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Interview with teacher Barbara Morgan
Barbara Morgan, the former Idaho school teacher who served as Christa McAuliffe's backup for the Teacher in Space program, sits down for this NASA interview. As NASA's first Educator Astronaut, Morgan will be a mission specialist and robot arm operator during shuttle Endeavour's STS-118 flight to the space station, targeted for launch in June.


Supply ship departs ISS
The Russian Progress M-57 cargo vessel undocks from the International Space Station on January 16 for re-entry into the atmosphere. It was the 22nd resupply ship sent to ISS.


The Flight of Sigma 7
On October 3, 1962, Wally Schirra became the fifth American to rocket into space. This NASA film entitled "The Flight of Sigma 7" explains the 9-hour voyage that gained important knowledge in the Mercury program.


STS-109: Extending Hubble's life and reach
The fourth servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope extended the craft's scientific potential with an advanced camera and performed a major overhaul on the orbiting observatory's power system with the installation of new solar arrays and an electrical heart. The crew of space shuttle Columbia's STS-109 mission tell the story of the March 2002 mission in this post-flight highlights film.


Shuttle: A Remarkable Flying Machine
"Space Shuttle: A Remarkable Flying Machine" is a NASA movie that takes you inside the first voyage of the space shuttle program. Commander John Young and pilot Bob Crippen flew Columbia in April 1981, opening a new era in American space exploration.


Shuttle booster cams
Check out amazing footage from the video cameras mounted on the twin solid rocket boosters during space shuttle Discovery's nighttime launch.

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STS-116: Full coverage
Relive space shuttle Discovery's STS-116 mission to the International Space Station. We have nearly 200 movie clips from the December flight that installed a new truss segment and retracted a stubborn solar wing.

 Full Coverage

Minotaur launch
It was a beautiful sunrise blastoff for the Orbital Sciences Minotaur rocket from Wallops Flight Facility carrying the Air Force's TacSat 2 spacecraft and NASA's GeneSat 1.

 Full Coverage

First ULA Delta 2
The first United Launch Alliance Delta 2 rocket blasts off from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base carrying a classified payload for the National Reconnaissance Office.

 Full Coverage

Mars water discovery
Mars Global Surveyor has found bright new deposits in two gullies that suggest water may have spurted on the surface during the past few years. The images are presented by scientists in this news briefing presentation.

 Presentation | Q&A

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Paperwork extends Dnepr rocket's recovery from failure

Posted: January 20, 2007

A group of upcoming launches for a converted Russian ballistic missile are being postponed at least two months due to bogged down paperwork needed to clear the rocket for future launches from Kazakhstan's Baikonur Cosmodrome.

This sequence of images shows a Dnepr launching the first Genesis module last year. Credit: Bigelow Aerospace
  Payload teams were notified of the postponement last week, and at least three launches are directly affected by the delays.

The launch of a second inflatable space module for U.S.-based Bigelow Aerospace was pushed back from the end of January to no sooner than about April 1. Two other flights with a menagerie of small science satellites and a German radar satellite were also postponed from January and February, respectively.

Other launches later this year could also be affected, but the extent of those delays are not yet known.

Senior payload officials told Spaceflight Now the paperwork from Kazakhstan's government to clear the Dnepr rocket for future launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome was still pending.

Kazakhstan banned further Dnepr launches from Baikonur after debris from a botched launch in July impacted Kazakh territory south of the booster's launch silo. The wreckage was strewn across a large area, and pictures showed sizable chunks of the launcher carved craters into the desert floor.

The Dnepr's three stages also use a dangerous mix of toxic propellants. The rocket is loaded with hypergolic fuels that react explosively when in contact with each other.

The Russian government paid Kazakhstan more than $1 million to help local officials in cleanup efforts, according to the Interfax news agency.

The launch of Bigelow's Genesis 2 module is planned to occur at the Yasny launch base in far southern Russia, while the other two flights will be out of Baikonur.

"Naturally, we are all disappointed because the spacecraft was and is ready to ship out to meet the original Jan. 30 launch date," said real-estate and hotel entrepreneur Robert Bigelow, founder of Bigelow Aerospace.

Bigelow launched its first module in July, and the 14-foot-long craft has performed well in its first six months in space, according to the company.

The module launched in a contracted configuration, but was filled with compressed air after arriving in space to fully deploy to its operational state. Called Genesis 1, the satellite is a one-third scale model of modules Bigelow eventually hopes to assemble into a private space station.

"Kosmotras has assured Bigelow Aerospace that the Dnepr will soon be prepared to safely and successfully return to flight," Bigelow said in a written statement.

Engineers and students working on a number of small satellites from across the globe were also informed of the delay last week.

"We've just received word from Kosmotras that the launch date will be no earlier than March," said Lori Brooks from California Polytechnic State University.

Brooks is the coordinator for seven tiny CubeSat payloads to be put into space alongside other small satellites from Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

"Their stated reason is that the final paperwork from Kazakhstan to allow more Dnepr flights has not been completed, but they expect it to be done by the end of January," Brooks said.

The Dnepr rocket had completed six successful orbital missions before embarking on its doomed flight in July. The 111-foot-tall booster is a decommissioned R-36M missile, also called the SS-18 by Western analysts.

The converted missile is marketed to international customers by Kosmotras, a company formed in a 1997 agreement between the Russian and Ukrainian governments.

During last summer's failure, the first stage's four-nozzle RD-264 main engine shut down just over one minute after blastoff.

Investigators faulted the hydraulic control system in one of the engine's combustion chambers for the accident, according to a Kosmotras statement.

The engine features a hydraulic control system designed to swivel the power plant's four nozzles from side to side. This subtly changes the direction of the engine's thrust to point the rocket on the correct path.

The investigation board found a brief disturbance in the control system lasting less than one-half second, which was long enough to allow the launcher to veer out of control before its flight computer ordered the engine to switch off.

Damaged insulation inside the engine's fuel and hydraulic lines caused the propellant to overheat in the seconds prior to the failure, according to investigators.

Kosmotras said the insulation damage was due to flaws stemming from the rocket's initial construction in the former Soviet Union, the company said in a written statement last year.

Investigators recommended inspecting the insulation on all missiles destined for use in space missions to check for potential damage before launch.