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Submission + - DARPA initiates reusable, aircraft-like spaceship development (

coondoggie writes: Looking to build a hypersonic transport would be the heart of less expensive satellite launch system, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) said it awarded three contracts to being work on the spacecraft. DARPA said Boeing (working with Blue Origin) Masten Space Systems (working with XCOR Aerospace) and Northrop Grumman Corporation (working with Virgin Galactic) would begin phase 1 work on the agency’s Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program that aims to design, build, and demonstrate a reusable Mach 10 aircraft capable of carrying and deploying an upper stage that can place 3,000- 5,000 lb. satellite into low earth orbit (LEO) at a target cost of less than $5M per launch.

Submission + - Navy Research Might Be Key to Space-Based Solar Power

RocketAcademy writes: A researcher at the US Naval Research Laboratory has developed an electronic module that can be used to capture solar energy in space and transmit it to Earth via microwave beam.

NRL has been studying space-based solar-power systems for several years. It has identified a number of possible applications including supplying power to forward bases, synthfuel production, and powering bistatic radars, sensors, and UAVs.

The military, which often pays much higher prices for energy than civilian customers, especially in remote areas, is seen as a possible anchor tenant for space-based solar power.

Submission + - Astronomy Group Throws Tantrum Over Crater Names

RocketAcademy writes: The International Astronomical Union has thrown a tantrum over a plan to crowdsource names for craters on Mars.

The IAU gives official scientific names to craters, but it has only bothered with craters that have "scientific significance." The science-funding platform Uwingu has launched a campaign to come up with popular names for the remaining craters. For as little as $5, a member of the public can name one of the craters on Uwingu's map, with the proceeds going to fund space science and education.

This caused the IAU to issue a statement condemning such crowdsourcing efforts. The IAU pointed out that it did allow the public to vote on names for two of Pluto's moons, in the past. In that case, however, the IAU rejected the winning name (Vulcan).

Submission + - Dream Chaser Damaged in Landing Accident at Edwards AFB

RocketAcademy writes: The test article for Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser spacecraft suffered a landing accident on Saturday when the left main landing gear failed to deploy, causing the vehicle to flip over. NBC News quotes a Sierra Nevada engineer saying that the pilot would have walked away.

Sierra Nevada Corporation is developing the Dream Chaser to support the International Space Station as part of NASA's Commercial Crew and Cargo program. It is not yet known what effect the mishap will have on Dream Chaser development.

A number of rocket vehicles have suffered landing-gear mishaps in the recent past. Several years ago, concerns over spacecraft gear design led to a call for NASA to fund a technology prize for robust, light-weight landing gear concepts.

Comment Re:Seriously? Spaceplanes are a dead-end technolog (Score 1) 75

" A plane that can take off horizontally, burning atmospheric air while accelerating and climbing, which then switches to using its own on-board oxygen in order to reach orbit makes a lot of sense."

Until you look at the physics/economics. Extracting oxygen from the atmosphere isn't free. It shows up as drag, which requires more fuel to overcome. The liquid oxygen in a rocket's propellant tank has already had kinetic energy added to it. The oxygen you get from the atmosphere is at a much lower energy state, so you have to add energy to it. This makes high-speed airbreathers very difficult.

The "massive amounts of oxygen" you are saving are actually quite cheap. Liquid oxygen is one of the cheapest fluids you can buy. Cheaper than bottled water. The idea that it's going to be cheaper to manufacture it in flight than on the ground is inherently flawed. What you save in LOX, you lose in additional fuel. Moreover, the fuel needed to make these schemes work is not hydrocarbon (cheap) but liquid hydrogen (expensive). The structures needed to contain LH2 are also expensive, due to the low propellant density. These factors make airbreathing a non-starter.

Comment Re:SpaceX (Score 1) 75

"I reckon the "real" purpose of the program is to develop a mach-10 air-breathing aircraft"

Certainly not. Hypersonic airbreathers are extremely difficult, and there's an enormous difference between cruise missions (airliners) and acceleration missions (space launch). Airbreathers tend to perform well at a specific velocity (cruise speed) while rockets must perform well over a wide range of speeds.

Jess Sponable knows that, have seen what happened in the X-30 NASP program, and will not go down that route.

Submission + - DARPA Launches Military Spaceplane Project

RocketAcademy writes: The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has launched a new program to develop a reusable first-stage launch vehicle. Experimental Spaceplane 1 (XS-1) would be capable of flying 10 times in 10 days, with a small ground crew, reaching speeds of Mach 10, and deploying a small upper stage to place a 3,000-pound satellite into orbit.

The XS-1 program is complementary to the Air Force's Boeing X-37, which is a reusable upper stage. The X-37 is currently launched by an expendable Atlas rocket but could be launched by a vehicle derived from XS-1 in the future.

Military planners have dreamed of a two-stage, fully reusable Military Spaceplane (MSP) for several years, but funding has not materialized up to now.

Submission + - Suborbital Spaceflight Picks Up Speed

RocketAcademy writes: The race to develop low-cost, suborbital spaceflight is heating up. On Thursday, Virgin Galactic's SpaceShip Two successfully completed its second powered test flight, reaching a speed of Mach 1.4 and an altitude of 69,000 feet. Meanwhile, XCOR Aerospace has begun posting daily reports on the progress of its Lynx spaceplane, which is expected to begin flight tests sometime around the end of this year. This means one of both companies are likely to begin commercial service by the end of next year.

XCOR still plans to move its headquarters to Midland, Texas later this year, but Midland may not be the only suborbital spaceport in the Lone Star state. On Wednesday,the Houston Airport System revealed renderings of its proposed spaceport at Ellington Airport, near Johnson Space Center just south of Houston. Citizens in Space (also based in Texas) has begun training five citizen astronauts to fly as payload operators on the XCOR Lynx and evaluating biomedical sensors for use on the flights. Details of those astronaut activities were also released this week.

Comment Re: Space is rough (Score 2) 70

radiation hardening does NOT mean long lead times or ultra expensive components.

NASA are not idiots you're right, they also don't build microsatellites with off the shelf arduinos.

You need to do some research. NASA just successfully launched two PhoneSat satellites this year, which use Arduino as part of a watchdog circuit. They plan on flying more in the future.

Planet Labs was founded by two of the lead engineers who built PhoneSat. The founders of Nanosatisfi worked at NASA Ames, where PhoneSat was built, and EADS Astrium, a major satellite manufacturer.

Just because something appears in a parts catalog doesn't mean it's available for overnight shipping. You'll find that out if you actually try to order them.

The fact that someone is doing something differently than you would doesn't necessarily mean they are stupid or know less than you do. They may have good reasons for what they are doing, because they spent more time thinking about the problem than you did composing your Slashdot flame. Not to mention building actual hardware and testing it. If you believe you can do better, great -- build your own satellite.

Comment Re: Space is rough (Score 1) 70

"Nowhere do I see mention of these arduinos being special, radiation-hardened versions. Nowhere, is there mention about extended temperature range, vibration, etc. These are all important if the mission is expected to succeed." Most small satellites do not use radiation-hardened components. Rad-hard chips provide 1/10 the power at 10 times the price, and thet aren't available when you need them. Generally, they're made to order with long lead times. It's generally easier to add a watchdog circuit to reboot the computer when it crashes due to a radiation event. Even the laptops aboard ISS are not rad-hard. In higher orbits and interplanetary space, radiation levels are higher and rad hardening becomes a bigger concern. Even there, techniques like spot shielding can reduce the number of components that need to be hardened. You might want to consider the possibility that maybe, perhaps, people who have built and operated satellites professionally for organizations such as NASA are not idiots and have some idea what they are doing.

Submission + - Arduino Enables a Low-Cost Space Revolution

RocketAcademy writes: Arduino, the popular open-source microcontroller board, is powering a revolution in low-cost space-mission design. San Francisco-based Planet Labs, a spinoff of NASA's PhoneSat project, has raised $13 million to launch a flock of 28 Arduino-based nanosatellites for remote sensing. Planet Labs launched two test satellites this spring; Flock-1 is scheduled to launch on an Orbital Sciences Antares rocket in 2014.

NanoSatisifi, also based in San Francisco-based company, is developing the Arduino-based ArduSat, which carries a variety of sensors. NanoSatisifi plans to rent time on ArduSats to citizen scientists and experimenters, who will be able upload their own programs to the satellites. The first ArduSat is scheduled for launch August 4 on a Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle carrying supplies to the International Space Station.

The cost of orbital launches remains a limiting factor, however. As a result, Infinity Aerospace has developed the Arduino-based ArduLab experiment platform, which is compatible with new low-cost suborbital spacecraft as well as higher-end systems such as the International Space Station.

The non-profit Citizens in Space has purchased 10 flights on the XCOR Lynx spacecraft, which will be made available to the citizen-science community. Citizens in Space is looking for 100 citizen-science experiments and 10 citizen astronauts to fly as payload operators. To help spread the word, it is holding a Space Hacker Workshop in Dallas, Texas on July 20-21. Infinity Aerospace will be on hand to teach Arduino hardware and software.

Submission + - SpaceShip Two Flies Supersonic on First Powered Flight

RocketAcademy writes: Virgin Galactic's SpaceShip Two broke the sound barrier this morning on its first rocket-powered flight. The flight began at 7:02 am Pacific, according to the press release from Virgin Galactic. The reusable suborbital spacecraft reached an altitude of 47,000 feet and a speed of Mach 1.2 with test pilots Mark Stucky and Mike Alsbury at the controls.

Companies such as Virgin Galactic and XCOR Aerospace hope that suborbital spacecraft will make spaceflight routine and affordable for researchers and citizen space explorers. Customers are already lining up for the new vehicles. Hundreds of scientists are expected to attend the Next Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference in June. Hardware hackers who wish to become citizen scientists or citizen astronauts are preparing to attend the first Space Hacker Workshop for Suborbital Experiments this weekend (May 4-5).

Submission + - Increase Your Business Enquiries Today (

expertwebpromotion writes: "E-commerce a word for which any big or small business organizations are growing in every aspect in the internet today. E-Commerce Web Development is helping the business houses to organize their profile in the websites and let their potential customers feel the presence visibly and then endorse or buy the services or products globally."

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