MAIN / INDEX / GAMES / JOURNAL ENTRIES & UPDATES / ASK PARMAN! / VIDEOS / FRIENDS' GALLERY / GALLERY 2 / FAVORITES / FICTION / DRAWINGS / LINKS / AUTOGRAPHS / FILM NOTES / NAME IN SPACE / HUMAN SPACEFLIGHT BLOG / CREDITS


Saturday, January 28, 2012

The crew of mission STS-51L.

26 Years Ago Today... The 7 astronauts of space shuttle Challenger lost their lives 73 seconds into flight on a cold January day. 45 years ago yesterday, the 3 astronauts of Apollo 1 perished in a terrible fire during a ground launch rehearsal at Cape Canaveral, Florida. This Wednesday, it will be 9 years since the crew of space shuttle Columbia was lost during re-entry into Earth's atmosphere over Texas. May all these folks rest in peace. NASA's official Day of Remembrance for these fallen heroes was last Thursday.

The crew of mission STS-107.

The crew of Apollo 1.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Image of the Day... During a speech he made in the city of Cocoa, Florida yesterday, 2012 Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich told his audience that the United States would have a permanent manned colony on the Moon by 2020 if he was elected this November. This is despite the fact the Space Launch System—which is solely designed to make this grand vision a reality—isn't scheduled to take flight with astronauts aboard till 2021, and NASA's budget will no doubt be mired in uncertainty for the rest of this decade. Just like it has been for the last two years of the previous one.

Newt Gingrich also proclaimed that he would in fact cut NASA's budget and provide more funding ($10 billion to be exact) to commercial space companies...thus relying on SpaceX and the rest of the private sector to follow through in taking us out of low-Earth orbit again. If the delayed launch of Dragon C2 from February 7 to March 20 for additional testing is any indication, I would be skeptical to think that commercial space companies will make Gingrich's 2020 goal a reality.

I would say that Gingrich's declaration to establish a lunar settlement within eight years is akin to Barack Obama assuring constituents that he would immediately close the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay after being elected in 2008. Of course, that closure never came to fruition. False promises rule the day in U.S. politics.

An artist's concept of a manned colony on the surface of the Moon.
NASA

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Orion's Launch Abort Vehicle Configuration Test is conducted at Lockheed Martin's Waterton Facility near Denver, Colorado in late 2011.
NASA

Orion Update... Last week, the Launch Abort System shroud was removed from the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) at Lockheed Martin's Waterton Facility near Denver, Colorado (below). This was in preparation for a multi-point vibration test that will be conducted on the MPCV soon.

The image above is of Orion as it was being readied for the Launch Abort Vehicle Configuration Test...which occurred late last year. The MPCV's first sojourn into space, during the Exploration Flight Test, is currently scheduled for Spring of 2014.

In January of 2011, the Launch Abort System shroud is removed from the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle in preparation for a vibration test at Lockheed Martin in Colorado.
NASA

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Atlantis enters temporary storage inside the VAB on January 20, 2012.
NASA / Jim Grossmann

Images of the Day... Here are additional photos of Atlantis after she was transported to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) for temporary storage last Friday, with the pics below showing her with Endeavour parked in the adjacent bay inside the VAB. Endeavour will take Atlantis' place inside Orbiter Processing Facility-2 on February 1 to continue transition and retirement operations, while Discovery will switch places with OV-104 (Orbiter Vehicle 104... Atlantis' official NASA designation. Discovery is OV-103 and Endeavour is OV-105) at the VAB this March—only one month before Discovery is ferried from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to the Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia for permanent museum display.

With Endeavour visible in the background, Atlantis enters temporary storage inside the VAB on January 20, 2012.
NASA / Jim Grossmann

With Endeavour visible in the background, Atlantis enters temporary storage inside the VAB on January 20, 2012.
NASA / Jim Grossmann

Friday, January 20, 2012

A groundbreaking ceremony is held for space shuttle Atlantis' new museum exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, on January 18, 2012.
NASA / Kim Shiflett

Atlantis: Retirement Update... Two significant milestones occurred this week in regards to space shuttle Atlantis and her sister ship Endeavour undergoing their decommissioning activities: Last Wednesday's groundbreaking ceremony (above) for a new $100 million exhibit that will house Atlantis at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) Visitor Complex in Florida starting next year, and today's transport of Atlantis from Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF)-2 to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at KSC for temporary storage. With OPF-2 now empty, Endeavour—which has been in storage inside the VAB since last August—will be moved back to this hangar to continue transition and retirement operations. Discovery should also be moved to the assembly building pretty soon...since her decommissioning is all but complete, and her flight to the Udvar-Hazy Center (Discovery's final home) in Virginia is less than three months from now.

Making a brief appearance at Kennedy Space Center, the Stanley Cup championship trophy is displayed inside Atlantis' cockpit on January 18, 2012.
NASA / Kim Shiflett

The photo directly above is of the National Hockey League's (NHL) Stanley Cup trophy resting between the pilot and commander seats inside Atlantis' cockpit. The championship trophy, won by the NHL's Boston Bruins last year, made a quick visit to KSC this week.

Atlantis is transported from Orbiter Processing Facility-2 to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) on January 20, 2012.
NASA / Charisse Nahser

Atlantis is about to enter the VAB to be placed in temporary storage, on January 20, 2012.
NASA / Charisse Nahser

Atlantis enters temporary storage inside the VAB on January 20, 2012.
NASA / Jim Grossmann

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A canister containing the second of 15 SSMEs awaiting shipment departs from Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida to head to Stennis Space Center (SSC) in Mississippi, on January 16, 2012.
NASA / Jim Grossmann

Bound for Mississippi... Two days ago, NASA transported the second of 15 Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSMEs) from Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida to Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. The SSMEs were prepared for shipment at KSC last October, and will be placed in storage at Stennis for the next couple of years before being called back into service when the Space Launch System embarks on its first flight...which is currently aimed for 2017.

Inside the SSME Processing Facility at KSC, several engines await shipment to SSC in Mississippi, on January 12, 2012.
NASA / Gianni Woods

The second of 15 SSMEs is about to be placed inside a canister for delivery to SSC in Mississippi, on January 12, 2012.
NASA / Gianni Woods

The canister containing the second of 15 SSMEs awaiting shipment to SSC in Mississippi is about to be sealed for delivery from KSC, on January 12, 2012.
NASA / Gianni Woods

Monday, January 16, 2012

An artist's concept of the Excalibur Almaz spacecraft in Earth orbit.
Excalibur Almaz Inc.

Images of the Day... Below is another cool art concept of Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser spacecraft atop an Atlas V rocket, while the illustration above depicts the Excalibur Almaz vehicle that is being developed by Excalibur Almaz Inc...whose offices are based in Houston and Moscow. Although no date has currently been given as to when the Excalibur Almaz (which has a design that is based on vintage Soviet TKS capsules and Almaz space stations) will take flight, NASA signed an unfunded agreement in October of 2011 that would allow work to proceed as part of the agency's Commercial Crew Development program. It remains to be seen if this capsule will eventually soar into Earth orbit—and if so, will it soar into Earth orbit in time to provide crew and/or cargo to the International Space Station...despite the fact Excalibur Almaz intends to use this vehicle mostly for orbital space tourism.

An artist's concept of Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser spacecraft atop an Atlas V launch vehicle.
Sierra Nevada Corp.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A shot of Discovery's three Replica Shuttle Main Engines (RSMEs) from inside the tail cone, which was attached to the orbiter on January 12, 2012.
NASA / Jim Grossmann

Discovery: Retirement Update... Last Thursday, the tail cone that will protect Discovery’s three Replica Shuttle Main Engines during her flight from Florida's Kennedy Space Center to Virginia this April was attached to the vehicle inside Orbiter Processing Facility-1. This milestone comes despite the fact Discovery’s twin Orbital Maneuvering System (OMS) thruster nozzles weren't reattached to the spacecraft. Currently, there is no public info as to whether the OMS nozzles will be re-installed at the Udvar-Hazy Center (the museum where Discovery will go on permanent display) in Virginia or the thrusters won't be reattached at all. I'm hoping that the former will ring true.

A shot of Discovery's three RSMEs before the tail cone was installed around them, on January 12, 2012.
NASA / Jim Grossmann

The tail cone is about to be installed around Discovery's three RSMEs at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, on January 12, 2012.
NASA / Jim Grossmann

The tail cone is installed around Discovery's three RSMEs at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, on January 12, 2012.
NASA / Jim Grossmann

Thursday, January 12, 2012

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden stands in front of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle inside Lockheed Martin's Waterton Facility in Colorado, on January 11, 2012.
NASA

Orion Update... Yesterday, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden paid a visit to Lockheed Martin's Waterton Facility near Denver, Colorado...where he checked up on the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) as it continued to undergo acoustic testing. This came five days after another Orion test article, based at NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia, underwent a final water landing drop test inside a 20-foot-deep pool known as the Hydro Impact Basin. See pics below.

Click here to read a Florida Today article about NASA's plan to increase Lockheed Martin's $6.4 billion Orion contract by $375 million...to ensure that the company will have the funding it needs to prepare the MPCV for its first sojourn into space, during the Exploration Flight Test, in early 2014.

An Orion test article is hoisted into the air as it prepares to be dropped into the Hydro Impact Basin at NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia, on January 6, 2012.
NASA

With the Moon visible at the bottom of this pic, the Orion test article hangs in the air as it prepares to be dropped into the Hydro Impact Basin at NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia, on January 6, 2012.
NASA

A large wave is created by the Orion test article as it splashes into the Hydro Impact Basin during a final drop test at NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia, on January 6, 2012.
NASA

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

An artist's concept of the Dragon vehicle approaching the International Space Station (ISS).
SpaceX

Dragon C2 Update... Less than a month from now, the Dragon vehicle will launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) in Florida on its maiden flight to the International Space Station. The first two photos below show the capsule undergoing processing at CCAFS prior to Dragon being mated to its service module (which had its twin solar panels attached shortly thereafter). The last two images show the now-assembled Falcon 9 launch vehicle that will send Dragon into low-Earth orbit on February 7. Lookin' forward to next month!

Visible in this pic is the grapple fixture (located below the gray hatch at the middle of the capsule) that the ISS' robotic arm will connect to before berthing Dragon to the orbital outpost.
SpaceX

One of two solar panels is about to be attached to the Dragon spacecraft's service module at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
SpaceX

Now assembled: The Falcon 9 launch vehicle that will send Dragon on its first flight to the ISS.
SpaceX

Now assembled: The Falcon 9 launch vehicle that will send Dragon on its first flight to the ISS.
SpaceX

Sunday, January 8, 2012

A photo of the International Space Station (ISS) flying across the Moon's disk during the early evening of January 4, 2012.
NASA

Last week, a NASA photographer at the Johnson Space Center in Texas captured this awesome imagery of the International Space Station (ISS) flying across the Moon’s disk. The ISS was 242.8 miles (390.8 kilometers) above Houston when these photos were taken during the early evening of January 4. If you want to take your own amazing pics of Earth's largest artificial satellite superimposed against Earth's only natural satellite, obtain these equipment and use the following settings on your camera: A Nikon D3S with 600mm lens and 2X converter...as well as a Heavy Duty Bogen / Manfrotto Tripod with sandbag and a trigger cable to reduce camera shake. Adjust the camera’s f-stop to 1/1600 @ f/8, and the exposure set to ISO 2500 on High Continuous Burst. To find out when the next ISS sighting will be from your hometown, visit NASA Skywatch.

A photo of the ISS flying across the Moon's disk during the early evening of January 4, 2012.
NASA

Multiple images of the ISS flying across the Moon's disk during the early evening of January 4, 2012.
NASA

Friday, January 6, 2012

The former Mobile Service Tower for the Titan IV rocket is demolished to pave the way for SpaceX's SLC-4 East launch site at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
SpaceX / Melissa Heilman

Another SpaceX update... Progress continues to be made at Space Launch Complex 4 East at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, where SpaceX is converting the pad that was once used for the Titan IV rocket into the future West Coast launch site for Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy. Falcon Heavy, up until last September (when NASA revealed the design for its Space Launch System heavy-lift vehicle), was supposed to be the most powerful rocket in the world.

SpaceX is aiming for late 2012 to transport Falcon Heavy to Vandenberg for vehicle-to-pad integration tests, while 2013 is still the target year for the rocket’s maiden flight from the California coastline.

Construction is about to begin on SpaceX's SLC-4 East launch site at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
Courtesy of Facebook

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Image of the Day... Posted below is a photo of SpaceX's Dragon vehicle and its service module undergoing final launch processing at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The Dragon will head to the International Space Station for the very first time on February 7.

SpaceX's Dragon vehicle and its service module undergoes final launch processing at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
Courtesy of Facebook

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Space shuttle Endeavour is currently in storage inside the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
NASA / Jim Grossmann

Happy New Year, Everyone! I'm looking forward to seeing the retired shuttle Endeavour [and eventually the external fuel tank and solid rocket boosters (which were removed from the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex last November and December, respectively, and also given to the California Science Center in downtown Los Angeles) below] in person this summer...when the venerable orbiter makes her way to Los Angeles. This is assuming her transition and retirement process won’t be protracted due to several parts of her propulsion system being removed and handed over to NASA's Space Launch System program. If this is the case, then I can wait. It’s not like I have a choice in the matter!

Waiting for a new home: the external fuel tank and solid rocket boosters that were removed from display at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex last November and December, respectively.
NASA / Dmitri Gerondidakis