Science & Astronomy
29. November 2015

Since the WSH Crew Community was created, I tend to point people for space and science news to it and have not posted much in my social media streams any more. But recently, Google+ had selected my Space & Astronomy Collection as part of the G+ Featured Collections and lots of people started following it, so I started an experiment of re-sharing one news article per day into it. This has had such a good feedback so far even though it was Thanksgiving weekend in the US that I decided to make it a regular feature and collect the linked articles plus a few others at the end of the week into a blog post. Lots of interesting things were happening this week, here are just a few of them. In the future, I will try to share one news article per day from Monday to Friday, a selected video on Saturday and this blog roundup on Sunday. Let’s go!

» Blue Origin completes successful test flight and nails the landing of New Shepard rocket (Universe Today/Nancy Atkinson) – The biggest surprise of this week. It was “only” a suborbital flight with a comparatively small rocket, as Elon Musk somewhat snidely pointed out. To really go into orbit and beyond, SpaceX has the right rockets, but has not landed one successfully yet, although they already had come pretty close. It’s still a fantastic achievement from BlueOrigin and it’s always good to see some healthy competition in the field.

» NASA awards contracts to Aerojet Rocketdyne to restart RS-25 engine production for SLS Mars rocket (Universe Today/Ken Kremer) – What used to be called the SSME – Space Shuttle Main Engine – has now been officially selected as the engine of choice for NASA’s Space Launch System. This was not a big surprise, since there had already been six test firings of existing leftover engines from the Shuttle program.

» NASA orders SpaceX crew mission to the International Space Station (NASA/Karen Northon) – The Commercial Crew Transport Program had now officially gone ahead with the selection of SpaceX in addition to Boeing to bring astronauts to the ISS.

» No, ISS Astronaut Scott Kelly did not take a picture of an UFO (Forbes/Ethan Siegel) – This was all over the social networks and boy, was that stupid. Everyone who regularly looks at the photos the astronauts take from the space station instantly knew that this so-called ‘UFO’ was just a part of the station’s structure. Just because some dweeb makes a Youtube video about it doesn’t mean it’s true… and this was even on”big” news sites!

» Do Comets explain Mystery Star’s bizarre Behavior? (Universe Today/Bob King) – I’m not saying it’s aliens, but it’s aliens (okay, I had to make that joke!). It’s probably not an alien megastructure around this star with the unusual light curves, but just a swarm of comets… probably. Spitzer comes to the help of Kepler, but in the end it’s all mostly theoretical and we may never know what really goes on out there.

» More mysterious extragalactic Signals detected (ScienceNews/Christopher Crockett) – The venerable Parkes Radio Telescope has detected two fast radio bursts that occured just milliseconds after one another from the same source – something like this has never been observed before. While it’s intriguing, aliens do not seem to be at fault here (except when you write for the Daily Express).

» NOAA Weather Satellite suffers in-orbit Breakup (Spaceflight101) – Apparently those weather observers like to disintegrate when they reach a certain age.

» Chinese Surprise Launch – Long March 4C lifts Yaogan 29 Recon Satellite into Orbit (Spaceflight101) – The Chinese space agency is, of course, notoriously secret, but what is unusual in this launch is that it comes only a few weeks after a previous one. They are certainly working fast.

» ExoMars prepares to leave Europe for Launch Site (ESA) – there are other news articles about frantic deadlines, but I believe that they will make it. First launch is only a few months away!

» Who owns Space? US asteroid-mining Act is dangerous and potentially illegal (The Conversation/Gbenga Oduntan)- I haven’t really made up my mind up about this dificult topic – on the one hand it’s good for companies like Planetary Resources, on the other hand it’s basically a lot of lawsuits waiting to happen. But this cannot be done on the basis of US law alone.

» Video of the Week – Amy Shira Teitel of Vintage Space tells all about the early life of the ISS as Space Station Freedom.

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