Join a small team of rocket designers as they open a window into the future of space travel. Stirring music from Digital Republic.
Modern science has linked polar light shows, called auroras, to vast waves of electrified gas hurled in our direction by the sun. Today, researchers from a whole new generation see this dynamic substance, plasma, as an energy source that may one day fuel humanity’s expansion into space. What can we learn, and how far can we go, by tapping into the strange and elusive fourth state of matter?
Since the dawn of rocketry, we’ve relied on the same basic technology to get us off the ground. Fill a cylinder with volatile chemicals, then ignite them in a controlled explosion. The force of the blast is what pushes the rocket up. Nowadays, chemical rockets are the only ones with enough thrust to overcome Earth’s gravity and carry a payload into orbit. But they are not very efficient.
The heavier the payload, the more fuel a rocket needs to lift it into space. But the more fuel a rocket carries, the more fuel it needs. For long-range missions, most spacecraft rely on their initial launch speed to essentially coast to their destination. Flight planners often design routes that give the craft a gravity assist by sending it around the moon or another planet. One small cadre of scientists believes it has a quicker and more efficient way to get around in space.
Dr. Ben Longmier and his team from the University of Michigan have traveled to Fairbanks, Alaska to play a small part in a much larger push to revolutionize space travel and exploration.
The team plans to use helium balloons to send components of a new type of rocket engine to an altitude of over 30 kilometers, above 99% of Earth’s atmosphere. The purpose is to test these components within the harsh environment of space. While astronauts train to live and work in zero gravity, or to move around in bulky space suits, these would-be space explorers are preparing to negotiate some of Earth’s harshest environments.
Once they launch their payload, they have to retrieve it wherever it comes down in Alaska’s vast snowy wilderness. The idea they are pursuing is nothing short of revolutionary. It’s a type of rocket that promises far greater gas mileage than other rockets, and enough power to reach distant targets. It runs on the same fuel that nature uses, literally, to power the universe: plasma.
Israel launched an air strike on the Palestinian Gaza Strip on Tuesday, the first such attack since an eight-day war in November, Hamas, the Islamist movement that controls the territory, and Israel’s military said.
“Occupation planes bombarded an open area in northern Gaza, there were no wounded,” a statement from the Hamas Interior Ministry said. An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed there had been a strike in Gaza, but gave no further details.
Israel and Hamas agreed to an Egyptian-mediated truce in November, after eight days of fighting, in which 170 Palestinians and six Israelis were killed.
Israel launched the 2012 offensive with the declared aim of ending Palestinian rocket fire into its territory.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Israeli military said Palestinians launched three rockets at Israel. Two landed in Gaza and one hit an open area in southern Israel, causing no damage or injuries.
No Palestinian group claimed responsibility for the rockets.
The photos are from Israel. (You won’t see photos like this from Gaza). LINK
As the rockets continue to fall in Israel and Gaza, it is important to understand Hamas’s tactic and how the international community and the media are encouraging it. Hamas’s tactic is as simple as it is criminal and brutal. Its leaders know that by repeatedly firing rockets at Israeli civilian areas, they will give Israel no choice but to respond. Israel’s response will target the rockets and those sending them. In order to maximize their own civilian casualties, and thereby earn the sympathy of the international community and media, Hamas leaders deliberately fire their rockets from densely populated civilian areas. The Hamas fighters hide in underground bunkers but Hamas refuses to provide any shelter for its own civilians, who they use as “human shields.” This unlawful tactic puts Israel to a tragic choice: simply allow Hamas rockets to continue to target Israeli cities and towns; or respond to the rockets, with inevitable civilian casualties among the Palestinian “human shields.”
Arab ministers gave their backing on Saturday to Egyptian efforts to secure a truce that would end Israel’s offensive on Gaza, they said in a statement after an Arab League meeting in Cairo.
Arab foreign ministers also agreed to form a delegation to travel to the Palestinian enclave in a show of support. League chief Nabil Elaraby told reporters he would lead the team and that the trip was expected to take place in “one or two days”.
Ministers meeting at the Cairo-based headquarters had said Arab states had to take practical steps to support Palestinians in Gaza.
Israel launched a massive air campaign on Wednesday with the declared goal of deterring Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group that runs the Gaza Strip, from launching rockets that have plagued its southern communities for years.
In the statement, ministers condemned what they called Israeli “aggression” and also expressed “complete discontent” at the U.N. Security Council’s failure to bring about a ceasefire.
Israel has condemned UNESCO’s decision to establish a chair at the Islamic University of Gaza, calling the institution “a breeding ground for terrorists.”
Israel’s foreign ministry said Thursday that “(Palestinian militant group) Hamas uses Gaza University laboratories to develop and produce explosives and rockets and has even run a course on explosive making.”
Gaza militants often bomb southern Israel with mortars and rockets.
Israel, the US, EU and others consider Gaza’s Hamas rulers a terror group because of their suicide bombings and attacks on civilians that kill hundreds.
UNESCO said the chair is to promote astronomy, astrophysics and space sciences.
IAF aircraft struck a terror cell in the northern Gaza Strip early Monday morning, the IDF Spokesman’s Unit announced.
The aircraft registered a direct hit against the targets.
The IDF stated that cell was attempting to fire rockets into Israel.
Team members at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory share the challenges of the Curiosity Mars rover’s final minutes to landing on the surface of Mars.
All systems are go for this mornings launch of the unmanned private Space-X spacecraft which will rendezvous with the International Space Station and the eventual docking of the Dragon command module. Launch can be watched here and the broadcast is scheduled to begin one-hour prior to launch or at 3:45 AM EDT.
Note that NASA TV will broadcast a variety of programming prior to and after the launch.
Liftoff Time in Time Zones:
• 4:55 AM EDT
• 3:55 AM CDT
• 2:55 AM MDT
• 1:55 AM PDT
Other viewing options are available at NASA TV.
Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, of Hawthorne, Calif., on Friday targeted May 19 for the launch of its upcoming demonstration mission to the International Space Station. Liftoff time is at 4:55 a.m. EDT, with a launch window that is instantaneous.
SpaceX DragonLab™ - a free-flying, fully-recoverable, reusable spacecraft capable of hosting pressurized and unpressurized payloads. Credit: SpaceX
This follows a launch dress rehearsal April 30 by the SpaceX launch team that concluded with a brief engine firing to verify the company’s Falcon 9 rocket is ready to launch. The practice countdown also tested some of the systems on the Dragon spacecraft that will fly to the space station.
“Woohoo, rocket hold down firing completed and all looks good!” reported Elon Musk on his Twitter account. Musk is the owner and chief designer for SpaceX, or Space Exploration Technologies. The company’s engineers are reviewing data from the test, SpaceX reported.
For the latest update go to the Space-X update page here.