Blue Origin’s escape system test went by without a hitch. Jeff Bezos’ private spaceflight outfit successfully ejected the crew capsule from the New Shepherd rocket about 45 seconds after launch, shooting it away at about 400MPH before parachutes carried it safely to Earth. On top of this, Blue Origin landed New Shepherd again — there were worries that the capsule’s rocket would damage the booster and prevent it from landing safely.
The journey in Aldrin’s cycler is supposed to be an eccentric loop around the sun from Earth to the Martian orbit in 146 days, spending the next 16 months beyond the orbit of Mars, and another 146 days from the Martian orbit back to Earth. Other cycler options take even longer. The advantage is that by not entering orbit around mars there is far less energy usage, but planning a mission around using a cycler has very little room for adjusting things on the fly.
Via Ars Technica:
For the last few months rumors have been swirling within the aerospace community about how the company would soon unveil an ambitious architecture that will allow it to begin human missions to Mars within a decade. In response to those rumors, a company source told Ars that nothing was “imminent,” and that appears to be true.
During the forum, uploaded to YouTube, Musk said, “I’m hoping to describe that architecture later this year at IAC … and I think that will be quite exciting.” This year’s International Astronautical Conference will be held in Guadalajara, Mexico, from September 26 to 30. This may include discussion of both a super-heavy rocket as well as starships that could ferry large numbers of people from Earth to Mars, known as the Mars Colonial Transporter.
Saturn casting a shadow on the rings
Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus
Anyone can create a user account on China’s Science and Application Center for Moon and Deepspace Exploration website to download the pictures themselves. The process is a bit cumbersome and the connection to the website is spotty if you’re accessing it outside of China.
Luckily, Emily Lakdawalla from the Planetary Society spent the last week navigating the Chinese database and is currently hosting a suite of China’s lunar images on the Planetary Society Website.
Via NBC News:
The SpaceX and Tesla founder said this week that he personally wants to visit space within the next five years and thinks that his company will launch a mission to Mars by 2025.
Via ABC News:
Thirty years ago today, the nation watched on live television as the Challenger shuttle carrying seven people, including a high school teacher, exploded into a fireball 73 seconds after liftoff.
On an unusually cold January morning, the astronauts’ families and other onlookers watched as the Challenger lifted off from Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida, for what was supposed to be a seven day trip. Shortly after liftoff an orange fireball and smoke could be seen in the sky.
“Obviously a major malfunction,” Stephen Nesbitt at mission control said, according to transcripts of the Challenger disaster.