Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Monday, May 30, 2011
The space shuttle Endeavour is on its last voyage to space. The next to last space shuttle flight is scheduled to land at Kennedy Space Center at 1:35 a.m. EDT on Wednesday morning June 1, 2011.
Mawrth Vallis is a valley on Mars with an ancient water outflow channel with light-colored clay-rich rocks. It was formed in and subsequently covered by layered rocks, from beneath which it is now being exhumed.
The Mawrth Vallis region holds special interest because of the presence of phyllosilicate (clay) minerals which form only if water is available, first identified in data from the OMEGA spectrometer on the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter.
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars has identified aluminium-rich and iron-rich clays, each with a unique distribution. Some of the clays recently discovered by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter are montmorillonite and kaolinite, and nontronite.
Clays minerals easily preserve microscopic life on Earth, so perhaps traces of ancient life may be found at Mawrth.
JWST is optimized to detect infrared light, using a segmeted mirror more than 6 m in diameter and operating a million miles away in the cold, dark environment of Earth's Lagrange 2 point. It will carry four science instruments covering wavelengths from 0.6 to 28 microns.
In the video talk linked above, Dr. Heidi B. Hammel (JWST Interdisciplinary Scientist) reviewed JWST's scientific objectives, its hardware and technology development, and the predicted system performance. She also provided an overview of the review of JWST that was commissioned by Congress, and discuss the current status of the project.
Sunday, May 29, 2011
STS-135 Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley and Mission Specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim will take questions outside Kennedy's news center while Atlantis moves in the background from the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) to Launch Pad 39A.
Atlantis' first motion out of the VAB is scheduled for 8 p.m. NASA TV will provide live video of the start of the move, known as rollout, and then switch to the crew media event.
Friday, May 27, 2011
Thursday, May 26, 2011
The study found 100 times more water in the beads than has been measured before, and suggests that the Moon once held a Caribbean Sea-sized volume of water while casting doubt on aspects of theories of how the Moon first formed.
It is widely thought that a Mars-sized object slammed into the Earth just as it was forming, throwing out a disc of fragmented, molten material that eventually coalesced into the Moon. Nonetheless, the new study is beginning to shedding light on how much water is contained in the Moon's interior, which in turn gives hints as to how - and from what - it formed.
Designated a part of the Administration's “Opportunity at Work” legislation, SB1447 offered by State Senator William C. Wampler, Jr. (R-Bristol), directs revenues to the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority to support the expansion of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport and to support human spaceflight in this decade. Wampler, a leading legislator in support of the spaceport, successfully obtained passage of Virginia's Zero-Gravity, Zero-Tax measure in 2008.
JFK Library Releases Audio of President Kennedy and NASA Administrator Jim Webb Discussing the Race to Moon in 1963
Over two years later, President Kennedy is confronted with the financial burden that he predicted in 1961 and, in the conversation with Webb, expresses concern over what Congress and the public would see as the high cost of the space program. The President also discusses the challenges he foresees in trying to maintain the American public's interest in space exploration when, in fact, there would not be a moon landing during his presidency. He says, "I mean if the Russians do some tremendous feat, then it would stimulate interest again, but right now space has lost a lot of its glamour."
"President Kennedy was both a visionary and a realist," said Kennedy Library Archivist Maura Porter. "He understood the necessity of having both public and Congressional support if his vision of landing a man on the moon was to become a reality before the end of the 1960's."
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Spirit last communicated on March 22, 2010, as Martian winter approached and the rover's solar-energy supply declined. The rover operated for more than six years after landing in January 2004 for what was planned as a three-month mission. NASA checked frequently in recent months for possible reawakening of Spirit as solar energy available to the rover increased during Martian spring. A series of additional re-contact attempts ended today, designed for various possible combinations of recoverable conditions, NASA noted in the announement.
Seventeen lost pyramids are among the buildings identified in a new satellite survey of Egypt. More than 1,000 tombs and 3,000 ancient settlements were also revealed by looking at infra-red images which show up underground buildings. Initial excavations have already confirmed some of the findings including two suspected pyramids, notes BBC reporter Frances Cronin.
EXTRAORDINARY TIMES: On May 25, 1961, United States President John F. Kennedy announced before a special joint session of Congress the dramatic and ambitious goal of sending an American safely to the Moon before the end of the decade. The speech came only days following the first suborbital flight of astronaut Alan B. Shepard, Jr. Kennedy also noted in this speech the need to develop a rover nuclear propulsion for exploration beyond the moon and the far reaches of the solar system.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Monday, May 23, 2011
Sunday, May 22, 2011
The final selection will become the third mission of NASA's New Frontiers program, which was created to further explore our solar system with medium-class spacecraft missions. Below are details about each proposed mission.
The Surface and Atmosphere Geochemical Explorer (SAGE) - This mission to Venus would release a probe to descend through the planet's atmosphere. During descent, instruments would conduct extensive measurements of the atmosphere's composition and obtain meteorological data. The probe then would land on the surface of Venus, where its abrading tool would expose both a weathered and a pristine surface area to measure its composition and mineralogy. Scientists hope to understand the origin of Venus and why it is so different from Earth.
The Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer spacecraft (OSIRIS-REx) - This mission would rendezvous and orbit a primitive asteroid. After extensive measurements, instruments would collect material from the asteroid's surface for return to Earth. The returned samples would help scientists better understand and answer long-held questions about the formation of our solar system and the origin of complex molecules necessary for life.
MoonRise: Lunar South Pole-Aitken Basin Sample Return Mission - This mission would place a lander in the South Pole-Aitken basin near the Moon's south pole and return lunar rocks and soils for study. This region of the lunar surface is believed to harbor rocks excavated from the Moon's mantle. The samples would provide new insight into the early history of the Earth-Moon system.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Friday, May 20, 2011
Free-floating Jupiter size planets are fairly common. Astronomers use a neat trick of Einstein's math to find them. And, no, there aren't any free-range monster-worlds lurking nearby. Credit: SPACE.com/NASA/ESA/Music: Atom Strange
The 70-foot rocket will carry an ORS-1 satellite for the Pentagon. It’s designed to provide “multi-spectral” imaging for combatants on the ground. The Space Development and Test Directorate, in concert with the Operationally Responsive Space Office, is marking a major milestone May 20, 2011 as the ORS-1 space vehicle is approved to ship to NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Va., for integration with a Minotaur I launch vehicle from El Segundo, Calif.
ORS-1 is the first satellite in the DoD’s ORS program designed to support Combatant Command operations as an operational prototype. The payload leverages a SYERS-2 sensor, the primary imaging sensor on the U-2 reconnaissance plane. The ORS-1 payload was built by The Goodrich Corporation, who also served as prime contractor, while the spacecraft bus was built by ATK Spacecraft Systems & Services, Beltsville, Md. It includes an integrated propulsion system as well as other critical subsystems for communications, attitude control, thermal control and command and data handling. ORS-1 will provide crucial battlespace awareness supporting U.S. Central Command.
The launch date remains uncertain, but liftoff should occur sometime this summer.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Telstar 14R is to provide telecommunication services for North and South Americas. The launch contracted by International Launch Services is to be the 65th commercial one for Proton. Roscosmos' Khrunichev Space Center holds majority in ILS.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
The first tests of the Taurus-2 booster is slated to launch to orbit later this year followed by cargo launched to the space station every six months through 2015 by Orbital Sciences Corporation. The spaceport is also in talks with Bigelow Aerospace about possible future human space flights starting from Wallops Island, Va.
"What will be significantly different from the way we've always done it before is that NASA will no longer procure vehicles and operate them for Low Earth Orbit activities. We are going to completely rely on our partners to do that work," Bolden told ABC News reporter Matthew Mosk.
"We'll still have oversight in terms of safety and engineering and the like, but we are not going to over-prescribe what they do and how they do it. They know that we want them to be able to carry humans and cargo to the International Space Station and other places, and we're just going to sit back and let them tell us when they need our help in determining how you do that," the NASA Administrator noted.
"We in turn are going to work with them hand-in-glove in the traditional sense in developing the exploration vehicles, so you will see that the way we operate our exploration beyond Low Earth Orbit will be more in line with the way that we have done Shuttle over the last 20 years and the way that we did the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs, where NASA and the industry team work hand in hand. Industry really built the vehicles, but NASA played a significant role in the design" [of them].
Speaking to the goals of the Obama Administration Bolden said "This President has said he wants us to go to asteroids, eventually to Mars, even back to the Moon as necessary to enable us to get to these distant destinations."
"Humans have not ventured beyond the Moon yet, and it's only been one nation that's ever gone there. If you go back and read Jules Verne or you go back and read people who wrote and dreamed, even before we had the first airplane, people have always wanted to go to deep space, and that's what we're trying to do. That's what President Obama has asked us to do."
Monday, May 16, 2011
Planned for a November 28, 2011 launch aboard an Atlas-V 541 booster rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, the Curiosity rover will perform the first-ever precision landing on Mars. The Curiosity rover will help assess whether Mars ever was, or is still today, an environment able to support microbial life. In other words, its mission is to determine the planet's habitability.
Location is everything when it comes to studying whether Mars ever had conditions that could have been favorable for microbial life. Planetary scientists are down to the final four in seeking to identify the scientific merits of the locations and trying to convince the rest of why the exploration vehicle should land at their preferred spot.
A landing site decision is expected to be finalized in late June or early July 2011 from among:
• Eberswalde crater in the southern hemisphere contains remnants of a river delta;
• Holden crater, close to Eberswalde, is the site of water-carved gullies and sediment deposits;
• Mawrth Vallis is an ancient flood channel in the Martian northern highlands that is rich in clay minerals; and,
• Gale crater located near the Martian equator possesses a 3-mile-high mound of layered mineral deposits.
Readers may vote a preference on the top right of the Spaceports Blog over the next week or so.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Aldrin notes that the American private sector will take over where the American government has left off in space exploration. He notes that the separation of crew from cargo is an important element.
Saturday, May 14, 2011
The nebula, which is the wreckage of an exploded star whose light reached Earth in 1054, is one of the most studied objects in the sky. At the heart of an expanding gas cloud lies what's left of the original star's core, a superdense neutron star that spins 30 times a second. With each rotation, the star swings intense beams of radiation toward Earth, creating the pulsed emission characteristic of spinning neutron stars (also known as pulsars).
The search began on Saturday, May 8, 2011 when the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope – the largest steerable radio telescope in the world – dedicated an hour to eight stars with possible planets. Once UC Berkeley astronomers acquire 24 hours of data on a total of 86 Earth-like planets, they’ll initiate a coarse analysis and then, in about two months, ask an estimated 1 million SETI@home users to conduct a more detailed analysis on their home computers, writes Robert Sanders of UC Berekley with greater details.
Ray Villard, writing at Discovery News, has an interesting take on the Kepler spacecraft data collection as a means to detect alien life.
Friday, May 13, 2011
The agency’s congressionally mandated assessment of the market for the commercial cargo and crew transport to low Earth orbit (LEO) — the centerpiece of U.S. space policy for the post-shuttle era — carries no cost estimates, and is based largely on extrapolated historical data and projections by two firms that aren’t directly involved in building the commercial systems NASA needs to deliver astronauts to the International Space Station, writes Frank Morring, Jr. for Aviation Week.
The bottom-line assessment presented to Congress, as required by the three-year NASA authorization act adopted late last year, is a “lower end” of 44 individual human flights over the report’s 10-year span, and an “upper end” of 329-259 seats to orbit, not counting the eight seats and 26,400 lb. of cargo a year NASA plans to buy to get its astronauts and those of its non-Russian partners to the space station and keep them supplied.
The finding heralds the first direct confirmation of this kind of magma layer at Io and explains why the moon is the most volcanic object known in the solar system. The research was conducted by scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles; the University of California, Santa Cruz;, and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. The study is published this week in the journal Science.
"Scientists are excited we finally understand where Io's magma is coming from and have an explanation for some of the mysterious signatures we saw in some of the Galileo's magnetic field data," said Krishan Khurana, lead author of the study and former co-investigator on Galileo's magnetometer team at UCLA. "It turns out Io was continually giving off a 'sounding signal' in Jupiter's rotating magnetic field that matched what would be expected from molten or partially molten rocks deep beneath the surface."
Io produces about 100 times more lava each year than all the volcanoes on Earth. While Earth's volcanoes occur in localized hotspots like the "Ring of Fire" around the Pacific Ocean, Io's volcanoes are distributed all over its surface. A global magma ocean about 30 to 50 kilometers (20 to 30 miles) beneath Io's crust helps explain the moon's activity, states a NASA press release.
Thursday, May 12, 2011
Albuquerque-based company, Follow the Sun, will lead tours through the Las Cruces facility to give a behind-the-scenes look into space travel, a press release from Spaceport America said.
The spaceport is expected to be open later this year but the first tour starts on Friday, May 13th, and will be held each weekend (including Fridays) in continuum. A three-hour tour will cost $59 for adults and $29 for children under the age of 12.
Meanwhile, The Albuquerque Journal reports that the >"Spaceport Project Hits Bumps."
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
The image from Dawn's framing cameras was taken on May 3, 2011 when the spacecraft began its approach and was approximately 1.21 million kilometers (752,000 miles) from Vesta. The asteroid appears as a small, bright pearl against a background of stars. Vesta is also known as a protoplanet, because it is a large body that almost formed into a planet.
Vesta is 530 kilometers (330 miles) in diameter and the second most massive object in the asteroid belt. Ground- and space-based telescopes obtained images of the bright orb for about two centuries, but with little surface detail.
Mission managers expect Vesta's gravity to capture Dawn in orbit on July 16, 2011. To enter orbit, Dawn must match the asteroid's path around the sun, which requires very precise knowledge of the body's location and speed. By analyzing where Vesta appears relative to stars in framing camera images, navigators will pin down its location and enable engineers to refine the spacecraft's trajectory.
Dawn will start collecting science data in early August at an altitude of approximately 1,700 miles (2,700 kilometers) above the asteroid's surface. As the spacecraft gets closer, it will snap multi-angle images, allowing scientists to produce topographic maps. Dawn will later orbit at approximately 200 kilometers (120 miles) to perform other measurements and obtain closer shots of parts of the surface. Dawn will remain in orbit around Vesta for one year. After another long cruise phase, Dawn will arrive in 2015 at its second destination, Ceres, an even more massive body in the asteroid belt, advises NASA.
Monday, May 09, 2011
Aquarius is a focused satellite mission to measure global Sea Surface Salinity. After its 09-Jun-11 launch, it will provide the global view of salinity variability needed for climate studies. The Aquarius / SAC-D mission is being developed by NASA and the Space Agency of Argentina (Comisión Nacional de Actividades Espaciales, CONAE).
The goal of STORRM is to validate a new relative navigation sensor based on advanced laser and detector technology that will make docking and undocking to the International Space Station and other spacecraft easier and safer. The demonstration is a test-run of the technology, and the STS-134 crew and engineers in mission control will monitor the flight data throughout the mission with specialized STORRM software.
President Obama views China as a potential partner for an eventual human mission to Mars that would be difficult for any single nation to undertake, a senior White House official told lawmakers. Testifying before Congress, White House science adviser John Holdren said near-term engagement with China in civil space will help lay the groundwork for any such future endeavor, noted SpaceNews recently.
This dry run ensured that the Soyuz and the new facilities work together perfectly, while allowing the teams to train under realistic launch conditions. It also validated all the procedures during the final phase before launch, except the fuelling of the vehicle.
The vehicle was transferred from the preparation building to the launch zone and erected into the vertical position. The mobile gantry was then rolled out to the pad and the vehicle's upper composite, comprising the Fregat upper stage and payload fairing, was hoisted on top of the launcher. The campaign ended with a simulated liftoff and flight downrange.
There's no danger of an impact when the asteroid 2005 YU55 makes its close flyby Nov. 8, coming within 201,700 miles (325,000 kilometers) of Earth, scientists told FoxNews.
And, of course, taking out the station's trash, too.
The Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport — or MARS — at NASA's Wallops Island Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore is scheduled to be the launch site for nine unmanned missions related to resupplying the space station through 2015, reports The Richmond Times Dispatch with more from Virginia's capitol city.
Sunday, May 08, 2011
As part of a market sizing exercise for NASA's Commercial Crew Development bid, submitted on behalf of the Boeing Company, Space Adventures estimated that by 2020 approximately 140 more private individuals will have launched to orbital space, with participants that would include private individuals, corporate, university and non-profit researchers, lottery winners and journalists. Destinations would include the ISS (International Space Station), commercial space stations and orbital free-flys.
Eric Anderson, chairman of Space Adventures, noted last week that his firm has been working with Rocket Space Corporation Energia to enhance the Soyuz TMA configuration. Anderson said the most important of the enhancement modifications is the addition of a second habitation module to the Soyuz TMA lunar complex. The additional module would launch with the Block DM propulsion module and rendezvous with the Soyuz spacecraft in low-Earth orbit.
"Space Adventures will once again grace the pages of aerospace history, when the first private circumlunar mission launches. We have sold one of the two seats for this flight and anticipate that the launch will occur in 2015," said Richard Garriott, vice-chairman of Virginia-based Space Adventures. "Having flown on the Soyuz, I can attest to how comfortable the spacecraft is, but the addition of the second habitation module will only make the flight that more enjoyable," Garriott told those listening to a recent teleconference event.
Jupiter's ring shows vertical corrugations reminiscent of those recently detected in the rings of Saturn. The Galileo spacecraft imaged a pair of superimposed ripple patterns in 1996 and again in 2000. These patterns behave as two independent spirals, each winding up at a rate defined by Jupiter's gravity field. The dominant pattern originated between July and October 1994, when the entire ring was tilted by ~2 km.
Dr. Showalter will talk about how he and his colleagues found that the pattern is associated with the Shoemaker-Levy 9 impacts of July 1994. New Horizons images still show this pattern 13 years later and suggest that subsequent events may also have tilted the ring. Dr. Showalter will show that impacts by comets or their dust streams are regular occurrences in planetary rings, altering them in ways that remain detectable decades later.
Humanoid robots could make deep space exploration more feasible. As NASA prepares for Endeavour's last mission, and the final shuttle flight ever by Atlantis in June, space experts are starting to wonder if NASA should rethink its mission. Should future crafts be flown by autonomous bots we control from Earth?
The most advanced humanoid ever created is already in space aboard the International Space Station, after all -- just waiting for instructions and the green "go" light from NASA, reports FoxNews.
Launched on the Discovery space shuttle in February, Robonaut 2 (or R2) is still in parts; only his torso is in space, explained Marty Linn, the GM project manager for R2. (A future mission will bring the rest of his body.)
Saturday, May 07, 2011
The Atlas V rocket carried into orbit the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) GEO-1 satellite. This SBIRS GEO launch begins the replacement of the Defense Support Program (DSP) constellation, which has been in operations since 1960.
SBIRS will provide critical functions for protecting the United States and its allies by supporting four mission areas: Missile Warning (MW), Missile Defense (MD), Battlespace Awareness (BA), and Technical Intelligence (TI).
Friday, May 06, 2011
Fifty years ago today, President John F. Kennedy congratulates astronaut Alan B. Shepard, Jr., on the success of America's first human spaceflight. The ceremony took place on May 6, 1961 on the White House lawn with the original American astronauts, Vice-President Lyndon B. Johnson, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and NASA Administrator James Webb.
Thursday, May 05, 2011
Fifty years ago today, (May 5, 1961), Mercury 3 or Freedom 7 launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Alan B. Shepard, Jr. became the first American astronaut to journey to space in a sub-orbital flight to height 117-miles and down range of 300-miles in the Atlantic ocean. His flight took 15 minutes of which was 5 minutes of weightlessness to set America into space following the 12 April, 1961 launch of Russian Yuri Gagarin to orbit.
NASA Astronaut Shepard later flew to space again as the commander of Apollo 14 landing on the Moon at Fra Maru 5 February 1971 to become the fifth human to walk the lunar surface.
Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter and members of the Shepard family were joined by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, former astronaut Bob Cabana and more than 200 workers from the original Mercury program in celebrating the historic anniversary. The event included a re-creation of Shepard's flight and recovery, as well as a tribute to his contributions as a moonwalker on the Apollo 14 lunar mission.
Wednesday, May 04, 2011
So when I started SpaceX, it was not surprising when people said we wouldn’t succeed. But now that we’ve successfully proven Falcon 1, Falcon 9 and Dragon, there’s been a steady stream of misinformation and doubt expressed about SpaceX’s actual launch costs and prices.
As noted last month by a Chinese government official, SpaceX currently has the best launch prices in the world and they don’t believe they can beat them. This is a clear case of American innovation trumping lower overseas labor rates.
I recognize that our prices shatter the historical cost models of government-led developments, but these prices are not arbitrary, premised on capturing a dominant share of the market, or “teaser” rates meant to lure in an eager market only to be increased later. These prices are based on known costs and a demonstrated track record, and they exemplify the potential of America’s commercial space industry.
The price of a standard flight on a Falcon 9 rocket is $54 million. We are the only launch company that publicly posts this information on our website (www.spacex.com). We have signed many legally binding contracts with both government and commercial customers for this price (or less). Because SpaceX is so vertically integrated, we know and can control the overwhelming majority of our costs. This is why I am so confident that our performance will increase and our prices will decline over time, as is the case with every other technology.
The average price of a full-up NASA Dragon cargo mission to the International Space Station is $133 million including inflation, or roughly $115m in today's dollars, and we have a firm, fixed price contract with NASA for 12 missions. This price includes the costs of the Falcon 9 launch, the Dragon spacecraft, all operations, maintenance and overhead, and all of the work required to integrate with the Space Station. If there are cost overruns, SpaceX will cover the difference. (This concept may be foreign to some traditional government space contractors that seem to believe that cost overruns should be the responsibility of the taxpayer.)
The total company expenditures since being founded in 2002 through the 2010 fiscal year were less than $800 million, which includes all the development costs for the Falcon 1, Falcon 9 and Dragon. Included in this $800 million are the costs of building launch sites at Vandenberg, Cape Canaveral and Kwajalein, as well as the corporate manufacturing facility that can support up to 12 Falcon 9 and Dragon missions per year. This total also includes the cost of five flights of Falcon 1, two flights of Falcon 9, and one up and back flight of Dragon.
The Falcon 9 launch vehicle was developed from a blank sheet to first launch in four and half years for just over $300 million. The Falcon 9 is an EELV class vehicle that generates roughly one million pounds of thrust (four times the maximum thrust of a Boeing 747) and carries more payload to orbit than a Delta IV Medium.
The Dragon spacecraft was developed from a blank sheet to the first demonstration flight in just over four years for about $300 million. Last year, SpaceX became the first private company, in partnership with NASA, to successfully orbit and recover a spacecraft. The spacecraft and the Falcon 9 rocket that carried it were designed, manufactured and launched by American workers for an American company. The Falcon 9/Dragon system, with the addition of a launch escape system, seats and upgraded life support, can carry seven astronauts to orbit, more than double the capacity of the Russian Soyuz, but at less than a third of the price per seat.
SpaceX has been profitable every year since 2007, despite dramatic employee growth and major infrastructure and operations investments. We have over 40 flights on manifest representing over $3 billion in revenues.
These are the objective facts, confirmed by external auditors. Moreover, SpaceX intends to make far more dramatic reductions in price in the long term when full launch vehicle reusability is achieved. We will not be satisfied with our progress until we have achieved this long sought goal of the space industry.
For the first time in more than three decades, America last year began taking back international market-share in commercial satellite launch. This remarkable turn-around was sparked by a small investment NASA made in SpaceX in 2006 as part of the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. A unique public-private partnership, COTS has proven that under the right conditions, a properly incentivized contractor—even an all-American one—can develop extremely complex systems on rapid timelines and a fixed-price basis, significantly beating historical industry-standard costs.
China has the fastest growing economy in the world. But the American free enterprise system, which allows anyone with a better mouse-trap to compete, is what will ensure that the United States remains the world’s greatest superpower of innovation."
Tuesday, May 03, 2011
At the start of this three-month final approach to this massive body in the asteroid belt, Dawn is 1.21 million kilometers (752,000 miles) from Vesta, or about three times the distance between Earth and the moon. During the approach phase, the spacecraft's main activity will be thrusting with a special, hyper-efficient ion engine that uses electricity to ionize and accelerate xenon. The 12-inch-wide ion thrusters provide less thrust than conventional engines, but will provide propulsion for years during the mission and provide far greater capability to change velocity.
"We feel a little like Columbus approaching the shores of the New World," said Christopher Russell, Dawn principal investigator, based at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA). "The Dawn team can't wait to start mapping this Terra Incognita," NASA quoted the scientist in a press release.
Asteroid Vesta is the second largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The largest, Ceres, is four times larger than Vesta. At this time it is not considered a dwarf planet, but the classification will be re-evaluated when NASA’s Dawn spacecraft orbits the asteroid in the summer of 2011. Vesta is the first stop for the Dawn on what will be a historic mission to orbit two planetary bodies in one mission.
Thompson, who joined Orbital Sciences in 1991, will devote his time to overseeing the final development and testing phase of the Taurus II launch vehicle program, Orbital said in a regulatory filing.
Chairman and Chief Executive David Thompson will assume the role of president. The company did not immediately say if or when it would fill the chief operating officer position.
The Taurus II will have its first launch in the fall of this year from the commercial Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport operated by the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority at NASA’s new Wallops Island facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Orbital is under contract with NASA for supply missions to the International Space Station.
Science continues to alter the shape of religious belief, so how does devotion to a god change in orbit? Would long-distance space travel require the use of on-ship burial plots for Jewish or Muslim astronauts? And what happens if the Christian rapture or some comparable end-of-days event were to occur while you're in space? Click to read.
Astrosociology is a relatively new field defined as the study of astrosocial phenomena (i.e., the social, cultural, and behavioral patterns related to outer space). The field originally began as a sociological perspective almost exclusively for a very short time. Almost immediately, however, it became clear that contributions were required from the other social and behavioral sciences, the humanities, and the arts (hereafter referred to as the "social sciences" for brevity).
Thus, from almost the very beginning, astrosociology was intended as both (1) a subdiscipline of sociology and (2) a multidisciplinary field that includes, but is by no means limited to disciplines/fields such as psychology, anthropology, economics, social psychology, political science, space history, space law, space policy, philosophy, as well as the arts. Thus, astrosociology is more inclusive than merely a sociological approach, according to Dr. Jim Pass.