First off, here's a nice video of the recent launch of a classified National Reconnaissance Office spy satellite using the largest launch vehicle in our national inventory, the Delta IV Heavy Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle made by the United Launch Alliance, which is a joint venture established in August 1995 as a Limited Liability Company (LLC), equally owned by Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
This is one Big Ass Rocket. You'll notice that its launch is not as visually sexy as a Space Shuttle launch. This is because all of the rocket motors use liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen as fuel, just like the Space Shuttle main engines. What made the Shuttle launches so much more colorful was that its two rocket boosters used solid propellant, which created all those stunning bright orange flames when combusting. The nice thing about the H2-O2 rocket motors is that they are much more powerful than solid fuel boosters and their only exhaust product is water - - very environmentally friendly! Anyway, here's the video:
Speaking of the Space Shuttle...
The majesty of a spaceship: Up-close with Atlantis
BY JUSTIN RAY
Posted: July 3, 2012
In the quiet, peaceful setting of a storage bay in the northwest corner of NASA's cavernous Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center on Monday afternoon, a handful of photographers got the chance to walk underneath, around and above the orbiter Atlantis, the spaceship that flew the final space shuttle mission a year ago this month.
The tranquil opportunity allowed Spaceflight Now photographer Walter Scriptunas II to shoot this gallery that captures Atlantis in exquisite detail.
You can see the entire gallery here. Below are a couple photos I picked out to whet your whistle (btw, where the hell did that phrase originate, anyway?):
The Shuttle Space Transportation System (STS) was without question the most complex piece(s) of machinery ever built by humans. As originally envisioned at the close of the Apollo era, the STS fleet was supposed to see launches at the rate of 2 or 3 a month, made possible by the reusable nature of the vehicles, which was also supposed to lower overall system costs. The STS unfortunately never lived up to those expectations, either in launch rates or costs. When you take a look at the complexity of the reentry tiles above, you can see why. After each flight every one of those tiles had to be individually inspected and repaired, if necessary - - which happened a lot.
The retirement of the STS does not spell the end of NASA's manned spaceflight program, however...
NASA shows off first Orion capsule with KSC ceremony
BY WILLIAM HARWOOD
STORY WRITTEN FOR CBS NEWS "SPACE PLACE" & USED WITH PERMISSION
Posted: July 2, 2012
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL--The first space-bound Orion capsule, the centerpiece of NASA's post-shuttle push to break out of low-Earth orbit for eventual manned flights to a variety of deep space targets, was officially unveiled at NASA's Florida spaceport Monday. The spacecraft will be outfitted for an unmanned test flight in 2014.
The Orion space capsule is basically the Apollo space capsule on steroids and can carry a crew of four. The reason why it doesn't look like a regular spacecraft is that what you are looking at is the primary pressure vessel. The outer parts will get added later. It's interesting to see it at this stage - - it gives you a sense of the engineering involved in constructing a space vehicle.
You will also notice the marked absence of a cargo bay. For all of it's cost and complexity, the Space Shuttle's cargo bay offered a unique flexibility that the Orion system just won't have. From here on out, cargos will be sent up on unmanned Delta IV launchers separate from astronauts aboard Orion. It is highly unlikely that another vehicle like the Space Shuttle will ever be built again.
Here's the full news item, and here's a photo gallery with some more shots of Orion, including some very nice close-ups.
Finally, here's a really cool Vimeo of a montage of every Space Shuttle launch in a single video. In case you're wondering, the Challenger disaster is in the second row, sixth panel from the right. Sorry I couldn't embed this, I've never been able to do so with Vimeos.
Well, that's it - - hope you enjoyed! Senior Space Cadet lehman scott signing out! *salute*