This Month in Space: March
Super Worm Moon
On March 20, the first day of spring, the third supermoon of the year lit up the night sky. Deemed the Super Worm Moon, this supermoon appeared 10 percent bigger than normal full moons observed.
The moon’s apparent size in the sky changes depending on where it is in its orbit. Its perigee is the point in its orbit that brings it closest to Earth. If the moon reaches perigee on a day when it’s full, it is considered a supermoon.
The names of each supermoon are said to originate from Native American tribes. The nicknames correspond to the time of the year that they occur. A worm moon is typically the last full moon of winter and it is named after the earthworms that start coming up from the soil as spring approaches.
SpaceX Crew Dragon Demo 1
At 2:49 a.m. on March 2, SpaceX launched their Crew Dragon spacecraft’s first demonstration mission from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Florida’s Space Coast.
This test flight is meant to demonstrate SpaceX’s ability to fly astronauts to and from the International Space Station as a part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. SpaceX was able to successfully land the Falcon 9’s first stage on their “Of Course I Still Love You” drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean.
First All-Female Spacewalk Rescheduled
NASA astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch were scheduled to conduct the first all-female spacewalk in International Space Station history on March 29. However, the spacewalk was later canceled due to technical issues.
NASA made the spacewalk scheduling change after McClain found that she would be more comfortable wearing a suit with a medium-sized hard upper torso segment rather than a large upper torso segment.
An agency spokesperson said that McClain trained for the spacewalks on the ground in using medium and large torso segments and initially thought that the larger suit would work, but concluded after the March 22 spacewalk that the smaller suit would be more comfortable.
NASA has two medium-sized suits aboard the ISS, however, the second was not ready for a spacewalk. The first all-female spacewalk will hopefully have the opportunity of taking place sometime in the near future.
NASA to Break Seal on Apollo Moon Rock Samples
Between 1969 and 1972 astronauts brought back a total of nine containers of moon rocks that were sealed on the lunar surface. From those original nine containers, three sealed samples remain unopened.
In March, scientists announced that they will be unsealing at least one of the remaining moon rock collections from the Apollo 15, 16 and 17 missions.
Returned lunar samples have helped NASA learn about the moon’s secrets, like the fact that there are traces of water that might share a common source with water on Earth found inside the moon.
Moon rock samples were saved for a time when technology had advanced to the point that scientists could maximize the scientific return on the samples. Scientists claim that, because of renewed interest in going to the moon, this is the best time to open one of the samples. The samples could hold information that could help enhance near-future missions to the moon.
WGS 10 Launched the 10th Wideband Global Satcom Spacecraft
The U.S. Air Force’s 10th Wideband Global Satcom communications satellite was launched atop a United Launch Alliance Delta 4 rocket from Space Launch Complex-37B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
The $424 million WGS-10 satellite encapsulated inside a 5-meter-diameter payload fairing marked the eighth flight of the Delta 4 in the medium configuration, all of which have been WGS missions. The WGS satellite weighed 13,000 pounds and its solar arrays once unfurled in space stretch 135 feet.
This was the 39th launch of the Delta 4 since it was introduced in 2002. It was ULA’s 133rd mission. A WGS representative said it would take four months for WGS-10 to get to its intended location in Earth’s Orbit.
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