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NASA’s Future Spaceships Will Travel At 1 Million Miles Per Hour

NASA could be on the verge of a breakthrough. Currently, NASA is working on an advanced propulsion engine, that if cracked, can elevate our space travel to the next level. For decades, spacecraft have been stuck traveling at low chemical speeds, limiting our ability to research and explore space. However, now speeds of over one million miles per hour before 2050 are possible. The NASA institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC) is funding two high potential concepts.

There are new ion drives being developed right now that could have power levels that are tens thousand times higher. Antimatter propulsion and multi-megawatt ion drives are being developed. The current speeds of spacecraft are quite low in space terms. The Voyager 1 spacecraft is moving at 38,000 mph (61,000 km/h). This speed was achieved mostly by a chemical rocket but also with the assistance of gravity, using it to slingshot the spacecraft out of orbit. Juno, Helios I and Helios II managed to reach speeds of around 150,000 mph using gravitational boosts also. The recently launched Parker Solar Probe will reach 430,000 mph using the Sun’s gravity.

Gravitational boosts are our current best way of achieving higher speeds for our spacecraft. However, this method is also detrimental to our research and exploration as it takes a lot of time to work. It can take many months before the desired speed is achieved and the real mission starts.

via Gfycat

The new methods will use 50000 ISP lithium ion thrusters, the first of which will be tested in 4 months. This is part of a NASA NIAC phase 2 study to use lasers to beam 10 megawatts of power into new ion drivers. The recent progress of lasers is largely unknown to the public. The US military is developing lasers that can produce a whopping 100 kilowatts within the next two years.

Laser beam powered ion drives will be up to ten times faster than any previous ion drive. A spacecraft with this technology would take less than a year to get to Pluto.

Jet Propulsion Lab is building and ironing out the many components used in this system. The sail and the ion drives are finally coming together. The hardest part will be creating and sustaining the phased array lasers. Testing voltage will be boosted up to 6000 volts. This will allow the ion drives to be directly driven, which eliminates the need for a lot of electronics and weight. These type of ion drives do have many technical challenges, but predictions show a well-funded project could be successful before 2040.

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Space

NASA to return to the Moon by 2028 and make a sustainable colony

NASA is accelerating plans to return to the Moon by 2028 for the first time since 1972 and claim that they will be there ‘to stay’.

The aerospace agency’s head Jim Bridenstine said they plan to make the moon sustainable for humans so they can go back and forth regularly.

Commander Gene Cernan was the eleventh and last man to walk on the lunar surface during the Apollo 17 mission 47 years ago.

President Trump said in 2017 that he wants to return Americans to the lunar surface and establish a foundation there for an eventual mission to Mars.

As a way-station for trips to and from the lunar surface, NASA want to build a space station, dubbed Gateway, in the Moon’s orbit by 2026.

The plan is to have the next man on the moon by 2028 adding that it’s important that they get back ‘as fast as possible,’ he said at NASA’s Washington headquarters.

‘This time, when we go to the Moon, we’re actually going to stay. We’re not going to leave flags and footprints and then come home to not go back for another 50 years.

‘We’re doing it entirely different than every other country in the world. What we’re doing is, we’re making it sustainable so you can go back and forth regularly with humans.’

Although to make all this as process as quick as possible, Mr Bridenstine said that the agency wishes to work with private space companies.

Before humans return, NASA aims to land an unmanned vehicle on the Moon by 2024 and are now inviting bids from the private sector to build the probe.

They have pitched for ventures to build hardware, according to a document called the Broad Agency Announcement, a notice from the government that requests scientific proposals from private firms.

Continue Reading: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/

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Richard Branson to fly into space in JULY aboard his Virgin Galactic spaceship.

Richard Branson claims he wants to travel to space within the next four or five months aboard his Virgin Galactic spaceship.

The British entrepreneur says that he hopes to make his first voyage
coincide with the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing in 1969.

He also claims that the spaceflight company are still on target to send
tourists into on short ‘suborbital’ flights by the end of next year.

Speaking at an event in Washington, he said: ‘My wish is to go up on the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, that’s what we’re working on.’.

The American Apollo 11 mission landed on the moon with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on July 20th, 1969.

British billionaire Richard Branson, pictured here, plans to travel to space within the next four or five months aboard his own Virgin Galactic spaceship. Virgin Galactic is one of two companies, along with Blue Origin, on its way to sending passengers into space 

Earlier this year, the 69-year-old said he is training hard for the mission, and told CBS that his ‘aim is to have the body of a 30-year-old’ when he goes to space.

Virgin Galactic is working along with Blue Origin, owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk’s SpaceX company towards the same goal of being the first to send passengers into space ‘by 2020’ in a new type of race dubbed the ‘billionaire space race’.

The companies want to send people on these short suborbital flights, meaning they wouldn’t get high enough to orbit the earth.

Branson has previously announced dates for this first trip into space, though many have gone by without voyages happening.

In 2013, he declared on a radio station that a Virgin Galactic space flight will be on Christmas Day 2013, and he will be on board. ‘Maybe I’ll dress up as Father Christmas,’ he joked.

Christmas day 2013 came and went without this flight or a sighting of the billionaire in a Santa suit taking place.

In October 2017, he told a Finnish business conference that the craft would be in space in ‘about three months’.

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New mission to explore origins of the cosmos

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

An artist’s impression of the SPHEREx spacecraft. 

NASA is planning to launch a new near-infrared space observatory that will collect data on 300 million galaxies.

Known as SPHEREx (Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization, and Ices Explorer), the new spacecraft has been awarded $242 million in funds and will launch in 2023.

Its goal will be to help scientists gain a better understanding of how the universe evolved over time and to determine how common the core ingredients of life are in our own galaxy.

“This amazing mission will be a treasure trove of unique data for astronomers,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.

“It will deliver an unprecedented galactic map containing ‘fingerprints’ from the first moments in the universe’s history. And we’ll have new clues to one of the greatest mysteries in science: What made the universe expand so quickly less than a nanosecond after the big bang ?”

Source: Astronomy Now

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