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Archive for the ‘space travel’ category: Page 7

Apr 10, 2020

BepiColombo Slingshots Past Earth

Posted by in categories: astronomy, science, space, space travel
Mercury has only been visited by two spacecraft so far… Credit NASA

The ESA probe BepiColombo flew past Earth on the way to Mercury. The probe launched in 2018 and made the last visit of our home before continuing onward to the final destination. The spacecraft needs to shed velocity to arrive at Mercury in 2025 at a velocity to enter orbit. The spacecraft will make multiple additional planetary flybys of Venus and Mercury to slow down to enter orbit.

In space travel, mission planners need to balance mission resources. The amount of fuel required to either speed up or slow down a spacecraft greatly impacts the cost of the mission. Using a longer flight path can reduce the propellent requirements for a mission but the mission will take longer. Gravity assists can, therefore, allow a spacecraft to be launched on a cheaper, less powerful rocket.

Gravity assist flyby?

A Gravity assist flyby has other names including a gravitational slingshot, gravity assist maneuver, or swing-by. Gravity assistance maneuvers increase or decrease its speed or redirect the orbital path. The spacecraft slingshots around another object with a gravitational field and transfers some of the energy during that slingshot. In the case of BepiColombo, the spacecraft needs to slow down to be captured by Mercury…

Apr 9, 2020

Musk Reads: Starship user guide reveals big plans

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, space travel

SN3 suffers a setback and Crew Dragon is still set to fly. Could Starlink help in the coronavirus lockdowns? It’s Musk Reads: SpaceX Edition #157.

A version of this article appeared in the “Musk Reads” newsletter. Sign up for free here.

Apr 8, 2020

The spacecraft that utterly transformed SpaceX has flown its last mission

Posted by in category: space travel

On Tuesday, the first version of Dragon completed its 20th and final mission.

Apr 7, 2020

Boeing Starliner Wings Clipped. Will Launch Again Without a Crew.

Posted by in categories: complex systems, innovation, space, space travel

Boeing flubbed the first mission of the CST-100. Seemingly a routine mission for SpaceX after completing over 20 deliveries to the International Space Station, Boeing showed how not to do it. During the December 2019 Demo flight for the Boeing Starliner CST-100, the Starliner did not reach its planned orbit. Nor did the Starliner dock to the International Space Station as planned. Boeing was able to complete a number of mission objectives during the flight to comply with the milestones related to NASA’s Commercial Crew.

CST-100 Starliner

CST-100 Starliner OFT Recovery – December 22, 2019

On the ULA Atlas V rocket at 6:36 a.m. Friday, Dec. 20, the Boeing Starliner launched from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Boeing has a long rich history in both aviation and spaceflight. This mission, already three years behind in schedule, should have been a slam dunk.

After launching to the incorrect orbit, Boeing was able to successfully recover the Starliner. NASA shared that Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft did successfully complete the first land touchdown of a human-rated capsule at the White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico at 7:58 a.m. EST (5:58 a.m. MST) on December 22, 2019. The landing followed a deorbit burn for the botched flight, separation of the spacecraft’s service module, and successful deployment of its three main parachutes and six airbags. Boeing’s approach to the Starliner is unique as the prior US-made capsules, including the SpaceX Dragon, are water recoveries.

Starliner settling softly to the ground on Airbags wasn’t enough.

The NASA and Boeing investigation into the spaceflight was disclosed in Early March 2020. The recommendations included a list of corrections that needed to be addressed prior to the Starliner launching again. The investigation documented 61 “corrective actions” for the company’s Starliner spacecraft. This type of test did do what it was supposed to do. Find issues before people are exposed to potentially dangerous situations. This human risk reduction is a hallmark of the NASA Commercial Crew Program which was put in place to alternatives to the Space Shuttle and Soyuz spacecraft. NASA associate administrator Doug Loverro shared with reporters on a conference call that he expected it months for Boeing to work through the list to be ready for another test flight.

Apr 7, 2020

Expect ‘One Of A Kind’ Photos Of The ‘Super Pink Moon’ This Week As A Spacecraft Speeds Past Earth

Posted by in category: space travel

BepiColombo will see the Earth-facing side of the Moon in the thermal infrared for the very first time.

Apr 6, 2020

Elon Musk shares what caused the Starship SN3 prototype to collapse during a pressure test

Posted by in categories: Elon Musk, space travel

Featured Image Source: @SpacePadreIsle via Twitter.

SpaceX is in the process of developing a gigantic Starship that will one day perform voyages to the moon and Mars. The first test prototypes are under construction at the company’s South Texas facility in Boca Chica Beach. On April 2nd, engineers conducted a cryogenic pressure test on, the company’s third Starship prototype this year. The vehicle was loaded with cryogenic (super cold) liquid nitrogen, and pressurized in order to test out how much pressure the stainless-steel structure could withstand. During the test, the craft is pressurized to the max, as engineers inspect for leaks and hope the stainless-steel structure withstands a pressure strength between 6 and ~8.5 bar. This test aims to put the vehicle into conditions similar to those it would experience during a spaceflight. Though, Thursday’s test did not go as planned. The vehicle collapsed, sending shattered steel parts flying off the launch pad’s stand.

Apr 6, 2020

Robert Zubrin…When Will Humans go to Mars?

Posted by in categories: Elon Musk, military, space travel

Always a good interview. Short answer, he doesn’t think the timeline is accurate.


Dr. Robert Zubrin, former engineer at Lockhead Martin and president and founder of the Mars Society joins us today for a groundbreaking conversation. We discuss the obstacles to sending humans to Mars and the moon, the emergence and role of private enterprise in leading the way to space exploration, as well as the likelihood of success of the US administration’s announcement of its goal to establish a permanent human presence on the moon in 4 years. Dr. Zubrin also recounts the details of his meetings with Elon Musk prior and during the foundation of SpaceX. Other subjects we touched on included the justification for space exploration in the face of mounting problems and priorities here on earth. We also discuss the role of space as a game-changer in the way military domination and conflicts will be done in the future.

Continue reading “Robert Zubrin…When Will Humans go to Mars?” »

Apr 5, 2020

Photos: Astronauts train to ride a Dragon into space

Posted by in category: space travel

Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, two veteran space shuttle fliers, are gearing up to fly a privately-developed SpaceX Dragon capsule into orbit this year.

The two astronauts participated in several major training events in March, including long-duration simulations to rehearse procedures they will execute during launch on top of a Falcon 9 rocket, their docking with the International Space Station, and then departure from the orbiting lab for return to Earth.

SpaceX and NASA engineers joined the astronauts in the simulations, rehearsing their roles at control centers at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, and NASA’s space station control center in Houston.

Apr 4, 2020

Crew Dragon Demo-2 will be a Really Long Test Drive.

Posted by in categories: space, space travel

“Depending on when we launch they’re going to be up there for probably two to three months.” NASA Administrator Bridenstine

SpaceX and NASA
Elon Musk speaks with NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine, along with astronauts Victor Glover, Doug Hurley, Bob Behnken and Mike Hopkins, in front of the company’s Crew Dragon capsule. Credit NASA

The next launch to the Space Station is planned for April 9th and is only a few days away. Preparations for the launch have been complicated with illness and coronavirus complications. AS OF NOW, the launch is still on track to rocket American astronaut Chris Cassidy and his two Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner. Originally, Ivanishin and Vagner were backup for expedition 63. Due to a temporary health condition, Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner were moved forward onto the prime crew. Because of delays in the US Commercial Crew Program, the crew on the ISS may be lower that normal.

Boeing and SpaceX delays put ISS operations at Risk

Since delays to the US Commercial Crew Program might leave Cassidy as the only crew member on the USOS for an extended period of time, Anatoli Ivanishin has been training on US EMU spacesuits. Cassidy has completed multiple EVAs in the past, including an unscheduled EVA. In the unlikely event that an unscheduled EVA is required before additional USOS crew members arrive on the station, then Ivanishin can support Cassidy. Should Ivanishin participate in EVA in the EMU he would be the first Russian cosmonaut to use an EMU since 2007 where Yuri Malenchenko performed the EVA with NASA Astronaut Peggy Whitson. Vagner has been to training on operation the USOS Robotic Arm (Canadarm 2) should there be a need to robotically support any EVA carried out by Cassidy and Ivanishin.

At the Cosmonaut Hotel crew quarters in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, Expedition 63 crewmembers Chris Cassidy of NASA (left) and Anatoly Ivanishin (center) and Ivan Vagner (right) of Roscosmos practice rendezvous techniques on a laptop simulator April 1 as they prepare for launch. They will launch April 9 on the Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for a six-and-a-half month mission on the International Space Station. Andrey Shelepin/Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center Credit NASA

The three astronauts are scheduled to be in space until October 2020 by which time a SpaceX Crew Dragon should be able to rotate a new crew onto the ISS.

Continue reading “Crew Dragon Demo-2 will be a Really Long Test Drive.” »

Apr 3, 2020

Jeff Bezos’ space company is pressuring employees to launch a tourist rocket during the pandemic

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health, space travel

Employees at Jeff Bezos’ aerospace firm Blue Origin are outraged that senior leadership is pressuring workers to conduct a test launch of the company’s New Shepard rocket — designed to take wealthy tourists into space — while the COVID-19 pandemic devastates the United States.

To conduct the flight, Blue Origin officials are considering transporting employees from the company’s main headquarters in Kent, Washington — a town near Seattle where COVID-19 cases have surged — to a small town in West Texas called Van Horn. The town, which has a population of just over 2,000, is home to Blue Origin’s test launch facility where the company has conducted all past flights of the New Shepard rocket.

Many employees fear that traveling to Van Horn might expose them to the novel coronavirus and inadvertently introduce COVID-19 to the residents of the rural town where there is very little infrastructure to handle an outbreak. The Verge spoke exclusively with four Blue Origin employees who all asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation from the company. They say they are frustrated by the company’s desire to conduct a launch, as it could unnecessarily jeopardize the health of employees at Blue Origin and residents of Van Horn.

Continue reading “Jeff Bezos’ space company is pressuring employees to launch a tourist rocket during the pandemic” »

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