Aug 19, 2009
NASA has decided to proceed with a shuttle launch to the International Space Station (ISS) next week, having concluded that insulation foam losses from the external fuel tank, which occurred during the two previous shuttle launches, did not pose an unacceptable risk to the upcoming mission.
Space shuttle Discovery is set to lift off early Tuesday morning from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on a 13-day mission to the ISS. Discovery will deliver to the station new science gear and additional life-support equipment, as well as Stephen Colbert's namesake exercise device, the COLBERT treadmill.
There was much concern about the safety of the foam insulation that coats the shuttle's external fuel tank. Orbiters in both a May mission to the Hubble Space Telescope and last month's mission to the ISS showed dings from falling pieces of foam during ascent. A large-scale foam loss significantly damaged the heat shield of space shuttle Columbia in 2003, and the shuttle broke up on reentry, killing all seven crewmembers.
Jul 13, 2009
NASA will make a fifth try at launching space shuttle Endeavour this evening, after storms twice delayed attempts over the weekend. The shuttle's mission to the International Space Station (ISS) was originally slated to begin in June but was twice postponed that month due to leaks in a venting system that carries hydrogen gas away from the launch pad.
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.
Apr 8, 2009
Two astronauts and a space tourist successfully returned to Earth this morning in their Soyuz capsule after spending time on the International Space Station (ISS).
NASA astronaut Mike Fincke, who spent 178 days in orbit, Russian cosmonaut Yury Lonchakov, who was on the ISS for more than 200 days, and tourist Charles Simonyi touched down at 11:16 local time (3:16 a.m. EDT) in Kazakhstan, NASA said.
During their ISS stints, Fincke, the Expedition 18 commander, and flight engineer Lonchakov conducted experiments on the effects of long space journeys on the human body and putting out fires in microgravity.
Mar 28, 2009 | 1
Space shuttle Discovery touched down safely at 3:14 P.M. (Eastern Daylight Time) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, completing its 13-day mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The landing time was pushed back from 1:39 P.M. due to uncertain weather at the landing site earlier in the day.
Discovery delivered a 45-foot (14-meter) truss segment to the ISS, completing the station's 335-foot (102-meter) "backbone," as well as the final set of solar arrays needed to power the station once its crew swells from three to six in the coming months. The ISS now boasts 38,400 square feet (3,570 square meters) of U.S. solar panels, nearly a full acre, generating about 120 kilowatts of electricity. (Unlike solar-powered buildings here on Earth, the space station doesn't need to worry about cloud cover.)
Mar 24, 2009 | 6
Need to use the john? Why not use the Colbert instead? Future astronauts may have that option, as NASA is reportedly considering naming a toilet on the International Space Station (ISS) after the comedian.
A NASA poll to suggest a name for a new ISS node was flooded with write-in votes for "Colbert" after the Colbert Report host urged his viewers to stuff the virtual ballot box. ("We have a great relationship," he told Colbert Nation, "you love naming things after me, and I love telling you to do it.") When voting ended Friday, Colbert had beaten "Serenity," the leader among non-write-ins, by more than 40,000 votes, according to space.com. (Colbert launched a similar crusade this past winter called "Operation Humble Kanye," seeking to catapult his own A Colbert Christmas album over West's number-one-ranked 808s & Heartbreak on the iTunes Music Store charts.)
Mar 20, 2009
That’s because the wings’ panels, which will provide additional electricity to run science experiments and daily operations on the ISS, could get stuck together, according to the Associated Press.
To prevent that from happening, the wings will be rolled out in stages via remote control; as the sun “bakes” the panels, their potential “stiction” should decline, NASA says in its update today. One array was to deploy to 49 percent at 10:48 a.m. EDT, “baking” for 45 minutes before being fully deployed; the other will deploy to 49 percent at 12:28 p.m., and extended the rest of the way 45 minutes later.
Mar 16, 2009
Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) may have to maneuver the station to evade flying junk as the space shuttle Discovery closes in for docking. The warning comes just four days after the crew was forced to take refuge in an escape capsule as a last-minute risk of debris strike was discovered.
Like last week's chunk of debris, which passed without incident as the three ISS members huddled in the station's Soyuz capsule, tomorrow's threatening object is not related to last month's collision between a Russian satellite and a commercial communications satellite.
Mar 12, 2009
The space shuttle Discovery is still on the ground this morning, after NASA postponed last night’s scheduled launch because of a hydrogen leak. Liftoff is now tentatively scheduled for Sunday night.
The mission was to have dropped off the final pieces of the International Space Station's (ISS) solar arrays that capture energy from the sun, and parts for its urine recycling system that would expand the ISS’s capacity from three to six crew members. It was sidelined after engineers discovered a leak in the gaseous hydrogen venting system outside of the external fuel tank. That system carries excess hydrogen away from the launch pad, and an accumulation of gas could have caused an explosion at launch.
Feb 4, 2009
NASA announced yesterday that the launch of space shuttle Discovery, which had been slated for February 12, will be delayed for at least a week.* The space agency said it needs more time to ensure that the valves controlling the flow of hydrogen gas into the external fuel tank do not pose a hazard. Engineers discovered that one of those valves had been damaged when another shuttle, Endeavour, lifted off in November—and NASA wants to find out why that happened and whether a similar occurrence could endanger the mission and crew.
"We want to make sure we've got this right," NASA associate administrator for space operations William Gerstenmaier told the Associated Press. "So we think standing down for a little bit of time and letting the folks do a little more work is a good thing."
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