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The Space Portal

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Space (or outer space) describes the vast empty regions between and around planets and stars. The study of these, and other, astronomical objects is called astronomy, one of the oldest sciences. It is often said that space exploration began with the launch of Sputnik 1, the first man-made object to orbit the Earth. Then, in an almost unbelievable feat of human achievement, in 1969 Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin travelled to the Moon and set foot on the surface during the Apollo 11 mission. Recently, it has become clear that the possibility of space colonization may no longer be exclusively reserved for science-fiction stories, and many controversial issues surrounding space have come to light, including commercial spaceflight, space laws and space weapons.

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A mockup of the Black Arrow in the rocket park at Woomera.

Black Arrow was a British satellite carrier rocket. Developed during the 1960s, it was used for four launches between 1969 and 1971. Its final flight was the first successful orbital launch to be conducted by the United Kingdom, and placed the Prospero satellite into low Earth orbit. Black Arrow originated from studies by the Royal Aircraft Establishment for carrier rockets based on the Black Knight rocket, with the project being authorized in 1964. It was initially developed by Saunders-Roe, and later Westland Aircraft as the result of a merger. Black Arrow was a three-stage rocket, fueled by RP-1 paraffin and high test peroxide, a concentrated form of hydrogen peroxide. It was retired after only four launches in favor of using American Scout rockets, which the Ministry of Defense calculated to be cheaper than maintaining the Black Arrow programme.

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Descent from the Summit of 'Husband Hill'
Credit: NASA

A panoramic view of Husband Hill, one of the Columbia Hills in Gusev crater, Mars, which are close to the landing site of NASA's Spirit rover. It was named in honor of Rick Husband, the commander of the Space Shuttle Columbia when it disintegrated upon atmospheric reentry.

Astronomical events

3 July, 20:12 Earth at aphelion
6 July, 04:18 Moon at apogee
9 July, 04:07 Full moon
10 July Pluto at opposition
13 July, 17:49 Moon occults Neptune
21 July, 17:05 Moon at perigee
23 July, 09:46 New moon
25 July, 08:48 Moon occults Mercury
27 July, 00:57 Mars at conjunction
28 July, 18:00 Southern Delta Aquariids peak
30 July, 04:36 Mercury at greatest eastern elongation

Space-related portals

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