The GeekDad Space Report for May 17, 2010

Geek Culture

Possibly the final launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis. (Image: NASA)Possibly the final launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis. (Image: NASA)

Possibly the final launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis. (Image: NASA)

Hello everyone and welcome to another addition of the GeekDad Space Report! Last week the big news was the planned launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis. Atlantis rocketed off the pad on schedule and successfully docked with the International Space Station yesterday on what is scheduled to be the Orbiter’s final flight. One payload item of note is a sliver of the tree thought to be the one that inspired Sir Isaac Newton‘s study of gravity when he watched an apple fall from its branches.

It is a busy week ahead for launches but it should be noted that I am only as good as my sources and my normal source, the Spaceflight Now Worldwide Launch Schedule, has not been updated as I would normally expect. That means these launches are possibly subject to change even more so than the normal reasons that a launch schedule may change, which are many!

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

Monday, May 17
Launch Site: Tanegashima Space Center, Japan
Launch Vehicle: H-IIA (202 Configuration)
Payload: Akatsuki/Venus Climate Orbiter/PLANET-C & IKAROS
Launch Time: 21:44 GMT (17:44 EDT or 06:44 on May 18 Tokyo Time)
Notes: Mission to explore the atmosphere of Venus with a secondary, unrelated, Solar Sail technology demonstrator.

Friday, May 21
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, US
Launch Vehicle: Delta IV Medium+ Configuration
Launch Pad: SLC-37B (Map View)
Payload: GPS Block 2F Satellite 1
Launch Window: 03:29-03:48 GMT (23:29-23:48 EDT on May 20)
Notes: Launch of the first satellite in the new block 2F series of GPS satellites.

Friday, May 21
Launch Site: Guiana Space Centre, Kourou, French Guiana
Launch Vehicle: Ariane 5
Launch Pad: ELA-3 (Map View)
Payload: Astra 3B & COMSATBw 2
Launch Time: 22:01 GMT (18:01 EDT)
Notes: Launch of a pair of satellites for direct to home television broadcasts and a military communications satellite.

Sunday, May 23
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, US
Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Launch Pad: SLC-40 (Map View)
Payload: Dragon
Launch Window: 17:00-21:00 GMT (13:00-17:00 EDT)
Notes: Maiden launch of the Falcon 9 launch vehicle carrying a qualification unit of the Dragon re-supply vehicle.

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.

How Galaxies Acquire their Gas: A Map of Multiphase Accretion and Feedback in Gaseous Galaxy Halos

Instrument(s): COS

A Timeline for Early-Type Galaxy Formation: Mapping the Evolution of Star Formation, Globular Clusters, Dust, and Black Holes

Instrument(s): WFC3

The Impact of Starbursts on the Gaseous Halos of Galaxies

Instrument(s): COS

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.


More news on the wayward Galaxy-15 satellite, nicknamed “Zombiesat”. There is a report from ABC News that the satellite could cause disruptions to US cable television programming. According to the report, the satellite that could be most affected by the wandering Galaxy-15, the AMC 11 satellite, relays a number of US cable television stations from the channel provider to cable television operators. The report seems to be pretty clear that everything is being done to avoid any disruptions and any disruption that does occur should be minor. If there is going to be interference, we will start seeing problems around May 23rd.

Falcon 9 & Dragon

As reported above, the Falcon 9 launch vehicle is scheduled to make its first launch this week. The vehicle and its Dragon qualification unit payload are both products of SpaceX, a commercial space company looking to reduce the cost of launching payloads and explore the new market of private and commercial space transportation.

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