Make your app friendly to use in the car!

Yes the title already says what I want to say. When you have an app that is interesting to use in the car, such as an audio player you should provide an user interface that can be used in the car. All buttons have their extended touch area, but for in car operation the standard button size is too small I think.

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Alternative user interface with large buttons for in car usage

So I thought about creating a user interface for P | Cast that’s not packed with all the functionality in the normal user interface, but meant to be operated in car or even with your gloves on.

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As you can see the main functionality play/pause is operated by a very large button. Other functionalities, like an overview of the downloads is not available.

My recommendation for your app if your app is something that should be operable in the car do something similar.

Make the car mode an alternative entry point

Besides the alternative user interface, you can go one step further. You can make the alternative ui an alternative entry point. Add a secondary tile to your app which can activate your car mode from a tile. Something like this.

var tile = new StandardTileData
            {
                Title = AppResources.TileCarTitle,
                BackgroundImage = new Uri("Assets/Tiles/InCarFlipCycleTileMedium.png", UriKind.Relative),
            };
ShellTile.Create(new Uri("/Pages/InCarPlayer.xaml", UriKind.Relative), tile);
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The forecast also calls for rain near the shuttle's backup landing site at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.Additional coverage for subscribers:VIDEO:STUNNING TIME-LAPSE OF STATION FLYAROUND VIDEO:SATURDAY MORNING'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING VIDEO:VIEWS OF ENDEAVOUR DURING THE FLYAROUND VIDEO:VIEWS OF THE SPACE STATION DURING FLYAROUND VIDEO:ENDEAVOUR UNDOCKS FROM THE SPACE STATION VIDEO:PREVIEW OF FLIGHT DAY 13 ACTIVITIES VIDEO:FLIGHT DAY 12 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE VIDEO:FRIDAY MORNING'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING VIDEO:SHUTTLE AND STATION CREWS BID THEIR FAREWELLS VIDEO:RIBBON-CUTTING CEREMONY FOR STATION'S CUPOLA VIDEO:IN-FLIGHT CREW NEWS CONFERENCE FOR U.S AND JAPAN VIDEO:FLIGHT DAY 11 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE VIDEO:THURSDAY MORNING'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING VIDEO:OXYGEN GENERATOR RELOCATED TO TRANQUILITY VIDEO:STATION'S TOILET INSTALLED IN THE NEW MODULE VIDEO:WATER GENERATING EQUIPMENT MOVED INTO TRANQUILITY VIDEO:PRESIDENT OBAMA CALLS SHUTTLE AND STATION CREWS VIDEO:DAZZLING VIEWS FROM INSIDE CUPOLA VIDEO:CUPOLA WINDOW SHUTTERS ARE TESTED VIDEO:STATION ASTRONAUT'S CAMCORDER VIEWS OF CUPOLA VIDEO:FLIGHT DAY 10 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE VIDEO:WEDNESDAY MORNING'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING VIDEO:CUPOLA OPEN FOR VIEWING VIDEO:FREEING THE SHUTTERS VIDEO:CUPOLA IS UNVEILED! VIDEO:FIRST HALF OF CUPOLA UNCOVERED VIDEO:WIRING UP DOCKING ADAPTER ON TRANQUILITY VIDEO:ACTIVATING TRANQUILITY'S OTHER COOLING LOOP VIDEO:SPACEWALKERS FLOAT OUT OF AIRLOCK VIDEO:STEP-BY-STEP PREVIEW OF SPACEWALK NO. 3 VIDEO:PREVIEW OF FLIGHT DAY 10 ACTIVITIES VIDEO:FLY WITH THE ASTRONAUTS IN THE COCKPIT VIDEO:LOOKING OUT THE PILOT'S FRONT WINDOW VIDEO:LEFT-HAND BOOSTER CAMERA LOOKING UPWARD VIDEO:LEFT-HAND BOOSTER CAMERA LOOKING INBOARD VIDEO:LEFT-HAND BOOSTER CAMERA LOOKING DOWNWARD VIDEO:RIGHT-HAND BOOSTER CAMERA LOOKING UPWARD VIDEO:RIGHT-HAND BOOSTER CAMERA LOOKING INBOARD VIDEO:RIGHT-HAND BOOSTER CAMERA LOOKING DOWNWARD VIDEO:EXTERNAL TANK CAMERA FROM LIFTOFF TO SEPARATION VIDEO:FLIGHT DAY 9 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE VIDEO:TUESDAY MORNING'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING VIDEO:DOCKING ADAPTER PLACED ONTO TRANQUILITY VIDEO:PREVIEW OF FLIGHT DAY 9 ACTIVITIES VIDEO:FLIGHT DAY 8 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE VIDEO:NEW YORK, ST. LOUIS AND MEMPHIS MEDIA INTERVIEWS VIDEO:MONDAY MORNING'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING VIDEO:OBSERVATION PORTAL RELOCATED TO NEW HOME VIDEO:CUPOLA PLUCKED FROM OUTBOARD PORT VIDEO:ROBOTIC ARM GRAPPLES CUPOLA VIDEO:CREW'S EDUCATIONAL EVENT VIDEO:PREVIEW OF FLIGHT DAY 8 ACTIVITIES VIDEO:SUNDAY AFTERNOON'S FLIGHT DIRECTOR INTERVIEW VIDEO:FLIGHT DAY 7 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE VIDEO:SUNDAY MORNING'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING VIDEO:PREPPING CUPOLA'S NEW HOME PORT VIDEO:SPACEWALKERS COMPLETE OTHER OUTFITTING WORK VIDEO:AMMONIA BEGINS FLOWING TO COOL TRANQUILITY VIDEO:PATRICK'S SPACESUIT CONTAMINATION CHECKS VIDEO:SPACEWALKERS INSTALL SECOND COOLANT LOOP VIDEO:FIRST SET OF AMMONIA LINES HOOKED UP VIDEO:PREVIEW OF FLIGHT DAY 7 ACTIVITIES VIDEO:STEP-BY-STEP PREVIEW OF SPACEWALK NO. 2 VIDEO:FLIGHT DAY 6 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE VIDEO:OPENING CUPOLA'S HATCHWAY BRIEFLY VIDEO:ENTERING TRANQUILITY FOR FIRST TIME VIDEO:SPACEWALKERS ANSWER TWITTER QUESTIONS VIDEO:ASSOCIATED PRESS, CBS AND REUTERS MEDIA INTERVIEWS VIDEO:SATURDAY MORNING'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING VIDEO:PREVIEW OF FLIGHT DAY 6 ACTIVITIES VIDEO:FRIDAY AFTERNOON'S MANAGEMENT TEAM UPDATE VIDEO:FRIDAY MORNING'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING VIDEO:FLIGHT DAY 5 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE VIDEO:STEP-BY-STEP PREVIEW OF SPACEWALK NO. 1 VIDEO:PREVIEW OF FLIGHT DAY 5 ACTIVITIES VIDEO:FLIGHT DAY 4 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE VIDEO:WEDNESDAY NIGHT'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING VIDEO:SACRAMENTO, MOBILE AND ST. LOUIS MEDIA INTERVIEWS VIDEO:WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON'S MANAGEMENT TEAM UPDATE VIDEO:WEDNESDAY MORNING'S FLIGHT DIRECTOR INTERVIEW VIDEO:PREVIEW OF FLIGHT DAY 4 ACTIVITIES VIDEO:FLIGHT DAY 3 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE VIDEO:WEDNESDAY MORNING'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING VIDEO:SHUTTLE CREW WELCOMED ABOARD STATION VIDEO:HATCHWAY OPENED BETWEEN TWO SPACECRAFT VIDEO:ENDEAVOUR DOCKS TO THE SPACE STATION VIDEO:SHUTTLE FLIES OUT IN FRONT OF STATION VIDEO:ENDEAVOUR PERFORMS 360-DEGREE BACKFLIP VIDEO:STUNNING SHOT OF SHUTTLE AGAINST HORIZON VIDEO:STATION'S VIEW OF SHUTTLE ENGINE FIRING VIDEO:PREVIEW OF FLIGHT DAY 3 ACTIVITIES VIDEO:TUESDAY AFTERNOON'S MANAGEMENT TEAM UPDATE VIDEO:AMAZING LAUNCH FOOTAGE FROM COCKPIT CAMERA VIDEO:FLIGHT DAY 2 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE VIDEO:TUESDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING VIDEO:TIME-LAPSE OF WING INSPECTIONS VIDEO:INSPECTION BOOM READIED FOR USE VIDEO:PREVIEW OF FLIGHT DAY 2 ACTIVITIES VIDEO:NARRATED TOUR OF ENDEAVOUR'S PAYLOAD BAY VIDEO:FLIGHT DAY 1 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE VIDEO:THE FULL STS-130 LAUNCH EXPERIENCE VIDEO:SHUTTLE ENDEAVOUR BLASTS OFF! VIDEO:GO BEHIND THE SCENES IN MISSION CONTROL VIDEO:JETTISONED EXTERNAL FUEL TANK TUMBLES AWAY VIDEO:PAYLOAD BAY DOORS OPENED FOLLOWING LAUNCH VIDEO:CREW FINISHES GETTING SUITED UP VIDEO:ASTRONAUTS LEAVE CREW QUARTERS VIDEO:CREW ARRIVES AT LAUNCH PAD 39A VIDEO:ASTRONAUTS BOARD THEIR SPACECRAFT VIDEO:LAUNCH REPLAY: VAB ROOF VIDEO:LAUNCH REPLAY: PRESS SITE VIDEO:LAUNCH REPLAY: PAD PERIMETER VIDEO:LAUNCH REPLAY: BEACH TRACKER VIDEO:LAUNCH REPLAY: PAD CAMERA 070 VIDEO:LAUNCH REPLAY: PAD CAMERA 071 VIDEO:LAUNCH REPLAY: UCS-23 TRACKER VIDEO:LAUNCH REPLAY: PLAYALINDA BEACH VIDEO:LAUNCH REPLAY: PAD FRONT CAMERA VIDEO:LAUNCH REPLAY: BANANA CREEK SITE VIDEO:NARRATED REVIEW OF SHUTTLE'S PREPARATIONS VIDEO:NARRATED REVIEW OF PAYLOADS' PREPARATIONS VIDEO:EXPLANATION OF WEATHER PROBLEMS VIDEO:LOW CLOUDS SCRUB FIRST COUNTDOWN VIDEO:ASTRONAUTS DEPART QUARTERS FOR PAD 39A VIDEO:CREW GETS SUITED UP FOR LAUNCH ATTEMPT VIDEO:PAD SERVICE GANTRY RETRACTED VIDEO:TIME-LAPSE OF MOBILE TOWER ROLLBACK VIDEO:INTERVIEW WITH COMMANDER GEORGE ZAMKA VIDEO:INTERVIEW WITH PILOT TERRY VIRTS VIDEO:INTERVIEW WITH MISSION SPECIALIST 1 KAY HIRE VIDEO:INTERVIEW WITH MISSION SPECIALIST 2 STEVE ROBINSON VIDEO:INTERVIEW WITH MISSION SPECIALIST 3 NICK PATRICK VIDEO:INTERVIEW WITH MISSION SPECIALIST 4 BOB BEHNKEN VIDEO:ENDEAVOUR'S PRE-LAUNCH NEWS CONFERENCE VIDEO:THURSDAY STATUS AND WEATHER UPDATE VIDEO:COUNTDOWN PREVIEW BRIEFING VIDEO:ASTRONAUTS ARRIVE FOR LAUNCH VIDEO:LAUNCH DATE SET AT FLIGHT READINESS REVIEW VIDEO:PAYLOAD BAY DOORS CLOSED FOR LAUNCH VIDEO:CREW SEES TRANQUILITY LOADED INTO SHUTTLE VIDEO:SHUTTLE EVACUATION PRACTICE VIDEO:ASTRONAUTS BOARD ENDEAVOUR VIDEO:THE LAUNCH DAY SIMULATION BEGINS VIDEO:PAD BUNKER TRAINING FOR THE CREW VIDEO:CREW BRIEFED ON EMERGENCY PROCEDURES VIDEO:TEST-DRIVING AN EMERGENCY ARMORED TANK VIDEO:NIGHTTIME APPROACHES IN TRAINING AIRCRAFT VIDEO:ASTRONAUTS CHAT WITH REPORTERS AT PAD 39A VIDEO:SPACEWALKER UPDATES COOLING HOSE FIX VIDEO:ROBINSON'S THOUGHTS ON SHUTTLE RETIREMENT VIDEO:ASTRONAUTS ARRIVE FOR PRACTICE COUNTDOWN VIDEO:TRANQUILITY DELIVERED TO PAD 39A VIDEO:PAYLOAD TRANSPORTER GOES UPRIGHT VIDEO:PACKING UP PAYLOAD FOR LAUNCH VIDEO:SHUTTLE ENDEAVOUR'S FRIGID ROLLOUT TO PAD VIDEO:ENDEAVOUR HOISTED FOR ATTACHMENT TO TANK VIDEO:CRANE ROTATES THE ORBITER VERTICALLY VIDEO:ENDEAVOUR MOVES TO ASSEMBLY BUILDING VIDEO:TIME-LAPSE SHOWS ENDEAVOUR ASCENDING IN VAB VIDEO:TIME-LAPSE SHOWS THE MOVE TO ASSEMBLY BUILDING VIDEO:ORBITER READY TO LEAVE HANGAR VIDEO:EXTERNAL TANK ATTACHED TO BOOSTERS VIDEO:ENDEAVOUR'S MAIN ENGINE INSTALLATION VIDEO:ASTRONAUTS VISIT THEIR SPACECRAFT VIDEO:CREW INSPECTS MISSION PAYLOADS VIDEO:FUEL TANK UNLOADED FROM THE BARGE VIDEO:EXTERNAL TANK ARRIVES AT SPACEPORT VIDEO:FORWARD THRUSTER POD CHECKED OUT VIDEO:ENDEAVOUR TOWED OFF RUNWAY FROM STS-127 VIDEO:TRANQUILITY HATCH SEALED FOR LAUNCH VIDEO:CUPOLA ATTACHED TO TRANQUILITY VIDEO:THE SPACE STATION'S NEW CUPOLA VIDEO:TRANQUILITY UNPACKED IN FLORIDA VIDEO:NEW MODULE ARRIVES FROM EUROPE Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is now available in our store. 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    STORY WRITTEN FOR & USED WITH PERMISSIONPosted: January 27, 2010NASA managers Wednesday cleared the shuttle Endeavour for a predawn Superbowl Sunday launch Feb. 7, the first of a final five space station assembly flights before the shuttle fleet is retired later this year.Credit: Stephen Clark/Spaceflight NowThe countdown is scheduled to begin at 2 a.m. EST on Feb. 4, setting up a launchattempt at 4:39:44 a.m. Feb. 7 from launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. Itis the last planned night launch on the shuttle schedule."We reviewed all aspects of the shuttle and the space station," Bill Gerstenmaier,chief of space flight operations, said after an executive-level flight readinessreview. "The last flight of last year was a very clean flight for us, it had veryfew anomalies. Since it was such a clean flight, that allowed this review to gofairly quick, we didn't have really much to talk about."It was an extremely thorough review," he added. 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Three spacewalks by Behnken and Patrick are plannedbefore undocking Feb. 17 and landing back at the Kennedy Space Center around 11:16p.m. on Feb. 19."We're embarking on probably the last of the assembly flights to install acomplicated module on the ISS," said station Program Manager Mike Suffredini. 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Long extension hoses were ordered, but problems during recentpressure tests forced NASA to develop an alternative approach.NASA managers ultimately decided to connect shorter flight-qualified hoses to solvethe problem while improvements were ordered to bring the longer hoses up to flightstandards as a backup. Suffredini said the modified shorter hoses were ready forshipment to the Kennedy Space Center."All of that allows us to activate the node and begin the process of installing the(life support system) racks into node 3," he said.But first, engineers want to get run time on a new urine processor systemdistillation assembly being ferried up aboard Endeavour.The station's urine processing system, which converts urine into ultra-pure waterfor drinking, crew hygiene and oxygen generation, has been shut down in recent weeksbecause of problems with a critical distillation assembly. More recently, blockagein a line knocked out the part of the system that converts condensate into cleanwater."We brought home the other failed distillation assembly on the last shuttle flight,"Suffredini said. "Through a failure investigation, we found calcium deposits insidethe distillation assembly and we're doing quite a bit of investigation to determinehow to prevent that in the future."One way is to not process to as high a concentration of brine inside the system,meaning we empty the tank that carries the ultimate waste from the urine processor,we empty it a little more often. So we want to run the processor with the newdistillation assembly inside long enough to fill the tank up to the new level weplan to operate at, remove that tank and bring it home."That will take us almost the entire mission, from the time we're able to installthe spare until the time the crew has to depart," Suffredini said. 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Depending on howthat work goes, some of the life support system racks bound for Tranquility may notbe moved into the new module before Endeavour departs."It is likely during this mission we won't be moving all the regenerative ECLSS(environmental control and life support system) racks into node 3," Suffredini said."We're going to take a shot at it and get as many as we can and if we get favorableconditions such that we can have (an) extra day and nothing else is needing thatday, we may in fact stay one extra day and finish that work. It's not required, wecan get the racks all moved during the stage (after Endeavour departs). But thepreference is to try to do it during docked ops."Additional coverage for subscribers:VIDEO:LAUNCH DATE SET AT FLIGHT READINESS REVIEW VIDEO:PAYLOAD BAY DOORS CLOSED FOR LAUNCH VIDEO:CREW SEES TRANQUILITY LOADED INTO SHUTTLE VIDEO:SHUTTLE EVACUATION PRACTICE VIDEO:ASTRONAUTS BOARD ENDEAVOUR VIDEO:THE LAUNCH DAY SIMULATION BEGINS VIDEO:PAD BUNKER TRAINING FOR THE CREW VIDEO:CREW BRIEFED ON EMERGENCY PROCEDURES VIDEO:TEST-DRIVING AN EMERGENCY ARMORED TANK VIDEO:NIGHTTIME APPROACHES IN TRAINING AIRCRAFT VIDEO:ASTRONAUTS CHAT WITH REPORTERS AT PAD 39A VIDEO:SPACEWALKER UPDATES COOLING HOSE FIX VIDEO:ROBINSON'S THOUGHTS ON SHUTTLE RETIREMENT VIDEO:ASTRONAUTS ARRIVE FOR PRACTICE COUNTDOWN VIDEO:TRANQUILITY DELIVERED TO PAD 39A VIDEO:PAYLOAD TRANSPORTER GOES UPRIGHT VIDEO:PACKING UP PAYLOAD FOR LAUNCH VIDEO:SHUTTLE ENDEAVOUR'S FRIGID ROLLOUT TO PAD VIDEO:ENDEAVOUR HOISTED FOR ATTACHMENT TO TANK VIDEO:CRANE ROTATES THE ORBITER VERTICALLY VIDEO:ENDEAVOUR MOVES TO ASSEMBLY BUILDING VIDEO:TIME-LAPSE SHOWS ENDEAVOUR ASCENDING IN VAB VIDEO:TIME-LAPSE SHOWS THE MOVE TO ASSEMBLY BUILDING VIDEO:ORBITER READY TO LEAVE HANGAR VIDEO:EXTERNAL TANK ATTACHED TO BOOSTERS VIDEO:ENDEAVOUR'S MAIN ENGINE INSTALLATION VIDEO:ASTRONAUTS VISIT THEIR SPACECRAFT VIDEO:CREW INSPECTS MISSION PAYLOADS VIDEO:FUEL TANK UNLOADED FROM THE BARGE VIDEO:EXTERNAL TANK ARRIVES AT SPACEPORT VIDEO:FORWARD THRUSTER POD CHECKED OUT VIDEO:ENDEAVOUR TOWED OFF RUNWAY FROM STS-127 VIDEO:TRANQUILITY HATCH SEALED FOR LAUNCH VIDEO:CUPOLA ATTACHED TO TRANQUILITY VIDEO:THE SPACE STATION'S NEW CUPOLA VIDEO:TRANQUILITY UNPACKED IN FLORIDA VIDEO:NEW MODULE ARRIVES FROM EUROPE John Glenn Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The historic first orbital flight by an American is marked by this commemorative patch for John Glenn and Friendship 7.Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is available in our store. Get this piece of history!Celebrate the shuttle programFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This special commemorative patch marks the retirement of NASA's Space Shuttle Program. Available in our store!Anniversary Shuttle PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This embroidered patch commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program. The design features the space shuttle Columbia's historic maiden flight of April 12, 1981.Mercury anniversaryFree shipping to U.S. addresses!Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alan Shephard's historic Mercury mission with this collectors' item, the official commemorative embroidered patch.Fallen Heroes Patch CollectionThe official patches from Apollo 1, the shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews are available in the store. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Next shuttle crew flies to Cape for practice countdown SPACEFLIGHT NOWPosted: January 18, 2010 Commander George Zamka and his crew of space station builders reached Kennedy Space Center at sundown Monday for this week's emergency training exercises and a countdown dress rehearsal.Credit: NASA TVJoined by pilot Terry Virts, veteran mission specialists Kay Hire and Steve Robinson, and spacewalkers Bob Behnken and Nick Patrick, the astronauts flew from Houston to the Cape aboard several two-seater T-38 jets."We just flew over Endeavour out on the pad and she looks just beautiful. We can't wait to borrow her for a couple of weeks," Robinson told reporters at the runway shortly after arrival."It's wonderful to be here at the Kennedy Space Center," Zamka said. "This is a very special trip for us. It marks the transition for us from flight preparation and training to the operational stage of our flight."Every shuttle crew undergoes the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test, or TCDT, in the final weeks before a planned launch. While in Florida, the astronauts will spend time learning how to evacuate pad 39A if an emergency arises, including procedures to operate the slide-wire baskets that would quickly whisk the crew from the launch tower to a bunker west of the pad, and test-drive an armored tank available for the astronauts to escape the area.On Thursday, the crew will board Endeavour for a full countdown simulation. The astronauts will follow a normal launch morning routine with breakfast, a weather briefing on conditions at the Cape and various abort landing sites, then don their suits and depart crew quarters at about 7:45 a.m. to board the Astrovan that will take them to pad 39A.After arriving shortly past 8 a.m., all six astronauts will climb inside Endeavour and strap into their assigned seats for the final three hours of the mock countdown.Clocks will halt in the final seconds to simulate a shutdown of the three main engines just prior to liftoff around 11 a.m. The crew will egress the shuttle and practice scurrying to the slide-wire baskets.Later, they'll return to Houston to resume final mission preps at their base there.Endeavour is targeting a predawn blastoff on February 7 to deliver the Tranquility module to the International Space Station. If all remains on schedule, the astronauts will jet into KSC on February 2 for the start of the real countdown to launch."Really looking forward to working with all the great hardware that's been prepared for us here. Folks have worked really hard and we're very happy to take this fantastic vehicle on orbit," said Hire, a former spaceport worker who was born in Mobile, Alabama, but also considers Florida's Merritt Island home.Additional coverage for subscribers:VIDEO:ASTRONAUTS ARRIVE FOR PRACTICE COUNTDOWN VIDEO:SHUTTLE ENDEAVOUR'S FRIGID ROLLOUT TO PAD VIDEO:ENDEAVOUR HOISTED FOR ATTACHMENT TO TANK VIDEO:CRANE ROTATES THE ORBITER VERTICALLY VIDEO:ENDEAVOUR MOVES TO ASSEMBLY BUILDING VIDEO:TIME-LAPSE SHOWS ENDEAVOUR ASCENDING IN VAB VIDEO:TIME-LAPSE SHOWS THE MOVE TO ASSEMBLY BUILDING VIDEO:ORBITER READY TO LEAVE HANGAR VIDEO:EXTERNAL TANK ATTACHED TO BOOSTERS VIDEO:ENDEAVOUR'S MAIN ENGINE INSTALLATION VIDEO:ASTRONAUTS VISIT THEIR SPACECRAFT VIDEO:CREW INSPECTS MISSION PAYLOADS VIDEO:FUEL TANK UNLOADED FROM THE BARGE VIDEO:EXTERNAL TANK ARRIVES AT SPACEPORT VIDEO:FORWARD THRUSTER POD CHECKED OUT VIDEO:ENDEAVOUR TOWED OFF RUNWAY FROM STS-127 VIDEO:TRANQUILITY HATCH SEALED FOR LAUNCH VIDEO:CUPOLA ATTACHED TO TRANQUILITY VIDEO:THE SPACE STATION'S NEW CUPOLA VIDEO:TRANQUILITY UNPACKED IN FLORIDA VIDEO:NEW MODULE ARRIVES FROM EUROPE John Glenn Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The historic first orbital flight by an American is marked by this commemorative patch for John Glenn and Friendship 7.Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is available in our store. Get this piece of history!Celebrate the shuttle programFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This special commemorative patch marks the retirement of NASA's Space Shuttle Program. Available in our store!Anniversary Shuttle PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This embroidered patch commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program. The design features the space shuttle Columbia's historic maiden flight of April 12, 1981.Mercury anniversaryFree shipping to U.S. addresses!Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alan Shephard's historic Mercury mission with this collectors' item, the official commemorative embroidered patch.Fallen Heroes Patch CollectionThe official patches from Apollo 1, the shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews are available in the store. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Next shuttle mission faces changes due to payload issue BY WILLIAM HARWOOD
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    Orbital Sciences Corp. shared this image of the Minotaur 5's ascent from Washington, D.C. See a . Credit: Abraham Ng/Orbital Sciences Corp.New military communications satellite could 'save lives'SPACEFLIGHT NOWPosted: September 28, 2011KODIAK, Alaska -- Leaving a wake of fire and smoke twisting above the jagged Alaska coastline, a Minotaur rocket fired away from a remote launch pad Tuesday and released a U.S. Navy satellite in orbit give military forces better communications links on the battlefield.The Minotaur 4 rocket blasted off from Kodiak Launch Complex in Alaska at 1549 GMT (11:49 a.m. EDT; 7:49 a.m. Alaska time) Tuesday and rapidly soared into space on the power of retired stages from the Peacekeeper missile.A solid-fueled fourth stage injected the payload into orbit, then the spacecraft used its own thrusters to reach its operational position in space about two-and-a-half hours after launch."The launch went well," said Lou Amorosi, senior vice president for the Minotaur rocket at Orbital Sciences Corp. "Looking at the data, it looks like everything went nominal. We met all of our insertion requirements. The deployment rates when we deployed the satellite were all well within our expecations. Everyone seems to be very happy."It was the sixth launch in about a year for the Minotaur rocket family, which recycles components from decommissioned Minuteman and Peacekeeper nuclear missiles to propel satellites into space."I'm very proud of the team and the dedication the team's had," Amorosi said. "Just in the last 12 months, we've had six missions from three different launch sites."The 1,000-pound satellite is flying in a unique, gravitationally-stable orbit ranging from 400 miles high to more than 7,300 miles in altitude. From that orbit, the craft's UHF communications package will connect military units via radio. Sketch of TacSat 4 with solar arrays and antenna deployed. Credit: Naval Research LaboratoryNamed TacSat 4, the satellite was developed under the auspices of the military's Operationally Responsive Space office, which was chartered to investigate and fly less costly niche missions designed to serve tactical needs.TacSat 4 flies three times closer to Earth than traditional military communications satellites, meaning users on the ground have nine times the signal strength compared to legacy systems in higher orbits."You're using basically a glorified walkie-talkie to talk anywhere inside of the satellite's field of view, and that's just a huge game-changer," said Peter Wegner, director of the ORS office.And unlike those more advanced spacecraft, which sometimes cost more than $1 billion, TacSat 4 was built and launched for $118 million, according to the Air Force."Our job is to really explore the capabilities that we can bring to the fight with smaller, lower-cost systems like this," Wegner said. "One of the things TacSat 4 can do is really augment that communication capability around the world."The TacSat 4 mission is managed by the Naval Research Laboratory. It is the lab's 100th satellite. The TacSat 4 satellite encapsuled inside the Minotaur rocket's payload fairing. Credit: Naval Research Laboratory"TacSat 4 supports a critical warfighting requirement: communication," said Rear Adm. Nevin Carr, chief of naval research. "We've developed a technology that will supplement traditional satellites, giving military personnel on the ground another outlet for data transmission and facilitating 'comms on the move.'"Mike Hurley, head of spacecraft development at NRL, said TacSat 4's orbit allows it to fly higher in the sky in battle zones like Afghanistan for up to two hours at a time. Lower altitude satellites are in view for less than 10 minutes a few times a day, while existing geosynchronous communications spacecraft are near the horizon and blocked by rugged mountain ranges."This is a higher orbit, which Kodiak allows and ORS enhanced the Minotaur 4 so we could get a little higher," Hurley said. "Between those two, then if you're in a mountain valley, the satellite is coming up quite a bit higher versus being down on the horizon."Soldiers today must find a clearing with some elevation to reach satellites orbiting over the equator, often putting them in harm's way."Imagine you're deployed in Afghanistan in some mountain valley trying to get communications, and there's Taliban all around, you have to climb up on a mountain ridge, point that thing at a GEO satellite and sit there and talk," Wegner said. Liftoff occurred at 1549 GMT (11:49 a.m. EDT; 7:49 a.m. Alaska time) from Kodiak Launch Complex, Alaska. Credit: William Hartenstein/Orbital Sciences Corp.Although TacSat 4 will only provide limited coverage, a fleet of four satellites could provide constant communications over a specific region like the Middle East or Afghanistan. TacSat 4 is considered an experiment, but the military plans to transition the satellite into normal military operations in about one year.Military officials say such a multi-satellite constellation, if deployed, will save lives."One of the first medal of honor winners was Lt. Mike Murphy, who was a SEAL team member," Wegner said. "He and his SEAL team were pinned down by insurgents, he hiked up on this ridge to call for support and was mortally wounded doing it."John Glenn Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The historic first orbital flight by an American is marked by this commemorative patch for John Glenn and Friendship 7.Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is available in our store. Get this piece of history!Celebrate the shuttle programFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This special commemorative patch marks the retirement of NASA's Space Shuttle Program. Available in our store!Anniversary Shuttle PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This embroidered patch commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program. The design features the space shuttle Columbia's historic maiden flight of April 12, 1981.Mercury anniversaryFree shipping to U.S. addresses!Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alan Shephard's historic Mercury mission with this collectors' item, the official commemorative embroidered patch.Fallen Heroes Patch CollectionThe official patches from Apollo 1, the shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews are available in the store. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.New Minotaur 5 rocket tailored for moon mission SPACEFLIGHT NOWPosted: September 5, 2013 WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. -- NASA's new moon mission, designed to survey the little-known lunar atmosphere, will blast off from Virginia on Friday aboard a U.S. Air Force Minotaur 5 rocket assembled from stockpiled Peacekeeper missile motors originally built to hurl nuclear weapons at targets across the globe. The Minotaur 5 rocket on the launch pad. Credit: Patrick Black/NASAThe Minotaur 5 rocket, standing 80 feet tall, is making its first flight Friday, but the five-stage launcher leans heavily on proven technology used on previous rockets which have successfully launched 23 times since 2000.Conceived as a relatively inexpensive answer to rising launch costs facing U.S. military space programs, the Minotaur rocket family was developed by Orbital Sciences Corp. under contract with the Air Force.Three versions - the Minotaur 1, Minotaur 4 and Minotaur 5 - are capable of launching small satellites. Other Minotaur configurations have launched on suborbital missions in support of missile defense testing."This is a dream come true for me," said Lou Amorosi, director of the Minotaur program at Orbital Sciences. "I have always wanted to help launch something to the moon. In fact, when we started looking at designing the Minotaur 5 about 10 years ago, we tried to find the right mix of rocket stages to enable a lunar mission."The Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer, or LADEE, stands 7.7 feet tall, stretches 4.7 feet in diameter and weighs 844 pounds, easily fitting inside the Minotaur 5's 92-inch diameter composite payload fairing.Orbital Sciences won the LADEE launch contract in 2009 through an arrangement with the Air Force, which oversees the Minotaur program. Orbital acts as the Minotaur prime contractor and operator.NASA's policy is to seek commercial launch opportunities for its science missions, but agency officials said there was no commercial launch option at the time. Smaller rockets, such as Orbital's Pegasus and Taurus vehicles, were not large enough to do the job. More powerful launchers, such as the United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket, would have been overkill.Faced with that dilemma, NASA approached the Air Force to secure a launch aboard a Minotaur 5 rocket. Virginia was selected as the launch site because it already has Minotaur launch facilities in place, Amorosi said. The Minotaur 5 rocket inside the mobile gantry at launch pad 0B. Credit: Stephen Clark/Spaceflight NowAccording to Amorosi, the LADEE launch contract is worth $55 million, including development of the new Minotaur 5 upper stage.The launch of LADEE is the first Minotaur 5 mission to lift off from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, a complex leased and operated by the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority on property owned by NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia's Eastern Shore.Situated on a barrier island just a stone's throw from the beach, launch pad 0B has hosted four Minotaur 1 launches since 2006. But the Minotaur 5's Peacekeeper first stage is nearly 7.7 feet in diameter, larger than the Minotaur 1's first stage, which comes from a decommissioned Minuteman missile.Amorosi said technicians replaced work platforms inside the launch pad's mobile service gantry to accommodate the larger diameter rocket, and the structure's height was extended to 127 feet tall to support the bigger Minotaur 5 booster.The Minotaur 5's three lower stages, all taken from the military's Peacekeeper stockpile, are identical to the motors flown on five previous Minotaur 4 missions. The most recent Minotaur 4 launch in 2011 also used the same Star 48 fourth stage motor as the Minotaur 5.The Minotaur 5 employs an extra fifth stage to boost payloads into higher orbits. Diagram of the Minotaur 5 rocket, showing which components have flight heritage. Credit: NASAFive solid-fueled motors will power LADEE into a high-altitude orbit stretching 172,000 miles into space:The SR118 first stage motor, originally built by ATK, fires for approximately 57 seconds and produces about 500,000 pounds of thrust.The SR119 second stage, originally built by Aerojet Rocketdyne, fires for about 78 seconds.The Hercules SR120 third stage, the last of the three Peacekeeper motors to fire, burns for for 72 seconds.The ATK Star 48BV fourth stage, a commercial motor used on previous Minotaur, Delta 2 and space shuttle missions, burns for 85 seconds.The ATK Star 37FM fifth stage, similar to a flight-proven satellite kick motor, flies on a Minotaur 5 rocket for the first time, firing for 63 seconds. The fifth stage is spin-stabilized, using tiny thrusters to spin up the rocket before ignition and yo-yo-like weights to slow down the spin before spacecraft separation.See our for more details on the Minotaur 5's flight.John Glenn Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The historic first orbital flight by an American is marked by this commemorative patch for John Glenn and Friendship 7.Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is available in our store. Get this piece of history!Celebrate the shuttle programFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This special commemorative patch marks the retirement of NASA's Space Shuttle Program. Available in our store!Anniversary Shuttle PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This embroidered patch commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program. The design features the space shuttle Columbia's historic maiden flight of April 12, 1981.Mercury anniversaryFree shipping to U.S. addresses!Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alan Shephard's historic Mercury mission with this collectors' item, the official commemorative embroidered patch.Fallen Heroes Patch CollectionThe official patches from Apollo 1, the shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews are available in the store. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.NRO pathfinder satellite scheduled to launch SaturdaySPACEFLIGHT NOWPosted: February 2, 2011The U.S. military plans to launch a Minotaur rocket Saturday with a secret technology research mission for the National Reconnaissance Office, the government agency that oversees the country's spy satellites. The Minotaur rocket's lower assembly, composed of retired Minuteman missile stages, is stacked on the launch pad. Credit: U.S. Air ForceThe solid-fueled Orbital Sciences Corp. Minotaur 1 launcher is scheduled to lift off some time Saturday from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The launch window is a secret for now, but the Air Force plans to announce a time for the blastoff Thursday evening.The release of the launch time will come after the Launch Readiness Review adjourns Thursday to give approval for final flight preparations, according to an Air Force spokesperson.The NRO is keeping quiet on the mission's specifics, but the agency says it is part of a science and technology development effort to lay the groundwork for future systems."If you have heard our director speak, one of his priorities is to have a healthy science and technology effort," said Rick Oborn, an NRO spokesperson. "This particular payload carries some of the work we do in techniques and methods to improve intelligence collection. All part of our work to keep improving the value of our data."The satellite is known as RPP, which stands for the Rapid Pathfinder Program. The launch is codenamed NROL-66 in the spy agency's rocket acquisition naming system."It is an NRO mission using a small rocket, which would denote a lighter payload," Oborn told Spaceflight Now.Bruce Carlson, director of the NRO, told an Air Force Association meeting in September the agency is renewing its commitment to science and technology programs.Carlson said he was troubled by a drop in science and technology investment when he became director in 2009.Next year's NRO budget request will call for more science and technology funding, increasing the agency's research budget back to historical levels, according to Carlson."My plan is that ten years from now, when somebody is standing up here, they'll be able to say 60 percent of the technology that we put into this [new] satellite came out of our [science and technology] program," Carlson said in September. "Unlike the Air Force's and the other services' science and technology, mine is a little bit more predictable because even though what the particular advances are I don't know, I know that I'm pretty much going to be doing signals intelligence, I'm going to be doing imaging intelligence, and I'm going to be doing communications." Stacking of the Minotaur 1 rocket's third and fourth stages and the 50-inch payload fairing. Credit: U.S. Air ForceThe NRO's overall budget and the cost of the RPP mission are classified.The spacecraft could be testing new radar or optical imaging sensors to be employed on the next generation of U.S. reconnaissance satellites.The Minotaur rocket will travel south from the California coast, according to a notice to pilots released Wednesday. Launches flying south from Vandenberg usually deploy payloads in polar orbits used by Earth observation satellites.The 62-foot-tall rocket will launch from Space Launch Complex 8 in the southern part of Vandenberg. The vehicle is now fully assembled at the launch pad, according to the Air Force.Minotaur 1 rockets are made up of decommissioned Minuteman missile stages and parts from Pegasus and Taurus commercial launchers.The booster could lift up to 800 pounds to a low-altitude polar orbit. Its 50-inch-diameter payload fairing could fit a satellite the size of a large kitchen refrigerator. The Minotaur's specifications provide an upper limit for the size and mass of the spacecraft to be launched Saturday.Most NRO payloads are much larger.The agency often uses Atlas and Delta rockets to haul hefty satellites into space. A Delta 4-Heavy launch Jan. 20 from Vandenberg orbited a high-resolution imaging platform the size of a school bus.Saturday's launch will be the first time the NRO has flown a payload on a Minotaur rocket."We will use smaller vehicles from time to time as we match payloads," Oborn said.John Glenn Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The historic first orbital flight by an American is marked by this commemorative patch for John Glenn and Friendship 7.Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is available in our store. Get this piece of history!Celebrate the shuttle programFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This special commemorative patch marks the retirement of NASA's Space Shuttle Program. Available in our store!Anniversary Shuttle PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This embroidered patch commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program. The design features the space shuttle Columbia's historic maiden flight of April 12, 1981.Mercury anniversaryFree shipping to U.S. addresses!Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alan Shephard's historic Mercury mission with this collectors' item, the official commemorative embroidered patch.Fallen Heroes Patch CollectionThe official patches from Apollo 1, the shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews are available in the store. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Payload cache prepared for launchSeven satellites carrying 16 experiments for the U.S. military, NASA and universities will ride a Minotaur 4 rocket into orbit. Liftoff from the Kodiak Launch Complex in Alaska is scheduled for Nov. 19 at 8:24 p.m. Eastern time (4:24 p.m. Alaska time). These photos chronicle processing of the satellites at Kodiak.Photo credit: U.S. Air Force/Lou HernandezTechnicians install acoustic insulation inside the Minotaur rocket's payload fairing.Workers prepare to lift NASA's FASTSAT technology demonstration spacecraft onto the payload deck.Two FASTRAC satellites from the University of Texas are lowered into place.The U.S. Air Force STPSat 2 spacecraft is guided toward its attach point on the Minotaur payload adapter.The FalconSat 5 payload from the U.S. Air Force Academy is added to the spacecraft stack. A portion of the Minotaur's nose cone is visible on the right side of the image.The four largest satellites on the STP-S26 mission are bolted to the payload dispenser. STPSat 2, FASTRAC, FalconSat 5, and FASTSAT are visible in this image.The four largest satellites on the STP-S26 mission are bolted to the payload dispenser. STPSat 2, FASTRAC, FalconSat 5, and FASTSAT are visible in this image.Engineers from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo unpack the RAX CubeSat, an NSF-sponsored spacecraft built in collaboration by the University of Michigan and SRI International.Engineers unpack the O/OREOS CubeSat, a NASA Ames Research Center payload that will study the response of organic specimens to the space environment. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Space surveillance project successfully blasts offSPACEFLIGHT NOWPosted: September 26, 2010Leaving behind the earthly limitations imposed on reconnoitering space, a telescope-laden sleuth was launched Saturday night to survey the dangers of orbital debris and monitor nefarious threats against vital national security satellites.Credit: Gene Blevins/LA Daily NewsThe Space Based Space Surveillance mission streaked into a sun-synchronous orbit 336 miles above the planet following a successful boost provided by the Minotaur 4 rocket.Blasting away from Space Launch Complex 8 on the southern end of Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., the 15-minute ascent began as scheduled at 9:41 p.m. PDT (12:41 a.m. EDT).The initial three-and-a-half minutes of flight were powered by left-over motor stages from decommissioned Peacekeeper intercontinental ballistic missiles. The three stages propelled the SBSS satellite into a suborbital arc while traveling southward over the Pacific Ocean.A commercial Orion 38 solid-fuel motor serving at the Minotaur's fourth stage then delivered the necessary kick to inject the 2,275-pound satellite into the planned circular orbit.It marked a flawless maiden mission for the Minotaur 4 in its satellite-launching configuration, giving the Air Force a new proven rocket to launch mid-sized cargos weighing as much as two tons.Orbital Sciences Corp. oversees the Minotaur rocket program for the military, now having conducted 18 launches successfully to date. Many of those previous flights were Minotaur 1 rockets, which utilize Minuteman missile stages to loft half-ton payloads. Other Minotaur versions that have flown were suborbital vehicles.The star of Saturday's show was SBSS, the satellite observatory at the heart of a $858 million project that promises dramatic improvements in the military's ability to identify and track items in orbit."SBSS will help make our space assets safer and more secure, keeping America at the forefront of space," says Col. J.R. Jordan, SBSS mission director."This satellite is going to revolutionize the way we track objects in space by not being constrained by weather, the atmosphere or the time of day. This capability will be essential to our space situational awareness architecture for the near future and beyond."Minotaur streaks to space with SBSS. Credit: Gene Blevins/LA Daily NewsEquipped with an 11.8-inch telescope and 2.4 megapixel focal plane, the craft will use its optical eyes to image the sky and provide analysts the data they need to keep better tabs on space debris and guard against accidental collisions.What's more, the reconnaissance provided by SBSS will watch for potential risks posed to the military's communications, navigation, weather and spy satellites by enemy interference."Every day, threats to our nation's valuable satellites and space platforms are growing," Jordan said. "SBSS will revolutionize our ability to find and monitor objects that could harm the space assets we depend on for security, communications, weather forecasting and many other essential services."Accidental smashups, such as last year's crash between an Iridium telephone bird and a defunct Russian craft, or the earlier Chinese anti-satellite test that destroyed a spacecraft illustrate how Earth orbit has become a contested environment.Enhancing situational awareness in space has become a major objective for the military. Putting a satellite into orbit to scan the sky will narrow gaps in ground-based space tracking that is limited by geographic locations, nighttime viewing and clouds."Space situational awareness is an essential component to maintaining space superiority. The benefits that SBSS brings is that by operating solely in space the SBSS satellite will circumvent the current terrestrial restrictions and limitations of weather, Earth line-of-sight and nighttime-only operations. This capability that SBSS will deliver will triple the probability of event detection, double the sensitivity and increase capacity by 10 times," said Lt. Col. Robert Erickson, SBSS Space Situational Awareness Squadron commander.The Boeing Co. leads the SBSS project and Ball Aerospace built the satellite based on the BCP-2000 bus. A pair of solar wings feed the craft's electricity needs, a two-axis gimbal enables rapid pointing of the optics and the onboard computer can be reprogrammed with updates."The big advantage from a design perspective of SBSS is by having the camera on a two-axis gimbal we can very rapidly point and take pictures of the sky where we like. That agility is very important," said Todd Citron, Boeing's director of advanced space and intelligence systems. "The onboard computer that Boeing supplies we can upload new algorithms over time and continue to improve the performance on-orbit." Artist's concept of the SBSS spacecraft. Credit: Ball AerospaceEarly on-orbit testing and commissioning activities for SBSS will last several months. Also, maneuvers are planned to raise the orbit by more than 50 miles to the intended operational perch. Acceptance of the satellite into full service is slated to occur by next spring.So how exactly does the SBSS observing process work?"The system receives tasking from the Joint Space Operations Center. It takes that tasking and converts it into commands that go up to the spacecraft. This satellite has a digital camera that's on a two-axis gimbal. So the commands sent up to the satellite basically tell the satellite where to point the camera and to take a picture. That data then is downlinked to a ground site," Citron said."That information could either be what's referred to as metric data -- basically positional information on the objects we're viewing that would allow one to compute orbits, or also it could be what's called space object identification, or SOI, information which one could use to perhaps get a sense of what kind of object one is looking at."However, officials won't say exactly what size objects SBSS can see. "We will say there are a lot of objects up there that we've lost track on and there are a lot of objects that we think we'll be able to observe that we haven't been able to observe previously. We're going to improve that database and actual tracking on a daily basis," Jordan said.Many thousands of objects are routinely tracked by the military today using ground-based radars and telescopes. But there's vastly more bits and pieces of space junk circling the planet not being watched that could damage spacecraft that are woven into daily life, such as commercial television satellites."I think it's clear that our country is very dependent on space," Citron said. "To the person on the street this is a critical element of ensuring that things essential to our economy and our health as a nation continue."And even the military's Global Positioning System constellation of satellites has become an intergal part of everyday civilian life."Just about everything you do is synchronized to GPS time, from your banking transactions or point-of-sale purchases with your credit card and so forth. If that capability went away, it would have a tremendous impact on the economy," Citron said."So our economy and our military are very dependent on space, which makes it a potential target for adversaries. Understanding what's going on in space is very important...That's the motivation for space situational awareness."The SBSS has a seven-year design life, and additional surveillance satellites could be envisioned to further improve the observing capacity."The Air Force, in general, is pursuing what the longterm architecture should be for space situational awareness. We've been doing our own studies of architectures and when you look at various tradeoffs in terms of the constellation we certainly see advantages to having more than one satellite up there," Citron said.Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is now available in our store. Get this piece of history!STS-134 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Endeavour is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-134. Available in our store!Ares 1-X PatchThe official embroidered patch for the Ares 1-X rocket test flight, is available for purchase.Apollo CollageThis beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.Project OrionThe Orion crew exploration vehicle is NASA's first new human spacecraft developed since the space shuttle a quarter-century earlier. The capsule is one of the key elements of returning astronauts to the Moon.Fallen Heroes Patch CollectionThe official patches from Apollo 1, the shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews are available in the store. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Student-built satellites, military payloads put in orbit SPACEFLIGHT NOWPosted: November 19, 2013 Crowned with a record-setting horde of 29 satellites, a Minotaur 1 rocket bounded into space from Virginia on Tuesday night and put on an evening sky show before releasing the medley of spacecraft more than 300 miles above Earth. Liftoff of the Minotaur 1 rocket occurred at 8:15 p.m. EST (0115 GMT) from Wallops Island, Va. Credit: Orbital Sciences Corp.The 69-foot-tall booster raced off its launch pad on Virginia's Eastern Shore at 8:15 p.m. EST Tuesday (0115 GMT Wednesday), soaring past the speed of sound in less than 30 seconds and leaving a plume of rocket exhaust in its wake.Sponsored by the U.S. Defense Department's Operationally Responsive Space office, the fiery launch from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility was delayed 45 minutes Tuesday evening as technicians resolved a problem with a downrange tracking station in North Carolina.Accompanied in the sky by a nearly full moon, the Minotaur rocket rapidly became a point of light visible from South Carolina to New England as it transited the Atlantic Ocean at more than 10,000 mph.The four-stage rocket is based on leftover solid-fueled motors from the U.S. Air Force's Minuteman missile program. Designers added two Orion motors on top of the Minuteman hardware to turn the bomb carriers into satellite launchers.The Minotaur's fourth stage burned out about 9 minutes after liftoff, and live commentary from the launch team indicated the rocket achieved the targeted orbit 310 miles above Earth with an inclination of 40.5 degrees.The successful launch marked the 11th flawless Minotaur 1 mission since the rocket entered service in 2000. Coupled with four space launches using the larger Minotaur 4 and 5 rockets based on the Peacekeeper missile, the Minotaur program has delivered 74 satellites to orbit on 15 flights, according to Orbital Sciences Corp., the Minotaur's commercial contractor.Tuesday's launch was the last Minotaur rocket flight on contract with Orbital Sciences, but the company is eligible to bid on future missions and officials expect more contract awards in the coming years.The largest of the mission's 29 payloads, a satellite named STPSat 3, separated from the rocket on schedule about 12 minutes into the mission, according to the launch team.Dubbed the ORS 3 or "enabler" mission, the Air Force arranged the launch to test automated trajectory targeting, an autonomous flight termination system and a commercial procurement process that officials said reduced the time and cost needed to get the mission off the ground.The autonomous flight termination system, provided by ATK, is designed to track the rocket's flight path with GPS navigation and destroy the vehicle if it veers off course. That job is currently done by a safety officer on the ground who sends a manual destruct command if something goes wrong.The autonomous destruct system for Tuesday's launch was in a passive mode, and someone was on station in the control center to push the flight termination button if necessary. The Minotaur 1's ascent to space was visible along the East Coast. This image looking across the Potomac River was taken at the waterfront in Alexandria, Va. Credit: Peter Ozdzynski"These enablers not only focus on the ability to execute a rapid call-up mission, but they also reduce engineering hours from months to days, resulting in decreased mission costs," said Jeff Welsh, ORS 3 mission director at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M.Welsh said the destruct system demonstrator flying on the Minotaur 1 rocket was making the first of three flights required for certification of the new flight termination unit. It is compatible with almost all launch ranges in the United States, according to Welsh, but no timetable has been set for its operational debutTuesday's launch cost $28.8 million, a figure that includes the rocket, launch support and the integration of the 29 payloads, Welsh said. But the number does not include the cost of developing the individual satellites.The ORS office was set up as a trailblazer for the Air Force's space programs, which have struggled with cost overruns and delays. There is a push from Congress and from within the service to spread the military's space missions among a larger number of modest satellites, a strategy the Air Force calls "disaggregation.""It all depends on the mission and it depends on the subset of requirements that we can tackle with these types of capabilities - these CubeSats or nanosatellites - but they are factoring in the concepts we're evaluating as we go into the analysis of alternatives for a number of different mission areas, now and in the near future," said Col. Scott Beidleman, director of the development planning directorate at the Air Force's Space and Missile Systems Center.The White House's last two budget proposals have zeroed out funding for the ORS program, seeking to merge it with the rest of the Air Force's procurement office at the Space and Missile Systems Center. But Congress has balked at the idea so far, adding funding back to Operationally Responsive Space in budget negotiations. STPSat 3 during assembly and testing before launch. Credit: Ball AerospaceThe experimental STPSat 3 satellite is about the size of a dorm room mini-refrigerator, according to the spacecraft's manufacturer, Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp. of Boulder, Colo.STPSat 3 hosts five sensors aimed at testing advanced satellite components and measuring plasma, the ionosphere and the amount of solar radiation hitting Earth's atmosphere.One of the $55 million STPSat 3 mission's instruments is a stopgap payload to continue a 35-year data record on the sun's total energy output, a measurement known as total solar irradiance. NASA's existing solar irradiance instruments are on aging satellites, and the next opportunity to fly a comparable sensor is not until 2016."We're launching this one just in time to make sure there isn't a gap in this important measurement," said Ken Reese, the Air Force's STPSat 3 mission manager.Solar irradiance measurements are important to calibrate climate models, according to scientists.A joint project between NASA and NOAA, the solar energy monitor was rushed on the STPSat 3 mission after a launch failure doomed NASA's Glory climate satellite and its solar irradiance experiment in 2011.After releasing STPSat 3, the Minotaur rocket's upper stage maneuvered a safe distance away from the spacecraft before beginning the sequence to jettison 28 CubeSats that rode inside "wafers" during launch.The CubeSats included the first satellite ever built by high school students, a 2.2-pound device that features an amateur radio transmitter and a "Text Speak" module designed to convert text messages into an analog voice signal, according to the TJ3Sat satellite's website.TJ3Sat was assembled by more than 50 students over seven years at the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Va.Other CubeSats on the mission included a smartphone-based demo satellite for NASA, a tactical military communications satellite, a miniature space debris tracker, and a slew of tiny spacecraft testing cameras and miniaturized components.Check out a of the spacecraft launched Tuesday by the Minotaur 1 rocket. Artist's concept of TJ3Sat in orbit. Credit: Orbital Sciences Corp."Payloads were selected on a number of criteria," Welsh said in a conference call with reporters before the launch. "However, the main objective was to find payloads with military utility and/or relevancy."The deployment of the CubeSats occurred when the rocket was out of range of communications antennas on the ground, so the health of the satellites could not be verified late Tuesday. The operators of each satellite expected to receive their first signals some time Wednesday when they soar over ground stations.Johns Hopkins University issued a statement Tuesday night confirming two of its shoebox-sized CubeSats launched on the Minotaur radioed mission controllers, indicating the separation of the CubeSats was initiated as planned.Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: .STS-134 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Endeavour is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-134. Available in our store!Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is now available in our store. Get this piece of history!Apollo CollageThis beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.STS-133 PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The final planned flight of space shuttle Discovery is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-133. Available in our store!Anniversary Shuttle PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This embroidered patch commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program. The design features the space shuttle Columbia's historic maiden flight of April 12, 1981.Mercury anniversaryFree shipping to U.S. addresses!Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alan Shephard's historic Mercury mission with this collectors' item, the official commemorative embroidered patch. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Tactical military satellite due for launch on Minotaur rocketSPACEFLIGHT NOWPosted: June 27, 2011The U.S. Air Force plans to launch a $226 million mission aboard a Minotaur rocket Tuesday to reshape how deployed forces receive battlefield imagery from space, a breakthrough in the Pentagon's program to field tactical satellites on smaller budgets and faster schedules. The Minotaur 1 rocket stands ready for launch from Wallops Island, Va. Credit: Thom Baur/Orbital Sciences Corp.The Minotaur 1 rocket, partially composed of decommissioned Minuteman missile stages, is scheduled to ignite and soar into space at 8:28 p.m. EDT Tuesday (0028 GMT Wednesday) from pad 0B at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, a commercial facility located on the grounds of NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia's Eastern Shore.The launch window extends for three hours, according to NASA and Air Force officials. But there is a 70 percent chance weather could violate preset rules and force a delay.After accelerating into orbit on the power of four solid-fueled rocket motors, the Minotaur launch vehicle should release the ORS 1 spacecraft 248 miles above Earth less than 12 minutes after liftoff.Officials postponed the launch from earlier this year to ensure the Minotaur does not suffer the same fate of a Taurus rocket that failed to jettison its nose cone a few minutes after liftoff in March. A NASA climate research satellite was lost in the March mishap.Although the rockets are different, they share a similar separation system in the payload fairing, a clamshell-like structure that protects the satellite during the early phases of launch. Once the rocket is above the dense lower atmosphere, the shroud is released to jettison weight.Orbital Sciences Corp., the contractor for the Taurus and Minotaur rockets, completed its investigation into the March launch failure, according to Lou Amorosi, Orbital's vice president for the Minotaur program."They found a design susceptibility in the fairing separation system," Amorosi said. "That is the most probable cause of the failure, and that susceptibility was demonstrated through ground testing. We did do similar testing on Minotaur because we do share some components with Taurus, and what we found is the Minotaur is much less susceptible to this issue."But "to be absolutely safe" in the wake of the Taurus mishap, Amorosi said Orbital recommended making minor modifications to the Minotaur rocket to ensure the ORS 1 mission is not struck by the same anomaly. The Air Force agreed with the changes, which included a software and a mechanical modification, according to Amorosi.The ORS 1 satellite is the first operational platform to be fielded by a military division chartered to reduce the costs and timescales of deploying payloads to supply forces with tactical intelligence and reconnaissance imagery.The Pentagon calls the initiative Operationally Responsive Space. The unit is headquarted at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M.ORS 1 will deliver tactical surveillance and reconnaissance imagery directly to U.S. troops on the battlefield. U.S. Central Command requested the space-based imaging capability for its operations in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia, including Afghanistan."The satellite is going to provide imagery of the CENTCOM area of operations," said Peter Wegner, director of the ORS office. "You may ask what's so special about that? Point No. 2 is the way we're providing this capability is very unique."From the perspective of CENTCOM commanders and forces in war zones, the ORS 1 satellite will seem like just another airborne drone."In a sense, what we did is we built this satellite so that it looks very much like an airborne sensor to the operators at Central Command," Wegner said. "It's the very same computer and software systems that they use to task airborne imagery systems." Artist's concept of the ORS 1 satellite. Credit: U.S. Air ForceORS 1 carries an imaging sensor derived from the SYERS 2 camera flying on the Air Force's U-2 spy plane. Like the U-2 sensor, the ORS 1 instrument was built by Goodrich Corp. and installed on the satellite at the company's facility in Danbury, Conn."I think the one big difference between this satellite and other satellites you're familiar with is that it's a tactical satellite," said Thom Davis, the ORS 1 mission manager. "And it supports CENTCOM very similarly to the airborne assets. They will use it to augment the support they normally get from the U-2s, the UAVs and other airborne platforms."Goodrich also supplied a ground system to format the satellite imagery for incorporation into existing processing software and dissemination networks.Military officials speaking June 24 did not disclose the imaging resolution of the SYERS sensor aboard the ORS 1 satellite, but the instrument's telescope could spot objects as small as 4 feet across, according to previous statements by engineers familiar with the project."The system does allow you to take images of objects around the world," Wegner said. "It will give those deployed service members awareness of what's going on around them, what kind of vehicles and what other things may be happening around them."Developed and declared ready for launch in 30 months, the ORS 1 mission is breaking the paradigm of military space programs, which are prone to high costs, long development cycles and strict requirements, officials said.The Pentagon established the ORS program to develop tactical satellites with a single mission. After launching two demonstration satellites, TacSat 2 and TacSat 3, the ORS office received orders to build an operational spacecraft in 2008.CENTCOM commanders delivered a notice of an "urgent need" in late 2008 for an imaging satellite designed to serve troops on the battlefield."That started the ORS 1 mission just a little over two-and-a-half years ago, and in a very short time, this team has done something pretty incredible," Wegner said.The satellite bus was manufactured by ATK in Maryland in 17 months, according to Brendan Regan, the company's vice president of space mission systems.Then the spacecraft was shipped to Goodrich's plant in Connecticut to receive the SYERS telescope and camera.Col. Carol Welsch, the Air Force's ORS 1 mission director, said ground controllers plan a 30-day checkout phase before handing control of the craft over to the 1st Space Operations Squadron at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo.John Glenn Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The historic first orbital flight by an American is marked by this commemorative patch for John Glenn and Friendship 7.Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is available in our store. Get this piece of history!Celebrate the shuttle programFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This special commemorative patch marks the retirement of NASA's Space Shuttle Program. Available in our store!Anniversary Shuttle PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This embroidered patch commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program. The design features the space shuttle Columbia's historic maiden flight of April 12, 1981.Mercury anniversaryFree shipping to U.S. addresses!Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alan Shephard's historic Mercury mission with this collectors' item, the official commemorative embroidered patch.Fallen Heroes Patch CollectionThe official patches from Apollo 1, the shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews are available in the store. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Tactical spy satellite streaks into space on Minotaur rocketSPACEFLIGHT NOWPosted: June 30, 2011A Minotaur rocket roared into orbit from the Virginia coast Wednesday night, successfully deploying a small spacecraft to make the benefits of satellite technology more accessible to deployed U.S. military forces in Afghanistan and other war zones in the Middle East. Sparks flew as the Minotaur's first stage dropped away a minute after liftoff. Credit: NASA/Wallops Flight Facility/Spaceflight NowDeveloped on a rapid timeline for the Pentagon's Operationally Responsive Space office, the satellite will snap images of the battlefield and relay them directly to troops, bypassing intelligence analysts and ground controllers in the United States.The ORS 1 satellite's importance is highlighted by the planned reduction in troop levels in Afghanistan, according to a U.S. Air Force space official."It's even more critical as we look at operations in CENTCOM and the Department of Defense starts to draw down troops," said Peter Wegner, director of the ORS office. "Capabilities like ORS 1 are truly force-enablers and force-multipliers for those young men and women, allowing them to see what's going on around them."With less manpower on the ground, forces will need a technological edge over the enemy. The ORS 1 spacecraft will operate at the whim of troop commanders on the battlefield, while legacy reconnaissance satellites typically capture strategic imagery that ends up in the hands of analysts in Washington, D.C."As terrorists move around the world to other locations, space-based [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] capabilities are going to very critical to the future of our country," Wegner said.The 957-pound spacecraft blasted off at 11:09 p.m. EDT Wednesday (0309 GMT Thursday) atop a Minotaur 1 rocket from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops Island, Va. The seven-story booster, powered by decommissioned Minuteman missile stages, streaked into a clear sky and surpassed the speed of sound in the first half-minute of flight.The launch was visible up and down the East Coast from North Carolina to New York.Turning southeast from the Virgnia coast, the Minotaur shed its solid-fueled first and second stages within two-and-a-half minutes. The rocket's third and fourth stages, derived from the air-launched Orbital Sciences Corp. Pegasus rocket, accelerated the ORS 1 satellite to orbital velocity at an altitude of approximately 250 miles. The launch was aiming for an orbital inclination of about 40 degrees to the equator.All indications are the rocket reached a "very nominal" orbit, according to a senior manager overseeing the launch.The launcher released the ORS 1 satellite about 12 minutes after liftoff, concluding the 10th flight of the Minotaur 1 rocket since 2000. All the flights have been successful.Officials plan a 30-day checkout period for the ORS 1 satellite before handing control authority over to the 1st Space Operations Squadron at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo., according to Col. Carol Welsch, the Air Force's ORS 1 mission director.Wednesday's launch achieved a breakthrough in the Pentagon's program to field tactical satellites on smaller budgets and tighter schedules. The ORS office was established in 2007 to answer urgent military needs with more focused satellite missions.After launching two demonstration satellites, the ORS office received orders to build its first operational satellite in 2008. The call came from CENTCOM as an "urgent need" to supply high-resolution tactical imagery to troops in realtime. Sparks flew as the Minotaur's first stage dropped away a minute after liftoff. Credit: U.S. Air ForceORS 1 carries an imaging sensor derived from the SYERS 2 camera flying on the Air Force's U-2 spy plane. Like the U-2 sensor, the ORS 1 instrument was built by Goodrich Corp. and installed on the satellite at the company's facility in Danbury, Conn.From the perspective of a ground operator, the ORS 1 satellite will look much like an unmanned aerial vehicle equipped with surveillance gear."The data will come back to the operators at U.S. Central Command in the very same format that they get this today today from those airborne assets," Wegner said before launch. "That's pretty unique. The power and benefit of space systems is that you can fly over the entire world very quickly. You can be around the world in 90 minutes and look at a completely different spot. It gives you that flexibility now in an asset that looks just like an airborne asset that they're used to flying and operating today."The spacecraft bus was manufactured by ATK Space Systems in Maryland in less than a year-and-a-half. It took 30 months to deliver the integrated satellite and imaging sensor for launch, according to Frank Giglio, ORS 1 program manager at Goodrich."I think the one big difference between this satellite and other satellites you're familiar with is that it's a tactical satellite," said Thom Davis, the ORS 1 mission manager. "And it supports CENTCOM very similarly to the airborne assets. They will use it to augment the support they normally get from the U-2s, the UAVs and other airborne platforms."Goodrich also supplied a ground system to format the satellite imagery for incorporation into existing processing software and dissemination networks."It's very tactical and operates on a very short timeline," Wegner said.Military officials speaking June 24 did not disclose the imaging resolution of the SYERS sensor aboard the ORS 1 satellite, but the instrument's telescope could spot objects as small as 4 feet across, according to previous statements by engineers familiar with the project."The system does allow you to take images of objects around the world," Wegner said. "It will give those deployed service members awareness of what's going on around them, what kind of vehicles and what other things may be happening around them."Developed and declared ready for launch in 30 months, the $226 million ORS 1 mission is breaking the paradigm of military space programs, which are prone to high costs, long development cycles and strict requirements, officials said."One of our charters is to build and deploy space capabilities quickly. I can tell you this is incredibly fast for a military space system," Wegner said. "This was a brand new capability that we started two-and-a-half years ago. There was nothing. We started with a blank sheet of paper and a need from Central Command."John Glenn Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The historic first orbital flight by an American is marked by this commemorative patch for John Glenn and Friendship 7.Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is available in our store. Get this piece of history!Celebrate the shuttle programFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This special commemorative patch marks the retirement of NASA's Space Shuttle Program. Available in our store!Anniversary Shuttle PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This embroidered patch commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program. The design features the space shuttle Columbia's historic maiden flight of April 12, 1981.Mercury anniversaryFree shipping to U.S. addresses!Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alan Shephard's historic Mercury mission with this collectors' item, the official commemorative embroidered patch.Fallen Heroes Patch CollectionThe official patches from Apollo 1, the shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews are available in the store. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Virginia launch site ready to host historic moon shot SPACEFLIGHT NOWPosted: September 5, 2013 WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. -- A diminutive NASA satellite is wrapped inside the nose cone of a five-stage Minotaur 5 rocket on an austere launch pad on the rural Virginia coastline, ready to begin a circuitous journey to the moon on a $280 million mission to answer enduring questions about the tenuous lunar atmosphere. The Minotaur 5 rocket on the launch pad. Credit: Patrick Black/NASAScientists hope the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer, or LADEE, will also solve a 45-year-old mystery - a predawn glow over the lunar limb first spotted by NASA's early moon missions, then recounted in journals recorded by Apollo astronauts.And if that's not enough technology packed into the 7.7-foot-tall LADEE spacecraft, the mission will take a key step toward overhauling the way NASA communicates with its deep space missions, potentially leading to a type of interplanetary fiber optic network allowing high-definition video and mounds of data to stream back to Earth from rovers on Mars, manned missions visiting asteroids, and probes to other far-flung destinations."The LADEE mission is going to give us whole new vistas on our nearest neighbor, and I'm very excited about that," said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA's science mission directorate.Scheduled to blast off at 11:27 p.m. EDT Friday (0327 GMT Saturday), the bullet-shaped LADEE spacecraft will soar to space at the tip of a Minotaur 5 rocket. The 80-foot-tall rocket is sitting on launch pad 0B at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, a complex leased and operated by the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility.The Minotaur 5 is an extended version of the smaller Minotaur 4 booster, and while all the components of the five-stage rocket have been tested in flight, they have never flown together in this configuration.Powered by decommissioned motors from the U.S. Air Force's Peacekeeper ballistic missile program, the Minotaur 5 will rapidly depart the Virginia launch site, illuminating surrounding marshlands as it races east over the Atlantic Ocean.The fiery nighttime launch should be visible along the U.S. East Coast from New England to South Carolina, and to observers as far inland as Pittsburgh. The Minotaur 5 rocket on the launch pad. Credit: Patrick Black/NASAClimbing and accelerating over the Atlantic, the Minotaur will fire each of its five solid-fueled motors before releasing the 844-pound LADEE spacecraft over Africa about 23 minutes after liftoff.The Minotaur 5 will deploy LADEE in a lofty elliptical orbit carrying the small satellite as far as 172,000 miles from Earth. After controllers activate LADEE and check its health, LADEE's liquid-fueled propulsion system, procured commercially from Space Systems/Loral, will fire up to three times to raise the craft's orbit high enough to be grasped by the moon's gravity."[The moon] swings by, whips us around behind it, and then once we come out from behind the moon, we do a big braking burn with our main engine," said Butler Hine, LADEE project manager at NASA's Ames Research Center in California, which led the mission's design and development.If LADEE launches on time, the craft should enter lunar orbit in the first week of October. The exact timing of LADEE's maneuvers to reach the moon will hinge on the performance of the Minotaur 5 rocket. Slight deviations in the orbit achieved by the Minotaur rocket could slide LADEE's lunar arrival earlier or later, Hine said.Communications by laser beamLADEE will initially slip into a unique equatorial orbit about 156 miles above the moon, where the satellite will switch on its laser communications package to begin a 30-day test campaign with a network of ground terminals in New Mexico, California and the Canary Islands.The laser communications demonstration is a secondary objective for the LADEE mission, but its importance is not lost on top NASA officials."I'm a huge fan of laser communications and one of the reasons is that as you go farther out into the solar system, it's a much more efficient way to get high bandwidth communications at low power," Grunsfeld said.The Lunar Laser Communications Demonstration will try to transmit data through a four-inch laser beam fired from terminal mounted on the body of the LADEE spacecraft. When the beam reaches Earth, it will paint an area more than 3 miles across. The LADEE spacecraft before enclosure inside the Minotaur 5's 12.8-foot diameter payload fairing. Credit: NASA Wallops/Terry ZaperachLaser communications have tighter pointing requirements than traditional radio systems, but a futuristic laser linkup needs less power and less mass than conventional radios, according to Don Cornwell, manager of LADEE's laser payload at Goddard.And the laser communications system on LADEE should transfer at a rate six times higher than radios, Cornwell said.Officials project the laser system will beam 622 megabits per second of data from LADEE to Earth, and the uplink to LADEE will facilitate a bandwidth 20 megabits per second.LADEE will not actually transmit any valuable science data during the 30-day test, but future missions could rely on similar technology to broadcast high-definition video, 3D imagery and other data-intensive products."Laser communications get more attractive compared to radio as you go farther in the solar system," Cornwell said. "We hope to use these systems from Mars one day."On the trail of lunar dustAt the same time as the laser communications demonstration, LADEE's control team will commission the craft's science payload. Three science instruments are aboard LADEE:The ultraviolet and visible light spectrometer, led by NASA's Ames Research Center, will remotely sense any dust, including hydrated material like water and the compound hydroxyl, lofted above the moon's surface and determine the composition of the lunar atmosphere.The neutral mass spectrometer will measure chemical abundances in the lunar atmosphere and allow scientists to study the processes driving the tenuous atmosphere. The neutral mass spectrometer is led by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.The lunar dust experiment will collect impacts of dust particles to analyze their size and composition. The payload is led by the University of Colorado at Boulder.Then comes LADEE's 100-day science mission, in which the small orbiter's instruments will scoop up dust particles, identify the chemical make-up of the moon's atmosphere, and look for signs of hydrated compounds, such as water and hydroxyl (OH), migrating from the moon's middle latitudes toward polar cold traps in permanent shadow, where scientists say ice can sit undisturbed for billions of years."LADEE has two main science goals: To understand the lunar atmosphere as well as the dust environment around the moon," said Sarah Noble, LADEE's program scientist. Artist's concept of the LADEE spacecraft at the moon. Credit: NASAAfter lowering its orbit for the science phase of its mission, LADEE will dip as close as 12 miles to the moon, skimming mountaintops and sampling material just above the lunar surface.The moon's atmosphere is not what you may envision, Noble said. Its atoms never collide, technically making the lunar atmosphere an exosphere.To get even more specific, the moon has what is called a surface boundary exosphere, a type of nearly airless atmosphere in which the exosphere extends to a body's surface and interacts directly with soil and dust. The moon, Mercury, the moons of other planets, and even large asteroids harbor surface boundary exospheres, making it the most common type of atmosphere in the solar system, Noble said.Previous research shows an isotope of argon called argon-40 is pushed high above the moon's surface when excited by the heat of a lunar sunrise. Scientists also think the solar wind and impacts by asteroids and comets drive material off the surface to form part of the atmosphere."The lunar atmosphere has hundreds of different components and very unique dynamics," said Greg Delroy, LADEE's deputy project scientist at Ames.Then there is the question of the dust believed to be responsible for the horizon flow witnessed by the Apollo astronauts.Is levitating dust really the cause of the glow, and how does it get suspended tens of miles above the moon? LADEE will try to find out.Delroy said meteor bombardment may be responsible for the presence of dust so far above the surface. The LADEE science team has asked amateur astronomers to monitor the moon for impacts, which could help researchers determine whether a strike causes any change in LADEE's dust readings.Some type of so-far undetected static charge on the moon could also be the culprit in the mystery of the moon dust."There might be a static charge on the moon, and that area could change as different regions of the moon rotate in and out of sunlight," Delroy said. "That could cause an electrostatic force to act on dust."Noble said now is a good time to launch LADEE because the lunar atmosphere is so delicate it could be disturbed or altered, at least temporarily, by the spacecraft landings kicking up dust. It has been 40 years since the last Apollo landing, and several companies and countries are planning unmanned moon landings in the coming years.Scientists hope LADEE's results will shed light on mysterious atmospheres around other worlds in the solar system, such as Mercury. The advantage of studying the moon is scientists already have lunar samples and know the moon's composition."The moon is an excellent place to start," Delroy said.John Glenn Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The historic first orbital flight by an American is marked by this commemorative patch for John Glenn and Friendship 7.Final Shuttle Mission PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is available in our store. Get this piece of history!Celebrate the shuttle programFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This special commemorative patch marks the retirement of NASA's Space Shuttle Program. Available in our store!Anniversary Shuttle PatchFree shipping to U.S. addresses!This embroidered patch commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program. The design features the space shuttle Columbia's historic maiden flight of April 12, 1981.Mercury anniversaryFree shipping to U.S. addresses!Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alan Shephard's historic Mercury mission with this collectors' item, the official commemorative embroidered patch.Fallen Heroes Patch CollectionThe official patches from Apollo 1, the shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews are available in the store. | | | | 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.Minotaur 4+ launches TacSat 4Minotaur 4 rocket blazes fiery trail into spaceLeaving a wake of fire and smoke twisting above the jagged Alaska coastline, a Minotaur rocket fired away from a remote launch pad Tuesday and released a U.S. Navy satellite in orbit give military forces better communications links on the battlefield.MOVIES: IMAGES: IMAGES: IMAGES: Minotaur 1 launches ORS 1Minotaur rocket streaks into the night from VirginiaA Minotaur rocket roared into orbit from the Virginia coast Wednesday night, successfully deploying a small spacecraft to make the benefits of satellite technology more accessible to deployed U.S. military forces in Afghanistan and other war zones in the Middle East. - live updates!IMAGES: IMAGES: Minotaur 1 launches NROL-66Classified satellite climbs to space on Minotaur rocketA trailblazing payload for the National Reconnaissance Office successfully rocketed into orbit on a Minotaur 1 booster Sunday, beginning a secret mission testing new ways to collect intelligence from space. - live updates!IMAGES: IMAGES: IMAGES: Minotaur 4 launches STP-S26Minotaur 4 launches to send research to new heightsA Minotaur rocket topped with a payload of seven satellites launched Friday from the Kodiak Launch Complex in Alaska. The booster orbited a cache of experiments to prove new space capabilities and exercise growing minds. IMAGES: IMAGES: Minotaur 4 launches SBSSSpace surveillance project successfully blasts offLeaving behind the earthly limitations imposed on reconnoitering space, a telescope-laden sleuth was launched Saturday night to survey the dangers of orbital debris and monitor nefarious threats against vital national security satellites. - live updates!IMAGES: Minotaur 4-Lite launches HTV 2aMinotaur 4 rocket launches on suborbital missionA new Minotaur launch vehicle derived from retired missile parts successfully blasted off from the California coast on April 22, 2010, but officials lost contact with a hypersonic glider testbed for a U.S. military quick-response global strike system.Minotaur 1 launches TacSat 3Minotaur lofts experimental satellite for U.S. militaryA Minotaur rocket made a twilight ascent into space from Virginia's Eastern Shore on May 19, 2009, successfully carting an experimental satellite into orbit to begin a year of tactical military exercises on the final frontier.Minotaur 1 launches NFIREMissile research craft soars into space from VirginiaA data-gathering research satellite for the U.S. missile defense program successfully launched into space from the Virginia coast aboard an Orbital Sciences Minotaur 1 rocket on April 24, 2007.Minotaur 1 launches TacSat 2Minotaur rocket makes sunrise ascent from VirginiaVirginia's Wallops Island hosted its first space launch in seven years on Dec. 11, 2006 when a Minotaur rocket blazed a trail into orbit with a U.S. Air Force demonstration satellite.IMAGES: IMAGES: Additional coverage for subscribers:VIDEO:MINOTAUR ROCKET BLASTS OFF VIDEO:LAUNCH PAD CAMERA REPLAY 1 VIDEO:LAUNCH PAD CAMERA REPLAY 2 VIDEO:LAUNCH PAD CAMERA REPLAY 3 VIDEO:ROCKET BEING ASSEMBLED ON THE PAD Minotaur 1 launches COSMICMinotaur rocket hauls six satellites into spaceSix tiny satellites sped into space April 14, 2006 aboard an ultra-fast rocket booster, beginning a five-year mission to examine Earth's atmosphere and the underlying hints of climate change by employing a novel technique.IMAGES: IMAGES: Minotaur 1 launches STP R1Rocket launch paints sky with breath-taking sceneA grand spectacle in the evening sky created by a spacebound rocket delighted stargazers and frightened the uninformed across hundreds of miles in the southwestern United States on September 22, 2005.Minotaur 1 launches XSS 11Minotaur rocket launches U.S. military spacecraftDeploying tiny probes to inspect or service spacecraft in distress and flying satellites that can operate with limited human touch are the chief goals behind a state-of-the-art technology demonstration mission successfully launched into Earth orbit April 11, 2005.Minotaur 1 launches Mightysat 2.1Minotaur lofts Air Force technology testbed craftA small U.S. Air Force research satellite with a "mighty" name was successfully launched July 19 by a rocket cobbled together using leftover Minuteman 2 missile sections and new stages from a commercial Pegasus booster.Minotaur 1 launches JAWSATSuccess declared for first OSP Minotaur rocketU.S. Air Force officials say the $23 million test flight of the new OSP Minotaur rocket was successful January 26 despite the lack of some data from the launch. Get the latest news at our Mission Status Center.Spaceflight Now +Premium video content for our Spaceflight Now Plus .New lunar missionDuring this NASA news conference on April 10, agency officials unveil the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, that will launch piggyback with the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft in October 2008. LCROSS will use the launch vehicle's spent upper stage to crash into the moon's south pole in an explosive search for water. LCROSS mission planDaniel Andrews, the LCROSS project manager from NASA's Ames Research Center, narrates this animation depicting the mission from launch through impact on the lunar surface.STS-1 crew looks backIn this highly entertaining program, commander John Young and pilot Bob Crippen of the first space shuttle crew tell stories and memories from STS-1. The two respected astronauts visited Kennedy Space Center on April 6 to mark the upcoming 25th anniversary of Columbia's maiden voyage. STS-41G crew filmThe October 1984 flight of space shuttle Challenger featured a diverse set of accomplishments. The Earth Radiation Budget Satellite environmental spacecraft was deployed and a planet-mapping radar was tested. The seven-person crew was led by Bob Crippen and included the first Canadian in space, Marc Garneau, and the first time two women, Sally Ride and Kathryn Sullivan, had flown aboard one flight. Sullivan and Dave Leestma also conducted a spacewalk to demonstrate techniques for refueling satellites. The crew narrates this post-flight film of STS-41G. Next station crewFull coverage of the Expedition 13 crew's launch aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft to begin a six-month mission aboard the International Space Station.Solar eclipse from ISSExternal cameras on the International Space Station captured this incredible footage of the March 29 solar eclipse. The station flew through the eclipse over the Middle East as the moon passed in front of the sun and cast its shadow on the Earth.Total solar eclipseA total solar eclipse occurred March 29. This video from Side, Turkey shows the period of totality when the moon slid between the Earth and Sun. The eclipse revealed the Sun's glowing outer halo of million-degree gas, called the solar corona.Follow the countdown and launch of the Orbital Sciences Minotaur rocket with the six COSMIC atmospheric research spacecraft. Reload this page for the latest on the mission.SATURDAY, APRIL 15, 2006Six tiny satellites sped into space Friday evening aboard an ultra-fast rocket booster, beginning a five-year mission to examine Earth's atmosphere and the underlying hints of climate change by employing a novel technique.The $100 million COSMIC mission that partners the U.S. and Taiwan roared away from the wet and foggy Space Launch Complex 8 on the southern end of Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 6:40 p.m. PDT (9:40 p.m. EDT; 0140 GMT).The Orbital Sciences Minotaur rocket was gone in a flash, almost instantly disappearing from view of launch pad cameras. The liftoff was delayed an hour-and-a-half after an initial countdown attempt was aborted because of a problem with the system monitoring rocket data.Launch photos can be seen .The first minutes of flight were powered by two left-over motor stages from decommissioned Minuteman 2 intercontinental ballistic missiles. They heaved the rocket well on the way to space before two additional solid-propellant stages from Orbital's commercial Pegasus rocket program each fired to achieve the desired orbit by T+plus 10 minutes.The six disc-shaped spacecraft then began separating one-by-one to form a network for atmospheric research under the name Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere and Climate, or COSMIC for short. The mission also carries the name FORMOSAT 3 by its Taiwanese participants.Minotaur has proven itself as a workhorse for carrying small satellites. The rocket has successfully delivered 20 satellites into space during five launches since 2000.The COSMIC satellites will begin scientific studies in a couple of months. But their full potential to provide daily global coverage won't start until May 2007 when the craft complete the lengthy process of maneuvering into a formation with broadly-spaced separations between each other. The satellites will fly 500 miles above the planet and use a technique called radio occultation to examine how the Earth's atmosphere distorts signals emitted by the U.S. military's Global Positioning System spacecraft. The COSMIC satellites will look for GPS transmissions just above Earth's horizon and measure the "bending" in the signals caused by the atmosphere. The extent of "bending" implies the atmospheric conditions, scientists say."This is the first time the technique of radio occultation has been used on a large scale in real time to provide nearly continuous measurements of worldwide atmospheric conditions at all altitudes," says William Kuo, director of the COSMIC office at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research.The primary instrument on each of the 155-pound COSMIC spacecraft is a GPS receiver originally developed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.The data will allow researchers to generate atmospheric temperature and water vapor profiles, and mission officials anticipate such information should improve weather forecasting and assist long-term monitoring of climate change."The satellites will convert GPS measurements into a precise worldwide set of weather, climate and space weather data," said Jay Fein, program director in the National Science Foundation's Division of Atmospheric Sciences that funded COSMIC. "The resulting new information will have a tremendous impact on geosciences research and weather prediction, and will be an important contribution to global Earth observations."The COSMIC satellites will take about 2,500 measurements across the globe every day. Scientists are especially eager for data over the oceans where observations by weather balloon aren't possible."Centers around the world will have access to this new information for both research and operational forecasting," said Richard Anthes, president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. "User-friendly versions of the data will enable those with less sophisticated systems to benefit as well."Taiwan's interest in the mission began nine years ago in the wake of a deadly typhoon, Kuo said. Taiwanese leaders hope COSMIC/FORMOSAT 3 will benefit meteorologists trying to forecast rainfall and the strength of wind embedded in such large storms."The expected improvements in forecasting skill and COSMIC's contribution to long-term climate monitoring are a direct result of NASA's research investments in radio occultation, a technology originally developed by JPL in the 1960s for planetary atmospheric studies and later refined in the 1990s for Earth orbit use," said Tony Mannucci, supervisor of JPL's Ionospheric and Atmospheric Remote Sensing Group.0250 GMT (10:50 p.m. EDT Fri.)"This launch continues a long tradition of successful space launches from Vandenberg," said Col. Jack Weinstein, the 30th Space Wing commander at Vandenberg Air Force Base. "The success of the mission required a great team effort between the 30th Space Wing, SMC, our industry partners, our scientific community and Taiwan's National Space Organization.""This was a tremendous effort of cooperation and collaboration," added Col. Kevin Erickson, Space & Missile Systems Center (SMC) Detachment 12 Rocket Systems Launch Program director and the mission director for the COSMIC launch. "This mission combined the satellite technical expertise of Taiwan's National Space Organization and the significant space capability of the U.S. Air Force." 0200 GMT (10:00 p.m. EDT Fri.)The Minotaur rocket program has now launched 20 satellites during five missions since 2000.0159 GMT (9:59 p.m. EDT Fri.)T+plus 19 minutes, 19 seconds. SPACECRAFT SEPARATION! Minotaur has deployed the sixth COSMIC satellite, completing today's launch!0158 GMT (9:58 p.m. EDT Fri.)T+plus 18 minutes, 19 seconds. The fifth satellite has been released!0157 GMT (9:57 p.m. EDT Fri.)T+plus 17 minutes, 20 seconds. Release of the fourth satellite is confirmed!0156 GMT (9:56 p.m. EDT Fri.)T+plus 16 minutes, 20 seconds. The third satellite has been deployed!0155 GMT (9:55 p.m. EDT Fri.)T+plus 15 minutes, 55 seconds. Rocket systems remain normal.0155 GMT (9:55 p.m. EDT Fri.)T+plus 15 minutes, 23 seconds. Separation of the second spacecraft!0154 GMT (9:54 p.m. EDT Fri.)T+plus 14 minutes, 25 seconds. SPACECRAFT SEPARATION! The first of six COSMIC spacecraft has been released by the Minotaur rocket.0153 GMT (9:53 p.m. EDT Fri.)T+plus 13 minutes, 30 seconds. The rocket's orientation remains stable.0151 GMT (9:51 p.m. EDT Fri.)T+plus 11 minutes, 40 seconds. Vehicle avionics continue to operate normally.0150 GMT (9:50 p.m. EDT Fri.)T+plus 10 minutes, 30 seconds. Telemetry from the rocket is being received through NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System.0150 GMT (9:50 p.m. EDT Fri.)T+plus 10 minutes, 10 seconds. Thrust has tailed off from the solid-fueled fourth stage to complete the burn.0149 GMT (9:49 p.m. EDT Fri.)T+plus 9 minutes, 50 seconds. All systems appear normal as fourth stage continues to burn.0149 GMT (9:49 p.m. EDT Fri.)T+plus 9 minutes, 13 seconds. Fourth stage stage ignition!0149 GMT (9:49 p.m. EDT Fri.)T+plus 9 minutes, 9 seconds. Confirmation now received that the third stage was jettisoned from the fourth stage. Coming up on ignition of the fourth stage.0148 GMT (9:48 p.m. EDT Fri.)T+plus 8 minutes, 44 seconds. The fourth stage battery has been activated.0148 GMT (9:48 p.m. EDT Fri.)T+plus 8 minutes. Standing by for staging.0146 GMT (9:46 p.m. EDT Fri.)T+plus 6 minutes. Systems aboard the Minotaur continue to look good.0145 GMT (9:45 p.m. EDT Fri.)T+plus 5 minutes. Minotaur remains in the ballistic coast phase of flight. The spent third stage will be shed in about three-and-a-half minutes from now, followed by fourth stage ignition.0144 GMT (9:44 p.m. EDT Fri.)T+plus 4 minutes, 25 seconds. Official Range liftoff time was 0140:00.172 GMT.0144 GMT (9:44 p.m. EDT Fri.)T+plus 4 minutes. Performance so far in this launch indicates the target apogee altitude high point will be reached at 499 km.0143 GMT (9:43 p.m. EDT Fri.)T+plus 3 minutes, 25 seconds. The solid-fuel third stage has burned out, and the rocket is now in a brief coast period.0143 GMT (9:43 p.m. EDT Fri.)T+plus 3 minutes. All appears normal with the flight as the third stage solid motor continues to fire.0142 GMT (9:42 p.m. EDT Fri.)T+plus 2 minutes, 28 seconds. The rocket's payload fairing nose cone has separated.0142 GMT (9:42 p.m. EDT Fri.)T+plus 2 minutes, 19 seconds. Third stage ignition confirmed as the spent second stage falls way. This sheds the Minuteman 2 portion of Minotaur and the Pegasus heritage solid-fuel motors take over.0142 GMT (9:42 p.m. EDT Fri.)T+plus 2 minutes. Everything remains nominal aboard Minotaur.0141 GMT (9:41 p.m. EDT Fri.)T+plus 80 seconds. Rocket is flying normally as the second stage fires.0141 GMT (9:41 p.m. EDT Fri.)T+plus 64 seconds. Staging has occurred. The first and second stages separated. And the second stage motor has ignited.0140 GMT (9:40 p.m. EDT Fri.)T+plus 35 seconds. The rocket's is passing through the region of maximum aerodynamic pressures of ascent.0140 GMT (9:40 p.m. EDT Fri.)T+plus 10 seconds. First stage motor pressure nominal.0140 GMT (9:40 p.m. EDT Fri.)LIFTOFF! Liftoff of the Minotaur rocket with the COSMIC spacecraft, studying Earth's atmosphere through a partnership between the U.S. and Taiwan.0139 GMT (9:39 p.m. EDT Fri.)T-minus 30 seconds.0139 GMT (9:39 p.m. EDT Fri.)T-minus 1 minute. Data recording charts are running.0138 GMT (9:38 p.m. EDT Fri.)T-minus 100 seconds. The rocket ordnance has been armed.0138 GMT (9:38 p.m. EDT Fri.)T-minus 2 minutes. Auto sequence start. Minotaur's flight computer is controlling the countdown.0137 GMT (9:37 p.m. EDT Fri.)T-minus 2 minutes, 30 seconds. Auto sequence start coming up in 30 seconds.0137 GMT (9:37 p.m. EDT Fri.)T-minus 3 minutes. The Air Force-controlled Western Range has given its final clear to launch.0136 GMT (9:36 p.m. EDT Fri.)T-minus 3 minutes, 35 seconds. Navigation system is now in "nav mode."0135 GMT (9:35 p.m. EDT Fri.)T-minus 4 minutes, 15 seconds. The C-band tracking beacon is functioning as expected on interal power.0135 GMT (9:35 p.m. EDT Fri.)T-minus 4 minutes, 25 seconds. The flight computer is armed.0135 GMT (9:35 p.m. EDT Fri.)T-minus 5 minutes. The rocket's avionics are switching to internal power.0134 GMT (9:34 p.m. EDT Fri.)T-minus 6 minutes. Management says everything is still "go" for launch of Minotaur and COSMIC.0133 GMT (9:33 p.m. EDT Fri.)T-minus 6 minutes, 53 seconds. The COSMIC payload has been declared "go" for launch.0131 GMT (9:31 p.m. EDT Fri.)T-minus 8 minutes, 45 seconds. The COSMIC spacecraft are confirmed on internal battery power for launch.0131 GMT (9:31 p.m. EDT Fri.)T-minus 8 minutes, 45 seconds. The flight termination system is now armed.0131 GMT (9:31 p.m. EDT Fri.)T-minus 9 minutes. The rocket's flight termination system has switched to interal power. The FTS would be used to destroy the rocket should a problem arise during flight.0130 GMT (9:30 p.m. EDT Fri.)T-minus 10 minutes. The COSMIC satellites atop the Minotaur rocket are switching back to internal power.0128 GMT (9:28 p.m. EDT Fri.)T-minus 12 minutes. The exact 0140:00 GMT (6:40:00 p.m. local) launch time is being loaded into the rocket's flight computer.0126 GMT (9:26 p.m. EDT Fri.)Safety officials confirm that the hazard area is clear for launch.0126 GMT (9:26 p.m. EDT Fri.)T-minus 14 minutes and counting! Clocks are running again.0116 GMT (9:16 p.m. EDT Fri.)The countdown will resume in 10 minutes.0110 GMT (9:10 p.m. EDT Fri.)Now 30 minutes from the new launch time.0109 GMT (9:09 p.m. EDT Fri.)The team has been polled to enter into the final launch checklist for today's second attempt.0105 GMT (9:05 p.m. EDT Fri.)Space Launch Complex 8 is now completely shrouded in fog.0101 GMT (9:01 p.m. EDT Fri.)The countdown has been reset to T-minus 14 minutes and holding. Clocks will resume ticking at 6:26 p.m. local (0126 GMT; 9:26 p.m. EDT).0100 GMT (9:00 p.m. EDT Fri.)NEW LAUNCH TIME. Liftoff is now targeted for 6:40 p.m. PDT (0140 GMT; 9:40 p.m. EDT). Weather conditions are expected to be acceptable at that time.0059 GMT (8:59 p.m. EDT Fri.)The launch conductor says the problem was with the limit-checking system and not the actual pressure sensors aboard the Minotaur. So the glitch is being resolved and launch will be reattempted today. Officials are working to establish a new launch time.0056 GMT (8:56 p.m. EDT Fri.)The launch team is verifying a good alignment for the rocket's guidance and navigation system.0053 GMT (8:53 p.m. EDT Fri.)Management has approved another launch attempt. It appears the power problem has been understood and resolved.0045 GMT (8:45 p.m. EDT Fri.)The countdown has been recycled to the T-minus 16 minute mark while officials work to understand the concern with the power system for pressure-measuring sensors aboard the rocket.0031 GMT (8:31 p.m. EDT Fri.)To recap, the countdown was stopped because the electrical current in the power system that feeds pressure sensors aboard the Minuteman missile stages of the Minotaur rocket violated the pre-set limits. Engineers are working to determine if there is a real problem with the power system, a problem with the limits or whether there is some other reason to explain the situation.0027 GMT (8:27 p.m. EDT Fri.)The launch team is going to begin the checklist that will ready the rocket for another liftoff attempt today.0026 GMT (8:26 p.m. EDT Fri.)"We did abort at one-minute and 30 seconds prior to liftoff. We aborted because we had a background limit-checking constraint for the Minuteman pressure transducer power bus that was out of tolerance on current. We are currently evaluating the status of that limit-check. We do want to preserve the opportunity to try another launch opportunity today. So we are currently looking at the status of that power bus to determine what further action would be required," the launch conductor says.0021 GMT (8:21 p.m. EDT Fri.)If this problem with the Minuteman pressure transducer power system can be resolved, launch of Minotaur could be rescheduled for later in today's window.0015 GMT (8:15 p.m. EDT Fri.)"We experienced an abort at T-minus 1 minute and 30 seconds. We experienced an off-nominal performance of a Minuteman pressure transducer bus. We had limit checks go out at the T-minus 2 minute point. We are currently evaluating data (and) ask all personnel to stand by," the launch conductor just told his team.0012 GMT (8:12 p.m. EDT Fri.)A problem of some sort prompted the launch conductor to call an abort at about T-minus 90 seconds. We're awaiting further details about the issue. The Minotaur rocket and COSMIC spacecraft are being placed into a safe configuration.0011 GMT (8:11 p.m. EDT Fri.)Vehicle safing is underway after a problem cropped up and forced the countdown to be halted.0010 GMT (8:10 p.m. EDT Fri.)Countdown clocks have stopped.0010 GMT (8:10 p.m. EDT Fri.)ABORT!0010 GMT (8:10 p.m. EDT Fri.)T-minus 2 minutes. Auto sequence start. Minotaur's flight computer is controlling the countdown.0009 GMT (8:09 p.m. EDT Fri.)T-minus 2 minutes, 30 seconds. Coming up on auto sequence start in 30 seconds.0009 GMT (8:09 p.m. EDT Fri.)T-minus 3 minutes. The Air Force-controlled Western Range is clear for launch.0008 GMT (8:08 p.m. EDT Fri.)T-minus 3 minutes, 40 seconds. The air conditioning duct to the rocket's payload fairing nose cone has been retracted.0008 GMT (8:08 p.m. EDT Fri.)T-minus 4 minutes. The flight computer is armed. And the C-band tracking beacon is functioning as expected on interal power.0007 GMT (8:07 p.m. EDT Fri.)T-minus 5 minutes. The rocket's avionics are switching to internal power.0006 GMT (8:06 p.m. EDT Fri.)T-minus 6 minutes. The final management poll ended with the OK to launch right on time.0005 GMT (8:05 p.m. EDT Fri.)T-minus 6 minutes, 40 seconds. The COSMIC payload has been declared "go" for launch.0004 GMT (8:04 p.m. EDT Fri.)T-minus 8 minutes and counting. The COSMIC spacecraft are confirmed to be running on internal battery power for launch.0003 GMT (8:03 p.m. EDT Fri.)T-minus 8 minutes, 30 seconds. The flight termination system is now armed.0003 GMT (8:03 p.m. EDT Fri.)T-minus 9 minutes. The rocket's flight termination system has switched to interal power. The FTS would be used to destroy the rocket should a problem arise during flight.0002 GMT (8:02 p.m. EDT Fri.)T-minus 10 minutes and counting. The COSMIC satellites atop the Minotaur rocket are switching to internal power.0001 GMT (8:01 p.m. EDT Fri.)T-minus 11 minutes. The guidance computer's voltages and currents are reported normal.0000 GMT (8:00 p.m. EDT Fri.)T-minus 12 minutes. The exact 0012:00 GMT (5:12:00 p.m. local) launch time is being loaded into the rocket's flight computer.FRIDAY, APRIL 14, 20062359 GMT (7:59 p.m. EDT Fri.)Removal of the thermal blanket covering the Minotaur rocket's Minuteman stages has been completed. This cover is affectionately called the "banana" because of its color and since it's peeled away in sections.2358 GMT (7:58 p.m. EDT Fri.)Safety officials confirm that the hazard area and impact zones are clear for launch.2357 GMT (7:57 p.m. EDT Fri.)T-minus 15 minutes. The final launch readiness poll of various team members was just conducted. All systems are "go" for liftoff of the Minotaur rocket and the COSMIC spacecraft from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.And approval has been given to start removing the thermal blanket covering the bottom half of the rocket. This operation is being performed remotely without workers at the pad via an automatic retraction system.2355 GMT (7:55 p.m. EDT Fri.)Launch team members will be polled in the next few minutes to confirm everything is ready for liftoff. 2353 GMT (7:53 p.m. EDT Fri.)T-minus 19 minutes. Ground and high-altitude winds are acceptable for launch. 2352 GMT (7:52 p.m. EDT Fri.)Minotaur's target launch time is 0012:00 GMT (5:12:00 p.m. local).2352 GMT (7:52 p.m. EDT Fri.)The countdown is passing the T-minus 20 minute mark.2347 GMT (7:47 p.m. EDT Fri.)T-minus 25 minutes. A safety test of the rocket's flight termination system is starting. This system would be activated to destroy Minotaur if the rocket veered off course or experienced a major problem during launch.2342 GMT (7:42 p.m. EDT Fri.)The rocket's tracking beacon is being verified by the Western Range.2342 GMT (7:42 p.m. EDT Fri.)Now a half-hour left in the countdown to launch of the fifth Minotaur rocket. The Orbital Sciences-managed rocket uses decommissioned first and second stages from Minuteman 2 intercontinental ballistic missiles and solid-propellant motors from the commercial Pegasus rocket program for its third and fourth stages. The vehicle was created to launch small satellites. Minotaur has flown four times since 2000, successfully placing 14 spacecraft into orbit. Today's launch will haul six more satellites to space.2334 GMT (7:34 p.m. EDT Fri.)The launch pad danger area has been confirmed clear of all personnel.2332 GMT (7:32 p.m. EDT Fri.)T-minus 40 minutes and counting. A rare sight today -- there's some breaks in the cloud cover over the launch pad right now. Just a little while ago, it was raining at the complex.2324 GMT (7:24 p.m. EDT Fri.)Minotaur's guidance system is in alignment. And a GPS time stamp has been transmitted to the payload.2322 GMT (7:22 p.m. EDT Fri.)T-minus 50 minutes. Countdown clocks are ticking toward liftoff of the Minotaur rocket at 5:12 p.m. Pacific time. Although the weather has remained iffy all day, officials have enough optimism is press ahead with the count. There is a hold point available at T-minus 16 minutes where the count can be stopped prior to jettisoning the thermal blankets from the rocket, if weather or technical problems appear as if they are going to prohibit an on-time launch today.2312 GMT (7:12 p.m. EDT Fri.)The rocket's avionics are being powered to permit the inertial guidance system final pre-launch alignment and test the S-band telemetry communications antenna signal strength.2312 GMT (7:12 p.m. EDT Fri.)T-minus 60 minutes and counting. The launch team is opening up the final checklist to guide activities through liftoff.2310 GMT (7:10 p.m. EDT Fri.)The decision has been made to proceed with the countdown.2257 GMT (6:57 p.m. EDT Fri.)Mission managers are standing by for a weather briefing in the next few minutes. If the forecast does not look favorable for liftoff at 5:12 p.m. PDT (0012 GMT; 8:12 p.m. EDT) today, the launch team will hold the clock at T-minus 1 hour for approximately an hour and reassess the conditions around 5 p.m. PDT (0000 GMT; 8 p.m. EDT).2250 GMT (6:50 p.m. EDT Fri.)Another rainshower is moving over the launch pad. 2248 GMT (6:48 p.m. EDT Fri.)Launch support equipment is being powered up again.2242 GMT (6:42 p.m. EDT Fri.)Now 90 minutes from the scheduled launch time. Things are fairly quiet in the countdown right now. Technicians will begin ticking through the steps of the final launch checklist starting at T-minus 1 hour. The main worry continues to be the weather. Skies are overcast and rain has been falling throughout the region.2227 GMT (6:27 p.m. EDT Fri.)T-minus 1 hour, 45 minutes.2224 GMT (6:24 p.m. EDT Fri.)Hands-on work at the launch pad has been finished. Crews are now departing Space Launch Complex 8 in preparation for liftoff.2212 GMT (6:12 p.m. EDT Fri.)T-minus 2 hours and counting down to today's launch of the Minotaur rocket carrying a cluster of six small science satellites from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.2157 GMT (5:57 p.m. EDT Fri.)The launch conductor has given the pad crew a "go" for arming and final closeouts of the Minotaur rocket.2147 GMT (5:47 p.m. EDT Fri.)Missile Liftoff, or MLO, testing just finished. This ensured that receiving stations will be able to detect the signal announcing Minotaur's launch.2144 GMT (5:44 p.m. EDT Fri.)The pre-launch checkout of rocket systems has wrapped up, allowing equipment to be powered down for now.2128 GMT (5:28 p.m. EDT Fri.)T-minus 2 hours, 44 minutes. First and second stage engine steering checks were accomplished as planned over the past couple of minutes. Also, interrogation tests of the Minotaur's C-band beacon used for tracking the rocket during launch have been completed.2124 GMT (5:24 p.m. EDT Fri.)The pre-flight alignment of the rocket's inertial navigation system has been verified complete. And upcoming will be a steering test of the Minotaur engine nozzles.2120 GMT (5:20 p.m. EDT Fri.)Link checks between the rocket's flight termination system and Range Safety is underway.2112 GMT (5:12 p.m. EDT Fri.)T-minus 3 hours and counting.2050 GMT (4:50 p.m. EDT Fri.)It remains cloudy and rainy at the launch pad as the countdown proceeds today. The temperature is 61 degrees F and winds are 8 mph.2045 GMT (4:45 p.m. EDT Fri.)We have posted some pictures taken a couple of hours ago while photographers were setting up their sound-activated cameras around the Minotaur's pad at Space Launch Complex 8. The gallery is available .2043 GMT (4:43 p.m. EDT Fri.)The mobile shelter that has enclosed the Minotaur rocket on the launch pad just completed its rollback for liftoff. This tower-like structure now stands in its launch position away from the rocket.2039 GMT (4:39 p.m. EDT Fri.)Tower rollback has begun. The service gantry that has shrouded the Minotaur rocket at Space Launch Complex 8 is slowly rolling away from the six-story booster in preparation for today's 5:12 p.m. PDT blastoff. The mobile tower provided workers access to the various parts of the rocket and gave the vehicle shelter from the weather during the pre-launch mission campaign.2022 GMT (4:22 p.m. EDT Fri.)Approval has been given for rollback of the launch pad service structure. And the launch team was just polled to verify all members are ready to begin Minotaur's pre-flight system checks.2012 GMT (4:12 p.m. EDT Fri.)T-minus 4 hours and counting. Launch day activities are proceeding for the Minotaur rocket. Controllers have been testing communications and telemetry links during the early portion of the countdown. At the launch pad, technicians are awaiting a "go" to roll the mobile service tower away from the rocket.1948 GMT (3:48 p.m. EDT Fri.)Today's target launch time has been adjusted slightly to 5:12 p.m. local (8:12 p.m. EDT; 0012 GMT).1925 GMT (3:25 p.m. EDT Fri.)The launch countdown is continuing for today's liftoff of the Minotaur rocket with the COSMIC atmospheric research mission.Read our earlier coverage.
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