KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla.--Even using shuttle-derived hardware, established contractors, and long-standing engineering expertise, NASA's projected budget will not cover the costs of developing a congressionally mandated heavy-lift booster and a manned capsule for deep space exploration by 2016 as ordered, agency officials informed lawmakers this week.
NASA managers promised to continue studying alternative approaches and designs for a new Space Launch System heavy-lift booster and Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, but insisted any such program must be "affordable, sustainable and realistic."
"To date, trade studies performed by the Agency have yet to identify heavy-lift and capsule architectures … Read more
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla.--Veteran shuttle commander Frederick Sturckow will replace Mark Kelly in near-term training for a flight aboard the shuttle Endeavour in April, NASA announced today. With Kelly's wife, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, in critical condition in Tucson with a gunshot wound to the head, the substitution will free Kelly to remain at her bedside while ensuring his crewmates complete critical flight training.
NASA officials said Kelly, who endorsed the decision, remains the designated commander of shuttle mission STS-134. Sturckow will begin training with Endeavour's crew next week.
"I recommended to my management that we take … Read more
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla.--Engineers believe they have zeroed in on the root cause of cracks in the shuttle Discovery's external tank, NASA officials said today.
Installation of a relatively simple modification to the tops of the structural ribs, or stringers, where the ship's liquid oxygen tank is supported by a massive flange should resolve the problem once and for all, officials say, setting the stage for another launch attempt February 24.
"We're on the road to bringing this tank to a hundred percent," said shuttle Program Manager John Shannon. "It's been two … Read more
After a two-day orbital chase, a Russian Soyuz spacecraft docked with the International Space Station Friday, bringing three fresh crew members to the lab complex and boosting its full-time crew back to six.
With rookie commander Dimitry "Dima" Kondratyev at the controls, flanked by Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli to his left and NASA astronaut Catherine "Cady" Coleman to his right, the Soyuz TMA-20 spacecraft glided to a smooth docking with the station's Rassvet mini-research module at 3:11 p.m. EST as the two vehicles sailed 224 miles above Western Africa.
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla.--The shuttle Discovery's external tank was loaded with more than a half million gallons of supercold liquid oxygen and hydrogen rocket fuel today in a critical test to learn more about what caused cracks in structural ribs, or stringers, that were discovered after a November 5 launch attempt.
The cracks were repaired, but engineers want to pin down the root cause to make sure the huge tank is structurally sound and able to withstand the rigors of another launch attempt.
The fueling test began at 7 a.m. EST and ended at 2:25 p.… Read more
A Russian Soyuz rocket carrying three crew members bound for the International Space Station blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan today, kicking off a two-day flight to catch up and dock with the orbital lab complex.
With Russian commander Dmitry "Dima" Kondratyev at the controls, the booster's first-stage engines roared to life on time and the rocket lifted off at 2:09:25 p.m. EST (1:09 a.m. Thursday local time), quickly climbing away from the same pad used by Yuri Gagarin at the dawn of the space age 50 years ago next April.
Live television shots from inside the cabin showed Kondratyev in the capsule's center seat, flanked by Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli on his left and NASA astronaut Catherine "Cady" Coleman on his right. All three appeared relaxed and in good spirits as the rocket streaked toward space.
Nine-and-a-half minutes later, the Soyuz TMA-20 capsule separated from the rocket's third stage and slipped into its planned preliminary orbit. Solar arrays and antennas deployed a few moments later and Russian flight controllers said the spacecraft was healthy and on course for a docking with the International Space Station around 3:12 p.m. Friday.
"Everything's good on our side. Congratulations on the successful orbital insertion," chief flight director Vladimir Solovyov radioed after engineers assessed telemetry. "Everything looks good, everything pressurized as it was supposed to, and the telemetry is nominal."… Read more
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL--A commercially developed rocket critical to the long-term health of the International Space Station blasted off today on a long-awaited test flight, boosting an untried cargo craft into orbit for a successful maiden flight, which the company's founder described as "mind-blowingly awesome."
Operating autonomously, the Dragon carried out a pre-planned set of maneuvers during two orbits to mimic critical phases of a rendezvous with the International Space Station and to exercise its 18 thrusters, its power system, and its navigation and control equipment and software.
It then carried out a de-orbit rocket firing and … Read more
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla.--NASA managers reviewing the progress of repairs to the shuttle Discovery's external tank and the rationale for making another launch attempt decided today to pass up an early December launch window, delaying the flight to at least December 17 and possibly all the way to February.
Shuttle Program Manager John Shannon said engineers need more time to understand what caused cracks to develop in structural ribs, or stringers, during fueling on November 5 so they can better assess the likelihood of additional cracks forming during flight that could lead to potentially damaging foam insulation losses … Read more
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla.--Engineers are pressing ahead with work to repair small cracks in the shuttle Discovery's external tank and to finish the replacement and testing of a part that leaked and grounded the ship on November 5.
At the same time, however, troubleshooters are assessing the structural integrity of the tank and its foam insulation to develop the necessary "flight rationale," or justification, for proceeding with another launch as early as November 30.
Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for space operations at NASA headquarters, and John Shannon, the shuttle program manager at the Johnson Space Center … Read more
NASA management miscues threaten to drive up the cost of the agency's next generation space telescope by some $1.5 billion, an independent review panel reported today, pushing the overall cost of the project into the neighborhood of $6.5 billion. That's a best-case assessment that assumes the agency launches the observatory in 2015, the earliest realistic target.
But making that earliest possible launch date also assumes NASA comes up with an additional $250 million in both 2011 and 2012, an unlikely prospect in the current political environment. Barring a sudden infusion of cash, it's not yet … Read more