Thursday, January 31, 2008

Space Update II

*For time reasons, I haven't referenced any sources, but all of these stories can be found on (

Space to Become Topic at Presidential Debate

It is entirely likely that in the Democratic Presidential Debate hosted by CNN tonight that the topic of space might come up. It is something that I will definitely be looking forward to. It is part of an effort by aerospace engineers and space enthusiasts to bring space to center stage. This was accomplished by flooding the request page on CNN for topics to be brought up. I can only hope that Wolf Blitzer will listen to what the people want to hear!

Space Shuttle Launch Scheduled for 7 Feb.

Presuming that a kinked radiator hose doesn't cause a delay, the Space Shuttle Atlantis will attempt to launch again on 7 February after two month's of delay caused by a fuel sensor glitch that repeatedly scrubbed past launch attempts. The mission, STS 122, will deliver the European Space Agency's (ESA) Columbus laboratory to the International Space Station (ISS).

Columbus was first concieved in the 1980's as a potential space station for the ESA, but it was only with the proposal by the United States for the ISS that Columbus became a feasible project. It will be attached to Harmony (Node 2), which was delivered to station last year.

The ISS is still on track to be completed before the retirement of the Space Shuttle in 2010.

Asteriod 2007 WD5 Misses Mars

While by no means the spectacular event we were all hoping for, it was still a close call. Asteroid 2007 WD5 flew past Mars uneventfully on the 30th without incident. It missed the planet by approximately 6.5 Mars radii. This came a day after a 500 foot wide object passed Earth just outside the orbit of the Moon. It was not deemed a priority for spacecraft currently near Mars, meaning none of them turned their cameras towards the object. Probably a wise move, particularly for an object of that size.

U.S. Spy Satellite to Re-enter Atmosphere

That's right, one of our spysats is expected to reenter, not more than a year after it was launched. Believed by many sources to be US 193, it was launched in December 2006 from Vandeburg Airforce Base in California. It weighs between 5-10 tons, depending on where you're getting your sources.

It's central computer failed shortly after and the imminent reentry is the result of a loss of control in the propulsion system. It is expected to reenter over North America, meaning Canada, the U.S., or Mexico. The exact location remains uncertain, but the Air Force is monitoring the situation and will keep the public notified.

The risk is not necessarily having large metal parts raining down on populated areas, but the remaining hydrazine rocket fuel on board, which is toxic. Make sure not to touch any meteors you see enter the atmosphere over the next few months!


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