Monday, June 29, 2009

Endeavour's Tank to be Tested Wednesday

NASA will load space shuttle Endeavour's external fuel tank with its super cold fuels on Wednesday to test a repaired seal which had forced two launch scrubs in June due to leaking gaseous hydrogen.

The Kennedy Space Center launch team will start at 7 am EDT, loading nearly 500,000 gallons of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen into the huge rust-colored fuel tank. Two hours into the tanking test is where engineers first discovered the gaseous hydrogen leak from the Ground Umbilical Carrier Plate (GUCP) coming from the tank during launch attempts on June 13 and 17.

The GUCP is what allows gaseous hydrogen (GH2) to leave the fuel tank as the hydrogen's liquid form evaporates away as the shuttle stack awaits liftoff. The GH2 is moved from the tank in a controlled manner. It flows from the tank and out to the launch pad's hydrogen vent arm which is attached to the tank via the GUCP. From the pad, the GH2 flows out away where a burning flame adjacent to the pad burns it off.

Thus, at about 9AM, the launch team will either begin to see leaking GH2 or run through the entire fueling test and not see it at all. A Kennedy news conference is scheduled for about 1PM to discuss the results of the launch team's tanking test.

Based on a positive tanking day on Wednesday, then space shuttle launch managers will likely continue to move forward to launch Endeavour on July 11 on a 16-day mission to the international space station. Launch time is 7:39 pm.

Endeavour's crew includes commander Mark L. Polansky, pilot Douglas G. Hurley, and mission specialists Christopher J. Cassidy, Thomas H. Marshburn, David A. Wolf, Julie Payette (Canadian Space Agency) and Timothy Kopra. Kopra will begin a two month stay aboard the station as he replaces current resident Koichi Wakata of the Japanese Space Agency. will have LIVE television coverage of both the tanking test and the latter news conference. Also, via your iPhone, PDA or Blackberry follow our LIVE SLN updates via Twitter. User name: @spacelaunchnews.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

VIDEO: Tonight's Delta IV Launch of GOES-O

SLN Video: Delta IV launch of GOES-O

Delta IV Launches GOES-O Satellite for NOAA

A new weather satellite successfully arrived into earth orbit this evening following a beautiful ride aboard a Delta IV rocket from America's space coast.

The United Launch Alliance Delta IV, with its twin boosters, lifted off at 6:51 pm EDT, 37 minutes late due to severe thunderstorms and lightning near it's launch pad here at Cape Canaveral, AFS.

Delta IV to Launch Weather Satellite Today

NASA and the United Launch Alliance will try again this afternoon to get an advanced weather satellite off the ground and into a high earth orbit following a launch scrub last night due to lightning and storms over it's Cape Canaveral launch pad.

Weather is only marginal as the same late afternoon thunderstorms will likely redevelop today prior to the opening of a one hour launch window at 6:14 pm EDT. Forecasters are giving today's liftoff a 40% weather "Go".

The NASA and NOAA GOES-O meteorological satellite will fly aboard a ULA Delta IV (above this morning) from launch complex 37 here at Cape Canaveral AFS.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Storms Delay Weather Satellite Launch

In a bit of irony, the launch of an enhanced, multi-telescope weather satellite was delayed 24 hours this evening due to severe weather at and around its launch pad here at Cape Canaveral.

As the United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket was fueled and proceeded through the countdown with no issues, the heating of the atmosphere over central Florida and the Space Coast saw the development of anvil clouds which can and did produce thunderstorms and lightning.

As the countdown entered the final hold at T-5 minutes at 5:54 pm EDT, the launch team was "red" only for lightning and rain storms within the allowable distance from the pad. And so, the launch team waited out the storms, even setting a new launch time of 6:44 pm when the storms continued to develop. But the launch was not to be and the team scrubbed for the day at 7:00 pm tonight.

So for now, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have rescheduled the launch of the Delta IV for Saturday evening at 6:14 pm EDT. The launch window is one hour.

Thunderstorms are also forecast to develop late afternoon tomorrow, too, and the Air Force Meteorology Group is calling for a 40% "GO" for favorable weather. ULA also stated that if a second launch scrub occurs, then the launch team will stand down on Sunday and try to fly on Monday.

The GOES-O, once launched, will "live" in a parking orbit near the GOES-N satellite as on-orbit spares. With the current two GOES weather satellites delivering detailed images each half hour, their fuel is running low and may only have another year or so of life. When this happens, GOES N & O will replace and begin providing higher detailed images; and use their telescopes to forecast solar flare activities and their effect on the earth. (Images via NASA/KSC)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

New Weather Satellite set for Friday Launch

NASA is just one day away from the launch of a Delta IV rocket with an advanced weather satellite a top from America's space coast.

The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite O, or GOES 14 when in space, is a multi-telescope and imaging weather satellite designed to study the emitting solar flares from the Sun and how it effects the earth's atmosphere. GOES will act in giving the world an early warning system of possible intense solar flares which can knock out earth bound communications.

Launch from Cape Canaveral AFS's launch complex 37 is planned for tomorrow evening, June 26, at the opening of a one-hour launch window which begins at 6:14 pm EDT.

The Cape Canaveral Air Force Meteorology group state only a 70% favorable weather forecast at launch time due to late afternoon summer thunderstorms around central Florida.

Later today at 1PM EDT, a NOAA & NASA news conference will be held at the Cape to discuss the GOES-O launch and mission. will cover both the conference today and the launch on Friday, beginning at 4PM, LIVE.

Once in space, GOES O will become GOES-14, and will undergo an operational test period of six months prior to being placed in storage until one of the two older GOES satellites fails. Please read our stories below for more details on the mission.

At T minus one day, eight hours 50 minutes until launch, this is

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

NASA's Lunar Satellite Provides LIVE Lunar TV

The Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite gave it's scientists their first data and LIVE television of the earth's moon from near lunar orbit this morning as the spacecraft and her sister craft, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, arrived to begin detailed lunar observations.

LCROSS, towing a spent centaur upper stage from its Atlas V launch last week, began turning on it's cameras and instuments.

At 8:28 am EDT, LCROSS began targeting "a worn iron-rich crater with mare basalt flows mixed with rugged highlands-type material - it's second target, Goddard C crater complex located at Lat 15.6, Lon 84.3E".

Beginning at 8:40 am, the LCROSS science team at NASA's Ames Research Center moved on to their third and final target, the Giordano Bruno - a 350 million year-old crater at "center of a system of bright rays, located at Lat 35.9N, 102.8E", stated the LCROSS science team.

LCROSS then turned its attention to looking at the moon's limb to align it's self.

NASA's LRO enters Lunar Orbit This Morning

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter entered our moon's orbit this morning, beginning a year long period of imaging the lunar surface for possible manned landing sites as America returns to the moon in 2020.

At 6:27 am EDT today, LRO entered lunar orbit. Over the next few days, according to NASA's Ames Research Center, the spacecraft will begin powering up its instruments and imager and begin to lower its orbit slightly to begin mapping operations.

Meanwhile, several thousand miles behind is the Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite or LCROSS. Both LRO & LCROSS were launched together aboard an Atlas V last Thursday from Cape Canaveral. LCROSS is towing the Atlas' spent centaur upper stage to the moon and will crash it into a dark crater near the moon's south pole. The plume of lunar dirt kicked up by the centaur's impact will allow LCROSS to fly through it to chemically measure for any water or ice make up in the soil.

We are awaiting possible LIVE television from LCROSS at about 8:20 am EDT.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

SLN Video: GOES 13 (O) Prepare for Launch

Watch how NASA & NOAA prepares for June 26th launch.

NASA to Launch Improved Weather Satellite

A new enhanced weather satellite is just days away from launch, and once aloft will greatly improve the forecasting of earth's weather, climate changes and how solar energy effects our planets atmosphere.

The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite, or GOES-O, is the second of three meteorological satellites built for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and ran by NASA, will feature a high quality imager and two new telescopes for measuring X-ray

According to NASA, GOES-O "will add to the global community of knowledge, embracing many civil and government environmental forecasting organizations that work to benefit people everywhere and help save lives".

Launch of the GOES-O weather satellite aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta IV is set for this Friday afternoon, June 26. The launch will take place from complex 37 here at Cape Canaveral, AFS, at the opening of a launch window which runs from 6:14 pm to 7:14 pm EDT.

(Watch the Launch LIVE via beginning at 5:30 pm EDT.)

Following a six month on orbit check out of the satellite, the GOES-O will be turned over to NOAA, and the "O" will be replaced by the number 14. GOES-14 will be placed into storage until it is needed.

GOES will have a solar x-ray sensor, or XRS, as one of its many weather measuring instruments. The XRS will be used to detect how strong emitting solar flares are as they move toward earth. Solar flares are constantly shooting off the Sun's surface creating a solar energy which can disrupt communications, GPS signals and satellite transmissions around earth.

Another X-ray telescope is the Solar X-Ray Imager, or SXI. The SXI will look over GOES-O's shoulder and back at the Sun as it detects and images solar activity every minute to give earth based communication station's a heads-up for possible solar interference.

GOES-O will work above the western hemisphere at an altitude of 22,233 miles (35,780 km) up. From this fixed point - called geostationary orbit - the satellite will stay at one fixed point above earth as it moves at the same speed as the planet spins.

Currently, the GOES-N, which launched in May 2006, is not in use and instead is on standby mode over the equator ready to replace either the active GOES-K or GOES-M.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

SLN VIDEO: Atlas V LRO-LCROSS Launch Today

Atlas V Launches at 5:32 pm EDT today. NASA-TV

America Returns to the Moon

A pair of NASA satellites are heading toward earth's moon in hopes making better detailed maps and continuing the investigation into the search for water on the Lunar surface.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V departed Launch Complex 41 here at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 5:32 pm EDT, today. Launch came at the end of a twenty minute launch window due to the threat of bad weather across central Florida.

The two satellites called LRO (Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter) and LCROSS (Lunar CRater Observation & Sensing Satellite) will begin a multi month mission. LRO will map in high resolution the Lunar surface as NASA works to select a landing sight for a possible 2020 manned landing.

Meanwhile, LCROSS will haul the Atlas' centaur upper stage to Lunar orbit. For four months, LCROSS will swing around the moon before releasing centaur and allowing it to crash into a dark crater at the south pole. When the lunar dust is kicked up from the impact, LCROSS will swing through looking at the chemical make up the soil.

At 6:16 pm, the LRO seperated from the centaur upper stage and flew away from the LCROSS/centaur duo. NASA's Ames Research Center has also taken control of the mission, with the LRO expected to first arrive early on Tuesday morning.

NASA to Launch Lunar Satellites Today

NASA will launch a pair of satellites toward earth's moon late today in hopes making better maps and investigating the search for water on the Lunar surface.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V will depart Launch Complex 41 here at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 5:22 pm EDT today. Two more one minute launch windows follow at 5:22 and 5:32 pm also.

Weather is only 60% forecast GO for today due to late day thunderstorm build up.

The two satellites called LRO (Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter) and LCROSS (Lunar CRater Observation & Sensing Satellite) will begin a multi month mission. LRO will map in high resolution the Lunar surface as NASA works to select a landing sight for a possible 2020 manned landing.

Meanwhile, LCROSS will haul the Atlas' centaur upper stage to Lunar orbit. For four months, LCROSS will swing around the moon before releasing centaur and allowing it to crash into a dark crater at the south pole. When the lunar dust is kicked up from the impact, LCROSS will swing through looking at the chemical make up the soil.

NASA will be looking for signs of moisture in the lunar dust which had been sitting quietly in a dark crater for millions of years.

About five minutes after centaur crashes, LCROSS will also make it's impact of the mission as it crashes into the lunar surface this October.

The two impacts will have NASA turn the newly refurbished Edwin Hubble Space Telescope and several earth based telescopes aimed at the lunar south pole to record the plume.

NASA's Ames Research Center will over see the mission, including the instrumentation.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Endeavour Launch Scrubbed Again

A pesky gaseous hydrogen leak has caused another launch scrub on a night which saw the Kennedy Space Center launch team wait out severe storms which delayed the start of fueling hours earlier.

The same leak which scrubbed last Saturday's launch attempt caused NASA to cancel this second attempt at 1:55 am EDT today.

The launch team halted fueling when the gaseous leak from the hydrogen fuel was detected. They then cycled the vent valve and began to see a smaller amount of leaking hydrogen. They then resumed and stopped the fueling again due to the continued leaking fuel.

The fuel loading of Endeavour's external fuel tank began at 11:06 pm Tuesday night - three hours later than planned - due to strong thunderstorms and lightning at the launch pad and around the space center. Lightning struck at least two areas around the space shuttle.

The seven member crew of mission specialists Christopher Cassidy and David Wolf, pilot Doug Hurley, commander Mark Polansky, and mission specialists Julie Payette, Tom Marshburn and Timothy Kopra, were dressing into their launch and entry suits when the scrub was called.

NASA and Endeavour's crew will now stand down until a possible next launch attempt on the evening of July 11.

NASA in the meantime has to go to work to troubleshoot what is the cause of this leak, and why has it scrubbed three shuttle launch attempts out of the last five tries. The launch team still does not have a firm understanding why this valve leak from the gaseous hydrogen vent connection continues to cause trouble.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Endeavour Poised for Wednesday Launch

The space shuttle Endeavour is poised for a one and only try to launch during the next few weeks tomorrow morning on a resupply and equipment delivery mission to the international space station.

Liftoff of Endeavour with a crew of seven is targeted for 5:40:52 am EDT, Wednesday morning from here at the Kennedy Space Center.

A gaseous hydrogen vent seal has been repaired at the connection point of a line running from launch pad 39-A to Endeavour's 15 story external fuel tank, allowing space shuttle program managers to give the STS-127 mission one launch try tonight before stepping down until mid-July.

A lunar exploration launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V, and what NASA calls a "beta cutout" due to the space station's attitude would keep Endeavour grounded until July 11.

At 1:15 pm today, launch control's firing room 4 will resume the countdown at the T-:11 hour mark.

At 8:15 pm tonight, launch control will begin to slowly fill the external fuel tank of Endeavour with nearly 500,000 gallons of super cold liquid oxygen & liquid hydrogen. It was about two hours into fueling during Saturday's first launch attempt that the launch team saw the LH2 leak in a gaseous state as it bleeds off. Fueling should be completed three hours later.

Meanwhile, a few miles away here at KSC, the crew will begin to suit up at about 1AM. The crew is set to begin boarding the space shuttle at pad 39-A at 2:20 am.

Led by commander Mark Polansky, this flight will deliver a huge external experiment tray for attachment to the station's Japanese Kibo module; perform five spacewalks in support of station construction; install new batteries and bring up a new crew member to live aboard the ISS for two months.

Watch the entire mission of Endeavour LIVE beginning tonight via Also, follow us via Twitter @spacelaunchnews.

Monday, June 15, 2009

NASA to Announce Launch Plans Today

NASA today will announce the readiness to launch space shuttle
Endeavour on Wednesday or stand down to allow a pair of NASA
satellites to launch to the moon the same day here at Cape Canaveral.

An afternoon statement from the space agency will outline if Endeavour
can fly or not following the repair of a gaseous hydrogen (GH2) leak
which cropped up at midnight on Saturday morning forcing a launch
scrub. A leaky seal in a vent valve at the connection point of a vent
line which runs from the shuttle's external fuel tank to the launch
pad and then down and out where the GH2 is burned off to avoid any
build up which would be serious when the main engines ignite six
seconds prior to lift off.

A Wednesday launch time would see Endeavour's soild rocket boosters
ignite at 5:40:50 am EDT, pushing the entire shuttle stack skyward for
a Friday docking with the international space station.

If NASA determines that Endeavour is not ready to fly following the
repairs, then a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with NASA's
Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Mission would fly at 3:51 pm on Wednesday

Space Shuttle Mission Management chairman LeRoy Cain said late Sunday,
"If shuttle goes first on the (June) 17th, then the most opportunities
we can give LRO is two, and that would be on the 19th and 20th."

The LRO mission carries a secondary satellite, LCROSS, and is the
first flight under NASA's return to the moon program. The agency will
use the lunar duo to map the surface, and search for the best landing
site for a future human landing on the moon around 2020.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Endeavour's Launch Scrubbed due to Leak

The launch of space shuttle Endeavour was scrubbed at midnight this morning due to a gaseous hydrogen leak which cropped up near the competion of fueling.

 According to KSC's launch control, "Fueling was halted after the leak was detected near the Ground Umbilical Carrier Plate, which (is) attached to the external tank at its intertank area. The line leads from the GUCP back to the launch pad and to the "flare stack" where vented gaseous hydrogen is burned off.

 Engineers will begin to access the area (image above) late today, and NASA managers will meet to target their options for a new launch date soon after. A similar leak occurred in March on the STS-119 Discovery launch.

 NASA may not be able to launch until July 12th, due to a pair of unmanned Cape launches this month, and the station's attitude to the Sun, according to mission management.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Endeavour Remains Go for Launch

With just twelve hours until tomorrow's planned 7:17:19 am EDT launch of Endeavour here from the Kennedy Space Center, technicians are preparing to begin loading of the super cold fuels tonight.

External tank fueling is set to begin at 9:52 pm tonight, and will be completed at around 12:10 am EDT.

The launch team is not working any issues, and the weather should be great with light clouds and a temperature of 74 F.

Endeavour: A Beautiful White Dove

This morning beginning at 10:50 am EDT, technicians here at the Kennedy Space Center began moving the rotating service structure back away from Endeavour in preparations for her launch in about 21 hours.

Lift-off remains on schedule for early tomorrow morning at 7:17:19 am EDT, from Launch Complex 39 and Pad A.

RSS Rollback took about 35 minutes to complete, and we were fortunate to see a beautiful white dove ready for her mission of peace to the international space station.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

STS-127 Countdown Underway at KSC

T-:43 hours and counting...

Moments ago, at 9:00:00 am EDT, Launch Control's Firing Room #4 came to life as the countdown for this Saturday's space shuttle launch began on time.

Even though there is 2 days, 22 hours and 17 minutes until Saturday's 7:17 am EDT launch, the countdown has several built-in holds ranging in times of 10 minutes to several hours long. These holds give the launch team added time in case an issue arises during the count.

Currently, there is a 90% weather "Go" from the spaceflight meteorology group here at Cape Canaveral's Patrick, AFB.

Mini-Spacewalk aboard Space Station Today

Two of the six person crew aboard the international space station donned their Russian Orlan spacesuits and performed a mini-spacewalk inside a module to prepare a docking port for a new docking port's arrival in November.

Station commander Gennady Padalka and American flight engineer Michael Barratt began this morning's spacewalk inside the Russian Zevezda module at 2:55 am EDT. They then quickly replaced the module's hatch with a docking cone in support of the Mini-Research Module 2's unmanned arrival to the station via a Russian Soyuz rocket in mid- November. The 12 minute, 125th spacewalk to build the space station concluded at 3:07 am.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Endeavour's Crew at KSC for Saturday Launch

Basked in darkness of midnight this morning, the seven member crew of the next space shuttle mission arrived here at the Kennedy Space Center to prepare for the start of their flight to the international space station this Saturday morning.

Led by commander Mark Polansky, the crew includes pilot Doug Hurley, mission specialists David Wolf, Christopher Cassidy, Julie Payette, Tom Marshburn and Timothy Kopra. Kopra will begin a two month stay aboard the station as he replaces Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata.

The crew arrived aboard a Gulfstream II jet at 11:53 pm EDT on Monday night. At 12:02 am this morning, they stepped onto KSC - their home for the next three days.

The crew's "day" is 180-degrees from most as they awake at 5PM and go to bed at 9AM EDT, in support of activities and timelines aboard the space station which fall around Moscow day light hours.

"Bonsoir, or I should say, bonjour, because we're in the middle of our afternoon," stated mission specialist Julie Payette (Canadian Space Agency) after departing their jet. "Thank you for taking the time to come and see us at this ungodly hour."

Follow our LIVE updates on launch morning via Twitter @spacelaunchnews. And, for LIVE television of the launch from your computer, visit us at

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Endeavour Astronaut David Wolf: Aerobatic Flyer

When it comes to being an astronaut or cosmonaut you are careful and selective in the activities you perform so that an injury will not sideline you from your flight assignment.

NASA astronaut David A. Wolf is the exception.
When I think of David I liken him to a cross between Peter Fonda's character in Easy Rider and Tom Cruise in Top Gun. Determined in achieving goals, but with a bad boy attitude. Very smart and gifted, David is a mediacal doctor with a passion for aviation, having flown in space on three spaceflights including a four month stay on the Russian Mir space station.

David also has an aeronautical hobby which takes his passion for flight to a new level and it was one in which he shared with his uncle - Aerobatic Flying.
In the 1980's, David and his Uncle Ed Wolf began flying muscle airplanes out of Clover Field near Houston, Texas, which led to competitive flying. Around 1988, David and Ed joined the Houston Aerobatic Club, and flew in several competitions including winning a first place award in 1991. A few months later, David became a full fledged astronaut with NASA.

Throughout the 1990's, while David trained as a mission specialist for a 1993 space shuttle flight, he continued to enjoy his aerobatic stunt flying. David flew a Black Eagle biplane [above], which he had purchased from a fellow astronaut; while his Uncle Ed flew a S2B Pitts biplane.

Although he still privately flies in his spare time, he does not competitive fly as much any more. Due to NASA rules limiting what an astronaut can do regarding physical sports activities that are non-NASA related, he had to tone down his stunt flying.


David has another flight this Saturday morning out of a tiny air strip known as launch pad 39-A here at the Kennedy Space Center. To watch him in his winged craft Endeavour take off just after Sunrise at 7:17:15 am EDT, will be a treat for the aviator spectator - a true air show!

David will be able to once again roll heads down, pull 3G's and climb and continue to climb all the way up to 220 miles above the earth - the dream of every aviator.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Orbital walk in Space continues on Station

Astronaut Michael Barratt received the ride of a lifetime as he was extened away from the international space station nearly fifty feet during a space walk this morning.

Assisted by his station commander Gennady Padalka, Barratt stated, "This station is so beautiful", as he began riding the white boom at 7:52 am EDT, as the station orbited 220 miles over western Europe. At 8:15 am, Barratt was reeled back in while they passed over north of India.

The pair are now just over four hours into their 5 1/2-hour spacewalk. It is Barratt's first excursion outside, and Padalka's seventh orbital walk in space.

While Padalka and Barratt roam the station, the Expedion 20 crew's four other members are in various sections of the space station. Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata is in Zvezda and near the Soyuz TMA-14 craft as he supports the spacewalk from inside.

Today's spacewalk is in support of preparing the Russian Zvezda module for the November 12th arrival of a new Russian docking port, the Mini-Research Module-2 or MRM-2. Launch will take place on Nov. 10 aboard a Soyuz rocket, the MRM-2 will serve as an additional Russian docking port.

Space Station Spacewalk Underway Today

Two of the six crew members aboard the international space station stepped outside to perform some installation work to prepare a Russian service module for the arrival of a new docking module this November.

Today's planned five and one-half hour spacewalk began at 3:52 am EDT, this morning as station Russian commander Gennady Padalka and American Michael Barratt left the Russian side of the orbital outpost in space. The spacewalk began late due to increased levels of carbon dioxide in their Russian Orlan space suits.

Once outside the Russian Zvezda module, the pair began work to install a few antennas and string cables which will be used in support of an automatic docking module's own docking on November 12th. Known as MRM 2, the new Soyuz launched docking module will give the station another docking port for the many unmanned international space vessels which will ferry supplies and equipment to the orbital outpost.

As the space station sails in the Autumn of 2009, traffic will increase as the Japanese and Russians send unmanned supply ships to and from station followed by a space shuttle flight in November.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Endeavour's Crew aboard, hatch closed for practice

The Kennedy Space Center's launch control center is working with the crew of the space shuttle Endeavour as they run through a practice launch countdown this morning.

Endeavour's seven member flight crew climb aboard around 8AM EDT, and began a series of communications checks with LCC and Mission Control located south of Houston.

At 9:25 am, the orbiter's hatch was closed, and a series of cabin leak checks began just as they will due on their June 13 launch day. The image above was captured at 9:41 am, and shows Endeavour with her protective steel structure around her, and the threat of storms nearby.

Meanwhile, a Phase one and later phase 2 lightning warning was issued for the entire Cape Canaveral area as dark clouds associated with storms off shore began to develop.

Crew Enters Endeavour for Practice Count

The seven crew members of the next space shuttle flight climbed inside Endeavour this morning as she sits a top launch pad 39-A for a practice mock countdown as they and the launch team prepare for the real thing in nine days.

Endeavour's crew is commanded by space veteran Mark Polansky. His pilot is Doug Hurley, a rookie. Mission specialists Christopher J. Cassidy, Thomas H. Marshburn, David A. Wolf, Julie Payette (Canadian Space Agency), and Timothy Kopra. Endeavour will drop Kopra off at the international space station to begin his tour of duty, and pick up Japanese astronaut KoichiWakata.

Endeavour will set sail on her 23rd flight into the ocean of space on Saturday, June 13 at 7:17:15 am EDT.

The crew arrived here at the Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday afternoon for three days of launch pad drills and this morning's mock countdown, where the crew dons their orange pressure suits and boards Endeavour. The Launch Control Center will then take a countdown down to T-6 seconds - just before main engine start.

The crew will depart Kennedy late today for their home south of Houston, Texas for a few days. On Saturday, the crew will enter quarentine, and then return back to America's Spaceport this Wednesday.

Also upcoming on Wednesday, NASA will begin the launch countdown at 9:00 am EDT, as they aim for a Saturday morning lift-off. Sunrise on June 13 will be at 6:24 am here at the Cape. Launch temperature is currently forecast to be 74F, with no rain expected.

For LIVE mobile updates, follow us via Twitter: @spacelaunchnews.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Atlantis moved for Demating off Boeing 747

Atlantis a top the NASA Boeing 747 as it was being moved off Runway 15 here at Kennedy Space Center's shuttle landing facility to the mate/demate device at 7:31 pm EDT, this evening.

Atlantis Returns Home to America's Spaceport

Atlantis a top a Boeing 747 lands at KSC this evening.

Dodging pockets of thunderstorms from northern Alabama to central Florida this afternoon, a NASA Boeing 747 aircraft returned the space shuttle Atlantis to her home here at the Kennedy Space Center.

The NASA modified Boeing 747's huge complex of tires hit the shuttle landing facility's runway 15 at 6:53 pm EDT this evening.

The shuttle carrier aircraft departed Columbus, AFB in northeastern Mississippi at 4:37 pm EDT, to begin the final leg of Atlantis' journey which began on May 11th with her launch on the Hubble servicing flight 350 miles high in space.

Thunderstorms along the flight path late this afternoon caused the Aeronautical Duo to swerve several times to avoid any possible rain showers from striking the orbiter's thermal skin.

As the pair flew southeast across north Florida, the shuttle carrier aircraft made a right turn at Ormond Beach, Florida - just north of Daytona - and flew south along the space coast at an altitude of 1200 feet. Both children and adults alike gazed skyward along the beaches as chills ran across their sun baked skins, and a feeling of pride and joy filled their hearts as they watched the two streak across the sky.

This journalist loved listening to the launch pad and KSC ground crews asking where the shuttle was and commenting on the way it looked. And, the NASA 911 Boeing 747 captain talking with KSC air control if they could make a fly around once again.

To this journalist, the 747 crew just did not want to land and made three passes over and around the space center. It was as if they were just having too much fun showing off Atlantis following their cross-country flight.

One KSC technician stated while watching the shuttle carrier aircraft making a third fly around of the KSC area that it was "going down to Playalinda beach to see the sights", at 6:49 pm ET.

Aeronautical Duo to Arrive at KSC @ 6:40 pm

The Space Shuttle Atlantis is due back home here at the Kennedy Space Center this evening - 22 days after her launch from America's Spaceport.

Thirteen days after her May 11 launch on a mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope, Atlantis landed at Edwards, AFB in the southern California desert on May 24 due to inclement weather along the coastline of Cape Canaveral.

After KSC technicians helped lift and mount Atlantis a top a modified Boeing 747-200 carrier aircraft, The Aeronautical Duo departed sunny California on Monday en route for an overnight stay on the western tip of Texas at Fort Bliss near El Paso.

After departing Fort Bliss, the 747 shuttle carrier aircraft brought Atlantis for short stops in San Antonio, Texas and Columbus, AFB in Mississippi today.

The 747 should be wheels up at 4:50 pm EDT, and following a flight across Alabama, southern Georgia and Florida, the pair should touch down at the shuttle landing facility tonight at about 6:40 pm.

Atlantis headed for Columbus, AFB, Mississippi

The Boeing 747-200's flight with shuttle Atlantis mounted a top, are now scheduled to depart San Antonio, Texas for Columbus, AFB in northeastern Mississippi at about 12:10 pm EDT.

The 747 should touch down at Columbus, AFB at 2:30 pm ET.

Real time updates via @spacelaunchnews on Twitter.
(image: Scott Johnson/San Antonio)

Shuttle Atlantis in San Antonio, TX now

The Aeronautical Duo of shuttle Atlantis a top a Boeing 747-200 aircraft darted through over cast skies and landed at 10:14 am EDT, near Lackland, AFB in San Antonio, Texas this morning, for a brief two hour lay over for refueling.

Aeronautical Duo Flying over Texas Today

The aeronautical duo of the space shuttle Atlantis riding a top a modified Boeing 747-200 jet are cruising at 15,000 feet as they travel from El Paso, Texas to San Antonio's Lackland, AFB this morning.

The 747 is scheduled to land at Lackland, AFB at about 10:15 am EDT, for fuel and to allow the several Kennedy Space Center technicians to grab lunch.

It is unknown as to the times of the cross country trip following the brief San Antonio lay over. The duo are likely to travel as far as Mississippi today. Updates via Twitter [ @spacelaunchnews] and here on Up to the Minute.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Atlantis a top 747 Begins Trek Home to KSC

Under beautiful skies, the Boeing 747 aircraft with the space shuttle Atlantis bolted a top took off from the California desert en route to an over night stay at Fort Bliss in western Texas.

The huge airliner was wheels up this morning at 11:07 am EDT, following take off from Edwards, AFB and the Dryden Flight Research Center in southern California.

The aeronautical duo then flew for two hours at an altitude between 15,000 and 15,200 feet through clear skies to land at Fort Bliss near El Paso, Texas, at 1:06 pm EDT.

Atlantis to Depart California this Morning

The Boeing 747 carrying the space shuttle Atlantis a top are set to depart the California desert for the Kennedy Space Center late this morning.

The ferry flight departure from Edwards AFB in southern California is currently planned for 11AM EDT, and should last two days. The pair were to have left earlier, however technicians "encountered some difficulties while trying to tighten a bolt on the right attach point for connecting Atlantis to its modified Boeing 747 aircraft", NASA stated this morning.

An overnight stay tonight will be based on weather conditions, but a Texas lay over is very likely.

Atlantis landed on May 24th following 13 days in space, due to bad weather along the Florida space coast.
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