Japanese spacecraft fired cannonball into asteroid

CBE7D742-A040-4B50-9CD0-45CD4D85752A

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) Hayabusa2 spacecraft fired a copper cannonball into Ryugu, an 850 meter-wide near-Earth asteroid. The 2 kilogram “Small Carry-on Impactor,” a bit larger than a tennis ball, hit the asteroid at approximately 7,200 kilometers/hour and blew out a 14.5 meter wide crater with a depth of .6 meters. After a year of analysis, scientists have reported their analysis of the plume created by the impact and properties of the crater. From Space.com:

The number and size of craters that pockmark asteroids such as Ryugu can help scientists estimate the age and properties of asteroid surfaces. These analyses are based on models of how such craters form, and data from artificial impacts like that on Ryugu can help test those models…

Continue reading… “Japanese spacecraft fired cannonball into asteroid”

0

Human settlements in space are closer than we think. Here’s what it will look like

3CB0CD79-3703-4783-874B-6B2A2AAB561E

From vast spaceships orbiting close to Earth to tunnels the size of Los Angeles under the surface of the moon

 European Space Agency’s plan for the Moon Village.

“We already have, or at least understand, the technology needed for a moon base,” says Lewis Dartnell, an astrobiologist from the University of Westminster in London. “The time frame could be in a matter of years,” he adds, “if money were no object and nations around the world were to decide that they needed to build a lunar base together.”

Prof. Dartnell is not alone in his optimism. Many scientists, space engineers and industrialists believe that humanity is on the brink of a breakthrough in settlement. Recent developments could advance the realization of this vision.

For example, a report published last month stated that the radar used by the Chinese spacecraft that was the first to reach the far side of the moon is particularly useful for locating subterranean ice layers. One day, that ice may make it possible for people to remain on the moon for lengthy periods.

Continue reading… “Human settlements in space are closer than we think. Here’s what it will look like”

0

The next challenge for getting to Mars: What happens to the human body in space

2F328C62-133E-49C8-9748-C2589DC1D048

From NASA’s Moon to Mars program to Elon Musk’s ambitious plan to send a million people to Mars by 2050, the race is on to get human feet on the red planet. With increasingly sophisticated rockets and robotics, the technological challenges standing in the way of this goal are fast being eroded.

But there might be a different issue which hampers plans to take people off-planet and send them out to explore the rest of the solar system. Strange things happen to the human body in space, and we’re going to need to find ways to address these medical issues if we want to be able to send astronauts on long-duration missions like the several years that a Mars mission might require.

Digital Trends spoke to University College London cardiologist Dr. Rohin Francis, who has performed studies into space medicine, about how human bodies respond to long-term habitation of the space environment and what that might mean for manned missions to Mars.

Continue reading… “The next challenge for getting to Mars: What happens to the human body in space”

0

Elon Musk says he’s ‘definitely going to be dead’ before humans ever reach Mars — unless the pace of innovation picks up

F66A0692-4AF6-43AC-AD59-DD52B5B74815

An illustration of a woman orbiting Mars inside a SpaceX vehicle. Elon Musk/SpaceX

Elon Musk said he’s “definitely going to be dead” before humans reach Mars unless innovation speeds up.

The SpaceX CEO made the comments on Monday while speaking to attendees of the Satellite 2020 conference in Washington, DC.

Musk said the biggest obstacle is designing and building a large and “rapidly reusable” rocket.

Continue reading… “Elon Musk says he’s ‘definitely going to be dead’ before humans ever reach Mars — unless the pace of innovation picks up”

0

Here are all the ways to visit space this decade (if you’re extremely rich)

9C0AFAF4-7550-4C2E-B583-E1FF5E45F48C

Glamping in zero gravity will cost a few millions bucks at least.

Have you always dreamt of leaving Earth? Are you a member of the two, or better yet three commas club? Well it’s a great time to be alive because after decades of delays, the space tourism industry may finally be taking off. Not just the kind Dennis Tito pioneered in 2001, where you buy a ticket from the Russian government to visit the International Space Station (ISS), but real honest-to-goodness free market tourism with multiple private companies vying to turn your hard-earned millions into an out-of-this-world experience.

SpaceX, which is preparing to launch astronauts to the ISS any month now in its newly human-rated Crew Dragon capsule, announced last week that NASA won’t be the only paying customer for its new vehicle. The private company is also offering to launch up to four private citizens into orbit in late 2021 or 2022. And SpaceX is far from the only company on the verge of starting space tourism operations. Here’s a primer to where and when you can go, and how much it might cost you.

Continue reading… “Here are all the ways to visit space this decade (if you’re extremely rich)”

0

SpaceX will launch private citizens into orbit

F34D4AE0-38F8-426F-BA4A-61D69F6ECCF8

SpaceX is planning to send up to four private citizens into space to take a trip around Earth sometime at the end of 2021 or in early 2022. The spaceflight company announced an agreement on Tuesday with Space Adventures, a space tourism business that has helped seven different private citizens take trips to (and from) the International Space Station aboard Russia’s Soyuz rocket and spacecraft.

Space Adventures said the price of the mission will not be disclosed, and the two companies were light on other details, like what kind of preparation the tourists will have to go through. The companies did say Tuesday that the tourists will fly in the human-rated version of SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft and that they will orbit Earth at two to three times the roughly 250-mile height of the ISS.

SpaceX has spent the last few years building and testing out this new version of Dragon as part of a contract with NASA to shuttle astronauts to and from the ISS, after years of using the spacecraft to shuttle cargo to the space station. The private spaceflight company recently completed the second major flight test of the Crew Dragon, as it’s called, which demonstrated the capsule’s ability to escape an exploding rocket.

Continue reading… “SpaceX will launch private citizens into orbit”

0

The sun is still a burning mystery. That may be about to change.

8A500305-BF81-488B-9E03-2F46ABDCD67F

The historic launch of the new European Solar Orbiter helps foster a golden age for understanding our nearest star.

On Sunday evening, a rocket lit up Florida’s nighttime sky as it ferried a spacecraft toward a first-of-its-kind adventure to the sun.

Even though our home star smolders every day in our skies, humans have only ever seen the sun from one perspective: face-on, from within the plane of the planets. The European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter, or SolO, is about to change that, as it is designed to perform a detailed reconnaissance of the sun that will allow it to see the star’s previously invisible polar regions.

From this unique vantage point, SolO’s suite of 10 instruments will help uncover how the star sends streams of energetic particles called the solar wind throughout our planetary system. It will also help answer what controls the sun’s 11-year magnetic cycle, which varies in intensity and creates unanticipated fluctuations in solar activity.

“We fundamentally really don’t understand that,” says ESA’s Daniel Müller, SolO project scientist. “Hopefully, we’re filling in that gap with Solar Orbiter.”

Continue reading… “The sun is still a burning mystery. That may be about to change.”

0

Spin launch’s ginormous centrifuge plans to slingshot rockets into space

539AF104-C2B6-4353-A334-12BFF4C05EE4

One of the greatest obstacles in launching spacecraft off our planet is the tremendous volume and cost of fuel required to achieve escape velocity and break out of Earth’s gravity well into the vacuum of outer space.

Aerospace firms have offered a number of novel solutions to this dilemma, but we’re still stuck with the good old-fashioned method of firing up a rocket engine and blasting ourselves off our spinning rock in a thunderous display.

Hoping to build a better mousetrap, California startup firm SpinLaunch is taking a kinetic energy approach and has lofty plans to construct a football field-sized, vacuum-sealed centrifuge that will accelerate a 25-foot-long rocket to over 5,000 miles per hour, then release it to slingshot into the heavens before its booster engine fires to attain a proper orbital attitude.

Continue reading… “Spin launch’s ginormous centrifuge plans to slingshot rockets into space”

0

ESA opens oxygen plant, making air out of moondust

 

16E00FA0-9ABD-4A50-80F7-B445DF615241

Oxygen and metal from lunar regolith. Credit: Beth Lomax – University of Glasgow

ESA’s technical heart has begun to produce oxygen out of simulated moondust.

A prototype oxygen plant has been set up in the Materials and Electrical Components Laboratory of the European Space Research and Technology Centre, ESTEC, based in Noordwijk in the Netherlands.

“Having our own facility allows us to focus on oxygen production, measuring it with a mass spectrometer as it is extracted from the regolith simulant,” comments Beth Lomax of the University of Glasgow, whose Ph.D. work is being supported through ESA’s Networking and Partnering Initiative, harnessing advanced academic research for space applications.

“Being able to acquire oxygen from resources found on the Moon would obviously be hugely useful for future lunar settlers, both for breathing and in the local production of rocket fuel.”

Continue reading… “ESA opens oxygen plant, making air out of moondust”

0

SpaceX is about to launch a historic mission with actual people on board Crew Dragon

A716165B-B1F4-4619-97E0-4B18CE3DED8A

SpaceX is poised to launch its first astronauts into space this spring: Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley.

 Their flight on the company’s Crew Dragon spaceship will mark the first time an American spacecraft has carried NASA astronauts since the Space Shuttle program ended in 2011.

Behnken and Hurley’s liftoff is expected to launch a new era of US spaceflight, since it will allow NASA to stop relying on Russian launch systems to get astronauts into space. It will probably also make the two astronauts the first to ever fly a commercial spacecraft.

“Bob and I were lucky enough to be selected together,” Hurley told The Atlantic in September. “As we get closer to launch, things in the last year have actually been pretty hectic. We’ve been spending increasing amounts of time in California, because that’s where most of the work is being done for Dragon.”

In preparation, they have run through emergency procedures, undergone extensive training the Crew Dragon’s mechanisms, worn their new spacesuits, and met with SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

Continue reading… “SpaceX is about to launch a historic mission with actual people on board Crew Dragon”

0

China plans 39 million-mile race to Mars to catch up with NASA

57CC6BB1-EF85-4FD1-968B-072003390347

“Mars Base 1” is a Mars simulation center in the Gobi desert.

China is taking its rivalry with the U.S. to another planet.

The Chinese space agency is preparing a mid-year mission to Mars, marking the most ambitious project on an exploration checklist intended to achieve equal footing with NASA and transform the nation’s technological know-how.

Landing the unmanned probe on the red planet would cap President Xi Jinping’s push to make China a superpower in space. The nation already has rovers on the moon, and it’s making bold plans to operate an orbiting space station, establish a lunar base and explore asteroids by the 2030s.

Continue reading… “China plans 39 million-mile race to Mars to catch up with NASA”

0

China makes major breakthrough in space propulsion technology

FB91D5A8-CB91-45DD-8712-7455C3D58921

The 20-kW Hall thruster in operation at a laboratory of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation

 China has made a major breakthrough in the development of the Hall-effect thruster (HET), an important space propulsion technology.

Researchers from the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) have developed the country’s first HET with an input power of 20 kilowatts that can produce a thrust of one newton, marking a leap for China’s HETs from millinewton level to newton level.

The applications of HETs include control of the orientation and position of orbiting satellites and use as a main propulsion engine for medium-size robotic space vehicles.

Continue reading… “China makes major breakthrough in space propulsion technology”

0