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Amazing noctilucent clouds and comet NEOWISE photographed by Barry Burgess, last night in Northport, Nova Scotia.
 

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Discussion Starter · #264 ·
China prepares to launch for Mars...

Long March 5 rolled out for July 23 launch of China’s Tianwen-1 Mars mission



China is preparing to launch its Tianwen-1 Mars orbiter and rover next week with the rollout of the mission’s Long March 5 launch vehicle.

The roughly 878-metric-ton heavy-lift Long March 5 was vertically transferred to its launch area at the coastal Wenchang Satellite Launch Center late Thursday Eastern.

The rollout indicates that China will launch Tianwen-1, the country’s first independent interplanetary mission, next week.

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If successful the spacecraft will arrive at Mars in February 2021. The rover, inside an entry vehicle atop the orbiter, will remain attached to the orbiter in Mars orbit for 2-3 months before the landing attempt,

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The Tianwen-1 orbiter carries seven science payloads. It is equipped with a high-resolution camera comparable to HiRise on board NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. It also carries a medium-resolution camera, subsurface radar, mineralogy spectrometer, neutral and energetic particle analyzers and a magnetometer. The orbiter, designed to operate for one Mars year, or 687 Earth days, will also play a relay role for the mission rover.

The roughly 240-kilogram solar-powered rover is nearly twice the mass of China’s ‘Yutu’ lunar rovers. It will carry a ground-penetrating radar, multispectral camera and a Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy instrument. Other payloads will analyze the climate and magnetic environment. The rover will attempt to land in a southern section of Utopia Planitia where it is designed to operate for 90 Mars days.

 

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Discussion Starter · #265 ·
It's on its way!

China's Tianwen-1 Mars rover rockets away from Earth

China has launched its first rover mission to Mars.

The six-wheeled robot, encapsulated in a protective probe, was lifted off Earth by a Long March 5 rocket from the Wenchang spaceport on Hainan Island at 12:40 local time (04:40 GMT).

It should arrive in orbit around the Red Planet in February.

Called Tianwen-1, or "Questions to Heaven", the rover won't actually try to land on the surface for a further two to three months.

This wait-and-see strategy was used successfully by the American Viking landers in the 1970s. It will allow engineers to assess the atmospheric conditions on Mars before attempting what will be a hazardous descent.

Tianwen-1 is one of three missions setting off to Mars in the space of 11 days.

On Monday, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) launched its Hope satellite towards the Red Planet. And in a week from now, the US space agency (Nasa) aims to despatch its next-generation rover, Perseverance.

(BBC)​
 

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Discussion Starter · #267 ·
An interesting article on the Soviet Mars mission - I hadn't realized they made the first soft landing on Mars... and the first image transmitted from the surface (if you can call a screenful of static an "image"). Also interesting the attempts by NASA and others to find the probe in later Mars observation missions....

The Soviet Mars Shot That Almost Everyone Forgot
 

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Discussion Starter · #268 ·
Bob & Doug are back from their first-ever crewed SpaceX Mission to the ISS, 2 months after their launch atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral:




NASA's recap of the mission:

[ame]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3NZyKF2jcs[/ame]
 

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Discussion Starter · #269 ·
SpaceX's 1st upgraded Dragon cargo ship docks itself at space station with science, goodies and new airlock



A SpaceX Dragon cargo ship arrived at the International Space Station today (Dec. 7) to deliver vital supplies for NASA and try something brand-new: park itself without the help of astronauts.

The private spaceflight company used a Falcon 9 rocket to launch CRS-21, the first flight to use the upgraded version of its Dragon cargo spacecraft, to the space station Sunday (Dec. 6) from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The vehicle autonomously docked with the orbiting laboratory today at 1:40 p.m. EST (1840 GMT), parking at the zenith, or space-facing, side of the station's Harmony module.

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The arrival of the upgraded Dragon CRS-21 cargo spacecraft also marks the first time that two SpaceX Dragons have been docked with the International Space Station. A Crew Dragon spacecraft, which brought four astronauts to the space station in November on the Crew-1 mission, is also currently docked at the Harmony module.

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SpaceX has redesigned its workhorse Dragon cargo spacecraft not only to dock autonomously with the International Space Station, but also to have about 20% more cargo capacity and the ability to support more science experiments with additional powered lockers inside.

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.... the cargo Dragon will remain docked with the space station for about 35 days, which means it is scheduled to return to Earth sometime around Jan. 10.

The Crew Dragon currently docked with the station is expected to return to Earth in May. The next upgraded cargo Dragon, CRS-22, is expected to launch to the station in May as well.

 

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Discussion Starter · #270 ·
Man, what a week for space news....

First China landed its craft on the moon, drilled down and packaged material for return to earth. The lander launched again, docked with the orbiter, transferred the sample container, the orbiter jettisoned the docking port and the ascent module[/URL] (all automatically) and remained in orbit until it was time to fire thrusters and head back to earth. China's sample-return mission is scheduled to be completed in the coming week, when the capsule lands on earth with - hopefully - moon material intact! (Follow Andrew Jones coverage on Twitter - amazing video of all stages of the mission).

Meanwhile, the Japan Space Agency's sample return mission from asteroid HAYABUSA landed in the Woomera Prohibited Region of Australia, an incredibly technically challenging feat from beginning to end. (Twitter)

And today.... whooooo boy! SpaceX put on a show that delivered on the nerdgasms.

Starship SN8 test flight - scheduled for yesterday - was aborted by the flight computer at about T-0.01. That was frustrating for the folks who sat on a livestream for ELEVEN hours waiting for the test to start (for there record: I was not one of them. I did check in from time to time, though).

With the abort, the launch window shifted to today - Dec 9th - and ran pretty much for the entirety of daylight hours. After a false start that cause a countdown pause at T-2.09, SpaceX announced a scheduled liftoff time (very nice of them, giving folks a chance for a bathroom break).

Tuning in at 5:40pm EST, this is what viewers saw — an AMAZINGLY successful test flight. Just jaw-dropping....

[ame]https://youtu.be/ap-BkkrRg-o?t=6477[/ame]
 

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Discussion Starter · #271 · (Edited)
I have no way of determining if this is true, but... a Twitter user posted the image below. If accurate - that's some seriously cool coincidence...


Ciro J Grijalva @CiroJGrijalva

Quite fitting to have Mars photobomb SN8 in this shot
10:09 PM · Dec 9, 2020·​




And another amazing angle on the bellyflop-flip-burn from SpaceX - it takes a few seconds to load, and doesn't look like it's playing, but give it time. The video looks like an animation with the high-contrast...




There's an aspect of SpaceX's development that doesn't get the attention it deserves - and that's their investment and commitment to providing absolutely amazing visuals. Watch their satellite launches and compare with anyone else out there. BlueOrigin, RocketLab, etc. Amazing tracking, high-quality streams... and the coverage on the SN8 test was fabulous. It's a smart move - expensive, sure, but providing those kinds of visuals feeds a demand for enthusiasts, who now expect other ventures into spaceflight to give as much attention to the PR side of the business.
 

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Discussion Starter · #272 ·
China moon probe begins journey back to Earth



A Chinese spacecraft carrying rocks and soil from the moon has begun its journey back to Earth, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Sunday, putting China on course to become the first country to successfully retrieve lunar samples since the 1970s.

Engines on the Chang’e-5 probe were ignited 230 km (143 miles) from the lunar surface early on Sunday, Beijing time, before being shut down after 22 minutes with the craft on a trajectory towards Earth....

A successful landing in Inner Mongolia would make China only the third country to have retrieved lunar samples after the United States and the Soviet Union. The plan was to collect 2 kg (4.4 lbs) of samples, although it has not been disclosed how much was actually gathered.


 

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Discussion Starter · #273 ·
Japan Has Opened Hayabusa2’s Capsule, Confirming It Contains Samples From Asteroid Ryugu



The Japanese space agency (JAXA) says it has begun opening the capsule returned to Earth by its historic Hayabusa2 mission – and has confirmed asteroid samples are inside.

Today, Monday, December 14, the capsule was opened for the first time since it touched down in the Australian outback on December 6 following its journey through space.

On board, scientists were hoping to find pieces of asteroid Ryugu, collected millions of kilometers from Earth – and now JAXA has confirmed the mission was successful.

“A black granular sample believed to be derived from the asteroid Ryugu was confirmed inside the sample container,” JAXA said in a short statement.

“This is thought to be the particles attached to the entrance of the sample catcher (the container in which the sample is stored).”

The entire capsule itself has yet to be opened, meaning there are likely more samples of the asteroid waiting inside.

(Forbes)​
 

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Discussion Starter · #275 ·
CHINA JUST BROUGHT THE FIRST MOON ROCKS BACK TO EARTH SINCE 1976



China’s Chang’e-5 mission has officially returned with the first new samples collected from the Moon’s surface in almost half a century.

The spacecraft touched down in the Siziwang district of Inner Mongolia around 1pm Eastern time, and search teams have likely already found it.

Thermal camera footage shown by state media TV network CCTV appears to show the capsule sitting in an otherwise barren landscape.

It’s a historic moment, and an extraordinary testament to China’s space ambitions. The last time humanity returned samples from the Moon was in 1976, when the Soviet Union’s robotic Luna 24 spacecraft brought back about six ounces of lunar samples on board.



MORE COVERAGE:

  • China recovers Chang’e-5 moon samples after complex 23-day mission (SpaceNews)
  • Chinese sample return capsule lands on Earth after round-trip flight to moon (SpaceFlightNow)
 

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Are you sure that's the correct URL???

Nothing there really works for me.



- Patrick
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The URL works for me and I can't find any options for an alternate URL. Perhaps you are using one of the ad blocker? The videos seem to not run if there are ad blockers implemented.
 

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The URL works for me and I can't find any options for an alternate URL. Perhaps you are using one of the ad blocker? The videos seem to not run if there are ad blockers implemented.

Thanks Rod,

I should have double checked the URL with a different browser. It works with Firefox, so I guess I must have something blocking something in my Google Chrome.



- Patrick
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Discussion Starter · #280 ·
And in one fell swoop, Elon Musk becomes a hero of the "Drill, Baby, Drill!" crowd....

Elon Musk Plans to Use Texas Natural Gas for His Starships

Elon Musk became the richest man in the world thanks to enthusiasm for Tesla Inc.’s sleek electric cars -- and the company’s stratospheric stock price. But while Musk is perhaps the most well known clean energy CEO, SpaceX, his other company, is likely to rely on drilling for natural gas to power Starship, the new spacecraft and rocket designed to carry humans to the moon, Mars and beyond.

Musk’s SpaceX aims to use a site in South Texas to launch rockets to carry people and cargo to the moon and Mars. To do that, the company intends to drill gas wells to make its own fuel and electricity, according a Federal Aviation Administration document seen by Bloomberg.

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The SpaceX site in Texas will be supplied by at least five nearby gas wells, along with two gas-fired power plants, according to the FAA document. Purified gas from the wells will be pumped into refrigeration equipment that turns it into liquid methane, the document shows. The methane can be combined with liquid oxygen and other compounds to make rocket fuel.



....and while you're here, SpaceX is launching it's "Starship" test vehicle - SN9 - possibly on Monday (delayed from Friday). And once it blows u---.... I mean, "lands".... SN10 is sitting right beside it on the pad, ready for it's test flight. YouTube has a few good channels covering it, including the 24/7 live feed from NASA SpaceFlight Now

Scroll back in this thread to see the SN8 frakkin' amazing test flight, when the Starship launched, hovered, cut its engines, belly-flopped, flipped upright, and then.... experienced a RUD* (missed it by thatmuch)

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*RUD = Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly


Right now, at SpaceX's Boca Chica facillity, you have this pretty awesome sight:




Satirical Twitter account NominalNews has a preview of what we can expect from SpaceX in the not-too-distant future...

 
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