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Elon Musk says SpaceX could land on the moon in 2 years. A NASA executive says ‘we’ll partner with them, and we’ll get there faster’ if the company can pull it off.

  • Elon Musk says SpaceX may land cargo on the moon in two years, then people a year or two after that, using the company’s forthcoming Starship rocket system.
  • Meanwhile, the Trump administration wants NASA to land astronauts on the lunar surface in 2024 with its Artemis program.
  • Jeff DeWit, NASA’s chief financial officer, told Business Insider that if Musk and SpaceX pull off a private moon landing in 2021, “we’ll partner with them, and we’ll get there faster.”
  • But he added that the odds of that happening “are slim.”

Fifty years ago on Wednesday, the first humans to walk on the moon splashed down safely in the Pacific Ocean.

NASA is itching to launch astronauts back to the moon, with an immediate goal of putting boots on the lunar surface in 2024 with its Artemis program. But to accomplish that, the agency may wind up turning to private rocket developers like SpaceX.

Artemis isn’t meant to repeat the Apollo missions of the 1960s and 1970s. Instead, NASA wants to send cargo and supplies to the lunar surface, build up a permanent base there, and start looking for ice. Hundreds of millions of tons of water exist on the moon, and that resource can be mined, melted, turned into air, and split into rocket fuel to power voyages to Mars.

NASA plans to use government-funded Space Launch System rockets to return to the moon. But those vehicles won’t start launching until late 2021 (the first one was supposed to fly in 2017) and the program is billions of dollars over budget. Increasingly, Trump administration officials and NASA executives are signaling, contrary to congressional budgets, that the agency may look to SpaceX or Blue Origin for help.

“We’re not committed to any one contractor,” Vice President Mike Pence said in March. “If our current contractors can’t meet this objective, then we’ll find ones that will.”

More recently, Pence told Major Garrett on the podcast “The Takeout” that “if our traditional partners can’t do the job, we’re going to look to the private space industry to give us the rockets and the technology to get there.”

Meanwhile, SpaceX is sending signals back to the Trump administration and NASA in kind.

‘It may literally be easier to just land Starship on the moon than try to convince NASA that we can’

Elon Musk presenting an updated design of SpaceX’s next rocket system.

This month, Time’s Jeffrey Kluger interviewed Elon Musk, SpaceX’s founder, for “CBS Sunday Morning.” During that conversation, Musk suggested his company might attempt an uncrewed lunar landing before the end of 2021. SpaceX would ostensibly pull off this feat using Starship, a launch system it’s developing to transport people to the moon and Mars.

“This is going to sound pretty crazy, but I think we could land on the moon in less than two years. Certainly with an uncrewed vehicle I believe we could land on the moon in two years,” Musk said. “So then maybe within a year or two of that we could be sending crew.”

Musk added that executing a private mission might be easier than trying to persuade skeptics within NASA to partner with SpaceX in the development of its Starship system — and using taxpayer dollars for it.

“It may literally be easier to just land Starship on the moon than try to convince NASA that we can,” he said, adding: “‘Hey, look. Here’s a picture of landing there right now!’ That might be the better way to do it.”

NASA may turn to SpaceX if the company can pull off a lunar landing

An artist’s concept of a crewed Artemis mission to the moon’s surface in the 2020s.

We recently asked Jeff DeWit, NASA’s chief financial officer, about Musk’s statements for an upcoming episode of “Business Insider Today,” a top daily news show on Facebook.

DeWit, who’s in charge of helping the agency make the most cost-effective decisions, said he thought that the odds of SpaceX pulling off a private lunar landing with Starship before NASA can return there “are slim,” but he did not rule out the possibility of a NASA-SpaceX partnership on a moon mission. In fact, he underscored the possibility.

“More power to him. I hope he does it,” DeWit said of Musk. “If he can do it, we’ll partner with them, and we’ll get there faster.”

He added: “This isn’t about us doing it — it’s about America doing it. He’s [got] an American company. I’d love to partner with him and get that done.”

SpaceX did not immediately respond to a request for comment about DeWit’s statements.

DeWit also said NASA would “love to bring along” any commercial companies into the Artemis program that could help the agency achieve its goals. Though he named traditional aerospace companies such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman, DeWit spoke most frequently about SpaceX and Blue Origin and its founder, Jeff Bezos, who in May debuted a lunar-landing spacecraft concept called Blue Moon.

“The fact that Elon Musk is out working for this goal is great,” DeWit said. “The fact that Jeff Bezos is out there working for this goal is great.”

To develop Starship, SpaceX has built a prototype rocket ship and test bed, called Starhopper, in South Texas. The company hopes to launch the vehicle on Wednesday, send it about 65 feet (20 meters) in the air, hover it, and land it.

Starhopper is not designed to fly to space. However, Musk said a larger prototype, called Starship Mark 1, could fly from Texas or Florida in two to three months and reach orbit by the end of the year.

In September, Musk said that SpaceX planned to use the system to launch a Japanese billionaire around the moon (but not land on its surface) in 2023.

Source www.businessinsider.com

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The Hayabusa 2 probe Leaves for Earth today loaded with remains of the asteroid Ryugu

The Japanese probe Hayabusa 2 will leave its orbit around the asteroid Ryugu and head back to Earth this Wednesday. But it will not do it alone: ​​inside it brings samples that could shed light on the origins of the Solar System.

Hayabusa 2 launched a projectile that raised cosmic dust and collected it.

The Hayabusa 2 probe returns to Earth today loaded with remains of the asteroid Ryugu

The probe, the size of a refrigerator, traveled 300 million kilometers to explore Ryugu, one of the asteroids that are part of the Apollo asteroids, those close to Earth’s orbit.

It was last April when Hayabusa 2 fired a copper bomb to create an artificial crater to extract material from it

It made a “perfect” landing on the surface of the asteroid to collect the samples that scientists expect to provide clues about what the Solar System was like at its birth about 4.6 billion years ago.

Hayabusa 2 will receive its orders to return home this Wednesday.

Although it took three and a half years to reach the asteroid, the return trip should be significantly shorter – approximately 1 year – since the positions of the Earth and Ryugu will be much closer.

To get rid of the asteroid’s gravity, the probe will use its chemical engine. Subsequently, it will deploy its main ion engine in full power mode to travel to Earth.

The operation of this last engine will be the key to the return, as it will be the first time the device has fully operated since its arrival in Ryugu in June 2018.

Hayabusa-2 is expected to leave the samples in the desert of southern Australia. However, JAXA is negotiating with the Australian government on how to organize it.

This will not be the first time that Japan has been able to bring samples of an asteroid. Hayabusa 1 already managed to bring dust from the Itokawa rock in 2010.

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The galaxies are connected by “giant structures”

Experts argue that galaxies can move across great distances in the universe tied to giant structures and current models would not be as accurate.

The universe is connected by large structures

A group of scientists from Korea’s Institute of Space Science and Astronomy have suggested that galaxies move in rather strange patterns within the universe, making them think there may be giant structures between them.

We all know that today the Solar System is located in the Milky Way, which is one of hundreds of billions of galaxies, which constantly move as the universe expands.

As a result, experts have noted that there are certain mysterious patterns between distant galaxies that can transcend the interactions believed to exist in the space around each other.

Universe and giant structures

The researchers explain that, thanks to recent research and studies focused on understanding how galaxies move through space, it led them to consider the existence of the enigmatic “giant structures”.

These would be dark forms based on hydrogen gas and dark matter, which can separate themselves through filaments or leaves that have been referred to by experts as the “cosmic lattice”.

The existence of these structures in the dark space between galaxies would have very important implications for the patterns that would follow these gigantic accumulations of matter as they move, being defined as the ‘root’ that would drive them.

Experts have argued that if this impressive theory were to be proven, it would be a total challenge to the fundamental ideas that currently relate to the universe.

Modern research on the universe

Noam Libeskind, cosmographer of the Institute of Astrophysics of Germany states:

That is why everyone is always studying large-scale structures as a way of investigating and restricting the Laws of Gravity and the nature of matter, dark matter, dark energy and the universe.

Through other studies conducted last October, published in the The Astrophysical Journal, he discovered that there are hundreds of galaxies that spin in sync with the same galaxies that are millions of light years away from them.

For this situation, experts suggest that ‘synchronized galaxies’ may be linked by these large-scale structures, which rotate at low counterclockwise speeds.

That would be the most viable reason so far for explaining the similar rotation of motion between distant neighbors, but certainly much remains to be studied for astronomy to verify this impressive theory with which one could explain how structures influenced the dynamics of the universe in its beginnings.

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Scientists Confirm The Discovery Of A Mysterious Interstellar Space Boundary

NASA scientists behind the Voyager mission are on the brink of something huge – literally. Recent findings from the Voyager 2 probe confirm there is a distinct – albeit mysterious – boundary known as the heliopause between the local space we are in and interstellar space.

Spacecraft Voyager 2 joined its sister craft Voyager 1 on November 5, 2018, when it passed through the interstellar medium. It’s only now that researchers are learning about the space environment the craft is currently moving through.

“This is a watershed moment in our exploration of space: we have for the first time left the confines of ‘home’ and are taking our very first tentative steps into the interstellar space – the Milky Way galaxy of which we are a part,” explained NASA astrophysicist Jeffrey Hayes to IFLScience. “That’s an amazing distance to come in only 62 years, since the launch of the first satellite. Who knows what the next 62 will bring?”

The Voyager 2 probe was launched by NASA on August 20, 1977, and is the second spacecraft to enter interstellar space to study the edge of our solar system. Five studies released this week each identifies findings from one of Voyager 2’s five operating science instruments. Altogether, these help us to understand the “cosmic shoreline”, where our Sun ends and the “vast ocean of interstellar space begins,” writes NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Data from Voyager 2 has helped further characterize the structure of the heliosphere, structure of the heliosphere — the wind sock-shaped region created by the sun’s wind as it extends to the boundary of the solar system. NASA/JPL

“Inside is the space we live in, which is the very extended influence of the Sun and the solar wind that it generates, and outside is a region that is not under that same influence,” said Hayes. “Both Voyagers found this to be the case. The original model was that the solar wind would just gradually fade away until one was in the interstellar medium; clearly that’s not the case.”

“The heliopause acts as a somewhat porous boundary that only allows some particles to traverse it,” said Hayes. “Because we have only very recently passed through it – in 2012 with Voyager 1, and now with Voyager 2, there are still a lot of aspects of this we don’t understand.”

Voyager 2 also observed that the magnetic field outside of the heliopause is slightly stronger than measurements taken by Voyager 1, which seems to indicate that the interstellar magnetic field changes over small distances. Unexpectedly, charged particles carried by solar wind also appear to “leak” out into interstellar space.

Before Voyager 2 took the first direct measurements of interstellar space, scientists had to infer findings with data taken from a spacecraft much closer to Earth. Hayes said that the current observations are “totally new” and will take time to understand fully.

“In terms of space exploration, it means that we have only barely scratched the surface of what it means to be in interstellar space,” said Hayes.

“All told, we have entered a new era of exploration that is posing as many new questions as it has answered our older ones,” said Hayes, adding that it has taken some 42 years to travel about 143 Astronomical Units (or 143 times the distance from the Earth to the Sun) and only just now have we reached the beginning of interstellar space. If humans as a species hope to explore space, Hayes said we must either learn to be patient or learn to travel faster.

NASA’s Heliophysics Division is set to launch the Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP) mission by 2024, carrying with it instruments designed to follow up on the discoveries made by the Voyager probes. In the 2030s, Hayes said that NASA is studying an Interstellar Probe concept mission that would travel out 10 times the distance that the Voyagers are at now.

An artist concept depicting one of NASA’s twin Voyager spacecraft. NASA/JPL

Source www.iflscience.com

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