In The Cape Week in Review, one chapter in history was closed, while a new one opened. While the space shuttle Atlantis returned home from her final planned mission the private commercial space firm, SpaceX rescheduled the launch of its Falcon 9 rocket and the U.S. Air Force launched the first GPS IIF satellite. (With 3 videos)
Atlantis arrives home after final mission
After a highly successful mission the crew of STS-132 aboard the space shuttle Atlantis returned home to NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) Wednesday May 26, 2010. It marked the end of the final scheduled mission for Atlantis. The shuttle will now wait in a type of holding pattern in case she is needed as a rescue vehicle for the final mission of the shuttle program - STS-134.
STS-132 carried the Russian Mini-Research Module 1, (MRM-1) also known as the Rassvet ("Dawn") module and the Integrated Cargo Carrier-Vertical Light Deployable (ICC-VLD) pallet that held a Ku-band Space to Ground Antenna (SGANT) to the International Space Station. This gives the orbiting outpost a new docking port on the Russian segment of the station, a new Ku-band antenna and a new work platform for the Dextre robot. In short, this mission was extremely important in terms of expanding the space station's capabilities.
Atlantis touched down on runway 33 at KSC's Shuttle Landing Facility at 8:48 a.m. EDT closing 25 years of accomplishments that include the first mission to the Russian space station Mir and the last mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. Atlantis flew some 32 missions and over 100 million miles during her operational lifetime.
Image above: STS-132 astronauts pose in front of space shuttle Atlantis after landing Wednesday at Kennedy Space Center. Image Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
Falcon 9 placeholder reset again
Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) has pushed back the placeholder date for the inaugural launch of its Falcon 9 rocket to June 4. The Hawthorne, CA-based company has pushed back this date several times recently. The month of May has been a very busy month in terms of Cape Canaveral range operations. The space shuttle Atlantis conducted its final planned mission and a Delta IV rocket attempted to launch on a number of times, (eventually succeeding on May 27).
The first flight of the Falcon 9 is set to carry a prototype of SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft into orbit. This spacecraft is designed to be used both as a cargo carrier as well as a spacecraft to ferry astronauts into orbit. When the Falcon 9 does launch it will blast off from Space Launch Complex, (SLC) 40 at Cape Canaveral. SpaceX has a $1.6 billion contract with NASA to use the Falcon 9 to send cargo to the International Space Station. The contract includes three test flights and 12 missions to the Space Station.
Falcon 9 on the pad. Credit: SpaceX
Delta IV launches GPS IIF satellite
The U.S. Air Force launched the first in a series of 12 planned GPS IIF satellites on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket at 11 p.m. EDY Thursday May 27. The launch took place at Cape Canaveral's Space Launch Complex (SLC) 37. The successful launch came after a series of scrubs caused by technical issues.
The first issue cropped up on the first launch attempt, a balky swing arm component caused a one-day delay. Then issues involving the satellite-to-ground telemetry caused the launch to slip to May 27. Weather conditions were highly favorable, (at launch time weather held only a 10 percent chance of constraint). As the mission took place all launch events happened almost precisely when they were supposed to.
Delta IV on the pad. Credit: Alan Walters
The Cape Week in Review is compiled by Jason Rhian, the Cape Insider, and is a weekly
round-up of what's happening at Cape Canaveral. If you have information or suggestions for the Cape Week in Review please email us at email@example.com.