nasa

Is Space Too Expensive?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 21/09/2018 - 5:00pm in


NASA’s history has been plagued by politics and budget concerns. For space exploration to survive, we need to think outside of these Earthly constraints.

Al-Jazeera on the First Test Flight of India’s Space Shuttle

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 19/09/2018 - 7:43pm in

In this short clip, just over two minutes long, from Al-Jazeera, posted two years ago in 2016, Tariq Bezley reports on the first test flight by the Indian Space Agency of their space shuttle. The shuttle was launched into space on top of a rocket fired from India’s launch facility north of Chenai. The craft separated from the rocket at an altitude of 70 km and re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere, which heated it up to 2,000 degrees.

A female scientist speaking for the Observer Research Foundation, Rajeswari P Rajagopalan talks on the video about how it was necessary to test the shuttle’s heat shield.

Besley states that so far only the US, USSR, Japan and Europe have launched reusable shuttles. He states that NASA’s Space Shuttle flew 135 missions in 30 years before it was finally decommissioned. It has been replaced by the US air forces X-37B test vehicle. This unmanned vehicle was on its third mission, and had been up there for a year. However, the secrecy surrounding its missions have provoked speculation that it is a spy satellite, or is being tested to deliver weapons from space.

He then goes on to discuss the Dreamchaser, the spaceplane being developed by the private Sierra Nevada firm to service the International Space Station. Its first flight is planned for 2019. India’s space shuttle is in a much earlier stage of development, and it’s estimated that it’ll be 10 or 15 years before it is ready to fly.

Besley also discusses how India successfully put a spacecraft in orbit around Mars in 2014, becoming the first Asian nation to do so.

Rajagopan states that China has flourishing military space programme, which is a direct challenge to India, and India has to respond if it is not to be left lagging behind.

Further tests will be carried out on the Indian spacecraft, including on the supersonic scramjet engine which the Indians hope will one day power the spaceplane. The Indians say that their Mars mission cost a tenth of that of other missions to the Red Planet. Besley concludes that if their space shuttle can achieve the same savings, space travel will become much more affordable for all.

A number of countries have developed plans for different spaceplanes. The Russians had their own version of the Space Shuttle, Buran, which looked exactly like the American. It has been mothballed since the Fall of the USSR and has never flown. The French designed a small spaceplane, Hermes, which was to go on top of their Ariane rocket in the 1990s. This was very much like the American Dynosoar spaceplane proposed in the 1950s, but never actually built. The Germans also designed a spaceplane, Sanger, named after one of their leading rocket scientists. This would consist of two craft, a larger plane acting as a first stage, which would piggy-back a second plane into orbit.
And then there was the British HOTOL project of the 1980s which also used airbreathing ramjet engines to take the plane into space. This was never completed because of problems with those same engines. The technology has since been perfected, and a new British spaceplane, Skylon, has been developed. It has been forecast that it will come into service sometime in the next few years, possibly flying from spaceport launch sites in Cornwall or Scotland.

The video shows how sophisticated India’s space programme is, and I’ve no doubt that their entry into space will lower launch costs significantly. While the American shuttle was an amazing piece of engineering, it was massively expensive. It only became competitive as a launch vehicle against Ariane and the other rockets because it was heavily subsidized by the American government.

I look forward to the development of India’s spaceplane and that country joining the US and Russia in launching manned space missions. Perhaps if more countries develop reusable spacecraft, humanity will at last enter a real age of crewed space exploration and colonization.

Set Controls For the Heart of the Sun

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 09/08/2018 - 5:00pm in


NASA is sending a probe into the fiery corona of the sun. Can we come?

Trump Threatens Mars With Tariffs To Protect America’s Bottled Water Industry

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 27/07/2018 - 8:26am in

Following news that Scientists have discovered water on the planet Mars American President Donald Trump has launched a verbal assault on the planet and threatened to put tariffs on it’s water.

“My role as President is to get the best deal for the people of America,” said the President. “So Mars you just can’t waltz on in and try and take away jobs from hard working American bottled water makers with your fancy space water.”

“We let you sell your Mars bars so don’t push us with your water. Otherwise I’ll hit you where it hurts with a tariff or three.”

News of the President’s attack on Mars has been rejoiced by Fox news who said of the attack: “Strong words from a strong President. If you’re against the US attacking Mars then why don’t you go and live there you damn anti-fa hippie.”

Whilst the rest of the media was more circumspect with most thankful that life hadn’t yet been discovered on Mars.

Mark Williamson 

www.twitter.com/MWChatShow

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Radio 4 Programme on 50th Anniversary of Kubrick’s 2001

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 03/04/2018 - 8:20pm in

Radio 4 on Saturday, 7th April, at 8.00 pm are putting on an edition of Archive on 4 marking the 50th anniversary of the release of Stanley Kubrick’s SF masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey. The programme’s entitled ‘Archive on 4: The Ultimate Trip: Stanley Kubrick’s Space Odyssey’. The blurb for it in the Radio Times runs

Fifty years after the US release of 2001: A Space Odyssey, cultural historian and writer Christopher Frayling travels back in time to explore the making of the co-written by British author and futurist Arthur C. Clarke and directed by Stanley Kubrick. He learns how organisations like Nasa and IBM were enlisted to help Kubrick craft his vision and speaks to scientists, critics and film=makers to examine the film’s legacy. (p. 119).

there’s also a two-page feature about the movie on pages 114-5.