Remembering Voyager 2’s Visit With Neptune, 30 Years On (Part 2)

Artist’s concept of Triton and its thin atmosphere, with Neptune and the distant Sun in the background. Image Credit: European Southern Observatory (ESO)

Thirty years ago, this month, humans and technology steeled themselves for the last, first-time, close-up glimpse of a new planet in the 20th century. NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft, launched in August 1977, had already conducted a breathtaking exploration of the giant gaseous worlds Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus, but as it headed deeper into the Solar System, bound for Neptune, the potential for failure multiplied. As outlined in yesterday’s AmericaSpace history feature, various techniques were implemented to keep the spacecraft steady whilst taking photographs in the low-light conditions at Neptune and new technologies allowed the worldwide Deep Space Network (DSN) to listen for Voyager 2’s weak signal with greater acuteness than ever before.



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Giant Radio Ear: Remembering Voyager 2's Encounter With Neptune, 30 Years On (Part 1)

Neptune and its large moon, Triton, as seen by Voyager 2 in August 1989, three days after closest approach. Photo Credit: NASA

Thirty years ago, this month, all eyes were on the outermost reaches of the Solar System, as humanity braced itself for its last, first-time, close-up glimpse of a new planet in the 20th century. NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft, launched in August 1977, had already completed a breathtaking exploration of Jupiter and Saturn—together with twin, Voyager 1—and had pushed the boundaries of knowledge further with a whistlestop tour of distant Uranus. Both Uranus and Neptune were poorly understood and in early 1984 scientists gathered in Pasadena, Calif., to develop a comprehensive set of observations for Voyager 2. And for a period of several weeks in the summer of 1989, the small amount of data about Neptune was multiplied many times over as this unknown world suddenly became known.



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Dream Chaser on Track for 2021 Debut atop ULA's Second Vulcan Launch

Today Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) held a press conference announcing their selection of the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Vulcan rocket to launch their reusable Cargo Dream Chaser ‘spaceplane’ on its upcoming uncrewed resupply missions to and from the International Space Station (ISS) for NASA.

Leadership from both companies also shed some light on where development of the spacecraft and rocket is, and what’s ahead between now and launch.



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Parker Solar Probe Marks 1st Year with 50% More Data than Expected from Flybys of Sun

Artist’s conception of the Parker Solar Probe making a close flyby of the Sun. Image Credit: Steve Gribben/NASA/JH-APL

Today, August 12, is the first-year anniversary of the launch of NASA’s Parker Solar Probe (PSP), which is already revolutionizing our understanding of the nearest star, our Sun. PSP is conducting multiple close flybys, coming closer to the Sun’s surface than any other spacecraft before.



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'The Worst Coffee': Remembering Columbia's Return on STS-28, Thirty Years On (Part 2)

Thirty years ago, this month, Space Shuttle Columbia returned to flight, following a three-year down time in the aftermath of the Challenger disaster. Aboard STS-28 for a five-day flight were Commander Brewster Shaw, Pilot Dick Richards and Mission Specialists Jim Adamson, Dave Leestma and Mark Brown, tasked with deploying a classified payload on behalf of the Department of Defense. In keeping with the mission, STS-28 was (and still is) largely shrouded in secrecy, and it was not for many years that a tiny chink opened to reveal a handful of sketchy details of what Shaw and his crew did in orbit.



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Artemis Updates

Orion in lunar orbit. Image: Lockheed Martin

This is the first of what AmericaSpace.com hopes are many updates of the Artemis system on a regular basis to bring you, our readers, up to speed on progress of the primary components of the Artemis system, the Orion spacecraft and SLS launcher.

This article is meant to bring readers up-to-speed on the current condition of Orion and SLS as they are prepared for the Artemis 1 mission. Subsequent editions of Artemis Updates will carry news of not only Artemis 1, but of Artemis 2, Artemis 3, Gateway, and others as they come.



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ULA Lofts AEHF-5 Military Sentinel to Orbit as Rocket Production Ramps Up to 'Record Setting Pace'

A ULA Atlas V ‘551’ rocket lifts off with the latest Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF-5) military communications satellite on 8 August 2019. Photo Credit: Alan Walters / AmericaSpace.com

Almost five months since it last flew, United Launch Alliance (ULA) successfully closed-out a gap in missions on Thursday, 8 August, when its Atlas V 551 heavylifter roared aloft from Space Launch Complex (SLC)-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., laden with the latest Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF-5) military communications satellite, bound for geostationary orbit. The 551—numerically designated to identify a 17.7-foot-diameter (5-meter) payload fairing, five strap-on, solid-fueled rockets and a single-engine Centaur upper stage—took flight at 6:13 a.m. EDT.

Coming 145 days since the last ULA launch, back in March, this represents the longest span between two missions in the 13-year history of the Centennial, Colo.-based launch provider. It is ULA’s third flight of 2019 and the 80th launch by a member of the Atlas V fleet.



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ULA Primed for 80th Atlas V Launch with USAF 'AEHF-5' Satellite Thursday Morning

ULA’s workhorse Atlas V rocket stands poised for launch atop pad 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida to deliver AEHF-5 into a customized geosynchronous transfer orbit for the U.S. Air Force at 5:44am EDT on 8 Thursday 2019. This satellite is a part of a network supporting protected communications to high-priority U.S. national defense users on land, at sea or in the air. Photo: ULA

For the tenth time in its history, United Launch Alliance (ULA) will fly the most powerful member of its Atlas V fleet at 5:44 a.m. EDT Thursday, 8 August, when a 551 booster—boasting a 17.7-foot-diameter (5-meter) payload fairing, five strap-on solid-fueled rockets and a single-engine Centaur upper stage—rises from Space Launch Complex (SLC)-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.

Previously labeled “the bruiser” by ULA CEO Tory Bruno, the 551 will carry the fifth Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF-5) military communications satellite. Built by Lockheed Martin, this satellite will join its four cousins, launched between August 2010 and last October, in providing fast and secure communications to link civilian leaders with military assets, anywhere in the world. Thursday’s mission also marks the 80th launch by an Atlas V, tracing an ancestry (and an impressive success rate) back to its maiden flight in August 2002.



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SpaceX Launches 10th Mission of 2019 with AMOS-17

AMOS-17 headed to orbit atop a 3x used Falcon 9 rocket from SLC-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL on 6 August 2019. Photo: SpaceX

Shortly before sunset Tuesday, 6 August, a fond farewell was paid to one of few rockets in history to have flown as many as three times. SpaceX’s B1047 first-stage core—the lowermost component of the Falcon 9 rocket—rose from Space Launch Complex (SLC)-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., at 7:23 p.m. EDT to deliver its third and final primary payload to space.

Blackened, scarred and scorched from its previous high-stress launches and high-energy re-entries, B1047 is the fourth SpaceX bird to rocket away from Earth on three occasions. But it is alone among them in having sent all of its payloads to geostationary altitude, more than 22,300 miles (35,900 km) above the Home Planet. And tonight, it performed its swansong with perfection.



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Watch SpaceX Launch Their 10th Flight of 2019 Tonight with AMOS-17

Falcon 9 rocket ‘B-1047’ stands ready for its third and final launch 6 Aug 2019, ahead of its first launch attempt to deliver the AMOS-17 satellite to orbit tonight. Photo: SpaceX

UPDATE 5:00pm EDT – SpaceX is now targeting a new T-0 of 7:23 p.m. EDT, 23:23 UTC for launch of AMOS-17, team continuing to monitor weather conditions at the Cape. Vehicle and payload still look good for launch.

ORIGINAL STORY – Almost three years since a catastrophic explosion on Space Launch Complex (SLC)-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.—which resulted in the destruction of both the Falcon 9 booster and Amos-6 payload at its tip—SpaceX stands ready to honor a long-standing commitment to Israel’s Spacecom concern late Tuesday, 6 August, with a gratis launch of the powerful Amos-17 communications satellite.

When operational at geostationary altitude, Amos-17 is expected to remain active for up to 19 years, through 2039, and will replace the failed Amos-5 satellite at 17 degrees East longitude. In so doing, it will provide strengthened Ka-, Ku- and C-band support of growing satellite-services markets in Africa, the Middle East and Europe.



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