John Glenn, Last Surviving Member of Mercury Seven, Dies Aged 95

Blurred and somewhat lacking in detail, this image of John Glenn in orbit aboard Friendship 7 represents one of the United States' greatest advances in space technology in the 20th century: the effort to achieve piloted orbital flight. Photo Credit: NASA

Blurred and somewhat lacking in detail, this image of John Glenn in orbit aboard Friendship 7 represents one of the United States’ greatest advances in space technology in the 20th century: the effort to achieve piloted orbital flight. Photo Credit: NASA

John Glenn, the last surviving member of NASA’s “Original Seven” Mercury astronaut group and the first American to orbit the Earth, has died at the age of 95.

Having been hospitalized at The James Cancer Hospital at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, for more than a week, Glenn passed away earlier today (Thursday, 8 December) at the Wexler Medical Center, surrounded by his children, grandchildren and his wife of 73 years, Annie. His health had reportedly been in decline for some time and it was only yesterday (Wednesday) that a spokesman for Ohio State University announced the news of Glenn’s hospitalization, but refused to be drawn on questions of his condition or diagnosis. It is expected that the late astronaut—who also flew aboard Space Shuttle Discovery on STS-95 in late 1998 and retains the record for the oldest human ever to travel into space—will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va.

Continue reading John Glenn, Last Surviving Member of Mercury Seven, Dies Aged 95

Delta IV Propels WGS-8 Toward Secret GEO Location

Picture-perfect liftoff last night for United Launch Alliance & their Delta-IV rocket with the eighth U.S. Air Force / Boeing Wideband Global Satcom satellite (WGS-8), now en-route to a 22,300-mile geosynchronous orbit. Photo Credit: John Kraus / AmericaSpace

Picture-perfect liftoff last night for United Launch Alliance and their Delta-IV rocket with the eighth U.S. Air Force / Boeing Wideband Global Satcom satellite (WGS-8), now en-route to a 22,300-mile geosynchronous orbit. Photo Credit: John Kraus / AmericaSpace

The most powerful Boeing/Air Force military communications spacecraft ever launched—the WGS 8 Wideband Global Satcom—is climbing in its super synchronous transfer orbit following a successful launch last night (Dec. 7) on board a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Medium+ rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.

The spectacular night liftoff into mostly clear skies from Launch Complex 37 came at 6:53 p.m. EST, at the opening of a 49-minute launch window. The flight marks 10 years of ULA flight operations with the Delta IV, Delta II, Atlas V, and Russian Proton rockets.

Continue reading Delta IV Propels WGS-8 Toward Secret GEO Location

SpaceX Pushes Return to Flight to January with Iridium NEXT Satellites

File photo of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launching 11 satellites for ORBCOMM Dec. 21, 2015. Their next scheduled launch will be the first following the loss of AMOS-6 last Sep., flying 10 Iridium NEXT satellites from Vandenberg AFB, CA as soon as early Jan., 2017. Photo Credit: Mike Killian / AmericaSpace

File photo of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launching 11 satellites for ORBCOMM Dec. 21, 2015. Their next scheduled launch will be the first following the loss of AMOS-6 last September, flying 10 Iridium NEXT satellites from Vandenberg AFB, Calif., as soon as early January 2017. Photo Credit: Mike Killian / AmericaSpace

SpaceX is pushing back the return of their Falcon-9 rocket to flight (RTF) from Dec. 16 to early next month, aiming to deliver 10 Iridium NEXT satellites to orbit from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The launch is pending FAA approval following a Sept. 1 explosion at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., which took out their rocket, launch complex, and their customer’s AMOS-6 satellite.

Though the investigation remains ongoing, SpaceX is confident the accident was related to flight preparation, not the vehicle itself. That said, the Hawthorne, Calif.-based company released the following update this morning, Dec. 7:

Continue reading SpaceX Pushes Return to Flight to January with Iridium NEXT Satellites

Delta-IV WGS-8 Rocket Launch Tonight, WATCH LIVE Starting at 6:33pm EST

U.S. Air Force WGS-7 launch atop a ULA Delta-IV. Photo Credit: Alan Walters / AmericaSpace

U.S. Air Force WGS-7 launch atop a ULA Delta-IV. Photo Credit: Alan Walters / AmericaSpace

United Launch Alliance (ULA) is poised to fly the eighth U.S. Air Force / Boeing Wideband Global Satcom satellite (WGS-8) to a 22,300-mile geosynchronous orbit tonight atop a Delta-IV rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. Liftoff is scheduled for 6:53 p.m. EST from Space Launch Complex-37, at the opening of a 49-minute launch window that closes at 7:42 pm EST.

Follow our WGS-8 Launch Tracker for updates & WATCH LIVE tonight beginning at 6:33 p.m. EST.

As detailed in our in-depth WGS-8 pre-launch report, the 13,000-pound spacecraft is the eighth of 10 high-capacity military communications satellites advancing what is already the most powerful military satcom constellation in the world. Each WGS satellite provides high capacity service in both the X and Ka frequency bands, with the unprecedented ability to cross-band between the two frequencies onboard the satellite.

Official launch weather forecast from the USAF 45th Space Wing Weather Squadron for this evening’s attempt gives an 80 percent chance of favorable conditions expected for liftoff, with the primary concern being thick cloud layers.

.
Be sure to “LIKE” AmericaSpace on Facebook and follow us on Instagram & Twitter!

Most Powerful USAF Satcom Readied for Delta IV Launch Wednesday Night

File photo of a ULA Delta IV rocket standing by to deliver the sixth Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS-6) satellite to geosynchronous orbit for the U.S. Air Force. The WGS satellites are an important element of a new high-capacity satellite communications system providing enhanced communications capabilities to our troops in the field for the next decade and beyond. WGS-8 is scheduled to fly from Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla. as soon as this Wed., Dec 7. Photo Credit: Mike Killian / AmericaSpace

File photo of a ULA Delta IV rocket standing by to deliver the sixth Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS-6) satellite to geosynchronous orbit for the U.S. Air Force. The WGS satellites are an important element of a new high-capacity satellite communications system providing enhanced communications capabilities to our troops in the field for the next decade and beyond. WGS-8 is scheduled to fly from Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., as soon as Wednesday, Dec. 7. Photo Credit: Mike Killian / AmericaSpace

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Medium+ rocket with four strap-on solid rocket motors is poised for the scheduled Dec. 7 launch of the eighth U.S. Air Force/Boeing Wideband Global Satcom (WGS-8).

The night liftoff from Cape Canaveral’s Launch Complex 37 of the 217-foot-tall Delta IV, with a 47 x 17-foot payload faring, is scheduled for 6:53 pm EST, at the opening of a 49-minute launch window that closes at 7:42 pm EST. Follow our AmericaSpace WGS-8 Launch Tracker for regular updates & streaming live coverage of the launch.

The new spacecraft will provide the primary U.S., Canadian, and Australian WGS partners and other international military participants with a 45 percent increase in bandwidth in the WGS 8 coverage area, a major advance for what is already the most powerful military satcom constellation in the world.

Continue reading Most Powerful USAF Satcom Readied for Delta IV Launch Wednesday Night

Six Wheels on Martian Regolith: 20 Years Since NASA's Pathfinder Mission Launched to the Red Planet

With the deployed petals and airbags of the lander in the foreground, the Sojourner rover can be seen at work in the middle-distance. Photo Credit: NASA

With the deployed petals and airbags of the lander in the foreground, the Sojourner rover can be seen at work in the middle-distance. Photo Credit: NASA

Having alighted on the Red Planet in July 1997, and having been dug out of Martian regolith by Mark Watney as part of his efforts to achieve salvation, NASA’s Pathfinder mission—which rose from Earth 20 years ago, tonight—has experienced both an exciting past and an excitingly fictitious future. Launched into the night at 1:58 a.m. EST on 4 December 1996, aboard a Delta II booster, Pathfinder went on to become the United States’ first mission to Mars in almost two decades and the first wheeled vehicle to successfully traverse the planet’s ochre-hued surface. In so doing, its six-wheeled Sojourner rover laid the cornerstone for subsequent roving missions, from the Spirit and Opportunity twins to today’s Curiosity and, ahead, to NASA’s in-work Mars 2020.

Original plans saw Pathfinder as part of the expansive Mars Environmental Survey (MESUR) project, which sought to place a network of 16 seismometer-equipped landers in different locations on the surface between 1999 and 2003. Leading this assault on the Red Planet was MESUR-Pathfinder, which would drop a stationary lander and six-wheeled micro-rover onto the surface in July 1997. However, in the aftermath of the loss of NASA’s Mars Observer mission, much of the MESUR infrastructure was shelved, leaving Pathfinder as the only member of the project to bear fruit.

Continue reading Six Wheels on Martian Regolith: 20 Years Since NASA’s Pathfinder Mission Launched to the Red Planet

'Our Own Little Spaceship': 15 Years Since the Flag-Bearing Mission of STS-108 (Part 2)

On STS-108, Linda Godwin became the only woman to have spacewalked outside both Mir and the International Space Station (ISS). Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

On STS-108, Linda Godwin became the only woman to have spacewalked outside both Mir and the International Space Station (ISS). Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

At the cusp of nightfall on 5 December 2001, Space Shuttle Endeavour dispelled some of the darkness which had cloaked the world for several months. Less than 12 weeks since the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States—and characterized by a heightened sense of security at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida—STS-108 was the first U.S. piloted space mission since an event which cost almost 3,000 innocent lives. As detailed in yesterday’s AmericaSpace history article, Endeavour’s crew rocketed into orbit with a hefty payload of science and supplies for the International Space Station (ISS), together with a poignant cargo of New York City police patches and badges, a New York Fire Department flag, and almost 6,000 small U.S. flags in honor of the victims and their families.

Continue reading ‘Our Own Little Spaceship’: 15 Years Since the Flag-Bearing Mission of STS-108 (Part 2)

'Let Freedom Roar': 15 Years Since the Flag-Bearing Mission of STS-108 (Part 1)

As evidenced by these three hats on-console in the Mission Control Center (MCC) at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas, STS-108 truly let freedom roar on 5 December 2001. Photo Credit: NASA

As evidenced by these three hats on-console in the Mission Control Center (MCC) at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas, STS-108 truly let freedom roar on 5 December 2001. Photo Credit: NASA

Fifteen years ago, this week—as America and the world reeled from the 9/11 terrorist atrocities—Space Shuttle Endeavour launched on a poignant, 12-day mission to the International Space Station (ISS). For STS-108 was the first U.S. piloted spaceflight to occur after the tragedy which cost almost 3,000 human lives. In the words of STS-108 Commander Dom Gorie, speaking to Launch Director Mike Leinbach in the minutes before the shuttle’s 5 December 2001 liftoff, months of sorrow were replaced by a renewed sense of optimism and shared purpose. “From the entire crew, we’re well aware that for over 200 years and certainly over the last two months, freedom rings loud and clear across this country,” Gorie told Leinbach. “But right here and now, it’s time to let freedom roar!”

Continue reading ‘Let Freedom Roar’: 15 Years Since the Flag-Bearing Mission of STS-108 (Part 1)

SpaceX Targeting Dec. 16 Return to Flight from Vandenberg with First Iridium NEXT Satellites

File photo of a SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket in a processing hangar. The company is now targeting Dec. 16, 2016 for their "Return to Flight" to launch 10 Iridium NEXT satellites from Vandenberg AFB, Ca. The mission comes three months after a Falcon-9 rocket exploded while fueling during a launch wet dress rehearsal. Photo Credit: SpaceX

File photo of a SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket in a processing hangar. The company is now targeting Dec. 16, 2016, for their “Return to Flight” to launch 10 Iridium NEXT satellites from Vandenberg AFB, Calif. The mission comes three months after a Falcon-9 rocket exploded while fueling during a launch wet dress rehearsal. Photo Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX is aiming to return their Falcon-9 rocket to flight (RTF) later this month from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., pending FAA approval following a Sept. 1 explosion at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., which took out their rocket, launch complex, and their customer’s AMOS-6 satellite.

Although the investigation is still ongoing, SpaceX is confident that the accident was related to flight preparation, rather than a vehicle or engineering design issue. That said, the Hawthorne, Calif.-based company is now targeting Dec. 16 to return Falcon-9 to launch, aiming for a 12:36 p.m. PST liftoff from Space Launch Complex 4E to deliver 10 Iridium NEXT satellites to low-Earth orbit.

Continue reading SpaceX Targeting Dec. 16 Return to Flight from Vandenberg with First Iridium NEXT Satellites

Smallest ISS Crew of the Decade Discusses Upcoming Mission

"Like an old married couple" was Jack Fischer's description of the camaraderie between himself and Fyodor Yurchikhin. The pair will launch in March 2017 for a six-month expedition to the International Space Station (ISS). Photo Credit: Michael Galindo/AmericaSpace

“Like an old married couple” was Jack Fischer’s description of the camaraderie between himself and Fyodor Yurchikhin. The pair will launch in March 2017 for a six-month expedition to the International Space Station (ISS). Photo Credit: Michael Galindo/AmericaSpace

You might be forgiven for thinking that one chair was missing at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas, on the afternoon of Wednesday, 30 November, for only two seats are reserved for the next crew of the International Space Station (ISS). As reported previously by AmericaSpace, Russia recently decided to reduce the number of cosmonauts aboard the station in 2017 from three to two; in part due to ongoing problems getting its long-delayed Nauka (“Science”) laboratory module ready for flight. Scheduled to launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on 27 March aboard Soyuz MS-04, veteran Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin and “rookie” NASA flyer Jack Fischer will aim to perform the first “fast rendezvous” of a piloted vehicle in over a year and their six-month expedition will mark them out as the smallest ISS crew of the decade so far.

Continue reading Smallest ISS Crew of the Decade Discusses Upcoming Mission