May 9, 2016


NASA TV to Broadcast Dragon Departure from International Space Station





Article from the website


After delivering almost 7,000 pounds of cargo to the International Space Station, including the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft is set to leave the orbital laboratory with valuable science research and return to Earth on Wednesday, May 11. NASA Television will provide live coverage of Dragon's departure beginning at 9 a.m. EDT.


The Dragon capsule, which arrived at the station April 10, will be detached from the Earth-facing side of the station's Harmony module using the Canadarm2 robotic arm, operated by ground controllers. Robotics controllers will maneuver Dragon into place and Expedition 47 robotic arm operator Tim Peake of ESA (European Space Agency) will execute the command for its 9:18 a.m. release.


Dragon will fire its thrusters three times to move to a safe distance from the station before being commanded to begin its deorbit burn about 2 p.m. The capsule will splash down in the Pacific Ocean about 2:55 p.m. The deorbit burn and splashdown will not be broadcast on NASA TV.


A recovery team will retrieve the capsule and its more than 3,700 pounds of return cargo, including samples from ongoing space station research, which ultimately will be shipped to laboratories for further study. This cargo includes samples from human research, biology and biotechnology studies, physical science investigations and education activities sponsored by NASA and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the nonprofit organization that manages research aboard the U.S. national laboratory portion of the space station. The spacecraft also will return the final batch of human research samples from the one-year crew mission.


In the event of adverse weather conditions in the Pacific, the backup departure and splashdown date is Saturday, May 14.


Dragon, the only space station resupply spacecraft able to return to Earth intact, launched April 8 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, for the company’s eighth NASA-contracted commercial resupply mission to the station.


For NASA TV scheduling and video streaming information, visit:



A Teachable Moment You Can See! The Transit of Mercury



Article from the website


By Lyle Tavernier


Transit of Mercury 2016


This animation shows the path Mercury will take as it transits the sun on May 9, 2016. See below for more on how to safely watch the transit of Mercury. Credit: NASA

UPDATE - May 9, 2016: NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, spacecraft captured stunning images of the May 9, 2016 transit of Mercury. Visit the mission's Transit of Mercury page to see a collection of videos of the transit compiled using SDO images. And have students play "Can You Spot Mercury?" in our educational slideshow. 


In the News


It only happens about 13 times per century and hasn’t happened in nearly a decade, but on Monday, May 9, Mercury will transit the sun. A transit happens when a planet crosses in front of a star. From our perspective on Earth, we only ever see two planets transit the sun: Mercury and Venus. (Transits of Venus are even more rare. The next one won't happen until 2117!) On May 9, as Mercury passes in front of the sun, viewers around Earth (using the proper safety equipment) will be able to see a tiny dark spot moving slowly across the disk of the sun.


CAUTION: Looking directly at the sun can cause permanent vision damage – see below for tips on how to safely view the transit.


Why It's Important

Then and Now


In the early 1600s, Johannes Kepler discovered that both Mercury and Venus would transit the sun in 1631. It was fortunate timing: The telescope had been invented just 23 years earlier and the transits wouldn’t happen in the same year again until 13425. Kepler didn’t survive to see the transits, but French astronomer Pierre Gassendi became the first person to see the transit of Mercury (the transit of Venus wasn’t visible from Europe). It was soon understood that transits could be used as an opportunity to measure the apparent diameter – how large a planet appears from Earth – with great accuracy.


In 1677, Edmond Halley observed the transit of Mercury and realized that the parallax shift of the planet – the variation in Mercury’s apparent position against the disk of the sun as seen by observers at distant points on Earth – could be used to accurately measure the distance between the sun and Earth, which wasn’t known at the time.


Today, radar is used to measure the distance between Earth and the sun with greater precision than can be found using transit observations, but the transit of Mercury still provides scientists with opportunities for scientific investigation in two important areas: exospheres and exoplanets.







The magic of flying has inspired generations. These 35 quotes distill wit and wisdom from more than a century of powered flight—on flying as well as life.


It isn’t often that a writer of superlative skills knows enough about flying to write well about it.

— Samuel Hynes, A Teller of Tales Tells His Own, in The New York Times, 7 September 1997.


Anyone can do the job when things are going right. In this business we play for keeps.

— Ernest K. Gann


It is possible to fly without motors, but not without knowledge and skill.

— Wilbur Wright


What is chiefly needed is skill rather than machinery.

— Wilbur Wright, letter to Octave Chanute, 13 May 1900


Man is not as good as a black box for certain specific things. However he is more flexible and reliable. He is easily maintained and can be manufactured by relatively unskilled labour.

— Wing Commander H. P. Ruffell Smith, RAF, 1949


The way I see it, you can either work for a living or you can fly airplanes. Me, I’d rather fly.

— Len Morgan


He moves not through distance, but through the ranges of satisfaction that come from hauling himself up into the air with complete and utter control; from knowing himself and knowing his airplane so well that he can come somewhere close to touching, in his own special and solitary way, that thing that is called perfection.

— Richard Bach, A Gift of Wings


Accuracy means something to me. It’s vital to my sense of values. I’ve learned not to trust people who are inaccurate. Every aviator knows that if mechanics are inaccurate, aircraft crash. If pilots are inaccurate, they get lost—sometimes killed. In my profession life itself depends on accuracy.

— Charles A. Lindbergh, ‘The Spirit of St. Louis,’ 1953


An airplane might disappoint any pilot but it’ll never surprise a good one.

— Len Morgan


From a safety standpoint, in our view one of the things that we do in the basic design is the pilot always has the ultimate authority of control. There’s no computer on the airplane that he cannot override or turn off if the ultimate comes. In terms of any of our features, we don’t inhibit that totally. We make it difficult, but if something in the box should behave inappropriately, the pilot can say ‘This is wrong’ and he can override it. That’s a fundamental difference in philosophy that we have versus some of the competition.

— John Cashman, Chief Test Pilot Boeing 777


A pilot who says he has never been frightened in an airplane is, I’m afraid, lying.

— Louise Thaden


I’ve never seen an airplane yet that can read the type ratings on your pilot’s license.

— Chuck Boedecker


The best safety device is the pilot, who, deep down, regardless of the aircraft, retains a sense of fallibility and vulnerability. No system can ever substitute for that.

— Arnold Reiner, retired airline captain and a former director of flight safety at Pan Am, end of Pilots on Autopilot op-ed, the New York Times, 16 December 2009


Get rid at the outset of the idea that the airplane is only an air-going sort of automobile. It isn’t. It may sound like one and smell like one, and it may have been interior decorated to look like one; but the difference is—it goes on wings.

— Wolfgang Langewiesche, first words of Stick and Rudder: An Explanation of the Art of Flying, 1944


I was always afraid of dying. Always. It was my fear that made me learn everything I could about my airplane and my emergency equipment, and kept me flying respectful of my machine and always alert in the cockpit.

— General Chuck Yeager, ‘Yeager, An Autobiography.


Experience is that marvelous thing that enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again.

— Franklin P. Jones


Prepare for the unknown, unexpected and inconceivable … after 50 years of flying I’m still learning every time I fly.

— Gene Cernan


I could be president of Sikorsky for six months before they found me out, but the president would only have my job for six seconds before he’d kill himself.

— Walter R. ‘Dick’ Faull, test pilot


Keep the aeroplane in such an attitude that the air pressure is always directly in the pilot’s face.

— Horatio C. Barber, 1916


When a flight is proceeding incredibly well, something was forgotten.

— Robert Livingston, Flying The Aeronca>


Never fly the ‘A’ model of anything.

— Ed Thompson


You’ve got to expect things are going to go wrong. And we always need to prepare ourselves for handling the unexpected.

— Neil Armstrong, 2005


Though I Fly Through the Valley of Death I Shall Fear No Evil For I am 80,000 feet and Climbing.

— sign over the entrance to the SR-71 operating location on Kadena AB Okinawa


Better to hit the far fence at 10 knots than the close fence at VRef.

— Captain Rick Davies, Chief Pilot, Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia (Queensland Section), advice given to new captains


Never fly in the same cockpit with someone braver than you.

— Richard Herman Jr, Firebreak.


Learning the secret of flight from a bird was a good deal like learning the secret of magic from a magician. After you know what to look for you see things that you did not notice when you did not know exactly what to look for.

— Orville Wright


I saw for the first time the earth’s shape. I could easily see the shores of continents, islands, great rivers, folds of the terrain, large bodies of water. The horizon is dark blue, smoothly turning to black… the feelings which filled me I can express with one word—joy.

— Yuri A. Gagarin


Remember, you fly an airplane with your head, not your hands and feet.

— Bevo Howard


For all professional pilots there exists a kind of guild, without charter and without by-laws. It demands no requirements for inclusion save an understanding of the wind, the compass, the rudder, and fair fellowship.

— Beryl Markham, West With the Night, 1942


The Cub is the safest airplane in the world; it can just barely kill you.

— attributed to Max Stanley, Northrop test pilot


What kind of man would live where there is no daring? I don’t believe in taking foolish chances, but nothing can be accomplished without taking any chance at all.

— Charles A. Lindbergh, at a news conference after his trans-Atlantic flight.


For the first time I was flying by jet propulsion. No engine vibrations. No torque and no lashing sound of the propeller. Accompanied by a whistling sound, my jet shot through the air. Later when asked what it felt like, I said, ‘It felt as though angels were pushing.’

— Generalleutnant Adolf Galland, on his first flight in a jet, the Messerschmitt 262, May 1943


When the weight of the paper equals the weight of the airplane, only then you can go flying.

— attributed to Donald Douglas (Mr. DC-n)


Captain: Got any ideas?

F/O: Actually not.

Captain Chesley B ‘Sully’ Sullenberger III and F/O Jeff Skiles, flying an unpowered Airbus A320 over New York after suffering a bird strike that disabled both engines. They glided perfectly into the Hudson river with no loss of life. US Airways flight 1549, 15 January 2009.


I don’t think I possess any skill that anyone else doesn’t have. I’ve just had perhaps more of an opportunity, more of an exposure, and been fortunate to survive a lot of situations that many other weren’t so lucky to make it. It’s not how close can you get to the ground, but how precise can you fly the airplane. If you feel so careless with your life that you want to be the world’s lowest flying aviator you might do it for a while. But there are a great many former friends of mine who are no longer with us simply because they cut their margins too close.

— Bob Hoover

copyright 2012-Delaware Wing Civil Air Patrol