Items tagged with NASA

The U.S. has been unable to send astronauts into orbit on its own since the space shuttle fleet was decommissioned 8 years ago. Rather than develop a new government program for putting Americans into space, NASA has been buying seats on Russian rockets. America is going to regain its ability to put men and women into space in part thanks to civilian companies like SpaceX, whose Crew Dragon capsule is almost ready for primetime. NASA developed the Commercial Crew Program and has been looking to private companies to take astronauts into space. It did the same thing with plans to get supplies to and from the ISS, and SpaceX has been a major part of that program. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and NASA... Read more...
We are a little bit closer to making quantum computing an everyday reality. Google researchers reportedly created a quantum computer that has achieved “quantum supremacy”. The quantum computer was able to solve equations that would be nearly impossible for a supercomputer. Google researchers recently developed “Sycamore”, a 53-qubit quantum computer. The computer was able to solve a mathematical equation that would have taken a supercomputer 10,000 years to solve, in a mere 200 seconds. They have also claimed that Sycamore performed another equation in 30 seconds that would have taken the Google Cloud server 50 trillion years to process. A researcher remarked, “This... Read more...
If you were alive 50 years ago, and old enough to cast your eyes on a television, you no doubt remember the launch of Apollo 11. On July 16th, 1969 at 9:32am ET, the Apollo 11 Saturn V lifted off from Pad 39A at Cape Canaveral, FL, sending astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin on their journey towards the Moon. Apollo 11 made one and a half orbits around the Earth after liftoff before performing a burn to put in a trajectory to intercept the Moon. The Columbia command module and Eagle lander carrying the three astronauts entered lunar orbit on July 19th, and on July 20th, Aldrin and Armstrong detached from Columbia and descended towards the lunar surface. On July... Read more...
On July 16th, 1969 the Apollo 11 mission commenced, shooting Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin into an orbit around the Moon. Four days later, the Apollo Lunar Module “Eagle” touched down on the Moon, after which Armstrong first stepped onto the surface to deliver this historic phrase: “That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” Leading up the actual anniversary, Google is paying homage to Apollo 11 starting with a new augmented reality (AR) experience. In order to join in on the action, you will need to have an AR-capable smartphone in your possession and search for “Apollo 11” in Google Search. From there, you should see... Read more...
SpaceX has been very busy. In April it launched the second Falcon Heavy mission to push the Arabsat 6A satellite into orbit. In May another rocket sent 60 SpaceX Starlink microsatellites into orbit. And SpaceX is set to launch its next Falcon Heavy mission soon, and this one will be carrying a wide range of payloads. The mission is called Space Test Program-2 and is set to lift off between 11:30 p.m. ET on June 24 and 2:30 a.m. June 25 depending on the weather. The oddest thing that the Falcon Heavy will be pushing into orbit is for a company called Celestis. Celestis makes arrangements for cremated remains of deceased loved ones to be sent into space. Families can decide to send capsules with... Read more...
NASA has had an exciting month; it announced early in June that it intended to open the ISS to private astronauts tours for $35,000 per night. In addition, NASA has now announced that on June 14 a robot called Bumble became the first Astrobee robot to fly under its own power in space. Astrobee robots are free-flying systems meant to help researchers test new tech in zero gravity. Robots like Bumble can also perform routine work along with the astronauts living and working on the ISS. NASA sees a future where robots like Astrobee can be caretakers for the NASA lunar gateway and play a part in NASA's future missions exploring the Moon and Mars. Testing Bumble out on the ISS wasn't as simple... Read more...
Houston, we have a security issue (you thought we were going to say "problem," didn't you?). Actually, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has several security issues, according to an audit by the Office of Inspector General. Among other things, an examination of JPL's network security controls found that the division was the target of a cyberattack in April 2018, in which hackers exploited a Raspberry Pi computer to gain access to the network. Simply put, "the device should not have been permitted on the JPL network without the JPL Office of the Chief Information Officer's (OCIO) review and approval," the report states. Nevertheless, hackers leveraged a vulnerable Raspberry Pi to swipe 500... Read more...
Has Starfleet boldly gone where no man has gone before? A dune that is shaped like the Star Trek logo has appeared on the surface of Mars. A picture of the dune was captured by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). The image was taken by the MRO’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera. The HiRISE is the largest reflecting telescope that has ever been carried into deep space. According to NASA, it “makes observations at near-infrared wavelengths to obtain information on the mineral groups present.” Scientists are then able to accurately calculate the topography of Mars. The HiRISE has photographed hundreds of swaths and provides scientists with... Read more...
Your next business trip may be in space. NASA recently announced that it will be opening up the International Space Station (ISS) to private astronauts. NASA also plans to allow more commercial manufacturing and production on the ISS. Private astronauts will soon be able to stay on the ISS for up to thirty days, and only two astronauts will be approved per year. The astronauts will need to get to the ISS and back to earth by personally paying for a seat aboard a commercial US spacecraft. They will also need to pay $35,000 per day on the ISS for life support, communication, and other necessary goods and services. NASA plans to launch the program in 2020. ISS, Image via NASA Not just any wealthy... Read more...
Last summer, Blue Origin announced that they would be working with the ESA and NASA to create a lunar settlement. The private space company has kept most of the details of their plans under wraps until recently. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Blue Origin, revealed this past week the company’s “Blue Moon” lander and BE-7 engine at a private event. United States Vice President Mike Pence announced earlier this year that they hoped the get astronauts on the surface of the moon within the next five years. NASA recently requested more funding for their Advanced Cislunar and Surface Capabilities (ACSC) program. They plan to first send robots to the moon and then later send astronauts.... Read more...
The scientists and engineers of SpaceX love to smash records. Their list of “firsts” is impressive and includes the first ever propulsive landing for an orbital rocket. Now, not only did SpaceX land three rocket boosters yesterday after their Falcon Heavy launch, but they have also received a NASA contract for an asteroid redirect mission. Footage of the landing the Falcon Heavy side boosters SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket was launched yesterday from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida shortly after 6pm EST. This was the first time SpaceX landed all three of the Falcon Heavy rocket boosters. The two side boosters landed simultaneously and the center core booster... Read more...
At this point, we tend to take it for granted that SpaceX will stick its landings. However, the company's latest landing is one for the books. SpaceX's unmanned Crew Dragon capsule landed off the coast Florida after a trip to the International Space Station. This was the first time in fifty years that an astronaut capsule landed in the Atlantic Ocean and SpaceX’s first orbital test mission. The Crew Dragon capsule successfully detached from the International Space Station (ISS) at 2:30 am EST. It burned its thrusters several times before its final descent. The capsule deployed several parachutes before successfully landing 200 miles off of the coast of Florida at 8:45am EST. SpaceX’s... Read more...
SpaceX has hit a milestone for its Crew Dragon capsule, with an unmanned version of the capsule blasting off to meet up with the International Space Station (ISS). If testing goes well, the goal is to enable the U.S. to send its astronauts into orbit for the first time since the Space Shuttle fleet was retired. SpaceX sent the Crew Dragon capsule into orbit mounted atop one of its own Falcon 9 rockets. No humans were aboard the Crew Dragon capsule for this test launch; the only passenger was a test dummy called Ripley, a reference to the classic sci-fi/horror film Aliens. The launch went off without a hitch and the rocket separated from the capsule about 11 minutes after liftoff. The capsule... Read more...
Restoration projects that focus on old computers that have long since been replaced by newer equipment always pique our interest, but this one is different. Mike Stewart, a "space engineer extraordinaire and living Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) encyclopedia," is spearheading an effort to bring back to life arguably one of the most important computer systems ever built in US history. That's not hyperbole, folks. As fellow restorer Carl Claunch explains in a running log on his blog, this a block II AGC, the kind that was used on all manned flights into space during its era. It played a critical role in the NASA Apollo program, helping to navigate space flights to the moon. With the exception of... Read more...
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