From the Project Apollo Image Archive: “Alfred Worden waves to ground personnel at Patrick Air Force Base prior to taking off on a training flight in a T-38 aircraft, July 24, 1971.” An Apollo veteran, Worden recently discussed Orion and the future of spaceflight with AmericaSpace. Photo Credit: The Project Apollo Archive/NASA
Imagine being an Air Force test pilot from rural Michigan, and being selected to take part in one of mankind’s greatest adventures. In his book Falling to Earth (co-written with Francis French, published by Smithsonian Books), “Original Nineteen” NASA astronaut and Apollo 15 command module pilot Al Worden wrote: “Only twenty-four humans have left Earth orbit and journeyed to the Moon. I’m one of them. It’s an exclusive club, so small that I am still surprised they let me in. After all, hundreds of people have traveled into space. Yet most people have never strayed beyond low Earth orbit. Our little group traveled a great deal farther – more than a thousand times farther … In short, we were lucky.”
Worden’s autobiography is filled with candid tales about his life’s adventures, particularly his time at NASA. It’s no surprise he is opinionated about the future of space, including the deep space-oriented Orion program, which will undergo an Exploration Flight Test (EFT-1) Thursday, Dec. 4. Next week’s flight, which has been likened most to November 1967’s Apollo 4 mission, will serve as a test of Orion’s systems and heat shield.
Continue reading An Apollo Veteran Talks Orion and the Future of Space: An Interview With Al Worden
The U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing’s 45th Ops Group, Detachment-3 Support and Operations Center (SOC) at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla. Detachment 3, also known as the Dept. of Defense Human Spaceflight Division, is responsible for providing whatever DoD support NASA needs for Orion Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1). 45th ops Group Det 3 is tasked with the same in support of returning Human Spaceflight, with both NASA and their Commercial Crew partners, to U.S. soil in the coming years. Photo Credit: AmericaSpace / Alan Walters
When NASA’s Orion crew capsule takes flight for the first time on Dec. 4, 2014, several agencies will be supporting what is, without a doubt, one of the most important missions of this decade for the next generation of America’s Human Spaceflight Program. The NAVY, Lockheed Martin, United Launch Alliance (ULA), Air Force Reserve 920th Rescue Wing, and others will be playing key roles in the overall success of the orbital flight test, and earlier this week the Air Force 45th Space Wing 45th Operations Group invited AmericaSpace to Patrick Air Force Base and Detachment 3, also knows as the Dept. of Defense (DoD) Human Spaceflight Division, for a tour and discussion about their role in supporting Orion’s first mission, as well as their plans for supporting human spaceflight launch and recovery ops from U.S. shores again in the coming years.
Continue reading 45th Space Wing Detachment 3 Outlines Orion EFT-1 Recovery Training and Preparations for Return of US Human Spaceflight
The recent arrival of Soyuz TMA-15M means that there will be two U.S. citizens in orbit for Thanksgiving today. Photo Credit: NASA
As millions of Americans tuck into their Thanksgiving meals today (Thursday, 27 November), spare a thought for Expedition 42 astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Terry Virts, the United States’ two current representatives aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Although primarily an American feast of thanks, it has become traditional for station crews of various nationalities to celebrate each other’s holiday periods and the entire Expedition 42 team—which also includes Russian cosmonauts Aleksandr Samokutyayev, Yelena Serova, and Anton Shkaplerov, together with Italy’s first woman in space, Samantha Cristoforetti—will undoubtedly participate in a joint orbital meal.
Continue reading Expedition 42 Crew to Celebrate Thanksgiving in Orbit
Curiosity rover panorama of Mount Sharp captured on June 6, 2014 (Sol 651), during traverse inside Gale Crater. Note rover wheel tracks at left. She will eventually ascend the mountain at the ‘Murray Buttes’ at right later this year. Assembled from Mastcam color camera raw images and stitched by Marco Di Lorenzo and Ken Kremer. Credit: NASA/JPL/MSSS/Marco Di Lorenzo/Ken Kremer-kenkremer.com
NASA’s Curiosity Mars Science Laboratory rover departed Earth three years ago today, blazing a spectacular path to the Red Planet atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket on Nov. 26, 2011, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
She even took time to tweet holiday well-wishes to all her fans back home!
“3 years ago, I left Earth for Mars. Wishing you safe travels this #Thanksgiving, too!”
Continue reading Curiosity Does ‘Walkabout’ in Search of Life’s Ingredients at Martian Mountain Base on Third Launch Anniversary
Philae’s final landing site, estimated by CONSERT. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CONSERT
By combining tantalizing clues from several different science instruments, the Rosetta science team is homing in on the location of Europe’s plucky Philae lander’s final landing site after successfully completing history’s first-ever soft landing on a comet, nearly two weeks ago, and discovering organic molecules.
Continue reading Rosetta Team Homing In on Philae’s Historic Final Comet Touchdown Site and Organics Location
A recently launched crowdfunding campaign aims to finance the development of an ambitious and challenging lunar science mission, called “Lunar Mission One,” to the Moon’s south pole. The project’s backers hope that this will help kickstart a new era in lunar exploration, while creating a legacy for the way space missions are funded. Image Credit: Lunar Missions Ltd.
The act of putting important information in written form inside sealed containers and have them thrown into the sea in the hopes of them eventually being recovered by someone on a distant shore has been a time-honored maritime tradition since the time of the Ancient Greeks. With the advent of the Space Age during the mid-20th century, this long-standing tradition has also been an integral part, albeit in a new form, of man’s exploratory efforts of the new ocean of space. Some of the most well-known examples include the gold-anodized aluminium plaques that were placed on board NASA’s twin Pioneer 10 and 11 spacecraft, as well as the gold-plated copper phonograph records onboard Voyager 1 and 2, which were launched on an outward trajectory from our Solar System while containing recorded greetings and detailed information about Earth and its occupants in the hopes of being intercepted by an extraterrestrial civilisation elsewhere in the galaxy sometime in the distant future.
Continue reading Crowdfunding Campaign Aims to Launch Ambitious Lunar Science Mission
STS-33 was the first nocturnal shuttle launch and landing of the post-Challenger era; entirely appropriate, perhaps, in light of the shroud of darkness which covered its primary payload. Photo Credit: NASA
A quarter-century ago, this week, in November 1989, the shuttle embarked on its first launch and landing in the hours of darkness since before the Challenger disaster. And “darkness” was an appropriate metaphor for STS-33, which marked one of the quietest flights in the reusable spacecraft’s 30-year operational history. Dedicated to the Department of Defense, the exact nature of its payload remains classified to this day, but the mission was notable in that its crew featured the first African-American shuttle commander, the first (and only) woman ever to participate in a military spaceflight and rebounded from tragedy, following the untimely death of one of the astronauts during training.
Continue reading Shuttle on the Night Shift: 25 Years Since STS-33
Soyuz TMA-15M is pictured docked at the Rassvet module of the International Space Station (ISS), where it is scheduled to remain for the next six months. Photo Credit: NASA
The week of Thanksgiving started in spectacular fashion at 9:49 p.m. EST Sunday, when the Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft and its crew of Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, U.S. astronaut Terry Virts, and Italy’s first woman in space, Samantha Cristoforetti, successfully docked at the International Space Station (ISS). The trio of spacefarers—all of them Air Force officers from their respective nations’ armed services—had earlier launched from Site 31/6 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:01:14 a.m. local time Monday (4:01:14 p.m. EST Sunday), turning night into day across the desolate steppe of Central Asia. Following a well-trodden, six-hour and four-orbit “fast rendezvous” profile, Soyuz TMA-15M executed a quartet of thruster firings to position itself for a docking at the Earth-facing (or “nadir”) Rassvet module. Shkaplerov, Virts, and Cristoforetti have now joined the incumbent Expedition 42 of U.S. astronaut Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Russian cosmonauts Aleksandr Samokutyayev and Yelena Serova, who have been aboard the space station since 25 September.
Continue reading New Crew Settles In Aboard Space Station, Ready for Six-Month Mission
Expedition 42 Cosmonaut and Flight Engineer Elena Serova works in the Russian segment of the International Space Station. Photo Credit: NASA
SPACE STATION WEEKLY UPDATE Nov. 17 – Nov. 23, 2014 — Expedition 42 Astronaut Barry “Butch” Wilmore and cosmonauts Elena Serova and Alexander Samokutyaev kept busy aboard the International Space Station (ISS) last week as they completed research, performed maintenance and educational outreach, and prepared for the arrival of a new set of faces to their temporary home in low-Earth orbit.
Wilmore worked on the Radi-N2 Neutron Field Study (Radi-N2). Radi-N2 will help to describe the neutron environment aboard the station as well as the kind of health risk crews may face and the measures necessary to protect them. Eight neutron “bubble detectors” are installed onto fixed areas in the ISS, and one is even located on a crew member aboard the station. Wilmore retrieved the bubbles this week to finish session number one of four for the study.
Continue reading Science, Maintenance, Public Outreach, and New Crew Arrival Highlight Busy Week on Station
Remote cameras set up around launch pad 0A at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia captured incredible up-close views of an Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares rocket exploding seconds after liftoff several weeks ago. The mission was to deliver the company’s Orb-3 Cygnus spacecraft to deliver supplies and experiments to the orbiting International Space Station. Photo Credits: Elliot Severn / Matthew Travis / Mike Barrett / Jeff Seibert for Zero-G News and AmericaSpace
For the NASA press corps, specifically the photojournalists responsible for capturing suicidal up-close images at liftoff, camera setups for the recent launch attempt of an Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares rocket on the Orb-3 mission was as usual, but the outcome was anything but. Everyone knows that a rocket can explode, and although the odds are incredibly small we understand the risks when we set up our launch pad cameras to document the impressive launches of America’s missions to space. As the old saying goes: Spaceflight is not routine, and the still and video imagery presented in this article tonight highlight that fact better than any words alone could ever describe.
Continue reading WATCH: Up-Close Launch Pad Cameras Capture Antares ORB-3 Explosion in Frightening Detail