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We just launched!

I am spending the next 24 days in London supporting the launch and mission control for the spacecraft encapsulated in the rocket pictured above. I will be sitting on console for Propulsion (as shown here earlier, from the mission rehearsal). 

Any suggestions on things to do/see in London between now and December 27th?

I am spending the next 24 days in London supporting the launch and mission control for the spacecraft encapsulated in the rocket pictured above. I will be sitting on console for Propulsion (as shown here earlier, from the mission rehearsal).

Any suggestions on things to do/see in London between now and December 27th?

GPOYW from the Spacecraft Mission Control Center in London.

I got my prototype Sprite spacecraft, from the KickSat kickstarter campaign to be launched into space Fall 2013 on the CRS-4/ELaNa-5 mission.

The Engine Burns Blue
This image shows a cutting-edge solar-electric propulsion thruster in development at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., that uses xenon ions for propulsion. An earlier version of this solar-electric propulsion engine has been flying on NASA’s Dawn mission to the asteroid belt.

This engine is being considered as part of the Asteroid Initiative, a proposal to robotically capture a small near-Earth asteroid and redirect it safely to a stable orbit in the Earth-moon system where astronauts can visit and explore it. This image was taken through a porthole in a vacuum chamber at JPL where the ion engine is being tested.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

I spend half my time at work on ion propulsion so I’m into this NASA image of the day.


Hello my name is Shah and I have spent the past 7+ years as a spacecraft propulsion scientist/engineer working on liquid and ion propulsion systems for satellites and other unmanned spacecraft. Currently, I serve as a Propulsion Systems Lead (both liquid propulsion and ion propulsion) for a satellite program (the sixth program that I have held the propulsion lead role for). The job has given me the opportunity to do systems/mission design, support the build/manufacturing of the spacecraft, work on space qualification programs, review test data, work on solving some interesting problems, and support as Propulsion Lead on console in a Mission Control Center for many launches and transfer orbit missions. You can read more about that work at the following link.

My undergraduate education was in Chemical Engineering (and Economics, although that isn’t used much). I also went to graduate school for both Systems Architecture & Engineering and Management Science & Engineering.

I have also been very involved in Engineers Without Borders since 2008, serving as the president of our professional chapter for many years and moving on to leadership roles in the West Coast region. I traveled to Tanzania in 2011 to build a rainwater catchment system on a primary school (pictures can be seen at this link).

I also do some consulting for nonprofits working in ocean conservation on how technologies can be used for ocean protection and to improve the work in the field. It is work I started at Stanford University and has allowed me some remarkable opportunities in the last few years.

I am a big believer in the power of engineering to change this world for the better and try to volunteer at STEM events and grade school career days as often as I can.

They are doing an “about the contributors” thing over at Engineering Is Awesome. I was featured today.

(this post was reblogged from engineeringisawesome)


How To Get To Mars – breathtaking, chill-inducing NASA HD film. Do yourself a favor and watch in full-screen.

Complement with the “overview effect” explaining the psychology of cosmic awe and this 1971 discussion on Mars exploration featuring Carl Sagan, Ray Bradbury, and Arthur C. Clarke.

( Coudal)

I love my job so fucking much.

(Source: explore-blog)

(this post was reblogged from sagansense)

powderpastthegenitals asked: I had no idea the JEST was that big. How do they plan on getting it into orbit? Does NASA have a new rocket in the works?

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is big, but that picture is in its fully deployed configuration. The current projected vehicle mass is 6,200 kg, which could fit on some current launch vehicles.

In 2007, the European Space Agency (ESA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding for participation in the JWST mission. The four major European contributions are:

  • provision of the NIRSpec instrument;
  • provision of the Optical Bench Assembly of the MIRI instrument through special funding from the ESA member states;
  • provision of the Ariane-5 ECA launcher;
  • manpower support to JWST operations.

In return for these contributions, ESA gains full partnership in JWST and secures full access to the JWST observatory for astronomers from Member States on identical terms to those of today on the Hubble Space Telescope.

So it is supposed to fly on an Ariane 5 ECA (Evolution Cryotechnique type A) launch vehicle, launching from Guiana Space Centre in French Guiana. Here is more information on the launcher:

The Ariane 5 ECA (Evolution Cryotechnique type A) has a GTO launch capacity of 10,000 kg (22,000 lb) for dual payloads or 10,500 kg (23,000 lb) for a single payload. This variant uses a new Vulcain 2 first-stage engine, and an ESC-A (Etage Supérieur Cryogénique-A) second stage, powered by an HM-7B engine, weighing 2,100 kg (4,600 lb) and carrying 14,000 kg (31,000 lb) of cryogenic propellant. The second stage uses the liquid oxygen tank and lower structure from the Ariane 4’s H10 third stage, mated to a new liquid hydrogen tank. The revised Vulcain has a longer, more efficient nozzle with more efficient flow cycle and denser propellant ratio. The new ratio demanded length modifications to the first-stage tanks. Also, the solid EAP casings have been lightened with new welds, and packed with more propellant. The ESC-A cryogenic second stage does not improve the performance to Low Earth orbit compared to Ariane 5G, and for this reason the Ariane 5 ECA will not be used to launch the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV).

Here is the JWST in its fully stowed configuration within the Ariane faring:


rockets of the world

I went to Sea Launch today to watch them conduct the vertical test on the launch vehicle.

late night at the office

GPOYW - Viewing the May 2012 solar eclipse in Big Sur