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Space

The Firefly Alpha uses methane fuel and a plug-aerospike engine

The signs of a healthy industry isn't just growth or innovation, but a tendency to reach out and fill niche markets. A case in point is the small satellite launch company Firefly Space Systems, which recently unveiled its planned Alpha launcher. Aimed at the small satellite launch market, it's designed to launch satellites into low-Earth orbit (LEO) at very low cost with an unconventional aerospike engine. It is also the first orbital launcher to use methane as fuel.  Read More

The ISEE-3 Reboot Project was unable to successfully file the craft's engine (Image: NASA)

The private effort to recover the 35-year old ISEE-3 spacecraft has ended in apparent failure. In an interview on National Public Radio (NPR), Keith Cowing of the ISEE-3 Reboot Project said that though the group had been able to establish radio contact with the unmanned probe, it was unsuccessful in getting the engines to fire properly. This means it will not be able to make the planned course correction and the craft will head back into deep space.  Read More

Researchers used sound wave readings of NGC 2264 to determine the age of stars (Photo: SIR...

One of the long-standing difficulties in astrophysics has been a way to accurately determine the age of a star. Brand new stars are obvious from their location in or near "star nurseries" of interstellar gas and dust, and "adult" stars can be roughly characterized through various methods, including a calculation based on their mass and luminosity. Unfortunately, these methods are approximations at best. Researchers at KU Leuven's Institute for Astronomy have now discovered a way to distinguish young stars from older ones by measuring the acoustic waves that they emit using ultrasound technology.  Read More

Astronomers have disproved the existence of two exoplanets thought to orbit Gliese 581 in ...

Those packing their bags for a trip to the two potentially habitable exoplanets previously claimed to be orbiting the red dwarf star Gliese 581 had better rethink their travel plans. Astronomers at Pennsylvania State University say the planets, Gliese 581 d and Gliese 581 g, don't actually exist.  Read More

ESA's prototype dropship attached to a mock lander (Photo: Airbus Defence & Space)

The ESA has tested a novel system that may allow the agency to safely land rovers on Mars using a quadcopter-like dropship. A fully automated, proof of concept Skycrane prototype was created over the course of eight months under the ESA's StarTiger program, with the system's hardware largely derived from commercially available quadcopter components.  Read More

The spiral galaxy NGC 4258 is ejecting gas and high-energy particles in a spectacular disp...

As the US prepares for 4th of July fireworks here on Earth, a nearby spiral galaxy similar to our Milky Way is putting on a pyrotechnics display of its own. The galaxy, NGC 4258 (also known as Messier 106 or M 106), is ejecting gas and high-energy particles in a spectacular display of power that is rippling across the face of the galaxy with shock waves of stellar energy.  Read More

Picture taken from Cassini in 2013, displaying the Earth as seen from orbit around Saturn ...

Having returned a vast number of incredible images of Saturn, her rings and her moons, NASA's Cassini spacecraft is reaching the final stage of its marathon mission. As such, and with the help of over 2,000 members of the general public, mission operators have selected a fitting name for the final maneuvers of the iconic spacecraft.  Read More

The LDSD test vehicle being fished from the Pacific Ocean by the Kahana recovery vessel (P...

NASA has successfully carried out the first of three airborne tests for its Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD), a saucer shaped test vehicle which will one day be used to slow down scientific payloads entering the atmosphere of Mars. This new system of atmospheric deceleration will allow the agency to contemplate heavier, more ambitious endeavors, building towards a manned mission to the red planet.  Read More

The ForceShoe was originally developed to help stroke patients (Image: NASA)

Given that there isn't any gravity on the International Space Station you’d think that shoes would be a very low priority, but on the latest Russian Soyuz capsule to dock with the station, NASA sent along a pair of high-tech ForceShoes to monitor astronauts as they exercise to make sure they get the full benefits of their workouts.  Read More

A mock Orion spacecraft falls to Earth under three fully deployed main parachutes (Photo: ...

NASA has upped the ante in its most recent test of the Orion spacecraft's parachute deployment system ahead of its maiden test flight (EFT-1) scheduled for launch later this year. Today's operation saw a test version of the Orion crew module falling through the skies above Arizona on the 14th of 17 planned drops designed to test a soft landing system which may one day protect astronauts returning from missions to Mars.  Read More

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