Photokina 2014 highlights

Space

Three free-flying, bowling ball-sized robots aboard the ISS will use a 3D map to provide s...

Last week, Orbital Sciences' second commercial resupply mission delivered two Project Tango Google smartphones to the International Space Station. The sensor-filled phones will be used to create a detailed 3D map of the spacecraft, which will then help two soccer ball-sized, free-flying satellites autonomously navigate through some very tight spots.  Read More

Moon pit in the Mare Tranquillitatis (Image: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University)

Moving into a new neighborhood means finding a place to live, and 45 years after Neil Armstrong set foot on the Moon, our largest satellite is still notoriously short on housing. However, that may be changing as NASA announces that its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has discovered over 200 deep pits on the Moon that could not only provide scientists with deeper insights into the geology of the Moon, but could also be used as sites for future Lunar outposts.  Read More

Artists concept of the Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle in orbit during its first atmosph...

The European Space Agency is preparing to test the atmospheric re-entry capabilities of its new early concept spaceplane, the Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV). The test flight is slated for launch in November atop a European made Vega rocket, with the hope that results will inform the design of future ESA spacecraft.  Read More

Artist's impression of ATV-5 Georges Lemaître burning up on re-entry (Image: ESA-D/Ducros)

Ever wonder if the light goes out when you close the fridge door? Or what it’s like to ride a spacecraft as it burns up in the Earth’s atmosphere? The fridge may remain an eternal mystery, but ESA plans to answer the latter question when its unmanned Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV)-5 Georges Lemaître completes its six-month mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The space agency has developed a “black box” camera system designed to record the dramatic event and transmit the images back to Earth after the craft breaks up.  Read More

If the Apollo astronauts had worn high-tops, they might have looked like these

As of July 20th, it will be officially 45 years since astronauts first walked on the moon. To mark the occasion, General Electric has teamed up with high-end footwear manufacturer Android Homme and clothing retailer JackThreads to create a limited-edition sneaker known as The Missions. The shoe was inspired by the Apollo 11 crew's moon boots, and incorporates some "spacey" materials.  Read More

The UK spaceport would court commercial spaceflight operators, such as Virgin Galactic (Ph...

The commercialization of space travel is picking up pace with companies like SpaceX and Virgin Galactic leading the way. In a bid to ensure it doesn't miss out on the potential economic benefits of commercial spaceflights, the UK is looking to construct its first spaceport, with a shortlist of eight potential sites announced at the Farnborough Air Show.  Read More

The 3D model shows the Homunculus Nebula surrounding Eta Carinae (Image: NASA Goddard (ins...

Using a 3D printer to make key fobs and automatic pistols is old hat. The latest thing is a 3D-printed model stellar nebulae. Using new telescopic observations, NASA has created a 3D model of the Homunculus Nebula that isn't just a string of mathematical equations, but a printable plan for a physical representation of an exploding star system. It’s intended to give astronomers a better understanding of the nature of the stars, but can also be downloaded and printed out by the public using a 3D printer.  Read More

The OG2 mission carries 17 satellites (Image: SpaceX)

SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket today, carrying six Orbcomm OG2 communication satellites in the second mission flight of a Falcon booster equipped with landing legs. At 11:15 am EDT, the Falcon 9 lifted off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The launch comes on the heels of three aborted attempts. The first, on May 10, was cancelled due to a helium leak; a second on June 20, was scratched because of a depressurization alarm in the second stage; and a third, on June 21, was called off because of bad weather.  Read More

Artist's impression of stardust forming around a supernova (Image: ESO/M. Kornmesser)

Using an instrument mounted on the European Southern Observatory's (ESO's) Very Large Telescope (VLT), scientists have been able to shed light on some of the mysteries surrounding stardust by observing the event and aftermath of a supernova. The observation was undertaken in an attempt to answer a number of questions regarding stardust, chief of which being where and how the grains are formed and grow. Another oddity that the team hoped to resolve was just how these tiny, fragile particles manage to survive the inhospitable environment that prevails following a supernova.  Read More

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

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