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Wednesday, 9 July 2008


Not much change from what i said last month although I have updated and added a few more things that maybe of interest and worth considering.....

Comet 17P/Holmes: has now faded to beyond magnitude 6 and is not Observable as it is in Conjuction with the Sun-I think by now we have all seen the best of that one.
C/2007 Comet Boattini which attained a reasonable Magnitude 9 by the beginning of May this year should return in the very early morning Twilight during mid July this month when it may attain a better Magnitude of 6.9 to 7, it should be a good small Telescope or Binocular object to be observed and picked out probably best to look in the Eastern early morning sky after mid Month around 01.00 Hours U.T in the Constellation of Cetus close to the border of Taurus but from then on it will fade and be beyond magnitude 10 by the end of the Summer around late August so it has not been a very good viewing window for this one either side of the Summer Solistice but its one I will be looking out for during this month-I didn't get to see this in the early part of May in the Western Evening skies but I hope to get to see this one in the early morning skies of July.
Comet Mc Naught 2008 A1 is brightning in the Southern Skies in the Consellation of Puppis and may become magnitude 7.6 during the latter part of September but will still remain a Southern sky Comet
Another Comet that may become Binocular Bright in 2009 of next year is Comet C/ N3 Lulin which will become Observable after the new year 2009 in January in the early morning skies around magnitude 8 becoming Binocular bright in the Winter skies of Feburary whilst entering the Evening skies around the 12th of that month and becoming a good viewing Object around magnitude 5.9 on the 20th moving from Virgo into Leo and not starting to fade much before mid March when it will be Magnitude 8.5.
There are still around 16 other Comets worldwide to be observed by amature astronomers at the moment but with Magnitude ranges of 11 to 14 are a little too faint to be seen in the Summer twilight skies for us amature Observers.
As I have reported once before if I do see and Observe any of these Comets I will send out text and Email alerts to notify Observers in where best to look for these Comets once they appear.
Jupiter: at opposition on 9th July (tomorrow) now well placed in the late evening skies to the South East and South-worth looking through a smal telescope to see its Galilean Moons that continually dance around the planet.

THE MOON: New Moon occured on 3rd July, First quarter will be on the 10th July, full Moon will occur on the 18th July, last quarter occurs on the 25th July and new Moon is on 1st of August making it 2 new Moons in the Month of August with the last new Moon occuring on 30th August.
Moonweek: will be 20th July to 26th July in 2009 to celebrate 40th anniversary of the Moon landings which will be in a years time (planning-ideas for Lyra?)
and also 2009 will be the International year of Astronomy (ideas?)
I.S.S Will be better seen in the latter part of this Month and there will be some good late evening passes worth looking out for towards the end of this Month into early August depending on how it is boosted to keep its Orbit-there are hardly any passes for August though. 

16th July will be 21.40 Hours
31st July will be 21.19 Hours
16th August will be 20.50 Hours
31st August will be 20.18 Hours
Good Clear skies.....

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Spaceflight Now | STS-125 Shuttle Report | NASA sets schedule for remaining shuttle flights

NASA sets schedule for remaining shuttle flights
Posted: July 7, 2008
NASA today unveiled a revised manifest for the final 10 flights in the space shuttle program, reflecting previously forecast delays across the board because of post-Columbia external tank safety upgrades that have stretched out deliveries. But shuttle Program Manager John Shannon said he's confident NASA can complete the space station and retire the shuttle fleet in 2010 as planned.

"There are challenges with that, that's really a no-contingency-days, no-big-problems kind of schedule," he told CBS News in a telephone interview. Even so, he added, "I think we have a very credible plan to get done, with some margin at the end of it."
Two more shuttle flights are planned this year, in October and November, five in 2009 and a final three missions in the first half of 2010 to bring the program to a close.
NASA had planned to retire the shuttle Atlantis after a final Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission in October, but the orbiter will make two more flights beyond that, one in 2009 and another in 2010, to provide additional processing margin. Atlantis and Discovery will fly three more times each and the shuttle Endeavour will make four more flights, including the 10th and final mission.
"The original rationale (for retiring Atlantis) was that we would take Atlantis down, it would save some money for the program and we would use it as a spares option for us," Shannon said. "We looked at our spares posture, and it was pretty good, it did not look like there was any pressing need to retire Atlantis.
"From a money standpoint, we were able to continue flying and continue processing Atlantis at no additional cost to the program and that is because we were ramping down all of our return-to-flight efforts and we had gotten more efficient in ground ops processing. So it did not cost us any additional money and on the positive side, it gives us a tremendous amount of manifest flexibility. It makes it much more feasible to finish the program on time."
Unlike Endeavour and Discovery, Atlantis is not equipped with a space station-to-shuttle power transfer system to tap into the station's solar power grid. But Shannon said the two station flights planned for Atlantis do not require the additional docked time the power transfer system provides and "it made a lot of sense to keep Atlantis flying."
Here is the revised manifest:

08/10/08: STS-125/Atlantis
Hubble Space Telescope Servicing Mission No. 4; 5 spacewalks
10/11/08: STS-126/Endeavour/ISS-ULF2
Starboard solar array rotary mechanism servicing; logistics/resupply; 4 spacewalks
12/02/09: STS-119/Discovery/ISS-15A
S6 solar arrays; 4 spacewalks
15/05/09: STS-127/Endeavour/ISS-2JA
Kibo Exposed Facility; solar array batteries; 5 spacewalks
30/07/09: STS-128/Atlantis/ISS-17A
Multi-purpose logistics module; lab racks; 3 spacewalks
15/10/09: STS-129/Discovery/ISS-ULF3
Spare gyros, other spares; at least 3 spacewalks
10/12/09: STS-130/Endeavour/ISS-20A
Node 3 connecting module, cupola; at least 3 spacewalks
11/02/10: STS-131/Atlantis/ISS-19A
Multi-purpose logistics module; science racks; at least 3 spacewalks; Atlantis' last flight
08/04/10: STS-132/Discovery/ISS-ULF4
Russian research module; spares; at least 3 spacewalks; Discovery's last flight
31/05/10: STS-133/Endeavour/ISS-ULF5
Spares; at least three spacewalks; Endeavour's last flight

During a May 1 briefing to preview the just-completed flight of the shuttle Discovery, Shannon announced that STS-125, the Hubble servicing mission, would slip from August to October and the subsequent flight, STS-126, would slip from October to November. He said STS-119, which had been scheduled for launch in December, would move into 2009, all because of external tank processing issues. At that time, no other target dates were revealed pending additional assessment of tank delivery schedules.
The tank used by Discovery for the most recent shuttle launch on May 31 was the first to be built from scratch with post-Columbia safety upgrades and it took engineers at Lockheed Martin's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans additional time to perfect and implement required manufacturing techniques.
Those issues were compounded for the upcoming launch of Atlantis on NASA's final planned Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission. Shuttle crews bound for the international space station have the option of "safe haven" aboard the lab complex, where they can await rescue by another shuttle if any Columbia-class problems occur that might prevent a safe re-entry. That is not possible for the Hubble repair crew because the telescope is in a different orbit and the shuttle cannot reach the station from there.
As a result, NASA plans to have a second shuttle ready for launch on short notice in case of any major problems and that, in turn, means two tanks will be needed.
In May, Shannon said the changes to the way external tanks are built "added about four to five weeks of processing time on those two tanks. The tank team has done a really nice job of taking the lessons learned processing the tank that's about to fly, and the Hubble tank. So I don't expect that to (expand the time needed) on each of the downstream tanks. They have a mitigation plan in place so that the 2009 tanks come in more on a normal template. So we're going to take a one-time hit of this four to five weeks, it will move pretty much all of the tanks in series, the next 10 tanks that will come out, about that four to five weeks."
Even so, Shannon said today that starting with STS-127 next May, the external tank team at Michoud will need to shave about a month off the time needed to manufacture each tank to keep the program on track.
"The schedule we've put together challenges the Michoud Assembly Facility production on the external tanks by about a month per tank," he said. "We partnered with them very closely to try and understand what production efficiencies we're going to have as we go through the next several builds of tanks. And we think we'll be able to get a month back. But that's not proven yet."

To provide as much margin as possible to cope with unexpected problems, the shuttle program wants to keep the shuttle Endeavour on track across its four upcoming flights. As it now stands, the final flight is targeted for launch on May 31.
NASA managers may opt to move up the next two flights by a few days, in part to provide additional margin for Endeavour. Based on ground processing alone, the Hubble mission likely could be moved up five to six days, Shannon said. But because of payload issues and crew training "they might get two or three days, it doesn't look like much more than that."
But that likely would enable NASA to launch Endeavour on mission STS-126 a few days ahead of the current Nov. 10 target. That's important because it would provide a few additional days of margin to get Endeavour off before a so-called beta angle cutout begins around Nov. 25. If the shuttle isn't off the ground by then, thermal issues caused by the angle between the sun and the plane of the station's orbit would prompt a significant launch delay.
"The beta ends in the middle of December, but we wouldn't launch then because of workforce issues, it would probably be the middle of January or early February," Shannon said. "Right there, you lose two months, almost three months off your critical path and we'd have to really struggle to make that up."
As a result, "we would really like to get 126 off before the beta cutout," Shannon said. "If we move Hubble up a few days, that would make us think we could move 126 up a few days and get a few more days before that beta angle constraint. That's really important to us because we want to keep on the timeline for the (Endeavour) flights."
As with all post-Columbia missions, NASA will have a set of boosters and an external tank available to support an emergency "launch on need" rescue mission for Endeavour's final flight. Congress is considering a plan to use that hardware for one additional flight, a mission to carry a high-tech physics experiment to the space station.
In the wake of the Columbia disaster and the 2010 deadline for completing shuttle operations, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, or AMS, payload lost its ride to the station. Congressional supporters are considering whether to add a flight and Shannon said the agency was protecting that option.
"Right now, we don't have any direction to go fly the AMS from Congress or the White House," he said. "We've protected the option. We've put together a cargo layout that would have the AMS flying, we have had people from the shuttle program involved in integration to determine the long-lead integration items that we need in order to put it in the shuttle payload bay and be able to go fly it. And I am going to have, at the end of the program, hardware available to not only fly an additional flight but I would also have launch-on-need capability for that flight."
He said external tank 122, which was damaged in Hurricane Katrina, could be upgraded and prepared for launch-on-need use if needed. A set of boosters would have to be procured, but "I don't have to make the decision for configuring ET-122 or the extra boosters until the middle of next year," Shannon said. "So we'll wait and see what everybody wants to do."