Aerospace at MSOE

September 2013 Previous month Next month


Orbital Sciences Corp. rolled out its Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad-0A at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on Sept. 13, 2013. Antares is scheduled to launch Cygnus on its maiden flight to the International Space Station on Sept. 18 (http://www.space.com/22816-private-spacecraft-cygnus-cleared-launch.html)


The private commercial cargo capsule, Cygnus and its Antares rocket have been cleared for flight on Wednesday (Sept. 18).   The liftoff from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, VA launch facility, is scheduled for 10:50 - 11:05 am (EDT).  It will mark the demonstration flight of the Cygnus, robotic resupply capsule as it prepares for it role to resupply the International Space Station.


Both Cygnus and Antares are designed and manufactured by Orbital Sciences Corporation, one of the two leading suppliers in NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) competition.  The other main competitor is SpaceX with its Dragon capsule.  The most notable difference between the two capsules is that the Dragon capsule is designed to be recovered and reused, while the Cygnus capsule is designed to breakup on reentry to the atmosphere.  Learn more about how the two capsules compare at Space.com. (http://www.space.com/22823-dragon-cygnus-private-spacecraft-comparison.html)


You can watch the Cygnus spacecraft launch live on SPACE.com Wednesday, courtesy of NASA TV. NASA will also hold a press conference on Tuesday, Sept. 17, at 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT) to discuss the mission.


Hey, did you know:   Orbital Science Corporation hires summer interns.  Find out more - http://www.orbital.com/Careers/Internships/


The X-ray telescope InFOCuS in the NASA hangar at the Fort Sumner Municipal Airport. An X-ray mirror (the object in the background, left, that looks like a jet engine intake) concentrates X-rays onto the WUSTL polarimeter, situated directly behind Matthias Beilicke (left) and Fabian Kislat. - http://phys.org/news/2013-09-balloon-borne-astronomy-x-calibur-window.html


X-Calibur is poised to travel to the edge of space riding a high-altitude research balloon.  Lifting from Fort Sumner, New Mexico and flown by NASA’s Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility, it is planned to take advantage of season wind patterns that should return the payload near its release point at the end of its flight. 


X-Calibur is an extremely high-precision X-ray polarimeter that will be installed in the focal plane of NASA’s InFOCuS X-ray telescope on a one-day balloon flight.  The researchers are planning to capture new data that will contribute to the understanding of binary black hole systems, pulsars and accreting neutron stars.  Both X-Calibur and InFOCuS  have been designed to be reusable and expandable allowing for continued enhancement of their capabilities.


High altitude balloons have a long history of being a relatively inexpensive mode for performing space research.  Flying at altitudes of 100,000 ft and higher, the payloads are carried out beyond 99.99% of the Earth’s atmosphere.  This vantage point allows for views out into space and back at Earth that rival those of satellite borne instruments.  In addition to being able to retrieve the payload at the end of the flight, balloon payloads are not subject to the high-G acceleration loading of satellite launch or held to the same weight constraints.  Combined with the reduced amount of personnel and equipment required to monitor a flight, high altitude balloons are an important part of space exploration.


More on X-Calibur can be found at the Washington University, St. Louis, research site - http://physics.wustl.edu/x-ray/xcalibur.shtml.


Did you know:

  • Google has been experimenting with high-alt balloons as a platform for delivering wireless internet access in remotely populated areas.  -  Check out Project Loon.
  • Wisconsin has an opportunity for college students to spend the summer exploring near-space.  The Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium (WSGC) hires summer interns to be part of a team that designs, builds and flies science payloads to the edge of space on high-altitude weather balloons.  Best of all, the project is housed right here at MSOE.  -  Check out the opportunity, Student Satellite Balloon Payload Summer Internship.


Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo completed its second powered on Sept. 5, 2013 above California's Mojave Desert.  Released at 46,000 ft from WhiteKnightTwo, the spaceship blasted its way to a maximum altitude of 65,000.  SpaceShipTwo's hybrid rocket engine fired for 20 seconds thrusting it to a top speed of Mach 1.6. [as reported in SPACE.COM]

SpaceShipTwo is Virgin Galactic’s suborbital spaceship designed to carry passengers into space. It is being designed and manufactured by Scaled Composites in Mojave, California.

Did You Know:

The United States of America is set to make space flight history this week.  Up to now, the USA has only launched missions to the Moon from Cape Canaveral, Florida, but on the Atlantic coast of the DelMarVa peninsula NASA is poised to send a new probe on its way to the moon.   The probe, Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE), will orbit the moon to learn more about the lunar atmosphere (yes the moon has an atmosphere, thin though it is, it’s really there.)  The mission will be sent on its way from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va, at 11:27 p.m. EDT Friday, Sept. 6.  ladee-surface_1.jpg?itok=yCBpAw2p

  Hey did you know:  NASA hires engineering students for internships? Check out NASA’s Office of Education Infrastructure Division (OEID) Launchpad.