Tuesday, December 22, 2009
A Russian Soyuz spacecraft docked with the International Space Station today, bringing a crew of three astronauts with it.
Russian cosmonaut Russian Oleg Kotov, NASA's Timothy Creamer and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi, will join Maxim Surayev and Jeffrey Williams already working at the space station.
That brings the ISS crew to five. Since May, the ISS has been ready for a crew of six, but so far, given repeated problems with the plumbing, astronauts have been taking it slow.
The station has so far housed as many as 13 astronauts and several space tourists. In January 2009, Russian space officials said they would cease tourist visits to ISS, but in October they proposed sending them up two-at-a-time beginning in 2012.
Whatever the case, hopefully future tourists will bring their own TP.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
hey, I organized a feature week on space memorabilia in celebration of the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11. I invited some collectors to display their interesting collections of space artifacts. Check it out here:
So, I did check it out. Lots of really cool stuff I wish I owned!
I was slightly disappointed no one thought to collect and preserve any frozen astronaut turds, however. It's really all that is missing.
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is betting that splitting spacecraft duties among a fleet of smaller, wirelessly connected ships is the way to go.
SpaceNews had a story on it Friday.
It's called fractionated spacecraft.
The basics behind it are simple enough: Rather than launch one really heavy satellite loaded with a bunch of different instruments, launch several smaller, lighter (therefore cheaper) spacecraft, and have them work together as a team using wireless communication.
Like networking your PC, laptop, TV and stereo at home.
This type of system also means if one unit fails, the entire system doesn't go down, just that single unit. And patching into the system, or adding on, is as easy as getting wireless access.
This a paradigm shift when it comes to how we do things now, but it's not new. Scientists have been proposing this sort of system for years. Check out this hefty MIT paper on the subject from 2006.
As has happened many times in the past, DARPA is leading the field in pursuit of this new technology. It remains to be seen how, or even if, it will work. But the first flight demonstration is slated for 2013.