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Submission + - German scientists confirm NASA results of propellantless 'impossible' EM drive->

MarkWhittington writes: Hacked Magazine reported that a group of German scientists believe that they have confirmed that the EM Drive, the propulsion device that uses microwaves rather than rocket fuel, provides thrust. The experimental results are being presented at the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics' Propulsion and Energy Forum in Orlando by Martin Tajmar, a professor and chair for Space Systems at the Dresden University of Technology. Tajmar has an interest in exotic propulsion methods, including one concept using “negative matter.”
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Submission + - A lunar geologist gives a reality check for NASA funded return to the moon study->

MarkWhittington writes: The study that suggested that American astronauts could return to the moon by 2021 for $10 billion has caused rare excitement in the media though perhaps a little bemusement as well. Officially, due to a presidential mandate, NASA has eschewed a return to the moon. Of course, presidencies and thus space policy mandates change. In any event, Paul Spudis, a lunar geologist who frequently writes about space policy and is an advocate of a return to the moon, provided a reality check for the proposal.

One the one hand. Dr. Spudis noted with approval the plan’s emphasis on the mining of lunar water and its refining into rocket fuel. He has helped develop a plan to do just that, which the NASA-funded proposal seems to have borrowed heavily from.

However, Spudis has some objections to the plan.

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Submission + - Ted Cruz is a 'Star Trek' fan and that is a good thing->

MarkWhittington writes: Just to prove that he is a multifaceted character, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas sat down for an interview for the New York Times Magazine and opened his mind, not on matters of high policy, but on comic books and science fiction. As a lad, he liked Spiderman and Han Solo. But it is in the realm of “Star Trek” that the presidential candidate may have created some controversy for himself. He very much prefers Captain James Kirk to Captain Jean-Luc Picard. There are Star Trek fans who will argue passionately for either Enterprise skipper. But then again, some Trek fans will fight over what angle Spock’s ears protrude from his temples.
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Submission + - NASA funded moon base study gives Newt Gingrich the last laugh->

MarkWhittington writes: Thus far, the NASA-funded study that suggests that American moon boots could be on the lunar surface by 2021 for $10 billion, which was rolled out not coincidentally on the 46th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, has not gotten any reaction from politicians. But, Newt Gingrich, former House Speaker and former presidential candidate, must be feeling a kind of bittersweet vindication. When he ran for president in 2012, he proposed building a commercial moon base and ran into a withering barrage of ridicule that sank his candidacy.
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Submission + - NASA funded study states people could be on the moon by 2021 for $10 billion->

MarkWhittington writes: The Houston Chronicle reported that NextGen Space LLC has released the results of a study that suggests that if the United States were to choose to do space in some new and creative ways, American moon boots could be on the lunar surface by 2021. The cost from the authorization to the first crewed lunar landing would be just $10 billion. The study was partly funded by NASA and was reviewed by the space agency and commercial space experts.
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Submission + - A $5 trillion asteroid passed by Earth->

MarkWhittington writes: It’s not every day that over $5 trillion passes by, just of reach. But that is exactly what happened Sunday night, according to Forbes. An asteroid with the innocuous name of 2011 UW158 passed the Earth at a distance of 1.5 million miles before moving back out into deep space. The reason the rock is so valuable is that it has a 90 million ton core of platinum group metals. If someone had managed to divert it into a safe orbit around the Earth and had started to mine it, that person would have become the richest in human history, with access to wealth greater than most nations.
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Submission + - Company aims to launch spacecraft on beams of microwaves->

MarkWhittington writes: The quest for cheap access to space, to make space travel as inexpensive as air travel, has eluded engineers, government policy makers, and business entrepreneurs from before the beginning of the space age. It has become axiomatic, almost to the point of being a cliché, that the true space age will not begin until launch costs come down significantly. Forbes reported about a company called Escape Dynamics that has a unique approach to the problem. The company proposes to launch payloads into low Earth orbit on beams of microwaves.
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Submission + - Could there be a joint 'US Iran space mission in the future?'->

MarkWhittington writes: 40 years ago on Friday, an American Apollo spacecraft and a Soviet Soyuz spacecraft docked in low Earth orbit in the climax of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project mission. The mission was conceived as a symbol of the détente policy enacted by President Richard Nixon as well as a test of a common docking mechanism between the two spacecraft. The famous handshake between Soviet cosmonauts and American astronauts was considered by some to be an amicable end to the Cold War era space race. The anniversary inspired Iranian-American businesswoman and space advocate Anousheh Ansari to tweet Friday, “Hey may be there will be a US Iran space mission in the future!”
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Submission + - Scientists develop a seaweed that is healthier than kale but tastes like bacon->

MarkWhittington writes: One of the science breakthroughs that truly suggest that we are in the 21st Century is the development of seaweed that is healthier than kale and yet, when fried, tastes like bacon, according to a story in Gizmag. Thus, modern science seems to have combined two trendy foods, one that is healthy but is at best an acquired taste and the other that is delicious beyond the dreams of gluttony but is also a cardiologist’s dream.
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Submission + - 'Pluto Truthers' are pretty sure that the NASA New Horizons mission was faked->

MarkWhittington writes: Forget about Apollo moon landing hoax theories. That is so 20th Century. Gizmodo reported that the “Pluto Truthers” have followed the astonishing images being sent back by NASA’s New Horizons probe and have come to the conclusion that they are faked. After all, if the space agency could fake the entire moon landing, it would be child’s play to fake a robotic probe to the edge of the Solar System.
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Submission + - NASA's New Horizons has a close encounter with Pluto->

MarkWhittington writes: The New Horizons Twitter feed announced early Tuesday that the NASA space probe has passed by its closest approach of Pluto, the dwarf planet at the edge of the solar system, at a distance of 7,800 miles. The historic event happened at 7:50 a.m. Eastern time. However, as Wired noted, the event is not the end but the beginning of what will be a steady stream of data and images from New Horizons. The probe spent the close encounter with Pluto with its instruments fully focused on the dwarf planet. Tuesday evening it will send back telemetry to Earth indicating whether all is well. Scientific data will stream back, according to Wired, at an agonizingly slow rate of two kilobytes per second, taking four hours to get to Earth. Data and images will stream in for the next 19 months. Scientists will be analyzing the data for many years.
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Submission + - NASA's New Horizons focuses on Pluto's largest moon Charon->

MarkWhittington writes: New Horizons has already discovered much of what was previously unknown about Pluto, the dwarf planet that is the former ninth planet from the sun. NASA reported that the space probe has also uncovered some of the secrets of Pluto’s largest moon, Charon. It has found indications of impact craters on the moon’s gray surface as well as a chasm that seems to be bigger than the Grand Canyon on Earth. Charon has a diameter of just 1440 miles. Bu contrast, Earth has a diameter of 7918 miles.
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Submission + - Boeing patents an engine run by laser generated fusion explosions->

MarkWhittington writes: Boeing has had a patent approved for an aircraft engine that uses laser generated nuclear fusion as a power source, according to a story in Business Insider. The idea is already generating a great deal of controversy, according to the website Counter Punch. The patent has generated fears of what might happen if an aircraft containing radioactive material as fuel were to crash, spreading such fuel across the crash site.
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Submission + - Presidential candidate Jeb Bush proposes more funding for NASA->

MarkWhittington writes: According to a story in the Huffington Post, former Florida governor and current presidential candidate Jeb Bush suggested that if he were elected president he would increase funding for NASA, pronouncing himself a “space guy.” Bush made this statement at a meeting with the New Hampshire Union Leader’s editorial board. This makes Bush the second presidential candidate, after Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, to express an opinion about the space program.

Bush did not expand on this singular statement. Questions concerning NASA’s support for commercial space and where astronauts should go beyond low-Earth orbit, the moon, Mars, and/or Earth approaching asteroids, were left unanswered for the time being

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Submission + - As Google tests its driverless cars in Austin, the age of autonomous taxis nears->

MarkWhittington writes: The Wall Street Journal reported that Google has started testing its self-driving car in Austin, Texas. These cars, equipped with a suite of sensors and GPS transponders, have started rolling around an area northeast and north of downtown Austin. The purpose of the test drives is to see if the car’s software works in driving conditions outside of California and to develop a detailed map of Austin city streets. Each self-driving car has two human drivers ready to assume manual control if something goes wrong.
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