Juno three-year anniversary since blastoff on Aug. 5, 2011. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
It’s three down and two to go for NASA’s Jupiter-bound Juno probe, which marks a major milestone today, Aug. 5, celebrating its launch exactly three years ago—on Aug. 5, 2011—from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., on a journey to discover the genesis of Jupiter hidden deep inside the planet’s interior.
“The Juno spacecraft is doing great and is on the way to Jupiter,” Juno principal investigator Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute (SWRI), San Antonio, Texas, told me today in response to a query about the spacecraft’s status on the 3rd anniversary since blastoff.
Continue reading Juno Launched Three Years Ago (Aug. 5, 2011) on Five-Year Journey to Discover Jupiter’s Genesis
A “self-portrait” of the Curiosity rover in Yellowknife Bay, with part of Mount Sharp in the background. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
The Curiosity rover has been actively exploring Mars for two years now, and as it celebrated its second anniversary today, Aug. 5, it is also, after a lengthy journey, approaching its primary mission goal: the massive Mount Sharp in the middle of Gale crater.
Continue reading Curiosity Rover Celebrates Second Anniversary on Mars as It Approaches Mountain Goal
AsiaSat-8 begins its journey to geostationary transfer orbit, atop 2014′s fourth Falcon 9 v1.1. Photo Credit: Alan Walters/AmericaSpace
In spite of a nail-biting scrub in the final seconds, and ultimately erroneous rumors of a 24-hour delay, SpaceX successfully launched a record-setting fourth mission of 2014 at 4:00 a.m. EDT Tuesday, 5 August, delivering the powerful AsiaSat-8 communications satellite into geostationary transfer orbit at an altitude of 22,300 miles (35,900 km). As well as representing SpaceX’s third foray to geostationary altitude—following the SES-8 mission in December 2013 and the Thaicom-6 mission in January 2014—today’s flight also achieves two “personal bests” for the Hawthorne, Calif.-based launch services provider: a record-breaking fourth launch within a single calendar year and two back-to-back launches within just 22 days of one another. With the successful delivery of AsiaSat-8, SpaceX can at last leave several months of frustrating delays in the past and focus on with ambitious plans to launch AsiaSat-6 in late August and another Dragon cargo mission (SpX-4) to the International Space Station (ISS) in mid-September.
Continue reading SpaceX Achieves Record-Setting Second Mission in Three Weeks
Artist’s concept of SpaceX’s Boca Chica commercial launch site in Brownsville, Texas. Image Credit: SpaceX
Though the news comes as no surprise, it has now been made official: SpaceX will build their commercial space launch site at Boca Chica Beach in Brownsville, Texas. The deal, which came via a press release from Texas Governor Rick Perry’s office on Aug. 4, is contingent upon final approval of local agreements and receipt of additional required permits, but those issues aside south Texas can now look forward to watching Falcons fly to space from their shores, bringing 300 new long-term jobs to the area with them.
Continue reading SpaceX to Build World’s First Commercial Space Launch Complex in South Texas
The AsiaSat-8 payload undergoes Compact Antenna Test Range (CATR) testing earlier this year. Photo Credit: AsiaSat
Close to a quarter-century of powerful geostationary communications capability for southern and southeastern Asia, together with China, India, and parts of the Middle East, is set to continue with the planned launch of SpaceX’s sixth Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket and the AsiaSat-8 payload on Tuesday, 5 August. Built by Space Systems/Loral (SS/L), the cube-shaped satellite is based upon the LS-1300LL spacecraft “bus” and, with a payload power of 8,500 watts, will represent the most powerful AsiaSat ever placed into orbit. Launch is presently scheduled to occur from Space Launch Complex (SLC)-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., at 1:25 a.m. EDT (1:25 p.m. Hong Kong Time) on Tuesday, 5 August, at the opening of a two-hour “window.”
Continue reading SpaceX Prepares to Score Two ‘Personal Bests’ With AsiaSat-8 Launch
Haunting view of Jim Irwin with the lunar rover, backdropped by the grandeur of Mount Hadley. Photo Credit: NASA
As July burned into August 1971, three sons of Planet Earth were midway through their exploration of the Moon. Aboard the command and service module Endeavour, astronaut Al Worden operated a sophisticated array of scientific equipment from orbit, whilst his Apollo 15 crewmates Dave Scott and Jim Irwin were on the surface at a place called Hadley—a mountainous region, 400 miles (640 km) north of the lunar equator, characterized by spectacular peaks, football-field-sized craters, and a 25-mile-long (40-km) gorge, known as Hadley Rille. The discoveries made by Apollo 15 revealed more about the history and evolution of the lunar highlands than ever before … and their effects continue to resonate to this day.
Continue reading ‘Mr. Galileo Was Correct’: The Grand Voyage of Apollo 15 (Part 2)
From the European Space Agency (ESA): “The nucleus of Rosetta’s target comet seen from a distance of 1950 km on 29 July 2014. One pixel corresponds to about 37 m in this narrow-angle camera view. The bright neck between the two lobes of the nucleus is becoming more and more distinct.” Image Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA
Carl Sagan has been credited with the quote, “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” One of the Solar System’s intrepid voyagers is nearly at the end of its decade-long quest, and it has already uncovered some incredible things about its intended target.
In a matter of days, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Rosetta spacecraft will approach comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. Having made a series of burns throughout July, according to the ESA, Rosetta will make two short orbital insertion burns today and Wednesday, Aug. 6, when the spacecraft is expected to approach the comet at a distance of approximately 100 kilometers (62 miles). In addition, imaging and temperature data have unlocked some of the comet’s secrets.
Continue reading Finishing the Marathon: Rosetta Approaches Target Comet, Set for August 6 Orbital Insertion
The “unreal” clarity of the lunar landscape, caused by the near-total absence of atmospheric haze or particulates, was problematic for the Apollo 15 crew when judging distance at Hadley. Photo Credit: NASA
Four hundred miles (640 km) to the north of the Moon’s equator lies a place called Hadley: a small patch of Mare Imbrium at the base of the Apennine Mountains, some of which rise to 4,000 feet (1,200 meters), and a 25-mile (40 km) meandering gorge, known as Hadley Rille. In July 1971, Apollo 15 astronauts Dave Scott and Jim Irwin expertly negotiated these forbidding landmarks in the lunar module Falcon and set down in one of the most visually spectacular regions ever visited by mankind. They brought back a scientific yield which revealed more about the Moon’s origin and evolution than ever before. Forty-three years ago, this week, in July-August 1971, Apollo 15 conducted one of the most brilliant missions ever undertaken in the annals of space science.
Continue reading ‘Man Must Explore’: The Grand Voyage of Apollo 15 (Part 1)
Stunning perspective of the Atlas V launch, carrying the Global Positioning System (GPS) IIF-7 satellite into orbit. Photo Credit: John Studwell/AmericaSpace
In stark contrast to the primarily weather-related delays which plagued its predecessor, the Air Force Space Command (AFSPC)-4 mission, United Launch Alliance (ULA) scored an impressive, on-time liftoff of its ninth flight of 2014 at 11:23:01 p.m. EDT Friday, 1 August. Under clear skies, and enjoying 100 percent acceptable weather, the Centennial, Colo.-based launch services company sent its venerable Atlas V roaring into orbit from Space Launch Complex (SLC)-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The successful mission delivered the seventh Global Positioning System (GPS) Block IIF satellite into a medium orbit, about 11,047 nautical miles (20,460 km) above Earth.
Continue reading Atlas V Successfully Launches Third GPS Satellite of 2014
NASA manager Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, outlines science instrument suite selected for NASA’s next generation 2020 Mars rover at media briefing held at NASA Headquarters on July 31, 2014. Credit: NASA
The advanced science payload package that will launch on NASA’s next car-sized rover to the Red Planet in 2020 on a ground breaking mission, seeking signs of past life while also testing key technology to prepare for future human explorers, was announced by NASA managers today, Thursday, July 31, in a media briefing at the space agency’s headquarters in Washington.
Continue reading Mars 2020 Rover Instrument Suite Chosen by NASA to Search for Past Life and Prepare for Human Explorers