AmericaSpace Launch Countdown

Next Launch CRS-3 on a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral AFB, FL scheduled for 18 Apr 14 19:25:00 GMT

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Cassini Image May Reveal Historic Birth of Icy Saturn Moon

From NASA/JPL: "The disturbance visible at the outer edge of Saturn's A ring in this image from NASA's Cassini spacecraft could be caused by an object replaying the birth process of icy moons." Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

From NASA/JPL: “The disturbance visible at the outer edge of Saturn’s A ring in this image from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft could be caused by an object replaying the birth process of icy moons.” Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

The Cassini spacecraft, a flagship-class mission that is a cooperative project between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Italian Space Agency (ASI), may have uncovered the birth of an icy moon from within Saturn’s rings. This object was shown in an image Cassini took from its narrow angle camera (part of its Imaging Science Subsystem) of the gas giant’s “A” ring on April 15, 2013. The possible moon is described by NASA as being “20 percent brighter than its surroundings, 750 miles [1,200 kilometers] long and 6 miles [10 kilometers] wide.”

Continue reading Cassini Image May Reveal Historic Birth of Icy Saturn Moon

SpaceX Secures 20-Year Lease Agreement With NASA for Use of Historic Launch Complex 39A

SpaceX has finalized a lease agreement with NASA for use of launch pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the launch site for many historic missions such as the Apollo Saturn-V moon missions and over 80 space shuttle launches. The company's first launch off 39A will be atop their Falcon-Heavy rocket as soon as 2015. Image Credits: NASA / SpaceX / AmericaSpace

SpaceX has finalized a lease agreement with NASA for use of launch pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the launch site for many historic missions such as the Apollo Saturn-V Moon missions and over 80 space shuttle launches. The company’s first launch off 39A will be atop their Falcon-Heavy rocket as soon as 2015. Image Credits: NASA / SpaceX / AmericaSpace

There’s only one place on Earth where humans left to touch the face of another world, and this week Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) finalized an agreement with NASA to put that place (launch pad 39A) to use again for at least the next couple decades.

Continue reading SpaceX Secures 20-Year Lease Agreement With NASA for Use of Historic Launch Complex 39A

Soyuz-U Successfully Launches Egypt's Second Earth-Watching Satellite

The four tapering strap-on boosters and central core of the Soyuz-U booster pierce the darkness in today's rousing EgyptSat-2 launch. Photo Credit: TsENKI, with thanks to Mike Barrett

The four tapering strap-on boosters and central core of the Soyuz-U booster pierce the darkness in today’s rousing EgyptSat-2 launch. Photo Credit: TsENKI, with thanks to Mike Barrett

A Russian Soyuz-U booster has staged what is expected to be its final non-Progress mission, with a rousing liftoff from Site 31/6 at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The vehicle—a direct descendent of Chief Designer Sergei Korolev’s R-7 “Semyorka” (“Little Seven”) intercontinental ballistic missile, developed in the 1950s—roared into the night sky at 10:20 p.m. local time (12:20 p.m. EDT) Wednesday. Within nine minutes, it had successfully inserted Egypt’s second remote-sensing satellite, known as “EgyptSat-2,” into a circular orbit of 435 x 435 miles (700 x 700 km), inclined 51.6 degrees to the equator. EgyptSat-2 should remain in service for up to 11 years, providing unprecedented visible and multispectral imagery of the territory of Egypt and its environs.

Continue reading Soyuz-U Successfully Launches Egypt’s Second Earth-Watching Satellite

Commentary: A Path to Nowhere and the Absence of Leadership (Part 2)

The long-term goal in NASA's human spaceflight program, are human trips to Mars during the mid-2030's. Will the 2021 manned Mars-Venus flyby mission proposal discussed at a recent Congressional hearing, help to accelerate the agency's plans by gaining the political support of Congress? Image Credit: NASA

Despite a plethora of deep-space mission concepts currently envisioned by NASA, there’s little consensus between Congress and the White House on where the space agency should go next in space, in the lack of a coherent vision and direction. Image Credit: NASA

Last week’s article focused on examining some of the events and political decisions that have resulted in the U.S.’s reliance on Russia for gaining access to the International Space Station—a topic that came into the spotlight in the aftermath of the recent geopolitical crisis between Russia and Ukraine. Today’s article focuses on some of the decisions that affected the course of the U.S. human spaceflight program for charting a course for deep-space destinations.

Continue reading Commentary: A Path to Nowhere and the Absence of Leadership (Part 2)

EgyptSat-2 Ready to Launch Wednesday Atop Soyuz-U Booster

 

Atop its Soyuz-U booster, EgyptSat-2 is transferred to Site 31/6 at Baikonur on Monday, 14 April. Photo Credit: Roscosmos

Atop its Soyuz-U booster, EgyptSat-2 is transferred to Site 31/6 at Baikonur on Monday, 14 April. Photo Credit: Roscosmos

Egypt will launch its second remote-sensing satellite into orbit tomorrow (Wednesday, 16 April) atop Russia’s Soyuz-U booster from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The EgyptSat-2 mission is currently scheduled to get underway from Site 31/6 at 10:20 p.m. local time (12:20 p.m. EDT) and, following , a nine-minute ascent, will be delivered into an operational orbit of 435 x 435 miles (700 x 700 km), inclined 51.6 degrees to the equator. Configured with a similar payload shroud to that used by Progress cargo missions to the International Space Station (ISS), this is expected to be the last flight of a non-Progress Soyuz-U, before the vehicle is retired in 2015 and replaced by the new Soyuz 2-1A.

Continue reading EgyptSat-2 Ready to Launch Wednesday Atop Soyuz-U Booster

Falcon-9 Helium Leak Scrubs SpaceX Dragon ISS Resupply Mission to NET April 18

SpaceX has called off today's planned Dragon CRS3 launch to the ISS—next launch attempt no earlier than Friday, April 18. Photo Credit: AmericaSpace / John Studwell

SpaceX has called off today’s planned Dragon CRS3 launch to the ISS—next launch attempt no earlier than Friday, April 18. Photo Credit: AmericaSpace / John Studwell

The third dedicated SpaceX Dragon mission to deliver 4,000+ pounds of cargo and supplies to the International Space Station under a $1.6 billion Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA has been pushed back again, this time due to a helium leak discovered on the Falcon-9 rocket first stage earlier today.

Continue reading Falcon-9 Helium Leak Scrubs SpaceX Dragon ISS Resupply Mission to NET April 18

SpaceX Dragon 'Go' for Monday Launch; Contingency EVA Scheduled for 22 April

SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft will fly for the first time atop the upgraded Falcon 9 v1.1 on Monday, 14 April. Photo Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft will fly for the first time atop the upgraded Falcon 9 v1.1 on Monday, 14 April. Photo Credit: SpaceX

A second launch in just four days is scheduled to take place from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., when SpaceX launches its third dedicated Dragon cargo delivery mission to the International Space Station (ISS). Liftoff of the two-stage Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket—on its first mission with a Dragon and only its fourth flight in total—is scheduled to occur at 4:58:44 p.m. EDT Monday, 14 April. As with previous SpaceX flights, the launch will occur “instantaneously,” hence the specific timing. SpaceX mission managers officially declared that they were “Go for Launch” at the conclusion of the Launch Readiness Review on Friday afternoon. The failure of a backup Multiplexer-Demultiplexer (MDM) on the space station’s Mobile Base System (MBS), also on Friday, has led to a decision to stage a contingency EVA (designated “U.S. EVA-26″) as early as Tuesday, 22 April. However, the MDM failure and EVA-26 planning is not expected to interfere with tomorrow’s planned CRS-3 launch. 

Continue reading SpaceX Dragon ‘Go’ for Monday Launch; Contingency EVA Scheduled for 22 April

'Poyekhali!' Remembering Our First Space Voyager (Part 2)

Yuri Gagarin (left) was proudly displayed to the world by a joyful Nikita Khrushchev (right), who recognized the political and ideological advantage which his flight had acquired over the United States. Photo Credit: Roscosmos/The Telegraph

Yuri Gagarin (left) was proudly displayed to the world by a joyful Nikita Khrushchev (right), who recognized the political and ideological advantage which his flight had acquired over the United States. Photo Credit: Roscosmos/The Telegraph

The location at which the feet of Yuri Alexeyevich Gagarin—the first human ever to break the bonds of Earth and enter space—made contact again with terra firma took place in a field some 15 miles southwest of the town of Engels, in the Saratov region, near Smelovka. Today, the site is marked by a 35-foot-tall (10-meter) obelisk and plaque, inscribed with the legend “Y.A. Gagarin Landed Here.” The formal marker was placed there on 14 April 1961, two days after Gagarin’s historic flight. However, the historic nature of the event had already led someone to erect a small commemorative signpost on the spot, instructing potential trespassers not to remove it and announcing the time of his landing as 10:55 a.m. Moscow Time. Less than two hours had elapsed since Gagarin’s launch … around the same time it would take you or me to watch an average-length Hollywood blockbuster.

Continue reading ‘Poyekhali!’ Remembering Our First Space Voyager (Part 2)

Commentary: A Path to Nowhere and the Absence of Leadership (Part 1)

In the aftermath of the recent geopolitical crisis in Crimea, a series of sanctions has been imposed on Russia by many countries, including the US. Many observers fear that Russia might answer back, by denying to transport US astronauts to the International Space Station. Image Credit: NASA

In the aftermath of the recent geopolitical crisis in Crimea, a series of sanctions has been imposed on Russia by many countries, including the United States. Many observers fear that Russia might answer back, by denying to transport U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station. Image Credit: NASA

The recent geopolitical tensions resulting from the ongoing crisis between Russia and Ukraine have indirectly helped to reveal in a sobering fashion one of the major problems that has been plaguing the U.S. public space program for many years: the overall lack of foresight and national leadership.

Continue reading Commentary: A Path to Nowhere and the Absence of Leadership (Part 1)

'Poyekhali!' Remembering Our First Space Voyager (Part 1)

Clad in his orange space suit, Yuri Gagain appears pensive in this image recorded during his journey to the launch pad on 12 April 1961. Photo Credit: Roscomos

Clad in his orange space suit, Yuri Gagain appears pensive in this image recorded during his journey to the launch pad on 12 April 1961. Photo Credit: Roscomos

In the early hours of 11 April 1961—more than five decades ago—an enormous booster trundled humanity’s first manned spacecraft to its launch site in a barren region of steppe in Soviet Central Asia. Within its bulbous nose shroud was a ship called Vostok, and it was planned that the following morning the R-7 rocket would blast it into low-Earth orbit, allowing its single cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, to complete one full circuit around the Home Planet. Within two hours of launch, shorter than one of today’s Hollywood blockbusters, it was hoped that Gagarin would be safely home, providing an enormous propaganda coup for the Soviet Union and a hard poke in the eye for the United States. Fifty-three years ago today (12 April 1961), a new era began.

Continue reading ‘Poyekhali!’ Remembering Our First Space Voyager (Part 1)