Monday, January 30, 2012

Vega rocket prepared for first flight


 The primary Vega launch campaigns begin in November with the fitting of the P80 first stage on the launch pad. The two solid-propellant second and third stages were additional to the vehicle; follow by the AVUM Attitude & Vernier Upper component – liquid-propellant fourth stage.  

All four stages have undergone concluding acceptance, counting the difficult of the avionics, leadership, telemetry, propulsion, division pyrotechnics and safety systems.

These steps culminate on 13 January with Vega’s ‘mixture control checks’, where all systems were put into launch mode for the vehicle’s final acceptance. This included pressurising the AVUM propulsion systems that actuate the thruster valves.

The rocket’s elements were switch on from the manage bench to replicate the launch countdown. The onboard software then took in excess of and replicated the diverse stages of a flight. The interface between the vehicle and the control bench were also tested.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope: A time of accomplishment and achievement


Manufacturing and difficult of all flight mirrors was finished in a final test at the X-ray and Calibration Facility at Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala. through these tests mirror segment were chilled to temperature similar to those Webb will see in space, around minus 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

It was the conclusion of work started in 2003. Heed lessons learned from the Hubble Space Telescope, the program adopted the plan of tackling the most difficult technical challenges first. That decision proved to be the right one. In June, all 18 flight main mirror segment, plus the secondary, tertiary and fine steering mirrors, were refined and coated soft beautiful surfaces that will enable Webb to image the most far-away galaxies.

Two of Webb's behind and leader structures were also completed. To assemble the flight telescope on the ground, a 139,000 pound structure will install the flight mirrors using an below track system supporting a robotic arm. The huge display place has been completed and assembled in the ultra-clean room used for telescope assembly at Goddard.

Also over was the pathfinder backplane, a full-scale engineering model of the middle section of the flight backplane. The backplane holds the mirror segment in place to form a single primary mirror. The full pathfinder constituent will consist of 12 of the 18 hexagonal cells (the center section of the primary mirror) of the telescope and contain a subset of two primary mirror segment assemblies, the secondary mirror, and the subsystem contain the tertiary and fine direction-finding mirrors. It will show integration and test actions that will be used on the flight reduce in size.

Webb's giant sunshield moved onward into a new testing phase last year, the last step before fabrication of the flight sunshield. Sunshield layer three became the first of five full-size flight-like layers stretched out in a fully replicated flight pattern. This enables engineers to make 3-D shape capacity that will tell them how the full-size sunshield layers will behave in space. Implementation this test is a critical step in the sunshield's progress and gives the engineers confidence and experience needed to manufacture the five flight layers.

An important sunshield use flight structure also completed fabrication in 2011. The space-qualified graphite composite tubes that will enable the sunshield to deploy in space have finished fabrication. The telescoping tube system was intended at Astro Aerospace, a industry unit of Northrop Grumman.

Capping the year's achievement, Webb's spacecraft also moved onward. The force system's 16 monopropellant rocket engine thrusters, which manage momentum and station-keeping on orbit, were upgraded to accept senior heat loading from the sunshield. Propulsion engineers also completed building four flight secondary combustion increased thrusters which maintain orbit after the launch vehicle finishes its burns. Engineers also established the flight software accountable for ground commands and science data liberation.

Successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope is the world's next-generation space observatory. It is the most influential space telescope ever built. Webb will observe the most remote objects in the universe, provide images of the very first galaxies ever formed and study planets around distant stars. The Webb reduce in dimension is a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Fifty-Seven Student Rocket Teams to Take NASA Launch Challenge

More than 500 students from middle schools, high schools, colleges and universities in 29 states will show their rocketeering prowess in the 2011-12 NASA Student Launch Projects flight challenge. The teams will build and test large-scale rockets of their own design in April 2012.

NASA created the twin Student Launch Projects to spark students' imaginations, challenge their problem-solving skills and give them real-world experience. The project aims to complement the science, mathematics and engineering lessons they study in the classroom.

"Just as NASA partners with innovative companies such as ATK to pursue the nation's space exploration mission, these young rocketeers pool their talent and ingenuity to solve complex engineering problems and fly sophisticated machines,” said Tammy Rowan, manager of Marshall's Academic Affairs Office.

A record 57 teams of engineering, math and science students will take part in the annual challenge, organized by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. Fifteen middle and high school teams will tackle the non-competitive Student Launch Initiative, while 42 college and university teams will compete in the University Student Launch Initiative. The latter features a $5,000 first-place award provided by ATK Aerospace Systems of Salt Lake City, Utah.

"This competition is extremely important to ATK to mentor and train our future workforce," said Charlie Precourt, ATK general manager and vice president of Space Launch Systems. Precourt is a former space shuttle astronaut who piloted STS-71 in 1995 and commanded STS-84 in 1997 and STS-91 in 1998. "ATK is proud to enter our fifth year as a partner with NASA on this initiative to engage the next generation. The competition grows in impact each year."

Each Student Launch Projects team will build a powerful rocket, complete with a working science or engineering payload, which the team must design, install and activate during the rocket launch. The flight goal is to come as close as possible to an altitude of 1 mile, requiring a precise balance of aerodynamics, mass and propulsive power.

As in classroom studies, participants must "show their work," writing detailed preliminary and post-launch reports and maintaining a public website for their rocket-building adventure. Each team also must develop educational engagement projects for schools and youth organizations in its community, inspiring the imaginations and career passions of future explorers.

In April, the teams will converge at Marshall, where NASA engineers will put the students' creations through the same kind of rigorous reviews and safety inspections applied to the nation's space launch vehicles. On April 21, 2012, students will firing their rockets toward the elusive 1-mile goal, operating onboard payloads and waiting for chutes to open, signaling a safe return to Earth.

The student teams will vie for a variety of awards for engineering skill and ingenuity, team spirit and vehicle design. These include two new prizes: a pair of TDS2000 Series oscilloscopes, which are sophisticated tools for studying the change in flow of electrical voltage or current. Donated by Tektronix Inc. of Beaverton, Ore., the oscilloscopes will be presented to the two school teams that earn the "Best Payload" and "Best Science Mission Directorate Challenge Payload" honors.

This year's participants hail from Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. For a complete competitor list and more information about the challenge, visit: