Friday Rocket Blast To Be Streamed Live

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Earlier this week, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) fired up their Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft in a successful test to prepare for launch to the International Space Station, set for Friday, March 1, at 10:10 a.m. EST. Space travel fans can follow along during the event via LiveStream starting at 9:30 a.m.

Monday, SpaceX teams ran through all the countdown processes as if it were launch day. All nine engines on the Falcon rocket were successfully fired for nearly two seconds, clearing the way for the historic launch.

Friday’s launch will be the fourth flight for SpaceX’s uncrewed Dragon cargo spacecraft and the fifth and final flight for the company’s two-stage Falcon launch vehicle. It it the second SpaceX operational mission contracted to NASA under a Commercial Resupply Services contract.

Did you ever wonder what they send to the International Space Station on resupply missions?

[Photo Credit- NASA]

In addition to what we might expect; food, clothing and gear needed for survival in space, the 1493-pound mission manifest includes experiments sent from a variety of nations.

Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency, for example, is sending stem cells. The Canadian and European Space Agencies have experiments going up also. NASA and the Russians are sending various supplies, computer resources and replacement parts.

With favorable weather expected, coverage of the launch from NASA’s Launch Complex 40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida will begin at 8:30am on NASA TV.

Here is a short clip of that test-fire earlier this week-


Video: A Week In The Life Of The International Space Station


The International Space Station is one of the wonders of modern technology. A series of interconnected orbital modules are home to a rotating crew of astronauts and cosmonauts plus a host of ongoing experiments. While the ISS only gets into the news every now and then, interesting things are happening there daily.

Right now three astronauts – two American and one Canadian – are on duty up there along with three cosmonauts from Russia. This video is a weekly update showing what they did last week. The main work has been preparing for the arrival of the Dragon spacecraft, which will bring supplies and take some completed experiments and waste back to Earth.

Besides that, the crew has been conducting experiments, doing maintenance work on their spacesuits, troubleshooting a partial communications failure, training with the robotic arm, and answering questions from the public back on Earth.

The three astronauts even got a break for Presidents Day. I didn’t know they got days off up there. I wonder what they do? Stare out the window a lot, I bet.

The weekly update gets uploaded every Friday and there are daily updates throughout the week. You can followed them on the ISS website.

For more about this giant orbital laboratory take this video tour of the International Space Station.

SpaceX Mission Viewing Available Live

Spacex

The first SpaceX mission to resupply the International Space Station (ISS) happens October 7, 2012. The flight begins a series of missions to deliver and return cargo to the ISS under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract aboard the privately run Dragon spacecraft.

SpaceX’s Dragon will bring 1,000 pounds of supplies to the six person Expedition 33 crew aboard the ISS. Those astronauts will load us a robotic arm to grapple Dragon, attach it to the ISS then load an estimated 730 pounds of scientific materials and 504 pounds of space station hardware to be returned to Earth.

NASA’s goal with the Commercial Crew Development Program is “to accelerate the availability of U.S. commercial crew transportation capabilities and reduce the gap in American human spaceflight capability. Through this activity, NASA also may be able to spur economic growth as potential new space markets are created,” the space agency said in a press release.Florida’s Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is offering the public an opportunity to view this night launch from the NASA Causeway with a limited number of Special Access Passes that can be purchased for $20 plus tax, in addition to admission. Bus boarding will begin at 5:30 p.m. EDT for transportation to the NASA Causeway.

Launch viewing is also available from Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, including live mission control commentary, and is included with regular admission. The night launch is scheduled for 8:34 p.m. EDT from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

In other SpaceX news, earlier this month SpaceX’s Grasshopper vertical takeoff and landing test vehicle (VTVL) took its first test flight hop from the company’s rocket testing facility in McGregor, Texas, shown in this video:




The short hop of approximately 6 feet is a major milestone for Grasshopper, part of a reusable first stage for SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. As seen in the video, “Grasshopper” is a Falcon 9 first stage, a Merlin-1D engine, and four steel landing legs along with a a steel support structure.

SpaceX is developing vehicles that are fully and rapidly reusable in line with a NASA goal of reducing cost and increasing the efficiency of spaceflight.

Grasshopper is expected to test out hovering at about 100 feet in the next several months.

[Flickr photo by FlyingSinger]

Future Of Space Travel Is Here, Next Month Anyway

Tony stark space travelIf all goes according to plan, privately owned, space travel company SpaceX will send an unmanned capsule, launched from its own Falcon rocket, to dock with the International Space Station on April 30. It will be the first time a privately owned spaceship docks with a space station in orbit and it will mark a new era of private, manned space travel.

Under the watchful eye of NASA, the program might quickly get the United States back in space, while being mindful of budgetary concerns.

NASA‘s International Space Station program, along with our international partners, will take a look at the readiness of both the station and SpaceX for the mission,” NASA officials said, according to an article in Forbes. “If all is go, then SpaceX will be given a green light for an April 30 launch.”

Called the Commercial Crew Development Program, NASA’s goal in a round of grants last year was “to accelerate the availability of U.S. commercial crew transportation capabilities and reduce the gap in American human spaceflight capability. Through this activity, NASA also may be able to spur economic growth as potential new space markets are created,” the space agency said in a press release at the time.The lion’s share of those grants, $92 million, went to Boeing for development of their front-runner CST-100 spacecraft that uses existing materials and technology that is safe and affordable. The CST-100 is planned to carry up to seven people or a combination of people and cargo and is to be compatible with a variety of existing expendable launch vehicles. That vehicle is slated to fly in 2015, following two test flights earlier that year.

SpaceX began work on that concept too. Their version, called Dragon, is slated to fly next month.

The seven-seat Dragon spaceship will be unmanned for April’s operation, but the next goal for SpaceX is to send a crew to the International Space Station so NASA does not have to rely on Russian technology, currently priced at about $400 million per ride. Dragon costs about $115 million.

“My vision is for a fully reusable rocket transport system between Earth and Mars that is able to re-fuel on Mars – this is very important – so you don’t have to carry the return fuel when you go there,” SpaceX (and PayPal) founder Elon Musk told the BBC.


Flickr photo by mr.skeleton