Aerospace ScienceThe study of air and space flight, astronomy and the effect of flight on living organisms
At the recent International Space Development Conference in Huntsville, Augustine committee member and CEO of XCOR Aerospace Jeff Greason gave a talk on the goals of human spaceflight. While he discussed many things that I agree with (in particular, making the use of off-planet resources a high priority), one idea in particular stood out. Greason [...]
June 03, 2011 | By Paul D. Spudis
Tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s special address to Congress – a request for supplemental appropriation for a variety of projects but most famously remembered for the announcement of his Man-Moon-Decade goal of Project Apollo. That event, cited by space advocates and excerpted in space and history documentaries, is remembered as [...]
May 24, 2011 | By Paul D. Spudis
Apollo 17 Commander Eugene Cernan recently voiced his doubts and concerns over the future of the human spaceflight program, while former Lockheed-Martin CEO Norman Augustine reflected on the current state of our space “vision” and/or the possible lack thereof. I found these perspectives by two gia...
May 04, 2011 | By Paul D. Spudis
Late in 2014, a radically different type of rocket propulsion is set to show up on the International Space station for a period of experimentation.The technology is called the Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR). It's a rocket engine that uses electricity to ionize a gas such as...
May 02, 2011 | By Mike Klesius
The year we were born.
May 2011 | By Paul Hoversten
Think of it as a crash course in aeronautical trivia.
May 2011 | By The Editors
One of the guiding geniuses behind the Apollo program is the winner of this year's National Air and Space Museum Trophy for lifetime achievement.
May 2011 | By Michael Klesius
"let us sit upon the ground. And tell sad stories of the death of kings” – Richard II, Act III, Scene 2 The nearly simultaneous 50th anniversary of the beginning of human spaceflight and the forthcoming end of the Space Shuttle program has philosophical members of the chattering classes making the...
April 19, 2011 | By Paul D. Spudis
I became fascinated by the Xbox 360 Kinect system long before it hit the stores—back when Microsoft was still developing it under the name Project Natal. The commercial product hasn't yet delivered on the full promise of this demo, but I expect that it will, and fairly soon. Kinect is already the f...
April 18, 2011 | By Tony Reichhardt
At a recent workshop on lunar return, a critical part of the discussion focused on the need for a statement of purpose – a value proposition for the Moon. Over the years I’ve attempted to distill my rationale for lunar return (my “elevator speech” if you will) into a clearly stated and persuasive ...
April 10, 2011 | By Paul D. Spudis
You Can’t Always Get What You Want (but if you try some time, you might find … you get what you need)
A plan for a human mission to a near Earth object (NEO; an asteroid), designed by engineers from Georgia Tech and the National Institute for Aerospace (GT/NIA), was recently posted online. Keying in on lowering program total costs, this architecture eliminates the need for a new heavy lift launch ...
March 31, 2011 | By Paul D. Spudis
A recent article about the role of global magnetic fields in the loss of planetary volatiles caught my attention. The article addresses planetary climate issues as they relate to Earth, Mars and Venus, but what struck me was this statement:
We don't have a direct record of the sun's history, but a...
March 22, 2011 | By Paul D. Spudis
Come home with your shield, or on it – Spartan women to their husbands, marching off to war.From the giant Olympus Mons shield on Mars (600 kilometers across and 27 km high) to the large volcanoes of Venus, shield-building was thought to be a common expression of volcanism on all rocky Solar Syste...
March 19, 2011 | By Paul D. Spudis
Amazing what you can see in a 10-inch telescope if the conditions are right. Dutch amateur astronomer Ralf Vandebergh got a picture of STS-133 astronaut Steve Bowen spacewalking outside the International Space Station last week.
March 07, 2011 | By Tony Reichhardt
Ron Grabe, launch system manager for Orbital Sciences, didn't try to sugar-coat the news. "Tonight we're all pretty devastated," he said during a predawn press briefing at Vandenberg AFB today.Orbital's Taurus XL rocket had just dumped NASA's $424 million Glory climate satellite into the Pacific oc...
March 04, 2011 | By Tony Reichhardt
On February 15, 2011 a symposium entitled “U.S. Human Spaceflight: Continuity and Stability” was held at Rice University’s James A. Baker Institute of Public Policy. Organized by George Abbey, the resident space expert at the Baker Institute, one might have suspected that it would be Shuttle-centr...
March 01, 2011 | By Paul D. Spudis
A fleet of winged spacecraft, the likes of which we'll never see again.
March 01, 2011 | By Michael Klesius
Thousands of Air Force pilots trained on the Holloman centrifuge. Now a better ride is coming.
February 11, 2011 | By Mark Betancourt
A recently published science paper presented results of a re-analysis of seismic (moonquake) data sent to the Earth from a network emplaced by the Apollo astronauts 40 years ago. The scientists processing the old data found that the Moon may have more than a simple core – it may have a layered, pa...
February 04, 2011 | By Paul D. Spudis
Hubble has done it again, squinting deeper into the universe, and hence farther back in time, than ever before. What it sees is a little smudge of light that turned out to be the most distant galaxy ever detected, 13.2 billion light-years away. It's not seeable in visible light, only in infrared. T...
January 27, 2011 | By Mike Klesius