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Lunar X PRIZE

Space

Launch your own satellite for US$8000

Interorbital Systems (IOS), a rocket and spacecraft construction company founded in 1996, has announced the age of the Personal Satellite. For US$8,000, IOS provides the TubeSat Personal Satellite (PS) Kit, complete with launch to low Earth orbit (LEO). A TubeSat is a (very) low-cost alternative to the CubeSat - for comparison, by the time you have assembled a CubeSat and had it placed in orbit, your cost will be well north of US$100K. Read More

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Barcelona Moon team enters Lunar X PRIZE

Barcelona Moon, a new Spanish team led by entrepreneur Xavier Claramunt, has officially announced its entry into the ongoing $US30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE. To win the Grand Prize, a team must soft land a privately-funded spacecraft on the moon, send a rover at least 500 meters out onto the moon’s surface, and transmit a specific set of video, images and data back to Earth. The as-yet-unnamed Spanish rover, appropriately enough, looks rather like a sombrero.Read More

Science

Spanish students aim for the Moon

No matter how good the paper mache volcano that you built at school was, your effort will most likely pale in comparison to the school project being undertaken by a group of Spanish students. These students are designing a ball-shaped mini-robot named PicoRover that they plan to send to the Moon as their entry in the Google Lunar X PRIZE. To claim the US$30 million prize the robot will need to travel 500m and transmit video, images and data back to Earth.Read More

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That 'small step for man' still very visible on the moon

Exactly forty years ago today, with fuel running short and alarms buzzing, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set their lunar module Eagle down on the face of the moon, and mankind took its very first step on another celestial body. Last week, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) returned its first imagery of the Apollo moon landing sites. Even after all these years, there’s something truly heroic about seeing those lunar module descent stages sitting silently on the surface, testament to man’s imagination and determination.Read More

Space

The new space race: first courier service to the moon

As we commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the Apollo moon landing this week, it’s worth asking what happened to those old dreams of lunar colonies and missions to Mars. NASA is reportedly struggling thanks to a general lack of interest and, it claims, funding. But, even with USD$187 billion, their Project Constellation is unlikely to reach the moon before 2020. The best hope right now seems to be driven by the private sector: Google’s USD$30 million Lunar X PRIZE and one of its most promising contenders, Odyssey Moon, which has announced plans to become the first private company to supply payload delivery services to the Moon.Read More

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Virgin Galactic and the start of the Commercial Space Race

Space - it's the final frontier of human exploration, a mysterious eternity of distance, all around us and yet so tantalizingly out of reach. In its dark recesses hide the secrets of extraterrestrial life, planets yet to be explored, and it's reasonable to assume, some sort of future home for the human race once we're finished stuffing this planet up. Although mankind has been fascinated with space since we first saw the twinkling of night-time stars, it's only in the last half century that we have developed spaceships that allow us to take both ourselves and our equipment and technology outside the Earth's atmosphere. While the exhilaration of early space exploration seems to have faded in the public imagination over the past three decades, the scene is now set for a whole new space race. Loz Blain looks at where the 21st Century space Odyssey will take us and how we'll get there. Listen to the Podcast orRead More

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