, which is now in the outermost layer of the heliosphere that forms the boundary between the Solar System and interstellar space, is set to be the first man-made object to leave the Solar System. It has taken the car-sized probe over 35 years to reach its current point, but at its current speed of about 3.6 AU (334,640,905 miles) per year it would take over 75,000 years to reach our nearest star, Proxima Centauri. Despite the mind-boggling distances involved, DARPA has just awarded funding to form an organization whose aim is to make human interstellar travel a reality within the next century.
An anonymous electrical and systems engineer going only by the moniker BTE-Dan has posted surprisingly detailed plans for a full-scale, functioning Starship Enterprise that he claims could be built in 20 years. Though it may be tempting to scoff at such lofty ambition, the Build the Enterprise website (up all of one week) includes specifications, costs, mission plan and funding strategies, all suggesting that a serious amount of thought has gone into creating a real world counterpart to the icon spaceship of the TV and movie series, Star Trek
Gizmag is celebrating its 10th birthday! Over the past decade we've published over 17,000 articles, covered a huge array of events around the globe and fostered a loyal worldwide audience willing to become part of the discussion surrounding the thing that fascinates us most - new technology. To mark our 10th birthday milestone we're taking a stroll through the archives to revisit some of the biggest hits and most popular themes in our history.
Getting into space is one of the harder tasks to be taken on by humanity. The present cost of inserting a kilogram (2.2 lb) of cargo by rocket into Low Earth Orbit (LEO) is about US$10,000. A manned launch to LEO costs about $100,000 per kilogram of passenger. But who says we have to reach orbit by means of rocket propulsion alone? Instead, imagine sitting back in a comfortable magnetic levitation (maglev) train and taking a train ride into orbit.
The private spaceflight company SpaceX declared that 2012 would be the "Year of the Dragon" - a play on the current cycle of the Chinese calendar and the upcoming tests of SpaceX's Dragon space capsule
. For a time, it seemed as if SpaceX was regretting that slogan. Dragon was chosen as one of five competitors for NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) contest to develop a cargo/passenger craft to service the International Space Station. The Dragon program had enjoyed considerable success and was scheduled to be the first private spacecraft to visit and, if all went well, dock with the International Space Station (ISS). Unfortunately, with the need for more testing of the Dragon capsule delaying the launch from its original February 7, 2012 date to late March or even into April, it looked as though the Year of the Dragon was starting a bit late.
When you think about the best-loved movies depicting space travel, what names come to mind? Star Wars
, 2001: A Space Odyssey
, Star Trek - The Motion Picture
, Silent Running
, Battlestar Galactica
? Interestingly enough, all of those enduring films were made decades ago, and utilized hand-built model spaceships for their space-flight sequences. Today, even low-budget productions usually use CGI (computer-generated imagery) for the same purpose – it’s logistically much easier to create and “film” a virtual spaceship on a computer, than it is to build, light and shoot an actual model. Nonetheless, that second approach is exactly what New York film-makers Derek Van Gorder and Otto Stockmeier are taking with their short film, C
Microscopic worm Caenorhabditis elegans
may hold clues to the human colonization of space, according to scientists at The University of Nottingham. Research published by the university today indicates that C. elegans
can reach maturity from egghood and successfully reproduce in space, just as it does on Earth. Now the worm is a prime candidate to form an advance party to Mars in order to examine the effects of long-distance space travel on earthly organisms.
Imagine if every time you went for on a trip, you had to carry all the fuel required to get you to your destination and back - even if that trip was to a place far, far away, like say Mars. In space there are no refueling options available (yet), and given that propellant makes up over 90 percent of the weight of a spacecraft, this issue is fundamental to saving costs and driving future space exploration. Now the Shackleton Energy Company (SEC) is looking to establish the first operational base to mine ice on the Moon
that will be used to produce liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen propellants for distribution to spacecraft via the first gas stations in space ... and the plan is to be open for business by 2020.
Turns out NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida won’t be gathering dust following the end of the Space Shuttle Program
earlier this year. Providing a glimpse of how the NASA facilities will be used in the future, Boeing has signed an agreement with NASA and Space Florida that will see it using the Orbiter Processing Facility-3 (OPF-3) to manufacture, assemble and test its CST-100
(Crew Space Transportation-100) spacecraft.
Space travel just got another step closer for the masses (at least the well-heeled ones) with the dedication of Virgin Galactic's new "Gateway to Space" facility at Spaceport America
, the world's first purpose-built spaceliner terminal. Situated in the southern New Mexico desert, numerous luminaries were on hand to dedicate the innovative 120,000 square foot terminal/hangar facility (THF), including moon-walking astronaut, Buzz Aldrin and New Mexico governor Susana Martinez.