‘Lifeboat’ mission heads to the ISS — and more space stories you may have missed this week.
Welcome to This Week in Outer Space, where you’ll find a roundup of the best space coverage from Yahoo News and our partners from the past week or so. Last week, we took a deep dive into the definitely not alien UFOs that rekindled our curiosity about extraterrestrial life. This week, we’ve got black holes behaving badly, “budget” space tourism and a tiny glimmer of hope in U.S.-Russia relations.
- This Week in Outer Space, while Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Biden were trading less than flattering jabs at one another over the war in Ukraine, NASA and its Russian counterpart, Roscosmos, were collaborating on a rescue mission for three crew members stranded aboard the International Space Station. US Astronaut Frank Rubio and Cosmonauts Dmitry Petelin and Sergey Prokopyev were originally scheduled to return to Earth in the Russian Soyuz MS-22, but a microscopic leak in MS-22's cooling system, believed to be caused by a tiny meteorite impact, put the kibosh on those plans.
But after rearranging some of the launch schedule, the Soyuz MS-23 was launched on Thursday to provide a replacement return capsule. If all goes well, Rubio, Petelin, and Prokopyev will splash down sometime in March. However, things are not exactly hunky dory when it comes to US-Russia relations aboard the ISS. Russia is still set to exit the program by the end of next year.
Further out in deep space, we've got a pair of black hole updates. First up, a supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy appears to be slurping up a giant dust cloud orbiting around it, and way out 7.5 billion light years away, a runaway black hole appears to have been flung from the center of a dwarf galaxy, known as RCP 28. According to one of the authors of the study that discovered the anomaly, the possibility of a Black hole being ejected from a galaxy has been theorized for decades, but this is the first time one has been, quote, "unambiguously observed."
Turning back to the third rock from the sun, NASA has announced five new missions to study the progression and effects of climate change. NASA has a long history of climate research, and new instruments launched into orbit will monitor everything from sandstorms to melting ice caps within a margin of less than half an inch.
And finally, a Japanese space tourism startup announced that it will start offering trips 15 miles above the Earth's surface for a fraction of the price of the likes of Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin, but instead of rockets, these not quite space tours are going to be powered by balloons. Now, these plans have been in the works for years, but it's hard to ignore the somewhat, questionable timing here. February, of course, was not exactly, a great month for experimental balloons flying high above the Earth's surface. And while these flights would presumably, be closely monitored and sanctioned by the appropriate authorities, it's going to be interesting to see how many people are lined up for the $180,000 trips when they launch later this year.