Saturday, January 24, 2009

Space Shuttle Orbiter Crew Cabin

Yesterday afternoon I was able to sit in the crew cabin of Atlantis. I entered through the mid-deck where the astronauts spend a majority of their time before they get to the ISS as there is a little more space.

During a launch, the flight deck seats the commander (where I happen to be sitting for this picture) and pilot, with two mission specialists behind them. The mid-deck, which is below the flight deck, has three more seats for the rest of the crew members. The galley (or kitchen area), toilet, sleep locations, storage lockers, and the side hatch for entering/exiting the vehicle are also located on the mid-deck, as is the airlock hatch. The airlock has another hatch into the payload bay (bottom picture). It allows two astronauts, wearing their Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) space suits, to depressurize before a space walk.

I had never been in the orbiter's crew cabin, and after I got out, I couldn't wipe the ear-to-ear grin off my face. It was amazing!!! (Thanks for the tour Theo)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Moon Buggy!!!

Before it gets to space, a moon buggy will make history by being the first to boogie along an inaugural parade. NASA will participate in President-elect Barack Obama’s inaugural parade with the crew of the latest shuttle mission and a small pressurized rover that is the current design for a mission to the moon in about 12 years. It will be driven by astronaut Michael Gernhardt. NASA hasn't chosen a final rover design yet, but the one in the parade is the leading prototype at the moment, succeeding wildly on a three-day desert trek in Arizona in October. It is different from the Apollo era open top rovers. It is sealed like a car, allowing two astronauts to sit in it without wearing bulky spacesuits.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Discovery at Pad 39A

Yesterday, Discovery began its rollout at 5:17 a.m. EST to pad 39A. The mobile launch platform was lowered onto the pad pedestals at 12:16 p.m. EST, marking the official time for Discovery's arrival at the pad.

Launch is scheduled for Feb. 12 at 7:32 a.m. EST.

Discovery will launch the $300 million Starboard 6 solar array truss, the fourth and final power module for the international space station. The 15.5-ton girder will be connected to the station's backbone by spacewalking astronauts during the mission.

Led by commander Lee Archambault, the Discovery crew includes pilot Tony Antonelli, mission specialists Joe Acaba, Steve Swanson, Ricky Arnold, John Phillips and station-bound astronaut Koichi Wakata who will remain in orbit to replace Expedition flight engineer Sandy Magnus. She will return to Earth on Discovery after more than three-and-a-half months living on the station.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Preparing for STS-119 Launch

Yesterday, Discovery was towed over to the Vehicle Assembly Buidling in preparations for the next launch on Feb. 12th. In the Vehicle Assembly Building, Discovery will be assembled with the external tank and solid rocket boosters. Launch is currently scheduled for 7:32 A.M EST.