2010.

23 March 2010

  • The British government on March 23 announced it will create a U.K. Space Agency to direct all British civil space investment, replacing the current British National Space Centre structure with a centralized space-policy command post that “will have the muscle it needs to coordinate space policy and boost our international standing,” according to a government policy document.

22 March 2010

  • Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShip Two was carried aloft for its first test flight today.
  • The Board of Directors of Arianespace met on Monday, 22 March 2010 in Evry, near Paris. It congratulated the company on its technical performance and record order book, and decided to give it the resources needed for development by bolstering its financial structure.

21 March 2010

20 March 2010

  • An ILS Proton rocket with a Breeze-M upper stage has launched the EchoStar XIV telecommunications satellite.
  • The payload for Space Shuttle Discovery (STS-131) arrived and was transfered to the Payload Changeout Room. Meanwhile. engineers continue to work an issue with Discovery’s PCMMU (Pulse Code Modulator Master Unit), which first experienced a “momentary failure” on March 5, that kicked off a round of engineering evaluations and troubleshooting efforts.

19 March 2010

18 March 2010

  • International Space Systems has bid on the launch of 18 Galileo navigation satellites on three Proton Rockets. More business for the Russian Space Industry.

17 March 2010

16 March 2010

  • New thermal images from powerful ground-based telescopes show swirls of warmer air and cooler regions never seen before within Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, enabling scientists to make the first detailed interior weather map of the giant storm system.
  • Vadim Bobylev of the Pulkovo Observatory in St Petersburg, Russia, reports on the paths of neighbouring stars in Astronomy Letters. He found that the biggest threat comes from Gliese 710, an orange dwarf now some 63 light years away but zooming our way at 14 kilometres per second. Previous studies have suggested that Gliese 710 could pass through the Oort cloud in about 1.5 million years. This would scatter comets throughout the Solar System.
  • The Expedition 22 crew aboard the International Space Station prepared for the departure of two of its members.

15 March 2010

  • The Space Shuttle Enterprise, currently at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, has undergone rigorous testing to determine if it can once again be flown aboard the 747 carrier aircraft to a new home should the Smithsonian secure one of the now flying shuttles. Enterprise (OV-101) never flew in space, but was instrumental in proving flight worthiness in the atmosphere.
  • This Fall, law students at Sunderland University in the UK will be able to take a course in space law. Health, safety, satellite damage, land title and other topics are on tap.

14 March 2010

  • From NASASpaceFlight.com: “A leak relating to Discovery’s RCS (Reaction Control System) Helium Isolation Value – on the Right Hand (RH) OMS (Orbital Maneuvering System) fuel system – is undergoing troubleshooting at Pad 39A. Due to redundancy, flight rationale may be accepted to fly STS-131 “as-is” – should blowdown procedures fail to correct the issue – otherwise rollback and a long delay would occur due to the need to remove the OMS Pod to access the valve”.

13 March 2010

  • Florida Today reports on the 3.5 second successful firing of all nine Merlin engines on the Falcon 9 rocket. The announcement form Space-X says, “SpaceX successfully completed a test firing of the inaugural Falcon 9 launch vehicle at Space Launch Complex 40 located at Cape Canaveral. Following a nominal terminal countdown, the launch sequencer commanded ignition of all 9 Merlin first stage engines for a period of 3.5 seconds”. This sets up a probable launch attempt for 12 April 2010.
  • Dramatic. SOHO captures a comet diving straight into the sun.

12 March 2010

  • Ethidium represents a class of molecules that prevents RNA chains from doubling back on themselves and forming short, circular chains. This has always been a major problem with the “RNA before DNA” theory of biogenesis. Nicholas Hud et. al., a chemist at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, has proposed this solution. The New Scientist has the short version of the research.

11 March 2010

  • The heads of the International Space Station (ISS) agencies from Canada, Europe, Japan, Russia and the United States met in Tokyo, Japan, on 11 March 2010, to review ISS cooperation. Among other details, the Partnership is currently working to certify on-orbit elements through 2028.
  • A companion bill to Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison’s proposal to keep the Space Shuttle flying until 2015 has been introduced in the House. This legislation, plus $2.4 Billion a year, could do it.
  • PhysicsWorld reviews another test of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity using data on more than 70,000 distant galaxies from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. The average distance to the galaxies in the study is about 5.5 billion light-years.

10 March 2010

9 March 2010

  • The interior of Phobos, one of two Martian moons, is the subject of a series of 12 fly-bys by Europe’s Mars Express spacecraft. Six have been completed, including the closest ever pass of the moon, at 67 km, last week. The gravity data will help Russia’s Phobos-Grunt mission, set to launch in 2011 or 2012, maneuver efficiently around the moon before coming in for a landing.
  • The New York Times discusses President Obama’s upcoming Florida forum to discuss NASA’s future, scheduled for 15 April 2010.
  • Buzz Aldrin gears up for Dancing with the Stars.

8 March 2010

  • The Space Review leads off this week’s set of five articles with Jeff Foust and NASA’s need to win hearts and minds. Of note, peculiar but interesting, “the odds of becoming a NASA astronaut are very long: there are far more professional athletes in the US today than members of the astronaut corps”. And the metaphor of “The Rider and the Elephant” is apropos the current controversy.
  • W00T. ESA (European Space Agency) gets its Tweet back. It had been taken several years ago by Esa Alanen, who works at Finnish telecom giant Nokia. In thanks for his Twitter address, ESA offered Esa Alanen and family a VIP visit to the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) in Cologne, and the chance to meet a real astronaut. This was especially fascinating for Esa’s six-year-old son Johannes, who “wants to be a spaceman”.

7 March 2010

6 March 2010

  • The Space shuttle Discovery will start its Flight Readiness Review (FRR) next week in preparation for its 5 April launch. Discovery will carry a multi-purpose logistics module filled with science racks for the laboratories aboard the station. The mission has three planned spacewalks, with work to include replacing an ammonia tank assembly, retrieving a Japanese experiment from the station’s exterior, and switching out a rate gyro assembly on the S0 segment of the station’s truss structure.
  • Aviation Week reviews China’s Moon Rocket plans. Liang Xiaohong, the vice-president of the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, says it will have a thrust at lift off of 3,000 tons. America’s Saturn V S-1C first stage generated 3,470 metric tons.
  • The New Scientist reports on the discovery of previously unknown Near Earth Objects (NEO) by the WISE infrared observatory. In its first six weeks of observations, it has discovered 16 previously unknown asteroids with orbits close to Earth’s. One of these objects is as dark as fresh asphalt, reflecting less than 5 per cent of the light it receives. But the objects are bright in the infrared.

5 March 2010

  • The Wall Street journal jumped the gun on NASA’s review of heavy lift candidates, calling it “Plan B”. NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden then set the record straight. This error by the WSJ comes on the heels of the flap over the WSJ cherry picking phrases from Burt Rutan’ letter to Congressman Wolf (see 1 March below).
  • The 97-km long B-9B iceberg rammed into the Mertz Glacier Tongue in Eastern Antarctica in early February. The collision caused a chunk of the glacier?s tongue to snap off, giving birth to another iceberg nearly as large as B-9B. PhysOrg has a nice animation of this event

4 March 2010

  • The GOES-P weather satellite lifted off from Cape Canaveral this evening at 4:57 PM Phoenix time heading for geostationary orbit.
  • Space Shuttle Discovery (STS-131) was rolled out to the launch pad Wednesday. Repairs will now take place to the stack’s External Tank following “avian induced damage” to the tank’s foam (TPS-Thermal Protection System) .
  • From NASA Space Flight: “Senator Kay Hutchison – in conjunction with Representatives Suzanne Kosmas and Bill Posey – has produced a 37 page Bill that proposes major refinements to NASA’s FY2011 proposal, and NASA’s forward plan. The Bill is centered around a shuttle extension to 2015, in support of fully utilizing the International Space Station (ISS), along with saving elements of Constellation – such as Orion and a Heavy Lift Launcher (HLV).”

3 March 2010

  • The GOES-P weather satellite is now due to be launched no earlier than 4 March aboard a Delta IV-M from Cape Canaveral at 4:17 PM Phoenix time. The launch Window closes at 5:17 PM.

2 March 2010

  • Cassini will fly by Rhea today at an altitude of 100 kilometers. Particle and fields instruments will try to determine what is coming off Rhea. The last targeted flyby of Rhea happened in November 2005.
  • Arianespace announced that OverHorizon has chosen Arianespace to launch its first communications satellite, OHO-1. OHO-1 will be launched into geostationary transfer orbit in mid-2012, using an Ariane 5 launcher from the Guiana Space Center, Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. This is the fourth contract signed by Arianespace in 2010.
  • Speculation continues over whether the Mars Rover Spirit will rise again. Discovery.com reports on 34 centimeters of progress made by Spirit to get out of the sand trap before the Martian winter put a halt to activity. Survival is now the key.

1 March 2010

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February 2010

Posted by drdave on August 6, 2010

28 February 2010

  • A faulty valve has delayed the launch of the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) spacecraft until Wednesday, 3 March 2010, during an hour-long window that will open at 6:18 p.m.
  • Mark Sykes, director of Tucson’s Planetary Science Institute and an investigator on NASA’S Dawn Mission to Ceres and Vesta (protoplanets in Pluto’s neighborhood in the far reaches of the solar system) takes part in a NOVA episode on PBS with Neil DeGrasse Tyson on the status of Pluto. Ten years ago, Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York, decided to demote Pluto from its status as a planet.

27 February 2010

  • Yesterday, SpaceX engineers loaded 75,000 gallons of propellant aboard the Falcon 9 during a simulated countdown. Friday’s countdown wet dress rehearsal was “the smoothest test we have conducted to date,” said Tim Buzza, the Falcon 9 launch director.
  • NASA plans to transform the Italian built Multi Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) known as “Leonardo” into a Permanent Multipurpose Module . The supply-laden PMM will be flown aboard shuttle Discovery during the STS-133 mission in September and attached to the station. The added space within the PMM will enable efficient positioning of experiments throughout the station complex. Inside the PMM, experiments in fluid physics, materials science, biology, biotechnology and other microgravity experiments may be conducted.

26 February 2010

  • The X37B, a secretive Air Force orbital space plane project, arrived at Cape Canaveral Friday, according to Air Force sources. It is schedule for launch aboard and Atlas V on 19 April 2010.
  • The GOES-P meteorological satellite completed its Flight Readiness Review yesterday. The satellite is scheduled for launch on a Delta IV rocket on March 2.

25 February 2010

  • Attacks by Republican Senator David Vitter of Louisiana on Deputy Administrator Lori Garver have produced fireworks. Sources on the Hill blame rocket maker ATK, the developer of the Ares I rocket first stage, for putting Vitter up to the attack.
  • The New Scientist reviews NASA Administrator Bolden’s commitment to produce a road map to Mars.

24 February 2010

  • Charles Bolden told skeptics in Congress that “If you gave me an infinite pot of money, I could not get a human to Mars in the next ten years, because there are some things we just don’t know.”
  • Space News discusses the organizational overhaul of NASA by Administrator Charles Bolden.

23 February 2010

22 February 2010

21 February 2010

  • The Space Shuttle Endeavour is undergoing routine system checks in preparation for its return to Earth tonight.

20 February 2010

  • Endeavour undocked just before 8 PM EST Saturday for the two-day trip back to Earth. The shuttle’s six-astronaut crew spent nine days at the station, where they attached the new Tranquility module and a seven-window space observation deck.
  • SpaceX hoisted the first Falcon 9 rocket atop the Complex 40 launch pad at Cape Canaveral today. After emerging from the hangar Friday, the 15-story rocket was rotated vertical around midday.

19 February 2010

  • Endeavour is preparing to undock prior to a return Sunday night.
  • CryoSat 2, built to monitor trends in polar ice, was supposed to launch Feb. 25 on a converted Ukrainian SS-18 ballistic missile from an underground silo at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. It will be grounded for up to a week because of an issue with the steering system on its Dnepr launcher.
  • The Stardust spacecraft fired its thrusters Wednesday to tweak its planned 2011 arrival at the Comet Tempel 1. NASA intentionally slammed its Deep Impact probe into Comet Tempel 1 in 2005 just to see what it was made of. Stardust is slated to swing by Comet Tempel 1 on Feb. 14, 2011 (Valentine’s Day), just under a year from now, to see how it has changed since the Deep Impact mission. Stardust’s mission was originally aimed at collecting samples of a different comet, called Wild 2 (pronounced “Vilt 2”). It successfully made that rendezvous in 2004 and sent its sample canister containing the comet bits back to Earth in 2006.

18 February 2010

  • Some of the oldest, and purest, stars in the Universe have been discovered by astronomers working with the Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the European Southern Observatory.
  • In 2007, Australian National University (ANU) astronomer Donna Burton became the first Australian woman to discover a comet, naming it “Siding Spring” after the NSW observatory where she worked. Now, NASA’s WISE observatory has sent back a beautifully detailed image.

17 February 2010

  • The Italian Observation Deck is open for business.
  • NASA has announced that the Space Shuttle Discovery STS-131 launch date has been set for 5 April 2010. Discovery will deliver a multi-purpose logistics module filled with science racks to be transferred to laboratories on the International Space Station. The mission will feature three spacewalks.

16 February 2010

  • Discovery.com highlights a new Cassini image of Mimas, the moon of Saturn that looks like “The Death Star” from Star Wars.
  • Speed Kills – The New Scientist throws cold water on the Star Trek warp drive. To a starship approaching the speed of light, the thin hydrogen gas in interstellar space hitting the starship would mean the crew would be standing in front of a proton beam as intense as the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).
  • NASA’s WISE observatory spots a new comet.

15 February 2010

  • Scientific American reports on new research on the 1969 Murchison meteorite. Philippe Schmitt-Kopplin and his colleagues found more than 14,000 unique molecular compositions, or collections of atoms, in the samples; there may be 50,000 or more such compositions in the meteorite.
  • The Planetary Society has Buzz Aldrin and Andrew Chaikin discussing the new NASA Budget.
  • The Cupola gets bolted on to the Tranquility module.

14 February 2010

  • Tonight’s planned relocation of the International Space Station’s Cupola, the new, dome-shaped observation deck may be delayed by at least a day because of concerns about its fit on a berthing port.
  • British-born astronaut Nicholas Patrick has taken part in a spacewalk to provide a cooling system for the newest room on board the International Space Station. Patrick was hit by a small amount of ammonia after undoing a connection, but none of the toxic substance stuck to his suit. The spacewalk ended slightly early as a result, so he and Robert Behnken could go through safety checks.

13 February 2010

  • Astronauts of the Space Shuttle Endeavour and ISS opened the hatches between Node-1 and Node-3 (Tranquility – built by the European Space Agency) at 03:17 CET (02:17 GMT) this morning and entered their new module. For the moment, the module remains passive, with temporary lighting and ventilation, while it is prepared for the relocation of the Cupola window module.
  • Bob Behnken and Nick Patrick continued outfitting operations of the Node 3 “Tranquillity” module during the mission’s second EVA (Spacewalk), which including a bit of drama via a small ammonia leak during one of Patrick’s tasks.

12 February 2010

  • Bob Behnken and Nick Patrick (EV-1 and EV-2, respectively) completed one of the final spacewalks dedicated to the construction efforts of the ISS – with the installation of the newly mated Node 3 conducted in tandem with the productive EVA.
  • International Launch Services (ILS) successfully carried the Intelsat 16 satellite to orbit for Intelsat S.A. on an ILS Proton. The ILS Proton vehicle lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 6:39 a.m. local time (7:39 p.m. EST, 00:39 GMT). After a 9 hour 34 minute mission, the Breeze M successfully released the Intelsat 16 satellite into a near geostationary orbit. The spacecraft then utilized its on board fuel to maneuver to its geostationary orbit location at 58 degrees West Longitude.

11 February 2010

10 February 2010

  • The launch of the Solar Dynamics Observatory was scrubbed due to high winds. It is rescheduled for tomorrow, and conditions should be much calmer, although colder.
  • Discovery.com discusses the possible existence of liquid water on Saturn’s moon Enceladus.
  • Late Tuesday night, the Space Shuttle Endeavour docked with the International Space Station.

9 February 2010

  • The New York Times Opinion Page describes the Constellation program as “begun by former President George W. Bush, … behind schedule and its technology increasingly outdated.” It continues, “If done right, the president’s strategy could pay off handsomely. If not, it could be the start of a long, slow decline from the nation’s pre-eminent position as a space-faring power. “
  • This week, Astronomy & Astrophysics publishes new 3D maps of the interstellar gas situated in an area 300 parsecs around the Sun.

8 February 2010

  • The Space Shuttle Endeavour was successfully launched early this morning.
  • Wayne Hale’s blog reminds us these words from James Michener’s “Space”:
    “‘An age is called Dark not because the light fails to shine, but because people refuse to see it.'”
  • Endeavour is scheduled to dock with the International Space Station at 10:09 PM Phoenix time on Tuesday, 9 February (12:09 AM EST Wednesday) over the northern coast of Spain.

7 February 2010

  • The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) launch aboard an Atlas V 401 has been pushed back to 10 February due to the scrub of the Endeavour early this morning.
  • Managers officially have scheduled space shuttle Endeavour’s next launch attempt for Monday, 8 February, at 2:14 AM Phoenix time (4:14 AM EST).

6 February 2010

  • Sunday Crew ingress is scheduled for 1:19 AM EST. Launch is scheduled for Sunday at 2:39 AM Phoenix time (4:39 AM EST). Weather is 80 percent Go for Launch, primary concern is high winds at Pad-A.”

5 February 2010

  • A Progress M-04M cargo carrier delivered over 2.5 tons of food and water supplies, fuel and scientific equipment to the International Space Station late Thursday night. A Soyuz-U carrier rocket carrying the Progress freighter lifted off from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan at 06:45 Moscow time (03:45 GMT) on Wednesday.
  • Aviation Week discusses the NASA budget.
  • Astronaut Leroy Chiao writes about Commercial Human Spaceflight on Discovery.com.

4 February 2010

  • New maps of Pluto from Hubble images reflect rapid changes in Pluto’s surface. “It’s a surprise that we’ve seen this much change, this fast,” said astronomer Marc Buie.
  • The European Space Agency (ESA) has a new article on the formation of massive spiral galaxies.
  • Most of the spiral galaxies that decorate our universe have emerged from surprisingly violent pasts, says a new study. They grew their delicate spiral arms after being mashed into a pulp by vast collisions.

3 February 2010

  • JPL scientists reported on a new technique used with a relatively small Earth-based telescope to identify an organic molecule in the atmosphere of a Jupiter-size planet nearly 63 light-years away.
  • NASA prepares to launch STS-130.
  • Anybody who likes, loves, devotes their lives to the American Space Program should read Wayne Hale’s blog from time to time.

2 February 2010

1 February 2010

  • The NASA Budget presentation is now scheduled for 10:30 AM Phoenix time this morning (12:30 EST) at http://www.nasa.gov/newsaudio. This is a change from the previously announced 1:00 PM Phoenix (3:00 PM EST)
  • Deputy Administrator Lori Garver will participate with Dr. Holdren in a briefing by the Office of Science and Technology Policy about the federal government’s 2011 research and development budget. The briefing will take place at 11:00 AM Phoenix (1:00 PM EST), Monday, Feb. 1 in the auditorium of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The association is located at 1200 New York Avenue, NW, with an entrance at 12th St. and H St. NW.
  • On Tuesday, Administrator Bolden, Dr. John Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, will introduce new commercial space pioneers, launching a game-changing way of developing technology to send humans to space. The announcement will take place at 8:00 AM Phoenix (10:00 AM EST) in the National Press Club’s ballroom, located at 529 14th Street NW in Washington.

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January 2010

Posted by drdave on August 5, 2010

31 January 2010

30 January 2010

  • The Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) confirms that it can continue producing the External Tank for the Space Shuttle and Shuttle Derived Launch Vehicles (SDLV).
  • All the pieces of the Falcon 9 have arrived at complex 40 at Cape Canaveral. Space X says that liftoff is currently set for around March 8 during a four-hour launch window that opens at 11 a.m. EST.

29 January 2010

  • NASA / JPL released a new image of Prometheus, one of Saturn’s innermost moons. It orbits the gas-giant at a distance of 139,353 kilometers (85,590 miles) and is 86 kilometers (53 miles) across at its widest point.
  • Russia launched a Proton / Breeze-M rocket carrying a modernized Raduga, or Globus, communications satellite designed to link Russian troops and senior military commanders. The satellite was successfully placed in a Geo Stationary Orbit.

28 January 2010

  • Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) and Space Communication Ltd. (Spacecom) of Ramat-Gan Israel, operator of the AMOS satellite fleet, have signed an agreement for launch of a communication satellite aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 as early as December 2012. Falcon 9 will insert the satellite into a geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO), adding to Spacecom’s existing satellite fleet. Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd.
  • Paris, 28 January 2010 – Eutelsat Communications (Euronext Paris: ETL) confirms that a technical anomaly occurred in the evening of January 27 on the W2 satellite located at 16° East. This incident is under full investigation by Eutelsat in collaboration with the satellite’s manufacturer, Thales Alenia Space.

27 January 2010

  • NASA Administrator, Charles Bolden, will address a National Press Club Newsmakers press conference at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, February 2, 2010 in the Zenger Room on the 13th floor, National Press Building, 529 14th Street, NW, Washington, DC. This follows the release of NASA’s 2011 budget proposal the previous day.
  • 669 Teams of Student Rocketeers Launching for Team America Rocketry Challenge Finals. “This year’s challenge is for each 3- to 10-member team to design and build a model rocket that carries a single raw egg payload to a precise altitude of 825 feet with a flight duration of between 40 and 45 seconds, returning the egg to the ground unbroken.”

26 January 2010

  • NASA Administrator Charles Bolden is set to unveil NASA’s proposed 2011 budget at a press conference on Monday, 1 February 2010.
  • NASA / JPL has now conceded that the Mars rover Spirit will not be able to free itself from the sand it is in. They will now focus on setting up Spirit to survive the upcoming Martian winter.

25 January 2010

24 January 2010

  • STS-130 appears to be on track for its launch on 7 February 2010. It appears that the ammonia line problems on the Tranquility module (Node 3) will be resolved by launch time.

23 January 2010

  • Bob Werb of the Space Frontier Foundation, whacks Ares-I in the head in this article in today’s Orlando Sentinel. He labels the likely decision by the Obama administration “a small decision, big on political courage”, given the political pork behind this.
  • NASASpaceFlight has a very good article on the latest thoughts coming out of NASA on the “Flexible Path” program. The intermediate goal is Phobos, and the long term is Mars itself. Intermediate stops at asteroids, space telescopes, propellant depots, and the Moon.

22 January 2010

  • RIA Novosti reports on the movement of the Russian Soyuz TMA-16 from its usual docking port on the ISS to the new Poisk Module.
  • The Solar Dynamics Observatory is being prepared for launch from the Cape’s Complex 41 on February 9 during a one-hour window opening at 10:30 a.m. EST (1530 GMT).

21 January 2010

20 January 2010

  • >Efforts underway at JPL to see if Phoenix Mars Lander has survived the long Martian winter have come up empty so far. Several more days of listening are to come.
  • Amy Klamper at Space News >reports that it appears unlikely that NASA will receive any increase in its budget. Many had expected (wanted?) a $ 1 Billion dollar increase.
  • NASA has dropped its price for a retired Space Shuttle from $42 Million to $28.8 Million. Basically the cost of transportation.

19 January 2010

  • The European Space Agency has an update on the Herschel Infrared Telescope. The article includes an interesting animation of Hereschel looking at the Orion Nebula.
  • The University of Arizona reports on a “snowflake” shaped galaxy.

18 January 2010

17 January 2010

  • Nasa and the European Space Agency scientists are studying a meteorite which hit North Yorkshire in 1881. The study, including a 3D scan of the surface of the 4,500 million-year-old Middlesbrough Meteorite, is part of a plan to send a probe to Mars.
  • NASASpaceFlight.com reports on the first Chinese launch of the new Year. A Long March 3C lauedhed the BeiDou-2 (Compass-G1) into a Geo Stationary Orbit (GSO) as part of its GPS system.

16 January 2010

  • Aviation Week reports of development of the new Ariane 6 by the European Space Agency (ESA)>. The new vehicle would replace the Ariane 5 around 2025.
  • NASA has released this picture of a new Iceberg off Mertz Glacier Tongue. The Mertz Glacier flows off East Antarctica along the George V Coast.

15 January 2010

14 January 2010

  • Wired Magazine has images from yesterday’s close pass of asteroid 2010 AL30 . JPL has a diagram of the path taken between the Earth and the Moon.
  • Two Russian cosmonauts are conducting a space walk to activate the Poisk research module launched in November.

13 January 2010

  • Get up early (5:45 AM Phoenix time) and watch the space junk whiz past the Earth.
  • NASA is experiencing a shortage of Plutonium to power its spacecraft. “That puts a number of destinations off-limits”, says Jim Green, head of NASA’s planetary science division. “Without the plutonium, there’s just a huge dimension of science we’re going to be missing,” Green told New Scientist.

12 January 2010

  • A NASA tiger team expects to solve the ammonia tubing failures plaguing the cooling system on the Tranquility (Node 3) module due to launch 7 February on the Endeavour Shuttle (STS-130) by welding together short tubing segments that have previously passed inspection and flight qualification.
  • NPR reports on a mysterious object set to whiz past the Earth (80,000 miles) at 5:45 AM Phoenix time, well inside the Moon’s orbit. Space junk or a small asteroid (33-50 feet), who knows? See Wired’s article.
  • Reuters reports on NASA’s continuing saga with the waste water recycling equipment on board the ISS. Current speculation surrounds a higher than expected calcium concentration in urine, possibly due to bone loss.

11 January 2010

  • Marcel F. Williams published a good review of the problems confronting the American Human Space Flight program and rational methods of proceeding. Recommended.
  • NASA research into the diversity of landforms on Mars is highlighted in a January special issue of Icarus. The research is from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
  • NASA has rescheduled its press briefing on the first Shuttle flight of the year to 29 January 2010.

10 January 2010

  • NASA has published a preliminary roadmap covering the Augustine Commission’s now famous “Flexible Path” scenario for human space exploration. This is the third in a series on the NASA white paper. Previously, NASASpaceFlight published Part I and Part II.
  • PISCES, a research facility at The University of Hawaii at Hilo, will sponsor NASA, Canadian and German scientists from 15 January through 11 February. They will use rovers to carry soil to a plant where they will generate electricity from oxygen and hydrogen in the soil and then liquefy the products. They will also test a new system of making oxygen directly from the moon-like soil.

9 January 2010

  • India’s newspaper The Hindu discusses the upcoming annular eclipse of the Sun on 15 January 2010.
  • NASA announced the successful testing of the 98 inch Sofia infrared telescope aboard a 747 aircraft. The telescope is expected to become operational in the Fall of 2010.

8 January 2010

  • STS-130 mission is threatened by continuing ammonia coolant line failures on the Tranquility Node, Endeavour’s cargo for the ISS.
  • Studies of two supernova remnants using the Japan-U.S. Suzaku observatory have revealed never-before-seen embers of the high-temperature fireballs that immediately followed the explosions.

7 January 2010

  • NASA has released the “first light” image from the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) observatory.
  • Although the U.K.’s Telegraph published an article entitled, “Earth ‘to be wiped out’ by supernova explosion”, Discover.com notes that “Ray Villard who is currently attending the American Astronomical Society (AAS) conference in D.C. confirmed that the Telegraph article is 90 percent hype”.
  • On another note from the AAS, the dark matter halo around the Milky Way galaxy is shaped like a squashed ball.

6 January 2010

  • The Space Shuttle Endeavour was rolled out to pad 39 A today prior to a 7 February launch.
  • New images from Hubble of ” target=”_out” >blobby blue galaxies” only 600 million years old were announced at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Washington, D.C. And it appears the local Small Magellanic Cloud (a satellite of our Milky Way) has been around for 13 Billion years.
  • NASA administrator Charles Bolden commented today that President Obama will not cut robotic exploration to pay for manned expllration, and that Obama is very supportive of space exploration.

5 January 2010

  • The Arizona Republic in Tucson, home of the University of Arizona and the Phoenix Lander polar mission, reports that Peter Smith, the mission’s lead scientist and a University of Arizona professor would “…like to think there’s a high probability (of reviving the lander), but there isn’t”. Nevertheless, NASA will give it a try following the long Martian winter.
  • NASA released a mosaic image of the past 12 Billion years. The images were taken by the newly installed Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3).
  • Ancient lakes on Mars suggested in new images.

4 January 2010

3 January 2010

  • NASA is offering interested parties a genuine Space Shuttle for $42 million.
  • My latest issue of Aviation Week names The Space Entrepreneur as Person of the Year.

2 January 2010

  • Mylswamy Annadurai, Project Director, Chandrayaan-I and II of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Bangalore, confirmed that Chandrayaan-II would be launched as scheduled during the first quarter of 2013. According to The Hindu, “the Chandrayaan-II has been planned to land on the moon and make in situ chemical and mineral analysis to confirm the discovery of Chandrayaan-I.”
  • Although a rocket capable of putting 200mt into low Earth orbit (LEO) has been in the news, it remains to be seen whether development and launch costs could ever be afforded.

1 January 2010

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December 2009

Posted by drdave on August 4, 2010

31 December 2009

  • From the NASA press release: “Kepler Mission scientists will reveal the space telescope’s latest discoveries at a news briefing in Washington on Monday, Jan. 4, 2010. The announcement will be made at 10 a.m. PST (1 p.m. EST) at a news conference during the 215th national meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park hotel.”
  • From ASU: “According to research published online in the Dec. 31 issue of Science Express and in the Jan. 22 issue of Science magazine by Greg Brennecka, a graduate student in the School of Earth and Space Exploration (SESE) at Arizona State University (ASU), the 238U/235U ratio can no longer be considered a constant in meteoritic material. Any deviation from this assumed value causes miscalculation in the determined Pb-Pb age of a sample, meaning that the age of the Solar System could be miscalculated by as much as several million years. Although this is a small fraction of the 4.57 billion year age of the Solar System, it is significant since some of the most important events that shaped the Solar System occurred within the first 10 million years of its formation.”

30 December 2009

  • The Arizona Daily Star reports that the U of A is one of three finalists for NASA’s Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer, or Osiris-Rex for the New Frontiers program. The UA’s Michael Drake, director of the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, would head the project to explore an asteroid and return samples.
  • JPL announced that the WISE observatory has released its cover and begun observations. The first data should be released in about a month, after calibration is complete. WISE will perform the most detailed infrared survey of the entire sky to date. Its millions of images will expose the dark side of the cosmos — objects, such as asteroids, stars and galaxies, that are too cool or dusty to be seen with visible light.

29 December 2009

  • Graduate students at the University of Colorado at Boulder have been awarded an $840,000 grant to develop a five (5) pound satellite to observe energetic particles in space that should give scientists a better understanding of solar flares and their interaction with Earth’s atmosphere
  • On Orbit has images of the plumes of Enciladus.

28 December 2009

27 December 2009

  • JPL reports that the Cassini spacecraft will fly over the north pole of Titan today. The flyby, which brings Cassini to within about 960 kilometers (600 miles) of the Titan surface at 82 degrees north latitude, will take place the evening of Dec. 27 Pacific time.
  • Aviation Week discusses the contract awarded to EADS Astrium by the European Space Agency (ESA) for definition of a higher-power, more versatile variant of the Ariane 5 heavy-lift booster. It will feature a new upper stage, a re-ignitable Vinci upper stage engine and enhanced avionics and flight software. The enhanced Ariane V should make its first flight around 2017, and will have a payload capacity of 12 metric tons. This compare to 10 tons for the existing Ariane 5 ECA. The new Ariane V will be be capable of launching spacecraft into multiple orbits. It is intended to allow the Ariane 5 to remain competitive with new launch vehicles like China’s Long March 5.

26 December 2009

  • In November, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a study that expressed concern over the ability of NASA to utilize more than a fraction of the research potential of the International Space Station.
  • Discovery.com reports on the end of the ISS Butterfly Experiment. The National Space Biomedical Research Institute reports that “The four Painted Lady butterflies on the International Space Station have completed their normal life spans.”

25 December 2009

24 December 2009

  • Late Wednesday, the U.S. Senate passed legislation to extend federal liability protection for commercial space launch providers (First established by Congress as part of the Commercial Space Launch Act Amendments of 1988). Under the measure approved by the Senate, the U.S. government would continue for three more years to indemnify commercial launch operators against third-party claims for launch-related damages that exceed $500 million, up to a total of $1.5 billion.
  • Galaxies existing only 500 million years after the Big Bang have been reported in the journal Nature. Images taken in August by the Hubble telescope show three galaxies with a red shift around 10.

23 December 2009

  • The Soyuz TMA-17 spacecraft docked with the nadir port of the station’s Zarya module at 5:48 pm EST (2248 GMT) Tuesday, two days after launching from Baikonur. On board are the Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kotov, NASA astronaut T.J. Creamer, and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi.
  • The air force web site discusses the successful test firing of ATK’s Castor 30 solid fuel second stage engine at the Arnold Engineering Development Center’s J-6 large-rocket motor-testing facility on 9 December 2009. Although the rocket engine can be used in military applications, it is designed to burn more slowly than most solid rocket engines, giving a gentler ride to commercial satellite payloads.

22 December 2009

  • The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released a letter to Senators Jay Rockefeller and Kay Bailey Hutchison (Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation), and Representatives Bart Gordon and Ralph M. Hall (House Committee on Science and Technology) concerning the oversupply of world wide launch capacity and its detrimental affects on the ability of the United States to develop technology skills and retain the workforce in the area of rocket propulsion.
  • Space News discusses NASA’s announcement concerning design fixes to protect astronauts from potentially dangerous levels of vibrations that could otherwise reach the planned Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle during its climb to orbit atop the Ares 1 rocket.
  • The Mars Rover Spirit, trying to escape its sand trap captivity, has made another discovery while spinning its wheels. It broke through a dark reddish-brown crusty surface that was an inch or so thick, exposing loose, sandy material. As the rover tried to break free, its wheels began to churn the soil, uncovering even more sandy material, bearing “a higher concentration of sulfate that seen anywhere else on Mars,” said Ray Arvidson of the Washington University in St. Louis. “These deposits are evidence of water-charged explosive volcanism. Such areas could have once supported life.”

21 December 2009

  • London-based Avanti Communications Group PLC has awarded a contract to Orbital Sciences Corp. to provide a new communications satellite.
    Orbital, headquartered in Dulles, will deliver the HYLAS 2 satellite in early 2012.
  • NASA’s Kennedy Space Center announced it will host a media event at 10 a.m. EST on Friday, Jan. 8, to showcase the Tranquility node, which will provide room for many of the station’s life support systems. The module was built in Turin, Italy, by Thales Alenia Space for the European Space Agency. Tranquiity features a cupola which will provide a multi-directional view of the exterior of the ISS. It will allow the crew to monitor spacewalks and docking operations, as well as provide a spectacular view of Earth and other celestial objects.
  • Dwayne Day has published an interesting essay on space fetishists (advocates of one size fits all solutions to space problems). A must read.

20 December 2009

  • Oleg Kotov (Russia), Timothy Creamer (NASA) and Soichi Noguchi (Japan) have launched on board the Russian Soyuz TMA-17 on Sunday, taking aim on the International Space Station (ISS) where they will join NASA’s Jeff Williams, commander of the Expedition 22 crew. The crew launched at 4:51pm Eastern from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
  • 30 years ago, on Christmas Eve, Arianespace launched its first Ariane rocket from its new spaceport at Kourou on the edge of the massive Amazon rain forest.

19 December 2009

  • Nature News takes note of a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, California where scientists report that as much as 50% of the plume shooting out of geysers on Saturn’s moon Enceladus could be ice. Previously, scientists had thought that only 10–20% of the plume was made up of ice, with the rest being water vapour.
  • NASASpaceFlight reports that “Capping off a highly successful year for the Space Shuttle Program, the STS-129 flight of Atlantis last month has undergone its final, official post-flight assessment: the all-important In-Flight Anomaly (IFA) review. In all, STS-129 was a clean flight, particularly for the vehicle’s Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs) and Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSMEs).”

18 December 2009

  • The seventh launch of the Ariane in 2009 by Arianspace put the HELIOS-2B satellite into a sun-synchronous polar orbit
  • XCOR announced that “The Yecheon Astro Space Center announced today that it has selected XCOR Aerospace as its preferred supplier of suborbital space launch services. Operating under a wet lease model, XCOR intends to supply services to the Center using the Lynx Mark II suborbital vehicle.”

17 December 2009

  • Amy Klamper at Spacenews.com thinks “New Direction for NASA Could Wait Until February”
  • The Ariane 5 launch of the HELIOS 2B satellite from French Guiana has been scrubbed.

16 December 2009

  • The Guardian has a report on planet orbiting a nearby star (smaller than the sun) that is nearly three times as large as Earth and made almost entirely of water, forming a global ocean more than 15,000km deep.
  • ATK successfully test fired the Orion capsule safety abort motor today.

15 December 2009

14 December 2009

  • The Russian space agency Roscosmos launched a venerable Proton rocket carrying three GLONASS-M satellites into orbit on December 14. Each 3,000-pound satellite is designed to last seven years.
  • The Wide-field Infra red Survey Explorer (WISE) lifted off from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base this morning, after the mission was delayed because of a problem with the spacecraft’s steering engine.

13 December 2009

  • On this day in 1965, Wally Schirra and Thomas Stafford in Gemini VIa and Frank Borman and James Lovell Jr. in Gemini VII were flying side by side 100 miles above the Earth. One held a sign “Beat ARMY” and out of the window on the other space craft you could read “Beat NAVY”.
  • The Gemenid Meteor Shower peaks tonight.

12 December 2009

  • The Financial Times features Burt Rutan. The 66 year old aerospace legend plans to beat any government to Mars
  • If all goes to plan, billionaire Richard Branson’s spaceships will take off with tourists on board in 2012 – from Kiruna in the far north of Sweden.

11 December 2009

  • Endeavor (STS-130) has arrived at the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) prior to mating with External Tank (ET-134) and the twin Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs). Launch is scheduled for early February on a 13 day mission to the International Space Station.
  • Europe’s Mars Express captured images of both Martian moons together at one time.

10 December 2009

  • NASA acknowledged that the mars rover Spirit’s right rear wheel may be inoperable. That would leave the rover with only four working wheels, and likely doom her to remain mired in the sand.
  • Paul Hill, the Director of NASA’s Mission Operations Directorate, hinted at an additional Space Shuttle flight, and discussed Commercial alternative launch vehicles.

9 December 2009

  • Arianespace has delayed the launch of the HELIOS 2B satellite for several days in order to replace a part in a launcher subsystem
  • NASA has succeeded in getting its Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter out of safe-mode, and expect to resume science experiments next week.

8 December 2009

  • NASA managers have confirmed they are considering adding STS-135 to the Shuttle manifest in late 2010 or early 2011. They would use Atlantis, which would mean one more flight for that venerable shuttle after STS-133.
  • BioEdOnline has the latest on four Painted Lady butterflies that emerged from their chrysalis aboard the International Space Station.

7 December 2009

  • Calculations by Diedrich Möhlmann of the German Aerospace Center in Berlin suggest that liquid water may collect temporarily below the Martian surface.
  • Scaled Composites unveiled SpaceShipTwo, designed to take tourists to the edge of space.

6 December 2009

  • The New Horizon spacecraft with be half-way to Pluto at the end of December.
  • A new configuration of the Delta IV rocket has launched on its maiden flight. The new Medium+ (5,4) variant was used to orbit the Wideband Global SATCOM 3 (WGS-3) satellite for the US Air Force.

5 December 2009

  • There is a 60% chance weather will again delay the launch of the Air Force communication satellite on board a Delta 4 rocket.
  • NASA’s MODIS satellite has this image of dust storms off the coast of West Africa.

4 December 2009

  • Gwenaël Boué and Jacques Laskar recently published a paper entitles “A collisionless scenario for Uranus tilting“. They propose a model wherein Uranus once possessed a moon with a mass of 1% of the planet and orbiting at a certain distance. This configuration could unbalance the spin of Uranus and the wobble would tilt the planet. The moon was subsequently ejected during an encounter with another planet.
  • Why we shouldn’t release all we know about the cosmos.
  • Troubles launching an Air Force satellite from Cape Canaveral has delayed the Vandenberg launch of the Delta 2 rocket that will carry NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE. WISE is designed to scan the whole sky in the infrared to find previously undetected celestial objects.

3 December 2009

  • The Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) spacecraft has been mated to its fairing in preparation for its scheduled 9 December launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. WISE will circle Earth over the Earth’s poles. During its nine months of operations, it will look for the coolest stars, dark asteroids and the most luminous galaxies.
  • The latest information from JPL on the efforts to free the Spirit rover. Dark days indeed.
  • “Safe Mode”. Another word for Ouch!!. Kepler experienced a safe mode event on Nov. 18, 2009. Engineers from Ames are working on the problem. No mission data was lost. Both Mars Orbiters are also in “Safe Mode”. See 2 December, below.

2 December 2009

  • The New Scientist reports that both of the Mars orbiters are out of commission, spelling problems for the two rovers. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) spontaneously rebooted in August for the fourth time this year, and has been on stand-by ever since. On Friday, 28 November, Mars Odyssey suffered a memory glitch and has been in “safe mode” pending resolution.
  • Bad weather has delayed the launch of an Air Force satellite aboard an Atlas rocket until Thursday, 3 December between 7:22 PM to 8:43 PM EST.
  • The Geminid Meteor shower will peak the night of 13/14 December, with as many as 50-80 meteors per hour.

1 December 2009

  • The Soyuz TMA-15 spacecraft is scheduled to undock from the International Space Station Monday at 10:56 PM EST. Soyuz Commander Roman Romanenko, European Space Agency Flight Engineer Frank De Winne and Canadian Space Agency Flight Engineer Bob Thirsk are slated for a landing in Kazakhstan at 2:15 AM EST Tuesday (1:15 p.m. Kazakhstan time) to conclude their 188 days in space, 186 days on the station.
  • The Tranquility module is set for delivery in 2010 by the Space Shuttle Endeavour’s STS-130 mission to the International Space Station. Thales Alenia Space in Turin Italy built Tranquility. The pressurized node will provide additional room for crew members and many of the space station’s life support and environmental control systems. These systems include air revitalization, oxygen generation and water recycling. A waste and hygiene compartment and a treadmill also will be relocated from other areas of the station.

Posted in European Space Agency, International Space Station, JAXA, Moon, NASA, Russian Space Agency, Solar System | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

November 2009

Posted by drdave on August 4, 2010

30 November 2009

29 November 2009

  • “MOSCOW, November 30 (RIA Novosti) – A launch of a Zenit carrier rocket with a U.S. telecommunications satellite originally scheduled for Sunday midnight has been delayed for technical reasons, a spokesman for Russia’s space agency Roscosmos said”. From RIA Novosti.
  • From our neighbor down south, the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson has another report on Jupiter’s moon Europa, and the likelihood of finding life thereupon.

28 November 2009

  • Butterflies in Orbit. The butterfly habitat will be transferred to the Space Station within the first 2-3 days of the STS – 129 mission. “About 100 elementary and middle school classrooms across the U.S. are participating in a pilot study by setting up ground-based habitats. Students will replicate the space experiment and compare the growth and behavior of their butterfly larvae with those living in the microgravity environment of space,” said Dr. Greg Vogt, senior project manager at Baylor College of Medicine’s (BCM) Center for Educational Outreach.
  • The European Space Agency (ESA) has released beautiful spectra from the Herschel spacecraft situated at SEL-2. Detailed analyses of these spectra provide insight into the physical and chemical composition of the objects. For example, see the results of the SPIRE spectrum of Canis Majoris. Herschel covers the full far infrared and submillimetre waveband.

27 November 2009

26 November 2009

  • HiRISE image of Gullies and Flow Features on a crater wall on Mars
  • An update on the “Hole-in-the-Moon” discovered by the Japanese spacecraft Kaguya and the associated lava tube. A ready to use Moon Base?

25 November 2009

  • Dark Matter may power your journey to the stars.
  • The Space Shuttle Atlantis has undocked from the International Space Station and is scheduled to return to Earth on Friday, 27 November 2009.

24 November 2009

  • A long, but fascinating, article about how we may have acquired many of the stars in our Zodiac in a giant, violent event 30 Million years ago.
  • A beautiful image of the Crab Nebula, which exploded in 1054 AD. This is a composite image from the Chandra X-Ray orbital telescope, the Hubble telescope in visible light and the Spitzer Space Telescope in the infrared.
  • Operation Plymouth Rock.

23 November 2009

  • 40 minutes from now (10:50 PM Phoenix time) you can get the latest updates on the Atlas 5 launch of the Intelsat 14 at the Forum at NASASpaceFlight.com. If you miss the live launch, get the details at the Intelsat 14 link.
  • The New Scientist reports that a dark matter galaxy may be crashing through the Milky Way.

22 November 2009

21 November 2009

  • Cassini makes its eighth flyby of Enceladus where the Composite Infrared Spectrograph (CIRS) instrument will make a map of thermal emissions from the tiger stripe at Baghdad Sulcus.
  • The Astronaut Hall of Fame in Titusville, Florida was the sight of NASA’s Astronaut Glove Centennial Challenge contest yesterday. Peter Homer of Southwest Harbor, Maine, won $250,000 for his glove, and Ted Southern of Brooklyn, New York won $100,000. Congratulations.
  • Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona and Pete Olson of Texas have dug in their heels and reiterated their backing of the doomed Constellation program. Even though Ares I is underpowered and technically challenged and Ares V is over weight and too costly to fly, both want to throw more money at it and hope for the best: “The United States needs to make clear to the rest of the world that we are not wavering” said Giffords. But costs will ultimately undo Constellation. Ares I has cost $8 Billion so far, and will ultimately cost four (4) times what human rating of commercial vehicles will cost, yielding a rocket with less capability than commercial vehicles. Apparently, the politicians are all-in to protect their constituents jobs and funding, but will likely lose the bet.

20 November 2009

19 November 2009

  • The first spacewalk of the mission began at 7:24 AM Phoenix time and will work on a number of maintenance tasks outside the International Space Station. Mike Foreman and Robert Satcher will install a spare communications antenna, route cables, and lubricate parts of the mobile base system and Kibo robotic arm.
  • NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, is scheduled to roll to the pad on Friday, Nov. 20, its last stop before launching into space to survey the entire sky in infrared light, sometime on or after 9 December 2009.
  • The Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 that spent 15 years taking amazing pictures on board the Hubble has been returned to Earth and will take up residence in the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington.

18 November 2009

17 November 2009

  • Good Leonid shower this morning, even in Phoenix (4:30 AM). In 15 minutes we saw 10 streaks, including one blue-green and a very bright white trail that left glowing debris for 5-10 seconds. But nothing compared to this one. As pretty as meteor showers are from Earth, they can be deadly for satellites.
  • Ouch! Time magazine has named the Ares I “The Invention of the Year”. Unfortunately for Time, there was no Ares I rocket launch this year. There was a space shuttle solid rocket booster with a lot of dummy components on top painted to look like an Ares I that was shot off last 28 October. Buzz Aldrin wrote a scathing review recently concerning the Ares program, labeling the $450 million launch a political stunt.

16 November 2009

15 November 2009

  • The Leonid meteor shower is set to peak Tuesday night. A well placed observer in Asia or Eastern Europe should see hundreds of meteors per hour. North Americans should see the shower just before dawn on Tuesday.
  • Fall colors in the Eastern United States, as seen from the Terra (EOS AM) and Aqua (EOS PM) satellites using the MODIS (or Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) instrument. Terra’s orbit around the Earth is timed so that it passes from north to south across the equator in the morning, while Aqua passes south to north over the equator in the afternoon.

14 November 2009

  • The Mars rover Spirit is stuck in a sand trap and may be doomed to remain there. The New Scientist has a review of the plucky life of Spirit.
  • The launch of the Atlas V carrying the Intelsat 14 communications satellite was scrubbed after a technical issue with its ORCA (Ordnance Remote Control Assembly).

13 November 2009

  • “We are ecstatic,” said Anthony Colaprete, LCROSS project scientist and principal investigator at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. “Multiple lines of evidence show water was present in both the high angle vapor plume and the ejecta curtain created by the LCROSS Centaur impact. The concentration and distribution of water and other substances requires further analysis, but it is safe to say Cabeus holds water.”
  • Rosetta completed its third and last fly-by and is headed toward the outer Solar System and its rendezvous with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

12 November 2009

11 November 2009

  • Armistice Day (for those of us who remember it). Veterans Day for all of us. A salute to all those who serve.
  • The Planetary Society has announced a series of three LightSail missions: “Our solar sail is back! The Planetary Society is building a spacecraft that will sail on sunlight alone by the end of 2010. “
  • Is Einstein’s theory of relativity wrong? Two spacecraft (Galileo and Rosetta) gained more speed on their past fly-bys of Earth than predicted. The next Rosetta fly-by on 13 November 2009 will be another test. A 1.1 millimeter per second of excess velocity has been predicted.

10 November 2009

  • A Soyuz rocket with the Poisk module for the International Space Station was successfully launched this morning. Docking is scheduled for Thursday at 10:44 EST.
  • Two missions are shaping up to explore the moons of Jupiter. See the discussion in this article in The New Scientist.

9 November 2009

  • A Soyuz rocket with the Poisk module for the International Space Station was erected Sunday for launch tomorrow at 9:22 EST (7:22 Phoenix). Docking is scheduled for Thursday at 10:44 EST.
  • Emily Lakdawalla of The Planetary Society will conduct two live classes in Space Image Processing: I. Images Are Data, tentatively scheduled for Friday, November 13, 2009 at 10:30 Pacific (18:30 UTC) and II. Getting Started with Space Image Data: Rover and Cassini Raw Images, tentatively scheduled for Thursday, November 19, 2009 at 10:30 Pacific (18:30 UTC). Reservations are limited, but the classes will be recorded and available for download.

8 November 2009

7 November 2009

6 November 2009

  • Wayne Hale comments on those who know “the price of everything and the value of nothing”.
  • Atlantis’ cargo, consisting of Express Logistics Carrier 1 and 2, holding about 28,000 pounds of supplies and spare parts for the International Space Station, are being loaded into the cargo bay, prior to the 16 November launch. These are critical parts.
  • Fast romp up the Space Elevator.

5 November 2009

  • Who says commercial launch vehicles are not human rated? NRO thinks several $Billion (with a $B) worth of satellites are safe with commercial ULA vehicles.
  • Gotta love a B-52 launching the X-38 lifting body. Check the mission decorations on the fuselage of the B-52.
  • The Mars Phoenix Lander has been imaged by HiRise in two images following the return of the Sun to the northern polar region of Mars – “July 30, 2009, (left image) and in Aug. 22, 2009 (right)”.

4 November 2009

  • While the concern is not new, the level of concern keeps rising – “A burgeoning blizzard of space debris is going to have a major impact on the future economics of space flight.”
  • Iron and Titanium on Mercury – the BBC reports on some of the results from the recent fly-by of Mercury by MESSENGER.
  • Astronomers have tracked down a gigantic, previously unknown assembly of galaxies. The filament is located about 6.7 billion light-years away from us and extends over at least 60 million light-years.

3 November 2009

  • You Tube has an aerial view of the Ares I-X flight.
  • The John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory will conduct a conference today at 1 PM EDT on the recent MESSENGER flyby of Mercury. The press kit is available here.
  • Dark Matter Stars in the earliest universe? Super Black Holes?

2 November 2009

  • NASA’s Cassini spacecraft made its deepest plunge yet into the plumes of Saturn’s moon Enceladus on Monday. The dive might reveal complex organic molecules that could hint at life.
  • We Have A Winnah!! Masten Space Systems has officially won the Lunar Lander Challenge.
  • The National Space Society “Ad Astra” program helped engineer Jorge Rivera prevail with the “Beanie Cap,” which prevents ice from forming on the Space Shuttle External Tank LOX vent, avoiding harm during launch. The tool came about because of his enthusiasm.

2 November 2009

  • The Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity, or SMOS, satellite was successfully launched early today aboard a Rockot launcher. The Rockot, made of retired ballistic missile parts, took off from Complex 133 at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome about 500 miles north of Moscow.
  • “Does the Final Frontier Have a Future? Debating America’s Next Steps in Human Space Flight,” will be the topic being hosted today by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). The discussion is free and open to the public, and takes place on Monday, November 2, at 1:00 p.m. in Room 106, Dirksen Senate Office Building, Constitution Ave. and 1st St. NE, Washington, D.C. Details.
  • The JAXA HTV-1 has de-orbited and burned up in the atmosphere after a successful 52 day stay.

1 November 2009

  • The Japanese Cargo Supply spacecraft HTV-1 undocked from the International Space Station and is scheduled to de-orbit and burn up in the atmosphere tomorrow with a load of trash.
  • The Soyuz TMA-17 was delivered by rail to Baikonur Cosmodrome for prelaunch processing. TMA-17 will launch the Expedition ISS-22/23 crew to the International Space Station. A large collection of photographs are at the link.
  • Interesting video from SOHO showing a class-C solar flare from sunspot 1029. From SpaceWeather.Com: “Last week alone, the sunspot produced ten C-class solar flares, more than tripling the number of flares in the previous 10 months. Sunspot 1029 is a member of long-overdue Solar Cycle 24.”

Posted in Asteroid, Comet, European Space Agency, International Space Station, Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, Moon, NASA, National Space Society, Russian Space Agency, Saturn, Space Shuttle | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »