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The twilight of NASA

Use a trampoline. “The cancellation of the space shuttle may be the biggest blunder ever made by the United States,” Kraft said. “It’s fairly obvious that no one in the government thought through what they were about to bring about when they made that decision.”
posted by bitmage on May 19, 2014 - 85 comments

the composer of the future meets the city of the future

In 1985, Houston was preparing for a party: 1986 marked the city's 150th birthday, the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Texas, and 25 years since the opening of NASA's Johnson Space Center, the hub around which the city's aerospace industry blossomed. In comes French synthesizer pioneer Jean Michel Jarre, the "composer of the future", known for his spectacular 1979 Bastille Day show that attracted a million people to Place de la Concorde, and for being the first Western musician to play China in 1981. With the Space Shuttle Challenger due to take off on mission STS-51-L in January, Jarre penned a piece for Mission Specialist and saxophonist Ron McNair to record in space. The nation watched as McNair and his crewmates prepared for their journey and waved goodbye, only to perish in a haunting and iconic explosion. As Houston mourned the loss of the seven crew, who called the city home during their preparation for spaceflight, Jarre wasn't sure if the upcoming festivities should be held, but was convinced by astronaut Bruce McCandless that the show must go on. On April 5, 1986, 1.5 million people gathered downtown to witness Rendez-vous Houston, a massive tribute to America's pioneering spirit that used the city as its backdrop. [more inside]
posted by avocet on May 14, 2013 - 19 comments

Anniversary of 2nd shuttle disaster

10 years ago today, the flagship of the Space Shuttle fleet, Columbia, broke apart upon its return to earth. [more inside]
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Feb 1, 2013 - 42 comments

How To Steal The Space Shuttle: A Step-By-Step Guide

How To Steal The Space Shuttle: A Step-By-Step Guide
posted by Egg Shen on Oct 5, 2012 - 33 comments

Sic transit gloria

Up-close with Atlantis. A photo gallery of Space Shuttle Atlantis, as it awaits decommissioning in the VAB.
posted by bitmage on Jul 3, 2012 - 10 comments

Second stage propulsion performing as expected.

SpaceX's Falcon9 rocket carrying Dragon capsule to dock with the ISS, has launched successfully. [more inside]
posted by egor83 on May 22, 2012 - 67 comments

Private Space

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Dragon cargo capsule is scheduled to launch at 8:55 am UTC on Saturday, May 19, 2012 - a little less than 12 hours from now. [more inside]
posted by egor83 on May 18, 2012 - 52 comments

"Obviously a major malfunction."

Chilling amateur home video of the Challenger disaster "Obviously a major malfunction." Those words have always haunted me, but to hear them here, echoing across a PA system as shocked onlookers come to terms with what they have just seen, they carry even more power than they did when they were just an anonymous voiceover on a TV shot.
posted by LondonYank on May 2, 2012 - 107 comments

Enterprise Lands at JFK

Front-row window seat to Space Shuttle Enterprise landing at JFK.
posted by brownpau on Apr 27, 2012 - 30 comments

Space Shuttle Discovery arrives at its new home

The Space Shuttle Discovery, known for launching the Hubble telescope, as well as being the workhorse of the fleet, made a final flight today. [more inside]
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Apr 17, 2012 - 55 comments

Dissecting OV's 103, 104 and 105.

Orbiter Autopsies "What NASA will learn from dissecting Space Shuttles Atlantis, Discovery, and Endeavour" before they transition into retirement. (From the May 2012 issue of Smithsonian Air & Space Magazine.)
posted by zarq on Mar 23, 2012 - 13 comments

Where we won't go anymore.

VR Panorama of the Space Shuttle Discovery's flight deck
posted by bitmage on Jul 12, 2011 - 34 comments

Final American Space Shuttle Launch Scheduled for Today

The Space Shuttle Atlantis, STS-135, is scheduled to lift off this morning from Kennedy Space Center. The time was originally scheduled for 11:26 AM EDT, but that has been pushed back, despite "no technical concerns and... weather is a 'go'." Astronauts aboard are Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley, and Mission Specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim. Watch live coverage, with some archival footage, on NASA's Ustream or on NASA.gov. NASA has provided countdown highlights of the day to get you up to speed. Read NASA's feed on Twitter. At the time of this post's writing, the countdown clock is on a scheduled hold with 9 minutes to go. Previously, STS-134, on the Blue.
posted by knile on Jul 8, 2011 - 200 comments

It is in the DNA of our great country to reach for the stars and explore

On May 16, 2011, after one scrubbed attempt, the space shuttle Endeavour set off on her final mission, STS-134. Shuttle commander Mark Kelly had this to say after receiving a "go" from the launch poll:
On this final flight of space shuttle Endeavour, we want to thank all the tens of thousands of dedicated employees that have put their hands on this incredible ship and dedicated their lives to the space shuttle program. As Americans, we Endeavour to build a better life than the generation before, and we Endeavour to be a united nation. In these efforts, we are often tested. This mission represents the power of teamwork, commitment, and exploration. It is in the DNA of our great country to reach for the stars and explore; we must not stop. To all the millions watching today, including our spouses, children, family, and friends, we thank you for your support.
You've seen launches before, but NASA has uploaded a whole slew of angles that will truly amaze: Witness 4.4 million pounds of shuttle, fuel, and rocket boosters "twang" a full 18 inches as the main engines ignite. 1.2 million pounds of thrust push against a locked down stack, waiting for the solid rocket boosters to ignite. (The SRBs bring the total to 7 million lbs of thrust, enough to break all that binds her to the pad.) OTV Camera 71, a fantastic, short close-up. UCS-15 (TV-21A) provides a dead-on, close up shot of the launch. The South Beach Tracker shot offers a fantastic view as well. From 3.1 miles away at the Press Site, note the ~11 second delay before the piercing sound of the SRBs hits. And just released today, fantastic footage from the solid rocket boosters, including their trip to splashdown in the Atlantic ocean from 30 miles up. And finally, the classic NASA view, with some great data overlays by Spacevidcast. [more inside]
posted by disillusioned on May 26, 2011 - 40 comments

A Journey's End

Following on the heels of NASA's announcement of the final resting places of the various space shuttles, NASA, in conjunction with William Shatner, released a final video commemorating the program. (SLYT)
posted by Heliochrome85 on Apr 12, 2011 - 25 comments

Some disassembly required

After completing it's final mission in March, Space Shuttle Discovery has been returned to the Kennedy Space Center's Orbiter Processing Facility, where it is being dissembled for cleaning and decommissioning. Spaceflight Now has pictures of the process.
posted by helloknitty on Apr 11, 2011 - 49 comments

That's a big ass rocket

$1,000 per pound to orbit is the holy grail for rocket pricing. Elon Musk claims that his SpaceX corporation's new Falcon Heavy will be able to lift 117,000 lbs. to low earth orbit for 1/3rd the cost of the next most capable launchers, the space shuttle and the Delta IV Heavy. [more inside]
posted by tgrundke on Apr 6, 2011 - 39 comments

"Slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God."

Challenger . . . . go with throttle up. Twenty-five years ago today the U.S. Space Shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds into the 25th space shuttle flight. The reports (pdf) tell us of O-Ring failures. Today, we remember one of the most tragic days in the history of the U.S. manned spaceflight program. Today, January 28, 2011, we remember: Michael Smith, Dick Scobee, Judith Resnik, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Gregory Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe.
posted by IvoShandor on Jan 28, 2011 - 100 comments

Where, oh where, will my space shuttle go?

The Space Shuttle is still retiring but a U.S. Senate plan (full text PDF), (House version) would add one more flight to the shuttle's career, probably sometime late next summer. The move comes as thousands of jobs stand to be eliminated with the shuttle's retirement. [more inside]
posted by IvoShandor on Aug 3, 2010 - 30 comments

Your Face in Space

With only two missions remaining as they wind down the space shuttle, NASA has a program to make countless dreams of space travel come (partially) true: Fly Your Face in Space. [more inside]
posted by audacity on Jul 29, 2010 - 12 comments

Space, an expensive frontier

Can the free market save the space program?
posted by Brandon Blatcher on May 26, 2010 - 41 comments

All summer In A Night

The final night flight of the Space Shuttle Endeavor [more inside]
posted by humannaire on Apr 27, 2010 - 25 comments

Boldly going ... where exactly again?

Compromise emerging for NASA's spaceflight future Since the announcement was made last month of the cancellation of Constellation (NASA's plan for returning to the Moon and Mars), the punditsphere has been ablaze with condemnation, support, and outright confusion over the future of American manned spaceflight. Keith Cowling, editor of the Nasawatch.com blog, has posted an interesting new development that if proven right, could prove to be a compromise between those wanting NASA to get out of manned spaceflight altogether and those seeking to keep the administration in the spaceflight business. [more inside]
posted by zooropa on Apr 6, 2010 - 40 comments

Space Shuttle 2.0

Certainly you've read of the Space Shuttle's imminent retirement, but are you prepared for the secret robot "mini" shuttle, the X-37B? After a decade of checkered development under NASA, DARPA (with assistance from Scaled Composites' White Knight) and finally the U.S. Air Force, the first X-37B spaceplane, the Orbital Test Vehicle, is ready for an April 19th launch.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot on Apr 3, 2010 - 40 comments

They've Got Trouble Of Some Kind, George

Amateur video footage of the Challenger explosion previously unknown, has now been found and, of course, posted to YouTube. A retired man named Jack Moss was taping the launch from his front yard when the explosion occurred moments into the launch. The tape was relegated to his basement and forgotten, and Moss died late last year. His pastor remembered a conversation about the video and found it among other old Betamax videotapes from the same period. It is believed to be the only amateur footage of the event.
posted by briank on Feb 5, 2010 - 121 comments

The Economist: The World in 2010

In 2010, Obama will have a miserable year, NATO may lose in Afghanistan, the UK gets a regime change, China needs to chill, India's factories will overtake its farms, Europe risks becoming an irrelevant museum, the stimulus will need an exit strategy, the G20 will see a challenge from the "G2", African football will unite Korea, conflict over natural resources will grow, Sarkozy will be unloved and unrivalled, the kids will come together to solve the world's problems (because their elders are unable), technology will grow ever more ubiquitous, we'll all charge our phones via USB, MBAs will be uncool, the Space Shuttle will be put to rest, and Somalia will be the worst country in the world. And so the Tens begin.

The Economist: The World in 2010. [more inside]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Nov 14, 2009 - 60 comments

What goes up

Blast into Space, Spectacular Fall to Earth {SYTL}
posted by mattoxic on Jul 7, 2009 - 45 comments

Shuttle launch aborts.

Space Shuttle launch aborts. Approximately six minutes of on-pad post-ignition pre-liftoff aborts in a single YouTube link.
posted by loquacious on Jun 8, 2009 - 31 comments

Quick, Robin! To the batosphere!

NASA Interim Problem Report 119V-0080: The bat that went up with the Space Shuttle Discovery.
posted by ardgedee on Mar 18, 2009 - 65 comments

The Assembly of Space Shuttle Discovery

The Assembly of Space Shuttle Discovery
posted by grouse on Apr 3, 2008 - 40 comments

For Arthur

A handful of pretty great spacewalk pix from last summer's Endeavour mission.
posted by CunningLinguist on Mar 19, 2008 - 59 comments

Cryogenic Venting

Light Reflection: a brilliant fan of cryogenics venting from a relief valve on STS-122 Atlantis' ET (external tank) post-separation. Also see this handheld video of the ET, with money shots at 2:15 and 3:55. [more inside]
posted by brownpau on Feb 21, 2008 - 13 comments

Space shuttle does a back flip

The space shuttle does a back flip while the earth races by underneath. [more inside]
posted by jouke on Feb 10, 2008 - 50 comments

Video of a Tour around STS-120/ISS

A tour around Discovery STS-120 and the International Space Station with Paolo Nespoli and Dr. Scott Parazynski. Tomorrow, Parazynski will be perched at the end of a robot arm and sensor boom assembly, stitching up a damaged solar array in what might be one of the riskiest EVAs since Skylab 2.
posted by brownpau on Nov 2, 2007 - 29 comments

Look at the Space Shuttle

Space World is a joint project between NASA, Microsoft Live Labs and MSNBC.com. It uses Microsoft Live Labs Photosynth to create 3D tours of the space shuttle Endeavour and NASA's Kennedy Space Center facilities.

(Tech preview, Windows XP SP2 and Vista RC 1, IE 6&7, Firefox 1.5 and 2 only, gotta install Photosynth plugin). Others can see a movie demo.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Aug 6, 2007 - 41 comments

Accident Prone

I hope STS-117 isn't delayed by this train wreck like it was from that hailstorm last March.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot on May 3, 2007 - 24 comments

It's Cheaper to Throw Them Out

Are reusable spacecraft history? Tonight's space shuttle launch was spectacular. Watch them while you can; there are only fifteen launches left before NASA retires the shuttle, and with it the concept of reusable spacecraft. Turns out that, despite previous efforts, governments just can't make the original, common-sense idea of reusable spacecraft economically feasible. Leave it to private industry to figure out how.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot on Dec 9, 2006 - 37 comments

When you touch down/You'll find that it's stranger than known

300 Miles High
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Jul 17, 2006 - 18 comments

Tragic triana

Bob Park mourns Triana in his "What's New" newletter: NASA has quietly terminated what may have been its most important science mission. Critics of programs to limit emissions argue that climate change is caused by solar variation, not by atmospheric changes. There is one unambiguous way to tell: locate an observatory at L-1, the neutral-gravity point between Earth and Sun. It would have a continuous view of the sunlit face of Earth in one direction, and the Sun in the other, thus constantly monitoring Earth's albedo. Originally called Triana, the Deep Space Climate Observatory has already been built and is sitting in storage.
posted by 445supermag on Jan 6, 2006 - 23 comments

"Go" for de-orbit burn...

Discovery is coming home... Around now (6.06am EDT) STS114 is due to commence firing its orbital maneuvering engines for 2 minutes and 42 seconds and commence its entry of the atmosphere to return home to Edwards Air Force base. Florida was declared a "no go" both yesterday and today due to weather conditions.

Weather at Edwards is good. Landing tracks from NASA available here.
BBC story with live video footage is here.
Pilot Jim Kelly is handling the de-orbit burn, according to commentary and mission commander Eileen Collins will make the final approach and touch down at Edwards.

Best of luck, Discovery, I'm sure I speak for all when I say that all of our thoughts are with you.
posted by tomcosgrave on Aug 9, 2005 - 130 comments

Shuttle Launch Exhaust

Ecological impact of Space Shuttle launch exhaust. Aluminum oxide powder, hydrogen chloride, and of course, water vapor, which can form noctilucent clouds. The environmental impact is supposedly minimal.
posted by brownpau on Aug 6, 2005 - 15 comments

STS-114 Liftoff

Liftoff! Discovery is in orbit, and STS-114 is well and fully underway. The fuel sensor problem which had previously delayed the launch was not an issue this morning. Mission timeline, mission updates, and the Wikipedia entry.
posted by brownpau on Jul 26, 2005 - 38 comments

The Columbia Accident Investigation Board

"These are good people"...but changes must be made. The Columbia Accident Investigation Board final report was released on Tuesday. Putting technical answers aside for the moment, the report targets the organizational and behavioral issues that led to a breakdown in communication, safety and responsibility. While acknowledging the good will at NASA, the report holds no illusions that changing this culture will be very difficult and very necessary in order to return to flight. What types of management/behavioral obstacles have you encountered in home, work, school or social organizations? How did you try to effect change and what obstacles did you encounter in an effort to make it more effective, safe, productive or enjoyable?
posted by tgrundke on Aug 28, 2003 - 11 comments

Did downsizing and inexperience lead to Columbia's destruction?

Did downsizing and inexperience lead to Columbia's destruction? In the rush to cut costs and 'downsize' NASA in the 1990s the agency outsourced most Space Transportation System (STS, or the Shuttle) functions to a private consortium called United Space Alliance. Now, senior engineers at Boeing (lead member of the USA) are beginning to talk about the lack of experience, 'brain drain', and negative effects of downsizing and privatization. This begs the issue of market imperatives, relative value of privatization and the question of how to better manage projects of this magnitude in a mixed private/public arrangement.
posted by tgrundke on Feb 23, 2003 - 3 comments

"I imagine this is the last we will hear of this."

"I imagine this is the last we will hear of this." Or not. NASA releases email between NASA engineers leading up to the Columbia disaster documenting significant concerns regarding damage done to the shuttle on takeoff. Engineers calculated the likelihood of a 7" x 30" gouge in the heat shields, but when they let management know of their concerns, they weren't taken seriously, were forced to work "at night" to do simulations, and found that requests for additional information were "treated like the plague."
posted by insomnia_lj on Feb 22, 2003 - 33 comments

Shuttle Achille's Hell ?

Shuttle "Achille's Hell" According to this article, Shuttle has one. Curiously it's in the area in which that piece of insulation hit during launch.Were the astronauts warned ? Did they do some space walk to see what was wrong ? I would stop my car to go out and see if I heard a loud "thump" coming from somewhere.
posted by elpapacito on Feb 3, 2003 - 38 comments

5...4...3...2...1...Goodbye, Columbia

5...4...3...2...1...Goodbye, Columbia "There is something noteworthy a rocket can do that the shuttle cannot. A rocket can be permitted to fail." Gregg Easterbrook's 1980 Washington Monthly cover story looks into the Columbia's beginnings, the hazards he saw in the shuttle, and its weaknesses compared to rockets.
Once you get into space, you check to see if any tiles are damaged. If enough are, you have a choice between Plan A and Plan B. Plan A is hope they can get a rescue shuttle up in time. Plan B is burn up coming back.
[via Slate]
posted by kirkaracha on Feb 2, 2003 - 32 comments

Challenger Explodes

17 years ago today, the space shuttle Challenger exploded, killing all seven aboard. I share this primarily as I recall this being the first where-were-you-when of my childhood. So where were you?
posted by xmutex on Jan 28, 2003 - 161 comments

Liftoff with the Space Shuttle.

Liftoff with the Space Shuttle. NASA attached a small RocketCam to the side of the External Tank on the launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis earlier this month. You can also download the full video.
posted by Mwongozi on Oct 23, 2002 - 3 comments

NASA scavenges on eBay for old parts for Space Shuttle

NASA scavenges on eBay for old parts for Space Shuttle [NYT link-reg req] The Space Shuttle is so old that many of the parts for it are no longer being made. NASA has been reduced to buying old equipment on eBay to scavenge for circuit boards and old CPUs.
posted by geneablogy on May 12, 2002 - 10 comments

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