XCOR Lynx – Tech Digest's Space Plane of the Week

Gary Cutlack Space, Vehicles Leave a Comment

We literally cannot get enough of the burgeoning “space plane” scene.

The idea of getting onto a plane and ending up IN SPACE is simply too exciting to comprehend. There’s the small matter of the £100k it’ll cost to get on board, but we’ll surely have saved that much by 2010 – when the XCOR Lynx here is supposed to be ready to go into service.

The plane itself is designed to take off from a regular runway…

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Sir Arthur C. Clarke, renowned Sci-Fi author and futurist, dies aged 90

Al W Space 1 Comment

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Sir Arthur C. Clarke, author of almost 100 books including 2001: A Space Odyssey, passed away at his home in Colombo, Sri Lanka on Wednesday. He was 90.

“He had been taken to hospital in what we had hoped was one of the slings and arrows of being 90, but in this case it was his final visit,” Scott Chase, the secretary of the nonprofit Arthur C. Clarke Foundation, revealed in a statement on his official website

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EADS wants "production line" of space planes! Crack out the silver tracksuit – we will be in space soon

Gary Cutlack Science, Space, Vehicles Leave a Comment

EADS, or the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company, has said it can see a day when space travel becomes as routine as paying £17.99 to go via RyanAir to Amsterdam for a three-day stag-do.

“It will develop towards a classical aeronautical business model. Someone will build the planes; somebody will operate them; somebody will sell the tickets; somebody will provide the accommodation – like any tourism,” said Robert Laine, the chief technical officer of the rocket builder. A division of EADS called Astrium, which currently makes the Ariane rocket, reckons it’ll be knocking about 10 “space planes” a year to sell to operators.

Here’s an entirely unrelated photograph of the space shuttle Endeavour in which you can clearly see an astronaut’s iPod through the window:

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So hopefully, before we die, we’ll all get…

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British space exploration lives on! MoonLITE probe heading Moon-wards in 2012

Gary Cutlack Space Leave a Comment

moonlite-moon-probe-british.jpgOnly about 35 years after the last American stood on the Moon, Britain is going back – with a decidedly non-thrilling unmanned probe.

Designed by mainly British scientists – with complicated navigational bits provided by NASA – the £100m MoonLITE probe will hopefully be on its way by 2012…

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Look for 'weird' extraterrestrial life on Titan, say scientists

Gabrielle Taylor Space Leave a Comment

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Don’t just focus on Earth-style life forms when looking for extraterrestrial beings, says the U.S. National Research Council, in a statement of the breathtakingly (be it oxygen or methane) obvious. “Advances throughout the last decade in biology and biochemistry show that the basic requirements for life might not be as concrete as we thought,” said committee chair John Baross, a professor of oceanography at the University of Washington, Seattle. “The search so far has focused on Earth-like life because that’s all we know, but life that may have originated elsewhere could be unrecognizable compared with life here.” Goodness! One might think scientists were creatures of closed and narrow focus, in need of reminder that not everything that looks like a fork should go in your mouth! Developing (over the next thousand years). [GT]

Probe Titan for ‘weird’ life, U.S. scientists recommend

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Orbital Outfitters Spacedivers jump from orbit

Gabrielle Taylor Space 1 Comment

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As if jumping from a plane wasn’t heart-stopping enough, a plan is afoot, via a company called Orbital Outfitters, to create “life jackets” that could allow astronauts to enter Earth atmosphere without a vehicle and without being torn apart. The plan is for space diving to be used both for sport and as an emergency escape for astronauts in low Earth orbit. Orbital Outfitters plan to make an initial jump of 120,000 feet in 2009. [GT]

High Dive (viaSciFi Tech)

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Russian 'Bigelow' inflatable spaceship spreads its wings

Gabrielle Taylor Space Leave a Comment

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Only 4.4 metres long and 1.9 metres across at launch, the Russian Genesis II spaceship is now expanded to 11.5 cubic meters of usable volume. While that still sounds (and is) small, the ship is designed as a 1/3 scale proof-of-concept so that in the future we can look more to ships that start out small and grow with age. Part of how Genesis II was funded was with the “Fly your Stuff” campaign where the public could pay to send their belongings into space. It’ll also literally be running a space bingo game. Cutting edge! [GT]

Inflatable spacecraft blossoms in orbit

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Pretend Martians wanted: must be short, non-smoker

Gabrielle Taylor Space Leave a Comment

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Are you interested in experiencing isolation, confinement, close quarters, lack of privacy, high workload, repetitive food, and limited communication with the outside world? Are you highly motivated, a non-smoker, not in jail, shorter than 185cm, physically and psychologically fit, and a fluent speaker of English or Russian (preferably both)? The Institute of Biomedical Problems in Moscow seeks volunteers to pretend they are living on Mars for 520 days, on behalf of the European Space Agency. It includes 250 days to ‘reach Mars’, 30 days ‘on Mars’ and 240 days to ‘return to Earth’. Compensation is “in line with international standards for participation in clinical studies.” Serious inquiries only. [GT]

Volunteers wanted for trip to ‘Mars’

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