Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Spacey Month of May

As the crew of Atlantis prepares to come back to Earth tomorrow following their successful Hubble Servicing Mission (weather permitting), I received an email from JPL inviting me to register for a Hubble Educator Conference to be held at JPL the weekend of May 30-31. Unfortunately I can't make it, but the email also reminded me of what a "spacey" month May is turning out to be:
  • Shuttle Atlantis (STS-125) successfully launched and completed Hubble Servicing Mission-4.
  • Astronomical observatory satellites Herschel and Planck were successfully launched by a European Ariane 5 booster.
  • A Russian supply spacecraft arrives at the International Space Station (ISS).
  • At the end of the month a Russian Soyuz will bring three more astronauts/cosmonauts to ISS to join the three onboard for the first crew of six. The station will be truly international with a crew of two Russians, an American, a Canadian, a Japanese and a European Space Agency astronaut (from Belgium).
  • The Spitzer Space Telescope, one of the "Great Observatories" like Hubble, used up the last of its coolant as expected, and began its "warm mission" to look at near-Earth objects and extrasolar planets.
Quite an eventful month in space!

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