How Virgin Galactic will launch satellites from an old 747
Virgin Galactic has announced it will launch satellites from a stratospheric trans-Atlantic aircraft repurposed as an aerial rocket platform.
Sir Richard Branson’s space flight company will use an old Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747-400 aircraft to lift rockets to around 40,000 feet, and act as a moving launch platform for satellites.
The plane, which went into service in 2001 and is “coincidentally” named Cosmic Girl will act as a dedicated launch vehicle for Virgin Galactic’s LauncherOne business.
Event Horizon Telescope reveals magnetic fields at Milky Way’s central black hole
Most people think of black holes as giant vacuum cleaners sucking in everything that gets too close. But the supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies are more like cosmic engines, converting energy from infalling matter into intense radiation that can outshine the combined light from all surrounding stars.
If the black hole is spinning, it can generate strong jets that blast across thousands of light-years and shape entire galaxies. These black hole engines are thought to be powered by magnetic fields. For the first time, astronomers have detected magnetic fields just outside the event horizon of the black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy.
Bad wind halts space station resupply mission
The launch would have been Orbital Sciences’ first resupply mission to the ISS since last November, when the firm’s Antares rocket was detonated in spectacular style over NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility following a rocket failure.
The company is still redesigning the Antares rocket and it won’t be ready for months yet, so instead, Orbital Sciences will be using the tried-and-tested Atlas V delivery system instead, at no extra cost to NASA. The rocket is more powerful than Antares, and is packed with more than 7,000 pounds of science experiments, supplies, and space hardware.
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