The Thirty Minute Blogger

Exploring Books and the Writer's Life, Faith and Works, Culture and Pop Culture, Space Science and Science Fiction, Technology and Nostalgia, Parenting and Childhood, Health: Physical and Emotional ... All Under the Iron Hands of the Clock and That 30 Minute Deadline

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Walking on Space Science's Wild Side

Rosetta and Philae lander almost at comet. Image Courtesy of ESA

There are three organizations walking on space science's wild side right now, making current events fun to watch. As of this writing at 6:30 am EST, the Philae lander from the Rosetta comet chaser is descending toward what could be a historic first ever landing on a comet. The little lander has a combination of rocket thruster (whose functionality is currently in doubt), harpoons to snag the comet's surface, and landing screws to draw Philae close to the surface of comet Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. That will or won't take place ... and we will know the results of the attempt ... around 11 this morning. Here's hoping more history is made today. 

Follow along with the webcast at: 
Webcast live from mission control: http://new.livestream.com/esa/cometlanding

Meanwhile, SpaceX will be trying to land their Falcon 9 first stage with landing legs on a massive platform in the ocean. The seafaring platform will measure 300 feet by 170 feet. This is the next step in proving that SpaceX can create entirely reusable rockets with each piece returning to dry land on pillars of flame and landing legs. When they will try this, and whether their floating football field exists yet, I cannot say. But this reminds me of those old high diving cartoons where the diver is at the top of some crazily high platform attempting to jump into a small glass of water. Great stuff! Let's see if it works. For more, see: http://www.space.com/27538-spacex-reusable-rocket-test.html To keep an eye on SpaceX news, see: http://www.spacex.com/news

NASA rolls out the Orion space capsule. Image Courtesy of NASA

Finally, NASA has the Orion human flight space capsule headed out to the rocket, ready to bring the two together for an unmanned, experimental launch to see if the Orion capsule really is spaceworthy and ready to take us out farther than humanity (not our robots, but our fragile selves) out beyond the orbit of the moon. This is also wild and exciting rocketry that will hopefully inspire future generations into space science and the great beyond, the big empty, the black as various science fiction shows and books have called space. Here's hoping all these walks on the wild side work and our space future is so bright we gotta wear shades.

UPDATE: Wednesday, at 11:03 AM EST, Philae had landed on the comet over 300 million miles out from earth. She may have bounced once and landed twice, but she's there! Never in history has such a thing been done before and it took international cooperation to make it happen (see, people, we naked apes really can work together)! It was lucky that robotic probe had three landing systems because two failed. The thruster designed to fire and affix Philae to the comet failed and the harpoon system never functioned. But the screws in the landing feet did their job and Philae now rides a volatile comet. Congrats to the ESA for making some pretty wild space history.

No comments: