MSL Mission Animation

The Mars Science Laboratory will launch late this year, sometime around the end of November, or early December. It’s the largest rover that JPL has ever sent to Mars, and also the most expensive. Just about everyone I know at JPL has worked on some aspect of MSL at one point or another, myself included.

The sequence of events for Entry, Descent and Landing is incredibly complex, as you can see in the latest animation video that JPL put out.

Photo Collection From Endeavour STS-134

The Atlantic’s In Focus page has a photo collection from Endeavour’s last flight, STS-134. The photos are amazing. I particularly love the ones of the Shuttle in space, with the long-exposure of the earth beneath.

I flew down to Florida to try to watch the launch of STS-134 in May. Alas, the initial launch date was scrubbed due to heater electrical problems. My wife and I spent all of 2 days in Florida, mostly driving and sitting out in Titusville. Love the adventure, hated to miss the launch.

Winding Down the Space Shuttle Program

Carolyn Collins Petersen has a nice blog post about some of her memories of the Space Shuttle Program.

As NASA winds down its space shuttle missions — Endeavour launches on April 29 and Atlantis is scheduled for late June — it’s kind of hard to think that after those flights, there will be no direct access to space via NASA.

I’m hoping to go down to the Cape to see Endeavour‘s launch on Friday. So far, all systems are green for my trip and for the launch!

SpaceX has successful flight

Yesterday saw the world’s first-ever orbital entry and landing of a private spacecraft.

Hailed as a both a great day for commercial spaceflight as well as for NASA, SpaceX made history on Wednesday with a 100% successful test flight of its Dragon capsule and Falcon 9 rocket.

The Dragon will likely service the International Space Station, too, since after the next two Shuttle launches, the U.S. will have to depend on the Russians for ISS access.