orbital sciences

There’s a rebellious little planetoid that orbits the Sun in the opposite direction of all the major objects in the solar system. Nobody is sure how ‘Niku’ acquired such an orbit, but the data suggests that “there’s more going on in the outer solar system than we’re fully aware of,” including the possibility of another orbital plane. Source


Astronaut Training Facility - The life of a NASA intern

It’s pretty cool to be a NASA intern, especially on days when you get to see some of the astronaut training areas. This particular area has full scale moch-ups of spacecraft as well as International Space Station modules that the astronauts train in. Astronauts were training in the Space Station modules on the day that I went so I wasn’t able to “get inside“ the Space Station, but I did get a look at NASA’s Orion spacecraft. Seen in the 5th image above is the Orion spacecraft - the only spacecraft able to take Humans to the Moon or Mars (SpaceX is currently building one as well, but only Orion has had a test flight into space).

It was very cool to see the Orion Capsule that astronauts train in because I am working on audio controls in the core flight software of the Orion spacecraft. Some of the software that I write will actually be used in space! I was also able to get into the Space Shuttle trainer, seen in the top 3 images (2 are on the top deck and one is in the cargo bay). The second to last image is outside of the Commercial Crew moch-ups and shows SpaceX, Orbital ATK, and Boeing developments.

p.s. thanks to all my followers for the support, I’ll make sure to keep you up to date about NASA stuff as well as space pics and info!

Here’s your far-out space science for the day. 

The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) is an X-Ray telescope that will study black holes, supernovae explosions, and other cosmic sources of nuclear energy. The huge deployable mast is used to create the long focal lengths necessary for X-Ray spectroscopy. On the far end of the boom are the grazing incidence mirrors (read: the lens) that focus the X-Rays onto the focal plane dectectors that are in the main body of the spacecraft. The spacecraft bus is currently being built and tested by Orbital Sciences

For more info, see:


BREAKING: Orbital Sciences’ Antares Rocket Explodes After Liftoff

Orbital Sciences’ Antares rocket exploded shortly after liftoff from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops Island, Virginia on Tuesday as part of a private cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station.

Aside from damage to the launch pad and the launch vehicle itself, no injuries have been reported, according to NASA TV. The launch occurred at 6:22 p.m. EDT, exploding just seconds after liftoff.

Watch NASA’s Press Conference Live At 9 P.M. EDT Here: http://www.penny4nasa.org/2014/10/28/orbital-science-antares-rocket-explodes-after-liftoff/


Marking the start of their second operational resupply mission to the International Space Station, Orbital Sciences successfully launched their Antares rocket this afternoon. Liftoff occurred at 12:52pm from pad 0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

The Cygnus spacecraft on the Orb 2 mission is named after astronaut Janice Voss, who passed away in 2012.

One of two companies contracted to resupply the orbiting outpost, Orbital Sciences is based in Dulles, Virginia, and has significant experience in the aerospace industry. Including building satellites, they also operate the Pegasus and Minotaur launch vehicles.


A HUGE ROCKET JUST EXPLODED…. and it’s going to be OK.  Just a reminder that space exploration isn’t easy.

Watch the video here: 


The rocket was an Antares Rocket designed by Orbital Sciences Corporation. It was being launched at Wallops Island, VA.  Next time you hear people talking about how much money NASA spends on rockets compared to “COTS” commercial rockets…. remember that there’s a reason. Man-rating something requires an incredible amount of research and development.  Unmanned systems are made with the same safety requirements as manned systems.  Just be aware that a rocket isn’t a rocket.  Also remember that with every set back like this we end up learning more stuff and getting Smarter.

Don’t allow people to argue that this kind of event is a waste of money. It’s not. Awesome science is difficult. Doing hard stuff means that sometimes you’ll make mistakes. Mistakes make you SMARTER in a very real way.

The latest OFFICIAL updates on the booster failure can be found here:


Of course, the first modification would be to ensure the supplies have a soft landing.

This would allow thousands of pounds of lifesaving supplies like medicine, food, and water to be delivered in about an hour to locations that cannot be easily reached by other forms of transportation. Recycling old Russian and US missiles would be considerably cheaper than starting from scratch.

Converted intercontinental ballistic missiles have already been used for peaceful reasons by companies like Orbital Sciences to launch satellites into orbit.

Read More.

Source: IFLS; Photo Credit: Missile Defense Agency/U.S. Department of Defense


An Orbital Sciences Antares rocket was rolled out and erected at its launch pad yesterday, July 9, 2014. The Orb-2 mission will be the company’s second operational resupply mission to the International Space Station with their Cygnus spacecraft, following a September test flight and December inaugural operational mission. Antares launches from pad 02 at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport adjacent to NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on the Virginia shore. 

I covered the September, 2013 Orb-D1 test flight during my time in the NASA Public Affairs office, which I made a few posts about here. A fellow co-worker caught my excitement shortly after launch, and the amusing photo can be viewed here. If you remember the space frog from the LADEE mission, you’ll get a kick out of that image of me.

Additional information from the company’s website about Orb-2 can be found here.


Orbital Sciences Cygnus OA-4 spacecraft in orbit. 

OA-4 Space Station Cargo Resupply Mission, initially scheduled to launch on Thurdsday, Dec 3, but the launch was scrubbed due to bad weather. Next launch window is on Friday, Dec. 4 at 5:33pm ET, you can watch it live on NASA TV Public - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HDh4uK9PvJU

Hope the weather will be better on Friday, if not, next planned attempts are on Saturday and Sunday.

On Sunday, September 29th, just days before the government shutdown would begin, Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus commercial spacecraft successfully linked up with the International Space Station, delivering over 1,300 pounds of gear and equipment to the crew aboard. Now several weeks later, Cygnus’ successful demonstration mission has come to a close as the spacecraft was released Tuesday morning by Canadarm2 and burned up in the Earth’s atmosphere Wednesday afternoon after reentry.

In a statement made by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, the Cygnus demonstration mission was described as an “overwhelming success.” As he continued, “We are delighted to now have two American companies able to resupply the station. U.S. innovation and inspiration have once again shown their great strength in the design and operation of a new generation of vehicles to carry cargo to our laboratory in space. Orbital’s success today is helping make NASA’s future exploration to farther destinations possible.”

Orbital Sciences’ first official commercial resupply is scheduled to launch in December of this year from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

With the government shutdown now over, write to Congress to let them know you support doubling funding for NASA: http://www.penny4nasa.org/take-action/

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