Thursday, May 2, 2013

Near Space Launch Night May 2

Space Agency waiting lobby
This was the second Near Space Launch on Thursday night May 2nd, 2013, with a goal to nighttime deploy and test the Tiny Space Telescope on stars and planets.

Massive craft engine
After a 1.5-hour wait in the Space Agency's Waiting Lobby, the annexing space center was approached where the massive spacecraft engine was being inspected by five technicians.

Near Space flight was underway during the night after 7pm. Spacecraft buffeting occurred as the craft rose through the clouds and overcast following the launch. The ride became smooth when the craft was positioned on top of the weather front's ceiling. The telescope was started and the night sky was monitored all throughout the night flight.

Near Space Telescope's 1st photo
Safety Ejection System

At two miles altitude, the clouds and haze dissipated and the sky began to clear. At about mid-range at the seven mile altitude mark, stars and planets were visible in a very dark night sky. Unfortunately the cockpit lights would not turn off and the cockpit flooded the window with reflections and bright light. This was reduced as much as possible by make-shift shielding and real time monitoring through the pixel viewer and moving the telescope to least reflective field of view.

Space Transport to and from launch facilities
The Tiny Near Space telescope was immediately engaged and was a success, capturing astro fields where stars and planets were visible. The image shown was taken during spacecraft motion downrange with the small term anti-motion system engaged. Short image motion trails still ensued due to spacecraft buffeting motion during the image's CCD integration time. The sensor was placed in an automatic mode, capable of up to 28,000 ISO. Data is captured, saved with the image file, and played back later for review.

Earth grid tracking to touchdown
Images were shot through the multiple layered viewing port in the cockpit. At the left side of the viewing port, condensation formed in between the layers and was noticeable, therefore the telescope was repositioned towards the upper right portion of the port. The photo resulted from the attitude and orientation of the spacecraft — good luck attributed to the known flight path and the clear skies at the highest altitude. During the time of flight, the Last Quarter Moon was not yet visible (an early morning sky object).

Space facilities structure
The first image taken with the Tiny Space Telescope shows a star / planetary field of view in the upper right corner. The image was cropped only for internal lighting reflections from the spacecraft's view port. More data processing and study will continue over the next several days and weeks.

The space program project concludes that it is possible to lock onto a star or planet for spacecraft celestial navigation, and a Tiny Near Space Telescope can conduct astronomy on star fields and planets during the mission.