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Space

Submission + - Deep Space Industries to mine asteroids in 2016? (guardian.co.uk)

jamstar7 writes: From The Guardian:

Asteroid mining: US company looks to space for precious metal

Deep Space Industries hopes to land spacecraft on asteroids and have them scrape up material for return to Earth for sale A US company has unveiled plans to launch a fleet of spacecraft to hunt for small asteroids that pass close to Earth which might one day be mined for their precious resources.

Deep Space Industries aims to fly a series of low cost prospecting satellites in 2015 on missions of two to six months, with larger spacecraft embarking on round-trips to collect material a year later.

Cute video implying that asteroid mining can lead to permenant colonisation of space. After all, we still can't beat the lightspeed lag, and when something goes wrong with a robot miner, it's a long way home for a $20 part.

Space

Submission + - Hawking Calls for Lunar Based Supercomputer (dailygalaxy.com) 3

jamstar7 writes:

Stephen Hawking, world-celebrated expert on the cosmological theories of gravity and black holes who holds Issac Newton's Lucasian Chair at Cambridge University, called for a massive investment in establishing colonies on the Moon and in a lecture in honor of NASA's 50th anniversary. The Moon is a good place to start because it is "close by and relatively easy to reach", Hawking said. "The Moon could be a base for travel to the rest of the solar system," he added. would be "the obvious next target", with its abundant supplies of frozen water, and the intriguing possibility that life may have been present there in the past.

Last week, in a presentation to the AIAA Space conference in Pasadena, California, Ouliang Chang of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, suggested that NASA build a supercomputer and accompanying radio dishes on the far side of the moon in a deep crater near a pole where it would be protected from the moon's extreme temperature swings, and might let it tap polar water ice for cooling. This lunar supercomputer would not only ease the load on terrestrial mission control infrastructure, it would also provide computational power for the "first phase of lunar industrial and settlement development."

Surprisingly, nobody posted on this. How much geekier and techier can you get? There's even something for the 'Make Space Safe For Robots' crowd, as the Farside Dish could be tasked to handle robot probe communications. Personally, I think the idea is pretty cool. And what better place for a deep space radio dish than the backside of the Moon? Plenty of shielding from all the electrical noise from Earth.

Space

Submission + - Astronomers catch a star in the act of devouring a planet (io9.com)

jamstar7 writes: Astronomers have witnessed the first evidence of a planet's destruction by its aging star as it expands into a red giant.

"A similar fate may await the inner planets in our solar system, when the Sun becomes a red giant and expands all the way out to Earth's orbit some five-billion years from now," said Alex Wolszczan, from Penn State, University, who led a team which found evidence of a missing planet having been devoured by its parent star. Wolszczan also is the discoverer of the first planet ever found outside our solar system.

The planet-eating culprit, a red-giant star named BD+48 740 is older than the Sun and now has a radius about eleven times bigger than our Sun.

The evidence the astronomers found was a massive planet in a surprising highly elliptical orbit around the star — indicating a missing planet — plus the star's wacky chemical composition.

5 billion years or so is a long way off, so it's likely none of us has to worry about it, but still, watching a star eating its own planets is not only cool in its own right, but gives you food for thought as to how to keep the human species going long after the Sun starts going off the main sequence into red gianthood. And of course, some more cash into astronomers' and physicists' hands now can give us a closer ballpark number of when this event is going to happen. It's all in the math...

NASA

Submission + - NASA, SpaceX Complete Design Review of Dragon (nasa.gov)

jamstar7 writes:

NASA partner Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) has completed an important design review of the crewed version of its Dragon spacecraft. The concept baseline review presented NASA with the primary and secondary design elements of its Dragon capsule designed to carry astronauts into low Earth orbit, including the International Space Station.

SpaceX is one of several companies working to develop crew transportation capabilities under the Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2) agreement with NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP). Through CCDev2, NASA is helping the private sector develop and test new spacecraft and rockets with the goal of making commercial human spaceflight services available to commercial and government customers.

The review was started on June 12, 2012. It's part of the process to meet requirements to get the Dragon man-rated in order to get crew to the ISS and beyond. Without the man-rating, all they'll ever be able to do is cargo launches. Man-rating will also allow them to qualify for insurance for manned flights.

China

Submission + - China Plans Manned Space Mission in June 2012 (yahoo.com)

jamstar7 writes: From Yahoo News:

China will launch three astronauts this month to dock with an orbiting experimental module, and the crew might include its first female space traveler, a government news agency said Saturday.
A rocket carrying the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft was moved to a launch pad in China's desert northwest on Saturday for the mid-June flight, the Xinhua News Agency said, citing an space program spokesman. The three-member crew will dock with and live in the Tiangong 1 orbital module launched last year, Xinhua said. The government has not said how long the mission will last.

China, the only non-partner of the ISS, plans to see if its Shenzhou 9/Long March 2F system can get the job done like the Falcon9/Dragon system can. They plan on two missions this year to dock with their Tiangong 1 module launched in September 2011. Their eventual plans include building a full tilt space station by 2020, though one of only about 60 tons, compared to the ISS's 450ish tons.

Space

Submission + - Apollo 1 45th Anniversary (space.com)

jamstar7 writes: Space.com offers some thoughts on our progress since the death of the first 3 American astronauts in the plugs out test of Apollo 1. We remember today Gus Grissom, Roger Chafee and Ed White for their sacrifice to open up those strange new worlds.
NASA

Submission + - Asteroid Vesta's mountain 3x larger than Mt Everes (dailymail.co.uk) 1

jamstar7 writes: A new image from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft shows a mountain three times as high as Mt. Everest, in the south polar region of the giant asteroid Vesta.

The peak of Vesta’s south pole mountain, seen in the center of the image, rises about 13 miles above the average height of the surrounding terrain.

On the right side of the image is a huge cliff-like slope — the Dawn team’s scientists believe features around its base are probably the result of landslides.

Space

Submission + - Japanese to build solar powersat? (physorg.com)

jamstar7 writes: "The Japanese are looking at building solar power satellites. With a $21 billion dollar investment, the launch of the first components may be as early as 2015. The satellites being planned for should be able to light 300,000 Tokyo homes and have a capture surface of 4 square kilometers (2.5 square miles), and is hoped to come online in the 2030s.



NASA has been studying similar proposals for over a decade, having budgetted a few million here and there for various studies."

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