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Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Space Shuttle Atlantis

The Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit prior to its grand opening at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) Visitor Complex in Florida...on June 29, 2013.
NASA / KSC

Space Shuttle Atlantis Is Now Open for Business...

KSC Director Bob Cabana addresses the media gathered inside the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit...prior to its grand opening at the KSC Visitor Complex in Florida, on June 29, 2013.
NASA / Jim Grossmann

KSC Director Bob Cabana addresses the media gathered inside the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit...prior to its grand opening at the KSC Visitor Complex in Florida, on June 29, 2013.
NASA / Jim Grossmann

Astronauts representing all of Atlantis' 33 flown missions pose in front of the orbiter inside the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit...prior to its grand opening at the KSC Visitor Complex in Florida, on June 29, 2013.
NASA / Jim Grossmann

Museum patrons on the lower level of the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit are dwarfed by the orbiter's port-side wing, on June 29, 2013.
NASA / KSC

A full-size replica of the Hubble Space Telescope inside the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit, on June 29, 2013.
NASA / KSC

KSC Director Bob Cabana checks out the full-size replicas of the shuttle's external fuel tank and twin solid rocket boosters outside of the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit at the KSC Visitor Complex, on June 28, 2013.
NASA / Jim Grossmann

The Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit...now open to the public at the KSC Visitor Complex as of June 29, 2013.
NASA / KSC

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A graphic showing the various components of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV).
NASA

Paving The Way for 2014... Yesterday, engineers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama successfully mated an adapter that will be used to connect Orion to the Delta IV rocket responsible for launching the capsule on the Exploration Flight Test (EFT)-1 mission in 2014. In all, 250 bolts will need to be tightened to secure the adapter to the actual Delta IV vehicle next year.

At the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in Alabama, engineers converse prior to mating the Orion MPCV's adapter to a mock-up of the Delta IV rocket's upper stage...on June 26, 2013.
NASA

At the MSFC in Alabama, the Orion MPCV's adapter is about to be mated to a mock-up of the Delta IV rocket's upper stage...on June 26, 2013.
NASA

At the MSFC in Alabama, the Orion MPCV's adapter is mated to a mock-up of the Delta IV rocket's upper stage...on June 26, 2013.
NASA

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Photo of the Day... On June 13 of this year, NASA astronauts Cady Coleman and Ricky Arnold entered the Orion crew module's hatch during several spacesuit check tests conducted inside the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Orion will carry out its first sojourn into space late next year...during the unmanned Exploration Flight Test (EFT)-1 mission.

NASA astronauts Cady Coleman and Ricky Arnold are about to enter the Orion crew module's hatch during a series of spacesuit check tests conducted inside the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas...on June 13, 2013.
NASA / Bill Stafford

Friday, June 21, 2013

A composite image of the 'Block I' crew 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

Space Launch System Update...

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NASA's Space Launch System Program Kicks Off Preliminary Design Review (Press Release - June 19)

WASHINGTON -- NASA is beginning a preliminary design review for its Space Launch System (SLS). This major program assessment will allow development of the agency's new heavy-lift rocket to move from concept to initial design.

The preliminary design review process includes meticulous, detailed analyses of the entire launch vehicle. Representatives from NASA, its contractor partners and experts from across the aerospace industry validate elements of the rocket to ensure they can be safely and successfully integrated.

"This phase of development allows us to take a critical look at every design element to ensure it's capable of carrying humans to places we've never been before," said Dan Dumbacher, NASA's deputy associate administrator for exploration systems development in Washington. "This is the rocket that will send humans to an asteroid and Mars, so we want to be sure we get its development right."

The review process will take several weeks and is expected to conclude this summer.

"The preliminary design review is incredibly important, as it demonstrates the SLS design meets all system requirements within acceptable risk constraints, giving us the green light for proceeding with the detailed design," said Todd May, manager of the SLS Program at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. "We are on track and meeting all the milestones necessary to fly in 2017."

The SLS is targeted for a test launch with no crew aboard in 2017, followed by a mission with astronauts to study an asteroid by as early as 2021. NASA is developing the SLS and its new Orion spacecraft to provide an entirely new capability for human exploration. It will be flexible for launching spacecraft for crew and cargo missions, expand human presence beyond low-Earth orbit and enable new missions of exploration in the solar system.

Source: NASA.Gov

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

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The 8 newest members of NASA's Astronaut Corps.
NASA

Paving The Way for the Future...

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NASA Selects 2013 Astronaut Candidate Class (Press Release)

After an extensive year-and-a-half search, NASA has a new group of potential astronauts who will help the agency push the boundaries of exploration and travel to new destinations in the solar system. Eight candidates have been selected to be NASA's newest astronaut trainees.

The 2013 astronaut candidate class comes from the second largest number of applications NASA ever has received -- more than 6,100. The group will receive a wide array of technical training at space centers around the globe to prepare for missions to low-Earth orbit, an asteroid and Mars.

"These new space explorers asked to join NASA because they know we’re doing big, bold things here -- developing missions to go farther into space than ever before," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "They’re excited about the science we’re doing on the International Space Station and our plan to launch from U.S. soil to there on spacecraft built by American companies. And they’re ready to help lead the first human mission to an asteroid and then on to Mars."

The new astronaut candidates are:

Josh A. Cassada, Ph. D., 39, is originally from White Bear Lake, Minn. Cassada is a former naval aviator who holds an undergraduate degree from Albion College, and advanced degrees from the University of Rochester, N.Y. Cassada is a physicist by training and currently is serving as co-founder and Chief Technology Officer for Quantum Opus.

Victor J. Glover, 37, Lt. Commander, U.S. Navy, hails from Pomona, Calif., and Prosper, Texas. He is an F/A-18 pilot and graduate of the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School. Glover holds degrees from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, Calif.; Air University and Naval Postgraduate School. He currently is serving as a Navy Legislative Fellow in the U.S. Congress.

Tyler N. Hague (Nick), 37, Lt. Colonel, U.S. Air Force, calls Hoxie, Kan., home. He is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School, Edwards, Calif. Hague currently is supporting the Department of Defense as Deputy Chief of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization.

Christina M. Hammock, 34, calls Jacksonville, N.C. home. Hammock holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from North Carolina State University, Raleigh, N.C. She currently is serving as National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Station Chief in American Samoa.

Nicole Aunapu Mann, 35, Major, U.S. Marine Corps, originally is from Penngrove, Calif. She is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Stanford (Calif.) University and the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, Patuxent River, Md. Mann is an F/A 18 pilot, currently serving as an Integrated Product Team Lead at the U.S. Naval Air Station, Patuxent River.

Anne C. McClain, 34, Major, U.S. Army, lists her hometown as Spokane, Wash. She is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.; the University of Bath and the University of Bristol, both in the United Kingdom. McClain is an OH-58 helicopter pilot, and a recent graduate of U.S. Naval Test Pilot School at Naval Air Station, Patuxent River.

Jessica U. Meir, Ph.D., 35 is from Caribou, Maine. She is a graduate of Brown University, has an advanced degree from the International Space University, and earned her doctorate from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Meir currently is an Assistant Professor of Anesthesia at Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.

Andrew R. Morgan, M.D., 37, Major, U.S. Army, considers New Castle, Pa., home. Morgan is a graduate of The U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and earned doctorate in medicine from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Md. He has experience as an emergency physician and flight surgeon for the Army special operations community, and currently is completing a sports medicine fellowship.

The new astronaut candidates will begin training at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston in August.

"This year we have selected 8 highly qualified individuals who have demonstrated impressive strengths academically, operationally, and physically" said Janet Kavandi, director of Flight Crew Operations at Johnson Space Center. "They have diverse backgrounds and skill sets that will contribute greatly to the existing astronaut corps. Based on their incredible experiences to date, I have every confidence that they will apply their combined expertise and talents to achieve great things for NASA and this country in the pursuit of human exploration."

Source: NASA.Gov

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Expedition 35 crew member Chris Cassidy is photographed during a 5-hour, 30-minute spacewalk that he and Tom Marshburn conducted outside of the International Space Station, on May 11, 2013.
NASA

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Albert Einstein Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) approaches the International Space Station (ISS) for docking on June 15, 2013.
ESA / NASA

Albert Einstein in Hi-Res...

Soaring high above Earth's clouds, the Albert Einstein ATV approaches the ISS for docking on June 15, 2013.
ESA / NASA

With thrusters firing, the Albert Einstein ATV approaches the ISS for docking on June 15, 2013.
ESA / NASA

The Albert Einstein ATV approaches the ISS for docking on June 15, 2013.
ESA / NASA

The Albert Einstein ATV approaches the ISS for docking on June 15, 2013.
ESA / NASA

The Albert Einstein ATV is about to dock with the ISS on June 15, 2013.
ESA / NASA

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Albert Einstein Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) approaches the International Space Station (ISS) for docking on June 15, 2013.
NASA TV / ESA

Albert Einstein Reaches the ISS... The European Space Agency's heaviest cargo ship to ever be launched to the International Space Station docked with the orbital outpost at 7:07 AM, Pacific Daylight Time today.

The Albert Einstein ATV approaches the ISS for docking on June 15, 2013.
NASA TV / ESA

The Albert Einstein ATV approaches the ISS for docking on June 15, 2013.
NASA TV / ESA

The Albert Einstein ATV docks with the ISS on June 15, 2013.
NASA TV / ESA

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Posing with SpaceX's Dragon C1 vehicle outside of the Los Angeles Convention Center...on June 11, 2013.

The Dragon in Los Angeles... Earlier today, I went to the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) at the L.A. Convention Center to check out the Dragon C1 vehicle that flew to low-Earth orbit almost three years ago. Definitely awesome— The capsule is obviously not as elegant-looking as a space shuttle orbiter (I'm wondering when I'll visit Endeavour at the California Science Center again), but it's always cool to view in-person a manned spacecraft (potentially for Dragon) that actually soared into the heavens. Looking forward to seeing a space-flown DragonRider up-close and personal...

SpaceX's Dragon C1 vehicle on display outside of the Los Angeles Convention Center...on June 11, 2013.

SpaceX's Dragon C1 vehicle on display outside of the Los Angeles Convention Center...on June 11, 2013.

Posing with SpaceX's Dragon C1 vehicle outside of the Los Angeles Convention Center...on June 11, 2013.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Bill Moore, chief operating officer with Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts, addresses the media inside space shuttle Atlantis' new exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) Visitor Complex in Florida, on June 7, 2013.
NASA / Jim Grossmann

Space Shuttle Atlantis... The 90,000-square-foot exhibit that will house the second oldest retired orbiter in NASA's space shuttle fleet is on track to open to the public 22 days from now (on June 29 at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida). As you can see from the photos posted with this entry, Atlantis will be a sight to behold inside her new $100 million resting home. It will be years before Endeavour follows suit here in Southern California.

Bill Moore, chief operating officer with Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts, addresses the media inside space shuttle Atlantis' new exhibit at the KSC Visitor Complex in Florida, on June 7, 2013.
NASA / Jim Grossmann

A close-up of Atlantis' replica Remote Manipulator System, on June 7, 2013.
NASA / Jim Grossmann

A view of space shuttle Atlantis from the front, on June 7, 2013..
NASA / Jim Grossmann

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

With the Albert Einstein Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) aboard, an Ariane 5 rocket blasts off for space on June 5, 2013 (Pacific Time).
ESA – S. Corvaja, 2013

Albert Einstein Lifts Off!

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Europe's Heaviest Cargo Ship Launched to Space Station (Press Release)

ESA's fourth Automated Transfer Vehicle, Albert Einstein, was launched into orbit last evening from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. Europe's autonomous supply ship will perform a series of manoeuvres to dock with the International Space Station on 15 June.

The Ariane 5 rocket, operated by Arianespace, lifted off at 21:52:11 GMT (23:52:11 CEST, 18:52:11 local time) and delivered ATV-4 into the planned circular parking orbit at 260 km altitude about 64 minutes later. ATV then deployed its four power-generating solar wings and antenna boom.

The ship is being monitored by the ATV Control Centre, jointly operated by ESA and CNES, the French space agency, in Toulouse. It will complete the Launch and Early Orbit Phase in some six hours after launch and is due to rendezvous and dock automatically with the Station at 13:46 GMT (15:46 CEST) on 15 June.

At 20 190 kg, ATV Albert Einstein is the heaviest spacecraft ever launched by Ariane, beating predecessor ATV Edoardo Amaldi by some 150 kg. ESA's resupply and reboost vehicle is the largest, most advanced and most capable of the vehicles servicing the orbital outpost.

"With another successful launch of the ATV, and another record in lifting capacity, European industry demonstrates its capacity to produce unique spacecrafts, providing ESA with a key role among the partners of the International Space Station," noted Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA Director General.

"This adventure is still in the making – ATV-4 is flying but ATV-5 is following and ATV technologies will survive beyond them in promising new programmes, such as NASA's Orion Multipurpose Crew Vehicle, for which ESA is developing the service module.

"From ATV to Orion, ESA is building up capabilities which will provide Europe the capacity to be a key partner in future international exploration programmes," said Thomas Reiter, ESA Director of Human Spaceflight and Operations.

"Today, we're supporting long-term settlement and scientific research in low orbit. Tomorrow, we will take this expertise beyond Earth orbit together with our partners."

ATV-4 is carrying a record payload of 2480 kg dry cargo, including 620 kg of 'last minute' items, which were installed while on top of Ariane, less than two weeks before launch. Stored in ATV's pressurised section, this cargo is also the most diverse ever, with more than 1400 items.

In addition, ATV-4 has 2580 kg of propellants for reboosting the Station's orbit and 860 kg more to refill the tanks of the Zvezda module. It will also pump 570 kg of drinking water and 100 kg of gases (two tanks of oxygen, one of air) into the Station’s tanks.

ATV was developed for ESA by European industry, with Astrium as prime contractor, to deliver goods and propellants under a barter agreement with NASA to support Europe's share of the Station’s operating costs. It features high-precision navigation systems, highly redundant flight software and a fully autonomous self-monitoring and collision-avoidance system with independent power supplies, control and thrusters.

No other spaceship approaching the Station has demonstrated such a level of autonomous control.

Albert Einstein is the fourth in a series of five ATVs. It will spend over 4 months docked to the Zvezda module, during which it will provide extra storage room and a quiet rest area for the astronauts. It also offers a powerful manoeuvring capability to raise the Station’s altitude to combat natural orbital decay and, if required, to steer it out of the way of dangerous space debris.

At the end of its mission, filled with waste, it will undock on 28 October and make a safe controlled reentry over the South Pacific.

The last ATV, Georges LemaƮtre, is being prepared for launch in 2014.

Source: European Space Agency

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The Edoardo Amaldi ATV fires its thrusters as it approaches the International Space Station for docking on March 28, 2012.
NASA / Don Pettit

Monday, June 3, 2013

Another Epic Photo Taken from the ISS... On May 21 of this year, an Expedition 36 crew member aboard the International Space Station (ISS) shot this image of the Sun glistening above the Earth. This pic was taken from the Cupola window...with Japan's Kibo Module as well as NASA's Harmony node and Destiny laboratory (plus the Leonardo Permanent Multipurpose Module, at bottom right) visible in this shot.

The Sun shines between the International Space Station and the Earth in this photo taken by an Expedition 36 crew member, on May 21, 2013.
NASA