Tag: Mars

UAE to Create Space Agency, Send Spacecraft to Mars in 2021

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UAE_Coat_of_ArmsThe United Arab Emirates plans to establish a space agency and to launch for the first Arab spacecraft to Mars by 2021 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the nation’s founding.

“The UAE Mars probe represents the Islamic world’s entry into the era of space exploration,” said President Sheikh Khalifa, according to state news agency WAM.

“We will prove that we are capable of delivering new scientific contributions to humanity.

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NASA Declares First LDSD Test Success

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Hours after the June 28, 2014, test of NASA's Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator over the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range, the saucer-shaped test vehicle is lifted aboard the Kahana recovery vessel. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Hours after the June 28, 2014, test of NASA’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator over the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range, the saucer-shaped test vehicle is lifted aboard the Kahana recovery vessel. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA representatives participated in a media teleconference this morning to discuss the June 28, 2014 near-space test flight of the agency’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD), which occurred off the coast of the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii.

A high-altitude balloon launch occurred at 8:45 a.m. HST (11:45 a.m. PDT/2:45 p.m. EDT) from the Hawaiian island facility. At 11:05 a.m. HST (2:05 p.m. PDT/5:05 p.m. EDT), the LDSD test vehicle dropped away from the balloon as planned and began powered flight. The balloon and test vehicle were about 120,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean at the time of the drop. The vehicle splashed down in the ocean at approximately 11:35 a.m. HST (2:35 p.m. PDT/5:35 p.m. EDT), after the engineering test flight concluded. The test vehicle hardware, black box data recorder and parachute were all recovered later in the day.

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Mars One Solicits Payloads for 2018 Lander

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Mars One 2018 lander (Credit: Mars One)

Mars One 2018 lander (Credit: Mars One)

AMERSFOORT, The Netherlands, June 30, 2014 (Mars One PR) – Mars One is extending a formal invitation to universities, research bodies, and companies to contribute to the payload of the 2018 unmanned Mars Lander. The best ideas will be chosen by a panel of experts. This mission will act as a staging point for the first-ever human mission to the red planet in 2025.

Mars One is soliciting proposals for four demonstration payloads that will demonstrate technologies for the human mission in 2025, proposals for one payload that will be elected in a world wide university competition, and proposals for two payloads that are for sale to the highest bidder. These last two payloads can be used for scientific experiments, marketing activities or anything inbetween.

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Zubrin Challenges Chang Diaz to Debate Over Mars Exploration, VASIMR Engine

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Mars_Soil
There seems to be a trend of prominent space experts challenging each other to debates.

First, New Horizons Supremo Alan Stern challenged Neil deGrasse Tyson to debate whether Pluto should be restored to planetary status. Stern, whose mission will explore Pluto next year, believes it should be elevated from dwarf planet status. Tyson, the driving force behind Pluto’s demotion, refused to debate the subject.

Now, it’s Robert Zubrin’s turn. The Mars Society president has challenged Ad Astra Rocket Company Founder Franklin Chang-Diaz to a debate over how to best explore Mars. Near as I can tell from the press release, it would give Zubrin a chance to demonstrate that Ad Astra’s plasma-based VASIMR engine, which Chang Diaz is promoting for rapid trips to Mars, is pretty much a fraud.

Wow, who could turn down an invitation like that?

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Video Presentation on Red Dragon Mission to Mars

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Abstract: One of Ames’ long standing science interests has been to robotically drill deeply into Mars’ subsurface environment (2 meters, or more) to investigate the habitability of that zone for past or extant life. Large, capable Mars landers would ease the problem of landing and operating deep robotic drills. In 2010, an Ames scientist realized that the crew-carrying version of the SpaceX Dragon capsule would possess all the subsystems necessary to perform a soft landing on Earth, and raised the question of whether it could also soft land on Mars. If it could, it might be a candidate platform for a Discovery or Mars Scout class deep drilling mission, for example.

After approximately 3 years studying the engineering problem we have concluded that a minimally modified Dragon capsule (which we call the “Red Dragon”) could successfully perform an all-propulsive Entry, Descent, and Landing (EDL). We present and discuss the analysis that supports this conclusion. At the upper limits of its capability, a Red Dragon could land approximately 2 metric tons of useful payload, or approximately twice the mass that the MSL Skycrane demonstrated with a useful volume 3 or 4 times as great. This combination of features led us to speculate that it might be possible to land enough mass and volume with a Red Dragon to enable a Mars Sample Return mission in which Mars Orbit Rendezvous is avoided, and the return vehicle comes directly back to Earth. This potentially lowers the risk and cost of a sample return mission. We conclude that such an Earth-Direct sample return architecture is feasible if the Earth Return Vehicle is constructed as a small spacecraft. Larry Lemke will present and discuss the analysis that supports this conclusion.

NASA Reschedules Low-Denisity Supersonic Decelerator Test

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Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (Credit: NASA)

Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (Credit: NASA)

KAUAI, Hawaii (NASA PR) — NASA’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) project plans to fly its rocket-powered, saucer-shaped landing technology test vehicle into near-space from the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) on Kauai, Hawaii later this week.

NASA has identified five potential launch dates for the high-altitude balloon carrying the LDSD experiment: June 28, 29, 30, July 1 and 3. The launch window for Saturday, June 28 extends from 8:15–9:30 a.m. Hawaii Standard Time (2:15-3:30 p.m. EDT).

The test will be carried live via UStream and simulcast on NASA Television.

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Decelerator Flight Test Postponed Due to High Winds

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NASA workers at the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, wearing clean room "bunny suits," prepare the LDSD test article for shipment later this month to Hawaii. LDSD will help land bigger space payloads on Mars or return them back to Earth. (Credit: NASA/JPL)

NASA workers at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, wearing clean room “bunny suits,” prepare the LDSD test article for shipment later this month to Hawaii. LDSD will help land bigger space payloads on Mars or return them back to Earth. (Credit: NASA/JPL)

NASA LDSD Program Update
Thursday, June 12

June 12, 2014 – 2:55 PM EDT

NASA did not conduct the flight test of the agency’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) from the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range in Kauai, Hawaii, during its designated launch period. The project’s reserved range time at the range will expire Saturday, June 14, with NASA unable to fly the test because of continuing unfavorable weather conditions.

Mark Adler, the Low Density Supersonic Decelerator project manager and Ian Clark, principal investigator on the project, both from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, participated in a media teleconference this morning and addressed questions on the project.

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A Closer Look at NASA’s FY 2015 Budget Prospects

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Capitol BuildingAfter years of flat and declining budgets, it looks like NASA will get a funding boost this year from an unexpected source — Congress.

The FY 2015 budget measures coming out of the Senate and House actually boost the President’s proposed $17.46 billion spending plan by about $400 million. The Senate would spend an even $17.9 billion, while the House spending plan is just slight under that level at $17.896 billion.

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NASA Selects 12 NIAC Phase I Projects for Funding

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Titan submarine

Titan submarine

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 12 proposals for study under Phase I of the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program, which aims to turn science fiction into fact through pioneering technology development.

The selected proposals cover a wide range of imaginative concepts, including:

  • a submarine to explore the methane lakes of Titan;
  • using neutrinos to perform measurements for the icy moons of the outer planets; and,
  • a concept to safely capture a tumbling asteroid, space debris, and other applications.

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NASA Statement on National Research Council Report on Human Spaceflight

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NASA LOGOThe following is a statement from NASA regarding the National Research Council report, “Pathways to Exploration – Rationales and Approaches for a U.S. Program of Human Space Exploration” –

“NASA welcomes the release of this report. After a preliminary review, we are pleased to find the NRC’s assessment and identification of compelling themes for human exploration are consistent with the bipartisan plan agreed to by Congress and the Administration in the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 and that we have  been implementing ever since.

“There is a consensus that our horizon goal should be a human mission to Mars and the stepping stone and pathways thrust of the NRC report complements NASA’s ongoing approach.  The key elements of that approach include the facilitation of commercial access to low-Earth orbit to sustain fundamental human health research and technology demonstrations aboard the International Space Station (ISS); the development and evolution of the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion spacecraft to enable human exploration missions in cis-lunar and deep space, including to an asteroid; and the development of game-changing technologies for tomorrow’s missions, all leading the way on a path to Mars.

“NASA has made significant progress on many key elements that will be needed to reach Mars, and we continue on this path in collaboration with industry and other nations.  We intend to thoroughly review the report and all of its recommendations.”