Chris Hadfield is a hero. A boss. The real deal. Not simply because he was Commander of the International Space Station, but for what he did while up there. Not content with being just “an astronaut,” he assumed the role of rock-star spaceman, conducting regular science-experiment videos from space, answering questions like, “What happens to tears in space?” Then, he gave us this: the first video from space. Watching Hadfield’s rendition of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” while orbiting the Earth is nothing short of sublime. Mr. Hadfield, you win 2013.
NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, armed with specialized wide- and narrow-field lenses, has taken the best images to date of a unique jet stream in Saturn’s atmosphere.
NASA engineer Jerry Budd has an idea so audacious that it might just work—he wants to use unmanned, autonomous gliders to send small, low-cost satellites into orbit.
The Towed Glider Air-Launch is an experimental project (still awaiting government approval) that would fire air-launching rocket boosters from a drone glider. In Budd’s modest words, the proposal offers “affordable, flexible access to space.” A glider would be towed into high altitudes by military transport aircraft on planned flights and would be released by the plane—the glider would then fire a rocket booster (with a satellite enclosed) into orbit. Afterward, pilots located in remote NASA facilities safely guide the glider home.
The space gliders would be used to launch cubesats into orbit. Cubesats are small, low-cost satellites that weigh under 200 pounds and can be built and sent into orbit for low cost. Right now, it costs about $50,000 to build a cubesat and $100,000 to put one in orbit. Budd’s proposal would sharply reduce the cost of sending cubesats into space by allowing specialized drones to handle much of the hard work. Instead of sending cubesats into orbit on Russian rockets, NASA could build a new revenue stream by shipping these small satellites into orbit for other entities—effectively meaning the agency would provide space logistics services.
“By now, the upper part of the helmet is full of water and I can’t even be sure that the next time I breathe I will fill my lungs with air and not liquid.”
Take a little mudcake, almond buttercake, vanilla madeira sponge, and ivory marshmallow fondant and—voila—an edible Jupiter that would make an astronaut proud.
“Teleportation would be cool, certainly.”
Japan sent a tiny humanoid robot in space to keep an astronaut company.
The Curiosity rover has been on Mars for almost a year. This time-lapse video shows what, exactly, it’s been up to. Here’s more.
Read more. [Image: Mark Avino and Roland H. Cunningham, Smithsonian Institution]
Happy Birthday NASA!
July 29, 1958: NASA is Created
On this day in 1958, the United States Congress passed legislation creating the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Since its creation, NASA has played a vital role in coordinating all of the US’ activity in space. The agency spearheads and sponsors space exhibitions and has launched numerous orbiting satellites that have produced information about the solar system and universe.
In recent years, many feel that NASA has experienced numerous setbacks. The most significant being the end of the space shuttle program in 2011.
Celebrate NASA’s birthday with PBS NewsHour’s video of the agency’s newest vehicle “Curiosity.”
photo:Astronaut Edward H. White II’s Space Walk on Gemini IV ca.1965, (NASA)
Planetary Resources, the innovative, bold company with plans to strip-mine asteroids for their valuable resources, has revealed it will use advanced 3-D printing techniques to produce its line of Arkyd space telescopes.
And NASA just successfully test-fired a rocket engine that uses a 3-D printed injector component. The advantage of 3-D printing this part is the speed and precision of the process, which NASA notes would otherwise have required a year of careful machining to make. It doesn’t hurt that it also cost 70% less to produce…