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STS-51G: Space truck
A seven-person crew featuring payload specialists from France and Saudi Arabia flew aboard the June 1985 mission of space shuttle Discovery. They narrate the highlights of STS-51G in this post-flight film. Three communications satellites -- for Mexico, the Arab countries and the U.S. -- were launched from the payload bay. And the SPARTAN 1 astrophysics spacecraft was deployed from the shuttle's robot arm for a two-day freeflight to make its science observations before being retrieved and returned to Earth.
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STS-51B: Monkeys, bubbles and auroras
The flight of Spacelab 3 aboard Challenger in April/May 1985 was a week-long scientific research mission using a laboratory tucked in the shuttle's payload bay. Experiments focused on material and fluid behaviors in weightlessness, plus observations of monkeys in the lab. The crew also watched amazing auroral displays over Earth. This post-flight crew film shows the highlights of STS-51B and includes remarkable views out the shuttle cockpit window during launch showing the Chesapeake Bay, New York City and Cape Cod as Challenger soared up the eastern seaboard.
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STS-51D: Flyswatter spacewalk
Discovery launched April 12, 1985 on the STS-51D mission. A U.S. military communications satellite, known as Leasat 3, failed to activate after its deployment from the payload bay. That set the stage for a spacewalk -- the shuttle program's first unplanned EVA -- to attach handcrafted "Flyswatter" objects on the shuttle robotic arm to hit a timing switch on the satellite. The rescue attempt did not succeed. Upon landing at Kennedy Space Center, Discovery blew a tire. The crew, including Senator Jake Garn of Utah, narrate this post-flight film of highlights from the week-long mission.
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Fuel tank update
NASA managers hold this news conference April 28 to give an update on plans for the next space shuttle mission, the ongoing external fuel tank testing and debates over further modifications.
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CALIPSO and CloudSat
The Boeing Delta 2 rocket carrying the CALIPSO and CloudSat atmospheric research spacecraft lifts off at 3:02 a.m. local time April 28 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.
Tank meets SRBs
Inside the Vehicle Assembly Building, the external fuel tank for the STS-121 space shuttle mission is hoisted into position for attachment with the twin solid rocket boosters atop a mobile launch platform. The tank, ET-119, will carry the liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen to feed Discovery's three main engines during launch.
Discovery payload bay
In preparation for space shuttle Discovery's departure from its Orbiter Processing Facility hangar for rollover to the Vehicle Assembly Building and mating with the tank and boosters, the ship's 60-foot long payload bay doors are swung shut.
Take a virtual ride aboard the Russian Progress 21P cargo freighter as it docks with the International Space Station. This movie captures the final approach and successful linkup from a camera on the Progress craft's nose.
Rendezvous | Docking
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Historic NASA tunnel used to test blended wing body
NASA NEWS RELEASE
Posted: May 7, 2006
A historic NASA wind tunnel is helping test the prototype of a new, more fuel-efficient aircraft design.
Boeing Phantom Works, St. Louis, has partnered with NASA's Aeronautics
Research Mission Directorate and the U.S. Air Force Research
Laboratory, Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, to explore and
validate the structural, aerodynamic and operational advantages of an
advanced concept called the blended-wing body. A blended-wing body
looks different than most airplanes, as it has a modified
The team has produced two high-tech, 21-foot wingspan prototypes of
the blended-wing body for wind tunnel and flight-testing. The Air
Force has designated the vehicles as the "X-48B."
"One big difference between this airplane and the traditional tube and
wing aircraft is that, instead of a conventional tail, the
blended-wing body relies solely on multiple control surfaces on the
wing for stability and control," said Dan Vicroy, senior research
engineer at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. "What we
want to do with this wind-tunnel test is to look at how these
surfaces can best be used to maneuver the aircraft."
X-48B Ship No. 1 began wind-tunnel testing April 7 at the Langley
Full-Scale Tunnel. The Langley Full-Scale Tunnel, operated by Old
Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., was built in 1930. It has been
used to test World War II fighters, the Mercury space capsule and
concepts for a supersonic transport. When testing is completed in
mid-May, the prototype will be shipped to NASA's Dryden Flight
Research Center, Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., to serve as a backup
to Ship No. 2, which will be used for remotely piloted flight tests
later this year.
Both phases of testing are focused on learning more about the
low-speed flight-control characteristics of the BWB concept.
"The X-48B prototypes have been dynamically scaled to represent a much
larger aircraft and are being used to demonstrate that a blended-wing
body is as controllable and safe during takeoff, approach and landing
as a conventional military transport airplane," said Norm Princen,
chief engineer for the X-48B program at Boeing Phantom Works.
The cooperative agreement on the X-48B program culminates years of
research by NASA and Boeing. The Air Force is interested in the
concept for its potential future military applications.
"We believe the blended-wing body concept has the potential to cost
effectively fill many roles required by the Air Force, such as
tanking, weapons carriage, and command and control," said Captain
Scott Bjorge, AFRL's X-48B program manager. "This research is a great
cooperative effort and a major step in the development of the
blended-wing body. AFRL is inspired to be involved in this critical
Cranfield Aerospace Ltd., Cranfield, England, built the ground
breaking X-48B prototypes in accordance with Boeing Phantom Works'
specifications. Made primarily of advanced lightweight composite
materials, the prototypes weigh about 400 pounds each. They are
powered by three turbojet engines and can fly up to 138 mph and as
high as 10,000 feet.