Faulty Navsat Likely to Fall in Pacific Ocean Within Two Months: Isro

Indian navigation satellite IRNSS-1H which is stuck inside PSLV-C39 rocket’s heat shield and tumbling in outer space is expected to fall in the Pacific Ocean within two months, a top Isro official said.

Dr K Sivan, director of Thiruvananthapuram-based Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), told TOI, “The whole thing (weighing 2.4 tonnes) is expected to re-enter the earth’s atmosphere within 40-60 days. We are keeping track of the satellite stuck in the heat shield. Our initial estimate shows the satellite (designated as space debris-2017-051A) may fall in the Pacific Ocean. We will be able to know the exact area of its falling just 5-10 days prior to its fall.”

He said, “When the satellite re-enters the earth’s atmosphere, tremendous amount of heat will be generated due to atmospheric friction which will burn most parts of the satellite. Only a few components are likely to fall into the ocean.”

Read more at: Times of India

Weight Issue Not Linked to PSLV Heat Shield Glitch: Isro Chief

Isro chairman AS Kiran Kumar on Saturday firmly denied that the PSLV-C39 rocket carrying eighth navigation satellite IRNSS-1H failed on Thursday as it was carrying one-tonne extra load.

A report in TOI on Saturday had stated that “the PSLVC39 rocket, which failed to launch the IRNSS-IH, was dragged down by at least onetonne extra weight”. The report stated that this was more than the design permitted.

Speaking to TOI on Saturday prior to making a presentation at the Nehru Centre in Mumbai, the Isro chief said: “The report is incorrect and the rocket was not carrying any extra load.” He said the heat shield added additional weight to the launch vehicle as it failed to get detached at the second stage and went along till the fourth stage separation point. “It was not because Isro put any additional weight prior to the launch,” he said.

Read more at: Times of India

Isro Suspects Snag in Explosive Bolts

Isro scientists suspect that a problem in the pyro mechanism — explosive bolts used to separate the heat shield —was responsible for the failure of the IRNSS-1H satellite to separate from the PSLV rocket after its launch from Sriharikota. “This kind of failure is rare,” an Isro scientist said, stressing the need for in-depth analysis to detect the root cause of the anomaly. Former Isro group head Chivukula Ravindhranath said that the heat shield (also called fairing) separation on launch vehicles is generally very reliable, and scientists don’t even consider this type of failure as a possible risk.

He said everything related to heat shield separation has a back-up system except for the explosive material used in the bolts.

Read more at: Deccan Chronicle

Jim Bridenstine, Trump’s Pick to Lead NASA, is Eager to See Humans on the Moon and Mars

Prresident Trump’s pick to lead NASA is a congressman who wants to mine fuel from the moon and has denied human activity’s role in climate change.

Rep. Jim Bridenstine, a Republican from Oklahoma, was officially nominated this week to head the space agency. If confirmed by the Senate, Bridenstine would become the first elected official to lead NASA in its nearly six-decade history. “It is an honor to be nominated to serve our nation as NASA administrator,” Bridenstine said in a statement. He declined requests to be interviewed until after the confirmation process is over.

Bridenstine is a Navy Reserve pilot and was executive director of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum and Planetarium before being elected to Congress in 2012.

Read more at: LA Times

Strong Solar Flare to Affect Shortwave Communications

A strong solar flare may affect shortwave communications on earth, but the disruptions in China will be minor, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) said Thursday. According to the CAS National Space Science Center, an X9.3-class solar flare emitting from a group of sunspots codenamed AR 2673 was spotted at 7:53 p.m. Wednesday.

The sunspots have triggered solar flares more than 10 times since Sunday and may continue to cause large flares in the following days, CAS said in a statement. They are the strongest spotted since 2005 and likely to impact earth on Friday night or Saturday, according to CAS.

Read more at: Xinhuanet

Learning to Fly Again

The high desert, at sunrise, is peaceful. The temperature is comfortably cool and the air is calm, a far cry from the heat that will soon bake the desert floor. A good time to take in the stark beauty of the landscape.

It’s also a good time for a flight test. As the Sun edged higher into the sky, the twin rotors of a Columbia 234UT helicopter—the civilian version of the military’s Chinook—started up. The helicopter took off, trailing a cable that, on the other end, was connected to the engineering test article of Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC’s) Dream Chaser vehicle. The helicopter hovered as the cable became taut to perform some final tests, and then flew higher, lifting the Dream Chaser off its cradle and into the air. For the first time in nearly four years, Dream Chaser was airborne.

Read more at: Space review

Russian, Canadian Scientists Show Space Flights Affect the Human Body Just Like Diseases

Russian and Canadian researchers have uncovered how space travel conditions impact the protein composition of human blood, Skoltech’s press office said. The study’s results were published recently in the journal Scientific Reportsfrom the Nature publishing group, which indicated that during cosmic flights a human body responds to the zero-gravity state just like it does to a disease.

“The study indicated that under zero-gravity conditions, the immune system acts similarly to when it is fighting a disease since the body does not understand what to do and switches on all sorts of protection systems,” the study’s leading author and Professor at Skoltech and Moscow Institute of Physics and TechnologyYevgeny Nikolaev said.

Read more at: TASS

Errant EchoStar-3 Satellite Retired into Graveyard Orbit

An EchoStar satellite that stopped obeying commands this summer has since been boosted into a graveyard orbit 350 kilometers above the geostationary belt, EchoStar said Sept. 6.

EchoStar-3, a 20-year-old television broadcast satellite from Lockheed Martin, stopped responding to commands in late July during a relocation maneuver and began drifting around the geostationary arc, triggering warnings to satellite operators with nearby spacecraft.

Derek de Bastos, chief technology officer for EchoStar Satellite Services, said a joint effort between EchoStar and Lockheed Martin succeeded in reestablishing command and control of the satellite.

Read more at: Space News

How Boeing’s Starliner is Getting Ready to Rocket the United States Back into Manned Space Flight

For the present, the Boeing Starliner must live in the shadow of the past.Towering over the anonymous building where the space capsule is being built, is the massive bulk of Nasa’s Vehicle Assembly Building, once home to the mighty Saturn V, the rocket which took the Apollo astronauts to the Moon.

It is nearly 50 years since Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the Moon. As significant is that it is now six years and one month since the United States last flew a man into space.

The final flight of the space shuttle Atlantis, on July 8, 2011, marked a temporary end to America’s manned space programme.

Read more at: National

SpaceX Successfully Launches Mysterious X-37B Spaceplane and Recovers First Stage

SpaceX can add another first to its ever-increasing list: On Thursday, it successfully launched the U.S. Air Force’s X-37B experimental spaceplane for the first time. This makes it the only launch provider to accomplish this besides the United Launch Alliance, and should help ensure SpaceX gets more business from U.S, defense contracts in future.

The launch vehicle used was SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, which took off from the company’s LC-39A launch facility at Kennedy Space Center on Thursday morning at 10 AM ET (7 AM PT). The Falcon 9 deployed the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, as the payload is officially called, and then its first stage booster returned to Earth for a planned recovery at Cape Canaveral Air Force base via SpaceX’s LZ-1 landing pad. The goal was to get the launch up before the arrival of Hurricane Irma, and they succeeded.

Read more at: Tech Crunch

Virgin Galactic is Returning to Powered Flights, CEO Says, in a Crucial Next Step for the Spaceship Company

Virgin Galactic chief executive George Whitesides said his company will soon return to powered flights for the first time in three years. “We’re ready to go into powered flight,” Whitesides said on Thursday at the Mars Society Convention in Irvine, California.

Virgin Galactic has not tested a powered flight of one of its spaceships since the fatal crash of Spaceship Enterprise on Oct. 31, 2014. An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board found the pilot prematurely unlocked the spaceship’s “feather system,” causing the vehicle to break apart during rocket-powered flight.

Read more at: CNBC

China’s Mars Base Plan Revealed … and Covering 95,000 sq km, there’s Certainly Plenty of Space

China’s plan to build a “Mars village” on a remote plateau in the country’s far northwest will cost about 400 million yuan (US$61.1 million), according to a blueprint for the project drawn up over the weekend.

The estimate was set after scientists and government officials from Delingha in Qinghai province, which will host the base, met to discuss the development of the scheme, Xinhua reported on Wednesday.

Liu Xiaoqun, director of lunar and deep space exploration at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, was quoted as saying that the project would combine tourism and scientific exploration, though the report did not say when it might open.

Read more at: scmp

ISRO’s PSLV Launch Failure Could be a Blessing in Disguise

After a string of successes spanning decades, India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) registered an unsuccessful launch recently. The failure is caused by a relatively inferior risk item on the launch vehicle. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has started an investigation, which has varying implications. Nevertheless, it is encouraging to see continued support for ISRO from public and customers alike.

ISRO had launched the proven PSLV in its XL configuration last week for replacing the dysfunctional satellite in India’s regional navigation satellite system. All three atomic clocks on-board the satellite have failed due to a hardware problem and ISRO has decided to replace it with one of the two spare satellites built into the project cost.

Read more at: DNA India

China brings Mars a Little Closer with Replica on Tibet Plateau

The 55m-kilometre jaunt from planet Earth to the red planet takes up to a year. From Beijing’s international airport you’ll soon be able to fly there in just over seven hours.

In the latest leg of its multi-billion dollar race for space, China has unveiled plans to build a 400m yuan (£47m) replica of Mars on a spectacular, sandswept corner of the Tibetan plateau. The “simulated Mars station” – a 95,000 square-kilometre tribute to the solar system’s second-smallest planet – will be built in Qinghai province’s Haixi Mongolian and Tibetan autonomous prefecture, not far from the westernmost tip of the Great Wall.

Read more at: Guardian

Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin Makes its Pitch to Congress for Delivering Cargo to the Moon

Blue Origin, the space venture founded by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos, joined other companies today in laying out plans for commercial missions to the moon during a congressional hearing on Capitol Hill.

“It’s time for America to return to the moon, this time to stay,” Brett Alexander, Blue Origin’s director of business development and strategy, told members of the House Subcommittee on Space. That declaration echoed Bezos’ oft-used phrase, virtually word for word.

Blue Origin has already been testing a suborbital space vehicle called New Shepard, with an eye toward taking on passengers as early as next year. It’s also developing a more powerful orbital-class rocket called New Glenn, which could be used as part of a lunar mission architecture known as Blue Moon.

Read more at: Geekwire

NASA Preparing Call for Proposals for Commercial Lunar Landers

NASA is preparing to release a solicitation for the commercial transportation of payloads to the lunar surface, the latest step in the agency’s efforts to help promote the development of commercial lunar landers.

In testimony Sept. 7 at a House space subcommittee hearing on private lunar exploration, Jason Crusan, director of advanced exploration systems at NASA, said the agency was developing a call for proposals for such services after evaluating the results from a request for information (RFI) earlier in the year.

“What we are now looking at doing is actually buying landed delivery services in the next fiscal year, of actually buying the first ability to land small payloads,” he said. “We’re preparing for the solicitation as we speak.”

Read more at: Space News

Russia Plans to Send Tourists into Space in 2019-2020

Space tourists may begin to make orbital flights again starting from 2019-2020, the CEO of Russia’s space corporation Roscosmos, Igor Komarov, told TASS in an interview on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum.

“The program for space flights to the ISS is clear for two years to come. We have no plans for putting tourists in space for the time being. True, space tourism is possible in principle, but only starting from 2019-2020. Discussions are underway,” he said.

Earlier, Komarov told TASS in an interview Roscosmos might create a joint brand with foreign partners, including those in the US, for organizing space tourism.

Read more at: TASS

Extended Human Space Travel Through Biolation

Deep space travel is circumscribed by an interactive conflict. For those that may want to make extended space journeys, the distances are remarkably great, and our spaceships are slow. These combine to make the trip times exceedingly long. When one attempts considering interstellar transit, you quickly realize that a normal human life span prevents an adult from ever even returning to Earth. Yet even for missions to nearby Mars travel times are projected to take about eight months one-way.

We cannot do anything about the physical distances, nor can we expect much more performance out of current chemical rockets for projected near-term transports within the solar system. While there are projected improvements in velocity in the future through introduction of fission propulsion, fusion-drive rockets, or other exotic space transport engines, space travel will continue to require long transit times. Even if one is able to exploit velocity-enhancing tricks like gravity-assist planetary flybys, deep space trips to, say, mineral-rich asteroids in the main belt will still be measured in years.

Read more at: Space review

Arianespace Resets Next Launch to Late September After Finding Electrical Equipment Problem

Arianespace is rescheduling the Ariane 5 launch meant for yesterday to the end of the month, having traced the source of the computer-triggered mission abort to a solid-propellant booster problem.

The launch provider said Sept. 6 that an electrical equipment issue in one of the boosters interrupted the automated lift-off sequence Tuesday, cancelling the mission.

Yesterday’s mission scrub — a rare event for the Ariane 5 — occurred after the rocket’s first stage liquid engine started burning, but before ignition of the two strap-on solid-fuel boosters. “This interruption is perfectly compliant with our procedures which authorize a launch only if 100% of launcher equipment is fully operational,” Arianespace said in a Sept. 6 statement. “This rule guarantees the reliability and robustness of our launch system.”

Read more at: Space News

Rocket Launch Sites Planned in Japan, Led by Private Sector

Japan’s first private-sector effort to build rocket-launching facilities is underway as new aerospace legislation paves the way for meeting growth in demand for small observation satellites.

Canon Electronics, a Canon unit, has joined IHI subsidiary IHI Aerospace, construction company Shimizu and the state-owned Development Bank of Japan to establish joint venture New Generation Small Rocket Development Planning. The new company had begun scouting potential sites nationwide by Tuesday, aiming to shorten the list in time to embark on operations in fiscal 2018 at the earliest, following government checks.

Read more at: Nikkei Asia

Why the New Space Race Must Focus on Sustainability

There are roughly 1,500 satellites orbiting Earth right now, providing a wide array of data and services that are critical to human societies. They contribute information that’s vital for the environment, education, food security, public health, water resource management, human rights, disaster relief and nuclear security. The Global Position System, for example, is estimated to have benefited the US economy by more than $55 billion in 2013 alone.

Space-derived services not only improve the efficiency and effectiveness of many terrestrial activities but also provide much of the information and understanding needed to prevent and mitigate a variety of risks.

Read more at: WEF

What it Feels Like to Float in Zero Gravity

If you truly want to know what microgravity feels like, you can take a ride on a plane nicknamed the “Vomit Comet.” Passengers on these parabolic flights experience periodic moments of weightlessness — between 20 to 30 seconds at a time — simulating what it feels like to float around the International Space Station.

In the season finale of Space Craft, we booked a flight with the Zero Gravity Corporation, one of a handful of organizations in the world that currently offers parabolic flight experiences. Its main asset is a hollowed-out Boeing 727 that has been modified to better accommodate the unique flight trajectory needed for zero gravity flight.

Read more at: Verge

Russia, China to Strengthen Space, Aviation, Nuclear Cooperation – Rogozin

Russia and China have more closely aligned their positions with regard to cooperation in outer space and other areas, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said.

“During the first hours of negotiations in Volgograd, Russia and China announced a convergence of their positions on cooperation in the field of space, aviation and atomic industry,” Rogozin wrote on his Facebook page on Tuesday.

He and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yang are holding intergovernmental talks in Volgograd. “The vice premier of the State Council of the PRC [People’s Republic of China] also showed interest in the heroic history of Stalingrad. We agreed to develop tourism contacts to encourage Chinese citizens to visit the Hero City of Volgograd,” Rogozin said.

Read more at: Interfax

Russia’s Evolving Rocket Plans

Russia’s next-generation piloted spacecraft Federatsia, slated to fly Earth orbital and lunar missions in the 2020s, is getting a new rocket, the third in eight years. The rocket is also supposed to serve as a test bed for Russia’s SLS-class heavy-lift rocket, the development of which has been significantly accelerated in spite of Russia’s hard economic times. The latest changes are symptomatic of poor long-term planning and have brought to light conflicting opinions about the priorities of the country’s space program.

When the Federatsia project was started in 2009, the plan was to launch the spacecraft with a brand new rocket (Rus-M) from the new Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East. In late 2011 the Russian space agency Roscosmos abandoned Rus-M in favor of the Angara-A5 rocket, which had been under development for almost 20 years, but ultimately debuted only in 2014.

Read more at: Space review

SpaceX Says the ‘World’s Most Powerful Rocket’ has Completed First-stage Testing

SpaceX has announced that is has completed first-stage testing on the Falcon Heavy, its new heavy-lift rocket. The Falcon Heavy has been touted as a crucial element of CEO Elon Musk’s ambitious plan to reuse rockets that can fly crew as far away as Mars.

In a tweet, the company said that three first-stage cores have completed their testing, and published a video showing one test in progress. A first-stage core is the section of a rocket that launches and propels it into space. According to the SpaceX website, Falcon Heavy could carry up to 37,000 pounds of cargo and crew to the red planet.

Read more at: CNBC

Asteroid Florence Buzzes Earth in Closest Fly-by Since 1890

A huge space rock named Florence, roughly 4.4 kilometres across, whizzed past Earth at a relatively close 7 million kilometres on 1 September. It is the biggest asteroid to fly near Earth in more than a century.

Astronomers discovered the asteroid in 1981 and named it for Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing. Based on a reconstruction of its historical orbit, astronomers have determined that this fly-by is the closest Florence has come to Earth since 1890. It’s also the biggest asteroid we’ve seen pass this close to Earth since NASA began detecting near-Earth asteroids in 1995.

The rock is highly reflective, as asteroids go, so it was bright enough to be visible in small telescopes for several nights. Astronomers also studied it from Puerto Rico and California using radar imaging. It travelled through the constellations Piscis Austrinus, Capricornus, Aquarius and Delphinus.

Read more at: New Scientist

House-Sized Near Earth Objects Rarer Than We Thought

In 2013 a small meteoroid, the size of a house, hurtled through Earth’s atmosphere and exploded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk. The explosion shattered windows, and more than a thousand people were treated for injuries from flying debris. How many similar-sized rocks have orbits that bring them close to Earth? A new study has answered that question using the Dark Energy Camera (DECam) on the Blanco telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory. The result lends new insights into the nature and origin of small meteoroids.

Near Earth Objects (NEOs) are asteroids or comets whose orbits bring them close to Earth’s orbit. Their close approach makes them a potential Earth-impact hazard capable of causing widespread destruction.

Read more at: NOAO

UAE Space Agency Discusses Challenges and Solutions on First Day of ICAO/UNOOSA Aerospace Symposium

Senior UAE Space Agency officials have delivered speeches on issues related to the space and aerospace sectors at a joint event held by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA). Held in Vienna, Austria, from August 29 to 31, the three-day event provides a platform for discussing the challenges and opportunities surrounding emerging space activities and civil aviation.

H.E. Dr. Mohammed Al Ahbabi, Director General of the UAE Space Agency, delivered a key note speech during the welcoming session, alongside Simonetta Di Pippo, Director of UNOOSA, and  Hajime Yoshimura, President of Air Navigation Commission at the ICAO. The session comes ahead of the UN-UAE High Level Forum in Dubai, which is titled “Space as a Driver for Socio-Economic Sustainable Development” and will be held November 6–9, 2017.

Read more at: Spacewatch ME

ESA Retrieves NASA Astronauts with New Procedure in Wake of Hurricane

Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin and NASA astronauts Jack Fischer and Peggy Whitson returned to Earth this morning after their stay on the International Space Station, landing in the steppes of Kazakhstan. From there, Jack and Peggy flew to ESA’s European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany.

One of the consequences of the devastating hurricane Harvey was the delayed take-off for NASA’s G5 plane out of Houston. In order to cope with this delay and start with postflight science as soon as possible, ESA and NASA worked out an exceptional plan: an ESA plane would retrieve the two NASA astronauts in Karaganda, Kazakhstan, and bring them back directly to Cologne, home of ESA’s astronaut centre. They landed safely in Germany at 14:30 CEST today.

Read more at: ESA

Spaceport Officials to Seek More Funding

Managers of Spaceport America, the state-owned launch facility opened six years ago in the Southern New Mexico desert, will ask to more than double its share of the state’s general fund next year.

While a $1 million appropriation, up from $375,900 this year, would still amount to a small portion of state spending, agency officials, who for years have talked about working toward financial self-sufficiency, acknowledge the budget request could be a big ask from legislators who expected the facility would be sending people into space by now. And it comes after the state has made painful budgets cuts across government and nearly emptied reserves.

Read more at: lcsun

Boron Found on Mars is a Crucial Building Block for Life

The discovery of boron in the Gale Crater on Mars has given scientists a clue to the potential of life having once existed on the Red Planet.

“Because borates may play an important role in making RNA—one of the building blocks of life—finding boron on Mars further opens the possibility that life could have once arisen on the planet,” said Patrick Gasda, a postdoctoral researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico and lead author of a paper published today in Geophysical Research Letters.

The discovery, made in December 2016, marks the second confirmation of boron on the Martian surface.

Read more at: Popular Mechanics

How we’ll Nap Our Way to Mars

Imagine a road trip that lasts six months—no pit stops, black night the whole way. That’s how long it would take you, and how monotonous it would be, to fly to Mars. To avoid the boredom (and its cousins depression and anxiety), you could spend part of your trip in artificial hibernation, or torpor, as it’s medically known. NASA is funding research into this method for future planet hoppers, and not just to reduce the games of I Spy. Because metabolism slows during slumber, you would require less food and water, reducing a mission’s cargo weight, fuel needs, and price tag. Also, you wouldn’t want to kill your crew mates. Here’s how you might go nighty-night and save your sanity on your 34-million-mile flight.

Read more at: Popsci

This spacecraft is Thinner than a Human Hair and can Capture Space Debris

Last year, the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-1A satellite collided with a tiny chunk of debris. Fortunately, the resulting damage to its solar panel turned out to be minor. But it got lucky. If the piece of space trash had been slightly larger, it could have shattered the entire panel, according to Holger Krag, head of the agency’s Space Debris Office who spoke about the incident at this past spring’s 7th European Conference on Space Debris.

Earth’s orbit is littered with bolts, flecks of paint, dead satellites, and other leftovers from past missions. More than 500,000 pieces of space debris hurtle around our planet at speeds up to 17,500 miles per hour. Space trash is accumulating, and scientists fear that collisions will become more common, creating even more debris.

Read more at: Popsci

China, Britain to Promote Space Education

Leading space scientists from Britain and China signed a partnership agreement here on Wednesday which aims to promote and strengthen both sides’ space education and space culture activities.

Under the memorandum of understanding, a new virtual center will be established to lead space education and space culture activities between the two countries. The center will be led by Britain’s National Space Academy and a consortium of Chinese laboratories. In the areas of culture and education programs, it will be supported by the University of Nottingham.

Read more at: Xinhuanet

Tesla and SpaceX Share More Than Musk

Engineers at Tesla Inc. found a quality problem earlier this summer with a cast aluminum auto part that was taking hours to diagnose and fix. They were stumped, so they called in the rocket scientists — literally.

Tesla engineers reached out to their counterparts at Space Exploration Technologies Corp., who recommended the use of ultrasound sensors to isolate the problem. The solution saved Tesla about eight hours of work per car, an eternity on an assembly line aiming to ramp up to mass-market volumes.

Read more at: Bloomberg

How Cats (and Other Good Animals) Helped Pave the Way for Human Spaceflight

All cats are amateur physicists. We know this because they insist on constantly knocking things over to make sure gravity still exists. But just because cats are interested in science doesn’t make them great candidates for space travel. Of course, that didn’t stop the Air Force from putting that to the test.

Archival video footage from 1947 shows researchers at the Air Force’s Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, flying kitties and pigeons on a C-131 aircraft, nicknamed the “Vomit Comet,” that simulated weightlessness through a parabolic flight trajectory.

Read more at: Gizmodo

Astronaut Scott Kelly Explains How ISS is Like Harris County Jail

Before he rocketed off to spend a year in space, one of Scott Kelly’s final acts on Earth was peeing on the back tire of a van. Not because you can’t pee in space (you can—it just requires some suction). It’s tradition: Yuri Gagarin, who made it to space first, did the same thing. In Kelly’s new book, Endurance, the veteran astronaut writes about that and all the other weird practices and rituals and anxieties and safety checks and responsibilities and more safety checks that go into preparing for, and then spending, a chunk of your life in perpetual free fall. The main takeaway: It’s hard. Coffee comes in plastic bags. Space smells funny. There’s never enough chocolate pudding. But these pesky truths, along with some extreme ennui, are something humans will have to confront if we ever hope to pack our bags and move to Mars.

Read more at: Wired

S. Korea, US Deploy Missile Defence Amid China Protest

South Korea and the United States on Thursday completed the deployment of a US missile defence system to counter North Korean threats, sparking demonstrations by residents and a diplomatic protest from Beijing.

A convoy of US military trucks carrying four launchers for the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system made their way through an activists’ blockade at a former golf course in the southern county of Seongju.

Read more at: Spacedaily