Not all the most important space events and activities of 2014 are mentioned here, but probably all the sweetest are!
As for the “breakfast” of the year, let's remind successful joint JAXA and NASA's mission on the launch of Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) satellite atop Japanese H-IIA rocket on February 27. GPM is able to make frequent (every 2–3 hours) observations of Earth's precipitation in order to provide global two- and three-dimensional precipitation maps to assist researchers in studying global climate and improving the forecasting of extreme events.
On the dessert we had the following two nice 'Earth observation' cakes. First of them was dedicated to successful launch of European Sentinel-1A radar satellite, part of joint European Space Agency (ESA) and European Commission's GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) program, conducted by Arianespace's Soyuz-ST on April 3. Another one was made by Skybox Imaging to celebrate on May 21 6-months anniversary of its SkySat-1 mission. Skybox had more than solid ground to celebrate, because little later, on June 10, it was announced to be acquired by Google for $500 million — the largest such deal involving a NewSpace company to date.
On June 6 we were congratulating Zero2Infinity and Moon Express with the National Doughnut Day. The former is a Spain-based Start-Up targeting to enter late 2015 or early 2016 suborbital human (tourism) spaceflight market and SmallSat launches market using donut-type capsule attached to high-altitude balloon, and the latter is a Google Lunar XPrize participant, designing donut-like Moon lander with toroidal tanks.
Early July Soyuz-2.1b launch vehicle deployed a group of satellites with Clyde Space-made UKube-1, the first Scottish spacecraft and the first mission to be commissioned by the UK Space Agency since its foundation in 2010. Ukube-1 is a 3U CubeSat that has various goals mainly related to technology demonstration. Clyde Space, it its turn, being one of the most prominent representative of NewSpace from the UK, as we see below, was fully equipped and ready to celebrate the mission's success.
On July 29 Arianespace launched its Ariane 5 ES rocket with the record heaviest European payload, 5th and the last Automated Transfer Vehicle 5 (ATV-5) cargo spaceship, named after the Belgian astronomer Georges Lemaître. Previous four ATVs was named after Jules Verne (launched on March 9, 2008), Johannes Kepler (February 16, 2011), Edoardo Amaldi (March 23, 2012) and Albert Einstein (June 5, 2013). ATV-5, weighting more than 20 tons, delivered almost 9 tons of cargo to the International Space Station (ISS).
Being disappointed with the end of ATV program, but excitedly expecting its technologies transfer to NASA's Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle program, where ATV would be adapted to serve as the service module, ESA and its partners prepared some sweets and toys dedicated to that mission.
A separate place of our Review is allotted to manned missions to the ISS. Four expeditions went to the orbital station in 2014, representing 12 cosmonauts and astronauts (10 men and 2 women) from Russia, USA, Germany and Italy. Thanks to them, 'orbital zoo' received four new animals, who served as weightlessness indicators during any launch of Soyuz-FG with Soyuz-TMA crewed spaceship.
Wanna coffee break? Ok, let's have it with this great cup of coffee made especially for the National Coffee Day on September 29, and biscuits made by Space Systems/Loral to mark opening on October 7 of its new satellite vacuum chamber facility for simulating the harsh environment of space.
And now we come to the saddest week of 2014 for space industry. On October 28 Orbital Sciences' Antares rocket, carrying Cygnus cargo spaceship that was expected to deliver 2300 kg of supplies and experiments to the ISS, exploded shortly after the launch from Wallops Island, damaging launch pad and destroying all the payload, which included, among other, first satellite of asteroid-mining company Planetary Resources and another 'Flock' of 26 Planet Labs' satellites. Even more tragic accident happened above Mojave Desert, California, on October 31, when Virgin Galactic/Scaled Composites SpaceShipTwo spaceship suffered a catastrophic in-flight breakup during its 4th rocket-powered test flight and crashed, killing the co-pilot, Michael Alsbury, and seriously injuring the pilot, Peter Siebold. Here is 'Cyggi' watching Cygnus flight to ISS and SpaceShipTwo/WhiteKnightTwo toy model made from burger picks.
That week ended with Halloween, thus giving chance for Space Systems/Loral, ESA's Rosetta team and Sierra Nevada Corporation to express their creativity in pumpkin masterpieces.
Probably, the greatest moment of 2014 was the first ever soft landing of an artificial object on an asteroid. On November 12 Philae, a lander module of ESA's Rosetta spacecraft, landed on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko and returned data from its surface, thus making a successful more than 10 years European deep space exploration mission. Remembering from ATV-5 mission on July how European Space society likes sweeties, it is not surprisingly that Rosetta success was also accompanied by cakes.
Another remarkable space exploration mission was conducted on December 5 by United Launch Alliance (ULA), NASA and Lockheed Martin (LM), when ULA's Delta IV Heavy deployed Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, built by LM, within the Exploration Flight Test 1 (EFT-1). During this test flight Orion, designed for deep space manned missions, such as Mars or an Asteroid campaign, to be held in 2030th, reached an apogee of 5800 kilometers above the Earth and conducted successful high-energy re-entry at around 32000 km/h. That was the first time since 1972 when a spaceship designed for manned spaceflight exceeded low Earth orbit.
Next Orion flight, this time atop super-heavy Space Launch System, being constructed now by NASA partners, currently scheduled for no later than November 2018. This means that engineers, managers and other people involved in EFT-1 have plenty of time and may eat all the cakes made at the Orion Cake Contest.
Here let's also pay special tribute to ULA team that has conducted 14 space launches in 2014, the personal best for this Boeing/Lockheed Martin joint venture. Among the payload, launched by ULA's Atlas-V and Delta family of rockets are (except for Orion): 4 GPS IIF navigation satellites, 5 classified communication satellites, a meteorology, climatology, 2 military space surveillance spacecraft and DigitalGlobe's WorldView-3 Earth imaging satellite, providing best available resolution (near 30 cm) images on a commercial basis.
Finally, let's mention here Crew Members of the Expedition 40 to the ISS as 'Matryoshka' toys…
ULA and ATK 'armies'…
Happy Holidays wishes from Sierra Nevada Corporation…
And the most famous Christmas decoration in space industry at NASA's Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex entrance.