Google+ SpaceTravelFoundation: 2015-04-19

April 24, 2015

Ariane 5 ready for Arianespace’s upcoming heavy-lift mission

Dear reader and followers,

Arianespace has delivered another Ariane 5 to the launch zone at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, positioning this workhorse heavy-lift vehicle for tomorrow’s flight with a pair of telecommunications satellites: THOR 7 and SICRAL 2.

The Ariane 5 rolled out yesterday from the Spaceport’s Final Assembly Building to the ELA-3 launch zone, where it is scheduled for liftoff during a launch window that opens on April 24th at 4:38 p.m. local time in French Guiana, or 9:38 Paris time.

Credit image: Ariane Space

For this 78th overall flight of an Ariane 5, the payload lift performance is estimated at 9,850 kg. – which includes a combined total of some 9,000 kg for the two satellites, plus the launcher’s dual-passenger dispenser system and integration hardware.

Riding as the upper passenger in Ariane 5’s payload arrangement is THOR 7, which will be released at approximately 28 minutes into the mission. The spacecraft was built by SSL (Space Systems/Loral) for Telenor Satellite Broadcasting, and will operate from an orbital position of .8 deg. West.

THOR 7 is to serve the maritime sector, delivering high-powered coverage over the North Sea, the Norwegian Sea, the Red Sea, the Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean. Also incorporated in this relay platform is a Ku-band payload for broadcast and television services in Central and Eastern Europe.

SICRAL 2 is a military telecommunications satellite developed in the framework of a turnkey contract that the Italian Defense Ministry and the French DGA armament agency (Direction Générale de l’Armement) have with Thales Alenia Space Italy; while Telespazio is responsible for the launch service. It will be deployed from Ariane 5’s lower passenger position at approximately 34 minutes after liftoff – completing the mission.

After the deployment by Ariane 5, SICRAL 2 – offering a design life of 15 years – will provide strategic and tactical telecommunications links for French and Italian military forces, as well as reserve capacity for other NATO nations.

Tomorrow’s Ariane 5 launch is designated VA222, signifying the 222nd liftoff of an Ariane-series vehicle since 1979. It also will mark Arianespace’s third flight in 2015 with a launcher from its three-member family – following the medium-lift Soyuz mission on March 27 that orbited two European Galileo FOC (Full Operational Capability) navigation satellites, and February 11’s lightweight Vega suborbital flight with Europe’s Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) spaceplane.

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April 20, 2015

Asteroid size of Statue of Liberty 'on collision course with Earth

Dear readers and followers,

an astronomer has claimed an asteroid the size of the Statue of Liberty is on a collision course with earth. Dr Judit Györgyey-Ries, astronomer at the University of Texas' McDonald Observatory, believes the giant rock could create a huge impact when it reaches earth in around October 2017.

Scientists estimate Asteroid 2012 TC4 is around 40 meters wide and could cause even more chaos than the one which hospitalised more than 1,200 people when it exploded over Russia in February 2013 .

Dr Györgyey-Ries told astronomy website "We could see an airburst maybe broken windows, depending on where it hits.

The giant asteroid narrowly missed earth in October 2012 when it passed 94,800 km away. Detlef Koschny, head of the near-earth object segment at the +European Space Agency, ESA , said: "There is a one in a million chance that it could hit us.

"The size was estimated from the brightness, but we don't know the reflectivity. So it could be smaller or larger, assume from 10 to 40 metres.

"A 40m iron object would go through the atmosphere and make a crater; a 10m rocky object would hardly be noticed."

Shock waves from the Russia airburst smashed windows, rattled buildings, and knocked people off their feet, more than 1,200 of whom attended hospital.

Researchers visiting villages in the area found a region of shock-wave damage extending some 50 miles on either side of the meteor's trajectory path.

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