This Week In Space, December 14th, 2009

Geek Culture

Soyuz Spacecraft (Image from NASA via Wikimedia Commons)Soyuz Spacecraft (Image from NASA via Wikimedia Commons)

Soyuz Spacecraft (Image from NASA via Wikimedia Commons)

Welcome to another addition of This Week In Space! Last week, we reported on the upcoming launch of the WISE observatory. The launch, scheduled for this past Friday, was delayed till this morning and is expected to launch ~14:09 GMT (09:09 EST). For more information about the WISE mission, check out the GeekDad article by Lonnie Morgan, and this excellent story by Ron Cowen in Wired Science. The other planned launch of the week, the Helios 2B launch was scrubbed and the new launch window has not been set. There was an unexpected launch last week. A Chinese remote sensing satellite was launched from the Jiuquan Space Center in the People’s Republic of China. The launch occurred on December 9 at 08:42 GMT.

Let’s take a look at the activities for this week.

Launches (Sources: Spaceflight Now World Launch Schedule, Wallops Flight Facility Daily Range Schedule)

Monday December, 14 –
Launch Site: Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan
Launch Vehicle: Proton
Payload: 3 Glonass Navigation Satellites
Launch Window: 10:38 GMT
Notes: Three new satellites for the Russian navigation satellite constellation.

Launch Site: Vandenburg Air Force Base, California, USA
Launch Vehicle: Delta II
Launch Pad: SLC-2W (Map View)
Payload: WISE
Launch Window: 14:09-14:23 GMT
Notes: The launch of the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission.

Sunday December, 20 –
Launch Site: Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan
Launch Vehicle: Soyuz Rocket
Payload: Soyuz SpacecraftISS-22 S
Launch Window: 21:51 GMT
Notes: Bringing three new crew members to the ISS as a part of Expedition 22.

Interesting Hubble Observations

In many ways, all of the Hubble observations are interesting, but here is a list of some of the standouts in the coming week. A more complete list can be found at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) This Week On HST Website.

The Architecture of Exoplanetary Systems

Bright Galaxies at z>7.5 with a WFC3 Pure Parallel Survey

Watching Young Planetary Nebulae Grow: The Movie

This is a small list of the overall observations. You may also see some of these observations popping up in other weeks as many observation programs consist of several observations over time.

International Space Station

As noted in the launch list above, a Soyuz spacecraft will launch a crew of three to the ISS at the end of the week. The crew will dock a couple days later with the ISS and bring the outpost’s total complement to five. Check out the science and other activities going on aboard the ISS. Don’t forget to check out when the ISS will be visible over your area this week!

Virgin Galactic

This past week, Virgin Galactic unveiled SpaceShipTwo and christened the craft the VSS Enterprise. The Enterprise is expected to start taking passengers on sub-orbital flights as early as 2011 and will be operated out of Virgin’s spaceport in New Mexico.

Other Space News

This week the American Geophysical Union (AGU) will hold their fall 2009 meeting in San Francisco with over 16,000 expected participants. There will be space oriented organizations involved as a great deal of research is accomplished through partnerships with space agencies and space-based observations. You can follow news from the AGU though the Twitter account @theAGU.

Have a great week everyone!

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