ULA and the Delta IV Heavy to Launch NASA’s Parker Solar Probe to the Sun for SCIENCE!

Images and Illustrations credit & copyright: United Launch Alliance (ULA) & NASA.

Launch Alert!!! Saturday, August 11, 2018 at 03:53 EDT (00:53 PDT & 07:53 UTC) the United Launch Alliance (ULA) will be launching the beautifully powerful, heavy lift, Delta IV Heavy from Cape Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex 37B (SLC-37B or “Slick” 37B) to deliver the long awaited Parker Solar Probe (PSP) science mission to the Sun for NASA.

Note: This will be the 10th launch of the Delta IV Heavy and the Parker Solar Probe (full mission post to come) is the first NASA science mission to be dedicated to a living scientist (Eugene Parker).

The Parker Solar Probe (PSP): This mission will ask the small Parker Solar Probe to study the Sun’s corona by coming within 4 million miles of the surface of the Sun to collect data and in the process it will become the fastest human made object ever created as it will reach a top speed of 430,000 mph. (692,018 km/h).

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Brace Yourselves, the 2018 Perseids are Coming

Image credit & copyright: Thomas W. Earle.

Apologies on the title, I’m having withdrawals but the 2018 Perseids meteor shower is really coming. In fact, you may have already been seeing some.

Basics: The night of Sunday, August 12th through the morning of Monday, August 13th, the annual Perseids meteor shower will reach its peak.  As with all meteor showers there’s an estimated viewing window or, “active dates” which in this case runs from late-July through late August.  However peak viewing is usually narrowed down to a couple days or even a single night through the following morning.

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SpaceX Falcon 9 Merah Puith Mission from FL

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

LAUNCH ALERT! Tuesday, August 7, 2018 at 01:18 EDT (05:18 UTC)(22:18 PDT on the 6th) a previously flown SpaceX Falcon 9 Block 5 (core B1046.2) will be launching from Cape Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40 or “Slick”-40) carrying the Merah Putih communication satellite into a geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) for Telkom Indonesia.

Stats: This will be SpaceX’s 15th launch of 2018 and the 66th SpaceX flight overall (5 Falcon 1, 60 Falcon 9, 1 Falcon Heavy). Mission parameters will allow for a landing on SpaceX’s East Coast Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship (ASDS) “Of Course I Still Love You (OCISLY)” which will bring to total successful landings to 28; 17 on drone ships and 11 on land. Some other notes; this will be SpaceX’s fourth Falcon 9 Block 5 launch and the first Block 5 reuse as this core was used on the very first Block 5 launch to deliver the Bangabandhu 1 satellite into orbit from Cape Canaveral back on May 11th.

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What a Sight!

Image credit & copyright: Stephen Mudge.

How many of you got to experience last week’s total lunar eclipse and Mars at opposition? Unfortunately, I wasn’t in its path but many where and the images have been spectacular. Here is a favorite that I’ve seen so far taken by Stephen Mudge of Brisbane, Australia. In this image the Red Moon and the Red Planet dive below the horizon in a stunning display as totality as totality takes hold just before disappearing.

Something I always love to do with images like these is to gain some perspective which helps to make the image even more dramatic and I think it also helps to bring the details home where you can let them sink in. In this image, the moon was roughly 406,222 km (252,414 mi.) from Earth while the Red Planet, Mars is at a much further 70.8 million km (44 million mi.). Both of which, are being illuminated by a massive fusion reactor about 151 million km (94 million mi.) away in the opposite direction.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stephenmudgephotography

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/stephenmudge/

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Longest Total Lunar Eclipse This Century Occurs Friday

Images credit & copyright: Dan LaShomb (me). Check below for more links and information to figure out your viewing times.

Head’s up! This Friday, July 27, 2018, the Earth will pass directly between the Sun and Moon, creating the longest total lunar eclipse of the century where totality will last 103 minutes (1h 43m). I want to be clear fright from the beginning that this eclipse will not be visible from the Americas, much of Eastern Asia, Greenland or Iceland. It will however, be visible from most of Europe, All of Africa, Australia, the Middle East and most of Asia (especially Western Asia). That same night, Mars will reach opposition and will reside in the same constellation (Capricornus) as the Moon so you may get a special treat of two reddish lights close together on your night sky.

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SpaceX Falcon 9 Iridium NEXT 56-65 (Iridium 7) from CA

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

LAUNCH ALERT! Wednesday, July 25, 2018 at 04:39 PDT (07:39 EDT & 11:39 UTC) a SpaceX Falcon 9 Block 5 (core B1048.1) will be launching from Vandenberg Air Force Base’s Space Launch Complex 4E (SLC-4E or “Slick” 4E) to deliver ten Iridium satellites (NEXT 154, 155, 156, 158, 159, 160, 163, 164, 166, 167) into a polar orbit for the Iridium Corporation.

Stats: This will be SpaceX’s 14th launch of 2018 and the 65th SpaceX flight overall (5 Falcon 1, 59 Falcon 9, 1 Falcon Heavy). Mission parameters will allow for a landing on SpaceX’s West Coast Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ships (ASDS) “Just Read The Instructions (JRTI)” which will bring to total successful landings to 27; 16 on drone ships and 11 on land. Some other notes; this will be SpaceX’s third Falcon 9 Block 5 launch and I believe this will be the first payload fairing recovery attempt with the newly modified (larger catch net) recovery ship, “Mr. Steven” posted up at your moms house. Bonus points if you understand the reference.

ALSO: If all goes on time, we will have two major launches within 14 minutes as Arianespace will be launching their Ariane 5, 14 minutes earlier at 04:25 PDT (07:25 EDT & 11:25 UTC). That may be the closest I’ve seen if I remember correctly.

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Ariane 5 Galileo Navigation Satellites (23-26) Launch This Week

Images credit & copyright: ESA/CNES/Arianespace.

Launch Alert! Wednesday, July 25, 2018 at 11:25 UTC (07:25 EDT & 04:25 PDT) Arianespace will launch their massive heavy lift, Ariane 5 ES rocket, designated VA244 carrying 4 Galileo navigation satellites from Launch Site, Ensemble de Lancement Ariane-3 (ELA-3) at the Arianespace Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

Galileo satellites are named after children that have won the European Commission’s Galileo drawing competition. The four in this launch will be FM19 Tara, FM20 Samuel, FM21 Anna and FM22 Ellen.

This will be Arianespace’s 4th launch of 2018, the 99th launch of the Ariane 5 and its 3rd launch of 2018.

NOTE: We have the opportunity to have two major launchers launch within 14 minutes of one another as SpaceX is slated to launch a Falcon 9 at 07:39 EDT. Don’t know if I’ve seen that before.

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