Tag: Mars

Readers on Lynx: It’s Dead, Jim

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Lynx_suspended_pollParabolic Arc readers are not real optimistic about the future of the Lynx, the suborbital space plane that XCOR suspended work on recently when it laid off most of the staff working on it.

Sixty-nine percent of voters believe that Lynx is as dead as a door nail despite XCOR’s pledge to revive work on the program at a future date. Only 13 percent of voters believe Lynx will fly at some point in the future.

The remaining 18 percent of voters just didn’t care, viewing suborbital space travel as being about a dozen years past its prime.

We’ve got a new poll up on the site asking whether you would like to go to Mars on one of the human missions Elon Musk is planning to launch beginning in 2024.

As I’ve said before: vote early, vote often. Just vote, dammit! Vote! And remember, no wagering.

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Name a Crater on Mars After Dad for Father’s Day

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uwingu_fathers_day_crater

Today through June 16th, Uwingu is offering to give the first 100,000 people who sign up for our free, monthly newsletter, a completely free gift certificate to name a crater on our public engagement Mars map in honor of a dad.

Sign Up Here

Uwingu’s Mars Map will be carried to Mars aboard both the first Mars One robotic lander and also on the Time Capsule to Mars Project. Every crater named for a dad before Father’s Day on June 19th comes with a commemorative Father’s Day 2016 naming certificate emailed to the buyer. Join our newsletter HERE so you get the free gift code!

Said Uwingu’s founder and CEO, planetary scientist Dr. Alan Stern, “Never before has anything like this been done to honor dads on Father’s Day. Just join our newsletter list by June 16th and give dad something he will never forget, something truly novel, and out of this world. We look forward to smashing all records for the number of named craters on any Mars map through this Father’s Day offer, and we hope you’ll take part for the dad in your life!!”

NSRC Day 3 Summary

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Test flights will eventually take place on Masten Space Systems' Xaero vehicle. (Credit: Masten Space Systems)

Test flights will eventually take place on Masten Space Systems’ Xaero vehicle. (Credit: Masten Space Systems)

The Next Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference finished up today in Colorado. There were provider presentations from Masten Space Systems and Virgin Galactic. Three researchers also presented results from suborbital microgravity flights.

Below are summaries of the sessions based on Tweets.
Continue reading ‘NSRC Day 3 Summary’

A Summary of NSRC Day 1

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Precise thrust vector control and deep throttling enable pinpoint booster landing. (Credit: Blue Origin)

Precise thrust vector control and deep throttling enable pinpoint booster landing. (Credit: Blue Origin)

The three-day Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference began today in Colorado. Although I wasn’t able to attend, I have compiled highlights of a very newsworthy day via Twitter posts. (You can follow along with hashtag #nsrc2016.)

Below is a summary of news and updates provided by Blue Origin, Masten Space Systems, World View Enterprises, Exos Aerospace, Virgin Galactic, Near Space Corporation, and NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program.

Continue reading ‘A Summary of NSRC Day 1’

Video of Full Elon Musk Interview at Code Conference

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Video Caption: SpaceX CEO Elon Musk talks with Recode’s Kara Swisher and The Verge’s Walt Mossberg about his plans to send a one-way rocket to Mars in 2018. He estimates colonists could start arriving on the Red Planet by 2025. Musk also talks about the proliferation of electric vehicle initiatives that compete with his other company, Tesla, and why autonomous cars will become the norm. He says he doesn’t see Google as a competitor, but that “Apple will be more direct.” Plus: Why Musk wants more people to have access to the power of artificial intelligence.

Editor’s Note: Musk said he hopes to launch one of its recovered first stages within 2 to 3 months. He re-iterated his hope to launch the Falcon Heavy by the end of the year.

On Mars, Musk said SpaceX plans to send flights to Mars every 26 months beginning with the 2018 launch window. If everything goes according to plan, the first crew would be launched in 2024 and arrive the following year. He also talked about creating a way to get people to Mars in 3 months with the goal of reducing transit times to 1 month.

Musk said he thought direct democracy — people voting on laws — would be best for Mars. He feels it would be less corrupt than representative democracy. However, he felt it should be easier to repeal existing laws than to make new ones.

Musk plans to unveil his full plan for colonizing the Red Planet at a conference in Mexico in September.

Lockheed Martin Lays Out Deep Space Exploration Plans

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Humanity Becomes an Interplanetary Species: Artist’s rendition of the Mars Base Camp architecture in Martian orbit. By leveraging developed technologies and the taxpayers’ investment in SLS and Orion, Lockheed Martin believes a human science Mission to Mars is feasible by 2028. (Credit: Lockheed Martin)

Artist’s rendition of the Mars Base Camp architecture in Martian orbit. By leveraging developed technologies and the taxpayers’ investment in SLS and Orion, Lockheed Martin believes a human science Mission to Mars is feasible by 2028. (Credit: Lockheed Martin)

At a House Space Subcommittee meeting on Capitol Hill last week, several companies laid out plans for deep space exploration. Lockheed Martin Vice President Wanda A. Sigur discussed the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle the company is building for NASA, proposed cis-lunar space operations, and a Mars base camp orbiting the Red Planet.

Lockheed Martin of a number of companies working with NASA under the Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) program, which is a private-public partnership that focuses on advance concept studies and technology development projects for deep space exploration.

Relevant excerpt’s from Sigur’s prepared testimony follow.

Continue reading ‘Lockheed Martin Lays Out Deep Space Exploration Plans’

NIAC Focus: Cryogenic Selective Surfaces

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Visible light scattered by the Solar White Coating. (Credit: R. Youngquist)

Visible light scattered by the Solar White Coating. (Credit: R. Youngquist)

Cryogenic Selective Surfaces
NASA Innovative Advance Concepts Phase II Award

Robert Youngquist
NASA Kennedy Space Center

During our Phase 1 NIAC study we discovered a novel coating we call “Solar White” that, when used in deep space, is predicted to reflect more than 99.9% of the sun’s energy. We have shown analytically that a sphere covered with a 10 mm thick coating of Solar White and located far from the Earth and at 1 Astronomical Unit from the Sun can achieve a steady state temperature below 50 K, the freezing point of oxygen.

Continue reading ‘NIAC Focus: Cryogenic Selective Surfaces’

NIAC Focus: Human Stasis to Mars

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SpaceWorks’ Vision System Torpor Habitat design. (Credit: J. Bradford)

SpaceWorks’ Vision System Torpor Habitat design. (Credit: J. Bradford)

Advancing Torpor Inducing Transfer Habitats for Human Stasis to Mars
NASA Advanced Innovative Concept Phase II Award

John Bradford
Spaceworks Engineering, Inc.

SpaceWorks proposes the development of an advanced habitat system for transporting crews between the Earth and Mars. This new and innovative habitat design is capable of cycling the crew through inactive, non-cryonic torpor sleep states for the duration of the in-space mission segments.

Under this effort, SpaceWorks will

(i) Expand the Phase I medical team to address key challenges identified in the initial effort,

(ii) Examine key habitat engineering aspects to further explore and refine design and identify further potential performance gains,

(iii) initiate validation studies with leading medical researchers to understand the effects of prolonged hypothermia, and

(iv) Consider the technology’s impact on alternate exploration missions (Mars moons, asteroid belt, Jovian and Saturn system, etc.).

NIAC Focus: Magnetoshells for Human & Robotic Exploration

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Top- Artist rendering of Magnetoshell Aerocapture concept. Bottom Left - RF injector operating on Argon. Bottom Right - Magnetoshell operating with internal gas feed and intercepting an accelerated neutral and plasma jet. (Credit: D. Kirtley)

Top- Artist rendering of Magnetoshell Aerocapture concept. Bottom Left – RF injector operating on Argon. Bottom Right – Magnetoshell operating with internal gas feed and intercepting an accelerated neutral and plasma jet. (Credit: D. Kirtley)

Magnetoshell Aerocapture for Manned Missions and Planetary Deep Space Orbiters
NASA Innovative Advance Concepts Phase II Award

David Kirtley
MSNW, LLC

It is clear from past mission studies that a manned Mars mission, as well as deep space planetary orbiters will require aerobraking and aerocapture which use aerodynamic drag forces to slow the spacecraft. Aerocapture would enable long term studies of the outer planets and their moons that would not be possible with existing braking technologies. While utilizing planetary atmospheres to slow down and capture spacecraft would dramatically reduce the cost, launch mass, and travel time, current technologies require significant additional spacecraft mass and risk, as the spacecraft must descend deep into a planetary atmosphere that is not well characterized in order to produce significant drag on a relatively small, fixed dimension aeroshell or temperature and structurally sensitive inflatable ballute.

Continue reading ‘NIAC Focus: Magnetoshells for Human & Robotic Exploration’

NASA’s Cost for SpaceX Dragon Mission to Mars: $30 Million

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Red Dragon landing on Mars (Credit: SpaceX)

Red Dragon landing on Mars (Credit: SpaceX)

Aviation Week report’s on NASA’s contribution to SpaceX’s plan to land a Dragon spacecraft on Mars:

NASA expects to spend “on the order of $30 million” helping SpaceX send a modified Dragon vehicle to the surface of Mars in the 2018 planetary launch window, but the entry, descent and landing (EDL) data alone it may obtain in return would be a bargain at 10 times the price.

Officials believe an amendment to NASA’s unfunded Space Act Agreement (SAA) with the ambitious spaceflight company could someday help the agency land heavy payloads on Mars using supersonic retropropulsion. NASA already is using infrared photography to study the technique on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 first-stage landings.

Expanding that work to Mars with onboard cameras, sensors—and perhaps even imagery collected from below by one of the two NASA rovers operating on the planet—would be extremely useful to engineers at the space agency who are trying to figure out how to land 20-ton payloads there.

“If we had a complete stand-alone technology demonstration mission, it would be an order of magnitude larger than this [in cost],” says Phil McAlister, director of commercial spaceflight development at NASA headquarters.

Read the full story.

NASA Selects ISRU Projects for SBIR Awards

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NASA LOGONASA has selected eight research projects focused on in-situ resource utilization for funding under its Small Business Innovation Research Phase I program.

The selected projects include:

  • Extraterrestrial Metals Processing — Pioneer Astronautics
  • Robotic ISRU Construction of Planetary Landing and Launch Pad — Honeybee Robotics
  • Extruded Clay-Based Regoliths for Construction on Mars, Phobos and NEAs — Deep Space Industries
  • In-Situ Generation of Polymer Concrete Construction Materials — Luna Innovations
  • ISP3: In-Situ Printing Plastic Production System for Space Additive Manufacturing — Altius Space Machines
  • Compact In-Situ Polyethylene Production from Carbon Dioxide — Opus 12
  • Micro-Channel Reactor for Processing Carbon Dioxide to Ethylene — Reactive Innovations
  • OpenSWIFT-SDR for STRS Polyethylene Production from In-Situ Resources in Microchannel Reactors — TDA Research

Full descriptions of the projects are below.

Continue reading ‘NASA Selects ISRU Projects for SBIR Awards’

ESA Delays Second Part of ExoMars Mission to 2020

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Prototype ExoMars rover. (Credit: Airbus Defence and Space)

Prototype ExoMars rover. (Credit: Airbus Defence and Space)

PARIS (ESA PR) — On 14 March 2016, the Roscosmos State Corporation and the European Space Agency (ESA) launched the jointly-developed ExoMars 2016 interplanetary mission, comprising the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and the Schiaparelli lander, on a Proton rocket from Baikonur, thus marking the first phase in the European-Russian ExoMars cooperation programme. The success achieved by Russian and European experts involved in ExoMars 2016 is the result of long and fruitful cooperation. The ExoMars 2016 spacecraft are due to arrive at Mars in October 2016.

Continue reading ‘ESA Delays Second Part of ExoMars Mission to 2020’

NASA Selects Honeybee Robotics for 2 STTR & 5 SBIR Awards

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honeybee_roboticsNASA has selected Honeybee Robotics for two Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) and five Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Phase I awards.

The selected proposals include:

  • STTR: Robotic ISRU Construction of Planetary Landing and Launch Pad (Partnered with Michigan Technological University)
  • STTR: In-Situ Spectroscopic Europa Explorer (Partnered with SETI Institute Carl Sagan Center)
  • SBIR: The Stinger: A Geotechnical Sensing Package for Robotic Scouting on a Small Planetary Rover
  • SBIR: Planetary Vacuum Cleaner for Venus and Mars
  • SBIR: Dust-Tolerant, High Pressure Oxygen Quick Disconnect for Advanced Spacesuit and Airlock Applications
  • SBIR: Strut Attachment System for In-Space Robotic Assembly
  • SBIR: High Temperature Joint Actuator

Descriptions of the research projects follow.
Continue reading ‘NASA Selects Honeybee Robotics for 2 STTR & 5 SBIR Awards’

Masten Selected for SBIR Contract for Mars LOX/Methane Ascent Engine

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The ADAPT test system can help a spacecraft divert its course and make a smooth, pinpoint landing. The system is built on Masten's XA-0.1B "Xombie" vertical-launch, vertical-landing reusable rocket. (Credit: NASA Photo/Tom Tschida)

The ADAPT test system can help a spacecraft divert its course and make a smooth, pinpoint landing. The system is built on Masten’s XA-0.1B “Xombie” vertical-launch, vertical-landing reusable rocket. (Credit: NASA Photo/Tom Tschida)be

NASA has selected Masten Space Systems for a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I award to begin work on a25 klb thrust liquid oxygen/methane Mars ascent engine.

“Woohoo! We get to build a 25klb thrust LOX/CH4 engine for !” founder Dave Masten wrote on Twitter. “Or at least selected for a Phase I SBIR.”

Continue reading ‘Masten Selected for SBIR Contract for Mars LOX/Methane Ascent Engine’

China Aims to Land Rover on Mars

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Mars_Soil
China plans to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party in 2021 by sending an orbiter and rover to Mars, officials said last week.

“Such a big plan to achieve orbiting, landing and the deployment of a rover in one mission will make history,” said Zhang Rongqiao, chief designer of the mission. “Only by completing this Mars probe mission can China say it has embarked on the exploration of deep space in the true sense.”

The China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) is developing the orbiter and rover, which will be launched by the Long March-5 rocket. The new booster will make its inaugural flight later this year.

It will be China’s second attempt to send a mission to Mars. The Chinese Yinghuo-1 orbiter was a sub-satellite aboard Russia’s Phobos-Grunt mission launched in November 2011. However, the mission never left Earth orbit due to a rocket engine failure.

Officials said pressure mounted on China to launch a Mars mission after rival India successfully placed a spacecraft in orbit around the Red Planet in 2014.

Sources

China Unveils Ambitious Plans to Explore the Universe: http://english.cri.cn/12394/2016/04/25/2702s925438.htm

China Headlines: China hopes to reach Mars in 2021: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2016-04/22/c_135304596.htm

The sky is not the limit: China’s Mars plan: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2016-04/22/c_135304660.htm