Jason Davis' blogs from 2015
Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/03/30 10:29 CDT
The team behind The Planetary Society’s LightSail spacecraft is kicking off a series of simulations to ensure the spacecraft’s ground systems are ready for launch.
This week in Houston, Texas, scientists are gathering to discuss where humans should first land and explore on the surface of Mars.
With less than two weeks before launch, here's an in-depth look at whether the LightSail test mission's attitude control system bug will keep us from seeing pretty pictures taken by the spacecraft.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has released four images of the company's Falcon 9 rocket impacting its drone ship landing pad in the Atlantic Ocean.
Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/11/19 01:14 CST
United Launch Alliance plans to include a CubeSat carrier on nearly every one of its Atlas V and Vulcan rockets starting in 2017, the company announced today.
ULA revealed its new Vulcan rocket system today, an Atlas and Delta mashup the company says will increase power, lower costs and broaden mission capabilities.
SpaceX is gearing up for a second attempt to land the spent first stage of a Falcon 9 rocket on a ship in the Atlantic Ocean.
A cache of more than 8,400 unedited, high-resolution photos taken by Apollo astronauts during trips to the moon is now available for viewing and download on Flickr.
Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/09/02 12:18 CDT
A ten-day International Space Station taxi flight is underway following the Wednesday liftoff of a three-person crew from Kazahkstan.
Telerobotics—with humans nearby—just might be the perfect unification of human and robotic spaceflight. Two groups at NASA and ESA are working to make this fledgling technology commonplace.
A project to digitize more than 90,000 images taken by NASA’s five Surveyor spacecraft in the 1960s has revealed early hints of never-before-seen treasures captured by America’s first robotic lunar landers.
Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/12/08 09:23 CST
SpaceX is preparing to return its Falcon rocket to service after the loss of a mission in June 2015. A backlog of payloads, including an ISS-bound Dragon cargo craft, await.
SpaceX will attempt to launch a Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station and land a used Falcon 9 rocket stage on an uncrewed spaceport in the Atlantic Ocean.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket broke apart over the Atlantic Ocean during today's flight to the International Space Station.
SpaceX returned its Falcon 9 rocket to flight with flair tonight, successfully deploying 11 communications satellites after returning the rocket's first stage to Cape Canaveral for an upright landing.
Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/11/11 12:21 CST
SpaceX has completed development testing on its SuperDraco propulsion system, used to propel the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft away from a Falcon rocket in the event of a launch failure.
Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/12/21 12:05 CST
NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Tim Kopra successfully completed a spacewalk to free a stuck Mobile Transporter cart outside the International Space Station.
NASA's Space Launch System officially shed the core stage's white paint job in favor of the vehicle's natural, orange-colored insulation.
NASA completed the sixth and next-to-last test firing of its RS-25 engine Thursday in Mississippi. Four RS-25 engines power the Space Launch System core stage.
It’s official: The sails are out. This afternoon, LightSail mission controllers downlinked a partial image of the spacecraft’s solar sails in space.
An International Space Station-bound cargo craft is spinning out of control in Earth orbit following an afternoon launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
The future of the International Space Station is a little clearer this week, following a statement from Russia supporting an extension of the orbiting complex through 2024.
A report released by NASA’s Office of Inspector General warns that the agency may be hard-pressed to have its Kennedy Space Center launch facilities ready by November 2018.
The GAO says NASA is generally doing a good job with cost and schedule estimates for SLS, its new heavy lift rocket. But NASA is also running short on schedule margin as it works to have SLS ready for flight by November 2018.
Following a routine two-day voyage, SpaceX's Dragon capsule pulled in to port at the International Space Station. Meanwhile, tweets from CEO Elon Musk give clues on what happened at sea.
Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/12/18 12:07 CST
A rail-riding cart weighing nearly a metric ton jammed while moving along the International Space Station's exterior yesterday, prompting ground controllers in Houston to prepare for an unscheduled spacewalk.
It took 16 years and five spacecraft designs to get a mission to Pluto. The Planetary Society was there through it all, always striving to help NASA push back our solar system's frontier.
Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/12/02 05:04 CST
Orbital ATK is returning its Cygnus cargo spacecraft to service on Thursday. This time, the ride to orbit will be a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.
A look ahead to see what's in store for the astronauts and cosmonauts aboard humanity's orbital outpost.
The European Space Agency's Mars Express spacecraft captured a sweeping view of Mars' south pole, along with a region extending northward to Hellas Basin.
With the team still trying to download an image from LightSail's second camera, Emily Lakdawalla processed a partial image from the first camera that contains a slice of Earth.
At Kennedy Space Center, NASA's ground systems program prepares for the first flight of the Space Launch System in 2018.
Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/12/01 06:04 CST
The Orion European Service Module test article has arrived at NASA Glenn Research Center's Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio, where it's being prepared for acoustic and vibration testing.
Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/09/16 03:03 CDT
NASA's Orion spacecraft has officially moved from preliminary design to fabrication, but the agency says the first crewed flight of the vehicle could slip two years, from 2021 to 2023.
Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/03/25 10:13 CDT
This Friday, astronaut Scott Kelly and cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko will embark for a one-year mission aboard the International Space Station.
Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/11/04 11:47 CST
An analysis by The Planetary Society shows that in the post-space shuttle era, NASA astronauts spend roughly 33 percent less time aboard the International Space Station than their Russian counterparts.
SpaceX is gearing up for its seventh paid cargo run to the International Space Station, and the third attempt to catch the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket on a drone ship in the ocean.
A key review of NASA’s Space Launch System did not uncover any major problems with the rocket's design, officials said at Stennis Space Center near Gulfport, Mississippi.
Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/10/14 05:46 CDT
NASA-sponsored small satellites will soon have dedicated rides to space, thanks to a new, light-duty rocket program called Venture Class Launch Services, or VCLS.
NASA released a much-anticipated strategy document outlining the agency's next steps for getting humans to Mars, but the report lacks details. What should we make of it?
NASA placed its first official order for a SpaceX Crew Dragon to carry astronauts to the International Space Station, the agency announced Friday.
Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/01/09 11:59 CST
NASA completed a 500-second test firing of the RS-25 engine, which will power the core stage of the Space Launch System.
NASA will set the Space Launch System's inaugural flight date at the end of this year, according to the agency's 2016 budget request, which was released on Monday.
A blast of fire and smoke lit up the hills of Promontory, Utah this morning as NASA and Orbital ATK completed a test firing of a Space Launch System solid rocket booster.
NASA has decided to pluck a small boulder off a large asteroid, instead of bagging an entire asteroid outright, the agency announced Wednesday.
The LightSail team held a workshop in Pasadena to discuss lessons learned from the test mission and plan for the second flight in 2016.
The Planetary Society’s LightSail test mission successfully completed its primary objective of deploying a solar sail in low-Earth orbit.
LightSail didn’t send home pretty pictures of Earth today, but it did relay promising signs that its deployable solar panels swung successfully out into space.
The LightSail team continues to prepare for the spacecraft's May test flight with a series of readiness simulations that mimic on-orbit operations.
Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/12/17 11:52 CST
On Monday, LightSail engineers and mission managers met at The Planetary Society's Pasadena, California headquarters to prepare for a rigorous suite of spacecraft tests that are expected to begin in January.
The Planetary Society’s LightSail spacecraft has been nominated for the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Small Satellite Technical Committee Mission of the Year 2015 award.
Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/05/18 04:01 CDT
It’s launch week in Cape Canaveral, Florida, where The Planetary Society’s LightSail spacecraft is buttoned up for flight aboard an Atlas V rocket. Liftoff is scheduled Wednesday sometime between 10:45 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. EDT.
LightSail is back in business, following the second extended outage of the test spacecraft’s mission. The CubeSat checked in at 2:21 p.m. EDT Saturday.
LightSail Mission Managers have decided to split the spacecraft’s sail deployment sequence into two segments, following an extended checkout period that wrapped up Tuesday.
Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/10/26 05:03 CDT
At Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo engineers loaded a P-POD replica into the partially assembled frame of the Prox-1 spacecraft. The meetup was a fit check to make sure the two pieces of hardware fit together as designed.
A cadre of CubeSats including The Planetary Society’s LightSail spacecraft completed a cross-country journey to Florida, where they await installation aboard an Atlas V rocket.
Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/10/16 11:25 CDT
On opposite sides of the United States, teams are starting the testing process to prepare two spacecraft for a one-of-a-kind in-space rendezvous.
The first of The Planetary Society’s two LightSail spacecraft is now in space following a late morning launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
This May, the first of The Planetary Society's two member-funded LightSail spacecraft is slated to hitch a ride to space for a test flight aboard an Atlas V rocket.
The six crew members aboard the International Space Station will have to go without a scheduled delivery of food, supplies and fuel.
Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/03/10 02:59 CDT
With NASA and Orbital ATK preparing for an important test tomorrow in Utah, an SLS engineer describes the inner workings of the vehicle's new solid rocket boosters.
A SpaceX Crew Dragon rocketed into the sky under its own power this morning, completing a critical milestone necessary to certify the spacecraft for crewed flights in 2017.
Following back-to-back space station resupply failures, a Russian Progress vehicle pulled into port this morning at the International Space Station.
Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/11/06 11:53 CST
November is shaping up to be a busy month for Orion and Space Launch System hardware. A human-rated flight engine is in the test stand at Stennis Space Center, and a version of Orion's service module is getting ready to cross the Atlantic.
Pictures of The Planetary Society’s LightSail spacecraft rollout to the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Launch Complex 41.
For less than $50, you can download images from NOAA satellites using your laptop and a small radio antenna.
The Planetary Society's LightSail spacecraft is now entering its second week of silence.
A FOIA request offers insight into NASA's planetary science extended mission review process, which seems, at best, confusing, and at worst—with adjectival ratings like “Very Good/Good”—arbitrary.
A jumbled JPG never looked so pretty. This afternoon, LightSail sent home pieces of two images taken by one of the spacecraft's onboard cameras.
Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/12/11 10:10 CST
Three International Space Station crewmembers are safely back on Earth following a post-sunset Soyuz touchdown in Kazakhstan.
An asteroid or comet headed for Earth is the only large-scale natural disaster we can prevent. Working together to fund our Shoemaker NEO Grants for astronomers, we can help save the world.