The Soyuz-2.1v rocket lifted off from Russia’s northern Plesetsk space center on December 28. It can carry up to 2,800 kg of payload into orbit and is powered by rocket engines left over from the Soviet Union’s lunar program.
“NASA will begin transmitting commands to its Mars exploration rover, Spirit, on Monday as part of an escape plan to free the venerable robot from its Martian sand trap.
Spirit has been lodged at a site scientists call ‘Troy’ since April 23. Researchers expect the extraction process to be long and the outcome uncertain based on tests here on Earth this spring that simulated conditions at the Martian site.”
“The Mini Research Module-2, known as “Poisk,” which means “explore” in Russian, will deliver 1,800 pounds of cargo to the station. Poisk is scheduled to automatically dock to the station’s Zvezda Service Module at 9:44 a.m.
“The 8-ton module is scheduled to launch at 8:22 a.m. Nov. 10 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The combination docking port and airlock will ride atop a Soyuz booster rocket. The Soyuz launch will not be broadcast on NASA TV.
“The module will be used as an additional docking port for Russian vehicles, as an airlock for Russian-based spacewalks and as a platform for external science experiments. Its first use will be as a docking port during the relocation of a Soyuz crew vehicle in January.”
“MOFFETT FIELD, Calif., Sept. 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — NASA has selected a final destination for its Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, after a journey of nearly 5.6 million miles that included several orbits around Earth and the moon. The mission team announced Wednesday that Cabeus A will be the target crater for the LCROSS dual impacts scheduled for 7:30 a.m. EDT on Oct. 9, 2009. The crater was selected after an extensive review as the optimal location for LCROSS’ evaluation of whether water ice exists at the lunar south pole.
“LCROSS will search for water ice by sending its spent upper-stage Centaur rocket to impact the permanently shadowed polar crater. The satellite will fly into the plume of dust left by the impact and measure the properties before also colliding with the lunar surface. The LCROSS team selected Cabeus A based on a set of conditions that include proper debris plume illumination for visibility from Earth, a high concentration of hydrogen, and mature crater features such as a flat floor, gentle slopes and the absence of large boulders.”
“WASHINGTON, July 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, has returned its first imagery of the Apollo moon landing sites. The pictures show the Apollo missions’ lunar module descent stages sitting on the moon‘s surface, as long shadows from a low sun angle make the modules’ locations evident.
“The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera, or LROC, was able to image five of the six Apollo sites, with the remaining Apollo 12 site expected to be photographed in the coming weeks.
“The satellite reached lunar orbit June 23 and captured the Apollo sites between July 11 and 15. Though it had been expected that LRO would be able to resolve the remnants of the Apollo mission, these first images came before the spacecraft reached its final mapping orbit. Future LROC images from these sites will have two to three times greater resolution.”
“CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., July 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Space shuttle Endeavour and its seven-member crew launched at 6:03 p.m. EDT Wednesday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The mission will deliver the final segment to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency‘s Kibo laboratory and a new crew member to the International Space Station.
“Endeavour’s 16-day mission includes five spacewalks and the installation of two platforms outside the Japanese module. One platform is permanent and will allow experiments to be directly exposed to space. The other is an experiment storage pallet that will be detached and returned with the shuttle. During the mission, Kibo’s robotic arm will transfer three experiments from the pallet to the exposed platform. Future experiments also can be moved to the platform from the inside of the station using the laboratory’s airlock.”
“WALLOPS ISLAND, Va., July 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — NASA has successfully demonstrated an alternate system for future astronauts to escape their launch vehicle. A simulated launch of the Max Launch Abort System, or MLAS, took place Wednesday morning at 6:26 a.m. at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Va.”