NASA Railroad Rocket Transport

With the end of the Shuttle program in 2011, the railroad’s future became uncertain and went under review by the government. One possibility that was being considered was the delivery of equipment for private space launches at Cape Canaveral. In 2012, the program’s helium tank cars, a liquid oxygen tank car, and a liquid hydrogen tank car were transferred for delivery to the SpaceX engine test complex outside McGregor, Texas, where they were re-purposed to support their engine tests. Originally, the tank cars belonged to the U. S. Bureau of Mines. Eight other cars were shipped to California and are currently on lease to SpaceX to support Falcon 9 rocket launches from Space Launch Complex-4 at Vandenberg Air Force Base. SpaceX already uses three helium tank cars at Space Launch Complex-40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, which were previously used for the shuttle program.



The new findings are an independent line of evidence that hydrothermal activity is taking place in the subsurface ocean of Enceladus. Earlier results, published in March 2015, indicated hot water is interacting with rock beneath the sea of this distant moon. The new discoveries support that conclusion and add that the rock appears to be reacting chemically to produce the hydrogen. The discovery of Makemake's little moon increases the parallels between Pluto and Makemake. This is because both of the small icy worlds are already known to be well-coated in a frozen shell of methane. Furthermore, additional observations of the little moon will readily reveal the density of Makemake--an important result that will indicate if the bulk compositions of Pluto and Makemake are similar. "This new discovery opens a new chapter in comparative planetology in the outer Solar System," Dr. Marc Buie commented in the April 26, 2016 Hubble Press Release. Dr. Buie, the team leader, is also of the Southwest Research Institute. Many people listen to the weather report on the radio before they head out the door in the morning so they can be prepared for the day to come.