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Friday, November 30, 2012

A buffet model of the Space Launch System (SLS) undergoes testing inside the Transonic Dynamics Tunnel at NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia, in November of 2012.
NASA / LaRC

Photo of the Day... Shown above is a buffet model of the Space Launch System (SLS) as it recently underwent wind tunnel testing inside the Transonic Dynamics Tunnel at NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia. The model depicts the SLS' 'Block II' cargo configuration (pictured below), which will be almost 400-feet-tall in its actual form if this heavy-lift launch vehicle makes its maiden flight beyond Earth orbit as targeted by 2025.

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

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The International Space Station (ISS) with space shuttle Endeavour docked to it, as seen from a Russian Soyuz vehicle after it undocked from the ISS on May 23, 2011.
Roscosmos / ESA / NASA

ISS Update...

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NASA, Roscosmos Assign Veteran Crew to Yearlong Space Station Mission (Press Release - November 26)

WASHINGTON -- NASA, the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), and their international partners have selected two veteran spacefarers for a one-year mission aboard the International Space Station in 2015. This mission will include collecting scientific data important to future human exploration of our solar system. NASA has selected Scott Kelly and Roscosmos has chosen Mikhail Kornienko.

Kelly and Kornienko will launch aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in spring 2015 and will land in Kazakhstan in spring 2016. Kelly and Kornienko already have a connection; Kelly was a backup crew member for the station's Expedition 23/24 crews, where Kornienko served as a flight engineer.

The goal of their yearlong expedition aboard the orbiting laboratory is to understand better how the human body reacts and adapts to the harsh environment of space. Data from the 12-month expedition will help inform current assessments of crew performance and health and will determine better and validate countermeasures to reduce the risks associated with future exploration as NASA plans for missions around the moon, an asteroid and ultimately Mars.

"Congratulations to Scott and Mikhail on their selection for this important mission," said William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Their skills and previous experience aboard the space station align with the mission's requirements. The one-year increment will expand the bounds of how we live and work in space and will increase our knowledge regarding the effects of microgravity on humans as we prepare for future missions beyond low-Earth orbit."

"Selection of the candidate for the one year mission was thorough and difficult due to the number of suitable candidates from the Cosmonaut corps," said head of Russian Federal Space Agency, Vladimir Popovkin. "We have chosen the most responsible, skilled and enthusiastic crew members to expand space exploration, and we have full confidence in them."

Kelly, a retired captain in the U.S. Navy, is from West Orange, N.J. He has degrees from the State University of New York Maritime College and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He served as a pilot on space shuttle mission STS-103 in 1999, commander on STS-118 in 2007, flight engineer on the International Space Station Expedition 25 in 2010 and commander of Expedition 26 in 2011. Kelly has logged more than 180 days in space.

Kornienko is from the Syzran, Kuibyshev region of Russia. He is a former paratrooper officer and graduated from the Moscow Aviation Institute as a specialist in airborne systems. He has worked in the space industry since 1986 when he worked at Rocket and Space Corporation-Energia as a spacewalk handbook specialist. He was selected as an Energia test cosmonaut candidate in 1998 and trained as an International Space Station Expedition 8. backup crew member. Kornienko served as a flight engineer on the station's Expedition 23/24 crews in 2010 and has logged more than 176 days in space.

During the 12 years of permanent human presence aboard the International Space Station, scientists and researchers have gained valuable, and often surprising, data on the effects of microgravity on bone density, muscle mass, strength, vision and other aspects of human physiology. This yearlong stay will allow for greater analysis of these effects and trends.

Kelly and Kornienko will begin a two-year training program in the United States, Russia and other partner nations starting early next year.

Source: NASA.Gov

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A snapshot of the Aurora Borealis from the ISS.
The Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

An artist's concept of space shuttle Atlantis on display inside her new museum exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) Visitor Complex in Florida.
Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts

Atlantis: Retirement Update... Despite being completely wrapped in a plastic shroud that will protect her as construction is completed on her 90,000-square-foot museum exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida, Atlantis was recently tilted into a 43.21-degree angle which will be her final position when she opens to the public next July. With her payload bay doors opened, her robotic arm extended out towards a huge panorama of Earth that will be placed on the ceiling above her to give the impression of on-orbit activities, Atlantis should be a sight to behold (moreso, that is) once she officially becomes a space artifact. Check out her progress photos below.

Construction nears completion on the space shuttle Atlantis' permanent museum exhibit at the KSC Visitor Complex in Florida, on November 27, 2012.
NASA / Dimitri Gerondidakis

A front view of space shuttle Atlantis inside her permanent museum exhibit at the KSC Visitor Complex in Florida, on November 27, 2012.
NASA / Dimitri Gerondidakis

A side view of space shuttle Atlantis inside her permanent museum exhibit at the KSC Visitor Complex in Florida, on November 27, 2012.
NASA / Dimitri Gerondidakis

A rear view of space shuttle Atlantis inside her permanent museum exhibit at the KSC Visitor Complex in Florida, on November 27, 2012.
NASA / Dimitri Gerondidakis

A rear view of space shuttle Atlantis inside her permanent museum exhibit at the KSC Visitor Complex in Florida, on November 27, 2012.
NASA / Dimitri Gerondidakis

Thursday, November 22, 2012

An artist's concept of NASA's Orion spacecraft with a European Space Agency-built Service Module attached to it.
ESA

Happy Thanksgiving Day, everyone!!! Just thought I'd post this interesting art concept showing an Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) with a European Space Agency (ESA)-built Service Module (SM) attached it. First reported by NASASpaceFlight and Spaceflight Now earlier this week, providing the SM for Orion would be ESA's way of participating in NASA's deep space exploration program right after the International Space Station (ISS) is decommissioned no earlier than 2020. ESA is set to discontinue its Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), which has flown cargo to the ISS since 2008, after the fifth and last ATV (the Georges LemaƮtre) lifts off in early 2014. Providing the SM would also be ESA's way of paying for the remainder of its partnership in the ISS program; the ATV was Europe's form of providing support to the orbiting laboratory without paying cash upfront to NASA and the Russian Federal Space Agency.

If approved by NASA, the first European SM will fly with Orion atop the Space Launch System (SLS) during its initial unmanned sojourn to lunar orbit in late 2017. There are no additional details as to whether ESA will provide an SM for SLS' second launch beyond Earth orbit four years later...in a journey that would take a 4-person crew back to the Moon in 2021.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Russian recovery team arrives at the landing site of the Soyuz TMA-05M capsule near Arkalyk, Kazakhstan, on November 18, 2012 (Pacific Time).
NASA / Bill Ingalls

Welcome home, Expedition 33... After a 127-day sojourn in low-Earth orbit, three Expedition 33 crew members safely touched down in a remote area near Arkalyk, Kazakhstan a few hours ago. The Soyuz TMA-05M spacecraft carrying NASA astronaut Sunita Williams, JAXA crew member Akihiko Hoshide and Roscosmos cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko landed at 5:56 PM, Pacific Standard Time (7:56 AM, Monday morning in Kazakhstan). The image above shows a Russian recovery team arriving at the landing site of the Soyuz capsule, while the photos below were taken of the spacecraft re-entering Earth's atmosphere as seen from aboard the International Space Station.

The Soyuz TMA-05M spacecraft carrying the Expedition 33 crew departs from the International Space Station on November 18, 2012 (Pacific Time).
NASA / Roscosmos

The Soyuz TMA-05M spacecraft carrying the Expedition 33 crew departs from the International Space Station on November 18, 2012 (Pacific Time).
NASA / Roscosmos

The Soyuz TMA-05M's descent module re-enters Earth's atmosphere, as seen from aboard the International Space Station on November 18, 2012 (Pacific Time).
NASA / Roscosmos

The Soyuz TMA-05M's descent module re-enters Earth's atmosphere, as seen from aboard the International Space Station on November 18, 2012 (Pacific Time).
NASA / Roscosmos

The Soyuz TMA-05M's descent module re-enters Earth's atmosphere, as seen from aboard the International Space Station on November 18, 2012 (Pacific Time).
NASA / Roscosmos

Friday, November 16, 2012

Visiting space shuttle Endeavour inside the Samuel Oschin Pavilion at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, on November 16, 2012.

Endeavour Update... A little more than two weeks after she officially opened to the public at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, I finally got around to visiting Endeavour at her temporary home in the Samuel Oschin Pavilion earlier today. Seeing the orbiter as a static museum display obviously isn't as thrilling as watching her soar over the skies of Southern California back in September or taking to the streets of Los Angeles last month, but Endeavour is still without a doubt a marvel to check out up-close in person. I can only imagine how awestruck I would've been seeing her roar off a launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida back when the shuttle program was still alive and kicking...

LINK: Click here to view my photo gallery covering space shuttle Endeavour's landing at LAX and arrival at the California Science Center

Visiting the Samuel Oschin Pavilion—current home of space shuttle Endeavour—at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, on November 16, 2012.

Visiting space shuttle Endeavour inside the Samuel Oschin Pavilion at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, on November 16, 2012.

A front view of space shuttle Endeavour inside the Samuel Oschin Pavilion at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, on November 16, 2012.

A close-up view of space shuttle Endeavour's nose inside the Samuel Oschin Pavilion at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, on November 16, 2012.

Visiting space shuttle Endeavour inside the Samuel Oschin Pavilion at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, on November 16, 2012.

Visiting space shuttle Endeavour inside the Samuel Oschin Pavilion at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, on November 16, 2012.

Visiting space shuttle Endeavour inside the Samuel Oschin Pavilion at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, on November 16, 2012.

Visiting space shuttle Endeavour inside the Samuel Oschin Pavilion at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, on November 16, 2012.

A close-up view of space shuttle Endeavour's replica engines and thrusters inside the Samuel Oschin Pavilion at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, on November 16, 2012.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

At NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida, a full-size Orion test article arrives at the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) after testing the ground route that actual flight hardware will take from the Operations and Checkout Facility (OCF) to the VAB, on November 14, 2012.
NASA / Dimitri Gerondidakis

Taking The Path to the Future... A full-size test article of the Orion spacecraft was recently transported to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) to verify the ground route that the capsule was going to take from its processing facility to the VAB at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. The test article was first transported from the Operations and Checkout Facility (where actual Orion vehicles will undergo final assembly and launch processing) to the Multi-Payload Processing Facility at the KSC Industrial Area. The mockup was then driven several miles down the road to the VAB...where the real Orion will be mated with NASA's Space Launch System prior to being rolled out to the pad for launch.

At NASA's KSC in Florida, the full-size Orion test article departs from the OCF in the KSC Industrial Area, on November 14, 2012.
NASA / Dimitri Gerondidakis

The first time that an actual flight-worthy Orion capsule will take to the streets of KSC will be two years from now. Instead of the VAB, however, the Orion EFT-1 vehicle will be transported to the neighboring Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to be mated with the Delta IV rocket that will launch Orion on its first unmanned test flight around September of 2014.

At NASA's KSC in Florida, the full-size Orion test article arrives at the Multi-Payload Processing Facility (MPPF) after being transferred from the OCF in the KSC Industrial Area, on November 14, 2012.
NASA / Dimitri Gerondidakis

At NASA's KSC in Florida, the full-size Orion test article departs from the MPPF and heads down the road to the VAB, on November 14, 2012.
NASA / Dimitri Gerondidakis

At NASA's KSC in Florida, the full-size Orion test article arrives at the VAB after testing the ground route that actual flight hardware will take from the OCF to the VAB, on November 14, 2012.
NASA / Dimitri Gerondidakis

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Orion Update... The spacecraft that will fly on the Exploration Flight Test (EFT)-1 mission began proof pressure testing at the Operations and Checkout Facility at Kennedy Space Center last week. The test methodically pressurizes the crew module with breathing air and is intended to validate structural performance and weld strength capability of the vehicle at full flight operating pressures. EFT-1 is scheduled to launch aboard a Delta IV rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in early 2014.

The Orion EFT-1 crew module undergoes a pressure test inside the Operations and Checkout Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
NASA

Friday, November 2, 2012

An artist's concept of space shuttle Atlantis on display inside her new museum exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) Visitor Complex in Florida.
Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts

Atlantis is now home... Amid a throng of Kennedy Space Center (KSC) workers, their families, friends and fireworks, the orbiter Atlantis finally arrived at her final resting place at the KSC Visitor Complex in Florida, after an hours-long journey from the Vehicle Assembly Building to her new $100 million exhibit earlier today. Even though KSC itself won't truly be worth visiting again till 2015 (when other commercial spacecraft such as the Boeing CST-100 join SpaceX's Dragon in soaring to the International Space Station from Cape Canaveral) or 2017 (when NASA's Space Launch System lifts off on its inaugural flight to the Moon from Launch Complex 39B), folks visiting the Visitor Complex will have an awesome exhibit to check out once Atlantis officially goes on display next July.

Space shuttle Atlantis prepares to head to her final home at the KSC Visitor Complex after exiting the Vehicle Assembly Building, on November 2, 2012.
NASA / Tony Gray

Discovery is sitting nicely inside the Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia, Endeavour has begun inspiring a new generation of scientists and engineers who are visiting her at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, Enterprise...needs to be repaired following the damage she sustained in New York City during Superstorm Sandy (take a deep breath and relax, Dayton and Houston), and Atlantis will soon impart her own legacy to the public in 2013. The space shuttle program is truly history.

Space shuttle Atlantis is driven away from KSC as she heads to her final home at the KSC Visitor Complex, on November 2, 2012.
NASA / Kim Shiflett

Space shuttle Atlantis is about to approach KSC Headquarters as she heads to her final home at the KSC Visitor Complex, on November 2, 2012.
NASA / Kim Shiflett

Little kids watch as space shuttle Atlantis continues her journey to her final home at the KSC Visitor Complex, on November 2, 2012.
NASA / Kim Shiflett

Space shuttle Atlantis is about to arrive at her final home at the KSC Visitor Complex, on November 2, 2012.
NASA / Jim Grossmann

Space shuttle Atlantis arrives at her final home at the KSC Visitor Complex, on November 2, 2012.
NASA TV

Space shuttle Atlantis' journey to her final home at the KSC Visitor Complex concludes with fireworks, on November 2, 2012.
NASA / Jim Grossmann