Showing posts from April, 2017

International and commercial interest in the Moon

NASA may be going back to the Moon. Or maybe not. Despite months of speculation and rumors about potential changes in the agency’s “Journey to Mars” plans for human exploration of Mars, so far there’s been no announcement of any major changes, other than the less-than-surprising news that the administration plans to cancel the Asteroid Redirect Mission.

However, other space agencies remain interested in sending spacecraft, and perhaps people, to the Moon in the coming years. That interest was on display earlier this month at the 33rd Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado, an event that has increasingly taken on an international flavor, including dropping “National” from its name a few years ago.

But sometimes it can seem too international. A panel session at the conference April 4 featured leaders from a number of national space agencies. That number has been growing over the years, and this year it meant 15 space agency heads took to the stage in the main convention hall at …

Suddenly, Alpha Centauri is a Popular Destination

Groups small and large set their sights on our neighboring star system. The launch of Breakthrough Starshot a year ago, backed by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, has re-opened the idea of exploring nearby stars—first by telescope, and eventually by spacecraft. While the group is holding a second “Breakthrough Discuss” conference this week to highlight its progress so far, other groups, large and small, are getting in on the action.
Starshot proposes sending a nano-spacecraft to the nearest star system, Alpha Centauri, at 20 percent of the speed of light within 20 years. Last summer scientists reported finding a rocky planet in the habitable zone of Proxima Centauri, one of the stars in the system. Meanwhile, scientists at the Max Planck Institute in Germany were so inspired by the Starshot idea that they came up with a way to slow down the spacecraft once it reaches its destination, using stellar pressure. Such braking would be critical if the spacecraft is to take pictures or colle…

In video call to space station, President Donald Trump calls for speeding up trips to Mars

Humans on Mars by 2024? President Donald Trump set that time frame today, almost certainly in jest, during a congratulatory video call to the International Space Station and its record-setting commander, NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson.

The purpose of the orbital linkup from the Oval Office was to recognize Whitson’s new status as the U.S. record-holder for most cumulative time in space – “534 days and counting,” Trump noted.

But the topic soon turned to Mars, and how soon humans would be journeying to the Red Planet. When Trump asked Whitson what the time frame was, Whitson noted that the bill he signed into law last month called for the journeys to begin in the 2030s.

“Well, we want to try and do it during my first term, or at worst during my second term,” Trump replied. “So we’ll have to speed that up a little bit, OK?”

“We’ll do our best,” Whitson said, amid smiles and laughter.

NASA’s current schedule calls for the first test flight of the heavy-lift rocket it has designated for Mar…

NASA Speed-of-Light WARP DRIVE will Change EVERYTHING…including SPACE and TIME

In a seismically isolated room within the Johnson Space Center, NASA scientists are performing an extraordinarily ambitious experiment—aiming to use a strong electric field to bend the fabric of space and time. The goal? Faster-than-light interstellar travel. The story may seem like science fiction and it is…or at least, it used to be.

In the early 1990s, Miguel Alcubierre, a theoretical physics Ph.D. student, sat down to watch an episode of Star Trek. In the show, a technology called “warp drive” gave ships the ability to travel multi-light-year distances in a single prime-time episode. Alcubierre’s curiosity was peaked—how would a warp drive work in the real world?

To answer this question, Alcubierre had to sidestep the “cosmic speed limit.” That’s a fear that Einstein’s theory of special relativity calls impossible. But the student spotted a loophole. Everything in the universe may be limited by the speed of light, but the fabric of space and time itself can expand contract at any…

From Here To Eternity: NASA Believes Humanity Will Travel Interstellar

In order to boldly go where no man has gone before we first need to sort out a few things — achieving near-relativistic speeds is certainly one of it. Space travel would allow humanity to explore all the new worlds, visit other galaxies and more so, seek out new life.

Right now NASA scientists are weighing in on that subject again, claiming that the cutting-edge technologies needed to making this pipe dream a reality are getting closer by the day.

Imagine getting to Mars in just 3 days… or putting points beyond our solar system within our reach. New propulsion technologies could one day take us to these cosmic destinations making space travel truly interstellar! - Philip Lubin
Using electromagnetic acceleration to achieve relativistic speeds with microscopic particles in laboratory settings is something scientists do on a regular basis. Anytime you try to achieve those speeds on a macroscopic level, it’s becoming significantly more difficult with the hindrance of chemical binding energ…

Newly found planet could be just right for life

WASHINGTON — Astronomers have found yet another planet that seems to have just the right Goldilocks combination for life: Not so hot and not so cold. It’s not so far away, either.

This new, big, dense planet is rocky, like Earth, and has the right temperatures for water, putting it in the habitable zone for life, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

It’s the fifth such life-possible planet outside our solar system revealed in less than a year, but still relatively nearby Earth. Rocky planets within that habitable zone of a star are considered the best place to find evidence of some form of life.

“It is astonishing to live in a time when discovery of potentially habitable worlds is not only common place but proliferating,” said MIT astronomer Sara Seager, who wasn’t part of the study.

The first planet outside our solar system was discovered in 1995, but thanks to new techniques and especially NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler telescope, the number of them has exp…

Real Star Wars: Earth-Like Exoplanet Orbitting Two Stars Could Support Life

A new study claims to have found an exoplanet which is habitable just like the earth. The exoplanet is said to be illuminated by a pair of stars alike the sun. It has been found based on a model designed on the basis of a binary solar system called the Kepler 35.

According to United Press International, during the research, scientists introduced a small earth-sized exoplanet in place of Kepler 35b, the sole planet in the Kepler 35 solar system. The model helped the scientists in understanding how a rocky planet's atmosphere is affected while orbiting a pair of stars like the Kepler A and B.

Researchers came to determine that the earth-sized exoplanet in the Kepler 35 binary solar system will comprise of only a small amount of water vapor. This will result in the planet's temperature to swing wildly each year, changes as much as up to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit on an average.

According to Mail Online, the study showed that the earth-sized exoplanet, if planted in the right place i…

Blue Origin's Reusable Rockets Will Help Support Humans on the Moon

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Jeff Bezos' private spaceflight company Blue Origin is working on a lunar cargo delivery surface, which could be used to support human settlements on the surface of the moon or in orbit. While the program was just announced last month, the company has already spent years developing the necessary technology.

Wednesday (April 5), here at the 33rd annual Space Symposium, Blue Origin President Robert Meyerson said the lunar delivery program, called Blue Moon, will "directly leverage" the technology used in the company's New Shepard reusable rocket system. The company is marketing the suborbital rocket primarily for space tourism.

"Blue Moon directly leverages our New Shepard proven vertical takeoff and vertical landing technology, combined with our extensive liquid propulsion capabilities to reduce development time and risk," Meyerson said.

Meyerson didn't provide any more details about the lunar landing system, but a story publis…

Goldman Sachs: space-mining for platinum is 'more realistic than perceived'

Goldman Sachs is bullish on space mining with "asteroid-grabbing spacecraft." In a 98-page note for clients seen by Business Insider, analyst Noah Poponak and his team argue that platinum mining in space is getting cheaper and easier, and the rewards are becoming greater as time goes by.

"While the psychological barrier to mining asteroids is high, the actual financial and technological barriers are far lower. Prospecting probes can likely be built for tens of millions of dollars each and Caltech has suggested an asteroid-grabbing spacecraft could cost $2.6bn," the report says.

$2.6 billion (£2 billion) sounds like a lot, but it is only about one-third the amount that has been invested in Uber, putting the price well within reach of today's VC funds. It is also a comparable to the setup cost for a regular earthbound mine. (This MIT paper estimates a new rare earth metal mine can cost up to $1 billion, from scratch.)

The price of spacecraft is plummeting, thank…

Astronomers just discovered something awesome about the most Earth-like planet ever found

Do you like Earth? Yeah, it’s pretty neat, huh? Well despite living on a planet as awesome as our own, astronomers are super eager to find more Earths, just for fun. A planet called Gliese 1132 B (GJ 1132b if you feel like making it slightly shorter) is one such planet. It’s called a “Super Earth” because it’s larger than our own planet, but is thought to be made of similar stuff, and researchers just discovered something extremely awesome that makes GJ 1132b the most Earth-like exoplanet humans have ever found: it has an atmosphere.

Finding planets in the depths of space that bear similarities to Earth is a long and complicated process. First we have to find the planet itself, then we have to determine its size, take an educated guess as to what it’s made out of, and figure out how far away it sits from its star. If all of those tests, readings, and measurements come back in the right neighborhood, scientists have to determine if the world has an atmosphere, because without that the…

NASA Unveils the Keys to Getting Astronauts to Mars and Beyond

NASA’s goal for sending people to Mars has always been equal parts ambitious, and equal parts unclear. The agency’s “Journey to Mars” plan was a general illustration of broad milestones that needed to be achieved in order to get to the red planet successfully, but there is not much in the way of details — and that’s made it incredibly hard for most people to get behind NASA’s plan.

Last week, however, NASA finally delivered some specific details behind the type of technologies that will be essential not just to getting to Mars, but allowing humans to create a permanent presence out in cis-lunar space (the region between the moon and Earth), and facilitate the the ability to travel out into more deep space worlds as the century moves forward.

Meet the Deep Space Gateway and the Deep Space Transport: two architectures that NASA intends to utilize as in order to send crews out into farther regions of the solar system. During last week’s meeting of the NASA Advisory Council, William Gerst…

Boeing Unveils Deep Space Concepts for Moon and Mars Exploration

Deep space gateway, transport critical to future human space activities

 Boeing [NYSE: BA] today unveiled concepts for the deep space gateway and transport systems that could help achieve NASA’s goal of having robust human space exploration from the Moon to Mars.

NASA’s Space Launch System, which Boeing is helping develop, would deliver the habitat to cislunar space near the Moon. Known as the Deep Space Gateway, the habitat could support critical research and help open opportunities for global government or commercial partnerships in deep space, including lunar missions. It would be powered by a Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP) system.

“The ability to simultaneously launch humans and cargo on SLS would allow us to assemble the gateway in four launches in the early 2020s,” said Pete McGrath, director of global sales and marketing for Boeing’s space exploration division.

The Deep Space Gateway could be the waypoint for Mars missions. Utilizing a docking system akin to what the Internati…

Rogers calls for separate “Space Corps” within the Air Force

COLORADO SPRINGS – Rep. Mike Rogers said the U.S. Air Force needs a separate “Space Corps” to handle military operations in orbit, as a first step in creating a completely separate military branch.

“We have to acknowledge that the national security space structure is broken,” the Alabama Republican said in a Tuesday morning speech at the 33rd Space Symposium. “It’s very hard for a government bureaucracy to fix itself, and that’s exactly why congressional oversight exists. It’s the job of the Armed Services Committee to recognize when the bureaucracy is broken and to see that it’s fixed.”

Rogers, chairman of the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee, said the Space Corps concept would be the first step in spinning off space operations into an independent branch of the military — similar to the way the U.S. Army Air Corps eventually become the Air Force.

“My vision of the future is a separate space force within the Department of Defense,” Rogers said.

Despite the Air Force…

Agency chiefs at Space Symposium say international cooperation is necessary to go boldly

Leaders of federal space agencies from 15 nations spoke of international partnerships and engaged people as the key to the future of the space industry on Tuesday morning.

The representatives to the Space Symposium highlighted partnerships with emerging countries, the role of women in aerospace, and the development of current students in science, technology, engineering and mechanics.

Among the veteran players in the space industry - NASA, Russia, Canada and various European countries - sat Ukraine, Vietnam, Mexico, South Korea, and Romania. All touched upon international cooperation and coordination in order to optimize efficiency, minimize costs, and maximize the opportunities for space exploration.

"We consider the more players in the space arena the better for space in general," the president of the French federal space program, Jean Yves LeGall, said. "We cannot be afraid to be involved with new projects and methods from emerging nations."

Mexico acknowledged …