Tag Archives | Space Exploration

SpaceX Takes Star Trek’s ‘Scotty’ (And Others) to The Final Frontier

James Doohan

Doohan at the Dryden Flight Research Center in 1967.

Aside from the news that the United States’ space program has effectively been privatized in the wake of the retirement of the Space Transportation System (Shuttle) program, this noteworthy craft was carrying the ashes of over 300 people. That’s $2,995 per gram of ashes into Earth orbit. As Clara Moskowitz writes on Space.com:

Scotty has finally been beamed up. The ashes of the actor James Doohan, who played Scotty on the 1960s television series Star Trek, were launched to space this morning (May 22nd) on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

The unmanned Falcon 9 blasted off at 3:44 a.m. EDT (0744 GMT) from here at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, carrying the Dragon capsule filled with cargo bound for the International Space Station. Also packed aboard the rocket was a secondary payload carrying remains from 308 people, including Doohan and Mercury program astronaut Gordon Cooper, according to ABC News and Reuters.

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NASA Training Astronauts for Asteroid Mission

433 ErosThe mission would not occur until the 2020s, so we all can rest assured that no harbinger of doom is on the way ...? As Richard Gray reports in the Telegraph:
It is a space mission straight from the Hollywood film Armageddon... A team of astronauts, however, have already started preparing for just such a mission. Among them is Major Tim Peake, a former British Army helicopter test pilot who is now the first official British astronaut with the European Space Agency. Next month they will begin a training programme that will teach them how to operate vehicles, conduct spacewalks and gather samples on the surface of an asteroid. While the primary goal of a mission to an asteroid will be scientific to learn more about their hostile environments, the skills needed to work on their surface could also prove invaluable should scientists discover one on a collision course with Earth...
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Astronauts On Mars Would Risk DNA Damage

DeMonchaux30Sad news for hopes of future visits to the red planet — anyone who journeys to Mars could come back with their DNA adversely altered, Russian scientists warn. Mars Daily explains:

Future astronauts working on the Red Planet’s surface risk general changes in health at the DNA level because of increased radiation exposure, a prominent Russian academic said on Monday.

“According to our estimates, researchers on the surface of Mars can expect a number of adverse factors, such as cardiac arrhythmia, sensory impairments, changes at the DNA level, and demineralization of bone tissue,” Anatoly Grigoryev, the deputy head of Russia’s Academy of Sciences, told at a presentation at the International Symposium on the results of ground-based experiment Mars-500.

The unique Moscow-based Mars-500 experiment was completed on November 4. It attempted to recreate at least some of the conditions of a flight to the Red Planet by locking six men away in a mock spacecraft.

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Moonwalking Practice 1963-1968

Wondering if it is possible to experience outer space life  here on Earth? Via Interweb3000, a photo series cataloging training for NASA astronauts in the mid-1960s:

I’ve browsed back a bit in the NASA photo archives and put together a couple of photos that have emerged of the 1960s as part of the Apollo program in the Lunar Landing Research Facility. The photographs show, as were then tested with very simple methods, the effects of weightlessness on the human body in a moon walk – of course, could also be filming the big moon landing conspiracy.

moonwalk

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James Cameron & Google’s Eric Schmidt Plan To Mine Space

RCW 86Space: The final frontier. Hollywood and Silicon Valley superheroes Cameron and Schmidt plan to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before… Emma Rowley reports for the Telegraph:

Power players including Eric Schmidt, the Google chairman, and James Cameron, the film director, are planning to mine the final frontier: space.

They are among the backers of a new venture that will reach for the riches lying elsewhere in the solar system. Planetary Resources will be a “space exploration company to expand Earth’s resource base” according to scant information released ahead of the start-up’s launch in Seattle on Tuesday.

“The company will overlay two critical sectors – space exploration and natural resources – to add trillions of dollars to the global GDP,” was the bold claim. “This innovative start-up will create a new industry and a new definition of ‘natural resources’.”

Mr Schmidt and the internet giant’s co-founder Larry Page are listed alongside Mr Cameron, the director of Titanic and Avatar, among the venture’s investors and advisers.

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Mars Viking Robots ‘Found Life’

Viking LanderReports Irene Klotz on Discovery News:
New analysis of 36-year-old data, resuscitated from printouts, shows NASA found life on Mars, an international team of mathematicians and scientists conclude in a paper published this week. Further, NASA doesn't need a human expedition to Mars to nail down the claim, neuropharmacologist and biologist Joseph Miller, with the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, told Discovery News. "The ultimate proof is to take a video of a Martian bacteria. They should send a microscope — watch the bacteria move," Miller said. "On the basis of what we've done so far, I'd say I'm 99 percent sure there's life there," he added. Miller's confidence stems in part from a new study that re-analyzed results from a life-detection experiment conducted by NASA's Viking Mars robots in 1976.
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Interview With A Man Who Went To Mars

1971japanspaceencyclopedia08Or so he claims—there’s no proof of veracity, but a gripping read nonetheless. Morgan Kochel’s conversation with a A Man Who Went to Mars:

Training lasted twelve months, very intense, including psychiatric tests. It took us about 230 days to get there, and slightly less back. We used rocket technology regularly available now. Just bigger tanks and more thrust. Nothing unusual in equipment to get there, but better radiation protection, as you can imagine, due to journey time.

We landed near Ares Vallis. Our employers got some data about the Sojourner landing, and this was the place they wanted to explore. We took the same type of collecting devices used by geologists, which is why this had to be a manned mission, as no robot could do this. There were plenty of minerals that we analyzed on the way home: metals, particularly gold(?), and some other substance that was a form of composite like carbon fiber, but already in a usable form.

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A Universe Without Purpose

Disc CloudLawrence M. Krauss writes in the LA Times:

The illusion of purpose and design is perhaps the most pervasive illusion about nature that science has to confront on a daily basis. Everywhere we look, it appears that the world was designed so that we could flourish.

The position of the Earth around the sun, the presence of organic materials and water and a warm climate — all make life on our planet possible. Yet, with perhaps 100 billion solar systems in our galaxy alone, with ubiquitous water, carbon and hydrogen, it isn’t surprising that these conditions would arise somewhere. And as to the diversity of life on Earth — as Darwin described more than 150 years ago and experiments ever since have validated — natural selection in evolving life forms can establish both diversity and order without any governing plan.

As a cosmologist, a scientist who studies the origin and evolution of the universe, I am painfully aware that our illusions nonetheless reflect a deep human need to assume that the existence of the Earth, of life and of the universe and the laws that govern it require something more profound.

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Exploding H-Bombs In Space: Operation Starfish Prime

Starfish PrimeIt was hypothesized at the time, the radiation might provide a defensive shield above the U.S. against Soviet nukes, but aside from the light show, it ended up frying many of our satellites. The radiation took 10 years to dissipate, which made study of our natural radiation belts, the Van Allen belts, problematic during that period. Wikipedia has a good article explaining the test and NPR has a good article and video about it from a few years ago:
Back in the summer of 1962, the U.S. blew up a hydrogen bomb in outer space, some 250 miles above the Pacific Ocean. It was a weapons test, but one that created a man-made light show that has never been equaled — and hopefully never will:
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Outer Space Is Closer Than You Think

1971japanspaceencyclopedia03 Sometimes strange and wondrous things are closer than we realize. For instance, did you know that space is only an hour's drive away, if you somehow drove your car straight upwards? Perhaps someday you will. Via kottke.org:
Space always seems so far away and much of it actually is. But space is actually quite close to where we are all sitting right now. The Kármán line, the commonly accepted boundary between the Earth’s atmosphere and space, is only 62 miles above sea level. A distance of 62 miles can covered by a car on the interstate in less than an hour. Stable Earth orbits are achievable at only 100 miles above the Earth, with the ISS and Space Shuttles usually orbiting at a height of ~200 miles.
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