United Launch Alliance successfully launched the second mission in just seven days with the lift off of an Atlas V rocket carrying the NROL-67 payload for the National Reconnaissance Office. The mission lifted off from Space Launch Complex-41 on schedule on April 10 at 1:45 p.m. EDT. On April 3, ULA launched an Air Force weather satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.
The Morpheus team successfully completed Free Flight 10 (FF10) at the KSC SLF on Wednesday, April 2, 2014. This was the first free flight with ALHAT running in open-loop mode, imaging the Hazard Field and calculating navigation solutions in real time during flight, though not yet navigating the vehicle, i.e., Bravo GNC flew a pre-programmed trajectory as before.
Morpheus ascended to a max altitude of about 804 feet (245m), then flew forward and downward initially at a 30 degree glideslope, then leveling out some, covering a total of about 1334 feet (406.5m) horizontally in 50 seconds while diverting to a landing site location 78 feet (23.8m) from its initial target, before descending and landing on a dedicated landing pad at the front (south) of the ALHAT Hazard Field. The total flight time was ~96 sec, the longest flight to date.
When people in North America look up at the sky in the early morning hours of April 15, they can expect the moon to look a little different. A total lunar eclipse is expected at this time, a phenomenon that occurs when the Earth, moon and sun are in perfect alignment, blanketing the moon in the Earth’s shadow.
Although lunar eclipses happen multiple times in a year during a full moon, this eclipse will be a particularly unusual viewing opportunity for North America. Since the Earth’s Western Hemisphere will be facing the moon during the eclipse, the continent will be in prime position to view it from start to finish. In addition, the eclipse will coincide with nighttime in North America. The entire continent won’t be able to witness a full lunar eclipse in its entirety again until 2019. Full Story, Photos and Video >>
Testing of the Orion spacecraft’s avionics system has concluded at the Lockheed Martin Operations & Checkout facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. After powering on and sending commands to more than 20 different critical systems installed on the spacecraft’s crew module, NASA and Lockheed Martin engineers have verified the avionics for Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1) are ready to support a successful flight and re-entry of the spacecraft. Full Story, Photos and Video >>
A 5-percent scale model of the Space Launch System (SLS) core stage fires up for another round of acoustic testing at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. SLS, NASA’s new rocket, will be the largest, most powerful rocket ever built for deep space missions. The SLS core stage, towering more than 200 feet tall with a diameter of 27.6 feet, will store cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen that will feed the vehicle’s RS-25 engines. The acoustic tests, which began in January, will show how powerful noise from the engines and boosters can impact the rocket and crew, especially at liftoff. Data from the tests will help verify the rocket’s design and help develop an effective suppression system to stifle the sound. The current test series, which began March 20, will be used to determine the noise reduction capabilities of the water suppression system at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Miss. The system will be used for core stage “green run” testing. “Green run” testing ensures all stage and engine parts have been exposed to flight-like environments prior to use on a mission.
NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program has selected 13 space technology payloads for flights on commercial reusable launch vehicles, and a commercial parabolic aircraft. These flights provide cutting-edge technologies with a valuable platform to conduct tests, before they enter use in the harsh environment of space. Full Story, Photos and Video >>
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket successfully launched the Air Force’s Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP-19) payload at 7:46 a.m. PDT today from Space Launch Complex-3. This is the third mission of 15 scheduled for 2014 and the 80th mission since ULA was formed in December 2006.
Continuing their track record for delivering both commercial and civial missions to orbit, Arianespace successfully launched the Sentinel-1A Earth observation satellite for Europe today. Carried onboard a Soyuz rocket from the spaceport in French Guiana, Sentinel-1A blasted off on time at 5:02:26 p.m. EDT to begin a 23-minute ascent into a Sun-synchronous orbit.
In the wake of serious outage on the U.S. Air Force Eastern Range at Cape Canaveral, officials this morning released a few new details into the nature of the problem that took a tracking station out of commission. The loss of the station, due to a short circuit in a critical radar system, consequently forced indefinite delays to two important launches that were scheduled from Cape Canaveral this month.
Orion is marching ever closer to its first trip to space on a flight that will set the stage for human exploration of new destinations in the solar system. Full Story, Photos and Video >>