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Private Sector Space Race

A private spaceflight company owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos plans to build a powerful new rocket engine in Alabama for space flight, the company and state officials announced Monday.

Blue Origin President Robert Meyerson said his company is seeking a production contract with United Launch Alliance, a private company that provides satellite launches for the U.S. government and others.

He said the company will locate a production factory for the BE-4 rocket engine in Huntsville upon a contract being signed.

Jeff Bezos rocket firm Blur Origin plans to build a powerful new rocket engine in Alabama for space flight, the company and state officials have announced.

According to the company’s website, the powerful BE-4 engine is designed to end dependence on Russian-built engines for launching payloads into space. read more

Time to Clean up Space

Artist's concept of a magnetic tug nearing a derelict satellite
Artist’s concept of a magnetic tug nearing a derelict satellite (Credit: ESA/Philippe Ogaki)

An ESA-funded scientist is developing a magnetic space tug to combat the growing problem of space debris. The tugs could lock onto derelict satellites and deorbit them before they become a hazard to navigation, and because they use cryogenic magnets, they wouldn’t have to even touch the derelicts and the targets wouldn’t need to be specially modified for towing. read more

Paul Allen’s New Plane

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen unveiled the world’s largest aircraft on Wednesday.

The massive plane rolled out by Allen’s aerospace firm, Stratolaunch Systems, features the longest wingspan of any aircraft ever built, according to Popular Mechanics.

With a wingspan of 385 feet, the six-engine plane will be larger than Howard Hughes’ 1947 H-4 Hercules, known as the ‘Spruce Goose,’ and the Antonov An-225, a Soviet-era cargo plane originally built to transport the Buran space shuttle that is currently the world’s largest aircraft.

The Stratolaunch is an aircraft that is designed to carry rockets between its two fuselages.

In 2011, the project’s cost was initially estimated to be at $300million, though there is no word as to the updated figures.

After the plane reaches altitude, it would then drop the launch vehicle, which will subsequently fire its boosters and launch into space from the air.

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Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen unveiled the world's largest aircraft on Wednesday. The massive plane rolled out by Allen's aerospace firm, Stratolaunch Systems, features the longest wingspan of any aircraft ever built

Drones for Mars Exploration

The European Space Agency (ESA) has developed a ‘crash-proof’ drone to fly on missions to Mars and beyond.

The new drones could one day help Martian settlers explore lava tubes on the planet by mapping out tight spots that humans cannot reach.

The drone, surrounded by a protective spherical cage and equipped with thermal cameras, deliberately bumps into its surroundings in order to build a 3D-map.

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The European Space Agency (ESA) has developed a 'crash-proof' drone (pictured) to fly on missions to Mars and beyond. It is pictured being tested in a cave in Sicily

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Cash Register of Mars

From skulls to beer bottles, conspiracy theorists claim to have spotted a range of weird and wonderful items on the surface of Mars.

And the latest alleged ‘sighting’ suggests that there may be a cash register or typewriter on the red planet.

Images taken by the NASA rover show a dark patch on the surface that vaguely resembles a cash register – although it is likely to just be a rock.

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Images snapped by the Nasa rover show a dark patch on the surface that vaguely resembles a cash register ¿ although it is likely to just be a rock.

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Mars Mini-City on Horizon

The UAE turned the heads of space exploration fans everywhere earlier this year when it announced its plans to build a mini-city on Mars in the next century.

Officials have since released few details on the project, which is part of its 100-year national programme to better understand the red planet.

But yesterday a key figurehead of the ambitious plans said that the UAE is prepared to join the ‘new space race’ and that young Arab people will lead the mission.

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In February the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced its plans to set up Mars' first mini city by 2117. This computer generated concept image shows released by the Dubai Media Office shows what the colony could look like
In February the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced its plans to set up Mars’ first mini city by 2117. This computer generated concept image shows released by the Dubai Media Office shows what the colony could look like.

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Strangest Planets

There's an entire universe of weird and wonderful exoplanets out there, and New Atlas is rounding ...
There’s an entire universe of weird and wonderful exoplanets out there, and New Atlas is rounding up some of the most bizarre (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

For a long time, Earth was the weirdest planet we knew about. In our little corner of the universe, where Mercury is the hot one, Jupiter is the protective bigger brother, and Pluto is the one we kicked out of the club for breaking the rules, Earth is the crazy cat lady, hoarding billions of life forms. read more

Virgin Space Plane

VSS Unity returning from its feather test flight
VSS Unity returning from its feather test flight (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity suborbital spacecraft took to the skies over the Mojave desert in an unpowered flight test of the ship’s feather re-entry system. Piloted by Mark Stucky and Mike Masucci, the glide test is the fourth independent flight and the eighth total flight of the craft, which is designed to carry paying passengers on brief excursions to the edge of space. read more

New Meteorite Discovered

Ost 65 is the black fossil meteorite at the center of this image, embedded in slate ...
Ost 65 is the black fossil meteorite at the center of this image, embedded in slate in a Swedish quarry (Credit: Qing-zhu Yin, UC Davis)

About 470 million years ago, two asteroids smashed into each other in outer space and shattered into multitudinous pieces. Many of those pieces rained down on Earth over the course of a million years as meteorites, and have become well-known by scientists. But the other space rock involved in the cosmic head-on collision has never been known – until now, thanks to the discovery of a meteorite that’s never been seen before on our planet. read more

There’s Just Too Much Space Junk

Millions of objects floating in orbit around the planet could one day lead to a disastrous collision in space.

That is the concern of the European Space Agency, that is hoping to tackle the growing problem of space debris.

It fears could one day lead to an impact like an ‘exploding grenade’ on the objects in space, such as the International Space Station (ISS).

Experts believe the junk could leave regions of space unsuitable for space flight and are holding an international meeting next week to address the issue head on.

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Experts from the European Space Agency have warned that millions of objects floating in orbit around the planet could one day lead to a collision like an 'exploding grenade' in space - similar to scenes from the Hollywood blockbuster Gravity
Experts from the European Space Agency have warned that millions of objects floating in orbit around the planet could one day lead to a collision like an ‘exploding grenade’ in space – similar to scenes from the Hollywood blockbuster Gravity

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