Orbital ATK Donates SRBs for Space Shuttle Endeavour Exhibit

Endeavour and the shuttle carrier aircraft over Houston (Credit: NASA)

DULLES, Virg., 28 March 2017  (Orbital ATK PR) – Orbital ATK (NYSE: OA), a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, and NASA have donated a set of flight-worthy solid rocket boosters from the Space Shuttle Program to the California Science Center to display with a full-up exhibit of the Endeavour orbiter and external tank.

“We take great pride in our 30-plus years of participation in the Space Shuttle Program,” said Charlie Precourt, Vice President and General Manager of Orbital ATK’s Propulsion Systems Division. “We’re pleased and honored that we can contribute hardware to this amazing exhibit at the California Science Center.”


Piers Sellers: A Legacy of Science

Piers Sellers floating above on the aft flight deck of the Space Shuttle Atlantis in 2002. (Credits: NASA)

By Patrick Lynch
NASA’s Goddard Space
Flight Center

Piers Sellers, who passed away on Dec. 23 more than a year after learning he had pancreatic cancer, leaves behind a dynamic legacy at NASA.

As an astronaut he helped build the International Space Station. As a manager he helped lead hundreds of scientists. And as a public figure he was an inspiration to many for his optimistic take on humanity’s ability to confront Earth’s changing climate.

But his most lasting contributions will be in the field where he began his career: science.


Trump Appoints New Members of NASA Transition Team

Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)
Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)

President Elect Donald Trump has appointed six new members to the NASA transition team, including Steve Cook, who formerly managed the agency’s Ares program, and retired astronaut Sandra Magnus.

Steve Cook, acting president of Dynetics Technical Services in Huntsville, Ala., led NASA’s Ares program from July 2005 to August 2009. The program included the Ares I and Ares V heavy-lift vehicle and the Orion crew spacecraft for deep-space exploration.

The Obama Administration canceled the programs. However, Congress resurrected the Ares V as the Space Launch System and kept the Orion program in place.

At Dynetics, Cook has been involved in support Aerojet Rocketdyne’s development of the AR-1 engine. He also supported the company’s work on Stratolaunch Systems’ aircraft, which is designed to air launch satellite boosters.


Charlie Bolden’s Statement on Passing of John Glenn

President Barack Obama presents former United States Marine Corps pilot, astronaut, and United States Senator John Glenn with a Medal of Freedom, Tuesday, May 29, 2012, during a ceremony at the White House in Washington. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)
President Barack Obama presents former United States Marine Corps pilot, astronaut, and United States Senator John Glenn with a Medal of Freedom, Tuesday, May 29, 2012, during a ceremony at the White House in Washington. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The following is a statement from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on the passing of Sen. John Glenn:

“Today, the first American to orbit the Earth, NASA astronaut and Ohio Senator John Glenn, passed away. We mourn this tremendous loss for our nation and the world. As one of NASA’s original Mercury 7 astronauts, Glenn’s riveting flight aboard Friendship 7 on Feb. 20, 1962, united our nation, launched America to the forefront of the space race, and secured for him a unique place in the annals of history.

“While that first orbit was the experience of a lifetime, Glenn, who also had flown combat missions in both World War II and the Korean War as a Marine aviator, continued to serve his country as a four-term Senator from Ohio, as a trusted statesman, and an educator. In 1998, at the age of 77, he became the oldest human to venture into space as a crew member on the Discovery space shuttle — once again advancing our understanding of living and working in space.

“He earned many honors for both his military and public service achievements. In 2012, President Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor the country can bestow, and he also received the Congressional Gold Medal.

“Glenn’s extraordinary courage, intellect, patriotism and humanity were the hallmarks of a life of greatness. His missions have helped make possible everything our space program has since achieved and the human missions to an asteroid and Mars that we are striving toward now.

“With all his accomplishments, he was always focused on the young people of today, who would soon lead the world. ‘The most important thing we can do is inspire young minds and advance the kind of science, math and technology education that will help youngsters take us to the next phase of space travel,’ he said. ‘To me, there is no greater calling … If I can inspire young people to dedicate themselves to the good of mankind, I’ve accomplished something.’

“Senator Glenn’s legacy is one of risk and accomplishment, of history created and duty to country carried out under great pressure with the whole world watching. The entire NASA Family will be forever grateful for his outstanding service, commitment and friendship. Personally, I shall miss him greatly. As a fellow Marine and aviator, he was a mentor, role model and, most importantly, a dear friend.  My prayers go out to his lovely and devoted wife, Annie, and the entire Glenn family at this time of their great loss.”

For more information about Glenn’s NASA career, and his agency biography, visit:


Original 7 Astronaut John Glenn Passes Away at 95

Sad to report that former NASA astronaut John Glenn, who became the first American to fly into orbit in 1962, has passed away in an Ohio hospital. He was 95 years old.

In addition to flying Friendship 7 in the Project Mercury, Glenn became the oldest person to travel into space when he joined the STS-95 space shuttle crew on a nearly 9-day orbital mission in 1998.

At the time of his second and final spaceflight, Glenn was a United States Senator from Ohio. He served in the Senate from December 1974 to January 1999.

Glenn was the last of NASA’s Original 7 astronauts to pass away. Scott Carpenter died in 2013 at the age of 88.

My deepest sympathies to his wife, Annie, and his family and friends.

President Barack Obama issued a statement today on Glenn’s passing.

Statement by the President on the Passing of John Glenn

When John Glenn blasted off from Cape Canaveral atop an Atlas rocket in 1962, he lifted the hopes of a nation. And when his Friendship 7 spacecraft splashed down a few hours later, the first American to orbit the Earth reminded us that with courage and a spirit of discovery there’s no limit to the heights we can reach together.

With John’s passing, our nation has lost an icon and Michelle and I have lost a friend. John spent his life breaking barriers, from defending our freedom as a decorated Marine Corps fighter pilot in World War II and Korea, to setting a transcontinental speed record, to becoming, at age 77, the oldest human to touch the stars. John always had the right stuff, inspiring generations of scientists, engineers and astronauts who will take us to Mars and beyond–not just to visit, but to stay.

Today, the people of Ohio remember a devoted public servant who represented his fellow Buckeyes in the U.S. Senate for a quarter century and who fought to keep America a leader in science and technology. Our thoughts are with his beloved wife Annie, their children John and Carolyn and the entire Glenn family. The last of America’s first astronauts has left us, but propelled by their example we know that our future here on Earth compels us to keep reaching for the heavens. On behalf of a grateful nation, Godspeed, John Glenn.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program By the Numbers

With the recent news that commercial crew flights to the International Space Station will likely slip to the end of 2018, I thought it would be a good time to review what NASA has spend on the program since it began in 2010. And, since NASA has separated cargo and crew, we will also look at the space agency’s commercial cargo programs.

The table below shows that NASA has given out nearly $8.4 billion in contracts to Commercial Crew Program partners over the past six years. These figures do not include NASA’s overhead.


Four Years Ago Endeavour Made Its Final Bow

Editor’s Note:
I was on the flight line that day taking pictures. It was just spectacular to see this flyby. Right off the deck. The 747 had taken off from Edwards that morning; after the Mojave flyby, it flew over Lancaster and Palmdale before heading up to the Bay Area and then down to Los Angeles.

Video Caption: Video by Brandon Litt, posted with permission.

On Sept 21, 2012, workers at the Mojave Air & Space Port (airport code KMHV), and anyone else who found one of several entrances temporarily opened to the public, were treated to a rare close-up view of the fly-by of the Space Shuttle Endeavour atop the Shuttle Carrier 747 “NASA 905”. The tour of California en route from Edwards AFB to Los Angeles was the last time the shuttle/747 configuration would ever fly. We only knew the shuttle/747 would fly by Mojave. We didn’t know the view was going to be so good until a moment before when “Astro 95” asked Mojave Tower for a low pass over Runway 26, which would give everyone along the flight line the best possible view.

Many thanks to NASA for the nice display on Endeavour’s final journey.

This is a video that my co-worker Brandon Litt took with his cell phone. When I found that he hadn’t posted it on YouTube, I got his permission to do so. This view really needed to be shared. (I’m in the video with my back to the camera wearing a red shirt, which was from the STS-134 launch.)

See also my photos of the fly-by at http://ian.kluft.com/pics/mojave/2012…

I Will Launch America: Launch Site Integrator Misty Snopkowski

i_will_launch_misty_snopkowskiBy Steven Siceloff,
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Misty Snopkowski has worked on human spaceflight initiatives since 2003, building up expertise with the Space Shuttle and International Space Station Programs and now standing on the precipice of the new era in human spaceflight with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

“I got to work up until the very last shuttle launch in 2011, which was a pretty amazing period in time,” Snopkowski said. “Then I joined commercial crew. You flip the script and go into a brand new program. I was this young person who got to start at the very beginning of a new program and most people don’t ever get that opportunity.”


External Tank Arrives in Marina del Rey; Trip Through LA Set for Saturday

External Tank 94 (Credit: California Science Center)
External Tank 94 (Credit: California Science Center)

LOS ANGELES (California Science Center PR) — After an eventful 4,400 nautical mile journey, ET-94 has reached Marina del Rey! After leaving the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, it rode out a storm in the Cayman Islands, passed through the Panama Canal, and made its way up the Pacific Coast, where it played a part in rescuing a group of stranded fisherman after their boat sank.


15 Years of ESA on the International Space Station

Astronaut Umberto Guidoni, STS-100 mission specialist representing the European Space Agency (ESA), records activity on the Zvezda Service Module following hatch opening and the reunion of STS-100 crew members with the three members of the Expedition Two crew. This image was taken with a digital still camera. (Credit: ESA)
Astronaut Umberto Guidoni, STS-100 mission specialist representing the European Space Agency (ESA), records activity on the Zvezda Service Module following hatch opening and the reunion of STS-100 crew members with the three members of the Expedition Two crew. This image was taken with a digital still camera. (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — On 23 April 2001, Italian ESA Umberto Guidoni made history as the first European astronaut to board the International Space Station.

Guidoni had been launched on four days earlier, on 19 April, on Space Shuttle Endeavour as part of its seven-strong STS-100 crew from Kennedy Space Centre, with a liftoff at 20:41 CEST.


So Exactly How Safe Will SpaceShipTwo Be?

Richard Branson rolls out Virgin Galactic's Spaceship Unity in Mojave. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)
Richard Branson rolls out Virgin Galactic’s Spaceship Unity in Mojave. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Part 5 of 6

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

With the recent roll out of VSS Unity, Virgin Galactic marked a symbolic milestone in its recovery from the October 2014 accident that destroyed the first SpaceShipTwo and killed pilot Mike Alsbury.

Two questions loomed large over the celebrity-studded event. When will it fly? And how safe will it be when it does?

Company officials gave no timeline on the first question. Their answers about SpaceShipTwo’s safety differed significantly from previous claims they made over the last 11.5 years.


Plan Set to Deliver Space Shuttle External Tank to Los Angeles

Space shuttle external tank (Credit: NASA)
Space shuttle external tank (Credit: NASA)

LOS ANGELES (California Science Center PR) – Today the California Science Center Foundation announced the route for “Mission 26: ET Comes Home,” the journey of the external tank (ET-94).

It will travel from the Michoud Assembly Facility through the Panama Canal by barge to Los Angeles, then on through city streets, pulled by a truck on dollies, to its final destination near the California Science Center’s Samuel Oschin Pavilion. The entire journey will take six to eight weeks. ET-94 is expected to arrive around May 21, 2016.


Engineer Makes Sure Commercial Crew Craft Will Make Smooth Landing

Engineer Jeff Thon at the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credit: Jeff Thon)
Engineer Jeff Thon at the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credit: Jeff Thon)

By Steven Siceloff,
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida

One of the engineers NASA depends on to assess the landing systems of the next generation of human-rated spacecraft brings 14 years of experience working with parachutes on launch systems.

Plus, as a skydiver, he knows what it’s like to have his life depend on a parachute.


FedEx Makes First Commercial Landing on Space Shuttle Runway

Video Caption: When a FedEx 757 landed at Kennedy Space Center’s three-mile shuttle runway, it accomplished something no other commercial aircraft has done before. It became the first commercial carrier to land on the strip, marking the start of a new collaboration between FedEx and the space industry.

U.S. Launch Providers Plan Busy Year in 2016

Falcon Heavy. (Credit: SpaceX)
Falcon Heavy. (Credit: SpaceX)

The United States has a very busy launch year ahead if all 33 flights currently on the manifest go off as planned. Given the tendency of launches to slip and rockets to occasionally go boom, that is a very big “if”.

United Launch Alliance (ULA) and SpaceX each have 15 launches penciled in this year, according to the latest update to Spaceflight Now’s Launch Schedule page. Orbital ATK has plans for three launches during 2016. (more…)