BOEING ANNOUNCES TEAM TO FLY STARLINER SPACE CAPSULE
by Chris Ferguson Published on August 3, 2018
Chris Ferguson, Boeing director of Starliner Crew and Mission Systems and a former NASA astronaut and Space Shuttle commander wears the brand new spacesuit from Boeing and David Clark that crews will wear on Starliner missions to the ISS. Credit: Boeing
I have BIG news.
When I retired as a Space Shuttle Commander from NASA in 2011, I was certain that my spaceflight days had come to a close. Last week Boeing announced that they will give me one more spaceflight opportunity as the official test pilot for the inaugural flight of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft.
But I will not be making this journey alone.
It’s my honor to introduce you to the four truly amazing American astronauts NASA has selected as Starliner crew members.
The astronauts and I will be flying in the groundbreaking Starliner spacecraft – a product I have been personally involved in helping to develop the last few years with my team at Boeing.
Watch U.S. Fly will keep you updated us as we embark on the journey of a lifetime to the International Space Station on America’s newest crewed spacecraft.
We'll probably see more and more of this as NASA embraces private companies for space exploration.
SpaceX Protests NASA Launch Contract Award
By Jeff Foust, Spaceflight February 15, 2019
WASHINGTON — SpaceX has filed a protest over the award of a launch contract to United Launch Alliance for a NASA planetary science mission, claiming it could carry out the mission for significantly less money.
The protest, filed with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) Feb. 11, is regarding a NASA procurement formally known as RLSP-35. That contract is for the launch of the Lucy mission to the Trojan asteroids of Jupiter, awarded by NASA to ULA Jan. 31 at a total cost to the agency of $148.3 million.
The GAO documents did not disclose additional information about the protest, other than the office has until May 22 to render a decision. NASA said that, as a result of the protest, it’s halted work on the ULA contract.
"NASA has issued a stop work order on the agency's Lucy mission after a protest of the contract award was filed with the Government Accountability Office," agency spokesperson Tracy Young said Feb. 13. "NASA is always cognizant of its mission schedule, but we are not able to comment on pending litigation."
SpaceX confirmed that the company was protesting the contract. "Since SpaceX has started launching missions for NASA, this is the first time the company has challenged one of the agency's award decisions," a company spokesperson said in a statement to SpaceNews.
"SpaceX offered a solution with extraordinarily high confidence of mission success at a price dramatically lower than the award amount, so we believe the decision to pay vastly more to Boeing and Lockheed for the same mission was therefore not in the best interest of the agency or the American taxpayers," the spokesperson added. ULA is a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
NASA said at the time of the award that it was a competitive procurement, but did not disclose the number or identity of bidders. SpaceX did not comment at that time if it submitted a bid, although industry sources, speaking on background, said that SpaceX proposed launching the mission on a fully expendable Falcon 9 rocket in order to maximize performance.
A key factor in the decision to award the contract to ULA was schedule certainty. Lucy has a complex mission profile with a series of flybys in order to visit several asteroids either leading or following Jupiter in its orbit around the sun. That results in a launch window that is open for only about 20 days in October 2021. Should the launch miss that window, the mission cannot be flown as currently planned.
ULA emphasized its adherence to schedule in its announcement of the contract. "This mission has a once-in-a-lifetime planetary launch window, and Atlas V's world-leading schedule certainty, coupled with our reliability and performance provided the optimal vehicle for this mission," Tory Bruno, president and chief executive of ULA, said in a Jan. 31 statement about the launch award.
"ULA entered into an open competition for NASA's Lucy spacecraft and was honored to be awarded this important science mission," ULA said in a Feb. 13 statement to SpaceNews. "This interplanetary mission has an extremely narrow launch window in order to reach all of the desired planetary bodies and accomplish the science objectives. If Lucy misses this launch window, the full mission cannot be accomplished for decades.
The $8.9 billion James Webb Space Telescope may be the last big-budget observatory that NASA launches for a while.
The White House's proposed 2020 budget cancels the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), a $3.2 billion space mission viewed as a linchpin of astrophysics research through the 2020s and beyond.
And that budget keeps NASA's astrophysics funding so low over the coming years that the agency won't be able to develop another ambitious, big-ticket "flagship" observatory for the foreseeable future, experts say.
"If that budget is really the budget, there are not going to be future flagships," said David Spergel, a Princeton University theoretical astrophysicist, who co-chairs the WFIRST science team.
"We will have JWST — a wonderful observatory — and that's it," said Jon Morse, who led NASA's Astrophysics Division from 2007 to 2011. He now serves as CEO of the BoldlyGo Institute, a nonprofit devoted to developing space-science missions. JWST, billed as the successor to NASA's iconic Hubble Space Telescope, is currently scheduled to lift off in May 2021, after multiple delays and significant cost overruns.
A bleak budget for astrophysics The 2020 federal budget proposal, which the White House unveiled last week, allocates $21 billion to NASA — about $500 million less than the space agency is getting this year.
The agency's science funding was particularly hard-hit, dipping from $6.9 billion this year to $6.3 billion in 2020. Much of the decrease comes in astrophysics, which drops from $1.19 billion to $845 million. (That doesn't count the $353 million allocated next year to JWST, which has its own funding line.)
Astrophysics funding stays relatively flat in the proposed "out years," ranging from $902 million to $965 million between 2021 and 2024.
That's not nearly enough money to maintain a diverse and balanced research portfolio that includes small, medium-class and flagship missions, Morse said.
"By design, in this budget request, you can't fit a multibillion-dollar observatory into the remaining budget," he told Space.com. "That's why they canceled WFIRST — they took away the money. There's no money to execute a mission that costs $3 billion over seven or eight years."
Restoring the flagship capability would require, at a minimum, bumping the 2020 astrophysics budget up by $400 million — the amount "saved" with the cancellation of WFIRST, Morse said.
A powerful space observatory WFIRST was pegged as the highest-priority large space mission in the 2010 astronomy/astrophysics decadal survey. Decadal surveys, which are put together every 10 years by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, serve as research roadmaps for government agencies such as NASA; their recommendations are usually followed.
WFIRST remains on budget and on schedule for its planned 2024 launch, Spergel said. The observatory features a main mirror 7.9 feet (2.4 meters) wide, the same size as Hubble's. But WFIRST will have a field of view 100 times greater than that of Hubble. WFIRST will have two science instruments, which will allow the observatory to perform a variety of groundbreaking astronomical investigations. For example, astronomers will use WFIRST to characterize dark energy — the mysterious force behind the universe's accelerating expansion — as never before, discover thousands of exoplanets and image some alien worlds directly. The widely surveying WFIRST was also specifically designed to complement JWST, which will investigate narrower slices of sky more deeply, Morse said.
So, axing WFIRST would deal a serious blow to astronomy, astrophysics and the scientific enterprise as a whole, he added. And the step back from big and bold space telescopes that WFIRST's cancellation seems to portend would also threaten the United States' position as a space-science leader, both he and Spergel said.
"If we stop doing astrophysics flagships, we stop leading," Spergel told Space.com.
That's because flagships tend to be incredibly productive and influential. Think about Hubble, which launched to Earth orbit in April 1990. The contributions of that famous space telescope are too numerous to rattle off here, but they include helping astronomers discover dark energy and bringing the beauty and mystery of the universe to lay people around the world with the most gorgeous cosmic photos ever taken.
Hubble is still going strong, but it's been showing some signs of age recently. NASA's other operational flagship-class space telescope, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, is also getting long in the tooth; it launched in 1999.
Everyone hopes that JWST will conduct great science for many years to come. But there are no guarantees in that regard, and a bare flagship cupboard after JWST's 2021 launch is a depressing prospect for both Spergel and Morse.
Morse invoked the current high-energy-physics landscape as a cautionary tale.
The United States had a chance to cement itself as a particle-physics leader for decades to come in the 1990s with the construction of the Superconducting Super Collider (SSC) in Texas. But funding for that project was pulled, and Europe ended up taking the mantle in 2010 with the completion of the Large Hadron Collider (which, though extremely capable, is far smaller and less powerful than the SSC was going to be).
"Is that where we're headed with astrophysics after launching JWST?" Morse said.
Not set in stone But there is still hope for WFIRST, and for future flagships that may follow in its footsteps. The 2020 federal budget request is just that, after all — a request. An enacted budget must have congressional approval, and Congress has stood up for WFIRST before.
Indeed, the White House cut the mission in its 2019 budget request as well, but Congress stepped in and restored funding. Both Spergel and Morse would love to see history repeat itself.
"Congress has had strong bipartisan support for astrophysics," Spergel said. "I'm hopeful these cuts in astrophysics will be overturned."
SpaceX continues to amaze in popularizing space exploration. Not only is it doing fantastic work in reaching and exploring space, shown by its efforts to transport supplies and astronauts to the International Space Station, it also flaunts retro exhibitions that capture the interest of people worldwide. Recently, Elon Musk — the CEO of SpaceX — released images and information on what he calls the "Starship" Hopper test rocket.
The prototype hopper was recently constructed in a project that will hopefully be used to help colonize Mars. Anyone who follows Musk will know that he is a keen advocate of going to Mars, and with scientists and engineers urging everyone to get behind an exploration mission that can take us to a whole new frontier, it is now becoming more of a reality than a dream. Starship and its huge first-stage booster, Super Heavy — which together were formerly known as the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) — could be the vehicles to undertake this important task. In order for Starship and Super Heavy to be successful, there are many things to take into account, and a lot of power needs to be exerted.
This is not just another 384,400-kilometer (238,855 miles) mission to the moon. This is going to be a journey more than 140 times longer. This means that there needs to be enough food, supplies and protection from the harmful radiation of space in order to survive this journey, and even then there’s the question of how much fuel is needed to break free of Earth’s gravity and make it Mars.
These are the reasons why a voyage to Mars is a struggle. But nothing good ever comes easy. SpaceX has shown extremely promising signs of improved space exploration with the introduction of reusable rockets, and now Musk has released the first images of the Starship prototype that will soon undergo short "hopping" excursions to test its feasibility. These vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) tests will hover up to 5 kilometers (3 miles) above the ground before landing back on Earth. The hopper prototype towers at a height of about 39 meters (128 feet) and has a diameter of 9 meters (30 feet), with a stainless-steel exterior starting at its pointy tip to its three rear "fins" that serve as its legs as it stands on the ground.
Starship looks strikingly like something out of a 1950s science-fiction comic book, and that’s because it was modelled after one. Again, anyone who follows Musk will also know that he is a huge fan of cultural references in his SpaceX work. Back in February 2018, Musk tested the Falcon Heavy, in the process launching one of his sister company’s Tesla cars into an orbit around the sun. Inside the Tesla was Starman, a human-scale mannequin with SpaceX’s spacesuit, given its name after the 1972 hit song by David Bowie.
In the case of Starship, the rocket was inspired by the 1954 adventure of comic-book hero Tintin in "Explorers on the Moon." Although Starship doesn’t have the red-and-white checkered appearance of Tintin's rocket, everything else is remarkably similar. This inspiration was confirmed by Musk at an event in September 2018, which he followed up by saying: "If in doubt, go with Tintin." Musk tweeted a picture of the prototype sitting at one of SpaceX’s factories near Boca Chica Village in Texas.
Starship and Super Heavy will both utilize the powerful Raptor engine that SpaceX is still working on. It has been suggested that in June 2019 SpaceX will create the orbital prototype of Starship and connect it to the Super Heavy booster for improved testing.
This project is sure to be an extremely exciting one to follow. Musk has outlined his ambitions to conduct two unmanned cargo missions to Mars by 2022, followed by a crewed trip around the moon and back as early as 2023; this latter mission will carry 43-year-old Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa. Then, by 2024, SpaceX could be ready to conduct crewed missions to Mars. This will provide the platform for creating settlements on Mars, and science fiction will become a firm reality. After that, the possibilities are endless. Could Mars be the answer to problems on Earth?
My wife and I will be at the Kennedy Space Center for this launch. Let's hope it goes!
SpaceX's mighty Falcon Heavy launch set for April 7 from Kennedy Space Center, FAA says
Chabeli Herrera , Contact Reporter, Orlando Sentinel March 29, 2019
A Falcon 9 SpaceX heavy rocket lifts off from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018. The Falcon Heavy, has three first-stage boosters, strapped together with 27 engines in all. (Red Huber/Orlando Sentinel via AP) (Red Huber / AP)
The mighty Falcon Heavy rocket is returning to the Space Coast for its first commercial launch.
The Federal Aviation Administration set a launch hazard area for the SpaceX launch this week, noting that the launch is currently set for April 7, with a backup launch on April 9. The launch window is from 6:36 p.m. to 8:35 p.m., according to Spaceflight Now, from Kennedy Space Center’s launch pad 39A.
Falcon Heavy, SpaceX’s heavy-lift rocket composed of three boosters strapped together, had its debut flight in February 2018 from the Space Coast. Thousands of people flocked to the Cape to see the most powerful rocket since the Saturn V, which took astronauts to the moon.
The payload then was a red Tesla Roadster carrying a mannequin named “Starman.”
The crowd cheers at Playalinda Beach in the Canaveral National Seashore, just north of the Kennedy Space Center, during the launch of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket, Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018.
The upcoming launch will be carrying the Arabsat-6A communications satellite for Saudi Arabia’s Arabsat. The satellite will provide communications coverage primarily to the Middle East and North Africa regions, with a footprint in South Africa, the FAA said in its advisory.
According to the FAA, the side boosters will land at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Landing Zone 1 while the center core booster will land on SpaceX’s droneship, likely Of Course I Still Love You, in the Atlantic Ocean off Florida.
We are not only trashing Earth; we are trashing space.
India anti-satellite missile test a 'terrible thing,' NASA chief says
By Helen Regan, CNN Updated 1356 GMT April 2, 2019
(CNN)India's anti-satellite missile test created at least 400 pieces of orbital debris, the head of NASA says -- placing the International Space Station (ISS) and its astronauts at risk.
NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said Monday that just 60 pieces of debris were large enough to track. Of those, 24 went above the apogee of the ISS, the point of the space station's orbit farthest from the Earth.
"That is a terrible, terrible thing to create an event that sends debris at an apogee that goes above the International Space Station," Bridenstine said in a live-streamed NASA town hall meeting. "That kind of activity is not compatible with the future of human spaceflight."
He added: "It is not acceptable for us to allow people to create orbital debris fields that put at risk our people."
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on March 27 that the country had achieved a "historic feat" by shooting down its own low-orbit satellite with a ground-to-space missile.
Only three other countries -- the US, Russia and China -- have anti-satellite missile capabilities.
India's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that the test was conducted in "the lower atmosphere to ensure that there is no space debris," and "whatever debris that is generated will decay and fall back onto the Earth within weeks."
But Bridenstine said the Indian test had increased the risk of small debris hitting the ISS by 44% over the 10 days immediately afterward.
"It's unacceptable, and NASA needs to be very clear about what its impact to us is," he added.
"We are charged with enabling more activities in space than we've ever seen before for the purpose of benefiting the human condition, whether it's pharmaceuticals or printing human organs in 3-D to save lives here on Earth, or manufacturing capabilities in space that you're not able to do in a gravity well.
"All of those are placed at risk when these kind of events happen — and when one country does it, then other countries feel like they have to do it as well."
NASA is tracking 23,000 pieces of orbital debris 10 centimeters (almost 4 inches) or bigger.
A third of all debris cataloged by NASA was created in 2007, when China conducted an anti-satellite test, and in 2009 when American and Russian communications satellites collided.
However Bridenstine said India's test was conducted low enough that "over time, this (debris) will all dissipate," with the ISS and all astronauts on board safe.
And we have CONFIRMATION that Falcon Heavy's static fire test has slipped to tomorrow, Friday, 5 April. Test window is 10:00-19:00 EDT (1400-2300 UTC). Launch date is slipping, too. Will not be Sunday. SpaceX will confirm a new launch date once Static Fire is complete.
Sigh.... Now it's not until Tuesday night! I won't be able to stay for launch!
Manufactured by Lockheed Martin for the Saudi Arabian Arab Satellite Communications Organization, Arabsat 6A will be positioned in geostationary orbit providing television, internet, telephone and secure communications, to customers in the Middle East, Africa and Europe.
The launch date is currently targeted for Tuesday, April 9, 2019 at 10:36 PM.
On launch day, check back here for the live stream! (if available)
Provider SpaceX Vehicle Falcon Heavy Launch Date Tuesday, April 9, 2019 Launch Time 06:36 PM (UTC-4) Launch Time (Pad) 05:36 PM (UTC-5) Location LC-39A Kennedy Space Center Florida, United States
• Feel the Heat Launch Viewing at the at the Banana Creek Viewing Area adjacent to the Apollo/Saturn V Center, approximately 3.9 miles/6.27 kilometers from launch pad--$195.00
• Feel the Fun Launch Viewing at Atlantis North Lawn, approximately 7.5 miles/12 kilometers from launch pad with minimal visual obstructions--$115.00
• Main Visitor Complex Launch Viewing, approximately 7.5 miles/12 kilometers from launch pad--$75.00
Please note: No other forms of visitor complex admission will be accepted for this launch, including previously purchased daily admission. Be sure to visit the SpaceX Falcon Heavy Arabsat 6A web page for all of the most up-to-date information ahead of the launch. Launch viewing packages for SpaceX Arabsat 6A apply to this mission only. All launch viewing packages are non-refundable.
Last Edit: Apr 8, 2019 18:01:19 GMT -6 by swamprat
The Next Launch Attempt for Falcon Heavy SpaceX Falcon Heavy Arabsat 6A has been postponed. The next attempt is scheduled for April 11, 2019 at 6:35 PM EDT.
Due to the special nature and high demand of this launch, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex remains open to only guests with a Falcon Heavy launch viewing package. No other tickets will be redeemable on the day of the launch including annual passes, employee complimentary tickets, vouchers and any pre-paid admission tickets.
Successful launch! Both outside boosters have landed successfully at the Space Center! The middle booster has landed successfuly on the boat. Current speed of the capsule is 26,722 kilometers per hour. Current altitude is 165 kilometers.
skywalker: Very funny, ghost boy
Jun 3, 2018 14:58:58 GMT -6
lois: Casper he should come fix mine. Mine is doomed
Jun 26, 2018 21:54:27 GMT -6
spotless38: Iam back after a long break . What a couple of years I had . After what had happened I lost my brother and had to bury him and then I had caught that type A flue and I was a very sick puppy I also needed blood for the loss of it .
Jul 7, 2018 13:30:41 GMT -6
lois: Very Happy to see you Ron. Missed you. Glad you are doing better now. Sorry for your lost. I did not know your brother had passed. hugs lois
Jul 10, 2018 0:52:45 GMT -6
paulette: Ron - hope you've hit a quiet spot. Sorry for your loss.
Aug 3, 2018 10:49:30 GMT -6
lois: I picked up my phone a few days ago and I looked at the name of the caller. Boy was I surprise. It has been a couple of years. So good to hear your voice Ron. Hope you make it a habit again. love and hugs .
Aug 15, 2018 23:21:38 GMT -6
leia77: Spotless, I am glad that you are feeling better and welcome back! I too am back from a long time away...
Aug 31, 2018 2:08:32 GMT -6
jcurio: I am much relieved to see that you have been on here, Spotless! I hope that things are going much better for you now
Sept 19, 2018 16:46:42 GMT -6
jcurio: And Lois, And Lorelei!
Sept 19, 2018 16:47:07 GMT -6
casper: And Meeeeeee!!
Oct 16, 2018 18:41:31 GMT -6
lois: Sorry guys I cannot see the print. On is tiny hand computer
Oct 21, 2018 20:42:09 GMT -6
lois: Casper your page stops at page five in 2016
Nov 15, 2018 23:54:01 GMT -6
lois: How did your Halloween night go this year?
Nov 15, 2018 23:54:58 GMT -6
skywalker: He posted on the Halloween thread this year.
Nov 25, 2018 18:33:36 GMT -6
lois: Oh ok Sky I will check it out. Thanks.
Dec 21, 2018 21:45:31 GMT -6
lois: What topic was it under.
Dec 21, 2018 21:51:07 GMT -6