I saw this Whole Foods recipe a long time ago in Fitness Magazine. It's perfect healthy calcium and veggie packed...
I saw this Whole Foods recipe a long time ago in Fitness Magazine. It's perfect healthy calcium and veggie packed treat during the Halloween season for mamas-to-be. pumpkin_smoothie.jpgYou'll need:
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin (I'd use organic)
  • 1 cup organic milk
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/3 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2/3 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup ice
  • Whipped cream and cinnamon as a topping (if you'd like to get fancy)
To make: Blend everything except the ice until smooth. Add ice. Blend more, until thick and creamy. Garnish with your whipped cream and cinnamon. This makes 4 decent sized servings. Kids love this too. If you've got a toddler try this as a healthy alternative to ice cream. Enjoy!

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Tags: halloween drink healthy mama drink pregnancy drink pregnancy smoothie pumpkin smoothie veggie smoothie


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Posted: September 28, 2005T-0:00:05.5Engine startThe Rocketdyne RS-68 main engine begins to ignite as the liquid hydrogen fuel valve is opened, creating a large fireball at the base of the rocket. The engine powers up to full throttle for a computer-controlled checkout before liftoff.T-00:00.0LiftoffThe rocket's two strap-on solid rocket motors are lit, the four hold-down bolts are released and the Delta 4 lifts off from Vandenberg SLC-6 pad. The pad's two swing arms retract at T-0 seconds.T+00:58.3Max-QThe vehicle experiences the region of maximum dynamic pressure. Both solid motors and the RS-68 liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine continue to fire as the vehicle heads downrange, arcing over the Pacific along a 154-degree flight azimuth.T+01:35.0Solid motor burnoutHaving used up all their solid-propellant, the two strap-on boosters experience burnout. 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The targeted orbit is 601 by 20,308 nautical miles with an inclination of 62.4 degrees.T+50:04.5Begin spin-upThe next step in preparing for deployment of the payload is gently spinning up the stage like a top to 5 rpm.T+54:14.5Spacecraft separationThe classified spacecraft for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office is released from the Delta 4 rocket, completing the first West Coast Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle mission.Data source: BoeingApollo patchesThe Apollo Patch Collection: Includes all 12 Apollo mission patches plus the Apollo Program Patch. Save over 20% off the Individual price.Choose your store: - - - STS-134 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Endeavour is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-134. Available in our store!Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is now available in our store. 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As such, the timeline beyond the point of payload fairing jettison is not available. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Delta launches COSMO 2 Posted: December 9, 2007The United Launch Alliance Delta 2 rocket fires away from Space Launch Complex 2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base for its successful flight carrying the COSMO 2 radar imaging satellite.Photo credit: Thom Baur/Boeing Photo credit: Thom Baur/BoeingAres 1-X PatchThe official embroidered patch for the Ares 1-X rocket test flight, is available for purchase.Apollo CollageThis beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.Expedition 21The official embroidered patch for the International Space Station Expedition 21 crew is now available from our stores.Hubble PatchThe official embroidered patch for mission STS-125, the space shuttle's last planned service call to the Hubble Space Telescope, is available for purchase. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Delta launches COSMO 3 Posted: October 25, 2008The United Launch Alliance Delta 2 rocket lifted off at 7:28 p.m. local time Friday night from Vandenberg Air Force Base carrying Italy's COSMO-SkyMed 3 radar imaging satellite. 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Photo credit: Thom Baur Ares 1-X PatchThe official embroidered patch for the Ares 1-X rocket test flight, is available for purchase.Apollo CollageThis beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.Expedition 21The official embroidered patch for the International Space Station Expedition 21 crew is now available from our stores.Hubble PatchThe official embroidered patch for mission STS-125, the space shuttle's last planned service call to the Hubble Space Telescope, is available for purchase. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Delta ready to launch Jason 2 Posted: June 19, 2008In preparation for flying the United Launch Alliance Delta 2 rocket with the Jason 2 oceanography satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base on Friday morning, June 20, this collection of images shows photographers setting up their sound-activated cameras around the launch pad and the early evening rollback of the mobile service tower in the final hours of the countdown.Photo credit: Spaceflight Now Photo credit: Chris Miller/Spaceflight Now Photo credit: Justin Ray/Spaceflight Now Photo credit: Chris Miller/Spaceflight Now Photo credit: Chris Miller/Spaceflight Now Photo credit: Justin Ray/Spaceflight Now Photo credit: Justin Ray/Spaceflight Now Photo credit: Chris Miller/Spaceflight Now | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Delta ready to launch Posted: September 18, 2007The ULA Delta 2 rocket stands atop Space Launch Complex 2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base for its flight carrying the WorldView 1 commercial Earth-imaging satellite. 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Photo credit: Carleton Bailie/United Launch Alliance Photo credit: Carleton Bailie/United Launch Alliance Photo credit: Carleton Bailie/United Launch Alliance Photo credit: Carleton Bailie/United Launch Alliance Photo credit: Joe Davila/U.S. Air Force Photo credit: Gene Blevins/LA Daily News Photo credit: Carleton Bailie/United Launch Alliance Photo credit: Carleton Bailie/United Launch Alliance Photo credit: Joe Davila/U.S. Air Force Photo credit: Carleton Bailie/United Launch Alliance Photo credit: Carleton Bailie/United Launch Alliance Photo credit: Carleton Bailie/United Launch Alliance Photo credit: Carleton Bailie/United Launch Alliance Photo credit: Joe Davila/U.S. Air Force Photo credit: Joe Davila/U.S. Air Force Photo credit: Gene Blevins/LA Daily News Photo credit: Gene Blevins/LA Daily News | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Delta rocket puts on late-night show with GPS launch SPACEFLIGHT NOWPosted: November 6, 2004After a nerve-racking stay on its Cape Canaveral launch pad with uncomfortably close encounters by two powerful hurricanes, a Boeing Delta 2 rocket finally thundered into space today where it successfully deployed a Global Positioning System satellite to aid U.S. military forces around the world. The Delta 2 rocket ignites on pad 17B. Photo: Carleton Bailie/BoeingThe 126-foot tall blue and white rocket departed pad 17B at 12:39 a.m. EST (0539 GMT), briefly turning the Florida nighttime into day with a blinding light.Twenty-five minutes later, the Lockheed Martin-built GPS 2R-13 spacecraft was released from the rocket's third stage, marking the 61st consecutive successful Delta 2 mission in seven years."Deploying this GPS satellite will improve the constellation, and consequently our war fighting capability, as we continue to combat global terrorism," said Lt. Col. L.C. Coffey, the Air Force launch director."America relies heavily on space and missile forces for its national defense. Military leaders can destroy a target with one GPS-guided bomb that took an average of 648 bombs to destroy in World War II," added Col. Mark Owen, 45th Space Wing commander at Cape Canaveral and Patrick Air Force Base. "This satellite will join a constellation that is playing a stellar role in ensuring U.S. war fighters have the tools needed to continue to fight and win today and in the years ahead."Video coverage for subscribers only:VIDEO:DELTA ROCKET LIFTS OFF WITH GPS 2R-13 VIDEO:LONGER CLIP SHOWING THE NIGHTTIME ASCENT VIDEO:ALARM STOPS FRIDAY MORNING'S COUNTDOWN But getting this replacement GPS satellite in Earth orbit wasn't easy thanks to Mother Nature and technical snags along the way. The mission was supposed to fly six weeks ago, but Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne halted pre-launch activities as workers evacuated the Cape and then required significant inspections and testing after the storms to ensure the rocket was unharmed.The Delta vehicle operated as advertised this morning, providing the ultimate proof that flying debris swirling around launch pad during the hurricanes caused no damage to the exposed rocket."I'm extremely proud of this team's sharp focus on mission success even while dealing with the chaos, property losses and personal disruptions brought about by the unusually severe hurricane season," said Col. Al Ballenger, system program director in the GPS Joint Program Office at Los Angeles Air Force Base.Today's launch was the first from Cape Canaveral since the extraordinary back-to-back hurricanes in September.The $45 million GPS satellite will be maneuvered into the orbiting constellation during the coming weeks. Once checked out by ground controllers, the craft will replace the oldest GPS satellite currently serving in one of the network's primary positions.GPS 2R-13 will assume the Plane D, Slot 1 position, taking over for the GPS 2A-11 craft launched in July 1991. The aging satellite is relying on its last remaining clock after functioning well beyond its seven-year design life. An artist's concept shows a GPS Block 2R satellite orbiting Earth. Credit: Lockheed MartinGPS satellites send continuous navigation signals that allow users around the world to find their position in latitude, longitude and altitude and determine time. The signals are so accurate that time can be figured to less than a millionth of a second, velocity to within a fraction of a mile per hour and location to within a few feet.The GPS constellation features 24 primary and several backup satellites split into six orbital planes. The Air Force continues to launch new satellites as replacements to keep the critical navigation system in good health."The mean age of all of the satellite I have up there today is actually exceeding the original design life of all of the satellites. So we feel it is important to continue our launch campaign over the next several years to ensure that we never allow the capability to drop below the 24 satellites in the constellation," Ballenger said."Our commitment has traditionally been to ensure a 95 percent confidence that we are always going to have 24 satellites in our constellation. More importantly, it's 24 satellites in the right slots in the constellation." This time-lapse image shows the Delta 2 rocket streaking to space as seen from the Cape Canaveral press site. Photo: Carleton Bailie/BoeingThe Air Force examines the fleet in deciding which orbital slot to target a new satellite launch."We look at the whole constellation and which satellites are in which slots and also what the impact would be of a particular satellite if it failed," Ballenger said."We'll also want to be in a position to minimize the impact of a single satellite failing. Each satellite on-orbit goes around the Earth twice a day. So relative to any point on the globe, the satellites are always moving across the sky. For one the receivers to really give the best navigation solution, it wants to be able to see as many satellites as possible. Depending on where you are on the globe, we have models that look at the constellation and where a particular failure might be and we figure out where it could do the most damage. So that is the slot, plane that we target to make sure we are going to keep it updated."As older craft begin to show signs of wear, controllers carefully monitor each satellite to prevent one from failing before it can be disposed."We are getting pretty good at predicting about how much life is left in each one," Ballenger said."One of the things we really don't want to allow to happen is to let one of the satellites fail in such a way that is becomes uncontrollable or that it becomes space junk before we have the opportunity to boost it out of the operational orbit and get out of the way of the rest of the constellation. So we carefully look at each one of those and we'll make an assessment on which ones really have outlived their useful life." The Delta 2 rocket stands on pad 17B at sunset Friday as the countdown entered its final hours. Photo: Carleton Bailie/BoeingToday's launch was the 52nd for a GPS satellite and the 41st carried on a Delta 2 rocket. It marked the 13th in the Block 2R series and the last of the current configuration."With the successful launch of GPS 2R-13, the world-wide navigation system for both military and civil users is more robust than ever," said Dave Podlesney, GPS 2R program director at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. "We take great pride in our partnership with the Air Force in carrying out the important mission of the GPS system and look forward to providing significantly improved positioning capabilities as we transition to the modernized fleet of 2R spacecraft."Starting with the next satellite, now slated for liftoff in May, the craft will be upgraded to include two new military signals and a second civilian signal."These improvements will provide greater accuracy, better resistance to interference and enhance performance for all users. 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The Delta 2 rocket ignites to launch GPS 2R-12. Photo: Carleton Bailie/BoeingDismal weather conditions at Cape Canaveral thwarted countdowns on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. After taking Tuesday off, the launch team geared up for a fourth attempt Wednesday despite a bleak forecast.But by mid-day optimism began to build, as the daily afternoon thunderstorms experienced earlier in the week weren't as widespread. With two hours left before launch time, the Mother Nature gave definite signs she would cooperate.The rocket was fueled up and put through final testing while the launch countdown progressed smoothly at launch pad 17B. The pad's umbilical tower featured a sign reading "Launch One For 'The Gipper'" in remembrance of President Reagan. The 40th president of the United States passed away June 5.With the weather declared "go," it was time to fly. At T-minus 2 seconds, a Boeing technician pushed the button to ignite the rocket's main engine. Six solid rocket boosters mounted to the first stage lit when clocks reached zero, enveloping the pad within a vast cloud of smoke and steam.Lifting off at 6:54 p.m. EDT (2254 GMT), the Delta 2 rocket quickly darted into clear skies. Topped with the GPS 2R-12 spacecraft, the three-stage rocket took a southeasterly track above the Atlantic Ocean to deliver the $45 million satellite cargo into the proper orbit stretching from 11,000 miles at its highest point to 101 miles at its lowest and inclined 39 degrees to the equator. The launch pad umbilical tower featured a sign remembering President Ronald Reagan. Photo: Carleton Bailie/BoeingThe 4,500-pound satellite was deployed from the Delta third stage 25 minutes after liftoff while flying high above the Central Atlantic.A kick motor attached to the satellite will be used later to circularize the orbit at 11,000 miles and raise the inclination to 55 degrees so the satellite can fly over more of the planet's surface. Once controllers check out the Lockheed Martin-built craft, it will join the GPS constellation and replace an ailing satellite.The GPS network features 24 primary satellites separated into six orbital planes with four spacecraft in each. The system currently has four backup satellites for a total of 28 craft working to provide U.S. military forces around the world with precision navigation information that helps guide aircraft, ships, troops and even bombs.Controllers will maneuver the GPS 2R-12 satellite into the Plane F, Slot 4 position of the constellation. That slot is currently held by the GPS 2A-16 satellite, which was launched on November 22, 1992 and has long surpassed its design life. Air Force program officials say GPS 2A-16 "is aging and clock performance is degrading." GPS 2A-16 is expected to be repositioned in the same orbital plane, making it a backup satellite for the remainder of its life, officials said. An artist's concept shows a GPS Block 2R satellite orbiting Earth. Credit: Lockheed MartinGPS satellites send continuous navigation signals that allow users around the world to find their position in latitude, longitude and altitude and determine time. The signals are so accurate that time can be figured to less than a millionth of a second, velocity to within a fraction of a mile per hour and location to within a few feet. Wednesday's launch was the 51st GPS satellite to launch and the 40th carried on a Delta 2 rocket.It marked the second of three routine GPS replacement missions scheduled in 2004. The GPS 2R-11 craft was successfully into orbit on March 20, and the next mission is slated for liftoff from Cape Canaveral on September 22. For Boeing's workhorse Delta 2 fleet, Wednesday's flight was the 111th successful launch out of 113 since 1989 and extended to 58 the string of consecutive successes dating back to 1997. It was the third Delta 2 launch in 2004.The next Delta 2 flight will occur from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California no sooner than July 10 when NASA's Aura atmospheric research satellite is carried into polar orbit. The Delta 2 rocket thunders skyward Wednesday. Photo: Carleton Bailie/BoeingCape Canaveral's pad 17B will undergo a quick refurbishment over the next week so workers can begin erecting the stages of a Delta 2-Heavy rocket that will launch NASA's MESSENGER probe.MESSENGER has a 15-day launch window beginning July 30 that would send the spacecraft on its 7-year, looping trajectory to the solar system's innermost planet before becoming the first probe to orbit Mercury in March 2011. If the orbiter misses its planetary launch opportunity that closes August 13, the mission must wait until the next launch window in July 2005. NASA was anxious to see the GPS 2R-12 mission launched because it was impacting MESSENGER's pre-flight schedule.In addition to the weather problems that delayed the GPS launch the past few days, a series of technical issues had already postponed the liftoff since June 4. The slips have used up the slack in MESSENGER's schedule, leaving no time to spare in assembling its rocket on the pad. "We've been looking at the schedule. 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Available in our store!Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is now available in our store. Get this piece of history!Apollo CollageThis beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.STS-133 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Discovery is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-133. Available in our store!Anniversary Shuttle PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This embroidered patch commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program. The design features the space shuttle Columbia's historic maiden flight of April 12, 1981.Mercury anniversaryFree shipping to U.S. addresses!Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alan Shephard's historic Mercury mission with this collectors' item, the official commemorative embroidered patch.Ferryflight Shuttle PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!"The Final Mission" - NASA emblem developed for the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft crew and their support teams to deliver the orbiters to their final destinations at museums. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Delta's late-night launchlofts new GPS satellite SPACEFLIGHT NOWPosted: March 15, 2008Using one of its final Delta 2 rockets, the U.S. Air Force continued a year-long launch surge of new Global Positioning System satellites with a successful blastoff from Cape Canaveral over the weekend. Credit: Carleton Bailie/ULASEE PRE-LAUNCH IMAGES "About six months ago we began a challenging task of getting five modernized GPS satellites to orbit in less than a year. I'm pleased to say we're right on course," said Col. Jim Planeaux, Delta Group commander.A smooth countdown, interrupted only briefly by a passing rainshower that delayed fueling a few minutes, led to the Delta 2 rocket thundering away from its Florida launch site Saturday at 2:10 a.m. EDT (0610 GMT).The $75 million GPS 2R-19 spacecraft rode the three-stage rocket into a preliminary orbit stretching 11,000 miles at its highest point and 100 miles at its lowest, then separated from the booster 68 minutes after liftoff while flying over the western Pacific."Tonight's outstanding mission is the end result of a focused Delta 2 and GPS team executing a textbook launch campaign," Planeaux said.Launches of GPS satellites had become less frequent in the past couple of years, but that changed when the ongoing surge started in October with the liftoff of the GPS 2R-17 spacecraft, followed in December by GPS 2R-18.Faced with a projection that several of the aging satellites in the orbiting navigation network could soon fail, military officials last year ordered the remaining five current-generation GPS satellites be launched to replace the older craft."We looked at this last year. Our staffs told us there was a potential for up to 9 (satellites) to fail on-orbit based on life of the vehicles -- most of these vehicles are 14, 15, 16 years old," said Col. Dave Madden, Global Positioning Systems Wing commander."That's what drove us down this path of trying to get these five launched in one year."Since controllers have not experienced numerous failures of the aging satellites in recent months, the replacement launches are allowing the Air Force to put into service the new craft with their enhanced features and shift the old craft into backup roles as in-space spares to get the last bit of use out of the satellites."Each time we launch one of these new satellites, the overall accuracy of the system goes up," Madden said."We're hoping to build up our spare capacity and enable a stronger constellation." Credit: Stephen Clark/Spaceflight NowSEE MORE LAUNCH IMAGES Going into Saturday's launch, the GPS constellation included 31 operational satellites and one spare. The system is capped at 31 operational craft in service at any one time."We can't transmit any more than that without fear of affecting user equipment across the world," Madden said. "We've been doing a lot of testing to figure out how high that number can go. But right now we know that 31 is as far as we can go. So we will maintain the strongest 31 (satellites) we have on-orbit and the other ones will be put into a spare capacity just in case we have to take a vehicle offline."That means when the GPS 2R-19 satellite completes testing and enters service in a few weeks the 15-year-old craft it is replacing will become the constellation's second available backup. Launched in September 1992 with a seven-year design life, the GPS 2A-15 satellite will give way to the new 2R-19 craft in the constellation's Plane A, Slot 4 position."We look forward to conducting another timely and efficient on-orbit checkout so that the warfighter and civil users around the globe can benefit from this satellite's advanced navigational capabilities as quickly as possible," said Don DeGryse, Lockheed Martin's vice president of Navigation Systems.The orbiting network emits continuous navigation signals that allow users to find their position in latitude, longitude and altitude and determine time. The satellite launched Saturday is the sixth in a series of eight that include modernized features. The upgraded satellites transmit additional signals and are equipped with improvements aimed at greater accuracy, tougher resistance to interference and enhanced performance for users around the world. The new civilian signal removes navigation errors caused by the Earth's ionosphere. The military advancements will provide a more robust jam-resistant signal and enable better targeting of GPS-guided weapons in hostile environments. "The GPS constellation is being modernized to improve operations, sustainment, and overall performance of GPS services for the warfighter, international, commercial and civil users. Theseimproved capabilities ensure GPS remains the gold standard for positioning, navigation and timing service," Madden said.Two more modernized satellites in the Lockheed Martin-built Block 2R series are waiting for flight. Those launches -- currently targeted for June 30 and Sept. 11 -- will use the Air Force's final two Delta 2 rockets in inventory. Credit: Chris Miller/Spaceflight NowSEE MORE LAUNCH IMAGES "We're currently in pretty much nominal flow processing those launches. For the boosters, most of the hardware is still at the factory but will ship in plenty of time to begin integration at the launch site. (It's) looking like nominal campaigns with the usual margin we have. So we're confident we'll meet those schedules," Planeaux said.The Air Force hopes to perform both of its remaining Delta 2 rocket launches before the government's fiscal year ends Sept. 30."We budgeted to launch them this year and it always works best when you execute your program milestones in the year that you budgeted for them. But that's not a show-stopper. It's harder to get money in the next fiscal year, but it's not something that will cause any great issue with getting the launches off," Planeaux said."There is no hard deadline...We'll launch these missions when we're ready."The satellite slated to be GPS 2R-21 has been delivered to the Cape while 2R-20 remains at its manufacturing plant being outfitted with a new civilian signal demonstration payload before its shipment to Florida in early April, Madden said.Beginning in early 2009, the next-generation GPS 2F satellites built by Boeing are scheduled to start launching. Those craft will rely on Atlas 5 and Delta 4 rockets for the ride to orbit.Additional coverage for subscribers:VIDEO:THE DELTA 2 ROCKET BLASTS OFF WITH GPS 2R-19 VIDEO:GPS SATELLITE ANIMATION Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is now available in our store. Get this piece of history!STS-134 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Endeavour is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-134. Available in our store!Ares 1-X PatchThe official embroidered patch for the Ares 1-X rocket test flight, is available for purchase.Apollo CollageThis beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.Project OrionThe Orion crew exploration vehicle is NASA's first new human spacecraft developed since the space shuttle a quarter-century earlier. The capsule is one of the key elements of returning astronauts to the Moon.Fallen Heroes Patch CollectionThe official patches from Apollo 1, the shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews are available in the store. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Delta/WISE launch timelineSPACEFLIGHT NOW
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Posted: December 3, 2009 The dual-purpose assembly gantry and mobile shelter was retracted from the Delta 4 rocket a little after 8 a.m. EST on December 3 during countdown preparations to launch the Delta 4 rocket and the U.S. military's third Wideband Global SATCOM spacecraft.Photo credit: Pat Corkery/United Launch Alliance Photo credit: Pat Corkery/United Launch Alliance | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Delta 4 rocket ready for mission for U.S. military SPACEFLIGHT NOWPosted: December 1, 2009 An artist's concept shows the WGS satellite in orbit. Credit: BoeingA hotrod version of the Delta 4 rocket, souped up with extra solid-fueled boosters, takes its first trip into space Wednesday evening on a mission for the U.S. military.The United Launch Alliance-built vehicle will perform a 40-minute flight to supersynchronous transfer orbit for deployment of the Air Force's third Wideband Global SATCOM communications spacecraft, known as WGS 3. WGS satellites are giving a major upgrade to the military's main communications infrastructure, replacing the aging Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS) spacecraft. Each WGS has 10 times the capacity of a DSCS satellite, allowing users to process and receive data quicker than ever before. "The WGS 3 satellite has gone through a very rigorous test program to ensure that the satellite has been designed and tested and will perform as intended on-orbit," said Mark Spiwak, the WGS program director for satellite-builder Boeing."We are very proud to be providing this awesome capability to the warfighter in partnership with the United States Air Force and are looking forward to a great launch."WGS 1 entered service last year to cover the vast Pacific Command that spans the U.S. western coast all the way to Southeast Asia. The WGS 2 satellite launched earlier this year was placed into operation over the Indian Ocean for use by U.S. Central Command to provide coverage for the warfighters in Afghanistan, Iraq and other parts of Southwest Asia.The new WGS 3 satellite will be positioned above the Eastern Atlantic at an orbital slot of 12 degrees West longitude for U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command, plus lend additional support over the Middle East."WGS 3 is the next step in deploying Wideband Global SATCOM to augment and eventually replace the legacy Defense Satellite Communications System, or DSCS, which has been the Department of Defense's backbone for satellite communications over the last three decades," said Col. Bill Harding, vice commander, Military Satellite Communications Systems Wing."WGS 3 is slated for operations over EUCOM and AFRICOM and will provide an order of magnitude increase in military communications bandwidth for Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines."Following this week's launch, it will be maneuvered into a circular geostationary orbit 22,300 miles above the planet where it can match the Earth's rotation and appear parked over one area of the globe. On-orbit testing is scheduled to last a few months, enabling the craft to begin full use next April.The WGS spacecraft are constructed around Boeing's powerhouse 702-model design used by commercial satellite operators. But within the WGS craft are Ka- and X-band military communications packages to serve forces stationed around the globe. The WGS craft offer X-band communications, like the venerable DSCS satellites, to relay data, photos and video to troops on the battlefield. What's new on WGS is Ka-band communications. Officials describe the extra frequency as a way of serving up large amounts of information for reception by U.S. and allied forces across a wide area. The first two WGS satellites were hauled into space aboard Atlas 5 rockets. But WGS 3 will ride atop the Delta 4, the other rocket in the Air Force's Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle fleet.The WGS 3 spacecraft, weighing about 6.5 tons, will need a hefty version of the Delta 4 to reach its targeted orbit. That rocket configuration is known as the Medium+ (5,4).Not yet flown before, this version of the Delta is distinguished by a five-meter payload shroud and four solid rocket boosters. Previous Medium+ rockets have flown with the smaller four-meter nose cone and only two solid motors."The fact that this is the first 5,4 configuration means that there are several 'new parts' of the vehicle," the Air Force's Launch and Range Systems Wing says."The five-meter, 47-foot-long composite payload fairing is a first flight item, as well as the four solid rocket motor configuration, two of which are thrust vector controlled, and two are fixed nozzle. For added support, we also use the X-brace within the Common Booster Core."The cryogenic main engine and all four solids will be ignited on the launch pad, rapidly accelerating the 217-foot-tall rocket into the nighttime sky. The strap-on motors fire for 94 seconds, then burn out and separate from the first stage about 22 nautical miles up.The RS-68 engine continues its firing through the initial four minutes of flight by consuming liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. Shortly before the first stage's burn concludes, having already climbed beyond the edge of space, the nose shroud covering the satellite will be jettisoned at an altitude of 68 nautical miles.After the first stage separates 100 nautical miles over the ocean, the upper stage's cryogenic RL10B-2 powerplant will ignite for a 16-minute firing that propels the vehicle into an elliptical parking orbit of 100 by 3,714 nautical miles and inclined 25.59 degrees to the equator.The rocket will coast in that temporary orbit only briefly as it nears the western coast of Africa. The engine is restarted to burn for three more minutes that sends WGS 3 toward its egg-shaped transfer orbit looping from 237 nautical miles at its closest point with Earth to 36,167 nautical miles at the farthest point and inclined 24 degrees.The payload separates from the launcher 40 minutes and 32 seconds after liftoff while soaring away from the planet over the Indian Ocean.This launch will mark the 11th for the Delta 4 family of rockets since 2002.STS-134 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Endeavour is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-134. Available in our store!Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is now available in our store. Get this piece of history!Apollo CollageThis beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.STS-133 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Discovery is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-133. Available in our store!Anniversary Shuttle PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This embroidered patch commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program. The design features the space shuttle Columbia's historic maiden flight of April 12, 1981.Mercury anniversaryFree shipping to U.S. addresses!Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alan Shephard's historic Mercury mission with this collectors' item, the official commemorative embroidered patch. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Delta 4 rocket rolls out to bolster GPS constellation SPACEFLIGHT NOWPosted: August 19, 2012 The Delta 4 rocket that will launch in October for the direct benefit of the world's population using the Global Positioning System was stacked on its Cape Canaveral pad last week. File image of rocket rollout. Credit: Justin Ray/Spaceflight NowThe United Launch Alliance-made vehicle is targeting an Oct. 4 blastoff to deploy the GPS 2F-3 navigation satellite, replacing a 19-year-old craft in the orbiting constellation that serves billions of military and civilan users across the planet.Liftoff will be possible during a morning launch window extending from 8:10 to 8:29 a.m. EDT (1210-1229 GMT).Riding horizontal aboard a 36-wheel, diesel-powered transporter, the bright orange and white rocket, stretching 170 feet long, emerged from the assembly hangar and took the brief trip down the road and up the pad's ramp to the Florida spaceport's Complex 37.Initial assembly of the rocket, including mating of the cryogenic upper stage with the Common Booster Core first stage using a precision laser alignment system, had been completed inside the Horizontal Integration Facility over the past couple of months.After the vehicle arrived at the base of the pad, technicians went to work getting equipment ready to raise the rocket vertically. The erector system and its hydraulic pistons then lifted the rocket upright and set the vehicle atop the pad's launch table.Later in the week, two solid-fueled strap-on boosters were mounted to the first stage to provide additional thrust at liftoff. The rocket will be flying in the Medium+(4,2) configuration.The satellite payload was shipped to the Cape from Boeing's production factory in Los Angeles aboard a C-17 on July 9 to begin its own preparations for launch, including final testing, fueling and encapsulation in the rocket's nose cone. It will be hauled to the pad and hoisted atop the Delta 4 next month.This will be the third satellite in the Block 2F series of GPS spacecraft with improved accuracy, enhanced internal atomic clocks, better anti-jam resistance, a civil signal for commercial aviation and a longer design life. Boeing is building a dozen craft to upgrade the constellation's foundation over the coming years. A GPS 2F satellite is pictured at the manufacturing facility. Credit: BoeingKnown as the GPS 2F-3 satellite, this newest spacecraft will take the place of the GPS 2A-21 bird that was launched by a Delta 2 rocket on June 26, 1993 and began its remarkably long-lasting service life on July 21, 1993.Given its advanced age, controllers have targeted it for replacement with this launch into the Plane A, Slot 1 position of the constellation. But the old craft won't be retired immediately, instead moving into an auxiliary role within the A-Plane of the network.GPS satellites orbit about 11,000 nautical miles above the planet and emit continuous navigation signals that allow users to find their location in latitude, longitude and altitude and determine time. The constellation features six orbital planes with multiple satellites flying in each.The first two Block 2F birds were launched by Delta 4 rockets in May 2010 and July 2011. The latest spacecraft should be operational about 30 days after liftoff."As each 2F satellite becomes operational, we continue the seamless transformation of the GPS constellation into an even more accurate, reliable and durable navigation resource for the U.S. military and the global civilian user community," said Craig Cooning, vice president and general manager of Boeing Space & Intelligence Systems. "Our efficient pulse-line manufacturing process, adapted from Boeing's commercial airplane production lines, also ensures that we deliver each spacecraft on time and on cost."Today's GPS fleet is comprised of 31 satellites, including 10 Block 2A's made by Boeing, 12 Block 2R's and seven 2R-Modernized spacecraft built by Lockheed Martin, and Boeing's two Block 2F vehicles."The GPS constellation remains healthy, stable and robust with 31-operational satellites on-orbit providing precise position, navigation and timing information to users worldwide," an Air Force spokesperson said.STS-134 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Endeavour is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-134. Available in our store!Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is now available in our store. Get this piece of history!Apollo CollageThis beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.STS-133 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Discovery is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-133. Available in our store!Anniversary Shuttle PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This embroidered patch commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program. The design features the space shuttle Columbia's historic maiden flight of April 12, 1981.Mercury anniversaryFree shipping to U.S. addresses!Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alan Shephard's historic Mercury mission with this collectors' item, the official commemorative embroidered patch. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Delta 4 rocket soars on Defense Department mission SPACEFLIGHT NOWPosted: January 20, 2012 A new Air Force satellite headed for service over the Middle East to route essential communications to U.S. military forces and improve data links to unmanned aerial drones was successfully launched from Cape Canaveral last night.The launch as seen from Complex 37 pond. Credit: Justin Ray/Spaceflight NowThe Wideband Global SATCOM 4 spacecraft, better known as WGS 4, rode a United Launch Alliance Delta 4 rocket away from the Florida spaceport's pad 37B at 7:38 p.m. EST (0038 GMT) on a 40-minute ascent to supersynchronous orbit.Liftoff occurred at the opening minute of a launch window set months in advance. Valued at $464 million, the 6.5-ton satellite will enhance military communications over a turbulent portion of the globe when it commences broadcasting duties in a few months.Dropped off into a highly-elliptical, preliminary orbit by the Delta 4 rocket, the satellite's conventional bi-propellant chemical main engine will execute four apogee and four perigee firings through early February before beginning 40 days of final orbit circularization maneuvers with its xenon-ion propulsion thrusters to reach geosynchronous perch 22,300 miles above Earth in March.Once its appendages are fully unfurled in space, the craft's solar-power wings will span 134 feet.In-orbit testing with the military's Camp Roberts facility in California will occur from mid-March through mid-April. Boeing will control the craft's initial flying until handover to the Air Force at the end of April. From there, the spacecraft will drift to the operational location over the Indian Ocean to receive final acceptance into the WGS constellation and enter service this summer.The Air Force says it plans to put this WGS 4 spacecraft's coverage footprint over the Middle East and Southeast Asia for use by U.S. Central Command and U.S. Pacific Command."WGS provides critical operation and situational awareness information to the warfighter," said Dave Madden, director of the Military Satellite Communications Systems Directorate at the Air Force's Space and Missile Systems Center. "I want to thank Boeing and the work they have done to give us a first-class quality satellite that's going to be a critical add to our constellation."WGS 4 starts an enhanced "block" of satellites with improved bandwidth for communications to the military's remote-controlled drones known for their stealthy and undercover operations in global hotspots. The vehicles can carry cameras, radar sensors and detectors to sniff out uranium and radioactive material."The UAVs and moving large amounts of data around is a major requirement that drove us to do the upgrade, which is giving us the significantly more bandwidth and capacity," said Madden.Once slid into its orbital home high above the Indian Ocean, the satellite will join the expanding fleet of Wideband Global SATCOM communications satellites that form the Pentagon's worldwide communications backbone across all branches of the military."WGS is the DOD's highest capacity communications satellite system. These satellites provide tremendous operational flexibility to deliver the needed capacity, coverage and connectivity in support of demanding operational scenarios," said Mark Spiwak, the WGS program director for satellite-builder Boeing.An artist's concept of WGS spotbeams. Credit: BoeingThe craft's communications package provides shaped, steerable spotbeams of bandwidth wherever requested across its field-of-view for Ka- and X-band frequencies, plus the onboard capability to switch signals from one band to the other."It does that by using a channelizer, which is kind of the heart of the satellite which is able to convert the frequencies from X-to-Ka or X-to-X or Ka-to-Ka, and that provides a certain bandwidth availability and a number of channels associated with that," Spiwak said.But the new Block 2 satellites, beginning with WGS 4, come with a bypass feature for unmanned aerial drone communications to skip the crossbanding path and use two uplink and two downlink channels that offer three times the bandwidth as the normal channels, opening up a much bigger pipeline for data to flow.That increased capacity will directly help the military's remotely-controlled unmanned drone programs, which are used for surveillance, intelligence-gathering and offensive operations."So why is that good? That's good because as the Global Hawks, the Reapers, the Predators, all of the AISR platforms, as they are converting to their different terminals, obviously the more bandwidth is good for them, and you can lock on to one or several Global Hawks, multiple Reapers and Predators, and the more bandwidth allows the operators to pump more data through. You've got that wider pipe on two uplink and two downlink channels," Spiwak said."That's kind of the main change (for Block 2). It still has all of the X-band flexibility, Ka-band flexibility that the first three have, but this has these extra, larger pipes that you can really pump a lot of data through."An artist's concept of WGS antenna arrangement. Credit: BoeingThree WGS spacecraft are operating in geosynchronous orbit today, and The Boeing Co. has four more in production at its El Segundo factory in Los Angeles and will soon start working on two additional craft being ordered -- WGS 9 and 10. The craft are built upon the company's powerhouse 702-model design. was launched in October 2007 to cover the vast U.S. Pacific Command that stretches from the U.S. western coast all the way to Southeast Asia. satellite followed with an April 2009 launch to serve U.S. Central Command and the forces in Afghanistan, Iraq and other parts of Southwest Asia. went up in December 2009 to cover U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command, plus lend additional support over the Middle East."Three Block 1 satellites are currently on-orbit, providing critical communication links to DOD and allied forces worldwide," said Spiwak.For over four decades, the Defense Satellite Communications System was the foundation for flowing secure information to military forces around the globe. But that heritage system is being phased out as the aging craft retire and the new WGS satellites ascend to orbit to take advantage of new technology.The final DSCS craft was launched by a Delta 4 rocket in 2003. ()There's still 8 DSCS satellites in service today."We will use 'em up till the very last minute because the DSCS's are still providing significant capability as well," said Madden.Each WGS bird possesses 10 times the capacity of a single DSCS satellite and offers 19 coverage areas with its steerable antennas versus 8 under the heritage craft.The X-band communications through DSCS and WGS allow data, photos and video to be relayed to troops on the battlefield. But WGS also brings Ka-band to the table for high-volume broadcasting to user terminals across the reception area.A key advancement that WGS brings is an internal box called a digital channelizer that enables a user with a Ka-band terminal to seamlessly connect to someone with an X-band terminal, or vice versa.The data transmission rates range from 2.1 to 3.6 Gbps."Everyday WGS helps save and improve the lives of users worldwide. This launch (is) another important step in advancing these capabilities," said Spiwak.The 217-foot-tall Delta 4 carrying WGS 4 flew in the Medium+(5,4) configuration, which is the most powerful of the Medium-version rockets and below only the triple-core Heavy in the modular family's lineup.WGS is one of the satellite programs that's interchangeable between ULA's Atlas and Delta rocket families. The first two WGS satellites went up on Atlas, and now the subsequent two have flown on Delta. The Delta 4 rocket awaits launch. Credit: Justin Ray/Spaceflight Now"WGS was the first constellation of satellites to launch on both Delta 4 and Atlas 5 vehicles since the formation of ULA. We're honored to have worked closely with our Air Force partners in integrating and launching these important WGS satellites," said Jim Sponnick, United Launch Alliance vice president of mission operations."Our ability to integrate and launch satellites successfully and efficiently on two launch systems to provide operational flexibility was a primary reason that ULA was formed."The Medium+(5,4) features a five-meter-diameter upper stage loaded with more cryogenic propellants than the optional four-meter motor used for other launches, such as GPS missions. The rocket also has a full set of four solid-fuel boosters strapped to the first stage, double the number used for GPS and other lower-weight payloads.The first stage is powered by the RS-68 hydrogen-fed main engine and the upper stage has the RL10B-2 engine, the powerplants used on all 18 Delta 4 missions to date.It was the first rocket launch from Cape Canaveral of the new year and begins the Delta 4 rocket's 2012 that is dedicated to military service with as many as five flights scheduled from both Florida and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California to deploy WGS, GPS and classified National Reconnaissance Office spacecraft.Additional coverage for subscribers:VIDEO:WGS 4 BLASTS OFF ABOARD DELTA 4 VIDEO:DELTA 4 ROCKET LAUNCHES WITH WGS 3 VIDEO:ATLAS 5 ROCKET LAUNCHES WITH WGS 2 VIDEO:LAUNCH PREPARATIONS VIDEO:WGS 1 LAUNCH SEEN FROM PRESS SITE VIDEO:PRE-LAUNCH NEWS CONFERENCE Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is now available in our store. Get this piece of history!STS-134 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Endeavour is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-134. Available in our store!Ares 1-X PatchThe official embroidered patch for the Ares 1-X rocket test flight, is available for purchase.Apollo CollageThis beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.Project OrionThe Orion crew exploration vehicle is NASA's first new human spacecraft developed since the space shuttle a quarter-century earlier. The capsule is one of the key elements of returning astronauts to the Moon.Fallen Heroes Patch CollectionThe official patches from Apollo 1, the shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews are available in the store. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Delta 4 rocket launches GOES P satellite The United Launch Alliance Delta 4 rocket blasts off March 4 at 6:57 p.m. EST carrying the GOES P geostationary weather observatory.Credit: NASA-KSCCredit: Carleton Bailie for The Boeing CompanyCredit: Carleton Bailie for The Boeing CompanyCredit: NASA-KSCCredit: NASA-KSCCredit: NASA-KSCCredit: Carleton Bailie for The Boeing CompanyCredit: NASA-KSCCredit: NASA-KSCCredit: NASA-KSCCredit: NASA-KSCCredit: NASA-KSCCredit: NASA-KSCCredit: NASA-KSCCredit: NASA-KSC | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Delta 4 rocket successfully lofts surveillance satellite SPACEFLIGHT NOWPosted: April 4, 2012 A Delta 4 rocket made a thunderous departure from California on Tuesday afternoon, only to slip into a news blackout minutes later while it climbed higher and faster to deploy a classified spy satellite, a success-defining milestone that was confirmed by hobbyist observers.The Delta 4 soars from Space Launch Complex 6. Credit: Pat Corkery/ULAThe United Launch Alliance-made booster roared away from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 4:12:57 p.m. local (7:12:57 p.m. EDT; 2312:57 GMT) on a southwesterly course to reach a retrograde orbit inclined 123 degrees relative to the equator.A pair of strap-on solid boosters burned out 90 seconds later, then peeled away as the liquid hydrogen-fueled main engine continued to accelerate the 21-story rocket over the open Pacific.When the 47-foot-long nose cone was jettisoned three-and-a-half minutes into flight, the now-standard veil of secrecy fell over the mission to halt any further live updates about staging or burns by the upper stage engine to inject the satellite into space.The hush-hush nature for the rest of flight is all part of launching covert payloads for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office, the secretive agency that operates the country's fleet of spy satellites. The NRO does not disclose the purpose of its spacecraft being sent up on each launch, saying only that the flight was called the NROL-25 mission.But a band of precise satellite-tracking specialists linked together by their hobby and the Internet was poised to look for the newest object in the sky, adding the spacecraft to their catalog.Given the rocket's unusual trajectory to the southwest, analysts were certain the satellite was the second in a new generation of radar-imaging surveillance craft used by the NRO. The first launch in the series took the same path from Vandenberg aboard an Atlas 5 rocket in September 2010.And right on cue, the new spacecraft flew overhead Tuesday night exactly where the observers expected it to be."Today's successful launch is a tribute to the hard work and ingenuity of our government and contractor team and I am very proud of them. After the six successful launches last year, our 50th anniversary year, we proved tonight we can continue that hitting streak as we work to deliver superior vigilance from above for the nation," said Col. James D. Fisher, director of the NRO's Office of Space Launch.The NRO has three more launches slated for this year, including an Atlas 5 and Delta 4-Heavy from Cape Canaveral in late June and another Atlas 5 from the West Coast in early August.This was the maiden mission for the Delta 4 Medium+ (5,2) configured rocket, the last of the family's five members to take flight. It used previously-proven elements of the vehicle like the five-meter upper stage and twin boosters to assemble this particular version to carry the given size and weight of the payload."Congratulations to the NRO and to all the mission partners involved in this critical national security launch," said ULA Missions Operations Vice President Jim Sponnick. "ULA is proud to have supported this mission and delivered critical capabilities to the men and women defending our freedom throughout the world."Radar satellites offer all-weather, day-and-night imaging for reconnoitering global hotspots to inform policy makers and warfighters. These newest, advanced spacecraft follow the heritage of five "Lacrosse" radar birds put up by the space shuttle Atlantis and Titan 4 rockets between 1988 and 2005.The updated satellite design is smaller and less massive, enabling the craft to fly aboard mid-sized Atlas 5 and Delta 4 rockets.The intelligence-gathering craft probably use a synthetic aperture radar system to observe strategic targets around the globe in both daylight and darkness. The eyes-in-the-sky can pierce clouds and even reveal underground structures like military bunkers.Lacrosse satellites orbit in normal, 420-mile-high perches, but this new generation fly retrograde, or against the Earth's rotation, about 685 miles up. The rationale for the different type of orbit isn't known.At the time of Tuesday's launch, the first satellite in the new generation was flying westward over the southern tip of South America."The teamwork between the 30th Space Wing, the National Reconnaissance Office, United Launch Alliance and numerous other agencies was seamless," said Col. Nina Armagno, 30th Space Wing commander at Vandenberg. "It's this synergistic mindset and attention to detail that led to our amazing launch today." The liftoff begins a stretch of 8 flights by the Air Force's Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles -- the Delta 4 and Atlas 5 -- from Vandenberg over the next two-and-a-half years, according to Lt. Col. Brady Hauboldt, commander of the 4th Space Launch Squadron that oversees the boosters' operations at the California installation. "We are about to kick off a very, very busy time in EELV operations at Vandenberg. Right after this launch, we'll roll into our next mission -- an Atlas 5," said Hauboldt. "There is not much of a break."That rocket is scheduled for delivery to Vandenberg from its manufacturing factory in Alabama this month, and crew exercises to prepare for the launch also begin soon. Liftoff carrying another NRO payload is slated for Aug. 2.A Delta 4-Heavy vehicle arrives at the base this fall for blastoff next August, perhaps sooner, to launch a large NRO satellite. It will be second such flight by the mammoth vehicle from California."We love it! We love to be busy out here. It keeps us sharp...and puts a spotlight on Vandenberg's contribution to national security," said Hauboldt.Also on tap is NASA's first Atlas 5 launch from the West Coast, deploying the next Landsat spacecraft in January, and a commercial Atlas 5 in March with the GeoEye 2 Earth imager.STS-134 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Endeavour is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-134. Available in our store!Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is now available in our store. Get this piece of history!Apollo CollageThis beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.STS-133 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Discovery is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-133. Available in our store!Anniversary Shuttle PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This embroidered patch commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program. The design features the space shuttle Columbia's historic maiden flight of April 12, 1981.Mercury anniversaryFree shipping to U.S. addresses!Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alan Shephard's historic Mercury mission with this collectors' item, the official commemorative embroidered patch. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Delta 4 rockets readied for two launches in August SPACEFLIGHT NOWPosted: July 31, 2013 The payloads are attached and final preparations are underway for two national security satellites heading for different orbits aboard United Launch Alliance Delta 4 rockets in August, one from Cape Canaveral, the other at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.File photo of a Boeing-made WGS satellite. Credit: ULAThe Air Force's sixth Wideband Global SATCOM high-capacity communications satellite was loaded aboard its Delta 4 at the Florida spaceport's Complex 37 pad last Tuesday, July 23 for blastoff Aug. 7.The WGS 6 spacecraft, financed entirely through a partnership with Australia, will join a constellation of satellites now comprising the Defense Department's primary communications network for connectivity to forces around the world.The Boeing-built satellite, already encapsulated in the rocket's composite nose cone, was moved from the commercial Astrotech processing facility in Titusville for mating to the launch vehicle.The rocket will fly in the Delta 4 Medium+(5,4) configuration, which features a five-meter upper stage and payload fairing, plus four strap-on boosters for added thrust, to lift the 6.5-ton satellite into a geosynchronous transfer orbit.The 49-minute launch window on Aug. 7 opens at 8:29 p.m. EDT (0029 GMT), shortly after sundown.Meanwhile, workers on the West Coast are readying a massive Delta 4-Heavy rocket for blastoff from Vandenberg's Space Launch Complex 6 on Aug. 28.File photo of a Delta 4-Heavy at Vandenberg. Credit: ULALiftoff will be possible between 10 a.m. and 12 noon local time (1-3 p.m. EDT; 1700-1900 GMT). The exact time will be revealed closer to launch.That launch will deploy a classified payload for the National Reconnaissance Office, the government agency responsible for flying the country's fleet of spy satellites."From developing and acquiring new capabilities to launching and operating the most technically-advanced systems, the NRO remains the premier space reconnaissance organization in the world," NRO Director Betty Sapp told Congress earlier this year.The cargo for the NROL-65 mission was transported to SLC-6 on the southern end of Vandenberg and mated to the Delta 4-Heavy last Wednesday, July 24. The craft's identity and capabilities are kept classified.The triple-wide Heavy launcher is the most powerful rocket available in the U.S. inventory, capable of putting school bus-sized reconnaissance observatories into polar orbit.The key Delta 4 milestones last week occurred mere days after ULA successfully launched an Atlas 5 rocket on July 19 from the Cape to deploy the U.S. Navy's MUOS 2 mobile communications satellite, the company's sixth flight of the year.The Atlas 5/MUOS vehicle (left) awaits its liftoff while the Delta 4/WGS completes its countdown rehearsal on July 17. Credit: ULAWhat's more, the Delta 4 for WGS 6 underwent a countdown dress rehearsal and fueling test while the Atlas 5 was rolling out from its assembly building to the launch pad on July 17."These simultaneous operations demonstrate the tremendous capabilities of the combined contractor and U.S. government teams," said Jim Sponnick, ULA vice president, Atlas and Delta Programs. "With this team's innovative and ever-present focus on delivering mission success and reliable and repeatable processes through Perfect Product Delivery, the United Launch Alliance team has achieved an unparalleled launch rate."ULA has six more launches planned through the end of the year and 15 manifested for 2014."We are in the middle of a launch campaign with an operational tempo that is unprecedented since the inception of the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program more than a decade ago," said Sponnick. "This team's ability to maintain this high tempo with a one launch at-a-time focus on 100 percent mission success is a testament to the decades of experience this team brings each and every day to this exacting business."John Glenn Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The historic first orbital flight by an American is marked by this commemorative patch for John Glenn and Friendship 7.Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is available in our store. Get this piece of history!Celebrate the shuttle programFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This special commemorative patch marks the retirement of NASA's Space Shuttle Program. Available in our store!Anniversary Shuttle PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This embroidered patch commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program. The design features the space shuttle Columbia's historic maiden flight of April 12, 1981.Mercury anniversaryFree shipping to U.S. addresses!Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alan Shephard's historic Mercury mission with this collectors' item, the official commemorative embroidered patch.Fallen Heroes Patch CollectionThe official patches from Apollo 1, the shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews are available in the store. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Delta 4 set for international launch Wednesday night SPACEFLIGHT NOWPosted: August 6, 2013 A United Launch Alliance Delta 4 rocket and its military communications satellite payload, both bought by Australia, will thunder to orbit Wednesday night from Cape Canaveral in an international collaboration to strengthen partnerships between the U.S. and its allies.Liftoff time is 8:29 p.m. EDT. Credit: Justin Ray/Spaceflight NowThe spacecraft is the sixth in a growing constellation of Wideband Global SATCOM satellites, but the bird was purchased through an agreement that enabled Australia to gain access to the worldwide coverage provided by the U.S.-operated system.Liftoff is scheduled for 8:29 p.m. EDT (0029 GMT) from Complex 37B at the Florida spaceport. The evening's nighttime launch opportunity extends 49 minutes to 9:18 p.m. EDT (0118 GMT).See our for live updates throughout the countdown Wednesday and streaming video of the launch.Mission managers held the launch readiness review Tuesday morning and granted approval to proceed into the count.Weather forecasters predict an 80 percent chance of acceptable conditions for liftoff, which will be ULA's seventh of the year and second using the Delta 4 to launch a WGS satellite.Signed in 2007 between the U.S. military and the Australian Defence Force, the agreement runs through 2029, giving Australia a slice of the communications bandwidth available from the entire high-capacity fleet of WGS satellites that will span the globe.The Australians contributed $707 million to WGS, funding the rocket and satellite going up Wednesday, plus sustainment costs of the system."The cooperation we've had with Australia has been extremely successful," said Dave Madden, the MILSATCOM director at the Air Force's Space and Missile Systems Center."It really helps all parties. It brings down our overall operating costs to operate the constellation and provides the capabilities to the U.S. (and) it provides critical capability that Australia needed to support its infrastructure as well as its warfighters. Third, it created interoperability between our forces. When we are deployed together we are operating on the same system. It really was a win-win, I believe, for all parties."An artist's concept of WGS antenna arrangement. Credit: BoeingThe Air Force has launched five WGS satellites since 2007, with four currently in operation and the fifth nearing geosynchronous orbit for testing and checkout following its liftoff May 24."WGS is providing satcom for warfighters worldwide, both in X- and Ka-band. All of the services are using WGS, to include our international partners," Madden said.A five-nation deal signed last year is funding the upcoming WGS 9 satellite and brings Canada, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and New Zealand into the system.Boeing is building the WGS constellation, which is replacing the aging Defense Satellite Communications System spacecraft. Each WGS has 10 times the capacity of a DSCS satellite, allowing users to process and receive data quicker than ever before."Every day, WGS helps save and improve the lives of users worldwide by providing critical comm links with the DOD and allied forces. This launch will be another important step in advancing these capabilities," said Mark Spiwak, Boeing's WGS program director.ULA has launched the previous five WGS satellites, the first two occurring aboard Atlas 5 rockets and the more recent ones using Delta 4.Wednesday's rocket will be flying in the Delta 4 Medium+ (5,4) version, which has a five-meter-diameter upper stage and nose cone, plus four strap-on solid-fuel boosters. The vehicle stands 217 feet tall.It will take nearly 41 minutes from liftoff until spacecraft deployment into a supersynchronous transfer orbit. Boeing controllers will spend about three months using the satellite's conventional chemical engines and xenon thrusters to maneuver the craft into its test slot.Madden said WGS 6's operational point in space has not been determined."I'm not sure where we are going to end up putting it. But from Australia's standpoint it doesn't matter because they've bought into a percentage of the constellation," he said."Symbolically, it would have been nice to say this one goes right over Australia, they could look up and say that was the one we bought, but it really doesn't matter to them, what they care about is the bandwidth and worldwide coverage."Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is now available in our store. Get this piece of history!STS-134 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Endeavour is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-134. Available in our store!Ares 1-X PatchThe official embroidered patch for the Ares 1-X rocket test flight, is available for purchase.Apollo CollageThis beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.Project OrionThe Orion crew exploration vehicle is NASA's first new human spacecraft developed since the space shuttle a quarter-century earlier. The capsule is one of the key elements of returning astronauts to the Moon.Fallen Heroes Patch CollectionThe official patches from Apollo 1, the shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews are available in the store. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Delta 4 set for national security mission next week SPACEFLIGHT NOWPosted: March 20, 2012 Within the enclosed confines of the massive Space Launch Complex 6 pad at the southern end of California's Vandenberg Air Force Base, a site once envisioned to fly the space shuttle, a Delta 4 rocket and its classified satellite cargo are undergoing final preps for blastoff next week.File image of Space Launch Complex 6 that completely encloses the Delta 4 rocket during pre-flight preparations. Credit: Justin Ray/Spaceflight NowLiftoff is scheduled for Thursday, March 29 on the NROL-25 mission to deploy a hush-hush payload for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office, the secretive government agency that designs and operates the country's fleet of orbiting spy satellites.Although the exact launch time hasn't been revealed, officials say the liftoff will happen some time between 2 and 5:15 p.m. local time (5-8:15 p.m. EDT; 2100-0015 GMT).The launch will be the first of four that the NRO has planned this year, a batch of missions that also includes an Atlas 5 on June 20 and a Delta 4-Heavy on June 28, both from Cape Canaveral, and another Atlas 5 from Vandenberg on Aug. 2."Last year we executed the most aggressive launch campaign in over 25 years. We successfully launched six satellites in seven months and this year with the same determination we're scheduled to launch four more in five months," Betty Sapp, the NRO's principal deputy director, said in testimony before Congress on March 8."These successful launches are a very important and visible reminder of the space reconnaissance mission the NRO started over 50 years ago, and continues with such great success today. We are committed to smart acquisition investments and practices to ensure the continued coverage and availability of our vital national security systems and we work tirelessly to deliver these systems on time and within budget."Last year's remarkable launch surge used various types of Atlas and Delta rockets to launch replacement satellites into virtually all of the NRO's networks of imaging, eavesdropping, surveillance and data-relay spacecraft, plus the small Minotaur booster lofted a research and development payload."From launching and operating the most technically-capable systems to continued operations of legacy satellites the NRO remains the premier space reconnaissance organization in the world," said Sapp.The identities of the satellites going up this year are not disclosed to the public. But NRO Director Bruce Carlson recently said the upcoming deployments will refresh the agency's ability to continue guarding U.S. national security."The launch of these systems will not only improve on the NRO's capabilities, they will also help reduce the overall age of our constellation and better deal with today's and tomorrow's global threats," he said.The NROL-25 logo for next week's launch.More often than not, the purpose of any NRO launch is the rejuvenation of the existing constellation by replacing an aging orbiting asset with a new satellite or bringing the next generation on line. That was the major achievement of last year's surge, which came as the NRO was celebrating its 50th anniversary."Most aggressive launch schedule in 25 years and the satellites we launched were more complex and technically demanding than any we have launched before," Carlson said. "Through this campaign and the dedicated efforts of the NRO workforce, we proved once again that the NRO knows how to develop, acquire, launch, and operate our nation's intelligence collection satellite constellation and our worldwide coverage is as good as it has been in years."The average age of the NRO's satellites has been reduced thanks to the newest birds put on orbit, he added, while other spacecraft see their missions evolving from the original intent to face the current threats around the globe."Majority of constellation is aging, but despite age of some satellites, still very robust, adaptable," he said. "Some designed to monitor Soviet communication in Northern Fleet are now used to geo-locate sensitive signals in the war zone."Next week's deployment will use the United Launch Alliance's Delta 4 rocket flying for the first time in its Medium+ (5,2) configuration, which features a single core stage filled with liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, a pair of strap-on solid-fuel boosters, a five-meter-diameter cryogenic upper stage and similarly sized nose cone to shroud the payload during the climb through Earth's atmosphere.The towering vehicle will stand about 217 feet tall.This is the only version of the five Delta 4 configurations that hasn't been used in the program's 18 previous launches from Florida and California. The most recent launch in January flew a close comparison, but it had the maximum number of four strap-on boosters for extra thrust off the pad instead of just two needed for the NROL-25 mission.The payload's size likely drove the mission planners to pick a Delta 4 with the roomier nose cone size of five meters versus the other option of four meters in diameter.The rocket will soar away from Vandenberg leaving a smokey contrail that should be visible for miles around, heading over the Pacific towards an undisclosed orbital perch.Hobbyist satellite observers around the world will have their eyes on the sky looking to spot the new object and figure out which segment of the NRO constellation is was launched to fill.File image of a Delta 4 rocket on SLC-6. Credit: Gene Blevins/LA Daily NewsIt is widely understood that the NRO operates different types of satellites that include eavesdropping for intelligence-gathering, high-resolution imaging birds that collect exquisite pictures of ground targets, all-weather radar platforms to perform surveillance day and night, ship-tracking spacecraft, and the necessary communications craft to relay data from the lower-orbiting assets when they are flying outside the range of tracking stations.All of the information obtained is shared with analysts, policy makers and the warfighters in the global hotspots."In 2011 alone, NRO provided extremely valuable intelligence supporting more than 15 operations to capture or kill high value targets in combat areas. In addition, NRO supported more than 120 tactical operations locating Improvised Explosive Devices, helping to prevent the most lethal attacks against our ground combat forces. These tactical support operations also included support to ground and air tactical actions; counter-terrorist actions; and maritime anti-piracy/interdiction. We also provided vital overhead support to 17 critical Combat Search and Rescue missions. In addition to ground combat operations support, NRO supported 33 Strait of Hormuz transits ensuring U.S. Naval Forces had the intelligence assistance needed for safe passage," Sapp said in open testimony to Congress."In both the U.S. Central and African Command Areas of Operations, NRO has developed and deployed more than 25 reference emitters which have been used over 13,000 times, andprovided a significant enhancement in our ability to geo-locate surface to air missile radar systems. This new capability has allowed U.S. and Coalition military forces to be extremely precise in targeting these significant threats."What's more, the NRO has sped up the turnaround time from the collection of information by the satellites to delivering that data to users like combatant commanders through new state-of-the-art systems."Ongoing counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism activities have underscored the tremendous impact of these systems in support of combat operations throughout the Eastern Hemisphere," said Sapp. "NRO has responded with an accelerated fielding of these ground systems that can quickly support finding and alerting potential insurgent events and meeting United States Central Command (USCENTCOM) requirements for near-real-time situational awareness battlespace."The NRO spacecraft are considered to be some of the most sophisticated and technologically advanced in the world. But their exact capabilities, appearances and features are classified, with the public finding out only generally what they do."The NRO is doing amazing things today. Our reconnaissance satellites are saving lives, protecting our nation from those who would do us harm and informing our national command authorities and policy makers," said Carlson."In the past, the process had built-in delays. Days passed before intelligence community analysts could analyze imagery that we recovered from space. That has all changed. Today we are putting data into the hands of analysts, products into the hands of warfighters, and critical information into the hands of policy makers in time to make a difference."We'll be providing of next week's launch as the NRO's latest bird takes flight from the Central Coast of California.STS-134 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Endeavour is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-134. Available in our store!Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is now available in our store. Get this piece of history!Apollo CollageThis beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.STS-133 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Discovery is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-133. Available in our store!Anniversary Shuttle PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This embroidered patch commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program. The design features the space shuttle Columbia's historic maiden flight of April 12, 1981.Mercury anniversaryFree shipping to U.S. addresses!Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alan Shephard's historic Mercury mission with this collectors' item, the official commemorative embroidered patch. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Delta 4-Heavy rocket demo launch timelineSPACEFLIGHT NOW
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STORY WRITTEN FOR & USED WITH PERMISSIONPosted: December 20, 2006The decision earlier this week to add a spacewalk to Discovery's mission and still preserve a final heat shield inspection today forced NASA managers to delay re-entry one day to Friday and in so doing, give up one of three end-of-mission landing opportunities. With only two available landing days - Friday and Saturday - NASA flight rules require a landing attempt Friday, even if that means diverting the shuttle to California or New Mexico. The latter option is a worst-case scenario that could expose the orbiter to sub-freezing weather for two days, possibly damaging thruster seals and water lines, and delay the ship's return to Florida by four to six weeks.The latest forecast from the Spaceflight Meteorology Group at the Johnson Space Center in Houston calls for a chance of showers and low clouds at the Kennedy Space Center on Friday and high crosswinds at Edwards Air Force Base in California's Mojave Desert. The forecast for Northrup Strip at White Sands Space Harbor, N.M., where only one shuttle has ever landed, calls for acceptable conditions.The weather improves at Edwards Saturday and deteriorates in New Mexico. The weather at Kennedy is expected to remain no-go. But NASA flight rules preclude waving off Friday if any one of the sites is acceptable because of the possibility of a mechanical or electrical problem that might require troubleshooting. That means a landing in New Mexico Friday, NASA's first since the third shuttle flight in 1982, is a possibility, depending on how the weather plays out.Even so, shuttle Program Manager Wayne Hale said the decision to retain today's heat shield inspection was a no brainer."I have to tell you there are a lot of folks who think this is really extraordinarily critical," Hale told CBS News in an interview Monday at the Johnson Space Center. "I haven't quite gone to that level, but we're evolving in our thinking. The crew office has been very strong in desiring a late inspection."A detailed heat shield inspection was conducted earlier in the mission to look for any damage that might have been incurred during launch. The goal of the late inspection is to look for signs of micrometeoroid and orbital debris damage - MMOD - that might have occurred since the first inspection was completed.NASA engineers currently put the odds of an MMOD impact that could cause entry-critical damage at around 1-in-200 to 1-in-250. That's roughly equivalent to the same level of risk faced by the astronauts during launch."There is a pretty good statistical database now on this debris that is too small to be tracked by the Space Command radars and yet large enough to cause a serious problem," Hale said. "And in fact, we do see a number of MMOD hits on the orbiter every time we fly, small stuff that does maintenance-type, non-critical damage, which is consistent with all these statistical models."To help improve the odds, NASA now re-orients the station-shuttle complex during docked operations to turn the orbiter's heat shield away from the direction of motion."Attitude plays a big role," Hale said. "We changed the attitude to more or less shield the shuttle, we're flying 180 degrees around from where we used to fly, which helps. And the numbers, it's something on the order of a 1-in-200 chance of incurring critical damage if you did nothing. If you do a late inspection and you assume a certain probability of detection, which the guys have studied, and then you say we have this repair technique that we have a high degree of confidence in - not 100 percent, so you put a knock-down factor in that - gets the odds down to around 1-in-320-ish if all that's effective."Discovery's reinforced carbon carbon nose cap and RCC wing leading edge panels experience the most extreme heating during re-entry - more than 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Earlier in the mission, after the initial inspection was completed, sensors in the outboard left wing detected what many engineers believe was an MMOD impact. The astronauts took a look with a robot arm television camera and no obvious signs of damage were spotted. But the incident seems to have played a role in the ensuing debate about retaining the late inspection."This flight in particular has been somewhat complicated by this report we have off the wing leading edge sensor that said we probably, not guaranteed but probably, had an MMOD strike somewhere on that outboard lower left wing. And we've looked at it with the camera views that we could, which give you some kind of resolution but not the best resolution. There's a large portion of the community, by the way, that feels that's a closed issue, that we had the resolution we would have needed to see critical damage. But like all these things, there is a debate. ... I think we'd all like to take another look. And the question is, how hard do you want to take that extra look?"NASA's options are limited by the amount of hydrogen and oxygen Discovery is carrying to generate electricity and a pre-launch decision to add a docked day to the flight because of the mission's complexity and the possibility a day would be needed to correct problems activating the lab's permanent power system.As such, Discovery's flight is classified as a 12-plus-zero-plus-two-day mission, i.e., a 12-day flight with two weather contingency days. There is not be enough hydrogen and oxygen on board to extend the mission itself beyond 12 days and still preserve two backup landing days.Going into Discovery's mission, late inspection was not listed as a major mission objective and managers agreed up front to take it off the board if the astronauts ran into problems with the station's electrical and cooling systems that might require an additional day for troubleshooting or an unplanned spacewalk.When NASA did, in fact, add a spacewalk to the mission to retract a balky solar panel, many shuttle observers assumed late inspection would be taken out of the timeline. Late inspection, in fact, did not even show up on a list of pre-flight mission priorities. But NASA's Mission Management Team opted to retain late inspection and give up a landing day instead."We knew when we wrote the rules pre-flight that there was a large part of the community that believes late inspection is absolutely mandatory to provide safety to the crew," Hale said. "It's a priority, it was just written down differently than what we're talking about today. It was always a priority."It was not an issue under the original flight plan, which called for undocking Monday, late inspection Tuesday and a landing Thursday at the Kennedy Space Center, with Friday and Saturday as weather backups. But the flight plan was thrown into disarray when the astronauts ran into problems retracting a solar array on the international space station.By adding a spacewalk to the mission, NASA managers had to make a difficult decision."I think our thinking is evolving," Hale said of the late inspection turn around. "That's what you're seeing, our thinking is evolving here. One of the things I'm very interested in is to get some ground truth, to get Discovery back home ... look at the whole wing and say was there really something that happened out there or was this just a thermal creaking of the joints kind of thing? So we're trying to understand the whole process."Depending on what the engineers find, NASA's thinking about MMOD and the relative priority of future late inspections might be altered. But in the near term, Hale said, there was no real choice."Our thinking is evolving and I've got to tell you from where I sit, if MMOD is going to be our number one risk, or number two, we have to do whatever we can to mitigate that risk," he said. "And so you look at the other side and say OK, what (does) having that weather day buy me? It buys me another day or another certain percentage chance to get back to the Kennedy Space Center, principally."It's not so much that we won't find a safe place to land, it's can I get back to the Kennedy Space Center as opposed to being out west somewhere where I've got a longer turnaround? It's a schedule thing. So when I see it's a safety versus a schedule (thing), then the preponderance of evidence has got to be on the safety. I'm not here to tell you that this is necessarily where we're going to wind up for the long term, but I am telling you that we are still weighing this and our thinking is evolving on the late inspection."But by keeping late inspection in Discovery's flight plan, NASA managers had to extend the flight a day and give up one of the three end-of-mission landing days. And with just two landing days available, that means an attempt to get Discovery down - somewhere - on Friday.The fact that NASA is even willing to consider a landing in New Mexico to ensure late inspection is an obvious indicator of NASA's post-Columbia willingness to put safety first.That point is driven home when one considers what a landing in New Mexico would mean to the space agency.The only pre-positioned equipment at White Sands is a shuttle tow bar, a tractor for towing the orbiter to a servicing area, a set of stairs to position by the ship's side hatch and a motor home to serve as an "astrovan."After landing on the gypsum runway, the crew would power down the shuttle's electrical systems, exit and depart the area. Discovery would be towed to a concrete pad that is somewhat out of the wind to minimize damage cause by blowing gypsum dust.And then the shuttle would simply sit, awaiting equipment and personnel from Kennedy and Edwards. With no power or heated purge air, Discovery would be exposed to sub-freezing temperatures for two days, possibly causing thruster seals to rupture. That would require time-consuming repairs back at Kennedy should that actually occur.Once power and purge air are available, engineers would service the shuttle's hydraulic system and rocket engine valves and position the ship's three main engines for attachment of an aerodynamic cone required for the ferry flight back to Florida. The cone itself would have to be disassembled at Edwards, shipped to White Sands and then re-assembled.Likewise, engineers would have to move and re-assemble a huge harness-like device to eventually pick the shuttle up for attachment to its 747 transport jet. The huge cranes required to do the heavy lifting would have to be shipped in and assembled on site.It typically takes a week to 10 days at Edwards, where all the equipment is pre-positioned, to ready a shuttle for shipment back to Florida. The work costs about $1 million. At White Sands, engineers would need four to six weeks to get the job done, roughly the same time that would be needed to get a shuttle back from Spain or France after an emergency landing during launch. The cost of a New Mexico turnaround is not known, but officials say it would be "significantly more" than $1 million."The back-of-the-envelope turn-around time based on bar charts and schedules is 45 days," Hale said. "They have a convoy that will get the astronauts off safely and the vehicle powered down and they can tow the vehicle off the gypsum lakebeds to a concrete pad in an area that is protected from the winds. And they can put covers on to keep gypsum dust out, which is what happened on STS-3 (in March 1982). But then we've got to get everybody out there to do all the normal turnaround and most of all, the lift to put it on the 747."We have a contract that we've kept alive out there so we know what it takes to go get the cranes and all of that. But it would be a considerably longer operation than at Edwards. Again, that's just a schedule thing."Discovery already was scheduled to be taken off flight status after this mission for a major inspection and overhaul. The shuttle Endeavour, coming out of its own orbiter maintenance and down period, or OMDP, will serve as the emergency rescue vehicle for the next shuttle flight in March.But Discovery's next flight is STS-122, a high-priority mission scheduled for launch next October to carry the European Space Agency's Columbus research module into orbit. While NASA likely could make up any lost time getting Discovery back to Florida, the schedule is tight and the Columbus launch date would be in clear jeopardy if Discovery ends up in New Mexico."I haven't reviewed those schedules in detail ... but I would tell you it doesn't matter," Hale said. "If we need to go to Edwards or we need to go to White Sands and it's the day we need to land, we'll do it and then we will deal with the consequences and change our plans accordingly."Based on historical weather data, there is just a 1 percent chance of bad weather closing all three landing sites in late December. There is only an 8 percent chance of Kennedy and Edwards both being down at the same time due to weather.One wild card in the discussion about Discovery's eventual landing site may be a new set of tires installed on the space shuttle. NASA flight rules currently forbid landings in crosswinds greater than 15 knots. That limit can be raised to 17 knots if there is no turbulence.But Discovery is equipped with a new type of landing gear tire that is capable of handling the stress of 20-knot crosswind landings. It's not yet clear whether the Mission Management Team might reconsider the crosswind landing limit Friday. The current forecast calls for a crosswind of 18 knots.A landing at Edwards, however, still poses a major problem for Hale and the hundreds of engineers and technicians who would have to service the orbiter."My concern about extending the flight a day and potentially landing at Edwards is a workforce morale issue because we worked very hard to get this vehicle off early so we could get it down on the ground to give everybody off Christmas," he said. "And now by extending a day, and certainly if we land out west, we're going to have about 350 folks that are not just going to have to work Christmas but be 3,000 miles away from their families for a couple of weeks around Christmas."I really wanted to give folks the holiday with their families and I sure hope it works out that way because of workforce morale, the tension, you know, esprit de corps kind of thing. When I tell my wife I'm going to have to go to California to be with them on Christmas day, I may be looking for a new place to live!"Having said that, that is all secondary to safely wrapping up this flight," Hale added. "We'll do what we've got to do."Video coverage for subscribers only:VIDEO:WIDESCREEN VIEW FROM PLAYALINDA BEACH TRACKER VIDEO:DISCOVERY'S LAUNCH THROUGH FUEL TANK SEPARATION VIDEO:SHORT CLIP OF DISCOVERY BLASTING OFF VIDEO:ASTRONAUTS DEPART QUARTERS FOR PAD VIDEO:CREW FINISHES DONNING SPACESUITS VIDEO:ASTRONAUTS IN DINING ROOM VIDEO:TIME-LAPSE MOVIE OF PAD GANTRY ROLLBACK VIDEO:LONGER LENGTH MOVIE OF THE SCRUB VIDEO:SCRUB CALLED DUE TO LOW CLOUDS VIDEO:ASTRONAUTS DEPART QUARTERS FOR PAD VIDEO:CREW FINISHES DONNING SPACESUITS VIDEO:ASTRONAUTS IN DINING ROOM THURSDAY VIDEO:PAD'S ROTATING SERVICE STRUCTURE ROLLED BACK VIDEO:POST-ARRIVAL COMMENTS FROM THE CREW VIDEO:ASTRONAUTS ARRIVE IN WAVE OF T-38 JETS VIDEO:BIOGRAPHIES OF THE DISCOVERY ASTRONAUTS VIDEO:NARRATED STS-116 MISSION PREVIEW MOVIE VIDEO:WEDNESDAY'S SHUTTLE BRIEFING IN ITS ENTIRETY BRIEFING SOUNDBITES:VIDEO:THE ISSUES DISCUSSED AT FRR VIDEO:NOT YOUR FATHER'S FRR VIDEO:READY TO RESUME NIGHT LAUNCHES VIDEO:LAUNCH PREPS PROCEEDING WELL VIDEO:YEAR-END ROLLOVER CONCERNS VIDEO:REASSESSING TANK FOAM RISK VIDEO:STATION SOLAR ARRAY DRIVE SYSTEM PROBLEM VIDEO:PRESSURIZATION PRECAUTIONS AT THE PAD VIDEO:OVERVIEW OF STS-116 MISSION VIDEO:SHUTTLE/ISS PROGRAM PERSPECTIVE VIDEO:PREVIEW OF MISSION'S SPACEWALKS VIDEO:ASTRONAUTS' PRE-FLIGHT NEWS BRIEFING VIDEO:COVERAGE OF PRACTICE COUNTDOWN ACTIVITIES VIDEO:DISCOVERY ROLLS TO THE PAD VIDEO:DISCOVERY MATED TO TANK AND BOOSTERS VIDEO:SHUTTLE HOISTED VERTICALLY INSIDE VAB VIDEO:DISCOVERY HAULED FROM HANGAR TO VAB VIDEO:PORT 5 TRUSS PAYLOAD PACKED UP VIDEO:CREW VISITS KENNEDY SPACE CENTER VIDEO:EXTERNAL FUEL TANK MATED TO BOOSTERS MORE: STS-134 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Endeavour is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-134. 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STORY WRITTEN FOR & USED WITH PERMISSIONPosted: July 1, 2004Making gravity visible, close-up images of Saturn's rings shot by NASA's newly arrived Cassini probe revealed an intricate, never-before-seen tapestry of icy particles herded into spiralling density waves by the effects of nearby moons. One of the images taken by Cassini from orbit of Saturn shows a close-up view of the planet's rings. Credit: NASA/JPLCarolyn Porco, leader of the Cassini camera team, a serious Beatles fan and one of the world's leading authorities on Saturn's ring system, was almost at a loss for words describing her initial impressions of the new vistas opened up by Cassini."I don't think you have to be a ring scientist to imagine what last night was like to us," she said of the spacecraft's arrival in Saturn orbit and the initial batch of ring pictures beamed back to Earth early today. "It was beyond description, it was mind blowing, it was every adjective you could think of."Even though we've had a long time to think about our images ... I'm surprised at how surprised I am at the beauty and the clarity of these images. They are shocking to me. You are going to see some images now, they were so shocking I thought my team here was playing tricks on me and showing me a simulation of the rings and not the rings themselves. It's just utterly remarkable."Cassini snapped 61 black-and-white pictures of Saturn's rings early today after completing a 96-minute rocket firing to brake into orbit around the ringed planet. Program manager Bob Mitchell reported this afternoon that engineering data radioed back from Cassini shows the spacecraft survived two ring plane crossings without incident and that all of its myriad subsystems were in good health and operating normally.Cassini skimmed over the top of the rings as it braked into orbit and shortly after main engine shut down, the spacecraft began carrying out commands to photograph the rings, first from the upper backlit side and then from below, where the thin disk of icy particles was bathed in direct sunlight.Because of Cassini's enormous velocity - 60,000 mph or so at engine cutoff - its cameras were programmed with shutter speeds of five thousandths of a second to prevent blurring. In the minute required to snap a picture, record the data and be ready for another shot, Cassini moved hundreds of miles, preventing researchers from taking overlapping photos or the multiple images required for color.But no one was complaining. One of the images taken by Cassini from orbit of Saturn shows a close-up view of the planet's rings. Credit: NASA/JPL"The Cassini cameras are far more capable than the Voyager cameras were, which is in large part why these images are so spectacular," Porco said. "The other part, of course, is that the spacecraft gives us a very steady platform. This machine, you turn it, you point it and it stays there. It's like a tripod in space. So it allows us to take very sharp images."Cassini will never again fly so close to the rings and the level of detail the craft's cameras captured was stunning. If there was a central theme to the pictures it was the ubiquitous presence of density waves, regions of alternating brightness and darkness that look like ripples in fine sand. The spacing of the ripples, caused by gravitational interactions with nearby moons, decreases as one moves outward from the planet."This is a telltale sign of a density wave, the wavelengths decreases as you go outward and also the amplitude of the wave damps so you see it disappear," Porco said, describing one picture. "These are characteristics ring scientists read like a book to discern what kind of properties the particles have, how densely they're packed and so on. As I said, this is unprecedented resolution for the imaging experiment."One image showed a density wave thinning out to the right and a so-called bending wave moving to the left across the field of view.In a bending wave, "it's not the number density of particles that is varying, it is literally the height of the ring plane," Porco said. "You can think of the feature on the right as being like corrugated cardboard where the ring is literally warped and its warped because the moons which are exciting that particular wave excite inclination (tilt) in the particle orbits and the particle orbits get phased in such a way that it forms this pattern, which in fact is a spiral pattern."If you followed it around the rings, it would take the spiral form," she said. "These are similar to the spiral arms of spiral galaxies."Describing a blow up of a density wave image, Porco pointed out strange looking structures that "almost looks like straw. I don't know what this is. We think it's real, we see it in other images. ... So it's not some noise pattern in the image."There may be processes going on that make the particles clump on scales that you're seeing here. ... Nonetheless we're seeing something here and I literally don't have a clue. This may be brand new, something no one's ever predicted before."The picture Porco initially thought was a joke was focused on a gap in the outer A ring known as the Encke division, a narrow void swept out by the tiny moon Pan. Along with showing ultra clear views of spiralling density waves on both sides of the gap, the ring material forming the inner edge had a sharply scalloped appearance. Even to the layman, the picture appeared unusual. One of the images taken by Cassini from orbit of Saturn shows a close-up view of the planet's rings. Credit: NASA/JPL"It just doesn't look real," Porco marveled. "It's so sharp, the wakes that you see in the interior to the Encke gap, you can see the classic scalloped edges. These are caused by gravitational impulses by Pan - there may be other moons there, we don't know - which force eccentricities in the orbits of the particles on the edge of the gap. With repeated passages of the moon ... it builds up this sinusoidal pattern, this beautiful classic pattern."This is like textbook physics, textbook ring physics right there in one image," she said.At a news conference Porco was asked why the study of Saturn's rings was important."This is standard ring lore, that Saturn's rings especially are our closest analogue of the celestial disk system," she began. "Frank Shu, an astrophysicist, said this many years ago: there are two types of bodies in the universe. There are spheres and there are disks. And under certain circumstances, a sphere can collapse down into a disk and that's what will happen if you have a spherical cloud of debris and the particles are colliding, they lose energy but they preserve angular momentum and they all end up in a plane. That's a very common process and its given rise to lots of disk system."One is Saturn's rings, one was the solar nebula out of which our solar system and the planets formed. Astronomers now see lots of disks around other stars and even reaching way far out in size to the spiral galaxies, they are another disk system. Common physics applies to all of them."So in studying rings, we hope to study processes that go on in disks in general," Porco said. "And so we think we're seeing in Saturn's rings some of the processes that went on in the solar nebula before the planets formed. In fact, we may be seeing some of the processes that actually aided the development of the planets."If one is interested in "understanding where the solar system came from or how it got here, how the planets were formed, then this is the place to go."Ed Weiler, an astronomer by training who serves as NASA's associate administrator for space flight, offered another reason to study Saturn and its rings."When I was growing up, this kind of stuff was science fiction," he said. "We compete with a lot of things: Game Boys, X-Boxes and Play Stations. This isn't science fiction, we actually did this. We're in orbit around another planet taking these kinds of pictures with an incredible machine. We did this. This isn't animation, this isn't PowerPoint, this is real. I like data, and this is real data."So I hope we can excite at least a few more kids in this country to become scientists and engineers. If we can do that, it was worth every penny we spent on it."Additional coverage for subscribers:VIDEO:TODAY'S NEWS CONFERENCE ON CASSINI'S FIRST PICTURES VIDEO:RING PICTURES ARE PRESENTED WITH EXPERT NARRATION VIDEO:CASSINI RE-DISCOVERS TINY MOONS ATLAS AND PAN VIDEO:CASSINI BOOMING SOUNDS FROM BOW-SHOCK CROSSING VIDEO:CASSINI BEGINS ENGINE FIRING TO ENTER ORBIT VIDEO:BURN ENDS SUCCESSFULLY TO PUT CASSINI IN ORBIT VIDEO:POST-ARRIVAL NEWS CONFERENCE VIDEO:WEDNESDAY'S 12 P.M. EDT CASSINI STATUS BRIEFING VIDEO:A LOOK AT INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION VIDEO:'RING-SIDE CHAT' ABOUT SPACE EXPLORATION VIDEO:AN OVERVIEW OF CASSINI'S RADIO SCIENCE VIDEO:TUESDAY'S CASSINI MISSION OVERVIEW BRIEFING VIDEO:CASSINI'S ARRIVAL AT SATURN EXPLAINED VIDEO:SCIENCE OBJECTIVES FOR CASSINI ORBITER VIDEO:HUYGENS LANDER SCIENCE OBJECTIVES Mars rover collectible patchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This commemorative patch celebrates NASA's Curiosity rover mission of the Mars Science Laboratory in search of clues whether the Red Planet was once hospitable to life.Soviet SpaceFor the first time ever available in the West. Rocket & Space Corporation Energia: a complete pictorial history of the Soviet/Russian Space Program from 1946 to the present day all in full color. 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Credit: NASA/JPL/University of ArizonaThe image was taken from a distance of 6.7 million kilometers (4.2 million miles) from Saturn, through a filter sensitive to wavelengths of infrared light. The image scale is 39 kilometers (24 miles) per pixel. Contrast was slightly enhanced to bring out features in the atmosphere. The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras, were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo. 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Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science InstituteDownload a larger version of image The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft narrow angle camera on July 13, 2004, from a distance of 5 million kilometers (3.1 million miles) from Saturn, through a filter sensitive to wavelengths of infrared light centered at 889 nanometers. The image scale is 29 kilometers (18 miles) per pixel. Contrast has been enhanced slightly to aid visibility. The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras, were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo. 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Credit: NASA/JPL/University of ArizonaThe image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow angle camera at a distance of 6.2 million kilometers (3.9 million miles) from Dione, and at a Sun-Dione-spacecraft, or phase angle, of 96 degrees. The image scale is 37 kilometers (25 miles) per pixel. The image has been magnified by a factor of four to aid visibility. The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras, were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo. Ares 1-X PatchThe official embroidered patch for the Ares 1-X rocket test flight, is available for purchase.Apollo CollageThis beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.Expedition 21The official embroidered patch for the International Space Station Expedition 21 crew is now available from our stores.Hubble PatchThe official embroidered patch for mission STS-125, the space shuttle's last planned service call to the Hubble Space Telescope, is available for purchase. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Stunning true-color picture of Saturn's rings CASSINI PHOTO RELEASEPosted: July 22, 2004With shimmering pinks, hues of gray and a hint of brown, a newly released image of Saturn's rings resembles a fresco where nature is the painter. The Cassini spacecraft captured this exquisite natural color view a few days before entering orbit around Saturn. Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science InstituteDownload a larger image version The images that make up this composition were obtained from Cassini's vantage point beneath the ring plane with the narrow angle camera on June 21, 2004. The image was taken at a distance of 6.4 million kilometers (4 million miles) from Saturn.The brightest part of the rings, curving from the upper right to the lower left in the image, is the B ring. Many bands throughout the B ring have a pronounced sandy color. Other color variations across the rings can be seen. Color variations in Saturn's rings have previously been seen in Voyager and Hubble Space Telescope images. Cassini images show that color variations in the rings are more distinct in this viewing geometry than they are when seen from Earth.Saturn's rings are made primarily of water ice. Since pure water ice is white, it is believed that different colors in the rings reflect different amounts of contamination by other materials, such as rock or carbon compounds. In conjunction with information from other Cassini instruments, Cassini images will help scientists determine the composition of Saturn's ring system.In the 1980s, two Voyager spacecraft flew by Saturn as did Pioneer 11 in 1979. Those fly-by missions raised tantalizing questions that can now be addressed by Cassini's planned four year tour. Scientists have waited 25 years for an opportunity to answer these questions.?The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo.Ares 1-X PatchThe official embroidered patch for the Ares 1-X rocket test flight, is available for purchase.Apollo CollageThis beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.Expedition 21The official embroidered patch for the International Space Station Expedition 21 crew is now available from our stores.Hubble PatchThe official embroidered patch for mission STS-125, the space shuttle's last planned service call to the Hubble Space Telescope, is available for purchase. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Titan flyby overview FROM NASA PRESS KITPosted: October 25, 2004The first targeted flyby of Titan occurs on Tuesday, October 26, 2004 at 15:30 UTC (8:30 amPacific time). Cassini's closest approach to Saturn's largest satellite is at an altitude of 1200km (746 miles) above the surface at a speed of 6.1 kilometers per second (14,000 mph).Titan has a diameter of 5150 km (3200 miles), so the spacecraft passes within 1.5 Titan radii.This encounter is set up with three maneuvers: the Periapsis Raise Maneuver, and PeriapsisRaise Maneuver cleanups, both of which took place successfully on August 23 andSeptember 7, 2004, respectively; and the Titan minus three day targeting maneuver,scheduled for October 23rd. Titan A is an inbound flyby, with Saturn periapsis occurringabout two days afterwards, on October 28th.During approach to Saturn, and since orbit insertion, the navigation team has engaged innear-daily optical navigation of Titan and Saturn's other satellites in order to refine theirorbit estimates as much as possible. They expect to deliver the orbiter to within 30 km ofthe target altitude at a confidence of 99% (three sigma).Titan A is Cassini's second targeted satellite encounter. The first was Phoebe, on June 11, atan altitude of 2,000 km.ABOUT TITANTitan is a highly complex world and is closer to a terrestrial planet than a moon typical ofthe outer planetary systems. Titan was first seen by the dutch astronomer ChristiaanHuygens (after whom our Titan probe is named) in 1655. Though Galileo was the firstperson ever to observe the disk of Saturn forty-five years earlier, Huygens' telescopeswere more powerful. Huygens was also the first to identify the rings as a flat disc encirclingthe planet without touching it.Not only is Titan the largest of Saturn's satellites, it is also larger than the planets Mercuryand Pluto, and is the second largest satellite in the solar system (only eclipsed byGanymede). It is the only satellite in the solar system with an appreciable atmosphere,composed mostly of Nitrogen, but also contains aerosols and hydrocarbons, includingmethane and ethane. Titan's atmosphere was first confirmed in 1944 when Gerard Kuiperconfirmed the presence of gaseous methane with spectroscopy.Titan's peak surface temperature is about 95 deg K, and surface pressure is 1.6 Earthatmospheres. At this temperature and pressure, many simple chemicals that are present inabundance (methane, ethane, water, ammonia) provide materials in solid, liquid andgaseous form which may interact to create exotic features on the surface. Precipitation,flowing liquids, lakes, eruptions are all possible.Titan orbits Saturn at a distance of just over 20 Saturn radii (1,222,000 km / 759,000 miles)which is far enough to carry the moon in and out of Saturn's magnetosphere. Titan'sorbital period is 16 days, and the orbit has a slight inclination of 0.33 degrees andeccentricity of 0.03. Like most of the major satellites of Saturn, and Earth's moon, Titan istidally locked to the planet, with the same face pointed towards it at all times. Very little isknown about Titan's interior structure, including whether it has its own magnetic field.Titan's surface has been difficult to study, as it is veiled by a dense hydrocarbon haze thatforms in the dense stratosphere as methane is destroyed by sunlight. From the datacollected so far, dark features can be seen crossing the equatorial region of Titan, with alarge bright region near longitude 90 degrees now named "Xanadu", and possibly a largecrater in the northern hemisphere.TITAN-A SCIENCE ACTIVITIESThe Cassini/Huygens project is interested in four broad science themes concerning Titan:its interior stucture, surface characteristics, atmospheric properties, and interaction withSaturn's magnetosphere.Titan A will provide the first in-situ sampling of Titan's atmosphere ever. This willcontribute significantly to atmospheric model updates necessary to validate the 950 kmminimum flyby altitude (and perhaps the Huygens mission profile as well). The sources ofthis improvement will come primarily from INMS data and AACS attitude controltelemetry during the flyby.CAPS will make its first measurements of Titan's upper ionosphere and gather sciencefrom Cassini's first crossing through Titan's plasma wake. They will make both ion andelectron measurements during the flyby, except for the period from about closestapproach -85 to -30 minutes.CIRS will measure the stratospheric temperatures versus pressure (and therefore density),in part to contribute to Huygens mission validation at the altitudes of parachutedeployment.ISS will conduct its first medium and high resolution imaging of Titan, including imaging ofthe Huygens landing site. The cameras will perform distant observations at about 2.7kilometers per pixel, a full-disk color mosaic at about 2 km/pixel, regional to globalmapping of the western bright/dark boundary at 200-600 meters per pixel, and very highresolution imaging of an edge of a bright area at 23-81 meters per pixel.INMS, again, will perform the first ever in situ measurements of Titan's upper atmosphere,to determine the density and composition.MAG will perform a detailed study of Titan's interaction with Saturn's magnetosphereduring the entire flyby, as well as further constrain the possible internal magnetic field ofTitan.MIMI will examine Titan's exosphere with ENA imaging and characterize the ioncomposition and charge state near Titan.RADAR will perform its first Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imaging of Titan's surface, aswell as scatterometry of the Huygens landing site. Scatterometry should provideroughness and solid/liquid discrimination, and radiometry should contribute totemperature mapping.RPWS will take measurements while passing through Titan's ionosphere and contribute tothe understanding of Titan's interaction with Saturn's magnetosphere.UVIS will perform two high resolution scans across Titan to investigate the compositionand distribution of aerosols.VIMS hopes to perform surface composition and fluid feature mapping (lakes, rivers), aswell as see aerosol and cloud structures in the atmosphere, methane fluorescence and lookfor volcanic activity. They also contribute to mapping of the Huygens landing site at 1 kmspatial resolution.Ares 1-X PatchThe official embroidered patch for the Ares 1-X rocket test flight, is available for purchase.Apollo CollageThis beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.Expedition 21The official embroidered patch for the International Space Station Expedition 21 crew is now available from our stores.Hubble PatchThe official embroidered patch for mission STS-125, the space shuttle's last planned service call to the Hubble Space Telescope, is available for purchase. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Titan forecast calls for rain, Huygens data shows BY WILLIAM HARWOOD
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The Atlas 5 will use a single-burn mission to deliver the DMSP F19 spacecraft into a sun-synchronous polar orbit.The targeted orbit is:852.8 km (530 statute miles) x 852.8 km (530 statute miles) circular orbit at an inclination of 98.87 degrees.T-00:02.7...RD-180 Engine Ignition+00:01.1...LIFTOFF T+00:17.1...Begin Pitch/Yaw/Roll Maneuver T+01:25.7...Maximum Dynamic Pressure T+04:04.6...Atlas Booster Engine Cutoff (BECO)T+04:10.6...Atlas Booster/Centaur Separation T+04:20.4...Centaur First Main Engine Start (MES-1) T+04:28.6...Payload Fairing Jettison T+15:39.4...Centaur First Main Engine Cutoff (MECO-1)T+18:28.4...DMSP F19 SEPARATIONAtlas 5 FactsThis will be:Atlas/GPS 2F-4 launch timeline Posted: May 3, 2013 T-00:02.7Engine StartThe Russian-designed RD-180 main engine is ignited and undergoes checkout prior to launch.T+00:01.1LiftoffThe United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 vehicle, designated AV-039, lifts off and begins a vertical rise away from Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.T+01:18.4Mach 1 and Max QThe Atlas rocket achieves Mach 1 some 78 seconds into the flight, then passes through the region of maximum dynamic pressure at 91 seconds.T+04:04.4Main Engine CutoffThe RD-180 main engine completes its firing after consuming its kerosene and liquid oxygen fuel supply in the Atlas first stage.T+04:10.4Stage SeparationThe Common Core Booster first stage of the Atlas 5 rocket separates from the Centaur upper stage. Over the next few seconds, the Centaur engine liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen systems are readied for ignition.T+04:20.4Centaur Ignition 1The Centaur RL10 engine ignites for the longer of the two upper stage firings. This burn will inject the Centaur stage and GPS 2F-4 spacecraft into a transfer orbit.T+04:28.4Nose Cone JettisonThe two-piece payload fairing that protected the GPS 2F-4 craft during the atmospheric ascent is separated to reveal the satellite to space.T+17:07.1Centaur Cutoff 1The Centaur engine shuts down after arriving in a planned elliptical transfer orbit. The vehicle enters a three-hour coast period before arriving at the required location in space for the second burn.T+3:17:37:8Centaur Ignition 2The Centaur re-ignites to circularize the orbit and enter the GPS satellite constellation.T+3:19:07.1Centaur Cutoff 2At the conclusion of its second firing, the Centaur will have delivered the GPS spacecraft into the targeted circular orbit of 11,047 nautical miles, inclined 55 degrees to the equator.T+3:23:52.8Spacecraft SeparationThe Global Positioning System 2F-4 navigation satellite is released into orbit from the Centaur upper stage to complete the AV-039 launch.Data source: United Launch Alliance.Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is now available in our store. Get this piece of history!STS-134 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Endeavour is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-134. Available in our store!Ares 1-X PatchThe official embroidered patch for the Ares 1-X rocket test flight, is available for purchase.Apollo CollageThis beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.Project OrionThe Orion crew exploration vehicle is NASA's first new human spacecraft developed since the space shuttle a quarter-century earlier. The capsule is one of the key elements of returning astronauts to the Moon.Fallen Heroes Patch CollectionThe official patches from Apollo 1, the shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews are available in the store. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Atlas/Landsat launch timeline Posted: January 15, 2013 T-0:00:02.7Engine StartThe Russian-designed RD-180 main engine is ignited and undergoes checkout prior to launch.T+0:00:01.1LiftoffThe Atlas 5 vehicle, designated AV-035, lifts off and begins a vertical rise away from Space Launch Complex 3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.T+0:01:27MaxQThe rocket passes through the area of maximum aerodynamic pressure as it accelerates through the lower atmosphere.T+0:04:02Main Engine CutoffThe RD-180 main engine completes its firing after consuming its kerosene and liquid oxygen fuel supply in the Atlas first stage.T+0:04:08Stage SeparationThe Common Core Booster first stage of the Atlas 5 rocket separates from the Centaur upper stage. Over the next few seconds, the Centaur engine liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen systems are readied for ignition.T+0:04:18Centaur Ignition 1The Centaur RL10 engine ignites for the longer of the two upper stage firings. This burn will inject the Centaur stage and TDRS spacecraft into a parking orbit.T+0:04:26Nose Cone JettisonThe payload fairing that protected the TDRS K spacecraft during the climb through the atmosphere is no longer needed and is separated.T+0:15:23Centaur Cutoff 1The Centaur engine shuts down after arriving in a planned parking orbit. The vehicle enters a lengthy coast period lasting nearly 55 minutes before arriving at the required location in space for the second burn.T+1:10:34Centaur Ignition 2The Centaur re-ignites to propel the payload into the desired Sun-synchronous polar orbit from the parking achieved earlier in the launch sequence.T+1:12:20Centaur Cutoff 2At the conclusion of its second firing, the Centaur will have delivered the Landsat spacecraft into the targeted orbit with an apogee of 421 statute miles, perigee of 410 statute miles and inclination of 98.2 degrees.T+1:18:21Spacecraft SeparationThe Landsat Data Continuity Mission spacecraft in collaboration between NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey is released into orbit from the Centaur upper stage to complete the AV-035 launch.Data source: United Launch Alliance.STS-134 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Endeavour is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-134. Available in our store!Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is now available in our store. Get this piece of history!Apollo CollageThis beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.STS-133 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Discovery is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-133. Available in our store!Anniversary Shuttle PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This embroidered patch commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program. The design features the space shuttle Columbia's historic maiden flight of April 12, 1981.Mercury anniversaryFree shipping to U.S. addresses!Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alan Shephard's historic Mercury mission with this collectors' item, the official commemorative embroidered patch. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Atlas/MUOS 2 launch timeline Posted: July 8, 2013 T-00:02.7Engine StartThe Russian-designed RD-180 main engine is ignited and undergoes checkout prior to launch.T+00:01.1LiftoffThe five strap-on solid rocket boosters are lit as the Atlas 5 vehicle lifts off and begins a vertical rise away from Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.T+01:44.8Jettison SRBsHaving burned out of propellant approximately 15 seconds earlier, the spent solid rocket boosters are jettisoned to fall into the Atlantic Ocean. The separation event is staggered with two motors releasing first, then the others about 1.5 seconds later.T+03:11.5Nose Cone JettisonThe payload fairing that protected the MUOS 2 spacecraft during launch is separated once heating levels drop to predetermined limits after passage through the atmosphere.T+03:16.5Forward Load Reactor JettisonThe Forward Load Reactor deck that supported the payload fairing's structure to Centaur upper stage is released five seconds after the shroud's jettison.T+04:21.0Main Engine CutoffThe RD-180 main engine completes its firing after consuming its kerosene and liquid oxygen fuel supply in the Atlas first stage.T+04:27.0Stage SeparationThe Common Core Booster first stage of the Atlas 5 rocket separates from the Centaur upper stage. Over the next few seconds, the Centaur engine liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen systems are readied for ignition.T+04:36.9Centaur Ignition 1The Centaur RL10 engine ignites for the first of three upper stage firings. This burn will inject the Centaur stage and MUOS spacecraft into an initial parking orbit.T+12:23.8Centaur Cutoff 1The Centaur engine shuts down after arriving in a planned low-Earth parking orbit of 90 by 340 nautical miles at 28 degrees inclination. The vehicle enters an 8-minute coast period before arriving at the required location in space for the second burn.T+20:22.8Centaur Ignition 2The Centaur re-ignites to accelerate the payload into a highly elliptical transfer orbit from the parking altitude achieved earlier in the launch sequence.T+26:18.5Centaur Cutoff 2At the conclusion of its second firing, the Centaur will have ascending into a 105 by 18,600 nautical mile orbit inclined 26 degrees to begin a two-and-a-half-hour coast.T+2:48:54.6Centaur Ignition 3A final push by Centaur is ignited to raise the orbit's low point and reduce orbital inclination for the MUOS spacecraft.T+2:49:53.7Centaur Cutoff 3The powered phase of flight is concluded as the Centaur reaches the planned geosynchronous transfer orbit of 2,053 by 19,323 nautical miles and 19.1 degrees inclination.T+2:53:32.7Spacecraft SeparationThe U.S. Navy's second Mobile User Objective System spacecraft, MUOS 2, is released into orbit from the Centaur upper stage to complete the launch.Data source: United Launch Alliance.STS-134 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Endeavour is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-134. 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STORY WRITTEN FOR & USED WITH PERMISSIONPosted: February 9, 2010The shuttle Endeavour closed in on the International Space Station Tuesday, bringing a new habitation module and a multi-window observation deck that will give crew members a bird's eye view of Earth and approaching cargo ships.Credit: NASAThe terminal phase of this evening's rendezvous procedure was scheduled to begin at 9:28 p.m. EST when commander George Zamka and pilot Terry Virts oversee the first in a series of rocket firings to close the final 9.2 miles to the space station.Docking at the station's forward port is expected around 12:06 a.m. Wednesday."We start with a whole lot of closure ... but at docking, we'll have a relative speed of a little more than an inch per second so it ends up being very controlled," Zamka said in a NASA interview. "It's a great day because we'll be playing with orbital mechanics and using the shuttle's control system to have a nice, smooth, controlled docking with the space station."Joining Zamka and Virts aboard Endeavour are Kathryn Hire, flight engineer Stephen Robinson and spacewalkers Robert Behnken and Nicholas Patrick.After the shuttle-station docking system engages and firmly locks the two spacecraft together, the shuttle's steering jets will be used to yaw the combined vehicles 180 degrees, putting Endeavour at the back of the "stack" to provide additional protection from micrometeoroids and space debris.Hatches will be opened around 2 a.m. and the shuttle astronauts will be welcomed aboard by Expedition 22 commander Jeffrey Williams, cosmonauts Maxim Suraev and Oleg Kotov, Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi and NASA flight engineer Timothy Creamer.The primary goal of Endeavour's mission is to deliver and install the 15-ton Tranquility module, or node 3, and a seven-window cupola that will be attached to the new module's Earth-facing port. The cupola will provide spectacular views of Earth and serve as a control tower for robot arm operators.Tranquility will be attached to the central Unity module's left port. It will house NASA life support equipment currently located elsewhere, including the station's U.S. toilet and urine recycling system, as well as exercise equipment.Tranquility and the cupola will be installed overnight Thursday during the crew's first spacewalk. The cupola, attached to module's outboard port for launch, will be moved to the Earth-facing port Sunday night.As with all post-Columbia docking missions, the flight plan called for Zamka to first guide Endeavour to a point 600 feet directly below the station about an hour before docking, carrying out a computer-assisted back-flip maneuver to expose the ship's belly to powerful cameras aboard the lab.A small piece of seal is protruding from Endeavour's wing. Credit: NASAAs the shuttle flips over, the station crew planned to snap hundreds of zoomed-in digital images of Endeavour's heat shield tiles to help engineers at the Johnson Space Center in Houston assess the health of the thermal protection system.During launch early Monday, a piece of foam insulation fell away from the shuttle's external tank about two minutes after liftoff. Based on imagery from a camera mounted on the side of the tank, engineers do not believe the debris hit the shuttle's belly tiles. The upcoming rendezvous pitch maneuver should resolve the issue.LeRoy Cain, chairman of NASA's Mission Management Team, said engineers are still assessing ascent imagery and will be working through the next few days to analyze laser scans of the shuttle's nose cap and wing leading edge panels collected overnight Monday as well as photos from the rendezvous pitch maneuver just before docking.But so far, no signs of any significant heat shield damage have been seen."The crew completed the wing surveys, the inspection we do of the reinforced carbon carbon on the wing leading edge, both wings, and the nose cap and all of that data has been downlinked to the ground, as well as all of the data from the external tank hand-held camera, the external tank umbilical camera and the wing leading edge sensor data," he said."All that data is on the ground and in hand and we're well on track in terms of processing that data as we normally do."The only technical issues of any note are a very small leak in an accumulator in the shuttle's left side orbital maneuvering system rocket pod and a protruding "flipper door" seal on the upper surface of the left wing over one of the ship's elevons. Cain said both issues were minor and would have no impact on the mission."This seal is not going to pose any issue for us, either structurally for the wing or from a thermal standpoint," he said.In a note to the astronauts, the MMT said "Endeavour performed flawlessly during yesterday's launch and continues to do so. The TPS (thermal protection system) and structures community have reviewed the photos you took of the port elevon sliding seal. Although the sliding seal is protruding (about) 3.8 inches there have been no concerns identified so far supporting entry. As usual, the teams will continue to review data to determine the possible cause, and verify no related concerns.A small piece of seal is protruding from Endeavour's wing. Credit: NASA"The Debris Assessment Team data review is on schedule," the note said. "The upper surface scans and flight deck TPS imagery reviews are complete with nothing identified for assessment. The FD2 (flight day two) RCC imagery review was in work."The ISS crew and team are anxiously awaiting your arrival."Here is an updated timeline of today's activity (in EST and mission elapsed time; includes revision C of the NASA television schedule):EST........DD...HH...MM...EVENTTue 05:14 PM...01...13...00...00...STS/ISS crew wakeupTue 06:29 PM...01...14...15...00...Group B computer powerupTue 06:44 PM...01...14...30...00...Rendezvous timeline beginsTue 06:54 PM...01...14...40...00...ISS daily planning conferenceTue 08:03 PM...01...15...49...08...NC-4 rendezvous rocket firingTue 09:28 PM...01...17...14...14...TI burnTue 10:02 PM...01...17...48...13...Range: 33,000 feetTue 10:04 PM...01...17...50...11...SunsetTue 10:19 PM...01...18...05...00...Spacesuits removed from airlockTue 10:26 PM...01...18...12...50...Range: 10,000 feetTue 10:35 PM...01...18...21...29...Range: 5,000 feetTue 10:39 PM...01...18...25...29...SunriseTue 10:41 PM...01...18...26...58...Range: 3,000 feetTue 10:45 PM...01...18...31...08...MC-4 rendezvous burnTue 10:49 PM...01...18...35...08...Range: 1,500 feetTue 10:51 PM...01...18...37...33...RPM start window openTue 10:54 PM...01...18...40...08...Range: 1,000 feetTue 10:57 PM...01...18...43...08...KU antenna to low powerTue 10:58 PM...01...18...44...08...+R bar arrival directly below ISSTue 11:03 PM...01...18...49...20...Range: 600 feetTue 11:05 PM...01...18...51...14...Start pitch maneuverTue 11:07 PM...01...18...53...31...NoonTue 11:13 PM...01...18...59...14...End pitch maneuverTue 11:15 PM...01...19...01...28...RPM full photo window closeTue 11:15 PM...01...19...01...50...Initiate pitch up maneuver (575 ft)Tue 11:23 PM...01...19...09...52...RPM start window closeTue 11:27 PM...01...19...13...20...+V bar arrival; range: 310 feetTue 11:28 PM...01...19...14...10...Range: 300 feetTue 11:32 PM...01...19...18...20...Range: 250 feetTue 11:35 PM...01...19...21...32...SunsetTue 11:36 PM...01...19...22...30...Range: 200 feetTue 11:39 PM...01...19...25...00...Range: 170 feetTue 11:40 PM...01...19...26...40...Range: 150 feetTue 11:44 PM...01...19...30...50...Range: 100 feetTue 11:47 PM...01...19...33...50...Range: 75 feetTue 11:52 PM...01...19...38...00...Range: 50 feetTue 11:55 PM...01...19...41...20...Range: 30 feet; start stationkeeping02/10Wed 12:00 AM...01...19...46...20...End stationkeeping; push to dockWed 12:04 AM...01...19...50...40...Range: 10 feetWed 12:06 AM...01...19...52...21...DOCKINGWed 12:10 AM...01...19...56...51...SunriseWed 12:29 AM...01...20...15...00...Leak checksWed 12:59 AM...01...20...45...00...Post docking laptop reconfigWed 12:59 AM...01...20...45...00...Orbiter docking system prepsWed 12:59 AM...01...20...45...00...Group B computer powerdownWed 01:19 AM...01...21...05...00...Hatch openWed 02:04 AM...01...21...50...00...Welcome aboard!Wed 02:14 AM...01...22...00...00...Safety briefingWed 02:39 AM...01...22...25...00...Spacesuits moved to ISSWed 02:54 AM...01...22...40...00...Station arm (SSRMS) grapples OBSSWed 03:29 AM...01...23...15...00...SSRMS unberths OBSSWed 03:30 AM...01...23...16...00...Mission status briefing on NTVWed 03:59 AM...01...23...45...00...Shuttle arm (SRMS) grapples OBSSWed 04:14 AM...02...00...00...00...SSRMS ungrapples OBSSWed 04:19 AM...02...00...05...00...Video playbackWed 04:54 AM...02...00...40...00...EVA-1: Equipment lock prepsWed 04:54 AM...02...00...40...00...ISS evening planning conferenceWed 05:44 AM...02...01...30...00...REBA checkoutWed 07:15 AM...02...03...01...00...Atlas 5/SDO launch coverageWed 07:44 AM...02...03...30...00...ISS crew sleep beginsWed 08:14 AM...02...04...00...00...STS crew sleep beginsWed 09:00 AM...02...04...46...00...Daily highlightsWed 01:30 PM...02...09...16...00...Flight director updateWed 04:14 AM...02...12...00...00...Crew wakeupAdditional coverage for subscribers:VIDEO:PREVIEW OF FLIGHT DAY 3 ACTIVITIES VIDEO:TUESDAY AFTERNOON'S MANAGEMENT TEAM UPDATE VIDEO:AMAZING LAUNCH FOOTAGE FROM COCKPIT CAMERA VIDEO:FLIGHT DAY 2 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE VIDEO:TUESDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING VIDEO:TIME-LAPSE OF WING INSPECTIONS VIDEO:INSPECTION BOOM READIED FOR USE VIDEO:PREVIEW OF FLIGHT DAY 2 ACTIVITIES VIDEO:NARRATED TOUR OF ENDEAVOUR'S PAYLOAD BAY VIDEO:FLIGHT DAY 1 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE VIDEO:THE FULL STS-130 LAUNCH EXPERIENCE VIDEO:SHUTTLE ENDEAVOUR BLASTS OFF! 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Posted: May 20, 2004 Photo: Pat Corkery/Lockheed MartinAres 1-X PatchThe official embroidered patch for the Ares 1-X rocket test flight, is available for purchase.Apollo CollageThis beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.Expedition 21The official embroidered patch for the International Space Station Expedition 21 crew is now available from our stores.Hubble PatchThe official embroidered patch for mission STS-125, the space shuttle's last planned service call to the Hubble Space Telescope, is available for purchase. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.PHOTOS: Atlas 5's late-night launch from CaliforniaA classified U.S. spy payload rocketed into orbit from California on an Atlas 5 launcher Thursday, joining the nation's eyes and ears in the sky to supply intelligence to the government's national security agencies.The satellite is owned by the National Reconnaissance Office, but government officials do not disclose the identities of the NRO's spacecraft, only saying the payload will serve national security purposes.But independent satellite-watchers believe the spacecraft will join the NRO's fleet of spacecraft with radars to penetrate cloaks of clouds and darkness and reveal what adversaries are doing regardless of weather or time of day.The United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 11:14:30 p.m. PST Thursday (0714:30 GMT; 2:14:30 a.m. EST Friday), majestically rising into clear skies on a chilly night at the spaceport on California's rugged Central Coast.See our for live coverage of the launch.Credit: Gene Blevins/LA Daily NewsPHOTOS: TDRS spacecraft delivered to launch padSPACEFLIGHT NOWPosted: January 15, 2014 A new-generation NASA data relay satellite was transferred to the launch pad Jan. 13 for attachment to a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket.Tracking and Data Relay Satellite L, or TDRS L, is set for liftoff Jan. 23 atop the Atlas 5 booster from Cape Canaveral's Complex 41. The launch window opens at 9:05 p.m. EST and extends for 40 minutes.The spacecraft was transported to the launch pad in a convoy from the Astrotech payload processing facility in nearby Titusville, through Kennedy Space Center past the landmark Vehicle Assembly Building, then to Complex 41's Vertical Integration Facility, where the two-stage Atlas launcher was already assembled awaiting the TDRS L spacecraft.The move occurred overnight when traffic in the area was light.See our for the latest news on the mission.Photo Credit: NASA/Dmitri GerondidakisPluto New Horizons archiveMore pictures, video from New Horizons launchAs we wrap up the launch portion of our New Horizons coverage, we have posted some additional photo galleries of the Lockheed Martin Atlas 5 rocket blasting off. Also, various replays of the launch from pad cameras and ground trackers are available with the live liftoff audio and commentary in our Spaceflight Now Plus premium service.IMAGES: IMAGES: - new!IMAGES: IMAGES: - new!Additional coverage for subscribers:VIDEO:THE ATLAS 5 LAUNCH EXPERIENCE VIDEO:LAUNCH PAD BASE CAMERA VIDEO:FACING THE FLAME TRENCH VIDEO:CLOSE-UP OF BOOSTERS AT IGNITION VIDEO:CAMERA ON ATLAS 5 ASSEMBLY HANGAR VIDEO:ROOF OF SPACE SHUTTLE VEHICLE ASSEMBLY BUILDING VIDEO:TRACKER MONITORS ENGINES DURING FLIGHT VIDEO:THE UCS 15 GROUND TRACKING CAMERA VIDEO:PLAYALINDA BEACH TRACKER FOLLOWS ROCKET VIDEO:TRACKER SHOWS THE VEHICLE'S ROLL PROGRAM VIDEO:VIEW FROM SHUTTLE COUNTDOWN CLOCK Probe sets sail on voyage to the outer solar systemA supercharged Atlas 5 rocket carrying NASA's Pluto-bound New Horizons probe roared to life and vaulted away from Earth Thursday on a three-billion-mile, nine-year voyage to the frigid edge of the solar system. - live updatesIMAGES: IMAGES: IMAGES: Additional coverage for subscribers:VIDEO:LIFTOFF OF NEW HORIZONS! VIDEO:LAUNCH AS SEEN FROM THE PRESS SITE VIDEO:ALL FIVE SOLID ROCKET BOOSTERS JETTISON VIDEO:NEW HORIZONS IS DEPLOYED FROM THIRD STAGE VIDEO:POST-FLIGHT INTERVIEW WITH NASA LAUNCH MANAGER VIDEO:WATCH POST-LAUNCH NEWS BRIEFING AUDIO:LISTEN TO THE NEWS CONFERENCE Maryland storms delay New Horizons launchAlready running a day behind because of high winds in Florida, NASA's New Horizons Pluto mission was grounded Wednesday by storms in Maryland that knocked out power to the spacecraft control center at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory near Washington.Additional coverage for subscribers:VIDEO:NARRATED FOOTAGE OF ATLAS 5'S LAUNCH CAMPAIGN VIDEO:NARRATED FOOTAGE OF NEW HORIZON'S CAMPAIGN VIDEO:FIRST LAUNCH ATTEMPT IS SCRUBBED Pluto-bound probe rolls out to the pad on eve of launchA grand adventure to explore the outer frontier of the solar system was moved to the launch pad Monday morning for the final day of preparations leading to blastoff.IMAGES: Additional coverage for subscribers:VIDEO:ATLAS 5 ROCKET ROLLS TO PAD WITH NEW HORIZONS VIDEO:TIME-LAPSE VIDEO OF THE ROLLOUT VIDEO:SUNDAY'S PRE-LAUNCH NEWS BRIEFING VIDEO:ANIMATED ATLAS 5 LAUNCH PREVIEW WITH NARRATION VIDEO:NEW HORIZONS SCIENCE BRIEFING VIDEO:SCIENCE INSTRUMENTS BRIEFING-PART 1 VIDEO:SCIENCE INSTRUMENTS BRIEFING-PART 2 First mission to 9th planetNew Horizons was built to become the first robotic explorer to visit Pluto and probe the Kuiper Belt in the outskirts of the planetary neighborhood. Check out this highly-detailed five-part preview story examining NASA's New Horizons mission.Additional coverage for subscribers:VIDEO:NEW HORIZONS MOUNTED ATOP THE ATLAS 5 VIDEO:SPACECRAFT TRAVELS TO ROCKET ASSEMBLY BUILDING VIDEO:MISSION LOGO APPLIED TO THE ATLAS 5'S FAIRING VIDEO:SPACECRAFT ENCAPSULED WITHIN ROCKET NOSE CONE Probe nears launch on mission of pure explorationIt is astronomers' insatiable quest to examine the conditions billions of years ago when the planet of our solar system were forming that pushes NASA's first robotic mission to Pluto. But political bickering has stonewalled the program for years, postponing an attempt to reconnoiter the frigid worlds never reached by humanity.Pluto spacecraft moved to Atlas assembly buildingThe Pluto New Horizons probe was delivered to the Atlas 5 rocket's assembly building Saturday morning for mating with its ride to space. [Posted: Dec. 17]Additional coverage for subscribers:VIDEO:PLUTO NEW HORIZONS MOUNTED ATOP THIRD STAGE VIDEO:BOEING DELIVERS THIRD STAGE DESPITE STRIKE VIDEO:FINAL SRB ATTACHED TO THE ATLAS 5 ROCKET VIDEO:SPACECRAFT UNDERGOES SPIN BALANCE TESTING Extra rocket checks postpone Pluto launchLaunch of the Pluto-bound New Horizons spacecraft is being delayed so engineers can perform precautionary boroscope inspections of the Atlas 5 rocket's first stage fuel tank. [Posted: Dec. 16]ONE YEAR AGO: Launch pad rehearsal completed for Pluto missionLockheed Martin's Atlas 5 rocket returned to its processing hangar from the launch pad Tuesday, ending a successful three-day countdown dress rehearsal and marking the start of the next phase in this time-sensitive pre-launch campaign for NASA's New Horizons mission to Pluto. [Posted: Dec. 6]Additional coverage for subscribers:VIDEO:ATLAS 5 FIRST STAGE ERECTED VIDEO:CENTAUR UPPER STAGE ADDED VIDEO:STRAP-ON SOLID ROCKET BOOSTERS VIDEO:THE PROBE'S NUCLEAR POWER SOURCE VIDEO:THE SPACECRAFT ARRIVES AT THE LAUNCH SITE VIDEO:PLUTO NEW HORIZONS IN CAPE CLEANROOM Atlas 5 rocket simulates countdown for Pluto launchThe Lockheed Martin Atlas 5 rocket and its launch team successfully accomplished the countdown dress rehearsal Monday, hitting the simulated target liftoff time. This rocket will launch NASA's New Horizons spacecraft to Pluto next month. [Posted: Dec. 5]Pluto probe's rocket rolls out for launch testThe Lockheed Martin Atlas 5 rocket that will launch NASA's New Horizons spacecraft to Pluto next month was on the move this morning, traveling from its vehicle assembly building to the pad at Cape Canaveral's Complex 41 for a practice countdown. [Posted: Dec. 4]Strike doesn't hold up Pluto probe's kick motorBoeing workers delivered a modified Delta 2 rocket third stage to the New Horizons processing facility at Kennedy Space Center as scheduled today despite a strike by some workers. The solid-fuel motor will give the spacecraft the needed push for its voyage across the solar system. [Posted: Dec. 1]Atlas 5 gets new boosterPreparations continue for January's launch of the New Horizons spacecraft from the Cape. The replacement solid rocket booster was attached to the Atlas 5 this week, and Lockheed Martin is gearing up for the countdown dress rehearsal that begins Sunday. [Posted: Nov. 30]Damage prompts booster replacement for Pluto probeLockheed Martin technicians are replacing one of the solid-fuel boosters attached to the Atlas 5 rocket that will launch NASA's New Horizons spacecraft to Pluto because of damage the motor sustained during Hurricane Wilma. [Posted: Nov. 2]Powerful Atlas 5 lifts massive Navy satellite into orbit SPACEFLIGHT NOWPosted: July 19, 2013 Leaping off the launch pad Friday in its most powerful arrangement to boost its heaviest payload into orbit, a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket successfully deployed the second in a series of sophisticated spacecraft to grow the U.S. Navy's new mobile communications network that will span the globe. Credit: Walter Scriptunas / Spaceflight NowThe energetic rocket, created by attaching five strap-on solid-fuel motors to the kerosene-fed main stage to deliver two-and-a-half million pounds of thrust, launched from Cape Canaveral at 9:00 a.m. EDT.The 206-foot-tall rocket blasted off after its overnight countdown progressed smoothly and a brief hold for upper level wind conditions to clear.It begins a string of five national security launches that the Air Force will perform with United Launch Alliance in a three-month span through October, using both Atlas and Delta 4 rockets from the Cape and Vandenberg Air Force in California. The future flights will deploy two Air Force communications spacecraft, a massive spy satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office and a new GPS bird.The surge began in successful fashion with the Navy's Mobile User Objective System satellite No. 2, taking the next step to construct a worldwide communications system using 3G-cellular technology for ships, submarines, aircraft, land vehicles and terminals in the hands of troops."When the constellation is fully populated, users will be able to speak to any other user on the globe," said Navy Capt. Paul Ghyzel, manager of the Satellite Communications Program Office. Credit: Walter Scriptunas / Spaceflight Now"Today, the traditional (satellite communications) system, two users who want to communicate with each other need to be underneath the same satellite. MUOS changes that."So with the second satellite being launched and checked out and put into operations, we'll continue our coverage (expansion) of the globe and basically double it because we will have two satellites on-orbit working towards our ultimate objective of true global coverage once we get the remaining satellites on-orbit. That's really the big coverage gain (with Friday's launch)."From a technical standpoint, with two satellites on-orbit it allows us to verify and validate how the system works. As we test out the system, we'll be communicating with a user that's underneath satellite No. 1, the traffic, both voice and data traffic will be routed through the ground network and routed up through the second satellite in several of our test scenarios to be sent to a user or multiple users that are underneath the footprint of the second satellite."MUOS 1 was launched in February 2012 and put into operation by year's end. MUOS 2 will complete its post-launch orbit shaping in about 8 days, then deploy its solar arrays and twin umbrella-like antenna reflectors to achieve the "flight configuration" about 12 days after launch.Then begins several months of satellite system and payload testing before builder Lockheed Martin hands over the craft to the government for additional checks in advance of setting it operational in early 2014.From its eventual spot in geosynchronous orbit, a parking spot 22,300 miles up, the expansive footprint of MUOS 2 will cover nearly a third of the planet. However, what geographical area of the globe the craft will cover hasn't been finalized yet, officials said.MUOS serves a dual-provider of both voice traffic currently routed by the Navy's existing generation, albeit aging, Ultra High Frequency Follow-On spacecraft, but it also creates a new era of mobile communications built around 3G cellular technology to relay narrowband tactical information such as calls, data messaging, file transfers and email on rates of up to 384 Kilobits per second. An artist's concept of MUOS. Credit: Lockheed Martin"One of the way we frequently describe the new capabilities that MUOS brings is think of a cellphone," Ghyzel said."The architecture that we've built with the satellite constellation and with the global ground network, the satellite is the celltower. Anybody that is using a radio that is capable of communicating with MUOS, when they speak their transmission is picked up by the satellite and then routed like a cellular system would route to wherever it needs to be to talk to the guy on the other end."So if you are driving down the interstate and you walk to talk to a guy one county over, you may be using the same tower. For Bob to talk to Jim."But if Bob is in Florida and wants to talk to his wife in Seattle, he can pick up a cellphone, the tower next to the interstate he is driving on is going to pick up that call, but then it is going to go through a fiber optic network to get to a celltower that is closest to his wife in Seattle and that tower is going to send that call to her cellphone."Much like for us in MUOS, if you got somebody that's in Hawaii that needs to talk to a ship that's 200 miles off Hawaii, that traffic is going to go through the satellite that is over the Pacific."But if that ship commander needs to talk to somebody that is in Afghanistan, then they are going to transmit over MUOS, the satellite over the Pacific is going to up that transmission, but (it is) then routed through the rest of the MUOS network to the satellite that's going to be over the Indian Ocean, eventually, and then down into Afghanistan."You can think of the satellites as the celltowers in the sky. 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An Atlas 5 rocket like this one pictured in 2008 with a single white strap-on booster is scheduled for launch Thursday. Credit: Pat Corkery/ULAAdditional images The weather outlook is rather iffy due to gusty winds expected throughout the countdown and launch opportunity, leading meteorologists to give only a 30 percent chance of conditions being acceptable for liftoff.But preparations are proceeding as planned for the mission known as NROL-34, a classified launch for the National Reconnaissance Office. Final readiness reviews held Wednesday concurred that all systems were "go" for flight.Although little is known about the clandestine cargo hidden inside the rocket's nose cone, the type of Atlas performing the launch is clear. It is the unusual Atlas 5-411 vehicle with a single solid-fuel booster mounted to the first stage.The configuration is unique because rockets typically fly with either no strap-on boosters or multiple motors. But the Atlas 5 was designed from its inception with the philosophy of each launch being tailored to the payload. If a cargo's weight needs the power of only one booster, then that's how the rocket will be built.For this particular payload, no solids wouldn't get the job done and two boosters would be too much. One solid is just right.As countdown clocks reach the final moments before launch, the kerosene-fueled RD-180 main engine on the first stage will rumble to life and undergo a computer-controlled check of its vital signs. If parameters are good, the command is issued to light the solid motor for liftoff.After clearing the pad, the rocket will head southward on 1.2 million pounds of thrust. It should be a spectacular nighttime ascent seen throughout the region.The rocket flies smoothly despite the uneven appearance because the solid booster's thrust is aligned with the Atlas 5's center of gravity and the dual-nozzle RD-180 main engine provides remarkable steering control.The United Launch Alliance Atlas 5-411 rocket has flown successfully twice before, lofting a commercial European TV satellite from Cape Canaveral in and an NRO spy satellite from Vandenberg in .It's all part of the "dial-a-rocket" approach that designers took when creating the Atlas 5 family of vehicles more than a decade ago. Putting another solid motor on Thursday's launch would add unnecessary cost and complexity to the mission."We're conditioned from 30 years of space shuttle launches to look for two, so this looks asymmetrical on takeoff. The fact is we didn't need two solids," said Lt. Col. Jenns Robertson, the Air Force launch director. "We've given plenty of tours out there and it tends to confound our guests. They keep walking around the rocket looking for the other one."The lone solid rocket booster consumes all of its propellant in about 90 seconds, providing the Atlas 5 an added kick during the initial climb away from the planet. The spent casing then jettisons and leaves the first stage's main engine to continue burning until about four minutes into flight before it separates from the Centaur upper stage.Exactly where in space the rocket is headed is kept hush-hush because of the payload's secretive nature. The NRO is the government agency responsible for buying, deploying and operating the nation's fleet of spy satellites."Is this launch important? I'd definitely say yes. Every launch is important because of the cost it takes to get something into orbit. 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