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

July or August

? -- SpaceShipTwo Unveiling


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


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


Mid-month -- Jules Verne ATV launch


NET 12/6 -- STS-122 launch


NET 2/14 -- STS-123 launch


NET 4/24 -- STS-124 launch


NET 7/10 -- STS-119 launch


? -- Dragon I launch

NET 9/10 -- STS-125 launch


10/9 -- STS-126 launch

? -- LRO launch

Unknown 2008

? -- SpaceShipTwo test flight


NET 1/15 -- STS-127 launch


? -- Japanese HTV-1 launch


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


NET 7/9 -- STS-129 launch


NET 9/30 -- STS-130 launch


? -- Silver Dart orbital test flight

Unknown 2009

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


NET 4/1 -- STS-132 launch


? -- Ares I-Y launch

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All dates subject to change.


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31 May 2005

+ 3 - 0 | § Opposition To Mars

MarsWhile it won't be as close as the 2003 perigee, Mars will once again be spectacularly close to the Earth this year. While the closes point won't occur until Halloween (GMT), Mars is already becoming brighter in the sky, and the two planets are closing on each other at 23,500 miles per hour.

+ 1 - 1 | § Continuing Voyagers

VoyagerNASA Watch is reporting that NASA Administrator Mike Griffin has decided to keep the Voyager probes alive, reversing an earlier decision by the agency that could have cut funding to the spacecraft. No formal announcement has been made, however.

28 May 2005

+ 1 - 1 | § Today In History

AbleOn this date in 1959, monkeynauts Able and Baker took a 15-minute flight in the nosecone of a Jupiter rocket, becoming the first animals to be recovered alive after a spaceflight. (Though in Able's case, that situation was quickly rectified.)

27 May 2005

+ 1 - 1 | § Today In History


On this date in 1999, the Space Shuttle Discovery launched on the STS-96 mission, the first to dock with the International Space Station.

26 May 2005

+ 1 - 2 | § Miles To Go

Miles O'BrienOK, get the immediate reaction out of the way: As a fan of Deep Space Nine, the idea of Miles O'Brien in space delights me. Anyway, moving on...

It appears that prior to the loss of Columbia, NASA had been close to working out an agreement for CNN reporter Miles O'Brien to become the first reporter to fly on the Space Shuttle, an arrangement which was being eyed as a possible foundation for a program like the one being developed in the pre-Challenger mid-80s in which reporters, artists, writers and other civilians would fly on the Shuttle and share their experiences.

I'm more than a little surprised to learn about this, particularly given how much the agency has stressed that the upcoming flight of Educator Astronaut Barbara Morgan is not like the old Teacher In Space program -- Morgan is a fully trained career astronaut, just like any other member of NASA's corps. Time and again it was stressed that NASA was not going to be flying a civilian.

Of course, that apparently still would have been the case with O'Brien, who reportedly would have dedicated two years to preparation for his flight. Even so, his role would have been very different than that of Morgan, who's dedication is fully to NASA, since O'Brien would have been on the crew representing an outside agency.

With the upcoming retirement of the Shuttle fleet, and the uncertainty of what exactly the post-Shuttle future will entail, the program now seems unlikely to get off the ground.

+ 1 - 1 | § Rollback


Discovery began its several-hour journey back to the Vehicle Assembly Building this morning at 6:44 a.m. EDT. After being mated to a new External Tank, the stack will be rolled out to the pad again in mid-June, in preparation for a launch still scheduled for NET July 13.

25 May 2005

+ 0 - 2 | § 7 UP, Up And Away

7UP CommercialFrom Yahoo:
Famed astronaut Buzz Aldrin announced today that the next time you reach UP for a can of Diet 7UP, newly reformulated with SPLENDA® Brand Sweetener, you could be reaching for the stars. In partnership with the X PRIZE Foundation, creators of the $10 million ANSARI X PRIZE, the Diet 7UP Free Ticket to Space sweepstakes takes off this week on The sweepstakes will run through August 31, 2005, and will award one lucky consumer the chance to fly to the edge of suborbital space on an FAA-approved commercial space flight.

The sweepstakes is supported by a groundbreaking national TV ad campaign filmed in an authentic zero-gravity environment, aboard G-Force One(TM) -- a plane that simulates the unique experience of weightlessness.

+ 3 - 0 | § Today In History

SL-2 launch

On this date in 1973, the first crew of Skylab launched on their way to the station. The launch had been delayed for 10 days to allow time for round-the-clock work to find fixes to problems which occurred during Skylab's launch on May 14. The crew of Pete Conrad, Joseph Kerwin and Paul Weitz during their stay were able to repair the crippled spacecraft into fully operational mode.

Also on this date, in 1961, President Kennedy told Congress, "First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish."

+ 2 - 1 | § Positive Discovery

DiscoveryAs was announced a while back, before Discovery launches for the STS-114 mission, scheduled for July, the stack currently on the launch pad will have to be rolled back to the Vehicle Assembly Building to be mated to a new External Tank.

That rollback was delayed recently, though, when cracks were discovered in the landing gear equipment on Atlantis, also currently being prepared for launch, so that Discovery could be checked to make sure it had no similar problems. That check has been completed, and Discovery's landing gear door mechanism has been found to be in good shape, clearing the way for a rollback scheduled for tomorrow.

+ 0 - 2 | § These Are The Voyagers...

VoyagerTo be honest, I can't remember exactly how much of this is actually new information, but it's still pretty darned cool.
Per Spaceflight Now:
NASA's inteprid Voyager 1 space probe has begun its journey to the stars and is now exploring the farthest reaches of the Sun's influence where the solar wind strangely interacts with interstellar space, agency officials formally announced on Tuesday.
The boundary crossed in December marks a point where charged particles constantly emitted from the Sun called the solar wind slow down from hundreds of miles per second to subsonic speeds. This is due to pressure from the interstellar wind, or the gas blowing between stars likely resulting from ancient nearby supernovae.
This shock also causes the temperature of the solar wind to significantly increase from about 200,000 degrees to over a million degrees due to the increased density of the particles once inside the heliosheath, which extends out to the heliopause and bow shock - the last official boundaries encountered before entering interstellar space.

24 May 2005

+ 1 - 1 | § Today In History

Aurora 7 launch

On this date in 1962, Scott Carpenter became the second American to orbit the Earth following the launch of his Aurora 7 Mercury spacecraft.

+ 2 - 1 | § Sail Away

CosmosThe Planetary Society's Cosmos 1 spacecraft, which will feature the first solar sail propulsion system to be tested in space, has been scheduled for launch on June 21.

23 May 2005

+ 2 - 1 | § Ad-ing Up

Joe Allen with For Sale signThe FAA is seeking authority to regulate advertising in Earth orbit, which would enable it to bar space billboards that could be seen from the surface.

+ 1 - 2 | § Show Me The Euros

KlipperRussia's proposed Soyuz-successor Klipper spacecraft is taking a major step closer to becoming a reality with the announcement that the European Space Agency may help foot the bill for the vehicle's development. Rosaviakosmos has been touting the plans for the vehicle for quite a while now, at the same time hinting that it would be much more likely to fly someday if a partner agency would step in with some money.

+ 2 - 1 | § Never Forget

STS-107The Orlando Sentinel this weekend published a rather touching story about the families of the astronauts of Columbia's STS-107 crew.

+ 3 - 0 | § Reach

Reach video clipOK, I thought this was a really cool video, and I'd love to see it get wider play.
The story behind it is here.

+ 2 - 1 | § If You Believe...

DiamandisThough the launch date of the first commercial suborbital spaceflights is still very much in question (at least a year and a half away, and possibly longer), X Prize founder Peter Diamandis believes that private orbital flights are only five to eight years away, and private lunar missions will follow not far behind that, possibly with far larger stakes than just tourism.

On a related note, also has an article about the current state of Virgin Galactic.

20 May 2005

+ 1 - 2 | § Passing In The Martian Night

Mars Odyssey
The image above is a picture of NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft taken by the Mars Global Surveyor orbiter. The picture was part of a batch the agency released of the first images one spacecraft orbiting another planet has taken of other spacecraft.

+ 1 - 2 | § Abandon Ship?

NASA may have to partially abandon the International Space Station if the Bush administration can't figure a way around a law that prevents the United States from paying Russia for future flights to the orbiting outpost.
"If we don't have (an) agreement with the Russians, then we won't be able to have people in space for long periods of time," said U.S. Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Science Committee.

18 May 2005

+ 0 - 2 | § Today In History

Apollo 10 lunar image

On this date in 1969, the crew of Apollo 10 launched for the Moon, in the final practice run before the Apollo 11 landing.

17 May 2005

+ 2 - 0 | § Moving Opportunity

MERAfter spending weeks mired in the martian dirt, Opportunity appears to be on its way to moving again, if very slowly.

+ 0 - 2 | § 011100110111010101101110011100110110010101110100

binary sunsetAll right, it's time for some Star-Wars-tie-in science: Astronomers have announced that planets orbiting stars in multi-star systems, as Tatooine does, may actually be pretty common.

16 May 2005

+ 1 - 1 | § The Real Stuff

Canadian ArrowAs the final hours are ticking away before the premiere of the final Star Wars movie, a press conference will be held for another group planning to soon begin carrying people into space for real. For X Prize contender Canadian Arrow has partnered with an American businessman to form commercial spaceliner PLANETSPACE, and will be announcing Wednesday details of its plans to use its V2-inspired rocket to carry passengers on suborbital spaceflights.

+ 0 - 2 | § On A Star Trek

Virts, Bakula and Fincke

Turns out there were two astronauts on Friday's Trek finale. Not only was ISS Expedition 9 Science Officer Mike Fincke in the show (which I'd heard about beforehand and spotted during the episode), but so was unflown astronaut Terry Virts.

+ 2 - 0 | § Expedition 12

McArthurThe next International Space Station crew, scheduled to launch in October, has been officially announced. The crew will be commanded by astronaut Bill McArthur, who had originally been assigned to last year's Expedition 9. McArthur is a veteral of three spaceflights, including one of the final assembly missions to the ISS before it was crewed.

Joining McArthur will be cosmonaut Valery Tokarev. Originally selected as part of the group that will fly Buran, Tokarev has made only one spaceflight, on the STS-96 mission of the Shuttle (meaning that his launch to ISS will be the first time the cosmonaut has flown on a Russian vehicle).

NASA has also confirmed that another ISS crew member will be awaiting Exp. 12 when they arrive. ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter is scheduled to catch a ride to the Station aboard Atlantis on its STS-121 mission in September. Reiter, who will be the first non-NASA or -RSA astronaut to spent a long-duration stay on the ISS, is scheduled to begin his mission around the 10th anniversary of his previous spaceflight, a 179-day stay on Mir.

14 May 2005

+ 2 - 0 | § Today In History

SL-1 launch

On this date in 1973, the Skylab space station was launched, using the final Saturn V booster to ever fly.

13 May 2005

+ 1 - 1 | § RTF Update

STS-114As of today, it's now two months until Return to Flight.

(Which would seem cooler if we hadn't posted weeks ago that it was only one month until RTF. [In fact, it wasn't all that long ago that the launch was scheduled for Sunday.])

+ 2 - 0 | § The Sky Is Falling

AustraliaAustralia's government was embarrassed yesterday after an e-mail was mistakenly sent out saying, "This is a message to let you know that Perth is dangerous at this time of year."
Perhaps the e-mail's author was thinking of the city's summer tendency to be targetted by falling space stations.

+ 1 - 1 | § Scheduling Aera

Aera logoAera Corp. has begun selling tickets for its commercial spaceflight service, which it says will begin launching passengers on suborbital spaceflights in December 2006.
Which strikes me as awfully optimistic for a company whose spacecraft exists solely on paper at this point. Aera plans to develop, build and flight test a new seven-person spacecraft and a launch vehicle in about a year and a half.

12 May 2005

+ 1 - 1 | § Another Way?

ISS artThree interesting statements made recently by NASA head Mike Griffin:

  1. It may not be possible to complete the International Space Station by 2010.
  2. The Space Shuttle will be retired by 2010.
  3. The Space Station will will be completed.

For all three of those statements to be true, as Griffin acknowledges, it may be neccessary to find another means to complete ISS. No word on what that would be, but only one solution seems possible -- bringing a new heavy-lift vehicle online in the next five years or so.
It's not an impossible idea -- in fact, there are two rather easy ways of doing it -- but it would require serious dedication, soon.

+ 1 - 0 | § Oh, Crap!

Cyborg MonkeyIn yet another example of scientists being so concerned with whether they could do a thing that they don't stop to think about whether they should do a thing, researchers at Duke University have brought humanity a step closer to subjugation by giving monkeys powerful robot limbs!

Keywords: monkeys,robot_holocaust,science

11 May 2005

+ 2 - 0 | § X Files

X-37The design of the formerly Marshall-managed X-37 is apparently about to soon undergo atmospheric testing. White Knight, the Scaled Composites mothership used to launch SpaceShipOne will carry the now-DARPA-run vehicle aloft for approach and landing drop tests at an undisclosed point in the future. While dates of the tests won't be announced in advance, ground-based taxi runs have already been conducted. The X-37, which was being used by NASA as a technology demonstrator associated with Orbital Space Plane development, was transferred to DARPA during the switch from OSP to CEV.

There has been speculation that the X-37 could be the foundation of a future space bomber.

+ 0 - 2 | § What So Proudly We Hailed

VAB flagRoughly eight months after it was damaged during the hurricanes that battered Florida, the giant flag on KSC's Vehicle Assembly Building has been repaired. (As recently as when I saw it a week and a half ago, the flag -- and VAB -- were still visibly marred, and every time I passed the building, crews were suspended on its exterior making repairs.) There's still much work yet to be done on the VAB, but the flag repair is easily visible proof of the progress that has been made so far.

+ 1 - 3 | § Another Pic Of The Wall

Great Wall of ChinaThis blog has reported before on the can-you-or-can't-you discussions about whether the Great Wall of China is visible from space. While the original claims that you can were complete myths with pre-space-age roots, they do have a slight grain of truth to them. Astronaut Leroy Chiao took pictures of the Wall while on ISS, though said he could not actually see it himself while taking the pictures.

+ 1 - 1 | § RTF Update

STS-114So apparently the launch of Discovery is scheduled for 3:51 p.m. EDT on Wed., July 13, though that, of course, is subject to change.

10 May 2005

+ 0 - 2 | § CEV ASAP

LockMart CEVPer UPI:
NASA Administrator Michael Griffin moved rapidly to install his strategy to build America's next-generation spaceship by 2010, the Washington Post reported.
Griffin plans to assemble an Apollo-style team of experts to recommend two finalists by the end of July to develop a new workhorse exploration vehicle, according to internal memorandums the newspaper obtained.

+ 2 - 1 | § Space Bar

ShuttlesSo apparently when you're visiting the Kennedy Space Center area, to get the full experience, you need to check out Shuttles, the bar closest to KSC.

09 May 2005

+ 2 - 0 | § t/Spacecraft

Coronat/Space, an alliance of aerospace experts formed in response to the Vision for Space Exploration, has made a proposal to NASA to develop a new spacecraft on the cheap in three years, which would make it available to transfer ISS crews well before the Shuttles retired. The proposal would involve the development of a four-person air-launched (did I mention that Burt Rutan's a member of the t/Space team?) capsule, with a design based on the Discoverer/Corona spy satellite program (picture at right, click for more info and a chance to enlarge). Cost for development and delivery of the first craft would be $400 million.

+ 2 - 0 | § RTF Update

STS-114So it turns out that the SRBs and ET I saw about a week ago at KSC won't actually be used for the Return to Flight launch. Confirming speculation, NASA has officially announced it will roll Discovery back from the launch pad to the VAB at then end of the month to stack the Orbiter with a new tank and SRBs. A second rollout will be held in mid-June.

07 May 2005

+ 0 - 2 | § Today In History

STS-49 launch

On this date in 1992, the final Space Shuttle Orbiter, OV-105 Endeavour, was launched on its maiden mission, STS-49.

06 May 2005

+ 2 - 1 | § Lost Lander Found

MPLThe Mars Polar Lander, which crashed on the Red Planet over five years ago for reasons as yet undetermined, may have been found.

05 May 2005

+ 0 - 2 | § Today In History

Freedom 7

On this date in 1961, the era of American manned spaceflight began with the launch of Alan Shepard on the Freedom 7 Mercury mission, using a Huntsville-developed Redstone rocket.

04 May 2005

+ 1 - 1 | § Aquarids Peak

AquaridsPer Space Weather:
The eta Aquarid meteor shower peaks on May 5th and 6th. The best time to look, no matter where you live, is during the hours before local sunrise on both days.

This is mainly a southern hemisphere shower, but northern observers can see it, too. In the United States, for example, observers far from city lights might see 5 to 10 meteors per hour. In Australia or South America, rates are better, between 15 and 60 meteors per hour.

+ 2 - 2 | § The Future Of Hubble?

Hubble servicingPer Florida Today:
NASA will resume work on a space shuttle flight to save the Hubble Space Telescope, although the agency has not made a final decision to fly the mission, the agency’s new administrator Michael Griffin said Friday.
Griffin promised a review of the shuttle mission to begin after the fleet returned to space. When NASA decided this week to delay the first post-Columbia shuttle mission to July, Griffin decided to go ahead with the Hubble prep work now just in case.

+ 0 - 2 | § A Lift To The Moon

LockMart CEVLockheed Martin has made public its proposed design for the Crew Exploration Vehicle, one of the submissions NASA received Monday. The LockMart proposal features a lifting body design that could be outfitted with different modules for lunar or martian missions.

+ 2 - 0 | § End Of An Era

Titan launchIf anyone's interested, Spaceflight Now has an article about the Titan launch I watched Friday and its historical import.