A bit of spaceflight stuff

High above the Earth, the crew of the International Space Station showed off their parking skills as the Soyuz TMA-19 craft that brought up half their number was undocked from the station, spun round and docked again on the new Rassvet module. The reason was the unmanned Progress craft, which will launch on Wednesday, needs to dock where the Soyuz had originally parked in order for its engines to be used as boosters to the ISS native engines to perform an altitude recovery. Footage was broadcast on NASA TV and then archived to their youtube channel:

Things were on the move on the ground too for USA space politics. The White House has published its new National Space Policy (pdf here). The principles highlight international cooperation and the increased role of the private sector, as expected. It also mentions the right to defend allied space systems. Solar Terrestrial physics gets its own little bit in the goals section as Earth and Solar observation are the only specific fields to be mentioned (listening, STFC?). In the Intersector Guidelines section, interesting aspirations include a debris clean up system and collision warning system as well as the use of nuclear power in spaceflight. In the Sector Guidelines section, the creation of a more open space market is mapped out and NASA’s goals, including an asteroid mission by 2025, a Mars mission by the 2030s and operation of the ISS until at least 2020 are mentioned.

Does this mean America won’t be heading back to the Moon? No, according to Discovery, whose article on the matter suggests the Moon is in the sights of the commercial sector the White House aims to invigorate. Meanwhile work towards the goals put out in the document is already ongoing, whether by the Living Planet Symposium run by ESA, looking at Earth Observation missions (pictures here) or through the International Space Exploration Coordination Group, which saw high ranking members of a number of space agencies including NASA meeting to discuss how the Global Exploration Strategy could be turned into concrete plans for interagency cooperation in human and robotic missions exploring the solar system.

There are a few other spaceflight things in the news, like the astronauts of STS-131 reacting to the popularity of their twitter messages from space in this article. NASA Blueshift round up their favourate stories of the week in this blog entry and This Week @ NASA released their latest video, which is shown below:


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