An excellent launch, just wish I was around to watch it live. This was the fifth and last ATV (Automated Transfer Vehicle) going to the ISS.
ESA has the tradition of naming the vehicles and this one is named Georges Lemaître. Lemaitre was the first to postulate the the Big Bang theory and much more, check out the link.
lifted off at 23:47 GMT on 29 July (01:47 CEST 30 July, 20:47 local time 29 July) on an Ariane 5 ES rocket.
The vehicle will deliver 6561 kg of freight, including 2628 kg of dry cargo and 3933 kg of water, propellants and gases.
ATV Georges Lemaître lifted off at 23:47 GMT on 29 July (01:47 CEST 30 July, 20:47 local time 29 July) on an Ariane 5 ES rocket.
ATV Georges Lemaître is due to dock with the Station on 12 August and will remain attached for up to six months before leaving with waste material for destruction along with the spaceship during atmospheric reentry.
The orbit of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring up to the close pass of Mars on 19 Oct 2014. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
I was looking all over for a graphic on the Mars encounter last Thursday and NASA published this on Friday. Great timing! So now I need to figure out if the comet might be visible with a telescope. Could be, the moon won’t be a factor and Mars should be visible for a time after sunset. I just need to upload the ephemeris for Siding Spring into Stellarium.
One thing I will be able to see (and so will you) on that night is Venus and Spica very close together — easy to see too. More about that later on.
NASA on the visit:
NASA is taking steps to protect its Mars orbiters, while preserving opportunities to gather valuable scientific data, as Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring heads toward a close flyby of Mars on Oct. 19.
The comet’s nucleus will miss Mars by about 82,000 miles (132,000 kilometers), shedding material hurtling at about 35 miles (56 kilometers) per second, relative to Mars and Mars-orbiting spacecraft. At that velocity, even the smallest particle — estimated to be about one-fiftieth of an inch (half a millimeter) across — could cause significant damage to a spacecraft.
Read the rest at NASA.
ESA is getting ready to launch the Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle or IXV. This will test technologies and critical systems for Europe’s autonomous reentry for return missions from low Earth orbit. The IXV is said to be about the size of a car being 5 m long, 1.5 m high, 2.2 m wide and weighs almost 2 tons.
The IXV is to be launched atop a Vega rocket from the Europe’s Spaceport (French Guiana) in November. The flight will collect an immense amount of data during the 1 hour and 40 minute flight to the Pacific Ocean.
The flight will be short in duration and will have HUGE implications for ESA’s ambition of autonomous reentry and the possibilities that will present not to mention a U.K. Spaceport.
ESA’s IXV web page.
U.K Spaceport concept. Image: U.K. Space Agency via Spaceref
The UK is considering to open a spaceport and do it by 2018. The idea is for the UK to become a leader in the growing space market.
Business Secretary Vince Cable:
“Space is big business for the UK. It already contributes £11.3 billion to the economy each year, supporting nearly 35,000 jobs. That’s why it’s important for us to prepare the UK for new launcher technology and take steps towards meeting our ambition of establishing the first British spaceport by 2018.”
Exploring the opportunities that commercial spaceflight presents, and potentially making strategic investments in this area, will support the growth of this thriving industry and underpin the economy of tomorrow, making the UK the place for space
He and the government are very likely correct, a spaceport will provide a focal point for investment, provided they can get established early on and now is the time.
So how do they plan on getting a spaceport up and running by 2018? It won’t be as difficult as you might expect because existing facilities can be adapted. A recent civil Aviation Authority report named eight existing airfields that might be able to host an spaceport and not just any place will do because in addition to meteorological, environmental and economic criteria a few physical factors come into play:
– an existing runway which is, or is capable of being extended to, over 3000 metres in length
– the ability to accommodate dedicated segregated airspace to manage spaceflights safely
– a reasonable distance from densely populated areas in order to minimise impact on the uninvolved general public
The eight possibilities:
– Campbeltown Airport (Scotland)
– Glasgow Prestwick Airport (Scotland)
– Llanbedr Airport (Wales)
– Newquay Cornwall Airport (England)
– Kinloss Barracks (Scotland)
– RAF Leuchars (Scotland)
– RAF Lossiemouth (Scotland)
– Stornorway Airport (Scotland)
Will the UK become “The Place for Space”? I wouldn’t bet against it.
Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) shows us NGC 121. Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgment: Stefano Campani
This is one of those “southern gems” I cannot see. Not far away is NGC 104 and the bright NGC 292 among a host of others in an around the Small Magellanic Cloud.
It’s little wonder I like globulars. I found some of the images I took in the back yard, I’ll post some, nothing like this Hubble image though.
Here is a nice tutorial on Globular Clusters from SEDS.
The NASA caption:
This image shows NGC 121, a globular cluster in the constellation of Tucana (The Toucan). Globular clusters are big balls of old stars that orbit the centers of their galaxies like satellites — the Milky Way, for example, has around 150.
NGC 121 belongs to one of our neighboring galaxies, the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC). It was discovered in 1835 by English astronomer John Herschel, and in recent years it has been studied in detail by astronomers wishing to learn more about how stars form and evolve.