Jul 11

Mars, Aldebaran, Jupiter and the Moon before Dawn

During the next mornings  Mars, Aldebaran, Jupiter and the Moon will be making a parade for early day observers.

The image above represents the sky on July 26th before dawn where you can observe Mars, Aldebaran, Jupiter and the Moon in the same region of the sky looking East. This is a nice opportunity to see the red planet with a red star near a small waning crescent Moon. The Moon on this will be very close to Alpha Tauri and will make for a spectacular contrast.

So don't loose this observational opportunity.

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Jul 11

NASA tests future Deep Space vehicle for water landings

Source: NASA Langley Research Center

As NASA closes the chapter on the Space Shuttle Program, a new era of exploration vehicles is beginning to take off.

Testing began this month at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., in the new Hydro Impact Basin to  certify the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) for water landings. The Orion MPCV will carry astronauts into space, provide emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during space travel and ensure safe re-entry and  landing.

Engineers have dropped a 22,000-pound MPCV mockup into the basin. The test item is similar in size and shape to MPCV, but is more rigid so it can withstand multiple drops. Each test has a different drop velocity to represent the MPCV's possible entry conditions during water landings.

The last of three drop tests to verify the new facility is scheduled for the end of this month.

Testing will resume in September with a slightly modified test article that is more representative of the actual MPCV.

The new Hydro Impact Basin is 115 long, 90 feet wide and 20 feet deep. It is located at the west end of Langley's historic Landing and Impact Research Facility, or Gantry, where Apollo astronauts trained for moon walks.

For images and video of the tests, visit:


To follow the progress of the Orion MPCV on social networking sites,


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