Sonntag, 19. Oktober 2014 - 11:09 Uhr

Astronomie - Atemberaubende Auroras über Norwegen


EMERALD DYNAMITE: On Oct. 18th, Earth passed through multiple folds in the heliospheric current sheet--a phenomenon known as "solar sector boundary crossings." This sparked a veritable explosion of bright auroras around the Arctic Circle. Ole Salomonsen of Tromso, Norway, captured the outburst in this photo, which he calls Emerald Dynamite:
"This is one of many spectacular auroral DISPLAYS I captured tonight," says Salomonsen. "There were red auroras, green auroras, coronas, fast moving purple bands... It was the most amazing display I have witnessed in a long time."
Quelle: Spaceweather


Sonntag, 19. Oktober 2014 - 10:00 Uhr

Raumfahrt - USAF-OTV-3/X-37B seit 11.12.2012 im Orbit - Update













Quelle: ULA


Update: 11.12.2012/9.00 MEZ

CAPE CANAVERAL -- An Atlas V rocket is poised for launch on its Cape Canaveral pad today, but the forecast for the planned launch Tuesday of a military mini-shuttle is not favorable.
The United Launch Alliance rocket and an Air Force X-37B spacecraft are scheduled to blast off at 1:03 p.m. Tuesday at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Launch Complex 41.
The launch window extends through 6:03 p.m.
However, a cold front is expected to sweep into central Florida Tuesday, bringing with it a high probability of cloudy conditions, rain showers and isolated thunderstorms.
Air Force meteorologists say there is a 70 percent chance conditions would prohibit a launch Tuesday.
The weather forecast for Wednesday is the same. The front is expected to stall over central Florida Wednesday before moving off to the northeast.
Mounted atop a mobile launch platform, the Atlas V and its payload moved out of its 30-story assembly building today and made the 1,800-foot trip to the launch pad along rail tracks. Two specially designed “trackmobiles” transported the rocket to the pad.
Update: 28.05.2013 
The U.S. Air Force's robotic X-37B space plane has quietly passed the five-month mark on its latest secret mission in Earth orbit.
The unmanned X-37B spacecraft launched into space atop an Atlas 5 rocket from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Dec. 11, 2012, kicking off a mission whose objectives and payloads are classified.
The winged craft is known as Orbital Test Vehicle-3 (OTV-3), since it is conducting the third mission of the Air Force's X-37B program.
The first air drop of the X-37 experimental spaceship from the White Knight carrier craft was called off on April 6, 2006 due to high-altitude winds over Edwards Air Force Base in California. An April 7 attempt ended with the robotic space plane rolling o
This 2003 photo shows a Boeing technician making adjustments to composite panels on the then NASA X-37 Approach and Landing Test Vehicle. Atmospheric flight testing aided in the design of the orbital version of the U.S. Air Force X-37B space plane.
Quelle: ULA, Boeing
Update: 4.01.2014

Secret military space plane moving to KSC

A secretive military space plane will base its operations at Kennedy Space Center.

The Air Force’s X-37B “Orbital Test Vehicle” will take over the former shuttle hangar called Orbiter Processing Facility-1, according to The Boeing Co., the vehicle’s manufacturer.

Already launched from Florida, the vehicles, which resemble small, unmanned space shuttles, could also land on the former shuttle runway at KSC.

One of the space planes is still in orbit after launching from the Cape in December 2012.

Two previous landings and processing of the X-37B so far have been performed at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The Air Force had previously confirmed it was studying a consolidation of operations at KSC or the Cape.

Neither the Air Force nor Boeing commented today beyond confirming plans to expand Florida operations, and did not disclose the move’s job or financial impacts.

Local and state officials welcomed the news.

“The commercialization of OPF-1 through Space Florida's project funding was a critical factor in attracting Boeing to Florida," said Frank DiBello, president of Space Florida, in a statement. " We are pleased to see our partnership with the Florida Department of Transportation and local communities through spaceport projects contributing significantly to the continued growth of Florida’s aerospace economy."
Quelle: Florida Today

Boeing Announces Expansion at Kennedy Space Center

Facility upgrades will support X-37B program

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla., Jan. 3, 2014 – Boeing [NYSE:BA] will expand its presence in Florida by adding technology, engineering and support jobs at the Kennedy Space Center.   Financial and employment details are not being disclosed.

Investments will be made to convert the former space shuttle facility, OPF-1, to a facility that would enable the U.S. Air Force to efficiently land, recover, refurbish, and re-launch the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV), a 29-foot-long, reusable unmanned spacecraft.

According to key stakeholders in the project:


  • “Boeing’s choice to further expand its presence on Florida’s Space Coast validates the state’s position as a leader in aerospace. The company’s investment and the jobs created add to this extensive sector,” said Gray Swoope, president & CEO of Enterprise Florida. “We are proud to have Boeing as a corporate leader in the state and we look forward to our Florida workforce being a part of the company’s future success.”
  • "This project has been a great example of state and local agencies working together to create an optimal toolbox of capabilities for the customer," said Frank DiBello, president of Space Florida, the state of Florida's spaceport authority and aerospace development agency. "The commercialization of OPF-1 through Space Florida's project funding was a critical factor in attracting Boeing to Florida.  We are pleased to see our partnership with the Florida Department of Transportation and local communities through spaceport projects contributing significantly to the continued growth of Florida’s aerospace economy."
  • “This is a great opportunity to utilize Brevard County’s talented workforce in support of our nation’s next-generation space vehicle research platform,” said Mary Bolin Lewis, chairman, Brevard County Board of County Commissioners.
  • “We have seen the impact and visionary thinking Boeing and the Air Force bring to the Space Coast and we are pleased to work with NASA, Space Florida, Enterprise Florida and other key state and community partners to further diversify our space industry,” said Lynda Weatherman, president and CEO of the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast. “We have long touted how attractive our unique infrastructure and workforce are to both the private sector and the military, and we are excited that this project capitalizes on both of those strengths while laying the groundwork for future growth.”
  • Quelle: Boeing
Update: 5.01.2014
Boeing to use former space shuttle hangar for secret space plane
Space shuttle Atlantis backs out of Orbiter Processing Facility-1 (OPF-1) at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida in 2011. The building will now be used to service military space planes. (cS)
A former NASA space shuttle hangar will serve as the new home and servicing facility for a fleet of secretive military space planes.

The Boeing Company announced on Friday (Jan. 3) it will begin converting Orbiter Processing Facility-1 (OPF-1) at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida to support the U.S. Air Force X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV). Built by Boeing's Phantom Works, the winged X-37B resembles in some ways a smaller version of NASA's shuttle with a 15-foot (4.5 m.) wingspan.

The move to use OPF-1 will "enable the U.S. Air Force to efficiently land, recover, refurbish, and re-launch" the 29-foot-long (8.8 m.), reusable unmanned spacecraft, Boeing officials said in a statement.

No other details were released, other than Boeing noting the project will expand its presence in Florida by "adding technology, engineering and support jobs at the Kennedy Space Center."
One of three similar hangars to previously house NASA's orbiters, OPF-1 has been vacant since June 2012, when the space agency's final shuttle to fly into space, Atlantis, departed the building. Built in the late 1970s, OPF-1 has a 29,000-square-foot (2,700 sq.m.) high bay and stands 95 feet (29 m.) tall.

The hangar is the second NASA OPF to be commercially leased under an agreement with Space Florida, the state's spaceport authority and aerospace development agency. In October 2011, Boeing also took over use of OPF-3 to support its CST-100 spacecraft, a crewed capsule being developed to potentially fly NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

That facility, now referred to as the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility, or C3PF, is nearing the end of its conversion to begin manufacturing and testing the five-seat, gumdrop-shaped spacecraft.

"This project has been a great example of state and local agencies working together to create an optimal toolbox of capabilities for the customer," Frank DiBello, president of Space Florida, said in a statement released by Boeing. "The commercialization of OPF-1 through Space Florida's project funding was a critical factor in attracting Boeing to Florida."
Orbiter Processing Facility-3 (OPF-3) is undergoing renovation to be used as the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility, as seen in December 2012. (NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis)
The U.S. Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office has launched three X-37B missions for unknown purposes since April 2010. The third flight, which marked the first reuse of the two-vehicle fleet's first spacecraft, is still orbiting the Earth more than a year after its launch atop an Atlas V rocket from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

What the space plane has done during its time in space remains largely a mystery. Though speculation has ranged from testing new sensor technologies to reconnaissance, the details of the X-37B's mission, including its payloads and objectives, have been kept classified.

The previous two OTV missions landed and were serviced for flight at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The U.S. Air Force has hinted that OTV-3 may touch down in Florida, perhaps landing at the Shuttle Landing Facility at the Kennedy Space Center. Space Florida is currently in negotiations with NASA to take over use of the 3-mile (4.8 km) runway.
Although currently dedicated to flying secret missions for the military, the X-37 space plane could be evolved into a vehicle capable of flying supplies, or even astronauts, to the space station, Boeing officials have earlier said. First proposed in 2011, the X-37C would be a scaled up version of the X-37B, which has a payload bay about the size of a pickup truck's bed.

The U.S. Air Force OTV program was built upon work first done by NASA and then the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The X-37B craft was originally intended to be deployed from the shuttle's cargo bay, but following the loss of the orbiter Columbia in 2003, it moved to Delta and then Atlas rockets.  
Quelle: SpaceCollect
Update: 30.01.2014 

Air Force's Mysterious X-37B Space Plane Passes 400 Days in Orbit

The U.S. Air Force's unmanned X-37B space plane has now circled Earth for more than 400 days on a hush-hush mission that is creeping closer and closer to the vehicle's orbital longevity record.
The X-37B spacecraft launched on Dec. 11, 2012, meaning that it has been aloft for 413 days as of Tuesday (Jan. 28) on the third mission for the program, which is known as OTV-3 (short for Orbital Test Vehicle-3). The endurance record is 469 days, set during OTV-2, which blasted off in 2011.
OTV-2 and OTV-3 have utilized different X-37B vehicle (the Air Force currently has two vehicles). The space plane currently zipping around Earth also flew the program's inaugural OTV-1 mission, which stayed in space for 225 days after launching in 2010
X-37B vor Start 2012
Quelle: Space

Update: 22.04.2014

US Air Force's Secretive X-37B Space Plane Nears Day 500 in Orbit

The U.S. Air Force's mysterious robotic X-37B space plane is sailing toward the 500-day mark in Earth orbit on a secret military mission.

The X-37B space plane presently in orbit is carrying out the Orbital Test Vehicle 3 (OTV-3) mission, a classified spaceflight that marks the third long-duration flight for the unmanned Air Force spaceflight program. The miniature space shuttle launched on Dec. 11, 2012.

The record-breaking X-37B mission now underway uses the first of the Air Force's two robotic space plane vehicles. This same space plane flew the first-ever X-37B mission (the 225-day OTV-1 flight in 2010), and a second vehicle flew the longer OTV-2 mission in 2011, chalking up 469 days in orbit.

X-37B space planes launch into orbit atop an unmanned Atlas 5 rocket from a pad at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The first two space-plane missions flew back to Earth on autopilot, each time touching down on a tarmac at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Earlier this year, the X-37B supplier Boeing Space & Intelligence Systems announced plans to consolidate space-plane operations by using NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida as a landing site for the space plane.

Intelligence-gathering space plane

An X-37B space plane is about one-fourth the size of a former NASA space shuttle and uses a deployable solar array for power. It weighs 11,000 lbs. (4,990 kilograms) and has a small payload bay about the size of the bed of a pickup truck.

Each X-37B spacecraft measures about 29 feet (8.8 meters) long and nearly 15 feet (4.5 m) wide, and has a payload bay that measures 7 feet (2.1 m) long and 4 feet (1.2 m) wide. The space plane can operate in orbits that fly between 110 miles (177 kilometers) and 500 miles (805 km) above the Earth.

The secret missions for X-37B space planes are carried out under the auspices of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, and mission control for OTV flights are handled by the 3rd Space Experimentation Squadron at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado.

This unit is billed as the Air Force Space Command's premier organization for space-based demonstrations, pathfinders and experiment testing, gathering information on objects high above Earth and carrying out other intelligence-gathering duties.

And that may be a signal as to what the robotic craft is doing — both looking down at Earth and upward.

X-37B and U.S. military space

Just how the trio of X-37B clandestine missions might fit into the military's strategic space plans is speculative. However, recent testimony before Congress of top U.S. military space brass underscores the overall fervor for "space control." [Space Weapons: Most Destructive Military Concepts]

Space control requires knowledge derived from satellite situational awareness to warn and assess threats that pose a risk to U.S. and coalition space operations, Lt. Gen. John Raymond, commander of the Joint Functional Component Command for Space, said before the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces earlier this month.

"Space control may also include threat avoidance, safeguarding of our on-orbit assets and the ability to mitigate electromagnetic interference," Raymond testified.

Decision to declassify

Some analysts believe that the space-plane missions could be flying sensor gear useful for a recently declassified activity, the Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSSAP).

GSSAP will deliver two satellites for a single launch that are headed for near geosynchronous orbit (GEO). From that vantage point, they will survey objects in the GEO belt to track both known objects and debris and to monitor potential threats that may be aimed at this critically important region.

"Our decision to declassify this program was simple: We need to monitor what happens 22,000 miles (35,000 km) above the Earth, and we want to make sure that everyone knows we can do so," testified Douglas Loverro, deputy assistant secretary of defense for space policy for the U.S. Department of Defense.

GSSAP satellites will communicate information through the worldwide Air Force Satellite Control Network ground stations, and then to Schriever Air Force Base, where the 50th Space Wing satellite operators will oversee day-to-day command and control operations.

A strategic crossroad

The commander of Air Force Space Command, Gen. William Shelton, also testified at the same April 3 hearing, telling lawmakers he believed "we are at a strategic crossroad in space."

Shelton, who first unveiled the once-classified GSSAP in February, said the two spacecraft expected to launch in 2014 will collect space situational awareness data, thus allowing for more accurate tracking and characterization of human-made orbiting objects in a near-geosynchronous orbit. [See amateur video of the X-37B space plane from March 4]

"Data from GSSAP will contribute to timely and accurate orbital predictions, enhance our knowledge of the geosynchronous environment and further enable spaceflight safety to include satellite collision avoidance," Shelton said.

More things to come

As an experimental spacecraft, the X-37B is a precursor of things to come, said Marshall Kaplan, a space consultant and principal at Launchspace Inc., a training group for space professionals based in Bethesda, Md.

"It gives a certain amount of flexibility that we haven't had before," given that the craft flies and lands without a crew, is able to be reused and can haul specialized payloads for certain types of surveillance and other types of missions related to national security, Kaplan said.

But given that the craft is lofted by an Atlas 5 rocket — an expensive boost — "what we really need now is a cheap booster … which we don't have," Kaplan told "It's the missing element."

Kaplan said to keep an eye on the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program. DARPA seeks to lower satellite launch costs by developing a cheap, reusable first stage that would fly to hypersonic speeds at a suborbital altitude, he said.

"In the big picture of things, these two programs [X-37B and XS-1] could come together at some point in the future and be operational," Kaplan said.

Fast follower

Whatever its utility, how an on-going X-37B program will play out in China is on the mind of Everett Dolman, professor of military strategy at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama.

One early indication is that China has purportedly pushed forward on its own "Shenlong" space plane planning.

"As far as the Shenlong is concerned, I am pretty much in agreement at this point that it is part of a broader 'fast follower' program similar to the Soviet Union's adaptive approach in the Cold War," Dolman told

Just as the former Soviet Union felt a need to develop its own space shuttle — the remotely piloted Buran that only flew once — Dolman said "the Chinese probably are concerned about a sudden leap in technology or tactics that would give a decisive, if temporary, edge to the U.S. should it be unveiled at a critical moment."

"By keeping a close watch and matching what appears to be a high-priority technological capability, the fast follower spends less on research and development and can, hopefully, close the technology gap quickly," Dolman said.

It is a second-best strategy for long-term competition in business, Dolman said, adding that he's not sure it is even that for potential combat scenarios. "But the People's Republic of China obviously believes the U.S. is committed to the X-37B and doesn't want to be left tying its shoes in the gate when the starting-pistol sounds," he concluded.

Quelle: SC

Update: 29.08.2014 

US Air Force's Secretive X-37B Space Plane Passes 600 Days in Orbit

The U.S. Air Force's mysterious unmanned space plane has winged beyond 600 days in orbit on a classified military mission that seems to have no end.
The X-37B space plane is carrying out the Orbital Test Vehicle-3 (OTV-3) mission, a long-duration CRUISE that marks the third flight for the unpiloted Air Force spaceflight program.
The Air Force launched the miniature space shuttle into orbit on Dec. 11, 2012 using an expendable Atlas 5 rocket. By the end of Friday (Aug. 29), the space plane had spent 627 days in orbit. That's one year, eight months, 19 days and counting, to be exact.
The Air Force continues to push the envelope of the solar-powered X-37B capabilities," said Joan Johnson-Freese, a professor of National Security AFFAIRS at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.
A secretive space plane
The reusable X-37B looks like a mini version of NASA's now-retired space shuttle. This space plane is 29 feet (8.8 meters) long and 9.5 feet (2.9 m) tall, and has a wingspan of nearly 15 feet (4.6 m).
The X-37B's payload bay is the size of a PICKUP TRUCK BED. In contrast, NASA's space shuttle payload bay could fit two X-37B space planes comfortably inside. At liftoff, the X-37B space plane weighs 11,000 lbs. (4,990 kilograms).
The key to the X-37B's longevity in space rests with its ability to use SOLAR PANELS to generate power., the SOLAR PANELS extend the craft's longevity. [How the X-37B Space Plane Works (Infographic)]
"While far above the longevity of any other reusable spacecraft, it is far below that of most U.S. satellites, which are built to last for years, even decades," Johnson-Freese told "That certainly confirms the broad, officially stated goal of the X-37B as a test bed vehicle."
It's logical to assume that the classified payloads tucked inside the X-37B include new sensors and satellite hardware that will be tested, Johnson-Freese said. If so, then the more time on orbit, the more testing that can be done, she said.
"While the classified nature of the X-37B has raised some concerns about its intended operational purposes, technically, the program must be commended for doing something new … and successfully," Johnson-Freese said.
X-37B in flight: Three missions
The Air Force is believed to have only two X-37B space planes. These space planes have flown at otal of three missions, which are known as OTV-1, OTV-2 and OTV-3. ("OTV" is short for Orbital Test Vehicle.)
The first mission blasted off in April 2010, and the craft circled Earth for 225 days. The second X-37B vehicle launched in March 2011, performing the OTV-2 mission. This spaceflight LASTED 469 days, ultimately landing at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in June 2012. That was the same landing site OTV-1 used after completing its mission.
The current OTV-3 mission is reusing the first X-37B space plane from the OTV-1 FLIGHT, showcasing the reusability aspect of the program.
What's the mystery mission's secret?
Before RETIRING from the Air Force this month, Gen. William Shelton, commander of the Air Force Space Command, remained bullish on the X-37B's hush-hush mission. [10 Most Destructive Space Weapon Concepts]
"I'll give you my standard line on X-37," Shelton told at the National Space Foundation's 30th Space Symposium in May. "X-37 is doing great. I can't tell you what it's doing, but it's doing great."
Meanwhile, Boeing Space & Intelligence Systems, the Air Force's supplier for the X-37B space planes, told that there was nothing it could SHARE regarding the ongoing mission.
Military interests in space
While the purpose of the X-37B space plane program remains stealthy, the U.S. military space interests are clearly visible.
In July, Shelton spoke at the Atlantic Council on the U.S. future in space, noting that "space forces are foundational to every military operation, from humanitarian to major combat operations. It really doesn't matter — space has to be there … [satellites must be] continuously deployed in place, PROVIDING communications, missile warning, navigation, space surveillance and weather services."
Traffic is building in space, as many new entrants have joined the ranks of spacefaring nations and "counter-space" capabilities (technologies to deny a nation's use of space assets) are becoming more concerning, Shelton added.
Shelton said that the U.S. Air Force Space Command is considering SEVERAL space tracks, such as lowering the cost and complexity of new space capabilities.
"We're watching carefully as other nations significantly increase their INVESTMENT in counter-space programs," Shelton said. "We absolutely must adjust our approach and response, and the time for those decisions is approaching very rapidly."
Will X-37B land in Florida?
The Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office carries out the clandestine missions for X-37B space planes, the 3rd Space Experimentation Squadron at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado handles mission control for OTV FLIGHTS.
The first two OTV missions flew back to Earth on autopilot, each time touching down on a tarmac at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. But that could change.
Boeing Space & Intelligence Systems has announced plans to consolidate its space plane operations by using NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida as a landing site for the X-37B. Earlier this year, Boeing announced plans to expand its presence in Florida by adding technology, engineeringand support JOBS at the space center.
As part of that Boeing plan, INVESTMENTS will be made to convert the former space shuttle facility, Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF-1), to a structure that would enable the U.S. Air Force "to efficiently land, recover, refurbish, and re-launch the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV)," according to Boeing representatives.
At the time of the Jan. 3 announcement, this construction was to be completed by the second quarter of 2015, Boeing representatives said.
Update: 28.09.2014 
Welche Mission erfüllt X-37 für das Pentagon?
What is the Pentagon’s secret space drone doing?
For almost two years, an unmanned space plane bearing a remarkable resemblance to NASA’s space shuttle has circled the Earth, performing a top-secret mission. It’s called the X-37B Orbital TEST Vehicle — but that’s pretty much all we know for certain.
Officially, the only role the Pentagon acknowledges is that the space plane is used to conduct experiments on NEW TECHNOLOGIES. Theories about its mission have ranged from an orbiting space bomber to an anti-satellite weapon.
The truth, however, is likely much more obvious: According to intelligence experts and satellite WATCHERS who have closely monitored its orbit, the X-37B is being used to carry secret satellites and classified sensors into space — a little-known role once played by NASA’s new retired space shuttle.
For a decade between the 1980s and early 1990s, NASA’s space shuttle was used for classified military missions, which involved ferrying military payloads into space. But the shuttle’s military role rested on an uneasy alliance between NASA and the Pentagon. Even before the 1986 Challenger disaster, which killed all seven crewmembers, the Pentagon had grown frustrated with NASA’s delays.
Now, with the X-37B, the Pentagon no longer has to rely on NASA, or humans.
The X-37B resembles the shuttle, or at least a shrunken down version of the shuttle. Like the space shuttle, the X-37B is boosted into orbit by an external rocket, but lands like an aircraft on a conventional runway. But the X-37B is just shy of 10 feet tall and slightly less than 30 feet long.
Its cargo bay, often compared to the size of a PICKUP TRUCK bed, is just big enough to carry a small satellite. Once in orbit, the X-37B deploys a foldable solar array, which is believed to power the sensors in its cargo bay.
“It’s just an updated version of the space shuttle type of activities in space,” insisted one senior Air Force official in 2010, the year of the first launch, when rampant speculation about the secret project prompted some to question whether it was possibly a space bomber.
For SEVERAL years, the X-37B was developed in plain sight, with the military saying it was just a test vehicle. But in 2009, the Air Force suddenly said it was classified, and it went from being just another technology project to an object of obsession for amateur satellite spotters and aviation enthusiasts.
On Dec. 11, 2012, the X-37B was launched for a third time, and that vehicle has now spent over 600 days in space.
And despite the secrecy surrounding its mission, the space plane’s travels are closely watched. The Air Force announces its launches, and satellite watchers monitor its flight and orbit. What is not revealed is what’s inside the cargo bay and what it’s being used for.
While the X-37B requires a rocket to boost it into orbit, its success may be helping to revive dreams of a true reusable space plane that can take off and land like an aircraft. A real space plane has long been a dream of the Pentagon, but it has also long been a sinkhole for money. Most of those efforts have fallen by the wayside, stymied by the technology needed to boost a space plane into orbit, not to mention the prohibitive costs.In the 1950s, for example, the Air Force pursued the X-20 Dynasoar, short for Dynamic Soarer, a hypersonic vehicle that was, in fact, DESIGNED to be a space bomber. It was eventually cancelled.
In the 1980s, the Pentagon funded the National Aerospace Plane, which Ronald Reagan hailed as a new “Orient Express” that would make travel from Washington to Tokyo more like a brief train trip. Pentagon officials privately cringed at the hype, knowing the technology was likely years away. A decade later, and over $1 billion spent, the National Aerospace Plane was also cancelled.
Now, the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is taking another shot at this elusive goal with a project called the Experimental Space Plane, or XS-1 for short. DARPA is already funding SEVERAL companies to work on the space plane, which is supposed to fly “10 times in 10 days,” at speeds of over Mach 10. Whether this project will be any more successful than its predecessors has yet to be seen.
As for the X-37B, it’s unclear what may be next. While the secrecy surrounding the X-37B has attracted more attention to its mission, many of the more farfetched theories have fallen by the wayside.
A bomber, it turns out, would be an incredibly inefficient use of a space plane, which doesn’t carry much fuel, and so would be hard to position for an attack. Even more exotic weapons, like a space-based laser, are WELL outside the realms of modern technology (the Pentagon has spent billions trying to develop lasers for use in space in the past, with no luck).
But presuming, as most experts do, that it’s used to carry spy satellites, what has it accomplished? It’s most likely the X-37B has been used to capture imagery of the world’s political hotspots: North Korea and Iran have both topped the list of possible targets.
The X-37B could be itself operating as a maneuverable satellite — one that can change its orbit with relative ease, and return to Earth for repairs or upgrades. A space drone.
After operating in space for nearly two years, it’s hard to argue with the X-37B’s success as a space plane. By flying without people, the military’s space plane avoids the costs — not to mention the dangers — involved with putting humans in space.
What is harder to assess, however, is the X-37’s overall value to the military. Space planes are supposed to provide ECONOMICAL access to space, but to date, the Pentagon has declined to release any funding information about its robotic space plane, citing its classified mission.
The real question is whether the X-37B and its payload are providing any new imagery that is useful to the military. The National Reconnaissance OFFICE, which is responsible for the Pentagon’s secret spy satellites — and has presumably built whatever is being carried on the X-37B — has been criticized in recent years for favoring high-priced satellites over cheaper commercial imagery.
In other words, the robotic space plane, which is unclassified, is undoubtedly a technological success, but it’s unclear whether its secret payload is really doing anything particularly unique.
Only the Pentagon can answer that question, and so far, it hasn’t.
Update: 12.10.2014 
Geheimes Mini-Shuttle beendet nach 22-Monats-Mission seinen Flug am Dienstag 
The U.S. military plans to land its secretive X-37B robotic space plane in California on Tuesday, ending a classified 22-month mission, officials said.
The exact time and DATE will depend on weather and technical factors, the Air Force said in a statement released on Friday. The X-37B space plane, also known as the Orbital TEST Vehicle, blasted off for its second mission aboard an unmanned Atlas 5 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Dec. 11, 2012.
The 29-foot-long (9-meter) robotic spaceship, which resembles a miniature space shuttle, is an experimental vehicle that first flew in April 2010. It returned after eight months. A second vehicle blasted off in March 2011 and stayed in orbit for 15 months.
The military has said the vehicles, built by Boeing, are designed to test technologies, though details of the missions are classified.
Last week, the Air Force and NASA finalized a LEASEagreement to relocate the X-37B program from California to Florida’s Kennedy Space Center. The military is studying using the space shuttle’s runway for landing, but said the X-37B currently in orbit will touch down at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, where the previous two missions also ended.
Quelle: USAF
Update: 13.10.2014 
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Preparations for the third landing of the X-37B, the Air Force's unmanned, reusable space plane, are underway at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
The exact landing date and time will depend on technical and weather considerations.
"Team Vandenberg stands ready to implement safe landing operations for the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, the third time for this unique mission" said Col. Keith Baits, 30th Space Wing commander.
Space professionals from the 30th Space Wing will monitor the de-orbit and landing of the Air Force's X-37B, called the Orbital Test Vehicle mission 3 (OTV-3).
Since the third launch of the X-37B, Dec. 11, 2012, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., Vandenberg crews have conducted extensive, periodic training in preparation for landing.
Quelle: USAF
Update: 18.10.2014

Mysterious X-37B Space Plane Returns to Earth After Nearly Two Years

No one seems to know much about the Air Force's X-37B secret space plane except that it appears to be working exactly as designed. The unmanned Boeing-built craft, which resembles a miniature space shuttle, returned to Earth on Friday after nearly two years — 674 days, to be exact — in space. It's the X-37B program's third mission to space and by far the longest.
The plane landed at 9:24 a.m. local time on Oct. 17 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, the Air Force's 30th Space Wing announced.
"The 30th Space Wing and our mission partners, Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, Boeing, and our base support contractors, have put countless hours of hard work into preparing for this landing and today we were able to see the culmination of that dedication," Colonel Keith Balts, 30th Space Wing commander, said in a release. "I'm extremely proud of our team for coming together to execute this third safe and successful landing. Everyone from our on console space operators to our airfield managers and civil engineers take pride in this unique mission and exemplify excellence during its execution."
But just what did the X-37B do up there? Officially, the Air Force isn't telling.
To be fair, experimental military-funded space projects aren't exactly the kind of thing you expect the brass to talk about in public. Inquiries by NBC News have been met officially with a polite but firm "no comment." (However, NBC News reported back in 2001 that the X-37 concept was being promoted by the Pentagon as a next-generation space bomber.)
What is known is that the X-37B has no human pilot, or at least not one in its windowless cockpit. It's operated remotely and lands on its own. The details of its launches aren't secret, but neither are they particularly interesting: It rode an Atlas 5 booster into space on Dec. 12, 2012, and assumed orbit about 180 miles above the Earth. That last part was figured out by a network of curious astronomers, not released publicly by the Air Force.
The plane's size means there isn't room on board for much except avionics equipment, fuel for the thrusters, and a mysterious cavity about the size of a truck bed that could contain all manner of sensors, experiments, hardware — perhaps some bacterial colonies, or a bomb. No one can be sure what's inside.
Until the Air Force decides it's time to spill the beans, the X-37B will keep its secrets, even if they happen to be ordinary testing of still-classified radio hardware or radiation-resistant materials.
For now, the Air Force's two X-37B space planes are locked away at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Eventually they'll be heading for new hangars at Kennedy Space Center in Florida — getting ready, perhaps, to break the record for days in orbit once again.
Quelle: NBC

X-37B Military Space Plane Lands After Record-Shattering Secret Mission

A U.S. Air Force X-37B space plane swoops down for a landing at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Oct. 17, 2014 after spending 22 months in space on a secret mission.The Boeing-built spacecraft launched on Dec. 11, 2012 and spent 674 days in space.
The U.S. Air Force's X-37B space plane has returned to Earth after spending nearly two years on a hush-hush orbital mission.
The X-37B space plane touched down at California's Vandenberg Air Force Base on Friday (Oct. 17) at 9:24 a.m. local Pacific time (12:24 p.m. EDT; 1624 GMT), ending a mission that kicked off in December 2012 and saw the unmanned vehicle circle Earth for an unprecedented 675 days.
"I'm extremely proud of our team for coming together to execute this third safe and successful landing," said Col. Keith Balts, commander of the 30th Space Wing, which is headquartered at Vandenberg, in a statement. "Everyone from our on-console space operators to our airfield managers and civil engineers take pride in this unique mission and exemplify excellence during its execution."
Just what the space plane was doing up there for so long remains unclear; details about X-37B missions — including the payloads carried to orbit — are officially classified.
A robotic mini-shuttle
The X-37B looks like a miniature version of NASA's now-retired space shuttle. Like the shuttle, the robotic space plane launches vertically and glides back down to Earth for a runway landing when its time in space is done.
The X-37B is about 29 feet long by 9.5 feet tall (8.8 by 2.9 meters), with a wingspan of 15 feet (4.6 m) and a payload bay the size of a pickup-truck bed. Two X-37Bs could fit inside the payload bay of the space shuttle, which was 184 feet (56 m) long from nose to tail.
The Air Force owns two X-37B space planes, both of which were built by Boeing's Phantom Works division. These two solar-powered spacecraft have flown a total of three missions, which are known as OTV-1, OTV-2 and OTV-3. ("OTV" stands for Orbital Test Vehicle.)
OTV-1 launched in April 2010 and touched down in December of that year, clocking 225 days in orbit. OTV-2, which employed a different X-37B, blasted off in March 2011 and circled Earth for 469 days. OTV-3 shattered this longevity record by more than 200 days, blasting off on Dec. 11, 2012, and sending the vehicle that flew OTV-1 back to space for 22 months.
Testing space tech
The secrecy surrounding the X-37B and its missions has led to some speculation that the vehicle may be a space weapon, perhaps designed to capture or disable other nations' satellites. But the Air Force insists that this is not the case, stressing that the X-37B is merely a test bed for space tech.
"The primary objectives of the X-37B are twofold: reusable spacecraft technologies for America's future in space, and operating experiments which can be returned to, and examined, on Earth," Air Force officials wrote in on online X-37B fact sheet.
"Technologies being tested in the program include advanced guidance, navigation and control; thermal protection systems; avionics; high-temperature structures and seals; conformal reusable insulation, lightweight electromechanical flight systems; and autonomous orbital flight, re-entry and landing," they added.
Experts generally agree with this assessment, saying the X-37B is not big or maneuverable enough to be a viable satellite-grabber.
‪"It was probably serving some sort of intelligence/surveillance/reconnaissance (ISR) function," Brian Weeden, a technical adviser with the Secure World Foundation and a former orbital analyst with the Air Force, said about OTV-3.
"And the secrecy surrounding the mission being performed by the X-37B suggests the mission was being done for the NRO, perhaps to test out and evaluate new sensor technologies or techniques," Weeden told via email, referring to the National Reconnaissance Office, which operates the United States' spy satellites.
Observations by amateur satellite spotters revealed that OTV-3 flew at a relatively low altitude (218 miles, or 350 kilometers) and ranged from 43.5 degrees north latitude to 43.5 degrees south latitude, Weeden noted.
"That means it wasn't collecting [information] on Russia, which is north of those latitudes," he said. "What does fall within the latitudes it covered are the Middle East, Afghanistan, Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America, so its targets for collection were likely in those regions."
The fourth X-37B mission will launch sometime in 2015, Air Force officials said.
Quelle: SC
Update: 19.10.2014
Boeing-built X-37B Orbital TEST Vehicle Successfully Completes 3rd FLIGHT
Unmanned spacecraft concludes record-setting 674-day mission
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., Oct. 17, 2014 – The Boeing [NYSE: BA]-built X-37B Orbital TEST Vehicle (OTV) successfully de-orbited and landed today at Vandenberg Air Force Base at 9:24 a.m. PDT, concluding a 674-day experimental test mission for the U.S. Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office. The X-37B was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., on Dec. 11, 2012.  
“We congratulate the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office and the 30th Space Wing at Vandenberg Air Force Base on this third successful OTV mission,” said Ken Torok, Boeing director of Experimental Systems. “With a program total of 1,367 days on orbit over three missions, these agile and powerful small space vehicles have COMPLETED more days on orbit than all 135 Space Shuttle missions combined, which total 1,334 days. The innovative X-37B combines the best of an aircraft and a spacecraft into an affordable, responsive unmanned vehicle and continues to demonstrate that reusable space vehicles are affordable options that support vital missions.” 
The first OTV mission began April 22, 2010, and concluded on Dec. 3, 2010, after 224 days in orbit. The second OTV mission began March 5, 2011, and concluded on June 16, 2012, after 468 days on orbit.
The X-37B program is demonstrating a reliable, reusable unmanned space test platform for the Air Force. Its objectives include space experimentation, risk reduction and concept-of-operations development for reusable space vehicle technologies that could become key ENABLERS for future space missions.
Boeing's commitment to this space-based unmanned vehicle spans a decade and includes support to the Air Force Research Lab's X-40 program, NASA's X-37 program and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's X-37 Approach & Landing Test Vehicle program.
A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is one of the world's largest defense, space and security businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world's largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is a $32 billion business with 56,000 employees worldwide. Follow us on Twitter: @BoeingDefense.
Quelle: Boeing

Tags: USAF-OTV-3/X-37B X-37B 


Samstag, 18. Oktober 2014 - 23:35 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Science Sample Return Vehicle for International Space Station National Laboratory


Intuitive Machines in cooperation with National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has been selected by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) to develop a Terrestrial Return Vehicle (TRV) that will enable ON DEMAND, rapid return of experiments from the International Space Station (ISS) National Laboratory. Through this commercial service, Intuitive Machines will enable researchers to regularly and quickly return small samples and components from the ISS to Earth. The timely delivery of critical or perishable samples is essential in enabling new and exciting research aboard the ISS National Laboratory. Currently, retrieval and return of experiment results from the ISS are restricted to only a couple of times per year and requires a lengthy upfront planning process. In contrast, the performance of Intuitive Machines’ TRV allows for frequent delivery opportunities with same day delivery of samples from ISS to the researcher’s laboratory. Intuitive Machines will provide this service to a wide range of customers including scientific, academic, commercial, and government. This new capability will enable increased utilization of the ISS as a national laboratory and improve the commercialization opportunities of experiments for terrestrial benefit. The first FLIGHT of the TRV from the ISS is planned for 2016. “The International Space Station, with its unique microgravity laboratories and crew, enables research over a wide range of disciplines from physics through biology. This small payload return capability will provide controlled conditions and flexible choices for timely sample analysis. The scientific team will be able to much more efficiently adjust experimental parameters in response to results, exploit unique results, and correct problems encountered.” said Dr. David Wolf, a research scientist and former astronaut.
As part of this new venture Intuitive Machines is responsible for the overall design and certification of the return vehicle, as well as terrestrial payload return services for its customers. CASIS will provide integration onto a commercial launch vehicle for access to the ISS, as well as on-orbit flight operations services.
Some images courtesy of NASA
Terrestrial Return Vehicle
The TRV is delivered to ISS on a commercial resupply service vehicle and stored on orbit until needed
Once the transfer CARGO is loaded into the TRV it is placed into the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) airlock
The JEM Robotic Manipulator System extracts the TRV
Once the jettison attitude is achieved the TRV is released
At the appropriate time a deorbit maneuver is initiated
Airfoil is deployed and TRV gently lands at the DESIGNATED spaceport
The TRV is designed to be stored in the habitable volume of the ISS and deployed ON DEMAND from the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) airlock via the Cyclops ejection mechanism with assistance from the JEM Robotic Manipulator System. The vehicle is equipped with propulsion and flight control systems, which perform the propulsive maneuver for de-orbit, guided entry, and descent through the Earth’s atmosphere. The lift-to-drag ratio of the TRV airframe enables superior range and cross range capability compared to a capsule and thus, more landing opportunities with a reduced entry g-load. It contains all of the necessary subsystems for protecting the payload during the return and delivering it accurately to a landing location such as a dry lakebed, where it can be readily retrieved. Once recovered, the payload will be removed from the TRV and delivered to the customer.
If you are interested in using TRV for your experiment or would like more information please contact us.
The mission of CASIS is to maximize use of the ISS National Laboratory, an unparalleled platform for innovation. The organization has been AWARDED by NASA the responsibility of inciting the imagination of entrepreneurs and scientists alike, accelerating and facilitating space-based research as well as creating public awareness of National Lab research and making space science more accessible to the world.
Quelle:intuitive machines


Samstag, 18. Oktober 2014 - 17:10 Uhr

UFO-Forschung - Unzureichende Informationen in NICAP-Dokument als UFO-Beweis -TEIL 10


August 28, 1954 - Oklahoma City
NICAP lists a case in its chronology that should have an extensive paper trail that I wanted to examine:
August 28, 1954--Oklahoma City, Okla. Fifteen UFOs in precise triangular formation observed by hundreds of citizens, Tinker AFB radar. [VIII]1
Section VII is titled “special evidence” and it falls into the Radar category. Hoping for more information, I turned to the page and found the following brief statement:
Fifteen UFOs in triangle formation tracked on radar, chased by jets; changed to semi-circle formation and sped away.2
There is no mention of radar and the source listed is Donald Keyhoe’s “Flying Saucer Con- spiracy”. There is no additional information so I decided to see if project Blue Book had a case for that date and would provide me with the paper trail that, I thought, should exist.
Blue Book’s response is ...
Instead of an extensive file, Blue Book’s record of this case is almost non-existent. They do list a case for that date but it states that
it is for Information only and no solution is given. It is not even listed as “unidentified”. So what happened?
A search of the files reveals a series of documents regarding this case. It starts with a letter on July 16, 1960 from the James Maney, who had the title of “deputy director” of a UFO group called “Interplanetary intelligence of Unidentified Flying Objects”. He wrote the following:4
ATIC reported that they had no records of any UFO sightings over Oklahoma City in August of 1954. This prompted Colonel Tacker to respond with a letter on August 5, stating that they had no record of such an event and that they suggested for Maney to look into the local newspapers.5
Because Blue Book seems unaware of this event, I was left going to other sources to determine the details of this sighting.
Other sources
Brad Sparks includes this in his list of unidentified Blue Book cases:
Aug. 28, 1954. Tinker AFB, Okla. (35.42° N, 97.37° W). 8:30 p.m. Several USAF pilots flying fighters saw a triangular formation of 15 ob- jects, tracked by ground radar. (Sparks; Weinstein)6
The location is simply the latitude and longitude for Tinker AFB. It is not the location of any actual sighting. The “Sparks” source is not very specific. All we can assume is that this is based on Sparks’ personal research so it is hard to determine exactly what sources he used. If you examine the Weinstein file, we find that his source is NICAP’s document and Larry Hatch’s database. Larry Hatch’s database is unavailable but it uses Keyhoe as a source! It appears that almost all the information about this UFO sighting is traced back to Donald Keyhoe.
Keyhoe describes the event in “The Flying saucer conspiracy”:
Some reports, of course, are bound to leak out, especially when sighted near cities. But even when local papers run front-page stories, the UFO censors often deny the reports or quickly explain them away. One such incident occurred in August of ‘54.
At 8:30 pm, a formation of 15 flying saucers approached Oklahoma City. Picked up by radar, the strange machines were spotted from Tinker AFB. Within seconds, by standing orders of the Air Defense Command, a flight of jets was dispatched.
Under AFR 200-2, emergency teletype messages were flashed to ADC Headquarters, to ATIC and the Pentagon. At the same time, warn- ing alerts were phoned to Will Rogers Airport, the Oklahoma State Police and to GOC (Ground Observer Corps) posts in a radius of 200 miles.
Meanwhile, in precision triangular formation, the fifteen saucers had raced over the edge of the city. The jets, guns set to fire, hurtled after them at full power. Abruptly the formation broke. Changing into a semicircle, the saucers speeded up and vanished into the west.
Immediately, additional alerts were flashed to western Air Filter Centers. When the Tinker Field pilots landed, after a fruitless chase, they were bombarded with questions by a team of Intelligence officers. Then the teletypes clattered again, with urgent follow-up reports.
But though the saucer chase had been seen by hundreds in the city, and the alert was confirmed by the State Police, Tinker Field officers refused to admit the sighting.
Time and again, in the past year, Air Defense fighters have streaked up into the night, trying to force down saucers hovering over our cit- ies. Yet few of these incidents are officially admitted. 7
Inhisbook,“FlyingSaucers:TopSecret”,Keyhoestateshehadseenascriptforaprogramcalled,“Looktotheskies”. Thefunnything about it, is that Keyhoe reports the script was written and approved by the USAF! To him this implied the USAF had confirmed the story. However, the script he cites is an EXACT replica of the above passage.8 It provided no new information and was simply par- roting what Keyhoe had written. This “script” has never appeared in the public domain that I am aware of and was simply based on Keyhoe’s book. It was not based on any additional data or information.
Looking through the newspaper archive, I found no reference to this case. There were several UFO sightings around this date and one was pretty close to Oklahoma city in Woodward, Oklahoma. This was seen by 1500 people and was determined to be a balloon. I discussed this with several individuals, including Herb Taylor. Herb concluded, as had I, that it must have been in the Oklahoma City newspaper. I was in the process of asking a friend in the Oklahoma region to check the local library when Herb contacted Barry Greenwood. Greenwood provided this article that appeared in the Oklahoman on August 29, 19549:
The exact number of witnesses is not listed so it is hard to determine where the number of “hundreds” came from. We have some unnamed witnesses and one named source, which gave the description of seeing luminous sources in a trian- gular pattern that changed into a semi-circle as they flew west. We have no idea if the other witnesses even saw the same thing! There is no mention of any radar contact or jets pursuing these UFOs in the article. One would expect some of these hundreds” of witnesses would have seen the jets mentioned by Keyhoe and reported it to the news media.
Why is this case even listed?
We don’t know what these witnesses actually saw. They might have been birds in formation illuminated by city lights or alien spaceships. However, the idea of a jet chase and radar contact seems to be based solely on “inside sources” that Keyhoe used. Are those “inside sources” legitimate or are they nothing more than rumors that he printed as “facts”? Did anybody ever research this case beyond what Keyhoe had written?
It is a fact that something was reported as being seen that night. However, what is presented in the UFO evidence is a version of events that can not be verified and appears to be an exaggeration of what actually transpired. Radar operators/technicians, pilots, aircraft support crews, and air tower personnel would have been aware of this event. The lack of a single confirming witness to this part of the case makes it unlikely that it happened this way. Keyhoe’s sensationalist style of writing has been accepted as factual but there is absolutely nothing to prove the claims of radar contact or jets attempting an intercept.
This case is based on, as far as I can tell, one newspaper report and “rumors”. At best it is an “insufficient information” classification. To consider this case as proof that UFOs are “manifestations of extraterrestrial life”10 is wishful thinking.
Quelle: SUNlite 2/2014

Tags: UFO-Forschung 


Samstag, 18. Oktober 2014 - 16:30 Uhr

UFO-Forschung - Verschwörungs- und Ufo-Alarm in Hörsaal 200 der TU München


München - Ein wenig unangenehm ist es den Offiziellen an der TU München schon: An der Kaderschmiede deutscher Wissenschaftler und INGENIEURE dürfen sich am Wochenende sogenannte Grenzwissenschaften und Verschwörungstheoretiker austoben.

Das Who is Who der internationalen Verschwörungstheoretikerszene trifft sich an diesem Wochenende an der TU München. Selbsternannte Mythologen und Neo-Archäologen treffen auf Quanten-, Astro-, und Biophysiker, die irgendwann auf ihrem Lebensweg in Richtung Feinstofflichkeit und ESOTERIK abgebogen sind. Daneben treten Samstag und Sonntag ausgewiesene Verschwörungsexperten auf - wie etwa Armin Risi. Er ist Autor des inzwischen hinreichend als Drehscheibe für krude Weltsichten bekannten schwäbischen Kopp-Verlags. Kritiker bezeichnen ihn schon mal als den „ultimativen Verschwörungstheoretiker“. Und tatsächlich findet sich in seinen Veröffentlichungen und Vorträgen von Prinzessin Dianas Tod über den Einsturz der New Yorker Twin-Towers bis hin zu Ufo-Projekten der Nazis, Pyramiden und der Bibel beinahe jedes Reizwort für den interessierten Geheimniskrämer.
Das Impressum der Internetseite zur Veranstaltung nennt das Unternehmen TCCHE eines gewissen Richard Mark Smith als Veranstalter. Eine Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung ohne eigenes Gesellschaftskapital in St. Albans, gut 30 Kilometer vor den Toren Londons. Smith bezeichnet sich als „EVENT-Coordinator“ und hat die gleiche Veranstaltung als „Conference for consciousness and human evolution“ bereits mehrfach mit bis zu 500 Teilnehmern in London inszeniert - zuletzt im August im Park Plaza HOTEL an der Themse.
Die Säle der TU wurden jedoch von einem deutschen Geschäftspartner gemietet. Und tatsächlich, wer die ebenfalls auf der WEBSEITE im Impressum angegebene Mobiltelefonnummer wählt, den ruft kurze Zeit später ein gewisser Jörg Schönemann zurück. Der gibt an, mit dem Briten Richard Smith befreundet zu sein und gemeinsam die Veranstaltung in München geplant zu haben.
Er freut sich, mit der TU einen kostengünstigen Partner für das Event gefunden zu haben. Denn nur so könnten für Interessierte die Preise mit knapp 100 Euro für die beiden Tage günstig bleiben, selbst wenn prominente Redner aus den Vereinigten Staaten anreisten. So wie etwa JJ Hurtak, „beteiligt am Auffinden des Grab des Osiris in Ägypten durch Fernerkundungstechnik“.
Die Erstauflage der deutschen „Konferenz für Bewusstsein und menschliche Evolution“ an der Münchner TU sorgte allerdings bereits im Netz für einigen Wirbel. Auch der Beauftragte für Sekten- und Weltanschauungsfragen der Evangelisch-Lutherischen Kirche in Bayern, Dr. Matthias Pöhlmann, zeigt sich irritiert: „Man muss sich schon fragen, warum sich eine renommierte Universität für diese Art von Pseudowissenschaft hergibt. Schließlich werben die Redner am Ende mit ihren Auftritten an einer Universität.“ Die Pressestelle der Uni bekam inzwischen ebenfalls unfreundliche Korrespondenz zu lesen. Handhabe gegen die Verschwörungstheoretiker will sie allerdings nicht haben. Der Leiter der Pressestelle Dr. Ulrich Marsch sieht die TU München als staatliche Einrichtung zur weltanschaulichen Neutralität verpflichtet - BANKEN und Kirchen nutzten die Hörsäle ebenso: „Bisher liegen uns keine Informationen vor, die eine Absage der Veranstaltung ermöglichen würden.“ Er weist jedoch ausdrücklich darauf hin, dass die Uni keine wie auch immer gearteten „Verstöße gegen geltende Rechtsvorschriften oder Äußerungen, die der freiheitlich-demokratischen Grundordnung der Bundesrepublik Deutschland widersprechen“ dulden werde. Im Ernstfall sei man bereit, selbst eine laufende Veranstaltung vorzeitig beenden zu lassen.
Auch im bayerischen Kultusministerium sieht man SICH zur Neutralität verpflichtet: „Soweit eine Vermietung den Betrieb der Hochschule nicht stört, ist es möglich, Räumlichkeiten der Hochschule zu vermieten. Die Möglichkeit, Hörsäle für Vortragsveranstaltungen anzumieten, ist im gesamtgesellschaftlichen Interesse“, lässt Minister Ludwig Spaenles Pressestelle wissen. Die Hochschulen seien also angehalten, dies auch zu ermöglichen. Hinsichtlich des Inhalts der Veranstaltungen sehe sich die TU München als weltanschaulich und politisch neutral.
Die nüchterne „Physik der kondensierten Materie“, die hier normalerweise gelehrt wird, muss im Interesse dieser Neutralität esoterisch-wolkigen Weisheiten und Glaubensbekenntnissen weichen. Ein Trost für Physiker: Der Spuk dauert nur ein Wochenende, und er bleibt auf den Audimax und den Hörsaal 200 begrenzt.
Quelle: Münchner Merkur


Freitag, 17. Oktober 2014 - 23:30 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Weltraummüll durchschlägt Sonnensegel der ISS


Ein winziger Splitter hat im Weltall ein Sonnensegel der Internationalen Raumstation ISS durchschlagen. Das Objekt, das entweder Weltraummüll oder ein kleiner Meteorit gewesen sei, habe nur knapp eine wichtige ammoniakführende Röhre des Solarmoduls verfehlt, meldete die Agentur Interfax unter Berufung auf einen Bericht der US-Raumfahrtbehörde Nasa.

Ein Leck hätte wohl von der Besatzung beim Einsatz im freien Kosmos geschlossen werden müssen. Die 13 Zentimeter lange und 10 Zentimeter breite Einschlagstelle sei auf neuen Fotos der Raumstation entdeckt worden, hieß es.
Die ISS musste in etwa 400 Kilometern Höhe schon mehrfach heranrasendem Weltraumschrott wie etwa Resten ausrangierter Satelliten ausweichen. Auf dem Außenposten der Menschheit arbeiten derzeit der deutsche Astronaut Alexander Gerst sowie drei Russen und zwei US-Amerikaner.
Quelle: ntv


Freitag, 17. Oktober 2014 - 14:25 Uhr

Raumfahrt - NASA und SpaceX teilen Daten bei Supersonic Retropropulsion Deal


In this thermal imagery captured shortly after stage separation, the top of the SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage appears as a dim dot with a fading plume within the brighter upper-stage plume. In the inset, the restarted first-stage engines power the first stage as it performs a propulsive descent to Earth.
NASA/Scifli Team/Applied Physics Laboratory Images
An innovative partnership between NASA and SpaceX is giving the U.S. space agency an early look at what it would take to land multi-ton habitats and supply caches on Mars for human explorers, while providing sophisticated infrared (IR) imagery to help the spacecraft company develop a reusable launch vehicle.
After multiple attempts, airborne NASA and U.S. Navy IR tracking cameras have captured a SpaceX Falcon 9 in flight as its first stage falls back toward Earth shortly after second-stage ignition and then reignites to lower the stage toward a propulsive “zero-velocity, zero-altitude” touchdown on the sea surface (see images).
Engineers at NASA and SpaceX are now correlating that data with company telemetry from the Sept. 21 Falcon 9 launch of a Dragon cargo carrier to the International Space Station to learn exactly what the vehicle was doing in terms of engine-firing and maneuvering when it generated the signatures collected by the aircraft.
The deal is a “win-win” for both parties, who obtain valuable data that would otherwise be unavailable to them, says Robert Braun of the Georgia Institute of Technology, principal investigator on the Propulsive Descent Technologies (PDT) Project. For SpaceX, NASA is providing detailed information on temperatures and aerodynamic loading on the Falcon 9 vehicle as it rides an exhaust plume of hot gas toward its launch site. And NASA engineers get a chance to collect data on supersonic retropropulsion that may one day lower payloads the size of two-story buildings to the surface of Mars.
“This is the kind of thing that NASA couldn’t have done five years ago,” says Braun, who was chief technologist for the agency in 2010-11.
He learned that the hard way. After returning to Georgia Tech, Braun—a specialist in entry, descent and landing (EDL)—worked with engineers from the university and various NASA centers to develop a proposal for a $50 million sounding-rocket program to flight-test supersonic retropropulsion (AW&ST May 20, 2013, p. 30).
NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) rejected the plan “because of its cost,” Braun says. But the agency still needs a way to land payloads weighing more than 20 tons to support a human expedition to Mars, leading Braun and his colleagues to find common cause with SpaceX.
“If you look at the requirements for returning a first stage here on the Earth propulsively, and then you look at the requirements for landing heavy payloads on Mars, there’s a region where the two overlap—are right on top of each other,” Braun says. “If you start with a launch vehicle, and you want to bring it down in a controlled manner, you’re going to end up operating that propulsion system in the supersonic regime at the right altitudes to give you Mars-relevant conditions.”
Basically, the PDT Project struck a deal with SpaceX to use airborne -infrared-imaging techniques developed to study the space shuttle in flight after the Columbia accident as a data-gathering technique for the supersonic retro-propulsion SpaceX will need for its reusable launch vehicle development. Collecting the data is easier said than done, according to Tom Horvath of NASA’s Langley Research Center, the PDT imagery lead.
After unsuccessful attempts to image the rocket on the third SpaceX Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-3) mission that ultimately flew on April 18, and the July 14 launch following delays of six Orbcomm low-Earth-orbit communications satellites, the project struck pay dirt with the CRS-4 flight last month. Launched at night, the flight was captured by mid-wave IR sensors on NASA’s WB-57 aircraft based at Ellington Field in Houston, and on a Navy NP-3D Orion operating from Jacksonville, Florida.
“The sensors are actually following a pre-determined trajectory,” says Horvath of the passive tracking conducted by both aircraft. “It really boiled down to our ability to accurately point these systems and have them looking at a particular point in the sky at a very particular instant.”
Working off GPS position data for the aircraft and preloaded trajectories from SpaceX, the WB-57 at 50,000 ft. and the P-3 at 27,000 ft. were able to follow the Falcon 9 from the time it emerged from the clouds that had threatened the launch until its upper stage separated and the single Merlin engine on that stage ignited.
The cameras then followed the Falcon 9 first stage as it coasted to its apogee while the upper stage powered its way up toward orbit, picking up the IR signatures of the attitude-control jets positioning the stage with its engines facing away from the coast. The “boost-back burn” of three Merlins to move the stage closer to the coast registered clearly, followed by more attitude thrusters as they turned the engines into the direction the stage was traveling. Finally, the cameras caught reignition of three Merlin engines for the supersonic retropropulsion portion of the flight.
That was the main event for the NASA-backed team, which observed not only the changing temperatures from the maneuvering vehicle to spot any instabilities in the propulsion system, but also the effect of the engine-firings on the vehicle loading from the flow field surrounding the stage, as well as how the changing flow field affects vehicle drag. That aerodynamic data will help future developers design a Mars-landing trajectory for heavy payloads, Braun says.
“On the aero side, what you have to realize is of course you’re trying to decelerate, and drag is how we decelerate,” he says. “When the vehicle’s flow field changes, with the propulsion going from off to on, . . . you’re blowing off, or you’re losing most of your aerodynamic drag. That’s OK, because if you have enough propellant, you just do your descent propulsively. But if you’d like to manage how much propellant you have to bring with you all the way to the Mars surface, you’d like to minimize that mass . . . and so understanding how much drag will still be present when the propulsion system is on is also an important effect.”
For NASA, the period of the flight most relevant for future operations over Mars came when the first stage was traveling at about Mach 2, 100,000-150,000 ft. above the surface. The two midwave IR sensors—mounted in a nose pod on the WB-57 and internally on the P-3—were about 60 nm from the rocket when it reignited its engines for supersonic retropropulsion. That produced raw images in which the stage appeared 1 pixel wide and 10 pixels long, but subsequent enhancing by specialists at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory improved the resolution dramatically.
The final, single-engine touchdown was out of the cameras’ fields of view because of clouds, but the project plans to image at least one more Falcon 9 launch and may be able to capture the entire first-stage descent trajectory, if weather permits. Charles Campbell, an expert in computational fluid dynamics at Johnson Space Center and NASA’s project manager on the work with SpaceX, says the agency is spending about $10 million on the effort, which produces far better data for much less funding than the once-proposed sounding-rocket flight test. That is in keeping with a push at NASA to stretch its funding with outside partnerships (AW&ST Sept. 1, p. 18).
“Through our partnership with SpaceX, we’re gaining access to extraordinary real-world test data about advanced rocket-stage design and retropropulsion,” says Michael Gazarik, associate administrator for space technology. “By working with SpaceX and imaging their great technology, we’re saving the taxpayer millions of dollars we’d otherwise have to spend to develop test rockets and flights in-house.”
SpaceX founder Elon Musk has based his “disruptive” business approach in part on a stated goal of colonizing the red planet (AW&ST Aug. 15, p. 24). The NASA technology work is right in line with those plans.
“SpaceX was excited to support NASA’s efforts to capture infrared imagery of the Falcon 9 first-stage reentry maneuvers following the CRS-4 flight,” the company states. “In addition to informing our first-stage recovery efforts, the data captured on the stage’s supersonic retropropulsion may provide key insights toward understanding the propulsive descent technologies necessary to one day land people on Mars.” 
Quelle: Aviation Week

Tags: Raumfahrt 


Freitag, 17. Oktober 2014 - 11:45 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Erfolgreicher Start von Ariane-5 Flight-VA-220 mit ARSAT-1 / Intelsat DLA-1



The shipping container with ARSAT-1 emerges from the An-124 cargo aircraft after its arrival at Félix Eboué International Airport.
Ariane Flight VA220
The first geostationary satellite built in Argentina – ARSAT-1 – has been delivered to French Guiana, where this milestone spacecraft will be readied for Arianespace’s dual-passenger Ariane 5 mission in mid-October.
Transported by a chartered An-124 cargo jetliner, ARSAT-1 landed yesterday at Félix Eboué International Airport near French Guiana's capital city of Cayenne. The satellite was then unloaded for transfer by road to the Spaceport’s clean room facilities, where it is to undergo pre-launch processing.
ARSAT-1 was produced for Argentine satellite operator ARSAT (Empresa Argentina de Soluciones Satelitales Sociedad Anonima) by the company INVAP, with Airbus Defence and Space and Thales Alenia Space as leading equipment suppliers. This spacecraft will deliver a wide range of telecommunications, data transmission, telephone and television services across all of Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay – operating from an orbital position of 72 deg. West following its deployment by Ariane 5.
The ARSAT-1 satellite will be orbited along with its co-passenger, Intelsat DLA-1, on another of Ariane 5’s trademark dual-payload missions. Built for international operator Intelsat by SSL (Space Systems/Loral), DLA-1 – together with the DLA-2 satellite that will be lofted on a future flight – is to greatly expand direct-to-home entertainment offerings in Latin America, as well as provide backup and restoration services.
Arianespace’s mission with ARSAT-1 and Intelsat DLA-1 is designated Flight VA220 in the company’s launcher family numbering system. 
Quelle: arianespace
Update: 11.09.2014

ARSAT-1 is prepared for its Ariane 5 liftoff in October

ARSAT-1 is positioned on its work dolly as this geostationary satellite’s pre-launch checkout begins in the Spaceport’s S5C preparation hall.
Ariane Flight VA220
Pre-launch processing is now underway in French Guiana with ARSAT-1, one of two satellite passengers that will be orbited on Arianespace’s fifth heavy-lift Ariane 5 mission in 2014 – which is planned for mid-October.
ARSAT-1 is the milestone first geostationary satellite built in Argentina, produced by the company INVAP for operator ARSAT (Empresa Argentina de Soluciones Satelitales Sociedad Anonima) – with Airbus Defence and Space and Thales Alenia Space serving as leading equipment suppliers.
After its deployment by Ariane 5, ARSAT-1 will operate from an orbital position of 72 deg. West – from which it deliver a wide range of telecommunications, data transmission, telephone and television services across all of Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay.
Joining ARSAT-1 on this upcoming mission – designated Flight VA220 in Arianespace’s launcher family numbering system – is the Intelsat DLA-1 co-passenger, which was built for international operator Intelsat by SSL (Space Systems/Loral). Together with the DLA-2 satellite that will be lofted on a future flight, DLA-1 will greatly expand direct-to-home entertainment offerings in Latin America, as well as provide backup and restoration services.
The October launch with ARSAT-1 and Intelsat DLA-1 will follow Arianespace’s Ariane 5 mission on September 11, which is to loft a pair of commercial telecommunications satellites: MEASAT-3b and Optus 10. 
Quelle: arianespace
Update: 17.09.2014

ISDLA-1 arrives for Arianespace’s dual-payload Ariane 5 mission in October

Protected by its SHIPPING CONTAINER, ISDLA-1 is unloaded from the An-124 cargo jetliner following this high-power satellite’s arrival at Félix Eboué International Airport in French Guiana.
Ariane FLIGHT VA220
Payload preparations for Arianespace’s next Ariane 5 FLIGHT are moving into their full pace with delivery of the mission’s other passenger – ISDLA-1 – to French Guiana, where it joins the ARSAT-1 satellite that arrived earlier this month.
ISDLA-1 was transported this week by a chartered An-124 cargo jetliner which landed at Félix Eboué International Airport near the capital city of Cayenne, and subsequently was unloaded for transfer by road to the Spaceport.
This high-power spacecraft – which will be orbited for two long-time Arianespace customers, DIRECTV and Intelsat – was built by SSL (Space Systems/Loral) based on its proven 1300-series satellite platform.
Together with the ISDLA-2 satellite that is to be lofted on a future FLIGHT, ISDLA-1 will greatly expand direct-to-home entertainment offerings in Latin America, as well as provide BACKUP and restoration services – with each contracted to provide service for a minimum of 15 years. Both also will be co-located with Intelsat’s Galaxy 3C spacecraft at an orbital position of 95 deg. West.
Scheduled for an October liftoff, Arianespace’s mission with ISDLA-1 and ARSAT-1 is designated Flight VA220 in the company’s launcher family numbering system. It will be the fifth launch of a heavy-lift Ariane 5 in 2014 – following the most recent success that orbited the MEASAT-3b and Optus 10 commercial telecommunications satellites from French Guiana on September 11. 
Quelle: arianespace
Update: 20.09.2014
Payload preparations are underway with ISDLA-1 for Arianespace’s October Ariane 5 mission
Preparation activity is underway with Ariane 5 FLIGHT VA220’s ISDLA-1 co-passenger at the Spaceport’s S5C facility in French Guiana.
Ariane FLIGHT VA220
Pre-launch payload processing is moving into full swing for Arianespace’s next Ariane 5 FLIGHT, with the mission’s ISDLA-1 telecommunications satellite now undergoing preparations for a targeted October 16 liftoff from French Guiana.
To be orbited for two long-standing Arianespace partners – Intelsat and DIRECTV – the high-powered ISDLA-1 is built by SSL (Space Systems/Loral) based on the 1300-series satellite PLATFORM.
Following its deployment from Ariane 5, this spacecraft will expand direct-to-home entertainment offerings in Latin America, along with providing BACKUP and restoration services. With a design life of 15 years, ISDLA-1 will be co-located with Intelsat’s Galaxy 3C satellite at 95 deg. West.
Ariane 5 will also carry the milestone ARSAT-1 spacecraft for ARSAT on this heavy-lift mission. As the first geostationary satellite built in Argentina, ARSAT-1 is produced by INVAP with Airbus Defence and Space and Thales Alenia Space serving as leading equipment suppliers.
From its orbital position at 72 deg. West, ARSAT-1 will deliver a wide range of telecommunications, data transmission, telephone and television services across Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay.
Arianespace’s upcoming October heavy-lift mission is scheduled to be the fifth Ariane 5 launch this year and is designated FLIGHT VA220 in the company’s numbering system. 
Quelle: arianespace
Update: 8.10.2014

Intelsat 30/DLA-1 is delivered to the Spaceport's Final Assembly Building for integration on its Ariane 5 launcher

Intelsat 30/DLA-1 made initial contact with launcher hardware during activity in the Spaceport’s S3B clean room facility, and subsequently was transferred to Ariane 5’s Final Assembly Building for mating with the heavy-lift vehicle.
Ariane Flight VA220
The Intelsat 30/DLA-1 satellite, which is one of two passengers for Arianespace’s next Ariane 5 flight, has been delivered to the Spaceport’s Final Assembly Building – marking a new step toward this mission’s payload integration.
Intelsat 30/DLA-1 – built by SSL (Space Systems/Loral) for two long-time Arianespace customers, Intelsat and DIRECTV – was transported this week from the Spaceport’s S3B clean room facility, where the high-power relay spacecraft underwent pre-flight checkout and received its onboard propellant.
Contracted to provide service for a minimum of 15 years after its Ariane 5 launch, Intelsat 30/DLA-1 will greatly expand direct-to-home entertainment offerings in Latin America, as well as provide backup and restoration services. It is to operate from an orbital position of 95 deg. West, co-located with Intelsat’s Galaxy 3C spacecraft.
Intelsat 30/DLA-1 will be joined on the Ariane 5 launch vehicle by ARSAT-1 – the first geostationary satellite built in Argentina, which is to deliver a wide range of telecommunications, data transmission, telephone and television services across Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay. It was produced by the company INVAP for operator ARSAT (Empresa Argentina de Soluciones Satelitales Sociedad Anonima), with Airbus Defence and Space and Thales Alenia Space serving as leading equipment suppliers.
The upcoming Ariane 5 mission, designated VA220 in Arianespace’s launcher family numbering system, is scheduled for an October 16 liftoff from the Spaceport in French Guiana.
Quelle: arianespace
Update: 10.10.2014

ARSAT-1 is installed on the Ariane 5 for Arianespace’s next heavy-lift mission

During activity in the upper level of the Spaceport’s Final Assembly Building, ARSAT-1 is lowered into position atop its Ariane 5 launcher.
Ariane Flight VA220
Final integration has begun for Arianespace’s heavy-lift mission on October 16, with ARSAT-1 now installed on the workhorse Ariane 5 launcher at the Spaceport in French Guiana.
The spacecraft was positioned atop Ariane 5’s core cryogenic stage this week during activity inside the Spaceport’s launch vehicle Final Assembly Building – placing it as the lower passenger, to be released second in the flight sequence after its co-passenger, Intelsat 30, hosting the DLA-1 payload.
ARSAT-1 is the milestone first geostationary satellite built in Argentina, produced by the company INVAP for operator ARSAT (Empresa Argentina de Soluciones Satelitales Sociedad Anonima) – with Airbus Defence and Space and Thales Alenia Space serving as leading equipment suppliers.
After its deployment by Ariane 5, ARSAT-1 will operate from an orbital position of 71.8 deg. West – from which it is to deliver a wide range of telecommunications, data transmission, telephone and television services across all of Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay.
Joining ARSAT-1 on this upcoming mission – designated Flight VA220 in Arianespace’s launcher family numbering system – is the Intelsat 30 co-passenger hosting the DLA-1 payload, which was built by SSL (Space Systems/Loral) for two long-time Arianespace customers: Intelsat and DIRECTV. Once in orbit, Intelsat 30/DLA-1 will greatly expand direct-to-home entertainment offerings in Latin America, as well as provide backup and restoration services. 
Quelle: arianespace
Update: 13.10.2014
Quelle: arianespace
Update: 16.10.2014

Ariane 5 is moved to the launch zone for Arianespace’s fifth heavy-lift flight in 2014

The heavy-lift Ariane 5 with its Intelsat 30 and ARSAT-1 payloads approaches the Spaceport’s ELA-3 launch zone during today’s rollout.
Ariane Flight VA220
The workhorse Ariane 5 for tomorrow’s Arianespace mission from French Guiana is now ready for liftoff following its rollout to the Spaceport’s ELA-3 launch complex.
Riding atop a mobile launch table, Ariane 5 was transferred earlier today from the Spaceport’s Final Assembly Building – where this vehicle received its dual-satellite payload.  With the rollout now completed, the final countdown will begin for an October 16 liftoff at the start of a 51-minute launch window opening at 6:00 p.m. local time in French Guiana.
This fifth Ariane 5 mission in 2014 has an estimated payload performance of 10,000 kg., which includes a combined total of approximately 9,300 kg. for the two passengers – Intelsat 30, hosting the DLA-1 payload, and ARSAT-1 – as well as the launcher’s SYLDA dual-passenger dispenser system and satellite integration hardware.
Riding as the upper passenger in Ariane 5’s payload arrangement is Intelsat 30, which will be released at approximately 27 minutes into the flight. This spacecraft was built by SSL (Space Systems/Loral) for Intelsat and will operate from an orbital position of 95 deg. West – from which it is to greatly expand direct-to-home entertainment offerings in Latin America, as well as provide backup and restoration services.
ARSAT-1 – the first geostationary satellite built in Argentina, produced by INVAP for ARSAT (Empresa Argentina de Soluciones Satelitales Sociedad Anonima) – will be deployed from Ariane 5’s lower passenger position at approximately 33 minutes after liftoff. From an orbital position of 71.8 deg. West, ARSAT-1 will deliver a wide range of telecommunications, data transmission, telephone and television services across all of Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay.
Tomorrow’s mission is designated VA220 in Arianespace’s launcher family numbering system, signifying the 220th flight of an Ariane family vehicle since 1979. 
Quelle: arianespace
Update: 21.20 MESZ 

Ariane 5 enters the final countdown for its flight with Intelsat 30 and ARSAT-1


Update: 22.46 MESZ
Frams: LIVE Start VA 220
Quelle: arianespace
Update: 17.10.2014 
Arianespace Flight VA220
Arianespace successfully launches two satellites for the Americas 
Arianespace has successfully launched two telecommunications satellites: Intelsat 30, which is hosting the DLA-1 Ku-band payload for DIRECTV Latin America, is designed to provide distribution services for DIRECTV Latin America in South America and the Caribbean and ARSAT-1, which features direct-tohome (DTH) TV broadcast payloads for Latin America. The launch was performed by an Ariane 5 ECA on October 16 at 6:43 pm (local time) from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana. This launch again clearly shows that Arianespace's quality, reliability and experience are recognized by all operators, established and new, global and regional.
Quelle: arianespace

Tags: Raumfahrt 


Freitag, 17. Oktober 2014 - 10:14 Uhr

Astronomie - Ein 3D-Flug über Hydraotes Chaos auf dem Mars


Zu den interessantesten Geländeformen auf dem Mars zählen die sogenannten chaotischen Gebiete. Dabei handelt es sich um ausgedehnte Landschaften, in denen Dutzende oder sogar hunderte frei stehende und bis zu zweitausend Meter hohe Berge verstreut sind. Aus der Umlaufbahn fotografiert bilden sie ein bizarres, "chaotisches" Muster. Solche Gebiete finden sich in großer Ausdehnung gerade im Westen und Osten der Valles Marineris, des größten Canyons im Sonnensystem. Besonders typisch verkörpert Hydraotes Chaos diese Landschaftsform. Dieses große Becken, das etwa die Ausdehnung Baden-Württembergs hat, liegt nahe dem Marsäquator im Marshochland.
Quellgebiet für die großen Stromtäler aus dem Hochland
Auf der Erde gibt es keine vergleichbare Landschaftsform. Die Wissenschaftler nehmen an, dass in der Frühzeit des Mars Wasser in Form von Eis in Hohlräumen unter der Oberfläche des Hochlands gespeichert war, das erwärmt wurde und taute. Anschließend stand es so unter Druck, dass es mit großer Energie entlang von Spalten und Störungszonen an der Oberfläche austrat und das Deckgebirge in großen Schollen zusammenstürzte. Beim Abfließen erodierte das Wasser die Landschaft und hinterließ nach und nach die heute sichtbaren markanten Spuren. Für diese Theorie spricht auch, dass sich viele der chaotischen Gebiete auf dem Mars am Anfang von großen Ausflusstälern befinden, durch die ganz offensichtlich enorme Mengen an Wasser mit großer Energie aus dem Hochland in Richtung der nördlichen Tiefebenen strömten.
Die Wassermengen, die in Hydraotes Chaos zunächst gespeichert waren und dann durch das Simud Vallis nach Norden strömten, müssen gigantisch gewesen sein. In ihrer Gesamtheit flossen sie aus einem Einzugsgebiet von etwa 1500 Kilometer Durchmesser ab, einem Gebiet etwa der Größe Mitteleuropas. Das Hydraotes-Becken hat einen Durchmesser von 420 Kilometern. Man nimmt an, dass es sich schon vor sehr langer Zeit, vor mehr als dreieinhalb Milliarden Jahren (im Marszeitalter des Noachiums) gebildet hat.
Entstehung der Bilder und Animationen
Die Aufnahmen, die zur Erzeugung dieser Bilder und der simulierten Überflüge Verwendung fanden, wurden von der am Deutschen Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) betrieben Stereokamera HRSC auf der ESA-Raumsonde Mars Express aufgenommen. Für die hier gezeigten Animationen und Bilder wurde auch noch einmal der Bildstreifen des für die HRSC-Wissenschaftler symbolisch bedeutsamen "Orbits Nr. 18" bearbeitet und verwendet. Vor mehr als zehn Jahren, im Januar 2004, flog Mars Express während seiner 18. Marsumrundung über Hydraotes Chaos. Es war das dritte Mal, dass die HRSC-Kamera angeschaltet war, und die Bilder aus dem über eintausend Kilometer langen Aufnahmestreifen waren so spektakulär, dass sie für die erste Bildveröffentlichung der erfolgreichen ESA-Mission herangezogen wurden. Um die westliche Hälfte des Beckens von Hydraotes Chaos in größerem regionalen Kontext darstellen zu können, wurden weitere HRSC-Aufnahmen aus späteren Orbits für das große Bildmosaik verwendet. Das dargestellte Gebiet ist etwa 400 Kilometer mal 200 Kilometer groß.
Die Bilder und die Animationen wurden von der Fachgruppe Planetologie und Fernerkundung der Freien Universität Berlin erzeugt, die seit Beginn der Mission Mars Express von Professor Dr. Gerhard Neukum (1944 - 2014) geleitet wurde.
In Memoriam Professor Gerhard Neukum
Professor Neukum gilt als der "Vater" des HRSC-Kamerasystems. Er entwickelte die Idee einer "High Resolution Stereo Camera" zur systematischen, hochgenauen Kartierung der Topographie des Mars bereits Ende der 1980er-Jahre am damaligen Institut für Optoelektronik des DLR in Oberpfaffenhofen. Zum Einsatz kommen sollte die HRSC erstmals bei der russischen Mission Mars 96, die jedoch kurz nach dem Start scheiterte. Pofessor Neukum, inzwischen Direktor des DLR-Instituts für Planetenerkundung in Berlin-Adlershof, setzte sich daraufhin mit weiteren europäischen Kollegen intensiv für eine Marsmission unter der Ägide der Europäischen Weltraumorganisation ESA ein: Die Geburtsstunde der ESA-Mission Mars Express, die seit dem 25. Dezember 2003 den Mars umkreist und mit dem HRSC-Experiment hoch aufgelöste 3D-Daten der Marsoberfläche zur Erde überträgt. Professor Neukum verstarb am 21. September 2014. Er war einer der profiliertesten deutschen Planetenforscher und fachlich weltweit anerkannt. Mit seinen Arbeiten zur Chronologie der Körper des Sonnensystems hatte er sein Fachgebiet entscheidend geprägt und wissenschaftliche Meilensteine gesetzt.
Frams: DLR-Video:
Quelle: DLR

Tags: Astronomie 


Donnerstag, 16. Oktober 2014 - 21:14 Uhr

Astronomie - Im Focus von Cassini: Cassini von Hyperion Partikelstrahl getroffen


Cassini obtained this false-color view of Saturn's chaotically tumbling moon Hyperion during a flyby on Sept. 26, 2005. The spacecraft detected a strong electrostatic charge on the moon's surface, a first for any body other than Earth's moon. Image credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute


Static electricity is known to play an important role on Earth's airless, dusty moon, but evidence of static charge building up on other objects in the solar system has been elusive until now. A new analysis of data from NASA's Cassini mission has revealed that, during a 2005 flyby of Saturn's moon Hyperion, the spacecraft was briefly bathed in a beam of electrons coming from the moon's electrostatically charged surface.
The finding represents the first confirmed detection of a charged surface on an object other than our moon, although it is predicted to occur on many different bodies, including asteroids and comets.
The new analysis was led by Tom Nordheim, a doctoral candidate at Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL), University College London, and was published recently in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
Hyperion is porous and icy, with a bizarre, sponge-like appearance. Its surface is continuously bombarded by ultraviolet light from the sun and exposed to a rain of charged particles -- electrons and ions -- within the invisible bubble generated by Saturn’s magnetic field, called the magnetosphere. The researchers think Hyperion's exposure to this hostile space environment is the source of the particle beam that struck Cassini.
Measurements made by several of Cassini's instruments during a close encounter with Hyperion on September 26, 2005, indicate that something unexpected took place in the charged particle environment around the spacecraft. Among those instruments, the Cassini Plasma Spectrometer (CAPS) detected that the spacecraft was magnetically connected to the surface of Hyperion for a brief period, allowing electrons to escape from the moon toward the robotic probe.
Most people are familiar with the electrostatic charge buildup that occurs when a balloon is rubbed against hair or a sweater. Objects in space can also become electrostatically charged by exposure to solar ultraviolet light and incoming charged particles. The Cassini data show that a similar process can take place on Hyperion.
The finding is surprising, as the small but odd-looking moon was thought to be a simple inert object, which would not undergo any strong interactions with the Saturnian magnetosphere. Nevertheless, the team's analysis indicates that Cassini remotely detected a strongly negative voltage on Hyperion. "It was rather like Cassini receiving a 200-volt electric shock from Hyperion, even though they were over 2,000 kilometers [1,200 miles] apart at the time," said Nordheim.
Scientists had previously suggested that surface features observed on the asteroid Eros and several of Saturn's moons are due to the motion of charged dust across their surfaces. On small objects with low gravity, dust grains might even be able to overcome the force of gravity and escape into space.
Although mission controllers have detected no signs that the Hyperion electron beam caused damage to Cassini, strong electric charging effects could prove to be a hazard to future robotic and human explorers at planetary objects without atmospheres, including Earth's moon, where they could create the potential for powerful electrostatic discharges.
"Our observations show that this is also an important effect at outer planet moons and that we need to take this into account when studying how these moons interact with their environment," said Geraint Jones of MSSL, a member of the Cassini CAPS team who helped supervise the study.
Cassini's CAPS instrument was powered off in 2012, when the instrument began to draw excess current. The team is based at Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio. Part of the CAPS instrument that made the detection discussed in this research -- the CAPS electron spectrometer -- was built by MSSL.
Nordheim and colleagues also utilized data from three other Cassini instruments in their analysis: the Radio and Plasma Wave Science instrument, the Magnetospheric Imaging Instrument and the magnetometer.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
Quelle: NASA

Tags: Astronomie 


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