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, June 30, 2012

Atlantis is placed in temporary storage inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, on June 29, 2012.
NASA / Jim Grossmann

Atlantis: Retirement Update... Yesterday morning, the second oldest orbiter in NASA's retired fleet took up temporary residence inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. Prior to Friday's move, Atlantis was undergoing transition and retirement operations...which will soon come to a close now that the vehicle had her three Replica Shuttle Main Engines installed this past week. Atlantis was being decommissioned inside Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF)-1...which KSC managers wanted to vacate since a commercial aerospace company will soon take up ownership of the building. Which company is using OPF-1 and what spacecraft will be built inside there is currently undisclosed. Boeing is planning to build its Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 capsule in OPF-3.

Atlantis will eventually complete her decommissioning process inside OPF-2...where Endeavour is currently residing. Atlantis will be transported from the VAB to OPF-2 once Endeavour is rolled over to the Shuttle Landing Facility this September; beginning preparations for her ferry flight to downtown Los Angeles later that month, and in turn being delivered to the California Science Center for final museum display not too long after.

Atlantis is about to be transported from Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF)-1 to the VAB at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, on June 29, 2012.
NASA / Jim Grossmann

Atlantis is being transported from OPF-1 to the VAB at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, on June 29, 2012.
NASA / Jim Grossmann

Atlantis is being transported from OPF-1 to the VAB at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, on June 29, 2012.
NASA / Jim Grossmann

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Now inside its shipping container, the Orion EFT-1 vehicle will head to Kennedy Space Center on July 2 to complete final assembly and launch preparations for its 2014 flight into space.
NASA / Lockheed Martin

Orion Update... The Orion spacecraft that will embark on the Exploration Flight Test-1 mission in 2014 has now been placed inside of its shipping container at the Michoud Assembly Facility in Louisiana. Orion will be delivered for final assembly to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida...with arrival at KSC scheduled for this Monday.

The photos posted with this entry are courtesy of Orion's Facebook page.

The Orion EFT-1 vehicle is prepped for shipment to Kennedy Space Center, where Orion will arrive on July 2 and complete final assembly and launch preparations for its 2014 flight into space.
NASA / Lockheed Martin

The Orion EFT-1 vehicle is prepped for shipment to Kennedy Space Center, where Orion will arrive on July 2 and complete final assembly and launch preparations for its 2014 flight into space.
NASA / Lockheed Martin

The Orion EFT-1 vehicle is placed inside a container for shipment to Kennedy Space Center, where Orion will arrive on July 2 and complete final assembly and launch preparations for its 2014 flight into space.
NASA / Lockheed Martin

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Merlin 1D engine is test fired at SpaceX's Rocket Development Facility in McGregor, Texas, on June 25, 2012.
SpaceX

SpaceX update... Check out this video showing SpaceX test firing its Merlin 1D engine, which is an upgrade of the Merlin engines that successfully flew on the last three Falcon 9 flights in 2010 and last month, respectively. The test fire, which was conducted yesterday at the Rocket Development Facility in McGregor, Texas, lasted for a little over 3 minutes (185 seconds, to be exact) with 147,000 pounds of thrust; the full duration and power required for a Falcon 9 rocket launch. The Merlin 1D will eventually be used on Falcon 9 and SpaceX's newest launch vehicle, the Falcon Heavy rocket...which is scheduled for its first test flight sometime next year.

The Merlin 1D engines will debut on their first sojourn into space on Falcon 9 Flight 6, also targeted for launch in 2013.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Orion EFT-1 vehicle will head to Kennedy Space Center on July 2 to complete final assembly and launch preparations for its 2014 flight into space.
NASA / Eric Bordelon

Orion Update... Last week, the final weld was conducted on the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) that will fly into space on the Exploration Flight Test (EFT)-1 mission. The MPCV will arrive at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida on July 2, after being transported from Lockheed Martin's Michoud Assembly Facility in Louisiana. While initial construction on Orion took place at Michoud, final assembly will be done in the Operations and Checkout Facility at KSC. EFT-1 is scheduled to head to Earth orbit in early 2014. This test will be conducted using a Delta IV launch vehicle.

The Orion EFT-1 vehicle will head to Kennedy Space Center on July 2 to complete final assembly and launch preparations for its 2014 flight into space.
Courtesy of Facebook

Friday, June 22, 2012

Photo of the Day... Last week, SpaceX tested the Superdraco engine—which is much larger than the Draco thrusters already used in space during two Dragon missions in 2010 and last month, respectively—that will be utilized on a manned version of the Dragon spacecraft. Dragon will use four pairs of side-mounted Superdraco engines...with the ability to maneuver in Earth orbit even if four of its thrusters suddenly became nonoperational. The Superdracos would also be used to safely lift Dragon away from an errant Falcon 9 rocket in the event of a launch emergency.

A Superdraco engine is tested by SpaceX on June 18, 2012.
Photo courtesy of SpaceX / Elon Musk - Twitter.com

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

At Kennedy Space Center in Florida, space shuttle Endeavour's twin payload bay doors are closed for the final time on June 19, 2012.
NASA / Kim Shiflett

Endeavour: Retirement Update... While NASA's youngest orbiter achieved another transition and retirement milestone by having her twin payload bay doors permanently closed at Kennedy Space Center yesterday, progress continues to be made on the temporary hangar, known as the Samuel Oschin Space Shuttle Endeavour Display Pavilion, that will house Endeavour when she arrives at the California Science Center in Los Angeles this late September. The construction photos below are courtesy of the California Science Center's Facebook page.

A tarp is laid over the concrete floor of the Samuel Oschin Space Shuttle Endeavour Display Pavilion to moisture-proof the building, on May 23, 2012.
California Science Center

Panels that will form the walls of the Samuel Oschin Space Shuttle Endeavour Display Pavilion are about to be installed, on June 1, 2012.
California Science Center

Panels that will form the roof of the Samuel Oschin Space Shuttle Endeavour Display Pavilion are about to be installed, on June 11, 2012.
California Science Center

The roof begins to take shape at the Samuel Oschin Space Shuttle Endeavour Display Pavilion, on June 18, 2012.
California Science Center Progress continues to be made at the Samuel Oschin Space Shuttle Endeavour Display Pavilion, on June 20, 2012.
California Science Center

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Shenzhou-9 spacecraft is about to dock with the Tiangong-1 module in low-Earth orbit on June 18, 2012.
CCTV

Shenzhou-9 docks at Tiangong-1... At 2:07 PM, Beijing time today, the Shenzhou-9 vehicle carrying three taikonauts finally arrived at the Tiangong-1 space module...starting a day's worth of events that led to Tiangong-1 becoming China's first manned space station in low-Earth orbit. Liu Wang, Liu Yang and Jing Haipeng will spend at least 10 days at the station—conducting various lab experiments and testing docking maneuvers utilizing Shenzhou-9 before departing from Tiangong-1 and returning to Earth on June 29. Liu Yang, a pilot for the Chinese Air Force, has already made history by becoming the first female taikonaut to fly into space.

The docking mechanism that allowed Shenzhou-9 to berth with Tiangong-1 is essentially the same type used on the Russian segment of the International Space Station (ISS). A few modifications to the mechanism could allow Tiangong-1 to dock with the ISS if China was someday permitted to join the multinational program. However, the U.S. Congress has a law in place that prevents NASA from cooperating with the Asian superpower in every way. This is despite the fact China may have a bigger space station in orbit by the time the ISS is retired in 2020...assuming no new funding is provided to extend the life of the 13-year-old orbital outpost well into the next decade.

The Shenzhou-9 spacecraft is about to dock with the Tiangong-1 module in low-Earth orbit on June 18, 2012.
CCTV

The Shenzhou-9 spacecraft docks with the Tiangong-1 module in low-Earth orbit on June 18, 2012.
CCTV

Chinese taikonauts Liu Wang, Liu Yang and Jing Haipeng are the first people to venture into the Tiangong-1 module on June 18, 2012.
CCTV

Saturday, June 16, 2012

A Long March 2F rocket carrying the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft launches from China on June 16, 2012.
CCTV

China marks another spaceflight milestone... At 6:37 PM, Beijing Time today, a Long March 2F rocket carrying the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft blasted off into Earth orbit to rendezvous and dock with China's Tiangong-1 space module...which has been in orbit since last September. While China is about to make history by having its very first crewed space station within the next two days, it also achieved the milestone of launching its first female taikonaut, Liu Yang, into space. Yang, a 33-year-old pilot for the Chinese Air Force, and her two crew members will arrive at Tiangong-1 this Sunday—and return to Earth after what should be a 13-day mission at the prototype outpost.

China hopes to have a bigger and permanent space station in low-Earth orbit (LEO) as early as 2020...the same year that the International Space Station is scheduled to be decommissioned and de-orbited from LEO.

Chinese taikonauts Liu Wang, Jing Haipeng, and Liu Yang (left to right) prepare to launch into space aboard a Long March 2F rocket on June 16, 2012.
CCTV

A Long March 2F rocket carrying the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft is poised for launch from China on June 16, 2012.
CCTV

A Long March 2F rocket carrying the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft is poised for launch from China on June 16, 2012.
Chinese Ministry of Defense

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

As NASA Administrator Charles Bolden glimpses at Dragon C2+, SpaceX founder Elon Musk addresses the media at the SpaceX facility in Texas, on June 13, 2012.
NASA / Bill Ingalls

SpaceX update... Earlier today, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden paid a visit to the Rocket Development Facility in McGregor, Texas to congratulate SpaceX founder Elon Musk and his employees on Dragon C2+'s successful mission...which concluded on May 31. While SpaceX's headquarter is located in Hawthorne, California, Dragon C2+ was transported to Texas (after it arrived via barge at the Port of Los Angeles several days after splashing down in the Pacific) so that cargo that was placed inside it by International Space Station (ISS) crew members prior to Dragon's departure from the outpost could be offloaded. The cargo would then be handed over to NASA.

The next Dragon flight, dubbed Dragon C3, will be the first of 12 official cargo delivery missions that NASA authorized SpaceX to launch to the ISS. Liftoff of the Falcon 9 rocket that will send Dragon C3 to the orbiting laboratory is currently targeted for September 24.

With NASA Administrator Charles Bolden in attendance, SpaceX founder Elon Musk addresses the media about Dragon C2+'s successful mission...which concluded on May 31, 2012.
NASA / Bill Ingalls

Some of the 1,367 pounds of cargo that Dragon C2+ brought back from the International Space Station...after the SpaceX capsule safely returned to Earth on May 31, 2012.
NASA / Bill Ingalls

Monday, June 11, 2012

Atlantis' Forward Reaction Control System (FRCS) pod is re-installed onto the vehicle on May 29, 2012.
NASA / Jim Grossmann

Atlantis: Retirement Update... About two weeks ago, the Forward Reaction Control System pod was re-installed onto the orbiter Atlantis as her transition and retirement operation comes to a close in a few months. Earlier today, technicians inside Orbiter Processing Facility-1 at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida began preparing for the re-attachment of the first of Atlantis' twin Orbital Maneuvering System pods to the vehicle.

Atlantis and Endeavour are the two remaining space shuttles still in the possession of NASA. Discovery has been a museum piece for the Smithsonian since mid-April, while the prototype orbiter Enterprise will soon become one after arriving at her final home, the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City, last week. Endeavour will head to the California Science Center in late September, while Atlantis will be the last shuttle to become a space artifact. She is scheduled to be transported down the street to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex between November of this year and February of 2013.

The FRCS pod is about to be lifted from its trailer for re-installation onto Atlantis on May 29, 2012.
NASA / Jim Grossmann

The FRCS pod heads toward Atlantis via crane in preparation for re-installation on May 29, 2012.
NASA / Jim Grossmann

Atlantis' FRCS pod is about to be re-installed onto the vehicle on May 29, 2012.
NASA / Jim Grossmann

A swing structure is about to be deployed near Atlantis' aft in preparation for Orbital Maneuvering System (OMS) pod re-installation, on June 11, 2012.
NASA / Kim Shiflett

The swing structure is deployed near Atlantis' aft in preparation for OMS pod re-installation, on June 11, 2012.
NASA / Kim Shiflett

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Venus crosses in front of the Sun's disk, as seen from aboard the International Space Station on June 5, 2012.
NASA

Venus Transit 2012... Yesterday, NASA astronaut Don Pettit took these photos of the rare celestial event from aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Pettit launched to the ISS on December 21 of last year. Among the items that Pettit brought with him when he arrived at the orbital outpost on December 23 were special camera filters that he used to photograph Venus' crossing of the Sun's disk—which will not take place again for another 105 years.

The last time a Venus transit occurred was back in 2004...while the next transits by this greenhouse planet will not take place till 2117 and 2125, respectively.

The Sun (before Venus' transit), as seen from aboard the International Space Station on June 5, 2012.
NASA

Venus crosses in front of the Sun's disk, as seen from aboard the International Space Station on June 5, 2012.
NASA

Venus crosses in front of the Sun's disk, as seen from aboard the International Space Station on June 5, 2012.
NASA

Sunday, June 3, 2012

A full-scale test version of Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser spacecraft soars in the air during a captive-carry test on May 29, 2012.
Sierra Nevada Corp.

Rise of the Dream Chaser... Last week, a full-scale test version of the Sierra Nevada Corporation's Dream Chaser spacecraft was hoisted into the air by an Erickson Air-Crane helicopter during a captive-carry test in Colorado. The test was meant to evaluate the Dream Chaser's structural integrity while being airborne...as well as examining facilities and ground operations in preparation for approach and landing tests planned for later this year. Should the Dream Chaser ever take flight into space, it will be aboard an Atlas V rocket—which is also the launch vehicle of choice for Boeing's Crew Space Transportation-100 capsule. The Dream Chaser is designed to ferry cargo or seven astronauts to low-Earth orbit destinations such as the International Space Station when it becomes operational.

A full-scale test version of Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser spacecraft is hoisted into the air to begin a captive-carry test on May 29, 2012.
Sierra Nevada Corp.

A full-scale test version of Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser spacecraft soars in the air during a captive-carry test on May 29, 2012.
Sierra Nevada Corp.