As part of the Christmas celebrations, NORAD (North American Aerospace Defence Command) is attempting to track Father Christmas (Santa Claus) as he makes his way around the world on his sleigh, delivering presents to all the good children. The site can be found here.
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Elon Musk, the billionaire Internet, clean energy and rocket entrepreneur who made his initial fortunes in the internet business, most noticeably via his interest in the sale of the Paypal business, has just added to his wealth via the public sale of the solar generation leasing firm, Solar City, in which he had a shareholding.
There has been much tabloid interest in what is a re-release of the revelation originally made by the protect’s leader Leonard Reiffel in 2000, that the US Air Force had once considered exploding an atom bomb on the surface of the moon. The plan, as part of Project A119 “A study of Lunar Research Flights” was thought up in the late 1950s to be “shot across the bows” of the Soviet Union after its Sputnik satellite launch. The demonstrqation which would have included he explosion’s flash being visible from Earth was also planned to be morale booster for the US general public. The young astrophysicist Carl Sagan was part of the team predicting the effects of the bomb.
ESA really had three choices with respect to its launch vehicle development: it could built the Ariane 5 ME which might buy a little more time for Arianespace; or It could develop the module expendable (and cheaper) Ariane 6 rocket; or it could go for a full scale reusable or partially reusable rocket design. Each option had downsides.
While speaking at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London in November, the billionaire former Paypal Internet executive, Tesla electric car entrepreneur, and current Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) CEO and self-taught lead rocket engineer, Elon Musk, described his plan to enable a self-sustaining human colony on the planet Mars. This plan is to use reusable rockets and along with Mars landing and ascent craft to take mankind to Mars within 15 years. And to do it Musk announced that liquid oxygen (Lox) and Methane would be SpaceX’s principal propellants of choice.
While the latest James Bond adventure Skyfall (Director: Sam Mendes) does use a lot of ‘Big Brother’ surveillance technology to make us fret about the future (GPS tracking, Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras, networked CCTV cameras with facial recognition) it does not make special use of space technology in its plot. We can be grateful for that. At least it will avoid “errors” that past Bond films have made with respect to space technology.
History: UK gave up impressive space programme including plans to launch UK astronauts “just to get into Europe”
There will be sadness in those “space cadets” in the United Kingdom of all ages as we note that new evidence has come to light showng just how advanced the main space launch programme in the United Kingdom promised to be before it was ignominiously cancelled in July 1960.
Opinion: The madness of imprisoning earthquake scientists may halt satellite seismic forecasting research
To world scientific dismay, on 22 October, seven scientists working at the Italian National Commission for the Forecast and Prevention of Major Risks received jail terms of six years for “negligence” and “manslaughter” in failing to provide adequate warning of the earthquake that struck the Italian city of L’Aquila on 6 April 2009.
As reported by Flightglobal, the US Air Force has now its its back on liquid-fuelled flyback boosters as it shut down its Reusable Rocket Booster programme due to budget cuts. This total halt, which included its Pathfinder technology demonstrator programme, is actually against the advice of the US National Research Council. In a report, the council doubted the business case for going into full operation with boosters but noted that the research should at least continue.
NASA has released Schlieren photographs of a supersonic wind tunnel test of a scale test model of the initial 70 tonne capable Block 1 configuration of the Space Launch System (SLS), The tests have been taking place in the Trisonic wind tunnel at the NASA Marshall Spaceflight Center. The Schlieren imaging system allows shadows to be cast by changes in refractive indexes caused by density gradients in a fluid to be projected and imaged. It is usually used to check aircraft and launch vehicle configurations for shock interactions and air flow instabilities at various attitudes.
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- Hyperbola space news blog moves to www.seradata.com
- Antares 120 launch vehicle successfully lofts Cygnus cargo craft plus a Flock of Dove satellites (Corrected)
- International Space Station gets new lease of life as ESA eyes Dream Chaser to get there
- Solaris is sold to Echostar as it builds an S-band business
- SpaceX has another commercial flight success with Falcon 9 v1.1 launch of Thaicom-6
- Bill on India’s unmanned Mars mission announcement causes backlash
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