From the US territory Guam, sightings came in of a fireball falling from the sky. The strategic location of Guam and the U.S. military stationed there has drawn attention for years. Guam thrust into the limelight during heightened tensions with North Korea. In August 2017, North Korea launched missiles that flew over Japan and into the northern Pacific Ocean in an apparent attempt to threaten the US territory of Guam. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un did not follow up on his threats, but a fireball came crashing down from a different source.
Local officials quickly released an announcement indicating the Chinese Long March Launch as a likely source of the fireball. Indeed, an Indonesia satellite launched on a Chinese rocket came crashing back to Earth. The satellite failed to reach orbit. The failure of the new communications satellite for Indonesia to reach orbit marked the second failure for china’s space agency in less than a month, state media reported April 9.
It is unlike the Chinese Long March 3, workhorse of the Chinese launch industry, series rocket to fall. According to the Xinhua News Agency, the rocket lifted off at 7:46 p.m local time from China’s Xichang Satellite Launch Center in the Sichuan province. The rocket traveled according to plan during the first and second stages. The Rocket third stage experienced abnormal conditions.
The ESA probe BepiColombo flew past Earth on the way to Mercury. The probe launched in 2018 and made the last visit of our home before continuing onward to the final destination. The spacecraft needs to shed velocity to arrive at Mercury in 2025 at a velocity to enter orbit. The spacecraft will make multiple additional planetary flybys of Venus and Mercury to slow down to enter orbit.
In space travel, mission planners need to balance mission resources. The amount of fuel required to either speed up or slow down a spacecraft greatly impacts the cost of the mission. Using a longer flight path can reduce the propellent requirements for a mission but the mission will take longer. Gravity assists can, therefore, allow a spacecraft to be launched on a cheaper, less powerful rocket.
Gravity assist flyby?
A Gravity assist flyby has other names including a gravitational slingshot, gravity assist maneuver, or swing-by. Gravity assistance maneuvers increase or decrease its speed or redirect the orbital path. The spacecraft slingshots around another object with a gravitational field and transfers some of the energy during that slingshot. In the case of BepiColombo, the spacecraft needs to slow down to be captured by Mercury…