NASA’s Space Shuttle will Fly to its Retirement Home

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The space shuttle Endeavour will take a piggy-back ride from a Boeing 747 as it journey to its final home. After a final review from NASA managers on Wednesday, the Endeavour will go on a cross-country flight from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to Los Angeles where it will be put in display.

NASA is expecting that the space shuttle will draw crowds and onlookers as it passes over three space centers and make stop overs on the way. The Endeavour will end up in museum, just like the space shuttles Discovery and Atlantis after NASA ended its 30-year space shuttle program last year. The Endeavour is the baby of the space shuttle fleet as it was built as a replacement for Challenger, the space shuttle that exploded shortly after it launched in 1986. It rolled out of the assembly plant in 1991 and flew some of the most high-profile missions in history. It flew a spacelab mission and many International Space Station Assembly mission and also with the Russian space station Mir. The Endeavour was named after the first ship commanded by British explorer, James Cook.

The flight was originally scheduled on Monday, but was delayed due to unfavorable weather conditions.

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Endeavour Third Mission Spacewalk a Success

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Early May 25, Endeavour astronauts Drew Feustel and Mike Fincke sailed through a third mission spacewalk outside the International Space Station, installing an anchor for the Canadian robot arm and extending a backup power cable to the Russian segment.

The two men also successfully demonstrated an abbreviated airlock protocol before the spacewalk for the prevention of decompression sickness. The 7-hr. spacewalk concluded at 8:37 a.m. EDT.

Feustel and Fincke spent much of the extravehicular activity (EVA) outside Zarya and Unity, the station’s oldest modules and the region separating the station’s U.S. and Russian segments. The Power and Data Grapple Fixture they installed on Zarya will anchor the robot arm, extending its 58-ft. reach over the Russian modules.

The mechanical limb is used frequently during spacewalks to position astronauts as well as their equipment at remote work sites for repairs and maintenance. The new location also would permit a potential relocation of the U.S. Permanent Multipurpose Module delivered to the station during the Endeavour STS-133 mission earlier this year.

The jumper cables extended from the U.S. segment will serve as a backup power source to the Russian segment, which houses docking ports for the Soyuz lifeboats and Progress supply vehicles as well as life support equipment and research volume.

The Endeavour spacewalkers also finished the installation of a wireless communications antenna atop the U.S. Destiny lab. Work on the antenna during the first mission spacewalk on May 20 was interrupted when a carbon dioxide sensor failed in Greg Chamitoff’s spacesuit. The system permits astronauts inside the station to send commands and receive data from external experiments.

According to the previous airlock protocol, astronauts were required to isolate themselves in the station’s airlock on the eve of a spacewalk, while the pressure inside was lowered. Just prior to their departure, the spacewalkers left their confinement briefly to eat and use the bathroom. That was followed by periods in which the astronauts would breathe pure oxygen and exercise to purge their bodies of nitrogen before returning to the airlock.

The new protocol eliminates the overnight airlock stay, substituting an hour-long session ahead of the spacewalk for breathing pure oxygen followed by a lowering of the airlock pressure.

Next is a nearly hour-long session in which the astronauts alternate light exercise with rest while in their spacesuits. Another almost hour-long rest period with the astronauts on oxygen precedes the start of the spacewalk.

Fincke and Chamitoff are scheduled to begin the final mission spacewalk on May 27 at 12:46 a.m. EDT.

No Endeavour launch before May 10, officials say

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The final launch of space shuttle Endeavour, originally set for Friday and then delayed until Monday, now will not occur before May 10 at 11:21 a.m., officials said.

Officials announced the later date on Monday, following the liftoff delay last Friday. The launch was initially delayed by at least 72 hours because of concerns about the Endeavour shuttle’s heating system. As part of NASA’s examination of the problem, officials said, the external fuel tank was drained of its hydrogen and oxygen propellant Friday night.

The problem has been determined to be “a power problem,” Mission Management Team Chairman Mike Moses told reporters Sunday.

The delay postponed what promised to be an emotional moment for the shuttle’s commander, Mark Kelly. Kelly’s wife, U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, traveled to Florida to watch the shuttle’s ascent. Giffords was shot in the head January 8 at a public event in Tucson, Arizona. She has been recovering at a Houston rehabilitation hospital.

“We are looking forward to the quick rescheduling of this scientifically important mission,” her office said in a statement. “The congresswoman was pleased, however, to have been able to meet with President Obama and the first family.”

President Barack Obama and the first lady also went to the launch site Friday, and Obama visited with Giffords for about 10 minutes, a White House official said. Obama also met the Endeavour crew, including Kelly.

As NASA’s shuttle program winds down with the last launch scheduled this summer, many in the astronaut corps are wrestling with what to do next. For the foreseeable future, Russian rockets will be the only way for U.S. astronauts to get to space.

Source: CNN

Endeavour’s Last Mission Delayed

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May 02, 2011 – NASA announced that Space shuttle Endeavour‘s final launch has been delayed until at least the end of the week because technicians need to replace a switch box in the engine compartment.

The six astronauts – led by commander Mark Kelly – wasted no time heading back to Houston.

Kelly’s wife, US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, traveling separately from the crew, was back in Houston by mid-afternoon. She will resume rehab there; she was wounded in a shooting rampage four months ago while meeting constituents in her Tucson, Arizona, district.

As late as Saturday, the astronauts and their families were still hoping for a possible launch attempt on Monday. But the National Aeronautics and Space Administration gave up on that once it became clear extensive repair work would be needed to fix a faulty heater system aboard Endeavour.

The trouble prevented the shuttle from blasting off Friday; President Barack Obama and his family were among those missing out.

“We all had our fingers crossed looking forward to a quick rescheduling of the launch,” said C.J. Karamargin, a Giffords spokesman.

Said Endeavour‘s pilot, Gregory Johnson, in a Sunday morning tweet: “Things happen fast. We are now all aboard (a plane) for return to Houston. Be back in a few days. More to follow.”

The flight – the second-to-last in Nasa’s 30-year shuttle program – has attracted intense interest because of Giffords, who was shot through the head nearly four months ago.

Giffords arrived in Cape Canaveral last Wednesday to be with her husband and the five other astronauts and their families, and to see him rocket into orbit. It was not immediately known if she would return for the second try.

Nasa spokesman Allard Beutel said technicians and engineers will replace a suspect switch box in Endeavour’s engine compartment. Two days of testing are required, once the new box goes in.

A new launch date was not set, Beutel said, but given all the repair work, the next opportunity appeared to be no earlier than the end of the week. Complicating matters is Friday’s planned launch of a military satellite; Nasa will have to give the unmanned rocket a chance to soar before Endeavour can make a second stab at blasting off to the International Space Station.

Endeavour holds a $2 billion particle physics experiment and spare space station parts.

Nasa had fueled Endeavour and Kelly and his crew were en route to the launch pad on Friday when the countdown was halted. A heater for the fuel line leading to one of the shuttle’s auxiliary power unit had failed. Engineers hoped it would be an easy fix, but weekend testing showed that the most likely culprit was the switch box.

While disappointed not to see a liftoff, Obama, his wife and two daughters visited Kennedy Space Center anyway and got to see shuttle Atlantis in the hangar, and meet with Giffords and the entire Endeavour crew.

Hundreds of thousands had begun to descend on Cape Canaveral and, like the astronauts, did a U-turn once Friday’s launch was called off.

Only one other shuttle mission remains, by Atlantis this summer.


NASA Plans To Reschedule Final Shuttle Flight

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NASA managers this week plan to request new launch dates for the final two shuttle flights to accommodate preparations on space station equipment scheduled to fly on the STS-133 mission, originally targeted for September.

If approved, NASA would postpone until Oct. 29 the launch of shuttle Discovery on STS-133, which includes installation of the modified Multi-Purpose Logistics Module Leonardo cargo carrier for long-duration flight on the station and delivery of spare parts for several key station systems.

Previously scheduled missions by international partners and Sun angle heating issues would in turn bump shuttle Endeavour’s launch with the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a $2 billion multinational particle detector, on the STS-134 mission from November to Feb. 28, 2011.

STS-134 currently is the final shuttle flight on the manifest. A decision about whether to fly an additional station cargo delivery mission on shuttle Atlantis around June 2011 is pending.

On the other hand, Famed Mercury astronaut John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, is urging NASA to keep its space shuttles flying beyond their planned 2010 retirement to fill a gap in U.S spaceflight capability until a suitable replacement arises.

“Starting at the end of this year, and probably for the next five to ten years, the launches of U.S. astronauts into space will be viewed in classrooms and homes in America only through the courtesy of Russian TV,” he wrote. “For the ‘world’s greatest spacefaring nation,’ this is hard to accept.”


NASA: Shuttle Endeavour Glides To Safe Landing


After a tough and technically intensive 16-day mission in space, the seven astronauts of the space shuttle Endeavour lands safely at Kennedy Space Center in Florida this morning.

The shuttle landed as scheduled at 10:48 a.m. ET. It was a picture-perfect landing for a shuttle that had a tough time getting off the ground due to a gaseous hydrogen leak that scuttled two scheduled launches and bad weather that derailed three other attempts.

The shuttle finally blasted off on July 15 – its sixth launch attempt.

Yesterday, mission control specialists found that one of Endeavour‘s forward thrusters, which control altitude and speed upon re-entry, failed during a test of control systems. As shown today, NASA had reported that the shuttle could land safely without the thruster.

The next shuttle launch is set for Aug. 25, when mission STS-128 is scheduled to liftoff from Kennedy.

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SpaceX Falcon 1 RazakSat Perfect Launch


Last September, SpaceX was successful in getting Flight 4 into orbit but this time the space start-up has successfully put a commercial payload into orbit.

SpaceX was a joint development program of the Astronautic Technology (M) Sdn.Bhd. of Malaysia and SaTReCi who co-developed the RazakSat satellite. A little over an hour into the flight of the Falcon 1, it was confirmed that the second stage rocket had been restarted, deploying the satellite into its correct orbit.

This launch comes hot on the toes of space shuttle Endeavour‘s fifth scrubbed launch earlier in the day, but there was very little warning that the Falcon 1 would be taking to the skies from Kwajalein Atoll. SpaceX rarely gives much advanced warning of their launches, and Flight 5 was just as mysterious as the previous flights. But that didn’t take away from the suspense leading up to a flawless blast off (after a short delay due to bad Pacific weather). Later this year is the planned inaugural flight of the larger Falcon 9.

Congratulations SpaceX!

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