As a general rule, when NASA flies a scientific mission all the way to Mars, we expect that mission to last for a while. For instance, the Spirit and Opportunity rovers were slated to run for three months and are still operating 6 years later. But one NASA engineer wants to send a mission all the way to the Red Planet that would last just two hours once deployed: a rocket-powered, robotic airplane that screams over the Martian landscape at more than 450 miles per hour.
In Utah today, NASA completed a successful test of the world's largest, most powerful solid rocket motor, the DM-2. For two minutes, the motor, designed to provide up to 3.6 million pounds of thrust, roaringly fired a column of flame, while some 760 instruments monitored its every aspect. Best to turn down your speakers before the countdown in this video hits zero.
The space shuttle program ain't over till Congress says it's over. A Senate committee is working on a bill that would add an extra shuttle flight next year, as well as defy some of President Obama's scaled-down NASA plans, the New York Times reports today.
NASA's Orion crew capsule, which was part of the cancelled Constellation program, has been revived as an escape pod for the International Space Station. A smaller version of the capsule could launch on an Atlas or Delta rocket and eliminate the need to buy a multimillion-dollar Russian Soyuz spacecraft for emergency crew escape, Florida Today reports.
Spaceflight continues to represent one of the more extreme and hazardous undertakings for humans, even if it's just about getting off the ground. But the men and women of NASA's astronaut corps say that the U.S. space agency can improve on the odds that faced the doomed shuttle crews of Challenger and Columbia.
I'm not quite ready to stop thinking about NASA's Ares I-X rocket test earlier this week--and neither is Boston.com's Big Picture blog, where a great collection of images today goes from the rocket's construction to its first launch.
When rockets go fast, they break the sound barrier. And when the sound barrier breaks, we get the Prandtl–Glauert singularity. That's the official term for the beautiful cone of vapor that forms around a craft moving very, very fast through the atmosphere. And it makes for a great photo.
Ares I-X roared off its launch pad at 11:30 EST at Cape Canaveral. This marks success for NASA's second launch attempt to get the Ares I-X rocket off the ground after weather delayed the launch on Tuesday.
A final report issued by a blue-ribbon commission on NASA's future enthusiastically embraces in-space refueling and commercial spaceflight to low-Earth orbit, but curiously leaves out NASA's Ares-I rocket in future scenarios.