Fifty years ago, on March 18th, 1965, Soviet Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov took the first spacewalk. It lasted just twelve minutes and almost ended in a disaster. That's because the vacuum of space caused his pressurized suit to inflate and become rigid, making it impossible for Leonov to re-enter the Voskhod 2 space capsule airlock. The quick thinking astronaut let out some of the precious air from his suit and despite severe decompression sickness, manage to stumble back in and live to tell his harrowing tale.
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On March 28th, US astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko will launch aboard the Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft on a historic mission - a year long visit to the International Space Station. The trip, the first of many that will be undertaken before a manned mission to Mars, is a test to gather information about the psychological and physical effects of extended space travel on the human body.
On December 5th, 2014, NASA scientists got one step closer to their dream of landing humans on Mars with Orion's successful test flight. One of the biggest challenges it overcame was withstanding the dreaded Van Allen radiation belt located 3,600 miles above Earth's surface. Now scientists have to come up with a way to ensure that the humans that will call the spacecraft home during the six-to-nine month long journey to the Red Planet and back, are able to do the same.
With Christmas less than two weeks away, your neighborhood is probably aglow with beautiful lights. However they will pale in comparison to nature's own light show, the Geminids. Though this annual celestial display that has been nicknamed the 900-pound gorilla of meteor showers has been visible since December 4th, their best showing will be on the night of December 13th and the early morning of the 14th, until about 2.00 am local time.
After a day's delay caused by a wayward boat, bad weather, and some technical problems, NASA's next generation spacecraft Orion, blasted off to space from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 7.05 EST on Friday, December 5th. Perched atop a Delta 4 heavy rocket, it soared through the Earth's atmosphere and disappeared into space.
On November 28th, 1964, NASA's Mariner 4 launched off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a historic mission - to carry out the first-ever flyby of Mars. Though it took a little over six months, on July 15th, 1965, the spacecraft successfully entered the Red Planet's orbit and sent back 22 images - providing scientists with the first ever close look at the surface of another planet from deep space. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of this successful mission, crowd-sourced space-themed company Uwingu, ("sky" in Swahili), organized a global shout-out event.
On Wednesday, November 12th, an unmanned spacecraft made history by landing perfectly on its target - a speeding comet that lies at a distance of 310 million miles from earth. According to the European Space Agency (ESA), the brainchild behind this audacious project, the Rosetta space probe that housed the 220-pound washing machine-sized Philae lander, released its passenger to its destination perfectly - not an easy feat given that the Comet 67P was hurtling through space at a speed of 41,000 mph.
Each year around this time, stargazers anxiously await nature's finest fireworks show - the Perseid meteors. The 'fireball' champions of all annual meteor showers have already been streaming through our skies at the rate of about a dozen an hour, for the last few weeks. However, things will really heat up from early August 11th to the 13th, when between ninety to a hundred meteors will come zooming across the skies, making them easy to spot, even with the naked eye.