SLS flight progress, psychology of space travel and ‘alien megastructure’ star

sls_block_1_expanded_view_orionNASA facilities, teams ramp up SLS flight production for 2018 maiden flight

NASA is ramping up production of hardware and flight elements for the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, set to make its debut flight in 2018, as various construction and processing facilities around the U.S. turn hard-earned testing into flight products for the EM-1 (Exploration Mission 1) mission that will test most of SLS’s systems as it matures toward the ability to carry humans to targets beyond Low Earth Orbit.

At Orbital ATK’s facilities in Utah, full-scale production of the flight set, twin five-segment Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs) began last year and is set to increase multi-fold in 2016. At the Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) in Louisiana, Confidence Article Build (CAB) on the LH2 (Liquid Hydrogen) tank for SLS’s massive Core Stage began on 5 January and is scheduled to run through Tuesday, 19 January. In addition to the production of flight elements for the Core Stage at MAF, Boeing is also set to complete LH2 tank production for the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS) of SLS for the EM-1 mission later this month.

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Psychological effects of space travel

The fighter squadron’s 37-year-old commander suddenly started refusing to fly at high altitudes because of mysterious breathing problems. He also struggled to control feelings of wrath toward his coworkers, and that made him hyperventilate. It was only later that the commander would tell a Navy psychologist what really triggered him: That while flying at the edge of the troposphere, “a frightening feeling of detachment” set in. There, in the halo of thin silence surrounding the earth in 1956, he didn’t trust his own mind not to self-destruct.

The atmosphere gets threadbare above 45,000 feet. There are fewer nitrogen and oxygen molecules to populate the air, the colors start to deepen and change. Higher than that, at roughly 70,000 feet, some pilots and engineers say you can grasp the curvature of the earth.

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Study confirms that something’s weird about the ‘alien megastructure’ star

kicIn October, astronomers floated the idea that the star KIC 8462852 could be surrounded by some sort of huge alien structure. While that’s unlikely, scientists are still having a hard time coming up with a good explanation for the star’s strange behavior.

Every so often, the star’s light dims by as much as 20 percent. By comparison, a huge, Jupiter-size planet orbiting the star would block out about 1 percent of the star’s light. Astronomer Jason Wright proposed that a swarm of objects, perhaps alien solar panels, could be circling the star and causing the dimming. Scientists have since listened for radio and laser communications from this hypothetical alien civilization, but found nothing.

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