Uintas Mountains Milky Way

Image credit & copyright: Tracy Lee.

Happy Sunday everyone! It may be the beginning of the end for this weekend but this image from Tracy Lee should help make your transition into the week a little more pleasant. Shot in the Uinta Mountains area, about 100 miles East of Salt Lake City, Utah, this image is a perfect use of foreground, colors and of course, our home star city; the Milky Way Galaxy.

As Milky Way season has passed for those of us here in the Northern Hemisphere, shots like this have become impossible but that doesn’t mean that the adventure has to. The cold season has much to offer as you can still get out and focus on imaging startrails, constellations, deep sky objects etc but for me, most of the adventure lies in just being out all night. One of my favorite ways to pass the time is to head out and scope some new locations. Usually by spring I’ll have a small catalog of new areas I want to shoot from during the various Milky Way positions through the year. Hey, even get out and shoot some stuff in the daytime….imagine that!

To the night sky imagers out there, what are your favorite winter activities while you wait for orbit to bring us back around?

Website: http://tracylee.org/

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Ariane 5 to Launch BepiColombo to Mercury


Images credit & copyright: Arianespace.

Launch Alert! Saturday, October 20, 2018 at 01:45 UTC (21:45 EDT & 18:45 PDT on the 19th) Arianespace will launch their massive Ariane 5 ECA rocket, designated VA245 carrying the BepiColombo spacecrafts on a mission to Mercury for the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) from Launch Site, Ensemble de Lancement Ariane-3 (ELA-3) at the Arianespace Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

This will be Arianespace’s 7th launch of 2018, the 101st launch of the Ariane 5 and its 5th launch of 2018.

ESA/JAXA BepiColombo mission will be the 3r spacecraft to ever visit the speedy first planet, Mercury after the Mariner 10 flyby and long lived Messenger mission. The two satellites; Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) which will remain close to Mercury and Mio (Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter, MMO) which will have a highly elliptical orbit will take seven years to reach Mercury. When they enter into orbit on December 5, 2025 where they will team up to conduct science in orbit until May 1 2027 (nominal) or 2028 (extended).

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Mighty Atlas to Serve the U.S. Military Next Week (AEHF-4)

LAUNCH ALERT: Wednesday, October 17, 2018 at 00:15 EDT (04:15 UTC) a United Launch Alliance (ULA), Atlas V-551 rocket designated (AV-073) will lift off from Space Launch Complex-41 (SLC-41) at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS), Florida carrying the fourth Lockheed Martin, Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF-4) satellite for the United States Military.

This will be the ULA’s 8th launch of 2018, 131st launch since its founding in 2006, the 78th launch of the Atlas V since its inaugural flight in 2002 and the 9th launch of the Atlas V in its 551 configuration.

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Soyuz MS-10 In-Flight Launch Abort

Images & video credit: NASA/ESA/Russian Defense Ministry.

On Thursday, October 11, 2018 at 04:40 EDT (08:40 UTC) a Soyuz-FG rocket; MS-10 (ISS 56S or Soyuz 58) lifted off from Launch Pad 1/Launcher 5 (LC 1/5) at the legendary Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan carrying two crew members of Expedition 57/58 (Nick Hague and Alexey Ovchinin) on what was to be a four-orbit, six-hour “fast track” trip to the International Space Station (ISS).

Roughly 2 minutes into flight, at an altitude of 58 km (36 mi.), 71 km (44 mi.) downrange and traveling at a speed of 1,848 m/s (6653 kph or 4134 mph) and during booster separation, the vehicle experienced an anomaly yet to be determined and partially broke apart in flight. This action resulted in an obvious in-flight abort of the mission and a ballistic (steeper than nominal) reentry. The launch escape tower was already jettisoned though MS-10’s thrusters and parachutes worked as designed and the crew landed safely near Dzhezkazgan, about 450 kilometers (280 miles) northeast of Baikonur, Kazakhstan. It took rescue crews about 90 minutes to reach the crew location and when located they were already out of the spacecraft unharmed.

Russian Defense Ministry image of Soyuz MS-10 after landing.

As Station was flying overhead just before launch, European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut German, Alexander Gerst imaged the launch from orbit.

The last Soyuz abort was Soyuz T-10A pad abort on September 26, 1983 with cosmonauts Vladimir Titov and Gennady Strekalov being fired to safety via the launch escape tower. The most recent in-flight abort for a Soyuz was Soyuz 18A on April 5, 1975 with cosmonauts Vasily Lazarev and Oleg Makarov aborted when their second stage hadn’t detached from the third stage when it began firing. Soyuz’s thrusters were needed for this abort as the launch escape tower was already jettisoned. Though aborted, they broke the Karman line which classifies this as a suborbital spaceflight.

NASA astronaut Nick Hague Twitter: https://twitter.com/AstroHague

Nick Hague Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/astrohague/

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Station’s Next Crew Set for Launch!

Images credit & copyright: Roscosmos/NASA.

Launch Alert! Thursday, October 11 2018 at 04:40 EDT (08:40 UTC) a Soyuz-FG rocket; MS-10 (ISS 56S or Soyuz 58) will lift off from Launch Pad 1/Launcher 5 (LC 1/5) at the legendary Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The Soyuz spacecraft will carry two crew members of Expedition 57/58 on a four-orbit, six-hour “fast track” trip to the International Space Station (ISS). This will be the 10th flight of the upgraded MS Soyuz which replaced the TMA version.

Soyuz MS-10 will dock to the nadir, (Earth facing) port of the Russian Mini Research Module-2 (MRM-2) Poisk “Search” module where it will remain there for approximately 6 months as a crew escape vehicle should they need it and ultimately a return vehicle.

Want to see the ISS overhead? Here’s everything you need! https://danspace77.com/iss-tracking/

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SpaceX Falcon 9 SAOCOM 1 Launch & Landing From CA

Images credit & copyright: SpaceX and NASA. Press kit usually comes out a day before launch.

LAUNCH ALERT! Sunday, October 7, 2018 at 19:22 PDT, 22:22 EDT (02:22 UTC on the 8th) a previously flown SpaceX Falcon 9 Block 5 (core B1048.2) will be launching from Vandenberg Air Force Base’s, Space Launch Complex 4 East (SLC-4E or “Slick”-4E) carrying the SAOCOM 1A Earth observation satellite into a polar orbit for the Argentine Space Agency, Comisión Nacional de Actividades Espaciales (CONAE).

Stats: This will be SpaceX’s 17th launch of 2018 and the 68th SpaceX flight overall (5 Falcon 1, 62 Falcon 9, 1 Falcon Heavy). Mission parameters will, for the first time allow for a West Coast, Return to Launch Site (RTLS) landing at Landing Zone 4 (LZ-4) or the former Space Launch Complex 4 West (SLC-4W) which is directly adjacent to SLC-4E. This will bring to total successful landings to 30; 18 on drone ships and 12 on land.

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Happy 60th Birthday NASA!

Images credit: NASA.

The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) began its life on March 3, 1915. Its logo; a circular seal depicting the Wright Brothers fist flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Eventually that evolved into the familiar yellow wings and crest with NACA across it. The NACA served the United States well through the end of World War 1 through the late 1950s but it was beginning to be clear that the sky was not the limit and things needed to be taken a step beyond.

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