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Propellant


— Space

Lunar detour could lighten the launch load for manned missions to Mars

Early last year, researchers at MIT floated the idea of "gas stations" in space that have the potential to cut the costs of future missions to the Moon considerably. Now a new study out of MIT says that, although possibly a little out of the way, the Moon would make a worthwhile refueling pit stop for manned missions to Mars by reducing the mass of a launch from Earth by 68 percent.

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— Space

NASA test-fires massive solid fuel booster

NASA has successfully completed the first of two tests designed to certify the massive solid fuel boosters which will form a part of NASA's next generation Space Launch System (SLS). Once completed, SLS will represent the most powerful launch vehicle ever constructed and will be responsible for, among other tasks, launching NASA's Orion spacecraft on humanity's first manned mission to Mars. Read More
— Space

Firefly Space Systems unveils Alpha launch vehicle design with 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
— Space

MIT researchers propose gas stations in space

Getting into space is an expensive business where every little bit of extra weight, which includes the fuel powering the spacecraft, can add thousands of dollars to the cost of a mission. A team of researchers at MIT proposes establishing gas stations in space as a possible way to help cut the cost of future missions to the Moon. Read More
— Space

Moon Express reveals design for its MX-1 lunar lander

Moon Express, a privately held company driven by a short-term goal of winning the Google Lunar X PRIZE competition, and a longer-term strategy of mining the Moon, last week revealed its MX-1 lunar lander at the closing session of Autodesk University in Las Vegas. Not a one-trick pony, the MX-1 is being designed as the first of a series of robotic spacecraft that can carry out a multitude of tasks in Earth orbit as well as in deep space. Read More
— Space

SpaceX Mars mission will fly on methane

Elon Musk, founder and CEO of SpaceX, says that the missions to Mars by his company will use rockets powered by methane, which can be manufactured on the Red Planet. The announcement came last as the South-African born entrepreneur was giving a lecture in November to the Royal Aeronautical Society in London, where he was presented with the Gold Medal – the society’s highest award. Read More
— Aircraft

NASA selects “green” propellant technology demonstration mission

After putting out a call for technology demonstration proposals for non-toxic “green” propellant alternatives to highly-toxic hydrazine earlier this year, NASA has selected a mission proposed by a team led by Boulder, Colorado-based Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation. The mission, which is intended to bridge the gap between technology development and use of green propellant, is expected to be developed and flown in around three years, with NASA providing US$45 million and additional funds provided by the mission co-investigators. Read More
— Aircraft

NASA launches search for greener propellant

NASA has put out the call for greener propellant fuel for use on the spacecraft of the future. Though it does not appear that NASA has stipulated that alternative propellants must match the performance of current mainstay hydrazine, it's clear that only high-performance substances need apply. Environmental credentials are where the new fuel must demonstrate an edge over hydrazine, which is a corrosive, toxic pollutant. As well as the environmental benefits, use of greener propellants should prove more economical, reducing the need for involved safety procedures that can lengthen launch times. Read More
— Around The Home

ANYWAY Spray allows spray bottles to work at any angle

Perhaps you haven’t given this problem a lot of thought, but it is a problem nonetheless... most spray bottles can’t be used upside down, or even at much of angle once they’re half-empty. Not only that, but there’s always that last little bit of liquid in the bottom that gets wasted. That's because most of them have rigid-tubed sprayers that just have a single hole at the bottom, so they only suck up liquid from the bottom middle of the bottle. Well, British inventor Michael Pritchard has come up with something he calls the ANYWAY Spray, a tube that allows you to hold your spray bottles any way you darn well please, and keep spraying until they’re as dry as Keith Richards’ bourbon glass. Read More
— Aircraft

Engineers creating carbon-negative Mars rocket

It may be called the Red Planet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use green technology to get there. Engineers at the University of Hertfordshire are developing a miniature dual fuel rocket, as a test model for technology that could one day result in a full-scale carbon negative rocket capable of a return flight to Mars. Their model’s motor will be powered by a mixture of carbon dioxide and aluminum, turning the CO2 into carbon in the process - this is the opposite of what is done by traditional rockets. Read More
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