AmericaSpace Launch Countdown

Next Launch ORB-3 on a Antares rocket from Wallops Island, VA
scheduled for:
21 Oct 14 2:29:00 GMT
20 Oct 14 22:29:00 EDT

Days
Hrs
Min
Sec
Click here for more details...

Enter your email address to subscribe to AmericaSpace and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Most Of The Water In The Solar System Is Older Than The Sun New Study Suggests

An artist's concept of the formation process of the Solar System out of an interstellar molecular cloud and its enrichment with water. A recent study has indicated that up to half of Earth's water is older than the Sun itself, likely originating in that cold molecular cloud that spawned our Solar System. Image credit: Bill Saxton, NSF/AUI/NRAO

An artist’s concept of the formation process of the Solar System out of an interstellar molecular cloud and its enrichment with water. A recent study has indicated that up to half of Earth’s water is older than the Sun itself, likely originating in that cold molecular cloud that spawned our Solar System. Image credit: Bill Saxton, NSF/AUI/NRAO

The next time you raise a glass of water, take a moment to look at its content. That water is probably older than the Sun itself, according to the results of a new study.

Continue reading Most Of The Water In The Solar System Is Older Than The Sun New Study Suggests

All Hail the (Deputy) Chief: Astronaut Eric Boe Turns 50 Today

Eric Boe, pictured in the pilot's seat of shuttle Discovery during the STS-133 mission in February-March 2011. Photo Credit: NASA

Eric Boe, pictured in the pilot’s seat of Shuttle Discovery during the STS-133 mission in February-March 2011. Photo Credit: NASA

“It’s great to have the opportunity to participate in the space program,” astronaut Eric Boe told an interviewer on the eve of STS-133, the final flight of Shuttle Discovery, in February 2011. “It hasn’t been that many years ago that we walked on the Moon and, here we are with a fully completed space station. There’s many exciting things happen in space and we’re looking forward to exploration that we know is going to happen in the future, going back to the Moon and on to Mars and on to a lot of other different bodies out in the galaxy and on into the Universe.” And for Boe, who turns 50 today (Wednesday, 1 October) and has been for the past two years Deputy Chief of the Astronaut Office, he has a front-row seat and a very personal involvement in the post-shuttle transition toward what might be labeled “The Exploration Era,” as NASA moves toward Commercial Crew and its first missions beyond low-Earth orbit in almost five decades.

Continue reading All Hail the (Deputy) Chief: Astronaut Eric Boe Turns 50 Today

ESA’s Rosetta to Deploy Philae Nov. 12 for Historic First Attempt at Comet Landing

The landing site in context with the rest of the comet. Image Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

The Philae primary landing site in context with the rest of comet 67P. Image Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

The team leading the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Rosetta mission has chosen Nov. 12 as the date to deploy the piggybacked Philae lander for mankind’s history-making first attempt to touchdown on the surface of a comet.

The “head” of the bizarre comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko had already been selected as the primary landing site for Philae, at a target known as “Site J,” which is located on the smaller of the two “lobes.” See location in image above.

Continue reading ESA’s Rosetta to Deploy Philae Nov. 12 for Historic First Attempt at Comet Landing

Dream Chaser Development Continues Despite No ‘Space Taxi’ Contract and Sierra Nevada Corp. Layoffs

SNC's Dream Chaser atop ULA Atlas V Rocket on Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.  Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC)

SNC’s Dream Chaser atop ULA Atlas V Rocket on Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER — Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) will “continue developing the Dream Chaser” space plane despite losing out on this month’s high-stakes contract award for NASA’s commercial “space taxi” program to carry astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) and the significant company workforce layoffs announced as an inevitable result of the contract loss, SNC representatives told AmericaSpace.

“SNC has made the decision to continue the development of the Dream Chaser to flight,” SNC spokesperson Krystal Scordo stated—but with a smaller program staff.

Continue reading Dream Chaser Development Continues Despite No ‘Space Taxi’ Contract and Sierra Nevada Corp. Layoffs

It's Back! 'Mystery Island' in Titan Sea Makes Unexpected Reappearance

Three radar images, taken from April 2007 to August 2014, showing how the "mystery island" in Ligeia Mare has changed in appearance over time. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASI/Cornell

Three radar images, taken from April 2007 to August 2014, showing how the “mystery island” in Ligeia Mare has changed in appearance over time. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASI/Cornell

The mystery of an unusual feature in one of Titan’s hydrocarbon seas, dubbed the “mystery island,” has taken an interesting turn. After apparently disappearing following its initial discovery in 2013, it has now reappeared and has changed in appearance and size, as well.

Continue reading It’s Back! ‘Mystery Island’ in Titan Sea Makes Unexpected Reappearance

The Man Who Delivered Columbus: Astronaut Steve Frick Turns 50 Today

Steve Frick, who commanded STS-122, the shuttle mission which installed Europe's Columbus laboratory module onto the International Space Station (ISS). Photo Credit: NASA

Steve Frick, who commanded STS-122, the shuttle mission which installed Europe’s Columbus laboratory module onto the International Space Station (ISS). Photo Credit: NASA

Five hundred years after the 1506 death of navigator and explorer Christopher Columbus, in the summer of 2006, a multi-national team of astronauts were appointed to shuttle mission STS-122, which would transport his spacefaring namesake—the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Columbus laboratory module—into low-Earth orbit and its permanent berth at the International Space Station (ISS). Named to command STS-122 was another navigator and explorer, Stephen Nathaniel Frick, a veteran shuttle pilot who today (Tuesday, 30 September) celebrates his 50th birthday and has helped to chart NASA’s next steps into deep space through his position as chief of the Astronaut Office Exploration Branch.

Continue reading The Man Who Delivered Columbus: Astronaut Steve Frick Turns 50 Today

'Drill, Baby, Drill' Replaces 'Drive, Drive, Drive' as Curiosity Gets First Taste of Mount Sharp Foothills

NASA’s Curiosity rover conducts 4th drill campaign at ‘Pahrump Hills’ rock outcrop on Sol 759, Sept. 24, 2014, at the foothills of Mount Sharp seen in the distance.   Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Ken Kremer-kenkremer.com/Marco Di Lorenzo

NASA’s Curiosity rover conducts 4th drill campaign at “Pahrump Hills” rock outcrop on Sol 759, Sept. 24, 2014, at the foothills of Mount Sharp seen in the distance in this composite photo mosaic. Navcam camera raw images stitched and colorized. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Ken Kremer-kenkremer.com/Marco Di Lorenzo

“Drill, Baby, Drill” has replaced “Drive, Drive, Drive” as the Curiosity Mars rover team’s new mantra, ever since the six-wheeled behemoth pulled up to the foothills of Mount Sharp to begin the systematic layer-by-layer investigation of the humongous mountain that was envisioned years ago when it was selected as the landing site on the Red Planet.

Continue reading ‘Drill, Baby, Drill’ Replaces ‘Drive, Drive, Drive’ as Curiosity Gets First Taste of Mount Sharp Foothills

Clear Skies Above: Astronomers Detect Water Vapor on Cloud-Free Atmosphere of a Hot-Neptune

An artist's concept of the cloud-free atmosphere of exoplanet HAT-P-11b, as revealed by the combined observations of NASA's Hubble, Spitzer and Kepler space telescopes. Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and R. Hurt (JPL-Caltech)

An artist’s concept of the cloud-free atmosphere of exoplanet HAT-P-11b, as revealed by the combined observations of NASA’s Hubble, Spitzer, and Kepler space telescopes. Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and R. Hurt (JPL-Caltech)

 

Sunny and hot all year-round, with no clouds on the horizon … That’s not a weather forecast only for the Maldive Islands here on Earth, but also for exoplanet HAT-P-11b, according to the latest findings by an international team of astronomers. But don’t start packing for that holiday package just yet, for HAT-P-11b is a steamy Neptune-sized world located so close to its host star that average temperatures there reach a scortching 1,120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Continue reading Clear Skies Above: Astronomers Detect Water Vapor on Cloud-Free Atmosphere of a Hot-Neptune

'Dramatic, Down-the-Throat View': 20 Years Since STS-68 (Part 2)

Photo Credit: NASA

The vast plume of Klyuchevskaya Sopka, in Kamchatka, which erupted shortly after STS-68 reached orbit. Photo Credit: NASA

Twenty years ago, on 30 September 1994, the crew of Shuttle Endeavour rocketed into orbit—six weeks later than originally planned—on an 11-day mission to support the second Space Radar Laboratory (SRL-2). As described in yesterday’s AmericaSpace history article, the mission, STS-68, featured the Shuttle Imaging Radar (SIR-C) and the X-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (X-SAR) and sought to perform radar imaging of most of Earth’s surface. Following on from SRL-1, which had flown earlier in the year, it was hoped that SRL-2 would allow surface changes to be monitored between the spring and the fall. However, STS-68 fell foul to the shuttle program’s last Redundant Set Launch Sequencer (RSLS) abort, a harrowing on-the-pad shutdown of Endeavour’s three main engines … just 1.9 seconds before the scheduled liftoff on 18 August.

Continue reading ‘Dramatic, Down-the-Throat View': 20 Years Since STS-68 (Part 2)

ATK Offers Solid Alternative to Replace ULA's Controversial Atlas-V Liquid RD-180 Engine

The Russian RD-180 engines which currently power the core stage of ULA's fleet of Atlas-V rockets. Photo Credit: NASA

The Russian RD-180 engines which currently power the core stage of ULA’s fleet of Atlas-V rockets. Photo Credit: NASA

Last August the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center issued a Booster Propulsion and Launch System Request for Information (or RFI) for development of a new engine to replace the controversial Russian-made RD-180 engines that currently power ULA’s workhorse Atlas-V rockets, and this week ATK announced their proposal of an American-made commercial solid rocket alternative to the liquid-fueled RD-180 for the Air Force’s consideration.

Continue reading ATK Offers Solid Alternative to Replace ULA’s Controversial Atlas-V Liquid RD-180 Engine