Emerging Victorious: The LISA Pathfinder
Jun08

Emerging Victorious: The LISA Pathfinder

The LISA (Laser Interferometer Space Antenna) Pathfinder is a research spacecraft of the European Space Agency (ESA) and was launched in December 2015. The main purpose of the LISA Pathfinder mission is to test certain technologies for future space observatories to detect gravitational waves from large astronomical bodies (e.g. stars) around us. The LISA Pathfinder uses extremely sophisticated technology to observe the...

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Galileo 13 & 14 Launched and In Orbit

    Galileo 13 & 14 have successfully been delivered into space, via a good old Soyuz 3-stager. The Galileo program is ESA’s 24-satellite constellation aimed at delivering a global satellite positioning system to Europe. The program started as a response to the Selective Availability (SA) of the Global Positioning System (GPS), meaning that the Unites States, who control the GPS network, can reduce the accuracy and...

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NASA’s Space Balloon is Ready For Deployment

  In a 4-hour process that will broadcast live from the ISS on the morning on May 26th, NASA’s astronauts will begin to deploy the ‘BEAM’. Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, or BEAM, is essentially an inflatable room. It is designed such that it takes up less room to be transported and can then expand to 5 times its original size when inflated. Roughly the size of a small bedroom, this module will be accessible from the ISS’s...

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Advanced Propulsion Systems in Space
Dec28

Advanced Propulsion Systems in Space

In May 2015, the Planetary Society launched a CubeSat into orbit. Normally this is not very exciting, since CubeSats are launched on a regular basis. However, this satellite, called LightSail (see visual), uses a 32m2 solar sail as its propulsion system. While this is only a flight to prove the concept, missions that are more ambitious are already being planned; all in order to make interplanetary travel more efficient.

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ATV-5: The Last of its Kind
Feb15

ATV-5: The Last of its Kind

A trail of fire in the night sky marked the end of ESA’s ATV program. On February 15, 2015 the last ATV, ATV-5 undocked from the International Space Station and started deorbiting. Loaded with waste from the ISS it made its way back towards the atmosphere, where it burned out over the Pacific Ocean. This was the last ATV made by ESA. It marks the end of a space program, which was already conceived in 1987 to serve for an international...

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IXV Test: Success!
Feb11

IXV Test: Success!

The Americans did it with the space shuttle. Now we did it with the IXV. On February 11, 2015 a Vega rocket brought the first IXV (Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle) to space, where it deorbited and reentered the atmosphere. Starting at hypersonic speeds the IXV slowed down to supersonic speeds, after which it glided through the atmosphere. It was controlled by a pair of flaperon-like tails. Later it deployed parachutes, to slow down...

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