Earth is in the midst of a climate crisis. Thanks to the way CO2 emissions have been rising rapidly since the early 20th century, global temperatures are rising, triggering a positive feedback cycle that threatens to make it worse. According to recent analyses, even if the industrialized nations agree to slash carbon emissions drastically, global warming will not begin to slow until mid-century. For this reason, emission reduction needs to be paired with carbon capture to ensure we avoid the worst-case scenarios.
Meanwhile, there is a significant outcry from the public concerning commercial space. Whereas advocates like Elon Musk argue that increasing access to space is key to our long-term survival, critics and detractors respond by stating that commercial space “steals focus” from Earth’s problems and that rocket launches produce excessive carbon emissions. In what could be a response to these challenges, Musk recently announced that SpaceX would be starting a carbon capture (CC) program to create propellants for his rockets.
Continue reading “SpaceX is Hoping to Turn Atmospheric CO2 Into Rocket Fuel”
In this series we are exploring the weird and wonderful world of astronomy jargon! You’ll finally get away with today’s topic: escape velocity!
Continue reading “Astronomy Jargon 101: Escape Velocity”
On December 2nd, 2021, the commercial space company Rocket Lab unveiled the detailed architecture of their Neutron rocket for the first time. In a live-streamed event, the company showcased all the new elements that will make this “megaconstellation” launcher a serious contender in the coming years. These include updated details about the rocket’s design, materials, propulsion, and reusability architecture.
Continue reading “Rocket Lab Shows off its new Reusable Neutron Rocket, due for Launch in 2024”
So far, only six countries have successfully launched more than 1 ton of equipment into space using domestically developed rockets. A seventh, North Korea, has successfully done so with a slightly smaller payload. Recently, their southern neighbor attempted to get into this exclusive club by testing its first-ever three-stage orbital rocket.
Continue reading “South Korea Launches its First Rocket. The Third Stage cut off Short.”
Star Trek meets star reality as William Shatner, the iconic 90-year-old actor, will fly on the next Blue Origins suborbital launch on October 12th.
Continue reading “It’s Official, William Shatner Will be Flying to Space With Blue Origin”
Material science is still the unsung hero of space exploration. Rockets are flashier, and control systems more precise, but they are useless without materials that withstand the immense temperatures of forces required to get people and things off the planet. Now a team from MT Aerospace, working on a grant from ESA, has developed a new type of material that will be immensely useful in one of the most important parts of any rocket engine – the fuel tanks.
Continue reading “Lightweight Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic Fuel Tanks Pass a Critical Test, and Could Knock a lot of Weight off a Rocket’s dry Mass”
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and that competition is a great way to foster progress and innovation. If these truisms are to be believed, then the NewSpace industry is destined to benefit from the presence of Relativity Space, a commercial space company based in Los Angeles. At the same time, SpaceX founder Elon Musk should be flattered that Tim Ellis and Jordan Noone (founders of Relativity Space) are following his example.
Roughly six years ago, Ellis and Noone founded Relativity for the purpose of using new technologies to disrupt the aerospace industry. Earlier this week (Tuesday, June 8th), the company announced that it had raised an additional $650 million in private capital. This money will go towards the development of rockets that are entirely 3D-printed and fully reusable, as well as the creation of a new class of heavy launch vehicles known as the “Terran-R.”
Continue reading “Relativity Space Gets a Huge Investment to Take on SpaceX With Reusable Rockets”
The EmDrive is a hypothetical rocket that proponents claim can generate thrust with no exhaust. This would violate all known physics. In 2016, a team at NASA’s Eagleworks lab claimed to measure thrust from an EmDrive device, the news of which caused quite a stir. The latest attempt to replicate the shocking results has resulted in a simple answer: the Eagleworks measurement was from heating of the engine mount, not any new physics.
Continue reading “In a Comprehensive new Test, the EmDrive Fails to Generate any Thrust”
China’s proposed next-generation rocket reached the final stage of feasibility studies this month. The planned launch vehicle, known as the Long March-9, will be capable of sending 100 tons to the Moon, and could see its first launch as early as 2030.
Announced in 2018, the Long March-9 will play a key role in China’s long-term space ambitions. If all goes as planned, its first payload is likely to be a Martian sample return mission, and it would support China’s Lunar ambitions as well. Another proposed use for the super-heavy lift vehicle is to build an experimental space-based solar power station, although plans for that project are still very tentative.
Continue reading “China’s Super-Heavy Lift Rocket Will Carry 100 Tons to the Moon”
It’s an exciting time for space exploration! All around the world, national space agencies are sending missions to deep-space and preparing to send astronauts to orbit and the Moon. At the same time, the commercial aerospace industry (NewSpace) is expanding to include more launch providers and service new markets. These developments are adding up and making space more cost-effective and accessible.
One such development of the emergence of reusable rockets, which are reducing the cost of individuals launches down considerably. Earlier this month (Dec. 15th), the European Space Agency (ESA) contracted with aerospace giant ArianeGroup to develop a reusable rocket. As part of the Themis Program, the ESA will use this rocket to evaluate the technologies involved for potential use on future European launch vehicles.
Continue reading “ESA is Working on its own Reusable Booster Stage”