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On Sunday, Feb. 8, SpaceX will make a second attempt at a historic rocket landing on a floating drone rocket landing craft.
Like almost every 1950s science fiction movie, a rocket will descend in a fiery landing buffered by flaming retro-rocket engines
A 22-story-tall Falcon 9 rocket will lift off of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida a couple of minutes after sunset, at 6:10 pm ET. And within a half hour or so after take off, the rocket will return from space and attempt to guide its way, using GPS tracking, onto a droneship in the Atlantic.
Five years ago, a landing attempt like this was unheard of. But SpaceX is changing things up and paving the way for a new era of reusable rockets. The company, founded by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, has gone to great lengths to build the foundations for a future of cheap space travel. The key to that future is reusable rockets that can carry cargo and astronauts into space multiple times instead of only once.
So far, SpaceX has never recovered a rocket for reuse. But if everything goes according to plan this Sunday and the rocket lands softly, it would be a game changer.
And with 17 potential rocket launches scheduled for 2015, there’s plenty of opportunity to get it right even if this latest attempt doesn’t work.
Elon Musk may be the Tesla of the 21st Century.
News source: Business Insider
There could be a space-time tunnel (wormhole) in our galaxy, as dramatized by the film Interstellar, that would allow us to travel to a distant location in the galaxy, and the tunnel could even be the size of our entire galaxy.
That’s what astrophysicist/dark-matter expert Paolo Salucci of the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) and colleagues suggest in a paper published in Annals of Physics (open-access arXiv version here), based on combining the map of the dark matter in the Milky Way with the most recent Big Bang model.
“What we tried to do in our study was to solve the very equation that the astrophysicist Murph [in the movie] was working on. Clearly we did it long before the film came out,” jokes Salucci. “It is, in fact, an extremely interesting problem for dark matter studies.”
The authors note in the paper that “our result is very important because it confirms the possible existence of wormholes in most of the spiral galaxies. Scientists remain silent on whether it is possible to manufacture or create of the exotic matter violating null energy condition in laboratory. As a result the construction of a wormhole geometry in our real world is extremely difficult.
“However. in the galactic halo region, dark matter* may supply the fuel for constructing and sustaining a wormhole. Hence, wormholes could be found in nature and our study may encourage scientists to seek observational evidence for wormholes in the galactic halo region.”
So can this be tested experimentally? “In principle, we could test it by comparing two galaxies — our galaxy and another very close one like, for example, the Magellanic Cloud, but we are still very far from any actual possibility of making such a comparison,” he says.
To reach their conclusions, the astrophysicists combined the equations of general relativity with an extremely detailed map of the distribution of dark matter in the Milky Way, explains Salucci. “Dark matter may be ‘another dimension,’ perhaps even a major galactic transport system. In any case, we really need to start asking ourselves what it is.”
*The concept of a dark matter galactic halo is based on observations of galaxies. As Wikipedia explains:
The presence of dark matter in the halo is inferred from its gravitational effect on a spiral galaxy’s rotation curve. Without large amounts of mass throughout the (roughly spherical) halo, the rotational velocity of the galaxy would decrease at large distances from the galactic center, just as the orbital speeds of the outer planets decrease with distance from the Sun. However, observations of spiral galaxies, particularly radio observations of line emission from neutral atomic hydrogen (known, in astronomical parlance, as HI), show that the rotation curve of most spiral galaxies flattens out, meaning that rotational velocities do not decrease with distance from the galactic center. The absence of any visible matter to account for these observations implies either that unobserved (“dark”) matter exists or that the theory of motion under gravity (General Relativity) is incorrect.
Abstract for Possible existence of wormholes in the central regions of halos
An earlier study (Rahaman, et al., 2014 and Kuhfittig, 2014) has demonstrated the possible existence of wormholes in the outer regions of the galactic halo, based on the Navarro–Frenk–White (NFW) density profile. This paper uses the Universal Rotation Curve (URC) dark matter model to obtain analogous results for the central parts of the halo. This result is an important compliment to the earlier result, thereby confirming the possible existence of wormholes in most of the spiral galaxies.
SOURCE: Kurzweil Newsletter, http://www.KurzweilAI.com
NASA and SpaceX announced the next commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station, the fifth for the U.S. company, now is set for 2:31 p.m. EST on Tuesday, Dec. 16, from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. NASA Television coverage will begin at 1:15 p.m.
The scheduled Prelaunch, Science and Technology, and Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (CATS) briefings will take place Monday, Dec. 15
On Friday, December 5, humankind took one giant leap into the world of tomorrow.
Orion flew for the first time.
Within the next 15 years, Orion will evolve and be engineered for non-orbital manned missions. The potential includes trips to the moon, asteroids, and even Mars. Places where no man, or woman, has gone before.
My passion is a to keep a high level of focus and dialogue on American Ingenuity — and innovation worldwide. Orion is much more than a symbolic moment. For Boomers, it is a nostalgic remembrance of Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo. For Gen X and Y, it is a clear call for exploration and adventure. For children, it stimulates imagination and hope for the future.
I have heard critics bark that programs, such as Orion, are incredibly bad policy for a nation struggling with so many challenges and issues. This is short-sighted and dangerously myopic. Consider these thoughts about Orion:
America’s STEAM Expertise Grows
The essential reality is people move science forward from experience — both success and failure. Our population of scientist, technicians, engineers, aeronauts, and mathematicians working on Orion will broaden America’s institutional memory and knowledge base. Delays, interruptions, and hiatus diminishes continuity and competence.
Space Stimulates Economic Growth
NASA invests billions on hardware, software, tools, technology, and people. Vendors, consultants, suppliers, and others receive and circulate these dollars throughout our economy. Families are supported, careers enhanced, and small business thrives from this massive financial engine.
American Exceptionalism is Maintained
While other nations — including China, India, Japan and others — are making great strides in astronautics, the United States has to keep ahead of the pack. Why? Technological advances spawn defense innovation critical to the security of the country. Plus, space is the “high ground” that provides strategic advantages.
American Cooperation Strengthens Peaceful Co-Existance
While things have been tentative with the US-Russian space collaborative, headway has been made with many other nations. Shared knowledge creates greater advances and improved understanding of other cultures.
Orion is much more than a singular mission.
Orion is a clear and present hope for a better future.
from the Interwebs:
Explode with attention.
Pluto may no longer be a planet, but next year it will be getting some love from NASA. On December 6th, the New Horizons probe awakens from deep sleep in order to prepare for its encounter with the dwarf planet and its moons.
Sleeping for much of its nine year journey allows New Horizons to preserve its electronics, but this is not a case of a spacecraft romantically woken from a multi-year sleep by a long distance kiss blown by Earth engineers. Instead New Horizons has had 18 shut-downs over its journey, with the longest lasting 202 days. The current one will be just 99 days when the craft restarts operations.
“New Horizons is healthy and cruising quietly through deep space – nearly three billion miles from home – but its rest is nearly over,” said Alice Bowman, mission operations manager at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. “It’s time for New Horizons to wake up, get to work, and start making history.”
As with humans, “sleep” for New Horizons does not mean a complete shut-down in activity. A flight computer keeps check on system health and sends a status update to Earth once a week. During its brief wake up cycles, instruments are calibrated, activities practiced, and even some research conducted despite its enormous distance from astronomical objects.
New Horizons will get to work on January 15th studying the Pluto/Charon system from a distance of 260 million kilometers. It reaches its closest approach on July 14th.
The faint reflections off the surface of objects so far from the sun make measurements slow, but New Horizon will investigate the geology and topography of Pluto and Charon. The interaction between these two objects is one of the things that makes Pluto a worthy target. Not only are they similar enough in mass that the point around which both rotate is outside Pluto’s radius, but each is tidally locked so that they keep the same face to each other. There is even speculation that the warmth from their tidal relationship may maintain a subsurface ocean on Pluto, something that might be revealed if the surface shows signs of tectonic activity.
Pluto’s thin atmosphere and four smaller moons will also get some attention, and it is possible that tinier objects, or even rings, will be detected.
Given its immense velocity relative to Pluto, getting New Horizons into orbit is not possible, so the craft will sail on past, conducting more research as the frozen objects fall behind.
Even after Pluto, New Horizons has miles to go before it (permanently) sleeps, with plans to adjust its trajectory—funding permitting—so it can make a close approach to another Kuiper Belt object. This may help answer the question of whether Pluto is really just a typical representative of the Kuiper Belt we happened to discover long before the others, or represents something unusual or even unique.
NASA has just announced that Boeing and SpaceX have been selected to lead the Commercial Crew Program, founded in 2010. Boeing’s CST-100 and SpaceX’s Dragon V2 will be used to launch humans into Low Earth Orbit and to the International Space Station from Cape Canaveral beginning in 2017. This will be the first human spaceflight launch on American soil since the space shuttle program retired in 2011.
Since the end of the shuttle program, American astronauts headed to the ISS have had to bum a ride from Russia at a rate of $71 million per seat. However, the desire to be in charge of their own launches has been highlighted in recent months due to strained relations with Russia over the invasion of Ukraine. The United States government put sanctions on Russia and severed most of its ties back in April, except for its dealings with the ISS. In retaliation, Russia has threatened to stop providing transportation for American astronauts.
A key difference between the space shuttle program and this new venture is that the spacecraft will be provided by privately-owned corporations, and the government will be contracting out those services. This allows for companies to compete for contracts, driving down the cost and boosting innovative designs.
reSpaceX, headed up by Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk, submitted a design called the Dragon V2.
It is a modified version of the Dragon spacecraft that SpaceX has been using to bring cargo to the ISS since 2010. A major feature of the seven-seated spacecraft is the ability for controlled landings. This means that in addition to going to the ISS, the spacecraft could be used to bring humans to the moon or other worlds. The advanced landing system also means the spacecraft can be collected and reused quickly. This cuts down on wasted materials, which subsequently reduces the expense of each launch. The Dragon V2 will launch using SpaceX’s own Falcon 9 rocket.
Boeing was the heavy favorite going into today’s announcement, with its CST-100 spacecraft.
The body design is unique as it does not include any welded junctions. This makes the vessel lighter, more structurally sound, and easier to produce. Each vessel, which seats seven, can be used 10 times. Upon returning to Earth, the spacecraft will land using parachutes and airbags. Additionally, struts within the seat will provide added cushioning, reducing the stress of impact on the astronauts. The CST-100 will launch using an Atlas V rocket, produced by United Launch Alliance. ULA is a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
NASA has been using private companies to bring cargo to the ISS over the last few years. The ability to contract human transportation to and from the ISS frees NASA up to focus on human ventures deeper into space (such as Mars). NASA’s Space Launch System will launch an unmanned Orion spacecraft in 2017, with the goal of the first manned mission in 2021.
NASA has issued a Request for Information (RFI) to science and engineering communities for ideas for a mission to Europa that could address fundamental questions of the enigmatic moon and the search for life beyond Earth.
The RFI’s focus is for concepts for a mission to Europa that costs less than $1 billion, excluding the launch vehicle that can meet as many of the science priorities as possible recommended by the National Research Council’s 2011 Planetary Science Decadal Survey for the study of Europa.
“This is an opportunity to hear from those creative teams that have ideas on how we can achieve the most science at minimum cost,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for the NASA Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s headquarters inWashington. “Europa is one of the most interesting sites in our solar system in the search for life beyond Earth. The drive to explore Europa has stimulated not only scientific interest but also the ingenuity of engineers and scientists with innovative concepts.” Continue reading