Sounds that RELAX!!!!!!

Those regular readers of my blog will notice, that things have been,how shall I say,somwhat ‘quiet’ on the article front of late. This is due to a personal matter, that for a while had a real effect on my life. I couldn’t do anything that involved any kind of effort, and while I LOVED creating articles, even that was just FAR too much effort.

Even this 1st post back is somewhat of a departure from my normal articles about space news and rocket launches? WHY?

Because I’d like to ask YOU a question

What are the sounds that relax you?
What are the sounds that, when you hear them, gives you a feeling of relaxtion and wellbeing?
After a hard day at work, what are the sounds, that when you hear them, make the tension simply ‘wash away’?

Over the last few months,sounds that helped me relax have included:

– Birds chirpping in a forest
– The sound of the sea lapping against the beach
– Wind in the trees
– Water in a stream

Relaxtion has had a very important part to play in the life recently, and I’m interested in what sounds make YOU relax; feel in control.

Join the discussion below….

Many Thanks,


SES-5 launch on Proton rocket postponed

The launch of an ILS Proton launch vehicle with the SES-5 satellite was postponed today (19th June 2012) due to technical reasons with the launch vehicle.

Proton rocket to carry SES-5
Proton rocket to carry SES-5

On June 18th, Khrunichev engineers at the launch site received an out of tolerance telemetry reading on a first stage subsystem during pre-flight testing. However, based on additional pre-flight testing performed on June 19, it was determined that further investigation is necessary, requiring the launch vehicle be returned to the processing hall for additional testing.

It has been emphasised that the vehicle and satellite remain in a safe configuration at the launch site.

SES-5 satellite
SES-5 satellite

The launch date will be determined at a later time.

Proton ILS rocket launch postponed as fault found in Breeze-M upper stage

A proton rocket launch carrying a SES communications satellite was cancelled today after engineers testing the rocket spotted an anomaly in the Breeze M upper stage.

The upper stage will now be replaced. This will involve removing the rocket from the launch pad, and replacing the defective component(s). This will involve a delay of at least 25 days…

Poised to be the largest satellite in the SES fleet, and replacing an existing NSS-7 satellite, the SES-4 will enhance what is already the largest neighborhood in the Atlantic. SES-4 will be a hybrid satellite featuring high powered C-band coverage and incremental global capacity which is ideal for video distribution, government and VSAT services. The satellite’s Ku-band payload will provide enhanced coverage and capacity across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Western Africa and Latin America.

SES-4 is the largest satellite ordered by SES to date, weighing 6,180 kg. Satellite Mission Lifetime is designed to be 15 Years.

No new launch date has been provided by the ILS (international Launch Services) launch team.

*** UPDATE 28th December 2011 ***

ILS (international Launch Services) have just announced that the SES-4 communication satellite will be launched on the 21st January 2012 from the Baiknour Cosmodrome.
more to follow

This week in Space 12th-19th November 2011

Soyux TMA-22

After a successful launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, the Soyux TMA-22 carrying two cosmonauts and an astronaut successfully docked to the Poisk Module on the Russian section of the International Space Station (ISS) on the 16th November.
TMA-22 docks with International Space Station

Top Row from left: Satoshi Furukawa, Mike Fossum, Sergei Volkov

Docking occurred at 05:25 GMT/UTC. The new crew of Russians Anton Shkaplerov,Anatoly Ivanishin and American Dan Burbank will now conduct handover activities with the current crew (see image above) who plan to leave the International Space Station, after a 6 months stay, on Monday 21st November.

Shenzhou 8

After being docked together for 12 days, the Chinese Shenzhou 8 spacecraft successfully undocked from Tiangong 1 on the 14th November 2011. After around 30 minutes, the crafts then re-docked in a much more hazardous conditions. The Chinese space agency said both the undocking and subsequent re-docking procedures went very well, and lays the groundwork for China to have an orbital space station in orbit by around 2020.

After the successful second docking, Shenzhou 8 undocked from the Tiangong 1 spacecraft and landed successfully in the Mongolian grasslands on 17th November 2011.

It was then transported to Beijing by rail, before being returned to the China Academy of Space Technology via military escort.

Shenzhou 8 transported by rail
Shenzhou 8 transported by rail

Shenzhou 8 Being returned to China Academy of Sciences
Shenzhou 8 Being returned to China Academy of Sciences

Pictures: Credit: CNTV

Hopes fade for Phobos-Grunt probe

It appears that despite all efforts from ground stations from around the world, no contact has been possible with the Phobos-Grunt probe. After an initially text book launch on the 8th November, the probe has resolutely refused to communicate with ground based stations.
Phobos Grunt launches in text book style

The initial problem was the non firing of the fregat upper stage engines that would have sent it on a trajectory towards Phobos(a Martian Moon). Russian rocket scientists had hoped to communicate with the probe to determine exactly the cause of the upper stage failure, but despite extensive attempts, no contact has been made with the probe. Without contact from the probe, scientists are unable to determine the exact nature of the fault, and also have no way of sending commands to the probe to instruct its engines to fire.
Russians give up hope on Phobos-Grunt mission

One positive point, in this whole mess. The orbit of the probe (which is carrying between 10-13 tonnes of highly toxic chemicals and a small radioactive payload) seems to be deteriorating less than had been initially predicted. This suggests that the probe is either leaking propellant, or that the rockets on board are in some way maintaining its orbit.
The launch window to allow the probe to get to Phobos closes on November 21st. Russian scientists have tentatively proposed that if the engines can be fired AFTER then, that it could perhaps conduct its mission by landing on the Moon instead of Phobos. This story was reported in Ria Novosti. At this stage though, without contact from the probe, even THIS looks unlikely. If contact, cannot be made with the probe, it is estimated it will re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere in December or January of 2012.

NASA looking for new astronauts

If you have dreamed of joining the Astronaut Corps, now is the time to apply. NASA is continuing space exploration programs that will include missions beyond low Earth orbit. Some kind of degree is supposed, followed by at least 3 years of related, professional experience OR at least 1,000 hours pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft. Unfortunately, only US citizens can apply. For more information see, NASA Astronaut recruitment page

Euro SpaceTweetup

After the ESA’s highly successful 1st spacetweetup in Cologne (of which I atteneded), ESA is having another!! The European Space agency is inviting 20 Twitter followers of the Mars500 mission to a SpaceTweetup in Rome, Italy on the 6th December 2011. The purpose is to invite people who have followed the Mars500 mission throughout its 520 days to have the chance to meet @diegou and @Romain_Charles in person. Further details of the tweetup, including how to register, can be found HERE

Hypersonic test flight

An Advanced Hypersonic Weapon (AHW) demonstrator took off from the island of Kauai on a three-stage rocket booster at 1:30 AM local time yesterday, and splashed down close to its target coordinates some 2,400 miles away at the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll. This is the first successful test of a hypersonic weapon, after a series of unsuccessful test, the latest conducted earlier this year. Pentagon statement

Next week

China plans to launch 2 Satellites into space on the 25th November, although rumours persist that the launch may occur a few days earlier. I will keep you posted.

The Soyuz TMA-02M craft carrying Satoshi Furukawa, Mike Fossum, Sergei Volkov will undock from International Space Station on Monday @ 5:58 PM EST. It will land in Kazakhstan @ 9:24 pm.

It has been announced that the launch of the Mars Curiousity has been delayed by a day, to allow time for the team to remove and replace a flight termination system battery. Launch is now scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 26 Sat, 19 Nov 2011 at 10:02 a.m. EST (15:02 GMT/UTC). The launch window lasts one hour and 43 minutes. Rollout of the Atlas V rocket to the launch pad is now scheduled for Friday, Nov. 25; also a day later.