Tag: NASA

Cool Video Showing Orion Re-entry & Splashdown

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Video Caption: New video recorded during NASA’s Orion return through Earth’s atmosphere provides viewers a taste of what the vehicle endured as it returned through Earth’s atmosphere during its Dec. 5 flight test.

Falcon 9 Completes Successful Static Fire

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Falcon 9 static fire. (Credit: SpaceX)

Falcon 9 static fire. (Credit: SpaceX)

HAWTHORNE, Calif. (SpaceX PR) — Today, SpaceX completed a successful static fire test of the Falcon 9 rocket in advance of the CRS-5 mission for NASA. The test was conducted at SpaceX’s Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, and ran for the full planned duration.

SpaceX also conducted a static fire test on December 17 and while the test accomplished nearly all goals, it did not run the full duration.   The data suggested we could have pushed forward without a second attempt, but out of an abundance of caution, we opted to execute a second test.

Given the extra time needed for data review and testing, coupled with the limited launch date availability due to the holidays and other restrictions, our earliest launch opportunity is now January 6 with January 7 as a backup.  A few times a year, the ISS orbits through a high beta angle period. This is where the angle between the ISS orbital plane and the sun is high, resulting in the ISS being in almost constant sunlight for a 10 day period.  During this time, there are thermal and operational constraints that prohibit Dragon from being allowed to berth with the ISS.  This high beta period runs from December 28, 2014 – January 7, 2015.  Note that for a launch on January 6, Dragon berths on January 8.

After today’s successful static fire, our teams are looking forward to launch just after the New Year.

SpaceX Completes First CCtCap Milestone

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Dragon Version 2. (Credit: SpaceX)

Dragon Version 2. (Credit: SpaceX)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has approved the completion of SpaceX’s first milestone in the company’s path toward launching crews to the International Space Station (ISS) from U.S. soil under a Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contract with the agency.

During the Certification Baseline Review, SpaceX described its current design baseline including how the company plans to manufacture its Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 v.1.1 rocket, then launch, fly, land and recover the crew. The company also outlined how it will achieve NASA certification of its system to enable transport of crews to and from the space station.

Continue reading ‘SpaceX Completes First CCtCap Milestone’

Falcon 9 Launch Delayed Until January

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SpaceX first stage recovery drone ship. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX first stage recovery drone ship. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX has delayed the CRS 5 cargo flight to the International Space Station scheduled for Friday to no earlier than Jan. 6 with Jan. 7 as a backup date.

A SpaceX spokesman said a static fire of the engine did not go as long as planned. He cited the need to conduct a second static fire, the upcoming holidays, and lighting conditions at the International Space Station as reasons for the delay.

In addition to sending a Dragon cargo ship to the space station, the flight was to attempt to land the Falcon 9 first stage on a barge for eventual reuse.

According to SpaceflightNow.com, the flight had already been delayed from Oct. 3, Dec. 1, Dec. 9 and Dec. 16.

With this latest delay, SpaceX will finish 2014 with six launches, which is double its launch rate for 2013 but about half the number planned for this year.

UPDATE: Here’s the official NASA announcement on the delay:

NASA, SpaceX Update Launch of Fifth SpaceX Resupply Mission to Space Station

NASA and SpaceX announced today the launch of SpaceX’s fifth commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station now will occur no earlier than Tuesday, Jan. 6.

The new launch date will provide SpaceX engineers time to investigate further issues that arose from a static fire test of the Falcon 9 rocket on Dec. 16 and will avoid beta angle constraints for berthing the Dragon cargo ship to the station that exist through the end of the year.

Continue reading ‘Falcon 9 Launch Delayed Until January’

NASA Ames to Launch Four Experiments to ISS Aboard Dragon

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SpaceX Dragon freighter at ISS. (Credit: NASA)

SpaceX Dragon freighter at ISS. (Credit: NASA)

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. — NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, will launch four life science experiments to the International Space Station aboard NASA’s next commercial cargo resupply flight of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft. The research missions include validation of a new capability for model organism study in space, an infection process investigation in the unique conditions of space, the first step in a multi-part study to track microbes on the space station, and an examination of immune system changes that curiously happen in both elderly people and people exposed to spaceflight.

Continue reading ‘NASA Ames to Launch Four Experiments to ISS Aboard Dragon’

Boeing Bids for Commercial Cargo II Contract

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Boeing CST-100 docking at ISS. (Credit: Boeing)

Boeing CST-100 docking at ISS. (Credit: Boeing)

SpaceX and Orbital Sciences Corporation have competition for the next phase of NASA’s commercial cargo program:

Company officials said in a Dec. 9 interview here that they submitted a proposal earlier this month for NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) 2 competition, a follow-on to the existing CRS contracts held by Orbital Sciences Corp. and Space Exploration Technologies Corp. to ferry cargo to and from the station.

The cargo version of Boeing’s CST-100 spacecraft will be based on the crewed version the company is developing for NASA, said John Mulholland, Boeing commercial crew program manager. Boeing will remove spacecraft components not needed for crew missions, like its launch abort system and environmental controls, to free up room in the spacecraft for cargo.

The cargo version of CST-100 would, like the crewed version, launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket. The cargo version will also be able to return cargo to Earth, landing in the western United States like the crewed version.

That similarity between the two CST-100 versions is intended to improve the spacecraft’s overall economics. “It gives us a chance to use the launch vehicle and capsule that are being integrated for crew and get more missions out of it to help with affordability,” said John Elbon, vice president and general manager for space exploration at Boeing.

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NASA to Discuss Asteroid Redirect Mission Today

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In this concept image, the robotic vehicle deploys an inflatable bag to envelop a free-flying small asteroid before redirecting it to a distant retrograde lunar orbit. (Credit: NASA)

In this concept image, the robotic vehicle deploys an inflatable bag to envelop a free-flying small asteroid before redirecting it to a distant retrograde lunar orbit. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON, Dec. 17, 2014 (NASA PR) — NASA will host a media teleconference at 4 p.m. EST today during which agency officials will discuss and answer questions on the selection of an Asteroid Redirect Mission concept.

The mission is to retrieve an asteroid mass and redirect it into lunar orbit, where astronauts will explore it in the 2020s. The mission will test a number of new capabilities needed for future human deep space expeditions, including to Mars.

Participants for the media teleconference are:

  • Robert Lightfoot, NASA associate administrator
  • Michele Gates, program director, NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission
  • Lindley Johnson, program executive, NASA’s Near Earth Object Program

Audio of the media teleconference will stream live on NASA’s website at:

http://www.nasa.gov/newsaudio 

Find more information about the Asteroid Redirect Mission at:

www.nasa.gov/asteroidinitiative 

Morpheus Completes Free Flight at Kennedy Space Center

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KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — A free-flight test of the Morpheus prototype lander was conducted December 15 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility in Florida. The 97-second test began at 4:11 p.m. EST with the Morpheus lander lifting off from the ground over a flame trench and ascending more than 800 feet.

Utilizing the autonomous landing and hazard avoidance technology (ALHAT) sensors, the vehicle pitched into a 30-degree glide slope and surveyed the hazard field to determine safe landing sites. Morpheus then flew forward and downward, covering approximately 1,300 feet before descending to a landing at the ALHAT-targeted safe site.

Project Morpheus tests NASA’s ALHAT and an engine that runs on liquid oxygen and methane, which are green propellants. These new capabilities could be used in future efforts to deliver cargo to planetary surfaces. Morpheus and ALHAT are examples of the partnerships that exist within the agency.

For more information on Morpheus, visit: http://morpheuslander.jsc.nasa.gov

Falcon 9, Angara 5 & GSLV Mk. 3 Flights Highlight Crowded Launch Schedule

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spacex_barge

First stage recovery barge (Credit: SpaceX)

With only two weeks left in the year, the global launch schedule is crammed with 9 launches, including the flights of new launch vehicles by Russia and India and an unprecedented effort by SpaceX to recover a first-stage for reuse.

Below are the highlights.

Dec. 18. GSLV Mk.3: India will conduct the first test flight of its new medium-lift GSLV Mk. 3 launch vehicle. This will be a suborbital launch that will carry a prototype of a human spacecraft. Satish Dhawan Space Centre

Dec. 19. SpaceX CRS-5:  SpaceX will send a Dragon freighter on the company’s fifth commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station. The company will attempt to recover the first stage of the Falcon 9 booster for reuse by landing it on a barge. Cape Canaveral Air Force Station

Dec. 25. Angara 5: Russia will conduct its first test of its new Angara 5 heavy-lift booster, which will send a dummy payload into orbit. The launch follows the suborbital flight of the smaller Angara 1.2, which tested the core stage for this new family of boosters. Plesetsk Cosmodrome

The table below shows flights scheduled for the rest of the year.  Schedule subject to change without notice.

UPDATES: The GSLV launch was successful. Russia has delayed the Strela flight to Dec. 19, and SpaceX has rescheduled the Falcon 9 launch to no earlier than Jan. 6.

DATE LAUNCH VEHICLE PAYLOAD LAUNCH SITE NATION
Dec. 18 GSLV Mk.3 CARE Satish Dhawan India
Dec. 18 Strela Kondor E1 Baikonur Russia
Dec. 18 Soyuz O3b F3 Kourou Russia
Dec. 19 Falcon 9 CRS 5 CCAFS USA
Dec. 24 Soyuz Lotus S Plesetsk Russia
Dec. 25 Angara 5 Dummy payload Plesetsk Russia
Dec. 26 Soyuz Resurs P2 Baikonur Russia
Dec. 28 Proton ASTRA 2G Baikonur Russia
December Long March 3A Fengyun 2G Xichang China

Source: Spaceflight Now

Orbital to Replace Old Russian Engines With New Russian Engines on Antares

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An Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares rocket is seen as it launches from Pad-0A at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, Thursday, January 9, 2014, Wallops Island, VA. Antares is carrying the Cygnus spacecraft on a cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. The Orbital-1 mission is Orbital Sciences' first contracted cargo delivery flight to the space station for NASA. Cygnus is carrying science experiments, crew provisions, spare parts and other hardware to the space station. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

An Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares rocket is seen as it launches from Pad-0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, Thursday, January 9, 2014, Wallops Island, VA. Antares is carrying the Cygnus spacecraft on a cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. The Orbital-1 mission is Orbital Sciences’ first contracted cargo delivery flight to the space station for NASA. Cygnus is carrying science experiments, crew provisions, spare parts and other hardware to the space station. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

I guess Orbital Sciences Corporation can kiss any defense launches goodbye for its Antares launch vehicle. The company plans to replace the rocket’s Russian surplus AJ-26 engines with new Russian engines they hope won’t blow up during flight or be banned from export at some point in the future.

Designated the RD-181, the new engine will be used on Antares in shipsets of two to accommodate as closely as possible the two-engine configuration built around the AJ-26 engines supplied by Aerojet Rocketdyne, Orbital Sciences managers said Dec. 16.

A descendant of the RD-171 that powers the Ukrainian-built Zenit launch vehicle, the RD-181 will be manufactured in the same Khimki factory that builds the RD-180 used on the United Launch Alliance Atlas V. It closely resembles the RD-191 on Russia’s new Angara launcher and the RD-151 that powers South Korea’s Naro-1 launch vehicle.

In testing at Energomash, “the RD-181s have seen more than two times the Antares flight duration to date, and if you take a look at some of the heritage of this engine, the RD-151 and the RD-191 combined have over 10 hr. of test time for their configuration testing,” said Mark Pieczynski, Orbital’s vice president for space launch strategic development.

Like the AJ-26, the single-thrust-chamber, single-nozzle RD-181 uses liquid oxygen and refined petroleum (RP) as propellants, generating a sea-level performance in the two-engine configuration of 864,000 lb. thrust with a specific impulse of 311.9 sec. That is equivalent to the twin-nozzle RD-180, but the two engines are a better fit with the Antares main stage, built for Orbital by Ukraine’s Yuzhmash.

Congress has just voted to prohibit ULA from using Russian RD-180 engines in its Atlas V booster due to deteriorating relations with that country. That would seem to limit Orbital’s ability to bid for defense launch contracts unless there is a change in policy.

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