Weekly Space Blog 6/22

Lots of great news this week

Herschel ends operations

This week the Herschel team send the final commands to shutdown the spacecraft following a series of tests that were performed on the spacecraft after the primary mission finished because of the depletion of the helium coolant that cooled the primary instruments.  Since April the team have been using the spacecraft to test control techniques that can’t normally be performed in flight.

For more on Herschel check out it page here.

ATV-4 Albert Einstein Docks to Space Station

The Albert Einstein cargo ship that successfully launched on two weeks ago arrived at the Space Station last Saturday.  Following a 10 day transit to the station it automatically docked to the Russian Service module and once leak checks were completed the six crew members were able to access the vehicle to begin unloading the cargo.

New Horizons News

Following a year of analysis the New Horizon’s and NASA teams have concluded that they do not need to change the trajectory of the spacecraft as it approaches Pluto.  Scheduled to arrive in 2015 they feared that the dust around Pluto could cause damage to the spacecraft and they launched an investigation to determine if anything needed to be done.

LEGO Curiosity on the way

Lego_CuriosityLEGO announced this week that they will be releasing a model of the Mars Rover Curiosity from there CUUSOO production line.  More information on the design can be found here, I wasn’t able to find an exact launch date yet but will update on a future blog once more details are available.

NASA Announces 2013 Astronaut Class

NASA announced the latest class of Astronauts candidates this week, the eight were selected from over 6100 applications the second largest ever.  They will begin preparing for low-Earth, Asteroid and Mars missions in the future.  Half the candidates are women a first for NASA.

The eight candidates are:-

Josh A. Cassada, Ph. D., 39. 
Victor J. Glover, 37, Lt. Commander, U.S. Navy. 
Tyler N. Hague (Nick), 37, Lt. Colonel, U.S. Air Force. 
Christina M. Hammock, 34. 
Nicole Aunapu Mann, 35, Major, U.S. Marine Corps. 
Anne C. McClain, 34, Major, U.S. Army. 
Jessica U. Meir, Ph.D., 35. 
Andrew R. Morgan, M.D., 37, Major, U.S. Army.

More info can be found here.

Mars Curiosity Billion Pixel View

PIA16919-mars-billion-pixel-945This week NASA released a Billion Pixel view of Mars taken from pictures that were beamed back by Curiosity.

Click on the Image to see the full picture and use the tools to look around the environment that Curiosity is currently operating in.

ISS 3D Printer Update

The 3D Printer that is destined for the International Space Station next year passed a series of Critical Microgravity Test flights recently.  The printer which will be used on the station to test 3D printing functionality on the station will allow future missions to create parts etc that have failed.

NASA begin SLS Preliminary Design Review

This review once complete will allow the SLS design to move from concept to actual design.  The review involved analysis of the complete concept to determine if there are any problems and how to address them.  The review is expected to take several weeks to complete and is an important milestone in the road to launch.  For more information check out the new feed here.

ARKYD Kickstarter Funded

The ARKYD Kickstarter project passed the $1m goal this week with more than 12,000 funders, to celebrate Planetary Resources announced additional stretch goals with the hope of raising a total of $2m with 8 days left to go.  Check out the project here and if you haven’t yet please join this exciting project.

NASA Asteroid Grand Challenge

This week NASA announced the Asteroid Grand Challenge to utilize multiple disciplines working together to identify threats to earth from Near Earth Asteroids.  Further information can be found here.

And Finally

This week the Pegasus XL rocket that will propel NASA’s Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph spacecraft, or IRIS, into orbit to study how the sun’s atmosphere is energized, was attached to the L-1011 carrier aircraft that will air drop it on 6/26.  Once released the three stage solid fuel rocket will place the spacecraft in orbit.

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