SpacePolicyOnline.com Latest News
An updated version of our fact sheet on NASA's FY2011 Appropriations: The Debate Continues in the 112th Congress is now available. It reflects House action on H.R. 1. An amendment was adopted during floor debate reducing NASA's budget by an additional $298 million below the House Appropriations Committee's recommendation for the Cross Agency Support line.
UPDATE: The launch has been rescheduled for March 4.
NASA reports that the VICC is located in a mobile launch support van a few miles from the launch pad. More time is needed to determine the cause of and remedy the problem. NASA now is looking at launch dates in early to mid-March.
Space Shuttle Discovery is in its final planned hold waiting to pick up the count at T-9 minutes (9 minutes before launch). Everything was going well until moments ago when the range went red because of a problem with the range safety command system.
That's a computer, and what all this means is the subject of considerable discussion to which one can listen on NASA TV or Spaceflightnow.com. The NASA launch director, Mike Leinbach, has decided to take the countdown all the way down to T-5 (5 minutes before launch) before deciding whether to launch today. So apparently they will pick up the count at T-9 hoping that the problem can resolved quickly.
The countdown for STS-133 is down to the T-5 minute mark and holding. Minutes ago a problem developed with the Air Force's range safety computer system display. There is very little flexibility in the launch window today, but everyone has their fingers crossed it can be resolved in time.
The Air Force resolved their computer problem and the countdown has resumed. T-4 minutes and counting.
Amid rampant rhetoric about a possible government shutdown replete with each side blaming the other, House and Senate leaders reportedly are crafting competing short-term Continuing Resolutions (CRs) that could avoid that situation while they negotiate on a CR for the rest for FY2011. FY2011 began on October 1, but Congress has not passed any of the 12 regular appropriations bills to fund government departments and agencies. Instead it has passed a series of CRs that keep the government operating at last year's (FY2010's) level. The current CR expires on March 4.
As House and Senate members spend this week in their districts and states judging the mood of the voters, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is said to be developing a one-month CR to keep the government funded at current (FY2010) levels while Congress decides what it wants to do for the rest of FY2011. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), meanwhile, is working on one that would last only two weeks and would contain funding reductions from the FY2010 level.
Europe's Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS) at 16:08 GMT (11:08 am EST) today, clearing the way for the space shuttle to lift off as scheduled at 4:50 pm EST this afternoon. Had the docking gone awry, the shuttle launch might have been postponed to provide an opportunity to troubleshoot that docking before the shuttle arrives at the ISS on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the six person STS-133 crew is suiting up. Steve Lindsey, Eric Boe, Alvin Drew, Steve Bowen, Michael Barratt and Nicole Stott will soon board Discovery for its final trip into orbit. Bowen replaced Tim Kopra at the last minute after Kopra was injured in a bicycle accident. Bowen also was a member of the last space shuttle mission (STS-132), making him the first astronaut to fly on consecutive flights. His spacewalking skills earned him the additional mission. He is rated as a "lead" spacewalker as is Kopra and the complexity of the spacewalks on this mission required that expertise.
Space Shuttle Discovery is off on its final mission.
UPDATE: NASA will wait till Friday, February 25, to retry the Glory launch. Launch time is 5:09 am EST.
ORIGINAL STORY: NASA postponed the launch of its Glory earth observation spacecraft this morning after an unexpected reading from the vehicle interface control console. The launch was scheduled for 2:09 am PST (5:09 am EST) from Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA. They may try again tomorrow morning at the same time if the issue can be resolved.
Officials from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) outlined the key features of a solicitation for proposals for an independent, nonprofit research management organization to foster and manage the use of the International Space Station (ISS) as a National Laboratory yesterday.
Mark Uhran, ISS assistant associate administrator, explained that since 2005 when the ISS was designated by law as a national laboratory, 50 percent of the U.S. portion of the ISS has been made available for research by non-NASA entities, such as universities, private firms, and other government agencies. Based on another law, the 2010 NASA authorization act, the agency is now seeking to create an organization to manage this non-NASA research. He clarified that NASA will maintain control of the other 50 percent necessary for pursuing its own goals, which are focused on basic scientific research, biomedical human research, and technology development.
Events of Interest