__new__() in python

By : Akshar Raaj

Lately I started looking into Django code and wish to write about internals of Django. I started with Django models and will be writing about it soon. For understanding how Django models work, I had to understand what metaclasses are and how metaclasses work. Metaclasses use method "__new__" and so I looked at what "__new__" does.

As __new__ is a static method, we will see a lttle bit about static methods and then __new__ in detail.

  1. Understanding static methods.

  2. Understanding method "__new__" of any class. We will see how to override method __new__ in a class.

Also, I will be trying all the code we write here on Ipython and I suggest you to try everything on Ipython as well.

Static methods

A little bit about instance methods first. Let's write a class.

In [1]: class A(object):
   ...:     def met(self, a, b):
   ...:         print a, b
   ...:

In this case, met() is an instance method. So, it is expected that we pass an instance of A as the first argument to met.

Let's create an object and call met() on the created object and pass two arguments to met().

In [4]: obj = A()

In [5]: obj.met(1,2)
1 2                #output

What happened here?

When we called met(), we passed two arguments although met() expects three argument as per its definition. When we wrote obj.met(1, 2), interpreter took care of sending instance obj as the first argument to met() and 1 and 2 were passed as second and third arguments respectively.

Let's try calling met() without an instance or in other words let's call the method using class.

In [6]: A.met(1,2)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
TypeError                                 Traceback (most recent call last)
/home/akshar/branding_git/netconference/<ipython-input-6-e8b323dba928> in <module>()
----> 1 A.met(1,2)

TypeError: unbound method met() must be called with A instance as first argument (got int instance instead)

We defined met() as an instance method of class A, so it expected an instance of A as the first argument. As its very clear from the error, met() expected an instance of A as the first argument but got an 'int' instead.

If we pass an instance of A as the first argument, it will work as expected.

In [7]: A.met(obj, 3, 4)
3 4                  #output

Notice that we called the method on class A and not on an instance of A. But we took care of sending an instance of A as the first argument to met() and it worked as expected.

Let's see static method now.

In [8]: class B(object):
   ...:     @staticmethod
   ...:     def met(a, b):
   ...:         print a,b
   ...:

What does @staticmethod above the method definition do?

Its a decorator which changes a method to static method. It means the method is no longer an instance method, which means that the method does not expect its first argument to be an instance. So, for our method definition, the method does not expect its first argument to be an instance of B. Even if we call the method on an instance of B, current instance will not be passed as the first argument to this method, since its a static method. For instance method that we saw earlier the current instance was passed as the first argument.

In [9]: B.met(5,6)
5 6                     #output

Here we were able to call the method on the class and were not required to pass an instance of B as the first argument.

Let's call this method on an instance.

In [10]: b = B()

In [11]: b.met(5,6)
5 6

Here we called the method on an instance and passed two arguments. Since its a static method, the current instance i.e b was not passed as the first argument to met(). Had it not been a static method, current instance would have been passed as first argument, 5 as second argument and 6 as third argument.

Understanding method __new__ of a class. We will also see how to override method __new__ in a class.

First let's see a little bit about __init__

In [13]: class A(object):
   ....:     def __init__(self, a, b):
   ....:         print "init gets called"
   ....:         print "self is", self
   ....:         self.a, self.b = a,b
   ....:

In __init__, we print something as we enter the method which is to validate that __init__ has been called. Then we print the first argument which is self and then we perform some assignments. __init__ is an instance method and expects the first argument to be an instance.

Let's call the class passing it two arguments. Keep in mind the part call the class, we are going to again use it in next few lines. If you have any confusion about the part calling the class, it will be clear in next few lines.

In [16]: a = A(1,2)
init gets called                                    #output
self is <__main__.A object at 0x3357210>            #output

Notice the second line of output which is "self is <__main__.A object at 0x3357210>". As apparent from second line of output, when __init__ is entered, object/instance has already been created by that time. Its only the assignment which is done in __init__, althought you could do some other stuff as well. But __init__ doesn't create the instance. __init__ receives the created instance as the first argument.

What creates the object?

Method __new__() creates the object.

What is __new__?

  1. __new__ is a static method which creates an instance. We will see the method signature soon. One reason i could think of having __new__ as a static method is because the instance has not been created yet when __new__ is called. So, they could not have had it as an instance method.
  2. __new__ gets called when you call the class. Call the class means issuing the statement "a=A(1,2)". Here A(1,2) is like calling the class. A is a class and we put two parenthesis in front of it and put some arguments between the parenthesis. So, its like "calling the class" similar to calling a method.
  3. __new__ must return the created object.
  4. Only when __new__ returns the created instance then __init__ gets called. If __new__ does not return an instance then __init__ would not be called. Remember __new__ is always called before __init__.
  5. __new__ gets passed all the arguments that we pass while calling the class. Also, it gets passed one extra argument that we will see soon.

How was the instance created in the last example when we didn't define __new__?

class A extends from object(Here we mean the class named object) i.e subclasses from object. object defines a method __new__, so A gets this method from object since its extending object. This inherited __new__ created the instance of A.

Method signature of __new__

__new__ receives the class whose instance need to be created as the first argument. This statement could be a little confusing, just continue reading and see the next example and again read it after seeing the example, it will be clear. The other arguments received by __new__ are same as what were passed while calling the class.

So, __new__ receives all the arguments that we pass while calling the class. Also, it receives one extra argument. This extra argument is the class whose instance need to be created and it will be received as first argument by __new__.

So, signature of __new__ could be written as:

__new__(cls, *args, **kwargs)

Let's see an example.

In [22]: class A(object):
   ....:     def __new__(cls, *args, **kwargs):
   ....:         print cls
   ....:         print "args is", args
   ....:         print "kwargs is", kwargs
   ....:

Here we override __new__ that we inherit from the superclass. We are printing all the arguments that this method receives so that we can check what gets passed to __new__. Let's try to create an instance of A by calling the class.

In [23]: a=A()
<class '__main__.A'>                              #output
args is ()                                        #output
kwargs is {}                                      #output

As we mentioned earlier, __new__ gets called when we call the class. As is apparent from the output __new__ was called and it printed three lines of output.

First line of output prints the first argument received by __new__. As we can see, it is class A itself. We tried to create an instance of A and __new__ of A received class A itself as the first argument. This is what we meant when we said "__new__ receives the class whose instance need to be created as the first argument". Now go back to the section "Method signature of __new__" and read it again.

While calling the class we did not pass any arguments. So our output shows that args and kwargs did not receive anything.

You can verify that all the arguments passed while calling the class gets sent to __new__. Just call the class passing it some arguments.

In [25]: a=A(1,2,named=5)
<class '__main__.A'>                              #output
args is (1, 2)                                    #output
kwargs is {'named': 5}                            #output

So, whatever arguments we passed while calling the class were passed to __new__ and were received by args and kwargs in __new__.

Let's check whether an object really gets created with how we have currently overridden __new__.

In [26]: a = A(1,2)
<class '__main__.A'>                              #output
args is (1, 2)                                    #output
kwargs is {}                                      #output

In [27]: print a
None                                              #output

We tried to create an instance and then tried printing the instance. But an instance of A was not created as apparent from the last print statement which printed None.

Why did this happen?

As we know if we don't return any value from a method, it implicitly returns None. Under the section "What is __new__", we mentioned that __new__ must return the created instance. Here we did not return the created instance from __new__, so None was implicitly returned and was assigned to a.

Let's combine __new__ and __init__.

In [29]: class A(object):
   ....:     def __new__(cls, *args, **kwargs):
   ....:         print cls
   ....:         print args
   ....:         print kwargs
   ....:     def __init__(self, a, b):
   ....:         print "init gets called"
   ....:         print "self is", self
   ....:         self.a, self.b = a, b
   ....:

Let's try to create an instance of A.

In [31]: a=A(1,2)
<class '__main__.A'>                              #output
(1, 2)                                            #output
{}                                                #output

As we mentioned earlier when a class gets called, first __new__ is called. Only when __new__ returns an instance then __init__ is called.

In our previous example __new__ did not return an instance. So __init__ was not called. Had __init__ been called we would have seen the print statements that we have inside __init__.

Also since __new__ did not return an instance, a will still be None. Verify that.

In [32]: print a
None                                              #output

Let's redefine the class to make it proper. We should return an instance from __new__, so that __init__ gets called and we get the desired behaviour.

In case we don't override __new__, __new__ of parent class creates the instance and then __init__ gets called. In case we are overriding __new__, we should call the __new__ of parent class to get the created instance. However if you know how object creation works at the low level and you can implement it in your overridden __new__, you don't need to call parent __new__ to get the created instance. I don't know such details of how object creation work and will use the parent __new__ to get the created instance.

Once we get the created instance we can perform any extra operations we wish before returning the instance from __new__ method.

For demonstration purpose, let us take a weird example where we need to add an attribute named 'created_at' to the created instance. For our case lets consider it needs to be done inside the __new__ method, althought we could have done it inside __init__.

In [33]: import datetime

In [35]: class A(object):
   ....:     def __new__(cls, *args, **kwargs):
   ....:         new_instance = object.__new__(cls, *args, **kwargs)
   ....:         setattr(new_instance, 'created_at', datetime.datetime.now())
   ....:         return new_instance
   ....:     def __init__(self, a, b):
   ....:         print "inside init"
   ....:         self.a, self.b = a, b
   ....:

In the first line of __new__, we called the __new__ of parent class to get the created instance. __new__ of parent class should be passed the same arguments that we received in the overridden __new__. __new__ of parent class i.e __new__ of class object knows how to create an instance and it returns the created instance.

In the next line, we used inbuilt method setattr() to set an attribute 'created_at' on the newly created instance. The value we set for this attribute is the current time. This line is equivalent to writing new_instance.created_at=datetime.datetime.now().

In the final line we returned the newly created instance. Since we are returning an instance from __new__, __init__ will be called passing it whatever arguments were used in the class call. Let's verify this.

In [36]: obj1 = A(1,2)
inside init                                    #output

This statement suggests that __init__ was called. Let's print the created instance.

In [37]: obj1
Out[37]: <__main__.A at 0x3357390>

Notice that earlier when we were not returning anything from __new__ and were trying to print it, we were getting output as None. But this time the output shows that obj1 refers to an instance of A.

We can verify that obj1 has an attribute 'created_at' and __init__ was properly executed by printing the three attributes of obj1.

In [37]: print obj1.created_at
2012-06-09 22:44:30.376914                    #output

In [38]: print obj1.a, obj1.b
1 2                                           #output

Let's see our final example.

In [60]: class B(object):
   ....:     pass
   ....:

In [61]: class A(object):
   ....:     def __new__(cls, *args, **kwargs):
   ....:         new_instance = object.__new__(B, *args, **kwargs)
   ....:         return new_instance
   ....:

Pay attention to first line of A's new. Instead of passing cls as the first argument to object.__new__, we pass class B as first argument. Let's see what happens in such case.

In [62]: a = A()

In [63]: print a
<__main__.B object at 0x7f912c036750>                    #Output. Tried creating an instance of A but got an instance of B

We tried to create an instance of A. But when we printed it, we realise that an instance of B has been created.

This happened because we passed class B as the first argument to object.__new__. This shows that whatever class we pass to superclass' __new__, an instance of that class will be created.

Remember __new__ receives the class whose instance need to be created as first argument. So for any __new__, the first argument (which is cls for our case) will always refer to the class inside which __new__ is defined. So, for our case, cls will be class A.

Here we wanted to create an instance of A. So, class A must be passed as first argument to object.__new__. Inside __new__ of class A, cls refers to class A. So, we need to pass cls as first argument to object.__new__.

That's why if we want proper behaviour we need to pass the same arguments to the superclass' __new__ as it was received by the overridden __new__.

We can make that single line change in A's __new__ and our code will behave as expected.

In [64]: class A(object):
   ....:     def __new__(cls, *args, **kwargs):
   ....:         new_instance = object.__new__(cls, *args, **kwargs)
   ....:         return new_instance
   ....:

In [65]: a=A()

In [66]: print a
<__main__.A object at 0x7f912c0368d0>                    #Output. We got an instance of A

That was all about method __new__. Hopefully next post would be about metaclasses and there we can see some more useful uses of __new__.

Hope you liked the post.


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Comments

Matthew Schinckel

Note: `__new__` is not a static method, it is a classmethod.

This is somewhere between a static method and an instance method. It means the first argument would be the class object.

It also (IIRC) means you can use `super` within `__new__`, and things will work as expected.

commmenttor
Akshar Raaj 11th June, 2012

@Matthew:

As i could understand it, __new__ is a static method.
Please see:
http://docs.python.org/reference/datamodel.html#object.__new__

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/9092072/why-isnt-new-in-python-new-style-classes-a-class-method

http://www.python.org/download/releases/2.2/descrintro/#__new__

We can use super within new. We could have written "new_instance = super(A, cls).__new__(cls, *args, **kwargs)"
in place of
"new_instance = object.__new__(cls, *args, **kwargs)".

For class methods, calling the method on the class implicitly sends the current class as the first argument. An example:

class A(object):
@classmethod
def met(cls, a):
print a

We can call this method on the class passing it only one argument and the class will implicitly be sent as the first argument.

A.met(5)

This works.

But when we override __new__, we have to explicitly send cls received in the overridden __new__ as the first argument. I mean we need to write:

super(A, cls).__new__(cls, *args, **kwargs)

Had it been a class method, this would have worked:

super(A, cls).__new__(*args, **kwargs)

because the class on which it were called would have been implicitly passed as first argument since it were a class method. But it doesn't work.

That's why i feel its a static method.

Let me know if i am wrong somewhere.

commmenttor
navaneethan

This is the fantastic explanation..I admired..Keep going :)

commmenttor
Matthew Schinckel

@Akshar: Yes, it would seem I was wrong :)

The funny thing is I had been doing stuff with `__new__` (and `__metaclass__`) recently, and had written code which uses the correct syntax (see http://schinckel.net/2012/06/11/metaclass-magic-registry-pattern/), where you need to explicitly pass in the class object.

Regards.

commmenttor
Oskar 16th June, 2012

Great article! Can't wait for the next one.

commmenttor
Luke Lee

Great post. I linked/commented on it here, http://codrspace.com/durden/good-discussion-of-python-instance-static-methods/.

Is there a reason you chose to use setattr() instead of the 'normal' assignment in your overridden __new__? I know you mentioned these are equivalents in the article. I was just curious of there was some type of advantage to using setattr at this point in object creation etc.?

commmenttor
Akshar Raaj 20th June, 2012

@Luke

No, at this point there is no advantage in using setattr() instead of normal assignments. We could have used normal assignment.

However you may find cases where its not possible to get done with normal assignment and you will be forced to use setattr.

commmenttor
Vishal

Painstakingly detailed. Loved it.

In the following code, I don't see __init__ of class A and class B working.

Could you help me understand this problem?

#############################################

class B(object):
def __new__(cls, *args, **kwargs):
new_instance = object.__new__(cls, *args, **kwargs)
print "in Class B:"
print new_instance
return new_instance

def __init__(self, a):
print "Init of B"

def fun(self):
print "B: hello"

class A(object):
def __new__(cls, *args, **kwargs):
new_instance = object.__new__(B, *args, **kwargs)
print "in Class A:"
print new_instance
return new_instance

def __init__(self, a):
print "Init of A"

def fun(self):
print "A: hello"

class C(object):
def __new__(cls, *args, **kwargs):
new_instance = object.__new__(cls, *args, **kwargs)
return new_instance

def __init__(self):
print "Init of C"

obj = A(1)
obj.fun()

obj2 = C()

commmenttor
Akshar Raaj 7th July, 2012

@Vishal: Glad you liked it.

First, __init__ of B should be working fine. Please check it once more.

__init__ of A doesn't work. As you can see, inside __new__ of A, you are passing B as the first argument to object.__new__. So, the created instance i.e 'new_instance' is an instance of B. So, from __new__ of A, you are returning an instance of B. So, __init__ of A is not called. If you want __init__ of A to be called, you MUST return an instance of A from __new__
of A.
As you would be already knowing, if you change object.__new__(B, *args, **kwargs) inside __new__ of A to object.__new__(A, *args, **kwargs) it would work as you expect. You can also change it to object.__new__(cls, *args, **kwargs) since cls refers to A inside __new__ of A.

Since __new__ of A did not return an instance of A so __init__ of A was not called. Still an instance of B was created and returned from __new__ of A. So this created instance of B was assigned to variable obj. So, in next line when you try obj.fun(), fun() of B is called since obj refers to an instance of B.

Hope it helps you understand the problem.

commmenttor
foo 21st July, 2012

excellent explanation!

commmenttor
Zev Griner 3rd Oct., 2012

Thanks for your step-by-step explanation of the __new__ mechanics. Other docs keep talking about returning an instance but never explain where the instance comes from, nor how it gets associated with the subclass.

Is it correct to say that Python's way of creating a subclass instance is to simply create the instance at the highest super class level, associate it with the lowest subclass, assign attributes and methods at each super level and return the instance to the caller, so that as the instance filters downward, attributes and methods can get overridden at each level?

Thanks.

commmenttor
shiva 6th Dec., 2012

Pretty Good stuff and very useful to understand the basics

commmenttor
Kripasindhu Sarkar 20th Dec., 2012

Same thing happened to me. Started learning Django; got confused how the Models are working; bumped into metaclass; and them bumped into __new__.

Nice explanation dude!

commmenttor
testdomain

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commmenttor
Melissa 6th Aug., 2013

The exact explanation I was looking for! Thank you for taking the time to write this with such great detail and use of simple examples :)

commmenttor
Sahil Jamwal 3rd Oct., 2013

Ultimate explanation! That is what i was looking for.I am totally impressed.:)

commmenttor
Chris Kavanagh 25th Dec., 2013

Thanks so much for this post, it helped me greatly in understanding several points I was unclear of.

commmenttor
Yasin Gürhan

hi Akshar;

thank you for this case..

but i dont understand it :
codes :

>>> class A(object):
def __new__(cls,*args,**kwargs):
new_instance = object.__new__(cls,*args,**kwargs)
setattr(new_instance, 'created_at', datetime.datetime.now())
return new_instance
def __init__(self, a, b):
print("inside init")
self.a, self.b = a, b


>>> b=A(1,2)
Traceback (most recent call last):
File "<pyshell#15>", line 1, in
b=A(1,2)
File "<pyshell#14>", line 3, in __new__
new_instance = object.__new__(cls,*args,**kwargs)
TypeError: object() takes no parameters

or

b=A()
Traceback (most recent call last):
File "<pyshell#16>", line 1, in
b=A()
TypeError: __init__() missing 2 required positional arguments: 'a' and 'b'

what this reasons ?
please help me..

commmenttor
Yasin Gürhan

it is work but why?
what is different __new__ and _new_
i try _new_ in code and it work.. why?

class B(object):
def _new_(cls,*a,**b):
ne = object._new_(cls,*a,**b)
setattr(ne,"created at",datetime.datetime.now())
return ne
def __init__(self,x,y):
print("initteyiz")
self.x=x
self.y=y


>>> e=B(1,2)
initteyiz
>>> print(e)
<__main__.B object at 0x000000000337A518>

commmenttor
rajiv 10th March, 2014

nice one :) Good work!!

commmenttor
satish goda

Really well written tutorial. Thank you :)

commmenttor
Nilesh Sutar 12th May, 2014

Very well explained !!!
Just one query As __new__ method takes first argument as class whose instance needs to be created but you have wrote __new__ is static method. This is just confusing me :(.

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All three sites are predicted to be "no-go" and at least one is required for a launching to proceed.Hoping for the best, engineers are gearing up to pump a half-million gallons of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen into Discovery's external tank starting at 11:40 a.m. The three-hour procedure should be complete by around 2:40 p.m. NASA television coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. and the astronauts will begin strapping in around 6:15 p.m.Here are countdown highlights for the rest of the day (in EST):EST...........EVENT09:40:00 AM...Begin 2-hour built-in hold (T-minus 6 hours)09:50:00 AM...Safe-and-arm PIC test10:30:00 AM...Mission management team tanking meeting10:40:00 AM...External tank ready for fueling11:10:00 AM...Orbiter ready for fueling11:40:00 AM...Resume countdown (T-minus 6 hours)11:40:00 AM...Liquid oxygen, liquid hydrogen transfer line chilldown11:50:00 AM...Main propulsion system chill down11:50:00 AM...LH2 slow fill12:20:00 PM...LO2 slow fill12:25:00 PM...Hydrogen ECO sensors go wet12:30:00 PM...LO2 fast fill12:40:00 PM...LH2 fast fill01:55:00 PM...LH2 topping02:35:00 PM...LH2 replenish02:40:00 PM...LO2 replenish02:40:00 PM...Begin 3-hour built-in hold (T-minus 3 hours)02:40:00 PM...Closeout crew to white room02:40:00 PM...External tank in stable replenish mode02:55:00 PM...Astronaut support personnel comm checks03:25:00 PM...Pre-ingress switch reconfig03:30:00 PM...NASA TV coverage begins03:56:00 PM...Astronaut photo opportunity (time approximate)05:05:00 PM...Final crew weather briefing05:15:00 PM...Astronauts don pressure suits05:40:00 PM...Resume countdown (T-minus 3 hours)05:45:00 PM...Crew departs O&C building06:15:00 PM...Crew ingress07:05:00 PM...Astronaut comm checks07:20:00 PM...Hatch closure08:05:00 PM...White room closeout08:20:00 PM...Begin 10-minute built-in hold (T-minus 20m)08:30:00 PM...NASA Test Director countdown briefing08:30:00 PM...Resume countdown (T-minus 20m)08:31:00 PM...Backup flight computer to OPS 108:35:00 PM...KSC area clear to launch08:41:00 PM...Begin final built-in hold (T-minus 9m)08:51:45 PM...NASA Test Director launch status verification09:26:47 PM...Resume countdown (T-minus 9m)09:28:17 PM...Orbiter access arm retraction09:30:00 PM...Launch window opens (actual: 9:30:47 p.m.)09:30:47 PM...Hydraulic power system (APU) start09:30:52 PM...Terminate LO2 replenish09:31:47 PM...Purge sequence 4 hydraulic test09:31:47 PM...Inertial measurement units to inertial09:31:52 PM...Aerosurface profile09:32:17 PM...Main engine steering test09:32:52 PM...LO2 tank pressurization09:33:12 PM...Fuel cells to internal reactants09:33:17 PM...Clear caution-and-warning memory09:33:47 PM...Crew closes visors09:33:50 PM...LH2 tank pressurization09:34:57 PM...Booster joint heater deactivation09:35:16 PM...Shuttle computers take control of countdown09:35:26 PM...Booster steering test09:35:40 PM...Main engine start (T-6.6 seconds)09:35:47 PM...SRB ignition (LAUNCH!)Video coverage for subscribers only:VIDEO:POST-ARRIVAL COMMENTS FROM THE CREW VIDEO:ASTRONAUTS ARRIVE IN WAVE OF T-38 JETS VIDEO:BIOGRAPHIES OF THE DISCOVERY ASTRONAUTS VIDEO:NARRATED STS-116 MISSION PREVIEW MOVIE VIDEO:WEDNESDAY'S SHUTTLE BRIEFING IN ITS ENTIRETY BRIEFING SOUNDBITES:VIDEO:THE ISSUES DISCUSSED AT FRR VIDEO:NOT YOUR FATHER'S FRR VIDEO:READY TO RESUME NIGHT LAUNCHES VIDEO:LAUNCH PREPS PROCEEDING WELL VIDEO:YEAR-END ROLLOVER CONCERNS VIDEO:REASSESSING TANK FOAM RISK VIDEO:STATION SOLAR ARRAY DRIVE SYSTEM PROBLEM VIDEO:PRESSURIZATION PRECAUTIONS AT THE PAD VIDEO:OVERVIEW OF STS-116 MISSION VIDEO:SHUTTLE/ISS PROGRAM PERSPECTIVE VIDEO:PREVIEW OF MISSION'S SPACEWALKS VIDEO:ASTRONAUTS' PRE-FLIGHT NEWS BRIEFING VIDEO:COVERAGE OF PRACTICE COUNTDOWN ACTIVITIES VIDEO:DISCOVERY ROLLS TO THE PAD VIDEO:DISCOVERY MATED TO TANK AND BOOSTERS VIDEO:SHUTTLE HOISTED VERTICALLY INSIDE VAB VIDEO:DISCOVERY HAULED FROM HANGAR TO VAB VIDEO:PORT 5 TRUSS PAYLOAD PACKED UP VIDEO:CREW VISITS KENNEDY SPACE CENTER VIDEO:EXTERNAL FUEL TANK MATED TO BOOSTERS MORE: STS-134 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Endeavour is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-134. Available in our store!Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is now available in our store. Get this piece of history!Apollo CollageThis beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.STS-133 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Discovery is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-133. Available in our store!Anniversary Shuttle PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This embroidered patch commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program. The design features the space shuttle Columbia's historic maiden flight of April 12, 1981.Mercury anniversaryFree shipping to U.S. addresses!Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alan Shephard's historic Mercury mission with this collectors' item, the official commemorative embroidered patch. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Docking Timeline COMPILED BY WILLIAM HARWOODPosted: December 10, 2006Download a of this chart.Changes and additions:- Dec. 10: Posting initial version of chart Ares 1-X PatchThe official embroidered patch for the Ares 1-X rocket test flight, is available for purchase.Apollo CollageThis beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.Expedition 21The official embroidered patch for the International Space Station Expedition 21 crew is now available from our stores.Hubble PatchThe official embroidered patch for mission STS-125, the space shuttle's last planned service call to the Hubble Space Telescope, is available for purchase. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Electrical re-wiring complete BY WILLIAM HARWOOD

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STORY WRITTEN FOR & USED WITH PERMISSIONPosted: April 10, 2007Launch of the shuttle Atlantis on a hail-delayed flight to the international space station is slipping to no earlier than June 8, officials said today, to give engineers more time to repair damaged foam insulation on the ship's external fuel tank. Credit: NASA-KSCThe decision was made after assessing the progress of repairs to date and extensive testing and analysis to evaluate how those repairs will stand up to the thermal and aerodynamic rigors of launch. While agency managers were forced to give up any hope of launching before the May 21 end of the current launch window, the assessment showed it made more sense to stick with the current tank and launch in early June than it did to switch to a new tank."If we continue at this pace of repair, we should be looking at a vehicle rollout to the launch pad perhaps as early as May 6 and launch that would come ... no earlier than June the 8th," said shuttle Program Manager Wayne Hale. "What we're doing, of course, is letting the work drive the schedule instead of the other way around. We are proceeding with a great deal of caution."Hale said NASA hopes to launch the shuttle Endeavour on the next flight in the sequence as early as Aug. 5 and, if no major problems develop, two more flights in October and December."We sent out the potential manifest to review to all the parts of the shuttle program," Hale said. "We are going to come back Monday afternoon, April 16, and review what people think of that. But I will tell you it depends entirely on when we get done with these ET repairs and launch STS-117. I mean, that's the first part of flying the rest of the flights this year. I would tell you that flying four flights is not outside the realm of possibility, but we want to do this in a safe and orderly manner and we'll just see how it works out."NASA managers had hoped to launch Atlantis on mission STS-117, the first of five planned 2007 shuttle missions, March 15. But during a freak storm that thundered over pad 39A on Feb. 26, the shuttle's external tank was blasted by hail, suffering thousands of pits and gouges in its foam insulation. Wind gusts reached 62 knots and hail up to 1.5 inches in diameter was found at the pad.Atlantis, shielded by moveable weather protection panels, was unscathed. But NASA managers ultimately decided to move the shuttle back to the Vehicle Assembly Building for detailed inspections and, if possible, repairs.As it turned out, most of the damage was restricted to the upper liquid oxygen section of Atlantis's tank. Only a handful of dings were found lower down on the hydrogen section and while two dozen heat shield tiles on the orbiter were scraped by hail that worked its way behind the weather protection panels, detailed inspections show the ship's critical carbon composite wing leading edge panels and nose cap were undamaged.John Honeycutt, deputy manager of the external tank project, said today some 2,664 areas of damage requiring repair have been identified. Two areas, one near the tip of the tank that had between 1,000 and 1,600 hits and the other lower down on the side of the oxygen tank with 200 or so tightly packed impact sites, were so heavily pitted that engineers opted against individual repairs.Instead, the damaged foam will be sanded down and fresh insulation will be sprayed on by tank engineers. About 700 dings and pits will be fixed by boring them out and pouring in fresh foam. Honeycutt said about half of those repairs have been completed to date. The remainder of the damage will be fixed by so-called "sand-and-blend" techniques or simply flying as is. A closeup view of the tank. Credit: NASA-KSCFoam sprays normally are carried out robotically at Lockheed Martin's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. The repair sprays will use a different type of foam and it will be applied manually. These are "non-standard" repairs and extensive testing was ordered to make sure the foam will provide the proper pre-launch insulation and also stand up to the rigors of launch without shedding any debris that could damage the shuttle's heat shield.Today, managers concluded the engineering team has a reasonable chance of completing the repairs and getting Atlantis off around June 8. Hale said recently ordered inspections of the shuttle's main propulsion system fuel lines will be completed under the umbrella of the external tank work."The repairs as they're tracking today, leading to a rollout about the fifth or sixth of May - and again, that's going to depend on how we do with the repairs - but assuming we get out then, we could not launch within the May window, which closes on May 21," Hale said. "That pushes us into the June 8 window."If we were to decide today to switch to the new tank (slated for use by Endeavour) we could launch no earlier than June 19. ... We'd like to avoid ... all the effort that's involved in switching tanks. So as long as we're on a good path to repair the hail-damaged tank, we should stay with it."Assuming the repair work goes as planned and the ongoing analysis shows the repairs will, in fact, be safe, liftoff of STS-117 will be targeted for around 7:34 p.m. on June 8. If that schedule holds up, the shuttle would dock with the international space station June 10, spacewalks would be carried out June 11, 13 and 15, with landing on tap the afternoon of June 19.The shuttle Endeavour, which had been scheduled for launch in June, will instead slip to around Aug. 5.Endeavour's crew includes teacher-astronaut Barbara Morgan and Clay Anderson, who will replace station crew member Sunita Williams. Williams was launched to the outpost Dec. 9 aboard the shuttle Discovery and if she remains in space until mid August, she will set a new U.S. single-flight duration record of some 250 days.Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA's chief of manned spaceflight operations, said today NASA is looking at what might be needed to rotate Williams home early aboard Atlantis if the flight faces any additional delays. But barring major problems, he said, she will come home as planned aboard Endeavour.For her part, Williams said today she was not overly concerned about increased exposure to space radiation or any other aspects of a longer-than-planned stay in space."Well, you know, I've been in constant contact with my flight surgeon and he's keeping me up to date on the concerns we have," she told reporters during a news conference earlier today. "I think eight months is fine from all the indications I've heard, we're at a time right now where we're not getting too much extra radiation from activity on the sun. So I think right now, all indications say that's no problem."Williams' current crewmates - Expedition 14 commander Mike Lopez-Alegria and flight engineer Mikhail Tyurin - are scheduled to return to Earth April 20, along with U.S. space tourist Charles Simonyi, aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. Lopez-Alegria and Tyurin were launched Sept. 18 and on landing, Lopez-Alegria will set a new U.S. single-flight endurance record of 214 days.Launch dates for downstream shuttle flights are still under discussion and will be assessed during a shuttle/station management review April 16.But a proposed manifest change would move the third flight in the sequence to just after a Russian Soyuz flight in mid October and delay a high-profile flight to launch the European Space Agency's Columbus module to early December. Again, those dates will require agreement by shuttle and station managers.In the meantime, Hale said, Atlantis's crew remains in good spirits. Moving the flight to June 8 means what had been a deep overnight mission will instead be conducted during afternoon and evening hours U.S. time. Here is a summary timeline (in mission elapsed time and EDT). A more detailed flight plan is posted .DATE/EDT.......DD...HH...MM...EVENT06/08/07Fri 07:34 PM...00...00...00...STS-117 Launch06/09/07Sat 01:34 AM...00...06...00...Crew sleep beginsSat 09:34 AM...00...14...00...Crew wakeup (begins flight day 2)Sat 01:59 PM...00...18...25...Heat shield survey begins06/10/07Sun 01:34 AM...01...06...00...Crew sleep beginsSun 09:34 AM...01...14...00...STS crew wakeup (FD-3)Sun 04:15 PM...01...20...41...Atlantis docks with space stationSun 06:34 PM...01...23...00...S3/S4 power truss unberthing06/11/07Mon 01:34 AM...02...06...00...STS crew sleep beginsMon 09:34 AM...02...14...00...STS crew wakeup (FD-4)Mon 02:09 PM...02...18...35...Power truss bolted in placeMon 03:24 PM...02...19...50...EVA-1: Airlock egressMon 08:04 PM...03...00...30...Photo-voltaic radiator deployMon 09:49 PM...03...02...15...EVA-1: Airlock repressurization06/12/07Tue 01:34 AM...03...06...00...STS crew sleep beginsTue 09:34 AM...03...14...00...STS/ISS crew wakeup (FD-5)Tue 01:04 PM...03...17...30...1A mast deploy to 100 percentTue 02:34 PM...03...19...00...3A mast deploy to 100 percentTue 04:14 PM...03...20...40...Crew off duty time06/13/07Wed 01:34 AM...04...06...00...STS crew sleep beginsWed 09:34 AM...04...14...00...STS crew wakeup (FD-6)Wed 11:19 AM...04...15...45...P6-2B retraction attemptWed 02:34 PM...04...19...00...EVA-2: Airlock egressWed 03:14 PM...04...19...40...EVA-2: P6-2B retraction attemptWed 08:59 PM...05...01...25...EVA-2: Airlock repressurization06/14/07Thu 01:04 AM...05...05...30...STS crew sleep beginsThu 09:04 AM...05...13...30...STS crew wakeup (FD-7)Thu 12:04 PM...05...16...30...P6-2B retraction window opensThu 03:29 PM...05...19...55...P6-2B retraction window closes06/15/07Fri 01:04 AM...06...05...30...STS crew sleep beginsFri 09:04 AM...06...13...30...STS crew wakeup (FD-8)Fri 02:04 PM...06...18...30...EVA-3: Airlock egressFri 08:29 PM...07...00...55...EVA-3: Airlock repressurization06/16/07Sat 12:34 AM...07...05...00...STS crew sleep beginsSat 08:34 AM...07...13...00...STS crew wakeup (FD-9)Sat 11:34 AM...07...16...00...Crew off duty timeSat 06:49 PM...07...23...15...Joint crew news conferenceSat 07:49 PM...08...00...15...Farewell ceremonySat 08:04 PM...08...00...30...Egress and hatch closure06/17/07Sun 12:04 AM...08...04...30...STS crew sleep beginsSun 08:04 AM...08...12...30...STS crew wakeup (FD-10)Sun 12:12 PM...08...16...38...Atlantis undocks from stationSun 04:14 PM...08...20...40...Heat shield survey beginsSun 10:49 PM...09...03...15...STS crew sleep begins06/18/07Mon 07:04 AM...09...11...30...STS crew wakeup (FD-11)Mon 10:34 PM...10...03...00...STS crew sleep begins06/19/07Tue 06:34 AM...10...11...00...Crew wakeup (FD-12)Tue 01:41 PM...10...18...07...Deorbit ignition (orbit 171)Tue 02:43 PM...10...19...09...KSC LandingFinal Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is now available in our store. Get this piece of history!STS-134 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Endeavour is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-134. Available in our store!Ares 1-X PatchThe official embroidered patch for the Ares 1-X rocket test flight, is available for purchase.Apollo CollageThis beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.Project OrionThe Orion crew exploration vehicle is NASA's first new human spacecraft developed since the space shuttle a quarter-century earlier. The capsule is one of the key elements of returning astronauts to the Moon.Fallen Heroes Patch CollectionThe official patches from Apollo 1, the shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews are available in the store. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Clouds, rain showers force one-orbit landing delay BY WILLIAM HARWOOD

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Click on the image to download the full-sized original.Kyoto will offer higher single-threaded performance than current in-order Atom hardware or ARM equivalents,When we asked if the SM15000 would be updated to add a Kabini option to the portfolio, making new connections and rekindling old relationships is important for so many reasons. we're also partnering with local area universities and colleges to help them promote their talented graduates.No, it is better to have these contractual obligations in place. with . on the other hand, along with being able to use the back catalogue of content.
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Posted: February 25, 2011 Filled with propellant and other supplies, Europe's Automated Transfer Vehicle docked with the International Space Station at 1559 GMT (10:59 a.m. EST) Thursday. These photos from the lab's crew shows the massive cargo craft's approach and arrival at the space station. One image also shows cosmonaut Alexander Kaleri and flight engineer Paolo Nespoli monitoring the rendezvous from control consoles inside the station.Credit: ESA/NASACredit: ESA/NASACredit: ESA/NASACredit: ESA/NASACredit: ESA/NASACredit: Dmitry Kondratyev/RoscosmosCredit: Dmitry Kondratyev/Roscosmos | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Europe's new space freighter prepares for maiden voyage BY STEPHEN CLARKSPACEFLIGHT NOWPosted: March 5, 2008Lauded as the most advanced spaceship ever built by Europeans, a robotic orbital freighter named Jules Verne will blast off from the Atlantic coast of South America this weekend to begin a three-week chase of the international space station. Credit: ESALiftoff of Jules Verne at the tip of a beefed up Ariane 5 rocket is setfor 0403:04 GMT Sunday (11:03:04 p.m. EST Saturday) from theEuropean-controlled spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. The launch istimed for the instant Earth's rotation brings the ELA-3 launch pad intothe space station's orbital path.Senior leaders representing the European Space Agency, Arianespace,contractors, and other international partners met Wednesday in a launchreadiness review to clear the mission for flight."We are very pleased to smoothly pass this milestone four days beforelaunch as scheduled," said John Ellwood, ESA ATV project manager. "Now wereally feel to be ready, and our Russian and NASA partners have expressedthe same confidence."The 17-story rocket will be rolled from its assembly building to the ELA-3launch pad in Kourou on Friday. Once the Ariane 5 completes the 1.7-miletrip, workers will connect electrical and fluid lines between the launcherand ground systems in preparation for the final countdown, which will kickoff around midday Saturday.See our detailed countdown timeline .Tipping the scales at 42,700 pounds, Jules Verne is more than two timesheavier than any other spacecraft put into orbit by Europe. The first offive Automated Transfer Vehicles, the ship will deliver more than fivetons of cargo to the station after going through a shakedown to make sureit is ready to approach the station.The Ariane 5 rocket, a vehicle typically used to loft commercialcommunications satellites for launch provider Arianespace, wasstrengthened to handle the hefty mass. Engineers also had to make a fewsoftware changes because of the huge payload, and the launch will use anextended 56-foot payload fairing to house Jules Verne during the earlyminutes of flight. Credit: ESAThe rocket and its prized payload will have two opportunities to get offthe ground Sunday and Monday mornings, European time. Under an agreementwith NASA, the Ariane 5 will stand down Tuesday to give the shuttleEndeavour a chance to launch.If Endeavour lifts off Tuesday, the Ariane 5 will try again beginningWednesday morning, according to Kirk Shireman, NASA deputy station programmanager.The shuttle and the ATV can't launch on the same day because both vehiclesuse S-band communications through NASA's Tracking and Data Relay SatelliteSystem, Shireman said.Riding nearly three million pounds of thrust, the Ariane 5 will flynortheast from the Guiana Space Center after liftoff, jettisoning its twinsolid rocket boosters less than two-and-a-half minutes later andexhausting its first stage about nine minutes into the launch. Itsstorable propellant upper stage will fire twice before Jules Verne is castfree from the launcher.See our detailed launch timeline .Jules Verne will be deployed in a 162-mile-high orbit inclined 51.6degrees to the equator. After separation, mission responsibility willswitch from Kourou to the ATV control center in Toulouse, France. An artist's concept shows Jules Verne rising into orbit atop the Ariane rocket's upper stage. Credit: EADS AstriumThe upper stage will conduct a final burn about 90 minutes later to set acourse for destruction as the spent rocket body plummets into the Earth'satmosphere over the Pacific Ocean.Jules Verne will begin its activation sequence moments after the Ariane 5unleashes the spacecraft, turning on its electrical system, unfurling acommunications antenna boom, and preparing for orbital operations."The ATV is switched on and the propulsion system is primed, the solararrays are deployed, and we start the GPS, which provides the navigationin the first phase," said Bob Chesson, head of ESA's human spaceflight andexploration operations.Waiting for station traffic to clearOnce controllers finish turning the ATV into a fully functional spaceship,attention will turn to its pursuit of the international space station. Thefirst orbital "phasing" maneuver is scheduled for less than 12 hours afterlaunch, beginning a three-week process to bring Jules Verne to thestation's vicinity.See our detailed mission timeline .The craft will spend its first ten days in space gradually shifting itsorbit higher as ground controllers put the craft through a rigorous seriesof tests to confirm it is ready to approach the space station."The phasing period allows us to catch up with the space station and getit within our sights," Chesson said.The comprehensive checkout will include an attitude control experiment,navigation tests using the ATV's GPS system, and the demonstration of acritical emergency thruster firing to be used if something goes awryduring the final rendezvous.The collision avoidance maneuver is an engine burn to push the ATV awayfrom the station at a relative velocity of 11 miles per hour. That test isscheduled for approximately 0800 GMT (4:00 a.m. EDT) March 12.Jules Verne will eventually arrive at a point about 1,200 miles in frontof the space station by about March 19. The craft will hold in that orbitto wait out the shuttle Endeavour's visit to the station, which isscheduled to wrap up with an undocking on March 24. An artist's concept shows Endeavour leaving the space station. Credit: NASAThe station's international partners agreed to flight rules dictating thatvisiting spacecraft are not permitted to dock with the orbiting outpostwhile a shuttle is present.Despite the conflict of Endeavour's mission, station managers opted togive the go-ahead for the ATV's launch."We'll launch as soon as ATV is ready, the launcher is ready, and theground segment is ready," Ellwood said. "We then go to the space stationand we have the option of immediately docking to the space station if theconditions are right, or we could loiter close to the space station."The loitering philosophy will burn roughly 50 pounds of propellant perday, giving officials several options in their mission planning."We're actually more flexible in space than we are on the ground," saidAlan Thirkettle, ESA space station program manager.Demo Days pave way for dockingOnce Endeavour departs the station, ESA controllers will resume puttingJules Verne through a checklist of pre-docking activities. The freighterwill begin its push toward the station early on March 27, setting up forthe first two "demo days" to showcase the craft's ability to autonomouslyfly in close proximity to the outpost."In each of those, we demonstrate various aspects of the ATV and provethat those features are working properly to ensure the safety of thevehicle and the station," Chesson said.With ground controllers looking over the shoulder of Jules Verne, thecraft will automatically fly toward the station through waypointspositioned at various distances from the complex. The ground team willgive the "go" for the ATV to begin different phases of the rendezvous, butthe ship's navigation and flight path will be generated on-board."The ATV control center monitors it all the time and we are able, ifthings go wrong, to interrupt in quite a significant way. If we spot aproblem, for instance, we can initiate an escape maneuver and go off anddo a thorough checkout of the spacecraft and even patch the software ifnecessary to allow us to make another attempt at rendezvous. There is alot that the control center can do," Chesson said.Initially positioned at an "interface point" 24 miles behind and threemiles below the space station, Jules Verne will close within 2.2 milesduring the first day of demonstrations, currently set for March 29. TheATV ground control center will then command the engines to fire in anescape maneuver to take the spacecraft to a safe orbit, wrapping up thenearly four-hour flight test.The first demo day will test the long- and medium-range rendezvousnavigation system, which relies on GPS antennas affixed to both thestation and Jules Verne to produce accurate and timely range and closingrate information. The data is fed into the ATV's computers to plot acourse toward the craft's next holding point. The first Demo Day is planned for March 29. Credit: NASA/ESAEngineers will analyze telemetry streaming back to Earth from Jules Verneand brief the space station mission management team on March 30. The teamwill approve the next step in the mission if the spacecraft behaved asexpected, Chesson said.A docking dress rehearsal is penciled in for March 31, assuming everythinggoes as planned on demo day one. Starting again from the interface point24 miles behind and three miles below the space station, Jules Verne willmove to a distance of 817 feet from the complex using GPS navigation.At that point, the ATV's high-tech navigation system will begin using datafrom a suite of eye-like optical sensors attached to the forward end ofthe ship. Two videometers, working simultaneously with one in standbymode, will fire pulses of laser light toward the station one-to-ten timesper second.Acting as space mirrors, 26 reflectors positioned on the back end of thestation's Zvezda service module will beam the laser beams back to thesensors on Jules Verne, creating unique light patterns captured on theATV's cameras. The patterns will allow the ATV to autonomously determineits orientation, closing rate and distance from the space station.Two other sensors known as telegoniometers will serve as watchdogs duringthe final rendezvous, Ellwood said.The telegoniometers, similar to police radar guns, will also emit laserlight at a different wavelength up to 10,000 times per second toward thereflectors. The light's travel time between Jules Verne and the stationwill determine range, while the direction of the station will be given bythe angles of two built-in mirrors rotating to aim the laser at itstarget."We're the first vehicle which will completely automatically, usingoptical sensors, dock with the space station," Ellwood said.The ATV's optical navigation system underwent a slate of tests on theground to give engineers confidence the complicated sensors would work inspace.ESA tested the system using a mobile platform inside a nearly2,000-foot-long building in France. The reflectors were attached to theplatform and the ATV's optical sensors were placed on a robotic arm toimitate the spacecraft's movement."We did this very interesting and unique test of actually doing a realdocking on the ground," Ellwood said. The second Demo Day is planned for March 31. Credit: NASA/ESAESA designed extra redundancy in the ATV's navigation system to mitigatethe chances for a guidance failure close to the station, officials said."This is a unique technology that we've developed in Europe," Ellwoodsaid. "We're really looking forward to seeing how it works."The ATV is also fitted with Russia's Kurs rendezvous radar, a venerablesystem used to guide Soyuz and Progress capsules to automated dockings.During the docking dress rehearsal, Jules Verne will follow a series ofcommands to demonstrate its ability to operate in tight quarters with thestation."We will demonstrate the capability of ATV to hold, resume and retreat,"Chesson said. "These are maneuvers that we could require if things don'tgo correctly during the rendezvous."The ship will fly to a distance of less than 40 feet from the Zvezdadocking port before pulling back to a point more than 60 feet away.Finally, the station's crew will give an escape command from inside theoutpost to confirm they have the capability to abort a botched rendezvous.In addition to the ground control center and astronauts aboard thestation, the ATV's flight computers can also order an escape maneuver ifthey sense the rendezvous is going badly.By the end of demo day two, officials expect the ATV to have proven allkey features of its design, including GPS navigation and opticalnavigation, holds and retreats, ground- and crew-commanded escapes, andfine attitude control, Chesson said.Engineers will also evaluate the performance of flight monitoring softwareoverseeing the ATV's approach to the station. The system has the abilityto abort operations if things go wrong.The station mission management team will meet again on April 2 to give aformal "go" for docking if the ATV's demonstrations are successful."This will be a very exciting time, but we've really got to be sure thatthe vehicle is behaving exactly as we want," Ellwood said.Officials expect to be able to remove the demonstrations from future ATVmissions, reducing the launch-to-docking time to about 8 days, accordingto ESA.Linking up with the station"What we are doing actually amounts to a controlled collision with thespace station - a very soft one," Chesson said.Tentatively set for about 1420 GMT (10:20 a.m. EDT) April 3, Jules Verne'sdocking with the international space station must occur during a tightwindow stretching between March 30 and April 5. Docking is scheduled for April 3. Credit: NASA/ESAThe docking window is constrained by unfavorable solar angles that couldhinder the ship's rendezvous. The sun's light might interfere with acamera mounted on the Zvezda docking port looking back toward theapproaching ATV.Engineers are also concerned that the light could confuse Jules Verne'sintricate sensors that rely on clear visual cues between the craft andreflectors on the space station.A Soyuz spacecraft is scheduled to launch to the station with theExpedition 17 crew on April 8. The ATV will also be precluded from dockingduring the week-long crew handover, which is expected to end in mid-April.Officials want to squeeze Jules Verne's docking before the Soyuz to avoidwaiting up to two more weeks for the next rendezvous opportunity. Theshuttle must also undock from the station early enough to allow the ATV tospend a week near the station for its rendezvous demonstrations."If the shuttle launches on the 11th or 12th (of March), we still have ashot at those demo days," Shireman said. "If the shuttle doesn't get offby the 12th, then what happens is the ATV will still launch, but it willwait until after the Soyuz joint mission is complete, and we'll do thedemo days there."Threading the needle between narrow docking windows will become even morecommon as the station continues to grow. At least five types of visitingvehicles could be flying to the station by the end of next year."There's quite a traffic flow going to the ISS. We're thinking aboutlaunching an air traffic controller here soon," Shireman joked.Much like demo day two, the docking sequence will begin at the interfacepoint before flying through the 2.2-mile hold point and arriving at the817-foot mark behind the station, where navigation control will transitionfrom GPS to optical instruments.The Toulouse control center will evaluate the ATV's progress and issue"go" commands for the spacecraft to automatically move to hold points atroughly 65 feet and 30 feet, before giving approval for final approach anddocking. Credit: ESAThe ATV will aim for a narrow corridor just one-half inch wide at thestation's rear docking port. The diameter is roughly the size of a Eurocoin or a U.S. dime."We do a sort of dance with the space station. They're under their owncontrol system. We're under our control system. We're like a pair dancingon the floor. We come in very, very slowly so that we do not collide,"Ellwood said.Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson willmonitor the rendezvous from a control station inside Zvezda. Althoughstation crews can take over manual control if the automatic docking systemfails on Russian spacecraft, no such course of action exists for the ATV."All they can do is actually press a red button and send us away if theyfeel it would be unsafe," Ellwood said.The station's crew will follow the approach through a network of videocameras and a live radio link beaming data from the ATV to their consolein Zvezda.Whitson and Malenchenko trained two weeks in Germany to prepare for JulesVerne's mission. Multiple failures must occur before the crew would beasked to intervene during docking, said Jean-Francois Clervoy, an ESAastronaut advising the ATV project.Malenchenko, the prime crew member in charge of ATV docking operations,can order an abort until the ATV reaches three feet from the Zvezda rearport. After that point, an emergency maneuver could do more harm thangood, according to Chesson.Engine plumes from Jules Verne's thrusters could damage the station whenthey are fired at close range. The abort cutoff point also takes intoaccount the crew's reaction time, Chesson said.Jules Verne's Russian-built docking probe will contact the station at aclosing speed of one-sixth of a mile per hour, engaging Zvezda's cone andforming a loose connection between the two craft.The ATV's extended docking probe will retract a few minutes later to bringthe two craft together. Electrical and fluid connectors will be mated, andeight latches will lock to create an airtight seal.Delivering its cargoAfter Jules Verne is firmly connected to Zvezda and controllers finishpressure checks in the docking system, the crew will enter the ship. Thecargo carrier hatch, measuring about 31 inches in diameter, will be openedfor the crew to access the craft's cache of supplies."This is when the ATV mission in support of the international spacestation really starts," Chesson said. This cutaway graphic shows the interior of the ATV craft docked to the Zvezda module. Credit: ESAThe crew will offload more than 2,500 pounds of dry cargo aboard JulesVerne, including 1,100 pounds of food, 300 pounds of spare parts for thenewly-delivered Columbus module, and storage support hardware for theRussian segment. The station residents will also receive about 176 poundsof fresh clothing, according to ESA.The ATV will also carry two 19th century manuscripts of Jules Verne novelsfor a commemorative ceremony on the station.After removing the dry cargo, the crew will begin stuffing Jules Verne'slogistics carrier with waste material."We'll be using it a bit like the cupboard," Ellwood said.The crew will hook up lines to transfer nearly 600 pounds of water fordrinking, cleaning and food rehydration. Astronauts must also manuallyopen valves to move 46 pounds of oxygen into the station's air supply,according to an EADS fact sheet.Once fresh water is pumped inside the station, the crew can transferliquid waste back into the water tanks.About 1,900 pounds of hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide housed inside JulesVerne's refueling tanks will flow into Zvezda. The propellant will be usedfor the station's primary propulsion system on the Russian segment of thecomplex.The ATV will exhaust about 60 percent of its own 12,900-pound fuel supplyduring its flight to the station, leaving about 5,000 pounds of propellantto raise the station's altitude, steer the complex clear of orbitaldebris, and provide attitude control when the outpost's gyroscopes aredown. Jules Verne must also keep a fuel reserve for the craft's suicidalde-orbit burn at the end of the mission.Engineers on the ground will control refueling and re-boost operations.All told, Jules Verne carries about 10,100 pounds of supplies for thestation, including dry cargo and fluids.After spending about four months at the international space station, JulesVerne will back away from the complex in the first week of August. The ATVis designed to stay at the station for up to six months, and officialscould decide to extend the mission until October, according to an ESAspokesperson. ATV's mission ends with a plunge into the atmosphere. Credit: ESATwo engine firings slow the ship's speed enough to slip into theatmosphere, destroying the craft and up to 14,000 pounds of the station'sdiscarded waste over the South Pacific."That fiery end of the ATV mission really concludes the operations ofJules Verne," Chesson said.The risks of automated dockingsESA officials say they have worked incessantly to decrease the mission'spotential risk to the station and its crew, especially since Jules Verneis a first-of-a-kind spacecraft flying to such an important destination.Similar to technology used on NASA's DART satellite and the Pentagon'sOrbital Express mission, the optical sensors on the ATV are the ship'sprime source of navigation information during the final approach sequenceto the station.DART's 2005 mission, designed to operate without any input from theground, ended in failure due to a cascading list of consequences stemmingfrom a late change in the craft's software. The computer improperlyprocessed navigation data from DART's GPS and optical sensors, causing thespacecraft to lose its orientation and go off course."It wasn't looked at across the entire system to see the effect of thatchange across the entire system," Suffredini said. "It's a lesson for usall to keep in mind whenever we are dealing with complicated spacecraftlike this."The U.S. military's Orbital Express mission successfully demonstratedautonomous rendezvous and docking using a visual guidance sensor lastyear, but like the ATV, controllers were actively keyed into the processthrough each step."DART was a totally automated vehicle. We turned it on and sent it on itsway, and sure enough it had an interesting life. That is not the case withthe ATV," Suffredini said."It is automated, so it knows what it's supposed to do, but along the way,particularly on this flight, it's going to take certain steps and stop.We're going to look at the data, ensure it is acting the way we expect itto act and we can implement an abort and have it fly away from the spacestation while we figure out whatever issue that we were worried about atthe time," Suffredini said.Suffredini said all station partners were consulted regarding ATV safetyissues. The partners all signed off on the mission's risk, and controlcenters in Houston and Moscow will track the rendezvous, he said."It is a first time, but I think with all of the work that's been done onthe ground and with the demonstration that's being done on orbit, and thefact that in the end we're using the docking mechanism of the Russiansegment, so the final thing is a proven system. The combination of all ofthose things gives us a sufficient feeling of confidence that this is aworking vehicle," Thirkettle said.Suffredini, Thirkettle's NASA counterpart, agreed: "We talked a long timeearly in the program about whether or not we needed to try to create atarget for the ATV to dock to, and we agreed with this approach toensuring that we will fully understand what the spacecraft is actuallygoing to do in orbit, and that we practice these specific aborts or escapescenarios to ensure that they would work, that approaching the ISS on itsfirst flight was a safe thing to do.""We'll have a bigger smile on our face when it's actually achieved, ofcourse," Thirkettle said. John Glenn Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The historic first orbital flight by an American is marked by this commemorative patch for John Glenn and Friendship 7.Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is available in our store. Get this piece of history!Celebrate the shuttle programFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This special commemorative patch marks the retirement of NASA's Space Shuttle Program. Available in our store!Anniversary Shuttle PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This embroidered patch commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program. The design features the space shuttle Columbia's historic maiden flight of April 12, 1981.Mercury anniversaryFree shipping to U.S. addresses!Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alan Shephard's historic Mercury mission with this collectors' item, the official commemorative embroidered patch.Fallen Heroes Patch CollectionThe official patches from Apollo 1, the shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews are available in the store. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Europe's space cargo ship embarks on maiden voyage BY STEPHEN CLARKSPACEFLIGHT NOWPosted: March 9, 2008A first-of-a-kind robotic space transporter with a futuristic autopilot control system journeyed into orbit early Sunday, embarking on a mission to track down the international space station using the most advanced space technology ever developed in Europe.The 42,700-pound cargo-laden spaceship, named Jules Verne for the visionary 19th century science fiction writer, was tucked inside Europe's workhorse Ariane 5 rocket for the dramatic blastoff."We are embarking upon an extraordinary voyage," said Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA director general. "It is no longer just a book written by Jules Verne, this is a reality." The Ariane 5 rocket fires into the clouds with the ATV spacecraft aboard. Credit: ESA/Nadia Imbert-VierThe Ariane 5 ES rocket, structurally bolstered to handle the heftypayload, thundered to life and soared into a rain-filled night sky at0403:04 GMT Sunday (11:03:04 p.m. EST Saturday night). Shooting throughlow clouds blanketing the French-controlled Guiana Space Center, the17-story launcher veered northeast away from the South American coast.Gaining altitude as it sped across the Atlantic Ocean, the rocketjettisoned two spent solid rocket booster casings and its clamshell-likepayload fairing in the first four minutes of the mission. The first stageran out of cryogenic propellant and fell away at about the nine-minutepoint.The Ariane 5 upper stage, consuming storable hydrazine fuel, ignited foran eight-minute burn to reach a stable low-altitude parking orbit. Aftercoasting halfway around the world for 45 minutes, the stage's Aestusengine fired again to achieve a 162-mile-high circular orbit with aninclination of 51.6 degrees.The Ariane 5 released Jules Verne just shy of launch's 67-minute mark tobegin a three-week pursuit of the station that will culminate with ascheduled docking in early April. The announcement of the milestone wasmet with a round of applause inside the Arianespace control room in FrenchGuiana, and managers broke out cigars in a traditional post-launchceremony."Europe has just had a further tremendous success with a perfect injectioninto orbit," said Jean-Yves Le Gall, Arianespace CEO."Today's success is primarily of the launch vehicle - Ariane 5," Dordainsaid. "We will talk about our success in April."After spacecraft separation, mission responsibility switched from thelaunch site to a control center in Toulouse, France. Credit: ESARoughly the size of a London double-decker bus, Jules Verne successfullyunfurled its four solar arrays about 30 minutes after it unlatched fromthe booster, forming a characteristic X-shaped pattern resembling thewings of a dragonfly. Three hours after launch, the spacecraft wasexpected to deploy a critical antenna boom to be used for communicationsbetween the ship and the space station during final approach.Jules Verne is the first Automated Transfer Vehicle for the European SpaceAgency. Ten European states spent $1.9 billion developing the spacecraftsince 1995. France contributed nearly half of the funding for the ATVprogram, followed by Germany, Italy, and other European nations.Under agreements in the space station partnership, the ATV'scargo-carrying capability covers ESA's 8.3-percent share of the program'soperating costs."We're really looking forward to using the ATV as a cargo deliveryoption," said Mike Griffin, NASA administrator.Four more ATV missions are scheduled for late 2009, 2011, 2012, and 2013,according to ESA officials."You don't become a major player unless you can do your own operations,and that will come with ATV," said Alan Thirkettle, ESA space stationprogram manager.Industrial giant EADS Astrium led a contractor team of thousands ofengineers and technicians. Russia provided the ATV's docking system at theforward end of the ship."ATV gives very high-tech work to (European) industry, it pays our feesfor the station which enables us to do the world-class science andresearch that we want to do on the station, and it's a gateway to thefuture exploration ambitions that we have in Europe," Thirkettle said.Jules Verne's mission and last month's addition of the Columbus laboratoryto the space station mark Europe's entry into the realm of humanspaceflight, according to senior officials."Last month, with the docking of Columbus, Europe got its own flat in theISS building. With the launch of the first ATV, we now have our owndelivery truck," said Daniel Sacotte, ESA's director of humanspaceflight, microgravity and exploration programs. The ATV, Apollo spacecraft and Russian Progress resupply ship are compared in this graphic. Credit: ESASome officials tout the potential to evolve the ATV's design into a crewtransport ship."It occurs to me that it's a fairly short step to go from the ATV tosomething that can carry crew," Griffin said. "It's only a short step fromthere to an independent European manned spaceflight capability."Thirkettle said a decision to implement such a plan would have to beapproved by ministers from European member states. Any ATV upgrade tolaunch astronauts into space would require a significant investment, hesaid.Loaded with about 10,100 pounds of supplies for the station, Jules Verne'smission is one-half glorified shakedown cruise, one-half space truck.Inside a 16.1-foot-long logistics carrier with a volume comparable to thepassenger cabin of a modern Gulfstream business jet, more than 2,500pounds of stowed dry cargo awaits delivery to the space station. Thesupplies include 1,100 pounds of food, 300 pounds of spare parts forEurope's newly-delivered Columbus module, and 176 pounds of fresh clothingfor the station's residents, according to ESA.Spherical tanks house about 1,900 pounds of hydrazine and nitrogentetroxide propellants that will flow into Zvezda after Jules Verne'sarrival. Another estimated 5,000 pounds of propellant will be used by theATV's own propulsion system to raise the station's altitude and help steerit clear of orbital debris.Nearly 600 pounds of potable water and about 46 pounds of oxygen are alsoon Jules Verne's payload manifest.Jules Verne carries about two-thirds of the ATV's total cargo capacity,giving the craft additional flexibility during its experimental testsduring the approach to the space station.Packed to the brim, the ATV can transport three times more cargo than theRussian Progress vehicle."We're going to be the largest carrier of cargo to the international spacestation," said John Ellwood, ATV project manager.Long road to the space stationThe first phase of the mission begins less than a day after launch, whenJules Verne's propulsion system fires up to begin a set of orbitalmaneuvers to raise the craft's altitude. See our detailed mission timeline .During the series of engine burns, engineers stationed at the ATV controlcenter will check out Jules Verne's propulsion, navigation and computersystems before allowing the ship to close in on the station.On Wednesday, controllers will command a mock collision avoidancemaneuver, a critical engine firing that would push the ATV away from thestation at 11 miles per hour during an emergency late in the rendezvoussequence."We can only dock to the station if that backup system does indeed workcorrectly," Dordain said.The ATV will spend about ten days flying to a point nearly 1,250 miles infront of the space station, where it will wait out the shuttle Endeavour'supcoming assembly mission, scheduled to wrap up with an undocking on March24.If Endeavour departs the orbiting complex on time, Jules Verne will beginmoving toward the station on March 27, setting up for the first of two"demo days" to showcase the craft's ability to autonomously fly in closeproximity to the outpost."In each of those, we demonstrate various aspects of the ATV and provethat those features are working properly to ensure the safety of thevehicle and the station," said Bob Chesson, head of ESA's humanspaceflight and exploration operations.Jules Verne is designed to fly on autopilot using sophisticated logicsoftware able to process inputs from navigation sensors, groundcontrollers and the station crew. The craft will automatically fly towardthe station through waypoints positioned at various distances from thecomplex. The ground team will give the "go" for the ATV to begin differentphases of the rendezvous, but the ship's navigation and flight path willbe generated on-board. Credit: ESADuring the March 29 demonstration, Jules Verne will close within 2.2 milesof the station using relative navigation data provided by GPS antennasattached to cargo freighter and the space station. The test will end witha ground-commanded escape maneuver to take the spacecraft to a safe orbit.Officials will review data obtained during the first demo day on March 30,giving the go-ahead to proceed with a docking dress rehearsal thefollowing day if everything worked as planned.Jules Verne will drive to a distance of 817 feet from the station usingGPS navigation to begin the second demo day. Once past that criticaltransition point, the ATV will begin relying on information produced by asuite of laser sensors on the forward end of the ship.Two videometers will fire pulses of laser light toward the stationone-to-ten times per second. The light will be reflected by 26 reflectorsacting as space-age mirrors attached to the back end of the station'sZvezda service module.The reflectors will create unique light patterns captured by the ATVcameras, which will allow the ship's computers to accurately determine itsorientation, closing rate and distance from the station.Two other radar gun-like sensors known as telegoniometers will serve as abackup during the final rendezvous."We're the first vehicle which will completely automatically, usingoptical sensors, dock with the space station," Ellwood said.During the docking dress rehearsal, Jules Verne will demonstrate itsability to respond to hold, resume and retreat commands sent by theToulouse control center and the station crew. The ATV will approach to arange of just 40 feet from the Zvezda aft docking port before Russiancosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko gives an escape command from inside theoutpost, testing the crew's ability to intervene if something went wrong.The first opportunity for Jules Verne to link up with the station willcome at approximately 1420 GMT (10:20 a.m. EDT) April 3. The ATV has awindow stretching from March 30 to April 5 for the docking, or else thecraft will wait until after a scheduled Soyuz crew rotation mission endson April 19. This cutaway graphic shows the interior of the ATV craft docked to the Zvezda module. Credit: ESAThe early April docking window also requires that the shuttle Endeavourlaunch by Wednesday or Thursday, allowing the shuttle to complete itsmission and leave the station by the time Jules Verne approaches thecomplex.Space station flight rules dictate that visiting spacecraft can'trendezvous and dock with the outpost when a shuttle is present.Jules Verne's docking sequence is similar to the activities the ship willundergo during the second day of rendezvous testing. First using GPSnavigation, then optical instruments, the ATV will fly to hold points at2.2 miles, 817 feet, 65 feet and 30 feet from the station.After a final "go" for docking, Jules Verne will guide itself intoZvezda's aft docking port to end the high-wire rendezvous.Astronauts will unload the ATV's cargo, replacing it with waste during theship's four-month stay. In early August, Jules Verne will undock from thespace station and plunge back into Earth's atmosphere, destroying thevessel and the outpost's discarded trash over an unpopulated area in thePacific Ocean.Additional coverage for subscribers:VIDEO:ARIANE 5 ROCKET BLASTS OFF WITH JULES VERNE VIDEO:ROLLOUT OF ARIANE 5 ROCKET TO LAUNCH PAD John Glenn Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The historic first orbital flight by an American is marked by this commemorative patch for John Glenn and Friendship 7.Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is available in our store. Get this piece of history!Celebrate the shuttle programFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This special commemorative patch marks the retirement of NASA's Space Shuttle Program. Available in our store!Anniversary Shuttle PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This embroidered patch commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program. The design features the space shuttle Columbia's historic maiden flight of April 12, 1981.Mercury anniversaryFree shipping to U.S. addresses!Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alan Shephard's historic Mercury mission with this collectors' item, the official commemorative embroidered patch.Fallen Heroes Patch CollectionThe official patches from Apollo 1, the shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews are available in the store. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Eutelsat declares craft total loss after propellant leak SPACEFLIGHT NOWPosted: October 29, 2010 The Eutelsat W3B communications satellite launched Thursday evening fell victim to a significant propellant leak shortly after separating from its Ariane 5 rocket, prompting the company to declare the five-ton spacecraft a total loss. Artist's concept of W3B in space. Credit: Thales Alenia SpaceThe Paris-based satellite communications firm announced the anomaly early Friday, just hours after a seemingly flawless launch was declared successful after deployments of two payloads.Vanessa O'Connor, a Eutelsat spokesperson, said Friday the W3B spacecraft was a total loss and the company would be filing an insurance claim on the satellite. The craft was covered under a multi-satellite insurance agreement, but O'Connor said the Eutelsat was not yet discussing specific monetary figures for the claim.Eutelsat will not incur any direct financial loss after the anomaly, the company said in a statement.According to O'Connor, engineers discovered a leak in the satellite's oxidizer system "early in the night" Thursday. W3B carries on-board tanks of propellant to power an apogee engine designed to raise the satellite's orbit from the Ariane 5 rocket's drop-off orbit to a permanent location 22,300 miles high.After launching from French Guiana at 2151 GMT (5:51 p.m. EDT), the 16-story rocket released two communications satellites in a geosynchronous transfer orbit with a high point of 22,312 miles, a low point of 155 miles and an inclination of 2 degrees, according to Arianespace.Officials planned a series of engine burns on W3B to boost its orbit in the next two weeks. Thales Alenia Space, the satellite's manufacturer, planned to oversee testing of the spacecraft before handing over control to Eutelsat by the end of December.W3B is based on the Thales Spacebus 4000 C3 satellite platform. It weighed more than 11,800 pounds at liftoff and had a design life of 15 years.Thales Alenia Space officials did not respond to questions on the W3B mishap Friday.An Arianespace spokesperson said their engineers noticed no problems during Thursday's launch that could explain the trouble with W3B."We had a very smooth flight and the telemetry of the launcher does not show any anomaly," said Mario de Lepine, a spokesperson for the French launch provider.Officials will continue reviewing data from the Ariane 5 rocket, according to the spokesperson, but so far engineers see nothing that points to the launcher's culpability. The mission's other payload, Japan's BSAT 3b broadcasting satellite, is healthy after Thursday's launch.Thales and Eutelsat managers are assessing disposal options for the stranded satellite, which is expected to provide no usable life if it can even reach its operational orbit.Controllers were still in communications with the spacecraft Friday evening, but telemetry from W3B is trickling to the ground at slow rates because it is not always in range of ground stations, O'Connor told Spaceflight Now.Eutelsat announced it was immediately starting development of a replacement satellite named W3D for launch in the first quarter of 2013. Company officials have not selected a supplier for the new spacecraft.W3B was supposed to begin operations at 16 degrees east longitude, picking up services from three satellites. Its Ku-band and Ka-band communications payload was expected to reach direct broadcasting customers in Central Europe, Madagascar and other Indian Ocean islands.Another target of W3B's mission was to relay data and Internet services to sub-Saharan Africa.In the near-term, W3B's lost capacity will be replaced by W3C to be launched by a Chinese Long March rocket next summer."The loss of W3B is a disappointment for Eutelsat and for our customers. We share it with our partners, in particular Thales Alenia Space and with the insurance community," said Michel de Rosen, CEO of Eutelsat. "Our attention is now focused on delivering the W3C satellite to 16 degrees east in mid-2011 and on initiating a new program to compensate for this loss."Eutelsat dispatched W3B to the 16 degrees east location to replace W2M, a joint Indo-European satellite that was crippled by a power system failure shortly after launch in January 2009.The leading communications firm will continue using the aging Eurobird 16 and SESAT 1 satellites, along with W2M, to meet demand at the 16 degrees east slot until the launch of W3C.John Glenn Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The historic first orbital flight by an American is marked by this commemorative patch for John Glenn and Friendship 7.Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is available in our store. Get this piece of history!Celebrate the shuttle programFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This special commemorative patch marks the retirement of NASA's Space Shuttle Program. Available in our store!Anniversary Shuttle PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This embroidered patch commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program. The design features the space shuttle Columbia's historic maiden flight of April 12, 1981.Mercury anniversaryFree shipping to U.S. addresses!Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alan Shephard's historic Mercury mission with this collectors' item, the official commemorative embroidered patch.Fallen Heroes Patch CollectionThe official patches from Apollo 1, the shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews are available in the store. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Eutelsat's unprecedented launch proves twice as sweet SPACEFLIGHT NOWPosted: December 20, 2008One of the world's top commercial satellite operators used a heavy-lift Ariane 5 rocket to successfully get two of its new communications spacecraft into orbit Saturday evening.It was a risky proposition for Eutelsat to entrust a pair of its satellites to just one rocket. Never before had the company put two pricey birds on a single launch. But when launch slots are increasingly difficult to secure, the Paris-based company took the opportunity from launch provider Arianespace. The Ariane 5 launches. Credit: ArianespaceBlasting off from the Guiana Space Center on the northeastern coast of South America, the mammoth rocket carried out its crucial mission in only 32 minutes, as Eutelsat executives held their collective breaths.The hydrogen-fueled Vulcain 2 main engine ignited as the countdown hit zero at 2235:07 GMT (5:35:07 p.m. EST), followed seven seconds later by lighting the twin solid rocket boosters to propel the Ariane 5 from the jungle launch base.The launch occurred on the day's second try. An initial countdown was halted a scant 10 seconds before ignition because pressure in the liquid hydrogen system was out of spec. The launch team recycled the clocks and resolved the issue for liftoff 44 minutes into the hour-long window.The solid motors provided nearly 90 percent of the power during the early climb into the night before burning out and separating. That left the main stage to continue pushing the vehicle out of the atmosphere.About 9 minutes after liftoff, the cryogenic upper stage took control and performed a 16-minute burn that accelerated the payload into the targeted geosynchronous transfer orbit at 20,800 mph. An artist's concept shows the Hot Bird 9 in orbit. Credit: EADS AstriumThe two satellites, stacked atop each other, then began the choreographed deployment sequence that saw Hot Bird 9 released from the rocket 27 minutes into flight. The barrel-like structure that held the top satellite and enclosed the lower spacecraft was jettisoned a few minutes later, exposing W2M for its separation from the upper stage to complete the launch."I think you all admired this absolutely beautiful liftoff of Ariane," said Giuliano Berretta, Eutelsat's director general. "I would like to thank Arianespace for this beautiful performance."The workhorse Ariane 5 now has accumulated 28 consecutive successes over the past five-and-a-half years.Both satellites will use their onboard engines to ascend from the 22,345 by 155-mile launch orbit to circular geostationary orbits 22,300 miles above the equator. Hot Bird 9 will be positioned at 13 degrees East longitude and W2M is headed for 16 degrees East.Eutelsat operates a cluster of three satellites at its 13 degrees East orbital slot to beam nearly 1,100 television channels and 600 radio stations to 120 million homes across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Hot Bird 9 promises to increase the number of digital and high-definition TV offerings.Built by EADS Astrium using the Eurostar E3000 platform, the craft is equipped with 64 Ku-band transponders for relaying transmissions directly to small dishes at users' homes.A successful entry into service by Hot Bird 9 will allow the Hot Bird 7A spacecraft currently operating at that location to be moved into the 9-degree East position for replacement of the 12-year-old Eurobird 9 craft.Users with dual-feed satellite dishes can receive programming from both the 9- and 13-degree orbital positions. The W2M undergoes preps at the launch site. Credit: ArianespaceW2M was built under a collaborative effort between EADS Astrium and Antrix, the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organization. It has 32 Ku-band transponders for a wide range of telecommunications services, including television broadcasting, internet connectivity and business networking.The craft will replace the W2 satellite launched 10 years ago and enhance Eutelsat's capacity to cover burgeoning markets in central and eastern Europe, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and islands in the Indian Ocean region.Eutelsat's two new satellites will be joined by three more next year and two in 2010 as part of the company's fleet expansion and renewal efforts."This successful dual launch of two Eutelsat satellites is a major step forward in our far-reaching in-orbit investment program for 2008-2011 and clears the way for Eutelsat to accomplish a raft of strategic objectives in terms of managing our in-orbit resources," Berretta said."These new resources underscore our ability to pursue sustainable growth in digital TV and broadband markets, which continue to confirm their dynamic potential."Saturday marked the sixth and final launch of 2008 for the Ariane 5. The hoped-for record pace of seven missions this year fell short due to payload schedules.Arianespace began the year with the launch of Europe's first Automated Transfer Vehicle, the robotic resupply ship that spent five months docked to the international space station. Five additional Ariane 5s flew during the year, each delivering pairs of communications satellites into orbit.Next up will be Arianespace Flight 187, currently targeted for launch on February 12. It will carry Hot Bird 10 for Eutelsat and the delayed NSS 9 spacecraft for SES New Skies, the satellite slated for Saturday's mission but was replaced by W2M.Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is now available in our store. Get this piece of history!STS-134 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Endeavour is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-134. Available in our store!Ares 1-X PatchThe official embroidered patch for the Ares 1-X rocket test flight, is available for purchase.Apollo CollageThis beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.Project OrionThe Orion crew exploration vehicle is NASA's first new human spacecraft developed since the space shuttle a quarter-century earlier. The capsule is one of the key elements of returning astronauts to the Moon.Fallen Heroes Patch CollectionThe official patches from Apollo 1, the shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews are available in the store. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Familiar glitch added drama to aborted Ariane countdownSPACEFLIGHT NOWPosted: June 26, 2010Thursday's back-to-back last-second scrubs of an Ariane 5 rocket launch were caused by the vehicle's first stage pressurization system, an issue similar to the problem that triggered an unusual Arianespace quality review earlier this year, the company's top executive said Friday.the Ariane 5 rocket during Thursday's final countdown. Credit: Arianespace"Of course, when we have a delay it's a bit frustrating," said Jean-Yves Le Gall, Arianespace's chairman and CEO. "Everything is done to guarantee our customers the very best quality."Thursday's countdown was targeting liftoff at 2141 GMT (5:41 p.m. EDT) before the clocks were halted at Minus-17 seconds. Engineers recycled the countdown clock and tried again an hour later after extending the launch window, a rare decision to give teams more time to overcome the issue.But the second attempt fell victim to another abort at Minus-16 seconds, this time ordered by Le Gall himself."We had a very quick review because I wanted to have the full confidence that we were proceeding well," Le Gall told Spaceflight Now from Kourou. "So I stopped the countdown myself in the final seconds."Le Gall said there was a suspicious parameter in the helium subsystem responsible for keeping the first stage propellant tanks pressurized. The Ariane 5's first stage engine burns liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellants."We have a value in the pressurization system that was just at the limit of what we could accept," Le Gall said in an interview Friday. "We adjusted the limit to demonstrate that this was acceptable. This has been done and now we are working to resume the preparations for the countdown and launch tomorrow night."The Ariane 5 rocket will hoist an Arab communications satellite and a South Korean spacecraft to test communications equipment, observe weather and study the oceans. The next try to blast off is slated for Saturday night.Arianespace already had a razor's focus on the first stage pressurization system, which was the culprit in scrubs of the last two Ariane launches in December and April. A pressurization issue was also responsible for the scrub of the Ariane 5's first launch attempt Wednesday."It's the same system, but it is not, in fact, an anomaly this time," Le Gall said. "It's a consequence of the fact that the part that is used now has been manufactured with a lot of care. The values of the pressures were right at the limit, which was not the case before."Arianespace ordered a review of its quality control procedures in April after a helium pressurization regulator caused the abort of the countdown of a previous Ariane 5 rocket launch. The company announced parallel inquiries focusing on the troublesome helium subsystem and overall quality control practices to ensure other parts of the vehicle are in good shape.Engineers finished the technical investigation, replaced the faulty regulator with a new unit, and approved the launch of an Ariane 5 booster in May. That flight blasted off on time and successfully orbited two communications satellites.But the top-level quality control review still continues, and the board is scheduled to present the results of the inquiry July 5, according to Le Gall.STS-134 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Endeavour is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-134. Available in our store!Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is now available in our store. Get this piece of history!Apollo CollageThis beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.STS-133 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Discovery is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-133. Available in our store!Anniversary Shuttle PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This embroidered patch commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program. The design features the space shuttle Columbia's historic maiden flight of April 12, 1981.Mercury anniversaryFree shipping to U.S. addresses!Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alan Shephard's historic Mercury mission with this collectors' item, the official commemorative embroidered patch. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Spaceflight Now +Premium video content for our Spaceflight Now Plus .Atlantis on the padSpace shuttle Atlantis is delivered to Kennedy Space Center's launch pad 39B on August 2 to begin final preparations for blastoff on the STS-115 mission to resume construction of the International Space Station.Atlantis rollout beginsJust after 1 a.m. local time August 2, the crawler-transporter began the slow move out of the Vehicle Assembly Building carrying space shuttle Atlantis toward the launch pad.STS-34: Galileo launchThe long voyage of exploration to Jupiter and its many moons by the Galileo spacecraft began on October 18, 1989 with launch from Kennedy Space Center aboard the space shuttle Atlantis. The crew of mission STS-34 tell the story of their flight to dispatch the probe -- fitted with an Inertial Upper Stage rocket motor -- during this post-flight presentation film.Spaceflight Now +Premium video content for our Spaceflight Now Plus .Mars rover seen by orbiterDazzling images from Mars are revealed by scientists. The robotic rover Opportunity has reached the massive Victoria crater with its steep cliffs and layers of rock exposing the planet's geologic history. Meanwhile, the new Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has photographed the rover and its surroundings from high above.STS-35: Insights into lifestyles of the galaxiesLoaded with a package of telescopes in its payload bay, shuttle Columbia soared into space for the first ASTRO mission in December 1990. The crew narrates this highlights film from the STS-35 mission in which the astronauts worked around the clock in two shifts to operate the observatory. The flight launched and then landed at night, and included the astronauts teaching from space. Hubble discoveryn this news conference from NASA Headquarters, scientists announce the Hubble Space Telescope's discovery of 16 extrasolar planet candidates orbiting a variety of distant stars in the central region of our Milky Way galaxy. Five of the newly found planets represent a new extreme type of planet not found in any nearby searches.Flight 181: Ariane 5/ATV Countdown TimelineSPACEFLIGHT NOW

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Posted: February 24, 2011NOTE: GMT is +5 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.DockingFebruary 24, 20111137 GMT....S-1/2 hold point. Distance: 24.2 miles (39 km) behind and 3.1 miles (5 km) below space station.1223 GMT....S1 hold point. Distance: 9.6 miles (15.5 km) behind and 3.1 miles (5 km) below space station.1309 GMT....S2 hold point arrival. Distance: 2.2 miles (3.5 km) behind space station. The ATV also reaches the same altitude as the space station.1309 - 1341 GMT....Turn on external lights; KURS activation; begin using relative GPS.1341 GMT....S2 hold point departure.1351 GMT....Orbital sunrise.1421 GMT....S3 hold point arrival. Distance: 817 feet (249 m) behind space station.1421 - 1500 GMT....Activate videometer and telegoniometer instruments; ATV-CC GO/NO-GO.1447 GMT....Orbital sunset.1500 GMT....S3 hold point departure.1522 GMT....Orbital sunrise.1523 GMT....S4 hold point arrival. Distance: 62 feet (19 m) behind space station.1523 - 1538 GMT....Pointing maneuver; ATV-CC GO/NO-GO.1538 GMT....S4 hold point departure.1540 GMT....S41 hold point arrival. Distance: 36 feet (11 m) behind space station.1540 - 1545 GMT....ATV-CC GO/NO-GO.1545 GMT....S41 hold point departure.1549 GMT....CAPTURE. Johannes Kepler's forward docking cone is captured by the aft port of the station's Zvezda service module.1619 GMT....Orbital sunset.Data source: ESAFinal Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is now available in our store. Get this piece of history!STS-134 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Endeavour is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-134. Available in our store!Ares 1-X PatchThe official embroidered patch for the Ares 1-X rocket test flight, is available for purchase.Apollo CollageThis beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.Project OrionThe Orion crew exploration vehicle is NASA's first new human spacecraft developed since the space shuttle a quarter-century earlier. The capsule is one of the key elements of returning astronauts to the Moon.Fallen Heroes Patch CollectionThe official patches from Apollo 1, the shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews are available in the store. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Commercial and military craft share a ride on Ariane 5 SPACEFLIGHT NOWPosted: October 1, 2009 Continuing an enviable string of success, the Ariane 5 team flew its fifth rocket of the year Thursday night topped with a high performance Spanish broadcasting satellite and a secure German military communications craft. Credit: Arianespace Liftoff into clear skies occurred precisely on time at 2159 GMT (5:59 p.m. EDT) from the Guiana Space Center on the northeastern shore of South America.The Ariane soared eastward on a powered flight lasting nearly 25 minutes to the targeted geosynchronous transfer orbit.After the cryogenic engine of the upper stage completed firing, the rocket performed a series of autonomous maneuvers to deploy Amazonas 2, a commercial telecommunications spacecraft to cover the Americas, and COMSATBw 1, an orbiting relay platform for the German Ministry of Defence."I think you have seen a perfect launch," Jean-Yves Le Gall, chairman and CEO of Arianespace, told his customers observing the flight in the control center. The Ariane achieved a highly elliptical orbit stretching 22,345 miles at its farthest point from Earth and 155 miles at the nearest. The satellites will use their onboard engines to circularize the orbit and reach geostationary slots, with Amazonas 2 planning three burns and COMSATBw 1 needing four maneuvers over the next several days. EADS Astrium built Amazonas 2 spacecraft using the Eurostar E3000 model offering. The 12,000-pound satellite is equipped with 54 Ku-band and 10 C-band transponders for communications services to North, Central and South America."Amazonas 2 is the most powerful satellite built by Astrium up to now," said Antonio Abad, the Amazonas 2 spacecraft mission director. An artist's concept of Amazonas 2. Credit: AstriumSatellite operator HISPASAT, headquartered in Madrid, will add Amazonas 2 into its fleet of communications spacecraft. The commercial success of the company's Amazonas 1 satellite, deployed in 2004, prompted development of this follow-on powerhouse spacecraft.Amazonas 2 has 25 percent more transponders, 60 percent more power while only having 20 percent more mass than Amazonas 1, Abad said."With Amazonas 2, HISPASAT doubles its capacity over America and consolidates its leadership on this continent," said Petra Mateos-Aparicio, president of HISPASAT."It is a technologically advanced, high performance satellite that allows HISPASAT to increase its range of high quality communications services. With its 64 transponders, Amazonas 2 is the largest satellite with pan-American coverage and it positions HISPASAT as the benchmark satellite operator in Spanish and Portuguese speaking markets."Amazonas 2 will be parked in geostationary orbit at 61 degrees West longitude. It can reach from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego.COMSATBw 1 is the first of two such satellites that will be launched in a program for the German Armed Forces' own military communications architecture.Secure and reliable transmissions via this satellite, plus the sister-craft going up early next year, will enable voice and data relay, video and multimedia broadcasting."Troops in the field will have better connection back to home and within the field. Better connection means higher data rates, more services, better services, more robust communication and greater flexibility," said Ludwig Laux, chief technical officer MILSAT Services, the prime contractor the satellite system.Constructed around Thales Alenia Space's Spacebus 3000B design, the 5,400-pound craft has four super-high-frequency and five ultra-high-frequency transponders. It will be positioned at 63 degrees East longitude. An artist's concept of COMSATBw 1 and 2. Credit: AstriumThe two-satellite network will cover a zone stretching from the Americas to the Far East, providing an independent communications link between the German government, military leaders and their deployed forces. Thursday's launch was the 33rd consecutive success for the heavy-lift Ariane 5 vehicle, including five missions just this year."From the beginning of the year, we have launched seven commercial satellites and two astronomical satellites, Herschel and Planck," Le Gall said.Arianespace's next Ariane 5 rocket has been stacked atop a mobile launching platform in preparation to receive its dual communications satellite cargo -- the SES World Skies' NSS 12 for coverage across the Eastern Hemisphere and Telenor's Thor 6 to serve the Nordic countries. That launch is targeted for October 29.What's more, the rocket slated to fly the year's seventh and final flight has arrived at the launch site from Europe to begin assembly for its December blastoff. "So as you can see, the end of the year is going to be very busy with two other launches...and 2010 will continue at the same pace," said Le Gall.Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is now available in our store. Get this piece of history!STS-134 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Endeavour is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-134. Available in our store!Ares 1-X PatchThe official embroidered patch for the Ares 1-X rocket test flight, is available for purchase.Apollo CollageThis beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.Project OrionThe Orion crew exploration vehicle is NASA's first new human spacecraft developed since the space shuttle a quarter-century earlier. The capsule is one of the key elements of returning astronauts to the Moon.Fallen Heroes Patch CollectionThe official patches from Apollo 1, the shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews are available in the store. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Cosmic time machine set for launch into space Thursday SPACEFLIGHT NOWPosted: May 13, 2009Europe is planning to launch a sharp-eyed observatory Thursday to give humans their furthest look back in time to see the cosmic fingerprint of the Big Bang. An artist's concept of the Planck spacecraft. Credit: ESAThe 600 million euro, or $820 million, mission will sharpen cosmologists'understanding of how the early universe transformed from a ball of densehot gas to the formation of complex structures like galaxies and stars."Cosmology is the science that deals with the structure and the contentsof the universe," said Jan Tauber, the mission's project scientist at theEuropean Space Agency. "Planck is quite important for (everyone) who isinterested in the universe that we live in."The Planck observatory will observe the cosmic microwave backgroundradiation left over about 380,000 years after the Big Bang. The CMB isconsidered the first light from the young universe after matter and lightcould exist independently as the universe cooled."Planck is going to take a picture of the universe when it was veryyoung," Tauber said.Scientists estimate the universe is about 13.7 billion years old andformed when a compressed ball of hot matter exploded outward in anunimaginably intense event called the Big Bang."It's like looking at the first day in the life of a human being," Taubersaid.The 4,235-pound spacecraft stands 13.8 feet tall and also has a diameterof about 13.8 feet. It was built by an industrial consortium led by ThalesAlenia Space of France.The mission was named for Max Planck, a German physicist that establishedthe quantum theory, which revolutioned scientists' understanding of atomicand subatomic processes.Liftoff is set for 1312 GMT (9:12 a.m. EDT) Thursday aboard a commercialAriane 5 rocket launched from Kourou, French Guiana.Planck will share the Ariane 5 launch with Herschel, the world's mostadvanced infrared telescope designed to help scientists learn more aboutstar formation and the evolution of galaxies.Herschel will first separate from the Ariane 5, followed by the deploymentof Planck about 28 minutes after launch.The Ariane 5 is boosting the spacecraft into an unusually high orbitstretching to an altitude of more than 700,000 miles. Both payloads arebound to the second Lagrange point nearly 1 million miles from the nightside of Earth, four times past the orbit of the moon.The L2 point is a popular destination for astronomy missions because itwas far enough away from Earth to rid the observatories of interferingradiation, but close enough to allow regular high-band communications withground stations."We can turn our back to the sun, the Earth and the moon and point thesatellite into deep space so it cools down very effectively," Tauber said.L2 is the point where the tug of gravity from the Earth and sun balance,allowing spacecraft stationed there to stay in lockstep with the planet asit circles the sun."There are a lot of advantages of being at L2. It just takes a big rocketto get you there, but we have one so that's OK," Tauber said.Planck will reach L2 about two months after launch and enter a loopingorbit around the point with an average amplitude of about 250,000 miles.The spacecraft's thrusters will be fired to put it on a differenttrajectory from Herschel, which is headed for a larger orbit around L2.Engineers will immediately begin testing Planck's systems after separatingfrom the launcher, but science operations can't begin until the probearrives at L2, according to Thomas Passvogel, ESA's project manager forthe Herschel and Planck missions.It will take 50 days for pressurized helium aboard Planck to cool down theobservatory's detectors enough to begin observations, Passvogel said.Planck's Low Frequency Instrument must be chilled to 20 Kelvin, or about-424 degrees Fahrenheit.The helium must cool Planck's High Frequency Instrument to one-tenth of adegree above absolute zero, the coldest temperature physically possible.NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory provided part of Planck's cooling system,amplifier technology for the LFI unit, and critical detectors for the HFIpayload.U.S. and Canadian researchers are also part of the Planck science team.The agency's investment in Planck totals about $117 million, according toa NASA spokesperson.The instruments must be cold enough to sense warmth from the cosmicmicrowave background in the furthest reaches of the universe, whichaverages about 2.7 Kelvin, or -455 degrees Fahrenheit.LFI's science team is led by researchers in Italy and HFI was provided byscientists led French principal investigators."The cosmic microwave background shows us the universe directly at age400,000 years, not the movie, not the historical novel, but the originalphotons," said Charles Lawrence, Planck project scientist at NASA.Warm sensors would be swamped by hot nearby objects, washing out the coldradiation left over from the Big Bang, according to Tauber.Planck will measure subtle differences in the CMB across the entire sky."The signals we are trying to detect are variations about a millionth ofthe average (CMB) temperature," Tauber said.Officials say Planck will measure the CMB up to the limits of fundamentalastrophysics, obtaining as much information as can possibly be learned bystudying the primordial radiation, according to ESA."Planck is certainly pushing the boundaries," Tauber said."Planck is trying to measure a signal that would be comparable tomeasuring from Earth the natural heat emission of a small animal like arabbit that would be placed on the moon," Tauber said.Although Planck will be gathering incoming light at very low temperatures,the CMB had a temperature of nearly 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit when thelight was emitted.The energy cooled and stretched to longer wavelengths over time becausethe universe is expanding, according to scientists.Planck will collect the light through a mirror with a diameter of 1.5meters, or about 5 feet.Scientists must analyze the images to remove microwave sources within theMilky Way to get a clear picture of the CMB, according to Tauber.The observatory will map the CMB with higher fidelity than its twopredecessors, NASA's COBE and WMAP missions."Planck will give us the clearest view ever of this baby universe, showingus the results of physical processes in the first brief moments after theBig Bang, and the starting point for the formation of stars, galaxies andclusters of galaxies," Lawrence said.Launched in 1989, COBE mapped variations in CMB across the whole sky andearned a Nobel Prize for Physics for two of the mission's scientists.WMAP began observing the CMB in 2001 to create a more detailed map. Theprobe is still operating and returning data.Planck will fill in the rest of the CMB picture. And there is a lot leftto learn, Tauber said."We still have about 15 times more information that we can extract inrespect to WMAP," Tauber said.Planck's instruments also cover a frequency range 10 times larger than WMAP.But WMAP is no slouch.Scientists extrapolated data from WMAP to pin down the age of the universeto 13.73 billion years, accurate to within about 120 million years.WMAP found that dark matter, material not made of atoms, makes up about23.3 percent of the universe. WMAP also confirmed the existence of darkenergy as 72.1 percent of the universe, causing its expansion to speed up."The Planck High Frequency Instrument has a raw sensitivity advantage, soPlanck should significantly improve upon WMAP," said Chuck Bennett, WMAP'sprincipal investigator. "We are expecting great things out of the Planckmission."Planck will build on the legacy of WMAP by helping scientists improvetheir understanding of dark energy and test the cosmology inflationtheory, which states that the universe underwent a rapid, exponentialexpansion a fraction of a second after the Big Bang."In some ways, Planck is a follow-on to other missions and will completewhat they have done," Tauber said. "But it will also yield a lot of newinformation in other areas, and possibly even big discoveries."The observatory could confirm inflation occurred if it can detect B-modes,a type of signal polarization scientists think was caused by ancientgravity from clumps of mass in the early universe."That's considered a very big thing in cosmology nowadays, and I thinkPlanck is the mission that has a chance to detect that," Tauber said.Confirmation of the inflation theory would mean scientists would havetheir first insight into the initial second of the history of theuniverse, which would be a substantial discovery unlike anything before incosmology.Officials expect Planck will begin scanning the sky about three monthsafter launch. Plans call for the observatory to complete at least twoall-sky maps by the end of the mission, which is currently expected aroundthe end of 2010.It may be three or four years before the Planck team is ready to presentthe mission's results, Tauber said.Scientists are waiting to see what Planck learns before proposing anothermission dedicated to observing the CMB."We first have to see what Planck does, and then the picture will be farclearer to see if it's worth trying to design a new mission," Tauber said.Planck was first studied by ESA in 1994, beginning a 15-year journey fromthe drawing board to the launch pad.That wait will be over Thursday, but it will be just the start of a newvoyage back in time for cosmologists and science buffs."Now we just have to wait on the results, but they will be amazing,"Passvogel said.STS-134 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Endeavour is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-134. Available in our store!Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is now available in our store. Get this piece of history!Apollo CollageThis beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.STS-133 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Discovery is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-133. Available in our store!Anniversary Shuttle PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This embroidered patch commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program. The design features the space shuttle Columbia's historic maiden flight of April 12, 1981.Mercury anniversaryFree shipping to U.S. addresses!Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alan Shephard's historic Mercury mission with this collectors' item, the official commemorative embroidered patch. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Engineers assess problem aboard Jules Verne craft BY STEPHEN CLARKSPACEFLIGHT NOWPosted: March 9, 2008An electronics box on Europe's first cargo ship shut down a propulsion system command chain responsible for a quarter of the space-age delivery truck's maneuvering thrusters, officials said Sunday."We really don't think it's anything serious, but we're studying itprudently," said Alan Thirkettle, the European Space Agency'sinternational space station program manager. Credit: ESAOfficials stationed in a control center in Toulouse, France, are workingfeverishly to analyze a problem that appeared in one of four sets ofelectronics governing the propulsion system of Jules Verne, the firstEuropean Automated Transfer Vehicle.During the propulsion system's activation sequence moments after reachingorbit, Jules Verne's computers noticed a slight pressure differencebetween the ship's hydrazine fuel and nitrogen tetroxide oxidizer beingfed through valves. The suspect chain controls seven of 28 attitudecontrol jets and one the ship's four main engines, according to NicolasChamussy, ATV program manager for contractor EADS Astrium."This is something we're looking at in a lot of detail now," said JohnEllwood, ATV project manager. "I think the very good news is that all thefailure detection and recovery action all went perfectly. It measured asmall anomaly, immediately went onto the other chain, which is workingperfectly."Jules Verne's main engines are positioned at the back end of thespacecraft, while the smaller thrusters are scattered across the exteriorof the ship.The system is certified to work with three electronics chains, butofficials want the cushion of a backup system, particularly during precisemaneuvers near the space station."There is an off-nominal situation somewhere in one of the four propulsionchains, and that's what we now investigate," Thirkettle told Spaceflight Now.In the meantime, managers ordered controllers to temporarily halt plansfor the vessel's first major engine firing later today. The maneuver wasthe first in a series of burns designed to raise the ship's altitude,culminating in the craft's arrival in a parking orbit about 1,200 miles infront of the station by March 19."We will be a bit cautious now because we're now on a redundant chain, sowe don't want to go on another redundant chain," Ellwood said.ESA and EADS Astrium engineers are devising a plan to reintegrate theelectronics that ordered the switch into the propulsion system's commandstructure over the next few days. Ellwood said he expects the reconfiguredelectronics will help engineers determine what happened in the firstpropulsion chain.The electronics system is designed to turn itself off after switchingchains in case the problem lies within the electronics box itself.The issue could be due to an electronic fault or a problem within a mazeof propellant and helium gas lines leading from Jules Verne's tanks to theship's thrusters, Ellwood said.A command box called Propulsion Drive Electronics, or PDE, controls theextensive network of tanks, pipes, valves, and thrusters."What happened last night was the PDE detected there was some differencein the pressures between the (nitrogen tetroxide) and the (hydrazine),said this is an anomaly, and as planned, the software took over and put itonto the other chain," Ellwood said.If engineers are able to resolve the issue, the chain could be restored tooperational capability after extensive testing, Chamussy said.Officials said engineers have ample time to diagnose the trouble. JulesVerne was to have loitered ahead of the outpost for more than a week towait out the shuttle Endeavour's assembly mission to the complex,scheduled to wrap up with an undocking March 24.Plans then called for the ATV to move toward the station, conducting two"demo days" to check out its rendezvous capabilities before pressing aheadwith docking April 3."We have the 10-day margin before we need to start going into demo days atthe end of the month," Ellwood said.The electronics snafu is the first glitch in Jules Verne's mission, whichbegan smoothly at 0403 GMT Sunday (11:03 p.m. EST Saturday night) withblastoff from the French-controlled spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.The heavy-lifting Ariane 5 rocket, specially modified for the ATV mission,released Jules Verne at about 0510 GMT (12:10 a.m. EST). Telemetry fromthe nearly 43,000-pound spacecraft confirmed it unfurled its four solararray wings and deployed a critical communications boom within the firstthree hours after launch."We can simulate until the cows come home, but this is the firstopportunity the control team has to work a real off-nominal situation,"Thirkettle said.Additional coverage for subscribers:VIDEO:ARIANE 5 ROCKET BLASTS OFF WITH JULES VERNE VIDEO:ROLLOUT OF ARIANE 5 ROCKET TO LAUNCH PAD John Glenn Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The historic first orbital flight by an American is marked by this commemorative patch for John Glenn and Friendship 7.Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is available in our store. Get this piece of history!Celebrate the shuttle programFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This special commemorative patch marks the retirement of NASA's Space Shuttle Program. Available in our store!Anniversary Shuttle PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This embroidered patch commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program. The design features the space shuttle Columbia's historic maiden flight of April 12, 1981.Mercury anniversaryFree shipping to U.S. addresses!Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alan Shephard's historic Mercury mission with this collectors' item, the official commemorative embroidered patch.Fallen Heroes Patch CollectionThe official patches from Apollo 1, the shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews are available in the store. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Europe dispatches Johannes Kepler to space station SPACEFLIGHT NOWPosted: February 17, 2011 A European robotic resupply spacecraft soared into orbit on an Ariane 5 rocket Wednesday, successfully beginning an eight-day chase of the International Space Station with fresh experiments, crew provisions, oxygen and propellant. The Ariane 5 rocket blasted off at 2151 GMT from Kourou, French Guiana. Credit: Stephane Corvaja/ESAThe Automated Transfer Vehicle lifted off atop an Ariane 5 rocket at 2151 GMT (4:51 p.m. EST) from the French-run Guiana Space Center in South America. Dodging nearby rainshowers and thunderstorms, the 16-story launcher quickly vaulted into a cloudy sky just after sunset.The launch was a day later than planned because an erroneous measurement in the Ariane 5's liquid oxygen propellant system triggered an automatic hold in the countdown Tuesday.No significant glitches occurred in Wednesday's countdown, and the rocket's Vulcain 2 main engine ignited at 2150:55 GMT (4:50:55 p.m. EST), ramping up to nearly 300,000 pounds of thrust. Seven seconds later, after a computer-run health check of the launcher, the Ariane 5's twin solid rocket boosters ignited with an explosive thud to push the vehicle into the sky and northeast from the South America coastline.The Ariane 5 rocket deployed the ATV payload in space 64 minutes later over the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand. The rocket released the 44,000-pound spacecraft, the heaviest payload ever launched by Ariane, right on the mark in a nearly perfect circular orbit 160 miles above Earth."This exceptional launch was the 200th for Ariane, and therefore marks a particularly important step for European space," said Jean-Yves Le Gall, chairman and CEO of Arianespace, the commercial operator of the Ariane rocket family. Astronauts on the International Space Station took advantage of some fortuitous orbital mechanics to snap pictures of the Ariane 5 rocket ascending from the jungles of French Guiana. Italian flight engineer Paolo Nespoli sent back two photos from the lab's cupola module."We usually see an Ariane launch from the ground, but this time we have pictures from yet another perspective, in space," said Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA's director general. ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli took this picture of the Ariane 5 launch from the space station. Credit: NASA/ESAChristened Johannes Kepler after the famous German astronomer and mathematician, the 33-foot-long spacecraft deployed its four solar array wings about 25 minutes later. Arranged in an X-shaped pattern, the solar panels stretch 73 feet across and began charging the ship's batteries as planned, according to the European Space Agency.The cylindrical spaceship also activated its GPS satellite navigation system and deployed a communications antenna to exchange data with the space station during docking, according to Nico Dettman, ESA's ATV program manager.It is the second flight of Europe's ATV system, which was started in 1995 to help pay for ESA's share of the space station's operating costs. The agency spent about $2 billion developing the high-tech spacecraft, and each mission costs about $600 million.ESA plans up to seven ATV missions through about 2017. The first ATV flight, nicknamed Jules Verne, successfully demonstrated the craft's design in 2008. The next European resupply freighter is due to launch in February 2012."ATV Johannes Kepler is inaugurating our regular service line to the ISS," said Simonetta Di Pippo, ESA's director for human spaceflight.The automated cargo craft has a series of orbit-raising and rendezvous engine burns planned over the next week, leading to a docking with the space station's Zvezda module Feb. 24 at about 1046 GMT (10:46 a.m. EST).The space station docking is scheduled just hours before the launch of space shuttle Discovery, which is targeting blastoff for 2150 GMT (4:50 p.m. EST) the same day.Despite initial reports the ATV's launch delay this week would postpone Discovery's flight by a day, a NASA spokesperson Wednesday said the shuttle could still lift off Feb. 24. NASA managers will make a formal decision on Discovery's launch date Friday in a flight readiness review. Artist's concept of the ATV approaching the space station. Credit: ESAThe station station is in the middle of a jam-packed manifest of visiting servicing and assembly missions.A Russian Progress unmanned resupply craft launched to the outpost last month and another Progress is slated to leave this weekend. Japan's H-2 Transfer Vehicle, similar in size to the ATV, arrived at the station Jan. 27, and the shuttle Discovery will bring an Italian stowage module to the lab next week."This launch takes place in a crowded and changing manifest for the ISS access, with HTV, Progress, ATV and the shuttle coming and going," Dordain said.The ATV will be the biggest space station resupply craft after the shuttle's retirement, placing it in a crucial role to keep the lab operating. It has the ability to feed rocket propellant, water and oxygen into the space station, plus haul dry cargo such as experiments and provisions for the outpost's residents.Once the space shuttle is retired later this year, the station will rely on a mixed fleet of logistics vehicles for cargo needs. NASA is partnering with SpaceX and Orbital Sciences Corp. to develop commercial resupply capsules expected to be operational by early 2012.The Johannes Kepler mission carries about 3,500 pounds of dry cargo in its pressurized cabin to be manually unloaded by the astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the space station. About 1,875 pounds of maneuvering propellant and 220 pounds of breathing oxygen will be transferred through plumbing from the ATV to the Russian segment of the complex.Another 14,475 pounds of rocket fuel inside the spacecraft will guide the ATV to the space station and boost the lab's orbit by up to 25 miles this spring.John Glenn Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The historic first orbital flight by an American is marked by this commemorative patch for John Glenn and Friendship 7.Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is available in our store. Get this piece of history!Celebrate the shuttle programFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This special commemorative patch marks the retirement of NASA's Space Shuttle Program. Available in our store!Anniversary Shuttle PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This embroidered patch commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program. The design features the space shuttle Columbia's historic maiden flight of April 12, 1981.Mercury anniversaryFree shipping to U.S. addresses!Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alan Shephard's historic Mercury mission with this collectors' item, the official commemorative embroidered patch.Fallen Heroes Patch CollectionThe official patches from Apollo 1, the shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews are available in the store. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.European spacecraft to put cold eyes on the Universe SPACEFLIGHT NOWPosted: May 13, 2009The largest space telescope ever launched is set to begin its journey into deep space Thursday, penning the first chapter of a three-year mission that will peer deep into unseen cold and distant parts of the universe. An artist's concept of the Herschel spacecraft. Credit: ESAEurope's Herschel observatory, a massive spacecraft more than two decadesin the making, will give scientists their best look yet into how new starsand galaxies form and evolve through billions of years.It all begins Thursday with a scheduled launch at 1312 GMT (9:12 a.m. EDT)aboard a commercial Ariane 5 rocket based at Kourou, French Guiana, alongthe northeast coast of South America.The 7,500-pound spacecraft will ride into space with Planck, another ESAobservatory designed to map the primordial universe.Herschel will be deployed first, separating from the Ariane 5's upperstage 26 minutes after liftoff. Planck will follow about two-and-a-halfminutes later.The observatory is shaped like a tube, standing nearly 25 feet tall andstretching almost 15 feet across. Thales Alenia Space of France led a teamof industrial contractors from 17 countries that built the spacecraft.The spacecraft is named for William Herschel, the German-born Britishastronomer that discovered Uranus and infrared radiation.The telescope's three instruments will look into far infrared lightwavelengths never before studied, allowing the sensors to see through dustclouds and deep into star-forming regions across the Milky Way and othergalaxies."I like to say that if you want to understand the life of a star you makea comparison with the lives of people," said Goran Pilbratt, Herschel'sproject scientist at the European Space Agency.Observatories like the Hubble Space Telescope that detect visible lightcan see "adult" stars and most infrared instruments can take pictures of"child" stars, Pilbratt said.But Herschel will be able to see much more, thanks to a suite of high-techdetectors and a perfectly-crafted primary mirror spanning three-and-a-halfmeters, or about 11.5 feet, in diameter."We're going to see the embryos, the ones that are not born yet. We'regoing to see right into the wombs where stars are born," Pilbratt said.Stars form inside relatively cool clouds of dust and gas that hide stellarincubation from normal telescopes designed to magnify what could be seenby the human eye."The birth of new stars takes place in these very optically opaque cloudsof dust and gas," said Paul Goldsmith, NASA's Herschel project scientist.Infrared telescopes like Herschel can see through the enshrouding cloudsto see condensing gas and dust before stars can flicker to life."That's what I think is going to be most exciting, to really be able toget this almost unblocked, highly detailed view of what's going on insidethese clouds," Goldsmith said.Herschel is sensitive enough to even see star formation in other galaxies.Another objective of the mission is to take a census of forming stars inour galactic neighborhood.The observatory will look far back in time to study how galaxies formedand evolved up to 10 billion years ago, during the first three billionyears after the Big Bang."Galaxies evolve by the formation of new stars, especially massive starsthat then die and explode as supernovae and enrich galaxies with heavyelements. They put so much energy out that they really dominate thestructures of these galaxies," Goldsmith said.Scientists will also focus Herschel's telescope on debris clouds aroundother stars to learn more about how planetary systems form.Closer to home, Herschel will help astronomers create highly-detailedchemical maps of objects in the solar system. The observatory will usespectrometers to probe the composition of comets, which scientists believeharbor the frozen building blocks of the solar system.NASA contributed critical detecting equipment, electronics and other keytechnologies to two of Herschel's three instruments, boosting theirobserving capability.A NASA Herschel Science Center has also been established at the CaliforniaInstitute of Technology's Infrared Processing and Analysis Center, whichalso oversees data gathered by the agency's Spitzer Space Telescope.NASA's contributions are valued at $272 million, including spacecrafthardware and operational costs, according to an agency spokesperson.The total cost of the Herschel mission is quoted at 1 billion euros, ornearly $1.3 billion in current exchange rates. That number equates toabout 1 million euros for each day of Herschel's primary mission, Pilbrattsaid.The cost also includes figures for the construction of the spacecraft,science instruments, the launch vehicle and projected operations.Scientists began studying a mission like Herschel in the early 1980s, butit has taken nearly three decades to go from white papers to the launchpad.Industrial production of the observatory, then called the Far InfraredSpace Telescope, began in 2001."I know people who have been dreaming about this since the 1970s and Ihave myself been working full time on Herschel since 1991, which is muchlonger than industry has been on the job," Pilbratt said.NASA later joined the mission to add technical expertise and broaden thebase of researchers that will use the telescope.Herschel's 11.5-foot-wide primary mirror, the largest ever flown in space,is made of silicon carbide, a ceramic material with properties similar toglass.Engineers at Astrium in Toulouse, France, assembled the mirror from 12segments after machining, polishing and coating the pieces.Herschel's mirror has a collecting area of about 100 square feet, around15 times larger than NASA's Spitzer observatory. Herschel's mirror isnearly four feet wider than the mirror on Hubble."Our mirror is much larger, which will enable us to not only collect moreenergy but to see much sharper at these wavelengths," Pilbratt said.The primary mirror and a secondary mirror will focus incoming light into afocal plane inside the cryostat, an insulated vacuum flask that providescooling to ultra-sensitive detectors to a fraction of a degree above thecoldest temperature possible.The telescope design is relatively simple, but it relies on exotictechnologies that must withstand a wide range of temperatures and theintense vibrations of launch, according to Pilbratt.Herschel will launch with 2,300 liters, or about 607 gallons, of cryogenicliquid helium to chill the telescope's coldest detector to a temperatureof 0.3 Kelvin, or below -459 degrees Fahrenheit.The detectors must be subjected to such frigid conditions to see faintemissions of cold objects scattered in the distant universe. Herschel willdetect light from material as cold as -441 degrees Fahrenheit.Herschel's instruments come from scientists in 18 countries, includingEuropean states, the United States, Russia, China, Canada, and Taiwan.The Photodetector Array Camera and Spectrometer and the Spectral andPhotometric Imaging Receiver, respectively called PACS and SPIRE, willcapture images in a wide swath of the electromagnetic spectrum rangingfrom infrared to submillimeter wavelengths.Both instruments can take pictures and slice infrared light into itsspectral components, like the colors of a rainbow. This capability willhelp scientists remotely determine what chemicals are present inHerschel's celestial targets.A third instrument, called the Heterodyne Instrument for the Far Infrared,will obtain revolutionary new information about the composition and motionof star-forming regions, galactic nuclei and interstellar gas.Scientists measure infrared light wavelengths in microns, a unit equal toone-millionth of a meter.Herschel will observe light in wavelengths from about 55 microns to nearly700 microns, according to Pilbratt.Spitzer, today's standard-bearer in infrared astronomy, can resolvewavelengths from 3 microns to about 160 microns."Where Spitzer leaves off, that's where Herschel is just getting going,"Goldsmith said. "We're looking at even longer wavelengths, which means wecan see even better into these opaque clouds of dust."Herschel overlaps Spitzer in longer infrared wavelengths and the jointNASA and ESA James Webb Space Telescope will supplant Spitzer's coverageof shorter wavelengths in even finer detail."There are not only orders of magnitude improvements for being able to dothe same observations, but there are capabilities on Herschel and Webbthat Spitzer never had even on its best day," said Mike Werner, NASA'sSpitzer project scientist.JWST is also billed as a replacement for Hubble because it is sensitive tooptical and near infrared light. The next-generation telescope will launchin late 2013 or 2014.Spitzer was preceded by the Infrared Astronomical Satellite and theInfrared Space Observatory. Japan's Akari telescope joined the effort in2006.NASA is also developing an airborne infrared observatory called SOFIA tocomplement the Spitzer and Herschel telescopes.The Earth's atmosphere blocks most infrared emissions from reaching thesurface, so astronomers seeking to detect these wavelengths must usetelescopes in the upper atmosphere or in space."When I first started working in infrared, there was a lot of mystic,jargon and stange things that people did in the infrared, limited byeither the atmosphere or by the properties of our instruments," Wernersaid.Scientists have cleared those hurdles by launching satellites and buildingmore advanced sensors.Goldsmith said it is difficult to predict what Herschel will find becauseit is studying an unexplored part of the spectrum."We haven't had ready access to the wavelengths between infrared andmicrowaves before, in part because Earth's atmosphere blocks them fromreaching the ground," Goldsmith said. "Because our views were so limitedbefore, we can expect a vast range of serendipitous discoveries, from newmolecules in interstellar space to new types of objects."Herschel will spend at least three years watching the cosmos from a postat the second Lagrange point nearly 1 million miles from the night side ofEarth.The L2 point is the location where the gravitational pull from the sunbalances with the tug from Earth.It is a popular destination for deep space observatories because it ispositioned away from natural interference from the Earth, but still closeenough to allow high bandwidth communications between spacecraft andground stations.The Ariane 5 rocket will boost Herschel into an unusually high trajectorystretching beyond the orbit of the moon.It will take Herschel about two months to drift away from Earth and becaptured by L2, where it will enter a looping halo orbit with an averagediameter of about 1 million miles.Officials plan to start activating Herschel and testing its systemsimmediately after launch. Early science observations can begin as soon astesting ends and Herschel opens the door covering the telescope'scryostat, allowing the instruments to cool down."When we first open the cryostat cover, we still have a lot of things todo before we really start doing science," Pilbratt said. "We will be ableto at least start making some nice pictures at that point, so that we havesomething to show."Routine observations should begin about six months after launch, aftercommissioning and performance verifications, according to Pilbratt.Officials have already allocated observing time for the first 18 months ofthe mission for scientists to study the solar system, star-forming regionsand other galaxies.Herschel will also take a deep field image of a dark part of the sky tosee galaxies in the early universe. These observations, similar topictures taken by Hubble, will reveal important information about theevolution of galaxies.NASA scientists have received about one-third of the observing timereleased so far, officials said.Officials will grant researchers more access to the telescope throughoutits mission. Scientists from Herschel's instrument team are guaranteedabout one-third of the total observing time, and the rest will be releasedto the worldwide scientific community.Plans call for Herschel to offer about 7,000 hours of science time per year.Herschel's observations program is managed by officials at the mission'sscience center in Spain. Mission operations will be conducted from theEuropean Space Operations Center in Darmstadt, Germany.Although Herschel's primary mission is approved for three years, thespacecract carries enough liquid helium to cool its instruments for up tofour years.Scientists envision operating Herschel until the helium runs out tomaximize the mission's scientific return."We have an observatory whose lifetime is limited by something that isboiling away constantly, so we will endeavor to waste as little time aspossible," Pilbratt said.STS-134 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Endeavour is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-134. Available in our store!Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is now available in our store. Get this piece of history!Apollo CollageThis beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.STS-133 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Discovery is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-133. Available in our store!Anniversary Shuttle PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This embroidered patch commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program. The design features the space shuttle Columbia's historic maiden flight of April 12, 1981.Mercury anniversaryFree shipping to U.S. addresses!Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alan Shephard's historic Mercury mission with this collectors' item, the official commemorative embroidered patch. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Europe's automated cargo ship docks with space station SPACEFLIGHT NOWPosted: February 24, 2011 Europe's second Automated Transfer Vehicle firmly docked to the International Space Station Thursday, delivering fresh equipment, rocket fuel and oxygen to the orbiting lab hours before space shuttle Discovery was scheduled to blast off with even more supplies. Credit: ESANamed for Johannes Kepler, the German astronomer and mathematician, the ATV arrived at the aft port of the station's Zvezda service module at 1559 GMT (10:59 a.m. EST) after a multi-hour rendezvous sequence."With this smooth docking, Johannes Kepler proves to be a great example of the wave of innovation 'made in Europe,'" said Simonetta Di Pippo, head of the European Space Agency's human spaceflight program. "We are more ready than ever to head into an era of autonomy in space exploration."Docking occurred as the vehicles flew near the coast of Liberia in western Africa.Navigating with relative GPS satellite technology and a futuristic laser system, Johannes Kepler approached the space station Thursday morning, stopping occasionally at preset hold points for engineers on the ground to evaluate the mission's progress.The spacecraft appeared from darkness during a dramatic orbital sunrise, looming large with flashing lights just behind the space station. Resembling a Star Wars X-wing fighter, Johannes Kepler glided to a smooth docking about 10 minutes later than planned.The space station crew reconfigured a video overlay computer inside the Zvezda module to allow them to better monitor the ATV's approach, resulting in the brief delay.Hooks and latches engaged a few minutes later to firmly attach the Johannes Kepler spacecraft to the station, clearing the way for the shuttle Discovery to blast off Thursday at 2150 GMT (4:50 p.m. EST).Discovery's dark orange external tank was already filled with more than 500,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellants at the time of the ATV's docking, but NASA was withholding final approval for the shuttle launch until the European mission safely arrived.Space station managers didn't want the ATV docking while Discovery is also at the outpost, but the successful arrival Thursday means there will be no such conflict.Officials worldwide have been carefully managing hectic schedules aboard the space station in recent weeks. Besides the ATV and the space shuttle, Japan's H-2 Transfer Vehicle is delivering cargo to the complex. Smaller Russian Progress freighters have also been coming and going.The space station crew will open up the 31-inch-wide passageway between the ATV and Zvezda Friday, beginning several months of cargo transfers between the supply ship and the orbiting lab.The second of at least five European Space Agency cargo ships, Johannes Kepler blasted off Feb. 16 aboard an Ariane 5 rocket from the Guiana Space Center on the northeastern coast of South America. The spacecraft traveled over eight days and 2.5 million miles to catch up with the space station. Artist's concept of the ATV's laser rendezvous sensor system. Credit: ESAESA developed the ATV to help pay its share of the space station's operating costs. Each mission costs about $600 million, according to European officials.The Automated Transfer Vehicle will be the largest resupply ship for the space station after the shuttle fleet is retired."This is very important for us and for all our partners in the ISS program since, after the withdrawal of the space shuttle, ATV will be the largest servicing vehicle left to support the Station and it is our responsibility to deliver a proper service," Di Pippo said.Europe is weighing modifying the ATV to return experiments and other cargo from the space station to Earth."Thanks to its flexibility, we can think of a wide variety of new space vehicles," Di Pippo said. "ATV could evolve into a future reentry spacecraft to support future orbital infrastructures and exploration missions, carrying people and supplies to lunar orbit."Built by Astrium, the ATV measures 32 feet long and nearly 15 feet wide. Its four solar array wings stretch more than 70 feet across. Four main engines and 20 smaller thrusters guide spacecraft in orbit."The ATV is a tangible proof of the technologically sophisticated space systems that Astrium, as a truly European company, can provide," said Alain Charmeau, CEO of Astrium space transportation. "Our teams in Germany and France worked together in perfect harmony, supported by superb suppliers all around the continent. We are very proud that the fully-automatic docking procedure -- the highlight of the mission -- passed off without a hitch."The Johannes Kepler mission carries about 3,500 pounds of dry cargo in its pressurized cabin to be manually unloaded by the astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the space station. The pressurized supplies include about 1,400 pounds of crew equipment, 1,300 pounds of hardware components and spare parts, 210 pounds of experiment parts, 100 pounds of laptop computers and related supplies, and 60 pounds of spacewalk gear, according to NASA.About 1,875 pounds of maneuvering propellant and 220 pounds of breathing oxygen will be transferred through plumbing from the ATV to the Russian segment of the complex.The ATV's thrusters will burn more than 10,000 pounds of its own fuel to maintain the station's orientation in space and boost the lab's orbit by up to 40 kilometers, or about 25 miles, later this spring.Johannes Kepler is currently scheduled to depart the space station June 4 and plummet back into Earth's atmosphere with a load of trash and refuse. The spaceship and its new cargo of garbage will burn up over the Pacific Ocean.Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is now available in our store. Get this piece of history!STS-134 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Endeavour is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-134. Available in our store!Ares 1-X PatchThe official embroidered patch for the Ares 1-X rocket test flight, is available for purchase.Apollo CollageThis beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.Project OrionThe Orion crew exploration vehicle is NASA's first new human spacecraft developed since the space shuttle a quarter-century earlier. The capsule is one of the key elements of returning astronauts to the Moon.Fallen Heroes Patch CollectionThe official patches from Apollo 1, the shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews are available in the store. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Europe's cargo ship docks to space stationSPACEFLIGHT NOW

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STORY WRITTEN FOR & USED WITH PERMISSIONPosted: June 28, 2014 A giant helium balloon lifted a 3.5-ton flying saucer-shaped research vehicle to an altitude of more than 23 miles Saturday and released it for a dramatic rocket-powered boost through the extreme upper atmosphere to test an inflatable doughnut-like braking system and a huge supersonic parachute needed for future missions to Mars. Artist's concept of the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator. Credit: NASAThe inflatable aero-brake appeared to work normally in live video downlinked from the test vehicle, but the parachute, the largest ever built for deployment at more than twice the speed of sound, failed to fully inflate in a disappointment for flight controllers with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory."PI (principal investigator) has called 'no chute.' We don't have full chute inflation," a flight controller reported.The Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator then fell toward impact in the Pacific Ocean northwest of Hawaii. The carrier balloon apparently came apart after the LDSD's release and it was not immediately clear what recovery crews standing by in the landing zone might be able to retrieve.In any case, the test flight appeared to meet all of its major objectives but one and engineers are hopeful recorded telemetry will shed light on what went wrong with the parachute deploy."Our objectives for this first flight are to launch it from here, get the balloon off and out over the water, to get it up to altitude where we can drop the vehicle and conduct this powered flight and get the data back from it to see how it works," Mark Adler, LDSD project manager at JPL, said before launch.He stressed the test flight was just that, a test flight, and any number of things could go wrong. But "if we fire that motor and we get data back from it, that is a great day. That way we can learn exactly what happened and understand what to do for our next flights."The idea was to put the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator in the thin extreme upper atmosphere, at a velocity of more than four times the speed of sound, to mimic the conditions a Mars-bound spacecraft might experience slamming into the atmosphere of Mars.The goal is to develop new atmospheric braking systems that will allow NASA to launch larger, more sophisticated landers to the red planet.The heaviest spacecraft ever sent to the surface of Mars -- NASA's Mars Science Laboratory, or Curiosity rover -- tipped the scales at about one ton. To get heavier robots to the surface, and eventual crewed spacecraft that could weigh 20 tons or more, NASA must develop better systems to quickly slow large vehicles in the thin martian atmosphere.Enter the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator, or LDSD, the first of three test vehicles to fly in a $200 million research program aimed at developing new technologies for future Mars missions."Landing on Mars is an extremely challenging thing to do," Ian Clark, principal investigator at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said during a preflight briefing. "The atmosphere is extremely thin, it's about 1 percent the density of Earth's atmosphere. That means you need very large devices to react against the atmosphere to create the drag that we use to slow the vehicles down as they enter the atmosphere."If you want to land things that are even heavier than the Mars Science Laboratory, if you want to land several tons -- and as you cast your eyes to the horizon and you think about landing humans on the surface of Mars, missions that will be 10 to 15 tons, 20 tons or more -- you're going to need extremely large drag devices to slow those vehicles down. We don't have those currently, and that's what LDSD is developing." The Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator includes a saucer-shaped decelerator and a new supersonic parachute. Credit: NASAThe test vehicle's high-altitude balloon, filled with 34 million cubic feet of helium, lifted off from the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii, at 2:40 p.m. EDT (GMT-4). Initial attempts to launch the craft earlier this month were blocked by the weather, but conditions were acceptable Saturday and the balloon was cleared for flight.A live television feed showed the giant balloon climbing away, pulling the LDSD from its support cradle and up into the sky for a two-hour 25-minute climb to an altitude of around 120,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean west of the test range.After a series of final readiness checks, commands were sent to release the LDSD from the balloon. As it briefly fell back toward Earth, small rocket motors fired to spin the vehicle up for stability before an ATK Star 48 solid-fuel rocket motor ignited to accelerate the test article and boost it an additional 11 miles to some 180,000 feet, or 34 miles.The test vehicle featured two new technologies. The first was an inflatable torus around a traditional heat shield known as the Supersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator, or SIAD, that gives the test vehicle the general shape of a flying saucer. The second new technology was a huge parachute, the largest ever designed to deploy at more than twice the speed of sound.Flying at more than four times the speed of sound, the flight plan called for the heavily instrumented SIAD torus to inflate, expanding the diameter of the entry vehicle from about 15.4 feet to 19.7 feet. After slowing to about 2.5 times the speed of sound, the parachute was expected to deploy.All of that appeared to go like clockwork."All spin motors fired," someone said as the LDSD fell from the carrier balloon. Seconds later, the Star 48 rocket motor ignited."Mach 1," a flight controller called, monitoring telemetry as the vehicle accelerated through the speed of sound. Seconds later, "Mach 2.""Acceleration is good, vehicle is stable," a controller said.As the spacecraft passed through Mach 3, telemetry showed "acceleration is good, vehicle is stable." Live video showed a torrent of fiery exhaust blasting from the nozzle of the Star 48 as the limb of the Earth wheeled about in the background.A few seconds later, the test vehicle was moving at more than four times the speed of sound. The rocket motor then burned out and small motors fired to stop the vehicle's stabilizing spin.Go-Pro video cameras capatured the inflation of the SIAD, followed by the parachute's release. Live video showed the huge chute streaming behind the test vehicle, but it never inflated to its full 110-foot diameter."Come on..." someone said anxiously. The supersonic parachute on NASA's Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator deployed from the saucer-shaped test vehicle, but it never fully inflated. Credit: NASA TV/Spaceflight NowBut it was not to be. A few moments later, the a flight controller called "PI (principle investigator) has called 'no chute.' We don't have full chute inflation.""I'm going to declare that a bad chute, is that your understanding?" the flight director asked."That's affirm.""Please inform the recovery director we have bad chute."The SIAD torus initially was tested at the Naval Air Weapons Station at China Lake, Calif., using a rocket sled to accelerate the device to several hundred miles per hour. To test the parachute, a long cable was connected, fed through a pulley system and attached to a rocket sled. The parachute then was released from a helicopter, the rocket sled was fired up and the parachute was pulled toward the ground with a force equivalent to about 100,000 pounds of drag.But to fully test the system engineers wanted to duplicate conditions a spacecraft would experience at Mars."What we're trying to do is replicate the environment in which these technologies would be used," Clark said before flight. "That means replicating the atmosphere, in particular the density of the atmosphere, which at Mars is extremely thin. To find (those conditions) we have to go halfway to the edge of space, or about 180,000 feet here on Earth, to test these devices. And we have to go several times the speed of sound."Two more LDSD vehicles are being built for "flights of record" next summer."We've been there before, eight successful landings on the surface of Mars, the United States leads in this area," said Mike Gazarik, director of space technology development at NASA Headquarters. "It's one of the more difficult challenges."When we look at the Curiosity rover, which landed two years ago, it's about a metric ton on the surface of Mars. We know that for exploration, for future robotic exploration, for future human exploration, we need more than that. ... And so for us, it's the challenges of Mars -- how do we get there, how do we land there, how do we live there, how do we leave there?"The Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator "focuses on that very difficult challenge of landing there.""We need to test and we need to learn," Gazarik said. "And we need to do it quickly and efficiently. ... It's about more mass, going to more elevations on the surface of Mars and landing more accurately."STS-134 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Endeavour is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-134. Available in our store!Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is now available in our store. Get this piece of history!Apollo CollageThis beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.STS-133 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Discovery is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-133. Available in our store!Anniversary Shuttle PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This embroidered patch commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program. The design features the space shuttle Columbia's historic maiden flight of April 12, 1981.Mercury anniversaryFree shipping to U.S. addresses!Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alan Shephard's historic Mercury mission with this collectors' item, the official commemorative embroidered patch. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.NASA preps 'flying saucer' for high-altitude test flight BY WILLIAM HARWOOD

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V124: Ariane 40 launches Helios 1BAriane 4 rocket launches French spy satellitesArianespace launched an Ariane 40 rocket carrying two military reconnaissance satellites for the French Ministry of Defence on December 3 from Kourou, French Guiana.John Glenn Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The historic first orbital flight by an American is marked by this commemorative patch for John Glenn and Friendship 7.Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is available in our store. Get this piece of history!Celebrate the shuttle programFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This special commemorative patch marks the retirement of NASA's Space Shuttle Program. Available in our store!Anniversary Shuttle PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This embroidered patch commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program. The design features the space shuttle Columbia's historic maiden flight of April 12, 1981.Mercury anniversaryFree shipping to U.S. addresses!Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alan Shephard's historic Mercury mission with this collectors' item, the official commemorative embroidered patch.Fallen Heroes Patch CollectionThe official patches from Apollo 1, the shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews are available in the store. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Ariane 5 rocket gives weighty cargo ride into orbitBY STEPHEN CLARKSPACEFLIGHT NOWPosted: August 11, 2005Europe's Ariane 5 rocket proved up to the task this morning as it flew into space to deliver the world's heaviest commercial communications satellite that will extend high-speed broadband Internet services to the the most remote locales in the most populated region on Earth.The first Ariane rocket to fly in six months roared into mostly clear pre-dawn skies around its ELA-3 launch pad at 0820:44 GMT (4:20:44 a.m. EDT). The ascent turned night into day across Kourou, situated along French Guiana's northeast Atlantic coastline.It was the 22nd Ariane 5 launcher used since 1996, but the first of the Ariane 5GS variant that features an improved set of solid rocket boosters and additional upper stage propellant.A first launch attempt was aborted with 15 seconds left in the countdown, and officials ordered a delay of 101 minutes as ground teams worked to resolve an errant reading indicating problems with an igniter system used to burn off excess hydrogen molecules seconds before the first stage's Vulcain main engine fires before liftoff.Once that problem was fixed, it only took 28 minutes for the rocket to complete its role to leave the 14,300-pound iPSTAR satellite in an orbit very close to pre-launch predictions. Spacecraft separation occurred at an altitude of 1,170 miles in an egg-shaped orbit that will take the craft to a high point of about 22,293 miles and a low point of 357 miles.Over the coming weeks, iPSTAR will use its propulsion system to raise the orbit's perigee to geostationary altitude and reduce inclination from seven to zero degrees. It will then be guided to a permanent location along the equator at 120 degrees East longitude above Indonesia.Once checked out by manufacturer Space Systems/Loral, control of iPSTAR -- also known as Thaicom 4 -- will be handed over to Shin Satellite, a Thailand-based company that also operates three other space communications birds launched in the 1990s."The iPSTAR is probably one of the company's most prestigious accomplishments in constructing a satellite," said C. Patrick DeWitt, president of Space Systems/Loral. "It is truly something to behold when you look at the spacecraft."The craft's five-panel solar arrays stretch over 85 feet tip-to-tip and provide a maximum of 17.6 kilowatts of power at the beginning of iPSTAR's guaranteed lifetime of 12 years. It is also the heaviest commercial satellite to ever be placed into a geostationary orbit.All three of Shin Satellite's older satellite assets were trucked into space by Ariane 4 rockets from 1993 through 1997.Shin Satellite developed iPSTAR over the past five years as the cornerstone of its new broadband communications architecture that will offer more users access to high-speed Internet products for around $50 a month. The goal is to ensure the services are comparable to ground lines that serve cable and DSL connections."Ariane 5 took the challenge of launching the world's biggest commercial payload," said Dumrong Kasemset, the executive chairman of Shin Satellite. "The successful launch of Thaicom 4 represents the final step in the overall content (improvement).With a high-power complement of Ku-band and Ka-band frequency transponders, iPSTAR can reach customers in at least 14 nations across Asia and the Pacific from India to Japan, and south to Australia and New Zealand.Eighty-four Ku-band spot beams can be aimed toward population centers, while 10 shaped and regional beams can provide more general coverage to rural markets. The spot beams offer 20 times more bandwidth than traditional Ku-band systems. The Ka-band payload operates 18 feeder beams and uses gateways to connect to external networks such as the Internet backbone and telephone lines.The total digital capacity aboard iPSTAR equals that offered by over 1,000 transponders using conventional coding, or somewhere around 45 gigabytes per second.Terminals in homes, urban apartments, businesses, and public locations -- or "hotspots" -- can transmit and receive broadband signals to and from iPSTAR.Space-based broadband access has several advantages over terrestrial Internet services because users to not have to wrestle with the normal worries of congestion and slow connections that are a product of land lines. Larger coverage areas are available when compared to conventional wireless systems, and services can be deployed more quickly, officials say.Essentially, more people should be served by the type of Internet access that only recently was reserved for the most connected and populated parts of the Asian continent.Corporate applications for this capability include voice transmission via telephony, broadcasting via the web, videoconferencing, and virtual private networking at lower cost compared to the wide area networks often used today.This morning's mission was just the second conducted this year by launch provider Arianespace, after a test flight of the Ariane 5 ECA was successfully carried out on February 12. Since then, launch teams have awaited the delivery of several payloads and the resolution of technical problems encountered with both satellites and rockets being readied for liftoff.In particular, Flight 166 faced several delays before iPSTAR finally arrived from its Loral factory in California in early June. In addition, an incident occurred during the fueling operations of the Ariane 5's storable propellant upper stage before a planned launch attempt last month."As a safety measure it was decided to replace the stage by another one," Arianespace spokesman Aaron Lewis said.Arianespace officials say they expect about four more missions this year, including one flight of the upgraded Ariane 5 ECA version. The next liftoff is expected on September 29 when another Ariane 5G will conduct a dual-payload launch, which Arianespace is calling Flight 168.With iPSTAR now in space, payload processing teams are now focusing their attention on four other satellites currently in Kourou.The Spaceway 2 direct-to-home broadcasting satellite is now ready to be fueled, although a launch date remains uncertain due a power supply issue with its counterpart Telkom 2, which had to be transported back to an Orbital Sciences facility in Virginia. The duo was to be launched in tandem in June before the problem was discovered.The French military's Syracuse 3A communications satellite and the European MSG-2 observatory are currently in storage in Kourou waiting to be paired with other payloads. Meanwhile, the Galaxy 15 and Insat 4A spacecraft are expected to arrive over the next one or two months from the United States and India, respectively.The star-crossed Satmex 6 communications satellite is also in Kourou in standby mode awaiting orders to ship back to its Loral factory. The craft has been in South America for almost two years after Satmex filed for bankruptcy, which stranded Satmex 6 in its processing facility with not enough funds to pay for launch insurance.After extensive legal battles between the parties involved, an agreement was finally forged last month that will allow Satmex 6 to get off the ground some time next year. But first it must travel back to the United States to be further inspected and tested to ensure that it remains in good health.Overall, Arianespace's backlog now contains a total of 40 payloads, including nine launches due to begin next year of the European Automated Transfer Vehicle for the International Space Station.Telescopes.comLargest selection and the best prices anywhere in the world. Free shipping on select items. is the largest dealer of both Meade and Celestron Telescopes. Visit or call toll free 1-800-303-5873.Commemorative shuttle pinThis official NASA pin marks the return to flight effort. It features an embossed space shuttle at solid rocket booster separation in antique gold plate.Choose your store: | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Ariane 5 rocket puts another double payload into orbit BY STEPHEN CLARKSPACEFLIGHT NOWPosted: August 14, 2007An advanced space-based Internet switchboard-in-the-sky and a Japanese direct broadcasting satellite were successfully hauled into space Tuesday aboard an Ariane 5 rocket, making its third flight of the year.The 166-foot-tall Ariane 5 ECA rocket, fitted with two solid rocketboosters and a cryogenic upper stage, came to life at 2344 GMT (7:44 p.m.EDT) and sped away from its oceanfront launch pad. The rocket flew eastaway from the launch site at Kourou, French Guiana. Credit: ESA/CNES/ArianespaceThe heavy-lifting European rocket disappeared into low-hanging cloudsseconds after liftoff, but tracking cameras recaptured picturesque imagesof the launcher as it ascended into sunlight a few minutes later.The twin solid-fueled boosters, payload fairing and first stage were alljettisoned on time. The cryogenic upper stage completed the task ofplacing the satellite payloads into orbit.Recovery ships were stationed east of Kourou to retrieve the solid rocketboosters after they parachuted into the Atlantic Ocean. Arianespaceofficials said the vessels will tow the spent motor casings back to Kouroufor disassembly and analysis, but there are no plans to reuse theboosters.Telemetry from the rocket confirmed the deployment of the Spaceway 3 andBSAT-3a payloads about a half-hour after liftoff. The Ariane 5 reached anegg-shaped transfer orbit stretching from a high point about 22,300 milesto a low point of 155 miles, with an inclination of about two degrees.Arianespace officials declared the launch a success shortly afterspacecraft separation, marking the Ariane 5 rocket's 19th consecutivesuccessful launch."With this perfect launch of Ariane 5, you have once again seen a furtherdemonstration of the excellence of European technology," said Jean-Yves LeGall, Arianespace chairman and chief executive officer.Spaceway 3 was first to separate from the rocket's upper stage. The13,400-pound satellite will propel itself into a circular 22,300-mile-highorbit above the equator at 95 degrees west longitude.The craft will be operated by Maryland-based Hughes Network Systems formore than 12 years, beaming Internet and multimedia services tobusinesses, government users and private consumers across North America.The spacecraft was built by Boeing Satellite Systems and is based on theBoeing 702 design."It's a defining moment for our company because for the first time, wewill own a satellite on our own," said Pradman Kaul, chairman and chiefexecutive officer of Hughes Network Systems. "We now can offer anend-to-end service where every piece of that service is provided byHughes. I don't think there is any other company in the world today thatcan make that statement."Spaceway 3 was originally tagged to fly into orbit aboard a Sea LaunchZenit 3SL rocket, but the ocean-based booster exploded on its floatinglaunch platform in a catastrophic Jan. 31 failure. The accident causedHughes to move Spaceway 3 to Arianespace, which has a strategic alliancewith Sea Launch for such circumstances."When we signed this contract last February, I committed to launch yourspacecraft before mid-August," Le Gall said. "I think we did it with alittle more than two hours in advance."The high-tech satellite includes advanced antenna technologies that allowthe Ka-band communications system to shape spot beams to meet real-timedemands for broadband services.A digital signal processor aboard Spaceway 3 will be able to switch androute broadband traffic, removing the need for a ground station, accordingto Hughes."We are very, very excited that we have the opportunity to move the worldof broadband data access to the next level," Kaul said.Boeing engineers will oversee the orbit-raising and commissioning phasesof Spaceway 3's mission, and control of the spacecraft will be handed overto Hughes by the end of the year. Commercial service for Spaceway 3 shouldbegin by next January.Six-and-a-half minutes after deploying Spaceway 3, the Ariane 5 upperstage released BSAT-3a, a 4,365-pound satellite for the BroadcastingSatellite System Corp. of Japan."We hope that the safe and stable mission of BSAT-3a will continue untilthe end of [its] life," said Kenji Nagai, president and chief executiveofficer of BSAT Corp.BSAT-3a is beginning a 13-year mission to beam direct-to-home digitaltelevision programming to customers across Japan. Built by LockheedMartin, the satellite carries 12 Ku-band transponders, eight of which canoperate at one time."BSAT-3a will provide direct broadcast links for the entire Japanesearchipelago from its geostationary orbit and we are pleased that BSAT hasentrusted Lockheed Martin with this important mission," said MarshallByrd, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin CommercialSpace Systems.The craft joins a fleet of four other broadcasting satellites owned byBSAT Corp. The satellites provide a combination of analog and digitalservices.BSAT-3a will be primarily used by NHK, Japan's largest broadcastingcompany and a nearly 50 percent shareholder in BSAT Corp. The satellitewill broadcast programs to more than 20 million subscribers.Arianespace's next launch is scheduled for late September, when an Ariane5 GS rocket will orbit the Intelsat 11 and Optus D2 communicationssatellites.Three more Ariane 5 missions are slated to round out the year, includingnext month's launch. Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is now available in our store. Get this piece of history!STS-134 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Endeavour is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-134. Available in our store!Ares 1-X PatchThe official embroidered patch for the Ares 1-X rocket test flight, is available for purchase.Apollo CollageThis beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.Project OrionThe Orion crew exploration vehicle is NASA's first new human spacecraft developed since the space shuttle a quarter-century earlier. The capsule is one of the key elements of returning astronauts to the Moon.Fallen Heroes Patch CollectionThe official patches from Apollo 1, the shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews are available in the store. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.British and Indian satellites fly to space on Ariane 5 BY STEPHEN CLARKSPACEFLIGHT NOWPosted: March 11, 2007A brilliant flash of light and a roar of thunderous sound signaled the start of Arianespace's first space launch of the year Sunday evening, and the rocket's two communications payloads were delivered to orbit just a half-hour later. Credit: ESA-CNES-Arianespace/Photo Optique Video CSGThe Ariane 5 rocket lifted off from the Guiana Space Center on SouthAmerica's northeast coast at 2203 GMT (6:03 p.m. EDT). Arianespaceofficials declared success after both communications satellites boltedatop the booster were deployed into orbit 30 minutes after blastoff.The launch was delayed from Saturday due to concerns with the water delugesystem at Ariane 5's ELA-3 launch pad. The water system floods the launchtable with thousands of gallons of water at liftoff to protect against theviolent acoustic vibrations and fire associated with the launch.Fitted with an upgraded Vulcain 2 first stage main engine and a cryogenicupper stage, the Ariane 5 ECA launcher carried the Skynet 5A militarycommunications satellite for the British Ministry of Defense and the INSAT4B direct broadcasting spacecraft for the Indian Space ResearchOrganization."Ariane has once again proved that they can do the job on the dot," saidMadhavan Nair, ISRO chairman, adding that the Ariane 5's achieved orbitrepresented "textbook precision."Skynet 5A is beginning a 15-year mission for Paradigm SecureCommunications, which is owned by EADS Astrium, a leading European spacecontractor. The British Ministry of Defense contracted Paradigm to providesatellite communications services to its users through about 2020. Theagreement is estimated to be worth up to $7 billion, according to EADSAstrium.Paradigm also holds contracts with the Netherlands Ministry of Defense andthe Canadian military, in addition to a memorandum of understanding forsecure satellite communications with NATO.The satellite is the first of the Skynet 5 series, which featuresadditional communications payload capacity and is four times more powerfulthan earlier British military communications satellites.The 10,361-pound satellite, also built by EADS Astrium, will be positionedin geostationary orbit approximately 22,300 miles above the Equator at 1degree West longitude. In this orbit, Skynet 5A will match Earth'srotation and appear fixed above the Gulf of Guinea off Africa's westcoast.Skynet 5A carries both ultra-high-frequency and super-high-frequencycommunications instruments and a secure payload control system. Thespacecraft also includes anti-jamming capability and multiple spot beams.Ariane 5 rockets will launch at least two more Skynet 5 satellites laterthis year and in 2008. Other Skynet 5 spacecraft could be built andlaunched in the next few years.INSAT 4B was housed inside the Sylda dual payload adapter for the ride tospace Sunday, and the nearly 6,675-pound satellite is also bound for a22,300-mile-high geostationary orbit. The craft will be parked along theEquator at 93.5 degrees East longitude above the Indian Ocean.The satellite's 12 Ku-band transponders will reach homes and businessesthroughout India, while 12 C-band transponders are designed to serve usersin a swath stretching from the Middle East to Southeast Asia.INSAT 4B is tailored for direct-to-home television broadcasting services,and the satellite is expected to operate for at least 12 years.The craft is the second INSAT 4 satellite to successfully reach orbit.INSAT 4A was launched by an Ariane 5 rocket in 2005, while INSAT 4C wasdestroyed last July when its Indian launch vehicle exploded shortly afterliftoff. A replacement for the lost satellite is under construction andcould launch this summer, adding more capacity to India's direct satellitebroadcasting market.Five more launches are needed to complete the INSAT 4 series, which willcomprise seven satellites when fully deployed. Up to 138 Ku-band andC-band transponders will be put into orbit on INSAT 4 satellites,according to the Indian Space Research Organization.Saturday's launch of the Ariane 5 marked the 17th consecutive success forthe European workhorse rocket, and the 175th flight of the Ariane launcherfamily since its 1979 debut.The next mission for the Ariane 5 is scheduled for early May, when twomore communications satellites will be orbited. Europe's ASTRA 1Lbroadcasting satellite and the American Galaxy 17 communicationsspacecraft are currently manifested for that mission. Arianespaceofficials expect a total of six Ariane 5 launches this year.Arianespace recently reached an agreement with its suppliers to ramp upAriane 5 production to achieve up to eight flights per year, beginning in2009."Tonight's launch shows we are on the right track," said Arianespace CEOJean-Yves Le Gall.Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is now available in our store. Get this piece of history!STS-134 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Endeavour is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-134. Available in our store!Ares 1-X PatchThe official embroidered patch for the Ares 1-X rocket test flight, is available for purchase.Apollo CollageThis beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.Project OrionThe Orion crew exploration vehicle is NASA's first new human spacecraft developed since the space shuttle a quarter-century earlier. The capsule is one of the key elements of returning astronauts to the Moon.Fallen Heroes Patch CollectionThe official patches from Apollo 1, the shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews are available in the store.Ares 1-X PatchThe official embroidered patch for the Ares 1-X rocket test flight, is available for purchase.Apollo CollageThis beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.Expedition 21The official embroidered patch for the International Space Station Expedition 21 crew is now available from our stores.Hubble PatchThe official embroidered patch for mission STS-125, the space shuttle's last planned service call to the Hubble Space Telescope, is available for purchase. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Double satellite launch for Ariane 5 rocket tonight BY STEPHEN CLARKSPACEFLIGHT NOWPosted: August 14, 2007The Ariane 5 rocket is scheduled to deliver a pair of communications satellites into space during an evening launch tonight from its South American spaceport.Liftoff of Europe's workhorse rocket from Kourou, French Guiana, is set for the opening of a 37-minute launch window at 2344 GMT (7:44 p.m. EDT). The mission will be the third for Arianespace so far this year.A key step in launch preparations occurred Monday, when the Ariane 5rocket was rolled on dual rail tracks from the final assembly building tothe ELA-3 launch zone at the Guiana Space Center. Workers connected the166-foot-tall to the pad late in the day, setting the stage for the finalcountdown to begin early Tuesday.The heavy-lifting booster will carry two satellites into an egg-shapedgeostationary transfer orbit. The mass of the two craft for the orbitaldelivery mission totals more than 17,700 pounds.The launch will mark the 117th flight of the Ariane rocket family sinceits 1979 debut. It will also be the 33rd launch of the Ariane 5.The Spaceway 3 spacecraft will fly into space on top of the Ariane 5'sdual payload adapter. The smaller BSAT-3a satellite will be housed insidethe Sylda adapter during the launch. Both satellites will use on-boardpropulsion systems to reach a circular geostationary orbit about 22,300miles above Earth.Spaceway 3 will begin a 12-year mission serving as a space-based Internetswitchboard. The 13,400-pound satellite will be operated by Hughes NetworkSystems, a U.S.-based satellite broadband provider.Built by Boeing Satellite Systems, the spacecraft will be the firstsatellite to route broadband traffic using on-board signal processors.Ka-band antennas aboard the satellite can be dynamically shaped and formedto meet broadband demands from business customers, government users andend consumers throughout the United States, according to Hughes.Hughes originally awarded the launch contract for Spaceway 3 to SeaLaunch, but officials decided to switch the innovative satellite toArianespace after Sea Launch suffered an on-pad explosion of the Zenit 3SLrocket during an attempted launch in January.BSAT-3a was manufactured by Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems forthe Broadcasting Satellite System Corp. of Japan. The satellite carries 12Ku-band channels for direct television broadcasting to homes andbusinesses throughout the Japanese island chain.Weighing 4,365 pounds at launch, BSAT-3a will use on-board propellant toreach its final position in geostationary orbit along the equator at 110degrees east longitude. The craft is designed for a mission lasting morethan 13 years.Today, the countdown will commence at 1214 GMT (8:14 a.m. EDT). Thelaunch team will conduct a check of electrical systems at 1614 GMT (12:14p.m. EDT).Cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen will begin flowing into theAriane 5 rocket at 1854 GMT (2:54 p.m. EDT), followed by the chilldownprocedure to condition the first stage Vulcain 2 main engine at 2024 GMT(4:24 p.m. EDT). A final check of connections between the launcher andtelemetry, tracking and command systems is set for 2234 GMT (6:34 p.m.EDT).Computers will begin controlling the countdown about seven minutes priorto launch. The synchronized launch sequence governs a fast-paced series ofautomated events, including fuel tank pressurization, transitioning therocket and payloads to internal power, and taking systems to flight mode.The Vulcain 2 engine will roar to life when countdown clocks reach zero,followed seven seconds later by ignition of the two solid rocket boostersand liftoff.The solid-fueled boosters will burn for 2 minutes, 20 seconds beforedropping into the Atlantic Ocean. The payload fairing shielding thesatellites during the initial phases of launch will be jettisoned 3minutes, 9 seconds after liftoff. About 9 minutes into the flight, thefirst stage will exhaust its propellant and separate from the cryogenicupper stage, which will continue the push into orbit.The upper stage's HM7B engine will fire for nearly 16 minutes to reach thetargeted transfer orbit. Deployment of the Spaceway 3 satellite shouldoccur 27 minutes, 38 seconds after launch. BSAT-3a will be released 34minutes, 10 seconds into the mission. John Glenn Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The historic first orbital flight by an American is marked by this commemorative patch for John Glenn and Friendship 7.Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is available in our store. Get this piece of history!Celebrate the shuttle programFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This special commemorative patch marks the retirement of NASA's Space Shuttle Program. Available in our store!Anniversary Shuttle PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This embroidered patch commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program. The design features the space shuttle Columbia's historic maiden flight of April 12, 1981.Mercury anniversaryFree shipping to U.S. addresses!Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alan Shephard's historic Mercury mission with this collectors' item, the official commemorative embroidered patch.Fallen Heroes Patch CollectionThe official patches from Apollo 1, the shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews are available in the store. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Follow the preparations and launch of the Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket carrying the Anik F2 communications spacecraft. Reload this page for the latest on the mission.SUNDAY, JULY 18, 2004The largest commercial communications satellite, designed to offer two-way broadband Internet services across Canada and the United States, was successfully heaved into space Saturday night by Europe's powerful Ariane 5 rocket.Arianespace had scrubbed three earlier countdowns this week due to rocket, ground equipment and weather problems. But the fourth attempt proceeded on the timeline, and the 19th Ariane 5 blasted off from its jungle launch pad in South America at 0044 GMT (8:44 p.m. EDT).Twenty-eight minutes later, the Anik F2 spacecraft was deployed into a geosynchronous transfer orbit with an apogee of 38,848 km, a perigee of 579.4 km and inclination of 6.80 degrees, according to Arianespace."We had a few trial tuns to get here, but all that matters is that we made it," Roger Tinley, the vice president for space systems at Anik operator Telesat, said in post-launch remarks. "We are on our way with Anik F2. We will be in operation in early October. And thanks to Ariane 5."The Ottawa-based satellite operator Telesat with use Anik F2's enhanced technologies to provide broadband services via the Ka-band across North America, plus other broadcasting communications using Ku- and C-bands. "With Anik F2 we enter a new frontier in satellite communications - not just for Telesat, but also for the global communications industry," said Larry Boisvert, Telesat's president and CEO. "Once again, Telesat is making advanced communications more accessible for everyone. With Telesat's Anik F2, North American consumers and businesses will have access to the most advanced broadband services - anywhere and anytime."Built by Boeing Satellite Systems, the 13,118-pound Anik F2 satellite will be operated from geostationary orbit at 111.1 degrees West longitude.The spacecraft, based upon Boeing's 702-satellite model design, carries 38 Ka-band transponders, 32 Ku-band transponders and 24 C-band transponders. Its power-generating solar wings stretch 48 meters once fully unfurled in orbit. Designers expect the satellite to operate 15 years.In addition to its commercial potential, the Canadian government plans to use Anik F2 to improve services to remote communities through tele-health, tele-learning and other applications.The satellite mission, including launch and insurance, is reportedly valued at $600 million.This was the Telesat's 15th successful satellite launch and fifth use of an Ariane rocket.Saturday marked the second Ariane 5 rocket launch in 2004 and the 19th overall since the inaugural liftoff in 1996. It was known as Arianespace Flight 163. Next up is the return-to-flight of the upgraded version of Ariane 5 with a cryogenic upper stage. Scheduled for October, the mission will launch the X-band communications satellite called XTAR-EUR and a spacecraft mass simulator. The first Ariane 5 ECA rocket malfunctioned minutes after liftoff in December 2002.0118 GMT (9:18 p.m. EDT Sat.)Arianespace has declared tonight's launch a success, delivering the Anik F2 satellite into geosynchronous transfer orbit.0112 GMT (9:12 p.m. EDT Sat.)Plus+28 minutes, 41 seconds. SPACECRAFT SEPARATION! The Canadian Anik F2 communications satellite has been released into space from the Ariane 5 rocket, completing tonight's launch! Applause has erupted in the Guiana Space Center control room.0112 GMT (9:12 p.m. EDT Sat.)Plus+28 minutes. Altitude 1,777 km, velocity is 8.52 km/sec. 0111 GMT (9:11 p.m. EDT Sat.)Plus+27 minutes, 15 seconds. The upper stage has shut down to complete powered flight for the launch. The stage will provide proper pointing for deployment of the Anik F2 satellite tonight. 0110 GMT (9:10 p.m. EDT Sat.)Plus+26 minutes. Altitude is 1,416 km, velocity is 8.61 km/sec.0109 GMT (9:09 p.m. EDT Sat.)Plus+25 minutes. The upper stage is nearing the completion of its firing in about two minutes. Altitude is 1,258 km, velocity is 8.5 km/sec.0108 GMT (9:08 p.m. EDT Sat.)Plus+24 minutes. Altitude is 1,114 km, velocity is 8.49 km/sec.0107 GMT (9:07 p.m. EDT Sat.)Plus+23 minutes, 25 seconds. Altitude is 1,035 km, velocity is 8.48 km/sec.0106 GMT (9:06 p.m. EDT Sat.)Plus+22 minutes, 45 seconds. Altitude is 951 km, velocity is 8.42 km/sec.0106 GMT (9:06 p.m. EDT Sat.)Plus+22 minutes, 5 seconds. The Malindi, Kenya island tracking station in Africa has picked up the rocket's signal. Altitude is 872 km, velocity is 8.39 km/sec.0105 GMT (9:05 p.m. EDT Sat.)Plus+21 minutes, 45 seconds. Altitude is 834 km, velocity is 8.37 km/sec.0104 GMT (9:04 p.m. EDT Sat.)Plus+20 minutes, 30 seconds. Altitude is 705 km, velocity is 8.31 km/sec.0103 GMT (9:03 p.m. EDT Sat.)Plus+19 minutes, 30 seconds. Arianespace says all systems are performing normally. Altitude is 614 km, velocity is 8.2 km/sec.0102 GMT (9:02 p.m. EDT Sat.)Plus+18 minutes. Arianespace says all systems are performing normally. Altitude is 498 km, velocity is 8.18 km/sec.0101 GMT (9:01 p.m. EDT Sat.)Plus+17 minutes. Altitude is 430 km, velocity is 8.12 km/sec.0100 GMT (9:00 p.m. EDT Sat.)Plus+16 minutes. Altitude is 370 km, velocity is 8.05 km/sec.0059 GMT (8:59 p.m. EDT Sat.)Plus+15 minutes. Altitude is 320 km, velocity is 8.00 km/sec.0058 GMT (8:58 p.m. EDT Sat.)Plus+14 minutes. The Ariane 5's upper stage is still firing as scheduled. Altitude 275 km, velocity is 7.9 km/sec.0057 GMT (8:57 p.m. EDT Sat.)Plus+13 minutes. Altitude is 236 km, velocity is 7.87 km/sec.0056 GMT (8:56 p.m. EDT Sat.)Plus+12 minutes, 30 seconds. Altitude is 218 km, velocity is 7.8 km/sec.0054 GMT (8:54 p.m. EDT Sat.)Plus+10 minutes, 30 seconds. The upper stage of Ariane 5G+ -- the storable propellant stage -- has ignited for its long-duration burn.0054 GMT (8:54 p.m. EDT Sat.)Plus+10 minutes, 10 seconds. The main cryogenic stage's Vulcain engine has cut off and the spent stage has separated. It will fall back into the atmosphere prior to completing an orbit of Earth.0053 GMT (8:53 p.m. EDT Sat.)Plus+9 minutes, 50 seconds. The rocket is beginning to gain altitude again. 0053 GMT (8:53 p.m. EDT Sat.)Plus+9 minutes, 30 seconds. The rocket is no longer climbing in altitude in order to gain speed. This is a "sling-shot" maneuver. Altitude is 135 km, velocity is 7.0 km/sec.0053 GMT (8:53 p.m. EDT Sat.)Plus+9 minutes. Coming up on main stage shutdown in about one minute.0052 GMT (8:52 p.m. EDT Sat.)Plus+8 minutes. Arianespace is not reporting any problems so far in the flight. The main stage engine continues to fire. Altitude is 135 km, velocity is 5.2 km/sec.0051 GMT (8:51 p.m. EDT Sat.)Plus+7 minutes. Altitude is 143 km, velocity is 4.3 km/sec.0050 GMT (8:50 p.m. EDT Sat.)Plus+6 minutes, 30 seconds. The rocket is no longer climbing in altitude in order to gain speed. This is a "sling-shot" maneuver. Altitude is 146 km, velocity is 3.9 km/sec.0049 GMT (8:49 p.m. EDT Sat.)Plus+5 minutes, 45 seconds. Altitude is 147 km, velocity is 3.4 km/sec.0049 GMT (8:49 p.m. EDT Sat.)Plus+5 minutes. Altitude is 142 km, velocity is 3.0 km/sec.0048 GMT (8:48 p.m. EDT Sat.)Plus+4 minutes, 20 seconds. Arianespace says the protective payload fairing enclosing the satellite has been separated from the Ariane 5.0047 GMT (8:47 p.m. EDT Sat.)Plus+3 minutes, 30 seconds. Altitude is 112 km, velocity is 2.38 km/sec.0046 GMT (8:46 p.m. EDT Sat.)Plus+2 minutes, 30 seconds. The solid rocket boosters have been jettisoned from the Ariane 5 rocket's core stage. The liquid-fueled Vulcain 1 main engine continues to fire to propel the vehicle and its satellite payload to space.0046 GMT (8:46 p.m. EDT Sat.)Plus+2 minutes, 10 seconds. Altitude 56 km, velocity 2.06 km/sec.0045 GMT (8:45 p.m. EDT Sat.)Plus+1 minute, 30 seconds. About one minute left in the burn by the solid rocket boosters. The boosters are providing 90 percent of the liftoff thrust.0044 GMT (8:44 p.m. EDT Sat.)Plus+50 seconds. The vehicle is on the proper trajectory as it rides the power of the twin solid rocket boosters and main stage liquid-fueled engine.0044 GMT (8:44 p.m. EDT Sat.)Plus+30 seconds. Rocket has completed its pitch and roll maneuvers as it heads east from the South American coast for the 28-minute flight to deliver Anik F2 into geosynchronous transfer orbit.0044 GMT (8:44 p.m. EDT Sat.)LIFTOFF! The Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket launching the Canadian Anik F2 spacecraft to provide broadband Internet services and digital communications across North America.0043 GMT (8:43 p.m. EDT Sat.)Minus-40 seconds. The vehicle is switching to internal power.0043 GMT (8:43 p.m. EDT Sat.)Minus-1 minute. A fast-paced series of events leading to launch will begin at Minus-37 seconds when the automated ignition sequence is started. The water suppression system at the launch pad will start at Minus-30 seconds. At Minus-22 seconds, overall control will be given to the onboard computer. The Vulcain main engine will be readied for ignition with hydrogen chilldown starting at Minus-18 seconds. The residual hydrogen burn flares will fire beneath the Vulcain engine at Minus-6 seconds to burn away any free hydrogen gas. At Minus-3 seconds, onboard systems take over and the two inertial guidance systems go to flight mode. Vulcain main engine ignition occurs at Minus-0 seconds with checkout between Plus+4 and 7 seconds. If there are no problems found, the solid rocket boosters are ignited at Plus+7.0 seconds for liftoff at Plus+7.3 seconds.0042 GMT (8:42 p.m. EDT Sat.)Minus-2 minutes. The Vulcain 1 main engine supply valves are being opened. Also, the ground valves for engine chilldown are being closed.0041 GMT (8:41 p.m. EDT Sat.)Minus-3 minutes. The scheduled launch time has been loaded into the rocket's main computer system. The main stage tank pressures should now be at flight level.0040 GMT (8:40 p.m. EDT Sat.)Minus-4 minutes. Pressurization is now underway for the main cryogenic stage's liquid oxygen and hydrogen tanks. Also, final pyrotechnic arming is starting.0038 GMT (8:38 p.m. EDT Sat.)Minus-6 minutes and counting. Liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen supplies of the main cryogenic stage are being verified at flight level. Also, the pyrotechnic line safety barriers are being armed.0037 GMT (8:37 p.m. EDT Sat.)Minus-7 minutes and counting. The Synchronized Sequence has started. Computers are now in control of this final segment of the launch countdown to prepare the rocket and ground systems for liftoff. There are two computers running the countdown -- one aboard the Ariane 5 and a redundant one at the ELA-3 launch complex. 0035 GMT (8:35 p.m. EDT Sat.)Minus-9 minutes and counting. The status panel in the Jupiter Control Center at Kourou remains green, indicating all remains in readiness for liftoff at the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana on South America's northeastern coast.SATURDAY, JULY 17, 20041720 GMT (1:20 p.m. EDT)Arianespace will make a fourth attempt to launch its Ariane 5G+ rocket with Anik F2 tonight. Last night's shot was scrubbed due to problems with the ground equipment at the pad."We detected an anomaly in the fueling system of the rocket. Pressure and temperature was not at expected levels," Jean-Yves Le Gall, Arianespace's chief executive officer, was quoted by Reuters as saying.Tonight's launch period extends from 0044 to 0129 GMT (8:44-9:29 p.m. EDT).Watch this page for confirmation of liftoff and updates during the half-hour flight.FRIDAY, JULY 16, 20042347 GMT (7:47 p.m. EDT)Troubles with the launching platform upon which the Ariane 5 rocket sits at the pad has caused a 24-hour delay in the countdown.Arianespace has rescheduled the launch for Saturday night during a window of 0044 to 0129 GMT (8:44-9:29 p.m. EDT).It is the third delay this week for the Ariane 5 rocket's launch of the Canadian Anik F2 communications satellite. Monday's try was thwarted by technical problems with the rocket. A second attempt on Thursday night was scrubbed due to bad weather.2340 GMT (7:40 p.m. EDT)SCRUB! Tonight's launch attempt has been scrubbed. We're awaiting word from Arianespace on the reason for the postponement and the new launch date.1830 GMT (2:30 p.m. EDT)Aranespace will try again tonight to launch the Anik F2 communications satellite payload aboard an Ariane 5 rocket. Liftoff is scheduled for 0044 GMT, one minute later than yesterday. The launch window extends to 0129 GMT.0401 GMT (12:01 a.m. EDT)Stormy weather over the Guiana Space Center kept the Ariane 5 rocket on the launch pad Thursday night, delaying by 24 hours the massive booster's mission to haul a Canadian broadband communications satellite into space."I'm very sorry for this situation," Jean-Yves Le Gall, Arianespace chief executive officer told VIPs gathered in the launch control center as the scrub was called."The storm configuration within the 10 kilometer zone of the launch pad didn't move quickly enough away in its final countdown to launch tonight," Le Gall added.Arianespace has rescheduled the launch for Friday night. The available window for the rocket to lift off from its South American pad extends from 0044 to 0129 GMT (8:44-9:29 p.m. EDT).It was the second postponement this week for Arianespace Flight 163. A technical problem with the rocket cancelled Monday's countdown.The Anik F2 satellite, considered the heaviest commercial communication spacecraft to date, will ride the Ariane 5G+ rocket into geosynchronous transfer orbit.The Ottawa-based satellite operator Telesat with use Anik F2 to provide broadband services via Ka-band across North America, plus other communications using C- and Ku-bands."It will enable dramatic improvements in access to two-way, high-speed Internet services for business and consumers. The satellite will also provide new capacity for a wide rangeof broadcasting and telecommunications services across North America," Telesat says. 0129 GMT (9:29 p.m. EDT Thurs.)"I'm very sorry for this situation," Arianespace Chief Executive Officer Jean-Yves Le Gall says following the postponement due to unfavorable weather conditions over the launch site. Another launch attempt will be made Friday night.0127 GMT (9:27 p.m. EDT Thurs.)Minus-1 minutes, 31 seconds and holding! The countdown has stopped. This will be a scrub for tonight of the Ariane 5 rocket launch carrying the Anik F2 communications satellite.0127 GMT (9:27 p.m. EDT Thurs.)Minus-2 minutes and counting. 0126 GMT (9:26 p.m. EDT Thurs.)Minus-3 minutes. The weather remains "no go" but the countdown continues.0125 GMT (9:25 p.m. EDT Thurs.)Minus-4 minutes. Pressurization is scheduled to be underway for the main cryogenic stage's liquid oxygen and hydrogen tanks. Also, final pyrotechnic arming is to start.0123 GMT (9:23 p.m. EDT Thurs.)Minus-6 minutes and counting. At this point in the countdown, the liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen supplies of the main cryogenic stage are verified at flight level. Also, the pyrotechnic line safety barriers are armed.0122 GMT (9:22 p.m. EDT Thurs.)Minus-6 minutes, 30 seconds. The countdown is continuing despite the "red" condition with the weather.0122 GMT (9:22 p.m. EDT Thurs.)Minus-7 minutes and counting. The Synchronized Sequence has started. Computers are now in control of this final segment of the launch countdown to prepare the rocket and ground systems for liftoff. There are two computers running the countdown -- one aboard the Ariane 5 and a redundant one at the ELA-3 launch complex. 0121 GMT (9:21 p.m. EDT Thurs.)Arianespace says it is weather causing the "no go" condition.0120 GMT (9:20 p.m. EDT Thurs.)Minus-8 minutes, 50 seconds. The status panel in the control center just went "red" again to indicate a problem.0116 GMT (9:16 p.m. EDT Thurs.)The feed has been restored as the countdown passes Minus-11 minutes. All remains "go" for launch at 0129 GMT.0116 GMT (9:16 p.m. EDT Thurs.)The Arianespace satellite broadcast from Kourou has just gone black. We're standing by for the feed to resume.0115 GMT (9:15 p.m. EDT Thurs.)Arianespace is not reporting any problems with the Ariane 5 rocket, Anik F2 satellite, ground support equipment or weather as the countdown moves into the final 15 minutes for liftoff at 0129 GMT. Since launch is now targeted for the very end of tonight's window, there is no margin for any problems or delay.0106 GMT (9:06 p.m. EDT Thurs.)Now 23 minutes from launch. The weather constraint has been cleared, Arianespace says.0104 GMT (9:04 p.m. EDT Thurs.)Arianespace says the storm is moving through the area. So the launch team is now targeting the very last moment of tonight's launch window for liftoff at 0129 GMT. The countdown is being reset to synch up with the new target time.0101 GMT (9:01 p.m. EDT Thurs.)The countdown must resume within the next 12 minutes to support liftoff by the end of today's launch opportunity.0052 GMT (8:52 p.m. EDT Thurs.)Arianespace is back to saying clouds are causing the delay. A spokesperson says Arianespace is waiting for the clouds to pass in hopes of liftoff toward the end of tonight's launch window.0050 GMT (8:50 p.m. EDT Thurs.)The countdown remains stopped at Minus-16 minutes. There has been no further update from Arianespace on the potential for the weather to clear and permit the Ariane 5 rocket to launch tonight. Liftoff would have to occur by 0129 GMT when the day's launch window closes. Otherwise, the mission will be postponed until another day.0044 GMT (8:44 p.m. EDT Thurs.)Arianespace now says it is high-altitude winds causing the launch delay! Initially, the launch commentators blamed the countdown hold on the winds, then said it was clouds, now they are saying winds again.0038 GMT (8:38 p.m. EDT Thurs.)Arianespace has changed its earlier report. Now spokespeople say it is not winds causing the delay, but actually clouds over the launch site that are unacceptable for the Ariane 5 rocket to fly through at the moment. The countdown continues holding at Minus-16 minutes.0031 GMT (8:31 p.m. EDT Thurs.)The countdown is on hold due to unfavorable high-altitude winds. This hold in the countdown will last for 20 minutes while officials wait to see if conditions will improve for liftoff tonight. Arianespace has until 0129 GMT to launch the Ariane 5 or else wait until tomorrow.0029 GMT (8:29 p.m. EDT Thurs.)Minus-16 minutes and holding! The countdown has been stopped due to a problem.0023 GMT (8:23 p.m. EDT Thurs.)Arianespace is just minutes away from the scheduled launch its first commercial satellite-delivery mission of 2004 with the flight of the Ariane 5 rocket and the Anik F2 communications spacecraft. It is the second Ariane 5 flight overall this year following the European Space Agency Rosetta comet probe's launch in March.THURSDAY, JULY 15, 20042143 GMT (5:43 p.m. EDT)The countdown for tonight's Ariane 5 rocket launch is entering the final three hours. The rocket's main cryogenic stage will be fueled, rocket systems tested and the Anik F2 spacecraft prepped for flight, leading up to liftoff during the launch window of 0043 to 0129 GMT.Watch this page for updates starting about 20 minutes before launch and continuing through deployment of the satellite a half-hour after liftoff.WEDNESDAY, JULY 14, 2004The Ariane 5 rocket headed back to its launch pad at the Guiana Space Center today, rolling out on its mobile launch platform. Launch remains targeted to occur Thursday night.TUESDAY, JULY 13, 20042130 GMT (5:30 p.m. EDT)Arianespace has rescheduled the launch of its Ariane 5 rocket and the Canadian Anik F2 spacecraft for Thursday night. Liftoff will be possible between 0043 and 0129 GMT (8:43-9:29 p.m. EDT)."With the complementary verifications and corrective actions now completed on the Ariane 5 launcher, Arianespace has decided to resume the final countdown operations for Flight 163," the launch firm said in a statement today.The rocket was returned to its processing hangar for repairs after a problem occurred during Monday's initial countdown.Arianespace has not disclosed the nature of the problem, the system it impacted and how the issue was resolved. The vehicle will head back to the launch pad on Wednesday for the next launch attempt.MONDAY, JULY 12, 20042125 GMT (5:25 p.m. EDT)DELAY. A problem with the Ariane 5 rocket has scrubbed tonight's launch of the Canadian Anik F2 communications satellite. Workers must move the vehicle back to its hangar for repairs, officials just announced.Arianespace has not released details on the glitch, only saying "an anomaly occurred during a data checkpoint with the launcher."Ariane 5 rockets are assembled atop a mobile launching platform, then rolled to the pad the day prior to liftoff. But when problems arise, a trip back to the Final Assembly Building is typically required. That is the case this time as Arianespace says the vehicle will leave the pad "in order to correct the anomaly."A new launch date has not been announced.SUNDAY, JULY 11, 2004A massive satellite to provide broadband Internet services and digital communications across North America will ride an Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket into space Monday night.Liftoff from the ELA-3 launch pad at Kourou, French Guiana, along South America's northeast coast, will be possible between 0043 and 0129 GMT (8:43-9:29 p.m. EDT).The synchronized launch sequence will begin about 7 minutes prior to liftoff if all systems are "go" for continuing the countdown. Following this critical milestone is a series of fast-paced events culminating with the ignition of the Vulcain main engine. The two solid rocket boosters will roar to life 7 seconds later, followed immediately by liftoff. The Ariane 5 will take a standard ascent profile to geosynchronous transfer orbit carrying the Canadian Anik F2 satellite. The two solid-fueled boosters will burn out two minutes, 21 seconds into flight, but the cryogenic first stage engine will continue firing until 10 minutes after launch, when it will shut down and separate to allow the upper stage to ignite and continue the trek to orbit. The storable propellant upper stage will burn for about 17 minutes to inject the satellite payload into the proper orbit. Deployment of 13,118-pound Anik F2 craft from the launcher is expected at T+plus 28 minutes, 37 seconds.Built by Boeing Satellite Systems, the Anik F2 satellite will be operated from geostationary orbit at 111.1 degrees West longitude by the Ottawa-based firm Telesat."With its Ka-band, C-band, and Ku-band transponders, plus a xenon ion propulsion system for on-orbit maneuvering, Anik F2 incorporates some of Boeing's most sophisticated flight-proven technology," said David Ryan, president of Boeing Satellite Systems International. "Anik F2 is also the third generation of satellite designs we have built for Telesat, continuing a relationship that has entered its fourth decade."Officials say Anik F2 will be North America's first commercial satellite-based broadband communications service.This will be the second Ariane 5 rocket launch in 2004 and the 19th overall since the inaugural mission in 1996. It is known as Arianespace Flight 163.Watch this page for updates during the final countdown and launch of the Ariane 5 rocket.Ares 1-X PatchThe official embroidered patch for the Ares 1-X rocket test flight, is available for purchase.Apollo CollageThis beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.Expedition 21The official embroidered patch for the International Space Station Expedition 21 crew is now available from our stores.Hubble PatchThe official embroidered patch for mission STS-125, the space shuttle's last planned service call to the Hubble Space Telescope, is available for purchase. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.21st century lunar orbiter a precursor to human missions SPACEFLIGHT NOWPosted: June 17, 2009 When the next generation of lunar astronauts step foot on the Moon in the years ahead, the definitive travel guide compiled by an instrument-laden spacecraft launching this week will detail the best and worst places to go and the risks the crews could face.The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is NASA's trailblazer to create detailed maps of the terrain, plot out potential landing sites, identify natural resources that could be exploited and characterize the radiation conditions that astronauts can expect. Artist's concept of LRO in orbit around the moon. Credit: NASAFour days after leaving the Earth, LRO will reach the Moon and ignite its engines for a nail-biting maneuver that amounts to a make-or-break moment in the $504 million mission.The engine firing slows the spacecraft's speed and allows LRO to enter into orbit around the Moon. If all goes well, the satellite should swoop into an elliptical "commissioning orbit" of 30 by 216 kilometers (18.5 by 134 miles). "Our most critical activity in this mission, we have do something just shy of an hour rocket burn to get captured into lunar orbit," said Craig Tooley, the LRO project manager. "Atlas sends us to the Moon too fast, really. What happens is we escape the Earth's gravity and you're headed toward the Moon. You actually have to do a significant propulsive burn to slow down and get captured by the Moon."Ground controllers then spend about two months testing the orbiter's systems and instruments, as well as changing the altitude to the planned 50-kilometer (31-mile) circular polar orbit above the lunar surface.Its first year of lunar studies will serve the needs of NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, the agency's organization overseeing development of the new Orion crew exploration spacecraft and Ares rockets for launching astronauts to the Moon. Two or three additional years of observations will be funded by the Science Mission Directorate. "These information sets will be an important resource not only for explorers who want to return to the Moon but will also be invaluable for science. LRO is an important dual mission for exploration and science," said Rich Vondrak, LRO project scientist.LRO was built in-house at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. As it sits atop the Atlas 5 rocket today, the satellite weighs about 4,225 pounds, which includes 1,980 pounds of fuel. The power-generating solar array and a high-speed communications antenna will be deployed once the craft is en route to the Moon. The LRO spacecraft sits atop LCROSS during final launch preparations. Credit: Ben Cooper/Spaceflight NowA suite of seven instruments is mounted on the spacecraft's structure, poised to work in concert to produce a definitive atlas of the Moon that will guide future expeditions."Almost 95 percent of the time, we will be looking nadir down at the Moon with all seven of our powerful instruments collecting data," said Tooley."These instruments are focused on three primary objectives. First, we want to identify safe landing sites. Then, we want to search for resources on the Moon. And finally, we want to get better insight into the space radiation environment and how it may be harmful to humans," Vondrak said."Each orbit maps out a narrow portion of the Moon and then as the Moon rotates underneath the LRO spacecraft we map out completely the surface of the Moon...Over the course of a month, we'll see all parts of the Moon and over the course of an entire year, we'll comprehensively map with high-resolution the lunar surface."A brief look at LRO's instruments:CRATER: A radiation sensor that continuously measures the energetic particles from the Sun and cosmic rays that reach the spacecraft to characterize the radiation environment around the Moon.Diviner: Remotely sense the lunar surface to generate temperature maps of the Moon. LAMP: A see-in-the-dark instrument that will search for surface frost and peer into permanently shadowed craters to look for ice.LEND: A Russian detector to gauge the hydrogen content of the Moon's surface and subsurface in fine detail. The hydrogen could be water ice.LOLA: This laser altimeter will probe the Moon's topography and create precise maps of potential landing sites.LROC: Three-camera package for detailed narrow- and wide-angle imaging.Mini-RF: Synthetic aperture radar technology demonstrator to probe polar regions for evidence of water ice."LRO will bring new eyes to the Moon, and with these new eyes we will see new views of the Moon," Vondrak said.NASA has selected 100 regions of high interest that will get extra attention from the collective instrument power of LRO, Vondrak said. While the craft's lasers measure topography and slopes, the temperature mapper will point out dangerous fields of rocks and the high-resolution imagery will reveal craters and large boulders."Imaging will show dramatic landscapes and areas of interest down to one-meter resolution," said Doug Cooke, associate administrator of NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate.LRO's narrow-angle cameras can see objects roughly a meter in size. The wide-angle camera will image the entire Moon at a scale of 100 meters in seven colors.Given the available bandwidth for downlinking the pictures back to Earth, only about 10 percent of the lunar surface will be imaged in high-resolution during a year's time. But that imagery promises to be the sharpest NASA has ever obtained from lunar orbit, said Mike Wargo, Exploration program's chief lunar scientist."That instrument is going to be taking thousands of images of the surface," he said, adding that diverse locales will be targeted for detailed imaging. "Those locations represent a range of topographies and slopes and lighting conditions that will allow our mission planners to be able to design our landers and design our approaches for landing so that we can be both safe and effective.""As its name says, LRO is all about doing reconnaissance at the Moon. Reconnaissance, specifically, to bring us back the data and the information we need to plan and execute the human return to the Moon," said Tooley. Artwork shows the LRO spacecraft soaring over the Moon. Credit: NASA"An inevitable question I get is 'why do we need LRO? Haven't we done this?' And, indeed, of course, we've been to the Moon. But when we went to the Moon for Apollo, we went to the equatorial regions and we intentionally planned to not stay for very long. And even at the onset of our renewed commitment to send human beings to the Moon back in 2004, we knew then if we were going to go to the Moon with the more ambitious goals we have now of staying longer and perhaps establishing outposts, we were going to go to a different place. Those places are almost inevitably going to be the poles, and those areas of the Moon we actually have very sparse information."We actually have much better maps of Mars than we have of our own Moon's polar regions. So the job of filling out that information set, making that atlas complete for planning safe and fruitful return to the Moon -- that job fell to LRO."The lunar poles are attractive destinations for astronauts and LRO will help paint the picture of what humans can expect to find there. Could there be water ice stored in low, dark craters available for harvesting? Could high regions nearly continuously illuminated by the Sun promise plentiful solar power?The Apollo missions targeted equatorial sites. LRO's mission will help the next generation of human expeditions broaden their options of landing locations."Right now, our knowledge of the polar regions is very inadequate. The purpose of LRO is to expand the understanding that we have about the equatorial regions to the entire Moon," Vondrak said."If we were going today to the poles as opposed to the equatorial regions, our knowledge of where things are is only good to about 30 kilometers, which if you were planning to fly in and planning your trajectories, that's not the kind of resolution you want for where the boulders are, where the craters are, only to be discovered as you approach and guide yourself in," Tooley added."We would also not know where the most advantageous places to go. When we go back, we want to go to the places that look interesting, the places where we know there's peaks of eternal light, where we know those resources are (because) we've identified them.""What we're about is taking us all back to the Moon," said Cathy Peddie, LRO's deputy project manager.Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is now available in our store. Get this piece of history!STS-134 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Endeavour is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-134. Available in our store!Ares 1-X PatchThe official embroidered patch for the Ares 1-X rocket test flight, is available for purchase.Apollo CollageThis beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.Project OrionThe Orion crew exploration vehicle is NASA's first new human spacecraft developed since the space shuttle a quarter-century earlier. The capsule is one of the key elements of returning astronauts to the Moon.Fallen Heroes Patch CollectionThe official patches from Apollo 1, the shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews are available in the store. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.40th Atlas 5 rocket on the launch padUnited Launch Alliance's 40th Atlas 5 rocket arrived at its oceanfront launch pad Monday after a 1,800-foot trek on trails from its Vertical Integration Facility at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.The 196-foot-tall rocket, fitted with three solid rocket boosters and a five-meter fairing, is topped with the U.S. Air Force's third Advanced Extremely High Frequency communications satellite.See our for the latest news on the mission.

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