SpaceNews: November 21, 2015

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World’s largest telescope could show us the origins of the universe as soon as 2021

Atop the arid plateau of the Atacama Desert in Chile, the largest telescope in the world broke ground, beginning a project that will last six years and result in unprecedented views of the outer reaches of our solar system.

The Giant Magellan Telescope is slated to be operational by 2021, when it will be capable of peering into the deepest of black holes, capturing images that are 10 times clearer than those sent back to Earth by the Hubble space telescope. Magellan represents not just a giant mirror surface, but also a giant leap forward in telescope technology. In fact, scientists believe Magellan just might reveal the origins of the universe.

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Taxi for NASA! SpaceX to fly astronauts to space station

NASA has spent years testing out the Dragon capsule developed by SpaceX to carry up to seven astronauts or 6,000kg (13,228lbs) of cargo, including making sure it has emergency systems to blast any crew free of an exploding rocket – which isn’t outside the bounds of possibility.

“It’s really exciting to see SpaceX and Boeing with hardware in flow for their first crew rotation missions,” said Kathy Lueders, program manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. “It is important to have at least two healthy and robust capabilities from US companies to deliver crew and critical scientific experiments from American soil to the space station throughout its lifespan.”

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Elachi touts helicopter scout for Mars sample-caching rover

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The outgoing director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory on Nov. 19 floated the idea of sending a small scout helicopter to the red planet along with the Mars 2020 sample caching rover headed there in 2020.

The drone would be solar powered and capable of flying for two to three minutes a day. The Mars 2020 rover is charged with drilling martian surface cores, which it will leave on the ground for some future mission — or missions — to retrieve, package, and launch into space for eventual return to Earth.

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NASA engineers update Orion’s thermal protection system

Orion is being designed to withstand the high heat that develops when objects fall to Earth from deep space.  The hope is that the craft’s strong heat shields will someday protect astronauts returning to Earth from deep space missions.

The system will be tested when Orion undertakes its next mission on NASA’s Space Launch System rocket known as Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1).  During that test, Orion will reach a new top speed of 36,000 feet per second and experience temperatures well in excess of the 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit that the craft encountered on its first test.

The thermal protection system consists of Orion’s heat shield which slows the vehicle down and provides direct protection from the heat of re-entry, along with the “back shell,” a grid of protective tiles.

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A job opening for a Copernicus S-3 System and Services Operations Engineer, Telespazio VEGA Deutschland GmbH. This is an opportunity for an experienced System engineer with minimum 3 years’ experience of Ground System Operations in a real-time LEO or else GEO spacecraft operations environment. This Engineer will support the System and Services Operations of the EUMETSAT’s Copernicus Sentinel-3 Ground Segment. More information


Astronauts need containers of all kinds – from advanced containers that can study fruit flies to simple containers that collect Mars rocks or store an astronaut’s food. The ability to 3D print containers in space – on demand – will let humans venture farther into space. Do you have your any ideas on how best to design the container? More information

 

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