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Love & Rockets Your Local Astronomer SubOrbital

Love & Rockets

NASA Shuttle, ISS; ESA Mission Local Info 

These are previous posts: 

From Antares developer Orbital ATK: 

Orbital ATK human spaceflight systems web page


Orbital ATK OA-5 mission fact sheet (PDF)


Orbital ATK Cygnus fact sheet (PDF) 

Orbital ATK Cargo Resupply fact sheet (PDF)

The Cygnus module is named after Naval aviator Alan Poindexter (PDF)


Prepare for the Perseids!


Wallops Flight Facility

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. – NASA's Wallops Flight Facility provided launch range support for an Orbital Sciences Corp. Antares rocket engine test Feb. 22 at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport's Pad-0A. 
From NASA's Wallops Web site:  
WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. -- NASA commercial partner Orbital Sciences of Dulles, Va., successfully conducted an engine test of its Antares rocket Friday, February 22, at the nation's newest launch pad. 

The company fired dual AJ26 rocket engines for approximately 30 seconds while the first stage of Orbital's Antares rocket was held down on the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) Pad-0A at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Va. The test demonstrated the readiness of the rocket's first stage and launch pad fueling systems to support upcoming test flights. 
The test is a key milestone leading up to the first flight of the Antares rocket, which is preliminary scheduled for about four to six weeks following the completion of the engine test.  


Tentatively Scheduled for Launch - June, 2013
"Antares" Awaits 2nd  Stage
The First Stage rocket sits on the pad at Wallops Island. 
It was moved down from the Port of Wilmington, DE, recently. I am told it took about six hours to travel Route One south. . .  



NASA Shuttle, ISS, Local & ESA Mission Info

Swanson and his crewmates are scheduled to launch in late-March 2014. 
Expedition 39 will consist of the following crew members: 

-- Wakata, station commander 
-- Mastracchio, flight engineer 
-- Tyurin, flight engineer 
-- Swanson, flight engineer 
-- Alexander Skvortsov of Roscomos, flight engineer 
-- Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos, flight engineer 

Expedition 40 will begin in mid-May 2014. The second half of the crew 
is scheduled to launch in late-May 2014. Expedition 40 will consist 
of the following crew members: 

-- Swanson, station commander 
-- Skvortsov, flight engineer 
-- Artemyev, flight engineer 
-- Wiseman, flight engineer 
-- Maxim Suraev of Roscosmos, flight engineer 
-- Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency (ESA), flight engineer 

Expedition 41 will begin in September 2014. The remainder of the crew 
is scheduled to launch in October 2014. Expedition 41 will consist of 
the following crew members: 

-- Suraev, station commander 
-- Wiseman, flight engineer 
-- Gerst, flight engineer 
-- Wilmore, flight engineer 
-- Yelena Serova of Roscosmos, flight engineer 
-- Alexander Samoukutyaev of Roscosmos, flight engineer 

Expedition 42 will begin in mid-November 2014. The other half of the 
team is scheduled to launch in late-November 2014. Once on the 
station, Expedition 42 will include the following crew members: 

-- Wilmore, station commander 
-- Serova, flight engineer 
-- Samoukutyaev, flight engineer 
-- Virts, flight engineer 
-- Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA, flight engineer 

For complete astronaut biographical information, visit: 

For more information about the International Space Station, visit: 

To join the online conversation about the International Space Station 
and the men and women aboard, follow @NASA_Astronauts and the hashtag 
#ISS. To learn more about all the ways to connect and collaborate 
with NASA, visit: 


NASA's Launch Schedule features the planned dates and details for missions by NASA and the partner nations in the International Space Station Program, including Russia, European Space Agency and Japan. To learn more about how the schedule is arranged and what it includes, check out Launch Schedule 101. 


Next-Gen Ares I-X proves herself I-X/


My Google+ Hangout


DelMarVa Stargazers

Delaware AeroSpace Education Foundation

Satellite Visibility Predictions

for Dover, DE


International Space Station & Space Shuttle

Not near Dover?, Find your town

Watch satellites pass overhead from your backyard!

Under Sighting Opportunities, then Click on Country




Five Rockets in Five Minutes


Launch madness will hit the east coast in March as NASA launches five rockets in approximately five minutes to study the high-altitude jet stream from its Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

WALLOPS ISLAND, VA – NASA has rescheduled the launch of five suborbital sounding rockets from the Wallops Facility in Virginia as part of a study of the upper level jet stream to no earlier than the night of Saturday, March 17.

The high probability of unacceptable weather is preventing a launch attempt on March 16.

The Anomalous Transport Rocket Experiment (ATREX) will gather information needed to better understand the process responsible for the high-altitude jet stream located 60 to 65 miles above the surface of the Earth.

As part the mission, the five rockets will release a chemical tracer that will form milky, white clouds that allow scientists and the public to “see” the winds in space. These clouds may be visible for up to 20 minutes by residents from South Carolina to southern New Hampshire and Vermont.

A decision on a March 17 launch attempt will made late Friday afternoon, March 16.
The rockets must be launched on a clear night between March 14 and April 3. Scientists will then use special camera equipment to track the five clouds and measure how quickly they move away from each other. They can then plug this information into equations that will describe what kind of turbulence exists in the winds.

In order for the launches to occur, clear skies are required at three special camera sites located along the coast in Virginia, North Carolina and New Jersey.
The rockets being used for the mission are two Terrier-Improved Malemutes, two Terrier-Improved Orions and one Terrier-Oriole. In order for the launches to occur, clear skies are required at three special camera sites located along the coast in Virginia, North Carolina and New Jersey.

NASA has used TMA for decades as part of rocket studies from sites worldwide to study the near-space environment. TMA burns slowly and produces visible light that can be tracked visually and with special camera equipment.

The products of the reaction when TMA is exposed to air or water are aluminum oxide, carbon dioxide and water vapor. Aluminum oxides are used to combat heartburn and to purify drinking water. Also, all three products occur naturally in the atmosphere. The TMA poses no threat to the public during preparation on the ground or during the release in space.

To try to spot the sounding rocket trails, follow the launch status updates at:

***  Mission updates are available by telephone on the Wallops Information Line at (757) 824-2050

Rocket launches at WFF can be difficult to view due to the small size of some sounding rockets.  Travel plans should not be based strictly on launch schedules.  Times and dates can change due to weather and other factors.  Rocket launches can be viewed from WFF Visitor Center grounds during operation hours or from south-facing areas on Chincoteague and Assateague islands in Virginia.

+ Rocket launches can also be seen on the web: NASA WFF webcast

Researchers Identify Water Rich Meteorite Linked To Mars Crust
NASA-funded researchers analyzing a small meteorite that may be the first discovered from the Martian surface or crust have found it contains 10 times more water than other Martian meteorites from unknown origins.

This new class of meteorite was found in 2011 in the Sahara Desert. Designated Northwest Africa (NWA) 7034, and nicknamed "Black Beauty," it weighs approximately 11 ounces (320 grams). After more than a year of intensive study, a team of U.S. scientists determined the meteorite formed 2.1 billion years ago during the beginning of the most recent geologic period on Mars, known as the Amazonian. 
Space Shuttle Discovery Fly-In Day 
Discovery will be transported atop a NASA Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), 
a modified 747 jet, to Dulles International Airport in Virginia on April 17. 
After arriving at Dulles, Discovery will be removed from the SCA and moved 
to the Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy Center for permanent public display on April 19. 
For more information on the shuttle's preparations for public display, visit:

A number of operations related to the ferry flight, begins when the SCA arrives at Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility runway. That arrival currently is targeted for April 10.


All media accreditation requests must be submitted online at:



Mar. 12, 2012

HOUSTON -- Michael Lopez-Alegria, NASA's most experienced spacewalker and the American holding the record for the single longest paceflight mission, has left the agency.

Lopez-Alegria earned a spaceflight record. As the crew conducted a seven-month mission to operate, maintain, build and use the station and its science facilities. During the expedition, two uncrewed Russian Progress
cargo vehicles arrived and departed the station and a space shuttle assembly mission reconfigured the station's power supply. Lopez-Alegria's mission ended with a Soyuz landing on the Kazakh steppe on April 21, 2007.

For Lopez-Alegria's complete biography, visit:




MESSENGER's Flyby of Mercury
090929 Shortly before 5:55 p.m. EDT, MESSENGER skimmed 228 kilometers (141 miles) above the surface of Mercury in its third and final flyby of the planet. Radio signals received after the spacecraft emerged from behind the planet indicate that the spacecraft is operating nominally. Its instruments are collecting images and other scientific measurements as it departs Mercury.
M.O.I. - Mercury Orbital Insertion is scheduled March 18, 2011





August, - It must be summer, as the most well-known meteor shower of the year occurs in early August. The popularity of the Perseid Meteor Shower can be attributed to the fact that many families are vacationing. Taking some time off from the craziness of life. To just s-l-o-w down and maybe take some time and have a peak at the night sky.

And this year, meteor watchers will not be disappointed! New Moon falls on Sunday, August 12. The moon, thankfully, will not affect our enjoyment.

On Sunday evening, August 12 you may catch a few meteors coming from the Northeast around 10 p.m. local time. However, for the best meteor-viewing, plan on getting out before the first light of dawn. It is at this time the "radiant"; that place in the sky meteors "appear to radiate" from, will be highest. Which is where the contellation Perseus resides.

As well the meteor shower is predicted to peak around 2 a.m. ET Monday, August 13. That's 11 p.m. Sunday night for folks on the "Left" coast.

Meteors, or shooting stars, are the result of "itsy-bitsy" particles - no denser than dust, striking Earth's atmosphere at One Hundred Thirty Three Thousand Miles Per Hour! You read right - 133,000 MPH or 37 miles per second, if you like. You too, would burn up striking the atmosphere at that speed.

So where do these "itsy-bitsy" particles come from? In the case of the Perseids, the shower is the result of Earth sweeping into the very diffuse taillings of comet Swift-Tuttle, which swept through the solar system most recently in 1992, leaving in its wake a fresh batch of comet-dust

Read Joe Rao's fine piece on FoxNews for more on the Perseid Meteor Shower. Also known as "The Tears of Saint Lawrence."



Calculating the Date of Easter

Calculations for future dates of Easter and Ash Wednesday can be calculated at the U.S. Naval Observatory Web page:

Here are some future dates of Easter -

  • 2008 March 23
  • 2009 April 12
  • 2010 April 4
  • 2011 April 24

I hope you have found this interesting, and welcome your feedback. Feel free to contact me at StargazerM42 at


1. The Date of Easter, from the U.S. Naval Observatory Astronomical Applications Department. Retrieved 070408


To the memory of USMC MSgt. Harold D. Ghumm


Staff Sergeant Ghumm, I will never forget our days at Courthouse Bay.

A Fair, Just and Honorable Hero













Murdered by Hezbollah October 23, 1983



In the U.S. Marine Barracks, Beirut, Lebanon homocidal bombing
"Could we have anticipated the horror that event spawned?"