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Showing posts from August, 2019

Starhopper Update

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Starhopper will attempt its 200m flight on Monday around 4pm - 4:15pm local time (5pm - 5:15pm EDT)

Nuclear Propulsion Could Be 'Game-Changer' for Space Exploration, NASA Chief Says

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And the tech could power asteroid-deflecting lasers as well. Humanity's next giant leap could be enabled by next-gen nuclear tech, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said.
During the sixth meeting of the National Space Council (NSC) today (Aug. 20), the NASA chief lauded the potential of nuclear thermal propulsion, which would harness the heat thrown off by fission reactions to accelerate propellants such as hydrogen to tremendous speeds. 
Spacecraft powered by such engines could conceivably reach Mars in just three to four months — about half the time of the fastest possible trip in a vehicle with traditional chemical propulsion, said NSC panelist Rex Geveden, the president and CEO of BWX Technologies Inc. 
And that's a big deal for NASA, which is working to get astronauts to Mars in the 2030s.
"That is absolutely a game-changer for what NASA is trying to achieve," Bridenstine said. "That gives us an opportunity to really protect life, when we talk about the r…

How many Earth-like planets are around sun-like stars?

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A new study provides the most accurate estimate of the frequency that planets that are similar to Earth in size and in distance from their host star occur around stars similar to our Sun. Knowing the rate that these potentially habitable planets occur will be important for designing future astronomical missions to characterize nearby rocky planets around sun-like stars that could support life. A paper describing the model appears August 14, 2019 in The Astronomical Journal.

Thousands of planets have been discovered by NASA's Kepler space telescope. Kepler, which was launched in 2009 and retired by NASA in 2018 when it exhausted its fuel supply, observed hundreds of thousands of stars and identified planets outside of our solar system—exoplanets—by documenting transit events. Transits events occur when a planet's orbit passes between its star and the telescope, blocking some of the star's light so that it appears to dim. By measuring the amount of dimming and the duration …

SpaceX Starship Nearing Completion

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Elon Musk will update the status of Starship development on August 24

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"We should have Starship Mk1 with 3 Raptors almost ready to fly by then."
In a series of tweets on Saturday night, SpaceX founder Elon Musk said he planned to provide an update on the development of the company's Starship project on August 24. This new spacecraft will serve as both the upper-stage of a large rocket as well as a vehicle capable of propulsively landing on distant worlds and returning to Earth.
Musk said the update would take place in Boca Chica, an unincorporated area along the southern Texas coast near the border with Mexico. This is where the company recently flew a stubby prototype of Starship and is also building a full-scale version of Starship for suborbital tests called Starship Mk1. A separate team of SpaceX engineers is building a similar prototype, Starship Mk2, in Cocoa, Florida.
Through this internal competition, the teams of engineers are testing systems for structures, propulsion, and avionics that will allow Starship to safely land on, and …

NASA Budget

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"We should be back on the Moon right now. And we should be going off to Mars immediately... How come we're looking at our shoes instead of at the great nebula in Orion? Where did we mislay the Moon and back off from Mars? The problem is, of course, our politicians, men who have no romance in their hearts or dreams in their heads... If NASA's budgeters could be convinced that there are riches on Mars, we would explode overnight to stand on the rim of the Martian abyss. We need space for reasons we have not as yet discovered, and I don't mean Tupperware... NASA feels it has to justify everything it does in practical terms. And Tupperware was one of the many practical products that came out of space travel. NASA feels it has got to flimflam you to get you to spend money on space. That's B.S. We don't need that. Space travel is life-enhancing, and anything that's life-enhancing is worth doing. It makes you want to live forever." - Ray Bradbury, 'About…

The Space Option is the ultimate environmental solution

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"For the environmentalists, The Space Option is the ultimate environmental solution. For the Cornucopians, it is the technological fix that they are relying on. For the hardcore space community, the obvious by-product would be the eventual exploration and settlement of the solar system. For most of humanity, however, the ultimate benefit is having a realistic hope in a future with possibilities...

If our species does not soon embrace this unique opportunity with sufficient commitment, it may miss its one and only chance to do so. Humanity could soon be overwhelmed by one or more of the many challenges it now faces. The window of opportunity is closing as fast as the population is increasing...

Our future will be either a Space Age or a Stone Age."

- Arthur Woods and Marco Bernasconi, Space News, 1995