Weekly Links

Down to Earth

The United States federal government remains partial shutdown as it has been since mid-December. This is far more than a story about NASA, of course. But since this is a space blog, here is an article from the Orlando Sentinel about how the current situation is affecting some NASA contractors in Florida.

NASA’s Independent Verification and Validation Center in West Virginia has been renamed for Katherine Johnson, a native of the state.

Nancy Grace Roman, who served as NASA’s chief of astronomy in the 1970’s and is credited with ensuring the Hubble Space Telescope project moved forward, has died at 93 years of age.

The Dragon capsule for “Demo Mission 1” was rolled out to the launch pad in Florida. This test mission will be in preparation for the first flight with astronauts onboard.

NASA had to postpone a visit by the head of Roscosmos (Russia’s space agency) due to political pressure.

In Orbit

It’s been a tough time for space telescopes. The Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3 is currently inactive due to a malfunction. Also, Russia’s Spektr-R telescope is reportedly out of communication.

There were 10 orbital rocket launches since my last post on December 16th:

On the ISS, things have been busy with the usual ebb and flow of operations. On December 19th, the three person crew of Alex Gerst, Serena Aunon-Chancellor, and Sergey Propokyev returned to Earth in their Soyuz capsule.

Meanwhile, the remaining ISS crew was busy organizing supplies and conducting science delivered on the latest Dragon capsule. The capsule, designated Dragon-16, returned to Earth on Sunday, January 13th, splashing down for recovery in the Pacific Ocean.

Around the Solar System

NASA’s New Horizons probe – famous for its flyby of Pluto in 2015 – successfully imaged a distant Kuiper Belt object known as 2014 MU69, or Ultima Thule. This flyby was many years in the making, even though the object was discovered well after New Horizons launched in 2006.

China successfully landed their second lunar rover, Yutu 2, part of the Chang’e 4 mission, on the far side of the moon.

January 13, 2019 10:17 pm

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