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## SpaceX successfully launches Falcon 9 rocket months after explosion

SpaceX launched its first rocket since a big explosion last year, when one of the private spaceflight’s rockets annihilated a $200m satellite in a spectacular and costly setback. ● Saturday’s launch was SpaceX’s first since September, when a Falcon 9 rocket exploded on its launchpad at Cape Canaveral in southern Florida. ● The explosion destroyed the rocket and its payload, an Amos 6 communications satellite that Facebook wanted to use to provide internet to parts of Africa. ● The accident grounded SpaceX’s fleet of reusable rockets, which had been steadily building a record of landings. ● On Saturday the Falcon 9 rocket landed successfully on a barge in the Pacific Ocean, the first landing on a new drone ship there, prompting the engineers to burst into cheers. ● Commissioned by the telecom company Iridium, the rocket carried 10 communications satellites into space, the first of an intended satellite “constellation” the Virginia-based tech giant means to use to replace its current global network of phone and data relays. ● Iridium has contracted SpaceX for$468m over seven launches.

## NASA to send first African-American to space station in 2018

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on 4 January 2017 announced the assignment of veteran astronaut Andrew Feustel and first-flight astronaut Jeanette Epps to missions aboard the International Space Station in 2018.
●    Epps will become the first African-American space station crew member when she launches on her first spaceflight in May 2018.
●    Feustel will launch in March 2018 for his first long-duration mission.
●    He will serve as a flight engineer on Expedition 55.
●    Later, he will be assigned as commander on Expedition 56.
●    On the other hand, Epps will join Feustel as a flight engineer on Expedition 56, and remain on board for Expedition 57.
●    Jeanette Epps was selected by NASA in 2009 as an astronaut.
●    She served as a CIA technical intelligence officer for seven years before being selected as a member of the 2009 astronaut class.

## China launches Telecommunication Technology Test Satellite

China has successfully launched a telecommunication technology test satellite from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in southwest China's Sichuan Province.
●    The satellite was launched late last night by a Long March-3B carrier rocket, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
●    China plans to conduct a "record" number of 30 space launch missions this year as part of its efforts to expand its ambitious space programme.
●    The record-breaking number space launches will be launched by Long March-5 and Long March-7 rockets, China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation said earlier.
●    Long March-5 is China's largest carrier rocket.
●    The successful test launch of the vehicle in November in South China's Hainan Province will pave the way for space station construction.

## Earth-like snow, ice features found on Pluto

Scientists have found evidence of Earth-like snow and ice features on Pluto, using a model similar to what meteorologists use to forecast weather on our planet and a computer simulation of the physics of evaporating ices.
●    The groundbreaking research, done in collaboration with researchers at NASA and Johns Hopkins University, indicates that these icy features may exist on other planets where environmental conditions are similar.
●    The identification of the ridges of Tartarus Dorsa as Penitentes suggests that the presence of an atmosphere is necessary for the formation of penitentes, which would explain why they have not previously been seen on other airless icy satellites or dwarf planets.
●    Pluto’s ridges are much larger — 500 metres tall and separated by three to five kilometres — as compared to their meter-sized earthly counterparts.

## NASA's Curiosity discovers purple rocks on Mars

NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover has captured an up—close image of the red planet’s mountainous landscape, with purple-coloured rocks littered across the foreground.
●    The image captured from the Mast Camera (Mastcam) on Curiosity Mars rover shows purple—hued rocks near the rover’s late—2016 location on lower Mount Sharp.
●    The scene’s middle distance includes higher layers that are future destinations for the mission.
●    Variations in colour of the rocks hint at the diversity of their composition on lower Mount Sharp, NASA said.
●    The purple tone of the foreground rocks has been seen in other rocks where Curiosity’s Chemical and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument has detected hematite.

## China launches advanced weather satellite Fengyun-4

China has successfully launched Fengyun-4 satellite, first of its new generation weather satellites into geostationary orbit.
●    It was launched onboard of Long March-3B carrier rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan Province.
●    The launch marked the 242nd mission of China’s Long March series of rockets.
●    Fengyun-4 is the first of China’s second-generation weather satellites and also the country’s first quantitative remote-sensing satellite in highest orbit.
●    It will make high time, spatial and spectral resolution observations of atmosphere, space environment and clouds of China and surrounding regions.
●    It will help in improving capabilities of weather and climate forecasts.
●    The China Meteorological Administration (CMA) is the primary user of the satellite.
●    Earlier China had successfully launched 14 weather satellites, of them seven are still in orbit.

## ISRO successfully places remote sensing satellite Resourcesat-2A

ISRO successfully launched its own earth observation satellite Resourcesat-2A on 7 December 2016.
●    The observation satellite Resourcesat -2A was launched with PSLV C36/ RESOURCESAT-2A from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.
●    The PSLV-XL variant rocket standing 44.4 meters tall and weighing 321 tonne tore into the morning skies at 10.25am with a reverberating sound breaking free of the earth’s gravitational pull.
●    The Resourcesat-2A weighing 1235 kilograms was injected into an 817 km polar Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO) at around 20 minutes into the destination.
●    This satellite is intended to continue the remote sensing data services to global users provided by its two predecessors.
●    The Resourcesat-2A carries three payloads which are similar to those of the earlier two Resourcesat’s. This mission will provide inputs in avionic science.
●    It carries two solid state recorders with a capacity of 200 Giga Bits each to store the images taken by its cameras.
●    These images can be read out later to ground stations. The data sent by Resource would be analysed at Hyderabad from 15 December 2016.

## First Private Moon Mission Next Year

TeamIndus, a private aerospace starup company seemed to have one upped the ISRO's Chandrayaan-2 project.
●    The company is planning to send a spacecraft to the moon, with the help of a launch rocket by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
●    The scheduled launch date of the rocket is December 28, 2017.
This will be India's first private moon mission to be launched, which until now have been regulated solely by the government.
●    ISRO's workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) will be taking the TeamIndus's rocket to the moon.
●    TeamIndus won the Google Lunar XPRIZE, a 30 million USD competition.
●    Based in Bengaluru, TeamIndus is led by Rahul Narayan.
●    He heads a teach of over 100 members with a pool of engineers, space enthusiasts, former Air Force pilots and former ISRO employees.
●    The investors range from Ratan Tata of the Tata Group to Binny and Sachin Bansal, co-founders of Flipkart and Nandan Nilekani, co-founder of Infosys.

## MOM completes a revolution around Mars : ISRO

Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), also called Mangalyaan, has completed one revolution around the Red Planet, Ritu Karidhal, deputy operation director of Bengaluru-based MOM ISRO Satellite Centre said.
●    The span of two years on Earth nearly equals to one year on Mars.
●    The Mangalyaan, which entered into the orbit of Mars around two years ago, has completed one revolution.
●    The ISRO scientist said the MOM could last in the space further for at least 5 to 10 years.
●    The Mangalyaan does not have any fuel system to support its existence while orbiting Mars but is being purely driven by its different components.
●    The life of these components would decide the future life of MOM.
●    Listing down some of the many firsts associated with MOM at the international level, including the mission that was successful in the first attempt, she said the greatest achievement of Mangalyaan was to infuse confidence among countrymen that India was second to none.

## Cassini set to fly closest to Saturn's ring

NASA said its Cassini mission is set to begin on November 30 a daring set of “ring-grazing” orbits, during which it will fly closer to Saturns rings than it has since its 2004 arrival.
●    On November 30, following a gravitational nudge from Saturn’s moon Titan, Cassini will enter the first phase of the mission’s dramatic endgame.
●    Launched in 1997, Cassini has been touring the Saturn system since arriving there in 2004 for an up-close study of the planet, its rings and moons.
●    During its journey, Cassini has made numerous dramatic discoveries, including a global ocean within Enceladus and liquid methane seas on Titan.
●    Between November 30 and April 22, Cassini will circle high over and under the poles of Saturn, diving every seven days — a total of 20 times — through the unexplored region at the outer edge of the main rings.
●    On many of these passes, Cassini’s instruments will attempt to directly sample ring particles and molecules of faint gases that are found close to the rings.