The world’s leading space agencies are reportedly discussing the use of the International Space Station as a launch pad for a manned trip around the moon. The goal would be to test whether the station could be a base camp for missions to asteroids and Mars, the BBC reports today.
A pair of Russian aerospace companies have announced plans to launch the first commercial space station, in 2015 or perhaps 2016. The station will have room for up to seven astronauts, scientists, and wealthy citizens to perform experiments or just take in the scenery. Meanwhile, U.S.
Robert Bigelow's inflatable space stations could get another look from NASA because of the space agency's new direction, but the space hotel visionary has already set his sights on the moon. He has begun planning for inflatable modules that could serve as a lunar base for up to 18 astronauts, SPACE.com reports.
China's new moon rocket design is in the class of the old Saturn V that once launched U.S. Apollo astronauts to the moon. The China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology says that the proposed rocket would have a thrust of 3,000 metric tons, just shy of the 3,470 metric tons of thrust generated by the Saturn V's first stage, Aviation Week reports.
As we've been hearing for months, 2010 is going to be a year of belt-tightening for NASA. But now, with the release of the new NASA budget, we can see that even with substantially less money, NASA still has some cool technologies on the way.
Lemur IIa is a robot designed to autonomously inspect and maintain in-orbit space equipment such as the Orion crew exploration vehicle. Shown below on a model space telescope, the Lemur IIa was envisioned as an orbital Swiss Army knife. Each limb has four degrees of freedom and a "quick connect” feature, allowing astronauts to swap in different repair tools as needed.
By Adam HadhazyPosted 05.21.2009 at 3:19 pm 4 Comments
There's nothing like washing down some freeze-dried space grub with a gulp of what you and your crewmates excreted just days prior. NASA announced yesterday that the recently installed urine and sweat recycling system on the International Space Station (ISS) has begun to churn out good, potable water, fit for consumption in orbit and terrestrially (though don't expect it to compete with Evian). To celebrate, ISS crewmembers and NASA folk on Earth raised a toast Wednesday and took a drink.
Heeding a suggestion from one of our readers, let's follow up on our discussion of artificial gravity. As we described last week, although the film Armageddon attempts to portray artificial gravity aboard a rotating space station, it does not take into account the fact that unless the radius of the station is very large compared to the height of a person, anyone on board will feel significantly different forces acting along the length of their bodies. The result: nausea, vomiting, dizziness, disorientation, and nothing similar to the sense of gravity as we experience it on Earth.
There are certain movies that wreak such havoc with the laws of the universe as we know them that, despite the risk of irate readers who only want to enjoy the fantasy, and despite the fact that they may not care about accurate science (after all "we all know it's just a movie), we have to deconstruct them anyway as a public service. Now Armageddon (along with The Core and The Day After Tomorrow) forms part of a "trifecta" of bad movie physics, and, although it's not a new release, it epitomizes its genre.
While it might seem thrilling compared to your cubicle, working on the moon could prove to be just as drab and mundane a job in the long run. Chester Spell, a professor at the Rutgers School of Business, has done research that suggests the lunar settlements of tomorrow—and, for that matter, the space stations of today—could pose serious mental-health challenges for employees working in semi-isolation. Spell says that anxiety will likely be heightened in a lunar living space, and depression more apt to spread from one crew member to another. —Greg Mone