LADEE Launch Day

Mission:  Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer – LADEE

Rocket: USAF Minitor V (integrated by Orbital Sciences Corp.

Current Status: Go

Launch Date: Friday, 06 Sept. 2013 23:27 EDT / Saturday 07 Sept. 2013 03:27 UTC

Odds of Launch: Unknown numerics but the forecast looks great.

NOAA’s Forecast:

Friday: Sunny, with a high near 74. North wind 13 to 17 mph.

Friday Night: Clear, with a low around 62. Northeast wind 5 to 8 mph.

This is going to be an exciting mission from start to finish. LADEE will be the first lunar launch from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia even though Wallops and NOT Cape Canaveral, is the oldest continuous rocket launch range in the United States.

LADEE is the fist payload to be launched atop an USAF Minotaur rocket integrated by Orbital Sciences Corp.

Once LADEE gets to the moon and that depends on launch time because of the way the spacecraft will approach the leading edge of the moon for orbital insertion, it get into a 250 km (156 mile) altitude orbit paving the way for even lower altitude orbits during the planned 100-day mission.

Once the mission is complete LADEE will impact the lunar surface. I did say it was going to be exciting start to finish.

NASA’s LADEE website.

Ariane Launch Replay

Here is a replay of last Thursday’s Ariane 5 launch. Two communications satellites, Eutelsat 25B/Es’hail 1 and GSAT-7, were successfully placed into their planned geostationary transfer orbits from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.

The Ariane 5 is in impressive launch platform, the payloads on this launch had a liftoff mass of 8,950 kg (19,731 lb).

Liftoff of flight VA215 occurred at 20:30 UTC

This was the fourth launch of 2013 and the 57th successful launch since December 2002.

Overall September looks to be a busy month for launches from different spaceports.


JAXA’s HTV4 Launch

On August 4, 2013 at 4:48:46 a.m. JST (Japan Standard Time) the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched the H-II Transfer Vehicle “KOUNOTORI 4″ (HTV-4) from the Tanegashima Space Center.

JAXA's H-II Transfer Vehicle "KOUNOTORI" (HTV)  Image: JAXA

JAXA’s H-II Transfer Vehicle “KOUNOTORI” (HTV). Image: JAXA

KOUNOTORI 4 is an unmanned cargo transfer vehicle, four meters across and about 10 meters long (33 ft by 13 ft), a size large enough to accommodate a bus. On this trip it is loaded with 3.5 tons of supplies, food and experiment hardware for the International Space Station and the Expedition 36 crew. The items include test samples for research experiments inside the Kibo laboratory, a new freezer capable of preserving materials at temperatures below -90 F and my favorite – four CubeSat satellites.

Arrival is scheduled for Friday, August 9th when the HTV-4 will move slowly into a holding position just 12 meters (40 ft) from the ISS. Once in position, Flight Engineers Karen Nyberg and Chris Cassidy will use Canadarm2, the station’s robotic arm to grapple the vehicle in order to dock it to the ISS. Systems aboard KOUNOTORI4 will be monitored by Flight Engineer Luca Parmitano and when everything is ready the Canadarm2 will be commanded by the robotics team in Houston’s Mission Control center to install the vehicle to the Harmony node.

Excellent job on a beautiful launch JAXA!


IRIS Launch

IF the video stays put as it keep going away for some reason:

The IRIS spacecraft was sucessfully launched and is in its “proper orbit”. The Pegasus XL rocket is launched from a plane and (for me) is pretty spectacular.

IRIS is a NASA Small Explorer Mission to observe how solar material moves, gathers energy and heats up as it travels through a little-understood region in the sun’s lower atmosphere. This interface region between the sun’s photosphere and corona powers its dynamic million-degree atmosphere and drives the solar wind.

NASA’s IRIS page.

IRIS to Launch


Today is launch day for IRIS the acronym for the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph. IRIS will be launched out of Vandenburg Air Force Base. It’s not a ground launch; IRIS will be launched from an airborne platform on an Orbital Pegasus Rocket.

Dropped is a more accurate description, first Pegasus is dropped then the rocket ignited and it goes on its way. The drop, currently scheduled to happen 26 June 2013 at 7:27 PDT / 10:27 EDT or 27 June 2013 at 02:27 UTC at an altitude of 39,000 over the Pacific Ocean.

I would hope We should get to see some video of the launch. Hard to say since it will be dark, time will tell.


Albert Einstein Launch Replay


ESA’s ISS resupply ship ATV-4 known as “Albert Einstein” launched atop an Ariane rocket from French Guiana on June 5, 2013. This video is from the STEREX experiment.

The STEREX experiment is a system of four camera’s that can produce 3D stereo images. It worked perfectly! We end up the video with the first ever entry of an Automated Transfer Vessel (ATV) into free flight orbit.

Cool stuff! Learn more about the STEREX experiment and the Albert Einstein here.


Volare Launches


In case you missed it:

Expedition 36/37 Soyuz Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), NASA Flight Engineer Karen Nyberg and Flight Engineer Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency launched on the Russian Soyuz TMA-09M spacecraft yesterday (May 29, Kazakh time or May 28, U.S. time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhsta.

I barely made it in time to watch the launch, I mean barely, like with 2 seconds to spare. Great launch from a great setup.

The view from inside the capsule was interesting, they have stuffed animals hanging there like those objects you see from some rear view mirrors. LOL. I spent all my time watching them and it appeared they showed the effects of acceleration and at the third stage cut-off suddenly showed they weightless. At least it looked that way.


Volare to Launch

The Soyus TMA-09M spacecraft being rolled out. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

The Soyus TMA-09M spacecraft being rolled out. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

A Soyuz TMA-09M spacecraft will carry a new crew to the International Space Station if all goes as scheduled.

The Expedition 36 crew will launch from Baikonur, Kazakhstan on 29 May 2013 at 22:32 UTC, that is 16:31 EDT today.

The Expedition 36 crew is: Soyuz Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and Flight Engineers Karen Nyberg and Luca Parmitano

Luca Parmitano will be Flight Engineer for Expedition 36 AND 37. Luca is the fourth Italian citizen to go to the space station. This is also long duration mission for ESA scheduled to last 166 days, the mission and logo came out of two competitions for Italian citizens and the winning name was proposed by 32 year-old engineer Norberto Cioffi and that name is Volare with according to ESA means ‘to fly’ in Italian.


The Volare logo competition was won by 28 year-old Ilaria Sardella, congrats to them!

A really amazing thing about the trip up is  will only take about 6 hours give or take a few seconds that’s only about 4 orbits. It used to be a three-day trip.

NASA TV and ESA will be providing launch coverage and you might try to watch if you can, 4:30 EDT is afternoon but at the launch site it will be 02:31 AM so it will be dark making for a spectacular launch of what has to be one of the coolest launch systems in use.