Thursday, October 29, 2009

ESA Ariane 5 successfully launches satellites

A heavy-lift European launcher lifted-off today from South America on a flight which delivered two communications satellites into earth orbit -- and making it's sixth successful flight of the year.

The European Space Agency's Ariane 5 rocket launched on it's 48th flight at 4:00:07 pm EDT (5PM local time), from the Guiana Space Center as the Sun sat upon French Guiana.

Burning 1,300 tons of thrust, the Ariane 5 pushed its way up and out over the central Atlantic Ocean punching through a few cloud layers and into a darkening sky. The launch inclination was 5.98 degrees to the equator.

On board the mighty launcher making it's 34th successful launch in a row was the NSS-12 and Thor-6 communications satellites.

"This latest success confirms that Ariane 5 is the commercial market’s only operational launcher capable of simultaneously launching two large direct television broadcast satellites,” stated Arianespace CEO and chairman Jean-Yves Le Gall. “It also confirms that Arianespace is the only launch services company capable of orbiting four commercial satellites in four weeks – which I also think is a new record."

At 4:27 pm EDT, the NSS-12 seperated from the Ariane adapter connected to the upper stage as the vehicle flew over southeastern Africa.

The NSS-12 was built by space systems/Loral in California, and will service a large footprint from Europe to Asia to Australia with direct to home television services. NSS-12 will operate from 57 degrees East in geostationary orbit.

Later, at 4:31 pm, the Thor 6 separated from the upper stage some 1,060 miles above the western Indian Ocean.

The Thor-6 satellite -- the most powerful of the Thor fleet -- will provide television services to Europe using 36 ku-band transponders, and operating from a location at 1 degree East. Thor 6 will replace the failing Thor 3.

The seventh and final Ariane 5 flight of 2009 is currently targeted for December 2, and will loft two communications satellites into earth orbit.

NASA officially targets Nov. 16 for Atlantis launch

NASA and the space shuttle management team are meeting today to determine a new launch date for the next space shuttle flight, and the teams readiness to support its twelve day flight.

This morning, the NASA management team officially targeted Monday, November 16th as the new launch date for Atlantis to start it's resupply and equipment delivery mission to the International Space Station.

Launch time is currently set for 2:27:54 pm EST. The launch window is five minutes.

NASA worked out a deal with the United Launch Alliance to push back a Delta IV unmanned rocket from it's targeted launch date of Nov. 17th by a day to allow Atlantis an optional day in case the target date is scrubbed for 24 hours.

Later today, technicians here at the Kennedy Space Center will begin retracting the huge gantry structure which wraps and protects the orbiter from weather (above, today at 9:15 am), and allows workers access to the mid section of the space shuttle.

The rotating service structure will be moved back to allow for the STS-129 payload to arrive at the pad this evening and be installed for launch.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

VIDEO: Ares 1-X launches into the Future

Ares 1-X lifts-off today at 11:30 am EDT from KSC, FL.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ares 1-X rocket makes successful test flight

The world's tallest rocket set to carry America to the space station and beyond in 2015 launched into blue skies and into the next generation of space flight -- that is if the Obama administration provides the necessary funding.

Lift-off of the new Ares 1-X test flight from the Kennedy Space Center occurred at 11:30 am EDT today, following a two hour launch delay due to clouds and systems checks caused by several local lightning strikes the night before.

The launch team and technicians worked through a delayed countdown earlier this morning following some 150 lightning strikes which occurred within a five mile radius of Ares' launch pad 39-B overnight.

The countdown remained on hold at T-4 minutes through most of the four hour launch window. just when the launch team was ready to go at 10:45 am, Air Force meteorologist Kathy Winters at Cape weather called no-go due to a cloud in the area at launch time which could cause an electric condition known as triboelectrification.

Triboelectrification, by definition, is when electric discharge resulting from the accumulation of electric charge on an insulated body. So the launch team waited and continued to received updated weather reports from the air.

Once the white, brilliant candlestick cleared the launch tower at T+6 seconds, it's 2.6 million pounds of thrust forced Ares to rise sharply as it's solid fueled booster steered its "dummy" upper stage payload out over the Atlantic waters. At T+ two minutes and nine seconds, as the rocket booster's solid fuel expired, the upper stage separated on time and began it's decent into the waters off Cape Canaveral. Meanwhile, the rocket booster continued it's upward climb to an altitude of 29 miles caused by forward momentum.

Across the river from Cape Canaveral at Space View Park in north Titusville, a nice crowd gathered on a beautiful morning as the sun rose for the anticipated launch.

SpaceLaunch News publisher Mary Myers commented to this reporter on the turnout for a non-space shuttle flight, "It looks like people are still interested in the space program. People are turning out. Several of our local (Orlando) news channels are here, too."

In all the launch team has deemed this flight as a huge success, and will pour over all the data over the next year to make improvements and update designs as NASA now works to ready the next test flight, Ares 1-Y, in 2014.

Friday, October 23, 2009

NASA Go for Tuesday's Ares 1-X Test Flight

NASA and the launch team at the Kennedy Space Center are officially GO for launch of the test flight of the new Ares 1-X rocket on Tuesday morning, however the weather stands to delay launch based on the current forecast.

Ares I-X launch director, Ed Mango stated today, "It's great to be part of a team that put a rocket together in the time it took. The team is ready to go fly. The vehicle is ready to go fly."

But weather woes could force a launch day delay for NASA's new rocket which they are hoping will take America to the International Space Station following the space shuttle's retirement in 2010.

Launch of the Ares 1-X flight is set for Tuesday morning at 8:00 am EDT, from launch complex 39-B. The launch window is four hours. If weather violates launch morning flight rules, NASA then has launch opportunities on both Wednesday and Thursday to try again.

Launch morning will begin at 1AM EDT, at the T-7 hour mark. There is only one hold in this countdown at the T-4 minute mark. Meteorologists from Cape Weather will launch a weather balloon to collect upper atmosphere data.

As the countdown moves along, more weather balloons will be launched and the rocket will begin to come to life as avionics and recorders are powered up. At 7:36 am, the countdown will hold for 20 minutes at the T-4 minute point. During those 20 minutes, launch director Ed Mango will poll the team to ensure the readiness to proceed. Listen for key "Go's" from both weather officer Kathy Winters and Range Safety during the poll.

In the final minute of the count, the SRB auxiliary power units will be started; final navigation software updates will be uploaded; and a final gimbal check of the SRB thrust nozzles will be performed.

Once Ares 1-X clears the launch tower at T+6 seconds, it will fly up to an altitude of 130,000 feet before the second stage separates from the solid rocket boosters first stage.

Following a successful flight test by the Ares 1-X, a second test flight - Ares 1-Y - is currently targeted for mid-2014. On the heels of that successful flight, the third test flight, Orion 1, will see a full compliment of the Ares 1 vehicle, including five segment SRB and a real uncrewed Orion crew module.

This first test flight is a large step toward understanding the groundwork in getting Ares 1 into delivering humans to space by 2015.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

White House Panel Outlines what NASA should consider

The Augustine Committee released it's report on the future of American spaceflight today, as NASA and it's partners turn the corner into a new decade of space flight in the coming months.

NASA sits perched on a mountain top with a beautiful nest in International Space Station, and the white dove of the space shuttle about to have it's wings clipped late next year. So what in fact does NASA do?

Based on 2010 and future funding, how long can the international space partners continue to fund the station program, and will the new Constellation program reach new heights as technicians move it off the drawing boards and onto the launch pad?

Led by panel chairman Norman Augustine, the White House panel spent 2009 interviewing key members from the highest to the lowest ranks within NASA to determine a positive route for the American space program during the 2010's and beyond.

Click Here to view in .pdf the full report of the Augustine commission's findings.

We at SpaceLaunch News urge you to take 15 minutes to read most of it and digest what you read. Please comment below your thoughts as we hear from you, too. Thank-you.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ares 1-X rocket gets connected to Pad 39-B

A few great NASA-KSC digital images of the new Ares 1-X rocket at it's launch pad at midday today. The rocket is taller than those flying around the globe today, and stands over 100 feet taller than the space shuttle.

A New White Candlestick Shines on Pad 39-B

After over three years of planning and construction, a brilliant white candle stick shines a top launch pad 39-B at this hour.

Under gray clouds and a brisk wind, the future of America's space flight arrived at it's ocean side launch pad this morning as it prepares for lift-off next week.

The Ares 1-X vehicle a top the mobile launcher platform was officially hard down a top launch pad 39-B at 9:17 am EDT today. Over the next few hours, pad technicians worked to connect the rocket to power sources and connect a stabilization collar near the upper mid section. Upcoming at about 12:40 pm, the rotating service structure will be moved around the rocket as it helps provide weather protection and access to avionics sections, too.

The candlestick's 4.2 mile slow trek from the massive Vehicle Assembly Building out to Pad 39-B was the first time a non-space shuttle stack has occupied the pad. Launch pad 39-B has launched such notable flights as the Apollo 10 lunar orbital flight; Apollo 18 which linked up with the Russian Soyuz in 1975; and the ill-fated Challenger launch in 1986.

Launch of the Arex 1-X remains set for this Tuesday morning, October 27, at 8AM EDT. If lift-off is scrubbed, NASA's Kennedy Space Center launch team have both Oct. 28 and 29th booked on the eastern test range.

Future of American Human Spaceflight Debuts

The future of the American human space flight program debuted early this morning as a new, white 327-foot rocket began it's roll out to the launch pad to prepare for a new decade of space travel.

First motion of the crawler transport carrying the Ares 1-X rocket began at 1:39 am EDT, this morning -- 98 minutes later than planned due to this being the first rollout of this new rocket.

The 1.8 million pound rocket inched at a slow rate as it traveled the 4.2 miles from high bay 3 in the massive Vehicle Assembly Building out to launch pad 39-B this morning.

On Thursday, the Ares 1-X launch team in firing room 1 will run through a practice countdown in preparation for the launch test.

The Ares 1-X launch is set for 8AM EDT on Tuesday, October 27th. The launch window will last four hours.

After Ares 1-X clears the tower six seconds following launch, it will head east and fly up to 28 miles before separating it's first stage booster rocket some 244 statue miles down range.

The future of the new Constellation program calls for the next unmanned flight, Ares 1-Y, in 2014, and a third test flight called Orion 1 which will see the module achieve orbit shortly after 1-Y's success.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Atlantis' launch delayed due to Ares 1-X, Atlas

A series of events in the final days of October has forced NASA to delay November's launch of the next space shuttle flight as it accommodates two unmanned rocket launches from Cape Canaveral.

According to NASA spokesperson Kyle Herring at the Johnson Space Center, "Ares is priority". Herring today broke down with this reporter most of what the next few weeks will look like at Cape Canaveral.

The main cause in delaying shuttle Atlantis Nov. 12 mission to the International Space Station is Tuesday morning's roll out of the Ares 1-X out to launch pad 39-B. Due to the Ares move, NASA today scrubbed the the next two days of training sessions by the crew out at the adjacent pad 39-A. Atlantis' crew will return to the Space Coast in early November to perform the practice countdown simulation in which they suit up and board the shuttle.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V has the eastern test range for a midnight launch on November 14th. NASA had spent the last two weeks battling for a Nov. 12 & 13 launch attempts, but Atlas' launch customer held firm and would not stand down to NASA.

Launch of Atlantis has been retargeted for 2:28 pm EST on November 16th. However, that date will not be made official until a managers meeting on Oct. 28. Also, a Delta IV is on the range to launch on the evening of Nov. 18. If Delta IV launches on time, then NASA will have only one launch day in which to fly Atlantis -- Nov. 20 -- before a sun angle beta cutout for Station forces a delay until Dec. 6.

Commanded by Charles Hobaugh, Atlantis' crew of six includes pilot Barry E. Wilmore and mission specialists Robert L. Satcher, Mike Foreman, Randy BResnik and Leland Melvin.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

VIDEO: Atlas 5 launches today

Atlas V California launch at 9:12 am PDT on October 18, 2009.

Atlas V launch milestone occurs in foggy California

On a foggy morning today, America's 600th launch of an Atlas rocket occurred on time from Vandenberg, AFB in California on military weather satellite delivery flight.

The first minutes of the 9:12 am EDT (12:12 pm EDT) launch was normal as the United Launch Alliance Atlas V carried the Air Force’s Defense Meteorological Satellite Program F18, DMSP F18, into geostationary orbit.

"This mission is absolutely critical to the warfighter," stated Colonel Steven Winters today following the DMSP's orbital arrival. "Thanks to the hard work and dedication of this team, our fellow service members and allies around the world can carry out their missions with the best weather data available."

The DMSP F18 launched into a polar orbit of 463 nautical miles with an orbital period of 101 minutes each revolution. This new era weather satellite is a space based weather observation platform for the U.S. military and will aid in operation forecast for maneuvers.

Today's Atlas V launch is the 600th launch since the first Atlas lifted-off from Cape Canaveral Air Station in 1957. That Atlas A was a testbed for future Atlas missions. Last month, Vandenberg celebrated their 50th year launching Atlas. On September 9, 1959, the California launch team launched an Atlas 12D rocket.

"This is a proud moment in the 52 year history of the Atlas program and for United Launch Alliance,” said Mark Wilkins, ULA vice president, Atlas Product Line. “First, I want to thank our Air Force customer for trusting ULA to launch this important mission. I’d also like to recognize all the men and women who have served on the Atlas team since 1957. Their determination, dedication and attention to detail have made this significant milestone possible."

According to Vandenberg's 30th Space Wing, "the DMSP payload will be managed by the National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration satellite control center (Maryland), with support from the 6th Space Operations Squadron, an all Air Force Reserve unit stationed out of Schriever AFB, Colorado."

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Russian Progress Cargo Craft Docks to Station

A unmanned Russian cargo craft filled with fresh supplies and fuel automatically docked to the International Space Station tonight following a three day chase.

Docking of the Progress M-03M with the Piers docking port occurred at 9:40 pm EDT this evening as the orbital duo flew 225 miles off the South American Atlantic coastline.

The cargo craft is filled to the top with 1,918 pounds of propellant and fuel; 926 pounds of water; 110 pounds of oxygen and air; and 1,750 pounds of spare parts and supplies for the station's crew, according to the Johnson Space Center.

Beginning at 1AM EDT on Sunday, the station's six person crew will open the hatches between the two crafts and start unloading the 2 1/2 tons of supplies and hardware.

Atlas rocket marks 600th milestone this Sunday

During the last five decades, the Atlas rocket has given Americans an edge in space flight technology.

Beginning in 1957, the Atlas missile was turned into a more powerful rocket launcher as the space program began to mature. Four Americans were carried into earth orbit aboard newer versions of the Atlas beginning with John Glenn in February 1962.

Since then the Atlas has carried aloft satellite payloads for both civilian and military use, including the Mariner probes which flew to Mercury and the Agena docking vehicle during the NASA Gemini program. Atlas also took the LRO-LCROSS satellites to the Moon this year.

On Sunday, the Atlas program will begin a new chapter as the 600th Atlas rocket is launched on a military flight from California.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V -- the newest and most powerful of the rocket heritage -- is set to carry the Air Force’s Defense Meteorological Satellite Program F18 from space launch complex 3E at Vandenberg, AFB in California. The launch time is 12:12 pm EDT (9:12 am local time).

Once the bronze and white rocket lifts-off, it will perform a pitch over 17 seconds into flight. As Atlas continues to build up speed as it pushes through the atmosphere, it will throttle down it's RD-180 engine which burns kerosene and liquid oxygen. As the Atlas V travel south over the eastern Pacific Ocean, it's first stage booster will shutdown just over four minutes into the ascent.

According to a United Launch Alliance spokesperson, "During the program’s history, 314 launches have taken place from CCAFS (Cape Canaveral) while 285 have launched from Vandenberg." ULA is the prime support company for the Atlas launchers.

Eighteen minutes after launch, the space craft will separate from the Atlas' Centaur upper stage as it flies over a anrea near Hanamenu Island in the central Pacific.

Sunday's 600th Atlas mission will carry the DMSP F18 into a polar orbit of 463 nautical miles with an orbital period of 101 minutes each revolution.

The DMSP is a space based weather observation platform for the U.S. military and will aid in operation forecast for manuvers.

As the military and civilian launch teams celebrate the 600th Atlas launch, Vandenberg last month celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first ICBM Atlas launch from it's complex.

On the
morning of September 9, 1959, the Vandy launch team launched an Atlas 12D rocket - the first of it kind.

"Before the Atlas 12D was launched, nothing to its magnitude had ever been accomplished," Jay Prichard who is the curator of the Vandenberg Heritage Center stated last month on the 50th anniversary. "It is amazing how the pioneers of Vandenberg took, at the time, only a concept and created something that was operationally reliable. The kicker is -- we still use it today. They weren't just doing rocket science, they were creating it."

Thursday, October 15, 2009

NASA ARES 1X rocket to rollout on Tuesday

The future of America's human space flight will take it's first baby steps on Tuesday morning as NASA sends out to the launch pad a new rocket designed to replace the space shuttle fleet in the coming years ahead.

The Ares 1X rocket test launch will be the first step in the beginning of the Constellation program which will consist of both Ares 1 and Ares 5 rockets transporting Americans and her space partners to the International Space Station and beyond.

Rollout from high bay 3 of the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center is scheduled to begin one minute after midnight this Tuesday morning as it rides a top Mobile Launcher Platform #1. Approximately 7 hours later, the MLP should arrive at launch pad 39-B following it's slow crawl over four miles.

Rollout was originally planned for this Monday, but
"During testing late on October 14, hydraulics engineers detected a gaseous nitrogen leak in the accumulator which is located in the aft skirt of the rocket. The pressurized nitrogen is leaking past a seal and into the area of the accumulator containing hydraulic fluid. The accumulator absorbs hydraulic pressure spikes as the system operates. The accumulator (was) removed and replaced today," according to Kennedy Space Center officials.

Pad 39-B has supported space shuttle launches since 1986 and was recently decommissioned to begin supporting the Ares program.

Launch of the new Ares is scheduled for October 27th at 8AM EDT - the launch window is four hours and is dictated by workers rest. Much like the first space shuttle launch, the launch team will be working through an entirely new launch countdown procedure book and the computers will be checking to ensure is item is completed before it commits to launch.

Once launched, technicians here at Kennedy will collect data on several key points:
  • The way the Ares 1 leaves the pad and rolls
  • How the Ares handles under staging
  • Aerodynamic loads as it reaches Mach 1 and beyond and the stress loads of 2.5 G's
  • and dummy capsule return
Once Ares 1X launches from pad 39-B, it will generate 2.6 million pounds of thrust as it rises to begin a new era of space flight, that is if the Obama administration elects to keep Ares.

The Ares first stage will separate at an altitude of 130,000 feet out over the Atlantic Ocean, however due to it's forward velocity of Mach 4.7, the Ares will travel up to around 150,000 feet before falling back. will have LIVE video coverage of the unmanned flight beginning at 7AM EDT on launch day. Follow us via Twitter @spacelaunchnews.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Russian Soyuz U launches cargo to Station

A Russian Space Agency rocket lofted a major cargo craft into earth orbit early on Thursday morning, beginning a three day journey bound for the International Space Station.

Lift-off from the Baikonour Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan occurred tonight at 9:14:37 pm EDT (5:14:37 am Moscow time) from Pad 1 . The Soyuz upper stage with the Progress M-03M supply ship arrived in a low orbit ten minutes later. The Progress will continue to fly lower than the space station's 222 mile high orbit to allow the craft to catch up and dock on Saturday.

The two stage rocket's on time launch is the first of three main flights from here in Kazakhstan to the station before December. A new station docking segment and two new crew members aboard a Soyuz TMA17 are scheduled to arrive in the coming weeks.

On board the Progress is 1,918 pounds of propellant and fuel; 926 pounds of water; 110 pounds of oxygen and air; and 1,750 pounds of spare parts and supplies for the station's crew, according to the Johnson Space Center.

This 35th Progress cargo craft will orbit earth in a lower orbit than that of the station in order to rendezvous early on. The craft's automatic docking to the Russian Pirs docking port is scheduled for Saturday evening at 9:41 pm EDT.

The orbital outpost was high over southeastern Russia at the time of the Soyuz U booster launch. (Images via Yuzhny Space Center)

Russia to launch supply craft to Space Station

The Russian Space Agency will launch a Soyuz rocket tonight with a cargo craft filled with fresh supplies and equipment bound for the International Space Station.

Launch of a Soyuz U rocket with the Progress M-03M resupply craft is targeted for tonight at 9:14 pm EDT (01:14 GMT) from Launch Complex 17P32's Pad 1. The launch window is five minutes.

The Soyuz U (above) was rolled out to it's launch pad at the Bakinour launch site yesterday.

"The Progress is carrying 1,918 pounds of propellant, 110 pounds of oxygen and air, 926 pounds of water and 1,750 pounds of spare parts and supplies for the Expedition 21 crew," according to the Johnson Space Center.

The three stage, 168-foot Soyuz U will liftoff with the thrust from four RD-117 min engines and several smaller thrusters to control pitch and steady it's climb to orbit.

The 35th Progress cargo craft will spend nearly two days catching up with the space station prior to docking to the Russian Pirs Docking port on Saturday evening at 9:41 pm EDT.

Expedition 21 Commander Frank De Winne and Flight Engineers Bob Thirsk, Roman Romanenko, Jeff Williams, Nicole Stott and Max Suraev are the current six person crew aboard the station and will monitor the craft's automatic docking.

Space shuttle Atlantis departs for Launch Pad

NASA and launch teams here at the Kennedy Space Center are spending today moving the space shuttle Atlantis out to her ocean side launch pad in preparation for her journey into space next month.

Riding a top Mobile Launcher Platform #3, Atlantis departed the massive Vehicle Assembly Building to begin her 3.4 mile trip out to launch pad 39-A at 6:38 am EDT this morning -- a bit later than planned due to light rain.

The MLP moves at a top speed of 1 mph with a space shuttle stack a top it as it rolls along it's own private road made up of multiple layers of bedrock and stone. At all times the MLP has to keep it's top surface level, thus when it approaches an incline, it will raise either end to match a level area.

At 8AM, the MLP stopped for five minutes due to an area of concern which turned out to be nothing.

Atlantis is scheduled to depart KSC bound for the International Space Station on November 12 on a resupply flight.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Next Space Shuttle Mission prepares for Launch

The next space shuttle mission is stepping up preparations for launch with it's journey out to her seaside launch pad this week with lift-off only one month away.

Space shuttle Atlantis was moved over to the massive Vehicle Assembly Building last Tuesday to be hoisted up and connected to her rust colored external tank. However, as the yellow brackets attached to the mid-body sections of the orbiter raised it into a vertical position, the crane moving Atlantis stopped working forcing a delay in the mating operation.

The following day, the crane was back at work (above) moving Atlantis into the vertical position above the external tank and rocket boosters attached to the mobile launcher platform. It then slowly lowered the orbiter down for the hard mate connections at the tank umbilicals.

Rollout of the STS-129 space shuttle stack atop the mobile platform from the VAB is set for Wednesday morning at just after midnight EDT.

Once the MLP arrives at launch pad 39-A here at the Kennedy Space Center, hoses and power cords will be connected and the launch team will get the space shuttle prepared for its planned launch on November 12th at 4:04 pm EDT.

Five days later, Atlantis crew of six will arrive on the Space Coast to begin three days of training which will wrap up with a practice launch countdown. Known as TCDT or terminal countdown demonstration test, the STS-129 crew will don their orange partial pressure suits and depart for the launch pad to board Atlantis just as they will do on launch day.

Atlantis - commanded by Charlie Hobaugh and piloted by Barry Wilmore - will make the 34th space shuttle flight to the International Space Station next month. Mission specialists Robert Satcher, Michael Foreman, Randy Bresnik and Leland Melvin round out the crew.

Friday, October 09, 2009

NASA watches Duel Lunar Impacts Today

A rocket's upper stage and a NASA spacecraft made craters of their own upon the Moon this morning as the space agency begins a strong search for signs of water on the Lunar surface.

The LCROSS satellite and it's launch booster Centaur slammed into the south pole of the Moon today just four minutes apart beginning with the Centaur at 7:31 am EDT.
The Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) then crashed into the Cabeus crater at 7:35:35 am.

The NASA image above was take by LCROSS two minutes before it's own demise of the Cabeus crater.

NASA has begun a new era in the exploration of the Moon as humankind works toward it's return with a new set of footprints after 2020.

The LRO was 50 KM over head of the impact regions
in lunar orbit taking images. Meanwhile, the Edwin Hubble Space Telescope was also trained on the impacts as it orbited earth 350 miles above earth.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Delta 2 launches High Res Imaging Satellite

Earth has it's first high resolution imaging satellite in orbit today following its lift-off into the beautiful blue sky from it's California launch site.

DigitalGlobe's WorldView-2 satellite was launched into a polar orbit, an orbit which will see the spacecraft cover and create high resolution images of over 94% of the earth's surface as it travels from pole to pole.

Lift-off from Space Launch Complex 2 at Vandenberg, AFB in California occurred a few minutes late at 2:51 pm EDT (11:51 am local time), due to a battery voltage issue on the Delta rocket.

"There really is nothing quite as exciting as seeing one of these powerful little rockets jump off the pad," stated Col. David Buck - the 30th Space Wing commander- said. "I'm incredibly proud.."

Sixty-one minutes into the launch, the WorldView-2 then separated from the Delta' ssecond stage to begin it's multi-year mission.

WorldView-2 was launched into a 98.5 degree inclination orbit so that it can photograph over 95% of the earth's surface. These new images will be used during the coming years to assist in improving our navigation maps from construction layouts to ecological improvement planning, and oil and new fuel exploration.

NASA satellite & booster to impact Moon Friday

A NASA Lunar observation satellite and it's booster rocket will leave their orbit around the Moon and make pinpoint crashes as the space agency looks for signs of ice in the shadows of a crater.

The double impact early on Friday morning will see the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) and it's Atlas-Centaur upper stage booster slam into the crater Cabeus near the Moon's south pole.

Beginning at 7:30 am EDT tomorrow, the Centaur booster will take the plunge first as it hits the shadows of the crater and, as NASA states, creating "10 billion joules of kinetic energy into a blinding flash of heat and light".

LCROSS will be focused on the 4,850 pound Centaur as it provides Live TV of the first impact.

LCROSS will then move in and fly through the Lunar plume of dust and rock photographing and scanning for any form of moisture, as NASA looks for signs of ice in the minus 250 degree shadows.

Four minutes following the first impact, the 1,543 pound LCROSS will begin it's own crash landing into the same crater creating a smaller size plume of lunar soil.

Meanwhile, NASA will have the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and Edwin Hubble Space Telescope photographing the first and second Lunar impacts from their postions between the earth and the Moon.

Tony Colaprete, the Lunar mission's investigator stated days ago, "We've just learned that Cabeus may contain relatively-rich deposits of hydrogen and-or frozen water. Cabeus is not as close to the lunar limb as we would have liked, but it seems to offer us the best chance of hitting H2O."

Here on Earth, astronomers will have their own telescopes trained on the Lunar impacts a few hours before the events begin.

Look for the Moon, which will be 82% full, to be high above the horizon at the impact times. will have LIVE TV beginning at 6:14 am EDT on Friday. Follow our updates via Twitter @SpaceLaunchNews.

Read my LRO-LCROSS mission stories from 2009.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Atlantis moved for mating to tank & boosters

The space shuttle Atlantis was rolled from the orbiter processing facility to the massive vehicle assembly building early this morning, for mating to her external tank and rocket boosters prior to the twip out to the launch pad.

Atlantis is scheduled to launch no earlier than November 12 at 4:04 pm EST, to begin a 14 day mission to resupply the International Space Station and deliver two equipment storage pallets. The two express logistics carriers will be mounted on the exterior of the station.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Vandenberg, AFB to launch WorldView-2 Thursday

The first commercial high resolution earth imaging satellite is just days away from heading into orbit to begin taking the finest detailed pictures of our big blue marble.

DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-2 will launch into a polar orbit around the earth, and operate from it's perch 478 miles using an eight-band color spectrum for the finest quality images. A polar orbit is when a satellite travels from north pole to south pole.

Liftoff of a United Launch Alliance Delta 2-7920-10 rocket from Vandenberg, Air Force Base in California is set for this Thursday, October 8 at 2:38 pm EDT (11:38 am local time) -- the beginning of a 14 minute launch window.

The Delta 2 will use nine strap-on solid rocket boosters to assist in the climb to place the WorldView-2 in orbit. Six will ignite at lift-off and later separate 86 seconds into the ascent. Meanwhile, 65 seconds after launch three boosters will ignite after clearing MAX-Q, the period of maximum pressure on the rocket where the speed of the rocket and the earth's atmosphere present the most dynamic pressures on the Delta 2.

WorldView-2 will be launched into a 98.5 degree inclination orbit so that it can photograph over 95% of the earth's surface. These new images will be used during the coming years to assist in improving our maps; from construction layouts to ecological improvement planning; oil and new fuel exploration and will assist in studying recent climate effects on our planet such as the polar ice caps.

The 5,765 pound WorldView-2 satellite will be able to scan about 376,000 square miles as it orbits sections of the earth each day. It will be able to store up to 2,190 GB (giga-bytes) of data, and then relay the stored images down to a ground station at a speed of 800 Mbps (megabytes per second). There are 1,024 MB in one GB.

If you use Google maps or have a GPS in your car or cellular phone, you will see improved details in the land region maps you use to navigate across.

In September 2007, a Delta 2 launched the WorldView-1 from the California launch site.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

SLN VIDEO: Ariane 5 Launch Tonight

An Ariane 5 rocket lifts-off from Kourou, South America this evening at 5:59:07 pm EDT. A beautiful launch which saw the successful deployment of two satellites.

ESA Ariane 5 rocket to launch Tonight

A European Space Agency heavy lift launcher is scheduled to depart the Spaceport in French Guiana this evening on a multi-satellite delivery mission for both Spain and Germany.

Lift-off of the 47th Ariane 5 rocket from launch pad ELA-3 at Kourou, located in South America's upper east coast, is set for October 1st at 5:59:07 pm EDT (7PM local time) -- the opening of a 71 minute launch window.

As the clock strikes T-0, the Ariane 5's core engine will ignite followed by the vehicle's twin solid rocket boosters seven seconds later. Following lift-off, the

The work horse of the Ariane fleet will loft two satellite's into orbit a half-hour following launch. This will be the fifth launch of an Ariane 5 this year, with two more flights remaining in 2009.

Riding at the top of the two satellite stack will be the AMAZONAS-2, a Spanish telecommunications satellite which will be used by Brazil to transmit programming to both North and South America. It is scheduled to be deployed first at 6:26 pm.

AMAZONAS-2 will operate from a perch located in a geostationary orbit of 22,236 miles above the earth's equator and at 61 degrees West latitude.

Below AMAZONAS-2 in the nose section of Ariane will be the German Ministry of Defense payload known as COMSATBw-1. The German satellite will be used as a "secure network for voice, data, fax, video and multimedia transmissions", according to Arianespace. It will be released from the Ariane upper stage at 6:32 pm.

COMSATBw-1 will also operate from geostationary orbit and at 63 degrees east.

Both satellites were built in France for the separate agencies and are expected to operate for fifteen years.
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