Although not quite the ’12 days of Christmas’ gift inventory’, the following checklist should give us a quick peak at some significant events connected with space that we can look forward to witnessing from early 2015, as well as giving us an opportunity to recall other great space dates whose anniversaries fall on the incoming year.
2015 is the International Year of Light.
This year also marks a century since Albert Einstein published his Theory of General Relativity in 1915, revealing the revolutionary concepts that space and time were one entity and could be warped by gravity starting the road to modern cosmology.
ESA’s reusable ‘Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle’ should perform its first test flight this year .
20 years ago, the Russian space station Mir was visited by NASA’s Shuttle Discovery piloted by the agency’s first female pilot, Eileen M. Collins on the 3-11th February 1995.
Also set for launch on a Falcon 9 rocket all being well sometime in February, is a solar wind observing satellite. Known as the Deep Space Climate Observatory it is destined to take up residence approximately 1.5million km from Earth. Another attempt will be made to land the first stage of its launch vehicle, (a Falcon 9 rocket) with great precision in the Atlantic Ocean on SpaceX’s new floating landing platform.
The Dragon crew capsule by SpaceX and the Crew Space Transportation Capsule (or CST-100) by Boeing will all continue to progress in production as commercial crew vehicles, the ambition being to bring them into their final phases this year.
50 years ago, on March 18th 1965 Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov conducted the first spacewalk as part of the Soviet Union’s Voskhod 2 mission.
In the first half of this year the first all-electric propulsion spacecraft, two Boeing 702SP commsats built for the Eutelsat company will be launched into orbit by SpaceX.
To Infinity and Beyond: With mankind’s desire to venture farther into space than ever before, commencing in the second half of March, cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko and astronaut Scott Kelly will be taking part in a 1-year long experiment on the ISS, testing a few of the operational and physiological aspects of a trip to Mars.
55 years ago Tiros 1, the world’s first effective meteorological satellite, built in the US, was launched into space on the 1st April 1960.
A special dawn in 2015 for Ceres: Launched in 2007 and having already visited Vesta, the solar-electric probe Dawn will visit the dwarf planet as part of its space odyssey through the asteroid belt.
BEAM: this year Bigelow Aerospace’s Bigelow Expandable Activity Module is due to arrive at the ISS where it will undergo a two-year technology demonstration with tests ranging from deployment and structural integrity to acquired radiation dosage.
Quarter of a century on: The coach-sized and still functioning flying optical and infra-red Hubble Space Telescope will have its 25th birthday this year since its launch onboard the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1990.
40 Years on: In July 1975 the first international spacecraft docking occurred when a US Apollo CSM and a Soviet Soyuz successfully rendezvoused. This was the Apollo Soyuz Test Project, a short-lived initiative to explore co-operation in human spaceflight. Today such join enterprises are common.
(Article by Nick Parke, Education Support Officer)