This page provides links to hot topics associated with Space Group activities, including astronaut news, space exploration, space tourism and satellites such as the ISS. For detail on what the Space Industry can expect in 2012, please click here
UK Space Conference & Arthurs Awards
The first truly national UK Space Conference took place in the Arts complex at Warwick University on July 4th and 5th 2011. The event mixed plenary sessions featuring high profile speakers with 4 or 5 parallel sessions dedicated to specific themes. A mini-conference dedicated to teachers was held on the second day, and local schools sent contingents of pupils to visit the exhibition halls on both days. Online registration for the conference was halted several days before the start due to the capacity of the venue (~500) being reached. An even bigger venue will be required in 2012 if another sell-out is to be avoided.
The conference dinner on the evening of July 4th was the setting for the announcement and presentation of the 2011 Sir Arthur Clarke awards – under the guidance of the Space Eductation Trust (SET)
Last Shuttle Flight
The last ever launch of the Space Shuttle took place on July 8th 2011 as Atlantis carried a crew of four and about four tons of cargo to the International Space Station – including a ton of food! Perhaps more importantly, Atlantis brought back more than 2 tons of material from the ISS to Earth – ten times more than Soyuz can return. After landing at Cape Kennedy 13 days later, the next stop for Atlantis is the museum at the Cape – the other three Shuttles are already on their way to museums across the USA.
Earlier, Europe’s Johannes Kepler Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) had brought nearly five tons of fuel and 2 tons of cargo to the ISS in February. Before taking on 1.2 tons of refuse and undocking, this second vehicle in the ATV series raised the 413 ton ISS’s orbital altitude by 40 km. On June 21st it plunged into the southern Pacific Ocean.
Gagarin in London
Yuri Gagarin’s daughter Elena Gagarina was among the VIPs at the unveiling of a statue to the first human in space on July 14th 2011 in central London. Others present included Sergei Korolev’s daughter Natalia Koroleva, recently appointed Roscosmos chief Vladimir Popovikin and Britain’s first cosmonaut Helen Sharman. The statue stands opposite that of Captain James Cook on the Mall and was unveiled by HRH Prince Michael of Kent.