Have you ever dreamed of going to space? In the past, if you wanted to leave this planet you had to dedicate your life to becoming an astronaut. Even then, there is only a select few that ever get to see Earth in the rear view mirror.
What are the chances that a large asteroid will strike the Earth in the next 20 years? Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) are comets and asteroids that have been nudged into orbits that allow them to enter the Earth's neighborhood. Efforts are being mounted to discover and study these objects and to keep an eye upon their future trajectories.
As NASA studies possibilities for the next launcher to the stars, a team of engineers from Kennedy Space Center and several other field centers are looking for a system that turns a host of existing cutting-edge technologies into the next giant leap spaceward.
image: Magnetic levitation (MagLev) system evaluated at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (NASA)
An early proposal has emerged that calls for a wedge-shaped aircraft with scramjets to be launched horizontally on an electrified track or gas-powered sled. The aircraft would fly up to Mach 10, using the scramjets and wings to lift it to the upper reaches of the atmosphere where a small payload canister or capsule similar to a rocket's second stage would fire off the back of the aircraft and into orbit. The aircraft would come back and land on a runway by the launch site.
Roping cattle takes skill and finesse, but imagine trying to lasso a satellite in space. Now, imagine flinging the satellite up to a higher orbit to actually launch it!
That’s what a small business in Bothell, Wash., is planning to do. The researchers and engineers at Tethers Unlimited Inc. are not cowboys, but they are developing unique lassos. Their “lassos” are new systems that will be used to capture and launch spacecraft.
The tether is a long string or wire deployed in space from a spacecraft. These tethers can be used in different ways to move satellites or spacecraft in space.
The “lasso” concept is similar to a giant sling that would rotate as it orbits the Earth. The craft, ballast and tether increase orbital momentum and energy for boosting the payload to a higher orbit.
“It could swing down, pick up a spacecraft in low orbit and carry it up and toss it into a higher orbit,” said Rob Hoyt, Tethers Unlimited president.
Check out a list of quick and easy satellite and space shuttle sightings in cities all over the world.
You enter your location and you find out when and where the International Space Station and other orbiting satellites can be seen from your view.
In this free simulation game from NASA, you assume the exciting role of an astronaut working to further human expansion and research. Returning from a research expedition, you witness a meteorite impact that cripples the life support capability of the settlement. With precious minutes ticking away, you and your team must repair and replace equipment in order to restore the oxygen production to the settlement.
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