Posted by drdave on December 1, 2012
Happy New Year
- The space Review discusses issues for 2013 including problems associated with sequestration due to the upcoming “Fiscal Bunny Slope”.
- “Engine Out” – Failures and other problems.
- Russia is expected to spend 2.1 trillion rubles—about $70 billion—on the development of its national space industry in the next eight years, according to a statement last week by Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev, which was quoted by Space Daily and RIA Novosti. He revealed that the plan is designed to satisfy three fundamental aims: ensuring that Russia maintains its position as a leading global space power, supporting its defense capability, and boosting its overall economic and social development. “The program will enable our country to effectively participate in forward-looking projects,” said Medvedev, “such as the ISS, the study of the Moon, Mars, and other celestial bodies in the Solar System.”
- Ikaros, a Japanese probe launched in 2010, has been recognized by Guinness World Records as the first interplanetary solar sail spacecraft.
- Only in America can the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight of the Committee on Science, Space and Technology of the House of Representatives be the same congressman from Georgia who was caught on tape last summer during an “off-the-record” campaign appearance at a Baptist church saying, “All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell.” Read more.
- The new Japanese asteroid mission, called Hayabusa2, is scheduled for launch in 2014 and aimed at the asteroid 1999 JU3, a large space rock about 3,018 feet (920 meters) in length. It is due to arrive at the asteroid in mid-2018, loiter at the space rock and carry out a slew of challenging firsts before departing the scene at the end of 2019.
- South Korea has retrieved what appears to be part of the engine from North Korea’s long-range rocket launched earlier this month, a finding that could provide clues to the communist nation’s rocket technologies, a military source said Friday.
- At the top of the Curiosity rover’s to-do list next year is the first use of its rock-boring drill, allowing scientists to examine samples from inside Martian rocks with the robot’s instrument suite. The drill is designed to hammer into rocks and collect material for analysis by the rover’s chemical and mineral sensors. For the drill’s first use, the Curiosity team is looking for a rock in a shallow pit named Yellowknife Bay.
- Russian space rocket corporation Energia has completed the technical design of a new manned spacecraft whose flight tests are due to begin in 2017. The new spaceship will be able to fly not only to the International Space Station (ISS) but also to the Moon.
- With most of its ground control team taking time off this week, Curiosity was loaded up with operating instructions for 11 days while at “Grandmother’s House”.
- Doomsayers disappointed by 2012’s non-apocalypse will get a sop in 2013 in the form of a rare supercomet. Once widely seen as a portent of doom, comets are seldom as spectacular as the new arrival, known as C/2012 S1 (ISON), may be. At its peak it may outshine the moon, even by day.
First spotted in September, ISON is rushing towards the sun from the outer solar system. Its closest approach to the sun will be in November, when Timothy Spahr of the Minor Planet Center at Harvard University expects it to put on as good a show as Hale-Bopp did in 1997.
- SpaceX’s ambitions of creating a full reusable launch vehicle have taken another step forward via the third – and most ambitious to date – test of their Grasshopper test vehicle. The 40 meter leap into the skies at their test facility in Texas – followed by a stable hover and smooth landing – was conducted without a hitch.
- Five years ago, the idea of easing export controls on commercial satellites was politically unthinkable. That mindset has changed during the last half decade, as the idea that those restrictions are harming both national security and the U.S. industry base has gradually gained traction. And during a year in which the U.S. Congress barely passed even routine bills, lawmakers came together to shed long-standing restrictions on the export of commercial satellites.
- This is a bit of cheery news a day after the nonsensical “Mayan Apocalypse of 2012” — the potentially hazardous asteroid 2011 AG5 will not (I repeat, will not) threaten Earth in the year 2040.
- John Kelly, At Florida Today, weighs in on the policy drift at NASA: “This week, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden appeared before yet another human space flight review committee (this is the second such panel convened over the past four years). He gave a less-than-enthusiastic endorsement of Obama’s targeted mission to an asteroid. He didn’t say NASA ought not do it, but he loaded up on caveats and qualifiers.” Kelly then goes on about what purpose might be visualized for the NASA super rocket (SLS), since it will not be capable of launching a mission to an asteroid by the time the asteroid mission is currently scheduled.
- The US Geological Survey (USGS) announced Friday that it plans to decommission the aging Landsat 5 spacecraft in the coming months as Landsat 8 is prepared for launch. Landsat 5 launched in 1984 with a planned design life of three years, but has continued operations after the loss of Landsat 6 in a launch failure in 1993 and technical problems with Landsat 7, launched in 1999. Landsat 8, (Landsat Data Continuity Mission), is scheduled for launch in February andrecently arrived at its launch site, Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, from the Orbital Sciences Corporation facility in Arizona where it was assembled.
- A meteorite that fell where California’s gold rush began has triggered a similar gold rush for scientists: to study one of the freshest, most unusual space rocks around. The Sutter’s Mill meteorite turns out to be a rare, carbon-rich type known as a carbonaceous chondrite. Its insides are a jumble of different primitive space materials mashed together in a single rock.
- A Soyuz capsule packed with three astronauts has successfully docked with the International Space Station, taking the size of the full crew at the orbiting laboratory to six. American Tom Marshburn, Russian Roman Romanenko and Canadian Chris Hadfield traveled two days in the capsule before linking up with the space station’s Russian Rassvet research module.
- The U.S. military is committing to average at least seven rocket purchases a year from United Launch Alliance for five years, a cost-saving move by the government that’s worth billions to the Centennial-based company in Colorado.
- SpaceShipTwo completed its first glide test with the rocket motor and tanks installed. The flight was the 23rd in a series of unpowered tests and took place on 19 December. Last Friday, 15 December, SpaceShipTwo completed a test in this configuration, but remained attached to its mother ship, WhiteKnightTwo.
- An Ariane 5 rocket launched communication satellites for the British military and for a Mexican government agency on Wednesday evening. The Ariane 5 ECA lifted off from the spaceport at Kourou, French Guiana, at 4:49 pm EST (2149 GMT) and placed the Skynet 5D and Mexsat Bicentenario spacecraft into geosynchronous transfer orbit about a half-hour later. Skynet 5D is an EADS Astrium Eurostar E3000 model spacecraft, weighing 4,800 kilograms at launch. Astrium Services will operate the spacecraft at 53 degrees east in GEO to provide communications services for the British Ministry of Defence and allies. Mexsat Bicentenario is an Orbital Sciences GEOStar-3 model spacecraft, weighing approximately 3,000 kilograms at launch. It will be operated by the Mexican Secretariat of Communications and Transport to provide C- and Ku-band communications services from 114.9 degrees west in GEO. The launch was the seventh and final Ariane 5 mission of the year, and the last scheduled orbital launch worldwide in 2012.
- A Russian Soyuz FG rocket successfully launched the Soyuz TMA-07M spacecraft carrying three astronauts to the International Space Station. Roman Romanenko from Roscosmos, NASA astronaut Thomas Marshburn and the Canadian Space Agency’s Chris Hadfield lifted off at 5:12 AM Phoenix time (1212 UTC)
- A Chinese Long March rocket successfully launched a Turkish remote sensing satellite on Wednesday. The Long March 2D rocket lifted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center at 9:13 AM Phoenix time Tuesday (1613 UTC Tuesday, 12:13 am Beijing time Wednesday) and placed the Gokturk-2 satellite into a sun-synchronous orbit.
- NASA’s twin GRAIL spacecraft crashed into a mountain on the Moon Monday afternoon, completing their nearly year-long mission there as planned. The two spacecraft, dubbed “Ebb” and “Flow”, crashed into a mountain near the crater Goldschmidt in the Moon’s north polar regions. Ebb crashed into the mountain at 5:28:51 pm EST (2228:51 GMT) and Flow crashed nearby 30 seconds later. NASA announced the impact sites would be named after Sally Ride, the first American woman in space who passed away earlier this year; she led the development of cameras on the spacecraft used exclusively for educational purposes.
- Jeff Foust at the Space Review, discusses at length the role NASA should play in the exploration of space.
- South Korean authorities on Friday moved to analyse the debris of a North Korean long-range rocket, launched earlier this week in defiance of repeated international warnings.
- The Union of Concerned Scientists discusses the North Korean satellite, its functional parts and its current orbit. Apparently, based on American observations, the satellite achieved a circular around 500 kilometers above the Earth, but the satellite is tumbling, and not under North Korean control.
- The Chinese spacecraft Chang’E 2 has captured stunning images of the asteroid Toutatis as it tumbled past the Earth on 13 December 2012.
- Thales Alenia Space (Cannes, France), the manufacturer of the Yamal-402 satellite for Gazprom Space Systems, has carried out the fourth and the final maneuver to place the satellite into a planned geostationary orbit. Thales Alenia Space earlier devised a plan for transferring the satellite from a geostationary transfer orbit to the planned geostationary orbit by firing the satellite’s apogee kick motor four times instead of the previously planned three firings. The orbit placement sequence had to be adjusted after the Briz-M upper stage manufactured by the Khrunichev Space Center failed to place the satellite into the planned orbit. During the fourth firing, its sustainer engine stopped 4 minutes earlier than was planned.
- The powerpack assembly for the Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne (PWR) J-2X engine has completed its year of testing at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. The engine is set to provide the Earth Departure Stage (EDS) role for astronauts and hardware heading to destinations in deep space, should NASA opt to evolve SLS to the Block II configuration.
- Ebb and Flow, the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission probes, are being sent purposely into the lunar surface because their low orbit and low fuel levels preclude further scientific operations. The twin lunar-orbiting NASA spacecraft that have allowed scientists to learn more about the internal structure and composition of the moon are being prepared for their controlled descent and impact on a mountain near the moon’s north pole at about 2:28 p.m. PST (5:28 p.m. EST) Monday, Dec. 17.
- Astronomers have found a population of galaxies more than 13 billion years old in a new “deep field” image set from the Hubble Space Telescope. The galaxies, found in Hubble’s Ultra Deep Field 2012 (UDF12) near-infrared images, date back to between 350 and 600 million years after the Big Bang.
- Scientists with NASA’s Cassini mission have spotted what appears to be a miniature, extraterrestrial likeness of Earth’s Nile River: a river valley on Saturn’s moon Titan that stretches more than 200 miles (400 kilometers) from its “headwaters” to a large sea.
- An Atlas V successfully launched on Tuesday a classified military spaceplane. The Atlas 5 501 lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 1:03 pm EST (1803 GMT) carrying an X-37B on the Orbital Test Vehicle 3 (OTV-3) mission. The launch, which took place despite forecasts that called for only a 30 percent chance of acceptable weather at launch time, was declared a success by the Air Force, although it released few other details about the mission.
- North Korea launched a rocket early Wednesday that appeared to place a small satellite into orbit, a move that took many by surprise. The Unha-3 rocket lifted off from its North Korean launch site at approximately 5:50 PM Phoenix time Tuesday (0050 UTC). Official government media announced that the launch was a success, and NORAD reported it was tracking what appeared to be the rocket’s satellite and upper stage in orbit.
- Aviation Week: Launch market upstart Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) won the first two competitions out for bid under the Air Force’s new Orbital/Suborbital Program-3 (OSP-3) contract last week. These are the first Air Force-funded opportunities for would-be competitors to ULA to earn government money to prove out their young designs and march forward on the path to certification for launches in the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) class, which is used for the most valuable Pentagon and intelligence satellites.
- NASA announced Monday the selection of three companies to conduct activities under contracts that will enable future certification of commercial spacecraft as safe to carry humans to the International Space Station. Advances made by Boeing, Sierra Nevada and SpaceX during the first contract phase known as the certification products contracts (CPC) will begin the process of ensuring integrated crew transportation systems will meet agency safety requirements and standards to launch American astronauts to the International Space Station from the United States, ending the agency’s reliance on Russia for these transportation services. The second phase of certification will result in a separately competed contract.
- Yamal-402 satellite launched from Baikonur on Saturday was not placed in the planned orbit. When the propulsion engine of Briz-M upper stage was fired for the fourth time, it operated for a shorter time than it was supposed to. Hence, the satellite was not placed in the required orbit.
- The United Launch Alliance (ULA) are clear to resume launches of their Atlas V rocket, after a review into an anomaly with their Delta IV Upper Stage, during the launch of the GPS IIF-3 satellite, reached a key stage. The green light allows for launches of the Atlas V – which shares commonality via the RL-10 engine on its Centaur Upper Stage – to resume, starting with the next X-37B mission on December 11.
- The Washington Post: “It had to happen: A start-up company is offering rides to the moon. Book your seat now — though it’s going to set you back $750 million (it’s unclear if that includes baggage fees). Led by heavy-hitter former NASA executives, the Golden Spike Co. would boldly go where humankind went 40 years ago, this time commercially, hawking tickets to foreign governments or space tourists.”
- Aviation Week: “NASA’s 2011 strategic plan is no longer viable, according to the Space Foundation’s report, which takes a long, hard look at NASA’s role more than five decades after its creation. Principal author G. Ryan Faith notes that the 2011 plan doesn’t even mention the word “space” in its vision and mission statements. It is time, the Foundation says, to find a job for NASA and stick to it. And the job for a “healthy national civil space enterprise,” the report says, is pioneering.”
NASA announced Tuesday it plans to develop a Mars rover based on the Mars Science Laboratory mission for launch in 2020. The rover wil take advantage of spare parts built for the original MSL rover, Curiosity, including a backup RTG power source. A science definition team will select a new suite of instruments for the rover, as well as decide whether the rover should have the ability to collect and cache samples for later return to Earth on a future mission. NASA estimates the rover misson will cost $1.5 billion and will fit within the reduced funding profile for NASA’s Mars program in its 2013 budget request. NASA said it will also extend the lives of current Mars missions, including Curiosity.
- The United States Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center has awarded SpaceX two Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV)-class missions: DSCOVR (Deep Space Climate Observatory) and STP-2 (Space Test Program 2). To be launched on SpaceX’s Falcon launch vehicles in 2014 and 2015 respectively, the awards mark the first EELV-class missions awarded to the company to date.
- NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has detected evidence for simple organic compounds in a Martian soil sample, but scientists cautioned Monday they do not know yet if those compounds are of Martian or terrestrial origin.
- A Zenit-3SL rocket successfully placed a communications satelite into orbit for Eutelsat on Monday. The Zenit-3SL, operated by Sea Launch, lifted off from its floating launch platform on the Equator in the Pacific Ocean at 3:44 pm EST (2044 GMT), and released the Eutelsat-70B satellite into a geosynchronous transfer orbit 66 minutes later. The satellite, built by EADS Astrium, weighed 5,210 kilograms at launch, and carries a payload of 48 Ku-band transponders.
- NASA’s first Atlas 5 rocket on the West Coast underwent a practice launch day and fueling exercise Tuesday at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The United Launch Alliance booster is scheduled for blastoff in February carrying a remote sensing spacecraft known as the Landsat Data Continuity Mission, or LDCM.
- The team of scientists operating NASA’s Curiosity rover has found organic materials on Mars — but isn’t sure whether the carbon-containing compounds are indigenous to the planet.
- Arianespace launched their Soyuz ST-A rocket from the European Spaceport “Centre Spatial Guyanais (CSG)” in Kourou, French Guiana on Sunday morning, tasking the veteran launch with lofting the Pleiades 1B satellite into a Sun synchronous orbit. Following its 02:02 GMT lift-off, the satellite was successfully deployed 55 minutes later. This was the second launch attempt, following Saturday morning’s scrub.
- An anomaly occurred during the final chronology for Flight VS04 – Pléiades 1B, thus halting the count-down. A new launch attempt is slated on the night of Saturday 1st to Sunday 2nd of December.
Posted in Canadian Space Agency, China, Commercial Space, European Space Agency, International Space Station, Mars, Moon, NASA, Roscosmos, Russian Space Agency, Saturn | Tagged: Ariane 5, Arianespace, Asteroid, Asteroid 2011 AG5, Atlas V, Briz-M, Canadian Space Agency, Carbonaceous Chondrite, Chang'e 2, China, Comet C/2012 S1, Comet Hale-Bopp, Curiosity, Deep Space Climate Observatory, DSCOVR, EADS Astrium, Earth Departure Stage, Ebb, EDS, EELV, Energia, Eurostar E3000, Eutelsat 70B, Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle, Falcon, Flow, French Guiana, GEOStar-3, Gokturk-2, Golden Spike Company, Goldschmidt Crater, GPS IIF-3, GRAIL, Grasshopper, Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory, Hubble Space Telescope, International Space Station, ISON, ISS, J2-X, Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, Khrunichev Space Center, Kourou, Landsat 5, Landsat 8, Landsat Data Continuity Mission, LDCM, Long March 2D, Mars, Mars Science Laboratory, Meteorite, Mexsat Bicentenario, NASA, NK-33-1, North Korea, Orbital Sciences, Orbital Test Vehicle 3, Organic Compounds, OTV-3, Pleiades 1B, Rassvet, Sally Ride, Sea launch, Sir Patrick Moore, Skynet 5D, SLS, Soyuz 2.1v, Soyuz ST-A, Soyuz TMA-07M, Soyuz-FG, Space Exploration Technologies, SpaceX, Sutter’s Mill Meteorite, Thales Alenia Space, Toutatis, UDF12, ULA, Ultra Deep Field 2012, Unha-3, United Launch Alliance, United States Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, X-37B, Yamal-402, Zenit-3SL | Leave a Comment »
Posted by drdave on August 4, 2010
31 October 2009
- Headlines in the space news world will talk about Masten coming from behind with only minutes to spare to beat Armadillo. See the details. Also here for Jonathon Goff’s comments.
- LROC continues with spectacular views of the Moon. Frozen Impact Melt on the far side of the Moon.
- A NASA press release announced the upcoming transfer of the Tranquility pressurized module from the the European Space Agency to NASA. Tranquility will provide room for many of the station’s life support systems. Attached to the node is a cupola, a unique work station with windows on its six sides and top. The module will be delivered to the station during space shuttle Endeavour’s STS-130 mission, targeted for launch Feb. 4, 2010.
30 October 2009
- The JAXA HTV-1 resupply spacecraft is set to depart the ISS with the latest garbage dump and burn up in the atmosphere.
- NASA is working to recover the Ares I-X first stage. One of the three parachutes collapsed, and the lower segment of the rocket buckled, possibly on impact with the ocean.
- BOOM. Two teams report in Nature on a gamma-ray burst that occurred a mere 630 million years after the Big Bang (that’s 13.1 billion years ago). It is the youngest gamma-ray burst ever seen. The previous youngest burst happened 825 million years after the Big Bang.
29 October 2009
- LROC unveils Apollo 17 landing site. Great resolution.
- The most distant object in the universe.
- Give credit where credit is due. NASA launched its first new rocket in thirty years. Successfully. Lots to be learned from the data. Cheers.
- “Ruh Roh”. Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is still in “Safe” mode after six weeks. Engineers are now working to create a safeguard against that worst-case scenario as well as finding the cause of the mysterious voltage signals.
28 October 2009
- The scrubbed launch of Ares I-X is now scheduled for launch on Wednesday. There is a four-hour launch window, extending from 8 a.m. until 12 noon EDT. See NASA TV.
- The number of close encounters between objects in orbit will rise 50 per cent in the next decade, and quadruple by 2059. Countermeasures will add greatly to the cost of future missions.
- Good news for America’s Space Exploration program. “Representatives from most of the 27 member governments of the European Union (EU) on Oct. 23 expressed support for a major, if still undefined, financial investment in space exploration alongside the European Space Agency (ESA) but conceded it will take a year before they are ready to set firm budget and policy goals. Meeting here as part of the EU-ESA International Conference on Human Space Exploration, they said that by late 2010 they should be able to make initial decisions on a space exploration roadmap that includes robotic and manned missions in collaboration with the United States, Russia, Japan and other nations including China and India. They also acknowledged that the United States, which they view as the natural coordinator of a major exploration initiative, will need the next 12 months to align U.S. space exploration objectives with NASA’s likely budget.”
27 October 2009
- Following the announcement of a hole on the Moon into a sub-lunar lava tube (see below 23 October), comes the announcement of a similar find on Mars. Glen Cushing, a physicist with the US Geological Survey, discovered the series of “collapse depressions” in extinct lava flows from a Martian volcano.
- NASA publishes a list of upcoming launches.
- In a case of being in the right place at the right time, the MESSENGER spacecraft was able to capture an average-sized solar flare, allowing astronomers to study high-energy solar neutrons at less than 1 astronomical unit (AU) from the sun for the first time.
26 October 2009
- The Ares I-X is scheduled for launch on Tuesday. There is a four-hour launch window, extending from 8 a.m. until 12 noon EDT. If weather scrubs Tuesday’s attempt, the launch team will try again on Wednesday, maintaining the same launch window.
- Jeff Foust has a discussion about political and other perspectives of the Augustine Commission Report on The Space Review.
25 October 2009
- The Orlando Sentinel has an interview with Jeff Greason from the Augustine Commission: “It’s time to base U.S. space policy on the “truth”
- “A plethora of boulders surrounds braided flows of impact melt along the inside wall of crater Epigenes A.” Latest LROC image.
- Neat images on Astronaut Nicole Stott’s Blog.
24 October 2009
- Follow NASA on your iPhone with the NASA App. The App delivers up-to-the-minute NASA content directly from Agency sources in one easy-to-use mobile platform.
- Interested in the missions to Mars over the past 50 years? Check out this poster.
- Two ESA satellites are set for launch on 2 November 2009 from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia. SMOS will provide the data to produce global maps of soil moisture at least every three days and global maps of sea-surface salinity averaged over 30 days. Proba-2 incorporates a total of 17 technology developments and four scientific experiments that focus on solar and space weather.
23 October 2009
- A deep hole on the Moon that could open into a vast underground tunnel has been found for the first time.
- NASA has begun to shift focus toward longer range research in technology.
- JPL has completed operational testing of procedures to extract Spirit from the soft sand it became trapped in five months ago. “Current plans call for an independent panel to review Spirit driving plans in late October, following analysis of results from the readiness test. Unless that review recommends any further preparations, Spirit will probably begin extraction moves within two weeks after the review.”
22 October 2009
21 October 2009
- The New Scientist rates the five options of the Augustine Commission.
- The Russians are preparing to launch the Mini-Research Module 2, or MRM 2, aboard a Soyuz rocket on Nov. 10 at 1422 GMT (9:22 a.m. EST) for attachment to the International Space Station
20 October 2009
- NASA rolled out the Ares I-X rocket to the launch pad early this morning.
- Ames Research Center has announced the winners of the Regolith Excavation Challenge, held on Oct. 17-18, 2009. Competitors were required to use mobile, robotic digging machines capable of excavating at least 330 pounds of simulated moon dirt, known as regolith, and depositing it into a container in 30 minutes or less. The winning excavator lifted 1,103 pounds within the allotted time.
- The Orionid Meteor Shower will be in full swing tonight. Observers in the Northern Hemisphere will see around 20 meteors per hour at maximum, while observers in the Southern Hemisphere will see around 40 meteors per hour. Best viewing is thought to be around 3:00 AM Phoenix time.
19 October 2009
- The Augustine Commission is expected to release its final report on Wednesday, 21 October 2009.
- On Monday, Oct. 19 at 3pm PDT, Mr. David Thompson will join Conrad Foundation’s The Exchange webinar to discuss his thoughts on what innovation means for the Aerospace Industry, and the AIAA winners of Aerospace Exploration and Space Nutrition challenge categories. Registration is open to the public.
- NASA postponed the roll-out of the ARES I-X from this morning to tomorrow morning. Live NASA Television coverage with commentary will start at 11:45 p.m., Oct. 19
- It is expected that approval of the Range Safety waiver for the Flight Termination System on the Ares I-X rocket will be granted.
18 October 2009
17 October 2009
- NASA announced that the shepherding spacecraft did capture the plume from the impact of the Centaur rocket. “With the spacecraft returning data until virtually the last second, the thermal and near-infrared cameras returned excellent images of the Centaur impact crater at a resolution of less than 6.5 feet (2 m). The images indicate that the crater was about 92 feet (28 m) wide.”
- Sometimes progress is fast, but the results are slow coming to light. Hubble observations taken Dec. 9 and 10, 2005, showed Xena’s diameter as 1,490 miles (with an uncertainty of 60 miles), while Pluto has a diameter of 1442 miles. That makes the “tenth” planet the ninth largest.
- NASA has released this Cassini image of Janus, one of the moons of Saturn.
16 October 2009
- NASA has released the first all sky map from its Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) spacecraft, showing the solar System’s interaction with the Milky Way’s interstellar medium.
- The 2009 Regolith Excavation Challenge Oct. 17-18, with a $750,000 prize, will pit 23 teams using robots they designed and built to excavate simulated lunar soil. To qualify, a robot must dig up at least 330 pounds of regolith and deposit it into a container in 30 minutes.
- ESA astronaut Frank De Winne took over the command of the International Space Station – the first non-American and non-Russian to take on this role.
- In an Op-Ed article in the Wall Street Journal, thirteen former astronauts urged NASA to let commercial space firms handle crew to low Earth orbit. They quote Sally Ride, from the Augustine Commission, “We would like to be able to get NASA out of the business of getting people to low Earth orbit.”
15 October 2009
- Spectacular fireball over the Netherlands.
- The Planetary Society has the latest Mars rover updates for Spirit and Opportunity.
- European Space Agency (ESA) reports that an Engineering Test Unit (ETU), a test model of ESA’s Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) for the James Webb Space Telescope has been completed and will be shipped to NASA.
- Robert Bigelow’s open letter to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden about commercial cargo and crew launch.
14 October 2009
- NASA has announced an update to the IBEX Mission (Interstellar Boundary Explorer). A briefing will be held Thursday, 15 October 2009
- From the Orlando Sentinel: “People are very worried [our] efforts are a threat to Constellation rather than an enabler,” says Ken Bowersox, a former astronaut hired by Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX). “We don’t want to compete like that. We want to enable. We want to provide a cheap way to get to station so you can spend money to do the exciting exploration things”. Liberate the NASA exploration program from mundane tasks.
- Bunk: Apolinario Chile Pixtun, a Mayan Indian elder, is tired of being bombarded with frantic questions about the Mayan calendar supposedly “running out” on Dec. 21, 2012. “I came back from England last year and, man, they had me fed up with this stuff.”
13 October 2009
12 October 2009
- National Geographic “Map of the Day” – 50 Years of Solar System Missions.
- The Hubble Space Telescope was focused on the Moon Friday morning when the LCROSS Centaur stage and the shepherding spacecraft impacted the Moon. There was no immediate indication of the impact and additional processing is expected.
- The 60th International Astronomical Congress will be held this week in Korea. NASA Administrator Gen. Charles Bolden will attend, although he has expressed his trepidation about being abroad when the Augustine Commission releases its final report.
- Rockets and Such – we are back wandering in the desert
11 October 2009
- Read Eric Berger’s interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson. Tyson says “The question is: What’s the value of visible projects by NASA in the overall portfolio to the hearts and minds of Americans? I think we have to do it, otherwise we should just close up shop and watch the rest of the world lead us into the future.”
- A Russian cosmonaut, an American astronaut and the world’s first space clown departed the International Space Station and returned to Earth, winding up their expeditions to the orbiting outpost.
- ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Frank De Winne has become the first European commander of the International Space Station this weekend. The current commander Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka has left the ISS on board Soyuz TMA-16.
- Mars rover Spirit is in day 2049 of it 90 day mission and Opportunity is in day 2028 of its 90 day mission. Both are well outside their warranty date. Spirit has traveled 7,729.93 meters, and Opportunity has traveled an incredible 17,962.44 meters.
10 October 2009
- ESA (European Space Agency) Director-General Jean-Jacques Dordain told the 18-nation agency’s ruling council he expects to finalize an agreement with NASA by mid-November for a 2016 launch of a 600-kilogram ESA lander that will include exobiology experiments, and a 2018 mission. NASA will supply two Atlas V rockets and will feature ESA’s rover deployed to the Mars surface by the same Sky Crane system — with the rover, attached by chord to the descent module, gently lowered to the surface — that NASA plans to use for its large Mars Science Laboratory rover to be launched in 2011.
- The LRO Diviner instrument obtained infrared observations of the LCROSS impact this morning. LRO flew by the LCROSS Centaur impact site 90 seconds after impact at a distance of ~80 km.
- Space Daily that the ocean on Jupiter’s moon Europa contains enough oxygen to support life.
9 October 2009
- Prepare for the LCROSS impact on the Moon. Live NASA web coverage at 6:30 AM EDT, Friday (Yes, that’s 3:30 AM Phoenix time). Impact is at 4:31 AM Phoenix time.
- NASA Administrator Charles Bolden: “We should not fool ourselves. We should not pretend that if we decide we’re going to take a break from human spaceflight that nobody’s going to do that. That’s not going to happen … China, Russia — they’re the natural leaders and they will ascend to leadership.”
- The New Scientist reports that while Apophis is less likely to impact the Earth in 2036, 2068 is looming as a threat.
8 October 2009
- The Augustine Commission holds its final public session via phone conference call at 10:00 AM Phoenix time. A link to the streaming audio may be found half way down on this page. Toll-free number: 1-888-373-5705 Participant Passcode: 190078
- NASA has released the refined orbit of the asteroid APOPHIS. The risk of its hitting Earth in 2036 has been reduced dropped from one-in-45,000 to about one-in-250,000.
- Masten Space Systems completed their Level 1 flight in the Lunar Lander Challenge and are awaiting a final ruling by the judges. All looks good.
7 October 2009
- NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has found a GIANT ring around Saturn. GIANT.
- ITAR reform is needed to expand U.S. exports and competitiveness.
- Boeing and Energia have announced plans to build a future common docking system.
6 October 2009
- Dr. Steve Squyres (Cornell University) has been awarded the Carl Sagan Medal by the American Astronomical Society for his work explaining the Mars Exploration Rover mission to millions of people.
- SpaceX has announced completion of acceptance testing of both the Falcon 9 first and second stages in preparation for the first flight of Falcon 9.
- Opportunity, one of two Mars rovers and now in its fifth year of a 90 day mission, has discovered another meteorite on the Martian surface.
5 October 2009
- World Space Week. “The theme this year is Space for Education. Teachers can inspire students by using the excitement of space. It’s a powerful tool to fuel their motivation to learn.”
- Dr. David Livingston’s The Space Show – “The Monday, Oct. 5, 2009, 11 AM-12:30 PM PDT Program is the special AIAA/Space Show Augustine Commission panel discussion featuring Bob Dickman, “Doc” Horowitz, Frank Culbertson, John Klineberg, Elliot Pulham, and Harrison Schmitt.” Listen Live.
- Humor – “Seti Fails“
4 October 2009
- Today is the 50th anniversary of the launch of Luna 3, the first to photograph the lunar farside. Details of Luna 3 are here.
- The Star Wars in Concert has performances at 2 PM and 7 PM today, Sunday.
- NASA has released the latest images from the Herschel Infrared space telescope. One of the images “reveals a cold and turbulent region where material is just beginning to condense into new stars. It is located in the plane of our Milky Way galaxy, 60 degrees from the center. Blue shows warmer material, red the coolest, while green represents intermediate temperatures. The red filaments are made up of the coldest material pictured here — material that is slightly warmer than the coldest temperature theoretically attainable in the universe”. Check in with Phil Plait and his observations at Bad Astronomy.
- The European Space Agency (ESA) continues work on the Advanced Re-entry Vehicle. The vehicle is large enough to eventually give ESA access to the International Space Station for a crew of four.
3 October 2009
2 October 2009
- The Soyuz spacecraft docked with the International Space Station at 1:35 AM Phoenix time today, Friday, after executing a rendezvous burn Thursday. Image of the combined members of expedition 20 and 21.
- Jeff Greason, reflecting on his experience with the Augustine commission, said that with NASA overhead at $6-7 billion a year, “The bottom line is that they can’t afford to keep the doors open with they money they’ve got, let alone do anything with it.”
- A German team – c-base Open Moon Team – has entered the Google Lunar X PRIZE.
- The latest rumor about the release of the Augustine Commission final report comes from the Huntsville Times.
1 October 2009
- The fifth Ariane 5 of the year is poised to launch between 14:59 and 16:10 Phoenix time today, Thursday. Watch live launch coverage.
- Discover.com reports on a minor power glitch suffered by the Messanger spacecraft while making its third pass by Mercury prior to settling into orbit in 2011. glitch
- Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) is working on a concept that replaces large satellites with clusters of wirelessly-linked modular spacecraft flying in loose formation has the potential to drive cultural change, Aviation Week reports.
- NASA has released a study of the Scientific work done at the International Space Station during its first eight years.
- Soyuz TMA-16, launched yesterday, is scheduled to reach the International Space Station tomorrow, Friday, 2 October 2009.
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