To paraphrase President John F. Kennedy in his famous moon speech: We do this and the other things not because they are easy, but because they are hard. And what makes them hard? When it comes to opening the frontier of space — we do. The biggest challenge is not the vacuum, not the radiation, not the gravity, not the vast distances. It is us. For we can overcome each of those, but can we overcome ourselves? Can we get past our positions so we can work together to throw open the frontier for the people of Earth?
NASA is clear about its long-term goal of human spaceflight—sending humans to Mars—but has been vague about the next steps beyond low Earth orbit to achieve that goal. Jeff Foust reports how NASA, working with companies and potential international partners, is starting to look at a series of missions in cislunar space in the 2020s as those next steps.
Engineers at Northrop Grumman have been exploring the possibility of creating an inflatable aircraft that could travel to Venus for more than two years, and now it appears the company could soon begin work on an actual prototype of the vehicle.
Much has been written about the value of helium-3 for non-radiation producing energy production and states around the world are quietly positioning themselves to secure it from the Moon. In fact, most national space programs citing Mars as the primary objective conveniently include the Moon as a stepping stone, including NASA’s Space Launch System with its 130 tons payload capacity, which will be the biggest heavy lift rocket ever built. If one state secures helium-3 exclusively, then it will become the new global hegemon.
China is very close to a breakthrough in energy production from helium-3 and the goals of its space program inspired by the visionary Professor Ouyang Ziyuan are closely, if not directly, related to securing helium-3 as a geostrategic national priority.
A passion for exploration is the fuel to an innovative economy, says astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.
In an interview with CNBC's On the Money, the host of the new National Geographic Channel show StarTalk — based on Tyson's podcast and Sirius XM radio show of the same name — described the dynamic implications of scientific discovery.
"You have to innovate," said Tyson, arguably the most famous astrophysicist in America. When "an engineer comes out with a new patent to take you to a place — intellectually, physically … that has never been reached before, those become the engines of tomorrow's economy."
WASHINGTON — Legislation that one congressman plans to introduce in the near future would make space settlement a national goal and require NASA to take action to support it.
The Space Exploration, Development, and Settlement Act of 2015, drafted by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), would mark the second time in the last three decades that Congress has directed NASA to support efforts for permanent human settlements beyond Earth orbit.
A version of the bill circulated in the space advocacy community would amend the National Aeronautics and Space Act, the “organic” legislation that created NASA in 1958, to include space settlement among national space policy goals and objectives.
There remains interest in carrying out human missions to the surface of the Moon, even though that is not an official goal of the present administration. Anthony Young discusses how a commercial model for lunar transportation, based on the COTS and commercial crew programs, might be the most cost-effective, and perhaps the only, way to carry out such missions.
The BEAM was developed by Bigelow Aerospace, a 16-year-old Las Vegas company whose founder, Robert Bigelow, has made a fortune in real-estate and hotel development. Bigelow has pledged $500 million of his own fortune to developing low-cost, long-term habitats for low-Earth-orbit (LEO) missions and those beyond LEO to the moon and Mars.
SpaceX head Elon Musk has revealed plans to utilize the Falcon Heavy and Dragon 2 vehicles for science missions throughout the solar system. Citing Dragon 2’s capability as a “science delivery platform”, Mr. Musk claimed the crew-capable spacecraft could also be tasked with landing scientific payloads at destinations ranging from the Moon and Mars – and even as far afield as Europa.
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