Good Test Fire Clears Next Falcon Heavy for April 9 Launch with Arabsat 6A

SpaceX’s second Falcon Heavy rocket forays to life with a static test fire on Kennedy Space Center pad 39A April 5, 2019 at noon. Following test fire, SpaceX scheduled launch for April 9, 2019. Photo Credit: Mike Killian / AmericaSpace.com

Fourteen months since its triumphant maiden voyage, the 27 engines of SpaceX’s mighty Falcon Heavy came to life again today (April 5) for a standard launch practice countdown (dress rehearsal) and Static Test Fire, which now paves way for the beast to soar again as soon as April 9, as it takes flight with its first commercial client.



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Parker Solar Probe Makes Second Fiery Flyby of the Sun

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

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe (PSP) made its second close approach of the Sun yesterday – the closest that any spacecraft has ever flown past any star.

PSP passed through the outermost layers of the Sun’s atmosphere, the corona, at 213,000 mph, coming within 15 million miles of the Sun itself. Closest approach, called perihelion, occurred at 6:40 p.m. EDT. PSP began this phase of the mission back on March 30, 2019, and it will last until April 10.



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'To Finish the Paint Job': Remembering Pad 39B, 50 Years After First Rollout

For five decades, Pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) has served as the starting-point for some of the most pivotal missions in U.S. spaceflight history—from the launches of three Skylab crews and the astronauts of Apollo-Soyuz to more than 50 Space Shuttle flights and the first (and last) flight of the ill-fated Ares I-X—and now stands impatiently primed for the inaugural voyage of the Space Launch System (SLS), sometime after June 2020.

Fifty years ago, this spring, eleven millions pounds-worth (almost 5 million kilograms) of Saturn V booster rolled-out to the pad to become 39B’s first client. Apollo 10 would fly two months later, marking the first time that the new pad would be used to send humans to the Moon. That first rollout, all those years ago, would open the floodgates to a total of 59 launches from the Home Planet, including some of the most pivotal flights of exploration in NASA’s history.



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'Full Power for Full Science': Remembering STS-119, Ten Years On

The International Space Station (ISS), as it appeared in March 2009, as shuttle Discovery departed at the end of STS-119. The S-6 truss and its two sets of solar array wings are visible at the far right of frame. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Ten years ago, this month, the crew of shuttle Discovery roared to orbit and achieved—in the words of Kennedy Space Center (KSC) launch commentator Candrea Thomas—“full power for full science” aboard the International Space Station (ISS), by delivering the fourth and final set of U.S.-built solar arrays, batteries and radiators to the sprawling orbital outpost. During their 13 days in space, STS-119 Commander Lee “Bru” Archambault and his crew supported extensive robotics, three sessions of Extravehicular Activity (EVA) and rotated long-duration crew members aboard the ISS, bringing NASA veteran Sandy Magnus home after four months and dropping off Koichi Wakata to become the first Japanese astronaut to fly a long-duration space station mission.

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Dream Chaser Clears Another NASA Review for Inaugural 2021 Launch

Sierra Nevada Corporation's Dream Chaser engineering test vehicle at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center. Photo Credit: NASA

America’s next ‘spaceplane’ recently cleared another key NASA review towards flight, checking off the next milestone on Sierra Nevada Corp’s (SNC) journey to launching their first Dream Chaser atop a ULA Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida in 2021.



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Engineers Conduct Successful First Tests of Mars 2020 Rover

View of the backshell that will help protect the Mars 2020 rover during its descent into the Martian atmosphere, during the Systems Test 1 (ST1). Photo Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The landing of the Mars 2020 rover on Feb. 18, 2021 may still be almost two years away, but NASA’s newest Mars rover has already “touched down” a couple times in successful test simulations. The tests, with many more to come, will prepare engineers for the actual landing day, which like any Mars rover or lander mission, will be brought with anxiety and suspense as the spacecraft begins its descent through the thin atmosphere.



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OSIRIS-REx Finds Plumes and Other Surprises on Asteroid Bennu

View of a particle plume erupting from the surface of Bennu, as seen by OSIRIS-REx on Jan. 19, 2019. This is the first time that such plumes have ever been observed on an asteroid. Photo Credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona/Lockheed Martin

Close-up observations of the near-Earth asteroid Bennu have revealed many surprises, NASA announced today during the 50th Lunar and Planetary Conference in Houston. These include particle plumes and a much more rugged surface than had been anticipated.



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Remembering Shuttle Discovery's STS-29 Mission, 30 Years On

Discovery rockets into orbit on STS-29 in March 1989, three decades ago, this month. Photo Credit: NASA

Flying in space, remembered astronaut John Blaha—who made the first of his five missions, 30 years ago, this month—vanished in the flicker of an eye. On 13 March 1989, Blaha and his four crewmates launched aboard shuttle Discovery on the relatively “vanilla” STS-29 flight to deliver a major NASA communications satellite into space. Seated in the pilot’s seat, alongside future Johnson Space Center (JSC) Director Mike Coats, Blaha was joined by Mission Specialists Bob Springer, Jim Buchli and Jim Bagian. Most of the crew had been recycled from a pre-Challenger assignment to a flight which might have seen the first citizens of Indonesia and the UK to travel into space.

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ULA's Penultimate Delta IV Lofts WGS-10 to Orbit for USAF

The U.S. Air Force WGS-10 satellite headed to orbit atop the penultimate single-stick United Launch Alliance Delta-IV rocket on March 15, 2019. Photo Credit: John Studwell / AmericaSpace

Dedicated to the memory of a former electrical installations lead for the Delta IV Program—30-year aerospace industry veteran Kurt Huschle—the second-to-last “single-stick” United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV booster roared smoothly to orbit this evening (Friday, 15 March), laden with a critical military communications asset to support U.S. and allied warfighters across the globe.

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New Crew Launched Aboard Soyuz MS-12, En-Route to Space Station

Soyuz MS-12 roars aloft from Gagarin’s Start, into post-midnight skies at Baikonur. Photo Credit: NASA/Twitter

Two U.S. astronauts rode into orbit, shoulder-to-shoulder with a Russian commander earlier today, when Soyuz MS-12 speared smoothly aloft from Site 1/5—the historic “Gagarin’s Start”—at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. NASA flyers Nick Hague and Christina Koch were joined by seasoned cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin for the on-time liftoff and are now embarking on a six-hour and four-orbit “fast rendezvous” to reach the International Space Station (ISS).

By a strange quirk of coincidence, today (3/14) happens to be “Pi Day”, and the mission of Ovchinin, Hague and Koch set off at 3:14 p.m. EDT Thursday (12:14 a.m. local time Friday). “Liftoff on #PiDay,” tweeted Hague in the hours before launch. “An engineer’s dream come true. Next stop, @Space_Station.” The trio are targeted to dock at the station’s Earth-facing (or “nadir”) Rassvet module at 9:07 p.m. EDT.

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