Spacecraft

Photo taken by the LightSail's on-board camera showing part of its solar sail (Photo The Planetary Society)

The Planetary Society declared the success of the mission to test the LightSail solar sail. Started on May 20, 2015 as a secondary payload in the launch of the military shuttle X-37B, the CubeSat-class nanosatellite that contained the solar sail has overcome various problems. Eventually the onboard systems have been tested collecting a lot of data useful for the complete mission scheduled for 2016. A few days ago, the LightSail prototype fell back into the atmosphere, disintegrating.

Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, announced the results of the investigation on the failure of the mission of the Progress M-27M cargo spacecraft. The problem was found to be in the separation system between the spacecraft and the third stage of the Soyuz 2-1a rocket used to launch it. A new Progress mission to bringh supplies to the International Space Station could be scheduled for early July, probably using a Soyuz-U rocket, the version used until recently.

The X-37B shuttle blasting off atop an Atlas V 501 rocket starting its OTV-4 mission (Screenshot from ULA webcast)

The mini-shuttle X-37B blasted off atop an Atlas V 501 rocket from Cape Canaveral. The launch seems to have gone well but ULA (United Launch Alliance), which manages it, broadcat the images providing information on the progress of the operations just for a few minutes. That’s because the mission of this spaceplane is carried out by the US Air Force and is partially covered by military secret.