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Friday, July 27, 2007

Virginia Has a Very Good Chance with SpaceX Falcon 9 Launch

The Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport is "best site in the world for space station missions" Elon Musk told listeners on Dr. David Livingston's Space Show. "It is simply a great spaceport for going to mid-inclination orbit," Musk said. "There is a very good chance that it makes sense to do those [ISS] missions from Virginia." Listen to the full audio of The Space Show from Thursday. MORE->

Explosion at Mojave Spaceport

A significant explosion at the Mojave Spaceport in the California desert that houses civilian rocket programs has killed three people and injured three. Details are forthcoming in video from KNBC News. The Bakersfield Californian provides even more details and interview with Burt Rutan.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Japan's SELENE Probe Delayed

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency announced Friday a decision to postpone the launch of the Lunar Orbit Explorer "KAGUYA" (SELENE) by the H-IIA Launch Vehicle No. 13 (H-IIA F13.). The launch was originally scheduled for August 16, 2007. The new launch date will be announced as soon as it is determined.

Will the Mars Rovers Survive?

Conditions have become dreary in the Meridiani Planum region where Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity sits, perched on the edge of "Victoria Crater." With the dust storm blocking out 99 percent of the sunlight to Mars' surface, the solar-powered rovers are dangerously low on power and plans for Opportunity to enter the crater has been delayed. Conditions for both Opportunity and Spirit are so far withstanding conditions beyond their design specs. Keep your fingers crossed.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

European Jules Verne Spacecraft Being Readied for January 2008

The Jules Verne spacecraft is being readied for its maiden voyage to the International Space Station (ISS) from the European spaceport in French Guiana in January 2008.

The Jules Verne - or Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) will launch on an Ariane 5 rocket from the Kourou spaceport lifting 7.5 tons of supplies as one at least five ATVs that will fly to the ISS in the coming years.

The new spacecraft incorporates sophisticated automated rendezvous and docking systems. It will deliver air, water, fuel, scientific equipment, food, clothing and even personal items to the platform as well as boost the ISS to higher orbits. It will be a vehicle of growing importance as the Space Shuttle fleet is retired in 2010.

"We have developed a lot of new technologies for the ATV and these will allow us to do many other things in future in the field of space exploration," Daniel Sacotte, European Space Agency (ESA)'s director of Human Spaceflight, Microgravity and Exploration recently told the BBC audio.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Mars Phoenix Lander Preview

The Phoenix Mars Lander grows closer to its launch date with each passing day now planned for August 3rd [video]. The purpose of the Phoenix mission is to begin to again look for life in the water ice in the north polar regions where they expect to find 80% water in the soil [video]. In Search of the Water has been the primary theme for NASA Mars exploration the past few years [video]. Voice of America audio/video.

Kaine May Boost the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Budget

Virginia Governor Tim Kaine visited the NASA Wallops Flight Facility and the commercial Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport this week to be briefed on the work involving suborbital and orbital flight projects, Earth Science research and technology development.

Governor Kaine has already started writing the budget for the next two years (2008-2009). He says funding for and policy initiatives with the Wallops Island facility are real possibilities.

In the past session of the Virginia legislature, Kaine offered and signed the Virginia Spaceflight Liability and Immunity Act that became effective July 1st.

There is a Joint Commission on Technology and Science (JCOTS) legislative study now underway focused on additional legislation to boost the spaceport with some touting a state 'Zero Gravity, Zero Tax' Act to foster use of the launch facility to service the space station in 2008.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

In the Shadow of the Moon

On September 7, 2007 the theatrical documentary "In the Shadow of the Moon" will debut to tell the story of humans going to the Moon as told by the lunar astronauts.

Among those interviewed are Buzz Aldrin, discussing why he hesitated before becoming the second man on the moon; Dave Scott, who tested the Rover-1 "moon buggy"; and John W. Young, who describes looking back at a tiny blue ball in the sky and realizing the fragility of our home planet. In the Shadow of the Moon [trailer] opens in theaters Sept. 7.

NewSpace: Accelerating Change

The NewSpace 2007: Accelerating Change and Overview Conferences are slated to open in Crystal City, Virginia next week from Wednesday July 18 to Saturday, July 21st. Special guests include Apollo 11 and Apollo 14 lunar astronauts Dr. Buzz Aldrin and Dr. Edgar Mitchell and several noteworthy others of the NewSpace industry.

The Virginia Joint Commission on Science and Technology Aerospace panel will hold its summer meeting in conjunction with the NewSpace conference Thursday, July 19, beginning at 1 PM in the Lincoln Ballroom; Doubletree Crystal City 300 Army Navy Dr., Arlington, VA.

Energy Independence Delayed

A skeptical global audience awaited the Steorn energy revolution slated to be webcast from London's Kinetica Museum beginning the 5th of July and go through Friday, July 13th. But Steorn's Orbo was DELAYED due to "technical difficulty" yet some of the initial video was caputured. The provided an initial report.

In recent posts, the video lectures of Steorn CEO Sean McCarthy have been linked along with a previous post about July being their "Judgment Day."

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

STS-118 Rolls Out to Pad

NASA cams are providing video feed of the STS-118 Endeavour rollout to launch pad 39-A now underway. Video stills and a color Still of the roll underway.

Weather delayed the planned morning rollout by almost a day. Otherwise, the pre-launch preperation reports remain favorable for the planned August 7 launch.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Endeavour Set for Pad Rollout

The Space Shuttle Endeavour STS-118 is set to rollout to Kennedy Space Center Launch Pad 39A Tuesday as the final preperations appear to be proceeding well for an August 7th, 7:02 pm orbital launch to the International Space Station. Rollout coverage will be provided by NASA-TV.

One possible launch delay could be if the Mars Phoenix Polar Lander is delayed from its scheduled August 3rd, 5:35 am liftoff from Cape Canveral Air Force Station on the day before Endeavour's countdown is scheduled to begin.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Teacher Launch Planned for August 7 from Kennedy

The Space Shuttle Endeavor STS-118 is being planned for launch Tuesday, August 7th from the Kennedy Space Center. See the STS-118 Preview Video from NASA featuring Educator-astronaut Barbara R. Morgan.

A native of McCall, Idaho, Morgan was selected in 1985 as the backup candidate for the Teacher in Space program. Following the Challenger accident, the program was suspended and Morgan worked with NASA's Education Office, meeting with teachers and students across the country to share her space training experiences and their relevance to the classroom and America¹s future.

In the fall of 1986 Morgan, now 55, returned to teaching at McCall-Donnelly Elementary School in Idaho, but continued to travel the country in support of NASA's education efforts. In January 1998, she was selected by NASA to complete her astronaut training.

The mission will mark the second flight of NASA's Teacher in Space Project (the first being STS-51-L, which ended in tragedy when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after liftoff). National Public Radio [NPR] has a July 5, 2007 story about Barbara Morgan's STS-118 flight.

Mars Takes Center Stage as Dawn to Vesta and Ceres Delayed

A Delta II launch vehicle is set to roar on August 3rd, at 5:35 a.m. EDT from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station placing the Phoenix Mars Lander on a nine-month trajectory to the Red Planet Mars. The lander is planned to arrive May 25, 2008.

The Dawn spacecraft, which will penetrate deep into the asteroid belt that lies between Mars and Jupiter, was to be launched this weekend but NASA has delayed the Dawn launch until September or October to make way for the Phoenix at the same spaceport.

The Phoenix Mars Lander will be sent to the icy wastelands near the red planet’s north polar ice cap. The landing site has been chosen as the most likely point to find buried ice that once formed part of the planet’s oceans.

Many of the scientific instruments for Phoenix were built or designed for the 2001 Mars Surveyor Lander, which was mothballed, and the ill-fated Mars Polar Lander in 1999, which is though to have crashed on landing.

Meanwhile, the Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity keep on exploring the surface of Mars.

Moonwalkers: 9 of 12 Remain

Beginning on July 20, 1969, nearly 38 years ago, tweleve men periodicly walked upon the surface the moon ending the mere 3 1/2 year period of human exploration on December 17, 1972.

Of the tweleve hereoic men, nine remain alive in 2007: Neil Armstrong, 76, and Buzz Aldrin, 77, took the historic first steps on July 20, 1969. They were followed by Alan Bean, Edgar Mitchell, David Scott, Charles Duke, John Young, Harrison "Jack" Schmitt and Eugene Cernan who offered these final words from the Moon.

Charles "Pete" Conrad died in a motorcycle accident at age 69. Alan B. Shepard died of cancer at age 74. James Irwin died of a heart attack at age 61.

It is time humanity sends women and men back to the Moon of multiple nationalities prior to July 20, 2019 for the 50th anniversary of man's first tentative steps on the moon.

India Advancing AVATAR

The hypersonic plane, one of the most ambitious projects of the India Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO), is expected to be test flown by the end of 2008 powered by a supersonic combustion ramjet (Scramjet) engine that takes oxygen from the atmosphere and burns liquid hydrogen.

India's hypersonic plane will travel 6 to 14 times faster than the speed of sound and will revolutionize space travel. The planned space vehicle may take off from conventional airfields, inhale air from the atmosphere as it moves on, separate oxygen and store it on board for subsequent flight beyond the atmosphere.

Several countries including India, the United States, Israel, Russia, China, Japan and Australia are engaged in research in hypersonic technology.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Saturn Moon Hyperion Covered in Life-Like Hydrocarbons

Hyperion, one of Saturn's many moons, is covered in the raw material necessary for life to form, according to new data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft. The molecules of biological significance is further indication that the basic chemistry needed for life is widespread in the universe.

Hyperion, the eighth largest of Saturn's nearly 60 known moons, is covered in craters and landslides. Sprinkled over the icy surface is a thin layer of organic dust, which has somehow been concentrated in the bottoms of some of the craters, forming a reddish black deposit.

The new color map above shows the composition of a portion of Hyperion's surface determined with the Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer aboard the Cassini spacecraft. The new composition map is overlaid onto a previously released Cassini image of Hyperion, taken with the Imaging Science Subsystem (see PIA07761).

Blue shows the maximum exposure of frozen water, red denotes carbon dioxide ice ("dry ice"), magenta indicates regions of water plus carbon dioxide, yellow is a mix of carbon dioxide and an unidentified material.

Discovered in 1848, Hyperion held its secrets until the Cassini spacecraft flew close in September 2005, revealing its icy and organic composition. Hyperion is irregular in shape, tumbles chaotically, and takes 21 days to orbit Saturn. It is 300 kilometers (180 miles) in its longest dimension.