Why Did Docking Abort?

Sounds like a communications problem essentially. Interesting that the component is on the Station-side of the loop. The good thing about this scenario, if accurate, is the possibility of swapping out the bad component.

As they state, the earliest another attempt might be attempted is Sunday night into Monday so at least 48 hours.

Thanks SciNews!

Soyuz Docking Aborted

The approach was aborted, this video is a short version of NASA TV coverage from SciNews.

Better safe than sorry though, so we wait while this gets sorted as is stated in the video no other attempt will be taken today.

BioRock

Luca at work aboard the International Space Station in this ESA image.

ESA: Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it is off to work the microbes go.

ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano slides the smallest miners in the universe into the Kubik experiment container on the International Space Station.

For the next three weeks, three different species of bacteria will unleash themselves on basalt slides in the Kubik centrifuge that simulates Earth and martian gravity as well as in microgravity.

Run by a research team from the University of Edinburgh in the UK, the BioRock experiment is testing how altered states of gravity affect biofilm formation – or the growth of microbes on rocks.

Microbes are able to weather down a rock from which they can extract ions. This natural process enables biomining, where useful metals are extracted from rock ores.

Already a common practice on Earth, biomining will eventually take place on the Moon, Mars and asteroids as we expand our understanding and exploration of the Solar System.

The bacteria arrived at the Space Station on the latest Dragon resupply mission in a dehydrated, dormant state.

The organisms are given ‘food’ to restore cell growth and left to grow on basalt at 20°C.

After three weeks, the samples will be preserved and stored at 4°C while they await their return to Earth.

Researchers will map out how altered states of gravity affect the rock and microbes as a whole, as well as which microbe is the best candidate for mining in space. It is hoped these results will shine light on extraterrestial biomining technologies and life-support systems involving microbes for longer duration spaceflight.

Biomining in space can also increase the efficiency of the process on Earth and could even reduce our reliance on precious Earth resources.

In addition to installing the little creatures, Luca is busy with a host of other experiments during his six-month mission, called Beyond.

Listen to the latest episode of the ESA Explores podcast for more science on the Space Station.

Follow Luca and his #MissionBeyond on social media and the blog.

Soyuz MS-14 Launch – Replay

Here is the replay of the Soyuz MS-14. The launch occurred at 11:38 PM ET.

I missed it because of the AM/PM thing, and is exactly why the dates were confusing. Also the reason I always tend to use UTC time, then it is clear and all one needs to do is convert that to local time.

Ah well. On a happy note while looking for this particular replay I noticed a conspiracy theorist site with coverage, presumably because of the Skybot F-850 Humanoid Robot on board. I need to watch, it could be a laugh.

Soyuz MS-14 Launch +

Catch part of the on-going spacewalk and the Soyuz MS-14 launch of a cargo-spaceship to the International Space Station.

Launch is scheduled for 15:38 UT / 11:38 ET today.

Update: Enjoy the spacewalk. The launch is apparently going off tomorrow 22 August on the same timeline. I heard differing date and went with what NASA published. For one reason or another today is not the day. I would imagine it would be too much with the spacewalk going on.

Parabolic Flight #72

The perception portion seems quite interesting. Free floating and no visual references relative to distance, oh yeah it’s easy to see how to see this is relevant to humankind’s future in space.

ESA: Engineers, pilots, researchers and scientists convened in Bordeaux, France, for ESA’s 71st parabolic flight campaign. Over the course of three days they flew on a specially-fitted commercial aircraft, testing equipment and running research as the pilots put the plane through repeated parabolas, giving the passengers and their experiments brief bouts of microgravity.

ESA’s project coordinator Neil Melville introduces the experiments that flew on this campaign, from plasma to granular physics and heat pipes.

Parabolic flights are one of many platforms ESA offers for European researchers to run experiments for spaceflight. These flights are one of the few that allow the researchers to interact with their own experiments “hands-on” in a weightless environment. Send a proposal through our continuously open research announcements and you could be flying on the next campaign.

Testing Webb’s Mirror

The testing continues for the James Webb Space Telescope. Everything has to be be perfect before the telescope is loaded onto the Ariane V for flight. Lots more to be done before that happens, but it is looking like a telescope now.

ESA: The secondary mirror – visible in the top right corner of the image – is among the most important pieces of equipment on the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and is essential to the success of the mission.

Folded together with the other observatory components during launch, the secondary mirror will be deployed as part of an intricate choreography that will bring the observatory to life once in space. When deployed, like in this view, it faces Webb’s iconic honeycomb-like pattern of 18 hexagonal, gold-coated primary mirror segments. This primary mirror structure is seen in the lower left of the image in its folded configuration, showing only 12 segments.

Once the observatory is in space, light from distant stars and galaxies will first reach its primary mirror, which reflect it into a focused beam towards the secondary mirror. From there, the beam is then sent through the ‘hole’ in the primary mirror structure into the tertiary and fine steering mirrors, and eventually to the four scientific instruments, which sit behind the primary mirror in this view.

Technicians and engineers recently tested a key part of the telescope unfolding choreography by successfully commanding Webb to deploy the support structure that holds its secondary mirror in place. This is a critical milestone in preparing the observatory for its journey to orbit, as the proper deployment and positioning of the telescope’s secondary mirror is critical to perform the mission’s revolutionary science.

This successful test also provided another demonstration that the electronic connection between the spacecraft and the telescope is working properly, and is capable of delivering commands throughout the observatory as designed.

Next on the list of key mission milestones is the integration of the James Webb Space Telescope’s two halves – the telescope element, which comprises the mirrors and science instruments, and the spacecraft and sunshield element – into its final form as a complete observatory.

Currently at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems in Redondo Beach, California, Webb is scheduled for launch on a European Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana in March 2021.

The James Webb Space Telescope is an international project led by NASA with its partners, ESA and the Canadian Space Agency. As part of its contribution to the project, ESA provides the NIRSpec instrument, the Optical Bench Assembly of the MIRI instrument, the Ariane 5 launcher, and staff to support mission operations at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, USA.

Credit: ESA/NASA/C. Gunn

Hubble’s Look at NGC 2022

This is how own star, the Sun, will end up in the far-far future (from our perspective). Billions of years from now our sun will become a planetary nebula.

Thanks to ESA/Hubble & NASA, R. Wade for the image.

ESA: Although it looks more like an entity seen through a microscope than a telescope, this rounded object, named NGC 2022, is certainly not algae or tiny, blobby jellyfish. Instead, it is a vast orb of gas in space, cast off by an aging star. The star is visible in the orb’s center, shining through the gases it formerly held onto for most of its stellar life. 

When stars like the Sun grow advanced in age, they expand and glow red. These so-called red giants then begin to lose their outer layers of material into space. More than half of such a star’s mass can be shed in this manner, forming a shell of surrounding gas. At the same time, the star’s core shrinks and grows hotter, emitting ultraviolet light that causes the expelled gases to glow. 

This type of object is called, somewhat confusingly, a planetary nebula, though it has nothing to do with planets. The name derives from the rounded, planet-like appearance of these objects in early telescopes.

NGC 2022 is located in the constellation of Orion (the Hunter).

Moving on Mars

The 2021 landing on Mars for the ExoMars 2020 mission is getting closer every day. Once we get there how are we going to move about? Here are some of the challenges of deployment and use of the rover.

A Dragon Launch

But not SpaceX

Launch Vehicle: Smart Dragon 1

Mission: Satellite launch (x3)

Spaceport: Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center

Spaceport location: Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center