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    International Space Station braces for its coldest spot

    Using NASA's Cold Atom Lab, scientists plan to create temperatures only a few degrees above absolute zero on the station.

    “We're going to study matter at temperatures far colder than are found naturally,” informed project scientist Rob Thompson from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California.

    The Cold Atom Lab is an atomic 'refrigerator' planned to make the orbiting laboratory on the ISS its new home in 2016.

    Researchers would also be able to mix super-cool atomic gases on board the space station.

    Atoms would float free of perturbations, which would allow for extremely sensitive measurements of the weak interactions that occur.

    The ISS is a prime location to perform such experiments because of lack of interference from the pull of gravity.

    Practical applications of the work include quantum sensors, matter wave interferometers and atomic lasers.

  • #2
    Nuclear bombs can destroy killer asteroids in space

    New York: Asteroids that pose a threat to Earth can be destroyed in space using a nuclear bomb, even with warning times of a week or less, scientists say.

    "We have the solution, using our baseline concept, to be able to mitigate the asteroid-impact threat, with any range of warning," said Bong Wie, of Iowa State University.

    Researchers are developing a concept spacecraft called the Hypervelocity Asteroid Intercept Vehicle, or HAIV

    The HAIV would rendezvous with an asteroid in deep space, then send a kinetic impactor barrelling into the object to blast out a crater, researchers said.

    The nuclear bomb would follow one millisecond behind - perhaps attached via a long boom, or perhaps flying freely - and then detonate inside the hole, shattering the asteroid into millions of tiny pieces, '' reported.

    Excavating a crater for the bomb would increase its destructive power by a factor of 20, Wie said on February 6 at the 2014 NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) meeting at Stanford University.

    Some of the resulting asteroid fragments may still impact Earth, depending on how far away from our planet the explosion occurred. But the effects are likely to be minimal, Wie said.

    For example, a 1,000-foot-wide asteroid can be neutralised far outside Earth's gravitational field with a warning time of just 30 days, according to Wie.

    Computer simulations suggest that less than 0.1 per cent of the destroyed object's mass would eventually strike our planet. Wie and his team suggest that the HAIV concept be coupled with an asteroid-warning system, such as the Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS), a survey effort being led by the University of Hawaii with USD 5 million in NASA funding.

    When it's fully operational in 2015, ATLAS should be able to provide a one-day warning for asteroids 26 feet wide, a one-week alert for space rocks measuring 148 feet across and a three-week warning for 459-foot asteroids. This should provide plenty of time to launch an HAIV mission, which would likely cost about USD 500 million, Wie said.


    • #3
      SpaceX Prepares for Mid-March Launch to Space Station

      Juggling flight delays and busy skies with the skill of seasoned air traffic controllers, International Space Station managers have approved the launch date for SpaceX's next cargo resupply mission for March 16.

      This image is one of a series of still photos documenting the process to release the SpaceX Dragon-2 spacecraft from the International Space Station on March 26, 2013

      Liftoff from Cape Canaveral's Complex 40 launch pad is set for 4:41 a.m. EDT (0841 GMT), the time when Earth's rotation brings the space station's flight path over the Space Coast, NASA announced last week.

      SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon cargo carrier will make the company's third commercial logistics delivery to the space station under a $1.6 billion contract with NASA. The deal calls for 12 missions through 2016.


      • #4
        Commercial cargo-carrier leaves space station

        A commercial Cygnus cargo-carrying spacecraft departed the International Space Station on Tuesday, heading for a fiery finale over the Pacific Ocean to help clear the outpost of trash at the conclusion of the first operational resupply run by Orbital Sciences Corp.

        The automated solar-powered spaceship disengaged from the space station's robotic arm at 1141 GMT (6:41 a.m. EST) as the duo sailed 260 miles over the South Atlantic Ocean east of Argentina.

        The Cygnus spacecraft

        Astronauts Mike Hopkins and Koichi Wakata monitored the activities from inside the space station's windowed cupola module. Hopkins was assigned the job of detaching the robot arm from Cygnus.

        Moments later, astronauts inside the space station sent commands for the Cygnus spacecraft to fire thrusters and fly away from the complex. It cleared the space station's "keep out" sphere, an imaginary safety zone around the outpost, a few minutes after separating from the robot arm.

        The Cygnus vehicle's pressurized logistics module is packed with bags of trash and unnecessary gear loaded by the space station's six-person crew. Like cargo vehicles supplied by Europe, Japan and Russia, the Cygnus spacecraft is designed to burn up during re-entry, disposing of garbage over a remote stretch of the South Pacific Ocean.

        Re-entry between New Zealand and South America is scheduled for around 1820 GMT (1:20 p.m. EST) Wednesday after a pair of braking maneuvers to slow the Cygnus spacecraft's velocity and lower its orbit.

        The last day of the Cygnus mission will be controlled from Orbital Sciences' headquarters in Dulles, Va.

        The Cygnus spacecraft is on the first of eight operationally cargo delivery flights under a $1.9 billion commercial resupply contract between Orbital Sciences and NASA. The space agency has a similar deal with SpaceX for a dozen missions worth $1.6 billion.

        The mission delivered nearly 2,800 pounds of supplies to the space station when it arrived Jan. 12, three days after launching from Wallops Island, Va., aboard an Antares rocket.

        The deliveries included an ant colony for students to observe how the ants behave in space, an experiment in drug-resistant bacteria, and investigations into how liquids slosh inside containers in microgravity and the behavior of fires in space.

        The scientific complement of the Cygnus spacecraft's cargo load amounted to nearly 1,000 pounds, the biggest delivery of experiments to the space station by one of the two U.S. commercial logistics vehicles.

        Orbital Sciences achieved a Cygnus demonstration mission to the space station last year before proceeding into the contracted flights.

        SpaceX and Orbital Sciences developed their resupply freighters and launch vehicles with public and private funding through a public-private partnership with NASA, which turned to the commercial sector to haul experiments and supplies to the space station after the retirement of the space shuttle.

        SpaceX plans a launch of its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spaceship from Cape Canaveral to the space station March 16. Orbital's next cargo flight is due to launch around May 1 aboard an Antares rocket from Virginia.


        • #5
          Sierra Nevada Corporation and Lockheed Martin Expand Dream Chaser Orbital Vehicle Manufacturing

          In a press conference held today at the Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) in Michoud, La., Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) and Dream Chaser® strategic partner Lockheed Martin announced the expansion of SNC Dream Chaser spacecraft orbital vehicle manufacturing operations.

          As a valued member of SNC’s Dream Chaser Dream Team, Lockheed Martin is under contract to manufacture the next Dream Chaser composite structure which will be for the first orbital vehicle scheduled to launch on November 1, 2016. The MAF, which is owned and operated by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, has been operational since 1961 and has played a significant role on our nation’s space programs ranging from Apollo to the space shuttle. Today, leveraging the experience, technical expertise and current infrastructure at Michoud, next generation vehicles such as SNC’s Dream Chaser and Lockheed Martin’s Orion are being fabricated within the same walls as legendary programs.

          SNC's Dream Chaser

          “Michoud and the state of Louisiana, have a vital role in our nation’s space program,” said Mark N. Sirangelo, corporate vice president and head of SNC’s Space Systems. “We look to continue this valuable role through our partnership with Lockheed Martin for the build of our next Dream Chaser composite structure at the Michoud Assembly Facility. We will be utilizing MAF’s existing facilities, partnerships and the workforce of Louisiana to bring America’s future transportation vehicles for low-Earth orbit to reality while continuing to expand the Dream Chaser program footprint, which now provides employment in over 30 states.”

          SNC chose Lockheed Martin to manufacture the Dream Chaser orbital composite structure based on their rich human spaceflight manufacturing heritage, including building the External Tank for the space shuttle program, and their work for the Orion program Fabricating key elements of Dream Chaser structures at MAF leverages Orion manufacturing efforts currently underway, while also taking advantage of existing facilities, relationships and assets, such as the National Center for Advanced Manufacturing (NCAM).

          “Lockheed Martin’s history at MAF brings a wealth of experience to the Dream Chaser program,” said Jim Crocker, vice president of Lockheed Martin’s Space Systems Company Civil Space Line of Business. “Not only are we leveraging manufacturing processes and technology, we are also leveraging the Human Rating Certification methodology developed by the Orion program, which was then tailored to Dream Chaser.”

          Currently, the Dream Chaser spacecraft orbital vehicle is in the early stage of the fabrication process at MAF. Fabrication of composite structures started in January 2014 with cabin ring frame production at MAF. Complex part fabrication will begin upon receipt of tooling in April 2014. As each composite structure is completed, it will then be shipped to Lockheed Martin’s facility in Fort Worth, Texas, for assembly and final inspection before being released to SNC.


          • #6
            A Spaceport .. in Scotland?

            Well yes, apparently!

            SPACE tourists could be blasting into orbit from one of eight sites named as possible locations for Britain's first spaceport in just four years' time.

            Six of the sites shortlisted for the spaceport, due to open in 2018, are in Scotland. They include Glasgow Prestwick Airport and RAF Lossiemouth.

            All have to meet strict criteria, including being a safe distance from densely populated areas and a runway that can be extended to more than 3,000m (9,842ft).

            The aim is to use the spaceport to launch tourists into space as well as commercial satellites.

            The Virgin Galactic Spaceship II​

            By 2030, the Government hopes to capture 10% of the world's space market. If this target is met, opening up the UK tourism industry to specialist operators such as Virgin Galactic and XCor could be worth £40 billion and provide 100,000 jobs.

            Making the announcement at the Farnborough Air Show, Aviation Minister Robert Goodwill said: "In order to lead the way on commercial space flight, we will need to establish a spaceport that enables us to operate regular flights.

            "The work published today has got the ball rolling - now we want to work with others to take forward this exciting project and have Britain's first spaceport up and running by 2018."

            The full list of possible spaceport locations is:
            • Campbeltown Airport (Scotland)
            • Glasgow Prestwick Airport (Scotland)
            • Llanbedr Airport (Wales)
            • Newquay Cornwall Airport (England)
            • Kinloss Barracks (Scotland)
            • RAF Leuchars (Scotland)
            • RAF Lossiemouth (Scotland)
            • Stornorway Airport (Scotland)
            There have been reports that the Government is hoping Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson will build the port as part of his Virgin Galactic project.

            Virgin Galactic's first flights are scheduled to take off from a purpose-built spaceport in New Mexico, USA, at the start of the year, with passengers paying £120,000 for a 150-minute flight that will climb to heights of around 62 miles (100km) to achieve zero gravity for approximately six minutes.


            • #7
              There Are Mistakes .. And Then There Are Mistakes!

              Space officials have confirmed they are investigating two satellites that are part of Europe's rival to the American GPS satellite navigation system after they were lofted into the wrong orbit.

              The European Space Agency (ESA) and launch company Arianespace say the satellites ended up in off-target orbits after being launched on Friday from Kourou, French Guiana, aboard a Soyuz rocket.

              Arianespace launched a Soyuz rocket from Kourou, French Guiana on 22nd August. The rocket was carrying two Galileo satellites which entered the wrong orbit and may now be unusable

              The two satellites, named Doresa and Milena, form part of the Galileo system, the EU’s billion-dollar sat-nav system. Galileo has cost £4.8bn to date and has a total budget of £7 billion.

              After initially saying the launch had been successful, Arianespace later confirmed an investigation was underway because they had gone onto a "lower orbit than expected".

              While the ESA is not yet classing them as ‘lost’ it is unlikely the satellites can be eased into their correct orbit, Nasa Spaceflight has claimed.

              The European Union hopes to have its 30-satellite Galileo navigation network operating fully by 2017. The Prague-based program oversaw the launch of its first two satellites in 2011, two more in 2012, and two more (which look as if they may be unusable) yesterday.


              • #8
                Virgin's SpaceShip Two Crashes

                Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo craft has crashed during a test flight over California, killing one person onboard and seriously injuring another.

                The craft, which normally carries two pilots, had been carried aloft on a bigger aircraft known as WhiteKnightTwo and then released for a test of its rocket engine.

                California Highway Patrol reported one fatality and one major injury after the incident, according to news agency AP.

                Debris of Virgin's SpaceShip Two which has crashed today

                "Virgin Galactic's partner Scaled Composites conducted a powered test flight of SpaceShipTwo earlier today," Virgin Galactic said in a statement.

                "During the test, the vehicle suffered a serious anomaly resulting in the loss of the vehicle. The WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft landed safely.

                "Our first concern is the status of the pilots, which is unknown at this time. We will work closely with relevant authorities to determine the cause of this accident and provide updates as soon as we are able to do so."

                WhiteKnightTwo had taken off normally from California's Mojave desert, and been released normally, in what was the 35th such flight.

                "SpaceShipTwo has been released by WhiteKnightTwo, and is now flying freely," the firm wrote in a blow-by-blow account of the flight, adding: "Ignition! SpaceShipTwo is flying under rocket power again."

                The next tweet announced the "anomaly."

                Photographer Ken Brown told NBC News that he saw a midflight explosion and later found SpaceShipTwo debris scattered across a small area of the desert.

                More than 800 people have paid or put down deposits to fly aboard the spaceship, which is carried to an altitude of about 45,000 feet and released. The spaceship then fires its rocket motor to catapult it to about 62 miles (100 km) high, giving passengers a view of the planet set against the blackness of space and a few minutes of weightlessness.

                The spaceship is based on a prototype, called SpaceShipOne, which 10 years ago won the $10 million Ansari X Prize for the first privately developed manned spacecraft to fly in space.

                Friday's test was to be the spaceship's first powered test flight since January.

                In May, Virgin Galactic and spaceship developer Scaled Composites, a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman Corp, switched to an alternative plastic-type of fuel grain for the hybrid rocket motor.

                The accident is the second this week by a US space company. On Tuesday, an Orbital Sciences Antares rocket exploded 15 seconds after liftoff from Wallops Island, Virginia, destroying a cargo ship bound for the International Space Station.



                • #9
                  Hypersonic Travel Here We Come!

                  4,000mph Hypersonic Plane That Could Take Passengers from London to Sydney in FOUR HOURS Moves Closer to Takeoff as European Space Agency Backs 'Revolutionary' Sabre Engine

                  The Skylon hypersonic jetliner
                  • Reaction Engines developing a turbine with jet and rocket technologies that is says could be tested by 2020
                  • Flights from London to New York could take less than two hours
                  • It could also be used to send satellites into space at fraction of current cost
                  The European Space Agency has invested $11 million toward the development of an engine that could one day allow aircraft to fly anywhere in the world in just four hours. Oxfordshire-based Reaction Engines has been developing a turbine that combines both jet and rocket technologies to achieve rates five times the speed of sound. According to the firm, the new agreement with the ESA and the UK Space Agency, along with the existing partnership with BAE Systems, means that the first ground demonstrator engine could be ready for testing by 2020.
                  Read more here: