Private Company Moon Express given permission to go to the Moon

Moon Express has officially received permission from the FAA to travel to the moon in 2017.

The company, based in Cape Canaveral, Fla., announced its approval from the FAA on Wednesday. Moon Express came about from the Google Lunar X-PRIZE, which awards any private company $30 million that can reach the moon. The X Prizes were started by Peter H. Diamandis, an entrepreneur seeking to encourage and fuel aviation advances. The Google Lunar X Prize was announced in 2007, almost a decade ago.

Now that the company has permission it has to safely land on the moon, which might make it the first non governmental agency to land on the moon. As of now only the United States, China, and U.S.S.R. have landed on the moon. The last time NASA landed on the moon was in 1976. Companies, as of now, are only allowed to go as far as geosynchronous orbit. The moon is about 10 times the distance.

The company will launch the MX-1 lander in 2017, once landing on the moon they will attempt to travel across different parts of the surface via rockets on the MX-1 lander.

Moon Express will be able to harvest resources from the moon and bring them back to the Earth for profit. The moon is a jackpot of resources such as iron, aluminum, silicon, helium-3, and more. This will enable other companies to push to do the same. In the future we might see a host of companies made to mine space for resources and much more.

You can go to their site to see more.

 

Kajima and Jaxa are partnering to develop machinery for off world use

A Japanese contractor Kajima is planning to partner with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa) to create automated construction machinery that will be used outside the Earth.

The company states on its website that the automated construction could be used off world to prepare landing sites, build launchpads, or carry dirt. The machines would be operated by humans via computers from a remote location. According to Kajima, networked bulldozers carried out “simple and repetitive” construction operations with “high precision”.

Kajima plans to develop its A4CSEL software to enable communication between machines, which can compensate for the delay in signals sent from the Earth. It would allow machines to avoid each other while working. The software would also be beneficial for rovers working on Mars or the Moon.

JAXA and Kajima are working together to develop machinery for the Space Exploration Innovation Hub project. An experiment will be held in doors in April of 2017. Kajima and JAXA aim to have fully functional machinery and developed software for use in the next 15 to 25 years.

 

Our journey to a base on the moon may soon begin.

The Senior staff from NASA’s Space Portal Office have tasked themselves to be the leading force in developing a Lunar base, they published their writings in the New Space Journal.

Bruce Pittman the chief systems engineer at NASA Ames Research Center Space Portal Office, lead of integrative studies Lynn Harper, technical operations manager Mark Newfield, and Daniel Rasky, chief of the Space Portal Office, said for NASA a Lunar base would function as “a clear, achievable, and highly engaging next step.”

They wrote that with current and upcoming technologies it is a mission that is both practical and affordable. “Pursued under the feasibility proof of ISS, using best practices extracted from its build and operation, and combined with the current and emerging capabilities from the traditional and emerging aerospace industry, the Lunar Station is the logical next step in space development.”

They went on to write that the project would reignite and maintain an engaged public in space and continue NASA role as a leader in space exploration, even more so since the agency has plans for Mars. “This next step must serve as an enabling pathway for NASA’s ultimate goal of human missions to Mars and human or robotic exploration and development of asteroids and other planetary bodies. A clear, achievable, and highly engaging near-term next step is also essential for NASA to maintain its relevance to the US public, its leadership in the international community, and its technical cutting edge.”

This would create new markets for space exploration, development, and open up possibilities we have not thought of yet. They estimate the cost of the base to be around $2bn a year and five years to develop. It has been proposed that the station would be developed using habitat modules from Bigelow Areospace and additive manufacturing, which is more commonly known as 3D printing. At the beginning stage robots will be sent in several missions to find suitable sites and gather data and resources. Once a clear site location has been established excavation equipment will be sent and solar power and communication stations will be installed. Bigelow Areospace habitat modules will then be installed and the first crew would leave for the Lunar site and gradually increase.

Steadily they predict lunar tourism to effectively begin after some time. “As transportation to and from the Moon becomes more frequent and cheaper, the lunar tourism mark should begin to emerge and could become a significant source of income in the future.”

They went on to write “Key to this next phase of development is to explore options for developing commerce on the Moon. Some of the possible export options include water from the permanently shadowed craters, precious metals from asteroid impact sites, and even He [helium] that could fuel a pollution-free terrestrial civilization for many centuries.”

Star Wars VR coming to HTC Vive

Lucasfilm and Industrial Light and Magic have worked together to bring a part of Star Wars into virtual reality technology.

Trials on Tatooine, the latest project, uses the HTC Vive headset as its medium for virtual reality. In December ILMxLab released Jakku Spy for Google Cardboard, which was mostly a viewing experience. Trials on Tatooine will allow for a more immersive experience and the potential use of light sabers with the full motion tracking handheld controllers.

There’s no word when exactly Trials on Tatooine will be available to the public. ILMxLab is currently doing private demos at the Game Developers Conference (GDC).

In the meantime you can try out Googles Lightsaber Escape, a web game collaboration between Google, Disney, Lucasfilm, and Industrial Light and Magic. Lightsaber Escape can be played through the games website. All you have to do is download an app for your phone, connect it to the laptop or PC browser game, and start swinging away your phone which will also move the lightsaber. It might take some time and patience to get a hang of the game but its worth a try.

Gravitational Waves proven real 100 years after Einsteins predictions

On September 14th, 2015, at 11:50 a.m, gravitational waves spread through the Earth as a result of a collision between two black holes about 1.3 billion light-years from Earth.

In 1916, 100 years ago, an enigmatic theoretical physicist predicted a phenomenon known as gravitational waves. These waves warp space and time and are caused by objects with incredible mass. Albert Einstein went on to write his predictions on gravitational waves in the general theory of relativity, though these waves eluded scientists well past Einsteins lifetime.

Gravitational Waves

SOURCE|LIGO

It wasn’t until 1974 when researchers, Joseph Taylor and Russell Hulse, indirectly confirmed the existence of gravitational waves when shifts in flashing from a pair of neutron stars matched the predictions made by Einstein. They went on to win a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1993 for their discovery.

On February 11th, 2016 The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) announced their findings. David Reitze, the executive director of LIGO, said at the Washington DC press conference, “Ladies and gentlemen, we have detected gravitational waves.”

Marco Drago at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics saw the signal on his computer in Hannover, Germany. Bruce Allen, Drago’s boss confirmed the signal on September 14th, 2015.

LIGO Data

SOURCE|LIGO

The National Science Foundation in Washington D.c., gathered scientists to discuss the findings and Physical Review Letters from a team of more than a thousand researchers in 15 different countries. This was the first time that scientists directly detected gravitational waves that began at 35 hertz and picked up to 250 hertz, they lasted about one-fourth of a second, and sounded like chirps, they were picked up by L-shaped antennas in Washington State and Louisiana. This was also the first black hole merger that scientists have observed, which also occurred between 600 million and 1.8 billion years ago. The collision apparently radiated more energy than all the stars in the observable universe at the time.

SOURCE|CALTECH LIGO

Gravitational waves, when they travel through the universe collide with matter like planets, stars, and other cosmic objects which can later be produced into sounds and studied. This new discovery might lead to news ways for astronomers to find undiscovered cosmic objects in space. According to Einstein the Earth should experience gravitational waves often, the only problem is that by the time these waves reach Earth they are hard to detect. Which might not be a problem in the future as the LIGO has been upgraded.

The Advanced LIGO will be an upgrade to three interferometers in the U.S. Other gravitational wave detectors are the Virgo interferometer in Italy, the GEO600 in Hannover, another is being developed in Japan, and a third LIGO development has been proposed in India. With a multitude of detectors it would be easier to detect gravitational waves and to pinpoint the source that caused the waves.

A new era of scientific research is about to begin through the proven existence of gravitational waves and there most likely will be a Noble Prize for this discovery.

SpaceX: The Falcon 9 lands, tilts, and explodes.

Its not easy trying to land a Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket onto an automated barge with weather conditions continuously promoting the death of the Falcon. On Sunday, January 17th, SpaceX used the Falcon 9 to launch the Jason-3 ocean monitoring satellite into orbit and the Falcon made its way down to Earth attempting to land on a barge out in the Pacific, but failed and well exploded when it tilted and hit the landing pad, called the droneship.

Here is the drone ship posted by Elon Musk on Twitter:

https://twitter.com/SpaceX/status/688577089679708160/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

 

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk posted a video on Instagram, which shows the rocket landing but begins to tilt, and you can see that one of the legs gives in. That imbalance causes the rocket to fall and hit the pad, it was so close to a perfect landing even with the 12 to 15 foot ocean waves and foggy weather.

Watch the video from Elon Musk’s Instagram:

Falcon lands on droneship, but the lockout collet doesn’t latch on one the four legs, causing it to tip over post landing. Root cause may have been ice buildup due to condensation from heavy fog at liftoff.

This was the fourth attempt by SpaceX to land a rocket safely onto one of their droneships at sea. Though don’t be depressed or lose sight of the goal. Landing rockets its tough business and SpaceX is already halfway there.

Elon Musk adds humor to it and isn’t giving up.

Elon Musk Twitter:

https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/688837706005131264/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Though lets not forget that last December SpaceX made history by landing the Falcon 9 on land after launching from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. That landing was one the most beautiful things I have seen and am anticipating more.