Monday, December 28, 2009

VIDEO: Tonight's successful Proton-M launch

An ILS Proton-M rocket launches the DirecTV-12 satellite tonight.

Russian Proton rocket launches DirecTV satellite

A new satellite which will increase the amount of high definition channels DirecTV offers arrived in orbit tonight, and will spend the next several hours moving into a permanent position to service the United States this spring.

An International Launch Services Proton-M rocket lifted-off on time at 7:22 pm EST tonight (0022 GMT Tuesday morning) from a chilly pad 39 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome and into an overcast sky.

The silver 191-foot tall Proton launched into the cold night sky on the final space shot of 2009, and flew eastward out of Kazakhstan and over Mongolia. Two minutes into the flight, the first stage separated from the upper stage.

Spacecraft separation is planned for 4:32 am EST (3:32 pm Baikonur time) on Tuesday.

The seventh ILS Proton launch of the year carried the Boeing-built DirecTV 12 will provide expanded high definition channels for the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii.

The satellite will use two huge Ka-band refelctors -- each measuring nearly 3 meters in diameter -- for the reception and transmission of over 200 cable channels.

Since 1994, Boeing has built 11 satellites for DirecTV.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Proton-M prepares for Monday night launch

On a cold, frosty Christmas morning at the Yuzhny Space Center in Kazakhstan, a Russian Proton-M rocket was transfered to launch pad 39 in preparation for it's night launch on the morning of December 29th (local time).

The snow covered space center was a beautiful touch to a desert region as the Proton was moved by railway. Thank-you to S.Sergeev at Yuzhny for the great images and read our story below) will carry the prelaunch through ascent LIVE beginning at 7PM EST on Monday evening (0:00 GMT on Tuesday morning).

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Russian Proton to Launch DirecTV Satellite Monday

A Russian rocket will deliver to orbit a telecommunications satellite for the Americas next week as the final earth launch of the year.

A new DirecTV satellite will support broader high definition broadcasts to the United States, and increase the amount of HD channels DirecTV carries. Built by Boeing Space, the spacecraft will orbit in geostationary orbit, and will support an additional 200-plus HD channels for the broadcast company.

Liftoff of the Proton M rocket (UR-500) with the DirecTV-12 satellite is planned for December 28th at 7:22 pm EST (0022 GMT Dec. 29) from pad 39 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

The 1.55 million pound Proton M's launch profile will see the rocket fly eastward over Kazakhstan, neighboring Mongolia and eastern China before sailing over the Korean peninsula and southern Japan. It's orbital inclination will then carry it over the southern Pacific Ocean and then up toward South America.

The Proton's first stage -- which supports six liquid fueled RD-276 engines and a core engine -- will burn from launch until just prior to stage separation at T+2 minutes. The second stage will then burn three RD-0210 engines for the next 206 seconds of the flight. The rocket's third stage will next take over to carry the satellite into low earth orbit.

A series of five burns will then raise the craft's orbit ever higher to it's geo-transfer orbit.

Spacecraft separation from it's kick motor is scheduled to occur nine hours, ten minutes post-launch over southern Somalia, Africa, in an initial orbit of 3,181 x 22,236 miles.

Designed to operate for 15 years, the DirecTV satellite will become operational by March and operate over the equator at a planned position of 102.8 west longitude.

The 131-transponder DirecTV-12 spacecraft was mated to the Proton's adapter on December 13. A day later, the adapter was then mated to the rocket's Breeze-M upper stage, according to International Launch Services.

Monday's launch will be the seventh ILS Proton launch of 2009, and only the 56th Proton launch for ILS overall.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Crew of Five aboard Space Station

Carrying a small decorated Christmas tree and wearing a red Santa cap, Soyuz commander Kotov entered the space station at 7:35 pm EST tonight, followed by elf's Creamer and Noguchi, and beginning their six month stay in space.

Hatch opening occurred at 7:30 pm this evening (3:30 am Moscow time) as the station passed 220 miles above the central Atlantic Ocean.

As quickly as the crew of entered the orbital outpost, they were ordered back inside their newly arrived Soyuz TMA-17 craft so that Russia's Mission Control could properly video record the crew's ingress into the station.

Minutes later, Mission Control in Moscow told the crew to go back again and to video record the crew's holiday dressed entrance into the space station for a third time.

As the minutes then went by with the Soyuz crew inside their space taxi again, the station's commander Jeff Williams and flight engineer Max Surave began to get a bit impatient with the staging of the ceremony.

"If we wait to much longer then the guys will get their feelings hurt and not want to come out," Surave radioed Moscow.

New crew members arrive at Space Station

Three new crew members arrived at their port-of-call tonight as a Russian Soyuz craft docked with earth's orbital outpost.

A Soyuz TMA-17 spacecraft docked with the Russian Zarya section of the International Space Station at 5:48:20 pm EST (1:48 am Moscow time) this evening 220 miles off the east coast of southern Brazil.

"Welcome to station, guys, your home for six months," Williams stated ten minutes later.

Soyuz commander Oleg V. Kotov brought the craft into a slow approach with the station to 150 meters prior to docking. An automatic docking system piloted the Soyuz to Zarya earth-facing port minutes ahead of schedule.

Joining Kotov inside the Soyuz is American astronaut Timothy J. Creamer and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi. All three are just two days into their six month journey upon the ocean of space.

The space trio will join current station crew members,
Expedition 22 Commander Jeffery Williams and Flight Engineer Maxim Suraev, who have been aboard the space station since October 2.

Kotov, who will serve as flight engineer during the Expedition 22, and in March assume the title of station commander as the Expedition 23 timeline begins with the Soyuz TMA16 undocking on March 18th.

Russian cosmonauts Suraev and Kotov on January 14 will perform a spacewalk and complete some work outside of the Poisk module which is connected to the Zvezda module.

Kotov, Creamer and
Noguchi will undock from station aboard the Soyuz TMA 17 for the trip back to earth this May.

Hatch opening could occur as early as 7:35 pm EST.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Expedition 22 crew headed for Space Station

images via NASA & energia

The 22nd expedition crew is bound for the International Space Station.

On a beautiful, cold evening in Kazakhstan at the Baikonur Cosmodrome tonight, an American, Russian and Japanese astronaut boarded their Soyuz spacecraft and lifted-off toward a holiday link-up with earth's orbital outpost in space.

As a crescent Moon hung over the space center, American astronaut Timothy (T.J.) Creamer, Russian cosmonaut Oleg V. Kotov and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi boarded their Soyuz TMA-17 craft perched a top a Soyuz FG LV rocket at pad 1 two hours before launch.

As the countdown reached zero, fuel and support arms retracted away from the 151-foot tall rocket. The Soyuz FG's four liquid fueled boosters and core main engine ignited on time launching the international crew of three upward at 4:52 pm EST (2152 GMT) from it's pad.

As the Soyuz launched, the Space Station flew 224 statue miles over the southern coast of Chilie, South America.

Two minutes into the rocket's climb to orbit, the boosters emptied their fuel and were jettisoned. Seven minutes later, the craft was in low earth orbit of 125 statue miles.

Creamer is making his first trip into space, while Kotov and Noguchi are each making their second visit to the space station.

After completing 34 orbits of the earth, the Soyuz TMA17 will make a slow approach to the station and dock to the Russian Zarya module on Tuesday. Docking time is planned for 5:54 pm EST (1:54 am Moscow time), howe
ver docking will likely happen a few minutes earlier than planned based on the quickness of their orbital rendezvous.

Once docked, the trio will join
Expedition 22 Commander Jeffery Williams and Flight Engineer Maxim Suraev who have been aboard the space station since October 2.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Russian Soyuz to carry new crew to Station

The two-man crew of the International Space Station will receive three new crew mates in a few days as a Russian Space Agency Soyuz rocket prepares for launch on Sunday.

American Jeffery Williams and Russian Maxim Suraev have been alone 222 miles above earth aboard the station for the last few weeks, and they are looking forward to the Soyuz's arrival on Tuesday.

American astronaut T.J. Creamer, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kotov and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi will begin a six month voyage upon the vast ocean of space as members of both the station's Expedition 22 and 23 crews.

The Soyuz FG rocket (above, on Dec. 18) with the Soyuz TMA 17 spacecraft will lift-off on Sunday at 4:52 pm EST, (2152 GMT) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

After a two day orbital chase to catch up with the space station, the TMA 17 will slowly move in and dock with the PIERS segment at 5:54 pmEST (22:54 GMT) on Tuesday.

Included with the international crew of three will be fresh supplies such as food, water, experiments, and small hardware in support of station operations.

Between now and February, the orbital outpost will see a lot of activity as the Soyuz docks; an unmanned Russian Progress 36P cargo ship docks on Feb. 5; and the space shuttle Endeavour arrives on Feb. 9 with the massive Tranquility module and the Cupola section. will carry the launch LIVE beginning at 4PM EST (2100 GMT) on Sunday. Follow us via Twitter via @spacelaunchnews.

Friday, December 18, 2009

VIDEO: Ariane 5 Launches HELIOS 2B Today

VIDEO: Today's Ariane 5 launch from Kourou, SA with HELIOS 2B.

Twice delayed Ariane 5 Successfully Launches

Just in time for the Holidays, an Ariane 5 lifted-off from South America today giving Arianespace a celebration as they conclude the year with seven successful flights and their 30th year in the launch business.

The Ariane 5 GS fired it's core engine and rocket boosters and launched from pad ELA-3 at the Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana at 11:26:07 am EST, today (1626 GMT) into a blue sky.

The 151-foot heavy lift launcher rose with it's mighty Vulcain 1B main engine and three solid fueled boosters north out over the Atlantic waters.

This 193rd Ariane rocket sat thru two launch scrubs in the last two weeks due to technical issues.

Today's launch was the third "GS" configured Ariane 5 rocket, the previous two GS flights having flown in 2007.

The HELIOS 2B was deployed into a Sun-synchronous polar orbit as the observatory orbits the earth from pole to pole. This orbital path will allow for it to have a larger coverage region of the globe.

The satellite will be used by multiple European counties to create maps
of uncharted regions and create 3-D landscape images for better intelligence for the countries of France, Greece, Belgium, Italy and Spain.

HELIOS was built by several European aerospace companies such as Thales Alenia Space, with EADS Astrium as the prime contractor.

Ariane 5's launch today was the 35th back-to-back successful launch of an Ariane 5; and also marked it's 49th flight with the 50th flight now planned for February.

Ariane 5 mission to try again Today

A third launch try is underway at the Spaceport in Kourou, South America this morning as the launch team works to launch an Ariane 5 on a record seventh flight in one calendar year.

Launch time is planned for 11:26:07 am EST, and there is no launch window for this precise French military mission.

A launch attempt of the 150-foot rocket on Thursday was thwarted in the final six minutes of the count by an unknown technical issue.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ariane 5's seventh launch of '09 set for Thursday

A European Space Agency rocket is set to carry a French military observation satellite into earth orbit on Thursday following a one week launch delay due to an issue with the rocket's core stage liquid helium plumbing.

The HELIOS 2B satellite was built for the French Ministry of Defense, and will orbit the earth as a military observatory to keep track of world activities.

The Ariane 5 GS rocket is set to make it's seventh launch of the year from the Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on Thursday, December 17 at 11:26:07 am EST.

Ariane 5 will launch from the northern South American coastline and steer north-northeast out over the northern Atlantic Ocean. Ariane's second stage will then carry the satellite over the eastern section of Quebec, Canada and up the latitudes toward the north pole region at T+26 minutes, 33 seconds.

Spacecraft separation should occur on time at 12:25:23 pm EST, near western Australia.

The HELIOS 2B will be deployed into a Sun-synchronous polar orbit. As the observation satellite orbits the earth from pole to pole, it will have a larger coverage region of the globe.

The satellite will wear many hats as it maps uncharted regions and create 3-D landscape images for better intelligence for the countries of France, Greece, Belgium, Italy and Spain.

HELIOS was built by several European aerospace companies such as Thales Alenia Space, with EADS Astrium as the prime contractor.

Ariane 5 will mark it's 49th launch on Thursday; and this will also mark the 193rd Ariane rocket flight

Monday, December 14, 2009

Infrared Telescope launches to study the Universe

images NASA/VAFB

A new NASA telescope with the ability to detect faint light from stars and other bodies in the universe departed earth this morning to begin a seven month mission to learn more about our celestrial neighbors.

A United Launch Alliance Delta II-7320 rocket lifted-off under a cloudy California sky this morning at 6:09:33 am PST (9:09 am EST) from Vandenberg Air Force Base, carrying aloft NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer telescope.

Powered by three solid rocket boosters and a core stage main engine, the Delta II launched into the predawn sky and into a southern trajectory out over the Pacific Ocean.

As the Delta raced to take WISE into polar orbit, it's three boosters emptied their propellant 64 seconds into the launch at an altitude of 9 nautical miles, and 35 seconds later were dropped from the sides of the rocket as it moved just over two times the speed of sound.

Following main stage separation and several second stage burns, the WISE spacecraft left the rocket to begin it's own journey of discovery as it raced over northwestern Madagascar at 7:04:53 am PST at a speed of Mach 22.3.

Once WISE is operational in a few weeks it will begin to conduct surveys of the earth's night. Using it's very sensitive infrared telescope, WISE will be able to detect faint light levels in the Universe such as brown dwarfs; luminous galaxies; and distant lights as WISE provides a astronomical road map for the soon to be launched James Webb space telescope.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

NASA WISE infrared telescope to Launch Monday

A new NASA satellite will begin a six month long mission this weekend as it aims it's infrared telescope out toward deep space and peers out to uncover new galaxies, asteroids and stars.

Lift-off of a United Launch Alliance Delta II-7320 rocket has been rescheduled for Monday, December 11th at 9:09:36 am EST, from Vandenberg, AFB in California. The launch window is 14 minutes.

The Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) will scan our section of the universe with it's very sensitive IR telescope looking for a glow ommitted from the millions of objects near to Earth and thousands of light years away.

Brown dwarf stars are dim stars which NASA hopes will be seen with greater quality as WISE takes a infared image and scientists back on earth study the glow of the object.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

VIDEO: Tonight's Delta IV ULA Launch Highlights

Delta IV launches from Cape Canaveral tonight @ 8:47 pm EST.

Delta IV Launches Advanced Air Force Satellite

A United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket waited out multiple launch delays this week and lifted-off at the last minute tonight on a successful flight to deliver an advanced military communications satellite into orbit.

Weather and a technical glitch delayed this 11th launch of a Delta IV by several days, and again high winds pushed the launch time this evening from the the first minute of the launch window to the final minute.

The third Delta IV launch of the year ignited her main core engine and four solid rocket boosters and departed Florida's Space Coast at 8:47 pm EST, with the Air Force's Wideband Global SATCOM 3 satellite.

As the white and rust-orange colored Delta IV climbed higher into the dark Atlantic sky, the four rocket boosters -- having burned it's propellant -- dropped two at a time from the core main stage 104 seconds into the flight. The vehicle was passing through 22 nautical miles altitude at the time.

The RS-68 main engine continued it's burn for another two minutes & 25 seconds as it flew south eastward out over the Atlantic Ocean and toward the west coast of central Africa.

The WGS-3 separated from the Delta's upper stage on time as it flew 1,415 nm over northeastern Angola, Africa at 9:27:39 pm.

The WGS-3 is more than a high tech communications relay satellite, but a high speed data transfer relay. It will be able to transmit data packets at speeds between 2.4 and 3.6 gigabytes per second.

The spacecraft will ba able to cover 19 regions of the eastern hemisphere, and will operate in the 500 Mhz X-band and the 1 GHz of the Ka-band.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Air Force High Speed Satellite set for Launch

A highly advanced United States military communications satellite will head into orbit tonight aboard a Delta IV rocket, giving the troops on ground and in the air a faster data network to communicate.

The Wideband Global SATCOM 3, or WGS-3, is the third in a series of space-based communication relays to assist field troops in the middle eastern regions and Afghanistan.

A United Launch Alliance Delta IV is scheduled to launch from complex 37 here at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Saturday at 7:23 pm EST. The launch window is open for 83 minutes.

This Delta IV- M(edium) flight will launch with four solid rocket boosters and a RS-68 engine in the core of the rocket.

The RS engine will ignite five seconds before T-0, followed by the four boosters igniting at zero.

The 13,200-pound spacecraft will fly into a supersynchronous transfer orbit of 237 x 36,167 nautical miles following separation from the Delta's upper stage. The satellite's separation will take place over northern Madagascar at T+40 minutes, 53 seconds into the flight. Orbital inclination will be 24 degrees.

The WGS-3 is more than a high tech communications relay satellite, but a high speed data transfer relay. It will be able to transmit data packets at speeds between 2.4 and 3.6 gigabytes per second.

The spacecraft will ba able to cover 19 regions of the eastern hemisphere, and will operate in the 500 Mhz X-band and the 1 GHz of the Ka-band.

This weekend's launch will mark the 11th launch of a Delta IV rocket since it's first flight in November 2002.

This Delta IV flight will also mark the 36th launch of a ULA supported flight in the last 36 months. ULA was formed in December 2006 with the coming together of Lockheed Martin and The Boeing Company. ULA supports both Delta II & IV and Atlas V launch campaigns. will cover the launch of the Delta IV beginning at 6:55 pm EST, on Saturday. Also, follow us via Twitter: @spacelaunchnews for live updates to your phone.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Delta IV launch scrubbed due to Weather

Launch of a Delta IV rocket was scrubbed this evening due to mid-level clouds and a technical issue at the pad here on America's Space Coast.

The plan now is to work toward a new launch try on Friday evening at 7:22 pm EST -- the opening of an 83-minute launch window.

The launch team waited through the entire 81-minute launch window before making the call to stand down for the night at 8:34 pm EST. Weather does not look favorable for tomorrow evening as a weather system continues to bring rain and low clouds to the Cape Canaveral region.

A new high speed communications satellite for the United States Air Force is the payload for this flight.
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