Thursday, October 19, 2017

Lego 'Women of NASA' Set To Hit Store Shelves November 1st

Lego 'Women of NASA' Set

Just in time for the holidays, LEGO Women of NASA will be available for purchase worldwide beginning on November 1st, 2017.

Girls aspiring in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering or mathematics) can follow in the footsteps of four pioneering women of NASA with this fun and inspiring LEGO set.


Build the Hubble Space Telescope and learn astronomy with the ‘Mother of Hubble’ Nancy Grace Roman. Develop the software for space missions with computer scientist Margaret Hamilton. And launch the space shuttle with Sally Ride, the first American woman to fly in space, and Mae Jemison, the world’s first woman of color in space. 

Nancy Grace Roman’s build features a posable Hubble Space Telescope with authentic details and a projected image of a planetary nebula.

Margaret Hamilton’s build features a stack of book elements, representing the books of listings of Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) onboard flight software source code.

Sally Ride and Mae Jemison’s build features a launchpad and Space Shuttle Challenger with three removable rocket stages.

In the original proposal, five NASA women were included but the set include just four, as Katherine Johnson chose not to be part of the set.

Under the headline “Ladies rock outer space”, LEGO fan designer Maia Weinstock presented her idea for a Women of NASA LEGO set to the LEGO Ideas crowdsourcing platform. There it gained lots of support from other fans and was selected for production for its inspirational value as well as build and play experience.

As a science editor and writer, with a strong personal interest for space exploration as well as the history of women in science and engineering, Maia Weinstock’s Women of NASA project was a way for her to celebrate accomplished women in STEM professions.

“In all realms of science, engineering, and technology, pioneering women have historically been underappreciated for their often groundbreaking work. We have also seen that when girls and women are given more encouragement in the STEM fields, they become more likely to pursue careers in these areas,” said Maia Weinstock.

“With this project, I wanted to spotlight a fantastic group of women who have made seminal contributions to NASA history. My dream would be to know that the first human on Mars — or an engineer or computer scientist who helped her get there — played with the LEGO Women of NASA as a child and was inspired to pursue a STEM career as a result.”

Image credit: Lego

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Watch The 2017 Orionid Meteor Shower Tonight


The 2017 Orionid Meteor Shower can be seen any night now through November 7 and peaks during the early mornings of October 20, 21, and 22.

Fall's best meteor shower promises to be even more spectacular in 2017 thanks to dark skies from moonless nights during the best viewing times.


When is the best time to watch Orionid meteor shower?

The best time to look for Orionid meteors is 4 a.m. when Earth encounters the densest part of Halley's Comet's debris stream.

What are the best dates to watch the Orionid meteor shower in October 2017?

Dark night skies are best for watching meteors, so the Moon plays an important role as to which dates are best for meteor shower viewing. The Moon will set before 4 a.m. of every morning during days closest to the peak from October 18 through October 22.

How to watch the Orionid meteor shower:

Observing is simple: set the alarm a few hours before dawn, go outside and look up in the direction of the constellation Orion. No telescope is necessary to see Orionids shooting across the sky.  It is important to be far away from artificial lights.  Your eyes can take up to 30 minutes to adjust to the darkness, so allow plenty of time for your eyes to dark-adapt.


Where to look for the Orionid meteor shower tonight:


Find Orion's noticeable three-star belt in the night sky, then follow his raised arm to his elbow to see the origination point of the Orionids. Orion will be almost straight above the viewer's head 1 to 2 hours before sunrise.

The Orionid Meteor Shower is named after the constellation Orion because the meteors appear to come from just north of Orion's bright star Betelgeuse. It is made up of debris left by Halley's Comet with a debris field that is so wide that encompasses the entire distance between the Earth and the Moon.

Image and video credit: NASA/JPL

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Atlas V Launches After 5th Attempt

Atlas V 421 configuration rocket

UPDATE: United Launch Alliance successfully launched an Atlas V rocket on the fifth attempt after it was scrubbed due to weather and  hardware issues.


A new launch date and time has been set for 3:28 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Sunday, October 15, 2017 from Space Launch Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Launch Weather

The most recent forecast issued by the U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron predicts only a 70% chance of overall permissible weather conditions for Sunday's launch.  The primary weather concern for launch is cumulus clouds.

Payload

The Atlas V 421 configuration rocket will carry a National Reconnaissance Office (NROL-52) satellite.

Few details have been released about the mission other than that it is "in support of national defense." NROL-52 will mark ULA’s seventh launch of 2017 and the 26th launch for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office.

Image credit: ULA

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

SpaceX Successfully Lands Falcon 9 First Stage Rocket, Launches Satellite


UPDATE: SpaceX successfully launched an EchoStar 105/SES-11 communication satellite into Geo Stationary Transfer Orbit and completed the 18th successful landing of a Falcon 9 first stage rocket.

Previous Story:

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida -- The launch of the Falcon 9 rocket carrying an EchoStar 105/SES-11 communication satellite is scheduled to liftoff at 6:53 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Wednesday, October 11, 2017, from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.


Launch Weather 90% 'GO'

According to the latest forecast from the U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron, there is a 90% chance of favorable weather for the launch. The primary concern is cumulus clouds.

Attempted Landing On Drone Ship

Following stage separation, the first stage of the Falcon 9 will attempt a landing on the “Of Course I Still Love You” drone ship. 

But a successful landing after launch may be difficult because the Geo Stationary Transfer Orbit requires the first stage rocket to reach a significantly higher altitude than other recovered missions. This means that Falcon 9's first stage rocket will becoming down faster with less fuel to slow its descent than missions to lower orbits.

Third Launch Of 'Flight-Proven' (Reused) Falcon 9

This will be SpaceX's third launch of a reused first stage rocket. This Falcon 9 first stage rocket previously launched the CRS-10 mission to the International Space Station from Cape Canaveral, Florida on February 19, 2017.

Payload

EchoStar 105/SES-11, a high-powered hybrid Ku and C-band communications satellite, is a dual-mission satellite for US-based operator EchoStar and Luxembourg-based operator SES.

EchoStar 105/SES-11 provides EchoStar with 24 Ku-band transponders of 36 MHz, marketed as EchoStar 105, while it provides SES with a C-band payload of 24 transponders, marketed under the name SES-11. EchoStar 105/SES-11 replaces Ku-band capacity for AMC-15 and C-band capacity for AMC-18 at SES’ well-established 105 degrees West orbital slot.

EchoStar 105 was tailored to meet the Ku-band capacity needs of EchoStar’s enterprise, media and broadcast, and U.S. government service provider customers, offering coverage of the 50 U.S. states and expanded reach to the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean.

SES-11, designed to accelerate the development of SES’s U.S. prime video neighborhood and optimized for digital television delivery, joins SES-1 and SES-3 at the center of SES's robust North American orbital arc, which reaches more than a hundred million TV homes. It also replaces C-band capacity for AMC-18, which SES offers over North America, including Hawaii, Mexico and the Caribbean, empowering businesses and governments to capture new opportunities and expand their reach.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

SpaceX Rocket Launch From Cape Canaveral On October 11, 2017


CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida -- The launch of the Falcon 9 rocket carrying an EchoStar 105/SES-11 communication satellite is scheduled to liftoff at 6:53 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Wednesday, October 11, 2017, from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.



Launch Weather 90% 'GO'


According to the latest forecast from the U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron, there is a 90% chance of favorable weather for the launch. The primary concern is cumulus clouds.


Attempted Landing On Drone Ship


Following stage separation, the first stage of the Falcon 9 will attempt a landing on the “Of Course I Still Love You” drone ship. 

But a successful landing after launch may be difficult because the Geo Stationary Transfer Orbit requires the first stage rocket to reach a significantly higher altitude than other recovered missions. This means that Falcon 9's first stage rocket will becoming down faster with less fuel to slow its descent than missions to lower orbits.

Third Launch Of 'Flight-Proven' (Reused) Falcon 9

This will be SpaceX's third launch of a reused first stage rocket. This Falcon 9 first stage rocket previously launched the CRS-10 mission to the International Space Station from Cape Canaveral, Florida on February 19, 2017.

Payload

EchoStar 105/SES-11, a high-powered hybrid Ku and C-band communications satellite, is a dual-mission satellite for US-based operator EchoStar and Luxembourg-based operator SES.

EchoStar 105/SES-11 provides EchoStar with 24 Ku-band transponders of 36 MHz, marketed as EchoStar 105, while it provides SES with a C-band payload of 24 transponders, marketed under the name SES-11. EchoStar 105/SES-11 replaces Ku-band capacity for AMC-15 and C-band capacity for AMC-18 at SES’ well-established 105 degrees West orbital slot.

EchoStar 105 was tailored to meet the Ku-band capacity needs of EchoStar’s enterprise, media and broadcast, and U.S. government service provider customers, offering coverage of the 50 U.S. states and expanded reach to the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean.

SES-11, designed to accelerate the development of SES’s U.S. prime video neighborhood and optimized for digital television delivery, joins SES-1 and SES-3 at the center of SES's robust North American orbital arc, which reaches more than a hundred million TV homes. It also replaces C-band capacity for AMC-18, which SES offers over North America, including Hawaii, Mexico and the Caribbean, empowering businesses and governments to capture new opportunities and expand their reach.


ABOVE PHOTO: SpaceX successfully launches an EchoStar satellite from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida earlier this year. Credit: SpaceX

Thursday, October 5, 2017

2017 Full Harvest Moon Tonight


CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida -- There will be a Full Moon tonight, Thursday, October 5, 2017. But not just any full moon. That's because this Full Moon is a Harvest Moon that rarely occurs in October.

What Time Does The 2017 Harvest Moon Occur?

On the Florida's east coast, the Harvest Moon will rise over the Atlantic Ocean around 7:21 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on October 5 and set the following morning just after 8 a.m., with some slight time variation (+/- 20 minutes) depending on the viewer's exact location.  

When is the best time to watch the Full Moon?

Low hanging moons near the horizon appear larger to humans.  So, the Harvest Moon will appear biggest to the naked eye on the U.S east coast during and just after the moonrise.

Why is October's Full Moon Called a Harvest Moon?

The Harvest Moon gets its name from agriculture.  In the days before electric lights, farmers depended on bright moonlight to extend the workday beyond sunset.  It was the only way they could gather their ripening crops in time for market.  The Full Moon closest to the Autumnal Equinox became "the Harvest Moon."

Usually, the Harvest Moon arrives a few days to weeks before or after the beginning of fall. This year, the Autumn Equinox and changing of the calendar seasons occurred on September 22, 2017. Equinox means "equal night" in Latin, capturing the idea that daytime and nighttime are equal lengths everywhere on the planet.

Image credit: NASA

Friday, September 22, 2017

Autumn Equinox Marks First Day Of Fall 2017

Autumnal Equinox

The 2017 Autumn Equinox falls on Friday, September 22, 2017.  The Autumnal Equinox, as pictured in this NASA Earth Observatory photo, is caused by the tilt of the earth's rotating axis.

According to the U.S. Naval Observatory, the Autumn Equinox, marking the changing of the seasons from the last day of Summer to the First Day of Fall, occurs on September 23, 2017, at 08:02 p.m. Universal Time (4:02 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time).

Equinox means "equal night" in Latin, capturing the idea that daytime and nighttime are equal lengths everywhere on the planet. That is true of the Sun's presence above the horizon, though it does not account for twilight when the Sun's rays extend from beyond the horizon to illuminate our gas-filled atmosphere.

It is the equal amount of day and night in the northern hemisphere for locations like Melbourne, Florida, but also in the southern hemisphere for locations like Melbourne, Australia.

The apparent change in location of the sun and moon marks important dates for hunting, fishing, and farming.

Of course, it is not the Sun that is moving north or south through the seasons, but a change in the orientation and angles between the Earth and its nearest star. The axis of the Earth is tilted 23.5 degrees relative to the Sun and the ecliptic plane. The axis is tilted away from the Sun at the December solstice and toward the Sun at the June solstice, spreading more and less light on each hemisphere. At the equinoxes, the tilt is at a right angle to the Sun and the light is spread evenly.

2017 Autumn Equinox and 2017 Daylight Savings Time

Naturally, many people think that with the changing of the seasons comes the changing of their clocks at the beginning of Fall 2017.  But this is not the case.

It is true, however, that a helpful way to remember whether to set our clocks ahead or behind one hour during the daylight savings time is to "Fall Back" and "Spring Ahead."

The beginning of Fall 2017 does not mean the end of 2017 Daylight Savings Time.  Daylight Savings Time ends after the Autumn Equinox when days become shorter and shorter heading closer to the Winter Solstice.

So if you are asking, "When does daylight savings time end?" "Do we change clocks when Fall starts?"  The answer is the date Daylight Savings Time (DST) will end for Florida is on Sunday, November 5, 2017.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Northrop Grumman To Acquire Orbital ATK


CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida - Northrop Grumman Corporation announced today that it will acquire Orbital ATK for approximately $7.8 billion in cash, plus the assumption of $1.4 billion in net debt. Both companies have operations in Brevard County on Florida's Space Coast.



Orbital ATK shareholders will receive all-cash consideration of $134.50 per share. The acquisition is expected to close in the first half of 2018 and is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory and Orbital ATK shareholder approval.


“Our complementary portfolios and technology-focused cultures will yield significant value creation through revenue synergies associated with new opportunities, cost savings, operational synergies, and enhanced growth,” said Wes Bush, chairman, chief executive officer and president of Northrop Grumman.

Upon completion of the acquisition, Northrop Grumman plans to establish Orbital ATK as a new, fourth business sector to ensure a strong focus on operating performance and a smooth transition into Northrop Grumman.

“Our employees will also benefit from greater development and career opportunities as members of a larger, more diverse aerospace and defense enterprise,” said David Thompson, president and chief executive officer of Orbital ATK.


ABOVE IMAGE: An Atlas V rocket carrying an Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft stands ready on Launch Complex-41 launchpad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Credit: NASA

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Weather 80% 'GO' For Atlas V Rocket Launch OF NASA's TDRS-M Satellite


CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida -- Weather chances are 80% 'GO' for Friday's launch of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 configuration rocket carrying NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS)-M from Space Launch Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.


The mission has a 40-minute launch window that is scheduled to open at at 8:03 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Friday, August 18, 2017.

The launch date had been pushed back after the satellite's Omni S-band antenna was damaged during final spacecraft closeout activities last month at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida.

Launch Weather 80% 'GO'

According to the latest weather forecast from the United States Air Force 45th Weather Squadron, there is an 80% percent chance overall of acceptable weather conditions for Friday's launch.  The primary weather concern for launch is thick clouds.

MISSION PAYLOAD:

The addition of TDRS-M to the Space Network (SN) will provide the ability to support space communication for an additional 15 years. The network consists of TDRS satellites that transmit data to and from ground stations on Earth for NASA missions and expendable launch vehicles.

Without the Space Network, scientists, engineers and control room staff would be unable to readily access data from missions like the Hubble Space Telescope and the International Space Station.

Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Monday, August 14, 2017

VIDEO: SpaceX Launches, Lands Falcon 9 Rocket At Cape Canaveral On August 14, 2017


UPDATE: SpaceX has successfully launched and landed a Falcon 9 rocket at Kennedy Space Center after deploying a satellite headed for the International Space Station.

Previous story:

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida - The launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Dragon capsule to the International Space Station is scheduled to liftoff at 12:31 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Monday, August 14, 2017, from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.


Last Use Of A New Dragon Capsule For CRS Missions

For the last time ever, SpaceX will launch a new Dragon capsule to the International Space Station under the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract.

All remaining SpaceX CRS mission launches will be reused Dragon capsules.

Attempted Ground Landing, Sonic Boom

After first stage separation, SpaceX will attempt to land the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket on land at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Landing Zone 1.

Residents in the communities of Cape Canaveral, Cocoa, Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island, Mims, Port Canaveral, Port St. John, Rockledge, Scottsmoor, Sharpes, and Titusville, Florida, are most likely to hear a sonic boom, although what Brevard County residents experience will depend on weather conditions and other factors.

Weather 70% 'GO' for Launch

According to the latest forecast by the U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron, there is a 70% chance of acceptable weather conditions for Saturday's launch. The primary weather concerns are cumulus clouds and flight through precipitation.

CRS-12 Payload

The Dragon capsule will carry nearly 6,000 pounds of scientific experiments, food and other supplies to the crew aboard the to the International Space Station, including a veggie plant growth experiment.

Photo and video credit: SpaceX