China's future astronauts can't have bad breath, cavities, or scars if they hope to join the next wave of Chinese space exploration. Hospitals have begun the first of three rounds of tests to weed out candidates who fail to meet the rigorous standards.
Some people may think locking some volunteers in a tin can for a couple of months is enough preparation for a flight to Mars, but the NASA panel reviewing the agency's manned space program envisions a more ambitious set of training wheels: docking with asteroids and a flyby of Venus.
NASA should extend space station operations beyond the planned 2016 retirement, according to a subcommittee of the presidential panel reviewing the human space program's future. But some members also warned that such a step could delay the return of astronauts to the moon.
This comes shortly after NASA had announced plans to de-orbit the International Space Station in 2016. Russia, Europe, Japan and Canada all support extending the $100-billion collaborative venture beyond 2015.
Space tourism is coming to the Middle East, as Abu Dhabi-based Aabar investments announced today it has taken a $280 million, 32 percent stake in Virgin Galactic. As part of the deal, which is still pending regulatory approval, Aabar plans to build a spaceport in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, and will have rights to all Virgin Galactic traffic in that region. Aabar is also setting aside $100 million to build a small satellite launching facility, suggesting that the team plans to use the spaceport as a base for scientific research as well as space tourism.
Thousands of manmade pieces of space junk orbit the Earth, threatening astronauts and unmanned missions alike. Now the U.S. Air Force Space Command wants an electronic "space fence" that could track any orbital object larger than two inches in width.
Such a surveillance system would require a global network of sensitive S-band radar stations that operate in the gigahertz range of the electromagnetic spectrum. The U.S. Air Force currently relies on a system dating back to 1961, which only covers the continental United States, and can only track objects 20 inches in width or larger.
Of the many obstacles preventing manned travel to Mars, spending over a year weightless ranks as one of the biggest. Extended weightlessness degrades the muscles and bones of astronauts so thoroughly that by the time they get to Mars, they may not have the strength to walk on it.
By Bjorn CareyPosted 07.20.2009 at 7:29 pm 4 Comments
On the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, it seems like every news outlet worth its weight in regolith is reproducing classic content to put the historic moment in the proper content. Well, here's one Apollo-related news item, printed on July 17th, as Aldrin, Armstrong and Collins were well on their way to the Moon, that I doubt the New York Times wants to draw much attention to today: a retraction of a 1920 article which stated rocket motors couldn't work in the vacuum of space, almost fifty years after the fact.
Possibly the single most influential event in the public's interest in science and technology (not to mention one of humankind's greatest adventures), the Apollo 11 mission touched the collective dreams of millions, while pushing science and technology swiftly forward at an unprecedented pace.
But in the decades since man first walked on the moon, science has advanced so rapidly that technology which even a few years ago might have been considered magic has become commonplace. Even so, it would be naïve to assume that Apollo 11 ever represented science and technology's pinnacle, and that nothing forthcoming will similarly explode the world's collective dreams and perceptions of what it means to be human.
So what's next? What will be the next worldwide event or discovery that fundamentally changes the way we look at ourselves and the universe we live in?
With the monotone bleeps of Sputnik still ringing in a rattled nation's ears, President Eisenhower committed America to a program of manned space flight, a program culminating in the Apollo 11 mission and its legendary moon landing.
Whether you believe the astronauts went in peace for all mankind, or as part of a nationalistic competition driven by Cold War paranoia, there's no escaping the profound impact the moon landing had on the human psyche. The moon landing showed the whole world how technology can shift the bounds of the possible, and Popular Science was there the whole way.