Space

SpaceX spacecraft docks with International Space Station on historic NASA mission

SpaceX’s Dragon Endeavour spacecraft crewed by NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken has docked with the International Space Station on its historic Demo-2 mission. The spacecraft launched atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center Saturday. The mission is the first time that astronauts have launched from American soil since the final Space Shuttle flight in 2011. The mission is also the first time a private company, rather than a national government, has sent astronauts into orbit. The spacecraft made its ‘soft capture’ docking with the International Space Station at 10:16 am ET after an almost 19-hour journey to the orbiting space lab. The space station was 262 statute miles above the border of northern China and Mongolia when the docking occurred. “Hard capture” docking was complete at 10:28 am ET with the full docking sequence complete two minutes later. “Happy to be aboard!” said Hurley when the capsule was docked. The hatch is expected to open around 12:45 pm ET, with a welcome ceremony at 1:15 pm ET “Welcome home @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug! America’s two favorite dads in space have docked to the @Space_Station,” tweeted NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. President Donald Trump and Mike Pence, who is chairman of the National Space Council, were at Kennedy Space Center to watch Hurley and Behnken lift off from storied launch pad 39A, which was also used for the Apollo and space shuttle programs. On Saturday evening Hurley announced that the spacecraft, previously known as capsule 206, has been renamed Endeavour, continuing the tradition of astronauts naming their capsules. “We would like to welcome you aboard capsule Endeavour,” he said. “We chose Endeavour for a few reasons – one, because of the incredible Endeavour NASA, SpaceX and the United States has been on since the end of the shuttle program in 2011. The other reason we named it Endeavour is little more personal – Bob and I, we both had our first flight on Shuttle Endeavour and it just meant to much to us to carry on that name.”

Nice!!  To see videos from this morning’s docking, click on the text above.  Great job Bob and Doug!     🙂

SpaceX makes history, launches NASA astronauts into space from US soil for the first time since 2011

SpaceX has launched NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken on their historic Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The mission is the first time that astronauts have launched from American soil since the final Space Shuttle flight in 2011. Hurley and Behnken blasted off from Kennedy Space Center’s historic launch pad 39A, which was also used for the Apollo and space shuttle programs, at 3:22 p.m. ET Saturday. An attempt on Wednesday was scrubbed due to weather conditions. The launch is the first time a private company, rather than a national government, has sent astronauts into orbit. There were concerns that bad weather would force Saturday’s launch to be scrubbed, but the mission was able to proceed as planned. President Trump and Vice President Pence, who is chairman of the National Space Council, watched the launch from Kennedy Space Center. Speaking at Kennedy Space Center following the launch, Trump praised America’s “bold and triumphant return to the stars.” “With this launch, the decades of lost years and little action are officially over,” he said. The names of Hurley and Behnken, he added, will stand in the history books alongside the likes of Mercury and Gemini astronaut Gus Grissom. “We have liftoff! Congratulations @Astro_Doug, @AstroBehnken, @NASA and @SpaceX!” tweeted Pence. Launched atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, Hurley and Behnken are traveling to the International Space Station in a Crew Dragon spacecraft built by the space company. After a short journey into orbit, Crew Dragon began its 19-hour journey to the orbiting space lab. Autonomous docking with the International Space Station is expected at 10:29 a.m. EDT on Sunday. The duration of the astronauts’ stay on the orbiting space lab is yet to be determined. After separation, the Falcon 9 booster successfully returned to Earth, landing on a drone ship in the Atlantic. “Today was just an amazing day,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said shortly after the launch. “I can breathe a sigh of relief but I can also tell you that I’m not going to celebrate until Bob and Doug are home safely.” Bridenstine said he was praying for the astronauts during the liftoff. “I have heard that rumble [of a rocket launch] before, but it’s a whole different feeling when you’ve got your own team on that rocket.” Under normal circumstances, large crowds would have been expected to witness the historic launch but, citing concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, NASA urged people to stay away. STS-135, the last space shuttle mission, launched from Kennedy Space Center on July 8, 2011. The space shuttle Atlantis carried four NASA astronauts on the mission to resupply the ISS, as well as an experiment for robotically refueling satellites in space. Since then, the U.S. has relied on Russian Soyuz rockets launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to get astronauts into space. Russia charges the U.S. about $75 million to send an astronaut into space. NASA recently agreed to pay Russian space agency Roscosmos $90 million for one final seat on one of its Soyuz rockets.

Hopefully that’s the last time we pay the Russians, a major strategic  adversary, $90 MILLION to hitch a ride.  If you missed today’s launch, the Google it, or click on the text above for a couple videos.  It was beyond awesome!  Our congrats to both NASA and SpaceX for this historic launch!  And, our prayer are with Doug and Bob.  Go SpaceX!!    🙂

SpaceX and NASA’s historic launch scrubbed as a result of weather

SpaceX and NASA’s historic launch was scrubbed Wednesday as a result of weather conditions. Astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken were scheduled to launch at 4:33 p.m. EDT on May 27 from Kennedy Space Center’s launch pad 39A, which was also used for the Apollo and space shuttle programs. The launch was called off at just 16 minutes and 54 seconds before the launch time. The mission had an instantaneous launch window, which meant that the flight was scheduled to launch exactly at 4:33 p.m. with no potential to extend the window. The weather violations included natural lightning and the strength of the electric field in the atmosphere. “Standing down from launch today due to unfavorable weather in the flight path,” tweeted SpaceX. “No launch for today – safety for our crew members @Astro_Doug and @AstroBehnken is our top priority,” tweeted NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. The launch would have been the first time a private company, rather than a national government, sent astronauts into orbit. It would also have been the first time that astronauts have launched since U.S. soil since the final Space Shuttle mission in 2011. The next launch attempt will be on Saturday at 3:22 p.m. EDT.

Bummer!!  Oh well..  We’ll be ready with fingers crossed on Saturday!

SpaceX, NASA, astronauts making final preparations: ‘We’re go for launch’

SpaceX is making final preparations for Wednesday’s Demo-2 mission to launch NASA astronauts from U.S. soil for the first time since 2011. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft will transport astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the International Space Station on the historic mission. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said he texted the two astronauts Monday and told them, “‘If you want me to stop this thing for any reason, say so. I will stop it in a heartbeat if you want me to.’ They both came back and they said, ‘We’re go for launch.'” Hurley and Behnken are scheduled to launch at 4:33 p.m. EDT from launch pad 39A of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, which was also used for the Apollo and space shuttle programs. The launch will be the first time a private company, rather than a national government, sends astronauts into orbit. “Team is performing additional pre-flight checkouts of Falcon 9, Crew Dragon, and the ground support system ahead of tomorrow’s Demo-2 mission,” SpaceX tweeted earlier Tuesday. The weather forecast for launch is 60 percent favorable, SpaceX added. “Dragon Dawn,” tweeted SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, with a time-lapse video of Crew Dragon on the launch pad next to the access arm that Hurley and Behnken will use to board the spacecraft. “I’ve often said that our astronauts are the best America has to offer,” Bridenstine tweeted Tuesday. Hurley and Behnken, he added, “are truly the best of us.” The launch is eagerly anticipated. “Looking forward to tomorrow’s historic mission – it’ll be a day all Americans and space fans everywhere will never forget! T minus 1 day and counting!,” Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin tweeted Tuesday. Speaking during a news briefing Tuesday, Bridenstine described the launch as “a unique opportunity” to bring all of America together in one moment in time. Both NASA and SpaceX have been diligent about making sure everyone in the launch loop knows they’re free to halt the countdown if there’s a concern, Bridenstine added. Some 45 seconds from liftoff the SpaceX launch director will give the final go after everyone has been polled on Wednesday. However, Bridenstine noted that NASA has the “right to intervene” if it sees something it disagrees with. President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are expected at Kennedy for the planned liftoff, but “our highest priority” will remain the astronauts’ safety, according to Bridenstine. Launched atop the Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon will accelerate to approximately 17,000 mph, according to NASA, placing the capsule on course for the International Space Station. The duration of the astronauts’ stay on the International Space Station is yet to be determined. Under normal circumstances, large crowds would have been expected to witness the historic launch but, citing concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, NASA has urged people to stay away. Hundreds of thousands of people flocked to the area near Kennedy Space Center for the last shuttle launch in July 2011, according to Spaceflight Now. STS-135, the last space shuttle mission, launched from Kennedy Space Center on July 8, 2011. The space shuttle Atlantis carried four NASA astronauts on the mission to resupply the ISS, as well as an experiment for robotically refueling satellites in space. Since then, the U.S. has relied on Russian Soyuz rockets launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to get astronauts into space. Russia charges the U.S. about $75 million to send an astronaut into space. NASA recently agreed to pay Russian space agency Roscosmos $90 million for one final seat on one of its Soyuz rockets.

How exciting!!  Weather permitting, liftoff is under 4 hrs from now!  The President, First Lady, and Vice President will be in attendance.  For more, click on the text above.  Go SpaceX!!      🙂

SpaceX’s first astronaut launch breaking ground with new look: ‘It is really neat’

The first astronauts launched by SpaceX are breaking new ground for style by unveiling hip spacesuits, gull-wing Teslas and even a sleek rocketship with a black and white trim. The color coordination is credited to Elon Musk, the driving force behind SpaceX and Tesla who is also a science fiction fan. NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken approved the “fresh new look,” The Associated Press reported on Monday. The pair will catch a ride to the launch pad in a Tesla Model X electric car. “It is really neat, and I think the biggest testament to that is my 10-year-old son telling me how cool I am now,” Hurley told the outlet. The 53-year-old noted “SpaceX has gone all out” on the capsule’s appearance. “And they’ve worked equally as hard to make the innards and the displays and everything else in the vehicle work to perfection,” Hurley added. According to the outlet, Hurley and Behnken will climb aboard a SpaceX Dragon capsule atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Wednesday, and both equipment and weather permitting, shoot into space. The move will mark the first astronaut launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center since the last shuttle flight in 2011. It will also mark the first attempt by a private company to send astronauts into orbit. Only governments in Russia, the U.S., and China have done so. SpaceX also shared the historic send-off deserves to look good. Musk, 48, named his rocket after the “Star Wars” Millennium Falcon. The capsule name stems from “Puff the Magic Dragon,” a jab from the tech entrepreneur aiming at his doubters when he first started SpaceX in 2002. And style wasn’t ignored in the launch. SpaceX designed and built its own custom-fit suits. “It’s important that the suits are comfortable and also are inspiring,” said SpaceX’s mission director Benji Reed. “But above all, it’s designed to keep the crew safe,” he shared. But the signature bulky, orange ascent and entry suits worn by shuttle astronauts have their own allure, insisted Behnken, 49. Both he and Hurley wore them for his two previous missions. Hollywood has also relied on the orange suits for movies like “Armageddon” and “Space Cowboys.” On launch day, Hurley and Behnken will get ready inside Kennedy’s remodeled crew quarters, which dates back to the two-man Gemini missions of the mid-1960s. SpaceX techs will also help the astronauts into their one-piece, two-layer pressure suits. The men will also emerge through the same double doors previously used on July 16, 1969, by Apollo 11’s Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. The Operations and Checkout Building bear Armstrong’s name. Instead of the traditional Astrovan, the two will climb into the back seat of a Tesla Model X for the nine-mile ride to Launch Complex 39A, also known as the same pad used by the moonmen and most shuttle crews. It’s while they board the Tesla that they’ll see their wives and young sons for the last time before the flight. Making a comeback after three decades is NASA’s worm logo — wavy, futuristic-looking red letters spelling NASA, the “A” resembling rocket nose cones. The worm adorns the Astro-Tesla, Falcon and even the astronauts’ suits, along with NASA’s original blue meatball-shaped logo. The white-suited Hurley and Behnken will transfer from the white Tesla to the white Dragon atop the equally white Falcon 9. “It’s going to be quite a show,” said Reed.

And we’re excited to see it!  Launch is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon, Wed. May 27th.  For more, click on the text above.  Go SpaceX!!      🙂

Astronomer puts odds on extraterrestrial life existing: ‘Universe teeming with life … the favored bet’

Despite no clear-cut evidence, mankind has wondered for eons whether we’re alone in the universe. One astronomer, however, is almost sure that extraterrestrial life exists. In a new study, Columbia University astronomer David Kipping used the Bayesian model to determine the odds that life should exist on Earth. He found the odds are 9:1 or higher, despite scientists still not clearly understanding “how life occurred” on the planet, even if it’s widely accepted life started billions of years ago. “The rapid emergence of life and the late evolution of humanity, in the context of the timeline of evolution, are certainly suggestive,” Kipping said in a statement. “But in this study it’s possible to actually quantify what the facts tell us.” The Earth itself is widely believed to be approximately 4.5 billion years old. The Bayesian statistical inference, which is used to “update the probability for a hypothesis as evidence or new information becomes available,” found that intelligent life on Earth likely formed against the odds. The model looked at four possible answers: life is common and often develops intelligence; life is rare but often develops intelligence; life is common and rarely develops intelligence; lastly, life is rare and rarely develops intelligence. Kipping noted the “common-life scenario is always at least nine times more likely than the rare one,” but the odds of life being intelligent are weak. “[T]he possibility that intelligence is extremely rare and Earth ‘lucked out’ remains quite viable,” Kipping wrote in the study. “Overall, we find a weak preference, 3:2 betting odds, that intelligence rarely emerges given our late arrival.” “If we played Earth’s history again, the emergence of intelligence is actually somewhat unlikely,” he added in the statement. However, Kipling pointed out that the analysis “purely concerns the Earth,” and should not be applied to “potentially exoplanets being discovered.” “The analysis can only provide statistical probabilities, but the case for a universe teeming with life emerges as the favored bet,” Kipping explained in the statement. “The search for intelligent life in worlds beyond Earth should be by no means discouraged.” The research has been published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. As of April 2020, more than 4,000 exoplanets have been identified, including a “one in a million” super-Earth that was recently discovered. In early March, an astronomy student from the University of British Columbia discovered 17 new exoplanets, including one that is roughly the same size as Earth. Known as KIC-7340288 b, the exoplanet is “small enough to be considered rocky,” at just 1.5 times the size of Earth, and is in the habitable zone of the star it orbits. Another recently discovered exoplanet, K2-18b, is also “potentially habitable” and is just 124 light-years from Earth.

Mr. Kipping is saying what we’ve been saying here for many years; that the likelihood of life out there, on another planet, is FAR greater than not…given just how vast space is.     🙂

Space Force releases recruitment video: ‘Maybe your purpose on this planet isn’t on this planet’

The Space Force released a recruitment video on Wednesday. The branch posted the video to Twitter, telling potential cadets: “Maybe your purpose on this planet isn’t on this planet.” The video is aimed to inspire men and women to join and protect the United States and its interest “in space and to provide space capabilities.” The Space Force became the sixth branch of the U.S. military in December 2019 and welcomed its first class of cadets from the U.S. Air Force Academy graduation in late April. President Trump authorized the act to create the Space Force at the end of last year. The last time a branch of the armed forces was added was in 1947 when the Air Force split from the Army. The Space Force operates under the Department of the Air Force, much like how the Marine Corps operates under the Department of the Navy. The newest 86 officers to join will be sent for space training at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, while others will fill positions relating to cyberspace operations and intelligence. The newest recruitment video posted Wednesday ends with a recruit looking to the stars as the narrator says: “Maybe your purpose on this planet isn’t on this planet.” Twitter has been quick to compare the Space Force to “Star Wars” and “The Last Star Fighter.” President Trump is expected to pick a location for where the new Space Force headquarters will be by the end of the year. Click here to see the new Space Force recruitment video.

Cheesy…yet cool!   As many of you know, I spent a couple years in the Army’s Space Command (“SMDC”) in Colorado Springs, CO.  And yes, I have my “Spings” (i.e. Army Space Badge) for those of you who are curious. …which is why we’ve been very adamant from day one here at The Daily Buzz about the need for our federal government to invest more in both our civilian (i.e. NASA) and military (i.e. Space Force, SMDC, etc.) space programs.  Whatever those budgets are, they need to be doubled, if not tripled.  We’re still ahead of our competitors…but that edge is quickly fading.  For every launch of ours, China has about 100 launches.  They’re catching up, and fast.  And, that is NOT a good thing.  And that’s just China.  Remember we have Russia to contend with, and now both N. Korea and Iran (yes, Iran) have launched military satellites into space.  They all know the next BIG war we fight will be in space, as it is the ultimate “high ground.”  And the country that has dominance there, will have the advantage.  Some time ago we posted an article written by a retired Air Force 3-star general called “The Urgent Need for a Space Force.”   To find it, type “Space Force” in the search field on the right…and read it.  We agree with the good general’s assessment 100%.   Go Space Force!       🙂