Merry Christmas, everybody! Last evening was a full moon, the first Christmas full moon since 1977, and the last one until 2034. (So naturally it was completely overcast here.) Did you enjoy the bright Christmas night?
It was actually a white one after all here, even if just barely — the blades of grass are still peeking through the top of the snow. Green grass, at that. It’s been ridiculously warm for Minnesota. But with the temperatures dropping at last, I’m sure the ski areas will be happy, and soon so will the ice fishermen.
We all watched the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch and landing, but that wasn’t the only interesting thing happening in spaceflight this week! There was also a Progress spacecraft launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome. It’s a new model of Progress, the Progress MS-1, launched aboard the newest variant of Soyuz, Soyuz 2-1A, which features new roll control capabilities (previously, the entire vehicle was rotated on its launch table prior to launch to select the correct azimuth) and improved engines. Progress MS, meanwhile, adds use of the GLONASS navigation system, communication via Russian relay satellites (instead of relying always on ground stations), and the ability to carry nanosatellites to be carried on the Progress’ exterior and then launched while it is en route to Station.
And the Progress then docked on Wednesday:
And then on Christmas Eve, Proton made a spectacular night launch to place the Express AMU1/Eutelsat 36C geosynchronous commsat onto its transfer orbit: