Chris Kraft, Legendary NASA Flight Director, Dies at 95

The man known as the ‘father of flight control’ – Christopher C. Kraft, Jr.  – has died at the age of 95. Kraft joined the NASA Space Task Group in November 1958 and became the first flight director. He created the concepts of mission planning, and real-time monitoring and control for the first U.S. crewed spaceflight missions and became a driving force in the U.S. space program.

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Meet Our Neighbour, The Local Void. Gaze Into It, Puny Humans.

Our planet is part of the larger structure of the Solar System, shaped and made stable by the force of gravity. Our Solar System is gravitationally bound to the Milky Way galaxy, along with hundreds of millions of other solar systems. And our galaxy is also part of a larger structure, where not only gravity, but the expansion of the Universe, shapes and molds that structure. For regular Universe Today readers, none of that is news.

Now a new study sheds some light on a curious part of our cosmic neighbourhood, where there is basically nothing: The Local Void.

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Messier 90 – the NGC 4569 Spiral Galaxy

Welcome back to Messier Monday! Today, we continue in our tribute to our dear friend, Tammy Plotner, by looking at the approaching spiral galaxy known as Messier 90!

During the 18th century, famed French astronomer Charles Messier noticed the presence of several “nebulous objects”  while surveying the night sky. Originally mistaking these objects for comets, he began to catalog them so that others would not make the same mistake. Today, the resulting list (known as the Messier Catalog) includes over 100 objects and is one of the most influential catalogs of Deep Space Objects.

One of these objects is the intermediate spiral galaxy known as Messier 90, which is located about 60 million light-years away in the constellation Virgo – making it part of the Virgo Cluster. Unlike most galaxies in the local group, Messier 90 is one of the few that have been found to be slowly moving closer the Milky Way (the others being the Andromeda and the Triangulum galaxy).

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Starship Prototype Catches Fire After a Recent Test, But Appears Undamaged

The year of 2019 has not been very kind to SpaceX so far. Back in April, the company lost one of its new Crew Dragon capsules when an explosion occurred during a static firing test of their In-Flight Abort test vehicle. Earlier this week, the company revealed that they had determined the cause of the explosion, saying that it was due to a nitrogen tetroxide leak that occurred just prior to the final test.

And now, just a few days later, another accident has occurred, this time involving the Starhopper test vehicle. Once again, a fire occurred shortly after the vehicle conducted an engine test; fortunately, it resulted in no injuries. However, the Starhopper appears to have come through the fire completely unscathed, though it might cause a slight delay with the vehicle’s scheduled hop tests.

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The Lunar Gateway Will be in a “Near-Rectilinear Halo Orbit”

After months of discussion, the space agencies behind the Lunar Gateway have decided how the space station will orbit the Moon. NASA and the ESA are developing the Lunar Gateway jointly, and the orbital path that it will follow around the Moon is a key part of mission design. It’ll affect all the vital aspects of the mission, including how spacecraft will rendezvous and land at the station.

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The Story of the Apollo Guidance Computer, Part 1

Dick Battin stood on his driveway in the New England frosty pre-dawn back in October 1957, straining his eyes to see Sputnik fly overhead. It was amazing. Watching that little point of light scoot silently across the sky made Battin’s heart pound. A human-made hunk of metal was actually orbiting Earth!

Walking back to his house, Battin’s mind raced. Oh, how he wished he’d never left the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory a year and a half ago. He’d regretted it since the day he decided to move on to what he thought were greener pastures. But now, his regret became a steadfast resolve to somehow get back to the Lab again, because he knew – he was absolutely certain without a doubt – that Doc Draper would be getting his hand in this new venture of space exploration. And Battin wanted in, too.

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