Space Shuttle Discovery To Air and Space Museum

Space Shuttle Mounted on 747 Carrier Aircraft
Image Credit: NASA


On Tuesday, April 17, between 10 and 11 a.m. EDT, space shuttle Discovery, mounted on the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), will fly from Kennedy Space Center to its new home at the National Air and Space Museum, Udvar-Hazy Center. Individuals in the Washington metropolitan area will have the opportunity to see Discovery before it lands at Dulles International Airport.

Though the exact route and timing of the flight depend on weather and operational constraints, the SCA is expected to fly at approximately 1,500 feet near a variety of landmarks in the area, including the National Mall, Reagan National Airport, National Harbor and the Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy Center.

Some publicly accessible locations from which you may be able to “Spot the Shuttle” are listed below. If you take pictures, feel free to post them on the Space Shuttle Discovery Flickr Group and if you’re on Twitter, you can tweet them using the hashtag #spottheshuttle.

NASA Defends 2013 Budget Request

NASA Administrator Bolden
Image Credit: Space News

Responding to accusations by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas at the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing that the Administration was siphoning money from the Orion capsule and Senate Launch System (SLS) to speed up the Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said:

We want to reach a date in the future where everything comes together. It doesn’t do us any good if I have an Orion vehicle that’s ready to fly a year before I have a launch vehicle. It doesn’t do any good to have a launch vehicle to fly a year before I have a crew module to put on it, and it definitely doesn’t do me any good if I have Orion and SLS teamed together and ready to launch sitting in the [Vertical Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center] because the launch facility is not complete.

Bolden noted that the earliest that the SLS could launch Orion is 2021.

As for the CCDev program, Bolden reminded the committee that NASA’s original request was for more than a Billion dollars, and that this was trimmed to $850 Million, which is what pushed the first launch from 2015 to 2017. With annual costs of $405 Million for Russia to launch American astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS), the two year delay will cost American taxpayers an additional $810 Million. Bolden said, “this is going to be cheaper for the American taxpayer in the long run.”

Further reductions down to the Congressional proposal of $406 Million, might well cripple the entire CCDev program.

Atlantis – And Then There Were None

Atlantis Reentry
Atlantis Reentry as seen from the International Space Station
Image Credit: NASA

Atlantis Cockpit View of Dawn and Kennedy Space Center
Atlantis Cockpit View of Kennedy Space Center
Image Credit: NASA TV

Atlantis Approach to the Runway
Atlantis Approach to the Runway
Image Credit: NASA TV

Atlantis Touchdown
Atlantis Touchdown at Kennedy Space Center
Image Credit: NASA TV

Atlantis and Crew
Atlantis, Astronaut Crew, and Ground Crew.
Image Credit: NASA

Official landing times:

Mission Elapsed Times (MET):

Main Gear Touchdown: MET 12/18:27:56 – 9:57:00 am UTC
Nose Gear Touchdown: MET 12/18:28:16 – 9:57:20 am UTC
Wheel Stop: MET 12/18:28:50 – 9:57:54 am UTC

High resolution images of Atlantis are now on

Juno Prepares for Launch to Jupiter

Juno Spacecraft Ready for Fueling
Image Credit: NASA /KSC

The Juno spacecraft is headed for a mission to Jupiter. The mission will launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V on or after 5 August 2011.

With its suite of science instruments, Juno will investigate the existence of a solid planetary core, map Jupiter’s intense magnetic field, measure the amount of water and ammonia in the deep atmosphere, and observe the planet’s auroras.

Juno’s scientific payload includes:

  • A gravity/radio science system
  • A six-wavelength microwave radiometer for atmospheric sounding and composition
  • A vector magnetometer
  • Plasma and energetic particle detectors
  • A radio/plasma wave experiment
  • An ultraviolet imager/spectrometer
  • An infrared imager/spectrometer

The image below shows the configuration of the spacecraft and the science instruments that are being carried.

Juno Science
Juno Science Instruments
Image Credit: NASA / JPL

Atlantis – 8 July 2011 First Launch Attempt

STS-135 July 8
STS-135 two hours before launch
Image Credit: KSC TV Feed

At 6:44 AM Phoenix time (1344 UTC) launch is about 2 hours away. At the moment we are ‘no go’ due to cloud density over the launch site. NASA-TV is here, and the Kennedy Space Center video feeds can be found here for weather and pad cameras.

Weather 90 Minutes Before Launch
Image Credit: KSC TV Feed

The countdown is at T-minus 20 minutes and holding, with a ten minute built in hold.

At 7:21 AM Phoenix (1321 UTC) the count has resumed and will go down to T-minus 9 minutes for the next built in hold.

Ops Commit
Ops Commit Criteria 60 minutes before launch.
Image Credit: KSC Video

Weather is now a ‘go’. The Ops Commit Criteria are all green.

The launch is now at T-minus 9 minutes, with a 41 minute built in hold. This will set up the launch, with the window opening at 15:22:13 UTC.

The launch is expected at 15:26 UTC. The countdown will resume at 15:17:46 UTC

Poling of the main systems is complete, and everything is go.

T-minus 4 minutes.

Steering check of the three main engines. Solid rockets are armed. The auxiliary power units have been started.

T-minus 2 minutes.

T-minus 60 seconds.

T-minus 31 seconds and a failure at the moment of hand-off to the internal computer.

Retraction of the event arm confirmed.

The count has resumed.

And launch.

Image Credit: NASA TV

Seven minutes into the flight, all systems are go.

At eight minutes we have main engine cutoff and external tank separation.

All three APU systems and all three fuel cells are operating normally.

Atlantis will now begin chasing the International Space Station, anticipating docking two days from now.

Atlantis – The Last Space Shuttle Flight

STS-135 on the pad July 4th
Image Credit: KSC TV Feed

Processing of the space shuttle Atlantis continues today, July 4th, in preparation for the July 8 launch.

Here are the launch windows for Atlantis (times are UTC):

  • 8 July – 1521-1531
  • 9 July – 1459-1509
  • 10 July – 1433-1443

After that is a five day period reserved for a Delta IV launch. The next launch window is 16 July beginning at 1211 UTC.

The primary objective of STS-135 is to deliver a Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) carrying 9,500 lbs of cargo, a Lightweight Multi-Purpose Equipment Support Structure Carrier (LMC), and a Station Power Distribution Unit (SPDU). The LMC will carry the Robotics Refueling Payload to the ISS and return the failed Pump Module (PM) from the ammonia cooling system. Additional ISS equipment and supplies will be carried up.

The current mission for Atlantis is to deliver as much stuff as possible to the Space Station before we come to rely on the Russian Soyuz M, European ATV, Japanese HTV, SpaceX Dragon and Orbital Sciences Cygnus resupply missions.

A long history of the Atlantis missions can be found at NASASpaceFlight:

A complete guide to NASA TV coverage can be found here.

Discovery Returns

365 Days – total accumulated time in space during 39 missions.

146 million miles – total mileage accumulated during Discovery’s time in orbit.

Discovery was cleared for return on the first available opportunity.

Discovery Descending
Image Credit: NASA TV

Discovery Descending
Image Credit: NASA TV

Discovery Approach
Image Credit: NASA TV

Discovery Touchdown
Image Credit: NASA TV

Discovery Chute
Image Credit: NASA TV

Discovery Rollout
Image Credit: NASA TV

Discovery Stopped
Image Credit: NASA TV

Main Gear Touchdown: MET 12/19:03:53 – 16:57:17 UCT

Nose Gear Touchdown: MET 12/19:04:04 – 16:57-28 UCT

Wheel Stop: MET 12/19:04:50 – 16:58:14 UCT