ISS PMA-3 moved

Following the successful spacewalk on Friday the International Space Station operations team used the station’s Canadarm2 to move the Pressurized Mating Adapter (PMA) 3 from its home on Node 3 where it has been since arrival in October 2000 to the Zenith of Node 2.

With this move complete the next International Docking Adapter (IDA) can be delivered by SpaceX to complete the migration of the two PMA’s to support the Commercial Crew dockings including those by Boeing’s CST-100 and SpaceX Crewed Dragon scheduled to start either later this year or in 2018.

Expedition 50 complete third EVA

Astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet completed the third Extravehicular activity (EVA) of Expedition 50 with the successful re-pressurization of the Quest airlock.  The spacewalk lasted 6 hours 34 minutes and the astronauts completed the following tasks.  Prepare PMA for

  • Prepare PMA for move
  • Installed new Epic MDM
  • Camera WorkLubricated Canadarm2 end effector and inspected a radiator value.
  • Lubricated Canadarm2 end effector
  • Inspected a radiator value.

This was the 198th spacewalk performed at the International Space Station, for a total time of 1,236 hours and 38 minutes

This was Shane’s 5th EVA for a total time of 31 hours, 56 minutes and Thomas’s 2nd who now has 12 hours, 32 minutes working outside in space.

The next spacewalk is currently scheduled for March 30th.

SpaceX launches EchoStar 23

After several delays originally for the static fire test and then the weather SpaceX successfully completed its third launch of 2017 this morning with the delivery of the EchoStar 23 payload to orbit.  Liftoff occurred at 02:00 with the ignition of the nine Merlin 1D engines that propelled the towards orbit.  35 minutes later confirmation of payload separation was posted by SpaceX.

Due to the weight and destination of the payload there was no attempt to land the rocket either on land or the ASDS.

The full launch video from SpaceX is below, liftoff occurred at 12:00 minutes in.

Jeff Bezos provides update on New Glenn Rocket

This morning at the Satellite 2017 show Jeff Bezos, of Amazon and Blue Origin, provided an on the New Glenn launch system, including video below. He also announced that they had signed their first customer Eutelsat.

Update March 8, Jeff announced second customer for New Glenn

Here are some of the details revealed today: –

  • New Glenn is a two stage system with first stage being designed for 100 reuses.
  • New Glenn is designed to carry 13 tonnes to GTO and 45 to LEO.
  • New Glenn will have six landing legs and could still land even if one didn’t deploy correctly.
  • New Glenn first stage will use seven BE-4 engines (based on Video), which would translate to approximately 3.85 million lbs of thrust at launch.
  • Blue Origin incorporated what they have learned from New Shepherd into the design of New Glenn.

In related news, Jeff tweeted yesterday that the first BE-4 engine completed assembly.

ULA launches NROL-79 mission

Following a smooth countdown this morning United Launch Alliance launched an Atlas V 401 carrying a classified payload for the National Reconnaissance Office.

Due to the nature of this launch the live broadcast was terminated after the payload separation occurred.

SpaceX Moon Mission

In a stunning announcement yesterday SpaceX explained that two people had paid significant deposits for a Dragon 2 mission around the moon currently scheduled to launch in 2018.

Using a free return trajectory around the moon the mission will launch from KSC LC-39A atop a Falcon Heavy and then fly around the moon taking the crew further from Earth than any humans have ever been before.  The two crew members will spend seven days in space before returning to Earth either landing back in the ocean or potentially using a propulsive landing back on land.

Elon Musk made the announcement during a telecon that was announced on Sunday, he explained that SpaceX plans to launch the first uncrewed Dragon 2 later this year on a test mission to the International Space Station.  This new mission will not launch until SpaceX has completed the certification of Dragon 2 for NASA.

If SpaceX is able to achieve this schedule then they will do something that hasn’t been done since the last Apollo mission to the moon.  This will also leapfrog them over NASA which is currently looking into adding a crew to the EM-1 mission due to launch sometime in 2018, however it is likely to be delayed especially if they need to make changes to accommodate crew, otherwise the first crewed mission isn’t scheduled until No Earlier Than (NET) 2021.

SpaceX CRS-10 launches

This morning SpaceX made history once again as it made its first launch from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center. The pad that had previously been used by NASA for Apollo and Space Shuttle launches has been refurbished by SpaceX over the last couple of years.

Designed to support the launch of Falcon Heavy, National Security Payloads and Crewed Missions 39A was called into duty following the September, 1st 2016 accident that resulted in the loss of LC-40 at neighboring Cape Canaveral.

The launch was originally scheduled to lift off yesterday but during to a 2nd Stage Thrust Vector issue they decided to scrub to allow time to investigate further.  The issue was resolved overnight and the countdown proceeded this morning to a 9:38 am EST launch when the nine merlin engines roared to life to propel the rocket to orbit.  Following completion of the first stage burn, the booster returned to Landing Zone 1 (LZ1) and landed making this the third time SpaceX has returned to LZ1.

Weekly Space News – 1/21

Eugene Cernan passes away

The last man to walk on the moon Gene Cernan passed away this week at the age of 82.

 “Even at the age of 82, Gene was passionate about sharing his desire to see the continued human exploration of space and encouraged our nation’s leaders and young people to not let him remain the last man to walk on the Moon,”

Check out his website here.

Upcoming Soyuz Rocket Engines to be replaced

Following the results of the investigation into the Progress MS-04 accident Russian Space officials have announced that they will be replacing the upper stage engines to ensure mission success.

Full Story here.

NASA considering purchase of additional Soyuz seats

Due to delays with the Commercial Crew Programs NASA is considering an option to purchase additional seats on Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft to ensure continued access to the International Space Station.

Full Story Here.

 

ULA starts it’s 2017 launch manifest

United Launch Alliance began their 2017 launch manifest with the successful delivery of the Air Force’s Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) GEO-3 satellite.

The launch was originally scheduled to launch yesterday but was delayed due to a sensor issue on the RD-180 engine the Atlas V 401 and then a fouled range with an aircraft encroaching on the keep out zone.

The countdown today proceeded smoothly with an on time launch occurring at 7:41 pm ET from Space Launch Complex (SLC) 41 at Cape Canaveral and delivered the payload to orbit 43 minutes later.