NSS Phoenix Space News

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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