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What It’s Like to Be First to Fly a Brand New Spacecraft

Later this week, NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are expected to launch on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule to the International Space Station. If the mission is successful, the capsule will become only the fifth American spacecraft in history to be certified for human spaceflight. This will make Behnken and Hurley the newest members […]

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NASA’s EmDrive Leader Has a New Interstellar Project

In 2016, White and his team at NASA published the first peer-reviewed experimental evidence that appeared to show the EmDrive actually producing thrust. The results of White’s experiment and the theory behind it remain controversial. No one can agree about whether the device actually produced thrust or how to explain it if it did. But […]

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China Is One Launch Closer to Building Its Own Space Station

On Tuesday China’s Long March 5B rocket successfully launched from Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan Island, which extends into the South China Sea. The rocket carried an uncrewed trial version of its next-generation spacecraft—with a mass of nearly 22 tons—successfully into orbit. ARS TECHNICA This story originally appeared on Ars Technica, a trusted source […]

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After 60 Years, Explosion-Powered Rockets Are Nearly Here

For most aerospace engineers, an explosion in a rocket engine is a disaster. But for Kareem Ahmed, it’s the entire point. As the director of the Propulsion and Energy Research Laboratory at the University of Central Florida, Ahmed has spent the last few years developing a next generation rocket engine that uses controlled explosions to […]

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Does It Matter That the DOD Released Those UFO Videos?

On Monday, the US Department of Defense officially released three videos depicting encounters between Navy pilots and unidentified aerial phenomena. These events occurred in 2004 and 2015, but the videos didn’t publicly surface until the New York Times included them with a front page story about the Pentagon’s “mysterious UFO program” in 2017. The Navy […]

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NASA’s Plan to Turn the ISS Into a Quantum Laser Lab

Later this summer, physicists at the Argonne and Fermi national laboratories will exchange quantum information across 30 miles of optical fiber running beneath the suburbs of Chicago. One lab will generate a pair of entangled photons—particles that have identical states and are linked in such a way that what happens to one happens to the […]

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So You’ve Found a Comet With a Weird Orbit …

On the evening of March 28, a small automated observatory on the Andean steppe in northwestern Argentina watched a previously undetected comet drift through the solar system nearly 500 million miles away. New comets are rare enough—astronomers only add a few dozen to the official tally each year—but this particular bit of space rock came […]

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NASA Wants to Photograph the Surface of an Exoplanet

It’s a lot to ask of a mission, but Turyshev believes the necessary technologies have matured enough to make it possible. Reusable rockets have drastically reduced the cost of space access. Small satellites are regularly used for sophisticated deep space missions. The Voyager spacecraft are alive and well in interstellar space. Solar sails have unfurled […]

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Astronaut Mike Massimino on How to Make the Most of This Isolation

Mike Massimino has experienced the greatest isolation a human being could ever know: the solitude of space, hundreds of miles above humanity. A NASA astronaut for 18 years, Massimino spent about a month total sheltering in place—or, more accurately, sheltering in space—aboard two separate missions on the space shuttle, donning a suit and stepping out […]

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The US Hitches Its Final Ride to Space From Russia—for Now

On Thursday, a Soyuz rocket carrying three astronauts to the International Space Station is scheduled to depart from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in the Kazakhstan desert. The coronavirus pandemic means there won’t be the usual crowds of wellwishers lining the streets to see the astronauts on their way, but the flight is a historic one. It […]

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The Search for the Next Big Idea in Magnetic Field Mapping

The model doesn’t just help you get from the office to Taco Bell: Ships and planes—civilian and military—also rely on it. “One of NGA’s biggest customers is the military,” says Paniccia. “If you’re sailing across the ocean in an aircraft carrier, it’s very important you know where you are and you’re not going into enemy […]

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DIY Rockets, Daredevils, and the Tragedy of Mad Mike Hughes

To minimize costs, Waldo had already rigged up a cockpit out of the wingtip tank from a Cold War–era Lockheed F-94 Starfighter, with air provided by a breathing bottle from a similar vintage Boeing B-50 Superfortress bomber. But the ballute alone would cost $300,000, and $2.8 million was budgeted for top-shelf engineering and meteorological support. […]

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Should Earthlings Chase ‘Oumuamua Into Interstellar Space?

In October 2017, an asteroid-hunting telescope in Hawaii detected something unusual. A cigar-shaped object about twice the size of the Eiffel Tower was booking it past Earth at nearly 60,000 miles per hour—and appeared to be accelerating. Known as ‘Oumuamua, a Hawaiian word meaning “scout,” the object had the characteristics of both a comet and […]

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SETI@Home Is Over. But the Search for Alien Life Continues

Over the last 20 years, the army of SETI@Home screensavers has parsed billions of signals collected at Arecibo and selected those that seemed the most likely to have been generated by an extraterrestrial intelligence. Once the program parsed this data, it was shipped off to Berkeley where the data was further processed to filter out […]

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