EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — Former NASA research pilot and astronaut Richard “Rick” Searfoss died Sept. 29 at his home in Bear Valley Springs, California. He was 62.
Searfoss, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel, served as a research pilot in the flight crew branch at NASA Dryden (now Armstrong) Flight Research Center in California from July 2001 to February 2003, having brought with him over 5,000 hours of military flying and 939 hours in space.
He flew on three space flights, onboard space shuttles Columbia and Atlantis, logging 39 days in space. Searfoss was the pilot for his first two space missions, STS-58 and STS-76, landing both times at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Once at Dryden, medical staff was standing by for the astronauts as well as personnel who supported the NASA convoy team in preparing the shuttle for its return ferry flight to Florida.
The last time Americans flew into space from U.S. soil was nearly seven years ago in July 2011. Four astronauts flew Atlantis to the International Space Station (ISS) on the 135th and final mission of the 30-year space shuttle program.
Pete Siebold and Mike Alsbury heard the sound of hooks disengaging and felt a sharp jolt as SpaceShipTwo was released from its WhiteKnightTwo mother ship. Relieved of a giant weight, WhiteKnightTwo shot upward as the spacecraft plunged toward the desert floor.
“Fire,” Siebold said as the shadow of one of WhiteKnightTwo’s wings passed across the cabin.
“Arm,” Alsbury responded. “Fire.”
The pilots were pushed back into their seats as SpaceShipTwo’s nylon-nitrous oxide hybrid engine ignited behind them, sending the ship soaring skyward on a pillar of flames.
The space shuttle Columbia glowed brightly as it streaked across the predawn skies of the western United States on Feb 1, 2003. Decelerating from an orbital speed of 28,165 km/hr (17,500 miles/hr) at an altitude of 70,165 m (230,200 ft), the shuttle and its seven crew members were enveloped in super heated plasma as they descended deeper into the thickening atmosphere on their return from a 16-day science mission.
Three observers on the ground who were filming the fiery reentry suddenly noticed something odd. There was a sudden flash on the orbiter, and then bright objects streaked behind the ship and burned up.
“Look at the chunks coming off that,” one shouted. “What the heck is that?”
The new space shuttle Atlantis at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex was opened on Friday night with a gala VIP reception. Parabolic Arc contributor Laura Seward was there and took these photos. (more…)
Kennedy Space Center, Fla. (Sept. 24, 2012) – Space Florida has closed on a $62.5M credit facility with Bank of America to support the construction of the Space Shuttle Atlantis Exhibit at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
NASA announced the four astronauts who will make up the crew of STS-335, the rescue mission that would fly only if needed to bring home the members of space shuttle Endeavour’s STS-134 mission, currently the final scheduled shuttle flight.
Space shuttle Atlantis and its crew of seven astronauts ended an 11-day journey with a 9:44 a.m. EST landing at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Atlantis flew 171 orbits around Earth and traveled 4,490,138 miles since its Nov. 16 launch.
The STS-129 mission included three spacewalks and the installation of two platforms to the International Space Station’s truss, or backbone. The platforms hold large spare parts to sustain station operations after the shuttles are retired.
For the fourth time this year, NASAâ€™s Shuttle fleet is carrying a series of experiments being conducted by Austin-based Astrogenetix, a commercial biotech company created to use microgravity to develop the foundation of new medicines.
Payload on Space Shuttle Atlantis Flight STS-129 will consist of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) microbes in search of a target for a therapeutic or vaccine. Research will build on information gained during experiments conducted on board STS-128, which launched in August of this year. Those experiments have allowed Astrogenetix to hone in on a specific group of genes that show promise for identifying a vaccine candidate. On STS-129, Astrogenetix will interrogate specific genes within this group to further narrow the scope of virulence determinants.
Space shuttle Atlantis and its crew of six astronauts are headed for space, ready to begin their 11-day mission to the International Space Station. The climb to orbit takes about 8 1/2 minutes.
Following a smooth countdown, with no technical issues and weather that steadily improved throughout the afternoon, the shuttle lifted off on time from Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 2:28 p.m. EST.
For the first time, NASA Twitter followers are invited to view a space shuttle launch in person at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA is hosting this unique Tweetup on Nov. 11 and 12. Space shuttle Atlantis is targeted to launch at 4:04 p.m. EST, Nov. 12 on its STS-129 mission to the International Space Station.
Below is a transcript of the call that President Barack Obama put in to the space shuttle Atlantis yesterday. During the call, he chats with the crew and promises to name a new NASA Administrator soon.
The STS-125 crew bid a final farewell to the Hubble Space Telescope today. With servicing completed, the telescope was released from the shuttleâ€™s robotic arm at 8:57 a.m. EDT.
Mission Specialist Megan McArthur released the grapple fixture as Commander Scott Altman and Pilot Gregory C. Johnson guided Atlantis carefully away. Subtle thruster firings will place the shuttle a safe distance from Hubble.
Later in the day, attention will turn to surveys of Atlantisâ€™ thermal protection system, including its wing leading edge panels, nose cap and underside tiles. Imagery experts will evaluate the data to determine the health of the thermal protection system.