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+ 1 - 2 | § Russia flies to Mars in 2014

For amusement purposes only.

+ 1 - 2 | § Columbia Won't Be Coming Home Today

Song by a friend of Lain.

+ 3 - 1 | § SPACE.com Quiz: Great Space Mysteries

I got 9 out of 10. Can you beat that?

+ 2 - 3 | § Fire reported in the Vehicle Assembly Building

Small fire doesn't appear to have caused significant damage at this time.

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2007
June

NET 6/8 -- STS-117 launch
6/20 -- Dawn launch
Late June -- Genesis II launch

July or August

? -- SpaceShipTwo Unveiling

August

8/3 -- Mars Phoenix launch
NET 8/9 -- STS-118 launch

October

10/6 -- Exp. 16 Soyuz launch
NET 10/20 -- STS-120 launch

November

Mid-month -- Jules Verne ATV launch

December

NET 12/6 -- STS-122 launch


2008
February

NET 2/14 -- STS-123 launch

April

NET 4/24 -- STS-124 launch

July

NET 7/10 -- STS-119 launch

September

? -- Dragon I launch

NET 9/10 -- STS-125 launch

October

10/9 -- STS-126 launch

? -- LRO launch

Unknown 2008

? -- SpaceShipTwo test flight


2009
January

NET 1/15 -- STS-127 launch

February

? -- Japanese HTV-1 launch

April

? -- Ares I-X launch
NET 4/9 -- STS-128 launch

July

NET 7/9 -- STS-129 launch

September

NET 9/30 -- STS-130 launch

December

? -- Silver Dart orbital test flight

Unknown 2009

Mid-year -- Silver Dart flight
Fall -- Mars Science Lab launch
? -- DreamChaser suborbital flight
? -- Rocketplane XP first flight


2010
April

NET 4/1 -- STS-132 launch


2012
September

? -- Ares I-Y launch


Other Missions
STS-131 STS-133 Shenzhou VII Shenzhou IX Shenzhou X
All dates subject to change.

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30 December 2004


+ 2 - 1 | § Speeding The Future


ShuttleThe Huntsville Times today has an article interviewing Skylab and Shuttle astronaut Owen Garriott about the retirement of Shuttle and creation of CEV.
In essence, Garriott argues that the schedule of remaining Shuttle flights should be stripped to 10 to 15, and the development of the Crew Exploration Vehicle accelerated to reduce or eliminate a gap between the two vehicles.

29 December 2004


+ 2 - 2 | § ROCKVISS Update


ROCKVISSA European collectSPACE forum member was kind enough to direct me to an article about the ROCKVISS robot I posted about a couple of days ago. If I'm reading the article correctly, ROCKVISS won't actually be doing maintenance work, but is instead a roughly 20-inch-long robot arm technology demonstrator which will be tested outside the ISS to verify its ability to function in space.


+ 1 - 3 | § Virgin Territory


BransonWired's cover story this month is about Richard Branson and Virgin Galactic. I just got my copy in the last couple of days and haven't read the article yet (I'm waiting to read it in the magazine), so I don't have any comments.


+ 2 - 2 | § RTF Update


STS-114An external tank that is "the safest, most dependable tank NASA has ever produced" will leave the Michoud Assembly Facility Friday to travel via barge to Kennedy Space Center for stacking in preparation for Return To Flight.

28 December 2004


+ 1 - 2 | § No Impact


asteroid orbit chartWell, it turns out that Earth won't be celebrating the 59th anniversary of the "Houston, we've had a problem here" Apollo 13 oxygen tank explosion by getting blown up real good. Astronomers have determined that asteroid 2004 MN4 won't hit Earth on April 13, 2029.

27 December 2004


+ 2 - 2 | § Rockviss?


So, in reading about the Progress that docked with ISS Saturday, I came across a story that made passing reference to the fact that it contained the German "Rockviss" robot. Further research revealed that this is a robot that will be mounted to the Station's exterior and will be able to perform maintenance tasks of the sort that would normally be done by astronauts on EVA. From what I've read, it's apparently similar in intent to the Canadian "Dextre" manipulator that will be added to the Station's Canadarm2 robot arm, or NASA's less technologically mature Robonaut. Odd that this is the first time I've heard of it. Also odd that, to the best of my recollection, it hasn't been brought up during the Hubble robotic servicing discussions, since it's actually flight-ready hardware. Fascinating.


+ 2 - 2 | § Christmas In Space


ProgressThe international spaceflight community was able to breathe a collective sigh of relief Christmas Day with the successful docking of the Progress M-51 spacecraft to the International Space Station, delivering much-needed food and defusing the chance of a shortage causing the Station to be decrewed. The spacecraft carried twice as much food as well be needed to last until the next Progress arrives in March.


+ 2 - 2 | § Five Planets


VenusAll five of the visible-eye planets can be seen at the same time this week during the morning; Saturn's in the west, the rest of in the east.

25 December 2004


+ 1 - 2 | § Updates


ProgressIn case you haven't had time to keep up with the latest space goings-on, the Russian Progress supply vehicle launched successfully Thursday and is expected to rendezvous with ISS today; and the Huygens probe successfully separated from Cassini, and is on its way to a Jan. 14 encounter with Titan.

24 December 2004


+ 1 - 4 | § Today In History



Apollo 8 Earthrise

On this date, 36 years ago, the Apollo 8 crew became the first human beings to orbit another world.
While there, they sent back Christmas greetings from space, which this blog would like to echo.

23 December 2004


+ 1 - 3 | § Administrator Update


According to NASA Watch, Rep. Bob Walker is not under consideration for the NASA administrator job. The names known to still be in consideration are Steidle, Kadish and Worden.


+ 1 - 3 | § Picture Of The Day


heatshield
There's just something I find awe-inspiring and incredible about encountering another man-made object on an alien world, about coming across something constructed in the magnificent desolation around it. It happened on Apollo 12 with the Surveyor 3 lander, and now Opportunity has come close enough to take this pretty cool picture of its heatshield; the two reunited after nearly a year apart. Photo by NASA, via Spaceref.com


+ 0 - 4 | § Heading For Titan


HuygensSince I don't know how much blogging I'll be doing over the holiday weekend, I though I'd go ahead and post this article about Huygens separation from Cassini this weekend and what the probe may encounter when it reaches Titan.


+ 1 - 3 | § Yet Another Shenzhou VI Update


ShenzhouChina, which thus far has proved far more adept at talking alot about sending people into space than at actually sending people into space has announced that the Shenzhou VI launch is scheduled for September 2005. The mission will feature two astronauts in orbit for five days.


+ 2 - 2 | § Bang! Zoom!


MoonNASA has selected six instruments for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which is scheduled to launch to the Moon in fall 2008 (assuming adequate funding). The spacecraft will perform unprecedented studies of the Moon which will be used in choosing landing sites for human exploration.


+ 2 - 2 | § Important Progress


Expedition 10The next few days could be some of the most important to spaceflight thus far this decade. The Progress M51 spacecraft is scheduled to launch this afternoon at 4:19 p.m. CST for a rendezvous with the International Space Station at 5:31 p.m. Christmas Day. The spacecraft carries a much-needed 112-day supply of food. Without that supply, the Expedition 10 crew would run out of food the first week of January, and would have to return to Earth before then, leaving the Space Station unmanned and breaking the string of continuous human presence that began in November 2000.

To be fair, while much is being made of the importance of this launch and the impending disaster, it's important to note that there is no reason to expect a problem, and that every Soyuz launch since February of last year has been equally important--a failure of one crew to reach the Station would have meant that the preceeding crew would have had to leave it unoccupied.

This launch is a slightly bigger deal because, to the best of my knowledge, there have been more problems with Progress dockings than with Soyuz. I don't think there have been any during the ISS program, but there were a few during Mir--in addition to the infamous crash into the Spektre module, there was at least one around the same time which had to be waved off and deorbited without docking.

The ISS will have visible passes over much of the US over the next few days, and on Christmas Day passes, it may be possible to see the Progress approaching Station, which can be cool looking. You can find out when ISS will be visible where you live at SkyWatch.

22 December 2004


+ 1 - 3 | § Marscano!


MarsSo, the cool news first:
Some scientists believe there may be volcanic activity on Mars. There are signs that there has been relatively "recent" (read: in the last 4 million years) volcanic activity, which means the planet is less dormant than conventional wisdom would have once believed. In addition, there's reason to believe that there is still some activity today, including, possibly, hydrothermal systems which could support life.
The down side, though, is that much has been made in the past year about the discovery of methane in the Martian atmosphere. Two possibilities were given as sources for the methane: life, and volcanic activity. Since there was no evidence of volcanic activity, that gave more credence to the theory that there is currently life on Mars. The article above doesn't address this issue, so thus doesn't answer the question of whether the hypothetical volcanoes could be an adequate source for the methane.


+ 1 - 2 | § D4H Away


D4HDespite an unknown glitch that caused its two strap-on CBCs to shut down about 8 seconds early, yesterday's demonstration launch of Boeing's Delta 4 Heavy rocket is being considered a success. The new launch vehicle completed all phases of the flight, but the premature engine shutdown left it shy of its intended orbit.

21 December 2004


+ 1 - 2 | § Today In History


Soyuz TM-4 crewOn this date in 1987, the Soviet Soyuz TM-4 capsule launched to the Mir space station, and on this date in 1988, the crew returned to Earth, having become the first humans to spend a year in space.


+ 2 - 1 | § Captive Audience


Rocket BoysPer The Huntsville Times:
Homer Hickam of Huntsville, best-selling author of the book "Rocket Boys" and other stories about Coalwood, W.Va., got an unexpected card in the mail last week.
It was from Alderson Federal Prison Camp in West Virginia:
"Dear Mr. Hickam: Thank you so much for the books and DVD. I will definitely have time to read them. I very much appreciate your thoughtfulness and kind words.
"Cordially, Martha Stewart (dictated by Stewart and signed in her absence)."


+ 2 - 1 | § Picture Of The Year


solar storm
The Nexus-like photo above is one of several candidates you can vote for in Space.com's Best Images Of 2004 contest.


+ 1 - 2 | § Unusual Opportunity


heat shieldThe Mars rover Opportunity is drawing near its discarded heat shield, which was jettisoned during the landing process. The MER team is looking forward to being able to study both the crater the shield made at impact, and how well the shield itself weathered Martian atmospheric entry.


+ 2 - 1 | § RTF Update


STS-114To be honest, I haven't even read it myself, but if anyone's interested, Spaceflight Now has a 10-part, 11,600-word report about the STS-114 Return to Flight mission.


+ 2 - 1 | § Heavy News Update


After many delays, Boeing's new Delta IV Heavy rocket is scheduled for launch today at 1:36 p.m. CST.

20 December 2004


+ 0 - 3 | § RTF Update


STS-114Here's a report from Florida Today about the Return To Flight Task Group meeting I attended Thursday:
NASA faces no showstoppers in its bid to return the shuttles to space in May or June as planned, an independent oversight panel said Thursday. ...
"Right now, we don't see anything that stands in front of the agency that can't be accomplished in order to make the May-June launch window," said Richard Covey, a retired astronaut who co-chairs the task force assigned to review whether the space agency meets the recommendations of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board.


+ 2 - 0 | § Oh, Voyager


I can't find a link, but apparently The Economist has reported that after the VSS Enterprise, the second Virgin Galactic spacecraft will be the VSS Voyager.


+ 1 - 1 | § The Next Admin


According to NASA Watch, the four former astronauts on early lists are no longer in consideration for the NASA administrator job, nor is JPL director Elachi.
Kadish and Worden are apparently still on the list, but now with two names above theirs: Exploration Systems head Bob Walker, who served this year on the president's "Moon, Mars and Beyond" commission.
Addendum: Space Politics on Worden.


+ 0 - 3 | § Final Answers


O'KeefeSpaceref.com has a transcript of Sean O'Keefe's press conference about his resignation, in which he answers numerous questions about the past and future of NASA (and, in particular, the Vision and Hubble).


+ 1 - 2 | § Picture Of The Day


Saturn and Dione
Saturn and Dione. Courtesy NASA.

17 December 2004


+ 1 - 1 | § Congrats, Sean


Looks like O'Keefe got the job.

16 December 2004


+ 1 - 1 | § Congrats, Rovers!


roverPer AP:
The conclusive discovery by a pair of wheeled robots that Mars once had vast pools of water and possibly could have harbored life was chosen by the editors of the journal Science as the most important scientific achievement of 2004.


+ 0 - 3 | § This Week At NE


NEIt's all Maggie this week at NASAexplores, with one story about Soyuz training and another about how eyes are affected by spaceflight.

15 December 2004


+ 2 - 0 | § Today In History


GeminiOn this date in 1965, the first rendezvous of manned spacecraft was conducted by the Gemini 6A and 7 crews.


+ 1 - 1 | § The Search


O'KeefeNASA Watch has an update on the NASA Administrator search, and is predicting that, not only will a new administrator be named tomorrow, as was said during the weekend, but that a decision won't be made until after the holidays.

14 December 2004


+ 1 - 2 | § Today In History


Apollo 17On this date 32 years ago, humans walked on the surface of the Moon for the last time, before Apollo 17's Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt departed the lunar surface to return to Earth.


+ 0 - 3 | § Clouds Over Mars


cloudsAs they continue to find more evidence that liquid water once existed on Mars, the two MER rovers are also making more sitings of forms of water on Mars today, including pictures of Earth-like clouds in the sky, and of frost that has formed on the rovers.

13 December 2004


+ 0 - 2 | § Light That Candle!


Shenzhou lighterHere's something else I wouldn't mind having: A replica of the Chinese Long March rocket that is also a lighter. Celebrate the first manned Shenzhou flight while smokin' up a cigar!


+ 2 - 0 | § Picture Of The Day


moon
Spaceweather.com has several cool pictures of last week's Jovian eclipse.


+ 1 - 1 | § Portal Prose


downlinkLast week, my first story not written for NASAexplores was posted in the For Educators section of the NASA homepage, a piece about school students who got to talk to the International Space Station.

12 December 2004


+ 2 - 1 | § Meatier Meteor Shower


GeminidsThere's one more meteor shower left this year, and it should be the best show of 2004. The Geminid meteor shower will peak Monday night around midnight.


+ 1 - 1 | § Bad News




No!




oh, man, that sucks

11 December 2004


+ 2 - 0 | § Heavy News Update


Delta 4 HeavyAnother scrub today for the Delta IV Heavy. Next launch opportunity is tomorrow afternoon.


+ 1 - 1 | § RTF Update


STS-114Per NASA:
NASA reached another major Return to Flight milestone this week with installation of the three main engines that will help launch Space Shuttle Discovery on its Return to Flight mission. Installation was completed Dec. 8 at the Orbiter Processing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

10 December 2004


+ 2 - 1 | § A Little Bit Of Mars At Home!


Mars Space SandLooking for a cool stocking stuffer for a kid on your Christmas gift? (I mean, of course, it'd be for a kid, right, I mean, I know none of my readers would take advantage of the holiday to buy cool stuff for themselves like I do) Apparently, there's a new rage for Mars Space Sand, which is ordinary sand which has been rendered hydrophobic by 100 percent pure science! Put it in water and take it out, and it doesn't get wet! In addition be being fun to play with, it's actually used for simulating the Martian environment, which means you can buy several bags and pretend you're actually on Mars! (To complete the simulation, turn the air-conditioner way up and don't breathe.)


+ 3 - 0 | § Old-School Future


CEVBACK IN THE DAY, there were three techniques seen as ways to get to the Moon. One was called direct ascent, and was the simplest: A rocket takes off from Earth, and, after staging, the crew compartment lands on the Moon, from whence it takes off, flies back to Earth, and lands.

The next was called Earth-Orbit Rendezvous, and was the one pushed initially by von Braun; it's the one that was presented in his Disney specials and elsewhere. Multiple rockets carry parts of a lunar spacecraft into Earth orbit, where they are assembled, and the assembled spacecraft then flies to the Moon, landing and returning as in direct ascent. The advantage of this one is that it gives you greater lunar spacecraft mass for less launch vehicle capability.

The third, and the one that was actually used was called Lunar-Orbit Rendezvous, and it was the use of this technique that allowed the U.S. to complete the Moon landing by Kennedy's deadline. Rather than the entire spacecraft landing on and departing from the Moon, a separate lunar spacecraft is used for lunar descent and ascent, and then docks with the primary spacecraft, which was used for translunar and trans-Earth injection. That way, you don't have to worry about landing your TEI propulsion system and fuel on the Moon safely and getting it back into lunar orbit; you're allowed a smaller, more nimble lunar craft.

The interesting thing is that when the decision was made, it seems options two and three were seen as competing possibilities, you either did one or the other. I don't know enough about the exact history to know how real this perception was at the time and how much it's hindsight, nor how it came about.

But, regardless, Apollo used an LOR system without an EOR system; the entire spacecraft system was launched atop a single Saturn V for each mission.

Today, though, it appears NASA is rethinking that system: the latest CEV documents reveal a combination EOR/LOR system, featuring a CEV which would be launched with a crew and then dock with a propulsion unit which would carry it out of Earth orbit and a lunar descent/ascent spacecraft. While more complicated, this system appears to offer the greatest benefits in terms of how much you can transfer to and from the Moon (and may also reflect the lack of a Saturn-V-class heavy true launch vehicle and the disinclination to develop one).

Also, the documents reflect a crew size of no less than four for the CEV.

09 December 2004


+ 0 - 2 | § buySPACE


collectSPACEOf all the posts I've written extolling the wonders of collectSPACE, I don't think I've written anything specifically about the buySPACE section, where you can buy some very very cool space stuff.


+ 2 - 0 | § More Hubble Trouble


Hubble servicingThis blog has been largely ignoring the recent reports arguing for NASA to use the Shuttle for a final servicing mission instead of relying on a robotic mission, partically because I have mixed feelings on the issue, but largely because a lot of reports come out a lot saying a lot of stuff but not neccessarily actually meaning anything.

However, according to Space Politics, the recent Hubble reports are having an impact in the halls of Congress:

In a statement, House Science Committee chairman Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) promised to hold hearings early next year on the report, while the committee's ranking minority member, Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN), called on NASA to "heed the Academies' assessment and move forward to implement its recommendations". Florida Today reported Rep. Dave Weldon (R-FL) supports a shuttle mission, saying that he "wasn't sure that our level of sophistication in robotics was sufficient" to support a robotic servicing mission. ...

The Houston Chronicle quoted Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), widely expected to succeed Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) as chair of the Senate Commerce Committee's space subcommittee, as saying that a shuttle Hubble repair is "the right thing to do." Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) told Florida Today that he would also push for a shuttle repair mission, and also called for Congressional hearings on the subject.


This will be an interesting story to keep an eye on. O'Keefe has been pretty adamant against a Shuttle servicing mission, but, with Congress having just approved the full FY05 budget request and the agency needing continuing support for the Vision, one has to wonder whether maintaining good will will become a factor.


+ 1 - 1 | § Days Of The Comet


Comet MachholzThis is another of those things that I'll never be able to see personally, but there is currently a comet that is visible to the naked eye. Comet Machholz will be visible (to some, at least) in December and January, reaching perigee on Jan. 5-6.


+ 0 - 2 | § Legalizing The Future


SS1Presumed by many to be dead in the water for the current session of Congress, a bill legalizing private space tourism was passed yesterday in the final minutes of the 108th Congress.


+ 2 - 1 | § Heavy News


Delta 4 HeavyA rocket which could play an important role in the future of exploration will get its debut tomorrow when the first Delta 4 Heavy booster launches from Cape Canaveral. One of the most powerful boosters (if not the most powerful EELV) currently in existence, the D4H is a candidate for carrying the Crew Exploration Vehicle. In addition, Boeing has said that a "super-Heavy" version of the Delta 4 could someday match the lift capabilities of the Saturn V. While that rocket would be greatly expanded from the D4H, it would require a multi-CBC configuration, which will be flown for the first time tomorrow.


+ 2 - 1 | § This Week At NE


DSNFor the second week in a row, it's all Dave at NASAexplores, with one story about NASA's Deep Space Network, which is how controllers stay in touch with spacecraft around our solar system and beyond, and another story about the Cassini spacecraft currently kicking scientific butt in orbit around Saturn.

08 December 2004


+ 2 - 1 | § Watching Their Weightlessness


ChiaoNASA to Alpha:

Eat less.


+ 1 - 1 | § 2005 And Beyond


BeyondcollectSPACE.com has announced that artist Pat Rawlings, famous for his visions of the future of spaceflight, make autographed copies of a 2005 calendar or his work available through Countdown Creations.


+ 0 - 2 | § Age Of Aquarius


Apollo 13If you don't yet have a copy of Apollo 13 on DVD, you may want to wait until March 29, when the Apollo 13:Anniversary Edition will be released; but it sounds like that may be the only reason you'd want to shell out money for this two-disc set, which apparently disappointingly only combines the original one-disc special edition with a second disc containing the shorter IMAX cut of the film. Maybe more features will be announced later.

That said, if you don't yet have this movie on DVD, you're really missing out--The Jim and Marilyn Lovell commentary by itself is worth the price.


+ 2 - 0 | § The Last Peenemundians


Konrad DannenbergUSA Today has an interesting article today about some of the remaining members of the von Braun rocket team.

07 December 2004


+ 1 - 3 | § Forever Young


NASA TVNASA TV will air a special tribute to retiring Gemini, Apollo and Shuttle astronaut John Young tonight at 7 p.m. CST, according to collectSPACE.com.


+ 0 - 4 | § Don't Overestimate The Darkside


moonPer The NY Post:
'LOST"? Those castaways on the new hit drama series are hardly misplaced compared to the latest "shipwrecked" show.
Plans are under way at Fox which wants to make a "Lost" of its own for a new series about a group of of astronauts who go missing after tracing a distress signal to the dark side of the moon.
When they arrive on the other side of moon which is cloaked in perpetual darkness and beyond radio contact with earth they discover a mysterious compound.

Great idea, except that there is no "dark" side of the Moon--the far side gets just as much sunlight as the near (or a little more, I guess, since it's never in Earth's shadow).


+ 2 - 2 | § RTF Update


STS-114Per Space.com:
NASA is close to meeting all of the return-to-flight safety requirements set by Columbia accident investigators and should be able to launch a shuttle by May 2005, shuttle program officials said today.
"I am confident we can launch in the May to June timeframe," said Bill Parsons, space shuttle program manager, during a briefing with reporters. "We're really looking forward to that...I think everyone is ready for that launch."

However, while crew safety is considered paramount for the upcoming launch, the Orbiter itself will be considered expendable in the event in the event of STS-107-type TPS damage, since the TPS repair system will not be completed for STS-114. (Atually, in the event of damage at the level experienced during 107, there would probably be little that could be done for the Orbiter anyway)

06 December 2004


+ 1 - 2 | § Jovian Eclipse


If you're the sort of person who's into this sort of thing, the Moon will eclipse Jupiter in the morning from around 3 a.m. CST for around an hour or so, depending on where you are.


+ 1 - 3 | § The Real Neil


ArmstrongThe first authorized biography of Neil Armstrong, First Man, by James Hansen, will be released in October 2005, according to collectSPACE.

Keywords: apollo,books,collectspace,history,space



+ 1 - 3 | § Today In History


Zarya and Unity

On this date in 1988, assembly of the International Space Station began as the crew of STS-88 mated the Unity node module launched in the Shuttle's cargo bay with the Russian Zarya module launched 16 days earlier.


+ 0 - 3 | § RTF Update


STS-114NASA has ended its post-9/11 policy of not announcing Space Shuttle launch times before the day of the launch. The launch of STS-114 is currently scheduled for 4:11 p.m. EDT on May 14, 2005.

03 December 2004


+ 2 - 2 | § Space Gifts For Kids


An ATW reader wrote me recently about getting a nephew interested in space, so I started a thread on collectSPACE about good space gift ideas for kids.


+ 2 - 2 | § End Of An Era


John YoungAs NASA begins the process of returning humans to the Moon, it's losing the last member of the astronaut corps to actually have been there.
Per Spaceport News:
NASA is saying goodbye to a living legend and a giant within the Agency this month with the retirement of John Young. ...
His career truly defines the history of NASA success: He was the first person to fly into space
six times. He first flew with Gus Grissom in the Gemini program in 1965.
He walked on the Moon with Charlie Duke as [commander] of Apollo 16 in 1972. He commanded STS-1, the first Space Shuttle launchin 1981, and flew his final mission on STS-9 in 1983, the first Spacelab mission.
In reality, this only begins to scratch the surface. John Young will be missed, but his legacy of success, triumph and accomplishment will live on at NASA.

I found the news rather shocking, I assumed that Young would spend the rest of his life in the astronaut corps. Young was a member of the second group of astronauts selected, and the first American other than the Mercury Seven to fly into space. He was the first man to solo around the Moon. His wealth of experience has been a great asset for the agency, and will be missed.


+ 0 - 3 | § DART Update


DARTThe DART spacecraft, which came within 24 hours of launch in October, is now at least three months away from launch, due to the lack of availability of facilities needed for launch.


+ 1 - 3 | § One More Year


SoyuzNASA officials have reached a tentative agreement with Russia for the use of Soyuz vehicles during 2006, after the current ISS Soyuz deal expires at the end of 2005. The deal, however, apears to only delay an inevitable crisis for another year, since there appears to be zero chance the U.S. will have its own crew-return capability by the end of 2006, and is calling in the last of its favors in this deal.


+ 1 - 3 | § SSME RIP?


SSMEIn an interesting bit of news, Boeing has announced it plans to shut down its Rocketdyne engine-manufacturing plant by 2010, in connection with the end of the Space Shuttle program. (The Space Shuttle Main Engine is one of the facility's major product lines.) The news is interesting to me in that, though the Shuttle itself will be retired around the end of the decade, there is talk about the need for a heavy launch vehicle for the Vision, and one of the proposed ways to meet that need is via a Shuttle-derived heavy booster, a la the Shuttle-C proposed in the '80s. Apparently, Boeing either does not believe such a booster is likely or isn't interested in pursuing the idea. (It's worth noting that Boeing also produced the Delta IV rocket, which I reported recently the company believes could be upscaled to a Saturn V-level capability.)

02 December 2004


+ 2 - 2 | § Visions Of The Moon


Visions MoonAuthor Frederick Ordway has an interesting piece on collectSPACE about collecting early works about theoretical lunar missions.


+ 1 - 2 | § Today In History


HSM-1
On this date in 1993, the Space Shuttle Endeavour launched on the STS-61 mission, the first servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope.
Photo courtesy NASA.


+ 1 - 2 | § Joint Spacecraft


KlipperThe Moscow News has more information about the proposed Russian Klipper spacecraft.
Energia says that, with adequate funding, the vehicle could be ready to fly in five to seven years, which would make it operational between 2009 and 2011, or around the time the Shuttle is scheduled to stop flying. Of course, "with adequate funding" is Russian for "if other countries give us money." To be honest, I have no clue what the exact provisions of the INA are; I know it prevents the U.S. from buying space hardware from Russia directly, but I'm curious whether it would allow a Joint Strike Fighter-type development of the vehicle, in which we partner on its development and then have their own craft.


+ 1 - 2 | § Earth To The Moon


RSAPer RIA Novosti:
The United States' National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA, has invited the Russian Space Agency to cooperate on a Moon exploration project, Anatoly Perminov, the agency's head, reported to RIA Novosti and a number of Indian media ahead of his trip to India on the Russian President's official delegation. ...
"I replied that the Russian Space Agency was willing to contribute, but that it should be specified in what capacity," he reported, adding that there was a rich Soviet-era space exploration heritage to be used.

I've seen similar stories recently from other nations, so to what extent this was a specific invitation for Rosaviakosmos to join the Vision, or just a general "We want this to be an interational effort," I don't know.


+ 0 - 3 | § This Week At NE


X-43AIt's all Dave this week at NASAexplores, one of those rare times I've got both stories. One is about the recent nigh-Mach-10 flight of the X-43A, while the other is an explanation of orbital debris.

01 December 2004


+ 2 - 2 | § Your Name From The Moon


A collectSPACE member has posted a special offer in which you can have your name written on a card using lead that was carried by astronaut Jim Irwin on the surface of the Moon. The cards sell for $59.


+ 1 - 2 | § The Drive To Explore


WIREDWIRED has posted James Cameron's piece on exploration online:
Something interesting is happening right now as you're reading this. NASA is scrambling, under presidential orders, to prepare for a renewed vision of human exploration beyond Earth. They've generated a plan, and it's a good one. I've sat on the NASA Advisory Council for the past 18 months, which is surely the most interesting period since the Apollo days. NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe has fundamentally reorganized the agency. NASA is figuring out post-shuttle solutions to get people into orbit, how to do the heavy lifting to get big payloads (like interplanetary vehicles) up there, and all the other critical tasks to create human exploration space-systems architecture.


+ 1 - 2 | § After The Soyuz


KlipperThis photo album shows what is supposedly a full-scale mock-up of Russia's proposed Klipper spacecraft. Interesting stuff, but of particular interest to was the one I've posted at right which apparently (there are no captions), depicts the Klipper mounted on the front of Space Shuttle.

Addendum: More details are here. (Upon seeing those pictures, the apparent docking in the picture above is likely just a trick of perspective.)


+ 0 - 3 | § Arrowed!


Canadian ArrowErstwhile X Prize contender Canadian Arrow is still hard at work at its suborbital spacecraft, now pursuing a larger prize--a share of the space tourism industry.