Author Topic: The Official Space Exploration Thread  (Read 106488 times)

Offline DSJ™

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Re: The Official Space Exploration Thread
« Reply #915 on: January 29, 2010, 01:51 PM »
Mars rover likely parked for good: NASA

From Space.com:

NASA Abandons Escape Attempts for Stuck Mars Rover
By Tariq Malik
SPACE.com Managing Editor
posted: 26 January 2010
01:33 pm ET
 
This story was updated at 3:47 p.m. ET.

The roving days are over for NASA's Mars rover Spirit after more than six years rolling across the Martian surface, the space agency announced Tuesday.

NASA engineers have decided to abandon efforts to rescue the Spirit rover from the deep Martian sand that snared it in May 2009. Instead, they are trying to prepare the rover to survive the harsh winter ahead in Mars' southern hemisphere. If the rover survives, it will serve as a fixed science outpost, mission managers said.

"This is not a day to mourn Spirit. This is not a day of loss," said Doug McCuistion, director of NASA's Mars exploration program, in a teleconference. "Its driving days are likely over, however its contribution will continue."

Spirit is stuck up to its wheel tops in Martian sand and slightly tilted back in a spot on Mars that scientists have named "Troy." The rover got stuck on May 6, when its wheels broke through a hard crust covering the soft sand and sunk into the sand trap.

"Spirit has encountered a golfer's worse nightmare," McCuistion said.

Engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., spent months working on ways to extract Spirit from its sandy predicament. Those efforts - which began in November - have been unsuccessful. Making matters worse, two of the rover's six wheels are broken, hampering its escape attempts.

Spirit and its robotic twin Opportunity have been exploring different parts of Mars since they landed in January 2004. Since then, the long-lived rovers have far outlasted their initial 90-day mission plans and discovered new insights into the history of water on Mars. Opportunity is currently working fine and is studying an odd rock called "Marquette Island" – which appears to have been ejected from deep inside Mars during an impact – as it heads toward a giant crater called Endeavour.

McCuistion called Spirit's situation "inextractable." He didn't rule out that Spirit could free itself by accident, but that's not the goal anymore.

"Right now, our plan is to worry about getting through the winter," McCuistion said.

Recent attempts to drive Spirit backwards have made some improvement to its tilt toward the sun, which is vital for the rover's solar arrays to generate the power to stay alive.

During winters on Mars, the sun is low in the sky, so engineers try to perch Spirit and Opportunity on north-facing slopes to maximize the amount of sunlight their top-mounted solar panels can collect. NASA is hopeful that Spirit can be wiggled into a favorable position before the full brunt of winter arrives in a few months.

If successful, Spirit could continue to operate through the Martian winter, or possibly enter a hibernation-like mode until the season passes and springtime returns, bringing with it more favorable levels of sunlight.

"We have hope that Spirit will survive this cold, dark winter that we have ahead of us and be ready to do more science come springtime," said the rover mission's principal investigator Steven Squyres of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

Squyres said Spirit can still study the Mars dirt around Troy. There is also a tantalizing chance for scientists to determine if the core of Mars is liquid or solid iron. They could do that by using Spirit's radio signals to record the motion of Mars and deduce if the red planet's core is molten or not, he added.

"Totally new science," Squyres said.

But first, Spirit must survive the next winter on Mars.

Rover project manager John Callas of JPL said that, in the end, it will all come down to power. If Spirit does not find a good sunward tilt for the coming winter, it could experience a so-called "low-power fault" and shut down all non-essential systems.

"The rover will be like a polar bear, hibernating," Callas said. "It could be for many months...on the order of six months, that the rover will be in this state."

Unlike NASA's long-silent Phoenix Mars Lander in the Martian arctic, Spirit is designed to hibernate through winters on Mars and will experience frigid temperatures of minus 49 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 45 degrees Celsius), Callas said. But Spirit is not a new rover, so its systems could be susceptible to damage due to age, he added.

"There's no guarantee that the rover will be able to survive these colder temperatures," Callas said.

It will likely be frustrating for NASA engineers as they await word from Spirit to determine if the rover survives the coming winter. After all, NASA has spent $900 million on the Mars rover mission, and typically spends $20 million a year to support Spirit and Opportunity during their extended treks on the red planet.

"That'll be challenging for the team, but it's just something we'll have to be disciplined about," Callas said



This 2-frame animation aids evaluation of NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit during a drive on the rover's 2,147th Martian day on Jan. 16, 2010. The rover about 3.5 centimeters (1.4 inches) southward and a half-inch (1 cm) up. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.



This blink comparison aids evaluation of a drive by NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit during the rover's 2,099th Martian day, or sol (Nov. 28, 2009). A stall by the right-rear wheel ended the drive partway through the first of two planned wheel spins. Most of the wheel movement was slippage. Click on the image to see the animated image. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Cassini Takes New Images of Saturn's Moons



Two of Saturn's icy moons pass each other in a mutual event recorded by the Cassini spacecraft.

The smaller moon Enceladus (504 kilometers, or 313 miles across) passes in front of the larger moon Rhea (1,528 kilometers, or 949 miles across). These three images were each taken a little more than a minute apart. Mutual event observations such as this one, in which one moon passes close to or in front of another, help scientists refine their understanding of the orbits of Saturn's moons.

The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 2.3 million kilometers (1.4 million miles) from Enceladus and 2.7 million kilometers (1.7 million miles) from Rhea.

The images were taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Nov. 15, 2009. Scale in the original images was 14 kilometers (9 miles) per pixel on Enceladus and 16 kilometers (10 miles) per pixel on Rhea. The images were contrast enhanced and magnified by a factor of 3 to increase the visibility of surface features.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.



Looking for all intents and purposes like a celestial egg after a session in Saturn’s skillet, Prometheus displayed its pockmarked, irregular surface for NASA’s Cassini spacecraft on Jan. 27, 2010.

Prometheus is one of Saturn’s innermost moons. It orbits the gas-giant at a distance of 139,353 kilometers (85,590 miles) and is 86 kilometers (53 miles) across at its widest point. The porous, icy-bodied world was originally discovered by images taken by Voyager 1 back in 1980. You could say this latest “egg-cellent” view has the Cassini science team licking their chops at the thought of future Prometheus images.

This raw, unprocessed image of Prometheus [pro-MEE-thee-us] , taken in visible light, was obtained by Cassini’s narrow-angle camera at a distance of approximately 36,000 kilometers (23,000 miles).



This unprocessed image of Dione was taken by Cassini on Jan. 27, 2010. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Jan. 27, 2010. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 46,000 kilometers (29,000 miles) from Dione. Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute.

Oh...oh!   :-\

President Obama to Propose Abandoning NASA's Moon Plan
By Todd Halvorson and Bart Jansen
FLORIDA TODAY
posted: 28 January 2010
07:10 am ET

CAPE CANAVERAL — President Barack Obama will ask Congress to extend International Space Station operations through at least 2020 but abandon NASA's current plans to return U.S. astronauts to the moon, administration and NASA officials said Wednesday.

The president's 2011 budget request, due to be delivered to Congress on Monday, will direct NASA to invest in the development of U.S. commercial space taxi services to ferry American astronauts to and from the station.

The move is meant to reduce reliance on Russian crew transportation services after the retirement of America's aging shuttle fleet.

The administration will provide for a safe fly-out of five remaining shuttle missions – even if the final flights slip into 2011. But an option to extend shuttle operations through 2015 is being cast aside, officials said. Obama's aim is to turn NASA once again into "an engine for innovation," one that will spur the development of commercial industry in low Earth orbit.

The focus will be on developing technologies that would enable sustainable human expeditions beyond Earth orbit. But those journeys are not likely to take place before the early 2020s.

Despite a fiscal freeze on most discretionary programs, NASA's budget will be increased by $6 billion over the next five years for a total of $100 billion.

"Budgets are very tight," said former astronaut Sally Ride, who served on a presidential panel that determined NASA's current Project Constellation – the post-shuttle program – is on "an unsustainable trajectory."

"For NASA to be getting new money over the projections is to me an indication of how seriously this administration takes NASA and our goal of future innovations for this country."

The administration hopes to create 1,700 jobs in Florida and 5,000 jobs nationwide, helping to offset an anticipated loss of 7,000 jobs at Kennedy Space Center after the shuttle program's shutdown.

But some in Congress are not happy.

"My biggest fear is that this amounts to a slow death of our nation's human spaceflight program, a retreat from America's decades of leadership in space, ending the economic advantages that our space program has brought to the U.S. and ceding space to the Russians, Chinese and others," said U.S. Rep. Bill Posey, R-Rockledge.

"Until we have a clearer plan for the future, the only realistic and reasonable way to preserve America's leadership in space is to provide for a temporary extension of the shuttle," he said.

NASA since 2004 has invested $9 billion in developing the Constellation program's Ares I and Ares V rockets and the Apollo-style Orion crew capsule for missions to the moon, Mars and, in the event no commercial means becomes available, the International Space Station.

The agency also planned to develop a rocket stage to propel astronauts from low Earth to lunar orbit, and a lunar lander dubbed Altair.

The idea was to return American astronauts to the moon by 2020. But the presidential panel convened by Obama to review NASA's plans determined that a human lunar return was unlikely before 2028.

The panel favored the development of commercial crew transportation services, a move that would be a radical shift in national space policy. NASA since the late 1950s has developed rockets and spacecraft flown by U.S. astronauts.

"We really do believe it is time for American companies to come into this program in a way that they have on the cargo side for decades now," a senior NASA official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"This is a serious, serious effort that we believe will reduce the gap" between shuttle retirement and the first flights of successor craft, the official said.

So, what does all this mean for KSC? Here are some of the implications:

Commercial crew taxi services: One of the two companies now under NASA contract to launch cargo to the International Space Station -- SpaceX -- will be operating at Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
A competition presumably would be held to select a company to provide commercial crew transportation services, and it's almost certain that KSC and Cape Canaveral would be among the launch sites considered.

Senior administration officials said the commercial launch services – both cargo and crew – are expected to result in more new jobs and a higher launch rate on the Space Coast.

A higher launch rate would be good for business throughout Brevard County (which includes the Kennedy Space Center), particularly in the tourist industry.

Extending space station operations through 2020: NASA officials, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Orlando, and others aim to secure payload processing business for extended station operations.
Scientific experiments and cargo all must be prepped for launch, and it makes sense to locate that business near the launch site.

No moon missions: The Obama administration aims to ramp up NASA's technology development programs, which have atrophied over the last several years, and make "strategic investments" at KSC, according to a senior administration space policy adviser.
The idea is to turn KSC into a "launch complex of the future," making it increasingly attractive to commercial space launch companies, the adviser said.

Technology development efforts, some of which might focus on building heavy-lift launch vehicles, would be conducted at KSC along with other endeavors that would enable eventual human expeditions beyond Earth orbit.

Obama's space plan will be a hard sell in Congress. Even ardent Obama supporters and some key space advisers are taken aback.

"If some of the reports about the president's plans for NASA's budget are correct, it would decimate the space program," a Nelson spokesman said.

NASA's planned return to the moon is behind schedule because about $12 billion budgeted for the project was not appropriated by Congress during the past six years.

But Project Constellation enjoys strong bipartisan support in both the U.S. House and the Senate, and Congress will have a big say in the plan for NASA.

The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee passed legislation in December that requires broader congressional approval to change NASA's existing exploration program.

"I think that's the intent of the language," said U.S. Rep. Suzanne Kosmas, D-New Smyrna Beach. "It does give us hopefully some ability to weigh in."

Posey said, "This issue is far from over."

No Moon Trips: Obama's Space Vision a 'Paradigm Shift'
By Clara Moskowitz
SPACE.com Staff Writer
posted: 28 January 2010
03:07 pm ET

This story was updated at 5:41 p.m. ET.

President Obama's plan for America's space program, according to early reports, represents a fundamental shift for human spaceflight, some experts say.

The reports suggest the Obama administration intends to move toward relying on commercially-built spacecraft, rather than NASA's own vehicles, to carry humans to low-Earth orbit. The plan would also involve extending the International Space Station's lifetime and abandoning current plans to send astronauts on moon missions by 2020.

"This is definitely a paradigm shift in the way the country will go about its space program," said John Logsdon, a space policy expert and professor emeritus at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

A spokesperson for NASA's Constellation program overseeing the moon mission work at the Johnson Space Center in Houston told SPACE.com that it would be premature to make any comments on the agency's future until after NASA's spending goals are announced next Monday in Washington, D.C.

Boost to the private sector

The new reliance on the commercial spaceflight industry to take over the duty of ferrying humans back and forth from the space station is particularly significant, experts say.

On Wednesday, a senior White House official told two Florida newspapers (Florida Today and the Orlando Sentinel) that the administration would ask for an additional $6 billion over the next five years to help private companies develop this capability. So far, no commercial company has ever independently launched humans into orbit in its own spacecraft.

"The $6 billion shows that they are very serious about making it a successful and safe program," said Brett Alexander, president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, a private industry group. "I think what they're putting in place is bold and exciting. Bringing commercial and private [companies] into it will reinvigorate human spaceflight."

Alexander said he's confident that industry can rise to the challenge and meet this new task, and others agree.

"I think the commercial outfits ought to be given a chance to succeed," said Leroy Chiao, former NASA astronaut and member of a blue-ribbon panel President Obama put together last year to review NASA's plans. "The technology to get into low-Earth orbit has been around for almost 50 years — it's nothing particularly new."

In fact, the Obama administration's plan is seen by some as following closely one of the possible paths put forward by the panel, which was headed by Norman Augustine, a retired Lockheed Martin chief executive.

The committee found that NASA was severely underfunded to accomplish its vision of replacing its space shuttle fleet with new Orion vehicles and Ares rockets. It also suggested that relying on commercially built spacecraft would allow NASA to focus on more ambitious human spaceflight missions, like expeditions to a nearby asteroid or the moons of Mars.

Sharp critics

Not everyone agrees with the new plan, though. Former NASA administrator Michael Griffin, now an eminent scholar at the University of Alabama, Huntsville, sharply criticized the decision, questioning whether a commercial vehicle will be ready to carry humans to the station anytime soon.

"Today we have in orbit a $75 billion International Space Station, a product of the treasure and effort of 15 nations, and the president is recommending that we hold its future utility and, indeed, its very existence hostage to fortune, hostage to the hope that presently nonexistent commercial spaceflight capability can be brought into being in a timely way, following the retirement of the Space Shuttle," Griffin said in a statement.

And others are unhappy that the Obama space plan would potentially cause the loss of many NASA jobs if the business of launching humans into space is handed over to the private sector after the space shuttles retire.

"For Florida it would be devastating in the short term," Roger Handberg, a political scientist at the University of Central Florida who has written extensively on space policy. "If NASA goes into relative decline or suspension of manned launches, we're going to be in a hole.

Florida senator Bill Nelson (D-Orlando) has also come out against the plan, and other politicians from states that would lose jobs are also likely to fight the proposal. President Obama intends to officially announce his plans for space when he submits his federal 2011 budget request Monday, which will include his request for NASA funding.

Some say to wait until then to judge the plan.

"Most of what we're reading in the media right now are rumors and I think we really would do a disservice to ourselves if we jumped to conclusions," Chiao said.

What about the moon?

One of the major questions about the new plan is what will happen to the goal of returning people to the moon. Opinion is split on whether or not Obama plans to completely scrap the Constellation program, which is NASA's current vision for space exploration. Under the program, work has already begun to design a new rocket, Ares I, and crew capsule, Orion, to carry astronauts to the moon and beyond. The first test launch of that booster went off successfully in October 2009.

"I think it would be premature to say that Constellation is going to end," Chiao told SPACE.com. "What I think would be more probable is that there would be some variation on current plans."

But others take a dimmer view.

"Constellation is dead," Logsdon said. Yet he emphasized that that doesn't mean America won't go back to the moon. It just won't go back on the schedule and vision laid out by President Bush in 2004.

"The 'vision' to return to the moon that has been guiding NASA since 2004 was always an inadequately funded fantasy," said Joan Johnson-Freese, chair of the Department of National Security Studies at the Naval War College in Newport, R. I. "One of the goals of the Obama space plan appears to be to give NASA the opportunity to build and use enduring hardware — rather than an impulsive and unrealistic return-to-the-moon on a shoestring plan."

While the shift in policy may take some adjusting to, some are hopeful that it will allow America to retain its leadership as a space-faring nation.

"Any large organization doesn't necessarily like change so it's not surprising that people are concerned and worried," Chiao said.

"But change always brings opportunity. I'm cautiously optimistic."

Offline DSJ™

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Re: The Official Space Exploration Thread
« Reply #916 on: February 2, 2010, 08:33 AM »
NASA's $100B moon program gets killed

From Space.com

Quote
Obama Budget Scraps NASA Moon Plan for '21st Century Space Program'
By Tariq Malik
SPACE.com Managing Editor
posted: 01 February 2010
03:29 pm ET
 
President Barack Obama's 2011 budget request has effectively shut down NASA's five-year effort to return astronauts to the moon, leaving the U.S. space agency with lofty goals – but no firm deadlines – to once again send humans beyond Earth orbit.

The budget request, released today, would scrap NASA's Constellation program to build the Orion spacecraft and Ares rockets for new manned moon missions – a $9 billion investment to date. The request calls for $19 billion in funding for NASA in 2011, a slight increase from the $18.3 billion it spent in 2010.

The request does, however, pledge extra funding to extend the life of the International Space Station through at least 2020 and offers $6 billion over five years to support commercially built spaceships to launch NASA astronauts into space. The space agency's three remaining space shuttles are due to retire later this year.

The budget announcement occurred on the seventh anniversary of NASA's Columbia shuttle disaster on Feb. 1, 2003, in which seven astronauts were killed during re-entry due to wing heat shield damage. It came just days after the 24th anniversary of the Challenger shuttle accident that killed seven astronauts on Jan. 28, 1986.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, a former space shuttle commander, said that while the budget cancels the program building the agency's space shuttle replacement – the Orion crew vehicle – it is not trading away safety to embrace new, privately built spaceships to fly astronauts. It also paves the way for a "21st Century space program," he said.

"No one cares about safety more than I. I flew on the space shuttle four times. I lost friends in the two space shuttle tragedies. So I give you my word these vehicles will be safe," Bolden said. "They will fulfill a critical NASA need, spur industrial innovation, and free up NASA to do the bold, forward-leaning work that we need to do to explore beyond Earth."

Bolden said NASA has already made new agreements with several commercial spaceflight companies to spur their efforts. NASA and the White House Office of Science and Technology plan to make an announcement related to commercial spaceflight providers on Tuesday, NASA officials said.

"This new path is a big change. I realize that," Bolden told reporters in a teleconference. "But it is not a change from the guiding principles of NASA. It makes America stronger. It enables us to draw more strongly on the ingenuity of the commercial sector and create deeper ties with our international partners."

The new plan is not without its opponents, particularly in states that have traditionally been home to major NASA efforts.

"This is a crippling blow to America's human spaceflight program," said Congressman Pete Olson (R-Texas).  "It has taken over 50 years to build and develop America's ascension to its rightful place as the dominant player in human spaceflight. That dominance is apparently no longer desired."

Texas is home to NASA's Johnson Space Center, where astronauts train for space missions and the Mission Controls for the shuttle fleet and International Space Station are headquartered.

Scrapping Constellation

Announced in 2005, NASA's Constellation program aimed at retiring the space shuttle fleet this year and replacing it with new capsule-based vehicles (called Orion) designed to launch on Ares I rockets, with a larger heavy-lift rocket called Ares V launching lunar landers and rocket stages needed for moon-bound missions. The moon plan, announced by former President George W. Bush in 2004, was aimed at returning astronauts to the moon by 2020.

It would cost $100 billion, roughly the current price tag of the International Space Station. Cancelling the program will cost more than $2 billion in closing costs, NASA officials said.

Last year, an independent committee led by former Lockheed Martin CEO Norman Augustine reviewed NASA's moon plan and found it hobbled by severe underfunding and delays. NASA wouldn't make it back to the moon until 2028, and even then wouldn't have money to build the lander to set down on it, the committee found.

The committee submitted several options for the president, which included embracing commercially built spacecraft and pushing aside NASA's current spaceflight plan for bolder expeditions to the moon, asteroids or Mars.

"The plan released with the President's FY 2011 budget does appear to respond to the primary concerns highlighted in our committee's report," Augustine said in a statement.

Lori Garver, NASA's deputy administrator, told reporters today that the new budget request provides an overhaul of NASA's spaceflight exploration plan.

The request would set aside $369 million for vital technology development and test programs, with $183 million earmarked to support the International Space Station through 2020. The station was slated to be decommissioned in 2016, a year before the Augustine committee believed NASA's new Orion ship would be ready to ferry astronauts to it.

The new budget would set aside $3.1 billion in funding to develop better heavy-lift rockets and more advanced space propulsion technology to explore faster and farther out into the solar system, NASA officials said.

"What this program does is give us back the solar system," Garver said.

Garver and Bolden did not announce details for new vehicles, specific destinations or potential timetables for new manned missions beyond low-Earth orbit. But Garver did say that, if NASA's 2011 budget is approved, the agency could accomplish those goals well before the 2028 timeframe proposed by the Augustine committee.

The agency is hoping commercially built space ferries could be ready to fly astronauts by 2016, she added.

Beyond human spaceflight

President Obama's 2011 budget request for NASA also spotlights other areas within the space agency that have suffered in recent years due to the agency's focus on human spaceflight.

The request includes $170 million to replace NASA's lost Orbiting Carbon Observatory, a probe aimed at studying climate change, which was destroyed during a launch failure last year. About $3.2 billion is set aside for science research grants and missions, including a potential successor to the Hubble Space Telescope.

About $146 million – a $20 million increase – is allocated in the 2011 budget request to support education and public outreach. It is aimed at spurring interest in science, technology, mathematics and space among the American youth and general public, Garver said.

"There are so many wonderful things that can be done with NASA," Garver said. "It is the people's program and we're giving it back to them."

Any political comments can be made in some other area of the forum. Thanks. 

I'll just say, this ******* sucks!

Offline Matt_Fury

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Re: The Official Space Exploration Thread
« Reply #917 on: February 2, 2010, 08:37 PM »
It won't stay dead.  I have a feeling it will be back in there really soon.
Peacekeeper, when it absolutely, positively has to be nuked in 30 minutes or less.  Or the next nuke's free!

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Re: The Official Space Exploration Thread
« Reply #918 on: February 3, 2010, 09:34 AM »
Slam! Two Asteroids Suspected in Space Collision.



A Hubble Space Telescope picture of a comet-like object called P/2010 A2 shows a bizarre X-pattern of filamentary structures near the point-like nucleus of the object and trailing streamers of dust. Scientists think the object is the remnant of an asteroid collision. Credit: NASA, ESA, and D. Jewitt (UCLA).



The European Space Agency's sun-watching Proba-2 spacecraft recorded a video of the annular solar eclipse that took place on January 15, 2010. Credit: ESA.

Video: Solar Eclipse Seen From Space

NASA sets launch of Endeavour for next Sunday morning



A transport container (left) with the Tranquility module and Cupola is hoisted into position at Launch Pad 39A for installation inside the cargo bay of the waiting shuttle Endeavour on Monday, Jan. 18, 2010. Launch of the STS-130 mission is set for Feb. 7. Credit: NASA/KSC.

FY 2011 Budget Overview (387 Kb PDF)

Office of Management and Budget: FY 2011 NASA Fact Sheet

NASA Budget Details From OMB

That's no moon!   :D



What's that behind Titan? It's another of Saturn's moons: Tethys. The robotic Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn captured the heavily cratered Tethys slipping behind Saturn's atmosphere-shrouded Titan late last year. The largest crater on Tethys, Odysseus, is easily visible on the distant moon. Titan shows not only its thick and opaque orange lower atmosphere, but also an unusual upper layer of blue-tinted haze. Tethys, at about 2 million kilometers distant, was twice as far from Cassini as was Titan when the above image was taken. In 2004, Cassini released the Hyugens probe which landed on Titan and provided humanity's first views of the surface of the Solar System's only known lake-bearing moon. Credit: NASA.

Offline Darby

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Re: The Official Space Exploration Thread
« Reply #919 on: February 3, 2010, 10:20 AM »
Beautiful.

I am really sore over the NASA situation.  I believe space exploration will continue, but our lack of national interest speaks to our lack of national ambition. 

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Re: The Official Space Exploration Thread
« Reply #920 on: February 6, 2010, 10:04 PM »
NASA administrator concerned about potential job losses

Over 1000 jobs will be lost.. way to go Obama!  >:(



The space shuttle Endeavour is seen after the rotating service structure is rolled back on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2010 at Launch Pad 39A of the NASA Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Endeavour and the crew members of the STS-130 mission are set to launch on Sunday at 4:39 a.m. EST. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls.



Flags fly near Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida following the move of the rotating service structure from around space shuttle Endeavour. Image credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett.

After traveling more than four million miles, and making 171 orbits around Earth on board space shuttle Atlantis, the Super Bowl XLIV opening-toss coin took a slight detour to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Museum in Canton, Ohio, on Jan. 27, before heading to the Super Bowl.

The coin was flown last November on STS-129 by crew members Commander Charlie Hobaugh, Pilot Barry Wilmore, and Mission Specialists Leland Melvin, Randy Bresnik, Mike Foreman and Bobby Satcher.

The astronauts stopped by the museum to return the silver-minted coin, as well as a few other space-flown memorabilia, including a football inscribed with the name of every member of the Hall of Fame. They also returned flown jerseys from the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys, the two teams Melvin played for in his short stint in the NFL.

After stopping at the Hall of Fame, the coin will journey to Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., to be the one of the stars of the Super Bowl XLIV pre-game coin toss on Feb. 7.



This medallion, which was flown in space aboard space shuttle Atlantis, will be used for the official coin toss prior to the kickoff of Super Bowl XLIV. Credit: NASA/Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field.



Members of the STS-129 shuttle mission present a specially minted silver medallion to National Football League officials on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2010, at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. The coin, which was flown in space during the November flight of Atlantis, will be used for the official coin toss prior to the kickoff of Super Bowl XLIV on Sunday, Feb. 7, 2010.

One member of Atlantis' crew, Leland Melvin, was drafted by the NFL's Detroit Lions in 1986. The crew also flew other NFL-related memorabilia, including jerseys and a football inscribed with the name of every member of the Hall of Fame.

From left: Astronauts Bobby Satcher, Randy Bresnik, and Charlie Hobaugh; Joe Horrigan, Vice President of Communications/Exhibits for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Steve Perry, President/Executive Director of the Pro Football Hall of Fame; astronauts Berry Wilmore, Michael Foreman and Leland Melvin. Credit: NASA/Marv Smith.

New Hubble Maps of Pluto Show Surface Changes



Quote
Date: Feb. 7
Mission: STS-130
Launch Vehicle: Space Shuttle Endeavour
Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center - Launch Pad 39A
Launch Time: 4:39 a.m. EST
Landing: Feb. 19 - 11:14 p.m. EST
Description: Space shuttle Endeavour will deliver the final connecting node, Tranquility Node 3, and the Cupola, a robotic control station with six windows around its sides and another in the center that provides a 360-degree view around the International Space Station

Quote
Date: March 18 +
Mission: STS-131
Launch Vehicle: Space Shuttle Discovery
Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center - Launch Pad 39A
Launch Time: 1:34 p.m. EDT
Description: Space shuttle Discovery will carry a Multi-Purpose Logistics Module filled with science racks that will be transferred to laboratories of the International Space Station.

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Date: May 14 +
Mission: STS-132
Launch Vehicle: Space Shuttle Atlantis
Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center - Launch Pad 39A
Launch Time: 2:28 p.m. EDT
Description: Space shuttle Atlantis mission will carry an integrated cargo carrier to deliver maintenance and assembly hardware, including spare parts for space station systems. In addition, the second in a series of new pressurized components for Russia, a Mini Research Module, will be permanently attached to the bottom port of the Zarya module.

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Date: July 29 +
Mission: STS-134
Launch Vehicle: Space Shuttle Endeavour
Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center - Launch Pad 39A
Launch Time: 7:51 a.m. EDT
STS-134 Description: Space shuttle Endeavour will deliver an EXPRESS Logistics Carrier-3 (ELC-3) and an Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) to the International Space Station.

Quote
Date: Sept. 16 +
Mission: STS-133
Launch Vehicle: Space Shuttle Discovery
Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center - Launch Pad 39A
Launch Time: 11:57 a.m. EDT
STS-133 Description: Space shuttle Discovery will deliver the Express Logistics Carrier 4 (ELC4), a Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MLPM) and critical spare components to the International Space Station.

God Speed Endeavour & her crew. If this launch is a go, then T-Minus 4 launches & counting left in the shuttle program.   :'(

Offline DSJ™

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Re: The Official Space Exploration Thread
« Reply #921 on: February 7, 2010, 08:18 AM »
Weather forces NASA to scrub Endeavour launch

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Low cloud ceilings forced NASA to scrub Sunday's launch of space shuttle Endeavour to the international space station.

"Next possible launch attempt is Monday at 4:14 a.m. ET," the agency said on its Web site.


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Re: The Official Space Exploration Thread
« Reply #922 on: February 8, 2010, 08:17 AM »
Endeavour lifts off on two-week mission



Space shuttle Endeavour roars off Launch Pad 39A on its STS-130 mission to deliver Tranquility and cupola to the International Space Station. Image credit: NASA TV.



Space shuttle Endeavour lights up the night sky as it lifts off from Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The primary payload for the STS-130 mission to the International Space Station is the Tranquility node, a pressurized module that will provide additional room for crew members and many of the station's life support and environmental control systems. Attached to one end of Tranquility is a cupola, a unique work area with six windows on its sides and one on top. The cupola resembles a circular bay window and will provide a vastly improved view of the station's exterior. The multi-directional view will allow the crew to monitor spacewalks and docking operations, as well as provide a spectacular view of Earth and other celestial objects. The module was built in Turin, Italy, by Thales Alenia Space for the European Space Agency. Credit: NASA/Jim Grossmann.



At Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, work is under way to close space shuttle Endeavour's payload bay doors around the Tranquility node. Tranquility, the primary payload for Endeavour's STS-130 mission, is a pressurized module that will provide room for many of the International Space Station's life support systems. Attached to one end of Tranquility is a cupola, a unique work area with six windows on its sides and one on top. The cupola resembles a circular bay window, and will provide a vastly improved view of the station's exterior. Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett.



An artist's concept of the new space station Cupola. Credit: NASA.

Endeavour to Deliver a Room With a View

Offline Master_Phruby

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Re: The Official Space Exploration Thread
« Reply #923 on: February 8, 2010, 09:43 AM »
Sounds like Cupola is the make-out spot on the station.
« Last Edit: February 8, 2010, 09:43 AM by Master_Phruby »
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Offline DSJ™

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Re: The Official Space Exploration Thread
« Reply #924 on: February 10, 2010, 07:13 AM »
Endeavour docks with international space station



Space shuttle Endeavour is seen by a camera on the exterior of the International Space Station just before its midnight docking on Feb. 10, 2010 during NASA's STS-130 mission. Japan's giant Kibo laboratory is seen in the foreground. Credit: NASA TV.



The space shuttle Endeavour is seen docked at the International Space Station in this view taken by an exterior camera on Feb. 10, 2010. At top, the station's new Tranquility module and dome-shaped Cupola window addition can be seen in the shuttle's payload bay. Credit: NASA TV.

Solar observatory set for launch

The Solar Dynamics Observatory and its Atlas V rocket rolled out to the launch pad at Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The Tuesday morning move sets the stage for a liftoff Wednesday at 10:26 a.m. EST.

Live coverage of the launch will begin at 7:15 a.m. Wednesday on NASA TV and NASA's Launch Blog.



A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with its Solar Dynamics Observatory payload is moved to the launch pad Tuesday in preparation for liftoff. Photo credit: United Launch Alliance/Pat Corkery.

Offline DSJ™

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Re: The Official Space Exploration Thread
« Reply #925 on: February 10, 2010, 11:05 AM »
The Solar Dynamics Observatory launch is live on the NASA TV channel online.

NASA TV

Offline DSJ™

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Re: The Official Space Exploration Thread
« Reply #926 on: February 10, 2010, 11:33 AM »
NASA delays launch of rocket with solar probe

The launch is scrubbed for the day, they started the countdown at the 4 minute mark & a computer aborted at 03:59.

The clock is reset at the 5 minute mark & they are going for a 24 hr recharge for a 10:23am window for tomorrow.

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Re: The Official Space Exploration Thread
« Reply #927 on: February 11, 2010, 08:35 AM »
Shuttle and Station Crews Get to Work
Spacewalk preparations and water recovery system maintenance highlight the work schedule for the first full day of joint docked operations by the astronauts on space shuttle Endeavour and the International Space Station.

First up for Mission Specialists Nicholas Patrick and Bob Behnken will be time to configure tools they’ll take outside on the first spacewalk of the mission Thursday evening. Shuttle Commander George Zamka and station Flight Engineer Soichi Noguchi will resize a spare spacesuit for Behnken after a power harness on his original suit failed.

Station Commander Jeff Williams began his day by beginning the installation of a new Distillation Assembly and Flow Control Pump Assembly in the station’s Water Recovery System as part of the plan to reactivate the equipment that processes urine into drinking water for station crews. Flight Engineers Max Suraev and Oleg Kotov will continue to pack items in a Progress supply ship and T.J. Creamer is scheduled to be monitoring several scientific payloads. Shuttle Pilot Terry Virts and Mission Specialists Kay Hire and Steve Robinson will continue moving new equipment and supplies from Endeavour onto the station.

All 11 crew members are scheduled for some off duty time in the latter portion of their day before a spacewalk procedures review at 4:09 a.m. EST Thursday. Credit: NASA.



This view of space shuttle Endeavour's aft section includes the three main engines and was taken by the Expedition 22 crew during the shuttle's approach vehicle prior to docking with the International Space Station. As part of the survey and part of every mission's activities, Endeavour performed a back-flip for the rendezvous pitch maneuver (RPM). The image was photographed with a digital still camera, using a 400mm lens at a distance of about 600 feet (180 meters). Credit: NASA.

SDO Team Continues Weather Watch as Launch Day Begins

The launch team for NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, isn't working any issues that would prevent liftoff at 10:23 a.m. EST from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The only concern is the weather, which remains 60 percent "go."



A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with its Solar Dynamics Observatory payload stands at Launch Complex 41 in preparation for liftoff. Credit: NASA TV.

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Re: The Official Space Exploration Thread
« Reply #928 on: February 11, 2010, 10:21 AM »
The Solar Dynamics Observatory is on the way, great launch.  8)

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Re: The Official Space Exploration Thread
« Reply #929 on: February 13, 2010, 03:53 PM »


The International Space Station's new Tranquility module is moved to the port side of the Unity node on the station during an overnight spacewalk that began Feb. 10, 2010 on NASA's STS-130 mission. Credit: NASA.



The International Space Station's new Tranquility node takes center stage in this view taken during an overnight spacewalk on Feb. 10, 2010 by STS-130 astronauts Robert Behnken and Nick Patrick. Here, the module is already installed on the ISS. The Cupola dome can be seen in the foreground. Credit: NASA TV.



Astronauts open the new Tranquility room at the International Space Station on Feb. 12, 2010 during the STS-130 mission aboard shuttle Endeavour. Credit: NASA TV.



This four-frame mosaic shows the delivery of NASA's new Tranquility module to the International Space Station during a Feb. 10, 2010 spacewalk by the STS-130 crew. Credit: NASA/collectSPACE.com



NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, SDO, launched aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V from Space Launch Complex-41 at 10:23 a.m. EST on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2010. SDO is the first satellite of NASA's Living with a Star (LWS) program.
From its geosynchronous orbit, SDO will point its instruments at the sun, conducting groundbreaking research that is expected to reveal the sun's inner workings by constantly taking high resolution images, collecting readings from inside the sun and measuring its magnetic field activity. This data is expected to give researchers the insight they need to eventually predict solar storms and other activity on the sun that can affect spacecraft in orbit, astronauts on the International Space Station and electronic and other systems on Earth. Credit: Pat Corkery/United Launch Alliance.



In a very unique setting over Earth's colorful horizon, the silhouette of the space shuttle Endeavour is featured in this photo by an Expedition 22 crew member on board the International Space Station, as the shuttle approached for its docking on Feb. 9 during the STS-130 mission. Image Credit: NASA