Want your own microsatellite constellation? The prospect just became much more realistic.
The administration genuinely appears to be motivated to accomplish real human space exploration goals within its term of office. It remains unclear, however, whether a sufficient budget will actually be allotted to enable execution of its ambitious policy, either in whole or in part. Federal budgets are challenging—and will be for the foreseeable future--but there is an extremely compelling reason why the administration should go “all in” on this plan and propose a budget that will enable the United States to aggressively move forward.
The basic outline of this mission was presented in mid-December at American Geophysical Union conference in New Orleans. JPL’s Anthony Freeman called the plan “nebulous,” noting that the mission doesn’t even have a name yet. The goal is to launch the as-yet theoretical probe in 2069, the one-hundred year anniversary of the moon landing. The design of the craft, launch vehicle, and propulsion system all remain unknowns.
President Trump in a White House ceremony on Monday signed a new directive aimed at sending U.S. astronauts back to the moon -- one that, while short on details, the administration insisted will restore the U.S. to its role as a leader in space exploration and help spur job growth.
Before Cassini or Galileo, there were the Voyager probes. Launched in August and September of 1977, both Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 continue to communicate with Earth via the Deep Space Network. Voyager 1 is farther from Earth than Voyager 2, due to differences in their missions and trajectories, at an estimated 141 AU from Earth (1 AU is the distance between Earth and the sun). On Friday, NASA engineers were able to successfully fire Voyager 1’s backup thrusters -- for the first time in 37 years.
Today, the most innovative research into space travel has shifted to the private sector, especially in the U.S. SpaceX's commercial rockets have not only cut the cost of launching into Earth orbit. They're precursors to bigger rockets the company hopes will send humans to Mars before the end of the 2020s, long before China's state-funded program achieves the same.
China is building the world's fastest wind tunnel to simulate hypersonic flight at speeds of up to 12 kilometres per second. A hypersonic vehicle flying at this speed from China could reach the west coast of the United States in less than 14 minutes.
Air Force Lt. Gen. Steve Kwast believes a "Kitty Hawk" moment will begin a new era in space. But while the U.S. still leads every other country in space, Kwast cautions that the edge is whittling away. "In my best military judgment, China is on a 10-year journey to operationalize space. We're on a 50-year journey," Kwast told CNBC.
The first space race pitted nations against each other, as the U.S. and Soviet Union played a galactic game of one-upmanship. The playing field for the 21st century edition looks similar, but has decidedly different competitors, with billionaires like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos battling to create innovative and cost-efficient ways to access the stars.
On Friday January 13, 2017, as ASTRA's Futurist, I traveled to NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. to join Shades of Blue Founder and CEO, Captain Willie Daniels, and a Shades of Blue Chapter Board Member from DCMD, Mr. Marvin Richardson, to honor the STEM Education Legacy of the 12th NASA Administrator and former Astronaut (ret), Major-General Charles F. Bolden, with A Shades of Blue Community Outreach Award and a Shades of Blue Astronaut Reunion Commemorative Patch. It was a wonderful gathering of leaders who each possesses a deep commitment to cultivating America’s Innovation Capacity on Earth and in Space.