Archives For launch

Monday, November 18th, marks the first launch window for NASA’s next mission to Mars. The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission (MAVEN), is NASA’s tenth Mars orbiter to be launched since 1996. MAVEN is the first orbiter dedicated to studying Mar’s upper atmosphere. This mission has three primary objectives:

  1. Determine the history of the structure and composition of the Martian upper atmosphere.
  2. The cause and rate that gasses escape the atmosphere to space.
  3. Use collected data to measure the prognosis of future atmospheric loss.

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I’m so happy to announce that I’m going to be able to cover the launch from Cape Canaveral!! NASA chooses up to 50 social media users and grants them the same access to the launch as new media. The goal is to align the experience of the two media groups recognizing social media groups can reach audiences traditional news media may not.

The launch is currently scheduled for Friday, March 1 at 10:10 EST. The day before the launch there will be a whole day of briefings of press conferences so I will be bringing you updates through out the day.

Have questions about the launch, Falcon 9, Dragon, or Space Station? Post your questions in the comments below and I’ll do my best to get them answered. Looks like we will go to:

  • Ground Systems Briefing
  • ISS Science Press Conference
  • Heliophysics News Briefing (will be broadcast on NASA TV)
  • Pre-launch Press Conference.

We will also be meeting with Gwynne Shotwell, president of SpaceX, and Jim Adams, NASA’s deputy chief technologist.

 

FREE T-SHIRTS! WHAT?

That’s right, if you show Pinehead and Tyra some love and re-tweet some of the live tweets that are going on, we are giving away a boat load of shirts! How many? Not sure, probably at least ten!

SpaceX is eleven years old, has six successful launches on the books, and forty-one missions scheduled between now and 2017. Their next mission, CRS-2, for NASA is scheduled for launch on March 1. This launch is the second of twelve contracted between NASA and SpaceX to completed by 2015.

Still frame from the CRS-1 webcast of the Falcon 9 pressure relief panels being ejected.

Still frame from the CRS-1 webcast of the Falcon 9 pressure relief panels being ejected.

The Falcon 9 and Dragon last flew in October 2012. The Dragon docked successfully with the International Space Station (ISS) and came back to earth safely. What seemed to get the most press coverage during the mission was an issue being reported as an engine explosion. About a minute and nineteen seconds into the CRS-1 launch there was what looked like an engine explosion. This was not an explosion but an example of Falcon 9 redundancy in action. The Falcon rocket detected a sudden loss in pressure in Merlin engine 1 and issued a command to shutdown. The burst, debris, and plume of smoke were the pressure relief panels being ejected to protect engine 1 and surrounding engines. The flight computer then recalculated a new ascent profile and the Dragon continued on to the ISS.

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Today marks the one month countdown to the SpaceX launch for the next NASA Commercial Resupply Services Mission (CRS-2). Pinehead is going get you prepped for launch by covering SpaceX from the outside, in. We are going to start with the big picture and drill down to various rocket/spacecraft components and launch preparations as we get closer to T-minus zero for CRS-2, scheduled for March 1st.

SpaceX is set up in several locations around the United States including a small Pacific island. Headquarters is located in Hawthorne, California. Their rocket testing facility is in McGregor, Texas. SpaceX has launch complexes at Cape Canaveral, Vandenberg Air Force Base in Lompoc, California, and Omelek Island about 2,500 miles southwest of Hawaii. They are also considering a launch site Brownsville, Texas located at the southern tip of the state. Continue Reading…

For SpaceX, 2012 was the year of the Dragon. In 2013 the Falcon Heavy, SpaceX’s heavy lift vehicle, is set to steal some of the spotlight away from the Dragon.

The Falcon Heavy is currently in development and builds off of the Falcon 9 first stage and the Merlin 1D engine, an upgrade of the engine currently flying on the Falcon 9. What makes the Falcon 9 design so reliable is the ability to handle several engine failures without having to abort or experience a R.U.D. (SpaceX lingo for an explosion, a.k.a. Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly). Along with the engine reliability the Falcon Heavy will be the first rocket in history to feature propellant cross-feed from the side boosters. Since the rocket does not need full throttle to maintain acceleration as it travels into the atmosphere, the center core reduces throttle as the rocket ascends with the side cores still at full throttle. This allows for the core stage to be close to full of propellant when the side boosters separate, essentially leaving a fully fueled Falcon 9 ready for liftoff many miles above the earth. Continue Reading…