Gold Star for an Admiral: Remembering Astronaut Dave Griggs, 30 Years On

Thirty years ago, America’s Space Shuttle program had risen from the depths of despair—following the calamitous loss of Challenger—to a triumphant return-to-flight and the three surviving orbiters, Columbia, Discovery and Atlantis, were beginning to establish a tempo for a resumption of mission operations. In November 1988, two months after STS-26 finally laid Challenger’s ghosts to rest, several new shuttle crews were announced for the following year.

One of them, the crew of STS-33, included retired U.S. Navy Naval Air Reserve rear admiral Dave Griggs, who would the most senior military officer ever to fly aboard the shuttle. Griggs had flown once before and would be embarking on his first flight in the pilot’s seat, but only six months later, on 17 June 1989, he lost his life in a shocking tragedy that no one could possibly have foreseen and which altered the face of STS-33 forever.



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NASA's Psyche Mission to Metal Asteroid Enters Final Design Phase

Artist’s concept of the Psyche spacecraft near the metal asteroid Psyche. This type of asteroid has never been visited by any earthly spacecraft before. Image Credit: SSL/ASU/P. Rubin/NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Psyche mission is preparing to go someplace that no other planetary mission has been to before: a metal asteroid. Now, NASA Headquarters in Washington has approved the start of the final design and fabrication phase of the mission, known as Phase C.



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Second-Use Falcon 9 Smoothly Delivers Radarsat Trio to Near-Polar Orbit

For the fifteenth time in under six years, the roar of Merlin rocket engines rolled across a fog-enshrouded Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., earlier this morning (Wednesday, 12 June), as SpaceX smoothly delivered Canada’s three-satellite Radarsat Constellation Mission (RCM) into near-polar orbit, some 370 miles (600 km) above Earth. The Upgraded Falcon 9—tailnumbered “B1051” and returning to service for a second time, after previously lofting the Demo-1 mission of Crew Dragon in March—rose perfectly from Space Launch Complex (SLC)-4E at 7:17 a.m. PDT, its reddish-orange flare slicing through the low-level murk. A few minutes later the first-stage core returned to alight smoothly on Landing Zone (LZ)-4 at Vandenberg. It was the second West Coast touchdown on solid ground for SpaceX, following last October’s homecoming of the B1048 first stage following the SAOCOM-1A mission.



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Why Trump’s Space Tweets Matter

Apollo 17 astronaut Jack Schmitt with the U.S. flag and the Earth in the sky. Taken during the mission’s first EVA on the lunar surface on December 19, 1972. Photo: NASA

President Trump, in a tweet on June 7th at 1:38 PM, publicly put himself at odds with a policy directive that he himself signed just a year-and-a-half ago. That directive, Space Policy Directive 1[1], signed on December 11, 2017, changed space policy by amending the Presidential Policy Directive–4 of June 28, 2010[2]:



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Canada's Three-Satellite Radarsat Constellation Stands Ready for Tuesday SpaceX Launch

A trio of identical satellites, each bearing the maple leaf of Canada, will rise to orbit on Wednesday, 12 June, from Space Launch Complex (SLC)-4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., on a mission to provide comprehensive maritime surveillance, disaster management and the assessment of various ecosystems across the Arctic region. The Radarsat Constellation Mission (RCM) will also provide daily coverage of more than 90 percent of the world’s surface.



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'Down Among 'Em': Remembering Apollo 10, 50 Years On (Part 4)

Fifty years ago, this spring, the three astronauts of Apollo 10 circled the Moon, marking humanity’s second voyage to our closest celestial neighbor. Their spacecraft had many of the provisions needed to execute a landing—a Command and Service Module (CSM), which they had nicknamed “Charlie Brown”, and a Lunar Module (LM), “Snoopy”—but on this “F mission”, Commander Tom Stafford, Command Module Pilot (CMP) John Young and Lunar Module Pilot (LMP) Gene Cernan performed a full dress rehearsal for the first landfall on alien soil. They would test the LM’s descent engine, guidance and navigation systems and radar and in doing so would clear the final hurdle in anticipation of the historic Apollo 11 voyage in July.



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'We Have Arrived': Remembering Apollo 10, 50 Years On (Part 3)

Four hours after a bone-jarring launch from Cape Kennedy—marking the first-ever space mission to originate from Pad 39B—and an equally rattling ride through Trans-Lunar Injection (TLI), on 18 May 1969 the crew of Apollo 10 were finally on their way to the Moon. Their mission to lunar orbit would clear the final hurdles before humanity’s first piloted landing on an alien world on Apollo 11. Those hurdles included Commander Tom Stafford and Lunar Module Pilot (LMP) Gene Cernan guiding the spider-like Lunar Module (LM), which they had nicknamed “Snoopy”, to within nine miles (15 km) of the Moon’s surface. In doing so, they left Command Module Pilot (CMP) John Young to become the first man ever to fly solo in orbit around the Moon.

As outlined in last weekend’s AmericaSpace history article and the first instalment of this four-part feature, Apollo 10 was a fundamentally critical stepping-stone in evaluating the tools, techniques and technologies needed to bring humans down to the lunar surface.



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“We Didn’t Know the Questions”: Remembering Apollo 10, 50 Years On (Part 2)

Snoopy, the little black-and-white dog from the Peanuts comic strip, was everywhere at NASA five decades ago, this month, as Apollo 10 and its three-man crew—Commander Tom Stafford, Command Module Pilot (CMP) John Young and Lunar Module Pilot (LMP) Gene Cernan—prepared for their launch to the Moon. Snoopy had become the mascot for a mission which would clear the final hurdle in accomplishing humanity’s first piloted landing on the surface of another world. As outlined in last weekend’s AmericaSpace history feature, Apollo 10 was already shaping up to be one of the most complex missions ever attempted.



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Record-Setting Falcon 9 Launches First 60 Starlink Satellites to Orbit

For the fourth time in 2019, SpaceX launched in the hours of darkness late Thursday, 23 May, to deliver its first 60 Starlink communications satellites into low-Earth orbit. Tipping the scales in excess of 30,000 pounds (13,620 kg)—the heaviest payload ever lofted by the Hawthorne, Calif.-headquartered launch services organization, according to CEO Elon Musk—the Upgraded Falcon 9 booster roared aloft from Space Launch Complex (SLC)-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., at 10:30 p.m. EDT. Launch occurred right on the opening of Thursday night’s 90-minute “window”, following a pair of 24-hours scrub last week, due to high winds at altitude and a need to update the Starlink software load.



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First Flyby Science Results of 2014 MU69 Published by New Horizons Team

Composite high-resolution view of 2014 MU69, as seen by New Horizons on Jan. 1, 2019. Photo Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute//Roman Tkachenko

The first science results from the flyby of 2014 MU69 by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft have now been published, revealing more details about one the strangest objects in our Solar System.



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