Archive for 2005

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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By August 15, 2005 Read More →

Discovery to fly home soon

The space shuttle Discovery could fly back “home” to her Florida base by the middle of the week, Nasa is currently making final plans to fly it back from California on a specially modified Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA). Preparing and loading the shuttle has gone ahead of schedule according to Nasa.

The preperation and return flight will cost Nasa upwards of $1,000,000!

Persistent bad weather at Discovery’s intended landing site in Florida forced Nasa to bring it down at Edwards Air Force Base, California, last week.

Nasa officials said this “ferry flight” is now expected to occur no earlier than 16 August, but added that this could change.

After a perfect landing on 9 August, Discovery was towed to Nasa’s Dryden Flight Research Center on Edwards Air Force Base.

There, the shuttle was placed in its Mate-Demate Device, a large gantry-like structure used to service the vehicle and eventually mount it atop the 747 shuttle carrier aircraft (SCA) that will fly it home.

The technicians spent Friday drying the main engines and their associated plumbing to purge them of residual liquids.

They spent the rest of the weekend draining the shuttle’s liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen fuel tanks and removing hazardous monomethyl hydrazine fuel from the shuttle’s propulsion system.

Meanwhile inspections of heat shield tiles, panels and protective blankets that protect the shuttle, are on-going. The section of damaged themal blanket has now been removed for analysis.

Last week, the agency said it was unlikely to complete the fix in time for a scheduled September flight of shuttle Atlantis. I’m not sure if this means that Atlantis will launch without the fix or that the launch will be put back until suitable fix can be made.


(Images: SpacePIX)

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By August 14, 2005 Read More →

MRO Launch third time lucky

After several false starts over the past week NASA’s Multipurpose Mars Mission Successfully Launched on Friday 12th August, leaving two days later than planned due to a potential gyro fault on the 10th August and a software problem on the 11th August.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) rode on top of an Atlas V launch vehicle, 19 stories tall and departed from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Its powerful first stage consumed about 200 tons of fuel and oxygen in just over four minutes, then dropped away to let the upper stage finish the job of putting the spacecraft on a path toward Mars. This was the first launch of an interplanetary mission on an Atlas V.

Mission control were able to establish radio contact with MRO 61 minutes after launch, just 4 minutes after separation from the upper stage of the Atlas V. 10 minutes later the orbiter finished unfolding its solar panels to begin charging her internal batteries.

Mars is 72 million miles from Earth but MRO must travel almost 4 times that distance in order to intercept with Mars. The journey will take about 7 months, arriving in orbit on the 10th March 2006.


(Image credit: Nasa/KSC)

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By August 13, 2005 Read More →

We’re back!

We finally have our main internet connection back up and running. It’s taken about 34 hours for EasyNET to resolve the exchange problems that kicked us offline.

So here we are, back with more meaningless dribble!


Posted in: Site Announcements
By August 12, 2005 Read More →

Terrible ISP!

A big sarcastic thank you to Easy NET.

EasyNET is my ISP. I host my own webserver on site and use EasyNET for the internet connection. I lost my primary internet connection at 6am on Friday 12th August and over 24hrs later the connection has still not been restored.

I’ve had no email and no website in that whole time which is a nightmare for me. I have over 60 people working here with me and, as you would expect with modern business, we rely heavily upon the internet for email communication and information finding.

I understand that things can and do go wrong with technology and its not always easy to resolve but my main complaint with EasyNET has to be the fact that I have had so many stories from them about the problem. I thought I would share a few:

7:45am Friday
EasyNET: We installed some new hardware over night and are just finishing configuring the exchange. The situation will be resolved with the hour.

9:00am Friday
EasyNET: There was a minor fire in the exchange overnight and we are just working to resolve the problems this has caused, connection will be resolved within the next hour.

11:00am Friday
EasyNET: We have an engineer on site. He is just finishing up, any time now.

1:00pm Friday
EasyNET: We need to reboot the exchange. There are about 25 customers in your position but we are unable to reboot the exchange until 6pm.

2:00pm Friday
Call from EasyNET engineer: We are just calling to advise our customers connected to this exchange that we are about to reboot the system. You may be without Internet connectivity for about 15 minutes(!!)
Me: We haven’t had any internet connectivity all day!
EasyNET: Oh well your connection might come back up after the reboot.
Me: What about the fire then?
EasyNET: What fire?

4:00pm Friday
EasyNET: We have broken the exchange and don’t know what’s wrong with it. Call back later and we’ll tell you.

5:00pm Friday
EasyNET: An engineer is on site and will be replacing a card. He will not leave the exchange until the problem is resolved.

6:15pm Friday
EasyNET: The engineer is waiting for a new card to arrive. He is on site and will fit it as soon as the part arrives.

8:00pm Friday
EasyNET: The engineer has fitted the part and is just testing the system. Connection will be restored within the hour.

9:30pm Friday
EasyNET: The engineer has just collected the replacement card from our offices and will be going to site straight away. Internet connectivity will be restored by 11pm.
Me: I was told the engineer had already fitted the new card and had been on site all day!
EasyNET: I can’t see that information anywhere on the system.

11:00pm Friday
EasyNET: The engineer is now working in the exchange

4:00am Saturday
EasyNET: We are waiting for the engineer to collect a replacement card from our offices.
Me: I was told he did that last night and was on site fitting it at 11pm?
EasyNET: I don’t see that on my screen.

7:30am Saturday
EasyNET: The engineer is on his way from Birmingham to London to collect the part that he needs then he will be going to the exchange to fit it. The connection will be fixed by lunchtime today.
Me: I was told the engineer was on site all day yesterday and had the part at 8:00 yesterday and would not leave until the connection was fixed.
EasyNET: I can’t tell you if he was there or not yesterday but he will be there today.


Needless to say the internet connection has not been restored. EasyNET do not know when this will be fixed and will presumably dream up further excuses in the mean time.

I’m sure that EasyNET will give me a big cheque for compensation – YEAH RIGHT!

So I’m temporarily using my home connection to host my blog. If anyone has had the patience to read all this – and I doubt there will be anyone, then I apologise of the page has taken a long time to load!


Posted in: Editorial
By August 11, 2005 Read More →

Launch abandoned today

The launch of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has been scrubbed for today due to a ‘fuel problem’.

Next scheduled attempt is tomorrow morning.


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By August 11, 2005 Read More →

Mars probe given green light

The launch of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) is expected to go ahead as planned today.

The mission’s first launch opportunity window is 11:50 to 13:35 BST, Thursday. If the launch is postponed, additional launch windows open daily at different times each morning throughout August. For trips from Earth to Mars, the planets move into good position for only a short period every 26 months. The best launch position is when Earth is about to overtake Mars in their concentric racing lanes around the Sun.

The probe will investigate the history of water on Mars and hunt for landing sites for future manned missions.

The delay comes one day after Nasa celebrated the successful return to Earth of the space shuttle Discovery.


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By August 10, 2005 Read More →

Time to patch Windows (Again!)

Microsoft is urging Windows users to update their systems with the latest security patches it has released to fix three critical flaws in its software.
The flaws mostly affect Windows 2000 and Internet Explorer. Users with updated Windows Server 2003 and XP systems are not as much at risk.

If left unplugged, they could allow hackers and virus writers to take control of personal computers remotely

Everyone should go to Windows Update and make sure that their computer is fully updated!


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Posted in: Apps & Games
By August 10, 2005 Read More →

Mars probe launch delayed

Todays launch of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has had to be postponed after the discovery of problems with the Atlas V launch rocket.

The launch is now scheduled for tomorrow morning at 1135 GMT from Launch Complex 41, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and is the first government launch of Lockheed Martin’s Atlas V launch vehicle. The orbiter will study Mars to understand the planet’s water riddles and to advance the exploration of the mysterious red planet.

The probe will investigate the history of water on Mars and hunt for landing sites for future manned missions.

The delay comes one day after Nasa celebrated the successful return to Earth of the space shuttle Discovery.

The new Mars orbiter cost over $500m (£280m) to build and is due to arrive in Mars’ orbit in March 2006, for a 25-month mission.


(Image Credit: Nasa/KSC)

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By August 9, 2005 Read More →

Shuttle Fleet Facts!

[color=#6200aa]There have been six shuttles built:[/color]
[color=#6200aa]Enterprise (OV-101)[/color]
[color=#6200aa]Challenger (OV-99)[/color]
[color=#6200aa]Columbia (OV-102)[/color]
[color=#6200aa]Discovery (OV-103)[/color]
[color=#6200aa]Atlantis (OV-104)[/color]
[color=#6200aa]Endeavour (OV-105)[/color]

[color=#6200aa]Enterprise was a test vehicle for the shuttle program and was not intended for space flight. It is on display at Dulles Airport outside Washington, D.C.[/color]

[color=#6200aa]Challenger was also originally built as a test vehicle, known as STA-099, for the shuttle program but in 1979 NASA decided to get her upgraded to become a space-rated orbiter known as OV-099. Her maiden space flight launched on 4th April 1983 on mission STS-6. She was the first shuttle to launch and land at night and the first to carry an American female astronaut. She flew only 9 successful mission before she was lost. On her 10th mission STS-51L an explosion 73 seconds into the flight meant the loss of her and her crew.[/color]

[color=#6200aa]Columbia was the first shuttle to go in to space. Her maiden flight was launched on 12th April 1981, mission STS-1. She was the heaviest shuttle in the fleet and because of this was unable to take part in the construction of the International Space Station. Columbia was also the carrier of the maiden flight for ‘Spacelab’. Columbia successful completed 27 mission before her last mission STS-107 ended in disaster on 1st February 2003 with the loss of her and her crew at re-entry due to damage to her wing which occurred during launch.[/color]

[color=#6200aa]Discovery was the third shuttle to join the fleet and is now the oldest shuttle left in service with her maiden flight on 30th August 1984, mission STS-41D. Discovery has completed the most missions of any of the shuttle at 31, including the successful landing today of mission STS-114. Discovery has twice been the chosen shuttle of NASA for their ‘Return to Flight’ programs, first time was STS-26 in 1988 after the loss of Challenger and again this time after the loss of Columbia with STS-114. [/color]

[color=#6200aa]Atlantis was the forth shuttle to join the fleet with her maiden flight on 3rd October 1985, mission STS-51J with carried a classified payload for the US Department of Defense. Atlantis weighs 151,315 pounds, which is 3.5 tons lighter than Columbia. Atlantis has successfully completed 26 missions and is due to launch on STS-121 later this year (subject to any delays as a result of findings from Discovery’s mission STS-114).[/color]

[color=#6200aa]Endeavour is the most recent shuttle to join the fleet. She was built as a replacement for Challenger and her maiden flight was STS-49, which launched on 7th May 1992. Endeavour has had her weight reduced to minimum to maximise her payload capacity. She has successfully completed 19 mission and was the last successful flight prior to the Columbia disaster with STS-113, which went to the International Space Station. Endeavour started a period of maintenance and modifications in December 2003 to return her to ‘as new’ condition for a safe return to flight.[/color]


(Image: Nasa)

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