'As It Really Was': Remembering Apollo 7, OTD in 1968

Apollo 7 roars aloft on 11 October 1968. Photo Credit: NASA

More than five decades ago, today, on 11 October 1968, a giant rocket—nicknamed “the big maumoo” by Apollo 7 Commander Wally Schirra—took flight from Pad 34 at Cape Kennedy in Florida and launched the first stepping-stone in America’s bid to land a man on the Moon before the end of the 1960s.



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Kate Rubins Prepares for Birthday Ride to Space Station

Kate Rubins will become the fifth American to launch into space on her birthday Wednesday, when she flies Soyuz MS-17 shoulder to shoulder with Russian crewmates Sergei Ryzhikov and Sergei Kud-Sverchkov. Photo Credit: NASA

When NASA’s Kate Rubins launches to the International Space Station (ISS) next Wednesday, she will become only the fifth American astronaut in history to do so on a birthday. Born in Farmington, Conn., on 14 October 1978, Rubins and her Russian crewmates—Soyuz MS-17 Commander Sergei Ryzhikov and Flight Engineer Sergei Kud-Sverchkov—will rise from Site 31/6 at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, atop a giant Soyuz-2.1a booster, at 11:45 a.m. local time (1:45 a.m. EDT).



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Boeing-Built WGS-11+ Satellite Passes Major Review, Heads into Production Next Year

The Wideband Global Satcom (WGS), one of which is pictured here during integration into its rocket payload fairing, enhances the capabilities of U.S. and allied warfighters through increased bandwidth and other functionality. Photo Credit: ULA

Boeing and the U.S. Space Force have successfully completed the first major engineering design review of the next Wideband Global Satcom, identified as “WGS-11+” and scheduled for launch later this decade. According to the Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., it was the program’s first-ever, all-virtual Preliminary Design Review (PDR). Completion of this major milestone allows WGS-11+ to enter full-scale production next year, with delivery targeted for March 2024.



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Ferguson Steps Down as Commander for First Boeing Starliner Crew

NASA astronaut Barry “Butch” Wilmore, left, and Chris Ferguson, director of Mission Integration and Operations at Boeing, train for the first flight of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, which will carry astronauts to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Credits: NASA

This morning, retired NASA & current Boeing astronaut Chris Ferguson announced he is stepping down from commanding the first crewed mission of the company’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft next spring, citing family commitments in 2021.

Assuming the role now as Director of Mission Integration and Operations, as well as director of Crew Systems for Boeing’s Commercial Crew Program, Ferguson will be replaced by another veteran NASA astronaut,  Barry “Butch” Wilmore, who will join fellow astronauts Mike Fincke and Nicole Mann on the ‘Crew Flight Test’ (CFT) to the International Space Station.



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SLS Core Stage Completes Sixth Green Run Test, Eyes Early Nov Test-Fire

Since January, the 212-foot-tall (64.6-meter) core stage of the Space Launch System (SLS) has been undergoing Green Run testing in the B-2 Test Stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Bay St. Louis, Miss. Photo Credit: NASA

The core stage of the giant Space Launch System (SLS) rocket destined to ferry Artemis-1 around the Moon next year has moved one step closer to a Hot Fire Test of its four RS-25 engines. On Monday, NASA announced that engineers had completed the sixth of eight critical “Green Run” tests at the Stennis Space Center in Bay St. Louis, Miss., to evaluate the integrated functional and operational performance of the 212-foot-tall (64.6-meter) core stage.

Next up, the core will be loaded and subsequently drained with 733,000 gallons (3.3 million liters) of liquid oxygen and hydrogen propellants, ahead of the Hot Fire Test in early November. That crowning test of the Green Run will burn the shuttle-heritage RS-25 engines for a full SLS mission duration of around 8.5 minutes.   



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'Never So Much Time': Remembering STS-41 and Ulysses, 30 Years On

Ulysses drifts serenely above Earth in the moments after deployment on 6 October 1990. Shortly after this image was taken, the attached Inertial Upper Stage (IUS) and Payload Assist Module (PAM)-S boosters would propel the craft faster than any previous man-made object out of Earth’s gravitational clutches. Photo Credit: NASA

Three decades ago, today, on 6 October 1990, the crew of STS-41—Commander Dick Richards, Pilot Bob Cabana and Mission Specialists Bruce Melnick, Bill Shepherd and Tom Akers—launched the shuttle program’s fastest-ever Earth-departing payload: the joint U.S./European Ulysses probe, bound for an extended period of exploration of the solar poles. Over the next 19 years, until the end of its life in June 2009, Ulysses successfully passed over the Sun’s northern and southern polar regions no less than three times, as well as serendipitously passing through the coma-tails of three comets and observing giant Jupiter from afar.



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SpaceX Ends 'Scrubtober' for Space Coast With Sunrise Starlink-13 Launch

After more than a month of delays due to weather and technical troubles, SpaceX returned to flight early Tuesday morning. Photo Credit: SpaceX

More than a month since its most recent launch, SpaceX finally put the gremlins of the last few weeks behind it at 7:29 a.m. EDT Tuesday with a spectacular Falcon 9 liftoff shortly after sunrise. It brought a suitable end to a troubled first few days of October, nicknamed “Scrubtober”, in light of scrubbed launch attempts which have affected SpaceX, Northrop Grumman Corp. and United Launch Alliance (ULA).



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NG-14 Cygnus Arrives at Space Station, Ahead of Expedition 64 Launch Next Week

The 57.7-foot-long (17.6-meter) Canadarm2 edges ever closer to the NG-14 Cygnus cargo ship, ahead of Monday’s grapple and berthing. Photo Credit: NASA

Four spacecraft are safely moored at the International Space Station (ISS) today, as Northrop Grumman Corp.’s NG-14 Cygnus supply ship—named in honor of STS-107 astronaut Kalpana “K.C.” Chawla—was robotically captured and berthed at the Earth-facing (or “nadir”) port of the Unity node. In addition to Cygnus, the station now also plays host to a pair of Russian Progress cargo vehicles and Soyuz MS-16, which brought Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy and Flight Engineers Anatoli Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner uphill in April.



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Weather Forces Starlink-12 Scrub at KSC, Will Try Again Tues

Rainy day at KSC means a scrub for Starlink-12. Photo: Mike Killian / AmericaSpace

After numerous delays, SpaceX’s 12th dedicated Starlink launch remains grounded today after rain poured on Kennedy Space Center this morning. The previously-flown Falcon 9 rocket, core B1058, and its sparkling-new upper stage have been waiting to deliver the next batch of 60 Starlink internet communications satellites into low-Earth orbit now for over two weeks, having initially been targeted to fly on 17 September.



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Monitoring Sea Level Rise: Sentinel 6A in Final Processing at Vandenberg for Nov 10 Launch

The Sentinel-6A spacecraft in a clean room at Germany’s IABG space test center, prior to being shipped to Vandenberg AFB recently for launch on Nov 10, 2020. Photo: ESA

NASA and ESA’s next Earth Observing science mission aims to better understand sea level rise and how it changes over time, as coastal communities around the world see more and more the affects of the Earth’s global climate warming. The joint U.S.-European Sentinel-6 ‘Michael Freilich’ satellite intends to collect the most accurate data thus far on how climate change is affecting the oceans, with millimeter-scale precision, and is now in the final stretch for launch next month from Vandenberg AFB, CA.



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