Sierra Space Achieves Milestone in Inflatable Habitat Technology for Future Space Stations

Sierra Space has successfully demonstrated, in a ground test, that their full-scale inflatable habitat, designed for a future space station, meets NASA’s stringent safety standards. Conducted at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, the test subjected Sierra Space’s 300 cubic meter inflatable structure to pressures five times higher than those it would encounter in space. Referred to as the ultimate burst pressure test, the results surpassed NASA’s recommended safety standard, marking a significant technical achievement.

The inflatable technology, developed in collaboration with ILC Dover, endured pressures, with the structure bursting at 77 psi, exceeding NASA’s safety standard of 60.8 psi, four times the module’s real-life operating pressure. Sierra Space, known for the Dream Chaser spaceplane, is a key player in the race to build a new commercial space station, with their Orbital Reef concept developed in partnership with Blue Origin.

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Webb’s Gift: Unveiling Uranus’ Celestial Tapestry with Unprecedented Detail

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has bestowed upon astronomers and space enthusiasts a captivating holiday snapshot of Uranus, the seventh planet from the sun, showcasing the distant ice giant in extraordinary detail. The Agency proudly announced this mesmerizing celestial spectacle, made possible by the telescope’s renowned and unparalleled infrared resolution.

In this latest image, the Webb telescope’s exquisite sensitivity not only unveils the dim inner and outer rings of Uranus but also captures the elusive Zeta ring, a faint and diffuse ring closest to the planet. The image transcends the rings, delving into the intricacies of the planet’s lunar entourage, exposing many of its 27 known moons, with some small moons nestled within the rings.

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California Startup Helicity Space Secures $5 Million Seed Funding for Innovative Fusion Space Engines

In a significant stride toward revolutionizing space propulsion, Helicity Space, a California-based startup specializing in fusion engines for spaceflight, has successfully raised $5 million in a seed funding round announced on December 11. The funding round drew support from notable investors, including Airbus Ventures, TRE Ventures, Voyager Space Holdings, E2MC Space, Urania Ventures, and Gaingels.

Founded in Pasadena in 2018, Helicity kept a low profile during its early years, meticulously ensuring the project’s feasibility and garnering support from strategic partners. Co-founder Stephane Lintner, a former managing director at Goldman Sachs with a Ph.D. in applied mathematics from the California Institute of Technology, expressed gratitude for the backing received from long-term strategic partners, considering them as potential future clients.

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Peregrine Lunar Lander Set to Mark Historic Space Milestone on Christmas Eve

The upcoming launch of the Peregrine Lunar Lander on December 24 is poised to make space exploration history for several unprecedented reasons. Developed by Astrobiotic, this private spacecraft is scheduled to touch down on the Moon on January 25, 2024, assuming all goes according to plan. Notably, the Peregrine will achieve this milestone aboard the inaugural flight of the privately-owned United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan Centaur rocket, succeeding the company’s Atlas V and Delta IV vehicles.

This mission represents a significant breakthrough as the Peregrine is the first private spacecraft to attempt a lunar landing. Adding to the historic nature of the launch, it will be the initial flight of the Vulcan Centaur rocket, marking a new era in private space exploration.

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Groundbreaking Space Science Park Takes Root in Ohio State University’s Vicinity

In a pioneering move, the first-ever space science park on Earth is slated to be established north of the Ohio State University Airport. Ohio State’s Board of Trustees recently granted approval for a 40-year lease of a 10-acre parcel on West Dublin-Granville Road to Voyager Space Science Park, marking the initiation of the terrestrial space lab project.

The designated land in northwest Columbus will serve as an earthly counterpart to the George Washington Carver Space Park, an existing laboratory on the International Space Station. Voyager Space Science Park, in collaboration with Ohio State, the state of Ohio, JobsOhio, and One Columbus, secured the bid for the location of their space park, known as Starlab Ground Location-US.

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Google Cofounder’s Pathfinder 1 Airship Takes Flight Amid High Anticipation

Traffic congestion on the 101 highway in Mountain View, California, is expected to escalate in the coming days or weeks, with motorists eager to witness the inaugural flight of Google cofounder Sergey Brin’s colossal airship, Pathfinder 1. IEEE Spectrum has uncovered that LTA Research, the aerospace company established by Brin in 2015, to spearhead the development of airships for humanitarian and cargo transport, received a special airworthiness certificate for this helium-filled behemoth in early September.

This coveted certificate grants Pathfinder 1, the most substantial airship since the Hindenburg, the green light to commence flight tests at Moffett Field, a joint civil-military airport nestled in Silicon Valley. The airship is authorized to conduct test flights within the confines of Moffett Field and the adjacent Palo Alto airport’s airspace, soaring to heights of up to 460 meters (1,500 feet). This provides ample room for it to venture over the southern region of San Francisco Bay without obstructing the flight paths of planes traveling to or from San Jose and San Francisco International commercial airports.

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Unveiling Venus: The Quest to Tame Our ‘Evil Twin’ Planet

Debbie Senesky, an Associate Professor at Stanford University in the Aeronautics and Astronautics Department, believes Venus is not Earth’s sister planet but rather its malevolent twin. Venus’s environment is nothing short of hellish, with surface temperatures soaring to a blistering 480 degrees Celsius, surface pressures a staggering 90 times that of Earth, and an unpleasant scent of rotten eggs, all due to the presence of sulfur compounds.

Senesky raises a compelling question: Could studying Venus’s evolution shed light on Earth’s environmental history and aid in averting a similar fate via climate change? Billions of years ago, Venus might have resembled Earth. Understanding this transformation could offer valuable insights into preserving Earth’s habitability.

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New Zealand’s Ascent in the Space Industry Raises Questions About Its Direction

Life on New Zealand’s tranquil Mahia peninsula on the North Island was once characterized by surfing beaches, historical landmarks, and bountiful snapper fishing. However, recent developments in the global space industry have brought a new buzz to this serene corner of the world.

Four years ago, Peter Beck, the mind behind Rocketlab, set out to transform the space industry. His vision was to privatize rocket launches, effectively removing them from the exclusive domain of governments in Russia, the US, and China. In a parallel quest, Elon Musk’s SpaceX sought a similar goal.

After extensive exploration around the United States and the world, Beck eventually turned his gaze back to his homeland, New Zealand. It was here that Rocketlab’s Launch Complex 1 was established, marked by an impressive record of ten successful missions with plans for expansion underway.

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Space Manufacturing: The Next Frontier in Tech and Pharmaceuticals

While the space race’s public image has often focused on billionaire joyrides, tech giants are quietly exploring the realm of off-planet manufacturing. Startups are asking fundamental questions about producing computer components, harvesting stem cells, and manufacturing pharmaceuticals in space.

Research endeavors in this direction are already underway. NASA has granted a $2 million award to scientists investigating how zero-gravity conditions can enhance stem cell and gene therapy production. Defense company Northrop Grumman has partnered with a startup aiming to manufacture semiconductors in space. By the end of this decade, experts predict that everyday items will incorporate elements created beyond Earth’s boundaries.

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Vodafone Achieves World’s First Space-Based 5G Call Using Unmodified Smartphone

In a groundbreaking achievement, Vodafone has claimed to have completed the world’s first space-based 5G call using an unmodified smartphone. The successful call was made possible through a test satellite operated by AST SpaceMobile, marking a significant milestone in space-based connectivity.

The use of satellites to deliver services to mobile phones has been gaining traction, especially with features like Apple’s Emergency SOS for iPhones, which enables texting for help even in areas without terrestrial network coverage. However, what sets this achievement apart is the satellite’s ability to provide 4G and 5G connectivity, facilitating data services and internet voice calls.

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Stoke Space Takes First Step with Successful Upper Stage Test Flight

On a quiet airfield in Eastern Washington, Stoke Space, a small launch company, achieved a significant milestone on Sunday by conducting its maiden flight of the upper stage of its rocket. While the flight was relatively modest, with the second-stage rocket ascending only about 30 feet (9 meters) and traveling a short distance downrange before completing the journey in a mere 15 seconds, it marks a crucial step in the company’s development.

Having successfully met all technical requirements for the upper stage, Stoke Space is now shifting its focus toward the development of a more conventional first stage for its yet-to-be-named rocket. Engineers at Stoke are actively working on a full-flow, staged combustion rocket engine that will power the booster, with component testing already in progress.

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Caltech’s MAPLE Project Achieves Wireless Power Transmission in Space

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have achieved a significant milestone in space technology by successfully demonstrating wireless power transmission in space and beaming detectable energy back to Earth. This pioneering achievement was made possible through an innovative method known as Microwave Array for Power-transfer Low-orbit Experiment (MAPLE).

Advancing Space-Based Solar Power

The successful wireless transmission of energy in space represents a crucial step toward harnessing space-based solar power, offering promising prospects for sustainable energy sources.

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