New Horizons and Ultima Thule – Two Perspectives

This post is a collaboration with my good friend Bob Wegner, a professional musician, amateur astronomer, and genuinely good person. With the New Horizons spacecraft passing Ultima Thule on New Year’s eve 2019, Bob and I noticed that Queen guitarist and astronomer Brian May was on hand for the live event, playing a newly-written song to mark the event. Bob and I often talk about astronomy, as I’m always interested in his perspective as an enthusiast, while he’s equally interested in my opinion as a professional. We decided to take this event and write about it from two perspectives. For...

Launch . Land . Repeat

I talk a lot about SpaceX.  I write about their exploits, their goals, and their successes and failures.  But they are not the only major player in commercial space flight, not by a long shot.  They have been the most well-known company due to their 1.6 Billion dollar contract for supply missions to the International Space Station, but there is great work being done by others.  The one company that is starting to move into the spotlight is Blue Origin. Another company run by an internet billionaire, in this case Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Blue Origin has similar goals to Elon...

Insight Launch Delayed

The Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) mission, originally set to launch in March of 2016, has been delayed.  It’s not yet clear when it will launch, but it certainly won’t be on schedule for March. The reason for the scrub is that a major science instrument on the lander has been having issues. The French-made Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) requires a vacuum seal around three main sensors to protect them from the Martian environment.  This vacuum seal allows them to detect seismic activity on Mars, and notice any ground movements as small as...

Send Your Name to Mars

The next mission to Mars, called InSight (Interior Exploration Using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport), is slated to launch in Spring of 2016.  It will be the first stationary lander to investigate the internal structure of Mars and search for seismic activity, ie marsquakes!  NASA has always been good at including space enthusiasts in the public in their missions, giving them a human feel, and this mission is no exception.  You can sign up to have your name included on a silicon microchip on the lander! In the first 24 hours, NASA has had 67,000 people sign up, and they expect...

Russian Progress Spacecraft Spins out of Control!

The recent launch of the Russian Progress spacecraft to resupply the International Space Station has entered a fast spin of about 20-30 RPM.  The resupply mission has been aborted and currently mission controllers are focussing on salvaging the craft, attempting to regain control before it`s orbit degrades, sending it into the Earth`s atmosphere where it will burn up. Time will tell if the 3000 lbs of supplies and experiments survive.

SpaceX Releases Awesome Video of Rocket Crash-Landing

Last week, as the Dragon capsule successfully launched for the International Space Station under the watch of Space enthusiasts the world over.  There was also a bit of chatter about a secondary SpaceX goal, to land the Falcon 9 rocket on a floating barge in the Atlantic Ocean as a new method of recovery. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk had tweeted at the time that the landing did not go well, implying a bit of damage to the landing pad.  A few days later, a first picture surfaced of the landing pad showing a bit of charring and a few rocket...

SpaceX Launch: Successful! SpaceX Landing: Needs Work!

Saturday Morning, 4:47am, Launch: Confirmed.  SpaceX launched another successful resupply mission to the International Space Station this morning.  The successful launch comes in the wake of the Orbital Sciences Antares rocket explosion back in late October, and is the fourth mission as part of a 12+ Mission contract with NASA worth 1.6 Billion dollars.  The Dragon capsule is expected to rendezvous with the ISS early Monday morning, where Astronauts will use the Canada arm to grab it and connect. The capsule will remain connected to the ISS for more than four weeks as ISS astronauts unpack supplies and repack completed experiments...

The Launch was a Success! Orion is Up!

After yesterday’s scrubbed launch due to valve issues, the Orion spacecraft has launched on its first full test flight aboard a Delta IV rocket.  This is the first step for humanity to reach beyond the Moon, and the Orion craft will eventually carry astronauts Watching it live and seeing everyone in the space flight community on twitter talking about it and posting pictures really makes you feel like a part of the mission itself.  I feel like I’m there in mission control along with the NASA staff, and having followed the progress of the mission for so long it feels...

Orion Launch is Happening Friday! Make sure you watch it!

It’s finally time for humanity to take the next great leap into the great beyond.  We are natural explorers, and the time to explore a new frontier is now.  Humans will soon go beyond the Moon, and we will venture there on the Orion Capsule, powered by the sails of the Delta IV rocket. You may have seen some of my other posts about it, or an old infographic of the flight procedure. The launch window is opening at 7:05 am EST today!  It will have a 2 hour – 39 minute launch window. But if the weather is clear it...

Orion is Ready for Launch – A bigger step into Space

The Orion vehicle is the successor to the Shuttle program.  Bigger, better, more powerful, advanced technology, and it will take humanity further into the void than we have ever been before. And on December 4th, it will fly for the first time ever. Here are some of the first shots of the Capsule atop the new Delta IV Heavy Rocket, including a shot of the Delta IV rocket in action (with a different payload). The Basics: From NASA (Link) Mission: Orion Flight Test Launch Date: Dec. 4, 2014 Launch Time: 7:05 a.m. EST Launch Window: 2 hours, 39 minutes Launch...