AmericaSpace Launch Countdown

Next Launch CRS-3 on a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral AFB, FL scheduled for 18 Apr 14 19:25:22 GMT

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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)

Fiery SpaceX Dragon Roars Toward Space Station

SpaceX's Falcon 9 v1.1 carries its first Dragon cargo craft into orbit on Friday, 18 April. Photo Credit: John Studwell

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 v1.1 carries its first Dragon cargo craft into orbit on Friday, 18 April. Photo Credit: John Studwell

Following Monday’s disappointing scrub of the third Commercial Resupply Services (CRS)-3 mission of the Dragon cargo craft to the International Space Station (ISS), SpaceX—the Hawthorne, Calif.-based launch services organization, headed by entrepreneur Elon Musk—has successfully ended a 13-month hiatus with a rousing liftoff at 3:25:22 p.m. EDT Friday, 18 April. In spite of a predicted 40-percent likelihood of acceptable weather at launch time, and ominous clouds and thunder prevalent in the Cape Canaveral area for much of the day, SpaceX’s upgraded Falcon 9 v1.1 roared aloft from Space Launch Complex (SLC)-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. Just 10 minutes after liftoff, Dragon had separated from the second stage of the rocket and was in the process of unfurling its solar arrays and communications and navigation appendages, preparatory to a rendezvous and berthing at the ISS in two days’ time.

Continue reading Fiery SpaceX Dragon Roars Toward Space Station

Big Discovery: First Earth-Sized Exoplanet in Habitable Zone of Another Star

Artist's conception of Kepler-186f in orbit around its red dwarf star. Image Credit: NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech

Artist’s conception of Kepler-186f in orbit around its red dwarf star. Image Credit: NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech

Today was another big day for those interested in space exploration and in the search for other Earth-like, alien worlds in particular: The first Earth-sized exoplanet orbiting another star in the habitable zone has been discovered, it was announced by astronomers with the Kepler space telescope mission.

Continue reading Big Discovery: First Earth-Sized Exoplanet in Habitable Zone of Another Star

Cassini Image May Reveal Historic Birth of Icy Saturn Moon

From NASA/JPL: "The disturbance visible at the outer edge of Saturn's A ring in this image from NASA's Cassini spacecraft could be caused by an object replaying the birth process of icy moons." Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

From NASA/JPL: “The disturbance visible at the outer edge of Saturn’s A ring in this image from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft could be caused by an object replaying the birth process of icy moons.” Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

The Cassini spacecraft, a flagship-class mission that is a cooperative project between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Italian Space Agency (ASI), may have uncovered the birth of an icy moon from within Saturn’s rings. This object was shown in an image Cassini took from its narrow angle camera (part of its Imaging Science Subsystem) of the gas giant’s “A” ring on April 15, 2013. The possible moon is described by NASA as being “20 percent brighter than its surroundings, 750 miles [1,200 kilometers] long and 6 miles [10 kilometers] wide.”

Continue reading Cassini Image May Reveal Historic Birth of Icy Saturn Moon

SpaceX Secures 20-Year Lease Agreement With NASA for Use of Historic Launch Complex 39A

SpaceX has finalized a lease agreement with NASA for use of launch pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the launch site for many historic missions such as the Apollo Saturn-V moon missions and over 80 space shuttle launches. The company's first launch off 39A will be atop their Falcon-Heavy rocket as soon as 2015. Image Credits: NASA / SpaceX / AmericaSpace

SpaceX has finalized a lease agreement with NASA for use of launch pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the launch site for many historic missions such as the Apollo Saturn-V Moon missions and over 80 space shuttle launches. The company’s first launch off 39A will be atop their Falcon-Heavy rocket as soon as 2015. Image Credits: NASA / SpaceX / AmericaSpace

There’s only one place on Earth where humans left to touch the face of another world, and this week Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) finalized an agreement with NASA to put that place (launch pad 39A) to use again for at least the next couple decades.

Continue reading SpaceX Secures 20-Year Lease Agreement With NASA for Use of Historic Launch Complex 39A

Soyuz-U Successfully Launches Egypt's Second Earth-Watching Satellite

The four tapering strap-on boosters and central core of the Soyuz-U booster pierce the darkness in today's rousing EgyptSat-2 launch. Photo Credit: TsENKI, with thanks to Mike Barrett

The four tapering strap-on boosters and central core of the Soyuz-U booster pierce the darkness in today’s rousing EgyptSat-2 launch. Photo Credit: TsENKI, with thanks to Mike Barrett

A Russian Soyuz-U booster has staged what is expected to be its final non-Progress mission, with a rousing liftoff from Site 31/6 at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The vehicle—a direct descendent of Chief Designer Sergei Korolev’s R-7 “Semyorka” (“Little Seven”) intercontinental ballistic missile, developed in the 1950s—roared into the night sky at 10:20 p.m. local time (12:20 p.m. EDT) Wednesday. Within nine minutes, it had successfully inserted Egypt’s second remote-sensing satellite, known as “EgyptSat-2,” into a circular orbit of 435 x 435 miles (700 x 700 km), inclined 51.6 degrees to the equator. EgyptSat-2 should remain in service for up to 11 years, providing unprecedented visible and multispectral imagery of the territory of Egypt and its environs.

Continue reading Soyuz-U Successfully Launches Egypt’s Second Earth-Watching Satellite

Commentary: A Path to Nowhere and the Absence of Leadership (Part 2)

The long-term goal in NASA's human spaceflight program, are human trips to Mars during the mid-2030's. Will the 2021 manned Mars-Venus flyby mission proposal discussed at a recent Congressional hearing, help to accelerate the agency's plans by gaining the political support of Congress? Image Credit: NASA

Despite a plethora of deep-space mission concepts currently envisioned by NASA, there’s little consensus between Congress and the White House on where the space agency should go next in space, in the lack of a coherent vision and direction. Image Credit: NASA

Last week’s article focused on examining some of the events and political decisions that have resulted in the U.S.’s reliance on Russia for gaining access to the International Space Station—a topic that came into the spotlight in the aftermath of the recent geopolitical crisis between Russia and Ukraine. Today’s article focuses on some of the decisions that affected the course of the U.S. human spaceflight program for charting a course for deep-space destinations.

Continue reading Commentary: A Path to Nowhere and the Absence of Leadership (Part 2)

EgyptSat-2 Ready to Launch Wednesday Atop Soyuz-U Booster

 

Atop its Soyuz-U booster, EgyptSat-2 is transferred to Site 31/6 at Baikonur on Monday, 14 April. Photo Credit: Roscosmos

Atop its Soyuz-U booster, EgyptSat-2 is transferred to Site 31/6 at Baikonur on Monday, 14 April. Photo Credit: Roscosmos

Egypt will launch its second remote-sensing satellite into orbit tomorrow (Wednesday, 16 April) atop Russia’s Soyuz-U booster from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The EgyptSat-2 mission is currently scheduled to get underway from Site 31/6 at 10:20 p.m. local time (12:20 p.m. EDT) and, following , a nine-minute ascent, will be delivered into an operational orbit of 435 x 435 miles (700 x 700 km), inclined 51.6 degrees to the equator. Configured with a similar payload shroud to that used by Progress cargo missions to the International Space Station (ISS), this is expected to be the last flight of a non-Progress Soyuz-U, before the vehicle is retired in 2015 and replaced by the new Soyuz 2-1A.

Continue reading EgyptSat-2 Ready to Launch Wednesday Atop Soyuz-U Booster

Falcon-9 Helium Leak Scrubs SpaceX Dragon ISS Resupply Mission to NET April 18

SpaceX has called off today's planned Dragon CRS3 launch to the ISS—next launch attempt no earlier than Friday, April 18. Photo Credit: AmericaSpace / John Studwell

SpaceX has called off today’s planned Dragon CRS3 launch to the ISS—next launch attempt no earlier than Friday, April 18. Photo Credit: AmericaSpace / John Studwell

The third dedicated SpaceX Dragon mission to deliver 4,000+ pounds of cargo and supplies to the International Space Station under a $1.6 billion Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA has been pushed back again, this time due to a helium leak discovered on the Falcon-9 rocket first stage earlier today.

Continue reading Falcon-9 Helium Leak Scrubs SpaceX Dragon ISS Resupply Mission to NET April 18