Joe Allen (right, with red stripes on the legs of his suit) and Dale Gardner celebrate their success with a “For Sale” sign, displayed high above Westar and Earth. The triumphant Mission 51A would cement the shuttle’s credentials as infallible … but it was an infallibility which would usher in a mistaken sense of complacency. The shuttle, though capable of performing to near-perfection, was an imperfect machine. Photo Credit: NASA
Dale Gardner, a member of NASA’s first group of shuttle astronauts and one of only six men to fly the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU) jet-propelled backpack on a spacewalk, died Wednesday, 19 February, reportedly following a sudden brain aneurysm. He was 65. Gardner flew aboard STS-8 in August-September 1983, which featured the shuttle program’s first nocturnal launch and landing, and aboard STS-51A in November 1984, which dramatically retrieved the errant Palapa-B2 and Westar-6 communications satellites and returned them to Earth for refurbishment and resale.
Continue reading Dale Gardner, MMU Spacewalker, Dies Aged 65
This is the first map of radioactivity in a supernova remnant, the blown-out bits and pieces of a massive star that exploded. The blue color shows radioactive material mapped in high-energy X-rays using NuSTAR. Heated, non-radioactive elements previously imaged by Chandra using low-energy X-rays are shown in red, yellow, and green. Image Credit/Caption: NASA/JPL-Caltech/CXC/SAO
New and exciting observations from NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, hint at a possible solution to one of the most intriguing mysteries of modern astrophysics: What is the exact mechanism that drives supernova explosions?
Continue reading NuSTAR Sheds New Light on Supernova Explosions
MIRI, the mid-infrared camera and spectrograph (left), was installed in the science payload module of the James Webb Space Telescope (right) on 29 April 2013 at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Photo Credit: NASA Goddard/Chris Gunn
It was not too long ago that the last set of gold-coated Beryllium-made mirrors (18 in all) were delivered to NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center for installation onto the agency’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), and—although the mirrors are not installed onto the body of the telescope yet—work to install Webb’s four fragile science instruments began some time ago. Today, NASA released a time-lapse video of the installation of the telescope’s most sophisticated and technically challenging instrument: the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI).
Continue reading VIDEO: Mid-Infrared Instrument Installed for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope
Pictured during the joint U.S.-Soviet Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP) mission in July 1975, Valeri Kubasov enjoyed a career highlighted by three space missions. Photo Credit: NASA
Veteran cosmonaut Valeri Kubasov, who flew three space missions and participated as a crew member in the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP) joint venture in July 1975, died yesterday (Wednesday, 19 February). He was 79. A member of the Soviet and later Russian space program for almost three decades, Kubasov accrued nearly 19 days in space and was one of the first civilian cosmonauts ever to command a space mission. “Very sad to report that Valeri Kubasov has passed away in Moscow,” the Association of Space Explorers (ASE) announced, describing him as “a true pioneer of spaceflight and international co-operation in space.” He leaves behind a wife and a son and daughter.
Continue reading Valeri Kubasov, Veteran ASTP Cosmonaut, Dies Aged 79
Astronauts Jerry Ross and Dr. Shannon Lucid will be inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame on May 3. Image Credit: The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation website
A Shuttle-Mir veteran and a spacewalking virtuoso will join the ranks of other spaceflight legends on the afternoon of Saturday, May 3, at the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex (KSCVC). Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF) chairman, former shuttle astronaut Dan Brandenstein, made the announcement Friday, Feb. 7, at KSCVC’s Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit that astronauts Dr. Shannon Lucid and retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Jerry Ross will be inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. This induction will showcase the career highlights of Lucid and Ross, both prominent figures in the shuttle, Mir, and International Space Station programs.
Continue reading Astronauts Shannon Lucid and Jerry Ross to Be Honored With Hall of Fame Induction
A Delta IV Medium+ 4,2 vehicle—with a 13-foot (four-meter) payload fairing and two Graphite Epoxy Motors (GEM)-60s—roars toward orbit with GPS IIF-3 in October 2012. Photo Credit: Mike Killian / Zero-G News
Four months later than planned, United Launch Alliance (ULA) is ready to fly its venerable Delta IV for the 25th time on Thursday, 20 February, with the scheduled 8:40 p.m. EST liftoff of a key mission to insert the Global Positioning System (GPS) IIF-5 satellite into a medium orbit, some 11,047 nautical miles (20,460 km) above Earth. Originally targeted for mid-October 2013, the flight from Space Launch Complex (SLC)-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., has met with significant delay, due to corrective work undertaken in the aftermath of a problematic Delta IV ascent in October 2012. Tomorrow’s Delta IV mission will fly in its Medium+ 4,2 configuration, numerically designated to identify a 13-foot-diameter (four-meter) payload fairing and the presence of two solid-fueled Graphite Epoxy Motors (GEM)-60.
Continue reading After Four-Month Delay, 25th Delta IV Primed for Thursday Launch of GPS IIF-5 Satellite
An extraordinary jet trailing behind a runaway pulsar is seen in this composite image that contains data from Chandra (purple), radio data from the ACTA (green), and optical data from the 2MASS survey (red, green, and blue). The pulsar—a spinning neutron star—and its tail are found in the lower right of this image. The tail stretches for 37 light-years, making it the longest jet ever seen from an object in the Milky Way galaxy. Image/Caption Credit: NASA/CXC/ISDC
NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory, the world’s most powerful X-ray telescope, recently observed an impressive, rapidly rotating neutron star—known as a pulsar—escaping from a supernova remnant roughly 15,000 light-years from Earth. The pulsar is spewing out a record-breaking 37 light-years-long jet of high-energy charged particles, making it the longest X-ray jet of any object ever seen in the Milky Way galaxy, and one of the fastest moving pulsars ever observed.
Continue reading Chandra Telescope Observes Impressive Pulsar Racing Away From Ancient Supernova
Orbital Sciences’ ORB-1 Cygnus mission enters its final stages, following release by the International Space Station’s Canadarm2 on Tuesday, 18 February. Photo Credit: NASA
Orbital Sciences Corp. has entered the final stages of its ORB-1 mission—the first of eight dedicated Cygnus cargo delivery flights to the International Space Station (ISS)—following the successful unberthing and release of the spacecraft early Tuesday, 18 February. Based inside the multi-windowed cupola, Expedition 38 crewmen Mike Hopkins of NASA and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) used the station’s 57.7-foot-long (17.6-meter) Canadarm2 robotic arm to remove Cygnus from the Earth-facing (or “nadir”) port of the Harmony node at 5:15 a.m. EST. As Wakata monitored data and maintained contact with Mission Control in Houston, Texas, Hopkins released the cargo ship into free flight at 6:41 a.m. EST. It will now be maneuvered into a “disposal corridor,” ahead of a seven-minute de-orbit burn and destructive re-entry Wednesday morning.
Continue reading Farewell, Cygnus: ORB-1 Departs Space Station After Month-Long Cargo Delivery Mission
One of the first images taken by the Gaia space telescope during the commissioning phase of its mission, showing the star α Aquarii, also known as Sadalmelik, in the constellation of Aquarius. Image Credit: ESA/Airbus DS
Originally perceived by astronomers as a space mission that was unlikely to ever happen, the European Space Agency’s Gaia space observatory is currently midway through the commissioning and calibration phase of its mission, preparing for the start of science observations which are scheduled to begin later this year.
Continue reading ESA’s ‘Mission: Impossible’ Sees First Light: Gaia Opens Her Eyes to the Galaxy
This before-and-after pair of images of the same patch of ground in front of NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity 13 days apart documents the arrival of a bright rock onto the scene. The rover had completed a short drive just before taking the second image, and one of its wheels likely knocked the rock—dubbed “Pinnacle Island”—to this position. The rock is about the size of a doughnut. Photo Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.
For several weeks now conspiracy theorists have been having fun spreading rumors that an object on Mars that “mysteriously” moved is not natural. One Rhawn Joseph even went so far as to file a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California against NASA, citing the sudden appearance of the rock in a place where it wasn’t before as “proof” of life, and he accused NASA of being unwilling to investigate such an incredible discovery further.
Continue reading Mars Jelly Doughnut Mystery Solved, and It’s Not an Alien or a Doughnut