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.
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