Selection of the most interesting space news for the week: The Japanese have created a lunar rover similar to a robot from the Star Wars movies; NASA has started accepting applications for the disposal of the ISS, and we are telling how to deliver a parcel to Earth from space.
“We are stuck with technology when what we really want is just stuff that works.”
― Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt
Last week, the launch of the JAXA probe called Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) took place. This probe carries on its tug a strange robot called Lunar Excursion Vehicle 2 (LEV-2) and resembles a tennis ball in shape, although some see it as BB-8 from the popular Star Wars movies.
LEV-2 will be launched to the surface of the Moon from a height of 2 meters and will go on its mission. This lunar rover has an impressive feature. Its two halves can move independently of each other, allowing it to advance through the regolith. This is a fantastic idea borrowed from the concepts of children’s toys, and it is already being implemented in space. However, it is worth noting that this mission is not a scientific experiment, but rather a technical demonstration. LEV-2 batteries provide only two hours of work on the Moon. However, the differences in its design and shape may have important implications for future rovers.
Defence Intelligence of Ukraine summed up the results of the first year of ICEYE satellite application
The Defence Intelligence of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine summed up the results of the first year of ICEYE satellite use. They noted its huge role in determining targets for special operations and released two images obtained with the help of this spacecraft. The intelligence officers thanked all the people who donated their money a year ago so that our state would have reliable “eyes” in the sky. The message also mentions the recent attack on occupied Sevastopol. Then, as a result of a special operation, the landing ship Minsk and the submarine Rostov-on-Don were destroyed. It turns out that this operation would also be impossible without the ICEYE spacecraft.
“It’s impossible to realize”: Artemis II astronauts are delighted with the training mission in spacesuits
NASA astronauts who will participate in the future Artemis II mission are actively preparing to perform an important flyby of the Moon. The purpose of this mission, which is scheduled for November next year, is to confirm the safety and reliability of the Orion spacecraft for manned missions to the Moon. On Wednesday, the pre-start training launch was a key step in preparing the crew for future tasks. In the morning, the astronauts put on test suits of the Orion crew survival system for the first time. After the spacesuits were properly put on, the crew was ready to move to launch pad 39B, where the launch of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket would take place.
The astronauts were transported to the launch pad using new NASA vehicles. Koch and Hansen were in one car, and Wiseman and Glover were in the other. After reaching the platform, they climbed the tower to the white room inside the crew access arm. This room is an important step before the launch, because here astronauts are preparing to enter the Orion spacecraft, which will take them to the Moon.
“When we walked out that crew access arm, I just had images of all those Apollo launches and shuttle launches that I saw as a kid and it was unreal. I actually had to stop and just stay in the moment to really let it all sink in,” Glover shared his impressions.
According to the chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, up to 150 thousand Starlink satellite communication terminals are currently operating in Ukraine. In general, Ukrainians pay about USD 10 million a month for them, which is more than the rest of the Europeans together.
Using open sources, Fediienko estimated that 140–150 thousand people are currently using them in Ukraine. The same figure was confirmed to him in the center by the Starlink customer support center. About 45 thousand of them were transferred to our country by partners as technical assistance. And the other more than 100 thousand were purchased by the citizens at their own expense. At the same time, the rest of Europe acquired about 80 thousand Starlink terminals during the same time. And most of them are in the UK, France and other major countries. That is, in general, only Ukraine now has more of these devices than the rest of the continent.
NASA has started accepting proposals from the American industry for the creation of the USDV (U.S. Deorbit Vehicle) spacecraft. It will be used to deorbit the ISS.
After the beginning of the large-scale Russian aggression against Ukraine, the fate of the ISS turned from a purely scientific into a political issue. In the first months of the invasion, Russia actively tried to use the station for blackmail, threatening to leave the station after 2024 and either undock or preserve its segment. However, the bluff didn’t work. It quickly became clear that if Russia implemented its threats, it would actually bury its manned cosmonautics. Without the ISS, both Soyuz and Progress will have nowhere to fly. Given the current state of its space industry, the Russian Federation is not able to create a new station in any foreseeable time. Therefore, after a while, it announced that it would remain on the ISS until at least 2028. In turn, NASA, ESA and JAXA intend to continue operating the station until the end of 2030.
However, although nothing threatens the ISS at the moment, the current situation has led to the fact that NASA decides to put it on the safe side and develop a plan to de-orbit the station when it is decided to flood it. The first step in this direction was the draft NASA budget for 2024, which for the first time included the costs of building such a spacecraft. The authors of the document propose to allocate USD 180 million to start work on its development. Now NASA has officially started accepting applications for the creation of an orbital truck.
Photo of the week
SpaceX has published unique footage taken during the launch of a new batch of Starlink satellites into orbit. The video demonstrates a special coating of the spacecraft designed to reduce light pollution of the sky.
Interesting figure — 17 million years
European astronomers have announced the discovery of an exoplanet that is part of a very unusual triple system, HIP 81208. It consists of a blue giant as well as red and brown dwarfs. HIP 81208 is located at a distance of 485 light-years from Earth. This is a very young star system. Its age is estimated at only 17 million years, and it is part of one of the subgroups of the Scorpius–Centaurus star association. The orbit of the brown dwarf passes at a distance of 54 AU from the central star, its mass exceeds the mass of Jupiter by 67 times. The orbit of the red dwarf passes further, at a distance of 234 AU from the center of the system.
Something to read on the weekend
On September 24th, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will drop a capsule into Earth’s atmosphere. Inside it are samples of material from the asteroid Bennu. If all goes as planed, the capsule with its precious cargo will land at a site in the state of Utah. In thу article A Parcel from Outer Space: How to Deliver Samples from Celestial Bodies to Earth, we will discuss how often scientists manage to study celestial rock and what secrets of the Universe it holds.
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