Shuttle News: May 2011 Archives

Stunning Images: ISS Flies Over Earth At Night - Stars Above, Lights Below

"A portion of the International Space Station is visible in these views of a starry sky and Earth's horizon, photographed by an STS-134 crew member while space shuttle Endeavour remains docked with the station."

Lights In The Sky

Early Morning Skywatching and Teaching Satellite Concepts to Sherpas

"I got up early today to see the ISS and Endeavour fly over my house. Its always cool to see them flying in formation like this. This morning's viewing was at 4:48 am low in the North, so I was not sure I'd see things due to the brightening sky. As the two vehicles approached from due West I could only make out one fast moving light. But as the viewing geometry improved I was rewarded with two almost equally bright lights moving in clear association with one another - albeit briefly. Then the trees blocked my view. (My graphic is an attempt to draw what I saw.)

While I was waiting there for the flyby I thought back the film "The Right Stuff" where a group of wise aborigines ponders the night sky while sparks fly up from a fire. I wondered what sort of cosmology a modern stone age tribe in Borneo isolated from the rest of the world would think of all these lights in the sky moving in ways our ancestors would never have seen. Imagine what sort of cosmology they might have created to explain such lights."

Note: This video was sent to me by a reader after they read my original article: "Here's what you may have seen this morning - the Shuttle Endeavour leads the ISS, at about 4:50am (EDT) this morning. This handheld video was taken with my Canon S5-IS, with a maximum 12X optical zoom. It may not be "broadcast quality" but is presented as a tribute to the last flight of Space Shuttle Endeavour.- Michael Kowalchuk Ferdinand, IN"

Students Win Conrad Foundation Innovation Award And Send Nutrition Bar on Endeavour's Last Flight (Update)

"Update: Photos of several STS-134 astronauts eating a STEM bar aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour have been released."

12 Space Shuttle Missions That Weren't, IEEE Spectrum

"The U.S. space shuttle fleet is set for retirement following the launch of Atlantis, scheduled for mid-July. In all, the fleet will have flown 135 missions, the first in 1981, but there were many more on the drawing board. With scrubbed missions that included daring rescues, in-orbit satellite snatches, and dangerous explosives, you can see why some of these didn't make the cut. But just imagine if they had."

Video: High Definition Onboard Views From Space Shuttle STS-134 Launch

"These new, crystal clear high-definition videos shot from the Endeavour's Solid Rocket Boosters provide a stunning view of what it is like to launch into space."

Aerial Photos of Endeavour's Launch

"Photographed from a shuttle training aircraft, space shuttle Endeavour and its six-member STS-134 crew head toward Earth orbit and rendezvous with the International Space Station."

NASA Sets News Conference With Shuttle And Space Station Crews

"The nine crew members aboard space shuttle Endeavour and the International Space Station will hold a news conference starting at 5:42 a.m. EDT on Thursday, May 26. Reporters may ask questions in person from NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Kennedy Space Center in Florida and agency headquarters in Washington."

Keith's note: Less than 24 hours notice about this crew presser (how many weeks have they known about this?) and at 5:42 am EDT? That's 4:42 am in Houston and 2:42 am on the west coast. I guess there is not a lot of interest in having U.S. media participate - or be awake when doing so ... and then NASA complains when things like this don't get adequate (or quality) media coverage? Gee, I wonder why.

Keith's note: To be fair the crew is more or less working overnight U.S. time. But the ISS crew is not - you can see it in the daily schedules. And the ISS/Shuttle complex is rather large i.e.

NASA Announces STS-134 Wakeup Song Winners; Face In Space Totals (with video)

"NASA announced the winners of its "Original Song Contest" after six weeks of public voting. The songs will awaken the STS-134 astronauts aboard space shuttle Endeavour during their ongoing mission. "Sunrise Number 1" by Jorge Otero and the band Stormy Mondays from Oviedo, Spain, earned first place. Shuttle Commander Mark Kelly, Pilot Greg H. Johnson, Mission Specialists Mike Fincke, Drew Feustel, Greg Chamitoff and Roberto Vittori of the European Space Agency will hear the song at 5:56 p.m. EDT on May 31 - the day before the crew returns to Earth. "Sunrise Number 1" received 787,725 votes, or 49.8 percent of the total ballots."

NASA HQ Solicitation: Space Shuttle 30th Anniversary: The Space Philarmonic (sp)

"NASA/HQ has a requirement for an ensemble by The Space Philharmonic group to perform a symphonic concert in honor of the 50th Anniversary of Human Space Flight: The Kennedy Legacy scheduled to take place on May 25th, 2011."

NASA HQ Solicitation: The Kennedy Legacy: 50th Anniversary of U.S. Human Space Flight

"NASA/HQ has a requirement for a venue and associated services to host a free concert in honor of NASA's 50th Anniversary of U.S. Human Spaceflight: "The Kennedy Legacy" scheduled to take place on May 25th, 2011. NASA/HQ intends to purchase the items from John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts pursuant to FAR 13.106, for the acquisition of supplies or services determined to be reasonably available from only one source."

Keith's 11 May note: Of course, the only tickets available in advance for this exclusive, yet-to-be-announced event will probably only be available to VIPs, NASA employees and their families (that's the standard procedure). As for the cost of this exclusive concert? Who knows. NASA now takes 6+ months to respond to FOIA requests, so that is a waste of time. P.S. the operative word in this solicitation is actually spelled "Philharmonic".

This Kennedy Center event on 25 May 2011: NASA presents: Human Spaceflight: The Kennedy Legacy notes: "This is a FREE event; reserved seating tickets are required. Tickets will be distributed, two (2) per person in line, beginning at 5 p.m. in the Hall of Nations on the day of the performance. Please note that free parking isNOT available when picking up free tickets or attending free performances." But of course NASA will already have the lion's share of these tickets handed out in advance, thus forcing everyone else to drive into town, park (at their own expense) and then wait in line for hours for a chance to get tickets. Why not try doing this online? Nah. That's too 21st century. And will they webcast the event? Its not listed on the NASA TV schedule.

Keith's 23 May update: According to NASA PAO, this is mostly an employee-only event with tickets distributed to various divisions and directorates at NASA HQ. 1,000 or so tickets will be available to the public albeit at the last minute - you show up a few hours before the event for the chance to get a ticket. These restrictions come from the Kennedy Center - and the Kennedy Center is donating the use of their facilities. Media will be invited (short notice on that too) but will face limited recording time of the actual performance due to union rules - and those union rules for the musicians will not allow NASA to broadcast the event in any way. No word on what this event cost - yet. Too bad NASA could not have chosen an event that was more accesible to the rest of the agency's employees as well as the public who pays for all of these events. They have known about this event for weeks - still no public (official) mention.

Keith's 23 May update: The Kennedy Center has changed their website to read "This is a FREE event; reserved seating tickets are required, but have limited availability. Tickets are available through the Presenter only. Contact NASA Guest Operations, 202-358-1750 for more information. Please note that free parking is NOT available when picking up free tickets or attending free performances."

Alan Ladwig just posted this on Facebook: "NASA is sponsoring an event at the Kennedy Ctr, Wed, 5/25 to commemorate the 50th Anniver of Human Spaceflight & JFK's challenge to go to Moon. Event is at Concert Hall from 7:00 - 8:30 pm & features the Space Philharmonic Orchestra. The Center just turned over all the tickets they were going to distribute to the public so we have available seats. If interested let me know pronto."

Keith's 23 May update: NASA Honors Human Spaceflight Achievements at Kennedy Center Concert

"A limited number of tickets is available for the general public on a first-come, first-served basis. To attend the free event, please contact NASA Guest Operations at 202-358-1750. Tickets for those who RSVP will be available at NASA's Will Call tables, which will be staffed in front of the Concert Hall (in the Grand Foyer) from 5-6:45 p.m. Wednesday."

Photos: Lifting of Atlantis From Horizontal to Vertical in the KSC Vehicle Assembly Building

"This past Wednesday the orbiter Atlantis was lifted and mated to her external tank and solid rocket boosters in preparation for her final flight and the programs last shuttle flight. A tentative date of July 8th at approximately 11:40 am EDT has been set for the last ever shuttle launch."

Photos: Endeavour's On Orbit Ballet

"These views of space shuttle Endeavour was provided by an Expedition 27 crew member during a survey of the approaching STS-134 vehicle prior to docking with the International Space Station. As part of the survey and part of every mission's activities, Endeavour performed a back-flip for the rendezvous pitch maneuver (RPM). The image was photographed with a digital still camera, using a 400mm lens at a distance of about 600 feet (180 meters)."

Photos: Space Shuttle Atlantis Being Prepared for Mating

Preparations were made today to begin mating Space Shuttle Atlantis with its External Tank and Solid Rocket Boosters.

Photos: KSC Workers Gather To Wish Atlantis Well

"As Atlantis entered the VAB workers posed behind it with the banner "We're Behind You, Atlantis" and then a few of them pulled out what appeared to be a quilt with all the mission patches sewn on it."

One Last Rollover

Atlantis Leaves Orbiter Processing Facility #1 (with photos), SpaceRef

"The day after Space Shuttle Endeavour launched from the Kennedy Space Center the last orbiter to ever fly, Atlantis, was moved from the Orbiter Processing Facility #1 to the Vehicle Assembly Building for mating with her external tank."

Keith's note: Yes, that is indeed the steady, iconic voice of George Diller doing the countdown.

Images were taken at approximately 64,000 ft. More to follow. More information at Additional photos are online here at Twitpic.

Larger version of this image.

Endeavour's Final Launch Inspires Hands-on Public Engagement: High Altitude Balloon Mission

"The helium-filled balloon carrying the "Senatobia-1" payload will be launched from the vicinity of Gainesville, Florida. The expected balloon launch time is on Monday, 16 May between 7:30 to 7:45 am EDT. This will allow the balloon and its payload to be in position at an altitude of approximately 100,000 feet for Endeavour's supersonic transit of the stratosphere beginning with a planned liftoff at 8:56 am EDT. If there is a delay in the launch of Endeavour the Quest for Stars team is ready to try again - several times - on subsequent days."

Keith's note: If all goes according to plan we will have live video from the balloon as Senatobia-1 ascends to catch Endeavour. Video feeds and tracking links here. Launch site feed begins at 7:15 am EDT. This is the projected flight path.

Keith's note: On board today are photos of Baruch Blumberg and Bob Clark. Launch is now planned for 7:39 am EDT.

Keith's note: The balloon has been launched. Track its progresss live at or

Keith's note: The balloon burst at 95,000 ft - very close to target altitude of 100,000 ft - and the payload is now parachuting nominally toward landing.

Farewell, my space shuttle, Leroy Chiao, CNN

"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But hard as they tried, nobody else ever got it right. The development of the Soviet Buran shuttle, which flew only once and without a crew, nearly brought the Soviet program to its knees. The French Hermes and Japanese Hope spaceplane designs never lifted off of their respective drawing boards. Our soon-to-be-scuttled shuttle stands as a symbol of American ingenuity, know-how, persistence and greatness. No other vehicle past, present or currently contemplated for the future even comes close to her capability and elegant beauty."

NASA Shuttle MMT Green Lights Continuing Endeavour Countdown

"The shuttle Mission Management Team is giving space shuttle Endeavour's launch team the green light to continue the countdown for Monday's 8:56 a.m. EDT liftoff. The MMT met this afternoon at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida and reviewed how launch preparations for Endeavour's STS-134 mission are progressing. During a news conference on NASA Television following the MMT, Shuttle Launch Director Mike Leinbach said the countdown is going extremely well and the team is ready to go."

Keith's note: The Crew of Space Shuttle Discovery will be featured on West Wing Week (from the White House) today at 2:30 pm EDT. Watch here. They are also featured in last week's edition here.

Conrad Foundation: Student-developed 'STEM Bar' to fly aboard Endeavour on STS-134

"High school entrepreneurs Mikayla and Shannon Diesch, winners of the 2010 Conrad Foundation Spirit of Innovation Awards, will be at the launch of STS-134 as they watch Endeavour journey to the International Space Station with their newly developed STEM Bar aboard. Since winning the 2010 competition, the Diesch sisters have continued to develop the nutrition bar concept for use as a tool to inspire their peers to study science, technology engineering and math and seek careers in aerospace. Team AM Rocks including team members, Ethan Rutherford, Naomi Joseph and the Diesch sisters, created Solar Flare: the Star bar and won the 2010 Spirit of Innovation Awards. This concept was the catalyst for the development of the STEM bar, which is launching on Endeavour Monday."

STS-134 NET 16 May

NASA STS-134 Update: Endeavour Launch No Earlier Than Monday, May 16

"NASA managers met Friday afternoon and determined space shuttle Endeavour will launch no earlier than Monday, May 16 at 8:56 a.m. EDT. This weekend, technicians will continue to repair and retest electrical circuitry that caused a postponement of Endeavour's April 29 launch attempt. NASA will air a news conference Monday at 3 p.m., to discuss the status of the work."



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This page is an archive of entries in the Shuttle News category from May 2011.

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