AmericaSpace Launch Countdown

Next Launch TMA-15M on a Soyuz-FG rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan
scheduled for:
23 Nov 14 21:01:14 GMT
24 Nov 14 3:01:14 ALMT
23 Nov 14 16:01:14 Eastern

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.

WATCH: Up-Close Launch Pad Cameras Capture Antares ORB-3 Explosion in Frightening Detail

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 rocket exploding seconds after liftoff several weeks ago. The mission was to deliver the company's 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

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

Soyuz TMA-15M Rockets to Orbit to Complete Expedition 42

Stunning perspective of the Soyuz TMA-15M launch at 3:01:14 a.m. local time Monday, 24 November (4:01:14 p.m. EST Sunday, 23 November). Photo Credit: Roscosmos, via European Space Agency (ESA)

Stunning perspective of the Soyuz TMA-15M launch at 3:01:14 a.m. local time Monday, 24 November (4:01:14 p.m. EST Sunday, 23 November). Photo Credit: Roscosmos, via European Space Agency (ESA)

Three new crew members, representing three discrete sovereign countries and three national space agencies, are heading towards a docking with the International Space Station (ISS), following the successful launch of Soyuz TMA-15M from Site 31/6 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, U.S. astronaut Terry Virts and Italy’s first woman in space, Samantha Cristoforetti, roared into the night at 3:01:14 a.m. local time Monday, 24 November (4:01:14 p.m. EST Sunday, 23 November), and at the time of writing are in the process of executing four thruster “burns” to position themselves for a docking at the station’s Earth-facing (or “nadir”) Rassvet module at about 9:53 p.m. EST Sunday, a little under six hours and four orbits after liftoff. The trio will form the second half of the incumbent Expedition 42 crew, joining U.S. astronaut Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Russian cosmonauts Aleksandr Samokutyayev and Yelena Serova, who have been aboard the ISS since 25 September.

Continue reading Soyuz TMA-15M Rockets to Orbit to Complete Expedition 42

A New Dawn: The Troubled History and Future Promise of NASA's Orion Program (Part 4)

The Orion spacecraft and its Launch Abort System (LAS) for the Exploration pause briefly outside the historic Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), during their journey to Space Launch Complex (SLC)-37B. Photo Credit: Talia Landman/AmericaSpace

The Orion spacecraft and its Launch Abort System (LAS) for the Exploration pause briefly outside the historic Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), during their journey to Space Launch Complex (SLC)-37B. Photo Credit: Talia Landman/AmericaSpace

After more than a decade of planning, preparation, frustration and cancellation, in just 11 days’ time the first human-capable vehicle for Beyond Earth Orbit (BEO) exploration in more than four decades will embark on its much-anticipated maiden voyage. Liftoff of NASA’s first Orion spacecraft on the Exploration Flight Test (EFT)-1 mission is targeted to occur from Space Launch Complex (SLC)-37B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., at 7:05 a.m. EST on Thursday, 4 December. Orion will be boosted aloft by the most powerful rocket currently in active operational service, anywhere in the world—the Delta IV Heavy—which is tasked with delivering the two-part spacecraft to a peak altitude of 3,600 miles (5,800 km). It will then complete two orbits in 4.5 hours, before plunging back to Earth in excess of 20,000 mph (32,000 km/h) to test its heat shield at near-lunar-return velocities and temperatures of close to 2,200 degrees Celsius (4,000 degrees Fahrenheit). As noted in yesterday’s AmericaSpace history article, EFT-1 represents nothing less than a quantum leap in preparing to return humans to deep space for the first time since the Apollo era.   

Continue reading A New Dawn: The Troubled History and Future Promise of NASA’s Orion Program (Part 4)

NASA's Iconic Kennedy Press Site Countdown Clock Retires in Wake of New Era

One of the most-watched & historic timepieces in the world ticked its last tock today. The Press Site Countdown Clock at Kennedy Space Center is now retired, a victim of decades of abuse from the Florida elements. The world looked to the clock for America's push for the moon during Apollo, 135 space shuttle missions, & for launches of spacecraft to worlds across the solar system, & now it will make way for a more modern multimedia display that will provide images from multiple sources (& of course the countdown). Photo Credit: Julian Leek / Blue Sawtooth Studio

One of the most-watched and historic timepieces in the world ticked its last tock this week. The Press Site Countdown Clock at Kennedy Space Center is now retired, a victim of decades of abuse from the Florida elements. The world looked to the clock for America’s push for the moon during Apollo, 135 space shuttle missions, and for launches of spacecraft to worlds across the Solar System, and now it will make way for a more modern multimedia display that will provide images from multiple sources (and, of course, the countdown). Photo Credit: Julian Leek / Blue Sawtooth Studio

“Out with the old and in with the new” is the attitude at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC), a mentality adopted since the Space Shuttle Program retired in 2011. Letting go of the past is certainly difficult, especially at KSC where programs like Apollo and Shuttle took flight and brought success to America’s Space Program. Now, NASA’s world renowned launch complex on the east coast of Florida is undergoing a multitude of changes to evolve into a multi-user spaceport.

Continue reading NASA’s Iconic Kennedy Press Site Countdown Clock Retires in Wake of New Era

'Shuttleman' Scott G. Phillips Keeps Shuttle Spirit Alive With Tribute Models, New Book

Scott G. Phillips stands by his space shuttle tribute display. Phillips' new memoir, Remove Before Flight, tells the story of his own personal shuttle odyssey. Photo Credit: Scott G. Phillips

Scott G. Phillips stands by his space shuttle tribute display. Phillips’ new memoir, Remove Before Flight, tells the story of his own personal shuttle odyssey. Photo Credit: Scott G. Phillips

Since the beginning of the space shuttle era, which kicked off with STS-1’s triumphant launch in 1981, space buffs, historians, and writers chronicling the stories of spaceflight have heard tales from the astronauts who made that era ubiquitous in the form of biographies and oral histories. Many of these astronauts, while not household names, are icons in the space community—one thinks of Young, Crippen, Musgrave, and Ride, for example. However, the successes of the shuttle era were also made possible by the thousands of workers who helped process orbiters and their “stacks” during the program’s 30-plus years, and while they may not be as well-recognized, they, too, have stories to share encompassing a rich history.

Continue reading ‘Shuttleman’ Scott G. Phillips Keeps Shuttle Spirit Alive With Tribute Models, New Book

A New Dawn: The Troubled History and Future Promise of NASA's Orion Program (Part 3)

The "business end" of the three Common Booster Cores (CBCs) for the Delta IV Heavy are readied for America's next step towards deep space. Photo Credit: Mike Killian/AmericaSpace

The “business end” of the three Common Booster Cores (CBCs) for the Delta IV Heavy are readied for America’s next step towards deep space. Photo Credit: Mike Killian/AmericaSpace

Twelve days now remain before the long-awaited launch of Orion—the first human-capable vehicle for Beyond Earth Orbit (BEO) exploration in more than four decades—on its inaugural voyage. Liftoff of the Exploration Flight Test (EFT)-1 mission is scheduled to occur from Space Launch Complex (SLC)-37B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., at 7:05 a.m. EST on Thursday, 4 December. It will be boosted into the heavens by the Delta IV Heavy, the most powerful rocket currently in active operational service, anywhere in the world. The Heavy will deliver Orion to a peak altitude of 3,600 miles (5,800 km), whereupon the spacecraft will complete two orbits in 4.5 hours, then plunge back to Earth in excess of 20,000 mph (32,000 km/h), testing its heat shield at near-lunar-return velocities and temperatures of close to 2,200 degrees Celsius (4,000 degrees Fahrenheit).

Continue reading A New Dawn: The Troubled History and Future Promise of NASA’s Orion Program (Part 3)

Surprisingly Bright Cloud Systems and Extreme Storms on Uranus Puzzle Astronomers

Infrared images of Uranus at wavelengths of 1.6 (left) and 2.2 microns (right), that were obtained on Aug. 6, with the Adaptive Optics system on the 10-meter Keck II telescope on  Mauna Kea in Hawaii. The white spot is an extremely large storm that was brighter than any feature ever recorded on the planet in these wavelengths. The cloud at the lower-right limb of the planet, grew into the large storm that was seen by amateur astronomers at visible wavelengths. Image Credit: Imke de Pater (UC Berkeley) & Keck Observatory images

Infrared images of Uranus at wavelengths of 1.6 (left) and 2.2 microns (right), that were obtained on Aug. 6, with the Adaptive Optics system on the 10-meter Keck II telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawaii. The white spot is an extremely large storm that was brighter than any feature ever recorded on the planet in these wavelengths. The cloud at the lower-right limb of the planet, grew into the large storm that was seen by amateur astronomers at visible wavelengths. Image Credit: Imke de Pater (UC Berkeley) & Keck Observatory images

If there’s a planet in the Solar System that could justifiably feel neglected, that would be Uranus. Famous for being unique among the rest of the planets because of its rotational axis which is almost parallel to the plane of the ecliptic, causing it to essentially“roll” on its side in its orbit around the Sun, this distant cyan-tinted ringed world has nevertheless earned the definition of the “boring” planet, largely due to the fact that its disk appeared almost featureless and ‘bland’ to the electronic eyes of NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft during the latter’s historic close fly by in January 1986. Yet, as was detailed in a previous AmericaSpace article, despite this unjust reputation, Uranus is a greatly fascinating and enchanting world full of well-kept, intriguing secrets, whose study could turn to be key towards a deeper understanding of our Solar System as well as those around other stars. Now, as if wanting to correct the ill-informed description with which it had been associated for decades, Uranus unexpectedly became increasingly active in recent months, displaying enormous and highly visible bright cloud features and extreme storms deep in its atmosphere, while leaving astronomers completely puzzled over the cause of these unusual weather phenomena.

Continue reading Surprisingly Bright Cloud Systems and Extreme Storms on Uranus Puzzle Astronomers

Orbital Sciences Awarded Contract to Launch Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) Mission

Artist's concept of the Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) satellite. Orbital Sciences will launch ICON aboard a Pegasus XL launch vehicle from their "Stargazer" L-1011 aircraft in June, 2017. Image Credit: Orbital Sciences Corporation

Artist’s concept of the Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) satellite. Orbital Sciences will launch ICON aboard a Pegasus XL launch vehicle from their “Stargazer” L-1011 aircraft in June, 2017. Image Credit: Orbital Sciences Corporation

Orbital Sciences Corporation this week secured a $56.3 million firm-fixed price launch services contract to deliver the Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) mission to orbit for NASA in the summer of 2017. The mission, which is led by the University of California, Berkeley, with oversight by the Explorers Program at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, will launch from the Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll (in the Republic of the Marshall Islands) aboard a 3-stage Pegasus XL rocket, which itself will fire over the Pacific Ocean towards a 575 km circular orbit from Orbital’s “Stargazer” L-1011 aircraft.

Continue reading Orbital Sciences Awarded Contract to Launch Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) Mission

Hot 'Super-Earths' Provide Clues to Water in Exoplanet Atmospheres

Artist's conception of super-Earth 55 Cancri e, one of the few exoplanets so far which astronomers are able to study the atmosphere of. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Artist’s conception of super-Earth 55 Cancri e, one of the few exoplanets so far which astronomers are able to study the atmosphere of. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Some of the most interesting exoplanets discovered so far are the “super-Earths,” rocky worlds which are significantly larger and more massive than Earth but still smaller than the ice giants such as Uranus or Neptune. Since they are not present in our own Solar System, their existence elsewhere can provide valuable information about planetary formation processes around other stars. One of the most significant aspects of this is the detection of water vapor in the atmospheres of these or other exoplanets, as this can help astronomers determine which super-Earths, or other exoplanets, may also have liquid water and be potentially habitable.

Continue reading Hot ‘Super-Earths’ Provide Clues to Water in Exoplanet Atmospheres

All-Air Force Crew From Three Nations Ready for Launch to Space Station (Part 2)

At the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, Expedition 42/43 prime crew members Terry Virts of NASA (left), Anton Shkaplerov of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos, center) and Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency (right) pose for pictures following a news conference Nov. 6. Virts, Cristoforetti and Shkaplerov will launch Nov. 24, Kazakh time from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on their Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft for a 5 ½ month mission on the International Space Station. Photo Credit: NASA/Stephanie Stoll​

At the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, Expedition 42/43 prime crew members Terry Virts of NASA (left), Anton Shkaplerov of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos, center), and Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency (right) pose for pictures following a news conference Nov. 6. Virts, Cristoforetti, and Shkaplerov will launch Nov. 24, Kazakh time from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on their Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft for a 5 ½ month mission on the International Space Station. Photo Credit: NASA/Stephanie Stoll​

Two weeks after the 9 November return to Earth of Soyuz TMA-13M, a new three-member crew will launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:01 a.m. local time Monday, 24 November (4:01 p.m. EST Sunday, 23 November), bound for a six-month stay aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, U.S. astronaut Terry Virts, and Italy’s first female spacefarer, Samantha Cristoforetti, will embark on a now-standard six-hour, four-orbit “fast rendezvous” profile and should be in position to dock their Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft at the station’s Earth-facing (or “nadir”) Rassvet module at 9:53 p.m. EST Sunday. After confirming the integrity of seals between the two vehicles, hatches will be opened at about 11:30 p.m., whereupon the new arrivals will be greeted by the incumbent Expedition 42 crew of U.S. astronaut Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Russian cosmonauts Aleksandr Samokutyayev and Yelena Serova, who have been aboard the orbital outpost since 25 September.

Continue reading All-Air Force Crew From Three Nations Ready for Launch to Space Station (Part 2)