The Source for Space History and Artifacts
Shenzhou 11 stamps
: China's Shenzhou 11 mission to the Tiangong-2 space lab is still in orbit, but its crew has already landed on new stamps and covers. Taikonauts Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong feature on the new postage offered by the China National Philatelic Corporation, which also include stamps depicting the Shenzhou 11 patch.
: An image captured by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter of the site where ESA's Schiaparelli probe crashed shows it may have also exploded on impact. The photo, released by ESA on Friday (Oct. 21), reveals two new features on Mars: one associated with the lander's parachute and the other where Schiaparelli hit the Red Planet after its retrorockets cut off prematurely.
ExoMars orbits, but lander may be lost
: At some point between its entry into the Martian atmosphere and when it was to touch down, the Schiaparelli lander stopped transmitting. The ESA probe's traveling companion for the prior seven months, the ExoMars 2016 Trace Gas Orbiter successfully rounded the Red Planet, but Schiaparelli went missing. TGO will map the methane in Mars' atmosphere in search of signs of life, while also relaying communications.
MS-02 with three for 50
: After a month-long delay, the Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft launched Wednesday (Oct. 19) with a NASA astronaut and two Roscosmos cosmonauts on a 2-day trip to the International Space Station. Shane Kimbrough, Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrei Borisenko will join the Expedition 49 crew for a week before becoming the first members of the orbiting laboratory's 50th expedition.
'Federatsiya' first flight
: The Soyuz MS-02 crew, who are set to launch Wednesday (Oct 19) to the space station, will know they have reached orbit when Russia's next-generation spacecraft begins to float above their heads. The crew's zero-g indicator is a toy version of 'Federatsiya,' Russia's planned counterpart to the Orion crew exploration vehicle being developed by NASA. The first flight of the full-size Federatsiya transport spaceship is slated for 2023.
Return to flight
: The "S.S. Alan Poindexter," Orbital ATK's Cygnus cargo craft named for the late astronaut, lifted off Monday (Oct. 17) on the company's redesigned Antares rocket bound for the space station. The launch from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia marked the return to flight for the Antares after two years of work to refit it with new RD-181 engines. The Cygnus is packed with 5,400 lbs of crew supplies, hardware and research equipment.
Two taikonauts to Tiangong-2
: China's first and only crewed mission to its second space lab got underway on Sunday (Oct 16) as two Chinese taikonauts launched for Tiangong-2. Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong took off on the Shenzhou 11 spacecraft atop a Long March 2F rocket for a 30-day stay on the lab conducting science experiments and testing systems for China's larger, modular space station.
Ask the Astronaut
: What would you ask an astronaut if given the chance? Chances are, your question is in "Ask the Astronaut," Tom Jones' latest title. Inspired by previous space primers, Jones compiled his collection of 400 Q&As with a focus on the next chapter of spaceflight. From commercial spacecraft to Mars, the four-time space shuttle flier writes about life in space, now and in the near future.
: A private search is now on to find Germany's first female astronaut to fly to space. "Die Astronautin," organized by HE Space, has identified 86 candidates who will undergo tests by the German space agency for a potential, privately-funded mission to the International Space Station by 2020. The campaign's candidates include professional pilots, scientists and aerospace engineers.
: NASA's first survey of the effects of Hurricane Matthew to Kennedy Space Center found relatively minor damage to the Florida spaceport. The storm however, did leave several of the center's artifacts and historic facilities in need of repair, including a vertical rocket display, a shuttle gantry arm and an astronaut hangout.
The Last Steps
: It has been nearly 44 years since astronauts have traveled beyond Earth orbit. "The Last Steps," a documentary short debuting Saturday (Oct. 8) at the Hamptons International Film Festival in New York, gives audiences a cinéma vérité experience of Apollo 17, the last trip to the moon in December 1972. The movie, from CNN Films and Great Big Story, is comprised entirely of archival footage, some of it rarely seen outside of NASA archives.
New Shepard escape
: Blue Origin landed a successful in-flight abort test on Wednesday (Oct. 5), demonstrating that its crew capsule could escape in an emergency during launch if needed. The test was expected to result in the loss of the company's New Shepard booster, which had made history in 2015 as the first rocket to reach space and then land vertically. But it also escaped, safely landing near where it launched and so is now bound for a museum.
: What do a well-watched copy of "The Right Stuff," an Astronaut Snoopy toy, a home plate from Shea Stadium and a broken off handrail from the Hubble Telescope have in common? All are central to the stories told by Mike Massimino in "Spaceman: An Astronaut's Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe," his memoir released Tuesday (Oct. 4). As Massimino discovered while writing, "it's kind of like [launching on] another mission."
Golden Record reissue
: The soundtrack to planet Earth, circa 1977, is being re-released on vinyl on its 40th anniversary. A Kickstarter campaign is offering a limited edition box set based on the gold-plated phonograph record launched on NASA's Voyager 1 and 2 to introduce Earth to any extraterrestrials who might encounter the probes in the future. The crowdfunding campaign, which ends Oct. 20, is selling the Voyager Golden Record for $98 per box set.
End of mission
: After a 10-year trip through space and two years orbiting a comet, ESA's Rosetta spacecraft ended its historic mission Friday (Sep. 30) making a controlled descent to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The first orbiter to rendezvous with a comet and first to deploy a lander, Philae, to the surface, Rosetta sent back data about the composition and evolution of the small, dusty-icy body.
: Building 5 at Johnson Space Center housed the simulators used to train Gemini, Apollo, and shuttle crews. Now, Boeing has installed its first Starliner trainers in the historic facility. The simulators are able to replicate the controls of the commercial crew spacecraft using advanced, configurable touch-screen displays.
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