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Saturday, May 30, 2009

ORS Sat-1 Will Launch from Wallops in 2010

The next orbital launch from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops Island, VA will be the first Operationally Responsive Space satellite mission, called ORS Sat 1, in another Minotaur 1 in 2010. ORS Sat 1 will carry an optical sensor modified from a camera used by the U-2 spy plane. More from Defense News.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Mikulski to Keynote Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Launch Pad Groundbreaking

Groundbreaking for the construction of the new launch pad facilities at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport has been set for Monday, June 29,2009 on Wallops Island, Virginia. It was announced earlier today that United States Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland) will keynote the ceremony at a meeting of the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority. Contact Laurie Nasmith at the spaceport for details at 757.-440-4020.

The Taurus II booster will launch from the new pad on a demonstration flight in April 2011 - delayed from the initial plan of December 2010 - to re-supply the International Space Station.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

New Launch Pad Construction Set to Begin at Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in VA

The Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority is set to commence work on a new launch pad at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport this summer enabling up to four to six launches a year from Wallops Island, Va. in years to come beginning with the Orbital Science Corp.'s Taurus II rocket. An official groundbreaking is expected to draw several federal and state political leaders from Virginia and Maryland with the exact date to be announced soon.

The Taurus II rocket will weigh 640,000 pounds, stretch 133 feet long and have a 13-foot diameter. Other improvements, in addition to the launch pad, being made to the spaceport in preparation for the planned demonstration launch of Taurus II in December 2010 include building a horizontal integration facility where the rocket will be built and tested.

A dock facility is in-the-works to enable the first rocket stage to the spaceport by barge from Newport News after it arrives there from the Ukraine, where it is being built. Some testing and assembly of the rocket will be done by a team from the Ukraine meaning 30 to 50 Ukrainian workers at a time will be at Wallops during the lead-up to launches. MORE from Delmava Media.

The Taurus II rocket will have the capability of not only launching re-supply missions to the International Space Station in 2011 but also boosting robotic missions to the moon; and, perhaps gain astronaut-rating following evidence of high reliability. The Orbital Sciences Corporation booster will be in direct competition with the SpaceX Falcon 9 set to be launched from Cape Canaveral.

ISS Crew Size Expanding to Six

The International Space Station partners have embarked upon the mission to double the permanent crew size to six for the first time this morning with the launch of the Soyuz TMA-15 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, BBC launch video.

The Soyuz TMA-15 crew will dock with the space station on Friday. Expanding the space station crew to six will tax the space station systems along with challenging human endurance of living together for months in the cramped quarters. Ffor the first time, the five partners of the ISS –USA, Russia, Canada, Japan and ESA - are all represented in the crew of six. Having six people living together in space on the station will build much-needed human experience for long duration spaceflights to Mars in the decades to come.

The space shuttle Endeavour is set for launch Saturday, June 13 to resume construction of the orbiting lab and exchange one of the permanent space station crew members.

North Korea Lobbing Missiles; Re-Starts Nuke Bomb Plant Violating International Law

North Korea keeps-up a missile launch barrage following Monday's firing of three short-range ballistic missiles from its east coast following an underground nuclear test that has drawn international condemnation and continued with two more missile launches on Tuesday; and, today The Times of London reports that the rogue nation has re-started a plutonium reactor. The Associated Press provides a video report.

Meanwhile, the BBC reports that North Korea is saying it it is no longer bound by the armistice which ended the Korean War in 1953 suggesting that if South Korea joins an international anti-proliferation military exercise allowing South Korea to search the North's ships, war may ensue.

South Korea announced on Tuesday that it would not delay any longer in joining the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) - a US-led non-proliferation campaign involving searching ships carrying suspicious cargos and aimed at stopping the trafficking of weapons of mass destruction.

The BBC suggests there may be a "Game Plan" that started in April with the launch of a rocket capable of harboring a nuclear warehead masked by a suggested space launch.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Centenial Paris Air Show Opens in June

The Centenial edition of the 48th Paris Air Show at Le Bourget (Salon International de l'AĆ©ronautique et de l'Espace, Paris-Le Bourget) is set to open June 15-21, 2009 near Paris, France where it is held every two years.

It is one of the most prestigious trade air shows in the world; traditionally, some major sales contracts are announced during the show as part of the corporate communication of the manufacturers. All major international manufacturers, as well as the military forces of several countries, attend the Paris Air Show.

The first Paris Air Show has held in 1909. In 2009, the Show will mark a hundred years of technological innovation in aeronautics and space conquest with an event that continues to look to the future of the industry.

The 2009 international event will feature flights by the F18 Super Hornet and F22 Raptor from the United States. Hopefully, the Russians will bring the Mig-29 to fly as they did in 2007. Spacecraft and satellite technology will also be on display from around the world.

Soyuz Readied for 6:34 AM EDT Wednesday

The Soyuz TMA-15 spaceship and its carrier rocket have been installed on the launch pad at Baikonur Cosmodrome to be launched Wednesday at 6:34 a.m. EDT despite a delay due to strong winds. NASA-TV will provide coverage.

Already called historic, the Soyuz will take three astronauts from Russia, Belgium and Canada to the International Space Station. That will bring the number of crew there to a record six, which makes presence of space tourists at the station unlikely. Russia Today provides this video report.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Endeavour Go for 13 June 7:17 AM Launch

The Endeavour space shuttle was readied and on standby at the Kennedy Space Center for launch the past two weeks in the event that the Atlantis crew needed in-flight rescue but with the Atlantis mission finsihed as a roaring success with the refurbished Hubble Space Telescope on-orbit, the next spaceflight - STS-127- is set for a Saturday, June 13th 7:17 AM EDT launch. The Endeavour crew will recommence space station construction with five spacewalks over 16-days. The spacecraft must now be moved from Launch Pad 39B to Launch Pad 39A amid repair to the Solid Rocket Booster flame deflector but hopefully no deplays will result.

Gubernatorial Candidate Moran Supports Launch of Astronauts from Virginia

Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Brian J. Moran recently told The Washington Post that he would support space launches from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport that would ferry astronauts to space.

Question: "The Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on the Eastern Shore of Virginia will soon be launching re-supply to the orbiting space station as the space shuttle is retired. The Virginia-owned Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport is an important state asset. Will you support its expansion to launch astonauts from there in the next decade in competition with Florida?"

Brian Moran: "Absolutely. This is a great example of an innovative approach that can create jobs, put people back to work, and help families on the Eastern Shore. The Spaceport has tremendous potential and I carried legislation to help move their work forward. The work of the spaceport is yet another reason why I am opposed to offshore drilling. We can't realize the potential of this innovative approach if we build oil rigs off the Eastern Shore."

June 9 Democratic primary voters have previously heard support for the spaceport from Creigh Deeds and Terry McAuliffe.

Virginia Spaceport Ready for Next Step!

The successful launch of the Minotaur I from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at the NASA Wallops Flight Facility last Tuesday evening at 7:55 PM marked the next step for the spaceport that says, "YES I CAN!" [Video 1, Video 2 and Video 3] More from the Virginian-Pilot. The next step comes in 2010 when the spaceport launches a demonstration flight to the International Space Station.

Space Frontier Foundation Co-Founder Rick Tumlinson recently advanced the idea of Virginia as a Space State in a Richmond Times Dispatch piece.

Monday, May 18, 2009

RED ALERT: Wallops Range Readies for Flight

RED ALERT: "Fire in the sky" from America's most rapidly growing commercial spaceport along the Virginia Accomack County eastern shore is imminent. A weather-favored launch campaign with a high-horsepowered Orbital Sciences Corporation Minotaur 1 rocket is underway between the hours of 7:35 pm EST and 11:30 pm EST. Tuesday, May 19, 2009 [Launch Webcast] Back-up same time Wednesday, May 20.

Hundreds plan to gather around the NASA Wallops Flight Facility to see the US Air Force TacSat-3 military intelligence satellite streak red across a fading blue-to-black evening sky along the Atlantic Ocean from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport two hours from the nation's capitol. For launch hotline dial 1-757-824-2050 or Twitter and/or watch the Webcast.

Repeatedly scrubbed by twice persistent rain-drinched weather and an electrical glitch between the rocket and ground controllers in the last attempt, the rocketeers stood-down to support the launch of space shuttle Atlantis to repair the Hubble Space Telescope.

NOW, with weather clearing and range facilities open, the Orbital Sciences launch crew is ready to clear the pad and, in the famous words of the late Alan B. Shepard: "light this candle!" This is the fourth launch attempt this month.

Spaceport advocates say: "it is time to get this bird off the pad, work to get the Taurus-2 in a state of readiness to re-supply the space station, send missions to the moon, and put the first human in space from Virginia!"

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Black Hole Hunter on HST Repaired Today

The Hubble Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph [STIS] instrument is the astonomer-scientist's tool to hunt for major black holes throughout the universe enabling the seperation of light from space into is component colors, like a prism. The spectrograph is designed to pick up the light and color signature of black holes. It also helps astronomers map the motion of gas affected by a black hole's gravitational pull while providing data offer clues to an object's temperature, chemical composition and motion.

The spectrograph, which was installed on Hubble Space Telescope during a 1997 shuttle service mission, suffered a power supply failure in 2004 and has since been in safe mode for five years, NASA said. But the work of astronauts Mike Massimino and Mike Good today is enabling the instrument to resume the hunt for the most interesting and terrifying objects known to be in the universe: black holes from which the gravitation strength is so insentse that light waves do not escape. Nothing is known as to the center of a black hole today. The fix today will enable humanity to learn more.

NASA has a very high confidence that the STIS will go operational after complete functional tests are conducted tonight (Sunday). Overall, mission planners are thus far giving the mission a high 'A' or over 97% for task completion and success. Astronomers are quite pleased with what essentially will be a new telescope with capability far exceeding those in the space telescope's past. Humanity will see better and further than ever before with the unique and publicly cherished orbiting observatory. MORE from NASA-TV.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Cosmic Origins Spectrograph Installed on HST

The $88-million Cosmic Origins Spectrograph [video] — designed to detect faint light from faraway quasars — was installed on the Hubble Space Telescope earlier today in spacewalk three by Atlantis astronauts. [NASA-TV].

In unexpected ahead of schedule time, astronauts John Grunsfeld and Andrew Feustel removed the corrective lenses that restored Hubble's vision in 1993 [vid]. Hubble was launched in 1990 [vid] with a flawed mirror that left it nearsighted. But the newer COS science instruments have corrective lenses built in, making the 1993 contacts unnecessary.

The 7-year old Advanced Camera for Surveys [video] suffered an electrical short and stopped working two years ago after providing the science community with the deepest image view of the universe [vid] in visible light, going back in time 13 billion years [5-StarVid]. Today the ACS proved to be somewhat more challenging to fix by the astronauts.

The fifth and final spacewalk is set for Monday [NASA-TV] and the telescope will be released from the Atlantis payload bay on Tuesday marking the beginning of what may be the most historic and amazing period of time in astronomy with the Hubble Space Telescope [vid]. More from National Public Radio's Science Out-of-the-Box.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Hubble Gyros and Batteries Changed

Atlantis astronauts Mike Good and Mike Massimino conducted a second two-man spacewalk Friday to continue the repairs of the Hubble Space Telescope by changing the failed gyroscopes as the highest technical priority to ensure opeartional success of the observatory in years to come. The gyroscopes which, like a compass, always point in the same direction enabling the telescope stable operations and images [NASA-TV].

In the second of five planned spacewalks to make the telescope fixes, changing the gyroscopes that keep the telescope fixed on deep space targets for images, astronauts worked an additional hour getting all six replaced. While new gyroscopes were a little pesky in fitting into the spots delaying the spacewalk, the astronauts changed one of two of the telescopes battery packs used to store solar-electric power generated while the telescope is in sunlight. In all, the spacewalk lasted some 8-hours, about 1.5 hours longer than planned.

On Saturday, spacewalkers John Grunsfeld and Drew Feustel will attempt two tasks vital to astronomers. They will remove the old COSTAR apparatus installed in 1993 to correct for flaws in Hubble's main mirror. (All new instruments have the correction built into their optics.) COSTAR will be replaced by the new Cosmic Origins Spectrograph during a Sunday spacewalk. Function testing following repair of the telescope's Advanced Camera for Surveys, parts of which broke down in 2007, are now underway as of Saturday evening. A more complete SATURDAY UPDATE HERE.

Wide Field Camera-3 Installed on HST

The Wide Field Camera-3 was installed on the Hubble Space Telescope Thursday completing the highest science priority for the Atlantis STS-125 mission to the highly acclaimed space observatory. To better understand the WFC-3 watch videos 1, 2 and 3. In today's spacewalk (Friday), astronauts Mike Massimino and Michael Good will replace batteries and gyroscopes, according to The Washington Post. The image above was taken by WFC-2 and with WFC-3 soon to have ten times or more the capability as the replaced model [video]. The Hubble Space Telescope has taught humanity much more about time and space [video]. Stay current with the additional spacewalks on NASA-TV.

Bolden Set to be Named NASA Administrator

As the Spaceports Blog suggested in early January, former NASA astronaut and retired Marine Major General Charles F. Bolden is to expected to meet with President Obama Monday and appears set to become NASA's Next administrator - an anticipated move that has kept the space community on the edge of its seat for nearly four months.

Bolden joined NASA in 1981 and flew four missions, STS-61C in 1986, STS-31 in 1990 which launched the Hubble Space Telescope, STS-45 in 1992, and STS-60 which was the first American space shuttle mission to the Russian Mir Space Station in 1994. He left NASA in 1994 where he became Deputy Commandant of Midshipmen at the US Naval Academy. Bolden's nomination by the President would be subject to confirmation by the United States Senate lead by his advocate - Florida Senator Bill Nelson.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Soyuz Flight for NASA Astronaut: $51 Million

The Russian space agency Roscosmos has increased the price for each American astronaut flying to the International Space Station via a Soyuz spacecraft to $51-million each beginning in 2012. The move comes in response to currency exchange rates between the American dollar and the Russian ruble, reports MosNews, Russia Today and Reuters.

Tourist flight tickets, brokered by Virginia-based Space Adventures, is also expected to rise significantly to about the same price the story notes. Charles Simonyi paid $35-million to travel to the orbital outpost last spring 2009. The next space tourist is be revealed after May 25. At the moment, people from four countries have applied for the flight. The lucky spaceflight participant-tourist will not be the last - more flights are expected to generate cash for the Russian space effort.

NASA astronauts will be without a human-rated spacecraft to achieve low erath orbit beginning in the fall of 2010 or early 2011 as the space shuttle fleet is forced to retirement after three decades of service leaving only the Russian Soyuz to exchange the crews of the orbiting space station at that time. There remain eight space shuttle flights to the ISS as the Constellation Ares-1 program is in a 90-day review with the first human flight not expected until 2015.

Herschel and Planck LAUNCHED by ESA!

Video1 and Video 2 of Herschel-Planck launch on Thursday 14 May; details here. See BBC or ESA.

Hawaii Puts-Up $250,000 for New Spaceport

Hawaii's state legislature has passed a measure appropriating $250,000 funding to secure a license for a spaceport from the Federal Aviation Administration to build a commercial spaceport for rocket-powered vehicles that could take passengers in record speed to faraway locations, but that could also take passengers straight up for a better look of the islands in the Pacific Ocean and boost tourism, according to Honolulu Weekly.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Close Call with Chinese Space Debris; Spacewalks Begin Thursday to Repair HST

A 4-inch fragment of space debris from the Chinese F1-1C weather satellite blown-up in January 2007 by a Chinese anti-satellite missile has come within less than 2-miles of the Atlantis space shuttle now in an approximate 350-mile orbit repairing the Hubble Space Telescope. No evasive maneuver became necessary as the object was tracked by ground teams. Space shuttle commander Scott Altman was put on notice of the incoming debris had an orbital change become necessary early Thursday morning, no course change was required according to NASA reports. The debris flyby is but one more challenge faced by the courageous Atlantis space shuttle astronauts.

NASA-TV will provide coverage Thursday of the first of five spacewalks [EVAs] by astronauts to commence the difficult repairs of the Hubble Space Telescope. The first spacewalk begins about 7:00 AM and will go most of the day. Watch NASA Webcast here.

Minotaur 1 Launch Set Tuesday May 19 from the Virginia Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport

The Virginia Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) will endeavor to launch the Minotaur 1 booster rocket with the TacSat-3 payload with a primary date of Tuesday, May 19 making the fourth launch attempt. Wednesday, May 20 as the back-up. The new launch window is between 7:35 PM and 11:30 PM with the NASA Wallops Flight Facility providing data services. For launch status dial 1-757-824-2050. The launch will be both on Twitter and Webcast.

The Minotaur 1 launch was scrubbed twice last week because of weather, and once due to technical problems. The TacSat-3 satellite is designed to detect enemy weapons and deliver their locations to United States combat troops. [See video of last night launch from Wallops Island.] More from SatNews Daily.

Work Underway on Hubble Space Telescope

The 12.5-ton, school bus-sized Hubble Space Telescope was captured and locked into the space shuttle Atlantis payload bay Wednesday by astronaut Megan McArthur who grabbed it with a robotic arm 350-miles above the Earth. In the days ahead astronauts will conduct five days of back-to-back spacewalks by four of the seven crew using over a hundred specially designed tools to repair and upgrade the 19-year-old observatory. Some of the fixes have never been attempted before on orbit and NASA scientists are unsure whether they will work.

Before the first spacewalk begins of STS-125 on Thursday, the astronauts will make a detailed photo survey of Hubble's exterior and its aging insulation. Engineers are anxious to get a good look at Hubble's insulation to find out how it may have degraded over the seven years since the last shuttle servicing visit in 2002. More by William Harwood at CBS.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

ISS to Go to Six-Member Crew May 29

Expedition 20/Soyuz TMA-15 crew Bob Thirsk, Romanenko, and De Winne.
The International Space Station will expand to a six-member crew on May 29 following the launch of the Soyuz TMA-15 following a NASA televised May 27 launch from the from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 6:34 a.m. EDT, May 27, 2009.

Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko, European Space Agency astronaut Frank De Winne (Belgium), and Canadian Space Agency astronaut Bob Thirsk will join Russian Commander Gennady Padalka, NASA astronaut Mike Barratt and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency to form the first six-person space station crew with five of them from different space station partner nations.

Ariane 5 Begins Countdown for Thursday

Between 9:12 a.m.and 10:07 a.m. on May 14, 2009 at the Ariane launch complex ELA3 in Kourou, French Guiana, the count-down operations for the HERSCHEL & PLANCK launch are now underway.

Arianespace will orbit two scientific satellites for the European Space Agency: the Herschel space telescope and the Planck scientific observatory towards the Lagrange Point (L2) aboard an Ariane 5. The launch webcast will begin Thursday at about 8:45 AM for United States east coast viewers.

Endeavour is on Standby in Hubble Mission

The pesky foam that covers the exteral tank of each space shuttle flight appears to have been damaged again new optical analysis reveals as Atlantis apparently sometime 103-seconds into the liftoff from pad 39-A at the time near MaxQ (maximum dynamic pressure) leaving the NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida. The damage is in a "sensitive location" in the area where the right wing joins the fuselage, NASA announced today [video].

While initial analysis indicates that the approxiamely 21-inches of trail of dings "on an initial look, it looks like nothing," the space shuttle Endeavor [STS-400] remains on standby alert at the Kennedy Space Center launch pad 39-B ready to assist the Atlantis now on orbit. Damage in the wing area is worrisome to engineers at the NASA Langley Research Center in Virginia charged with the proper review and safety analysis, especially since the shuttle Columbia was destroyed in 2003 while returning to Earth with a damaged left wing reports The Los Anglees Times.

The shuttle is expected to reach Hubble by Wednesday, while NASA Johnson Spaceflight Center in Houston, Texas keep a close eye on orbiting debris in the area near the telescope. Small orbiting pieces of material from satellite collisions and rocket launches are making it more difficult to operate in high orbit.

The Voice of America (VOA) reports that the main concern is debris between the size of one centimeter in diameter and 10 centimeters in diameter because pieces of debris that size could cause significant damage and are hard to detect and track from earth. Larger objects can be tracked by the US Strategic Command, which assists NASA in warning the shuttle to maneuver away from the area, if necessary. The chance of debris impact with the shuttle or a spacewalking astronaut are said to be 1 in 227.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Atlantis "'Throttle-Up!" Gone to Hubble

NASA astronaut K. Megan McArthur suits-up for launch.
The Space Shuttle Atlantis ROARED-LOUD in the Florida sunshine this afternoon to "LIFTOFF!" on the way to what may prove to be the most dangerous and ingenious mission in the 28-year program. STS-125 is destined to repair the aging and in-need Hubble Space Telescope. Success will be measured by five successful spacewalks and the ability to re-start the space telescope to see further and better than ever before! Go Atlantis and her galant crew. God Speed! More spectator launch video ... 1, 2, and 3.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Shuttles Poised for Risky Hubble Mission

The Space Shuttle Atlantis is set to depart the Floirda launch pad Monday to repair the Hubble Space Telescope while Endeavour stands-by for rescue if necessary. This will be one of the most risky shuttle missions in the history of the nearly three decade program. Watch it begin on NASA-TV Monday. Weather forecasters gave good odds for launching Atlantis: 80 percent. What's more, things were looking more encouraging at the emergency landing site in Spain, where only a slight chance of rain is expected Monday. Liftoff time is just after 2 p.m. Follow the mission on Twitter.

Star Trek Gives Depth to 1960's TV Series

The cult Trekker set - like me - have been waiting for decades for this unique Star Trek movie. The story of how the original Star Trek crew characters came together and inspired a generation (along with the Apollo manned lunar program) does enhance the pop culture for space. The characters of the new movie do the the original TV series characters more than adquate justice. The movie stands on its own (without being a Trekker per se). It gives depth to the newly re-released BlueRay original TV series. It is the best of the ten of the Star Trek movies because of the introduction of the characters. Other reviews in video1 and video2. Your comments?

On a personal note, I like the sequence that introduces the NewSpace notion of SpaceDiving!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Wallops Scrubbs Friday Night Launch at 2 Minutes, 13 Seconds into Final Countdown

LAUNCH WEBCAST -- The 69-foot Minotaur I rocket has been delayed for the third time due to an electrical voltage anomaly 2 minutes, 13 seconds prior to the launch command . The soonest launch date is now Tuesday, May 19th. Twitter the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport launch pad for details.

The Air Force Research Laboratory's $60 million satellite, TacSat-3, which includes ARTEMIS, a hyperspectral imager built by Raytheon Co. and designed to provide real-time images to military commanders on the battlefield should be launched at the soonest May 19th.

The NASA Wallops Flight Facility will now yield on-site launch opeartions to support the STS-125 Atlantis space shuttle launch from the Kennedy Space Center set for Monday, May 11th.

Will Obama leave an imprint on the Moon?

The Obama Administration has ordered a review of the Constellation lunar program in what could be a major and sweeping shift in American space policy and/or hardware to be lead by Norman Augustine, chair of the appointed review team over the next ninty (90) days.

In a letter to NASA Acting Administrator Christopher Scolese, the president's science adviser, John Holdren, wrote that "it would be only prudent" to review NASA's human space flight program given the magnitude of its ambitions and "the significant investment of both funds and scientific capital," reports The Washington Post today.

The reassessment potentially could lead the Obama administration to revise key decisions by the Bush administration about the architecture and aerospace contractors selected to build the hardware for an estimated $150 billion effort to return astronauts to the lunar surface. The moon program is seen as a way station to reaching Mars.

“The White House needs the review in order to put its own imprint on the road ahead,” said John Logsdon, a space historian. “The sooner that uncertainty is settled, the better,” according to a recent article in The Houston Chronicle.

The Blog Poll to the upper right of the page is now even more relevant to readers to provide YOUR INPUT.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Herschel Space Observatory set for Thursday May 14 Launch from the Kourou Spaceport

The European Herschel Space Observatory is set for launch Thursday, May 14, 2009 aboard an Ariane 5 from Europe's Kourou Spaceport in French Guiana, South America with an 3.5m diameter mirror covering the full far infrared and submillimetre waveband enabling space scientists to observe with unprecedented detail and accuracy the origins of the Universe and the birth of its stars and galaxies [video].

The Hubble Space Telescope’s mirror is 2.5m in diameter is set to be refurbished later this month with a Monday, May 11, 2009 launch from Florida's spaceport makring Herschel the largest space telescope. The James Webb Telescope will fly in 2013 will be even larger still with a 6.5m mirror [video].

Herschel is set to examine the dust ejected by dying stars that spreads the heavy elements necessary for life through the Universe and will analyse the composition of comets and planets in our solar system. It will orbit at the second Lagrange point of the Sun-Earth system (L2).

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Delta-II to be Launched Tuesday

A Delta II rocket is scheduled tolaunch from Space Launch Complex-2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California between 1:24 p.m. and 1:52p.m. May 5 carrying an experimental satellite into polar orbit to perform the Missile Defense Agency's Space Tracking and SurveillanceSystem Advanced Technology Risk Reduction mission. For countdown status see SpaceflightNow.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Texas State Legislature Advances Measures Limiting Liability for Space Flight Entities

The Texas State legislature is advancing a measure to limit space flight liability with seperate Senate and House bills advancing through the legislative process. The House bill is now expected to reach the floor while the Senate bill passed the chamber and has now been referred to the House. The measure may be a boost to flights aboard the spacecraft NewShepard owned by Blue Orgin.

Meanwhile, the New Mexico state legislature space flight liability measure died in committee without a vote of the full state legislature where Spaceport America is expected to launch the Virgin Galactic Enterprise in 2010.

Virginia was the first in the nation to adopt a similar measure in 2007 while Florida followed in 2008. In now appears that Texas may well be the third state in the nation to adopt favorable commercial space flight legislation.

Steve Eves into the Record Books with Model Saturn V Launch from Maryland

Steve Eves of Maryland went into the record books with the successful launch of his 1:10 scale Saturn V rocket and the *video* provides a piece of nostalgia for the days gone by of the Apollo moon program. Congratulations on such a successful model rocket demonstration Steve Eves! More Fotos! Now a blast into the past with the launch of the last Apollo.

Polls Suggests 2nd Human-rated Spaceport

The United States should have a second human-rated spaceport says nearly 8 in 10 of the 363 poll respondents to this Blog. The logical choice for the second human-rated spaceport is NASA's Wallops Flight Facility where the Virginia-owned Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport is located. It is the site of a FAA licesned commercial spaceport where now planned re-supply cargo missions to the International Space Station will be launched as the space shuttle is retired in 2010/2011 [6:48-minVIDEO].

WDBJ-TV (Roanoke) reporter Joe Dashiell recently visited the Wallops Island facilities and provided an indepth set of news-TV video interviews, slides, and written reports on the little-known Virginia space launch asset now in a final countdown period to an orbital launch [vid]. The launch will be *webcast* Tuesday night.