Highlights from the 2015 Geneva Motor Show

Rocket

CT-2 rolling out from the VAB (Photo: NASA)

Two veterans of the US space program have marked 50 years of service with in appropriately sedate style. In 1965, a pair of gigantic crawlers were built to move the Saturn V moon rockets to the launch pad. Half a century later, they are still in service and being upgraded to handle NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) and other launch vehicles. To celebrate, the 6 million lb (2.7 million kg) Crawler-Transporter 2 (CT-2) made a rollout for a visitor and media day at less than one mph.  Read More

Artist's depiction of the ICI-4 rocket which launched today (Image: Trond Abrahamsen, Andø...

The northern lights are more than one of nature's most awe inspiring sights, they are an electromagnetic phenomenon that can adversely affect power grids and communications and navigation systems. Researchers from the University of Oslo have flown a rocket through the lights to take a closer look with the aim of gathering data that will help in predicting space weather.  Read More

IXV lifting off atop its Vega launch vehicle (Photo:  ESA–S. Corvaja, 2015)

ESA's IXV experimental spaceplane has successfully carried out its 100-minute mission to test technology re-entry and navigation technology for the next generation of European spacecraft. Whilst often described as a spaceplane, the IXV is in reality an atmospheric re-entry testing package wrapped in what appears to be a basic space shuttle fuselage. The resulting data accrued from the launch will inform a wide range of endeavors, spanning from re-supply trips to the ISS, to manned return missions to Mars.  Read More

The ALASA concept uses an expendable rocket dropped from a conventional aircraft to launch...

If you've ever dreamed of turning your municipal airport into a satellite launching facility, then DARPA has your number. At this week's 18th Annual Commercial Space Transportation Conference in Washington, DC, Bradford Tousley, director of DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office reported on the progress of the agency's Airborne Launch Assist Space Access (ALASA) program, which is designed to launch 100-lb (45-kg) satellites into low-Earth orbit using an expendable rocket dropped from a conventional aircraft.  Read More

The latest Falcon 9 launch has been delayed 24 hours (Photo: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

Today's launch of NOAA's Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) has been delayed 24 hours. With less than two and a half minutes on the clock, mission control placed the launch on hold due to problems in the first stage avionics and with one of the range safety radars.  Read More

NASA's SMAP satellite blasts off from the Vandenburg Air Force Base, California (Image: NA...

On its third attempt, NASA has successfully launched its Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite atop a United Launch Alliance Delta 2 rocket. The orbiter is designed to take high resolution moisture maps on a global scale, mapping the entire planet in the space of only two to three days. The maps will grant us an improved ability to forecast droughts, floods, and even aid agricultural workers in crop planning and rotation.  Read More

Starscraper project Mark IIb engine test firing

The International Space Station (ISS) may get all the glory, but suborbital rocket flights still play a vital part in space research. The problem is that even though such flights only go to the edge of space, they are expensive, few in number, and put massive stresses on experiments. Partly funded by a Kickstarter campaign, students at Boston University are developing an inexpensive suborbital rocket for educational purposes that uses new engine designs to create a cheaper, reusable suborbital rocket that's easier on the payload.  Read More

An autonomous spaceport drone ship will act as the landing target for the Falcon 7

On Friday, the Dragon CRS-5 mission lifts off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station atop a Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket. If the launch is successful, the unmanned Dragon spacecraft will carry supplies and experiments to the ISS, but that part is almost routine. What is unusual is that SpaceX has confirmed that it will not only attempt a powered landing of the Falcon 9 booster, but will do so as a precision landing on a robotic sea barge.  Read More

The hybrid rocket engine is one of three power plants which the Bloodhound team hopes will...

Britain's Bloodhound team has taken a slow-but-steady approach toward its goal of breaking the world land speed record, but it appears to be paying off. Bloodhound, along with its partner, the Norwegian/Finnish aerospace and defense group, Nammo, have successfully tested a large hybrid solid/liquid rocket engine at Nammo's test facility in Norway. Described as the "latest in the evolution of hybrid rocket motor technology," it's one of three power plants that will be used by the Bloodhound Supersonic Car when it makes its record attempt in 2016.  Read More

A Falcon 9 rocket with grid fins deployed

SpaceX is banking on its plan to recycle rockets as a means of cutting the cost of space travel and transport. CEO Elon Musk revealed the latest part of this puzzle over the weekend: the autonomous spaceport drone ship.  Read More

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