On this day, July 16, in 1969, a Saturn V rocket — still the most powerful rocket ever built — launched Apollo 11 on its historic journey to take astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins to the Moon — the first two becoming the first humans to ever step foot on another world four days later.
The video above is the original NASA broadcast footage of the Saturn V launch from Kennedy Space Center (look for the shockwave at 1:14!) Below is something even more incredible — a remote camera video from the pad showing the rocket launch close-up, at 500 frames per second!
Check it out:
In the dark hours before dawn this morning, Tuesday May 22, 2012, history was once again made along Florida’s warm and humid space coast. After a series of extensions and delays — and even one literal last-second scrub — SpaceX successfully launched its Dragon capsule aboard a Falcon 9 rocket… a trailblazing event that opens the doors of our nation’s future in space!
Star Lab, the next-generation vehicle for suborbital experiments developed by the Florida-based 4Frontiers Corporation, is well on its way toward its first successful flight — and it’s looking for payloads.
I had a chance to interview Mark Homnick, CEO of 4Frontiers, at his office in New Port Richey, Florida. He gave me the run-down on Star Lab and how it will help make suborbital payloads affordable for research institutions, helping them get their experiments off the shelf — and off the ground.
“We’re real, we’re viable, and we have the best deal that I know of… we’ll have the lowest cost and the highest launch rate, anywhere.”
– Mark Homnick, CEO of 4Frontiers Corporation
It’s a fascinating venture and it’s going to become a reality very soon. Read the full story here.
Can’t see the video below? Click here.
And away she goes! NASA’s GRAIL spacecraft launched successfully – and beautifully! – at 9:08 am EDT this morning from Cape Canaveral aboard a Delta II Heavy rocket. This was the third day for launch attempts after several scrubs due to high-altitude winds on both Thursday and Friday. In this case the third time certainly WAS a charm!
GRAIL will fly twin spacecraft in tandem orbits around the moon for several months to measure its gravity field in unprecedented detail. The mission also will answer longstanding questions about Earth’s moon and provide scientists a better understanding of how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system formed.
Shortly after launch the spacecraft successfully separated from the rocket stages. It will take the two spacecraft until New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day to reach the moon. Go GRAIL!
Visit the mission news page here.
The space shuttle Endeavour lifted off from Cape Canaveral for the final time on the morning of Monday, May 16 2011, and quickly pierced through the low cloud cover, disappearing from view for many observers on the ground but not for those high above in a NASA weather reconnaissance aircraft! They had quite the view as the shuttle punched through the clouds on its way into space, leaving a trail behind that cast a long shadow in the morning sun. Absolutely beautiful!
See this and more aerial views on Spaceflight Now.
Incredible! It’s a shame sights like this are very soon to be a thing of the past.
Can’t see the video below? Click here.
During a shuttle launch, the two white solid rocket boosters (SRB’s) attached to the main orange tank detach first* and fall back to Earth, landing in the Atlantic. These are retrieved by NASA ships and ferried back to be refurbished and refilled for the next mission…a process that requires the efforts of many experienced professionals, to say the least. The video above is the first to be released by NASA of the entire process is high-definition, showing the fall to Earth and retrieval of both SRBs from the Discovery STS-133 launch. Very cool!
Just goes to show that there’s a lot more people involved in the shuttle program than astronauts and scientists!
*The main solid rocket tank detaches from the shuttle at a later point and is mostly burnt up in the atmosphere during its fall. It is not reused. For a video of the May 2010 STS-132 shuttle launch, showing a booster’s-eye-view of the entire event, click here.
Looking quite regal on Kennedy Space Center’s Pad 39A, Discovery gets lit up by powerful xenon lamps in this animation made from live video feed images taken on the night before her final launch.
As of this writing the shuttle liftoff is on schedule for 4:50pm EST on Thursday, February 24.
The images above were taken closely following the retraction of the RSS (rotating service structure), seen to Discovery’s left, which began at 8:02 pm and finished 35 minutes later. Shortly thereafter the lights were turned on, illuminating the towering solid booster rockets and attached shuttle.
This will be Discovery’s final flight, taking STS-133 mission crew members to the Space Station to deliver spare parts, an additional experiment and storage module and the Express Logistics Carrier-4, an external platform for holding large equipment. Discovery will also be bringing Robonaut 2 (yes, an R2 droid!), a human-like robot who will become a permanent working member of the ISS. So in a way, while the shuttle program is coming to an end a new era in space exploration – a robotic era – is just beginning! Still, it’s bittersweet to be just that much closer to the end of shuttle flights.
“We’re wrapping up the Space Shuttle Program. Besides the excitement of completing the International Space Station and all the things we do, I hope people get a sense of the history of what the shuttle is and what we’ve done and what’s ending. Because they’ll probably never see anything like it flying again.”
– STS-133 Commander Steve Lindsey
The STS-133 crew members are Commander Steven Lindsey, Pilot Eric Boe and Mission Specialists Alvin Drew, Michael Barratt, Steve Bowen and Nicole Stott. Bowen, by the way, is the first astronaut to fly on consecutive shuttle flights.
Best wishes for a great flight tomorrow to the STS-133 crew! (Watch the launch live on NASA TV here!)
Image: NASA / Ustream. Animation: J. Major.