A month in space # 21 | Engineering techniques

What has been going over our heads for a month? More and more tourists in orbit, a thousandth satellite put into orbit by the Ariane Group, and a giant cavity discovered in our galactic neighborhood.

Le tourisme space version Elon Musk

While Blue Origin or Virgin Galactic have already sent their first tourists into space, it was to be expected that SpaceX, Elon Musk’s space company, would react.

It has been done since September 15. The mission, called Inspiration4, allowed four civilians who had participated in a training of several months to board the Crew Dragon capsule, to be propelled by a Falcon 9 rocket, to an orbit of 600 kilometers above our planet. By comparison, the ISS orbits about 440 kilometers above our heads.

The lucky four who took place on this journey of a new kind have evoked and shown, on American television, the objects that they brought for their trip and that will be auctioned upon their return to Earth, all for the benefit of an American hospital.

As usual, Elon Musk didn’t do things by halves. While its competitors Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin offered civilians experiences lasting a few minutes in space, SpaceX offered the four “tourists” a three-day trip to orbit.

During this experiment, the American firm followed the metabolic and biometric data of the crew, for their safety, but also to develop knowledge about the effects of space travel on the body, especially in the future bodies of humans that have not received a extensive training. .

But Elon Musk thinks even more. SpaceX is currently studying the possibility of bringing large numbers of tourists into space, via its giant Starship rocket. An ambition for the moment distant, since SpaceX has postponed this summer the first flight in orbit of its new jewel. As a reminder, a few months ago, Starship had managed to take off and land safely, a world first for a rocket of this size:

Ariane Espace has just put its thousandth satellite into orbit, waiting for Ariane 6

On September 14, aboard a Soyuz launcher, Ariane Espace put 38 satellites of the OneWeb company into orbit, thus exceeding the bar of 1000 satellites put into orbit by the European firm. After 41 years of service, Ariane Espace is now eagerly awaiting the entry into service of the Ariane 6, which will specialize in the launch of satellite constellations. Because without Soyuz, Ariane Espace today would be struggling to maintain her launch rates.

The arrival of the innovative Ariane 6 rocket is generating great expectations across the European group, while the Ariane Group has just announced the elimination of some 600 jobs this year, in France and among our German neighbors.

A giant cavity located at the bottom of the Milky Way.

Between the clouds of Perseus and Taurus, a giant cavity has just been revealed, probably appearing after the explosion of a star. In any case, this is what a study published a few days ago reveals. Located 700 light years from our planet, this empty, spherical cavity serves as a binding agent for the Perseus and Taurus clouds. As the team of researchers clarified, this is the first time, since the two clouds and the cavity could be simulated in 3D, with a precision never seen before. However, this area of ​​space has been studied for decades.

By Pierre Thouverez

Une Image: Screenshot of the report on the space cavity discovered in the Milky Way © AstrophysicalJournalLetters

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