Watch NASA’s Live Briefing On Manned Mars Mission Progress And Orion Testflight


Originally posted on TechCrunch:

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

NASA is gearing up for its manned mission to Mars, and a key step will be Thursday’s launch of the Orion capsule to a destination 3,600 miles from Earth, loaded with sensors rather than people for this initial trial run. The test launch will use NASA’s heavy-lift Space Launch System in the future, but for this trial run it’ll be using an existing Delta IV Heavy rocket starting at 7:05 AM on Thursday, should everything go as planned.

This is just a very early step in the overall trajectory of achieving a manned journey to Mars – the SLS system is being groomed to first send humans to destinations such as deep space asteroids sometime in the next decade, before eventually making the trek to Mars at some later date.

Tune in to the video feed above at 12 PM ET to hear more…

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Descent ‘feathers’ deployed just before Virgin Galactic space plane’s crash


Originally posted on Gigaom:

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo crashed Friday after special tail “feathers” meant to increase drag deployed early, BBC reports. One pilot unlocked the feather system, but it then deployed without a command.

The National Transportation Safety Board, which is conducting the investigation into the doomed flight, has not yet stated if the feathers caused the crash. On Friday, scrutiny was placed on the never-before-flown mix of fuel Virgin Galactic has used. The Wall Street Journal reported SpaceShipTwo’s fuel tanks and engines were recovered “largely intact,” making an explosion less likely.

“If there was a huge explosion, it didn’t occur, I didn’t see it,” Mojave Spaceport CEO Stuart Witt, who was at the scene during the crash, said at a press conference Friday.

The pilot that died in the crash has since been identified as Michael Alsbury. He was a pilot for Scaled Composites for 13 years. He flew SpaceShipTwo during its first-ever powered flight…

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Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Has Crashed


Originally posted on TechCrunch:

space ship two

This morning, Virgin Galactic tweeted that their SpaceShipTwo spaceplane had experienced an “in-flight anomaly”

We have now confirmed that SpaceShipTwo has crashed during a test flight due to currently unknown causes. A press conference is planned with more details at 2 pm pacific.

SpaceShipTwo was designed primarily for space tourism, meant to carry passengers high enough to experience near-weightlessness for roughly $200,000 per ticket. This was a test flight, however, so no passengers are believed to have been onboard.

Update: VirginGalactic confirms the loss of SpaceShipTwo. See timeline below.

WhiteKnightTwo, the jet-powered craft that carries SpaceShipTwo to altitude before detaching, landed safely. At an altitude of roughly 50,000 feet, WhiteKniteTwo releases SpaceShipTwo to fly on its own by rocket power. WK2 had released SpaceShipTwo for free flight roughly 6 minutes before the crash.

There were at least two pilots on board SpaceShipTwo before the crash; their status is unknown. We…

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Updated: Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo space plane crashes with two pilots on board, one killed


Originally posted on Gigaom:

Virgin Galactic‘s SpaceShipTwo crashed during a test flight today over the Mojave Desert of Southern California, resulting in its destruction. One pilot is dead and another seriously injured, officials confirmed at a press conference Friday afternoon.

An ABC report showed the plane in pieces on the ground.

“Space is hard and today was a tough day,” Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides said at the press conference. “We are going to be supporting the investigation as we figure out what happened today, and we’re going to get through it. The future rests in many ways on hard days like this. But we…

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Pocket Spacecraft wants to send tiny personalized spacecraft to the moon in 2016


Originally posted on Gigaom:

It’s getting easier and easier to own your own spacecraft. Not the giant, fly-to-Mars variety, but miniature CubeSat satellites or tiny paper-like structures that drift over alien surfaces. The Pocket Spacecraft project on Kickstarter is offering up personal CD-shaped spacecraft called Scouts for about $154 or $310, depending on if you want it to land on Earth or the moon. Backers who pledge less than that can own a spacecraft with a team of up to 50 other people.

Three days shy of their crowdfunding deadline, Pocket Spacecraft has raised nearly $100,000. That’s far from the more than $450,000 for which it originally asked, but the Bristol, U.K.-based company has a plan. It’s raised at least $350,000 from other private sources, including the European Space Agency, the Watershed and the Satellite Applications Catapult, meaning the project will proceed anyway.

Scouts are roughly 3 inches across and thinner than a sheet…

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Space: Voyager 1 – Still Going Strong


The link below is to an interesting article that looks at the fascinating journey of Voyager 1 as it heads out of the Solar System.

For more visit:
http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/06/27/nasa-voyager-1-probe-enters-new-realm-near-interstellar-space/

Russia: Meteor in Russia – Photos


The link below is to a photo gallery of photos from Russia showing the meteor explosion that occurred recently.

For more visit:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/gallery/2013/feb/15/meteorite-explosion-russia-in-pictures