'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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'Off to a Good Start': Remembering Columbia's Return on STS-28, Thirty Years On (Part 1)

Astronaut Dick Richards was five weeks from his first launch into space when the Challenger disaster snatched the opportunity from him. In January 1985, Richards had been named as veteran astronaut Jon McBride’s pilot on STS-61E, the ASTRO-1 science mission, scheduled for March 1986 to observe Halley’s Comet and a multitude of other astronomical targets. When Challenger rose from Pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida on 28 January 1986, McBride and Richards were in their seats in the simulator at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas, working launch-abort scenarios. They paused briefly to step outside and watch Challenger’s launch. Seventy-three seconds later, STS-61E vanished from the manifest like a blip from a radar screen. Thirty years ago, this month, Richards and another crew—that of STS-28—finally made it to space, on a quite different mission, and in a profoundly different shuttle era.



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NASA's TESS Mission Wraps Up First Year of Exoplanet Hunting

TESS has already discovered nearly 1,000 exoplanet candidates and 24 confirmed exoplanets so far, in its first year. Image Credit: Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA’s TESS mission (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) has now completed the first year of its search for exoplanets and has already racked up some great discoveries, it was announced on July 25, 2019. The space telescope has also been watching other celestial phenomena such as comets and supernovae, although exoplanets are its primary focus.



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'For One Priceless Moment': Celebrating Apollo 11, 50th Anniversary Month (Part 4)

On Sunday, 20 July 1969, the Mission Operations Control Room (MOCR) at NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC) in Houston, Texas, was filled with tension and expectant quiet. More than three billion people lived on Earth and three others—Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Mike Collins and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin—occupied an environment far more distant, far more hostile and far more exotic. Leaving Collins behind in lunar orbit aboard the command and service module Columbia, Armstrong and Aldrin descended in the lunar module Eagle and alighted smoothly on the surface of the Moon. Against all the odds, a perfect touchdown on alien soil had been accomplished on the Sea of Tranquility, and the time rapidly approached when they would take the steps which would earn them immortality: the first “Moonwalk.”



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Dragon CRS-18 Arrives with Crew Docking Adaptor, Raft of Science for Space Station

NASA astronauts Nick Hague (center) Christina Koch (left) and Drew Morgan (right), currently serving with the Expedition 60 crew on the International Space Station, welcome SpaceX Dragon CRS-18 to the orbiting outpost on 27 July 2019. Photo Credit: NASA

SpaceX successfully delivered their 18th resupply mission to the International Space Station today, bringing with it more than 5,000 pounds of research, supplies and hardware for the orbiting laboratory and the six-member Expedition 60 crew currently serving onboard.

Launched two days ago from Cape Canaveral, Fla., the Cargo Dragon is flying on its third mission (also launched on a reused rocket), and was welcomed to the ISS by NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch, who together grappled the spacecraft at 9:11 a.m. EDT using the space station’s robotic arm Canadarm2, while cruising 17,500 mph over southern Chile at an altitude of about 260 miles.



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