SpaceNews: November 11, 2015

‘Electric Sails’ Could Propel Superfast Spacecraft by 2025

SANTA CLARA, California — Robotic spacecraft may ride the solar wind toward interstellar space at unprecedented speeds a decade or so from now.

Researchers are developing an “electric sail” (e-sail) propulsion system that would harness the solar wind, the stream of protons, electrons and other charged particles that flows outward from the sun at more than 1 million mph (1.6 million kilometers per hour).

“It looks really, really promising for ultra-deep-space exploration,” Les Johnson, of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, said of the e-sail concept here at the 100-Year Starship Symposium on Oct. 30.

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The Battle to Militarize Space Has Begun

  • As existing technologies proliferate and new developments provide greater access to space, Cold War frameworks for the peaceful sharing of Earth’s near orbit will erode.
  • The reliance on space-based systems, such as satellites, and the deterioration of existing regulations make the militarization of space inevitable.
  • The U.S. reliance on electronic networking for military and intelligence operations is a key vulnerability that countries such as China could exploit.
  • Competition for resources in the solar system will inevitably lead to conflict and military posturing.

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Moonspike, a Private Moon Venture, Regroups After Failed Crowdfunding Bid

moonspike-moon-spacecraft

WASHINGTON — A European venture to send a small spacecraft to the moon is reconsidering its plans after an online fundraising effort fell fall short of its goal.

Moonspike started a month-long fundraising campaign on the crowdfunding website Kickstarter Oct. 1, seeking to raise at least 600,000 pounds ($925,000) to start work on a small spacecraft to crash-land on the moon and a launch vehicle to send it there. That funding, Moonspike’s founders said in an interview prior the start of the campaign, would fund work on key spacecraft and launch vehicle subsystems.

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Medicines Do Not Expire Faster In Space, Study Finds

A new study suggests that medicines do not expire faster in space and that it does not exude significant differences in degradation, compared to what is observed on Earth.

Medications are known to eventually undergo the process of degradation, specifically when it is exposed to oxygen, humidity and light. Although the temperatures and humidity inside the International Space Station (ISS) are recognized to be within conducive ranges for drug storage, the impacts of other factors while in spaceflight such as microgravity and increased radiation have not yet been assessed in terms of deterioration outcomes.

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Space Elevator Concept Stars in ‘Sky Line’ Documentary

sky-line-documentary-space-elevator

A feature-length documentary called “Sky Line” is being released this month, an impressive view that follows a group of scientists and entrepreneurs as egos collide in an attempt to reach for the stars.

The film, which centers on the real-life building of the once fantastical space elevator concept, will debut at DOC NYC 2015 – America’s largest documentary festival — and will be released on all major On Demand platforms on November 20th, 2015.

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Plumbing and electrical skills more useful than ‘genius’ in space

The skills of a plumber, electrician, crane driver and paramedic are far more useful than “genius” when it comes to exploring in space. “Oh, and a sense of humour – essential!” says Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli.

Mr Nespoli, who is a Science Week guest speaker at Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology on Wednesday, says there is a common misconception that astronauts are “crazy scientists or geeks”.

“Strapping yourself to a rocket that is capable of exploding like an atomic bomb at any second isn’t really something that is for anyone who thinks about it too much,” he says. “It’s an unforgiving environment, which can kill you if you make the slightest mistake.”

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