quarta-feira, 27 de fevereiro de 2008
terça-feira, 26 de fevereiro de 2008
Vejam com atenção. É algo que os astronautas da Apollo 2.0... quero dizer, da Orion, não vão ter! Só na ISS é que vão ter este luxo. Os desgraçados vão ter de voltar às fraldas!
quinta-feira, 21 de fevereiro de 2008
Fonte: MSNBC, 2
Operatives had only a 10-second window to hit the satellite - USA 193 - which went out of control shortly after it was launched in December 2006.
Officials were worried its hydrazine fuel could do harm, but it is not yet known if the fuel tank was destroyed.
The controversial operation has been criticised by China and Russia.
On Thursday, China called on the US to provide more information about the mission.
Russia suspects the operation was a cover to test anti-satellite technology under the US missile defence programme.
The US denies the operation was a response to an anti-satellite test carried out by China last year, which prompted fears of a space arms race.
The BBC's Jonathan Beale in Washington says this operation was hugely ambitious.
| || |
Owner: National Reconnaissance Office
Launched: 14 Dec 2006
Weight: 2,300 kg (5,000lbs)
1,134kg (2,500lbs) could survive re-entry
Carrying hydrazine thruster fuel
The operation went ahead hours after the space shuttle Atlantis landed, removing it as a safety issue for the military.
The satellite - believed by some commentators to be a radar imaging reconnaissance satellite - was passing about 130 nautical miles (250km) over the Pacific.
Earlier the military said it would use an SM-3 missile fired from the cruiser USS Lake Erie, which is posted on the western side of Hawaii along with the destroyers USS Decatur and USS Russell.
But it is not yet known how successful the operation was - the missile needed to pierce the bus-sized satellite's fuel tank, containing more than 450kg (1,000lbs) of toxic hydrazine, which would otherwise be expected to survive re-entry.
The Pentagon said confirmation that the fuel tank has been hit should be available within 24 hours.
US officials said without an attempt to destroy the fuel tank, and with the satellite's thermal control system gone, the fuel would now be frozen solid, allowing the tank to resist the heat of re-entry.
If the tank were to land intact, it could leak toxic gas over a wide area - harming or killing humans if inhaled, officials had warned.
Officials expect that over 50% of the debris will fall to Earth within the first 15 hours after the strike - or within its first two revolutions of Earth.
Left to its own devices, about half of the spacecraft would have been expected to survive the blazing descent through the atmosphere, scattering debris in a defined "corridor" which runs across the Earth's surface.
Professor Richard Crowther, a space debris expert with the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), said that if struck with the missile, about 25% of USA 193 is likely to survive the fall to Earth.
"The smaller the debris is the more likely you are to get burn-through. So if you fragment something before re-entry, less mass will survive to hit the Earth," he told BBC News.
But Russia's defence ministry has effectively branded the US operation a cover for testing an anti-satellite weapon.
The Russian defence ministry argued that various countries' spacecraft had crashed to Earth in the past, with many using toxic fuel on board, but that this had never before merited "extraordinary measures".
A spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry in Beijing, Liu Jianchao, said China was concerned about the "possible damage to security in outer space and to other countries".
"We demand that the US... swiftly brief the international community with necessary data and information in time, so that relevant countries can take preventative measures," he said.
Last year, China carried out a test using a ground-based ballistic missile to destroy a satellite in space, prompting international alarm and fears of a space arms race.
On Tuesday, a US State Department spokesman stressed that the action was meant to protect people from the hazardous fuel and was not a weapons test.
The US government has also denied claims that the main aim of the operation was to destroy secret components on USA 193.
Officials say classified parts would be burned up in the atmosphere and, in any case, that would not be a reason for shooting down the satellite.
| 1 SM-3 missile launched from a US Navy cruiser in Pacific Ocean |
2 The three-stage missile headed for collision location, where the relative "closing" speed was expected to be 10km/s (22,000mph)
3 Satellite came in range at altitude of 247km (133 nautical miles), close to edge of Earth's atmosphere
4 Missile made contact with satellite with objective of breaking fuel tank, freeing hydrazine into space
5 Much of the debris will burn up but an as yet unknown amount is expected to be scattered over hundreds of kilometres
quarta-feira, 20 de fevereiro de 2008
Parabéns à NASA e à tripulação da Atlantis.
terça-feira, 19 de fevereiro de 2008
FIRST FLORIDA OPPORTUNITY: Rev. 202 Deorbit to Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
12:45:00 AM...Crew wakeup
03:59:54 AM...Begin deorbit timeline
04:14:54 AM...Radiators stowed
04:24:54 AM...Mission specialists seat installation
04:30:54 AM...Computers set for deorbit prep
04:34:54 AM...Hydraulic system prepared for entry
04:59:54 AM...Flash evaporator cooling system checkout
05:05:54 AM...Final payload deactivation
05:19:54 AM...Payload bay doors closed
05:29:54 AM...Mission control 'go' for OPS-3 entry software load
05:39:54 AM...OPS-3 transition
06:04:54 AM...Entry switch list verification
06:14:54 AM...Deorbit burn update
06:19:54 AM...Crew entry review
06:34:54 AM...Commander/pilot don entry suits
06:51:54 AM...Inertial measurement unit alignment
06:59:54 AM...Commander/pilot strap in; others don suits
07:16:54 AM...Shuttle steering check
07:19:54 AM...Hydraulic power system prestart
07:26:54 AM...Toilet deactivation
07:34:54 AM...Payload bay vent doors closed for entry
07:39:54 AM...MIssion control 'go' for deorbit burn
07:45:54 AM...Mission specialists seat ingress
07:54:54 AM...Single hydraulic power unit start
07:59:54 AM...Deorbit ignition (dV: 197.7 mph; dT: 02:39)
08:02:33 AM...Deorbit burn complete (altitude: 211.6 sm)
08:35:59 AM...Atmospheric entry (altitude: 75.6 sm)
08:40:59 AM...1st roll command to left
08:52:05 AM...1st left-to-right roll reversal
08:54:00 AM...C-band radar acquisition
09:01:06 AM...Velocity less than mach 2.5 (altitude: 84,200 feet)
09:03:18 AM...Velocity less than mach 1 (altitude: 50,700 feet)
09:03:42 AM...Shuttle banks 301 degrees to line up on runway 33
SECOND FLORIDA OPPORTUNITY: Rev. 203 Deorbit to Kennedy
09:15:20 AM...Mission control 'go' for deorbit burn
09:21:20 AM...MS seat ingress
09:30:20 AM...Single APU start
09:35:20 AM...Deorbit ignition (dV: 195.7 mph; dT: 02:38)
09:37:58 AM...Deorbit burn complete (altitude: 214.5 sm)
10:11:00 AM...Entry interface (altitude: 75.6 sm)
10:15:57 AM...1st roll command to right
10:27:46 AM...1st right-to-left roll reversal
10:36:05 AM...Velocity less than mach 2.5 (altitude: 84,700 feet)
10:38:18 AM...Velocity less than mach 1 (altitude: 50,200 feet)
10:38:55 AM...Shuttle banks 269 degrees to line up on runway 33
FIRST CALIFORNIA OPPORTUNITY: Rev. 204 Deorbit to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.
10:45:15 AM...MCC 'go' for deorbit burn
10:51:15 AM...MS seat ingress
11:00:15 AM...Single APU start
11:05:15 AM...Deorbit ignition (dV: 195.7 mph; dT: 2:38
11:07:53 AM...Deorbit burn complete (altitude: 213.4 sm)
11:41:01 AM...Entry interface (altitude: 75.6 sm)
11:46:00 AM...1st roll command to left
11:55:55 AM...1st left-to-right roll reversal
12:06:06 PM...Velocity less than mach 2.5 (altitude: 81,800 feet)
12:08:19 PM...Velocity less than mach 1 (altitude: 49,400 feet)
12:09:24 PM...Shuttle banks 205 degrees to line up on runway 22
SECOND CALIFORNIA OPPORTUNITY: Rev. 205 Deorbit to Edwards
12:21:25 PM...MCC 'go' for deorbit burn
12:27:25 PM...MS seat ingress
12:36:25 PM...Single APU start
12:41:25 PM...Deorbit ignition (dV: 195.7 mph; dT: 02:38)
12:44:03 PM...Deorbit burn complete (altitude: 216.9 sm)
01:16:09 PM...Entry interface (altitude: 75.6 sm)
01:21:06 PM...1st roll command to right
01:32:39 PM...1st right-to-left roll reversal
01:41:10 PM...Velocity less than mach 2.5 (altitude: 82,700 feet)
01:43:25 PM...Velocity less than mach 1 (altitude: 48,800 feet)
01:44:34 PM...Shuttle banks 189 degrees to line up on runway 22
Link: Antigravity Research Corporation
B.C. inventor wants to put pop bottle rocket into orbit
Published: Sunday, February 17, 2008 | 3:42 PM ET
Canadian Press: Scott Sutherland, THE CANADIAN PRESS
CHILLIWACK, B.C. - Mr. Widget wants to go to space.
Ken Schellenberg, who has adopted the alter-ego on his company website, wants to put a simple but highly engineered bottle rocket into orbit.
Ken Schellenberg, shown in a handout photo, wants to put a simple but highly engineered bottle rocket into orbit. This could be impossible, but the CEO of antigravityresearch.com already holds the altitude record for boosting an elongated pop bottle - propelled by a bicycle pump, water and a bit of soap - into the air. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO
This could be impossible, but the CEO of AntiGravity Research already holds the altitude record for boosting an elongated plastic pop bottle - propelled by a bicycle pump, water and a bit of soap - into the air.
Firing the ubiquitous, two-litre plastic container usually consigned to the recycle bin into space might create a whole new definition for space junk, but the dream keeps Schellenberg going.
"I got side tracked off what I should have been doing, which is electrical engineering," said the red-headed, 49-year-old father of five.
"I named the company before I had anything to do and people still call wondering if we've got a (Star Trek-style) transporter ready or if we've been able to defy gravity in the way that people think of anti gravity.
"I tell them 'No,' but we're hoping to stumble across that sometime soon."
From a large workshop in a pasture behind his home on a wooded mountain plateau high above the Fraser River valley, Schellenberg designs and builds "state-of-the-art-technology" pop-bottle rockets.
They're made by attaching plastic or cardboard fins to an empty bottle, punching a hole in the bottle top to act as a nozzle and pressurizing the bottle with air from a bicycle pump.
Add some water before pumping in the air and the bottle will go higher. Add a squirt of dish soap to the water and it goes even higher.
Schellenberg's two-stage model is easily capable of reaching altitudes of well over 200 metres.
Several years ago, one of his "toy" rockets - actually a Kevlar-reinforced, experimental, single-stage missile pressurized with compressed nitrogen and packing high-tech instruments - flew to just under 379 metres.
Based on that research, Schellenberg is now convinced that it will be possible to put a bottle rocket into orbit. In preparation, he's working on sending a modified two-stage rocket - reinforced with ultra-strong carbon-fibre and fuelled by liquid CO2 - up about five kilometres.
"I've already got the thing half-built," he said.
But he won't be launching that from his pasture near Chilliwack.
He acknowledged he'll need a proper site where passing airplanes would not be at risk - something along the lines of the military test facility at Cold Lake, Alta.
He said he'd definitely look for an organization to sanction the attempt at a new record, but he said these things always take time.
"It always takes me 10 times longer than I thought," he admits. "On the last world record I figured it would take a month, and it was about two years."
The first record-setting launch is documented at antigravityresearch.com, where Schellenberg sells a variety of one-and two-stage rocket kits, plus accessories like his China-built bicycle pump which he says "is the best in the world."
The website also features a dozen or so madcap movies, featuring Schellenberg as Mr. Widget in a white lab coat and heavy-framed glasses with the pre-requisite adhesive tape repairs.
In person, however, Schellenberg is soft-spoken and extremely self-effacing.
A graduate of the British Columbia Institute of Technology, he spent more than 20 years as a designer in the digital world, focusing mainly on micro-controller data loggers.
But he said he got bored with the work, while becoming fascinated by bottle rockets.
"They're simple," he said.
"You fill them with a little bit of water and you pump them up with air and then they fly way up and then come back down."
His shop is filled with machines he has modified or built himself.
Think Wallace and Gromit without Gromit.
One homemade contraption turns out the rocket's three stabilizing fins. It's pieced together with masonry nails welded to motorcycle chains that pull a sheet of meat-tray material through modified, $40 pancake griddles from Wal-Mart.
The griddles heat the thin-foam plastic, then the plastic advances to where a tiny vacuum tube holds on while a heated wire cuts the outline of the piece.
The vacuum then reverses to blow the completed component into a bin. The waste is sent off the end of the machine into another bin to be recycled.
The machine isn't pretty and plywood and auto-body filler are used extensively.
"If there was a place to go and buy a machine like this I would have. But there isn't, so I had to figure it out myself."
A metre away, another contraption heats a standard two-litre bottle and an extendible steel rod stretches it into a more aerodynamic shape. The bottle is then cooled to keep its shape.
Schellenberg has been making his primary living with AntiGravity for seven years through sales almost entirely on the web, although he does some consulting and still considers himself a part-time hay farmer.
He said schools are among his customers - the rockets are ideal for teaching physics.
"Acceleration, velocity, mass, thrust, all those good things that teachers try so hard to teach the kids," he says.
He has also sold large numbers of rockets to American Honda Corp. for use in management training courses, to Whirlpool Corporation for a program with the Boy Scouts, to mechanical engineering departments of universities, and to the U.S. Army.
Part of the selling point is safety.
"With (my) rockets, there's no burning fuel. The pressurized bottle is 25 feet away from you and the pump, so if the bottle should burst it's a good safe distance and at only 60 grams, if falls and hits anyone it doesn't hurt."
He knows because he's tested it himself with rockets falling from as high as 100 metres.
"I tested it in stages," he said. "If a baseball falls 6 inches on to your head, that really hurts, whereas a rocket of this type falling 300 feet doesn't hurt a bit."
AntiGravity's motto is: "Ongoing research projects of little or no gravity."
Orbit would be the best fulfillment of that. And Schellenberg says he sincerely believe's he'll get there.
"Well, perhaps sincere might be the wrong word. Overly optimistic might be better. It certainly looks possible," he says with a grin, trailing off.
segunda-feira, 18 de fevereiro de 2008
O regresso à terra da Atlantis está previsto para quarta-feira, e estão activados os locais de aterragem na Flórida e na Califórnia. A NASA pretende assegurar a aterragem em segurança do Shuttle com alguma folga, antes da Marinha tentar abater o satélite de espionagem que está em queda há várias semanas.
No video abaixo, o astronauta Dan Tani está no centro, com a camisa verde-escura.
1:24 PM, 2/17/08, Update
The Atlantis astronauts gathered for a final time aboard the international space station today, bidding the lab crew farewell in a tearful ceremony that marked the end of a complex assembly mission. After one last round of hugs and handshakes, the shuttle crew floated back into Atlantis and hatches were sealed at 1:03 p.m. to set the stage for undocking early Monday.
The brief farewell was particularly poignant for Dan Tani, returning to Earth after an extended four-month stay in space. Originally scheduled to return in December, Tani's stay aloft was extended two months after Atlantis was grounded in December with fuel sensor problems. Along with missing the holidays with his family, Tani was in orbit when his 90-year-old mother was killed in a Dec. 19 car wreck.
"Dan has done a phenomenal job over the last several months," said station commander Peggy Whitson. "He was here a few months more than he had originally planned on, but he's really made up for it and done an incredible job while he was here."
Tani took a moment to describe his impressions of the space station, saying "today I feel very optimistic about our space program and our society because I'm here, I've spent time with a man from France, from Italy and from Germany and from Russia. Nations that have not always been friendly are now cooperating and we're doing great things."
"That was the first thing I was thinking about today," he said. "The other thing I was thinking about today was women, and it's been a very big topic on this flight because when I flew up there were two women commanders and for whatever reason, that was huge news. The unspoken news there was they were both fantastically great commanders and it was a privilege to fly with both of them.
"The other thing I was thinking about today was my mother... my inspiration," Tani said, choking back tears. "And of course, my job is easy compared to my wife's. Jane's the love of my life and she had the hard work while I was having fun. So I can't wait to get back to her and my two little girls.
"If we were in Russia, this would be the third toast - the toast for the women in our lives. I've enjoyed all my time here and I can't wait to get back with all my pictures and videos. So thank you so much for all your help on the ground and really, we couldn't have done it without you. We're doing magnificent things up here and it's not us, of course, we're just the tip. It's the solid foundation everybody on the ground provides for us and makes us look good. Thank you very much."
Tani was replaced aboard the space station by European Space Agency astronaut Leopold Eyharts, who plans to remain aboard the outpost until late March activating and carrying out experiments in Europe's new Columbus research module.
Taking the microphone from Tani, Eyharts said "Dan is a great guy, I've been very impressed by the experience he acquired here in the space station. It was really a pleasure and an honor to receive the handover from him and I hope that in a few weeks, I will be able to do one hundredth of what he is able to do today."
Said Atlantis commander Steve Frick: "For the shuttle crew of Atlantis, STS-122, it was our privilege to bring Leo up to his new home. ... And it's very much our privilege to take Dan home after such a long stay up here and so much hard work. We're looking forward to a very short rest of the flight and a successful landing at the Kennedy Space Center (Wednesday).
"It's been an amazing experience for us," Frick said. "We were very privileged to bring up the European Columbus laboratory module and we're incredibly excited to see it with the lights on and ready for action. So Peggy, thanks very much for being our host. We raced as hard as we could trying to keep up with you and now we need to go take a rest!"
"All right, guys, it's been great having you here," Whitson replied. The two crews then separated and hatches betwen Atlantis and the station were closed.
The shuttle astronauts are scheduled to go to bed at 4:45 p.m. Wakeup is scheduled for 12:45 a.m. Monday. For readers interested in looking ahead, here is the latest undocking timeline (in EST and mission elapsed time):
03:38 AM...10...12...53...Station in undocking attitude
03:54 AM...10...13...09...ISS KU antenna parked
04:15 AM...10...13...30...Russian solar arrays feathered
04:20 AM...10...13...35...U.S. solar arrays feathered
04:29 AM...10...13...44...ISS holds attitude
04:32 AM...10...13...47...Range: 50 feet
04:34 AM...10...13...49...Range 75 feet
04:39 AM...10...13...54...Russian arrays resume sun track
04:56 AM...10...14...11...Range: 400 feet; start fly around
05:06 AM...10...14...21...Range: 600 feet
05:08 AM...10...14...23...Shuttle directly above ISS
05:19 AM...10...14...34...Shuttle directly behind ISS
05:31 AM...10...14...46...Shuttle directly below ISS
05:42 AM...10...14...57...Shuttle direcly in front of ISS
05:42 AM...10...14...57...Separation burn No. 1
06:10 AM...10...15...25...Separation burn No. 2
"I love living here on the station, it's comfortable, it's fun, it's exciting, the view, of course," Tani told reporters Saturday. "So it's going to be tough leaving here, but obviously, I want to get back to see my family.
"I look forward to some odd things," he added. "I look forward to putting food on a plate and eating several things at once, which you can't do up here. I'm looking forward to spitting my toothpaste out in a sink rather than swallowing it. And of course, the most (significant) thing I'm looking forward to is seeing my (two) girls and my wife."
sexta-feira, 15 de fevereiro de 2008
quinta-feira, 14 de fevereiro de 2008
Claro que o objectivo público é evitar que o seu combustível tóxico possa eventualmente afectar a saúde das pessoas que estejam próximo do local da queda. Mas não sejamos ingénuos, uma ordem do Presidente Bush ao Pentágono nunca seria dada com objectivos tão banais, tão humanitários...
Há 20 anos foram feitos, pelos EUA, testes com armas anti-satélites (ASAT) lançadas a partir de caças F-15 (à direita). No entanto não deverá ser esta a arma usada para tentar abater o satélite em queda. Deverá ser usado um Standard Missile 3, da US Navy.
Posts anteriores: 1, 2
U.S. to launch missile at broken spy satellite
WASHINGTON - President Bush has ordered the Pentagon to use a Navy missile to attempt to destroy a broken U.S. spy satellite — and thereby minimize the risk to humans from its toxic fuel — by intercepting it just before it re-enters the atmosphere, officials said Thursday.
The effort — the first of its kind — will be undertaken because of the potential that people in the area where the satellite would otherwise crash could be harmed, the officials said.
Deputy National Security Adviser James Jeffrey, briefing reporters at the Pentagon, did not say when the attempted intercept would be conducted, but the satellite is expected to hit Earth during the first week of March.
"This is all about trying to reduce the danger to human beings," Jeffrey said.
Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at the same briefing that the "window of opportunity" for such a shootdown, presumably to be launched from a Navy ship, will open in the next three or four days and last for seven or eight days. He did not say whether the Pentagon has decided on an exact launch date.
Cartwright said this will be an unprecedented effort; he would not say exactly what are the odds of success.
"This is the first time we've used a tactical missile to engage a spacecraft," Cartwright said.
After extensive study and analysis, U.S. officials came to the conclusion that, "we're better off taking the attempt than not," Cartwright said.
He said a Navy missile known as Standard Missile 3 would be fired in an attempt to intercept the satellite just prior to it re-entering Earth's atmosphere. It would be "next to impossible" to hit the satellite after that because of atmospheric disturbances, Cartwright said.
Standard Missile 3
A second goal, he said, is to directly hit the fuel tank in order to minimize the amount of fuel that returns to Earth.
Software associated with the Standard Missile 3 has been modified to enhance the chances of the missile's sensors recognizing that the satellite is its target; he noted that the missile's designed mission is to shoot down ballistic missiles, not satellites. Other officials said the missile's maximum range, while a classified figure, is not great enough to hit a satellite operating in normal orbits.
"It's a one-time deal," Cartwright said when asked whether the modified Standard Missile 3 should be considered a new U.S. anti-satellite weapon technology.
Cartwright also said that if an initial shootdown attempt fails, a decision will be made whether to take a second shot.
Jeffrey said members of Congress were briefed on the plan earlier Thursday and that diplomatic notifications to other countries would be made before the end of the day.
Shooting down a satellite is particularly sensitive because of the controversy surrounding China's anti-satellite test last year, when Beijing shot down one of its defunct weather satellites, drawing immediate criticism from the U.S. and other countries.
A key concern at that time was the debris created by Chinese satellite's destruction — and that will also be a focus now, as the U.S. determines exactly when and under what circumstances to shoot down its errant satellite.
The military will have to choose a time and a location that will avoid to the greatest degree any damage to other satellites in the sky. Also, there is the possibility that large pieces could remain, and either stay in orbit where they can collide with other satellites or possibly fall to Earth.
It is not known where the satellite will hit. But officials familiar with the situation say about half of the 5,000-pound spacecraft is expected to survive its blazing descent through the atmosphere and will scatter debris — some of it potentially hazardous — over several hundred miles. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
The satellite is outfitted with thrusters — small engines used to position it in space. They contain the toxic rocket fuel hydrazine, which can cause harm to anyone who contacts it. Officials have said there is about 1,000 pounds of propellent on the satellite.
Known by its military designation US 193, the satellite was launched in December 2006. It lost power and its central computer failed almost immediately afterward, leaving it uncontrollable. It carried a sophisticated and secret imaging sensor.
quarta-feira, 13 de fevereiro de 2008
Há tantos, mas tantos vídeos amadores deste lançamento, que eu gostaria que fossem todos etiquetados como 'vídeos amadores', para os poder ver todos! Como podem ver, há desde vídeos banais a vídeos espetaculares, e nem consigo imaginar o que possa estar a perder! Parabéns a todos os que se deram ao trabalho de fazer estes vídeos espetaculares!
terça-feira, 12 de fevereiro de 2008
domingo, 10 de fevereiro de 2008
Há dois pontos importantes nesta situação:
- o satélite transporta materiais 'tóxicos'. Não foi especificado o que é que a palavra 'tóxico' quer dizer neste caso, embora se sugira que possa ser uma alusão ao combustível hipergólico hidrazina, usado no posicionamento de satélites e naves espaciais. Mas não poderemos excluír a possibilidade de ser um satélite equipado com tecnologia nuclear, como o são muitos satélites de espionagem.
- o satélite está equipado com tecnologia altamente secreta, que o governo dos EUA não deseja ver caír em mãos erradas. Poderá ser de prever um certo espetáculo mediático na busca pelos pedaços do satélite, sobretudo se este caír em terra e não no mar.
Dead satellite to hit Earth in early March
WASHINGTON - A dead U.S. spy satellite in a deteriorating orbit is expected to hit the Earth the first week of March, officials said Thursday.
It is not known where on Earth the satellite will hit. But officials familiar with the situation say about half of the 5,000-pound spacecraft is expected to survive its blazing descent through the atmosphere and will scatter debris — some of it potentially hazardous — over several hundred miles. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
The satellite is outfitted with thrusters, small engines used to position it in space, that contain the toxic rocket fuel hydrazine. Hydrazine can cause harm to anyone who contacts it.
The satellite, known by its military designation US 193, was launched in December 2006. It lost power and its central computer failed almost immediately afterward, leaving it uncontrollable. It carried a sophisticated and secret imaging sensor.
U.S. officials do not want this equipment to fall into the wrong hands.
"The Chinese and the Russians spend an enormous amount of time trying to steal American technology," said John Pike, a defense and intelligence expert. "To have our most sophisticated radar intelligence satellite — have big pieces of it fall into their hands — would not be our preferred outcome."
Where it lands will be difficult to predict until the satellite descends to about 59 miles above the Earth and enters the atmosphere. It will then begin to burn up, with flares visible from the ground, said Ted Molczan, a Canadian satellite tracker. From that point on, he said, it will take about 30 minutes to fall.
In the past 50 years about 17,000 manmade objects have re-entered the Earth's atmosphere. The largest uncontrolled re-entry by a NASA spacecraft was Skylab, the 78-ton abandoned space station that fell from orbit in 1979. Its debris dropped harmlessly into the Indian Ocean and across a remote section of western Australia.
In 2000, NASA engineers successfully directed a safe de-orbit of the 17-ton Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, using rockets aboard the satellite to bring it down in a remote part of the Pacific Ocean.
In 2002, officials believe debris from a 7,000-pound science satellite smacked into the Earth's atmosphere and rained down over the Persian Gulf, a few thousand miles from where they first predicted it would plummet.
Short-term exposure to hydrazine could cause coughing, irritated throat and lungs, convulsions, tremors or seizures, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Long-term exposure could damage the liver, kidney and reproductive organs.
Uma das medidas de observação mais espetaculares é esta manobra, designada Rendezvous Pitch Maneuver (RPM), que é executada antes do Shuttle atracar com a Estação Espacial Internacional (ISS). A manobra, que dura cerca de 10 minutos, consiste básicamente numa rotação completa do Shuttle, à vista da ISS, para que astronautas a bordo da Estação Espacial possam tirar o maior número de fotografias possível, com máquinas fotográficas digitais de muito alta resolução, e com teleobjetivas de grande comprimento focal, para que se possam obter o maior número de dados acerca de possíveis danos. Estas imagens são posteriormente enviadas para Terra e analisadas durante vários dias, para detectar eventuais problemas.
Aqui fica o vídeo da RPM da Atlantis, antes de atracar com a ISS ontem, Sábado.
A equipa que iria começar a montagem do Columbus foi alterada, porque o Schlegel fazia parte dessa equipa.
Poderá não ser nada de grave, a maioria dos astronautas sofre indisposições de maior ou menor gravidade quando entram num ambiente de gravidade zero, aguardemos eventuais informações futuras.
- Email da CBS Space News
CBS Space News
5:20 PM, 2/9/08, Update: Spacewalk delayed 24 hours by crew medical issue; Schlegel to be replaced by Love on first spacewalk; Shannon confirms mission extension, refuses to discuss reasons for delay
In a surprise announcement, flight controllers today told the shuttle-station astronauts shortly after Atlantis docked with the lab complex to delay a planned Sunday spacewalk - and installation of the new Columbus research module - by 24 hours, extending Atlantis' mission by one day because of a crew medical issue.
German astronaut Hans Schlegel, originally scheduled to join Rex Walheim for the first of three spacewalks planned for the mission, will be replaced by astronaut Stan Love when the module is attached on Monday. No reason was given for the delay and astronaut swap, but the shuttle crew requested two private medical conferences with flight surgeons earlier today.
NASA does not discuss astronaut health issues, citing concern about medical privacy issues, and John Shannon, chairman of NASA's Mission Management Team, refused to provide any details at an afternoon briefing.
"It's not life threatening," Shannon said, refusing to identify which astronaut was involved.
The shuttle docked with the space station at 12:17 p.m. but because of technical issues, only a few minutes of live video were downlinked. Late today, the astronauts replayed videotape showing the shuttle crew entering the station and Schlegel did not show any clear signs of discomfort.
"There was a medical issue with the crew," Shannon said during his briefing. "The flight surgeons - of course, we have flight surgeons who are closely involved with the crew at all times, they do private medical conferences with the crew throughout the mission - the crew called down and asked for one during the rendezvous, which was a little bit of a surprise to us. They talked to the crew members, they understood what the issue was. I will just say it is not going to impact any of the objectives of this mission."
But it will have a mission impact. The first of the three spacewalks planned for Atlantis' mission, originally scheduled for Sunday by Walheim and Schlegel, was devoted to helping attach the European Space Agency's Columbus research lab to the station. That work now will be delayed one day and Love, who is not believed to have trained as extensively for the work as Schlegel, will assist Walheim. Love already planned to join Walheim for the mission's third spacewalk.
Citing medical privacy concerns, Shannon repeatedly refused to answer any questions about the nature of the medical issue, including whether the astronauts face any sort of contagious threat or whether Schlegel might be available for the second spacewalk of the mission, now targeted for Wednesday.
"You guys can fish all day, but I won't bite," Shannon said.
But about half the men and women who fly in space suffer nausea and other vestibular problems known collectively as space adaptation syndrome. But those symptoms typically go away by the second or third day of a mission as the astronaut becomes accustomed to the effects of weightlessness. Whether Schlegel, a 57-year-old German and father of seven making his second shuttle flight, was suffering from SAS was not known.
There are at least two prior cases of crew illness interferring with a U.S. spacewalk. During Apollo 9, a shakedown flight for NASA's lunar lander, Rusty Schweickart became ill in orbit, forcing a one-day delay for a planned spacewalk. An EVA planned for the fifth shuttle mission was called off because of a crew health issue.
Shannon said astronaut Leland Melvin, making his first flight, is the designated crew medical officer on board Atlantis and as such is "experienced in a variety of medical procedures. We carry a kit on board that has several different types of medicines and different medical capabilities and the crew is in constant contact with the flight surgeons on the ground. The flight surgeons know all about each crew members' medical history. It's something that's very well prepared for."
Shannon said Atlantis has plenty of supplies to support the one-day mission extension and, with additional power downs ordered late today, probably enough for a second day. NASA went into the flight planning to extend it by one day anyway to give the astronauts more time to activate the Columbus module.
The undisclosed medical issue "will cause us to re-arrange a few activities," Shannon said. "I think you heard it called up to the crew a little bit earlier that we're going to delay EVA number one by one day and it will be executed on flight day five. They also called up that Stan Love will replace Hans Schlegel as an EVA crew member.
"Stan has practiced all the activities of EVA-1 extensively and we talked it over with the crew and they're very happy with that and that's how we're going to go execute it," Shannon said. "So no impacts to the mission objectives, we just need to re-arrange some of the crew activities and when they happen. You might remember we went into this flight with one additional day we could add to it and we are very close to having a second day based on how we use the cryogenic consumables that produce electricity.
"We asked the team, since we are essentially going to use that one extension day tomorrow as a day for the team to prepare for EVA number one, we asked the team to power down the orbiter just a little bit more than they had planned pre flight to make sure we can get that second additional extension day. We have not decided to add that, but we're preserving the option to add it later on. If we don't add it, then that will just be more oxygen we can transfer over to the international space station."
Otherwise, Shannon said Atlantis is in good condition and that so far, no major problems have emerged during analysis of ascent and on-orbit photography of the shuttle's protective heat shield.
A small corner of one insulation blanket midway back on the shuttle's right side orbital maneuvering system rocket pod is pulled up and under study, but Shannon said it did not appear to be a serious problem
"Nobody is very excited about this one," he said. "It is in a much different position (than a blanket that was repaired on Atlantis' last flight). ... This is really shadowed by the pod, it's also shadowed by the wing. It does not see a very significant thermal environment. I don't expect this to be an issue but the team will continue to work it."
The only other issue of any significance involves one of Atlantis' flight computers, general purpose computer No. 3. GPC-3 failed to properly transition from "standby" to "run" when the astronauts powered up the full redundant set as part of their normal rendezvous procedures earlier today. Engineers believe the computer is healthy, Shannon said, but troubleshooting was deferred until after docking.
Shannon said engineers plan to read out the computer's memory to verify no hardware problems exist and then they will re-load flight software and in all likelihood, "it'll be just as good as new."
Flight planners are in the process of developing an alternate flight plan for Sunday. A revised NASA television schedule will be posted as soon as it becomes available.
Astronaut illness forces delay in spacewalk
HOUSTON - The astronauts aboard the linked shuttle and space station geared up to inspect a damaged thermal blanket on Atlantis on Sunday after their main job — installing the Columbus lab — was delayed a day because of a crew medical problem.
German astronaut Hans Schlegel was pulled off the first spacewalk of the mission shortly after he arrived at the international space station Saturday aboard Atlantis. Managers bumped the spacewalk and Columbus’ hookup to the space station to Monday.
NASA declined to discuss the medical problem beyond saying it was not life-threatening, but a European flight controller confirmed Sunday that Schlegel was ill.
“We’re all keeping our fingers crossed for him to get better soon,” he said.
Schlegel, 56, a two-time space flier, sounded OK on Sunday morning when he spoke to Mission Control after waking up to music from fellow German Herbert Gronemeyer.
“Greetings to everybody in America, in Europe and in Germany, and especially of course to my close family and my lovely wife, Heike,” he said.
Schlegel was supposed to venture outside with American Rex Walheim on the first two of three planned spacewalks. His status on the second spacewalk, on Wednesday, was still uncertain.
The Columbus lab should have been unloaded from Atlantis and attached to the space station on Sunday, with two spacewalkers outside to help. Mission Control informed the astronauts that the installation would not take place until Monday just a few hours after the shuttle and the station joined up.
NASA said Schlegel’s shuttle crewmate, American Stanley Love, would take his place. Love trained for the work as a backup, just in case, and already was assigned to the mission’s third spacewalk, along with Walheim.
Shuttle commander Stephen Frick asked Mission Control on Sunday to clear Schlegel’s schedule the following day so he could help guide Love from inside the station.
After spending much of the morning preparing for Monday’s spacewalk, the crew will use cameras and a robotic arm to gather more images of a 1½ inch-by-1½ inch protrusion on one of the many blankets covering Atlantis’ right orbital maneuvering system pod, back near the tail.
The damage occurred during Thursday’s launch and was discovered Friday, flight director Mike Sarafin said.
Precise problem with blanket unclear
Space station flight director Ron Spencer said early Sunday that NASA did not know if the blanket was torn or if it was just sticking up a bit.
Engineers were trying to determine whether the damage posed a hazard for re-entry at flight’s end. The peeled-up section is smaller than one that required spacewalking repairs to Atlantis in June.
NASA is particularly attentive to the shuttle’s thermal shielding, ever since Columbia was destroyed during re-entry in 2003.
The delay in installing Columbus and carrying out the first spacewalk caused NASA to add a 12th day to the mission. Yet another day could be added; NASA had hoped to spend an extra day at the space station to help set up Columbus. Atlantis will remain at the orbiting complex until at least next weekend.
sábado, 9 de fevereiro de 2008
Não me farto destas imagens espetaculares, da tecnologia mais avançada que existe rodeada pela Natureza e pelo mar e céu azuis! Poucos se aperceberão de quão complexa é uma máquina como o Space Shuttle. É um verdadeiro milagre de organização, logística, engenharia e tecnologia, que uma máquina destas se consiga erguer no céu azul de forma aparentemente tão simples!
Como sempre, mais uma vez os meus parabéns à NASA e a todos os seus empregados! É genial o trabalho que fazem!
quinta-feira, 7 de fevereiro de 2008
Liftoff! Atlantis rockets into the sky
Atlantis and its seven-man crew roared away from their seaside launch pad at 2:45 p.m., overcoming fuel gauge problems that thwarted back-to-back launch attempts in December.
The same cold front that spawned killer tornadoes across the South earlier in the week stayed far enough away and, in the end, cut NASA a break. All week, bad weather had threatened to delay the flight, making liftoff all the sweeter for the shuttle team. The sky was cloudy at launch time, but rain and thunderstorms remained off to the west.
"All systems are go," launch director Doug Lyons told the astronauts. "I'd like to wish you a successful mission and safe return."
Replied shuttle commander Stephen Frick: "Looks like today's a good day, and we're ready to go fly."
Twenty-three years in the making, Columbus is the European Space Agency's primary contribution to the space station. The lab has endured space station redesigns and slowdowns, as well as a number of shuttle postponements and two shuttle accidents.
It will join the U.S. lab, Destiny, in orbit for seven years. The much bigger Japanese lab Kibo, or Hope, will require three shuttle flights to get off the ground, beginning in March.
Frick, and his U.S., German and French crew will reach the space station on Saturday and begin installing Columbus the very next day. Three spacewalks are planned during the flight, scheduled to last 11 or, more likely, 12 days.
Besides Columbus, Atlantis will drop off a new space station resident, French Air Force Gen. Leopold Eyharts, who will swap places with NASA astronaut Daniel Tani and get Columbus working. Tani will return to Earth aboard the shuttle, ending a mission of nearly four months.
To NASA's relief, all four fuel gauges in Atlantis' external fuel tank worked properly during the final stage of the countdown. The gauges failed back in December because of a faulty connector, and NASA redesigned the part to fix the problem, which had been plaguing the shuttles for three years.
NASA was anxious to get Atlantis flying as soon as possible to keep alive its hopes of achieving six launches this year. The space agency faces a 2010 deadline for finishing the station and retiring the shuttles. That equates to four or five shuttle flights a year between now and then, something NASA Administrator Michael Griffin considers achievable.
"We're coming back, and I think we are back, from some pretty severe technical problems that led to the loss of Columbia. We understand the foam now," NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said, referring to the chunks of insulating foam that kept breaking off the fuel tanks.
Barring any more major mechanical trouble or freak hailstorms like the one that battered Atlantis's fuel tank one year ago, "this should be like some of those earlier times when we had some fairly interrupted stretches with no technical problems where we could just fly," Griffin said in an interview with The Associated Press. "That's what I'm looking forward to."
domingo, 3 de fevereiro de 2008
Hoje, 5 anos depois, ser-lhes-á prestada mais uma homenagem a bordo da próxima missão do Space Shuttle Atlantis, que deverá ter o seu lançamento já no dia 7.
Um minuto de silêncio não poderá nunca fazer justiça a estes grandes homens e mulheres, que deram as suas vidas por algo em que realmente acreditavam, a mais nobre e válida de todas as empresas humanas - a exploração do Espaço. Por isso proponho que reflictamos sobre eles e sobre nós, e no que poderemos fazer para merecermos as vidas de heróis como estes 7 astronautas.
Remembering Columbia, five years later
NASA has launched seven shuttle missions since the loss of seven astronauts aboard Columbia five years ago, but the disaster still resonates as the space program prepares for its most ambitious year yet since it resumed orbiter flight.
Beginning with the Atlantis orbiter's planned Feb. 7 launch to the international space station, NASA hopes to launch up to six shuttle flights this year — five of them dedicated to orbital construction. The lessons from Columbia, however, are always close by, mission managers said.
"I think every day about Columbia and how that came about, and how we can prevent similar events," NASA's shuttle chief Wayne Hale said this week, attributing the accident to what Apollo astronaut Frank Borman called a "failure of imagination."
Legacy of Columbia
Columbia broke apart while re-entering the Earth's atmosphere early on the morning of Feb. 1, 2003, bringing a tragic end to what had until then been a successful 16-day science mission. The shuttle's destruction claimed the lives of mission commander Rick Husband, pilot Willie McCool and mission specialists Michael Anderson, Kalpana Chawla, David Brown, Laurel Clark and Ilan Ramon — Israel's first astronaut.
Months later, investigators would trace the physical cause of the accident to a suitcase-sized chunk of foam that popped free from Columbia's external fuel tank during its launch. The foam punched a hole in the orbiter's heat shield along its left wing leading edge, leaving it vulnerable to the superheated atmospheric gases during re-entry.
Investigators also faulted NASA's internal culture for contributing the accident, a point the space agency has worked hard ever since to prevent from resurfacing.
"I think we had a culture that was very adversarial in a lot of ways, where bad news was not particularly well received," Hale told Space.com, adding that the agency has since strived to foster more open communications. "I think that has allowed a lot of the workforce to feel much more comfortable in bringing things forward that they would have been more hesitant to in the old days."
NASA held an official Day of Remembrance on Thursday to recall Columbia's crew, as well as astronauts killed in the Challenger accident in 1986, the 1967 Apollo 1 fire and others who died in the pursuit of space exploration.
Astronauts, agency officials, dignitaries and Columbia crew family members gathered at a public memorial service Friday at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor's Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla.
"I'm amazed that it's been five years," Evelyn Husband-Thomas, the widow of Columbia's commander, said during the service. "This morning I could not stop thinking about Rick and Willie, and Kalpana and Mike and Laurel and Ilan. All of our families went through so much that day. We so miss them and we will never forget them."
NASA chief Michael Griffin stressed that the agency must always remember that human lives, and the nation's space program, ride on its daily decisions.
"The more we remember those real reasons, the longer it will be before we have another cause for mourning," Griffin said in a statement.
Returning to flight
NASA returned its shuttle fleet to flight in July 2005 after spending more than two years and $1.4 billion to develop new heat shield inspection and safety tools. That year, the agency flew one shuttle flight and followed with three more 2006, and another three in 2007.
Former astronaut Eileen Collins, who commanded NASA's first post-Columbia mission STS-114, said the accident taught her that spaceflight is more dangerous and complicated than she realized. But it did not damper her support for the endeavor, she said.
"I believe that one of the most important things that we're doing as a country, if not the most important thing, is leaving our planet and exploring space," Collins said.
Astronauts now use a sensor-tipped extension of their shuttle's robotic arm to scan for heat shield damage in orbit. Before a shuttle docks at the space station, station astronauts make a complete photographic survey of its heat shield, then return the images to Earth for analysis. Meanwhile, engineers continue to develop new tools, some of which will be tested during shuttle flights this year, while tweaking orbiter fuel tanks to reduce the risk of foam debris like that which struck down Columbia.
"There seems to be a lean towards excessive caution," said John Logsdon, director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University, in an interview.
Logsdon said that, unlike its post-Challenger years, NASA has not slid back into a complacency or comfort zone during the last five years of shuttle flight.
The fact that the agency delayed Atlantis' launch from early December to next week to identify and fix a recurring fuel gauge sensor glitch is an example of its reinvigorated approach to safety, Logsdon said.
"They were tempted to say these sensors weren't needed, but they didn't," Logsdon said of the sensors, which serve as a backup system to shut down an orbiter's main engines before their fuel tank runs dry.
Continuing the track record
Logsdon said much of the shuttle's success since Columbia lies with top NASA leaders like Griffin and Hale, who have demonstrated a scrupulous and strong commitment to safety.
Their successors, he hopes, will continue that track record as NASA retires its three remaining space shuttles to make way for their capsule-based successor — the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle and its Ares rockets.
"Someday, historians will look back at our hardware and our technology and consider it primitive and risky, just as we look back at the early sailing ships and shake our head," William Gerstenmaier, head of NASA space operations, said during Friday's memorial.
He noted that those early explorers nevertheless accomplished amazing feats. "We do not fully know what our efforts in space will enable for future generation. But if we carefully and creatively apply our technology and accept some risk, the benefits to future generations are unlimited," he said.
NASA plans to retire the shuttle fleet by September 2010 after flying up to 13 more shuttle flights to complete station construction and overhaul the Hubble Space Telescope.
"I think you can carry attitudes over," Logsdon said of the shift to a new spacecraft. "And that new system is designed to be a much safer system."