Archive for the ‘Spacecraft’ Category

Rocket Plume Shadow Points to the Moon


(APoD) – In early 2001 during a launch of Atlantis, the Sun, Earth, Moon, and rocket were all properly aligned for this photogenic coincidence. …


STS 98 plume


TESS Launch Close Up


(APoD) – NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) began its search for planets orbiting other stars by leaving planet Earth on April 18. The exoplanet hunter rode to orbit on top of a Falcon 9 rocket. The Falcon 9 is so designated for its 9 Merlin first stage engines seen in this sound-activated camera close-up from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. …


John Kraus: Falcon 9 launch

Air-Breathing Space Engines


(Syfy Wire::Bad Astronomy) – Phil Plait:

Many satellites have thrusters on board to boost their orbits. The problem there is that eventually they run out of fuel. When that happens, they can no longer compensate for the very weak but inexorable force of drag, and in a few years, well, down they come.

So engineers with the European Space Agency came up with a very clever idea: What if instead of bringing fuel with the satellites, the satellites used the air itself for fuel?

This won’t work for chemical rockets; the air is mostly nitrogen and oxygen, and you need more than that to make propellant. But there’s another kind of engine, one that’s been used for decades, that can use these molecules: electric thrusters. …

syfy air-breathing-space-engines

Xenon ion drive

Finding Rocky Planets With TESS


(Syfy Wire::Bad Astronomy) – Phil Plait:

Kepler was designed to look deep into the galaxy, sensitive to faint stars to maximize the number of planets it could find. The question Kepler was tasked to answer is “How many and what kind of exoplanets are out there?”

TESS will answer a different but no less important question: “Where are the nearest rocky planets?” …

syfy tess

TESS: Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite

Space Grade Electronics


(Planetary Blogs) – Jatan Mehta:

How NASA’s Juno survives near Jupiter …

planetary 2018/0417 electronics

Juno spacecraft approaches Jupiter

SpaceX Satellite Broadband Takes Off


(Guardian Science) – Reuters:

Elon Musk’s SpaceX has been given formal approval by US telecoms regulators to build a global broadband network using satellites. …

theguardian 2018/mar/30 spacex

Falcon 9 rocket launch

Where Is Elon Musk’s Space Tesla Actually Going?


(Atlantic Science) – Marina Koren:

The payload of SpaceX‘s recently launched rocket overshot its planned orbit near Mars. …

theatlantic 2018/02 spacex-asteroid

SpaceX Tesla Roadster Starman

A Long-Lost NASA Spacecraft Rises From the Dead


(Atlantic Science) – Marina Koren:

After 13 years of silence, scientists hear a mission calling home. …

theatlantic 2018/02 552293

Aurora borealis and IMAGE spacecraft

Falcon 9 Launch and Landing


(APoD) – A composite of three consecutive exposures, this night skyscape by John Kraus follows the January 7 launch and first stage landing of a Falcon 9 rocket …


John Kraus: Falcon 9 Launch and Landing

Solar System Exploration in 2018


(Planetary Blogs) – Emily Lakdawalla:

2018 is shaping up to be a very busy year in space exploration, with most of the action happening relatively close to Earth. There will be three launches to the Moon and one each toward Mars and Mercury. Two spacecraft will rendezvous with near-Earth asteroids and prepare to descend for samples. We’ll see the most distant ever planetary encounter with a tiny Kuiper belt object. And fifteen other spacecraft remain active in science missions at Venus, the Moon, Mars, Ceres, and Jupiter. …

emily-lakdawalla 2017 1227

Solar system missions in 2018