SpaceX CRS-4 Launch

The SpaceX CRS-4 mission was launched earlier today bound for the International Space Station with supplies.

Arrival is scheduled for 23 Sept 2014 at 11:04 UT / 07:04 EDT when ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst will capture the Dragon cargo ship with the station’s robotic arm.

So far, nobody does launch videos like SpaceX – great in full screen.

Back to painting for me.

Video source

SpaceX Launch Coming Up

Mission:  SpaceX Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-4)

Rocket: SpaceX Falcon 9

Cargo ship: Dragon

Current Status: Postponed

Launch Date: Sunday, 21 Sept 2014 05:52 UTC / 01:52 EDT

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

NOAA’s Forecast:

Friday Night Scattered showers and thunderstorms, mainly before midnight. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 72. North northeast wind around 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 50%.

Saturday Showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 83. North northeast wind 5 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%.

Mission snippets:

CRS-4 is the fourth of 12 or more missions to the International Space Station.

More than 5,000 pounds of station supplies and materials to support 255 science and research studies to be conducted by the crews of Expeditions 41 and 42.

Dragon will also have as part of the cargo 20 rodents to ride in NASA’s Rodent Research Facility.

A very cool Rapid Scattermmeter to monitor ocean surface wind speed and direction.

Cabbage – well not cabbage but a relative of cabbage for investigating plant growth in space.

Delivery of a new 3-D printer – this is a great addition, I can see them doing some fabrication for different things – very good.

Special Purpose Inexpensive Satellite, or SpinSat,to test how a small satellite moves and positions itself in space using new thruster technology.

Also SpaceX has been working on landing the Falcon for reuse on “landing legs”, this time around SpaceX will try to guide the first stage to a controlled soft-splashdown in the Atlantic. The effort sounds like it is a “let’s try this and see what happens” kind of thing. It is not given too much of a chance of success but I bet the knowledge gained will be more than worth the effort.

SpaceX Dragon V2

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk recently gave us a sneak peak of the new Dragon spacecraft, the V2, being designed to transport up to seven astronauts into and back from orbit.

The V2 will land without a parachute, plus the technology makes for a built in escape system should a problem occur during launch.

I wonder how long will the transition from animation to reality take? I have a feeling not long, SpaceX is an amazing company.


Dragon Makes a Splash

The Space X Dragon cargo ship splashes down.  Credit: NASA

The Space X Dragon cargo ship splashes down. Credit: NASA

There is a great video of the SpaceX Dragon leaving the space station, the video was done in a time lapse so the whole process is shown in 7.5 minutes. See it here.

Update:  This image makes a very nice desktop background.  Get yours at the Wallpaper link above!

From NASA:

SpaceX’s Dragon cargo spacecraft splashed down at 3:05 p.m. EDT Sunday, in the Pacific Ocean, approximately 300 miles west of Baja California, returning more than 3,500 pounds of NASA cargo and science samples from the International Space Station.
A boat will carry the Dragon spacecraft to a port near Los Angeles, where it will be prepared for a return journey to SpaceX’s test facility in McGregor, Texas, for processing. Some cargo, including a freezer packed with research samples collected aboard the space station, will be removed at the port in California and returned to NASA within 48 hours.
Continue reading

Cygnus Launch Delayed

Orbital Sciences Antares and Cygnus being rolled back out to the pad. Image: Orbital / NASA

Orbital Sciences Antares and Cygnus being rolled back out to the pad. Image: Orbital / NASA

The Cygnus cargo ship launch to the International Space Station has been rescheduled again. You may remember in December the launch was delayed because of the cooling pump problem on the ISS which required a series of spacewalks to repair.

This time the delay is the weather, specifically cold temperatures causing the delay, but only for a day.  The day/night temperatures for Tuesday are in the minus 5 to minus 10 C (22 to 16 F) range with freezing precipitation also expected.  The low end of the temperature range acceptable for launch is minus 7 (20 F),  So the weather is cutting it close and there is no compelling reason to rush things.  It’s kind of nice they can just roll Antares in and out of storage “relatively” easily, quite efficient.

At the moment the launch is scheduled for 8 January at 18:32 UTC from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

This mission dubbed Orb-1 will be the first of eight resupply missions to be conducted by Orbital Sciences under a $1.9 billion contract with NASA. This time around Cygnus will be carrying approximately 1465 kg (3,230 lbs.) of cargo to the ISS.

The launch will be carried live by NASA-TV, you should be able to see the coverage at the NASA TV link at the top of the page.

Orbital also has a satellite being launched by SpaceX scheduled for later today.  Launch time:  22:50 UTC.  Coverage may be available here.

The satellite, the Thiacom 6 is a communications satellite that according to the Oribtal website will “carries a hybrid Ku- and C-band payload that will generate approximately 3.7 kilowatts of payload power. The Ku-band payload is comprised of eight active transponders that will provide services to Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar. The C-band payload features 12 active C-band transponders that will provide services via a regional beam to Southeast Asia, and six active C-band transponders that will provide services via a south Africa beam to southern Africa and Madagascar.”



Cygnus Delay for ISS Fix

The raising of the Antares rocket on 16-Dec.  Atop the Antares is the Cyguns cargo ship with supplies destined for the International Space Station (ISS).  Image: Orbital Sciences/NASA

The raising of the Antares rocket on 16-Dec. Atop the Antares is the Cyguns cargo ship with supplies destined for the International Space Station (ISS). Image: Orbital Sciences/NASA

The Antares was raised upright in anticipation of a launch later today, 19-Dec. However due to the cooling control valve problem on the space station the launch was postponed until mid-January.

We sort of knew the delay was coming, so it’s not a big surprise. As for the cooling valve, the fix will be accomplished by a series of spacewalks by (NASA) astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins to replace the pump module.

The spacewalks will occur on December 21, 23 and 25. The replacement pump module is one they have “on the shelf” on the external stowage platform. The offending control valve is mounted on this pump module in case you were wondering.

Live streaming video by Ustream

I hope to be watching as coverage is going to be on NASA-TV and a link here if one is available and usually NASA is very good about such things. I am very interested in how the pump module is interfaced, always open to new ideas you see. The spacewalks are going to take six and a half hours EACH. Wow! Hope the suits work well and there is not water in the helmet issues. TV coverage (and hence the linked video) will begin at 06:15 EST / 11:15 UTC.

As for the raised Antares rocket, they will lower it and put it in “storage” out of the elements.

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 for putting it up.