Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Space Shuttle Endeavour is ready to launch

Pictured clockwise in the STS-134 crew astronauts Mark Kelly (bottom center), commander; Gregory H. Johnson, pilot; Michael Fincke, Greg Chamitoff, Andrew Feustel and European Space Agency’s Roberto Vittori,  Image credit: NASA 

NASA has confirmed that the Space Shuttle Endeavour is ready to launch next week on its final flight to the International Space Station.  Endeavour is scheduled to launch on Friday April 29th at 3:47 p.m. EDT.

There were previously concerns that the launch could be delayed because the external fuel tank had been damaged by Hurricane Katrina but repairs and inspections have now been successfully completed.

Endeavour is now ready on Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida and the countdown will begin on Tuesday at 2 p.m.

Launch Director  Mike Leinbach  said "The final processing flow for Endeavour is going extremely well out at the pad. I'm very proud of the team and we'll going to have a good launch and a good mission."

The STS-134 crew will arrive at Kennedy on Tuesday, April 26, for final launch preparations.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

NASA Announces Museum Locations for Space Shuttles After Retirement

Proposed Shuttle display at Kennedy Center (Image Credit NASA)
NASA has announced where the four shuttle orbiters will be located for permanent display after the Space Shuttle Program ends.

Enterprise in New York City

Enterprise, the first Space Shuttle ever built, will will be moved to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York.  Over 150,000 people signed a petition to bring Enterprise to New York City and the museum expects more than a million people a year to visit to see the Shuttle exhibition.

Discovery at Smithsonian

Discovery will be based at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia.  The Space Shuttle will be displayed in the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar, replacing Space shuttle Enterprise which is currently on display and has been seen by nine million visitors since 2003.

Endeavour  for California Science Center 

Endeavour, which is preparing for its final flight at the end of this month is going to the California Science Center in Los Angeles, where it will become the centre piece of the museum's Humans in Space exhibition,

Atlantis at Kennedy Space Center

Atlantis, which will fly the last planned shuttle mission in June, will be displayed at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Center is building a home for Atlantis in the marquee element of the Space Center Visitor Complex that will  include displays for viewing the space shuttle in flight, showing how the spacecraft worked and provide a viewing points for visitors to see get a close up look at the Shuttle. 

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Space Shuttle Endeavour's Launch Scheduled for April 29th

Endeavour crew rehearsal
Image credit NASA

NASA has set a new date and time of 3:47 p.m. EDT on Friday, April 29 for the launch of space shuttle Endeavour's STS-134 mission.  The delay means that there is no longer a timing conflict with the Russian Progress supply vehicle which is planned for launch on April 27 to arrive at the International Space Station April 29.

NASA managers will hold a Flight Readiness Review on Tuesday, April 19, to assess the team's readiness to support launch. An official launch date will be selected at the conclusion of the meeting.

Minor storm damage to Space Shuttle Endeavour

Severe storms that hit Kennedy Space Centre on Wednesday and Thursday last week inflicted minor damage to space shuttle Endeavour's external fuel tank foam.  This was found during detailed inspections Saturday by technicians and engineers on Launch Pad 39A.

Final flight for Space Shuttle Endeavour

Shuttle mission STS-134 is the final flight for Endeavour and the second to last flight for the Space Shuttle Program. The 14 day mission will deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-2 (AMS) to the International Space Station. AMS, a particle physics detector, is designed to search for unusual matter by measuring cosmic rays.

Endeavour also will carry the Express Logistics Carrier 3 (ELC-3), a platform that carries spare parts that will sustain space station operations once the shuttles are retired from service. The mission will include four spacewalks to do maintenance work and install new components. These are the very last scheduled space walks by shuttle crew members.

Friday, 1 April 2011

NASA publish new information about the Rings of Jupiter and Saturn

Jupiter ring system (Image credit NASA)
NASA scientists working with new data from the Cassini, Galileo and New Horizons missions have matched ‘ripples’ in the rings around Saturn and Jupiter's with collisions with comets.

Comets colliding with rings

Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 passed through Jupiter’s rings in July 1994 and Saturn's rings were distorted by comet debris in 1983.  The collision tilted a region more than 12,000 miles (19,000 kilometers) wide, covering part of the D ring and the next outermost ring, called the C ring. Unfortunately, spacecraft were not visiting Saturn at that time and the event was on the far side of the sun out of range of space-based telescopes.

Dr Linda Spilker, a Cassini project scientist, based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena said "Finding these fingerprints still in the rings is amazing and helps us better understand impact processes in our solar system," said Calif. "Cassini's long sojourn around Saturn has helped us tease out subtle clues that tell us about the history of our origins."