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Posts Tagged ‘SpaceX’

04/11/2022 – Ephemeris – SpaceX Transporter 4’s weird launch trajectory

April 11, 2022 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Monday, April 11th. Today the Sun will be up for 13 hours and 17 minutes, setting at 8:22, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:03. The Moon, 2 days past first quarter, will set at 5:37 tomorrow morning.

On April 1st SpaceX launched their Transporter 4 mission taking forty small satellites into sun synchronous orbits. Sun synchronous orbits are cool The plane of the orbit precesses 360 degrees over the period of a year so as it orbits it flies over the same part of the Earth at the same time of the day, so the sun angle on the ground is the same. This is great to see changes on the ground over time. To do that, the orbit has to have an inclination of 97 degrees. Which is hard to do launching from Cape Canaveral, the rocket must be sent toward the south-southwest, but must not cross southern Florida. So the rocket launches to the southeast and bends its path southward, keeping offshore. The second stage completes the turn to achieve the 97 degree inclination.

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.

Addendum

SpaceX Transporter trajectory, annotated

Screenshot of the animation from SpaceX launch webcast of Transporter 4. Launches of polar orbiting satellites are generally made from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, which have a clear shot to the south and south-southeast. Curving the launch trajectory like this exacts a penalty in the amount of payload mass that can be put into orbit. Credit: SpaceX.

04/05/2022 – Ephemeris – The first Axiom Space mission to the ISS amid a busy April

April 5, 2022 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Tuesday, April 5th. Today the Sun will be up for 12 hours and 59 minutes, setting at 8:15, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:14. The Moon, halfway from new to first quarter, will set at 1:15 tomorrow morning.

One of the commercial entities working to launch their own space station is Axiom Space, founded in 2016. The first Axiom mission is Ax-1, an 8-day mission to the International Space Station that, as of when I am recording this last Sunday night, is scheduled for tomorrow on a SpaceX Falcon 9/Crew Dragon from launch pad 39A at Cape Canaveral. The Artemis-1 wet dress rehearsal was halted earlier Sunday due to a pressurization problem with the mobile launch tower. That’s on pad 39B, a bit over a mile and a half away. I’m assuming that Artemis-1 has priority over the Axiom mission. Plus, there’s the SpaceX Crew-5 launch later this month to the space station, which also has president. It could be an interesting time at the Cape.

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.

Addendum

April 4, 2022: The SpaceX Axiom-1 launch is now scheduled for no earlier than Friday, April 8, for an 8-day mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The SpaceX Crew-4 launch had previously been pushed back to April 20. The Crew-3 return from the ISS was to be 5 days later.

The Artemis-1 Wet Dress Rehearsal was scrubbed April 4th with a malfunctioning vent valve. A successful test will have fuel and oxidizer loaded and all prelaunch functions completed, and counted down to a bit over 9 seconds to launch.

Axiom Space: space station plan

Axiom Space station growth plan

The planned evolution of the Axiom commercial space station. It will start being a module attached to the ISS starting in 2024, according to the current plan. Various modules will be attached. After the power tower containing solar panels is attached, it can be detached from the ISS to fly free. Click on the image to enlarge. Credit: Axiom Space.

06/25/2021 – Ephemeris – The era of commercial human space flight has begun

June 25, 2021 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Friday, June 25th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 34 minutes, setting at 9:32, and it will rise tomorrow at 5:58. The Moon, 1 day past full, will rise at 10:58 this evening.

It looks like this year 2021 is the year that commercial crewed spaceflight is going to take off, literally. There’s Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic with their air dropped VSS Unity that will achieve a few minutes of weightlessness in suborbital space like the old X15 did. Competing in suborbital space is Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin with their New Shepard rocket and capsule. Bezos and his brother are expected to ride the first crewed capsule flight later this summer. Running rings around these guys, actually, is Elon Musk’s SpaceX with three orbital Commercial Crew missions for NASA already under his belt and a completely civilian orbital mission, Inspiration 4, slated for the end of summer. So the era of commercial human space flight is finally beginning.

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

Addendum

VSS Unity launch

Virgin Galactic’s Spaceship VSS Unity ignites its hybrid rocket engine after being dropped from its carrier aircraft WhiteKnight Two on a test flight to the edge of space. Credit Sky News.

Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket and Crew Capsule

The Launch of the Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket and Crew Capsule. Credit: Blue Origin.

SpaceX launches first two astronauts to the ISS

SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts off from historic Launch Complex 39A and sends Crew Dragon to orbit on its first flight with NASA astronauts. Credit: SpaceX/Twitter.

Boeing also built a human rated spacecraft, the Starliner, which will be used to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station. It will be launched on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. They are scheduled to repeat their uncrewed test flight this summer before they can send crews to the ISS.

Virgin has Virgin Orbital a company to air launch small payloads, Blue Origin is developing the New Glenn rocket a partially reusable rocket, which is expected to launch in 2022 or 2023. SpaceX is actively developing its StarShip completely reusable rocket and booster near Brownsville, Texas.

06/24/2021 – Ephemeris – SpaceX Inspiration 4 mission

June 24, 2021 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Thursday, June 24th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 34 minutes, setting at 9:32, and it will rise tomorrow at 5:58. The Moon, at full today, will rise at 9:59 this evening.

If all goes as planned, SpaceX will send four civilians, two men and two women, into orbit for a three-day mission aboard the Crew Dragon “Resilience” spacecraft, sent up by a Falcon 9 rocket in mid-September. It’s called the Inspiration 4 Mission to raise awareness and funds for the St. Jude Children’s Hospital. Their orbit will be higher, at 340 miles (540 kilometers) altitude, than that of the International Space Station. The mission commander will be Jared Isaacman, who is paying for the whole thing. Dr. Sian Proctor will be the pilot. Also, on the crew will be Hayley Arceneaux, a St. Jude childhood cancer survivor and now a Physician’s Assistant at St. Jude, and Christopher Sembroski. The crew has been in training since their selection in early April.

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

Addendum

Inspiration 4 Crew

The Inspiration 4 Crew. Left to right: Jared Isaacman, Commander who financed the mission, and flies military jets for fun; Dr Sian Proctor, Pilot who is an entrepreneur, educator and trained pilot; Hayley Arceneaux, who is a physician assistant at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital; and Christopher Sembroski. Credit: Inspration4 Photos.

 

06/17/2021 – Ephemeris – Congress approves more money for NASA’s lunar lander

June 17, 2021 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Thursday, June 17th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 34 minutes, setting at 9:31, and it will rise tomorrow at 5:56. The Moon, at first quarter tonight, will set at 2:18 tomorrow morning. | Tonight’s Moon will be almost exactly cut in half by the sunrise terminator, since the precise moment of first quarter will be at 11:54 this evening. Speaking of the Moon, Congress has approved NASA spending of 10 billion dollars over 5 years on the Human Lander System for the Artemis Moon program. This would allow more than one bidder to win the lander contract. SpaceX’s Lunar Starship was the only one to win a contract. NASA and Congress wanted two to win, but couldn’t afford more than SpaceX. Now comes the rub… Congress will have to appropriate the money out of the budget every year for this. The target date for the first landing is 2024, which I’m pretty sure is already out of reach.

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

Addendum

First Quarter Moon with binoculars or low power telescope

First Quarter Moon with binoculars or low power telescope as it might appear tonight at 11 pm. Created using Stellarium.

Three Lunar Lander proposals

Three Lunar Lander proposals. Credit Dynetics, SpaceX, and Blue Origin. Credit NASA.

Also, SpaceX’s bid was the lowest by a wide margin. With the extra funds, it looks like Blue Origin will be the second successful bidder.

04/20/2021 – Ephemeris – SpaceX gets NASA contract for Human Landing System for the Artemis (Moon) Program

April 20, 2021 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Tuesday, April 20th. Today the Sun will be up for 13 hours and 44 minutes, setting at 8:34, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:47. The Moon, at first quarter today, will set at 4:24 tomorrow morning.

Late last week NASA announced that it had selected SpaceX to provide the Human Lander System for the Artemis program. That lander is the lunar variant of the Starship SpaceX is currently testing near Boca Chica, Texas, just north of the mouth of the Rio Grande. A Starship consists of two stages: a booster called Super Heavy and the Starship upper stage. The Super Heavy returns to the launch site, while the Starship must be refueled several times in orbit to be able to head on out to the Moon. The astronauts would be launched as planned in an Orion capsule with the Space Launch System, then transfer the astronauts to the Starship waiting in lunar orbit or from the Lunar Gateway also in lunar orbit for the trip down to the lunar surface.

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

Addendum

SpaceX Concept lunar Lander as of 04/16/2021
SpaceX’s updated concept of their Starship lunar lander as of 04/16/2021. Credit: SpaceX.

NASA’s Source Selection Document (the rationale for their selection): https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/option-a-source-selection-statement-final.pdf

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.