Showing posts with label Space. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Space. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

NASA releases new details on next SLS rockets

NASA is fine-tuning its design for the new Space Launch System (SLS) that will send astronauts to the moon, asteroids and possibly Mars. Basically there will be three main types of rocket, the Block 1, Block 1A and Block 2. Block 1A and Block 2 will both have a crewed and a cargo variant, so that's a total of 5 models. The most important difference with what was announced last September is that the main core stage will now have four or five RS-25D/E Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSME) instead of three.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Cité de l'Espace

Ariane 5 rocket

During my last visit to France, I visited the Cité de l'Espace in Toulouse, space capital of Europe. The Cité de l'Espace (City of Space) is the european equivalent of the Kenedy Space Center's visitor complex. In addition to numerous interactive exhibits revolving around space exploration, they have a bunch of real space hardware on display, including a Soyuz spaceship and a mockup of the Russian Mir space station that was once used to train astronauts.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Chinese complete their first space docking manoeuvre

After successfully sending their first man in space in 2003 with Shenzhou-5, and executing their first EVA (Extra-Vehicular Activity) in 2008 with Shenzhou-7, this week the unmanned Chinese spacecraft Shenzhou-8 successfully docked with the TianGong-1 space module, a first for the Chinese Space Program.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

NASA's Next Manned Mission to an Asteroid

Now that the Space Launch System program is officially on its tracks, lets take a look at what NASA plans to do with the giant rocket. After the first couple of test flights (including a manned fly-by around the moon somewhere between 2017 and 2021), the first big objective is to send 4 astronauts to a 6 month trip to a Near Earth Object (NEO). The mission would be called 'Plymouth Rock'.

Friday, September 16, 2011

NASA Officially Announces the Space Launch System

Last Wednesday NASA officials publicly unveiled the Space Launch System, the new heavy lift rocket that will send astronauts beyond earth orbit, to asteroids, the moon and possibly some day to Mars. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the design has been known for a few months now, but for various political reasons, the project hadn't been officially announced yet.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Kepler telescope finds planet Tatooine!

NASA engineers operating the Kepler Space telescope have announced this morning that they have discovered the first planet to orbit a twin-star system. The planet is a gas giant about the size of Jupiter, and its temperature is about -70 C, so it's not really habitable. What is important about this discovery is that it proves that planets can be formed on binary star systems. Before today, it had been speculated but never proven.

The newly discovered planet is officially designated as Kepler 16b, but NASA officials have proposed that it should be named Tatooine, after the twin-sun planet in Star-Wars, barring any licensing issues with Lucasfilm...

The Kepler 16 star system is about 200 light-years from earth.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Endeavour's Last Flight

The Space Shuttle Endeavour launched for the last time this morning at 8:56am EDT, carrying 6 astronauts and the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS), as well as the new STORRM navigation and docking system to the International Space Station. This is the second-to-last flight of the Space Shuttle fleet, the last flight will be Atlantis' STS-135 mission, scheduled for July 12, 2011.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Skylon Spaceplane

British Aerospace company Reaction Engines Ltd is working on a design for a Single Stage To Orbit (SSTO) Spaceplane called Skylon that will take off and land horizontally from a runway, just like a normal plane. This concept has been studied several times already in the past, with projects such as the U.S.'s National Aerospace Plane (see my previous post) or the British HOTOL, but all encountered technological problems that they could not solve. 

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Saga of NASA's Heavy Lift Launcher

Last week, after years of studies and negotiations, NASA finally released a preliminary design for the new rocket that will replace the space shuttle. The new rocket will be a Shuttle-Derived Heavy Lift Vehicle, meaning that it will make maximum use of existing Space Shuttle components. Basically they will keep the Space Shuttle External tank and two Solid Rocket Boosters unchanged, remove the space shuttle, take the shuttle's three main engines and put them and the bottom of the External Tank, and put the cargo on top of the External Tank. This design is pretty much the solution proposed by the DIRECT team last year, called the Jupiter launch vehicle.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Captain Kirk doesn't trust the VSS Enterprise

Virgin Galactic is proceeding with tests of its first SpaceShipTwo sub-orbital spacecraft, the VSS Enterprise, that will carry private, paying passengers on a short, 6 minutes flight to space. On October 10, 2010, it successfully completed its first glide flight dropped from the WhiteNightTwo mother ship, and company officials say that they are on schedule to start commercial operations in 2011.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Farewell, Discovery

The Space Shuttle Discovery will be launching for the last time on February 24th at 1:50pm PST. Mission STS-133 will be the 39th flight of the 27 year-old spacecraft, and will be bringing the Permanent Multipurpose Module Leonardo to the International Space Station, as well as the Robonaut 2 robotic astronaut helper.

With only two more Space Shuttle flights scheduled (Endeavour in April and Atlantis in June), this represents the end of an era of ambitious human space exploration, as after that the US will be left with no means of sending astronauts into space and will rely on Russian Soyuz spacecraft to reach the ISS.

With the cancellation of the Constellation moon program in October 2010, the only serious prospect for US manned space flights is the privately funded and operated Dragon capsule from SpaceX, which, although a remarkable achievement for a private company, is a return to 1970's designs, and is nowhere as advanced and capable as the Space Shuttle. And Dragon will not be operational before 2013 at the earliest.

Watch the historic flight live in HD on ustream TV.

Update: For those who missed it, here is the video of the launch.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Apollo 18 movie: Cloverfield meets the Space Program

We finally have a trailer for the upcoming movie 'Apollo 18', a horror science fiction movie about a hypothetical 18th Apollo moon landing. As most of you know, in real life the last Apollo mission was Apollo17th. The premise of the movie is that an 18th mission actually took place, but it was kept a total secret. The movie shows raw footage from portable cameras brought aboard by the crew, just like in the movie Cloverfield.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Ares I Resurrected! Give me Liberty

ATK, the makers of the Space Shuttle's Solid Rocket Boosters is joining force with European aerospace company Astrium/EADS, the makers of the Ariane 5 rocket, to propose a new rocket to launch US astronauts into space after the Space Shuttle retires later this year. The new Liberty rocket would be operational in 2015.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Gliese 581g, Mono Lake and the Drake Equation

In September 2010, scientists discovered a new extrasolor planet, Gliese 581g, that is to date the planet the most similar to earth that we found. It is in the Gliese 581 star system, only 20 Light-years from us, and orbits its sun at the right distance to have liquid water, so it is not too warm and not too cold. It has a gravity similar to earth (between 1.1 and 1.7 G) strong enough to maintain a thick atmosphere.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Cats in Space!

Oh, this is hilarious. This is part of a series of experiments made by the US Air Force to study the effects of Zero G on humans and animals. 

Now I'm gonna dream of Molly and Delilah fighting in zero G... Thanks for the clip.

Monday, January 10, 2011

New Giant Planet in our solar system?

Scientists analyzing the trajectory of comets coming from the far reaches of our solar system have come to the conclusion that those comets have probably been hurled towards us by the gravitational pull of a giant planet four times the size of Jupiter (!!) orbiting our sun in the Oort Cloud, some 2,800 Billion miles away.

The WISE space telescope, launched last year, will soon be able to confirm (or infer) the presence of that new planet, named Tyche.

Four times the size of Jupiter! Now if that isn't the 9th planet, what is??...
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