Ready to Go

A gallery of images (hopefully) is lead off with a long exposure photo by Bill Ingalis (Credit: NASA / Bill Ingalis) showing the gantry arms moving into position to secure the Soyuz TMA-12M spacecraft at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in preparation for a 26 March 2014 launch. The gallery shows the Soyuz roll out.

The spacecraft will transport Expedition 39 Soyuz Commander Alexander Skvortsov (Roscosmos), Flight Engineer Steven Swanson (NASA), and Flight Engineer Oleg Artemyev (Roscosmos) to the International Space Station where they will participate in a six-month mission.

If all goes well I will have viewing links up before the launch. Fingers crossed for the ISP to hold it together though.

Progress 54 Launch

The Progress 54 Cargo ship is a Russian auto-piloted craft that was launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan yesterday morning.

On board is three tons of food and other supplies for the Expedition 38 crew and that has already been delivered to the ISS.

The progress docked with the ISS in only six hours after it was launched. The docking port on the ISS, called the Pirs port only became available after the Progress 52 was undocked on 03 February.

The Progress 52 will be deorbited on 11 February and will burn up in the atmosphere.

Source

Cygnus Ready to Fly

Viewing opportunities for the Orbital launch.  Click for larger. Credit: NASA

Viewing opportunities for the Orbital launch. Click for larger. Credit: NASA

Mission: Orbital 1 Commercial Resupply Services flight

Launch Vehicle: Antares

Cargo ship: Cygnus

Date: 08 January 2014 TBA (Possibly Thursday 9-Jan)

Status:  LAUNCHED ON 09 Jan 2014

Analysis from SWPC:

Analysis of Solar Active Regions and Activity from 06/2100Z to
07/2100Z: Solar activity has been at high levels for the past 24 hours.
The largest solar event of the period was a X1 event observed at
07/1832Z.

Launch time: 18:30 UTC

Launch Site: Wallops Flight Facility

Launch Pad: Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad-0A

Odds of Favorable Weather: 95 percent

Coverage should be available at the NASA-TV link at the top of the page.

Orbital Sciences had a successful satellite launch yesterday atop a Space X Falcon rocket.  Hopefully they can go two-for-two in getting a nice clean launch of their own rocket today.

SpaceX Launch Replay

Finally the video hits YouTube. I watched this as it happened and kept saying “wow”. This is one of the better launch videos out there. No animation upon satellite separation here.

Do check it out.

Congrats to SpaceX on the first commercial mission, putting the SES-8 satellite in a geostationary orbit to provide HD communications to India and southeast Asia.

Also thanks to SpaceVids.tv for putting it up.

Jade Rabbit to the Moon

There has been a number of launches in the past weeks, and now China gets in on the act.

China launched a mission to the moon. The payload the “Jade Rabbit” launched on 01 December 2013 at 17:30 UTC aboard a Long March IIIB rocket from the Xichang launch facility. Note: there is some confusion about the date, the YouTube video says 02 December at 12:30 EST but everything was released before then.

Chang'e-3 heading to the moon, click the image to go to the launch video. Credit: CCTV News

Chang’e-3 heading to the moon, click the image to go to the launch video. Credit: CCTV News

The “Jade Rabbit” is the translated name of the Chang’e-3 lunar rover Yutu. Yes they are attempting to put a rover on the lunar surface with the intent of exploring for “several months”.

The journey to the moon should take around four days and orbit insertion should be on Friday 06 December. Landing is expected on 14 December in the Sinus Iridum. It is said the lander will operate for up to a year.

It will be fun to watch how things go this week. There is a big difference between getting to the moon and successfully landing a rover there, so here’s wishing them good luck! You know somehow I think in not so many years China will put people on the moon.

 

Stunning Rings and Two Moons

Saturns rings and two moons. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Saturns rings and two moons. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

A stunning image of Saturn’s rings. There are two moons in this image too, the larger of the two is obvious and is Epimetheus and the other is Daphnis.

Daphnis is a wee moon being only 8 km / 5 mi. and is very difficult to see unless you click the image to get the larger view. Look just to the right of center and in the rings just to the inside of the (Keeler) gap.

More about Saturn.

Before you read the NASA supplied caption below, I wanted to let you know there are TWO different launches today and they are only a short time apart from each other:

1. The Progress 53 cargo ship is scheduled to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 20:53 UTC (15:53 EST) The coverage should be here: http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/ustream/ Update:  Launched,

2. A SpaceX launch is scheduled for 22:45 UTC (17:45 EST). The flight will put the SES-8 communications into a geostationary orbit from Cape Canaveral Florida USA. Coverage: http://www.spacex.com/webcast/ Update: A delay due to an issue, next attempt not before Thursday.  The delay came around T minus 3 minutes 40 seconds.  I could not get back to the time and a news release with more info is still in the works.

 

Here’s the caption from NASA (link goes to much larger versions of the image):

Amidst and Beyond the Rings

While the moon Epimetheus passes by, beyond the edge of Saturn’s main rings, the tiny moon Daphnis carries on its orbit within the Keeler gap of the A ring. Although quite different in size, both moons create waves in the rings thanks to their gravitational influences.

Continue reading

Swarm Launched

ESA’s SWARM satellites are successfully launched from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in northern Russia this morning in what has to be one of the prettiest launches I’ve seen in a long while. The launch went off perfectly at 12:03 UTC. ESA has since acquired signals from all three satellites so it would sound as if things are going smoothly.

The mission is going to be a very interesting one: study the magnetic field. Sounds simple, but it’s not so much. For example we know the magnetic field is basically set up by the molten core of iron at the Earth’s center.

Video source

MAVEN Is Ready to Go

Mission:  Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN)

Rocket: Atlas V

Launch Facility: Cape Canaveral Florida / Complex 41

Current Status: Go –

Launch Date: Monday, 18 November. 2013 18:28 UTC / 13:28 EDT

Odds of Launch: 60 percent (as of the morning of 17 Nov )

MAVEN on the pad ready for launch.  Credit: NASA.  Note. Will try to replace this with live video tomorrow.

MAVEN on the pad ready for launch. Credit: NASA. Note. I took the live feed off and the replay is in the next post

NOAA’s Forecast:

Monday: A 50 percent chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 81. Southwest wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the afternoon.

MAVEN will collect data to determine the role that loss of volatile from the Mars atmosphere to space has played through time, giving insight into the history of Mars’ atmosphere and climate, liquid water, and planetary habitability.

To collect that data MAVEN will use a suite of eight sensors:

Magnetometer
Neutral Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer
Langmuir Probe and Waves
Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrometer
Solar Wind Electron Analyzer
Solar Wind Ion Analyzer
Solar Energetic Particles
SupraThermal And Thermal Ion Composition

The principle investigator is Dr. Bruce Jakosky of the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (CU/LASP) and this will be the first Mars mission managed by the Goddard Space Flight Center.