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Name: NASA
7JetSet7 Code: NAS
Status: Operational
Country: USA
Employees 27
Telephone: +1 (202) 358-0000
Fax: +1 (202) 358-3251

Click below for data links:
NAS-2013-01 - ESA ATV
NAS-2013-03 - FALCON 9 TO ISS
NAS-2015-02 - SPACE WALK
NAS-2015-02 - SPOCK-A
NAS-2015-02 - SPOCK-B
NAS-2015-02 - SPOCK-C
NAS-2015-03 - MARCH 27 LAUNCH-A.jpg
NAS-2015-03 - MARCH 27 LAUNCH-B.jpg
NAS-2015-04 - BLUE ORIGIN BE-3.jpg
NAS-2015-04 - EXPEDITION 43 CREW.jpg
NAS-2015-04 - Soyuz Rocket Scuttled.jpg
NAS-2015-05 - Next Mission to Mars.jpg
NAS-2015-05 - Post Certification Mission.jpg
NAS-2015-05 - Space Frontier-A.jpg
NAS-2015-05 - Space Frontier-B.jpg
NAS-2015-05 - Space Frontier-C.jpg
NAS-2015-05 - Space Frontier-D.jpg
NAS-2015-05 - Space Frontier-E.jpg
NAS-2015-05 - Space Frontier-F.jpg
NAS-2015-05 - Space Frontier-G.jpg
NAS-2015-06 - Space Frontier-A.jpg
NAS-2015-06 - Space Frontier-B.jpg
NAS-2015-06 - Space Frontier-C.jpg
NAS-2015-06 - Space Frontier-D.jpg
NAS-2015-06 - Space Frontier-E.jpg
NAS-2015-06 - SpaceX Falcon 9 Fails-A.jpg
NAS-2015-06 - SpaceX Falcon 9 Fails-B.jpg
NAS-2015-07 - Brightest Galaxy in Universe.jpg
NAS-2015-07 - Earth from 1 Million Miles Away.jpg
NAS-2015-07 - ESO 381-12 Galaxy.jpg
nas-2015-07 - LEDA 89996 Spiral Galaxy.jpg
NAS-2015-07 - Mars fresh Crater.jpg
NAS-2015-07 - Medusa Nebula.jpg
NAS-2015-07 - SpaceX Dragon Capsule.jpg
NAS-2015-07 - Venus between Earth and Sun.jpg
NAS-2015-09 - Traffic Aware Planner.jpg
NAS-2015-10 - Mercury.jpg
NAS-2015-11 - Astronaut Hiring.jpg
NAS-2015-12 - Radar Satellite Color Images.jpg
NAS-2015-12 - Resupply Mission.jpg
NAS-2016-05 - Possible Life.jpg
NAS-2018-12 InSight Mars Landing a.jpg
NAS-2018-12 InSight Mars Landing b.jpg



SEPTEMBER 1997: TO PROVIDE 1ST 737-130 (LINE #1, 19437, /73 1,824 HOURS, 2,143 CYCLES) TO MUSEUM OF FLIGHT, SEATTLE.



October 2005: NASA Testing a "Clear View" For pilots (FC).

Working to make flying safer, more than a dozen (NASA), airline, industry and government pilots (FC) are testing technology to "synthetically" give pilots (FC) a clear view of their surroundings.

Technicians equipped a 757 jet with sophisticated cockpit displays and radar equipment that give pilots (FC) clear electronic pictures of what's outside, regardless of weather or time of day. The jet is based at (NASA)'s Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia. The Airborne Research Integrated Experiments System is flying over (NASA)'s Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Virginia to test the Synthetic Vision and Enhanced Vision Systems.

Synthetic Vision combines Global Positioning System satellite signals with an on board photo-realistic database to paint a picture of terrain for the crew. Also on board the 757 is an enhanced weather radar capability that can help pilots (FC) spot traffic and obstacles that aren't part of the Synthetic Vision terrain computerized atlas. (NASA) researchers developed the system. (NASA) is testing this version of "enhanced vision" to determine if it can effectively fill in the gaps and help pilots see hazards, such as traffic on the runway or even a cellular tower recently added to the landscape.

"We've added new software to the X-band weather radar that's already on many airliners to produce a more detailed picture of what the radar would normally see," said Steve Harrah, Synthetic Vision sensors lead. "This helps verify the accuracy of the Synthetic Vision terrain display and gives the pilot (FC) a more complete picture of what's on the ground."

Included in the flight tests are Synthetic Vision and Enhanced Vision cockpit displays developed by BAE Systems, Los Angeles, and Nav3D Corporation, San Carlos, California. These displays use Enhanced Vision technology presented on a head-up display directly in front of the pilot's (FC) eyes.

It supplements the on-board computerized terrain atlas provided on the head-down display. BAE Systems is assessing the effectiveness of fusing Forward Looking Infrared images with active millimeter wave radar pictures for enhanced vision. Millimeter wave radar produces a more detailed image than X-band radar, but the system doesn't have as much range.

During the tests, pilots (FC) from the airlines, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and airplane manufacturers will fly the 757 on approach to Wallops. On most research scenarios, the front windows of the evaluation pilot (fc) will be blocked. The evaluation pilot (FC) will have to rely on the synthetic vision and enhanced vision displays.

Traffic or obstacles may be on the runway, unbeknownst to the test pilot (FC). If the displays work, the pilot (FC) will be able to see the traffic and avoid it. Otherwise, the safety pilot (FC), who is also in the cockpit and always has an unobstructed view, will take over.

Other industry partners participating in the research include The Boeing Company (TBC), Hampton, Virginia; Rockwell Collins, Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and (RTI), Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.

Synthetic Vision Systems research is funded by the (NASA) Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate's Aviation Safety & Security Program. The program consists of a partnership that includes (NASA), the (FAA), airplane manufacturers, airlines and the Department of Homeland Security. Its goal is to reduce the fatal airplane accident rate, protect air travelers and the public from security threats.

Researchers at five (NASA) centers are working to develop advanced, affordable technologies to make flying safer and more secure at: Langley; Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California; Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, California; Glenn Research Center, Cleveland; and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

For information about (NASA)'s Aviation Safety & Security Program on the Web, visit:

For information about (NASA)'s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, visit:

November 2007: (NASA) (NAS) head, Michael Griffin told the USA House Science & Technology Committee, that the agency will reveal certain results from an $11.3 million survey of approximately 24,000 commercial pilots (FC), that reportedly revealed that near midair collisions and runway incursions occur far more often than (FAA) data indicate. Griffin said it was a "mistake" to withhold the data over fears that it would upset travelers and damage airlines, according to quotes cited by the "Associated Press," and promised that "survey results we can legally release, will be released" around year end. Concern over maintaining survey subjects' anonymity was cited as the reason for the delay.

January 2008: The (NASA) (NAS)/(ZNA)/(ZNF) released some 16,000 pages of data from its 2001 - 2004 National Aviation Operations Monitoring Service survey, in which more than >25,000 pilots were asked a range of questions about air safety in the USA and reported much higher rates of midair near misses, runway incursions and engine failures than reported by the (FAA). But (NASA) (NAS)/(ZNA)/(ZNF), which drew strong criticism two months ago for failing to release the results of the $11 million project publicly, insisted that the findings are of questionable value and should not cause the flying public concern. "This research work was not properly peer-reviewed at its inception, and the data that was extracted from the survey, was not properly validated at its conclusion," (NASA) Administrator Michael Griffin said during a conference call with reporters. He noted that the survey "unearthed as many as four times as many engine failures as are being otherwise reported [by the (FAA)]" and strongly questioned whether that was possible. Noting that engine failures are "very high profile," he said the survey's finding of vast under-reporting "calls into question the reporting mechanism" rather than the (FAA) figures. Not all data were released, and further study by (NASA) will determine whether additional information will be made public, Griffin said. The USA National Academy of Sciences said it will analyze the data to determine the survey's value.

September 2009: The Boeing Company [TBC] submitted a proposal to (NASA) on September 22 to accelerate the development of commercial human space transportation as defined by (NASA) in its Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) announcement. Boeing (TBC)’s submission, which draws on the company’s experience with proven human-rated spacecraft, proposes development of technologies that will mature its Commercial Crew Transportation System concept.

(NASA)’s (CCDev) initiative is intended to stimulate private-sector development of a commercially managed system that could be used to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station, Bigelow Aerospace’s Orbital Space Complex, and other potential destinations in low Earth orbit. “Boeing (TBC)’s knowledge of the space station and our long history of supporting (NASA) with proven human-rated systems should allow us to work closely with (NASA) to develop a commercially viable, yet safe, crew transportation system,” said Keith Reiley, Boeing (TBC) Program Manager for the (CCDev) proposal. “Boeing (TBC) has a lot to offer (NASA) in this new field of commercial crew transportation services. To show our commitment, we are willing to make a substantial investment in research and development.”

(TBC) has strong project management skills, commercial manufacturing experience using Lean management practices, one of the strongest supplier networks in the United States, and a team of talented engineers with practical human spaceflight experience. Most recently, (TBC) has applied this experience on its Ares I and Constellation work in support of (NASA)’s exploration mission. Boeing (TBC) can apply these skills and capabilities to meeting specific milestones to show progress in developing a reliable and safe commercial crew transportation system.

Joining (TBC) on the (CCDev) team will be Las Vegas-based Bigelow Aerospace, LLC. Bigelow Aerospace will provide additional investment, requirements for crew transportation to its Orbital Space Complex, and its expertise from testing and validating the technologies necessary to construct and deploy a full-scale, crewed, commercial orbital space complex.

To support the commercial space industry with space-platform and human-rated systems experience, Boeing (TBC) also has joined three other teams competing for (CCDev) agreements. These teams are submitting their own separate proposals.

(NASA) has announced it will sign funded agreements with one or more teams in November, using funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The value of the Space Act Agreements can vary, but (NASA) has said approximately $50 million is available to distribute and that the funded, fixed-price agreements will run through September 2010.

November 2009: Former (NASA) Administrator, Sean O'Keefe leaves to become CEO (EADS) (EDS) North America, replacing Ralph Crosby, who now becomes Chairman and will continue to lead (EADS)' pursuit of the USAF's KC-X refuelling tanker contract.

July 2010: Boeing (TBC) is maturing the design of its CST-100 spacecraft under an $18 million Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) Space Act Agreement with (NASA). The CST-100 can carry a crew of seven and is designed to support the International Space Station and the Bigelow Aerospace Orbital Space Complex.

The CST-100 will be bigger than Apollo but smaller than Orion, and be able to launch on a variety of different rockets, including Atlas, Delta and Falcon. It will use a simple systems architecture and existing, proven components. The “100" in CST-100 refers to the 100 kilometers from the ground to low Earth orbit.

August 2010: ICAO Code: (Callsign - NASA).

September 2010: The Boeing Company and Space Adventures, Ltd have established a memorandum of agreement regarding the marketing of anticipated transportation services to destinations in low Earth orbit (LEO) on Boeing commercial crew spacecraft.

Under this agreement, Space Adventures will market passenger seats on commercial flights aboard the Boeing Crew Space Transportation-100 (CST-100) spacecraft to (LEO). Potential customers for excess seating capacity include private individuals, companies, non-governmental organizations, and USA federal agencies other than (NASA). Boeing plans to use the CST-100 to provide crew transportation to the International Space Station (ISS) and future commercial (LEO) platforms. “By combining our talents, we can better offer safe, affordable transportation to commercial spaceflight customers,” said Brewster Shaw, VP & General Manager of Boeing’s Space Exploration division. “To date, all commercial flights for private spaceflight participants to the (ISS) have been contracted by Space Adventures. If (NASA) and the international partners continue to accommodate commercial spaceflight participants on (ISS), this agreement will be in concert with the (NASA) administrator’s stated intent to promote space commerce in low Earth orbit.”

Boeing (TBC) and Space Adventures have not yet set a price per seat for spaceflight participants, but will do so when full-scale development is under way. (TBC) continues to advance its design for the CST-100 spacecraft under (NASA)’s Commercial Crew Development Space Act Agreement. The spacecraft, which can carry seven people, will be able to fly on multiple launch vehicles and is expected to be operational by 2015. “We are excited about the potential to offer flights on Boeing’s spacecraft,” said Eric Anderson, co-founder and Chairman of Space Adventures. “With our customer experience and Boeing (TBC)’s heritage in human spaceflight, our goal is not only to benefit the individuals who fly to space, but also to help make the resources of space available to the commercial sector by bringing the value from space back to Earth.”

Space Adventures has successfully contracted and flown seven spaceflight participants on eight missions to the International Space Station. Space Adventures, headquartered in Vienna, Virginia, is the only company that provides orbital spaceflight opportunities to the world marketplace. The company offers a spectrum of programming that ranges from terrestrial weightless flights to orbital missions, flights to the edge of space, and a historic return to the Moon. Space Adventures’ clients have spent over >2,000 hours in space, traveling over 35 million miles.

December 2010: Boeing (TBC) is introducing a new subscription-based "In-Flight Optimization Services" harnessing (NASA) (NAS) technology and existing equipment to offer airlines fuel savings and increased environmental efficiency. "Direct Routes" and "Wind Updates" are designed to be implemented within current air traffic and airline operating procedures using current communication channels, according to Director Airline Efficiency Services, Mike Lewis. “No regulatory changes and little to no new equipment is needed, while no upfront costs are involved,” he told Air Transport World (ATW)'s "Eco-Aviation Today." “The new suite of products provides live actionable, flight-specific advisories and is available for the full fleet, not just Boeing (TBC) airplanes, and importantly, it works within the current air traffic system and airline procedures.”

"Direct Routes" provides up-to-the-minute information to airlines and flight crews, enabling adjustments en route to account for weather and air traffic control (ATC) status. The savings are significant. Initial (TBC) projections show that Direct Routes can save more than >40,000 minutes of flight time per year for a medium-size USA airline.

The systems are based on (NASA) (NAS)’s "Direct-To" software that was developed in the late 1990s. The program brings together weather, winds, aircraft performance, airline model, the user’s business objectives, traffic sequence, flow and airspace constraints and advises the airline operations center of any (ATC)-approvable efficiency opportunities. “To increase the likelihood of air traffic controller approval and to keep workload to a minimum, the advisories are pre-checked for traffic conflicts, wind conditions, established airspace constraints and other factors,” says Lewis. (TBC) has collaborated with (NASA) (NAS), Continental Airlines (CAL), and Southwest Airlines (SWA) in the development of Direct Routes to ensure operational viability and assess the benefits, and has shared details of the project and its findings with the (FAA).

(TBC)’s other In-Flight Optimization Services offering, "Wind Updates," increases fuel efficiency and improves airplane performance by sending datalink messages directly to the flight deck with real-time, flight-customized wind information. “These messages enable the airplane's flight management computer (FMC) to recalculate flight control inputs based on more accurate and precise information,” Lewis says. “Currently, if flight crews (FC)s obtain wind data prior to departure, that data can be as much as 12 to 20 hours old as a flight approaches its destination. Inaccurate and limited weather data can prevent airplanes from operating at optimum speeds, altitudes and trajectories. Wind Updates delivers a fleet wide solution using existing on board equipment and requiring minimal investment." (TBC) projects potential savings of -100 to -200 lbs or more fuel for the descent portion of a typical single-aisle airplane flight and is conducting operational trials with (KLM) Royal Dutch Airlines and Alaska Airlines (ASA). Both services will be available beginning in 2011.

Boeing (TBC) has won a one-year, $5.29-million (NASA) (NAS) study contract to study advanced airliner concepts under (NASA)’s Environmentally Responsible Aviation (ERA) project. (TBC) joins Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, which won parallel (ERA) study contracts in late November to examine airliner concepts for service entry in 2025. The teams will define a preferred system concept for an airplane that can meet (NASA)’s aggressive N+2 environmental targets for commercial airplanes starting development after 2020. N+2 refers to technology appropriate for two generations beyond what is currently state-of-the-art.

Compared to a current twin-engine wide body, the N+2 goals include designs that burn -50% less fuel, reduce harmful emissions by -50% and reduce areas affected by objectionable airport noise by -83%. The concept will be capable of cruise speeds around Mach 0.85, a range of up to 7,000 miles and a payload of 50,000 to 100,000 lbs. As part of the contracts, each of the three teams will evaluate how its concept will operate within the (FAA)'s NextGen air transportation system. This will include noise profiles, output of nitrous oxide gas and carbon, as well as the ability to fly operational trajectories. The teams also will develop road maps for developing and maturing technology to specific Technology Readiness Levels (TRL), a (TRL) of six being considered the right jumping-off point to move into full-scale development. They also will prioritize technologies that must be developed in the Fiscal 2013 to 2015 time frame.

March 2011: See attached video of the Mars Science Laboratory (the
"Curiosity Rover") mission animation - -

May 2011: (NASA) (NAS) has reached an important milestone for the next USA transportation system that will carry humans into deep space. (NASA) Administrator, Charles Bolden announced that the system will be based on designs originally planned for the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle. Those plans now will be used to develop a new spacecraft known as the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV).

“We are committed to human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit and look forward to developing the next generation of systems to take us there,” Bolden said. “The (NASA) Authorization Act lays out a clear path forward for us by handing off transportation to the International Space Station to our private sector partners, so we can focus on deep space exploration. As we aggressively continue our work on a heavy lift launch vehicle, we are moving forward with an existing contract to keep development of our new crew vehicle on track.”

Lockheed Martin Corporation will continue working to develop the (MPCV). The spacecraft will carry four astronauts for 21-day missions and be able to land in the Pacific Ocean off the California coast. The spacecraft will have a pressurized volume of 690 cubic feet, with 316 cubic feet of habitable space. It is designed to be 10 times safer during ascent and entry than its predecessor, the space shuttle.

“This selection does not indicate a business as usual mentality for (NASA) programs,” said Douglas Cooke, associate administrator for the agency’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate in Washington DC. “The Orion government and industry team has shown exceptional creativity in finding ways to keep costs down through management techniques, technical solutions and innovation.”

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist or an astronaut to work for (NASA) (NAS). Engineers, pilots (FC), physicists, astrobiologists, and, yes, artists, too, have helped further the mission of the space agency.

In 1962, (NASA) Administrator, James E Webb invited a group of artists to illustrate and interpret (NASA)’s missions and projects. Artists, participating in the (NASA) art program, many of them renowned, have been documenting the extraordinary adventure of spaceflight ever since. Granted special access to historic moments, they have offered their perspectives on what they have witnessed.

“NASA | ART: 50 Years of Exploration,” on view from May 28 to October 9 at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, features works by artists as diverse as Annie Leibovitz, Alexander Calder, Nam June Paik, Norman Rockwell, Andy Warhol and William Wegman. The exhibition includes drawings, photographs, sculpture and other art forms and media from the collections of (NASA) and the National Air and Space Museum. The more than >70 works, ranging from the illustrative to the abstract, present a different view of (NASA) than the one in history books or on news shows.

Several of the artists have captured the faces and personalities of the men and women who have flown in space. Other members of the team, scientists, engineers, technicians, managers and thousands of others who made the space program possible, also are portrayed.
Bunkers, gantries, radio dishes and the towering Vehicle Assembly Building at (NASA)’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, attracted other program artists, some of whom were struck by the co-existence of the space-age architecture of the Cape with the beaches, swamps, birds, and animals that surround the facility.

The exhibition is organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) and (NASA) in cooperation with the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. The museum, located at Sixth Street and Independence Avenue SW, Washington DC is open daily from 10 am until 5:30 pm (closed December 25). Admission is free.

August 2011: Virgin Galactic, the world’s first commercial spaceline, owned by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Aabar Investments PJS, has been selected by (NASA) (NAS) to provide flight opportunities for engineers, technologists and scientific researchers to fly technology payloads into space. This arrangement marks the first time that (NASA) has contracted with a commercial partner to provide flights into space on a suborbital spacecraft, and represents another important endorsement of the value of regular commercial space access for a wide range of science and educational applications.

September 2011: (NASA)’s twin lunar Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 9:08 am EDT Saturday September 10 to study the moon in unprecedented detail.

(GRAIL)-A is scheduled to reach the moon on New Year’s Eve 2011, while (GRAIL)-B will arrive New Year’s Day 2012. The two solar-powered spacecraft will fly in tandem orbits around the moon to measure its gravity field. (GRAIL) will answer longstanding questions about the moon and give scientists a better understanding of how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system formed.

“If there was ever any doubt that Florida’s Space Coast would continue to be open for business, that thought was drowned out by the roar of today’s (GRAIL) launch,” said (NASA) Administrator, Charles Bolden. “(GRAIL) and many other exciting upcoming missions make clear that (NASA) is taking its next big leap into deep space exploration, and the space industry continues to provide the jobs and workers needed to support this critical effort.”

The spacecraft were launched aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket. (GRAIL) mission controllers acquired a signal from (GRAIL)-A at 10:29 am. (GRAIL)-B’s signal was eight minutes later. The telemetry downlinked from both spacecraft indicates they have deployed their solar panels and are operating as expected.

“Our (GRAIL) twins have Earth in their rearview mirrors and the moon in their sights,” said David Lehman, (GRAIL) Project Manager at (NASA)’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. “The mission team is ready to test, analyze and fine tune our spacecraft over the next three-and-a-half months on our journey to lunar orbit.”

The straight-line distance from Earth to the moon is approximately 250,000 miles/402,336 kilometers. (NASA)’s Apollo moon crews needed approximately three days to cover that distance. However, each spacecraft will take approximately 3.5 months and cover more than >2.5 million miles/4 million kilometers to arrive. This low-energy trajectory results in the longer travel time. The size of the launch vehicle allows more time for spacecraft check-out and time to update plans for lunar operations. The science collection phase for (GRAIL) is expected to last 82 days.

“Since the earliest humans looked skyward, they have been fascinated by the moon,” said (GRAIL) Principal Investigator, Maria Zuber from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge. “(GRAIL) will take lunar exploration to a new level, providing an unprecedented characterization of the moon’s interior that will advance understanding of how the moon formed and evolved.”

(JPL) manages the (GRAIL) mission. It is part of the Discovery Program managed at (NASA)’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver built the spacecraft. Launch management for the mission is the responsibility of (NASA)’s Launch Services Program at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The existence of a world with a double sunset, as portrayed in the film "Star Wars" more than >30 years ago, is now scientific fact. (NASA)’s Kepler mission has made the first unambiguous detection of a circumbinary planet (a planet orbiting two stars) 200 light-years from Earth.

Unlike Star Wars’ Tatooine, this planet is cold, gaseous and not thought to harbor life, but its discovery demonstrates the diversity of planets in our galaxy. Previous research has hinted at the existence of circumbinary planets, but clear confirmation proved elusive. Kepler detected such a planet, known as Kepler-16b, by observing transits, where the brightness of a parent star dims from the planet crossing in front of it.

“This discovery confirms a new class of planetary systems that could harbor life,” Kepler principal investigator William Borucki said. “Given that most stars in our galaxy are part of a binary system, this means the opportunities for life are much broader than if planets form only around single stars. This milestone discovery confirms a theory that scientists have had for decades but could not prove until now.”

A research team led by Laurance Doyle of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, used data from the Kepler space telescope, which measures dips in the brightness of more than >150,000 stars, to search for transiting planets. Kepler is the first (NASA) mission capable of finding Earth-size planets in or near the “habitable zone,” the region in a planetary system where liquid water can exist on the surface of the orbiting planet.

Scientists detected the new planet in the Kepler-16 system, a pair of orbiting stars that eclipse each other from our vantage point on Earth. When the smaller star partially blocks the larger star, a primary eclipse occurs, and a secondary eclipse occurs when the smaller star is occulted, or completely blocked, by the larger star.

Astronomers further observed that the brightness of the system dipped even when the stars were not eclipsing one another, hinting at a third body. The additional dimming in brightness events, called the tertiary and quaternary eclipses, reappeared at irregular intervals of time, indicating the stars were in different positions in their orbit each time the third body passed. This showed the third body was circling, not just one, but both stars, in a wide circumbinary orbit.

The gravitational tug on the stars, measured by changes in their eclipse times, was a good indicator of the mass of the third body. Only a very slight gravitational pull was detected, one that only could be caused by a small mass. The findings are described in a new study published September 16, in the journal "Science."

“Most of what we know about the sizes of stars comes from such eclipsing binary systems, and most of what we know about the size of planets comes from transits,” said Doyle, who also is the lead author and a Kepler participating scientist. “Kepler-16 combines the best of both worlds, with stellar eclipses and planetary transits in one system.”

This discovery confirms that Kepler-16b is an inhospitable, cold world about the size of Saturn and thought to be made up of about half rock and half gas. The parent stars are smaller than our sun. One is 69% the mass of the sun and the other only 20%. Kepler-16b orbits around both stars every 229 days, similar to Venus’ 225-day orbit, but lies outside the system’s habitable zone, where liquid water could exist on the surface, because the stars are cooler than our sun.

“Working in film, we often are tasked with creating something never before seen,” said visual effects supervisor John Knoll of Industrial Light & Magic, a division of Lucasfilm Ltd, in San Francisco. “However, more often than not, scientific discoveries prove to be more spectacular than anything we dare imagine. There is no doubt these discoveries influence and inspire storytellers. Their very existence serves as cause to dream bigger and open our minds to new possibilities beyond what we think we ‘know.’”

October 2011: Boeing (TBC) is taking over one of (NASA)’s old space shuttle hangars to build a new capsule that (TBC) hopes will lift astronauts to orbit in four or five years. More than >100 Boeing (TBC), (NASA) and state and federal officials gathered in the massive empty hangar (Orbiting Processing Facility No 3) for the announcement of the first-of-its-kind agreement allowing a private company to take over the government property.

The aerospace company expects to create 550 high-tech jobs at Kennedy Space Center over the next four years, 140 of them by the end of next year. That’s less than <10% of the approximately 6,000 shuttle jobs lost in Florida over the past several years, but Governor Rick Scott and other lawmakers at the ceremony said they expect additional hirings by the commercial space industry.

(NASA) is counting on companies like Boeing (TBC), Space Exploration Technologies Corporation and others to ferry cargo and astronauts to and from the International Space Station in three to five years. Until then, the space agency will continue to shell out tens of millions of dollars per seat on Russian Soyuz spacecraft. The Soyuz is the only way to get astronauts to and from the space station, ever since Atlantis returned from the final shuttle flight in July. A Soyuz rocket failure in August highlighted the risk of relying on just one type of craft.

During the hour long ceremony, lawmakers said the commercial industry is America’s last hope, anytime soon, for USA astronauts to fly on USA spaceships from USA soil.

The Obama Administration requested $850 million in (NASA)’s 2012 budget for the commercial space effort. The House slashed that to $312 million, but the Senate got it to $500 million, a reasonable figure given the nation’s current economic situation, said Senator Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat and a one-time space shuttle flier.

Boeing (TBC) expects to start removing shuttle platforms and modifying the hangar to suit its own purposes in the next few months.
John Mulholland, VP & Program Manager of Commercial Programs for (TBC), said it will be sad to see all the shuttle equipment go. “The shuttle’s such an iconic vehicle. These marvelous buildings have a lot of memory,” said Mulholland, a former shuttle manager. “But you’ve always got to be looking forward. So while the shuttle is remarkable, we’re looking forward to the next phase of space exploration.”

(TBC) wants to ferry astronauts not only to the International Space Station, but to a commercial scientific outpost planned for orbit by Bigelow Aerospace. Each capsule will hold seven people. A test flight is planned by 2015.

The agreement calls for (TBC) to use the hangar for 15 years, with an option to renew for another five. Then it will be up to (TBC) to demolish the building, on (NASA)’s get-rid-of list. (TBC) is not paying (NASA) any rent, officials stressed, but rather will cover all operation costs and utilities.

The hangar is 197 feet/60 meters long, 1,650 feet/500 meters wide and 95 feet/30 meters high. It was last used to ready the shuttle Discovery for its final launch earlier this year.

(NASA) wants to turn the space center (long a government-only location) into a multi-user spaceport. Other buildings are also up for grabs. Space Florida, a state agency, is working on more deals.

Tourists, meanwhile, are about to gain entree into areas that were once strictly off limits.

The Vehicle Assembly Building (where fuel tanks and booster rockets were attached to space shuttles) will open its doors to public bus tours for the first time since 1978.

Throughout the ceremony, (NASA) officials and others stressed that Kennedy Space Center is not going out of business. “Ladies and gentlemen, the dream is alive,” Nelson told the crowd.

(NASA) relinquished its shuttle fleet to concentrate on new rockets and spacecraft that will be able to carry astronauts beyond low Earth orbit. An asteroid is the first stop. Mars is the prize.

November 2011: A rover of "monster truck" proportions zoomed toward Mars on an 8 1/2-month, 354 million-mile journey November 26, the biggest, best equipped robot ever sent to explore another planet.

(NASA)'s six-wheeled, one-armed wonder, "Curiosity," will reach Mars next summer and use its jackhammer drill, rock-zapping laser machine and other devices to search for evidence that Earth's next-door neighbor might once have been home to the teeniest forms of life.

More than >13,000 invited guests jammed the Kennedy Space Center on Saturday morning to witness (NASA)'s first launch to Mars in four years, and the first flight of a Martian rover in eight years. Mars fever gripped the crowd.

(NASA) astrobiologist Pan Conrad, whose carbon compound-seeking instrument is on the rover, wore a bright blue, short-sleeve blouse emblazoned with rockets, planets and the words, "Next stop Mars!" She jumped, cheered and snapped pictures as the Atlas V rocket blasted off. So did Los Alamos National Laboratory's Roger Wiens, a planetary scientist in charge of Curiosity's laser blaster, called ChemCam.

Surrounded by 50 USA and French members of his team, Wiens shouted "Go, Go, Go!" as the rocket soared into a cloudy sky. "It was beautiful," he later observed, just as (NASA) declared the launch a full success.

The 1-ton Curiosity — 10 feet long, 9 feet wide and 7 feet tall at its mast — is a mobile, nuclear-powered laboratory holding 10 science instruments that will sample Martian soil and rocks, and with unprecedented skill, analyze them right on the spot. It's as big as a car. But (NASA)'s Mars exploration Program Director calls it "the monster truck of Mars."

"It's an enormous mission. It's equivalent of three missions, frankly, and quite an undertaking," said the ecstatic Program Director, Doug McCuistion. "Science fiction is now science fact. We're flying to Mars. We'll get it on the ground and see what we find."

The primary goal of the $2.5 billion mission is to see whether cold, dry, barren Mars might have been hospitable for microbial life once upon a time — or might even still be conducive to life now. No actual life detectors are on board; rather, the instruments will hunt for organic compounds.

Curiosity's 7-foot arm has a jackhammer on the end to drill into the Martian red rock, and the 7-foot mast on the rover is topped with high-definition and laser cameras.

With Mars the ultimate goal for astronauts, (NASA) will use Curiosity to measure radiation at the red planet. The rover also has a weather station on board that will provide temperature, wind and humidity readings; a computer software app with daily weather updates is planned. No previous Martian rover has been so sophisticated.

The world has launched more than three dozen missions to the ever-alluring Mars, which is more like Earth than the other solar-system planets. Yet fewer than half those quests have succeeded.

Just two weeks ago, a Russian spacecraft ended up stuck in orbit around Earth, rather than en route to the Martian moon Phobos. "Mars really is the Bermuda Triangle of the solar system," said (NASA)'s Colleen Hartman, Assistant Associate Administrator for Science. "It's the death planet, and the USA is the only nation in the world that has ever landed and driven robotic explorers on the surface of Mars, and now we're set to do it again."

Curiosity's arrival next August will be particularly hair-raising. In a spacecraft first, the rover will be lowered onto the Martian surface via a jet pack and tether system similar to the sky cranes used to lower heavy equipment into remote areas on Earth.

Curiosity is too heavy to use air bags like its much smaller predecessors, Spirit and Opportunity, did in 2004. Besides, this new way should provide for a more accurate landing.

Astronauts will need to make similarly precise landings on Mars one day. Curiosity will spend a minimum of two years roaming around Gale Crater, chosen from among more than >50 potential landing sites because it's so rich in minerals. Scientists said if there is any place on Mars that might have been ripe for life, it may well be there.

The rover should go farther and work harder than any previous Mars explorer because of its power source: 10.6 pounds of radioactive plutonium. The nuclear generator was encased in several protective layers in case of a launch accident.

(NASA) expects to put at least 12 miles on the odometer, once the rover sets down on the Martian surface.

McCuistion anticipates being blown away by the never-before-seen vistas. "Those first images are going to just be stunning, I believe. It will be like sitting in the bottom of the Grand Canyon," he said at a post-launch news conference.

This is the third astronomical mission to be launched from Cape Canaveral by (NASA) since the retirement of the venerable space shuttle fleet this summer. The Juno probe is en route to Jupiter, and twin spacecraft named Grail will arrive at Earth's moon on New Year's Eve and Day.

Unlike Juno and Grail, Curiosity suffered development programs and came in two years late and nearly $1 billion over budget. Scientists involved in the project noted that the money is being spent on Earth, not Mars, and the mission is costing every American about the price of a movie. "I'll leave you to judge for yourself whether or not that's a movie you'd like to see," said California Institute of Technology's John Grotzinger, the Project Scientist. "I know that's one I would."

Online check: NASA:

See video " "True History of NASA" - -

December 2011: A private California company will attempt the first-ever commercial cargo run to the International Space Station in February.

(NASA) announced the news, one year and one day after Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, or SpaceX, became the first private business to launch a capsule into orbit and return it safely to Earth.

On February 7, SpaceX will attempt another orbital flight from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. This time, the unmanned Dragon capsule will fly to the space station and dock with a load of supplies.

(NASA) stressed it is a target date.

"Pending all the final safety reviews and testing, SpaceX will send its Dragon spacecraft to rendezvous with the International Space Station in less than two months," said (NASA)'s No. 2, deputy administrator Lori Garver. "So it is the opening of that new commercial cargo delivery era."

(NASA) has turned to industry to help stock the space station now that the space shuttles are retired, investing hundreds of millions of dollars in this startup effort. The station currently is supplied by Russian, European and Japanese vessels.

SpaceX's Dragon capsule will fly within two miles of the space station, for a checkout of all its systems. Then it will close in, with station astronauts grabbing the capsule with a robotic arm. The Dragon ultimately will be released for a splashdown in the Pacific. None of the other cargo carriers come back intact; they burn up on re-entry.

If the rendezvous and docking fail, SpaceX will try again. That was the original plan: to wait until the third mission to actually hook up with the station and delivery supplies. SpaceX wanted to hurry it up.

None of the supplies on board the Dragon will be one-of-a-kind or crucial, in case of failure.

SpaceX — run by PayPal co-founder, Elon Musk — is one of several companies vying for space station visiting privileges. It hopes to step up to astronaut ferry trips in perhaps three more years. In the meantime, Americans will be forced to continue buying seats on Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

Congress has appropriated $406 million for that effort, considerably less than (NASA)'s requested $850 million.

"It is nevertheless a significant step," Garver said at a space forum in Seattle broadcast on (NASA) TV. She said (NASA) is evaluating whether it can speed up when USA companies "deliver our precious astronauts to and from the space station."

(NASA)’s Kepler mission has confirmed its first planet in the “habitable zone,” the region where liquid water could exist on a planet’s surface. Kepler also has discovered more than >1,000 new planet candidates, nearly doubling its previously known count. Ten of these candidates are near-Earth-size and orbit in the habitable zone of their host star. Candidates require follow-up observations to verify they are actual planets.

The newly confirmed planet, Kepler-22b, is the smallest yet found to orbit in the middle of the habitable zone of a star similar to our sun. The planet is about 2.4 times the radius of Earth. Scientists don’t yet know if Kepler-22b has a predominantly rocky, gaseous or liquid composition, but its discovery is a step closer to finding Earth-like planets.

Previous research hinted at the existence of near-Earth-size planets in habitable zones, but clear confirmation proved elusive. Two other small planets orbiting stars smaller and cooler than our sun recently were confirmed on the very edges of the habitable zone, with orbits more closely resembling those of Venus and Mars.

“This is a major milestone on the road to finding Earth’s twin,” said Douglas Hudgins, Kepler program scientist at (NASA) Headquarters in Washington. “Kepler’s results continue to demonstrate the importance of (NASA)’s science missions, which aim to answer some of the biggest questions about our place in the universe.”

Kepler discovers planets and planet candidates by measuring dips in the brightness of more than >150,000 stars to search for planets that cross in front, or “transit,” the stars. Kepler requires at least three transits to verify a signal as a planet.

“Fortune smiled upon us with the detection of this planet,” said William Borucki, Kepler Principal Investigator at (NASA) Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California, who led the team that discovered Kepler-22b. “The first transit was captured just three days after we declared the spacecraft operationally ready. We witnessed the defining third transit over the 2010 holiday season.”

The Kepler science team uses ground-based telescopes and the Spitzer Space Telescope to review observations on planet candidates the spacecraft finds. The star field that Kepler observes in the constellations Cygnus and Lyra can only be seen from ground-based observatories in spring through early fall. The data from these other observations help determine which candidates can be validated as planets.

Kepler-22b is located 600 light-years away. While the planet is larger than Earth, its orbit of 290 days around a sun-like star resembles that of our world. The planet’s host star belongs to the same class as our sun, called G-type, although it is slightly smaller and cooler.

Of the 54 habitable zone planet candidates reported in February 2011, Kepler-22b is the first to be confirmed. This milestone will be published in "The Astrophysical Journal."

The Kepler team is hosting its inaugural science conference at Ames December 5 - 9, announcing 1,094 new planet candidate discoveries. Since the last catalog was released in February, the number of planet candidates identified by Kepler has increased by +89% and now totals 2,326. Of these, 207 are approximately Earth-size, 680 are super Earth-size, 1,181 are Neptune-size, 203 are Jupiter-size and 55 are larger than Jupiter.

The findings, based on observations conducted May 2009 to September 2010, show a dramatic increase in the numbers of smaller-size planet candidates.

Kepler observed many large planets in small orbits early in its mission, which were reflected in the February data release. Having had more time to observe three transits of planets with longer orbital periods, the new data suggest that planets one to four times the size of Earth may be abundant in the galaxy.

The number of Earth-size and super Earth-size candidates has increased by more than >200 and +140% since February, respectively.

There are 48 planet candidates in their star’s habitable zone. While this is a decrease from the 54 reported in February, the Kepler team has applied a stricter definition of what constitutes a habitable zone in the new catalog, to account for the warming effect of atmospheres, which would move the zone away from the star, out to longer orbital periods.

“The tremendous growth in the number of Earth-size candidates tells us that we’re honing in on the planets Kepler was designed to detect: those that are not only Earth-size, but also are potentially habitable,” said Natalie Batalha, Kepler Deputy Science Team Lead at San Jose State University in California. “The more data we collect, the keener our eye for finding the smallest planets out at longer orbital periods.”

(NASA)’s twin spacecraft to study the moon from crust to core are nearing their New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day main-engine burns to place the duo in lunar orbit.

Named Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL), the spacecraft are scheduled to be placed in orbit beginning at 1:21 pm PST for (GRAIL-A) on December 31, and 2:05 pm PST on January 1 for (GRAIL-B). “Our team may not get to partake in a traditional New Year’s celebration, but I expect seeing our two spacecraft safely in lunar orbit should give us all the excitement and feeling of euphoria anyone in this line of work would ever need,” said David Lehman, Project Manager for (GRAIL) at (NASA)’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

The distance from Earth to the moon is approximately 250,000 miles/402,336 kilometers. (NASA)’s Apollo crews took about three days to travel to the moon. Launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on September 10, 2011, the (GRAIL) spacecraft are taking about 30 times that long and covering more than >2.5 million miles/4 million kilometers to get there.

This low-energy, long-duration trajectory has given mission planners and controllers more time to assess the spacecraft’s health. The path also allowed a vital component of the spacecraft’s single science instrument, the Ultra Stable Oscillator, to be continuously powered for several months. This will allow it to reach a stable operating temperature long before it begins making science measurements in lunar orbit.

“This mission will rewrite the textbooks on the evolution of the moon,” said Maria Zuber, (GRAIL) Principal Investigator from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge. “Our two spacecraft are operating so well during their journey that we have performed a full test of our science instrument and confirmed the performance required to meet our science objectives.”

As of December 28, (GRAIL-A) is 65,860 miles/106,000 kilometers from the moon and closing at a speed of 745 mph/1,200 kph. (GRAIL-B) is 79,540 miles/128,000 kilometers from the moon and closing at a speed of 763 mph/1,228 kph.

During their final approaches to the moon, both orbiters move toward it from the south, flying nearly over the lunar south pole. The lunar orbit insertion burn for (GRAIL-A) will take approximately 40 minutes and change the spacecraft’s velocity by about 427 mph/688 kph. (GRAIL-B)’s insertion burn 25 hours later will last about 39 minutes and is expected to change the probe’s velocity by 430 mph/691 kph.

The insertion maneuvers will place each orbiter into a near-polar, elliptical orbit with a period of 11.5 hours. Over the following weeks, the (GRAIL) team will execute a series of burns with each spacecraft to reduce their orbital period from 11.5 hours down to just under two hours. At the start of the science phase in March 2012, the two (GRAIL)s will be in a near-polar, near-circular orbit with an altitude of about 34 miles/55 kilometers.

When science collection begins, the spacecraft will transmit radio signals precisely defining the distance between them as they orbit the moon. As they fly over areas of greater and lesser gravity, caused both by visible features such as mountains and craters and by masses hidden beneath the lunar surface, they will move slightly toward and away from each other. An instrument aboard each spacecraft will measure the changes in their relative velocity very precisely, and scientists will translate this information into a high-resolution map of the Moon’s gravitational field. The data will allow mission scientists to understand what goes on below the surface. This information will increase our knowledge of how Earth and its rocky neighbors in the inner solar system developed into the diverse worlds we see today.

(JPL) manages the (GRAIL) mission. (MIT) is home to the mission’s Principal Investigator, Maria Zuber. The (GRAIL) mission is part of the Discovery Program managed at (NASA)’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver built the spacecraft.

January 2012: China will launch orbiters for lunar soft landing, roving and surveying to implement the second stage of lunar exploration in the next five years.

China’s lunar probe projects are based on the idea of “three steps” — orbiting, landing and returning, said a white paper “China’s Space Activities in 2011&#8243; issued by the State Council Information Office.

In the third stage, China will start to sample the moon’s surface matters and get those samples back to Earth, the paper said.

The country’s lunar probe projects have achieved milestone breakthroughs since 2006, with the successful launching of two lunar probes, the "Chang’e-1" on October 24, 2007, and "Chang’e-2" on October 1, 2010.

The first probe retrieved a great deal of scientific data and a complete map of the moon while the second one created a full higher-resolution map of the moon and a high-definition image of Sinus Iridium.

By the implementation of lunar exploration projects, China will make in-situ analyses, morphological and structural surveys of the lunar surface in landing and roving areas, conduct environmental surveys of the lunar surface and make moon-based astronomical observations.

China will also push forward its exploration of planets, asteroids and the sun of the solar system, according to the white paper.

By using spacecraft, China will study the properties of black holes and physical laws under extreme conditions, explore properties of dark matter particles, and test basic theories of quantum mechanics.

It will also conduct scientific experiments on microgravity and space life science, explore and forecast the space environment and study their effects.

February 2012: China will launch the manned Shenzhou-9 spacecraft between June and August this year and achieve space rendezvous and docking mission with the orbiting Tiangong-1 space lab module. The new space docking mission will be realized by astronauts’ manual operation, another chance for China to test its docking technology.

The three crew members of Shenzhou-9 will enter the Tiangong-1 vehicle to live and work there, conducting space science experiments.
The target module Tiangong-1, blasted off on September 29, 2011, went into long-term operation in space awaiting docking attempts of Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10 after completing China’s first space docking mission with the Shenzhou-8 spacecraft in early November.

March 2012: Robert Lightfoot - - SEE PHOTO - - "NAS-ROBERT LIGHTFOOT - 2012-03" becomes NASA (NAS) Acting Associate Administrator. He becomes NASA's highest-ranking civil servant, overseeing efforts in human spaceflight, science and aeronautics. Robert's deputy is Gene Goldman who is also acting Director of the Marshall Space Flight Center.

May 2012: A (NASA) (NAS) astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts docked with the International Space Station (ISS) early on May 17, beginning a four-month mission aboard the orbiting complex. A Russian Soyuz TMA-04M capsule carrying (NASA) astronaut, Joe Acaba and cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Sergei Revin docked with the (ISS) at 4:36 am (GMT) as the two spacecraft sailed 400 kilometers above the border between Mongolia and Kazakhstan, Russian Mission Control said.
“Everything went off smoothly,” Padalka told Mission Control.

The trio began their journey when they launched from the Baikonur Space Center in Kazakhstan, in Russia’s first manned flight for almost five months. They were originally scheduled to blast off on March 29, but the start date was postponed due to technical problems.

The new arrivals will join fellow Expedition 31 members, Commander Oleg Kononenko, NASA’s Don Pettit, and Dutchman Andre Kuipers, who have been aboard the station for almost five months since arriving in December. The hatches between the two spacraft will be opened around 08:00 GMT, when the vehicles will have undergone leak and pressure checks. The three will then enter the station itself.

The docking came as Acaba marks his 45th birthday, (NASA) said.

He had visited the (ISS) in March 2009 aboard the space shuttle Discovery, the US space agency said. For Padalka, it is his fourth long-duration spaceflight and his third aboard the outpost. Revin is travelling into space for the first time.

Their mission, expected to last for 126 days, will involve about a hundred experiments, a spacewalk and the expected arrival of the first commercial cargo craft at the (ISS).

Boeing [TBC] successfully completed the software Preliminary Design Review (PDR) for its Commercial Crew Development (CCDev-2) initiative on May 18. CCDev-2 is part of (NASA) (NAS)’s Space Act Agreement.

Software competency is essential to all operational aspects of (TBC)’s Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 spacecraft, including launch, orbital maneuvering, docking with and separating from the International Space Station, re-entry and landing. The (PDR) team analyzed the system’s flight software, including details regarding safety, testing, overall redundancy management, avionics hardware and ground systems.

“The review, conducted with Boeing (TBC) management along with independent (TBC) and (NAS) reviewers, effectively demonstrated a software design that meets (NASA) safety requirements as well as all system-level requirements within cost and schedule constraints,” said John Mulholland, VP & General Manager, Boeing Commercial Programs. “The completion of the software (PDR) sets the stage for us to finalize a mature system that is capable of providing safe, reliable crewed access to the International Space Station (ISS).”

By following a rigorous design process that integrates (NASA) Human Rating requirements as well as (CST-100) system-level requirements, Boeing is reducing the risk of potential future certification noncompliance and rework that could impact safety, cost and schedule.

“On a fixed-price program such as this, detailed planning and innovative teamwork yield better odds toward successful and affordable operations,” said Orlando Rodriguez, Avionics & Software Integrated Product Team Manager for Boeing.

With the successful completion of the software (PDR), Boeing has concluded 45 (CCDev-1) and (CCDev-2) milestones to date, including the (CST-100) vehicle design Preliminary Design Review in February. The team is on schedule to complete remaining (CCDev-2) milestones in the next few months, including a propellant tank demonstration test and an orbital maneuvering/attitude control engine hot fire test that will provide additional data on significant elements of the spacecraft design.

The (CST-100) is a reusable spacecraft that uses a demonstrated capsule architecture, as well as proven materials and subsystem technologies. The (CST-100) can transport up to seven astronauts, or a combination of astronauts and cargo. Boeing has designed the spacecraft to be compatible with a variety of expendable rockets. Boeing has selected the United Launch Alliance Atlas V launch vehicle for initial (CST-100) test flights in 2015 - 2016.

June 2012: The Chinese Shenzhou-9 spacecraft atop an upgraded Long March 2F carrier rocket, blasted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern China.

A see-off ceremony was held at the center hours before the launch. Wu Bangguo, China’s top legislator, attended the ceremony and extended wishes to the three astronauts. “The country and the people are looking forward to your successful return,” he said.

The launch of the manned Shenzhou IX spacecraft is the 1st time that China’s astronauts will stay in space for >10 days. The mission will also complete the country’s 1st manned space docking to master the necessary technology for assembling a space station.

The first Chinese woman in space Liu Yang, 33, is joined by Commanding Officer, Jing Haipeng and Liu Wang, who had been selected as an astronaut trainee since January 1998.

Main tasks of the Shenzhou IX mission include the manual docking procedure conducted between the Shenzhou IX and the orbiting space lab module Tiangong-1.

China succeeded in the automated rendezvous and docking between the unmanned Shenzhou-8 spacecraft and Tiangong-1 last year.

A successful manual docking will demonstrate a grasp of essential space rendezvous and docking know-how, a big step in the country’s manned space program to build a space station around 2020.

Liu, a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) major, was a (PLA) Air Force pilot with 1,680 hours of flying experience and deputy head of a military flight unit before being recruited as an astronaut candidate in May 2010.

After 2 years of training, which shored up her astronautic skills and adaptability to space environment, Liu excelled in testing and was selected in March this year as a candidate for the Shenzhou IX manned space mission.

“Female astronauts generally have better durability, psychological stability and ability to deal with loneliness,” Wu Ping, spokeswoman for China’s manned space program, said.

>50 female astronauts from 7 countries have gone into space to date. The longest space flight by female astronauts lasted 188 days.

The 1st manned space docking of China succeeded with the coupling of the Shenzhou IX spacecraft and Tiangong-1 lab module, the Beijing Aerospace Control Center said.

The procedure began with the Shenzhou IX, with 3 astronauts aboard, moving to a location 52 km away from the Tiangong-1. The spacecraft then slowly drifted toward the Tiangong-1 before making contact with the module at 2:07 pm.

The docking was completed in <8 minutes.

China’s 1st successful unmanned space docking was completed last year with the docking of the Shenzhou VIII spacecraft and the Tiangong-1.

Jing Haipeng, commander of China’s 1st manned space docking mission on board the Shenzhou IX spacecraft, entered the orbiting Tiangong-1 lab module, assisted by his crew mate Liu Wang, according to the Beijing Aerospace Control Center.

By last year, China's manned space program had launched its Shenzhou spacecraft eight times, three of them with astronauts aboard. Yet only now, with 13 years of cautiously accumulated experience behind the program, has a Shenzhou crew been given responsibility for controlling the movement of their spacecraft.

So while Shenzhou 8 last year showed that the Chinese manned space program had the technology for automatically bringing one spacecraft up to another and linking them, Shenzhou 9 has set out to prove that if the autonomous system were unavailable, then the crew could do the job manually. If they succeed, planned missions to assemble a space station around the end of the decade will not be hostage to the reliability of the automatic rendezvous and docking equipment.

Shenzhou 9, with 3 astronauts, has proved that equipment a 3rd time, adding to the 2 docking maneuvers that the unmanned Shenzhou 8 executed. On June 18, the latest spacecraft brought itself toward the Tiangong 1 orbital laboratory, then stopped at a range of 5,000 meters/16,400 ft while controllers on the ground assessed its progress. A few minutes later, it began moving on its target again until it stopped once more at a range of 400 meters. With a microwave radar and laser rangefinder supplying data, the spacecraft repeated its procedure down to 140 meters, then 30 meters before finally moving right up to Tiangong 1 and docking with it.

In pushing ahead with their military-led program, the Chinese have had to reinvent such technologies because Western nations have been largely unwilling to cooperate.

All Shenzhou craft have been fitted with manual flight controls, but until Shenzhou 9, the commands to fire maneuvering thrusters were all issued from the ground. Astronauts on previous Chinese missions “just sat in the cabin,” says government spacecraft and rocket builder (CAST). “They did not control the spacecraft.”

Another major task of Shenzhou 9 is to prove that Tiangong 1 can support life. The 3 astronauts are due to spend 10 days of the 13-day mission in the quarters provided by the linked craft. When they left the Jiuquan space base on June 16, they had supplies for 15 days. (Shenzhou, pronounced shen-jo, means “divine craft” and is a homonym of an old name for China. Tiangong, pronounced tian-gong, means “palace of the heavens.”)

Engineers are progressively improving the Shenzhou craft with physical changes and new procedures and failure modes. The current mission's most obvious differences from Shenzhou 8 are the addition of procedures for manual control and equipment for carrying 3 people, including China's first female astronaut. Beyond that, its test of the automatic rendezvous and docking system was more severe, because it executed the maneuver entirely in sunlight. Shenzhou 8 shielded its systems from some light interference by completing the process in shadow. “The rendezvous and docking equipment must accept a severe and unusual test,” (CAST) said in a report carried by the "Xinhua" news agency before the maneuver.

August 2012: News Item A-1: First man on the moon, Neil Armstrong passed away, after complications in heart surgery at age 82 - - SEE ATTACHED PHOTOS - - "NAS-2012-08 - NEIL ARMSTRONG - MOON LANDER" AND "NAS-2012-08 - NEIL ARMSTRONG - RECENT PHOTO."

Armstrong will always be remembered as the 1st human who walked on another celestial body other than the earth. If we think about it, that is something pretty amazing. More amazing is that this was a little >43 years ago! when computers on the Apollo craft had less calculating power than the average wristwatch now.

Astronauts in those days had far less to fall back on. Those men were pioneers just like Columbus or the first Vikings exploring our world. And so I would say a man like Armstrong belongs in those group of amazing people who changed mankind, gave us things to think and dream about.

"A small step for man - - one giant leap for mankind."

Niel Armstrong and (NASA) in those days went where no man had gone before, and did amazing things.

But Armstrong was more than the Astronaut (as a test pilot and gifted engineer, he flew the iconic X-15, and as a Navy pilot, he was awarded 3 medals for combat missions flown in Korea).

In 1962, Neil was selected to become an Astronaut by (NASA), flying Gemini mission 8 as commander pilot and backup pilot for Gemini 11 in 1966. The Gemini 8 was the 1st ever docking mission of 2 spacecrafts in space. Together with David Scott, the mission was flown with great success.

News Item A-2: (NASA) (NAS)’s most advanced Mars rover "Curiosity" has landed on the Red Planet - - See video "NAS-Voyage to Mars" - -

The one-ton rover, hanging by ropes from a rocket backpack, touched down onto Mars on August 5th to end a 36-week flight and begin a 2-year investigation.

The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) spacecraft that carried Curiosity succeeded in every step of the most complex landing ever attempted on Mars, including the final severing of the bridle cords and flyaway maneuver of the rocket backpack.

“Today, the wheels of Curiosity have begun to blaze the trail for human footprints on Mars. Curiosity, the most sophisticated rover ever built, is now on the surface of the Red Planet, where it will seek to answer age-old questions about whether life ever existed on Mars — or if the planet can sustain life in the future,” said (NASA) Administrator, Charles Bolden. “This is an amazing achievement, made possible by a team of scientists and engineers from around the world and led by the extraordinary men and women of (NASA) and our Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). President Obama has laid out a bold vision for sending humans to Mars in the mid-2030s, and today’s landing marks a significant step toward achieving this goal.”

Curiosity landed at 10:32 pm PDT August 5/1:32 am (EDT) August 6 near the foot of a mountain 3 miles tall and 96 miles in diameter inside the Gale Crater. During a nearly 2-year prime mission, the rover will investigate whether the region ever offered conditions favorable for microbial life.

“The Seven Minutes of Terror has turned into the Seven Minutes of Triumph,” said (NASA) Associate Administrator for Science John Grunsfeld. “My immense joy in the success of this mission is matched only by overwhelming pride I feel for the women and men of the mission’s team.”

Curiosity returned its first view of Mars, a wide-angle scene of rocky ground, near the front of the rover. More images are anticipated as the mission blends observations of the landing site with activities to configure the rover for work, and check the performance of its instruments and mechanisms.

“Our Curiosity is talking to us from the surface of Mars,” said (MSL) Project Manager Peter Theisinger of (NASA)’s (JPL) in Pasadena, California. “The landing takes us past the most hazardous moments for this project, and begins a new and exciting mission to pursue its scientific objectives.”

Confirmation of Curiosity’s successful landing came in communications relayed by (NASA)’s Mars Odyssey orbiter and received by the Canberra, Australia, antenna station of (NASA)’s Deep Space Network.

Curiosity carries 10 science instruments with a total mass 15 times as large as the science payloads on the Mars rovers: "Spirit" and "Opportunity." Some of the tools are the first of their kind on Mars, such as a laser-firing instrument for checking elemental composition of rocks from a distance. The rover will use a drill and scoop at the end of its robotic arm, to gather soil and powdered samples of rock interiors, then sieve and parcel out these samples into analytical laboratory instruments inside the rover.

To handle this science toolkit, Curiosity is 2x- as long, and 5 times as heavy as "Spirit" or "Opportunity." The Gale Crater landing site places the rover within driving distance of layers of the crater’s interior mountain. Observations from orbit have identified clay and sulfate minerals in the lower layers, indicating a wet history.

The mission is managed by (JPL) for (NASA)’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The rover was designed, developed and assembled at (JPL).

September 2012: The General Electric Company (GE) and the USA National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) (NAS) have launched an 18-month project to bring NextGen air traffic management (ATM) technology into “The Cloud.”

Announcing the project, (GE) said: “Cloud" computing will enable airlines and air traffic controllers to perform their tasks by sharing not only real-time information but also data analysis and decision support tools to improve airplane operations and airspace efficiency.” "Cloud" computing allows a user to tap into a remote location, where data storage and computational capabilities are virtually limitless. It already is revolutionizing how information storage and business operations are managed, but has been slow to progress in the aviation sector, especially in safety critical areas such as (ATM).

Commercial airlines are starting to replace their data centers with cloud computing, saving millions of dollars in capital and maintenance costs, and the (GE)/(NASA) project will identify opportunities within (ATM) that can benefit from "cloud" computing.

(GE) Global Research electrical engineer and project leader, Liling Ren explained: “"Cloud" computing has the potential to fundamentally change how air traffic management (ATM) operates today. With the transition to it, airlines, pilots (FC) and air traffic controllers will be able to achieve increased information exchange, sharing of decision support automation capabilities that tell them more accurately and reliably about an airplane’s current position and future flight path. This will enable them to improve traffic flow and plan more preferable routes and altitudes, which ultimately means more predictable and efficient travel that is on-time for passengers.”

A key objective of the project is to explore how air traffic controllers, airlines and airplanes could interact more efficiently in a cloud computing environment. (ATM) functionalities and capabilities are currently developed and hosted separately by each of these entities. (GE) expects the project to help accelerate the transition of NextGen (ATM) technology, which traditionally takes years to complete. (GE) researchers would combine the company’s growing capabilities in software with its embedded experience in aviation and avionics to revolutionize (ATM), the company said.

October 2012: Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) on October 8th successfully launched its Dragon spacecraft aboard a Falcon 9 rocket on the 1st official cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. The launch went off on schedule at 8:35 pm (ET) from Launch Complex 40 in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The SpaceX (SPX) CRS-1 mission marks the first of at least 12 (SPX) missions to the space station under the company’s cargo resupply contract with (NASA) (NAS). On board the Dragon spacecraft are materials to support investigations planned for the station’s Expedition 33 crew, as well as crew supplies and space station hardware.

"Dragon" (the only space station cargo craft capable of returning a significant amount of supplies back to Earth) will return with scientific materials and space station hardware. Dragon will now chase the space station before beginning a series of burns that will bring it into close proximity to the station. If all goes well, Dragon will attach to the complex on October 10 and spend over two weeks there before an expected return to Earth on October 28.

“We are right where we need to be at this stage in the mission,” said Elon Musk (CEO) & Chief Technical Officer, SpaceX (SPX). “We still have a lot of work to do, of course, as we guide Dragon’s approach to the space station. But we are thrilled that Dragon was launched successfully into its intended orbit.”

The CRS-1 mission follows a historic demonstration flight last May when SpaceX’s Dragon became the first commercial spacecraft to attach to the space station, exchange cargo, and return safely to Earth. The flight signaled restoration of American capability to resupply the space station, not possible since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011.

For the 2nd time this year, a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft is at the International Space Station. Expedition 33 crew members, Akihiko Hoshide and Sunita Williams today grappled Dragon and attached it to the station, completing a critical stage of the SpaceX CRS-1 cargo resupply mission.

Hoshide used the station’s robotic arm to capture Dragon and guide it to the station’s Harmony module, and then Expedition 33 Commander Williams installed Dragon to Harmony’s common berthing mechanism, enabling it to be bolted in place for an expected 18-day stay at the station. Upon capture, Expedition 33 Commander Sunita Williams of (NASA) remarked, “Looks like we’ve tamed the Dragon.”

Grappling was complete at 6:56 AM ET, and at 9:03 AM ET Dragon was attached to the space station.

“This is a big moment in the course of this mission and for commercial spaceflight,” said SpaceX (CEO) & Chief Technical Officer Elon Musk. “We are pleased that Dragon is now ready to deliver its cargo to the International Space Station.”

Next, the station crew will pressurize the vestibule between the station and Dragon and open the hatch that leads to the forward bulkhead of the spacecraft. The crew will then begin unloading Dragon’s cargo, which includes crew supplies, vehicle hardware, experiments, and an ultra-cold freezer for storing scientific samples.

The mission, designated SpaceX CRS-1, is the 1st of at least 12 that SpaceX will perform under NASA’s $1.6 billion Commercial Resupply Services contract. Only SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft is capable of both carrying significant amounts of cargo to the station and returning cargo to Earth.

Dragon is expected to be released from the space station on October 28 with return cargo that will include used station hardware and more than a ton of scientific samples. Splashdown and recovery in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of southern California will follow the same day.

A Russian Soyuz TMA-06M spaceship with the new crew of the International Space Station (ISS), which took off from Baikonur Cosmodrome, docked with the station successfully, Russia’s Flight Control Center (TsUP) said.

December 2012: A Soyuz rocket roared into orbit from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, initiating a 2 day trip to the International Space Station (ISS) with a 3-man crew that included the 1st Canadian trained to command the orbiting science lab. The TMA-07M capsule carrying cosmonaut Roman Romanenko, (NASA) Astronaut, Tom Marshburn and Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield was on course to dock with the (ISS) on December 21 at 9:12 am, EST.

The spacecraft settled into the intended preliminary orbit and deployed solar arrays and communications antennas on schedule. "Everything is going well on board," the crew reported.

Hadfield has trained to assume command of the station in mid-March for the opening of Expedition 35 and the final weeks of his 5 month mission. Romanenko, Marshburn and Hadfield will be greeted as they dock by American Kevin Ford, the station's Expedition 34 commander, and cosmonauts, Oleg Novitskiy and Evengy Tarelkin. The arrival will restore the station to 6 person operations for the 1st time since November 19.

January 2013: To help (NASA) (NAS) set its space-science priorities, the National Research Council conducts surveys of researchers in particular fields. The results are detailed recommendations for the USA space agency to follow in robotic exploration for the coming decade. Precursor missions to return samples from Mars are the top “decadal survey” goal of planetary scientists, for example. Alas, there is no formal decadal survey process for broader issues of USA space policy. The Mars goal set by the planetary scientists already has been deferred under budget pressure, and the prospects for the rest of the USA space program in the coming year are uncertain at best, as the government uses separation-of-powers procedures drafted in the 18th century to solve 21st-century problems.

William Gerstenmaier, (NASA)'s Human-Spaceflight Chief, has warned that the USA is at a “tipping point” in space exploration, and could be on the verge of a “retreat from space.” A clearer idea of which way (NASA) tips will come when the dust clears from the “fiscal cliff” deliberations. Whether at the top or the bottom of the precipice, (NASA) is highly vulnerable to budget cutting. Sequestration was set to lop $1.5 billion from the agency's nominal $17.7 billion budget for fiscal 2013. And even without sequestration, a down-squeeze on space spending seems inevitable, given the weak economy and the swarm of interests vying desperately for borrowed federal cash.

Within that crunch, a couple of USA space priorities seem fairly safe: the International Space Station (ISS); and the James Webb Space Telescope. After some costly technical challenges, the Webb appears to be on track for a launch in 2018, and Congress and the White House have agreed that preparations should continue. The same is true of the (ISS), which is slowly making the transition to utilization as a unique laboratory in space after a long and painful assembly period. Getting to the (ISS) is another story, and that is where some key decisions must be made.

(NASA) has made clear that it will need $850 million a year to support development of the commercial crew vehicles it needs to transport crews to the (ISS) and perhaps to increase the rotating population there from 6 to 7. At that pace, commercial flights could begin in 2017. Otherwise, the projects run by Boeing (TBC), Sierra Nevada Corporation and SpaceX will bog down, and the 1st flight will slip even closer to the 2020 cutoff date for station funding.

Be very surprised if (NASA)'s fiscal 2014 budget request doesn't include at least that much for commercial crew vehicles, given past congressional reluctance to back commercial crew to the requested extent. But also keep an eye on language from the appropriations committees designed to chop at least one of the three companies from federal funding. Some lawmakers on the purse-string panels believe (NASA) can't afford the competition, while the agency argues it can save money in the long run by backing competing suppliers now.

If Congress adopts what appears to be a penny-wise, pound-foolish approach, SpaceX is probably in the best position to continue. Its Dragon capsule already has delivered two loads of cargo to the (ISS) (SEE PHOTO - "NAS-2013-01 - ISS STATUS REPORT") and returned scientific samples to water landings, and the company has started human-rating the spacecraft to carry space station crews. Sierra Nevada says it has solid private backing, and already has the smallest share of federal support, while Boeing (TBC) seems lukewarm on the whole commercial-crew idea and may drop out, if the federal spigot dries up.

Human spaceflight does not have as well-defined a group of advocates as robotic space science, and the goal-setting process is trickier. The (NASA) Re-authorization Act of 2010 reflects a compromise between the White House and Congress over the Obama administration's desire to turn all USA human spaceflight over to the private sector. Instead, (NASA) is also funding development of a government-owned heavy-lift rocket (the Space Launch System (SLS)) and the Orion multipurpose crew vehicle to take human explorers beyond low Earth orbit. But the agency comes up for re-authorization again in the new Congress that convenes in January, and there are hints in the ongoing power struggle between Administrator, Charlie Bolden and his deputy, Lori Garver, that the White House may try another push to end government development of the (SLS) in favor of commercial crew funding. Bolden is seen as a backer of the traditional approach, and there have been fairly transparent press leaks from within the agency that the White House (or at least Garver) wants to get rid of him. Watch the budget request for the outcome on that one too.

After nearly 54 years of service, DC-8 operations in the USA are set to become even rarer with the pending retirement of Air Transport International's (ATI) remaining DC-8 fleet.

(TIN) is withdrawing its last 4 DC-8s from service early this year and replacing them with 757s. Once completed, only 2 DC-8s will be in operation with USA operators: a DC-8-63F with National Airlines (MUA) and a DC-8-72 test bird with (NASA) (NAS).

Interestingly, 4 of the 6 DC-8s still in operation in the USA still have the original (JT3D) engines and not the relatively fuel-efficient and quiet (CFM56)s that many DC-8s were re-engined with in the mid-1980s.

36 DC-8s are left in service worldwide.

The European Space Agency? (ESA) has agreed with (NASA) (NAS) to contribute a driving force to the Orion spacecraft, planned for launch in 2017. Ultimately, Orion will carry astronauts further into space than ever before using a module based on Europe's Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) technology.

Automated Transfer Vehicles (ATVs) have been resupplying the International Space Station since 2008. The 4th in the series, (ATV) Albert Einstein, is being readied for launch next year from Kourou, French Guiana.

The (ATV)-derived service module, sitting directly below Orion's crew capsule, will provide propulsion, power, thermal control, as well as supplying water and gas to the astronauts in the habitable module.

This collaboration between (ESA) and (NASA) continues the spirit of international cooperation that forms the foundation of the International Space Station.

The (ATV) is a versatile showcase of European technology performing many functions during a mission to the International Space Station. The space freighter re-boosts the Station and can even push the orbital complex out of the way of space debris. While docked, the (ATV) becomes an extra module for the astronauts. Lastly, at the end of its mission, it leaves the Space Station with waste materials.

The (ATV) has proven itself on 3 flawless missions to the Space Station and this agreement is further confirmation that Europe is building advanced, dependable spacecraft, said Nico Dettmann, Head of (ATV)'s production program.

Thomas Reiter (ESA) Director Human Spaceflight & Operations said: (NASA)'s decision to cooperate with (ESA) on their exploration program with (ESA) delivering a critical element for the mission is a strong sign of trust and confidence in (ESA)'s capabilities. For (ESA), it is an important contribution to human exploration.

Dan Dumbacher, Deputy Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems Development at (NASA) headquarters in Washington DC, agrees: It is a testament to the engineering progress made to date, that we are ready to begin integrating designs of an (ESA)-built service module with Orion.

The 1st Orion mission will be an un-crewed lunar fly-by in 2017, returning to Earth atmosphere at a speed of 11 km/s, the fastest re-entry ever.

March 2013: Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) successfully launched its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft to orbit for SpaceX’s 2nd mission under its Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract with (NASA). Falcon 9 completed its job perfectly, continuing its 100% success rate. “Falcon 9 was designed to be the world’s most reliable rocket, and today’s launch validated this by adding to Falcon 9’s perfect track record with our 5th success in a row,” said Gwynne Shotwell President of SpaceX.

After Dragon separated from Falcon 9’s 2nd stage approximately 9 minutes after launch, a minor issue with some of Dragon’s oxidizer tanks was detected. Within a few hours, SpaceX engineers had identified and corrected the issue, normalizing the oxidizer pressure and returning operations to normal. Dragon recomputed its ascent profile as it was designed to and is now on its way to the International Space Station (ISS) with possible arrival on Sunday, just one day past the original timeline. SEE PHOTO - - "NAS-2013-03 - FALCON 9 TO (ISS)."

Dragon is the only spacecraft in the world today capable of returning significant amounts of cargo to Earth. Dragon is traveling to the (ISS) with >2,300 pounds of cargo and packaging to ensure safe travel, and will return with >3,000 pounds. Dragon will stay on station for a 3-week visit, during which astronauts will unload cargo and supplies for the (ISS), including critical materials to support science investigations, then fill the capsule with a payload that includes research results, education experiments and space station hardware.

he Soyuz TMA-08M spacecraft, carrying new crew members to the International Space Station (ISS), docked with the station as scheduled on Friday, a spokesman for the Russian space agency Roscosmos said.

The Soyuz TMA-08M spacecraft, carrying new crew members to the International Space Station (ISS), docked with the station as scheduled, a spokesman for the Russian space agency Roscosmos said.

“The docking was held by command from Earth at the designated time, in automatic regime,” the source said. Normally, a trip from Earth to the (ISS) takes about 2 days. This trip, a Soyuz capsule docked with the orbiting laboratory after <6 hours of flight time, setting a record. Accelerating the trip wasn’t an issue of newer technology or more powerful engines, necessarily, but of better math and planning.

The Russian vehicle essentially took a shortcut that required precisely timed steering over the course of 4 orbits, putting 3 crew members on the space station at 10:28pm ET — just 5 hours and 45 minutes after takeoff from Kazakhstan.

The Soyuz crew comprises Russian cosmonauts Pavel Vinogradov, Alexander Misurkin and Christopher Cassidy of (NASA), who will join their colleagues Roman Romanenko of Russia, Chris Hadfield of Canada and Thomas Marshburn of the United States.

During their planned 168-day mission, the new (ISS) crew members will take part in docking and unloading 5 spacecraft: 4 Russian Progress space freighters and Europe’s ATV-4 supply craft. 4 spacewalks are also scheduled. They will also carry out 42 scientific experiments.

Vinogradov and Kotov have already taken 2 spaceflights. For Cassidy, this is the 2nd spaceflight in total, but the 1st 1 on board Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft.

May 2013: (NASA) Administrator, Charles Bolden defended his case for fully funding (NASA)'s budget request of $17.7 billion in fiscal year 2014 during congressional hearings.

(NASA) is funding major programs "at the lowest level that we believe we can deliver on time," says Bolden. He attributed some past schedule slips to funding shortages. For example, 1st flights of the commercial crew program to ferry astronauts and cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) have slipped from 2015 to 2018.

Crunched between the annual budget battles and a -10% cut imposed by sequestration, (NASA) is taking a hard look at what it cannot afford to do. Though it remaings the most well-funded space agency in the world, (NASA) is struggling to complete its 3 flagship projects (commercial crew, the space launch system (SLS) and James Webb space telescope (JWST)), while maintaining a plethora of smaller projects.

"We have made adjustments so it has not affected our programs or our people just yet," says Bolden. "But we cannot do that in 2014. If we do not come out from under [the] sequester for the Fiscal Year 2014 budget, we will start furloughing people when that budget becomes effective."

June 2013: China has launched the manned Shenzhou 10 spacecraft on a Long March 2F (CZ-2F) rocket from the Jiuquan launch site in China at 0938 GMT on June 11th. For its 5th manned spaceflight mission, 3 astronauts (taikonauts) flew into orbit on the Shenzhou 10 mission. Aboard the flight was Nie Haishang (Commander) and Zhang Xiaoguan, along with China's 2nd female astronaut, Wang Yaping. The mission is to dock with the mini-space station Tiangong 1 and crew it for a time. The crew is also expected to make a "fly around" of the space station as part of the mission.

November 2013: Mobile satellite communications specialist, Inmarsat has announced the 1st of its Global Xpress satellites (designated Inmarsat-5 F1) has traveled from California to the launch site in Kazakhstan. The Global Xpress network will power GX Aviation, the world’s 1st global Ka-band high-speed satellite network specifically designed for mobile assets, with jet airplanes a target market. “The imminent launch of the 1st satellite brings the introduction of GX Aviation much closer,” Inmarsat President Aviation Miranda Mills said. “We have our network of distribution partners in place and we know from our conversations with airlines and (VIP) operators, that there is strong demand for high bandwidth in-flight connectivity. The good news is they don’t have long to wait: the GX program is on track for introduction in 2015.”

According to Inmarsat, the 6,100 kg spacecraft departed from Los Angeles International Airport on November 9th aboard an Antonov AN-124 heavy transporter and is scheduled to arrive at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, approximately 2,100 km/1,300 miles SE of Moscow.

The spacecraft was constructed at Boeing (TBC)’s El Segundo facility in California and is the 1st of 3 Global Xpress satellites scheduled to be launched on behalf of Inmarsat by International Launch Services (ILS). Inmarsat-5 F1 is scheduled for launch in December by a Proton Breeze M launch vehicle.

The 2nd satellite is in the final stages of construction and testing. It is scheduled for launch in the 1st half of next year, with the 3rd being launched towards the end of 2014. (GX) Aviation is on schedule to be available for both commercial and (VIP) airplanes in 2015. In addition, Inmarsat has recently ordered a 4th I-5 satellite from Boeing (TBC).

See video on the reason NASA (NAS) never returned to the moon - -

January 2014: Thales Alenia Space has delivered its 3rd Pressurized Cargo Module (PCM) to Orbital Sciences Corporation (ORB) for integration in the Cygnus spacecraft that will transport cargo to the International Space Station (ISS).

The module was shipped from Thales Alenia Space’s plant in Turin, Italy to the (NASA) (NAS) launch facility on Wallops Island in Virginia, where Orbital will integrate it with the Service Module to form the Cygnus spacecraft that will carry out the 1st operational resupply mission.

Thales Alenia Space will provide Orbital with 6 more pressurized cargo modules, which will ferry crew supplies, spare parts and scientific experiments to the International Space Station. The company is providing a total of 9 units under the Commercial Resupply Service (COTS/CRS) contract awarded to Orbital by (NASA) (NAS).

The (PCM) unit delivered yesterday will be followed by 1 more unit in the standard configuration, capable of transporting up to 2,000 kg of cargo, and by 5 enhanced units, offering cargo capacity of up to 2,700 kg.

The CygnusTM spacecraft comprises a Service Module (SM) from Orbital, and the Pressurized Cargo Module (PCM) developed by Thales Alenia Space. Building on 30 years of experience in space infrastructures and transportation systems, the Cygnus (PCM) developed by Thales Alenia Space calls on the company’s skills and expertise developed through previous programs for the International Space Station, extended by at least 2024, such as the Multipurpose Logistics Module (MPLM), built by the company on behalf of the Italian space agency for (NASA) (NAS), and the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) Cargo Carrier, built by Thales Alenia Space for the European Space Agency (ESA). Thales Alenia Space supplies half of the International Space Station’s pressurized volume, as prime contractor for the Station’s Node 2, Node 3 and Cupola, and is a key player in the Columbus laboratory.

March 2014: See video "NASA SPACE - THE KAREN NYBERG STORY" - -#t=26

July 2014: NextGen software technology that will allow air traffic controllers to maximise the benefits of Performance Based Navigation (PBN) procedures on the approach to the runway is being transferred to the (FAA) from (NASA) (NAS) in an official ceremony at (FAA) headquarters.

Coupled with the precision of (PBN), the technology, called Terminal Sequence & Spacing, provides predictability, allowing controllers to safely reduce excess spacing between approaching airplanes, saving time and fuel while reducing emissions.

The technology uses time-based metering to improve the safety and efficiency of Area Navigation (RNAV) and Required Navigation Performance (RNP) approach procedures in terminal airspace.

The airport-centric Terminal Sequence & Spacing technology dovetails with an existing traffic metering tool that delivers efficiencies in the airspace beyond the airport. Time-Based Flow Management, which improves the flow of traffic through high altitude, en route airspace down to the four corner posts, navigational fixes in the sky approximately 40 miles from an airport. Terminal Sequence & Spacing helps controllers manage airplanes from the four corner posts down to the runway.

With the new technology, controllers see circles (called slot markers) on their display screens that indicate where an airplane should be in order to fly an (RNAV) or (RNP) route through the forecasted wind field, meet all speed and altitude restrictions and land on time. This software enables the use of (PBN) procedures to become more routine, requiring less vectoring, fewer level-offs of airplane and less communication between controllers and pilots (FC).

The (FAA), which received an initial technology transfer of Terminal Sequence & Spacing from (NASA) last September, is expected to make a full investment decision by the end of the year through its Joint Resources Council, a team of top agency executives that reviews major acquisitions and approves funding.

See video on Phoenix Probe to Mars - -

August 2014: Russian cosmonauts, Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev successfully concluded a spacewalk, where they conducted science experiments using equipment on the exterior of the International Space Station (ISS), over one hour ahead of schedule, Russia’s Federal Space Agency Roscosmos announced.

“The exit hatch [of the docking compartment Pirs] was closed on August 18, 2014 at 23:12 Moscow time [19:12 GMT]. Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev have carried out open space works for the 2nd time during the expedition. The extravehicular activity lasted approximately 5 hours and 10 minutes,” Roscosmos reported.

The spacewalk began at 18:02 Moscow time [14:02 GMT] and was planned to last 6 hours and 15 minutes.

The first task the cosmonauts undertook was the launch of the NS-1 nanosatellite. The 1.5 kg satellite, unofficially dubbed the Peruvian CubeSat Chasqui-1, will transmit photographs and telemetry back to Earth for further academic study by students from Radioscaf, an educational program.

As part of the spacewalk, Skvortsov and Artemyev mounted the Expose-R, an experimental unit, on the station’s hull. The unit will gather data on the long-term influence of exposure to outer space on the survival of bacteria, fungi, plants and animals.

Russian astronauts photographed the thermal shield of the outer surface of the Russian segment of the (ISS). They also isolated and retrieved a Biorisk experiment container, which analyzed how microbial growth affects materials in space.

According to (NASA) (NAS), this is the 181st spacewalk devoted to (ISS) assembly and maintenance since construction of the space outpost began in 1998; it is the 4th so far this year.

September 2014: (NASA) (NAS) agreed to pay Boeing (TBC) $4.2 billion and SpaceX (SPX) $2.6 billion to certify, test and fly their space capsules. The two contracts call for at least 2 and as many as 6 missions for a crew of 4 as well as supplies and scientific experiments, said (NASA)'s Kathy Lueders, Commercial Crew Program Manager. The space "taxis" will double as emergency lifeboats at the orbiting outpost.

The hope is that the commercial approach will spur a space-travel industry far larger than just (NASA). Boeing (TBC) for example, has announced a partnership to fly space tourists to the space station.

A cargo version of the spaceship being developed by privately owned Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) (SPX) is slated to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, the company’s second launch in 13 days. Quick turnarounds between flights are expected to become routine as SpaceX (SPX), as the California-based company is known, adds ferrying astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) to its fast-growing launch business.

“We are ramping up for that launch rate, and actually even more than that,” said Hans Koenigsmann SpaceX (SPX) VP Mission Assurance. “In the future, I anticipate that this will be the norm.”

SpaceX (SPX) won a $2.6 billion contract to design and fly Dragon passenger ships, with a test flight targeted for 2016. (NASA) (NAS) also awarded Boeing (TBC) a $4.2 billion contract to develop a 2nd space taxi.

The price difference is primarily the cost of the launcher. SpaceX (SPX)’s Falcon 9 rockets sell for about $61 million; Boeing (TBC) plans to buy Atlas 5 rockets, which cost about $150 million.

United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Boeing (TBC) and Lockheed Martin, manufactures and sells Atlas 5, which predominantly are used for USA military missions.

SpaceX (SPX), owned and operated by technology entrepreneur, Elon Musk, is gunning for that business as well. A lawsuit is pending in federal court contesting the US Air Force (USF)’s latest non-competed award to United Launch Alliance.

SpaceX (SPX) already flies cargo to the space station for (NASA) under a $1.6 billion contract and has a backlog of >35 commercial satellite and (NASA) station resupply missions.

Its 4th cargo run to the station is scheduled for launch at 2:15 am (0615 GMT). In addition to food, clothes and science gear for the station’s crew, the Dragon freighter carries an experimental 3-D printer, a science instrument to monitor winds over Earth’s oceans and 20 mice to be used in experiments. SEE ATTACHED - - "NAS-SPACEX LAUNCH - 2014-09" AND "NAS-2014-09 - SPACEX SUPPLIES."

Russia’s manned Soyuz TMA-14M spacecraft has successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS) after reports said it had failed to unfold 1 of the 2 stowed solar arrays, a spokesman of the Roscosmos Space Agency said.

A female Russian cosmonaut, Yelena Serova, was launched into Earth orbit overnight aboard Soyuz TMA-14M spacecraft, ending spaceflight’s 17-year male “hegemony” - - SEE ATTACHED - - "NAS-2014-09 - FEMALE RUSSIAN COSMONAUT."

The crew also includes another Russian cosmonaut, Alexander Samokutyayev, and (NASA) (NAS) astronaut, Barry Wilmore.

Soyuz TMA-14M’s flight to the International Space Station (ISS) atop the Soyuz-FG orbital carrier rocket has been the 123rd since 1967. The Soyuz is expected to remain on board the station as an emergency escape vehicle.

The rocket blasted off from a launching pad at the Gagarin Start launch site at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Yelena Serova is the 4th female cosmonaut from Russia to ever fly in space, the 1st being (USSR)’s Valentina Tereshkova, who made history in 1963 as the 1st woman ever to go into space on a sole flight. Tereshkova was followed by Svetlana Savitskaya, who circled the Earth orbit 2x- in 1982 and 1984. Yelena Kondakova was the 3rd to be put into orbit in 1994 and 1997.

A total of 57 women have flown to space so far. 4 of them (USA astronauts Judith Resnik, Laurel Blair Salton Clark, Kalpana Chawla and Christa McAuliffe) died during their missions, when the space shuttles they were manning, exploded in midair.

China has launched a new experimental satellite from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the bnorthwestern Gobi desert on Sunday, September 28th, state-run "Xinhua" news agency reported.

The Shijian-11-07 was boosted by the Long March 2C launch vehicle at 05:13 (UTC). This is the seventh in a series of satellites that (according to Chinese media) known as “experimental satellites.”

They are developed by China Spacesat Company under the China Aerospace Science & Technology Corporation. The Shijian series of satellites has been used for scientific research and experiments in space. The first Shijian-11 satellite was launched on November 12, 2009.

This launch was the 194th successful Chinese orbital launch and 193th launch of the Long March rocket series.

October 2014: On Tuesday, October 28, an Antares rocket produced by Orbital Sciences exploded seconds after liftoff in Virginia, while on a (NASA)-contracted supply mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

November 2014: Intended to effortlessly spin on-orbit at nearly 15 revolutions per minute collecting data, Northrop Grumman (GRU)’s (NYSE: NOC) lightweight mesh reflector has been successfully installed on (NASA) (NAS)’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) spacecraft and delivered to Vandenberg Air Force Base in preparation for launch in January 2015.

The (SMAP) mission will provide global measurements of soil moisture and indicate whether it is frozen or thawed. The data will be used to understand the processes that link Earth’s water, energy and carbon cycles and improve weather and climate prediction models. (SMAP)’s freeze and thaw data will be used to detect changes in growing season length to help scientists better understand how much carbon plants absorb from the atmosphere each year. (SMAP) data will also be used to improve flood prediction and drought monitoring capabilities.

As the satellite orbits Earth, the mesh reflector, which deploys and expands to a 19-foot aperture, will provide a conically scanning antenna beam of approximately 40 degrees or a swath of 621 miles for total global mapping every 2 - 3 days.

In spite of the complexities of the mission, the (SMAP) reflector weighs only 56 pounds. The extremely stiff boom, which deploys the reflector into position and reduces deflections caused by the spin rate, weighs 55 pounds. With the remaining launch restraint equipment weighing approximately 14 pounds, the entire system totals a mere 125 pounds.

“Ultralightweight technology is critical to meet the demanding requirements of this mission,” said Geoff Marks Chief Technologist at Astro Aerospace, a strategic business unit of Northrop Grumman (GRU), which developed the assembly. “The reflector is based on AstroMesh® technology, which is lighter, stiffer and inherently more accurate than competing technologies. These characteristics and innate surface accuracy makes it an ideal choice for high frequency communication and radar applications.”

The (SMAP) observatory is scheduled to be launched in January 2015 into a 426-mile near-polar, sun-synchronous orbit, with equator crossings at 6 am and 6 pm. It will provide data over a 3-year period.

Since 1958, Astro Aerospace ( has helped enable complex missions to Earth orbit, Mars and beyond with its innovative deployable space structures and mechanisms. The business unit’s products have been successfully deployed on >150 space flights with a 100% success rate, a testament to Northrop Grumman (GRU)’s commitment to reliability, quality and affordability.

December 2014: (NASA) (NAS)’s new Orion spacecraft lifted off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral and rocketed to orbit the morning of December 5th (the 1st test flight for a program that (NASA) hopes eventually will get astronauts to asteroids and Mars).

The Delta IV-Heavy rocket roared off the pad at Cape Canaveral at 07:05 local time/12:05 GMT.

The unmanned spacecraft will circle the Earth 2x- during a 4-and-a-half hour flight and reach an altitude of 3,600 miles before re-entering Earth’s atmosphere and falling into the Pacific Ocean. It’s target drop zone is about 600 miles SW of San Diego, California.

A microchip carrying the names of > a million people is on board the spacecraft along with other souvenirs from Earth, including coins, flags, a Sesame Street muppet, a Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil, an oxygen hose from an Apollo 11 spacesuit and a sample of lunar soil.

Orion’s next test flight is scheduled for 2018 and the 1st crewed flight will not take place before 2021. The earliest Orion could go to Mars is in the 2030s, according to (NASA).

See video "ORION TRIAL BY FIRE" - -


January 2015: News Item A-1: A SpaceX (SPX) Dragon commercial resupply capsule carried out an early rendezvous with the International Space Station (ISS) Monday, January 12th, delivering just >5,100 pounds of crew supplies and scientific research equipment to the orbiting science laboratory's 6 astronauts.

(ISS) Commander Barry "Butch" Wilmore, positioned at the controls of the station's 57 foot-long Canadian robot arm in the USA segment Cupola observation deck, reached out to grapple the space freighter at 5:54 am, (EST), about 18 minutes ahead of schedule. “We are pretty thrilled up here,” said Wilmore, who was assisted in the grapple of the 14 foot-long gleaming white capsule by European Space Station, Samantha Cristoforetti. “We are excited to have it on board. We will be digging in soon.”

“Good luck, Butch,” (NASA)’s Mission Control told Wilmore as ground controllers determined the capsule was steady and correctly positioned within 35 feet of the (ISS). “We are counting on you.”

The delivery marked the 5th for Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX (SPX) under a $1.6 billion, 12-flight Commercial Resupply Services agreement with (NASA) (NAS). The unpiloted Dragon was launched early Saturday atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, and carried out a series of automated rendezvous maneuvers without difficulty.

The mission marks the 1st cargo delivery by a USA commercial launch services provider since the October 28 loss of the Orbital Sciences 3rd Cygnus re-supply craft, loaded with 4,800 pounds of food, research equipment and other hardware. The Cygnus launch vehicle was lost in a 1st stage explosion moments after lifting off from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Wallops, Virginia.

After the successful grapple of Dragon by Wilmore and Cristoferretti, operations of the robot arm were turned over to (NASA)'s Mission Control. Ground controllers were to command the robot arm to latch Dragon to the station's Harmony module shortly after 8 am, (EST).

Hatches to the spacecraft were to be opened early Tuesday, though Wilmore, Cristoforetti and (NASA) Astronaut Terry Virts could access the capsule later Tuesday.

The deliveries include (NASA)'s Cloud Aerosol Transport System, a lidar sensor developed to study clouds and aerosols, including pollutants in the Earth's atmosphere, from the station's 260 mile-high vantage point. The (CATS) observatory is slated for extraction from Dragon's unpressurized trunk early Friday, using a combination of the station's Canadian and Japanese robot arms. (CATS) is to be installed outside the station's Japanese Kibo research module using the robotic limbs.

The fifth Dragon is scheduled to remain berthed to the station until February 10, when it will undock with a 2,900 pound return cargo, comprised primarily of research experiments and no longer needed equipment. SpaceX (SPX) is tasked with recovering the capsule and its science bounty after a splashdown under parachute in the Pacific Ocean southwest of Santa Barbara, California.

News Item A-2: January 21 news: "SpaceX, OneWeb Unveil Rival Broadband Constellation Plans" by Amy Svitak, "Aviation Week & Space Technology" Publication.

In the span of 1 week, 2 space start-ups that have made good on far-fetched promises, unveiled plans to develop competing global satellite Internet systems. Whether there is room for 2 such multibillion-dollar constellations is unclear, but the announcements by Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) (SPX) Founder Elon Musk and OneWeb Ltd (a company financed by the Virgin Group (VAA), chip-maker Qualcomm, and (O3b) Networks Founder Greg Wyler) are backed by people who have demonstrated the ability to attract both capital and engineering talent.

On the one hand is Musk, who announced plans earlier this month to build a spacecraft production plant in Seattle, an effort to transform satellite manufacturing in much the same way he has done for the space-launch business. Less than a week later, SpaceX (SPX) announced a $1-billion round of financing with 2 new investors, Google and Fidelity, which will collectively own just <10% of the company.

In a January 20 statement, SpaceX (SPX) said the money would pay for continued innovation in space transport, reusability, and satellite manufacturing. “In order for us to really revolutionize space, we have to address both satellites and rockets,” Musk said on January 16 during a Seattle event, where he unveiled his plans. “We’re going to start by building our own constellation of satellites, but that same satellite business and the technology we develop, can also be used for Earth science and space science, as well as other potential applications that others may have.”

Musk said the satellite plant would start small (about 60 people) and that engineers could move between SpaceX (SPX)’s core business of rocket manufacturing in Hawthorne, California, and the new satellite venture in Seattle. He said the project would take 12 to 15 years to complete and cost $10 to 15 billion to build.

He also said the new company would not be drawing from the Puget Sound’s established space propulsion community to supply the vehicles.
“We’re going to build our own propulsion unit,” he said, adding that the constellation of 4,000 broadband satellites, weighing a few hundred kilograms each and orbiting at 1,100-km/683-mi altitude will be powered using all-electric Hall- effect thrusters, a technology, he says is relatively easy.

In the meantime, OneWeb, formerly WorldVu Satellites based in Britain’s Channel Islands, has announced plans for a start-up satellite broadband venture. Unveiled January 15, the new company is to be led by Wyler, who founded (O3b) Networks, a constellation of 12 Ka-band broadband satellites, that provides Internet trunking to telecom companies, plus corporate and government customers globally in a band around the equator.

Wyler, who is no longer directly affiliated with (O3b) operations, has said the amount of overlap between OneWeb and (O3b) is minimal, given the latter’s focus on large telecom companies. He says the OneWeb satellite system would introduce the first-ever telecom-class micro satellites with a fleet of 648 spacecraft providing low-latency, high-speed Internet access to small-user terminals deployed around the world.

OneWeb plans to work with local operator partners to provide this access, though it is unclear what kind of terminals will be used, or how much they will cost.

Wyler also said OneWeb’s 1st satellite launch vehicle would be Virgin Galactic (VGC)’s LauncherOne.

Both announcements prompted comparisons with past Internet satellite ventures that flopped, notably Teledesic and Skybridge, 2 well-financed startups with plans for global constellations of low-orbiting satellites that could deliver high-speed Internet to corporate and individual customers. Both companies spent substantial resources to obtain regulatory licensing with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), which coordinates orbital frequencies in an effort to avoid radio interference among spacecraft. But neither constellation was ever developed, owing largely to technical issues.

Despite such comparisons, some industry observers are optimistic that these technical setbacks could be overcome today.

“10 or 15 years ago, we had similar business models appear, all of which collapsed,” says Francois Auque, head of the space division at Airbus Defense & Space here. “But today, we appear to be in a new phase, with more technical and financial capabilities being brought to bear on these new projects.”

Still, Musk’s presentation, which was posted on, left a number of technical questions unanswered.

For example, while OneWeb already has Ku-band slots filed with the (ITU) that Wyler obtained through WorldVu, it is unclear whether Musk will have access to frequency slots in low Earth orbit.

“There’s the (ITU) filings, and we’ve done the filings associated with that,” Musk said during his talk. He was also vague regarding the ground system for his constellation, and whether he could make high-throughput ground terminals for low-Earth-orbiting satellites affordable for individuals.

“The user terminals will be at least $100 to $300, depending on which type of terminal,” he said, without explaining the challenge of developing antennas designed to track multiple satellites passing overhead.

Musk has long said his ultimate goal is to establish a permanent colony on Mars, and that his satellite venture could support this in multiple ways. 1st, he said, because satellites provide a better means to generate revenue than launchers, but also because Mars will need communications, too.

“A lot of what we do in developing an Earth-based communication system could be leveraged for Mars as well, crazy as that may sound,” Musk said.

February 2015: News Item A-1: A century after creation of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), - - can (NASA) (NAS) hope to match its storied legacy? February 5, 2015 by Graham Warwick, Aviation Week & Space Technology.

Any discussion of (NASA)’s aeronautics research cannot avoid confronting the defining fact: its level of funding. The $571 million sought for aeronautics in 2016 is barely 3% of (NASA)’s total $18.5 billion budget request, and minuscule next to the $72 billion in 2014 sales by the USA civil airplane industry it is supposed to support.

Congress gave (NASA) another $100 million for aeronautics in 2015, for a total of $651 million, but it is just for 1 year and hardly moves the percentage needle. (NASA)’s aeronautics funding is what it is, it seems, so the challenge for its aviation research leadership has been to make the most of what the administration and lawmakers are prepared to provide.

That has involved defining a new strategic vision with 6 research thrusts addressing future challenges to civil aviation and aligning programs with those thrusts, from low-carbon propulsion to assured autonomy. With the 2015 budget released in January and the 2016 request “we will start doing the work in earnest,” said Jaiwon Shin, Associate Administrator for Aeronautics.

Foreseeing growing global demand for mobility, challenges for energy efficiency and environmental sustainability, along with the impact of technologies from other industries, the strategy breaks no new ground, but marks a departure for (NASA). “We can no longer do research and hope someone will do something with it,” said Shin. “We must be relevant and have a clear goal that we work to grow the USA economy.”

By articulating a strategic vision and establishing the research thrusts, Shin’s team intends that (NASA) over time will more narrowly focus its aeronautics research and move away from spreading its limited funding too thinly over too broad a portfolio (a “peanut butter” approach much criticized by industry).

“We have a clear set of goals to streamline against. That’s why we have the strategy. It’s not revolutionary, but it says these are the goals we want to focus on and we start from there,” he said. “Next we put the processes in place to begin streamlining. And that is hard, because we have a lot of activity associated with our workforce.”

Unlike the USA Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which works through industry and academia and can simply cancel programs, (NASA) cannot easily exit areas of research and lay off government researchers. Instead, it must refocus them on the new goals. “We have to be patient and have a long view,” said Shin.

To that end, (NASA) aeronautics has established three mission programs “designed to select and focus the research so we can deliver.” These are the restructured Aviation Operations & Safety, Advanced Air Vehicles & Integrated Aviation Systems programs, focused on “bread-and-butter” research, developing air traffic management tools and airplane technologies for the near- to mid-term.

“But if we have only these mission programs, we would be so brittle. Over the next five years we would produce some amazing stuff, then the light bulbs would go out,” said Shin. Therefore, key to the strategy is the new Transformative Aeronautics Concepts (TAC) program, which he describes as “our engine for innovation” and a way to “breed an agile, flexible culture” within (NASA) aeronautics.

This is a tall order for (TAC), set up to rekindle (NASA)’s X-plane culture by funding 18 to 24-month feasibility demonstrations of advanced concepts that could progress to further development within the mission programs. The 1st demos will involve low-cost towed airplanes, autonomous electric vertical-lift and distributed electric propulsion.

1 reason for Shin’s optimism is the pending, as-planned completion of the Environmentally Responsible Aviation (ERA) project, the 1st 6-year program he can remember that finished without changes in scope forced by gyrations in funding. “We have stayed the course. Funding was stable, and it got to do what it was set up to do. (ERA) will deliver a lot of compelling technology to industry.”

Collaboration and being tightly connected to the customers for its technology are central to the strategy. “(ERA) did a lot of cost sharing with industry. If we had to change scope, they would not want to be part of it,” Shin said. “(ERA) is a good precedent, allowing industry to see (NASA) as a reliable partner.”

While an extra $20 million or $100 million is painfully small next to what (NASA) spends on space, Shin views it as an endorsement of the aeronautics strategy. “We’re back on the right track. We have the rationale, program content, commitment and workforce. Now we have to make tangible, compelling progress.”

He hopes that ultimately 2015 - 2016 will be viewed as the dawn of a new era in aviation, where autonomy, electric propulsion and the Internet of Things will combine with traditional aviation technologies. “This is the 100th anniversary of (NASA). I believe we are opening up another 100 years.”

News Item A-2: SpaceX (SPX) launched an observatory, nicknamed "Dscovr" toward a solar-storm lookout point a million miles away on February 11th (see attached - - "NAS-2015-02 - SPX FALCON 9 LAUNCH"). The unmanned Falcon 9 rocket blasted off on the 3rd try in 4 days, successfully hoisting the spacecraft for the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration & Air Force (NASA) - (NAS). Besides watching for solar outbursts, the observatory will will provide continuous pictures of the full, unlit side of our Earth planet. Although the launch was smooth, rough seas forced SpaceX (SPX) to cancel its effort to land the leftover booster on an ocean platform floating 370 miles off the Florida coast (in the "Bermuda triangle?").

News Item A-3: Spacewalking (NASA) astronauts Barry "Butch" Wilmore and Terry Virts initiated the installation of the 1st of 2 planned International Space Station docking ports for future USA commercial crew transportation vehicles by extending external power, data and thermal control cabling along the orbiting science lab's Harmony and Destiny laboratory modules.

The near 7 hour excursion unfolded without difficulties from either of the fan pump separators in the 2 space suits, a safety concern that emerged in December and January and persisted up to the start of Saturday's spacewalk. Virts experienced a slight buildup of carbon dioxide in his suit from all of the exertion.

The 2 men started 30 minutes late but surged ahead of schedule, accomplishing some of the work assigned to the second in a series of three excursions over the next nine days.

The fan pump separators are part of the space suit life support system that circulates air and cooling water. The devices originally assigned to this excursion failed to spin up during late 2014/early 2015 checkouts inside the station's airlock.

The steady performance of the fan pump separators was a welcome development.

(NASA) plans a 2nd and 3rd spacewalk by the two men on February 25th and March 1 to complete the power, data and thermal control cable task. They also intend 2 antenna installations and communications cable extensions before Wilmore's scheduled return to Earth. He departs late March 11 with 2 Russian cosmonauts to conclude 167 days aboard the orbiting science lab.

The primary work site for Saturday's outing was the 16-year-old Pressurized Mating Adapter-2 on the forward end of Harmony, which served as the docking port for (NASA)'s space shuttle fleet until the winged orbiters were retired in mid-2011. Wilmore, the station's current commander, and Virts made 5 power, data and thermal control connections under two orbital debris shields on either side of (PMA)-2 and 3 additional cable connections, including 2 linkups that were originally scheduled for the 2nd spacewalk.

"I worked up a lather on that one," quipped Wilmore as he marched through the 1st set of (PMA)-2 cable connections. "You guys have done just a superb job,” Mission Control told the 2 men as they entered the home stretch of their activities.

In all, Wilmore and Virts are to install 10 cables totaling 364 feet over the first two spacewalks to prepare (PMA)-2 for outfitting with the 1st of new (NASA) and Boeing developed International Docking Adapters. The (IDA)s will serve as the actual mechanical links between the station and future commercial crew vehicles operated by Boeing (tbc) and SpaceX (spx) under (NASA) contracts.

This spacewalk drew to a close at 2:26 pm, EST.

(NASA)'s goal is to achieve the 1st commercial crew vehicle docking with astronauts by the end of 2017.

SpaceX (SPX) is to deliver the first of the (IDA)s aboard the company's 7th commercial re-supply mission in June. The initial (IDA) would be installed on (PMA)-2 during a (NASA) spacewalk currently planned for July.

This year, (NASA) also plans to move the identical (PMA)-3 from the station's Tranquility module to the space facing circumference of Harmony. A 2nd (IDA) is manifested for delivery aboard another SpaceX (SPX) resupply mission planned for late this year.

During this latest spacewalk, Wilmore and Virts are to complete the (PMA)-2 cabling and lubricate the grappling mechanism on the station's Canadian-furnished robot arm. The 58-foot-long mechanical limb will be used to relocate (PMA)-3, as well as move the station's Leonardo Permanent Multipurpose Module from the Earth facing side of the station's Unity module to the forward end of Tranquility. That move will ensure sufficient clearances for a pair of commercial cargo berthing ports as well as the 2 commercial crew parking spots.

During the March 1 spacewalk, Wilmore and Virts are to install 2 communications antennas and string another 400 feet of cabling along the station's port and starboard solar power trusses to support the transmission of navigational data for automated commercial crew rendezvous and dockings.

The source of the balky space suit fan pump separator issue that surfaced in December and January was traced to a corrosion buildup on internal bearings. The corrosion was blamed on water intrusion. Those initial suspicions were confirmed after the 2 fan pump separators that failed to activate were removed from the space suits and returned to Earth earlier this month aboard the 5th SpaceX (SPX) Dragon resupply mission. The devices were turned over to United Technologies Corporation, the space suit contractor, for evaluation.

The fan pump separators have been activated between spacewalks at an accelerated pace during check outs of cooling system water quality, which has increased the opportunity for exposure of the bearings to water, according to (NASA).

The unwanted presence of silica particles in the cooling water was blamed for a July 2013 incident in which water flowed into the space suit helmet worn by European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano. Parmitano retreated to the airlock as water invaded an airflow vent, massing around his eyes, nose and ears. Engineers found small water ports in the pump blocked by silica particles that migrated from water filters. The blockage diverted cooling water into the helmet air flow vent.

The USA chaired (ISS) mission management team cleared this latest spacewalk after determining any corrosion in the fan pump separators in suits worn by Wilmore and Virts was minimal.

However, (NASA)'s Mission Control refined the governing rules for the excursion by stipulating that work would be halted without further troubleshooting if there were signs of problems with the air and water circulation devices.

In the meantime, (NASA) has also changed its space suit cooling water quality checkouts to include additional air flow over the bearings as a dry out measure.



See video "Nimoy's Moving Final Message" - -

The following is a statement from (NASA) Administrator, Charles Bolden on the passing of Leonard Nimoy:

"Leonard Nimoy was an inspiration to multiple generations of engineers, scientists, astronauts, and other space explorers. As Mr Spock, he made science and technology important to the story, while never failing to show, by example, that it is the people around us who matter most.

"(NASA) was fortunate to have him as a friend and a colleague. He was much more than the Science Officer for the (USS) Enterprise. Leonard was a talented actor, director, philanthropist, and a gracious man dedicated to art in many forms.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and the legions of Star Trek fans around the world."

April 2015: News Item A-1: With the goal of sending a manned mission to Mars in the 2030s growing near, Expedition 43 sends 2 men to the International Space Station (ISS) for a year to test the physical and psychological impact of deep-space travel.

As 1 chapter ends, another begins. Here, the Soyuz TMA-14M spacecraft lands, returning Expedition 42 Commander, Barry “Butch” Wilmore of (NASA), and Alexander Samokutyaev with Elena Serova of Roscosmos to Earth. The trio spent nearly 6 months aboard the (ISS), about half the time, that (NASA)’s Scott Kelly and Cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko, who arrived there March 27, will stay in space.

The Soyuz launch vehicle and Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft are assembled at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. In March 2016, Kelly and Kornienko will travel back to Earth on a Soyuz TMA-18M.

SEE ATTACHED PHOTO - - "NAS-2015-04 - EXPEDITION 43 CREW" shows the crew of Expedition 43 preparing to board the Soyuz TMA-16M to travel to the (ISS). They include Roscosmos’s Kornienko, top, (NASA) astronaut Kelly, center, and Gennady Padalka of Roscosmos. Physical and psychological concerns, that could arise with prolonged weightlessness, will be studied during the yearlong journey of Kornienko and Kelly. Standard missions to the (ISS) last 5 - 6 months.

SEE ATTACHED PHOTOS - - "NAS-2015-03 - MARCH 27 LAUNCH-A/B/C.jpg of Expedition 43 astronauts into space. The Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft takes off, beginning Kelly and Kornienko’s mission. Padalka will stay for 6 months though by June, he will break the record for the most time spent in space, currently held by Cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev.

SEE ATTACHED PHOTO - - "NAS-2015-04 - ONE YEAR SPACE MISSION.jpg" shows in the Zvezda service module, Kelly, Padalka and Kornienko (front row, left to right) join the rest of the (ISS) crew (back row from left), Samantha Cristoforetti, Anton Shkaplerov and Terry Virts. This historic mission begins to explore how well humans will fare on longer deep-space missions.

News Item A-2: See attached "NAS-2015-04 - Unmanned Soyuz Rocket Scuttled."

News Item A-3: "Blue Origin Plans to Start Suborbital Flight Test This Year" by Frank Morring, Jr, Aerospace Daily & Defense Report, April 7th, 2015.

Blue Origin has completed acceptance flight tests of its cryogenic (BE-3) deep-throttle engine, and plans to begin autonomous flight tests with the reusable New Shepard suborbital human spacecraft it will power later this year - - SEE PHOTO - - "NAS-2015-04 - BLUE ORIGIN BE-3.jpg."

Rob Meyerson, President of the secretive company, bankrolled by founder, Jeff Bezos, said April 7 “we’re probably a few years away from selling tickets” on "New Shepard," but the completion of acceptance testing was a big hurdle to clear.

The 110,000 lb thrust engine can be throttled down to 20,000 lb thrust for a vertical landing, Meyerson said. New Shepard testing at the company’s facility in West Texas will begin in autonomous mode, with the Blue Origin crew eventually occupying the vehicle’s 3 seats for the initial push to 100 km (the traditional altitude where space is said to begin).

Ultimately, paying passengers will fly from the Blue Origin site in Van Horn, Texas, either for tourism or research. The vehicle’s booster will lift them to the suborbital altitude, before flying back to a tail-down landing at the launch site. The crew capsule will return to the same facility via parachute, after providing about 4 minutes of microgravity to its passengers and experimental payloads, Meyerson said, declining to announce a price for the service.

Flight testing New Shepard also will allow the company to build time on the (BE-3), a liquid-oxygen, liquid-hydrogen engine, the company plans to upgrade as a commercial product designated (BE-3U) for upper stage use. That will require a larger nozzle and other changes.

“To make the (BE-3) into a (BE-3U), the simplest change could be a large expansion ratio nozzle, which is designed to operate at altitude,” Meyerson said. “But there will be other changes we’ll make as we fly the (BE-3) in our suborbital flights. We could theoretically, with our plans have dozens if not hundreds of flights with the New Shepard vehicle with the (BE-3), before we fly an upper stage (BE-3U). So we could do performance improvements if our customer base needs that.”

That base could include United Launch Alliance, which already has said it will buy Blue Origin’s (BE-4) hydrocarbon-fuel main-stage rocket engine for its next-generation launcher. That engine is in testing at the component level (the power pack and a subscale injector) and is on schedule as a rapid follow-on to the Russian-built RD-180 engine, with full-scale testing set to begin next year, according to Meyerson.

“The (BE-4) is a 1st-of-its-kind engine to be developed in the USA). It uses liquefied natural gas to produce 550,000 pounds of thrust,” Meyerson said. “The (BE-4) offers the lowest cost and is the fastest path to production for an American-made engine. The engine is >3 years into development, and we’re now on track to conduct full engine testing in 2016 and complete development of the engine by 2017, 2 to 3 years ahead of any other alternative engine that’s out there.”

News Item A-4: (NASA) (NAS) has established a public-private partnership with 5 organizations, including the (FAA), to advance research and certification of composite materials that could improve the performance of future airplanes.


Those Scaled Composites guys are at it again. Having a billionaire paying for it helps a lot.

Imagine the 320-foot span Spruce Goose. Then picture an aircraft larger than that.

An aircraft, backed by Seattle's Paul Allen, is expected to have a 385-foot wing span and will be used deliver satellites to space. It is reportedly being called "Roc."

"This thing is absolutely huge," Senior Editor, Guy Norris told The Dori Monson Show.

The "Roc" is being assembled in Mojave, California for Stratolaunch System's space launch program. It is being built by Scaled Composites. Powered by 6 Boeing 747-400 engines, along with other parts salvaged from 2 747s, the twin-fuselage carrier aircraft closely resembles the WhiteKnightTwo.

Once complete, the Roc will be mostly wing, according to Norris. Basically, its sole purpose is to fly to a high enough altitude to deliver satellites.

Norris said when the Roc is in space it will fire rockets to deliver satellites. The Roc will reportedly have a crew of 3: a pilot, co-pilot and engineer. "To be quite honest with you, it has been quite a secret up until now," he said.

Norris said the most difficult aspect of launching an aircraft into space is escaping earth's gravity (just that 1st few miles into the air). That's why the Roc will be mostly wing and engine.

The rocket used to launch a satellite is going to be named "Thunderbolt" after one of Paul Allen's childhood toys. It will weigh >500,000 pounds and be 130-feet long, Norris told Dori. Combined with everything on it, the Roc will weigh about 1.3 million pounds.

But why did a project like this draw Paul Allen's attention, Dori wondered.

"I imagine it is the uniqueness of it," Norris responded. The Roc is scheduled to fly sometime in 2016. "It's going to be as big as you can imagine," Norris said.

May 2015: News Item A-1: " Lockheed Martin Completes Assembly of (NASA) (NAS)’s InSight Mars Lander", May 28, 2015.

Lockheed Martin has assembled (NASA) (NAS)'s InSight Mars spacecraft, which is now undergoing environmental testing at the company's Space Systems facilities near Denver, Colorado. InSight is (NASA)'s next mission to Mars and will be the first mission devoted to understanding the interior structure of the planet.

InSight will endure the extreme vibration and noise of launch, a long journey through the vacuum and cold of deep space and the gauntlet of entry through the Martian atmosphere before bringing operations on the surface. Because of the extreme environments the spacecraft will encounter during the mission, the lander will undergo a variety of rigorous tests that will ensure it can survive the journey.

During the environmental testing phase, the lander will be exposed to extreme temperatures, vacuum and a litany of other tests through the end of the year. The 1st of these tests will be a thermal vacuum test in the spacecraft's "cruise" configuration used during its seven month journey to Mars.

InSight will then be subjected to a barrage of tests, including reverberant acoustic, separation and deployment shock, and electromagnetic interference and compatibility testing. The testing phase concludes with a second thermal vacuum test where the spacecraft is exposed to the temperatures and atmospheric pressures it will experience as it operates on the surface of Mars.

"The assembly of InSight went very well, and it's now time to see how it performs," said Stu Spath, InSight Program Manager at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, "The environmental testing regimen is designed to wring out any issues with the spacecraft so we can resolve them while it's here on Earth. This phase takes nearly asd long as asssembly, but we want to make sure we deliver a vehicle to (NASA) that will perform as expected in extreme environments."

Scheduled to launch in March 2016 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, InSight is a robotic exploration mission that will record measurements of the interior of the Red Planet giving scientists unprecedented detail into the evolution of Mars and other terrestial planets. The InSight mission will address one of the most fundamental issues of planetary and solar system science; understanding the processes that shaped the rocky planets of the inner solar system (including earth) >4 billion years ago. "It's great to see the spacecraft put together in its launch configuration," said InSight Project Manager Tom Hoffman at (NASA)'s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). "Many teams from across the globe have worked long hours to get their elements of the system delivered for these tests. There still remains much work to do before we are ready for launch, but it is fantastic to get to this critical milestone."

The InSight mission is led by Bruce Benerdt of (JPL). The science team includes US and international co-investifators from universities, industry and government agencies. The French space agency (CNES) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) are also each contributing a science instrument to the two-year scientific mission. InSight's international science team combines researchers from Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, the UK and the USA. (JPL) a division of the California Institute of Technology, manages InSight for (NASA)'s Science Mission Directorate. See attached photo - - "NAS-2015-05 - Next Mission to Mars" showing the start of critical environmental testing.

News Item A-2: "Boeing Awarded First Commercial Human Spaceflight Mission" by Rob Vogelaar, May 28, 2015.

Houston, Texas: (NASA) issued a tasl order as part of Boeing ('s $4.2 billion Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contract recently to include the company's first-ever service flight to the International Space Station (ISS).

"This occasion will go in the books of Boeing (TBC)'s nearly 100 years of aerospace and >50 years of space flight history," said John Elbon VP & General Manager of Boeing's Space Exploration division. "We look forward to ushering in a new era in Human space exploration."

Boeing (TBC) was selected in September 2014 to build and fly the USA's next passenger spacecraft, the Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100. The Commercial Crew Transportation System (CCTS) is being developed in partnership with (NASA)'s Commercial Crew Program which aims to resume USA-based flights to space by 2017.

As part of the tCap contract with (NASA), Boeing (TBC) is guaranteed at least 2 and potentially 6 service flights after completing human certification.

(TBC) has successfully demonstrated to (NASA) that the Commercial Crew Transportation System has reached design maturity appropriate to proceed tto assembly, integration and test activities. "We're on track to fly in 2017, and this critical milestone moves us another step closer in fully maturing the CST-100 design," said John Mulholland, VP Commercial Programs. "Our integrated and measured approach to spacecraft design ensures quality performance, technical excellence and early risk mitigation."

The CST-100 can transport up to 7 passengers or a mix of crew and cargo to low-Earth orbit destinations like the (ISS) and the Bigelow planned station.

See attached "NAS-2015-05 - Post Certification Mission.jpg."

June 2015: News Item A-1: (NASA) (NAS) may delay awarding the next round of space-cargo delivery contracts pending an investigation into what caused the latest SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket to explode after takeoff, the 2nd failure in the USA program in less than a year

See attached "Seattle Times" article - "NAS-2015-06 - SpaceX Falcon 9 Fails-A/B.jpg."

News Item A-2: (NASA)'s "New Horizons" spacecraft is getting a final "all clear" as it speeds closer to its historic July 14 flyby of Pluto and the dwarf planet's 5 moons.

After seven weeks of detailed searches for dust clouds, rings, and other potential hazards, the New Horizons team has decided the spacecraft will remain on its original path through the Pluto system instead of making a late course correction to detour around any hazards, Because "New Horizons" is traveling at 38,000 mph/49,600 kph, a particle as small as a grain of rice could be lethal.

We're breathing a collective sigh of relief knowing that the way appears to be clear," said Jim Green, Director of Planetary Science at (NASA). "The science payoff will be richer as we gather data from the optimal flight path, as opposed to having to conduct observations from one of the back-up trajectories."

Mission scientists have been using the spacecraft's most powerful telescopic camera, the Long Range Reconnaisance Imager (LORRI). to look for potential hazards, such as small moons, rings, or dust, since mid-May. The decision on whether to keep the spacecraft on its original course or adopt a Safe Haven by Other Trajectory (SHBOT) path, had to be made this week since the last opportunity to maneuver "New Horizons" onto an alternate trajectory is July 4th.

"Not finding moons or rings present is a bit of a scientific surprise for most of us," said Principle Investigator Alan Stein of the SW Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado. "But as aresult, no engine burn is needed to steer clear of potential hazards. We presented these data to (NASA) for review, and received approval to proceed on course and plan. We are "go" for the best of our planned Pluto encounter trajectories."

"New Horizons" formed a hazard analysis team in 2011, after the discovery of Pluto's fourth moon Kerebos raised concerns the catering of these moons by small debris from the outer area of the solar system known as the Kuiper Belt, could spread additional debris into "New Horizon's path. Mission engineers re-tested spare spacecraft blanketing and parts back on Earth to determine how well they would stand up to particle impacts, and scientists modeled the likely formation and locations of rings and debris in the Pluto system. By the time "New Horizons' cameras were close enough to Pluto to start the search last month, the team had already estimated the chances of a catastrophic incident as far less than <1%.

The images used in the latest searches that cleared the mission to stay on its current course were taken June 22, 23, and 26. Pluto and all 5 of its known moons are visible in the images, but the scientists saw no rings, new moons, nor hazards of any kind. The hazards team determined the satellites as faint as about 15 times dimmer than Pluto's faintest known moon, Styx, would have been seen if they existed beyond the orbit of Pluto's largest and closest moon, Charon.

If any rings do exist, the hazard team determined they must be extremely faint, reflecting less than one 5-millionth of the incoming sunlight.

"The suspense (at least most of it) is behind us," said John Spencer of (SwRI), who leads the "New Horizons" hazard analysis team. "As a scientist, I'm a bit disappointed that we didn't spot additional moons to study, but as a "New Horizons" team member, I am much more relieved that we didn't find something that could harm the spacecraft, "New Horizons" already has six amazing objects to analyze in this incredible system."

The John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, designed, built, and operates the "New Horizons" spacecraft, and manages the mission for (NASA)'s Space Mission Directorate. The Southwest Research Institute, based in San Antonio, leads the science team, payload operations and encounter science planning. "New Horizons" is part of the "New Frontiers Program" managed by (NASA)'s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

For more information on the "New Horizons" mission, including fact sheets, schedules, video and images, visit:

Later (July 15), the call everyone was waiting for was received. (NASA)’s New Horizons spacecraft phoned home just before 9 pm (EDT) July 14 to tell the mission team and the world it had accomplished the historic 1st-ever flyby of Pluto. “I know today we’ve inspired a whole new generation of explorers with this great success."

July 2015: News Item A-1: "Earth-like Planet Discovered Using NASA's Kepler Space Telescope" by Marcel van Leeuwen, Reuters, July 23, 2015.

Scientists using (NASA)'s powerful Kepler telescope have found a planet beyond the solar system that is a close match to Earth.

The planet, which is about 60% bigger than Earth, is located about 1,400 light years away in the constellation Cygnus. While similarly sized planets have been found before, the latest 1, known as Kepler-452b, is a circling star that is very similar but older than the sun at a distance about the same as Earth's orbit.

"It's great progress in finding a planet like Earth that is similar in size and temperature around a sun-like star," Jeff Coughlin. Kepler research scientist at the (SETI) Institute in Mountain View, California.

Based on its size, scientists believe Kepler 452b is rocky and Earth-like and positioned at the right distance for liquid surface water, which is believed necessary for life.

The research will be published in an upcoming issue of "The Astronomical Journal."

News Item A-2: See Europa moon - -

August 2015: News Item A-1: "(FAA): Air Controllers Now are More Alert" (FAA) Associated Press (AP) Release, August 11, 2015.

The (FAA) believes that "there is greater alertness" among staff members using updated scheduling practices following a previously hidden (NASA) (NAS) study assessing chronic fatigue among air traffic controllers, the (FAA) said in an August 11 press release. (NASA)’s 270-page study was originally kept secret from the public until the Associated Press obtained a draft, after which the FAA posted it on line. On recommendations from (NASA), the (FAA) in 2012 implemented a Fatigue Risk Management System, which changed controllers' work schedules in ways such as requiring nine hours of allotted rest, when a night shift immediately precedes a day shift and allowing controllers to "self-declare fatigue and take time off" to recuperate.

September 2015: "(NASA) Developed Technology Aims to Save Commercial Airlines Fuel, and Time" by www, Rob Vogelaar, September 23, 2015.

Two passenger airlines soon will test (NASA)-developed software designed to help air carriers save time and reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions.

During the next three years, Virgin America (VUS) and Alaska Airlines (ASA) will use the "Traffic Aware Planner (TAP)" application - - see attached - - "NAS-2015-09 - Traffic Aware Planner.jpg," to make “traffic aware strategic aircrew requests” (TASAR).

“(TAP) connects directly to the airplane avionics information hub on the airplane,” said David Wing (TASAR) project lead at (NASA)’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. “It reads the current position and altitude of the airplane, its flight route, and other real-time information that defines the airplane’s current situation and active flight plan. Then it automatically looks for a variety of route and/or altitude changes, that could save fuel or flight time and displays those solutions directly to the flight crew (FC).”

(TAP) also can connect with the plane’s Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) receiver and scan the (ADS-B) signals of nearby air traffic to avoid potential conflicts in any proposed flight path changes, making it easier for air traffic controllers to approve a pilot (FC)’s route change request.

For airlines with Internet connectivity in the cockpit, (TAP) also can access information such as real-time weather conditions, wind forecast updates and restricted airspace status, to further increase flight efficiency. The software is loaded onto a tablet computer, which many airline pilots (FC) already use for charts and flight calculations.

Wing and his team already have tested the (TASAR) software 2x- aboard a Piaggio P180 Avanti aircraft, a high-performance technology test bed owned and operated by Advanced Aerospace Solutions, (LLC) of Raleigh, North Carolina. The system worked well on its initial test flight from Virginia to Kentucky, according to its test pilot (FC), former airline captain William Cotton. “We used it to make a route change request from air traffic control (ATC), which they granted,” said Cotton. “We got a shortcut that saved -4 minutes off the flight time.”

Even -4 minutes of flight time shaved off of each leg of a trip made by an airline, could result in massive fuel and time savings, according to researchers. The software provided similar results as flight tests continued in the NE corridor. A 2nd round of flight tests was recently completed to ensure readiness for operational use by partner airlines.

The (TASAR) flight tests came after a dozen pilots (FC) provided feedback on the technology in a simulation at the University of Iowa Operator Performance Laboratory in Iowa City, Iowa. In addition, aerospace systems manufacturer, Rockwell Collins of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, analyzed (TASAR) to make sure it is safe and can be readily certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

“We’re excited to partner with (NASA) to test this new technology that has the potential to help reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions and save our guests, time in the air” said Virgin America (VUS) Chief Operating Officer (COO) Steve Forte in Burlingame, California.

“Up until now there has been no way to deliver comprehensive wind and congestion data to pilots (FC) in near-real time,” said Tom Kemp, Alaska Airlines (ASA)’s VP Operations in Seattle, Washington. “(TASAR) is a ‘super app’ that will give our pilots (FC) better visibility to what’s happening now, versus three hours earlier, when the flight plan was prepared.”

Developers say the new technology won’t require changes to the roles and responsibilities of pilots (FC) or air traffic controllers, which would allow the system to be implemented fast, and start producing benefits right away. “The system is meant to help pilots (FC) make better route requests that air traffic controllers can more often approve,” said Wing. “This should help pilots (FC) and controllers work more effectively together and reduce workload on both sides from un-approvable requests. (TASAR) takes advantage of (NASA)’s state-of-the-art (TAP) software, flight information directly from the airplane and the emerging (ADS-B) and Internet infrastructure to help pilots (FC) get approved to fly the most efficient or time-saving trajectory possible.”

(NASA) researchers expect this and other aviation technologies under development will help revolutionize the national airspace system, reducing delays and environmental impacts, and improving passenger comfort and efficiency, even as the demand for air travel continues to grow.

October 2015: See clearest photo ever taken of Mercury:
"NAS-2015-10 - Mercury.jpg."

November 2015: "Be an Astronaut: NASA Seeks Explorers for Future Space Missions" by Rob Vogelaar, November 4, 2015.

In anticipation of returning human spaceflight launches to American soil, and in preparation for (NAS)’s journey to Mars, (NASA) announced it will soon begin accepting applications for the next class of astronaut candidates. With more human spacecraft in development in the USA today than at any other time in history, future astronauts will launch once again from the Space Coast of Florida on American-made commercial spacecraft, and carry out deep-space exploration missions that will advance a future human mission to Mars.

(NAS) will accept applications from December 14 through mid-February and expects to announce candidates selected in mid-2017. Applications for consideration as a (NASA) Astronaut will be accepted at:

The next class of astronauts may fly on any of 4 different USA vessels during their careers: the International Space Station (ISS), 2 commercial crew spacecraft currently in development by USA companies, and (NASA)’s Orion deep-space exploration vehicle.

From pilots (FC) and engineers, to scientists and medical doctors, (NASA) selects qualified astronaut candidates from a diverse pool of USA citizens with a wide variety of backgrounds. “This next group of American space explorers will inspire the Mars generation to reach for new heights, and help us realize the goal of putting boot prints on the Red Planet,” said (NASA) Administrator Charles Bolden. “Those selected for this service will fly on USA made spacecraft from American soil, advance critical science and research aboard the International Space Station, and help push the boundaries of technology in the proving ground of deep space.”

The space agency is guiding an unprecedented transition to commercial spacecraft for crew and cargo transport to the space station. Flights in Boeing’s (CST-100) Starliner and SpaceX (SPX) Crew Dragon will facilitate adding a 7th crew member to each station mission, effectively doubling the amount of time astronauts will be able to devote to research in space.

Future station crew members will continue the vital work advanced during the last 15 years of continuous human habitation aboard the orbiting laboratory, expanding scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies. This work will include building on the regular six-month missions and this year’s one-year mission, currently underway aboard the station, which is striving for research breakthroughs not possible on Earth that will enable long-duration human and robotic exploration into deep space.

In addition, (NASA)’s Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft, now in development, will launch astronauts on missions to the proving ground of lunar orbit where (NASA) will learn to conduct complex operations in a deep space environment before moving on to longer duration missions on its journey to Mars.

“This is an exciting time to be a part of America’s human space flight program,” said Brian Kelly, Director of Flight Operations at (NASA)’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “(NASA) has taken the next step in the evolution of our nation’s human spaceflight program (and our USA astronauts will be at the forefront of these new and challenging space flight missions). We encourage all qualified applicants to learn more about the opportunities for astronauts at (NASA) and apply to join our flight operations team.”

To date, (NASA) has selected >300 astronauts to fly on its increasingly challenging missions to explore space and benefit life on Earth. There are 47 astronauts in the active astronaut corps, and more will be needed to crew future missions to the space station and destinations in deep space.

Astronaut candidates must have earned a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution in engineering, biological science, physical science or mathematics. An advanced degree is desirable. Candidates also must have at least three years of related, progressively responsible professional experience, or at least 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command (FC) time in jet aircraft. Astronaut candidates must pass the (NASA) long-duration spaceflight physical.

For more information about a career as a (NASA) astronaut, and application requirements, visit:

December 2015: News Item A-1: "(NASA) Cargo Launches to Space Station Aboard Orbital (ATK) Resupply Mission" by Rob Vogelaar, December 7, 2015.

"NAS-2015-12 - Resupply Mission.jpg."

New hardware that will support dozens of (NASA) investigations and other science experiments from around the world is among the >7,000 pounds of cargo on the way to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard Orbital (ATK)’s Cygnus spacecraft. It launched at 4:44:57 pm (EST) December 6 on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

“(NASA) is delighted at the continued progress made possible by our investment in commercial space,” said (NASA) Deputy Administrator, Dava Newman. “As we celebrate Orbital (ATK)’s success with its 4th cargo resupply mission to the (ISS), we look forward to the next milestones of our other commercial partners, including commercial crew launches from American soil in the near future. All these missions are critical to our journey to Mars (a journey we have already begun).”

The mission is Orbital (ATK)’s 4th cargo delivery flight to the station through (NASA)’s Commercial Resupply Services contract. This is the 1st flight of an enhanced Cygnus spacecraft to the station. The cargo freighter now features a greater payload capacity, new UltraFlex solar arrays and new fuel tanks. Cygnus’ pressurized cargo module has been extended and increases the spacecraft’s interior volume capacity by +25%, allowing more cargo to be delivered with each mission. It’s also the 1st Cygnus mission using the Atlas V launch system.

Science payloads will support science and research investigations that will occur during the space station’s Expeditions 45 and 46, including experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science (research that impacts life on Earth). Investigations will offer a new life science facility that will support studies on cell cultures, bacteria and other microorganisms, a microsatellite deployer and the 1st microsatellite that will be deployed from the space station, and experiments that will study the behavior of gases and liquids and clarify the thermo-physical properties of molten steel and evaluations of flame-resistant textiles.

The Space Automated Bioproduct Lab is a new space life science facility that is designed to support a wide variety of fundamental, applied and commercial space life sciences research, as well as education-based investigations for students from kindergarten through university. The facility will support research on microorganisms, such as bacteria, yeast, algae, fungi, and viruses, as well as animal cells and tissues and small plant and animal organisms.

NanoRacks-MicroSat-SIMPL is a modular, hyper integrated satellite designed to provide complete satellite functionality in a nanosatellite scale. It will be the 1st NanoRacks microsatellite deployed from the space station and the 1st propulsion-capable satellite deployed from the NanoRacks-MicroSat-Deployer known as Kaber. The commercial deployer system aims to address the growing market of customers wanting to deploy microsatellites in orbit.

The Packed Bed Reactor Experiment studies the behavior of gases and liquids, when they flow simultaneously through a column filled with fixed porous media, which is of interest in many chemical and biological processing systems, as well as numerous geophysical applications.

BASS-M (Burning and Suppression of Solids – Milliken) will evaluate flame retardant and resistant textiles as a mode of personal protection from fire-related hazards. Studying flame retardant and resistant behavior of different materials in microgravity will aid in better designs for future textiles and benefit those who wear protective clothing, such as military personnel and civilian workers in the electrical and energy industries.

The Nodes satellites, sponsored by (NASA)’s Space Technology Mission Directorate and developed by the Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, consist of 2 CubeSats weighing 4.5 pounds each and measuring 4 inches by 4 inches by 6.5 inches. They are an example of how technology drives innovation, as they will test new network capabilities for operating swarms of spacecraft in the future.

In addition, Cygnus will deliver replacement cargo items including a set of Microsoft HoloLens devices for use in (NASA)’s Sidekick project, a safety jet pack astronauts wear during spacewalks known as (SAFER), and high pressure nitrogen and oxygen tanks to plug into the station’s air supply network.

Cygnus will be grappled at approximately 6:10 am on December 9, by (NASA) astronaut Kjell Lindgren, using the space station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to take hold of the spacecraft. Scott Kelly of (NASA) will support Lindgren in a backup position. The spacecraft will spend more than a month attached to the space station before its destructive re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere, disposing of about 3,000 pounds of trash.

The (ISS) is a convergence of science, technology and human innovation that demonstrates new technologies and makes research breakthroughs not possible on Earth. The space station has been continuously occupied since November 2000. In that time, it has been visited by >200 people and a variety of international and commercial spacecraft. The space station remains the springboard to (NASA)’s next great leap in exploration, including future missions to an asteroid and Mars.

News Item A-2: Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA: - A USA shipment of much needed groceries and other astronaut supplies rocketed towards the International Space Station (ISS) for the 1st time in months reigniting (NASA)'s commercial delivery service.

The Orbital (ATK) Cygnus capsule's arrival at the (ISS) was the 1st USA delivery since last spring. The 6 (ISS) astronauts (2 of them deep into a 1 year mission) have gone without USA shipments since last April.

Orbital (ATK) bought another company's rocket, the veteran Atlas V, for this mission. Orbital's previous grocery run (its 4th) exploded after liftoff in October 2014. SpaceX (SPX), the other supplier, suffered a launch failure in June.

This is the 1st time that United Launch Alliance's Atlas V, normally used for hefty satellite launchers, has served the (ISS) space station.

Boeing (TBC) intends to use the Atlas V to boost its Starliner capsules to ferry astronauts to the (ISS) beginning in 2017.

SpaceX (SPX) (also part of (NASA)'s commercial crew effort) aims to restart station deliveries in January 2016 with its Falcon rockets.

News Item A-3: "Next Generation of Synthetic Aperture Radar Satellites will see the World in Color" by Rob Vogelaar, December 7, 2015.

"NAS-2015-012 - Radar Satellite Color Images.jpg."

* Major agreement achieved for the next X-band satellite missions during the World Radiocommunication Conference

* New services in (SAR)-based Earth Observation will benefit from a new unprecedented image quality

The recent World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC 2015) in Geneva, Switzerland, has allocated new frequency bandwidths for Earth Observation Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) systems by doubling the actual 600 Megahertz to now reach 1.200 Megahertz. This decision, following 4 years of preparation and several weeks of intense discussions prior to the Conference, opens the door to an unprecedented image resolution quality in color of future (SAR) satellites.

“This is an important breakthrough for the development of the next generation of (SAR) systems, which will lead to new applications for a wide range of needs in all the domains, where data accuracy is really key,” said Evert Dudok Executive VP of Communications, Intelligence & Security at Airbus Defence & Space.

Indeed, thanks to this larger frequency allocation, the next generation of (SAR) satellites will be able to offer high-quality 25 cm resolution imagery and quad polarimetry data to visualize imagery in color and better analyse surface features such as infrastructures and vegetation. This will drastically improve applications such as surface movement detection due to more precise information on the instable layers near the surface, or maritime safety through detection of smaller vessel and refined identification of suspicious activities. Environmental applications will also benefit from this, especially in land cover and land use mapping as well as forestry monitoring.

“This achievement has been made possible through excellent collaboration between the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) and the German, USA and French delegations,” added Mr Dudok.

Airbus Defence & Space has already been working on the next generation of (SAR) satellites for several years –as a follow-on mission to the successful TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X. It can now move forward in offering new applications based on this unprecedentedly high-quality (SAR) imagery.

March 2016: News Item A-1: The ExoMars 2016 mission, a collaboration between the European and Russian space agencies, blasted off from Kazakhstan on March 14. The spacecraft, which consists of an orbiter that will measure methane and other gases in the Martian atmosphere and a lander that will study dust storms, was carried by a Russian Proton rocket. It is expected to arrive in October.

News Item A-2: The 6 astronauts at the International Space Station (ISS) got an early Easter treat with the arrival of a supply spaceship full of fresh food and experiments.

The delivery by Orbital (ATK)'s Cygnus capsule was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA on March 22. It was the 1st of 3 shipments coming up in quick succession.

A Russian cargo spaceship will lift off March 31, followed by a SpaceX (SPX) supply run on April 8.

May 2016: SEE ATTACHED - -
"NAS-2016-05 - Possible Life.jpg."

June 2017: "(NASA)’s Newest Astronaut Recruits to Conduct Research off the Earth, For the Earth and Deep Space Missions" June 08, 2017.

After receiving a record-breaking number of applications to join an exciting future of space exploration, (NASA) has selected its largest astronaut class since 2000. (NASA)’s newest astronaut recruits to conduct research off the earth, for the earth and deep space missions.

April 2018: "Space Calendar 2018: Launches, Sky Events & More
By Staff, April 24, 2018.

LAST UPDATED April 24: These dates are subject to change, and will be updated throughout the year as firmer dates arise. Please DO NOT schedule travel based on a date you see here. Launch dates collected from (NASA), (ESA), Roscosmos, Spaceflight Now and others.

Watch (NASA) webcasts and other live launch coverage on our Watch Live page, and see our night sky webcasts here. (You can also watch (NASA) TV live via or YouTube.)

Find out what's up in the night sky this month with our visible planets guide and skywatching forecast. Spot the International Space Station, Hubble Space Telescope and other satellites in the sky above with this satellite tracker.

April 2018:

April 25: A Eurockot Rockot vehicle will launch with the Sentinel 3B Earth observation satellite for the European Space Agency and the European Commission from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Russia at 1:57 pm EDT (1757 GMT).

April 25: (NASA) astronauts Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold will host an in-flight educational event at the International Space Station with the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens in Coral Gables, Florida. (NASA) TV will air the discussion live at 10:45 am EDT (1445 GMT).

April 26: A Chinese Long March 11 rocket will launch several Zhuhai 1 Earth-observing satellites from Jiuquan, China at 12:40 am EDT (0440 GMT).

April 26: (NASA) will hold a briefing on the status of its deep space human exploration plans at the Johnson Space Center in Houston at 10 am EDT (1400 GMT). [Watch Live].

Also slated to launch in April (from Spaceflight Now):

* A Rocket Lab Electron rocket will launch on its 3rd flight, titled "It's Business Time," from the Mahia Peninsula on New Zealand's North Island. The launch window opens at 8:30 pm EDT on April 19 and closes at 12:30 am EDT on April 20 (0030 - 0430 GMT on April 20).

May 2018:

May 2: SpaceX (SPX)'s Dragon cargo spacecraft (CRS-14) will depart the International Space Station at 10:33 am EDT (1433 GMT) and return to Earth. (NASA) TV will provide live coverage of the Dragon's departure beginning at 10 am EDT (1400 GMT). [Watch Live]

May 4: A SpaceX (SPX) Falcon 9 rocket will lift off from Cape Canaveral, Florida with the Bangabandhu 1 communications satellite at 4:00-6:25 pm EDT (2000-2225 GMT). [Watch Live]

May 5: A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket will launch (NASA)'s InSight Mars lander from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 7:05 am EDT (1105 GMT). [Watch Live]

May 6: The Eta Aquarid meteor shower will peak early in the morning (before dawn) on Sunday, May 6. Meteors from this shower will be visible from mid-April to the end of May.

May 6: A Chinese Long March 3B rocket will launch the Apstar 6C communications satellite from Xichang, China.

May 16: (NASA) astronauts Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold will take a 6.5-hour spacewalk outside the International Space Station. (NASA) TV will provide live coverage beginning at 6:30 am EDT (1030 GMT), and the spacewalkers are scheduled to exit the Quest airlock at approximately 8:10 am EDT (1210 GMT). [Watch Live]

May 19: (NASA) will launch its GRACE-FO (Follow-On) mission to track Earth's gravity and water movement. It is scheduled to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California as part of the Iridium Next 51-55 commercial satellite launch on a SpaceX (SPX) Falcon 9 at 4:03 pm EDT (2003 GMT). [Watch Live]

May 20: An Orbital (ATK) Antares rocket will launch a Cygnus cargo spacecraft (OA-9) to the International Space Station from Wallops Island, Virginia. [Watch Live]

May 24: A SpaceX (SPX) Falcon 9 rocket will launch the SES 12 communications satellite from Cape Canaveral, Florida. [Watch Live]

May 25: Arianespace will use an Ariane 5 ECA rocket to launch the Azerspace 2/Intelsat 38 and GSAT 11 communications satellites from Kourou, French Guiana at 4:41-5:55 pm EDT (2041-2155 GMT).

Also slated to launch in May (from Spaceflight Now):

* A Chinese Long March 4C rocket will launch a relay satellite toward the Earth-moon L2 Lagrange point to enable communications between Earth and the Chang'e 4 lunar lander and rover on the far side of the moon. 2 Chinese microsatellites will launch with the Chang'e 4 relay mission to conduct astronomical observations from deep space.

* June 2018:

June 1: Japan's Hayabusa 2 spacecraft will reach the asteroid Ryugu, where it will attempt to collect a sample and return it to Earth in 2020.

June 1: Russian cosmonaut and Expedition 55 Cmdr. Anton Shkaplerov will hand over command of the International Space Station to (NASA) astronaut Drew Feustel in a traditional change-of-command ceremony (time (TBD)).

June 3: (NASA) astronaut Scott Tingle, Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Norishege Kanai will undock their Soyuz spacecraft from the International Space Station and return to Earth after spending nearly 6 months in space. They'll close the hatch at 1:59 am EDT (0559 GMT) and undock from the ISS at 5:16 am EDT (0916 GMT). The Soyuz spacecraft will perform a deorbit burn at 7:45 am EDT (1145 GMT), and the crew will touch down in Kazakhstan at 8:38 am EDT (1238 GMT). [Watch Live]

June 6: A Russian Soyuz rocket will launch a crewed Soyuz spacecraft to the International Space Station from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan with members of Expedition 56/57: European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst, (NASA) astronaut Serena M. Auñón-Chancellor and Russian cosmonaut Sergey Prokopev. Liftoff is scheduled for 7:11 am EDT (1111 GMT), and the crew will arrive at the ISS on June 8. [Watch Live]

June 8: The crew of Expedition 56/57 will arrive at the International Space Station after a 2-day orbital chase. Their Soyuz spacecraft will dock at the ISS at 9:05 am EDT (1305 GMT). Hatch opening is scheduled for 10:45 am EDT (1445 GMT). [Watch Live]

June 11: A Japanese H-2A rocket will launch an Information Gathering Satellite (IGS) with a radar reconnaissance payload from the Tanegashima Space Center. The 2-hour launch window opens at 12 pm EDT (0400 GMT).

June 13: An air-launched Orbital ATK Pegasus XL rocket will send (NASA)'s Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) satellite into orbit from Kwajalein, Marshall Islands.

June 21: Summer solstice. In the northern hemisphere, this is the 1st day of summer and the longest day of the year. In the southern hemisphere, June 21 is the winter solstice, or the 1st day of winter, and the shortest day of the year.

June 28: A SpaceX (SPX) Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Dragon cargo spacecraft (CRS-15) from Cape Canaveral, Florida on a cargo delivery flight to the International Space Station. Liftoff is scheduled for 5 am EDT (0900 GMT). [Watch Live]

Also slated to launch in June (from Spaceflight Now):

* A SpaceX (SPX) Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Telstar 19V communications satellite from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

* India's Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk 3 (GSLV Mk.3) will launch the (GSAT) 29 communications satellite from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, India.

* A Chinese Long March 3A rocket will launch the Fengyun 2H geostationary weather satellite from Xichang, China.

* A Chinese Long March 2C rocket will launch the Pakistan Remote Sensing Satellite (PRSS 1) from Taiyuan, China.

* July 2018:

July 10: A Russian Soyuz rocket will launch the 70th Progress cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. [Watch Live]

July 13: A partial solar eclipse will be visible from southern Australia, the Pacific and the Indian Ocean. [Solar Eclipse Guide 2018: When, Where & How to See Them]

July 25: Arianespace will use an Ariane 5 ES rocket to launch 4 Galileo satellites for Europe's Galileo navigation constellation. The rocket will launch from Kourou, French Guiana.

July 27/28: A total lunar eclipse, also known as a "blood moon," will be visible from Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, the Atlantic, the Indian Ocean and Antarctica. [Lunar Eclipse 2018 Guide: When, Where & How to See It]

July 29/30: The southern Delta Aquarid meteor shower will peak overnight on Sunday, July 29 into the early morning hours of Monday, July 30. Meteors from this shower will be visible from mid-July to the end of August.

July 31: A United Launch Alliance Delta 4-Heavy rocket will launch (NASA)'s Parker Solar Probe from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 4:15-6:15 am EDT (0815-1015 GMT). [Watch Live]

Also slated to launch in July (from Spaceflight Now):

* A SpaceX (SPX) Falcon 9 rocket will launch Spaceflight's SSO-A rideshare mission from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

* A SpaceX (SPX) Falcon Heavy rocket will launch the US Air Force's Space Test Program-2 mission sometime during Q3 (July-Sept.).

* August 2018:

Aug. 11: A partial solar eclipse will be visible from parts of Europe, Asia, Canada, Greenland, the Atlantic and the Arctic. [Solar Eclipse Guide 2018: When, Where & How to See Them]

Aug. 13: The Perseid meteor shower will peak before dawn in the early morning hours of Monday, Aug. 13.

Aug. 16: A Japanese H-2B rocket will launch the seventh H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-7) from the Tanegashima Space Center. The uncrewed cargo vehicle will deliver equipment and supplies to the International Space Station.

Aug. 21: An Arianespace Vega rocket will launch from Kourou, French Guiana with the European Space Agency's Aeolus wind-mapping satellite.

Aug. 27: A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket will launch Boeing's 1st CST-100 Starliner spacecraft on an unpiloted Orbital Test Flight to the International Space Station. The capsule will dock with the space station, then return to Earth to landing in the Western United States after an orbital shakedown cruise ahead of a 2-person Crew Test Flight (which could happen in 2019).

Also slated to launch in August (from Spaceflight Now):

* SpaceX (SPX) will launch a Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Crew Dragon spacecraft from Kennedy Space Center in Florida for an uncrewed test flight to the International Space Station.

* A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch 10 Iridium Next satellites (66-75) from Vandenberg Air Foce Base in California.

* September 2018:

Sept. 12: A United Launch Alliance Delta 2 rocket will launch (NASA)'s ICESat-2 satellite to measure ice sheet elevation and ice sheet thickness changes linked to climate change, along with measurements of Earth's vegetation biomass. It will lift off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 8:46-11:20 am EDT (1246-1520 GMT).

Sept. 14: A Russian Soyuz rocket will launch the crewed Soyuz spacecraft to the International Space Station with members of the Expedition 57/58 crew: NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Nikolay Tikhonov.

Sept. 18/19: An Arianespace Soyuz rocket will launch the European Space Agency's MetOp C polar-orbiting weather satellite from the Guiana Space Center in Sinnamary, French Guiana at 8:46 pm EDT (0046 GMT on Sept. 19).

Sept. 26: A United Launch Alliance Delta 4-Heavy rocket will launch a classified spy satellite (NROL-71) for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

* Also slated to launch in September (from Spaceflight Now):

* A Chinese Long March 2C rocket will launch the China-France Oceanography Satellite (CFOSAT) from Jiuquan, China.

* An Arianespace Vega rocket will launch with the Aeolus satellite for the European Space Agency. (ADM)-Aeolus will be the first ever satellite to deliver wind profiles on a global scale and on a daily basis.

* A United Launch Alliance Delta 4 rocket will launch the US Air Force’s 1st 3rd-generation navigation satellite for the Global Positioning System (GPS 3-01).

* October 2018:

Oct. 5: Arianespace will use an Ariane 5 ECA rocket to launch the BepiColombo mission for the European Space Agency and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. BepiColombo will begin a 7-year journey to Mercury.

Oct. 9: The Draconid meter shower will peak before dawn on Tuesday, October 9.

Oct. 11: A Russian Soyuz rocket will launch the 71st Progress cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station.

Oct. 18: The US military will launch its 4th Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellite aboard an Atlas 5 rocket provided by the United Launch Alliance. It will launch from pad SLC-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Also slated to launch in October (from Spaceflight Now):

* India will launch the Chandrayaan-2 mission to the moon from the Satish Dhawan Space Center.

* November 2018:

Nov. 1: A United Launch Alliance Delta 4 rocket will launch the 10th Wideband Global SATCOM spacecraft, formerly known as the Wideband Gapfiller Satellite.

Nov. 10: An Orbital (ATK) Antares rocket will launch a Cygnus cargo spacecraft from Wallops Island, Virginia for a cargo delivery mission to the International Space Station.

Nov. 15: A Russian Soyuz rocket will launch a crewed Soyuz spacecraft to the International Space Station with members of the next Expedition crew.

Nov. 16: A SpaceX (SPX) Falcon 9 rocket will launch a Dragon cargo spacecraft from Cape Canaveral, Florida for a cargo delivery mission to the International Space Station.

Also slated to launch in November (from Spaceflight Now):

* An Arianespace Vega rocket will launch the Italian space agency's PRISMA satellite from Kourou, French Guiana.

Also coming in 2018...

* A SpaceX (SPX) Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Telkom 4 communications satellite from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

* A SpaceX (SPX) Falcon Heavy rocket will launch the Arabsat 6A communications satellite from Kennedy Space Center's historic Pad 39A.

* A SpaceX (SPX) Falcon 9 rocket will launch 10 Iridium Next satellites (56-65) from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

* A Chinese Long March 3B rocket will launch the Chang'e 4 mission to attempt the first robotic landing on the far side of the moon.

* A Chinese Long March 5 rocket will launch the Chang'e 5 mission to return samples from the moon. It will be the 1st lunar sample return mission attempted since 1976.

* A Chinese Long March 2C rocket will launch the China - France Oceanography Satellite, or CFOSat from Jiuquan, China. CFOSat will study ocean surface winds and waves.

Please send any corrections, updates or suggested calendar additions to Follow for the latest in space science and exploration news on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

August 2018: Powering Up for the Sun.

Credit: United Launch Alliance

A view of the 3 1st-stage boosters of the (ULA) Delta IV Heavy rocket that launched (NASA)'s Parker Solar Probe.

August 2018: "Long-Lost Spacecraft that (NASA) Rediscovered This Year Is Incommunicado" by Meghan Bartels, Senior Writer, August 30, 2018.

6 months after (NASA) (NAS) last picked up a signal from a long-lost spacecraft, engineers have been unable to re-establish communications with the satellite, (NAS) confirmed in a new statement released on August 28.

That spacecraft, the Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration (IMAGE), launched in 2000 and worked perfectly until 2005, when the satellite unexpectedly stopped communicating with Earth. But in January, an amateur astronomer suddenly picked up a signal matching the spacecraft's communication system, and (NAS) later confirmed that it was indeed the long-lost (IMAGE).

Since the rediscovery, engineers at (NASA) and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory have been attempting to re-establish a steady communication line with the spacecraft. That would let engineers evaluate the instruments on board and determine whether it would be worth trying to salvage the spacecraft.

And at 1st, rescuing the spacecraft seemed plausible: The engineers retrieved some initial data from the satellite and confirmed its batteries were still working. But at the end of February, the spacecraft broke off communications again, and since then, the signal from the satellite has been spotty or nonexistent.

In yesterday's update, the 1st (NASA) has released since May, (NAS) confirmed that the communication problems continue. Engineers still haven't managed to lock in on the lost satellite's signal, and the spacecraft is still ignoring all commands being sent to it.

During its career, the spacecraft was the 1st to map the entire magnetosphere, which is the area influenced by Earth's magnetic field. The magnetosphere plays a crucial role in protecting Earth from solar radiation.

December 2018: "NASA)'s InSight Took Its 1st Selfie on Mars, and it's Epic" by PETER KOTECKI, BUSINESS INSIDER, December 12 2018.

(NASA)'s "InSight" lander has taken its 1st selfie on Mars.

The selfie, released on December 11, is made up of 11 images that were stitched together. The resulting photo shows InSight's solar panels and deck, along with the scientific instruments on top of the deck and the lander's weather sensor.

InSight landed on Mars on November 26 after a nearly 7-month journey from Earth. Since then, scientists have gotten their 1st look at InSight's "workspace": a 14-by-7-foot/4.3 by 2.1 m area in front of the lander. The image scientists have of that workspace is also a mosaic, created out of 52 separate images.

The US$830 million InSight mission to Mars is the 1st since the nuclear-powered "Curiosity" rover reached the red planet >6 years ago.
But InSight is not made to roam around. Instead, (NASA) scientists are hoping to use the lander's tools to study Mars' internal structure and the history of the planet's formation.

InSight is equipped with a seismometer that will listen for seismic movements on the red planet, which are known as Mars quakes. And a heat probe will dig down 16 feet/4.8 m) to measure Mars' temperature and help scientists better understand the planet's geology.

Over the next few weeks, scientists and engineers at (NASA) will determine where those instruments should go within the lander's workspace. Then, the lander's robotic arm will grab the heat probe and seismometer and carefully place them on the Martian surface.

InSight was launched to Mars along with 2 briefcase-sized satellites collectively called Mars Cube One, which helped record and relay crucial landing data to (NASA) mission control.

(NASA) chose to land InSight in a region of Mars called Elysium Planitia because the area is relatively free of boulders and craters.
"The near-absence of rocks, hills and holes means it will be extremely safe for our instruments," Bruce Banerdt, InSight's principal investigator, said. "This might seem like a pretty plain piece of ground if it weren't on Mars, but we're glad to see that."

Elysium Planitia is located just north of the Martian equator, where the sun's rays remain strong throughout the year. That solar power is expected to allow InSight to operate on Mars for 2 Earth years using its solar panels.


Click below for photos:
NAS-Image Spacecraft 2018-08.jpg

December 2018:

1 707 (KC-135A) (J57-P-59W) (18615, /64 N931NA), RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT AIRPLANE.

0 737-130 (JT8D) (1-19437, /73), LOCATED AT MUSEUM OF FLIGHT, SEATTLE






1 A377 SUPER GUPPY (501-D22C) (004, /83 N941NA), FREIGHTER.

1 L-300-50A-01 STARLIFTER (TF33-P-7) (6110, /66 N714NA).

1 L-262 HERCULES (T56-A-7) (3507, /60 N707NA), RESEARCH AIRPLANE.



Click below for photos:







Robert Lightfoot was the Director of the Marshall Space Flight Center. Robert joined (NASA) in 1989 as a test engineer. He is now (NASA)'s highest ranking civil servant, overseeing efforts in human spaceflight, science and aeronautics.

Gene is also the Marshall Space Flight Center acting Director.












(, (HOUSTON) (747-400).





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