Showing posts with label outer space. Show all posts
Showing posts with label outer space. Show all posts

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Rocket Launch Scheduled June 4 From Wallops

WALLOPS ISLAND, VA – A Black Brant XII suborbital rocket carrying the Cosmic Infrared Background ExpeRiment (CIBER)is scheduled for launch between 11 and 11:59 p.m. EDT, June 4, from NASA’s launch range at the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

The backup launch days are June 5 through 10. The rocket may be visible to residents in the mid-Atlantic region.

With CIBER, scientists will be studying when the first stars and galaxies formed in the universe and how brightly they burned their nuclear fuel.

Jamie Bock, CIBER principal investigator from the California Institute of Technology, said, “The objectives of the experiment are of fundamental importance for astrophysics: to probe the process of first galaxy formation. The measurement is extremely difficult technically.”

This will be the fourth flight for CIBER on a NASA sounding rocket. The previous launches were in 2009, 2010 and 2012 from the White Sands Missile Range, N.M. After each flight the experiment or payload was recovered for post-calibrations and re-flight.

For this flight CIBER will fly on a larger and more powerful rocket than before. This will loft CIBER to a higher altitude than those previously obtained, thus providing longer observation time for the instruments. The experiment, which will safely splash down in the Atlantic Ocean more than 400 miles off the Virginia coast, will not be recovered.

The NASA Visitor Center at Wallops will open at 9:30 p.m. on launch day for public viewing of the launch.

The mission will be available live on Ustream beginning at 10 p.m. on launch day at:

Mission status on launch day can be followed on Twitter and Facebook at: or

Mission status also is available on the Wallops launch status line at 757-824-2050.

More information on CIBER and the NASA Sounding Rocket Program is available at: rockets.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Antares Test Flight Scheduled for April 17

We've waited a while for this!  Should be spectacular and I can't wait!!
 Antares Rocket
The Antares rocket in vertical position, following roll-out maneuvers on
 April 6, 2013, at Wallops.  Credit: NASA/Brea Reeves
WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. -- Orbital Sciences Corp. completed roll-out of the first fully-integrated Antares rocket to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad-0A at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Saturday, April 6. Orbital has confirmed an April 17 target launch date for the rocket test flight with a planned liftoff of 5 p.m. EDT.

Orbital is testing the Antares rocket under NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. NASA initiatives like COTS are helping develop a robust U.S. commercial space transportation industry with the goal of achieving safe, reliable and cost-effective transportation to and from the space station and low-Earth orbit.

For more information on the launch, Wallops, and NASA initiatives like COTS, see:

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Engine Test A Success

If you thought you heard thunder and your windows rattled.  Or if your house shook and you thought it was an earthquake be advised you are safe. 

The engine of the Antare's rocket was tested for 30 seconds last night, just shortly after 6:00 PM,  from NASA's Wallops Flight Center.  I can't imagine what our friends- who live within sight of NASA and see every launch and testing that goes on from there- may have witnessed. 

And I don't want to think about what the sight and sound will be like when the Antare's rocket is  finally launched later this year.

NASA commercial partner Orbital Sciences of Dulles, Va., successfully conducted an engine test of its Antares rocket Friday, Feb. 22, from Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad-0A at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, Va. The company fired dual AJ26 rocket engines for approximately 30 seconds while the rocket was bolted down on the pad. Known as a "hot fire" test, it demonstrated the readiness of the rocket's first stage and launch pad fueling systems to support upcoming test flights. Credit: NASA
WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. -- NASA commercial partner Orbital Sciences of Dulles, Va., successfully conducted an engine test of its Antares rocket Friday, February 22, at the nation's newest launch pad.

The company fired dual AJ26 rocket engines for approximately 30 seconds while the first stage of Orbital's Antares rocket was held down on the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) Pad-0A at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Va. The test demonstrated the readiness of the rocket's first stage and launch pad fueling systems to support upcoming test flights.
"This pad test is an important reminder of how strong and diverse the commercial space industry is in our nation,” said Phil McAlister, director of Commercial Spaceflight Development at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “A little more than one year after the retirement of the space shuttle, we had a U.S company resupplying the space station, and another is now taking the next critical steps to launch from America’s newest gateway to low-Earth Orbit. Today marks significant progress for Orbital, MARS and the NASA team."

Orbital is building and testing its new rocket and Cygnus cargo spacecraft under NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. A demonstration flight of Antares and Cygnus to the space station is planned for later this year. Following the successful completion of the COTS demonstration mission to the station, Orbital will begin conducting eight planed cargo resupply flights to the orbiting laboratory through NASA's $1.9 billion Commercial Resupply Services contract with the company.

Wallops, which has launched more than 16,000 rockets in its 67-year history, provided launch range support for the hot fire test, including communications, data collection, range safety and area clearance.

NASA initiatives like COTS are helping develop a robust U.S. commercial space transportation industry with the goal of achieving safe, reliable and cost-effective transportation to and from the space station and low-Earth orbit. In parallel, NASA's Commercial Crew Program is working with commercial space partners developing capabilities to launch U.S. astronauts from U.S. soil in the next few years.

**For more information about upcoming Orbital test flights, visit:**

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Rocket Launch At Wallops Island

NASA is planning to test several new rocket technologies with a launch Thursday of a Terrier-Improved Orion suborbital sounding rocket from the Wallops Flight Facility.

The new technologies include the Small Rocket/Spacecraft Techonology platform, or SMART; Autonomous Flight Safety System, Low Cost Telemetry Transmitter and an electrohydrodynamic-based thermal control unit, a news release says.

The launch is scheduled to happen between 7 and 10 a.m. and can be viewed by a webcast that will begin at 6 a.m. If weather prevents the launch, the backup days are June 10 and 11.

The launch also can be viewed at the NASA Visitor Center, which will open at 6 a.m. Launch status updates will be provided by NASA on Twitter and by phone at (757) 824-2050.

To learn more about the rocket program, visit

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

NASA Sets May 16 For Final Space Shuttle Endeavour Launch

CAPE CANAVERAL -- NASA managers have set the liftoff of space shuttle Endeavour for 8:56 a.m. EDT on Monday, May 16. Launch attempts are available through May 26, except for May 21. The STS-134 mission to the International Space Station is the penultimate shuttle flight and the final one for Endeavour.

Space Shuttle Program Launch Integration Manager Mike Moses and Shuttle Launch Director Mike Leinbach announced the date at a news briefing Monday from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. They also discussed the progress of repairs since Endeavour's launch postponement on April 29.

A short in the heater circuit associated with Endeavour's hydraulic system resulted in the launch postponement. Technicians determined the most likely failure was inside a switchbox in the shuttle's aft compartment and associated electrical wiring connecting the switchbox to the heaters. The heater circuits prevent freezing of the fuel lines providing hydraulic power to steer the vehicle during ascent and entry.

The faulty box was replaced May 4. Since Friday, Kennedy technicians installed and tested new wiring that bypasses the suspect electrical wiring and confirmed the heater system is working properly. They also are completing retests of other systems powered by the switchbox and are closing out Endeavour's aft compartment.

STS-134 Commander Mark Kelly and his five crewmates are set to arrive at Kennedy for prelaunch preparations on Thursday, May 12, at approximately 11 a.m. NASA Television will broadcast the crew's arrival live. For NASA TV streaming video, downlink and scheduling information, visit:

Friday, January 28, 2011

25th Anniversary of Challenger Explosion Remembered With Memorial Service

CAPE CANAVERAL — In a somber ceremony at Kennedy Space Center's Visitor Complex today, NASA leaders, employees and relatives paid tribute to the two women and five men who lost their lives on space shuttle Challenger 25 years ago, recalling the disaster that shocked the country and forever changed America's space agency.

On a brisk morning under cloudy skies, about 200 people — many carrying a long-stemmed rose — gathered at the stark Space Mirror Memorial at the front of the tourist attraction for the service sponsored by the Astronauts Memorial Foundation. By the end of the 45-minute ceremony, the skies were as clear as they were a quarter-century ago when Challenger exploded.

Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for Space Operations, said he had vowed after the Challenger explosion that it would never happen again. But it did – on Feb. 1, 2003 – when shuttle Columbia broke up on re-entry because a piece of insulating foam falling off the fuel tank had punched a hole in the orbiter's wing during launch.

Like the cause of the Challenger disaster – caused by a failed O-ring in the shuttle's solid-rocket booster – problems with foam coming off the tank were apparent after the shuttle's first flight in 1981, he said. But NASA engineers didn't judge them serious enough to halt flights to fix them.

"This is the most difficult speech that I give," Gerstenmaier said. "This speech becomes much more than words as I reflect on the failings of the human safe-flight team…They're not academic or simple lessons, but are lessons that must be implemented and learned every day. The little things that seemed harmless can become catastrophic events."

However, he added, "We can't let the fear of failure stop us from the challenges and risky work of discovery."

Gerstenmaier was joined by June Scobee Rodgers, widow of Challenger's commander, Dick Scobee. But unlike the veteran NASA administrator, she chose to emphasize the positive – creation of the Challenger Centers that have provided 4 million students in the U.S .as well as in Canada, South Korea and Canada with space-education programs.

"What should have been a day of education turned to tragedy in a split second," said Scobee Rodgers, who has remarried.

"Lessons were left untaught," she said, adding that the families of the dead crewmembers – including Christa McAuliffe, the New Hampshire high-school teacher who was flying as part of the Teacher in Space program -- realized that "if we didn't somehow continue Challenger's mission of education, then our loved ones would have died in vain."

In a statement released before the event, Steven McAuliffe, Christa McAuliffe's widower, put it like this: "Ordinary people can make extraordinary contributions when they remain true to themselves and enthusiastically pursue their own dreams wherever they may lead."

In addition to McAuliffe and Scobee, the Challenger crew included pilot Michael Smith, astronauts Ronald McNair, Judith Resnik, Ellison Onizuka and payload specialist Gregory "Bruce" Jarvis, who worked for Hughes Aircraft Co.

The theme of the day was the legacy of the seven astronauts who lost their lives just 73 seconds into the flight. It was a message focusing on learning not loss.

The shuttle was destroyed 73 seconds after launch, when a failed O-ring in one of the shuttle's solid-rocket boosters allowed hot gases to escape and ignite the shuttle's main fuel tank. It was the 25th flight in the shuttle program.

A quarter-century later, images of the exploding space shuttle still signify all that can go wrong with space travel.

The accident — the first high-tech catastrophe to unfold on live TV — took place 9 miles above the Atlantic and remains NASA's most visible failure. Adding to the anguish was the young audience: Schoolchildren everywhere tuned in to watch McAuliffe become the first schoolteacher and ordinary citizen bound for space.

President Ronald Reagan was due to give his State of the Union address the night of the Challenger disaster. Instead he postponed the speech for a week, and appeared on national television to pay tribute to the crew.

He said they were "pioneers" before ending his address with two lines from the John Magee poem "High Flight": "We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and 'slipped the surly bonds of earth' to 'touch the face of God'

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Cosmic Tsunami Tonight

Earth is bracing for a cosmic tsunami Tuesday night as tons of plasma from a massive solar flare head directly toward the planet.

The Sun's surface erupted early Sunday morning, shooting a wall of ionized atoms directly at Earth, scientists say. It is expected to create a geomagnetic storm and a spectacular light show -- and it could pose a threat to satellites in orbit, as well.

"This eruption is directed right at us and is expected to get here early in the day on Aug. 4," said Leon Golub of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. "It's the first major Earth-directed eruption in quite some time."

The solar eruption, called a coronal mass ejection, was spotted by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, which captures high-definition views of the sun at a variety of wavelengths. SDO was launched in February and peers deep into the layers of the sun, investigating the mysteries of its inner workings.

"We got a beautiful view of this eruption," Golub said. "And there might be more beautiful views to come if it triggers aurorae."

Views of aurorae are usually associated with Canada and Alaska, but even skywatchers in the northern U.S. mainland are being told they can look toward the north Tuesday and Wednesday evenings for rippling "curtains" of green and red light.

When a coronal mass ejection reaches Earth, solar particles stream down our planet's magnetic field lines toward the poles. In the process, the particles collide with atoms of nitrogen and oxygen in the Earth's atmosphere, which then glow, creating an effect similar to miniature neon signs.

The interaction of the solar particles with our planet's magnetic field has the potential to create geomagnetic storms, or disturbances, in Earth's magnetosphere. And while aurorae are normally visible only at high latitudes, they can light up the sky even at lower latitudes during a geomagnetic storm.

Fortunately for Earth-bound observers, the atmosphere filters out nearly all of the radiation from the solar blast. The flare shouldn't pose a health hazard, Golub told

"It's because of our atmosphere," he explained, "which absorbs the radiation, as well as the magnetic field of the Earth, which deflects any magnetic particles produced."

The radiation "almost never" makes it to ground, he noted, though pilots and passengers in airplanes may experience increased radiation levels akin to getting an X-ray.

The solar particles also could affect satellites, though scientists think that possibility is remote. Orbital Sciences Corp. believe a similar blast may have knocked its Galaxy 15 satellite permanently out of action this year.

This type of solar event has both government officials and satellite manufacturers worrying.

NASA scientists warned recently that high-energy electric pulses from the sun could cripple our electrical grid for years, causing billions in damages. In fact, the House is so concerned that the Energy and Commerce committee voted unanimously to approve a bill allocating $100 million to protect the energy grid from this rare but potentially devastating occurrence.

The sun's activity usually ebbs and flows on a fairly predictable cycle. Typically, a cycle lasts about 11 years, taking roughly 5.5 years to move from a solar minimum, a period of time when there are few sunspots, to peak at the solar maximum, during which sunspot activity is amplified.

The last solar maximum occurred in 2001. The latest minimum was particularly weak and long- lasting.

The most recent solar eruption is one of the first signs that the sun is waking up -- and heading toward another maximum.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Rocket Transport Trial Run To Wallops Begins Tonight

Motorists traveling on the Eastern Shore and tomorrow morning could see something a little out of the ordinary.

A 95-foot-long tractor-trailer will be transporting a full-size mockup of the first stage of Orbital Sciences' Taurus II rocket from the Wilmington, Delaware port to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island. The actual rocket stage for the Taurus II is currently being built in the Ukraine.

The trip will begin in Wilmington at 9 p.m. Wednesday and the rig is expected to cross the Delaware-Maryland border at 9 a.m. Thursday.
The Wednesday evening trip will be trial run of the actual trip which is currently schedule for August 20 of this year.

Sights such as this could become more regular in the future as Governor McDonnell and the Virginia General Assembly have promised to make Wallops Island the east coasts next Cape Canaveral.