The CubeSat Satellite to Harness Earth’s Magnetic Field

Artist's concept of MiTEE-1
Artist’s concept of MiTEE-1
University of Michigan

A student-built CubeSat from the University of Michigan will investigate whether small satellites can be maintained in low Earth orbit without thrusters or propellant. Scheduled to launch from the Mojave Air and Space Port on Virgin Orbit’s Launch Demo 2 on January 10, 2020, the Miniature Tether Electrodynamics Experiment-1 (MiTEE-1) will test the concept of using the Earth’s magnetic field to generate thrust.

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No Ordinary Gravel – It’s from an Asteroid

Chamber A of Hayabusa2's sample catcher shows material collected from the surface of asteroid Ryugu
Chamber A of Hayabusa2’s sample catcher shows material collected from the surface of asteroid Ryugu
JAXA

It’s rare that gravel gets scientists so excited, but these are no ordinary rocks. They’re the samples returned to Earth by Hayabusa2 after its 5.24-billion-km round trip to asteroid Ryugu, and this is our first glimpse at them after the spacecraft landed in the Australian Outback on December 6 and its sample container was transported to Japan.

 

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SpaceX Boosters will not Land – They’ll be Caught

SpaceX is planning to catch its Super Heavy booster (left) using the launch tower arm
SpaceX is planning to catch its Super Heavy booster (left) using the launch tower arm
Spacex via Instagram

SpaceX has been making controlled landings of its Falcon 9 boosters to allow them to be reused for a number of years now. Such landings involve the rockets touching down, be it on a boat or a launch pad, using legs built into the rocket. But SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk has revealed different plans for the Falcon 9’s bigger sibling, the Super Heavy, announcing the intention to have the launch tower arm catch the booster.

 

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Rocket Booster from 1966 May be Returning Home

A model of the Surveyor lander, whose booster may have taken up a temporary orbit around Earth
A model of the Surveyor lander, whose booster may have taken up a temporary orbit around Earth
NASA/JPL-Caltech

A relic of the 1960s Space Race may be paying Earth a brief visit with NASA announcing that a rocket booster from the 1966 Surveyor 2 robotic Moon lander mission is suspected to have returned from deep space and taken up temporary orbit around the Earth. read more

Rocket Lab to Catch Booster in Mid Air

Rocket Lab has big plans when it comes to recovering its boosters
Rocket Lab has big plans when it comes to recovering its boosters
Rocket Lab

Last year, we saw some details start to emerge around Rocket Lab’s vision to recover its spacecraft for reuse, plans that involved catching part of its Electron booster in mid-air with a helicopter. The private company is set to take an important step toward this objective, announcing that it will make its first attempt to recover the rocket’s first stage during a mission scheduled for later this month.

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Water on the Moon?

Astronomers have detected molecular water on the Moon
Astronomers have detected molecular water on the Moon
NASA/Goddard/Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

Astronomers have detected water on the Moon. While that statement might sound all too familiar in recent years, previous reports were based on spectral signatures that could have been other related compounds – this time, the detection is unambiguously water, in the molecular form we need.

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A Quicker Commute to Mars?

The concept engine is twice as efficient as chemical rockets
The concept engine is twice as efficient as chemical rockets
USNC-Tech

Seattle-based Ultra Safe Nuclear Technologies (USNC-Tech) has developed a concept for a new Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (NTP) engine and delivered it to NASA. Claimed to be safer and more reliable than previous NTP designs and with far greater efficiency than a chemical rocket, the concept could help realize the goal of using nuclear propulsion to revolutionize deep space travel, reducing Earth-Mars travel time to just three months

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A 3-D Printed Moon Base

Project Olympus is a collaboration between BIG, 3D-printing firm Icon, Search+ and NASA's Marshall Space Center
Project Olympus is a collaboration between BIG, 3D-printing firm Icon, Search+ and NASA’s Marshall Space Center
BIG

The Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has conceived some of the most interesting architecture projects we’ve seen on land, and even water, but its latest design is out of this world – literally. It involves the development of 3D-printed Moon habitats that could be used to support the human exploration of Earth’s satellite.

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Toyota’s Lunar Cruiser

Artist's concept of the JASA/Toyota lunar rover
Artist’s concept of the JASA/Toyota lunar rover
JAXA

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Toyota Motor Corporation have released the official nickname for their manned pressurized, long-range lunar rover that is powered by fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) technology. It’s been dubbed the Lunar Cruiser.

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Weapon Wednesday – What is Spacepower?

us space force

U.S. SPACE FORCE
  • The U.S. Space Force has articulated the meaning of “spacepower,” likely the most important definition in the new service’s mission.
  • Spacepower is everything from sensors on the ground that peek at satellites to reconnaissance, communications, and navigation satellites in space.
  • “Spacepower” doesn’t include armed spaceships … yet.

The U.S. Space Force has finally articulated its vision of “spacepower.” The service’s new Space Capstone doctrine describes spacepower as what military systems will be used to further American power on Earth. While spacepower doesn’t currently include actual spaceships and laser guns, that’s probably just a matter of time. read more