Tag Archives: launch

Watch The Antares Rocket Launch Live

Orbital Sciences has targeted Sunday, July 13 at 12.52 EDT to launch cargo up to the ISS from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. This will be the second of eight resupply missions NASA has commissioned from Orbital. 

Orbital will use an Antares rocket to launch a Cygnus spacecraft loaded with 1,657 kg of cargo. The liftoff sequence will last about ten minutes, and then Cygnus will separate from the rocket, beginning its four-day-long orbit. The spacecraft will then dock with the ISS for about 40 days. Astronauts will unload all of the supplies onboard, including care packages for the astronauts, food, maintenance equipment, and materials for experiments. The crew will fill the Cygnus spacecraft with about 1,350 pounds of garbage that will be incinerated when it attempts to re-enter the atmosphere.

NASA will broadcast several events surrounding this mission; all of which can be viewed below:


Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/space/orbital-sciences-antares-rocket-launch-cargo-iss

Watch The Antares Rocket Launch Tonight Live

Update: Due to the presence of a sail boat in the vicinity of the rocket, last night’s launch was rescheduled for today, Tuesday, October 28 at 6:22 pm EDT.

Weather permitting, tens of millions of people in the northeast United States will be able to view the launch of the Orbital Sciences’ Antares rocket tonight for the ISS Commercial Resupply Services Mission (Orb-3). The rocket is currently set to launch at 6:45 pm EDT from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. This will be the third Cygnus resupply mission to the ISS and the first night launch.

In the minutes that follow liftoff, the rocket will be visible to those living up in Massachusetts all the way down to those in North Carolina. Orbital Sciences has developed this map that will indicate when the rocket will be five degrees above the horizon for various locations. Of course, this map might not be perfectly accurate due to weather conditions, and the view could be blocked entirely by mountains, trees, skyscrapers, or other obstructions.

Image credit: Orbital Sciences Corp.

The Cygnus spacecraft atop the rocket has been named the SS Deke Slayton, in honor of the man who was one of the original Mercury Seven astronauts and longtime champion of NASA’s efforts.

Anticipated view from the MLK Memorial in Washington DC. Image credit: Orbital Sciences Corp.

The vessel is loaded with 2,290 kilograms (5,050 pounds) of cargo destined for the International Space Station, which is the heaviest payload delivered by a Cygnus vessel yet. Contents of the cargo include food and care packages for the crew, parts, experiments, and the Arkyd-3 satellite from Planetary Resources. This will test the gear to be used on the upcoming Arkyd Space Telescope, which had a monstrously successful Kickstarter campaign in the summer of 2013.

Anticipated view from Fells Point in Baltimore, Maryland. Image credit: Orbital Sciences Corp.

If you live outside of the launch viewing area or if your view is not expected to be clear, NASA will be doing a live webcast of the event beginning at 5:45 pm EDT. NASA will also cover when the SS Deke Slayton docks with the ISS on November 2 at 7:00 am EDT. Both events can be viewed right here: 

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/space/millions-will-be-able-view-tonight-s-antares-rocket-launch

Watch NASA Launch New Sun-Watching Probe Tonight


NASA will launch its newest solar observatory tonight, kicking off a two-year mission to study how energy moves around the active sun.

A rocket carrying the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph satellite, or IRIS, is scheduled to take off from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base at 9:27 p.m. EDT tonight underneath a carrier aircraft. The plane will release its payload high above the Pacific Ocean one hour later, at which point the rocket will kick on and blast IRIS into orbit.

You can watch NASA’s IRIS solar observatory launch live on SPACE.com courtesy of a NASA webcast. The webcast begins at 9 p.m. EST and the space agency’s NASA TV channels will beam it out in real time.

Scientists hope IRIS helps them solve some puzzling solar mysteries, such as why the sun’s surface is so much cooler than its outer atmosphere, or corona.

“What we want to discover is what the basic physical processes are that transfer energy and material from the surface of the sun out to the outer atmosphere, to the corona,” IRIS Principal Investigator Alan Title, a physicist at Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Technology Center Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory in Palo Alto, Calif., told reporters earlier this month.

“And remember, the corona extends throughout the heliosphere,” Title added, referring to the huge bubble of charged particles the sun puffs out around itself. “We live in the sun’s outer atmosphere.”

A New View of the Sun

IRIS is part of NASA’s Small Explorer program, which mounts missions for $120 million or less. The spacecraft is small, measuring just seven feet long by 12 feet wide (2.1 by 3.7 meters) with its solar panels deployed.

IRIS will launch to Earth orbit tonight aboard a Pegasus XL rocket, which is made by Virginia-based aerospace firm Orbital Sciences. A L-1011 carrier aircraft will drop the Pegasus at 10:27 p.m. EST. At that point, the rocket and spacecraft will be 39,000 feet (11,900 meters) above the Pacific Ocean about 100 miles (160 kilometers) northwest of Vandenberg, NASA officials said.

Once in orbit, IRIS will peer in ultraviolet light at a sliver of the sun between the solar surface and corona. A better knowledge of this interface region, which is just 3,000 to 6,000 miles (4,800 to 9,600 kilometers) wide, could shed light on why temperatures jump from 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit (5,500 degrees Celsius) at the sun’s surface to several million degrees in the corona, researchers said.

While other NASA spacecrafts — like the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) — look at the entire solar disk, IRIS will focus on just 1% of the sun at a time, mission team members said.

“IRIS almost acts as a microscope to SDO’s telescope,” Jim Hall, IRIS mission manager for the Launch Services Program at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida,said in a statement. “It’s going to look in closely, and it’s going to look at that specific [interface] region to see how the changes in matter and energy occur in this region. It’s going to collectively bring us a more complete view of the sun.”

Launch Delay

IRIS was originally slated to launch Wednesday (June 26), but a power outage across much of California’s central coast on Sunday, June 23 knocked out some key components of Vandenberg’s tracking and telemetry systems, causing a one-day delay.

While IRIS team members would have preferred to get off the ground on time, they said the delay was oddly appropriate in a way.

“We believe that some — maybe a lot — of power outages actually have a lot to do with solar activity. So the better we can understand the physics going on, the better we can understand the activity, the better that we can potentially predict and mitigate some of these problems,” said Pete Worden, director of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., which is responsible for IRIS mission operations and ground data systems.

“So it was sort of, in some sense, unfortunate to delay the launch, but it’s also fortuitous to highlight the importance of this mission,” Worden told reporters Tuesday, June 24.

Image courtesy of NASA

This article originally published at Space.com

Read more: http://mashable.com/2013/06/27/nasa-sun-watching-probe/

Virgin Galactic To Use “Cosmic Girl” 747 To Launch Satellites Into Orbit

Virgin Galactic has announced that upcoming launches of its LauncherOne rocket will be carried out with the help of aBoeing 747 plane. The rocket will be used to take small satellites into orbit quickly and cheaply, without the need for costly vertical launches.

The modified 747, nicknamed the Cosmic Girl, will replace the existing WhiteKnightTwo for these unmanned launches. WhiteKnightTwo is a vast mothership plane that will be used for launches of Virgin Galactic, which will take paying tourists into space, and had been intended for LauncherOne as well, but the company has now taken a different approach.

According to the company, using a Boeing 747 will allow for more frequent and varied launches, with the plane able to take flight from a number of locations and release satellites into wide-rangingorbits.

The LauncherOne rocket will be attached to the left wing of the plane and carried into the air. It will then detach and ignite, takinga small satellite to orbital speed and launching it into orbit, while the plane returns to the ground to be used again. Other rockets, like Orbital Sciences’ Pegasus, operate in a similar manner.

“Air launch enables us to provide rapid, responsive service to our satellite customers on a schedule set by their business and operational needs, rather than the constraints of national launch ranges,” said George Whitesides, Virgin Galactic CEO, in a statement. “Selecting the 747 airframe provides a dedicated platform that gives us the capacity to substantially increase our payload to orbit without increasing our prices.”

An artist’s impression of LauncherOne. Virgin Galactic

Launching in this manner, rather than a vertical launch from the ground, allows for a relatively cheaper method to reach orbit. It can launch satellites of more than 400 kilograms (880 pounds), with prices starting around $10 million (6.6 million), a factor of 10 cheaper than a regular launch. Although Virgin Galactic has not revealed exact pricing yet, it is expected to be significantly less expensive than a full orbital launch from the ground.

The rocket itself is discarded after each use, but the 747 can be reused again and again for launches like this, providing companies with a low-cost option to reach space. “The Boeing 747 has a very special place in my heart: we began service on my first airline, Virgin Atlantic, with just one leased 747,” Virgin Galactic Founder Sir Richard Branson said in the statement. “I never imagined that today one of our 747s would get a second chance and help open access to space. Im absolutely thrilled that Cosmic Girl can stay in the Virgin family and truly live up to her name!”

As mentioned, WhiteKnightTwo will continue to be used for launchesof the Virgin Galactic spaceplane, which is still awaiting a return to flight after the tragedy last year that saw test pilot Michael Alsbury killed when the unique feathering system, used to return from space through the atmosphere, was accidentally activated at high speed.

Check out a video of LauncherOne in action below.

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/space/virgin-galactic-use-cosmic-girl-747-launch-satellites-orbit

SpaceX Launch Currently A Go

Update update: everything looks good for a launch today!

Update: Due to a helium leak, today’s launch has been scrapped. It is tentatively scheduled for 3:25 pm EDT on Friday, assuming they can resolve the problem by then.

Watch the launch LIVE here: 


Live streaming video by Ustream

Today at 3.25 EDT, SpaceX is launching a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida that will bring supplies to the ISS. The Dragon capsule will dock with the ISS on Wednesday. This launch date has been pushed back several times due to hardware issues, but so far, everything looks good and the launch is currently a go

There are a few amazing things associated with this mission: the payload itself, and what to do with the rocket after the capsule detaches.

Astronauts onboard the ISS will soon be able to grow their own vegetables in space using a specialized system of LED lights. If successful, this will help astronauts not only at the ISS in addition to future long-term missions to Mars and beyond. Sending seeds rather than prepackaged food will not only reduce the cargo sent up to astronauts (which reduces cost). It will also give astronauts better nutrition as well as the relaxation associated with tending the garden.

Various high-definition cameras will be sent to the astronauts for the purpose of taking videos of the Earth. It will then be decided which camera(s) is(are) superior and will continue to be used.

The most amazing payload being launched today is the Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science (OPALS) system. Communication between the ISS and Earth are done using radio frequencies, but this new system will use lasers. Some advantages (aside from the fact that communicating through lasers is incredibly cool) are that more information will be able to be sent in a beam, as lasers have considerably shorter wavelengths than radio waves, and it doesn’t use much power.

After delivering the payload, the rocket itself has a big test ahead of it: the ability to safely land back on Earth. SpaceX has been working toward a rocket that is reusable and can land on a set of legs as precisely as it can take off. There have been trials of this system making small launches (going less than a kilometer into the air) but this is the next step in making the landing gear functional.

For this launch, however, the team isn’t even attempting to reuse the rocket; they just want to make sure the landing legs will deploy when they are supposed to. The rocket will land in the Atlantic Ocean, so there is virtually no danger if the trial doesn’t work. Realistically, the odds of this landing being successful are pretty low at only 30-40%. No matter what the outcome of the trial, the scientists will gain information to keep moving forward toward a reusable rocket.

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/space/spacex-launch-currently-go

Watch Live: Space Station Cargo Delivery Launch


The sun shines through a truss-based radiator panel and a primary solar array panel on the Earth-orbiting International Space Station (ISS) in this photograph taken by an Expedition 38 crew member on Jan. 2, 2014.

The commercial spaceflight company Orbital Sciences Corporation will attempt to launch a milestone cargo delivery mission to the International Space Station today (Jan. 9), after a one-day delay due to a huge solar flare.

An Orbital-built Antares rocket is counting down to launch the company’s robotic Cygnus cargo ship toward the station from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va., at 1:07 p.m. EST.

Orbital Sciences called off plans to launch the Cygnus cargo mission, called Orb-1, early Wednesday to allow time to study the radiation fallout from a major solar flare on Tuesday. At the time, Orbital officials were concerned the increased radiation from the flare could doom the Antares rocket launch.

“Upon a deeper examination of the current space weather environment, Orbital’s engineering team, in consultation with NIASA, has determined that the risk to launch success is within acceptable limits established at the outset of the Antares program,” Orbital officials announced late Wednesday.

Live streaming video by Ustream

The launch may be visible to observers along the U.S. East Coast, weather permitting. According to launch maps released by Orbital, the Antares rocket could potentially be visible streaking toward space from as far north as Boston and as far south as northern South Carolina, depending on conditions. [How to See Orbital Sciences’ Jan. 9 Rocket Launch (Visibility Map Gallery)]

Wednesday’s launch delay was prompted by a major X1.2-class solar flare a day earlier. X-class solar flares are the largest types of flares from the sun, and Orbital officials wanted to make sure the flare would not interfere with any of the electronic systems on the Antares rocket. The Cygnus spacecraft is built to withstand such solar events, Orbital officials said.

Orbital’s Cygnus spacecraft is an unmanned resupply ship packed with 2,780 pounds (1,260 kilograms) of supplies for the six astronauts on the space station. The Orb-1 mission is Orbital’s first of eight planned delivery missions to the station using the Antares rockets and Cygnus spacecraft under a $1.9 billion contract with NASA.

The two-stage Antares rocket will lift off from the seaside Pad-0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility and take about three days to reach the International Space Station. Astronauts on the station plan to capture the spacecraft using a robotic arm on Sunday (Jan. 12) and park it at a docking port.

The Dulles, Va.-based Orbital Sciences is one of two companies with NASA contracts for unmanned cargo delivery missions to keep the space station stocked with supplies. The other firm, the Hawthorne, Calif.-based SpaceX, has launched two of its own 12 missions for NASA under a $1.6 billion deal, with the third slated to fly on Feb. 22.

Orbital initially hoped to launch the Cygnus Orb-1 mission in mid-December, but delayed the flight to January to allow astronauts on the station time to perform emergency spacewalk repairs on the outpost’s cooling system. A one-day delay to avoid freezing cold temperatures on Tuesday (Jan. 7) also pushed the launch back.

Orbital launched two test flights of the Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft in 2013. The company plans to three official cargo missions to the space station this year.

With NASA’s space shuttles retired, the agency relies on Orbital Sciences, SpaceX and international partners like Russia, Europe and Japan to launch cargo and crews to the International Space Station. On Wednesday, NASA announced that it will extend the lifetime of the space station through 2024, adding four extra years of operation to the outpost. So more commercial cargo ship flights may be required during that time frame.

Image: NASA

This article originally published at Space.com

Read more: http://mashable.com/2014/01/09/orbital-sciences-antares-iss/

Watch SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Rocket Launch LIVE

Saturday morning at 2:14 am EDT, SpaceX will launch a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida. This marks SpaceX’s fourth of twelve commercial resupply services (CRS) missions to the ISS. This is also SpaceX’s second launch this month; they successfully launched the AsiaSat-6 on September 7.

Atop the Falcon 9 rocket is a Dragon spacecraft, containing 2.5 tons of material for the astronauts of Expeditions 41/42 aboard the ISS. The capsule contains food and provisions for the crew and 255 science experiments and research tools. Among these, the SpinSat satellite will test a new propulsion system for small satellites and perform a drag experiment when solar activity is high. NASA’s RapidScan instrument will be mounted outside of the ISS and will be used to research oceans. The astronauts will also be receiving a 3D printer in order to explore the potential for astronauts to produce their own replacement parts.

Also coming along for the ride are 20 mousetronauts. Half of these brave explorers will return to Earth with the Dragon capsule, and the rest will be spending more time in space and will return at a later date.

SpaceX and Orbital Sciences are the only two commercial spaceflight companies who have been supplying the ISS through the CRS program. Earlier this week, NASA announced that SpaceX and Boeing will manufacture spacecraft that will return human launches to Low Earth Orbit to the United States, beginning in 2017. By contracting out this task, NASA will be able to concentrate on journeys deeper into space, including Mars. SpaceX will use a modified version of the Dragon spacecraft that seats seven astronauts and will use their Falcon 9 rockets for launch.

NASA will be broadcasting the resupply launch live beginning at 1:00 am EDT. You can tune in right here:


Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/space/live-webcast-spacex-crs-4-launch

Watch The Test Flight Launch of the Deep-Space Orion Spacecraft

When NASA is ready to send humans to Mars, it will do so using the Orion spacecraft, launched via a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket. An unmanned test flight is scheduled for Thursday, December 4 at 7:05 am EST from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The Orion spacecraft, built by Lockheed Martin, will complete a 4.5 hour-long test flight at an altitude of 5,800 kilometers (3,600 miles), which is approximately 15 times the distance to the International Space Station. The heat shield will be tested, and the cabin will be filled with a suite of sensors to measure conditions inside the spacecraft. Orion will re-enter Earth’s atmosphere at speeds of 32,190 km/h (20,000 mph), before deploying 11 parachutes and splashing down in the Pacific Ocean. This is faster than any spacecraft has re-entered since the Apollo missions.

In addition to the technical aspects of the test flight, the spacecraft will also carry items meant to generate public interest in the Orion mission, as well as interest in space travel and STEM in general. Items include a microchip with over 1 million names submitted to NASA, poems, music recordings, and more. Orion will also be carrying iconic props from Sesame Street, in order to inspire children. These items include Ernie’s rubber ducky, Super Grover’s cape, Slimey the Worm, and Cookie Monster’s chocolate chip cookie.

Packing up the Sesame Street items that will fly on Orion. Photo credit: NASA

As of the time of this writing (Monday morning), there is a 60% chance that the launch will be a ‘Go’ during the 2 hour and 39 minute window. Though there is no precipitation currently expected on Thursday, that could change as the week goes on. Additionally, the launch could be scrubbed if wind speeds get too high. Because the spacecraft is going to be retrieved by the US Navy, NASA needs to ensure that conditions are favorable over in the Pacific as well.

Manned missions on Orion will take place after 2020. It will complete a few manned missions to asteroids before heading for its premier target: Mars. A total of four astronauts will be seated in the spacecraft during these missions.

The launch will be preceded by two press conferences: one on Tuesday at 1 pm EST, and another on Wednesday at 11 am EST. Coverage for the 7:05 am launch on Thursday will begin at 4:30 am EST. All of the events can be viewed on NASA TV or you can watch right here:


Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream


Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/space/watch-test-flight-launch-deep-space-orion-spacecraft