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Posts Tagged ‘SpaceX’

02/22/2021 – Ephemeris – What’s happening with NASA’s Artemis Moon Program

February 22, 2021 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Monday, February 22nd. Today the Sun will be up for 10 hours and 49 minutes, setting at 6:21, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:30. The Moon, 3 days past first quarter, will set at 5:28 tomorrow morning.

It appears that the Artemis Moon Program is still on schedule despite a new administration and a setback when a few weeks ago an all up 8 minute firing of the 4 main engines of the Space Launch System Core Stage aborted after little over a minute. (NASA is scheduled to repeat this Green Run test this week) The first launch of the complete rocket is slated for later this year with an uncrewed lunar orbit mission. Recently NASA announced that Elon Musk’s SpaceX was awarded the contract to launch the first two lunar gateway modules on a single Falcon Heavy rocket. The two modules, Power and Propulsion Element (PPE) and Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO) will be placed in low earth orbit. From there the PPE would use its ion engines to propel the two modules out to a near rectilinear halo orbit of the Moon over many months.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

SLS first green run at Stennis

SLS first green run of all 4 RS-25 engines mounted on the core stage for the Artemis-1 mission on a test stand at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. Credit: NASA.

Lunar Gateway PPE and HALO modules

An artist’s depiction of the Lunar Gateway PPE and HALO modules in lunar orbit. The PPE module is the part with the solar panels. Credit: NASA.

 

12/28/2020 – Ephemeris – Some astronomical events of 2020

December 28, 2020 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Monday, December 28th. Today the Sun will be up for 8 hours and 50 minutes, setting at 5:09, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:19. The Moon, 1 day before full, will set at 8:01 tomorrow morning.

Let’s look at some astronomical and space news for this past year. A year ago the bright red star in the constellation Orion Betelgeuse underwent an unprecedented amount of dimming. It had pretty much recovered its brightness since. The best idea was that it ejected a cloud of dust that obscured part of the star from us. NASA’s Commercial Crew program came through this year with the successful launching of two crews to the International Space Station aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon Capsule. Boeing stood down this year after the failure of their uncrewed Starliner capsule to reach the space station last December. They will try another uncrewed attempt in a few months. I’ll have more tomorrow.

The event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Orion's named stars

Orion’s named stars including the belt stars. Betelgeuse is the bright red in the upper left. Created using Stellarium.

Betelgeuse before and after dimming

This comparison image shows the star Betelgeuse before and after its unprecedented dimming. The observations, taken with the SPHERE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope in January and December 2019, show how much the star has faded and how its apparent shape has changed. Betelgeuse is one of the few stars close and large enough to be able to image its disk. Credit: ESO/M. Montargès et al.

SpaceX Crew-1 Crew

Astronauts Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, and Mike Hopkins, and astronaut Soichi Noguchi inside the Crew Dragon capsule. Credit: SpaceX.

SpaceX Crew-1 Dragon capsule docking with the International Space Station

SpaceX Crew-1 Dragon capsule docking with the International Space Station. Credit: NASA

 

 

 

05/26/2020 – Ephemeris – The first launch of humans to orbit from American soil in 9 years could happen tomorrow

May 26, 2020 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Tuesday, May 26th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 12 minutes, setting at 9:16, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:03. The Moon, 3 days before first quarter, will set at 1:07 tomorrow morning.

As of Sunday when I’m recording this NASA and SpaceX are still GO for the launch of two American astronauts to the International Space Station tomorrow. This will be the first human launch from the United States since Space Shuttle Atlantis left this same launch pad 39a left on July 8th, 2011. On that flight Doug Hurley was pilot, and he will command this flight. He visited the ISS twice, however his wife Karen Nyberg also visited the ISS twice, however the last time she stayed nearly 6 months. Bob Behnken the second astronaut is also a space shuttle veteran with two construction flights to the ISS and like Hurley is married to an astronaut, Megan McArthur who flew on the last Hubble Space Telescope repair mission.

The event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Behnken and Hurley

SpaceX Demo-2 astronauts Bob Behnken (left) and Doug Hurley. Credit: SpaceX.

Categories: Ephemeris Program, NASA Tags: ,

05/05/2020 – Ephemeris – SpaceX’s Commercial Crew Demo 2 mission extends to multi-months

May 5, 2020 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Tuesday, May 5th. Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 26 minutes, setting at 8:53, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:25. The Moon, 2 days before full, will set at 6:15 tomorrow morning.

On May 27th* or shortly thereafter the first crewed spacecraft will leave American soil since the last Space Shuttle launch in 2011. This is called the SpaceX Demo 2. Notice they’re not called manned spacecraft any more. Especially since the American with the most time in space, man or woman is Peggy Whitson with nearly 666 days in space over three flights to the International Space Station. NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will launch from historic Pad 39a at the Kennedy Space Center on a Falcon 9 rocket in a Crew Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station. What was to be a two week stay will turn out to be a several month tour on the station.

The event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

* The date I gave in the program was the 25th.

Addendum

Dragon and Crew access arm

Crew Dragon atop the Falcon 9 and Crew access arm. Credit SpaceX.

You must be thus tall

Astronaut humor.

Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley NASA Astronauts for Demo-2 of SpaceX Crew Dragon

Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, NASA Astronauts for Demo-2 of SpaceX Crew Dragon. Credit: NASA. Each has had two flights on the Space Shuttle. Hurley was Shuttle Pilot twice.  Credit NASA.

 

 

05/28/2019 – Ephemeris – A new satellite phenomenon was visible last Saturday night.

May 28, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, May 28th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 14 minutes, setting at 9:17, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:02. The Moon, 2 days past last quarter, will rise at 3:57 tomorrow morning.

Last Saturday night at the star party at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lake shore we saw an amazing sight. After 10 p.m. we saw a ghostly line in the sky. It looked like a jet contrail at first, but there was no jet making it, and besides at that altitude the Sun wouldn’t be shining on it. It reminded me of the tail of Comet Hale-Bopp that graced our skies 22 years ago, But the ghostly line was moving to the northward. It dawned on us that these were the 60 Starlink satellites SpaceX launched two days before. It was the first 60 of a planned 12,000 satellites that will launch in Elon Musk’s Internet satellite venture. The satellites, each too faint to be seen with the naked eye will soon spread out along their orbit.

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

Addendum

Starling Satellite train

The train of Starlink satellites the night after launch from the Netherlands by Marco Langbroek from his video on EarthSky.com.

I went out during the writing of this week’s Ephemeris programs at 11:45 p.m. and saw three of them.  This time they went almost overhead.  There were three satellites close together in line.  According to Heavens-Above the train is really getting spread out, so I may have been seeing only some of them.  I didn’t see any fainter ones in between.  Overhead the three were quite bright.

Links:

An article about the Starlink satellite train: https://earthsky.org/space/wow-photo-video-spacex-starlink-satellite-train

Here’s a place (Heavens Above) to get predictions of the passage of the satellite train for your location: https://heavens-above.com/main.aspx.  They also have predictions for the International Space Station.

Scott Manley’s YouTube video – Will Starlink & Other Satellite Networks Ruin The Night Sky For Astronomers?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEuMFJSZmpc

YouTube video of the Starlink launch:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=riBaVeDTEWI

 

03/15/2019 – Ephemeris – The era of US crewed space launches begins

March 15, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Ides of March, Friday, March 15th. Today the Sun will be up for 11 hours and 53 minutes, setting at 7:48, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:53. The Moon, 1 day past first quarter, will set at 5:07 tomorrow morning.

Two weeks ago, the United States began to get back in the human space launch business with the launch of a test Crew Dragon space capsule on a Falcon 9 rocket, all made by SpaceX. The 6 day mission to dock with the International Space Station and then return to the Earth was an apparent success as everything appeared to go smoothly. After a successful in-flight abort test with the same capsule in a few months, another test with a crew will be flown. Boeing’s Starliner capsule is not far behind with a possible uncrewed launch in April. Both companies have abort tests to get behind them before crews can be launched. SpaceX is expected to launch a crew as early as June.

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

Addendum

NASA

Crew Dragon Demo-1 liftoff

SpaceX Falcon 9 Crew Dragon Demo-1 liftoff. Credit NASA.

Docking

NASA-SpaceX Demo-1 Screen Cap of docking at the ISS. Credit NASA.

Inside the Crew Dragon

Inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon with Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques. Credit NASA/SpaceX.

Splashdown

NASA-SpaceX Demo-1 Crew Dragon Capsule splashdown in the Atlantic. Credit NASA/SpaceX.

02/26/2018 – Ephemeris – The Falcon Heavy, a game changer

February 26, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, February 26th. The Sun will rise at 7:25. It’ll be up for 11 hours and 1 minute, setting at 6:26. The Moon, half way from first quarter to full, will set at 5:52 tomorrow morning.

It’s been 20 days since SpaceX launched their massive Falcon Heavy rocket. Basically three Falcon 9’s strapped together, it’s now the most powerful rocket now in service, whose payload mass to orbit was only exceeded by the Saturn V Moon rocket of the Apollo days. Where the Saturn 5 was more than a billion dollars to launch and the Space Launch System (SLS) now being built with a similar price tag, a Falcon Heavy launch is supposed to be less than 100 million dollars. The next version of the Falcon 9, Block 5, should be powerful enough to launch astronauts to the space station, the original task for the Falcon Heavy. This may mean that the Falcon Heavy may have a short life span. This is because the next rocket is coming off the drawing boards, or rather CAD programs, the BFR, the Mars rocket will be even more powerful and reusable.  However the low price tag of a Falcon Heavy launch may be too inexpensive to pass up, even for NASA for heavy satellites of deep solar system missions

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

Addendum

Falcon Meavy launch

Test launch of the Falcon Heavy, as it clears the tower on February 6, 2018. Click on the image to enlarge. Credit: SpaceX.

Side boosters landing

The side boosters landing back at the Cape. Click on the image to enlarge. Credit: SpaceX.

04/04/2017 – Ephemeris – First relaunch and recovery of a rocket booster

April 4, 2017 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, April 4th.  The Sun will rise at 7:17.  It’ll be up for 12 hours and 56 minutes, setting at 8:14.  The Moon, 1 day past first quarter, will set at 4:24 tomorrow morning.

Last Thursday SpaceX launched a communications satellite, SES-10 toward geostationary orbit using a used Falcon 9 first stage booster, that landed last April.  To them it’s not a used rocket but a flight proven booster.  Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO is not going to try launch this booster a third time, but will give it to the Cape Kennedy Visitors Center.  Re-usability is the key, according to Musk to his plans to get to Mars and to possibly reduce the cost of getting payloads into orbit by as much as 30% than his already lowest prices in the industry.  Besides landing the booster on their automated drone ship, they were able to recover the two halves of the fairing that protects a satellite as it ascends through the atmosphere.

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

Addendum

SES-10 launch

The second launching of this particular booster with the SES-10 satellite. Credit SpaceX video feed.

Landing No. 2

The video feed cut out during the landing of the booster, but the next shot was of the booster standing upright on the drone ship. Credit SpaceX video feed.

10/17/2016 – Ephemeris – Elon Musk’s vision of how he’ll colonize Mars

October 17, 2016 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, October 17th.  The Sun will rise at 8:01.  It’ll be up for 10 hours and 52 minutes, setting at 6:53.  The Moon, 1 day past full, will rise at 8:21 this evening.

On September 27th Elon Musk announced his plans to send people to Mars, hopefully by 2024.  He explained in detail how he would do it.  He made an hour-long presentation at the International Astronautical Congress meeting in Mexico, which can be seen on the Internet at spacex.com.  Also there is a shorter animation of how he expects to do it.  He expects to send hundreds of people at a time into Earth orbit.  The booster would return to the launch pad and another second stage with fuel loaded on top of it to be launched again on the next orbit to refuel the manned stage before sending it to Mars.  Robotic missions would be sent before to set up the infrastructure for the Mars Base.  I’m somewhat skeptical, but all great adventures start with a dream.

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

Addendum

Arrival on Mars

New colonists looking out at the Martian landscape. Credit: Screen cap from SpaceX video.

Short 5 minute video:  https://youtu.be/0agVZwux1Hs

Full address to the International Astronautical Congress meeting:  https://youtu.be/IAZ-Xbn5hr0

09/15/2016 – Ephemeris – SpaceX has an explosion in its Falcon 9 second stage

September 15, 2016 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, September 15th.  The Sun will rise at 7:22.  It’ll be up for 12 hours and 30 minutes, setting at 7:52.  The Moon, 1 day before full, will set at 7:01 tomorrow morning.

The rocket company SpaceX had one of its Falcon 9 Rockets explode as it was being fueled for a test firing to check out its booster engines on September first.  The second stage, which was being loaded with fuel exploded.  Even if a tank had been ruptured, there should be no ignition source to cause the explosion.  Unfortunately the satellite, AMOS-6 a communications satellite destined for geosynchronous orbit, was already mounted on the rocket, and can be seen falling off the rocket just after the explosion.  This is the second failure of a Falcon 9.  In June of last year a helium tank inside the liquid oxygen tank in the second stage broke loose and ruptured the tank, while still being boosted by the first stage.  It took a few seconds after the rupture before the fuel ignited causing the explosion that ended the mission.  SpaceX has issued a request for videos or anything that might shed light on the latter accident.

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

Addendum

Falcon 9 Explosion

A sequence of photographs of the Falcon 9 explosion. Credit: US Launch Report.