Could we get to Mars in 39 DAYS?


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Nasa has selected a variety of companies to work on projects to create advanced space technologies, including a faster method of propulsion known as Vasimr (illustrated), which could apparently get to Mars in a matter of weeks, not months

  • Company in Texas has been asked to develop its revolutionary engine
  • Ad Astra’s Vasimr engine could apparently get to Mars in 39 days
  • It is one of 12 advanced technology projects to be funded by Nasa
  • Others include new types of habitation and small deep space satellites

Nasa has selected a variety of companies to work on projects to create advanced space technologies, including faster methods of propulsion.

Other projects to be worked on include improved habitats for humans, and small satellites to explore deep space.

And one of the companies in the 12 Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextStep) says they have an engine that could get humans to Mars in just 39 days.

The Vasimr engine – which uses plasma as a propellant – is being developed by the Ad Astra Rocket company in Texas.

Their engine shot to fame a few years ago when it was revealed that it could drastically reduce the journey time to Mars from months to weeks – although it may require a nuclear power source.

And following the successful test of a prototype in 2013, it seems Nasa is now considering it for use on a future mission to Mars.

If NASA successfully implements this engine then it will truly revolutionize whole Space Frontier. Imagine how easy it will become to explore near earth objects. Moreover, It will help to colonize mars in much faster rate.

Source : Dailymail

Isro gets closer to manned mission, tests crew module


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ISRO’s GSLV Mark III (Click Image to Download)

This rocket didn’t put a satellite in orbit. In fact, its payload plunged into the Bay of Bengal 20 minutes after the vehicle lifted off from Sriharikota. And that made it a success, for it was the first step to India’s manned space mission.

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) achieved success of a different kind on Thursday when its GSLV Mark III on a suborbital experimental flight carried an unmanned crew module which was ejected at a height of 126km. Re-entering the atmosphere, its parachutes ensured a soft-thud on the sea. Recovered by the Indian Coast Guard, the Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment (CARE) will undergo tests to ascertain its efficiency in bringing back future astronauts from India.

“Everything went as per plan,” said ISRO chairman K Radhakrishnan. “After a decade of developing the GSLV Mk II, we have tasted the first success of an experimental flight. The performances of the solid and liquid stages were as expected. The unmanned crew module worked extremely well.”

Source : Times of india

Hayabusa 2 launches on audacious asteroid adventure


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Japan’s Hayabusa 2 asteroid mission blasts off from Tanegashima Space Center aboard an H-2A rocket. Credit: JAXA

A Japanese H-2A launcher blasted off from an idyllic island spaceport Tuesday, dispatching a daring six-year expedition to bring a piece of an asteroid back to Earth.

The Hayabusa 2 mission’s roundtrip voyage began at 0422 GMT Wednesday (11:22 p.m. EST Tuesday) with a thunderous ascent from Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan.

The 1,300-pound spacecraft rode a hydrogen-fueled H-2A rocket through clouds hanging over the seaside spaceport, leaving a twisting column of exhaust in its wake before disappearing hundreds of miles over the Pacific Ocean.

The rocket’s upper stage engine fired two times to accelerate Hayabusa 2 on a speedy departure fast enough to break free of the pull of Earth’s gravity.

The robotic explorer, packed with four stowaway landers to be deployed to the asteroid’s surface, separated from the H-2A rocket at 0609 GMT (1:09 a.m. EST). Applause could be heard in a live webcast of the launch provided by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, which manages the Hayabusa 2 mission.

The launch marked the opening chapter in the most ambitious mission to an asteroid ever attempted. The roundtrip journey will take six years to complete, and Hayabusa 2 promises to expand scientists’ understanding of how asteroids may have seeded Earth with water and organic molecules, the building blocks of life.

Hayabusa 2 is heading for asteroid 1999 JU3, a carbon-rich world just 900 meters — about 3,000 feet — across with a tenuous gravity field 60,000 times weaker than Earth’s.

The mission follows up on the achievements of Japan’s Hayabusa 1 probe, which made the first roundtrip flight to an asteroid from 2003 to 2010. The first Hayabusa mission encountered several crippling problems, including a fuel leak, failures in its pointing system, and a glitch with the craft’s sample collection system.

Despite the challenges, the spacecraft returned to Earth in 2010 — a few years late and carrying a fraction of the asteroid specimens intended. But Japanese scientists found microscopic samples from asteroid Itokawa — Hayabusa 1’s research subject — inside the probe’s landing vehicle.

The success vaulted Japan into the big leagues of solar system exploration.

“Many scientific milestones have been achieved from asteroid observations and samples from the asteroid Itokawa,” said Tetsuo Tanaka, associate director general of JAXA’s Lunar and Planetary Exploration Program Group. “Going to a far-off asteroid and returning with samples from it for the first time, these are tremendous technological challenges and our success in meeting them has brought worldwide admiration.”

“For the Hayabusa 2 project, Japan’s development of its own deep space exploration technology aims to lead the world in that technical field,” Tanaka said. “The Hayabusa 2 project sets new challenges for Japan’s unique technologies. How we face those challenges and how we use (the) project results will surely bring new impacts to the world.”

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Artist’s concept of the Hayabusa 2 spacecraft at asteroid 1999 JU3. Credit: JAXA

Continue reading Hayabusa 2 launches on audacious asteroid adventure

Cool NASA Animation Beautifully Details Every Step of Orion’s First Launch!


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Source : universetoday.com

Video Caption: Animation details NASA’s Orion Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1) mission launching on Dec. 4. 2014. Credit: NASA

It’s not Science Fiction! It’s Not Star Trek!

No. It’s a really, really big NASA Mission! It’s Orion!

In fact, it’s the biggest and most important development in US Human Spaceflight since the end of the Space Shuttle Program in 2011.

Orion is launching soon on its first flight, the pathfinding Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1) mission and sets NASA on the path to send humans to Mars in the 2030s.

Watch this cool NASA animation beautifully detailing every key step of Orion’s First Launch!

Orion is designed to take humans farther than they’ve ever gone before. Even farther into deep space than NASA’s Apollo moon landing which ended more than four decades ago!

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Orion atop Delta 4 Heavy Booster. Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett (Click Image to Download)

We are T-MINUS 4 Days and Counting to the inaugural blastoff of Orion as of today, Sunday, November 30, 2014.

Every aspect of the final processing steps now in progress by engineers and technicians from NASA, rocket provider United Launch Alliance, and Orion prime contractor Lockheed Martin is proceeding smoothly and marching towards launch.

Orion will lift off on a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket on its inaugural test flight to space on the uncrewed Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1) mission at 7:05 a.m. EST on December 4, 2014, from Space Launch Complex 37 (SLC-37) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The two-orbit, four and a half hour Orion EFT-1 flight around Earth will lift the Orion spacecraft and its attached second stage to an orbital altitude of 3,600 miles, about 15 times higher than the International Space Station (ISS) – and farther than any human spacecraft has journeyed in 40 years.

Orion is NASA’s next generation human rated vehicle that will carry America’s astronauts beyond Earth on voyages venturing farther into deep space than ever before – beyond the Moon to Asteroids, Mars, and other destinations in our Solar System.

Virgin Galactic space rocket crash: Richard Branson’s dream of space tourism suffers setback after Mojave crash kills test pilot


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Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo went down Friday afternoon, killing at least one while highlighting safety concerns that Richard Branson said could kill the space tourism industry.

Investors see private space travel as the market of the future. According to the Space Angels Network, an organization created to connect investors with entrepreneurs in the private space travel business, in 2012 the global space economy was valued at over $300 billion. The network says it is expected to grow to $600 billion by 2030.

On Tuesday, an unmanned rocket manufactured by Orbital Sciences, a Virginia company NASA has contracted to resupply the space station, exploded during its launch from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. This engine used in the flight, the Antares 130, is powered by old Soviet engines.

For years, Richard Branson, who owns a part of Virgin Galactic, has touted the bright future of space tourism. In February, he said that he and his children would be on the first space tourism flight.

Everybody who signs up knows this is the birth of a new space program and understands the risks that go with that,” Branson said in an interview for Weekend magazine. “But every person wants to go on the first flight.”

He even alluded to the fact that accidents could kill the industry. Right now, tickets to space cost a minimum $250,000 each.

“Space is hard, and today was a tough day,” said George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic, at a press conference. “We believe we owe to the folks who were flying these vehicles to understand this and to move forward, which is what we’ll do.”

Source : The Independent

JAXA shows off second-generation asteroid explorer ‘Hayabusa 2’


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Japan’s space agency showed off a space probe to be launched next month that it hopes will answer questions about how life seeded Earth.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) intends to land Hayabusa 2 on an asteroid orbiting between Earth and Mars. It is set to be launched by an H-2A rocket from the Tanegashima Space Center here on Nov. 30.

Its predecessor, launched in 2003, returned to Earth after a seven-year mission, during which it landed on an asteroid and collected sample material, an unprecedented achievement.

JAXA showed off the near complete body of its second-generation asteroid explorer to reporters on Oct. 27.

Hayabusa 2 will embark on a six-year journey to collect samples from an asteroid called 1999 JU3. Scientists expect the mission to shed light on the origins of the solar system and life on Earth.

The spherical asteroid is about 900 meters diameter and is thought to contain organic compounds and water, the key to life. It was first observed in 1999.

Hayabusa 2 arrived at Tanegashima island, south of Kagoshima, on Sept. 22. The capsule, impactor and other parts were then assembled.

A JAXA official said Hayabusa 2 will be attached to the rocket after fueling operations are complete and the exterior of the explorer has been inspected for flaws.

Hayabusa 2 is slated to reach the asteroid between June and July in 2018, and spend 18 months on the celestial body before returning to Earth between November and December in 2020.

The explorer will release the impactor to smash a crater and collect mineral samples that have not been exposed to and affected by the heat of the sun.

Russian Cargo Ship Lifts Off For Space Station


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An unmanned Russian cargo ship successfully lifted off for the International Space Station (ISS) on October 29.

The Progress 57 craft was launched atop a Soyuz rocket at 8:09 a.m. Prague time from the Russian-leased Baikonur facility in Kazakhstan.

“Everything looks good on the Soyuz booster and the Progress resupply ship,” an announcer on the U.S. space agency’s NASA TV said.

The launch came nine hours after a privately operated rocket exploded seconds after liftoff in the United States, causing the loss of cargo ship that was also bound for the ISS.

The explosion of the Antares was the first such accident since NASA turned to private operators to deliver cargo to the station, breaking a Russian monopoly that followed the retirement of the U.S. space shuttle fleet in 2011.

The Progress is delivering nearly three metric tons of propellant, oxygen, water, and other supplies to the station.

EXPLOSION OF NASA’S UNMANNED ROCKET ANTARES


NASA rocket explodes

An unmanned Antares rocket exploded seconds after liftoff from a commercial launch pad in Virginia on Tuesday, marking the first accident since NASA turned to private operators to deliver cargo to the International Space Station, but officials said no one was hurt.

The 14-story rocket, built and launched by Orbital Sciences Corp, blasted off its seaside launch pad at the Wallops Flight Facility at 6:22 p.m. EDT carrying a Cygnus cargo ship for the space station. It exploded in a huge fireball moments later.

Orbital Sciences stock was down 12.74 percent after hours, or down $3.87 at $26.50.

The cause of the accident was not immediately known, said NASA mission commentator Dan Huot.

Huot said there were no reports of any personnel in the vicinity of the explosion. An Accomack County Sheriff’s spokeswoman added, “As far as we know, all personnel are accounted for and everyone’s OK.”

Orbital Sciences said in a statement: “We’ve confirmed that all personnel have been accounted for. We have no injuries in the operation today.”

NASA launch control said damage appeared to be limited to the launch facility and rocket. The Antares rocket has been launched successfully on four previous missions.

“This has been a lot of hard work to get to this point,” Orbital Sciences Executive Vice President Frank Culbertson told the launch team just before liftoff.

Launch had been delayed one day after a boat sailed into a restricted safety zone beneath the rocket’s intended flight path.

Virginia-based Orbital Sciences is one of two companies hired by NASA to fly cargo to the station after the space shuttles were retired. Tuesday’s planned flight was to be the third of eight under the company’s $1.9 billion contract with NASA.

The second U.S. supply line to the station is run by privately owned Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, which is preparing for its fourth flight under a separate $1.6 billion NASA contract.

Outfitted with a new, more powerful upper-stage engine, the Antares rocket launched on Tuesday carried a Cygnus spacecraft packed with 5,055 pounds (2,293 kg) of supplies, science experiments and equipment, a 15 percent increase over previous missions.

Cygnus was to loiter in orbit until Nov. 2, then fly itself to the station so astronauts can use a robotic crane to snare the capsule and attach it to a berthing port. The station, a $100 billion research laboratory owned and operated by 15 nations, flies about 260 miles (418 km) above Earth.

In addition to food, supplies and equipment, the Cygnus spacecraft was loaded with more than 1,600 pounds (725 kg) of science experiments, including an investigation to chemically analyze meteors as they burn up in Earth’s atmosphere.

The Cygnus also carried a prototype satellite owned by Redmond, Washington-based startup Planetary Resources Inc., which is developing technology to mine asteroids. The satellite, designated A3, was to be released into space by a commercially owned small spacecraft launcher aboard the station.

Source : Reuters