As part of the Christmas celebrations, NORAD (North American Aerospace Defence Command) is attempting to track Father Christmas (Santa Claus) as he makes his way around the world on his sleigh, delivering presents to all the good children. The site can be found here.
Archive | December, 2012
The end of the Mayan “Long Calendar” caused some to predict that the end of the world would happen on 21 December 2012. Such was the panic, that NASA even had to set up a web page to decry claims of imminent asteroid strikes etc. Well, of course, if you are reading this after this date (and God-willing you are) then you can safely assume that those doomsday prophets were wrong.
Space Year 2012 review: Sad Departures as Neil Armstrong and other space greats pass away during year (Updated)
Several space notable personalities passed away during 2012. Probably the most famous was former NASA Apollo 11 astronaut and space great, Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the Moon. Also this year, in July it was reported that the well respected scientist and astronaut, Dr Sally Ride, the first US woman in space also died in the year.
An Independent Oversight Board (IOB) formed to investigate the solar array deployment anomaly on fhs Intelsat 19 satellite launched on 1 June 2012 has found that the damage to the satelite did occur during its Zenit 3-SL (Sea Launch) launch but that it was not the rocket’s fault.
The seventh and last Ariane 5 ECA launch of this year occured at 2149 GMT on 19 December from Kourou in French Guiana. The flight was also the 10th Arianespace-operated flight from the Guiana Space Centre this year with two Soyuz launches and a single Vega launch being the others. Aboard the rocket were two communications satellites heading for Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) via a transfer orbit: the 4800kg Skynet 5D communications satelllite wasbeing launched for Astrium who act as the operator for the UK Ministry of Defence; and the 2935kg communications Mexsat 3 (Mexsat Bicentario) which being launched for the government of Mexico.
A Soyuz FG rocket carried the Soyuz TMA-07M/ISS-33S spacecraft into orbit from the Baikonour space port near Tyuratam, Kazakhstan at 1212GMT on 19 December 2012. Aboard the craft were, the Russian Cosmonaut, Roman Romanenko, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, and US astronaut Tom Marshburn who were being ferried to the International Space Station (ISS).
Space Year 2012 review: Politics – Obama survives, former astronauts relieved, while India’s UK aid will be cut
Politics were not dominated by space during 2012, but they were a factor. The elephant in the room was, of course, November’s US Presidential Election. Given that the swing state of Florida had a key interest, space policy was s discussion point. However, Democrat President Obama won again more because he managed to court the Hispanic community’s vote across all states rather than due to any criticism of his space (or economic) policy by his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney. As it was, even Obama could not claim full credit for the bits of his space policy (such as the commercial flight programme or SLS) that were apparently working mainly because these had been either derived from Republican party thinking, or had apparently been imposed on him, in part, by the US Senate, in cahoots with his own NASA Administrator, Major-General Charles Bolden.
After its lunar mission, NASA’s twin Grail (Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory) spacecraft, dubbed Ebb and Flow, were deliberately flown into a mountainside in the Northern region of the Moon at 2228-2230 GMT on 16 December The impact area is to be named after the late US astronaut and first US woman in space, Dr Sally Ride. No imaging of the impact took place. The Grail mission was launched in September 2011 to map the lunar gravitational field using changes in the spacecraft separation to do this. The spacecraft also imaged the surface of the Moon.
In China’s last scheduled launch of 2012 a Long March 2D successfully placed the Turkish Gokturk 2 satellite in orbit. The launch took place from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre at 1612 GMT on 18 December. The satellite has a dual Military and Civil earth observation mission and will be used to service their requirements. Gokturk […]
The Chinese Chang’e 2 spacecraft has been used in a follow-up mission to take close up images of the near Earth object asteroid, Toutalis (4179) at an altitude of only 3.2km. The flyby took place at 0830 GMT. Chang’E 2 was originally launched on 1 October 2010 and was used to make close up images of the lunar surface, have entered lunar orbit five days later.
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