Bill Nye’s LightSail, X Prize next competition and Soyuz crew arriving back on Earth

lewapxc0yiw7pkwj0r4k.jpgHere’s our first look at Bill Nye’s even bigger, higher-flying LightSail

Less than a year after the LightSail cubesat successfully deployed its solar sails in space, the Planetary Society has unveiled its successor, an experimental spacecraft designated LightSail-2.

LightSail-2 is still under development, but if all goes well this prototype solar sail spacecraft will be on board SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket during its first operational flight scheduled for later this year. Eight months ago, its smaller predecessor, LightSail-1 (formerly known as LightSail-A), unfurled its sail after mission controllers overcame some technical problems. Unlike LightSail-1, the new solar sail spacecraft will be placed in a high-enough orbit to allow for actual sailing.

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X Prize planning for next space competition

With its current flagship space competition set to end in less than two years, the X Prize Foundation is starting the planning for its next space-related challenge.

In a Feb. 24 presentation to the Future In-Space Operations working group, Andrew Barton, director of technical operations for the Google Lunar X Prize (GLXP) competition, said the X Prize Foundation is preparing to develop a new space prize to succeed the GLXP.

“X Prize, beyond the Google Lunar X Prize, does want to keep doing this kind of thing,” Barton said. The foundation held a prize design workshop at a recent meeting of teams involved in the GLXP, he said, and plans additional such workshops in the future.

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Soyuz crew arrives back on Earth

ookellyNASA astronaut and Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly and his Russian counterpart Mikhail Kornienko returned to Earth Tuesday after a historic 340-day mission aboard the International Space Station. They landed in Kazakhstan at 11:26 p.m. EST (10:26 a.m. March 2 Kazakhstan time).

Joining their return trip aboard a Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft was Sergey Volkov, also of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, who arrived on the station Sept. 4, 2015. The crew touched down southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan.

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A job opening for a Robotics Engineer, Aurora Flight Sciences (USA). Aurora Flight Sciences is looking for a Robotics and Computer Science Engineer to work on and help architect autonomy software and algorithms for robotics systems in aerospace applications.  The qualifying engineer will have a background in computer science, mechanical engineering, or aero/astro engineering, and experience in software development for control of robotic systems. More information

Contribute to space exploration by participating in the project Astro Pi: devise computer science experiments to be run on board the ISS. There will be opportunities to examine the results of the winning competition experiments, and there will also be a data analysis activity where you can obtain a CSV file full of time-stamped sensor readings directly from Tim Peake. More information


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