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NASA’s Launching Rockets in Alaska to Study Ozone-Killing Compounds

Black Brant IX PolarNOx launch on Jan. 27, 2017. (NASA/Jamie Adkins)

Black Brant IX sounding rocket was launched 175 miles high early Friday morning, Jan. 27, 2017, from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Poker Flat Research Range to study levels of nitric oxide in the atmosphere as part of the Polar Night Nitric Oxide Experiment (PolarNOx).

“The aurora creates nitric oxide, but in the polar night there is no significant process for destroying the nitric oxide,” said Scott Bailey, the principal investigator for PolarNOx from Virginia Tech. “We believe it builds up to large concentrations. The purpose of our rocket is to measure the abundance and altitude of peak abundance for the nitric oxide.”

“Nitric oxide under appropriate conditions can be transported to the stratosphere where it will catalytically destroy ozone,” Bailey said. Those changes in ozone can lead to changes in stratospheric temperature and wind, and may even impact the circulation at Earth’s surface.

Read the full story here: NASA Sounding Rocket Successfully Launches into Alaskan Night


First Flight of the Lunar Module, 49 Years Ago Today

Liftoff of the Apollo 5 Saturn IB on Jan. 22, 1968.

Liftoff of the Apollo 5 Saturn IB on Jan. 22, 1968. (NASA/JSC)

49 years ago today, at 5:48 p.m. on Jan. 22, 1968, a stocky Saturn IB roared into the sky from Pad 37B at Kennedy Space Center taking the Lunar Module on its first flight into space. The uncrewed Apollo 5 mission would put LM-1 through a series of tests in low-Earth orbit, making sure that the vehicle was ready to carry America’s astronauts to the Moon, deliver them to its rugged surface, and bring them back safely.

Watch a video from NASA’s Johnson Space Center below showing details of the Apollo 5 mission, including the launch:

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SpaceX Nails Another Landing at Sea—This Time in the Pacific!


Falcon 9 first stage after a bullseye landing on the deck of Just Read the Instructions on Jan. 14, 2017. (SpaceX live video)

Falcon 9 first stage after a bullseye landing on the deck of Just Read the Instructions on Jan. 14, 2017. (SpaceX live video)

Today, January 14, 2017, SpaceX achieved another commercial launch success with the delivery of ten Iridium satellites to orbit—the first of 70 that will comprise the next generation IridiumNext constellation—as well as a new milestone in its ongoing trek toward reusable launch capability: the first successful landing of a Falcon 9 first-stage booster on its Pacific-based autonomous drone ship, Just Read the Instructions.

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2017 Will Be a Busy Year for Florida’s Space Coast


Launch of OSIRIS-REx aboard a ULA Atlas V 411 on Sept. 8, 2016.

Florida’s Space Coast is anticipating 32 rocket launches in 2017, according to the USAF’s 45th Space Wing which manages Patrick AFB and the launch region around Cape Canaveral. This is nine more than the amount that launched from the Cape in 2016 (two of which I was lucky enough to be present for) but still just a few short of the 2021 goal of 48 launches annually. Still, with launch providers like ULA, OrbitalATK, and SpaceX all increasing their services for NASA, the U.S. military, and commercial companies—and newcomer Blue Origin ready in the wings—the Space Coast is rapidly becoming a busy place again…undoubtedly a welcome development nearly six years after the last shuttle flight.

Read the rest of this article and watch a video of 2016’s launches on Florida Today.

Watch Incredible High-Speed Footage of the Apollo 11 Saturn V Liftoff

The Saturn V line of heavy launch vehicles used for NASA’s Apollo program were to this day the most powerful rockets ever used, and this video shows an intimate on-pad view of the ignition and liftoff of the one that carried Apollo 11 into space on July 16, 1969. Captured at 500 frames per second, the mesmerizing 8 minutes of footage represent 30 seconds in real time (as described in the video by Mark Gray of Spacecraft Films.)

Why? Because watching giant machines ride controlled mega-explosions into space will never not be fun!

You can view a similar high-speed video of the Apollo 13 Saturn launch here, and check out some of the interesting Apollo 11 post-launch “B-roll” footage captured by the many cameras set up around the pad below:

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