Launch viewing Tickets sold out for STS-122 …

Out of curiosity, I checked ticket availability for Atlantis’ STS-122 Decembe, 6th launch this morning. As usual, the launch transportation tickets are already sold out (I bet that happened again within a few minutes). However, there are still tickets available for viewing from the Kennedy Space Center main visitor complex. Depending on what is your main intension, this option may also be useful for you. You can read my previous post on launch viewing from the KSC main visitor complex to get an idea what awaits you.

I would also like to mention that there are still options to get launch viewing tickets for the NASA Causeway via third-party operators. Just be sure to use only NASA-appointed ones or you may run into trouble. I have written details in my post on “How to view the launch from closeby when no tickets are available?“.

Of course, you can also go to Titusville beaches. They are farther away from the launch site, but still offer a very unique view. If you would absolutely like to view the launch from the beginning, it is better to go to Titusville than to go to the main visitor complex (which, on the other hand, is better if you come with kids).

Atlantis at the Pad; all good for December 6th launch

The Atlantic ocean is the backdrop for Space Shuttle Atlantis' seaside launch pad.Quicker than I thought here comes the first real post:

Space Shuttle Atlantis was moved successfully to the launch pad. As with all future shuttle missions, pad 39A will be used for all launches. Next summer, after the Hubble service mission, pad 39B will be reconstructed to be used for the Ares launches.

With Atlantis being at the pad, everything is doing well. So the STS-122 mission is likely to be scheduled on time on December, 6th. But be careful, we need to watch work carried out at the international space station ISS closely — it will be required to support Atlantis’ launch.

Some more details on the current status can also be found in this NASA quote:

Space shuttle Atlantis made an important step toward space on Saturday morning when engineers and technicians rolled the launch-ready stack to Launch Pad 39A. Atlantis is scheduled to stay at the pad for about three weeks undergoing final preparations for its mission STS-122 targeted to begin Dec. 6.

The mammoth crawler-transporter began moving the stack to the pad at 4:43 a.m. EST. The 3-mile trip took approximately six hours and was hard down at 11:51 a.m.

The Columbus laboratory was waiting at the launch pad when Atlantis arrived and the module will soon be placed inside the shuttle’s cargo bay where it will undergo its own series of tests and preparations for launch.

Atlantis’ crew of seven includes two European Space Agency astronauts who will help install Columbus on the International Space Station and activate its intricate systems. One of the ESA crew members will remain on the station for a long-duration mission.

This launch milestone comes less than a week after space shuttle Discovery returned to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to complete mission STS-120. That mission delivered the Harmony module to the station and will be the connecting point at the station for Columbus.

being back in Germany

I arrived yesterday afternoon back in Germany. I gradually begin to adopt to the cold unpleasant weather over here. Also, it takes some time to do all the things that need attention after being away three weeks (plus the jetlag…). Please bear with me, real posts follow ;)

STS-120 was a success – so what now …

Discovery’s STS-120 mission was a huge success. But remember, I started this blog because I wanted to record my launch viewing trip. Obviously, we are way past launch. Discovery even landed and the remotest reasoning for keeping up a STS-120 blog is now been blown away.

But, hey, this is about space faring: did you never hear about extending successful missions? With new mission objectives? It already happened to this blog, somewhat silently. The original objective was to track everything until launch. But then I said “hey, why not document the mission while it is flown”. And so I did …

All of this was great fun and I am honored to have found some loyal readers. In fact, it is so much fun, I’d like to continue.

I need to shift the focus a bit: From now on, I’ll not just concentrate on shuttle launches (have you seen an Ares article already sneaked in?). Also, I can probably not report as much in-depth as I did for STS-120. That was quite time consuming and I guess I can’t stand that in the long term. But I’ll keep every bit of useful information up, so that future launch viewers can find what they need. Along the same lines, I’ll also do a wrap-up of generally useful launch viewing information which I could not yet convey.

It would also be very pleasing if those of you intending to watch a launch could drop me a few lines after they have done so. Or, of course, anything pre-launch that may be of interest to the rest of us. I’ll gladly appoint you as contributing author for that.

I now hope that you, my valuable readers, like this “mission extension” and keep reading the blog. Feedback is also appreciated, so please don’t be shy ;)

Thanks again for all your support!

NASA TV Schedule for ISS Work

There are a number of tasks left to do for the ISS crew, among them even some “first evers”. The schedule is pretty busy and all needs to be done in order to support Atlantis’ STS-122 flight.

Today I received the NASA TV schedule, just in case you’d like to watch the work:

HOUSTON – In the wake of space shuttle Discovery’s delivery of the Harmony connecting module to the International Space Station, the station crew will conduct three spacewalks and robotically move two components this month to prepare for delivery of a European laboratory. All of the spacewalks and major robotics work will be broadcast live on NASA Television.

The shuttle Atlantis is targeted to launch Dec. 6 to deliver the European Space Agency’s Columbus science module. Before Columbus can be added to the station, Harmony must be relocated to its permanent location at the front of the complex. The station crew’s spacewalks and robotics work this month will complete that task, allowing Atlantis to dock and Columbus to attach to Harmony.

The NASA Television schedule includes:

4 a.m. CST Friday, Nov. 9 – NASA TV live coverage will begin as Expedition 16 Commander Peggy Whitson and Flight Engineer Yuri Malenchenko don U.S. spacesuits to conduct a 6.5-hour spacewalk to prepare a docking port on the forward end of the Destiny Laboratory to be detached. A press conference will follow the spacewalk on NASA TV, originating from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston with questions from reporters at participating NASA sites.

4 a.m. CST Monday, Nov. 12 – NASA TV will broadcast live coverage as Whitson and Flight Engineer Dan Tani use the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to detach the docking port, known as pressurized mating adapter-2, and relocate it to the forward end of the Harmony. No news conference is planned following the mating adapter relocation.

3:30 a.m. CST Wednesday, Nov. 14 – NASA TV will broadcast live coverage as Whitson and Tani use the Canadarm2 to detach Harmony and its new docking adapter from their current location attached to the Unity module. They will reposition Harmony to be attached to the forward end of the Destiny Lab, its permanent location. This will be the first time a major component of the station has been relocated without a shuttle present. No news conference is planned following Harmony’s relocation.

4 a.m. CST Tuesday, Nov. 20 – NASA TV will broadcast live coverage as Whitson and Tani conduct a 6.5-hour spacewalk to hook up fluid, electrical and data lines for the relocated mating adapter and Harmony module. A press conference will follow the spacewalk on NASA TV, originating from Johnson with questions from participating NASA sites.

4 a.m. CST Saturday, Nov. 24 – NASA TV will broadcast live coverage as Whitson and Tani conduct a final 6.5-hour spacewalk to complete the hook up of the mating adapter and Harmony module to the station and leave them ready for the docking of Atlantis and delivery of Columbus. No news conference is planned following the spacewalk.

For NASA TV downlink, schedule and streaming video information on the Web, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/ntv

New Travel Blog …

While I am on the road, I thought it would be a good idea to create a travel blog. Said and done, it is already online — of course with few content.

Those of you interested in rsyslog might like to hear that I will be back in the office next Monday. I’ll then review what has happened and go for another round of enhancements.

STS-120 MCC Status Report #32

Space shuttle Discovery lands at Kennedy Space Center, FloridaSTS-120
Report #32
Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2007 – 2 p.m. CST
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas

After 6.25 million miles and 15 days, space shuttle Discovery landed safely in Florida completing its 34th mission and circling the Earth 238 times.

Under command of astronaut Pam Melroy, the shuttle touched down on runway 33 at 12:01 p.m., after the 23rd mission to the International Space Station.

Discovery’s crew – Melroy, Pilot George Zamka and mission specialists Scott Parazynski, Stephanie Wilson, Doug Wheelock, Paolo Nespoli and Clay Anderson – will return to Houston Thursday. A welcoming ceremony for the crew is planned for 4 p.m. at NASA’s Hangar 276 on the south end of Ellington Field.

During the record stay at the station, Discovery delivered the Harmony Node with its 2,600 cubic feet of pressurized volume. Left in a temporary location while the shuttle occupied its permanent home on the Destiny laboratory, Harmony will be prepared for relocation by the Expedition 16 crew over the next three weeks before the next shuttle mission arrives.

“We could not have done this mission without Discovery being as clean and wonderful as it was. The whole agency had to pull together for this mission,” Melroy said on the runway flanked by Discovery.

Station commander Peggy Whitson along with Flight Engineers Yuri Malenchenko and Dan Tani will oversee the work to configure station systems for the arrival of a new science laboratory supplied by the European Space Agency next month. Tani exchanged places with Anderson, who spent 152 days in space – 148 of which were onboard the station.

The STS-120 Discovery crew also moved the port 6 truss – or P6 –segment and its accompanying solar arrays to its permanent home at the end of the stations truss, and repaired damage done to the solar array as it was being redeployed.

Next up is Atlantis, which is scheduled to roll to the launch pad Saturday. It will carry ESA’s Columbus laboratory to the station in early December on the STS-122 mission. Discovery will be towed by to its processing hangar this afternoon to begin preparations for its STS-124 mission in April 2008.

Discovery home again!

After a very successful flight, Discovery made a safe landing at Kennedy Space Center just a few minutes ago. The astronauts are exiting the space shuttle for the landing press conference.

The landing was successful on its first attempt, right at the home base at Kennedy Space Center.
This was probably the most on time flight for years now – launch on first attempt, perfect orbit operations and now even a landing that could not be more perfect. Congrats to the whole NASA team for this fantastic effort.

Among the many achievements was a historic space walk to restore the international space station ISS to fully operational state after rips where detected in a solar array. This spacewalk was made possible not only by the professional work of the space walkers but also hundereds, if not thousands, of people on the ground that got a plan ready within a very short time frame.

As it looks now, Atlantis STS-122 December, 6th launch will probably be also right on time. But today let’s celebrate the successful STS-120 mission.

Deorbit burn successful …

NASA just announced that the deorbit burn was successful. Discovery has slowed down by just 148 mph, but that is enough to descent within one hour. The landing is expected at 1:01pm ET at Kennedy Space Center.

All in all, it looks like an excellent mission, with an on-time launch on the first attempt as well as a landing on its first attempt, too.