Marc Boucher: November 2010 Archives

Despite Boise's loss, non-AQs belong, ESPN

"Maybe you saw the fireball over the Sierra Mountains. If you were on the East Coast, it happened at about 1:52 a.m. on Saturday and in full view of the locals and whomever else stayed up to watch Nevada At Night on ESPN.

We can now confirm that the flames came from Boise State's heat tiles as the Broncos re-entered the earth's atmosphere. Parachutes did not deploy on the BSU capsule."

Marc's note: I love football as anyone who knows me can attest to but imagine my shock when reading the first two paragraphs of this story. What was the writer thinking, seriously? It was more than distasteful, it is extremely disrespectful. Seven astronauts lost their lives on Columbia on February 1, 2003. To my knowledge no one died playing the football game last night. Sorry folks, I'm not one to rant, but the ESPN writer of this story, Gene Wojciechowsk (GenoEspn on Twitter), needs to apologize in my opinion.

Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee Urges Restart of Pu-238 Production, American Institute of Physics

"On November 18, the Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee sent a letter regarding Pu-238 production to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Chairman John Rockefeller (D-WV), House Science and Technology Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN), Energy Undersecretary for Science Steven Koonin, Office of Science Director William Brinkman, and NASA Associate Administrator Edward Weiler. Expressing concern that a further delay in Pu-238 production will hinder outer solar system planetary missions and future astrophysics missions, the letter urges "prompt action be taken and appropriate budgetary resources be identified through cooperative coordination between DOE, NASA, and, if applicable, other federal agencies (i.e., NNSA, Dept. Homeland Security), to enable the Pu-238 project production restart for deep space mission applications."

Previous related story: AAS email: Plutonium 238 Production: An Ongoing Issue for Washington, American Astronomical Society

"It is not often that a $30M issue in an appropriations bill gets a lot of attention. In fact, it is not uncommon to hear Senate staff state that they have $100M round off errors, but recent language in Congressional legislation appropriating funds of this magnitude can have a direct, negative impact on the long-term success of US planetary science and, potentially, creative approaches to power generation for future astrophysics missions, earth observation missions and other research activities in space."

NASA Sets Shuttle Discovery's Launch For No Earlier Than Dec. 17, NASA

"The Program Requirements Control Board (PRCB) reviewed on Wednesday repairs and engineering evaluations associated with cracks on two 21-foot-long, U-shaped aluminum brackets, called stringers, on the shuttle's external tank. Managers decided the analysis and tests required to launch Discovery safely are not complete. The work will continue through next week."

Robonauts at KSC

Robots Invade Kennedy Space Center, Ken Kremer for SpaceRef

"Robots have invaded the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) as NASA prepares to launch Space Shuttle Discovery on the STS-133 assembly mission to the International Space Station (ISS). But fear not, these robots are human made and friendly to earthlings - at least for now."

Space Shuttle Discovery Launch Postponed to no Earlier than November 30, SpaceRef

"NASA has decided to postpone the launch of Discovery to no earlier than November 30. This is a result of the hydrogen leak that occurred early in tanking of the shuttle external tank. It turns out there also was a crack in the foam of the external tank."

Keith's note: There are lots of NASA planes headed back to JSC and Stennis/MAF right now (see FlightAware)

Discovery GO for Launch Weather Looking GoodNASA Gives GO for Launch of Discovery Today, SpaceRef

"After a stormy day Thursday, Friday is looking like a great day to launch. There is a 70% chance of launch with the only concern potential wind gusts at launch time. At this time NASA is currently filling the external tank with its flight load of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellants."

Marc's Update 8:22 am EDT: NASA Managers have made the decision to SCRUB the launch today due to a hydrogen leak at the ground umbilical carrier. This issue has happened before as recently as STS-127.

Marc's Update 8:47 am EDT: We're looking at a minimum 72 hour turnaround now. This means if they can fix the issue and if the Orbiter team can extend the launch window then Monday might see a launch.

Marc's Update 12:50 pm EDT: NASA managers have decided to postpone the next launch attempt for space shuttle Discovery to no earlier than Nov. 30 at 4:05 a.m. EST.

Discovery Will Attempt to Launch Thursday Though Weather Might Force Another Delay, SpaceRef

"Wednesday afternoon NASA's Mission Management Team met at 2:45 pm EDT to review the main engine #3 backup controller issue which caused a day's delay in the launch of space shuttle Discovery. After the meeting a GO was given to attempt a launch Thursday."

Marc's UPDATE 6:15 am EDT: SCRUB - NASA will not launch Discovery due to the weather conditions. Low cloud cover, expected ongoing rain have forced a 24 hour delay. Mission managers will reconvene tomorrow at 5:00 am EDT to discuss the weather for Friday's launch. Friday is looking better but expected high winds could be a problem. You can follow updates on the NASAWatch or SpaceRef Twitter accounts as events happen. launch on Friday would be at 3:04 pm EDT.

Discovery Still on Track for Wednesday Afternoon Launch, SpaceRef

"Although NASA had to work a couple of issues last night, at this point there are no technical constraints that would preclude a launch tomorrow afternoon. The weather outlook is still favorable with only a 30% chance of weather violation.

The first issue came up last night was a faulty regulator on the launch pad nitrogen purge system which was repaired. Early this morning though during engine check-outs, the engine 3 backup engine controller did not come up as expected. The problem was narrowed down to a circuit breaker or switch. Transient contamination was narrowed down as the issue which sometimes happens according to Steve Payne, NASA test director. Recycling the breaker and switch solved the issue."

Marc 's Update: It seems that backup controller problem which NASA thought was fixed is still a problem. From the latest status update, "Engineers continue to analyze data that showed voltage irregularities and will meet this afternoon to review their data.". Managers are currently meeting to discuss the situation.

Marc 's 5:43 PM EDT Update: Launch has been scrubbed for a Wednesday launch. Electrical issues need to be addressed so launch is now set for Thursday at 3:29 PM EDT. However with a 70% chance of violating the constraints for launch due to weather, it would appear Friday is the more likely day for launch.

Mars Rovers Mission Using Cloud Computing, NASA

"The project team that built and operates the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity has become the first NASA space mission to use cloud computing for daily mission operations.

Cloud computing is a way to gain fast flexibility in computing ability by ordering capacity on demand -- as if from the clouds -- and paying only for what is used. NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Project moved to this strategy last week for the software and data that the rovers' flight team uses to develop daily plans for rover activities. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., which manages the project, gained confidence in cloud computing from experience with other uses of the technology, including public participation sites about Mars exploration."

Marc 's Note: Why isn't JPL using NASA's own Nebula Cloud Computing Platform?

No Technical Issues as NASA Prepares for Wednesday's Launch of Discovery, SpaceRef

"At today's briefing NASA managers indicated that there were no technical issues precluding Discovery from launching Wednesday afternoon at this time. After a weekend of repairs everything is proceeding smoothly with the countdown. Weather on the other hand could be an issue."


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This page is an archive of recent entries written by Marc Boucher in November 2010.

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