The International Space Station, recently photographed as it passed in front of the Moon, has made use of a new maintenance system in the form of the Dextre robot. The device sits outside of the station and is controlled from the ground, making repairs that would otherwise require a dangerous spacewalk. Dextre failed to remove a Remote Power Control Module, or circuit breaker, from its housing on the first attempt. Ground control are assessing how well the device works in space. Meanwhile, astronaut Caldwell Dyson has become the first to send a message in American Sign Language from the ISS to the ground.
The ISS may have a little competition as Boeing’s recently announced CTS-100 spacecraft aims to supply an inflatable Bob Bigelow space station. Bigelow’s aerospace company has already put stations into space and has been pleasantly surprised by positive results from the prototypes. Now he fears there may be a logjam if he can’t find a taxi system to service them. Boeing on the other hand requires a number of paid for flights to recoup the development of the CTS-100. A youtube video of such an event imagined is below:
This at least puts them a step above the amateur rocketeers shown in this BBC article.
A little further afield, the New York Times has an article on the Messenger mission to Mercury’s recent results.