Space roundup

The failed Phobos-Grunt spacecraft ended its mission earlier today, splashing down in the Pacific seven hundred miles west of the island of Wellington. Glad to know no one was hurt by any falling debris.

This article from the Huntsville Times had Mr. RFH shouting in anger. The J-2X engine won’t be ready for the first SLS flight in 2017. Not ready in FIVE years?!? After it’s already been in development since 2007? This makes no sense, considering we’ve had a successful engine test for 500 seconds. The only thing I can figure is that maybe the propulsion numbers aren’t working out for the 70 metric ton lift requirement. I dunno. In the meantime, they are likely to buy Pratt & Whitney RL-10’s.

The crew on the International Space Station has been installing hardware and software to handle the planned February 7th launch of SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft. The day after launch would include rendezvous and communications tests, the following day would be the attempt at capture and berthing. The hardware includes a Crew Command Panel and accompanying UHF communications unit which will allow the crew to control the Dragon rather than rely on ground communications. They can get better telemetry, turn the strobe lights on and off, and if need be, abort the rendezvous. I have my fingers crossed for a successful launch – we need the commercial resupply vehicles if we are going to keep ISS flying.