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Failed Russian Rocket Returns to Earth Over South Pacific

Failed Russian Rocket Returns to Earth Over South Pacific

Meanwhile, US sees success with James Webb Space Telescope and Mars missions.

Checking in on the Space Race this week, Russia had a fail!  One of their rockets has crashed back to Earth after an unsuccessful deployment.

The Angara-A5 heavy-lift rocket was launched from the Plesetsk spaceport in Russia’s northwestern Arkhangelsk region on Monday, December 27. The launch was testing a new upper rocket stage, known as the Persei booster, according to the state-run TAS news agency.
Most space debris burns up on reentry to Earth’s atmosphere and poses an extremely minimal risk to humans, but it’s possible that larger parts could cause damage if they landed in inhabited regions.

But on Wednesday, US Space Command — which had tracked the rocket booster during reentry — said the rocket reentered the Earth’s atmosphere at 2:08 pm MST over the Southern Pacific Ocean. That’s 4:08 pm ET.

It may, however, be impossible to determine exactly where the debris landed.

Reports indicate a malfunction caused the rocket the inability to achieve a proper orbit.

The fall ended nine days aloft for Persei, which got stranded with a dummy payload during a test flight that launched on Dec. 27. Persei apparently dug its own grave, failing to restart as planned for a second engine burn that would have sent it from low Earth orbit to a much higher geostationary perch.

Persei was quite a large piece of space debris. At liftoff, it weighed about 21.5 tons (19.5 metric tons) here on Earth, but most of that was propellant. That fuel was likely vented during the stage’s stay in orbit, so the chunk that fell back to Earth probably tipped the scales at around 3.5 tons (3.2 metric tons), according to Anatoly Zak of

Most of the rocket body almost certainly burned up in Earth’s atmosphere today, according to McDowell, who analyzes publicly available tracking data.

On the other hand, the US has had a good week of success with the James Webb Space Telescope.

The James Webb Space Telescope, which launched on Christmas Day, successfully completed the deployment of its 70-foot (21-meter) sunshield on Tuesday. This critical milestone is one of several that must occur for the NASA observatory to function properly in space, and having achieved it was a big relief for the Webb team.

“Unfolding Webb’s sunshield in space is an incredible milestone, crucial to the success of the mission,” said Gregory L. Robinson, Webb’s program director at NASA Headquarters, in a statement. “Thousands of parts had to work with precision for this marvel of engineering to fully unfurl. The team has accomplished an audacious feat with the complexity of this deployment — one of the boldest undertakings yet for Webb.”

It’s one of the most challenging spacecraft deployments NASA has ever attempted, according to the agency.

Meanwhile, NASA’s Mars helicopter Ingenuity is slated to make its first flight of 2022, which would be an impressive 19th trip for the unit. The past year has made significant gains in our understanding of Mars, courtesy of both Ingenuity and our rovers.

Perseverance is hunting for signs of ancient Mars life in the 28-mile-wide (45 kilometers) Jezero Crater, which harbored a big lake and a river delta billions of years ago. The six-wheeled robot is also collecting and caching samples that will be returned to Earth, perhaps as early as 2031, by a joint NASA-European Space Agency (ESA) campaign.

Perseverance carries 43 sample tubes and has sealed up six of them to date, mission team members have said.

The big rover didn’t travel to Mars alone; it flew with a 4-pound (1.8 kilograms) helicopter named Ingenuity attached to its belly. Shortly after the duo landed, Ingenuity embarked on five pioneering flights above Jezero’s floor, showing that aerial exploration is possible on Mars despite the relative wispiness of the planet’s atmosphere. (Mars’ air is just 1% as dense as that of Earth at sea level.)

That was supposed to be it for the technology-demonstrating Ingenuity. But NASA granted the little chopper an extended mission, and it’s now flying scouting sorties for Perseverance. To date, Ingenuity has performed 18 flights on Mars, racking up more than 30 minutes of air time and covering 2.37 miles (3.81 km) of ground.

…The new arrivals aren’t the only robots studying Mars up close, of course. NASA’s Curiosity rover has been exploring the 96-mile-wide (154 km) Gale Crater since August 2012, for example, and the agency’s marsquake-detecting InSight lander recently marked three years on the Red Planet.

Rounding out the news are images from China’s Mars orbiter Tianwen-1, which snapped a series of ‘selfies’ taken by a small camera that is released into orbit.

Four new images have been released by the China National Space Administration (CNSA), showing Tianwen-1 encircling the Red Planet, to mark the new year.

One shows a full view of Tianwen-1 in space with the Red Planet’s north pole in the background, while another shows an impressive close-up of its reflective gold body and solar antenna wing.

To capture the images, Tianwen-1 jettisoned one of its small cameras, which beamed back its snaps via Wi-Fi.


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Pasadena Peabody | January 7, 2022 at 5:37 pm

“…stranded with a dummy payload…”

Had me scared there for a minute. I thought they were talking about Biden.

Meanwhile, unfortunately, NASA’s Muslim Outreach program seems to have been a complete failure.

So… the Brunswick vigilantes were sentenced today. Bryan got a bad deal but Bubba and Little Bubba got most of what they deserved. Had the prosecution sought the death penalty, they probably could have gotten that, as well. But, as a matter of efficiency and expedience, life + 20, without parole, is probably faster.

Don’t discount the Russians: what they lack in finesse, they’ve always made up in quantity, witness their 50 megaton H-bombs.

If they vaporize Washington DC, all will be forgiven.

The bright side of space junk is that it’s real purdy!
Like the sparkliest meteor ever, but huge and lasts a long time.
I was fortunate enough to be looking in the right direction (from Arizona!) on May 10, 2002 to catch a nice piece falling over Mississippi or thereabouts (I looked it up a couple days later). Had enough time to tell several fellow campers to come see it.

Here is an update on last week’s China complaining about SpaceX hogging earth orbit with it’s Starlink satellites:

Russia is already practicing destroying satellites which explains the incident where ISS had to “shelter in place” to avoid a Russian debris situation a few weeks ago.

Clearly, we are going to be witnessing more of these incidents as government=sponsored competitors desperately try to slow SpaceX down. China and Russia are probably straining to keep up and stealing SpaceX technology is not going to work. Let’s see if failures become more commong.

It’s mostly about innovation now that SpaceX has closed the gap and all China and Russia can do for lack of innovation is play dirty. Even ESA seems to have its nose bent about SpaceX calling for more international cooperation.

(And what’s with that Harvard scientist in the video siding with China? He looks more like Rachel Levine’s “sister”.)

2smartforlibs | January 8, 2022 at 7:11 am

Interesting a story yesterday afternoon said it was going to crash in the Caribbean or the FL coast. See the difference between a liberal and a real site is.