Half-way through the year and only 3 entries here! My former enthusiasm has really slackened off.
The final flight of the Space Shuttle program, STS-135 Atlantis, landed safely on 21/7 after a mission to the ISS. There has been 30 years of Shuttle missions (¾ of my life). Now Russia will be the sole means of transport to the space station until the U.S. develops its next generation of transport, either by NASA or commercial companies. Exactly what this may be seems uncertain (I have not been following the heated forum debates much) – the current NASA version seems to be the Space Launch System. I am dubious as to whether commercial companies can develop spaceflight quickly as this is a difficult and expensive endeavour.
“Russians: ‘It’s our space age now’ ”, Cosmic Log, 23/7. A translation of a Roskosmos article about the Shuttle retirement is causing some ire (see NASA Watch entry) because the tone of the article appears gloating. It’s unfortunate if that is the case, though one commenter points out: “you have to be aware that russian is a harsh language, so a literal translation may come across as saying one thing, but in reality, they are saying something with a far different tone.”
The Mars-500 crew are still enroute home. They have been in “flight” 415 days, and only have around 4 months to go! (The experiment finishes sometime in November; there is no set date yet.) That period of time has gone swiftly for me, as years seem to do now; I wonder if their perception of time is similar.
The Russian Space Agency Roskosmos got a new head or chief on 29 April: Vladimir Popovkin, formerly the First Deputy Minister of Defense, replacing Anatolii Perminov.