Raumfahrt - Start von SpaceX-3 Dragon zur ISS am 14.April - UPDATE



Technicians attach the Dragon capsule to a Falcon 9 rocket at the SpaceX facility at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., during preparations for the SpaceX 1 mission.


The Dragon spacecraft stands inside a processing hangar at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station where teams had just installed the spacecraft's solar array fairings on Jan. 12, 2013.
Image Credit: 
NASA/Kim Shiflett
The SpaceX mission to ferry cargo to the International Space Station is to launch Sunday, March 16 at 4:41 a.m. eastern time from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
Quelle: SpaceX
Update: 10.02.2014
SpaceX on pace for mid-March launch to space station
Juggling flight delays and busy skies with the skill of seasoned air traffic controllers, International Space Station managers have approved the launch date for SpaceX's next cargo resupply mission for March 16.
Liftoff from Cape Canaveral's Complex 40 launch pad is set for 4:41 a.m. EST (0841 GMT), the time when Earth's rotation brings the space station's flight path over the Space Coast, NASA announced last week.
SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon cargo carrier will make the company's third commercial logistics delivery to the space station under a $1.6 billion contract with NASA. The deal calls for 12 missions through 2016.
The Dragon spacecraft will chase the space station for two days, with final approach set for March 18 under the guidance of high-tech laser mapping sensors.
The outpost's crew, scheduled to be three-strong at the time of the Dragon capsule's arrival, will grapple the free-flying spacecraft with the space station's Canadian-built robot arm. The crane-like appendage will move the food- and experiment-toting Dragon to a parking port on the lab's Harmony module for a one-month stay.
The astronauts will unpack the Dragon spacecraft's pressurized cabin, about the size of a large walk-in closet, of several tons of supplies, including government, commercial and student experiments. Then the crew will reload the spaceship with an array of cargo tagged for return to Earth, including biological samples, equipment requiring repair, and other unnecessary gear.
The robotic removal of a pair of payloads stowed inside the Dragon spacecraft's unpressurized trunk is also on tap during the vehicle's visit. A laser communications terminal developed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory will be mounted to a payload platform on the space station's main truss, and a package of four commercial high-definition video cameras will begin filming from an attach point on the European Columbus module.
Dragon's departure from the space station is tentatively set for April 17, with splashdown several hours later in the Pacific Ocean southwest of Southern California.
Officials delayed the flight from a previous target launch date of Feb. 22, and poor weather prevented the Falcon 9 rocket's first stage from being delivered to Florida in time to be ready for a launch attempt in early March, according to a senior NASA space station official.
The Falcon 9's first and second stages, along with the Dragon spacecraft, are now at Cape Canaveral for launch processing, a SpaceX spokesperson said.
NASA expects a busy traffic pattern around the space station over the next few weeks, with the departure of an Orbital Sciences Corp. Cygnus resupply craft Feb. 18 after more than five weeks attached to the complex.
The Cygnus spacecraft will fall to Earth and dispose of trash and excess equipment with a destructive re-entry over the Pacific Ocean.
Cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy, joined by NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins, will leave the space station March 11 and return to a parachute-assisted landing in Kazakhstan, wrapping up 168 days in space.
Next on the manifest is the SpaceX cargo mission, followed by the March 25 launch and docking of three fresh crew members - Steve Swanson, Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev.
Later in the spring, a Russian Progress cargo freighter will blast off to the space station April 9, another Orbital Sciences Cygnus spacecraft will deliver goods in early May, and another crew rotation is set for later in May.
Space station schedulers like to book time between the comings and goings of visiting vehicles to reduce the workload on the flight crew and ground teams.
Update: 26.02.2014
OPALS experiment for SpaceX 3
July 11, 2013 -- The Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science, or OPALS, experiment has been unpacked in a test cell at a Space Station Processing Facility offline laboratory at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The experiment is slated to fly aboard a SpaceX Dragon commercial resupply mission to the space station. The mission is expected to run 90 days after installation on the outside of the station.
Prepping the OPALS SpaceX 3 Payload
July 11, 2013 - At NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, technicians uncover and check the Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science, or OPALS, experiment in a test cell at a Space Station Processing Facility offline laboratory. The optical technology demonstration experiment arrived from the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. NASA will use the International Space Station to test OPALS’ technology, which could dramatically improve spacecraft communications, enhance commercial missions and strengthen transmission of scientific data.
An optical communications technology demonstration experiment developed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., is paving the way to significantly improve the agency’s data rates for communication with future spacecraft by a factor of 10 to 100 over current technologies. 
The nearly 600-pound Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science (OPALS) was sent from JPL on a mounting plate approximately 4 feet by 4.5 feet to Kennedy Space Center, Florida. It arrived at the Space Station Processing Facility on July 11. The experiment will be prepared for delivery to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard a SpaceX Dragon commercial resupply capsule on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket early next year.
OPALS will be mounted on the exterior of the space station and communicate with a ground station near Wrightwood, Calif., 77 miles from Los Angeles, during its 90-day mission.
“It’s like aiming a laser pointer continuously for two minutes at a dot the diameter of a human hair from 30 feet away while you’re walking,” explained Bogdan Oaida, OPALS systems engineer at JPL.
As OPALS went through its development cycle its uniqueness kept increasing. Among many firsts, Oaida said OPALS will be the first U.S. laser communication terminal on the station and will be one of the first NASA payloads to fly in the unpressurized section of the Dragon capsule.
“OPALS will lay down one of the first building blocks towards making laser communication the method of choice for future downlink of large amounts of data, whether it is from a satellite orbiting the Earth to its ground station, or from a Mars relay satellite back to Earth,” Oaida said.   
Jennifer Wahlberg is the Ground Processing Directorate’s ISS integration lead for utilization payloads like the OPALS experiment at Kennedy.
“The OPALS experiment is an external payload that will be attached to the ISS via the Expedite the Processing of Experiments to Space Station (EXPRESS) Logistics Carrier,” Wahlberg said.
A team of about a dozen NASA and Test Operations Support Contract workers at the SSPF is involved in all phases of OPALS processing, including engineering, logistics, quality and safety support.
During processing, OPALS will be connected to a checkout system called the Payload Rack Checkout Unit (PRCU) and ELC simulator that mimics the interfaces that the payload will be connected to on the station.
“While connected to the PRCU/ELC simulator, the fully assembled OPALS payload will complete an end-to-end interface verification test that includes checks of power quality, commanding and telemetry,” said Robert Kuczajda, an ISS payloads project manager.
His role includes assuring that all Kennedy resources are ready to support OPALS payload processing activities.
“It’s exciting to be involved in the processing of technology demonstration payloads such as OPALS, which make great use of the science capability that only the space station can provide,” Kuczajda said. “We will continue to process many more ISS external payloads in the years ahead.”
Oaida said the benefit to the station will be tremendous, as OPALS is one of the first instruments in a long line of payloads currently in the works to utilize the plentiful resources the orbiting laboratory and platform has to offer.
Quelle: NASA
Update: 1.03.2014

Launch Updates

  • SpaceX-3 to Deliver Nearly 5,000 Pounds of Cargo to ISS

    SpaceX is preparing for the third commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station. During the SpaceX-3 mission, the Dragon capsule will deliver 4,969 pounds of cargo to the orbiting laboratory and return 3,578 pounds to Earth.

    Dragon is launching aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Liftoff currently is targeted for an instantaneous launch window at 4:41 a.m. EDT on March 16. One additional opportunity is available March 17 at 4:19 a.m.

    Quelle: NASA

    Update: 3.03.2014


    An Unusual First Stage Photo

    paceX CEO Elon Musk released this photo yesterday of the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket that will launch the SpaceX-3 mission to the International Space Station. The unusual feature is the landing legs on the side of the rocket. According to Musk, they are 60 feet in diameter. He said the booster will still land in the ocean, but will attempt what’s known as a soft landing instead of simply plummeting as such stages have done until now. The exception is the space shuttle’s solid rocket boosters which parachuted into the water and were recovered for reuse. Musk has said before that his goal is to bring the spent first stage back to land on land so the booster and its 9 engines can be used again. Musk ended his posts saying the company needs to prove precision control of the stage throughout the deceleration from hypersonic to subsonic speeds.
    Quelle: NASA


    Update: 4.03.2014


    Start von zweihundert 437MHz Satelliten

    Launch of two hundred 437MHz satellites

    The largest ever launch of 437 MHz satellites is planned for March 16 at 0841 UT when 200Sprite satellites will be launched on the SpaceX Falcon 9 CRS 3 mission 

    They will be deployed into a 325×315 km 51.5 degree inclination orbit. 

    A Sprite is a tiny, 3.5 by 3.5 cm, single-board spacecraft that was developed by Zac Manchester KD2BHC. It has a microcontroller, radio, and solar cells and is capable of carrying single-chip sensors, such as thermometers, magnetometers, gyroscopes, and accelerometers.

    The 200 Sprites are carried in a 3U CubeSat called KickSat. They are stacked atop a spring-loaded pusher and secured by a nichrome burn wire system.

    On reaching orbit KickSat will perform a de-tumble maneuver and establish communication with Cornell University’s ground station. After check-out, the spacecraft will be put in a sun-pointing attitude and spun up to maintain that attitude.

    A command signal from the ground station will then trigger the deployment and the Sprites will be released as free-flying spacecraft. After deployment, telemetry and sensor measurements from the individual Sprites will be received through Cornell’s ground station in Ithaca, NY, as well as several other amateur ground stations around the world.

    Due to the low orbit Sprites will have a short lifetime before they re-enter the atmosphere and burn up. In the best-case scenario the orbital lifetime could be six weeks but realistically it may be considerably shorter depending on atmospheric conditions.

    All Sprites operate on a single frequency of 437.240 MHz and use Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA). The transmitter runs 10 mW output of Minimum Shift Keying (MSK) modulated binary data with each data bit modulated as a 511 bit Pseudo-Random Number (PRN) sequence. The ITU emission designator is 50K0G1D.

    The KickSat CubeSat has downlinks on 437.505 MHz and 2401-2436.2 MHz.

    Quelle: Southgate 

  • Update: 9.03.2014

    Falcon 9 v1.1 conducts Static Fire ahead of CRS-3 mission

    SpaceX have fired up their Falcon 9 v1.1 launch vehicle during a Static Fire (Hot Fire) test on Saturday, allowing for a health check and countdown dress rehearsal ahead of their next flight of their Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS). The CRS-3/SpX-3 Dragon is tracking a launch – her first on the upgraded Falcon 9 – on March 16 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS).


    The latest Falcon 9 launch will be the fourth in her upgraded configuration, following three successful satellite launches – one from Vandenberg and two from SLC-40 at the Cape.

    However, unlike her predecessors, this Falcon 9 is sporting four landing legs on her aft, allowing for the latest test objective towards SpaceX’s ultimate goal of a fully reusable rocket system.

    Although a number of tests have already been conducted – mainly involving a restart of the First Stage post-staging, allowing it to practise a controlled re-entry – this will be the first mission where a soft splashdown on deployed legs will be attempted, as recently explained by SpaceX to

    Following staging, the First Stage will bid farewell to the Second Stage and Dragon, prior to rotating its aft and engines into the direction of travel. Once in the correct orientation, three of Falcon 9′s Merlin 1D engines will conduct a supersonic retro propulsion burn.

    Once the First Stage has shut down the three engines, a stable re-entry should then occur. As the Stage begins to drop back to Earth, the center engine will ignite to stabilize the Stage and reduce its velocity.

    About 10 seconds into the landing burn, SpaceX will attempt the unique demonstration of deploying the four legs, as the Stage closes in on the water.

    Recovery of the first stage from the water will be attempted, although SpaceX noted there is a low probability this will be successfully achieved during this test.

    The primary goal of the launch relates lofting the Dragon spacecraft en route to the ISS for her fourth mission to the Station. The spacecraft which will be riding uphill on the beefed up rocket for the first time.

    The SpX-3 flight will carry a full launch and return complement of 1,580kg/3,476lb of payload, an increase from the previous limit of 800kg, afforded by the increased upmass capabilities of the Falcon 9 v1.1.

    For launch, Dragon will carry a record of one GLACIER and two MERLIN freezers for transporting ISS experiment samples.

    The external payload in Dragon’s trunk includes the Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science (OPALS) – which will demonstrate high-bandwidth space to ground laser communications, and the High Definition Earth Viewing (HDEV) package consisting of four commercial HD video cameras.

    The CRS-3 mission will also involve the delivery of a replacement Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU), allowing for the return of a faulty suit on the same vehicle when it returns to Earth. This spacesuit relay is enabled by a specially built rack inside the Dragon.

    Static Fire:

    Per the primary goals of a Hot Fire test, the effort relates to ensuring that the pad’s fueling systems – and the launch vehicle – function properly in a fully operational environment, with numerous requirements to be successfully proven via such a test, such as the engine ignition and shut down commands, which have to operate as designed, and that the Merlin 1D engines perform properly during start-up.

    Tasks also include a full propellant loading sequence, launch countdown operations, engine ignition operations and testing of the pad’s high volume water deluge system.

    The first opportunity for the Static Fire was scheduled for Friday. However, unacceptable weather in the region delayed the rollout, pushing the test to Saturday. The window for the test was 1pm local through to 5pm local, although it is understood engineers were working issues on the vehicle for at least the first few hours of the window.

    With the test providing a dress rehearsal for the actual launch, controllers would have begun the test with polling to allow for the loading of Falcon 9′s RP-1 propellant with liquid oxygen oxidizer two hours and thirty five minutes before T-0.

    This would have likely been followed with fuel and Thrust Vector Control (TVC) bleeding on the second stage, performed at T-1 hour.

    At T-13 minutes, a final flight readiness poll would have been conducted, which would then be followed by the final hold point at T-11 minutes.

    Per the countdown procedures, the tasks would have entered the terminal count ten minutes before ignition, followed by the launch vehicle being transferred to internal power at four minutes and forty six seconds before T-0.

    The Flight Termination System (FTS), used to destroy the rocket in the event of a problem during an actual launch, would have been armed three minutes and eleven seconds before launch, and seven seconds later oxidizer topping ended.

    Pressurization of the propellant tanks would have followed, and while a Wet Dress Rehearsal (WDR) – which are no longer required for the Falcon 9 – would have concluded the test at around T-5 seconds, the Static Fire test continued the count through to ignition.

    A short burst of the Merlin ID engines on the core stage of the F9 would have then followed, allowing for validation data to be gained on the health of the vehicle and pad systems.

    SpaceX PAO confirmed to that the Static Fire was classed as successful.

    Detanking operations would then have followed, ahead of its lowering on to the Transporter Erector and rollback to the hanger to begin final processing ahead of launch, which will include the mating of the Dragon spacecraft to the top of the vehicle.

    The Flight Readiness Reviews (FRRs) for the launch vehicle and the spacecraft were concluded last week. A Launch Readiness Review (LRR) – which will include the full results of the Static Fire – will follow in the coming days.

    SpaceX remain on track for the March 16 launch of the Falcon 9 and Dragon duo, with the launch window set to open at 4:41am Local.

    (Images: SpaceX, Spaceport America and L2)

    (Click here: – to view how you can access the best space flight content on the entire internet and directly support’s running costs)

Quelle: NS 
Update: 11.03.2014
Biotube Experiment for SpaceX-3
March 7, 2014 -- In the Space Station Processing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, QinetiQ North America Project Manager Carole Miller, left, works with Allison Caron, a QinetiQ mechanical engineer in preparing the Biotube experiment which will be launched to the International Space Station aboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft.
SpaceX-3 BRIC Experiment
March 7, 2014 -- Terry Tullis, a QinetiQ North America mechanical engineer, prepares the Biological Research In Canisters, or BRIC, 18-1 and 18-2 experiments which will be launched to the International Space Station aboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft. The work is taking place in the Space Station Processing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
APEX Experiment for SpaceX-3
 March 7, 2014 -- The Advanced Plant Experiment, or APEX, experiment as it is being prepared by John Carver, a project manager with Jacobs Technology. After preparations are complete in the Space Station Processing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the experiment will be loaded aboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft for launch to the International Space Station.
SpaceX-3 to Deliver Nearly 5,000 Pounds of Cargo to ISS
SpaceX is preparing for the third commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station. During the SpaceX-3 mission, the Dragon capsule will deliver 4,969 pounds of cargo to the orbiting laboratory and return 3,578 pounds to Earth.
Dragon is launching aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Liftoff currently is targeted for an instantaneous launch window at 4:41 a.m. EDT on March 16. One additional opportunity is available March 17 at 4:19 a.m.
Quelle: NASA
Update: 12.03.2014
SpaceX Unveils Gorgeous Rocket Legs for Space Station Launch on March 16

The Falcon 9 rocket with landing legs in SpaceX’s hangar at Cape Canaveral, Fl, preparing to launch Dragon to the space station this Sunday, March 16, at 4:41 a.m. EDT. Credit: SpaceX
SpaceX is nearly ready to Rock ‘n’ Roll with their first rocket sporting landing legs and slated to blast off this coming weekend carrying a commercial Dragon cargo freighter bound for the International Space Station (ISS).
Check out the Falcon 9 rockets gorgeous legs unveiled today by SpaceX in an eye popping new photo featured above.
The newly released image shows the private Falcon 9 positioned horizontally inside the Cape Canaveral processing hanger and looking up directly from the bottom of her legs and nine powerful first stage engines.
Following a brief static hotfire test this past weekend of all nine upgraded Merlin 1D engines powering the first stage of SpaceX’s next generation Falcon 9 rocket, the path is clear for Sunday’s (March 16) night time lift off at 4:41 a.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
This week, engineers working inside the hanger are loading the Dragon vessel with the final cargo items bound for the station that are time sensitive.
Engineers pack Dragon with cargo, including support for more than 150 science investigations on the ISS. Credit: SpaceX
Altogether, this unmanned SpaceX CRS-3 mission will deliver over 5000 pounds of science experiments and essential gear, spare parts, crew provisions, food, clothing and supplies to the six person crews living and working aboard the ISS soaring in low Earth orbit under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract.
Dragon is carrying research cargo and equipment for over 150 science investigations, including 100 protein crystal experiments that will allow scientists to observe the growth of crystals in zero-G.
Conducted in the absence of gravity, these space experiments will help Earth bound researchers to potentially learn how to grow crystals of much larger sizes compared to here on Earth and afford scientists new insights into designing and developing new drugs and pesticides.
A batch of new student science experiments are also packed aboard and others will be returned at the end of the mission.
The attachment of landing legs to the first stage of SpaceX’s next-generation Falcon 9 rocket counts as a major first step towards the firm’s future goal of building a fully reusable rocket.
For this Falcon 9 flight, the rocket will sprout legs for a controlled soft landing in the Atlantic Ocean guided by SpaceX engineers.
“F9 will continue to land in the ocean until we prove precision control from hypersonic thru subsonic regimes,” says SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk.
It will be left to a future mission to accomplish a successful first stage touchdown by the landing legs on solid ground back at Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Much development works remains before a land landing will be attempted.
The Falcon will roll out from the hanger to Launch Pad 40 on Saturday, March 15.
SpaceX is under contract to NASA to deliver 20,000 kg (44,000 pounds) of cargo to the ISS during a dozen Dragon cargo spacecraft flights over the next few years at a cost of about $1.6 Billion.
To date SpaceX has completed two operational cargo resupply missions and a test flight to the station. The last flight dubbed CRS-2 blasted off a year ago on March 1, 2013 atop the initial version of the Falcon 9 rocket.
Following the scheduled March 16 launch and a series of orbit raising and course corrections over the next two days, Dragon will rendezvous and dock at the Earth facing port on the station’s Harmony module on March 18.
The Harmony port was recently vacated by the Orbital Sciences built Cygnus cargo spacecraft to make way for Dragon.
This extra powerful new version of the Falcon 9 dubbed v1.1 is powered by a cluster of nine of SpaceX’s new Merlin 1D engines that are about 50% more powerful compared to the standard Merlin 1C engines. The nine Merlin 1D engines 1.3 million pounds of thrust at sea level rises to 1.5 million pounds as the rocket climbs to orbit.
Therefore the upgraded Falcon 9 can boost a much heavier cargo load to the ISS, low Earth orbit, geostationary orbit and beyond.
Indeed Dragon is loaded with about double the cargo weight carried previously.
The Merlin 1D engines are arrayed in an octaweb layout for improved efficiency.
Quelle: UT
Update: 13.03.2014

Pew! Pew! Pew! Space Station Laser to Beam HD Video to Earth

The slow process of capturing science data is about to go into serious overdrive with a NASA laser communication experiment set to launch to the International Space Station.
The Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science (OPALS) — which will be sent up to the space station aboard SpaceX's cargo-carrying Dragon capsule Sunday (March 16) — will test a substantial upgrade to the data streaming process by sending information via laser beam rather than radio wave.
"Optical communications has the potential to be a game-changer," mission manager Matt Abrahamson said in a statement.
Information sent by optical communications, also known as lasercomm, will reach scientists faster than data sent by conventional radio transmission. This is an important step as improving scientific instruments generate measurements in greater detail, but taking up significantly larger memory sizes.
Successful tests of the technology, like OPALS, will help pave the way toward operational optical communications in NASA's planetary and deep space missions, enhancing connections to engineers and scientists as well as to the public.
"Our ability to generate data has greatly outpaced our ability to downlink it," OPALS project systems engineer Bogdan Oaida said.
OPALS could help to change that problem.
The rapid pace of technology means that the scientific instruments utilized on space missions gather larger chunks of data than their predecessors. But the increasingly high-quality information continues to be bottle-necked by the radio frequency transmissions that convey it to Earth.
Many of the existing deep space missions send back 200 to 400 kilobits of information per second. OPALS will send information by laser beam rather than radio wave, demonstrating a speed of up to 50 megabits per second. Future deep space optical communication systems should reach up to one gigabit per second.
"Imagine trying to download a movie at homeover dial-up," Oaida said. "It's essentially the same problem in space, whether we're talking about low-Earth orbit or deep space." 
Upgrading from radio to optical communications will be "like upgrading from dial-up to DSL," Oaida added.
After its launch Sunday, OPALS will be positioned by robotic arm on the station's exterior. Over a period of almost three months, a telescope on the ground will track the instrument and conduct a number of transmission tests.
When a laser from the ground-based telescope hits the uplink beacon on OPALS, the instrument will downlink a modulated laser beam with a formatted video. The tests will study the pointing, accuracy, and tracking of the very tightly focused laser beam. Scientists will also study the characteristics of optical links through the planet's atmosphere, as well as training and educating NASA personnel in the operation of optical communication systems.
The communications system relies primarily on commercial off-the-shelf hardware enclosed in a pressurized container, an approach that allowed for a lower-cost development on an efficient schedule. Scientists beamed images of the Mona Lisa by laser to NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2013, making it the first optically transmitted data sent over planetary distances.
The technology was conceived, constructed, and tested at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., by engineers working through the lab's Phaeton early-career-hire program.
Quelle: SC
Quelle: NASA
Quelle: SpaceX
Update: 14.03.2014
SpaceX Start von Cape Canaveral verzögert sich!
SpaceX’s planned Sunday morning launch of cargo to the International Space Station has been delayed at least two weeks, to no earlier than March 30, the company announced this afternoon.SpaceX said the extra time would “ensure the highest possible level of mission assurance and allow additional time to resolve remaining open items.”

No specific systems were cited as needing additional work, but both a Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule packed with more than 4,000 pounds of ISS cargo were said to be “in good health.”

“Given the critical payloads on board and significant upgrades to Dragon, the additional time will ensure SpaceX does everything possible on the ground to prepare for a successful launch,” said spokeswoman Emily Shanklin. April 2 would be the backup launch date for the company’s third of 12 ISS resupply missions under a $1.6 billion NASA contract.

SpaceX said the new dates were the earliest available launch opportunities on the Air Force’s Eastern Range, and are not yet approved.

With the slip, a United Launch Alliance Atlas V becomes the next vehicle in line to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, on March 25 with a National Reconnaissance Office satellite.
Quelle: Florida Today
SpaceX Now Targeting March 30 for Launch
Shortly before 5 p.m. EDT, SpaceX made the following announcement: To ensure the highest possible level of mission assurance and allow additional time to resolve remaining open items, SpaceX is now targeting March 30th for the CRS-3 launch, with April 2nd as a back-up. These represent the earliest available launch opportunities given existing schedules, and are currently pending approval with the Range. Both Falcon 9 and Dragon are in good health; given the critical payloads on board and significant upgrades to Dragon, the additional time will ensure SpaceX does everything possible on the ground to prepare for a successful launch.
Quelle: NASA
Update: 19.03.2014

NASA Assessing SpaceX 'Payload Contamination

The third SpaceX commercial cargo mission to the International Space Station has been delayed until no earlier than March 30 because of payload contamination that may require some new parts to be installed.
Originally set for March 16, the Falcon 9 launch was delayed on March 14 to “ensure the highest possible level of mission assurance and allow additional time to resolve remaining open items,” according to a NASA update that quoted SpaceX and referred additional questions to the Hawthorne, Calif., commercial-cargo launch service provider.
Sam Scimemi, the ISS director in the Human Exploration and Operations mission directorate at NASA headquarters, elaborated later that day during a panel discussion on the ISS sponsored by the Space Transportation Association.
“We’ve had some issues with payload contamination that we will be addressing,” he said. “We’re going to have to assess that and replace some parts and get the rocket ready for launch again. Our current launch date right now I believe is March 30.”
SpaceX and NASA did not answer questions about the exact source and nature of the contamination on March 17, or about what payloads may be contaminated. A NASA ISS status blog posted on March 13 said the launch would be delayed because of unspecified “contamination found on the beta cloth shields in the SpaceX-3 unpressurized external trunk,” and noted that “[s]pecialists are reviewing options for addressing the contamination on the beta cloth shields.”
Beta cloth is a special fabric typically used in multi-layer insulation for thermal protection in space and to shield orbiting spacecraft against the corrosive effects of atomic oxygen. One of the payloads in the SpaceX Dragon’s unpressurized “trunk” is the Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science (Opals), a communications testbed developed and built at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory that is designed to study high-data-rate communications between space and the ground using laser light.
The experiment is mounted on a standard ISS flight releasable attachment mechanism (FRAM), and includes a laser, off-the-shelf avionics and a custom power board in a container pressurized with air at 1 atmosphere. Mounted on the Fram outside the protective container is a gimbaled optical device that includes an uplink camera and a laser collimator to narrow the laser beam on the downlink. Both would be susceptible to contamination.
Also in the unpressurized trunk, and susceptible to contamination, are four off-the-shelf, high-definition cameras that will be mounted outside the station as the High Definition Earth Viewing (HDEV) experiment. HDEV is protected against space temperatures but not the radiation that affects its cameras’ detectors, which will allow engineers to determine which commercial cameras work best in space for live online video streaming.
Quelle: Aviation Week
Update: 22.03.2014.
SpaceX Launch to the International Space Station Reset for March 30

SpaceX has confirmed it will target its next cargo mission launch to the International Space Station from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, for 10:50 p.m. EDT, Sunday, March 30.

NASA Television launch coverage begins at 9:45 p.m. for the company's third contracted resupply mission to the orbital laboratory. A post-launch news conference will follow at approximately 90 minutes after liftoff. If for any reason the launch is postponed, the next launch opportunity is 9:39 p.m. Wednesday, April 2, with NASA TV coverage beginning at 8:30 p.m.

NASA TV also will air a prelaunch news conference at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 29 at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. A 2 p.m. briefing on the science and technology cargo being delivered to the space station by SpaceX will follow.

A March 30 launch would result in SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft arriving at the station on Wednesday, April 2 at approximately 7 a.m. NASA TV coverage of rendezvous and berthing will begin at 5:45 a.m. for a 7 a.m. capture. Coverage of Dragon's installation will begin at 9:30 a.m.

Quelle: NASA


Update: 31.03.2014


USAF radar issue delays SpaceX launch
An issue with a U.S. Air Force tracking radar that has already delayed a spy satellite launch has now forced the postponement of SpaceX's planned Sunday cargo launch to the International Space Station.
SpaceX made the announcement early this afternoon: "Due to a Range asset issue at Cape Canaveral, SpaceX's upcoming ISS launch will be delayed. Check back for updates on a new target date."
USAF Eastern Range officials have remained mum on specifics about Monday's incident. Spaceflight Now's Stephen Clark reports that a fire knocked out a crucial installation near Cape Canaveral, and repairs are taking a while.
The first mission to be affected was the launch of a classified National Reconnaissance Office payload aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. That launch had been scheduled for Tuesday and was postponed twice before the Atlas V was rolled back to its assembly hangar Thursday.
It's not simply a matter of flying as soon as the radar is fixed, either: The Dragon cargo ship's visit has to be fitted in among all the other departures and arrivals at the station. A Russian Progress cargo ship is scheduled to launch and arrive at ISS on April 9, so the Dragon launch could get pushed to mid-April. (A Soyuz carrying three new crew members is set to dock at the station just before 7 p.m. CDT Thursday.)
The Dragon flight had previously been set to take off March 16. The reason then given for that delay was contamination in the Dragon's unpressurized "trunk" that was later determined not to threaten the cargo.
SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell gave more details in a recent interview, telling "The Space Show's" David Livingston that the delay also let SpaceX address data issues with ISS mission control in Houston and trajectory issues with the Eastern Range, as well as preparations for attempting a first-ever recovery of the Falcon 9's first stage.
Quelle: Waco Tribune


Update: 5.04.2014


ULA, SpaceX reschedule launches after radar outage

After a two-week delay to wait for the U.S. Air Force to restore a critical radar tracker, United Launch Alliance and SpaceX have rescheduled their next rocket missions from Cape Canaveral for April 10 and April 14.

Officials put the launches on hold after a component on a rocket tracking radar short-circuited March 24, causing it to overheat and knock the radar offline.

Without the radar, the Air Force's Eastern Range was unable to support launch attempts for the ULA Atlas 5 and SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets then set for March 25 and March 30.

The Eastern Range is a network of communications stations, tracking radars and safety assets along Florida's East Coast and stretching into the Atlantic Ocean under the ground tracks of rockets as they fly into orbit.

The range's job is to keep the public and property safe from launching rockets in case the vehicles fly off course.

The radar responsible for the delays is owned by the Air Force but lies on the property of NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

First up on April 10 is the Atlas 5 launch of a top secret payload for the National Reconnaissance Office, the U.S. government agency which owns and operates imaging and eavesdropping spy satellites.

Liftoff from Cape Canaveral's Complex 41 launch pad is set for a launch window opening at 1:45 p.m. EDT (1745 GMT) and extending 41 minutes.

The April 10 launch will come one week after an Atlas 5 launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California with the military's DMSP F19 weather satellite.

A Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled for liftoff April 14 from the nearby Complex 40 pad with a Dragon cargo spacecraft heading to the International Space Station.

The automated spaceship will deliver 2.4 tons of equipment to the space station under contract to NASA.

Launch on April 14 is set for 4:58 p.m. EDT (2058 GMT), and the Dragon spacecraft will arrive at the space station April 16.

A spokesperson with the Air Force's 45th Space Wing on Friday said the Eastern Range is expected to be ready to support both launches. He did not say whether the Air Force had repaired the damaged radar or activated a backup system to restore the lost tracking capability.


NASA Coverage Set for SpaceX Mission to Space Station

The next SpaceX cargo mission to the International Space Station under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services contract is scheduled to launch Monday, April 14, from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The company's Falcon 9 rocket, carrying its Dragon cargo spacecraft, will lift off at approximately 4:58 p.m. EDT. NASA Television coverage of the launch begins at 3:45 p.m. If for any reason the launch is postponed, the next launch opportunity is Friday, April 18 at approximately 3:25 p.m.

The mission, designated SpaceX-3, is the third of 12 SpaceX flights contracted by NASA to resupply the space station. It will be the fourth trip by a Dragon spacecraft to the orbiting laboratory.

The spacecraft will be filled with almost 5,000 pounds of scientific experiments and supplies. The Dragon will remain attached to the space station's Harmony module until mid-May and splash down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California with more than 3,000 pounds of experiment samples and equipment returning from the station.

NASA will host a prelaunch news conference at 1 p.m., Sunday, April 13, at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, followed by a SpaceX science and technology cargo news conference at 2 p.m. Both briefings, which are subject to a change in time, will be carried live on NASA TV and the agency's website. A post-launch briefing will be held approximately 90 minutes after launch.

If launch occurs April 14, NASA TV will provide live coverage Wednesday, April 16, of the arrival of the Dragon cargo ship to the International Space Station. Grapple and berthing coverage will begin at 5:45 a.m. with grapple at approximately 7 a.m. Berthing coverage begins at 9:30 a.m.

Quelle: NASA


Update: 10.04.2014 


Veggie Will Expand Fresh Food Production on Space Station


Outredgeous red romaine lettuce plants grow inside in a prototype Veggie flight pillow. The bellows of the hardware have been lowered to better observe the plants. A small temperature and relative humidity data logger is placed between the pillows small white box, centra


A plant growth chamber bound for the International Space Station inside the Dragon capsule on the SpaceX-3 resupply mission may help expand in-orbit food production capabilities in more ways than one, and offer astronauts something they don’t take for granted, fresh food.

NASA’s Veg-01 experiment will be used to study the in-orbit function and performance of a new expandable plant growth facility called Veggie and its plant “pillows.” The investigation will focus on the growth and development of “Outredgeous” lettuce seedlings in the spaceflight environment.
“Veggie will provide a new resource for U.S. astronauts and researchers as we begin to develop the capabilities of growing fresh produce and other large plants on the space station,” said Gioia Massa, NASA payload scientist for Veggie. “Determining food safety is one of our primary goals for this validation test.”
Veggie is a low-cost plant growth chamber that uses a flat-panel light bank that includes red, blue and green LEDs for plant growth and crew observation. Veggie’s unique design is collapsible for transport and storage and expandable up to a foot and a half as plants grow inside it.
“The internal growing area is 11.5 inches wide by 14.5 inches deep, making it the largest plant growth chamber for space to date,” Massa said.
Orbital Sciences Corp. (ORBITEC) in Madison, Wis., developed Veggie through a Small Business Innovative Research Program. NASA and ORBITEC engineers and collaborators at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida worked to get the unit’s hardware flight-certified for use on the space station.
Because real estate on the station is limited, some adjustments to the growth chamber were made to accommodate space requirements. At Kennedy’s Space Life Sciences Laboratory, a crop of lettuce and radishes was grown in the prototype test unit. Seedlings were placed in the Veggie root-mat pillows, and their growth was monitored for health, size, amount of water used, and the microorganisms that grew on them.
“I am thrilled to be a member of the Veggie and Veg-01 team and proud of all the work we have done to prepare for flight,” Massa said. “Our team is very excited to see the hardware in use on the space station.”
As NASA moves toward long-duration exploration missions, Massa hopes that Veggie will be a resource for crew food growth and consumption. It also could be used by astronauts for recreational gardening activities during long-duration space missions. The system may have implications for improving growth and biomass production on Earth, thus benefiting the average citizen.
For the future, Massa said she is looking forward to seeing all sorts of “neat payloads” in the Veggie unit and expanding its capability as NASA learns more about the food safety of crops grown in microgravity.
A 28-day-old Outredgeous red romaine lettuce plant grows in a prototype v flight pillow. U.S. astronauts living and working aboard the International Space Station are going to receive a newly developed Vegetable Production System Veggie.
Outredgeous red romaine lettuce plants grow inside the bellows of a prototype Veggie flight pillow. It will launch aboard SpaceX's Dragon capsule on NASA's third Commercial Resupply Services mission targeted to launch April 14 from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Quelle: NASA
Update: 12.04.2014

SpaceX "go" for Monday launch to ISS

A review today concluded with managers giving a "go" for SpaceX to proceed with a 4:58 p.m. Monday launch of cargo to the International Space Station.

The weather forecast at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station looks pretty good.

There's a 70 percent chance of conditions that would allow a Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule to blast off from Launch Complex 40, according to Air Force meteorologists.

However, after a nice weekend, an approaching cold front on Monday increases the potential for thick clouds, thunderstorms or electrified anvil clouds near the launch site.

If there's no launch Monday, the next possible attempt would be four days later (Friday, April 18). Forecasted conditions then drop to a 40 percent chance of favorable launch weather.

SpaceX is launching its third ISS resupply mission under a $1.6 billion NASA contract.

Kennedy Space Center will host prelaunch media briefings on Sunday starting at 9 a.m. You can watch them live on NASA TV.


Quelle: Florida Today

Update: 16.00 MESZ
ISS MDM-Ausfall-Problem könnte SpaceX Start verzögern

The often-delayed launch of SpaceX Dragon cargo ship to the International Space Station, set for Monday afternoon, may be delayed yet again after a problem crept up with a computer module on the station.

The Multiplexer-Demultiplexer, or MDM, stopped responding to commands, NASA said in a statement Friday evening. The unit, mounted outside the ISS, backs up the main MDM in robotic-arm operations — such as the one that will be needed to attach the Dragon to the station upon its scheduled arrival Wednesday. From the statement:

The primary MDM operating aboard the space station is functioning normally and there is no immediate impact to space station operations. The computer outage does not pose a risk to the six crew members aboard the space station. ISS teams are assessing next steps to attempt to bring the computer back online or replace it. Replacing the backup MDM, if needed, would require a spacewalk. ... NASA is continuing to work toward a Monday launch of the SpaceX cargo resupply mission pending further evaluations by the ISS Program.

The Dragon was set to launch from Cape Canaveral, Fla., March 16 atop a Falcon 9 rocket when an alert was raised about possible contaminants in the Dragon's unpressurized exterior cargo space — its so-called "trunk." With that issue cleared, Dragon was go for a March 30 launch, but that was delayed by an electrical fire at a U.S. Air Force radar station needed to track the rocket, leading to the current April 14 date.

The current USAF forecast gives a 70 percent chance that weather will be favorable for launch Monday.

Quelle: Waco Tribune


Backup Computer Glitches On Space Station But Crew Safe, NASA Says

A backup computer that controls “some systems associated with robotics” on the International Space Station is not “responding to commands”, NASA said in a late-night statement Eastern time Friday (April 11).

The crew is safe, there’s no “immediate” change to space station operations, and because the primary computer is working, there’s also no alteration to the SpaceX Dragon launch to the station on Monday – which requires the robotic Canadarm2 for berthing. NASA added, however, that there are “further evaluations” going on, meaning the date could change depending on what controllers figure out.

If the computer does need to be replaced, crew members of Expedition 39 will need to do at least one spacewalk, the agency added. NASA is allowing contingency spacewalks in American spacesuits to go forward as the agency addresses problems raised in a report about a life-threatening spacesuit leak in July.

Below the jump is the statement NASA put out tonight concerning the situation.



A computer "black box" in the International Space Station's solar power truss that provides redundancy for robotic arm operations stopped responding to commands Friday, NASA said in a statement. If the component cannot be coaxed back to normal operation, the planned Monday launch of a SpaceX Dragon supply sh

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