Astronautical NewsWe have featuring daily news from the world of astronautics every day since August 2008.
The long-term aim is to include news from the entire history of spaceflight, from the scientific papers which established a project, through development, launch, commissioning, operations to decommissioning.
News from space is a crowded market and so we aim to feature more news from emerging space-faring companies and countries than other sources.
Use the form at the top of every page to find information about a particular mission.
Voskhod 2Commander Pavel Belyayeu and Pilot Alexei Leonov of the Soviet Union were launched into Earth orbit aboard Voskhod 2. Alexei Leonov performed the first, tethered space walk outside of his spacecraft. This historic venture into space lasted a mere 12 minutes.
First human in spaceOn 12 April 1961 the first human being escaped the gravity of Earth. In the spaceship Vostok 1, Senior Lieutenant Yuri Alexeyevich Gagarin orbited earth once at an altitude of 302 kilometres for 108 minutes. He was the first person to see that Earth was indeed round, indeed mostly water, and indeed magnificent.
Vanguard IOn 17 March 1958, the second American satellite, Vanguard I, was launched into orbit with life expectancy, until Earth re-entry, of a 1,000 years. It was a highly successful scientific satellite which proved that the Earth is shaped slightly like a pear.
Operating on solar-powered batteries, it was still transmitting after 3 years in orbit. It was however the first major piece of space debris, and like all the others, has to be plotted and avoided by subsequent missions.
Japan Aerospace Exploration AgencyOn October 1, 2003, an independent administrative institution, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), was established through the integration of 1) the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA), committed to the development of large-size launch vehicles such as the H-IIA, satellites and the International Space Station; 2) the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS), devoted to space and planetary research; and 3) the National Aerospace Laboratory (NAL), dedicated to research and the development of next-generation aerospace technologies.
Mariner 10The first probe to Mercury, Mariner 10, arrived at the planet. Mariner 10 eventually made three fly-bys of Mercury from 1974 to 1975 before running out of attitude control gas. The probe revealed Mercury as a heavily cratered world with a mass much greater than thought. This would seem to indicate that Mercury has an iron core which makes up 75% of the entire planet.
Eilene Galloway (1906-2009)It is with sadness that we note the passing of Eilene Marie Galloway on 2 May 2009. She had been recently diagnosed with inoperable cancer and lived her final days at home surrounded by family and friends. Monday 4 May would have been her 103rd birthday.
In the 15 May 2006 U.S. Congressional Record, in honour of her 100th birthday, Rep. Bart Gordon, chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee, called Dr Galloway "an influential force in the development and analysis of domestic and international space law and policy."
Born less than three years after the Wright brothers’ first powered flight, Eilene Galloway was a 1928 Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Swarthmore College.
She had worked with the Congressional Research Service of the United States Library of Congress in 1941, researching and writing House and Senate documents including "Guided Missiles in Foreign Countries" in 1957.
Dr Galloway was asked by the Senate after the launching of Sputnik to write the report on its impact to the United States.
On 29 July 1958, President Dwight Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act, leading to the birth of NASA. She was solely responsible for Section 205 on international cooperation in the Act.
On Galloway’s advice, the original proposal for a National Aeronautics and Space Agency was changed to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Dr Galloway had been pivotal in helping to write the legislation, emphasizing international cooperation and peaceful exploration. She later served on nine NASA Advisory Committees, and continued to do so until 2003
In the 1960s, she was America’s representative in drafting treaties governing the exploration and uses of outer space, helping launch the field of international space law.
Dr Galloway worked for several decades with the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN-COPUOS) and was also instrumental in creating the International Institute of Space Law, which serves as the forum for legal scholars and others from around the world in studying and debating the legal issues associated with the exploration and utilisation of space.
Dr Galloway received a NASA Public Service Award in 1987 "for her outstanding achievements of advising the Congress on legal and technical aspects of outer space, and for further services to the United Nations and other international organisations in helping to develop a rational basis for international space law."
In 1999, Eilene Galloway was awarded flag and crew emblems of the International Space Station "in appreciation for serving the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the nation as a member of the Advisory Committee on the International Space Station, and for your invaluable contribution in making the dream a reality."
In March this year, she wrote a paper "Space Law for a Moon-Mars Program", published in Space News.
Lunar Photographic AtlasOn 1 April 1958, a lunar photographic atlas was begun.
A $61,000 contract was signed by the Yerkes Observatory, University of Chicago, and the United States Air Force. Gerard P. Kuiper, principal investigator, was to produce a new lunar photographic atlas. The moon’s visible surface would be divided into 44 areas, and each would be represented by at least four photographs taken under varying lighting conditions.
First European Space Debris ConferenceOn 7 April 1993, the First European Space Debris Conference was held in Darmstadt, Germany. It gathered together 251 world experts from 17 countries including China, India, Japan, Russia and the USA.
The main conclusions of the conference were that ground based observations with radar and optical facilities revealed the existence of about 7000 objects in space, which did not represent an immediate danger. However, adequate actions had to be taken in order to keep the debris hazard for manned and unmanned missions within safe limits.
Apollo 13 launchOn 11 April 1970, NASA launched Apollo 13. NASA intended Apollo 13 to be the third mission to land on the Moon.
An explosion in one of the oxygen tanks crippled the spacecraft during flight and with the famous understatement reporting the issue, "Houston, we’ve had a problem", the crew were forced to orbit the Moon and return to the Earth without landing.