Posts tagged shuttle launch

NASA: Coolant lines a concern for February 7 shuttle launch

Tranquility NASA

NASA is reviewing a problem with coolant hoses that could force a delay to the planned Feb. 7 launch of Endeavour.

“We’re still targeting Feb. 7, but it has the potential to do that,” said Allard Beutel, a Kennedy Space Center spokesman. “We are looking at this as an issue.”

The ammonia coolant lines were to be attached to the Tranquility module, which is due to be delivered to the launch pad and installed in the shuttle next week, during one of three spacewalks.

But the hoses have experienced failures during pre-flight tests this week by a California supplier, and replacements are not readily available.

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Read the official NASA mission summary here

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Water on the Moon, Ares I-X, Logistics on ISS – Future Aspirations Mark 2009

If the first half of 2009 for NASA demonstrated the agency’s unwavering attention to safety, NASA not only continued that trend – upholding the utmost safety standards in the Space Shuttle and International Space Station Programs – during the second half of the year but also placed itself and its various programs in a tremendous position for the years to come.

Highlighting the second half of 2009 for NASA was the resolution of the Gaseous Hydrogen leaks at the Ground Umbilical Carrier Plate on the Shuttle launch pad (which resulted in the successful launch of STS-127/Endeavour in July), the midnight ride of Discovery on STS-128 in August, the amazingly successful test flight of the Ares I-X rocket in October, the discovery of water on the moon in October/November from the Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, and the logistics run of shuttle Atlantis to the ISS in November.

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NASA’s Shuttle, Satellite, and Space Telescope fleet triumph in 2009

For NASA, 2009 proved to be a stellar year, one filled with five extremely successful Space Shuttle missions (one of which repaired the Hubble Space Telescope), the test flight of the Ares I-X rocket, the launch of the Kepler Space Telescope, the launch of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and companion spacecraft the Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS), and the launch of the WISE spacecraft earlier this month.

In all, the first half of 2009 proved an extremely challenging and rewarding time for NASA. Form January to June, NASA completed a complicated analysis of the Space Shuttle fleets Flow Control Valves, launched the Kepler Space Telescope to search for extra-solar Earth-like planets, conducted the STS-119 Shuttle mission, performed a dual-pad flow for STS-125 and STS-400 and the subsequent and highly successful STS-125 mission to upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope, and launched LRO/LCROSS.

In a recent interview with NASASpaceFlight.com, Space Shuttle Program Launch Integration Manager Mike Moses talked extensively about the incredible year the Shuttle processing teams had and their ability to accomplish everything they did in 2009.

“It was all about the teams and their ability to create triple and quadruple redundancies in schedules,” Moses said.

“On the surface, it didn’t appear that we had all that challenging of a year. But if you take it month by month you can really see the issues the teams worked through and the amazing jobs those teams did to get us into a launch posture six times this year.”

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3 Astronauts Land on International Space Station

Three astronauts have landed safely on the International Space Station
floating 220 miles away from Earth. The newest residents of the space station are NASA astronaut T.J.

Creamer, Japanese Aerospace
Exploration Agency astronaut and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kotov. The crew met up with Jeff Williams and Maksim Suraev, who have been on board the ISS since October 2009.

The crew has several projects planned during their stay on the ISS over the next several months. The newest crew is slated to stay until May 2010. Kotov and Suraev are scheduled for a space walk in January with the others beginning work on various other projects.

Williams and Suraev are scheduled to return to Earth in March. Three more crew members from various space agencies
around the world will land on the ISS in April bumping the space crew total to six.

The newcomers brought plenty of Christmas cheer aboard the ISS. They brought a Christmas tree and Santa hats for a family photo aboard the ISS. The astronauts will have the Christmas holiday off before jumping back into work.

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MSNBC +++ Cosmic Log +++ The year in space

The highest highlight of 2009 was clearly the revival of the Hubble Space Telescope, a mission that blended moments of beauty and brute force 350 miles above the earth.

Or was it?

Maybe the top story was the reassessment of NASA’s plans for human spaceflight. After all, tens of billions of dollars could be at stake. Or maybe it was the series of victories in NASA-backed competitions that had gone unwon for years.

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Trio of NASA missions in 2010 will probe answers to secrets of the Earth, sun

Earth view from space

Taken by astronaut William Anders from the Apollo 8 spacecraft, this December 1968 photo of Earth rising over the lunar surface would become one of the most famous images of the 20th century. Credit: NASA

NASA heads into 2010 with the bittersweet assignment of retiring the space shuttle after nearly three decades. But that’s not all the agency has planned: There are also launches of three new satellites aimed at better understanding the Earth’s climate and oceans, and the sun.

Two of the probes will examine Earth — specifically the concentration of salt in the world’s oceans and the presence of aerosol particles, such as soot, in the atmosphere. A third mission will study the sun and its effect on space weather including solar flares that can disrupt communication on Earth.

All three come at a critical time for NASA. Data from the two Earth probes will likely influence global-warming research, and the trio of launches could serve as bright spots in a year otherwise dominated by debate over the future of the agency’s manned space program.

“They are extraordinary timely,” said Michael Freilich, head of NASA’s Earth-science division, of the two Earth probes. “It is a quest for understanding of the Earth system and [to improve] our ability to predict how our wonderful environment and our planet is going to change in the future.”

Combined, the three missions will cost more than $1.5 billion.

Get the full details here…

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NASA’s Kepler mission looks for new planets – just like Johannes wanted

Kepler Diagram image

“…we must choose between two assumptions: either the souls which move the planets are the less active the farther the planet is removed from the sun, or there is only one moving soul in the center of all the orbits, that is the sun, which drives the planet the more vigorously the closer the planet is, but whose force is quasi-exhausted when acting on the outer planets because of the long distance and the weakening of the force which it entails.” (in ref. 1, p 261)

As the story goes, on Christmas night 2,000 years ago, wise men followed a star in the night sky to reach the baby Jesus. NASA-Ames is following the stars too, looking for life on other worlds, and astronomers have a new celestial tool to help them.

“If we’re going to be looking for planets, earth-like planets are the key,” Foothill College Astronomy Department Chair Andrew Fraknoi said.

Fraknoi has loved astronomy since childhood. He says NASA’s Kepler mission is one of the most exciting in quite some time.

“In the last 16 years, we’ve discovered over 400 planets going around other stars, but the methods so far that we have been using only allowed us to find big planets like Jupiter,” Fraknoi said.

Kepler is a telescope designed to find planets orbiting other stars by looking for a break in the star light as a planet moves in front of it.

The challenge now is to find planets that are half to twice the size of the earth in the habitable zone of their stars, where it is possible that water and even life might exist.

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Astronauts geared for yuletide space adventure

Astronauts from the United States, Russia and Japan are poised for their holiday season space mission Monday, when they are to blast off to the International Space Station from Russia’s remote space complex in southern Kazakhstan.

Their Soyuz TMA-17 rocket is primed at the Baikonur launch pad — where Yuri Gagarin made the first human trip into orbit in 1961 — for a mission that will boost the number of crew at the orbital laboratory to five members.

American Timothy J. Creamer of NASA, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kotov and Soichi Noguchi of Japan are to blast off Monday at 3:52 a.m. local time (4:52 p.m. EST Sunday, 2152 GMT) in the first-ever launch of a Soyuz spaceship on a winter night.

After the liftoff in central Asia, the Soyuz will travel for about two days before docking with the space station 350 kilometers (220 miles) above Earth.

Striking a festive mood, the space station this week beamed a video Christmas greeting to Earth.

On its Web site, NASA has created a series of virtual postcards for members of the public to send to the space station with their holiday greetings.

The three astronauts will be joining Jeff Williams, another American NASA astronaut, and Russia’s Maxim Surayev, who have been alone on the space station since the start of the month.

The first space station crew arrived in 2000, two years after the first part was launched. Until the May launch, no more than three people lived up there at a time. Prior to that, there were as many as six people aboard for several periods when a space tourist would go up with one crew, spend a week or so aboard and come back with another crew.

With the U.S. shuttle fleet set to be grounded soon, NASA and other international partners will have to rely on Russian Soyuz spacecraft alone to ferry their astronauts to the space station and back.

Credit: The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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NASA maps Mercury, plans for 2011 orbit extravaganza

NASA’s Mercury planet exploration team this week said they have created critical tool for the first orbital observations of the planet – a global map of Mercury that will help scientists pinpoint craters, faults, and other features that will be essential for the space agency’s extensive 2011 mission.

That’s when NASA’s satellite MESSENGER (The Mercury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging, or MESSENGER) will become the first spacecraft to actually orbit Mercury — about 730 times — beaming back pictures and never-before-available pictures and information on the planet. To get into its proper orbit, MESSENGER has taken the scenic route through the solar system, including one flyby of Earth, two flybys of Venus, and three flybys of Mercury.

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ESA to launch Mars mission in partnership with NASA

ESA NASA project mars

The ExoMars programme will be launched in partnership with NASA. Credit: ESA

The European Space Agency, in collaboration with NASA, will launch two Mars exploration
missions in 2016 and 2018.

The ExoMars mission will be undertaken to probe the Martian atmosphere, especially astrobiological issues and to develop and demonstrate new technologies for planetary exploration with a long-term view of a future Mars sample return mission in the 2020s, ESA said.

The project, for which around $1.2 billion (850 million euro) has been sanctioned, will include an Orbiter plus an Entry, Descent and Landing Demonstrator, to be launched in 2016, and two rovers which would be sent in 2018.

“This marks an important moment for Europe in its steps towards space exploration on the world scale,” David Southwood, Director of Science and Robotic Exploration, said.

“We have been to the planets before, sure. But now we have a plan for exploration ahead to build our technical capability and explore Mars in a long-term partnership,” he said.

Eleven of ESA’s 17 member states are participating in the project.

Source: BNS (Paris)

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