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Earlier this year, I reported on the Google Lunar XPRIZE, the $20 million challenge to land a spacecraft on the Moon, travel at least 500 meters, and transmit HD images and video back to Earth. The original deadline required launch before the end of 2017. Now, Google has stated that the mission needs to be completed by March 31, 2018. Whether this new deadline is an extension or a clarification is open to interpretation. Previous language required teams to launch by December 31, 2017. Some propulsion systems are slow enough that even if the spacecraft was launched in 2017, it could take [...]
Thu, Oct 19, 2017
Source 46BLYZ
Early this morning, SpaceX launched a rocket from space Launch Complex 4E (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The payload was 10 Iridium satellites. The video below is set to begin seconds before launch. Shortly after 7 minutes after launch (29:12 on the video below), the Falcon 9 first stage made a perfect landing on the “Just Read The Instructions” droneship in the Pacific Ocean. The first Iridium satellite deployed at just over 57 minutes following take-off (skip to 1:19:00 in the video to watch), with the following nine being deployed every 100 seconds after. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SB4N4xF2B2w?start=1286&w=560&h=315] I really appreciate the embedded [...]
Mon, Oct 09, 2017
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Akatsuki - Planet-C
Back in 2010, we were sad to hear that JAXA’s Akatsuki orbiter experienced a malfunction during its attempt to insert itself into orbit around Venus. A planned twelve minute engine burn ended prematurely after about only three minutes, the result of salt formation causing a fault in a check valve. You might expect that that would have spelled the end to the mission, and Akatsuki would have spent eternity orbiting the Sun. Fortunately, JAXA would get a second chance to try their insertion effort again, but they’d have to wait nearly five years for both the craft and Venus to [...]
Wed, Oct 04, 2017
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JAXA's Int-Ball
This is Int-Ball. JAXA’s Int-Ball – Source: JAXA/NASA No, it isn’t a flying BB-8. Int-Ball is the Japanese Space Agency’s (JAXA) grapefruit-sized camera drone deployed in the Japanese Experiment Module1 attached to the International Space Station. Its full name is JEM Internal Ball Camera. Int-Ball functions autonomously under the direction of ground crews at the JAXA Tsukuba Space Center. Its function is to record images and video for real-time viewing back on Earth. The device uses existing drone technology and its structure is made from 3D printed components. JAXA estimates that 1-kilogram (2.2-pound) Int-Ball can replace nearly all of the onboard crew’s [...]
Sun, Oct 01, 2017
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Check out this video that tells the abridged story of Explorer 1: the first satellite put into orbit by the United States. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIOdEQKzZaQ&w=560&h=315] These videos are something new that I’m going to try and produce regularly If you like the video, please share. I welcome your feedback. After you watch the video, you can read the full story here: Explorer 1 – America’s First Space Satellite. [...]
Thu, Sep 28, 2017
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The Australian government has just announced the formation of their nation’s first space agency. A press release posted to the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science webpage, begins: “The [Prime Minister] Turnbull Government has committed to establishing a national space agency to ensure Australia has a long-term plan to grow its domestic space industry.” More details are expected soon, with a charter for the agency expected by the end of March 2018. Any suggestions for their motto? I’m going with: The Down Under Goes Up Above. [...]
Tue, Sep 26, 2017
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September Equinox
Today is the September Equinox. You’ve probably already heard it a few times today; people running around proclaiming with utmost exuberance how today is the first day of Fall. In the Northern Hemisphere, the announcement is the harbinger of shorter days and dropping temperatures. But what is really going on today? When someone says today is the first day of Fall, what they really mean (whether they know it or not) is that today represents an equinox; specifically, the September Equinox.1 On Earth, an equinox is the point in its orbit around the Sun when both hemispheres are equally illuminated; our [...]
Fri, Sep 22, 2017
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What do you do when your 7 and 11 year-old children ask you if you have pets in space? ….you make them of course! pic.twitter.com/Ct0tdKPxQf — Randy Bresnik (@AstroKomrade) September 18, 2017 //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js [...]
Wed, Sep 20, 2017
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Artist's rendition of a Shenzou spacecraft preparing to dock with Tiangong-1
Artist’s rendition of a Shenzou spacecraft preparing to dock with Tiangong-1 – Credit: China Manned Space Engineering In September of 2011, China launched its first prototype space station. Tiangong-1 (translated into English: “Heavenly Palace 1”), was in operation until March 2016. During its operational history, it received three of visits by the China National Space Administration (CNSA). The unmanned Shenzou 8 docked with Tiangong-1 in November 2011, followed by two crewed missions: Shenzou 9 docked in June 2012, and Shenzou 10 in June 2013. China’s first two female astronauts participated in the crewed Shenzou missions to the space station: Liu Yang, [...]
Tue, Sep 19, 2017
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Approximate true-color image of Jupiter's great red spot
Approximate true-color image of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot – Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Björn Jónsson An approximately true color/contrast image processed from the image 61 raw framelets. This image should give a fairly good idea of what the Great Red Spot and surrounding areas would look like to human eyes from Juno’s position. The data used to create the above image come from the Juno spacecraft’s JunoCam. After the recent end to Cassini’s mission, Juno is currently the only orbiter exploring a planet in our outer solar system. [...]
Mon, Sep 18, 2017
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