New Chop Shop Poster for Vostok 1

Poster for Vostok 1

The third and final design in their Giant Leaps in Space Print Series was posted last week for Vostok 1. This was the first ever mission to achieve human spaceflight. Check out this and the rest of the series currently funding on Kickstarter with only a few days left. The campaign ends on March 14.

Giant Leaps in Space Print Series

All three designs are now posted for this latest installation of Chop Shop’s series of Space Exploration Mission posters. Consider becoming a backer and the rewards go on sale for their normal retail price.

The Top 20 Robotic Spacecraft in History

The poll is complete and the most popular robotic spacecraft in history have been selected. Thanks to the efforts by The Planetary Society. The top three missions selected here now represent the themes of our series of screen-printed posters celebrating the history of robotic space exploration. To support this effort please see our campaign page at Kickstarter.

The Voyager Program As we expected the Voyager Program came into the top spot with 507 votes (18.5%). The poster for this design is already complete and available for viewing on the campaign page.

Cassini / Huygens Cassini takes poster #2 with 432 votes (15.7%), effectively eclipsing it’s sister probe Galileo. This design is expected to be completed on or before October 23rd.

Mars Science Lab (aka Curiosity) The newest member of the robotic Martian community of surface rovers, Curiosity arrived in 2012 and has stolen the thunder of the previous Mars Exploration Rovers with 340 votes (12.4%). This design is expected to be completed on or before October 31st.

As for the rest of the list, here is how things all panned out:

  1. The Mars Exploration Rovers 189 (6.9%)
  2. Sputnik (Earth) 169 (6.2%)
  3. The Viking Program (Mars) 146 (5.3%)
  4. New Horizons (Pluto) 136 (5.0%)
  5. Rosetta (comet) 123 (4.5%)
  6. Galileo (Jupiter) 121 (4.4%)
  7. Venera (Venus) 67 (2.4%)
  8. Pioneers 10 & 11 (Jupiter & Saturn) 66 (2.4%)
  9. The Mariner Program (Mercury, Venus & Mars) 47 (1.7%)
  10. Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter 40 (1.5%)
  11. Hayabusa (asteroid) 39 (1.4%)
  12. Mars Express39 (1.4%)
  13. Deep Impact / Epoxi (comet) 36 (1.3%)
  14. Stardust (comet) 26 (0.9%)
  15. Messenger (Mercury) 25 (0.9%)
  16. Maven (Mars) 22 (0.8%)
  17. Dawn (Vesta & Ceres) 22 (0.8%)

Should we reach our stretch goals, this would also make poster #4’s theme the Opportunity & Spirit rovers and poster #5’s surprising but historically honorable theme going to Sputnik.

Rosetta Selfie

With the term “selfie” trending the way it is in popular culture… it was wise for the people at ESA to try a robotic interplanetary version. This image was shot by the Philae lander (still attached to Rosetta) staring down one of Rosetta’s solar panels looking at comet 67P/C-G in not-too-far-off distance.

Worth noting this similarly happened here at Mars in 2007.

Juno is on the Way to Jupiter

Juno is the first mission to study Jupiter since Galileo in the 90s and will arrive around July of 2016. The new imaging event on this encounter will be seeing the poles of Jupiter for the first time in great detail. The camera fitted to Juno are specifically for public consumption and promotion and less about science. It will be nice to have an instrument specifically dedicated to securing amazing images.

Above Earth Tshirt Celebrates 50 Years of Manned Spaceflight

In honor of the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's historic first manned mission into the great beyond... Chop Shop's newest iconic tshirt was released today featuring 23 historic missions of mankind's exploration of Earth and space. Missions starting with Sputnik -- leading to Yuri Gagarin's first manned mission expanding to today's permanently manned International Space Station.

The design itself also includes unmanned missions like Sputnik, Hubble as well as missions inhabited by species other than human. A spiraling timeline weaves the missions together and is numbered with significant years of progress. Pre-Order it for Men on American Apparel’s Black, Navy or on Alstyle Black and for Women on American Apparel Black. Look for a children’s version in a few weeks as well.

A Solid Rocket Booster’s Life

If you think you have seen everything there is to see from The Space Shuttle… think again. Unless you are into the drama of suspense… Skip to around 2 minutes and watch the whole thing. It is incredible. Just a camera mounted to a solid rocket booster from launch to splash down. Seriously gorgeous. Things to watch out for is the separation and the other solid rocket burning out in the distance and the parachutes on splash down.

New Iconic Celebrates 23 Deep Space Missions & The Planetary Society

Robotic and human missions of exploration that extended beyond the Earth’s orbit. 23 historic missions in total (with an additional 6 separations) that are recognized for their notable achievements to various celestial bodies in our solar system with targets including the Sun, planets and their moons, comets and asteroids. Nearly every icon represents a specific robotic explorer (or series) with the exception of the Apollo program which continues to be the single human endeavor to ever go beyond the cradle.

If you buy a copy we will donate $5 of every purchase to The Planetary Society. The world’s largest space-interest group dedicated to inspiring the public with the adventure and mystery of space exploration. A non-governmental organization founded in 1980, who among its founders included Carl Sagan, the author of Cosmos.

If you buy a copywith a membership (sorry, US residents only), we will register you as a new member for only an additional $25 (normally $37). See here for what you get as a new member.

Vintage-Styled Soviet Space Posters

Contained within Justinvg’s excellent poster set on flickr are these gorgeous posters celebrating early Soviet triumphs in space. There are 5 total; Sputnik, Sputnik 2, The Luna Program, Vostock and Voskhod. But if you are a fan of Star Wars — don’t miss his fictional travel poster series (which are also included in the same set as these Soviet ones).

June: Hayabusa Comes Home?

If you Google “Hayabusa” you will likely find a few articles about a mission plagued by problems and will leave you with the impression that the engineers at JAXA are a bunch of bumbling goons. What you will find less of is the fact that a sample-return mission is just about the most difficult types of missions any organization can attempt. As a matter of fact, only 4 sample-return missions (other than Apollo) have ever been successfully executed in history. Two Lunar missions by the Soviets with Luna 20 and 24 and much later, two American lead missions Genesis and Stardust which collected space dust and cometary particles. It is worth noting also that only two of those missions actually included landing on the surface of another body, grabbing some samples and then returning home. So for JAXA to even attempt such a bold mission without having even 1% the robotic mission experience of the USA and the Russians is all by itself an accomplishment.

So what were the failures? Well, there is a long list of issues including: a Solar Flare that destroyed solar cells aboard the craft, two reaction wheels that control movement failed, two attempts to fire pellets at the surface failed (to kick up the samples into the collection cannister) and finally a whole litany of communication errors, fuel leaks and telemetry issues which put the mission in serious doubt of ever returning to Earth. To make a long story short — the probe did touch-down on the surface of asteroid Itokowa. The first such mission ever intentionally designed to do so (NASA did have an impromptu touch down on 433 Eros in 2000, but that was more a controlled crash). Despite the pellet failures, mission specialists think that the very act of touching down was likely to kick up enough dust to collect some materials in the collection canister. After much wrangling with a seriously debilitated spacecraft they managed to get Hayabusa on make-shift trajectory back to Earth, very much later than planned… but home just the same.

With fingers crossed, the sample package is to parachute down in South Australia on or around June 13th at which point it will be shuttled back to Japan and hopefully they will find something contained within. Even if it is just a few particles, it will still be the only samples of asteroid particles un-altered by the extreme heat of a natural Earth entry (aka: a meteor) and only the 3rd time in history a probe landed on another world and returned a piece of it back to Earth for study. Not bad for the new kids in space.

Pictured at top is a frame from the trailer “Hayabusa Back to Earth” in anticipation of the potentially successful sample-return mission. It appears to be a 3-D render based on actual images returned from the mission. The second is an actual image with the shadow of the spacecraft as it maneuvered to a close encounter with its target. The third image illustrates what touch-down may have been like for Hayabusa. You can see the large amount of theoretical dust kicked up by the thrusters which may be JAXA’s best hope for actually having captured particles in the sample-return canister.