Expedition 25 crew members Oleg Skripochka, Scott Kelly and Sasha Kaleri lifted off in the Soyuz capsule for the International Space Station. They're joining Commander Doug Wheelock, Fyodo Yurchikhin and Shannon Walker, who have been in orbit since June. Also, the Congress approved the NASA Authorization Act of 2010, paving the way for the agency's future exploration plans. Plus, Mars Meteorite, Back in the Air, the Best Station Views, and more.
Appalachian Mountains in Pennsylvania
Globular Star Cluster NGC 6934
Gallery Pick of the Day
The beautiful spiral galaxy NGC 406 was discovered in 1834 by John Herschel and is here imaged in great detail by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.
ISS Instrument Detects X-ray Nova – An instrument on board the International Space Station has discovered an X-ray nova. The science team from the Monitor of All-sky X-ray Image (MAXI) instrument on the Exposed Facility of the Japanese Kibo reported a short-lived X-ray nova became visible in the constellation of Ophiuchus on September 25, 2010, and the MAXI team confirmed that it was an uncatalogued X-ray source. –Nancy Atkinson / Universe Today
The Crab is still crabby – A thousand years ago, and 6500 light years away from Earth, a high mass star exploded. An octillion tons of gas blasted outwards at speeds of thousands of kilometers per second, forming tendrils and wisps as it raced away… – Phil Plait / Bad Astronomy
Deep-Sky Wonders Again – Last week I promised to write about the flashlight at night as a metaphor for stargazing techniques — and I’ll get to that in due time. But first I want to write about my observing session last weekend. -Tony Flanders / Sky and Telescope
The space shuttle Discovery landing at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida
Space Shuttle Discovery landed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida after a 15-day mission and 238 orbits of Earth. Discovery’s main gear touched down at 13:08:35 GMT, followed by the nose gear at 13:08:47 GMT and wheelstop at 13:09:33 GMT.
The space shuttle Discovery is seen as it lands at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, Tuesday, April 20, 2010. Discovery and the STS-131 mission crew, Commander Alan G. Poindexter, Pilot James P. Dutton Jr. and Mission Specialists Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, Rick Mastracchio, Stephanie Wilson, Clayton Anderson and Japanese astronaut Naoko Yamazaki returned from their mission to the International Space Station. Photo credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)
STS-131 was the 131st space shuttle mission, the 38th for Discovery and the 33rd shuttle mission to the International Space Station. It was the second flight of 2010. It is Discovery’s penultimate mission; its last flight is STS-133, targeted for Sept. 16.
Homecoming The space shuttle Discovery is seen as it lands at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, Tuesday, April 20, 2010. Discovery and the STS-131 mission crew--Commander Alan G. Poindexter, pilot James P. Dutton Jr. and mission specialists Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, Rick Mastracchio, Stephanie Wilson, Clayton Anderson and Japanese astronaut Naoko Yamazaki--returned from their mission to the International Space Station - Credit: Naoki KASHIWADANI
Streams of smoke trail from the main landing gear tires as space shuttle Atlantis touches down on Runway 33 at the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida after 11 days in space, completing the 4.5-million-mile STS-129 mission on orbit 171 - Source: NASA/Jim Grossmann
Today, at 14:44:23 GMT, the Space Shuttle Atlantis landed on runway 33 of the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) at Kennedy Space Center (KSC), 10 days, 19 hours, 16 minutes, and 13 seconds after the lift of on November 16 at 19:28:10 GMT, ending a flawless mission.
Space Shuttle Atlantis landing on runway 33 at the Shuttle Landing Facility at Kennedy Space Center
Main gear touchdown at 14:44:23 GMT on runway 33 at the Shuttle Landing Facility at Kennedy Space Center - Source: NASA
Main chute deployed - Source: NASA
Nose gear touchdown at 14:44:36 GMT - Source: NASA
The view of runway 33 from the shuttle cockpit - Source: NASA TV
Space Shuttle Atlatis during the 300-degree right-overhead Heading Alignment circle turn - Source: NASA TV
At 10:52 GMT, STS-129 entry Flight Director Bryan Lunney and his entry team of flight controllers gave Atlatis a “go” to close the payload bay doors. The crew members suited up in their launch and entry suits at 12:14 GMT and strapped into their seats at 12:37 GMT. At 13:18 GMT the Capsule Communicator (CAPCOM), astronaut Chris Ferguson (STS-115, STS-126), radioed Atlantis Commander Charlie Hobaugh that Atlantis was to “go” for the de-orbit burn.
Blue skies above the Shuttle Landing Facility at the Kennedy Space Center - Source: NASA TV
Flying upside down and backwards more than 300 km above the Indian Ocean just west of Indonesia, the crew executed the deorbit burn lasting 2 minutes and 47 seconds with the Time of Ignition (TIG) at at 13:37:10 GMT, slowing the orbiter down by about 340 km/h. The orbiter encountered the upper layers of the Earth’s atmosphere at around 14:12 GMT, marking the beginning of the entry interface (EI). At the time of EI, the shuttle was flying at Mach 25 with its nose elevated 40 degrees at of about 120km over the south Pacific ocean.
STS-129 Long-range Landing Ground Track on orbit 171 - Source: NASA
During the STS-129 mission’s (ISS assembly flight ULF3) 3 extra-vehicular activities (EVA’s), Atlantis crew installed the S-band Antenna Sub-Assembly (SASA), the GATOR (Grappling Adaptor to On-Orbit Railing) bracket to the Columbus laboratory, High Pressure Gas Tank (HPGT) on the Quest airlock, the ExPRESS Logistics Carrier 2 (ELC-2), deployed the S3 outboard Payload Attachment System, relocated the Floating Potential Measurement Unit, removed a pair of micrometeoroid and orbital debris (MMOD) shields from outside the airlock and strapped them to the External Stowage Platform #2, and shut down and packed the failed Urine Processor Assembly/Distillation Assembly (UPA DA).
The Canadarm2 or the Space Station Remote Manipulator System mates the Express Logistics Carrier (ELC) 2 to the Zenith / Outboard Payload Attachment System (PAS) on the S3 Truss aboard the International Space Station, as controlled by Atlantis and station crews in the shirt sleeve environment of the orbital outpost - Source: NASA
EVA 3 marked the 230th conducted by U.S. astronauts, the 136th in support of Space Station assembly and maintenance, totaling 849 hours, 18 minutes and the 108th spacewalk out of the space station, totaling 662 hours, 3 minutes.
Atlantis brought home Expedition 20 and 21 Flight engineer Nicole Stott (@Astro_Nicole) (item number 914), who has become last of the shuttle rotating expedition crew members (ShRECs). She spent 87 days aboard the International Space Station and 91 days in space, which was apparently close enough to earn her NASA’s “100 Days In Space” patch, designed by astronaut Andy Thomas in 2004.
Tuesday, at 1500 GMT, European Space Agency astronaut Frank De Winne handed over command of the station to NASA astronaut Jeff Williams (@Astro_Jeff) in the. De Winne and Expedition 21 Flight Engineers Roman Romanenko and Robert Thirsk are scheduled to leave the station for return to Earth in a Soyuz capsule on November 30.
The next scheduled space shuttle mission is the STS-130 (ISS assembly flight 20A), targeted to launch on February 4, 2010 at 10:52 GMT, will be the 161st American manned space flight, the 32nd shuttle mission to the ISS and the 24th flight of the space shuttle Endeavour. The primary payloads are the Tranquility module and the Cupola, a robotic control station with six windows around its sides and another in the center that provides a 360-degree view around the station.
Attired in training versions of their shuttle launch and entry suits, these six astronauts take a break from training to pose for the STS-129 crew portrait. Pictured on the front row are astronauts Charlie Hobaugh (left), commander; and Barry Wilmore, pilot. From the left (back row) are astronauts Leland Melvin, Mike Foreman, Robert Satcher and Randy Bresnik, all mission specialists - Source: NASA
Today at 09:53 GMT the Space Shuttle Atlantis undocked from the Harmony Node of the International Space Station (ISS) after 6 days, 17 hours and 2 minutes. The undocking occurred just northeast of Indonesia, while both the station and the shuttle were in the dark of the Earth’s shadow (as it usually is the case for undocking).
Preparations for undocking are on the way as the ISS flies over the Mediterranean Sea - Source: NASA TV
Yesterday, the STS-129 and Expedition 21 crew members parted ways with a change of command and farewell ceremony, where Expedition 21 Commander Frank De Winne handed over the command of the International Space Station to NASA’s astronaut Jeff Williams (@Astro_Jeff). After the farewell ceremony, the crews closed the hatches that divide the two spacecraft at 18:12 GMT.
The STS-129 and Expedition 21 crew members bid farewell. Photo credit: NASA TV
After 87 days spent in the complex, Expedition 20 and 21 Flight engineer Nicole Stott (@Astro_Nicole), officially, item number 914, became the last astronaut who used the Space Shuttle for a lift to or from the station (as a member of the station’s Expedition crew). If Atlantis lands as scheduled, she will have spent 91 days in space.
Space Shuttle Orbital Maneuvering System (OMS) is scheduled to execute the deorbit burn at 13:37 GMT on Friday, leading to landing at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) runway 33 at 14:44 GMT.
November 16, 2009 at 19:28:08 GMT, NASA successfully launched the Space Shuttle Atlantis on its 31st flight and the 31st shuttle mission to the International Space Station (ISS). Atlantis is scheduled to dock with the ISS on November 18, after a two-day chase in the Low Earth Orbit (LEO). After nearly two years, orbiter Atlantis is set to make a return to the ISS, following the extremely successful flagship mission (STS-125) to repair the Hubble Space Telescope in May 2009.
Solid Rocket Booster Ignition and Liftoff of Space Shuttle Atlantis - Source: NASA TV
Liftoff Space Shuttle Atlantis - Source: NASA TV
Six crew members of STS-129, commanded by NASA veteran Charles O. Hobaugh (STS-104, STS-118), will stay in space 10 days, 19 hours, 14 minutes and land at the Kennedy Space Center at 14:43 GMT on November 27. STS-129 Pilot, Barry E.Wilmore, will be responsible for orbiter systems operations and will fly the orbiter during undocking and the flyaround. Mission Specialists Mike Foreman (STS-123), Robert L.Satcher Jr., and Randy Bresnik will combine for a total of 31 hours and 45 minutes during 3 planed spacewalks (EVA) on flight days 4, 6, and 8. Mission Specialist Leland D. Melvin (STS-122) will operate the robotic arm during EVA-1 and EVA-3.
STS-129 Crew: Pictured on the front row are astronauts Charles O. Hobaugh (left), commander; and Barry E. Wilmore, pilot. From the left (back row) are astronauts Leland Melvin, Mike Foreman, Robert L. Satcher Jr. and Randy Bresnik, all mission specialists - Source: NASA
The STS-129 mission carries two ExPRESS Logistic Carries (ELC’s) , a new Materials on International Space Station Experiment (MISSE) carrier, an S-Band Antenna Sub-Assembly (SASA), 14 tons of important spare parts for electrical, plumbing, air conditioning, communications and robotics systems, additional equipment, supplies and scientific experiments.
S-Band Antenna and Support Assembly and Radio Frequency Group (RFG) - Source: NASA
At the end of the STS-129 mission, Atlantis will bring home Expedition 20 and 21 Flight engineer Nicole Stott (@Astro_Nicole), who will become the last astronaut who used the Space Shuttle for a lift to or from the station (as a member of the station’s Expedition crew).
Many of the missions Detailed Test Objectives (DTOs) are aimed to provide additional information for engineers working for the Constellation Program to developer requirements for the rocket and crew module.
Space shuttle Atlantis is seen on Launch Pad 39A of the NASA Kennedy Space Center shortly after the rotating service structure was rolled back - Source: NASA/Bill Ingalls
The next mission to the ISS will be STS-130 (ISS assembly flight 20A), planned to launch on February 4, 2010 at 10:52 GMT by the Space Shuttle Endeavour. The primary payloads will be the Tranquility module and the Cupola, a robotic control station with six windows around its sides and another in the center that provides a 360-degree view around the station
The next, and last scheduled, flight of the Space Shuttle Atlantis will be the STS-132 (ISS assembly flight ULF4) scheduled for launch on May 14, 2010 at 19:28 GMT. The primary payload is scheduled to be the Russian Rassvet Mini-Research Module along with an Integrated Cargo Carrier-Vertical Light Deployable (ICC-VLD) containing a radiator, airlock and a spare elbow for the European Robotic Arm for the Russian Multi-purpose Laboratory Module.