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Station supply ship
Ride along with the Progress 14P resupply ship as it makes the final approach and docking to the International Space Station on May 27 as seen by a camera mounted on the craft's nose. (9min 02sec file)
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Results from Spitzer
Scientists present new discoveries from the Spitzer Space Telescope, including their findings of raw ingredients for life detected around young stars. (53min 03sec file)
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Spacewalk previewed
The Expedition 9 crew describes their upcoming spacewalk in Russian spacesuits, life aboard the space station and the view of Earth in this interview with Bill Harwood of CBS News. (20min 19sec file)
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Spacewalk previewed
The Expedition 9 crew describes their upcoming spacewalk in Russian spacesuits, life aboard the space station and the view of Earth in this interview with Bill Harwood of CBS News. (20min 19sec file)
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Progress undocking
The Progress 13P cargo ship departs the International Space Station on May 24 carrying trash and unneeded items to burn up in the atmosphere. (2min 56sec file)
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AP interviews the crew
The Associated Press interviews the two-man Expedition 9 crew living aboard the International Space Station on May 24. (9min 36sec file)
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Atlas launches AMC-11
The Lockheed Martin Atlas 2AS rocket launches from Cape Canaveral carryin the AMC-11 communications satellite. (4min 30sec file)
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Vega rocket one step nearer
EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY NEWS RELEASE
Posted: May 30, 2004

An important step forward has just been made in the development of the European Space Agency's Vega launcher. After several months work at the Guiana Propellant Plant at Europe's Spaceport, the inert casting of the main Vega motor has been successfully carried out.


An artist's view of Vega on the launch pad. Credit: ESA-J. Huart
 
"The objectives have been fully attained," is how Massimo Epifani, an engineer from Avio S.p.A. based in Colleferro, Italy, described the inert casting exercise that began in April at the Guiana Propellant Plant (UPG). Avio S.p.A., the company responsible for Vega's P80 first stage motor, sent a team to French Guiana to supervise this important step in the development of Europe's small launcher.

The Vega Programme

Altogether seven ESA Member States are involved in the Vega Programme in which Italy, the largest contributor, plays a major role. The objective is to build a small single body launcher with three solid propulsion stages and an upper stage powered by liquid propulsion. The P80 is the only stage to be prepared at the Spaceport as all the others arrive from Europe by ship, complete and ready to be integrated.

Vega, 30 meters tall and with a diameter of 3 meters, will be able to place a 1.5 tonne payload into polar orbit. Once launched in 2006 this 'small' launcher will be the perfect complement to the large Ariane 5 and the medium-class Soyuz that will commence operating from Europe's Spaceport in 2007.

The P80 first solid propulsion stage is the result of a specific development programme. The new technology being used not only benefits Vega but also the Ariane-5 programme as it will be used in future Ariane-5 versions. This cycle of experience, leading to innovation, resulting in added value, is a cornerstone of the Launchers' Programme and ensures long-term development and progress.


An artist's view of Vega blasting off. Credit: ESA-J. Huart
 
Vega's P80 first stage is 10.5 metres tall and can hold 88 tonnes of propellant. Once it is eventually integrated with the other three stages: Zefiro 23, Zefiro 9 and the AVUM, Vega will be ready for its first launch. At liftoff the P80 will provide Vega with 300 tonnes of thrust for 106.7 seconds.

Inert casting trial

This operation involves the casting of a non-explosive mixture - hence the term inert - with the same density and characteristics as the solid propellant that the first stage engine will use. The reason for the trial is that it enables all the P80 production and casting procedures to be safely validated before the final casting with real propellant.

The campaign began last December as soon as all the elements arrived at the UPG. It involved setting up all the equipment, carrying out a test run, then dismantling and reassembling the casting mandrel to ensure that everything was ready.

The green light was given at the end of March and the casting was made on 7 April. This entailed 'cooking' the P80 for 10 days in a pit, then allowing it to cool before extracting the mandrel to leave behind a perfect cast. Now this is being carefully tested to enable the team to see how well it has been made and to check for any defects.

The success of these tests means that the first casting of the P80 motor can take place as scheduled next year, ready for the first firing tests of the P80 at the test bench facilites at Europe's Spaceport.

Mars rover collectible patch

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This commemorative patch celebrates NASA's Curiosity rover mission of the Mars Science Laboratory in search of clues whether the Red Planet was once hospitable to life.
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Soviet Space
For the first time ever available in the West. Rocket & Space Corporation Energia: a complete pictorial history of the Soviet/Russian Space Program from 1946 to the present day all in full color. Available from our store.
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Viking patch
This embroidered mission patch celebrates NASA's Viking Project which reached the Red Planet in 1976.
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Apollo 7 DVD
For 11 days the crew of Apollo 7 fought colds while they put the Apollo spacecraft through a workout, establishing confidence in the machine what would lead directly to the bold decision to send Apollo 8 to the moon just 2 months later.
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Gemini 12
Gemini 12: The NASA Mission Reports covers the voyage of James Lovell and Buzz Aldrin that capped the Gemini program's efforts to prove the technologies and techniques that would be needed for the Apollo Moon landings. Includes CD-ROM.
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Apollo 11 special patch
Special collectors' patch marking the 35th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 moon landing is now available.
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Inside Apollo mission control
An insider's view of how Apollo flight controllers operated and just what they faced when events were crucial.
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The ultimate Apollo 11 DVD
This exceptional chronicle of the historic Apollo 11 lunar landing mission features new digital transfers of film and television coverage unmatched by any other.
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Next ISS crew
Own a little piece of history with this official patch for the International Space Station's Expedition 11 crew. We'll ship yours today!
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Apollo patches
The Apollo Patch Collection: Includes all 12 Apollo mission patches plus the Apollo Program Patch. Save over 20% off the Individual price.
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Final Shuttle Mission Patch

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The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is now available in our store. Get this piece of history!
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STS-134 Patch

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The final planned flight of space shuttle Endeavour is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-134. Available in our store!
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Ares 1-X Patch
The official embroidered patch for the Ares 1-X rocket test flight, is available for purchase.
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Apollo Collage
This beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.
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Project Orion
The Orion crew exploration vehicle is NASA's first new human spacecraft developed since the space shuttle a quarter-century earlier. The capsule is one of the key elements of returning astronauts to the Moon.
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Fallen Heroes Patch Collection
The official patches from Apollo 1, the shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews are available in the store.
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