Tonight I followed along as the SpaceX COTS 2 mission launched the Dragon capsule on top of a Falcon 9 rocket. There have been a few delays and this weekend the launch was aborted at the last moment due to a pressure value on one of the engines. That’s been fixed and they are again cleared for launch. If the mission goes as planned, they will be the first private firm to deliver cargo to the ISS. I figured I would live blog the occasion. And yes, I’m also a little crazy for doing this. Continue reading Live Blogging the SpaceX COTS-2 Launch
Unless something dramatic happens on the political side of things, we’ve witnessed the final landing of the space shuttle program. With the completion of STS-135 and the landing of the Atlantis, we are now without a vehicle to transport crew and supplies to and from the space station. Other than the delivery of satellites into orbit (or earth or other celestial bodies), NASA is limited in their capabilities.
We are now turning our focus to private companies (such as SpaceX) to provide transportation for our people and supplies. Of course, these companies will also rely on funding from the government to stay in business and will therefor be somewhat dependent on them in the short term. I expect this to change as they get more satellite delivery orders. It remains to be seen how many companies will be able to develop the capabilities fast enough to remain competitive in that market. To me, today is the day that the shift from public to private provided space exploration began. We’ll see what NASA transforms into now.
Today or over the next few days, Discovery will make it’s final flight. Space shuttle Endeavour has one more flight on the books and Atlantis will remain as a rescue vehicle should it be needed. It’s pretty amazing that the shuttle Discovery first rolled out of the CA assembly plant in October of 1983. I’m sure that going into space for close to 30 years must take its toll on a vehicle.
From Nasa’s site:
It’s certainly earned its retirement. Discovery has flown more missions than any other shuttle – more than any other spacecraft, in fact. After 38 missions to date, and more than 5,600 trips around the Earth, Discovery has carried satellites such as the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit and sent the Ulysses robotic probe on its way to the Sun. It was the first shuttle to rendezvous with the Russian Mir Space Station, and it delivered the Japanese Kibo laboratory to the International Space Station.
Best wishes to the crew of 6 that will be flying Discovery on STS-133. May it be a smooth flight!
A big “welcome home” goes out to the Space Shuttle Discovery team. It was a busy trip for them which included the delivery of the Harmony module, unfurling and repair of the solar panels previously delivered (among other things).
The Space Shuttle Atlantis heads back into space tonight (if the weather cooperates). It landed on Sept. 21st of last year after a mission to the ISS. The original shuttle launch date was delayed due to damage sustained during a storm while the shuttle was on the launch pad. This made the gap between the Dec. 22nd landing of the Shuttle Discovery and SST-117 longer than was expected. During our recent trip to NASA Space Center in Houston, we got a lot of information on the upcoming mission and that heightened my interest in the launch. One of the things that surprised me about the mission is the outstanding qualifications of the crew. With advanced degrees in several disciplines (especially aerospace engineering), it’s an impressive group.
During the mission, their primary goal is to deliver a solar panel array to the ISS. This new solar array will greatly increase the amount of power available at the space station. The solar array has an mounting arm that rotates so that the solar array has a maximum amount of solar facing the sun at all times. With this additional power, the space station will have what needed for the next face of construction. With all of the hard work that has been put into making this a successful mission, I really hope everything goes smoothly. I’ll be keeping track of it. Continue reading Back Into Space