Monday, August 27, 2007

Full Lunar Eclispe tonight

Map of coverage here:

Article here:

Conversely, almost the entire Pacific Ocean is turned toward the Moon during this August eclipse. In fact, at mid-totality the Moon will appear directly overhead for a spot over the open waters of the Pacific, roughly 1,800 mi. (2,900 km.) south of Hawaii.

And whereas, for the March lunar eclipse those near and along the Pacific Rim could catch a brief view at dawn, while the Americas view coincided with moonrise, in August we are presented with the converse of these circumstances. For the eclipse will already be underway at moonrise for Japan and much of Australia on the evening of Aug. 28.

The rest of eastern Asia will either have the Moon rise during totality, or will see it as it is exiting the Earth's shadow.

But from North America, the eclipse occurs during the early morning hours of Aug. 28.

On the Pacific coast it will start at 2:51 AM PST.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Bio Fuel Launch

The Orange County Space Society's yearly Summer BBQ meeting at Brookhurst Park. The rocket is a 2 liter coke bottle with vinegar and baking soda for fuel.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The rings around Uranus

Taken by the Hubble
Story here at NASA.

Mars soil has microbes?

Viking Lander
Phoenix Lander
I remember the Viking data was sort of like microbial but not like on earth. It was not proven to be life 30 years ago.
The soil on Mars may contain microbial life, according to a new interpretation of data first collected more than 30 years ago.

Scientists want to know whether or not Mars ever supported life.

The search for life on Mars appeared to hit a dead end in 1976 when Viking landers touched down on the red planet and failed to detect biological activity.

But Joop Houtkooper of the University of Giessen, Germany, said on Friday the spacecraft may in fact have found signs of a weird life form based on hydrogen peroxide on the subfreezing, arid Martian surface.

His analysis of one of the experiments carried out by the Viking spacecraft suggests that 0.1 percent of the Martian soil could be of biological origin.

That is roughly comparable to biomass levels found in some Antarctic permafrost, home to a range of hardy bacteria and lichen.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

No delay in future Shuttle launches

From Florida Today here:
NASA is leaning toward launching shuttle Discovery on Oct. 23 without external tank changes despite heat-shield damage done to Endeavour during its blastoff earlier this month.

The agency also aims to launch Atlantis and a European science laboratory to the International Space Station on Dec. 6.

But NASA on Tuesday acknowledged it will be hard to launch 13 station assembly flights and a Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission before a presidential deadline to retire the shuttle fleet in September 2010.

"I think we get into trouble if we start holding up some kind of standard that we have to complete all remaining 14 flights and it's a failure if we don't get all 14," NASA space operations chief Bill Gerstenmaier said after Endeavour's landing at Kennedy Space Center.

STS-1 and tiles lost

Commander Kelly was not a bit worried about the tile damage on STS-118. He said John Young, commander of STS-1 Columbia, spoke at meetings with STS-118 crew and stated that many tiles were lost on Columbia on her maiden voyage. She came home safely on her first trip out to space.
From the STS-1 Mission page:
Major systems tested successfully on first flight of Space Transportation System. Orbiter sustained tile damage on launch and from overpressure wave created by the solid rocket boosters. Subsequent modifications to the water sound suppression system eliminated the problem. A total of sixteen tiles were lost and 148 tiles were damaged.

The three inch gouge was not in a critical area such as the wing tips or the nose cone. The felt between the tiles was not burnt at all.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Endeavour's home

The damaged tile after the landing.

8:25 AM PST Deorbit burn is occurring and going well. Endeavour should be landing in an hour at KSC. Mission control said no further trim necessary.

You can follow the landing from Flame Trench as always here. I have kid detail to do. I'll be back soon!

9:00 AM PST Endeavour is entering the atmosphere right now.

9:02 AM PST Weather good at KSC but wind is changing.

9:06 AM PST First roll off manuver. Its banking to slow the spacecraft down.

9:12 AM PST Will target landing runway 15.

9:13 AM PST Less than 20 mins to go. Over Central America.

9:15 AM PST Over Costa Rica now. May be they will see the Top of Hurricane Dean as they go by.

9:16 AM PST 5 Mins. from Merrit Island tracking station.

9:17 AM PST 15 mins to touchdown at KSC. Over the Carribein now.

9:18 AM PST Almost over Cuba now. Getting closer.

9:20 AM PST Communication back with Endeavour. Crosswinds at landing strip.

9:21 AM PST Merrit Island tracking is picking up Endeavour now.

9:22 AM PST Endeavour using the GPS now.

9:23 AM PST Less than 10 mins. to landing.
9:24 AM PST Take the data Endeavour.
9:25 AM PST 6 mins and the cameras are picking her up!
9:28 AM PST Boom Boom!
9:33 AM PST Wheels stopped. Endeavour has landed safe and sound.

10:18 AM PST The crew is getting into the crew carrier. I'll be waiting for Commander Kelly to do his walk about the orbiter. More at NASA landing blog here.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Endeavour to land Tuesday

Deorbit 201
Endeavour’s first landing opportunity on Tuesday is at 12:32 p.m. at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., with the deorbit burn occurring at 11:25 a.m. A second opportunity is available at the Florida spaceport at 2:06 p.m. The deorbit burn would occur at 1 p.m.
All times are EST.

More here at the Space Shuttle site.

Over at Flame Trench they discuss the flight path over the Hurricane if Endeavour lands tomorrow as planed. Endeavour will pass 180,000 feet over head of Dean as it lands in Florida. I'll try to live blog the landing tomorrow sporadically with kid duty in between. God Speed Endeavour!

Dean's a Cat 5

Dean's clocking at 160 Mph winds and will hit Yucatan very soon

Friday, August 17, 2007

Endeavour Might be coming home a day early

NASA has decided not to fix the gash on Endeavour's belly. Underneath the gash is aluminum and can withstand 350 degrees F of heat. NASA's models conclude that it will only heat up to 330 degrees F.

Another issue is Hurricane Dean might effect Space operations in Houston so they want Endeavour to come home next Tuesday instead of Wednesday. A Crew might be transferred to Kennedy to assist in the landing.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Watch out Texas, Here comes trouble!

From Weather Underground here.
T-5 depression will be called Erin and will only be a tropical storm at the most. Dean can get a bit ugly if the right conditions occur.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Barb's a Robo Chick!

Since this mission is getting the ISS built and serviced the "Teacher In Space" aspect is not being pushed. The fact it is summer and school is not in session. Also, Commander Kelly has stressed Barbara is an astronaut first and teacher second. They will be having a teaching session to the Idaho students that attend the school that Barbara Morgan taught at. Granted she is an Astronaut and was part of the "Teachers in Space" Program. But now NASA hired her as an Astronaut. And Her former job was a teacher.
And yet, Morgan’s role was somewhat muted going into last week’s launch (though Mission Control did mark her space arrival with a glib, “For Barbara Morgan and her crew, class is in session.”) and even more so now as Endeavour’s tile damage overshadows her space presence.
It is both perplexing and understandable at the same time.

Through the karma of shuttle flight scheduling, Morgan’s flight falls outside the school year, limiting the agency’s education reach to schools across the nation.

And since her assignment to STS-118 in late 2002 and the Columbia accident a year later, NASA has shifted its shuttle missions to make completion of the International Space Station a priority, so construction - not education - takes center stage.

Happy Birthday Tracy!

Gouge will not be a problem

NASA said the gouge will not be a problem to Endeavour's return mission. They do plan to use one of the three patching techniques to cut down on repair and turn around time on the ground for Endeavour.
The video is here of the gouge.

More from here.

Nothing to see here, Move along!

HT qob

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Gouge up close

Put some filler in and Spackle it down!

Story at here.
The foam damage etched a 3 1/2-inch by 2-inch (9-centimeter by 5-centimeter) gash across two tiles on Endeavour's belly. The damage left a tiny area of about 0.2-inch by 1-inch (0.5-centimeter by 2.5-centimeter) bare of any heat-resistant tile material, Shannon said.

In a bit of luck, the damage occurred right underneath a spot on Endeavour's wing that includes a metal rib, which also lends additional heat resistance to the local area, he added.

They have three options my husband and I have discussed:
1. Do nothing.
2. Fix it in a spacewalk and bring the whole crew down together. (most probably do this one)
3. Fix it and have another shuttle (Atlantis I suppose) come up with a skeletal crew of two and bring down part of the crew on Atlantis and the rest on Endeavour.
I wager they will have a voluntary crew of two experienced commander/pilots to come up in a rescue crew.

More from Flame Trench here:
Despite a gouge that reaches Endeavour's aluminum skin, a top NASA official believes the shuttle could reenter the atmosphere in its present condition without danger to the crew.

"If we were in a significant emergency case, we would feel comfortable deorbiting this vehicle," chairman of the mission management team John Shannon said at a Sunday briefing.

Three repair techniques exist, but computer analysis and tests must be performed before deciding to risk a repair effort, said Shannon.

However, the 3-inch gouge leaves a .2-inch by one-inch area of the shuttle's aluminum skin exposed to temperatures as high as 1,500 to 2,300 degrees on reentry.

"The gouge goes pretty much through the entire thickness of the tile," said Shannon. The brittle silica tile is 1.12 inches thick.

After computer analysis and arc-jet tests in the laboratory, engineers will decide early this week whether to send a spacewalker to repair the gouge.

More over at Blogs of War here.
John Little supposes NASA will do all three types of repair. From LA Times article:
If a repair is ordered in this latest incident, the astronauts would use one of three re- pair kits: an emissivity wash to paint the surface; a protective plate that could by screwed in- to the body over the hole; or "the goo," a putty-like sub- stance that would be applied by hand.

I'll have to go research the plans NASA has drawn up for rescue operations. That will be for Next post!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Tile problem on Endeavour?

A three inch gouge on the belly of Endeavour was found in photos taken today. Further investigation by NASA on Sunday by the robotic arm will determine if they fix it while docked at the station.

The gouge - about 3 inches square - was spotted in zoom-in photography taken by the space station crew shortly before Endeavour delivered teacher-astronaut Barbara Morgan and her six crewmates to the orbiting outpost.

"What does this mean? I don't know at this point," said John Shannon, chairman of the mission management team. If the gouge is deep enough, the shuttle astronauts may have to patch it during a spacewalk, he said.

On Sunday, the astronauts will inspect the area, using Endeavour's 100-foot robot arm and extension beam. Lasers on the end of the beam will gauge the exact size and depth of the gouge, Shannon said, and then engineering analyses will determine whether the damage is severe enough to warrant repairs.

No Drinking NASA found

No Evidence US Astronauts Drunk For Missions Says NASA
Cape Canaveral (AFP) - The US space agency NASA said it had found no evidence to support damaging reports that astronauts had turned up drunk for missions. The specialist journal Aviation Week and Space Technology quoted NASA administrator Michael Griffin as saying NASA investigations showed "zero evidence" that any astronaut had shown up for mission drunk in the past 10 years. Speaking after Wednesday evening's launch of the shuttle Endeavour on the latest US space mission, Griffin told reporters that launches of shuttles and Russian Soyuz spacecraft over the past 10 years had been reviewed and no sign of drinking found. "We can't even find where it would be a possibility," he said, in comments carried Thursday in US media. The aviation journal, which first broke the story last month, also quoted a US Air Force doctor involved in investigating the claims, Richard Bachmann, as saying that they were based on merely "anecdotal accounts."

I think this sounds like Aviation Week is doing what The National Review is doing with "Shock Troops?" Were is the background and information checks on the anecdotal accounts?

Endeavour wil reach ISS today

Shuttle approaches ISS
Endeavour will reach ISS today. Converge here at Flame Trench or NASA TV.

1998 is not the hotest year!

Here's Rush's link to yesterdays transcripts on GW and the warmest year yet. (It was 1934, not 1998).

I did a little test here. I sent this news out to some people this morning and they said, "So what? It's a NASA reporting error. Who cares? 1998 is not the hottest year on record. '34 is." That alone to me is pretty interesting because global warming has been a big deal the past 20 years, man-made, hotter and hotter and hotter. We're nowhere near as hot as we have been 75, 71 years ago. Nowhere near as hot. That alone, but then, when I tell them, guess what? New global warming forecast from scientists set in with a vengeance after 2009 with at least half of the five following years expected to be hotter than 1998. You see how this stuff works? So it is just more evidence, ladies and gentlemen, that this whole global warming thing is a scientific hoax. Newsweek has even gotten this story.

Here is the blog where Rush got the reporting errors here. The reporting of temperatures can be unreliable if the gage is sitting next to two A/C outtakes blowing hot air!

Update: and are currently not available. Not only did Rush Link but some other conservative sites linked also. (Michelle Malkin and Instapundit to name a few. And a possible DDOS from some Gororcles! HEH! I'll have to blog roll these sites.
Seriously, this correction in the data has made the "hockey stick blade less."

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Endeavour Launch

T-Minus 3 hours and counting and the crew is traveling out to the pad. The Commander Scott Kelly's twin brother is also a Shuttle Commander Mark Kelly. He was taking pictures of the crew during suit up. CNN has an article about the drinking of astronauts before flight here. Commander Scott Kelly was not happy with the rumors of drinking before flight. I think the crazy astronaut love triangle hyped up the press that any tarnishing of the Right Stuff they make a big deal out of it.
"To imply that my crew or I would ever consider launching on our mission in anything but the best possible condition is utterly ridiculous," Kelly penned in the letter. "It is beyond my comprehension that anyone in the astronaut office would consider doing what is suggested in this report."

1:15 PM PDT Crew has egresses in the shuttle and now on to com checks.

From Flame Trench an article at Florida Today on Barbara Morgan here:
This time, however, the teacher is a full-fledged astronaut who will spend most of her time driving a robot arm, moving supplies and doing other astronaut work critical to Endeavour's two-week mission to continue construction of the International Space Station.

The 55-year-old rookie is Barbara Morgan, who was the backup to Christa McAuliffe, the teacher who died along with six astronaut crewmates in the 1986 Challenger explosion. Her dream of flying in space is coming true after spending another 12 years teaching school in Idaho before being selected into the astronauts corps.

From CNN "Teachers IN Space: This is our Flight!"

2:15 PM PDT Looks like hatch closing problem is a glitch. Also, cracks in foam on the external tank look ok to go for launch . More at the launch blog here.

2:26 PDT Hatch problem has been solved, the pressure is ok in the cabin.

2:35 PDT Weather is good to go, no showers at all! Hot and Humid.

3:07 PDT All White room crew are vacated and now set to launch.

3:26 PDT T-9 and counting. All systems are go and launch director gives the ok.

3:30 PDT T-6 and counting and the arm just pulled away from the shuttle.

3:33 PDT T-3 and counting and the engines have been gimbled. The vent arm is retracting.

3:35 T 1:30 and counting
3:36 PDT 5-4-3-2-1 Blast off!

It's Launch Day!

Here's the latest at NASA Right now the three hour proceedure of tanking is happening.
Endeavour's orange external tank is being loaded with 500,000 gallons of liquid oxygen and hydrogen. This process, called "tanking," takes about three hours to complete. The propellant levels in the tank will be continuously "topped off" during the remainder of today's countdown.

The Frist Lady has given Barbara Morgan a send off here:
Mrs. Bush expressed congratulations from one schoolteacher to another and noted that she and the President appreciate Ms. Morgan's commitment to America's space program, to teaching, and to students. Mrs. Bush concluded the call noting that Americans-and lots of excited teachers and students-will be watching the mission with a lot of pride.

I'll be posting during the day. Hopefully I will live blog the launch, just depends on the kids activities today!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Mars Probe launched

From CNN here:
A robotic dirt and ice digger blasted off Saturday on a 422 million-mile journey to Mars that NASA hopes will culminate next spring in the first landing within the red planet's arctic circle.

The unmanned Delta II rocket carrying the Phoenix Mars Lander rose from its seaside pad at 5:26 a.m., exactly on time, and hurtled through the clear moonlit sky. It was easily visible for nearly five minutes, a bright orange speck in a spray of stars.

NASA Press release here:
Phoenix will be the first mission to touch water-ice on Mars. Its robotic arm will dig to an icy layer believed to lie just beneath the surface. The mission will study the history of the water in the ice, monitor weather of the polar region, and investigate whether the subsurface environment in the far-northern plains of Mars has ever been favorable for sustaining microbial life.

"Water is central to every type of study we will conduct on Mars," Smith said.

The Phoenix Mars Mission is the first of NASA's competitively proposed and selected Mars Scout missions, supplementing the agency's core Mars Exploration Program, whose theme is "follow the water."

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Cabin leak?

Endeavour has a cabin leak. Flame Trench has it here.
A second test confirmed that a persistent air leak is caused by a faulty positive pressure relief valve behind the orbiter's toilet, said NASA spokesman Bill Johnson at Kennedy Space Center. The valve is not part of the toilet.

"They positively identified that it is a valve they refer to as valve B," said Johnson.

Preliminary plans are to replace the valve with one now in shuttle Atlantis.

It's a leak in the craper! Jeez Louise!

Phoenix launch delay

Friday's scheduled launch of NASA's Phoenix
Mars Lander aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket has been
postponed 24 hours. The two available launch times on Saturday, Aug.
4, are 5:26:34 a.m. and 6:02:59 a.m. EDT.

Due to a forecast for severe weather around the Kennedy Space Center
launch pad in Florida on Tuesday afternoon, fueling of the second
stage will not be completed. Although fueling is expected to be
finished Wednesday morning, there is insufficient contingency time in
the schedule to move forward with the launch on Friday.