Friday Rocket Blast To Be Streamed Live

rocket

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-


Celebrate MarsFest In Death Valley National Park This Weekend

MarsFest takes place in Death Valley this weekendDeath Valley National Park may look otherworldly at times but this weekend it will actually play host to an event that is definitely out of this world.

The second annual MarsFest will take place in the park starting Friday, March 1, running through Sunday, March 3. The event is designed to allow scientists and space enthusiasts to interact with one another as they jointly explore the possibilities of space exploration, something that Death Valley has played a crucial role in for decades.

Because of the extreme environments and conditions that exist in the Valley, it has long served as a testing ground for new gear and equipment for NASA. The park is often used to simulate hostile alien environments such as those founds on the surface of Mars. In fact, many of the instruments that are currently in use on the Curiosity Rover were first put through their paces in Death Valley. Attendees of MarsFest will get to see just how NASA uses Death Valley as a proving ground before sending their multi-million dollar equipment into space.

The three-day festival has a full schedule of events on tap, including field trips to a variety of locations inside the park, guest lectures from scientists and guided hikes to remote locations. A daylong expo with informational booths will provide demonstrations of some of the delicate instruments used by NASA, while panel discussions on the future of space travel should prove enlightening as well.

If you’re interested in attending MarsFest 2013 click here for more details.

[Photo Credit: NASA]

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.

Private Firm Announces Commercial Flights To The Moon For 2020

Commercial space flights to the moon could begin by 2020A new start-up calling itself The Golden Spike Company has announced plans to commence commercial space flights to the moon beginning in 2020. But before you reach for your credit card and start booking your first flight, there are a few things you should know. The business is primarily aimed at nations – not private individuals – and it comes with the hefty price tag of $1.5 billion.

Golden Spike says that they have already had a number of inquiries from several interested countries and one wealthy individual. They believe there is a market for the program, even if motivations are more centered on prestige rather than scientific research. The $1.5 billion cost puts it out of the realm of possibility even for many nations, but considering that the price is for a round-trip flight for two, perhaps we’ll see interested parties actually splitting the costs.

Of course, with the current state of commercial space flight efforts, it would be easy to dismiss Golden Spike’s claims of providing commercial travel to the moon in just seven years time. But the company is made up of spaceflight experts and former NASA employees, which does give the effort some level of legitimacy. Still, I wouldn’t hold them too closely to that 2020 date. They have an awful lot of research and development to conduct before they ever get this venture off the ground.

[Photo Credit: NASA]


Space Shuttle Now Officially A Tourist Attraction

space shuttle

Space Shuttle Atlantis arrived this week at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex to begin life as the star of a $100 million exhibit called the Shuttle Launch Experience, expected to open in July 2013. It was the historic final journey of a space shuttle orbiter, signaling the beginning of life after space for the shuttle fleet.

“We think visitors to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex will be awed and inspired by how they will see and experience Atlantis,” said Bill Moore, chief operating officer of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in a statement.

Atlantis completed its historic final journey led by 30 former astronauts who joined the orbiter for the final leg of the trip. Parked in front of the last open wall of the 90,000-square-foot exhibit building, Atlantis will be encapsulated in a protective wrap while that wall is completed.

Once inside the visitor’s complex, Atlantis will be raised 36 feet off the ground then rotated about 43 degrees to mimic spaceflight. On display, its payload bay doors will be open and the robotic arm extended.

Along with Atlantis, the Shuttle Launch Experience will have over 60 interactive, immersive exhibits about the entire shuttle program including a 363-foot-long Apollo/Saturn V rocket and other unique space artifacts.

At the entrance to the Shuttle Launch Experience, guests will walk past a full-size external fuel tank and two solid rocket boosters. Strategically positioned, a silhouette of the orbiter is attached to show guests the exact size and placement of the 184-foot-tall space shuttle.

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex opens daily at 9 a.m. Admission includes the Kennedy Space Center Tour, the new Shuttle Launch Experience, 3-D IMAX space films, Astronaut Encounter, Exploration Space: Explorers Wanted and the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, featuring historic spacecraft and personal astronaut memorabilia. For more information, call 877-313-2610 or visit www.KennedySpaceCenter.com.

Right now and through November 12, the space center is offering a sneak peek, up-close and personal look at Atlantis as part of any tour. During scheduled times, a Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex tour guide will take guests through the construction zone and allow guests to take pictures and pose within the secured area.

NASA has spread around the tourism wealth by positioning remaining orbiters around the country. Enterprise is at the Sea-Air-Space Museum in New York City, Discovery is at
Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum in Virginia and Endeavour is at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, California.




[Photo Credit: NASA photo]