Archive for the ‘space’ Category

UFOs Are Coming to Congress

May 24, 2021

UFOs Are Coming to Congress

A declassified report with a “detailed analysis of unidentified aerial phenomena data and intelligence” from the Office of Naval Intelligence Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force, the Director of National Intelligence, and the FBI will be presented to Congress in June. Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAPs) are more commonly known as Unidentified Flying Objects or UFOs.

More:

“UFOs regularly spotted in restricted U.S. airspace, report on the phenomena due next month,” CBS 60 Minutes

“How the Pentagon Started Taking U.F.O.s Seriously,” Gideon Lewis-Kraus, The New Yorker

Updates:

“How UFO sightings went from joke to national security worry in Washington,” Michael S. Rosenwald, Washington Post

“‘From hearsay to hard evidence’: are UFOs about to go mainstream?” Adam Gabbatt, The Guardian

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Astronauts Must Sleep in Used Vehicle

April 27, 2021

On Saturday, four new astronauts arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) in a used SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, a recyled capsule used in a previous mission. The four new arrivals join the seven already on the ISS, which only has nine beds. That means two astronauts will have to sleep in the used SpaceX vehicle in their “I Went through NASA Training for THIS?” PJ’s.

More:

“With 11 people on space station, astronauts get crafty with sleeping spots,” Doris Elin Urrutia, Space

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Found: Hidden Water on Mars

March 18, 2021

Found: Hidden Water on Mars

“Vast amounts of ancient Martian water may have been buried beneath its surface instead of escaping into space, scientists report in the journal Science. The findings, published Tuesday, may help untangle a clash of theories seeking to explain the disappearance of Mars’ water, a resource that was abundant on the planet’s surface billions of years ago.

Through modeling and data from Mars probes, rovers, and meteorites, researchers at the California Institute of Technology found that a broad range — between 30 to 99 percent — of the Red Planet’s earliest amounts of water could have vanished from the surface through a geological process called crustal hydration, where water was locked away in the rocks of Mars.”

— “Mars might be hiding most of its old water underground, scientists say,” Joey Roulette, The Verge

More:

“Mars: Vast amount of water may be locked up on planet,” Paul Rincon, BBC News

“Oceans’ Worth of Water May Live in Minerals Beneath Mars’ Surface,” Brad Bergan, Interesting Engineering

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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The Moon Is Awash In Water

October 29, 2020

The Moon Is Awash In Water

Two new studies indocate that there are “cold traps” on the moon full of water. NASA spied on Luna from a high-flying jet named SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy) and found the unique signature of water all over the place on sunlit portions of the moon. A secord study finds that frozen water could be hiding in lunar shadows on 15,444 square miles of the moon’s real estate. Astronauts are probably planning lakeside chateaus as you read this.

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Space Toilet: A Giant Flush for Womankind

October 5, 2020

Space Toilet: A Giant Flush for Womankind

Friday night, while you were watching Donald Trump’s helicopter touch down at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, an Antares rocket lifted off from Wallops Island carrying a $23 million titanium toilet to the International Space Station. The new low-gravity space potty, known as the Universal Waste Management System (UWMS), sports a smaller footprint and improved efficiency, and is equally adapted to the needs of male and female astronauts. As NASA astronauts say, “you go, girl!”

More:

“Finally, a Space Toilet for Ladies,” Amanda Arnold, The Cut

“NASA’s new $30M space toilet is smaller, better smelling and more female-friendly,” CBC Radio

“State-of-the-art space toilet successfully launched into space,” Mark Kaufman, Mashable

“Antares rocket launches new astronaut toilet and more to space station for NASA,” Chelsea Gohd, Space.com

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Image by Mike Licht. Flush Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com.

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Boeing on Starliner Failure: Oops.

March 4, 2020

Boeing on Starliner Failure: Oops.

As part of the Trump administration’s “privatize everything” policy, NASA contracted Boeing, maker of the brilliant  737 MAX, to build the CST-100 Starliner space capsule to shuttle astronauts to and from the International Space Station under the multi-billion-dollar Commercial Crew Program (CCP). The Trump administration wants to replace NASA’s government bloat with the efficiency and precision of private industry. NASA launched the Starliner in December:

“The Starliner spacecraft encountered problems almost immediately after reaching space when its onboard computer, with its time miscalibrated by 11 hours, failed to fire the thrusters that would send the craft on a path to the space station. While aloft, the spacecraft struggled to communicate with the ground. By the time controllers could figure out what went wrong, the spacecraft had burned too much fuel, preventing it from docking with the station, one of its primary objectives.”

— “Boeing admits it failed to test the Starliner spacecraft adequately before its maiden flight,” Christian Davenport, Washington Post

Onward to Mars!

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Spaceport America!

February 13, 2020

Spaceport America!

The State of New Mexico gave a needy Brit named Sir Richard Branson $250 million to set up Spaceport America, a facility where rich people can launch into space pleasure jaunts. You know, your typical Public-Private Partnership.

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Ted Cruz and the Space Pirates!

May 17, 2019

Ted Cruz and the Space Pirates!

Shiver me timbers, matey! Senator Ted Cruz says we need a Space Force to protect us from space pirates:

“Since the ancient Greeks first put to sea, nations have recognized the necessity of naval forces and maintaining a superior capability to protect waterborne travel and commerce from bad actors. Pirates threaten the open seas, and the same is possible in space. In this same way, I believe we too must now recognize the necessity of a Space Force to defend the nation and to protect space commerce and civil space exploration.”

The CBO says the initial bill to launch the Trump Space Force is $2 billion of your tax dollars, but independent estimates rocket start-up costs closer to $5 billion. Maybe we could defray the expense by licencing the film rights to Netflix. After all, the Cruz space pirate plot treatment is sure getting lots of buzz on Twitter.

More:

“Cruz warns ‘Space Force’ needed to prevent space pirates,” Owen Daugherty, The Hill

“Space Genius Ted Cruz Is Super Worried About Space Pirates Stealing our Space Booty,”
Jason Torchinsky, Foxtrot Alpha

“US Senator Ted Cruz irked by ‘space pirate’ ridicule,” BBC News

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Image: (“Ted Cruz & the Space Pirates, after Louis S. Glanzman”) by Mike Licht.  Download copies here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com.

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NASA: Up in Space, But Nothing to Wear

March 28, 2019

NASA: Up in Space, But Nothing to Wear

NASA’s much-publicized all-female spacewalk has been cancelled due to a wardrobe malfunction. The U.S. space agency has only one spacesuit in size “Medium.” Houston, we have a gender-specific problem.

More:

“NASA: All-Women Space Walk Is ‘Inevitable,’ but Sorry, Not the Right Spacesuits This Time,” George Dvorsky, Gizmodo

“First All-Female Spacewalk Canceled Because NASA Doesn’t Have Two Suits That Fit,” Jacey Fortin and Karen Zraick, New York Times

“Not enough spacesuits in women’s sizes?! Twitter reacts to NASA canceling all-female spacewalk,” Jennifer Sangalang, USA Today

“NASA has an awkward history with the whole women-in-space thing,” Gillian Brockell, Washington Post

“In NASA’s spacesuit saga, women see their own stories,” Jena McGregor, New York Times

“If space is the future, that future needs to include everyone,” Mary Robinette Kowal, Washington Post

Update:

“NASA Says It Hopes to Accommodate Smaller Sizes in a New Space Suit Planned for the 2020s,” Emily Moon, Pacific Standard

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Image by Mike Licht. Download copies here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com.

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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Jade Rabbit on the Dark Side of the Moon

January 3, 2019

Jade Rabbit on the Dark Side of the Moon

The landing and rover phases of China’s Chang’e-4 unmanned spacecraft have landed on the dark side of the moon, in a crater named for a Hungarian-American JPL director. The Queqiao radio relay satellite orbiting above the moon enables the space robots on the moon’s far side to communicate with mission control in China. The mission’s rover, exploring the surface of the moon’s far side, is called Yutu-2, “Jade Rabbit.”

In Chinese myth, Chang’e is the Moon Goddess, and the Jade Rabbit (Yu Tu) is her pet. The China National Space Administration plans to land non-mythical personalities – astronauts – on the Moon by 2020, and set up a moon base in 2030.

More:

“Chang’e-4: China space mission lands on Moon’s far side,” BBC News

“Chang’e 4 landing: China probe makes historic touchdown on far side of the moon,” Kate Lyons, The Guardian

“‘New Chapter’ in Space Exploration as China Reaches Far Side of the Moon,” Steven Lee Myers and Zoe Mou, New York Times

“China’s lunar probe sends first photo of dark side of the moon after historic soft landing,” Catherine Wong, South China Morning Post

“China just made history by landing on the far side of the Moon,” Echo Huang, Quartz

“China lunar probe sheds light on the ‘dark’ side of the moon,” Ken Moritsugu, Associated Press

“China just landed on the far side of the moon: What comes next?” Michael Greshko, National Geographic

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