Down To Earth
American hero and original Mercury astronaut John Glenn died on December 8th.
Former space shuttle astronaut, climate scientist, and director at Goddard Space Flight Center, died on December 23rd. He was a fierce advocate of climate science. This open letter he wrote after his cancer diagnosis is worth a read.
Virgin Galactic conducted another SpaceShipTwo glide flight on December 22, the second of the month.
Actor Ryan Gosling is to play Neil Armstrong in a new biopic to be filmed next year.
It’s been a busy month since my last post on December 4th, with 12 more successful orbital rocket launches (check out this post from Parabolic Arc for 2016 launch statistics).
- A European Vega rocket launched on December 5th placed a Turkish military satellite in orbit
- An Indian rocket launched on December 7th placed an Earth observing satellite in orbit
- A Delta IV rocket launched on December 7th placed a U.S. Air Force satellite in orbit
- A Japanese H-IIB launched on December 9th carried an ISS logistics cargo craft as well as a slew of small secondary payloads
- A Chinese rocket launched on December 10th placed a weather satellite in orbit
- An Orbital Sciences Pegasus rocket launched on December 15th (air launched from under an airplane wing) placed 8 new hurricane observing satellites in orbit
- An Atlas V rocket launched on December 18th placed a commercial communications satellite in orbit
- A Japanese Epsilon rocket launched on December 20th placed a Van Allen radiation belt research probe in orbit
- Another Chinese rocket launched on December 21st placed two Earth-observing satellites in orbit
- A European Ariane 5 rocket launched on December 21st placed both a Brazilian and Japanese communications satellite in orbit
- Another Chinese rocket launched on December 28th placed two satellites in orbit, but reportedly the wrong one
- Another Chinese rocket launched on January 5th placed a telecommunications satellite in orbit
The Japanese HTV cargo craft which launched in early December was successfully captured by the on-orbit ISS crew on December 12th.
Around the Solar System
There are some problems at Mars:
The Curiosity rover has a problem with its scientific drill. Flight controllers are troubleshooting.
The Mars Odyssey orbiter went into safe mode last week. It is expected that it will be recovered.