The latest edition of “This Week In Space” is now available – give us a watch.
Hello and Welcome. we begin this week with shuttle manifest destiny…and the movable feast that the last days of STS launching has become. It now appears the next shuttle flight – Discovery flying the STS-133 mission – will launch on October 29, and the STS-134 flight of Endeavour moves to February 28 of next year. An official announcement is expected on July 1st. The reason for the delay: scientists need some time to put the finishing touches on the final shuttle payload to the station – the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a particle physics experiment. But we use the word final with some caution – as NASA has not ruled out an encore mission for Atlantis. Look for a decision on that in August.
Of course there are a lot of people out there who would like to see the shuttles fly on…a new and familiar name is now on the list – Senator John Glenn – the first American to orbit the earth, a bonafide hero and a shuttle veteran as well – released a statement on Obama’s plans for NASA this week. He repeated what he has often said – that the shuttle should stay just a little bit longer…he does support keeping the station going past 2015 – and he agrees a moon base is not in the cards now – as for the “smaller, less experienced companies” vying to fly cargo – and eventually people – to the space station should be said they should only be phased in only “after they demonstrate a high degree of competency and reliability, particularly with regard to safety concerns.”
In Hawthorne California – at SpaceX headquarters they would beg to differ – with all due respect to the Senator. It’s been a few weeks now since their successful first launch of their Falcon 9 rocket – and they are poring through the data – trying to better understand why they had a late in the count scrub before the launch, why the second stage rolled in orbit – and why they were unable to recover the first stage. Details on all of that and much more are in the full interview I had via Skype with SpaceX’s Ken Bowersox the other day.
Some fire and smoke from an Ariane 5 rocket. It blasted off from Guyana on Saturday. The payload – two satellites. Arabsat-5A will provide telecom and broadband services to Africa and the Middle East. The South Korean COMS satellite includes weather observation, ocean surveillance, and telecom payloads. All eyes will be on Arianespace later this year as they begin launch operations using the Soyuz and new Vega rockets.