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Monthly archive April, 2010

Ultralight Spaceflight: Hydrogen and Oxygen Production

A step into Hydrogen and Oxygen Production and Liquification for the @ulsf open technology kernel for space flight.  Got physics or engineering or chemistry and interest in contributing to our volunteer effort to open the future?  Sign up at http://groups.google.com/group/ultra-light-space-flight .  We’re working on a reproducible set of technologies for doing robotic space flight. These posts demonstrate how much we need your help! 🙂

Russian Resupply Craft set for Wednesday Launch

A Soyuz U stands ready for it's Wednesday lift-off from Baikonur. (Yuznhy Space Center)

Russia’s Soyuz Prepares for Lift-off Tomorrow. (Yuznhy Space Center)

A Russian cargo spacecraft will journey into earth orbit on Wednesday carrying supplies and equipment bound for the International Space Station.

A Soyuz U rocket with the Progress M-05M (37) resupply craft is set to launch at 1:15 pm EDT (1715 GMT) on Wednesday, from Pad 1 at the Baikonour Cosmosdrome in Kazakhstan.

The two-stage Soyuz U rocket stands a few inches above 167-feet tall at launch. It’s twenty core stage engines and eight smaller stabilizer engines provide much of the thrust during the first few minutes of flight.

This will be the thirty-seventh Progress to ferry supplies to the space station.
The Progress is scheduled to dock to the Pirs Docking Compartment at about 2PM on Saturday afternoon.

The unmanned cargo ship will carry 110 pounds of air and oxygen; 220 pounds of water; 1,918 pounds of propellant; and 3,031 pounds of experiment hardware and spare parts for the station’s six person crew.

On Sunday, the six-member station crew will open the hatches to Progress and begin unstowing the supplies.

The current Expedition 23 crew includes Commander Oleg Kotov and Flight Engineers T.J. Creamer, Soichi Noguchi, Mikhail Kornienko, Tracy Caldwell Dyson and Alexander Skvortsov.

The nearly 24-foot Progress uses two solar arrays to power the vehicle’s time in space. Nine minutes after launch, the craft will begin to deploy the arrays and a high gain antenna.

On April 22, the trash-filled older Progress M03-M (35) undocked from station to make room for the new craft’s arrival. Mission control in Moscow will fire its deorbit thrusters today for three minutes at 2:05 pm EDT (10:05 pm Moscow) to send it toward a reentry where it will burn up.

During the craft’s recent solo flight, a program test known as the
Radar-Progress technical experiment was performed.

“The experiment is aimed at defining density, sizes and reflectivity of the ionosphere environment around the vehicle, which is caused by operations of the Progress` liquid propellant engines,” Russian Space Agency public affairs told this reporter in a recent message.

Fragments of the craft are expected to splashdown at just before 3 PM EDT over the southern Pacific Ocean in a region located at 42 degrees south by 141 degrees west.

The next Progress launch is to take place in two months on June 28.


Rocket Racers – Racing for the Space Age

This weekend was a milestone for bringing space technology to the masses. The first demonstration of a type of race never seen before took place in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Two X-Racers took off and competed in the sky, in what seems to be described as a combination between NASCAR and Star Wars pod-racing. The X-Racers, delta-winged rocket engine planes with 2000 lbs of instantaneous thrust at a flip of a button, go through a virtual course in the sky, projected onto the pilot helmet and also on huge screens for the audience enjoyment.

Read more about this (there’s also an Israeli connection) at http://www.spacepirations.com/2010/04/rocket-racers-racing-for-space-age.html

Russia Announces They Have a Mini-Space Shuttle

The Russian Space Agency announced on Friday that they have a delta winged space shuttle in which
they say can deliver payloads to orbit.

the Multipurpose Aerospace System (MAKS), the Russian shuttle has the
same style and size as the American Air Force’s recently launched X37-B

unlike the X37-B which used an Atlas 5-501 rocket to achieve orbit on Thursday, the MAKS will use an airplane carrier to achieve the initial
climb to orbit.

manufacture Molnia’s Vladimir Skorodelov, a general designer in the company’s research and development, acknowledged
his country’s mini-shuttle on the heels of the American launch of
two space shuttles this month — Discovery and the X37-B.

spacecraft was designed in ’80s and it is still in work. This is a
reusable multipurpose aerospace system of the same size as U.S. ĐĄ-37,”
Skorodelov stated to TASS news.

Skorodelov also mentioned that Russia is eager to see it launched soon.

space agency stated that the cost of sending 2.2 pounds of cargo
into space is between one to two thousand dollars. They stated that the
American shuttle costs nearly $20,000 for the same weight.

Russia experimented with an unmanned space shuttle in the 1980’s, which had nearly the same dimensions as the U.S. orbiters.

Soviet Union’s space shuttle Buran (below) made one unmanned trip into space
in November 1988. But the fall of the Soviet Union, and the country’s cash-strapped space program canceled their shuttle program in 1992.

Ultralight Spaceflight: A cryogenic H2+O2 technology set

Developing ideas for open source engineering for space flight
Ultra Light Space Flight: A cryogenic H2+O2 technology set

A4H Bruce Davis at the Presidential Space Summit

A4H’s very own Bruce Davis was among the select few invited to attend the Presidential Space Summit held at the NASA Kennedy Space Center on April 15, 2010. At the event, President Obama outlined his new strategy for human spaceflight, which includes the expanded support for commercial space transportation systems – the same systems that will also enable the nascent suborbital and eventually orbital science research community.


Bruce, who is pictured here with Norm Augustine, shared his impressions and photos from the event on his website spacedavis.com.

Astronauts4Hire founders on The Space Show

On April 12, 2010 Veronica Ann Zabala-Aliberto revealed Astronauts4Hire on The Space Show alongside her impressions from the Space Access conference.

Listen to it here: http://thespaceshow.com/detail.asp?q=1342

On April 20, 2010, Amnon I. Govrin called in and discussed Astronauts4Hire.

Listen to it here: http://thespaceshow.com/detail.asp?q=1347

More info at www.astronauts4hire.org

Yuri’s Night in Boulder, CO

On April 10th, about an hour before the festivities officially began, I drove the short 10 mile distance from my home to Boulder, parked and walked to The Lazy Dog on the Pearl Street Mall. About ten people were busy decorating the place, emptied from tables apart from side booths. Ryan Kobrick (a fellow Astronauts4Hire founder) was orchestrating everything, from helping the first band get ready to decorations. Also present from A4H was Laura Stiles, and it was cool to meet a few of the people interested in space and more specifically, some of the members of Astronauts4Hire (Chad Healy came in later as well).

Read all about who was there from the space industry and what went on with pictures on http://www.spacepirations.com/2010/04/yuris-night-in-boulder-co.html

Discovery Lands Upon America’s Space Coast

(Cape Canaveral, FL) — The
space shuttle Discovery left earth orbit this morning and glided home
across America’s heartland with a sunrise landing upon America’s Space

returned home following fifteen full days in space which saw the
orbiter docked to the International Space Station for ten day’s during the resupply

oldest active space shuttle returned to Florida, she and her crew of
seven crossed over the United States beginning over Northern Idaho;
over Helena, Montana; southeastward to Little Rock; down to Montgomery
and into northern Florida.

Discovery’s main gear touched down upon runway 33 at the Kennedy Space Center at 9:08:35 am EDT, at a speed of 206 mph.

Alan Poindexter then lowered the nose of the orbiter down allowing it
to hit the runway twelve seconds later. Pilot James Dutton deployed the
drag chute just prior to the nose touchdown to slow the orbiter as she rolled to
a stop after traveling 6,232,235 miles since liftoff on April 5th.

stop occurred at 8:09:33 am, giving NASA’s 131st space shuttle mission a
flight duration of 15 days, 2 hours, 48 minutes and 8 seconds,
according to Mission Control.

It was the 74th landing by a space shuttle at Kennedy, and was the 38th space flight by Discovery.

crew includes Poindexter, Dutton and Mission Specialists Rick
Mastracchio, Stephanie Wilson, Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, Japanese
astronaut Naoko Yamazaki and Clayton Anderson.

the spacecraft flew 223 miles above the northern coastline of
Australia, Discovery fired her twin orbital maneuvering engines for 2
minutes, 57 seconds beginning at 8:02:55 am.

The burn slowed the ship down by 205 miles per hour, decreasing her orbital velocity to allow the craft to drop out of orbit.

8:26 am, both Poindexter and Dutton were surprised at one point as the the forward
jets of the orbiter began firing to maneuver the ship for her entry
interface minutes later.

of Discovery back into the earth’s atmosphere began at 8:27 am as the
orbiter flew 399,800 feet over the northern Pacific Ocean, flying
at a speed of 16,900 mph.

At this point, Discovery was 2,005 miles ahead of the space station.

The mission flew with several high points and a few low points.

after reaching orbit, the crew experienced a glitch with the ship’s
high gain television antenna known as the KU-band. The mission had to
be reworked since the crew were not able to use the antenna for
television downlink or high data speed-related transmissions.

crew also had to wait until after docking with the space station to
downlink the thermal protection system survey which was performed on
day two of the flight.

nominal docking on day three of the mission lead to the start of the crew off
loading 8,000 pounds of fresh supplies and new equipment from the
Leonardo module to the orbital complex.

Wilson used the station’s robotic arm to reach into Discovery’s bay and
pluck out the cargo module and dock it to the station. It stayed docked
to the Harmony module for eight days.

the third and final spacewalk of the flight, an issue arose with the
nitrogen valve on the newly installed ammonia tank assembly located on
the starboard truss segment of the station.

issue remains on going and space station controllers are continuing to
look into what can be done to repair the valve on the cooling system of
the station’s avionics.

next mission is scheduled for September on a flight which will likely
shift from the final flight of a space shuttle to the second from final
flight soon due to a payload issue with a summer shuttle flight.

Discovery soars over America's spaceport on April 20, 2010.

Discovery lands at the Kennedy Space Center today. (NASA)

 Images via NASA/ KSC

A Layman’s View of President Obama’s Space Plan—The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

The President came to town this week.  That’s a pretty big deal.  Whether you support his policies or not, it’s not often that we get to have the leader of the free world in our own backyard.  He was here to lay out his vision for the future of space exploration in America.  That’s another pretty big deal…especially since we are the Space Coast.

While I am not directly involved in the wondrous work that takes place just a few miles from my front door that puts astronauts and satellites into space, I am very concerned.  Many of my friends, family members and clients earn their living by doing this work.  As a long-time resident of Brevard County and a property owner, I am concerned for our future.  I’m worried that people I know and care for will soon lose their jobs and may have to leave our area.  I’m afraid that our property values, which have fallen dramatically over the last few years, will take yet another major hit.

It’s frustrating to me that in today’s political environment, the reaction to the President’s plan seems to be, like everything else, determined by which side of the political fence you fall on.  While trying to learn more about what the plan may actually mean to our area, I mostly learned that Democrats think the plan is a positive step for our country.  Republicans think it’s a terrible idea.  So, what follows is a layman’s interpretation of what I heard the President say in his brief visit.

The Good

The President’s plan called for an extended life for the International Space Station.  Under President Bush’s plan, the U.S. was scheduled to start withdrawing from the ISS this year.  The new plan extends the life of the station to 2020, or later.  I believe that after the billions of dollars spent, and the international cooperation that has occurred, we should stay involved.

The plan also called for a revival of the program to build the Orion crew capsule.  Originally part of Project Constellation (along with Ares I and Ares V), which was going to get us back to the moon, Orion was completely withdrawn from the first version of the President’s budget proposal in February.  Although we won’t see the two Ares vehicles, at least Orion is back in the picture…albeit a downsized version.  It is expected to create anywhere from 400 to 1000 jobs…right here at KSC.

The Space Coast would remain the Space Coast.  The President’s plan makes Kennedy Space Center the program headquarters for the $6 billion Commercial Crew Development program.  I think this provision provides a two-fer benefit.  First, our area would benefit from the jobs needed to create a viable commercial space program.  And two, I believe that in the long-term, it will be better for private industry to provide the transportation systems needed for future space exploration.

We could become the “Silicon Valley of Space.”  Instead of just providing launch services, the plan broadens KSC’s role into research and development.  This will hopefully lead to the creation of new and better jobs.

The Bad

The time frame of the plan leaves a lot to be desired.  While calling for the development of a heavy-lift rocket, there will be no decision on design until 2015.  Also, I was a bit surprised to learn that our next stop in space may be an asteroid.  After that, Mars.  But the plan is to reach the asteroid in the 2020s and we won’t get to Mars until the 2030s.

As usual, politics muddy up the picture.  Even if President Obama serves a second term, the decision on the heavy-lift rocket will not come until near the end of his administration.  And we certainly know that things can, and I’m sure will, change between now and then.

I know that unfulfilled campaign promises probably don’t surprise anyone any longer, but the President doesn’t seem to be living up to the ones he made while visiting our area prior to his election.  He said that “we cannot cede our leadership in space.”  He derided the previous administration for not giving NASA the support it needed to reach its stated goals and said that by not providing the support “that after the Space Shuttle shuts down in 2010, we’re going to have to rely on Russian spacecraft to keep us in orbit.”  Additionally, he offered to extend the shuttle program, speed up the development of its successor, and make sure that our space industry workers would not lose their jobs because “we cannot afford to lose their expertise.”  It appears that those statements may have won votes, but will fall into the category of unfulfilled promises.

The Ugly

The most obvious is that we did not get the extension of the shuttle program that we were all hoping for.  After three more missions, the program that has done so much over the last 30 years will come to a halt.  That means that at least 8000 space shuttle workers will be in danger of losing their jobs.  That’s ugly.

It’s true that the plan calls for a $40 million initiative, led by the White House and several other agencies, to develop a plan for “regional economic growth and job creation.”  Call me a skeptic, but with the bureaucracy of many different agencies involved, I’m not sure $40 million will have much positive impact for our workers.  And the worst part is that the President asked for the plan to be on his desk by August 15th.  That doesn’t leave us much time or wiggle room.  The last shuttle launch is scheduled for September 16th.

And finally, this is just the President’s plan.  Congress has control of the purse strings.  What finally materializes after it goes through the legislative process could, and probably will, look a lot different than what the President proposed to us.

But…could that be a good thing?

Atlas 5 to Launch Air Force’s Space Plane Thursday

(CAPE CANAVERAL, FL) — A prototype of an advanced space plane by the U.S. Air Force will make it’s debut on Thursday as it heads into space a top an Atlas 5 rocket from Cape Canaveral.

The 29-foot long, 11,000-pound Orbital Test Vehicle (X37-B) is a white winged craft with a similar style as the U.S. space shuttle.

“The OTV has the potential to revolutionize how the Air Force operates in space by making space operations more aircraft like and adding in the capability for returnable plug-and-play experiments,” David Hamilton, Director of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities office stated last week.

In 1999, NASA begun the X37 project, however the space agency handed it over to DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) in September 2004. DARPA is headquartered in Arlington, Virginia.

DARPA, originally formed in 1958 as the Advanced Research Projects Agency, is an office designed to prevent technological surprises against the United States, such as the Soviets launch of Sputnik in 1957.

The OTV project partnership between the military, DARPA and NASA was announced in October 2006.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5-501 remains set to lift-off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s launch complex 41 on April 22 at 7:52 pm EDT (2352 GMT). The launch window closes at 8:01 pm.

This reporter has learned from a source that the Boeing-built X-37B will launch into a low earth orbit of about 350 miles high, and could stay aloft for over 100 days. The craft has the ability to stay aloft for 270 days, the Air Force stated to this reporter.

During the classified year ahead, the robotic spacecraft will be maneuvered around and will test it’s “advanced guidance, navigation and control, thermal protection systems, avionics and high temperature structures and seals”, Staff Sgt. Vanessa Young reported.

The orbital vehicle will be powered via Gallium Arsenide Solar Cells with lithium-Ion batteries.

Once the Air Force brings the reusable space plane home, it will reenter just like the space shuttle and will aim for a touchdown on runway 12 at Vandenberg, AFB.

The belly of the vehicle is protected with a black thermal protection system designed by NASA. The X37-B has a wing span of 14 feet, 11 inches from tip to tip.

Lt. Col. Troy Giese, the OTV systems program director said, “Upon being given the command to return to Earth, the X-37B will automatically descend through the atmosphere and land on the designated runway. There is no one on the ground with a joystick flying it.”

If weather or technical issues arise on landing day, then Edwards, AFB will be called up with it’s longer runway.

The question on the minds of most in both military and civilian uniforms are asking if this is a one time event, or the start of a second generation space shuttle.

The military was to have taken over shuttle Discovery in 1986 for DoD flights from Vandenberg. However fuel contamination issues and the Challenger break-up forced the cancellation of a military launch pad in California.


Following a successful flight, the next OTV flight is slated for mid-2011.


Story by Charles Atkeison




Open Source Engineering for Space Flight

Today the President of the United States stands with NASA, the ISS
partners, and private industry to further NASA’s mission to extend the
space frontier for all of us.

Ultra light space flight
projects cap spending at many orders of magnitude less than that
required for human and public sector space flight missions.

have been studying and learning how to do this work in ways compatible
with, and complementary to other parts of our lives and sectors of our

We recognize the role that open source engineering
has played in everyone’s lives online, and the similar potentials it
may have for the expanding space economy.