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Next Launch Luch-5V on a Proton-M rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan scheduled for 28 Apr 14 4:25:00 GMT

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NASA’s Mars Rover Curiosity Arrives at ‘The Kimberley’ Science Destination

Curiosity Mars rover captured this panoramic view of a butte called "Mount Remarkable" and surrounding outcrops at “The Kimberley " waypoint on April 11, 2014. Colorized navcam photomosaic was stitched by Marco Di Lorenzo and Ken Kremer.  Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Marco Di Lorenzo/Ken Kremer - kenkremer.com

Curiosity Mars rover captured this panoramic view of a butte called “Mount Remarkable” and surrounding outcrops at “The Kimberley ” waypoint on April 11, 2014. Colorized navcam photomosaic was stitched by Marco Di Lorenzo and Ken Kremer. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Marco Di Lorenzo/Ken Kremer – kenkremer.com

NASA’s car sized Curiosity rover has pulled into a tantalizing destination on the Red Planet named “The Kimberley Waypoint” that researchers hope yields a bounty for science at a spot where scientists plan to direct the car sized robot to bore into the subsurface in search of further clues about ancient Martian environments that may have been favorable for life.

For nearly the past year, Curiosity has been on an epic trek since departing from her last big science expedition in the “Yellowknife Bay” region towards her primary goal, the lower reaches of the sedimentary layers of Mount Sharp – because it holds caches of water altered minerals.

Continue reading NASA’s Mars Rover Curiosity Arrives at ‘The Kimberley’ Science Destination

Mastracchio Becomes World No. 5 Spacewalker After Successful EVA-26

In completing EVA-26, Rick Mastracchio has established himself as the World No. 5 on the list of most experienced spacewalkers. Photo Credit: NASA TV

In completing EVA-26, Rick Mastracchio has established himself as the World No. 5 on the list of most experienced spacewalkers. Photo Credit: NASA TV

Expedition 39 astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Steve Swanson have successfully removed and replaced a failed Multiplexer-Demultiplexer (MDM) on the central S-0 truss of the International Space Station (ISS). In one of the shortest EVAs ever undertaken by U.S. astronauts, the two men spent 96 minutes outside the station and marched crisply through their task, even pausing at one stage to acquire the first-ever photographs of a berthed SpaceX Dragon cargo craft from a spacewalker’s perspective. Although EVA-26 was short, it pushed up Mastracchio’s cumulative EVA time to 53 hours and four minutes in nine career spacewalks, which now makes him the fifth most experienced spacewalker in the world.

Continue reading Mastracchio Becomes World No. 5 Spacewalker After Successful EVA-26

Expedition 39 Spacewalkers Ready for Critical EVA-26 Tomorrow

 

During preparations for EVA-26 on 17 April, Steve Swanson works inside the Quest airlock. Photo Credit: NASA

During preparations for EVA-26 on 17 April, Steve Swanson works inside the Quest airlock. Photo Credit: NASA

Expedition 39 spacewalkers Rick Mastracchio and Steve Swanson will venture outside the International Space Station (ISS) early Wednesday, 23 April, to remove and replace a failed backup Multiplexer-Demultiplexer (MDM) on the Mobile Base System (MBS). Designated “U.S. EVA-26″, the excursion is expected to get underway at about 9:20 a.m. EDT and should run for approximately 2.5 hours. It will be Mastracchio’s ninth career EVA and Swanson’s fifth and has been described as one of the simplest and least complex of the “Big 12″ spacewalks for which crews train to perform in order to hedge against the loss of critical ISS components. Assuming it takes place as planned, EVA-26 will also establish Mastracchio as the world’s fifth most experienced spacewalker.

Continue reading Expedition 39 Spacewalkers Ready for Critical EVA-26 Tomorrow

NASA’s LADEE Dust Probe Plunges Deliberately into Lunar Surface

Depiction of NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) observatory as it approaches lunar orbit.Credit:  NASA Ames/Dana Berry

Depiction of NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) observatory as it approaches lunar orbit.Credit: NASA Ames/Dana Berry

NASA’s newest moon probe, the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) aimed at studying the moon ultra tenuous atmosphere and dust, has deliberately plunged into the lunar surface after successfully completing its science mission.

With the probe running low on fuel during an extended bonus mission granted by NASA to collect every last drop of data, engineers at NASA’s Ames Research Center targeted LADEE to intentionally crash into the lunar far side so as to avoid any chances of destruction to the historic Apollo manned lunar landing sites.

Continue reading NASA’s LADEE Dust Probe Plunges Deliberately into Lunar Surface

Meet NASA’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator, the Next Step in Landing on Mars

The LDSD test article in the clean room at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, preparing for shipment to Hawaii for its first test launch this summer. LDSD will help land bigger space payloads on Mars or return them back to Earth. Photo Credit: AmericaSpace / Robert Fisher

The LDSD test article in the clean room at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, preparing for shipment to Hawaii for its first test launch this summer. LDSD will help land bigger space payloads on Mars or return them back to Earth. Photo Credit: AmericaSpace / Robert Fisher

Anyone even remotely familiar with landing spacecraft and payloads on other worlds can respect how difficult such a feat really is, and it only gets more difficult as the spacecraft get larger and heavier. Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity, each roughly the size of a golf cart, had to parachute in and land while cocooned inside a set of very sophisticated airbags, bouncing along the surface until coming to a stop. The rover Curiosity, which landed on Mars in August 2012, is the size of a SUV and carried out what is arguably the riskiest landing attempt of any spacecraft to date, touching down via a “sky-crane” which hovered thanks to rockets to lower the rover onto the surface.

Continue reading Meet NASA’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator, the Next Step in Landing on Mars

Easter Sunday ISS Berthing Caps Success-Filled CRS-3 Mission for SpaceX

SpaceX's "Easter Dragon" comes knocking at the International Space Station's door with a perfect, on-time berthing on Easter Sunday. Photo Credit: NASA TV

SpaceX’s “Easter Dragon” comes knocking at the International Space Station’s door with a perfect, on-time berthing on Easter Sunday. Photo Credit: NASA TV

Following a 13-month hiatus in International Space Station (ISS) operations, SpaceX—the Hawthorne, Calif.-based launch services organization, headed by entrepreneur Elon Musk—secured its latest triumph Easter Sunday morning with the successful rendezvous, capture, and berthing of the snub-nosed Dragon spacecraft at the expansive orbital outpost. Expedition 39 Commander Koichi Wakata, assisted by Flight Engineers Rick Mastracchio and Steve Swanson, grappled the cargo vessel with the station’s 57.7-foot-long (17.4-meter) Canadarm2 robotic arm precisely on time at 7:14 a.m. EDT and installed it onto the Earth-facing (or “nadir”) port of the Harmony node. Completion of the two-stage capture and berthing operation was confirmed by NASA at 10:06 a.m. EDT. Dragon, which is flying the third of 12 dedicated missions under SpaceX’s $1.6 billion Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract with NASA, will remain attached to the ISS for about a month as its myriad payloads are unloaded. Today’s success also comes hard on the heels of SpaceX’s electrifying announcement of success in its effort to soft-land the first stage of the Falcon 9 v1.1 launch vehicle on water, by means of experimental landing legs.

Continue reading Easter Sunday ISS Berthing Caps Success-Filled CRS-3 Mission for SpaceX

NASA's OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Passes Critical Design Review, Moves Toward Construction

An artist's concept of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft approaching the asteroid Bennu in 2018. The mission has recently completed its Critical Design Review, moving towards construction and assemply. Image Credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona

An artist’s concept of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft approaching the asteroid Bennu in 2018. The mission has recently completed its Critical Design Review, moving toward construction and assembly. Image Credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona

The next planetary mission in NASA’s New Frontiers program, the Near-Earth Asteroid sample return Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer, or OSIRIS-REx for short, has passed a major milestone on the road toward its planned launch in September 2016. Earlier this month, the mission successfully completed its Critical Design Review, which signals the transition from the design to the construction stage.

Continue reading NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Mission Passes Critical Design Review, Moves Toward Construction

Endeavour's Radar Love: 20 Years Since STS-59 (Part 2)

Endeavour rockets into the dawn on 9 April 1994. Photo Credit: NASA

Endeavour rockets into the dawn on 9 April 1994. Photo Credit: NASA

Twenty years ago this week, the crew of Endeavour on STS-59 demonstrated that the shuttle program was imbued with “Radar Love,” as they operated the first Space Radar Laboratory (SRL-1) to acquire unprecedented views of the Home Planet from orbit. For 11 days, astronauts Sid Gutierrez, Kevin Chilton, Jay Apt, Michael “Rich” Clifford, Linda Godwin, and Tom Jones worked around the clock to ensure that the radar instruments of the SRL-1 payload gathered an enormous quantity of scientific data. Much of that data is still being analyzed to this day and has helped to shape our understanding of Earth’s past, present, and, potentially, its future.

Continue reading Endeavour’s Radar Love: 20 Years Since STS-59 (Part 2)

PHOTOS: Pad Cameras Capture Falcon's Explosive Ascent With Dragon on Third ISS Supply Mission

AmericaSpace photographers Alan Walters and John Studwell have, again, produced some stunning imagery, this time from the recent SpaceX CRS-3 launch to send Dragon on its third ISS resupply mission for NASA. Photo Credit: AmericaSpace / Alan Walters / John Studwell

AmericaSpace photographers Alan Walters and John Studwell have again produced some stunning imagery; this time from the recent SpaceX CRS-3 launch to send Dragon on its third ISS resupply mission for NASA. Photo Credit: AmericaSpace / Alan Walters / John Studwell

On Friday, April 18, SpaceX successfully sent their Falcon-9 rocket off on a fiery ascent from Cape Canaveral Space Launch Complex-40 to deliver their Dragon spacecraft with 4,600 pounds of supplies and some 150 science experiments for the crew onboard the International Space Station, and AmericaSpace was there to capture it all.

Continue reading PHOTOS: Pad Cameras Capture Falcon’s Explosive Ascent With Dragon on Third ISS Supply Mission

Endeavour's Radar Love: 20 Years Since STS-59 (Part 1)

The Space Radar Laboratory (SRL) payload flew twice in 1994, firstly aboard STS-59 in April and later aboard STS-68 in September-October. The large Shuttle Imaging Radar (SIR)-C is clearly visible in the foreground. Photo Credit: NASA

The Space Radar Laboratory (SRL) payload flew twice in 1994, firstly aboard STS-59 in April and later aboard STS-68 in September-October. The large Shuttle Imaging Radar (SIR)-C is clearly visible in the foreground. Photo Credit: NASA

Twenty years ago this week, the crew of Endeavour on STS-59 demonstrated that the shuttle program was imbued with “Radar Love,” as they operated the first Space Radar Laboratory (SRL-1) to acquire unprecedented views of the Home Planet from orbit. For 11 days, astronauts Sid Gutierrez, Kevin Chilton, Jay Apt, Michael “Rich” Clifford, Linda Godwin, and Tom Jones worked around the clock to ensure that the radar instruments of the SRL-1 payload gathered an enormous quantity of scientific data. Much of that data is still being analyzed to this day and has helped to shape our understanding of Earth’s past, present, and, potentially, its future.

Continue reading Endeavour’s Radar Love: 20 Years Since STS-59 (Part 1)