The Space Shuttle Atlantis is off to deliver a fresh crew, as well as about 30,000 pounds of equipment, to the International Space Station today as part of an 11-day mission that will also involve three space-walks. The mission will warehouse equipment too big for Russian, Japanese or European crafts to carry in what will be last launch of the year, with six slated for 2010 before the Shuttle is officially scrapped. Catch a live feed of the launch below.
NASA has wanted to get a better look at its space shuttle landings ever since the tragic disintegration of space shuttle Columbia in 2003. Part of the space agency's solution: a modified Navy aircraft that can take 10,000 to 15,000 images of space shuttles traveling at a few miles per second.
Space shuttles have about 10,000 thermal tiles that protect their underbelly and wings during the white-hot descent from orbit. A protective layer of air molecules forms around the shuttle with temperatures up to 3,000 degrees F -- still mild compared to temperatures of more than 9,900 degrees F beyond the boundary layer.
A company called Astrogenetix has started the approval process for putting their salmonella vaccine through the clinical trial wringer. The outfit, based in Austin, Texas developed its vaccine through research carried out on NASA's space shuttle missions.
Scientists have long known that bacteria and viruses grow more rapidly and virulently in space. Astrogenetix took advantage of that fast-growing, super-active state to home in on the salmonella genes responsible for infectiousness, and then removed said genes to create a weak vaccine strain.
The movies make space flight seem easy. A simple flip of the joystick or twist of the knob and any asteroid or space creature is done for. Sadly, the reality of space flight involves the constant monitoring of, and fiddling with, a near-endless set of dials, switches and buttons. In fact, so much of modern space craft are packed with gear and doodads that even astronauts have trouble keeping everything straight.
The space shuttle Discovery just can’t catch a break. Astronauts aboard the orbiting craft, which is scheduled to land back on Earth later today, fired the engines around noon EDT today to dodge a piece of space junk creeping into its orbit, marking the third piece of orbiting detritus to enter the shuttle’s neighborhood during this mission.
NASA should extend space station operations beyond the planned 2016 retirement, according to a subcommittee of the presidential panel reviewing the human space program's future. But some members also warned that such a step could delay the return of astronauts to the moon.
This comes shortly after NASA had announced plans to de-orbit the International Space Station in 2016. Russia, Europe, Japan and Canada all support extending the $100-billion collaborative venture beyond 2015.
It's hard to launch a Space Shuttle when the launch pad keeps getting struck by lighting. NASA cameras caught 11 lightning strikes, including one direct hit to the pad, near the space shuttle Endeavour's launch pad, during a thunderstorm on July 10.
Getting married in apparent weightlessness looks like fun; it's the next best thing to getting married in space.
Keep in mind that I use the terms "apparent" or "simulated" weightlessness, because, as discussed in a previous article, we're not talking about actual weightlessness in these situations. Actual weightlessness requires the absence of a gravitational force.
Filming an IMAX 3D feature about NASA's last manned mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope created challenges that even Christopher Nolan's crew never faced on the set of "The Dark Knight." Using only eight minutes of film, astronauts had to capture the essence of five long spacewalks using a custom-made IMAX camera as big as a submarine. Thankfully, IMAX director and producer Toni Myers was there to help.
Earlier today, astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis released the Hubble Space Telescope back into orbit after a successful mission to repair and upgrade NASA's famous orbiting observatory.
The mission was intensive, especially considering almost all of the repairs that were performed during a series of TK spacewalks were on parts that were never intended to be serviced by astronauts in space. Equally intense (and beautiful) are the 180 tools NASA employed for the job--with 116 of them created specifically for this mission.