Atlantis is home

June 2, 2009 23:33 by scibuff

Space Shuttle Atlantis, mounted atop NASA’s Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), a modified Boeing 747-100, finished its 2-day-long 4,000-km cross-country journey by landing at 22:53 UTC in NASA Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) about 3.2km northwest of the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island, Florida.

The shuttle’s piggyback ride started yesterday, at 15:03 UTC at Edwards Air Force Base in California and took the shuttle to the Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, the Biggs Army Airfield in El Paso, Texas and the Columbus Air Force Base in Columbus, Mississippi.

The Flight Track Map of the SCA

The Flight Track Map of the SCA between the Columbus Air Force Base in Columbus, Mississippi and the NASA Shuttle Landing Facility at the Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island, Florida - Source: FlightAware.com

Reporters and enthusiasts awaiting the shuttle "landing" - Source: NASA TV

Reporters and enthusiasts awaiting the shuttle "landing" - Source: NASA TV

Atlantis flying around Endeavour at Pad 39A - Source: NASA TV

Atlantis flying around Endeavour at Pad 39A - Source: NASA TV

The SCA with Atlantis flies over the runway before a 180 U-turn - Source: NASA TV

The SCA with Atlantis flies over the runway before a 180 U-turn - Source: NASA TV

The SCA descends towards the runway - Source: NASA TV

The SCA descends towards the runway - Source: NASA TV

Touchdown - Source: NASA TV

Touchdown - Source: NASA TV

For the full story of Atlantis’ flight home visit NASA Shuttle Ferry Flights website.

The next Atlantis mission is planned for November 2009 to the International Space Station (ISS). It will be 160th American manned space flight and 31st flight of the space shuttle Atlantis.

Atlantis Landed

May 24, 2009 15:51 by scibuff

UPDATE 2: Atlantis landing HD photos now available on NASA website.

Atlantis and the crew of the STS-125 mission landed safely in California at Edwards Air Force Base after completing the Hubble Servicing Mission - Source: NASA/Carla Thomas

Atlantis and the crew of the STS-125 mission landed safely in California at Edwards Air Force Base after completing the Hubble Servicing Mission - Source: NASA/Carla Thomas

UPDATE 1: The landing video from NASA TV is now available on NASA TV on-demand page.

Today at 15:39:05 UTC, the Space Shuttle Atlantis landed on Runway 22 at the Edwards Air Force Base (AFB) in California, ending a 13-day mission – the fifth and final space shuttle servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). During the five spacewalks (EVA’s) the crew installed new instruments and thermal blankets, repaired two existing instruments, refurbished subsystems and replaced gyroscopes, batteries and a unit that stores and transmits science data to Earth, extending HST’s operational lifespan through at least 2014.

In the following days that space shuttle will be ferried back to Florida aboard a shuttle carrier aircraft, which is a modified Boeing 747. Atlantis is scheduled to go the ISS two more times before the shuttle program ends in 2010. The STS-129 will deliver the EXPRESS Logistics Carrier 1 and 2 to the station in November 2009 and the STS-132 will bring the Integrated Cargo Carrier (ICC) and the Mini Research Module (MRM1) in May 2010.

About 2 hours before the 2nd and 3rd landing opportunities (one in California and one in Florida during the orbit #197) NASA astronaut Chris Ferguson took off in the Shuttle Training Aircraft from Edwards in California to evaluate weather conditions for a possible landing at the Edwards Air Force Base. The plane is equipped with the same instruments as the space shuttle and the computers on board can adjust the plane’s maneuverability to mimic that of the space shuttle during landing.

Astronaut Chris Ferguson flying the Shuttle Training Aircraft to assess conditions for landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California - Source: NASA TV

Astronaut Chris Ferguson flying the Shuttle Training Aircraft to assess conditions for landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California - Source: NASA TV

Entry Team discussing landing opportunities during orbit #197

Entry Team led by Norman Knight discussing landing opportunities during orbit #197 - Source: NASA TV

At 14:03 UTC the Mission Control waved off the opportunity for landing at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Cape Canaveral in Florida due to poor weather. The entry team worked extremely hard to bring Atlantis to KSC, but the weather was too dynamic in Florida to make a call an hour and half before landing. At 14:09 UTC Atlantis got a “go” for the de-orbit burn to land at the Edwards AFB in California. Astronaut Chris Ferguson flying the Shuttle Training Aircraft reported pristine weather conditions throughout the area, i.e. “a beautiful day in the desert”.

STS-125 ground track for landing at Edwards AFB in California - Source: NASA TV

STS-125 ground track for landing at Edwards AFB in California - Source: NASA TV

The crew executed the de-orbit burn at 15:24:41 UTC lasting 2 minutes and 36 seconds slowing the orbiter down by about 0.14 km/sand changing its orbit from 566km by 302km to 566km by 48km. The “no action” glitch on the auxiliary power unit (APU) #2 caused by elevated pressure in the drain line but was of no concern for the landing. In the next few minutes the shuttle was rotated nose forward for the entry sequence.

At the entry phase of flight which begins approximately five minutes before entry interface (EI), the orbiter was at an altitude of about 170km traveling at 7.7km/s. The EI started at an altitude of 121.6 km when Atlantis was in the range of 7,869 km the landing site.

Veteran astronaut Scott Altman flew the orbiter on manual control for the past 10 minutes. He executed a wide and sweeping 200-degree left-overhead over the Mojave Desert to position the shuttle on the north-east to south-west approach to land Runway 22.

Atlantis from the long range camera at Edwards - Source: NASA TV

Atlantis from the long range camera at Edwards - Source: NASA TV

Atlantis in a wide 200-degrees left U-turn - Source: NASA TV

Atlantis in a wide 200-degrees left U-turn - Source: NASA TV

Atlantis 1000m above the ground - Source: NASA TV

Atlantis 1000m above the ground - Source: NASA TV

Atlantis landing gear's out - Source: NASA TV

Atlantis landing gear's out - Source: NASA TV

Atlantis touchdown - Source: NASA TV

Atlantis rear gear touchdown - Source: NASA TV

Atlantis nose gear touchdown - Source: NASA TV

Atlantis nose gear touchdown - Source: NASA TV

The next space shuttle mission STS-127 is the 32nd construction flight of the International Space Station (ISS) and the final of a series of three flights dedicated to the assembly of the Japanese Kibo laboratory complex. The facility will provide a type of “front porch” for experiments in the exposed environment, and a robotic arm that will be attached to the Kibo Pressurized Module and used to position experiments outside the station. The 29th shuttle mission to the ISS will last about 16 days and includes five spacewalks (EVAs). The space shuttle Endeavour is targeted to launch at 11:17 UTC on June 13, 2009 from launch pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) on its 23rd mission to the station.

Attired in training versions of their shuttle launch and entry suits, these seven astronauts take a break from training to pose for the STS-127 crew portrait - Source: NASA

Attired in training versions of their shuttle launch and entry suits, these seven astronauts take a break from training to pose for the STS-127 crew portrait - Source: NASA

STS-127 is a bit special for me as a Canadian Space Agency astronaut Julie Payette, to whom I had the privilege to talk as she visited my high school, United World College of the Adriatic in Duino, Italy, will be aboard Endeavour as a mission specialist for her second visit to the ISS.

Atlantis is on the way to Hubble

May 11, 2009 21:51 by scibuff

May 11, 2009 at 18:01:56 UT – NASA successfully launched the space shuttle Atlantis on the fifth and final service mission to the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). Due to an anomaly aboard the telescope that occurred on September 27, 2008, STS-125 was delayed until now to prepare a second data handling unit replacement for the telescope. Over 11 days and five spacewalks (EVA’s), the shuttle Atlantis’ crew will enhance the observatory and ensure its cutting-edge science by putting in place advanced technology that improves its discovery power by 10 to 70 times. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to follow this launch as closely as the launch of Discovery in March.

Discovery on pad 39A minutes before launch - Source: NASA TV

Discovery on pad 39A minutes before launch - Source: NASA TV

Discovery on pad 39A minutes before launch - Source: NASA TV

Discovery on pad 39A minutes before launch - Source: NASA TV

Countdown clock at 30:49 - 10:49 before the T-20 built-in hold - Source: NASA TV

Countdown clock at 30:49 - 10:49 before the T-20 built-in hold - Source: NASA TV

Atlantis takes off in HD – Courtery of NASA TV Youtube Channel:

A few minutes after the liftoff, the crew executed a Orbiter Maneuvering System (OMS) burn to raise the shuttle’s orbit to reach Hubble’s 563-8km above the surface. The shuttle it now on its way to rendezvous with the space telescope on Wednesday.  During the mission, the STS-125 crew aboard Atlantis will travel farther from the Earth than anyone since STS-109 in March 2002, which flew on Space Shuttle Columbia. The mission is scheduled to end on Friday, May 22, 2009 at 15:41 UT when the shuttle is supposed to land at the Shuttle Landing Facility at Kennedy’s Space Center in Florida.

Follow the mission on NASA TV and don’t forget to subscribe to Astro_Mike‘s tweeps from space!

Discovery Landed

March 28, 2009 20:57 by scibuff

UPDATE 2: Discovery Touchdown in HD

Discovery Touchdown in HD - Source: NASA

Discovery Touchdown in HD - Source: NASA

UPDATE 1: HD video of shuttle Discovery landing is now available at NASA TV YouTube Channel.

Today at 19:13:17 UT, the Space Shuttle Discovery landed on Runway 15 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral in Florida, ending a 13-day mission to the ISS.

Discovery gliding towards Runway 15 - Source: NASA TV

Discovery gliding towards Runway 15 - Source: NASA TV

Discovery moments before landing - Source: NASA TV

Discovery moments before landing - Source: NASA TV

Discovery touchdown - Source: NASA TV

Discovery touchdown - Source: NASA TV

Discovery touchdown - Source: NASA TV

Discovery touchdown - Source: NASA TV

The STS-119 flight delivered the space station’s fourth and final set of solar array wings, completing the station’s truss. The additional electricity provided by the arrays will fully power science experiments, help support station operations and extend the station’s crew to six astronauts.

The newly installed S6 solar panel array - Source: NASA

The newly installed S6 solar panel array - Source: NASA

During the mission, which lasted 12 days 19 hours 29 minutes and 33 seconds, the crew traveled 8.5 million kilometres (5.3 million miles). STS-119 was the 125th space shuttle flight, the 28th flight to the station, the 36th flight for Discovery and the first flight in 2009. Despite a few minor glitches and one relatively large one (mission specialist Joseph Acaba accidentally inserted a pin upside down jamming the deployment of an equipment storage platform outside the Japanese Kibo laboratory), the mission is viewed as a big success by bringing the station to full power. Eight flights to station remain before the shuttles retire in 2010.

Discovery deployed the landing "chute" - Source: NASA TV

Discovery deployed the landing "chute" - Source: NASA TV

Discovery deployed the landing "chute" - Source: NASA TV

Discovery deployed the landing "chute" - Source: NASA TV

Source: NASA TV

Source: NASA TV

Source - NASA TV

Source: NASA TV

With Discovery and its crew safely home, the stage is set for the launch of STS-125, targeted for May 12. Atlantis’ mission will return the space shuttle to NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope for one last visit before the shuttle fleet retires in 2010. Over 11 days and five spacewalks, Atlantis’ crew will upgrade the telescope, preparing it for at least another five years of research.