Archive for the ‘Missions’ Category
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Spotted this on Americaspace.com-
When one thinks of the terror attacks of 9/11 one generally does not think of NASA. However, there are several ties that tie the space agency with that tragic day. Some are commonly known, others have hardly been mentioned. As with so many other individuals and organizations 9/11 impacted NASA as well.
Frank Culberton Jr. was the commander of the Expedition 3 crew orbiting aboard the International Space Station when the terror attacks of 9/11 took place. As with most Americans he was shocked, horrified and angry by what he saw from his vantage point some 240 miles above the surface of our world. But more than any other American he was isolated and helpless.
His crewmates, both Russian cosmonauts did what they could to support him during this time (one went so far as to prepare his favorite meal for dinner that evening). Russian ground controllers also tried to ease Culbertson’s pain relaying what information they could to him when the ISS was out of range of U.S. communications assets…
News is out about what happened to the Soyuz that failed Aug 24.
From the BBC-
The Russian space agency says a rocket that failed while carrying cargo to the International Space Station on 24 August had a production line defect.
A blocked duct cut the fuel supply to the Soyuz-U’s third-stage, causing its engine to shut down prematurely, Roskosmos said in a statement.
The Soyuz failed to put into orbit its cargo ship, which fell back to Earth.
Since the US space shuttle was retired in July, the Russian rockets have become the key link to the station.
This should drive the conspiracy theory folks crazy. How to explain new, sharper photos of Apollo sites (I guess they will just think they were faked too!)
NASA today released new high-resolution views of three Apollo moon landing sites, sent back by Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.
“We all like to obsess and look at the Apollo landing site images because it’s fun,” said Arizona State University’s Mark Robinson, principal investigator for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera, or LROC. “People actually used to be able to go to the moon. People used to explore the moon. Hopefully, sometime in the near future, that will continue again. But LROC is looking at the whole moon.”
LRO’s high-resolution camera has been looking at the whole moon, including all six of the Apollo landing sites, for the past two years. But these particular images are special because they were taken from the closest vantage point the orbiter will ever have during its $504 million mission. Because of adjustments in the car-sized probe’s orbit, lately it’s been flying as low as 14 miles (22 kilometers) above the lunar surface…
SpaceX’s next mission is to the International Space Station.
The Hawthorne, Calif.-based private rocket maker said Monday its Dragon capsule will launch on Nov. 30 on a cargo test run to the orbiting outpost. SpaceX said the launch will be followed by a station docking more than a week later.
With the space shuttle fleet retired, NASA is depending on private companies like SpaceX to handle space station supply runs and astronaut rides. Until then, the space agency is paying for trips aboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft…
Observations from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have revealed possible flowing water during the warmest months on Mars.
“NASA’s Mars Exploration Program keeps bringing us closer to determining whether the Red Planet could harbor life in some form,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said, “and it reaffirms Mars as an important future destination for human exploration.”
Dark, finger-like features appear and extend down some Martian slopes during late spring through summer, fade in winter, and return during the next spring. Repeated observations have tracked the seasonal changes in these recurring features on several steep slopes in the middle latitudes of Mars’ southern hemisphere.
“The best explanation for these observations so far is the flow of briny water,” said Alfred McEwen of the University of Arizona, Tucson. McEwen is the principal investigator for the orbiter’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) and lead author of a report about the recurring flows published in Thursday’s edition of the journal Science…
From Nasa.gov last Friday-
The four STS-135 astronauts and their family members who came to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for yesterday’s landing and completion of the Space Shuttle Program’s final mission returned home to Houston this afternoon. The public is invited to attend a welcome home ceremony at 4 p.m. CDT in NASA’s Hangar 990 at Ellington Field. Gates to Ellington Field will open at 3:30 p.m. The ceremony will be broadcast live on NASA TV and online at www.nasa.gov/ntv.
Space shuttle Atlantis was towed into Kennedy’s Orbiter Processing Facility-2 following yesterday’s employee appreciation event. Technicians will spend the next few weeks reconfiguring Atlantis after its final flight. Today, they will finish readying the shuttle and its hangar for the normal post-flight processing and begin draining residual cryogenic reactants. They’ll continue deservicing work through the weekend.
Atlantis touched down yesterday on the Shuttle Landing Facility’s Runway 15 at 5:57 a.m. EDT. The landing brought to a close 30 years of space shuttle flights.
“Although we got to take the ride,” said Commander Chris Ferguson on behalf of his crew, ” we sure hope that everybody who has ever worked on, or touched, or looked at, or envied or admired a space shuttle was able to take just a little part of the journey with us…”
NASA’s shuttle Atlantis and the eerie green glow of the Southern Lights serve as a dazzling sight in a new photo snapped by astronauts from the International Space Station.
The photo was taken Thursday (July 14) by an astronaut on the space station during NASA’s final shuttle mission, the STS-135 flight of Atlantis.
The image offers a panoramic view of Atlantis, the space station and the Earth as the two linked spacecraft soared in orbit at about 17,500 mph.
“Aurora Australis or the Southern Lights can be seen on Earth’s horizon and a number of stars are visible also,” NASA officials said in a photo description. The image’s long exposure led to streaks in Earth’s clouds, giving it a sense of speed…
Atlantis is docked with the ISS for the last time. Nearly a million people went to see the launch. The news that the Shuttle Program is about to wrap up has prompted many articles and opinions. Let’s see what people are saying-
“NASA’s Shuttle Era Winds Down With Bittersweet Moments, Grocery Run,” from the PBS Newshour (Miles O’Brien speaking)-
…And, so, the shuttle has learned in — and helped us learn, in a sense, the limits of our technological reach and capability. It’s taught NASA a lesson about what happens when you try to cut costs in the design, the capital costs up front, make compromises in that, which ultimately lead to higher operating costs. That is the downside of it.
The upside is it successfully completed the International Space Station, a $100 billion project. It’s now classified as a national laboratory. And, who knows, they might come up with some scientific breakthroughs up there. They are just beginning to scratch the surface on science there.
So, we don’t know yet, but the shuttle era made that space station possible. Now it’s time for NASA to think about moving on and exploring and reaching toward Mars…
“What’s next for U.S. space program?” from the Boston Herald-
“NASA was always underfunded, always had its budget cut by $1 (billion) to $2 billion a year, so the Constellation project was always being delayed and downsized, so that it was years behind schedule,” Benaroya said.
“This president was not interested in space,” he said. “He wanted to privatize it, which I support, but there are certain things which corporations cannot do. And sending men to the moon is not what they can do, because we need five to 10 years of research to do it, and there is no profit to be had there.”
Despite the loss of the Constellation Project and now the space shuttle program, the United States is still active in space…
“End of an era: Space shuttle Atlantis launched,” from the The Miami Herald-
…The shuttle program was designed in the late 1970s to carry large crews and lots of cargo into space, stay a long time and service other vessels. During the program’s 135 flights, Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Endeavour and Atlantis built the space station, a 9,000-pound research lab in the stars. Two decades ago, it launched the Hubble Telescope, and, in 1989, carried the astronauts and cargo that would map the surface of Venus.
But promises of a quick and frequent space program fell short, and costs climbed to more than $1 billion per trip. Two disasters, the Challenger in 1986 and Columbia in 2003, proved it wasn’t as safe as scientists had planned, either. Of the 335 people who traveled 537 million miles, 14 died.
President George W. Bush canceled the program in 2004 in the wake of the Columbia explosion, and President Barack Obama scrapped the Constellation program that took its place. The worldwide space race was left with one less runner.
The United States will pay private companies and Russia to carry its astronauts to the stars, while NASA determines what the next heavy vehicle will be, and where it will go. Maybe Mars, perhaps an asteroid.
“We had a heck of a ride for the past 30 years,” said Bob Cabana, director of the Kennedy Space Center. “We are going to be going through a hard time. Change is hard. We will have more people going out that door. But you can’t do something better without change.”
He insisted that NASA does have a space program. It’s enabling private space flight and is hard at work on the next big thing: exploring beyond our home planet.
The only way Friday’s launch could have been better, Cabana said, would have been if he’d found a way to stow away on board.
Obama offered his assessment of the final flight in a statement: “Today’s launch may mark the final flight of the space shuttle, but it propels us into the next era of our never-ending adventure to push the very frontiers of exploration and discovery in space. “We’ll drive new advances in science and technology. We’ll enhance knowledge, education, innovation and economic growth. And I have tasked the men and women of NASA with an ambitious new mission: to break new boundaries in space exploration, ultimately sending Americans to Mars…
“Huntsville’s NASA engineers let tightly wrapped emotions out after Atlantis launch,” from The Huntsville Times-
Huntsville’s Marshall Space Flight Center engineers let their tightly wrapped feelings show after Friday’s flawless launch of the last American space shuttle.
“A wow day,” Marshall Director Robert Lightfoot said a little more than two hours after Atlantis lifted off pad 39A here riding its Marshall-managed and designed propulsion system.
“You’re really proud and excited and happy and sad at the same time,” agreed Steve Cash, manager of Marshall’s shuttle propulsion office.
Cash said the Marshall team in the Launch Control Center (LCC) reacted with “a lot of shouting, a lot of happiness, a lot of hugs, a lot of high-fives and handshakes.”
“But there’s also sadness there,” Cash said, “because we are bringing this propulsion system to a close on the shuttle…”
“Leaping Above The Sky One Last Time,” from Spaceref.com-
…No two people seem to have exactly the same take. But everyone senses that this is an important moment in NASA’s history.
I will wager that prior to today’s launch, 90 percent – or more – of the people involved in NASA’s human space flight program had not fully processed the blunt reality of what the end of shuttle operations really means. Between today and wheel stop in 12-13 day’s time it will start to settle in.
People are being laid off. Others are retiring. Others will show up for work weeks or months from now, sense a sea change, and suddenly decide to depart. When all is said and done the agency will look much different. And I will wager that NASA itself has yet to grasp what this will means in terms of what it wants to do – and what it is able to do.
The last time such a watershed shift in people and direction happened was when Apollo (and Skylab) came to an end. NASA struggled then and it will struggle now…