Showing posts from January, 2019

Report: SpaceX's Falcon Heavy booster spotted arriving at Space Coast

SpaceX is taking another step toward preparing for its next Falcon Heavy Launch — there's just no telling when it might actually launch. Blog site Teslarati that follows all things Tesla and SpaceX-related posted a photo of one of the Falcon Heavy's three boosters being transported to Florida's Space Coast. Once the center booster — the main vehicle that holds cargo nose at the top — is delivered, all three booster will head into the integration stage and testing. The Hawthorne, Calif.-based rocket company, owned by billionaire Elon Musk, is the company's most powerful rocket. The tentative launch date is scheduled for sometime in March, according to Spaceflight Now. The second launch of the Falcon Heavy involves shooting the Arabsat 6A communications satellite to orbit for Arabsat of Saudi Arabia. Arabsat 6A will provide coverage over the Middle East, North Africa regions and South Africa. It is likely the launch could be delayed further due to the ongoing go

NASA's Campaign to Return to the Moon with Global Partners

The Moon is a fundamental part of Earth’s past and future - an off-world location that may hold valuable resources to support space activity and scientific treasures that may tell us more about our own planet. Americans first walked on its surface almost 50 years ago, but the next wave of lunar exploration will be fundamentally different. Through an innovative combination of missions involving commercial and international partners, NASA’s robotic lunar surface missions will begin as early as 2020, focus on scientific understanding of lunar resources, and prepare the lunar surface for a sustained human presence, to include the use of lunar oxygen and hydrogen for future lunar vehicles. The lunar surface will also serve as a crucial training ground and technology demonstration test site where we will prepare for future human missions to Mars and other destinations. Since the beginning of its mission, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has imaged objects impacting the surface

TESS discovers a dense sub-Neptune exoplanet, plus an Earth-sized world to boot

Two intriguing and newfound planets orbit a small star some 50 light-years away. One is denser than diamond, and the other is the first Earth-sized TESS planet discovered to date. Within just a few months of beginning its primary science mission, NASA's planet-hunting Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) already has identified over 50 exoplanet candidates. Now, TESS has discovered and confirmed one of the densest sub-Neptune planets found so far: HD 21749b. As an added bonus, the newly confirmed world just so happens to be the longest-period confirmed TESS planet discovered to date. Furthermore, it also seems to have a planetary sibling that is surprisingly similar to Earth. A hefty sub-Neptune Located about 52 light-years from Earth in the direction of the Southern Hemisphere constellation Reticulum, HD 21749b is a strange world that orbits a bright, orange dwarf star once every 36 days. Like many exoplanets discovered so far, HD 21749b sits very close to i

The small ways NASA still cooperates with China’s space program, despite a ban

In its recent landing on the far side of the Moon, China had help from scientists from a handful of countries, while more and more institutes around the world are cooperating with China in space exploration. NASA, however, is left out, thanks to restrictions imposed by the US government since 2011. The US banned the space agency from working with China and its state-owned companies out of concerns regarding national security and technology transfers. As a result, China was locked out of the International Space Station because NASA is one of the participating bodies. More recently, scientists from other countries such as Germany and Sweden who were helping China with its exploration of the far side of the Moon were cautious of not falling afoul of US export controls on sensitive technology. China’s space agency, however, announced that the two countries had shared data on its exploration of the far side of the Moon. “Cooperation is the joint will of scientists,” said Wu Yanhua, depu

NASA's deep-space nuclear-power crisis may soon end, thanks to a clever new robot in Tennessee

NASA relies on plutonium-238, a human-made radioactive element, to power its longest-operating and farthest-flying spacecraft. Nearly all Pu-238 was made during the Cold War, and supplies are running low. The shortage threatens to limit deep-space exploration The Department of Energy is now making new Pu-238 and recently achieved an eightfold increase in production with a new robot. Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee says its robot is "the next key step" in making enough plutonium to perpetually meet the needs of NASA. The US government says a new robot is poised to help it create a reliable, long-term supply chain of plutonium-238, a radioactive material NASA requires to explore deep space. NASA uses Pu-238 to power its most epic space missions— among them New Horizons (now beyond Pluto), the Voyagers (now in interstellar space), and Cassini (now part of Saturn). As Pu-238 radioactively decays and generates heat, devices called radioisotope power sou

Bradford Space Group buys Deep Space Industries, shifting focus from asteroid mining to propulsion

Bradford Space Group says it’s acquired California-based Deep Space Industries, which means that both of the ventures that were created to mine asteroids have now been bought up to focus on different priorities. The other asteroid-mining venture, Redmond, Wash.-based Planetary Resources, was purchased in October by Brooklyn-based ConsenSys with the aim of creating space applications for blockchain security technology. Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries entered the public eye in 2012 and 2013 to highlight the prospects for asteroid prospecting. Backed by billionaires, Planetary Resources’ executives said at the time that mining space rocks for water and other resources could eventually turn into a trillion-dollar business. But as the focus of NASA’s space exploration program shifted from near-Earth asteroids to the moon, the business model for asteroid mining lost its luster. Planetary Resources temporarily turned its attention to Earth observation satellites, then fail