Aug 24, 2009
With each nighttime space shuttle launch, residents of the U.S.'s eastern seaboard have a chance, weather permitting, to see the orbiter climbing into the sky. The launch of space shuttle Discovery, scheduled for 1:36 A.M. (Eastern Daylight Time) Tuesday, is no exception and may provide the last such opportunity before the space shuttle program is terminated.
Over at SPACE.com, Joe Rao of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City has viewing tips for various regions of the coast in the seconds and minutes after liftoff. SPACE.com also has a map of the areas from which the shuttle should be visible during ascent, assuming clear skies and an unobstructed vantage point.
Aug 20, 2009 | 7
To quote Elton John, it's lonely out in space.
Luckily, the residents of the International Space Station (ISS) have an entertainment library to keep them company during their stays, which can be several months long. But some have taken issue with the cultural diet on board the ISS, complaining that our astronauts deserve a better reminder that there's intelligent life back on Earth.
The story began two years ago, when the Web site governmentattic.org made a seemingly benign request of the feds—asking for a list of the books, movies, TV shows and music kept onboard the station. The site, a repository of U.S. government files obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, received the list (pdf) from NASA in April 2008 and posted it on the Web.
Jul 15, 2009
After many false starts, one of the final remaining space shuttle missions got under way this evening with the liftoff of the Endeavour orbiter from Kennedy nasSpace Center in Florida. The shuttle blasted off at 6:03 P.M. (Eastern Daylight Time) on a mission to the International Space Station (ISS), after hydrogen leaks twice delayed June launch attempts and bad weather thwarted three liftoff opportunities earlier this month.
Only two past shuttle missions, both launching on the seventh attempt, endured more delays.
Jul 13, 2009 | 19
The International Space Station has been a colossal undertaking among five space agencies whose final price tag will likely be in the vicinity of $100 billion dollars. (The U.S. construction costs alone are estimated to be $31 billion.) Just this year the station finally reached its full capacity of six crew members, but it is still under construction—space shuttle Endeavour sits at the ready today to deliver to the ISS pieces of a Japanese experiment module.
But the ISS program manager for NASA is warning that without a change in policy, all that work will go plunging into the ocean in 2016, just six years after the scheduled completion of the station. "In the first quarter of 2016, we'll prep and deorbit the spacecraft," Michael Suffredini told the Washington Post. The ISS's long-term funding from NASA terminates in 2015, the newspaper notes.
Jun 29, 2009 | 1
The International Space Station (ISS) is a big bird, boasting nearly an acre of solar panels along its backbone. Those panels make the ISS reflective enough so that the station can sometimes be seen from the ground as it passes roughly 220 miles (350 kilometers) above. But where and when to look?
Enter Twisst, a new service that alerts space buffs on Twitter when the ISS is passing overhead. The service combines location information from a user's Twitter profile with data from Heavens Above, an online repository of satellite and spacecraft orbital information. (Twisst's co-creator, Govert Schilling, is an occasional freelance contributor to Scientific American.)
Jun 13, 2009 | 1
The launch of space shuttle Endeavour from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, which had been scheduled for 7:17 A.M. (Eastern Daylight Time) today, has been postponed due to a leak of hydrogen at the launch site, NASA announced early this morning. With days needed for repair, the soonest available launch opportunity for the orbiter is now June 17, but the space agency plans to launch a pair of lunar spacecraft that day from nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, which poses a scheduling conflict.
In a statement, NASA said the Endeavour launch to the International Space Station was "on hold due to a leak associated with the gaseous hydrogen venting system outside the external fuel tank." A similar leak postponed the launch of space shuttle Discovery in March, which eventually lifted off safely four days later.
Jun 12, 2009
Tomorrow morning's launch of space shuttle Endeavour to the International Space Station looks promising, as mission managers are reporting no problems and the weather appears to be cooperating. The shuttle is scheduled to lift off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 7:17 A.M. (Eastern Daylight Time).
The 16-day Endeavour mission will deliver a Japanese science module to the ISS, including an exposed "porch" that will allow experiments to be carried out in the extreme conditions of space.
The space station, which saw its population double to six for the first time late last month, will host a whopping 13 astronauts from five countries (Russia, the U.S., Japan, Canada and Belgium) once Endeavour docks with its seven-person crew.
May 28, 2009
The International Space Station is about to get a lot more international. With a three-person craft en route, the space station's permanent population will double to six tomorrow for the first time. The arrival of the new crew members will also mark the first time that the five space agencies from around the globe that participate in the station program have been represented at once.
The space agencies have been preparing for the expanded crew for some time, installing additional solar panels to boost the station's available power and installing (and then repairing) a fluid-recycling system that reprocesses urine into drinking water.
Apr 15, 2009 | 3
Stephen Colbert did not get his name emblazoned on a new node for the International Space Station (ISS)—but he did get an ISS treadmill named in his honor.
Astronaut and ISS veteran Sunita Williams appeared last night on the Colbert Report to unveil the name selected by NASA for the forthcoming ISS Node 3, a module that will house life-support equipment, a viewing cupola and a control station for a robotic arm. NASA decided not to go with "Colbert," the winner of an online poll the space agency conducted to help select a name for the node. (Colbert had urged viewers to write in his name, inciting a surge of votes that vaulted him into the top slot.)
Apr 14, 2009 | 2
The long-simmering standoff between Stephen Colbert and NASA comes to an end tonight, when the space agency unveils its name for a new International Space Station (ISS) module on the Colbert Report.
To recap: NASA is expanding the ISS later this year with the addition of its Node 3, a module that will house life-support systems and a robotic-arm command station with a panoramic observatory. But Node 3 isn't the snappiest moniker, so the space agency set up an online poll where people could vote for their fave name from a list or write in a candidate of their own.
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