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The outgoing year in the sphere of space remember the first flights into orbit American manned spacecraft and the world’s first soft landing on the dark side of the moon made by Chinese machine with a Rover on Board. Not without the sad news — we are talking about the end of the mission, the Rover Opportunity landed on Mars almost 16 years ago. About these and the other most important space events of the year says “”.

Manned spaceflight

In March was the first test mission to the ISS in the framework of the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap), involving the creation of American manned spacecraft for missions to earth orbit. All spacecraft Crew Dragon company SpaceX was in the space of five days, four of which — docked with the American Harmony module. This unmanned mission, the main objectives of which was to check the operation of various systems and equipment for Crew Dragon, found to be successful.

In manned mode, Crew Dragon should fly to the ISS in the first half of next year. The success of this mission would mean the loss of Russia’s monopoly in the delivery of astronauts to near-earth station, which started in July 2011 after the closing of the American Space Shuttle program, as well as a significant reduction in revenue, “Roscosmos”, which is currently for each location for the astronaut on the Soviet-Russian Soyuz MS receives from NASA more than $ 80 million. Currently, Russia has refused to create an earth version of space ship “eagle” (formerly the “Federation”) that would replace the Soviet ships of the family “Union” with more than half a century of history, continuing lasted for two decades the design of a lunar version of the aircraft.

In contrast to the Crew Dragon, the other American manned spacecraft, Cockpit from Boeing, in December, during his first mission into earth orbit was not able to fly to the ISS. The reason for this should be sought in bug tracking systems flight time, Mission Elapsed Time (MET), in which the spacecraft spent 25 percent of the fuel needed for a mission to the ISS. Nevertheless, the remaining was enough for two days Starliner landed on a landfill site, the U.S. air force White Sands in new Mexico, as originally planned in the end of the mission.

Boeing said that a drone start-up will (after processing all the data) successfully complete 80% of the program scheduled during the first test of the mission, and if aboard the Starliner were astronauts, they were able to send spacecraft to the ISS. In this regard, as noted by numerous commentators, the start of the second Cockpit could be manned. To such a point of view with cautious approach NASA has already singled out the American company more than enough funding under CCtCap. Also, paying attention to failures with Boeing aircraft 737 MAX, associated with the software, it must be noted that following the start of the Cockpit in a manned mode to hold a minimum reckless.

The moon

The outgoing year was successful for the lunar program of China — in January, lander, with the 140-kilogram lunar Rover mission, Chang’e 4 made a soft landing in the pool South pole — Aitken. Thus China became the first country in the world, landed on the side of the moon.

Launch of Long March 3B with the lunar station was held in December last year from the Xichang launch site (South-Western Sichuan province). Communication Chang’e 4 with the Ground is via the spacecraft Queqiao, launched in may last year on the Long March 4C rocket from the Xichang located in the Lagrangian point L2 of the system Earth — Moon (about 455 thousand kilometers from the planet).

Missions of other countries to the moon, held this year, was unsuccessful in April, the Israeli Beresheet spacecraft crashed on the surface of the satellite, and in September the same happened with the Indian mission Chandrayaan-2.


In February of this year, one Rover on the red planet has become smaller. Because attempts to detect the Rover Opportunity, a relationship which after a dust storm was reported missing in June last year, were unsuccessful, NASA decided to complete the mission. The most likely cause of connection loss is the inability to recharge solar lunar Rover.

Opportunity was on the Martian plateau of Meridian in January 2004. On the surface of the red planet, the Rover was supposed to work only 90 days. The main result of the mission Opportunity is considered proof of the existence in ancient times on the Martian surface waterbodies potentially suitable for life. Currently on the red planet only work with the Curiosity Rover landed in August 2012 in Gale crater, geophysical and stationary mission, Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight), appeared on the plain of Elysium in November 2018.


In November the Japanese Hayabusa space station 2 left orbit around the asteroid Ryugu. Before that, in February and July, the probe landed on the surface of this heavenly body, and in April, outside its orbit, from an altitude of about 500 meters dropped him to the penetrator, the projectile and explosive charge. The last operation, called the Small Carry-on Impactor Experiment (SCI) was conducted to determine the effect of the asteroid class a collision with another celestial body, as well as to collect additional soil samples. Currently, the capsule with soil samples from the Ryuga is sent to the Ground.

The mission of Hayabusa 2 was launched by the rocket H-IIA 202 in December 2014 from the Baikonur Tanegashima (Japan). Ryugu spacecraft reached in June last year. In September of the same year, a pair of mini-robots that are launched from the probe, made the first successful soft landing on the asteroid, then transferred photos and data from its surface. The main purpose of Hayabusa 2 is the study of the origin of terrestrial planets.

Also this year continued its work to the American mission Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) arrived at the asteroid Bennu in December of last year.

The launch of the Observatory “Spektr-RG”

Among 24 starts, which, Roskosmos, made in 2019, the most prominent is the launch of the Russian-German Observatory “Spetr-RG” (“Spektr-REntgen-Gamma”). It started in July after numerous delays from the Baikonur cosmodrome (Kazakhstan) with the help of the carrier rocket “proton-M” and the block DM-03. This event is of great importance for the Russian space industry and science for two reasons. Firstly, the last major successful Russian space research mission to the radio telescope “Spektr-R” — run the country for more than eight years ago (in July 2011). Second, the telescope will allow for a full sky survey in x-rays.

Nevertheless, it should be noted that more than half of the key systems of the Observatory are not Russian — constructively “Spektr-RG” is a multi-purpose service platform “Navigator” with installed German eROSITA and Russian ART-XC x-ray mirror telescopes, the latter got a mirror module, built by NASA at Marshall Space center (USA), as a mirror for the Russian ART-XC has been polished improperly, and therefore useful only for endurance tests.

Among other science missions launched in the past year in space, it is worth noting the European telescope to search for exoplanets CHaracterising ExOPlanets Satellite (CHEOPS), who at the second attempt was launched into orbit by the rocket “Soyuz-ST-B” with the upper stage “Fregat-M”, launched in December from Kourou (French Guiana).

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