The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)’s H-IIB rocket launched at 8:26 a.m. EST (10:26 p.m. Japan time) on Friday, Dec. 9 from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan. At the time of launch, the space station was flying about 250 miles over the Philippine Sea south of Japan.
A little more than 15 minutes after launch, the HTV-6 cargo spacecraft successfully separated from the rocket and began its four-day rendezvous with the International Space Station.
On Tuesday, Dec. [...]
The following is a statement from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on the passing of Sen. John Glenn:
“Today, the first American to orbit the Earth, NASA astronaut and Ohio Senator John Glenn, passed away. We mourn this tremendous loss for our nation and the world. As one of NASA's original Mercury 7 astronauts, Glenn's riveting flight aboard Friendship 7 on Feb. 20, 1962, united our nation, launched America to the forefront of the space race, and secured for him a unique place in the ann [...]
South of Antares, in the tail of the nebula-rich constellation Scorpius, lies emission nebula IC 4628. Nearby hot, massive stars, millions of years young, irradiate the nebula with invisible ultraviolet light, stripping electrons from atoms. The electrons eventually recombine with the atoms to produce the visible nebular glow, dominated by the red emission of hydrogen.
At an estimated distance of 6,000 light-years, the region shown is about 250 light-years across, spanning over three full mo [...]
It looks to be months from the time that SpaceX claimed to have solved the problem that caused the vehicle loss of September 1 until the actual return to flight. There are stories to the effect that the delays are to convince others that the vehicle is safe. One problem is that piles of paperwork and man years of investigation is less convincing than a flying vehicle. I don’t know if SpaceX has solved their problem or not and people far more informed than I am don’t know for sure either.
A convincing argument would be several vehicles flying with no other entity worried about insurance or loss of payload. Production of the Falcon IX is supposedly able to support a flight rate much higher than current practice would suggest. But flying empty vehicles for no revenue is an incredible waste.
An orbital depot would sure be a handy bit of hardware to have in place about now. While many of us have suggested at various times that a rocket under development would be ideal for delivering propellant, relatively few have suggested the same thing as a pure confidence builder after a mishap.
If an upper stage had been modified for use as a propellant depot totally owned by SpaceX, it could have launched after the 2015 vehicle loss as a confidence builder and alternate destination in times of over supply of vehicles. Over supply could be both from over production and reused stages. The modified stage depot would not have to be as sophisticated as the ULA ACES as long as it was reasonably useful, and more importantly, in use.
It would seem that SpaceX could have launched a couple of tankers by now to build confidence after the September loss and followed it with revenue flights. Revenue flights sooner rather than later could possibly pay for the marginal cost of the confidence builder tankers. Payroll must be met either way, and little more red ink in one month to avoid several months of slightly less red ink per month could be a sound business decision.
I think most of us are already aware of the benefit of having 40-50 tons of propellant in LEO from the last three flights for use in a major mission to the GLAMs. (GEO, Luna, Asteroids, Mars)
Astronomers have used NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and other telescopes to show that a recently-discovered galaxy is undergoing an extraordinary boom of stellar construction. The galaxy is 12.7 billion light years from Earth, seen at a critical stage in the evolution of galaxies about a billion years after the Big Bang.
After astronomers discovered the galaxy, known as SPT 0346-52, with the National Science Foundation's South Pole Telescope (SPT), they observed it with several space and o [...]
Japan is getting ready to roll out its H-IIB rocket today at the Tanegashima Space Center for a launch Friday at 8:26 a.m. EST to the International Space Station. Riding atop the H-IIB rocket is the Kounotori HTV-6 cargo craft that will take a four-day flight to the station before its capture and installation to the Harmony module Tuesday morning.
Onboard the station, Commander Shane Kimbrough set up gear and ran test runs for the Capillary Flow Experiment-2 today to study how liquids such as [...]
Not a comet, bright spiral galaxy Messier 51 is popularly known as the Whirlpool Galaxy. Just off the handle of the Big Dipper in northern skies, you can spot it at the upper left in this image from December 1st. The pretty 4 by 2.5 degree wide field of view does contain two comets though.
Different in appearance, both comets are new visitors to the inner Solar System and are currently faint telescopic objects, highest above northern horizons in morning twilight. At lower left newly discovere [...]