Thursday, December 15, 2011

Space News Roundup Report

It’s been a busy week for space news and SpaceBlogAlpha wanted to bring our readers up to date on some of the items we haven’t featured yet. Many of the breaking space stories we feature come from Florida Today’s outstanding space news and their own space blog, The Flame Trench. The shuttle era has ended but there is a lot of exciting commercial space development work being done, and it is an exciting time to cover space news from a Space Coast vantage.
The first story featured here is from Florida Today and features Orbital Sciences Corp., which plans to launch commercial cargo flights to the International Space Station from a facility at Wallops Island, Va. Antares.
Their medium-class rocket formerly known as the Taurus II is now named Antares, as reported on FloridaToday.com:
The company said it followed past practice to use Greek-derived celestial names for its launch vehicles.
"We are transitioning to the Antares identity primarily because a launch vehicle of this scale and significance deserves its own name, just like Orbital’s Pegasus, Taurus and Minotaur rocket programs that have come before it," said David Thompson, Orbital's president and CEO.
Antares will launch unmanned Cygnus cargo carriers to the space station from Wallops Island, Va., under a $1.9 billion contract.
A launch pad hot firing of the rocket's engines is planned early next year, followed by a test launch in the first quarter and a demonstration flight to the station in the second quarter before operational missions begin for NASA.
Space.com featured some interesting coverage of the impending demise of Comet Lovejoy, a newly discovered comet that was expected to  be destroyed when it arrives at its perihelion, the closest approach to our sun, sometime around 7 p.m. EST on Dec. 16. Click here for story and pictures from Space.com
Finally, it appears the Russians have lost hope on recovering their Phobos-Grunt probe, once tasked with landing on the Martian moon Phobos on an ambitious soil return mission, now stranded in earth orbit and out of contact with ground officials. Space.com reported a Russian Space official said the mission must be considered a failure. Click here to read the full story at Space.com

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