Mining the Moon

It sounds completely like science fiction, something out of a campy space thriller where the protagonist is a miner taking a daily shuttle to the Moon to mine all the precious metals that the Earth needs to sustain itself.  But in real life, for a long time, it was thought that the Moon was a dead rock, completely useless to humanity except as the gravitational force to provide the amazing tides in the bay of Fundy.  Today we know so much more about the Moon, and its value has (pun intended) skyrocketed. For one, the low gravity of the Moon...

Another Launch Disaster Strikes Russia!

Eight minutes after launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, a Russian Proton-M rocket experienced a catastrophic failure in its third stage rocket, resulting in the complete atmospheric burn-up of the rocket and its payload, a Mexican Communications Satellite. After launching at 11:47am local time in Kazakhstan, the rocket experienced an emergency situation 497 seconds into the flight, reported as a failure in the rocket’s Breeze-M third stage.  The carrier rocket was launching the Mexsat 1 communications satellite, known as Centenario, into orbit, in a contract with the Mexican government. After reaching a 161 Km altitude, the rocket failed and fell back to...

SpaceX Wants to go to Mars, and they are Marketing it!

Its no secret that Elon Musk wants to go to Mars, and if he keeps steering the ship of amazing work done by SpaceX, he will have full support.  He has been candid about mistakes, honest about goals, and modest about successes.  So with Mars on the horizon in the future, here are some tourism posters made by SpaceX. All images courtesy of SpaceX. They have such a retro 50s sci-fi feel, which I love.  It’s making fun of all those old campy posters, but there is a decidedly romantic feel to them, especially for anyone who has dreamed of...

We’ve Landed on Mercury! And by ‘Landed’ I mean ‘Smashed Into’

Okay so even though it is technically the first ever Earth-borne object to ever touch the surface of Mercury, it isn’t as hopeful as one might expect from the planet’s best and brightest scientists.  But in all fairness we have crash landed on Mars, the Moon, and into the clouds of Jupiter, so it’s not uncommon.  The Messenger spacecraft has been in space since 2004, orbiting the Sun multiple times in order to arrive at Mercury in 2008.  Since then it has completed 4,103 orbits and obtained an incredible amount of scientific data as the first ever space probe to...

SpaceX Landing attempt #2 – Another awesome explosion

As the capsule separates from the first stage rocket, the second stage booster takes over and sends Dragon into orbit around the Earth to rendezvous with it’s target a few hours from now.  At this point the mission is a complete success from NASA’s perspective, but to Elon Musk and the rest of the SpaceX team, the real challenge is just beginning.  They have to land that first stage rocket on a 300 x 170 foot barge in the vast ocean, or risk losing millions of dollars in their investment. Here’s how it went. Okay not so well, but arguably...

One Year Mission on the ISS Begins!

When Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield was in space, on the International Space Station (ISS), he stayed there for six months, the standard length of stay for an astronaut.  On the ISS, three of the six-person crew are replaced every three months.  After returning to Earth, Hadfield could barely walk.  He had lost bone density and muscle mass, his immune system weakened, cardiovascular functions slowed, and he produced less red blood cells.  The lack of gravity is bad for humans,  The longest a human being has ever been in space was Russian cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov, who was in space for a staggering...

SpaceX Releases Awesome Video of Rocket Crash-Landing

Last week, as the Dragon capsule successfully launched for the International Space Station under the watch of Space enthusiasts the world over.  There was also a bit of chatter about a secondary SpaceX goal, to land the Falcon 9 rocket on a floating barge in the Atlantic Ocean as a new method of recovery. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk had tweeted at the time that the landing did not go well, implying a bit of damage to the landing pad.  A few days later, a first picture surfaced of the landing pad showing a bit of charring and a few rocket...

SpaceX Launch: Successful! SpaceX Landing: Needs Work!

Saturday Morning, 4:47am, Launch: Confirmed.  SpaceX launched another successful resupply mission to the International Space Station this morning.  The successful launch comes in the wake of the Orbital Sciences Antares rocket explosion back in late October, and is the fourth mission as part of a 12+ Mission contract with NASA worth 1.6 Billion dollars.  The Dragon capsule is expected to rendezvous with the ISS early Monday morning, where Astronauts will use the Canada arm to grab it and connect. The capsule will remain connected to the ISS for more than four weeks as ISS astronauts unpack supplies and repack completed experiments...

The Launch was a Success! Orion is Up!

After yesterday’s scrubbed launch due to valve issues, the Orion spacecraft has launched on its first full test flight aboard a Delta IV rocket.  This is the first step for humanity to reach beyond the Moon, and the Orion craft will eventually carry astronauts Watching it live and seeing everyone in the space flight community on twitter talking about it and posting pictures really makes you feel like a part of the mission itself.  I feel like I’m there in mission control along with the NASA staff, and having followed the progress of the mission for so long it feels...

DNA Survives a Trip into Earth’s Atmosphere

Panspermia. Look it up.  It sounds more like science fiction than science fact, but imagine the implications.  It is the idea that life is everywhere, and is seeded throughout the universe by comets, asteroids, meteors, rogue planets, and even spacecraft, by way of unintended contamination of microbes.  It could also explain why there is life on Earth. Because we still know so little about the Universe around us, panspermia is considered a plausible scenario.  To test parts of this theory, a team from the University of Zurich’s Institute of Anatomy used small pipettes to actually place double stranded DNA on the outside of...