New Zealand tech company Rakon’s special frequency-control technology is crucial to the space probe’s historic mission.
New Zealand engineers will be watching closely as a space probe attempts to hitch a ride on a comet streaking by at 66,000km/h early tomorrow morning.
Scientists have waited more than a decade for one of the most audacious space adventures ever – the European Space Agency’s attempt to land a scientific probe on the giant ball of ice and dust known as 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
They’ll find out about 5am tomorrow (NZT) whether their plan will work when the agency’s mission control centre in Darmstadt, Germany, gives its unmanned Rosetta space probe the final go-ahead to drop a lander on the comet.
Colonel Chris Hadfield has signed off after five months as commander of the International Space Station by performing David Bowie’s Space Oddity in zero gravity.
The Canadian handed over command of the ISS to Russian cosmonaut Pavel Vinogradov this morning.
But before returning to Earth, Hadfield performed an evocative version of Bowie’s 1969 hit while floating with a guitar through the ISS.
The stunning video, which has been posted and shared online, is made all the more amazing because of the views of Earth and space through the windows of the ISS.
The lyrics are also perfectly fitting.
‘‘Here I am, sitting in a tin can, far above the world,’’ Hadfield sings.
‘‘Planet Earth is blue … and there’s nothing left to do.’’
Hadfield, the first Canadian to walk in space, left Earth on December 19, 2012, and has spent five month aboard the ISS.
But his tour has not been without incident, including an emergency spacewalk on the weekend to fix an ammonia leak.
Hadfield is due to return to Earth later this week aboard a Russian Soyuz space capsule that will land in Kazakhstan.
The 53-year-old former fighter pilot has become something of an internet sensation during his time in space, posting a series of pictures and videos from the ISS. Among them was a lesson in space station cooking.
He’s also got 775,000 followers on Twitter, thanks to his string of social media updates from the ISS.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has claimed success in his mission to recover Apollo 11 moon mission engines that plunged into the ocean decades ago.
“We found so much,” Bezos said in a blog posting en route to land after three weeks at sea for his Bezos Expeditions project.
“We’ve seen an underwater wonderland — an incredible sculpture garden of twisted F-1 engines that tells the story of a fiery and violent end, one that serves testament to the Apollo program.”
Bezos said many of the original serial numbers from the engines have been eroded, making identification difficult, but that his team would conduct a restoration.
“The objects themselves are gorgeous,” he said.
“We photographed many beautiful objects in situ and have now recovered many prime pieces. Each piece we bring on deck conjures for me the thousands of engineers who worked together back then to do what for all time had been thought surely impossible.”
Bezos said his team would have enough major components to create displays of two flown F-1 engines, and that a restoration would stabilise the hardware and prevent further corrosion.
“We want the hardware to tell its true story, including its 5,000 mile per hour re-entry and subsequent impact with the ocean surface,” he said. “We’re excited to get this hardware on display where just maybe it will inspire something amazing.”
It was not immediately clear when or where the objects might be displayed, but Bezos said when he launched the project last year that he hoped they could be viewed at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington.
The engines that rocketed astronaut Neil Armstrong and his crew toward the moon in 1969 were located deep in the Atlantic Ocean using sophisticated sonar equipment.
Bezos used private funds to raise the F-1 engines from their resting places 14,000 feet (4,267 metres) below the surface of the ocean, even though he has maintained that they remain the property of NASA.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden welcomed the news.
“This is a historic find and I congratulate the team for its determination and perseverance in the recovery of these important artefacts of our first efforts to send humans beyond Earth orbit,” Bolden said in a statement.
“We look forward to the restoration of these engines by the Bezos team and applaud Jeff’s desire to make these historic artefacts available for public display.”