Round up In the week that New Horizons hit back its snowman, China took its vehicle for a spin on the lunar surface and SpaceX fired another Falcon 9.
Keep rolling rolling rolling
China continued to fuel the fires of space-hopped desperates for an Apollo-style space race as their vehicle moved from the Chang & 4; 4 spacecraft to the other side of the Moon.
Yutu 2 starts (credit: China National Space Administration)
Chang and 4 landed on January 3 after a string of successful missions since 2007 on the lunar spacecraft Chang & # 39; and 1. It is also the second in the Chang & # 39; series and landing on the surface.
Third, if you count Chang & # 39; and 1, although only the very generous consider discarding an orbiter by hitting it on the Moon at the end of its "landing" mission.
Chinese boffins lost little time celebrating the landing, and were followed by the rudimentary Chang & # 39; and 3 short-lived Yutu (or Jade Rabbit), descending the probe ramp for their first launch on the surface.
The Yutu 2 is built from spare leftovers from its ill-fated wheel predecessor, and engineers expect it to have a considerably longer life – three months or more – thanks to the lessons learned from the previous mission. It also lacks the robotic arm of its predecessor, consisting of a set of new instruments, some provided by European scientists.
The Swedish Institute of Space Physics provided an apparatus to examine how charged particles of the Sun interact with the surface of the Moon in the hope of identifying the source of the Moon's water.
Yutu 2 depends on solar energy, so it will have to hibernate during the 14-day lunar night, which should start in mid-January. Once awakened, the engineers are planning about ten miles of bearing. A big improvement on the rover of Chang's and 3, but a little behind the 1973 Lunokhod 2, which managed to cover more than 24 miles before finally leaving.
The Apollo lunar rover has traveled more than 22 miles during the few days that Apollo 17 passed on the lunar surface, but it will unfortunately be some time before humans roll over the lunar mare once more.
SpaceX prepares the next release (no, not that)
While the Crew Dragon captured the headlines last week, Musk's rocketers continued their daily work with the Falcon 9's static booster firing on the SLC-4E pad before a planned January 8 launch of their latest batch of Iridium satellites.
Falcon 9 static fire test complete. Work with the customer to determine the best launch opportunity to complete the Iridium NEXT constellation; will announce a targeted release date once it has been confirmed.
– SpaceX (@ SpaceZ) January 6, 2019
Ten Iridium satellites will fly over Falcon 9 and will be launched into a low polar Earth orbit if all goes well. It will also be the second flight to the first stage, having been used for the first time the launch of Telstar 18 VANTAGE communications satellite in 2018. SpaceX hopes to recover the reinforcement, once again making the miraculous worldly opinion.
Far from the business of flying Falcons, Elon Musk, the supreme of SpaceX, took the time to share some updates on his planned monster rocket, Starship, with Twittersphere.
With the goal of 4 weeks, which probably means 8 weeks due to unforeseen problems
– Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 5, 2019
The building is underway in the first rocket test article that Musk hopes to take humans around the Moon and up to Mars. The test equipment, however, will only be used for "jumps" to check landing systems and Raptor engines in the structure, much like the Grasshopper rocket used by SpaceX during the development of Falcon 9.
Musk has promised that, when completed, the test article will resemble the elegant lines of the planned production rocket, rather than the case of Wallace and Gromit that he currently remembers. He, too, in a rare moment of humility, admitted that the first jumps were eight weeks away, instead of four.
All right, Elon. We can wait. NASA's SLS rocket is still years away.
Yes, it will be extremely intense. Early flights are especially dangerous as there is a lot of new hardware.
– Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 6, 2019
Starship (or Starhopper) aside, Musk also provided some spectacular images of the crew access arm attached to the Crew Dragon. Always the expert in expectations management, the chief of SpaceX warned that the first flights of the first manned spacecraft would be "especially dangerous."
However, with an agency so risk-averse as NASA, nervous and nervous, following Musk's first escapades, allowing engineers to solve the dangers may be a safer approach as the first demo release approaches. ®