Space data highway, a new kind of space-age metal and NASA’s asteroid mission

640_space-data-highwaySpace Data Highway could herald revolution in communications

Europe is building a potentially revolutionary space-based telecommunication system that will allow the transmission of vast amounts of data via laser links across huge distances and enabling the immediate download of imagery from Earth-observing satellites.

The first node of the European Space Data Relay System (EDRS) – dubbed the Space Data Highway – was launched on 29 January 2016 and has since reached its position in the geostationary orbit at 9 degrees east longitude. The cutting-edge technology is hosted on the Eutelsat-9B broadcasting satellite and is the first of its kind to be deployed in space.

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This UK startup is building a new kind of space-age metal

TISICS, an early incubatee at the Surrey Space Incubator in Guildford, England, is one of a handful of startups cornering the industry. They have developed two core products: pressure vessels with terrestrial and extraterrestrial applications, and high-performance struts with an eye toward aerospace and robotic uses.

They mainly work on composites using aluminum and titanium, spinning the space-age metals into consumer materials like cars. “We sell our silicon carbide fibre as a standard product although this is a specialist and limited market,” says Stephen Kyle-Henney, co-founder and managing director at TISICS. “We have a patented technology for an aircraft brake component which we aim to develop to product level over the next 2 to 3 years.”

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NASA’s asteroid mission isn’t dead—yet

arm-optionb-carrying-asteroid-640x360An asteroid offered a couple of key benefits. It was new—no human had visited one before. And with a shallow gravity well, it didn’t require expensive landers and ascent vehicles to get onto and off its surface. But there were also problems. Even after searching for a couple of years, scientists couldn’t find a suitable asteroid that came close enough to Earth for astronauts to reach it in a timely manner, and the Orion vehicle NASA was building could only support a crew for 21 days in deep space.

After studying the problem, NASA engineers concluded they didn’t have the tools or the budget to mount a human mission to an asteroid. They couldn’t even come close to the 2025 date. So NASA kludged a solution that became known as the asteroid retrieval mission, or ARM.

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A job opening for an Aerospace Stress Engineer, Safran (UK). In order to develop and expand the capabilities of Safran Engineering Services in the UK we are looking for engineers to develop the mechanical activities. You will be performing stress activities, in order to determine the acceptability of a Mechanical component/assembly in the fields of Aerospace. More information


Do you want to directly contribute to space exploration? With the Astronaut Selection Test, the European Space Agency (ESA), Swedish Defence Research Agency FOI and NLR are collaborating to give you the opportunity to test for yourself if you have the right stuff to be an astronaut. The test is open for everyone to participate. ESA’s Head of Astronaut Training, Rüdiger Seine, explains: “By ‘playing’ with the test online you will help the team validate it, essentially making sure it works. For us, the more people who participate, the better.” More information

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