NASA is one step closer to launching its newest spacecraft designed for humans.

NASA's Orion spacecraft, preparing for it's first flight, departs the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building on its way to the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at the Kennedy Space Center, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Orion is scheduled for a test flight in early December. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Workers at Kennedy Space Center gathered to watch as the Orion capsule emerged from its assembly hangar months from its first test flight. The capsule slowly made its way to its fueling depot atop a 36-wheel platform. The capsule and its attached service module and adapter ring stretched 40 feet high. Space center employees lined up along the rope barricade to snap pictures of Orion, NASA’s lofty follow-on to the now-retired space shuttle program.

During its test flight, the unmanned capsule will shoot more than 3,600 miles into space and take two big laps around Earth before re-entering the atmosphere at 20,000 mph and parachuting into the Pacific off the San Diego coast.

NASA's Orion spacecraft, preparing for it's …

The second Orion flight won’t occur until around 2018 when another unmanned capsule soars atop NASA’s new mega-rocket, still under development, called SLS for Space Launch System. NASA intends to put astronauts aboard Orion in 2021 for deep space exploration; each capsule can accommodate up to four astronauts. The plan is to use Orion for getting humans to asteroids and Mars .There will be no space station ferry trips for Orion.

While Orion may resemble an oversize Apollo capsule on the outside, everything inside and out is modern and top-of-the-line. For Orion’s dry run, the  capsule will have hunks of aluminum in place of seats for ballast, and simulators instead of actual cockpit displays. A Delta IV rocket will do the heavy lifting.

NASA's Orion spacecraft, preparing for it's …

Orion has its roots in the post-Columbia shuttle era; it originated a decade ago as a crew exploration vehicle to get astronauts beyond low Earth orbit and managed to survive the cancellation of the Constellation moon project. The Constellation project was the completion of the International Space Station and a return to the moon no later than 2020 with the planet  Mars as the ultimate goal.

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Jupiter’s Moon Europa

Jupiter’s moon Europa.

We have decided to send a Manned Mission to explore Jupiter’s moon Europa. It is the six closest moon to Jupiter.   Jupiter is the 5th planet from the Sun and is the largest planet in the Solar System. Jupiter is classified as a gas giant with mass one-thousandth of that of the Sun but is two and a half times the mass of all the other planets in the Solar System combined.

Europa has an outer layer of water around  (62 mi) thick; some as frozen-ice upper crust, some as liquid ocean underneath the ice. The layer is likely a salty liquid water ocean.  Europa contains a metallic iron core. Europa has emerged as one of the top locations in the Solar System in terms of  potentially hosting extraterrestrial  life that could exist in its under-ice ocean.  Life in such an ocean could possibly be similar to  life on Earth in the deep ocean. The likely presence of liquid water on Europa has spurred calls to send a  manned mission to investigate.

An order was place with the E-vectors Space factory  to build the spacecraft that will taking the three  astronaut and three robots to the moon Europa.    The engine that will carry them is  neutronic that can navigate in the deep ocean ,the atmosphere,and in deep space.   All three are categorized as water elements with outer space being the thicker of the three.  The neutronic engine creates fusion energy capable of speeds to reach Jupiter’s moon in 659 days or approximately  1 year and 9 months,when Jupiter and Earth are aligned.

The astronauts will not land on the surface of Europa but instead orbit the moon and communicate with our Deep Space Station. The robots will be used to explore the surface and the under ice ocean.    Information transmitted by the robots will be sent to the orbiting spacecraft to determine ,confirm the habitability ,and the characteristic of the water within and below Europa’s icy shell.

Artist’s concept of the crybot a thermal drill, seen upper left) and its deployed ‘hydrobot’ submersible

 

 

Water vapor plums have been detected on Europa due to the under ice oceans tides and gravitational stress from the planet Jupiter.  The plums are considered simular to volcanoes pewing magma but instead water.  Life on the surface could be possible closest to these plums due to the heat which is created.

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Nasa’s 3D Printer In Zero Gravity

 

The 3D printer that will be launched to the space station in fall 2014 is tested at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.
Image Credit:
NASA

America has always been a nation of tinkerers, inventors, and entrepreneurs. In recent years, a growing number of Americans have gained access to technologies such as 3D printers, laser cutters, easy-to-use design software, and desktop machinery. These tools are enabling more Americans to design and Make almost anything, and the applications to space exploration will help our astronauts to be less reliant on materials from Earth as they explore farther out into the solar system.

 

NASA’s 3D Printing in Zero-G ISS Technology Demonstration will demonstrate the capability of utilizing a Made In Space 3D printer for in-space additive manufacturing technology. This is the first step toward realizing an additive manufacturing, print-on-demand “machine shop” for long-duration missions and sustaining human exploration of other planets, where there is extremely limited ability and availability of Earth-based logistics support. If an astronaut tool breaks, future space pioneers won’t be able to go to the local hardware store to purchase a replacement, but with 3D printing they will be able to create their own replacement or create tools we’ve never seen before. For NASA as well as the Maker community, 3D printing provides end-to-end product development.

 

Image showing a 3D printer printing
The 3D printer prints a common part that is used aboard the space station.
Image Credit:
NASA

NASA, in conjunction with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Foundation, has issued Future Engineers” printing challenges for the first 3D printer aboard the International Space Station. Middle and high school students will design items for 3D printing on ISS, and the winning student will watch from NASA’s Payload Operations Center with the mission control team as the item is printed in space.  NASA and the ASME Foundation will also promote these projects and others in Maker Community Challenge Showcases, in which student participants would have the opportunity to have their 3D designs printed at local Maker community locations and student participants would showcase their 3D designs in on online open hardware design repository.

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Made In Space 3-D Printer

3D printer to fly to space in august, sooner than planned

A 3-D printer intended for the International Space Station has passed its NASA certifications with flying colors—earning the device a trip to space sooner than expected. The next Dragon spacecraft, scheduled to launch in August, will carry the Made In Space printer on board.

“Passing the final tests and shipping the hardware are significant milestones, but they ultimately lead to an even more meaningful one – the capability for anyone on Earth to have the option of printing objects on the ISS. This is unprecedented access to space,” stated Made In Space CEO Aaron Kemmer.

This 3-D printer will be the first to be used in orbit. Officials have already printed out several items on the ground to serve as a kind of “ground truth” to see how well the device works when it is installed on the space station. It will be put into a “science glovebox” on the International Space Station and print out 21 demonstration parts, such as tools.

“The next phase will serve to demonstrate utilization of meaningful parts such as crew tools, payload ancillary hardware, and potential commercial applications such as cubesat components,” Made In Space added in a statement.

Once fully functional, the 3-D printer is supposed to reduce the need to ship parts from Earth when they break. This will save a lot of time, not to mention launch costs, the company said. It could also allow astronauts to manufacture new tools on the fly when “unforeseen situations” arise in orbit.

Another NASA 3-D printer contract, given to the Systems & Materials Research Cooperation, could lead to a device to manufacture food for crew members.

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NASA Says Puzzling New Space Drive Can GenerateThrust Without Propellant

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August 2, 2014                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

According to a puzzling report, a new thruster design appears to be able to accelerate a c...

According to a puzzling report, a new thruster design appears to be able to accelerate a craft without the use of propellant (Image: Cannae)

A NASA study has recently concluded that the “Cannae Drive,” a disruptive new method of space propulsion, can produce small amounts of thrust without the use of propellant, in apparent discordance with Newton’s third law. According to its inventor, the device can harness microwave radiation inside a resonator, turning electricity into a net thrust. If further verified and perfected, the advance could revolutionize the space industry, dramatically cutting costs for both missions in deep space and satellites in Earth orbit.

 

The basic principle behind space propulsion is very simple: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Use a rocket engine to throw mass one way, get propelled the other way. And according to the law of conservation of momentum, the more mass you throw behind you and the faster you throw it, the stronger your forward thrust will be.

One consequence for space travel is that, to counter Earth’s gravity and reach orbital velocity, rockets need to carry a very large amount of propellant: For instance, in the now-retired Space Shuttle, the mass of the fuel was almost twenty times greater than the payload itself. In satellites the impact is smaller, but still very significant: for geostationary satellites, fuel can make up as much as half the launch weight, and that makes them more expensive to launch and operate.

But now, a NASA study has concluded that a new type of spacecraft propulsion is able to generate thrust without propellant. This appears to violate the law of conservation of momentum: in other words, if no mass (fuel or otherwise) is being ejected from the system, where is the thrust coming from? Where is the equal and opposite reaction?

The thruster appears to work by resonating microwave radiation to produce a net force (Ima...

According to its inventor, US scientist Guido Fetta, the thruster works as a resonating cavity for microwave radiation. The cavity redirects the radiation pressure to create an unbalanced force, and that force produces a net thrust.

In its study NASA didn’t attempt to explain the phenomenon, and instead contented itself with verifying that the system did indeed generate a small amount of thrust, between 30 and 50 micro-Newtons. This is a tiny amount, only enough to levitate a mass of three to five milligrams (a few eyelashes) here on Earth; but, astonishingly, it is a net thrust nonetheless.

“Test results indicate that the RF resonant cavity thruster design, which is unique as an electric propulsion device, is producing a force that is not attributable to any classical electromagnetic phenomenon and therefore is potentially demonstrating an interaction with the quantum vacuum virtual plasma,” the study concludes.

The system has many striking similarities with the EmDrive, designed by British aerospace engineer Roger Shawyer, although the explanation that Shawyer provides for the working mechanism is quite different from Fetta’s or NASA’s.

According to one peer-reviewed paper, the EmDrive thruster was able to produce 720 mN of t...

According to one peer-reviewed paper, the EmDrive thruster was able to produce 720 mN of thrust from an electricity input of 2.5 kW (Photo: EmDrive)

“At first sight the idea of propulsion without propellant seems impossible,” says Shawyer. “However, the technology is firmly anchored in the basic laws of physics and following an extensive review process, no transgressions of these laws have been identified.”

According to Shawyer, the thruster works because of relativistic effects: the microwaves are moving at a significant fraction of the speed of light at both ends of the resonator, and so, he claims, the resonator and the microwaves have two separate frames of reference, with the two forming an open system that ultimately doesn’t violate the laws of physics, conservation of momentum included.

The interesting thing about EmDrive is that, back in 2009, a Chinese peer-reviewed journal tested Shawyer’s thruster design, registering 720 mN of thrust at an input power of 2.5 kW. That’s enough to make a tennis ball hover, and then some; in fact, if the results are confirmed, such levels of thrust would already be practical for satellitar applications.

Salient characteristics of the EmDrive compared to a more conventional ion propulsion syst...

Salient characteristics of the EmDrive compared to a more conventional ion propulsion system (Image: EmDrive)

The system could generate electricity from solar panels, and because it is much lighter than current thrusters, it could more than halve the weight launch of satellites, leading to very significant reductions in launch costs. A practical microwave thruster could also meaningfully extend the lifetime of satellites and pave the way for deep space robotic missions.

Even beyond that, Shawyer claims that the second generation of his fuel-less thrusters, based on superconductor technology, will be capable of producing an impressive specific thrust of 30 kN per kW of input energy. “Thus for 1 kilowatt (typical of the power in a microwave oven) a static thrust of 3 tonnes (3.3 tons) can be obtained, which is enough to support a large car. This is clearly adequate for terrestrial transport applications.”

But before we start talking Sun-powered flying cars and weekend trips to Pluto, the scientific community will undoubtedly need to dissect the experiment with great care and independently verify whether the tiny net thrust reported by NASA could after all be attributed to some external cause that the researchers didn’t account for.

Sources: CannaeEmDrive via Wired

Orion Spacecraft Comes Together

The world’s largest heat shield, measuring 16.5 feet in diameter, has been successfully attached to the Orion spacecraft. The heat shield is made from a single seamless piece of Avcoat ablator. It will be tested on Orion’s first flight in December 2014 as it protects the spacecraft from temperatures reaching 4000 degrees Fahrenheit.

The uncrewed flight, dubbed Exploration Flight Test-1(EFT-1), will test the spacecraft for eventual missions that will send astronauts to an asteroid and eventually Mars. 

The Orion crew module for Exploration Flight Test-1 is shown in the Final Assembly and System Testing (FAST) Cell, positioned over the service module just prior to mating the two sections together. The FAST cell is where the integrated crew and service modules are put through their final system tests prior to rolling out of the Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Technicians are in position to assist with the final alignment steps once the crew module is nearly in contact with the service module. In December, Orion will launch 3,600 miles into space in a four-hour flight to test the systems that will be critical for survival in future human missions to deep space.

Image Credit: NASA/Rad Sinyak

 

ESA’s Spaceplane To Showcase Reentry Technologies

(Phys.org) —All eyes are on ESA’s spaceplane to showcase reentry technologies after its unconventional launch on a Vega rocket this November

ESA's spaceplane set for flight

Instead of heading north into a polar orbit – as on previous flights – Vega will head eastwards to release the spaceplane into a suborbital path reaching all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

Engineers are forging ahead with the final tests on ESA’s Intermediate experimental Vehicle, IXV, to check that it can withstand the demanding conditions from liftoff to separation from Vega.

Launched in early November, IXV will flight test the technologies and critical systems for Europe’s future automated reentry vehicles returning from low orbit. This is a first for Europe and those working in the field are keeping a close watch.

The research and industrial community have the chance to use this information for progress in atmospheric reentry, oriented towards transportation systems with applications in exploration, science, Earth observation, microgravity and clean space.

Jose Longo, ESA’s head of aerothermodynamics, said, “The technical advancements that have been made since the first experiments with our Atmospheric Reentry Demonstrator in 1996 are huge.”

ESA's spaceplane set for flight
ESA’s Intermediate experimental Vehicle, IXV, has 300 sensors that will gather data during its suborbital path back to Earth. Credit: ESA

“This is the first flight demonstration of features such as highly advanced thermal structures: thrusters and flaps that are part of the control system, and the 300 sensors and infrared camera to map the heating all along the spacecraft from the nose to the flaps. These things just cannot be tested in the same way in laboratories.”

“The fact that ESA’s IXV will be launched on Vega makes this a fully European mission,” noted Stefano Bianchi, ESA’s head of launchers development.

IXV weighs almost two tonnes, close to Vega’s lifting capacity, and will be a tight fit inside the vehicle’s fairing.

“In this mission we are not only monitoring the spacecraft all along its autonomous flight, but also tracking its progress back to Earth to a particular spot – this is different to what we are used to,” said Giorgio Tumino, ESA’s IXV project manager.

When IXV splashes down in the Pacific at the end of its mission it will be recovered by ship and returned to Europe for detailed analysis to assess the performance and condition of the internal and external structures.

 

ESA's spaceplane set for flight
Engineers are forging ahead with the final tests on ESA’s Intermediate experimental Vehicle, IXV, to check that it can withstand the demanding conditions from liftoff to separation from its Vega launcher in November 2014. Credit: ESA

The actual performance will be compared with predictions to improve computer modeling of the materials used and the spaceplane’s design.

Such is the enthusiasm and interest of industry in the opportunities associated with reentry technologies that the third IXV workshop in ESA’s Technical Centre, ESTEC, in Noordwijk, the Netherlands was packed out last week.

“It is very encouraging to see such interest in this program,” added Giorgio. “Follow-up activities to this mission will build on the current industrial organization and associated technologies will provide opportunities to newcomers.”

 

The Tractor Beam Is Progressing Toward Solid Reality

Spaceship

The tractor beam featured in popular science fiction movies and shows such as “Star Trek,” “Star Wars,” and even the sci-fi parody film “Spaceballs,” is a fictional device that is steadily progressing towards solid reality.

On screen, the tractor beam is a beam of light or energy that is used to hold or manipulate the trajectory of another object. In “Star Trek,” the tractor beam is often used by the starship Enterprise to capture or tow other ships.

With the advancement of lasers and other technology, scientists have been optimistically hustling to create this kind of technology and a variety of different approaches have been tested in the laboratory.

One of the more recent developments involves using an ultrasound beam to pull small, hollow, triangular objects back towards the source of the beam. It’s been developed by Scottish scientists and physicists at Dundee University.

“We were able to show that you could exert sufficient force on an object around centimeter [about 0.4 inches] in size to hold or move it, by directing twin beams of energy from the ultrasound array towards the back of the object,” said Dr. Christine Demore of the Dundee University’s Institute for Medical Science and Technology told the Daily Mail Online.

Although the device is far from the pulling power of the U.S.S. Enterprise or the Death Star, it can still pull objects a million times larger than previous tractor beam designs that specialize in pulling or sorting particles, and it works with a billion times more force.

The practical uses for such a device include medical applications and cancer treatment. For example, using this technology, a capsule could be gently moved towards the site of a tumor and strategically released.

NASA, on the other hand, has been working with tractor beams for a few years now. Back in 2011, NASA’s Office of the Chief Technologist (OCT) received a relatively large grant to study and develop three methods of using lasers to collect particles, trap them, and deposit them were needed for analysis. The process is nearly identical in use to Star Trek’s tractor beam. However, these tractor beams at this time can only manipulate small particles.

*Illustration of a spaceship via Shutterstock

 


A Faint Glimmer Of Hope For Time Travel

A space-time wormhole lets a particle travel back in time

We may never see practical time travel in our lifetimes, if it’s possible at all. However, a team at the University of Queensland has given the Doc Browns of the world a faint glimmer of hope by simulating time travel on a very, very small scale. Their study used individual photons to replicate a quantum particle traveling through a space-time loop (like the one you see above) to arrive where and when it began. Since these particles are inherently uncertain, there wasn’t room for the paradoxes that normally thwart this sort of research. The particle couldn’t destroy itself before it went on its journey, for example.

As you might have gathered from the “simulation” term, sci-fi isn’t about to become reality just yet. The scientists haven’t actually warped through time — they’ve only shown how it can work. It could take a long time before there’s proof that whole atoms and objects can make the leap, let alone a real-world demonstration. Should you ever step into a time machine, though, you’ll know where it all started… and ended.

Voyager 1 Nears The Edge Of The Solar System

After traveling for 37 years, Voyager I is recording pulses from the sun that confirm it has entered a different region near the edge of the solar system called interstellar space.

pia174620-2.jpg

Voyager I is the “farthest human-made probe from Earth, and the first to enter the vast sea between stars,” according to NASA. NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Voyager I spacecraft has been steadily journeying away from the sun to the outer reaches of the solar system since its 1977 launch. As it travels farther out and enters a different region of the solar system, it’s occasionally affected by coronal mass ejections — shock waves caused from massive violent eruptions from our sun.

There have been three of these space “tsunamis” since 2012, and the third one — described by NASA on Monday — has helped the space agency confirm something it posited in late 2013: that Voyager is the first Earth craft to travel into interstellar space.

Interstellar space is the area just beyond the reach of what’s known as our heliosphere: an area where the solar wind pushes back the dense plasma of space in a sort of protective bubble. This plasma was ejected into the universe by the death of stars millions of years ago.

The plasma outside the heliosphere is about 40 times denser than the plasma that lies inside it. By using its 37-year-old cosmic ray and plasma wave instruments, Voyager has sent back signals to Earth that prove it has popped through our sun’s protective bubble and is now moving through the thicker plasma. Scientists can tell this is the case because the thicker plasma in interstellar space oscillates at a faster rate than less dense plasma and produces a different frequency when hit by the sun’s shock waves.

“The tsunami wave rings the plasma like a bell,” Ed Stone of the California Institute of Technology , the mission’s project scientist since 1972, said in NASA’s statement. “While the plasma wave instrument lets us measure the frequency of this ringing, the cosmic ray instrument reveals what struck the bell — the shock wave from the sun.”

“Normally, interstellar space is like a quiet lake,” Stone added. “But when our sun has a burst, it sends a shock wave outward that reaches Voyager about a year later. The wave causes the plasma surrounding the spacecraft to sing.”