New Soyuz spacecraft cleared for mission with ESA astronaut

The new Soyuz TMA spacecraft, which will carry ESA astronaut Pedro Duque to the ISS and back in October 2003, has been fully approved for operations. This was announced by Nikolai Zelenshikov, First Deputy President of RSC Energia, at an official briefing in Moscow on 26 May to present the findings of the enquiry commission’s investigation of last month’s ballistic re-entry by Soyuz TMA-1.

NASA funds $173 million auroral satellite mission

NASA has awarded the University of California, Berkeley, a $173 million contract to build and operate a fleet of five satellites to pinpoint the event in Earth’s magnetic neighborhood that triggers violent but colorful eruptions in the Northern and Southern lights. The aurora borealis and aurora australis are shimmering light shows that brighten the polar nights, generated by showers of electrons descending along magnetic field lines onto the poles. These high-speed electrons spark colored lights as they hit the atmosphere, much like a color TV lights up when an electron beam hits the phosphorescent screen.

NASA Email Discussion of Possible Landing Gear Failure Modes

During the STS-107 mission, the review of the potential effects of the debris hit to Columbia?s left wing at ~80 seconds after liftoff resulted in a determination that there should not be any adverse affect on mission safety. On January 28, Tuesday, when the thermal analysis was completed, engineers and flight controllers at the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) responsible for mechanical systems, including the landing gear system, contacted counterparts at the NASA Langley Research Center (LaRC) to get an assessment of potential outcomes in the unlikely event that the landing gear door or wheel well was breached during the orbiter?s reentry into Earth?s atmosphere.

The interchange is typical of what takes place during a mission. Often, the broader NASA community is involved in evaluating potential issues. The Langley engineer identified no new concerns or failure conditions that had not previously been examined by Johnson engineers and flight controllers. For this reason, there was no reason to elevate the points raised in the discussion to the Mission Management Team.

Read Email Exchange (.pdf)