AFSPC-6 Launch Helps Form Extraordinary New US Space Defense Foundation

The successful launch August 19, 2016 of two new U.S. Air Force Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSSAP) spacecraft on a ULA Delta- IV 4,2 rocket joins two sister satellites in forming an extraordinary new U. S. space defense foundation in geosynchronous orbit. Photo Credit: Alan Walters / AmericaSpace

The successful launch Aug. 19, 2016, of two new U.S. Air Force Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSSAP) spacecraft on a ULA Delta- IV 4,2 rocket joins two sister satellites in forming an extraordinary new U. S. space defense foundation in geosynchronous orbit. Photo Credit: Alan Walters / AmericaSpace

The successful launch Aug. 19, 2016, of two new U.S. Air Force Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSSAP) spacecraft on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket joins two sister satellites in forming an extraordinary new U. S. space defense foundation in geosynchronous orbit.

The new ability to inspect disabled U.S. satellites and deter critical U.S. and allied geosynchronous satellites from Russian and Chinese interference and outright attack removes from Russia and China the ability to blind and deafen the U.S. by the stealthy physical take-down of vital missile warning, eavesdropping, and communications spacecraft while staging ground and naval attacks.

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Delta IV Set for GEO 'We See All' Mission

Air Force graphic depicts two GSSAP spacecraft operating in geosynchronous orbit at 22,300 mi. altitude. Photo Credit Air Force Space Command.

Air Force graphic depicts two GSSAP spacecraft operating in geosynchronous orbit at 22,300-mile altitude. Image Credit Air Force Space Command.

The U.S. Air Force is poised to double its geosynchronous orbit space situational awareness and satellite-to-satellite imaging with the planned Aug. 19 predawn launch of two Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSSAP) satellites on board a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Medium 4,2 vehicle with two solid rocket boosters. 

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'Weird Object' Discovered Beyond Neptune: A Clue in the Quest for Planet Nine?

The newly discovered object called Niku is a real oddity (artist's conception). It is also part of a group of many such objects far past Neptune in the outer Solar System. Image Credit: ESO/L. Calçada/Nick Risinger

The newly discovered object called Niku is a real oddity (artist’s conception). It is also part of a group of many such objects far past Neptune in the outer Solar System. Image Credit: ESO/L. Calçada/Nick Risinger

For the most part, the Solar System seems to be a rather well-ordered place; the planets, dwarf planets, and asteroids keep circling the Sun in regular orbits, the moons keep orbiting the planets, and so on. There are exceptions, however, such as how Uranus rotates “on its side” as compared to other planets and how Venus rotates in the opposite direction to most other planets. Now, astronomers have discovered another similar oddity, in the outer fringes of the Solar System: a small, asteroid-like object whose orbit is not only highly tilted against the orbital plane of the planets, but is also orbiting backwards compared to them. And it’s not alone. It appears to be part of a larger group of objects all doing the same thing. Weird …

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Oldest US Spacewalker Set to Lead Commercial Crew EVA on Friday

Expedition 48 Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineer Kate Rubins work with their Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) suits in the Quest airlock. Photo Credit: NASA

Expedition 48 Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineer Kate Rubins work with their Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) suits in the Quest airlock. Photo Credit: NASA

Expedition 48 Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineer Kate Rubins will venture outside the International Space Station (ISS) on Friday, 19 August, to install the first of two Boeing-built International Docking Adapters (IDA-2) onto the orbital outpost. These mechanisms will be attached to the forward and space-facing (or “zenith”) sides of the Harmony node and will provide critical primary and backup docking interfaces for NASA’s two Commercial Crew providers: Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon from fall 2017 onward. In readiness for the upcoming EVA-36, mission controllers will robotically remove IDA-2 from the unpressurized “trunk” on Wednesday and position it close to Pressurized Mating Adapter (PMA)-2 on the forward end of Harmony. This will allow Williams and Rubins to install what has been described as the space station’s “gateway” for Commercial Crew operations.

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'What a Lucky Person I Am': 25 Years Since STS-43 (Part 2)

The STS-43 consisted of (from left) David Low, Shannon Lucid, Jim Adamson, John Blaha and Mike Baker. Theirs was the fifth-longest shuttle mission in history at the time. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

The STS-43 consisted of (from left) David Low, Shannon Lucid, Jim Adamson, John Blaha, and Mike Baker. Theirs was the fifth-longest shuttle mission in history at the time. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

A quarter-century has now passed since five astronauts roared into orbit to complete the fifth-longest space shuttle mission at that time. Aboard Atlantis for her lengthiest voyage to date, STS-43 Commander John Blaha, Pilot Mike Baker, and Mission Specialists Shannon Lucid, Jim Adamson, and David Low spent almost nine days aloft, deploying a critical NASA communications and data-relay satellite and supporting a wide range of biomedical, scientific, and technological experiments. In so doing, STS-43 harked back to the past and demonstrated the bones of technologies of the future, some of which went on to bear fruit in the International Space Station (ISS).

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SpaceX Launches Fifth GTO-Bound Mission of 2016, Accomplishes Smooth Drone Ship Landing

In the middle of the night, SpaceX delivered the JCSAT-16 payload into Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO), on behalf of SKY Perfect JSAT Group. Photo Credit: Alan Walters/AmericaSpace

In the middle of the night, SpaceX delivered the JCSAT-16 payload into Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO), on behalf of SKY Perfect JSAT Group. Photo Credit: Alan Walters/AmericaSpace

For the first time in its 14-year history, SpaceX has successfully launched an eighth mission within a single calendar year. Its Upgraded Falcon 9 booster—first flown last December—lifted off from Space Launch Complex (SLC)-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., at 1:26 a.m. EDT Sunday, 14 August. Roaring into the Florida night under the 1.5 million pounds (680,000 kg) of thrust from its nine Merlin 1D+ first-stage engines, the vehicle was tasked with delivering the heavyweight JCSAT-16 communications satellite into a 22,300-mile (35,700-km) Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO) on behalf of Tokyo-based SKY Perfect JSAT Group.

Less than 10 minutes after launch, as the Upgraded Falcon 9’s second stage set to work boosting JCSAT-16 to orbit, the first stage returned under its own power to accomplish a smooth touchdown on the Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship (ASDS), nicknamed “Of Course I Still Love You.” The latter was located about 420 miles (680 km) off the Cape Canaveral coast, in the Atlantic Ocean. This was the sixth wholly successful landing of Upgraded Falcon 9 first-stage hardware, and the fourth on the drone ship, within the last eight months.

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Astronaut Scholarship Foundation to Honor 35th Anniversary of First Shuttle Missions

Thirty-five years ago, in April and November 1981, NASA launched the first reusable piloted orbital spacecraft on its first two missions. In September 2016, the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF) will remember STS-1 and STS-2 with a panel discussion involving three of the four astronauts. Photo Credit: NASA

Thirty-five years ago, in April and November 1981, NASA launched the first reusable piloted orbital spacecraft on its first two missions. In September 2016, the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF) will remember STS-1 and STS-2 with a panel discussion involving three of the four astronauts. Photo Credit: NASA

Thirty-five years ago, this summer, NASA worked around the clock to process the first reusable orbital manned spacecraft for something which had never previously been attempted. For two decades, U.S. astronauts had journeyed to and from space aboard single-use ballistic capsules, but in the summer of 1981 Space Shuttle Columbia had wrapped up a smooth maiden voyage and was being readied for her second flight in the fall. On 17 September 2016, the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF) will honor the 35th anniversary of the STS-1 and STS-2 missions with a panel discussion involving veteran astronauts Bob Crippen, Joe Engle, and Dick Truly.

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'Putting Your Thinking Hat On': 25 Years Since STS-43 (Part 1)

 

Atlantis roars into the late morning Florida sky on 2 August 1991, 25 years ago this month. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Atlantis roars into the late morning Florida sky on 2 August 1991, 25 years ago this month. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Twenty-five years ago, this month, Space Shuttle Atlantis flew a mission which harked back to the past and set in place a cornerstone to enable the exploration of the future. In August 1991, the crew of STS-43—Commander John Blaha, Pilot Mike Baker, and Mission Specialists Shannon Lucid, Jim Adamson, and David Low—rocketed into space to launch NASA’s fourth Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS). Part of a network of geostationary-orbiting communications and relay platforms for the shuttle and the space agency’s major scientific assets, TDRS was joined aboard Atlantis by a menagerie of research and technology investigations, many of which would evolve into systems for today’s International Space Station (ISS).

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SpaceX Ready for Sunday Morning JCSAT-16 Launch, ASDS Landing

Following hard on the heels of 6 May's JCSAT-14 launch, SpaceX will deliver its second payload for SKY Perfect JSAT Group to Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO) on Sunday, 14 August. Photo Credit: Mike Killian / AmericaSpace

Following hard on the heels of 6 May’s JCSAT-14 launch, SpaceX will deliver its second payload for SKY Perfect JSAT Group to Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO) on Sunday, 14 August. Photo Credit: Mike Killian / AmericaSpace

Three weeks after spectacularly bringing its Upgraded Falcon 9 first-stage hardware to a smooth touchdown on Landing Zone (LZ)-1 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., SpaceX is primed to deliver a personal-best-beating eighth mission to space in a single calendar year. Launch of the next Upgraded Falcon 9 is presently targeted to occur from Space Launch Complex (SLC)-40 during a two-hour “window,” extending from 1:26 a.m. through 3:26 a.m. EDT Sunday, 14 August. The mission will deliver the JCSAT-16 communications satellite toward a Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO) of approximately 22,300 miles (35,700 km) altitude, on behalf of Tokyo-headquartered SKY Perfect JSAT Group. Due to the high-energy nature of this mission’s trajectory, a “land” landing on LZ-1 is not scheduled and the Upgraded Falcon 9 hardware will instead attempt to alight on the Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship (ASDS) in the Atlantic Ocean.

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Virtual Reality Meets Space Tourism: World's First VR Satellite To Be Launched in 2017

Artist's illustration of the Overview 1 satellite in orbit, which will provide a unique virtually reality view from orbit. Image Credit: SpaceVR

Artist’s illustration of the Overview 1 satellite in orbit, which will provide a unique virtual reality view from orbit. Image Credit: SpaceVR

Virtual reality is one of the hottest trends in technology right now, and it might seem natural that it would be used in conjunction with space technology. Now, SpaceVR, a company specializing in virtual space tourism, has signed an agreement to launch the world’s first virtual reality camera satellite into space. The satellite will provide a mesmerizing view from orbit, with high-resolution and immersive 360-degree video. For the majority of us who are not astronauts, it may just be the next best thing to actually being there.

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