Category Archives: General

Space Launch System Test

Impressive, almost a half-million gallons (US) of liquid Hydrogen.

NASA: The largest piece of structural test hardware for America’s new deep space rocket, the Space Launch System, was loaded into Test Stand 4693 at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama Jan. 14, 2019. The liquid hydrogen tank is part of the rocket’s core stage that is more than 200 feet tall with a diameter of 27.6 feet, and stores cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen that will feed the vehicle’s RS-25 engines. The liquid hydrogen tank test article is structurally identical to the flight version of the tank that will comprise two-thirds of the core stage and hold 537,000 gallons of supercooled liquid hydrogen at minus 423 degrees Fahrenheit. Dozens of hydraulic cylinders in the 215-foot-tall test stand will push and pull the tank, subjecting it to the same stresses and loads it will endure during liftoff and flight.

Image Credit: NASA/Tyler Martin

It’s the Solstice!

Later today it is the December solstice. Darker and colder in the north and brighter and warmer in the south; darker/lighter in terms of time of course.

The solstice, thanks to the tilt of the Earth the Sun appears to reach its most southern point before starting to move north once again until June when the northern point is reached.

Last year I wanted to put a stick or some other such thing out to mark the point of the shadow. I did that, mowed it over before the June Solstice. This year the solstice occurs after sunset.

The time of the solstice is 22:23 UTC / 13:27 ET today – 21 Dec 2018.

The day of the December solstice is NOT always on the 21st. Why? See here.

Delta IV Heavy Staggered Start

I was watching coverage of the NROL-71 launch and United Launch Alliance usually precedes launch coverage with informative topics. One of the ones today was the fireball at launch time, just before leaving the ground.

What happened with the launch? As the rocket was about to fully light – we got to the fireball part – then everything stopped.

At this point I am guessing a 24 hour turn-around but that could be very optimistic so the delay could be longer.

A Busy (LIVE) Day

It’s a busy day of LIVE feeds (replays later in the day) tomorrow.

First at 08:30 UTC / 05:30 ET coverage of the Expedition 58 crew launch to the ISS *

Then at 16:40 UTC / 11:40 ET (coverage begins 5 minutes later) of the arrival of the OSIRIS-REx’s arrival at Asteroid Bennu *

Finally at 18:32 UTC / 13:32 ET SpaceX will launch from Vandenberg AFB in California.

* These feeds are from the same source and will remain active for most of the day.

Tuesday 04 December at 18:50 UTC / 14:50 ET Arianespace launches VA-246

Assembling a Rocket

“How Do You Assemble the Largest Rocket Ever Made?” Very carefully.

It’s going to be a busy week with a few live coverage events starting with the launch of Expedition 58 to the International Space Station followed by the arrival of OSIRIS-REx at the asteroid Bennu. Plus a SpaceX launch – see note below.

Then we have a Space X launch of a cargo-spaceship to the International Space Station (a busy place) and the launch of a couple of communications satellites aboard an Ariane V rocket. I believe one of the satellites is a replacement of an Indian satellite for one that failed to reach orbit last April.

So lots of live feeds with replays added later in the day.

Note: Space X is also launching the Spaceflight SSO-A: SmallSat Express mission to low Earth orbit tomorrow, so that clears up some scheduling. That launch is from Vandenberg AFB in California.

Antares Launch

The image above – click it for a larger version – showing the Antares launch over Washington DC was NASA’s Image of the Day recently. Little wonder, what a great shot, I wanted to share it in case you missed it.

Here’s the caption from NASA: The Northrop Grumman Antares rocket, with Cygnus resupply spacecraft onboard, is seen above the Thomas Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC, on Nov. 17, 2018. The rocket launched from Pad-0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia that morning. Northrop Grumman’s 10th contracted cargo resupply mission for NASA to the International Space Station will deliver about 7,400 pounds of science and research, crew supplies and vehicle hardware to the orbital laboratory and its crew.

Photo Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani