Florida Spaceports Recovering from Irma, No Launches Until Oct

Launch Complex 39 surrounding areas are seen during an aerial survey of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on September 12, 2017. The survey was performed to identify structures and facilities that may have sustained damage from Hurricane Irma as the storm passed Kennedy on September 10, 2017. NASA closed the center ahead of the storm’s onset and only a small team of specialists known as the Rideout Team was on the center as the storm approached and passed. Credits: NASA

Hurricane Irma’s path may have been far west of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) and Patrick Air Force Base (PAFB), but Florida’s Space Coast still took a beating nonetheless.

That’s because, according to the National Weather Service, the heaviest rainfall occurred east of Irma’s path, where its outer rain bands and strong wind gusts carried on relentlessly, aided by the storm’s forward motion up the state’s west coast, while also dropping tornadoes up and down the Atlantic coast.

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Expedition 53 Ready to Expand to Six-Man Strength With Soyuz MS-06 Launch

Soyuz MS-06 launches from Site 1/5 at Baikonur, three weeks shy of the 60th anniversary since Sputnik 1 rose from the same complex. Photo Credit: NASA/Twitter

Three new crew members are en-route to the International Space Station (ISS), following an on-time launch of Soyuz MS-06 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Liftoff of Russian cosmonaut Aleksandr Misurkin and his U.S. crewmates Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba occurred at 3:17 a.m. local time Wednesday (5:17 p.m. EDT Tuesday) and at the time of writing the trio are following a six-hour and four-orbit “fast rendezvous”, with the expectation that they will dock at the station’s space-facing (or “zenith”) Poisk module at 10:57 p.m. EDT. Misurkin, Vande Hei and Acaba will form the second half of the incumbent Expedition 53, commanded by veteran NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik. When Expedition 53 returns to Earth in mid-December, Misurkin will assume command of Expedition 54, through late February 2018.

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Juno Finds Jupiter's Powerful Auroras 'Defy Earthly Laws of Physics'

Auroras at Jupiter’s north pole, as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope. Juno’s observations show that they are much more powerful than previously thought. Photo Credit: ASA/ESA/J. Nichols/University of Leicester

Although NASA’s Cassini mission is now coming to an end at Saturn, the Juno spacecraft is continuing to orbit Jupiter, sending back an incredible amount of science and stunning images of the largest planet in our Solar System. The results have scientists excited, since not only are they providing more insight and adding to what we know about Jupiter, they are also showing how the planet is a lot different than had been assumed. This includes the planet’s polar auroras, which seem to behave different from would be expected, based on what is known about auroras on Earth.

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Whitson and Fischer Discuss Record-Setting Multi-Month ISS Increment

A week after returning from space, Jack Fischer has accrued 136 days in orbit from his first mission. Peggy Whitson, meanwhile, now stands as the world’s eighth most experienced spacefarer, with 665 days across her three missions. Photo Credit: Michael Galindo/AmericaSpace

A week since their return from low-Earth orbit, Expedition 52 astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer gathered before a crowd of journalists at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas, earlier today (Monday), to discuss their months of research, spacewalking and record-breaking activity aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Fischer wrapped up a 136-day stay on the multi-national laboratory, and chalked up two sessions of Extravehicular Activity (EVA), whilst Whitson now stands as the most seasoned U.S. astronaut, the most experienced female spacefarer and holds records for the longest single mission by a woman and the greatest number of spacewalks and spacewalking hours by a woman.

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'Sitting On A Controlled Explosion': 25 Years Since the Space Shuttle's Half-Century Mission

 

Endeavour roars aloft, 25 years ago, this week, for the Space Shuttle’s 50th flight. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Twenty-five years ago, this week, Space Shuttle Endeavour—the youngest member of NASA’s fleet of orbiter vehicles, built to replace the ill-fated Challenger—rocketed away from the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida, on a mission of many firsts. Her crew included the first Japanese citizen to fly aboard a U.S. spacecraft, the first married couple to fly together on the same space mission and the first African-American female astronaut. And despite its numerical designation of “STS-47”, Endeavour’s second flight was actually the 50th mission of the 30-year Space Shuttle Program (SSP).

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'The Last Hurrah': Cassini Prepares for Fiery End of Mission in One Week

One of the most surreal views of Saturn from Cassini, backlit by the Sun. Photo Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

The end is nigh. Those really are not the words that scientists and fans of the Cassini mission at Saturn want to hear, but it’s true. After exploring Saturn and its moons since 2004, the Cassini spacecraft has now entered its final orbit around the ringed gas giant, and today will also make its last pass through the gap between Saturn and its rings. A week from now, Cassini will plunge into Saturn’s thick atmosphere, still recording data as long as it can, until it is crushed by the intense atmospheric pressure. Although the mission will be over, however, the incredible amount of science returned by Cassini will keep scientists busy for many years to come.

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BlackSky Awarded $16.4M Contract by Air Force Research Lab for New Geospatial Intelligence Brokering Platform

Spaceflight Industries today announced that BlackSky has been awarded a two-year $16.4 million cost-plus-prime contract with the Air Force Research Lab to develop and deliver a cloud-based geospatial intelligence broker platform. The brokering platform will provide on-demand analytics, collection, and information services from global data sources. Credit: Spaceflight Industries

Spaceflight Industries today announced that BlackSky has been awarded a two-year $16.4 million cost-plus-prime contract with the Air Force Research Lab to develop and deliver a cloud-based geospatial intelligence broker platform. The brokering platform will provide on-demand analytics, collection, and information services from global data sources.

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SpaceX Launches OTV-5, Lands Another Falcon as Hurricane Approaches

OTV-5 launch. Photo: SpaceX

This morning SpaceX launched the Air Force’s reusable X-37B ‘mini shuttle” Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV) from KSC launch pad 39A, putting the vehicle on orbit and bringing the rocket’s first stage booster back to Earth for another successful landing on “Landing Zone 1” just a few miles south of the launch site, just minutes after liftoff.

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Whitson Sets Endurance, EVA Records for Women, Wraps Up Ten-Month Space Station Expedition

Wrapping up the third long-duration mission of her career, Peggy Whitson has now spent over 665 days of her life away from Planet Earth. Photo Credit: NASA

The world’s most experienced female space traveler is tonight enjoying her first full day back on Earth, after returning from a third trip to the International Space Station (ISS). Veteran astronaut Peggy Whitson—the first woman to fly as many as three long-duration space missions—wrapped up 288 days, 5 hours and 1 minute across her 9.5 months of service on the Expedition 50, 51 and 52 crews. She became the first woman to command a space station for a second time and secured the world record for the greatest number of spacewalking hours by a female. All told, across her three-flight career, Whitson has logged more than 1.8 years of her 57 years of life in space.

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Bresnik Becomes First Marine Corps Officer to Command Space Station

Five weeks into his second space mission, Randy Bresnik today became the first U.S. Marine Corps officer to command the International Space Station (ISS). Photo Credit: Randy Bresnik/NASA/Twitter

You might be forgiven for wondering why the Marine Corps Hymn was piped into the cabin of the Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft on the launch pad at Baikonur as darkness fell on 28 July. Over the years, it has not been unusual for astronauts and cosmonauts, about to head into space from this desolate expanse of Kazakh steppe, to listen to their choice of music in the final moments of countdown. But on this occasion, the Hymn heralded something different, for Soyuz MS-05 crewman Randy “Komrade” Bresnik would become not only the first Marine to serve a long-duration increment aboard the International Space Station (ISS), but also the first branch member to command the sprawling orbital laboratory.

Earlier today (Friday, 1 September), Bresnik assumed command of the station, taking over from Expedition 52 Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin, who has led the ISS since early June. The Marine Corps Colonel, who turns 50 later this month, will command Expedition 53 until mid-December.

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