Sonntag, 22. September 2013 - 21:44 Uhr

Luftfahrt - Boing stellt Dreamliner 787-9 vor


Less than 2 years after delivering the first Dreamliner, Boeing Commercial Airplanes is proud to introduce the second member of the amazing Dreamliner family. Sporting the new Boeing livery, the first 787-9 extends the efficiencies and innovations of this game-changing line.




Fotos: Boeing

Tags: Boing Dreamliner 787-9 


Sonntag, 22. September 2013 - 13:24 Uhr

Luftfahrt - Boeing´s Phantom Swift Prototyp



Phantom Swift: Putting rapid into rapid prototyping


The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is looking for a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft that can fly fast, hover efficiently and carry a lot of cargo. Thanks to rapid prototyping, a team of Boeing Phantom Works engineers in Philadelphia designed and built a flying subscale model of the innovative Phantom Swift in time to be part of Boeing's proposal for DARPA's vertical takeoff and landing X-Plane competition.

The scaled model of the Phantom Swift went from being an idea to a flying prototype in less than a month. It will serve the team as a flying laboratory.

“A picture is worth a thousand words, a flying model is worth a million words. No matter what words you put in a proposal, having hardware that you can demonstrate that they can tangibly see what’s being proposed goes a long way toward winning that proposal,” said Perry Ziegenbein, Phantom Swift’s chief engineer.


Phantom Swift is a rapid prototyping flying demonstrator that was designed and built in less than 30 days.


Michael Mikuszewski is a composites expert for Boeing Research and Technology.  He helped design and build some of Phantom Swift’s parts and says seeing it come together so quickly was very exciting.

“This is what we graduate college hoping to do. Having this experience and opportunity to do it is fantastic,” he said. “Rapid prototyping is the wave of the future, I guess you could say.”

The DARPA vertical takeoff and landing aircraft X-Plane program will have three phases. Phase I will last 22 months, with several competitor designs partially funded by DARPA. Only one consolidated Phase II/Phase III contract for fabrication and flight demonstration contract will be awarded, with a goal for a first vertical takeoff and landing X-Plane flight within 47 months.

The first phase of DARPA’s X-Plane program is expected to begin in the next few months.

Quelle: Boeing

Tags: Boeing Phantom Swift Prototyping 


Samstag, 21. September 2013 - 23:00 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Cygnus Cargo Vehicle erfolgreicher Start zu Testflug zur ISS



A new commercial cargo spacecraft is ready for a Sept. 17 launch from Virginia on its first test flight to the International Space Station, NASA and Orbital Sciences Corp. said Wednesday.
“We’re in really good shape for the mission to start on time,” said Courtenay McMillan, NASA flight director for the demonstration mission, following a review in Houston. “We’re really excited.”
Dulles, Va.-based Orbital tested its new Antares rocket in April, and will now attempt to fly the Cygnus spacecraft in orbit for the first time.
The demonstration flight represents Orbital’s final milestone under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program, which has contributed nearly $288 million toward development of the privately operated rocket and spacecraft.
The same development program helped SpaceX establish its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule, which have since completed two contracted cargo flights to the station.
Based on the cylindrical cargo modules that shuttles flew to and from the orbiting research complex, Orbital’s Cygnus will test systems and perform various maneuvers before being cleared to approach and berth at the station Sept. 22.
The robotic spacecraft will carry about 1,500 pounds of low-value cargo, mostly food.
During its planned 30-day visit, astronauts will pack the Cygnus with trash that will burn up with the vehicle when it re-enters the atmosphere.
A successful demonstration would allow Orbital to start executing a $1.9 billion contract for eight resupply missions, which could start as soon as December.
“Things are starting to come together,” said Frank Culbertson, Orbital executive vice president and a former astronaut.
SpaceX is upgrading the Falcon 9 and Dragon, and they are not expected to be ready to launch another station mission from Cape Canaveral before at least January, NASA officials said Wednesday.
Quelle: Florida-Today
Orbital Sciences Corp. is almost ready to send the first commercial Cygnus cargo freighter on a demonstration mission to the International Space Station, and NASA officials gave the green light Wednesday for engineers to begin final preparations for the test flight's Sept. 17 launch on an Antares rocket from the Virginia coastline.
The robotic spacecraft, named for the constellation Cygnus, is one of two privately-developed spaceships financed by NASA to restore domestic cargo transportation to the space station after the retirement of the space shuttle.
SpaceX, the start-up space transportation firm founded by Elon Musk, is NASA's other commercial cargo contractor. SpaceX completed the first test flight of its Dragon spacecraft to the space station in May 2012, and the California-based company has made two operational resupply runs to the outpost since then.
The Cygnus spacecraft gives NASA redundancy in case one of the two cargo providers encounters problems.
"The workhorses of the fleet for the U.S. segment [of the space station] will be the SpaceX vehicle and the Orbital vehicle," said Mike Suffredini, NASA's space station program manager. "We have them lined up to use them fairly regularly."
NASA and Orbital Sciences officials met Wednesday at the Johnson Space Center in Houston to review the status of preparations for the flight and discuss any concerns leading up to the launch.
According to Suffredini, officials identified no issues threatening a successful on-time launch, other than the standard processing left to go on the Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft.
The departure of a Japanese H-2 Transfer Vehicle on Wednesday also cleared a hurdle before the Cygnus flight can proceed. The HTV occupied the same port on the space station needed for the Cygnus spacecraft.
Orbital's Cygnus spacecraft and SpaceX's Dragon capsule were developed in a public-private partnership with NASA. The private companies own and operate the vehicles, but NASA provided funds and expertise to guide Orbital and SpaceX engineers through development and testing.
NASA's financial agreement with Orbital Sciences is worth $288 million, part of the agency's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services, or COTS, program.
Alan Lindenmoyer, NASA's COTS program manager, said the commercial cargo initiative started seven years ago with the intention of reducing the cost and complexity of sending supplies to the space station. Another objective was to make the resupply fleet responsive and capable of launching when needed.
"Last year, we came very close to seeing that vision become a reality with our first COTS partner SpaceX completing a demo flight to the space station and following up with operational flights to the space station," Lindenmoyer said Wednesday. "It was an amazing success, and here we are today with the opportunity to reinforce that capability with our second commercial partner ready to provide those services to the space station."
The development of the Cygnus spacecraft cost about $300 million, and the Antares rocket cost a little more to design and test, according to Frank Culbertson, executive vice president and general manager of Orbital's advanced programs group.
In an interview earlier this year, Culbertson declined to provide a specific value for the development of the Antares launcher. The new Antares launch pad, built by the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority, cost about $140 million.
Including investments from NASA, Orbital and the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Antares rocket, Cygnus spacecraft and the new launch pad collectively cost nearly $1 billion.
File photo of the Antares test launch on April 21. Credit: Thom Baur/Orbital Sciences
Outfitted with solar arrays, a propulsion system, and a laser navigation system, the Cygnus spacecraft will launch at least nine times over the next four years to resupply the space station, beginning with a Sept. 17 liftoff on a demonstration flight to prove the cargo ship can safely do its job.
Orbital officials said the Cygnus spacecraft was scheduled to be attached to the upper stage of the Antares launcher Wednesday. Final cargo loading into the Cygnus spacecraft's pressurized module is set for Saturday, followed by its enclosure inside the rocket's 12.8-foot-diameter payload fairing.
Rollout of the Antares rocket from its horizontal integration facility to the launch pad one mile away is expected Sept. 13.
Launch aboard an Antares rocket on Sept. 17 is scheduled for 11:16 a.m. EDT (1516 GMT) from launch pad 0A at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia's Eastern Shore.
The 133-foot-tall Antares rocket sailed through a test launch in April, deploying a mock-up Cygnus spacecraft in orbit after smooth burns of its twin-engine first stage and solid-fueled second stage motor.
If all goes according to plan, the Antares will release the Cygnus spacecraft in orbit about 10 minutes after liftoff.
Then the Cygnus spacecraft will begin its own mission, exercising its software, engines, and other systems to ensure the vehicle is in top condition before it is trusted to approach within the space station's safety corridor on autopilot.
Under the control of Orbital Sciences engineers based in the company's Dulles, Va., headquarters, the Cygnus will extend its solar arrays, activate its propulsion system and start firing its thrusters to pace its approach to the International Space Station, where it is due to arrive Sept. 22.
Astronaut Luca Parmitano will guide the space station's robot arm to reach out and grapple the Cygnus spacecraft as it floats just below the outpost. The robot arm will move the Cygnus to a berthing port on the space station's Harmony module, where it will stay for about 30 days as the crew opens hatches and starts to unpack 1,500 pounds of food and other gear carried inside the vehicle's pressurized module, which is built by Thales Alenia Space of Italy.
Future Cygnus flights will haul more cargo, but Suffredini said NASA requested a light load on the demonstration mission - mostly low-priority supplies that officials would not miss if lost.
The astronauts will place trash and other equipment for disposal into the Cygnus compartment before the automated spacecraft's departure in October. Like the space station's Japanese, European and Russian supply vehicles, the Cygnus will burn up in the atmosphere during re-entry.
SpaceX's Dragon capsule is the only operational cargo craft capable of returning significant payloads to Earth intact.
If the flight is successful, the next Cygnus mission - tentatively set for December - will be the first of eight operational cargo deliveries under a $1.9 billion resupply contract with NASA.
Quelle: Orbital
COTS Demonstration Mission Schedule Update (as of August 22, 2013)
August 2013
Following a planning and coordination meeting held yesterday, August 21, Orbital and NASA have identified September 17, 2013 as the targeted launch date for the COTS Demonstration Mission to the International Space Station. The launch of Orbital's Antares rocket carrying the company's Cygnus cargo logistics spacecraft will originate from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport launch pad 0A located at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility. Orbital's Antares team is targeting a launch time of 11:16 a.m., which is at the opening of an available 15-minute launch window.
Orbital Updates Schedule for COTS Demonstration Mission
August 2013
Orbital Sciences Corporation is targeting September 15 as the first opportunity to conduct the Antares launch of our Cygnus spacecraft for the COTS Demonstration Mission to the International Space Station (ISS) originating from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility. In the event that weather or other operational factors require the date to shift, the company will seek to carry out the launch no later than September 19. Currently, the Antares rocket for the COTS Demonstration Mission is completing testing at the Horizontal Integration Facility (HIF) at Wallops and will soon begin integration with the Cygnus spacecraft. Orbital anticipates that it will roll out the Antares rocket with the integrated Cygnus spacecraft to Pad 0A at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) on or about September 11 to be ready for a September 15 launch.
AJ26 Engine Acceptance Test Successfully Conducted
August 2013
On August 8, 2013 Orbital and its Aerojet Rocketdyne and NASA teammates successfully conducted a 54 second hot fire acceptance test of an AJ26 engine. The AJ26 used in this test will be one of two engines that will power the first stage of Orbital's Antares rocket in its second mission to deliver cargo to the International Space Station under the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) agreement with NASA. The mission, dubbed Orb-2, is scheduled to occur in 2014. The test was conducted at NASA Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. (NASA photo)
Second PCM Arrives at Wallops
Photos of the arrival of the Cygnus Pressurized Cargo Module to be used in the delivery of cargo to the International Space Station later this year in the first operational cargo delivery mission under the Commercial Resupply Service (CRS) agreement with NASA. (NASA photos)
Quelle: Orbital
Update: 11.09.2013

SpaceX: California launch delayed to next week

UPDATE, 8 PM: A SpaceX launch from California set for Saturday has been delayed, but maybe only to Sunday instead of next Tuesday.
Space writer Jeff Foust is at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics' AIAA SPACE conference this week in San Diego, and reported early Tuesday afternoon via Twitter that SpaceX vice president for government sales Adam Harris had told attendees at a launch vehicle update session that the first liftoff of the company's revamped Falcon 9 rocket had been pushed back to Sept. 17.
NASA's mission database shows only a day's postponement, from Sept. 14 to Sept. 15. A spokeswoman for Vandenberg said she could not immediately confirm the postponement, but for right now it looks like Sunday is the day.
Harris also said a static fire test — in which engines are briefly lit while the rocket is held down on the launch pad — was set for Wednesday, Foust reported.
The launch would be the first for the next-generation Falcon 9-R, designed not only to be more powerful but to have the potential for re-use — that would be the "R" in "9-R" (which Harris incidentally said is pronounced "niner" according to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk).
Space News' Irene Klotz talked to Musk late last week and found some nervousness going into the launch. “We’re being, as usual, extremely paranoid about the launch and trying to do everything we possibly can to improve the probability of success, but this is a new version of Falcon 9,” Musk told her.
Among other things, Klotz reports, that means Cassiope's maker, MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates, got a substantial discount on the launch (which answers the question I've been wondering about for a while: Why with the Falcon 9-R's development delays Cassiope wasn't moved to an older F9 to keep on schedule).
The F9-R is also scheduled for three satellite launches this fall from Cape Canaveral, Fla., that will prove the redesign's flightworthiness for NASA before it's used on the next Dragon cargo mission to the International Space Station, set for early next year.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted this photo Tuesday of the Falcon 9-R rolling out to its launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.
Quelle: Waco Tribune
Update: 12.09.2013
Cygnus readies for flight
The Cygnus cargo spacecraft is mated to the Antares rocket in early September at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Orbital's Antares rocekt will launch Cygnus to the International Space Station at 11:16 a.m. EDT from Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad 0A at Wallops. Cygnus will deliver approximately 1,300 pounds (589 kilograms) of cargo, including food and clothing, to the Expedition 37 crew aboard the station.
Quelle: NASA
NASA TV Coverage Set for Orbital Sciences Demonstration Mission
Orbital Sciences' Antares rocket at Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad 0A at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in April 2013. Orbital Sciences Corporation's cargo resupply demonstration mission to the International Space Station is scheduled for Sept. 17, 2013, at 11:16 a.m. EDT.
NASA Television will air pre- and post-launch news conferences and provide live launch coverage of Orbital Sciences Corporation's cargo resupply demonstration mission to the International Space Station.
The company's Cygnus cargo carrier will be the first spacecraft launched to the orbiting laboratory from Virginia. It will be launched aboard Orbital's Antares rocket at 11:16 a.m. EDT Tuesday, Sept. 17, from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad-0A at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in eastern Virginia.
Cygnus will deliver about 1,300 pounds (589 kilograms) of cargo, including food and clothing, to the Expedition 37 crew aboard the space station. Future flights of Cygnus will significantly increase NASA's ability to deliver new science investigations to the nation's only laboratory in microgravity.
NASA will preview the launch and mission in a news conference at 2 p.m. Monday, Sept. 16, at the Wallops Visitors Center. NASA TV and the agency's website will air the briefing live with question and answer capability available from participating NASA centers or on the telephone. To participate using the phone bridge, which is operated out of NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, journalists must call the Johnson newsroom at 281-483-5111 by 1:45 p.m. Questions also can be asked during the briefings via Twitter by using the hashtag #askNASA.
The briefing participants are:
-- Alan Lindenmoyer, program manager, NASA's Commercial Crew and Cargo Program
-- Frank Culbertson, executive vice president, Orbital Sciences Corp.
-- Mike Pinkston, Antares program manager, Orbital Sciences Corp.
-- Sarah Daugherty, test director, NASA's Wallops Flight Facility
NASA TV launch commentary coverage will begin at 10:45 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 17. Video b-roll of launch preparations will air at 10:30 a.m. A post-launch news briefing will begin at approximately 1 p.m. at the Wallops Visitors Center. Johnson Space Center will operate a phone bridge for the post-launch briefings. To participate in the briefing by phone, reporters must call the Johnson newsroom at 281-483-5111 at least 15 minutes before the start of the briefing.  
The deadline to apply for accreditation to attend the launch is 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12 for media who are U.S. citizens. The deadline has passed for non-U.S. citizens. For additional information regarding accreditation contact Keith Koehler at
Rendezvous with the space station is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 22. NASA Television coverage will begin at 4:30 a.m. and will continue through the capture and installation of the Cygnus spacecraft. Capture is scheduled for about 7:17 a.m. with installation of the craft beginning about 9 a.m.
At about 1 p.m., after Cygnus operations are complete, a joint news conference will take place at Johnson and at Orbital's Headquarters at 45101 Warp Drive in Dulles, Va. The briefing will be carried live on NASA Television and the agency's website. Media may participate by telephone by contacting Johnson's newsroom at 218-483-5111 no later than 15 minutes prior to the start of the briefing. Media interested in attending the briefing in Houston should contact Johnson's newsroom no later than 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20. Media who are U.S. citizens and want to attend the briefing at Orbital should call Barron Beneski at 703-406-5528 or email by noon Friday, Sept. 20. Media who are not U.S. citizens must submit their information to Orbital by noon Monday, Sept. 16.
Orbital is the second of NASA’s two partners taking part in the agency's COTS program. The goal of this program is to develop safe, reliable, and cost effective cargo transportation systems. Orbital began its work in 2008. Following a successful demonstration mission, the company is poised to begin regular resupply missions. The other partner, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), began its work in 2006, and after a successful test flight in 2012, began flying regular cargo missions to the space station.
During Cygnus' flight to the station, several of the spacecraft's systems and capabilities will be tested. After the space station flight control team has verified the results of these objectives, the spacecraft will be cleared to approach the station several days after launch. Cygnus will undergo more tests and maneuvers and ultimately will arrive beneath the outpost, where astronauts on board will use the station’s arm to capture the craft. They then will install it on the bottom side of the station’s Harmony module.
Quelle: NASA
Quelle: Orbital 
Update: 13.09.2013 
Upgraded Falcon 9 rocket clears major prelaunch test
SpaceX's upgraded Falcon 9 rocket briefly fired nine Merlin 1D engines on the launch pad Thursday, but engineers will review data from the prelaunch static fire test before confirming the mission's targeted Sunday launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, sources familiar with SpaceX's launch preparations said.
The static fire occurred after two holds in the final moments of Thursday's countdown to wring out minor problems. It was the first time engines have ignited at SpaceX's new California launch pad.
Launch of the upgraded Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket remains set for no earlier than Sunday in a two-hour window opening at 1600 GMT (12 p.m. EDT; 9 a.m. PDT) from Space Launch Complex 4-East at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.
The Falcon 9's first stage engines ramped up to full power for just a few seconds, producing 1.3 million pounds of thrust as the rocket was held down on the launch pad by restraints.
The mission's passengers, including the Canadian Cassiope research satellite and several secondary payloads, were bolted to the Falcon 9 rocket for Thursday's static fire test.
The Falcon 9 v1.1, a prototype of SpaceX's concept for a reusable launcher, features upgraded Merlin 1D engines and stretched propellant tanks, boosting the rocket's performance for a range of missions on the company's launch manifest, including resupply flights to the International Space Station and launches of commercial communications satellites into geostationary transfer orbit, an orbit which SpaceX has not yet reached in previous Falcon 9 flights.
The Falcon 9 v1.1 upper stage is powered by a Merlin 1D engine optimized for performance in vacuum.
The launch of Cassiope is heading for a an elliptical polar orbit ranging in altitude from 186 miles to 932 miles, taking the small scientific satellite through Earth's ionosphere to sample plasma and other energetic particles for its research objectives.
The upcoming launch also marks the first use of the Falcon 9's 17-foot-diameter (5.2-meter) payload fairing, a lightweight structure composed of two clamshell-like halves made of carbon fiber with an aluminum honeycomb core.
The fairing, which shields the satellites from ambient prelaunch conditions and airflow in flight, will jettison a few minutes after launch once the Falcon 9 ascends through the lower layers of the atmosphere.
SpaceX plans to put the Falcon 9's empty first stage through a series of reusability tests after it completes its burn about 3 minutes into flight.
The flight plan calls for the first stage to reignite to slow the spent rocket's descent and impact the water with "minimal velocity," according to a waiver document issued by the Federal Aviation Administration, which licenses commercial launches for providers such as SpaceX.
The feat of returning the Falcon 9's first stage to the Pacific Ocean intact would be a key step toward SpaceX's goal of developing a reusable Falcon 9 rocket, in which the launcher's first stage would guide itself back to a pad near the launch site and make a rocket-assisted vertical touchdown on landing legs.
In an interview with Space News, SpaceX CEO and chief designer Elon Musk put low odds on the success of the stage's water landing test - at least on the first try.
"Just before we hit the ocean, we're going to relight the engine and see if we can mitigate the landing velocity to the point where the stage could potentially be recovered, but I give this maybe a 10 percent chance of success".
A view of Thursday's countdown from inside SpaceX's mission control in Hawthorne, Calif. Credit: Elon Musk
Quelle: SN
Orbital Rolls Out Antares Rocket to Wallops Launch Pad for COTS Demonstration Mission to International Space Station

-- Launch of Company’s First Cygnus Cargo Spacecraft Aboard Antares Rocket Targeted for Next Tuesday, September 17 --
-- COTS Demonstration Mission to Pave the Way for Regularly Scheduled ISS Supply Flights Beginning Late This Year --

(Dulles, VA 13 September 2013) – Earlier today, Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB) rolled out its Antares™ rocket that will launch the company’s first Cygnus™ spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) for its demonstration mission under the Commercial Orbital Transportations Services (COTS) joint development program with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Orbital is currently targeting Tuesday, September 17 for the launch during a 15-minute window from 11:16 to 11:31 a.m. (EDT). During the mission, the Antares rocket will boost the Cygnus spacecraft into a parking orbit of approximately 245 x 300 kilometers in altitude, inclined at 51.6° to the equator. Live coverage of the COTS demonstration mission will be available on NASA Television and at

Roll-out operations began at about 2:30 a.m., with the Antares rocket first emerging from its Horizontal Integration Facility at about 3:45 a.m. this morning. The rocket was transported about one mile to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) launch complex, known as Pad 0A, aboard the Transporter/Erector/Launcher (TEL), a specialized vehicle that also raised the rocket to a vertical position on the launch pad and serves as a support interface between the rocket and the launch complex’s systems. By about 1:00 p.m., Antares was in a fully vertical position on the launch pad.

Following its launch by the Antares rocket, Cygnus will conduct an extensive series of in-orbit maneuvers and demonstrations over a five-day period to verify that all onboard operating systems are functioning properly and that ground controllers at Orbital’s Mission Control Center (MCC), located at the company’s Dulles, VA campus, are able to command, control and communicate with the spacecraft as designed and extensively rehearsed. Assuming a September 17 launch, Orbital and NASA are currently targeting the morning of Sunday, September 22, for the Cygnus rendezvous, grapple and berthing operations with the ISS at an altitude of about 415 kilometers above the Earth. On its demonstration mission, Cygnus will deliver approximately 700 kilograms of cargo, including food and clothing, to the Expedition 37 crew, which will also load Cygnus with disposal cargo prior to its departure from the station approximately 30 days later.

Mr. David W. Thompson, Orbital’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said, “Today’s roll-out of the fully integrated Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft, along with this weekend’s on-pad testing and readiness review, are the final steps leading up to next week’s launch of our COTS demonstration mission. This mission will mark the completion of a five-year journey that NASA and our company embarked on in 2008 to create a new medium-class rocket, a sophisticated logistics spacecraft and a world-class launch site at the Wallops Flight Facility.”

Following a successful COTS demonstration mission, Orbital plans to begin regularly scheduled cargo supply missions under its Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract with NASA later this year. Orbital is currently scheduled to launch the first of eight CRS missions to the ISS as early as December. All CRS flights will originate from NASA’s Wallops base, which is geographically well suited for ISS missions and can also accommodate launches of scientific, defense and commercial satellites to other orbits.

Quelle: Orbital


Update: 14.09.2013 / 16.00 MESZ

The Falcon 9 rocket won’t make its West Coast debut this weekend, because crews need to assess glitches spotted during a critical test at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Late Thursday night, Space Exploration Technologies CEO Elon Musk confirmed the static fire test occurred earlier in the day at Space Launch Complex-4 East on South Base.

The test involved firing the nine engines on the rocket’s first stage while Falcon remained affixed to the ground.

The rocket achieved “full thrust” in the 2-second firing, Musk noted on Twitter.

“Some anomalies to be investigated, so launch date TBD,” he added, using the abbreviation for “to be decided.”

The team first tried to conduct the test Wednesday, but scrubbed the attempt for unexplained reasons.

While officials with the private firm remained mum about plans for a launch attempt Sunday, the schedule wasn’t secret because nearby park visitors were advised they could be evacuated Sunday morning due to a Vandenberg operation. Additionally, the typical notices to the boaters and pilots warned them to remain out of the area.

By Friday morning, the notices to mariners and aviators had been canceled for Sunday’s launch attempt with no new date set.

However, Musk said in one broadcast interview that the launch wouldn’t come for one to two weeks.

Another source pinpoints Falcon’s new launch date as being Sept. 30.

The Western Range at Vandenberg, which supported a Delta 4-Heavy launch Aug. 28, has a busy schedule this month with two Minuteman 3 tests on the manifest, including one planned for Sept. 22.

Quelle: Santa Maria Times


Update: 14.09.2013 / 22.30 MESZ

A combination of bad weather and a technical glitch have pushed a brand-new supply ship's debut test flight to the International Space Station back at least one day, to Wednesday (Sept. 18).

The unmanned Cygnus spacecraft, built by Virginia-based company Orbital Sciences, is now scheduled to blast off atop an Antares rocket from Wallops Island, Va., on Wednesday (Sept. 18) rather than Tuesday. Liftoff is set for 10:50 a.m. EDT (1450 GMT). 

"The combination of yesterday’s poor weather that delayed rollout of the rocket to the launch pad and a technical issue that was identified during a combined systems test held last night involving communications between ground equipment and the rocket’s flight computer drove the decision to delay the launch," Orbital Science officials wrote in an update Saturday (Sept. 14)
Update: 15.09.2013
Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., will postpone by at least 24 hours the launch of its Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft on a demonstration mission to the International Space Station from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in eastern Virginia. The new launch window is targeted for Wednesday, Sept. 18 between 10:50 to 11:05 a.m. EDT from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad-0A at Wallops. Rendezvous with the space station remains scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 22. NASA Television will air pre- and post-launch news conferences and provide live launch and rendezvous coverage of the mission.

The postponement is due to a combination of Friday’s poor weather, which delayed roll-out of Antares to the launch pad, and a technical issue identified during a combined systems test held Friday night involving communications between ground equipment and the rocket’s flight computer. The problem has been identified and corrected. The teams are working to understand why the problem occurred.Orbital is the second of NASA’s two partners taking part in the agency's COTS program. The goal of this program is to develop safe, reliable, and cost effective cargo transportation systems. Orbital began its work in 2008. Following a successful demonstration mission, the company is poised to begin regular resupply missions. The other partner, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), began its work in 2006, and after a successful test flight in 2012, began flying regular cargo missions to the space station.

During Cygnus' flight to the station, several of the spacecraft's systems and capabilities will be tested. After the space station flight control team has verified the results of these objectives, the spacecraft will be cleared to approach the station several days after launch. Cygnus will undergo more tests and maneuvers and ultimately will arrive beneath the outpost, where astronauts on board will use the station’s arm to capture the craft. They then will install it on the bottom side of the station’s Harmony module.
Quelle: NASA  
Update: 16.09.2013
Musk: SpaceX launch pushed to end of month
Between the need for a second full-dress-rehearsal engine test and the other activities conducted on the U.S. Air Force's Western Range, SpaceX is now pushing the maiden launch of its Falcon 9-R rocket to the end of the month, company CEO Elon Musk said early Sunday.
Here's the tweet:

A static fire test conducted Thursday was mostly successful but turned up some anomalies that SpaceX engineers wanted to iron out before attempting a launch of the heavily upgraded Falcon 9. The second test could come as early as Wednesday.
Meanwhile, on the opposite coast, SpaceX rival Orbital Sciences has moved the demonstration launch of its Antares rocket and Cygnus cargo ship — competitor for International Space Station supply runs to SpaceX's Dragon — from Tuesday to Wednesday, after bad weather delayed the launch-pad rollout and a faulty cable was found and replaced.
That launch is set for between 9:50 and 10:05 a.m. CDT Wednesday from Wallops Island, Va.
Quelle: Waco Tribune
Update: 17.09.2013 
How to See the Historic Antares/Cygnus Launch to Space Station on Sept. 18
WALLOPS ISLAND, VA – “All Systems Are GO” for the Sept. 18 launch of Orbital Sciences Antares commercial rocket carrying the first ever fully functional Cygnus commercial resupply vehicle to orbit on the history making first flight blasting off from NASA’s Wallops Island Facility- along the eastern shore of Virginia and bound for the International Space Station (ISS).
Here’s our guide on “How to See the Antares/Cygnus Launch” – complete with viewing maps and trajectory graphics from a variety of prime viewing locations courtesy of Orbital Sciences, the private company that developed both the Antares rocket and Cygnus spaceship aimed at keeping the ISS fully operational for science research.
And although the launch is slated for late morning it should still be visible to millions of spectators along a lengthy swath of the US East Coast from North Carolina to Connecticut - weather permitting – who may have never before witnessed such a mighty rocket launch.
The daylight liftoff of the powerful two stage Antares rocket is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept 18 at 10:50 a.m. EDT from Launch Pad 0A at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA Wallops Island, Virginia. The launch window extends 15 minutes to 11:05 a.m.
Quelle: Orbital
Update: 20.00 MESZ
Wallops Grants Authority to Proceed for Launch of Orbital Demonstration Mission
September 17, 2013 - 10:14 AM EDT
NASA Wallops Flight Facility Site Director Bill Wrobel has granted Authority to Proceed (ATP) for the Wednesday, Sept. 18, launch of a demonstration mission to the International Space Station by the Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va. Orbital is targeting a 10:50 a.m. EDT launch from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad-0A at Wallops.
ATP verifies project managers, the Wallops range and range safety are ready to support the established plans and procedures for launch operations. This followed Monday's Launch Readiness Review, at which Orbital and NASA managers gave a “go” to proceed toward launch.
  NASA will preview the launch and mission in a news conference at 2 p.m. today at the Wallops Visitors Center. NASA TV and the agency's website will air the briefing live with question and answer capability available from participating NASA centers or on the telephone. To participate using the phone bridge, which is operated out of NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, journalists must call the Johnson newsroom at 281-483-5111 by 1:45 p.m.
Quelle: NASA    
Update: 18.09.2013
Countdown Running Smoothly, Forecast 75 Percent ‘Go’
The countdown is on and running smoothly at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops, Va. ahead of this morning’s launch of the Orbital Sciences Cygnus spacecraft on an Antares rocket. Continuous coverage on this NASA Launch Blog begins at 10:15 a.m. leading up to the 10:50 a.m. liftoff.
The weather forecast for today’s launch opportunity calls for a 75 percent chance of acceptable conditions at Wallops Flight Facility at launch time. The concern is for low clouds.
Orbital Sciences designed this logo for the launch of its Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft. The design shows the rocket and the Cygnus spacecraft, along with the International Space Station. It also shows the Virginia launch site’s location with a star on a map.
Quelle: NASA
Blick in Orbital-Bodenstation

Update: 19.09.2013
Cygnus En Route for Sunday Rendezvous With Station
While the newest commercial cargo vehicle to join the International Space Station’s resupply fleet launched Wednesday morning on its demonstration flight, the Expedition 37 crew aboard the orbiting complex was hard at work with medical research, emergency simulation training and preparations for Sunday’s arrival of the new space freighter.
NASA commercial space partner Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., launched its Cygnus cargo spacecraft aboard its Antares rocket at 10:58 a.m. EDT Wednesday from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad-0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. At the time of launch, the space station was flying about 261 miles above the southern Indian Ocean. Cygnus will rendezvous with the station on Sunday on its demonstration mission to deliver 1,300 pounds of cargo, including food and clothing, to the space station's Expedition 37 crew.All three Expedition 37 crew members -- Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and Flight Engineers Karen Nyberg and Luca Parmitano -- gathered around a laptop computer screen in the station’s Destiny laboratory to watch a live video stream of the launch of Cygnus. Nyberg then sent her congratulations to Orbital Sciences via her Twitter account.
Nyberg and Parmitano began their workday aboard the space station reviewing Cygnus’ cargo manifest and discussing with ground teams the plan to unload the cargo.  During the month that Cygnus is berthed to the station, the crew will unload its 1,300 pounds of cargo and reload it with trash for disposal when Cygnus departs for a destructive re-entry in the Earth’s atmosphere.
The two astronauts then moved on to some on-board training to review the installation procedure for Cygnus. When Cygnus nears the station on Sunday, Parmitano, with assistance from Nyberg, will use the robotics workstation in the cupola to command the station’s 57-foot robotic arm, Canadarm2, to reach out and grapple the vehicle. He will then maneuver the arm to guide Cygnus to its docking port on the Earth-facing side of the Harmony node for installation.
All three Expedition 37 crew members participated in on-board training to review their roles and responsibilities in the event of an emergency aboard the station such as a fire or rapid depressurization. Afterward, they tagged up with flight controllers at Mission Control in Houston to review the drill and discuss any changes needed.
Nyberg and Parmitano wrapped up their workday with another round of medical tests for the Ocular Health study as they used a fundoscope to examine each other’s eyes in detail. Vision changes have been observed in some astronauts returning from long-duration spaceflight, and flight surgeons are seeking to learn more about its root causes and develop countermeasures to minimize this risk.
Quelle: NASA
Update: 20.09.2013

A new commercial cargo spacecraft remains on track to rendezvous with the International Space Station early Sunday.

Two days after launching from the coast of Virginia, Orbital Sciences Corp.’s robotic Cygnus freighter continues to fly trouble-free.

“All continuing to go very smoothly aboard Cygnus and aboard the International Space Station,” NASA TV commentator Kyle Herring reported this morning.

Orbital and NASA today will review early data from the flight, and the station’s Mission Management Team will meet Saturday morning to review the status of Sunday morning’s rendezvous.

Capture of the Cygnus by a robotic arm is tentatively planned for 7:25 a.m. Sunday.

Early today, the spacecraft was trailing the station by about 1,200 miles and closing the gap by about 80 miles each orbit, with additional thruster firings planned today and Saturday.

The Cygnus is packed with 1,300 pounds of food, clothing and other supplies, and some student experiments.

It is flying for the first time on a demonstration mission for NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program.

The mission is a precursor to the start of Orbital’s $1.9 billion contract for eight resupply missions.
Quelle: Florida Today
Update: 21.09.2013
Station Crew Readies for Cygnus' Sunday Arrival

With the Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Cygnus cargo vehicle gradually closing in on the International Space Station for the first time, the Expedition 37 crew conducted a final cargo and robotics review Friday to prepare for the arrival of the new commercial cargo craft.

Cygnus, which launched at 10:58 a.m. EDT Wednesday from at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, was about 1,200 statute miles behind the station as of Friday morning, closing in another 82 statute miles with every orbit as it heads toward Sunday’s rendezvous. 

The two flight engineers aboard the station, NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg and European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano, spent some time studying the rendezvous timeline before moving on to a review of Cygnus’ cargo manifest. Cygnus, which is capable of carrying over 3,700 pounds of cargo within its 662 cubic foot pressurized cargo hold, is delivering around 1,300 pounds of crew supplies on this demonstration flight.

Parmitano and Nyberg wrapped up their preparations Friday with a final review of the procedures for the robotic grapple and berthing of the commercial cargo craft.  Parmitano, with assistance from Nyberg, will be at the controls of the robotics workstation in the cupola to command the station’s s 57-foot robotic arm, Canadarm2, to reach out and grapple the vehicle at 7:25 a.m. Sunday.  He will then maneuver the arm to guide Cygnus to its docking port on the Earth-facing side of the Harmony node for its installation slated to begin at 9:15 a.m.

NASA Television will provide live coverage of all the activities Sunday starting at 4:30 a.m.


NASA Photographer Creates Awesome Private Rocket Launch Photo with Infrared

The Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares rocket, with the Cygnus cargo spacecraft aboard, is seen in this false color infrared image, as it launches from Pad-0A of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS), Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013, NASA Wallops Flight Facility, Va.
Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
Quelle: NASA
Update: 21.09.2013 / 23.00 MESZ

Cygnus In-Orbit Update

September 21, 2013

As of mid-day today, Cygnus continues to perform well in orbit, remaining on track for its rendezvous and berthing with the International Space Station tomorrow morning. At noon today, the Cygnus spacecraft was approximately 400 km behind and 4 km below the ISS, closing the distance between the two at a rate of about 24 km per hour.

NASA will begin live television coverage of Cygnus' approach to the station at 4:30 a.m. (EDT) and will continue through the grapple and berthing activities that are expected to last until late morning. NASA TV can be found at There is also a press conference conference scheduled for 1:00 p.m. that will be carried live on NASA TV.

Cygnus In-Orbit Update

September 20

Earlier today, Cygnus successfully completed its 4th "Delta V" orbit-raising burn as the spacecraft continues to chase the International Space Station in preparation for its rendezvous and berthing on Sunday, September 22. All systems on the Cygnus spacecraft continue to operate very well and the mission is proceeding just as planned. Tomorrow is a relatively quiet operational day for Cygnus before the tempo of demonstrations and approach burns begins to pick up early Sunday morning when final approach to the ISS begins.

Cygnus COTS Demonstration Status

September 20, 2013

Before Cygnus can rendezvous and berth with the International Space Station (ISS), it must perform several thruster firings to raise its orbit and catch up with the ISS. Cygnus must also perform 10 maneuvers to demonstrate the safety capabilities of the Cygnus. Once each demonstration maneuver is complete, Orbital will send a data package to NASA for review to verify that the demonstration has met its objectives.

Since the launch of the spacecraft at 10:58 a.m. on Wednesday, September 18, the Cygnus team has been busy completing the first two of 10 required in-orbit demonstrations and has successfully conducted three Delta V burns to raise Cygnus' orbit. On Friday, September 20 , the team will conduct Delta V burn #4 to raise Cygnus' orbit to within 4 km of the ISS orbit altitude. If needed, an additional burn may be conducted in Saturday, September 21, to "fine tune" Cygnus' orbit.

The Cygnus team is busiest on Sunday, September 22, the day of rendezvous, grapple and berthing with the ISS. That day, the remaining eight demonstrations and a series of smaller Approach Delta Velocity (ADV) burns will be carried out prior to capture by the station crew and berthing with the ISS.

Once the final demonstration maneuver is deemed successful, NASA will give approval for the approach to within 10 meters of the station where Cygnus will be grappled by the robotic arm and guided to its berthing port.

Completed Free drift & abort demonstration Demonstrate the spacecraft’s ability to float freely with all of its thrusters inhibited and to safely move away from the station if necessary
9/22 Position and attitude control demonstration Test the spacecraft’s ability to hold its position
9/22 Relative GPS navigation demonstration Verify the spacecraft’s GPS-based navigation system is operating as expected
9/22 Onboard targeting demonstration Confirm the spacecraft’s ability to maneuver to a targeted position in space
  ADV 1 Raises Cygnus from 4 km below ISS to 1.4 km
9/22 Reaction Engine Assembly (REA) maneuver demonstration Demonstrate Cygnus’ attitude control system’s ability to maneuver
  ADV 2 Moves Cygnus closer to R-Bar (directly below the ISS)
9/22 Hardware Command Panel (HCP) checkout Verify that the ISS crew can command Cygnus using the HCP aboard the Station
  ADV 3 Positions Cygnus to intersect the R-Bar
9/22 LIDAR navigation demonstration Confirm that Cygnus’ laser navigation sensor’s position and velocity data is accurate and as expected in prefight simulations
  ADV 4 Continues Cygnus’ ascent on the R-Bar toward 250m
9/22 ADV 5 Continues Cygnus ascent up the R-bar
9/22 Retreat demonstration Verify that the ISS crew can command Cygnus to retreat away from the ISS, if needed
9/22 Hold demonstration Verify that the ISS crew can command Cygnus to hold during approach, if needed
9/22 LIDAR single reflector tracking demonstration

Demonstrates Cygnus’ LIDAR’s capability to focus on a single reflector on the ISS



Quelle: Orbital


Tags: Cygnus Cargo Vehicle Antares F9 Falcon 


Samstag, 21. September 2013 - 18:30 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Erstmalige Mond-Südpol Mission mit Moon-Express-Lander im Jahre 2016 geplant



The launch of Man’s first-ever mission to the Moon’s south pole was announced by two private US companies which plan to set telescopes on top of a lunar mountain as early as 2016.
The private $100 million enterprise mission will be both scientific and commercial, the International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA) and startup Moon Express said in a joint press release.  
They plan to install a two-meter radio antenna along with a smaller optical telescope on a five-kilometer-high lunar peak of a crater called Malapert.
This “will be the world’s first instrument to conduct international astrophysical observations and communications from the lunar surface, providing scientific research, commercial broadcasting and enabling Galaxy 21st Century education and 'citizen science' on the Moon”, said ILOA on their website. 
The telescopes' location will be able to provide the clearest images of the Milky Way galaxy because they wouldn’t be subjected to hazy interference from the Earth's atmosphere. The moon would also block them from radio and other electromagnetic waves created by modern human technology. The quality of the images is even expected to exceed anything produced by the best space-based instruments.
Though the telescopes on the south pole would depend on costly satellite relays, the great advantage is that they would have a "direct line to Earth," said Steve Durst, founder and director of ILOA, as cited by
Furthermore, the location on the Malpert crater seems to be  beneficial due to the milder climate in contrast with other lunar territories as the south pole gets showered with sun light for 90 per cent of the lunar rotation period (which lasts an Earth month) and enjoys a relatively stable temperature: around -50 degrees Celsius.
The sunlit location would be suitable for solar panels collecting energy, said Durst, averting the need for a nuclear power source. The ILOA director also believes that lunar poles could be the best locations for human settlements on the natural satellite, as they are also a potentially resource-rich area.
“What drives us is the desire to see humanity as a multi-world species,” he said.
Moon Express, which is providing the lander and engineering expertise for the telescope, has commercial ambitions to extract metals and minerals from the moon and sell them back on Earth. Meanwhile the possible water resources could be used by astronauts at an eventual lunar base.
Moon Express plans to send a small rover across the Moon to inspect the surface and what exists there, said entrepreneur Bob Richards, the company’s CEO.
Still, Moon Express has not yet landed a single probe on the lunar surface and is hoping to accomplish its first mission in 2015 in a bid to win the $20 million Google Lunar X-Prize. The mission is to carry a shoebox-sized telescope to test the ILOA’s technology on the moon.
Quelle: RT
Update: 21.09.2013

Mighty Eagle flies again at Marshall

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAAY) - NASA's robotic lander prototype The Mighty Eagle flew another successful flight Friday during a series of tests to validate software for a California-based company.

In addtion to validating flight software made by Moon Express, Inc., the flight also evaluated a new hazard avoidance system designed and developed at Marshall Space Flight Center, which manages the Mighty Eagle project.

As part of an agreement signed between Marshall and Moon Express, Marshall has provided the vehicle and staff to support Moon Express' test flights. The company is reimbursing Marshall for the cost of the support.

Marshall employees said the deal allows them to gather data about their avoidance system while helping Moon Express further its program.

Testing is expected to continue through October.

The Mighty Eagle lander is being used to help develop robotic landers capable of landing on other planetary bodies for research and exploration. It was developed by Marshall Space Flight Center and Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md.



NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center Mighty Eagle Improves Autonomous Landing Software with Successful Flight

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The Mighty Eagle, a NASA robotic prototype lander managed out of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. successfully completed a test flight today as part of a series to help validate software from Moon Express, Inc. The flight also evaluated a new hazard avoidance system designed and developed at the Marshall Center.

Under the terms of a Reimbursable Space Act Agreement signed with Moon Express, the Marshall Center is providing its Mighty Eagle lander test vehicle and engineering team in support of a series of test flights to help validate the company’s Guidance, Navigation and Control (GNC) flight software. Guidance algorithms developed by Moon Express will be integrated into the existing software on-board the Mighty Eagle and used to perform the flight test series. This type of software is designed to tell the vehicle where to go and how to get there. In return, Moon Express is reimbursing NASA Marshall for the cost of providing the test vehicle and technical support.

“We are really excited about this flight series,” said Jason Adam, flight manager for the Mighty Eagle. “By utilizing both existing and new resources and expertise, we are not only gathering data about the innovative hazard avoidance system we designed, but at the same time we are helping Moon Express reach their goals and further their program. This is a great example of the types of partnership NASA is looking to strengthen in order to enable commercial companies to explore new places in our solar system.”

NASA will use the Mighty Eagle and its larger counterpart, the Project Morpheus prototype lander, to mature the technology needed to develop a new generation of small, smart and versatile robotic landers capable of achieving scientific and exploration goals on the surface of planetary bodies.

 “Our partnership with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center is key to our goal of landing the world’s first commercial spacecraft on the moon,” said Moon Express co-founder and CEO Bob Richards. “We have benefitted from NASA’s encouragement and support in every step of our growth and development and we look forward to the results of our flight software tests on the Mighty Eagle.”

The test series is also evaluating a new hazard avoidance system designed and developed by engineers at the Marshall Center. This avoidance hazard system will search for obstacles or hazards like rocks or boulders so that it can steer the vehicle away from those places. The flight series began August 30 and will run through October.

The Mighty Eagle prototype lander was developed by the Marshall Center and Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., for NASA’s Planetary Sciences Division, Headquarters Science Mission Directorate. Key partners in this project include the Von Braun Center for Science and Innovation, which includes the Science Applications International Corporation, Dynetics Corp. and Teledyne Brown Engineering Inc., all of Huntsville.


The Mighty Eagle takes flight with the entire demonstration recorded by the Quad-Copter.


Quelle: NASA

Tags: Moon-Express-Lander 2016 


Samstag, 21. September 2013 - 13:20 Uhr

Astronomie - Enorme Arme von heißem Gas in den Coma -Galaxienhaufen entdeckt


Clues to the Growth of the Colossus in Coma

A team of astronomers has discovered enormous arms of hot gas in the Coma cluster of galaxies by using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and ESA’s XMM-Newton. These features, which span at least half a million light years, provide insight into how the Coma cluster has grown through mergers of smaller groups and clusters of galaxies to become one of the largest structures in the universe held together by gravity.

A new composite image, with Chandra data in pink and optical data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey appearing in white and blue, features these spectacular arms. In this image, the Chandra data have been processed so extra detail can be seen.

The X-ray emission is from multimillion-degree gas and the optical data shows galaxies in the Coma Cluster, which contain only about one-sixth the mass in hot gas. Only the brightest X-ray emission is shown here, to emphasize the arms, but the hot gas is present over the entire field of view.

Researchers think that these arms were most likely formed when smaller galaxy clusters had their gas stripped away by the head wind created by the motion of the cluster through the hot gas, in much the same way that the headwind created by a roller coaster blows the hats off riders.

Coma is an unusual galaxy cluster because it contains not one, but two giant elliptical galaxies near its center. These two giant elliptical galaxies are probably the vestiges from each of the two largest clusters that merged with Coma in the past. The researchers also uncovered other signs of past collisions and mergers in the data.

From their length, and the speed of sound in the hot gas (about four million km/hr), the newly discovered X-ray arms are estimated to be about 300 million years old, and they appear to have a rather smooth shape. This gives researchers some clues about the conditions of the hot gas in Coma. Most theoretical models expect that mergers between clusters like those in Coma will produce strong turbulence, like ocean water that has been churned by many passing ships. Instead, the smooth shape of these lengthy arms points to a rather calm setting for the hot gas in the Coma cluster, even after many mergers.

Large-scale magnetic fields are likely responsible for the small amount of turbulence that is present in Coma. Estimating the amount of turbulence in a galaxy cluster has been a challenging problem for astrophysicists. Researchers have found a range of answers, some of them conflicting, and so observations of other clusters are needed.

Two of the arms appear to be connected to a group of galaxies located about two million light years from the center of Coma. One or both of these arms connects to a larger structure seen in the XMM-Newton data, and spans a distance or at least 1.5 million light years. A very thin tail also appears behind one of the galaxies in Coma. This is probably evidence of gas being stripped from a single galaxy, in addition to the groups or clusters that have merged there.

These new results on the Coma cluster, which incorporate over six days worth of Chandra observing time, will appear in the September 20, 2013, issue of the journal Science. The first author of the paper is Jeremy Sanders from the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, Germany. The co-authors are Andy Fabian from Cambridge University in the UK; Eugene Churazov from the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Garching, Germany; Alexander Schekochihin from University of Oxford in the UK; Aurora Simionescu from Stanford University in Stanford, CA; Stephen Walker from Cambridge University in the UK and Norbert Werner from Stanford University in Stanford, CA.

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra Program for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra's science and flight operations from Cambridge, Mass.

Quelle: NASA


Samstag, 21. September 2013 - 11:00 Uhr

Raumfahrt - NASA beendet Deep Space Comet Hunter Mission


The Deep Impact spacecraft lifted off aboard a Boeing Delta II rocket from pad 17-B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., at 1:47:08.574 p.m. EST on January 12, 2005.



Tempel Fades into Night

Images taken by Deep Impact's flyby spacecraft after it turned around to capture last shots of a receding comet Tempel 1. Earlier, the mission's probe had smashed into the surface of Tempel 1, kicking up the fan-shaped plume of dust seen here behind the comet. Impact occurred at 10:52 p.m. Pacific time, July 3, 2005.

Image credit: NASA/JPL


Tempel Alive with Light

This spectacular image of comet Tempel 1 was taken 67 seconds after it obliterated Deep Impact's impactor spacecraft. The image was taken by the high-resolution camera on the mission's flyby craft. Scattered light from the collision saturated the camera's detector, creating the bright splash seen here. Linear spokes of light radiate away from the impact site, while reflected sunlight illuminates most of the comet surface. The image reveals topographic features, including ridges, scalloped edges and possibly impact craters formed long ago.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UMD


NASA - Maps and Spectra of Ice-rich Areas on Comet Tempel 1

Maps and spectra of ice-rich areas relative to non-ice regions of the nucleus. a) and b) HRI visible (16 m/pixel); c and d) MRI visible (82 m/pixel); e and f) IR (120 m/pixel) data. Note the IR scan at the highest resolution (e and f) only covers the upper half of the nucleus, as shown. The ice-rich areas are mapped in the visible images as combinations of high 450/750 nm (or 387/750 nm for MRI) and low 950/750 nm, and in the infrared by the strength of absorptions at 2.0 µm. The visible spectra are scaled to a value of 1.0 at 750 nm, while the IR spectra are scaled at the same value at 2.0 µm. To facilitate detection of these subtle variations, all data are scaled to the same broad smooth area of the nucleus, indicated by the red boxes. IR spectra from each of the three ice rich regions include distinct absorptions due to water ice (f).

Photo Credit: NASA/UM/SAIC J. M. Sunshine et al., Science 311, 1453 (2006); published online 2 February 2006 (10.1126/science.1123632). Reprinted with permission from AAAS.


This image shows NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft being built at Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation, Boulder, Colo. On July 2, at 10:52 p.m. Pacific time (1:52 a.m. Eastern time, July 3), the spacecraft's impactor will be released from Deep Impact's flyby spacecraft. One day later, it will collide with Tempel 1. The impactor cannot directly talk to Earth, so it will communicate via the flyby spacecraft during its final day.

The two spacecraft communicate at "S-band" frequency. The flyby's S-band antenna is the gold, rectangle-shaped object seen on the spacecraft, in the middle of this picture.

Image credit: Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation


NASA's Deep Space Comet Hunter Mission Comes to an End

PASADENA, Calif. - After almost 9 years in space that included an unprecedented July 4th impact and subsequent flyby of a comet, an additional comet flyby, and the return of approximately 500,000 images of celestial objects, NASA's Deep Impact mission has ended.

The project team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., has reluctantly pronounced the mission at an end after being unable to communicate with the spacecraft for over a month. The last communication with the probe was Aug. 8. Deep Impact was history's most traveled comet research mission, going about 4.7 billion miles (7.58 billion kilometers).

"Deep Impact has been a fantastic, long-lasting spacecraft that has produced far more data than we had planned," said Mike A'Hearn, the Deep Impact principal investigator at the University of Maryland in College Park. "It has revolutionized our understanding of comets and their activity." 

Deep Impact successfully completed its original bold mission of six months in 2005 to investigate both the surface and interior composition of a comet, and a subsequent extended mission of another comet flyby and observations of planets around other stars that lasted from July 2007 to December 2010. Since then, the spacecraft has been continually used as a space-borne planetary observatory to capture images and other scientific data on several targets of opportunity with its telescopes and instrumentation.

Launched in January 2005, the spacecraft first traveled about 268 million miles (431 million kilometers) to the vicinity of comet Tempel 1. On July 3, 2005, the spacecraft deployed an impactor into the path of comet to essentially be run over by its nucleus on July 4. This caused material from below the comet’s surface to be blasted out into space where it could be examined by the telescopes and instrumentation of the flyby spacecraft.  Sixteen days after that comet encounter, the Deep Impact team placed the spacecraft on a trajectory to fly back past Earth in late December 2007 to put it on course to encounter another comet, Hartley 2 in November 2010.

"Six months after launch, this spacecraft had already completed its planned mission to study comet Tempel 1," said Tim Larson, project manager of Deep Impact at JPL. "But the science team kept finding interesting things to do, and through the ingenuity of our mission team and navigators and support of NASA’s Discovery Program, this spacecraft kept it up for more than eight years, producing amazing results all along the way."

The spacecraft's extended mission culminated in the successful flyby of comet Hartley 2 on Nov. 4, 2010. Along the way, it also observed six different stars to confirm the motion of planets orbiting them, and took images and data of Earth, the moon and Mars. These data helped to confirm the existence of water on the moon, and attempted to confirm the methane signature in the atmosphere of Mars.  One sequence of images is a breathtaking view of the moon transiting across the face of Earth. 

In January 2012, Deep Impact performed imaging and accessed the composition of distant comet C/2009 P1 (Garradd). It took images of comet ISON this year and collected early images of ISON in June.

After losing contact with the spacecraft last month, mission controllers spent several weeks trying to uplink commands to reactivate its onboard systems. Although the exact cause of the loss is not known, analysis has uncovered a potential problem with computer time tagging that could have led to loss of control for Deep Impact's orientation. That would then affect the positioning of its radio antennas, making communication difficult, as well as its solar arrays, which would in turn prevent the spacecraft from getting power and allow cold temperatures to ruin onboard equipment, essentially freezing its battery and propulsion systems.

“Despite this unexpected final curtain call, Deep Impact already achieved much more than ever was envisioned," said Lindley Johnson, the Discovery Program Executive at NASA Headquarters, and the Program Executive for the mission since a year before it launched.  "Deep Impact has completely overturned what we thought we knew about comets and also provided a treasure trove of additional planetary science that will be the source data of research for years to come.”

The mission is part of the Discovery Program managed at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. JPL manages the Deep Impact mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. of Boulder, Colo., built the spacecraft. The California Institute of Technology in Pasadena manages JPL for NASA.

Quelle: NASA


Update: 21.09.2013


UMD-Led Deep Impact Ends, Leaves Bright Comet Tale


COLLEGE PARK, Md. - NASA today announced the end of operations for the Deep Impact spacecraft, history's most traveled deep-space comet hunter, after trying unsuccessfully for more than a month to regain contact with the spacecraft.

UMD scientists – who helped conceive the mission, bring it to reality and keep it going years longer than originally planned—say it is a big loss, but find great satisfaction that Deep Impact exceeded all expectations and that the science derived from it transformed our understanding of comets.

"The impact on comet Tempel 1, the flyby of comet Hartley 2, and the remote sensing of comet Garradd have led to so many surprising results that there is a complete rethinking of our understanding of the formation of comets and of how they work.  These small, icy remnants of the formation of our solar system are much more varied, both one from another and even from one part to another of a single comet, than we had ever anticipated," said University of Maryland astronomer Michael A'Hearn, who led the Deep Impact science team from the successful Deep Impact proposal to its unanticipated completion.

"Deep Impact has been a principal focus of my astronomy work for more than a decade and I'm saddened by its functional loss. But, I am very proud of the many contributions to our evolving understanding of comets that it has made possible," A'Hearn said.


First Look Inside a Comet        
Deep Impact first made history and world-wide headlines on July 4, 2005 when a small impactor spacecraft – a refrigerator-sized probe released from the main craft – collided spectacularlywith comet Tempel 1 at 23,000 mph to give scientists their first-ever view of pristine material from inside a comet.

A comet is composed of dust and ices and that form its body (nucleus) and tail (coma). The tail is created when heat from the Sun causes the body of the comet to give off dust and ice, forming a cloud that surrounds and extends out from the nucleus. According to A'Hearn the key goal of the Deep Impact's mission to Tempel 1 was to look for differences between the composition of the sun-heated surface of a comet's nucleus and its colder, more primordial interior. "Much to our surprise, and contrary to most theoretical models, the different ices [of water, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide] that were excavated from as deep as 20 meters had the same relative abundances as the ones that were evaporating just below the surface," he said.

A'Hearn noted that science results of this mission also showed comets could be surprisingly fluffy. "We found that the nucleus of Tempel 1 as a whole is at least 50 percent empty space and the surface layer at the impact site at least 75 percent empty space. This finding confirmed the correctness of some previous indirect observations suggesting comets could be more porous than expected."

And he said the wide variety of craters and other surface features, and particularly the prominent layering of the nucleus found on this comet imply that the nuclei of short-period comets (those which orbit the Sun every 20 years or less) are not fragments of larger bodies as had been argued by many scientists.


An Extended Mission x 2
After the original mission was complete, the University of Maryland-led science team convinced NASA to keep the spacecraft operational and consider new mission proposals. Working with scientists from the NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center just down the road in Greenbelt, Md., they ultimately created two missions in one. The Deep Impact spacecraft and its three working instruments (two color cameras and an infrared spectrometer) headed for an extended flyby of comet Hartley 2. On the way Deep Impact's high resolution camera searched for Earth-sized planets around other stars.

This extended mission culminated in the successful flyby of comet Hartley 2 – one of a small subset of known, hyperactive comets – on Nov. 4, 2010 during which the spacecraft flew through and imaged a "snow storm" of large and small fluffy ice particles. The team's analysis showed carbon dioxide was the volatile fuel generating the ice spewing jets that created this cosmic snow cloud.

Imaging 2 Comets in from the Cold
In January of 2012, the Deep Impact teams used the spacecraft's instruments for a distant campaign studying comet Garradd.  After spending some 4 billion years in the Siberia of the solar system, a distant, frozen region known as the Oort Cloud, the comet was making one of its first few passages close to the sun. Observations of Garradd led Maryland and other scientists to re-examine the behavior of frozen gases in comets and the gas jets that result when these ices are warmed by the Sun.

In 2013 the Deep Impact team was using the spacecraft to study another comet on its first time visitor from the Oort Cloud to the inner solar system, comet ISON. This study-from-a-distance campaign was cut short by the failure of the spacecraft.

"The core of the Deep Impact mission was a controlled planetary-scale impact experiment, but in the end it was so much more," said UMD astronomer and Deep Impact mission scientist Jessica Sunshine. "Deep Impact treated us to views of beautiful landscapes including flows, cliffs, and spires that we could never have imagined, flew us through a cloud of ice surrounding Hartley 2, and along the way also confirmed that the surface of the Moon is hydrated.

"The new perspective and the new series of questions raised by Deep Impact has inspired us to propose a new mission to understand the diversity of comets that Deep Impact revealed," said Sunshine, who was deputy principal investigator for the extended mission to Hartley 2. "Comet Hopper (CHopper) would be a cometary rover that would not be limited to tantalizing data from flyby comets. Instead it would explore a comet in detail, hopping from landform to landform, as the comet moves from the outer to the inner Solar System."

The Deep Impact mission is part of the Discovery Program managed at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. The University of Maryland, College Park, is home to Michael A'Hearn, principal investigator for Deep Impact, and of eight other mission scientists. JPL manages the Deep Impact mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The spacecraft was built for NASA by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo.


Deep Impact Science Highlights

Originally built to conduct a mission to one comet, under the guidance of the University of Maryland science team the Deep Impact spacecraft ended up gathering information from four different comets, Earth and the Moon. In the process it provided insights into the forces that created comets 4.5 billion years ago and drive them today, and into the origin of our solar system.

  • Deep Impact’s intentional collision with Tempel 1 on July 4, 2005 provided the first hard information about the nucleus, or solid body of a comet. The collision revealed that Tempel 1 was surprisingly fluffy – like a bank of powder snow, consisting of 75 percent to 80 percent empty space, which insulated the interior from the comet’s surface heat.
  • The Tempel 1 encounter produced the first finding of water ice on the surface of a comet, and the first observations of natural impact craters on a comet, layers of material in the nucleus, flows, and other surprising features. Based on these observations and related findings, scientists now think many comets’ nuclei formed gradually, rather than in violent collisions as previously believed. 
  • In a 2007 flyby en route to a new mission, Deep Impact created video of Earth as seen from 31 million miles away. The video helped scientists know what to look for as they search for faraway Earth-like planets orbiting other stars.
  • Deep Impact proved there is water on the surface of the Moon. Deep Impact’s scientists found a thin layer of water molecules forms on the lunar surface and then dissipates each day. The discovery, confirming observations by the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft and the Cassini space probe, was made on the fly as Deep Impact passed the Moon in 2007 and 2009.
  • As its two telescopic cameras captured spectacular images of jets of material shooting from the surface of comet Hartley 2 in October 2010, Deep Impact revealed that dry ice, or carbon dioxide gas, is the jet fuel for that comet, and perhaps for other hyperactive comets. Scientists previously thought water vapor powered the jets of dust and gas coming off the nuclei of comets.
  • Observations of comet Garrad in 2012 showed a remarkably high abundance of carbon asartmonoxide, making this comet different than others studied. This puzzling find may be explained through future observations of more comets.
  • Taken together, Deep Impact’s missions revealed that comets’ nuclei can be very different from one another. Scientists were inspired to rethink their ideas of where and how comets formed. They now think a group of comets that orbit the Sun every 20 years or less probably formed relatively close to Earth, and may be a source of our planet’s water.
  • Deep Impact’s instruments made the first systematic observations of newly discovered comet ISON, a sungrazer comet making its first approach to the Sun in December 2013.  Loss of contact with the spacecraft prevented the science team from gathering valuable data as ISON approaches the Sun.
  • The historic moment when Deep Impact’s refrigerator-sized impact craft collided with Tempel 1 made headlines worldwide, with more than a billion hits on the mission website. By boosting public enthusiasm for unmanned spacecraft exploration, Deep Impact has undoubtedly inspired a new generation of astronomers and astrophysicists.

Quelle: University System of Maryland

Tags: Deep Impact Science Highlights 


Freitag, 20. September 2013 - 09:20 Uhr

Raumfahrt - DLR testet australisches Raumfahrzeug / Scramspace 1 Testflug im September



Können neuartige Triebwerke den Flug ins All leichter und preiswerter machen? Dieser Frage gehen Forscher des Deutschen Zentrums für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) in einem der europaweit bedeutendsten Hyperschallwindkanäle in Göttingen nach. Sie testen den Antrieb des australischen Experimental-Raumfahrzeuges SCRAMSPACE 1, das 2013 starten soll.

Flug bei 10-15facher Schallgeschwindigkeit?

Dabei handelt es sich um einen so genannten Scramjet  (Supersonic Combustion Ramjet – Staustrahltriebwerk mit Überschallverbrennung). Das ist ein Triebwerk, das Hyperschallflüge bis Mach 15 ermöglichen soll. Im Gegensatz zu normalen Düsentriebwerken gibt es keine beweglichen Teile. Dafür muss ein Scramjet erst auf Hyperschallgeschwindigkeit beschleunigt werden, um zu funktionieren.

Australien gilt als eines der führenden Länder in der Erforschung der Scramjet-Technologie. In einem Flugversuch wurde dort 2002 erstmals die Funktionsfähigkeit einer Scramjet-Brennkammer nachgewiesen. Bereits damals war das DLR beteiligt.

Potentielle Vorteile von Scramjets

Die Australier setzen in Scramjets große Erwartungen für die Zukunft der Raumfahrt. „Sie könnten die Effizienz und Zuverlässigkeit erhöhen und die Kosten senken“, hofft SCRAMSPACE-Projektleiter Professor Russell Boyce von der Universität Queensland. Der Vorteil von Scramjets: Da sie den Sauerstoff aus der Luft nehmen, braucht er nicht mittransportiert zu werden. Nach den Vorstellungen von Boyce würde ein Scramjet idealerweise mit einer mehrstufigen Rakete kombiniert werden.

Weiter geht es hier:

Fotos: DLR


Update: 25.08.2013


Sending 'Scramspace' out of this world

A small team from the University of Queensland are preparing to launch a hypersonic scramjet, which could ultimately change the way we travel.


In September the team from the University of Queensland (UQ) will launch the 1.8 metre hypersonic scramjet 'Scramspace 1' from the Andoya Rocket Range in the Arctic regions of Norway in an experiment that will bring Australia one step closer to designing "vehicles of the future".

On launch day rockets will boost 'Scramspace 1' to an altitude of 80km where it will detach and become a free-flying scramjet.

Momentum will carry it to 340km above the Earth, where the real test will last just three seconds as the jet swan dives back to earth eight times faster that the speed of sound, melting at re-entry.

Professor Boyce, head of the Scramspace 1 project and chair of hypersonics at UQ says the project will ultimately test everything from high-temperature materials that could change the face of manufacturing industries to the viability of putting satellites into space for around half the cost.

"We have a's possible that we might even be able to put satellites into space for half the cost.

"If you take out one of the rocket stages and put in a scramjet instead, the efficiency goes up and the cost goes down remarkably," Professor Boyce says.

But if the prospect of a satellites and an air-breathing jet engine shooting up into the exoatmosphere (or out of the earth's atmosphere) at Mach 8 speed (that's eight times faster than the speed of sound) doesn't interest you - perhaps the impact this technology will have on air travel might.

"Travelling at that speed could mean a 45 minute flight between Australia and South Africa," according to Professor Boyce, but probably just not for another 50 years.

"Maybe we'll see operational vehicles in the next decade, but to put people on NASA has found out, the difference between flying a rocket into space and flying people into space on that rocket, is a whole new ball game."

The project, which was established with funding by the Australian Space Research Program, is also developing technologies which have applications outside of the aerospace industry.

"On the flight experiment there are some high-temperature materials, some ultra-high temperature ceramic materials being tested. These are useful for not just for high speed flight, but for high temperature manufacturing," Professor Boyce says.

Inside mission control

The team's Technical Lead Dr Sandy Tirtey is in charge of making sure the Scramspace 1 jet is in shape to perform the experiment in Norway, even at T minus one minute.

Inside a small mission control room from the test site Dr Tirtey will communicate with each workstation responsbile for a different part of the flight experiment.

"There are plenty of things that can go wrong. The last two minutes are very intense. No one touches the computer, we're just monitoring. And I am disconnecting every single system that is connected to the payload."

"This is a process where you have to be very quiet and very focussed on what you are doing. So if it goes to plan we will be cheering at every single step!"

Ahead of the pack

This is not the first time the hypersonics team at UQ have made hypersonic waves.

In 2002 the UQ's HyShot program beat NASA to perform the first successful test flight of a scramjet.

Dr Tirtey believes Australia has a unique position in the field due to the team's work with 'Scramspace 1'.

"I think Australia has a card to play in the world of hypersonics," he says, "because the approach we have taken is very novel. We have a small team, controlling every single aspect, so we have this project really well in hand."

He says his former employer, the European Space Agency, would have taken 10 years and 10 times the budget to accomplish what the team at UQ have in three years.

According to Professor Boyce most flight experiments of this nature take a lot longer, and cost more than the $3.5 million price tag attached to Scramspace.












Dr Sandy Tirtey and Professor Russell Boyce with Scramspace 1 at the University of Queensland. The scramjet engine is shown to the public for the last time before the Norway launch in September. (Emma Sykes - ABC Multiplatform)

Quelle: ABC Brisbane


About the Project

The SCRAMSPACE project was established with $5 million Commonwealth funding through the Australian Space Research Program. The project forms the hub of a capability for ongoing scramjet flight programs to contribute to the talent pool for future flight tests and the Australian space and aerospace industry. It has already achieved success in this with a cohort of highly talented people assembled to work on the project.

By addressing key scientific and technological questions, the consortium is conducting a flight-test of a free-flying scramjet at Mach 8, and ground-tests at up to Mach 14.


SCRAMSPACE - the next frontier

A talented new team of young scientists and engineers at The University of Queensland (UQ) is building a hypersonic scramjet which will fly at 8600 km/h in South Australia next year.

The research is the first phase of SCRAMSPACE - the development of a high-tech Australian capability set to revolutionise the way the world launches satellites into space.

“A scramjet is an airbreathing engine for hypersonic craft that travel at many times the speed of sound, for high speed transport in Earth's atmosphere or along trajectories to space, Professor Russell Boyce said.

"They improve the efficiency and reliability and reduce the cost of inserting satellites into orbit."

Professor Boyce is the SCRAMSPACE director and Chair in Hypersonics at UQ.

“Australia is a world leader in scramjet development," he said.

"We now have an opportunity to build a scramjet-based industry in this country, in international partnership.

"The SCRAMSPACE project is building capacity and capability towards such an industry.

“The flight team is supported by scramjet specialists at UQ's Centre for Hypersonics and the Defence, Science and Technology Organisation's (DSTO) Applied Hypersonics Branch in Brisbane.

"Several PhD students are contributing to the technology."

Professor Boyce said the SCRAMSPACE project had been established with Commonwealth funding to form the hub of a capability for ongoing space-access flight programs and to contribute to the talent pool for a future Australian space industry.

In line with that, the Australian aerospace industry was playing a key role in the project.

He said that including new researchers in support activities around the country, nine professional positions had resulted already.

The next phase of SCRAMSPACE is already on the drawing board.

If funded, graduating students will be channelled into the team to bring it to the critical mass necessary to develop the capability, and to assist Australia's aerospace industry to eventually corner part of the world's multi-billion dollar space market.

"In the meantime, it establishes partnership with the key players internationally from whom other space-related technologies can be accessed," he said.

"Very importantly, it gives us a voice in the international space arena, to be able to participate in discussions on space regulations and activity that will affect us.”

Professor Boyce said that Australia depended heavily on space-based technologies.

“In the coming years and decades, Australia needs secure and assured access to the space environment and to the workhorse applications of space, for satellite communications, remote sensing, and timing and positioning information,” he said.

“These will play important roles in Australia's future development.

“We are dependent on space, yet far from self-sufficient, and the fragile space environment is congested and cluttered with debris. For both reasons, we are vulnerable.

“We need to be able to provide leadership in the councils which regulate the space environment and space activities, in order to minimise our current vulnerabilities in space.

“This access and leadership will depend on Australia's international space credentials, the prerequisites for which will be demonstrable capability and commitment in the space arena.

“Building capacity for a scramjet-based small satellite launch capability and industry will assist Australia's credentials enormously.”

Today the scramjet, SCRAMSPACE I, is on track for launch at Woomera in South Australia late next year, having just passed a major design review.

According to Dr Sandy Tirtey, the Technical Lead and focal point of the new team, the scramjet has passed its preliminary concept development phase.

“We have another design review set for July and are aiming at the Critical Design Review in October this year," Dr Tirtey said.

"After that, we start the process of manufacture, assembly, and extensive pre-flight tests.”

The 1.8 metre long scramjet vehicle will be boosted by two rockets to about 340km above the Earth.

After leaving the atmosphere, the scramjet will be separated from the rocket, and the fins that will keep it stable on its return through the atmosphere will be deployed and locked.

On its way down, the bullet-shaped vehicle will be accelerated by gravity to Mach 8, and the experiment will take place between 32km and 27km above the Earth.

The flight will include experimental diode laser flight instrumentation and advanced high temperature materials with embedded sensors.

In parallel, scramjet concepts will be tested at even greater speeds — up to Mach 14 — in UQ's world-class hypersonic ground-test facilities, and simulated with supercomputers.

This first phase of SCRAMSPACE is the largest project, “Scramjet-based Access-to-Space Systems”, to be funded under the Commonwealth government's Australian Space Research Program (ASRP).

SCRAMSPACE has attracted 5 million dollars of ASRP funding and is also supported by nine million dollars from an international partnership consortium.

The 13-member international consortium is led by UQ.

Partners in the program include four Australian universities — UQ, the University of New South Wales, the University of Adelaide, and the University of Southern Queensland; and a US university, the University of Minnesota.

It also includes space agencies and research organisations from Germany, Japan and Italy respectively ; DSTO; the Australian Youth Aerospace Association; and industry partners including Brisbane firm Teakle Composites Pty Ltd, Cairns firm AIMTEK Pty Ltd, and BAE Systems.

Professor Boyce said the project was 12 months old and "going like a scramjet".

SCRAMSPACE scramjet flight gets the green light

It's all systems go for the experimental SCRAMSPACE scramjet flight, which passed its Critical Design Review in Brisbane recently.

SCRAMSPACE is a free-flying hypersonic scramjet which will fly at 8600km/h next year, at the Andøya Rocket Range 300km north of the Arctic Circle in Norway.

A $14 million international consortium of partners in five countries, led by The University of Queensland's Centre for Hypersonics, is behind the project, which is developing a new type of scramjet.

The project has enabled a flight team of 10 talented scientists and engineers to assemble at UQ, supported by the research of a further thirteen PhD students and postdocs.

Seven more are working on the project at partner universities: the University of New South Wales, University of Adelaide, and University of Southern Queensland.

Scramjets are air-breathing engines capable of travelling at hypersonic speeds.

They offer a safe, reliable and economical means for launching satellites into space.

Australia depends critically on satellites for communications, navigation, remote sensing, and much more.

SCRAMSPACE Director and Chair for Hypersonics at UQ Professor Russell Boyce said that passing the review under the scrutiny of the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) and others was a major project milestone.

“The SCRAMSPACE flight team has done an incredible job so far," he said.

“With training and support from our colleagues at DSTO, a state-of-the-art experimental scramjet vehicle has been fully designed, on time and on budget.

“Scramjets and hypersonic flight are the next big step for aerospace.

"As we tackle this challenge, the SCRAMSPACE team represents the talent pool needed to take our science and technology to the sky in future flight tests.”

The flight experiment Technical Lead, Dr Sandy Tirtey, described the next phase of the project as critical.

“It's a very exciting stage in the project," he said.

"Our team now has a big effort ahead in manufacture, assembly and pre-flight testing to be able to fly next year.

“This will include installation of special high temperature ceramic components from our partners in Germany and Italy, a high temperature carbon-fibre thrust nozzle from another partner, Teakle Composites in Brisbane, and a laser flight instrument from UNSW.

"The pre-flight testing is extremely important, and will be supported heavily by our major industry partner BAE Systems.

"They have developed a sophisticated Hardware-in-the-Loop test capability, and will put the payload through a series of virtual missions in order to detect any faults."

The research surrounding SCRAMSPACE is also going well.

Fundamental scramjet research has been conducted in UQ's T4 shock tunnel, as well as the very large shock tunnels at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Göttingen, Germany and at the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) near Sendai, Japan.

Ground tests at USQ's hypersonic wind tunnel and UQ's X3 expansion tunnel will begin soon, followed by materials testing in a plasma hypersonic wind tunnel at the Italian Aerospace Research Center (CIRA) near Naples in Italy.

“X3 is the only facility in the world that can be used for testing meaningful scale scramjets at very high flight speed and at the actual dynamic pressures experienced by vehicles on ascent-to-space trajectories," Professor Boyce said.

"We've been assisted in this with infrastructure contributions from our partner AIMTEK.”

The research also makes intensive use of Australia's supercomputing research infrastructure to perform computational studies of the complex scramjet flow processes.

The flight team, aside from Professor Boyce and Dr Tirtey, includes Dr Melrose Brown, Dr Michael Creagh, Dr Bianca Capra, Igor Dimitrijevic, Paul van Staden, Amy Dedman, Brad Sharp and Adrian Pudsey.

The SCRAMSPACE flight experiment

The 1.8-metre-long spacecraft will be transported to an altitude of 340 kilometres by a two-stage rocket. After leaving the atmosphere, the scramjet vehicle will separate from the rocket, and orient itself for the re-entry with small thrusters.

During the return flight, the vehicle will be accelerated by gravity to Mach 8 – about 8600 kilometres per hour.

The part of the experiment important to the scientists takes place at an altitude of between 27 and 32 kilometres. This is where the scramjet's hydrogen fuel will be injected, and a wide range of instruments will analyse the combustion and measure thrust.

About the project

The SCRAMSPACE project was established with $5 million Commonwealth funding through the Australian Space Research Program.

The project forms the hub of a capability for ongoing scramjet flight programs to contribute to the talent pool for future flight tests and the Australian space and aerospace industry.

It has already achieved success in this with a cohort of highly talented people assembled to work on the project.

By addressing key scientific and technological questions, the consortium is conducting a flight-test of a free-flying scramjet at Mach 8, and ground-tests at up to Mach 14.

Partners in the program include four Australian universities — UQ, the University of New South Wales, the University of Adelaide, and the University of Southern Queensland; and a US university, the University of Minnesota.

It also includes aerospace agencies and research organisations from Germany (DLR), Japan (JAXA) and Italy (CIRA); DSTO; the Australian Youth Aerospace Association; and industry partners including Brisbane firm Teakle Composites Pty Ltd, Cairns firm AIMTEK Pty Ltd, and BAE Systems.


Exotic Italian research hitches a ride on UQ hypersonic scramjet

An exotic ceramic material that could one day be used to build hypersonic flight craft will be hitching a ride on a free-flying scramjet flight experiment built by The University of Queensland's SCRAMSPACE flight team.

Scientists from the Italian Aerospace Research Center (CIRA) were in Brisbane recently to install two winglets made from Ultra High Temperature Ceramic (UHTC) onto the outer skin of the scramjet, in preparation for a test flight in Norway later this year.

The flight, SCRAMSPACE I, is one of the activities of the international 13-partner $14M SCRAMSPACE Scramjet-based Access-to-Space Systems project, part funded by the Australian Space Research Program.

Scramjets are air-breathing engines capable of travelling at hypersonic speeds.

SCRAMSPACE I will be boosted to these speeds by a two-stage rocket that launches the scramjet out of the atmosphere and into space. The rocket will be launched by the Mobile Rocket Base (MORABA) of the German Aerospace Center (DLR), one of the SCRAMSPACE partners.

After leaving the atmosphere, the 1.8m scramjet vehicle will separate from the rocket and orient itself for the re-entry with small thrusters. During the descent, the vehicle will be accelerated by gravity to Mach 8 – about 8600 kilometres per hour. The actual experiment takes place when the scramjet has dropped to altitudes where there is enough air to enable the engine to operate.

Dr Sandy Tirtey, Project Manager and Technical Lead for the flight experiment, said the scramjet would reach tremendous speeds that create extreme heat, so it was the ideal opportunity to test the material in a true flight environment.

“When the jet turns to come back to earth, it reaches speeds of Mach 8 (8600km/h) in the atmosphere. When reaching the denser part of the atmosphere on its way down, it starts to heat up very quickly, up to 1500 degrees Celsius, ” Dr Tirtey said.

Lab tests have already proven that the UHTC can withstand a temperature of 2000 degrees Celsius, and functional testing is a vital next step in establishing its suitability for practical application.

According to SCRAMSPACE Director and Scientific Lead for the flight, Professor Russell Boyce, it will take advantage of the rare opportunity to test not only Australia's world-leading scramjet science in hypersonic flight conditions, but also high temperature materials and construction methods, advanced avionics, instrumentation and telecommunications.

For example, The University of New South Wales (UNSW) will use the flight to test a diode-laser-based flight-conditions monitor, and a high temperature carbon-fibre thrust nozzle from Teakle Composites in Brisbane will be important to ensure the outcomes of the flight.

A collection of in-flight temperature and pressure sensors will enable the rapid collection of all necessary data before the scramjet disintegrates as it reaches dense air at low altitude.

“The scramjet is not designed to survive, but the spirit of the project is to get the data that will demonstrate that all the tools we have been working on for the last few years are working,” Dr Tirtey said.

CIRA Thermo-Structural expert Dr Roberto Gardi said the UHTC ceramic would not melt, but it could break, so researchers need to find ways to attach the brittle ceramic to more conventional materials.

“We want to have the structural behaviour of metal and the thermal protection of ceramic – the best of two worlds,” he said.

The CIRA team, together with UQ's flight team, worked together to attach the ceramic in the form of two small “winglets”, about the size of a door handle, onto the outer shell of the scramjet. After screwing it into place, they then had to painstakingly remove any protrusion.

“It is important to have a smooth surface, since a local imperfection can cause much heating. A protrusion of even 0.1mm can cause heating of up to 10 times – and burn the surface,” said Dr Gardi.

“Everything we do takes a lot of time. We need to be sure nothing is going to come loose because of vibrations. We only get one shot.”

The ultimate aim is to find materials that can be used to build parts for practical applications such as hypersonic aircraft for passenger flight and for transporting satellites to orbit efficiently and quickly.

Theoretically, hypersonic passenger aircraft could fly up to Mach 6, 7 and beyond, Dr Tirtey said.

“The hypersonic planes of the future will have a sharp shape such as the Concorde (which reached speeds of Mach 2), but the nose will be the hottest part, as well as the edge of the wings. So we need a different material to make these parts,” Dr Tirtey said.

Quality Assurance and Project Manager for CIRA's winglets, Dr Antonio Del Vecchio, said the test flight was a golden opportunity.

“It is not easy to have access to space flight, so experimenting is not easy,” he said.

It would be CIRA's second flight test on ceramic space flight materials since the research started in the 1960s. The first was in 2010 in Sweden.

About the SCRAMSPACE project

SCRAMSPACE was the first and largest project funded by the Australian Space Research Program. Building on Australia's world-class hypersonics heritage, its core objective is to build capacity and capability, in particular a talent pool, for the Australian space and aerospace industry.

This is achieved partly by means of the Mach 8 flight experiment, for which a team of exceptional young scientists and engineers has been assembled, and partly through extensive ground-based research involving many PhD students at UQ and partner universities.

Partners in the program include four Australian universities — UQ, UNSW, the University of Adelaide and the University of Southern Queensland — and a US university, the University of Minnesota.

It also includes Australia's Defence Science and Technology Organisation, who have assisted with training and access to equipment; industry partners BAE Systems, Teakle Composites and AIMTEK; aerospace agencies and research organisations from Germany (DLR), Japan (JAXA) and Italy (CIRA); and the Australian Youth Aerospace Association.


CIRA was created in 1984 to manage PRORA, the Italian Aerospace Research Program, and uphold Italy's leadership in Aeronautics and Space.

CIRA is a company with public and private sector shareholders. The participation of research bodies, local government and aeronautics and space industries sharing a common goal has led to the creation of unique test facilities, unmatched anywhere in the world, and of air and space flying labs.

The CIRA is located in a 180-hectare area north of Naples. It has a staff of 320, most of whom are engaged in domestic and international research.





  • SCRAMSPACE is a 1.8 metre-long free-flying hypersonic scramjet – and the research project that surrounds it.
  • Scramjets are air-breathing engines that travel at hypersonic speeds.
  • The SCRAMSPACE is designed to operate at 8600km/h or eight times the speed of sound (Mach 8).

What happens now?

  • All going well, in August 2013, the scramjet will be carefully packaged and sent, via air post, 14,600km away to Norway.
  • The scramjet will reach an altitude of 340 kilometres by a two-stage rocket. After leaving the atmosphere, it will separate from the rocket and reorient for re-entry.
  • On the return flight, the team will have a three-second window to collect key data from various flight sensors, before the scramjet disintegrates.
  • This data will provide insights into hypersonic physics, hypersonic combustion, performance of materials and components and how hypersonic vehicles will be designed to fly in the future.
  • Lab tests on the various test components have so far been positive, but the real-life launch is considered the ultimate test.

Other background

  • SCRAMSPACE was the first and largest project funded by the Australian Space Research Program.
  • Australia has a reputation for world-class hypersonics.
  • The team is a $14 million international consortium of partners in five countries, Australia, Germany, Italy, Japan and USA, and led by The University of Queensland's Centre for Hypersonics.
  • The core objective is to build capacity and capability, in particular a talent pool, for the Australian space and aerospace industry.
  • Quelle: Centre for Hypersonics 
Update: 20.09.2013
Australian-geführten Scramjet Test endet in Misserfolg
A long-awaited test of an Australian supersonic combustion ramjet, or scramjet, engine ended in failure Sept. 18 when the rocket carrying the experiment was unable to reach the proper altitude.
According to a press release issued by the University of Queensland, which was leading the project, the two-stage sounding rocket carrying the Scramspace-1 experiment lifted off from Norway’s Andoya Rocket Range but failed to reach the altitude necessary for the experiment to begin.
“The Scramspace payload, according to our data, was operating perfectly and performed extremely well before and during the launch, and we received telemetry data all the way into the water,” project director Russell Boyce, of the University of Queensland, said in a prepared statement. “Unfortunately the failed launch meant we could not carry out the experiment as planned.” 
The experiment was three years in the making and cost 14 million Australian dollars ($13 million), which was provided by the Australian Space Research Program. The launch mishap is under investigation, the press release said.
Featuring a Brazilian first stage and a U.S.-supplied Orion second stage, the sounding rocket was supposed to have carried the Scramspace engine to an altitude of 340 kilometers, according to information posted on the University of Queensland’s website. From there the air-breathing scramjet was to reorient itself, ignite and accelerate to Mach 8, or 8,600 kilometers per hour, on a downward trajectory, providing three seconds of data before crashing into the ocean.
“The team is very disappointed,” Royce said. “The project represents a lot of time, effort and money by a committed consortium of partners and sponsors.”
In addition to the University of Queensland’s Hypersonics Research Centre, the Scramspace team included BAE Systems along with partners from several other companies and countries. The German Aerospace Center, DLR, provided the launch.
Boyce sought to put a positive spin on the mishap, noting the successes the program has achieved to date. “We set out to create a highly skilled talent pool of scientists, engineers and researchers, and to establish international credibility. We have done both of these in spades,” he said.
Scramspace was the latest in a series of Australian experiments with scramjet engines, which are viewed by some as one of the keys to low-cost access to space. Scramjets draw the oxygen needed for combustion directly from the atmosphere, whereas conventional rocket engines must carry their own oxidizer, adding considerably to vehicle weight.

Australia’s scramjet experiment has been discontinued

Australia's SCRAMSPACE hypersonic flight experiment from the Andøya Rocket Range in Norway has been discontinued, following an unsuccessful launch. 

The team can confirm the launch took place and both the first and the second stages of the launch have landed safely in the water. 

However it appears at this stage that the payload did not reach the correct conditions to begin collecting data as planned. 

SCRAMSPACE Director, Professor Russell Boyce said the team was disappointed that the project had been discontinued and is investigating the cause. 

The research project, led by The University of Queensland, aims to improve access to critical space-based technologies such as remote sensing, satellite communications and position, navigation and timing. 
SCRAMSPACE team awaits further information on launch
The SCRAMSPACE research team is awaiting the outcomes of an investigation by the Andøya Rocket Range on the unsuccessful launch of the research experiment. 
SCRAMSPACE Director and University of Queensland Hypersonics Chair Professor Russell Boyce said the most important factor was that people were safe, and both first and second stages of the rocket and the payload had landed in the sea. 
“The range has assured us that everyone is safe, no one has been hurt and no one is in danger, which is the most important thing,” Professor Boyce said. 
“But the launch did not go as expected. 
“The rocket carrying the scramjet launched at 3pm (Norwegian time, 11pm Brisbane time), however the payload failed to achieve the correct altitude to begin the scientific experiment as planned. 
“The SCRAMSPACE payload, according to our data, was operating perfectly and performed extremely well before and during the launch, and we received telemetry data all the way into the water. 
“Unfortunately the failed launch meant we could not carry out the experiment as planned.” 
“The team is very disappointed. The project represents a lot of time, effort and money by a committed consortium of partners and sponsors.” 
Professor Boyce said the launch was just the final part of a three-year project that had achieved much of what it set out to achieve. 
“We set out to create a highly skilled talent pool of scientists, engineers and researchers, and to establish international credibility. We have done both of these in spades,” he said. 
“The team can be immensely proud of what they achieved to this point.” 
However, he said the team was keen to hear the outcomes of the range's investigation into the cause. 
“As with all launches, there is a risk that something will go wrong. Unfortunately for the SCRAMSPACE team, something went wrong, and we are looking forward to hearing from the range on what happened,” Professor Boyce said. 
The Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) and UQ are working with the Andøya Rocket Range and DLR to gather as much information as possible to determine the source of the problem. 
About the SCRAMSPACE project 
SCRAMSPACE is the first and largest project funded by the Australian Space Research Program. It builds on Australia's world-class hypersonics heritage, and its core objective is to build capacity and capability, in particular a talent pool, for the Australian space and aerospace industry. 
This is achieved partly by means of the Mach 8 flight experiment, for which a team of exceptional young scientists and engineers has been assembled, and partly through extensive ground-based research involving many PhD students at UQ and partner universities. 
The design, development and testing of the flight experiment payload has been led and performed by UQ with major support from Australia's Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO), who are coordinating the launch campaign. 
The University of New South Wales (UNSW) and the Italian Aerospace Research Center (CIRA) have provided additional onboard experiments, while the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and industry partners BAE Systems and Teakle Composites have played key roles with provision of flight hardware, pre-flight testing and launching the rocket (DLR). 
Other partners in the program, involved in the ground-based aspects, are the University of Adelaide, University of Southern Queensland, University of Minnesota, Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), AIMTEK, and the Australian Youth Aerospace Association.
Quelle: The University of Queensland

Tags: Scramspace 1 Andøya Rocket Range 


Freitag, 20. September 2013 - 08:59 Uhr

Mars-Chroniken - Curiosity´s fehlender Methan Nachweis fordert theoretisches Leben heraus


The Curiosity rover's failure to detect methane on Mars is a blow to theories that the planet may still host some types of life, say mission scientists.
Telescopes and satellites have reported seeing small but significant volumes of the gas, but the six-wheeled robot can pick up no such trace.
On Earth, 95% of atmospheric methane is produced by microbial organisms.
Researchers have hung on to the hope that the molecule's signature at Mars might also indicate a life presence.
The inability of Curiosity's sophisticated instrumentation to make this detection is likely now to dent this optimism.
"Based on previous measurements, we were expecting to go there and find 10 parts per billion (ppbv) or more, and we were excited about finding it. So when you go to search for something and you don't find it, there's a sense of disappointment," said Dr Chris Webster, the principal investigator on Curiosity's Tuneable Laser Spectrometer (TLS).
The Nasa rover's search is reported online in a paper published by Science Magazine.
Curiosity has been sucking in Martian air and scanning its components since shortly after landing in August 2012.
From these tests, it has not been possible to discern any methane to within the present limits of the TLS's sensitivity.
This means that if the gas is there, it can constitute no more than 1.3ppbv of the atmosphere - equivalent to just over 10,000 tonnes of the gas.
This upper limit is about six times lower than the previous estimates of what should be present, based on the satellite and telescope observations.
Deep down
The number of 1.3ppbv is very low, and will put a question mark against the robustness of those earlier measurements.
The fact that Curiosity is working at ground level and in one location should not matter, as the Martian atmosphere is known to mix well over the course of half a year.
Methane at Mars could have a number of possible sources, of course - not just microbial activity.
It could be delivered by comets or asteroids, or produced internally by geological processes.
Telescopes have reported relatively strong signals (red = 10ppbv) in the past
But it is the link to life that has most intrigued planetary scientists.
Earth's atmosphere contains billions of tonnes of methane, the vast majority of it coming from microbes, such as the bacteria found in the digestive tracts of animals.
The speculation has been that some methane-producing bugs, or methanogens, could perhaps exist on Mars if they lived underground, away from the planet's harsh surface conditions.
This theory was bolstered by the previous observations making their detections in spring-time. It was suggested that the seasonal rise in temperatures was melting surface ices and allowing trapped methane to rise into the atmosphere in plumes.
But in Dr Webster's view, Curiosity's inability to detect appreciable amounts of methane now makes this scenario much less likely.
"This observation doesn't rule out the possibility of current microbial activity, [but] it lowers the probability certainly that methanogens are the source of that activity," he told the BBC's Science In Action Programme.
Or as team-member Prof Sushil Atreya, from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, put it: "There could still be other types of microbes on Mars. This just makes it harder for there to be microbes that kick out methane."
'Evolving story'
Dr Geronimo Villanueva is affiliated to the Catholic University of America and is based at Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Center.
He studies the Martian atmosphere using telescopes here on Earth. He cautioned that additional, much more precise measurements were needed from the rover before firm conclusions could be drawn.
"This is an evolving story as we get more numbers," he told BBC News.
"If Curiosity's statistics hold, it's important because it sets a new bound. Methane should last a long time in the atmosphere and the fact that the rover doesn't see it puts a big constraint on possible releases. But I would like to see more and better Curiosity results, and more orbiter results as well."
Dr Olivier Witasse is the project scientist on the European Space Agency's (Esa) Mars Express satellite, which made the very first claimed methane detection back in 2003.
He also said much more data was required.
"There is some indication from the Mars Express data - and it has not been published yet because it's a very complicated measurement - that the methane might peak at a certain altitude, at 25-40km. The Curiosity results are interesting but they have not yet settled the issue."
Esa has its ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter launching in 2016, which will be able to make further methane searchers. And the Indian space agency (Isro) is due to despatch its Mangalyaan probe to the Red Planet later this year. This, too, has methane detection high on its list of objectives.
Curiosity itself will work to improve its readings, and will shortly deploy an "enrichment" process that will amplify any methane signal that might be present.
"We can lower that upper limit down to tens of parts per trillion, maybe 50 parts per trillion," said Dr Webster.
Quelle: BBC

Low Upper Limit to Methane Abundance on Mars

By analogy with Earth, methane in the martian atmosphere is a potential signature of ongoing or past biological activity. During the last decade, Earth-based telescopic observations reported “plumes” of methane of tens of parts-per-billion by volume (ppbv), and those from Mars orbit showed localized patches, prompting speculation of sources from subsurface bacteria or non-biological sources. From in situ measurements made by the Tunable Laser Spectrometer (TLS) on Curiosity using a distinctive spectral pattern unique to methane, we here report no detection of atmospheric methane with a measured value of 0.18 ±0.67 ppbv corresponding to an upper limit of only 1.3 ppbv (95% confidence level) that reduces the probability of current methanogenic microbial activity on Mars, and limits the recent contribution from extraplanetary and geologic sources.
Quelle: AAAS
NASA Curiosity Rover Detects No Methane on Mars
Data from NASA's Curiosity rover has revealed the Martian environment lacks methane. This is a surprise to researchers because previous data reported by U.S. and international scientists indicated positive detections.
The roving laboratory performed extensive tests to search for traces of Martian methane. Whether the Martian atmosphere contains traces of the gas has been a question of high interest for years because methane could be a potential sign of life, although it also can be produced without biology.
"This important result will help direct our efforts to examine the possibility of life on Mars," said Michael Meyer, NASA's lead scientist for Mars exploration. "It reduces the probability of current methane-producing Martian microbes, but this addresses only one type of microbial metabolism. As we know, there are many types of terrestrial microbes that don't generate methane."
Curiosity analyzed samples of the Martian atmosphere for methane six times from October 2012 through June and detected none. Given the sensitivity of the instrument used, the Tunable Laser Spectrometer, and not  detecting the gas, scientists calculate the amount of methane in the Martian atmosphere today must be no more than 1.3 parts per billion, which is about one-sixth as much as some earlier estimates. Details of the findings appear in the Thursday edition of Science Express.
"It would have been exciting to find methane, but we have high confidence in our measurements, and the progress in expanding knowledge is what's really important," said the report's lead author, Chris Webster of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "We measured repeatedly from Martian spring to late summer, but with no detection of methane."
Webster is the lead scientist for spectrometer, which is part of Curiosity's Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) laboratory. It can be tuned specifically for detection of trace methane. The laboratory also can concentrate any methane to increase the gas' ability to be detected. The rover team will use this method to check for methane at concentrations well below 1 part per billion.
Methane, the most abundant hydrocarbon in our solar system, has one carbon atom bound to four hydrogen atoms in each molecule. Previous reports of localized methane concentrations up to 45 parts per billion on Mars, which sparked interest in the possibility of a biological source on Mars, were based on observations from Earth and from orbit around Mars. However, the measurements from Curiosity are not consistent with such concentrations, even if the methane had dispersed globally.
"There's no known way for methane to disappear quickly from the atmosphere," said one of the paper's co-authors, Sushil Atreya of the University of Michigan. "Methane is persistent. It would last for hundreds of years in the Martian atmosphere. Without a way to take it out of the atmosphere quicker, our measurements indicate there cannot be much methane being put into the atmosphere by any mechanism, whether biology, geology, or by ultraviolet degradation of organics delivered by the fall of meteorites or interplanetary dust particles."
The highest concentration of methane that could be present without being detected by Curiosity's measurements so far would amount to no more than 10 to 20 tons per year of methane entering the Martian atmosphere, Atreya estimated. That is about 50 million times less than the rate of methane entering Earth's atmosphere.
Curiosity landed inside Gale Crater on Mars in August 2012 and is investigating evidence about habitable environments there. JPL manages the mission and built the rover for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The rover's Sample Analysis at Mars suite of instruments was developed at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., with instrument contributions from Goddard, JPL and the University of Paris in France.
Quelle: NASA


Donnerstag, 19. September 2013 - 12:52 Uhr

Planet Erde - Leben auf der Erde wird für mindestens weitere 1750000000 Jahre möglich sein


UEA scientists reveal Earth’s habitable lifetime and investigate potential for alien life


Habitable conditions on Earth will be possible for at least another 1.75 billion years – according to astrobiologists at the University of East Anglia.
Findings published today in the journal Astrobiology reveal the habitable lifetime of planet Earth – based on our distance from the sun and temperatures at which it is possible for the planet to have liquid water.
The research team looked to the stars for inspiration. Using recently discovered planets outside our solar system (exoplanets) as examples, they investigated the potential for these planets to host life.
The research was led by Andrew Rushby, from UEA’s school of Environmental Sciences. He said: “We used the ‘habitable zone’ concept to make these estimates – this is the distance from a planet’s star at which temperatures are conducive to having liquid water on the surface.”
“We used stellar evolution models to estimate the end of a planet’s habitable lifetime by determining when it will no longer be in the habitable zone. We estimate that Earth will cease to be habitable somewhere between 1.75 and 3.25 billion years from now. After this point, Earth will be in the ‘hot zone’ of the sun, with temperatures so high that the seas would evaporate. We would see a catastrophic and terminal extinction event for all life.
“Of course conditions for humans and other complex life will become impossible much sooner – and this is being accelerated by anthropogenic climate change. Humans would be in trouble with even a small increase in temperature, and near the end only microbes in niche environments would be able to endure the heat.
“Looking back a similar amount of time, we know that there was cellular life on earth. We had insects 400 million years ago, dinosaurs 300 million years ago and flowering plants 130 million years ago. Anatomically modern humans have only been around for the last 200,000 years – so you can see it takes a really long time for intelligent life to develop.
“The amount of habitable time on a planet is very important because it tells us about the potential for the evolution of complex life – which is likely to require a longer period of habitable conditions.
“Looking at habitability metrics is useful because it allows us to investigate the potential for other planets to host life, and understand the stage that life may be at elsewhere in the galaxy.
“Of course, much of evolution is down to luck, so this isn’t concrete, but we know that complex, intelligent species like humans could not emerge after only a few million years because it took us 75 per cent of the entire habitable lifetime of this planet to evolve. We think it will probably be a similar story elsewhere.”
Almost 1,000 planets outside our solar system have been identified by astronomers. The research team looked at some of these as examples, and studied the evolving nature of planetary habitability over astronomical and geological time.
“Interestingly, not many other predictions based on the habitable zone alone were available, which is why we decided to work on a method for this. Other scientists have used complex models to make estimates for the Earth alone, but these are not suitable for applying to other planets.
“We compared Earth to eight planets which are currently in their habitable phase, including Mars. We found that planets orbiting smaller mass stars tend to have longer habitable zone lifetimes.
“One of the planets that we applied our model to is Kepler 22b, which has a habitable lifetime of 4.3 to 6.1 billion years. Even more surprising is Gliese 581d which has a massive habitable lifetime of between 42.4 to 54.7 billion years. This planet may be warm and pleasant for 10 times the entire time that our solar system has existed!
“To date, no true Earth analogue planet has been detected. But it is possible that there will be a habitable, Earth-like planet within 10 light-years, which is very close in astronomical terms. However reaching it would take hundreds of thousands of years with our current technology.
“If we ever needed to move to another planet, Mars is probably our best bet. It’s very close and will remain in the habitable zone until the end of the Sun’s lifetime - six billion years from now.”
‘Habitable Zone Lifetimes of Exoplanets around Main Sequence Stars’ by Andrew Rushby, Mark Claire, Hugh Osborne and Andrew Watson is published in the journal Astrobiology on Thursday, September 19, 2013.
Quelle: UEA-University of East Anglia 


Donnerstag, 19. September 2013 - 12:15 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Erfolgreicher Start von Dritten USAF AEHF Satellit


The U.S. Air Force's third Advanced Extremely High Frequency communications satellite, built to connect military commanders and government leadership in the event of a nuclear catastrophe, is poised to blast off Sept. 18 aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket.
Built by Lockheed Martin Corp., the 13,600-pound satellite was encapsulated inside the Atlas 5's five-meter-diameter payload fairing inside the Astrotech processing facility near the launch site, then transported to Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for attachment to the launch vehicle. 
Credit: Lockheed Martin Corp.
Credit: Lockheed Martin Corp.
Credit: Lockheed Martin Corp.
Fitted with the third spacecraft to continue building out the U.S. Air Force's Advanced Extremely High Frequency communications satellite system, the United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket has arrived at its launch pad after completing the first one-third of a mile of a journey to supersynchronous transfer orbit.
The voyage resumes Wednesday at 3:04 a.m. EDT (0704 GMT) with liftoff of the two-stage Atlas 5 rocket. Wednesday's launch window extends for two hours.
The countdown will begin at 8:04 p.m. EDT Tuesday (0004 GMT Wednesday), leading to activation of the rocket, final testing and system preps. Fueling operations start at 1:11 a.m. EDT (0511 GMT).
"My thanks to the entire team for its dedication in bringing AEHF 3 to launch and to the Air Force for trusting ULA to deliver this critical national security capability to orbit," said Jim Sponnick, ULA's vice president of Atlas and Delta programs.
The weather forecast from the Air Force's 45th Weather Squardon calls for 60 percent chance of violating launch constraints.
The outlook predicts scattered and broken cloud decks at 2,500, 14,000 and 30,000 feet with showers and isolated thunderstorm activity. Winds will be out of the east at 15 to 20 knots with a temperature of approximately 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
The primary concerns for Wednesday morning are violating the thick cloud and the cumulus cloud rules.
"On launch day increasing onshore low level flow and persistent tropical moisture will keep probabilities of showers and cloudy conditions high," meteorologists wrote in a forecast synopsis. "Expect showers, cloudy skies, and a chance for an isolated thunderstorm in the vicinity. Breezy onshore easterly winds gusting into the upper teens/low 20s (230 feet) are also expected."
If the launch gets pushed back to Thursday, a drier airmass should take hold over Central Florida. The probability of violating weather constraints Thursday is 40 percent.
Quelle: SN
Quelle: ULA
Update: 17.09.2013

An Atlas V rocket was rolled out to its launchpad in Cape Canaveral on Monday, Sept. 16, 2013. The rocket will cary a U.S. Air Force satellite into orbit.
CAPE CANAVERAL -- An Atlas V rocket moved toward its oceanside launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station today in advance of a planned launch early Wednesday.
The 197-foot tall United Launch Alliance rocket and its payload -- an Air Force communications satellite -- are set to lift off from Launch Complex 41 at 3:04 a.m. Wednesday. The launch window will extend through 5:04 a.m. Wednesday.
Air Force meteorologists say there is a 60 percent chance weather conditions will be acceptable for launch.
The Advanced. Extremely High Frequency satellite is the third in a series of six spacecraft that each are 10 times more capable than the satellites they ultimately will replace.
The launch will be the 40th Atlas V flight and the 75th conducted by United Launch Alliance since Boeing and Lockheed Martin formed the joint venture partnership in December 2006.
Quelle: Florida Today
Update: 19.15 MESZ
U.S. Air Force Ready to Launch Third Advanced Extremely High Frequency Satellite Built by Lockheed Martin
CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla., Sept. 16, 2013 – The U.S. Air Force's third Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) military communications satellite, designed and built by a Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] team, is ready to launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. Launch is set for Sept. 18 with a two-hour launch window opening at 3:04 a.m. EDT.
The AEHF system provides vastly improved global, survivable, highly secure, protected communications for strategic command and tactical warfighters operating on ground, sea and air platforms. The system also serves international partners including Canada, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Canada was the first of these nations to connect to AEHF during tests with multiple terminals, and Lockheed Martin announced last week that the Netherlands is now using the system.
 “Thanks to a focused government-industry team, the third AEHF satellite is ready to launch,” said Mark Calassa, vice president of Protected Communication Systems at Lockheed Martin. “We’ve increased affordability while maintaining a focus on mission success. Our AEHF-1 and -2 satellites are delivering improved capability during on-orbit testing, having already connected three allies and 10 terminal types. From suppliers to engineers to launch operators, we are committed to our customer and this mission.”
A single AEHF satellite provides greater total capacity than the entire legacy five-satellite Milstar constellation. Individual user data rates will increase five-fold, permitting transmission of tactical military communications, such as real-time video, battlefield maps and targeting data. In addition to its tactical mission, AEHF provides the critical survivable, protected and endurable communications links to national leaders, including presidential conferencing in all levels of conflict.
Lockheed Martin is under contract to deliver six AEHF satellites and the Mission Control Segment. AEHF-1 and AEHF-2 are on orbit, and AEHF-4 through -6 are progressing on schedule. All satellites are assembled at the company’s Sunnyvale, Calif., facility.
Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs about 116,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration, and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products, and services. The Corporation’s net sales for 2012 were $47.2 billion.
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rolls out to Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida with the Air Force’s third Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF-3) payload. The mission is set to liftoff on Wednesday, Sept. 18 at 3:04 a.m. EDT at the opening of a two-hour launch window. Photo by Pat Corkery, United Launch Alliance
Quelle: Lockheed Martin
Update: 18.09.2013 

Atlas V launch from Cape

Blick auf Wetter-Radar
Update: 19.09.2013
Start-Aufnahmen von Atlas V-531 mit USAF AEHF-3 Satelliten
Quelle: Florida Today 
by 45th Space Wing Public Affairs
9/18/2013 - CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. -- The 45th Space Wing successfully launched the third Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellite onboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V vehicle here Sept. 18 from launch pad
41 at 4:10 a.m. 
AEHF-1 was launched in August of 2010 and AEHF-2 was launched in May of 2012, both from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
The rocket flew in the 531 vehicle configuration with a five-meter fairing, three solid rocket boosters and a single-engine Centaur upper stage.
AEHF is a joint service satellite communications system that will provide survivable, global, secure, protected, and jam-resistant communications for high-priority military ground, sea and air assets. The AEHF system is the follow-on to the Milstar system, augmenting, improving and expanding the Department of Defense's Military Satellite Communications architecture.
AEHF-3 was procured from Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company by the MILSATCOM Systems Directorate, part of the Air Force's Space and Missile Systems Center. The MILSATCOM Systems Directorate plans, acquires and sustains space-based global communications in support of the president, secretary of defense and combat forces. The entire MILSATCOM enterprise consists of satellites, terminals and control stations and provides communications for more than 16,000 air, land and sea platforms.
The commander of the 45th Space Wing praised the work of all those involved in making this launch a success.
"It is wonderful to witness the teamwork between our wing and all our partners involved in making this mission a success," said Brig. Gen. Nina Armagno, who also served as the Launch Decision Authority for the launch from the Morrell Operations Center here at the Cape.
"This successful launch helps to ensure that vital communications will continue to bolster our nation's military capabilities and showcases once again why the 45th Space Wing is the world's premiere gateway to space," she added. 
Quelle: USAF

Tags: USAF AEHF-3 Mission Atlas V 531 launch 


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