Comet Lovejoy from Station

Image credit: NASA Dan Burbank.

On December 21 & 22, 2011 while onboard the International Space Station (ISS) as a member of Expedition 30, NASA astronaut Dan Burbank caught these incredible images of Comet C/2011 W3 Lovejoy after it had just passed through and survived a perihelion (its closest approach to the Sun) of 140,000 kilometres (87,000 mi.) above the Sun’s surface on December 16.  Dan called this “The most amazing thing I have ever seen in space.”

Expedition 30 astronaut Dan Burbank captures Comet Lovejoy from the ISS:

NASA astronaut Mike Massamino interviews Expedition 30 astronauts Dan Burbank and Don Pettit about seeing Comet Lovejoy:

NASA Spaceflight Expedition 30 imagery (page 31):

NASA Spaceflight Expedition 30 imagery (page 32):

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Blue Origin New Shepard 10 Launch

Images credit & copyright: Blue Origin.

Gradatim Ferociter “Step by Step, Ferociously!”

(Tentatively scheduled for early 2019; more information forthcoming) Blue Origin will be launching their New Shepard suborbital launch vehicle for the 10th time. This flight, designated (NS-10) will be launching from their West Texas proving grounds and carry along with it nine NASA sponsored payloads.

Note: This will be the 10th launch for New Shepard launch vehicle and the 4th launch of this particular launch vehicle (Propulsion Module 3).

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Arianespace Soyuz VS20

Images credit & copyright: ESA/Arianespace.

LAUNCH ALERT: Wednesday, December 19, 2018 at 16:37 UTC (11:37 EST) Arianespace will launch the medium lift Soyuz 2 launch vehicle (VS20) carrying the Composante Spatiale Optique CSO 1 spy satellite for CNES, DGA & the French Government into a polar orbit from the Soyuz Launch Zone (ZLS) or Ensemble de Lancement Soyuz (ELS) at the Guiana Space Centre or Centre Spatial Guyanais (CSG), in Sinnamary, near Kourou, French Guiana.

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SpaceX Falcon 9 GPS 3 SV01 from FL

Images credit & copyright: NASA & SpaceX.

 LAUNCH ALERT! Sunday, December 23, 2018 at 08:51 EST (13:51 UTC) SpaceX Falcon 9 (core 1054.1) will be launching from Cape Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) to deliver the U.S. Air Force’s third generation Global Positioning System (GPS). This particular satellite was given the designation GPS III SSV01 Vespucci.

Stats: This will be SpaceX’s 21st launch of 2018 and the 72nd SpaceX flight overall (5 Falcon 1, 66 Falcon 9, 1 Falcon Heavy). The parameters for this mission will not allow for a booster landing. Landings will stand at 32; 20 on drone ships and 12 on land.

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Edge-On Galaxy NGC 4452

Image credit: NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

60 million light years away in the constellation Virgo is this beautiful example of an edge-on spiral galaxy. NGC 4452 as its cataloged is roughly 35,000 light years in diameter which isn’t even half the size of our home star city, the Milky Way, and can be a pretty tough spot at an apparent magnitude of only 12.4.

One of the ways the astronomers glean new information as to the birth, evolution and composition of the universe is by sheer volume. We see stars and galaxies in every stage of their lives and from every angle. The result is an impressive body of knowledge that we can move into the future to help make even more discoveries.

Name: NGC 4452

What is it?: Edge-on spiral galaxy

How far away is it?: 60 million light years

How big is it?: Roughly 35,000 light years in diameter

Apparent magnitude: 12.4

Where is it (general)?: Constellation Virgo

Where is it (exact RA/Dec J2000)?: RA 12h 28.7m 00s / Dec +11° 45′ 00″

ESA Hubble Space Telescope page for this image:

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ULA Delta IV Heavy NROL-71 from CA

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

Launch Alert!!! Sunday, December 30, 2018 at 17:44 PST/20:44 EST (00:44 UTC on the 20th) the United Launch Alliance (ULA) will be launching the beautiful Delta IV Heavy from Vandenberg Air Force Base’s Space Launch Complex 6 (SLC-6 or “Slick” 6) to deliver a classified spy satellite for the United States National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). Note: This will be the 11th launch of the Delta IV Heavy.

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Ariane 5 GSAT 11 & GEO-Kompsat 2A Launch

Images credit & copyright: Arianespace.

Launch Alert! Wednesday, December 4, 2018 at 20:37 UTC (15:37 EST) Arianespace will launch their massive Ariane 5 ECA rocket, designated VA246 carrying the GSAT 11 communication satellite & GEO-Kompsat 2A weather satellite from Launch Site, Ensemble de Lancement Ariane-3 (ELA-3) at the Arianespace Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

This will be Arianespace’s 8th launch of 2018, the 102nd launch of the Ariane 5 and its 6th launch of 2018.

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