Space stuff (NASA, UKSA, CSA, ESA, etc)

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Want a chance to name the rover going to Mars in 2020 to look for signs of microbiological life? Go here to do so. Sadly there is no Boaty McBoatface type option as you're just suggesting names & the final decision will be made by an expert panel from all the names submitted. Also only available to people from countries who are either members or associate members of the European Space Agency (which includes Canada for some reason...:confused:).
 
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SpaceX is attempting to 1) fly and land its first block five engine and 2) catch the fairings.

1) is important because in order to have human-rated spacecraft you have to freeze all changes to the spacecraft and fly it, unchanged, without critical errors, for some number of times (I've heard 9) before it becomes human-rated. SpaceX changes Falcon 9 stage one frequently, sometimes minor changes for each flight, so they haven't been able to attain human rating for it even though they've flown the last 38 missions without launch failure. "Block 5" is the name they've given this specific iteration of design and they've locked it down from further changes.

My guess (no foundation whatsoever) is that they'll fly it as much as they can for the remainder of the year until they attain the human-rated spacecraft goal, then they'll start iterating on newer satellite launches while starting their human flights using block 5.

At any rate, human flights on SpaceX rockets will probably start next year. The first flight of the Dragon 2 capsule should occur in September (though some reports it being scheduled for August). This capsule is intended for human flight, and will also require a few tests to become fully human rated. This is the second iteration of the Dragon capsule which is already a successful platform, having been used and re-used many times to deliver and retrieve cargo from the space station.

Today's first block five launch succeeded both at launching and landing.

2) is important because the fairings cost around $5 million, and reducing the cost of launch is the only way to succeed in this business. This is trickier than landing stage one because the fairings are parachute controlled. Wind and weather more strongly affect parachute craft than powered craft. They did increase the area of the net on the ship by 4 times for this attempt, however, it was a failure.
 
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SpaceX is attempting to 1) fly and land its first block five engine and 2) catch the fairings.

1) is important because in order to have human-rated spacecraft you have to freeze all changes to the spacecraft and fly it, unchanged, without critical errors, for some number of times (I've heard 9) before it becomes human-rated. SpaceX changes Falcon 9 stage one frequently, sometimes minor changes for each flight, so they haven't been able to attain human rating for it even though they've flown the last 38 missions without launch failure. "Block 5" is the name they've given this specific iteration of design and they've locked it down from further changes.
Point of order, today is the 3rd launch of block 5: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falcon_9_Full_Thrust#Block_5
The maiden flight launched the satellite Bangabandhu-1 on May 11, 2018.
...snip...
NASA requires seven flights before the vehicle can be certified for human spaceflight.
And from Wired:
Just three days after delivering its heaviest payload to space, the company will launch another upgraded Falcon 9—this time from its California launch site. The flight, scheduled to lift off at 7:39 am ET on Wednesday
Above I also quoted the part about 7 flights necessary for human flight.
 
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Wind and weather more strongly affect parachute craft than powered craft. They did increase the area of the net on the ship by 4 times for this attempt, however, it was a failure.
Wind and weather may have been the big reason for the failure. The SpaceX spokesman said these were the worst conditions yet for a drone ship recovery.
 
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Wind and weather may have been the big reason for the failure. The SpaceX spokesman said these were the worst conditions yet for a drone ship recovery.
What little light there was from the rocket booster as it landed showed whitecaps on the waves, so not only was it in the dark, but it must have been very rough seas.
 
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On Tuesday, NASA unveiled new target test flight dates for Boeing and SpaceX for the Commercial Crew Program.

The dates are as follows:
  • Boeing Orbital Flight Test (Uncrewed): Late 2018/early 2019
  • Boeing Crew Flight Test (Crewed): Mid-2019
  • SpaceX Demo-1 (Uncrewed): November 2018
  • SpaceX Demo-2 (Crewed): April 2019

(Spectrum News 13)
 
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Neat video.

One clarification about the AJ-260: The test facility was near Homestead, not Cape Canaveral. That means that "lighting up the sky in Miami" was something that happened from 32 miles (50km) away, not 200 (320). It's still really impressive -- just not as apocalyptic as the video might suggest.

Abandoned Florida has a write up on what's left of the facility.
 

GasBandit

Staff member
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Something something hurry up with our own launch vehicles SOMETHING.
I'd like to say "something something russian build quality" but I mean, it's not like NASA hasn't had it's own issues with catastrophic failures whose roots were in management culture.
 
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I feel like at any other time I would've just written this off as "of course it was a manufacturing screw-up by the contractor and they did a crummy job of patching it." These days, though...
 
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I feel like at any other time I would've just written this off as "of course it was a manufacturing screw-up by the contractor and they did a crummy job of patching it." These days, though...
Any failure from Soyuz would look bad on the Russians though, and Putin wouldn't stand for that unless he authorized the shittiness, and there's no benefit to them here. And there's Cosmonauts up there as well (I assume, I think there always are?), so I'm more willing to believe "shitty contractor" on this one rather than deliberate malice until more evidence comes forward.
 
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Reading the article, it at least sounds like this was something that happened on the ground and wasn’t discovered until it was in orbit, rather than that one of the astronauts is secretly a mad driller.

—Patrick
 
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Any failure from Soyuz would look bad on the Russians though, and Putin wouldn't stand for that unless he authorized the shittiness, and there's no benefit to them here. And there's Cosmonauts up there as well (I assume, I think there always are?), so I'm more willing to believe "shitty contractor" on this one rather than deliberate malice until more evidence comes forward.
Yes, myself as well.
 
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Two tiny hopping robots have successfully landed on an asteroid called Ryugu. The rovers are part of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Hayabusa2 asteroid sample-return mission. Engineers with the agency deployed the robots early Friday (Sept. 21) (Space.com)



 
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Two astronauts from the U.S. and Russia made an emergency landing early Thursday morning when a Russian rocket booster that was taking them to the International Space Station failed after launch. NASA stated that NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos’ Alexei Ovchinin made contact with search and rescue teams. The two men are in good condition (Spectrum News 13)

The crew of the MS-10 landed roughly 12 miles east of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan and was met by a search and recovery team that’s always prepared on the ground for a situation precisely like this. The crew is currently being brought to Moscow. (Gizmodo)

The video of the launch. Note: It does not show the failure, but the failure plays out in real time on the audio at about 3:00.
 
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NASA’s Parker Solar Probe Just Smashed Two Records in a Single Day

At 1:04 pm ET on October 29, the spacecraft got closer than 42.7 million kilometers (26.55 million miles) from the Sun’s surface—a new record for a human-built object.​
Less than 10 hours later, the probe set yet another record. Attaining and then surpassing a speed of 246,960 kilometers per hour (153,454 miles per hour), the Parker probe became the fastest-ever human-built object relative to the Sun.​
 
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Less than 10 hours later, the probe set yet another record. Attaining and then surpassing a speed of 246,960 kilometers per hour (153,454 miles per hour), the Parker probe became the fastest-ever human-built object relative to the Sun.
Two questions on this one:
  • Is there a "reasonable" reference frame we have that would change the answer versus "relative to the sun"? I'm thinking maybe relative to the center of the galaxy (or some other much further out point) if in that moment the probe was going against the spin of the galaxy it's slower? Whereas once it goes to the other side of our sun, it'll be going "with" the galactic spin, and thus faster? That makes sense to me, I just wondered what others might think
  • I think most of us would consider a bullet fired from a gun a human-build object that has speed imparted to it. So should particles in a particle accelerator also qualify? We by many definitions "manufacture" those particles, and then accelerate them. By that idea, isn't the fastest "human-built object" then something short-lived in the LHC?
 
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Two questions on this one:
  • Is there a "reasonable" reference frame we have that would change the answer versus "relative to the sun"? I'm thinking maybe relative to the center of the galaxy (or some other much further out point) if in that moment the probe was going against the spin of the galaxy it's slower? Whereas once it goes to the other side of our sun, it'll be going "with" the galactic spin, and thus faster? That makes sense to me, I just wondered what others might think
  • I think most of us would consider a bullet fired from a gun a human-build object that has speed imparted to it. So should particles in a particle accelerator also qualify? We by many definitions "manufacture" those particles, and then accelerate them. By that idea, isn't the fastest "human-built object" then something short-lived in the LHC?
Velocity is always recorded relative to "something". Most of the time that's the Earth, but for something so far away that stops making sense so they need to record against something else. The article specifying "relative to the Sun" is I think just making clear how they were measuring it.
 
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should particles in a particle accelerator also qualify? We by many definitions "manufacture" those particles, and then accelerate them. By that idea, isn't the fastest "human-built object" then something short-lived in the LHC?
By this logic, I could break (equal, really) the record for fastest “manufactured” object just by turning on a flashlight.

—Patrick
 
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