Space X Launch

Space X rocket production.  Image Space X

Space X rocket production. Image Space X

Launch time (scheduled): 16:00 UTC / 12:00 EDT / 09:00 PDT LAUNCHED!

I’ll add a video when it comes up.

Mission: CASSIOPE Mission for MDA Upgraded Falcon 9 Demonstration Flight of Canada

Launch Facility: Vandenberg AFB, California USA

Hope everyone saw Cygnus docked and installed on the ISS earlier.  If not click here.

September has been very busy for launches!

Enceladus Plus

Enceladus in "Saturnshine" by Cassini.  Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Enceladus in “Saturnshine” by Cassini. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Here’s a picture of Enceladus from Cassini. The image was taken from a distance of 832,000 km (517,000 miles). The Sun and the camera are on opposite sides of the moon. The light provided to be able to see the moon and the now famous jets of water is “Saturnshine”, light reflected off Saturn.

Plus this:

You might have seen the news of Curiosity finding water on Mars. The soil sample contained two percent water. This is the first direct measurement as far as I know. There have been estimates of soil water detected by the HEND instrument on the Mars Odyssey. I managed to find the reference. Further findings will be very interesting, I’d look in one of the “gullies”, then again I’d be doing all sorts of things that might be fun for me but not for the mission.

Two percent is quite a lot I would think considering. Seems like there are a few variables too, like soil particle size. I’m assuming, and I say that because I don’t know nor have I been able to find out for sure, is this hygroscopic water (i.e. beyond capillary water)? I would think it would sublimate when exposed, continuing to look at that. Here’s the story. If anybody knows leave a comment.

Cygnus :

There will be an attempt a docking tomorrow morning (Sunday, 29 Sept.). Coverage starts at 08:30 UTC (04:30 EDT). I’ll put a video link here before hand.

Capture was successful.  Nice and smooth as far as I could see.   I noted about a four second delay between the streamed version and the television.  Had a little bit of a time getting the right feed and then my computer decided to spaz out for a few minutes.  Not a disease or anything but ever since a couple updates ago, we seem to have these little “fits”.  LOL.

Cygnus is now attached!

Space X

There will be yet another launch tomorrow too. Space X is scheduled to launch the Falcon 9 with Canadian research satellite (and the Canadian Space Agency) and MDA Corp.

The launch window opens at 16:00 UTC. I’ll have more on that launch tomorrow morning.

Soyuz Launch

Deliver crew members to the ISS:

  • Oleg Kotov, Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) (to be Expedition 38 Commander)
  • Sergey Ryazanskiy, Roscosmos (Expedition 38 Flight Engineer)
  • Michael Hopkins, NASA (Expedition 38 Flight Engineer)

Return Crew members to Earth (on November 11):

  • Fyodor Yurchikhin, Roscosmos, Expedition 37 Commander
  • Karen Nyberg, NASA, Expedition 37 Flight Engineer
  • Luca Parmitano, ESA, Expedition 37 Flight Engineer (YAY Luca!)

Vehicle: Soyuz

Launch Facility: Baikonur Cosmodrome

Date: 25 September 2013 (26 September 2013 at launch site)

Launch Time: 20:58 UTC / 02:58 Kazakh time / 16:58 EDT

Docking time: 02:47 UTC / 22:47 EDT

Launch Live Link:

Launch coverage starts at 20:00 UTC / 16:00 EDT
Docking coverage starts at 02:00 UTC / 22:00 EDT

As usual I will replace the live link with a YT video (or equiv) when it becomes available.

I said at the start of the month September was going to be a busy month for launches!

Launch Day for Orbital

Mission:  Orbital Sciences Corp Cygnus Cargo ISS Resupply Demonstration Flight

Rocket: Orbital’s Antares

Current Status: Launched YouTube replay below

Launch Date: Wednesday, 18 Sept. 2013 14:50 UTC / 10:50 EDT

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

NOAA’s Forecast:

Wednesday: Partly sunny, with a high near 70. Northeast wind 8 to 10 mph. (about 7 to 9 knots)

The Antares rocket is designed to provide low-cost and reliable access to space via a two-stage vehicle having an option for a third stage depending on mission. In the current configuration Antares can provide low-Earth orbit capability for payloads in excess of 5,000 kg. Orbital’s Antares is building on a successful family of smaller launch vehicles including the Pegasus, Taurus and Minotaur launch vehicles.

The Cygnus spacecraft is designed by Orbital to be an advanced maneuvering cargo delivery craft to provide ISS resupply services under a NASA Commercial Orbital Transportation Services Space Act Agreement. Orbital will use the Cygnus to perform eight missions to deliver around 20,000 kg of cargo to the ISS. Cygnus consists of a common service module and a pressurized cargo module. Orbital builds on a successful avionics systems from their LEOStar and GEOStar satellite product lines as well as propulsion and power systems from the GEOStar communications satellites.

Good Luck Orbital!

JAXA Launches Epsilon-1

After a delay of a couple of weeks the Japanese Space Agency, JAXA launches it’s first Epsilon Launch Vehicle, Epsilon-1 with the Spectroscopic Planet Observatory for Recognition of Interaction of Atmosphere (SPRINT-A).

The launch took place at 14:00 p.m. from the Uchinoura Space Center. So far everything is happening as planned and the solar paddles have been deployed and the spacecraft is reportedly in good condition.

As is the custom, the SPRINT-A has been renamed. The nickname is HISAKI.
Continue reading

LADEE Update

Thought you might like this LADEE pre-launch press conference describing the mission. A video of the launch is in the previous post if you didn’t see it.

There were early reports of a problem with the reaction wheels used to position and stabilize the spacecraft. Mission managers don’t sound too concerned:

“The LADEE spacecraft is working as it was designed to under these conditions – there’s no indication of anything wrong with the reaction wheels or spacecraft,” said S. Pete Worden, Ames center director. “The LADEE spacecraft is communicating and is very robust. The mission team has ample time to resolve this issue before the spacecraft reaches lunar orbit. We don’t have to do anything in a rush.”
LADEE team members are currently analyzing the situation. Normal checkout takes a couple of days, and this anomaly may add a couple more days to the process.
“This is not an unusual event in spacecraft,” Worden said. “We plan in the next few days to complete spacecraft checkout.”


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.