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Posts Tagged ‘shuttle’

More delays for Discovery shuttle launch

In Uncategorized on November 3, 2010 at 5:12 am

Astronauts take 1st spacewalk of shuttle mission

In Uncategorized on April 11, 2010 at 10:28 am

 A pair of spacewalking astronauts disconnected an old empty ammonia tank outside the International Space Station on Friday and got a new one ready to put in its place.


In the first of three spacewalks needed to complete the job, Clayton Anderson had no problem taking apart the ammonia lines on the old tank. But he needed a pry bar to remove the new tank out of space shuttle Discovery‘s payload bay. The tank got hung up on a bolt.


“Go nice and easy, Clay,” spacewalking partner Rick Mastracchio warned as Anderson pushed and prodded with the pry bar. After several tries, the tank finally came free. “We got it!” Anderson called out.


The two men lifted the 1,700-pound tank out of Discovery and handed it off to a robot arm, which maneuvered it to a temporary storage location at the space station.

In this image made from video and released by NASA, astronauts Rick Mastracchio, center, is seen preparing the external stowage platform on the International Space Station for the new ammonia tank during the first spacewalk on the International Space Station, Friday April 9, 2010

The actual swap-out of the two tanks will take place during the second spacewalk Sunday, with the entire effort wrapping up on the third and final outing Tuesday. It will be “a big juggle” with the tanks, said David Coan, Mission Control‘s lead spacewalk officer.


Besides the tank work, Mastracchio and Anderson collected a science experiment from the space station’s Japanese lab and replaced a failed station-positioning device.


Then the game plan changed. Instead of tackling battery work, they focused on hoses and clamps. Astronaut Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, directing the spacewalk from inside, urged the men to go slow because of the switch.


Mastracchio and Anderson were originally scheduled to work on old batteries on the far left end of the space station, along the sprawling power truss. But based on new findings, NASA canceled the task this week because of concern the two might get shocked. The job instead will be carried out on the next shuttle flight, once the spacesuits are better protected.


There were a few tense moments early in Friday morning’s spacewalk when Mastracchio reported that he bumped a large V-shaped bar in the shuttle payload bay and it was sliding around. He said it did not appear to be off its mooring. Mission Control later said engineers were “pretty convinced” it was normal for the clamp to move around a bit, but as a precaution, warned the spacewalkers to stay away from it.


The V-shaped bar serves as a guide for the cargo carrier that flew up on Discovery and was attached to the space station Thursday. The compartment was unloaded by some of the 11 astronauts inside, as the spacewalk unfolded 215 miles up.


As the 6 1/2-hour spacewalk drew to a successful close, Mastracchio noted there was lot more distance to cover, moving hand over hand, than the last time he worked on the space station in 2007. The orbiting outpost has grown considerably since then.


“Like a marathon with your arms,” Metcalf-Lindenburger observed.


After the spacewalkers were back inside, one of them joked, “Of course, she’s a former teacher, so we do exactly what she tells us, otherwise she might rap our hands with a ruler.” That prompted a big laugh from Metcalf-Lindenburger, one of only a few educator-astronauts.


Later in the day, as expected, mission managers approved a one-day flight extension for Discovery.


Discovery and its crew of seven will remain at the space station until April 17, a day longer than planned, because of the failure of the shuttle’s main antenna. NASA wants the shuttle astronauts to inspect their ship for any signs of micrometeorite damage before they depart. That way, all the laser images can be transmitted to Mission Control through the station.


That stretches the shuttle mission to 14 days, with a landing on April 19.


As for the inspection conducted the day after Monday’s liftoff, no significant launch damage was found in those images or in any of the other data, officials said.


Only three shuttle missions remain after this one to wrap up space station construction.

Source: SGGP

US envoy in shuttle diplomacy for settlement deal

In World on September 18, 2009 at 4:12 pm

JERUSALEM, Sept 18, 2009 (AFP) – US Middle East envoy George Mitchell was shuttling between Israeli and Palestinian leaders again on Friday, trying to wrest a deal on settlements ahead of the UN General Assembly next week.


The former US senator huddled for two hours with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem for a third time this week and was then to head to the West Bank for his second meeting in just days with president Mahmud Abbas.









US Middle East envoy George Mitchell (R) speaks with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit as they exit the presidential palace following a meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo on September 17, 2009 (AFP photo)


No statement was released at the end of the Netanyahu meeting, but Israeli sources said that Mitchell was due to return to Jerusalem for more talks after his meeting with Abbas.


In the meantime, Netanyahu was to meet with a handful of the most important ministers in his cabinet, they said.


Mitchell is aiming to get some kind of an Israeli moratorium on settlement construction that would be acceptable to the Palestinians and enable the resumption of peace talks that were suspended in late December amid a devastating Israeli offensive on Gaza.


An agreement on settlements could pave the way for a three-way meeting between Netanyahu, Abbas and US President Barack Obama at the UN General Assembly next week.


Netanyahu said late on Wednesday that it was far from clear whether such a meeting would take place.


“The three-way meeting has not been set yet. But I’ll go anyway and give my speech” at the General Assembly, he told reporters.


Mitchell has been in the region for nearly a week, urging all parties to “take responsibility” for peace amid US efforts to secure a comprehensive regional deal to resolve the decades-old Arab-Israeli conflict.


“The United States is asking all the parties, Israel, the Palestinians and Arab states to take responsibility for peace through actions that will help create a positive context for the relaunch of negotiations,” he said on Thursday after talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.


But he has faced an uphill task in the face of Israel’s refusal to cede to US demands that it freeze construction in settlements in the occupied West Bank including annexed east Jerusalem — a move on which the Palestinians insist in order to resume peace talks.


On Monday, Netanyahu repeated he had no intention of implementing a complete freeze, saying any halt would be temporary, would not extend to east Jerusalem and would exclude some 2,500 units already under construction.


Mitchell said at the start of his latest tour that the United States shared a “sense of urgency” for peace talks to resume before the end of September.


Standing in the way are Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian land — home to half a million Israelis, viewed as illegal by the international community and a key obstacle to reaching a peace deal.


Obama’s administration has been working towards a comprehensive peace package that would see Israel strike deals with the Palestinians, Syria and Lebanon, and Arab countries normalise relations with the Jewish state.


Israelis and Palestinians resumed negotiations in November 2007 after a nearly seven-year hiatus, but the talks made little visible progress and were suspended in late December after Israel launched its war in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.


Source: SGGP

Space shuttle Discovery lands safely in California

In World on September 13, 2009 at 3:17 am

The Discovery astronauts found sunny skies in California on Friday as they descended to a weather-delayed landing at Edwards Air Force Base to end a demanding two-week mission to the International Space Station.


Earlier in the day, thunderstorms twice prevented the seven astronauts from landing at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, a replay of the foul conditions on Thursday that kept the shuttle orbiting for an extra day.


Discovery discharged a pair of sonic booms as it soared across the California coast at the end of a high speed descent over the Pacific Ocean and touched down at the air base north of Los Angeles at 7:53 pm (0253 GMT Saturday).


“Welcome home, Discovery,” Mission Control radioed shuttle commander C.J. “Rick” Sturckow. “Congratulations on an extremely successful mission.”


Discovery will be hoisted atop a Boeing 747 jumbo jet and flown back to Kennedy late next week as a result of the stormy Florida weather, said Mike Moses, who chairs NASA’s mission management team. The cost of the cross country trip is about 1.8 million dollars.








The US space shuttle Discovery touches down in the Mojave Desert on September 11, at Edwards Air Force Base near Rosamond, California.

Discovery dropped off more than 18,000 pounds (8.1 tons) of supplies, life support gear and scientific equipment at the space station, leaving the space outpost better equipped to house crews of six astronauts as NASA prepares to retire its aging space shuttle fleet by early 2011.


A half-dozen shuttle missions remain, each intended to gradually bring the assembly of the 15-nation space station to an end.


“We’re pretty fat on supplies now, thanks to you,” space station resident Mike Barratt told the shuttle astronauts as they departed earlier this week. “We’re in better shape to carry out our work.”


Fellow American Tim Kopra, who ended a 58-day mission to the space station, was among those aboard Discovery.


“This experience has completely exceeded anything I thought it would it would be like, just in sights and sounds, the experiences,” said Kopra. “It’s been absolutely phenomenal.”


He was replaced on the station by Discovery astronaut Nicole Stott. She joins five Russian, European and Canadian astronauts. She will return aboard shuttle Atlantis, which is tentatively scheduled to launch on November 9 with a load of major external spare parts for the orbital base.


A first time space voyager, Stott has trained to capture Japan’s new HTV cargo capsule with the station’s robot arm as the unmanned supply ship coasts within 30 feet of the station.


The HTV was launched from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan on Thursday.


The Japanese supply craft, loaded with food, science experiments and other hardware, is expected to reach the station on September 17.


“That will be exciting for us,” Stott said this week. “The vehicle flies up, and we go to work with the big robot arm to pick it out of space — grab it! — bring it in and dock it to the station.”


The HTV is expected to lay a vital roll in the station’s future. As NASA retires the shuttle, it plans to turn to a pair of American commercial rocket companies to haul supplies to the orbital outpost. Both will rely on the same robot arm berthing technique that Japan’s HTV will initiate.


Discovery delivered a pair of major new science experiments that will enable the astronauts to study the behavior of metals, glasses and ceramics as they are heated and cooled in the absence of gravity.


A third new experiment enclosure, a refrigerator, will store blood and other medical specimens collected from the astronauts for studies on how they adapt physically to weightlessness.

During three spacewalks, Discovery’s crew upgraded an external cooling system. Spacewalkers also collected samples of materials that could be included in the fabrication of future spacecraft including a replacement for the shuttle.

The samples were left outside the station a year ago to determine how they would react to the space vacuum, the sun’s ultraviolet radiation and a reactive form of oxygen in the Earth’s upper atmosphere.

During the final outing, astronauts stretched power and data cables to prepare the outpost for one of its last habitable modules. The American furnished “Tranquility” module is scheduled for launching in early 2010.

Inside the outpost, the astronauts installed a new bedroom, replaced a failed piece of life support equipment that removes carbon dioxide from the breathing air and delivered an exercise treadmill named for Stephen Colbert, an American late night television host and satirist.


Source: SGGP