Posts Tagged ‘Space Shuttle Atlantis’

Space Shuttle Atlantis’ Final Flight and the Fleet’s Museum Duty Prep

July 12, 2011

On July 8th, 2011, the Space Shuttle Atlantis took off on its last mission, STS-135NASA prepared extensively for the final 13-day flight that will close out the Space Shuttle Program.  Atlantis was moved to its launch pad at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on May 31, and lifted off on July 8 at 11:29 A.M. EDT (1529 GMT).  The shuttle rolled out to the launch pad just hours before its sister ship, Space Shuttle Endeavour, landed early morning on June 1, wrapping up STS-134, its own final mission: a 16-day delivery flight to the International Space Station.  The four-person astronaut crew has worked extremely hard to prepare for Atlantis’, and the Space Shuttle Program’s, last mission.

STS-135 marks the final flight of Space Shuttle Atlantis and the Space Shuttle Program. The Space Shuttles must undergo extensive preparations before assuming museum duty.Many of you may be wondering what will happen to all the space shuttles after this last launch.  Well, the space shuttles are getting ready for their second lives as museum pieces.  The shuttles themselves will go through a lengthy clean-up process before they’re ready for their public debuts.  When a shuttle lands, it’s covered in hazards: liquid hydrogen and oxygen for fuel, ammonia for coolant, and live pyrotechnics for blowing out emergency escape windows.  “We have to remove those chemical hazards so that when it’s in a museum, the public can walk up to it without risk of things outgassing or dripping,” said NASA flow director Stephanie Stilson, who oversaw all the post-flight checkups and pre-flight preparations for Discovery’s last 11 trips to space and is now getting the remaining space shuttles ready for retirement.  Because of these space shuttles, we have been able to make many advances in science and technology.

Once the space shuttles are prepared and deemed safe for public viewing, we can view these magnificent space vehicles at museums around the country.  Space Shuttle Discovery will be located at the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center just outside Washington, D.C.  Space Shuttle Endeavour will be located at the California Science Center in Los Angeles.  Space Shuttle Atlantis will be located at the Kennedy Space Center just outside Orlando, Florida.

Watch the final launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis, which took place on July 8, 2011.

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Joie Montoya

NASA’s Manned Missions: Past and Present

May 24, 2011

Since 1959, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has successfully launched over 100 manned flights into space.  The most successful space programs have been the following:

Project Mercury (1959-1963) – The first US-crewed program started in 1959, successfully completing six crewed missions.  Watch the first part of NASA’s documentary on Project Mercury below, as well as part two and part three.

Project Gemini (1963-1966) – NASA used this program to practice space rendezvous and EVAs, completing a run of ten crewed missions.  Part one of NASA’s documentary on Project Gemini (Gemini IV), below, along with part two and part three.

Apollo Program (1961-1975) – Even though there were a total of eleven crewed missions, Apollo 11 featured Man’s very first lunar landing.  Watch part one of NASA’s documentary, Apollo 11: For All Mankind, below, as well as part two, part three, and part four.

Skylab (1973-1974) – The first American space station featured three crewed missions, which took place in 1973 and 1974.  NASA’s documentary is in two parts: part one is below.

Apollo-Soyuz (1975) – A joint program with the Soviet Union, only one crewed mission took place, but it was historic, nonetheless.  Here are parts one (below), two, and three of NASA’s documentary.

Space Shuttle Program | Space Transportation System (STS) (1981-2011) – The longest running program has gone through 133 crewed missions and was the first to make use of reusable spacecrafts.  Watch parts one (below), two, and three of NASA’s documentary covering STS-1, Space Shuttle Columbia’s and, indeed, the entire Space Shuttle program’s, maiden flight.

Shuttle-Mir Program (1994-1998) – The result of a Russian partnership, this program completed eleven crewed missions.

International Space Station (ISS) (1998-present) – This is an ongoing collaboration with Russia, Canada, ESA, and JAXA along with co-operators, ASI and AEB.  27 expeditions have maintained a human presence in outer space since 1998, and 34 Space Shuttle missions played a critical role in the construction and delivery of supplies to the ISS.  The video below highlights STS-88, the first Space Shuttle mission to the ISS.

There have been many successes with NASA’s space programs.  Since 1959, there have only been three failures which resulted in the death of the crew, such as Apollo 1 in 1967, STS-51-L (the Challenger disaster) in 1986, and STS-107 (the Columbia disaster) in 2003.  Nonetheless, the purpose of the “Review of United States Human Space Flight Plans” is to examine ongoing and planned National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) development activities, as well as potential alternatives, and present options for advancing a safe, innovative, affordable, and sustainable human space flight program in the years following Space Shuttle retirement.  I hope that, within the next few years, we continue to make many historic advances in our ongoing mission to uncover the secrets of outer space with today’s budding scientist and engineers in tomorrow’s fleet of spacecrafts.

With the retirement of NASA's Space Shuttle program in 2011, let's look back at NASA's past human spaceflight programs; at first, in a Space Race with the former U.S.S.R. and, later on, in cooperation with them and other space agencies from the international community.

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Joie Montoya

2 Unique Photos Captured Space Shuttle Endeavour’s Final Flight

May 20, 2011

The Space Shuttle Endeavor took off on its final flight on May 16, 2011, with one more flight left scheduled for the Space Shuttle Atlantis.  As of Monday, Endeavour had logged more than 116 million miles, circled the Earth some 4,500 times, spent 283 days in space and carried 170 people, including the last two people to fly a Space Shuttle for the first time.  Once Atlantis flies, it will be three years, at best, before Americans are launched again from U.S. soil.   This was a once in a lifetime event but even for those who missed the launch, a lucky few managed to take photographs of Endeavor’s flight into space as it happened.

As the Space Shuttle Endeavour embarked on its last mission, two photos captured the first few moments of the launch: one from a helium-filled weather balloon, and another from an airline passenger's iPhone.

STS-134 launch as seen from an iPhone on a Delta flight. Courtesy: Stefanie Gordon

The first picture had been shot with an iPhone.  Stefanie Gordon, a passenger on a Delta flight from New York to Palm Beach, Florida, witnessed the Space Shuttle break through a layer of clouds and continue to soar up into space.  Thinking quickly, she pulled out her iPhone and immediately began taking pictures and video of this amazing sight.  She knew she captured something remarkable when she uploaded her pictures to Twitter and, soon after, her phone “just started going crazy” with notifications for new Twitter followers.  Within a few hours, she was fielding phone calls from ABC, the BBC, and CNBC.

As the Space Shuttle Endeavour embarked on its last mission, two photos captured the first few moments of the launch: one from a helium-filled weather balloon, and another from an airline passenger's iPhone.

STS-134 launch as seen from Senatobia-1 Balloon at 64,000 ft. Courtesy: Quest For Stars

The second picture was planned and taken by a balloon camera. “Senatobia-1” was launched from Bronson Sports Complex in Bronson, Florida at 7:30 am on the morning of the launch by Quest for Stars, an educational non-profit organization promoting Science Technology Engineering Math (STEM) studies.  The helium-filled balloon caught Endeavour’s flight path in a series of five pictures as it reached 64,000 feet.  The camera payload ultimately reached over 95,000 feet before the balloon burst, releasing the payload for a parachute landing and recovery by Quest for Stars’ ground crew.

Both of these photographs will go down in history as capturing the Space Shuttle Endeavor’s final flight from two unique perspectives.  With any luck, the Space Shuttle Atlantis will be documented by future scientists, engineers, and astronauts who wish to take part in NASA’s next generation of manned missions to outer space.

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Joie Montoya

Where is the Space Shuttle Endeavour Headed?

April 21, 2011

After making its final flight in April 2011, the Space Shuttle Endeavour will take up permanent residency at the California Science Center in Los Angeles.  It won’t be an easy transport but definitely worth it to those who live in California.  The estimated cost to move the 75-ton Space Shuttle is about $29 million.  On top of that, a special exhibit showroom will be constructed at the center.  Although the exhibit won’t be complete for at least five years, I’m sure many are looking forward to standing next to this amazing spacecraft up close and personal.  The Space Shuttle Endeavour has one last mission to fly but so far, it has already traveled 115.5 million miles and has spent 280 days, 9 1/2 hours in space.  In June, NASA’s Space Shuttle program will end with the Space Shuttle Alantis’ last flight.

NASA's Space Shuttle Program is ending in 2011 with Space Shuttle Endeavour's and Atlantis' last flight.Brendan Kownacki, director of Strategic Innovation for Merge Creative Media in Washington, once said that the Space Shuttles are an important symbol.  “The Space Race with the Russians began as a sign of technical savvy and nationalism, and has yielded dozens upon dozens of inventions and technological advancements.  I think the shuttles represent innovation and imagination and the idea that America has a bright future beyond what we see or know or can grasp.”  I agree with his statement very much and am glad that the Space Shuttle Endeavour will be placed at a center so close to home.  Many worked on making the shuttles a reality and I am proud to say that my father was one of those people.  I feel that everyone who was involved in making the shuttle deserves special recognition.  Even though the Space Shuttle program will be ending this June, the opportunities that came from it will endure for generations to come.

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Joie Montoya