Friday, July 28, 2017

Marine Test Pilot, Russian and Italian Launch to International Space Station

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- An American Marine Top Gun test pilot, a Russian biochemist, and an Italian Special Forces parachutist lifted off on Friday a top a Russian Soyuz rocket beginning a voyage to rendezvous and dock with International Space Station.

Nearly six hours later, the crew of three successfully docked to the Russian Rasvet module on the Earth facing side of the space station at 5:54 p.m. EDT -- seven minutes earlier than planned.

NASA astronaut Randy J. Bresnik, Russian Soyuz commander Sergey Ryazanskiy, and Europe's Paolo Nespoli, all three space veterans, will be busy with a multitude of science experiments; the arrival and undocking of several unmanned cargo crafts; and spacewalking as they prepare the orbital outpost for new hardware.

Launched from the historic launch site at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 11:41 a.m. EDT (9:41 p.m. local), today's lift-off occurred from the same pad Russia's Sputnik 1 launched from sixty years ago this October. That successful satellite launch in 1957 heralded the dawn of the space age.

As the Soyuz soared skyward into the darkening skies of sunset, a 400-foot golden flame pushed the rocket higher as it traveled eastward. Nearly nine minutes later, a strong jolt was felt by the crew as their Soyuz spacecraft separated from the rocket's third stage upon reaching orbit 125 miles above.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Space Station to Perform Three Orbit Chase of Solar Eclipse

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Astronauts aboard the International Space Station may have the best windows for viewing the Great American Eclipse as they photograph and record August's astronomical event during three consecutive orbits.

Soaring 255 miles above, the six person crew of Expedition 52 will have detailed observation objectives in place as they point cameras from the Cupola's windows while they trek across North America once every 91 minutes. They will also be the first humans to witness this solar eclipse thanks to orbital mechanics.

In May 2012, NASA astronaut Don Pettit witnessed a solar eclipse from Earth orbit. "It is amazing to see an eclipse from orbit," Pettit recalled. "The shadow on Earth looks just like what you see in the physics and astronomy books."

Newly released ground tracks by NASA provided to AvGeekery.com show the space station's three positions as it passes through the Moon's penumbra during the midday hours of August 21 -- the height of solar eclipse across America. Astronauts will attach special solar filters to their 400 mm and 800 mm cameras as they approach their first observation's over the Pacific Ocean.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

SpaceX Falcon 9 launch marks historic milestone at Kennedy Space Center

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- A uncrewed SpaceX cargo craft departed America's Space Coast on Saturday loaded with nearly three tons of supplies for astronauts living and working aboard the International Space Station.

The SpaceX launch marked the first reflight of a Dragon spacecraft, and also set a historic milestone from America's Spaceport.

A Space Exploration Technologies Corp. Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center's Pad-39A on June 3 at 5:07:38 p.m. EDT, blazing a trail out over the Atlantic Ocean. The lift-off marked the 100th rocket launch from the historic launch complex 39-A.

The launch pad was first used fifty years ago this November as the first Saturn V moon rocket launched during the uncrewed Apollo 4 mission. Pad 39-A later supported many notable space flights including Apollo 11's mission to first land man on the moon in 1969; America's first space station Skylab in 1973; the first space shuttle flight in 1981 and 81 subsequent shuttle flights; and today, SpaceX launches.

Signed in April 2014 by CEO Elon Musk, SpaceX has an exclusive twenty-year lease with NASA to use 39A for both uncrewed launches, and future crewed missions aimed at sending astronauts to the space station and Mars. A Dragon 2 spacecraft will be used for crewed flights to the station beginning in summer of 2018.

Monday, May 15, 2017

SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts-off from Kennedy Space Center with Inmarsat 5 F4

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- A high-speed broadband spacecraft designed to increase advanced data services to remote maritime and aviation locations lifted off on Monday from America's Space Coast.

Inmarsat 5 F4 Global Xpress satellite will expand high-speed broadband connectivity across the planet with Ka-Band service. The $240 million spacecraft will soon join a fleet of three fifth-generation telecommunications satellites in geo-stationary orbit.

Built by Boeing in El Segundo, California, the global communications spacecraft has twin solar arrays for a combined 42 meters -- longer than that of a Boeing 737 aircraft. Inmarsat is scheduled to operate on orbit for approximately 15 years.

"It's been a great afternoon and evening out at Kennedy Space Center," stated John Insprucker, SpaceX principal integration engineer, minutes following the craft release into space. "We counted down with excellent weather; launched right on time -- the first stage did great, the second stage went through two burns just as planned. Now, we've topped it off with the separation of Inmarsat 5 F4 for our Inmarsat customer."


A flawless countdown lead the Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) Falcon 9 to ignite it's nine Merlin engines on time, launching from the Kennedy Space Center's historic pad 39-A at 7:21 p.m. EDT. The white candlestick soared straight up and into the light blue clear skies before it began to veer toward the eastern horizon.
 
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