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Friday, September 30, 2011

IMAGE OF THE DAY... With city lights in Australia and the Earth's spectacular airglow below him, astronaut Ron Garan spent his last day onboard the International Space Station (ISS) taking pictures from the Cupola (right-side of pic)... This image was one of more than 25,000 photos that he took during his months-long stay onboard the ISS.

An image of the night side of the Earth that was posted online by astronaut Ron Garan (in Cupola on right) on September 25, 2011.
NASA / Ron Garan - Twitpic.com

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Long March 2F T1 rocket carrying the Tiangong-1 space module launches from China on September 29, 2011 (U.S. Time).
China Manned Space Engineering Office / CCTV

TIANGONG-1 LIFTS OFF... The unmanned prototype of a space station that China plans to launch by the end of this decade will conduct a test docking with an unpiloted Shenzhou spacecraft in November.

A computer simulation showing the Tiangong-1 module and Shenzhou spacecraft docking in low-Earth orbit.
China Manned Space Engineering Office

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

ORION Update... A parachute deployment test for the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle was successfully conducted above the Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizona last week:

A test article containing the Orion spacecraft's 3 parachutes is deployed from a C-130 aircraft above Arizona's Yuma Proving Grounds last week.
NASA

The 3 parachutes for the Orion spacecraft were successfully deployed above Arizona's Yuma Proving Grounds last week.
NASA

The test article—with the 3 parachutes now removed—lies on the desert floor following the successful deployment test in Arizona last week.
NASA

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A U.S. astronaut inspects the Lunar Roving Vehicle, which has mysteriously been turned over on the surface of the Moon in APOLLO 18.

APOLLO 18... The movie has already been out in theaters for almost a month now, but just thought I'd post a link to the review of the sci-fi horror flick on my Film Notes section. Also, click here to get some interesting info by NASA on the real Apollo 18 mission. Turns out— Apollo 18 wasn't canceled at all...just renumbered on the flight manifest. Click on that last link above to get more details on this.

The U.S. astronaut finds a cosmonaut's helmet on the surface of the Moon in APOLLO 18.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

VIDEO OF THE DAY... Check out this awesome time-lapse footage showing the International Space Station (ISS) soaring high above the night side of the Earth. Lightning can be seen flashing inside the majority of cloud layers that the ISS passes over, while the lights from all the cities below are so bright they're being reflected off the sides of the orbiting outpost's laboratory modules...more than 200 miles above. This video comes courtesy of the Infinity Imagined Blog.

Monday, September 19, 2011

HERE'S A NEAT INFOGRAPHIC detailing the different components that make up the Space Launch System...as well as how it compares height-wise to historic vehicles such as the Saturn V rocket and space shuttle. This illustration comes courtesy of Space.com:

See how NASA's new mega rocket, the Space Launch System, measures up for deep space missions in this SPACE.com infographic.
Source: SPACE.com: All about our solar system, outer space and exploration

Saturday, September 17, 2011

An artist's concept of the Space Launch System poised for liftoff at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
NASA

PAVING THE WAY FOR THE FUTURE... The deconstruction of Launch Complex 39B (below) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida is now complete...clearing the path for future vehicles such as the Space Launch System to soar into Earth orbit and beyond from this 'clean pad'.

Launch Complex 39B at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida is now a 'clean pad'...as of September 16, 2011.
NASA / Jim Grossmann

Launch Complex 39B at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida is now a clean pad...as of September 16, 2011.
NASA / Jim Grossmann

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

An artist's concept of the Space Launch System being transported to its pad at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
NASA

IMAGES OF THE DAY: The Space Launch System (SLS) has finally been unveiled...

An artist's concept of the Space Launch System poised for liftoff at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
NASA

A composite image of the Space Launch System, with the Moon looming high above, lifting off from its pad at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
NASA

And here is an animated video of the SLS taking flight:

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

THE ARES I ROCKET MOVES CLOSER TO BECOMING A REALITY...as the Liberty Launch System?

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NASA Begins Commercial Partnership with Alliant Techsystems (Press Release)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA and Alliant Techsystems (ATK) of Salt Lake City have agreed to collaborate on the development of the company's Liberty Launch System as part of the agency's Commercial Crew Development Round 2 activities.

The unfunded Space Act Agreement (SAA) through NASA's Commercial Crew Program will allow the agency and ATK to review and discuss Liberty system requirements, safety and certification plans, computational models of rocket stage performance, and avionics architecture designs. The agreement outlines key milestones including an Initial System Design review, during which ATK will present to NASA officials the Liberty systems level requirements, preliminary design, and certification process development.

"This agreement will provide the opportunity to look at the Liberty system to understand its design solution and risks, its capabilities and how it could be used to fly our NASA crew," said Ed Mango, NASA's Commercial Crew Program manager. The program is based at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

NASA will provide feedback to ATK based on its human spaceflight experience for advancing crew transportation system capabilities and the agency's draft human certification requirements.

"With this SAA we believe NASA will benefit from gaining insight into the various systems we are developing, and we can benefit from the feedback," said Kent Rominger, vice president, strategy and business development for ATK Aerospace. "In the end, we hope to offer a commercial solution to NASA, the Department of Defense, and other commercial human spaceflight programs."

Source: NASA.Gov

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A composite image of the Liberty Launch System being trasnported out to its pad at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
ATK

Monday, September 12, 2011

ORION MOVES ONE STEP CLOSER TO FLIGHT... Last Friday, construction began on the first Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) that will launch on its inaugural test flight onboard a Delta IV rocket in the summer of 2013. The first components of the MPCV were welded together at the Michoud Assembly Facility in Louisiana.

Once welding is complete, the Orion vehicle will be transported from Michoud to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida...where major components such as the heat shield will be attached. At KSC, Orion will undergo final construction and checkout procedures prior to soaring into low-Earth orbit less than two years from now.

The first components of the Orion spacecraft that will soar into low-Earth orbit in 2013 are welded together on September 9, 2011.
NASA

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Europe's JULES VERNE Automated Transfer Vehicle comes within 36 feet of the International Space Station on March 31, 2008.
NASA TV

IMAGES OF THE DAY... The European Space Agency's (ESA) third Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) to fly to the International Space Station (ISS) arrived at its launch site in Kourou, French Guiana almost two weeks ago on August 25. Named Edoardo Amaldi after the late Italian physicist, the ATV is currently scheduled for launch to the ISS on February 29 of next year. The two ATVs that flew before it were named the Jules Verne and Johannes Kepler, respectively.

A container carrying Europe's EDOARDO AMALDI Automated Transfer Vehicle arrives at its launch site in Kourou, French Guiana on August 25, 2011.
ESA

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A SpaceX video screenshot of the Red Dragon spacecraft about to touch down on the surface of Mars.
SpaceX

RED DRAGON... While SpaceX prepares to launch a Dragon spacecraft on November 30 to dock with the International Space Station for the first time, it has also revealed plans that would involve its privately-made vehicle soaring beyond Earth orbit before the end of this decade. Tentatively called Red Dragon, the capsule would be an unmanned delivery system carrying tons of scientific instruments to the surface of Mars. In fact, the sheer size of Dragon (considering that it’s primarily designed to carry seven astronauts onboard) would allow it to land on the Red Planet with more payload than has been brought to Mars since robotic space probes first began visiting the barren world in the 1960s.

If selected by NASA as a future Discovery-class interplanetary mission, Red Dragon would head to Mars in 2018...possibly by a Falcon Heavy rocket that SpaceX is currently developing and plans to launch on a test flight in 2013.

Another screenshot of the Dragon spacecraft on the surface of Mars.
SpaceX