European Space Agency Astronaut Tim Peake of the UK arrived at the International Space Station today following a smooth launch and four orbit accelerated rendezvous. Tim and fellow travelers NASA’s Tim Kopra and RSA’s Yuri Malenchenko lifted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome at 6:03 AM EST today and once in orbit begun there four orbit, six hour journey to the station.
The crew had to perform a manual docking after the KURS automated docking was aborted when the craft was just 20 metres away from the station.
Tim’s mission called Principia will see him stay at the station for six months during which time he will perform numerous experiments including interacting with two Raspberry PI’s that were recently launched to the station aboard the Cygnus spacecraft. The PI’s will be executing programs created by school children around the UK which were selected during a competition.
Tim is the second UK astronaut to travel into space and the first to the ISS, the previous traveler Helen Sharman visited the Mir station.
Current station commander Scott Kelly posted the following picture of the launch captured from the station today.
We are back with our weekly blog, and what an interesting week it has been.
SpaceX announce suit against ULA Block Buy
On Friday 4/25, SpaceX’s CEO Elon Musk announced that SpaceX had filed a suit protesting the bulk buy of Rocket Core’s from ULA. SpaceX made several arguments against the block buy, including the fact that each launch was four times more expensive than then equivalent SpaceX rocket, the fact that ULA’s main engine’s were sourced from Russia.
“In light of international events, this seems like the wrong time to send hundreds of millions of dollars to the Kremlin,” said Elon Musk. “Yet, this is what the Air Force’s arrangement with ULA does, despite the fact that there are domestic alternatives available that do not rely on components from countries that pose a national security risk.”
Elon stated also that they just want the chance to compete in a fair competition, at the end of the day if they compete and lose then they would except this decision.
SpaceX confirm successful soft landing of CRS-3 first Stage
During the above Press Conference Elon Musk also announced that they had confirmed successful soft landing of the first stage from the CRS-3 launch. However due to the rough seas in the area the rocket didn’t survive long in the water.
On Tuesday this week 4/29 SpaceX posted video from the first stage, unfortunately it is badly damaged and they are asking for assistance in cleaning it up further. Several images have been posted that show the stage as it approaches the water.
This week SpaceX also completed another test of there F9R test rocket to 1000m, these tests bring closer the day when re-usable rockets will be viable.
ATK & Orbital announce merger
This week Orbital Sciences Corporation and ATK announced that they were merging to form Orbital ATK Inc. As part of the process ATK will split off the Outdoor Sports business into a separate entity and the Aerospace & Defense business will be merged with Orbital.
Classed as a merger of equal’s the new company valued at approximately $5 billion will be lead by current Orbital President and CEO Mr. David W. Thompson, with ATK’s President Mr. Blake E. Larson will become COO.
The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of this year.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister suggests US Astronauts use Trampoline to get to ISS
Due to the sanctions that been placed on several key members of the Russian government following the events in the Ukraine, Russian Deputy Prime Minister proposed an alternate solution to America’s dependency on Soyuz to get to ISS.
“I propose that the United States delivers its astronauts to the ISS with the help of a trampoline,” he said.
In response to this SpaceX’s Elon Musk tweeted the following
Unfortunately he then followed up with another tweet.
So we will have to wait until the end of this month to see the Crewed version of Dragon.
Length of ExoPlanet Day measured for the first time
Astronmers using the ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) have determined the rotation rate of an exoplanet. Beta Pictoris b has been found to have a day that lasts only eight hours, much faster than any planet in our solar system. The equator is travelling at almost 100,000 kph.
Morpheus Lander completes another Free Flight Test
This week the Morpheus Lander completed it’s 12th free flight test as KSC, for the first time the test vehicle used the Autonomous Landing and Hazard Avoidance Technology (ALHAT) to divert to a safe landing spot instead of the previously programmed landing spot..
High Definition Earth Viewing (HDEV) experiment attached to ISS
Once of the science experiments that was transported in the trunk of the Dragon last week was removed on Wednesday and attached to the space station. The HDEV experiment will beam back live pictures from the station, and contains four HD camera’s which are housed in a enclosed, pressurized, temperate controlled housing. While on station the effect of the space environment on these camera’s will be monitored.
This week Boeing released several new images showcasing the interior of there CST-100 Commercial Crew vehicle. The CST-100 is competing with Dragon, and DreamChaser to become the vehicle of choice for crewed missions to the ISS.
Bigelow Aerospace reveals full scale model of BA330
As part of the CST-100 unveil Bigelow Aerospace also unveiled a full scale model of their BA-330 inflatable module which they aim to launch by 2016. Because the module is inflatable four of these modules would provide more space than currently available on the International Space Station and would require significantly less launches to complete.
NASA Selects new Flight Directors
This week NASA announced the selection of three new Flight Directors to lead Mission Control. The directors will manage the International Space Station (ISS) operations and are Amit Kshatriya, Jeffery Radigan and Zebulon Scoville.
British Astronaut Tim Peake launches meal competition
British Astronaut Tim Peake who will be launching to the International Space Station next year has launched a competition in the UK for school children to create a meal that will fly with him to the station.
The winner will work with Celebrity Chef Heston Blumenthal to develop the idea further.