Tuesday, March 30, 2010

This Week In Space

"VSS Enterprise" takes flight and "space for the rest of us" moves a step forward, the Martian Rite of Spring commences while the folks at JPL prep a "rover on steroids" for departure for the Red Planet, the Wizard Nebula is ready for its close-up, Roller Derby on Saturn's rings, Discovery is "go" for launch, orbital Olympics, the crew of STS-134 prepares to go where no one has gone before, and Buzz "Twinkle-Toes" Aldrin wows the judges on "Dancing with the Stars" - or (ahem!) not.

Monday, March 22, 2010

This Week in Space

Astronomers get WISE to a mysterious class of space rocks lurking dangerously near Earth and only visible in the infrared, workers at the Kennedy Space Center race to troubleshoot a valve problem with Discovery in hopes of keeping her on track for launch, a string of comets take a death dive, Jupiter's Great Red Spot gets the thermal imaging treatment, new views of the moons of Mars and Saturn, rover tracks on the moon, Bob Bigelow puts out the all-call for astronauts, the shuttle Enterprise may be old but she's apparently still up for a piggyback ride, shrimp on ice, and a helicopter crash only a dummy could survive.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

It's official, I'm moving to Boston!

Next week, I will be leaving my position with Boeing and trek to Boston to work for the MIT Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, Ma.

Earlier today I read my very first blog post and how I felt my first week here at Kennedy Space Center has not changed to this day. I will definitely miss everyone I've worked with, the awesome launches, and the space program! However, this does not mean I am giving up on my dream in becoming an astronaut. The blog will continue! :)

I still plan on being very active in the community, stay a space advocate, and work towards a PhD. Right now, the direction of our space program is a little up in the air, but I know we'll get back on track. I'm also excited that I found a nearby judo club I am going to join so I can continue the sport.

This endeavor will be exciting and I will be supporting the Engineering Analysis group on various projects. Next week is my last week, but I will definitely be blogging during the move process! Thanks to all for the support up to this point. It really means a lot to me!!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Discovery has a leak!

While attempting to load propellant Friday night, a leak was detected in Discovery's RCS (Reaction Control System) Helium Isolation Value – on the right-hand OMS (Orbital Maneuvering System) fuel system. Further testing and troubleshooting steps are being planned at the launch pad to examine two helium system regulators, which maintain pressure to the fuel tank and are further down the plumbing from the isolation valves.

If the regulators are functioning correctly, which will be tested later this week when the necessary equipment is ready, engineers could determine Discovery can safely fly 'as-is' despite the isolation valve problem.

If a repair or replacement to the valve is required, we would not be able to access it out at the pad...which means...rolling the shuttle back to the Vehicle Assembly Building, demating Discovery from its external fuel tank and solid rocket boosters, then towing Discovery to the Orbiter Processing Facility....AND removing the OMS pod.

Even with the planned testing, the April 5 launch date still stands. It's what comes out of these test results that will determine if we need to roll back the shuttle which would cause a delay.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Congrats, SpaceX!

SpaceX successfully fired the Falcon 9 rocket's nine Merlin engines for 3.5 seconds, completing a key preflight test before the privately-developed booster is cleared for launch in April.

Ground test was one of the final steps before launch of the Falcon 9, which is scheduled for no earlier than April 12. The static fire verified all of the launch pad's ground systems are ready to support the mission. Between now and launch, engineers will install the rocket's flight termination system charges that would destroy the vehicle if it flew off course and threatened the public.

NASA awarded SpaceX a $1.6 billion contract to fly 12 operational Falcon 9 and Dragon missions to the International Space Station beginning in 2011.

SpaceX plans a flight of the Dragon in July, followed by a rendezvous demonstration with the space station in November. But those schedules hinge on a timely and successful Falcon 9 test flight in April.

This Week in Space

"IMAX: Hubble 3D" debuts at the Air and Space Museum...we give it the "red carpet" treatment - checking out the movie, checking in with the astronaut stars, listening to the star who voiced it over - Leonardo DiCaprio, and weighing in with the director and the NASA brass about the wow-factor of the IMAX experience. Also: a Falcon 9 "hot fire" disappoints, the shuttle program manager says "no problem" for shuttle to keep flying, and safely -- it's only a question of money -- and Obama gets ready to speak up for his controversial new plan for NASA...and braces for what promises to be a firestorm of protest at planned April 15 conference on the future of America's space program.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Tour the International Space Station

Currently at KSC.....

Discovery is currently at Launch Pad 39A. Launch of STS-131 is targeted for April 5, 2010 at 6:27 a.m. This past week, the STS-131 astronaut crew went through a mock countdown/dress rehearsal to prepare themselves for their actual launch date operations.

The external tank that will be used for STS-132 (Shuttle Atlantis - targeted launch on May 14, 2010) arrived last week and was transferred to the Vehicle Assembly Building.

You may have heard some talk effecting Endeavour's planned July launch. An issue related to the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-02 payload testing is threatening a delay to STS-134’s slot in the manifest, to the point it may slip behind STS-133, or even as far as 2011 in a worst case scenario. However, no decision will be made on the schedule until after additional testing results and the launch of STS-131 in April. Read more..here.

The next step in ground testing SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket will be a hotfire of the first stage engines. The launch team will ignite the nine Merlin 1C engines for three-and-a-half seconds during the test. Hot fire is targeted for late morning or early afternoon, tomorrow.

Lift-off of the rocket could occur late this month, but more likely early April.

This Week In Space

Florida's Space Coast braces for layoffs, Buzz Aldrin muses on the next steps for NASA and his upcoming stint on "Dancing with the Stars," plus other headlines from This Week In Space.