Earth is a radiation cocoon. Inside that cocoon, the atmosphere and the magnetosphere keep us mostly safe from the Sun’s radiaition. Some ultraviolet light gets through, and can damage us. But reasonable precautions like simply minimizing exposure can keep the Sun’s radiation at bay.
But space is a different matter altogether. Among the many hazards it poses to astronauts, ever-present radiation is one that needs a solution.
Now a team of researchers have developed a new biomaterial to protect astronauts.
Continue reading “Scientists Have Developed a Way to Make Human Skin More Protected from Space Radiation”
Ten months in space!
The Planetary Society’s LightSail 2 spacecraft just reached that milestone. And the fine folks at the Society have released a bunch of new pictures from the spacecraft. Ten of them, in fact. One for each successful month.
Continue reading “New Photos From LightSail 2”
NASA and SpaceX are targeting May 27, 2020 for an historic mission: the launch of the first astronauts on the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, with the destination as the International Space Station (ISS). The crew, NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, are scheduled to launch on a Falcon 9 rocket at 4:32 pm EDT that day from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A. If all goes well, the Crew Dragon will autonomously dock with the space station about 24 hours later.
Continue reading “Crew Dragon Will Be Launching on May 27th”
50 years ago today, on April 17, 1970, the crew of Apollo 13 came home. Safely. Successfully.
The world breathed a collective sigh of relief as they watched NASA turn a disaster into one of the most dramatic happy-endings ever.
The flight of Apollo 13 was unlike any other Apollo mission,
and the final hours of the flight – preparing for and implementing the reentry
to Earth – was unlike any other, as well.
Continue reading “Even More Things That Saved Apollo 13: The Nail-biting Re-entry Sequence”
Following the explosion of an oxygen tank in Apollo 13’s
Service Module on April 13, 1970, approximately 56 hours into the mission, the
situation was bleak. With the Command Module (CM) without any power, the Lunar
Module (LM) was activated as a life boat to sustain the crew. The task ahead –
to save the spacecraft and the crew, and get them home again — would require an
incredible amount of innovation by both the Apollo 13 astronauts and the
engineers back on Earth.
The explosion caused the loss of the main source for oxygen,
water, and most importantly, electrical power for the CM. With only 15 minutes
of power left in the CM, astronaut Jack Swigert powered down the CM while Jim
Lovell and Fred Haise got the LM up and running.
For engineers on the ground, one of the biggest concerns was
maintaining enough electrical power in the LM and then creating enough power in
the CM to power it back up again for reentry to Earth.
Continue reading “Even More Things That Saved Apollo 13: Charging the Batteries”
Apollo 13 was supposed to be the third mission to land humans
on the Moon. But on the night of April 13th, 1970, an oxygen tank in Apollo
13’s Service Module exploded. And so began the most perilous but eventually
triumphant situation ever encountered in human spaceflight.
The explosion crippled the Apollo 13 Command Module and
endangered the lives of astronauts Jim Lovell, Fred Haise, and Jack Swigert.
During the four days that followed, thousands of people back on Earth worked
around the clock to ensure the astronauts’ safe return.
Continue reading “Even More Things That Saved Apollo 13, part 1: The Barbecue Roll”
In September of 2019, SpaceX unveiled the first Starship prototype, the first of several test vehicles that would validate the design of the next-generation spacecraft that would fulfill Musk’s promise of making commercial flights to the Moon and Mars. And while there was a bit of a setback in November of 2019 after the Mk. 1 suffered a structural failure, Musk indicated that the company would be moving forward with other prototypes.
As Musk explained at the time, this would consist of the Mk. 3 prototype conducting an orbital test flight to an altitude of 100 km (62 mi) sometime in 2020. According to recent filings made with the FCC, this test could be happening as early as mid-March and will involve the vehicle launching from the company’s test facility in Boca Chica, Texas, and flying to an altitude of 20 km (12.6 mi) before landing.
Continue reading “SpaceX Has Requested Permission to Fly Starship as Early as March”
A trio of space travelers returned to Earth this morning from the International Space Station, including NASA astronaut Christina Koch, who set a record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman, at 326 straight days. Also coming home was ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano, who has now spent a total of 367 days in space (in two missions), more days than any ESA astronaut in history.
The crew of Expedition 61 also included Russian cosmonaut and Soyuz Commander Alexander Skvortsov, who completed his third mission for a total of 546 days in space, placing him 15th on the all-time time-in-space list.
Continue reading “Record-Setting Space Travelers Return to Earth”
LightSail 2 deployed it solar sail five months ago, and it’s still orbiting Earth. It’s a successful demonstration of the potential of solar sail spacecraft. Now the LightSail 2 team at The Planetary Society has released a paper outlining their findings from the mission so far.
Continue reading “LightSail 2 is Still Solar Sailing, But it’s Getting Lower and Lower with Each Orbit”
The year two thousand and twenty is almost upon us. And as always, space agencies and aerospace companies all around the world are preparing to spend the coming year accomplishing a long list of missions and developments. Between NASA, the ESA, China, SpaceX, and others, there are enough plans to impress even the most curmudgeonly of space enthusiasts.
Continue reading “Spaceflight Stories Expected for 2020”