July 2, 2017

NASA Funding Project for Nuclear-Powered Travel to Mars (Source: Space.com)
As NASA makes plans to one day send humans to Mars, one of the key technical gaps the agency is working to fill is how to provide enough power on the Red Planet’s surface for fuel production, habitats and other equipment. One option: small nuclear fission reactors, which work by splitting uranium atoms to generate heat, which is then converted into electric power.

NASA’s technology development branch has been funding a project called Kilopower for three years, with the aim of demonstrating the system at the Nevada National Security Site near Las Vegas. Testing is due to start in September and end in January 2018. The last time NASA tested a fission reactor was during the 1960s’ Systems for Nuclear Auxiliary Power, or SNAP, program, which developed two types of nuclear power systems. Click here. (6/30)

Canada's Two New Astronaut Candidates (Source: CSA)
On June 17, 2016, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) launched the fourth astronaut recruitment campaign of Canada's history. Out of 3,772 applications from Canadians in every province and territory, as well as outside Canada, and after a one-year arduous selection process, just two candidates were selected to represent Canada's new generation of space explorers. The CSA is proud to welcome Joshua Kutryk and Jennifer Sidey to the Canadian astronaut corps! (7/1)

No Staff Members Left In Science Division Of White House OSTP (Source: TPM)
The last employees departed from the science division of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy last week, leaving the division completely unstaffed, according to a Friday report by CBS News. CBS News reported, citing unnamed sources, that the division was unstaffed as of Friday, but noted the White House may assign the policy subjects previously handled by the division to other staff within the office. Eleanor Celeste, formerly the office’s assistant director for biomedical and forensic sciences, tweeted a farewell on Friday. (7/1)

China's Largest Rocket Fails in Second Launch (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
China’s second Long March 5 rocket fell short of orbit Sunday after lifting off from a spaceport in the southern Chinese province of Hainan, clouding the country’s plans to send a robotic sample return mission to the moon later this year. The Long March 5, China’s most powerful launcher, took off at the Wenchang space center on Hainan Island.

Heading to the east just after sunset, the 187-foot-tall rocket climbed into a clear moonlit evening sky on 2.4 million pounds of thrust, releasing four strap-on boosters and its payload fairing on time. But something went wrong soon after that point, and China’s state-run media unexpectedly ended their live video coverage of the launch without explanation.

An update posted on the website of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp., the prime contractor for most of China’s space projects, said the launch was unsuccessful and investigators were looking into the cause of the failure. The two-stage heavy-lift launcher’s next mission was slated to dispatch the Chang’e 5 mission to collect soil and rock specimens from the lunar surface in November. (7/1)

SpaceX Launch with Intelsat Satellite Targeted for Sunday (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
SpaceX plans to send one of its workhorse Falcon 9 rockets into space from Florida this weekend. The mission, which has a 58-minute window scheduled to open at 7:36 p.m. Sunday, would send a satellite into orbit for the Luxembourg-based company Intelsat. The satellite will offer broadband, video and mobile communications to eastern North America, the Caribbean, South America, Europe and Africa.

If successful, it would mark the third launch for SpaceX during the last two weeks. The rocket will take off from historic Launch Complex 39A, which was home to the most-recent shuttle launch in 2011 and the launch that sent humans to the moon in 1969. This one will not attempt a landing of the rocket's first stage. (7/1)

No comments: