NASA Resurrected an ‘Impossible’ Microwave Thruster Technology | Motherboard

It’s always exciting when something seemingly impossible is validated by NASA—the smartest of the smart when it comes to cutting-edge aeronautical technology, right? Well, NASA scientists have just confirmed that an “impossible” technology is in fact possible.

via NASA Resurrected an ‘Impossible’ Microwave Thruster Technology | Motherboard.

SpaceX will build launch pad near Boca Chica Beach – Brownsville Herald: Local News

SpaceX, BEDC request building permits

By Laura B. Martinez, Staff writer

Cameron County, we’ve got SpaceX.

After months of speculation that the rocket company would chose the county for the site of a rocket launch pad, SpaceX officials today announced it will build the pad near Boca Chica Beach.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk made the official announcement through a news release from Gov. Rick Perry’s office.

“SpaceX is excited to expand our work in Texas with the world’s first commercial launch complex designed specifically for orbital missions. We appreciate the support of Gov. Perry and numerous other federal, state and local officials who have partnered with us to make this vision a reality,” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said. “In addition to creating hundreds of high tech jobs for the Texas workforce, this site will inspire students, expand the supplier base and attract tourists to the south Texas area.”

via SpaceX will build launch pad near Boca Chica Beach – Brownsville Herald: Local News.

AsiaSat 8 | Falcon 9 Satellite Launch Webcast – YouTube

This is the live launch webcast of the AsiaSat 8 mission which lifted off Tuesday, August 5th at 08:00 UTC.

The AsiaSat 8 satellite flew to its intended orbit on a Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX’s Launch Complex 40 in Cape Canaveral.

SpaceX in Brownsville, Texas-Tranforming Destiny – YouTube

Dealing a blow to the Space Coast, SpaceX teams up with Texas for launch complex.

It’s official: SpaceX and Texas on Monday confirmed plans for the company to build a privately operated launch complex on the state’s Gulf Coast for commercial missions, dealing a painful but not unexpected blow to Florida’s Space Coast.

Complete Article at:


Chinese YF-100 (Russian RD-120) to Power CZ-5

The YF-100 liquid rocket engine was a Chinese copy of the Russian RD-120, intended to power the new-generation CZ-5, CZ-6 and CZ-7 launch vehicles. The YF-100 development began in 2000 at the Academy of Aerospace Propulsion Technology (AAPT, or the Sixth Academy) in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province. The engine was certified by the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence (SASTIND) in May 2012. Credit:


Role First-stage and strap-on booster main motor
  • CZ-5 (3.35m/2.25m Strap-on booster)
  • CZ-6 (First-stage)
  • CZ-7 (First-stage and 2.25m strap-on booster)
Status In development
Fuel Kerosene
Oxidizer Liquid oxygen (LOX)
Cycle Staged combustion
Thrust (sea-level) 1,199.19 kN (122.3 t)
Isp (sea-level) 2,942.0 N.s/kg (300 s)
Thrust (vacuum) 1,339.48 kN (136.7 t)
Isp (vacuum) 3,286.2 N.s/kg (335 s)
Fuel mass flow rate 296.39 kg/s
Oxidizer mass flow rate 113.31 kg/s
Total mass flow rate 409.70 kg/s
Adjustable thrust 65~100%
Nozzle diameter 1.338 m


Chinese YF-100 LOX/Kerosene Rocket Engine Test

Credit: This took place on 11 November, 2010, somewhere in Shaanxi Province. It was a test of two YF-100 LOX/Kerosene rocket engines fired together.

China to launch Change-3 in 2013 – Xinhua |


BEIJING, July 31 (Xinhuanet) — China will launch its third spacecraft to land on the moon next year as part of its ongoing Lunar Exploration Program. According to the government, the development of the moon craft is on target for next year’s launch.

The Chang’e-3, named after the Chinese goddess of the moon, includes a lander and rover. The lunar program’s chief scientist says Chang’e-3 will make a soft landing on the moon and explore its surface. It is expected to take off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China’s Sichuan province in the second half of 2013.

Two lunar orbiters, Chang’e 1 and Chang’e 2 were launched in 2007 and 2010 and successfully completed their missions.



New engine passes test and revs up space hopes 2012-07-30 10:49:1

By Xin Dingding

A next-generation engine, that will pave the way for lunar exploration, was successfully tested on Sunday.

The engine, with a 120-ton-thrust using liquid oxygen (LOX) and kerosene, will enable the Long March 5 carrier rocket – which is expected to make its maiden voyage in 2014 – to place a 25-ton payload into near-Earth orbit, or place a 14-ton payload into geostationary orbit, experts said.

The tests, which included seeing how the engine would respond to rotational speeds of nearly 20,000 revolutions per minute and temperatures of 3,000 C for 200 seconds, were held in Xi’an, capital of Shaanxi province.

“The successful tests confirm the reliability of China’s LOX/kerosene engine,” said Lai Daichu, test commander.

Tan Yonghua, head of Xi’an Aerospace Propulsion Institute under the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, which developed the engine, said that the single engine currently used by Long March carrier rockets only has a 75-ton thrust, much less than the 120-ton thrust of the new engine.

Luan Xiting, deputy head of the institute, said that the new engine’s extra thrust will enable China to assemble a space station and also help with the third stage of the lunar exploration program.

The three stages involve orbit, landing and return.

Earlier reports said that the Chang’e-5 lunar explorer will bring about 2 kg of lunar samples to Earth.

Ouyang Ziyuan, a senior consultant in the lunar exploration program and a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said that Chang’e-5 will be launched atop the Long March 5 carrier rocket from the new space launch center in Wenchang, Hainan province, which is under construction.

The space program is in the second stage, with three lunar exploration spacecraft, Chang’e 2, Chang’e 3 and Chang’e 4.

Ouyang said in a recent e-mail reply to China Daily that China will launch its third lunar explorer, Chang’e 3, next year to land on the moon.

A rover will explore its surroundings.

The landing is expected to be the most challenging part of the mission, he said.

Chang’e 3 will hover about 4 meters above the lunar surface.

Then the engine will cut out, and the Chang’e 3 will drop onto the surface.

As for the rover, the leading scientist in lunar exploration said it is “China’s most advanced robot”.

The rover carries a lunar “radar” and while it is operating on the surface it can scan several hundred meters under the surface.

The rover also carries instruments that can detect minerals.

To combat nighttime temperatures, -180 C, scientists have developed nuclear-powered batteries that can help the lander and rover function.

They will conserve energy by “hibernating” and when the sun rises the solar energy will “wake” the lander and the rover, he said.

Ouyang said the second lunar orbiter, Chang’e 2, has traveled to explore an asteroid.

The asteroid, 4179 Toutatis, is listed as a potentially hazardous object by scientists because it makes frequent Earth fly pasts.

Prior to traveling into deep space, Chang’e 2, launched in October 2010, completed its six-month mission and spent 235 days some 1.5 million km from Earth, where it gathered a large amount of scientific data about solar activity, he said.

It started its quest for the asteroid on April 15, and is expected to observe the asteroid close up, he said.

(Source: China Daily)

Editor: Wang Yuanyuan

Countdown Mars Curiosity Rover to Landing on August 6th

Curiosity’s Daily Update: MSL Configured for Final Approach; Flight Team Takes a Breath

July 26: MSL Configured for Final Approach; Flight Team Takes a Breath
With completion of nearly all work to configure the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft for entry, descent and landing, most of the flight team is getting some well-deserved rest today in preparation for next week’s final approach to Mars. There are no planned flight team spacecraft activities today. NASA’s Deep Space Network continues to monitor spacecraft telemetry and track the spacecraft’s trajectory.

July 25: MSL’s Terminal Descent Radar System Gets a Checkout
Today, the Mars Science Laboratory’s terminal descent sensor is being checked out in preparation for Curiosity’s entry, descent and landing. The sensor is a radar system that is mounted on MSL’s descent stage. Following separation of MSL’s heat shield at an altitude of approximately 5 miles (8 kilometers) and a velocity of approximately 280 mph (125 meters per second), the sensor begins collecting data on the spacecraft’s velocity and altitude in preparation for landing.

July 24: Curiosity’s Batteries Get a Charge
Today, Curiosity’s two lithium ion rechargeable batteries are being recharged to 100 percent of capacity in preparation for entry, descent and landing. The batteries, which have been maintained at a 70-percent state of charge during the cruise to Mars, are being recharged using power from Mars Science Laboratory’s cruise-stage solar array. The batteries enable Curiosity’s power subsystem to meet peak power demands of rover activities when the demand temporarily exceeds the onboard multi-mission radioisotope thermoelectric generator (MMRTG) steady output level. With a capacity of about 42 amp-hours each, the batteries are expected to go through multiple charge-discharge cycles per Martian day.

July 23: Prepping MSL’s Descent Stage Navigation System for Landing
Preparations continue for Curiosity’s entry, descent and landing and surface operations. Today, the two inertial measurement units (IMUs) in Mars Science Laboratory’s descent stage are being configured, along with other guidance and control parameters for entry, descent and landing. The IMUs are electronic devices that will be used to maneuver the spacecraft’s descent stage, measuring and reporting on its velocity, orientation and gravitational forces. The descent stage does its main work during the final few minutes before touchdown on Mars, providing rocket-powered deceleration and two bands of telecommunications for the final phase of MSL’s arrival at Mars that includes lowering the Curiosity rover on a bridle and continuing descent until rover touchdown. In addition, more communications parameter updates for Curiosity’s surface operations are being uploaded to Curiosity’s main computers.

July 22: Trajectory Tracking Continues
Engineers at NASA’s Deep Space Network continue to run differential ranging track passes to track Mars Science Laboratory’s trajectory. These activities are designed to more closely track the spacecraft’s trajectory and position as it draws nearer to the Red Planet and Mars’ gravitational influence on the spacecraft increases.

July 21: Getting a Better Bead on Trajectory
Today, engineers at NASA’s Deep Space Network are running two differential ranging track passes to track Mars Science Laboratory’s trajectory. These activities are designed to more closely track the spacecraft’s trajectory and position as it draws nearer to the Red Planet and Mars’ gravitational influence on the spacecraft increases.

July 20: Curiosity Completes Week of Onboard Computer Preps
As of yesterday evening, the week-long reboot and configuration activities on Curiosity’s two redundant main computers, or Rover Compute Elements — including the uplink of spacecraft configuration parameters for entry, descent and landing — were completed, a day ahead of schedule. Today, backup software for Curiosity’s entry, descent and landing is being configured onboard the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft. In case Curiosity’s prime computer resets for any reason during the critical minutes of entry, descent and landing, this backup software is designed to enable Curiosity’s backup computer to promptly take control and finish the landing with a bare-bones version of entry, descent and landing instructions.

July 19: More Computer Preps for Curiosity
With updated flight sequences and communications parameters for entry, descent and landing and surface operations now uploaded to one of Curiosity’s two redundant main computers — Rover Compute Element (RCE)-B — today RCE-A is being swapped back to become Curiosity’s prime computer, and RCE-B is returning to backup mode. Prime computer RCE-A will then receive its own set of updated flight sequences and communications parameters.

July 18: Curiosity Continues Computer Preps, Gets ‘Attitude Adjustment’
Activities continue to prepare Curiosity’s redundant main computers, or Rover Compute Elements, for arrival at Mars. Today, Curiosity’s RCE-A computer, which was swapped with the backup computer yesterday, is being cold reset, or rebooted, while in online, or backup, mode. Work continues to upload updated flight sequences and communications parameters for Curiosity’s entry, descent and landing and surface operations to the spacecraft. In addition, mission controllers yesterday completed the 21st attitude control turn on the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft, a day early. This turn adjusts the spacecraft’s orientation to keep its medium-gain antenna pointed toward Earth for communications. This was the second-to-last attitude control turn planned before landing day.

July 17: Curiosity Swaps Computers, Gets Updated Arrival Data
Activities continue through July 20 to prepare Curiosity’s redundant main computers, or Rover Compute Elements, for arrival at Mars. Today, the computer that has been operating as Curiosity’s prime computer is being swapped with the backup computer. On Wednesday July 18, that computer will be cold reset, or rebooted, while in online, or backup mode, following the same process used to cold reset the redundant computer on July 16. In addition, beginning today and continuing through July 20, updated flight sequences and communications parameters for Curiosity’s entry, descent and landing and surface operations will be uploaded to the spacecraft.

July 16: Curiosity Computer Preps for Arrival
Beginning today, Curiosity’s redundant main computers, or Rover Compute Elements, will be power-cycled while in the online, or backup mode. The process, called a cold reset, reboots the computer, resetting it to a predictable, default state prior to the mission’s arrival at Mars. This activity begins today with the reboot of the backup computer while in the online state and will continue through July 20. Tomorrow, the prime and backup computers will be swapped, and the reboot process will be repeated on Thursday with the other computer.

July 13: Radiation Instrument Finishes Inflight Measurements
The Radiation Assessment Detector instrument on Curiosity has finished the measurements it had been making during its flight from Earth to Mars. It will be configured for surface operations and turned off today and remain turned off until after landing.

July 12: MSL Team Has Final Test of Landing Procedures
Today, the Mars Science Laboratory flight team is conducting a final operations readiness test of entry, descent and landing procedures in preparation for Curiosity’s landing on Aug. 5, PDT.

July 11: MSL Complete Turn
The Mars Science Laboratory Spacecraft completed an attitude control turn today, adjusting its orientation for keeping its medium-gain antenna pointed toward Earth for communications. This was the third-to-last attitude control turn planned before landing day.

Credit: JPL/NASA

Launch ILV “Soyuz-FG” with a cluster of spacecraft

Start a space rocket “Soyuz-FG” with a cluster of spacecraft (SC) – Russian “Kanopus-In” and MCA-FCI (“Zond-PP”), Belarus BKA, «TET-1″ (Germany) and «ADS- 1B »(Canada).


Russia’s Soyuz successfully launched from Baikonur

Russia’s Soyuz rocket carrying five satellites on board was launched from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan on July 22nd, 2012.

The rocket is expected to deliver the Russian satellites Canopus-B and MKA-PN1, a Belarusian BKA satellite, the Canadian ADS-1B and German TET-1 into orbit.

The Russian-made Canopus-B satellite is designed for remote sensing of the Earth.

The MKA-PN1 satellite is designed to help meteorologists collect data on ocean circulation and climate dynamics.

The launch was postponed several times due to lack of agreement between Russia and Kazakhstan on where the rocket`s tugs would land after separating.

The two countries’ space agencies have, however, agreed three rocket launches above Kazakhstan’s northern territories this year.

RIA, Interfax

Sally Ride, First U.S. Woman in Space, Dies

Sally Ride, the first U.S. women to enter space, died in Calif. at the age of 61 after a 17-month-long battle with pancreatic cancer.

Sally Ride Dead; First American Woman in Space Was 61

Sally Ride Recalls ‘Spectacular View’ of Earth From Orbit

The first American woman astronaut remembers her shuttle flights, and reflects on significant changes affecting Earth’s climate since then.

NASA Confirms Death From Pancreatic Cancer

Sally Ride, the NASA astronaut who became the first American woman in space in 1983, has died after a 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer, her office said today. She was 61 years old and had lived in California.

In 1983 and again in 1984, she flew as a mission specialist on the space shuttle Challenger, conducting experiments, operating the shuttle’s robot arm — and breaking through a very high-altitude glass ceiling.

“Sally was a national hero and a powerful role model,” said President Obama in a statement from the White House. “Sally’s life showed us that there are no limits to what we can achieve and I have no doubt that her legacy will endure for years to come.”

Click for Pictures: Sally Ride and Her Fellow Women Pioneers

Members of Congress, fellow astronauts and close friends offered tributes too.

“Sally lived her life to the fullest, with boundless energy, curiosity, intelligence, passion, commitment, and love,” said her colleagues at Sally Ride Science, an organization she set up after her NASA career to inspire young girls to pursue careers in science and engineering. “Her integrity was absolute; her spirit was immeasurable; her approach to life was fearless.”

Born on May 26, 1951, in Los Angeles, Sally Kristen Ride studied physics at Stanford University, earning a Ph.D. in 1978. By then she had already been selected as one of NASA’s first six woman astronaut candidates. The agency was gearing up for its new shuttle program, and said it wanted to expand its astronaut corps, which in its early years had been mostly limited to test pilots.

“Sally Ride broke barriers with grace and professionalism — and literally changed the face of America’s space program,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement. “The nation has lost one of its finest leaders, teachers and explorers. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sally’s family and the many she inspired. She will be missed, but her star will always shine brightly.”

Smart and assertive, Ride won assignment to the crew of STS-7, the seventh shuttle flight. It launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on June 18, 1983. It attracted some of the largest crowds to watch a shuttle launch, including many who made banners and chanted, “Ride, Sally, ride!”

“On launch day, there was so much excitement and so much happening around us in crew quarters, even on the way to the launch pad,” Ride recalled in a 2008 interview. “I didn’t really think about it that much at the time — but I came to appreciate what an honor it was to be selected to be the first to get a chance to go into space.”

The flight ran six days. She and four male crewmates orbited Earth 97 times, landing safely at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

“The thing that I’ll remember most about that flight is that it was fun, and in fact I’m sure it will be the most fun I’ll ever have in my life,” she said after her return from space.

She flew again the next year on another mission, designated STS-41G. On that flight a crewmate, Kathleen Sullivan, became the first American woman to go outside the ship on a spacewalk. Ride, operating the shuttle’s robotic arm, provided logistical support.

Ride would have flown again, possibly in 1986, but the Challenger was destroyed on its 10th mission, exploding 73 seconds after liftoff. Seven astronauts were killed, including the teacher Christa McAuliffe. The nation was stunned. The shuttle program was halted for two years.

Ride was appointed by President Reagan to serve on the panel investigating the tragedy, a job she would repeat in 2003 after the loss of the shuttle Columbia.

Ride left NASA after the Challenger disaster, turning her life to writing, teaching, speaking, and entrepreneurship. She said she had been an outlier when she turned to science in school; she wanted more young women to feel welcome in the mostly male world of technology.

She was not the first woman ever in orbit. Back in 1963, the Soviet Union launched Valentina Tereshkova on a three-day flight in its Vostok 6 capsule.

But American political leaders, locked in a space race with the Russians, derided the flight as a publicity stunt on which Tereshkova was mostly a passenger. No more women would fly in space for nearly 20 years.

Ride married a fellow astronaut, Steven Hawley, in 1982; the marriage ended in divorce in 1987. Her company said that for the last 27 years, she had a partner, Tam O’Shaughnessy, and they lived in the San Diego area. She is also survived by her mother, Joyce, and a sister, a niece and a nephew.

“Sally was a very private person who found herself a very public persona,” said Hawley, now a professor at the University of Kansas. “While she never enjoyed being a celebrity, she recognized that it gave her the opportunity to encourage children, particularly young girls, to reach their full potential.”

Ride’s effect on younger women was electric. Astronaut Dottie Metcalfe-Lindenburger, who flew on one of the very last shuttle flights, said she was inspired in her childhood by Ride’s example.

“I grew up during the shuttle age, so I was really excited in the second grade when we started flying the shuttle and I remember watching that in our class,” Metcalfe-Lindenburger said in a 2009 interview with ABC News. “Somehow I realized that women could become astronauts.”.

Credit: NASA, ABC News, CBS News