Virgin Galactic Unveils SS2

Posted January 30, 2008 at 9:50 am by Paul
Filed under: Virgin Galactic

SpaceShipTwo

Virgin Galactic has unveiled “SpaceShipTwo” or SS2, as well as a new mothership for the fledgling spaceliner company. Unfortunately the unveiling consisted of displaying a model, artist renderings, and design specifications, rather than any actual space hardware. We think this is mainly a marketing move — Virgin Galactic wants to show that they are making progress and is trying to keep up interest in their product.

The company has a good chance of actually providing sub-orbital flights to space tourists. SpaceShip One demonstrated the viability of the technology by winning the $10 million Ansari X Prize, and Richard Branson is providing the large amount of financial backing required to get the company airborne. Branson declared somewhat oddly that “2008 really will be the year of the spaceship”. Didn’t the Space Shuttle, Apollo, Soyuz, etc. count as “spaceships”? But in any case, we hope Virgin Galactic succeeds in its quest to launch the first (ahem) spaceship soon.

Israel Launches Satellite On Indian Rocket

Posted January 29, 2008 at 9:09 am by Paul
Filed under: Satellite

Last week, Israel put a new spy satellite into space to monitor Iran’s nuclear and military activities.  The TECSAR satellite was launched abort an Indian rocket.  This was India’s second commercial mission on behalf of another country, as India tries to ramp up its commercial space program.

So what’s the satellite capable of?  Well, obviously that’s a secret since it is spy satellite, but it’s said to be quite advanced, and capable of “enhanced footage technology”, which may mean that it can provide imagery through many different atmospheric conditions.

Spy Satellite Will Plunge To Earth In A Few Weeks

Posted January 27, 2008 at 8:07 pm by Paul
Filed under: Satellite

A spokesman for the National Security Council has announced that a secret U.S spy satellite is in a decaying orbit and will likely re-enter Earth’s atmosphere within the next several weeks. This might be the satellite launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in December 2006. It was an experimental imagery satellite that failed or was disabled in some way. Soon after it reached orbit, communication was lost.

This particular satellite might still contain most of the hydrazine fuel that it carries for maneuvers in space. If this is not burned off during re-entry, it could pose a threat to whoever is beneath it as it crashes down. But Spacemodo thinks that is unlikely. In any case, it’s interesting to hear about the final fate of this secret space gadget.

BepiColombo To Study Mercury In Detail

Posted January 22, 2008 at 10:10 pm by Paul
Filed under: BepiColumbo, Space Probes

BepiColumbo

The European Space Agency has started development of the BepiColombo mission to Mercury. The mission will combine two space probes, the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) from Europe, and the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO) from Japan. The intent is to provide the best understanding of Mercury to date, including a complete map of Mercury at different wavelengths. The missing is scheduled to launch August 2013.

Read More [esa.int]

MESSENGER Sends Back Mercury Photo

Posted January 15, 2008 at 10:11 pm by Paul
Filed under: MESSENGER, Space Probes

Mercury

In its first swing past Mercury, the MESSENGER space probe returned this picture of the planet nearest the Sun.  This is the first time this hemisphere of Mercury has been photographed.

Yes, Atlantis Will Fly February 7

Posted January 14, 2008 at 10:06 pm by Paul
Filed under: Space Shuttle

STS-122

It’s official — NASA has scheduled the ultimate space gadget to launch on February 7. STS-122 will be an 11 day mission that will bring the Columbus laboratory to the International Space Station.

Read More [space.com]

GLAST In Final Round Of Testing

Posted January 12, 2008 at 5:37 pm by Paul
Filed under: GLAST, Space Probes

GLAST in the clean room

GLAST is the Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope. The Naval Research Laboratory in Washington will be doing its final round of testing (the third of three tests). GLAST will be used to study gamma-ray bursts.

Read More [spacedaily.com]

MESSENGER Will Fly Past Mercury On Monday

Posted January 11, 2008 at 11:09 am by Paul
Filed under: MESSENGER, Space Probes

MESSENGER

The MESSENGER space probe, launched by NASA in August 2004, will perform the first of three flybys of the planet Mercury on Monday. This will give us the first good look at Mercury in more than 30 years. Read More …

Will Atlantis Launch On February 7th?

Posted at 11:04 am by Paul
Filed under: Space Shuttle

NASA is deciding whether they will be able to meet a Feb. 7 launch date for the shuttle Atlantis. Engineers will first need to replace an electrical connector for the shuttle’s external fuel tank.

Read More …