This week SpaceX sign military agreement, Chinese Astronauts, Chris Hadfield, Opportunity and Kepler keep giving, and much more.
This week SpaceX signed a framework agreement for potential Military launches in the future. Under the agreement the air force will evaluate the Falcon v1.1 rocket over at least three launches as well as all the processes, procedures etc involved in create the vehicles. Once the evaluation period is complete SpaceX may have the chance to compete for future launches.
Chinese Launch and Docking
On Tuesday this week three Chinese Astronauts successfully launched to Orbit aboard a Long March 2F rocket, once in orbit the spacecraft made it’s way to the Tiangong 1 space station arriving on Thursday. Following a successful automated docking the three Astronauts made there way into the station to begin 15 days of work. During their stay at the station they will perform a manual undock and redock as well as numerous scientific experiments before heading back to earth.
This week the Mars Opportunity Rover team announced that they believe they have found clay minerals in a rock recently examined by the rover. The team explained that their presence is an indication that the rock had been altered by long term exposure to water. Although they have found indications of water since arriving on the planet they explained that this was different because it indicated a neutral pH balance where as previous examples had higher pH balances.
The Rover has been operating on Mars for 9+ years, over 35 times longer than originally designed and recently broke the US distance record on another planetary object.
In this panorama, Solander Point is the near peak on the left of the horizon. It is more than a kilometre away from Opportunity’s current position and the rover would hope to arrive by August
More Kepler planet candidate announced
The Kepler team announced another 503 planet candidates this week, some which may be the right size and distance from their star to support life.
The Kepler team continue to analyze the vast amounts of data they have already received from the four+ years of operations.
The Kepler spacecraft is currently operating in a Point Rest State due to the failure of a second gyroscope that is used to stabilize the craft, and a team has been formed to determine what course of action can be taken to restore some if not all the scientific operations of the Vehicle.
Chris Hadfield announces resignation
This week Chris Hadfield announced his resignation from the Canadian Space Agency after 21 years at the agency. Chris who recently returned from a six month mission to the space station the last part which was served as Commander, became well known for the amazing pictures that he tweeted from space.
Chris and his family have spent many years in Houston working with NASA and will be returning to his native Canada to enjoy his retirement.
Planetary Resources announce stretch goal
Planetary Resources announced via their Kickstarter ARKYD page an ambitious stretch goal for the campaign. If they are able to raise $2 million by the 30th June they then will add ExoPlanet detection capabilities to the spacecraft. Check out the project here.
That’s all for this week, will be plenty more next week.