By Bjorn Carey
Posted 10.27.2010 at 11:02 am 16 Comments
It seems like a good idea; after all, not many vessels are capable of sustaining life in space, so why not recycle what we’ve got? Unfortunately, the current fleet just isn’t cut out for long-term habitation. When NASA retires the three remaining space shuttles next year, the craft will be sent to museums.
Proving that no matter how expensive your air conditioner the cooling pump will still break, NASA is planning a pair of emergency spacewalks on the $100 billion International Space Station this week to replace a cooling system component that unexpectedly failed Saturday.
The emergency spacewalks don't just punctuate a cooling system problem, but a breakdown in the Earth-to-orbit ISS maintenance supply chain. The broken cooling pump module weighs an unwieldy 780 pounds and can only be transported to the ISS aboard the Space Shuttle.
A roar and tongue of burning flame today marked the last test firing of a space shuttle solid rocket motor. Such test firings have taken place 52 times over more than three decades as trial runs for the 123-second burn of an actual space shuttle launch, but this is the end of the engineering ritual, as the space shuttle closes in on its scheduled 2010 retirement.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.