Category: spacecraft

June 4, 2019 Off

NASA research crew embarks on mock mission to Mars moon

By Jill T Frey

Space is hard on humans — it’s just not what we’re used to, because it’s very unlike this Earth most of us generally occupy for most of our lives. That’s why researchers do plenty of experimentation to figure out what it’s like for people to live and work in space, like a new experiment underway as of May 24 in which a crew of four will be isolated in a spacecraft for 45 days living and working together — but without ever leaving the confines of our planet.

In fact, the crew, which consists of Barret Schlegelmilch, Christian Clark, Ana Mosquera and Julie Mason, won’t even leave the confines of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. But that’s the point — confined living and working space, for a simulated mission to Phobos, one of Mars’ two moons. The experiment is what NASA calls a “Human Exploration Research Analog,” which is … Read the rest

June 4, 2019 Off

NASA’s Space Launch System passes key milestone for Moon mission

By Jill T Frey

NASA is celebrating a key step towards its mission to get people back to the Moon: The first large core rocket stage that will power the new Space Launch System being built by contractor Boeing is now four-fifths assembled. Wait – did I just say four-fifths? So like this stage isn’t even complete?

No, it’s not – but when it comes to building gigantic rocket cores that will propel the Orion crewed spacecraft all the way to the Moon in time for the Artemis program’s target date of 2024, you celebrate when you take any significant step forward.

Also, remember we’re talking about four-fifths of a rocket stage that when complete, will be over 200 feet long including engines and fuel tanks, which NASA helpfully points out is approximately the length of a dozen cars parked back-to-back. It’s the biggest rocket NASA will have built since the Saturn V … Read the rest

May 21, 2019 Off

Seraphim Space Camp launches its latest mission, with 7 SpaceTech startups

By Jill T Frey

U.K. space accelerator Seraphim Space Camp appeared last year as the first ever UK SpaceTech accelerator and being, frankly, the only accelerator of its type, it has quickly shored-up a number of partnership links and hoovered up many of the startups in the… space.

As is traditional with accelerators, it’s unveiled its latest cohort of startups.

The “Mission 3” accelerator programme, consists of seven new startups and will be a nine-week programme, culminating in an Investor Day. The first two cohorts (16 companies) have, says Seraphim, now collectively raised or had offers of around £20m in private investment and grants over the last nine months and have created 58 job opportunities since completing the programme.

The initiative has a number of high profile partners such as MoD’s Defence Science and Technology Lab (Dstl), unmanned aircraft systems company AeroVironment, ground station services provider Kongsberg Satellite Services and leading satellite provided Eutelsat. … Read the rest

May 13, 2019 Off

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon is having trouble — and that’s okay

By Jill T Frey

We may be poised on the precipice of a new era of spaceflight, but leaping prematurely off it would be a costly mistake — which is why the delays and failures of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, the new spacecraft that will likely be soonest to take humans to space, are a matter for concern but not worry. In space, you expect the unexpected.

The sudden explosion of a Crew Dragon test capsule is frightening and frankly embarrassing to a company so heavily focused on an image of futurity and reliability. And a failed parachute deployment doesn’t inspire confidence either. But any historian of the space industry will tell you it’s rare that something with rockets on it doesn’t blow up at some point during development.

The Commercial Crew program was established back in 2010 with the goal of sending a crewed mission to the International Space Station, aboard a new spacecraft, … Read the rest

May 9, 2019 Off

Jeff Bezos aims Blue Origin at the Moon

By Jill T Frey

Today at a packed event blocks from the White House, Jeff Bezos took the stage in front of select members of the media, executives, government officials and a gaggle of middle schoolers to reveal new details of his plan to get to the Moon by 2024

Blue Origin is going to send humans to space on New Shepard later this year and has unveiled a lunar lander, called “Blue Moon,” to access the resource-rich lunar surface, Bezos said.

Setting the stage with Neil Armstrong’s famous words as the first man to walk on the moon, Bezos took to the stage to explain his vision of answering a very simple question. Given the finite resources available to humanity, “where would a trillion humans live?”

It’s a vision that Bezos has articulated before.

For Bezos, the only impediment to this space … Read the rest

May 2, 2019 Off

SpaceX confirms its Dragon crew capsule exploded in testing

By Jill T Frey

For the first time after a video of an exploding Dragon capsule leaked in late April, SpaceX confirmed the spacecraft’s destruction during testing. In statements made today, SpaceX’s vice president of mission assurance Hans Koenigsmann provided a little insight on the mysterious ground test gone wrong.

As CNBC reports, Koenigsmann said during a press event that it is “too early” to determine the cause but noted that the capsule exploded as its SuperDraco thruster system was being fired up:

At the test stand we powered up Dragon and it powered up as expected. We completed tests with the Draco thrusters – the Draco thrusters are the smaller thrusters that are also on Dragon 1, the Cargo Dragon. We fired them in two sets, each for five seconds, and that went very well. And just prior before we wanted to fire the SuperDraco there was an anomaly and the vehicle

Read the rest