History UsefulNotes / NASA

20th Apr '16 9:49:00 PM StevieC
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* Apollo 13: the "successful failure." Several critical equipment failures meant that the craft could not land on the Moon, but due to the tenacity of both the astronauts in the craft and the controllers, astronauts, scientists and engineers on the ground, all three crew members made it back alive. Made into [[Film/{{Apollo13}} an excellent novel and movie]]. Jim Lovell, who went past the Moon twice on Apollo missions 8 and 13 but never got to land on it, deserves a special mention here.

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* Apollo 13: the "successful failure." Several critical equipment failures meant that the craft could not land on the Moon, but due to the tenacity of both the astronauts in the craft and the controllers, astronauts, scientists and engineers on the ground, all three crew members made it back alive. Made into [[Film/{{Apollo13}} an excellent novel and movie]]. Jim Lovell, who went past the Moon twice on Apollo missions 8 and 13 but never got to land on it, deserves a special mention here. Also, due to the nature of the emergency-abort maneuver's free-return-trajectory around the Moon, the 3 man crew of Apollo 13 hold the world-record of travelling a greater distance away from the center of the earth than any other humans in history.
16th Mar '16 6:58:27 PM KnightofNASA
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* The European Space Agency's ''Rosetta'' mission visited a comet in 2014. A small lander was sent to probe the icy worldlet but was unable to latch on to the very low gravity comet to orient itself sunward for powr for more than a few hours of study before its batteries expired.

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* The European Space Agency's ''Rosetta'' mission visited a comet in 2014. A small lander was sent to probe the icy worldlet but was unable to latch on to the very low gravity comet to orient itself sunward for powr for more than a few hours of study before its batteries expired.
15th Mar '16 6:51:52 AM Mitchz95
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** MAVEN, a probe from the Indian space agency, arrived successfully in Martian orbit in 2015 to study the Martian atmosphere. Notable for having its preparation halted due to the 2013 Government Shutdown just mere weeks before the launch window, which, if missed, meant that they would have had to wait two more years. An emergency measure was passed so MAVEN could launch on time. MAVEN was instrumental in confirming (with other data) that Mars still has flowing water, of a sort, and confirmed information about how Mars lost much of its atmosphere over the eons due to a very weak magnetosphere, allowing the solar wind to strip the planet.

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** MAVEN, a probe from the Indian space agency, MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN Mission) arrived successfully in Martian orbit in 2015 to study the Martian atmosphere. Notable for having its preparation halted due to the 2013 Government Shutdown just mere weeks before the launch window, which, if missed, meant that they would have had to wait two more years. An emergency measure was passed so MAVEN could launch on time. MAVEN was instrumental in confirming (with other data) that Mars still has flowing water, of a sort, and confirmed information about how Mars lost much of its atmosphere over the eons due to a very weak magnetosphere, allowing the solar wind to strip the planet.
15th Mar '16 6:39:55 AM Glasender
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** MAVEN, a probe on its way to Mars to study the Martian atmosphere. Notable for having its preparation halted due to the 2013 Government Shutdown just mere weeks before the launch window, which, if missed, meant that they would have had to wait two more years. An emergency measure was passed so MAVEN could launch on time.
** Not all of the Mars missions were successful. Two of the unmanned Mars probes--the Mars Climate Orbiter, and the Mars Polar Lander--have gone down in infamy as two of NASA's biggest failures. The Climate Orbiter burned up in the Martian atmosphere because of UnitConfusion: the output from one piece of Earth-based software was in pound-seconds and the program that used it as input expected [[TheMetricSystemIsHereToStay Newton-seconds]]. The Polar Lander crashed on landing because on-board software detected a jolt while extending its landing gear, interpreted this jolt incorrectly as the landing pads touching the ground, and shut off the engines.

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** MAVEN, a probe on its way to Mars from the Indian space agency, arrived successfully in Martian orbit in 2015 to study the Martian atmosphere. Notable for having its preparation halted due to the 2013 Government Shutdown just mere weeks before the launch window, which, if missed, meant that they would have had to wait two more years. An emergency measure was passed so MAVEN could launch on time. \n** Not all MAVEN was instrumental in confirming (with other data) that Mars still has flowing water, of a sort, and confirmed information about how Mars lost much of its atmosphere over the eons due to a very weak magnetosphere, allowing the solar wind to strip the planet.
** Historically, most
Mars missions were successful.unsuccessful--in fact, it's a larger graveyard of failed spacecraft than successful ones. Two of the unmanned Mars probes--the Mars Climate Orbiter, and the Mars Polar Lander--have gone down in infamy as two of NASA's biggest failures. The Climate Orbiter burned up in the Martian atmosphere because of UnitConfusion: the output from one piece of Earth-based software was in pound-seconds and the program that used it as input expected [[TheMetricSystemIsHereToStay Newton-seconds]]. The Polar Lander crashed on landing because on-board software detected a jolt while extending its landing gear, interpreted this jolt incorrectly as the landing pads touching the ground, and shut off the engines.
engines. Russia (as the Soviet Union) has had virtually no success in a soft-landing of any of its missions there.



** The ''New Horizons'' probe, launched in 2006, is the first to study dwarf planet Pluto and its moons when it arrived in July 2015; after its flyby, it can be potentially targeted to other nearby Kuiper Belt objects (three possible targets have been identified). The fifth spacecraft on a trajectory to leave the solar system, ''Horizons'' derives its velocity from a more powerful launch rocket and one gravitational assist from Jupiter. It carries the ashes of Clyde Tombaugh, the discoverer of Pluto. Cue jokes about how Tombaugh is powering up ''New Horizons'' by rolling in his box.
** The ''Dawn'' mission, a probe propelled by ion engines, to the asteroid Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres. The solar-powered ion engines have lower thrust than normal rockets but are very efficient and can fire continuously for long durations to achieve an overall greater velocity. Dawn is a hybrid of a fly-by craft and an orbiter, as its ion engines permit to enter orbit, then exit and head to a different location.

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** The ''New Horizons'' probe, launched in 2006, is the first to study dwarf planet Pluto and its moons when it arrived in July 2015; after its flyby, it can be potentially targeted to other nearby Kuiper Belt objects (three possible targets have been identified). The fifth spacecraft on a trajectory to leave the solar system, ''Horizons'' derives its velocity from a more powerful launch rocket and one gravitational assist from Jupiter. It carries the ashes of Clyde Tombaugh, the discoverer of Pluto. Cue jokes about how Tombaugh is powering up ''New Horizons'' by rolling in his box. \n Pluto's geology and appearance pleasantly surprised everyone, [[https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/newhorizons/images/index.html?id=367260 particularly the large heart-shaped ice formation]] that seemingly told its big blue brother, "I still love you, although you call me a dwarf."
** The ''Dawn'' mission, a probe propelled by ion engines, to the asteroid Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres.Ceres, also arrived in 2015. The solar-powered ion engines have lower thrust than normal rockets but are very efficient and can fire continuously for long durations to achieve an overall greater velocity. Dawn is a hybrid of a fly-by craft and an orbiter, as its ion engines permit to enter orbit, then exit and head to a different location. Ceres has strange "bright spots" in the center of some craters that, thanks to study, have been determined as a type of magnesium salts from a subsurface layer, perhaps from sediment from water or other ices.


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* The European Space Agency's ''Rosetta'' mission visited a comet in 2014. A small lander was sent to probe the icy worldlet but was unable to latch on to the very low gravity comet to orient itself sunward for powr for more than a few hours of study before its batteries expired.
15th Mar '16 6:19:50 AM Glasender
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Considering the bureaucratic mess involved in developing any kind of American-operated flight hardware for getting to the International Space Station (or beyond) in the post-Shuttle era, NASA has smartly hedged its bets by developing the ''Commercial Orbital Transportation Services'', or COTS, program to help support private companies to [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commercial_Orbital_Transportation_Services develop, build and launch cargo and man-rated launch vehicles and crew/cargo spacecraft for ISS]]. Many companies are participating. One company has a remarkable lead overall: UsefulNotes/{{SpaceX}}. Founded by Paypal billionaire Elon Musk, the company has developed its Falcon launch vehicles and its crew/cargo module, the Dragon, and is the first private company to launch a spacecraft to the ISS on May 22, 2012, and dock their vehicle to the ISS, returning the Dragon safely on May 31. They started operational flights in October 2012. The Dragon and Falcon are designed to almost-fully reusable, with extremely cool recovery/abort modes that may ultimately bring a [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUUnYgo1-lI&feature=relmfu manned Dragon spacecraft]] or [[http://spacex.com/multimedia/videos.php?id=1 expended Falcon boosters]] back to Earth ''via a powered rocket landing,'' Series/{{Space 1999}} style. Also on the first contract was Orbital ATK (formerly Orbital Sciences) and their Cygnus cargo spacecraft. Despite a catastrophic crash of the ORB-3 cargo rocket in October, 2014, they continue sending supplies thanks to an United Launch Alliance Atlas V launch vehicle until Orbital returns to flight on their Antares rocket by mid 2016.

A second contract of the program has added Cygnus and Dragon plus an unmanned winged vehicle back under NASA's fold: Sierra Nevada Corporation's [[http://www.sncspace.com/ProductLines/SpaceExplorationSystems Dream Chaser Cargo spacecraft.]] Dream Chaser Cargo adds a second supply vehicle, after Dragon, capable of safely returning unneeded or completed experiments from its glide back to Earth.

to:

Considering the bureaucratic mess involved in developing any kind of American-operated flight hardware for getting to the International Space Station (or beyond) in the post-Shuttle era, NASA has smartly hedged its bets by developing the ''Commercial Orbital Transportation Services'', or COTS, program to help support private companies to [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commercial_Orbital_Transportation_Services develop, build and launch cargo and man-rated launch vehicles and crew/cargo spacecraft for ISS]]. Many ISS]].

Three
companies are participating. have contracts. One company has a remarkable lead overall: UsefulNotes/{{SpaceX}}. Founded by Paypal billionaire Elon Musk, the company has developed its Falcon launch vehicles and its crew/cargo module, the Dragon, and is the first private company to launch a spacecraft to the ISS on May 22, 2012, and dock their vehicle to the ISS, returning the Dragon safely on May 31.ISS. They started operational flights in October 2012. The Dragon and Falcon are designed to almost-fully reusable, with extremely cool recovery/abort modes that may ultimately bring a [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUUnYgo1-lI&feature=relmfu manned Dragon spacecraft]] or [[http://spacex.com/multimedia/videos.php?id=1 expended Falcon boosters]] back to Earth ''via a powered rocket landing,'' Series/{{Space 1999}} style. Also on the first contract was Orbital ATK (formerly Orbital Sciences) and their Cygnus cargo spacecraft. Despite a catastrophic crash of the ORB-3 cargo rocket in October, 2014, they continue sending supplies thanks to an United Launch Alliance Atlas V launch vehicle until Orbital returns to flight on their Antares rocket by mid 2016.

A second contract of the program has added Cygnus and Dragon returning to supply the ISS, plus an unmanned winged vehicle back under NASA's fold: Sierra Nevada Corporation's [[http://www.sncspace.com/ProductLines/SpaceExplorationSystems Dream Chaser Cargo spacecraft.]] Dream Chaser Cargo adds a second supply vehicle, after Dragon, capable of safely returning unneeded or completed experiments from its glide back to Earth.
Earth. Unlike the Dragon and Cygnus (both use their own launch vehicle), the DC-Cargo will ride an Atlas V to the ISS.



To resolve this expensive and somewhat embarrassing hitchhiking, NASA introduced the ''Commercial Crew Program'', a contract that would choose one or two private companies to build and supply new human-rated, reusable spacecraft. Three companies competed for the contract: {{UsefulNotes/SpaceX}} (already handling cargo runs as well) with a new Dragon spacecraft, Sierra Nevada Corporation's Dream Chaser mini-shuttle, and the CST-100, a Boeing-led project with a capsule similar in appearance to the old Apollo and Orion spacecraft.

By September 2014, NASA chose SpaceX's Dragon V2 (called by NASA as the "Crew Dragon") and Boeing's CST-100 (now also known as the "Starliner" as the new low-earth-orbit manned ferries to the ISS, leaving the SNC Dream Chaser out as a manned vehicle (although SNC successfully picking up a COTS supply contract with a smaller unmanned variant noted above). The new ships start flying in earnest sometime in 2017.

to:

To resolve this expensive and somewhat embarrassing hitchhiking, NASA introduced the ''Commercial Crew Program'', a contract that would choose one or two private companies to build and supply new human-rated, reusable spacecraft. spacecraft with launch vehicles. Three companies competed for the contract: {{UsefulNotes/SpaceX}} (already handling cargo runs as well) with a new new, sleek Dragon spacecraft, Sierra Nevada Corporation's Dream Chaser mini-shuttle, and the CST-100, a Boeing-led project with a capsule similar in appearance to the old Apollo and Orion spacecraft.

By September 2014, NASA chose SpaceX's Dragon V2 (called by NASA as the "Crew Dragon") and Boeing's CST-100 (now also known as the "Starliner" "Starliner") as the new low-earth-orbit manned ferries to the ISS, leaving the SNC Dream Chaser out cut as a manned vehicle (although SNC successfully picking picked up a COTS supply contract 2 with a smaller unmanned cargo variant noted above). The new manned ships start flying in earnest sometime in 2017.
15th Mar '16 6:12:43 AM Glasender
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Considering the bureaucratic mess involved in developing any kind of American-operated flight hardware for getting to the International Space Station (or beyond) in the post-Shuttle era, NASA has smartly hedged its bets by developing the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services, or COTS, program to help support private companies to [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commercial_Orbital_Transportation_Services develop, build and launch cargo and man-rated launch vehicles and crew/cargo spacecraft for ISS]]. Many companies are participating. One company has a remarkable lead overall: UsefulNotes/{{SpaceX}}. Founded by Paypal billionaire Elon Musk, the company has developed its Falcon launch vehicles and its crew/cargo module, the Dragon, and is the first private company to launch a spacecraft to the ISS on May 22, 2012, and dock their vehicle to the ISS, returning the Dragon safely on May 31. They started operational flights in October 2012. The Dragon and Falcon are designed to almost-fully reusable, with extremely cool recovery/abort modes that may ultimately bring a [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUUnYgo1-lI&feature=relmfu manned Dragon spacecraft]] or [[http://spacex.com/multimedia/videos.php?id=1 expended Falcon boosters]] back to Earth ''via a powered rocket landing,'' Series/{{Space 1999}} style. Also on the first contract was Orbital ATK (formerly Orbital Sciences) and their Cygnus cargo spacecraft. Despite a catastrophic crash of the ORB-3 cargo rocket in October, 2014, they continue sending supplies thanks to an United Launch Alliance Atlas V launch vehicle until Orbital returns to flight on their Antares rocket by mid 2016.

to:

Considering the bureaucratic mess involved in developing any kind of American-operated flight hardware for getting to the International Space Station (or beyond) in the post-Shuttle era, NASA has smartly hedged its bets by developing the Commercial ''Commercial Orbital Transportation Services, Services'', or COTS, program to help support private companies to [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commercial_Orbital_Transportation_Services develop, build and launch cargo and man-rated launch vehicles and crew/cargo spacecraft for ISS]]. Many companies are participating. One company has a remarkable lead overall: UsefulNotes/{{SpaceX}}. Founded by Paypal billionaire Elon Musk, the company has developed its Falcon launch vehicles and its crew/cargo module, the Dragon, and is the first private company to launch a spacecraft to the ISS on May 22, 2012, and dock their vehicle to the ISS, returning the Dragon safely on May 31. They started operational flights in October 2012. The Dragon and Falcon are designed to almost-fully reusable, with extremely cool recovery/abort modes that may ultimately bring a [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUUnYgo1-lI&feature=relmfu manned Dragon spacecraft]] or [[http://spacex.com/multimedia/videos.php?id=1 expended Falcon boosters]] back to Earth ''via a powered rocket landing,'' Series/{{Space 1999}} style. Also on the first contract was Orbital ATK (formerly Orbital Sciences) and their Cygnus cargo spacecraft. Despite a catastrophic crash of the ORB-3 cargo rocket in October, 2014, they continue sending supplies thanks to an United Launch Alliance Atlas V launch vehicle until Orbital returns to flight on their Antares rocket by mid 2016.



To resolve this expensive and somewhat embarrassing hitchhiking, NASA introduced the Commercial Crew Program, a contract that would choose one or two private companies to build and supply new human-rated, reusable spacecraft. Three companies competed for the contract: {{UsefulNotes/SpaceX}} (already handling cargo runs as well) with a new Dragon spacecraft, Sierra Nevada Corporation's Dream Chaser mini-shuttle, and the CST-100, a Boeing-led project with a capsule similar in appearance to the old Apollo and Orion spacecraft.

By September 2014, NASA chose SpaceX's Dragon 2 and Boeing's CST-100 as the new low-earth-orbit manned ferries to the ISS, leaving the little Dream Chaser out as a manned vehicle (but successfully picking up a COTS supply contract with a smaller unmanned variant noted above). The new ships start flying in earnest sometime in 2017.

to:

To resolve this expensive and somewhat embarrassing hitchhiking, NASA introduced the Commercial ''Commercial Crew Program, Program'', a contract that would choose one or two private companies to build and supply new human-rated, reusable spacecraft. Three companies competed for the contract: {{UsefulNotes/SpaceX}} (already handling cargo runs as well) with a new Dragon spacecraft, Sierra Nevada Corporation's Dream Chaser mini-shuttle, and the CST-100, a Boeing-led project with a capsule similar in appearance to the old Apollo and Orion spacecraft.

By September 2014, NASA chose SpaceX's Dragon 2 V2 (called by NASA as the "Crew Dragon") and Boeing's CST-100 (now also known as the "Starliner" as the new low-earth-orbit manned ferries to the ISS, leaving the little SNC Dream Chaser out as a manned vehicle (but (although SNC successfully picking up a COTS supply contract with a smaller unmanned variant noted above). The new ships start flying in earnest sometime in 2017.
15th Mar '16 6:09:46 AM Glasender
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!!Apollo-Soyuz

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!!Apollo-Soyuz
!!Apollo-Soyuz Test Project



* ''Enterprise'' (after ''that [[Franchise/StarTrek Enterprise]]'', seriously![[note]]It was originally to be named ''Constitution'' in honor of the frigate launched in 1797[[/note]]). Built primarily for testing purposes, ''Enterprise'' is not actually capable of spaceflight (as it is missing several minor things like ''heat shielding'' or ''engines''), though there were originally plans to refit it for such.[[note]]''Enterprise'' was designed internally by superstructure as "OV-101." Rather than an overly costly refit of her for operational use, NASA decided that a structurally-identical frame used for early tests would be fitted for flight instead: "STA-099." This became "OV-099," otherwise known as '''''Challenger.''''' Imagine the MassOhCrap and fandom-mourning moments that the ''Franchise/StarTrek'' community would have doubly-suffered, on top of the general sadness of the tragedy, were it ''Enterprise'' that was destroyed that day.[[/note]]

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* ''Enterprise'' (after ''that [[Franchise/StarTrek Enterprise]]'', seriously![[note]]It was originally to be named ''Constitution'' in honor of the frigate launched in 1797[[/note]]). Built primarily for testing purposes, ''Enterprise'' is not was actually capable of spaceflight (as it is missing several minor things like ''heat shielding'' or ''engines''), though there were originally plans to refit it for such.[[note]]''Enterprise'' was designed internally by superstructure as "OV-101." Rather than an overly costly refit of her for operational use, NASA decided that a structurally-identical frame used for early tests would be fitted for flight instead: "STA-099." This became "OV-099," otherwise known as '''''Challenger.''''' Imagine the MassOhCrap and fandom-mourning moments that the ''Franchise/StarTrek'' community would have doubly-suffered, on top of the general sadness of the tragedy, were it ''Enterprise'' that was destroyed that day.[[/note]]



* ''Challenger'' (after the ship used for the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Challenger_expedition Challenger expedition]]). First launched in 1983. Sadly, ''Challenger'' is best known for its [[NeverLiveItDown destruction in 1986 just over a minute after liftoff.]]

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* ''Challenger'' (after the ship used for the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Challenger_expedition Challenger expedition]]). First launched in 1983. Carried the first American female astronaut, Sally Ride, into space. Sadly, ''Challenger'' is best known for its [[NeverLiveItDown destruction in 1986 just over a minute after liftoff.]]



To replace the Ares boosters as the primary launch vehicle for the Orion/Multi-Purpose Crew Module, NASA is currently working on a new booster called the Space Launch System. Reusing as much Space Shuttle hardware as possible, including the solid rocket boosters and a five-engine configuration of the RS-25 main engines used by the Space Shuttle, the SLS continues the Ares concept with all flight-tested hardware. It won't fly with a manned crew until at least 2018.

!!Commercial Orbital Transportation Services

Considering the bureaucratic mess involved in developing any kind of American-operated flight hardware for getting to the International Space Station (or beyond) in the post-Shuttle era, NASA has smartly hedged its bets by developing the COTS program to help support private companies to [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commercial_Orbital_Transportation_Services develop, build and launch cargo and man-rated launch vehicles and crew/cargo spacecraft for ISS]]. Many companies are participating. One company has a remarkable lead overall: UsefulNotes/{{SpaceX}}. Founded by Paypal billionaire Elon Musk, the company has developed its Falcon launch vehicles and its crew/cargo module, the Dragon, and is the first private company to launch a spacecraft to the ISS on May 22, 2012, and dock their vehicle to the ISS, returning the Dragon safely on May 31. They started operational flights in October 2012. The Dragon and Falcon are designed to almost-fully reusable, with extremely cool recovery/abort modes that may ultimately bring a [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUUnYgo1-lI&feature=relmfu manned Dragon spacecraft]] or [[http://spacex.com/multimedia/videos.php?id=1 expended Falcon boosters]] back to Earth ''via a powered rocket landing,'' Series/{{Space 1999}} style.

A few other companies are also making progress. Sierra Nevada Corporation's Dream Chaser mini-shuttle, which would take off using a human-rated version of an off-the-shelf commercial booster (most likely the Atlas V) and land on a fairly ordinary runway like the Shuttle, is on track to restoring NASA's ability to send up to seven people at a time to space (as they had in the days of the Shuttle); it's going sufficiently well that in 2014 the Europeans decided to buy in, although as NASA decided not to proceed with further funding that same year, its fate is rather in limbo. The CST-100, a Boeing-led project that looks a lot like a cut-down version of Orion but really has nothing to do with Orion, is also intended to be launched from an Atlas V, and is also making pretty sound headway. Also of note is Orbital Sciences' Cygnus unmanned resupply craft, the first US-based craft of its type (for a long time, there was only the Russian Progress, and then in the mid-2000s the Japanese and Europeans followed up with the H-II Transfer Vehicle and Automated Transfer Vehicle, respectively) and one of only three going forward (the ATV is being retired, although it will live on as the Supply Module for Orion). (Cygnus is also interesting because it is being launched on the kinda-sorta new launcher Antares--"kinda-sorta" because it was basically made by cutting off the upper part of a Ukrainian Zenit booster and strapping the first stage of an [[SuperiorFirepowerIntercontinentalBallisticAndCruiseMissiles LGM-118 Peacekeeper ICBM]] to the top.)

By September 2014, NASA chose SpaceX's Dragon 2 and Boeing's CST-100 as the new low-earth-orbit manned ferries to the ISS, leaving the little Dream Chaser out in the cold, for now. The new ships start flying in earnest sometime in 2017.

to:

To replace the Ares boosters as the primary launch vehicle for the Orion/Multi-Purpose Crew Module, NASA is currently working on a new booster called the Space Launch System. Reusing as much Space Shuttle hardware as possible, including the solid rocket boosters and a five-engine configuration of the RS-25 main engines used by the Space Shuttle, the SLS continues the Ares concept with all flight-tested hardware. It won't fly with a manned crew until at least 2018.

2020.

!!Commercial Orbital Transportation Services

Services and Commercial Crew Program

Considering the bureaucratic mess involved in developing any kind of American-operated flight hardware for getting to the International Space Station (or beyond) in the post-Shuttle era, NASA has smartly hedged its bets by developing the COTS Commercial Orbital Transportation Services, or COTS, program to help support private companies to [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commercial_Orbital_Transportation_Services develop, build and launch cargo and man-rated launch vehicles and crew/cargo spacecraft for ISS]]. Many companies are participating. One company has a remarkable lead overall: UsefulNotes/{{SpaceX}}. Founded by Paypal billionaire Elon Musk, the company has developed its Falcon launch vehicles and its crew/cargo module, the Dragon, and is the first private company to launch a spacecraft to the ISS on May 22, 2012, and dock their vehicle to the ISS, returning the Dragon safely on May 31. They started operational flights in October 2012. The Dragon and Falcon are designed to almost-fully reusable, with extremely cool recovery/abort modes that may ultimately bring a [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUUnYgo1-lI&feature=relmfu manned Dragon spacecraft]] or [[http://spacex.com/multimedia/videos.php?id=1 expended Falcon boosters]] back to Earth ''via a powered rocket landing,'' Series/{{Space 1999}} style. Also on the first contract was Orbital ATK (formerly Orbital Sciences) and their Cygnus cargo spacecraft. Despite a catastrophic crash of the ORB-3 cargo rocket in October, 2014, they continue sending supplies thanks to an United Launch Alliance Atlas V launch vehicle until Orbital returns to flight on their Antares rocket by mid 2016.

A second contract of the program has added Cygnus and Dragon plus an unmanned winged vehicle back under NASA's fold: Sierra Nevada Corporation's [[http://www.sncspace.com/ProductLines/SpaceExplorationSystems Dream Chaser Cargo spacecraft.]] Dream Chaser Cargo adds a second supply vehicle, after Dragon, capable of safely returning unneeded or completed experiments from its glide back to Earth.

Getting cargo to the ISS has been comparably easier than getting crew to the station. Until 2011 (with some downtime after the ''Columbia'' accident), the Space Shuttle program was the normal means for most Expedition crews to reach and return from the station. With the STS program's end in 2011, NASA rented seats on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft to reach the station.

To resolve this expensive and somewhat embarrassing hitchhiking, NASA introduced the Commercial Crew Program, a contract that would choose one or two private companies to build and supply new human-rated, reusable spacecraft. Three companies competed for the contract: {{UsefulNotes/SpaceX}} (already handling cargo runs as well) with a new Dragon spacecraft, Sierra Nevada Corporation's Dream Chaser mini-shuttle, and the CST-100, a Boeing-led project with a capsule similar in appearance to the old Apollo and Orion spacecraft.


A few other companies are also making progress. Sierra Nevada Corporation's Dream Chaser mini-shuttle, which would take off using a human-rated version of an off-the-shelf commercial booster (most likely the Atlas V) and land on a fairly ordinary runway like the Shuttle, is on track to restoring NASA's ability to send up to seven people at a time to space (as they had in the days of the Shuttle); it's going sufficiently well that in 2014 the Europeans decided to buy in, although as NASA decided not to proceed with further funding that same year, its fate is rather in limbo. The CST-100, a Boeing-led project that looks a lot like a cut-down version of Orion but really has nothing to do with Orion, is also intended to be launched from an Atlas V, and is also making pretty sound headway. Also of note is Orbital Sciences' Cygnus unmanned resupply craft, the first US-based craft of its type (for a long time, there was only the Russian Progress, and then in the mid-2000s the Japanese and Europeans followed up with the H-II Transfer Vehicle and Automated Transfer Vehicle, respectively) and one of only three going forward (the ATV is being retired, although it will live on as the Supply Module for Orion). (Cygnus is also interesting because it is being launched on the kinda-sorta new launcher Antares--"kinda-sorta" because it was basically made by cutting off the upper part of a Ukrainian Zenit booster and strapping the first stage of an [[SuperiorFirepowerIntercontinentalBallisticAndCruiseMissiles LGM-118 Peacekeeper ICBM]] to the top.)

By September 2014, NASA chose SpaceX's Dragon 2 and Boeing's CST-100 as the new low-earth-orbit manned ferries to the ISS, leaving the little Dream Chaser out in the cold, for now.as a manned vehicle (but successfully picking up a COTS supply contract with a smaller unmanned variant noted above). The new ships start flying in earnest sometime in 2017.
10th Jan '16 4:27:15 PM rjd1922
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Generally, a radio transmission addressed to "Houston" (especially from anyone in space) is a reference to NASA's Mission Control Center at Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in the Texan city of the same name. And no, [[CriticalResearchFailure JSC (or KSC) is not the only NASA center in existence, nor it is the NASA headquarters.]] In fact, there are '''nine''' main NASA facilities [[note]]Ames Research Center (in Mountain View, CA, not far from Google's HQ), Armstrong/Dryden Flight Research Center (at Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California), Glenn/Lewis Research Center (at the edge of UsefulNotes/{{Cleveland}}, OH), Goddard Space Flight Center (in Greenbelt, MD, northeast of DC), Johnson Space Center (Houston), Kennedy Space Center (Cape Canaveral, FL), Langley Research Center (Hampton, VA, next to Langley AFB), Marshall Space Flight Center (Huntsville, AL), Stennis Space Center (border of Louisiana and Mississippi between Biloxi and New Orleans), and a bunch of facilities they micromanage[[/note]] alongside Jet Propulsion Laboratory [[note]] a laboratory under the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) but largely funded through NASA, similar to the deal the University of California has with the Department of Energy to fund Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Berkeley[[/note]] in Pasadena, CA, Deep Space Network,[[note]] in Madrid, Spain; Canberra, Australia; Goldstone, California [[/note]] two other tracking stations, two abandoned tracking stations in Australia, the NASA infrared telescope at Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii, and finally, the NASA Headquarters, located in a fairly nondescript building around the corner of 300 E Street SW, UsefulNotes/WashingtonDC. [[note]] the most recent ones, anyways. Past locations includes the Little White House and the Cosmo Club. Future locations include the [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fcyNJwY9BY moon]]. [[/note]]

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Generally, a radio transmission addressed to "Houston" (especially from anyone in space) is a reference to NASA's Mission Control Center at Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in the Texan city of the same name. And no, [[CriticalResearchFailure [[SmallReferencePools JSC (or KSC) is not the only NASA center in existence, nor it is the NASA headquarters.]] In fact, there are '''nine''' main NASA facilities [[note]]Ames Research Center (in Mountain View, CA, not far from Google's HQ), Armstrong/Dryden Flight Research Center (at Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California), Glenn/Lewis Research Center (at the edge of UsefulNotes/{{Cleveland}}, OH), Goddard Space Flight Center (in Greenbelt, MD, northeast of DC), Johnson Space Center (Houston), Kennedy Space Center (Cape Canaveral, FL), Langley Research Center (Hampton, VA, next to Langley AFB), Marshall Space Flight Center (Huntsville, AL), Stennis Space Center (border of Louisiana and Mississippi between Biloxi and New Orleans), and a bunch of facilities they micromanage[[/note]] alongside Jet Propulsion Laboratory [[note]] a laboratory under the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) but largely funded through NASA, similar to the deal the University of California has with the Department of Energy to fund Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Berkeley[[/note]] in Pasadena, CA, Deep Space Network,[[note]] in Madrid, Spain; Canberra, Australia; Goldstone, California [[/note]] two other tracking stations, two abandoned tracking stations in Australia, the NASA infrared telescope at Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii, and finally, the NASA Headquarters, located in a fairly nondescript building around the corner of 300 E Street SW, UsefulNotes/WashingtonDC. [[note]] the most recent ones, anyways. Past locations includes the Little White House and the Cosmo Club. Future locations include the [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fcyNJwY9BY moon]]. [[/note]]
10th Jan '16 3:38:45 AM The_Glorious_SOB
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** [[Myth/EgyptianMythology OSIRIS]]-[[EverythingsBetterWithDinosaurs REx]], a sample return mission planned to be launch in 2016 to study an asteroid called [[Myth/EgyptianMythology Bennu]] and learn about their origins.

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** [[Myth/EgyptianMythology OSIRIS]]-[[EverythingsBetterWithDinosaurs REx]], a sample return mission planned to be launch launched in 2016 to study an asteroid called [[Myth/EgyptianMythology Bennu]] and learn about their origins.
10th Jan '16 3:16:03 AM The_Glorious_SOB
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A successful docking of a an American Apollo and a Soviet Soyuz spacecraft in space in 1975. Generally considered the formal end of UsefulNotes/TheSpaceRace and is significant for many reasons:

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A successful docking of a an American Apollo and a Soviet Soyuz spacecraft in space in 1975. Generally considered the formal end of UsefulNotes/TheSpaceRace and is significant for many reasons:
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http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/article_history.php?article=UsefulNotes.NASA