Oferte Emag

Progress 44 accident and its consequences for Space Station

Copyright ESA

The six astronauts on the International Space Station are safe and continuing their normal work after the loss of their space-bound cargo craft on 24 August.

While the cause of the accident is being sought by a Russian commission, the Station partners are preparing for several scenarios to ensure the safety of the crew and the orbital outpost. The Progress 44 freighter, carrying 2670 kg of cargo for the Station, failed to reach proper orbit after the premature shutdown of its third-stage engine 325 seconds after launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The remnants of the stage and Progress fell back to Earth from an altitude of about 200 km over the Altai Republic in southern Siberia.

Soyuz-U launch sequence

No remnants have been found so far and it is possible that the Progress and its third stage – both loaded with fuel and oxygen – burned up in the atmosphere. The search crews are still probing the large areas of difficult terrain in severe weather conditions looking for evidence.

Launches of Soyuz rockets have been suspended until the cause of the engine malfunction is identified.

ESA recognises the vast experience of its Russian partners [...]

Space Station Crew Enjoys Eye-Level View of Perseid Meteor Shower

Copyright NASA

With the bright moon that was out on the evening of August 13, many astronomy buffs were not able to fully appreciate the spectacular Perseid meteor shower going on in the night sky. From the International Space Station, however, astronaut Ron Garan had a front seat view as part of the Crew Earth Observations, or CEO, investigation.

Using a Nikon D3S digital camera with a 22 mm lens, Garan captured a stunning photo of one of the Perseid meteors streaking through Earth’s atmosphere. You can see part of the space station’s solar array in the image, allowing the viewer to share in the unique perspective of the crew from low Earth orbit. This photograph will add to the CEO investigation’s collection of hundreds of thousands of Earth images.

The astronaut photography for CEO supports global research, according to William Stefanov, chief scientist for the Engineering and Science Contract Group supporting the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science Directorate at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. “The inclined equatorial orbit of the station, and having ‘humans in the loop,’ makes it a useful and unique platform in comparison to unmanned polar-orbiting sensor systems. From the space station, data can [...]

Five days in the CSS space hotel

Boarding the Soyuz rocket, seven hotel patrons will be asked to fork over £500,000 ($825,000) for the flight and another £100,000 ($165,000) for a five-night stay — who needs family road trips when you can vacation in space? Russian company Orbital Technologies announced plans to construct a Commercial Space Station (CSS) by 2016, offering guests an unforgettable vacation and kick-ass view of Earth below.

Countdown begins for China’s space station

Authorities in charge of the manned space program unveiled plans on Monday to build a 60-ton space station, made up of three capsules, and develop a cargo spaceship to transport supplies.

The China Manned Space Engineering Office said at a news conference that it also wants the public to get involved by suggesting names for the space station, due to completed around 2020.

According to documents provided by the office, the space station, weighing about 60 tons, is composed of a core module and two others where experiments will be conducted.

A cargo spaceship to transport supplies will also be developed.

The 18.1-meter-long core module, with a maximum diameter of 4.2 meters and a launch weight of 20 to 22 tons, will be launched first.

The two experiment modules will then blast off to dock with the core module. Each laboratory module is 14.4 meters long, with the same maximum diameter and launch weight of the core module.

“The 60-ton space station is rather small compared to the International Space Station (419 tons), and Russia’s Mir Space Station (137 tons) which served between 1996 and 2001,” said Pang Zhihao, a researcher and deputy editor-in-chief of the monthly magazine, Space [...]

Leonardo attached to Space Station

Copyright ESA

After a flawless launch last Thursday and a textbook docking on Saturday, the Space Shuttle today delivered the European-built Leonardo Permanent Multipurpose Module to the International Space Station.

This final flight of Discovery marks the eighth and final trip of Leonardo to the orbiting complex. This visit will be longer: the module will be left attached to the Station as a permanent extension. Originally built to ferry cargo to and from the Station in the Shuttle cargo bay, Leonardo’s modifications include improved debris shielding and easier access by the crew to its internal equipment.

Leonardo flew into space for the first time in 2001, also on Discovery, as the first of three Multipurpose Logistics Modules built by the Italian space agency, ASI, under an agreement with NASA.

Its final cargo for the Station includes an experiment rack and a range of stowage facilities. Leonardo can also support microgravity research into fluid physics, materials science, biology and biotechnology.

Leonardo was removed from the Shuttle’s cargo bay using the Station’s robotic arm and mated to the Earth-facing port of the Unity node. Attachment was called complete at 16:05 CET.

Discovery is scheduled to return to Earth on 8 [...]

New NASA Designs for a Reusable Manned Deep-Space Craft

Copyright NASA/HobbySpace

This tubular spacecraft could serve as a reusable vehicle for lunar and deep-space missions, holding a crew of six and enough supplies for a two-year expedition.

Dubbed Nautilus-X, for “Non-Atmospheric Universal Transport Intended for Lengthy United States eXploration,” this craft could be built in orbit and ready for space missions by 2020, according to a briefing by NASA’s Future In Space Operations group.

It would be assembled from expandable structures, such as the inflatable habitats proposed by Bigelow Aerospace. It would also contain a ring centrifuge to provide partial gravity, and radiation-mitigation systems that could include tanks of water or liquid hydrogen slush, reports the website HobbySpace.com.

A greenhouse in space

Copyright ESA

t’s small, but it’s a greenhouse for space voyagers – and for you. Paolo Nespoli will take a special greenhouse with him to the International Space Station and he’s inviting young science enthusiasts to conduct an experiment with him.

Growing plants in space will be crucial for the astronauts of the future. When flying to Mars or even further, it will be necessary to produce fresh food onboard and become partially self-sufficient. Setting up greenhouses on the Moon, Mars or other planetary bodies will also be an important part of future exploration missions. Greenhouses also provide oxygen and bring some life to the bleakness of space. Caring for plants is a good way to maintain memories of Earth and an enjoyable way to pass time during the long and possibly boring interplanetary cruise.

There is no danger of boredom during Paolo’s MagISStra mission, as it will be packed with activity and science. The ‘Greenhouse in space’ project, proposed and conceived by ESA’s Directorate of Human Spaceflight, is not only a scientific experiment but also an educational opportunity for schoolchildren aged between 12 and 14.

Paolo will use a specially-developed greenhouse in space to grow plants and make [...]

Building Europe’s vision for space exploration

Copyright ESA

Europe’s vision for launching astronauts and robot explorers out into the Solar System will come into sharper focus on 21 October when the ministers responsible for space activities meet in Brussels to discuss Europe’s goals for space exploration. Events can be followed live on the web.

Ministers from the 29 ESA and EU states will rendezvous in Brussels this week for their second International Conference on Space Exploration as the next step towards creating a future European exploration strategy.

The ministers will build on the debate begun a year ago in Prague during the first high-level conference dedicated to the topic.

Core discussion points during the three main sessions include the new technologies needed, access to space and what infrastructure is needed in low Earth orbits.

The ministers will also have insights at the plans, priorities and programmes of the world’s other space agencies and discuss about opportunities for cooperation.

Events at the Palais d’Egmont in Brussels can be followed live via the web stream at webcast.ec.europa.eu

The conference is co-organised by the Belgian Presidency of the EU, the European Commission, the Chair of the ESA Ministerial Council (Italy) and by ESA.

Proceedings will be opened [...]

Orbital Technologies and RSC Energia to Launch World’s First Commercial Space Station

Orbital Technologies and Rocket and Space Corporation Energia (RSC Energia) announced today their intentions to build, launch, and operate the world’s first Commercial Space Station (CSS). The station will be utilized by private citizens, professional crews as well as corporate researchers interested in conducting their scientific programs onboard the world’s first commercially available human spaceflight platform.

The CEO of Orbital Technologies, Sergey Kostenko said, “I am pleased to announce our intention to provide the global marketplace a commercially available orbital outpost. Once launched and operational, the CSS will provide a unique destination for commercial, state and private spaceflight exploration missions.” Mr. Kostenko continued, “The CSS will be a valuable addition to the global base of orbital assets. We look forward to working with corporate entities, state governments and private individuals from around the world.”

The CSS will be man-tended, with a crew capability of up to seven people. Space-certified elements, modules and technologies of the highest quality and reliability will be used in the construction of the station. The CSS will be serviced by the Russian Soyuz and Progress spacecraft, as well other transportation systems available in the global marketplace. Such arrangements are enabled through the station’s unified docking [...]

Star Wars Meets UPS as Robonaut Packed for Space

Copyright NASA

Getting into space isn’t necessarily easy for astronauts, and it’s not much easier for a robotic astronaut, either.

Cocooned inside an aluminum frame and foam blocks cut out to its shape, Robonaut 2, or R2, is heading to the International Space Station inside the Permanent Multipurpose Module in space shuttle Discovery’s payload bay as part of the STS-133 mission.

Once in place inside the station, R2, with its humanlike hands and arms and stereo vision, is expected to perform some of the repetitive or more mundane functions inside the orbiting laboratory to free astronauts for more complicated tasks and experiments. It could one day also go along on spacewalks.

Making sure the first humanoid robot to head into space still works when it gets there has been the focus of workers at NASA’s Kennedy and Johnson space centers. Engineers and technicians with decades of experience among them packing for space have spent the last few months devising a plan to secure the 330-pound machine against the fierce vibrations and intense gravity forces during launch.

“I think back in May we realized we had a huge challenge on our hands,” said Michael Haddock, a mechanical engineer designing the [...]