Never before seen NASA Apollo photos released (via Lunar and Planetary Institute)
The Lunar and Planetary Institute has released 15, never before seen photos from the NASA Apollo program. The Lunar and Planetary Institute is an organization that works in tandem with NASA to research planetary data, hold conferences for NASA and other academic bodies, and educate the public. In particular, these photos and recent transcripts released may be aimed at settling the debate on the moon landing hoax.
The photos are pretty awesome and a recently released transcript is pretty hilarious; it features a conversation between astronauts Schmitt and Cernan about how to get space dust off of their suits before getting back into the lander. The photos also make me feel pretty terrified since their spaceship looks like it's made out of tin foil – but so long as it works, I guess. The Lunar and Planetary Institute has heaps of NASA mission information available to the public, so take a look if you're interested in hearing astronaut conversations out of context.
NASA's Mars Balance Mass Challenge looks to the maker community for dual-purpose design ideas. (via NASA)
NASA, along with other governmental technology agencies like DARPA, have been trying to crowd-source ideas for future tech designs. Now NASA is trying to make it easier for the public to participate in providing ideas for future research and design through their 'Solve' webpage which lists their current competitions and public engagement programs.
Their most recent design competition is called the Mars Balance Mass Challenge. The winner will receive $20,000 dollars, so make sure you get your submissions in by November 21st.
The Challenge is to design an experimental payload that will double as ballast for future Mars explorations. It can be as simple as a brainstorm, or a full-fledged project if you like, but NASA will announce the winners in mid-January.
More information can be found here
Japanese Corp. plans to release a elevator to space by 2050 (via Obayashi Corporation)
In a more bizarre turn of events, a Japaneese Corporation, Obayashi, declared that they had the technology to build a space elevator by 2050. They plan on using carbon nanotechnology to make the elevator strong enough to hold its own as the tallest structure on earth, reaching 96,000 km into space. This would mean the elevator would extend significantly farther away from the earth's atmosphere which stops at about 100km.
There are plans to build a new space station at the end of this massive elevator which would lie almost less than one-third of the distance to the moon. Robotic cars using magnetic linear motors would shoot astronauts and space tourists alike into space at high speed.
There has been massive appeal for a space elevator recently, and the International Space Elevator Consortium was created to support a global effort to make a space elevator a reality. While it would be super odd to have an elevator heading out into space, the idea would significantly lower the costs of transporting cargo to space stations.
While transporting cargo via shuttle costs about $22,000 per km, Obayashi Corporation is estimating transport costs to be near $200. Of course, this is all theoretical now, but in 35 years time, we may be able to spend an afternoon in the space station... I'm sure they'll have a Starbucks inside.
NASA's MAVEN successfully orbiting Mars (via NASA)
Nerds around the world were cheering in September when word of a flawless Martian exploration mission caught the wind. Firstly, NASA was cheering and hollering when MAVEN successfully began orbiting Mars in the beginning of it's mission to monitor the red planet. MAVEN is meant to collect enough data about Mars to help NASA lead a manned mission to Mars in 2030.
India successfully places satellite in Mars' orbit (via ISRO)
In the photo (pictured above) from Arun Sankar, you can see that India let its very first space exploration program ever! India is trying to show the world that they too deserve a place in the Space Race with their satellite, MOM, entering Mars' orbit near the same time as MAVEN. The Indian Space and Research Organization hopes to enjoy many more technological feats.
NASA to send 3D printer into space! (via NASA)
NASA recently sent the first 3D printer into space, with tons of exuberance. The 3D printer has been installed in the International Space Station and could revolutionize space travel. Have a 3D printer in space can allow astronauts to create replacement parts and tools on the fly. This is invaluable in repairing spacecraft. It can also allow them to lower the cost of sending replacement parts via shuttles. Having working 3D printers on call can open new avenues of space exploration, like manned travel to other planets.
While there may be some bugs to be fixed once the 3D printer is up and running in the space station, it is a small step towards a bright future for space exploration. Made In Space is continuing to collaborate with NASA to create a ton of useful tech that can make space explorers more self-sufficient: enabling longer distance travels.
The 3D printer is uniquely created by Made In Space to work in the unique conditions presented by zero gravity. You can check out the specs here.
Boeing and SpaceX secure contract for 'Space Taxis' (via SpaceX)
The picture above demonstrates the latest on the scene of space exploration that will actually be a reality in the near future. NASA has teamed up with Boeing and SpaceX to build and operate privately owned 'space taxis' that hold up to 7 people. This project aims to replace the discontinued USA space shuttle program: lessening USA dependence on Russian space shuttles.
Boeing secured a $4.2 billion contract with NASA while SpaceX secured a $2.6 contract. Elton Musk, head of SpaceX has announced that he and Jeff Bezos will team up to create a superior engine for future space shuttles. While Musk and Bezos have been stiff competitors in the past, they believe their competitive natures will result in the best darn space shuttle ever to grace America – or something to this effect. This the massive investment into this project, it seems like the States will have a private space program up and running in no time.
Finally! A size comparison chart of all the Sci-Fi spaceships we know and love (via deviantart)
Now, if measly, Earth bound crafts are not your interest, then you'll be excited to know that Dirk Loechel's space comparison chart is back and better than ever! Download your own full sized version and run off to the printer because this chart is spot-on and the ultimate geek novelty.
The size comparison chart is not only accurate (for sci-fi standards), but it also features almost every existing and yet-to-be created sci-fi space vessel known.... with the exception of the Death Star, which didn't make the cut because it is as big as the moon- and we have to conserve on paper.
So, NASA is cooking things up through partnerships with private firms to make manned space shuttles to Mars and beyond a reality in 15 years time. It seems pretty hopeful that we may be able to take an actual tour of space in our lifetimes an see the earth from above.
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