Stories tagged space shuttle

STS-1 Launch

by Joe on Apr. 13th, 2012

STS-1: In this image, the two solid rocket boosters are aglow after being jettisoned.
STS-1: In this image, the two solid rocket boosters are aglow after being jettisoned.Courtesy NASA
April 12, 1981 was the date of the first space shuttle launch. I remember it.

From NASA:

On April 12, 1981, astronauts John Young and Bob Crippen launched into space on space shuttle Columbia on the STS-1 mission--NASA's first mission aboard a reusable spacecraft. STS-1 was NASA's first manned mission since the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in 1975.

After many setbacks due to weather, the Space Ship Atlantis launched Friday morning. It will be the closing flight in the space shuttle program. It was a difficult moment for many connected with the program. The end of the program will open the door for a new chapter in NASA's investigation of space. Resource for this article - Space Shuttle Atlantis lifts off on its final mission by Newsytype.com.

Successful launch bucks odds

The Atlantis left Friday morning at 10:29 EDT from Cape Canaveral, Fla., after delaying it for many days due to bad climate. The shuttle beat the odds as there was only a 30 percent chance it would occur today. The delay was very slight. The retractable arm on the launch pad had a problem causing a two minute delay to take place. It was not a terrible problem. It brought on no danger.

"This is the start of a sentimental journey into history," a NASA commentator said. "Atlantis is flexing its muscles one final time."

Quest STS-135

STS-135, the mission, is going to be the last of the 30 year program making it the 33rd trip. The International Space Station is to be restocked with all the equipment and supplies it needs with the 13-day mission. Russian space crafts will be used to get to the space station in the future. Experts predict that commercial ventures will handle the duty in a decade or so.

Humans and programs in space roles

The equipment being taken to space should be able to tell how programs and humans interact in space through experiments. Robots will become more and more essential the further they are in space, NASA believes. One piece of equipment is meant to see if satellites can be refueled by robots in outer space. This piece of equipment is the size of a washing machine.

"What have we learned in robotics in 30 years? This is it. It's all led up to this," said Brian Roberts, a robotics expert at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. "We've practiced on the ground, but we need to see how this would work floating around in space. ... We'll learn a lot of what works well and what doesn't work. We're trying to show the capabilities of robots and their abilities to do these tasks."

Try that app out

With Mission STS-135, there will be new technology. An iPhone is going to be brought to the space station. It's going to be used to track experiment outcomes with an app. The app could help with space navigation also.

Other crafts to launch

"This is not the end of human spaceflight," said NASA's Chief Technologist Bobby Braun via Twitter. "It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."

There will be a plan for the Dawn spacecraft later this month. The asteroid Vesta will be orbited. Next month, another craft named Juno will lift off. It is going to Jupiter to study how forces work on larger planets in our system. In order to try and choose the size and composition of the core of the moon, the Gravity Recovery and Interior laboratory (GRAIL) mission will launch in Sept.

Articles cited

Compurterworld

computerworld.com/s/article/9218270/Atlantis_blasts_off_on_historic_last_mission

Popsci

popsci.com/science/article/2011-07/shuttle-program-may-be-over-nasas-mission-far-it

Universe Today

universetoday.com/87345/atlantis-launches-on-final-space-shuttle-mission/

Huffington Post

huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/08/space-shuttle-atlantis-launch-video_n_893314.html

President Signs NASA Authorization Act: President Barack Obama signs the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2010 in the Oval Office, Monday, Oct. 11, 2010.
President Signs NASA Authorization Act: President Barack Obama signs the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2010 in the Oval Office, Monday, Oct. 11, 2010.Courtesy Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
President Obama signed the NASA 2010 Authorization Act into law yesterday, giving approval for $58.4 billion to be spent on NASA programs over the next three years.

The details are yet to be ironed out, but we do know that the budget includes one more shuttle flight (meaning there are three now remaining (STS-133 (Discovery), November 1st, 2010; STS-134 (Endeavor) February 26, 2011; and the newly added STS-135 (Atlantis) likely in June 2011), the life of the International Space Station will be extended to at least 2020, and the development of a heavy-lift launch vehicle will start as early as 2011.

Lighting Up the Night
Lighting Up the NightCourtesy Tom Moler
Lights and space shuttle Discovery are reflected in the water as it rolls to the pad on its final planned mission to the International Space Station.

Preparing for Flight
Preparing for FlightCourtesy NASA/Jack Pfaller
From the NASA Image of the day:

In preparation for its last planned mission to the International Space Station, shuttle Discovery was lowered onto its external fuel tank and solid rocket boosters in High Bay 3 of the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The lift and mate operation began Sept. 9 and wrapped up early Sept. 10.

On Sept. 21, 2010, Discovery completed its last planned trip to the launch pad at 1:49 a.m., leaving the Vehicle Assembly Building at about 7:23 p.m. on the slow, 3.4-mile crawl to the pad.

Discovery, the oldest of NASA's three active orbiters, first launched Aug. 30, 1984, on STS-41D and is being readied for the STS-133 mission to station. Liftoff is targeted for Nov. 1 at 4:40 p.m. EDT.

May
20
2010

Atlantis Lifts Off: Space shuttle Atlantis lifted off from Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on the STS-132 mission to the International Space Station at 2:20 p.m. EDT on May 14.
Atlantis Lifts Off: Space shuttle Atlantis lifted off from Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on the STS-132 mission to the International Space Station at 2:20 p.m. EDT on May 14.Courtesy NASA
I have been following with interest the last flight of the space shuttle Atlantis. I subscribe to the NASA image of the day site, and since the launch have been providing some cool photos of the mission that are below.

STS-132 (the flight number of the current mission) launched from the Kennedy Space Center on May 14 and docked with the International Space Station (ISS) on May 16. The primary payload on board the shuttle is the
Russian Rassvet Mini-Research Module along with an Integrated Cargo Carrier-Vertical Light Deployable (ICC-VLD).

An interesting tidbit: On board Atlantis is a 4-inch long wood sample of Sir Isaac Newton's apple tree. This piece is from the tree that supposedly inspired Newton's theory of gravity.The wood is part of the collection of the Royal Society archives in London, and will be returned there following the flight. Neat. Also weird.

Atlantis Performs a Back Flip: The International Space Station (ISS) crew snapped this image of the underside of Atlantis' crew cabin, during a survey of the approaching space shuttle prior to docking with the ISS.
Atlantis Performs a Back Flip: The International Space Station (ISS) crew snapped this image of the underside of Atlantis' crew cabin, during a survey of the approaching space shuttle prior to docking with the ISS.Courtesy NASA

Atlantis' aft section: This view of Atlantis' aft section includes the main engines, part of the cargo bay, vertical stabilizer and orbital maneuvering system pods and was taken by the ISS crew during a survey as the shuttle approached the station prior to docking.
Atlantis' aft section: This view of Atlantis' aft section includes the main engines, part of the cargo bay, vertical stabilizer and orbital maneuvering system pods and was taken by the ISS crew during a survey as the shuttle approached the station prior to docking.Courtesy NSAS

A Feat of Daring: Astronaut Garrett Reisman continued his work during the first of three planned spacewalks for the last Atlantis mission.
A Feat of Daring: Astronaut Garrett Reisman continued his work during the first of three planned spacewalks for the last Atlantis mission.Courtesy NASA

Docked at the Station: This image features the Atlantis' cabin and forward cargo bay and a section of the International Space Station while the two spacecraft remain docked, photographed during the STS-132 mission's first spacewalk.
Docked at the Station: This image features the Atlantis' cabin and forward cargo bay and a section of the International Space Station while the two spacecraft remain docked, photographed during the STS-132 mission's first spacewalk.Courtesy NASA

NASA is now entertaining offers for its three space shuttles – Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour – that are scheduled to be retired in 2010. The estimated $42 million price tag includes $6 million in transportation costs to fly a shuttle to atop a 747 to the nearest major airport near the purchaser. Click here for more details. One of the three will likely be put on display at the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. Where and how would you like to see the other two be repurposed?

The Orion crew exploration vehicle: This artist's rendering of Orion crew exploration vehicle in lunar orbit. (Depicts obsolete configuration.) Image courtesy: Lockheed Martin Corp.
The Orion crew exploration vehicle: This artist's rendering of Orion crew exploration vehicle in lunar orbit. (Depicts obsolete configuration.) Image courtesy: Lockheed Martin Corp.
I was emailed this story today by a co-worker that had the subject line, "No Orion in 2013" which made me think something was going down with the constellation of Orion - but that's not it.

Officials at NASA announced yesterday that they have abandoned plans to get the Orion crew capsules, the replacement for the retiring U.S. space shuttles, into service by 2013. Officials site a lack of additional funds and technical issues as the cause. The original plan was to get the new launch systems in place by 2015, but since the shuttles are expected to retire in 2010, NASA was pushing to close the gap. They are now aiming for 2014. NASA will depend on Russian launch vehicles to get crews to the International Space Station in the interim.

Sep
05
2007

The crew of STS-120: Image courtesy NASA.
The crew of STS-120: Image courtesy NASA.
NASA space shuttle mission STS-120 this October will be brining more to the International Space Station (ISS) than the Harmony module, which will provide attachment points for European and Japanese laboratory modules. In addition, it will bring the original prop lightsaber from Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. The prop is being flown to the ISS to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Star Wars franchise, which began with 1977’s Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.

As both a Star Wars nut and a fan of most things space related, I read this story with mixed feelings. Is this more a PR opportunity for Star Wars or NASA? Star Wars can almost do no wrong in my mind (except possibly with Jar-Jar Binks) and I wonder if this story, while giving props to Star Wars, isn’t really more of a boost to NASA for being associated with something cool like Star Wars. Personally, I think a lot of stuff NASA does is cool but I know a lot of people who could care less about NASA and space in general (I call them “space haters”).

And, hey, its something fun. I’ve read a few blogs that are accusing NASA of wasting funds on this, but I doubt this cost NASA much in terms of money, and probably has exposed them in a fun and positive light. I’m all for it.