launch day report 3

I am here in the press conference room at KSC chatting with David Wedpohl from the German Embassy.

This is to support the visit of Ambassador Dr. Klaus Scharioth to see the launch of Shuttle Crew Member and ISS occupant German Astronaut Thomas Reiter.

The launch is big news in Germany, and all the major German TV networks are here covering the launch.

More Later!

launch day report 2

Everything here still seems to be go.

There is a report that there is a small problem with one of the RCS thrusters.

The RCS (Reaction Control System) thrusters are used to steer the shuttle while on orbit.

There are several redundant thrusters and the folks here are optimistic that this problem will not cause a launch scrub.

I am here at KSC on my tablet computer, so if you have a specific question or comment, you can email me at

Launch Day at KSC

Hello, this is SpaceWeekly editor Arthur J. Byrnes.

Thanks to Nortel, we have wireless network here at the Kennedy Space Center.

We will be providing live blog entries here for the next few hours until launch.

At this point everything looks fine and we are go for Launch. We just had a mini briefing from an Air Force weather expert who says that the weather now looks better for today than it has in a while.

The Launch is scheduled for 3:49 pm local (it is now 10 am local) with a 5 minute launch window.

Will return soon with more!

Russian ROV

The Russian Navy is setting up a rapid response, air transportable rescue system which can be rushed to the assistance of stricken submariners.

The underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) that forms the main part of this package will come from British company Seaeye Marine who has been awarded the contract to supply its 0.5 tonne, state-of-the-art Panther Plus electric powered work class ROV system.

The need for a rapid response system follows lessons learnt from the recent rescue of the Pritz AS-2S mini submarine and her seven man crew by a Royal Navy ROV that was air lifted from the UK to the Russian Far East in August last year.

Seaeye’s Panther Plus will be fitted with sonar and an acoustic tracking system to assist locate and position a distressed submarine as well as a full suite of colour and low light black and white video cameras to provide rescue planners with underwater pictures of the submarine on the seabed.

The ROV will also be fitted with two manipulators, an 8 inch rotary disc cutter and a hydraulic guillotine cutter with a capacity to cut up to 38 mm wire rope and assist with debris clearance. This ROV, which also has the capability of inserting emergency life support stores into a distressed submarine, is able to connect hoses and lines to a submarine’s salvage connections to help keep the crew alive while waiting for their rescue.

The complete package includes a Seaeye tether management system (TMS) which acts as a subsea garage for the ROV out of which it is flown when it reaches the operational depth. A winch and ‘A’ frame that has been specially modified for air transport will be provided to launch and recover the Panther Plus in its TMS.

Unlike the Royal Navy’s heavy hydraulically powered ROV, the Russians have opted for the significantly lighter but equally capable modern option of an ROV with brushless DC electric thrusters for which Seaeye are the specialists. This will provide the simple maintenance and repair routines of a plug-and-play modular system as well as the ability to operate from the decks of a wider variety of smaller vessels-of-opportunity in conditions of up to sea state 6.

Seaeye’s Moscow based Russian partners for this contract, Tetis Pro, will integrate the Panther Plus control system and other topside equipment into custom designed containers as well as provide the transportation package, local logistic support and training for the whole system.

Seaeye first worked with Tetis and the Russian Navy following the Kursk submarine disaster with the delivery of 7 smaller inspection / observation class Tiger ROVs that are currently operational with each of the Russian fleets.

It was a video survey of the trapped submarine by one of these Seaeye Tigers that proved critical in the rescue planning for the Pritz and it was the excellent reliability and performance of these systems that was to swing the decision to purchase an electric powered work class ROV in Seaeye’s favour. The Panther Plus will be delivered to Russia in August this year.

This Panther Plus will be the 21st to be delivered by the company and joins systems in production for Rovtech in Scotland and RUETC in China.

Aviation Patterns

A new forecast issued by EUROCONTROL highlights the need for policy-makers to plan for substantial increases in the numbers of flights across Europe as well as changes to the pattern of these flights over the coming 7 years.

The medium-term forecast looks at growth across Europe over the next 7 years. It concludes that there will be over 11.4 million flights per year in Europe by 2012, 26% more than 2005. On average, this represents a growth of 3.3% each year. However the study finds that growth will not be uniform across the region, with some countries such as Romania, Ukraine and Armenia predicted to see growth of over 50% in the 7 year period, while others, such as Switzerland or Norway have growth predictions around 20%.

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Skyquest Displays

Skyquest Aviation, the UK manufacturer of specialist airborne surveillance equipment, announced that the UK’s Metropolitan Police have selected their Video Management System for installation in their new fleet of EC145 helicopters.

Under the contract Skyquest will supply a comprehensive surveillance suite for each aircraft giving the police new capabilities in airborne surveillance. Each aircraft will be fitted with 5 multi-function mission displays and multiple digital video recorders. Operators, regardless of their position in the aircraft, can select any sensor image or multiple sensor images to be called to their display and send any selected data to microwave downlink or recording equipment onboard the helicopters.

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RTS 6400 Optronics Radar

RRS has developed, manufactured and qualified a new generation Naval Optronics Radar Tracker, currently aboard the four new MEKO A200 Patrol Corvettes of the South African Navy.

The Official handing over ceremony and commissioning parade of the First-Of-Class vessel SAS Amatola took place in Simonstown, South Africa on 16 February 2006.

These ships are of the most advanced warships in the world today. Featuring a stealth design, SAS Amatola combines a number of world-first propulsion technologies with an innovative and largely South African combat system, including locally designed combat management, communications, electronic warfare, tracking radar, electro-optic, missile and gun systems from more than 20 South African high-tech companies, making the ship a show-case of SA engineering ingenuity and skill.

RRS’ contribution to this major event is the successful sea qualification and hand-over of the RTS 6400, a high-performance monopulse X-band combined optronics and radar tracking system, which performs a pivotal role in the self-defence of the corvette.

It is a major milestone for RRS, being the first South African Radar Tracking System to have been fully commissioned into the SA Navy.

More details relating to the product may be found at RRS’ website

Tri-Cor Industries Adopts INMEDIUS S1000D

Technical Documentation Production Software to Support NASA, Military, Commercial IT Projects.

Inmedius announced the purchase of its S1000D Publishing Suite by TRI-COR Industries, an Information Technology (IT) support services firm headquartered in Lanham, Maryland. The multi-user contract includes maintenance, onsite training and consulting services to support the production of both electronic and paper-based documentation for TRI-COR government and commercial clients.

Comprehensive, integrated, and easy to use, the Inmedius S1000D Publishing Suite — S1000Dmanager™, S1000DauthorPro™, S1000Dinteract™ and S1000Dtransition™ — address every facet of an S1000D implementation, to capture, create, manage and deploy technical information.
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A towering 50-foot robot from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) will thrill throngs of parade-goers lining the streets of Pasadena, Calif., New Year’s Day.

Resembling a giant transformer toy, the massive float, entitled “Family of Explorers,” honors nine Earth and space exploration missions managed by JPL for NASA. The robot’s arms and legs are adorned with models of each mission.
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