New Speed Record

Artist's impression of the Parker Solar Probe on approach to the Sun
Artist’s impression of the Parker Solar Probe on approach to the Sun
NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Steve Gribben (illustration)

Launched in 2018 on a mission to study the Sun from close proximity, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe continues to edge closer and closer to its target, setting one new record after another. The latest came during a close approach today, where the spacecraft exceeded blistering speeds of 330,000 mph (532,000 km/h) as it began its eighth loop of the Sun. read more

Does the Mars Helicopter need a Designator and Call Sign?

Artist's rendering of Ingenuity and the Perseverance rover
Artist’s rendering of Ingenuity and the Perseverance rover
NASA/Caltech

NASA’s Ingenuity is no longer just the world’s most expensive hobby helicopter. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has given an official flight designator and call-sign codes for the robotic rotorcraft and the Wright Brothers Field in Jezero Crater on the Red Planet.

read more

Weapon Wednesday – Astronauts with Assault Rifles?

m16
YouTube/Apple TV+
  • The second season of the Apple TV+ series For All Mankind shows U.S. Marines in space using M16s.
  • Astronauts probably wouldn’t use real M16s in space—but they could still use guns.
  • Low gravity and crazy temperature swings would make traditional guns inoperable in space. read more

Unlocking the World’s First Computer

Exploded model of the Cosmos gearing of the Antikythera Mechanism
Exploded model of the Cosmos gearing of the Antikythera Mechanism
©2020 Tony Freeth

A team of scientists at the University College London has shed new light on the Antikythera Mechanism – the world’s first computer and one of the ancient world’s greatest technological mysteries. Using new imaging data, the multidisciplinary UCL Antikythera Research Team found that the 2,000-year-old device was not only a calculator, but an accurate model of the Cosmos as it was known to the ancient Greeks. read more

Is Warp-Drive One Step Closer

An astrophysicist has outlined a theoretical warp drive design that doesn't require exotic physics
An astrophysicist has outlined a theoretical warp drive design that doesn’t require exotic physics

Faster-than-light (FTL) travel is a staple of sci-fi, hand-waving away multi-millennia journeys between stars. Such a technology would of course be incredibly handy to us in the real world, and while these “warp drives” have been considered theoretically possible, they usually involve exotic physics that are out of our reach. Now, astrophysicist Erik Lentz has outlined a new theoretical design that could allow FTL travel based on conventional physics. read more

The Solar System’s First Luxury Space Hotel

The Voyager Space Station would be a 700-foot diameter rotating ring space station, spinning slowly to create artificial gravity roughly equal to that on the moon
The Voyager Space Station would be a 700-foot diameter rotating ring space station, spinning slowly to create artificial gravity roughly equal to that on the moon
Orbital Assembly Corporation

California’s Orbital Assembly Corporation reckons it will soon have the solar system’s first luxury space hotel open in orbit, offering spacewalks, Beyonce concerts and fine dining to space tourists at US$5 million for three and a half days. read more

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.

read more

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.

 

read more

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.

 

read more

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