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

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Astronaut Scholarship Foundation's AAMS Weekend Brings Together Past, Future of Spaceflight

Gemini and Apollo astronaut Capt. Eugene A. Cernan lends his signature to memorabilia during this weekend's Astronaut Autograph and Memorabilia Show, an annual Astronaut Scholarship Event. The event was well-attended and benefits STEM scholars nationwide. Photo Credit: Mark Usciak (permission from the photographer)

Gemini and Apollo astronaut Capt. Eugene A. Cernan lends his signature to memorabilia during this weekend’s Astronaut Autograph and Memorabilia Show, an annual Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF) event. The event was well-attended, and its funds benefit STEM scholars nationwide. Photo Credit: Mark Usciak

“There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in.” – Graham Greene

The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation’s (ASF) Astronaut Autograph and Memorabilia Show (AAMS) weekend, which took place from Saturday, Nov. 8, to Sunday, Nov. 9, brought together not just space buffs and astronauts, but also showcased the scholars at the heart of the program who will bring spaceflight into the future and beyond: to Earth’s orbit, Mars, and deep space.

Continue reading Astronaut Scholarship Foundation’s AAMS Weekend Brings Together Past, Future of Spaceflight

45 Years Since Apollo 12: The $500 Bet and the Lightning Strike (Part 1)

Al Bean begins his descent from the hatch of the lunar module Intrepid, towards the surface at the Ocean of Storms. Photo Credit: NASA

Al Bean begins his descent from the hatch of the lunar module Intrepid toward the surface at the Ocean of Storms. Photo Credit: NASA

One thing that irritated Charles “Pete” Conrad was the public belief that astronauts were told to say certain things during their missions. He knew that when Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the Moon in July 1969, the immortal words he spoke—”That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”—had been his own. However, there remained many naysayers who doubted that a test pilot could have dreamed such appropriately poetic words. One afternoon, Conrad and his first wife, Jane, entertained a fearsome Italian journalist named Oriana Fallaci at their Houston home. Fallaci was convinced that NASA brass had told Armstrong to say what he did … and Fallaci was not the kind of personality to be argued with. Until she met Pete Conrad, that is.

Continue reading 45 Years Since Apollo 12: The $500 Bet and the Lightning Strike (Part 1)

After Soyuz TMA-13M Landing, Expedition 42 Stands Primed for Ambitious Mission

Soyuz TMA-13M crewmen (from left) Alexander Gerst, Max Surayev and Reid Wiseman sit in reclining chairs at the landing site, following their return from 165 days in space. Photo Credit: NASA

Soyuz TMA-13M crewmen (from left) Alexander Gerst, Max Surayev, and Reid Wiseman sit in reclining chairs at the landing site, following their return from 165 days in space. Photo Credit: NASA

More than 165 days, over 2,500 orbits of the Home Planet, and in excess of 70 million miles (112 million km) traveled since launch, the three-man crew of Soyuz TMA-13M is regaining its “Earth-legs” tonight (Monday, 10 November), in three different nations. Within hours of their triumphant landing in Kazakhstan at 9:58 a.m. local time Monday (10:58 p.m. EST Sunday), Russian cosmonaut Max Surayev returned to the Star City training center, on the forested outskirts of Moscow, whilst NASA’s Reid Wiseman headed back to the Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas, and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Alexander Gerst arrived to a rapturous welcome in his homeland, Germany. The International Space Station (ISS) is now well into Expedition 42, under the command of Barry “Butch” Wilmore, which promises to see at least two U.S. EVAs, two SpaceX Dragon cargo missions, the undocking of Europe’s fifth and last Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV-5), the departure and launch of new Russian Progress resupply vessels, and a huge amount of scientific and technological research.

Continue reading After Soyuz TMA-13M Landing, Expedition 42 Stands Primed for Ambitious Mission

Bullseye! Rosetta Orbiter Locks on Audacious Agilkia Comet Landing Site

The Agilkia landing site is seen in this image of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, taken with Rosetta’s navigation camera on 6 November, just days before its lander Philae makes its historic descent to the surface.  Credits: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM, CC BY-SA IGO 3.0

The Agilkia landing site is seen in this image of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, taken with Rosetta’s navigation camera on 6 November, just days before its lander Philae makes its historic descent to the surface. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM, CC BY-SA IGO 3.0

As frenzied anticipation mounts worldwide for history’s audacious first attempt to land on a comet, Europe’s Rosetta orbiter locked on to the bizarre body and captured a bull’s-eye view of the utterly alien “Agilkia” landing site.

Continue reading Bullseye! Rosetta Orbiter Locks on Audacious Agilkia Comet Landing Site

TESS Exoplanet-Hunting Space Telescope Ready for Development

Artist's conception of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). Image Credit: MIT

Artist’s conception of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). Image Credit: MIT

The search for exoplanets is about to enter an exciting new phase, as the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission has now been cleared for development by NASA. TESS will greatly expand the number of stars being observed for evidence of exoplanets orbiting them, as the next step forward from the Kepler space telescope and others which have already found thousands of such worlds outside of our own Solar System.

Continue reading TESS Exoplanet-Hunting Space Telescope Ready for Development

Human Research Studies, Maintenance, and Preparations for Return Home Highlight Busy Week on ISS

European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst gives a wave goodbye as he spends his last in the Cupola onboard ISS. From Gerst, "Thanks to all for flying to space with me, it's been a blast. I am glad we did this together!" Photo Credit: NASA/ESA/@Astro_Alex via Twitter

European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst gives a wave goodbye as he spends his last day in the Cupola onboard ISS. From Gerst, “Thanks to all for flying to space with me, it’s been a blast. I am glad we did this together!” Photo Credit: NASA/ESA/@Astro_Alex via Twitter

SPACE STATION WEEKLY UPDATE Nov. 3 – Nov. 9, 2014 — As astronauts Reid Wiseman, Alexander Gerst, and cosmonaut Max Suraev were preparing for their departure from the International Space Station (ISS) this week, business as usual still carried on. This week’s ISS activity update includes further experimentation on zebrafish muscle apathy, data cable replacement on the DEvice for the study of Critical LIquids and Crystallization – High Temperature Insert-Reflight (DECLIC HTI-R), relocation of the Special Purpose Inexpensive Satellite (SpinSat), and various routine human research studies, according to Vic Cooley, Lead Increment Specialist for Expedition 41/42.

Continue reading Human Research Studies, Maintenance, and Preparations for Return Home Highlight Busy Week on ISS

Expedition 41 Ends, Soyuz TMA-13M Crew to Return to Earth Tonight

 

The Expedition 41 crew gather inside Japan's Kibo laboratory for a group portrait. Front row (from left) are Alexander Gerst, Max Surayev and Reid Wiseman, and back row (from left) are Yelena Serova, Barry "Butch" Wilmore and Aleksandr Samokutyayev. Photo Credit: NASA

The Expedition 41 crew gather inside Japan’s Kibo laboratory for a group portrait. Front row (from left) are Alexander Gerst, Max Surayev, and Reid Wiseman, and back row (from left) are Yelena Serova, Barry “Butch” Wilmore, and Aleksandr Samokutyayev. Photo Credit: NASA

Expedition 42 is formally underway aboard the International Space Station (ISS), following the traditional change-of-command ceremony Saturday, 8 November, between outgoing skipper Max Surayev of Russia and his NASA replacement, Barry “Butch” Wilmore. Surayev and his crewmates Reid Wiseman of NASA and Germany’s Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency (ESA) will board their Soyuz TMA-13M spacecraft later this evening (Sunday, 9 November) and return to Earth, concluding 165 days in orbit. They will leave Wilmore and his crew of Russian cosmonauts Aleksandr Samokutyayev and Yelena Serova—who have been in space since 25 September—as a three-member team for two weeks, ahead of the planned 24 November launch of Soyuz TMA-15M, which will restore the ISS to its nominal, six-person strength.

Continue reading Expedition 41 Ends, Soyuz TMA-13M Crew to Return to Earth Tonight

'Stop the Clock': 30 Years Since the Rescue of Westar and Palapa (Part 2)

Discovery thunders into orbit on 8 November 1984 to begin the first shuttle mission to deploy and retrieve two pairs of spacecraft. Photo Credit: NASA

Discovery thunders into orbit on 8 November 1984 to begin the first shuttle mission to deploy and retrieve two pairs of spacecraft. Photo Credit: NASA

By the summer of 1984, the space shuttle had enjoyed success and disappointment in equal measure. Astronauts had successfully tested a new jet-propelled backpack, the Manned Manoeuvring Unit (MMU), and spacewalkers had retrieved and repaired NASA’s crippled Solar Max satellite. The maiden voyage of the new orbiter Discovery had gone well, but the failure of two Payload Assist Module (PAM)-D boosters to properly insert Western Union’s Westar-6 and the Indonesian government’s Palapa-B2 communications satellites into their proper orbits on Mission 41B had raised an interesting possibility: Could the versatile shuttle and its astronauts be used to effect a salvage operation? For NASA—still “riding on the coat-tails of the successful Apollo missions, successful Skylab, successful Apollo-Soyuz,” according to astronaut Joe Allen—there was a simple answer: yes. And 30 years ago, this week, as described in yesterday’s AmericaSpace history article, one of the most spectacular shuttle missions of all time unfolded high above Earth.

Continue reading ‘Stop the Clock': 30 Years Since the Rescue of Westar and Palapa (Part 2)

Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) to Maintain Critical US Space Weather Alert Capabilities

NOAA/NASA Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) undergoes final processing in NASA Goddard Space Flight Center clean room in November 2014. Solar wind instruments at right. Credit: Ken Kremer - kenkremer.com

NOAA/NASA Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) undergoes final processing in NASA Goddard Space Flight Center clean room in November 2014. Solar wind instruments at right. DSCOVR will launch in January 2015 atop SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Credit: Ken Kremer – kenkremer.com

NASA GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER, MD — The Deep Space Climate Observatory, or DSCOVR, launching in January 2015, will provide critically unique observations aimed at maintaining at risk U.S. capabilities for broadcasting real-time solar wind alerts valuable in protecting a wide range of crucial U.S. infrastructure from disruption by approaching solar storms.

Continue reading Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) to Maintain Critical US Space Weather Alert Capabilities

EFT-1 Orion Assembly and Testing Complete, Roll Out to Launch Complex-37 GO for Monday Night

NASA's Orion spacecraft is seen here, complete, inside the Launch Abort System Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Fla. on Oct. 30, 2014. The spacecraft is scheduled to roll out to nearby Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to meet its rocket for a scheduled Dec. 4 launch on Exploration Flight Test 1 (EFT-1). Photo Credit: Lockheed Martin

NASA’s Orion spacecraft is seen here, complete, inside the Launch Abort System Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Fla., on Oct. 30, 2014. The spacecraft is scheduled to roll out to nearby Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to meet its rocket for a scheduled Dec. 4 launch on Exploration Flight Test 1 (EFT-1). Photo Credit: Lockheed Martin

In less than a month, after years of work from thousands of people spread across the country, NASA’s Orion deep space crew capsule will make its way to space atop America’s largest and most powerful rocket, the United Launch Alliance Delta-IV Heavy, and now that the spacecraft is complete all systems are GO to roll Orion out from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Abort System Facility to nearby Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to meet its rocket for a scheduled Dec. 4 sunrise launch.

Continue reading EFT-1 Orion Assembly and Testing Complete, Roll Out to Launch Complex-37 GO for Monday Night