Friday, February 29, 2008

NASA Gives "Go" For Space Shuttle Launch On March 11

Feb. 29, 2008

Candrea Thomas
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
321-867-2468 candrea.k.thomas@nasa.gov

Michael Curie
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-4715
michael.curie@nasa.gov

RELEASE: 08-072

NASA GIVES "GO" FOR SPACE SHUTTLE LAUNCH ON MARCH 11

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - NASA senior managers completed a review Friday of space shuttle Endeavour's readiness for flight and selected March 11 as the official launch date for the STS-123 mission. Commander Dominic Gorie and his six crewmates are scheduled to lift off to the International Space Station at 2:28 a.m. EDT.

During the 16-day mission, the crew will deliver and install the first section of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Kibo laboratory and the Canadian Space Agency's two-armed robotic system, Dextre. Five spacewalks will be conducted during the flight.

Endeavour's launch date was announced after the conclusion of Friday's Flight Readiness Review. During the two-day meeting, top NASA and contractor managers assessed the risks associated with the mission and determined the shuttle's equipment, support systems and procedures are ready for flight.
Gorie will be joined on STS-123 by Pilot Gregory H. Johnson and Mission Specialists Robert L. Behnken, Mike Foreman, Rick Linnehan, Garrett Reisman and Japanese astronaut Takao Doi. Reisman will remain on the station as a resident crew member, replacing station flight engineer Leopold Eyharts of the European Space Agency, who will return home on Endeavour.

For more information about the STS-123 mission, including images and interviews with the crew, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/shuttle

-end-

Friday, February 22, 2008

VP6DX: Not Really Ute, But Interesting

The last couple of nights, the gray line has really been blasting in here. For example, the first major ham radio DXpedition of 2008, VP6DX, is right now S6 on 10106 kHz CW into L.A. for the second evening in a row. (Never understimate gray line... It's how I nailed Clipperton on 100 watts to a simple inverted vee...)

VP6DX is on Ducie Island. It's an uninhabited piece of land to the east of Pitcairn Island, the place the Bounty ended up. Any time a place makes Pitcairn look like civilization, you KNOW you are nowhere. He'd actually worked 30 meters out for a time, but now he's running stations again, and actually getting stronger. Come on you guys in SoCal, you've got to have a signal, here's a new one.

More at ARRL.

UPDATE 0321 UTC
: VP6DX is also on RTTY, 10148.9 kHz, taking calls down 10. You have to love ham radio.

Monday, February 18, 2008

First STS-122 Landing Opportunity on Wednesday

From NASA Public Office:

NASA managers will evaluate weather conditions at Kennedy before permitting Atlantis to return to Earth. Wednesday landing opportunities at Kennedy are at 9:07 a.m. and 10:42 a.m. EST. There are additional opportunities at 12:12 p.m. and 1:47 p.m. at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., a backup landing site. The shuttle's other backup site for landing, White Sands Space Harbor, N.M., will not be activated Wednesday.

Press Release: US Coast Guard Continues HF Weather Broadcasts

Press Release
DATE: February 07, 2008 14:39:41 EST
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Office of Public Affairs
U.S. Coast Guard

Contact: (202) 475-3555


US Coast Guard Continues HF Weather Broadcasts


WASHINGTON - Last April the Coast Guard asked for public comment on the need to continue broadcasting high frequency (HF) high seas weather forecasts for single sideband voice, facsimile charts and text messages over radiotelex (e.g. HF NAVTEX). The Coast Guard required public comment because the infrastructure necessary to provide these services had exceeded its life expectancy and significant costs were involved to continue these services.

After reviewing and analyzing the substantial public response that overwhelmingly urged the continuation of these services, the Coast Guard's "business case study" concluded that it was necessary to continue HF weather broadcasts. The business case study, "An Impact Assessment of Discontinuing USCG High-Frequency Radio Broadcasts of NWS Marine Weather Forecasts" is posted at:
http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/marcomms/high_frequency/HF-WX_notice.htm

The study concluded:

"The responding public collectively perceives that the USCG HF broadcasts are essential to their safety. There is no viable alternative to the USCG HF broadcasts because present alternatives are perceived by the public to be out of financial reach. Also, marine weather forecasts available through these alternative sources may not guarantee the same level of accuracy, timeliness, and/or sufficiency as provided by the USCG HF broadcasts."

While the Coast Guard does not have funds necessary to replace all of its HF transmitters, funds are available to replace the 20 transmitters used for weather broadcasts.

###

The U.S. Coast Guard is a military, maritime, multi-mission service within the
Department of Homeland Security dedicated to protecting the safety and security of America.

------------

The full report is here. It is very comprehensive and informative, and worth the time to get and read it.

------------

Here's more from USCG Navcen:


The Coast Guard's HF infrastructure


The Coast Guard's HF infrastructure consisting of 123 10KW transmitters are no longer supportable. Repair parts are increasingly difficult to find, more expensive, and take can months to obtain. Funds should be available to replace many, but not all of these transmitters. Consequently all but the most essential HF services are or will be terminated. However, due to responsive received from the public and the conclusions of the business case report, the Coast Guard has decided to continue HF broadcasts of high seas weather forecasts and warnings without interruption. Transmitters used for this purpose will be included among those recapitalized.

The Coast Guard uses 20 high power transmitters to broadcast HF weather facsimile, voice and text (SITOR) high seas weather forecasts to mariners. Three additional Navy transmitters are used to broadcast weather information from Guam. The cost to replace one of these transmitters is ~$200K with installation ($4M total for those used for weather broadcasts).

Reliable, high power transmitters are needed to ensure mariners can reliably receive weather information anywhere within the National Weather Service’s area of responsibility.


[Presumably the services to be affected by the phase-out of the other transmitters include those on this list that are not required by GMDSS or other treaties. More when it happens. -Hugh]

USCG Will Not Drop HF!

This news item has been up for over a week on the Mscan Meteo homepage, though I just ran across it today. It's the first news I've seen of the Coast Guard's decision on its HF services. The news, apparently, is good:

7 February 2008

I just received word that thanks to the feedback of the cruising community around the world, the future of HF radio services is saved! The Coast Guard concludes The responding public collectively perceives that the USCG HF broadcasts are essential to their safety. There is no viable alternative to the USCG HF broadcasts because present alternatives are perceived by the public to be out of financial reach. Also, marine weather forecasts available through these alternative sources may not guarantee the same level of accuracy, timeliness, and/or sufficiency as provided by the USCG HF broadcasts.


More to come......

Thursday, February 14, 2008

NASA Updates 2008 Shuttle Target Launch Dates

Feb. 14, 2008

Allard Beutel
Kennedy Space Center, Fla. 321-867-2468 allard.beutel@nasa.gov
Katherine Trinidad
Headquarters, Washington 202-358-3749
katherine.trinidad@nasa.gov

Kyle Herring
Johnson Space Center, Houston
281-483-5111
kyle.j.herring@nasa.gov

RELEASE: 08-056

NASA UPDATES SHUTTLE TARGET LAUNCH DATES

HOUSTON - NASA officials on Thursday revised the target launch dates for space shuttle flights during the second half of 2008. The space shuttle and International Space Station programs agreed to the changes during a meeting at NASA's Johnson Space Center to evaluate options following the STS-122 mission delay.

The next two shuttle flights, STS-123 on Endeavour targeted for March 11 and STS-124 on Discovery targeted for April 24, are being assessed and coordinated with NASA's international partners. Any decision on those launch dates will take place after the current STS-122 mission lands.

Late 2008 shuttle mission target launch dates are: Aug. 28 - Atlantis (STS-125) to service the Hubble Space Telescope Oct. 16 - Endeavour (STS-126) to deliver equipment to the International Space Station Dec. 4 - Discovery (STS-119) to deliver the final set of solar arrays to the station.

Flights beyond 2008 have not been assessed. Both shuttle and station program officials are considering options for scheduling the remainder of the shuttle flights.

The shuttle launch manifest is available at:

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/structure/iss_manifest.html
For details on upcoming shuttle missions and their crews, visit:
http://www.nasa.gov/shuttle

-end-

Thursday, February 07, 2008

STS-122 Update 1725 UTC

The crew has suited up and boarded Atlantis, which has no technical issues that would prevent launch. However, weather is now up to a 70% of violating launch criteria due to a persistent cold front.

Larry Van Horn has updated MT's NASA content. See his posting to his MT Milcom Blog.

STS-122 Will Try Again Tomorrow

The oft-postponed launch of the STS-122 shuttle mission to the International Space Station is on for Thursday, February 7, at 2:45 PM Eastern (1945 UTC). An issue with a bent radiator hose has been sufficiently resolved to allow a safe flight.

Booster Recovery Vessels are currently deploying downrange.

Weather at Cape Canaveral has a 40% chance of preventing launch.

Monday, February 04, 2008

SAQ To Transmit on 17.2 kHz Wednesday

SAQ, Grimeton Radio in Sweden, is planning a test transmission at 1000 UTC on Wednesday, February 6. The 1-hour broadcast will be made with a 200 kW Alexanderson alternator, basically a large electric generator which produces RF instead of low frequency AC. The frequency is 17.2 kilohertz. Not megahertz, kilohertz. That's low.

This is a radio museum with an original, Marconi-era, maritime coastal station in operating condition. The antenna is enormous. This transmitter is audible worldwide with the right equipment and low noise conditions.