Posts tagged ‘NASA’

FRIDAY FOTO (March 6, 2020)

Army Astronaut.

COL Andrew Morgan spacewalk

(Photo by Luca Parmitano, European Space Agency)

This photo shows Army Colonel Andrew Morgan, a NASA astronaut, pausing for a photo outside the International Space Station before going back to work at the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer site on January 25, 2020.

Until a few years ago, your 4GWAR editor usually did not think “Army” when someone mentioned  “Astronaut.”

But Morgan is one of three soldiers currently in NASA’s astronaut program. He and fellow astronaut, Lieutenant Colonel Anne McClain, were featured in a  November 30, 2018 FRIDAY FOTO. The third current Army astronaut is Lieutenant Colonel Frank Rubio. All three are West Point graduates. Rubio and Morgan are both physicians and Rubio and McClain are former combat helicopter pilots. Morgan, a former demonstration parachutist, served as a physician with Army Special Forces.

Right Stuff indeed.

Most of the early astronauts were Air Force or Navy pilots. John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, was a Marine. Deke Slayton, one of the first seven astronauts in Project Mercury, started out in the Army Air Forces during World War II.  But he was serving in the Air Force when selected to be part of the first class of astronauts. Unfortunately, he was grounded because of an erratic heart beat and did not make it into space until the 1970s with the Apollo  program.

In 1976, Brigadier General, then-Major Robert L. Stewart became the Army’s first astronaut. Another combat helicopter pilot (Vietnam), he flew on two Space Shuttle missions and was preparing for his third when he was promoted to general and left NASA to become deputy commander of Army Strategic Defense Command.


March 6, 2020 at 11:32 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (January 3, 2020)

Gray (and Graying) Formation.

JBSA-Randolph focuses on building Instructor Pilot’s Skills

(U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sergeant Christopher Boitz)

Looking (from this angle) more like wingless, flying cars out of a science fiction movie, a trio of T-38C Talons travel in a tight formation over Texas. This December 19, 2019 photo was taken while the T-38s — which do have wings — were returning to Joint Base San Antonio after a training flight.

The Northrop T-38 was the world’s first supersonic advanced jet trainer and has served as the Air Force’s primary aircraft for training fighter pilots since 1961. The Air Force Air Education and Training Command uses the T-38C variant to prepare pilots for front-line fighter and bomber aircraft such as the F-15E Strike Eagle, F-15C Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon, B-1B Lancer, A-10 Thunderbolt and F-22 Raptor.

The twin-engine, high-altitude Talon has been used in a variety of roles because of its “design, economy of operations, ease of maintenance, high performance and exceptional safety record,” according to the January 2014 Air Force fact sheet. The dart-like jet is also used by NASA and the Turkish Air Force and was flown in the past by the air forces of Germany, Portugal, South Korea and Taiwan.

However, there have been at least a half a dozen crashes involving ageing U.S. T-38s since November 2017, according to the Stars and Stripes newspaper.  The worn out T-38s are restricted from making the tight turns of today’s fighters, lest they disintegrate in midair, Smithsonian’s Air & Space magazine reported in 2018. Pilots training on the F-22 and F-35 must undergo additional training in F-16s to verify that they can handle the G-forces, Air & Space noted.

On September 27, 2018, the Air Force awarded The Boeing Company a contract, worth up to $9.2 billion, to procure 351 Advanced Pilot Training (APT T-X) aircraft and 46 Ground-Based Training Systems to replace the existing fleet of T-38C jet trainers, according to the Congressional Research Service.

The new trainer was officially named the T-7A Red Hawk, to honor the Tuskegee Airmen, the African-American fighter pilots of World War II — who were known as the Red Tails because they decorated their P-47 Thunderbolts and P-51 Mustangs with a red-tailed paint scheme.

Oh, and by the way — Happy New Year everyone!

January 3, 2020 at 1:03 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (November 30, 2018)

Underwater Promotion.

FRI FO test 11-30-2018

(NASA Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory photo)

Army astronauts Colonel Andrew “Drew” Morgan (left) and Lieutenant Colonel Anne McClain prepare to be promoted to their current ranks while underwater following required training in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory at the Sonny Carter Training Facility in Houston, Texas.

This photo was taken in September, but now Lieutenant Colonel McClain is in Star City, Russia, preparing for a December 3 launch on a Russian Soyuz rocket to the International Space Station.

“I am so happy that I’m going to have six months in space,” McClain — who is part of the Army Space and Missile Defense Command’s small astronaut detachment — said during an early November teleconference press briefing. “We’re not just going to space to visit, we’re going to go there to live.”

A West Point graduate, test pilot and combat helicopter pilot, McClain was selected for NASA’s human spaceflight program in 2013, along with fellow West Pointer, Colonel Morgan, a medical doctor, Special Forces emergency physician and former Army parachutist and skydiver.  His space mission is slated for launch in July.

If her launch goes as planned, McClain will be the first active-duty Army officer in space since 2010. Her three-person crew is expected to launch from Kazakhstan aboard a Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft and rocket.

“Feeling the thrust of the rocket is going to be something that I am really looking forward to,” she said. “It is going to be a completely new experience.” McClain, 39, of Spokane, Washington, will serve as a flight engineer for Expedition 58/59.

While her crew prepares to lift off on a rocket similar to one that suffered a malfunction October 11 — triggering an automatic abort and emergency landing, McClain says she’s not worried. The Soyuz rocket, she noted, has had an amazing track record. Before last month’s incident, the rocket’s previous aborted mission was in 1983.

“I saw that October 11 incident, not as a failure, but as an absolute success,” she said. “What this really proved was that the Russian launch abort system is a really great design and for that reason we have that backup plan.

McClain’s crew also received a debriefing from both astronauts in the aborted mission — Air Force Colonel Nick Hague and his Russian counterpart, Alexey Ovchinin.

November 30, 2018 at 6:15 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (March 17, 2017)

Sky Divers/Space Divers.

103rd Rescue Squadron Assists NASA during SENTRY ALOHA

(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sergeant Christopher Muncy.)

Airmen practicing new spacecraft recovery techniques jump from a C-17 cargo plane into the waters off Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam near Honolulu, Hawaii on March 7, 2017.

The white ring near the diver on the right is not a cloud or smoke but the wake of a small boat circling the orange target in the water far below these parachutists.

These pararescuemen and combat rescue officers, assigned to the New York Air National Guard’s 103rd Rescue Squadron, 106th Rescue Wing, are training with the equipment and  techniques that will be used to recover the crew module of NASA’s Orion spacecraft. The skydivers got their lift to the exercise on a C-17 supplied by the Hawaii Air National Guard’s 154th Wing, 204th Airlift Squadron.

To see more photos of this operation, click here.


March 17, 2017 at 12:21 am Leave a comment

ARCTIC: Government Shutdown’s Consequences

NASA Arctic Study Could Be Put on Ice

If the U.S. budget battle between the Obama administration and Republicans in Congress results in a federal government shutdown this weekend a NASA study of polar ice will probably come to a premature end for the year.

Arctic ice in Greenland. NASA photo by xxxxxxxx

Frozen canyons and glaciers in Greenland. NASA photo by Michael Studinger

NASA says all its personnel and aircraft in Greenland would have to return home to Virginia if federal funding is halted by the battle in Washington, says a ClimateWire story via the New York Times.

Even if the shutdown is shor-lived, it is unlikely the personnel and equipment could return to the Arctic before the spring ice melt begins.

NASA’s Operation IceBridge has been surveying Arctic land and sea ice with specially equipped aircraft, including a P-3B research plane. Monitoring sea ice and the snow depth on top of it helps quantify sea ice thickness and predict the heat exchange between the rctic ocean and the atmosphere.

Knowing how fast Arctic ice is melting could give government planners a handle on the effects of climate chamnnge in the Arctic, it would also signal the potential opening of the Nothwest Passage from the Atlantic to Pacific oceans via Canadian Arctic waters. (See: 4GWAR, July 1, 2010 and April 28, 2010).

If the U.S. government shuts down, this P-3B scientific surveilance aircraft would have to return to Virginia from Greenland. NASA photo by Kathryn Hansen

For a video on NASA’s Operation IceBridge, click here.

April 7, 2011 at 11:56 pm Leave a comment


August 2022


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