The Skylon spaceplane, a concept spacecraft that has been incubating in the UK for something like three decades, has all of a sudden taken a big leap forward thanks to a technical review by the European Space Agency. And if the money comes through--Skylon is a privately funded venture--this summer’s test program could quickly turn into a full-fledged ground demonstrator engine followed by a fifth scale model of one of the engines that would actually take to the skies.
Fifty years ago this April, Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space, orbiting the planet once in a 108-minute flight. A new film set to premiere on the anniversary of Vostok 1’s voyage aims to recreate what he saw.
ESA astronaut Pablo Nespoli and British filmmaker Christopher Riley made a new film, “First Orbit,” splicing together archival footage and audio from Gagarin’s flight with HD video shot from the cupola window on the International Space Station.
With just two shuttle mission left on the schedule, NASA’s next-gen crew vehicle had a big coming out party today as Lockheed Martin unveiled the first Orion spacecraft as well as a sprawling $35 million training center near Denver, Colo. Both the spacecraft and the astronauts that will eventually fly on it will undergo extensive testing here as the program ratchets up for operational deployment within just five years.
The commercial space industry has booked its first science expeditions, the Southwest Research Institute announced today. At least two researchers have tickets to fly on Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, with another six seats on reserve, and the team also reserved six flights on an XCOR Lynx I rocket plane.
Watch those old videos of the Apollo missions (or movies about the Apollo missions), and the nail-biting, climactic moment is always spacecraft reentry, where the incoming craft comes screaming through the atmosphere in a burning ball of white-hot plasma resulting in a total radio blackout. But a team of Russian scientists say they’ve found a way to communicate through the plasma sheath that causes radio blackout by turning the sheath itself into a giant plasma antenna.
China has never been particularly apologetic about its contribution to the looming threat of space debris, but authorities might finally have to offer up some kind of conciliatory “sorry we nearly bombed your village with huge chunks of used rocket.” Last night residents of two separate villages in Jiangxi, China, awoke to very large pieces of the lunar probe Chang’e II’s launch rocket falling back to Earth around them.
With the Space Shuttle program winding down, both NASA and several commercial ventures are developing next-gen rocket technology that will hurl the next iteration of space vehicles into the sky. But NASA acknowledges that rockets aren’t the only – or even the best – way to get into space.
The U.S. Senate appeared to have cobbled together a compromise with the White House concerning NASA's immediate future as of late last week, but a new House Science Committee bill might undermine those dealings.
A Senate committee vote this afternoon should keep the Space Shuttle Program alive for at least one more mission and grant NASA the leeway it wants to continue developing a heavy-lift rocket capable of carrying crews into deep space. The Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee unanimously approved the authorization bill earlier this afternoon, sending it up to the full Senate for review sometime in the near future.