This week has been another busy week in space.
Cygnus berths to station
Following a week delay, due to a data glitch, Orbital Sciences Cygnus spacecraft successfully berthed with the International Space Station last Sunday. See my previous post here.
Falcon 9 v1.1 Successfully Launched
On Sunday SpaceX successfully launched there modified Falcon 9 rocket. See my previous post here.
Since the launch there have been rumors that the second stage exploded after dropping off the satellites, Elon Musk has stated that this didn’t happen, however there was an issue after deployment where the stage didn’t relight due to a sensor reading the craft didn’t like. They are aware of the issue and after full review of the data will make a fix before the SES flight that needs to relight the stage before deployment because of the geosynchronous transfer orbit needed.
Additional SpaceX reported that the tests to recover the first stage where successfully in that the engines relite as expected however because the first stage didn’t have the stabilizing legs that will eventually be in flown the stage span to much at the end causing the fuel to centrifuge and the engines to shutdown early. However they were still able to recover parts of the stage but more importantly believe they have everything in place to recover the stages in the future. The next attempt to recover will be the CRS-3 flight in February.
In what turned out to be a busy day in space, the Russian Proton rocket returned to flight last Sunday. This was the first Proton launch since an explosion during a July launch that caused the lose of three GLONASS navigation satellites and caused significant damage near the launch pad.
The cause of the crash was determined to be due to the incorrect installation of angular velocity sensors which caused the vehicle to receive invalid information and automatically abort the launch.
NASA celebrates 55th birthday with shutdown
This week NASA celebrated it’s 55th birthday, however most employees didn’t get to enjoy it as much as they should have done because of the first government shutdown in 17 years. As a result of the shut down a large percentage of the workforce, with the exception of essential personnel needed to operate the space station, were not able to work. There were some others who could work but not many, this could also cause delays to the upcoming MAVEN mission to Mars if the shutdown goes on to long.
MAVEN processing restarted
Earlier this week processing of the MAVEN spacecraft was halted due to the government shutdown, however this only last a couple of days as the craft was deemed critical for communicationing with the two active rovers on Mars and future vehicles as well.
Currently communication is relayed through the craft orbiting Mars, however these are getting old and lose of these would have a significant impact on the ability to get back science data from the rovers.