Jul 17, 2009
The biggest space party in history just got under way, as space shuttle Endeavour linked up with the International Space Station at 1:47 P.M. (Eastern Daylight Time), placing 13 people in orbit together—the most ever in one spot.
Endeavour's crew of seven met the newly expanded space station crew, which recently doubled in size to six, when the hatches between the two spacecraft opened two hours later.
Before the docking, the space shuttle performed a backflip so that ISS astronauts could photograph its underside heat shield from up close. Those images will be analyzed by mission managers on the ground, but a preliminary scan of the shielding yesterday did not reveal any worrisome damage, NASA said, despite the fact that the shuttle was struck by falling debris during ascent.
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
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.
May 1, 2009 | 8
The space shuttle, the iconic orbiter that has been at the core of NASA's manned spaceflight program for decades, is headed into retirement next year, a shutdown process that will likely mean thousands of job losses. The formal phaseout process resumed today after a temporary hold initiated last year to give the incoming president time to reconsider the shuttle's fate. But the Obama administration has not intervened, and NASA announced that about 160 pink slips will be handed out today with many more to come over the next few months.
"Between [Friday] and the end of September, we will reduce the program by about 900 people," program manager John Shannon said at a news conference yesterday, as reported by the Orlando Sentinel. "They are primarily manufacturing-team members. We have delivered the last pieces of hardware that those team members produce, and we don't keep them on the rolls." According to the Sentinel, the initial layoffs will come mostly from the ranks of contractors who build the shuttle's fuel tanks and rocket boosters; those projects are headed by Lockheed Martin and ATK.
Mar 17, 2009
The space shuttle Discovery is moving closer to the International Space Station (ISS) as it prepares for a planned docking to the ISS at 5:12:46 P.M. (Eastern Daylight Time). According to NASA, the shuttle was 1,310 miles (2,100 kilometers) out as of 11:54 A.M. and was gaining on the ISS by about 600 miles (965 kilometers) with every 90-minute orbit. A series of maneuvers and thruster firings will ease Discovery into position for rendezvous.
Discovery launched without event Sunday after myriad delays stemming first from concerns about gaseous hydrogen valves aboard the orbiter and then from an unrelated hydrogen leak at the launch pad. A further wrinkle arose yesterday when a wayward piece of space junk headed toward the ISS had NASA considering an avoidance maneuver for the station. But the space agency later determined that the object would sail safely past. (It did indeed pass without incident early this morning.) The shuttle mission is delivering materials, including a replacement unit for a urine-to-water recycling system and additional solar arrays, to double the station's crew capacity from three to six.
Sep 8, 2008 | 4
NASA's chief is fuming over what he calls a "jihad" by the White House to retire the space shuttle and delay the development of a new moon rocket.
In an Aug. 18 e-mail obtained by the Orlando Sentinel, which reported its contents yesterday, NASA administrator Mike Griffin says he is "as pessimistic as it is possible to be" about the space program.
When he took the helm at NASA in 2005, Griffin planned to retire the shuttle in 2010 to free up money for the Constellation program — a project set to build over the next three years a new generation of space vehicles that includes the Ares moon rocket and Orion crew capsule, according to the Sentinel. But budget constraints have extended that timeline to 2015.
Jul 16, 2008 | 3
If you're ever injured on a spacecraft, don't worry: hospitals already have a code to enter on your chart—it's ICD-E845.0. Unless, that is, you happened to be weightless at the time. That's E928.0. Prompted by a random tidbit making the rounds on medical blogs, the Wall Street Journal Health Blog dug up some context:
ICD (International Classification of Diseases) codes are the basic international health codes that exist for just about everything (as this spaceship thing suggests). They’re used both for billing purposes and for tracking trends in public health.
It turns out that just about everything has a code, from bite of a non-venomous arthropod (E906.4) to accident by paintball gun (E922.5). There's a bunch of codes for injuries from terrorist attacks, of course. Check this CDC page for an annotated list.
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