July 18, 2006
Discovery lands safely
Commander Steve Lindsey has flown the Shuttle Discovery to a picture-perfect landing at NASA's Cape Canaveral landing strip. The successful mission -- from launch to landing -- has sparked considerable 'good vibes' in the popular media, which is a nice change.
The astronauts, the mission control team, and the entire shuttle staff deserve credit for their hard work over the past months (and years, really) to get the orbiter back in shape for the remaining missions.
On a personal note, we at NSS hope that this means a mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope will go forward. Time will tell. Ad Astra!
Posted by george_whitesides at 07:03 PM
July 13, 2006
Bigelow Test Habitat launches successfully
While the crew of the Space Shuttle enjoys a well-earned day off, a revolutionary private spacecraft has joined them in orbit. Yesterday Bigelow Aerospace's Genesis 1 vehicle launched successfully on a Dnepr rocket. This is a big deal -- it is the first space test of Bigelow's plan to build a private orbital space station.
Some call Bigelow's station a space hotel, but it will be more like a private space outpost, where tourists, entrepreneurs, governments, scientists and the viewing public will gather to push forward the next phase of space development.
For more information from Mr. Bigelow himself, please read on:
July 12, 2006
Genesis I Mission Update
Bigelow Aerospace has received confirmation from the Genesis I spacecraft that it has successfully expanded.
We have also confirmed that all of the solar arrays have been deployed.
Bigelow Aerospace mission control has begun to acquire information from the Genesis I spacecraft. The ISC Kosmotras Dnepr rocket has flawlessly delivered the Genesis I into the target orbit of 550km altitude at 64 degrees inclination. The internal battery is reporting a full charge of 26 volts, which leads us to believe that the solar arrays have deployed.
The internal temperature of the spacecraft is reported to be 26 degrees Celsius and we have acquired the spacecraft's Global Positioning System (GPS) signal that will enable us to track the ship in flight.
We have initiated communication with the ship's onboard computers and expect to download more information over the next few hours.
- Robert T. Bigelow
Posted by george_whitesides at 11:10 AM
July 11, 2006
New York Chapter Leader Meets with New York Congressman
Dear George & Chapter Leaders,
I was at the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce's Congressional Luncheon with Congressman Anthony Weiner, who unveiled his "Middle Class Tax Relief Plan." The luncheon was arranged at the Brooklyn Marriott by the Chamber's Governmental Affairs Dept. [Editor: Rep. Weiner recently made news when we proposed cutting nearly $500 million dollars from NASA's exploration budget.]
After Rep. Weiner's talk and his post-luncheon conversations with Brooklyn's businesses leaders, as he was leaving I approached him. Remember, I've known him for over 16 years, back to the late 1980's when he was then Cong. Schumer's top aide and I would meet him during our legislative blitzes in D.C. and in NYC. Here's our conversation:
HAROLD: Hello, Congressman!
REP. WEINER: Hello, Harold!
(I then told him that his talk was excellent, and then I said that I knew about his amendment of June 26 to cut $477 million from NASA's $16.2 billion budget and how it was defeated by a 185-236 vote, and how the large space activist community was upset with his move.)
REP. WEINER: I support the space program. The NASA budget is actually going up. I'm looking for ways to help the COPS Program, and thought this would help.
I then mentioned that there might be other ways to gain funds for the COPS Program, which people naturally support, but not at the expense of NASA's Space Exploration program. --- At that very moment I handed him the current issue of AD ASTRA Magazine. he said "AD ASTRA" and looked at with interest, smiled warmly and thanked me.
REP. WEINER: It's was real nice seeing you again Harold. Take care!
I hope that Rep. Weiner reads "AD ASTRA" cover-to-cover! Let's make his statement: "I SUPPORT THE SPACE PROGRAM" mean it!!! His proposed huge cut, thankfully defeated, did not say that.
National Space Society-NY
Chapter President (NY Space Society)
Posted by george_whitesides at 06:48 PM
NSS Spacecoast Florida Chapter Makes Big Impact at Launch
From Fred Becker, NSS Spacecoast Florida chapter:
Our table at the STS-121 launch was a good success. We set up our NSS table on scrub day one, July 1. We had Ad Astra magazines, STS-121 mission pins, a table and our chapter banner. We gave out 400-500 copies of Ad Astra and 500 pins to the launch viewing crowd at Space View Park in Titusville, due West of Pad 39B. We gave all this out in about two or three hours and had nothing left for launch day, July 4. There is a great opportunity for us to continue this outreach at future launches. Thank you to NSS for the Ad Astra's and to Jim Banke for the mission pins. Thanks also to Space Walk of Fame for letting us set up next to their booths at the park.
We'll have our next chapter meeting tomorrow (Wednesday, July 11), with a Shuttle mission in progress this time. It will be at Paddy Cassidy's in Cocoa Beach, 5:30. I hope to see you there. We will discuss chapter elections and plan for the future.
Posted by george_whitesides at 06:44 PM
Astronaut Scott Kelly, brother of astronaut Mike Kelly, put it well when he said of the nation's space agency, "We're back, baby!" With a relatively trouble free launch and a hard-won set of new inspection and repair procedures, NASA looks poised to get back to the pace it needs to have to complete the International Space Station by 2010.
While the shuttle Discovery still needs to land safely, observers are saying that NASA could come out of this mission in its best shape in years. Welcome news, to the legions of space enthusiasts around the nation. "They've still got the right stuff," said one NSS chapter leader. "We've missed having astronauts in orbit."
Thanks to Bill Harwood of CBS News for the Kelly quote.
Posted by george_whitesides at 10:56 AM
July 09, 2006
NASA posts incredible new launch video
For the first time ever, NASA has released a video of the shuttle and external tank from one of the solid rocket boosters. It looks a little like a scene from 'Star Wars'.
Posted by george_whitesides at 01:27 PM
July 04, 2006
Congratulations NASA , on a Picture-Perfect Launch
This launch worked out just fine, being the first shuttle launch ever on the "glorious 4th".
The main concern just before launch was the wind, which at one point was within
1 mile an hour of the top limit for launch in case of return to the landing strip situations.
The multiple camera positions provided spectacular views of the whole event, inlcluding the
camera on the external tank, which showed the OMS engines firing to help separate the shuttle from the ET.
We saw at least 1 small piece of foam fall off later in the flight, when the vehicle was to high for any
damage to occur.
Hopefully this will be the first of two good test missions, clearing the way for the space station to be completed,
the Hubble repaired, and finally allowing the Shuttle fleet to be retired, safely and in good order.
Posted by johnstrickland at 08:59 PM
Launch on for 2:38pm, Weather is 80% Go
The Space Shuttle Discovery is now scheduled to launch today, July 4, at 2:38 pm Eastern time. This follows two scrubbed launches over the weekend due to weather, and intense discussion on Monday about a
broken foam fragment that was discovered during a routine inspection on Sunday night.
As of late Monday night, mission managers had decided to go for launch today, marking what would be the first US launch of astronauts on Independence Day!
This unprecedented human launch on Independence Day
represents a great opportunity for the space
As the country honors our heroes and celebrates
America at parades and barbeques nationwide,
everyone will be paying attention to the launch of
This will be a tremendous opportunity to get our
message out about the importance of human
spaceflight, so today we all need to step up as
active ambassadors for space.
Regardless of political affiliation, regardless of
space policy leaning, the first launch of astronauts
on Independence Day is a moment to connect with
other Americans about their inspiration for space
Today is the day to emphasize that our space
exploration efforts represent the best of America,
and that there is much more to come.
So, NSS members and all members of the space
community -- Bring a radio to the parades you
will watch, to share the excitement of the
countdown. Organize viewing parties at the
BBQs that are already planning to attend. You
might even call your local TV news station
and say that you are available for an interview
about the launch. Whatever you do, it will make a
difference, on a very special day for space.
Posted by george_whitesides at 08:28 AM
July 03, 2006
Space Interest Alive and Well in Long Island
A report from Long Island Space Society chapter leader Susan Raizer:
"I just wanted to let you know that the interest in space exploration is alive and well on Long Island! Saturday, there were almost 200 people who came to the Cradle of Aviation museum to view the launch. It was very gratifying. We had many people today as well who are genuinely interested, including youngsters!"
We will post information from other NSS chapter leaders as it come in.
Posted by george_whitesides at 10:22 AM
July 02, 2006
Independence Day Shuttle Launch!
After scrubbing twice over the weekend, NASA has announced that the next scheduled launch attempt for the Space Shuttle will be Tuesday, July 4 -- in other words, Independance Day!
A successful launch on our nation's 230th birthday would be a huge boost to NASA. It evokes memories of the dramatic landing of the Mars Pathfinder probe on July 4, 1997, when the little probe generated the largest Internet audience of its time.
So -- stay tuned at 2:37pm on Tuesday for the launch, with the launch windwo opening at 2:32pm and closing at 2:42pm (rounding down to the nearest minute). Ad Astra!
Posted by george_whitesides at 11:46 PM
July 01, 2006
Weather at the Cape
The currently estimated 40% chance of a Shuttle launch delay or scrub is not caused by the prediction of any specific storm,
but by the 40% chance that within a roughly 40 mile diameter circle centered at the launch pads at Complex 39,
one or more rainstorms may enter the zone.
These storms are part of the normal sea breeze "front" that tends to develop most days along many coastlines during the afternoon hours, as warm air rises over the land, pulling in the cooler air over the water.
The movement creates a certain percentage of showers and thunderstorms along it. In the upwind direction, the "no rain zone" may extend out to 30 miles.
The main risk of a thunderstorm or rain shower is lightning, which could strike the shuttle.
Airplanes are sometimes hit by lightning in mid-air, almost always with no damage,
but due to the many explosive components on the shuttle that could be triggered by electricity, this risk is too high to allow.
If the launch window is long enough so that they can wait until a storm exits the circle, the launch can then proceed.
Anvil Top Angst:
Large thunderstorms which had already moved west of the Cape toward Orlando have produced large
"anvil tops" near the top of the troposphere which can be electrically charged, but usually carry no rain.
These cloud streamers are being blown back toward and over the Cape by the high altitude winds from the west.
If the Shuttle with its exhaust plume were to plow through the relatively thin anvil-tops,
there is a chance that a lightning bolt could be triggered by the plume and reach the ground.
This would also directly endanger the shuttle.
The 40 mile circle around the pad only has to be free of dangerous clouds and rain for a short period before
and after the launch.
The shuttle would also not want to fly through a rainstorm directly. The high velocity of the Shuttle hitting
raindrops could damage the soft and fragile tiles.
Posted by johnstrickland at 12:35 PM