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Posts tagged ‘Cometris Star Archives’

Ukraine eyes new Spaceport downunder

Moscow (Sputnik)

Mar 13, 2018

The Ukrainian Space Agency has reportedly come up with an ambitious proposal to establish a spaceport some 11,500 km from home.

According to The West Australian newspaper, Kiev has been lobbying both Canberra and the northwestern Australian state government of Kimberley for two years now, with its proposals falling on deaf ears.

Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia, Nikolai Kulinich, assured the newspaper that the proposal was “very realistic,” adding that “Ukraine could launch tomorrow morning if we had a site. We offer our people and our expertise if Australia has land for use.”

According to the Ukrainian Space Agency, it would require between 5,000 and 7,000 square kilometers of territory on a commercial lease. It would like to establish its space port near the Curtain Air Base, a Royal Australian Air Force airbase and civilian airport. A preliminary study could be completed for about half a million dollars, The West Australian says, with a study on construction and feasibility possible within two years.

The Ukrainian Space Agency envisions its Australian spaceport venture becoming Asia’s key spaceport, with launches sponsored by Australian, Japanese, Singaporean, South Korean and Indonesian partners.

Private investments, as well as contributions from Australia’s neighbors and allies, are expected to fund the construction of the spaceport, including its launch pads, hangars and support facilities.

Commenting on the ambitious plan, observers have pointed out that Ukraine’s once-proud space industry is but a shadow of its former self following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Ukraine’s space enterprises, including legendary enterprises like the Yuzhmash rocket plant and the Yuzhnoye design bureau have fallen on particularly hard times after the severing of space and rocketry industry cooperation with Russia in 2014, with many rocket scientists leaving Ukraine in pursuit of better opportunities elsewhere.

As to the potential costs of Ukraine’s proposed space port idea, Moscow’s experience with the construction of its Vostochny Cosmodrome has given some indication of the tremendous price tag attached to building a spaceport from scratch. Vostochny, expected to be completed later this year, has been estimated to cost upwards of $7.5 billion US.

Expert opinion aside, social media users aren’t too thrilled about the idea either, hatching a series of memes about the lack of realism in Kiev’s plan.

Source: Space Daily.

Link: http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Ukraine_eyes_new_Spaceport_downunder_999.html.

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Trump pushes for new ‘space force’

Washington (AFP)

March 13, 2018

President Donald Trump said Tuesday he wants the US military to create a new “space force,” adding to the Pentagon’s current ground, navy and air forces.

Trump told troops at the Miramar Marine Corps Air Station near San Diego that the new group would be able to encapsulate the “tremendous amount” of work the military and government are doing in space-related defense.

“My new national strategy for space recognizes that space is a war-fighting domain, just like the land, air and sea,” Trump said.

“We may even have a space force… We have the air force, we’ll have the space force, we’ll have the army, the navy.

“Maybe we’ll have to do that. That could happen,” he said.

Since taking office, Trump has frequently touted his support for the US military and placed high-ranking generals in top White House and cabinet posts.

Last year some legislators pushed a bill in Congress that included a provision to establish a new branch of the military dubbed the Space Corps.

But the military itself has resisted, saying it does not need to create another force and its attendant bureaucracy.

“At a time when we are trying to integrate the department’s joint warfighting functions, I do not wish to add a separate service that would likely present a narrower and even parochial approach to space operations,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told Congressman Michael Turner in a letter last July.

It would be “premature to add additional organizational and administrative tail to the department at a time I am trying to reduce overhead,” he added.

The idea was finally dropped from the Pentagon’s funding bill by the end of last year, but it retains some support in Congress, where advocates say the US is facing significant strategic vulnerabilities in the face of Russian and Chinese pushes into space warfare.

Republican Representative Mike Rogers told a February 28 conference at the Center for Strategic and International Studies that a separate space corps could be carved out from the air force within “three to five years”.

He said China and Russia have become “near peers” to the US in space capabilities, and the US is not pushing hard enough to stay ahead.

“That’s unacceptable that we have allowed that to happen, particularly in a day and age when it is essential to have those space capabilities to fight and win wars,” he said.

Source: Space War.

Link: http://www.spacewar.com/reports/Trump_pushes_for_new_space_force_999.html.

Elon Musk plans to launch spacecraft for Mars in 2019

by Ray Downs

Washington (UPI)

Mar 11, 2018

Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk said Sunday that he is on track to launch a spacecraft for Mars by next year.

“We are building the first ship, or interplanetary ship, right now,” Musk said during a question and answer session at the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas. “And we’ll probably be able to do short flights, short up and down flights, probably some time in the first half of next year.”

Musk said that his ship — the Big Falcon Rocket — will be capable of greatly reducing the average cost of a spaceflight as far as Mars in large part because it will be reusable.

“This question of reusability is so fundamental to rocketry,” Musk said. “It is the fundamental breakthrough that’s needed.”

After a series of short flights, Musk said he hopes to have a cargo mission land on Mars by 2022.

Musk said the goal is to begin a human colony on Mars and the first spaceflights there will begin to plant those seeds.

“Once you can get there, the opportunity is immense,” Musk said. “We’re going to do our best to get there and then make sure there’s an environment in which entrepreneurs can flourish.”

In September, Musk said the Big Falcon Rocket could also one day be used for travel to different points on earth, with the possibility of flights from New York City to Shanghai taking less then 40 minutes.

Space bases could preserve civilization in World War III: Elon Musk

Washington (AFP) March 12, 2018 – Bases on the moon and Mars could help preserve human civilization and hasten its regeneration on earth in the event of a third world war, billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, said on Sunday.

Musk, the founder of rocket and spacecraft company SpaceX, said the company’s interplanetary ship could begin test flights as soon as next year.

There is “some probability” that there will be another Dark Ages, “particularly if there is a third world war,” Musk said at the SXSW conference.

“We want to make sure that there’s enough of a seed of human civilization somewhere else to bring civilization back, and perhaps shorten the length of the Dark Ages,” he said.

“I think a moon base and a Mars base that could perhaps help regenerate life back here on earth would be really important.”

Musk said he thinks that SpaceX’s interplanetary ship will “be able to do short flights, short sort of up and down flights, probably sometime in the first half of next year.”

SpaceX launched the world’s most powerful rocket, the Falcon Heavy, last month, sending Musk’s red Tesla Roadster car toward an orbit near Mars.

Source: Space Daily.

Link: http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Elon_Musk_plans_to_launch_spacecraft_for_Mars_in_2019_999.html.

Mars Express views moons set against Saturn’s rings

Paris (ESA)

Mar 02, 2018

New images and video from ESA’s Mars Express show Phobos and Deimos drifting in front of Saturn and background stars, revealing more about the positioning and surfaces of the Red Planet’s mysterious moons.

Mars’ two small moons are intriguing objects. While we know something of their size, appearance and position thanks to spacecraft such as ESA’s Mars Express, much remains unknown. How and where did they form? What are they made of? What exactly is on their surfaces – and could we send a lander to find out?

Mars Express has been studying Mars and its moons for many years. The satellite recently observed both Phobos, Mars’ innermost and largest moon at up to 26 km in diameter, and Deimos, Phobos’ smaller sibling at 6.2 km in diameter, to produce this new video and series of images.

The video combines 30 images as individual frames and shows Phobos passing through the frame with the gas giant planet Saturn, which sits roughly a billion kilometers away, visible as a small ringed dot in the background.

Precise positioning

Mars Express has been working for more than 14 years at the Red Planet. While several other spacecraft are currently at Mars, including ESA’s ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, Mars Express’ near-polar elliptical orbit gives it some advantages for certain observations.

In particular, its path takes it closer to Phobos than any other spacecraft, and allows it to periodically observe the moon close up from within 150 km – in the summer of 2017, it came as close as 115 km.

The images of Phobos and Saturn comprising the video were taken on 26 November 2016 by the High Resolution Stereo Camera. Mars Express was travelling at about 3 km/s when it obtained these views, highlighting the importance of knowing Phobos’ exact position: the spacecraft had just seconds to image the rocky body as it passed by.

Scientists repeatedly refine our knowledge of the moons’ positioning in the sky and ensure it is up-to-date by observing each moon against background reference stars and other Solar System bodies. These calculated positions are incredibly precise, and can be accurate to just a couple of kilometers.

Studying the surface

These images are also key to understanding the surface and structure of the moons. Alongside the view of Phobos set against Saturn, Mars Express also obtained images of Phobos against a reference star on 8 January 2018 (star circled in red), close-up images of Phobos’ pockmarked surface on 12 September 2017, and images of Deimos with Saturn on 15 January 2018.

The frames of Phobos’ surface were taken during close flybys, and show the bumpy, irregular and dimpled surface in detail. Phobos has one of the largest impact craters relative to body size in the Solar System: Stickney crater’s 9 km diameter is around a third of the moon’s diameter. It is visible as the largest crater in these frames.

The same side of the moon always faces the planet, which means multiple flybys are needed to build up a full map of its surface.

Deimos is visible as an irregular and partially shadowed body in the foreground of one of the new Mars Express images, with the delicate rings of Saturn just about visible encircling the small dot in the background.

Deimos is significantly further away from Mars than its bigger sibling: while Phobos sits at just 6000 km from the surface, Deimos orbits at nearly 23 500 km. For comparison, our own satellite is around 16 times further from Earth than Deimos is from Mars.

Future missions to Mars

There is much we still wish to know about the Mars system. The moons remain particularly mysterious, with open questions about their origins, formation and composition. As a result, combined with their proximity to the Red Planet, the little moons have generated a lot of interest as a target for future missions.

Phobos in particular has been considered for a possible landing and sample-return mission. Owing to its nearness to Mars and one side always facing its parent, the moon could also be a possible location for a more permanent observation post. This would enable long-term monitoring and study of the martian surface and atmosphere, and communications relay for other spacecraft.

Understanding more about the positioning, surface, composition and terrain of both Phobos and Deimos from Mars Express observations is important for preparing for future missions.

Source: Mars Daily.

Link: http://www.marsdaily.com/reports/Mars_Express_views_moons_set_against_Saturns_rings_999.html.

NASA finds a large amount of water in an exoplanet’s atmosphere

by Ann Jenkins for STSI News

Baltimore MD (SPX)

Mar 02, 2018

Much like detectives study fingerprints to identify the culprit, scientists used NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes to identify the “fingerprints” of water in the atmosphere of a hot, bloated, Saturn-mass exoplanet some 700 light-years away. And, they found a lot of water. In fact, the planet, known as WASP-39b, has three times as much water as Saturn does.

Though no planet like this resides in our solar system, WASP-39b can provide new insights into how and where planets form around a star, say researchers. This exoplanet is so unique, it underscores the fact that the more astronomers learn about the complexity of other worlds, the more there is to learn about their origins. This latest observation is a significant step toward characterizing these worlds.

Although the researchers predicted they’d see water, they were surprised by how much water they found in this “hot Saturn.” Because WASP-39b has so much more water than our famously ringed neighbor, it must have formed differently. The amount of water suggests that the planet actually developed far away from the star, where it was bombarded by a lot of icy material. WASP-39b likely had an interesting evolutionary history as it migrated in, taking an epic journey across its planetary system and perhaps obliterating planetary objects in its path.

“We need to look outward so we can understand our own solar system,” explained lead investigator Hannah Wakeford of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, and the University of Exeter in Devon, United Kingdom. “But exoplanets are showing us that planet formation is more complicated and more confusing than we thought it was. And that’s fantastic!”

Wakeford and her team were able to analyze the atmospheric components of this exoplanet, which is similar in mass to Saturn but profoundly different in many other ways. By dissecting starlight filtering through the planet’s atmosphere into its component colors, the team found clear evidence for water. This water is detected as vapor in the atmosphere.

Using Hubble and Spitzer, the team has captured the most complete spectrum of an exoplanet’s atmosphere possible with present-day technology. “This spectrum is thus far the most beautiful example we have of what a clear exoplanet atmosphere looks like,” said Wakeford.

“WASP-39b shows exoplanets can have much different compositions than those of our solar system,” said co-author David Sing of the University of Exeter in Devon, United Kingdom. “Hopefully this diversity we see in exoplanets will give us clues in figuring out all the different ways a planet can form and evolve.”

Located in the constellation Virgo, WASP-39b whips around a quiet, Sun-like star, called WASP-39, once every four days. The exoplanet is currently positioned more than 20 times closer to its star than Earth is to the Sun. It is tidally locked, meaning it always shows the same face to its star.

Its day-side temperature is a scorching 1,430 degrees Fahrenheit (776.7 degrees Celsius). Powerful winds transport heat from the day-side around the planet, keeping the permanent night-side almost as hot. Although it is called a “hot Saturn,” WASP-39b is not known to have rings. Instead, it has a puffy atmosphere that is free of high-altitude clouds, allowing Wakeford and her team to peer down into its depths.

Looking ahead, Wakeford hopes to use the James Webb Space Telescope – scheduled to launch in 2019 – to get an even more complete spectrum of the exoplanet. Webb will be able to give information about the planet’s atmospheric carbon, which absorbs light at longer, infrared wavelengths than Hubble can see. By understanding the amount of carbon and oxygen in the atmosphere, scientists can learn even more about where and how this planet formed.

Source: Space Daily.

Link: http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/NASA_finds_a_large_amount_of_water_in_an_exoplanets_atmosphere_999.html.

At last minute, Russia scrubs cargo launch to space station

February 11, 2018

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia has scrubbed the planned launch of an unmanned cargo spacecraft that was to have delivered tons of supplies to the International Space Station. Preparations for the launch of the Progress ship from the Baikonur complex in Kazakhstan appeared to be proceeding smoothly Sunday until less than a minute before the liftoff.

Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, said the launch was halted after an automated command, but said the reason for the command was under investigation. It said the launch is rescheduled for Tuesday. The Russian spacecraft carry fuel, food and other supplies to the ISS. This one was to have attempted a new fast route to the station, docking just 3.5 hours after launch after just two Earth orbits.

There are six astronauts currently aboard the ISS — two Russians, three Americans and one from Japan.

Royal audience as SpaceX launches satellite for Luxembourg

February 01, 2018

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — SpaceX had a royal audience as it launched a satellite for Luxembourg. The Falcon 9 rocket blasted off late Wednesday afternoon from Cape Canaveral, Florida, hoisting GovSat-1 for the government of Luxembourg and SES, the European country’s prime satellite operator. The satellite will support both military and civilian security efforts.

Witnessing the launch were Luxembourg’s Prince Guillaume and his wife, Stephanie. The country’s prime minister, Xavier Bettel, and other high-ranking officials also were present. The rocket’s first-stage booster — which also flew last spring — was not recovered this time. Instead, it dropped into the Atlantic.

With GovSat-1 now in orbit, SpaceX can focus on next week’s debut of its new, big Falcon Heavy rocket. The test flight is scheduled for Tuesday.

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