An interstellar antimatter engine is on Kickstarter
For the paltry price of $200,000, Gerald Jackson and Steven Howe (formerly of Fermilab and Los Alamos, respectively) say they can create a thrust measurement device. That device will be used to measure the thrust between a conventional thrust engine and a lightsail that would be bombarded with antimatter to push a spacecraft. They already have some pieces of their elaborate puzzle dreamed up under the banner of Hbar Technologies, LLC, but funding dried up a few years ago.
Their grand plan is to send a lightweight probe to the Alpha Centauri system, which would use a lightsail system built partly out of depleted uranium. With 17 grams of antimatter on board, the craft would slowly accelerate toward the speed of light, topping out at about 40 percent of that mark. The probe would reach its destination in 16 to18 years.
NASA decision on InSight Mars lander’s future expected soon
NASA could make a decision within a week on the fate of a NASA Mars lander that is facing about $150 million in additional costs because of an instrument problem that caused it to miss its launch window this year.
In a presentation to a meeting of the Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group (MEPAG) here March 2, Bruce Banerdt, principal investigator of the InSight Mars lander mission, said the project has completed a revised plan for the mission that supports a launch in 2018, and presented that plan to NASA officials a day earlier.
InSight was scheduled to launch this month and land on Mars in September. The spacecraft, based on the Phoenix mission that landed on Mars in 2008, is designed to study the planet’s interior using a probe to measure heat flow below the surface and a seismometer provided by the French space agency CNES.
How about we turn the ISS into a space hotel?
Would you consider staying in a hotel on the International Space Station? That was was one of the ideas floated at a U.S. Congress meeting to map out the future direction of NASA. The concept was pitched by astronaut Eileen Collins, who suggested that the money generated through space tourism could be used to fund missions into the further reaches of space. Manned missions to Mars, for instance.
“If we could find a private company that would take over the station and sell it like a hotel, we may be able wean ourselves off of the space station and get into deep space.”
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