The Automated Transfer Vehicle Jules Verne of the European Space Agency re-entered the Earth's atmosphere following completion of the first ESA mission to the International Space Station. The spacecraft burned Monday 47-miles above the Pacific Ocean competing a re-supply mission that started March 9.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Shenzhou 7 successfully returned to Earth landing with three humans aboard with one having conducted China's first space walk. The flight sets the stage for the next phases of the program to build a space station and expand upon longer duration space flights. PICTURES .
Shenzhou 8, now under construction, will have two important missions. One will be to make a breakthrough on techniques of rendezvous docking, the other to advance the design of manned transport spacecraft. Shenzhou 8 and Shenzhou 9 are expected to fly in 2010. The Shenzhou 8 and 9 flights may be similar to the NASA Gemini-Titan 6 and 7 flights in late 1965. MORE from The Times of London.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
The spacewalk performed by Chinese taikonaut Zhai Zhigang Saturday afternoon marks a major breakthrough in China's space program, Chinese President Hu Jintao said.
Hu talked with the trio taikonauts at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center for the Shenzhou-7 mission at 6:35 p.m. Saturday, when he inquired the physical conditions of the three taikonauts.
"Your country and your fellow citizens thank you for your devotion to the space program," he said. He congratulated the trio over the success of the spacewalk, and encouraged them to continue the efforts for a "complete success."
Zhai told the president that he felt "pretty well" during the spacewalk and that the space suit was very comfortable. He thanked the president and the Chinese people for their support and promised to complete their work with precision. The Shenzhou-7 will land in China on Sunday.
The Senate version of the bill added language that directs NASA to suspend any activities between now and April 30, 2009 that could preclude operation of the Space Shuttle after 2010. This will provide an opportunity to the incoming Presidential Administration to evaluate the Space Shuttle’s retirement. More from The Washington Post.
The launch window Sunday could be anytime between 7 p.m. and midnight EDT or 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. PDT. If the weather or another problem prevents an attempt Sunday, SpaceX could try again Monday or Tuesday. Another launch window would open in late October if technical issues prevent an attempt this week. The launch will be webcast. More from MercuryNews.
The launch [video] of the Shenzhou VII spacecraft occured Thursday. The 15-minute space walk today marks yet another Chinese milestone in space as the third nation, following the Russians and Americans, to have humans outside a spacecraft in orbit of the Earth. China plans to build its own space station and, perhaps, have a human lunar mission by 2020. MORE HERE! The Chinese space program is also the world's fastest-advancing and fastest-upgrading space program.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
The measure passed the Senate in September but there may yet be opposition to develop. Republican presidential candidate John McCain is, reportedly, opposed to an extention of the waiver to utilize Russian-made spacecraft to ferry US astronauts to-and-from the $100-billion International Space Station. The ISS are largely built by flights of the US space shuttle fleet.
The United States has been purchasing seats on Soyuz spacecraft the past few years with the current agreement expiring in 2011. The space shuttle fleet is slated to be retired in the summer of 2010.
Zhai Zhigang, 42, will conduct his extra-vehicular activity (EVA) on either Friday or Saturday. Chinese media report that this latest mission is the "most critical step" in the country's "three-step" space program. These stages are: sending a human into orbit, docking spacecraft together to form a small laboratory and, ultimately, building a large space station.
More from the National Geographic News, the BBC, Christian Science Monitor, and Xinhua News Agency.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
The launch delay is a result of the inclement Hurricane Ike weather conditions closing NASA facilities and halting the seven member crew astronaut training. Hubble Space Telescope replacement parts have also slowed the processing of the payload aboard the shuttle.
"For the past 50 years Vandenberg has been at the forefront of advancingspace power." said Col. David J. Buck, 30th Space Wing commander. "This launch showcases Vandenberg Air Force Base's global impact and itscritical role in advancing space and missile systems."
This exercise provided an opportunity for the NFIRE satellite to collect high- and low-resolution images of a boosting rocket which will improve understanding of missile exhaust plume observations and plume-to-rocket body discrimination. Program officials will continue to evaluate system performance basedupon telemetry and other data obtained during the exercise.
The Missile Defense Agency, a joint service agency of the Department of Defense, will use this data to validate and update models and simulations thatare fundamental to missile defense technologies.
Monday, September 22, 2008
NASA's Fundamental Aeronautics Program and the Air Force Office of Science Research plan to set aside as much as $30 million to fund the centers over five years. The maximum grant will be approximately $2 million a year. The jointly funded program will support university-level basic science or engineering research that provides improved understanding of hypersonic flight.
"We have identified three critical research areas: air-breathing propulsion, materials and structures, and boundary layer control," said James Pittman, principal investigator for NASA's Fundamental Aeronautics Program's Hypersonics Project at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.
"These three areas are the biggest hurdles to successful hypersonic flight and low-cost space access using an air-breathing engine."
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
FlightGlobal notes in an article today that the commercial space launch firm is on the way to meeting more than half of the NASA COTS milestones to ultimately boost a payload to the International Space Station from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in 2011.
Orbital Sciences Corporation and SpaceX are the two NASA-approved COTS contractors. SpaceX gained recent FAA-AST approval for use of a new launch pad at Cape Canveral, Florida for the Falcon-9 to be launched in 2009.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Zhai will spend 40-minutes to an hour in a spacewalk outside of his Shenzhou VII spacecraft on orbit September 26 or September 27 whereupon he will release a micro-satellite to broadcast his spacewalk to the Chinese public. More from China Daily and Space Daily.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Sunday, September 07, 2008
Thursday, September 04, 2008
NASA announced Wednesday the new Carl Sagan Postdoctoral Fellowships in Exoplanet Exploration, created to inspire the next generation of explorers seeking to learn more about planets, and possibly life, around other stars.
Planets beyond our solar system, called exoplanets, are being discovered at a staggering pace, with 307 currently known. Decades ago, long before any exoplanets had been found, the late Carl Sagan imagined such worlds, and pioneered the scientific pursuit of life that might exist on them. Sagan was an astronomer and a highly successful science communicator.