Thundering into cloudless blue skies, a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket successfully completed its first mission to deploy a Global Positioning System satellite for the Unuted States Air Force. Roaring off the launch pad exactly on time at 5:38 p.m. EDT, Atlas completed its mission three and a half hours later when it deployed GPS IIF-4 into an orbit 11,000 miles above the Earth. This was both the first GPS mission for the Atlas (all previous GPS satellites were launched on Delta II and Delta IV rockets) and the first of two launches scheduled in seven days from Cape Canaveral A.F.S.
“The ULA team is honored to place another next-generation GPS satellite on orbit for our US Air Force customer,” said Jim Sponnick, ULA vice president, Mission Operations. “Today’s successful delivery of the GPS IIF-4 mission represents the 70th launch success in the 77 months since ULA was formed – an accomplishment made possible by seamless integration of the customer and industry team; reliable production and launch operation processes; and a one-launch-at-a-time focus on mission success for these critical space assets.”
Expedition 35 Flight Engineers Chris Cassidy and Tom Marshburn completed a spacewalk at 2:14 p.m. EDT Saturday to inspect and replace a pump controller box on the International Space Station’s far port truss (P6) leaking ammonia coolant. The pair began the 5-hour, 30-minute spacewalk at 8:44 a.m.
WASHINGTON, DC – NASA’s newest scientific rover is set for testing May 3 through June 8 in the highest part of Greenland. The robot known as GROVER, which stands for both Greenland Rover and Goddard Remotely Operated Vehicle for Exploration and Research, will roam the frigid landscape collecting measurements to help scientists better understand changes in the massive ice sheet. This autonomous, solar-powered robot carries a ground-penetrating radar to study how snow accumulates, adding layer upon layer to the ice sheet over time.
A test version of NASA’s Orion spacecraft safely landed during a simulation of two types of parachute failures May 1. In the test, conducted in Yuma, Ariz., the mock capsule was traveling about 250 mph when the parachutes were deployed. That is the highest speed the craft has experienced as part of the test series designed to certify Orion’s parachute system for carrying humans.
NASA is inviting members of the public to submit their names and a personal message online for a DVD to be carried aboard a spacecraft that will study the Martian upper atmosphere.
Scheduled for launch in November, the DVD will be in NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft. The DVD is part of the mission’s Going to Mars Campaign coordinated at the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (CU/LASP).
State lawmakers have shown strong support for Florida’s aerospace industry in the 2013 Legislative Session by renewing Space Florida’s $10 million operating and business development budget (including the second year of $4 million in recurring funds). This demonstrates that the ongoing, proactive development of the dynamic aerospace industry in our state is a top priority.
Two prominent aerospace industry organizations are recognizing the contributions of NASA, especially the achievements of the team that landed NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars in August, with coveted awards. The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) will present its Robert J. Collier Trophy to the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Team of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., at an event in Arlington, Va., Thursday night. At an event in Washington on Wednesday, the team received the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Foundation Award.
The team operating NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover on Mars has selected a second target rock for drilling and sampling. The rover will set course to the drilling location in coming days. This second drilling target, called “Cumberland,” lies about nine feet (2.75 meters) west of the rock where Curiosity’s drill first touched Martian stone in February. Curiosity took the first rock sample ever collected on Mars from that rock, called “John Klein.” The rover found evidence of an ancient environment favorable for microbial life. Both rocks are flat, with pale veins and a bumpy surface. They are embedded in a layer of rock on the floor of a shallow depression called “Yellowknife Bay.”
(Photo Description: This map shows the location of “Cumberland,” the second rock-drilling target for NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity, in relation to the rover’s first drilling target, “John Klein,” within the southwestern lobe of a shallow depression called “Yellowknife Bay.” Cumberland, like John Klein, is a patch of flat-lying bedrock with pale veins and bumpy surface texture. The bumpiness is due to erosion-resistant nodules within the rock, which have been identified as concretions resulting from the action of mineral-laden water.
North is to the top of the map. The scale bar is 50 meters (164 feet). Cumberland lies about nine feet (2.75 meters) west of John Klein. The base map is part of an image from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The mapped area is within Gale Crater and north of the mountain called Mount Sharp in the middle of the crater. After completion of investigations near the edge of Yellowknife Bay, the rover’s main science destination will be on the lower reaches of Mount Sharp. For broader-context views of the area, see PIA16832, PIA16064 and PIA16058.)
Sierra Nevada Corp. (SNC) Space Systems of Louisville, Colo., has completed its first major, comprehensive safety review of its Dream Chaser Space System. This is the company’s latest paid-for-performance milestone with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP), which is working with commercial space partners to develop capabilities to launch U.S. astronauts from American soil in the next few years.