Breaking Atmo – March 2019

Engineering Space & Astronomy Technology

Here Be Dragons!

SpaceX’s Dragon capsule splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean, Photo via NASA

Last week saw the successful launch, on-orbit operations, including docking with the ISS, and landing of SpaceX’s Demo 1 test of the crewed Dragon capsule. This is one of the final milestones before a crewed launch and the return of crewed flights from Kennedy Space Center/Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Pi Day Launch

Expedition 59 Crew, Photo via NASA

At 3:14 EST on March 14th, Astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch with Cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome on a Soyuz. (Is that a p2 launch?) If Hague’s and Ovchinin‘s names look a bit familiar, they are the crew that attempted to launch to the ISS on October 11, 2018, but an issue with the Soyuz rocket cause an inflight abort. Check out NASA HQ’s Flickr stream for some great launch pictures! Koch and Anne McClain will be the first all-female Extra Vehicle Activity (EVA or spacewalk) team. They were not the originally planned pair for the EVA. The maintenance was planned for after the October 11 abort, and it was postponed because the ISS is not at a full 6 person crew compliment. Thus we get a historic end to Women’s History month this year. The EVA can be watched on NASA TV on March 29th. (I could not find a time.)

Expedition 59 Launch from Baikonur. Photo via NASA


In addition to SpaceX’s Demo 1 test flight, there are several other test launches coming up!

April – Boeing’s Starliner will undergo a test very similar to Demo 1.

June – Both NASA’s Orion Capsule and SpaceX’s Dragon Capsule will have Launch Abort tests to verify the capsules can be safely pulled away from the booster in the event of an emergency.

July – SpaceX Demo 2, the Dragon will fly with a crew to the ISS.

August – Boeing Crew Flight Test, the Starliner will fly with a crew to the ISS.

More info on the commercial crew efforts and launch info can be found on NASA’s website.

So Long From Opportunity

Opportunity’s final panorama, Photo via NASA / JPL-Caltech / Cornell / ASU

NASA has released the last images taken by the Opportunity rover. Check out this amazing panorama.

Opportunity’s final image transmission, Photo via NASA / JPL-Caltech / Cornell / ASU

The rover that could was transmitting pictures right up to the end and even transmitted a final message. NASA’s Mars mission website has a lot of great pictures and information. Check it out!

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