Tag: moon

Long-Term Russian Space Plans Target Moon


A draft 10-year plan for the Russian space program lays out an ambitious agenda that will see Russian cosmonauts occupying a lunar base in the early 2030′s.

According to Russian media reports, the 2016-25 plan includes funding for:

  • a new super heavy booster to support human deep space exploration;
  • a Soyuz replacement capable of carrying cosmonauts to the moon and other destinations;
  • an extensive program of robotic exploration of the moon that would precede human exploration; and,
  • development of technologies required to build a lunar base in the early 2030′s.

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Is China Planning Test of Human Lunar Vehicle?


shenzhou1Toward the end of the year, China will launch a spacecraft to the moon that will return for a soft landing on Earth.  Officially, this is a test of a ship that will return soil samples from the moon, but Morris Jones suspects there’s more to it than that:

This analyst also suspects that China is also testing technology for a future Chinese astronaut launch to the Moon. The re-entry capsule is a scale replica of the capsule used on China’s Shenzhou astronaut spacecraft.

China has not released a lot of information on the mission, and has not even revealed any diagrams or photographs of the entire spacecraft. We have seen the re-entry module in photographs, but little else….

We believed that China would fly this mission in a free-return trajectory to the Moon. This meant that the spacecraft would fly around the far side of the Moon and use the Moon’s gravity to sling it back to Earth.

This mission profile was used by the Soviet Union’s “Zond” lunar probes, which were themselves tests for a cosmonaut launch to the Moon that never happened. A free-return trajectory was also used to bring the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission back to Earth.

Recently, a story published by China’s state news agency Xinhua gave a different perspective. It claims that the spacecraft will actually enter orbit around the Moon.

Read the full story.

NASA Funds Additional Smallsat Research Projects

Two three-unit (3U) CubeSats. At about a foot in length and four inches wide, these are similar in design to IceCube and the five selected heliophysics CubeSats. (Credit: NASA)

Two three-unit (3U) CubeSats. At about a foot in length and four inches wide, these are similar in design to IceCube and the five selected heliophysics CubeSats. (Credit: NASA)

With CubeSats and other types of small satellites are being launched in increasing numbers, there’s a race on to develop new technologies to vastly improve their capabilities and extend their range to the moon, Mars and other deep space destinations.

NASA has been at the leading edge of this technology development effort. Last week, the space agency announced its plans to fund four small-satellite research projects. The projects include phase II funding for three Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program proposals and one NASA Innovative Advance Concepts (NIAC) proposal.

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Keck Proposes Deep Space CubeSat Missions

CHAMPAGNE Rings Explorer (Credit: Keck Institute for Space Studies)

CHAMPAGNE Rings Explorer (Credit: Keck Institute for Space Studies)

Last month, the Keck Institute for Space Studies (KISS) at the California Institute of Technology released a report titled, “Small Satellites: A Revolution in Space Science,” which examines the sorts of missions types of missions that could be with rapidly evolving small satellites. The potential missions described in the report cover planetary science (moons, asteroids, etc.), astrophysics and heliophysics.

The planetary science missions include the use of mother ships that would deploy CubeSats and impactors to explore Jupiter’s moon Europa, tens of thousands of ChipSats to characterize Saturn’s rings, landing vehicles to explore asteroids, and small spacecraft that would map the moon’s interior and search for volatiles and organics.

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Lunar Pits Could Shelter Future Explorers, Settlers

This is a spectacular high-Sun view of the Mare Tranquillitatis pit crater revealing boulders on an otherwise smooth floor. This image from LRO's NAC is 400 meters (1,312 feet) wide, north is up. (Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University)

This is a spectacular high-Sun view of the Mare Tranquillitatis pit crater revealing boulders on an otherwise smooth floor. This image from LRO’s NAC is 400 meters (1,312 feet) wide, north is up. (Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University)

GREENBELT, Mary. (NASA PR) — While the moon’s surface is battered by millions of craters, it also has over 200 holes – steep-walled pits that in some cases might lead to caves that future astronauts could explore and use for shelter, according to new observations from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft.

The pits range in size from about 5 meters (~5 yards) across to more than 900 meters (~984 yards) in diameter, and three of them were first identified using images from the Japanese Kaguya spacecraft. Hundreds more were found using a new computer algorithm that automatically scanned thousands of high-resolution images of the lunar surface from LRO’s Narrow Angle Camera (NAC).

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Golden Spike, Honeybee Complete Preliminary Study on Lunar Rover

Honeybee-Golden Spike rover

Honeybee-Golden Spike rover

BOULDER, Colo., Jul. 8, 2014 (Golden Spike/Honeybee PR) — The Golden Spike Company, the world’s first enterprise planning to undertake human lunar expeditions for countries, corporations and individuals, and Honeybee Robotics, a premier developer of advanced robotic systems, today announced they have completed a preliminary design study for unmanned rovers capable of enhancing the next human missions to the Moon.

In partnership with technical staff at Golden Spike, Honeybee engineers conducted trade studies of both flight-proven and promising technologies to design configurable robotic rovers that can collect and store several kilograms of scientific samples from the Moon’s surface in advance of or in conjunction with Golden Spike’s human expeditions.

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CBS This Morning Looks at Google Lunar X Prize Teams


The High Cost of Lunar Living

Credit: Buddy Loans

Credit: Buddy Loans

LONDON, July 3, 2014 (Buddy Loans PR) — Buddy Loans, a professional guarantor loan company based in the UK, has just released an interesting and educational infographic that shows the cost of living on the moon for one year. The fascinating infographic was created in honor of the 45th anniversary of the moon landing.

As a company spokesperson explained, some people believe that the next “giant leap for mankind” will involve the colonization of our closest celestial neighbor. For those who are thinking about one day trading in their vehicle for a spaceship to the moon, the new infographic provides some important information about how costly such a venture would be.

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CBS News Report on the Google Lunar X Prize


GLXP Update: Penn State Lunar Lion Receives New Engine

H202 engine (Credit: Penn State Lunar Lion)

H202 engine (Credit: Penn State Lunar Lion)

UNIVERSITY PARK, Penn. (Penn State Lunar Lion PR) — This summer will be a very exciting time for the Lunar Lion Team as it recently received the first of its new H202 engines.  These engines represent a transition from a previous bipropellant LOX/Ethanol propulsion system to a monopropellant one using H2O2.  The previous design for a terrestrial rocket-powered prototype called for using a series of pencil thrusters capable of putting out 20lbs of force.  The new system will still require the prototype (now named Puma) to demonstrate a 500m hop, but do so using four of the new engines, capable of putting out 100lbs of force.

Designing a craft capable of hopping 500m will require many integral milestones to be met along the way, the first including the designing and construction of a craft that will be able to take off and land vertically in a controlled environment.  The team has already selected a location to test Puma and come up with a preliminary design and expects the controlled vertical test to occur by the end of August. The design (without the propellant tank in place) is pictured below.

Now that the team has received the first of its H2O2 engines, testing can commence.  Expect more updates and cool videos to follow!