Recently Browsing 0 members
No registered users viewing this page.
By Ather Fawaz
China's successor to the Shenzhou crew capsule descends back to the earth successfully
by Ather Fawaz
Image via CASC On Tuesday, China's next-generation crew capsule's prototype launched atop a Long March 5B rocket at 06:00 AM Eastern Time from the coastal Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan island. Once at the designated altitude, the unnamed spacecraft performed a series of maneuvers successfully.
And as scheduled, the spacecraft has now touched down safely in the Dongfeng desert area at 01:49 AM Eastern Time. The crew capsule used its heat shield and parachute systems to descend safely towards the earth after the planned deorbital burn and separation of crew and service modules. During the test flight, the spacecraft also lofted a prototype inflatable cargo reentry system for testing purposes as well.
Image via CASC The upcoming space capsule has two variants. One weighs 14 metric tons while the other weighs 21 metric tons. The latter, which is designed for deep space, was tested during this flight. This Chinese crew capsule is set to be the successor of the Shenzhou space capsule, which has launched all six of the country's crewed spaceflights to date. The successor is built by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) and is designed to carry up to seven astronauts (compared to Shenzhou's capacity of three).
Image via CASC This successful test allows China to proceed with a potential July mission to send an orbiter and rover to Mars. It also clears the Long March 5B rocket for lofting modules as heavy as 22-metric-tons for China’s future space flights into the lower earth orbit.
Source: Space China via Engadget and Space.com
By Ather Fawaz
Progress 75 arrives at the International Space Station with nearly 3 tons of supplies
by Ather Fawaz
On April 25, 01:51 GMT, the Progress 75 spacecraft launched atop the Soyuz rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The Russian spacecraft was carrying over 2.7 metric tons of propellant, food, and other supplies. Less than 3.5 hours later, at 05:12 GMT, it docked at the International Space Station (ISS) 260 miles (418 kilometers) over northwest China.
Image via NASA TV Progress 75 is set to remain at the ISS until December. The spacecraft (one of the four spacecraft currently in use for resupplying) will be resupplying three astronauts on board the ISS: Chris Cassidy, Anatoli Ivanishin, and Ivan Vagner.
However, in under a month, the number is set to increase with the arrival of Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley with SpaceX's upcoming maiden manned flight onboard the Crew Dragon in May. It will be the first orbital human spaceflight to launch from the United States since NASA's space shuttle fleet was retired nine years back in July 2011. Should things go according to plan, SpaceX will be cleared to start operational crewed missions to and from the ISS.
After completing its stay till December this year, Progress 75 will undock from the space station and descend towards the earth before burning up in its atmosphere, spelling an end to its operational lifecycle.
SSTL announces Lunar Pathfinder comms satellite with a launch due in 2022
by Paul Hill
The UK-based firm, Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL), has announced that it’s beginning work on a lunar data-relay spacecraft called Lunar Pathfinder. The spacecraft is expected to launch in Q4 2022 and will offer affordable communications services to lunar missions via S-band and UHF links to the Moon’s surface and orbit, and an X-band link back to the Earth.
The 280 kg spacecraft will assist missions in the polar region and on the far side of the moon. This will allow projects to forego developing their own relay comms and use the more affordable Lunar Pathfinder. According to SSTL, the 2022 launch means it will be able to assist NASA’s Artemis programme which seeks to put the first American woman and the next American man at the lunar south pole by 2024 and in orbit around the Moon by 2028.
Commenting on the project, Phil Brownnett, SSTL’s Managing Director, said:
Aside from its Lunar Pathfinder project, SSTL said it has also been working on plans for a constellation of spacecraft that it hopes to insert into lunar orbit. This will provide enhanced communications, including navigation services, on the Moon. It hopes this technology will help with activities “from exploration to commercial exploitation and even tourism.”
By Ather Fawaz
NASA and SpaceX to meet and discuss Crew Dragon in Hawthorne on Thursday
by Ather Fawaz
Today, the NASA Administrator, Jim Bridenstine, tweeted he will be meeting Elon Musk on Thursday at the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California. Bridenstine will be discussing the progress of SpaceX on Crew Dragon, a spacecraft that the company is collaborating on with NASA. Accompanying the two men will be Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, two astronauts who are scheduled to take flight on Crew Dragon's Demo-2 flight test to the International Space Station.
This is following the recent updates by SpaceX and Elon Musk regarding another project. On September 29, Musk unveiled his plans for putting SpaceX's gargantuan spacecraft dubbed Starship in orbit in half a year, in a presentation at the company's Boca Chica test site near Brownsville, Texas. Starship is the company's initiative for space travel and for inhabiting other planets in the future, as Musk claimed in his tweet.
But the presentation invited some critique by Jim Bridenstine, the NASA Administrator, vis-à-vis the affiliation between SpaceX and NASA on Crew Dragon. Bridenstine reminded the entrepreneur via a tweet that NASA's Commercial Crew was still "years behind schedule", called for the "the same level of enthusiasm focused on the investments of the American taxpayer", and signaled that "it's time to deliver."
Since then, it's been back and forth between the two of them. Musk responded to the administrator's tweet by clarifying at the presentation that only a handful of resources were being invested into Starship and that whereas "the vast majority of our resources are [focused] on Falcon and Dragon, especially Crew Dragon."
As such, how things unfold at the meeting on Thursday will certainly be interesting. There might even be a live stream, so stay on the lookout on Bridenstine's twitter account.
As always, we're keen on hearing your thoughts. You can sound off in the comments section below!
By Jay Bonggolto
Facebook confirms it is working on internet-beaming satellite dubbed Athena
by Jay Bonggolto
PointView Tech, a subsidiary of Facebook, was reportedly building a multi-million dollar experimental satellite meant to deliver internet to Earth from orbit. The secret project was spotted last May on a filing with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), though Facebook remained mum on the technology, until now.
The social networking giant has confirmed to CNET that it is developing a satellite technology dubbed Athena which will work to beam data from low-Earth orbit to rural areas where internet connectivity is limited or unavailable. Facebook didn't share specific details of the project, but it will likely compete with similar initiatives being undertaken by OneWeb and SpaceX. According to the FCC filing, Athena could provide broadband connectivity that's 10 times faster than SpaceX’s Starlink Internet satellites.
Wired also reports that the satellite is set for space launch in early 2019 in pursuit of its ambitious efforts to bring people from every corner of the world online. In June 2017, Aquila, Facebook's solar-powered drone designed to provide internet connectivity to remote areas, successfully landed during its second test flight. However, that project was shut down last month after Facebook decided it would no longer build its own aircraft and instead continue its partnership with Airbus to develop a high altitude platform station.
With Athena now official, it's interesting to see how Facebook's move to deliver internet from orbit using millimeter wave radio signals will pan out.
Sources: CNET and Wired