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:

Nick Hague Instagram:

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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!

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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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Super Typhoon Trami & Hurricane Florence from Station

Image credit: ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst.

“Sometimes beauty walks hand in hand with a terrifying reality.”

On September 25, 2018 European Space Agency astronaut currently serving as a crew member of Expedition 56 on the International Space Station (ISS), captured this incredible 4 image set of Category 5 Super Typhoon, Trami as it steamed for Japan.

Nearly two weeks earlier on September 12, 2018, Gerst also captured this 4 image set of Hurricane Florence as it was headed for the East Coast of the United States.

Alexander Gerst ESA profile:





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A Spirit in Perpetual Night

Image credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA). Acknowledgement: J. Hughes (Rutgers University).

Located roughly 150,000 light years away in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) in the constellation Dorado, a spirit wanders in perpetual night, only observing stars at a great distance. You see, this object was itself a star in its day. In fact it likely had a partner that directly contributed to its death.

Thought to be a Type 1a supernova, two white dwarf stars orbited one another with one siphoning material from the other onto itself. Around 400 years ago, the mass of the hungry star crossed the Chandrasekhar limit (1.4 solar masses) and into what’s sometimes called Chandrasekhar mass where it then detonated.

In the end, I suppose one could conclude that this wandering spirit created the very night that it’s now confined to as its actions extinguished its own light. Perhaps, as it was a star, it knew only light and was curious as to what the darkness held. Eventually making the commitment to enter the darkness and never return…

Hubble optical light image of this object.

I hope you all enjoyed this post and though I don’t often personify stellar objects, sometimes the mood warrants the thought. Have a great weekend everyone.

NOTES: The lead image is a combined effort. The red shell of ejected material was captured in optical light by the Hubble Space Telescope while the green interior was imaged by the Chandra X-ray telescope. All links are below.

Blue/green X-ray imagery captured by the NASA Chandra X-ray Observatory

Name: SNR B0509-67.5 (or SNR 0509 for short)

What is it?: Supernova remnant

How big is it?: Roughly 23 light years in diameter

How far away is it?: Roughly 150,000 light years

How old is it?: Roughly 400 years

Apparent magnitude: N/A (extremely dim)

Discovery: N/A

Where is it (General)?: Southern constellation Dorado

Where is it (Exact RA/Dec J2000)?: RA 05h 09m 31.0s / Dec −67° 31′ 18.29″

ESA Hubble only page for this image:

ESA Hubble/Chandra image page:

ESA Hubble page for this object:

NASA Chandra page for the Hubble/Chandra image:

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The Glow from Afar

Image credit & copyright: European Southern Observatory (ESO).

Roughly 65 million light years is the 130,000 light year diameter spiral galaxy cataloged as NGC 1398. As is usually the case with catalogs, its generic name hides the true beauty of an object such as this.  On December 17, 1868, German astronomer Friedrich Winnecke became the first of our species to turn his telescope to this distant star city and its double ring structure and bright nucleus.  Its inhabitants; a few hundred billion suns and what a sight it must be, to look up at night from a planet around one of its stars.  What do their constellations look like from the different vantage points around the rings; and do they look to the Milky Way and wonder the same thing?

At 65 million years distant, the light captured by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT) left this object at roughly the same time that Earth’s dinosaurs were wishing that they had an operational asteroid defense strategy. When we see this object today, we see it not how it is, but how it was 65 million years ago.  We see this object not where it is, but where it was 65 million years ago. For the photons that made the trip, as far as they’re concerned, they arrived at the VLT’s detectors the instant they left their individual stars.

Like almost everything in the universe, the beautiful imagery gets the most attention and it should; but to me and for many, the real romance of the cosmos lies in the context and the overwhelming perspective gained from knowing the details.  The more you learn about it, the more incredible it becomes.  I think Carl Sagan said it best.

“It is sometimes said that scientists are unromantic, that their passion to figure out robs the world of beauty and mystery. But is it not stirring to understand how the world actually works — that white light is made of colors, that color is the way we perceive the wavelengths of light, that transparent air reflects light, that in so doing it discriminates among the waves, and that the sky is blue for the same reason that the sunset is red? It does no harm to the romance of the sunset to know a little bit about it.” – Carl Sagan

Name: New General Catalog 1398, NGC 1398

What is it?: Isolated barred spiral galaxy

How big is it?: Roughly 130,000 light years in diameter

How far away is it?: Roughly 65 million light years

Apparent magnitude: 9.7 or +9.7

Discovery: December 17, 1868 by German astronomer, Friedrich Winnecke

Where is it (General)?: Constellation Fornax (furnace)

Where is it (Exact RA/Dec J2000)?: RA 03h 38m 52.13s / Dec −26° 20′ 16.2″

ESO page for this image:

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