ESA to Supply ATV for Use as Orion Service Module

ATV / Orion
European Space Agency ATV as Orion Service Module
Image Credit:

The European Space Agency (ESA) has reached an agreement with NASA to build a Service Module for the Orion spacecraft based on their Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), which has been a workhorse in the resupply of the International Space Station (ISS) since 2008.

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The Science, Space, and Technology Committee in the 113th Congress

Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) has split the Energy and Environment subcommittee into two separate subcommittees, resulting in six subcommittees in the new session.

The Space and Aeronautics subcommittee will continue to be chaired by Rep. Steve Palazzo (R-MS). The complete list of assignments is listed below.

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) was reelected as the top Democrat (“Ranking Member”) on the full committee in December. Democratic subcommittee assignments have not been announced yet.

Full Committee

Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas)

Vice-Chairman Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.)

Chairman Emeritus Ralph Hall (R-Texas)

Subcommittee on Energy

Chairwoman Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.)

Vice-Chairman Randy Weber (R-Texas)

Subcommittee on Environment

Chairman Andy Harris (R-Md.)

Vice-Chairman Chris Stewart (R-Utah)

Subcommittee on Research

Chairman Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.)

Vice-Chairman Steve Stockman (R-Texas)

Subcommittee on Space

Chairman Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.)

Vice-Chairman Mo Brooks (R-Ala.)

Subcommittee on Technology

Chairman Thomas Massie (R-Ky.)

Vice-Chairman Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.)

Subcommittee on Oversight

Chairman Paul Broun (R-Ga.)

Vice-Chairman Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.)

Sol 150 – Curiosity uses Brush Tool

Curiosity Brush
Curiosity Brush Use Cleans Rock Surface on Mars
Image Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS

On Sol 150, the Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity) used its Dust Removal Tool (DRT) to clean the surface of the rock target called “Ekwir_1.”

The image was captured by Curiosity’s Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI).

The DRT is a motorized wire-bristle brush on the turret at the end of the rover’s arm.

Soyuz 4 and 5 – Drama in the Early Soviet Space Program.

Soyuz 4,5 Crew
Crew of Soyuz 4 and 5: Alexei Yeliseyev, Yevgeni Khrunov, Vladimir Shatalov, and Boris Volynov
Image Credit: Joachim Becker / SpaceFacts.de

Ben Evans at AmericaSpace has a great two part series on the early Soyuz 4 and Soyuz 5 docking and crew transfer mission.

Part One describes the events leading up to the dual flight. Early unmanned trials of the new Soyuz capsule had parachute problems. Docking experiments were conducted under the disguise of the Cosmos 186 and 188. They achieved only a soft dock, and Cosmos 186 suffered a steep reentry and hard landing, while Cosmos 188 suffered a ballistic reentry and was ordered to self destruct. Cosmos 212 and 213 succeeded with a hard docking, clearing the way for a manned rendezvous mission. Parachute problems persisted, however, and Vladimir Komarov was killed on Soyuz 1 when both the main chute and backup failed. Additional problems with spacesuits too big to fit through the exit/entry hatches used for the two crew transfer were resolved with news suits and a larger hatch design. Eventually, the mission got underway with with the launch of Vladimir Shatalov on 14 January 1969 at 10:30 AM Moscow time. Soyuz 5 was launched at 10:04 AM on 15 January with Boris Volynov, Alexei Yeliseyev and Yevgeni Khrunov.

Part Two details the docking, exchange of crew members along with the trials of spacewalks by Khrunov and Yeliseyev, and return. The morning after docking and transfer, Shatalov, Yeliseyev, and Khrunov “descended through a wintry blizzard and thumped onto the snowy Kazakh steppe at 9:53 AM”. Volynov began his descent in Soyuz 5 the following day. It was a harrowing journey, and it would be three decades before the West learned any of the details. Volynov had just four words for the recovery team: “Is my hair gray?”

Paul Damphousse, NSS Executive Director, on The Space Show

This Sunday, January 6, 2013, 12-1:30 PM PST (3-4:30 PM EST, 2-3:30 PM CST) Paul Damphousse, Executive Director of NSS, will be interviewed live on The Space Show. Listeners can talk with Lt. Col. Paul Damphouse or the host and express their views using toll free 1 (866) 687-7223, and by sending e-mail during the program using drspace@thespaceshow.com, thespaceshow@gmail.com, dmlivings@yahoo.com. You can also use Skype from your computer with a headset. The I. D. is thespaceshow. Please note that Skype is only available when announced as such at the beginning of each program. Please note the toll free number is only available during a live Space Show program. At all other times, it is disconnected.

Curiosity – Sol 130

By the middle of December, Curiosity had reached the Glenelg region of Gale Crater and descended into the Yellowknife Bay depression. Curiosity is now exploring for the first target rock for it’s hammering drill.

After leaving Bradbury Landing, Curiosity spent extensive time at Rocknest (Sols 55-100), and followed this with investigations around Point Lake (Sols 102-124).

Curiosity Map
Map of Curiosity’s Travels During the first 130 Sols
Image Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / University of Arizona

Golden Spike Company – Grumman to Study Lunar Lander Design

BOULDER, CO. (January 3, 2013) – The Golden Spike Company announced today that it has entered into a contract with Northrop Grumman Corporation for the design of a new lunar lander that fits within Golden Spike’s “head start” commercial lunar architecture.

Northrop Grumman’s participation brings heritage lunar engineering expertise to Golden Spike. Northrop Grumman is a major aerospace and defense contractor. Its legacy companies — Grumman and TRW — designed and built the Lunar Module and Lunar Module Descent Engines for the Apollo moon landing missions that between 1969 and 1972 ferried a crew of two astronauts from lunar orbit to the lunar surface and back again six times.

Golden Spike debuted last month as the first commercial aerospace company planning to offer routine exploration expeditions to the surface of the Moon by the end of the decade. The company aims to use existing rockets and emerging commercial-crew spacecraft to allow nations, individuals and corporations to mount their own lunar expeditions. The lander is the only significant hardware that needs to be designed from the ground up.

“This is a significant step forward in our plans,” said Golden Spike’s Board Chairman, Gerry Griffin. “Northrop Grumman brings Golden Spike a unique body of knowledge and skills as the only company to ever build a successful human-rated lunar lander, the Apollo Lunar Module.”

Dr. S. Alan Stern, Golden Spike’s President and CEO, added: “We’re very proud to be working with Northrop Grumman, which has the most experience and successful performance record for human lunar lander designs in the world.”

Among the tasks Northrop Grumman will perform for Golden Spike are:

  • Reviewing requirements and synthesizing a set of study ground rules and assumptions emphasizing system reliability, automated/ground command operability, and affordability
  • Establishing velocity (Δv) budgets from and to low lunar orbit for pragmatic lunar landing sites
  • Exploring a wide variety of Lunar Lander concept options, including staging, propellants, engines, reusability, autonomy, systems capabilities for exploration, as well as landing site flexibility
  • Establishing the design trade space and establish pragmatic limits for future more detailed analysis and development

“This study is one of a number of initial studies we’re undertaking to begin creating the design requirements and specs for the lander contract competition we expect to hold to select a Golden Spike lander for flight development,” said Golden Spike’s Lunar Lander Systems Study (LLaSS) engineering chief, James R. French.

Golden Spike predicts its customers will want to explore the Moon for varying reasons—scientific exploration and discovery, national prestige, commercial development, marketing, entertainment, and even personal achievement. Market studies by the company show the possibility of 15-25 or more expeditions in the decade following a first landing.