Why humans might need artificial gravity for future space travel

Astronauts are set to travel to Mars in the not-so-distant future. Some missions will result in people living in an extended period of microgravity.

The human body isn’t designed to handle this, so scientists are developing the best ways to mimic gravity on Earth on a spaceship.

So how will they do it?

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World’s most powerful rocket that will launch humans to the Moon to be rolled out in February

With the Artemis mission, Nasa will land the first woman and the first person of colour on the Moon and establish a a long-term presence.

NASA¹s Space Launch System rocket will launch with Orion atop it from Launch Complex 39B at NASA¹s modernized spaceport at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Photo: Nasa)

Amid reports of the Artemis mission to the Moon being delayed, Nasa is preparing the mega Space Launch System (SLS) rocket for its debut flight. The maiden flight will carry Artemis-1, an uncrewed mission, setting the stage for crewed flights with Artemis missions II, III, IV and

Pegged to be the most powerful rocket in the world and the only machine capable of sending the Orion spacecraft towards the Moon, the two solid rocket boosters and four RS-25 engines produce more than 8.8 million pounds of thrust beyond Earth’s orbit and into the Moon’s.

“The Space Launch System team is not just building one rocket but manufacturing several rockets for exploration missions and future SLS flights beyond the initial Artemis launch. The Artemis I mission is the first in a series of increasingly complex missions that will extend our presence on the Moon. The SLS rocket’s unprecedented power and capabilities will send missions farther and faster throughout the solar system,” John Honeycutt, SLS program manager said.

Nasa had in 2020 said that it is targeting February 2022 for the Artemis 1 launch with the vehicle in the final phase of launch preparations. The rocket features some of the largest, most advanced, and most reliable hardware elements ever built for space exploration.A

The massive rocket will be rolled out in February with teams looking at the final date for the event. The SLS and Orion will journey to Launch Pad 39B atop the transporter-2crawler.

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MIT engineers test an idea for a new hovering Lunar rover

MIT aerospace engineers are testing a concept for a hovering rover that levitates by harnessing the moon’s natural charge. This illustration shows a concept image of rover.

By Jennifer Chu for MIT News

Aerospace engineers at MIT are testing a new concept for a hovering rover that levitates by harnessing the moon’s natural charge.

Because they lack an atmosphere, the moon and other airless bodies such as asteroids can build up an electric field through direct exposure to the sun and surrounding plasma. On the moon, this surface charge is strong enough to levitate dust more than 1 meter above the ground, much the way static electricity can cause a person’s hair to stand on end.

Engineers at NASA and elsewhere have recently proposed harnessing this natural surface charge to levitate a glider with wings made of Mylar, a material that naturally holds the same charge as surfaces on airless bodies. They reasoned that the similarly charged surfaces should repel each other, with a force that lofts the glider off the ground. But such a design would likely be limited to small asteroids, as larger planetary bodies would have a stronger, counteracting gravitational pull.

The MIT team’s levitating rover could potentially get around this size limitation. The concept, which resembles a retro-style, disc-shaped flying saucer, uses tiny ion beams to both charge up the vehicle and boost the surface’s natural charge. The overall effect is designed to generate a relatively large repulsive force between the vehicle and the ground, in a way that requires very little power. In an initial feasibility study, the researchers show that such an ion boost should be strong enough to levitate a small, 2-pound vehicle on the moon and large asteroids like Psyche.

“We think of using this like the Hayabusa missions that were launched by the Japanese space agency,” says lead author Oliver Jia-Richards, a graduate student in MIT’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics. “That spacecraft operated around a small asteroid and deployed small rovers to its surface. Similarly, we think a future mission could send out small hovering rovers to explore the surface of the moon and other asteroids.”

The team’s results appear in the current issue of the Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets. Jia-Richards’ co-authors are Paulo Lozano, the M. Aleman-Velasco Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and director of MIT’s Space Propulsion Lab; and former visiting student Sebastian Hampl, now at McGill University.

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SpinLaunch Successfully Throws A 10-Meter Dart Toward Space

It’s not like we are doing any mining for exotic materials on the Moon or Mars, so I suspect that this interesting intellectual capital might sit on a shelf for a few decades.

By Michael Barnard

SpinLaunch is playing with a different, electric model for mass launching to orbit. It is trying to throw mass into space, but there are challenges.

In October, a company called SpinLaunch threw a 10-meter long dart at the sky, reaching roughly 10,000 meters in altitude. So what, you might ask. Well, it did it in a novel and interesting way, which one day might actually be useful for throwing stuff into orbit using electricity instead of rocket fuel.

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NASA backs Blue Origin’s Orbital Reef space station

Alexa, book me a ticket to low Earth orbit.

By A. Tarantola

Following October’s news that Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin spaceflight company planned to build its own commercial space station in low Earth orbit, NASA announced on Thursday it has selected the program for funding through a Space Act Agreement to further develop the the station’s design. The funding is part of NASA’s Commercial LEO Development program, which aims to “develop a robust commercial space economy in LEO, including supporting the development of commercially owned and operated LEO destinations.” 

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Rocket Lab Reveals First Details of Neutron Rocket, a Real Rival of SpaceX’s Falcon 9

Neutron’s nosecone will not disconnect from the rocket’s body after releasing the upper stage.

By Sissi Cao 

NEUTRON WILL BE ABOUT ONE THIRD SHORTER THAN A FALCON 9, BUT WILL WEIGH TWO THIRDS LESS.

New Zealand space startup Rocket Lab has been busy working on a large reusable rocket called Neutron since the company went public on Nasdaq in March. On Thursday, Rocket Lab revealed the first details about the rocket, which could be a serious rival of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 in future commercial launch market.

Neutron belongs to a category called medium-class launch boosters. It’s designed to be 131 feet tall and 23 feet in diameter with a maximum payload capacity of 15,000 kilograms (33,000 pounds) to low Earth orbit. (For reusable launches, Neutron will be able to carry up to 8,000 kilograms to low Earth orbit.)

While it’s not quite as big as Falcon 9, which stands at 230 feet tall and can lift up to 22,800 kilograms (50,000 pounds) of payloads to low Earth orbit, it’s powerful enough to launch many cargo missions Falcon 9 is currently used for.

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Iodine-powered satellite successfully tested in space for first time

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The iodine electric propulsion system firing in a vacuum chamber

By Chen Ly

Many satellites use xenon as a propellant to help them change orbit or avoid collisions, but the gas is expensive – now we know iodine provides a cheaper alternative.

A satellite has been successfully powered by iodine for the first time. Iodine performed better than the traditional propellant of choice, xenon – highlighting iodine’s potential utility for future space missions.

Spacecraft use propulsion systems to move around in space, helping them to change orbit or avoid collisions, for example. A key part of propulsion systems is the propellant – a substance expelled from the spacecraft to drive it forwards.

Currently, xenon is the main propellant used in electric propulsion systems, but the chemical is rare and expensive to produce. As a gas, xenon must also be stored at very high pressures, which requires specialised equipment.

Iodine has a similar atomic mass to xenon but is more abundant and much cheaper. It can also be stored as an unpressurised solid, meaning it has the potential to simplify satellite designs.

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Boeing completes world’s first all-electric propulsion satellites

By Loren Blinde  

Boeing, of Chicago, IL, announced on January 9 that it has completed production of the world’s first all-electric propulsion satellites as preparations continue to launch the satellites, as a vertically stacked pair, next month.

The Boeing 702SP (small platform) satellites are affordable and lightweight, and provide more options for movement to different orbital positions, the firm said. The 702SP is one of three new satellite designs Boeing has introduced in four years, the others being the 702MP and 502 Phoenix.

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Virgin Galactic reveals how many $450K seats it’s sold for space tourism ride


By Trevor Mogg

Virgin Galactic has revealed that so far 100 people have each handed over $450,000 for a flight on its rocket-powered suborbital spaceplane.

That brings the total number of reservations for its upcoming space tourism service t0 700, with the other 600 having paid $250,000 before the seat price was raised to $450,000 in the summer.

Virgin Galactic revealed details of the ticket sales in its latest earnings report released on Monday, November 9.

The company is aiming to launch a space tourism service toward the end of 2022 that will send passengers around 55 miles above Earth for a few moments of weightlessness, as well as awesome views of Earth, before returning to terra firma.

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US Scientists Are Producing Rocket Fuel Using Microbes on Mars

Rocket engines departing Mars are currently planned to be fueled by methane and liquid oxygen (LOX).

While the bioproduction process would use three resources native to the Red Planet — carbon dioxide, sunlight, and frozen water — two microbes will be transported from Earth to Mars.

US researchers have developed a technique that would help astronomers develop Martian rocket fuel using microbes on the Red Planet. While the bioproduction process would use three resources native to the Red Planet — carbon dioxide, sunlight, and frozen water — two microbes will be transported from Earth to Mars.

The first is cyanobacteria (algae), which would take CO2 from the Martian atmosphere and use sunlight to create sugars, and second an engineered E. coli which will convert those sugars into a Mars-specific propellant for rockets and other propulsion devices, said a team led by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The Martian propellant, which is called 2,3-butanediol, is currently in existence and can be created by E. coli, they explained in the paper, published in the journal Nature Communications. On Earth, it is used to make polymers for production of rubber.

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Rocket Lab Plans to Use a Helicopter to Catch a Rocket Mid-Air as It Returns from Space

by Florina Spînu

Rocket Lab announced plans to make its Electron rocket the first reusable orbital launch vehicle dedicated to small satellites. Towards that goal, a helicopter will monitor the rocket’s descent during the company’s next launch in preparation for future missions that seek to catch returning rocket boosters mid-air as they return to Earth. 7 photos

Rocket Lab’s next mission, dubbed ‘Love At First Insight,’ is set to take off from the company’s Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand during a 14-day launch window that will open on November 11th. This will be Rocket Lab’s fifth mission of this year and the third ocean recovery of an Electron stage. 

But, this time, things will go down differently. The ‘Love At First Insight’mission will carry two Earth-observation satellites for global monitoring company BlackSky to Earth’s low orbit and will serve as a testbed for future aerial capture efforts.

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