Search results for: soyuz

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Meet Dream Chaser, America’s Next Space Shuttle

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Dream ChaserAs you probably know, President Obama announced his decision to end NASA’s space shuttle program Constellation back in 2010. Since then, the US has been paying to transport astronauts to the ISS aboard Russian Soyuz capsules. NASA designed the four-person Space Launch System, a heavy launch vehicle, to replace the retired shuttles. So I’ve just been waiting patiently for that to come to fruition, somehow unaware of the Dream Chaser spacecraft, a commercial spaceflight transport system that will be able to take a crew of seven astronauts to the ISS, despite being about 1/3rd the size of a conventional shuttle.

The Dream Chaser will ride aboard an Atlas 5 rocket, which will propel the craft into low Earth orbit, potentially ferrying astronauts to the ISS. Service—or some kind of crewed mission—is expected to begin in 2017, with the first orbital crewless flight in late 2016. Dream Chaser’s first unmanned flight occurred in 2013, when it flew successfully but crashed due to a malfunction in its landing gear. Actually, the vehicle flipped over at the very end, coming to rest in an upright position, after which the malfunctioning left landing gear deployed. I like a spacecraft with a sense of humor. Despite the rocky ending, the flight was regarded as an overall success.

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Monkey Business: Iran Sends Primate Into Space

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Iran monkeyIran made the news today, but thankfully not for their nuclear program or economic sanctions. Today Middle Eastern nation announced that it successfully launched a monkey into space for the second time, and that the monkey has returned home safe and sound. Phew. I’d hate to think of that monkey trying to fly a Soyuz capsule.

According to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), Iran launched Fargam, a monkey named for the Farsi word for “auspicious,” into space to celebrate the country’s Research Week. Fargam took a 75-mile ride into space and came back within 15 minutes. And he didn’t have to pay $250,000 for a seat.

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ISS Astronauts Will Take The Olympic Torch Out For A Spacewalk This Weekend

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iss olympic torchIt’s not as if I spend every minute of my day hating on the Olympic torch for getting to live a life I could only dream of, just most of them. It travels all over the world getting handled by awesome people, and sets fire without having to worry about getting hurt in the process. And now the torch is on board the International Space Station, and will take a trip out into space this weekend. Lucky bastard. I’m green, and it’s either raging envy, or that infection has spread.

The torch was taken up to the ISS aboard a Soyuz rocket, along with the crew for Expedition 38—American Rick Mastracchio, Russian Mikhail Tyurin, and Japan’s Koichi Wakata—the trio that will spend the next six months orbiting the Earth. It’s current ISS cosmonaut inhabitants Oleg Kotov and Sergei Ryazansky, however, who will be in the spotlight when they take the torch out for a spacewalk on Saturday. While this isn’t the flaming wand’s first trip into space, it will be the first time it has been taken out of the spacecraft.

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Orbital Science’s Cygnus Spacecraft Docks With The ISS

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CygnusThis morning, Orbital Sciences became the second commercial space company to dock a ship to the International Space Station (SpaceX was the first).

On September 18th, Orbital’s Antares rocket launched the spacecraft Cygnus from the Virginia Wallops Flight Facility. Cygnus attempted a first docking on September 22nd, but a software glitch involving the format of the GPS data from the ISS caused the week-long delay — apparently Cygnus’s GPS format was older than the Japanese PROX system in use on the ISS. For the past week, Cygnus has been hanging out about 2.5 miles from the station, waiting for its orbit to realign with that of the ISS, and waiting for a Russian Soyuz spacecraft to arrive at the station. The ISS’s air traffic controllers apparently aren’t used to jockeying multiple spacecraft at once.

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Astronaut Chris Hadfield Sings Space Oddity Before Returning Home From The ISS

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If you’re a regular GFR reader, the name Chris Hadfield probably rings a bell or two. During the Canadian astronaut’s five-month mission as the commander of the International Space Station, he’s become a social media sensation thanks to his videos, pictures, and even songs he’s shared with those of us down here on planet Earth. He’s answered questions we didn’t even know we had. What happens if you wring out a washcloth in microgravity? Been there. Can you cry in space? He doesn’t recommend it. Nachos, however, are a-okay.

Well, it’s the end of an era, because earlier this evening Hadfield boarded a Russian Soyuz capsule and began his trip back to the surface, along with American astronaut Tom Marshburn and Russian Roman Romanenko. They’re set to touch down in the steppes of Kazakhstan later tonight. But Hadfield had one last treat for us, seen up above: a cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”…from space!

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Express Flight To International Space Station Takes One-Eighth Of The Time

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The International Space Station

I’m not much of a travel person — and my status as a stay-at-home writer on a science blog does nothing to prove this — but I’d easily drive for two straight days if the International Space Station was my end destination. However, I would probably just run into water if I did that, since my car doesn’t go up. At least, not if I want to still qualify for the warranty.

But a two-day trip to the ISS might be a thing of the past, as the second half of the crew from Expedition 35 took a trip via the Russian Soyuz TMA-08M spacecraft and docked with the ISS last night around 10:28 p.m. EDT. But here’s the amazing part: the shuttle only took off from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome at 4:43 EDT, cutting the trip down to under six hours of travel and just four orbits of Earth, rather than over 50 hours and 30 orbits, as was typical. All it took were some “intricate ballistics maneuvers” to zip their way through space. And if the pizza wasn’t warm by the time they got there, ISS Commander Chris Hadfield didn’t have to pay full price.

Hadfield, NASA’s Tom Marshburn, and Roscosmos’ Roman Romanenko will be joined by Russian cosmonauts Pavel Viogradov and Alexander Misurkin, as well as NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy for the next three months doing “experiments in human research, physical and biological sciences, technology development, Earth observation and education.” The three former astronauts will then head back to Earth to make way for a new half-crew.

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