Category Archives: New

NASA Selects Instruments to Study Air Pollution, Tropical

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March 10, 2016
RELEASE 16-025
NASA Selects Instruments to Study Air Pollution, Tropical Cyclones

The Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats (TROPICS) investigation, 12 CubeSats about a foot long each, will study the development of tropical cyclones by taking measurements of temperature, precipitation and cloud properties as often as every 21 minutes.

Credits: MIT Lincoln Laboratory

NASA has selected two proposals for new Earth science investigations that will put new instruments in low-Earth orbit to track harmful particulate air pollutants and study the development of tropical cyclones.

Observations of small atmospheric aerosols from the Multi-Angle Imager for Aerosols (MAIA) will be combined with health information to determine the toxicity of different particulate matter types in airborne pollutants over the world’s major cities. David Diner of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, is the principal investigator.

The Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats (TROPICS) investigation will develop and launch a constellation of CubeSats to study the development of tropical cyclones through rapid-revisit sampling. William Blackwell of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington is the principal investigator.

The instruments were competitively selected from 14 proposals submitted to NASA’s Earth Venture Instrument-3 program. Earth Venture investigations are small, targeted science investigations that complement NASA’s larger missions. The National Research Council recommended in 2007 that NASA undertake this type of regularly solicited, quick-turnaround project.

“We are excited to make selections that expand the use of CubeSats for Earth sciences and that make measurements and perform analyses that will have direct societal benefit,” said Geoffrey Yoder, deputy associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “These innovative Earth Venture Instruments will join and expand our growing suite of NASA Earth-observing sensors.”

MAIA uses a twin-camera instrument that will make radiometric and polarimetric measurements needed to characterize the sizes, compositions, and quantities of particulate matter in air pollution. As part of the MAIA investigation, researchers will combine MAIA measurements with population health records to better understand the connections between aerosol pollutants and health problems such as adverse birth outcomes, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, and premature deaths.

The MAIA team has extensive experience in polarimetry, air pollution, and human health. Diner has led numerous polarimetry observations from sub-orbital platforms throughout his career. The team includes partnerships with NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, and Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, as well as several universities, federal research organizations and international partners.

TROPICS will consist of 12 CubeSats, each about one foot long and weighing just 8.5 pounds, that use scanning microwave radiometers to measure temperature, humidity, precipitation and cloud properties. The CubeSats will be launched into three separate orbital planes to enable the overall constellation to monitor changes in tropical cyclones as frequently as every 21 minutes.

The TROPICS team has previous experience developing CubeSats and analyzing satellite measurements of storms, and includes partnerships with NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia, Goddard, several universities and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The two investigations were selected from NASA’s third Earth Venture Instrument competition. The first Earth Venture Instrument investigation, selected in 2012, the Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution (TEMPO) mission, will be the first space-based sensor to monitor major chemical air pollutants across North American hourly during daytime. It will share a ride on a commercial satellite as a hosted payload and orbit about 22,000 miles above the equator.

The second set of investigations selected in 2014 were the Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) and ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station (ECOSTRESS). These instruments will measure changes in global vegetation from the International Space Station, illuminating how forests and ecosystems are affected by changes in climate and land use.

Earth Venture missions are managed by NASA’s Earth System Science Pathfinder program located at Langley for the Science Mission Directorate. The missions in this program provide an innovative approach to address Earth science research with periodic windows of opportunity to accommodate new scientific priorities. For more information, visit:

http://go.nasa.gov/MKvgJO

NASA uses the vantage point of space to increase our understanding of our home planet, improve lives, and safeguard our future. NASA develops new ways to observe and study Earth’s interconnected natural systems with long-term data records. The agency freely shares this unique knowledge and works with institutions around the world to gain new insights into how our planet is changing.

For more information about NASA’s Earth science activities, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/earth

-end-

NASA news releases are written and distributed by NASA and reprinted here by USA in Space to allow easy access to the content and to provide an archive of the information.

Women In Space: Dr. Anna Fisher, One Of The ‘Original Six’

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Fisher in front of a rack of spacesuits at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama. Photo Credit: NASA

J.D. TAYLOR
APRIL 30TH, 2015

SpaceFlight Insider and USA in Space recently had a chance to interview U.S. astronaut Dr. Anna Lee Tingle Fisher. In 1978, Dr. Fisher was in the first group of six women ever selected to be American astronauts. Prior to 1978, women were not allowed into NASA’s Astronaut Training Program. In fact, the only woman to have gone into space was Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, who went into space in 1963.

Dr. Fisher was selected for NASA’s Space Shuttle program. She was one of six women in a group of 35, known as NASA’s Astronaut Group 8. It had been almost 10 years since the Apollo era Group 7 was selected. NASA had decided that they no longer needed just military pilots, they needed people with a high degree of academics and now they wanted to include women in the selection process. All six women selected had doctorate degrees in ‘STEM‘ (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields or in medicine. They were both highly educated and motivated.


Fisher’s official NASA portrait. Photo Credit: NASA

Dr. Fisher is a chemist, a medical doctor, specializing in emergency medicine, and is a NASA astronaut. Today, at the age of 65, Fisher is the oldest active American astronaut. During her career at NASA, she has been involved with three major programs: the Shuttle Program, the International Space Station, and NASA’s new crew-rated spacecraft – Orion.

Fisher said she knew she wanted to become an astronaut at the age of 12 when she heard the voice of Alan Shepard over the radio on his sub-orbital flight. In her dealings with NASA, she never felt any discrimination and felt that NASA was welcoming the women into the program. In fact, she said that she felt more negative attitudes in college against her becoming a doctor than she did by NASA in becoming an astronaut.

Once she was accepted into the program, she knew there was a spotlight on all of them. They all knew, that from this group, the first American woman astronaut would be selected. Dr. Fisher said it did not matter to the group, who was selected to be the first American woman Astronaut. Just knowing that there was going to be a first woman was more important to them than who it was. They all understood the importance of being a contributing part of the space program and to pave the way for women in the future. Dr. Sally Ride was selected and made the historic flight on STS-7 on June 18, 1983, becoming America’s first woman astronaut.

The SYNCOM IV-1 defense communications satellite is deployed out of Discovery’s payload bay during STS-51A. Photo Credit: NASA

On November 8, 1984, Dr. Fisher launched into space on the Space Shuttle Discovery (OV-103). For Fisher, this was a dream come true. As a mother, this meant she was the first mother in space. She said that she most enjoyed the thrill of the launch and time spent looking out the windows at the Earth passing so fast below. One of her favorite moments in space was looking into the cargo bay of the Shuttle and seeing the two satellites they had captured from their orbits in space.

The two satellites were secured in the shuttle bay earlier in the mission. The STS-51-A mission marked the first time a shuttle deployed two communications satellites, and then retrieved from orbit two other communications satellites. The Anik D-2 and Syncom IV-1 satellite were deployed and Westar 6 and Palapa B2 satellite were retrieved. She spent 7 days, 23 hours, and 44 minutes in space and had completed 127 orbits of the Earth before landing at Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

Dr. Fisher was assigned to be on the flight manifest for the launch after the next Challenger shuttle launch.

On Jan. 28, 1986, Space Shuttle Challenger (OV-099) (mission STS-51-L) broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, leading to the deaths of its seven crew members. The Shuttle Program was grounded until a cause and a fix could be made.

Mission patch for STS-51A. Image Credit: NASA

Two years later, on September 29, 1988, Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off, signifying a “Return to Flight”. This flight was commanded by astronaut Frederick Hauck who was also on STS-51A with Fisher, but Fisher was not part of this mission. With the birth of a second daughter, Dr. Fisher took a leave of absence to raise her kids.

She returned to NASA seven years later in 1996 and discovered that the agency she returned to, was not the one she had remembered. They were developing processes and procedures for the new International Space Station (ISS) program. Fisher became the chief of the Space Station branch and was able to use the experience of working through all of the issues that came up in the beginning of the Shuttle Program to help alleviate those same types of issues in that were coming up at the beginning of the ISS program.

Dr. Fisher continues to use her experience to contribute to the success of NASA as it starts of the Commercial Crew Program and the Orion Program. Pioneering women like Fisher helped to pave the way for many U.S. women astronauts and she continues to be an inspiration to many.

This series was originally written by USA in Space for SpaceFlight Insider and was edited and published by SpaceFlight Insider.  It is republished here with their permission.

Women In Space: Nicole Stott – More Than 100 Days On Orbit

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WOMEN IN SPACE: NICOLE STOTT – MORE THAN 100 DAYS ON ORBIT

Having flown to space twice, Nicole Stott has spent more than 100 days on orbit. She spoke with USA in Space and SpaceFlight Insider about her experiences during a recent interview. Photo Credit: NASA / JSC

J.D. TAYLOR
APRIL 29TH, 2015

We interviewed Dr. Nicole Marie Passonno Stott, an American engineer and a NASA astronaut with more than 100 days of space experience. Dr. Stott joined NASA in 1988, as an Operations Engineer in the Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF) at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Florida. In July of 2000, she was selected as a mission specialist and started astronaut candidate training in August of 2000, as part of the NASA Astronaut Group 18 training group, nicknamed “The Bugs”.

Dr. Stott is a veteran astronaut with three Shuttle flights – STS-128 (up), STS-129 (return), and STS-133 – and two Expedition long-duration missions (Expedition 20 and Expedition 21) on the International Space Station (ISS). She was the last ISS Expedition crew member to fly on a space shuttle when she returned to Earth aboard STS-129 in November 2009.

Nicole Stott credits her father for her passion for aviation. Her father loved flying and they hung out at the airport every weekend while her father worked on his latest airplane project.

Stott joined NASA in 1988 as an operations engineer at one of Kennedy Space Center’s Orbiter Processing Facility. Photo Credit: Bill Stafford / NASA

In 1988, while working at NASA, she watched candidates go through the astronaut program, but still did not see herself as an astronaut. People at NASA encouraged her to apply for the program and to her surprise, in July 2000, she was selected. She says she can’t believe that she was selected saying,
“I pinch myself every day.”

In 2006, as part of her astronaut training, Dr. Stott took part in a six-aquanaut crew mission called NEEMO 9. NEEMO is NASA’s Extreme Environment Mission Operations. “The longest Nemo mission ever, I think. It was awesome,” she said with delight. Dr. Stott thoroughly enjoyed this underwater training experience. As part of the NEEMO 9 training mission, they spent 18 days of underwater living aboard Aquarius – an undersea laboratory stationed about 60 feet (18 m) down just off Key Largo in the Florida Keys.

Dr. Stott said, “It was the best preparation for going to space.” She further explained that once you are down there, you have to be very thoughtful of what you are doing, and that you can’t just open the hatch and walk out and go to the surface (without a long decompression). “You learn the dynamics of living and interacting with a crew in a confined living space.” They tested and trained on undersea “moonwalks” and robotic surgeries controlled by a doctor high and dry in Canada. Just before “splash-up” (the term for returning to the surface), Stott told fellow aquanaut Ron Garan, “You know, if we never get to fly in space, this experience would be enough.”

On 28 August 2009, Dr. Stott and her fellow crew members launched from Kennedy Space Center (KSC) Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) on her first space flight as a Flight Engineer on board STS-128 (an ISS assembly flight 17A). This was a NASA Space Shuttle Discovery mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

Stott and her STS-128 crew-mate, John “Danny” Olivas, performed a spacewalk or EVA (extravehicular activity) to prepare for the replacement of an empty ammonia tank on the station’s port truss, or backbone, by releasing its bolts. They retrieved a materials processing experiment and a European science experiment mounted outside the Columbus laboratory and stowed them in Discovery’s cargo bay for their return to Earth. The total duration of the walk was 6 hours and 39 minutes. Stott says that it was “neat” to see the station from both the outside and from the inside. She also enjoyed being inside while others were spacewalking. She loved hearing them “clanking around” as they moved along the hull of the station.

Stott lifted off on the Space Shuttle Discovery as part of the crew of STS-133. Photo Credit: Jason Rhian / SpaceFlight Insider

During the August 2009 flight, Stott and her Expedition 21 crew-mate, Jeff Williams, participated in the “First Tweetup in Space ”. It was not the instant Twitter most of us use every day; it was more of an e-mail process, a much slower and more labor intensive process. The process involved e-mailing down the tweets on whatever downlink time they had, and then it required the help of ground personnel to relay the information – tweeting it out. She returned home on Space Shuttle Atlantis (STS-129) after 90 days and 10 hours in orbit.

On February 24, 2011, Stott returned to space on STS-133 (an ISS assembly flight ULF5). It was the 133rd mission in NASA’s Shuttle program and Space Shuttle Discovery‘s 39th and final mission. During the 12 day, 19 hour mission, the Space Shuttle Discovery docked with the International Space Station. Along with other supplies and equipment, this flight carried the humanoid robot Robonaut 2 (also known as R2).

Dr. Stott said that spending so much time on the station on her prior mission, made the second mission, as a mission specialist, “a return home”. It allowed her to spend more time enjoying the view. Her fond memories of this mission included being on the flight deck during launch and landing. Being able to see out the windows made her more connected with the experience than when previously sitting at the mid-deck.

Stott was a mission specialist on the final flight of Discovery, STS-133. Photo Credit: NASA

Dr. Nicole Stott is married with a one 12 year old son, who has “a lot of attitude”. His name is Roman. She says Roman “gets it”, he understands that his Mom is out there doing cool stuff in space. Dr. Stott has participated in a number of class programs and, when speaking to her son’s class, her son would take over and tell the class what she did, sometimes, according to Mom: “… better than me!” Dr. Stott seemed to really enjoy seeing how much he understood of what his Mom was doing. So will we see Roman Stott in space someday? Maybe, if they need a veterinarian in space (his current interest). She would love to see him go into space if that is what he wants to do.

Dr.Stott hopes that the United States will “take it to the limit” with the space station and that we need to be living on the Moon someday: “[T]he Moon is like our own little personal space station, perfectly placed there for us. We should take advantage of it […], there is no reason that we should not be living underneath the surface of the Moon.” She hopes that today’s children, like Roman, will be able to experience walking on the Moon or Mars. “We need to continue our human pursuit of space.”

Dr. Stott is still on active status supporting the space station operations and working the Commercial Crew Program, and also helping out with Orion landing and recovery. As part of her work on Orion, she attended the Orion Test Launch at the Kennedy Space Center on Dec. 5, 2014, and said, “It was beautiful.”

She hopes someday to bring along the family and come to visit the Space Shuttle Discovery in its Washington area home at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Chantilly, Virginia. When she does, we hope we will be able to spend more time with this very amazing woman and veteran of space flight.

Stott has so far spent more than 100 days on orbit, as part of shuttle and Expedition crews to the ISS. Photo Credit: NASA

This series was originally written by USA in Space for SpaceFlight Insider and was edited and published by SpaceFlight Insider.  It is republished here with their permission.

Women In Space: In The Beginning…

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Although most Americans believe that Sally Ride was the first woman in space – in fact, she was not even the second. Photo Credit: NASA

J.D. TAYLOR
APRIL 27, 2015

On April 12, 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man to orbit the Earth. Although most Americans associate women in space with shuttle astronaut Sally Ride, the simple fact of the matter is that the first woman to travel into the blackness of space was Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova who roared aloft on her Vostok 6 spacecraft on June 16, 1963 – 20 years prior to Sally Ride’s first flight on Space Shuttle Challenger in June of 1983.

Sally Ride was launched on the STS-7, the seventh shuttle mission to take to the skies and became the first American woman, but not the first woman in space. Some had dismissed Tereshkova’s accomplishments because it was said that she had never taken manual control of the spacecraft during the flight. However, Tereshkova had made two attempts to bring the spacecraft into the correct attitude for a simulated re-entry engine firing, which had been scheduled during the second orbit of Vostok 6, but she had failed to do so because, at her own admission, she was not able to reach the controls; consequently, the spacecraft kept drifting from its intended path.

If the automated attitude control had failed, then failure to control the spacecraft manually could have potentially prevented it from accomplishing a deorbiting maneuver. Despite the probability of such a scenario being low, Sergei Korolev, Soviet chief rocket engineer, was reported to have been irritated; apparently, he conversed with her during the 38th orbit. Tereshkova radioed: “Don’t worry, I’ll do it all in the morning.”

Nevertheless, Tereshkova had completed 48 orbits and almost three days – 2 days, 22 hours, 50 minutes – in space, which was more than the flight-time of all the American astronauts, at the time, put together.

Tereshkova’s flight was noted by the Soviet Premier at the time, Nikita Khrushchev, as proof that women were certainly not the weaker sex. It came at a time in the West when women’s roles were beginning to change. However, despite the progress that women’s rights achieved in the sixties – it would take some time for NASA to catch up.

Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space during the Vostok 6 mission, which lifted off in June 1963. Photo Credit: Commons / Ria Novosti

Two days prior on June 14, 1963, cosmonaut Valery Bykovsky launched into space in his Vostok 5 capsule and was still orbiting the Earth when Tereshkova launched. Bykovsky returned to Earth on June 19, after 82 orbits and almost 5 days – 4 days, 23 hours, 6 minutes – in space. The two spacecraft were somewhat close at certain points in the mission – approximately three miles (5 km) separating the two.

For the United States, the first man in space was Alan Shepard, who on May 5, 1961, entered into space in his Freedom 7 spacecraft for a 15 minute, 28 second suborbital hop.

In the 1960s, NASA, like most organizations in the United States, was very much a “good old boy” organization run almost entirely by white males. Looking for the first astronauts, NASA put the word out among military pilots that they were looking for those with the “right stuff”, which, at the time, had left women out because there were no female military pilots. The rationale behind the “right stuff” attitude was the primary select-in criterion for military pilots as possible astronaut material: that they were “battle hardened” and, therefore, could be relied upon to keep a cool head under a stressful situation – hence “the right stuff”.

More than 508 service records were reviewed; 110 were found to meet the minimum requirements. This list of names included five Marines, 47 Navy men, and 58 Air Force pilots. Several Army pilots’ records had been reviewed earlier, but none was a graduate of a test pilot school – a key stipulation to be considered. Through more selection and a battery of medical tests, they narrowed it down to seven who would go on to become NASA’s first astronauts and carry out the first flights under Project Mercury – and beyond.

Dr. William Randolph “Randy” Lovelace II helped to design many of the tests used in the selection process of the first male astronauts and helped to create the profile of what was considered to be the “perfect” astronaut. Dr. Lovelace and Brig. General Donald Flickinger wondered that if they applied the same standards, would women also have the “right stuff”. They invited award-winning pilot Geraldyn “Jerrie” Cobb to undergo the same three-phase physical testing regimen, which had been formulated for the male astronauts, at the Lovelace Foundation for Medical Education and Research in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

She had passed.

Jerrie Cobb stands in front of a model of a Mercury capsule. Photo Credit: NASA

So in 1960, Lovelace’s Woman in Space Program (WISP ) was started. It was a privately-funded project, sponsored by racing pilot and businesswoman Jacqueline Cochran.

Twenty-five women were selected for the program and that was narrowed down to 13. Known as the “Mercury Thirteen”, the women had participated in and had passed the very same Phase I (only Jerrie Cobb had passed all three) physical and psychological tests that were used to select the original male astronauts.

In his opinion, Lovelace stated that some of these women were, in fact, as much, if not more, qualified as the men that were selected.

So was NASA ready to take women as serious candidates for the astronaut program? “No!”, was the emphatic answer.

There were many excuses given, but some had believed that if a female astronaut were to die during a mission that the public would call for an end to the fledgling space program there and then.

It would be almost 20 years before another woman would return to space.

Despite claims by some politically-motivated individuals in the media, there never was a NASA program to even investigate the possibility of whether women could undergo the preliminary screening processes for astronaut selection. The activity was only a private one advocated by a doctor who was an independent consultant to NASA on astronaut selection.

In 1972, NASA began the Shuttle Program and finally NASA was ready to include women.

NASA set out to recruit new candidates, but found that women and ethnic minorities were not applying. Many said that they had not applied because, after more than two decades of discrimination, they did not believe that the agency really wanted them.

Star Trek’s Nichelle Nichols played a part in encouraging women and ethnic minorities to apply to become astronauts as part of NASA’s Shuttle Program. Photo Credit: Bill Ingalls / NASA

Therefore, in the late 1970s, NASA employed Nichelle Nichols to help recruit female and ethnic minority astronaut candidates. Nichols, an African-American woman, played a leading role on the original Star Trek television show, the part of communications officer “Uhura” aboard the starship Enterprise. It seemed like that she had the “right stuff” and would be a good recruiter – and she was.

Nichols traveled the country, speaking at universities and other educational venues. She encouraged women and ethnic minorities to apply for astronaut positions at NASA. Among those who credit Nichols for their applying to the space agency were Sally Ride and Charles Bolden – the current NASA Administrator. About 12,000 people had applied for “Astronaut Group 8”, which was whittled down to 35 people. The Group 8 would be the first astronaut group to include women (6 in total).

The Soviet Union, later Russia, looked to have had the lead in terms of equality; however, the nation has only launched a handful of female astronauts since 1963. Photo Credit: Bill Ingalls / NASA

NASA had selected all six as their first female astronaut candidates in January of 1978, allowing them to enroll in a training program that they had completed in August 1979. They all went to space and contributed, or are still contributing, to the space program today. Among these first six women included a few “firsts” in terms of space exploration:

Kathryn D. Sullivan: The first American woman to perform an Extravehicular Activity (EVA).

Anna Fisher: Flew on shuttle mission STS-51A (stay tuned for an upcoming SFI Women in Space article with Fisher).

Shannon Lucid: The first American woman to make a long-duration spaceflight and the first mother to be hired as an astronaut.

The Group 8 also included the first American active-duty astronauts to marry – Robert “Hoot” Gibson and Rhea Seddon. Of course, this group included Sally Ride, the first American woman in space.

Ride was actually the third woman in space. Just a few months prior to Ride’s flight, the Soviet Union launched cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya into space on Aug. 19, 1982, on the Soyuz T-7 spacecraft. Savitskaya was also the first woman to fly to a space station (Salyut 7), the first woman to perform a spacewalk (on a later flight in July 25, 1984), and the first woman to make two spaceflights.

It looked as if the Soviet Union (now Russia) would be the leaders of equality in space, but that was not to be. Since these two women, Russia has only had two additional female cosmonauts.

Russia and the United States are not alone in including women in their space exploration efforts.

Other nationalities have also sent women to work in space; these include: China (with 2), Canada (2), United Kingdom (1), Japan (2), France (1), Republic of Korea (1), and Italy (1). The United States is currently in the lead in terms of incorporating women into its crews with 60 astronauts, and also it has more women that are in training.

Overall, women account for only about 10 percent of the overall people who went into space, but they have made a lasting impact on the roles of human space endeavors and have proven Dr. Lovelace’s assertion that women may also have the “right stuff”.

As the United States gets away from relying on Russia to provide “manned” or should we say “human” transport to space, the number of astronauts and women going into space will rise.

Today, Samantha Cristoforetti is an integral part of the Expedition 43 crew. Her presence there is viewed as nothing out of the ordinary. Photo Credit: NASA

This series was originally written by USA in Space for SpaceFlight Insider and was edited and published by SpaceFlight Insider.  It is republished here with their permission.

 

Orbital Sciences announces date for ISS Commercial Resupply Services Mission (Orb-3) Launch

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Launch Date: No Earlier Than October 20, 2014
Launch Site: MARS Pad 0A at NASA Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, VA

 

IMG_6716-MOTION

Information provided by Orbital Sciences Corporation:

Mission Overview

Designated the “Orb-3” or “#ORB3” for Twitter, it will be the fourth Orbital Science “Cygnus cargo mission” to the ISS and the fifth Antares launch in the last 18 months. A two-stage Antares rocket carrying Orbital’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft is scheduled to lift-off from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops Island, Virginia on Pad-0A.  The current schedule is for “no earlier than October 20, 2014” with a targeted launch time for the 20th of 9:29 pm (EST) reaching the International Space Station (ISS) approximately 3 days later. After separation from Antares, the Cygnus spacecraft will deploy its solar arrays and undergo initial check-out. The spacecraft will bring itself within 4 km (about 2.5 miles) of the ISS prior to receiving authorization to autonomously rendezvous with the station. When the vehicle approaches to within 12 meters (about 50 ft), the ISS will use it’s robotic arm to grapple Cygnus and berth it to the Harmony node of the station. Cygnus is planned to remain connect to the ISS for approximately five weeks during while the station crew unloads supplies and reloads it with materials for disposal. After Cygnus departs the station, it will reenter the Earth’s atmosphere. For this mission Cygnus will carry approximately 2,290 kg (5,050 lbs.) of cargo to the ISS for NASA.

Viewing the Launch

The Orb-3 launch will be viable from much of the east coast on the US and  will be broadcast live on NASA TV. .

For more information:

Orbital Antares Web Page
Orbital Antares Fact Sheet
Orbital Cygnus Fact Sheet
Orbital COTS/CRS Fact Sheet
NASA Commercial Space Transportation Web Site