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Posts Tagged ‘SpaceX’

12/29/2015 – Ephemeris – Some space triumphs of 2015

December 29, 2015 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, December 29th.  The Sun will rise at 8:19.  It’ll be up for 8 hours and 50 minutes, setting at 5:10.   The Moon, half way from full to last quarter, will rise at 9:58 this evening.

This past year had several important events.  Perhaps the biggest was the flyby of Pluto and its moons July 14th By the New Horizons spacecraft.  The transmission of data and images will continue for most of 2016, but what has been revealed has been spectacular if puzzling.  In other space news Blue Origin landed their New Shepard rocket vertically after sending it straight up 60 miles.  In June the SpaceX Falcon 9 blew up while attempting to send its 7th resupply Dragon capsule to the International Space Station.  Eight days ago The Falcon 9 returned to flight orbiting 11 satellites for Orbocomm, and flew the booster from over 100 miles up and 100 miles out over the Atlantic to land upright on its designated landing pad back at the cape.

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

Addendum

Pluto

Enhanced color portrait of Pluto by the New Horizons spacecraft. Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI.

Shepard landing

Blue Origin New Shepard rocket, with landing legs expended about to land. Credit: Blue Origin.

Falcon 9

First stage of the SpaceX Falcon 9 descending on its center rocket engine to the center of the main landing pad at Cape Canaveral. Credit: SpaceX.

These weren’t the only highlights of 2015.  Having only 45 seconds to devote to the story, I picked the three most important events.  I consider the reuseability of rockets to be the Holy Grail of reducing the cost to access to space.  The Space Shuttle was a partial, but ultimately failed solution.  SpaceX had the most difficult task in refurbishment and reuse because the first stage had to endure a supersonic reentry, though it didn’t need a heat shield.  We’ll have to see if the cost of recycling rocket boosters is cheaper than building one from scratch.

02/23/2015 – Ephemeris – The Launch of the DSCOVR satellite

February 23, 2015 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, February 23rd.  The sun will rise at 7:30.  It’ll be up for 10 hours and 51 minutes, setting at 6:22.   The moon, 2 days before first quarter, will set at 12:24 tomorrow morning.

On Wednesday the 11th the DSCOVR satellite was launched to a special point between the Earth and the Sun called the Lagrangian point 1 or the Earth-Sun L1 point.  It’s a point of gravitational equilibrium between the Earth and the Sun, about a million miles sun-ward of the Earth, or four times the distance of the Moon.  It will take the craft over 100 days to get there, which it will slowly orbit.  It will act as an early warning sentinel, replacing the aging ACE spacecraft.  It will give us about an hour’s warning of incoming coronal mass ejections or CMEs erupting from the Sun.  It also has an earth pointing camera with various filters pointed to the full earth and occasionally the far side of the new Moon.

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

Addendum

Launch!

SpaceX Falcon 9 V1.1 first stage burns to launch DSCOVR to the Earth-Sun L1 point. Credit: NASA.  Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge

Earth-Sun Lagrangian Points

Earth-Sun Lagrangian Points. Source: Wikimedia Commons, Xander89. Click to enlarge.

07/12/11 – Ephemeris – Dim prospects for the James Webb Space Telescope

July 12, 2011 Comments off

Tuesday, July 12th.  Today the sun will be up for 15 hours and 18 minutes, setting at 9:27.   The moon, 3 days before full, will set at 4:24 tomorrow morning.  Tomorrow the sun will rise at 6:09.

The US House Appropriation Committee is planning to cancel the Jame Webb Space Telescope.  This follow on to the wildly successful Hubble Space Telescope, is, like its predecessor over budget and behind schedule.  The Webb will gather over 6 times the light as the Hubble, and operate in the infrared where the action is in astronomy now a days.  As it is currently funded the Webb telescope might not be launched by 2018.  They are cutting NASA’s budget by 1.6 billion dollars and want to mandate instead the development of a heavy lift rocket, for which there is no immediate use.  As it is the commercial SpaceX company supposedly can upgrade their current Falcon 9 rocket to a Falcon Heavy quicker and cheaper than NASA can produce their heavy rocket.

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

Addendum

Artist's view of the James Webb Space Tellescope.  Courtesy NASA.

Artist's view of the James Webb Space Tellescope. Courtesy NASA.

Artist's conception of the Falcon Heavy rocket.  Courtesy SpaceX.

Artist's conception of the Falcon Heavy rocket. Courtesy SpaceX.