What was India's last space satellite launch

The five biggest space failures of the past year

The human expeditions into space were crowned with some success in the past year. China managed to land an automated spacecraft on the far side of the moon for the first time in human history - and NASA's New Horizons probe flew past the most distant object that a man-made vehicle has ever visited. A Japanese spacecraft collected samples from the surface of an astroid twice and generated an artificial crater with the help of a projectile. SpaceX launched its new manned spacecraft for the International Space Station ISS - so far without a crew, but at least. And then there was the first prototype of the US company's "Starship".

But despite all these successes, there were also various "failures" in 2019. Technology Review has summarized five of the biggest space crises of the past twelve months.

1. Mars One goes broke

The only way to dismiss the ugly end of Mars One as somehow positive is to say that the project was just a naive dream. However, more realistic contemporaries consider it to be something worse. A Dutch group had managed to collect tens of millions of dollars from some investors for the plan to send the first humans to Mars and establish a colony. It was supposed to be a one-way trip. In truth, however, the plans were hair-raising and underfunded too. The PR campaign was impressive, but the organization did not even develop its own spaceship and hoped to use the commercial market. The schedule was pushed back again and again. It was practically no surprise that bankruptcy was declared on January 15, 2019.

2. SpaceIL Beresheet crashes on the moon

The Israeli company SpaceIL, which started in 2011 as a competitor for the Google Lunar X Prize, which promised $ 30 million for those who succeed in a robotic mission to the moon, had already achieved a great deal. Although there was ultimately no winner in the search engine developer's tender, the company still wanted to continue and received support from the Israeli Space Agency. And the Beresheet landing module also got close to the moon. However, it just crashed on April 11th. The industry mourned the failure, but praised SpaceIL for the project - and plans to try again in the future. Then things got controversial: It turned out that there was also a capsule with tardigrade on board, which may have survived the crash - and now the tough microorganisms are just sitting on the moon. Although the human visitors to the satellite had already left bacteria - garbage in the form of their excretions - there was still a lot of criticism of the story.

3. SpaceX's Dragon crew module explodes

After the Elon Musk company succeeded in bringing the Dragon to the ISS unmanned, SpaceX was certain that things would continue in a positive way. But on April 20, everything changed: During a standard test of the "Super Draco" rocket engines, they blew up - including the capsule, which was completely destroyed. In the end it was found that it was a holey fuel line. But the schedule was already broken. The idea of ​​finally sending a NASA astronaut from American soil into space again in 2019 remained an impossible dream.

4. Persia can't do it

The Islamic Republic's space program is still very young, but the Iranians managed to mess up a rocket launch three times in a row in 2019. The biggest fail came in August 2019. If the rockets could still be launched in January and February without reaching orbit, the vehicle would not even take off in the summer. The small Safir rocket and its payload exploded on the launch pad. Apparently there had been an accident during the preparations. US President Donald J. Trump couldn’t help himself to a shameful tweet: "The USA was not involved in this catastrophic accident."

5. The Vikram moon landing also fails

In addition to Israel and China, India also wanted to go to the earth's satellite - and thus become the fourth nation in history that successfully touches down on the moon. The Chandrayaan-2 mission had reached the lunar orbit a month earlier and the Indian space agency was sure of victory that the Vikram landing module would be placed on the South Pole. In doing so, the question of how the water ice stands on the moon should finally be clarified. But Vikram never arrived. On September 6, the landing module hit the earth's satellite hard, just like Beresheet had before. Vikram was lost forever. And it turned out that space travel is difficult - and that applies even more to moon landings.

(bsc)

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