Science & Technology

By July 1, 2006 Read More →

No go for weather?

Currently the launch of Discovery STS-121 is a negative due to weather. There are storms in the launch area but the weather conditions must be acceptable at one of the three Transatlantic Abort Landing (TAL) sites to launch. The sites are Zaragoza, Spain; Moron, Spain; or Istres, France. Today’s preferred landing site is in Moron, Spain.

Launch is still technically good and the prefered lift off time is 19:48.41 GMT.

Matt

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By July 1, 2006 Read More →

About 25 minutes to go!

The closeout crew are just leaving the launch tower as we are part way through a 40 minute scheduled hold. The launch window has just been confirmed and is just over four minutes long!

There was an issue earlier on with a shuttle thruster but the issue has been cleared for launch by the Mission Management Team.

Matt

(Image credit: NASA/KSC)

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By July 1, 2006 Read More →

Crew on board

The crew are no on board Discovery ready for the launch of STS-121 and are now conducting air-ground communication checks.

There were some concerns earlier on that the weather could preven a launch but a flight in a Shuttle Training Aircraft by Astronaut Mike Bloomfield will assess the weather during the reat of the launch countdown. There have been some reports of lightening in the area.

Matt

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By July 1, 2006 Read More →

Countdown continues

The ‘Ice team’ are just finishing up their inspection of the vehicle on the pad and the countdown clock is running once again.

The crew a dressing in their space suits and will soon be entering the orbiter.

Matt

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By July 1, 2006 Read More →

Discovery set for Launch

NASA’s Space shuttle Discovery is all set for launch on what will be the second mission since the loss of Columbia.

Mission STS-121 (Discovery’s 32nd flight) should see Discovery launch at around 1549 EDT (1949 GMT) but is dependent on local weather conditions being suitable.

Modifications

NASA have made a number of modifications to the orbiter, the most significant being the changes to the external tank. The Proterberance Air Load Ramps have been removed from the fuel tank as this was the area that foam was previously shed from. Following extensive testing and analysis the PAL Ramps have been deemed unnecessary.

Changes have been made to Discoverie’s heat shield. More than 5000 gap fillers have been replaced and the heat tiles around the front landing gear doors have been replaced with ‘hardened’ tiles as this is a particularly vulnerable area.

Discovery Crew

From the left are astronauts Stephanie D. Wilson, Michael E. Fossum, both mission specialists; Steven W. Lindsey, commander; Piers J. Sellers, mission specialist; Mark E. Kelly, pilot; European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Reiter of Germany; and Lisa M. Nowak, both mission specialists. Image credit: NASA

Matt

(Image credit: NASA/KSC)

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By March 5, 2006 Read More →

Shuttle foam question.

It’s good news that the Shuttle is likely to carry out three missions this year, I’m a big fan of the shuttle programme.

I have one question that perhaps someone can clear up for me:

Is the problem with the insulation foam breaking off the external tank a new one?

Shuttle External Tank

Over the years I have followed the Shuttle missions even when the media deemed space flight routine but its only recently that I heard about the foam problem. I know the ET used to be painted but this was stopped fairly early on as the paint added to the weight. Did the paint add some strength?

I think I heard somewhere that they had to change what the foam was made of. Anyone able to confirm this and why?

Matt

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By September 20, 2005 Read More →

Back to the Moon by 2020

The US space agency Nasa has announced plans to return to the Moon by 2020.
Nasa administrator Dr Michael Griffin said four astronauts would be sent in a new space vehicle, in a project that would cost $104bn (£58bn).

“We will return to the Moon no later than 2020 and extend human presence across the Solar System and beyond,” Dr Griffin said on Monday.

Nasa sent several manned missions to the Moon between 1968 and 1972. A total of 12 men walked on the lunar surface.

Different modules could be launched separately into space then joined together for the journey to lunar orbit.

The new missions would use rocket technology already employed on the space shuttle to cut the costs of development.

Matt

(Source: BBC News)

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By September 9, 2005 Read More →

Xbox 360 ‘Hack Proof’

Microsoft plans to make its next generation games console, the Xbox 360, as difficult as possible to hack.

The 360 will have security built directly into the hardware, said Xbox engineer Chris Satchell.

Fans have modified the first Xbox to turn it into a media centre, upgrade the hard drive or allow it to play imported games.

Modifying a console is illegal in the UK as it can be used to get around anti-piracy measures on the Xbox.

While I don’t condone piracy in any form, I think its a really bad idea for Microsoft to shout about the 360 and it being hack proof. That’s basically asking inviting any would-be hacker to give it a try!

Matt

(Source: BBC News)

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By September 8, 2005 Read More →

Shuttle grouded for a year?

In a recent Memo Nasa warns that there may not be any more shuttle missions for at least a year. This is because of the fuel tank problems and hurricane Katrina. Nasa’s Michoud facility is in New Orleans so has been affected by the recent hurricane as well as the on-going affects.

Matt

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By August 29, 2005 Read More →

Nasa to build on the Moon

Nasa has turned the Hubble Space Telescope to point at the moon to begin lookig for a suitable site to build a ‘Moon Base’.

What Nasa is looking for are sites with a good supply of ilmenite, a mineral from which to extract oxygen, hydrogen and helium. As well as producing air and water, the flammable gases could be burned to generate electricity. Nasa scientists know to look for ilmenite, as it was found in soil samples brought back by the Apollo missions.

Nasa is looking to build a colony on the Moon as soon as 2018. I wonder if they will decide to build on my Lunar Plot? I wonder what rent I could charge!

Matt

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