Last week it was asteroid mining, as Peter Diamandis and his partners showed us their bold new venture, Planetary Resources, aiming eventually to start harvesting trillions of dollars worth of materials that would then no longer have to be ripped out of Mother Earth.
This glimpse of a vigorously bold and can-do future provoked The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart to comment, “Do you know how rarely the news in 2012 looks and sounds how you thought news would look and sound like in 2012?” to fervent approval from his audience. Having worked in this area 30 years ago, I was thrilled to see this forward-looking initiative finally get rolling in my lifetime. Oh, but also… to see it completed…
More than a month after his record-setting solo dive to the bottom of the ocean, filmmaker James Cameron is fleshing out his adventure tale with personal details as well as comparisons to another one of his passions — space exploration.
Propellant depots have been an area of interest in recent years as a way to lower launch costs by allowing spacecraft to launch “dry”—that is, with empty tanks—and then gas up in space; or, to refuel their tanks to extend their missions. For propellant depots to work, though, the cost of bringing the propellant up separately and operating the depots would have to be less that simply launching fully-fueled spacecraft on larger rockets. Depot advocates in the past have suggested that supplying depots with relatively inexpensive propellants could be an ideal market for new, untried low-cost launch vehicles, particularly reusable launch vehicles.
A Washington State University astrobiologist is leading a group of 20 scientists in calling for a mission to Mars with "a strong and comprehensive life detection component." At the heart of their proposal is a small fleet of sensor packages that can punch into the Martian soil and run a range of tests for signs of
Six Space Cadets (élèves officier de « l’espace ») de la promotion Général de Marmier de l’École de l’air ont participé au projet EuroMoonMars en 2012 : les aspirants Baptiste Moeglin, Nicolas Pourquier et Alexandre Richard au sein de l’équipage 113 ainsi que les aspirants Pierrick Darneaux, Thomas Quemin et Yannick Wable au sein de l’équipage 114.
Tout cela reste forcément très théorique, mais j’ai eu la surprise de découvrir il y a quelques jours que la société Ad Astra Rocket a conçu un moteur magnéto-plasmique permettant de parcourir la distance Terre-Mars en seulement 39 jours! Le président-fondateur de la société est l’astronaute Franklin Chang-Diaz, vétéran de la NASA.
On Wednesday, a little over three months after he briefly, if somewhat bizarrely, catapulted space policy to the front lines of the Republican presidential campaign, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich formally suspended his campaign for the White House. In a speech lasting over 20 minutes in a Washington, DC-area hotel, Gingrich suggested he is still interested, and may in some way still be involved, in shaping the space policy debate.
"We need to make space accessible just like we conquered the air one century ago," says Abdul Nasser El Hakim, the minister of economic development for the Caribbean island nation of Curaçao, which hopes to have a spaceport by 2014.
Yet the task of launching a spacecraft remains a Herculean feat - and building a financially successful launchpad may be harder still.
Planetary researchers at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) simulated the conditions on Mars for 34 days and exposed various microorganisms to this environment. "During this period, the lichens and bacteria continued to demonstrate measurable activity and carry out photosynthesis," says Jean-Pierre de Vera, a scientist at the DLR Institute of Planetary Research in Berlin and head of the Mars simulation project. The microorganisms adapted to this environment, primarily in niches in rocks and in fissures and gaps in the simulated Martian soil. This might be an indication that such adaptation strategies would make life possible in niches on the actual surface of Mars as well.
Avec leurs tonnes de métaux précieux, les astéroïdes qui flottent dans l’espace inspirent les scientifiques, les ingénieurs, les auteurs de science-fiction… Et les milliardaires. Selon le magazine Wired, un groupe de riches entrepreneurs devrait annoncer, mardi 24 avril, la création d’une nouvelle société, Planetary Resources, qui enverra dans l’espace une nuée de robots pour explorer les astéroïdes à la recherche de métaux précieux.
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