Roscosmos is recruiting employees for the war in Ukraine, and NASA volunteers will spend a year in isolation to prepare for a flight to Mars: News Digest

Selection of the most interesting space news for the week: SpaceX will change the technology of separation of stages on Starship; Virgin Galactic has started monthly flights for space tourists, and we are talking about a Ukrainian scientist, the author of the “Kondratyuk’s Trace”, along which the Apollo spacecraft traveled.

“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.”

― Isaac Newton, The Correspondence of Isaac Newton

Roscosmos forms a battalion for the war in Ukraine

The Financial Times reports that the Roscosmos is forming its own battalion for the war in Ukraine. It is called “Uran”. According to reports, those who join there are immediately offered 100,000 ruble ($1,200) and another 270,000 rubles for each month of stay at the front. 

According to reports, this is significantly more than the majority of workers at Roscosmos enterprises earn. However, Russians are lured into this armed formation not only by the amount of remuneration. The leadership of the space agency of the aggressor country has invested a lot of money in glossy posters and propaganda videos. Taking into account the fact that about 170,000 employees work at Roscosmos enterprises, the management of the corporation has a chance to recruit a sufficient number of volunteers. Thus, they are trying to improve the situation of the Russian army, which has not been doing very well in the last 16 months.

A year in stress and isolation: NASA volunteers prepare for survival on Mars

Four volunteers will enter a simulated habitat on Mars called CHAPEA on June 25. There they will spend the next 378 days in preparation for the crew’s first mission to the Red Planet. A specially designed enclosed habitat at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, will host Alyssa Shannon, Ross Brockwell, Kelly Haston and Nathan Jones.

Residents will face many challenges that a real crew can expect on Mars. Among the unpleasant things: complete isolation, limited resources, accidental equipment breakdowns and other unpredictable situations. To make this experience as realistic as possible, the mission will also use the communication delays that real crews experience due to the vast distance between Earth and Mars.

Virgin Galactic launches monthly flights for space tourists: Video

On June 29, Virgin Galactic made its first commercial trip to the edge of space aboard the VSS Unity SpaceShipTwo rocket plane after almost two decades of ups and downs. Today, in a flight called Galactic 01, three Italians made a suborbital research mission, marking the beginning of the company’s regular commercial flights from Spaceport America in New Mexico.

The outstanding flight included three Italian citizens: Col. Walter Villadei, Lt. Col. Angelo Landolfi, who are officers of the Italian Air Force, and engineer Pantaleone Carlucci, who works for the National Research Council of Italy. The cost of traveling on VSS Unity is 450,000 dollars. However, the Italians were able to fly under an agreement concluded in 2019, when the price was lower on preferential terms from the Italian government. 

SpaceX to test “Hot Stage Separation” on Starship

SpaceX will change the technology of stage separation to Starship. The head of the company, Elon Musk, said this in an online interview with Bloomberg. At the moment, SpaceX uses the following stage separation system on its rockets. First, the engines of the first stage are switched off, after a few seconds it separates, a few seconds after that the second stage is ignited. Such a scheme is considered the most reliable, because it eliminates the risk of a collision or that the engines of the second stage will damage the first. Simultaneously, it also has a disadvantage in the form of loss of thrust, which reduces the carrier’s load capacity.

In the case of Starship, Elon Musk decided to abandon this scheme in favor of the so-called “hot stage separation”. This means that the engines of the spacecraft will be ignited even before the separation of the Super Heavy at the time of operation of its engines. According to Elon Musk, this will increase the carrying capacity of the Starship by at least 10%.

The failed test doubts the future of the Vega-C rocket

The firing test of the updated solid-fuel engine of the Vega-C rocket ended in failure. Because of this, the carrier is unlikely to return to flights before 2024. The debut launch of Vega-C took place in July 2022 and ended with success. Alas, but during the second flight of the rocket in December 2022, an accident occurred. It was a big blow for ESA, further complicating the situation with Europe’s ability to independently launch cargo into space.

In the spring of 2023, the ESA published the results of the accident investigation. The Commission concluded that its cause was the destruction of the nozzle component of the Zefiro 40 engine on the second stage of the rocket. The report caused a small scandal. The fact is that the engine nozzle was made of a material supplied by a Ukrainian company. Ukraine did not agree with the commission’s conclusions, but despite this, ESA decided to replace the supplier of the material. On June 28, Avio (the main contractor of the project) conducted a fire test of the updated Zefiro 40 engine. The 97-second test failed. According to Avio’s statement, an “anomaly” was detected at the 40th second of the firing, which led to a loss of pressure in the engine.

Photo of the week

NASA’s MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) mission has obtained stunning views of Mars in two ultraviolet images taken at different points along the planet’s orbit. Authorship: NASA/LASP/CU

In the new ultraviolet images shared by NASA, Mars looks nothing like itself and it’s incredibly beautiful. Instead of the usual dusty red Mars for all of us, these two ultraviolet images taken by the NASA MAVEN spacecraft in July 2022 and January 2023 show the fourth planet from the Sun in bright purple, bright green, pale red wine and mottled sea shades. To recreate Mars in the ultraviolet spectrum, NASA used special image processing to artificially colorize the planet. Scientists attributed these colors to certain wavelengths in the ultraviolet spectrum to study the unique features of the planet, and the results were simply amazing.

Interesting figure  — 98% of the water on the ISS is regenerated from urine

Astronauts on the ISS could turn 98 percent of the urine that accumulated on board into water. For this, they used a new Urine Processor Assembly (UPA), which they attached to the onboard Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS).  ECLSS has been used on the International Space Station before. However, its effectiveness ranged from 93 to 94 percent. This meant that 6-7 liters of water were irretrievably lost during each recycling cycle. For the first time, UPA failed to convert 98 percent of urine into water. It turned part of it into brine. Then a block called Brine Processor Assembly (BPA) was added to it, which worked only with this product and it managed to achieve the desired result.

Something to read on the weekend

115 years ago, the Tunguska meteorite fell to Earth. By the anniversary of this event, the editors of The Universe Space Tech have compiled a selection of the five most spectacular disaster films dedicated to the space threat. Also on June 23, it was 126 years since the birth of Yuri Kondratyuk. He is the author of the so-called “Kondratyuk’s Trace”, along which the Apollo spacecraft traveled. We prepared 10 facts about a scientist whose name was forgotten in his homeland for a long time, but it was his theoretical and experimental activities that helped humanity set foot on the Moon.

We also talk about one of the most controversial figures in the history of world cosmonautics — Werner von Braun, a former Nazi scientist who later worked on the Apollo program. On the one hand, thanks to him, humanity realized one of its most grandiose achievements and landed on the Moon. On the other hand, he was actively involved in the development of many types of weapons, including the infamous V-2 missile, which killed thousands of people. Who is Werner von Braun: a hero or a war criminal?

Read also: Earth’s axis has shifted due to groundwater pumping, and Italy is threatened by the eruption of a supervolcano: news digest

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