Tag Archive | Space

On this day July 4, 2005

The NASA space probe Deep Impact impacted the nucleus of the comet Tempel 1, excavating debris from its interior to study its composition.

Close-up image before impact

Close-up image before impact

The probe launched on January 12, 2005 was designed to study the composition of the interior of the comet 9P/Tempel by colliding a section of the spacecraft into the comet.

At 5:52 UTC on July 4, 2005, the impactor of the Deep Impact probe successfully impacted the comet’s nucleus, excavating debris from the interior of the nucleus.

Photographs of the impact showed the comet to be more dusty and less icy than expected. The impact generated a large, bright dust cloud that obscured the hoped-for view of the impact crater. Read More…

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Private rocket soars into space on first flight

Space Exploration Technologies, also known as SpaceX, successfully launched their Falcon 9 rocket for the first time at 1845 UTC ( 2:45 pm EDT) of Friday from Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida, United States.

Musk at Mission Control

SpaceX (Space Exploration Technologies Corporation) is an American space transport company founded by PayPal co-founder Elon Musk.

It has developed the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9, both of which are partially reusable launch vehicles.

The Falcon 9, second in the Falcon series of rockets, has a first stage that is powered by nine Merlin 1C engines, and a second stage powered by one Merlin vacuum engine.

Today’s inaugural launch carried the Dragon Spacecraft Qualification Unit (DSQU), a boilerplate version of the Dragon capsule.

The Dragon is intended to take cargo — and possibly people — to the International Space Station through NASA’s COTS program. The program is intended to help develop commercial space transportation, a goal that fits with President Obama’s recent change of direction for NASA. Under President Obama’s new plan, NASA would hand over the mundane task of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) launches to private companies, and instead concentrate on new technology development. Read More…

Shuttle lifts off for final scheduled flight

The Space Shuttle Atlantis launched today for its final planned mission in space, STS-132.

Space Shuttle Atlantis STS-132

Atlantis lifted off in fair weather at 2:20 p.m. EDT (1820 UTC) from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The launch was viewed by over 40,000 spectators at Kennedy, including a small group chosen by NASA for a space “tweetup”.

Carrying six veteran astronauts and an assortment of parts for the International Space Station (ISS), the shuttle took off without any delays. This mission, scheduled to take twelve days, is the aging shuttle’s 32nd voyage into space of its 25-year career.

While no damage to the shuttle was seen, a piece of space junk near the ISS caused minor concern (but no delays). The shuttle is expected to dock at the ISS early Sunday morning, and the crew will perform maintenance work on the ISS next week. If everything proceeds without incident, Atlantis will leave the ISS on May 23 and land on May 26. Read More…

US launches the X-37B military spaceplane

An Atlas V rocket launches the U.S. Air Force’s X-37B military space plane on its maiden flight. It was launched from Cape Canaveral on 22 April 2010, and is currently operating in low Earth orbit.

X-378

The spacecraft is operated by the United States Air Force, which has not revealed what the spaceship’s specific payload is, stating only that it will “demonstrate various experiments and allow satellite sensors, subsystems, components, and associated technology to be transported into space and back.”

As the aerodynamic design is derived from the Space Shuttle, the X-37 has a similar lift-to-drag ratio, and thus a smaller cross range at high altitudes and Mach numbers than the Hypersonic Technology Vehicle.

Most of the mission parameters for the OTV-1 flight have not been disclosed. The vehicle is capable of being on-orbit for up to 270 days. The Air Force stated the mission time will depend on progress of the craft’s experiments during orbit. Read More…

Obama unveils future of US space exploration

US President Barack Obama unveiled on Thursday plans for the future of American space exploration, committing to sending American astronauts to Mars by the mid-2030s.

The president was speaking at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida during a speech to lay out his plans for the future of American space agency NASA.

Kennedy Space Center Headquarters

His comments included assurances that America was not abandoning space exploration, contrary to claims he was doing so after he announced the US’s budget for 2011, which would have ended most of NASA’s current projects, including the development of new heavy-launch rockets called the Constellation Program.

Under Obama’s new plan, NASA would receive US $6 billion in additional funding over the next five years to develop new projects, which Obama emphasized, saying NASA was in the unusual position of having an expanded budget while other government agencies were having their budgets maintained or cut in efforts to reduce the US budget deficit. Read More…

New space agency for UK

The British government establishes the UK Space Agency to manage all of the country’s civil space activities.

The UK Space Agency is a United Kingdom government agency responsible for its space programme. It was established on 1 April 2010 to replace the British National Space Centre and took over responsibility for government policy and key budgets for space and representing the UK in all negotiations on space matters.

It “[brings] together all UK civil space activities under one single management”. It is initially operating from the existing BNSC headquarters in Swindon.

On this day January 7, 1610

Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei first observed three of Jupiter’s moons through his telescope: Io, Europa, and Callisto.

Io moon of Jupiter

Io moon of Jupiter

On 7 January 1610 Galileo observed with his telescope what he described at the time as “three fixed stars, totally invisible by their smallness”, all within a short distance of Jupiter, and lying on a straight line through it.

Observations on subsequent nights showed that the positions of these “stars” relative to Jupiter were changing in a way that would have been inexplicable if they had really been fixed stars.

On 10 January Galileo noted that one of them had disappeared, an observation which he attributed to its being hidden behind Jupiter. Within a few days he concluded that they were orbiting Jupiter. Read More…