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.
Via Wired UK:
Chris Hadfield spent 166 days in space and spacewalked for almost 15 hours — but he’s eager for humans to venture further. The next “logical” space exploration? Humans returning to the Moon and building colonies there.
“We will be on the International Space Station for another ten years or so, and where’s the next obvious place we’ll go? The Moon. It’s only three days away,” the 59-year-old Canadian astronaut tells WIRED.
January 27th marked the ”plugs-out” test, where the command/service module was operating with all three astronauts inside under its own power, an essential test for ensuring the spacecraft’s flight worthiness. There was no fuel, no cryogenics, and no known potential hazard to this test. All three astronauts entered the module in fully pressurized space suits, while the cabin was pressurized and filled with oxygen. The three hatches — the removable inner hatch, the hinged outer hatch, and then the outer hatch cover — were then externally installed. A minor communications problem arose in the late afternoon, causing the simulated countdown to stall at T-minus-10 minutes. What happened next was very fast.
At 6:30:54 PM, while the crew was running through their checklist a second time, a voltage spike was recorded. Ten seconds later, at 6:31:04, one of the astronauts exclaimed something inaudible, perhaps “Hey!” or “Fire,” a transmission that came through Grissom’s microphone. Two seconds later, at 6:31:06, Chaffee’s voice was clearly heard, “We’ve got a fire in the cockpit.” Seven seconds after that, at 6:31:13, an unidentifiable, heavily garbled voice yells “[…] bad fire […] get… out […] [open ‘er/burning] up,” followed by an end to the last transmission at 6:31:22. The last image that anyone reported seeing before the transmission ended was Ed White reaching for the inner hatch handle, as the flames swept from left to right across the monitor.
Via The Verge:
Audi has helped perfect the 3D printing process to create nearly the entire rover out of aluminum and titanium. It uses special channels to route wiring inside hollow structural components, something that couldn’t be done with a CNC process. “It’s not possible from the axis of freedom,” says Robert Böhme, CEO of PT Scientists. “The parts are like 1 millimeter thick.”
3D printing isn’t just going to contribute to the building of the rover. The team wants to create a 3D printer that can use lunar soil already chock full of aluminum, titanium, and magnesium to eventually create parts for other devices on the Moon. The theory is that it’s a lot easier to build something new on the Moon than it is to ship it there.
(Click image for larger version)
(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images. Click image for larger version.)
Check out the beautiful gallery of space habitats on the Scifi Art Tumblr.
Via Wired UK:
The European Space Agency (ESA) has announced its intentions to send astronauts to our nearest satellite by 2030. A video posted on the agency’s website titled ‘Destination Moon’ sets out the plan that — if all goes to plan — will see European-developed robots sent to the surface first.