Thursday, May 2, 2013

Near Space Launch Morning May 2

The clock was ticking the countdown to an early morning launch
Robotic flight machine at the launch site
The morning time Near Space launch was well underway by 8:30 am for this new suborbital space flight. 

The goal was to test GPS positioning hardware and software 7.2 miles altitude in Near Space above the Sea of China, and to test the new Tiny Space Telescope during the daytime, pointed at the Sun for celestial navigation positioning.

Space Administration Asian launch map with key cities
A weather front blocked viewing above 7.2 miles
At 9:30 am, observations were being recorded for altitude, temperature, spacecraft elapsed time, comparative ground speed, space imagery, compass, distance and time to reentry position.

GPS and cell phones with GPS did not work due to blocked signals. The spacecraft was never positioned where the cockpit window viewed the sun and the telescope was not useful. No fix on any sun-like celestial object was possible. Internet did not work and instruments reporting from internet failed.

Agency trucks and equipment transports
Realtime weather reporting did not work. There was no access to WiFi and Carrier Services failed.

Localized in-flight cockpit instruments, like the magnetic compass, were fully functional. iPhone localized apps were fully functional.

Magnetic Compass app fully functional
At 7.2 miles altitude, an unusual haze appeared above, blocking daytime observations of stars and planets with the telescope.

The Moon was not visible through the cockpit window (The Moon was an early morning object in Last Quarter phase and positioned at 2 am, outside the time frame of this space flight). No daytime data was collected through the telescope.
Tenuous weather above 7.2 miles

Overcast skies and a mountain range were visible during final reentry approach

Left: Near Space is seen at 7.2 miles high. Note the unusual light tenuous clouds not seen in other Near Space flights. This image is unprocessed. Usually the sky above the 6-mile mark is very clear.

Another image, shown above, has heavy processing to show the details of these light tenuous wisps of banding weather front clouds. These bands could interfere with space telescope operations causing light absorption and limiting stellar magnitude.

Looking down on the Earth, all throughout the flight, only complete cloud cover was monitored. The launch was overcast and so was the reentry. Note the special panorama image taken during reentry and final approach, showing overcast skies, haze and mist, and mountains. Landing occurred at the base of these mountains at an unspecified location.