This Month in SpaceFlight – June 2020


Behind The News: SpaceX Is Go! NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley will launch atop a Falcon 9 rocket, in a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, on 27th May, in the first human-crewed launch from American soil since the decommissioning of the Space Shuttle.




Boeing’s Starliner Still Marks Time:

Boeing will fly a second uncrewed test of its Starliner spacecraft before a human-crewed launch, to demonstrate the spacecraft’s capabilities.




Deep Space Mining: Dr Scott Pace, Deputy Assistant to the President and Executive Secretary of the National Space Council, has declared that “Americans should have the right to engage in the commercial exploration, recovery, and use of resources in outer space”, supporting President Donald Trump’s executive order on access to the natural resources of the solar system.



The Quiet Earth: David Baker tells us how the Covid-19 lockdown has made a huge difference to the environment and wildlife – and enabled scientific data to be gleaned in a way not possible pre-lockdown.




Top marks for Perserverance: Final preparations have been continuing, despite the coronavirus restrictions, for the launch of NASA’s Mars 2020 spacecraft, carrying the Perseverance rover to the Red Planet.




The Rover Returns: Dwayne Day and Van R. Kane discuss the imminent realisation of a long-held dream – the return of material from the surface of Mars, in which a rover will take samples and load them aboard a rocket vehicle for return to Earth, where analysis techniques which cannot be performed on a lander can be brought to bear on the search for life on Mars.


Remembering Al Worden: We say farewell and bid salute to a true friend, Apollo 15 Command Module Pilot and BIS Honorary Fellow Colonel Al Worden, who died at the age of 88 on 18th March 2020. Whilst spending three days alone in orbit around the Moon, Al surveyed the landing site of his crewmates from orbit, mapped a quarter of the surface of the Moon, and conducted scientific observations while in orbit. On the return trip to Earth, Al made the first EVA in transit between Earth and Moon. Al Worden was a hard working advocate for Space and STEM education, and a very good friend of the British Interplanetary Society. He will be deeply missed.


Our Usual Features: The regular ISS Report and Satellite Digest continue, along with Space Models and Gamer’s Corner, and news of how the Society is continuing its lecture program on-line during the Covid-19 emergency.




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