Spacecraft Mission News (English, German) – 01.03.18


Front Page / Titelseite

A veteran Cosmonaut and two NASA Astronauts parachuted into the sunrise on Wednesday aboard their Soyuz MS-06 spacecraft after a half-year mission to the International Space Station, touching down on the snow-covered steppe of Kazakhstan after circling the Earth 2,688 times and covering 114.5…
Expedition 54 Commander Alexander Misurkin handed over control of the orbital laboratory today to fellow cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov during a traditional Change of Command ceremony. Misurkin is returning to Earth tomorrow with NASA astronauts Joe Acaba and Mark Vande Hei after 168 days in space.
NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba and Commander Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos undocked from the International Space Station at 6:08 p.m. EST to begin their voyage home to Earth.
At 2:58 p.m. EST, the hatch closed between the Soyuz MS-06 spacecraft and the International Space Station in preparation for undocking. Expedition 54 crewmates Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba of NASA and Commander Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos are scheduled to undock their Soyuz at 6:08 p.m. NASA…
Three members of the Expedition 54 crew aboard the International Space Station (ISS), including NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba, have returned to Earth after months of performing research and spacewalks in low-Earth orbit.
The Soyuz MS-06 spacecraft with a Russian-American crew trio on board parachuted to a safe rocket-cushioned landing on the snow-covered steppe of Kazakhstan on February 28, 2018 after a 114.5-million-Kilometer mission circling the Earth 2,688 times over 168 days. Returning aboard Soyuz MS-06 was…
The Soyuz MS-06 spacecraft with a Russian-American crew trio on board parachuted to a safe rocket-cushioned landing on the snow-covered steppe of Kazakhstan on February 28, 2018 after a 114.5-million-Kilometer mission circling the Earth 2,688 times over 168 days. Returning aboard Soyuz MS-06 was…
The Ariane 5 rocket that deviated from its expected flight path Jan. 25 and lost contact with ground control was fed the wrong coordinates, according to the independent commission Arianespace tasked last month to find out what caused the close call.
The iconic Great Red Spot of Jupiter — larger than Earth itself — may disappear in the next 20 years.
SpaceX launched two experimental satellites today (Feb. 22) designed to help lay the foundation for Starlink, a network that will consist of thousands of spacecraft providing broadband internet service to people around the world.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with a pre-flown first stage successfully delivered to orbit today (Feb. 22) the first two prototypes for the company’s huge satellite-internet constellation, along with a Spanish Earth-observing spacecraft.
The net-equipped boat came up a bit short in its quest to pluck a falling payload fairing — the protective nose cone that surrounds satellites during launch — out of the sky today (Feb. 22), SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket provided a spectacular show to morning commuters across Southern California on Thursday after taking off from Vandenberg Air Force Base with Spain’s PAZ radar satellite and a pair of SpaceX prototype broadband satellites. Falcon 9 streaked into the morning sun as it…
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched the Spanish Paz radar imaging satellite into orbit on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018, along with two prototype internet service satellites. See amazing photos of the mission in this slideshow.
A Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Vandenberg’s SLC-4E at 14:17 UTC on February 22, 2018 with the Spanish PAZ Radar Observation Satellite and a pair of SpaceX prototype satellites for the company’s Starlink broadband constellation. Re-flying Booster 1038, Falcon 9 climbed into sunlight shortly…
A Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Vandenberg’s SLC-4E at 14:17 UTC on February 22, 2018 with the Spanish PAZ Radar Observation Satellite and a pair of SpaceX prototype satellites for the company’s Starlink broadband constellation. Re-flying Booster 1038, Falcon 9 climbed into sunlight shortly…
NASA’s vision for lunar exploration includes landing astronauts, from NASA and partners, on the moon by the late 2020s, the agency’s leader said Feb. 20.

International Spacestation (ISS) /

Internationale Raumstation

Three Expedition 54 crew members continued preparing for their return to Earth next week. A pair of astronauts also opened up BEAM today to stow a robotic hand and to check for contaminants.
As one crew is packing up for its return back to Earth another crew is training for its launch to the International Space Station. During the month long crew swap activities, human research is still ongoing aboard the orbital laboratory today.
Three Expedition 54 crew members are going into the weekend packing up and preparing to return to Earth on Tuesday. Commander Alexander Misurkin will lead fellow crew members Joe Acaba and Mark Vande Hei back to Earth inside the Soyuz MS-06 spacecraft Tuesday for a landing in south central…

Earth / Erde

Europa schlottert vor einer Kaltfront, die aus Sibirien hereingebrochen ist, und frostige Temperaturen über den Kontinent bringt. Dieses Bild zeigt die Alpenregion mit ihren schneebedeckten Gipfeln, wo insbesondere die Ski-Gebiete betroffen sind. Wintersportler können sich auf Temperature…
Europe shivers as a cold front sweeps in from Siberia, Russia, bringing freezing temperatures to the continent. This chilly snap is being dubbed as the Beast from the East.The frigid grip is casting its icy spell on the Alps, one of Europe’s main ski destinations. Skiing lovers are coming…

Solar System / Sonnensystem

Could Methane on Saturn’s Moon Enceladus Be a Sign of Life?
Some hardy Earth microbes could likely survive in the Saturn moon Enceladus‘ buried ocean, gobbling up hydrogen produced by interactions between seawater and rock, a new study suggests.
Scientists used a giant, rotating pot to simulate the atmosphere of Saturn, and they may have figured out how the gas giant’s massive polar storms take shape.
The moon’s water may be spread across its surface more evenly than researchers thought.
New photos by NASA’s Juno spacecraft show Jupiter’s south pole as seen from above during a recent close encounter on Feb. 7, 2018.
Dust is reclaiming the site near the Martian north pole where NASA’s Phoenix lander touched down nearly 10 years ago, a newly released photo suggests.
Mars‘ two moons Phobos and Deimos appear to dance gracefully in a new NASA video, but don’t be fooled by what you see.
Gebremst durch seinen Flug durch den äußersten Rand der oberen Marsatmosphäre ist der ExoMars-Orbiter der ESA in eine nahezu kreisrunde Umlaufbahn abgesunken und kann bald mit dem Aufspüren von Methangas auf dem Roten Planeten beginnen.
The Trace Gas Orbiter — part of the European-led ExoMars exploration program — just wrapped up a nearly yearlong „aerobraking“ campaign, during which it used the drag from Mars‘ atmosphere to lower and circularize its orbit.
ESA’s Trace Gas Orbiter circling Mars since October 2016 this week finished a delicate aero-braking campaign of nearly one year that moved the spacecraft from a highly elliptical orbit into a nearly circular Low Mars Orbit in preparation for a final set of trimming maneuvers and the start of a…
In this edition of Mobile Stargazing, we’ll tell you how to use mobile apps to track Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster, understand its orbit and find out when it might be visible in telescopes on Earth.
This image from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft shows the large craters Urvara (top) and Yalode (bottom) on dwarf planet Ceres. These features are so big that they must be observed from high altitudes in order to fit in the frame of a single image. Urvara is (101 miles (163 kilometers) in diameter, while…

Beyond Solar System / Milchstraße & Kosmos

XMM-Newton view of massive star Rho Ophiuchi A. Credit: ESA/XMM-Newton; I. Pillitteri (INAF–Osservatorio Astronomico di Palermo)

Politics / Politik

„What about privatizing the ISS? That idea is barely worth mentioning. The ISS was designed to operate with two big mission control centers, in Houston and Moscow. They each need standing armies of onsite engineers and technicians around the clock to monitor and send commands to the station….
Keith’s note: NASA is funding a Deep Space Gateway Concept Science Workshop from 27 Feb – 1 March. But it is invitation only. No provision for news media registration. No webcast or webex. What are they hiding?
Cruz, Nelson: Future of ISS Should be Determined by Emergence of a Viable and Proven Commercial Alternative and Needs of Our National Space Program
Vice President Mike Pence and members of the National Space Council approved a series of recommendations Feb. 21 for commercial space regulatory reform.
At the second meeting of the newly reinstated National Space Council, Vice President Mike Pence and other U.S. officials emphasized that the U.S. is on top in space, but highlighted that regulation would need to be streamlined to stay in the lead.

Technology / Technologie

NASA is designing a robot submarine to explore the ultrachilly, hydrocarbon-filled seas on Saturn’s moon Titan. And they’ve been testing the probe with a mock alien ocean in a lab.
Blasting into clear skies over the Tanegashima Space Center, Japan’s H-IIA rocket embarked on a clandestine mission on Tuesday to launch the country’s next sharply-eyed optical reconnaissance craft flying under the Information Gathering Satellite Program. The IGS Optical 6 satellite, reportedly…
A high-speed boat named Mr. Steven is outfitted with giant claws and a net to catch SpaceX gear falling back to Earth after missions.
The Falcon Heavy rocket launched on its maiden voyage on Feb. 6, 2018, and SpaceX plans more missions in the near future.
SpaceX has delayed its weekend launch of a Spanish communications satellite to allow time for extra tests on the mission’s Falcon 9 rocket. A new launch date has not been set.
The RS-25 engines for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket recently performed their most powerful test to date.
Keith’s note: Sources report that Andy Gamble has been allowed to retire and George Mitchell has been reassigned from NASA MSFC QD34 to Engineering. The SLS software team at MSFC is having great difficulty in hiring people to replace those who have quit. There is a lot of internal concern as a…
Until now, if you’re an entrepreneur planning future missions beyond Earth, you’d have to ask a big space agency to borrow their deep-space antennas. Now, thanks to the UK’s county of Cornwall and ESA, you’ll have a commercial option, too.

Science / Wissenschaft

Chasing a stellar flash. (Click here for details and large versions of the video.) Credit: ESA
The activity cycle of the Sun – where the number of sunspots increase and decrease – has been monitored regularly for around 250 years, but the use of space-based telescopes has given us a whole new perspective of our nearest star.On 22 December 2017 the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory…
New data from the Hubble Space Telescope revealed that the universe is expanding faster than expected.
Does Titan’s Hydrocarbon Soup Hold A Recipe For Life? NASA researchers have confirmed the existence in Titan’s atmosphere of vinyl cyanide

History / Geschichte

Apollo 14 was the fourth crewed moon landing and is most famous for being the first and only mission in which an astronaut played golf on the moon. See photos from the adventures of the Apollo 14 crew.
NASA’s last Apollo command module to lift off into space has shed its skin to provide a better look at the first U.S. spacecraft to fly a joint mission with Russia. The craft that flew on the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project has traded its Plexiglas cover for a new glass case.
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