Showing posts from June, 2016

Dream Chaser tapped for UN space mission

The Colorado-built Dream Chaser space plane could carry payloads into orbit for the United Nations under an unusual agreement. Louisville-based Sierra Nevada Corp. Space Systems, maker of the experimental re-usable space plane, and the UN Office of Outer Space Affairs signed a memorandum of understanding to work out having the Dream Chaser take at least one payload into space. The idea is to have participating UN member nations to work with SNC Space Systems on using Dream Chaser as a “flexible SUV” for low-orbit missions, the company said. “Our vision, in partnership with the UN, is to provide UN member countries affordable access to space and a range of multi-mission opportunities using the Dream Chaser spacecraft to host a wide range of payloads,” said Mark Sirangelo, SNC vice president and lead executive for the company’s space systems division. “Countries will be able to customize their participation level commensurate with the maturity of their space capabilities and na

China plans mega rocket for manned lunar missions

China is planning to start using a huge carrier rocket powerful enough for manned lunar missions before 2031. The new rocket will measure over a hundred meters in length and nearly 10 meters in diameter under the current design, according to a statement issued on Friday by the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technologies (CALT), developer of the country's Long March rocket series, It will have a maximum payload capacity more than five times as high as the current Long March series rockets, the CALT said, without offering specific figures. At present, the Chinese rocket capable of carrying most weight is the Long March-5, which is scheduled to debut in the latter half of this year. It is expected that the large thrust rocket, with a diameter of five meters, will boast a payload capacity of 25 tonnes to low Earth orbit (LEO), or 14 tonnes to geostationary transfer orbit. Able to carry more weight, China's new rocket could be used in deep space missions such as manned luna

Why This Former NASA Exec Is Building a Private Space Station

With his new startup Axiom Space, Mike Suffredini has big plans for the future of space travel. When the International Space Station (ISS) is taken out of commission in 2024, it will end a a 26-year run as a hub of experimentation and exploration in low Earth orbit. One former NASA employee sees that as a big opportunity. Mike Suffredini, the former manager of the ISS at NASA, has co-founded a startup with the intention of building a brand new, private space station. The company, Axiom Space LLC, will build a module to attach to the current ISS, and will eventually expand that module into a full station that can be used for space tourism and research.  Suffredini first made the announcement at the NewSpace 2016 conference in Seattle on June 22. He'd been working at a space company that provides engineering and IT service to the federal government, Stinger Ghaffarian Technologies, or SGT, since leaving NASA in September. SGT's founder, Kam Ghaffarian, will be Su

NASA to Test Powerful Rocket Booster

A massive fireball will light up the northern Utah town of Promontory Tuesday as NASA tests its SLS rocket booster. It's going to be scorching hot in northern Utah on Tuesday as NASA tests a booster for its powerful Space Launch System (SLS). The SLS is the world's most powerful rocket, and will lift NASA's deep-space Orion crew vehicle into space, carrying astronauts to destinations like Mars and near-Earth asteroids. Last year, it fired up the SLS booster for the very first time, producing 3.6 million pounds of thrust (and a massive fireball) in two minutes of awesome; check it out in the video below. Now it's ready for test No. 2 at a facility owned by commercial partner Orbital ATK in Promontory, Utah. Watch live on NASA TV at 10:05 a.m. EDT Tuesday morning. A pre-show begins at 9:30 a.m. and a post-test news conference is scheduled for 11 a.m. A live video stream is embedded below. "In 2015, NASA completed the critical design review – a first for a

Russia, China may cooperate in developing heavy space rocket — diplomat

The two countries are discussing the prospects of cooperation in space rocket engine-making, creating a heavy rocket, space stations and making long-distance space flights BEIJING, June 21. /TASS/. Russia and China are actively discussing the prospects of cooperation in space rocket engine-making, creating a heavy rocket, space stations and making long-distance space flights, Russia’s Ambassador to China Andrey Denisov told TASS on Tuesday. "Our country has substantial potential accumulated in the sphere of engine-making. This is a well-known fact," the ambassador said. "I would emphasize cooperation in outer space activity as a whole rather than a specific delivery of a batch of goods. The point is not to deliver specific equipment but to organize long-term mutually advantageous cooperation of the sides, which are objectively close to each other from the viewpoint of technical and technological compatibility." "The Chinese space industry was largely cr

The New Moon Shot

On a September day in Texas, a President’s words ignited the spirit, endeavour, and determination of a nation and set in motion arguably the most significant event in human exploration. “We choose to go to the Moon, we choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” At the time – 1962 – many didn’t believe President Kennedy’s vision was possible. Only four Americans had flown into space, of those only two had orbited the Earth. The Soviets were ahead in the Space Race. Yet in just over a decade, twelve American men had walked on the surface of the Moon. The impossible become possible. And America had won the race. Today, there are still only twelve men who have walked on the surface of the Moon. Of those, seven are still alive. The youngest is now 80. According to Apollo 11 Moonwalker, Buzz Aldrin, we could have gone beyond the Moon to Mars ‘as early as the 1980s or at the very latest the 1990s’. Yet somewhere

NASA and SpaceX Are Partnering to Send the Red Dragon to Mars

NASA is partnering up with SpaceX to send an unmanned spaceship to Mars. It's a deal that should pay off well for the federal space agency. NASA and SpaceX are going to be working together to send SpaceX's unmanned spacecraft, the Red Dragon, to Mars in 2018. The Red Dragon will be a souped up version of SpaceX's Dragon capsule designed to enter the Martian atmosphere and then use its on-board engines to land softly on the planet's surface.  The original deal, announced in April by NASA and SpaceX, was cobbled together out of a revised existing unfunded Space Act Agreement to focus on a planned mission to send an unmanned craft to Mars in 2018. Working from this agreement, NASA will provide technical support for the Red Dragon's launch, travels and landing. In exchange SpaceX will give NASA data from the Red Dragon's entry, descent and landing to help NASA plan its own Mars mission slated for the 2030s, according to Space News.  For NASA, this i

Would it be immoral to send out a generation starship?

If human beings are ever to colonise other planets – which might become necessary for the survival of the species, given how far we have degraded this one – they will almost certainly have to use generation ships: spaceships that will support not just those who set out on them, but also their descendants. The vast distances between Earth and the nearest habitable planets, combined with the fact that we are unlikely ever to invent a way of travelling that exceeds the speed of light, ensures that many generations will be born, raised and die on board such a ship before it arrives at its destination. A generation ship would have to be a whole society in microcosm, with hospitals and schools, living quarters and perhaps entertainment districts, a security force, maybe even a judiciary. It would need to be able to provide food for its crew, and that might require agriculture or aquaculture, perhaps even domestic animals (which might also be needed for the colonisation effort). Its desig

Scientists discover a giant planet that orbits two suns – and could have habitable moons

Some worlds have more than one sun in their sky. Now scientists say they've confirmed the existence of the largest-ever planet orbiting a pair of binary stars – a gas giant with the same mass and radius as Jupiter. Exoplanets like this one – situated in their stars' habitable zone and massive enough to lasso in many rocky moons – could be an interesting place to go looking for signs of alien life. The newly confirmed behemoth has been dubbed Kepler-1647 b, and it sits 3,700 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus. At an estimated 4.4 billion years old, it's roughly the same age as Earth. But it's nothing like our home planet. It's what is known as a circumbinary world – one that orbits two suns that dance together as a binary pair – and it's the size of Jupiter, a planet with a diameter more than 11 times that of Earth's. Its suns are pretty similar to our own (one is slightly smaller and the other slightly larger) but, well, there are two of them.

WATCH LIVE: ‘Potentially habitable’ alien planet moves across its host star


SpaceX lays out a roadmap to getting humans to Mars in a decade

Elon Musk reveals news about his plan for a manned Mars mission. Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, has always had the dream of sending the human race to Mars. Now, thanks to SpaceX’s advancements, that dream is not far off. In an interview with The Washington Post , Musk divulges some new details on his plan to get to Mars. The first step in his plan is to send an uncrewed spacecraft to Mars as early as 2018. These missions will continue every two years when Earth and Mars are at closest approach supplying rovers and science experiments to the Red Planet, and testing pertinent systems of the spacecrafts. “Essentially what we’re saying is we’re establishing a cargo route to Mars,” Musk told The Post. “It’s a regular cargo route. You can count on it. It’s going happen every 26 months. Like a train leaving the station.” The 2018 mission will utilize one of SpaceX’s new spacecraft called the Dragon, which will be launched into space by the new Falcon Heavy rocket. This

Elon Musk plans first relaunch of SpaceX rocket

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is moving ahead with a plan to relaunch one of his rockets this fall. "Fourth rocket arrives in the hangar," Musk tweeted on Tuesday. "Aiming for first reflight on Sept/Oct." The message from Musk, who is also the CEO of Tesla Motors (TSLA), included a photo of the four reusable rockets that have been successfully recovered by the company. SpaceX completed its most recent successful flight on May 6, landing the first stage of one of its Falcon 9 rockets on a floating barge in the Atlantic Ocean. The rocket had launched from Cape Canaveral and delivered the JCSAT-14 communications satellite for the Japanese telecom Sky Perfect JSAT Corp. Landing an upright rocket on a floating platform is not an easy feat, and SpaceX had multiple crash landings before it was able to do its first successful sea landing on April 8. The ability to use rockets in multiple launches is crucial to cutting the cost of space travel and exploration. Mos

Plan to Turn Asteroids Into Spaceships Could Spur Off-Earth Mining

Plan to Turn Asteroids Into Spaceships Could Spur Off-Earth Mining A few decades from now, asteroids may be flying themselves to mining outposts in space, nobly sacrificing their abundant resources to help open the final frontier to humanity. That's the vision of California-based company Made In Space, which was recently awarded NASA funding to investigate how to turn asteroids into giant, autonomous spacecraft. The project, known as RAMA (Reconstituting Asteroids into Mechanical Automata), is part of Made In Space's long-term plan to enable space colonization by helping make off-Earth manufacturing efficient and economically viable. "Today, we have the ability to bring resources from Earth," Made In Space co-founder and chief technology officer Jason Dunn told "But when we get to a tipping point where we need the resources in space, then the question becomes, 'Where do they come from and how do we get them, and how do we deliver them to

U.S. government close to approving private moon mission, reports say

A commercial space company could be one step closer to landing its spacecraft on the moon in a regulatory move that might help open space exploration beyond Earth orbit to private firms. The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that U.S. regulators were set to give “mission approval” to Mountain View, Calif., company Moon Express to land its MX-1 lander on the moon and to conduct a two-week operation. Previously, only nations have launched missions beyond Earth orbit. The Journal said official action coordinated through the Federal Aviation Administration, which licenses and approves all commercial rocket launches, could come in the next few weeks. Moon Express issued a statement that it could not elaborate on the “groundbreaking developments,” but that the company was “very optimistic” about its proposal. The MX-1 lander, which Moon Express said is capable of carrying scientific and commercial payloads, is set to blast off in 2017 on Los Angeles-based Rocket Lab’s Elec

NASA astronaut Jeff Williams to enter BEAM to find out challenges, benefits of Expandable Space Habitat

NASA astronaut Jeff Williams will step inside the first Expandable Space Habitat which was recently deployed at the International Space Station (ISS). NASA astronaut Jeff Williams will step inside the first Expandable Space Habitat which was recently deployed at the International Space Station (ISS). Jeff Williams will investigate the potential challenges as well as advantages of such habitats for deep space exploration and commercial low-Earth orbit applications. The beginning of a two-year data collection process will be marked with Jeff Williams’ entry on Monday, June 6. The tasks that will be performed by Jeff Williams will include taking an air sample, placing caps on the now closed ascent vent valves, installing ducting to assist in Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM’s) air circulation, retrieving deployment data sensors and manually opening the tanks used for pressurisation to ensure all of the air has been released, NASA said in a statement. Over the following t

Musk: SpaceX could take humans to Mars in 9 years

RANCHO PALOS VERDES, Ca — Elon Musk believes SpaceX should be able to land humans on Mars nine years from now. Musk reiterated confidence in his Mars timeline at the Code Conference on Wednesday night. “If things go according to plan, we should be able to — we should be able to — launch people in 2024, with arrival in 2025,” Musk said. “That’s the game plan,” he added. Musk said he’s planning to share an architectural plan for the colonization of Mars at a conference in September. The tech conference audience was enthralled by Musk’s comments. He told interviewers Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg that plotting travel throughout the Solar System, and “ultimately other star systems,” provides the kind of inspiration that makes life worth living. Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, has previously said that he would “like to die on Mars, just not on impact.” On Wednesday night he quipped that he doesn’t have a “Martian death wish,” but “I think if you’re going to choose a place to die,

Humans to Mars by 2028? Check Out Lockheed Martin's Red Planet 'Base Camp' Idea

Lockheed Martin has launched its campaign to establish a "Mars Base Camp" — a vision for sending humans to Mars by 2028. In its Mars Base Camp concept video, the aerospace company Lockheed Martin lays out a plan that would transport astronauts from Earth to a Mars-orbiting science laboratory, where they could perform real-time scientific exploration, analyze Martian rock and soil samples,and confirm the ideal place to land humans on the surface. Lockheed Martin foresees launching this orbiting science station in 2028, setting the stage for a human landing mission in the 2030s. Key elements The elements of Mars Base Camp are: Orion: NASA's in-development crew capsule, built with deep-space life support, communications and navigation capabilities; Space Launch System: NASA's super-heavy-lift rocket, designed to send critical labs, habitats and supplies to Mars; Habitats: Deep-space habitats will give astronauts room to live and work on the way to