Famous upstart startup rocket company SpaceX, bankrolled and helmed by renowned internet nerdwealth hecamillionaire Elon Musk, has once again sent its goalposts racing ahead of its rapidly-advancing corporate reality. The plucky challenger has stated that its “Dragon” capsule is not merely capable of delivering supplies to the International Space Station: it is – potentially – also capable of carrying astronauts to the space station and back down to Earth again. In a statement released yesterday, Musk and SpaceX also make the bold claim that the Dragon, once fitted with modifications that the company is now developing under NASA contract, would also be able to land “almost anywhere on Earth or another planet with pinpoint accuracy, overcoming the limitation of a winged architecture that works only in Earth’s atmosphere”
Russian bear plots Mars mission The Register
The top man at Russia’s leading space firm has mooted an ambitious expansion of the country’s space effort. President of Energia corporation Nikolai Sevastianov said manned missions to the Moon and Mars were on the cards by 2030. He said: “We can land on the Moon before 2015”. His plan is to start mining the Moon for the 1m tons of potential fusion fuel helium-3 scientists say it has. They say this would be enough to power Earth for 1,000 years, and one experts estimates its value at $4bn per ton. This would easily offset the cost of mining it, Sevastianov said.
Europe will land on Mars in 2013 The Register
The European Space Agency (ESA) has confirmed that it plans to send another mission to land on Mars, as part of the pan-European Aurora programme to explore the solar system. The main objectives of the
PPARC sets up Mars committee The Register
PPARC has appointed a board of space experts to oversee the UK’s participation in the European Space Agency’s Aurora programme. The Aurora Advisory Committee (AurAC) will be headed by Dr. Mark Sims from the University of Leicester, last seen as project manager on the Beagle 2 mission. He will be joined by the Open University’s Professor Colin Pillinger, and Dr Sarah Dunkin, vice president of the Royal Astronomical Society, among others.
NASA pumps $400m into nuclear space probe The Register
NASA has awarded Northrop Grumman a $400m contract to co-design the Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter (JIMO) space probe – slated for a rendevouz with Jovian moons Callisto, Europa and Ganymede some time after 2012. The JIMO project has generated a certain amount of controversy due to its uranium-fuelled nuclear fission reactor – which creates electricity to drive the “nuclear electric propulsion (NEP)” system. In simple terms, NEP uses the electricity produced by the reactor to ionise propellant atoms which can then be ejected at high velocity from the vehicle’s propulsion system by magnetic or electrified grids. NASA has already proven this “ion drive” technology aboard Deep Space 1, although electricity for the thrusters was in that case provided by solar panels.
ESA commissions super spacesuit The Register
The European Space Agency (ESA) today launched a project which it hopes will generate ideas for the next generation of spacesuits. The ultimate goal is to develop a suit that will allow a human being to explore the surface of Mars, while providing real-time monitoring of vital signs and location. The second StarTiger project (Space Technology Advancements by Resourceful, Targeted and Innovative Groups of Experts and Researchers) will be run in Finland at the Tampere University of Technology (TUT). TUT was selected becuase of its many years of research experience in designing so-called “Smart” clothes.
Martians invade Canada The Register
The Xybernaut Corporation, of Fairfax, Virginia, has announced that it will be providing mobile wearable computing systems for a future conquest of Mars. The company’s kit will be field tested as part of the 2001 Haughton-Mars Project (HMP). The NASA and SETI funded project is intended to test men and machines in conditions which closely match those of the red planet.