Archive for the ‘Russian Space Program’ Category

09/13/2022 – Ephemeris – SpaceX Crew-5 flight to the ISS will be commanded by first Native American female astronaut

September 13, 2022 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Tuesday, September 13th. Today the Sun will be up for 12 hours and 37 minutes, setting at 7:57, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:20. The Moon, 3 days past full, will rise at 9:38 this evening.

On or around October 3rd a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule will be launched to the International Space Station with an international crew of four with the first female Native American astronaut Nicole Mann as commander, pilot Josh Cassada, both NASA astronauts, Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, and Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina. Nicole Mann, a member of the Round Valley Indian Tribes of northern California, is also the first female commander of a Commercial Crew spacecraft. She was originally assigned to the Boeing CST-100 Starliner, but was transferred to the SpaceX Dragon due to the prolonged problems with the former vehicle. Crew 5 will be a part of Expeditions 67 and 68 on the International Space Station.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EDT, UT – 4 hours). They may be different for your location.


SpaceX Crew 5 Official Portrait

SpaceX Crew-5 Official Crew Portrait – Left to right: Anna Kikina, Josh Cassada, Nicole Mann and Koichi Wakata.

04/23/2013 – Ephemeris – Orbital Sciences enters the race to supply the International Space Station

April 23, 2013 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, April 23rd.  The sun rises at 6:44.  It’ll be up for 13 hours and 52 minutes, setting at 8:37.   The moon, 2 days before full, will set at 5:49 tomorrow morning.

Sunday afternoon the second winner in the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services or COTS competition held by NASA flew its first test flight.  Orbital Sciences Corporation, which has been in business since 1982 developed a new rocket for COTS, the Antares, named after the brightest red star in the constellation Scorpius.  It flew flawlessly launching a dummy payload into low earth orbit along with some cube-sats.  At least one of these tiny satellites is controlled, not by a specially built computer, but by an Android smart phone.  Smart phones are incredibly versatile, but can they stand the rigors and radiation of space?  And can they phone home?  Orbital will have another test launch later this year with test cargo to the International Space Station.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan.  They may be different for your location.


Orbital has been in the rocket and satellite business for just over 30 years.  As far as rockets go, their expertise was in solid fueled rockets.  The Antares is their first liquid fueled rocket first stage.  The first stage engines are re-manufactured Russian engines that were destined for the ill-fated Soviet N1 moon rocket engines.  The original engines were so unreliable that they couldn’t be tested and mounted on the rocket.  The tolerances of the pumps were so bad that they couldn’t be run again.  The design bureau for the N1 would order engines six at a time.  If two of the tested OK, they would use the other 4.  If one of the test engines failed, all the engines in that batch would be rejected.

The Russians marveled at the F-1 engines in the first stage of the Saturn V, which would be tested three times, including a full duration test before installed in the Saturn V first stage.  Still the same Russian engines were perfected to become an extremely reliable engine that Orbital is using on their Antares rockets.  United Launch Alliance also uses the same engines on their Atlas 5 rockets.  It’s rather ironic that the latest members of the Atlas family, that was first built as a weapon against the Soviets are using Russian engines.

Source for the Russian engines:  Rockets and People Volume 4, TheMoon Race by Boris Chertok, an ebook downloadable from NASA.

04/12/2013 – Ephemeris – Yuri’s Night

April 12, 2013 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, April 12th.  The sun will rise at 7:03.  It’ll be up for 13 hours and 20 minutes, setting at 8:23.   The moon, 2 days past new, will set at 11:00 this evening.

A special celebration has been sneaking into my consciousness: Yuri’s Night.  It is celebrated in many places around the world, including at NASA.  The closest celebration to us is in Ann Arbor. It is the anniversary of Yuri Gargarin’s, and mankind’s first orbital flight around the earth in 1961.  These are all in the nature of parties, talks and the like celebrating the beginning of humankind’s first steps into space.  Gargarin never flew in space again and tragically died in 1968 when his jet crashed.

NASA has released a series of ebooks about the Soviet space program written by Boris Chertok, one of the rocket designers.  It’s in four volumes Rockets and People.  I skipped to the 4th, the Moon Race and their heart breaking development of the N1 moon  rocket that never really worked.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan.  They may be different for your location.


Link to NASA’s page to download Rockets and People.

12/08/11 – Ephemeris – RIP Phobos-Grunt

December 8, 2011 Comments off

Thursday, December 8th.  The sun will rise at 8:06.  It’ll be up for 8 hours and 56 minutes, setting at 5:02.   The moon, 2 days before full, will set at 7:14 tomorrow morning.

November was the month to send spacecraft to Mars for its close approach in 2012.  On November 8th the Russian’s launched Phobos-Grunt a mission to Mars’ moon Phobos to land and return a soil sample.  On the way it was to release a Chinese satellite to orbit Mars. Making the round trip was a tiny capsule from the Planetary Society containing freeze-dried microbes to see if they could survive the long trip in interplanetary space.  The rocket performed flawlessly, but the Phobos-Grunt package did not ignite its engine to escape earth and head out to Mars.  Subsequent attempts by the Russians and Europeans have failed to correct the situation.  On the 26th NASA’s Curiosity was launched and is now heading to Mars to land August 5th next year.

* Times, as always are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan.