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Monday, April 30, 2012

The Falcon 9's nine Merlin first stage engines successfully fire for two seconds during a static fire test on April 30, 2012.
SpaceX

"SUCCESS - 2 second burn!" That was SpaceX's initial assessment after today's successful static fire test of the Falcon 9's nine Merlin first stage engines at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida...which paves the way for next Monday's launch of the Dragon C2+ spacecraft to the International Space Station. Godspeed on May 7, Falcon and Dragon!

Smoke bellows out from the Falcon 9 rocket moments after it completed a successful static fire test on April 30, 2012.
SpaceX

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The official mission logo for the Dragon C2+ flight to the International Space Station.
SpaceX

SpaceX update... After being filled with International Space Station (ISS)-bound cargo earlier this month, the Dragon C2+ spacecraft was re-mated to its Falcon 9 launch vehicle last Thursday. This is in preparation for tomorrow's static fire test in which the Falcon 9's nine Merlin first stage engines will ignite and burn for two seconds before shutting down at the launch pad...and Dragon's actual flight to the ISS, which is currently targeted for liftoff on May 7.

The Dragon C2+ spacecraft prior to being re-mated with its Falcon 9 launch vehicle, on April 26, 2012.
NASA / Jim Grossmann

The Dragon C2+ spacecraft is about to be tilted into a horizontal position...in preparation for it being re-mated with the Falcon 9 launch vehicle, on April 26, 2012.
NASA / Jim Grossmann

The Dragon C2+ spacecraft is about to be re-mated with its Falcon 9 launch vehicle on April 26, 2012.
NASA / Jim Grossmann

The Dragon C2+ spacecraft is about to be re-mated with its Falcon 9 launch vehicle on April 26, 2012.
NASA / Jim Grossmann

The Dragon C2+ spacecraft is re-mated with its Falcon 9 launch vehicle on April 26, 2012.
NASA / Jim Grossmann

Friday, April 27, 2012

A webcam image showing Discovery as work continues to be done on putting her in her final museum display configuration, on April 26, 2012.
Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center / Axis Communications

Discovery Update... Even though the orbiter Discovery is officially available for the public to marvel at her beauty inside the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia, work continues to be done on putting her in her final museum display configuration. A few days ago, the tail cone that shielded Discovery's Replica Shuttle Main Engines (RSMEs) during the ferry flight from Florida last week was removed by NASA workers flown in from Kennedy Space Center (KSC). And yesterday, the twin Orbital Maneuvering System thruster nozzles (both duplicates as well) were installed onto the vehicle. All that needs to be done now is close out various vent doors that were open on Discovery since her time at KSC, and lowering her back onto the ground so she can resume her role as a historic 'space artifact' inside the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar at the Udvar-Hazy Center.

Click here to view the shuttle Discovery and other historic spacecraft on Udvar-Hazy Center web cameras.

A webcam image showing Discovery's replica engines after the tail cone was removed on April 24, 2012.
Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center / Axis Communications

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

An illustration comparing the size of an Apollo  spacecraft to that of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle.
NASA

Orion Update... The Ground Test Article (GTA) that underwent a series of acoustic testing at Lockheed Martin's Waterton Facility in Colorado last year was recently delivered to NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. The GTA was transported to KSC's Operations and Checkout (O&C) Facility...which is where future Orion spacecraft (such as the EFT-1 vehicle, which will soon achieve initial assembly completion at the Michoud Assembly Facility near New Orleans, and will arrive at KSC around mid-June to finish construction) will complete final assembly and testing before launch. The GTA will be used for pathfinding operations in the O&C, including simulated manufacturing and assembly procedures. After these operations are concluded, the GTA will then be transported (with new backshell panels installed) to NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia for splashdown testing at the center's Hydro Impact Basin.

The illustration at the top of this entry shows the size of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle in relation to that of an Apollo spacecraft.

The Orion Ground Test Article (GTA), which underwent rigorous testing at Lockheed Martin in Colorado last year, arrives at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) on April 21, 2012.
NASA

KSC technicians work on the Orion GTA after its arrival inside the Operations and Checkout (O&C) Facility on April 21, 2012.
NASA

KSC technicians work on the Orion GTA after its arrival inside the O&C Facility on April 21, 2012.
NASA

Monday, April 23, 2012

A composite image of the 'Block II' cargo version of the Space Launch System (SLS), with the Moon looming high above, lifting off from its pad at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida.
NASA / MSFC

Check out this updated artwork depicting the Space Launch System (SLS) lifting off from its Launch Complex (LC)-39B pad at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. In the original illustration, re-posted below, the 'Block I' crew version of the SLS is visualized roaring off the pad at KSC's LC-39B. In the new image above, the 'Block II' cargo version (which will be capable of delivering payloads that weigh 130 metric tons into Earth orbit) is shown rising up towards the cosmos—with the inclusion of the Moon being appropriate in this rendition of NASA's next heavy-lift launch vehicle; seeing as how this is the SLS configuration that will be capable of sending up hardware for lunar, Near-Earth Asteroid or Mars missions. However, the Block II version of SLS will not be operational till at least 2025...making the sight of a 400-foot-tall rocket soaring up into the sky from Florida's Space Coast a pipe dream for now.

A composite image of the 'Block I' crew version of the SLS, with the Moon looming high above, lifting off from its pad at NASA's KSC in Florida.
NASA

Saturday, April 21, 2012

SpaceX and NASA personnel work together to load cargo into the Dragon C2+ spacecraft, in early April of 2012.
Courtesy of Facebook

Photos of the Day... SpaceX and NASA personnel worked together earlier this month to load cargo into the Dragon C2+ spacecraft, in preparation for Dragon's historic launch to the International Space Station on April 30th—which is a week from this Monday.

SpaceX and NASA personnel work together to load cargo into the Dragon C2+ spacecraft, in early April of 2012.
Courtesy of Facebook

Thursday, April 19, 2012

As of April 19, 2012, the orbiter Discovery is now a permanent museum exhibit at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia.
James Dean / Florida Today

Discovery now belongs to the Smithsonian... Earlier today, NASA officially transferred ownership of the orbiter Discovery to the Smithsonian Institution. A few hours later, Discovery was towed into the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, the shuttle's permanent home...and finally began her new career as a museum exhibit meant to inspire and educate young folks into becoming the next generation of engineers and scientists. Inside the Udvar-Hazy Center, Discovery took the spot of her prototype sister ship Enterprise—which had been on display at this museum since 2003. Enterprise herself will be mated to the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (NASA 905) that brought Discovery to Virginia from Kennedy Space Center in Florida last Tuesday, and be ferried to New York City next Monday (April 23). Enterprise will then be delivered via barge to her new home at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum a few weeks later.

At Dulles International Airport, Discovery is about to be demated from NASA 905 during the early morning hours of April 19, 2012.
NASA

Prior to landing gear deployment, Discovery is lowered towards the ground after demating from NASA 905 at Dulles International Airport on April 19, 2012.
NASA

Enterprise is towed out of the Udvar-Hazy Center to make room for her sister ship Discovery on April 19, 2012.
NASA

A U.S. Marine Corps  marching band walks past Enterprise during Discovery's transfer ceremony at the Udvar-Hazy Center on April 19, 2012.
NASA

Crowds gather and take pictures as Discovery is finally delivered to the Udvar-Hazy Center on April 19, 2012.
NASA

Discovery and Enterprise come nose-to-nose during Discovery's transfer ceremony at the Udvar-Hazy Center on April 19, 2012.
NASA

As of April 19, 2012, the orbiter Discovery is now a permanent museum exhibit at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia.
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

As of April 19, 2012, the orbiter Discovery is now a permanent museum exhibit at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia.
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The orbiter Discovery, mated atop NASA 905, departs from Kennedy Space Center for the final time on April 17, 2012.
NASA / Jim Grossmann

Discovery Bids Florida 'Adieu'... And says 'hello' to our nation's capital. Welcome to the Smithsonian, Discovery.

The orbiter Discovery, mated atop NASA 905, is towed away from the Mate-Demate Device on April 16, 2012...in preparation for the next day's flight to Virginia.
NASA / Dimitri Gerondidaki

The orbiter Discovery, mated atop NASA 905, departs from Kennedy Space Center for the final time on April 17, 2012.
NASA / Glenn Benson

Spectators gather along a Florida beach to watch the orbiter Discovery and NASA 905 conduct flyovers of areas surrounding Kennedy Space Center, on April 17, 2012.
NASA / R. D. Lee

The orbiter Discovery and NASA 905 fly over the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on April 17, 2012.
NASA

With the U.S. Capitol and Washington Monument in the foreground, the orbiter Discovery and NASA 905 fly over Washington, D.C. on April 17, 2012.
NASA

With the Washington Monument down below, the orbiter Discovery and NASA 905 fly over Washington, D.C. on April 17, 2012.
NASA

The orbiter Discovery and NASA 905 fly over the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on April 17, 2012.
NASA

The orbiter Discovery and NASA 905 fly over the White House in Washington, D.C. on April 17, 2012.
Jim Bourg / Reuters

Sunday, April 15, 2012

At Kennedy Space Center's (KSC) Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF), the orbiter Discovery is mated to NASA 905 on April 15, 2012.
NASA / Kim Shiflett

Discovery boards her ride for the U.S. capital... After mating operations were delayed yesterday due to gusty winds at Cape Canaveral, the orbiter Discovery was finally 'soft-mated' (that is, achieving an initial stage of capture) with her Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) around 8:15 AM, Pacific Daylight Time, this morning. Work will continue throughout the day to hard-mate Discovery to the SCA (officially designated as NASA 905) prior to them being towed away from the Mate-Demate Device at the Shuttle Landing Facility around 4 AM (PDT) tomorrow morning. NASA 905 will depart with Discovery from Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the final time at 4 AM (PDT) this Tuesday (weather permitting)...embarking on a brief flight that will end with Discovery safely on the ground at Dulles International Airport before the Smithsonian takes ownership of the orbiter on April 19.

The orbiter Discovery is towed past NASA 905 on her way to the Mate-Demate Device at KSC's SLF, on April 14, 2012.
NASA / Tim Jacobs

At KSC's SLF, the orbiter Discovery is hoisted up into the Mate-Demate Device on April 15, 2012.
NASA / Kim Shiflett

At KSC's SLF, the orbiter Discovery is suspended in midair inside the Mate-Demate Device on April 15, 2012.
NASA / Dimitri Gerondidakis

At KSC's SLF, the orbiter Discovery is suspended in midair inside the Mate-Demate Device on April 15, 2012.
NASA / Kim Shiflet

At KSC's SLF, NASA 905 is finally positioned underneath the orbiter Discovery for mating on April 15, 2012.
NASA / Kim Shiflett

Friday, April 13, 2012

The flight deck of space shuttle Endeavour is fully lit during a media photo op held inside Orbiter Processing Facility-2 (where Endeavour is being decommissioned) on April 6, 2012.
NASA / Dimitri Gerondidakis

Photos of the Day... Late last month, construction began on the Endeavour Display Pavilion at the California Science Center in downtown Los Angeles. The Pavilion will be the temporary hangar where space shuttle Endeavour is placed after she arrives in Southern California this September. The California Science Center is currently raising funds needed to build a new Air and Space Center where Endeavour will go on permanent display once the Center is completed (which would be a few years from now).

In the image above, Endeavour's flight deck is fully lit by all of its high-tech monitors during a media photo op held inside Orbiter Processing Facility-2 (where Endeavour is currently being decommissioned) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida last week. These monitors and the rest of Endeavour's electrical systems will permanently go dark sometime next month...making Endeavour the last of NASA's three retired orbiters to fall silent forever.

All photos below courtesy of Jason1701 - NASASpaceflight.com

Construction begins on the Endeavour Display Pavilion at the California Science Center in downtown Los Angeles, in late March of 2012.

Construction begins on the Endeavour Display Pavilion at the California Science Center in downtown Los Angeles, in late March of 2012.

Construction begins on the Endeavour Display Pavilion at the California Science Center in downtown Los Angeles, in late March of 2012.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) that will transport Discovery to the Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia touches down at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) on April 10, 2012.
NASA / Frankie Martin

Discovery's Taxi Arrives in Florida... At 2:35 PM, Pacific Daylight Time yesterday, the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) that will transport the orbiter Discovery from Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia touched down at KSC's Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF). In less than a week—on Tuesday, April 17—Discovery will find herself mated atop the modified Boeing 747 (the mating operation itself will take place at the SLF this Saturday) and headed onto a northwesterly direction towards our nation's capital...where Discovery and the SCA will do a quick flyover of Washington, D.C. before finally settling down at Dulles International Airport. Dulles is only a short distance away from the Udvar-Hazy Center, which is an annex of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum. The official public ceremony where NASA transfers ownership of Discovery to the Smithsonian takes place on April 19.

No doubt, next week will prove to be an emotional time for long-time supporters of the space shuttle program.

The SCA that will transport Discovery to the Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia is about to land at KSC on April 10, 2012.
NASA / Frankie Martin

The SCA moments after it landed at KSC on April 10, 2012.
NASA / Frankie Martin

Photographers take images of the SCA as it taxis down the Shuttle Landing Facility after arriving at KSC on April 10, 2012.
NASA / Frankie Martin

The SCA approaches the Mate-Demate Device that will connect Discovery to its hull on April 14...in preparation for their April 17 flight to the Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia.
NASA / Kim Shiflett