Wednesday, April 27, 2011

STS-134 Launch and NASATweetup - NASA TV, Live Feeds, etc...

Note: You can watch all four feeds at the same time. Just mute the ones you don't want to listen too.

This is the NASA HD TV video feed from Ustream. It will be LIVE on launch day.

Live TV by Ustream

This is the NASA Television feed and it should be live for the NASATweetup and STS-134 Launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavour.

Stream videos at Ustream

This is the feed from via their LiveStream Feed

Watch live streaming video from spaceflightnow at

Spacevidcast Ustream Feed

Free live streaming by Ustream

NASA Edge Live Ustream feed of STS-134

Live Broadcasting by Ustream

HatCam Feed - Live from the STS-134 NASATweetup

Watch live video from nasatweetup on

Michael B Moore's video feed from the NasaTweetup Tent

Live Streaming by Ustream.TV

KSC Audio Feeds via

Kennedy Space Center Communications Live Audio Feed

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

T minus 6.6 seconds...from the inside!

Dear STS-134 NASATweetup Attendees,

Being a NASATweetup veteran, I am reliving the feelings you are going through in your hearts and minds as you get ready for the experience of a lifetime. I know first hand the dreams that will come true on April 29th as Endeavour leaves the pad for the last time. I especially know the journey you will will be an emotional one. For me it was excitement, awe, passion, nervousness, and a little bit of sadness when Atlantis climbed the hill on May 14th 2010.

Subject: STS-132 NASA Tweetup Group
Credit: NASA
Subject: STS-132 NASA Tweetup
Credit: Aaron Cunningham
Even though Endeavour is the youngest of the NASA Orbiters, her legacy is long and historic. So, as you stand just 3.5 miles from the pad, looking at this living, breathing, complex vehicle, you may have a few questions about her history, her triumphs, and what it's like to fly her. You will probably stand in wonder and amazement at the things you will see, hear, and feel over your two days of the tweetup.

For example, you may wonder, what's it like to ride in the AstroVan to the pad? What are the thoughts that go through the minds of the crews as they ride the elevator up to the white room? What is an astronaut thinking when he or she hears over the loop "Endeavour, you are go for auto sequence start?" And what happens, at T-6.6 seconds, when the three SSME's ignite with fury causing the Shuttle to "twang" under the 1 million pounds of thrust being generated by an mixture of LOX/LH2? Then at T-0, the SRB's erupt with shocking light, sound, and vibration bringing the total trust up to 7.0 million pounds hurling the astronauts and Shuttle stack up the hill for the 8.5 minute commute to work. What's that moment like? I would love to be able to tell you from first hand experience, unfortunately I can't. But, I do know someone who can! Astronaut Tom Jones of the 1990 NASA Astronaut Class, the Hairballs. His classmates included Leroy Chiao, Janice Voss (Video: J Voss at STS-132 Tweetup), and Dave Wolf, all of whom I met at the STS-132 NASATweetup. Tom's first spaceflight was STS-59 (Brief Summary) aboard Endeavour. I just finished reading his book Sky Walking (a must read for all space enthusiasts) and in it Tom captures these moments in vivid clarity and detail allowing the reader the ability to share the in experience.

Date: April 9th, 1994
Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center LC39-A
Mission: STS-59 (Detailed Summary)
Vehicle: Space Shuttle Endeavour

Subject: STS-59 Launch
Credit: NASA
With Tom's permission, I am quoting the following section from:

Sky Walking - An Astronaut's Memoir

   T-6.6 seconds, and tons of water flooded the pad and cascaded into the flame trench in a Niagara designed to cushion the shock waves of ignition. Endeavour's computers commanded the start sequence for the three main engines. Far aft in the orbiter's engine bay, turbopumps spooled up and the dentist-drill whine carried to us in the cabin.
   A rumble shook the stack from ten stories below as the main engines coughed fire and shivered their way up to full power. Six seconds tumbled by as the entire stack rattled with the barely restrained fury of a million pounds of thrust. "Three at a hundred!" said Kevin over the rumble as the engines shouldered Endeavour sideways, steel booster casings flexing under the load. Still bolted to the pad, the twin solid rocket boosters took up the strain, then sprang back to the vertical. The computers raced through engine checks and marked the time: zero.
   Wham! Twin boosters ignited and instantly added  6 million pounds of thrust to the fight against gravity. Gravity lost--just as explosive charges shattered the eight nuts holding the SRBs to the pad. Endeavour jolted into the air, sending a crash-bang wallop through the cabin.
   A giant mallet hammered my seat from below, and I felt the upward surge. Swiveling booster nozzles whipsawed us left, right, forward, and back, striving for the vertical. It was all I could do to plant a shaky finger on my kneeboard's digital stopwatch and stab it into life, my sole duty during the ascent. The clock is running!

Credit: Sky Walking by Tom Jones, Published: 2006

The time span coved by those four paragraphs was very short. All of that happened before they cleared the tower! Simply amazing! I got excited reading it, I am excited typing it out, and I am excited for all of you, when you will see it happen live on April 29th. And you will not only see it, you will hear it....and FEEL it. All three physical sensations will let themselves be known. As I said above there is an emotional journey that goes with this and it is unique to each of us. I can't tell you what it will be, but please let yourself have that experience. You won't regret it.

Launch and landing video of STS-59

I want to mention, briefly, three other things about Tom's book, the first being the main topic. His first attempt at EVA (Extra Link: NASA EVA Detail) and his subsequently successful EVA's during the delivery of the Destiny Lab to the ISS. He brings to life the preparation, anticipation, and execution of working in free fall.

Subject: Astronaut Tom Jones / STS-59
Credit: NASA
Another topic he discusses is the loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia and her crew on STS-107. I remember this day like it was yesterday. I got a call that day in February 2003 "Turn on the TV, something happened to the Shuttle!" The imagery and emotions are still fresh for me. Now imagine it was your friends and colleagues. Tom, does this with sincerity and respect.

Subject: STS-107
Credit: NASA
Subject: STS-107 Crew Photo
Credit: NASA
Finally, at the end of the book Dr. Jones writes about his thoughts, opinions, and ideas for the future of the space and Shuttle programs. Many from my generation are bothered by the "early retirement" of the Orbiters, including myself. But, Tom rightly points out, they are just too expensive. It is well documented that the Shuttle program never achieved the cost economies set out in the original plan. As a result NASA had to funnel very limited budget resources to keep the Shuttles flying and ISS construction on track. This left  precious little dollars for future vehicle development, science missions short of funds, and future exploration ideas without discovery money. Take a look at what he wrote, you may find you agree with his ideas.

There were other questions I mentioned earlier in the post. Such as, what is it like to ride in the AstroVan to the pad or to ride the elevator to the white room? You could be curious about what its like to prepare for a space shot. I know from reading books like Tom's Sky Walking and Mike Mullane's Riding Rockets, that it's years of training, family sacrifice, emotional highs and lows, and sometimes just a bit of luck. Tom, details these experiences in his book, if you want to enhance your Tweetup experience, pick it up. You will get an inside view of launch day activities such as the ride to the pad and the strap-in process; you will even get a idea of the emotional roller coaster a countdown can be.

Now think about how you will feel if you know the astronaut's point of view, when you see the AstroVan 50 yards in front of you, speed past on its way to LC39-A. Think about how you will appreciate the astronaut mind set as you watch them get strapped into their seats, which are attached to a very complex and fragile machine surrounded by....rocket fuel...which is highly explosive. I think you should know what an astronaut is thinking as he or she is preparing in the white room. Preparation that includes thoughts of family. It's important to remember that you are watching this launch along with each astronaut's friends and family standing nervously on the roof of the Launch Control Center (LCC). When you are at the Press Site, look left to the LCC, remember those families are giving their loved ones to the us, the space program, and the nation on launch day.

When you walk away from KSC on launch day, don't let the experience end. The mission goes on. STS-134 is scheduled for ~14 days of flight on the final ISS assembly mission. Honor Endeavour and her crew for this final flight by following it until you hear "Houston, Endeavour, wheels stopped."

As far as Endeavour's legacy and history, check out my prior post on April 3rd, 2011. I am not a historian nor a writer, so I don't do her justice. Take the time to do your own research to understand this storied spacecraft and those that have flown her.

I can see now, on my Twitter feed, Endeavour will proudly serve the West Coast in her retirement at the California Science Center. I'm sure this will be a great home allowing all who go and visit to learn what Endeavour has provided to the space program, our nation, and our planet.

If you would like to buy Tom's book you can go to:

Tom can be reached through his website (and believe me he does respond) at:

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Space Shuttle Endeavour: Did you know...?


UPDATE: STS-134 launch date pushed to April 29th.
An official launch date will be set at the conclusion of the April 19th FFR.


Hello fellow space enthusiasts!  As you can tell from the post's title I will be exploring the history Space Shuttle Endeavour. I feel now is a great time to get a background or refresher on this fantastically elegant, historically significant, soon to be retired space vehicle. As you know from previous blog posts, I like to use pictures, videos, and embedded links as part of the journey. It is your choice to stop and look, push the play button, or click the link to read more. I've tried to choose these carefully to make sure it is worth your time to explore beyond this to blog. For me, these links, pictures, and videos were part of my discovery to learn more about OV-105. I hope they will serve you well.

I also wanted to let you know, I am working on the Sun Earth Day 2011 posts that I promised in my March 21, 2011 post titled: So little time, so much to write.... But, this story on Endeavour, and another one that has been years in the making, are taking up my blog time. I want to keep the SED2011 momentum going until SED2012, so stick with me and I will get my updates out to you as soon as I can.

First my limited knowledge about Endeavour. Then the real history.
  • It's orbiter designation is OV-105. The 5th & final orbiter in the NASA fleet.
  • It was built by Rockwell International (now Boeing) in the late 80's, early 90's at Rockwell's Palmdale, CA facility.
  • It's named after Capt. James Cook's ship Endeavour as a result of a national competition of grade school students.
  • Endeavour was built as a replacement for the Challenger (OV-99).
  • Endeavour flew the STS-130 mission to deliver the Cupola ("a room with a view") to the ISS.
    • This mission is also personal for me since I made a special trip with my boys (no Mom this time) to see the launch from the KSC Visitor Center. It was an early morning launch window which meant our arrival st Kennedy Space Center (KSC) was around 10PM...this translates to two very tired boys. And we had to do it 2 days in a row due a 1st attempt weather scrub. Tired or not they loved it because the visitor center has a lot more going on than the NASA Causeway does (which was where we saw STS-128 launch from). My favorite quote from them was..."it's fun to watch the Space Shuttle from here Dad so we can play on the playground..." then the other one says..."ya but, we didn't get to see the business end light up like last time." Got to love kids, they have their priorities.
Sadly that's all I've got for facts in my head. Now you understand why I am compelled to go learn more. That's not a lot on information on something so well documented. And it shows sometimes a passionate space fan does not always know every bit of space history. Thanks to the internet, NASA, Boeing, etc... a lot of the information I went looking for was readily available. Again, this post is really about my journey to learn whatever I can about this spacecraft, NASA's youngest but no less experienced orbiter. A vehicle that made history on more that on flight. A workhorse who is about to prematurely retire, with years of design life left, after her last mission set to launch on April 19th, 2011.

Construction to maiden voyage:
  • Feb 15, 1982 - Start structural assembly of the Crew Module. (Wait, 1982? I thought Endeavour was built in the late 80's, early 90's. It was. OV-105 was built with many parts that were made as spares for Discovery and Atlantis.)
  • Jul 31, 1987 - Contract awarded to build Space Shuttle Endeavour.
  • Sep 28, 1987 - Start of the aft-fuselage.
  • Dec 22, 1987 - Wings arrive from Grumman.
  • Jul 6, 1990 - Completed final assembly.
Subject: OV-105, Endeavour Completion
Credit: Science Photo Library
  • Apr 25, 1991 - Rollout from Palmdale
Subject: Rollout at Palmdale 1991
Credit: NASA
  • May 7, 1991 - Delivery to KSC atop the modified Boeing 747
Subject: Endeavour arrives at KSC in May 1991
Credit: NASA
  • May 7, 1992 - Launched on her maiden voyage STS-49
Subject: STS-49
Credit: NASA
Subject: STS-49
Credit NASA
  • Primary Mission: Retrieve and repair the Intelsat VI (603) communications satellite that was left in an unusable orbit following it's March 1990 launch. Three EVA's were needed before a successful 3rd attempt when astronaut Pierre J. Thuot was able complete a hand-capture of the 4.5 ton satellite. They completed the repairs including the installation of a new rocket motor that would push the Intelsat to its required geosynchronous orbit.
  • Mission Records:
    • First EVA involving three astronauts.
    • The first (8 hrs 29 mins) and second (7 hrs 45 mins) longest EVAs to date.
    • First shuttle mission to have four EVAs.
    • First time a live rocket motor was attached to an orbiting spacecraft.
    • First time a drag chute was used by a Space Shuttle during landing. (An upgrade added to all Shuttles to shorten the rollout distance by 1,000 to 2,000 feet.)
  • Mission Time, Distance, and Revolutions:
    • Duration - 8 days, 21 hours, 17 minutes, 38 seconds
    • Miles Traveled- 3.7 million
    • Orbits - 141
Subject: Intelsat IV - First Three Person EVA
Credit: NASA
Facts and notable missions (does not include STS-134 data):
  • Measurements - 78 tons, 122 feet long, 78 feet wide
  • Miles traveled - 103 million miles
  • Time in space - 280 days, 9 hours, 39 minutes, and 44 seconds
  • Totals laps around the planet - 4,429 orbits
  • Number of flights - 24
    • Launched from: Pad 39A 15 times and Pad 39B 9 times
    • Landed at: KSC SLF 17 times and EAFB 7 times
  • Last landing at EAFB - Nov 2008
  • Crew Members - 148
  • Mir Dockings - 1
  • ISS Dockings - 10
  • STS-49 - Maiden voyage

Subject: Hubble Space Telescope - SM1
Credit: NASA (?)
Subject: Russian Space Station Mir
Credit: NASA
  • STS-100 - ISS mission to deliver Canadarm 2
  • STS-123 - ISS mission to deliver DEXTRE
  • STS-130 - ISS mission to deliver the Cuploa, "room with a view"
Subject: Astronaut Tracey Caldwell-Dyson in the Cupola
Credit: NASA
My thoughts:

I think my earlier sentiments about Endeavour being a fantastically elegant, historically significant, reliable workhorse who is about to be retired prematurely is exactly how I feel. I am disappointed we were unable to achieve the goal of making Shuttle operations a more frequent more cost effective program. Don't read this statement wrong, I am not disappointed in Shuttle operations, just in the lack of progress in reducing the per flight operating costs.

I know that rocketry is a very complex, extremely challenging, high risk business (aka HIGH COST), but we need to figure out how to do it right, at a reasonable cost, with nothing but the safety of our crews as the number one priority. Had NASA (and the Shuttle support contractors) figured out how to reduce operating costs (which was absorbing a huge percentage of NASA's budget, sometimes at the cost of other worthwhile programs) we should have been able to keep the Shuttles flying  deeper into their design lives as well as working on the next generation of launch vehicles. I think the progress in commercial space is awesome, but NASA needed to be investing in their ideas years ago. I know limited funds (as a result of high costs of current programs and too small of a budget from Congress and the taxpayer) this did not happen at an appropriate level, so commercial space is a little behind. On a positive note I believe this situation is temporary and we will see progress accelerate significantly over the next 2 years.

I want to end this post on a positive note with a heart felt THANK YOU to Endeavour. As supporter and enthusiast of NASA, the space program, and a child of the Space Shuttle generation, your service will be missed. I've had the privileged to see you soar into the next frontier of exploration with my kids by my side. You delivered one of the most spectacular parts to the ISS....the Cupola. The views form there have been inspirational for those of us both on and off the planet.

Since my words don't do Endeavour or her spectacular history any justice, I will end with NASA's "Endeavour Retrospective" video:


Links, Sources, and Resources:
NASA Space Shuttle Endeavour Overview
NASA Another Endeavour Overview
NASA Mission Page STS-49
Space Shuttle Endeavour on Wikipedia
Story about the historic Palmdale Hanger
Boeing Site - Shuttle Backgrounder
Boeing Site - Shuttle Facts
Boeing Site - Shuttle Legacy Stories
Boeing Site - More on the Shuttle Legacy
NASA - Shuttle Era Photo Page
NASA - Archive of early photos
NASA - GRIN Photo Site's - Building a Space Shuttle Photo's