Showing posts from March, 2018

SpaceX and Boeing inch closer toward manned space missions

NASA's Commercial Crew Program is making "significant progress" according to the space agency, which has outlined upcoming missions for both Boeing and SpaceX. The race between the two companies to be the first to provide commercial transportation services in space appears to be neck-and-neck. Boeing has an unmanned orbital flight test scheduled for August this year, while SpaceX plans to complete a crewless flight to the International Space Station in the same month. Crewed missions are then slated to take place in November and December, respectively.

But while NASA says that both companies are "meeting contractual milestones and maturing their designs" for their spacecraft -- Boeing with its CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX with its Dragon 2 vehicle -- there is a strong chance flight tests could slip into 2019. GAO has already predicted delays due to flight certification, while Ars Technica's space editor Eric Berger revealed in a tweet that program manager …

New fund to boost Japanese space startups

WASHINGTON — The Japanese government, working with private ventures, announced plans March 20 to establish a nearly billion-dollar fund to support the development of space startups in the country.

Prime Minister Shinz┼Ź Abe announced the new initiative, whose cornerstone is a pool of 100 billion yen ($940 million) of venture capital to be offered over five years to companies in the space sector in the country. That funding will be provided by the Development Bank of Japan, Industrial Innovation Organization, and other organizations, although the announcement didn’t state how much funding would come from each organization.

Another element of the “support package” for space venture development is a program that matches investors, including individual investors and companies, with startup companies. Government documents listed 46 members of this “S-Matching” program, ranging from satellite operator Sky Perfect JSAT to Japan Airlines Corporation and Nikon.

Japan has lagged behind the Unit…

SpaceX rival United Launch Alliance stakes future on new Vulcan rocket

SpaceX and its visionary founder Elon Musk win the lion's share of public attention in the commercial rocket arena, with dramatic, increasingly routine booster landings and spectacular stunts like the launch of Musk's Tesla Roadster on the maiden flight of the company's new Falcon Heavy rocket last month.

But arch-rival United Launch Alliance, a much more buttoned-down corporate alliance between Boeing and Lockheed Martin, is responding to the threat posed by the upstart SpaceX with long-range plans to phase out its workhorse Atlas 5 rocket and costly Delta 4 rockets in favor of a powerful, less-expensive launcher known as the Vulcan.

Featuring reusable engines and an advanced, long-lived upper stage, company executives expect the Vulcan to be a major contender in the increasingly fierce slugfest between SpaceX, ULA and other international launch providers.

That battle was center stage Wednesday when the Air Force awarded SpaceX a $290 million contract to launch three Glo…

Trump praises military, calls for 'Space Force' as new branch of armed forces

President Trump praised members of the military Tuesday, saying the administration will give them the “largest pay raise in over a decade,” while touting successes around the globe, and even suggesting the creation of a new military branch — the “Space Force.”

The president spoke to thousands of military men and women at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, Calif., Tuesday, following his visit to review border wall prototypes.

“I have a message for you straight from the heart of the American people, and you know what that is — we support you, we love you and we will always have your back like you have ours,” Trump said, also praising military spouses and families for their service.

“For too long, the men and women of the United States Armed Forces have been asked to do more with less,” Trump said, listing “underinvestment,” deferred modernization and maintenance, old equipment and having “fewer ships than we should, fewer planes than we should, and fewer of you than we shou…

NASA Outlines New Lunar Science, Human Exploration Missions

NASA is focused on an ambitious plan to advance the nation’s space program by increasing science activities near and on the Moon and ultimately returning humans to the surface.

As part of the President’s fiscal year 2019 budget proposal, NASA is planning a new Moon-focused exploration campaign that starts with a series of progressive commercial robotic missions.

“The Moon will play an important role in expanding human presence deeper into the solar system,” said Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator of the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Coupled with the capabilities enabled by the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, these missions will usher in a new era of exploration of the Moon and its resources, and provide a training ground for human missions to Mars.”

Commercial Landers  

NASA plans to enlist a series of commercial robotic landers and rockets to meet lunar payload delivery and service needs. The agency will release a dr…

SpaceX BFR Mars rocket tests may start in first half of 2019

Elon Musk, well known for his ambitious deadlines, has revealed that SpaceX may start testing its Mars rocket in the first half of next year. It’s no secret that Musk envisions a future in which humans have branched out from their Earth-bound homes, but taking humans to Mars is a mission still years away. The testing of its BFR system, however, underscores the progress SpaceX has made toward this goal in recent years.

Musk revealed the ambitious timeline during a speech at the South by South West (SXSW) festival in Texas in recent days. Though the company is still a long way off from actually sending humans to Mars, its Mars rocket tests could be less than a year away. According to Musk, starting in the first half of 2019, his private space company may start some test flights that involve going up and down.

Of course, it’s possible the company won’t hit that deadline, however Musk has made it clear that getting humans — and their technology — off Earth is vital for helping ensure its…

15 New Exoplanets Are Discovered Including One 'Super Earth' That Could Be Habitable

There are 15 new exoplanets were discovered by a research team in Tokyo. Those 15 exoplanets were confirmed to have 3 super-Earths, of those three super-Earths one is confirmed to be in the star's habitable zone.

Chances of finding alien life in new exoplanets discovered keep increasing as more exoplanets are found that may have the right conditions.

A team from the Tokyo Institute of Technology's Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences confirmed the existence of 15 exoplanets that are orbiting red dwarf stars. K2-155 is one of the brighter red dwarfs, it is around 200 light years away from Earth.

K2-155's system includes three super-Earths, the super-Earth orbiting the furthest away from the star could be within its habitable zone. K2-155d had a radius that is 1.6 times larger than that of Earth.

Research for the study was published in The Astronomical Journal, as two papers. To study the exoplanets, researchers used data from NASA Kepler's second mission, …


Confined to a wheelchair, physicist Stephen Hawking has roamed the universe in his mind. He'd like to see his fellow humans leave Earth physically—and soon.

"I believe what makes us unique is transcending our limits," Hawking said. That's why he takes part in the Breakthrough Initiatives, a suite of projects designed to help Earthlings find alien intelligence and visit the nearest neighboring solar system with a probe the size of a credit card propelled by a giant laser beam.

"How do we transcend these limits? With our minds and our machines," Hawking said. "The limit that confronts us now is the great void between us and the stars, but now we can transcend it." It's still not easy, of course, but we've now reached the point where we can at least design a system that could travel at a quarter of the speed of light, rather than the slow crawl that has limited every spacecraft built to date.

"I believe that the long-term future of the h…