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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!

SpaceX CRS-7 disintegrates during ascent.

The Falcon 9 rocket that launched the CRS-7 resupply mission to the International Space Station suffered an anomaly 2 minutes and 19 seconds into the flight. 

Air Force range safety officers destroyed the vehicle 2 minutes and 27 minutes into the flight. Currently, there is no known cause for the anomaly, though SpaceX, NASA, and Air Force officials are forming an investigation team.

UPDATE: Range Safety officers sent the destruct command to the vehicle 70 seconds after disintegration began. The Falcon 9′s own flight computer onboard activated the self-destruct command.

So, what now (bear with me)?

Since the failure of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 on June 28th, we’re all wondering what the next step is for this groundbreaking space travel company.

First off, it’s no secret that this is pretty disastrous. There’s a *LOT* of complicated politics at play with SpaceX, their competition, Congress and the President. The long story short is that a future of space exploration where the cost to get to space is accessible for people in the middle class depends almost entirely on SpaceX’s success (I’m talking in the near term –> our lifetimes).

So what’s going on behind the scenes right now?

SpaceX engineers and scientists are sifting through computer code, known as telemetry.

Telemetry is essentially just the wireless data sent by spacecraft that allow us to monitor things like location and status of the technical systems.

This data is coming back in the language of computers: binary.

The data the SpaceX engineers are sifting through must look like this:

01010011 01110000 01100001 01100011 01100101 01011000 00100000 01110010 01101111 01100011 01101011 01110011 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01101111 01110100 01101000 01100101 01110010 01110011 00100000 01100011 01100001 01101110 00100000 01100111 01101111 00100000 01100110 01110101 01100011 01101011 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 01101101 01110011 01100101 01101100 01110110 01100101 01110011 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 01111001 00100000 01110111 01101001 01101100 01101100 00100000 01100011 01101000 01100001 01101110 01100111 01100101 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01110111 01101111 01110010 01101100 01100100 

Looks like a mess huh? It is. It’s the only language these systems speak though. The SpaceX engineers are decoding these last signals from the spacecraft using a program called a hex editor.

Basically, that huge mess you see above is being turned into something more readable to humans. Often binary gets separated every couple of digits so that it would turn this:

01010011 01110000 01100001 01100011 01100101 01011000

into this:

S P A C E X

This is far more easy to read that having to sift through hundreds of millions of 0′s and 1′s. Embedded in each 0 and 1 though is crucial information, each representing a component within the spacecraft’s system.

There’s good news…

The silver lining in this event is that it’s been discovered that the explosion happened around 139 seconds into the flight.

They were still receiving telemetry from the Dragon capsule after the explosion.

The Dragon spacecraft survived the explosion.

Look at the gif above. You might notice the shadow of something flying away from the explosion after as the clock says 2:22 (the clock’s in the upper-right). This shadow is likely from the Dragon spacecraft.

If there had been astronauts aboard, they would’ve been safe. That’s right. The silver lining is that SpaceX’s engineering is so profoundly efficient that even amidst a launch explosion and a failure to eject from the rocket, the spacecraft (and therefore the astronauts) would be safe.

(Image credit: SpaceX)

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Crew Dragon pad abort test - from the capsule’s perspective.

SpaceX has released incredible onboard footage from the crew Dragon pad abort test earlier this month.

Three cameras were used to compile the video; one mounted on the north-facing side of the capsule, just above a SuperDraco engine, one looking upwards just below the parachute compartment, and one looking sideways to the right of the trunk/capsule umbilical connector.

Of particular interest to see is the structure of the forward portion of the trunk compartment and the structural connections to the capsule.

Additionally, the cameras also recorded sound during the 90 second test. The full video can be seen here.

Click here for our pad abort coverage.

SpaceX Rocket Explodes Minutes After Launch

SpaceX’s latest mission to resupply the International Space Station ended in disaster earlier today, as the unmanned Falcon 9 rocket broke up just two minutes after launch.

The cause of the failure has yet to be established. The intitial take-off seemed to progress correctly and no obvious issues were detected by onlookers - until it started to break into pieces, of course.

This is SpaceX’s 19th launch, and its first failure.

Source: http://www.iflscience.com/physics/spacex-rocket-explodes-minutes-after-launch 
Video of the explosion: http://www.space.com/29790-explosion-spacex-crs-7-mission-ends-in-disaster-video.html