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Space Travel

— Aircraft

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
— Aircraft Feature

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 or Read More
— Aircraft

Spaceport America breaks ground, flights departing soon

Virgin Galactic may be spending over USD$300 million on a commercial space vehicle, but only now has it actually got a place to land. Spaceport America, the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport, broke ground in New Mexico on June 19th. The 110,000 square foot facility, designed by Foster and Partners, will cost around $200m and is expected to host the first commercial space flight by 2011. Read More
— Space

Toilet training the space community

When we are born, we soil ourselves and other people clean it up for us. As we mature, we take responsibility for our own excrement. Strangely, as a society, we're not at all good at toilet training ourselves regarding the excrement produced by industry, transport or agriculture. Human beings capacity to eschew short term gain when faced with long term harm is notoriously woeful so it’s not surprising we've done exactly the same thing in space, leaving so much debris that it's now dangerous to be in the orbital band around earth due to the likelihood of being hit by junk traveling at 18,000 mph. The latest evidence: last week saw the first ever accidental collision between two intact spacecraft, a deactivated Russian satellite and an Iridium 33 satellite, which left a fresh cloud of debris 497 miles above the Earth. Read More
— Aircraft

WhiteKnightTwo completes historic maiden flight

WhiteKnightTwo (WK2), the carrier aircraft that will become the launch platform for Virgin Galactic's sub-orbital spaceline has taken to the skies over California in its maiden test flight. Powered by four Pratt and Whitney PW308A turbofan engines, the mammoth, 140-foot wingspan carbon composite aircraft launched from the Mojave Air and Space Port on Sunday morning and completed an hour long test flight without a hitch. Read More
— Space

Teddy Bears in space

For half a century, the friendliest face of space travel was Laika the space-dog, launched into Earth orbit aboard Sputnik II. Now Britain has challenged Laika’s supremacy by launching two teddy bears into the stratosphere. The toys, named MAT and KMS, wore space suits designed by children at the Parkside and Coleridge community colleges. Read More
— Science

NASA testing next-gen lunar rover in Arizona

NASA’s 12-wheeled Small Pressurized Rover raced (by lunar rover standards) across the moon-like Arizona outback at 6mph this week as part of the 11th annual Desert Research and Technology Studies (RATS). While the buggies on the Apollo missions only provided a 6 mile range, the presence of two or more SPRs on a lunar landing will provide a range of over 150 miles. Read More
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