New Exhibitors Announced for Space Tech Expo USA

Space Tech Expo – www.spacetechexpo.com

 – Republished in partnership with Space Tech Expo:

Space Tech Expo and Conference returns to Pasadena in May as America’s meeting place for space engineering and technology. The B2B industry event brings together thought leaders, decision-makers and buyers to meet the manufacturing supply chain for commercial, civil and military space and aerospace.

The floor plan for Space Tech Expo USA is filling up fast. In the last month, the show has welcomed NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC), Motiv Space Systems, Inc., Fraunhofer SPACE, DM3D Technology LLC, Taber Industries, AFRL, Zodiac Data Systems, SMC/GP, Alliance Space Systems, DEWESoft, Vibration Research, API Delevan, Innoflight, GoEngineer, Ascent Aerospace, General Dynamics, Thermal Management Technologies, Radiall, API Delevan, Leybold USA, SCHURTER inc, Gooch & Housego and more!

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'More Confidence Than Ever': Remembering the Trailblazing Mission of Apollo 9 (Part 2)

Apollo 9 marked the first “all-up” flight of the entire Apollo spacecraft, as well as the first mission to feature Extravehicular Activity (EVA). Photo Credit: NASA

Early on 5 March 1969, two men floated through a tunnel from their command ship into a spider-shaped vehicle whose descendants would soon carry astronauts to the surface of the Moon. Apollo 9 was not destined to go to the Moon, or even depart Earth orbit, and yet, as noted in yesterday’s history article, its criticality to the goal of planting American bootprints in the lunar dust before the end of the 1960s cannot be underestimated. During their 10 days circling Earth, the crew of Jim McDivitt, Dave Scott and Rusty Schweickart would prove for the first time that Apollo—as a complete spacecraft, with its Command and Service Module (CSM) and Lunar Module (LM)—was capable of performing as advertised. However, no sooner had they begun work, the first problem reared its head.

Continue reading ‘More Confidence Than Ever’: Remembering the Trailblazing Mission of Apollo 9 (Part 2)

'Certainly Not Supposed to Happen': Remembering the Trailblazing Mission of Apollo 9 (Part 1)

On the “D” mission, which later became Apollo 9, astronauts Jim McDivitt, Dave Scott and Rusty Schweickart would put the Lunar Module (LM) through its paces for the first time on a piloted space mission. Photo Credit: NASA

The year 1969 was pivotal in so many ways for humanity. At its dawn, American astronauts had newly returned from circling the Moon, and by July it had produced our first piloted landfall on another world. These astonishing achievements continue to resonate today—particularly following 2012’s untimely loss of Neil Armstrong—but there is one mission, flown in March 1969, which is a decidedly unsung hero of the effort to plant bootprints on the lunar surface. It rose only to low-Earth orbit, but without it those historic steps at the Sea of Tranquility could not have been taken. The mission was Apollo 9 and would be forever remembered as a mission of gumdrops and spiders, sickness and golden slippers…and the flight of “The Red Rover”.

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SpaceX's Private Lunar Mission in Work for Last Two Years; Other Opportunities on Horizon

NASA astronauts Doug Hurley, center, and Sunita “Suni” Williams sit inside a Crew Dragon mockup during an evaluation visit for the Crew Dragon spacecraft at SpaceX’s Hawthorne, Calif., headquarters. Photo Credit: SpaceX

When SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk revealed Monday an audacious plan to deliver a pair of private citizens “on a trip around the Moon” in the fall of 2018, the impact was immense and immediate. Coming only days after NASA announced the onset of a study to potentially add a crew to its long-awaited Exploration Mission (EM)-1, the unfolding first quarter of 2017 seems stamped with a renewed vigor on both private and governmental levels to once again venture beyond low-Earth orbit with humans. If SpaceX meets its self-imposed target of a flight late next year, it will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 8 mission, which saw NASA astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders circumnavigate the Moon way back in December 1968.

However, in recent comments provided to AmericaSpace, SpaceX revealed that its plans for the lunar voyage have been under consideration for at least the past two years. More intriguingly, “additional requests” for other private flights were also made, with Monday’s announced mission “and at least one more” having emerged relatively recently. It remains to be seen what the nature of these potential missions will be and SpaceX are presently keeping tight-lipped about whether they will voyage to low-Earth orbit or beyond.

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Vandenberg Atlas-V Lofts NRO-79 Ocean Surveillance Satellites

ULA kicked off a busy month of flights today with launch of the NRO 79 mission with two top secret Intruder ocean surveillance satellites on board an Atlas-V 401 rocket. Photo Credit: Robert Fisher / AmericaSpace

United Launch Alliance (ULA) kicked off a busy month of flights today with the apparent successful launch from Vandenberg AFB, Calif. of the National Reconnaissance Office NRO 79 mission with two top secret Intruder ocean surveillance satellites on board an Atlas-V 401 rocket.

Liftoff into clear skies from Vandenberg’s SLC-3 East came at 9:49:51 a.m PST (12:49:51 p.m. EST), in the midst of a 1 hour launch period that ran from 9:30 – 10:30 a.m. PST.

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Atlas-V NRO-79 Intruder Mission Readied For Wednesday Launch To Track Ships

The mission patch for the NRO 79 satellites has a woman warrior with an owl-eye “modification” and a Medusa shield to carry out “Victory With Intelligence” in Latin on the shield. Credit: NRO

The U.S. Air Force’s 30th Space Wing at Vandenberg AFB Calif., along with United Launch Alliance (ULA) and the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), are poised for the planned March 1 launch of the NRO-79 mission carrying the Intruder 8 Ocean Surveillance satellite payload on board an Atlas-V 401 rocket.

The launch period for the secret payload runs for 60 minutes between 9:30-10:30 a.m. PST, (12:30-1:30 p.m. EST), with liftoff of the 191 ft. tall rocket (with no solids) occurring sometime within that period from Vandenberg’s Space Launch Complex-3 East. 

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'Masterful Performances': 15 Years Since Columbia's Last Fully Successful Mission (Part 2)

Columbia roars into the pre-dawn darkness on 1 March 2002, beginning her final wholly-successful mission. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Rising into the pre-dawn darkness on 1 March 2002—15 years ago, next week—Space Shuttle Columbia’s 27th mission into low-Earth orbit would achieve, literally, the greatest heights of her storied career. In more than two decades of operational service, she had flown the shortest and longest shuttle missions and had become the first crewed orbital vehicle to be commanded by male and female pilots. But in March 2002, on her last wholly-successful mission before her untimely loss, Columbia would travel to an altitude of 360 miles (580 km) to repair and service NASA’s iconic Hubble Space Telescope (HST) for the fourth time. Operating in a low-Earth orbital domain more than 100 miles (160 km) higher than Columbia’s previous missions, Hubble would see the queen of the Space Shuttle fleet reach the highest altitude in her career.

Continue reading ‘Masterful Performances’: 15 Years Since Columbia’s Last Fully Successful Mission (Part 2)

'That Your Number Hadn't Come Up': 15 Years Since Columbia's Last Fully Successful Mission (Part 1)

The Hubble Space Telescope appears to “fly” over Earth as it is photographed during STS-109. Photo Credit: NASA

Fifteen years ago, next week, Columbia roared into orbit on her final wholly-successful mission, STS-109. It was the 27th flight of a vehicle which had ushered in the dawn of the Space Shuttle era, back in April 1981, and gone on to secure a raft of other accomplishments: becoming the first piloted spacecraft to return to low-Earth orbit, the first to deploy satellites, the first to carry the European Spacelab research facility and the first to be commanded by a woman. Throughout her career, Columbia had flown both the shortest and the longest shuttle missions and even today, more than a decade after her untimely demise, she is the third-most-flown member of the fleet, having spent over 300 days in space and carried into orbit 126 men and women from the United States, Germany, Canada, Japan, Switzerland, Italy, France and Israel.

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NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope Discovers Seven Earth-Sized Worlds Orbiting Nearby Star

Artist’s conception of standing on the surface of exoplanet TRAPPIST-1f. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The search for exoplanets – planets orbiting other stars – has been one of the most exciting developments in astronomy and space science in recent years. The first couple exoplanets were found in 1992, and now over 3,400 have been confirmed, with over 5,000 additional candidates. Some of these are smaller rocky worlds similar in size to Earth, bringing scientists close to finding “Earth 2.0” – another planet with water and, perhaps, life. Today, NASA announced another key discovery, bringing us even closer to finding another living world – a star with not just one or two Earth-sized planets orbiting it, but seven. Three of those planets are in the star’s habitable zone, where, depending upon other surface conditions, lakes or oceans of liquid water could exist.

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Juno Spacecraft to Remain in Same Orbit, But Science Observations of Jupiter Continue

Spectacular view of Jupiter’s south pole from Juno, taken on Feb. 2, 2017 at 6:06 a.m. PT (9:06 a.m. ET), from an altitude of about 62,800 miles (101,000 kilometers) above the cloud tops (enhanced color version). Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/John Landino

NASA’s Juno spacecraft has been orbiting the gas giant planet Jupiter since July 4, 2016, and has already greatly increased scientists’ understanding of this fascinating world, the “King of Planets.” For the past while now, Juno has been in an elongated 56-day orbit, which brings the spacecraft close in over the cloud tops before swinging out farther away from the planet again. The plan had been for Juno to then switch to a closer, 14-day orbit, but due to growing concerns over another engine burn possibly resulting in a less-than-desirable new orbit, that plan has now been scrapped. Juno will now remain in its current orbit for the remainder of the mission.

Continue reading Juno Spacecraft to Remain in Same Orbit, But Science Observations of Jupiter Continue