ISS Progress 37 Launches to Space Station

The ISS Progress 37 cargo carrier launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Wednesday at 12:15 p.m. EDT.

Scheduled to dock at the International Space Station Saturday, the unmanned Progress spaceship is loaded with 2.6 tons of food, fuel, oxygen, propellant and supplies for the Expedition 23 crew.

The Progress is similar in appearance and some design elements to the Soyuz spacecraft, which brings crew members to the station, serves as a lifeboat while they are there and returns them to Earth. The aft module, the instrumentation and propulsion module, is nearly identical.

But the second of the three Progress sections is a refueling module, and the third, uppermost as the Progress sits on the launch pad, is a cargo module. On the Soyuz, the descent module, where the crew is seated on launch and which returns them to Earth, is the middle module and the third is called the orbital module.

The ISS Progress 35 that undocked from the station’s Pirs docking compartment April 22 was deorbited Tuesday as its engines fired for a final time at 2:05 p.m., sending the craft to a destructive re-entry over the Pacific Ocean.

first Imager full-disk infrared image of the Earth

Operational Environmental Satellite – GOES-15 – took its first Imager full-disk infrared image of the Earth on April 26 starting at 1730 UTC (1:30 p.m. EDT). Each of the five Imager spectral bands are shown. There is one visible band and four infrared bands (shortwave window, water vapor, longwave window and a CO2 sensitive band)

The Sounder is another instrument on GOES-15 which also took Infrared images of the Earth. The Sounder is designed to provide data from which atmospheric temperature and moisture profiles, surface and cloud-top temperatures, and ozone distribution can be deduced by mathematical analysis.

GOES-15 also provides visible images of Earth. On April 6, GOES-15 captured its first visible image of Earth.

Planck Sees a Cold and Stormy Orion

The big hunter in the sky is seen in a new light by Planck, a European Space Agency mission with significant NASA participation. The long-wavelength image shows most of the constellation Orion, highlighting turbid clouds of cold material, where new stars are being stirred into existence.

The Planck mission is busy surveying the whole sky at longer wavelengths of light than we can see with our eyes, ranging from infrared to even longer-wavelength microwaves. It is collecting ancient light, from the very beginning of time, to learn more about the birth and fate of our universe. In the process, the mission is gathering data on our Milky Way galaxy that astronomers are using to see through cold pools of gas and dust, which block visible-light views of star formation.

Robotics Work Station Relocation and Station Reboost for Crew

The cupola, attached to the International Space Station’s Tranquility node, received a new Robotics Work Station (RWS) on Friday. Flight Engineers Tracy Caldwell Dyson and Soichi Noguchi detached the RWS from its original home inside the Destiny laboratory then installed it inside the cupola. The first major task for the RWS from the cupola will be in May when it will be used to install the Rassvet Mini Research Module-1 delivered by space shuttle Atlantis during STS-132.

Expedition 23 Commander and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kotov downlinked live video and audio of the treadmill while it was operating inside the Zvezda service module. Kotov identified unusual sounds and motion coming from the treadmill and was working with ground controllers to see if there was a problem. Ground controllers determined everything was nominal but continued to analyze the issue.

With American and Russian spacecraft coming and going to the station over the next two months, the docked ISS Progress 36 supply craft fired its engines on Friday afternoon to raise the orbiting laboratory to the proper altitude.

The ISS Progress 35 undocked from the Pirs Docking Compartment on Thursday after being loaded with trash and other unneeded gear and equipment. The Progress will be used for scientific experiments until it is deorbited and burned up in the Earth's atmosphere next week.

Crew Prepares for ISS Progress 35 Undocking

The Expedition 23 crew members aboard the International Space Station were busy Wednesday preparing for the undocking of the ISS Progress 35 supply ship. They also performed routine station maintenance and worked with science experiments.

The unmanned Progress cargo resupply vehicle is scheduled to undock at 12:32 p.m. EDT Thursday from the Pirs docking compartment. Filled with trash and station discarded items, the cargo craft will deorbit and burn up in the Earth's atmosphere.

ISS Progress 35 arrived at the station Oct. 17 after launching Oct. 14 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Commander Oleg Kotov and Flight Engineers Alexander Skvortsov and Mikhail Kornienko tested the Russian telerobotically operated rendezvous system, TORU, which they can use to monitor the Progress undocking or take control of the process in the unlikely event that difficulties arise with the automated Kurs system.

The Russians also performed maintenance on the Treadmill Vibration Isolation System (TVIS). The TVIS is an important part of the exercise regimen aboard the station. Each crew member exercises for 2.5 hours daily to stave off the effects of long-term exposure to weightlessness.

Meanwhile, Flight Engineer Soichi Noguchi inspected hatch seals around the station. He also worked with the Reaction Self Test experiment that helps monitor the daily effects of living in space.

Space shuttle Discovery descended to a smooth landing Tuesday at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to conclude the STS-131 mission that brought 7.6 tons of supplies and equipment to the station, including a new crew sleeping quarters, a new ammonia tank, a new gyroscope and four experiment racks.

Discovery and the STS-131 mission crew

Discovery Lands in Florida

With Commander Alan G. Poindexter and Pilot James P. Dutton Jr. at the controls, space shuttle Discovery descended to a smooth landing at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The STS-131 crew members concluded their successful mission to the International Space Station when the shuttle touched down at 9:08 a.m. EDT.

Discovery arrived at the station April 7, delivering more than seven tons of equipment and supplies. During the 10-day stay, Mission Specialists Rick Mastracchio and Clayton Anderson conducted three spacewalks to install a 1,700-pound ammonia tank assembly on the station’s exterior to replace a depleted predecessor. They also replaced a rate gyro assembly, retrieved a Japanese experiment and two debris shields.

Space Shuttle Discovery Undocks from Station

The Expedition 23 crew and the STS-131 crew of space shuttle Discovery parted company Saturday at 8:52 a.m., wrapping up a mission that brought 7.6 tons of supplies and equipment to the International Space Station, including a new crew sleeping quarters, a new ammonia tank, a new gyroscope and four experiment racks.

Artist's conception of the GOES-13

The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite known as GOES-13 became the official GOES-EAST satellite on April 14, 2010. GOES-13 was moved from on-orbit storage and into active duty. It is perched 22,300 miles above the equator to spot potentially life-threatening weather, including tropical storm activity in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.

"Just in time for the 2010 hurricane season, NOAA will have one of its newest, technologically advanced satellites closely tracking these storms – from when they develop to when they dissipate," said Mary Kicza, assistant administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Satellite and Information Service in Silver Spring, Md.

NASA's GOES Project, located at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., procures and manages the development and launch of the GOES series of satellites for NOAA on a cost-reimbursable basis. NASA's GOES Project also creates some of the GOES satellite images and GOES satellite imagery animations. NOAA manages the operational environmental satellite program and establishes requirements, provides all funding and distributes environmental satellite data for the United States.

"It is exciting to think that we are now putting into service the best satellites this country has to offer," said Andre' Dress, GOES N-P NASA Deputy Project Manager, at Goddard. "We are really looking forward to see the increase in performance over the older satellites and the improvements in weather prediction."

There are two GOES satellites that cover weather conditions in the U.S. and they are positioned over the eastern and western U.S. The satellite in the GOES EAST position covers weather on the eastern side of the continental U.S., including the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. The GOES WEST position covers the western half of the U.S. and the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

Transfer of Leonardo to Continue Friday

Fri, 16 Apr 2010 04:27:16 AM GMT+0530 Leonardo was unberthed at 4:24 p.m. EDT, about seven hours later than planned. The crew then used the station’s robotic arm to maneuver the module into position above Discovery’s payload bay. Leonardo will remain in this “low hover” position overnight, and the crew will spend about an hour and a half finishing the job of using Canadarm2 to latch it in the shuttle’s cargo bay on Friday.

The delay in removing Leonardo resulted in a later-than-planned bedtime for the crew, which will be allowed to sleep in for about an hour later until 1:21 a.m. Friday.

Final STS-131 Spacewalk Complete

Final Spacewalk for STS-131 Completed, Cargo Transfers Continue

Spacewalkers Rick Mastracchio and Clayton Anderson completed the third and final spacewalk of the STS-131 mission at 8:38 a.m. EDT. They finished the installation of a new ammonia tank for the International Space Station’s cooling systems during the 6-hour, 24-minute excursion.

The spacewalk was replanned because of some difficulties bolting down the new ammonia tank on Sunday. Mastracchio wore a suit with red stripes around the legs and Anderson wore an unmarked suit. Mission Specialist Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger coordinated the spacewalk from inside the complex.

Transfer activities resumed inside the station. With about three-quarters of the science rack, equipment, food and supply moves complete, the shuttle and station crews are working to get all the items into their final locations.

Spacewalkers "Camping Out" in Airlock

Tue, 13 Apr 2010 01:26:13 AM GMT+0530

Mission Specialists Rick Mastracchio and Clayton Anderson configured their tools in the Quest airlock. After a review of spacewalk procedures with other crew members, they are again spending the night in the airlock, its pressure reduced to 10.2 psi. That campout is aimed at reducing the nitrogen in their blood to avoid decompression sickness.

The third and final STS-131 spacewalk is scheduled to begin at 3:11 a.m. EDT Tuesday and last 6.5 hours. Activities include finishing the complicated change out of the large ammonia tank assembly, retrieving micrometeoroid shields from outside the airlock and retrieving a light-weight adapter plate assembly.

First STS-131 Spacewalk Complete

Spacewalkers Rick Mastracchio and Clay Anderson completed a six-hour, 27-minute spacewalk at 7:58 a.m. EDT. The pair finished all the primary jobs they were assigned and a few “get ahead” tasks that were added to their timeline.

This was the first of three STS-131 spacewalks, the 234th conducted by U.S. astronauts, and the second Mastracchio and Anderson have conducted together. It was the 141st in support of International Space Station assembly and maintenance, totaling 879 hours, 43 minutes. It was the 113th spacewalk out of the space station, totaling 692 hours, 28 minutes.

Mastracchio’s four spacewalks total 24 hours, 40 minutes and Anderson’s four spacewalks total 24 hours, 38 minutes.

NASA Television airs a Mission Status Briefing at 10:30 a.m. with STS-131 Lead Space Station Flight Director Ron Spencer and STS-131 Lead Spacewalk Officer David Coan.

Transfers and Spacewalk Preps Keep Crews Busy

It was moving day aboard the International Space Station as the Leonardo Multipurpose Logistics Module was relocated from Discovery’s payload bay to a port on the Harmony node at 12:24 a.m. EDT Thursday.

The Italian-built module’s more than 17,000 pounds of cargo includes four experiment racks along with the final private crew quarters. This is the final roundtrip to the station for the 21-foot-long, 15-foot-diameter Leonardo. Once back on Earth, the module will be reconfigured with increased shielding on the outside for the STS-133 mission in September when it will be left on the station as a permanent module.

Shuttle Docks With Station

The International Space Station is seen from the centerline camera system inside space shuttle Discovery's orbiter docking system.

Space shuttle Discovery and the STS-131 crew docked with the International Space Station at 3:44 a.m. EDT Wednesday. After a series of leak checks between the vehicles the crew opened the hatches and joined Expedition 23 aboard the outpost at 5:11 a.m. Discovery is delivering new science racks and ammonia tanks. While there, two shuttle astronauts will perform three spacewalks to switch out ammonia tanks on the station.

Several “firsts” in the space business occurred with hatch opening: the first time four women have been aboard the same spacecraft during a mission and the first time two Japanese astronauts have been aboard the space station simultaneously.

For the latest news and information on the STS-131 mission, visit the main shuttle page.

Shuttle Crew Checks Out Heat Shield, Prepares for Docking

The Discovery astronauts used much of their workday checking out the shuttle’s thermal protection system and preparing for the scheduled early Wednesday docking with the International Space Station.

Mission Specialists Rick Mastracchio and Clayton Anderson spent more than three hours before their lunch break getting their spacesuits ready for transfer to the station. They are scheduled to do three 6.5-hour spacewalks during Discovery’s stay at the orbiting laboratory.

Fellow crew members, Commander Alan G. Poindexter, Pilot James P. Dutton Jr. and Mission Specialists Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, Stephanie Wilson and Japanese astronaut Naoko Yamazaki, rotated on the three-member team doing the heat shield checkout. They used the shuttle’s robotic arm and its Orbiter Boom Sensor System extension to look at the Reinforced Carbon-Carbon on the spacecraft’s nose and wing leading edges, and some of its heat-resistant tiles.

Because of a problem with Discovery’s Ku-Band antenna system, used for high-data-rate communications and radar, they recorded their survey on tape. The data will be transmitted to experts on the ground using the station’s Ku-Band system. Pilot astronauts are trained in rendezvous and docking without radar.

The station’s Expedition 23 crew, Russian Commander Oleg Kotov and Russian Flight Engineers Alexander Skvortsov and Mikhail Kornienko, Japan’s Soichi Noguchi and NASA Flight Engineers T.J. Creamer and Tracy Caldwell Dyson, are to welcome Discovery’s astronauts after their Wednesday morning docking.

3-2-1 and Liftoff of GOES-P

The Delta IV carrying GOES-P lifted off at 6:57 p.m. EST from Launch Complex 37B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

After reaching orbit, GOES-P will become GOES-15. The satellite will be used to monitor and predict weather, measure ocean temperatures, perform climate studies, and detect hazards with its emergency beacon support and Search and Rescue Transponder.

New Crew Members En Route to Station

Three new Expedition 23 flight engineers launched aboard a Soyuz spacecraft at 12:04 a.m. EDT Friday to join their colleagues aboard the International Space Station.

The Soyuz TMA-18 spacecraft carrying NASA astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson and Russian cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Mikhail Kornienko lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to begin a two-day journey to the orbiting complex

Fermi Maps an Active Galaxy's 'Smokestack Plumes'

Fermi's Large Area Telescope resolved high-energy gamma rays from an extended region around the active galaxy Centaurus A. The emission corresponds to million-light-year-wide radio-emitting gas thrown out by the galaxy's supersized black hole. This inset shows an optical/gamma-ray composite of the galaxy and its location on the Fermi one-year sky map.

If our eyes could see radio waves, the nearby galaxy Centaurus A (Cen A) would be one of the biggest and brightest objects in the sky, nearly 20 times the apparent size of a full moon. What we can't see when looking at the galaxy in visible light is that it lies nestled between a pair of giant radio-emitting gas plumes ejected by its supersized black hole. Each plume is nearly a million light-years long.

NASA's Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope maps gamma rays, radiation that typically packs 100 billion times the energy of radio waves. Nevertheless, and to the surprise of many astrophysicists, Cen A's plumes show up clearly in the satellite's first 10 months of data. The study appears in Thursday's edition of Science Express.