The Year 2004 was not a great year but certainly not bad. The Shuttle flight still grounded with no sure date about when it will fly again. The ISS still has no enhancements, actually its disintegrating with new parts needed. The Expedition teams are doing a great job maintaining it. But for the first time they had to leave ISS empty to fix it. The Progress and Soyuz with the help of the Russian agency are really helping them sustain.
The year also saw the successful completion of Mars Rovers which actually found evidence of water on the planet. Its still finding us new things and exploring new Martian horizon and still going on
StarDust rendezvousing with Wild 2 comet trying to find the structure of comet and trying to find evidence of our life .. panspermia
We also saw the destruction of the Genesis spacecraft which was bringing in Sun Samples.. which would have helped us know how our solar system was formed.
Stopping the servicing of Hubble Space Telescope was another big blow to the science mission. Hubble has given us some of the most incredible images of our universe and still going strong with its Ultra high field photograph. I am sure they will come up with something to restore it.
Another great scientific triumph was the launch of Gravity-Probe B spacecraft. This experiment was on paper for the past 30 years and only now we had the technology to go ahead with it. It is designed to prove 2 of Einstein's general relativity theory, the frame dragging effect and the geo-delectic effect. Would definately be interested in their outcomes. The most ingenious research.. For details
But the limelight of this year goes to the Ansari X-prize winner SpaceShip one and its creator .. Scaled Composites owner Burt Rutan. It ws the first privately funded spacecraft to touch space. It has a really 21st century sci-fi design but its most ingenious quality is the feather effect used for reentry. Reentry is supposed to be the most strenuous task and SpaceshipOne did it with style. It will probably take a decade to perfect it for private travel, but it still the most marvelous feat
things to look forward to --
Cassini is just getting started and in some time will show us some real incredible things that Saturn hold inside it. Also the Hugyens probe which is supposed to find out whether Titan is baby Earth.
Also keep track of the Visions for Space Exploration headed by NASA. That may be interesting and t/Space by Burt Rutan ..
Have a great New Year night and see you next year