On October 27, 1961, the Marshall Space Flight Center and the Nation marked a high point in the 3-year-old Saturn development program when the first Saturn vehicle flew a flawless 215-mile ballistic trajectory from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The 162-foot-tall rocket weighed 925,000 pounds and employed a dummy second stage.
Melody Petersen reports: Elon Musk’s SpaceX sent a cargo capsule loaded with International Space Station supplies into orbit Saturday morning, but the company’s unprecedented attempt to set down the craft’s first-stage rocket on an ocean barge was rocky and damaged the booster.
“Rocket made it to the drone spaceport ship, but landed hard. Close, but no cigar this time. Bodes well for the future tho.”
— Elon Musk
Within minutes, the cargo-filled capsule separated from the first-stage booster rocket and continued on its way to orbit and rendezvous with the space station.
That was when SpaceX attempted what had never been done: flying the 13-story booster back to Earth and landing it upright on an ocean barge.
The booster made it to the barge, but Musk tweeted that some of the vessel’s equipment was damaged by the impact. “Ship itself is fine,” he wrote. “Some of the support equipment on the deck will need to be replaced.”
“Didn’t get good landing/impact video,” he tweeted. “Pitch dark and foggy. Will piece it together from telemetry and … actual pieces.”
Hawthorne-based SpaceX hopes to one day be able to reuse the first stage, which includes the expensive and powerful engines needed to blast the capsule to orbit. The planned landing and recovery of the first stage is part of Musk’s goal to eventually be able to refly the same spacecraft many times, greatly lowering the cost of space flight. Read the rest of this entry »
Note: The YouTube video that was originally embedded here was removed, try viewing it at NBCNightly News instead, as linked above.
[VIDEO] Panic at the Press Site: Audio Captures Camera Operators Freaking Out During the Antares Rocket ExplosionPosted: October 28, 2014
Collective panic: Any ambitions for being a level-headed war correspondent or courageous A-list camera operator go up in smoke as members of the press are caught on tape going cuckoo bananas while witnessing a failed launch.
Swearing, gasping, pants-wetting, shaky-cam emotional meltdown. NSFW audio. Priceless.
Orbital Sciences Corp. said in a Tweet shortly after the explosion:
There has been a vehicle anomaly. We will update as soon as we are able.
— Orbital Sciences (@OrbitalSciences) October 28, 2014
The cargo rocket was supposed to launch Monday night, but that had to be scrubbed because a boat was too close to the “hazard zone” near the launch site.
This launch was the third of eight International Space Station cargo resupply missions under NASA’s $1.9 billion contract with Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Virginia. Orbital provides the launch vehicle and cargo spacecraft and NASA runs the range operations.
“Radar aircraft detected the boat and hailed it several times, but there was no response. A spotter plane made multiple passes around the boat at low altitudes using commonly understood signals such as wing waving to establish contact. However, the operator did not respond.”
— NASA statement
The Antares rocket was carrying 4,483 pounds of equipment to the station including 1,360 pounds of food.
Orbital Sciences said everyone at the launch site had been accounted for, and the damage appeared to be limited to the facilities. Read the rest of this entry »
— NASA (@NASA) July 12, 2014
Watch live as Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus spacecraft attempts to make its first cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station today. Coverage begins via NASA TV at 9:15 a.m. PT/12:15 p.m. ET with the launch scheduled for just under an hour later.
Cygnus will carry supplies and scientific experiments to the station including tests of antibiotic effectiveness in space and an ant farm. It is only the third flight of the new Antares rocket, following a test flight in April and a successful launch carrying no supplies to the ISS in September.
While scientists are innovating and creating, politicians aren’t doing much of anything.
Glenn Reynolds writes: There are two Americas, all right. There’s one that works — where new and creative things happen, where mistakes are corrected, and where excellence is rewarded. Then there’s Washington, where everything is pretty much the opposite. That has been particularly evident over the past week or so. One America can launch rockets. The other America can’t even launch a website.
In Washington, it’s been stalemate, impasse, and theater — the kind of place where a government shutdown leads park rangers to complain, “We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. It’s disgusting.” Well, yes. The politics don’t work, the websites don’t work — even for the people who manage to log on — and the government shutdown informs us that most of government is “non-essential.” Instead of correcting mistakes or rewarding excellence, it’s mostly finger-pointing, blame-shifting, and excuse-making. Read the rest of this entry »
Orbital Sciences will once again attempt to rendezvous with the International Space Station when it launches the Cynus spacecraft aboard its Antares rocket, shown here in a file photo of an earlier launch. Photo courtesy Orbital Sciences
Orbital Sciences’ unmanned Cygnus spacecraft is slated to rendezvous with the International Space Station on Sunday, now that engineers have corrected a Y2K-like problem with its GPS system and a traffic jam at the station has cleared up. Live coverage will begin at 4:30 a.m. EDT (video below), or the virtual version can be watched via the impressive online simulator. Read the rest of this entry »