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Showing posts from March, 2017

Photon Rockets Might Make Mars A Three Minute Trip

Planck photon rocket drives --- which in theory could hit velocities equal to 99.999 percent the speed of light --- might eventually offer propulsion engineers a way to drastically reduce interstellar travel times without trashing the laws of physics as we currently understand them. A hypothetical photon rocket’s directional thrust would come from photons (or electromagnetic radiation in the form of light) and turn a one-way journey to Mars into a three-minute and four second trip.

In a forthcoming paper in the journal Acta Astronautica, a Norwegian professor argues that the theoretical ultimate speed limit of any spacecraft falls just below lightspeed in a vacuum, or 186,282 miles per second   But that's also still considerably beyond the limits of what can currently be achieved in today's particle accelerators.

“The fuel is converted into light which leads to radiation pressure that drives the rocket forward ,” said Haug, who teaches quantitative finance at the Norwegian Uni…

The warp drive: from science fiction towards science fact?

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Not so long ago we had to assume that we’ll never be able to travel faster than light. This was based on scientists’ sensible belief that we can travel through space but cannot change the nature of space itself. Then the idea of ‘Warp Drive’ came along to challenge and seemingly change all of the barriers that Einstein’s theory identified. Warp Drive is all about squashing and stretching space — a pretty ambitious task to begin with. So maybe it’s time again to have a look at how far we’ve already come or how close we are to seeing a real warp drive built by humans.
In May 1994, theoretical physicist Miguel Alcubierre finally presented his proposal of “The Warp Drive: Hyper-fast travel within general relativity” in a scientific journal called Classical and Quantum Gravity.
He indeed was inspired by Star Trek and its creator Gene Roddenberry, who famously coined the expression “Warp Drive” to explain the inexplicable propulsion of the Starship Enterprise as prodigious speed was just n…

Announcement: Final Stage Preparations For James Webb Telescope Launch Underway

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James Webb Telescope is quite possibly the most ingenious scientific instrument that has ever been made by men. According to the scientists working on it, the telescope will help in unraveling many celestial mysteries. The most important questions that the telescope will seek an answer to are as follows: Was the first ever galaxy to be formed of the Big Bang? Can the TRAPPIST 1 planets support the existence of alien life?

The telescope is designed to catch the faintest of the signals coming from outer space. This enables it to search and explore the possibility of existence of habitable planets in distant star systems. James Webb Space Telescope is the first of its kind, which is designed with mobile parts. It will be launched into space in 2018, and the scientists from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center are busy doing the final stage testing.

NASA is taking all necessary steps to keep the press and public updated about the progress of the telescope. The JWST NASA web page is reg…

Trump renews NASA mission for human space travel, deep space exploration

President Trump put NASA on course for a mission to Mars and beyond Tuesday, signing a bill that authorized boosting the agency’s current year budget to $19.5 billion and restoring its focus on manned space flights.

Mr. Trump spoke in historic terms about the renewed charge of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which was expanded to include “the search for life’s origins, evolution, distribution, and future in the universe” in at the agency’s mission statement.

“Almost half a century ago our brave astronauts first planted the American flag on the moon. That was a big moment in our history. Now this nation is ready to be the first in space once again,” he said at a signing ceremony in the Oval Office.

“Today we are taking the initial steps toward a bold and bright new future of American space flight,” said the president, who was surrounded by several NASA astronauts and a group of lawmakers from both sides of the aisle.

Congress has not passed a NASA authorization bill …

British EmDrive Inventor Just Patented A New Design For The Next-Gen Space Engine

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Writing that the EmDrive is going full steam ahead would be somewhat of an understatement. Besides the obvious pun, British inventor Roger Shawyer was now able to have his latest patent application for a next-generation superconducting thruster published by the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO).

So his controversial development to allow us real space propulsion is going ahead and as planned. You can actually check out the patent describing a thruster, featuring a single flat superconducting plate on one end and a unique, non-superconducting shaped plate on the other.

If you have been following technology like this more closely, you probably know that the renowned inventor needs to minimize the unavoidable internal Doppler effect. If you haven’t learned about that shift, it’s the change in frequency or wavelength of a wave for an observer moving relative to its source.

Shawyer ‘solves’ this problem to some degree by using circular polarization and a phase-locked loop to control th…

Trump signs NASA bill, ponders sending Congress to space

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump signed legislation Tuesday adding human exploration of Mars to NASA’s mission. Could sending Congress into space be next?

Flanked at an Oval Office bill-signing ceremony by astronauts and lawmakers, Trump observed that being an astronaut is a “pretty tough job.” He said he wasn’t sure he’d want it and, among lawmakers he put the question to, Sen. Ted Cruz said he wouldn’t want to be a space traveler, either.

But Cruz, R-Texas, offered up a tantalizing suggestion. “You could send Congress to space,” he said to laughter, including from the president.

Trump, who faces a crucial House vote later this week on legislation long promised by Republicans to overhaul the Obama-era Affordable Care Act health law, readily agreed. The health care bill is facing resistance from some conservative members of the party.

“What a great idea that could be,” Trump said, before turning back to the space exploration measure sponsored by Cruz and Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.

T…

Buzz Aldrin says this is the problem with Elon Musk’s plans for Mars

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SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk's plans to colonize Mars are "bodacious," says Buzz Aldrin, who, as part of NASA's July 1969 Apollo 11 mission, was one of the first men on the moon.

While Aldrin respects Musk's ambition, he also points out that the tech billionaire is more focused on traveling to Mars than what people will do when they arrive there.

"He's a transportation person. He builds rockets," says Aldrin, speaking in Austin on Tuesday at the SXSW Festivals & Conferences.

Aldrin, now 87, recalls talking to Musk about his plans with regards to the red planet three or four years ago over lunch.

Aldrin summarizes the tech entrepreneur's response this way: "'We know how to get to Mars. We are going to build a big rocket, put a dragon on top, and go land on Mars.'" Musk has even named the hopefully Mars-bound spacecraft Dragon.

At lunch, Aldrin pressed Musk about the next steps: "Well, now, when your dragon lands on…

Buzz Aldrin: 'You don't just go to Mars for a day and come back'

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Pioneering astronaut Buzz Aldrin is best known for being the second man to step foot on the moon. Now, he's stepping into a new space -- virtual reality -- and hoping to inspire interest in space exploration and communicate his plan to send humans to Mars to this and future generations.

At the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, the 87-year old former astronaut and engineer debuted his new VR experience, created by virtual reality company 8i, called "Cycling Pathways to Mars." The 10-minute immersive experience is being billed as "the first legacy virtual reality project," which guides users on a trip to the moon and the red planet.

In an interview with CNBC, Aldrin said virtual reality provides a "great experience of almost being there… and that's going to be wonderful for expressing a number of ideas." While Aldrin is excited about the technology as a teaching tool, he said VR is still "an individual participation," and ad…

Lockheed Martin says Mars Base Camp possible by 2028

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While NASA evaluates how soon it can send astronauts on a loop around the moon in an Orion capsule, Lockheed Martin is promoting a concept that would send crews on a three-year trip around Mars in just over a decade.

"This is all doable in the next 10 to 12 years," said Tony Antonelli, a former NASA space shuttle pilot who heads advanced civil space programs for Lockheed Martin, lead contractor for the Orion spacecraft being assembled at Kennedy Space Center. "All that we have to do is decide that we’re going to go collectively, together — government, industry, international participation. This is a mission for citizens of Earth, and there’s a role for everyone to play."

Addressing more than 300 guests at the National Space Club Florida Committee's meeting on Tuesday, held at the KSC Visitor Complex, Antonelli outlined Lockheed's concept for a "Mars base camp."

The symmetrical spacecraft would feature Orion capsules on either end of habitat and l…

Trump's NASA budget preserves Mars mission, cuts Earth science, asteroid trip, education

WASHINGTON — No more mission to bring astronauts to an asteroid, but stable funding for a trip to Mars. A cut in Earth science programs, but support for a mission to study Jupiter’s icy moon Europa. Elimination of education programs, but more resources to improve cybersecurity of the space program.

President Trump is proposing a $19.1 billion budget for NASA in 2018 that is about the same as the current year’s $19.3 billion allocation – not bad considering the president is proposing deep cuts in many non-Defense programs. EPA alone would see a 31% reduction.

But Trump’s vision for NASA calls for some dramatic shifts from the priorities the space agency pursued under President Obama, according to a broad budget outline the White House released Thursday. Line-item details on the administration’s proposed spending plan for NASA and other executive branch agencies are expected in the coming weeks.

“The budget increases cooperation with industry through the use of public-private partnershi…

Echostar XXIII Hosted Webcast

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Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin Plans Crewed Launch Within a Year

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — The spaceflight company Blue Origin, which was founded by Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos, plans to launch its first crewed flight to suborbital space soon.

"We're trying to get to our first human flights within the next year. That's a laser focus for the team right now," Erika Wagner, Blue Origin's business development manager, told the audience at the New Space Age Conference on Saturday (March 11) here at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management.

In November 2015, Blue Origin made history when it landed its New Shepard rocket after an uncrewed test flight to suborbital space. This was the first time that any company or country had successfully completed a vertical takeoff and landing with a reusable rocket during a mission to space.

"We're pretty proud of that milestone," Wagner said.

Over the next year, Blue Origin launched and landed that same rocket four more times, further demonstrating the reus…

Private firms helping NASA wean itself off the Russians

Mankind is once again on the verge of traveling to the moon thanks to private companies who now play a leading role in the future of space exploration. And these partnerships are opening a path by which NASA can shed its expensive dependence on Russia.

At the end of last month, SpaceX announced it will send two private citizens who paid a "significant deposit" around the moon and back to Earth. If successful, the flight would be the farthest distance any human has flown from Earth.

Through successful resupply missions to the International Space Station, Tesla CEO Elon Musk's SpaceX and United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of defense contractors Boeing and Lockheed Martin, have already proven that commercial enterprises can assist the space program. The next step, before the moon shot, is for these private ventures to send people up to the space station 220 miles above the Earth.

The future looks bright for space flight in the halls of the U.S. Capitol. Brendan Curry, …

NASA Tests SpaceX Crew Dragon Capsule's Life-Support Systems

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NASA engineers are evaluating the life-support system planned for SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule to make sure it will keep astronauts safe while they're traveling to and from the International Space Station.

SpaceX built the ECLSS (pronounced EE'-cliss, and short for "environmental control and life support system") Module to test the essential life-support systems for the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft, which could fly crewed missions to the orbiting lab as soon as 2018. The module is a prototype spacecraft designed "as close to the specifications of operational spacecraft as possible," allowing engineers to work out all the kinks before flight versions of the Crew Dragon are manufactured, NASA officials said in a statement.

While NASA engineers are helping to evaluate the ECLSS Module, SpaceX is building the spacecraft, launch systems and operational networks that will carry astronauts to the space station on missions for NASA's Commercial Cre…

Trump, with NASA, has a new rocket and spaceship. Where’s he going to go?

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NEW ORLEANS — NASA is building a jumbo rocket. It’s called the Space Launch System, or simply the SLS. The core stage of the SLS is slowly materializing in a sprawling facility on the outskirts of the city. Technicians are welding up a storm and have completed the largest component — a liquid hydrogen fuel tank that’s 133 feet from nose to tail and looks like a shiny metallic zeppelin.

“This is our big boy,” said NASA engineer Stephen C. Doering, dwarfed by the tank resting on cradles in a high bay.

NASA has a complicated way of building rockets that funnels money to multiple states in the southeastern United States. The SLS program is based in Alabama, at the Marshall Space Flight Center. Engine tests will be done in Mississippi, at the Stennis Space Center. The final stacking of the rocket and the launch will be from Cape Canaveral, Fla., at the Kennedy Space Center.

Construction of the core stage is handled here in Louisiana, at the Michoud Assembly Facility, which covers the equi…

Under Trump, the Moon regains interest as possible destination

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Washington (AFP) - Dismissed by former US president Barack Obama as a place explorers had already seen, the Moon has once again gained interest as a potential destination under Donald Trump's presidency.

Private sector companies in particular are energized by the prospect of future space exploration missions beyond low-Earth orbit, where the International Space Station circles the Earth.

Even though Trump himself has said little about the subject, his close circle and some former NASA officials have made clear their interest in returning to the Moon by way of partnerships with the private sector.

Billionaire Elon Musk, the president and chief executive of SpaceX, along with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who also runs a rocket company called Blue Origin, have met with Trump's advisors several times since the Republican won the presidency.

"There is certainly a renewed interest in the Moon in the Trump administration," said John Logsdon, former director of the Space Poli…

Bezos: Space Tourism is Going to Be Great 'Practice' for Space Colonies

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos wants to send you to space on a Blue Origin rocket, and the data gathered during those little trips on the New Shepard to the border between Earth and space will help develop the technology that will one day carry humans throughout our solar system and beyond.

“Another thing that you really need to shrink costs is practice,” Bezos said Tuesday at the 2017 SATELLITE Conference and Exhibition in Washington, D.C. “That’s one of the reasons we did New Shepard first. New Shepard is a suborbital tourism vehicle. And that mission is so important for us because that’s a mission that can be flown many many times a year. We will get so much practice.”

The U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics estimated in 2003 that up to 82 percent of Americans had flown in an airplane, and Bezos wants going to space to become as common as hopping on a flight from one city to another.

“We need to get to a place ultimately that is much more like commercial airliners, and obvi…

House passes NASA authorization bill

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WASHINGTON — For the first time in nearly six and a half years, Congress has passed a NASA authorization bill with the approval of such a bill March 7 in the House of Representatives.

The House approved on a voice vote the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017, S.442, after a brief discussion on the House floor where no members spoke against the bill. The same bill passed the Senate by unanimous consent Feb. 17.

The bill authorizes $19.5 billion in spending for NASA in fiscal year 2017. More importantly, it includes a number of policy provisions directing NASA’s activities. They range from development of a detailed plan for NASA’s human exploration programs, with the long-term goal of sending humans to Mars, to giving NASA the ability to establish long-term medical monitoring of former astronauts.

“This bipartisan and bicameral bill grew to maturity through many long and serious discussions about the future of our nation’s space program,” said Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas), chairman…

Buzz Aldrin: UAE can be vital part of space coalition

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Space experts commend UAE’s Mars mission and settlement plans

Abu Dhabi: The UAE can become a vital part of a space exploration coalition of nations along with new spacefaring countries like India and South Korea, renowned American astronaut, Buzz Aldrin, said in the capital on Sunday.

These ‘new kids on the block’ can join established spacefaring entities like the US, Russia, China, Europe and Japan in exploring space, getting to Mars and even beyond, Aldrin said.

“Instead of competition, countries should cooperate on a design stage and then cooperate on the operational front [to get the best use of space travel and exploration for the future],” said the astronaut who was among the first to land on the moon.

He was speaking at the Aspen Abu Dhabi Ideas Forum, held at the New York University Abu Dhabi. The two-day event saw experts from a range of fields, including health care, space and international relations, discuss their visions for the future and the challenges in getting there.

Why choose to go to the moon? Trump changes commercial space calculations

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Nearly 55 years ago, President John F. Kennedy said America chose to go to the moon and take on other challenges “not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” Now it’s commercial space ventures that are choosing to go to the moon.

Back in the 1960s, the moon effort was aimed at demonstrating America’s greatness. A similar motivation is at work this time around: to demonstrate that President Donald Trump is making America great again.

Trump has given nods to the space effort in his two big speeches: In his inauguration address, he said America was “ready to unlock the mysteries of space.” And in his address to this week’s joint session of Congress, he said seeing American footprints on distant worlds was “not too big a dream.”

So far, however, specifics have been in short supply – no doubt because Trump has other priorities on his mind right now, and because a new administrator for NASA hasn’t yet been named.

That has left commercial players such as Blue Origin, SpaceX and B…

The Trump administration has unleashed a lunar gold rush

Commercial space industry wants a piece of NASA’s deep space exploration plans.

Before the 2016 presidential election, businessman Robert Bigelow was one of the few people in the aerospace community to openly support Donald Trump's presidential campaign. Now that Trump is in office, Bigelow says the new administration is moving forward with a realistic space exploration plan that focuses on the Moon, rather than Mars.

"Finally, we have someone practically engaged in the conversation here," he said Friday, during an interview with Ars. "The prior administration excluded the Moon, but that was really unrealistic. With Mars, there are issues with cost, and more. The Moon offers by far the most practical target in the near term, and of course the Moon has a far superior business case at the current time than asteroids or Mars."

During recent weeks, Bigelow said he has spoken with Trump administration officials interested in space and talked about plans to jump-star…