The International Space Station springs a leak (and other space stories you missed)
In case you missed it, Commander Chris Hadfield and his crew made their way back to Earth Monday night after two months aboard the International Space Station, and the Canadian Space Agency streamed it live. It was quite the homecoming—be sure to check out the recording.
As if the spacefaring crew on the International Space Station couldn’t get any more rad, two NASA astronauts were tasked with conducting a spacewalk in order to investigate an ammonia leak detected last Thursday.
Although the crew was never in any immediate danger because of the leak, the ammonia on the ISS controls the cooling system, and left unattended, the leak could have caused problems down the road.
Thankfully, after five and a half hours outside the ISS, it appears that astronauts Chris Cassidy and Tom Marshburn managed to solve the problem, just in time for Marshburn, Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko, and Commander Hadfield to make their way back to Earth.
There has been a lot of talk lately concerning space colonies and long journeys to Mars, but a majority of these ventures won’t see the light of day for nearly a decade. On the other hand, Virgin Galactic has hired a former NASA astronaut to take tourists into orbit as early as this year.
As we’ve previously reported, SpaceShipTwo completed a successful test flight last month over the Mojave Desert, and Virgin Galactic will continue to test it until the pilots and the spacecraft are ready for suborbital trips with passengers.
If are at all interested in experiencing temporary weightlessness, it might be time to start saving your pennies...and selling your house: A trip into space will cost $200,000. Surprisingly, over 500 prospective space-farers have already signed up for flights. That’s one expensive pre-order.
In 1973, NASA sent Skylab—the first American space station—into orbit. NASA made only three manned missions to Skylab during the station’s six years in orbit, but during that time, astronauts conducted hundreds of experiments and over 40 hours of spacewalks.
Skylab’s inevitable re-entry also captured the interest of the world when NASA announced the station would disintegrate in orbit and debris could land virtually anywhere. 40 years after Skylab made its way to space, it is incredible to see just how far we’ve come.