Saturday, March 28, 2009

NASA's Orion Capsule Built and Tested at NSWC Carderock

WEST BETHESDA, Md. (NNS) -- Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Carderock Division engineers, along with a NASA test and evaluation team are conducting initial Post-Landing Orion Recovery Test(PORT) operations, March 23-27.

The team will test a full-scale model of NASA's Orion space capsule at Carderock's pentagon-shaped test pond.

The model, measuring 16.5 feet in diameter and weighing 18,000 pounds, was built by NSWC Carderock in its model fabrication facility. The area is primarily used for Navy ship and submarine model design, fabrication, mission test support, and specialized manufacturing services using computer aided numerically controlled machines, programming, stereolithography, manufacturing, wood and composite material fabrication.

NSWC Carderock, a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command, also uses its model fabrication facility to design ships and systems that are both "state of the art" and easily upgradable.

The PORT objective is to determine what the environment will be like for the astronaut and recovery crews at landing, and incorporate those lessons into the spacecraft design.

The Carderock test pond provides a controlled environment for NASA space crew recovery personnel and 920th Air Wing's Para Rescue Divers for familiarization diving before testing procedures in the uncontrolled waters of the Atlantic Ocean during the week of Apr. 6.

"Divers were in the water March 25, practicing attaching flotation collars," said Richard Banko, Carderock lead engineer and principle Navy-NASA test coordinator. "We're currently testing opening and closing the hatch with the flotation collars in place and then we're going to do night testing, and conduct these evolutions all over again without natural lighting, using only the diver's lighting."

After completing diver familiarization, the crew module will be transported to the National Mall in Washington for display at the National Air and Space Museum.

Alan Rhodes, NASA's Constellation Program Test and Verification officer, had high praise for the quality of work NSWC Carderock personnel provided for their Orion project.

"The Carderock team has gone far above and beyond our expectations in support of this project that I'm almost at a loss for words of praise," said Rhodes. "When you look at where we started planning a year and a half ago, and look at the finished crew model, and its water testing, it's truly amazing how well this model was built, how well it fits within the tolerances we've asked for it."

Carderock engineers and researchers will also participate in the testing when the model is transported to sea and launched by NASA's space shuttle solid rocket booster recovery ship. The team will quantify the seakeeping characteristics of the mock-up.

"It's a test model we will use for years to come, and we have the right team from Carderock to thank for it," said Rhodes.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Mothballed NASA Satellite Awaits New Life


The long-grounded Deep Space Climate Observatory may be revived for an assignment very different from the controversial mission that was cancelled for its infamous mix of politics and science.

NASA, NOAA and the U.S. Air Force completed a comprehensive study last month to determine the feasibility of finally launching the refrigerator-sized satellite, which has been confined to a lonely corner of a Maryland warehouse for seven years.

The agencies are discussing adapting the DSCOVR spacecraft for a new mission to monitor solar wind and space weather from the L1 libration point, a site 1 million miles away where the pull of gravity from the sun and Earth is equal.

You can see the rest of the story at

Elk City NDB Decommissioned

According to the FAA the Elk City, Oklahoma non-directional beacon (NDB), ID-EZY on 241.0 kHz has been decommissioned.

Friday, March 06, 2009

The Spaceflight Website to Host Shuttle Launch Video Coverage

Spaceflight Now will be joining forces with veteran space broadcasters Miles O'Brien and David Waters to provide video coverage of space shuttle Discovery's next mission, scheduled for launch on Wednesday, March 11.

More details are available at

You can get more details on the mission at

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Julius Genachowski Nominated as Next FCC Chairman

From the ARRL

ARLB014 Julius Genachowski Nominated as Next FCC Chairman

On Tuesday, March 3, President Barack Obama nominated Julius Genachowski as FCC Chairman. Genachowski, 46, is a technology executive and a former classmate of Obama's from Harvard Law School. Upon Senate confirmation, Genachowski will replace Acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps; Copps took over the Commission on January 22, 2009, two days after then-Chairman Kevin Martin resigned. Genachowski has been widely praised by industry executives and consumer-activist groups -- two groups often at odds -- for his wide-ranging experience and intimate knowledge of technology issues.

"I can think of no one better than Julius Genachowski to serve as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission," said President Obama. "He will bring to the job diverse and unparalleled experience in communications and technology, with two decades of accomplishment in the private sector and public service. I know him as the son of immigrants who carries a deep appreciation for this country and the American dream; and as the proud father of three children working with his wife Rachel to be responsible parents in this digital age."

According to the Wall Street Journal, speculation has been rife as to why President Obama had not put forth Genachowski's name before now, saying that "his nomination has centered on the administration's efforts to find at least one more nominee -- more likely two -- to fill other open spots on the FCC's five-person board. Agency nominations tend to move through the Senate more quickly if a Democratic nominee is paired with a Republican nominee."

The Wall Street Journal said that a number of Republicans -- including FCC Deputy General Counsel Ajit Pai -- have been mentioned as a possible replacement for the seat left vacant by Republican Deborah Taylor Tate when she left the Commission in January. "On the Democratic side, speculation is growing that FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein may not be renominated for the seat he currently holds. South Carolina public utilities commission official Mignon Clyburn (daughter of [Democrat Representative] Jim Clyburn) has been most often mentioned by people close to the Obama team as a candidate for that seat," the Journal reported. "Adelstein could be up for a job elsewhere in the Obama administration, insiders say, possibly at the Agriculture Department."

Acting Chairman Copps said President Obama "made an excellent choice in announcing his intent to nominate Julius Genachowski to be the next Chairman of the FCC. Julius has the knowledge, experience and dedication to lead this Agency forward as we tackle the many challenges confronting the country -- and the Commission. I look forward to the prospect of working with him on a communications agenda focused on serving consumers and the public interest. He will find here a talented and energized team of public servants committed to precisely this goal. I wish him a successful Senate confirmation."

Commissioner Adelstein also added his congratulations: "I warmly congratulate my friend Julius Genachowski on his nomination by President Barack Obama to be Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. He is the right person at the right time for the job. His leadership, experience and intelligence will serve him and the American people well as he takes the helm of the FCC during this pivotal time for our country and the agency. By designating a Chairman with such a strong strategic vision, striking talents, wealth of experience inside and outside the Commission, and practical understanding of technology, President Obama once again demonstrates his commitment to the transformational power of communications technology and innovation."

Commissioner Robert McDowell congratulated Genachowski on his nomination, saying he "will bring a valuable perspective to the Commission with his experience not only in government, but in the private sector. I look forward to working closely with Mr. Genachowski on the many important communications challenges that lie ahead for the American people."

Additional information -- including Genachowski's background -- can be found on the web at,