Showing posts from May, 2014

Images: SpaceX Reveals Dragon Version 2


SpaceX to Unveil Dragon V2 for Manned Spaceflight Thursday

True to his word, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk will unveil Dragon V2 this Thursday, May 29th at SpaceX HQ to invited guests. SpaceX is calling the Dragon V2 "a next generation spacecraft designed to carry astronauts into space." It was April 29th that Musk tweeted that the "cover drops on May 29. Actual flight design hardware of crew Dragon, not a mockup."

He also tweeted this shortly before the date announcement; "Sounds like this might be a good time to unveil the new Dragon Mk 2 spaceship that @SpaceX has been working on w @NASA. No trampoline needed."

The "No trampoline needed" reference is to a tweet earlier in the day by Dmitry Rogozin, Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, who said "After analysing the sanctions against our space industry I suggest the US delivers its astronauts to the ISS with a trampoline...

Showmanship aside, the unveiling of Dragon V2, which was hastily organized to meet the May 29th date, is an important achievement for …

Future of Space Exploration Could See Humans on Mars, Alien Planets

The future of manned space exporation is bright, according to some space experts.

Humans may one day tread across some of the alien worlds that today can be studied only at a distance. Closer to home, private industries like Mars One seek to establish a permanent settlement on the Red Planet. At the Smithsonian Magazine's "The Future is Here Festival" in Washington, D.C. this month, former astronaut Mae Jemison and NASA engineer Adam Steltzner spoke optimistically about the future of manned space exploration.

"Exploration and the curiosity that motivate it are fundamentally human," Steltzner said during the conference.

'Humans should be involved in exploration' Steltzner served as the lead engineer for NASA's Mars rover Curiosity. He helped to design and test the rover's one-of-a-kind descent system, but he isn't solely focused on robotic exploration of the solar system.

"I look forward to human footprints on the surface of Mars in…

Armadillo Vets Form New Space Company, Promise Awesome Stuff

Veterans of John Carmack’s hibernating Armadillo Aerospace have formed a new company dedicated to picking up with the game developer’s side project left off.

Exos Aerospace has an ambitious agenda to build four suborbital rockets within a year, and begin development of a human-rated rocket during that same time period. The goal is to provide customers “with affordable, repeatable, and reliable commercial spaceflight with accelerated turnaround,” according to the company’s website.

Exos’ leadership includes Armadillo veterans Russell Blink and Phil Eaton, who are both listed as co-founders.


NASA will use video games to rekindle our love of space travel

The Kerbal Space Program folks teaming with NASA was pretty cool, right? Well, it wasn't an accident. The US aeronautics outfit is embracing the space-travel sim as a means to get the public interested in leaving our planet once again -- much like the televised Apollo launches were for generations prior. Thanks to NASA, the development team has even started a collaboration with educators to create a classroom-focused version of Kerbal, where teachers can assign specific tasks to their students for homework. The development team's efforts as a whole have been a success, and there's proof that the player-base is much more than a handful of space-geeks and Lockheed Martin employees too. The team said that in a recent survey a staggering number of their players (some 92 percent) weren't involved in the space industry at all, and an even higher amount (97 percent) became more interested in science and space as a direct result of playing. Even better, almost as many said th…

Elon Musk's SpaceX Plans DragonFly Landing Tests

Billionaire Elon Musk's high-flying space venture, SpaceX, has provided fresh details about its plan to test a Dragon capsule that can use retro rockets to make a soft landing on Earth — and perhaps eventually on Mars.

The prototype test project, code-named DragonFly, would be conducted at SpaceX's test facility near McGregor, Texas, according to a draft environmental assessment released by the Federal Aviation Administration. The document is part of the regulatory requirements for issuing an experimental permit for the tests.

In the 76-page FAA document, the DragonFly RLV is described as a 7-ton Dragon capsule equipped with eight SuperDraco thrusters, an integrated trunk and up to four landing legs. The program calls for a series of increasingly ambitious tests, starting with a parachute-assisted landing and proceeding to a full propulsive landing and rocket-powered hops.

DragonFly is just one of several initiatives being pursued by Musk's California-based venture to t…

Nasa would speak out if private manned missions to Mars too risky

Nasa says it will not regulate private missions to land people on Mars but would offer advice if it felt lives were in danger.

It’s like an interplanetary re-telling of the famous tortoise and hare story. Nasa and the world’s other space agencies are pursuing a careful, long-winded programme aimed at landing astronauts on Mars by 2035. Private organisations, such as the not-for-profit Mars One, are claiming that they can do the same thing by 2025.

This distinct two-speed approach begs questions. Is Nasa being over-cautious? Are the private organisations being reckless?

Over-caution could mean over-spending, and with space budgets around the world continuing to be under pressure, expensive programmes mean delays and even cancellation. On the flip side, trying to do things quickly could mean cutting corners and with space being such an unforgiving environment, that would almost inevitably cost lives.

With current technology, a voyage to Mars and back would take around three years. T…

NASA Puts Kepler Back On the Hunt For Distant Worlds

On the hunt for alien worlds, NASA has approved a new mission for the Kepler spacecraft, despite a crippling breakdown in 2013 that seemed to mark the end of its work forever.

Launched in 2009, the original $600 million Kepler mission discovered more than half of all known planets orbiting nearby stars—some 962 worlds. But malfunctions last year left the spacecraft with only two of its gyroscopic steering wheels operating, and it became impossible for NASA to point the craft accurately in three dimensions.

It seemed the telescope had become a dead project.

More recently, however, mission managers came up with a plan to make use of solar winds to help keep the craft on course, and won approval for a new $20-million, two-year “K2″ mission to continue their research.

Kepler looks for “transits”—or faint dips in light that happen when planets partially eclipse their host stars. The K2 mission will mainly be hunting planets orbiting small red dwarf stars and very bright stars amenable …

Elon Musk Making 'Progress' Toward Goal To Colonize Mars

The SpaceX founder received the Robert A. Heinlein Memorial Award, Friday at the International Space Development Conference. SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk discussed progress in his company’s goal to colonize Mars as he accepted the Robert A. Heinlein Memorial Award, Friday evening during a dinner at the 33rd Annual International Space Development Conference, which runs through May 18 at the Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles.

The Heinlein Award is named after the noted science fiction writer and created to honor those turning science into reality.

“SpaceX was created to accelerate the development of rocket technology and develop self sustaining life on Mars,” said Musk, accepting the award. “I think we’re making some progress—not as fast as it’d like.

He added that he hopes with SpaceX's next generation of rocket technology — powered by a methane-based based system — it might "enable someone to move to Mars for about $500,000, maybe less. There will be those who can afford …

Intergalactic Entrepreneurs Prepare for Blast-Off

A unique gathering of 13 companies showcases a coming year of launches.

By Michael Belfiore on May 13, 2014

It was a rare meeting of minds. Representatives from 13 commercial space companies gathered on May 1 at a place dedicated to going where few have gone before: the Explorers Club in New York.

Amid the mansions and high-end apartment buildings just off Central Park, executives from space-tourism companies, rocket-making startups, and even a business that hopes to make money by mining asteroids for useful materials showed off displays and gave presentations.

The Explorers Club event provided a snapshot of what may be a new industry in the making. In an era when NASA can no longer support manned spaceflight and government funding for unmanned missions is tight, a host of startups—most funded by space enthusiasts with very deep pockets—have stepped up in hope of filling the gap. In the past few years, several have proved themselves. Elon Musk’s SpaceX, for example, delivers cargo…

The race to colonize space

There is a renewed focus on manned space missions, including by India, as efforts towards space exploration intensify..

New Delhi: Forty-four Indians were shortlisted last week by Mars One, a Netherlands-based private organization which aims to send four people on a one-way trip to Mars in batches beginning in 2024.

The non-governmental organization aims to establish a permanent human settlement on the red planet as crews of four will depart every two years. They will start with an unmanned mission in 2018 after which Mars One will send a demonstration mission, communication satellites, two rovers and several cargo missions to establish living conditions before the astronauts leave earth.

This is just one of the developments taking place this year showing a renewed focus on manned space missions. US space agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) recently released a roadmap of how it intends to put a man on Mars by the 2030s. As astronauts at the International Space…


Mars One is a non-profit foundation formed in 2011 with the intention of establishing the first human settlement on the planet Mars. This is not a fly-by-night operation; it is a serious endeavor founded by intelligent and capable experts who have researched the feasibility and the risks and are prepared to launch a one-way mission to colonize the Red Planet. Crew selection began in 2013, and the first unmanned flight, intended to lay the groundwork for a habitable colony, is currently scheduled to launch in 2018. The first crew is scheduled to launch in 2024.

In other commentaries I have argued that our first priority should be returning to the Moon; in fact, that any Mars effort would be doomed to fail without a Moon base first. However, Mars One is a little different

Mars One was established by Bas Lansdorp, an entrepreneur and scientist whose other efforts include founding Ampyx power and developing new and more viable ways of using wind energy, and Arno Wielders, who worked on …

Is a Google-Virgin Galactic Deal in the Works?

While Elon Musk’s lawsuit against the U.S. Air Force has dominated the headlines, another development with the potential to restructure the space industry has flown completely under the radar: a deepening relationship between Virgin Galactic and Google.
Overt the past month, Virgin Galactic conducted a series of Google Hangouts about its space tourism program in conjunction with the Google Science Fair. One hangout featured VG Vice President William Pomerantz and Richard Branson’s son, Sam; a second had three engineers live from The Spaceship Company’s FAITH hangar in Mojave, Calif; and a third featured two ticket holders who will be aboard future SpaceShipTwo suborbital tourism flights.
On Friday, the Internet colossus returned the favor by sending Megan Smith of Google[x] — the company’s secretive advanced research unit — to participate in a Virgin Disruptors panel discussion on innovation that was also streamed as a Google Hangout. Sir Richard was on hand to provide his thoughts, a…

Our Sun's Long Lost Stellar 'Sister' Found

Stars like the sun may end up alone but they are born in stellar nurseries, with a thousand — or a hundred thousand — siblings. Over time, the family disbands, victims of gravitational nudges and other tidings after 4.5 billion years of life in the cosmos. Astronomers have been on the hunt for solar siblings as part of a quest to learn more about how and where the sun was born and perhaps why our star became host to a life-bearing planet. This week, a team headed by the University of Texas reports it has found a star that “almost certainly” formed from the same cloud of gas and dust that produced the sun. The star, known as HD 162826, is about 15 percent bigger than the sun and located about 110 light-years away in the constellation Hercules.
Scientists matched the star’s chemistry — telltale concentrations of the rare elements barium and yttrium proved particularly useful — with the sun’s chemical components. They also tracked HD 162826’s past orbits around the center of the Milky W…

Google Lunar X Prize Will Make a Trip to the Moon as Normal as an International Flight

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Will the moon find a place on the mainstream travel map of the future? If the ongoing moon-landing contest led by Google's(GOOG)(GOOGL) Lunar X Prize are anything to go by, it will. Soon, traveling to the moon will become as seamless as a transatlantic flight, according to the teams behind Lunar X Prize, an international $30 million incentive-based initiative that marks Google's shift from the vanguard of a technology-driven future to a catalyst for something the world has never seen before. "Our goal is to make the moon as close as the next continent," John Thornton, CEO ofAstrobotic, which participated in the Lunar X Prize competition, told the media this week. Astrobotic, which has developed a Red Rover that is capable of landing on the moon, is among 18 teams vying for the Lunar X Prize, which will confer an award of $30 million to the first private company that lands a robotic spacecraft on the moon, navigates one-third of a mile over th…