Sunday, May 31, 2009

Endeavour Arrives at Launch Pad 39-A Today

The space shuttle Endeavour was moved this morning from one launch pad to another to prepare for her upcoming mission to the international space station in 13 days.

As blue skies and beautiful weather provided a backdrop here at the Kennedy Space Center, technicians began moving the mobile launcher platform with the space shuttle stack riding a top at 3:16 am EDT on th
is Sunday morning. Departing launch complex 39 and pad B, Endeavour took 8 1/2 hours to travel to 39-A and was hard down at 11:42 am.

Space shuttle program managers have only three days during the middle of June to launch Endeavour on the STS-127 mission. If this flight cannot launch on either June 13, 14 or 15, then the STS-127 mission will have to stand down until July 12th due to two NASA rocket launches here at Cape Canaveral.

NASA - KSC HD images

Endeavour shifts Launch Pads this Morning

Endeavour inches toward pad 39-A at 6:56 am Today.

The space shuttle Endeavour is on her move from one launch pad to another here at the Kennedy Space Center this morning to prepare for her launch targeted in 13 days.

Technicians and ground support personnel began moving Endeavour from Launch Complex 39's pad B to the adjacent pad A at 3:16 am EDT, this morning. Endeavour was moved from the massive vehicle assembly building out to pad 39-B on April 18th to serve as a standby shuttle in case the recent Atlantis mission ran into trouble and could not get home alone.

Endeavour is currently target to launch on a supply mission to the international space station on June 13th at 7:17 am EDT. Space shuutle program managers told days ago that NASA has only June 13, 14 or 15th to launch Endeavour, or it must stand down until July 12th due to several high profile rocket launches from the Space Coast - a NASA Lunar mission and a weather satellite.

Once in space, Endeavour and her crew of seven, led by commander Mark L. Polansky, pilot Douglas G. Hurley and mission specialists are Christopher J. Cassidy, Thomas H. Marshburn, David A. Wolf, Julie Payette (Canadian Space Agency) and Timothy L. Kopra, will deliver two experiment platforms for the Japansese Kibo module and carry up fresh supplies, food and water to the international space station. This 127th space shuttle mission is expected to be docked with the station for 12 days.

Friday, May 29, 2009

New Crew of Six living aboard Space Station

A new era in space exploration began this morning as a Canadian, European and Russian boarded the international space station to join a Russian, American and Japanese and creating a space human race with five station partners represented.

After docking their Soyuz TMA-15 to the Russian module, flight engineers Roman Romanenko, Robert Thirsk and Frank De Winne opened their hatch, meanwhile current station astronauts Commander Gennady Padalka and flight engineers KoichiWakata and Mike Barratt were given a "go" to open their hatch, which occurred thirty minutes late at 10:14 am EDT.

Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk summoned it up during a welcoming ceremony, "It is a historic day. It's also a very happy day up here, you can't imagine the state of elation the six of us have right now. You know, amongst partners that have a passion for exploration, a proven track record on innovation, and a desire to gain new knowledge, we've got an incredible potential for success here. This is going to be something incredible!"

The new larger crew will be the norm aboard station as humanity expands its presence in space - working and living together.

The six man space station crew will enjoy a quiet weekend, focusing on familiarization of where items are on board the orbiting outpost in space. On Monday morning, the new Expedition 20 crew will hold a new conference at 10:20 am EDT on Monday.

Soyuz Craft Docks with Space Station with Crew

Three new international crew members arrived at the space station this morning, docking with and coming aboard, to form the new Expedition 20 long duration crew.

A Russian Soyuz TMA15 spacecraft with Roman Romanenko, Robert Thirsk and Frank De Winne docked with the orbiting outpost at 8:34 am EDT, as the two crafts flew 217 miles high over China.

The three will join the current Expedition 19 crew of Russian commander Gennady Padalka and flight engineers Koichi Wakata and Mike Barratt, at about 9:45 am as the hatches open between the two crafts.

NASA's next Lunar Missions nears Launch

NASA and America will return to the Moon in June as a pair of research satellites head for Lunar orbit for several months of detailed investigations about earth's closest neighbor.

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, and the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, are set to lift-off aboard an Atlas V-401 rocket from here at Cape Canaveral AFS at 3:51 pm EDT, on June 17th.

On Thursday, the LRO/LCROSS payloads were moved and attached a top of their rocket pedestal [right] at launch complex 41 for flight in 20 days.

It will take four days for the pair to reach lunar orbit.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Atlantis Nears Sunday Ferry Flight to KSC

Servicing Atlantis on Tuesday at Dryden. NASA images

Technicians at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Facility in California continue to prepare the space shuttle Atlantis for her cross country flight a top a modified Boeing 747 for her return to America's Spaceport.

In a statement released today, Dryden officials stated, "managers are targeting lift operations to mount Atlantis on the modified 747 carrier aircraft on Saturday, and following a Flight Readiness Review the same day, are looking toward ferry flight departure just before sunrise Sunday morning at the earliest."

Atlantis is currently hoisted and level a few feet up in the huge steel cage known as the mate - demate device which will later lift Atlantis higher so that a Boeing 747 can be rolled underneath for attachment. There are three attachment points which Atlantis will use to mate to the 747 - the same attachment points used to mate with her external fuel tank.

On Thursday, technicians, wearing protective suits, will drain several toxic fluids from the orbiter's systems that could prove hazardous to unprotected personnel, Dryden officials commented today. They will also attach the white tail cone cover which will assist in making Atlantis more aerodynamic during the return flight to the Kennedy Space Center.

Shuttle Management at Dryden feel that the Boeing 747 with Atlantis a top, could depart California as early as Sunday morning. The trip will take two days.

New Space Station Crew Liftsoff on Soyuz Rocket

Under blue skies, a Russian Soyuz rocket lifted-off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan today with a truly international crew of three on a two day flight to the international space station.

Russian Roman Romanenko, European Frank De Winne and Canadian Robert Thirsk lifted-off from their launch pad in southeastern Russia this morning at 6:34 am EDT or 4:34 pm local time, to begin a trip which will double the current station crew size to six.

Launch came as the space station flew 220 miles high over the southern Pacific Ocean as it approached an orbital sunrise.

It was a beautiful launch phase as the white Soyuz rocket streaked high into the blue skies. Ten minutes later, the Soyuz dropped its third stage as the crew arrived safely into an orbit of 143 x 182 miles.

On Friday morning, the Soyuz will approach the space station and slowly dock at 8:36 am EDT.

Once aboard, the entire crew of six will become the Expedition 20 crew, and will be commanded by the current 19 commander Russian Gennady Padalka. Current 19 residents American Michael Barratt and Japan's Koichi Wakata will round out the new 20 crew.

Wakata will leave the space station when shuttle Endeavour arrives and delivers new expedition 20 flight engineer
Timothy Kopra in mid-June.

June will be busy and crowded aboard the earth's outpost in space. On June 5th, Padalka and Barratt will perform a five hour spacewalk to install new equipment on the station. On June 15th, Endeavour will dock to station for about 10 days, bringing the station population to 13 - the most ever aboard station at one time.

Endeavour on mission STS-127 will deliver the final segment, an experiment tray, to be attached to the Japanese Kibo scientific module.

New Station Crew Minutes from Launch

The Russian launch of a Soyuz TMA15 rocket with an international crew of three are minutes away from launch at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 6:34 am EDT, or 4:34 pm local time.

Russian Cosmonaut Roman Romanenko, Canadian Space Agency astronaut Robert Thirsk and European Space Agency astronaut Frank De Winne remain "go" for their launch to the international space station this morning under party cloudy skies.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Atlantis to Depart California on Sunday for KSC

Atlantis is moved off Runway 22 at Edwards on Sunday.

The space shuttle Atlantis will spend this week in sunny California, being serviced and docked to to back of a Boeing 747 aircraft prior to her trip back to her home on Florida's Space Coast.

Rains and low clouds diverted Atlantis from a landing at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, to a more weather perfect landing under blue skies and light wind at Edwards, AFB in southern California. A flight detour which will coast NASA about $1.6 million to get Atlantis back to Kennedy.

NASA believes that Atlantis could be ready as early as this Sunday morning for the 747/ Atlantis stack to depart Edwards for the two day trip to central Florida.

Today, technician and engineers, along with several more Kennedy support personnel made to flight from Orlando out to Dryden to assist with the ferry flight operations needed to mount Atlantis atop the 747 carrier aircraft. This morning,"personnel already at Dryden hoisted Atlantis in the Mate-Demate Device, placed it on jacks and carefully leveled it", according to a Dryden spokesperson.

Atlantis touched down at the adjacent Edwards, AFB run way 22 on Sunday morning after staying in space two extra days due to inclement weather at Cape Canaveral.

Space Station to Expand Crew Size to Six

This weekend, the sign in earth orbit will read: Welcome to Space Station. Population 6.

A new era aboard the international space station will begin this Friday as a Russian, Canadian and European crew arrives to join an existing crew of three to form the new Expedition 20 crew of six.

Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko, Canadian Space Agency astronaut Robert Thirsk and European Space Agency astronaut Frank De Winne are set the lift-off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on Wednesday, May 27th at 6:34 am EDT, aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket.

Two days following launch, the crew's Soyuz TMA craft will dock with the orbiting outpost in space at 8:36 am EDT on Friday, as the two crafts fly 220 statue miles above Russia.

Early this morning, the Soyuz rocket for Wednesday flight was moved to her launch pad [above], and moved to the vertical position.

The new Expedition 20 crew will give the space station not just a larger crew size, but a crew which will represent the five partner space agencies as they carry out more scientific studies to increase humankind's knowledge in multiple experiment modules.

The current Expedition 19 crew of Russian commander Gennady Padalka, American Michael Barratt and Japan's Koichi Wakata had a successful but busy week last week as they drank from the newly running Water Recovery System - a machine which recycles used or waste water into fresh drinking water. This will help the crews to continue to have drinkable water as the crew size increases.

Upcoming for the Expedition crew of six in June will be a spacewalk on June 5th, and the docking by the shuttle Endeavour as NASA delivers the final experiment platform for the Japanese module.

When Endeavour docks to space station about June 15th, there will be 13 humans aboard the orbital outpost.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

NASA TV: Atlantis' Landing Today

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NASA HD Images: Atlantis Lands Today!

Atlantis flew into southern California this morning after being told that Florida's weather was too unstable to land at the Kennedy Space Center. Atlantis touched down at Edwards, AFB at 10:39:05 am EDT, or 7:39 am Pacific.

Blue skies and light wind greeted the crew of seven aboard Atlantis as they steered the orbiter toward the conclusion of her 30th voyage into space. Be sure to click on the images for a larger view.

Atlantis Touches down in Sunny California

After thirteen days in earth orbit, the space shuttle Atlantis fired her jets and returned home to America with a desert runway landing at sunny Edwards, AFB in California this morning.

Continuing rain bands flowing up the Space Coast caused Mission Control to reroute the mission from a landing here at the Kennedy Space Center to a beautiful blue sky Edwards landing.

Coming home following a very successful flight to service and upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope, Atlantis fired two thruster engines at 10:24 am EDT today to brake her speed by 305 mph, and begin to drop her out of her elliptical orbit of 220 x 350 statue miles.

The orbiter blazed a path and cut though earth's atmosphere over the eastern Pacific Ocean. The orbiter flew north of Hawaii and eastward toward southern California on the tail end of the mission's 197th orbit of earth.

As the newly risen Sun shone brightly on the orbiter's white skin of thermal blankets and tiles, Atlantis' commander Scott Altman pitched her nose up, and pilot Greg Johnson dropped the landing gear as they flew toward the thresh hold of runway 22.

"Ten feet. Five feet. One foot... Touchdown!" pilot Johnson radioed to his commander as the main gear hit the desert runway at 220 mph at 11:39:05 am EDT. Seconds later, a drogue chute ejected from the aft section of Atlantis, and the nose gear lowered as her speed began to drop below 200 mph. Atlantis came to a complete stop at 11:40:15 am.

"At last! I didn't realize it was going to be so hard to get back to the Earth, landing here just felt great to everybody," stated Altman after landing. "We're all thrilled to have the mission complete and it was a testament to the teamwork and cooperation of folks all across the country."

Atlantis had completed her 30th flight and a successful Hubble servicing mission which lasted 12 days, 21 hours 37 minutes and 9 seconds, and traveled 5,276,000 million miles. It was also the 56th space shuttle flight to conclude with an Edwards landing dating back to April 1981.

Along with Altman and Johnson were Mission Specialists Michael Good, K. Megan McArthur, John Grunsfeld, Andrew Feustel and Mike Massimino.

Atlantis began her latest flight on May 11th.

Atlantis coming Home to Edwards, AFB Today

Mission Control radioed the crew of Atlantis at 10:01 am EDT, that Kennedy remains no-go due to weather, and thus they will land on their current orbit of 197 at Edwards, AFB in California.

The deorbit burn will ignite at 10:24 am EDT, causing Atlantis to fall out of their orbit for a planned landing on the California desert at 11:39 am.

This will be the 53rd Edwards landing by a space shuttle since the program began in 1981.

NASA Delays Atlantis' Landing by One Orbit

Continuing weather concerns at Cape Canaveral, Florida forced Mission Control and entry flight director Norm Knight to delay Atlantis return home one orbit, and are looking at the next two opportunities into both Kennedy Space Center and Edwards, AFB today.

"The atmosphere is unstable. As the temperature rises, it's going to approach the trigger point that triggers off thunderstorms. You've got a forecast of thunderstorms within 30 [miles of KSC], and so we are going to target KSC and Edwards," Mission Control just radioed the crew of Atlantis.

The next Kennedy opportunity would see Atlantis fire her breaking engines at 10:41 am and aim for a Florida landing at 11:48 am EDT, during their 197th orbit of the earth.

Edwards, AFB in the southern California desert would see main gear touchdown at 11:40 am and second chance there at 1:17 pm EDT, today.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

NASA to Bring Atlantis Home on Sunday

Mission Control will take another look at the weather early tomorrow morning and work hard again to get the space shuttle Atlantis back home to either Kennedy Space Center or a desert runway landing out in California.

It costs NASA $1.5 million to land an orbiter out at Edwards, AFB in California, and then carry it back home atop a jumbo Boeing 747 to Kennedy. Thus, Atlantis' STS-125 Entry Flight Director Norm Knight will go the distance in making sure he has exhausted all possibilities for a Sunday landing at America's Spaceport.

The first landing attempt [above] would see Atlantis fire her twin engines at 8:58 am EDT, to fall out of orbit for a 10:11 am touchdown here at KSC. The second landing opportunity would see the main gear of NASA's 24 year-old orbiter at 11:49 am.

Edwards, AFB has a few landing options for Sunday as well with the first [left] seeing a deorbit burn at 10:25 am and landing on Runway 22 at 11:40 am; and second landing try at 1:19 pm EDT.

Rains and low clouds continued to hug Cape Canaveral into late today, and the forecast for mid morning on Sunday does not look promising. Current Cape Weather is calling for variable clouds with scattered showers in the morning, then thunderstorms in the afternoon. High 78F. Winds east at 5 to 10 mph.

Atlantis launched on her current mission on May 11th on a now successfully mission to restore and fix the Hubble Space Telescope.

Atlantis to Try a KSC Landing on Sunday

Rains and low clouds at the Kennedy Space Center has caused Entry Flight Director Norm Knight in Mission Control to wave off a Florida landing today by shuttle Atlantis in favor of a Sunday touchdown.

Having donned their orange entry suits and closed the payload bay doors, the seven member crew of Atlantis waited patiently for an entire orbit as the control center assessed the dynamic weather conditions around the Space Coast. NASA simply wanted to keep Kennedy open and at the last possible minute elected to give the crew another day in space.

Edwards weather, meanwhile, had been favorable for today.
Astronaut Chris Ferguson is flying a shuttle trainer aircraft at Edwards, AFB and reporting back to Houston's Mission Control his weather findings.

Landing is now targeted for the first KSC attempt at 10:11 am EDT tomorrow.

Stay tuned this Memorial Day Weekend for mobile updates to your device via Twitter @spacelaunchnews.

Former Astronaut Bolden to be NASA Administrator

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - President Obama has named former astronaut Charles F. Bolden to head NASA on Saturday, sources have told NBC News.

Bolden is an African-American born in 1946 in segregated South Carolina, where the law at the time forced him to study in a blacks-only school equipped with hand-me-downs and used books.

Despite the hard road of segregation, he logged top grades and pounded on the gates of the U.S. Naval Academy until a Northern congressman helped him get in. Bolden was elected president of his class, and graduated with the gold bars of a Marine second lieutenant.

Bolden earned his Naval Aviator wings and became one of America's outstanding combat pilots, flying more than 100 missions in the skies of North and South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Upon returning home, he became a leading Marine Corps test pilot and a NASA astronaut — logging 680 hours in Earth orbit.

Bolden first piloted the shuttle Columbia 23 years ago, and followed with three more space shuttle flights, including the flight that deployed the famed Hubble Space Telescope in 1990 and the first shuttle mission with a Russian crew member, in 1994. Bolden was shuttle commander for two flights, the one in 1994 as well as a science mission in 1992.

The spaceflight veteran retired from the military as a Marine Corps major general in 2003. Three years later, he explained during a Senate hearing why only astronauts could do certain tasks in space, and why only robots — like the rovers currently operating on Mars — should be used to explore certain types of hostile terrains. He made it clear that all sciences should get a fair shake.

Astronaut Kathy Sullivan, the first woman to make a spacewalk for NASA, flew in space twice with Bolden. "He's not a heavy-handed commander," she said. "He has the strength of character needed to shape up NASA."

Atlantis Landing Delayed Again this Morning

Poor weather conditions here at the Kennedy Space Center has caused Entry Flight Director Norm Knight to wave off the first landing opportunity by Atlantis; the weather also has Mission Control looking more at Edwards, AFB in California as today's landing site.

Low clouds and rain showers in the 30 nautical mile area around Kennedy caused this mornings one orbit delay.

As showers flow north up the Space Coast, KSC would likely be forecast no-go through this morning, and Edwards the better site for a 10:45 am EDT landing.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Atlantis Crew Sleeps; Landing Tomorrow

The seven member crew of Atlantis were treated to an extra day in earth orbit this morning due to poor weather at the Kennedy Space Center, and everyone in Mission Control hopes that a rain system clears out for landing tomorrow morning.

A tropical weather producer continues to dampen the Cape Canaveral region today, and forecast models for Saturday morning call for more of the same - rain showers and low clouds with 30 nautical miles of the Shuttle Landing Facility.

So the question becomes not when, but where will Atlantis touchdown this weekend. NASA will have six available landing attempts for tomorrow, the first at 9:15 am EDT (above) here at Kennedy's Runway 15. A second attempt would occur 99 minutes later at 10:54 am on the next orbit. And, the final KSC attempt could occur at 12:33 pm.

The final attempts would be at Edwards, AFB in California with main gear touchdown at either 10:45 am, 12:23 pm or 2:02 pm EDT.

The crew, led by commander Scott Altman, began their sleep period at 5:01 pm today and will awaken eight hours later.

Once the crew has awoken tomorrow morning and had their meal, they will await a "go / no-go" call from STS-125 entry flight director Norm Knight. If Mission control does wave-off Kennedy's 9:15 am attempt, it is likely that all attempts will be waved off, and the decision to head for Edwards will be made. Atlantis has enough consumables to stay in space for several more days.

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This Week at NASA May 22 2009

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Atlantis KSC Landing No-Go for Today

STS-125 Entry Flight Director Norm Knight officially waved off landing for today as Mission Control at 7:49 am EDT radioed the crew, "We are going to formally wave off for the day".

Atlantis commander Scott Altman replied back, "We know you looked at it hard
and we appreciate you making the call early and understand", as the orbiter flew over the central Pacific Ocean.

Saturday's first landing attempt would see the Deorbit burn occur on orbit 180 at 8:02 am EDT, with a landing here at Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility Runway 15 at 9:16 am.

Weather Delays Atlantis' Landing Today

The space shuttle Atlantis has been delayed from the 10AM EDT landing time until 11:39 am this morning due to a rain band over the north end of Cape Canaveral.

Rain along with heavy clouds and some wind are also forecast during this next landing opportunity, and at around 10AM, Mission Control will likely wave off landing Atlantis until Saturday morning.

Now at 10 days, 17 hours into the flight of Atlantis on mission STS-125, we are standing by for
STS-125 Entry Flight Director Norm Knight's call here in the next two hours.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Atlantis' Greg & Megan Talks Landing with Mass

Weather Looks Iffy for Friday KSC Landing

Scattered storms here at the Kennedy Space Center in association with a low pressure system off shore will likely delay Friday morning's first landing attempt by Atlantis into Saturday.

On Wednesday, Mission Control south of Houston, Texas, radioed Atlantis to turn off a few extra electronic devices to conserve a little more power in case landing is delayed past the planned time.

There are two landing opportunities for the prime landing site at Kennedy's runway 15 on Friday morning. will have LIVE television of Friday's planned landing through out the day.

The first would see Atlantis perform her deorbit burn on orbit 165 to begin a free fall back to earth for the first landing attempt at 10:00:31 am EDT. The second landing time is one orbit later at 11:39 am. If this weather system remains off shore, and forecasters here at Cape weather are calling for light showers Friday morning, then both landing attempts could be waved off in support of a Saturday landing.

Click Here for the current LIVE radar of the Cape Canaveral, FL area.

The seven member flight crew awoke this morning at 3:04 am EDT, to the music of Cantina Band from the Star Wars.

Later, the crew began preparing for landing by powering up on auxilary power unit and testing Atlantis' flight control systems which include her elevons, rudder and speed brake beginning at 5:12 am. Next, the crew this morning test fired Atlantis’ reaction control system thrusters - the same thrusters they will use to take them out of orbit.

On tap for today, commander Scott Altman and pilot Greg Johnson will practice a few landing simulations via a laptop computer using the software PILOT at 8 am.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

STS-125 Atlantis Crew Portrait in Space

The Atlantis STS-125 crew portrait was taken on the middeck late this morning following the crews news conference with reporters.

From top row, left to right is mission specialists and the spacewalkers of this mission Michael Good, Mike Massimino, John Grunsfeld and Andrew Feustel. The bottom row features pilot Greg Johnson, commander Scott Altman and flight engineer K. Megan McArthur.

Atlantis Crew Talks to Reporters Today

The seven members of the shuttle Atlantis spoke to reporters this morning, a day after releasing the newly serviced Hubble Space Telescope back into space.

Atlantis' commander Scott Altman, pilot Greg Johnson and mission specialists John Grunsfeld, Mike Massimino, Andrew Feustel, Michael Good and K. Megan McArthur floated on the flight deck and began taking questions at 10:29 am EDT.

For 35 minutes as Atlantis flew over the Pacific Ocean, the crew gave great insight into their experiences on this mission as they approached Hubble and the fun for four of crew as they spacewalked outside of Atlantis in support of the repairs.

At 12:06 pm EDT today, the crew will next talk with the crew of the international space station. Also, according to the White House this morning, the crew will receive a call from President Obama ata bout 5:45 pm.

NASA Releases Atlantis' Booster Cameras Video

NASA this morning released the videos of Atlantis STS-125 climb to orbit from the prospective of her rocket boosters, and we like most thought it was incredible.

Atlantis lifted-off on Monday, May 11th. We captured a few still images from the different views and find them amazing. The yellow number at the top is seconds into the launch phase nearly nine days ago.

At 39 seconds into Atlantis' launch on May 11, you can see shadow of her smoke pillar from the solid rocket boosters stretch out over the Atlantic Ocean. The coastline of Cape Canaveral - America's Spaceport - is also visible in this shot from the right hand booster.

Nine seconds later, the left booster camera shows the Kennedy Space Center as Atlantis throttle's down her main engines.

Atlantis Crew Rests, Holds News Conference

The seven member crew of the shuttle Atlantis will receive some much deserved time off today after eight full days of successfully working to restore and upgrade the Edwin Hubble Space Telescope.

Atlantis' commander Scott Altman, pilot Greg Johnson and mission specialists John Grunsfeld, Mike Massimino, Andrew Feustel, Michael Good and K. Megan McArthur awoke at 4:01 am EDT, to begin their ninth day in space to the theme from
Star Trek in honor of the crew and their astronomical flight.

The crew will devote today to personal time, however they will clean up the crew cabin and at 10:26 am EDT, will begin their in flight crew news conference with reporters. You can watch the conference LIVE right here via

Ninety minutes later, at 12:06 pm, the crew will make a ship-to-ship call in the vast ocean of space to the three person crew aboard the international space station orbiting 220 miles above earth. Expedition 19 crew members include Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, American astronaut Michael Barratt and Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Hubble Space Telescope: The Final Images

Atlantis crew took these great images as the Hubble Space Telescope departed the shuttle this morning following five solid days of repair and servicing to extend the telescope's life time by five to ten years.

From it's outpost 350 statue miles above earth, Hubble orbits the earth once every 93 minutes in a orbital inclination of 28.45 degrees to the equator.

This will be the last time human eyes will lay upon the 19 year-old telescope. Look for new pictures from Hubble beginning this August or September as it begins to use it's new wide field camera and upgraded systems.

Hubble Space Telescope Released by Atlantis

The Edwin P. Hubble Space Telescope was redeployed back into the vast ocean of space this morning to begin another five-plus years of astronomical photography and observations with a new camera and equipment to allow all of humanity a better view into the universe.

America's space telescope was released by Atlantis' astronaut Megan McArthur at 8:57:20 am EDT, as the pair crossed over the western coast line of Africa at an altitude of 350 miles.

Five minutes later, Hubble had moved to 150 feet away from Atlantis.

Hubble in Hover Position over Atlantis

Atlantis is currently moving to Hubble release attitude as the pair fly 350 miles above earth with the payload bay in the direction of travel.

Hubble deployment remains set for 8:57 am EDT.

Atlantis prepares to Release Hubble Today

The crew of Atlantis will release the Hubble Space Telescope back into the ocean of space this morning following a major overhaul and successful servicing mission to keep the astronomy platform operational through 2014.

Hubble release is planned for 8:57 am EDT.

The seven member crew which includes commander Scott Altman, pilot Greg Johnson and mission specialists John Grunsfeld, Andrew Feustel, Megan McArthur, Mike Massimino and Michael Good awoke this morning at 4:31 am EDT, to the music of Lie in Our Graves performed by the Dave Matthews Band - played especially for McArthur.

Following their morning wake up, the crew went right to work, as McArthur brought the shuttle's 50 foot robotic arm's end effector over to grapple Mr. Hubble's Telescope in preperation for deployment. She grappled the telescope at 6:45 am EDT.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Atlantis HD Images of Today's Spacewalk

John Grunsfeld is shown in these three NASA high def images taken by Atlantis' crew this morning following the start of the fifth and final spacewalk of the STS-125 mission. Beautiful images from 350 miles above earth.

Final Hubble Spacewalk is Historic

Atlantis' astronaut John Grunsfeld has been to the Hubble Space Telescope before.

Grunsfeld, who along with crew mate Andrew Feustel, wrapped up his third spacewalk today in which they completed the jobs neccessary to keep NASA's great observatory in space working another five years.

"This is a really tremendous adventure that we’ve been on, a very challenging mission. Hubble isn’t just a satellite - it’s about humanity’s quest for knowledge," Grunsfeld stated at the close of today's spacewalk.

Grunsfeld knows about Hubble and how it works - he has flown up to Hubble on two previous occasions to service it so that it can keep taking those beautiful images of the far reaches of our solar system and the Milky Way Galaxy.

Today's orbital walk was the 23rd and final in support of Hubble servicing, totaling 166 hours and six minutes. Four of Atlantis' seven astronauts spent 36 hours & 56 minutes combined outside in the payload bay performing such upgrades as a new wide field camera; a fine guidance pointing system; insulating blankets and a circuit board.

As Grunsfeld and Feustel floated outside of the airlock at the conclusion of today's spacewalk, Grunsfeld summed up his thoughts on what Hubble and this flight meant to both him and everyone involved or has ever had an interest in astronomy:

"On this mission, we tried some things that some people said were impossible….We’ve achieved that, and we wish Hubble the very best. It’s really a sign of the great country that we live in that we’re able to do things like this on a marvelous spaceship, like space shuttle Atlantis."

"As Drew and I go into the airlock, I want to wish Hubble its own set of adventures and with the new instruments that we’ve installed that it may unlock further mysteries of the universe."
Today's spacewalk concluded at 3:22 pm EDT.

NASA's final mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope was met with big challenges. Challenges which a great crew overcame with the help of ground control in both Houston and Greenbelt, Md. to make this flight of Atlantis a highly successful mission to the stars.

Fifth & Final Hubble Spacewalk Underway

Atlantis' Grunsfeld & Feustel at 8:45 am ET Today.

The fifth and final spacewalk by two of shuttle Atlantis' astronauts began earlier than planned this morning as they prepare to replace a battery and repair a fine pointing system to the Edwin Hubble Space Telescope.

Mission specialists John Grunsfeld and Andrew Feustel began their spacewalk at 8:20 am EDT, this morning as Atlantis sailed 350 miles over the central Pacific Ocean and into an orbital sunrise.

Their first task this morning is to replace the last set of batteries in Hubble by removing the old batteries which the observatory has used since 1990. Grunsfeld will ride the end of the robotic arm - controlled by Megan McArthur - and will open a set of doors on Hubble to remove a battery try insert. The spacewalk is ecpected to last about six hours.

Follow out Twitter Updates throughout today for LIVE mobile coverage via @spacelaunchnews.

Apollo 10 Launched 40 years ago Today

1969. Flower power. Laugh-In on NBC-TV. Vietnam. And America's climb toward the the first moon landing.

The National Aeronautics & Space Administration and America celebrated great success the previous Christmas with the first manned spacecraft to orbit the moon - Apollo 8. Following Apollo 9, which tested the moon landing spacecraft in earth orbit in March, NASA was ready to test the Lunar Module with a powered descent to several thousand feet above the lunar surface.

Commanded by Thomas P. Stafford, Apollo 10 included John W. Young (command module pilot) and Eugene Cernan (lunar module pilot).

It would be Stafford and Cernan who would undock in the LM known as
Snoopy from the CM called Charlie Brown to fly down to about 5 1/2 miles altitude as a dry run for the actual landing that July.

After a flawless countdown, liftoff of the Apollo 10 mission occurred forty years ago today - May 18, 1969 - at 12:49:01 pm EDT, from launch pad 39-B here at the Kennedy Space Center. This was the first ever space launch from 39-B.

Following a trouble-free trip though space and into lunar orbit, the lunar module Snoopy undocked from Charlie Brown on May 22nd to begin the most exciting part of the mission - to get mankind close enough to the moon's surface without landing just to see just how the LM would behave.

As darkness fell over Houston,
Snoopy "snooped" across the Moon, and then rejoined Charlie Brown 8 hours after it first undocked. It was all handshakes as Stafford and Cernan rejoined Young in the command module; and the trio then completed 31 orbits of the moon.

Apollo 10 then headed back to earth orbit, obtaining the fastest speed mankind has ever traveled - over 25,000 mph. The crew landed on May 26th at 12:52 pm EDT, in the Pacific Ocean.

Currently, the Apollo 10 command module Charlie Brown sits on display in the science museum in London, England.

Two days following Apollo 10's launch, engineers and workers at Kennedy moved the mighty Saturn V rocket to launch pad 39-A to prepare for the biggest flight of the 20th century - Apollo 11 and the first manned lunar landing.
copyright 1998 - 2010 Charles Atkeison, All rights reserved.