⓱space – SpaceX Explosion Will Set Back U.S. Based Manned Space Flight

The 2011 termination of the Space Shuttle program has left American astronaut crews dependent on Russian rockets to reach the International Space Station (ISS)   With Boeing having it’s own setbacks SpaceX was poised to have its first manned space flight to the ISS in 2017. Now that they’ve lost a second rocket in 13 months those plans are in serious jeopardy .

SpaceX is also the major carrier of the ISS supplies. While they are not in danger the astronauts will have to curtail some planned activities and experiments. SpaceX ambitious 2017 schedule was to triple their previous year’s launch numbers.

This accident was not related to the rocket function but rather a launch pad isue. Early speculation leads to static electricity during refueling igniting leaked liquid oxygen.

This mishap will further delay the planned Dec 2016 inaugural flight of SpaceX’s biggest new rocket – the Falcon Heavy .

On the bright side the accident destroyed a satellite whose bandwidth was dedicated exclusively for Facebook to stream broadband to Sub-Saharan Africa. Half a billion Africans can thank Elon Musk for sparing them Facebook branded internet service. Despite Mr. Zuckerberg’s misleading tweets the $200 million satellite was owned by Israeli SpaceComm and not the property of Facebook.

The dramatic launchpad explosion can be viewed on YouTube.

⓱space – Practicing for Life on Mars

6 scientists pretending to be astronauts on Mars just spent 365 days together – isolated from the rest of the world in a tiny habitat. Yesterday they were set free. Lots learned about the psychological effects of a long space flight.

The trip to Mars should take about 6 months but there’s a two year wait until the return trip when the planets are properly aligned. There’s also a one-way trip to Mars planned if you don’t plan on returning to Earth.

⓱space – Rock Collection from an Asteroid [video]

On Sept 8 NASA is scheduled to launch the space vehicle OSIRIS-REx. It will spend a year studying the near-earth Asteroid Bennu and return home with samples. These specimens of material from the solar system’s early stages will give clues took the origins of life on Earth (and other planets).

It will also analyze the effects of gravity and heat on the asteroid’s orbit since a collision with Earth is possible in the next century. The impact would equal 200 Hiroshima-size atomic bombs but fortunately the odds of a direct collision are only 1 in 2750.

from SpaceFlightNow:

“…The $800 million OSIRIS-REx project is the first U.S.-led asteroid sample return mission, a 7-year trek to grab a piece of Bennu and bring it back to Earth for study.”

Godspeed OSIRIS-REx🚀