Back in August, two of the EU’s highly ambitious GNSS satellites were dropped into wrong orbits, though the space agency said at the time they were still under its control. Arianespace, the company responsible for the launch of those satellites, set up an Independent Inquiry Board in the aftermath to identify and analyze the anomaly that caused the insertion of the satellites into wrong orbits. The initial findings of the Board talked about an anomaly which they thought to have occurred during the flight phase involving the Fregat upper stage, causing the satellites to be injected into a non-compliant orbit.
The Board has now announced its definitive conclusions which blame the failure of two of Fregat’s attitude control thrusters during the preceding ballistic phase due to a temporary interruption of the joint hydrazine propellant supply for the Gallileo satellites insertion into wrong orbits.
All of us nerds have heard about space elevators at some point of time in our lifetime, thanks to numerous science fiction novels, comicbooks and video games. That glorious imagery of shooting up humans into space without going through the usual ‘hassles’ of large rockets gives nerdgasm to almost every space enthusiast, does it not? While the concept of space elevator dates back to 1895 (and possibly far, far earlier than that in the form of our mythology), the concept has never fully left the realms of science fiction and is still an ‘alien’ subject to the common populace. Sure, a number of companies have given the concept some thought, including dear old Google, but none of them has made any real strides in the field yet.
But Obayashi Corporation, a major Japanese construction company believes they can build a fully operational 60,000-mile space elevator by 2050.
We have around 2k artificial satellites orbiting our planet, and every instant, the controllers of those birdies fear for the safety of their machines. What do they fear, a stray comet, a meteor or an asteroid? Nah, fellas. They’re not so much concerned about these ‘heavenly’ bodies, as much as the ‘junk’ the human race has been spreading ever since the beginning of Space exploration. When a new satellite, spacecraft or even a cargo vehicle is sent to teh heavenz, the teams behind such projects spend numerous hours in ensuring a debris-free route to the destination. This is undesirable, for the time being spent on planning the ‘dodge’ route could be spent in some other critical tasks.
Electro Optic Systems has partnered with Lockheed to develop a tracking system which would supposedly reduce the time spent on ensuring a safe passage for the Space birdies.
NASA might start ‘investing’ in domestic ‘Space companies’ and discard Soyuz spacecraft for its future missions, if a report by Washington Post is to be believed. Soyuz has been taking Americans to Space after NASA retired its Space Shuttle fleet in 2011. This collaboration, according to some news outlets, costs more than $70 million a seat aboard Soyuz for an American astronaut. If NASA is indeed going to ‘buy domestic product’, it will have to first find a strong contender for the Soyuz spacecraft as well as the Soyuz rocket, which has been termed as the most reliable launching vehicle the world has ever seen. Sure, there are a number of launch vehicles which claim to be as good as Soyuz or even better, but none of them has been in the ‘field’ for as long as Soyuz.
But why can’t NASA build its own rocket and spacecraft?
A Three engine Falcon F9R Dev1 launch vehicle of SpaceX exploded during a test-flight when an ‘anomaly’ initiated the self-destruct sequence. What caused that anomaly in the first place or in what section/module the anomaly occurred was not revealed by the Hawthorne, CA based company. The test flight took place at the McGregor test facility, TX which is operated by the space transport services organization. The flight termination system, upon detecting the anomaly in the vehicle, automatically terminated the mission. No injuries or near injuries have been reported so far, and the SpaceX’s statement says that an FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) representative was present at the test facility at all times.
Even though the rocket exploded and turned into a pile of debris, we now know that SpaceX’s flight termination works correctly and can be used by the company in the future.
The European Union’s Friday launch of two Galileo satellites from French Guiana was not completely successful, for the satellites never made it to the orbit they were supposed to be ‘dropped’ into. The European Space Agency says that those satellites are still under control and are successfully being operated from the European Space Operations Center, Germany. The satellites were launched on a Soyuz ST-B rocket operated by Arianespace, a French company known for being the world’s first commercial space transportation provider. The controllers are now analyzing and pondering about the options they have to salvage the satellites. This discrepancy between targeted and reached orbit was first reported on Arianespace website on Friday.
Since the control is not yet lost, the controllers do have a chance to make things right, although no info has been provided by the officials involved regarding the options they are exploring.
Aliens! Hmm, no. Actually, we don’t know. When I first heard about it, my initial thoughts were directed towards extraterrestrial life and maybe yours were too. But we cannot be sure, there’s no hard evidence provided by the scientists who claim to have found phytoplankton and other marine microbes on the exterior surface of the Russian portion of the International Space Station. And the fact that NASA has denied having any information about such discovery does not help to ease the confusion which may arise in the minds of the common populace. This claim was made by Mr. Vladimir Solovyev, the chief of the Russian segment of the ISS.
A NASA spokesman told Space.com that the leading space research organization of the world has not received any such information from their Russian colleagues. This statement raises concerns regarding the overall validity of the Russian scientist’s claim.