The GeekDad Space Report for February 1, 2010

Geek Culture

The Crew of STS-130 (Image: NASA)The Crew of STS-130 (Image: NASA)

The Crew of STS-130 (Image: NASA)

Hello all and welcome to the latest edition of the GeekDad Space Report! The launch scheduled for last week of a Russian Military communications satellite was a success, lifting off on time. We have two launches scheduled for this week, both to the ISS so the launch schedule for the year is starting to pick up. Let’s take a look:

Launches (Sources: Spaceflight Now World Launch Schedule, Wallops Flight Facility Daily Range Schedule)

Wednesday, February 3 –
Launch Site: Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan
Launch Vehicle: Soyuz Rocket
Payload: Progress 36P
Launch Time: 03:45 GMT
Notes: Unmanned ISS supply mission.

Sunday, February 7-
Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center, Florida, USA
Launch Vehicle: Space Shuttle Endeavour
Launch Pad: Launch Complex 39A (Map View)
Mission: STS-130
Launch Time: 09:39 GMT (04:39 EST)
Notes: Delivery of the Tranquility Module to the ISS and the final scheduled night launch of the Space Shuttle program.

Interesting Hubble Observations

In many ways, all of the Hubble observations are interesting, but here is a list of some of the standouts in the coming week. A more complete list can be found at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) This Week On HST Website.

Narrowing in on the Hubble Constant and Dark Energy

The population of compact planetary nebulae in the Galactic Disk

The Wavelength Dependence of Accretion Disk Structure

This is a small list of the overall observations. You may also see some of these observations popping up in other weeks as many observation programs consist of several observations over time.

Mars Exploration Rovers

Alexis Madrigal has an article over at Wired Science about the new status of the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit. Spirit is a rover no more and is, instead, now a stationary research platform. Controllers have given up on trying to move Spirit from the place it has been stuck for several months. The concern is now focused on Spirit’s ability to survive the Martian winter. The mission of Sprit, regardless of the outcome of the winter, can be called nothing but an amazing success. Sprit had a planned mission life of approximately 92 Earth days and has now operated for over 2219 Earth days.


The Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, also known as WISE, was previously reported on at GeekDad and Wired Science. Now WISE has made its first discovery of an asteroid. is reporting the discovery of a near earth asteroid, designated 2010 AB78. The asteroid is now 98 million miles from earth and it doesn’t look like it poses any threat to the Earth.

India Manned Space Mission

According to a report on CNN World, India is planning to launch a manned space mission in 2016. From the article:

The cost of the proposed mission is estimated at $4.8 billion, said S. Satish, spokesman for the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).

Studies have begun on the design of the crew capsules that will be used to put a pair of astronauts 300 kilometers aloft for seven days, he said. The project budget has been sent for federal approval, he added.

A training facility for astronauts will also be built in southern India as part of the program, which Satish said would be solely Indian.

In 1984, Rakesh Sharma became the first Indian to explore space in what was a joint mission with the then Soviet Union.

Congratulations to India on the kickoff of this manned space program!

One Big Jump

Popular Mechanics has a great story about Austrian Skydiver Felix Baumgartner’s upcoming record-setting skydive from the edge of space. Sponsored by Red Bull, the jump will take place from a high-altitude ballon from 120,000 feet, 23 miles up. During his plunge, Baumgartner will break the sound barrier. The jump will take place later this year.

Space Shuttle & Space Station

As mentioned above, the Space Shuttle Endeavour will launch at the end of this week on a mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The crew compliment is (from the STS-130 Mission overview):

George D. Zamka – Commander
Terry W. Virts Jr. – Pilot
Nicholas J.M. Patrick – Mission Specialist (Follow on Twitter)
Robert L. Behnken – Mission Specialist
Stephen K. Robinson – Mission Specialist
Kathryn P. Hire – Mission Specialist

The general mission overview from the same site is:

Endeavour will deliver a third connecting module – the Tranquility node – to the station and a seven-windowed cupola to be used as a control room for robotics. The mission will feature three spacewalks.

This is also scheuduled to be the final night-launch of the Space Shuttle program. After STS-130, there will only be four flights left for the Space Shuttle. Good luck to the crew of Endeavour!

Have a great week everyone!

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