Moon orbiter, NASA’s plan to go to Mars and a propulsion startup shutting down

dark-ages-radio-explorer-cropUniverse’s ‘Dark Ages’ May Come to Light with Moon Orbiter

The Dark Ages Radio Explorer (DARE) mission would dodge Earth’s noisy, disruptive environment to peer back into the universe’s dark ages and cosmic dawn — the mysterious epoch just as the first stars and galaxies began to shine — with a little help from the moon.

“The moon, in this case, is just a big blocking disk,” said Jack Burns, director of the Lunar University Network for Astrophysics Research at University of Colorado, Boulder and DARE’s principal investigator.

“We’ve argued that this is a unique way, and may turn out to be effectively the only way, of probing these first stars and galaxies that occurred in our universe — that led to galaxies like the Milky Way, stars like our sun, several generations later”.

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Space experts warn Congress that NASA’s “Journey to Mars” is illusory

For the last half-decade, NASA has resolutely declared that it has embarked on a Journey to Mars. Virtually every agency achievement has, in one way or another, been characterized as furthering this ambition. Even last summer when the New Horizons spacecraft flew by Pluto, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said it represented “one more step” on the Journey to Mars.

But as the end of President Obama’s second term in office nears, Congress has begun to assess NASA’s Mars ambitions. On Wednesday during a House space subcommittee hearing, legislators signaled that they were not entirely pleased with those plans. Comments from lawmakers, and the three witnesses called to the hearing, indicate NASA’s Journey to Mars may receive some pushback in the next year or two.

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Advanced space propulsion startup shuts down

After-Landing-1430x800-879x485A Colorado company that said last year it had achieved a technological breakthrough in space transportation has decided to shut down, citing the high costs and risks associated with further development.

Escape Dynamics of Broomfield, Colorado, announced on its website recently that it decided to wind down its operations because its “external propulsion” technology was not attractive enough to potential investors to fund its continued development.

“While microwave propulsion is feasible and is capable of efficiency and performance surpassing chemical rockets, the cost of completing the R&D all the way through operations makes the concept economically unattractive for our team at this time,” the company stated in a brief note posted on its website.

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