NASA celebrates its 60th anniversaryCredit: NASA
NASA celebrates its 60th anniversary

Last Month in Space - October

Find out what happened in the space industry in October!

1. Plans for a reusable moon lander revealed

Lockheed Martin have revealed plans for a reusable single stage spaceship that will be able to shuttle astronauts between the lunar surface and lunar orbiter, without having to refuel between journey's. Unfueled, the concept lander would weigh approximately half the original lunar lander used in the Apollo program. The Lockheed Martin lander would use NASA’s Lunar Orbital Platform Gateway as it’s home base, the orbiter NASA is aiming to begin work on in 2022. It is hopes the proposed lander will be up and running by the late 2020’s, fitting in with NASA’s targeted timeline for having human’s back on the moon.

Find out more about Lockheed Martin’s lunar lander here.

2. New evidence in the hunt for Planet Nine

A new found dwarf planet, nicknamed ‘The Goblin’ could help point us towards the hypothesised Planet Nine. 2015 TG387 has been found in the outer solar system, far beyond the orbit of Pluto, sharing a peculiar orbit with other far flung objects in the solar system. The orbits of these extremely distant objects seem to have been shaped by the gravity of a very large object, Planet Nine. The discovery of this new dwarf planet is particularly important in the search for Planet Nine as it was found in a relatively uniform survey of the sky rather than in a targeted search which can often produce biased results.

More about how The Goblin can help us in the hunt for Planet Nine can be found here.

3. Launch to ISS aborted

Approximately 90 seconds into a Soyuz launch to the International Space Station on October 11th, a problem between the first and second stages of separation was reported. 114 seconds into the flight the emergency escape system kicked in, separating the crew capsule from the rocket which then underwent a ‘ballistic descent’, landing approximately 400km from the launch site, where cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin and astronaut Nick Hague were recovered safely. This was the first serious incident that the Soyuz manned missions have experienced since 1983 and it is expected that following investigations into the fault the planned mission in December will go ahead.

Find out more about the aborted Soyuz mission here.

4. Hubble Telescope back online

Hubble Telescope Images (page 4) - Pics about space

The Hubble Space Telescope is back online and resumed normal operations after a three week shut down due to a problem with two of its gyroscopes. Hubble was sent into protective safe mode at the beginning of October when one of the gyroscopes failed and attempts to recruit a backup gyroscope were unsuccessful. It is believed that there was a blockage between components that was causing the issues, this has now been cleared and tests are showing that the gyroscopes are acting normally meaning Hubble has been brought back online.

More about the Hubble Space Telescope can be found here.

5. NASA celebrates its 60th Birthday!

October 1st marked the 60th anniversary of NASA which started operations in 1958, two months after it was created by the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958. From putting humans on the moon for the first time in 1969 to launching Voyager 1 and 2 in 1977 which have gone on to become the furthest man-made objects from Earth, continuing to travel through interstellar space over 40 years later, having revolutionised our understanding of the solar system on the way, the US space agency has been instrumental in our exploration of space.

Explore more of NASA’s rich history and what the future of the agency may hold here.

What’s Coming Up in November?

The start of November brings the Northern Taurid Meteor shower which is expected to peak on November 11th, despite its name the meteor shower can be seen in both the Northern and Southern Hemisphere.

NASA’s InSight lander is expected to reach Mars at the end of November where it will be investigating the internal structure of Mars.


Emma Collier

Emma studies Physics with Astronomy at the University of Southampton.

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