The National Research Council recently released their report on NASA’s plans for human spaceflight (see “A new pathway to Mars”, The Space Review, June 9, 2014). The report lays out the possible targets for human exploration:
“The technical analysis completed for this report—discussed fully in Chapter 4 of the report—shows clearly that for the foreseeable future, the only feasible destinations for human exploration are the Moon, asteroids, Mars, and the moons of Mars. Among this small set of plausible goals, the most distant and difficult is a landing by human beings on the surface of Mars. Thus the horizon goal for human space exploration is Mars. All long-range space programs, by all potential partners, converge on this goal.”
UK chemistry teacher Andy Brunning has put together a very sharp looking infographic that explores the atmospheric compositions of our solar system's planets. When you look at it this way, it's pretty obvious why visiting other worlds is going to be a dangerous proposition.
An elevator to the moon might not be as crazy as it sounds, according to one company. A moon-based elevator to space could radically reduce the costs and improve the reliability of placing equipment on the lunar surface.
Redondo Beach, Calif. (UPI) Aug 19, 2014A preliminary design and flight demonstration plan for an experimental space plane with a reusable booster is being developed by Northrop Grumman. The space plane, the XS-1, is envisaged for lifting 3,000-pound class spacecraft into low Earth orbit at a lower cost than current launch equipment. The...
Founded in 1999 by visionary entrepreneur Robert Bigelow, the goal of Bigelow Aerospace is to create a new paradigm in space commerce and exploration via the development and use of revolutionary expandable habitat technology. Expandable habitats offer dramatically larger volumes than rigid, metallic structures as well as enhanced protection against both radiation and physical debris. Additionally, expandable habitats are lighter than traditional systems, take up less rocket fairing space, and most important of all in today’s fiscally constrained environment, Bigelow habitats are extremely affordable.
The motives that drove teams to send these robotic emissaries to the moon might be different — ranging from inspiring a country to starting a sustainable, commercial endeavor — but they have all flown the more than 200,000 miles (321,000 kilometers) to the moon, riding on a wave of commercial hopes that rest on the lunar surface. "For the X Prize, we're going to carry multiple X Prize teams with us to the surface," said John Thornton, CEO of Astrobotic, a team competing for the Google Lunar X Prize private moon race.
Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Dream Chaser spacecraft is “on track for its anticipated first launch in November 2016,” Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president of SNC Space Systems, told a press conference on August 5 at the AIAA SPACE 2014 Forum in San Diego.
Sirangelo explained “that the first launch, out of Florida’s Space Coast, would be one of two required for certification of the spacecraft, and will be unmanned.” The second launch, scheduled for November 2017, would be manned and piloted.” Sirangelo told the audience that “the tests are on track, and that the launch slots have been obtained.” He noted that SNC would fly “five test flights of Dream Chaser, with three of them being manned, in order to by fully comfortable with the craft’s ability to carry humans into space."
Mining the Moon? Space Property Rights Still Unclear, Experts Say Space.com As the world celebrates the 45th anniversary of Apollo 11's giant leap to the moon, some people are eyeing the celestial body's bounty of resources.
Thirty years ago today a group of scientists, grad students, and all around Mars enthusiasts wrapped up the four-day Case for Mars conference in Boulder, Colorado. While there, they drafted plans for a human Mars spacecraft that became enshrined—at least for a little while—in popular culture. A large spinning vessel consisting of three nearly identical ships and their landing craft, it was a serious attempt at defining a human mission to Mars. By the early 1990s, one of the Case for Mars participants, Carter Emmart, produced a beautifully detailed model of the spinning spacecraft that was placed on display in the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. Now, after a long absence, that model is back in public view.
Until recently, space projects had only a couple tried and true—if trying—paths to take to win funding. One was to go the government route, soliciting proposals to various government agencies and, if and when winning a contract, hoping that agency didn’t suffer budget cuts or changes in strategic direction that could cancel that award. The other was to build a business case attractive enough to win investment, something that has long been a challenge given the long time horizons of many space endeavors and their uncertain returns.
A bill introduced in the House earlier this month that establishes property rights for resources taken from asteroids is not perfect, but a step in the right direction towards a broader resolution of property rights in outer space, a conference panel argued last week.
Chinese-American astronaut Leroy Chiao is a bit of a contrarian. He advocates embracing China, rather than shunning it, in the new space race to Mars. He also says America’s relationship with Russia on travel to the International Space Station (ISS), despite recent turmoil in Ukraine, is a good thing for [...]
Northrop Grumman has unveiled its vertical-launch, horizontal-landing reusable booster design for the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency’s (Darpa) XS-1 experimental spaceplane program.
Northrop, teamed with subsidiary Scaled Composites and Virgin Galactic, is working under a 13-month, $3.9 million Phase 1 preliminary-design contract, awarded in July. Contracts also went to Boeing with Blue Origin, and Masten Space Systems with XCOR Aerospace.
Researchers have found that a "quantum vacuum plasma thruster" system, which requires no propellant, does indeed generate a small amount of thrust. If the technology pans out, it could greatly reduce the cost of spaceflight.
Current efforts, focused on NASA’s Asteroid Retrieval Mission (ARM) as a springboard, are fizzling because the U.S. is not the "spacefaring" nation most assume, according to former NASA administrator Mike Griffin.
Imagine flying in America's first space taxi, seeing Earth fade into the distance. Boeing is revolutionizing space travel and is one step closer to making it possible for you to experience previously what only astronauts could: space travel. See more Boeing innovations at http://buildsomethingbetter.com.
There are numerous space exploration advocacy groups well-known to readers of this publication, such as The Mars Society, the American Astronautical Society, and the National Space Society. Last month, a lesser-known such organization, the Scientific Preparatory Academy for Cosmic Explorers (SPACE), held its second conference in Orlando, Florida. The theme of the conference was two-fold: to examine the development of space habitation technology and discussion of the vital need for international space exploration education.