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Atlantis Given “Go” for Deorbit Burn

November 27, 2009 Leave a comment

Fri, 27 Nov 2009 06:59:25 PM GMT+0530

Mission Control Capcom Chris Ferguson radioed a “go for deorbit burn” to space shuttle Atlantis Commander Charlie Hobaugh at 8:14 a.m. EST. The three minute, seven second maneuver scheduled for 8:37 a.m. will slow Atlantis by more than 200 miles per hour and lead to a landing at 9:44 a.m. at Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

The STS-129 Crew

Image above: The STS-129 crew members show some of their Thanksgiving food items during an in-flight media interview: Photo credit: NASA TV

<!– › High-res image –>› Meet the STS-129 Crew

Crew Begins Landing Day
The crew of space shuttle Atlantis has begun what is scheduled to be the STS-129 mission’s landing day.

Atlantis will be bringing home Mission Specialist and former Expedition 20 and 21 Flight Engineer Nicole Stott, who spent 87 days on the International Space Station. Her return brings to an end nearly a decade of space shuttle use to rotate crew on the station.

With the weather in Florida looking perfect for a landing, Atlantis’ first opportunity is at Kennedy Space Center on orbit 171. It would see a deorbit burn at 8:37 a.m. EST. Landing would be at 9:44 a.m.

Atlantis is winding up a mission that included three spacewalks and more than six days at the International Space Station. The orbiter took 14 tons of cargo in its payload bay, including two large carriers with spare parts to sustain station operations after the shuttles are retired next year, to the orbiting laboratory.

Tuesday at 10 a.m., European Space Agency astronaut Frank De Winne handed over command of the station to NASA astronaut Jeff Williams. De Winne and Expedition 21 Flight Engineers Roman Romanenko and Robert Thirsk are scheduled to leave the station for return to Earth in a Soyuz capsule on Nov. 30.

› View video of change of command ceremony

On Sunday, Bresnik told the flight controllers his new daughter, Abigail Mae Bresnik, had been born in Houston at 11:04 p.m. CST Saturday. He said his wife Rebecca and new daughter, 6 pounds, 13 ounces and 20 inches long, were doing well. Bresnik got the news by private phone patch through mission control shortly after the crew was awakened.

Radar Strip Showing Crater Bessel

November 19, 2009 1 comment
Radar Strip Showing Crater Bessel

Mini-RF S-band zoom synthetic aperture radar (SAR) image strip through central Mare Serenitatis on the near side of the Moon (approximate longitude of strip ~ 18° E; center latitude ~ 20° N). The radar strip runs through the crater Bessel (inset; 15 km (9 mile) diameter; center at 21.8° N, 17.9° E) and covers the highlands of the Haemus Mts. (rim of Serenitatis basin) in its southern (bottom) third. The full-resolution SAR data are 30 m (90 feet). The streaks of bright and dark material in the walls of Bessel probably reflect the blockiness of landslides within the crater, brighter streaks having more blocks of the 10-cm (4-inch) scale. The radar strip covers a major geological boundary in Mare Serenitatis; the darker, lower maria has higher titanium content than central Serenitatis. We see this geological boundary in the Mini-RF radar image, caused by higher absorption of RF energy by the high content of the iron-titanium oxide mineral ilmenite. Thus, Mini-RF SAR images can be used to map the titanium content of the lunar maria. The background image is part of the Clementine global mosaic.

Hatches Open, Crews Begin Joint Operations

November 19, 2009 Leave a comment

ISS021-E-024311 -- Frank De Winne

Image above: Expedition 21 Commander Frank De Winne moves a High Definition Video (HDV) camera and equipment from the Kibo laboratory into the Harmony node of the International Space Station. Credit: NASA

The Expedition 21 crew welcomed a new set of visitors aboard the International Space Station on Wednesday.

After a series of leak checks, the hatches between the two vehicles opened at 1:28 p.m. EST marking the start of joint operations. Space shuttle Atlantis docked with the station at 11:51 a.m.

Hatch opening also marked the end of Flight Engineer Nicole Stott’s two-and-a-half-month stint with the space station’s crew. She officially became a member of the STS-129 crew, and the station will be manned by a five-person crew until Dec. 1, when Commander Frank De Winne and Flight Engineers Roman Romanenko and Robert Thirsk will depart the station in their Soyuz vehicle.

The STS-129 mission will focus on storing spare hardware on the exterior of the station. The 11-day flight will include three spacewalks and the installation of two platforms to the station’s truss, or backbone. The platforms will hold spare parts to sustain station operations after the shuttles are retired. This equipment is large and can only be transported using the unique capability of the shuttle.

For the latest news and information on the STS-129 mission, visit the main shuttle page.

Glenn Helps Ares I-X Soar

November 17, 2009 Leave a comment
11.16.09

The future of new rocket design was successfully tested when the Ares I-X blasted off on October 28, 2009. The test vehicle launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and travelled for six minutes until it splashed down 150 miles away in the Atlantic Ocean. Ares I-X, at 327 feet tall and 1.8 million pounds, was comprised of components fabricated at several NASA centers. The Upper Stage Simulator (USS), all 430,000 pounds and 110 feet of it, was developed, designed and constructed at NASA’s Glenn Research Center.

view of ARES I -X launch from distance

The Ares I-X Flight Test blasts off from the launch pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Image Credit: Thilo Kranz, Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft-und Raumhahrt (German Space Agency)
Vince Bilardo, Ares I-X Upper Stage Simulator Project Manager at Glenn, lead the project from its beginning four years ago through the extraordinary apex of the launch. He shares his thoughts on Ares I-X and Glenn’s essential role in its success.

How did the launch go?
Vince Bilardo: The launch was nearly flawless! Once we got past the weather issues, the countdown and flight went just as planned. The vehicle flew the exact trajectory that was planned. All the data was successfully telemetered to the ground during the flight, the cameras all worked great and provided spectacular images of the flight. We proved conclusively that we can successfully control a tall, slender rocket by small movements in a single rocket nozzle.

How did the Glenn component, the USS, perform?
VB: The Glenn-built Upper Stage Simulator (USS) performed flawlessly, as best as we can determine so far. And that was not just during launch but in all phases of the ground assembly and launch processing prior to the flight. Contrary to speculation, the USS motion after First Stage separation was predicted in several of the “dispersion cases” or simulations that we ran prior to flight. And the entire stage held together after separation all the way down to the water, contrary to some analyses which predicted that it might break apart due to high loads during the tumble down to the sea. It all adds up to a strong endorsement of the robust design and manufacturing concept that our in house team implemented.

ARES I-X at night

>Ares I-X, including the Upper Stage Simulator (USS) built at NASA’s Glenn Research Center, is illuminated the night before launch. Image Credit: Thilo Kranz, Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft-und Raumhahrt (German Space Agency)
What was the experience of being at the launch like?
VB: I was part of the Launch Support Team, which was located in one of the backup launch control rooms called Hangar AE, on the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station side. All of the Integrated Product Team personnel that designed and developed the Ares I-X hardware and software were located in Hangar AE. We had to be “on station” at our consoles by 4:00 am for the countdown each of the two launch attempts on October 27 and 28. Then, we had to work some contingency loads analyses to take into account the winds on the actual day of launch and their potential affect on the vehicle structure. So it was a very busy time leading up to the final countdown coming out of the planned hold at the T-4 minute point.

As we got close to this point, the weather uncertainty took over, and it made for an emotional roller coaster as we thought we had a go, then the weather window would close, then open again another 30 minutes later, and so on. Once we got the count restarted, the final four minutes were very quiet in the room, then once we got to T-0 and saw the vehicle lift off there was elation and cheering, followed by more quiet as we watched closely to for each event during the overall six minute mission. As each of those milestones were hit, there was more cheering, followed by a big round of applause once we saw the FS parachutes open up.

What was it like being a key participant in the Ares I-X launch? What did you and your Glenn team learn from being a part of the project?
VB: It was a thrilling experience, and without a doubt the highlight of my career to date. I believe this is true for all of our USS team members at GRC and across the agency, for this truly was a once-in-a-career historic mission: the first flight of a new rocket vehicle in over a generation, since the Space Shuttle was developed in the 1970s.

We have learned a tremendous amount being part of this endeavor, starting with the hands-on, in house engineering, design, analysis, manufacturing, handling, and transportation we performed with civil servants and in-house contractor team members. We developed rigorous flight hardware processes and procedures, and we put in place improved manufacturing tools and techniques. We also gained the experience of processing the flight hardware for launch in the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center.

We have truly built our capacity to be a space flight development center during the execution of Ares I-X.

NASA EDGE Nominated for Best Video Podcast

November 17, 2009 Leave a comment
11.16.09

NASA EDGE Nominated for ‘Best Video Podcast’ in the 5th Annual Podcast Awards!

›› Vote Now for NASA EDGE!

NASA EDGE

Vote now for NASA EDGE, Best Video Podcast at www.podcastawards.com!

NASA EDGE continues their unprecedented, unscripted journey through the world of video podcasting with their very first award nomination. This is no small accomplishment considering that only two and half years ago, they weren’t sure that they would find an audience.

Well, they have. Almost three years and 3.2 million downloads later, NASA EDGE is now recognized in the company of such internet greats and fellow nominees as “Buzz out Loud,” “Diggnation” and “Filmriot” just to name a few.

In fact, the 5th Annual Podcast Awards, managed by Podcast Connect Inc., mentioned on their Web site that this year’s competition received more than 321,000 nominations for over 3,500 different shows.

Be sure to vote for NASA EDGE

You can vote once a day from November 13 to November 30, 2009 by visiting www.podcastawards.com. NASA EDGE is listed in the “Best Video Podcast” category with nine other video podcasts.

If you’re already a fan of NASA EDGE, please vote for them. If you haven’t seen or heard of NASA EDGE, visit their home page at www.nasa.gov/nasaedge and download any or all of their 46 video podcasts. You will not be disappointed.

NASA EDGE Co-Host and outsider Blair Allen

NASA EDGE Co-host, Blair Allen

What is NASA EDGE?

NASA EDGE is different. Unscripted and unpredictable, NASA EDGE takes a unique look in and around the greatest space program on the planet. They have hosted the Great Moonbuggy Race, examined NASA spinoff technology at the X Games, followed the Desert-RATS with an unconventional set of duct tape boots, coined the term Magnetospherence and even made an appearance on ESPN’s nationally syndicated “Mike & Mike in the Morning” show.

Check out their latest Vodcast, which added a new wrinkle. In October they covered NASA’s historic Ares I-X Flight Demonstration live on the Web. That show featured the entire broadcast team and an attempt at defining and redefining ‘triboelectrification.’

Of course, NASA EDGE isn’t just a video podcast. If you have questions, comments or thoughts about NASA or NASA EDGE, you can friend them on facebook and ask questions, chat or check out some exclusive facebook videos.

Or if you just want to keep up with their latest shows or activities you can follow them on twitter (@NASA_EDGE).

If all goes well, you’ll hear from them the second they win their very first award!

STS-129: Atlantis Successfully Launches

November 17, 2009 Leave a comment

Tue, 17 Nov 2009 03:07:21 PM GMT+0530

The six crew members aboard space shuttle Atlantis began the second day of their mission Tuesday at 4:28 a.m. EST. Activities for the STS-129 crew include surveying the shuttle’s thermal protection system, checking out spacesuits and grappling the Express Logistics Carrier 1. The crew also will install the centerline camera, extend the Orbiter Docking System ring and checkout rendezvous tools in preparation for docking to the International Space Station on Wednesday.

    Launch of space shuttle Atlantis
    Image above: Space shuttle Atlantis with its crew of six astronauts lifts off from Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit:Jim Grossman
    › High-res image

    › Meet the STS-129 Crew

    Atlantis Travels to International Space Station
    The STS-129 mission is commanded by Charles O. Hobaugh and piloted by Barry E. Wilmore. Mission Specialists are Robert L. Satcher Jr., Mike Foreman, Randy Bresnik and Leland Melvin. Wilmore, Satcher and Bresnik are making their first trip to space.

    Atlantis and its crew are delivering two control moment gyroscopes, equipment and EXPRESS Logistics Carrier 1 and 2 to the International Space Station. The mission will feature three spacewalks.

    The mission also will return station crew member Nicole Stott to Earth and is slated to be the final space shuttle crew rotation flight.

Smiles and Memories: A Final ‘Goodbye’ to the Langley Full-Scale Tunnel

November 16, 2009 Leave a comment

It was a grand finale of sorts, a celebration that revisited the 78-year history of the Full-Scale Tunnel at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.

The Langley Full-Scale Tunnel in Oct. 1930

Click to enlarge

The Langley Full-Scale Tunnel’s huge exterior from the Little Back River in October 1930.

 

Credit: NASA

Engineers mingled with mayors. Alumni mingled with a new generation of NASA. Recollections mingled with respect.

“Many times it is referred to as ‘the’ Langley Wind Tunnel,” said Joe Chambers, author and former tunnel branch head, who spoke to a standing room-only crowd at Langley’s Reid Conference Center. In fact, it was only one of dozens of wind tunnels at NASA Langley.

A slideshow of the tunnel’s history shown through photographs and quotes included music from the decades of the tunnel’s operation. It set the ambiance for the ceremony that marked the official “goodbye.” Demolition of the 30-by-60-foot tunnel is expected to begin early next year.

“We did 796 tests in this facility,” said Chambers.

Chambers explained that the vision for a tunnel that would be 60 feet (18.3 m) across, 30 feet (9.1 m) high and with capabilities of speed surpassing 100 miles per hour (161 kph) started as a model in 1929. That model was under construction by 1930 and dedicated in 1931. It was built for $980,000.

As ideas arose, the tunnel evolved. In 1939, wooden blades replaced the original metal ones. “Those blades are the same blades that are in the tunnel today,” Chambers said. Applause erupted.

Clyde McLemore (R) offered his experiences as Dan Murri (L) guided guests

Click to enlarge

After a celebratory reception, some of the employees and alumni who worked in the Langley Full-Scale Tunnel gathered in front of the Reid Conference Center.

 

Credit: NASA/Sean Smith

During the years of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, the tunnel attracted pioneers and luminaries like Orville Wright, Charles Lindbergh, Glenn Curtiss and Howard Hughes.

“When NASA was formed, the facility changed and began to develop space ideas,” Chambers said. Modern times called for modern upgrades. Chambers noted the addition of a flight control computer.

And according to Chambers, the wind tunnel was producing more than just critical test results for improved flight — it produced four NASA Center Directors. “There is no other wind tunnel or organization that provided four center directors to the agency,” he said.

It also produced memories.

Gorden Helsel, mayor of Poquoson, Va., stared forward at the slideshow. “It’s a landmark to this area,” he said. “To a lot of folks out here, it’s like losing an old friend.”

He glanced over at the F-22 model. “I flew in one of those,” Helsel said. “I spent 45 minutes in the air and was glad to get back on the ground.” It was an experience made possible through testing at the full-scale tunnel.

Long Yip worked in the tunnel from 1977 to 1990. “I remember opening a textbook on aeronautics and the first thing I saw was the Full Scale Tunnel. I never imagined I would work there,” he said.

Bob Huston began working at the tunnel in 1958. He recalled a time when one of his tests was interrupted by testing for Neil Armstrong and the lunar lander. “The test I was working on was delayed for six months,” he said. In hindsight, Huston didn’t mind so much.

A group of employees who worked in the Full-Scale Tunnel

Click to enlarge

Clyde McLemore (R) offered his personal experiences as Dan Murri (L) guided guest throughout different areas of the Langley Full-Scale Tunnel. “If I get anything wrong, you all can let me know,” Murri respectfully said to the alumni that were present on the tour.

 

Credit: NASA/Sean Smith

Following the reception, many guests chose to revisit the tunnel located on the Langley Air Force Base side of NASA Langley. When attending alumni spoke up during a tour, the crowd circled and listened.

Clyde McLemore who worked there from 1947 to 1980, described a time when workers used slide rules, calculators and computers.

“When you say ‘computers’ — you are talking about a person?” asked Dan Murri as he led guests throughout the tunnel.

“Yes, it was a girl we called a computer,” McLemore responded with a smile.

The group continued on through the curvy turbulence vanes and across a walkway. It was the same walkway that Cameron Diaz walked on for a scene in the movie, “The Box,” which is set to be released nationwide on Nov. 6.

At the next halt, McLemore looked up at a wooden propeller that stood about three stories tall. “The nose cone and tail cone were mine,” he said.

“You designed those?” Murri asked.

“Yes,” McLemore responded.

For many on the tour, the tunnel was being seen through the eyes of the alumni. And for the alumni, the tunnel was being seen through their younger selves.

//

Alumni and guests tour the Langley Full-Scale Tunnel.

Huston smiled at the tunnel’s interior. He pointed to specific areas and recalled a funny story or a test that took place there. “Even when we worked extra hours during the war, it didn’t matter much. It was still a fun place to work,” he said.

The facility survived nearly eight decades. Its memory and history will survive much longer and so will its results. Tests conducted there include all of the World War II aircrafts, the P-51 aircraft, the Mercury entry capsule, submarines and NASCAR vehicles, to name a few.

The Langley Full-Scale Tunnel is being preserved virtually at:

http://gis.larc.nasa.gov/documents/643/historic/WebApp.html