Watch live: Boeing tests crew capsule escape system – Spaceflight Now – Breaking U

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Watch live: Boeing tests crew capsule escape system – Spaceflight Now

Posted By: newsus November 4, 2019

EDITOR?S NOTE: The test occurred at 9:15am EST (1415 GMT). We?ll have an updated story shortly.

A Boeing Starliner crew capsule will fire off a stand early Monday at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico on a mile-high test flight to validate the spacecrafts emergency escape thrusters, a key milestone before human-rated Starliner ships fly astronauts to the International Space Station next year.

The capsule will not be flying any astronauts Monday when it launches off a pad at White Sands on a fast-paced test flight that will last just 95 seconds from liftoff until landing.

But a lot will happen during the flight, called a pad abort test, exercising the Starliner spacecraft?s abort engines, control thrusters, flight software, jettison mechanisms and parachutes.

Liftoff is set for the opening of a three-hour test window at 7 a.m. MST (9 a.m. EST; 1400 GMT) Monday from the same launch pad originally built for a pad abort test of NASA?s Orion crew capsule in 2010.

?I call this an ejection seat for a spacecraft, said Chris Ferguson, a Boeing test pilot, astronaut and director of Starliner crew and mission systems.

The pad abort test will demonstrate the Starliner can rapidly separate itself and gain distance from the launch vehicle should something go wrong, Ferguson said Oct. 22 in a panel discussion at the International Astronautical Congress in Washington.

During a crewed launch, emergency escape engines on the base of the Starliners service module would propel the spacecraft off the top of its United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket in the event of a failure on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral. The pad abort test set for Monday morning will prove the Starliners escape system is up to the challenge.

Well go from zero speed, zero altitude, and safely demonstrate about a 1-mile-high, about a 1-mile downrange capability to remove the vehicle and safely bring it down in what will be a desert environment for the White Sands test, but what would be just off the coast of Florida if we, in fact, did have a launch pad abort.

A lot of everything that weve been working on for the last eight years or so (is) all wrapped up in about a 90-second test, so itll be pretty exciting, Ferguson said.

Boeing is developing the Starliner spacecraft under a $4.2 billion contract with NASA. The space agency also awarded a $2.6 billion contract to SpaceX for development of the Crew Dragon spacecraft, giving NASA two new commercial crew capsules to fly astronauts to the space station, ending U.S. reliance on Russian Soyuz vehicles for the job.

Monday?s pad abort test at White Sands will go by quickly, with a few flashes and bangs before three parachutes open and airbags inflate to bring the capsule gently back to the ground.

?This is a full-up Starliner,? said Alicia Evans, Boeing?s pad abort test flight director, in a NASA podcast last week. ?It?s been built up specifically for this test. But because we were testing the integrated system, it has all of the systems required for the pad-abort test, and it?s full-up avionics capability, propulsion.?

On Monday morning, a command will trigger specially-designed valves to quickly open inside the Starliner?s service module, and a high-pressure mix of liquid hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide propellants will rush into four launch abort engines, or LAEs. The chemical propellants will automatically combust when mixed together, generating 40,000 pounds of thrust from each of the Aerojet Rocketdyne-made engines.

The engines, coupled with thrust from smaller orbital maneuvering and attitude control rockets, or OMACs, will push the 16.5-foot-tall (5-meter) Starliner vehicle off the ground. A Boeing spokesperson said the capsule will experience a sustained force of 5 Gs for five seconds while the launch abort engines are firing, the same force astronauts would be under during a real abort off the launch pad.

The Starliner capsule slated for Monday?s pad abort test is mounted on top of the same type of adapter that will connect the real spacecraft to the top of ULAs Atlas 5 rocket. When the craft ignites its four launch abort engines, vent doors on the adapter will open to prevent an over-pressure event.

?At the launch pad, you have the rocket standing next to its gantry,? Evans said. ?You have a launch vehicle adapter, which is structural hardware that adapts the launch vehicle to the Starliner. So that?s how we interface to it. Then you have the Starliner sitting on top of the rocket. And we have a service module as well as a crew module, which is the (combined) Starliner.

?During an abort, if there was to be an accident with the rocket and we needed to save the crew, what would happen is we have four large launch abort engines that fire in conjunction with several more smaller thrusters, called our orbital maneuvering and attitude control thrusters,? Evans said. ?And that combined collection of thrusters lifts the Starliner away from the rocket and outside of any debris or blast zone that might be created by a rocket.?

During Monday?s test, the abort engines will fire for 5.1 seconds, propelling the Starliner from zero to some 650 mph, a Boeing spokesperson said.

Then thrusters will pulse to flip the spacecraft around and fly tail first on an arc that will take the vehicle to a maximum altitude of approximately 4,426 feet (1,349 meters) above ground level around 18.6 seconds after takeoff.

Boeing?s Starliner pad abort test will last 95 seconds from launch through touchdown of the crew module. Credit: Boeing

The thrusters will stop firing 17 seconds after takeoff, and a series of pilot, drogue and three main parachutes will begin deploying at T+plus 20 seconds, according to Boeing.

The craft will jettison its service module at T+plus 34 seconds to fall to the ground. The crew module will then release its base heat shield, then inflate airbags to cushion the capsules landing at White Sands around 95 seconds after liftoff.

?This is a full demonstration of our landing sequence,? Evans said. ?We have done a lot of subsystem tests of our landing sequence to show which component works individually, and in addition to showing that our propulsion system works to save the crew away from the rocket, the second half of the abort test is that it lands on land the way it would during an actual return from flight.?

On an actual space mission, the Starliner?s service module will jettison from the crew module in space, then burn up during re-entry into the atmosphere. Engineers will get video tracking of the jettison system?s function during the pad abort test, along with observations of the heat shield separation events.

The service module on Monday?s test flight will crash to the ground. Residual propellant inside the service module, which contains all the engines used for the abort test, could cause it to ignite on impact, Boeing officials said.

?We?ll get to actually see our parachutes deploy and billow out, as the reefers allow it to billow and see the crew module starting to float down,? Evans said. ?As we get closer to the ground, we see the base heat shield separate, which exposes our airbags, and then, as we get closer to the ground, the airbags inflate.

?This?ll be the first time that?s demonstrated as on-flight hardware in the air,? she said. ?So I?m very excited to watch all of that take place and then land under parachutes, on airbags, on land, which is the first American vehicle to do that.?

SpaceX completed the pad abort test for its Crew Dragon spacecraft at Cape Canaveral in 2015, and plans an in-flight abort test later this year at the Kennedy Space Center to verity the capsules ability to fire off a Falcon 9 rocket after liftoff. Boeing plans to bypass such an in-flight abort demonstration.

NASA gave both companies the option to decide whether or not to conduct an in-flight abort test.

A Starliner test vehicle sits on launch pad at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico ahead of a pad abort test Monday, Nov. 4. The pad abort test will verify the spacecraft can safely carry astronauts away from a launch pad emergency. Credit: Boeing

?Boeing is not going to do an in-flight abort test,? said Jon Cowart, deputy manager of the mission management office for NASA?s commercial crew program. ?They?re just going to do the ground one. They think that they can get enough data and then extrapolate that out, with good analytical techniques that we?ve endorsed. They will go and do it in that particular way, versus SpaceX, which is going to do both.

?We knew about this up front, both Boeing and SpaceX, when they proposed their contracts to us and said, ?This is how we?re going to get to real flights,’? Cowart said last week in a NASA podcast. ?We understood exactly, and we bought into it. We think, and we agree with them, that we can get all they need from a pad-abort test.?

Kathy Lueders, who manages the commercial crew program at NASA, called the Boeing pad abort a huge test for us.

Obviously, its going to be important for us to understand how the separation works for the CM and SM (crew module and service module), checking out the chutes, making sure that the predictions are lined up right for us, Lueders said Wednesday during a presentation to the NASA Advisory Councils human exploration and operations committee.

Boeing is in the final stages of assembling and testing two space-ready Starliner vehicles inside a former space shuttle hangar at NASAs Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The first of the capsules is scheduled to launch as soon as Dec. 17 aboard an Atlas 5 rocket from pad 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for a week-long unpiloted test flight to the space station. That mission, called the Orbital Test Flight, will not have an active abort system, but Lueders said NASA wants to see how the Starliner performs on the abort test before going ahead with the OFT mission.

OFT does not have the abort system on it because its an uncrewed mission, but obviously the way the system separates and everything else will reflect on our OFT progress, so its critical for us to get this test going and that we understand it prior to us doing rollout of the spacecraft (for OFT), Lueders said Wednesday.

The Starliners Crew Flight Test to the space station will follow some time in the first half of 2020, with Ferguson joined by NASA astronauts Mike Fincke and Nicole Mann.

While final preparations for the pad abort test were underway this weekend in New Mexico, Boeing technicians at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida were readying the first space-ready Starliner spacecraft for fueling. Later this month, it will be installed on top of the Atlas 5 rocket at Cape Canaveral for final integrated checkouts and a full countdown rehearsal ahead of its scheduled liftoff in mid-December.

A Starliner test vehicle sits on launch pad at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico ahead of a pad abort test Monday, Nov. 4. The pad abort test will verify the spacecraft can safely carry astronauts away from a launch pad emergency. Credit: Boeing

The new Boeing and SpaceX crew capsules could be ready to fly astronauts in the first half of next year, according to NASA officials.

The commercial crew program is a new paradigm for NASA. Boeing and SpaceX are in charge, but because NASA is the only customer for the new spaceships so far, the government still has a big say in how the contractors run the program.

?They own the flight tests,? Cowart said. ?Even when they start flying up in the space station, they own the spaceship, they own the rocket. But these particular tests ? they own them, which means we will consult with them, but in the end, they are the ones who own the tests and the results.

?It?s part of their certification,? he said. ?They?ve got to bring the data from those tests to us before they can go fly our astronauts on-board. And we?ve got to say that, ?Yeah, you?ve got the right amount of data and that the data is good and that the vehicle will perform correctly.? But ? this is the thing that?s kind of different from the way NASA has done business in the past. We don?t own the rocket. We don?t own the spaceship ? It?s something more than consulting and something less than owning.?

Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

SpaceX – s Dragon Launch Not Smooth But Sailing, Discover Magazine

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SpaceX’s Dragon Launch Not Smooth But Sailing

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Image courtesy of NASA This morning’s launch of SpaceX’s third Dragon capsule has the twittersphere all a-flutter. Falcon 9’s blastoff from Cape Canaveral initially appeared to be a success. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=p4lOJjKGoIY Just after the Falcon 9 rocket launched around 10:10 AM EST, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk was tweeting its praises.

Falcon 9 delivered Dragon to its target orbit. All good on the rocket. — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 1, 2013

But about half an hour later, things started to get a little messy. “It appears that although it achieved Earth orbit, Dragon is experiencing some kind problem right now,” said John Insprucker, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 product manager on the Spaceflight Now live coverage at Mission Status Center. There was a glitch in the Dragon capsule’s thruster pods, according to an article in the Guardian, and three of the four thruster pods, which guide the spacecraft into orbit, failed to activate.

Issue with Dragon thruster pods. System inhibiting three of four from initializing. About to command inhibit override. — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 1, 2013

This stalled deployment of the Dragon’s solar arrays, used to generate power for the capsule, until SpaceX could override the computer, according to a report on NBC.

Holding on solar array deployment until at least two thruster pods are active — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 1, 2013

Within the hour things settled down: The capsule was orbiting Earth with two of its four thruster pods working, en route to dock and drop off over a ton of supplies and science equipment at the ISS.

Solar array deployment successful — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 1, 2013

But two thruster pods are, unfortunately, only two-thirds of the power needed to dock with the ISS. Four hours after take-off, mission control announced that the capsule will not be arriving at the ISS tomorrow as planned. “They are making progress recovering their prop system, but it’s not going to be in time to support the rendezvous and capture for tomorrow,” NASA’s spacecraft communicator told the crew. They are still hoping to attempt a second rendezvous sometime in the next few days. Space station commander Kevin Ford said, as reported Spaceflight Now: “That’s space exploration for you. We sometimes have problems and work through them, and that’s how you learn.” “If not tomorrow, maybe a couple of days down the road we’ll get it licked,” Ford said.

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YES-you heard that right. The International Space Station has announced that they will start allowing tourists to come onboard starting in 2020!! Hear that flat-earthers? This is your chance to answer your undying questions about the shape of our planet. […]

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Kerbal Space Program crash course: 10 steps to the Mun and back

Suborbital spaceflight on kerbin

After four long years in beta, Kerbal Space Program has been officially released as version 1.0. This is an intimidating game full of real science and engineering to learn. Even with endless hours to learn the ropes, it won’t appeal to everyone. However, if you like tinkering and simulation-style games, Kerbal Space Program may come to dominate your free time. So, how do you get started? Check out these ten tips and you’ll be go for launch before you know it.

Play the tutorial and take it slow

You might be tempted to think that getting from one planet to another in a rocket is simply a matter of charting an intercept course and burning fuel. Ah, if only it were that easy. Traversing the emptiness of space is actually all about controlling your orbit.

Playing the tutorial before you start building rockets is a good idea. After all, even the best designs will crash and burn (literally) if you don’t know the basics of piloting. In the tutorial, you’ll learn how to read the nav ball, burn at perigee and apogee, perform a Hohmann transfer, and more.

Your first few rockets ought to be simple and cheap so you can practice without blowing up anything (or anyone) important. Work up to the complicated stuff gradually — reach space, orbit Kerbin, build satellites, and so on. Most people who try Kerbal Space Program never even make it to Kerbin’s closest moon, conveniently called Mun. Keep a cool head and you can be one of them.

Choose the right game mode

In Kerbal Space Program, you manage a space program on the planet Kerbin, which resides in a solar system not unlike our own. There are small rocky planets, moons, and gas giants to explore. There are three ways to play: sandbox, science, and career.

Sandbox has all technologies unlocked and you have unlimited funds to build your rockets and space planes. In science mode you begin only with basic rocketry technology and unlock more parts by exploring, taking readings with instruments, and collecting samples. You still don’t have to worry about money in science mode, though.

Finally, there’s career mode, which is the “real” game. You unlock technology with science points, but those rockets are expensive! You have to earn cash to pay for your launches by completing contracts (randomly generated missions) and implementing administrative policies. This mode is more challenging, but also much more fun.

Failure is part of the fun

Your first rocket will probably blow up. Heck, numbers two and three are probably at risk too. Sometimes figuring out why a design failed is as fun as building and flying a working one. Kerbal Space Program teaches you not to fear failure, and you can always revert a flight to before you blew it up and try things differently.

Even when a mission goes wrong and your brave Kerbalnauts are stranded, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Now you get to design and launch a rescue mission.

Mind your center of gravity and aerodynamics

The building interface in Kerbal Space Program includes a tool that shows you a rocket’s center of gravity. Use this to make sure you aren’t wasting time trying to get a top-heavy design into space. This is one of the primary reasons your early designs will fail. You also need to take into account how that center of gravity will change as your fuel tanks are emptied.

If your center of gravity is off, you’ll have trouble aiming the rocket in the right direction. RCS thrusters and reaction wheels can help you wrestle a somewhat awkward design to its destination, but that’ll only get you so far.

Aerodynamics really matter in the big 1.0 update. Previously, you could get just about anything into orbit if it was balanced well, but now you need to make sure your payload doesn’t have too much drag. Start by making your rockets shaped like a rocket. Simple. Also, make use of the new procedural fairings to cover the payload and make it more efficient for the ascent stage.

When in doubt, add struts

Even if you’ve come up with a well-balanced design for a rocket, you might find it’s a little droopy on the launchpad. Just because two parts are physically connected in Kerbal Space Program doesn’t mean they will stay that way under acceleration. Luckily, there are struts.

These parts are in the structural tab when you’re assembling your craft. They are especially useful for strengthening the connection between stages where your docking ports or decouplers act as a weak point. Simply attach them anywhere you need a little more support. They weigh very little and will automatically disconnect to release stages.

You aren’t dumb, docking is hard

You can only get so much mass into orbit at a time, and that means you might occasionally have to assemble larger craft in orbit or refuel at a space station (which you also have to build). Doing all these things requires docking two craft. It involves very precise control of your orbit, speed, and angle of approach.

Your first attempt at docking will be discouraging, as this is one of the first advanced skills you learn in Kerbal Space Program. Just look up some tutorials on YouTube (here’s a good one) and give it a try. Once you sort out the steps and learn how to read your orbital map, it won’t seem so intimidating.

Pay attention to delta-v

The delta-v of a rocket is its ability to change velocity, and it’s the key to knowing how big to make a rocket. If you want to get really sciency, you can do some math to calculate the delta-v of your designs, which is a function of the mass of your rocket and the amount of thrust it can produce. Kerbal Space Program is designed to be extendable, so there are mods you can add that crunch the numbers for you.

The delta-v figures for reaching various destinations in the solar system are posted all over the internet, so it’s a relatively simple matter to design the right rocket for a task. Just make sure you’re efficient. Use multi-stage designs to dump dead weight so it doesn’t drain your fuel.

Level up your Kerbals

There are three different classes of Kerbalnauts: pilots, engineers, and scientists. Every manned mission needs a pilot, but the other Kerbals serve their purpose too. Scientists increase the value of data you send back to Kerbin, and engineers can repair your craft if something breaks. A fully leveled pilot also has more control over vectors in flight. The catch is that they need to have experience first.

The level system was added fairly recently and adds a little incentive to keep your Kerbals alive. They gain a few experience points for orbiting, landing on planets, planting flags, and so on. Make sure you don’t always fly the same Kerbals or you might find yourself in trouble when a rescue mission comes up. Basically, make sure you’ve got a deep bench.

Mining

One of the big additions to version 1.0 is resource mining, and it can totally change the way you play this game. Ore is available in various quantities all around the solar system, and with the right equipment, you can mine it and produce fuel. This allows you to plan extended missions because you don’t have to fly all your fuel up from Kerbin.

Mining equipment is heavy and oversized, but that’s probably intentional. There are storage containers, drills, and scanners. It takes a lot of planning to set up a viable mining operation, but it wouldn’t be any fun if it were too easy. Before you can find the best ore deposits, you need to send a scanner to survey each body, but once you do, you can set up refueling depots and expand your reach.

As mentioned above, Kerbal Space Program is very mod-friendly. The stock game has filled in the feature gaps over the years, but there are still plenty of cool mods. Some of them change the gameplay, and others add new parts to augment your vessels.

You should probably check out MechJeb, which can be used to display detailed information about your spacecraft and also includes various autopilot features. MechJeb can automate a lot of tasks if you let it, but I think it’s best used to speed up some of the tedious bits of the game. For example, some low-thrust, high-efficiency engines might require you to execute a burn of several minutes to alter your orbit. Why not let MechJeb do that for you?

Kerbal Alarm Clock is also a valuable mod that reminds you when you need to check in on a mission. As you get deeper into Kerbal Space Program, you’re going to launch missions that take years of game time. Rather than speed up time and wait around, you can do other things and come back. Kerbal Alarm Clock makes sure you don’t forget.

If you really just want to play around with Kerbal Space Program and don’t care about “rules,” there’s Hyperedit. This mod allows you to alter anything about your orbit or location of ships, asteroids, and even planets. It can be a lot of fun to play around with, but also handy for compensating for any bugs you might come across.

One final word of warning, mods that add new parts to the game can cause issues when KSP is updated. If they aren’t compatible, you’ll have to wait for the mod developer to update. Otherwise, the game simply won’t load any craft you’ve built that include those parts.

If you follow the above steps, we don’t guarantee that you’ll become the most decorated Kerbalnaut the world has ever known, but we do guarantee that you’ll get to live longer than most of your Kerbalnaut peers.

This Nasa astronaut is set to create record for longest spaceflight by a woman – SCIENCE News

This Nasa astronaut is set to create record for longest spaceflight by a woman

Nasa astronaut Christina Koch is going to have her mission on the International Space Station extended to 328 days.

A National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) astronaut is all set to set a record for longest spaceflight by a woman.

Nasa astronaut Christina Koch is going to have her mission on the International Space Station (ISS) extended to 328 days. This would set a record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman, the US space agency said.

Nasa and its ISS partners have set a new schedule and new crew assignments that will include the first flight of Nasa astronaut Jessica Meir and an extended stay for Nasa astronaut Andrew Morgan.

ASTRONAUT CHRISTINA KOCH

Christina Koch, who arrived at the space station on March 14, and now is scheduled to remain in orbit until February, 2020, will eclipse the record of 288 days set by former Nasa astronaut Peggy Whitson in 2016-17.

She will be part of three expeditions — 59, 60 and 61 — during her current first spaceflight, Nasa said in a statement.

“Christina’s extended mission will provide additional data for Nasa’s Human Research Program and continue to support future missions to the Moon and Mars,” Jennifer Fogarty, chief scientist of the Human Research Program at Nasa’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, US, said.

Her mission is planned to be just shy of the longest single spaceflight by a Nasa astronaut — 340 days, set by former Nasa astronaut Scott Kelly during his one-year mission in 2015-16.

Christina Koch and fellow Nasa astronaut Nick Hague, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin will remain aboard the space station and begin Expedition 60.

On July 20, Morgan, European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov are scheduled to launch to the space station and join Expedition 60, returning the orbiting laboratory’s crew complement to six.

The extended missions of Christina Koch and Morgan will help scientists gather additional data about the effects of long-duration human spaceflight beyond those of the normal six-month station expedition, Nasa said.

FUTURE DEEP SPACE EXPLORATION MISSIONS

Such research is essential to support future deep space exploration missions to the Moon and Mars, according to the US space agency.

Nasa has gathered vast amounts of data on astronaut health and performance over the past 50 years and has focused recently on extended durations up to one year with the dedicated mission of Scott Kelly and extended mission of Peggy Whitson.

These opportunities also have demonstrated that there is a significant degree of variability in human response to spaceflight and it is important to determine the acceptable degree of change for both men and women.

“Astronauts demonstrate amazing resilience and adaptability in response to long duration spaceflight exposure,” Fogarty said.

“This will enable successful exploration missions with healthy, performance-ready astronauts.

“Nasa is looking to build on what we have learned with additional astronauts in space for more than 250 days,” she said.

How to watch space launches as they happen – The Verge

How to watch space launches as they happen

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George Méliès’ 1902 film A Trip to the Moon has been watched by countless film and science fiction buffs. Besides its innovative (for the time) effects, one reason for its enduring popularity is humanity’s fascination with the idea of space travel. Today, however, we have an advantage that has nothing to do with special effects. We can watch real rockets go to space.

Most of us aren’t aware of how many launches take place each year. Besides flights to and from the International Space Station (ISS), there are satellites being sent into orbit, exploratory craft, and new technologies being tested. And because current technologies allow us to view the process to a greater extent than ever before (with more actual footage and less reliance on animation), it is even more interesting to watch than it was a generation ago.

Want to know when and where to view a space launch? There are a variety of online sites and mobile apps that can give you an entryway into the world of launch-watching. Here are some places to try:

Online Sites

NASA Launches and Landings

NASA’s site offers a good amount of information about any launches involving the organization, its facilities, and the ISS. Links on the site lead to information about each launch and live coverage.

SpaceX

Elon Musk’s company keeps information about its activities front and center on the site. Its webcast page lets you know how long until the next launch and links to the YouTube live broadcast. You can also set a reminder.

Kennedy Space Center / Launches & Events

If you live near Florida’s Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex or are planning to visit, you definitely want to check out its schedule of launches and events. Watching a launch on video is cool, but watching one in person is infinitely cooler. You can watch a launch from the main visitor complex or from special viewing areas (if you’re willing to pay a little more).

Spaceflight Now Launch Schedule

If you want to watch (or at least be aware of) launches outside of NASA and SpaceX’s purview, Spaceflight Now is a good resource. This site lists upcoming launches from India, China, Russia, and other space-capable nations.

Verge Science’s space page

Last but certainly not least, The Verge’s space page isn’t a bad place to get the latest news on the latest launches.

Mobile Apps

While watching a launch on a phone may provide a somewhat miniature view, mobile apps can keep you up to date with ongoing status reports. Even better, they can send you notifications so you know when a launch is about to happen (or if a planned launch has been pushed to a later date).

There are a number of apps out there, but these three are available for both iOS and Android:

Next Spaceflight (Android / iOS)

Next Spaceflight starts with a list of upcoming launches. Select one, and you get more complete information along with a link to the launch. You can also see the status of previous launches together with videos. The app also includes news articles, a Twitter feed, and descriptions of the various vehicles.

Space Launch Now

Space Launch Now displays the status of the next launch on its front page, with a countdown clock, a description of its purpose, and a link that leads to more info and the YouTube feed. There’s also info on the ISS, on all the astronauts who have been in space, and upcoming events of interest.

Space Launch Schedule

Space Launch Schedule also opens on the next upcoming launch, and it includes a countdown and links to more info, the feed, and (when available) where you can view it in person.

NASA administrator on new Moon plan: ‘We’re doing this in a way that’s never been done before’

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Axiom Space plans first-ever fully private human spaceflight mission to International Space Station

Spaceflight now live

Press Release From: Axiom Space
Posted: Friday, March 6, 2020

Today Axiom Space announced it is planning history’s first fully private human spaceflight mission to the International Space Station.

Axiom has signed a contract with SpaceX for a Crew Dragon flight which will transport a commander professionally trained by Axiom alongside three private astronauts to and from the International Space Station. The mission, set to launch as soon as the second half of 2021, will allow the crew to live aboard the ISS and experience at least eight days of microgravity and views of Earth that can only be fully appreciated in the large, venerable station.

“This history-making flight will represent a watershed moment in the march toward universal and routine access to space,” Axiom CEO Michael Suffredini said. “This will be just the first of many missions to ISS to be completely crewed and managed by Axiom Space – a first for a commercial entity. Procuring the transportation marks significant progress toward that goal, and we’re glad to be working with SpaceX in this effort.”

This is the first of Axiom’s proposed “precursor missions” to the ISS envisioned under its Space Act Agreement (SAA) with NASA. Discussions with NASA are underway to establish additional enabling agreements for the private astronaut missions to ISS.

Axiom plans to offer professional and private astronaut flights to ISS at a rate of up to two per year to align with flight opportunities as they are made available by NASA, while simultaneously constructing its own privately funded space station.

“Since 2012, SpaceX has been delivering cargo to the International Space Station in partnership with NASA and later this year, we will fly NASA astronauts for the first time,” said SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell. “Now, thanks to Axiom and their support from NASA, privately crewed missions will have unprecedented access to the space station, furthering the commercialization of space and helping usher in a new era of human exploration.”

With its team’s vast experience in human spaceflight, Axiom serves as a one-stop shop overseeing all elements of its missions. In addition to contracting with SpaceX for a Crew Dragon vehicle to transport its crew to the ISS, Axiom’s turnkey service for the mission – two days in transit and at least eight days aboard the ISS – includes training, mission planning, hardware development, life support, medical support, crew provisions, hardware and safety certifications, on-orbit operations and overall mission management.

NASA recently selected Axiom’s proposal to attach its space station modules to the ISS beginning in the second half of 2024, ultimately creating a new ‘Axiom Segment’ which will expand the station’s usable and habitable volume. When the ISS reaches its retirement date, the Axiom complex will detach and operate as a free-flying commercial space station.

By serving the market for immediate access to space while building the future platform for a global user base, Axiom is leading the development and settlement of low Earth orbit now and into the future.

Axiom Space was founded in 2016 with the aim of creating humanity’s home in space to ensure a prosperous future for everyone, everywhere. While building and launching the Axiom Segment of the International Space Station to one day form the world’s first commercial space station, Axiom provides access to the ISS today by conducting crewed missions for professional and private astronauts. More information about Axiom can be found at  www.axiomspace.com.

For media inquiries: Beau Holder В

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KerbalEdu – Earth History Campaign

Earth History Campaign

What do you think happens when Kerbals get their hands on alien technology? When the would-be spacefarers discover how “Humans” have ramped up their attempts at space-flight, they decide they need to beat humans to it!

Start your journey from the earliest rockets and prototypes like V-2 & Opel RAK and progress through the Apollo flights to the founding of International Space Station.

It’s one small step for Kerbals but an explosive leap for Kerbalkind!

(*Requires KerbalEdu version 1.04e730 to work)

Click to play, doubleclick to view fullscreen

Mission I

It’s your first mission as a pilot and your palms are definitely sweaty. Imagine, flying to the edge of atmosphere!

The first mission of Earth History Campaign puts you in the cockpit of X-15 and other historic planes to take the first steps in your astronaut training. You’ll learn the basic controls and take on your first mission to inspect an unidentified flying object.

Materials

You will learn.

– Steering & orientation
– Take off & landing on runway
– Flying in atmosphere
– Time warp
– Force arrows

– X-15 (first spaceplane)
– Dassault Mirage III C
– NF-104A (astronaut training for X-15)

– Lift & drag
– Free body diagrams (Force Arrows)

Mission II

Kerbals have intercepted a series of radio transmissions detailing bizarre experiments. The curious Kerbals obviously need to repeat them! Join in a series of tests around the space center, uncover the secrets of the universe and find out why on there is a cabbage patch on the runway..

Materials

You will learn.

– Using engines: adjustin thrust
– Different types of fuels

– Opel RAK-2
– Goddard’s Rocket Nell

– Displacement, time & average/instantaneous velocity
– Visualization (velocity/acceleration arrows?)
– Motion with constant acceleration
– Average and instantaneous acceleration
– Concept of force

– Recognizing and framing problems
– Cooperation and sharing responsibilities

Mission III

Encouraged by the success of their previous tests, Kerbals continue to dig deeper into the plans they discovered. This time they discovered blueprints they want to follow to replicate the first suborbital rocket, German V-2. They want to make sure they understand the physics behind the rockets before venturing forth with their spacefaring plans.

Materials

You will learn.

– Take off from launch pad
– Assembly: Linear attachment

– V-2, first suborbital rocket

– Work
– Newton’s Second Law (F=ma)

– Forming and evaluating hypotheses and working theories

Mission IV

After managing to successfully replicate V-2, Kerbals throw caution to the wind and start building their own rockets. However, they still need to conduct the experiment from the science department and need to explore the nature of kinetic and potential energy. This time, the scientist let the astronauts take a little more liberties at designing the tests.

Materials

You will learn.

– Assembly: Linear attachment
– Use of Flight Recorder

– Potential Energy
– Kinetic Energy

Mission V

We are on the verge of a breakthrough! The R-7 blueprints that our scientist were able to salvage promise great things; the rocket itself is only meant to transfer stuff out of the atmosphere and to the “orbit” around Kerbin.

In this mission, you’ll attempt to crack the blueprints to build one of the most popular rockets in the history. Most important, you’ll learn how to orbit; one of the most important skills for an aspiring kerbonaut.

Materials

You will learn.

– Designing staging
– Navball markers
– Orbiting

– Orbiting
– Orbital potential and kinetic energy
– Reference frame

Mission VI

Juri Gagarin was the first human in space 1961. Now it’s your turn to guide the Kerbals on their first manned orbital flight. Assemble your own spacecraft and follow in the footsteps of Vostok’s flight around the planet to learn about changing orbits and re-entry.

In this mission, you have more freedom over the make of your spacecraft and the course of your flight, preparing you for more independent missions in the future. In the process, you can compare your experiences and progress with Gagarin’s flight in 1961 – what differences there are and what similarities?

Special thanks to Beale and everyone else behind Tantares mod for the Vostok parts!

Materials

You will learn.

– Loading and merging spacecraft
– Navball markers
– Manoeuvering in the orbit

This mission contains special parts and data that will be installed after launching the mission. If the game starts into the main menu please wait. It shouldn’t take more than 20-30 seconds for the mission to start.

Scenario 8

Bacon ipsum dolor amet turducken pig bresaola salami pork loin porchetta tenderloin pork belly leberkas ham hock shoulder cow. Beef ribs pastrami meatloaf alcatra sausage. Pancetta picanha swine bacon meatloaf. Landjaeger capicola pancetta filet mignon andouille frankfurter drumstick bacon chuck tri-tip shankle. T-bone tri-tip filet mignon pastrami spare ribs kielbasa. Strip steak boudin doner cow ball tip sausage. Jowl short loin tail doner pork bacon turducken venison jerky.

Kerbal Space Program How-to

Kerbal space program how-to

Abstract

Intro: Orbital Mechanics and KSP Career Mode

Ever heard of Kerbal Space Program? Worth playing, nice educative edge. This article is a guide to understanding Kerbal Space Program in Career Mode and understanding how to make successful flights. Although there is also a lot of fun and lessons to be learned in blowing things up! Kerbal Space Program (commonly abbreviated by KSP) is a space flight simulator currently developed by Squad. Although referred to as a space flight simulator, in this article KSP is also referred to as a game. KSP is available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. The game has a very extensive Modding community, adding features and improvements via third party Mods.

Some notable differences and similarities can be found between our own Solar System and the KSP Solar System, named Kerbol System. Analogous to Earth, there is the home planet Kerbin, not inhabited by Humans, but by Kerbins. Kerbin has two natural satellites one called Mun and the other Minmus. The sun is called Kerbol and analogous to Mercury, Venus, Mars and Jupiter are respectively: Moho, Eve, Duna and Jool [1] .
A very distinctive difference between our Solar System and Kerbol is that the planets are almost 10 times smaller, but retain their density, making the planets 10 times more massive, which is by some noted as being physically unrealistic. Others find practical application for educational purposes, like Chris Bush, a teacher at Zion Benton Township High School at Kenosha, Wisconsin, USA. Mr. Bush used Kerbal Space Program as a teaching tool in his Advanced Placement class [2] .

Whatever you do in Kerbal Space Program, it most probably involves blowing things up and explosions; either intentionally or unintentionally.

Never be afraid to fail. Failure is only a stepping stone to improvement.

Key bindings: how to take control

Knowing how to use your keyboard in Kerbal Space Program is very important to be effective.
Your primary source for what keyboard keys do, read: Kerbal Space Program Wiki: Key Bindings.
Please get familiar with the terminology such as: Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA), Intra-Vehicular Activity (IVA), Stability Augmentation System (SAS) and Reaction Control System (RCS). Prior to KSP 0.21 SAS provided torque, but no automatic course correction, KSP 0.21 and later provide both.

Apart from keyboard keys, you can use the right mouse button for options of a specific part of your rocket. Including the option to transfer fuel between tanks.

The most important Key Bindings are:

Key Effect Category
M Orbital Map toggle System/ UI Commands
. Time warp (physical time warp in atmosphere) increase System/ UI Commands
, Time warp (physical time warp in atmosphere) decrease System/ UI Commands
[ Cycle through active ships (forwards) wihtin 2.5km System/ UI Commands
] Cycle through active ships (backwards) within 2.5km System/ UI Commands
W Pitch adjustment (up/back) Flight Controls
S Pitch adjustment (down/forward) Flight Controls
A Yaw adjustment (port/left) Flight Controls
D Yaw adjustment (starboard/right) Flight Controls
Q Roll adjustment (counter clockwise) Flight Controls
E Roll adjustment (clockwise) Flight Controls
C Toggle IVA view Flight Controls
Left-Shift Increase throttle Flight Controls
Left-Control Decrease throttle Flight Controls
T Toggle SAS Flight Controls: SAS
R Toggle RCS Flight Controls: RCS
X Cut throttle Flight Controls
Z Full throttle Flight Controls
G Toggle landing gear Flight Controls
U Toggle vehicle lights Flight Controls
L When doing EVA: Toggle headlamps EVA Commands
R When doing EVA: Toggle jetpack EVA Commands

Build your first rocket

Building a rocket is done in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). The Kerbal Space Program Wiki has a 45 minute Tutorial concerning Basic Rocket Design, I can recommend starting there.

Got your rocket? Rule of thumb for flying:

  1. The first 10.000 meters go straight up: the atmosphere is too thick to try and fly at an angle; you’ll waste precious fuel
  2. Keep your speed at 150m/s the first 10.000 meters; alternatively: 100m/s at 1000m, 110m/s at 1100m, 120/ms at 2000m and so on; read more about terminal velocity.
  3. At 10.000m perform Gravity turn: tilt your rocket to a 45 degree angle, increase your speed to 1800ms/s and altitude at least 70.000m
  4. At 70.000 meters altitude you will be in orbit, having no drag of the atmosphere; potential to stay permanently in orbit
  5. Circularize orbit at Apoapsis to stay permanently in orbit
  6. Depending on your altitude burn prograde at the periapsis or apoapsis; e.g. at 100.000m you need a speed of +/-2200m/s

Even more fun are the video’s of Scott Manley, who you will not only soon love because of his awesome Scottish accent, but his expertise as well. Video’s include, Scott Manley on YouTube:

  1. Kerbal Space Program 101 – Tutorial For Beginners – Construction, Piloting, Orbiting
  2. Kerbal Space Program – Advanced Rocket Design Tutorial
  3. Kerbal Space Program Tutorial Getting To And Landing On Moons

Scott Manley, combines his enthusiasm for gaming and science into his Scott Manley YouTube Channel. Having worked on his, unfortunately unfinished, PhD in the field of Small bodies in the Solar System: Asteroid Discovery 1980-2010 (interesting video) at Armagh Observatory, a Bsc in Astronomy and Physics and a Msc in IT in Glasgow, you as Kerbal Space Program player, have all the reason to keep an eye on his great videos.

Advanced Rocket Design: building a fuel-efficient rocket

Key to being successful: baby steps! First get a basic rocket in orbit, then read this section.

Advanced Rocket Design in this article has fuel-efficiency at its core: getting farther with the same amount of fuel by using fuel smarter.
An increase in fuel efficiency of +449.0% (factor +5.490) will be demonstrated below between Single Stage design and Asparagus design. Mechjeb is used to remove human error: exact same flight/ascent path applies to all tests. Identical rockets used between tests to reach a 150,000 m circular orbit around Kerbin.
The yellow arrows show the fuel flow (fuel flows to where the arrow is pointing) from the External Fuel Ducts.
Be advised: Staging occurs from higher numbers to lower numbers; i.e.: first S4, then S3, then S2, then S1.

Asparagus design increases performance greatly. Key in the asparagus design is the Thrust-to-Weight Ratio (TWR). By separating stages (in order: S4, S3 and S2) during flight as the fuel tanks become empty, you eject dead weight and thus increase the Thrust-to-weight ratio. A TWR between 2 and 3 per stage is advised to escape Kerbin.
A mod is available for showing the TWR per stage and the TWR on other celestial bodies in the Solar System , Kerbol System. See Kerbal Engineer Redux managed by cybutek on www.curse.com/ksp-mods/kerbal. Special thanks to Plur303 for running the tests.

The Kerbal Space Program Wiki states the following: “The thrust-to-weight ratio (TWR) is a ratio that defines the power of a craft’s engines in relation to its own weight. If a craft needs to get into a stable orbit or land safely on the current celestial body without using parachutes, then its engines must put out more thrust than its current weight to counteract gravity.”

See picture at the right: The TWR is the ratio of FT (Thrust Force) and FG (Gravity Force). F (Residual Force) is pointing upwards if the TWR > 1 (your rocket will go up), downwards if TWR FT are equal).

A problem that may arise when using asparagus design is unwanted rocket spin/rotation, which can be countered with correct strut usage, see tutorial on YouTube: KSP: Asparagus/Onion Rotation – Stop that Spin! (tutorial).

Get your rocket into orbit: Orbital mechanics

Getting your rocket up there (70,000+ m) might already be hard enough, but what about staying up there?
What about changing orbit? Known and understand the basics of Orbital mechanics.

Apoapsis

Periapsis

Orbital Inclination, Ascending node and descending node

Circularizing

Delta-V

Sphere Of Influence (SOI) and Orbit

In Kerbal Space Program you will be operating your rocket in the Sphere of Influence, or SOI, of a celestial body (.e.g. Planet, Moon or Kerbol). The Sphere of Influence is a sphere around a celestial body in which it has gravitational influence on another object, e.g. your rocket or a Kerbal. To keep things simple KSP uses a one-body problem: one celestial body has has influence on your rocket and the orbit of the celestial body can’t be changed; even simpler than a two-body problem. In real-world physics, gravitational forces of multiple bodies (.e.g. the Sun, Earth and Moon) may simultaneously affect an object (e.g. a rocket), which is called an n-body problem.

It is a common misconception that astronauts in orbit are weightless because they have flown high enough to “escape” the Earth’s gravity. In fact, at an altitude of 400 kilometers, equivalent to a typical orbit of the Space Shuttle, gravity is still nearly 90% as strong as at the Earth’s surface. Weightlessness actually occurs because orbiting objects are in free-fall [3] , resulting in the apparent state of weightlessness. The same mechanics count for Kerbin.

At the right you can see Newton’s Canonball, which illustrates how objects can “fall” in a curve. With little firepower (A), gravity prevails and the projectile drops back to earth. With more firepower (B) the projectile will fall farther. With enough firepower (C and D) the projectile will continuously free-fall in a circular orbit (C) or elliptic orbit (D) around earth. If the projectile is fired with sufficient velocity (C and D), the ground curves away from the projectile at least as much as the projectile falls ? so the projectile never strikes the ground. With too much firepower (E) a projectile will gain escape velocity, meaning escaping Earth’s gravity, into outer space.

Gravity assist

Eccentricity

Eccentricity is the ratio of the distance difference of the apoapsis and periapsis, and the major axis of an ellipse (planetary orbit). Eccentricity is shown by the formula:

In practice this means that the higher the eccentricity (between 0 and 1), the higher the apoapsis in relation to the periapsis (e.g. an eccentricity of 0.9 means a big apoapsis and a relatively small periapsis).

There are more Orbital parameters, read about the Longitude of the Ascending node for example.

Whenever you want a new challenge try to create your own Geostationary Satellite Network.

The Kerbal Space Program Wiki has more terminology explained.

Get your rocket into orbit: Understanding the interface and Navball

The Navball is an extremely helpful tool in maneuvering your rocket:

  1. Left-Shift: increase throttle (throttle level shown at the left of Navball)
  2. Left-Ctrl: decrease throttle (throttle level shown at the left of Navball)
  3. Yellow icon in the center shows where your rocket is pointing at, in the image: parallel to Kerbin’s surface and around 45 degrees
  4. The current speed is shown in green on top
  5. RCS: lit light-green, so it is active; toggle with ‘r’
  6. SAS: lit light-blue, so it is active; toggle with ‘s’
  7. With a maneuver node one can change speed, direction and inclination around a body:


In order of appearance: prograde (speed up), retrograde (slow down), normal (increase inclination), anti-normal (decrease inclination), radial (in) (burn towards the planet / turn orbital plane clockwise around rocket), Anti-radial (out) (turn away from planet / turn orbital plane counter-clockwise around rocket). Just point the yellow direction pointer c.q. level indicator at one of these maneuvers and increase throttle to perform a maneuver.

To ease maneuvering, one can add a maneuver node, this can precision and thus effectiveness and efficiency of a maneuver. After setting a maneuver node, point the yellow direction pointer at the dark blue Maneuver marker .
When using a maneuver node, the Delta-V required to make the maneuver is shown on the right of the Navball together with the duration of the required burn (see “Est. Burn”) in the lower right corner. Below the “Est. Burn” one can see when the rocket reaches the created Manever node.
Tip: start your Maneuver node burn not on “Node in T – 0s” but at “Est. Burn” devided by two.
Example: the Est. Burn duration is 30 seconds. Start your burn, full throttle, at “Node in T – 15s” and stop at “Node in T + 15s”. This way your burn is done in optimal timing: not to early, not too late.

Get your rocket into orbit: Practical example

After you build a rocket, you want to get it up there, into orbit. To do this in a fuel-efficient way, we use a gravity turn.

A gravity turn is a maneuver used to launch a craft into, or descend from, orbit around a celestial body (e.g. Kerbin) while using minimal fuel. In order to escape the surface, a craft must rise faster than gravity pulls it down. In order to maintain a stable orbit, the craft must have enough sideways momentum (+/-2200m/s at Kerbin) at a high enough altitude (70,000m at Kerbin) to avoid colliding with any surface features or getting slowed down by the atmosphere. A gravity turn combines these two steps into one maneuver, saving fuel in the process. As a craft starts ascending vertically, it slowly turns to the side until by the end of the turn it points sideways.
At Kerbin: go straight up for the first 10,000m, then turn your rocket east 45 degrees. When you are near 70,000m turn to 90 degrees and create a circular orbit.

Scott Manley has created a helpful tutorial explaining for to orbit Kerbin, so I advice to watch this:

Basic maneuvering: Apoapsis, Periapsis, Inclination

Get your rocket down to Kerbin: Deorbit

How to get maneuver nodes?

How to get Science

How to get Money

A broad community behind Kerbal Space Program creates modifications (short: “mods”) to the original game. These mods make all kinds of changes to the game, including: off-world refueling (Karbonite), autopiloting, additional flight information, extra planets in Kerbol System and additional parts.
It is confirmed that an adaption of Roverdude’s Karbonite mod will be included in Kerbal Space Program 1.00. this enables players to refuel their space crafts on other planets in the Kerbol System.

Handy Mods:

  1. Important statistics about your ship and orbit: Kerbal Engineer Redux a.k.a. Kerbal Flight Engineer by cytubek
  2. Docking: Docking Port Alignment Indicator by NavyFish_KSP
  3. Autopilot and flight statistics: MechJeb by r4m0n
  4. Alarms for maneuver nodes, rendezvous and more: Kerbal Alarm Clock by TriggerAu
  5. Refuel: Karbonite
  6. Transfer fuel, add/remove parts of vessel, etc: Kerbal Attachment System (KAS)

In general Umbra Space Industries mods feature some great additions to KSP, check it out!

Fun mods:

  1. Mission control and Kerbonaut chatter and background noises: Chatterer by Athlonic
  2. Kerbal Multi Player

Read more about the best mods in detail.

In conclusion

Kerbal Space Program is a very cool simulation game.
There are some bugs in version 0.90 BETA that need to be resolved. On my part the most annoying bugs are:

  1. When time accelerating, please go to 1x speed when above 600 meters. The parachute opens at 500 meters and is know to rip apart in time accelerated mode.
  2. When doing and EVA in stable orbit, Kerben is shot out the capsule; At first thought it could be decompression ( 1 bar inside the capsule ), but when Kerbin reenters the module and Kerbin leaves at a later time again, he is shot out of the capsule again. A nasty bug/annoyance.
  3. In-orbit spacecraft assembly/reconfiguration is not possible at the moment.

Interesting Space Mission tips to explore after this guide are:

  1. In-Orbit refueling: can be done by docking
  2. Detachable landing crafts: can be done by docking

If you’re not convinced about if the game is worth playing, watch this 4 minute trailer:

Watch live @ 3 pm ET: NASA, SpaceX preview next cargo launch to space station, Space

Watch live tonight! SpaceX Dragon launching NASA science to space station

Liftoff is at 11:50 p.m. EST (0450 GMT).

A SpaceX Dragon cargo ship will launch a fresh haul of NASA science to the International Space Station tonight (March 6) and you can watch it all live here. Liftoff is set for 11:50 p.m. EST (0450 GMT March 7), with NASA’s webcast beginning at 11:30 p.m. EST (0430 GMT).

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Dragon’s CRS-20 mission to the space station. Both vehicles have flown before and are making return trips to the station. Dragon CRS-20 is hauling more than 4,300 lbs. (1,950 kilograms) of supplies to the space station.

To read more about the science experiments and other payloads, you can find NASA’s descriptions here.

From NASA:

SpaceX is now targeting March 6 at 11:50 p.m. EST for launch of its 20th commercial resupply services mission (CRS-20) to the International Space Station. During standard preflight inspections, SpaceX identified a valve motor on the second stage engine behaving not as expected and determined the safest and most expedient path to launch is to utilize the next second stage in line that was already at the Cape and ready for flight. The new second stage has already completed the same preflight inspections with all hardware behaving as expected. The updated target launch date provides the time required to complete preflight integration and final checkouts.

The cargo Dragon will lift off atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida carrying more than 5,600 pounds of science investigations and cargo to the station, including research on particle foam manufacturing, water droplet formation, the human intestine and other cutting-edge investigations.

From NASA:

NASA will unveil the name of the agency’s next Mars rover, currently known as Mars 2020, during a live event on NASA Television at 1:30 p.m. EST Thursday, March 5, followed by a media teleconference at 3:30 p.m. about the mission and the naming.

The Mars 2020 rover was the subject of a nationwide naming contest in 2019 that drew more than 28,000 essays by K-12 students from every U.S. state and territory. Nearly 4,700 volunteer judges – educators, professionals, and space enthusiasts from around the country – helped narrow the pool down to 155 semifinalists. A second round of judging selected the nine finalist essays that were open to an online public poll before Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, made the final selection.

To participate in the post-event media teleconference, media must send their name and affiliation to Vizza by noon PST Thursday. Media and the public can submit questions on social media by using #AskNASA. Participants may also follow the telecon live on YouTube and Ustream and listen to the event at: http://www.nasa.gov/live

‘ISS Live!’ Tune in to the International Space Station

Find out what the astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station are up to by tuning in to the “ISS Live” broadcast. Hear conversations between the crew and mission controllers on Earth and watch them work inside the U.S. segment of the orbiting laboratory. When the crew is off duty, you can enjoy live views of Earth from Space. You can watch and listen in the window below, courtesy of NASA.

“Live video from the International Space Station includes internal views when the crew is on-duty and Earth views at other times. The video is accompanied by audio of conversations between the crew and Mission Control. This video is only available when the space station is in contact with the ground. During ‘loss of signal’ periods, viewers will see a blue screen.

“Since the station orbits the Earth once every 90 minutes, it experiences a sunrise or a sunset about every 45 minutes. When the station is in darkness, external camera video may appear black, but can sometimes provide spectacular views of lightning or city lights below.”