Quick Takes (05-09-16)

vostochny-erect-on-pad-copyThe beatings will continue until morale improves…

The one-day delay in the launch of a Soyuz rocket from Russia’s new spaceport cost the head of one company his job.

Leonid Shalimov, director general of NPO Automatics, resigned as the investigation into the technical problem that delayed the launch from the Vostochny Cosmodrome by one day to April 28 continues. The head of Roscosmos said the scrub was most likely caused by a faulty cable supplied by NPO Automatics.


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SpaceX’s Falcon 9 first stage successfully landed on an offshore drone ship, the second consecutive ship landing for SpaceX. Credit; SapceX

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 first stage successfully landed on an offshore drone ship, the second consecutive ship landing for SpaceX. Credit; SpaceX

SpaceX sticks the landing (again)

For the second time in four weeks, SpaceX has successfully landed a Falcon 9 first stage at sea. The stage landed on a SpaceX drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean about 10 minutes after liftoff early May 6 from Cape Canaveral on a mission to place the JCSAT-14 communications satellite in orbit.

Despite a successful landing on the previous Falcon 9 launch April 8, SpaceX downplayed the odds of success on this flight. This mission’s trajectory, it warned, would subject the first stage to “extreme velocities” as it returned, “making a successful landing unlikely.”

SpaceX has now landed three Falcon 9 stages, including the December 2015 landing back at Cape Canaveral. “May need to increase size of rocket storage hangar,” SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk tweeted after this landing.


VERBATIM | And you thought Congress was slow

Credit: Jim Dunstan

Credit: Jim Dunstan

“The best argument as to why this isn’t done at the international level is to look at how long it takes anything to get done at the international level. [The UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space] was stood up in 1958 or 1959, and the first issue it took up was, ‘Where does outer space begin?’ It’s 60 years later and they still haven’t figured that one out.”

— Jim Dunstan, founder of Mobius Legal Group, describing the glacial pace of international space law deliberations during a Secure World Foundation panel discussion about space resource rights May 5 in Washington.


Lost Beagle found on Mars with new imaging technology

Jeff-Burney_Beagle_5.9.16Researchers at University College London applied a new processing technology to images from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to better resolve the likely location of the Beagle 2 spacecraft.

The spacecraft appears as a bright blip on the terrain, with an outline similar to what would be expected from the spacecraft.

Beagle 2, which flew to Mars in 2003 with ESA’s Mars Express orbiter, failed to communicate after the scheduled landing. Engineers now suspect the spacecraft landed but failed to deploy its solar panels, depriving it of power.

Sorry, Charlie — the top pair of before-and-after images are just cartoons. MRO’s actual images are shown below.