Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Station Crew Rests; Busy February '09

The crew aboard the international space station are spending a quiet day on orbit today following a busy and late-day spacewalk which saw several experiments deployed outside the Russian Zvezda module.

Right now, the crew is sleeping in on their day off after staying up late following the station's 19th spacewalk of 2008 last night. 

The crew of three will spend tomorrow recharging the Russian spacesuits batteries, stowing spacewalk tools, and performing normal experiment tasks, as they spend the Christmas holiday aboard the orbital outpost.

Taking a look ahead to February 2009, station operations will become busier as first, a Russian Progress supply ship will dock to the station on Feb. 12th; and two days later, on Feb. 14th, the space shuttle Discovery will dock following an on time launch on the 12th at 7:30 pm EST. 

Mission STS-119 will deliver the final set of solar arrays in support of the increased need for more power to support station operations.

Spacewalkers Install & Retrieve Experiments

Spacewalkers on Monday night at the Zvezda Module.

High on orbit 220 miles above the good earth, the international space station and her crew closed out the final spacewalk of 2008 to install equipment and experiments as NASA and her global partners take one more step in the completion of the orbital outpost in space.

Commander Mike Fincke and Flight Engineer Yury Lonchakov completed a five hour, 38 minute spacewalk this morning at 1:29 am EST.

Among the tasks completed was the removal for return to earth of the Russian Biorisk long duration samples experiment from outside the Pirs compartment. 

They also installed a new European tray of experiments known as Expose-R on the Russian Zvezda module. However, as 11 PM EST approached, Expose-R was not communicating with the ground via cables connected by the spacewalkers. After several attempts to connect and reconnect, the ground told the pair to return Expose-R to the airlock. Mission control need to have that experiment rack communicate with its scientists in Europe.

Another experiment tray by the Russians was installed and is working nominally - the Impuls plasma physics experiment. It was install near where the Expose-R was installed on the Zvezda service module.

Tonight's 119th spacewalk devoted to the construction of the international space station was CDR Fincke's fifth, and lead spacewalker Lonchakov first. The thirs station crew member Sandy Magnus remained inside to assist with camera views and remind the pair of the the timeline.

Forty years ago, we were heading into lunar orbit for the first time. Today, we have a truly wonderful home in space. And in eleven years, we hope to be sailing the ocean of space as Americans return to the moon. 

Monday, December 22, 2008

Spacewalk images from Tonight

9:48pm ET: space station during tonight's spacewalk

9:34 pm: Both spacewalkers are seen at the Zarya module.

Space Station Spacewalk Underway Tonight

Two of the international space station's crew members are taking a walk in space to perform a few equipment updates and install an experiment tray for the Europeans.

Running a half-hour late, Station commander Mike Fincke and Russian cosmonaut Yury Lonchakov began tonight's spacewalk at 7:51 pm EST, from the Russian  Pirs airlock. The pair will work outside the station for around six hours while the station's third crew member, flight engineer Sandra Magnus, will act as the spacewalk cordinatior.

According to Mission Control, this is the 119th spacewalk dedicated to the construction of the international space station which began ten years ago.

Currently, the space duo is installing the Langmuir probe on the Pirs airlock. The probe will collect data as it measures the electromagnetic region around the station. The last two Russian spacecrafts, called Soyuz, have had reentry issues after leaving the station, and engineers suspect that the station's electric discharge on the Soyuz has played a part in the craft's steeper than planned reentry.

 ++ Watch the spacewalk LIVE via our link at top, right column. +++

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Europe's Ariane 5 Delivers 2 ComSats to Orbit

The European Space Agency's most powerful unmanned rocket - Ariane 5 - lifted off this evening from the northeastern coast of South America to deliver two communications satellites, destined for geostationary orbits.

The Ariane 5's liquid hydrogen main engine fired up as the countdown clock hit zero, and then nearly seven seconds later, the twin solid rocket boosters ignited at 5:35:14 pm EST today to begin the launch profile.

Twenty-seven minutes after leaving it's launch pad in French Guiana, the first of the two EuTelSat spacecraft - Hot Bird 9 - separated from the upper stage. Next, the W2M deployed three minutes later.

The next Ariane 5 launch is currently targeted for mid-February and will carry aloft the Hot Bird 10.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Space Station preparing for Monday Spacewalk

The three person crew aboard the international space station spent today preparing for Monday's spacewalk, as NASA and their international partners prepare for a busy 2009 on orbit.

Monday's spacewalk is devoted to the Russian side of the station, as station commander American Mike Fincke and Russian flight engineer Yury Lonchakov egress the Pirs airlock at about 7:14 pm EST.

PROGRAM NOTE: Watch the complete Live spacewalk via this page by clicking on the NASA-TV viewer at top, right. Watch NASA-TV in a larger viewer than what most sites provide.

Early this morning, Fincke and Lonchakov performed a dry run preparation of the Russian-built spacesuits, including putting them on in the airlock, pressurizing them and testing their flexibility in them. 

Also this morning, third crew person Sandy Magnus and ground controllers at the Johnson Space Center tested a caution and warning alarm system in the Harmony node.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

apple's iTunes Offers NASA HD & Music

As a loyal customer of apple products as of late, I currently use my apple iPhone 3G with my new iMac 20" computer for calendar, email and multimedia syncing. This allows my iPhone with 16 GB of memory to carry my computer's media files on the go.

Now take a step back from this picture, and visualize having the latest NASA high def video saved to your computer or iPhone. I have the enjoyment of watching NASA HDTV anytime I want on my iPhone via apple's iTunes.

Available to download for free [] on any Mac or PC, iTunes offers NASAcast and many other free NASA video clips which run several minutes each. From the latest shuttle launches and landings, to Hubble & space station updates, you can stay up to date and carry the cool video short movies with you.

iTunes has a music search at upper right of their page. As a treat, type in "Cape Canaveral" and download the cool song Cape Canaveral by Conor Oberst. This song was me during the 1990's! Every line I can relate to or saw...

Also, I put "Apollo" into iTunes music search and downloaded recently the Apollo 13 motion picture soundtrack, and several audio-only NASA Apollo launch countdown clips, too. Comment below on what you have downloaded, I'd love to find it.

Cool history embedded in my phone and to watch when I want - mine to keep.
So when your doing your Holiday shopping, think about implementing new multimedia technologies into your life.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


It was a busy week at the Kennedy Space Center as technicians and engineers made milestones in preparing for this summer's test launch of the new ARES rocket.

Scheduled for its test launch from complex 39-B in late-July 2009, the ARES 1-X will test ground support systems, such as fueling and launch pad support. ARES will be the main mode of space travel by astronauts throughout the 2010's & 2020's as Americans prepare for a return stay on the Moon.

The above NASA/KSC digital images were taken on December 4th inside high bay 4 of the vehicle assembly building at KSC. Great pictures show what most have not seen, the coming together of the upper stage segment pieces for ARES 1-X.

The late-July ARES launch is based on a May launch of shuttle Atlantis on the delayed Hubble Space Telescope servicing flight. Due to new flight rules, since Atlantis is not flying to the space station on Mission STS-125, a back up shuttle needs to be on the adjacent pad in support of a possible rescue mission. This is based on post-Columbia rules to support a damaged shuttle on orbit.

Measuring 18 feet wide, the segments are pretty much a modified solid rocket booster.

ARES is step one under NASA's new Constellation program which reflects trips to the space station, the Moon and Mars. ARES 1 will be for crew transport, while ARES 5 will support station and Lunar cargo flights only. Orion will be the name of the crew vehicle which will dock to the station, or carry a crew of four and a lunar lander to the Moon's orbit beginning around 2020.

The first human flight aboard the ARES-Orion vehicle is slated for about 2014. The image above shows Orion enroute to the space station, with it's high gain antenna deployed and disk solar arrays on either side.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Endeavour Arrives at Kennedy Space Center

"Yes!", was the word as technicians and Kennedy Space Center personnel welcomed home space shuttle Endeavour today as she returned to her home station atop a Boeing 747 aircraft.

The massive wheels of the 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft hit runway 33 with a small cloud of smoke at 2:44 pm EST today. Enjoy the NASA-KSC images we just received here at the Cape:

The aeronautical duo flew north over Patrick, AFB up to Cocoa Beach and then made a series of turns over the KSC industrial region. A beautiful blue sky with a shiny star hearlded a series of awes and "hey lookup there..." at the KSC Visitor's Complex this afternoon. That shiny star grew to silver and white as they flew closer, and the crowds turned their cameras skyward to capture a true American event.

Space Station Spacewalk set for Dec. 22

CDR Fincke in Station's Harmony Node Today

Crew members aboard the international space station will perform a short spacewalk on Monday, December 22 to install a European science experiment and a navigation unit for Russia.

The station's current Expedition 18 commander Mike Fincke and Russian flight engineer Yury Lonchakov will step outside the Russian Zvezda module for about five hours. Third crew member Sandy Magnus will stay inside and assist with the spacewalk.

The space walkers will install the European Space Agency's EXPOSE-R, which is a box of nine experiments which will, "expose a variety of seeds and spores to the harsh environment of space", according to the Johnson Space Center.  EXPOSE-R will be returned to earth in mid-2010 aboard a Russian spacecraft.

They will also install a Russian GPS (global positioning system) antenna which will allow a new Russian docking module to perform an automatic docking with the Zevezda module in mid-2009. The new module will also include a spacewalk port for future walks in space.
Today, both Fincke and Lonchakov spent time in the Pirs Docking Compartment airlock performing spacesuit and tool checks.

In the coming week, many cities in America will be able to view the space station for several minutes. Visit Station Sightings, and select your city for complete times and the station's orbital direction.

At a mission elapsed time of 61 days & nine hours for the crew of Expedition 18, this is

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Endeavour Overnights in Louisiana

Endeavour at Barksdale Thursday - Shreveport Times

Shuttle Endeavour is making her trip home, one state at a time, due to stormy weather this afternoon over the southeast by heading to Barksdale, AFB for an over night stay tonight.

The Air Duo land at Barksdale late today.

Located in the northwest corner of Louisiana, Barksdale will be the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft /Endeavour duo's hotel this evening as the Boeing 747 is refueled and KSC personal traveling with the aircraft combo wait out the inclement Florida weather. The pair arrived Barksdale, AFB after swinging south by Houston at 2:14 pm EST.

Endeavour / SAC 747's arrival at Barksdale was delayed slightly due to strong winds associated with the cold front which had just passed through; and a series of military aircraft performing touch-and-go's at the airbase. Among the planes landing on Endeavour's future runway were a few F-16's, a KC-135 tanker plane and three A-10's. It was a busy afternoon for air control there.

Weather permitting, Endeavour is scheduled to arrive at the Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility around 2:30 pm EST on Friday afternoon.

Storms Delay Endeavour's Ferry Flight

Endeavour late-Wednesday (FTW Star-Telegram)

The NASA 747 shuttle carrier aircraft with Endeavour riding piggyback, spent last evening near Fort Worth, Texas, and due to very bad weather from Louisiana to Florida may stay in Texas another day.

The last time a space shuttle orbiter visited here in Fort Worth was 1997 during another NASA ferry flight.

After refueling last night, NASA support personal are watching the inclement weather over Florida today, however a planned stop over in Louisiana may be ruled out or delayed until tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Endeavour departs Edwards, AFB for Florida

Endeavour is finally enroute back to her home in Florida after departing Edwards, AFB in Californina late this morning.

Riding atop the shuttle carrier aircraft, or a Boeing 747 modified to piggyback an orbiter, the duo where wheels up at 10:03 am EST today or 7:03 am PST, to begin the two day flight across the United States.

Watching it via NASA-TV [located at top, right column] we enjoyed a beautiful surise departure from Edwards and the Dryden Flight Research Center, where Endeavour had returned from her 15-day space station flight on Nov. 30th.

The 747 /Endeavour duo will likly spend the night tonight near Ft. Worth, Texas, and depart late morning tomorrow pending a weather front over the lower southeastern states.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Delta IV Military Launch Delayed

UPDATE: The multi-delayed launch of a Delta IV from Cape Canaveral has again been delayed from next week's scheduled flight to possibly late-January, according to the National Reconnaissance Office today.

Spacecraft readiness and not the launcher is the root cause for the launch slip, stated the NRO this morning. This means that the next Cape launch will either be this Delta IV launch or space shuttle Discovery's flight now targeted for February 12th.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Endeavour to arrive at KSC Thursday

Update: The Jumbo Boeing 747 with shuttle Endeavour attached is now scheduled to depart Dryden in California on Wednesday morning at about 9:29 am EST, or 6:26 am local time.

Weather and a slight hardware issue has kept Endeavour at the Dryden Flight Research Center a few days longer than planned. Endeavour should arrive here at the Kennedy Space Center midday Thursday.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Endeavour to Return to KSC on Tuesday

Endeavour in mate/demate on Dec. 5 (LA Times)

The space shuttle Endeavour will remain in California until Monday morning as she is prepared for her cross country flight which will end here at the Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday afternoon.

Earlier, we had reported that KSC engineers at Edwards, AFB in California were ahead of the timeline in preparing the orbiter for her return. However, an issue with the aerodynamic tail cone attachment on Friday will keep the shuttle's return on the normal timeline of a Monday departure.

According to the offices at Edwards and the Dryden Flight Research Center, three of the eight custom made pins which are used to bolt the tail cone over the orbiter's main engines were too large. Technicians then went to work on Friday to reduce the size of those three pins which were only a micro size to big.

Later today, crews will attach the tail cone and begin hoisting the orbiter to prepare for mating to the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft - a modified Boeing 747.

Endeavour landed at Edwards on Nov. 30th, following her NASA-touted home improvement mission to the international space station.

Friday, December 05, 2008

STS-125 ET-130 Tank for Hubble Flight is Hoisted

The huge rust-colored external tank for the second space shuttle flight of 2009 was moved today into position to be attached to its solid rocket boosters for flight.

The ET-130 tank [right, today] was hoisted several hundred feet up into a vertical climb in the Kennedy Space Center's vehicle assembly building high bay #2, where it will soon be attached to its booster's and the orbiter Atlantis sometime after February.

Launch of Atlantis of mission STS-125 is now targeted for this May 12th on the final Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Endeavour may Depart on Sunday for KSC

Endeavour could be ready to take-off from the Dryden Flight Research Center in California for her ferry flight back here to the Kennedy Space Center one day earlier, according to KSC personal at Edwards, AFB.

Everything is ahead of schedule as Endeavour [above, today] gets hoisted atop a modified Boeing 747 for the two day flight which may begin on Sunday, December 7th. Then late on Monday morning, Space Coast residents will be able to see the duo fly over the beaches as it heads for KSC's shuttle landing facility.
Make plans if work or school allows, as many of us have seen, it is a beautiful sight as they fly over.

Endeavour landed on November 30th at Edwards due to inclement weather at KSC.

Atlantis to Fly to Hubble Telescope on May 12

The final servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope now has a working target date, according to NASA, as a critical data component heads for the Kennedy Space Center and then to Hubble this spring.

Currently, shuttle Atlantis is targeted to launch on mission STS-125 on May 12, 2009. And as NASA lays out an updated schedule, Atlantis will move to her seaside launch pad in April as will shuttle Endeavour as they bot aim for mid-May launches. Endeavour will standdown to Atlantis as she serves as a rescue shuttle if an emergency arises for Atlantis while in space.

Endeavour would then launch in early to mid-June following a successful flight to Hubble by Atlantis.

According to the Johnson Space Center's PAO office this afternoon, the "STS-125 [mission] is an 11-day flight featuring five spacewalks to extend Hubble's life into the next decade by refurbishing and upgrading the telescope with state-of-the-art science instruments and swapping failed hardware.
Scott Altman will command with Gregory C. Johnson serving as pilot. Mission specialists are veteran spacewalkers John Grunsfeld and Mike Massimino, and first-time space fliers Andrew Feustel, Michael Good and Megan McArthur.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Space Station Crew Busy, Endeavour at Edwards

Space Station today at 11:50 am ET - Progress & Soyuz

Orbiter Endeavour continues to be serviced following her Sunday landing at Edwards, AFB in California, and will prepare for her cross-country flight beginning next week.

On Tuesday, about 200 of Kennedy Space Center's finest will arrive at Edwards to assist in the rollover to the mate/demate device which will allow Endeavour to be hoisted atop a modified Boeing 747 aircraft for the ferry flight.

Currently, they have targeted December 8 for the trip home to KSC to begin. Endeavour should be fully atop the 747 on Saturday.

Endeavour's STS-126 flight crew will depart Edwards this afternoon for the trip home to Ellington Airfield and a grand welcome by family, friends and coworkers.

Meanwhile aboard the international space station, crew members of Commander Mike Fincke, Yury Lonchakov and Sandy Magnus are spending this morning working on experiments with the ground; Finke performed a HAM radio chat with a school in India; Magnus [above] checked family e-mails; and at 12 noon EST, Magnus began a private medical conference on air to ground two.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Endeavour post-Landing Work Continues

[7:08 pm EST] Endeavour is seen on Runway 04 at Edwards now Landing +2 hrs, 43 minutes, as ground crews continue to safe the orbiter and prepare to roll her over toward the NASA mate/demate device.

A few NASA digital images from this afternoon's 4:25 pm EST landing at Edwards. The drag chute is deployed just after main gear touchdown to slow the 220 mph orbiter down, and put less wear on the breaking system.

Endeavour Lands with Beauty & Pride

The orbiter Endeavour landed with beauty and pride today completing a 16-day NASA-proclaimed home improvement mission of the international space station.

Following bad weather forecasts for her prime landing site here at Kennedy Space Center, Endeavour prepared for her California reroute which also extended the mission by three hours so that the shuttle could make her space exit.

Touchdown on concrete runway 04 at Roger's Dry Lakebed at Edwards occurred at 4:25:06 pm EST, after traveling 6.6 million miles since launch. Nose gear touchdown: 4:25:21 pm EST. And Wheels stop following rollout: 4:26:03 pm EST.
Total Mission elapsed time for STS-126: 15 days, 20 hours, 29 minutes, 37 seconds, from liftoff to wheels stop.

Endeavour "Go" for DeOrbit Burn

Endeavour's crew was just given the go for the deorbit burn which will drop the orbiter out of orbit into a freefall back to earth. Landing at Edwards, AFB in California is set for 4:25 pm EST, 1:25 pm Pacific.

Landing Day for Endeavour - But When, Where?

Landing of the space shuttle Endeavour here at the Kennedy Space Center is currently no-go according to Mission Control as a strong weather front pushes its way south across central Florida.

Today's planned 1:19 pm EST landing here at KSC will not occur, so now Mission Control is working two thoughts: an Edwards, AFB in California attempt, or waiving off for today and landing Endeavour in Florida on Monday. The later is what the scientists and ground crews like in order to 1) get the just arrived from space experiments to their labs; and 2) get Endeavour turned around quicker for her next flight this May 15th. It takes a shuttle one week to return back to KSC from a California landing.

The first Edwards, AFB in southern California landing attempt would see Endeavour's main gear hit the dry lake bed at 4:25 pm EST, on orbit 250.

The Spaceflight Meteorology Group latest weather forecast for the Cape calls for winds of 19 knots with gusts to 28 knots at KSC for both landing opportunities. Anvil clouds are expected to be over the shuttle landing runway with thunderstorms within 30 nautical miles. All of this shows either a waive off or a California landing today.

++ Watch continuous LIVE coverage via our NASA-TV link at upper right.++

Russian Supply Ship Docks with Space Station

A Russian Progress M31 unmanned cargo ship docked with the international space station minutes ago following a slight docking issue as it approached.

Progress 31 was to have automatically docked, however station flight engineer Yury Lonchakov had to manually guide the Progress 31 spacecraft to a 7:28 am EST docking while the pair flew high over eastern China.

During the next half hour, system latches in the docking port will hard dock the Progress. This will be followed by leak checks and hatch opening later this morning.

Russia normally sends up a new Progress to the station every six to eight weeks on average; and beginning next year, Japan will begin sending up their own supply vehicle for docking with the Kibo module.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Watching KSC Weather for Sunday Landing

The crew of Endeavour and landing teams in Florida and California spent Saturday preparing for a possible Sunday afternoon touchdown -- but where...?

Gusty winds of up to 30 mph and high anvil clouds are the forecast for Florida. Thus, the California landing site at Edwards, AFB at Rogers Dry Lake Bed has been called up in the hopes of getting Endeavour down on Sunday.

Meanwhile, in space, the shuttle today powered up and tested an auxilary power unit in order to test the elevons, rudder and body flap used during landing. The orbiter is in great shape and according to Mission Management leader Leroy Cain, "From what we've seen on orbit in our inspections on this vehicle, Endeavour looks to me, and to the experts in fact, to be as clean or cleaner than any vehicle that we've flown."

The first landing time is 1:19 pm EST at Kennedy Space Center's Runway 15. A second landing attempt could be attempted at 2:54 pm. The two Edwards, AFB landing attempts would take place at either 4:25 pm or 6:00 pm EST.
And, aboard the International Space Station the Expedition 18 crew members awaited today the arrival of the Progress 31 cargo ship which launched from Russia a few days ago. Carrying supplies, oxygen and food, the Progress M31 is scheduled to auto dock with the station on Sunday morning at 7:25 am EST.
++ Click on the NASA-TV link for our LIVE coverage of both the docking and Endeavour's return home tomorrow. ++
As Endeavour's crew prepares to head to bed at 8:55 pm tonight for their last sleep in space, this is

Endeavour prepares for Sunday Landing

The seven member crew of Endeavour will spend Saturday preparing the orbiter for her Sunday afternoon homecoming back here at the Kennedy Space Center after 16 days in space.

This is the latest landing data for Sunday:

Payload Bay door Closure at 9:33 am EST
Target DeOrbit Burn: on Orbit 248 at 12:14 pm
Target Touchdown: Orbit 249, KSC Runway 15, touchdown 1:19 pm

Latest ground track image for landing.

Current weather forcasts for the KSC area at just after noon on Sunday call for winds out of the south at about 20 to 30 mph, chance of thunderstorms and a high of 80 degrees. A second landing opportunity for KSC is one orbit later.
One crew member, Greg Chamitoff, will have mixed feelings once Endeavour returns to KSC. That's because after six months aboard the international space station, he is ready to see earth again, but will miss his home in space as well. Launched on May 31st, Chamitoff will spend several days post-landing working to regain muscle strength and normal daily activites in gravity.

Friday, November 28, 2008

SLN VIDEO: Endeavour, Space Station Flyaround has two nice video clips from today's undocking and fly around by Endeavour. View our other STS-126 mission video clips, too.

Endeavour Undocks from Station

Endeavour has undocked from the space station, and is performing a station fly around manuver prior to performing a seperation burn.

Undocking occurred this morning at 9:47 am EST.

Endeavour "Go" for Undocking this Morning

Endeavour's crew just received a "go" for the undocking from the international space station. "You have a go for undocking," stated mission control to Endeavour. Station commander Mike Fincke radioed, "Station is ready for undocking".

+ Watch continuous LIVE coverage via the NASA-TV link at upper right.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Endeavour Crew Says Farewell to Station Crew

A Thanksgiving Day Farewell ceremony occurred minutes ago as the crew of shuttle Endeavour prepares to leave the international space station for the trip home.

Hugs and well wishes were exchanged at about 6 pm EST tonight, and moments later, the crews will begin closing the hatches between the two vehicles. Watch SLN Video of the well wishes:

Astronauts Give Thanks Today in Space

Endeavour /space station today at 8:25 am ET

The crews of the shuttle Endeavour and the international space station will pause today and give thanks as they reflect on both the successes of their mission, and their great new freedom in space.

The space station is truly the new world for several countries - America, several in Europe, Russia, Japan - and like the Puritans did four hundred years earlier, we are now traveling under the stars. Except as we travel today, we cross the ocean of space to unite several countries in support of making earth a better planet to both live and play.

And, as the new Pilgrims did in 1621, the nine Americans and one Russian will share a traditional Thanksgiving Day meal on orbit today about 12 noon EST. On the Menu includes: smoked turkey, green beans & mushroom casserole, candied yams, cornbread dressing, cranapple dessert and tea.

Here, the crew discusses their Thanksgiving meal on SLN Video.

This morning at 8:26 am EST, as the orbital complex flew over the southern tip of South America [image above] at an altitude of 221 miles, former Station Expedition 17/18 crew member Greg Chamitoff who is nearing the end of exactly six months in space, gave a few farewell comments to the ground.

"...we have a beautiful, amazing space station... a spectacular accomplishment... I had a great time for the last six months... Happy Thanksgiving." He went on minutes later to address the several payload countries including Munich, Germany, Japan and Russia as he thanked them for their work together and bid them farewell. Greg launched on STS-124 on May 31st.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Leonardo Module moving back to Endeavour

Following one week of supplies and equipment transfers, the Leonardo multipurpose module is undocked from the space station this afternoon for placement back in Endeavour's payload bay.

The space station's Canadaarm2 is seen with Leonardo at about 5pm EST.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Space Station Water System Running

Crews aboard the international space station feel they have a fix on the urine separation water system as testing and sample collection pleased ground controllers throughout today.

A section of the Water Recovery System works to separate water from crew urine to make it drinkable thus assisting in larger crew sizes beginning next year. Space station mission management hopes to bring back to earth samples of water from the system which separated the urine out for testing.

According to Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center: The Urine Processor Assembly (UPA) ran three successful cycles since modifications Sunday and Monday. Based on that success, program managers decided they will leave the distillation assembly on orbit. They were able to get the samples processed through the UPA and Water Processing Assembly and dispensed through the Potable Water Dispenser (PWD). Those initial samples will be returned on Endeavour. Samples will continue to be collected during the next several months to ensure it is working properly before being used for crew consumption.

The space station's commander Mike Fincke worked on Sunday to remove several vibration isolators and hard mount the system so that the system's sensors did not shutdown the motor. The sensors were detecting that the motor was not working at normal power, and the vibration dampers actual helped the system work more efficiently.

Also today, space station control center began tests on the starboard solar array rotary joint [SARJ] work which was performed on each of the four spacewalks the past seven days [read our reports below]. Beginning this morning, tests were conducted on the water-wheel-like rotation of the system.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Spacewalk shortened; Mission Extended 1 Day

The fourth and final spacewalk of Endeavour's 15-day mission at the international space station wrapped early due to a spacesuit atmosphere issue following a long and busy day working outside America's outpost in space.

Mission control at the Johnson Space Center told astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Steve Bowen that today's spacewalk would wrap early due to high levels of carbon monoxide in Kimbrough's spacesuit. The six hour, seven minute space walk offically ended at 7:31 pm EST tonight. Today's spacewalk was the 118th in support of space station construction.

All task were accomplished during the walk, including the bearing cleaning and regreasing of the solar array rotary joint bearings which help the right side arrays move like a water wheel. The duo also install two GPS or global positioning system receivers on Japan's Kibo module for use next year. Beginning in Autumn 2009, Japan will launch vessels of supplies to dock with their module via help from GPS.

A video camera was also installed on the port one truss to assist in station movement of objects outside.

Also, as we have reported since the beginning, Endeavour will stay in space one extra day in support of docked operations with the station. Undocking is now planned for Friday; with landing now planned for Sunday afternoon at 1:18 pm EST.

The ten person crew which make up the Endeavour and space station crews will spend Thanksgiving Day together now which makes alot of us thankful for what they have accomplished and that we all have a promising future of human expansion in space.
At an Endeavour MET+ 10 days, 5 minutes, this is

SLN Video: Spacewalk #4 Video from Today has just received new video from this afternoon's fourth spacewalk of Endeavour's STS-126 mission. Remember, you can click on the Live NASA-TV feed at the top, right for continuous coverage.

Spacewalk #4 of Mission STS-126

Endeavour astronauts Steve Bowen and Shane Kimbrough took a stroll in space this afternoon finishing up space station support work as they conclude the final spacewalk of the STS-126 mission.

The pair are finishing the right solar array rotary joint bearing regreasing...

Delta IV Nears December Launch from CCAS

The next launch from Cape Canaveral should be that of a Delta IV rocket from launch complex 37 here at Cape Canaveral Air Station sometime in mid-December.

The exact launch date has not been released, however a "second week in December" launch date is most likely from an informed source.

The Delta IV will lift a huge satellite for the United States' National Reconnaissance Office. Keep it here for a formal launch date announcement soon.
If launch does occur in a few weeks, this will be the last Cape launch until February when shuttle Discovery launches to the space station.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Water Recovery System Running again so far

SLN: Up to the Minute, I'm Charles Atkeison. International space station commander Mike Fincke and Endeavour mission specialist Don Pettit spent this afternoon working to fix the Urine Processor Assembly or UPA inside the Water Recovery System (WRS), and as of this evening feel thing are looking better.

According to Mission Control at 6:30 pm EST: "Fincke and Pettit removed grommets from the UPA and hard-mounted it into the WRS rack. The grommets were serving as isolators to dampen vibrations from the centrifuge, but might have been allowing too much motion and causing the interference. Mission Control has been monitoring the UPA’s operation and it has been running normally for two hours without prematurely shutting down."

However, moments later the sensors noted that the motor was beginning to slow down but did not shutdown as had occurred on Friday and Saturday.

The space station three person crew will begin their sleep at 12:25 am EST tonight, while the seven member Endeavour crew will be lights out at 12:55 am.

Crews Testing Water System; Transfer Supplies

SLN: Up to the Minute, I'm Charles Atkeison. The ten astronauts aboard the international space station spent a busy Sunday as they continued to transfer new suppiles aboard from the Leonardo module; test a new water system; and prepare tools for Monday's spacewalk.

NASA reported late this afternoon that equipment and supplies transfers are 76% complete. Two new sleep bunks and a new toliet have already been set-up. A system for removing water from crew urine continues to undergo trouble shooting due to readings that state the system's motor is not working at full power. The Water Recovery System will be a useful tool once working as this current NASA-dubbed Home Improvement mission makes the station habitable for six people beginning this May.

Also today, several of the crew members spoke with several media outlets [above at 4:10 pm EST] about the current mission.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Spacewalk concludes; More to Come

SLN: Up to the Minute, I'm Charles Atkeison. The third spacewalk of the Endeaour mission concluded minutes ago in support of the solar array rotary joint cleaning.
Heide Stefanyshyn-Piper [left, above image] and Steve Bowen returned inside the Quest airloack and the walk ended at 7:58 pm EST tonight after 6 hrs, 58 mins.
Spacewalk #4 of the Endeavour mission is scheduled for early Monday afternoon. As always, click on our NASA-TV link at above, right column for continuous live coverage throughout the flight.
At an MET+ 8 days, 10 minutes, this is

Spacewalk #3 Going Well

SLN: Up to the Minute, I'm Charles Atkeison. Two spacewalking astronauts are performing the right solar array rotary joint repairs this afternoon on the longest walk of the Endeavour mission.
Spacewalk number three began earlier than planned today at 1:01 pm EST, from the space station Quest airlock.
Heide Stefanyshyn-Piper and Steve Bowen are performing a very quiet and non-exciting walk in space as they use their handyman skills to clean and relube [with a dry grease gun] bearing sections to help the right side space station's solar array to move such as a water wheel does.
At an Endeavour MET+ 7 days, 18 hrs, 40 minutes, this is

Spacewalk #3 Nears Start; SARJ work to continue

SLN: Up to the Minute, I'm Charles Atkeison. Two of Endeavour's astronauts are in the Quest airlock right now preparing for the start of the third spacewalk of the flight.

Spacewalkers Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper and Steve Bowen will spend seven hours outside of the space station performing work related to the cleaning and regreasing of the right solar array rotary joint or SARJ. Piper will open four sets of covers and replace four trundle bearing assemblies, cleaning metal debris and greasing them.

At 11:15 am EST, the space walkers were dressed [left] in their suits as the station-Endeavour complex [above image at 11:09 am] flew 224 miles over the central Atlantic Ocean as Endeavour began the 122d orbit of her STS-126 mission. Both astronauts will be wearing a SAFER jet backpack while outside.

++ Click on the NASA-TV link above, right column for live coverage of the entire mission of Endeavour via ++

Friday, November 21, 2008

Crews working Water Purification System issue

Ten person Crew aboard station holds news conference

SLN: Up to the Minute, I'm Charles Atkeison. A new water purification system brought up to the international space station by Endeavour is not operating as it should, and the flight control teams are working the issue along with the station's crew.

The Water Purification System, a two section system, has a bad centrifuge motor which is moving to slow for the system to start up properly. The WPS is built to turn crew urine into clean drinking water as NASA and her international partners expand crew size durations this May from three to six.

According to mission management, Endeavour's crew are scheduled to have the system working prior to undocking next week, and bring home a few samples for testing here on earth. Undocking is planned for Thanksgiving afternoon EST, however as continues to report, a one day extension is very likely. The extra day should be announced by this Tuesday to assist in the WPS issue.

Meanwhile, spacewalking crew members Heide Stefanyshyn-Piper and Steve Bowen will sleep tonight in the space station’s Quest Airlock as they beging their normal prebreathe of pure oxygen to purge the nitrogen out of their bodies. The airlock's pressure will be lowered from 14.7 PSI to 10.2.

The third spacewalk of Endeavour's docked mission to the space station is scheduled for 1:45 pm tomorrow, and will likely start earlier as has the last two "walks" which began ahead of the timeline.

And today, Endeavour boosted the space station's orbit by one mile to assist with the Russian Progress supply vehicle's docking in one week.
At a MET+ 6 days, 22 hours into the mission of Endeavour, this is

Live at the Kennedy Space Center

SLN: Up to the Minute, I'm Charles Atkeison. Good morning from Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center where one week ago today, Endeavour launched on her current flight of STS-126. The above KSC video image of Endeavour's pad 39-A sits [taken at 7:26 am ET] following sunrise on a cool late-Autumn morning.

Note the mobile launcher platform is still at the pad and will be moved soon to make way for Discovery in a few weeks.
Landing is currently planned for November 29th, however knows a one day extension will be announced next week following the fourth spacewalk.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Spacewalk 2 Concludes; #3 set for Saturday

SLN: Up to the Minute, I'm Charles Atkeison. Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper and Shane Kimbrough have now entered & closed the hatch of the Qwest airlock concluding today's second spacewalk of the STS-126 mission.

The duo spent six hours, 45 minutes of spacewalking, exiting the station's airlock at 12:58 pm ET and ingressing the airlock at 7:43 pm. Total spacewalking time for STS-126 is 13 hrs, 37 minutes.
Spacewalk #3 is planned for early Saturday afternoon EST with mission specialists Piper and Bowen. It will include mostly Solar Array Rotary Joint bearing cleaning and lubing with a dry grease gun.

At an MET+ 6 days and counting, this is
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