Are miniature probes the future of deep space exploration?Continue reading “The Smallest Radar Ever Sent to Space Will Probe the Interior of Dimorphos After its Impact From DART”
A Year After a Failed Launch, Firefly Reaches Orbit and Deploys Satellites
Edited on 10/6/22 to add new information from Seradata.
Commercial space company Firefly Aerospace successfully launched its Alpha rocket for the first time last weekend, reaching orbit and deploying three satellites. While the latest determination of the satellites’ orbit reveals they may have not been placed in the correct orbit, the company appears to consider the orbit high enough to be considered a success. But others might not agree.
This launch comes just over a year after the Alpha rocket’s first launch attempt exploded two and a half minutes after liftoff from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.Continue reading “A Year After a Failed Launch, Firefly Reaches Orbit and Deploys Satellites”
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A Mission to Reach the Solar Gravitational Lens in 30 Years
NASA’s Institute for Advanced Concepts is famous for supporting outlandish ideas in the astronomy and space exploration fields. Since being re-established in 2011, the institute has supported a wide variety of projects as part of its three-phase program. However, so far, only three projects have gone on to receive Phase III funding. And one of those just released a white paper describing a mission to get a telescope that could effectively see biosignatures on nearby exoplanets by utilizing the gravitational lens of our own Sun.Continue reading “A Mission to Reach the Solar Gravitational Lens in 30 Years”
Finally, a Practical use for Space-Based Power Beaming. Sending Power to Satellites in Shade
Power beaming is one of those technologies that can completely change the world. Almost unlimited power wherever it is needed, whenever it’s needed, is literally a technology straight out of science fiction. Researchers have been working on the technology for decades at this point, but there has been little commercial headway so far, so what is holding this revolutionary technology up? A “killer app” would certainly help move it along – and that is what a team from Space Power, a private company, and the University of Surrey think they have found in the form of powering other microsatellites.Continue reading “Finally, a Practical use for Space-Based Power Beaming. Sending Power to Satellites in Shade”
Company Tests Iodine Thruster in Space for the First Time
Ion thrusters have played second fiddle to chemical rockets for most of the history of space exploration. Part of that is because of their inability to launch payloads into orbit. But in space, their high thrust-to-weight ratio has plenty of appeal. Other features have held the technology back, including the difficulty of working with the thruster’s fuel source – xenon. Now, a team of engineers and scientists from ThrustMe, a French start-up that focuses on developing advanced propulsions systems, have developed an ion thruster that works on an entirely new and much easier to use material – iodine.Continue reading “Company Tests Iodine Thruster in Space for the First Time”
Artemis 1 is Launching in February
It’s been a long time coming, but NASA’s next moon rocket is just months from liftoff on its first uncrewed test flight. The Space Launch System (SLS) is a super heavy-lift vehicle capable of delivering 95 tons to Low Earth Orbit, but its primary purpose will be to deliver humans to lunar orbit and, eventually, to the lunar surface. SLS has been in development since 2011, and it’s faced a series of delays, but launch day is finally within sight. Earlier this month, the rocket was fully stacked for the first time in the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center, and the Orion capsule (the spacecraft’s crew cabin) was attached to the top. The full stack stands an impressive 322 feet tall, just shy of the Saturn V’s 363 feet.Continue reading “Artemis 1 is Launching in February”
IBM Space Tech Wants to “Democratize Space” with ENDURANCE.
Between the rise of the commercial space industry and the proliferation of agencies and programs, it is clear that we live in a new space age. A cornerstone of this new age is how reusable rockets, small satellite technology, and other advances are reducing the cost of launching payloads to orbit. This, in turn, increases access to space and allows more people and organizations to participate in lucrative research.
In January of 2020, IBM chose to build on its many years of working with the space sector by launching its own commercial space venture known as IBM Space Tech. In early 2022, IBM Space Tech will be launching its first CubeSat space mission, named ENDURANCE, to Low Earth Orbit (LEO). By leveraging IBM/Red Hat software and the IBM Cloud, this CubeSat will give students all over the world access to space!Continue reading “IBM Space Tech Wants to “Democratize Space” with ENDURANCE.”
NASA has Chosen 4 new Pioneer Missions: Aspera, Pandora, StarBurst, and PEUO
Budget constraints are a major consideration for every space program throughout the world. Lately, NASA has taken a particularly bold approach, by not only innovating through novel ideas that could do great science, but innovating with the way they fund those missions. A good example of this innovation is the Astrophysics Pioneers program, which is a NASA fund program targeted at early- to mid-career researchers. The interesting thing about the program is that the overall budget for each project is capped at $20 million. Now, the program has selected its first four projects to move ahead to its second stage.Continue reading “NASA has Chosen 4 new Pioneer Missions: Aspera, Pandora, StarBurst, and PEUO”
Virgin Orbit Successfully Launches a Batch of Satellites From an Airplane
On Sunday, January 17th, Virgin Orbit conducted the second launch test of its LauncherOne rocket, which the company will use to deploy small satellites to orbit in the coming years. The mission (Launch Demo 2) went smoothly and validated the company’s delivery system, which consists of the rocket air launching from a repurposed 747-400 (named Cosmic Girl).
It also involved the successful deployment of 10 CubeSats which were selected by NASA’s Launch Services Program (LSP) as part of the agency’s CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI). The event began when Cosmic Girl took off from the Mojave Air and Space Port at approximately 10:50 A.M. PST (01:50 P.M. EST) and flew to a location about 80 km (50 mi) south of the Channel Islands in the Pacific Ocean.Continue reading “Virgin Orbit Successfully Launches a Batch of Satellites From an Airplane”
Tiny Cubesat Detects an Exoplanet
In the past decade and a half, a total of 4,164 thousand planets have been discovered beyond our Solar System, while another 5220 await confirmation. The majority of these were detected by the venerable Kepler Space Telescope, while the remainder have been observed by the Transitting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and a combination of other satellites and ground-based telescopes.
But in what is a new record, a known super-Earth was recently observed by the Arcsecond Space Telescope Enabling Research in Astrophysics (ASTERIA) small satellite – making it the smallest observatory to spot an exoplanet. Led by a team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), this mission has demonstrated that small satellites can perform complex tasks in space normally carried out by large observatories.Continue reading “Tiny Cubesat Detects an Exoplanet”