Science & Technology

By August 24, 2005 Read More →

End of Nasa ‘Test Mission’?

Discovery has been successfully de-mated from Nasa’s specially modified Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft and has now been towed into the Orbiter Processing Facility bay 3 where the Multi-Purpose Logistics Module Raffaello, still inside, will be removed from the payload bay and transferred to the Space Station Processing Facility.

What is interesting is that Nasa are now calling this latest mission a ‘Test Mission’. Previously it was called their ‘Return To Flight’ mission. Is this a damage limitation exercise?


(Image credit: NASA/KSC)

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By August 23, 2005 Read More →

Discovery De-mated

Discovery was demated from the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft early Monday morning at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Discovery was towed late Monday afternoon to the nearby Orbiter Processing Facility, where it will be readied for mission STS-121.


(Image credit: NASA/KSC)

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By August 21, 2005 Read More →

Discovery home safe and sound!

Within the last few minutes the Space Shuttle Discovery touched down safely at Kenedy Space Center in Florida.


(Image credit: NASA/KSC)

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By August 20, 2005 Read More →

Discovery’s home coming delayed

The shuttle Discovery has been delayed as it heads home to Florida’s Kennedy Space Center from Edwards Air Force Base in California.
The orbiter is riding piggyback on a modified jumbo jet, more than a week after it landed in the Mojave desert.

The pair arrived in Louisana on Friday for an overnight stop, but bad weather has delayed departure until Sunday.

The 3,591km (2,232 mile) trip is expected to cost the US space agency a hefty $1m (£560,000).


(NASA photo by Carla Thomas)

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By August 19, 2005 Read More →

Discovery heads home

Discovery has taken off from Edwards Air Force Base in Cailifornia. The shuttle is piggy-backed on a specially modified Boeing 747-100 Jumbo. The flight will be just 3 hours as the pair have to stop to refuel Altus Air Force Base in Oklahoma and should continue on to Florida over night, weather permitting.


(Image Credit: Nasa TV)

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By August 19, 2005 Read More →

Discovery will leave Edwards this morning.

The US Space Shuttle Discovery will leave NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California to begin its ferry flight home to Florida at sunrise this morning (about 1300BST).

Difficulties with alignment of the aerodynamic tailcone with the aft end of the Space Shuttle Discovery lead to the dealy of the departure.


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By August 18, 2005 Read More →

No more shuttle launches until March

Nasa has announced that the shuttle fleet will remain grounded until March at the earliest,

Engineers are searching for a solution that will prevent foam being shed from the external tank and striking the orbiter during launch.

Seven members of an oversight panel also say Nasa’s latest shuttle efforts were tainted by some of the problems that caused the Columbia disaster.

Nasa didn’t look in detail at foam shedding from the tank for 113 flights – and shame on us
Dr Mike Griffin, Nasa administrator said.

“From an overall standpoint we think really March 4th is the time frame we are looking at,” said Bill Gerstenmaier, Nasa’s new head of space operations and the official overseeing the foam fix.

Nasa chief Michael Griffin told journalists at a press briefing in Washington that there had been complacency in the agency in the past. But that there was now a new culture at Nasa.

Space shuttle Atlantis was due to blast off in September. But Nasa engineers will now have to make modifications to the shuttle’s external fuel tank, particularly to an area known as the Protuberance Air Load (Pal) ramp.

Discovery will be used for STS-121 instead of Atlantis, putting NASA in a better position for future missions to the Space Station. Atlantis will fly the following mission, STS-115, carrying Space Station truss segments which are too heavy to be carried by Discovery. By changing the lineup, the program won’t have to fly back to back missions with Atlantis, as was previously scheduled.


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By August 17, 2005 Read More →

Discovery due back in Florida on Friday

The final preparations for Discovery’s return flight to Florida are underway at Dryden Flight Research Center in California. The orbiter has been attached to one of NASA’s modified Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft return ferry flight, currently scheduled to depart in the morning Thursday, Aug. 18. The pair could arrive in Florida as early as Friday afternoon.

According to Nasa the post mission inspection of Discovery has revealed very little damage and one Nasa representative even commented that its one cleanest he has ever seen, stating that there were ‘Less than 100 “Dings” in the heat shield and only about 20 were over an inch or so in size’.

100 “Dings” in the heat shield sounds like an awful lot to me!


(Images: Nasa/Tom Tschida)

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By August 16, 2005 Read More →

748 Days in Space!

The record for the most amount of time spent in space have been broken by the Russian cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev. He has clocked up 748 days in orbit as of today.

He beat a previous record of 747 days, 14 hours, 14 minutes and 11 seconds held by fellow Russian Sergei Avdeyev.

Krikalev is currently serving as the commander of the International Space Station (ISS) and will be staying on board until October.

He has also stayed aboard the Mir space station during his 20-year career.

The cosmonaut is serving out a stint on the ISS that began on 14 April. Together with Nasa astronaut John Phillips, he hosted the crew of space shuttle Discovery when they arrived at the station in July.

These guys must be really bored!


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By August 15, 2005 Read More →

Atlantis flight date scrapped

The space shuttle fleet will remain grounded until November at the earliest, Nasa officials have said.

The September launch scheduled for the Shuttle Atlantis has now been canceled while Nasa tries to come up with a way to prevent pieces of foam insulation breaking free from the shuttle’s external fuel tank.

A large foam chunk fatally damaged the Columbia shuttle in 2003, causing it to burn up on re-entry, and smaller pieces were shed during Discovery’s launch.

Solving the problem is likely to be expensive especialy when you consider that the shuttle fleet is due to retire in 2010. Nasa already spent more than $1bn (£552m) on investigating the problem following the Columbia disaster, which killed all seven astronauts on board.

This brings into question whether or not the Shuttle Programme will be scrapped ahead of the 2010 deadline.

I personally hope that Nasa do continue to fly the Shuttle, it would be a shame to see the programme end on such a low note. I would imagine that this problem has existed for sometime but its only now that technology has existed where launches can be more closely monitored. How about wrapping the ET in Duct Tape?


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