Showing posts from October, 2019

NASA's Artemis Moon Program Attracts More Nations as Potential Partners, Agency Says

WASHINGTON — There are so many nations eager to join NASA's push to the moon that the coalition of 15 International Space Station countries may have even more company for the nascent Artemis lunar project, according to the agency. In a press conference Thursday (Oct. 24), NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said that at least 26 nations had already met with him here at the International Astronautical Congress to discuss the Artemis lunar program and possibilities for contributing. How everybody may chip in still needs to be discussed. But NASA will likely work through agreements quickly, as the agency is tasked with landing humans on the moon in 2024. The partnerships on the International Space Station have three levels of governance, according to the European Space Agency. Chief among them is an intergovernmental agreement between 15 nations. That treaty was signed in January 1998, long before the rise of private companies in space — and long before some countries became acti


Space Prospector Iconic construction vehicle company Caterpillar is working with NASA to build machines that could excavate and mine the lunar surface. The goal is to determine whether it makes sense to send autonomous or remote-controlled construction equipment to the Moon, according to CNBC, to gather rocks, dust, and water that NASA could use as raw materials for its planned lunar outpost. Self-Driving Shovel NASA and Caterpillar have long collaborated on robotics projects, CNBC reports. But it’s the company’s autonomous capabilities — unusual for the construction vehicle market — that make it a standout candidate to build lunar infrastructure. “There are many synergies between what NASA needs to meet exploration goals and Caterpillar technologies used every day on Earth,” NASA spokesperson Clare Skelly told CNBC. Hazardous Workplace Though Caterpillar’s resource industries division president, Denise Johnson, wouldn’t confirm any tangible lunar mission plans to CNBC, t

NASA's Bridenstine boosts international pitch for moon, Mars missions

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine made his strongest pitch so far on Monday for other nations to collaborate on the U.S. Artemis mission to build a lunar station and eventually explore Mars. "When we go to the moon, we want to take all of the partners we have on the International Space Station and we want to grow it," Bridenstine said at an annual gathering of the International Astronautical Congress in Washington, D.C. "We need international partners. We can all do more when we work together than anyone of us can do if we go alone," he said. Bridenstine laid out a vision of international cooperation, with a key ingredient being open sharing of all plans related to the lunar gateway -- a proposed command module that would obit the moon permanently. He spoke one a panel that included the heads of space agencies for Europe, Japan, India, Russia and Canada. "The way we do environmental control and life support, the way we do avionics and docking, the w


Luxembourg’s Space Agency (LSA) is to strengthen collaborations with US space actors on the commercial use of space after signing a joint statement on Tuesday. A press release from the agency explained that the statement signed between Nasa and LSA identified future areas for potential collaboration, including space applications, space exploration and utilisation. The document, which was signed at the 70th international astronautical congress in Washington DC, touches on the sustainable use of space resources, as well as sharing of scientific data and education. “The agencies will continue to explore these areas through technical and programmatic discussions with the objective of identifying potential collaboration. In parallel, NASA and LSA intend to pursue a Framework Agreement as a means of facilitating future collaboration between the two agencies,” the press release explained. The paper follows the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the governments of the US an

Japan to join Artemis program

WASHINGTON — The Japanese government plans to join NASA in its Artemis program of lunar exploration, although the details about how it will contribute remain to be worked out. In an Oct. 18 statement posted on Twitter, the office of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe said that his government’s Strategic Headquarters for National Space Policy had decided the country would join NASA in its plans to return humans to the moon, one that could lead to Japanese astronauts one day setting foot there. “At long last, Japan too will turn over a new page leading to lunar and space exploration,” Abe said in an English-language statement. “Today, we decided on a policy of participating in the U.S.’s challenging new venture, as an ally connected to the U.S. by strong bonds.” In a separate Japanese-language document, the government outline several reasons for participating in the NASA-led effort, including diplomacy and security, international competitiveness, commercial opportunities and suppor

Why isn't Germany taking over the moon?

By and large, "Made in Germany" is not the driving force behind companies in Europe's powerhouse preparing to go to space. The country spends millions on the industry but not nearly enough, say critics. At a recent gathering in Berlin of space technology businesses the mood was upbeat. Yet while astronaut Matthias Maurer was stealing the show and beguiling schoolchildren and adults alike, there were important issues floating through the air. The biggest question wasn't about colonizing Mars, sending millionaire tourists to the moon or even mining it for minerals. The biggest question of all was: Why isn't tech wonderland Germany at the head of the space race? Besides giants Airbus and OHB in Bremen, there are a lot of smaller companies and startups looking toward the stars throughout Germany. Standing above all these private companies is the European Space Agency (ESA), an organization made up of 22 member countries with a total budget of €5.72 bi


Full Speed Ahead Warp drive is, arguably, the holy grail of space exploration. With a propulsion system capable of faster-than-light-speed travel, humanity could reach distant corners of the galaxy and beyond. Unfortunately, warp drives have long been relegated to the realm of science fiction — but according to aerospace engineering professor Jason Cassibry, scientists are getting closer to cracking the physics of a warp drive straight out of “Star Trek.” Enormous Progress Cassibry teaches at the University of Alabama, Huntsville, where he advises undergraduate student Joseph Agnew, author of a recently published warp drive study that got the scientific world buzzing. In a recent interview with Motherboard, Cassibry noted that “theoretical progress” toward building warp drives “has been enormous” thanks to the efforts of Agnew and other researchers. First Steps Theoretical progress is one thing, though — physically building a warp drive is another, and as Cassibry noted i

Five things we learned from Elon Musk's rollout of the SpaceX Starship prototype

A prototype of SpaceX's Starship Mars spaceship could reach orbit in less than six months and fly humans next year, Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said Saturday during an unveiling at the company's facility in south Texas. Standing in front of the towering stainless steel prototype known as Starship Mk 1, Musk told an audience the Hawthorne company would be building versions of the spacecraft in rapid succession at two different SpaceX facilities—one near Boca Chica Beach in Texas and one in Cocoa, Fla. The goal is to build at least two per site before SpaceX starts work on the Super Heavy rocket booster that will power Starship to orbit. Both Starship and Super Heavy are intended to eventually replace SpaceX's workhorse Falcon 9 rocket and its newer Falcon Heavy rocket, which first launched last year. Musk did not give an updated timeline for when Starship—essentially a second-stage rocket and lander—would go to Mars. SpaceX has said its "aspirational goal&