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October 29, 2014

Op/Ed - Human spaceflight: Find asteroids to get to Mars Nature
Interplanetary flight is the next giant leap for humans in space. Yet consensus on even the smallest steps forward has proven elusive. In June, a US National Research Council report1 illuminated many options but offered no recommendations. Return to the Moon? Head straight to Mars? Pluck a boulder off an asteroid and tug it to lunar orbit, just so that idle astronauts have somewhere to go and something to do? NASA must decide which path to follow before President Barack Obama's budget announcement in January 2015. Some options are better than others. The cost and complexity of human space exploration demands that each element be measured by its value towards the ultimate goal: Mars.

October 21, 2014

What It Could Be Like to Live on Mars Wired
I'd always wanted to visit Mars. Instead I got Hawaii. There, about 8,200 feet above sea level on Mauna Loa, sits a geodesically domed habitat for testing crew psychology and technologies for boldly going. I did a four-month tour at the NASA-funded HI-SEAS—that's Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation—in 2013, and a new 8-month mission is scheduled to start in October. It's a long time to be cooped up, “so the psychological impacts are extremely important,” habitat designer Vincent Paul Ponthieux says. The key to keeping everybody sane? A sense of airiness. Yep—even on Mars, you're going to need more space.

October 15, 2014

UW fusion reactor concept could be cheaper than coal University of Washington
The UW’s reactor, called the dynomak, started as a class project taught by Thomas Jarboe two years ago. After the class ended, Jarboe and doctoral student Derek Sutherland – who previously worked on a reactor design at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – continued to develop and refine the concept. The design builds on existing technology and creates a magnetic field within a closed space to hold plasma in place long enough for fusion to occur, allowing the hot plasma to react and burn. The reactor itself would be largely self-sustaining, meaning it would continuously heat the plasma to maintain thermonuclear conditions. Heat generated from the reactor would heat up a coolant that is used to spin a turbine and generate electricity, similar to how a typical power reactor works. “This is a much more elegant solution because the medium in which you generate fusion is the medium in which you’re also driving all the current required to confine it,” Sutherland said.
Lockheed Martin Pursuing Compact Nuclear Fusion Reactor Concept Lockheed Martin
The Lockheed Martin (LMT) Skunk Works® team is working on a new compact fusion reactor (CFR) that can be developed and deployed in as little as ten years. Currently, there are several patents pending that cover their approach. While fusion itself is not new, the Skunk Works has built on more than 60 years of fusion research and investment to develop an approach that offers a significant reduction in size compared to mainstream efforts. "Our compact fusion concept combines several alternative magnetic confinement approaches, taking the best parts of each, and offers a 90 percent size reduction over previous concepts," said Tom McGuire, compact fusion lead for the Skunk Works' Revolutionary Technology Programs. "The smaller size will allow us to design, build and test the CFR in less than a year."

October 8, 2014

Could this 13-year-old girl from Louisiana be the first human on Mars? The Independent
Alyssa Carson, an ambitious 13-year-old girl from Louisiana, could be just what NASA is looking for. She is the first person to have attended all three of the space agency’s world space camps, she has been training to be an astronaut for nine years already, and she is determined to be the first person to land on Mars. In this BBC short film on Carson, she explains that she wants to go to Mars because “it’s a place no one has been”. “I have thought about possibly being other things but being an astronaut was always first on my list. Carson speaks Spanish, French and Chinese, and tweets about her trips to NASA events and space camps, and the talks that she gives to inspire other children to achieve their goals.

September 11, 2014

Emily Calandrelli Shows Off Coolest Aspects Of Space In New FOX Series For Teens Women You Should Know

Xploration Outer Space from Steve Rotfeld Productions on Vimeo.

Emily Calandrelli, a 27-year-old astronautics expert, has been named host of “Xploration Outer Space,” a new syndicated series set to air on FOX-owned stations beginning in September. Its goal is to show off the coolest aspects of space and science to high school aged teens. As the show’s host, Emily will take viewers on a fascinating journey to the outer reaches of the universe. Segment themes include why we explore Mars, robots in space, training to be an astronaut, extraterrestrial life on other planets and the future of private space travel.

September 2, 2014

Shields up ready for Mars shot Cosmos
It takes a couple of years for a crew of astronauts to sojourn to Mars and back. In that time the team would be exposed to enough radiation to significantly increase the chances of each of them dying of cancer, says Roberto Battiston, Professor of Physics at the University of Trento in Italy. With a crew of five there is a 20% probability that one will die of a cancer caused by radiation damage from the trip, he says. So Battiston and his colleagues are developing a remedy that sounds like something from the starship Enterprise. It’s called the Space Radiation Superconductive Shield (SR2S). It is effectively a superconducting magnetic energy shield that mimics the protective effect of our planet’s own magnetic field, deflecting cosmic rays away from the crew’s precious cells.
Living the Life on 'Mars' (Gallery)
Since traveling to Mars isn't yet possible, figuring out how to conduct routine, and specialized, activities on the Red Planet requires mock missions on Earth. The Mars Society's Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) is one of the leading facilities hosting researchers, scientists and engineers as they test hypotheses, conduct simulated field work, and gain experience living and working in the physical and social confines of a Mars analog.

August 31, 2014

Space Launch System approved, we’re going to Mars Nerd Reactor
Hey, want to go to Mars? Well, in a few years you can…kind of. The Space Launch System is the most powerful rocket we’ve built yet. The spacecraft needed approval from the SPAR agency before putting it to test. On August 27th, they gave us the okay and now, we are officially going to try and bring humans to Mars. Isn’t that crazy? In 2018, which isn’t too far away if you think about it, we’re going to send the Space Launch System carrying the Orion spacecraft up into orbit. The SLS will be configured with a 70-metric-ton lift capacity. The final version of the SLS will be able to carry 130 metric tons.

August 29, 2014

Colorado man may be headed to Mars — for good AOL.
A Colorado native says he's been preparing his whole life to travel to Mars, and he's getting closer to his dream in several ways. The only catch? If he goes, he may never return. It's hard to imagine a more fitting metaphor to describe Max Fagin's trajectory than the Manitou Incline. The popular hike is located near Max's childhood home in Colorado Springs and follows a path nearly straight up from there. In the past few years, the incline is one of several hikes Max and his father Barry Fagin have been working to check off their list of accomplishments. "I'd like to get as many of them out of the way before I have to leave... either this state or this planet," Max said. Leaving the planet is all Max has wanted to do for as long as anyone can remember.

August 18, 2014

Thingiverse | Mars Base Challenge Winners MakerBot
We were pleased to receive a good number of #MakerBotMars challenge entries almost as soon as we announced it. But then, on the last day of the challenge, we were completely blown away as we watched the number of entries double, leaving us with loads of fascinating text to read, diagrams to analyze, and creative designs to print. Many entries went above and beyond the stated scope of the challenge, expanding into small worlds with many individual pieces. It was an embarrassment of 3D printed riches. The enthusiasm behind the contributions was palpable, and inspiring. Once we finished our test prints, we sent the results to our friends at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who used their expert knowledge and experience to help choose the winners. We’re happy to say that we fully agree with their input and we’re excited to award all of our winners with spools of MakerBot Filament and to give our first place winner a brand new MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer!

August 1, 2014

Going to the Red Planet MIT
Whenever the first NASA astronauts arrive on Mars, they will likely have MIT to thank for the oxygen they breathe — and for the oxygen needed to burn rocket fuel that will launch them back home to Earth. On Thursday, NASA announced the seven instruments that will accompany Mars 2020, a planned $1.9 billion roving laboratory similar to the Mars Curiosity rover currently cruising the Red Planet. Key among these instruments is an MIT-led payload known as MOXIE, which will play a leading role in paving the way for human exploration of our ruddy planetary neighbor. MOXIE — short for Mars OXygen In situ resource utilization Experiment — was selected from 58 instrument proposals submitted by research teams around the world. The experiment, currently scheduled to launch in the summer of 2020, is a specialized reverse fuel cell whose primary function is to consume electricity in order to produce oxygen on Mars, where the atmosphere is 96 percent carbon dioxide. If proven to work on the Mars 2020 mission, a MOXIE-like system could later be used to produce oxygen on a larger scale, both for life-sustaining activities for human travelers and to provide liquid oxygen needed to burn the rocket fuel for a return trip to Earth.
All You Need to Know About the Mars 2020 Rover in One Infographic Softpedia
NASA has finally settled on the seven instruments its Mars 2020 rover will be carrying when embarking on its journey to the Red Planet about six years from now. These instruments, which were chosen from a total of 58 proposed ones, are expected to help the Mars 2020 rover explore its target planet and gain a better understanding of its makeup. Thus, the instruments will work together to collect information concerning Mars' landscapes, mineralogy, and atmosphere, researchers with NASA explain.

July 31, 2014

SpaceX Launches 3D-Printed Part To Space, Creates Printed Engine Chamber For Crewed Spaceflight SpaceX
Through 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, robust and high-performing rocket parts can be created and offer improvements over traditional manufacturing methods. SpaceX is pushing the boundaries of what additive manufacturing can do in the 21st century, ultimately making the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft more reliable, robust and efficient than ever before. On January 6, 2014, SpaceX launched its Falcon 9 rocket with a 3D-printed Main Oxidizer Valve (MOV) body in one of the nine Merlin 1D engines. The mission marked the first time SpaceX had ever flown a 3D-printed part, with the valve operating successfully with high pressure liquid oxygen, under cryogenic temperatures and high vibration.
Experts at Airventure Discuss Mission to Mars
Charlie Precourt has spent nearly 1,000 hours in outer space, but back home on Earth the former astronaut is working on another mission - A manned trips to Mars. "It's just so inspiring to think we had the capability to put me and my astronaut crew that far into space," he says. "How much more inspiring it will be to be able to go beyond the moons orbit and then to Mars." Precourt's company is designing the launch mechanism for the flight, showcased at an exhibit inside Airventure. It's all part of a launch planned for the early 2030's. "It sounds far away," says Lockheed Martin Engineer Larry Price. "But building a machine of this kind of complexity takes some time to do." This afternoon, a panel of experts answered questions from a crowd filled with aviation experts.

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