News Article | May 8, 2017
The US Air Force's Boeing X-37B, often dubbed as a mystery space vehicle, returned to Earth on 7 May, after spending 718 days in low Earth orbit. The Air Force took to Twitter to announce the feat. This was the X-37B programme's fourth successful test, significant as it is the first time the vehicle has both launched and landed at a single home port - the Kennedy Space Center. Trending: 'Guilt by volume': Macron leaks fail to shock experts, but can it influence the election? The US military maintains that the X-37B was sent to space for tests pertaining to the performance of future space missions. However, speculation has been rife about the secret space plane for years now, with many saying it is a weaponised platform used by the US for various activities such as spying and destroying other satellites. It is even said to be capable of releasing weapons at targeted areas on Earth. Alternatively known as the Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV), the X-37B is a reusable unmanned spacecraft that is launched into space by a carrier rocket. It then re-enters the Earth's atmosphere as a spaceplane. The X-37 programme was started by Nasa in 1999, which initially planned to construct two space vehicles; an Approach and Landing Test Vehicle (ALTV), and an Orbital Vehicle. In 2004 the project was transferred to the US military, specifically its research wing, Darpa (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), famous for running an array of classified projects. Most popular: Samsung Galaxy S8 review: More than just a pretty face Although Nasa's objective to build an Orbital Vehicle did not materialise, it nevertheless served as the base for what is the X-37B now. After Darpa finished the ALTV part of the programme, the first flight drop test was conducted on 7 April, 2006, at Edwards Air Force Base, California. The actual space orbital was launched four years later on 22 April 2010 using an Atlas V rocket. When asked about the purpose of the mission, neither Nasa nor the US military have given clear answers, simply repeating the line that it is for future space research. An X-37B fact sheet provided by the Air Force defines the primary objectives of the X-37B as twofold: reusable spacecraft technologies advancement for America's future in space; and operating experiments which can be returned to and examined on Earth. The X-37B programme is currently run by the Air Force's Rapid Capabilities Office, and to date two different X-37B vehicles have completed a total of four missions, known as OTV-1, OTV-2, OTV-3 and OTV-4. The secrecy surrounding the mission resulted in rumour and speculation. Shortly after its maiden orbital launch in 2010, SpaceDaily wrote a lengthy feature suggesting the X-37B could be a "Space Bomber" designed to destroy enemy satellites, or act as a "launch vehicle" that could deliver bombs or missiles to any part of the planet. Some experts dismissed these possibilities, saying the plane is too small and not manoeuvrable enough for such work. Other conspiracy theorists claimed that while it may not be able to destroy satellites, it could be deploying its own. Others opined that it is used for spying on countires such as China and North Korea. The latest theories suggest the vessel is testing out an experimental propulsion system.
News Article | May 12, 2017
Since late 2016, NASA's privately-run Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, an unnamed cable television network, and a company that builds concept vehicles have been quietly collaborating to build a full-size rover for exploring Mars. Video and images of the completed vehicle started appearing on social media sites on May 9, following an official unveiling of the unnamed rover in Florida that day. One clip shared on Instagram shows the rover, which resembles the Batmobile from the movie "Batman Begins," slowly idling around a road in front of the complex: Business Insider first learned about the rover via a Reddit post titled "What is this beast?!" So what is it? Marc Parker, a designer and builder of the new rover, told Business Insider that it's a six-wheeled, all-electric vehicle that was created "with every intention" of overcoming obstacles on the sandy, rocky red planet. However, the unnamed rover will never roll across Mars. Instead, says Parker, it's going on a cross-country tour as part of an educational event called "Summer of Mars" that's co-branded with NASA. Led by the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex — which is owned by NASA but operated by a private contractor and works closely with the space agency, yet is not taxpayer-funded — the program aims to inspire the public about space exploration and interplanetary travel, especially regarding NASA's mandate to reach Mars by 2033. Marc and his brother, Shanon Parker, began building the rover around November 2016, shortly after their company, Parker Brothers Concepts, was approached with the idea. Marc says that he and Shanon launched their business about five years ago to build "outlandish" vehicles for television and movie productions. ("We're the guys they call when everyone else says 'it can't be done,'" Marc says.) But Marc says NASA did not fund the rover, whose cost he wouldn't provide, and that it was bankrolled by a private company involved in the project. "We're also filming for a reality television series that's going to be coming out about this build," Marc told Business Insider. While he's under a non-disclosure agreement with the TV network, Marc says it's "one of the bigger cable networks." (An Instagram photo shared on Shanon's account shows members of the "Mythbusters" TV shows, which airs on the Discovery Channel.) Parker Brother Concepts made the rover from scratch from about November 2016 through early April 2017. The two owners and a few of their employees, plus a number of suppliers they deal with, worked tirelessly on its construction for those few months. "Me and the guys, we averaged about 80 to 100 hours a week, each. We worked 10-, 12-, 14-hour days, seven days a week since late last year," Marc says. "If I thought about how many hours we put into this thing, I'd probably cry. It's way too many." Marc said a formal announcement of the rover and TV show is forthcoming. However, he and Shanon have posted several teaser images and videos on their Instagram accounts. The above clip, posted to Instagram by SeaDek (a marine product supplier that worked on the rover with Parker Brother Concepts), shows the interior of the vehicle. A second video, below, provides another view inside the rover when it's lit up in the dark: Additional images posted by those involved show off other features of the vehicle. For instance, below is a photo of the six 50-inch-tall, 30-inch-wide wheels, which Marc said are designed to let the fine sands of Mars slip through: A Facebook post by the company shows the same wheels under construction: Another photo shows the window of the rover with carbon-fiber accents and a NASA logo: And this image gives a front view of the vehicle inside the fabrication shop of Parker Brothers Concepts: A NASA spokesperson told Business Insider that the project "is not really a NASA-affiliated thing" and is run by its independently operated Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. (Representatives at the visitor complex did not immediately return our calls.) However, Marc Parker said NASA introduced his company to engineers and scientists at Kennedy Space Center who are actively working on the space agency's goals of exploring Mars with astronauts. According to Marc, NASA gave his company a few parameters for the vehicle and had two schools of thought for it: either a small scout vehicle "for four astronauts to investigate, explore, and get test samples" or a "full research laboratory". The company started with an electric motor, solar panels, and a 700-volt battery and built the vehicle around that, Marc says, "since there's no gas stations up there" — and decided to tackle both concepts at once. "What we actually came up with was a dual-purpose vehicle. It actually separates in the middle. The rear section is a full lab, the front area is a cockpit for going out and doing scouting," he says. "The lab section can actually disconnect ... and be left on its own to do autonomous research. That way the scout vehicle can go out to do its thing without the fuel consumption and extra weight, then come back later." While the cab is lined with earthly "creature comforts" such as GPS, air conditioning, and radio, Marc says the body is made entirely out of aircraft-grade aluminum and carbon-fiber to keep the weight down. He says it hasn't been officially weighed, but estimated the rover — which is 28 feet long, 13 feet wide, and 11 feet tall — should come in at about 5,000 pounds. "A Honda Civic weighs about 3,500 to 4,000 pounds, and a 5,000 pounds is about the weight of a pickup truck," he said, emphasizing that the concept vehicle is very light given its size and capabilities. Marc says that while the rover could drive as fast as 60-70 mph, it's designed to roll along at 10-15 mph or less, since it'd be used to methodically roll over dunes, rocks, craters, hills, and more. He added that each wheel has an independent suspension to overcome such obstacles with ease. Of all the projects that Marc says he and his brother have worked on, he said "this one has blown us away the most." He hopes it inspires NASA and the public alike to dream big about the future of space exploration. "Movies are cool, TV is cool, but it's something else to be part of a thing that could inspire kids to go Mars and live in outer space," he says. This story was updated to clarify the relationship between NASA and the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. NOW WATCH: NASA captured incredible footage of tornadoes on Mars 39 TV shows that have been canceled How going to space affects men and women differently Stephen Hawking just set humanity a 100-year-deadline to colonize other planets — but this astronaut says we’re not ready
News Article | May 12, 2017
FILE PHOTO: NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) 70-metric-ton configuration is seen launching to space in this undated artist's rendering released August 2, 2014. REUTERS/NASA/MSFC/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - NASA has delayed the first launch of its heavy-payload rocket until 2019 and decided against an idea floated by the White House to put astronauts aboard the capsule that is set to fly around the moon, the U.S. space agency said on Friday. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration had hoped to launch the Space Launch System, or SLS, rocket in November 2018. The rocket will send the deep-space Orion capsule on a high lunar orbit. The launch is part of NASA's long-term program to use the rocket to get astronauts and equipment to Mars. In February, at the behest of President Donald Trump's administration, NASA began to weigh the implications of adding a two-person crew for the trial flight. The conclusion of the study was to wait until a second flight before adding a crew, NASA Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot said. The research "really reaffirmed that the baseline plan we have in place was the best way for us to go,” he told reporters on a conference call. Adding systems to support a crew would have cost NASA $600 million to $900 million more and would likely have delayed the flight to 2020, he said. Even without a crew, the SLS will not be ready to blast off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida until 2019, Lightfoot said, adding that the agency would have a more specific timeframe in about a month. The delay would push back the rocket’s second flight beyond 2021, said NASA Associate Administrator William Gerstenmaier. The delays are largely due to technical issues encountered during the development of SLS and Orion, as well as tornado damage to the rocket’s manufacturing plant in New Orleans. By the end of the next fiscal year on September 30, 2018, NASA will have spent $23 billion on the rocket, capsule, launch site and support systems, according to an audit by NASA’s Office of Inspector General. That excludes $9 billion spent on the mothballed Constellation lunar exploration program, which included initial development of the Orion and a second heavy-lift rocket. Initially, the SLS rocket, which uses engines left over from the space shuttle program and shuttle-derived solid rocket boosters, will have the capacity to put about 77 tons (70 metric tons) into an orbit about 100 miles (160 km) above Earth. Later versions are expected to carry nearly twice that load. “We’re really building a system,” Gerstenmaier said. “It is much, much more than one flight.”
News Article | May 9, 2017
The X-37B spacecraft operated by the U.S. Air Force landed at Kennedy Space Center on the morning of May 7, causing a sonic boom that was heard by residents across central Florida. The unmanned spaceplane spent 718 days in orbit before coming down, about a month and a half longer than the craft's previous record of 674 days. The Air Force operates two X-37Bs, which are reusable spaceplanes built by Boeing that launch on Atlas V rockets for extended missions in orbit. Similar to the Space Shuttle in appearance, the X-37B is only about a quarter of the size at 29 feet long. The spaceplane needs no cockpit or life support systems, and can operate in orbit for hundreds of days at a time. Like the Space Shuttle, the X-37B has double doors that cover a payload bay, which is about the size of the bed of a pickup truck. What exactly the Air Force uses the X-37B for is classified. The description of the spacecraft on the USAF website reads: "Managed by the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, the X-37B program is the newest and most advanced re-entry spacecraft that performs risk reduction, experimentation and concept of operations development for reusable space vehicle technologies." It has been widely speculated that the craft is used for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions, spying on operations in places like Iran and North Korea. Because the craft can land and have its payload swapped out whenever the Air Force deems it necessary, the X-37B could potentially be used for a number of missions and testing platforms. Experts have also guessed that the X-37B could be used for testing autonomous flight technologies, serve as a communications relay in orbit, or serve as a testing platform for systems that could ultimately be used on a manned spacecraft. The operations of the X-37B might be classified, but there is no hiding it when it reenters the atmosphere and shakes the countryside with a sonic boom. This is the first time the craft has landed in Florida, having performed all three of its previous landings in California. Another mission using the X-37B is scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral later this year. How long the X-37B will orbit this time, and what exactly it will be doing, is known only by a handful of people in the Department of Defense. You Might Also Like
News Article | May 7, 2017
After the perfect execution of yet another launch and landing of the Falcon 9 rocket on May 1, Elon Musk’s space venture, SpaceX, has a lot of other exciting things in the pipeline over the next two months. The company also has long-term plans to launch a suite of satellites that will provide high-speed internet to the entire planet, for which it provided details earlier this week. With two more months left in the current financial quarter, SpaceX has a busy launch schedule. The company began the month with putting a U.S. government spy satellite into orbit, and then landing the first stage of the Falcon 9 back on Earth. And the only other likely launch this month will be another Falcon 9 rocket, from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, which will carry the fourth communications satellite of Inmarsat’s Global Xpress network. The launch is currently scheduled for May 15, according to SpaceFlightNow. The Inmarsat 5 F4 spacecraft was originally planned to be launched aboard a Falcon Heavy rocket. The British satellite communications company took away some business from SpaceX, following the September launch pad explosion which destroyed both a Falcon 9 rocket and its payload, a Spacecom communications satellite. That accident delayed all the launches scheduled by SpaceX while the company investigated the incident and got clearance to fly again. In contrast with May, June will likely be a lot busier for SpaceX, as the month kicks off with a Falcon 9 launch that will carry an uncrewed Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station. The June 1 cargo resupply mission for NASA will be the company’s eleventh. Later in the month, SpaceX will, for the second time, reuse a Falcon 9 rocket. A mid-June launch of BulgariaSat 1 will use a refurbished Falcon 9, after the company did so successfully for the first time March 30, when it launched SES-10 satellites. If the launch goes as per the schedule, SpaceX would have brought the turnaround time for reusing rockets to about five months. The payload for the launch is a communications satellite for Bulsatcom. Late June will see a flurry of activity, with three launches of communications satellites. One is for the Intelsat 35e, which will become a part of Intelsat’s “Epic” fleet to provide coverage over North and South America, the Caribbean, Europe and Africa. Another launch would be the second set of 10 satellites for Iridium. The Iridium Next 11-20 satellites are part of the company’s mobile communications fleet. This launch, currently scheduled for June 29, will take place from the Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, while the rest are set for taking off from Florida. The last expected launch in this quarter will be the SES-11/EchoStar 105 hybrid satellite. The company or Elon Musk made no announcement in November, but at that time, SpaceX had filed an application with the Federal Communications Commission to launch a constellation of satellites that would provide high-speed internet coverage to the whole planet. While a lot of details were available at the time, there was no clarity on when the satellites would launch. Speaking before the Senate’s Committee on Commerce, SpaceX vice president of satellite government affairs reportedly said the company would start testing the satellites later this year, and that phased launches would start in 2019. “The remaining satellites in the constellation will be launched in phases through 2024,” she added.
News Article | May 10, 2017
Pro-Europe win raises scientists’ hopes Researchers in France reacted with relief and optimism to Emmanuel Macron’s sweeping victory in the country’s presidential elections on 7 May. Macron decisively defeated his far-right opponent Marine Le Pen, the leader of the Front National party, who had threatened to take France out of the European Union. The pro-European president-elect promised in his campaign to save France’s research and higher-education budgets from cuts and to launch a science-driven innovation programme to create jobs. Cap on grants The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, will limit the amount of funding that scientists supported by the agency can hold at any one time. The policy, announced on 2 May, is intended to make it easier for early- and mid-career scientists to obtain NIH grants. The agency said it will not set a hard limit on the number of grants or the amount of funding that individual researchers can receive. Instead, it will introduce a grant-support index that assigns a point value to each type of grant on the basis of its complexity and size. Currently, just 10% of grant recipients win more than 40% of the NIH’s research money. Mixed societies A total of 36 women were inducted last week into the leading scientific societies of the United States and the United Kingdom. On 2 May, the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) announced 84 new members, 23 of whom (27%) are women. And on 5 May, the Royal Society, Britain’s oldest and most prestigious scientific society, named 13 women (26%) in its 2017 class of 50 fellows. In addition, NAS president Marcia McNutt, a geophysicist, was made a foreign member of the Royal Society. New shores David Lipman is stepping down as director of the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) in Bethesda, Maryland, the institute announced on 3 May. Lipman, who has directed the NCBI since its creation in 1988, was responsible for launching the literature database PubMed and the DNA-sequence repository GenBank, along with other public bioinformatics databases. Lipman will now serve as chief science officer at a private food-science company, Impossible Foods in Redwood City, California. Failed deal Dutch universities have failed to reach a new agreement with Oxford University Press (OUP) over access to the publisher’s academic journals. On 1 May, the Association of Universities in the Netherlands, which led the negotiations, said that the country’s research universities were unable to agree to the British publisher’s latest licensing proposal, because it did not include an offer for affordable open access to research articles in OUP journals. The Netherlands aims to make the results of all publicly funded science freely accessible by 2020. Secret mission After nearly 718 days in space, the US Air Force’s unmanned X-37B spaceplane landed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on 7 May. The reusable plane, which looks like a miniature space shuttle, was on an unspecified mission to carry out experiments in orbit. It was the fourth and longest flight yet for the military programme, and the first to land in Florida rather than at an Air Force base in California. DIY memo The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) in Stockholm has called on European Union member states to review their procedures for authorizing do-it-yourself gene-engineering kits produced in the United States. The kits, which are intended to contain a harmless strain of the common laboratory bacterium Escherichia coli, use CRISPR precision-editing technologies and are targeted at citizen scientists. The move followed the discovery in March by German authorities that some kits had been contaminated with pathogenic bacteria, including some multidrug-resistant strains. Germany has since banned their import. The ECDC’s assessment report concluded that the risk of infection to users is low. Dead flowers A paperwork blunder has led to the accidental destruction of a valuable botanical reference collection, according to media reports. In March, biosecurity officers with the Australian quarantine authorities destroyed allegedly mislabelled samples of rare nineteenth-century daisies, which the French National Museum of Natural History in Paris had sent on loan to Brisbane. Australian authorities have asked for a review of the incident, the BBC reports. Call for diversity Canadian universities must develop plans to diversify the composition of some of their most prestigious posts, according to a requirement announced on 4 May by a trio of science-funding agencies. The new rule applies to the Can$265-million (US$194-million) Canada Research Chairs Program, which funds an estimated 1,600 professorships at Canadian higher-education institutions. By December, universities with five or more research chairs must present a plan to increase the representation of women, indigenous peoples and other minority groups, as well as people with disabilities. Progress reports are required annually, and the agencies warned that failure to fulfil the requirements could result in the withholding of funds. Advisers axed The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has dismissed at least five academic researchers from a scientific advisory board. The scientists were notified on 5 May that their appointments to the 18-member Board of Scientific Counselors had expired and would not be renewed, according to media reports. An EPA official said the agency would consider replacing them with representatives from EPA-regulated industries. The US House of Representatives has also passed a Republican-sponsored bill to restructure another EPA advisory board; critics say the legislation would make it easier for industry representatives to serve. Nazi review Germany’s Max Planck Society has launched a €1.5-million (US$1.6-million), three-year study to discover as much as possible about the victims of Nazi euthanasia programmes whose brains were acquired by scientists for neuroscience research. Around 200,000 physically or mentally disabled people were murdered during the programmes. On 2 May, the society named a four-member international team that will try to identify those victims whose remains are still in Max Planck institutes and those who were interred in a special ceremony in 1990. The team will also try to reconstruct exactly what happened to the brain preparations, and how they may have been used in research and research publications. Irrational doctrine Serbia’s evolutionary society has expressed concern over a renewed attack on Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by some 170 Serbian academics, including engineers, physicians, artists, philosophers, journalists, teachers and clergy. On 3 May, the group signed a petition to include the teaching of creationist theory in schools and universities. The academics also claim in a letter to the education and science ministry, the parliament, Serbia’s Academy of Sciences and Arts and its leading universities that Darwin’s “dogmatic” theory lacks scientific confirmation. In response, scientists with the evolutionary society said that the signatories and their creationist reasoning lack understanding of simple biology. In 2004, the Serbian education ministry had attempted in vain to ban evolutionary theory from school curricula. Charitable donations to British universities surpassed the £1-billion (US$1.3-billion) milestone for the first time last year. The 110 universities that took part in the latest Ross–CASE survey of charitable giving secured a total of £1.06 billion in philanthropic income in the academic year 2015–16. Donations were up 23% on the previous year and have almost tripled over the past 12 years. Fifty-five per cent of this income came from organizations, and 45% from individual donors. 15–16 May A Royal Society meeting in Newport Pagnell, UK, addresses how long-term climate change has affected marine palaeolandscapes. 15–19 May The International Conference on Precision Physics and Fundamental Physical Constants takes place in Warsaw.
News Article | May 17, 2017
On Monday, May 15, SpaceX successfully launched its heaviest ever satellite using the Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral. The Inmarsat payload carrying launch is the second one in two weeks for the Elon Musk-owned company. The Inmarsat-5 F4 satellite will remain in the Earth's orbit to provide high speed Ka-band relay stations to aircrafts, offshore ships, and to government and commercial users all over the world. Monday's launch was the fourth broadband satellite from Inmarsat in its $1.6 billion Global Xpress constellation. The other three Boeing-build satellites have already been launched previously. Over the next 90 days, the Inmarsat-5 will use its boosters to maintain its orbit above the Earth at an altitude of 22,300 miles. "That is the background of Inmarsat, mobile applications, so this constellation, and the entire network around it, has been designed to be optimized for mobile users," Michele Franci, Chief Technology Officer at Inmarsat, revealed. The fifth generation satellites will ensure speeds of a maximum 50 megabits for downlink and upto 5 megabits for uplink for customers on the sea, in the air, or on the land. The mission initiated when the Falcon 9's engine ignited and the rocket achieved lift off. After a flight of around 2 minutes and 45 seconds, the first-stage boosters of the Falcon 9 shut down and disengaged. However, this time around, SpaceX did not plan to recover the first-stage rocket. The Inmarsat-5 weighs around 13,417 pounds, which is the heaviest payload the Falcon 9 rocket has ever delivered. To fly the heavy satellite into space, all the fuel in the first-stage rocket had to be used up. Without any fuel it would have been futile to try and land the first-stage rocket. This is why SpaceX technicians sacrificed the first-stage rocket this time around. Out of the six launches this year, SpaceX managed to recover the first-stage rocket four times. Monday's launch was just the second time in the year that the first stage could not be recovered. Nonetheless, after the first stage disengaged, the second stage boosters fired up twice to ensure that the payload reached the desired destination. "It's been a great afternoon and evening. All you can ask for today," SpaceX mission commentator John Insprucker noted. SpaceX is planning to launch the dragon spacecraft on June 1, which will carry important cargo to the International Space Station. The agency is then scheduled to launch a Bulgarian Satellite on June 15 and also an Intelsat relay station by month end. The pace at which SpaceX is launching missions indicates how proficient the company has becomes at these launches. All it needs to do now is to get the Falcon Heavy rocket ready as soon as possible. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
News Article | May 15, 2017
This evening, SpaceX will attempt to launch its sixth Falcon 9 rocket of the year, sending a communications satellite into orbit for the company Inmarsat. But don’t expect one of the company’s signature landings after launch this time. Unlike most of its missions these days, SpaceX will not try to recover the Falcon 9 post-takeoff. That’s because the requirements of this mission would make it pretty hard to land the rocket after launch. The satellite that SpaceX is launching, called Inmarsat-5 F4, is larger than a double-decker bus and weighs nearly 13,500 pounds. That makes it perhaps the heaviest single probe that the Falcon 9 has ever lifted. Plus, the satellite is going into a particularly high orbit called Geostationary Transfer Orbit — a path 22,000 miles above the Earth’s surface. Both of these factors combined mean that the Falcon 9 will need to use a whole lot of propellant during launch to get the satellite where it needs to go. That means there will be very little propellant leftover to perform a landing. (Learn more about that here.) don’t expect one of the company’s signature landings after launch this time However, today’s launch is still significant for SpaceX, since it marks the company’s first mission for Inmarsat. The satellite that’s going up tonight will join three additional I-5 probes already in orbit, making up the Global Xpress constellation for Inmarsat. This satellite group is responsible for providing high-speed, mobile broadband service to airliners, ships, and more. Additionally, today’s launch comes just over two weeks after SpaceX’s last mission — and the company’s next launch is tentatively scheduled for just over two weeks from now. That means SpaceX may finally be getting to the launch cadence that the company has boasted for a while now. In February, SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell told Reuters that the company planned to launch “every two to three weeks” this year, after one of the company’s launchpads in Florida became operational. It seems like SpaceX may be on track for meeting that goal. Tonight’s Falcon 9 is scheduled to take off around 7:20PM ET from pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The company has a 49-minute launch window, during which time the Falcon 9 can still take off. If for some reason tonight’s launch is scrubbed, SpaceX has a backup launch date for tomorrow at 7:21PM ET. Though weather is looking good for tonight so far; there’s an 80 percent chance that conditions will be right for launch, according to Patrick Military Air Force Base. Check back here about 15 minutes prior to takeoff to watch SpaceX’s coverage of the launch live.
News Article | May 18, 2017
NanoRacks began the first of two airlock cycles for the 11th and 12th NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer Missions (NRCSD-11, NRCSD-12) on May 16, 2017. We are pleased to update our customers, friends, and shareholders that the first round of deployments has been completed successfully. NRCSD-11 and NRSD-12 were brought to the International Space Station on the Orbital ATK-7 mission, which launched on April 18, 2017 from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. This launch was our largest CubeSat mission to date, bringing 34 satellites into the Space Station, plus four CubeSats mounted on externally on the Cygnus spacecraft. This week, our operations team worked with NASA Johnson Space Station, JAXA, and Astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fisher on the installation of the NRCSD in preparations for the first deployment early morning on May 16th. Click the button below to learn about the 17 CubeSats deployed this past week as we at NanoRacks gear up for the second airlock cycle scheduled to begin on May 22, 2017, where we will deploy the NRCSD-12 satellites. In this first cycle alone, the CubeSats deployed represent 10 different countries around the world. To date, NanoRacks has deployed 154 CubeSats via the NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer on the International Space Station, and 165 CubeSats in total. We continue to show the unique value of using space stations for satellite deployments and appreciate everyone's continued support. Congratulations to all of the CubeSat teams, and good luck in your satellite operations! Please follow SpaceRef on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.
News Article | May 20, 2017
On Friday, May 19, NASA inducted two of its veteran astronauts into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. Former NASA astronauts Ellen Ochoa and Michael Foale were conferred the honor for setting an example for young people and keeping calm under pressure during important missions. Ochoa is the first Hispanic woman to step into space. Foale is the first and only American to reside on Russia's Mir Space Station and the International Space Station. Both the veteran astronauts were honored in a ceremony held at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Bob Cabana, the current director of NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, presided over the ceremony. Cabana is also a member of the Astronaut Hall of Fame and was inducted in 2008. With the inclusion of Foale and Ochoa, the total number of NASA astronauts honored rose to 95. Ochoa is a doctorate in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University and joined NASA as a research engineer in 1988. Her first posting was at NASA's Ames Research Center and in 1990, she was transferred to the Johnson Space Center after getting selected as an astronaut candidate. Currently, the 59-year old veteran astronaut serves as the director at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. She is the first Hispanic woman and the second female director at the Johnson Space Center. Ochoa has flown four shuttle missions, with her first in 1993 and the last in 2002. The NASA astronaut served as a specialist on the STS-56 space mission in 1993 and as a Payload Commander on STS-66 in 1994. In 1999, Ochoa served the role of a mission specialist and flight engineer for the STS-96 space mission. In 2002, on her last flight STS-110, the veteran astronaut served as a flight engineer. Sixty-year-old Foale is best known for his five-month long stay on the Mir Space station in 1997. Foale hails from Cambridge, UK, and is doctorate in laboratory astrophysics. Foale also hold a U.S. citizenship and was chosen as an astronaut candidate in June 1987. Foale was a part of six space shuttle missions, namely STS-45, STS-56, STS-63, STS-84, STS-103, and Soyuz TMA-3. During his famed five-month long stay at the Russian Mir Space Station, Foale assisted others to re-establish the Russian space center after a Progress supply ship crashed at the outpost, causing the space station to depressurize and lose power. "That mission I thought was just going to be kind of a ho-hum for me research mission, but it wasn't. It became one of the most rewarding experiences in a weird and odd way, even though so much trouble befell that mission," Foale recounted later. With all his space missions, Foale logged-in more than 374 days in space which included four space walks. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.