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SpaceX Pad Abort Test vehicle poised for May 6, 2015 test flight from SpaceX’s Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) in Cape Canaveral, Florida.  Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX Pad Abort Test vehicle poised for May 6, 2015 test flight from SpaceX’s Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Credit: SpaceX

The first critical test flight of SpaceX’s crewed Dragon that will soon launch American astronauts back to orbit and the International Space Station (ISS) from American soil is now less than two days away.

The test flight – called the Pad Abort Test – is slated for the early morning hours of Wednesday, May 6, if all goes well. The key facts and a timeline of the test events are outlined herein. [click to continue…]

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A plaque from the three Apollo 13 astronauts thanking the mission support teams.  Note the panels of the caution and warning system above the signatures.  Image Courtesy Jerry Woodfill.

A plaque from the three Apollo 13 astronauts thanking the mission support teams. Note the panels of the caution and warning system above the signatures. Image Courtesy Jerry Woodfill.

To celebrate the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 13 mission, Universe Today is featuring “13 MORE Things That Saved Apollo 13,” discussing different turning points of the mission with NASA engineer Jerry Woodfill.

The air to ground transcript from the time of the explosion on Apollo 13 demonstrates the confusion of what was happening:

Jim Lovell: Houston, we’ve had a problem. We’ve had a MAIN B BUS undervolt.

Capcom: Roger. MAIN B undervolt. Okay, stand by, 13. We’re looking at it.

Fred Haise: Okay. Right now, Houston, the voltage is – is looking good. And we had a pretty large bang associated with the Caution and Warning there.

Lovell then started to name all the Caution and Warning lights that were illuminating, including the Guidance and Navigation light, a computer restart, and indicators that there might be a problem with the oxygen and helium tanks.

The Apollo spacecraft Caution and Warning System had one intended function: alert the astronauts and Mission Control to a potential system failure. Plainly put, the Caution and Warning System allowed the spacecraft to tell the story of what was going wrong.
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What Animals Have Been to Space?


When we think of astronauts, we think of humans. But there have been plenty of animals who have traveled in space as well.
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The Seventh Landing by Michael Carroll.

The Seventh Landing by Michael Carroll.

Can you remember back to your first love? The one that left you in tears, wondering what ever caused such a disaster. Well, that feeling might come back to you if you read Michael Carroll’s “The Seventh Landing.” For you see, this book anticipates the imminent Constellation program of 2009 that was going to return the United States to the Moon and then on to Mars. We know what happened instead and we know a few tears must have been shed, perhaps even yours.

Yes, this book is all about the Constellation program and its Ares I and ARES V launch vehicles. But more than that, and what makes it still applicable today, is that the book really gets into a lunar landing program as the next step in humankind’s expansion off of Earth — and how it’s the logical precursor to the next step: a settlement on Mars.
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Hans Koenigsmann, vice president of Mission Assurance at SpaceX with Jon Cowart, NASA’s CCP partner manager address the press during May 1, 2015  briefing on the Pad Abort Test of SpaceX's Dragon V2 crewed spacecraft.  Credit: Julian Leek

Hans Koenigsmann, vice president of Mission Assurance at SpaceX with Jon Cowart, NASA’s CCP partner manager during May 1, 2015 press briefing on the Pad Abort Test of SpaceX’s Dragon V2 crewed spacecraft. Credit: Julian Leek

SpaceX and NASA are just days away from a crucial test of a crew capsule escape system that will save astronauts lives in the unlikely event of a launch failure with the Falcon 9 rocket.

Buster the Dummy is already strapped into his seat aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon test vehicle for what is called the Pad Abort Test, that is currently slated for Wednesday, May 6. [click to continue…]

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Host: Fraser Cain (@fcain)
Special Guest: Prof. Coel Hellier, Professor of Astrophysics at Keele University, UK, to talk about WASP & SuperWASP.

Guests:
Morgan Rehnberg (cosmicchatter.org / @MorganRehnberg )
Alessondra Springmann (@sondy)
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Carnival of Space #403

Carnival of Space. Image by Jason Major.

Carnival of Space. Image by Jason Major.

This week’s Carnival of Space is hosted by Zain Husain at the Brownspaceman.com blog.

Click here to read Carnival of Space #403.
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SOHO LASCO C2 (top) and SDO AIA 304 (bottom) image of a solar filament detaching on April 28-29, 2015

SOHO LASCO C2 (top) and SDO AIA 304 (bottom) image of a solar filament detaching on April 28-29, 2015

Over the course of April 28–29 a gigantic filament, briefly suspended above the surface* of the Sun, broke off and created an enormous snakelike eruption of plasma that extended millions of miles out into space. The event was both powerful and beautiful, another demonstration of the incredible energy and activity of our home star…and it was all captured on camera by two of our finest Sun-watching spacecraft.

Watch a video of the event below.

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The image shown here is the last one acquired and transmitted back to Earth by the mission. The image is located within the floor of the 93-kilometer-diameter crater Jokai. The spacecraft struck the planet just north of Shakespeare basin.  The image measures 0.6 miles (1 km) across. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

Over and out! This is the final image acquired and transmitted back to Earth by MESSENGER this afternoon, April 30. We’re seeing a small area 0.6 miles (1 km) across on the  floor of the 93-kilometer-diameter crater Jokai. The spacecraft struck the planet just north of Shakespeare basin at the predicted time. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

The planet Mercury has a brand new 52-foot-wide crater. At 3:26 p.m.  EDT this afternoon, NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft bit the Mercurial dust, crashing into the planet’s surface at over 8,700 mph just north of the Shakespeare Basin. Because the impact happened out of sight and communication with the Earth, the MESSENGER team had to wait about 30 minutes after the predicted impact to announce the mission’s end.  [click to continue…]

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Credit and copyright:

A sizzling hot summer Sun. Credit and copyright: Sculptor Lil

Happy May Day Eve!

Maybe May 1st is a major holiday in your world scheme, or perhaps you see it as the release date of Avengers: Age of Ultron.

We’re approximately mid-way between the March equinox and the June solstice this week, as followers of the Gregorian calendar flip the page tomorrow from April to May. Though astronomical spring began back on March 20th for the northern hemisphere, May 1st is right around the time it starts to feel like spring weather for most of the residents of mid- northern latitudes. [click to continue…]

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