December 25, 2012

Exploring Space (Source: The Nation)
"I always wanted to be an astronaut and exploring space was in my DNA.” This is how Namira Salim, one of the Founding Members of Virgin Galactic and Pakistan’s first astronaut, talks of her experience. She is also the first Pakistani to reach the North and South Poles and the first Asian to skydive over Mount Everest. Recently, the Pakistan Embassy in the UAE honored her for her services.

She said, “I find my title of ‘First Pakistani Astronaut’ very special… perhaps, it’s even better than being a Princess.” She says her family knew about her passion for space exploration. However, it took them by surprise when they found she wanted to be among the founders of the Virgin Galactic, the world’s first private/commercial spaceline. (12/25)

Soon, Reusable Rockets for Commercial Space Travel (Source: The Hindu)
A private space travel company in US claims to have successfully launched its prototype rocket, in a major step towards producing a reusable space vehicle and slash the cost of journey. California based SpaceX’s Grasshopper reusable rocket took a giant leap for commercial space flight last week when it rose 131 feet and landed safely back on Earth.

The latest launch by the company, which has already run re-supply missions to the International Space Station (ISS), is a major step in their ambition to produce a reusable space vehicle. Vertical-takeoff space vehicles developed thus far rely on disposable lower stages, which add millions of dollars to the cost of launching spacecraft into orbit. Musk declared the launch a success, writing on Twitter: “No problemo”. (12/25)

Turbopump Bearing Blamed For Failed Russian Comsat Orbiting (Source: RIA Novosti)
Russian space agency Roscosmos experts say the destruction of a bearing inside the turbopump of the Briz-M upper stage's engine is the most likely reason for the initial failure of Russia’s Yamal-402 satellite to reach its designated orbit. The satellite was launched from the Baikonur Space Center in Kazakhstan on December 8 but separated from its upper stage four minutes early, failing to reach the desired orbit. Final results of the investigation into the failure will be announced by the end of the year. Roscosmos specialists will now check the condition of all turbopumps. (12/25)

Oddballs: The strange Worlds Beyond Our Solar System (Source: BBC)
In a memorable scene from the film Star Wars, Luke Skywalker looks out over the horizon while two suns set in the sky of his home planet Tatooine. Astronomers have already discovered several "Tatooine" systems, where planets orbit double stars. But this year, a team comprising volunteers and professional astronomers reported finding a planet illuminated by four stars - the first known of its type.

The distant world orbits one pair of stars and a second stellar pair revolve around them. The planet is being tugged on by the gravitational forces from four different stars yet, despite this complicated environment, PH1 is able to maintain a stable orbit. The discovery was made by volunteers using the website along with a team from UK and US institutes. Named PH1 after the website, it is located in the constellation Cygnus. Click here. (12/25)

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