Posted by drdave on March 4, 2012
- China opened their 2012 commercial launch manifest with the lofting of the Apstar-7 into orbit. The launch took place at 10:27 UTC from the LC2 launch platform at the from the Xichang satellite Launch Center, using a Long March 3B/ (Chang Zheng-3B/E) launch vehicle.
- Technicians will load more than 1,000 pounds of food and clothing into SpaceX’s Dragon capsule next month for delivery to the International Space Station on the commercial craft’s first flight to the outpost. The cargo is comprised of mostly low-value items such as food, water, and clothing to supplement supplies delivered this week aboard Europe’s Automated Transfer Vehicle.
- After 45 years in service Russia’s Proton-K rocket has made its 311th and final launch Friday morning, on a mission to deploy an OKO early warning satellite for the Russian Aerospace Defense Forces with the aid of a Blok DM-2 upper stage. Launch was on schedule at 05:49 UTC (11:49 local time), from Area 81/24 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome.
- The launch of a classified satellite on a Delta 4 has been postponed to at least Monday to complete analysis of an upper-stage engine issue. The Delta 4 Medium-Plus (5,2) was originally scheduled to launch Thursday from Vandenberg Air Force Base on mission NROL-25.
- Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), the builder of the Falcon family of rockets and Dragon spacecraft, has announced the creation of a safety advisory panel for commercial, crewed space flight. SpaceX is one of the private companies that are working to return U.S. astronauts to orbit. SpaceX is developing its Dragon spacecraft to be used to ferry crews to the International Space Station (ISS).
- A Russian satellite operator has ordered two communications satellites from Astrium, including one that will replace a satellite deorbited over the weekend. Astrium will build the Express-AM4R and Express-AM7 satellites for Russian Satellite Communications Co. (RSCC), with the satellites planned for launch in 2014.
- After a busy 2011, the nation’s spy satellite agency will begin another spurt of launches that kicks off Thursday with a Delta 4 rocket carrying top-secret cargo from Vandenberg Air Force Base. Liftoff is planned for 3:30 p.m. from Space Launch Complex-6 on South Base.
- On Sunday, controllers deorbited a Russian communications satellite that was launched into the wrong orbit last year despite a last-minute bid to salvage the spacecraft. Polar Broadband Systems, sought to keep the satellite in orbit, moving it into an elliptical, inclined orbit to provide broadband communications services for Antarctica. However, Russian officials elected to proceed with the spacecraft’s deorbiting, and the spacecraft reentered over the North Pacific on Sunday.
- A chemical analysis of lunar rocks may force scientists to revise the leading theory for the Moon’s formation: that the satellite was born when a Mars-sized body smacked into the infant Earth some 4.5 billion years ago.
- Universe Today has a long report about experiments with Canada’s Dextre robot (highlight) and NASA’s Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM) aboard the ISS in March 2012. Four more upcoming RRM experiments tentatively set for this year will demonstrate the ability of a remote-controlled robot to remove barriers and refuel empty satellite gas tanks in space thereby saving expensive hardware from prematurely joining the orbital junkyard.
- International Launch Services (ILS) have launched their second Proton-M rocket of the year on Sunday. Lift off was on schedule at 12:10 GMT from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, with the Proton’s Briz-M Upper Stage tasked with deploying the Intelsat 22 telecommunications satellite into a 65,000 km super-synchronous transfer orbit for the first time under ILS.
- NASASpaceFlight reviews a possible mission to Near Earth Object 1999AO10, requiring a launch date of January 2, 2026. The NEO 1999AO10 deep space mission would last 155 days, around half of the mission length for the other candidate mentioned – 304 days – for NEO 2001 GP2.
- The crew of the International Space Station sheltered in their Soyuz capsules for a short time early Saturday as a precaution when a piece of orbital debris from a satellite collision passed close to the station. Station controllers awakened the six ISS crewmembers at about 11:30 pm EDT Friday (0330 UTC Saturday) after data indicated a piece of debris would pass close to the ISS.
- The Edoardo Amaldi, the third ATV from the European Space Agency, successfully lifted off from Kourou , and is on its way to the ISS.
- Aviation Week talks about European Space Agency Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain and his meeting with his Chinese counterpart March 22-23 to discuss future cooperation in manned spaceflight, including the potential for a Chinese Shenzhou spacecraft to dock with the International Space Station (ISS).
- ESA’s third Automated Transfer Vehicle, Edoardo Amaldi, is ready for launch to the International Space Station. Liftoff is 0434 UTC.
- MESSENGER completed its one-year primary mission on March 17. Since moving into orbit about Mercury a little over one year ago, the spacecraft has captured nearly 100,000 images and returned data that have revealed new information about the planet, including its topography, the structure of its core, and areas of permanent shadow at the poles that host the mysterious polar deposits.
- Space tourism company Virgin Galactic announced this week it has signed up a famous actor as its 500th customer for its suborbital spaceflights. Virgin said Monday that Ashton Kutcher is the customer number 500 for its upcoming SpaceShipTwo flights to space.
- The Ariane 5 launch of Europe’s no. 3 Automated Transfer Vehicle was given the green light today for a March 23 liftoff from the Spaceport in French Guiana on a servicing mission to the International Space Station.
- Bad weather has prompted NASA to reschedule the launch of five rockets from its Wallops Facility in Virginia. The rockets are part of a study of the upper-level jet stream. The launch had been set for Wednesday morning but has now been pushed back to early Thursday.
- Following the safe arrival of the MetOp-B weather satellite in Kazakhstan, the sophisticated craft is now being carefully assembled and tested before launch on 23 May. MetOp-B will provide essential data for weather forecasting and climate monitoring.
- The latest documentation relating to the efforts to create an Exploration Roadmap for NASA’s future has provided the strongest indication to date that the Agency wants to return US astronauts to the surface of the Moon. Listed as a Lunar Surface Sortie (LSS) mission, the Exploration Systems Development Division (ESD) revealed their plans via their latest Concept Of Operations (Con Ops) document.
- With Space Shuttle orbiter Discovery buttoned up in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) ahead of her flight to her retirement home, and with Enterprise ready to make way for Discovery and head to her new display site, the Shuttle team at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) is focused on finishing Transition and Retirement (T&R) work for Atlantis and Endeavour.
- European Space Agency (ESA) officials decided this week to continue their plans for a pair of ambitious Mars missions later this decade even after the US decided it would no longer cooperate on the missions. ESA members decided Thursday to pursue the ExoMars program, which calls for the 2016 launch of an orbiter and the 2018 launch of a lander and rover.
- As astronomy satellite that had been slated for launch this month will remain on the ground for up to two more months to correct a software problem, the space agency announced Friday. The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) spacecraft was slated to launch later this month on a air-launched Pegasus XL rocket from the Reagan Test Site (RTS) at Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific Ocean.
- Aviation Week notes that “An Astrium-built Russian satellite stranded in a useless orbit by a Proton launch mishap last summer may be salvaged to provide broadband satellite links to scientists working in Antarctica.”
- The ruling council of the European Space Agency (ESA) on March 15 agreed to continue funding a Mars telecommunications orbiter and atmospheric gas analyzer mission for launch in 2016, which along with an entry, descent and landing module will be launched on a Russian Proton rocket donated by the Russian space agency, an ESA official said March 15.
- United Technologies Corp. (UTC) of Hartford, Conn., said March 15 it intends to sell its rocket-propulsion business, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne. UTC said selling Rocketdyne will help finance its acquisition of aerospace systems and services vendor Goodrich Corp., Charlotte, N.C. Goodrich shareholders approved the takeover March 13.
- Elon Musk: “I would definitely like to go to Mars. I think it would be cool to be born on Earth and die on Mars,” he said as the night wrapped. “Hopefully, not at the point of impact.”
- Some astronauts who have spent extended time in space have suffered optical abnormalities that could affect their eyesight, scientists reported this week. In a paper published in the journal Radiology, researchers said a third of astronauts who spent time on long-duration missions to the ISS experienced symptoms such as flattening of the eyeball and bulging of the optic nerve that can affect eyesight. The cause of these symptoms isn’t clear but is thought to be linked to exposure to weightlessness.
- There have been heated arguments at Satellite 2012 conference concerning the decision to buy United Launch Alliance (ULA) rockets through 2020 in a block buy. ULA likes it, and SpaceX does not.
- FAA Issues Draft Environmental Assessment for SpaceShipTwo Powered Flights in Mojave
- Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne tested its launch abort engine it is developing for a spacecraft to take humans to the International Space Station. The engine is designed to push the seven-person Crew Space Transportation-100 to safety in the event that an abort is necessary. The CST-100 is being built by Boeing for NASA’s Commercial Crew Development program.
- SpaceX hopes to be ready to launch an unmanned Dragon capsule from Cape Canaveral on April 30, putting it on course to berth at the International Space Station three days later, according to tweets from the Satellite 2012 conference in DC. A NASA spokesman said an official target launch date would not be set until the conclusion of a flight-readiness review now planned for April 12.
- The Orion Program is continuing to push forward at a lively pace, as the first MPCV (Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle) set to launch into space heads into the final pathfinder welds, ahead of closeout work. While work continues on the Exploration Flight Test -1 (EFT-1) Orion, the critical parachute system is set for another drop test in April, following its recent success at the end of February.
- Commercial launch providers Arianespace and Sea Launch announced a total of three new launch contracts on Monday. Arianespace announced it won a contract from Eutelsat and Es’hailSat, the Qatar Satellite Company, to launch the Eutelsat 25B/Es’hail 1 satellite on an Ariane 5. The satellite, weighing over six tons, is being built by Space Systems/Loral and is scheduled for launch in the second quarter of 2013. Sea Launch announced it had secured a contract for another Eutelsat satellite, Eutelsat 70B.
- Canada’s Dextre robotic space helper, working with NASA’s Robotic Refuelling Mission (RRM) experiment, have together completed a record breaking week of robotics operations on the International Space Station (ISS), a week which saw the first ever attempt at satellite servicing tasks successfully performed in space.
- “Given current funding levels,” Mr. Bolden said in written testimony, “we anticipate the need to purchase [Russian] crew transportation and rescue capabilities into 2017.” The commercial U.S. space taxis were originally envisioned to be in service by early 2016.
- SpaceX and NASA are in advanced discussions for the private space firm to use Kennedy Space Center’s pad 39A, one of the spaceport’s Apollo and space shuttle launch sites, as the Florida base for its Falcon Heavy rocket, officials said.
- In a week that has seen the strong class X solar flares, the sunspot region AR1429 unleashed two class M flares yesterday at 0527 UTC and 1744 UTC, according to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
- NASA has not yet asked the Russian Federal Space Agency to sign a contract to use Russian Soyuz spacecraft to ferry U.S. astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS) from 2016 to 2017, Roscosmos manned flight programs director Alexei Krasnov told Interfax-AVN on Sunday. “The contract signed by us is valid through 2015. But this contract has not been prolonged for 2016-2017, and negotiations on prolonging it are not being held at the moment. Should NASA need to use our Soyuz [spacecraft] to deliver its astronauts over this period of time, I think they will notify us of it, will come up with such an initiative,” Krasnov said.
- Iron-rich fragments from an ancient impact could explain puzzling magnetic fields measured in various places on the moon. The magnetic anomalies are perplexing because unlike metallic minerals deposited by an asteroid, normal lunar rocks cannot record a magnetic field.
- Need a Job? They’re Hiring in Mojave(Doug Messier). There are several hundred open positions in Mojave as companies such as the Spaceship Company, XCOR and Scaled Composites begin to ramp up operations. “It’s ironic that we’re having a recruitment problem in Mojave,” said Stu Witt, CEO and general manager of the Mojave Air and Space Port. He added that this is a good problem to have.
- ESA’s third Automated Transfer Vehicle, scheduled for launch on an Ariane 5 from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana on 23 March at 04:31 UTC, is planned to dock with the International Space Station five days later. The precise time of docking automatically dock with the Station’s Russian Zvezda module will be known after launch.
- The head of NASA visited Capitol Hill on Wednesday, making separate appearances in House and Senate hearings to support the agency’s 2013 budget request. Charles Bolden appeared before hearings of the Senate Commerce Committee and House Science Committee, fielding questions about the $17.7-billion budget proposed for the space agency in the next fiscal year. Much of the debate at the hearings was about the request for nearly $830 million for NASA’s commercial crew program, a sharp increase from the $406 million the program received in 2012 but similar to the original budget request that year. Bolden said the funding was needed to keep the effort on track to start providing service no later than 2017.
- China’s Shenzhou 9 mission to dock with the Tiangong space station has been surrounded by controversy and confusion, including uncertainty over unmanned or manned, and continuing slippage of the launch date for this complex mission.
- NASA models using data from the Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) and the Solar Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) have now provided more information about the two Coronal Mass Ejections (CME) associated with the two March 6 flares. The first is traveling faster than 1300 miles per second; the second more than 1100 miles per second. NASA’s models predict that the CMEs will impact both Earth and Mars, as well as pass by several NASA spacecraft – Messenger, Spitzer, and STEREO-B. The models also predict that the leading edge of the first CME will reach Earth at about 1:25 AM EST on the morning of March 8 (plus or minus 7 hours).
- Neil deGrasse Tyson gets raked over the coals at the Atlantic for his take on NASA, its budget and its mission. Yikes.
- A dust devil on Mars was captured by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
- Metop-B, the European operational polar orbiting weather satellite designed and manufactured by Astrium, recently left the clean room at the European space industry leader’s site in Toulouse. Metop-B was prepared for shipping to the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, where a Soyuz launcher will place it in orbit with Starsem. The target launch date is 23 May 2012.
- NASA has successfully conducted another drop test of the Orion crew vehicle’s entry, descent and landing parachutes high above the Arizona desert in preparation for the vehicle’s orbital flight test in 2014.
- Dish Network Corp.’s hopes to start building a new wireless network have been dealt a setback by the Federal Communications Commission, which denied the satellite-TV provider’s request for a needed waiver and opted instead for a formal deliberation that will take until the end of the year.
- A Department of Defense official urged his colleagues in 2010 to “synch up” with the GPS industry in order to defeat LightSquared’s plans to build the nation’s first wholesale broadband network.
- The European Space Agency announced Friday that it has delayed the upcoming launch of an ISS cargo spacecraft in order to perform additional checks on the vehicle’s contents. The ATV-3 spacecraft, also called Edoardo Amaldi, was scheduled to launch March 9 on an Ariane 5 from Kourou, French Guiana. The delay is expected to be about two weeks.
- An upgraded Long March-2F carrier rocket has completed assembling and is ready for China’s first manned space docking due between June and August this year
- A SpaceX rocket scheduled to launch a cargo demonstration mission to the ISS this spring successfully completed a dress rehearsal of its launch on Thursday. SpaceX performed the “wet dress rehearsal” of its upcoming Falcon 9 launch on Thursday, rolling the rocket and its Dragon spacecraft to the pad at Cape Canaveral, fueling it, and performing a countdown all the way to the T-5 mark. SpaceX officials said the practice countdown went well.
- Technicians at Vandenberg Air Force Base in central California are placing the two halves of the rocket nose cone, or fairing, around NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR), in preparation for its launch. The launch is scheduled for no earlier than March 21.
- NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has “sniffed” molecular oxygen ions around Saturn’s icy moon Dione for the first time, confirming the presence of a very tenuous atmosphere. The oxygen ions are quite sparse – one for every 0.67 cubic inches of space (one for every 11 cubic centimeters of space) or about 2,550 per cubic foot (90,000 per cubic meter) – show that Dione has an extremely thin neutral atmosphere.
- Astronomers have spotted young stars in the Orion nebula changing right before their eyes, thanks to the European Space Agency’s Herschel Space Observatory and NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. The colorful specks — developing stars strung across the image — are rapidly heating up and cooling down, speaking to the turbulent, rough-and-tumble process of reaching full stellar adulthood.
- Researchers at the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC) at Stanford University estimate that “nomad” planets, ejected from their home stellar system and now free-floating through the Milky Way, could outnumber stars by as many as 100,000 to 1.
- The planned March 6 launch of the SiriusXM FM-6 digital radio satellite aboard an International Launch Services (ILS) Proton rocket has been scrapped following concerns of a solar-array defect aboard the Space Systems/Loral-built satellite.
Posted in Asteroid, Canadian Space Agency, China, Commercial Space, Earth, European Space Agency, International Space Station, Mars, Meteor, Milky Way, Moon, NASA, Roscosmos, Saturn, Space Shuttle, Star, Sun | Tagged: 1999AO10, 2001 GP2, Apstar-7, Ariane 5, Arianespace, Asteroid, Astrium, Atlantis, Atmospheric Gas Analyzer, ATV-3, Automated Transfer Vehicle, Baikonur, Blok DM-2, Boeing, Bolide, Cassini, Chang Zheng-3B/E, CME, Coronal Mass Ejection, Crew Space Transportation-100, CST100, Delta IV 5 2, Department of Defense, Dextre, Dione, Discovery, Draft Environmental Assessment, Draft Environmental AssessmentDragon, Dragon, Edoardo Amaldi, Endeavour, Enterprise, European Space Agency, Eutelsat 25B/Es'hail 1, Eutelsat 70B, ExoMars, Express-AM4R, Express-AM7, FAA, Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, French Guiana, Goddard Space Flight Center, GPS, Herschel Space Observatory, High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, HiRISE, ILS, International Launch Services, International Space Station, ISS, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, JPL, Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology, Kennedy Space Center, KIPAC, Kourou, Kwajalein Atoll, LightSquared, Long March 3B, March-2F, Mars, Mars Telecommunications Orbiter, Meteor, Metop-B, Milky Way, Mojave Air and Space Port, Moon, MPCV, Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, NASA, Near Earth Object, NEO, NROL-25, Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, NuSTAR, OKO, Orion, Pad 39A, Pegasus, Pegasus XL, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, Proton, Proton-K, Proton-M, Reagan Test Site, Robotic Refueling Mission, Robotic Refuelling Mission, Roscosmos, RRM, RSCC, RTS, Russian Satellite Communications Co., Saturn, Scaled Composites, Sea launch, Shenzhou, Shenzhou 9, SiriusXM FM-6, SOHO, Solar Heliospheric Observatory, Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory, Soyuz, Spaceship Company, SpaceShipTwo, SpaceX, Spitzer Space Telescope, Stanford University, STEREO, Tiangong, ULA, Unbound Planet, United Launch Alliance, United Technologies Corp., UTC, VAB, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Vehicle Assembly Building, Wallops Island Facility, X-37B, Xcor | Leave a Comment »
Posted by drdave on August 4, 2010
31 October 2009
- Headlines in the space news world will talk about Masten coming from behind with only minutes to spare to beat Armadillo. See the details. Also here for Jonathon Goff’s comments.
- LROC continues with spectacular views of the Moon. Frozen Impact Melt on the far side of the Moon.
- A NASA press release announced the upcoming transfer of the Tranquility pressurized module from the the European Space Agency to NASA. Tranquility will provide room for many of the station’s life support systems. Attached to the node is a cupola, a unique work station with windows on its six sides and top. The module will be delivered to the station during space shuttle Endeavour’s STS-130 mission, targeted for launch Feb. 4, 2010.
30 October 2009
- The JAXA HTV-1 resupply spacecraft is set to depart the ISS with the latest garbage dump and burn up in the atmosphere.
- NASA is working to recover the Ares I-X first stage. One of the three parachutes collapsed, and the lower segment of the rocket buckled, possibly on impact with the ocean.
- BOOM. Two teams report in Nature on a gamma-ray burst that occurred a mere 630 million years after the Big Bang (that’s 13.1 billion years ago). It is the youngest gamma-ray burst ever seen. The previous youngest burst happened 825 million years after the Big Bang.
29 October 2009
- LROC unveils Apollo 17 landing site. Great resolution.
- The most distant object in the universe.
- Give credit where credit is due. NASA launched its first new rocket in thirty years. Successfully. Lots to be learned from the data. Cheers.
- “Ruh Roh”. Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is still in “Safe” mode after six weeks. Engineers are now working to create a safeguard against that worst-case scenario as well as finding the cause of the mysterious voltage signals.
28 October 2009
- The scrubbed launch of Ares I-X is now scheduled for launch on Wednesday. There is a four-hour launch window, extending from 8 a.m. until 12 noon EDT. See NASA TV.
- The number of close encounters between objects in orbit will rise 50 per cent in the next decade, and quadruple by 2059. Countermeasures will add greatly to the cost of future missions.
- Good news for America’s Space Exploration program. “Representatives from most of the 27 member governments of the European Union (EU) on Oct. 23 expressed support for a major, if still undefined, financial investment in space exploration alongside the European Space Agency (ESA) but conceded it will take a year before they are ready to set firm budget and policy goals. Meeting here as part of the EU-ESA International Conference on Human Space Exploration, they said that by late 2010 they should be able to make initial decisions on a space exploration roadmap that includes robotic and manned missions in collaboration with the United States, Russia, Japan and other nations including China and India. They also acknowledged that the United States, which they view as the natural coordinator of a major exploration initiative, will need the next 12 months to align U.S. space exploration objectives with NASA’s likely budget.”
27 October 2009
- Following the announcement of a hole on the Moon into a sub-lunar lava tube (see below 23 October), comes the announcement of a similar find on Mars. Glen Cushing, a physicist with the US Geological Survey, discovered the series of “collapse depressions” in extinct lava flows from a Martian volcano.
- NASA publishes a list of upcoming launches.
- In a case of being in the right place at the right time, the MESSENGER spacecraft was able to capture an average-sized solar flare, allowing astronomers to study high-energy solar neutrons at less than 1 astronomical unit (AU) from the sun for the first time.
26 October 2009
- The Ares I-X is scheduled for launch on Tuesday. There is a four-hour launch window, extending from 8 a.m. until 12 noon EDT. If weather scrubs Tuesday’s attempt, the launch team will try again on Wednesday, maintaining the same launch window.
- Jeff Foust has a discussion about political and other perspectives of the Augustine Commission Report on The Space Review.
25 October 2009
- The Orlando Sentinel has an interview with Jeff Greason from the Augustine Commission: “It’s time to base U.S. space policy on the “truth”
- “A plethora of boulders surrounds braided flows of impact melt along the inside wall of crater Epigenes A.” Latest LROC image.
- Neat images on Astronaut Nicole Stott’s Blog.
24 October 2009
- Follow NASA on your iPhone with the NASA App. The App delivers up-to-the-minute NASA content directly from Agency sources in one easy-to-use mobile platform.
- Interested in the missions to Mars over the past 50 years? Check out this poster.
- Two ESA satellites are set for launch on 2 November 2009 from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia. SMOS will provide the data to produce global maps of soil moisture at least every three days and global maps of sea-surface salinity averaged over 30 days. Proba-2 incorporates a total of 17 technology developments and four scientific experiments that focus on solar and space weather.
23 October 2009
- A deep hole on the Moon that could open into a vast underground tunnel has been found for the first time.
- NASA has begun to shift focus toward longer range research in technology.
- JPL has completed operational testing of procedures to extract Spirit from the soft sand it became trapped in five months ago. “Current plans call for an independent panel to review Spirit driving plans in late October, following analysis of results from the readiness test. Unless that review recommends any further preparations, Spirit will probably begin extraction moves within two weeks after the review.”
22 October 2009
21 October 2009
- The New Scientist rates the five options of the Augustine Commission.
- The Russians are preparing to launch the Mini-Research Module 2, or MRM 2, aboard a Soyuz rocket on Nov. 10 at 1422 GMT (9:22 a.m. EST) for attachment to the International Space Station
20 October 2009
- NASA rolled out the Ares I-X rocket to the launch pad early this morning.
- Ames Research Center has announced the winners of the Regolith Excavation Challenge, held on Oct. 17-18, 2009. Competitors were required to use mobile, robotic digging machines capable of excavating at least 330 pounds of simulated moon dirt, known as regolith, and depositing it into a container in 30 minutes or less. The winning excavator lifted 1,103 pounds within the allotted time.
- The Orionid Meteor Shower will be in full swing tonight. Observers in the Northern Hemisphere will see around 20 meteors per hour at maximum, while observers in the Southern Hemisphere will see around 40 meteors per hour. Best viewing is thought to be around 3:00 AM Phoenix time.
19 October 2009
- The Augustine Commission is expected to release its final report on Wednesday, 21 October 2009.
- On Monday, Oct. 19 at 3pm PDT, Mr. David Thompson will join Conrad Foundation’s The Exchange webinar to discuss his thoughts on what innovation means for the Aerospace Industry, and the AIAA winners of Aerospace Exploration and Space Nutrition challenge categories. Registration is open to the public.
- NASA postponed the roll-out of the ARES I-X from this morning to tomorrow morning. Live NASA Television coverage with commentary will start at 11:45 p.m., Oct. 19
- It is expected that approval of the Range Safety waiver for the Flight Termination System on the Ares I-X rocket will be granted.
18 October 2009
17 October 2009
- NASA announced that the shepherding spacecraft did capture the plume from the impact of the Centaur rocket. “With the spacecraft returning data until virtually the last second, the thermal and near-infrared cameras returned excellent images of the Centaur impact crater at a resolution of less than 6.5 feet (2 m). The images indicate that the crater was about 92 feet (28 m) wide.”
- Sometimes progress is fast, but the results are slow coming to light. Hubble observations taken Dec. 9 and 10, 2005, showed Xena’s diameter as 1,490 miles (with an uncertainty of 60 miles), while Pluto has a diameter of 1442 miles. That makes the “tenth” planet the ninth largest.
- NASA has released this Cassini image of Janus, one of the moons of Saturn.
16 October 2009
- NASA has released the first all sky map from its Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) spacecraft, showing the solar System’s interaction with the Milky Way’s interstellar medium.
- The 2009 Regolith Excavation Challenge Oct. 17-18, with a $750,000 prize, will pit 23 teams using robots they designed and built to excavate simulated lunar soil. To qualify, a robot must dig up at least 330 pounds of regolith and deposit it into a container in 30 minutes.
- ESA astronaut Frank De Winne took over the command of the International Space Station – the first non-American and non-Russian to take on this role.
- In an Op-Ed article in the Wall Street Journal, thirteen former astronauts urged NASA to let commercial space firms handle crew to low Earth orbit. They quote Sally Ride, from the Augustine Commission, “We would like to be able to get NASA out of the business of getting people to low Earth orbit.”
15 October 2009
- Spectacular fireball over the Netherlands.
- The Planetary Society has the latest Mars rover updates for Spirit and Opportunity.
- European Space Agency (ESA) reports that an Engineering Test Unit (ETU), a test model of ESA’s Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) for the James Webb Space Telescope has been completed and will be shipped to NASA.
- Robert Bigelow’s open letter to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden about commercial cargo and crew launch.
14 October 2009
- NASA has announced an update to the IBEX Mission (Interstellar Boundary Explorer). A briefing will be held Thursday, 15 October 2009
- From the Orlando Sentinel: “People are very worried [our] efforts are a threat to Constellation rather than an enabler,” says Ken Bowersox, a former astronaut hired by Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX). “We don’t want to compete like that. We want to enable. We want to provide a cheap way to get to station so you can spend money to do the exciting exploration things”. Liberate the NASA exploration program from mundane tasks.
- Bunk: Apolinario Chile Pixtun, a Mayan Indian elder, is tired of being bombarded with frantic questions about the Mayan calendar supposedly “running out” on Dec. 21, 2012. “I came back from England last year and, man, they had me fed up with this stuff.”
13 October 2009
12 October 2009
- National Geographic “Map of the Day” – 50 Years of Solar System Missions.
- The Hubble Space Telescope was focused on the Moon Friday morning when the LCROSS Centaur stage and the shepherding spacecraft impacted the Moon. There was no immediate indication of the impact and additional processing is expected.
- The 60th International Astronomical Congress will be held this week in Korea. NASA Administrator Gen. Charles Bolden will attend, although he has expressed his trepidation about being abroad when the Augustine Commission releases its final report.
- Rockets and Such – we are back wandering in the desert
11 October 2009
- Read Eric Berger’s interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson. Tyson says “The question is: What’s the value of visible projects by NASA in the overall portfolio to the hearts and minds of Americans? I think we have to do it, otherwise we should just close up shop and watch the rest of the world lead us into the future.”
- A Russian cosmonaut, an American astronaut and the world’s first space clown departed the International Space Station and returned to Earth, winding up their expeditions to the orbiting outpost.
- ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Frank De Winne has become the first European commander of the International Space Station this weekend. The current commander Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka has left the ISS on board Soyuz TMA-16.
- Mars rover Spirit is in day 2049 of it 90 day mission and Opportunity is in day 2028 of its 90 day mission. Both are well outside their warranty date. Spirit has traveled 7,729.93 meters, and Opportunity has traveled an incredible 17,962.44 meters.
10 October 2009
- ESA (European Space Agency) Director-General Jean-Jacques Dordain told the 18-nation agency’s ruling council he expects to finalize an agreement with NASA by mid-November for a 2016 launch of a 600-kilogram ESA lander that will include exobiology experiments, and a 2018 mission. NASA will supply two Atlas V rockets and will feature ESA’s rover deployed to the Mars surface by the same Sky Crane system — with the rover, attached by chord to the descent module, gently lowered to the surface — that NASA plans to use for its large Mars Science Laboratory rover to be launched in 2011.
- The LRO Diviner instrument obtained infrared observations of the LCROSS impact this morning. LRO flew by the LCROSS Centaur impact site 90 seconds after impact at a distance of ~80 km.
- Space Daily that the ocean on Jupiter’s moon Europa contains enough oxygen to support life.
9 October 2009
- Prepare for the LCROSS impact on the Moon. Live NASA web coverage at 6:30 AM EDT, Friday (Yes, that’s 3:30 AM Phoenix time). Impact is at 4:31 AM Phoenix time.
- NASA Administrator Charles Bolden: “We should not fool ourselves. We should not pretend that if we decide we’re going to take a break from human spaceflight that nobody’s going to do that. That’s not going to happen … China, Russia — they’re the natural leaders and they will ascend to leadership.”
- The New Scientist reports that while Apophis is less likely to impact the Earth in 2036, 2068 is looming as a threat.
8 October 2009
- The Augustine Commission holds its final public session via phone conference call at 10:00 AM Phoenix time. A link to the streaming audio may be found half way down on this page. Toll-free number: 1-888-373-5705 Participant Passcode: 190078
- NASA has released the refined orbit of the asteroid APOPHIS. The risk of its hitting Earth in 2036 has been reduced dropped from one-in-45,000 to about one-in-250,000.
- Masten Space Systems completed their Level 1 flight in the Lunar Lander Challenge and are awaiting a final ruling by the judges. All looks good.
7 October 2009
- NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has found a GIANT ring around Saturn. GIANT.
- ITAR reform is needed to expand U.S. exports and competitiveness.
- Boeing and Energia have announced plans to build a future common docking system.
6 October 2009
- Dr. Steve Squyres (Cornell University) has been awarded the Carl Sagan Medal by the American Astronomical Society for his work explaining the Mars Exploration Rover mission to millions of people.
- SpaceX has announced completion of acceptance testing of both the Falcon 9 first and second stages in preparation for the first flight of Falcon 9.
- Opportunity, one of two Mars rovers and now in its fifth year of a 90 day mission, has discovered another meteorite on the Martian surface.
5 October 2009
- World Space Week. “The theme this year is Space for Education. Teachers can inspire students by using the excitement of space. It’s a powerful tool to fuel their motivation to learn.”
- Dr. David Livingston’s The Space Show – “The Monday, Oct. 5, 2009, 11 AM-12:30 PM PDT Program is the special AIAA/Space Show Augustine Commission panel discussion featuring Bob Dickman, “Doc” Horowitz, Frank Culbertson, John Klineberg, Elliot Pulham, and Harrison Schmitt.” Listen Live.
- Humor – “Seti Fails“
4 October 2009
- Today is the 50th anniversary of the launch of Luna 3, the first to photograph the lunar farside. Details of Luna 3 are here.
- The Star Wars in Concert has performances at 2 PM and 7 PM today, Sunday.
- NASA has released the latest images from the Herschel Infrared space telescope. One of the images “reveals a cold and turbulent region where material is just beginning to condense into new stars. It is located in the plane of our Milky Way galaxy, 60 degrees from the center. Blue shows warmer material, red the coolest, while green represents intermediate temperatures. The red filaments are made up of the coldest material pictured here — material that is slightly warmer than the coldest temperature theoretically attainable in the universe”. Check in with Phil Plait and his observations at Bad Astronomy.
- The European Space Agency (ESA) continues work on the Advanced Re-entry Vehicle. The vehicle is large enough to eventually give ESA access to the International Space Station for a crew of four.
3 October 2009
2 October 2009
- The Soyuz spacecraft docked with the International Space Station at 1:35 AM Phoenix time today, Friday, after executing a rendezvous burn Thursday. Image of the combined members of expedition 20 and 21.
- Jeff Greason, reflecting on his experience with the Augustine commission, said that with NASA overhead at $6-7 billion a year, “The bottom line is that they can’t afford to keep the doors open with they money they’ve got, let alone do anything with it.”
- A German team – c-base Open Moon Team – has entered the Google Lunar X PRIZE.
- The latest rumor about the release of the Augustine Commission final report comes from the Huntsville Times.
1 October 2009
- The fifth Ariane 5 of the year is poised to launch between 14:59 and 16:10 Phoenix time today, Thursday. Watch live launch coverage.
- Discover.com reports on a minor power glitch suffered by the Messanger spacecraft while making its third pass by Mercury prior to settling into orbit in 2011. glitch
- Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) is working on a concept that replaces large satellites with clusters of wirelessly-linked modular spacecraft flying in loose formation has the potential to drive cultural change, Aviation Week reports.
- NASA has released a study of the Scientific work done at the International Space Station during its first eight years.
- Soyuz TMA-16, launched yesterday, is scheduled to reach the International Space Station tomorrow, Friday, 2 October 2009.
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