Virgin Orbit Readies LauncherOne Rocket for Maiden Flight

Virgin Orbit is just months away from the first launch of its LauncherOne rocket. The company is currently undergoing an extensive test campaign to ensure that the vehicle will function correctly on its maiden flight. A drop test – part of the captive carry test campaign – is slated to begin by July 23.

Virgin Orbit’s mission is to make it easier for small satellites to reach orbit.

“Traditionally these [small] satellites went as back passengers with large satellites. If you were putting up a big communications satellite or you were putting up [a spacecraft] to supply the space station you could tag along,” explained Virgin Orbit’s CEO Dan Hart at the Western Museum of Flight earlier this year.

Read more at: NASA Spaceflight

China Appears to be Preparing to Deorbit its Tiangong-2 Space Lab

China has lowered the orbit of its Tiangong-2 space lab, likely in preparation for deorbiting the orbital facility and thus averting a similar scenario to the uncontrolled re-entry of Tiangong-1 earlier this year.

Tiangong-2 was launched in September 2016 to test advanced life support and refueling and resupply capabilities via the crewed Shenzhou-11 and uncrewed Tianzhou-1 cargo missions, in preparation for constructing a large, modular space station in low Earth orbit.

Orbital information published by the U.S. Strategic Command’s Joint Force Space Component Command, through the Joint Space Operations Center, indicates that Tiangong-2 has moved from an altitude of around 380 by 386 kilometers down to 292 by 297 kilometers.

Read more at: Spacenews

Whoa! Watch This Fireball Blaze Over a Foo Fighters Concert in the Netherlands

A brilliant fireball brought some out-of-this-world fireworks to a Foo Fighters concert in the Netherlands on Saturday (June 16).

While the rock band was performing at the Pinkpop Festival in the town of Landgraaf, the bright-green meteor came plummeting through the atmosphere at 11:11 p.m. local time (5:11 p.m. EDT, 2111 GMT), in the final moments of a drum solo by band member Taylor Hawkins.

One festival attendee who was using his smartphone to record the show from the crowd managed to capture the meteor on camera. In the video, you can see a bright-green light flash in the night sky before the glowing light peters out behind the stage.

Read more at: Space.com

NanoRacks Deploys Largest Satellite from International Space Station to Date

Early this morning, NanoRacks successfully deployed the RemoveDEBRIS satellite from the International Space Station via the Company’s commercially developed Kaber Microsatellite Deployer (Kaber). This is the third major microsatellite deployment for NanoRacks, and the largest satellite to ever be deployed from the International Space Station.

RemoveDEBRIS, one of the world’s first attempts to address the build-up of dangerous space debris orbiting Earth, was launched to the Space Station via NanoRacks on the 14th SpaceX Commercial Resupply Mission in early April.

Read more at: Nanoracks

As Mega-constellations Loom, US Seeks to Manage Space Debris Problem

Space is getting ever more crowded. The US Strategic Command’s Space Surveillance Network tracks more than 19,000 objects in orbit around the Earth, and there are estimated to be hundreds of thousands of more objects 1cm or larger in space near the planet. Because they are traveling at tens of thousands of kilometers per hour relative to Earth, even small objects pose a significant danger.

The National Space Council thinks we could do a better job of tracking and mitigating this debris. On Monday morning, the executive secretary of the space council, Scott Pace, outlined some of the space traffic management changes in a call with a handful of space reporters. “This is a new national policy to address the challenges of a congested space environment,” he said. “Unfettered access to space is a vital US interest.”

Read more at: Arstechnica

US-China Space Race Puts Moon Back into the Spotlight

The moon is back in the telescopes of the world’s scientists as major powers — notably China and the U.S. — as well as some highflying companies, push their space programs to new frontiers.

In the next chapter of this great space adventure, the moon has a key role to play, both as a potential base for further exploration and as a treasure chest of key resources — most importantly, water.

“When it comes to developing resources in space, water comes first,” said Hideaki Miyamoto, a professor and expert on space resources at the University of Tokyo. But why search for water on the moon when there is so much on Earth?

It all has to do with rocket fuel.

Read more at: Asia nikkei

NASA will Seek Partnership with US Industry to Develop First Gateway Element

As part of the agency’s Exploration Campaign, NASA’s Gateway will become the orbital outpost for robotic and human exploration operations in deep space. Built with commercial and international partners, the Gateway will support exploration on and near the Moon, and beyond, including Mars.

NASA released a draft solicitation through a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) June 21, 2018, for proposals for partnership for the first element of the Gateway. NASA is seeking a high-power, 50-kW solar electric propulsion (SEP) spacecraft to maintain the Gateway’s position as well as move it between lunar orbits as needed. It will also provide power to the rest of the Gateway, controls and communications. In addition to the draft BAA, NASA will host an industry day July 10 at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland prior to issuing the final BAA. Industry day details are available in the draft BAA.

Read more at: NASA

Space Tourists could be Struck Down by Astro-sickness, Warns Nasa Astronaut

The dream of boldly going where only a few have gone before has inspired hundreds of people to sign up with space tourism companies like Virgin Galactic.

But Nasa astronaut Anna Fisher, who made history by becoming the first mother in space, has warned many are unprepared for the rigours of spaceflight and the toll it will take on their bodies.

Dr Fisher said she was sick for the first two days of her mission on the Discovery space shuttle in 1984 and said she was concerned that people paying hundreds of thousands of pounds did not fully appreciate what might happen.

Read more at: Telegraph

The Discount Airline Model is Coming to Rocket Launches

When a sleek 17 meter-tall rocket called Electron blasts off from a pad at Mahia, New Zealand sometime between tomorrow and July 6 it will become the first flight bearing the payload for actual paying customers for its owner Rocket Lab—the standard-bearer of a new breed of small rocket launch companies.

The rockets are much smaller than SpaceX’s 70 meter Falcon 9, which costs roughly $62 million per flight. They’re also smaller than the 60 meter Atlas V of the United Launch Alliance, which can cost roughly $200 million to get into space, once an ongoing subsidy to maintain readiness is taken into account. These new companies—Rocket Lab, Vector, and Virgin Orbit—are selling flights on much smaller rockets for between $3 and $15 million.

Read more at: Popsci

Commerce Department Moves Ahead with Space Regulatory Reforms

Nearly a month after the signing of a policy directive calling for commercial space regulatory reforms, Commerce Department officials said this week they’re moving ahead on a number of fronts.

At the June 18 meeting of the National Space Council, and subsequent events in the following days, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and other department officials said they’re making progress on implementing elements of Space Policy Directive (SPD) 2, signed May 24, that call for reforms to commercial remote sensing and other regulations within the jurisdiction of his department.

Read more at: Spacenews

Space Tourism Not Far Off, Rocket Maker Says

The China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology is known as a prestigious developer of carrier rockets, but in the near future, it may acquire a new tag: China’s first space tourism provider.

Engineers at the academy in Beijing’s southern outskirts are designing a new spacecraft to send anyone willing to pay $200,000 to $250,000 on a suborbital journey to get a magnificent view of the stars and experience weightlessness, according to the academy, part of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp and the country’s largest rocket maker.

Read more at: USA Chinadaily

Blue Origin Plans to Start Selling Suborbital Spaceflight Tickets Next Year

Blue Origin expects to start flying people on its New Shepard suborbital vehicle “soon” and start selling tickets for commercial flights next year, a company executive said June 19.

Speaking at the Amazon Web Services Public Sector Summit here, as the keynote of a half-day track on earth and space applications, Blue Origin Senior Vice President Rob Meyerson offered a few updates on the development of the company’s suborbital vehicle.

“We plan to start flying our first test passengers soon,” he said after showing a video of a previous New Shepard flight at the company’s West Texas test site. All of the New Shepard flights to date have been without people on board, but the company has said in the past it would fly its personnel on the vehicle in later tests.

Read more at: Spacenews

The Future Just ain’t What it used to be: Space Tourism Edition

On this date in 2004, Mike Melvill lit the candle on SpaceShipOne as soared into history as the first astronaut to fly a privately-built spacecraft to space. Fourteen years. It seems like only a lifetime ago.

I was on the flight line that day (I’m the guy with the video camera) not far from where I write this today. The excitement and optimism of that day — that feeling that a new era of spaceflight would soon be upon us — was palpable. The future was within our grasp.

The last 14 years have been a lot like the movie, “Groundhog Day.” Not in the sense of the same day being repeated endlessly, but the same old promises being made over and over. And still, space tourism remains just out of our grasp.

What went wrong? It’s a question I’ve pondered as I’ve watched the setbacks and the tragedies unfold here in Mojave.

Read more at: Parabolicarc

French Designer Creates Womblike Habitat for Space Tourists

Philippe Starck made his name designing interiors and consumer products here on Earth, but now the French designer is taking things to a whole new level — literally. Starck has designed a luxurious orbiting habitat to accommodate customers of Houston-based commercial spaceflight company Axiom Space, which plans to launch space tourists into low-Earth orbit beginning with trips to the International Space Station in 2020.

Renderings of the habitat show a womblike chamber with walls that are covered with tufted padding and studded with hundreds of color-changing LEDs. Plans call for chambers of this design to be installed aboard Axiom Station, a private space station that Axiom Space hopes to attach to the ISS in 2022.

“My vision is to create a comfortable egg, friendly, where walls are so soft and in harmony with the values of movements of the human body in zero gravity,” Starck said in a written statement posted on his website. “My design is a mix of extreme rigorous functionality and a place dedicated to making the crew function at their best,” he added in an email to NBC News MACH. “I want to keep them deeply happy.”

Read more at: NBC News

When a Mars Simulation Goes Wrong

The drive to the little white dome on the northern slope of Mauna Loa is a bumpy one. Mauna Loa, the “Long Mountain,” is a colossal volcano that covers half of the island of Hawaii. The rocky terrain, rusty brown and deep red, crunches beneath car tires and jostles passengers. Up there, more than 8,000 feet above sea level and many miles away from the sounds of civilization, it doesn’t feel like Earth. It feels like another planet. Like Mars.

For the past five years, small groups of people have made this drive and moved into the dome, known as a habitat. Their job is to pretend that they really are on Mars, and then spend months living like it. The goal, for the researchers who send them there, is to figure out how human beings would do on a mission to the real thing.

Read more at: Atlantic

Surgery in Space

There has been renewed public interest in manned space exploration owing to novel initiatives by private and governmental bodies. Long‐term goals include manned missions to, and potential colonization of, nearby planets. Travel distances and mission length required for these would render Earth‐based treatment and telemedical solutions unfeasible. These issues present an anticipatory challenge to planners, and novel or adaptive medical technologies must therefore be devised to diagnose and treat the range of medical issues that future space travellers will encounter.

Read more at: Wiley library

Over a Million Space Rocks Could Strike Earth With More Energy than a Nuclear Bomb, and We Don’t Know Where Most of Them are

The threat of an “Armageddon-like” asteroid colliding into Earth is more real than you might think.

Though an Earth-destroying asteroid of the size that a crack team led by Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck destroyed with a nuclear bomb is statistically improbable, NASA is taking the threat of smaller, near-Earth Objects (NEOs) seriously.

According to a new report the agency released earlier this month – which is based on a 2016 report – NASA is seeking to coordinate a strategy across a number of federal agencies to locate, track, and destroy asteroids that may pose a threat to Earth. It’s a mission handed to the space agency from Congress, which passed a law in 2005 charging NASA with finding potentially hazardous NEOs.

Read more at: Business Insider

Space Objects will Still be Hard to Protect Despite New Policy

A new space traffic management policy signed by President Donald Trump could help prevent thousands of space objects from colliding, but sufficient technical solutions are lacking, says Carolin Frueh, Purdue assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics.

Space traffic is much more congested and unpredictable than air traffic on earth. “For air traffic, there are multiple radars tracking several airplanes per hour, but for space traffic, only a few sensors on earth are tracking about 20,000 known objects,” Frueh said. “If we include the objects that are smaller in size, then we’re talking about 100,000 or more objects that are of interest – and all of them different dimensions.”

Read more at: Purdue

Federal Government Releases National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Plan

A new multiagency report outlines how the U.S. could become better prepared for near-Earth objects — asteroids and comets whose orbits come within 30 million miles of Earth — otherwise known as NEOs. While no known NEOs currently pose significant risks of impact, the report is a key step to addressing a nationwide response to any future risks.

NASA, along with the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and several other governmental agencies collaborated on this federal planning document for NEOs.

The 20-page document is titled “The National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy and Action Plan,” and organizes and coordinates efforts related to the NEO efforts within the federal government during the next 10 years to ensure the nation can more effectively respond in case this type of very low-probability but very high-consequence natural disaster should occur.

Read more at: JPL

After 99 years, Einstein’s General Relativity Confirmed at Galactic Scale

In 1919, British astronomer Sir Arthur Eddington traveled to the West African island of Príncipe to take measurements of starlight passing so close to the sun it could only be seen during a total eclipse. His goal was to test a young German physicist’s prediction that the gravity of the sun warps nearby spacetime, thereby bending any light passing.

Eddington’s results confirmed the theory, propelling Albert Einstein to international fame. But it is only now, 99 years later, that astrophysicists have found a way to test Einstein’s theory of gravity on a larger scale, verifying that what works for stars and planets also works for galaxies. In the process, they have improved the case for a mysterious substance known as dark matter and its even more enigmatic cousin, dark energy.

Read more at: Cosmos magazine

Could Cyanobacteria Help to Terraform Mars?

Billions of years ago, Earth’s atmosphere was much different than it is today. Whereas our current atmosphere is a delicate balance of nitrogen gas, oxygen and trace gases, the primordial atmosphere was the result of volcanic outgassing – composed primarily of carbon dioxide, methane, ammonia, and other harsh chemicals. In this respect, our planet’s ancient atmosphere has something in common with Mars’ current atmosphere.

For this reason, some researchers think that introducing photosynthetic bacteria, which helped covert Earth’s atmosphere to what it is today, could be used to terraform Mars someday. According to a new study by an international team of scientists, it appears that cyanobacteria can conduct photosynthesis in low-light conditions. The results of this study could have drastic implications for Mars, where low-light conditions are common.

Read more at: Universe Today

Russia Tests Laser Ignition for Oxygen-hydrogen Rocket Engine for First Time

Russia has tested a laser ignition system for the oxygen-hydrogen rocket engine for the first time. This work brings Russia closer to developing a reliable engine for reusable launch vehicles, the press office of the Energomash Research and Production Association announced on Friday.

“On June 20, tests of the laser system of igniting the oxygen-hydrogen propellant of the liquid rocket engine were held successfully in Russia for the first time at the testing compound of the Chemical Automatics Design Bureau,” the company said.

On the firing stand, the experimental system was activated three times and the laser ignited the propellant directly in the combustion chamber. “The state of the equipment after the firing tests is satisfactory,” the Energomash press office said.

Read more at: TASS

What Would the Mission of the United States Space Force be?

President Trump’s recent directive to the Defense Department to create a new branch of the military, a United States Space Force, was not an idle musing. Trump’s proposal derives from a growing debate inside military and political circles about how to best meet the threat posed to American space assets by potential enemies: Russia and China, to be precise.

Pentagon officials are sounding the alarm that the United States is not ready for a space war. The other two great space powers have been creating the weapons to achieve an orbital Pearl Harbor, the destruction of satellites that provide the military with communications, navigation, and intelligence capabilities it will need in a war. After years of neglect, the current administration is pouring resources into a fevered attempt to play catchup before it’s too late.

Read more at: Spacenews

Trump’s Space Force Faces Hurdles in the Pentagon and Congress

President Donald Trump’s surprise announcement yesterday that he wants to establish a separate “Space Force” as a sixth branch of the U.S. armed forces may pit him against top military leaders and lawmakers.

During a Monday meeting of the National Space Council, Trump declared that he is directing the Department of Defense to immediately begin the process of creating a space force that is “separate but equal” to the Air Force, the service currently responsible for most of the U.S. military assets and operations in space. The president’s directive to create a separate entity dedicated to military space operations appeared to take the Pentagon by surprise, after senior leaders spent the last year quashing a congressional proposal to do just that.

Read more at: Foreign policy

Why Trump’s ‘Space Force’ Won’t — and Shouldn’t — Happen

Good government is often unglamorous stuff—fixing pot holes, plowing snow, collecting trash. At a White House event on June 18, President Trump was supposed to deliver a brief address on the trash-collecting part. Yes, the junk in question is in space—the growing belt of debris that has been accumulating in Earth orbit since the very beginning of the space age and poses an increasing risk to satellites and other spacecraft. But it’s still just trash, and managing it was the focus of Trump’s latest Space Policy Directive—the third he has signed since taking office.

As Trump has been known to do, however, he riffed a bit in his address, veering off-script to a topic he has raised before: the establishment of a “Space Force”as a separate branch of the military, joining the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard. Signing an executive order, Trump announced, “I am hereby directing the Department of Defense and Pentagon to immediately begin the process necessary to establish a Space Force as the sixth branch of the armed forces. We are going to have the Air Force, and we are going to have the Space Force, separate but equal.”

Read more at: Time

A Space Force? The Idea May Have Merit, Some Say

President Trump’s call on Monday for the Defense Department to establish a sixth branch of the military, this one focusing on space, has not exactly engendered a groundswell of support at the Pentagon.

“We got it,” Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, replied when Mr. Trump put him on the spot during a speech and directed him to “begin the process necessary” to create a space force.

“Working with Congress, this will be a deliberate process with a great deal of input from multiple stakeholders,” the Pentagon press secretary, Dana W. White, said a few hours later in an email to reporters.

Read more at: NYTimes

As Trump Pushes for Separate Space Force, Russia Moves Fast the Other Way

Since the USSR launched Sputnik in 1957, space has always been seen as a domain for potential conflict. The technology required to reach orbit has inherent military applications, and the importance of space-based military assets — communications and intelligence satellites — has only grown over the past 60 years.

But few have been as explicit about the military aspects of space technology as U.S. President Donald Trump. Announcing an executive order on June 19 to create a sixth branch of the U.S. military, known as the Space Force, Trump said a new service was needed to ensure American dominance on the high frontier — apparently undercutting his defense secretary, James Mattis.

Read more at: Defensenews

The US ‘Space Force’ and its Implications

On June 18, U.S. President Donald Trump announced the establishment of a “space force” as the sixth branch of the United States military, “separate but equal” to the U.S. Air Force (USAF), which has overseen U.S. military space operations. Some have compared it to the moment when the USAF itself was established in September 1947, as a separate entity from the U.S. Army, of which it was, until then, a subordinate part.

By establishing a new branch of the U.S. military, Trump is sending a signal to countries like China and Russia that U.S. space assets will now have a “dedicated military branch” safeguarding them, and not simply a division within the USAF, the Air Force Space Command, established by Ronald Reagan in 1982.

Read more at: Diplomat

Donald Trump is Wrong: Space Shouldn’t be a ‘War-fighting Domain’

President Donald Trump’s order to create a “Space Force” as the sixth branch of the US military is an escalation in the rhetoric of a space arms race. “We are going to have the Air Force and we are going to have the Space Force, separate but equal,” he said at a meeting of the National Space Council.

This follows earlier comments he made in March that “space is a war-fighting domain, just like the land, air and sea”. These are highly worrying sentiments coming from (arguably) the most powerful person on Earth. It is true that space is strategic — but in different ways depending on one’s perspective.

Read more at: ABC

Space Policy Directive 3 Brings Space Traffic Coordination to Commerce

Today, U.S Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross praised President Donald J. Trump’s signing of Space Policy Directive 3 (SPD-3), America’s first National Space Traffic Management Policy. The policy acknowledges the rapidly increasing volume and diversity of commercial space activity and announces that the Department of Commerce should be the new civil agency interface for space traffic management (STM) and space situational awareness (SSA).

“I commend President Trump and the National Space Council for reaching yet another important milestone as we work to ensure U.S. commercial leadership in space,” said Secretary Ross. “I look forward to working closely with DoD and other departments and agencies as we meet the challenge of increased commercial and civil space traffic.”

Read more at: Commerce

Hyten, Bridenstine: No Time to Waste Getting Civil SSA Agency

Gen. John Hyten and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told two congressional committees today that this is not the time to get caught up in parochial issues over which non-DOD agency should take charge of sharing Space Situational Awareness (SSA) data with non-military users to avoid collisions in space. The White House has decided it should be the Department of Commerce, but others favor the Department of Transportation (DOT). At today’s hearing, Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA) argued that Congress needs to make the decision, not the White House, and has yet to do its job.

At a joint hearing before subcommittees of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) and House Science, Space, and Technology (SS&T) Committee, Hyten said that as Commander of U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM), “bluntly, it doesn’t matter to me” which agency gets the job. Either Commerce or DOT are good candidates. “It’s a political decision.”

Read more at: Space policy online

NASA Administrator Statement on Space Policy Directive-3

The following is a statement from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on Monday’s signing of Space Policy Directive-3 by President Donald Trump:

“NASA strongly supports the White House’s continued bold direction in forging a sustainable and focused space policy that strengthens American leadership. It was my honor today to represent the agency at the National Space Council, where the President announced Space Policy Directive-3 – which will guide critical and much-needed progress for space traffic management.

Read more at: NASA

With Three Words, President Trump Fortifies a Flawed Perception About NASA

Fresh off an appearance at a National Space Council meeting Monday, space was evidently on his mind when President Trump spoke at a campaign rally in Duluth, Minnesota, on Wednesday night. “Our beautiful ancestors won two world wars, defeated fascism and communism, and put a man on the face of the Moon,” he told his adulatory crowd. “And I think you saw the other day, we’re reopening NASA. We’re going to be going to space.”

Read more at: Arstechnica

NASA to Study Converting Centers into FFRDCs

The White House has directed NASA to study the possibility of converting one of more of its field centers into federal labs, revisiting a proposal made nearly 15 years ago.

The proposal is one of more than 30 included in a report by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released June 21 that offers a package of reforms and reorganizations of the federal government, ranging from merging the Departments of Education and Labor to consolidating management of graduate research fellowships.

The one proposal related to NASA calls for a study to examine the utility of converting some of the agency’s field centers into what are known as federally funded research and development centers, or FFRDCs.

Read more at: Spacenews

US Air Force Announces Rocket Deal with SpaceX for Military Satellite

U.S. Air Force Space Command will send a new military satellite into space in 2020 with the help of SpaceX.

The AFSC’s Space and Missile Systems Center announced Friday a $130 million contract with the rocket design and manufacturing company.

The relatively low-cost price tag secured the deal for SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket, beating out main rival United Launch Alliance (composed of Boeing and Lockheed Martin) by tens of millions of dollars and earning praise from the Air Force.

Read more at: Defense news

The U.S. Military has been in Space from the Beginning

The words “Space Force” conjure up images of plastoid-alloy-clad soldiers firing ray guns at aliens, but military activities in space aren’t just science fiction. The U.S. military has been involved with space since the beginning, just, perhaps, not under that name.

That might change if President Donald Trump has his way. Monday, during a meeting of the National Space Council at the White House, Trump directed the Pentagon to create a Space Force, a sixth branch of the United States military. “My administration is reclaiming America’s heritage as the world’s greatest space-faring nation. The essence of the American character is to explore new horizons and to tame new frontiers. But our destiny, beyond the Earth, is not only a matter of national identity, but a matter of national security,” he announced. “[I]t is not enough to merely have an American presence in space. We must have American dominance in space.”

Read more at: Smithsonian

Buzz Aldrin Sues his Children

Buzz Aldrin has sued one of his sons, his daughter and the secretary of his foundation alleging misappropriations of funds and slander.

The lawsuit — filed on June 7 in Brevard County, Florida — alleges that Andrew Aldrin improperly transferred $475,000 from Buzz’s account at Morgan Stanley into his own bank account in 2017 and 2018 without the knowledge of the Apollo 11 astronaut.

The suit also alleges that Andrew Aldrin and Christina Korp, who is secretary of the Buzz Aldrin Space Foundation, have each “made monthly business and personal charges of up to $60,000 under the guise of trustee, power of attorney, and/or employee, and without the Plaintiff’s consent and/or knowledge or against Plaintiff’s expressed wishes authorized payment of such bills through Plaintiff’s personal checking account/funds.”

Read more at: Parabolic arc

The Soviet Laser Space Pistol, Revealed

Move over, Star Wars. Around the same time that Han Solo was declaring the superiority of a blaster by your side, Russian engineers were working on a real laser pistol for cosmonauts to carry, another piece of the secret Soviet arsenal of space weapons.

According to multiple Russian sources, the laser-powered handgun for cosmonauts originated at the Peter the Great RVSN academy, which trains engineers for the nation’s strategic missile forces. The school’s museum carries a copy of the gun, and at least one other surviving artifact was exhibited at the Innovations and Inventions Expo in Moscow in 2011.

Read more at: Popular Mechanics

“Safe Passage to Mars” Design Challenge

“Safe Passage to Mars” is a design challenge for undergraduate students. Enabling safe space exploration of Moon, Mars and beyond requires the application of the concepts of Engineering Psychology to design and build hardware (tools, devices, or equipment) which can mitigate critical human performance issues associated with long-duration spaceflight.

Read more at: ISSF