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Satellite

Artist's concept for a slingatron space launcher to hurl payloads into space

People have been shooting things into space since the 1940s, but in every case this has involved using rockets. This works, but it’s incredibly expensive with the cheapest launch costs hovering around US$2,000 per pound. This is in part because almost every bit of the rocket is either destroyed or rendered unusable once it has put the payload into orbit. Reusable launch vehicles like the SpaceX Grasshopper offer one way to bring costs down, but another approach is to dump the rockets altogether and hurl payloads into orbit. That's what HyperV Technologies Corp. of Chantilly, Virginia is hoping to achieve with a “mechanical hypervelocity mass accelerator” called the slingatron.  Read More

Alphasat hitched a ride aboard an Ariane 5 ECA rocket, which took off from Kourou in Frenc...

Europe's largest telecommunications satellite has gone into orbit following a successful launch from French Guiana on Thursday. At 8:38 p.m. GMT, Alphasat (all 6.6 tonnes of it) was picked up at Inmarsat's Beijing ground station, confirming that the satellite was operating as expected.  Read More

Michigan's proposed 3U CubeSat interplanetary spacecraft (Photo: University of Michigan)

CubeSats are one of the wonders of our day. They allow projects with small budgets and smaller equipment to access low Earth orbit (LEO) at achievable costs. Seeing greater potential for these miniaturized modular satellites, Professor Benjamin Longmire of the University of Michigan is heading a team to install a miniature plasma thruster system into a 3U CubeSat, enabling the vehicle to leave LEO and cruise much of the Solar System. Funding for the project is being sought through Kickstarter.  Read More

The Scout satellite is light to act as a solar sail

Launching more than one satellite at a time is common practice these days, but what about packing thousands of satellites into a rocket and shooting them at the Moon? As part of a Kickstarter campaign, Pocket Spacecraft is offering the public the chance to send small disc satellites into space. These will then either flutter back to Earth from orbit or impact on the lunar surface. Based in Bristol, UK, Pocket Spacecraft plans to create thousands of tiny customized “Scout” satellites to be launched in a cubesat as a way of promoting low cost, mass space exploration.  Read More

ESA’s Proba-V satellite pinpointed the location of aircraft in flight over the Atlantic ap...

When the ESA’s Proba-V was launched on May 7, its main mission was to map land cover and vegetation growth across the entire surface of the Earth every two days. But the miniaturized ESA satellite is also casting its gaze higher, to test whether it is possible to track aircraft continuously from space. Proba-V has now shown this is indeed possible, by becoming the first satellite to pick up aircraft tracking signals from space.  Read More

Planetary Resources is offering to upgrade an Arkyd 100 satellite for exoplanet hunting if...

In May, asteroid mining firm Planetary Resources announced its crowdfunding campaign for one of its Arkyd 100 telescope satellites that backers would be allowed to use for a bit of private space exploration. Having reached over US$860,000 of its $1 million goal on Wednesday, Planetary Resources is upping the ante by offering to upgrade the satellite for exoplanet hunting if pledges reach $2 million before the campaign ends on May 30.  Read More

Planetary Resources hopes to get the public involved with the launch a crowdfunded version...

Despite half a century of rushing about the Solar System, the Space Age has been a spectator sport for most of humanity. On Wednesday, at a press conference at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Planetary Resources announced its plans to launch a crowdfunded version of its Arkyd 100 space telescope satellite on Kickstarter that will allow donors to beam back self-portraits from space and even control the telescope.  Read More

SPOT-assisted rescue map

Emergency rescue beacons from SPOT have been slowly but surely moving toward a satellite device that provides seamless real-time communication around the world – in other words, a satellite phone. The company has moved from pre-written messaging to custom type-and-send messaging, and with the new SPOT Global Phone, it now adds capabilities for real-time voice. The phone keeps you connected with friends, family and rescue agents even when you're standing in the middle of a roadless, fly-in wilderness in Alaska.  Read More

Global image showing the swath of land captured by NASA's Land Data Continuity Mission as ...

NASA has captured the world's largest panoramic photo showing a swath of land 6,000 miles long and 120 miles wide using a satellite orbiting 438 miles (705 km) above the Earth. At 19.06 gigapixels, "The Long Swath” is far from the highest resolution panorama on record, falling well short of the 320 gigapixel panorama of London, but it is without question the longest, covering an area from northern Russia to South Africa.  Read More

Abell 222/223 galaxies, showing a filament of dark matter stretching between the two galax...

Recently the media has been saturated with overly-hyped reports that NASA's Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) may have detected dark matter. These claims may have some justification if the word "may" is shouted, but they rest on a number of really major assumptions and guesses, some of which are on weak and shifting soil. So just what was seen in the experiment, and what are the possible explanations?  Read More

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