A Trip to Space

A Trip to Space

Episode 9: A Trip to Strange Stars

June 21, 2021

This week in space news

China in space: The Chinese Space Agency has sent a trio of astronauts to spend the next three months of the Tiangong space station. This is a brand new modular space station built and operated by China and they arrived on a Chinese spaceship sent up on a Chinese-made rocket.

The Chinese and Russian space agencies will also work together to begin construction of a base on the surface of the moon in 2026, due for completion by 2036 – but they won’t be sending astronauts until after it is fully operation and the robots have had a chance to explore.

Boeing boeing … going? NASA is working with Boeing on sending the Starliner crew capsule into space for another test this July. Starliner was originally due to be operational, ferrying crew to the ISS last year, working alongside the SpaceX Crew Dragon, but it has been hit by problems.

For the new test Starliner will launch atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket without a crew on board. IF it goes to plan the first crewed mission could be towards the end of this year with astronauts Barry Wilmore, Nicole Mann and Mike Fincke on board.

Betelgeuse had gas! The red supergiant star betelgeuse, found on the shoulder of the hunter in Orion’s Belt, which began mysteriously dimming last year was just being blocked by a cloud of gas and dust, according to a new study.

Astronomers from France created a computer simulation based on images from the Very Large Telescope in Chile to determine the Great Dimming was caused by the star ejecting a bubble of gas and giant blobs of plasma moving on its surface.

The temperature drop from the giant blobs led to the creation of an opaque dust which dimmed its appearance when viewed from Earth.

Making space sustainable: The World Economic Forum has launched a new Space Sustainability Rating, designed to shed light ont he problem of space junk and the impact it is having on our orbital evnironment.

The argument is that it is a problem one single government can’t solve, with rules and enforcement from multile nations required to solve the problem.

It will work like nutrition and energy efficiency labels, making it clear what companies and organisations are doing to improve the near-Earthenvironment.

In other news: NASA has a new deputy administrator, after former astronaut Pam Pelroy was confirmed by the senate, and the opportunity to apply to be a European Space Agency astronaut has passed. The deadline for entries closed on Friday June 18th.

Launches this week

June 24: Launch site: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida – A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Transporter 2 mission, a rideshare flight to a sun-synchronous orbit with numerous small microsatellites and nanosatellites for commercial and government customers. Moved up from July.

June 25: Launch site: Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Oblast, Russia – A Roscosmos Soyuz 21.b will send a Russian military intelligence ELINT satellite into heliosynchronous orbit.

Exoplanet of the week

HD 209458 b (nickname “Osiris”)

The first planet to be seen in transit (crossing its star) and the first planet to have it light directly detected. The HD 209458 b transit discovery showed that transit observations were feasible and opened up an entire new realm of exoplanet characterization.

The planet is 1.