Friday Links

In Memoriam

One of the legends of flight control from the Apollo era, John Llewellyn, has died (not to be confused with astronaut John Anthony Llewellyn). Llewellyn was the RETRO officer who dubbed the front row of the MOCR (Mission Operations Control Room) “the trench”.

Llewellyn is discussed often in Gene Kranz’s book Failure is not an Option. The two men were actually sparring partners in Judo in the ’60’s. Llewellyn was also part of a group of NASA astronauts and engineers who tried to “save the Apollo program” by coming up with some crazy mission profiles, such as landing on the far-side of the moon.

Llewellyn joined NASA when manned spaceflight was still known as the “Space Task Group” and was assigned to Zanzibar for Mercury-Atlas 4, an unmanned launch in September ’61 to prep for John Glenn’s orbital flight. During the mission the tracking team in Zanzibar was surrounded by rioters (times were not well in that country) and Llewellyn sent the following telegram back to Houston:


Here is Llewellyn’s page at a USMC website with photos, ranks, ribbon bars, etc.

Down to Earth

Apparently SpaceX has or is trying to get an agreement with Bigelow Aerospace to provide rides to their private space station with their Dragon capsules. Boeing already has a contract with Bigelow to fly their CST-100 (still worst spacecraft name ever). I say competition is good, so we’ll see what happens.

Also in the commercial space sector, it seems that ATK is fed up with everyone picking the Atlas 5 as the launch vehicle for their capsules (Boeing, Sierra Nevada, etc.) and are going to build their own capsule to fly on their Liberty rocket. This will be in partnership with EADS Astrium. The amazing thing is that they claim to be targeting the first crewed flight for late 2015 which, as Phil Plait points out, would beat everyone else into orbit! Of course, we’ll see what happens…

The last space shuttle, Endeavour, was unpowered for the last time today at KSC.

You can “sponsor a shuttle” and get a your name listed next to Endeavour in California or next to Enterprise in NYC.

The Space Shuttle mock-up previously displayed at KSC will arrive by barge in Houston on June 1.

On the politics side of things, the US House of Representatives has approved an appropriations bill that includes NASA funding. However, Obama is threatening to veto because it does not grant as much funds for commercial crew development as the administration requested.

I deliberately ignored the “super moon” craziness from last week. However, I do like Ryan Anderson’s post at the Martian Chronicles that shows that, compared to the parent body, our Moon is the largest in the solar system!

In Orbit

ESA’s Earth-observing satellite, Envisat, has been declared a lost mission after a long month of trying to recover communication with the spacecraft. Envisat was just over 10 years old.

In case you hadn’t heard, SpaceX’s Dragon launch is now targeted for May 19.

Don Pettit has invented “toe koozies”.

As a new Soyuz crew prepares to launch from Kazakhstan on May 15, backup crew member Kevin Ford has been blogging about preparations over in Asia! Check out his latest 3 posts: leaving for Kazakhstan now that final exams are done, seeing the rocket in Baikonour, and killing time waiting for launch.

Don Pettit continues to entertain and educate. Check out this episode of “Science Off the Sphere”

Andre Kuipers writes about doing a “safety check” aboard ISS.

For any organizational nuts out there, Andre posted a picture of our timeline tool that we use to keep track of crew and mission control activities, minute-to-minute.

[blackbirdpie url=”!/astro_andre/statuses/199582911060643840″]

Around the Solar System

Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is finally roving again after a long winter parked on the edge of Endeavour crater!

A large sunspot region has rotated into view from Earth and may create some large solar flares.

Out There

The James Webb Space Telescope has been delivered its first precision instrument!

Speaking of space telescopes, Spitzer has taken the first direct image of a “super-Earth” class exo-planet! Sweet!


May 11, 2012 5:00 pm

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