Launches

By | March 10, 2008 | Satellite News Feed

Space Shuttle Endeavour To Launch At 2:28 A.M. Tomorrow Morning

Space Shuttle Endeavour is poised on Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center to lift off at 2:28 a.m. tomorrow morning on the STS-123 mission to the International Space Station, blazing skyward through a darkened sky.

The NASA management team green-lighted the launch, as the countdown continued to roll smoothly.

LeRoy Cain, chair for the team, stated that the countdown to liftoff is proceeding smoothly. "I’m happy to report that the mission management team is not working any issues or constraints to launch," Cain said.

Earlier this morning, the gantry-like rotating service structure, which provides easy access and weather protection for Endeavour, was retracted.

The current weather forecast calls for only a 10 percent chance that atmospheric conditions will delay the launch, with the primary concern coming from a slight chance of a low cloud ceiling around Kennedy.

The flight is commanded by Dominic Gorie with Gregory H. Johnson serving as Pilot. The crew also includes Mission Specialists Rick Linnehan, Robert L. Behnken, Mike Foreman, Garrett Reisman and Japanese astronaut Takao Doi.

The crew will deliver the first section of the Japanese-built Kibo laboratory and the Canadian Space Agency’s two-armed robotic system called Dextre.

Illustrating the vigorous work pace at Kennedy, the scheduled Endeavour launch is just roughly three weeks after the last shuttle, Atlantis, returned from the STS-122 mission to the space station that saw installation of the giant European Columbus laboratory on the artificial moon.

NASA has set a challenging manifest of shuttle missions before the shuttle fleet is to retire in October 2010. Only the shuttles have the power and size to haul huge structural components into orbit to complete construction of the space station as it orbits in space.

European Robotic Cargo Spaceship ATV Launched By Ariane 5; Craft Becomes New Supply Line For International Space Station

The European Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) was launched by an Ariane 5 rocket and established contact with Earth, providing a new means for supplying the International Space Station.

The robotic freighter will help to fill the void that will be created once the U.S. space shuttle fleet stops flying at a mandated cutoff in October 2010, until the next- generation American spaceship Orion-Ares begins manned spaceflights in 2015.

Another type of robotic cargo craft, the Russian Progress vehicle, already is supplying the space station.

That Ariane 5 lifted off from the European spaceport in French Guiana, South America.

The European Space Agency (ESA) reported that the launch was flawless, except that the on-board computers detected a slight difference in pressure between the oxidizer and the fuel that composes the propellant.

This caused the ATV to immediately switch over to the second of four propulsion chains, as it is designed to do, according to the ESA.

Engineers at the Control Centre in Toulouse and at the prime contractor facility of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co.-Astrium in Les Mureaux are evaluating and analyzing data from the spacecraft and assessing the consequences, if any, in the immediate planning.

The ATV is the first spacecraft in the world designed to conduct automated docking in full compliance with the very tight safety constraints imposed by human spaceflight operations, according to ESA, and is now well on its way to its rendezvous with the International Space Station in early April.

Arianespace described the role of the Ariane 5 in the launch.

ATV is the largest single payload ever orbited by Ariane 5, weighing more than 19,000 kilograms, or 20.94 tons.

With this mission, the Ariane 5 and its Spaceport launch site joined the limited "club" that supports operations for the space station, Arianespace observed.

The flight was the first for an Ariane 5 ES, in a rocket family whose EPS storable propellant upper stage performed two in-flight burns to deploy the ATV into its targeted circular orbit.

Ariane 5 ES vehicles will be used during the next several years to orbit the eight other ATVs currently on the Arianespace order book, and this launcher version also is capable of lofting Galileo satellites for Europe’s new Galileo space-based navigation system, according to Arianespace.

Its Chairman and CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall said the ATV mission will be followed next month by a heavy-lift Ariane 5 ECA flight with the Star One C2 and VINASAT-1.

In total, Arianespace plans seven missions for 2008, marking the highest annual level of launch activity for Ariane 5 since its commercial service entry in 1999.

The Ariane 5 ES mission lasted just over 1 hour and six minutes. During its first phase, the rocket climbed away from the spaceport on the power of its cryogenic core stage and two solid rocket boosters.

The boosters were jettisoned at about two minutes after launch, with the cryogenic core stage operating for seven more minutes.

The upper stage then performed its initial propulsive phase lasting approximately eight minutes, reaching an intermediate orbit. The second ignition, which occurred some 45 minutes later, was followed by a 30-second burn that circularized the orbit at 260 kilometers (161.6 miles) and positioned the EPS upper stage for its successful deployment of ATV.

The ATV carries propellant, oxygen, equipment, systems, food and water for the space station and its crew. Once docked to the facility, this resupply spacecraft also will be able to use its own propulsion system to increase the space station’s altitude to overcome the effects of drag as it orbits the Earth.

Although the ATV was launched unmanned, its preparation at the Spaceport followed all of the procedures for a human-rated spacecraft, as it will become a part of the space station that is visited by crewmembers during its cargo unloading and other operations.

Prime contractor for the ATV is Astrium, which also has the lead industrial role for Ariane 5. The ATV was developed in a multinational program under direction of the European Space Agency.

With the Ariane 5 ES/ATV mission now completed, the attention turns to Arianespace’s next flight, which is scheduled for mid-April.

This mission will use the heavy-lift Ariane 5 ECA version to orbit Star One C2 for Brazilian operator Star One, and VINASAT-1 for the Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Corp.

VINASAT-1 was delivered to the Spaceport Friday, and is now ready to begin its final pre-launch verifications. Built by Lockheed Martin Corp. unit Commercial Space Systems, VINASAT-1 is the first satellite system ever procured by Vietnam.

It will join the Thales Alenia Space-built Star One C2 satellite on Ariane 5’s upcoming dual-payload mission. Star One C2 arrived at the Spaceport on Feb. 25, and is continuing its checkout in the launch site’s clean room facilities.

In addition to the upcoming Ariane 5 mission with Star One C2 and VINASAT-1, Arianespace’s Starsem affiliate is targeting an April 27 launch with its Soyuz vehicle to orbit GIOVE-B for Europe’s Galileo space-based navigation system. This mission is to be Starsem’s 21st commercial flight with Soyuz, and will be launched from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome.

Launch Schedule

2008

Date: March 11

Mission: STS-123

Launch Vehicle: Space Shuttle Endeavour

Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center – Launch Pad 39A

Launch Time: 2:28 a.m. EDT

Description: Mission STS-123 on Space Shuttle Endeavour will deliver the Kibo Japanese Experiment Logistics Module – Pressurized Section (ELM-PS) on the twenty-fifth mission to the International Space Station.

Date: May 16

Mission: GLAST

Launch Vehicle: United Launch Alliance Delta II

Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station – Launch Complex 17 – Pad 17-B

Launch Window: 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. EDT

Description: An heir to its successful predecessor — the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory — the Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope will have the ability to detect gamma rays in a range of energies from thousands to hundreds of billions of times more energetic than the light visible to the human eye. Radiation of such magnitude can only be generated under the most extreme conditions, thus GLAST will focus on studying the most energetic objects and phenomena in the universe.

Date: May 25 +

Mission: STS-124

Launch Vehicle: Space Shuttle Discovery

Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center – Launch Pad 39A

Launch Time: 7:26 p.m. EDT

Description: Space Shuttle Discovery on mission STS-124 will transport the Kibo Japanese Experiment Module – Pressurized Module (JEM-PM) and the Japanese Remote Manipulator System (JEM-RMS) to the International Space Station.

Date: June 15

Mission: OSTM

Launch Vehicle: United Launch Alliance Delta II

Launch Site: Vandenberg Air Force Base – Launch Pad SLC-2

Launch Time: 4:47 a.m. EDT/1:47 a.m. PDT

Description: The Ocean Surface Topography Mission on the Jason-2 satellite will be a follow-on to the Jason mission.

Date: July 15

Mission: IBEX

Launch Vehicle: Orbital Sciences Pegasus XL Rocket

Launch Site: Reagan Test Site, Kwajalein Atoll

Description: IBEX’s science objective is to discover the global interaction between the solar wind and the interstellar medium and will achieve this objective by taking a set of global energetic neutral atom images that will answer four fundamental science questions.

Date: Aug. 8 *

Mission: GOES-O

Launch Vehicle: United Launch Alliance Delta IV

Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station – Launch Complex 17

Description: NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are actively engaged in a cooperative program, the multimission Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite series N-P. This series will be a vital contributor to weather, solar and space operations, and science.

Date: Aug. 14 +

Mission: TacSat-3

Launch Vehicle: Orbital Sciences Minotaur Rocket

Launch Site: Wallops Flight Facility – Goddard Space Flight Center

Description: NASA will support the Air Force launch of the TacSat-3 satellite, managed by the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Vehicles Directorate. TacSat-3 will demonstrate the capability to furnish real-time data to the combatant commander. NASA Ames will fly a microsat and NASA Wallops will fly the CubeSats on this flight in addition to providing the launch range.

Date: Aug. 28 +

Mission: STS-125

Launch Vehicle: Space Shuttle Atlantis

Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center – Launch Pad 39A

Launch Time: 8:24 a.m. EDT

Description: Space Shuttle Atlantis will fly seven astronauts into space for the fifth and final servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. During the 11-day flight, the crew will repair and improve the observatory’s capabilities through 2013.

Date: Oct. 16 +

Mission: STS-126

Launch Vehicle: Space Shuttle Endeavour

Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center – Launch Pad 39A

Description: Space Shuttle Endeavour launching on assembly flight ULF2, will deliver a Multi-Purpose Logistics Module to the International Space Station.

Date: Oct. 28

Mission: LRO/LCROSS

Launch Vehicle: United Launch Alliance Atlas V

Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station – Launch Complex 41

Description: The mission objectives of the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite are to advance the Vision for Space Exploration by confirming the presence or absence of water ice in a permanently shadowed crater at either the Moon’s North or South Pole.

Date: Dec. 1 *

Mission: SDO

Launch Vehicle: United Launch Alliance Atlas V

Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station – Launch Complex 41

Description: The first Space Weather Research Network mission in the Living With a Star (LWS) Program of NASA.

Date: Dec. 4 +

Mission: STS-119

Launch Vehicle: Space Shuttle Discovery

Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center – Launch Pad 39A

Description: Space Shuttle Discovery launching on assembly flight 15A, will deliver the fourth starboard truss segment to the International Space Station.

Date: Dec. 15

Mission: OCO

Launch Vehicle: Orbital Sciences Taurus Rocket

Launch Site: Vandenberg Air Force Base – Launch Pad SLC 576-E

Description: The Orbiting Carbon Observatory is a new Earth orbiting mission sponsored by NASA’s Earth System Science Pathfinder Program.

2009

Date: Feb. 1

Mission: NOAA-N Prime

Launch Vehicle: United Launch Alliance Delta II

Launch Site: Vandenberg Air Force Base – Launch Pad SLC-2

Description: NOAA-N Prime is the latest polar-orbiting satellite developed by NASA/Goddard Spaceflight Center for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA uses two satellites, a morning and afternoon satellite, to ensure every part of the Earth is observed at least twice every 12 hours. NOAA-N will collect information about Earth’s atmosphere and environment to improve weather prediction and climate research across the globe.

Date: Feb. 16

Mission: Kepler

Launch Vehicle: United Launch Alliance Delta II

Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station – Launch Complex 17 – Pad 17-B

Description: The Kepler Mission, a NASA Discovery mission, is specifically designed to survey our region of the Milky Way galaxy to detect and characterize hundreds of Earth- size and smaller planets in or near the habitable zone.

Date: March 1

Mission: Glory

Launch Vehicle: Orbital Sciences Taurus Rocket

Launch Site: Vandenberg Air Force Base – Launch Pad SLC 576-E

Description: The Glory Mission will help increase our understanding of the Earth’s energy balance by collecting data on the properties of aerosols and black carbon in the Earth’s atmosphere and how the Sun’s irradiance affects the Earth’s climate.

Source: NASA

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