NASA has closed its space center in Mississippi and secured a critical piece of Moon-bound rocket hardware ahead of Hurricane Sally’s impact on the Gulf Coast this week. Stennis Space Center in South Mississippi is home to the B-2 Test Stand where NASA engineers have been busy testing the rocket core stage for Space Launch System.
Hurricane Sally is expected to make landfall as a Category 2 hurricane (96-110 mph wind speeds) Tuesday night before weakening to a tropical storm on Wednesday. The current trajectory shows Stennis Space Center directly in the storm’s path.
The first Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs) for the inaugural flight of SLS may be done and ready for Artemis I, but NASA contractor Northrup Grumman continues to try to make it better. Today, they successfully fired an upgraded version of their booster for use in missions beyond Artemis III, presumably for deep space missions like Europa Clipper.
On the outside, the Ariane 5 can easily be mistaken for any generic rocket but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Arianespace’s largest launcher falls into the heavy-lift category of rockets and it regularly flexes its might. And it does it in a unique way.
The sharp downturn of the stock market in recent months brought on by the coronavirus pandemic has brought a slew of new casual investors hoping to capitalize on the rebound. Thanks to apps like Robinhood with free commission trading, people from all different walks of life are trying to turn a negative into a positive. Those involved in spaceflight are no exception, whether they’re employed in the industry or just enthusiasts.
Over a year after the failed launch of the FalconEye 1 satellite for the United Arab Emirates, Arianespace is ready to return its Vega launch vehicle to operational status. The flight was originally planned for earlier this year but after multiple scrubs due to winds, Arianespace decided to postpone it until a period of more favorable seasonal weather conditions.
Update August 4: Arianespace has announced that they have set a NET date of August 14th to try again for launch.
Update August 2: The Ariane 5 launch vehicle is being returned to the assembly building to replace the troublesome sensor. A new launch date is expected to be announced on August 3rd, according to Arianespace.
Arianespace scrubbed its launch of the Ariane 5 today. The countdown was proceeding smoothly until just over two minutes when the “board” (a screen showing the different launch systems and weather and their status for launch) showed red for one of the launch systems. Teams paused the countdown and tried to resolve the trouble before the 40+ minute launch window closed but were unable to resolve the issue.
A statement later said that a sensor in the first stage liquid hydrogen tank was to blame. In that same statement, Arianespace said that the next launch opportunity would be at 5:30 EDT on Saturday, August 1st, however, at the time of writing, they have not said whether or not the issue had been resolved and they would be able to launch at the next window. This article will be updated as needed.
SpaceX’s Dragon capsule Endeavour successfully splashed down today off the coast of Pensacola, FL after a 64-day mission to the International Space Station. The return process began last night with the undocking at 7:35 pm EDT and subsequent departure burns. The crew — Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley — was then free to get a full night’s rest.
With great fanfare, NASA’s next Mars rover Perseverance began its journey to Mars this morning atop an Atlas V rocket from United Launch Alliance. The weather was clear as had been predicted for the last few days. In fact, conditions improved to 90% favorable shortly before launch.
NASA’s Pegasus barge is currently in the final stretch of its trip from Huntsville, Alabama, to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. On this particular trip, it’s carrying the Launch Vehicle Stage Adapter (LVSA) to be used on the maiden flight of the SLS launch vehicle. In a time when more attention than normal is given to waterborne vessels related to spaceflight, Pegasus shows that NASA has been doing it for a long time.