• 2010 nasa special
    a total eclipse of the Sun is visible from within a narrow corridor that traverses Earth's southern Hemisphere. The path of the Moon's umbral shadow crosses the South Pacific Ocean where it makes no landfall except for Mangaia (Cook Islands) and Easter Island (Isla de Pascua).

Mission: STS-128

Mission: STS-128
Orbiter: Discovery
Primary Payload: Leonardo Multi-Purpose Logistics Module, science experiment racks, COLBERT treadmill
Launch Date: Aug. 28
Launch Time: 11:59 p.m. EDT
Launch Pad: 39A
Landing Date: Sept. 10
Landing Time: 7:09 p.m.
Landing Site: Kennedy Space Center, Florida
Mission Duration: 13 days
Inclination/Altitude: 51.6 degrees/122 nautical miles

Space shuttle Discovery Launches Image above: Space shuttle Discovery roars into orbit on the strength of its three main engines and twin solid rocket boosters. Photo credit: NASA TV
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Discovery Lifts Off on Flight to International Space Station

Space shuttle Discovery launched on time Friday, Aug. 28, at 11:59 p.m. The shuttle is carrying equipment, experiments and supplies for the International Space Station, including the COLBERT treadmill, named for comedian Stephen Colbert. The mission will last 13 days and include three spacewalks.

Additional Resources
› Orbiter Status Updates

Live in Orbit: Station monitoring space junk

NASA posted the following update on its Web site, indicating that Thursday's spacewalk is likely to proceed on schedule: "As experts continue to analyze a possible conjunction with debris from a portion of an Ariane 5 rocket body, NASA space shuttle CAPCOM Tony Antonelli informed Discovery and International Space Station crew members that the options have been narrowed to two: either not performing a Debris Avoidance Maneuver at all; or performing a reboost avoidance maneuver after Thursday’s second spacewalk. There no longer is any consideration being given to deboosting the shuttle and station, which would have delayed the second spacewalk by a day."

NASA is monitoring a piece of space junk that could fly close to the International Space Station on Friday morning and possibly require the outpost to steer out of the way.

Such a move is considered unlikely, said Rob Navias, a NASA TV commentator.

But if necessary, it's possible the maneuver would delay Thursday's spacewalk to Friday and extend shuttle Discovery's planned 13-day mission by a day.

The debris is a small piece of a spent Ariane 5 rocket stage, but it is not known when the rocket launched or the exact size of the debris. Officials have been monitoring it for several hours.

The closest approach is expected to occur at 11:06 a.m. EDT Friday.

But the debris could fly by more six miles from the station.

"That's a fairly healthy piece of real estate for a miss distance, and we are hopeful that no maneuver is going to be required to steer clear of this piece of space junk," said Navias.

As a precaution, however, several options are being developed to move the station up or down out of the junk's path, if necessary.

Avoidance maneuvers could be accomplished before or after the second of three mission spacewalks, which wsa scheduled to start at 5:19 p.m. Thursday.

A downward move, or "de-boost," would take more than five hours and result in the spacewalk's delay, Navias said.

Moving in either direction would require use of the shuttle's primary jets, since the six smaller steering thrusters were disabled after last Friday's launch because of a fuel leak.

Since then, managers have been monitoring fuel supplies because Russian thrusters on the station don't have enough to handle the maneuvers alone.

They are still reviewing a new digital autopilot procedure that would allow the more powerful jets to be used safely, but an inadvertent jet firing could pose risks to the station's structural integrity.

"I would emphasize that it is only a remote possibility that we would have to exercise a debris avoidance maneuver to steer clear of this piece of spent Ariane rocket body," Navias said.

A decision could be made as soon as tonight or by the crew's Thursday wake-up time of 12:30 p.m. EDT.

The junk was spotted hours after Discovery mission specialist Danny Olivas marveled at the number of apparent micrometeoroid hits the station had sustained in areas he inspected at the end of the mission's first spacewalk.

Debris in the station's vicinity affected the last shuttle mission.

Shortly after Endeavour docked in mid-July, the joined spacecraft moved to avoid orbiting space junk.

BCC hosts monthly space lecture series

COCOA — Living on the Space Coast has its advantages. Brevard Community College Space and Astronomy Department on the Cocoa campus is sponsoring a monthly lecture series that will feature local experts in the field.
The free lectures will be offered at 7 p.m. Friday and Oct. 9 and Nov. 13. Following the speakers, there will be a public viewing session at the BCC Observatory atop the planetarium building.

“I created the lecture series because education is going through cuts in budget, and this is a way to reinject educational events for free to the community,” said Fiorella Terenzi, program coordinator and a BCC physics instructor.

During Friday’s lecture, attendees will hear the latest information about the next human space flight to the moon and Mars. The panel discussion will feature Robert Cabana, director of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center; Russell Romanella, director of the International Space Station and Spacecraft Processing Directorate; and Jon Cowart, orbiter engineering manager for the NASA Kennedy Space Center Constellation Program.

Cabana has flown four space shuttle missions serving as pilot and commander during the flights. He also has also served as deputy chief Aircraft Operations Division; chief, NASA Astronaut Office; and has worked in International Relations for the International Space Station Program and the NASA Human Space Flight Program in Russia, among others.

Romanella is responsible for launch site ground processing of the International Space Station and Shuttle Payloads. Romanella also is responsible for preparing the Kennedy Space Center for final assembly of the future human space launch vehicle, the Orion crew exploration vehicle.

Cowart has served as senior project manager responsible for all modifications to the launch pad, vehicle assembly building and the mobile launch platform for the Ares I-X flight test.

“Our free lecture series will be of service for our community and will offer those with an interest in space, aerospace and astronomy the chance to explore the latest research and innovations in the field as we probe further into the universe,” Terenzi said. “The purpose of the lecture series is to inspire potential future students and their families to pursue careers in math, science and engineering, to connect with our local community, to create a feed, an open line with our space coast industry and to increase awareness and appreciation for space, aerospace and astronomy and education as a whole.”

During the event, Terenzi and Mark Howard, director of the BCC Planetarium, will speak about “What’s New in the Night Sky,” a focus on what viewers can see in the sky with the naked eye.

The Oct. 9 lecture will feature “What Lurks in the Hearts of the Galaxies?” featuring Dr. Eric Perlman, associate professor of physics and space sciences at Florida Institute of Technology.

The Nov. 13 lecture will feature “Small Bodies and Big Impacts: Asteroids, Comets and the Origin of Earth’s Water,” featuring Dr. Humberto Campins, professor of physics at the University of Central Florida.

Worlds of Fun: UNCSA group picked to help NASA project to get kids interested in Mars

Students in some of North Carolina's elementary schools will soon begin pondering the idea of humans living on Mars. And when they do, they'll be able to draw inspiration from a play by a Winston-Salem children's theater group.

Imagine Mars -- a project sponsored by NASA, its Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the National Endowment for the Arts -- is asking students across the country to help design and share a Mars community for 100 people. (See http://imaginemars2.jpl.nasa.gov/about/index.cfm for more information.)

It has named the Open Dream Ensemble as a principal partner in the endeavor. The group, which consists of alumni from UNC School of the Arts, will present a new play called Peril on the Red Planet at schools through December and, sometimes, lead related residencies.

NASA's partnership with Open Dream was announced yesterday during a news conference at the Stevens Center.

"If you could build a community on Mars, what would it look like?" asked David Delgado, a NASA representative involved in Imagine Mars. He said that Peril helps present information about Mars in "a fun and meaningful way."

Without it, Delgado said, students "don't see the relevance of the information."

Peril will premiere at 7:30 tonight at the Stevens Center. Mayor Allen Joines has proclaimed today "Imagine Mars Day" in Winston-Salem.

Open Dream, a professional outreach program of UNCSA, consists of school alumni who studied dance, drama or music at the school and earned ensemble spots at auditions because of their proficiency in several disciplines. The performers introduce children to the live-theater experience in schools across the region.

Margaret S. Mertz is the executive director of the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts, which underwrites Open Dream.

"We're delighted that Imagine Mars has selected the Open Dream Ensemble as one of its four primary partners on the national level," Mertz said in a statement, adding that Open Dream is "the only one of the four that focuses on the artistic interpretation of the goals of the program."

Rebecca Nussbaum, Open Dream's general manager, said that Peril came about when Mertz brought the Imagine Mars project to her attention and suggested she look into creating a play about it.

Nussbaum said she and others involved in Peril consulted several times with NASA officials to ensure the accuracy of the information in it.

Peril, geared to third- through eighth-graders, will be premiered tonight after another play, titled Dream Machines: The Impossible Happens.

Peril is about Diana, 13, a girl working to end famine on Mars. She reconstructs the machine that made human habitation possible on Mars and unexpectedly unleashes more problems.

Along the way, she learns "lessons about community, responsibility, teamwork and sacrifice," according to press materials.

■ The Open Dream Ensemble will present two shows tonight in the Stevens Center,405 W. Fourth St. Dream Machines: The Impossible Happens, geared to grades K-5, will begin at 6:30 p.m. Peril on the Red Planet, geared to grades 3-8, will begin at 7:30 p.m. Both shows are free and open to the public, and the audience is welcome to attend one or both productions. For more information, call 721-1945.