September 2008
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Shenzhou VII: Landing!

China's first 3-man space mission landed early this morning, returning from a 68-hour flight which featured that country's first spacewalk.

Pics here. Videos here. News clip here. Discussion here.

Shenzhou VII: First EVA!

CCTV: Screenshot from Shenzhou VII EVA"Taikonaut" Zhai Zhigang has made history as China's first spacewalker. The EVA took place early this morning, and lasted about 20 minutes. The flight, with the first 3-man crew in the Shenzhou program, lifted off Thursday and is scheduled for re-entry early Sunday.

Pics here. Videos here. Discussion here.

China Fakes Reports From Space

China's state news agency published a dispatch from the country's three latest astronauts describing their first night in space before they had even left Earth.

STS-125: Hurricanes Delay Launch

Shuttle Atlantis is at launchpad 39A at Kennedy Space Center, but the recent hurricane closure of Houston's Johnson Space Center has caused delays in vital astronaut training, leading mission managers to slip the STS-125 launch date from October 10 to October 14 (targeted for 10:19 p.m. EDT). As a result, Endeavour (on pad 39B for an Atlantis contingency flight) will not launch on STS-126 until November 16 at 7:07 p.m. EST. The delays mean that both ships will be lifting off at night - something NASA was reluctant to do post-Columbia. NASA reports:

Atlantis Set for Payload; Astronauts Train for Spacewalk

Sept. 25, 2008
The STS-125 astronauts resumed training at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston where they continue to prepare for their mission to service NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. On Thursday, crew members practiced in the large Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory for the second spacewalk of the mission. Crew members capped off three days of prelaunch exercises at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday.

On Thursday night, the payload for the mission is set to be loaded into space shuttle Atlantis’ payload bay at Launch Pad 39A.

STS-125 Astronauts
Image above: The STS-125 crew members line up outside the Astrovan after suiting up for the countdown dress rehearsal at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. From left are Mission Specialists Michael Good, Mike Massimino, Andrew Feustel, John Grunsfeld and Megan McArthur, Pilot Gregory C. Johnson and Commander Scott Altman. Image credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
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The crew’s targeted launch date has been reset to Oct. 14 at 10:19 p.m. EDT. The adjustment was made Wednesday during the Space Shuttle Program's Flight Readiness Review, which concluded Thursday. The official launch date will be announced on Friday, Oct. 3 following the agency-level review. While vehicle processing at Kennedy continues on schedule, the lost week of training and mission preparation due to the impacts of Hurricane Ike on Johnson Space Center led to the decision.

Preflight pics are up at the JSC Gallery. More preflight pics and video at KSC. Discussion here. Check the links at right for play-by-play and NASA TV.

China Counts Down To Thursday Space Launch

JIUQUAN, China (Reuters) - China will send its third manned mission into space on Thursday evening on a mission which will include its first space walk, the government said on Wednesday.

STS-126: Endeavour Rollout Set For Friday

UPDATE: Rollout started early - Check video feed here.

Shuttle Endeavour will be rolling out to the launchpad Thursday night/Friday morning. When Endeavour makes it to Pad 39B (joining Atlantis on Pad 39A), it will mark the first time in 7 years that two orbiters have been on the pads at the same time. NASA reports:

Endeavour Rollout Set for Friday

Sept. 18, 2008
Early Thursday morning, thunderstorms in the area of Kennedy Space Center in Florida delayed the scheduled rollout of space shuttle Endeavour by 24 hours. The move from the Vehicle Assembly Building to Launch Pad 39B is now set for 12:01 a.m. Friday. Just a short distance away on pad 39A, technicians continue to prepare space shuttle Atlantis for its targeted Oct. 10 launch on mission STS-125 to service the Hubble Space Telescope. Endeavour will be on standby in the unlikely event that a rescue mission for the Atlantis's crew would be necessary. After Endeavour is cleared from its duty as a rescue vehicle, workers will move it to pad 39A in preparation for liftoff on mission STS-126 to the International Space Station in November.

Contamination discovered Wednesday during preparations to deliver NASA's Hubble Space Telescope servicing payload to Kennedy Space Center's Launch Pad 39A has been removed. Cleanliness is extremely important for space shuttle Atlantis’ STS-125 mission to Hubble, and the teams have insured that the Super Lightweight Interchangeable Carrier is ready to fly.

The Hubble payload will be moved to the pad Saturday at 6 p.m. EDT. It is too early to speculate whether there will be any effect on STS-125's launch, targeted for Oct. 10 at 12:43 a.m. The formal launch dates for space shuttle flights are determined during the Flight Readiness Review. The STS-125 review is scheduled for Oct. 2 and 3.

STS-125 payload.
Image above: In the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, technicians monitor the movement of an IMAX 3D camera. The camera is part of the payload Atlantis will carry on STS-125 so that crew members can record their mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope. Image credit: NASA/Jack Pfaller
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The Atlantis astronauts still are set to travel to Kennedy from their home base at Johnson Space Center in Houston for the STS-125 Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test next week. The week's activities are pending the crew's and support personnel's ability to participate as the Houston area continues to recover from the effects of Hurricane Ike. The crew is set to arrive in Florida on Sept. 21, with the training and countdown rehearsal running from Sept. 22 through 24. Johnson Space Center will remain closed until Monday, Sept. 22, as recovery from the hurricane continues.

Preflight pics are up at the JSC Gallery. More preflight pics and video at KSC. Discussion here. Check the links at right for play-by-play and NASA TV.

STS-125: Atlantis Rolling Out

After sheltering in the VAB to ride out Hurricanes FayGustav, and Hanna, Shuttle Atlantis is making the first part of her journey to the Hubble Space Telescope Servicing Mission.  NASA reports:

Atlantis is Headed for the Launch Pad

Atlantis rolls to the pad.
Image above: Outside the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, space shuttle Atlantis begins its trip to the launch pad. Photo credit: NASA TV

Sept. 4, 2008
At 9:19 a.m. EDT this morning, space shuttle Atlantis began its slow trek from Kennedy Space Center's massive Vehicle Assembly Building to Launch Pad 39A, a journey that should take approximately six hours. Managers met at 5:30 a.m. for a weather briefing on the status of Tropical Storm Hanna before making the final decision. They determined the effects from Hanna would remain far enough off shore to safely allow Atlantis' move to the pad where it will be protected by the rotating service structure as the storm bypasses the Florida coast on Friday.

This afternoon, Atlantis' crew members are scheduled to arrive at Kennedy for an equipment test Friday in preparation for their mission to service NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. The telescope has already rewritten the books on astronomy and will remain operational for at least another five years following the upgrades. Atlantis is targeted to launch Oct. 8 on mission STS-125.

Watch the Atlantis rollout live on NASA TV beginning at 10 a.m.

Preflight pics are up at the JSC Gallery. More preflight pics and video at KSC. Discussion here. Mission Summary here. Check the links at right for play-by-play and NASA TV.