June 17, 2004 at 6:29 pm #58318
A ‘wild’ comet (from space.com)
[img]http://a52.g.akamaitech.net/f/52/827/1d/www.space.com/images/hf_crazycomet_jet_040319_01.jpg[/img]June 21, 2004 at 12:12 pm #58319
Space Ship one had a successful flight earlier today, getting close to that X-Prize :aliensmile:
Private craft soars into space, history
By Michael Coren
Monday, June 21, 2004 Posted: 12:07 PM EDT (1607 GMT)
MOJAVE, California (CNN) — SpaceShipOne left the Earth behind on Monday morning and made its indelible entry in the history books as the first private spacecraft to carry humans into space. It touched down safely at Mojave Airport at 11:15 ET.
"It looks great," said Burt Rutan, chief of Scaled Composites, which built the craft. He gave a thumbs up on the runway as he squinted into the sun at the aircraft he designed.
At 10:51 ET, Mike Melvill ignited the rocket engines and piloted SpaceShipOne into the blackness of space. His trajectory took him more than 100 kilometers, or 62 miles, above Earth’s atmosphere, according to Scaled Composites flight officials.
"It was a mind-blowing experience, it really was — absolutely an awesome thing," Melvill said after landing.
The rocket plane lifted off about 9:45 ET carried by the jet White Knight for an hourlong ascent.
At 10:35 ET, it reached 33,000 feet and the pilot reported all systems checked out for its space launch. It received clearance to land and "go for light" — the signal to begin launch countdown — at 10:46 ET. The pair approached 50,000 feet a few minutes later and SpaceShipOne decoupled from the jet. After a brief glide, Melvill ignited the engines and ascended at Mach 3, three times the speed of sound, into space.
From the cockpit, the curvature of the Earth and a thin blue line that demarcates our atmosphere was visible against the black sky. Melvill, the first astronaut to pilot a private spacecraft, maneuvered the plane for descent on the same runway it departed nearly two hours earlier.
The flight marks the pinnacle of Rutan’s vision of affordable, safe private space travel. His company Scaled Composites built SpaceShipOne with financial backing from Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, for a little more than $20 million. From just a concept in 1995 to reality less than a decade later, Rutan said this was the realization of a long dream..
"I’m so proud of that, it brings tears to my eyes," he said.
The remote desert Mojave airport, home to the world’s only civilian test flight center and a licensed spaceport, was also host to an assortment of vehicles that converged on the site from around the country.
Buses, RVs, electric scooters, small ultralights and a menagerie of other vehicles were parked in the sandy soil across from the runway.
A sense of historic anticipation was shared by many of the spectators. Some said that after waiting decades, they were finally witnessing the first steps toward spaceflight for them.
Josh Collins, 25, said he had flown from Maryland to see the attempt.
"Some people thought I was crazy, other people are jealous," he said. "I can’t wait to see the launch. It’s going to be historic."
Melvill, 62, a veteran test pilot, becomes the first civilian flier to earn his astronaut’s wings aboard a privately financed spacecraft.
The rocket plane made its farthest and fastest flight to date.
Scaled Composites is one of 24 companies from several countries competing for the $10 million Ansari X Prize, which will go to the first privately funded group to send three people on a suborbital flight 62.5 miles (100.6 kilometers) high and repeat the feat within two weeks using the same vehicle.
The nonprofit X Prize Foundation is sponsoring the contest to promote the development of a low-cost, efficient craft for space tourism in the same way prize competitions stimulated commercial aviation in the early 20th century.
The prize is fully funded through January 1, 2005, according to the foundation’s Web site.
With Melvill on board, Monday’s flight tested SpaceShipOne’s ability to reach the 62.5-mile altitude, which is the internationally agreed-upon boundary of space.
The significance of the launch was hailed during a news conference Sunday at the Mojave launch site by two of the project’s most enthusiastic backers: Rutan and Allen.
"Tomorrow we will meet to add one more page to the history books," Allen said Sunday. "[Private space flight] will undoubtedly lead to unprecedented new endeavors in the years to come."
Both men said they expected the technology to lead to a human space flight industry financed by the private sector.
Allen has invested more than $20 million in Scaled Composites to create the manned program — a fraction of what government-sponsored efforts have cost.
Rutan predicted that the small investment would be just a start.
"Spaceflight is not only for governments to do," Rutan said. "Clearly, there’s an enormous pent-up hunger to fly into space and not just dream about it."
He hesitated to give a precise prediction when a major tourism industry would develop. But he said that within 10 to 15 years affordable suborbital flights would become a reality, and it wouldn’t stop there.
"We are heading to orbit sooner than you think," he said. "We do not intend to stay in low-earth orbit for decades. The next 25 years will be a wild ride. … One that history will note was done for the benefit of everyone.June 21, 2004 at 7:40 pm #58320
[img]http://www.scaled.com/projects/tierone/photos/062104/ss1landing.JPG[/img]June 27, 2004 at 2:23 pm #58321
Space Elevator… :aliensmile:
Scientist Sees Space Elevator in 15 Years
By CARL HARTMAN, Associated Press Writer
President Bush wants to return to the moon and put a man on Mars. But scientist Bradley C. Edwards has an idea that’s really out of this world: an elevator that climbs 62,000 miles into space.
Edwards thinks an initial version could be operating in 15 years, a year earlier than Bush’s 2020 timetable for a return to the moon. He pegs the cost at $10 billion, a pittance compared with other space endeavors.
"It’s not new physics Ã¢â‚¬â€July 1, 2004 at 7:17 pm #58322
….and sends back first pictures of Saturn’s rings:July 2, 2004 at 1:19 pm #58323
Looking forward to tons of cool images from Cassini, especially when they check out the moon Titan :aliensmile:
Using Titan to Understand Earth and Mars
By Robert Roy Britt
Senior Science Writer
posted: 08:00 am ET
17 February 2004
Plans have just been finalized for the Cassini spacecraft’s exploration of Saturn’s moon Titan, a giant world with a composition that resembles early Earth. Scientists expect the distant moon to help them understand the general nature of wind, oceans and how things might once have been on our home planet as well as Mars.
The investigation, which gets underway this summer, could also help theorists better model Earth’s changing climate and the ultimate effects of global warming.
Titan is half the size of Earth and the only moon in the solar system with an atmosphere, which is loaded with methane and, like Earth’s air, some nitrogen.
Ralph Lorenz, of the Lunar and Planetary Lab University of Arizona, presented the finished exploration plan over the weekend in Seattle at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. It calls for 44 flybys of Titan over four years by Cassini after it arrives at Saturn this July. The craft will also deploy a probe to the surface of the moon next year.
Last week, Lorenz discussed with SPACE.com what he and colleagues hope to learn from Titan.
He explained that wind, waves and ocean currents are well understood only as they relate to current conditions on Earth. Scientists want to better grasp the underlying physics — including what happens in wildly different conditions — so they can predict how the natural world would react to change.
"We know that given the various factors that the result is X," Lorenz said. "We don’t know for example, which of the factors is most important, or how the result will change if we change factor Y."
Earth’s climate is heavily dependent on the transport of heat from equatorial regions to higher latitudes of the ocean and the atmosphere.
"Without, for example, the Gulf Stream, Northern Europe would be inhospitably cold, like much of Canada or Siberia at the same latitude," Lorenz said. "We don’t know Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ whether global warming might cause that ocean circulation to shut down. The only tool we have for studying that sort of effect is computer modeling, and that has many uncertainties. Observing Titan’s ocean circulation and climate will give us more data to refine these models."
Cassini launched in 1997 and studied Jupiter on its way toward Saturn. It has taken a long, looping path that included flybys of inner planets to get gravitational boosts that saved fuel and reduced mission costs.
Lorenz works on Cassini’s radar mapping team and is a co-investigator of the Surface Science Package on the Huygens probe, which will sample the atmosphere before landing Titan or splashing into an ocean. Huygens’ measurements will complement various observations made by Cassini during the flybys, from radar mapping to optical and near-infrared imaging and a probe of the moon’s gravity field.
"It’s an absolute bonanza of science in many different fields," Lorenz said.
If Titan has seas, their composition will be markedly different from those on our planet.
Last year, observations by the Arecibo radio telescope suggested Titan has oceans of methane and ethane — what we call natural gas on Earth. Because Titan’s surface is about -290 degrees Fahrenheit (-179 Celsius) both compounds would be liquid in the Titan seas.
How will waves and tides behave? How do these waves sculpt beaches? How deep are the seas and what is their relationship to the atmosphere?
Lorenz thinks answers to these and other questions could sharpen idea about early Mars, which is thought to have harbored oceans or lakes that might have been water-based.
"We don’t know very well how to predict what the wind generation would be like with a different atmosphere and gravity," he said. "By seeing the process in action on Titan, we’ll be able to make better predictions."
Titan also looks to scientists like a ripe, prebiotic world. It is perhaps similar to Earth in its early era, before life developed. Theorists will try to use Titan’s chemistry, once explored, to figure out how our own planet made the leap from lifeless to life bearing.
"Titan is the largest single unexplored piece of real estate in the solar system," Lorenz said, "and with an atmosphere and probably a hydrological cycle as well, it’s likely to be the most interesting."July 2, 2004 at 7:13 pm #58324"Coma Girl" wrote:Looking forward to tons of cool images from Cassini, especially when they check out the moon Titan :aliensmile:
For the latest news, and tons of pictures (including the ‘raw’ non-processed pictures ‘live’ from Saturn ) check the NASA Cassini-Huygens news pages or The European Space Agency’s Cassini-Huygens pagesJuly 3, 2004 at 1:20 pm #58325
The Music2Titan project sounds cool, hope they have a smooth landing in Jan/05…not in one of those methane oceans :aliensmile:July 22, 2004 at 6:03 pm #58326
Mars attacks? (from cnn.com)
New martian meteorite found in Antarctica
Thursday, July 22, 2004 Posted: 10:04 AM EDT (1404 GMT)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) — A meteorite from Mars has been discovered in Antarctica, one of only about 30 known martian space rocks on Earth.
"We’ve gotten something like 13,000 meteorites from Antarctica and this is only the sixth one from Mars," Timothy McCoy, curator of meteorites at the Smithsonian Institution, said by telephone on Wednesday.
The rest of the known martian meteorites on this planet were found outside Antarctica, McCoy said by telephone.
What makes this rock special is its comparatively large size, he said: "It’s a 700 gram rock (about 1.5 pounds) but by meteorite standards it’s a mountain of material."
Scientists can do effective work on amounts as little as one-thousandth of a gram, McCoy said.
At this point, there is no suggestion that the new meteorite — discovered December 15, 2003, on an ice field some 466 miles (750 km) from the South Pole — bears any evidence of possible microscopic fossilized life.
Some scientists believe an earlier meteorite found in Antarctica and publicly unveiled in 1996 bore such signs; it is still being investigated.
The new martian meteorite was found as part of a cooperative effort funded by NASA and supported by the National Science Foundation.
Smithsonian scientists said they can establish the origin of the martian meteorites by their mineralogy, texture and oxidized nature.August 6, 2004 at 2:09 pm #58327
Seems a Canadian team is getting closer to testing their rocket, going for the X prize, partially funded by an online casino…
Thursday, August 5th
TORONTO, ONT. (August 5, 2004) – The Canadian da Vinci Project Team has notified the ANSARI X PRIZE of its intention to launch its rocket on October 2nd, 2004, marking its official entry in the international, commercially-funded space race competition.
The da Vinci Project, which unveiled its rocket Wild Fire today, joins one American team — in a field of 26 — to announce its launch date. "With two ANSARI X PRIZE teams launching within days of each other for the $10 million prize (U.S.), we truly have a remarkable race for space," said Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, Chairman and Founder of the X PRIZE Foundation. The recipient of the $10 million prize will be the first team to travel safely to space twice within a two-week period on a privately funded, re-useable spacecraft.
Brian Feeney, who plans to pilot Wild Fire approximately 110 kilometers into suborbital space, said the team is finalizing construction of the rocket as well as logistical details related to the event, which will be held in Kindersley, Saskatchewan.
"We’re very close to achieving our mission, thanks to the organizations and individuals that understand the significance of this race," said Feeney. "The da Vinci Project is on the cusp of a new era of space travel for humankind. Our team is proof positive that ingenuity and innovation can overcome the impossible."
In addition, Feeney announced a new sponsor to finance the project. Golden Palace.Com, the world’s largest online casino, has signed on as the title sponsor. The Golden Palace.Com Space Program — Powered By The da Vinci Project — is poised to make history.
According to sources at the casino, GoldenPalace.com is excited and very proud to be a part of the historic flight of the Wild Fire. In the continuing pursuit for innovative ideas for exposure, Golden Palace sources believes the ANSARI X Prize competition provides the advertising exposure as well as the added incentive of a history-making event that will eventually serve to benefit all humankind.
The da Vinci Project, which Feeney describes as the largest volunteer technology project in Canada, has achieved several critical milestones since officially entering the competition in 1996. These milestones have included the filing of necessary papers to Canadian government for launch approval; securing the site for launch; the testing of engine components; testing the design and securing a wide range of sponsors including Sun Microsystems of Canada, Blake Cassels Graydon, ANSYS, Hinz Automation and Kindersley Transport.
"The da Vinci Project is emblematic of the spirit of the ANSARI X PRIZE," said Diamandis. "It brings together many of the best and brightest to break down preconceived notions on space travel and prove that we are no longer bound to one planet."
The X PRIZE Foundation is working with the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI), the international body responsible for all aviation and space world records, to ensure that the ANSARI X PRIZE winner will also receive official international recognition for his achievement. In addition to duration, altitude and distance, the FAI has introduced new world record categories for ‘minimum time between two consecutive sub-orbital flights in a reusable vehicle’ and ‘number of persons carried in sub-orbital flight’.
About The da Vinci Project
The da Vinci Project’s aim of capturing the ANSARI X PRIZE, the international "New Race to SpaceÃ‚Â®" is backed by a core of volunteers from many walks of life and disciplines. Aerospace engineers, experts in project management and finance contribute their time and expertise towards the realization of the next step in human discovery. The da Vinci Project’s novel rocket design will be launched from the world’s largest reusable helium balloon at an altitude of 80,000 feet (24,400 meters).September 8, 2004 at 5:39 pm #58328
Damn, all that science lost because the parachutes failed…
Genesis Crashes In Utah Desert
By Gina Keating
PASADENA, Calif. (Reuters) – A space capsule returning solar particles to Earth crashed in the Utah desert on Wednesday after its parachute failed to open, but scientists were hoping that the star dust inside might have been saved.
A Hollywood stunt pilot was supposed to snag the Genesis capsule as it floated toward Earth on a parachute at the end of its three-year mission to collect solar ions.
But the capsule’s parachutes failed to open, and the spacecraft tumbled out of control and struck the ground at 193 miles per hour six minutes after entering Earth’s atmosphere.
The flight had gone smoothly until moments before impact, which left the 450-pound capsule half buried in the sand about 31 miles from the U.S. Army’s Dugway Proving Ground, where the Genesis team watched a live aerial broadcast of the events.
"Certainly now we are in a situation where the scientists … are going to have to deal with a lot more contamination than they were hoping for," Genesis project manager Don Sweetnam said at a briefing at Dugway shortly after the crash.
Charles Elachi, director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, where the mission was based, said he was "still hopeful."
"All the data is there," Elachi said. "The question is: ‘How contaminated is it?’ It will make it much harder to analyze."
The spacecraft collected ions that had been blown by solar winds on wafers of silicon, diamond, sapphire, gold and other materials in what scientists described as a "fossil record" of the Sun.
It was the first extraterrestrial matter to be returned to Earth by a spacecraft since the U.S. Apollo and Soviet Luna missions brought back moon rocks in the 1970s.
Scientists hoped that study of the materials would yield insights about the early formation of planets and the dawn of the solar system.
An initial check of the spacecraft showed that several pyrotechnic devices failed to fire and deploy the chutes, but the reason for the multiple failures was unclear, Andrew Dantzler, NASA solar system division director, said.
The capsule and the canister inside were cracked, but scientists were unable to catalog the damage to the samples because of the safety risks posed by the unexploded ordnance and gases emitted by the craft’s batteries, he said.
A team of scientists and engineers headed out to the crash site to make an assessment of the spacecraft and dig it out of its impact crater, Bob Corwin, recovery operations chief for Lockheed-Martin, said.
The team must also decide whether to crack open the capsule and retrieve the canister separately or leave it intact and ferry it via helicopter to a clean room at Michael Army Air Field.
Corwin said he expected the spacecraft to arrive at the clean room late on Wednesday.
Had the mission gone as planned, the stunt pilots, whose resumes included aerial stunts on "Batman" and "Hulk" movies, would have made aviation history by capturing the first man-made object to enter Earth’s atmosphere from outer space.
"We’re sorry we didn’t get to perform the mid-air retrieval we trained so hard to perform, but our hearts really go out to the science team who is going to have a tougher job," Roy Haggard, director of flight operations, said.September 8, 2004 at 5:46 pm #58329
America is the only country I can think of where hollywood stunt pilots would be hired to try to pull off something like that. Gotta love the optimism though.September 8, 2004 at 5:48 pm #58330
:aliensmile:October 4, 2004 at 6:56 pm #58331
SpaceShipOne captures X Prize (from cnn.com)
MOJAVE DESERT, California (CNN) — SpaceShipOne achieved its most spectacular flight yet, climbing to an altitude of 377,591 feet (71 1/2 miles) to win the $10 million Ansari X Prize on Monday.
X Prize officials said it set an altitude record exceeding the military X-15’s top altitude of 354,200 feet (67 miles) set on August 22, 1963.
With a wish of "Good luck and Godspeed," mission control sent the privately funded craft toward space for the second time in a week, the requirements for winning the X Prize.
"Today we have made history. Today we go to the stars," said Peter Diamandis, co-founder of the X Prize Foundation.October 20, 2004 at 2:36 pm #58332
Another Stupid Mistake by LockMart
15 October 2004: Genesis crash linked to upside-down design, New Scientist
"Sensors to detect deceleration on NASA’s Genesis space capsule were installed correctly but had been designed upside down, resulting in the failure to deploy the capsule’s parachutes. The design flaw is the prime suspect for why the capsule, carrying precious solar wind ions, crashed in Utah on 8 September, according to a NASA investigation board."
Editor’s note: let’s see – Lockheed Martin doesn’t do an English/metric unit conversion and Mars Climate Orbiter hits the planet. Weeks later, Lockheed Martin does not do a full check of all systems and the shock of deploying its landing legs causes the engines to shut down and Mars Polar Lander crashes into Mars. More recently, Lockheed drops NOAA-N-Prime because someone forgot to bolt it down. Now this stupid mistake (which happened a number of years ago). Given the amount of business NASA gives LockMart, you’d think they have started to pay a little more attention to quality control after all these goof-ups.
Editor’s note: From a NASA Watch Reader:
"And, letÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not forget LockMartÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s spectacular Titan IV screw-ups:
–1998: LockMart Titan IV-A carrying a billion-dollar LockMart NRO spysat explodes shortly after liftoff from Cape Canaveral . Cause: Frayed Wiring.
–1999: Multi-billion dollar LockMart Milstar 4 was placed into a useless orbit by a LockMart Titan/Centaur upper stage. Cause: Erroneous calculations fed into the Centaur guidance system. Official explanation: Our engineers were traumatized by the Columbine shootings."
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