Amazing Space Shuttle engine photo

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The shuttles are well on their way to being museum pieces. And I thought I’d just blog this nice little piece posted up by NASA’s @nasakennedy twitter account.

These are all the shuttle engines together for in one place for the first and final time.

They also posted up some nice little stats about those famous engines

If you’re a bit geeky about the shuttle decommissioning, or still mourning it’s loss make sure you’re following that account.

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Abandon Ship?

And it’s all because of this…

If the news of the loss of a Progress supply ship wasn’t bad enough ISS controllers are now staring a the possibility of leaving the space station unmanned for the first time since humans starting living up there. This would be a massive set back to the world of human space flight and fill newspapers and news bulletins with negative headlines about how the world’s space agencies really up to the job so soon after the media outlets mourned the end of the Space Shuttle.

Part of the problem of an abandonment of the ISS is also linked to the mildly racist view of the Russian’s involvement in the station by some of our American cousins. Some people have been so wrapped up in the Space Shuttle they haven’t learnt about how vital the Russian’s are and what their technology looks like. Shall we change that courtesy of Space.com?

The grounding of the Soyuz rocket can only be a good thing, they’ve got to make sure it’s safe before we stick humans on the top again. Because we’re very lucky there weren’t humans involved this time.But if the station does have to be empty at Christmas it’ll be full again before you know it. After all one failure in the rocket’s entire history sounds more like bad luck rather than a systematic problem.

Annoyingly it might push back some of the private companies wanting to launch cargo to the station before the end of the year. But it’s a price worth paying if we save astronaut’s lives.

A sad email to write and a load of pictures

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. Nothing to do with a lack of Space news, last week was a hive of activity with NASA’s Juno lifting off, liquid water potentially being found on Mars and the launch of an Ariane V from French Guiana. It’s just been a busy week.

So to make up for radio silence I’ve dug out a load of pictures that might tickle your fancy…

You might remember that I’ve posted the above picture before as part of a throw away comment about the Russian’s failed Space Shuttle experiment. The context of that picture is actually much more of a positive one. It’s from a series taken as one of the five Buran orbiters is taken to be refurbished for display.

I stumbled across the rest of the series earlier this week, which can be found here, but i thought I would feature it as well…

As you can see it’s in a bit of a sorry state…

But the really amazing photos are on the inside…

And this cargo bay picture really is something special…

and look at the knackered cockpit!

That’s a long way from the ‘glass cockpit’ the Shuttle Astronauts enjoyed (twinge of sadness over past tense).

Well i hope you enjoyed those I had a sad email to write today, I was lucky enough to be awarded one of 60 places at @ESA‘s #Spacetweetup, and annoyingly am now unable to go. I’m going to try to reschedule a trip over to ESA at some point this year but it looks like my ESA fun wont be for a while. On the bright side, lucky person on the #spacewaitup list. I got upgraded from the wait list for my NASA fun this year, so I know how someone will feel in a little while.

 

 

One last run around the tweetup block?

I attended two #NASATweetups this year, the first for STS-134, the final launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavour. And when I didn’t see it launch I was invited back for the launch day for STS-135. These were both amazing experiences and both completely changed my life. The first allowed me to meet a huge group of people who I will always stay in touch with, the second allowed me to see something that I will never see again, an actual Space Shuttle taking off.

If you want the same experience follow @esa, @esaoperations, and @spacetweetup and click your mouse over to here because these guys are planning one. And the line up seems pretty good…

  • Welcome by DLR and ESA Social Media Managers, Marco Trovatello and Fulvio Drigani
  • Keynote by NASA Social Media Manager Stefanie Schierholz
  • Chance to meet Thomas Reiter ESA Director of Human Spaceflight and Operations and ESA astronaut, and other European astronauts
  • Q&A with SOFIA project managers/scientists
  • Various indoor and outdoor tours including:
    • Tour of ESA’s European Astronaut Centre
    • SOFIA, the NASA–DLR flying observatory using a heavily modified Boeing 747 SP
    • Airbus A380, provided exclusively by Airbus for German Aerospace Day
    • A300 Zero-G used by DLR and ESA for parabolic flight campaigns
    • Tour of DLR research institutes and facilities
  • Q&As with DLR/ESA scientists and project managers
  • Opportunities to meet the DLR and ESA social media teams, as well as fellow European spacetweeps

I mean it’s no Space Shuttle launch but it’s their first go, and the presence of Stefanie Schierholz, the genius in charge of NASA’s tweetup efforts can only be a good thing.

If you want to signup you have a couple of days left…

and with any luck i’ll see you in Germany!

One last not on Tweetups, there has been a bit of chatter about a #soyuztweetup, getting a load of people to the launch of TMA-03M in November, a word of warning, this isn’t like the #NASATweetup or the #ESATweetup, this someone’s commercial opportunity and it’s going to cost you. It would be amazing if you have the money, but it’s something that can be done and bought without the random ballot that normally accompanies a tweetup.

Post Shuttle update

About a week since the Space Shuttle had its final ‘wheel stop’ and the programme’s wind down is very much in full swing.

As you can see from the picture above Atlantis is back in the Orbiter Processing Facility and preparations for it’s museum life are underway…

While its processing will begin along the same lines as Discovery’s it’s worth pointing out that it’s going to be put on hold once the initial stages have been completed.

Mainly because you never know a private company might come along and fund one of these icons. An idea that this guy claims isn’t as mad as it sounds…

I asked @absolutspaceguy about one of the things I thought might hold this kind of thing back…

and got this reply…

Personally I dont think NASA and United Space Alliance would have gone this far down the line of compulsory redundancies on such a grand scale only to start things up all over again a couple of months later. The only real use for flying one last mission would be to bring Hubble back down from orbit, but i’d assume this would require two Shuttle’s to be on pads like recent Hubble missions, and that might be too much to ask.

Away from Florida and some of those NASA employees that have been lucky enough to keep jobs with the agency have been making a lot of progress with the Orion multipurpose crew vehicle.

I posted this video a little while ago of a mock of the capsule doing some landing tests…

and today NASA released this photo…

Of the previously tested launch pad abort system about to be connected to a capsule ready for acoustic testing.

Unfortunately it also emerged this week that the rocket that could take this thing to Mars is going to take a while to build…. like another 21 years!

An update on a UK Astronaut’s training

With all the talk over the last few weeks being about the end of the Space Shuttle I thought i’d instil a bit of hope to the future of the space industry here in the UK.

Major Tim Peake could become the first Astronaut to go into space solely on a British passport and without private funding. I caught up with him a couple of weeks ago at the UK Space Conference to find out if he was any closer to a journey to the stars…

Currently he is yet to be assigned to a specific flight, and apparently ‘bilateral’ discussions between Jean-Jacques Dordain (Director General of the European Space Agency) and David Willetts MP (UK Science and Universities Minister) got quite heated when the subject of Major Tim’s flight was mentioned. Mainly because the UK doesn’t pay into ESA’s human spaceflight programme, but would still like to enjoy its benefits.

 

Atlantis landing, everything you need to see

The dust has finally settled on the runway and there are simply too many pictures, videos, recordings of the event to pull into one post so I thought I’d simply post a few of the best I’ve seen throughout the day.

The first is the picture above. Taken from the International Space Station as Atlantis dropped back into the earth’s atmosphere, it’s almost like someone’s drawn it on. That picture has a similar appeal to the one below…

and it will become one of the iconic photos of this final mission.

So let’s start with the landing itself, there’s the token amazing video that a night landing brings of the shuttle flying over Mexico…

you can watch the full half an hour of the landing…

but I don’t know about you when you’re reading things on the internet, i’d rather watch the highlights…

Once on the ground and with the sun up the landing team have marked the end of the final voyage of the space shuttle on the runway…

and several NASA employees, including those that will be loosing their jobs tomorrow, were allowed to get right up close to the orbiter…

and generally potter around the complex for the final time…

https://twitter.com/#!/lh2padrat/status/94130636012535810

Atlantis will now be refurbished and ‘safed’ like the other two orbiters and will take its rightful place at a newly built hangar at the visitor complex ready for generations of men, women and children to marvel at the achievements it has given us. Just like they do at the moment at the Saturn V centre.

I’ll leave you tonight with two videos that exploded over twitter this afternoon, each of the 135 space shuttle missions edited together into one video. The second takes a little more effort to get to, but it’s well worth it…

Welcome home Atlantis, and I cant wait to see one of the Shuttle’s up close at some point in my lifetime at one of the museums that will reside in.

P.S. This human space thing isn’t over, as @astro_ron wants to point out…

P.P.S, i just came across this amazing graphic of the shuttle program as whole, worth a look at…