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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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Atlas V to Launch Military Weather Satellite From Vandenberg Air Force Base Thursday

 

An Atlas V 401 was also employed to launch the last DMSP mission, Block 5D3 Flight 18, in October 2009. Photo Credit: ULA

An Atlas V 401 was also employed to launch the last DMSP mission, Block 5D3 Flight 18, in October 2009. Photo Credit: ULA

With its NROL-67 mission currently grounded at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, due to ongoing problems in the aftermath of a radar tracking system fire, United Launch Alliance (ULA) is continuing its preparations for another Atlas V mission from the West Coast. The company will launch the 19th Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) spacecraft, atop an Atlas V 401 vehicle, from Space Launch Complex (SLC)-3E at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., within a 10-minute “window” which opens at 7:46 a.m. PDT Thursday, 3 April. When operational in a Sun-synchronous, near-polar orbit of about 450 nautical miles (830 km), the so-called “DMSP Block 5D3 Flight 19″ will join a network of satellites whose heritage extends back over five decades to provide strategic and tactical weather prediction in order to aid the U.S. military in planning operations at sea, on land, and in the air.

Continue reading Atlas V to Launch Military Weather Satellite From Vandenberg Air Force Base Thursday

Orion Coming Together for EFT-1 Test Flight in December 2014

Launch Abort System (LAS) for  Orion EFT-1   on view inside the Launch Abort System Facility at KSC. Credit: Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

Launch Abort System (LAS) for Orion EFT-1 test flight on view inside the Launch Abort System Facility at KSC. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, FL — Piece by piece, fabrication of all the major hardware elements for NASA’s inaugural unmanned Orion test flight, dubbed EFT-1, are coming together at Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center.

Orion is a state-of-the-art spacecraft and NASA’s next step in manned deep space exploration aimed at sending American astronauts back to the Moon and then beyond on voyages to Asteroids and Mars over the coming decades, if funding continues.

Continue reading Orion Coming Together for EFT-1 Test Flight in December 2014

NASA Awards Orbital Sciences Launch Services Contract for Hurricane-Forecasting CYGNSS Mission

The CYGNSS mission is comprised of 8 Low Earth Orbiting (LEO) spacecraft (S/C) that receive both direct (white lines) and reflected (blue  lines) signals from GPS satellites. The direct signals pinpoint LEO S/C positions, while the reflected signals respond to ocean surface  roughness, from which wind speed is retrieved. GPS bi-static scatterometry measures ocean surface winds at all speeds and under all levels  of precipitation, including TC conditions. In the right figure, instantaneous wind samples are indicated by individual blue circles. Five minutes  of wind samples are shown. Image and Caption Credit: University of Michigan Dept. of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences

The CYGNSS mission is comprised of eight Low-Earth Orbiting (LEO) spacecraft (S/C) that receive both direct (white lines) and reflected (blue lines) signals from GPS satellites. The direct signals pinpoint LEO S/C positions, while the reflected signals respond to ocean surface roughness, from which wind speed is retrieved. GPS bi-static scatterometry measures ocean surface winds at all speeds and under all levels of precipitation, including TC conditions. In the right figure, instantaneous wind samples are indicated by individual blue circles. Five minutes of wind samples are shown. Image and Caption Credit: University of Michigan Dept. of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences

Orbital Sciences Corp., of Dulles, Va., has been awarded a $55 million launch services contract with NASA to launch the space agency’s Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System mission, or CYGNSS, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in October 2016. The mission, led by the University of Michigan, will launch on one of Orbital’s Pegasus XL rockets, which will be fired from a Stargazer L-1011 aircraft.

Continue reading NASA Awards Orbital Sciences Launch Services Contract for Hurricane-Forecasting CYGNSS Mission

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope Spots Mars-Bound Comet Sprout Multiple Jets

The images above show -- before and after filtering -- comet C/2013 A1, also known as Siding Spring, as captured by Wide Field Camera 3 on NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and J.-Y. Li (Planetary Science Institute)

The images above show — before and after filtering — comet C/2013 A1, also known as Siding Spring, as captured by Wide Field Camera 3 on NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.
Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and J.-Y. Li (Planetary Science Institute)

NASA released Thursday an image of a comet that, on Oct. 19, will pass within 84,000 miles of Mars — less than half the distance between Earth and our moon.

Continue reading NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope Spots Mars-Bound Comet Sprout Multiple Jets

NASA Marks Major Programmatic Milestone for Spaceport of the Future

YouTube Preview ImageNASA achieved a major milestone this month in its effort to transform the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida into a multi-user spaceport by successfully completing the initial design and technology development phase for the Ground Systems Development and Operations (GSDO) Program.

Continue reading NASA Marks Major Programmatic Milestone for Spaceport of the Future

Navy Blue Angels and Other Aviators to Headline Florida's Annual Sun N' Fun This Week

One of the biggest aviation events in the world kicks off this week in central Florida, headlined by air show demonstrations by performers such as Rob Holland, the GEICO Skytypers, the USAF F-22 Raptor demo team and the US Navy Blue Angels. Photos Credit: AmericaSpace / Mike Killian

One of the biggest aviation events in the world kicks off this week in central Florida, headlined by air show demonstrations by performers such as Rob Holland, the GEICO Skytypers, the USAF F-22 Raptor demo team, and the U.S. Navy Blue Angels. Photos Credit: AmericaSpace / Mike Killian

Central Florida is known for space, whether it’s launching rockets with spacecraft on missions to enhance national security, support operations on the International Space Station, or explore worlds such as Mars. This week, however, the attention turns to one of the biggest, and most popular, aviation events in the world, one which promises to wow onlookers old and young alike. The 40th annual Sun N’ Fun International Fly-In and Expo, which takes place in Lakeland, Fla. (between Orlando and Tampa), will host a variety of air show performers and aviation-enthusiasts from across the country and will be headlined next weekend with the return of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels in their first Florida air show appearance since federal budget cuts (sequestration) grounded the team in 2013.

Continue reading Navy Blue Angels and Other Aviators to Headline Florida’s Annual Sun N’ Fun This Week

'I Wouldn’t Call it Fear': The Shuttle Launch Pad Aborts (Part 2)

The closest the Shuttle ever came to a launch at the time of abort was T-1.9 seconds on 18 August 1994. So close was the Shuttle to launch, the on-board General Purpose Computers had already moded to their 102 ascent software configuration at the time of the abort. Photo Credit: NASA

The closest the shuttle ever came to a launch at the time of abort was T-1.9 seconds, on 18 August 1994. So close was the shuttle to launch, the on-board General Purpose Computers had already moded to their 102 ascent software configuration at the time of the abort. Photo Credit: NASA

In the pre-dawn gloom of 18 August 1994, Space Shuttle Endeavour sat on her seaside launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center, Fla., bathed in million-candlepower xenon floodlights, as the final seconds of the countdown to her voyage into orbit evaporated. Although STS-68 would be her seventh flight, it was in many ways a repeat of her sixth, for the orbiter carried the massive Space Radar Laboratory for observations of the Home Planet. Barely four months earlier, on STS-59, Endeavour had flown SRL-1, and on STS-68 she would monitor changes between late spring and late summer. For astronaut Tom Jones, who flew both, the second flight offered him the chance to seize a new record for the shortest span—just 120 days—between a pair of missions. Alas, for Jones, today would bring him cruel fortune … and for his crewmate, Dan Bursch, it would be crueler still.

Continue reading ‘I Wouldn’t Call it Fear’: The Shuttle Launch Pad Aborts (Part 2)

Martian Winds Give Opportunity Rover Big Power Boost Atop Red Planet Mountain Science Goldmine

NASA’s Opportunity rover was imaged here from Mars orbit by the MRO HiRISE camera on Feb. 14, 2014. This mosaic shows Opportunity’s view while looking back to vast Endeavour crater from atop Murray Ridge by summit of Solander Point. Opportunity captured this photomosaic view on Feb. 16, 2014 (Sol 3579) from the western rim of Endeavour Crater where she is investigating outcrops of potential clay minerals formed in liquid water. Assembled from Sol 3579 colorized navcam raw images. Credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell/Marco Di Lorenzo/Ken Kremer-kenkremer.com

NASA’s Opportunity rover was imaged here from Mars orbit by the MRO HiRISE camera on Feb. 14, 2014. This mosaic shows Opportunity’s view while looking back to vast Endeavour crater from atop Murray Ridge by summit of Solander Point. Opportunity captured this photomosaic view on Feb. 16, 2014, (Sol 3579) from the western rim of Endeavour Crater, where she is investigating outcrops of potential clay minerals formed in liquid water. Assembled from Sol 3579 colorized navcam raw images. Credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell/Marco Di Lorenzo/Ken Kremer-kenkremer.com

A series of Martian wind events over the past few months has given NASA’s long-lived Opportunity rover a big power boost during its current explorations atop a Red Planet mountain that’s a scientific goldmine.

Altogether, Opportunity has received about a 70-percent boost in power since early January, due to a combination of multiple wind-cleaning events and the advent of spring and more daily hours of sunshine in Mars’ southern hemisphere.

Continue reading Martian Winds Give Opportunity Rover Big Power Boost Atop Red Planet Mountain Science Goldmine

New Dwarf Planet Candidate Discovered at Solar System's Edge: Could a Hidden Planet Be Orbiting Farther Out?

The discovery images of 2012 VP113. Three images of the night sky, each taken about 2 hours apart, were combined into one. The first image was artificially colored red, second green and third blue.  2012 VP113 moved between each image as seen by the red, green and blue dots.  The background stars and galaxies did not move and thus their red, green and blue images combine to show up as white sources. Image Credit/Caption: Scott Sheppard/Carnegie Institution for Science

The discovery images of 2012 VP113. Three images of the night sky, each taken about two hours apart, were combined into one. The first image was artificially colored red, the second green, and the third blue. 2012 VP113 moved between each image as seen by the red, green, and blue dots. The background stars and galaxies did not move and thus their red, green, and blue images combine to show up as white sources. Image Credit/Caption: Scott Sheppard/Carnegie Institution for Science

A team of astronomers has announced the discovery of a new dwarf planet candidate called 2012 VP113 at the outermost edges of the Solar System, possibly confirming the existence of the Oort Cloud, the hypothetical vast reservoir of trillions of icy minor planetary bodies where comets are thought to originate. More interestingly, this discovery leaves the door open for the possibility of a bigger, more massive planet orbiting beyond the known reaches of the Solar System.

Continue reading New Dwarf Planet Candidate Discovered at Solar System’s Edge: Could a Hidden Planet Be Orbiting Farther Out?

'Quiet as a Crypt': The Shuttle Launch Pad Aborts (Part 1)

Close-up view of Discovery's three main engines - still exhibiting evidence of scorching from their momentary ignition on 26 June 1984 - in the wake of the Shuttle program's first RSLS abort. Photo Credit: NASA

Close-up view of Discovery’s three main enginesstill exhibiting evidence of scorching from their momentary ignition on 26 June 1984in the wake of the shuttle program’s first RSLS abort. Photo Credit: NASA

Throughout its 30-year careerconsciously or unconsciouslythe space shuttle was acknowledged to be one of the most dangerous piloted space vehicles ever brought to operational status. Although its first four teams of astronauts had ejection seats, their usefulness and survivability were questioned from the outset, and from STS-5 and the increase in crew size their inclusion became so impractical that they were done away with. Little escape capability of substance was available until after the separation of the Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs), two minutes into flight, and NASA engineers worried constantly about the dangers of a failure of the shuttle’s three main engines. On five occasions, between June 1984 and August 1994, a handful of shuttle crews heard over the intercom a four-letter acronym that shook them to the very core: RSLS, denoting a Redundant Set Launch Sequence, indicative of a harrowing engine shutdown on the pad, right before launch.

Continue reading ‘Quiet as a Crypt’: The Shuttle Launch Pad Aborts (Part 1)