Hello all and welcome to this week’s edition of the GeekDad Space Report. There were no launches scheduled for the past week to report on so let’s dig right in.
Friday, May 14
Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center, Florida, US
Launch Vehicle: Space Shuttle Atlantis
Launch Pad: Launch Complex 39A (Map View)
Launch Time: 18:20 GMT (14:20 EDT)
Notes: Space Shuttle launch to the International Space Station (ISS), expected to dock with the ISS on May 16th.
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.
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.
According to a recent BBC article, the Smos mission is returning valuable data about the Earth’s water cycle. This is despite the fact that is receiving Earth based interference. The instrument aboard Smos, which observes microwave emissions to measure soil content and ocean salinity, observes at a frequency of 1.4 GHz which is in a band that is supposed to be reserved, globally, for Earth observations but the frequency is being used in parts of the world for other purposes.
There is an issue with a communications satellite called Galaxy 15, operated by Intelsat. The satellite has failed in a unique way where the satellite is no longer responding to commands from the ground but it is still operating, giving it the nickname, Zombiesat. Without the ability to receive station-keeping commands, Zombie sat has started drifting out of its allocated spot in geosynchronous orbit and, with its transponder still broadcasting at full power, is at risk of causing interference with the AMC-11 satellite operated by SES. Intelsat continues to attempt to shut-down Zombiesat but they have been unsuccessful.
This week, we remember a legend in ground operations at the Cape who passed away at the age of 86. Guenter Wendt was a leader of pad operations through the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and Space Shuttle programs who was known for being very nice but very stern in his Whiteroom with a very personal charge of caring for the Astronauts and ensuring their safety. Thank you for all you did Guenter, you will be missed.
As mentioned above, the Space Shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to launch to the ISS this week. This is a historic mission as it is set to be the final mission for Atlantis. Here is a look at the crew:
- Commander – Kenneth T. Ham
- Pilot – Dominic A. Antonelli
- Mission Specialist – Michael T. Good
- Mission Specialist – Garrett E. Reisman
- Mission Specialist – Piers J. Sellers
- Mission Specialist – Stephen G. Bowen
Good luck to the crew of Atlantis and have a great week everyone!