Spaceflight stuff

With the final launch of Atlantis on mission STS-132 to the International Space Station, articles related to the mission are coming through thick and fast. One example is this article from Space.com listing “7 cool things you didn’t know about the space shuttle Atlantis”. Some pretty big assumptions about their reader there… Meanwhile ESA are proving that the ISS costs an arm and a leg – or at least an arm. The European Robotic Arm will have a spare section sent up to the station with other cargo that includes the Mini Research Module 1. ERA will itself be launched to the station in 2012 as part of Russia’s Multipurpose Laboratory Module. Atlantis is also carrying the MLM airlock, a portable work platform and an MLM radiator. The arm will be the second arm of the station, Canadarm-2 has been in lone operation for the past decade. ERA is a double handed arm, with either end capable of working as the base of the device or the hand. This enables it to walk about the section of the station it will be working on. It can be controlled from inside or outside the ISS.

As well as the future of the ISS in terms of mechanical parts, the next humans ESA intends to put into orbit have been going through their paces. A shot from zero-g training has been uploaded here to ESA’s Flickr account.

Some video now from the earlier tests of NASA’s new Pad Abort 1 system. This is the tower that sits on top of a capsule (in this case originally an Orion capsule) on top of a rocket. The tower lifts the capsule away, should there be problems with the rocket at the point of launch. The video is here.

And finally, do you think you have an idea of how to use satellite navigation to create a successful business? The European Satellite Navigation Competition, one partner to which is the Technology Transfer Programme Office of ESA, offers prizes totalling one million euros to those that do have such an idea. Ten thousand euros and the use of ESA facilities to develop a business is the kind of prize on offer. More details of year seven of the competition, which has begun and will accept ideas until the end of July, are here.

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