CHINA BUILDING SECRETIVE ‘SPACE NUCLEAR REACTOR’ THAT COULD POWER 10 ORBITING STATIONS

China has reportedly been developing a powerful nuclear reactor for its groundbreaking moon and Mars mission

CHINA has reportedly been developing a powerful nuclear reactor for its groundbreaking moon and Mars mission.

The reactor was designed to power the spacecraft and propulsion using one megawatt of electricity.

That means the reactor is 100 times more powerful than a similar device Nasa is developing for the Moon, per Interesting Engineering.

Meanwhile, Space estimated that the reactor has enough power for 10 International Space Stations.

Most recently, the reactor passed a comprehensive performance review by China’s Ministry of Science and Technology on August 25.

Developed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the reactor has been funded by the Chinese central government since 2019.

Currently, there are no details on how China is planning to use the reactor.

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SKYROOT AEROSPACE RAISES $51M TO BOOST R&D OF VIKRAM ROCKET WITH 3D PRINTED CRYO-ENGINE

A concept image of a Skyroot Aerospace Vikram rocket. Image via Skyroot Aerospace. 

By PAUL HANAPHY

Indian space start-up Skyroot Aerospace has raised $51 million towards the development of its 3D printed cryogenic engine-powered rockets. 

Capable of carrying up to 815-kilos into Low Earth Orbit (LEO), Skyroot Aerospace’s Vikram launch vehicles are propelled by the Dhawan-1, an engine 3D printed from a superalloy, in a way that reduces its production time by 95%. Having secured Series B backing via a round led by Singaporian investor GIC, the firm now has the cash to fund its initial launch tests, and establish its own satellite launch service.

“This round puts us on a trajectory of hyper-growth by funding all of our initial developmental launches, and enables building infrastructure to meet high launch cadence required by our satellite customers,” said Pawan Kumar Chandana, CEO of Skyroot Aerospace. “Our objective is to establish ourselves as a provider of best-in-class rocket launch services and the go-to destination for affordable and reliable small satellite launches.”

“WE ARE PROUD TO WELCOME ONE OF THE WORLD’S LEADING INSTITUTIONAL INVESTORS AS A LONG-TERM PARTNER IN OUR MISSION TO ‘OPEN SPACE FOR ALL’”

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Blue Origin’s ‘Orbital Reef’ Space Station Gets Green Light from NASA

By Ryan Whitwam

The International Space Station (ISS) has been a key part of humanity’s presence in space for years, but its useful life is coming to an end. NASA and other stakeholders currently plan to end ISS operations by 2031, but what comes next? NASA is funding the Commercial Low-Earth Orbit Development Program (CLD) to encourage aerospace firms to build new stations, and a proposal from Blue Origin and Sierra Space just got the green light to move forward. 

The station, known as Orbital Reef, was submitted to NASA for System Definition Review (SDR) earlier this summer. This report allowed the agency to assess the feasibility of the design, and it’s good news for Blue Origin and Sierra Space — NASA believes the companies have the technology and expertise to successfully build the Orbital Reef. Initial timelines project that construction could begin in 2026, and the station could begin operating as early as 2027. 

Whereas space on the ISS was controlled exclusively by partnering space agencies, these new commercial projects will be different. “The microgravity factories and services provided by Orbital Reef have the potential to revolutionize every industry and become a major growth contributor to the U.S. and world economies,” said Tom Vice, CEO of Sierra Space. Other partners in the endeavor include Amazon, Boeing, and Arizona State University. 

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China makes progress in reusability with secretive second flight of suborbital spaceplane

A Long March 2D carrying the Yunhai-1 (02) satellite lifts off from Jiuquan in 2019. The unrelated suborbital spaceplane also launched vertically from Jiuquan, with no further details provided.

By Andrew Jones

Suborbital vehicle to combine with orbital spaceplane for fully reusable space transportation system.

HELSINKI — China has performed its first repeated use of a suborbital spaceplane as part of efforts to develop a fully reusable space transportation system.

The suborbital vehicle launched vertically from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert on Friday, Aug. 26 Beijing time (Aug. 25 Eastern), according to CASC, China’s main space contractor. 

The suborbital spaceplane later landed at Alxa Right Banner airport in Inner Mongolia. The short statement provided neither images of the craft nor information such as time, duration or apogee of the launch. 

The launch occurred while an orbital spaceplane—launched Aug. 4 and an apparent part of a planned two-vehicle reusable system—continues to orbit the Earth.

The clandestine mission marks the second flight for the suborbital spaceplane, which was developed by the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT), a major CASC subsidiary.

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NASA Engineer’s Quantum Dot Instrument Enables Spacecraft-as-Sensor Concept

Multiple solar sail ScienceCraft gather light spectra from Neptune’s moon Triton. Credits: Mahmooda Sultana NASA 

By Keith Cowing

In NASA’s hunt for water and resources beyond Earth, a new technology could coat the “skin” of a satellite, turning its entire surface into a sensor that tallies the chemicals present on distant planets.

Solving the mysteries of our home planet, solar system, and beyond is a key priority for NASA, and the new sensor could be a powerful tool in the investigation. Mahmooda Sultana, an instrument scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, developed the Quantum Dot Spectrometer to help.

Quantum dots are a type of semiconducting nanocrystal that absorbs and re-emits different wavelengths of light depending on their size, shape and chemical composition. Sultana gets her dots, which vary from 2 to 10 nanometers or less than 50 atoms thick, from the lab of chemistry professor Moungi Bawendi, at the Cambridge-based Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

She then uses them to break down light from a planet or other target into portions of the spectrum, creating a sort of fingerprint which reveals what elements or compounds that light has touched.

“Basically, we are converting the entire optical problem into a math problem,” Sultana said. “The dots can be identified in the lab to register light of a particular wavelength – a fraction of the chemical fingerprint. Detectors on the other side of the dots collect the fractions, then the data is handed over to computers on the ground to reassemble the complete fingerprint.”

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Hitchhiking to the moon: LunaH-Map

LunaH-Map with its solar panels unfolded

by: Kaitlin Kanable

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (WHNT) – Throughout the Apollo missions to the moon, all of the landings focused on areas near the equator. Now, on the first Artemis mission, a tiny satellite called LunaH-Map will be focusing on what things look like at the moon’s south pole. 

The Lunar Polar Hydrogen Mapper was one of 10 CubeSats chosen to fly aboard the Space Launch System’s (SLS) first fully integrated flight. These small satellites are helping with large science goals.

News 19 sat down with LunaH-Map Principal Investigator Craig Hardgrove to learn more about the CubeSat and its mission to the moon. The University of Tennessee graduate has been with the project from the very beginning.

“We’ve known for a while now that there is ice at the poles on the moon,” Hardgrove said. 

He explained previous missions have used scientific tools to take readings of hydrogen deposits, showing where water probably is, but LunaH-Map will help visually show what those areas look like. It will provide details on those areas such as how deep the water deposits are and how wide.

LunaH-Map has a neutron spectrometer onboard which the rest of the spacecraft has been built around. The spectrometer is about the size of a tissue box while all of LunaH is about the size of a large cereal box.

Hardgrove explained the project was first thought of about seven years ago when scientists wanted to know more about the ice at the lunar south pole.

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Researchers Have Generated Oxygen From Magnets To Aid Long-Term Space Exploration

By Bharat Sharma

Scientists have managed to produce oxygen from magnets for astronauts of the future researchers from the University of Warwick have made oxygen for astronauts using magnets.NASA uses centrifuges to get oxygen in space. However, those machines are large and energy intensive. Magnets could produce the same results more practically, scientists have found.

Scientists have managed to produce oxygen from magnets for astronauts of the future. Yep, researchers from the University of Warwick have made oxygen for astronauts using magnets.

“On the International Space Station, oxygen is generated using an electrolytic cell that splits water into hydrogen and oxygen, but then you have to get those gasses out of the system,” the study’s lead author, Álvaro Romero-Calvo, a recent Ph.D. graduate from the University of Colorado Boulder said in a statement.

This method might not work for a trip to Mars and could make things worse. Currently, NASA uses centrifuges to get oxygen in space. However, those machines are large and energy intensive. Magnets could produce the same results more practically, scientists have found.

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Scientists build robot that could one day help us travel around black holes

Researchers from Georgia Tech claim they’ve built a robot that can move in curved space without Newton’s third law 

By Adam Smith

Scientists have built a robot that defies the standard laws of physics and could eventually help humans travel around black holes.

When humans, animals, and machines move through the world they must push against something – be that the ground, air, or water. This is Newton’s third law: every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

The law applies to flat, three-dimensional space that humans move through, but in curved space forces can differ – and objects can move without frictional or gravitational impact.

As such, researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology claim they have built a robot that can move in curved space without pushing against anything.

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ORGANS IN ORBIT 

Nasa sending ‘materials similar to human tissues and organs’ to dark side of Moon

By Charlotte Edwards

NASA is planning to send some female body parts to space on its upcoming Moon mission.

The unusual passengers will be rocketed past the dark side of the Moon later this month as part of the Artemis I mission.

The US space agency is planning to send real women to the Moon but it’s thought the female body has a bigger risk of negative impacts from space radiation.

This is where mannequins Helga and Zohar come into play.

The two torsos are said to be made up of materials similar to the bones, soft tissues, and organs of a female adult human.

Over 10,000 sensors and radiation detectors will be tracking the effects of space on these materials as Helgar and Zohar travel around the Moon.

The plan is to send the two identical torsos to space on the Artemis 1 mission that will be testing out all the tech that should take humans to the Moon in a few years time.

Nasa plans to rocket Artemis 1 into space later this month and send its Orion capsule looping around the Moon.

The current launch date is scheduled for August 29.

Continue reading… “ORGANS IN ORBIT “
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Zenno Astronautics wants to move spacecraft around using electromagnets, not fuel

By Aria Alamalhodaei

It’s easy to think about satellites as a bunch of mini-moons, orbiting the Earth seamlessly and without any (noticeable) movement. But that’s not quite right: satellites and other spacecraft often require fairly continuous tweaks to their positions in orbit.

Historically, the aerospace industry has relied on thrusters, or a combination of reaction wheels and magnetic torque rods, to control a spacecraft’s attitude, control and positioning. But these take up a lot of space and mass, and limit how long a spacecraft can stay in orbit. New Zealand-based Zenno Astronautics has come up with an alternative to these heavy and time-limited propulsion systems. The core technology is an electromagnet that generates a very strong magnetic field, which can interact with other magnetic fields — like those on other spacecraft, or even Earth’s own — to generate torque.

The technology caught the interest of investors, who recently contributed to a NZ$10.5 million ($6.585 million) seed round. New Zealand-based VC firms GD1 (Global From Day One) and Nuance Connected Capital led the round, with additional participation from Shasta Ventures, NZGCP, K1W1, Austrian billionaire Wolfgang Leitner, Alt Ventures, Enterprise Angels, Arkisys and NZVC.

The funding marks the beginning of what Zenno hopes will be a landmark 18 months, culminating in their first launch in the fourth quarter of 2023. Around the same time, the company hopes to have a production facility operating with a massive manufacturing capacity of 1,000 electromagnetic systems per year.

“We can generate a new type of force in space,” founder Max Arshavsky told TechCrunch. “That is really the most fundamental breakthrough that we have.”

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Space Perspective Unveils Patented ‘Spaceship Neptune’ Capsule Produced at Kennedy Space Center

Space travel is about to get safer, more comfortable, and even more thrilling. Space Perspective, Planet Earth’s leading luxury space travel company, unveils the patent-pending Spaceship Neptune capsule design now in production at the company’s state-of-the-art campus, near its Operations Center at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida. (Space Perspective image)

COMMERCIAL FLIGHTS TARGETED TO BEGIN IN 2024

BREVARD COUNTY • KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLORIDA – Space travel is about to get safer, more comfortable, and even more thrilling. Space Perspective is currently taking reservations for 2025 and beyond. Tickets are priced at $125,000 per person.

Space Perspective, Planet Earth’s leading luxury space travel company, unveils the patent-pending Spaceship Neptune capsule design now in production at the company’s state-of-the-art campus, near its Operations Center at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

As the only carbon-neutral way to space, Space Perspective continues its pursuit of proprietary space travel innovation.

Thousands of virtual flight tests, simulations, and analyses run with cutting-edge technology from Siemens Digital Industries and AWS resulted in the pioneering capsule and splash cone designs.

An elegant spherical exterior maximizes the 360-degree panoramic views via the largest-ever, patented windows to be taken to the edge of space and a roomier Space Lounge interior, offering plenty of headroom as Explorers move around the capsule.

The proprietary splash cone ensures Spaceship Neptune’s ocean landing is gentle and safe.

Space Perspective is revolutionizing space travel – and is a world away from rocket-fueled space endeavors.

Explorers onboard Spaceship Neptune, taking flight commercially from the end of 2024, will safely ascend to the edge of space in the climate-controlled, pressurized capsule, propelled by a patented SpaceBalloonTM, absorbing the phenomenal beauty of Earth from space.

The six-hour round trip enables anybody who can board an airplane to soak in the beautiful views of the thin blue line circling earth below and the dark vastness of space above.

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Researchers 3D Print Sensors For Satellites

By Amelia Podder 

MIT researchers have demonstrated a 3D-printed plasma sensor for orbiting spacecraft that works just as well as much more expensive, semiconductor sensors. These durable, precise sensors could be used effectively on inexpensive, lightweight satellites known as CubeSats, which are commonly utilized for environmental monitoring or weather prediction.

MIT scientists have created the first completely digitally manufactured plasma sensors for orbiting spacecraft. These plasma sensors, also known as retarding potential analyzers (RPAs), are used by satellites to determine the chemical composition and ion energy distribution of the atmosphere.

The 3D-printed and laser-cut hardware performed as well as state-of-the-art semiconductor plasma sensors that are manufactured in a cleanroom, which makes them expensive and requires weeks of intricate fabrication. By contrast, the 3D-printed sensors can be produced for tens of dollars in a matter of days.

Due to their low cost and speedy production, the sensors are ideal for CubeSats. These inexpensive, low-power, and lightweight satellites are often used for communication and environmental monitoring in Earth’s upper atmosphere.

The researchers developed RPAs using a glass-ceramic material that is more durable than traditional sensor materials like silicon and thin-film coatings. By using the glass-ceramic in a fabrication process that was developed for 3D printing with plastics, there were able to create sensors with complex shapes that can withstand the wide temperature swings a spacecraft would encounter in lower Earth orbit.

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