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Posts tagged ‘Orbiting Greenglade Prime’

Russia launches European atmosphere monitoring satellite

October 13, 2017

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia successfully launched a satellite into orbit Friday that will monitor Europe’s atmosphere, helping to study air pollution. The European Space Agency’s Sentinel-5P satellite was launched by a Rokot missile from the Plesetsk launch pad in northwestern Russia. The satellite will map the atmosphere every day.

After separating from the upper stage booster, the satellite deployed its solar panels and began communications with Earth, the ESA said. The first signal was received 93 minutes after launch as the satellite passed over the Kiruna station in Sweden.

Controllers at ESA’s operations center in Darmstadt, Germany, then established command and control links allowing them to monitor the satellite’s condition. “The Sentinel-5P satellite is now safely in orbit so it is up to our mission control teams to steer this mission into its operational life and maintain it for the next seven years or more,” ESA Director General Jan Woerner said in a statement.

The mission will contribute to volcanic ash monitoring for aviation safety and for services that warn of high levels of UV radiation causing skin damage. The measurements also will help understand processes in the atmosphere related to the climate and to the formation of holes in the ozone layer.

It’s the sixth satellite in the ESA’s Copernicus program. Other Earth-observing Sentinel satellites launched earlier provide radar and optical imagery of the Earth, and monitor the condition of the world’s oceans and ice sheets.

“Having Sentinel-5P in orbit will give us daily and global views at our atmosphere with a precision we never had before,” ESA quoted Josef Aschbacher, the head of its earth observation programs, as saying.

Philippe Gaudy, who oversees the Sentinel project for the European Space Agency, said data collected by Sentinel 5P would help scientists to better monitor air pollution, such as for nitrogen oxide emitted by cars.

A recent report estimated that more than 400,000 people die prematurely in Europe alone because of air pollution. Orbital observation can be used to compare reported air pollution by governments with actual data, to see whether countries are living up to their commitments under international treaties, Gaudy said.

The data from Sentinel-5P will be made available for free to anyone who wants it, he added. It will take engineers several months to calibrate and validate the measurements, meaning data will start to become available in the first half of next year.

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US spacewalkers repair aging ISS robotic arm

Miami (AFP)

Oct 5, 2017

Two NASA astronauts wrapped up a successful spacewalk Thursday to repair the International Space Station’s aging robotic arm, the US space agency said.

The outing by Americans Randy Bresnik and Mark Vande Hei ended at 3 pm (1900 GMT), marking a “very successful day,” a NASA spokesman said.

The spacewalk lasted six hours and 55 minutes, almost a half hour longer than planned because the pair managed to tack on a few extra jobs that had been planned for next week.

Their main work involved the latching end of the Canadian-made arm, known as Canadarm2.

They replaced one of two Latching End Effectors (LEE) which had lost the ability to grip effectively, said the US space agency.

The 57.7 foot-long (18 meter) arm was instrumental in assembling the space station and is used to reach out and grab approaching cargo ships.

The robotic arm has been a key piece of equipment at the orbiting outpost for more than 16 years, but began malfunctioning in August.

NASA wants to restore its full capability before the next US cargo ship arrives next month, carrying supplies for the six astronauts living in orbit.

Thursday’s spacewalk was the first of three scheduled spacewalks this month aimed at repairing and maintaining various pieces of equipment outside the ISS, and was the 203rd spacewalk in the history of the space station.

Vande Hei and Bresnik plan to step out on another spacewalk October 10, with the third set for October 18.

“The second and third spacewalks will be devoted to lubricating the newly installed end effector and replacing cameras on the left side of the station’s truss and the right side of the station’s US Destiny laboratory,” NASA said.

Source: Robo Daily.

Link: http://www.robodaily.com/reports/US_spacewalkers_repair_aging_ISS_robotic_arm_999.html.

The launch of Sputnik 60 years ago opened space era

October 04, 2017

MOSCOW (AP) — The launch of Sputnik 60 years ago opened the space era and became a major triumph for the Soviet Union, showcasing its military might and technological prowess. It also stunned the rest of the world.

Details of the development and the launch of the first artificial satellite were hidden behind the veil of secrecy that surrounded the Soviet space program and only became known decades later. A look at some little-known facts behind the Oct. 4, 1957, launch of the unmanned spacecraft:

A BYPRODUCT OF THE SOVIET MISSILE PROGRAM

Amid a tense Cold War arms race with the United States, the Soviet Union focused its efforts on building the world’s first intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering a hydrogen warhead to the U.S. The R-7 missile was built by a team led by Sergei Korolyov, and tests of the rocket began in 1957.

Korolyov, a visionary scientist and a shrewd manager at the same time, pressed the reluctant military brass to use one of the first R-7s to put a satellite in orbit. He warned Soviet leaders that the U.S. was also developing a satellite and won the Kremlin’s permission for the launch.

SIMPLE DESIGN

While there already was a project for a full-fledged scientific satellite, Korolyov ordered his team of engineers to design a primitive orbiter to save time and beat the U.S. into space. The craft, which was built in only a few months, was named PS-1, for “Prosteishiy Sputnik” — the “Simplest Satellite.”

The satellite, weighing less than 84 kilograms (about 184 pounds) and slightly larger than a basketball, was a pressurized sphere of polished aluminum alloy with two radio transmitters and four antennas.

An earlier satellite project envisaged a cone-shape vehicle, but Korolyov opted for the sphere. “The Earth is a sphere, and its first satellite also must have a spherical shape,” he was quoted as saying.

THE START OF SPACE AGE

While the rest of the world was stunned by the Soviet accomplishment, the Kremlin’s leadership seemed to be slow to grasp the scope of the event. The first official Soviet report of Sputnik’s launch was brief and buried deep inside the pages of Pravda, the Communist Party’s daily newspaper. Only two days after the launch did it come out with a banner headline and quotes of the foreign accolades.

LIGHT AND SOUND IN THE SKY

Sputnik contained a radio transmitter, broadcasting a distinctive “beep-beep-beep” sound. Pravda published a description of Sputnik’s orbit to help people watch it pass. However, it didn’t mention that the light seen moving across the night sky was in fact the spent booster rocket’s second stage, which was in roughly same orbit as the satellite. The tiny orbiter itself was invisible to the naked eye.

Sputnik orbited the Earth for three months before burning up in the atmosphere.

LEADING SPACE RACE

Thrilled by the global furor caused by Sputnik’s launch, the Kremlin immediately ordered Korolyov to launch a new satellite to mark the Nov. 7 anniversary of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. His team succeeded in building a spacecraft in less than a month, and on Nov. 3 launched Sputnik 2, which weighed about 508 kilograms (1,120 pounds). It carried the world’s first passenger, a dog named Laika. While the dog died of the heat soon after the launch, the flight proved that a living being could survive in space.

On April 12, 1961, the Soviet Union made another giant leap ahead of the United States when Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. The Soviet lead in space prompted the U.S. to pour money into research and technology. In 1969, the U.S. won the race to land the first man on the moon, while the Soviet program collapsed in a series of booster rocket explosions.

UNKNOWN HERO

Amid the shroud of secrecy around the Soviet rocket and space program, Korolyov was never mentioned in any contemporary accounts of the launch. His key role was known only to a small circle of senior Soviet officials and space engineers.

Korolyov was only allowed to publish the non-secret parts of his research under the pseudonym “Professor K. Sergeyev,” while Leonid Sedov, a member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences with no connection to space program, was erroneously praised in the West as the Father of Sputnik.

Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev rejected the Nobel committee’s offer to nominate Sputnik’s designer for a prize, insisting it was the achievement of “the entire Soviet people.” Korolyov’s daughter, Natalia, recalled later that her father sometimes felt bitter about the secrecy. “We are like miners — we work underground,” she quoted him saying. “No one sees or hears us.”

Ultrathin spacecraft will collect, deposit orbital debris

Los Angeles CA (Sputnik)

Sep 13, 2017

A new design gaining the interest of NASA could see the inexpensive and efficient removal of Earth’s orbiting space debris.

A proposed design for a space trash collector has received a second round of funding from NASA, and the technologies involved could benefit developments in miniaturization back on Earth. A flat quadrilateral, a sort of magic carpet less than the thickness of a human hair and about three feet on a side, would incorporate redundant microelectronic and other digital technologies, as well as the propellant to allow the device to be moved around in orbit.

Upon arriving in close proximity to one of the estimated 520,000 of bits of detectable human-made space junk dangerously cluttering up near-Earth regions, the device, known as a ‘Brane craft,’ would wrap itself around the orbiting offal and direct both objects to an uncontrolled descent into our planet’s atmosphere, at which point the trash and the collector would be on track to be immolated by the intense heat and pressure of reentry.

The space-cleaning carpet, the brainchild of California-based Aerospace Corporation, itself would be subject to the same risks it is designed to ameliorate, so it will be built with multiple backups – crafted in such a way that a tiny particle shooting through it at extremely high velocities of up to 17,500 mph would not incapacitate the device.

NASA says that it tracks around 20,000 pieces of orbital trash larger than a softball – just under four inches – orbiting the Earth, and these objects travel fast enough to damage satellites and spacecraft, placing astronauts at risk.

And while there are known to be at least 500,000 pieces of orbiting garbage the size of a marble, or bigger, there are thought to be millions upon millions of tiny bits speeding around the planet that are small enough to avoid detection, but not small enough to stop a spacewalker from being hurt or killed.

The skinny space cleaner is designed to be stackable, for easy shipping aboard a launcher, and would be deployed in swarms that can be organized to work in concert or alone – each directed to specific coordinates that can be modified at will, according to space.com.

Preparing the tech for real-world testing will take several million dollars at a minimum, according to Aerospace’s principal investigator and a senior scientist Siegfried Janson.

“We’re looking at how we can get government or other companies interested in this to take this to the next level,” Janson said, cited by space.com.

Company assertions claim that if enough of the Brane craft are deployed, almost every detectable piece of space trash weighing up to 2 pounds or less could be eliminated from orbit within a decade.

NASA, hedging its bets, provides low-level proof-of-concept funding for many near-Earth garbage-collection technologies.

Source: Space Daily.

Link: http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Ultrathin_spacecraft_will_collect_deposit_orbital_debris_999.html.

Three astronauts blast off for five-month ISS mission

By Kirill Kudryavtsev

Baikonur, Kazakhstan (AFP)

Sept 12, 2017

Two US astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut blasted off for the International Space Station in a nighttime launch from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan early Wednesday, heading for a five-month mission.

The Soyuz MS-06 rocket carrying Alexander Misurkin of the Russia’s Roscosmos space agency, NASA first-time flyer Mark Vande Hei and his veteran colleague Joe Acaba launched as scheduled at 3:17 am (2117 GMT), according to images broadcast live by Roscosmos.

After a roughly six-hour flight, the spacecraft is expected to dock at around 0300 GMT on Wednesday, where the astronauts will join Paolo Nespoli of Italy, Sergey Riazanski of Russia and Randy Bresnik of the US.

The launch marks the first time two US astronauts have blasted off together on a mission to the ISS from Russia’s Baikonur since June 2010.

The American space agency stopped its own manned launches to the ISS in 2011 but recently moved to increase its crew complement aboard the orbital lab as the Russians cut theirs in a cost-saving measure announced last year.

Acaba, 50, has spent nearly 138 days in space over two missions, while Vande Hei, 50, served with the US army in Iraq before training as an astronaut.

Misurkin, 39, who is beginning his second mission aboard the ISS, also has a military background.

Speaking at the pre-launch news conference on Monday, Acaba, who is of Puerto Rican heritage, said he would be taking some “musica Latina” on board to lift his crewmates’ spirits.

“I can guarantee my crewmates they will not fall asleep during that music and if you want to dance at about 3 am tuned into our Soyuz capsule I think you’ll enjoy it,” he told journalists.

– ‘Praying for people’ –

The launch has been overshadowed by deadly storms that have battered the Caribbean and the southern half of the United States.

External cameras on the ISS captured footage of hurricane Irma last week brewing over the Atlantic as it prepared to wreak deadly havoc.

NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston said earlier this month it suffered “significant” damage during Hurricane Harvey, although Mission Control remained operational.

Vande Hei struck a somber note in a pre-launch tweet on Monday.

“L-2 days. Sunrise over Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Praying for the people of Florida as well as the continued recovery of the Texas Gulf Coast,” he said.

Space is one of the few areas of international cooperation between Russia and the US that has not been wrecked by tensions over the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.

The ISS orbits the Earth at a height of about 250 miles (400 kilometres), circling the planet every 90 minutes at a speed of about 17,500 miles (28,000 kilometres) per hour.

Source: Space Daily.

Link: http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Three_astronauts_blast_off_for_five-month_ISS_mission_999.html.

The Second Moon Race

by Simon Mansfield

Gerroa, Australia (SPX)

Mar 13, 2017

The US and China are in an undeclared race back to the Moon.

At first glance it’s easy to dismiss China’s efforts as being little more than what the US and Russia achieved decades ago. And while the pace of China’s manned launches has been slow with over a year in many cases between launches; looks can be deceptive and China has achieved each critical step towards building a permanent space station within the next few years. Meanwhile, its overall space program builds out each critical element to support regular manned space operations.

At the same time, the US continues to pursue its own mix of military, science and civil space operations. Compared to every other national space program the US leads by such a distance it’s hard to imagine its achievements being eclipsed anytime soon.

Among the so called space community there are several groupings. Some are traditional in outlook and view the space program in purely military and or scientific terms. And while there is obviously a healthy commercial space industry – the focus here has been entirely on Earth orbit platforms such as communications and earth observation satellites.

As is well known, another group has emerged over the past 20 years and is often described as New Space. With an initial focus on space tourism, this has expanded to asteroid mining and the colonization of Mars.

Having closely followed these developments the one clear conclusion is how little has actually occurred with these dreams. Despite the regular round of space conferences and the like, the same dreams are repeated over and over. And the years keep on passing by with little to show for their efforts.

Despite a flurry of space tourist flights to the ISS, no private paying passenger has ridden a Soyuz to the ISS since 2009. Virgin Galactic remains Earth bound, while nearly every other company selling space tourist dreams has folded. The only near term contender is WorldView, which plans to launch balloons to the upper stratosphere that will enable long duration flights to an altitude where the illusion of being in space is about as real as you can get without actually flying a 100km ballistic mission profile.

SpaceX is often portrayed as the great game changer. And, like Blue Origin, both companies have embraced new computer based design methodologies that have significantly sped up rocket engine development while also reducing costs. But Blue Origin has yet to launch a single payload into space, and SpaceX is wholly dependent on traditional customers such as NASA and the large commercial satellite communication operators.

SpaceX’s recent announcement of a cis-lunar mission faces no significant obstacles and may achieve its goal of launching two paying customers by 2018 – but there is no shortage of industry observers who seriously doubt that this timeframe is realistic and expect the launch date to slip to 2019/2020 and even longer.

For now, the real action will remain with the government space programs of the US, Russia, the EU, China and India.

Given NASA’s recent history of attempting to develop a new heavy lift launcher only to abandon yet another program after spending billions, it’s been easy to dismiss the Space Launch System as just another make work program for Alabama.

Frequently derided as the Senate Launch System, in honor of its government backers in the US Senate, there is far more to this than many realize.

That the SLS is so strongly backed by the US Senate, should point to what the real objective of the SLS program actually is.

The stated reason has been to travel and land on a passing asteroid and achieve a significant “space first” that would obviously play well for national prestige. And while this may be one of its mission objectives, the obvious similarities to the Saturn 5 launcher should make it clear why the Senate has so readily backed the SLS program. Namely as a ready-to-go launcher for an Apollo Redux should China show any intention or, more importantly, near-term capability of sending humans back to the Moon.

Despite the dreams and aspirations of so many across New Space national prestige is what drives the civil space programs today as much as it has done for the past 60+ years.

China would be delighted to be the second nation to make it to the moon in what would be an entirely new achievement that would signal to the world that China was the new Superpower to respect and aspire to.

The US Senate has, in my opinion, long understood the realpolitik of this and for this reason demanded that NASA develop the SLS program as an undeclared back up plan that could be readily sped up when China begins to make its play for a manned mission to the lunar surface.

Within the framework of global superpower politics – the US cannot allow China to land humans on the Moon before the US returns.

For China to be landing people on the Moon while the US can’t even launch its own astronauts to the ISS, would be a global projection of power that would be immensely damaging to US prestige and power.

It would appear that this intersection of superpower politics has been communicated to President Trump and the undeclared race back to the Moon is fast becoming a reality.

Elon Musk has sought to deal SpaceX into the game with the CIS-Lunar mission. China has now responded with a flurry of well placed stories in its domestic media about its own manned Lunar program. And all of sudden everyone is talking about sending humans back to the moon.

In response, the Mars or Bust crowd has begun complaining that this is all a distraction that will make the “Journey to Mars” an even more distant prospect than what it is now. And that only private enterprise can make us a space faring species.

The reality though is that the space tourism industry has achieved next to nothing of what it has promised over the past 15 years. The asteroid miners are just paper projects that fill in slots for the conference circuit and are decades away from recovering any minerals from an asteroid for commercial purposes.

Comparisons to the age of discovery of the 16th and 17th centuries are usually best taken with a grain of salt given the sailing ships of those times had a functioning biosphere readily at hand and actual gravity to support them, along with complete radiation protection and an endless supply of cheap labor and food.

However, there is one aspect that can be reasonably compared – and that is time. It took decades and in some cases centuries for the full potential of the new world to be exploited in any significant way. Moreover, spaceflight and terrestrial flight are not the same. They are separated by many orders of magnitude in cost and energy. It is therefore entirely unsurprising that we are only where we are now with space exploration and development. Logically, this will change over the coming decades, but it will take far longer than most are prepared to accept.

In the meantime, the Second Moon Race has begun, and will be readily embraced by NASA and its private industry contractors, be they legacy or new space.

Source: Space Daily.

Link: http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/The_Second_Moon_Race_999.html.

Under Trump, the Moon regains interest as possible destination

Washington (AFP)

March 12, 2017

Dismissed by former US president Barack Obama as a place explorers had already seen, the Moon has once again gained interest as a potential destination under Donald Trump’s presidency.

Private sector companies in particular are energized by the prospect of future space exploration missions beyond low-Earth orbit, where the International Space Station circles the Earth.

Even though Trump himself has said little about the subject, his close circle and some former NASA officials have made clear their interest in returning to the Moon by way of partnerships with the private sector.

Billionaire Elon Musk, the president and chief executive of SpaceX, along with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who also runs a rocket company called Blue Origin, have met with Trump’s advisers several times since the Republican won the presidency.

“There is certainly a renewed interest in the Moon in the Trump administration,” said John Logsdon, former director of the Space Policy Institute at The George Washington University.

Some of Trump’s advisers worked on the Constellation program, conceived by former president George W. Bush with a goal to return humans to the Moon for the first time since the pioneering US Apollo missions of the 1960s and ’70s.

Obama cancelled Constellation, deeming it too costly and repetitive in nature, opting instead to work toward new and unexplored destinations like an asteroid and, one day, Mars.

“The people advising Trump on space in a sense are still angry at that and believe it was a mistake,” said Logsdon.

“If the Trump administration gets out of the current chaos and if their approach to the budget would allow it, I think within the next 12 months, we will see a major space initiative involving a public-private partnership — hopefully international partnership — focused on a return to the Moon.”

– Bold –

Eric Stallmer, president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, which represents the private sector of spaceflight, agreed.

“I think the Trump administration wants to do something big and bold and the Moon is certainly that idea,” he told AFP.

NASA’s current focus on developing what will be the world’s most powerful rocket, known as the Space Launch System, which will propel a new capsule, Orion, to deep space, one day carrying people around the Moon, to an asteroid or even to Mars by the 2030s.

Stallmer described this program as “very expensive.”

“I think you cannot proceed with a mission to the Moon and beyond at this point anymore without a partnership with the commercial industry,” he added.

Since the US-run space shuttle program ended in 2011, NASA has forged partnerships with private industry, including SpaceX and Orbital ATK, to resupply the International Space Station.

SpaceX plans to start sending astronauts to the orbiting outpost as early as 2018.

“I know that there is no backing down from the commercial sector, from the commercial launch companies on their desire and vision to go to the Moon and beyond. These are very exciting times,” said Stallmer.

SpaceX said last month it had signed its first contract to send two space tourists on a trip around the Moon at the end of 2018, but did not give many details, including the cost or their identities.

SpaceX has also vowed to send an unmanned spacecraft on a journey to Mars in 2018, as a prelude to manned missions one day.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported that its owner Bezos is working on an Amazon-like delivery service to the Moon.

The proposal has not been made public, but was circulated to the Trump team and NASA in the form of a seven-page white paper, the report said.

– Moon colonies –

The goal of the project is to enable “future human settlement” on the Moon.

“It is time for America to return to the Moon — this time to stay,” Bezos was quoted as saying in an email to the Post.

“A permanently inhabited lunar settlement is a difficult and worthy objective. I sense a lot of people are excited about this.”

Oklahoma Republican lawmaker Jim Bridenstine, who has told Trump he wants to be the next NASA administrator, has praised cooperation between the US space agency and private industry, and called for a return to Moon mission as a way to boost needed resources on Earth, such as water.

Research has shown billions of tons of water ice can be found at each lunar pole.

“Water ice on the Moon could be used to refuel satellites in orbit or perform on-orbit maintenance,” he wrote in a blog post in December.

“Government and commercial satellite operators could save hundreds of millions of dollars by servicing their satellites with resources from the Moon rather than disposing of, and replacing, their expensive investments.”

This could translate into lower bills for users of satellite internet, television and radio services, he said.

The lunar soil is also believed to be rich in rare Earth minerals that are widely used in electronic devices.

The Google Lunar XPrize Foundation is also in on the action, recently announcing its five finalists for a $20 million award to the first team to land a robot on the Moon.

Source: Moon Daily.

Link: http://www.moondaily.com/reports/Under_Trump_the_Moon_regains_interest_as_possible_destination_999.html.

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