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Showing posts from February, 2019

Space 2.0: Something's Going to Happen, Something Wonderful

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When Elon Musk’s Falcon Heavy rocket made its maiden flight on February 6, 2018, it signaled, for many of us, that the new space age had finally begun. Long anticipated and with more than a few false starts and wrong turns along the way, the promised era of expanded access to space has finally arrived. Rod Pyle’s new book, Space 2.0 is a timely and beautiful celebration of that bold vision.

If I were to distill Space 2.0 into a single phrase, it would be “the gorgeously illustrated handbook of new space.” While the term “new space” has been distorted to the point where it has pretty much the edge definition of a nebula, Pyle prose brings sharp clarity. He identifies the critical topics and makes them accessible to the average reader, without insulting the intelligence of those of us “in the know." The book is also filled with page after page of great color images, many of them by renowned photographer and space artist James Vaughn.



Pyle opens with the fundamental question, “why …

How to watch SpaceX, NASA launch Crew Dragon to ISS this weekend

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Tune in for the SpaceX Demo-1 mission and witness history in the making. After watching SpaceX's Crew Dragon hurdle multiple delays and survive the scrutiny of a flight readiness review, we're finally close to watching the capsule escape from this planet with the help of a Falcon 9 rocket. 
Space fans in the US will need to stay up late to watch the uncrewed Demo-1 mission take off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. 
NASA has scheduled the launch for 11:49 p.m. PT on Friday, Mar. 1 (2:49 a.m. ET on Saturday, Mar. 2) and will broadcast the proceedings live on NASA TV starting at 11 p.m. PT on Friday evening. 
As of Wednesday, the forecast looked good for the weekend, with meteorologists predicting an 80 percent chance of favorable weather.
Demo-1 will mark a serious step forward for NASA's Commercial Crew Program, which involves SpaceX and Boeing working to launch astronauts from US soil. 
NASA hopes to end its reliance on Russian Soyuz spacecraft. It's been buying …

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk To Build Moon Base Ahead Of Mars Mission

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SpaceX CEO Elon Musk believes that a moon base should first be established before his company can finally head to Mars.

“Yeah yeah, you need to get there. That’s a big deal. I think Starship will also be good for creating a base on the moon. We’ll probably have a base on the moon before going to Mars,” Musk said in an interview with Popular Mechanics.

The visionary billionaire, who plans to successfully bring “moon tourists” to space by the year 2024, added that his plans to reach the lunar surface is a crucial part of his bigger goal to reach the Red Planet via his spacecraft, the Starship.

According to Musk, setting up a base on the moon would be very different than a mission to Mars, but it would be very helpful in figuring out how things can be done.

“It would be quite a bit different because the gravity on the moon is much less, and the moon has an atmosphere. But once you get there, it’s quite manageable. That’s not the hard—there’s a lot of work to do once you get there, but it…

SpaceShipTwo aims to reach space again

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MOJAVE, California – Virgin Galactic plans to conduct a fifth test flight Feb. 20 of its suborbital spaceplane SpaceShipTwo. Weather permitting, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShip Two VSS Unity will takeoff from the Mojave Air and Space Port around 7 a.m. local time (10 a.m. Eastern time).

“We are aiming for a flight to take advantage of the full propellant load of the ship,” Mike Moses, Virgin Galactic president, told reporters during a Feb. 19 briefing here. If all goes as planned, VSS Unity will travel higher than it did during the previous test flight Dec. 13 when it reached peak altitude of 82.7 kilometers, garnering astronaut wings for its pilots.

George Whitesides, Virgin Galactic chief executive, cautioned, however, that pilots or mission controllers will be carefully watching the spaceship’s performance and “fully empowered to call an abort” if they “see something they don’t like.”

Virgin Galactic is not revealing how many test flights it plans to conduct before beginning commercia…

NASA, SpaceX look ready to finally launch Crew Dragon capsule to ISS

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NASA just dropped some enticing new details about the much anticipated and much delayed test flight.

Delays and space flights are close companions. NASA has pushed back the launch date for the SpaceX Demo-1 uncrewed test flight of the Crew Dragon capsule several times already, but new details make it sound like March 2 could finally be go time.
NASA shared details of the mission on Wednesday, including a launch-time target of 11:48 a.m. Pacific. "The uncrewed test flights will be the first time a commercially built and operated American rocket and spacecraft designed for humans will launch to the space station," the agency says.
The Crew Dragon capsule will lift off with an assist from a Falcon 9 rocket and head to the International Space Station. It's scheduled to dock at the ISS on March 3 very early in the morning. Though it won't have any humans on board, it will be stocked with 400 pounds of crew supplies and equipment. 
SpaceX has looked ready to get going on this…

Trump orders creation of Space Force, but within Air Force

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump on Tuesday directed the Pentagon to develop plans to create a new Space Force within the Air Force, accepting less than the full-fledged department he'd wanted.

Before signing a document instructing the defense secretary to draft proposed legislation, Trump said space is the "future" and the "next step."

"We have to be prepared," he said in the Oval Office, flanked by Vice President Mike Pence, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and other top officials.

Trump initially said he wanted a Space Force that was "separate but equal" to the other military services. The current proposal falls short of that goal and faces some skepticism among lawmakers.

If approved by Congress, the Space Force would be part of the Air Force, just as the Marine Corps is part of the Navy. It would not have its own full-blown bureaucracy, including a civilian secretary. It would instead have a Senate-confirmed undersecre…

NASA pushing hard to get back to the moon this year. Really

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Half a century after Apollo 11, the space agency is aiming to start establishing a permanent presence on the lunar surface as soon as possible.
The day after it ended the Opportunity rover's 14-year tenure on Mars, NASA told reporters it hopes to move quickly to return to the surface of the moon, perhaps even by the end of 2019.
"Our wish is to fly this year," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate. He was speaking at a media roundtable Thursday focused on the agency's lunar exploration plans. 
Both Zurbuchen and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine identified speed as the priority for a new lunar landing system, but cautioned that actual launch dates will depend on how quickly NASA's commercial partners can fulfill upcoming tasks. Those tasks will be announced within the next month or so.

"We want to incentivize speed, financially," Zurbuchen said. "We want to start taking shots on goal."

NASA …

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk says tickets to Mars will eventually cost less than $500,000

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And the return ticket is free!

SpaceX's Mars ships won't be ferrying just the super rich to and from the Red Planet, if everything goes according to Elon Musk's plan.
The price of a seat aboard SpaceX's Starship interplanetary vehicle will eventually drop enough to be accessible to a large chunk of the industrialized world's population, the billionaire entrepreneur predicted over the weekend.
"Very dependent on volume, but I'm confident moving to Mars (return ticket is free) will one day cost less than $500k & maybe even below $100k. Low enough that most people in advanced economies could sell their home on Earth & move to Mars if they want," Musk wrote on Twitter Sunday night (Feb. 10). Very dependent on volume, but I’m confident moving to Mars (return ticket is free) will one day cost less than $500k & maybe even below $100k. Low enough that most people in advanced economies could sell their home on Earth & move to Mars if they want…

Jeff Bezos Lays Out Blue Origin's Rocket Reusability Vision for Space Travel

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As Blue Origin aims for a human launch by the end of the year, the future space-tourism company released a video calling for reusability to lower the cost of spaceflight.

In the new video, Blue Origin and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos explains how he first got inspired by spaceflight. Bezos remembers Neil Armstrong landing on the moon in 1969, when Bezos was just 5 years old.

"I've been passionate about space, rockets, rocket engines, space travel," Bezo said during a montage of historical clips of spaceflight. "I think we all have passions, and you don't get to choose them. They pick you. But you have to be alert to them. You have to be looking for them.

Calling Earth "the best planet," Bezos said our population is facing a choice — to move forward into space or to remain on Earth in a situation where we will have to stay in "stasis," with a capped population and energy usage. But the long-standing issue of space travel is cost, he acknowledged.