This Week in Space: Sarah Brightman wants to go to into orbit

Remember last month when Space Mountain at Disneyland closed down? The devastating aftermath of the ride’s closing can now come to an end: the Associated Press reports that Space Mountain has since reopened. I guess that means this This Week in Space's temporary hiatus is over as well. On to the space news!

Solar eclipse over Australia this week [Space.com]

It’s always nice when an astral phenomenon doesn’t threaten to destroy the planet. This Thursday and Friday, an annular solar eclipse will occur over Australia and the Southern Pacific Ocean.

In an annular eclipse, unlike other types of solar eclipses, the Moon appears somewhat smaller than the Sun, leaving a bright ring surrounding the silhouette of the Moon. This means that during the eclipse, “the sky will not be noticeably darker to the naked eye at any point,” according to Space.com.

Unfortunately, those of us in North America and Europe won't be able to observe the eclipse directly, but the Slooh SpaceCamera will broadcast the eclipse throughout the day. The folks at Slooh have even put together a short preview for the event:

ESA’s Vega launches satellites into orbit [ESA]

Vega, the European Space Agency’s newest launch vehicle, successfully shot two observation satellites into two separate orbits this week.

This was Vega’s second successful launch after an initial qualification flight in February 2012. During this trip, Vega was able to demonstrate the capabilities of the Vespa (Vega Secondary Payload Adapter), which the ESA say “allows for multiple payloads and their deployment into different orbits.”

As for Vega’s payload, the VNREDSat-1A satellite will monitor the Vietnamese climate and natural resources. Proba-V (the V stands for Vegetation) will “provide a daily overview of global vegetation growth.”

Sarah Brightman challenges Commander Hadfield en route to the ISS [CBS News]

We are unabashedly enthusiastic about Commander Chris Hadfield here at GeekTech. He’s an astronaut, a singer-songwriter, a photographer, and a rather adept Tweeter to top it all off. But a shocking development might put Hadfield’s title of Best Earth-orbiting Singer in jeopardy.

Sarah Brightman, a self-described “Diva” and talented classical singer/dancer/actress, is taking a trip to the International Space Station. In addition to her history in performance arts, she is also a trained cosmonaut.

Although the exact date has not been set, Brightman told CBS News that “a special journey into space will be happening for me in a couple of years.” In case she is considering a duet, “Brightman and the Commander” would be a stellar band name.

[Top photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)]

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