Friday, February 08, 2008

Space Update III

Space Shuttle Atlantis Lifts Off

Yesterday, the Space Shuttle Atlantis lifted off without a hitch under partly cloudy skys. The mission, STS 122, is carrying the Columbus laboratory to the International Space Station (ISS). On the schedule for today, shuttle astronauts will be carrying out the heat shield inspection that has become a routine part of mission operations since shuttles returned to flight after the loss of Columbia. While chunks of insulating foam were seen breaking off from the orange external fuel tank during launch, it is believed that nothing of signifcance struck the shuttle.

They will arrive at the ISS on Saturday and are expected to dock around noon Eastern Time. Columbus is planned to be attached to the station on Sunday with spacewalks following in the week ahead to get all of its systems on line. The shuttle is expected to return on Presidents Day, 18 Feb. Coverage of STS 122

Scaled Appeals Fines

Scaled Composites, the company building SpaceShipTwo (SS2) and White Knight Two, will be appealing $28,870 of fines to the California Department of Industrial Relations imposed after the fatal explosion of a test engine for SS2 that killed three employees.

Scaled Composites has been cooperating through the investigation, and this is one of those unforseen but necessary hurdles that will occur over the next couple of decades as commercial spaceflight is being developed. While the deaths represent the first in the age of private spaceflight, they will be by no means the last and how Scaled handles this will determine how future incidents are handled.

I personally have no reason to believe that the appeal will result in a negative outcome, it is just merely a stage in the process. Story

Lunar Eclipse on 20 February

This will be a total lunar eclipse visible to much of the Western Hemisphere, with North and South America in prime viewing positions. The total phase of the eclipse will start at about 10 PM EST. I'll post more information as the day approaches.


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