Human Space Flight (HSF) – Space History

Space Flight Mission “NASA is deeply committed to spreading the unique knowledge that flows from its aeronautics and space research…” Launch Programs Project Mercury Initiated in 1958, completed in 1963, Project Mercury was the United States’ first man-in-space program.

Project Gemini The second U.S. manned space program was announced in January 1962. Gemini involved 12 flights, including two unmanned flight tests of the equipment.

Apollo-Soyuz The mission started with the Russian Soyuz launch on July 15, 1975, followed by the U.S. Apollo launch on the same day. Docking in space of the two craft occurred on July 17, and joint operations were conducted for two full days. Both spacecraft landed safely and on schedule.

Space Shuttle The Space Shuttle is a viable part of American History. Standing as one of NASA’s foremost projects, the shuttle has accomplished many tasks that have enhanced the quality of life on Earth. View archives of every shuttle mission here.

Project Apollo

“I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important in the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.”

John F. Kennedy Special Joint Session of Congress May 25, 1961

Shuttle-Mir Phase 1 was a NASA program encompassing 11 space shuttle flights over a four-year period. It used existing assets – primarily U.S. shuttle orbiters and the Russian Space Station Mir – to build joint space experience and start joint scientific research.

International Space Station The most complex engineering and construction project in the world is taking place in space. 16 countries and over 100,000 people are contributing to this monumental achievement.

NASA Histories On-line On-line versions of more than 100 NASA history publications are available at this Web site.

Walking to Olympus: An EVA Chronology An online PDF (3.5M) chronicle of EVAs conducted since the dawn of the space age.

Yesterday’s Space Facts Search the Human Space Flight Web’s archive of Space Facts.

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Human Space Flight (HSF) – Space History

Space Geodesy Project Home


SGP is completing the implementation of a new 12-meter broadband Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) station at NASA’s Kkee Park Geophysical Observatory (KPGO) on Kauai, Hawaii. This blog follows the progress towards the station completion with updates from the team about once a week.

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Space Geodesy Project Home

Launch Schedule Spaceflight Now

A regularly updated listing of planned missions from spaceports around the globe. Dates and times are given in Greenwich Mean Time. NET stands for no earlier than. TBD means to be determined. Recent updates appear in red type. Please send any corrections, additions or updates by e-mailto:sclark@spaceflightnow.com.

See ourLaunch Logfor a listing of completed space missions since 2004.

March 23: Adding Soyuz/Bars-M; Delta 4-Heavy/NROL-37 delayed; Adding Falcon 9/Formosat 5 & Sherpa; Delta 4/AFSPC 6 delayed March 20: Adjusting time for Atlas 5/OA-6; Adjusting time for Soyuz/Progress 63P; Adding time for Soyuz 47S March 16: Falcon 9/SpaceX CRS 8 delayed; Adding date for PSLV/IRNSS 1G; Antares/OA-5 delayed; Adding Falcon 9/Thaicom 8; Falcon 9/SpaceX CRS 11 delayed; Falcon Heavy/Demo Flight delayed; Antares/OA-7 delayed; Adding Rockot/Sentinel 5p; Falcon 9/SpaceX CRS 12 delayed March 8: Falcon 9/SpaceX CRS 8 delayed; Adding timeframe for Falcon 9/JCSAT 14; Adding date for Falcon 9/Eutelsat 117 West B & ABS 2A; Falcon 9/Amos 6 delayed; Adding date for Falcon 9/SpaceX CRS 9; Falcon 9/SpaceX CRS 10 delayed March 3: Adding time for PSLV/IRNSS 1F; Adding date and time for Falcon 9/SpaceX CRS 8; PSLV/IRNSS 1G delayed; Deleting Dnepr/Iridium Next 1 & 2; Adding period for Delta 4-Heavy/NROL-37; Adding time for Soyuz/Galileo 13 & 14; Long March 2F/Tiangong 2 delayed; Long March 2F/Shenzhou 11 delayed; Falcon 9/Iridium Next 1-10 moved up; Falcon Heavy/STP-2 delayed; Atlas 5/AEHF-4 delayed

March 24Soyuz Bars-M

Launch time: Approx. 1000 GMT (6 a.m. EDT) Launch site: Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Russia

A Russian government Soyuz rocket will launch a Bars-M spy satellite for the Russian military. The Soyuz rocket will fly in the Soyuz-2.1a configuration with a digital flight control system. [March 23]

March 31Soyuz Progress 63P

Launch time: 1623 GMT (12:23 p.m. EDT) Launch site: Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan

A Russian government Soyuz rocket will launch the 63rd Progress cargo delivery ship to the International Space Station. Delayed from Feb. 12. [March 20]

April 8Falcon 9 SpaceX CRS 8

Launch time: 2043 GMT (4:43 p.m. EDT) Launch site: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the 10th Dragon spacecraft on the eighth operational cargo delivery mission to the International Space Station. The flight is being conducted under the Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA. Delayed from Aug. 13, Sept. 2, Jan. 3, Feb. 7, March 20 and March 29. [March 16]

Mid-AprilFalcon 9 JCSAT 14

Launch window: TBD Launch site: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the JCSAT 14 communications satellite for Tokyo-based SKY Perfect JSAT Corp. JCSAT 14 will support data networks, television broadcasters and mobile communications users in Japan, East Asia, Russia, Oceania, Hawaii and other Pacific islands. Delayed from late 2015. [March 8]

April 22Soyuz Sentinel 1B

Launch time: 2102:23 GMT (5:02:23 p.m. EDT) Launch site: ELS, Sinnamary, French Guiana

An Arianespace Soyuz rocket, designated VS14, will launch on a mission from the Guiana Space Center in South America. The Soyuz will carry the Sentinel 1B radar observation satellite for the European Space Agency and the European Commission, the Microscope microsatellite to research gravitational forces, Norways Norsat 1 microsatellite for ship tracking and space weather and solar radiation research, and a CubeSat sponsored by the European Space Agency. The Soyuz 2-1a (Soyuz ST-A) rocket will use a Fregat upper stage. Moved forward from April 14. Delayed from April 12. [Feb. 22]

April 23Proton Intelsat 31/DLA-2

Launch time: TBD Launch site: Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan

An International Launch Services Proton rocket with a Breeze M upper stage will deploy the Intelsat 31/DLA-2 communications satellite owned by Intelsat. A majority of Intelsat 31s capacity will be leased to DirecTV Latin America to provide direct-to-home television broadcasts to Central America, South America and the Caribbean. [Oct. 31]

April 25Soyuz Mikhailo Lomonosov

Launch time: TBD Launch site: Vostochny Cosmodrome, Russia

A Russian government Soyuz rocket will launch for the first time from the new Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russias Far East, carrying a satellite named Mikhailo Lomonosov with instruments to study high-energy cosmic rays, gamma rays and the Earths upper atmosphere and magnetosphere. Two smaller secondary payloads, named Aist 2 and SamSat 218, will also launch aboard the Soyuz rocket. The rocket will fly in the Soyuz-2.1a configuration with a Volga upper stage. [Jan. 28]


Launch time: TBD Launch site: Satish Dhawan Space Center, Sriharikota, India

Indias Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), flying in the PSLV-XL configuration, will launch the IRNSS 1G navigation satellite. The payload is the seventh spacecraft in the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System, which aims to improve positioning services over India and neighboring regions. Delayed from March 31. [March 16]

May 3Falcon 9 Eutelsat 117 West B & ABS 2A

Launch window: TBD Launch site: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Eutelsat 117 West B and ABS 2A communications satellites. Eutelsat 117 West B will provide Latin America with video, data, government, and mobile services for Paris-based Eutelsat. ABS 2A will distribute direct-to-home television, mobile and maritime communications services across Russia, India, the Middle East, Africa, Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean region for Asia Broadcast Satellite of Bermuda and Hong Kong. Built by Boeing, the satellites will launch in a conjoined configuration and will use all-electric propulsion for orbit-raising. Delayed from 4th quarter 2015, March and April. [March 8]

May 5Atlas 5 MUOS 5

Launch period: 1546-1946 GMT (11:46 a.m.-3:46 p.m. EDT) Launch site: SLC-41, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida

A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket, designated AV-063, will launch the fifth Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellite for the U.S. Navy. Built by Lockheed Martin, this U.S. military spacecraft will provide narrowband tactical communications designed to significantly improve ground communications for U.S. forces on the move. The rocket will fly in the 551 vehicle configuration with a five-meter fairing, five solid rocket boosters and a single-engine Centaur upper stage. [Feb. 22]

May 24Soyuz Galileo 13 & 14

Launch time: 0848 GMT (4:48 a.m. EDT) Launch site: ELS, Sinnamary, French Guiana

An Arianespace Soyuz rocket, designated VS15, will launch on a mission from the Guiana Space Center in South America. The Soyuz will carry two Galileo full operational capability satellites for Europes Galileo navigation constellation. The Soyuz 2-1b (Soyuz ST-B) rocket will use a Fregat-MT upper stage. [March 3]

MayFalcon 9 Formosat 5 & Sherpa

Launch window: TBD Launch site: SLC-4E, Vandenberg Air Force Base, California

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Formosat 5 for Taiwans National Space Organization (NSPO) and the Sherpa deployer from Spaceflight Industries carrying 87 small payloads and CubeSats for a variety of scientific and commercial customers. [March 23]

June 3Delta 4-Heavy NROL-37

Launch window: Approx. 1700-2100 GMT (1:00-5:00 p.m. EST) Launch site: SLC-37B, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida

A United Launch Alliance Delta 4-Heavy rocket will launch a classified spy satellite cargo for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office. The largest of the Delta 4 family, the Heavy version features three Common Booster Cores mounted together to form a triple-body rocket. Delayed from April 27 and May 12. [March 23]

June 7Ariane 5 EchoStar 18 & BRIsat

Launch window: TBD Launch site: ELA-3, Kourou, French Guiana

Arianespace will use an Ariane 5 ECA rocket, designated VA230, to launch the EchoStar 18 and BRIsat communications satellites. EchoStar 18 will provide direct-to-home television broadcast services over North America for EchoStar and Dish Network. BRIsat will support banking services provided by BRI, a large Indonesian bank. Delayed from May. [Feb. 22]

JuneFalcon 9 Thaicom 8

Launch window: TBD Launch site: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Thaicom 8 communications satellite. Thaicom 8 will provide Ku-band broadcast and data services to Thailand, Southeast Asia, India and Africa. [March 16]

June 21Soyuz ISS 47S

Launch time: 0746 GMT (3:46 a.m. EDT) Launch site: Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan

A Russian government Soyuz rocket will launch the manned Soyuz spacecraft to the International Space Station with members of the next Expedition crew. The capsule will remain at the station for about six months, providing an escape pod for the crew. Delayed from May 20. [March 20]

June 24Antares OA-5

Launch window: TBD Launch site: Pad 0A, Wallops Island, Virginia

An Orbital ATK Antares rocket will launch of the seventh Cygnus cargo freighter on the sixth operational cargo delivery flight to the International Space Station. The mission is known as OA-5. The rocket will fly in the Antares 230 configuration, with two RD-181 first stage engines and a Castor 30XL second stage. Delayed from May 31. March 16]

June 24Atlas 5 NROL-61

Launch window: TBD Launch site: SLC-41, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida

A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket, designated AV-064, will launch a classified spacecraft payload for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office. The rocket will fly in the 421 vehicle configuration with a four-meter fairing, two solid rocket boosters and a single-engine Centaur upper stage. Delayed from April 21 and June 14. [Jan. 1]

June 24Falcon 9 SpaceX CRS 9

Launch window: TBD Launch site: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the 11th Dragon spacecraft on the ninth operational cargo delivery mission to the International Space Station. The flight is being conducted under the Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA. Delayed from Dec. 9. [March 8]

June 25Proton EchoStar 21

Launch time: TBD Launch site: Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan

An International Launch Services Proton rocket with a Breeze M upper stage will deploy the EchoStar 21 communications satellite, formerly known as TerreStar 2. EchoStar 21 will provide mobile broadband services over Europe with an S-band payload for EchoStar Mobile Ltd. [Oct. 31]

3rd QuarterLong March 2F Tiangong 2

Launch window: TBD Launch site: Jiuquan, China

A Chinese Long March 2F rocket will launch the Tiangong 2 mini-space station laboratory module designed for docking tests and crewed visits. Delayed from early 2016. [March 3]

JulyVega PeruSat 1 & SkySat

Launch time: TBD Launch site: ZLV, Kourou, French Guiana

A European Vega rocket, designated VV07, will launch with the PeruSat 1 reconnaissance satellite for the Peruvian government and four SkySat Earth observation satellites for Google/Skybox Imaging. [Dec. 12]

July 4Soyuz Progress 64P

Launch window: TBD Launch site: Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan

A Russian government Soyuz rocket will launch the 64th Progress cargo delivery ship to the International Space Station. Delayed from April 22. [Dec. 12]

JulyFalcon 9 Iridium Next 1-10

Launch window: TBD Launch site: SLC-4E, Vandenberg Air Force Base, California

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch 10 satellites for the Iridium next mobile communications fleet. Delayed from 1st Quarter. Moved up from August. [March 3]

Mid-2016Minotaur-C SkySat

Launch window: TBD Launch site: SLC-576E, Vandenberg Air Force Base, California

An Orbital ATK Minotaur-C rocket will launch six SkySat Earth observation satellites for Google/Skybox Imaging. The Minotaur-C is an upgraded, renamed version of the Orbital Sciences Taurus rocket. Delayed from late 2015. [May 2]

JulyFalcon 9 Amos 6

Launch window: TBD Launch site: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Amos 6 communications satellite for Spacecom of Israel. Amos 6 will provide communications and broadcast services over a coverage area stretching from the U.S. Coast to Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Amos 6 will also support the Israeli governments satellite communications needs. Delayed from 3rd quarter of 2015, 1st quarter of 2016 and May. [March 8]

July 27Atlas 5 SBIRS GEO 3

Launch window: TBD Launch site: SLC-41, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida

A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket, designated AV-066, will launch the U.S. militarys third Space Based Infrared System Geosynchronous satellite, or SBIRS GEO 3, for missile early-warning detection. The rocket will fly in the 401 vehicle configuration with a four-meter fairing, no solid rocket boosters and a single-engine Centaur upper stage. Delayed from May 26. [Sept. 21]

Aug. 1Falcon 9 SpaceX CRS 10

Launch window: TBD Launch site: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the 12th Dragon spacecraft on the 10th operational cargo delivery mission to the International Space Station. The flight is being conducted under the Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA. Delayed from Feb. 13 and June 10. [March 8]

Aug. 4Delta 4 AFSPC 6

Launch window: TBD Launch site: SLC-37B, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida

A United Launch Alliance Delta 4 rocket will launch the AFSPC 6 mission for the U.S. Air Force carrying the third and fourth satellites for the Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program, or GSSAP. The rocket will fly in the Medium+ (4,2) configuration with two solid rocket boosters. Delayed from July 21. [March 23]

3rd QuarterH-2A Himawari 9

Launch window: TBD Launch site: Tanegashima Space Center, Japan

A Japanese H-2A rocket will launch the Himawari 9 weather satellite for the Japan Meteorological Agency. Himawari 9 will collect weather imagery over the East Asia and Western Pacific regions. [Feb. 19]

Sept. 8Atlas 5 OSIRIS-REx

Launch window: Approx. 2310-0040 GMT (7:10-8:40 p.m. EDT) Launch site: SLC-41, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida

A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket will launch NASAs OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission. The Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) will reach asteroid Bennu in 2018 to collect surface samples for return to Earth in 2023. The rocket will fly in the 411 vehicle configuration with a four-meter fairing, one solid rocket booster and a single-engine Centaur upper stage. [Feb. 22]

Sept. 15Atlas 5 WorldView 4

Launch time: TBD Launch site: SLC-3E, Vandenberg Air Force Base, California

A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket, designated AV-062, will launch the WorldView 4 Earth observation satellite for DigitalGlobe. The rocket will fly in the 401 vehicle configuration with a four-meter fairing, no solid rocket boosters and a single-engine Centaur upper stage. Delayed from June 29. [Nov. 7]

Sept. 23Soyuz ISS 48S

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Launch Schedule Spaceflight Now

Human Space Flight (HSF) – Realtime Data

If conditions are right, you can see satellites and other spacecraft — such as the space shuttle or the International Space Station — clearly from the ground. Satellites appear as small, steady, extremely fast-moving points of light. The International Space Station is now one of the most visible objects in the sky. Most sightings follow a west-to-east path and the spacecraft appear over the western horizon and disappear over the eastern in a matter of a few minutes.

The problem for most people is that they do not know when or where to look to see the station or other spacecraft in the night sky. NASA SkyWatch is a tool for you to get this information. This guide is intended to help you run NASA SkyWatch the first time or two you try.

Generally, NASA SkyWatch can be as simple or as complex as you care to make it. For astronomy enthusiasts, there are many variables that allow you to personalize the processing of Earth orbiting satellites. For everyone else, there are only a few things to remember in order to get highly accurate sighting information. This guide will help you to master the basics of obtaining some great sighting data!

Step 1: First of all, remember that you need to be using a compatible internet browser. The Microsoft Internet Explorer v.4.0 or later or Netscape Navigator v.4.06 or later are recommended for the Windows operating system. The Java Runtime Environment v.1.4.2 is also required.

For the Macintosh operating system, the Microsoft Internet Explorer v.4.5 and the Macintosh Runtime Environment for Java v.2.1 are recommended. If you have access to these browsers, then you are ready to proceed to step 2. If you do not have access to these browsers, then you will receive security errors and the applet will not appear.

Step 2: Once the browser configuration is sorted out, you are ready to go. NASA SkyWatch can be viewed from the Human Spaceflight Web under Realtime Data and Sightings. To obtain best results, make sure your computer system clock is set to your correct local time. If all is well, all you need to do is to click on the “Start Java Applet” button on the introduction page and the applet will be displayed. Once the user interface is displayed, you are ready for step three.

Step 3: Choose a location

On the map:

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Human Space Flight (HSF) – Realtime Data

World Space Flight

This family of pages contain a brief history of manned space flight. Here you will find summary information of every manned flight, beginning with Yuri Gagarin in Vostok 1 up to the latest International Space Station expedition. We also follow the latest efforts by China to put men into space. If and when non-governmental organizations put men into space, those flights will also be included. We have information on Vostok, Voskhod, Soyuz, Salyut, Zond, Almaz, Mir, Buran, Progress, Mercury, Gemini, X-15, DynaSoar, Apollo, Skylab, the Space Shuttle, the International Space Station, and Shenzhou.

How many people are currently in space, and who are they?

Learn who has flown in space, how many times, what missions, and their nationality. All astronauts/cosmonauts/yuhangyuan (taikonauts) are included. Not only American, Russian/Soviet and Chinese, but Canadian, European, and others from around the world who have flown in space. Check up on the number of spacewalks, when they occurred, who participated, and for how long. There are pages dedicated solely to astronauts representing the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

We have pages dedicated to the International Space Station, its assembly sequence, manned expeditions, and the partner nations contributing to the effort.

While not directly related to manned space activities, one set of pages is given to deep space probes.

There are other sets of pages which include a catch all (stuff which may not necessarily be of a space nature) and a blog. Addendums has histories of rocket families (German, Russian, Chinese, American), information on moon phases, solstices, a periodic table, photos of various x-planes, a fun page. The blog can have anything on any topic.

Search using the WorldSpaceFlight internal keyword search feature.

Site Map

We want you to find our pages interesting and informative. Accuracy is also important. Please, let us know of any errors you notice. Spelling errors, broken links, incorrect names or dates are all things we want to eliminate. Suggestions are always welcome.

Times accessed: 76939

Last updated: 21 January 2016 21:21:03.

Two MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS and their astonishingly simple answers: 1) Where was the Canadarm built? – It was built, in of all places, CANADA! 2) What is the name of the International Space Station? – The International Space Station.

Background: Orion Nebula as seen from the Hubble Space Telescope (NASA)

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World Space Flight

Marshall Space Flight Center – Wikipedia, the free …

Coordinates: 343849N 864027W / 34.64688N 86.67416W / 34.64688; -86.67416

The Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) is the U.S. government’s civilian rocketry and spacecraft propulsion research center. The largest NASA center, MSFC’s first mission was developing the Saturn launch vehicles for the Apollo moon program. Marshall has been the agency’s lead center for Space Shuttle propulsion and its external tank; payloads and related crew training; International Space Station (ISS) design and assembly; and computers, networks, and information management. Located on the Redstone Arsenal near Huntsville, Alabama, MSFC is named in honor of General of the Army George Marshall.

The center also contains the Huntsville Operations Support Center (HOSC), a facility that supports ISS launch, payload and experiment activities at the Kennedy Space Center. The HOSC also monitors rocket launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station when a Marshall Center payload is on board.

After the end of the war with Germany in May 1945, a program was initiated to bring to the United States a number of scientist and engineers who had been at the center of Germany’s advanced military technologies. The largest and best-known activity was called Operation Paperclip. In August 1945, 127 missile specialists led by Wernher von Braun signed work contracts with the U.S. Army’s Ordnance Corps. Most of them had worked on the V-2 missile development under von Braun at Peenemnde. Von Braun and the other Germans were sent to Fort Bliss, Texas, joining the Army’s newly formed Research and Development Division Sub-office (Rocket).

For the next five years, von Braun and the German scientists and engineers were primarily engaged in adapting and improving the V-2 missile for U.S. applications; testing was conducted at nearby White Sands Proving Grounds, New Mexico. Von Braun had long had a great interest in rocketry for space science and exploration. Toward this, he was allowed to use a WAC Corporal rocket as a second stage for a V-2; the combination, called Bumper, reached a record-breaking 250 miles (400km) altitude.[1]

During World War II, the production and storage of ordnance shells was conducted by three arsenals nearby to Huntsville, Alabama. After the war, these were mainly closed, and the three areas were combined to form Redstone Arsenal. In October 1948, the Chief of Ordnance designated Redstone Arsenal as the center of research and development activities in free-flight rockets and related items, and the following June, the Ordnance Rocket Center was opened. A year later, the Secretary of the Army approved the transfer of the rocket research and development activities from Fort Bliss to the new center at Redstone Arsenal. Beginning in April 1950, about 1,000 persons were involved in the transfer, including von Braun’s group. At this time, R&D responsibility for guided missiles was added, and studies began on a medium-range guided missile that eventually became the Redstone rocket.

Over the next decade, the missile development on Redstone Arsenal greatly expanded. Many small free-flight and guided rockets were developed, and work on the Redstone rocket got underway. Although this rocket was primarily intended for military purposes, von Braun kept space firmly in his mind, and published a widely read article on this subject.[2] In mid-1952, the Germans who had initially worked under individual contracts were converted to Civil Service employees, and in 1954-55, most became U.S. citizens. Von Braun was appointed Chief of the Guided Missile Development Division.[3]

In September 1954, von Braun proposed using the Redstone as the main booster of a multi-stage rocket for launching artificial satellites. A year later, a study for Project Orbiter was completed, detailing plans and schedules for a series of scientific satellites. The Army’s official role in the U.S. space satellite program was delayed, however, after higher authorities elected to use the Vanguard rocket then being developed by the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL).

In February 1956, the Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA) was established; von Braun was the director of the Development Operations Division. One of the primary programs was a 1,500-mile (2,400km), single-stage missile that was started the previous year; intended for both the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy, this was designated the PGM-19 Jupiter. Guidance component testing for this Jupiter intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM) began in March 1956 on a modified Redstone missile dubbed Jupiter A while re-entry vehicle testing began in September 1956 on a Redstone with spin-stabilized upper stages named Jupiter-C. The first Jupiter IRBM flight took place from Cape Canaveral in March 1957 with the first successful flight to full range on 31 May.[4] Jupiter was eventually taken over by the U.S. Air Force. The ABMA developed Jupiter-C was composed of a Redstone rocket first stage and two upper stages for RV tests or three upper stages for Explorer satellite launches. ABMA had originally planned the 20 September 1956 flight as a satellite launch but, by direct intervention of Eisenhower, was limited to the use of 2 upper stages for an RV test flight traveling 3,350 miles (5,390km) and attaining an altitude of 682 miles (1,098km). While the Jupiter C capability was such that it could have placed the fourth stage in orbit, that mission had been assigned to the NRL.[5][6] Later Jupiter-C flights would be use to launch satellites.

The Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1, the first man-made earth satellite, on October 4, 1957. This was followed on November 3 with the second satellite, Sputnik 2. The United States attempted a satellite launch on December 6, using the NRL’s Vanguard rocket, but it barely struggled off the ground, then fell back and exploded. On January 31, 1958, after finally receiving permission to proceed, von Braun and the ABMA space development team used a Jupiter C in a Juno I configuration (addition of a fourth stage) to successfully place Explorer 1, the first American satellite, into orbit around the earth.

Effective at the end of March 1958, the U.S. Army Ordnance Missile Command (AOMC), was established at Redstone Arsenal. This encompassed the ABMA and its newly operational space programs. In August, AOMC and Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA, a Department of Defense organization) jointly initiated a program managed by ABMA to develop a large space booster of approximately 1.5-million-pounds.thrust using a cluster of available rocket engines. In early 1959, this vehicle was designated Saturn.

On April 2, President Dwight D. Eisenhower recommended to Congress that a civilian agency be established to direct nonmilitary space activities, and on July 29, the President signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act, creating the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The nucleus for forming NASA was the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), with its 7,500 employees and Ames Research Center (ARC), Langley Research Center (LaRC), and Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory (later LRC, then Glenn RC) becoming the initial operations of NASA.

Although there was then an official space agency, the Army continued with certain far-reaching space programs. In June 1959, a secret study on Project Horizon was completed by ABMA, detailing plans for using the Saturn booster in establishing a manned Army outpost on the moon. Project Horizon, however, was rejected, and the Saturn program was transferred to NASA.

The U.S. manned satellite space program, using the Redstone as a booster, was officially named Project Mercury on November 26, 1958. With a future goal of manned flight, monkeys Able and Baker were the first living creatures recovered from outer space on May 28, 1959. They had been carried in the nose cone on a Jupiter missile to an altitude of 300 miles (480km) and a distance of 1,500 miles (2,400km), successfully withstanding 38 times the normal pull of gravity. Their survival during speeds over 10,000 miles per hour was America’s first biological step toward putting a man into space.

On October 21, 1959, President Eisenhower approved the transfer of all Army space-related activities to NASA. This was accomplished effective July 1, 1960, when 4,670 civilian employees, about $100 million worth of buildings and equipment, and 1,840 acres (7.4km2) of land transferred from AOMC/ABMA to NASA’s George C. Marshall Space Flight Center. MSFC officially opened at Redstone Arsenal on this same date, then was dedicated on September 8 by President Eisenhower in person. The Center was named in honor of General of the Army George C. Marshall, Army Chief of Staff during World War II, United States Secretary of State, and Nobel Prize winner for his world-renowned Marshall Plan.

From its initiation, MSFC has been NASA’s lead center for the development of rocket propulsion systems and technologies. During the 1960s, the activities were largely devoted to the Apollo Program man’s first visit to the Moon. In this, the Saturn Family of launch vehicles were designed and tested at MSFC. Following the highly successful Moon landing, including initial scientific exploration, MSFC had a major role in Post-Apollo activities; this included Skylab, the United States’ first space station. With a permanent space station as an objective, the Space Shuttle was developed as a reusable transportation vehicle, and with it came Spacelab and other experimental activities making use of the Shuttle cargo bay. These and other projects are described in a later section. But first, MSFC’s present capabilities and projects are addressed.

Marshall Space Flight Center has capabilities and projects supporting NASA’s mission in three key areas: lifting from Earth (Space Vehicles), living and working in space (International Space Station), and understanding our world and beyond (Advanced Scientific Research).[7]

MSFC is NASA’s designated developer and integrator of launch systems. The state-of-the-art Propulsion Research Laboratory serves as a leading national resource for advanced space propulsion research. Marshall has the engineering capabilities to take space vehicles from initial concept to sustained service. For manufacturing, the world’s largest-known welding machine of its type was installed at MSFC in 2008; it is capable of building major, defect-free components for manned-rated space vehicles.

In early March 2011, NASA Headquarters announced that MSFC will lead the efforts on a new heavy-lift rocket that, like the Saturn V of the lunar exploration program of the late 1960s, will carry large, man-rated payloads beyond low-Earth orbit. The Center will have the program office for what is being called the Space Launch System (SLS).[8]

Before it was cancelled by President Barack Obama in early 2010, the Constellation Program had been a major activity in NASA since 2004. In this program, MSFC was responsible for propulsion on the heavy-lift vehicles. These vehicles were designated Ares I and Ares V, and would replace the aging Space Shuttle fleet as well as transport humans to the Moon, Mars, and other deep-space destinations.[9]

Starting in 2006, the MSFC Exploration Launch Projects Office began work on the Ares projects. On October 28, 2009, an Ares I-X test rocket lifted off from the newly modified Launch Complex 39B at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) for a two-minute powered flight; then continued for four additional minutes traveling 150 miles (240km) down range.

MSFC had responsibility for the Space Shuttle’s propulsion engines. On February 1, 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster occurred, with the orbiter disintegrating during reentry and resulting in the death of its seven crew members. Flights of the other Shuttles were put on hold for 29 months. Based on a seven-month investigation, including a ground search that recovered debris from about 38 percent of the Orbiter, together with telemetry data and launch films, indicated that the failure was caused by a piece of insulation that broke off the external tank during launch and damaged the thermal protection on the Orbiter’s left wing.

MSFC was responsible for the external tank, but few or no changes to the tank were made; rather, NASA decided that it was inevitable that some insulation might be lost during launch and thus required that an inspection of the orbiter’s critical elements be made prior to reentry on future flights.

NASA retired the Space Shuttle in 2011, leaving America dependent upon the Russian Soyuz spacecraft for manned space missions.

The initial plans for the Space Station envisaged a small, low-cost Crew Return Vehicle (CRV) that would provide emergency evacuation capability. The 1986 Challenger disaster led planners to consider a more capable spacecraft. The Orbital Space Plane (OSP) development got underway in 2001, with an early version expected to enter service by 2010. With the initiation of the Constellation program in 2004, the knowledge gained on the OSP was transferred to Johnson Space Center (JSC) for use in the development of the Crew Exploration Vehicle. No operational OSP was ever built.[10]

The International Space Station is a partnership of the United States, Russian, European, Japanese, and Canadian Space Agencies. The station has continuously had human occupants since November 2, 2000. Orbiting 16 times daily at an average altitude of about 250mi (400km), it passes over some 90 percent of the world’s surface. It weighs over 800,000lb (350,000kg), and a crew of six conducts research and prepares the way for future explorations.

NASA began the plan to build a space station in 1984. The station was named Freedom in 1988, and changed to the International Space Station (ISS) in 1992. The ISS is composed in modules, and the assembly in orbit started with the delivery of Russian module Zarya in November 1998. This was followed in December by the first U.S. module, Unity also called Node 1, built by Boeing in facilities at MSFC.[11]

As the 21st century started, Space Shuttle flights carried up supplies and additional small equipment, including a portion of the solar power array. The two-module embryonic ISS remained unmanned until the next module, Destiny, the U.S. Laboratory, arrived on February 7, 2001; this module was also built by Boeing at MSFC. The three-module station allowed a minimum crew of two astronauts or cosmonauts to be on the ISS permanently. In July, Quest air-lock was added to Unity, providing the capability for extra-vehicular activity (EVA).

Since 1998, 18 major U.S. components on the ISS have been assembled in space. In October 2007, Harmony or Node 2, was attached to Destiny; also managed by MSFC, this gave connection hubs for European and Japanese modules as well as additional living space, allowing the ISS crew to increase to six. The 18th and final major U.S. and Boeing-built element, the Starboard 6 Truss Segment, was delivered to the ISS in February 2009. With this, the full set of solar arrays could be activated, increasing the power available for science projects to 30kW. That marked the completion of the U.S. “core” of the station.

In March 2010, Boeing turned over[clarification needed] to NASA the U.S. on-orbit segment of the ISS.[citation needed] It is planned that the International Space Station will be operated at least through the end of 2020. With the retirement of the Space Shuttle fleet in 2011, future manned missions to the ISS will depend upon the Russian Soyuz spacecraft for the immediate future.

MSFC is involved in some of the most advanced space research of our time. Scientist/Astronaut researchers aboard the International Space Station are engaged in hundreds of advanced experiments, most of which could not be conducted except for the zero-gravity environment. The deep-space images from the Hubble Space Telescope and the Chandra X-ray Observatory are made possible in part by the people and facilities at Marshall. The Center was not only responsible for the design, development, and construction of these telescopes, but it is also now home to the only facility in the world for testing large telescope mirrors in a space-simulated environment. Preliminary work has started on a Hubble successor, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST); this will be the largest primary mirror ever assembled in space. In the future, the facility will likely be used for another successor, the Advanced Technology Large-Aperture Space Telescope (AT-LAST).

The National Space Science and Technology Center (NSSTC) is a joint research venture between NASA and the seven research universities of the State of Alabama. The primary purpose of NSSTC is to foster collaboration in research between government, academia, and industry. It consists of seven research centers: Advanced Optics, Biotechnology, Global Hydeology & Climate, Information Technology, Material Science, Propulsion, and Space Science. Each center is managed by either MSFC, the host NASA facility, or the University of Alabama in Huntsville, the host university.

The Hubble Space Telescope was launched in April 1990, but gave flawed images. It had been designed at MSFC, but used a primary mirror that had spherical aberration due to incorrect grinding and polishing by the contractor. The defect was found when the telescope was in orbit. The design was such that repairs were possible, and three maintenance missions were flown in Shuttles during the 1990s. Another servicing mission (STS-109) was flown on March 1, 2002. Each mission resulted in considerable improvements, with the images receiving world-wide attention from astronomers as well as the public.

Based on the success of earlier maintenance missions, NASA decided to have a fifth service mission to Hubble; this was STS-125 flown on May 11, 2009. The maintenance and additions of equipment resulted in Hubble performance that is considerable better than planned in its origin. It is now expected that the Hubble will remain operational until its successor, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), is available in 2018.[12][13]

The Chandra X-ray Observatory, originating at MSFC, was launched on July 3, 1999, and is operated by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. With an angular resolution of 0.5 arcsecond (2.4 rad), it has a thousand times better resolution than the first orbiting X-ray telescopes. Its highly eliptical orbit allows continuous observations up 85 percent of the 65-hours in its orbital period. With its ability to make X-ray images of star clusters, supernova remnants, galactic eruptions, and collisions between clusters of galaxies, in its first decade of operation it has transformed astronomer’s view of the high-energy universe.[14]

The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, initially called the Gamma-Ray Large Area Space Telescope (GLAST), is an international and multi-agency space observatory used to study the cosmos It was launched June 11, 2008, with a design life of 5 years and the goal of 10 years. The primary instrument is the Large Area Telescope (LAT), that is sensitive in the photon energy range of 8 keV to greater than 300 GeV, and can view about 20% of the sky at any given moment.[15]

The LAT is complemented by the GLAST Burst Monitor (GBM); this can detect burst of X-rays and gamma rays in the 8-keV to 3-MeV energy range, overlapping with the LAT. The GBM is a collaborative effort between the National Space Science and Technology Center in the U.S. and the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Germany. MSFC manages the GBM, and Charles A. Meegan of MSFC is the Principal Investigator. Many new discoveries have been made in the initial period of operation. For example, on May 10, 2009, a burst was detected that, by its propagation characteristics, is believed to negate some approaches to a new theory of gravity.[16]

The Burst and Transient Source Experiment (BATSE), with Gerald J. Fishman of MSFC serving as Principal Investigator, is an ongoing examination of the many years of data from gamma-ray bursts, pulsars, and other transient gamma-ray phenomena.[17] The 2011 Shaw Prize, often called “Asia’s Nobel Prize,” was shared by Fishman and Italian astronomer Enrico Costa for their gamma-ray research.[18]

For 10 years, MSFC has supported activities in the U.S. Laboratory (Destiny) and elsewhere on the International Space Station through the Payload Operations Center (POC). The research activities include experiments on topics ranging from human physiology to physical science. Operating around the clock, scientists, engineers, and flight controllers in the POC link Earth-bound researchers throughout the world with their experiments and astronauts aboard the ISS. As of March 2011[update], this has included the coordination of more than 1,100 experiments conducted by 41 space-station crew members involved in over 6,000 hours of science research.

Teams at Marshall manage NASA’s programs for exploring the Sun, the Moon, the planets, and other bodies throughout our solar system. These have included Gravity Probe B, an experiment to test two predictions of Einstein’s general theory of relativity, and Solar-B, an international mission to study the solar magnetic field and origins of the solar wind, a phenomenon that affects radio transmission on the Earth. The MSFC Lunar Precursor and Robotic Program Office manages projects and directs studies on lunar robotic activities across NASA.

MSFC also develops systems for monitoring the Earth’s climate and weather patterns. At the Global Hydrology and Climate Center (GHCC), researchers combine data from Earth systems with satellite data to monitor biodiversity conservation and climate change, providing information that improves agriculture, urban planning, and water-resource management.[19]

On November 19, 2010, MSFC entered the new field of microsatellites with the successful launch of FASTSAT (Fast, Affordable, Science and Technology Satellite). Part of a joint DoD/NASA payload, it was launched by a Minotaur IV rocket from the Kodiak Launch Complex on Kodiak Island, Alaska. FASTSAT is a platform carrying multiple small payloads to low-Earth orbit, creating opportunities to conduct low-cost scientific and technology research on an autonomous satellite in space. FASTSAT, weighing just under 400 pounds (180kg), serves as a full scientific laboratory containing all the resources needed to carry out scientific and technology research operations. It was developed at the MSFC in partnership with the Von Braun Center for Science & Innovation and Dynetics, Inc., both of Huntsville, Alabama. Mark Boudreaux is the project manager for MSFC.

There are six experiments on the FASTSAT bus, including NanoSail-D2, which is itself a nanosatellite the first satellite launched from another satellite. It was deployed satisfactorily on January 21, 2011.[20]

In addition to supporting NASA’s key missions, the spinoffs from these activities at MSFC have contributed broadly to technologies that improve the Nation and the World. In the last decade alone, Marshall generated more than 60 technologies featured as NASA spinoffs. MSFC research has benefited firefighters, farmers, plumbers, healthcare providers, soldiers, teachers, pilots, divers, welders, architects, photographers, city planners, disaster relief workers, criminal investigators, and even video-gamers and golfers.[21]

The Space Shuttle is likely the most complex spacecraft ever built. Although MSFC was not responsible for developing the centerpiece the Orbiter Vehicle (OV) it was responsible for all of the rocket propulsion elements: the OV’s three main engines, the External Tank (ET), and the Solid-Rocket Boosters (SRBs). MSFC was also responsible for Spacelab, the research facility carried in the Shuttle’s cargo bay on certain flights. From the start of the program in 1972, the management and development of Space Shuttle propulsion was a major activity at MSFC. Alex A. McCool, Jr. was manager of MSFC’s Space Shuttle Projects Office.

Throughout 1980, engineers at MSFC participated in tests related to plans to launch the first Space Shuttle. During these early tests and prior to each later Shuttle launch, personnel in the Huntsville Operations Support Center monitored consoles to evaluate and help solve any problems at the Florida launch that might involve Shuttle propulsion

On April 12, 1981, Columbia made the first orbital test flight of a full Space Shuttle with two astronauts. This was designated STS-1 (Space Transportation System-1), and verified the combined performance of the entire system. This was followed by STS-2 on November 12, also using Columbia, primarily to demonstrate safe re-launch of a Shuttle. During 1982, two more test flights (STS-3 & STS-4) were made. STS-5, launched November 11, was the first operational mission; carrying four astronauts, two commercial satellite were deployed. In all three of these flights, on-board experiments were carried and conducted on pallets in the Shuttle’s cargo bay.[22]

Space Shuttle Challenger was launched on mission STS-51-L on January 28, 1986. (The sequential numbering changed after 1983, but otherwise this would have been STS-25). One-minute, 13-seconds into flight, the entire Challenger was enveloped in a fireball and broke into several large segments, killing the seven astronauts. Subsequent analysis of the high-speed tracking films and telemetry signals indicated that a leak occurred in a joint on one of the solid rocket boosters (SRBs), the escaping flame impinged on the surface of the external tank (ET); there followed a complex series of very rapid structural failures, and in milliseconds the hydrogen and oxygen streaming from the ruptured tank exploded.

The basic cause of the disaster was determined to be an O-ring failure in the right SRB; cold weather was a contributing factor. The redesign effort, directed by MSFC, involved an extensive test program to verify that the SRBs were safe. There were no Space Shuttle missions in the remainder of 1986 or in 1987. Flights resumed in September 1988, with sequential numbering starting with STS-26.

As a reusable space-launch vehicle, the space shuttles carried a wide variety of payloads from scientific research equipment to highly classified military satellites. The flights were assigned a Space Transportation System (STS) number, in general sequenced by the planned launch date. The Wikipedia list of space shuttle missions shows all flights, their missions, and other information.

The first orbital flight (STS-1) by Shuttle Columbia on April 12, 1981, did not have a payload, but all flights that followed generally had multiple payloads. Through 1989, there were 32 flights; this includes the one on January 28, 1986, when Challenger was lost, and the delay until September 29, 1988, when flights resumed. During the 1990s, there were 58 flights, giving a total of 95 successful flights through 1999.[23]

For the Magellan planetary spacecraft, MSFC managed the adaptation of the Inertial Upper Stage. This solid-rocket was used in May 1989 to propel the spacecraft from Orbiter Atlantis on a 15-month loop around the Sun and eventually into orbit around Venus for four years of radar surface-mapping.

Many Shuttle flights carried equipment for performing on-board research. Such equipment was accommodated in two forms: on pallets or other arrangements in the Shuttle’s cargo bay (most often in addition to hardware for the primary mission), or within a reusable laboratory called Skylab. All such experimental payloads were under the general responsibility of MSFC.

Pallet experiments covered a very wide spread of types and complexity, but many of them were in fluid physics, materials science, biotechnology, combustion science, and commercial space processing. For some missions, an aluminum bridge fitting across the cargo bay was used. This could carry 12 standard canisters holding isolated experiments, particularly those under the Getaway Special (GAS) program. GAS flights were made available at low cost to colleges and universities, American industries, individuals, foreign governments, and others.

On some flights, a variety of pallet experiments constituted the full payload; examples of these include the following:

In addition to the pallet experiments, many other experiments were flown and performed using Spacelab. This was a reusable laboratory consisting of multiple components, including a pressurized module, an unpressurized carrier, and other related hardware. Under a program managed by MSFC, ten Europeans nations jointly designed, built, and financed the first Spacelab through the European Space Research Organisation (ESRO. In addition, Japan funded a Spacelab for STS-47, a dedicated mission.[24]

Over a 15-year period, Spacelab components flew on 22 shuttle missions, the last in April 1998. Examples of Spacelab missions follow:

In early 1990, MSFC’s new Spacelab Mission Operations Control Center took over the responsibility for controlling all Spacelab missions. This replaced the Payload Operations Control Center formerly situated at the JSC from which previous Spacelab missions were operated.[25]

The advent of the Space Shuttle made possible several major space programs in which MSFC had significant responsibilities. These were the International Space Station, the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, and the Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory. The latter three are part of NASA’s series of Great Observatories; this series also includes the Spitzer Space Telescope, but this was not launched by a Space Shuttle and MSFC had no significant role in its development.

A manned space station had long been in the plans of visionaries. Wernhar von Braun, in his widely read Collier’s Magazine 1953 article, envisioned this to be a huge wheel, rotating to produce gravity-like forces on the occupants.[26] In Project Horizon, prepared by the U.S. Army in 1959, a space station would be built by assembling spent booster rockets. Following this same basic concept, in 1973 MSFC used a modified stage of Saturn V to put into orbit Skylab, but this was preceded by the Soviet Union’s Salyut in 1971, then followed by their Mir in 1986. Even during Skylab, MSFC began plans for a much more complete space station. President Ronald Reagan announced plans to build Space Station Freedom in 1984. Luther B. Powell was MSFC’s space station program manager.

By the late 1990s, planning for four different stations were underway: the American Freedom, the Soviet/Russian Mir-2, the European Columbus, and the Japanese Kib. In June 1992, with the Cold War over, American President George H. W. Bush and Russian President Boris Yeltsin agreed to cooperate on space exploration. Then in September 1993, American Vice-President Al Gore, Jr., and Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin announced plans for a new space station. In November, plans for Freedom, Mir-2, and the European and Japanese modules were incorporated into a single International Space Station. Boeing began as NASA’s prime contractor for U.S. hardware in January 1995.

The ISS is composed of a number of modules, sharing primary power from large arrays of solar power cells. The first module, Zarya from Russia, was delivered to orbit by a Proton rocket on November 20, 1998. On December 4, the first Anmerican component, Unity, a connecting module, was carried up by Space Shuttle Endeavour on flight STS-88; it was then joined with Zarya to form an embrionic ISS. Unity was built by Boeing in MSFC facilities. Additional building supplies were carried to the ISS in May 1999, aboard STS-96.

The ISS continued to be assembled throughout the next decade, and has been continuously occupied since February 7, 2001. In March 2010, Boeing completed its contract and officially turned over to NASA the U.S. on-orbit segment of the ISS.

Shortly after NASA was formed, the Orbiting Solar Observatory was launched, and was followed by the Orbiting Astronomical Observatory (OAO) that carried out ultraviolet observations of stars between 1968 and 1972. These showed the value of space-based astronomy, and led to the planning of the Large Space Telescope (LST) that would be launched and maintained from the forthcoming space shuttle. Budget limitations almost killed the LST, but the astronomy community especially Lyman Spitzer and the National Science Foundation pressed for a major program in this area. Congress finally funded LST in 1978, with an intended launch date of 1983.

MSFC was given responsibility for the design, development, and construction of the telescope, while Goddard Space Flight Center (GFC) was to control the scientific instrument and the ground-control center. As the Project Scientist, MSFC brought on board C. Robert ODell, then chairman of the Astronomy Department at the University of Chicago. Several different people, at various times, served as the project manager. The telescope assembly was designed as a Cassegrain reflector with hyperbolic mirror polished to be diffraction limited; the primary mirror had a diameter of 2.4 m (95in). The mirrors were developed by the optics firm, Perkin-Elmer. MSFC did not have a facility to check the end-to-end performance of the mirror assembly, so the telescope could not be totally checked until launched and placed in service.[27]

The LST was named the Hubble Space Telescope in 1983, the original launch date. There were many problems, delays, and cost increases in the program, and the Challenger disaster delayed the availability of the launch vehicle. Finally, on April 24, 1990, on Mission STS-31, Shuttle Discovery launched the Hubble telescope successfully into its planned orbit. Almost immediately it was realized that the optical performance was not as expected; analysis of the flawed images showed that the primary mirror had been ground to the wrong shape, resulting in spherical aberration.

Fortunately, the Hubble telescope had been designed to allow in-space maintenance, and in December 1993, mission STS-61 carried astronauts to the Hubble to make corrections and change some components. A second repair mission, STS-82, was made in February 1997, and a third, STS-103, in December 1999. For these repair missions, the astronauts practiced the work in MSFC’s Neutral Buoyancy Facility, simulating the weightless environment of space.

Through the 1990s, the Hubble did provide astronomy images that had never before been seen. During the next decade, two additional repair missions were made (March 2002 and in May 2009), eventually bringing the telescope to even better that its initially intended performance.

Even before HEAO-2 (the Einstein Observatory) was launched in 1978, MSFC began preliminary studies for a larger X-ray telescope. To support this effort, in 1976 an X-Ray Test Facility, the only one of its size, was constructed at Marshall for verification testing and calibration of X-ray mirrors, telescope systems, and instruments. With the success of HEAO-2, MSFC was given responsibility for the design, development, and construction of what was then known as the Advanced X-ray Astrophysics Facility (AXAF). The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) partners with MSFC, providing the science and operational management.

Work on the AXAF continued through the 1980s. A major review was held in 1992, resulting in many changes; four of the twelve planned mirrors were eliminated, as were two of the six scientific instruments. The planned circular orbit was changed to an elliptical one, reaching one-third of the way to the Moon at its farthest point; this eliminated the possibility of improvement or repair using the Space Shuttle, but it placed the spacecraft above the Earth’s radiation belts for most of its orbit.

AXAF was renamed Chandra X-ray Observatory in 1998. It was launched July 23, 1999, by the Shuttle Columbia (STS-93). An Inertial Upper Stage booster adapted by MSFC was used to transport Chandra to its high orbit Weighing about 22,700kg (50,000lb), this was the heaviest payload ever launched by a Shuttle. Operationally managed by the SAO, Chandra has been returning excellent data since being activated. It initially had an expected life of five years, but this has now been extended to 15 years or longer.[28]

The Compton Gamma Ray Observatory (CGRO) is another of NASA’s Great Observatories; it was launched April 5, 1991, on Shuttle flight STS-37. At 37,000lb (17,000kg), it was the heaviest astrophysical payload ever flown at that time. CGRO was14 years in development by NASA; TRW was the builder. Gamma radiation (rays) is the highest energy-level of electromagnetic radiation, having energies above 100 keV and thus frequencies above 10 exahertz (1019 Hz). This is produced by sub-atomic particle interactions, including those in certain astrophysical processes. The continuous flow of cosmic rays bombarding space objects, such as the Moon, generate this radiation Gamma rays also result in bursts from nuclear reactions. The CGRO was designed to image continuous radiation and to detect bursts.

MSFC was responsible for the Burst and Transient Source Experiment, (BATSE). This triggered on sudden changes in gamma count-rates lasting 0.1 to 100 s; it was also capable of detecting less impulsive sources by measuring their modulation using the Earth occultation technique. In nine years of operation, BATSE triggered about 8000 events, of which some 2700 were strong bursts that were analyzed to have come from distant galaxies.

Unlike the Hubble Space Telescope, the CGRO was not designed for on-orbit repair and refurbishment. Thus, after one of its gyroscopes failed, NASA decided that a controlled crash was preferable to letting the craft come down on its own at random. On June 4, 2000, it was intentionally de-orbited, with the debris that did not burn up falling harmlessly into the Pacific Ocean. At MSFC, Gerald J. Fishman is the principal investigator of a project to continue examination of data from BATSE and other gamma-ray projects. The 2011 Shaw Prize was shared by Fishman and Italian Enrico Costa for their gamma-ray research.

Shortly before activating its new Field Center in July 1960, NASA described the MSFC as the only self-contained organization in the nation that was capable of conducting the development of a space vehicle from the conception of the idea, through production of hardware, testing, and launching operations.

Initially, engineers from Huntsville traveled to Florida to conduct launch activities at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The first NASA launch facility there (Launch Complex 39) was designed and operated by MSFC, then in on July 1, 1962, the overall site achieving equal status with other NASA centers and was named the Launch Operations Center, later renamed the Kennedy Space Center (KSC).

Another major NASA facility, the Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC) located near Houston, Texas, was officially opened in September 1963. Designated the primary center for U.S. space missions and systems involving astronauts, it coordinates and monitors crewed missions through the Mission Control Center. MSC was renamed the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center (JSC) in February 1973. Through the years, there have been a number of turf battles between MSFC and MSC/JSC concerning mission responsibilities.

When the Marshall Space Flight Center began official operations in July 1960, Wernher von Braun was the Director and Eberhard Rees was his Deputy for Research and Development. The administrative activities in MSFC were led by persons with backgrounds in traditional U.S. Government functions, but all of the technical heads were individuals who had assisted von Braun in his success at ABMA. The initial technical activities and leaders at MSFC were as follows:[29]

With the exception of Koelle, all of the technical leaders had come to the United States under Operation Paperclip after working together at Peenemnde. Von Braun knew well the capabilities of these individuals and had great confidence in them. This confidence was shown to be appropriate; in the following decade of developing hardware and technical operations that established new levels of complexity, there was never a single failure of their designs during manned flight.

The initial projects at MSFC were primarily continuations of work initiated earlier at ABMA. Of immediate importance was the final preparation of a Redstone rocket that, under Project Mercury would lift a space capsule carrying the first American into space. Originally scheduled to take place in October 1960, this was postponed several time and on May 5, 1961, astronaut Alan Shepard made America’s first sub-orbital spaceflight. The delays led to a circumstance similar to that of the first satellite; on April 12, 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin had become the first person to orbit the Earth.

By 1965, MSFC had about 7,500 government employees. In addition, most of the prime contractors for launch vehicles and related major items (including North American Aviation, Chrysler, Boeing, Douglas Aircraft, Rocketdyne, and IBM) collectively had approximately a similar number of employees working in MSFC facilities.

Several support contracting firms were also involved in the programs; the largest of these was Brown Engineering Company (BECO, later Teledyne Brown Engineering), the first high-technology firm in Huntsville and by this time having some 3,500 employees. In the Saturn-Apollo activities, BECO/TBE provided about 20-million manhours of support. Milton K. Cummings was the BECO president, Joseph C. Moquin the executive vice president, William A. Girdini led the engineering design and test work, and Raymond C. Watson, Jr., directed the research and advanced systems activities. Cummings Research Park, the second largest park of this type in the Nation, was named for Cummings in 1973.

On May 25, 1961, just 20 days after Shepard’s flight, President John F. Kennedy committed the Nation to “achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth”.[30] In what would be called the Apollo Program, the primary mission of MSFC was developing the heavy-lift rockets the Saturn family. This required the development and equalization of three new liquid-fueled rocket engines, the J-2, the F-1, and the H-1 (rocket engine); in addition, an existing engine, the RL10, was improved for use on Saturns. Leland F. Belew managed the Engine Development Office.[31] The F-1 engine was, and still is the most powerful single-nozzle liquid-fueled rocket engine ever used in service; each produced 1.5-million-pounds thrust. Originally started by the U.S. Air Force, responsibility for the development was taken over by ABMA in 1959, and the first test firings at MSFC were in December 1963.

The original vehicle, designated Saturn I, consisted of two propulsion stages and an instrument unit; it was first tested in flight on October 27, 1961. The first stage (S-I) had a cluster of eight H-1 engines, giving approximately 1.5-million-pounds thrust total. The four outboard engines were gimbaled to allow vehicle steering. The second stage (SIV) had six gimbaled LR10A-3 engines, producing a combined 90-thousand-pounds thrust. Ten Saturn Is were used in flight-testing of Apollo boilerplate units. Five of the test flights also carried important auxiliary scientific experiments.

The Saturn IB (alternatively known as the Uprated Saturn I) also had two propulsion stages and an instrument unit. The first stage (S-IB) also had eight H-1 engines with four gimballed, but the stage had eight fixed fins of equal size fitted to the sides to provide aerodynamic stability. The second stage (S-IVB) had a single J-2 engine that gave a more powerful 230-thousand-pounds thrust. The J-2 was gimbaled and could also be restarted during flight. The vehicle was first flight-tested on February 26, 1966. Fourteen Saturn 1Bs (or partial vehicles) were built, with five used in unmanned testing and five others used in manned missions, the last on July 15, 1975.

The Saturn V was the pinnacle of developments at MSFC. This was an expendable, man-rated heavy-lift vehicle that was the most vital element in the Apollo Program. Designed under the direction of Arthur Rudolph, the Saturn V holds the record as the largest and most powerful launch vehicle ever brought to operational status from a combined height, weight, and payload standpoint.

The Saturn V consisted of three propulsion stages and an instrument unit. The first stage (S-IC), had five F-1 engines, giving a combined total of 7.5-million-pounds thrust. These engines were arranged in a cross pattern, with the center engine fixed and the outer four gimballed. The second stage (S-II), had five J-2 engines with the same arrangement as the F-1s and giving a total of 1.0-million-pounds thrust. The third stage (S-IVB) had a single gimballed J-2 engine with 200-thousand-pounds thrust. As previously noted, the J-2 engine could be restarted in flight. The basic configuration for this heavy-lift vehicle was selected in early 1963, and the name Saturn V was applied at that time (configurations that might have led to Saturn II, III, and IV were discarded).

The Apollo Spacecraft was atop the launch vehicle, and was composed of the Lunar Module (LM) and the Command/Service Module (CSM) inside the Spacecraft Lunar Module Adapter, with the Launch Escape System at the very top. The Apollo Spacecraft and its components were developed by other NASA centers, but were flight-tested on Saturn I and IB vehicles from MSFC.

While the three propulsion stages were the “muscle” of the Saturn V, the Instrument Unit (IU) was the “brains.” The IU was on a 260-inch (6.6-m) diameter, 36-inch (91-cm) high, ring that was held between the third propulsion stage and the LM. It contained the basic guidance system components a stable platform, accelerometers, a digital computer, and control electronics as well as radar, telemetry, and other units. Basically the same IU configuration was used on the Saturn I and IB. With IBM as the prime contractor, the IU was the only full Saturn component manufactured in Huntsville.

The first Saturn V test flight was made on November 9, 1967. On July 16, 1969, as its crowning achievement in the Apollo space program, a Saturn V vehicle lifted the Apollo 11 spacecraft and three astronauts on their journey to the Moon. Other Apollo launches continued through December 6, 1972. The last Saturn V flight was on May 14, 1973, in the Skylab Program (described later). A total of 15 Saturn Vs were built; 13 functioned flawlessly, and the other two (intended as backup) remain unused.

Wernher von Braun believed that the personnel designing the space vehicles should have direct, hands-on participation in the building and testing of the hardware. For this, MSFC had facilities comparable with the best to be found in private industries. Included were precision machine shops, giant metal-forming and welding machines, and all types of inspection equipment. For every type of Saturn vehicle, one or more prototypes were fabricated in MSFC shops. Large, special-purpose computers were used in the checkout procedures.

Static test towers had been constructed at ABMA for the Redstone and Jupiter rockets. In 1961, the Jupiter stand was modified to test Saturn 1 and 1B stages. A number of other test stands followed, the largest being the Saturn V Dynamic Test Stand completed in 1964. At 475 feet (145m) in height, the entire Saturn V could be accommodated. Also completed in 1964, the S1C Static Test Stand was for live firing of the five F-1 engines of the first stage. Delivering a total of 7.5-million-pounds thrust, the tests produced earthquake-like rumbles throughout the Huntsville area and could be heard as far as 100 miles (160km) away.[32]

As the Saturn activities progressed, external facilities were needed. In 1961, The Michoud Plant near New Orleans, Louisiana, was selected as the Saturn production site. A 13,500 acres (55km2) isolated area in Hancock County, Mississippi was selected to conduct Saturn tests. Known as the Mississippi Test Facility (later renamed the John C. Stennis Space Center), this was primarily to test the vehicles built at the Michoud Plant.

On January 5, 1972, President Richard M. Nixon announced plans to develop the Space Shuttle, a reusable Space Transportation System (STS) for routine access to space. The Shuttle was composed of the Orbiter Vehicle (OV) containing the crew and payload, two Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs), and the External Tank (ET) that carried liquid fuel for the OV’s main engines. MSFC was responsible for the SRBs, the OV’s three main engines, and the ET. The Center also received responsibility for Spacelab, a versatile laboratory that would be carried on some flights within the Shuttle’s cargo bay. Other assignments included the adaptation of the Inertial Upper Stage Booster, a two-stage rocket that would lift Shuttle payloads into higher orbits or interplanetary voyages.

The first test firing of an OV main engine was in 1975. Two years later, the first firing of a SRB took place and tests on the ET began at MSFC. The first Enterprise OV flight, attached to a Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA an extensively modified Boeing 747), was in February 1977; this as followed by a free landings in August and October. In March 1978, the Enterprise OV was flown atop a SCA to MSFC. Mated to an ET, the partial Space Shuttle was hoisted onto the modified Saturn V Dynamic Test Stand where it was subjected to a full range of vibrations comparable to those in a launch. The second space shuttle, Columbia, was completed and placed at the KSC for checking and launch preparation. On April 12, 1981, the Columbia made the first orbital test flight.

From the start, MSFC has had strong research projects in science and engineering. Two of the early activities, Highwater and Pegasus, were performed on a non-interference basis while testing the Saturn I vehicle.

In Project Highwater, the dummy second stage was filled with 23,000 US gallons (87m3) of water as ballast, and, after burnout of the first stage, explosive charges released the water into the upper atmosphere. The project answered questions about the diffusion of liquid propellants in the event that a rocket was destroyed at high altitude. Highwater experiments were carried out in April and November,1962.

Under the Pegasus Satellite Program, the second stage was instrumented to study the frequency and penetration depth of micrometeoroids. Two large panels were folded into the empty stage and, when in orbit, unfolded to present 2,300-square-feet (210-m2) of instrumented surface. Three Pegasus satellites were launched during 1965, and stayed in orbit from 3 to 13 years.

The overall Apollo Program was the largest scientific and engineering research activity in history. The actual landing on the Moon led to investigations that could have only been conducted on location. There were six Apollo missions that landed on the Moon: Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17. Apollo 13 had been intended as a landing, but only circled the Moon and returned to Earth after an oxygen tank ruptured and crippled power in the CSM.

Except for Apollo 11, all of the missions carried an Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP), composed of equipment for seven scientific experiments plus a central control station (they were controlled from the Earth) with a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG). Scientists from MSFC were among the co-investigators.

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Basics of Space Flight – NASA Solar System Exploration

The people of Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory create, manage, and operate NASA projects of exploration throughout our solar system and beyond.

Basics of Space Flight is a tutorial designed primarily to help operations people identify the range of concepts associated with deep space missions, and grasp the relationships among them. It also enjoys popularity with college and high-school students and faculty, and people everywhere who are interested in interplanetary space flight.

Basics of Space Flight is intended to be used online via the worldwide web (http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/basics). Links to external sites provide further depth to many topics. There are interactive quizzes to let you check your own progress. No records are kept, nor does Caltech offer academic credit for this training.

Interplanetary exploration begins . . .

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Basics of Space Flight – NASA Solar System Exploration

Space Flight – Capabilities | SNC | Sierra Nevada Corporation

Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Space Systems, with four product lines, provides a depth and breadth of experience unmatched in the aerospace industry. Our capabilities range from spacecraft actuators that power the Mars rovers, to hybrid rocket technologies that powered the first commercial astronaut to space, and from microsatellites controlled by the Internet to Dream Chaser, a winged and piloted orbital commercial spacecraft.

Learn more about SNC’s Space Systems at http://www.SNCSpace.com

SNC Statement in Response to Inquiries Regarding Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo Incident

The Spacecraft Systems capability provides small satellites to meet commercial, civil, and military mission requirements using common bus structures and components that are rapidly customized as needed for different mission applications.

The Propulsion Systems capability offers safe, green, reliable and low-cost propulsion solutions for space vehicles, satellites and small to medium launch vehicle propulsion systems.

The Space Exploration Systems capability is leading an effort to create a low-cost, safe commercial crew transportation service to and from low Earth orbit, including the International Space Station (ISS).

The Space Technologies capability supplies critical components to such important national security programs as Advanced EHF, Mobile User Objective System, Space-Based InfraRed System, and commercial imagery systems (GeoEye, Ikonos, Worldview).

For more information about SNC Space Systems products and capabilities, please contact:

Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Space Systems 1722 Boxelder Street, Suite 102 Louisville, CO 80027 Office: (303) 530-1925 Toll Free: (888) 530-1926 Fax: (303) 530-2401 Email: Space Systems

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Basics of Space Flight

The people of Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory create, manage, and operate NASA projects of exploration throughout our solar system and beyond.

Basics of Space Flight is a tutorial designed primarily to help operations people identify the range of concepts associated with deep space missions, and grasp the relationships among them. It also enjoys popularity with college and high-school students and faculty, and people everywhere who are interested in interplanetary space flight.

Basics of Space Flight is intended to be used online via the worldwide web (http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/basics). Links to external sites provide further depth to many topics. There are interactive quizzes to let you check your own progress. No records are kept, nor does Caltech offer academic credit for this training.

Interplanetary exploration begins . . .


Basics of Space Flight

Flight of the Conchords Ep 6 Bowie’s In Space – YouTube

Bowie’s in space Bowie’s in space What you doing out there, man? That’s pretty freaky, Bowie Isn’t it cold out in space, Bowie? Do you want to borrow my jumper, Bowie? Does the space cold make your nipples go pointy, Bowie? Do you use your pointy nipples as telescopic antennae to transmit data back to Earth? Bet you do, you freaky old bastard you Hey Bowie, do you have one really funky sequined space suit? Or do you have several ch-changes? Do you smoke grass out in space, Bowie? Or do they smoke Astroturf? Ooh! Receiving transmission from David Bowie’s nipple antennae Do you read me, Lieutenant Bowie? This is Bowie to Bowie Do you hear me out there, man? This is Bowie back to Bowie I read you loud and clear, man Ooh yeah, man! Your signal’s weak on my radar screen How far out are you, man? I’m pretty far out That’s pretty far out, man Ooh- ah- ooh! I’m orbiting Pluto Ooh- ah- ooh! Drawn in by its groovitational (Groovitational pull) I’m jamming out with the Mick Jagger-nauts Ooh, and they think it’s pretty cool Are you okay, Bowie? What was that sound? I don’t know, man Ooh, it’s the craziest scene Yeah, I’m picking it up on my LSD screen Can you see the stratosphere ringing? To the choir of Afronauts singing Bowie’s in space Bowie’s in space Bowie Bowie Bowie Bowie Bowie Bowie Bowie’s in space Bowie Bowie Bowie Bowie Bowie Bowie Eena-ma-ma-meena-mina-mowie Phasers on funky Eena-ma-ma-meena-mina-mowie Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-Bowie’s in Space

Lyrics credit: whatthefolk.net

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Flight of the Conchords Ep 6 Bowie’s In Space – YouTube

Commercial Space Flight | NASA

A little more than one year after the end of the Space Shuttle Program, an industry partner began resupplying the space station with cargo launched from the U.S, and another supplier is poised to come online soon. Under this budget, the American cargo resupply program is funded to keep these operations on track.

Pictured here: In preparation for its inaugural flight, NASA commercial partner Orbital Sciences Corp. rolls out the first fully integrated Antares rocket to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad-0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Saturday, April 6, 2013. Orbital is testing its Antares under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. NASA initiatives like COTS are helping develop a robust U.S. commercial space transportation industry with the goal of achieving safe, reliable and cost-effective transportation to and from the space station and low-Earth orbit.

Image Credit: NASA

Page Last Updated: July 28th, 2013 Page Editor: NASA Administrator

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List of spaceflight records – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This is a list of spaceflight records. Most of these records relate to human spaceflights, but some unmanned and animal records are included.

Note: While Young has made six spaceflights, he was launched seven times if his moon ascent on Apollo 16 is counted.

* Dual citizen.

* Two were internal “spacewalks” inside a depressurized module.

The following is a list of the 50 space travelers with the most total time in space, as of 13 September 2015.[31] Travelers currently in space are ranked by total time in space of their completed missions only.

Soyuz and Soyuz/Mir: Musa Manarov, Viktor Afanasyev Russia Toyohiro Akiyama Japan

Soyuz/Mir: Vladimir Dezhurov, Gennady Strekalov Russia Norman E. Thagard USA

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Space Adventures, Ltd. | Home

November 18, 2014

Reasons you should fly to space

At Space Adventures we are often asked why private citizens should fly to space. So I asked our previous spaceflight client, Richard Garriott, who spent 12 days on the International

October 7, 2014

10 Best Photos of Earth Taken By Astronauts

Pictures Taken From Space Provide a Look into the Space Travel Experience Since the first astronauts returned with photos showing our planet from a new perspective, our desire to see

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Taking the Next Step for Mankind

Forty-Five Years After the First Landing, Sights are Set for the Moon Once Again. On July 20, 1969 (45 years ago on Sunday), Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the

July 10, 2014

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Soprano Sarah Brightman Puts off Her Space Flight – ABC News

A company helping British soprano Sarah Brightman prepare a flight to the International Space Station says she has put off the mission.

Space Adventures said in a statement Wednesday that the 54-year-old singer announced that “for personal family reasons her intentions have had to change and she is postponing her cosmonaut training and flight plans at this time.”

Brightman, who was to blast off to the station in a Russian Soyuz rocket on Sept. 1, said in March that she is working with composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, her ex-husband, to create a song she will sing in space.

Brightman’s decision followed last month’s launch failure of an unmanned Russian cargo spaceship, which was caused by a leak of propellant tanks in the Soyuz rocket carrying it into orbit.

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Soprano Sarah Brightman Puts off Her Space Flight – ABC News

Spaceflight.com | Space News


NASA says its latest Mars-exploring spacecraft is on track to fire up its thrusters and enter orbit this Sunday night, completing a 10-month journey of 442 million miles.


Space Launch System (SLS) managers are continuing to look at potential and as yet unfunded science missions to provide their monster rocket with a viable number of flights. The flight rate dilemma was recently highlighted when it was admitted NASA had looked into how slow a launch rate could be viable for the rocket that is expected to make her debut in 2018.

Read more:http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2014/08/sls-missions-solve-flight-rate-dilemma/




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Space flight simulator game – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A space flight simulator game is a genre of flight simulator video games that lets players experience space flight. Examples of true simulators which aim at piloting a space craft in a manner that conforms with the laws of nature include Orbiter and Microsoft Space Simulator.

Other games involving space flight in 3D space, without restricting movement to a physics system and realistic behaviour, are also commonly called “space flight simulators”. They aren’t simulators in the strictest sense of the word. These games do differ from space-based arcade oriented shoot ’em up games that use side-scrolling or top-down perspectives. When the genre appeared in the early 1980s, the use of 3D graphics and 1st person perspective, with the player viewing out of the cockpit, gave a sense of realism. This the designation of space flight simulators, even though a better name for these games would be “pseudo simulators” or “space flight games”. Most space combat simulators and space trading simulators can be placed in the “pseudo space flight simulator” category.

Space flight games and simulators, at one time popular, had for most of the new millennium been considered a “dead” genre.[1][2][3][4][5] However, open-source and enthusiast communities managed to produce some working, modern titles (see the free Orbiter Spaceflight Simulator), and 2011’s commercially released Kerbal Space Program was notably well-received, even by the aerospace community.[6]

Some games in the genre have the aim of recreating a realistic portrayal of space flight, involving the calculation of orbits within a more complete physics simulation than pseudo space flight simulators. Others focus on gameplay rather than simulating space flight in all its facets. The realism of the latter games is limited to what the game designer deems to be appropriate for the gameplay, instead of focusing on the realism of moving the spacecraft in space. Some “flight models” use a physics system based on Newtonian physics, but these are usually limited to manoeuvring the craft in its direct environment, and do not take into consideration the orbital calculations that would make such a game a simulator. Most of the pseudo simulators feature faster than light travel.

Realistic space simulators seek to represent a vessel’s behaviour under the influence of the Laws of Physics. As such, the player normally concentrates on following checklists or planning tasks. Piloting is generally limited to dockings, landings or orbital maneuvers. The reward for the player is on mastering real or realistic spacecraft, celestial mechanics and astronautics.

Classical games with this approach include Space Shuttle: A Journey into Space (1982), Rendezvous: A Space Shuttle Simulation (1982),[7]The Halley Project (1985), Shuttle (1992) and Microsoft Space Simulator (1994).

If the definition is expanded to include decision making and planning, then Buzz Aldrin’s Race Into Space (1992) is also notable for historical accuracy and detail. On this game the player takes the role of Administrator of NASA or Head of the Soviet Space Program with the ultimate goal of being the first side to conduct a successful manned moon landing.

Most recently Orbiter and Space Shuttle Mission 2007 provide more elaborate simulations, with realistic 3D virtual cockpits and external views.

Kerbal Space Program can be considered a space simulator, even though it portrays an imaginary universe with tweaked physics, masses and distances to enhance gameplay. Nevertheless, the physics and rocket design principles are much more realistic than in the space combat or trading subgenres.

The game Lunar Flight simulates flying around the lunar surface in a craft resembling the Apollo Lunar Module.

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Space flight simulator game – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia