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Showing posts from February, 2017

SpaceX to Fly Passengers On Private Trip Around the Moon in 2018

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SpaceX will fly two private citizens on a trip around the moon in 2018, the company's founder Elon Musk announced Monday (Feb. 27).

The private spaceflight company will use its Falcon Heavy rocket to send the two paying passengers into space aboard one of the company's Dragon spacecraft. The two private citizens, who have not yet been named, approached SpaceX about taking a trip around the moon, and have "already paid a significant deposit" for the cost of the mission, according to a statement from the company. The names of the two individuals will be announced later, pending the result of initial health tests to ensure their fitness for the mission, the statement said.

"Like the Apollo astronauts before them, these individuals will travel into space carrying the hopes and dreams of all humankind, driven by the universal human spirit of exploration," SpaceX representatives said in the statement.

The two passengers will be the only people on board what is e…

Astronomers find 7 Earth-size planets where life is possible

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Astronomers have found a nearby solar system with seven Earth-sized planets, three of which circle their parent star at the right distance for liquid surface water, raising the prospect of life, research published on Wednesday showed.

The star, known as TRAPPIST-1, is a small, dim celestial body in the constellation Aquarius. It is located about 40 light years away from Earth. Researchers said the proximity of the system, combined with the proportionally large size of its planets compared to the small star, make it a good target for follow-up studies.

They hope to scan the planets' atmospheres for possible chemical fingerprints of life.

"I think that we've made a crucial step towards finding if there is life out there," University of Cambridge astronomer Amaury Triaud told reporters on a conference call on Tuesday.

The discovery, published in this week's issue of the journal Nature, builds on previous research showing three planets circling TRAPPIST-1. They are …

50 Years of Presidential Visions for Space Exploration

Nasa announces press conference on 'discovery beyond our solar system'

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Nasa will hold a press conference on Wednesday to present a "discovery beyond our solar system," leading to speculation that the announcement will involve planets capable of sustaining life.

The agency has offered no details on the upcoming presentation other than that it will involve "exoplanets".

Astronomers have been studying such planets, which orbit stars other than the sun, for clues as to whether, and where, life could exist beyond the earth.

Nasa has analysed dozens of planets that orbit sun-like stars at similar distances as the earth to the sun.

The first earth-like planet to be discovered was, Kepler-186f, a rocky planet that lies within the so-called "habitable zone" and is similar in size to earth. The Kepler space telescope has now located many more such planets.

At a press conference earlier this year Nasa announced the discoveries of 1,284 new planets, nine of which were in the "habitable zone".

“One of the great questions of al…

CRS 10 Falcon 9 First Stage Landing

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NASA, heeding Trump, may add astronauts to a test flight moon mission

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President Trump has indicated that he wants to make a splash in space. During his transition, he spoke with historian Douglas Brinkley about John F. Kennedy's famous 1961 vow to go to the moon before the decade was out. Now Trump and his aides may do something very similar: demand that NASA send astronauts to orbit the moon before the end of Trump's first term — a move that one Trump adviser said would be a clear signal to the Chinese that the U.S. intends to retain dominance in space.

NASA already has a plan to launch its new, jumbo Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with an Orion capsule on top in late 2018, a mission known as EM-1. No one would be aboard. The capsule would orbit the moon and return to Earth, splashing down in the ocean.

This is intended as the first test flight of SLS and part of the integration of the new rocket and new capsule. Significantly, the SLS and Orion are both still under construction.

According to current plans, a crewed mission, EM-2, would not …

NASA bets big on private sector to put humans on Mars

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NASA will continue tapping the private sector to fund space exploration efforts under President Trump, marking a continuation in policy that first began under former president Barack Obama.
"Public-private partnerships are the future of space exploration," Dava Newman, a former NASA deputy administrator who resigned before Trump took office, told CNBC on Tuesday. "I call it the new NASA."

In total, 22 companies—all American—have won contracts with the agency across a diverse range of sectors, from in-space manufacturing to engine development.

Boeing and Elon Musk's SpaceX will be delivering NASA astronauts to international space stations, while Orbital ATK, Sierra Nevada and SpaceX will transport NASA cargo to space stations, said Newman, who is now chair of the Apollo Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

NASA is a part of the U.S. government, but remains independent while still receiving federal funds —a structure originally conceived by McKi…

60 new planets found around stars on our galactic doorstep

Astronomers have discovered 60 new planets orbiting stars near the Earth’s solar system.

The team of international scientists, which include Dr Mikko Tuomi of the University of Hertfordshire, also found evidence of a further 54 planets – bringing the total number of potential new worlds to 114.

A hot “super-Earth” with a rocky surface located in the fourth nearest star system to the sun was among the extrasolar planets discovered.

A visualisation of red and blue shifts of starlight caused by a planet’s gravitational pull. (University of Hertfordshire/PA)
Researchers said the planet – named Gliese 411b – demonstrates that “virtually all” the nearest stars to the sun have planets orbiting them and some of these “could be like Earth”.

The results are based on almost 61,000 individual observations of 1,600 stars taken over a 20-year period by US astronomers using the Keck-I telescope in Hawaii.

The observations were part of the Lick-Carnegie Exoplanet Survey, which was started in 1996 by …

Has China beaten Nasa in building warp-drive technology dubbed the 'impossible engine'?

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CHINA claims to have pipped Nasa into building an ‘impossible’ warp drive engine that will help get humans to Mars in a matter of weeks.

Back in November, leaked documents showed that Nasa believed that it had cracked the once impossible warp drive mystery and were working on an engine that could drastically reduce the time that it takes to travel through space.

Super-fast warp drive – faster than any travel currently available – would make it possible to travel to the Moon in a matter of hours.

The warp drive Nasa was working on is an EM Drive which is an engine that would outperform any booster that is currently available and has no exhaust.

The technology works by bouncing microwaves around inside a closed engine. The microwaves subsequently push against the side of the container, acting as a propellor.

This was once considered impossible as it violate Newton’s third law – for every action, there is an equal reaction.
The new engine would also make it possible to get humans to Mars…

SpaceX fires Falcon 9 rocket engines at historic KSC pad

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Smoke and fire on Sunday poured from a Kennedy Space Center launch pad for the first time since NASA's final shuttle mission blasted off more than five years ago.

It only lasted for a few seconds, as planned, but the long-awaited test-firing of a Falcon 9 rocket's nine main engines around 4:30 p.m. signaled that historic launch pad 39A may soon begin a new chapter launching commercial rockets.

And SpaceX may soon be ready to resume launches from Florida, halted after its rocket explosion last September.

SpaceX will review data from the "static fire" test, but may be ready to launch supplies to the International Space Station for NASA as soon as Saturday, Feb. 18, around 10 a.m.

Sunday's engine firing, which SpaceX confirmed on Twitter, completed several days of work to shake out new systems installed at pad 39A for Falcon launches.

The rocket on Friday was rolled up to the pad and lifted vertical. Preparations were in place to complete the test that day or on Sa…

NASA APPROVES FIRST COMMERCIAL AIRLOCK FOR SPACE STATION SCIENCE AND SMALLSAT DEPLOYMENT

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In a significant move towards further expansion of the International Space Station’s (ISS) burgeoning research and commercial space economy capabilities, NASA has approved the development of the first privately developed airlock and is targeting blastoff to the orbiting lab complex in two years.

Plans call for the commercial airlock to be launched on a commercial cargo vessel and installed on the U.S. segment of the ISS in 2019.

It enhances the US capability to place equipment and payloads outside and should triple the number of small satellites like CubeSats able to be deployed.

The privately funded commercial airlock is being developed by Nanoracks in partnership with Boeing, which is the prime contractor for the space station.

The airlock will be installed on an open port on the Tranquility module – that already is home to the seven windowed domed Cupola observation deck and the commercial BEAM expandable module built by Bigelow Aerospace.

“We want to utilize the space station to …

Trump advisers' space plan: To moon, Mars and beyond

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A push for privatization is inspiring a battle between aerospace contractors and the new breed of tech entrepreneurs.
The Trump administration is considering a bold and controversial vision for the U.S. space program that calls for a "rapid and affordable" return to the moon by 2020, the construction of privately operated space stations and the redirection of NASA's mission to "the large-scale economic development of space," according to internal documents obtained by POLITICO.

The proposed strategy, whose potential for igniting a new industry appeals to Trump’s business background and job-creation pledges, is influencing the White House’s search for leaders to run the space agency. And it is setting off a struggle for supremacy between traditional aerospace contractors and the tech billionaires who have put big money into private space ventures.

"It is a big fight," said former Republican Rep. Robert Walker of Pennsylvania, who drafted the Trump camp…

Under Trump, astronauts might chart a new path to a familiar place: The moon

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A return to the moon is gaining traction. A trip to an asteroid looks iffy. And Mars is still the ultimate destination.

The space program did not get much attention in last year's presidential race. But President Trump's promise to "Make America Great Again" will likely include a refocus on — if not a return to — to the moon, which astronauts last visited in 1972.

Expect also more partnering with private firms on space activities and missions and a reduction in NASA's role monitoring Earth's rising temperatures and sea levels.

Here are six questions (and answers) about the space program under the Trump administration:

Who in the Trump administration will be deciding the direction of the nation’s space program?

The name most mentioned early on to head NASA has been Oklahoma GOP Rep. Jim Bridenstine, a former naval aviator who sits on the Space Subcommittee of the Science, Space and Technology Committee and has been a champion for giving aerospace firms a grea…

UAE Mars mission gets launch date

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UAE's unmanned probe, Hope will be launched in July 2020 from Japan, making it the Arab World's first mission to the Red Planet, a senior Space scientist told Khaleej Times.

"We are delighted to launch the UAE's Mars explorer by the Japanese launch vehicle H-IIA from Tanegashima Space Center in Japan in 2020. We are confident that we will accomplish our responsibility, together with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries," said Yuichi Yamaura, Vice President, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

He was speaking on the sidelines of the second day of the Global Space Congress held in the Capital. The two-day forum, held under the patronage of His Highness, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, was attended by more than 600 experts and focused greatly on the future of UAE's Space programme and Mars expeditions.

Yamaura pointed out that the H-IIA rocket model will also launch the satellite, KhalifaSat …

Making commercial space great

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In everything from military power to economic output, outer space capabilities are crucial for the United States. Though these capabilities have long been the domain of large government programs, commercial space companies are increasingly pushing progress. Unfortunately, these companies are hindered by cumbersome, confusing, and capricious governance practices. To ensure that America continues to be a leader in outer space, the U.S. government must reform how it oversees commercial outer space.

The first step of reform should involve a thorough review of the government’s organizational approach to space oversight authorities. Currently, the authorities for activities in space are housed in a range of agencies—each with a different perspective on commercial space. Depending on the satellite or equipment being launched, a commercial company can undergo reviews by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Department of Commerce (DOC), the DOD, the State Department, and the Federal Com…