NASA released the draft solicitation for the final phase of its Commercial Crew Program, which is funding commercial development of systems to get astronauts to and from the International Space Station.
In the third round of the program, Boeing Space Exploration Systems, Sierra Nevada/Space Systems, and Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) received funding. All three companies have developed vehicles that could take seven people into space. Continue reading
It’s been a year since Curiosity touched down on Mars and began sending information and images back to Earth. The safe landing and subsequent surveying were the results of years of study and development dedicated to a single goal. While Curiosity continues to chug away on the surface of Mars, NASA has plenty of other irons in the fire, and research continues for future exploration missions to other celestial bodies.
The next major mission may well involve a trip to Titan, the largest moon of Saturn. SETI, funded by NASA, is developing an aquatic robot to land on the moon, and explore Titan’s liquid methane seas. The Planetary Lake Lander (PLL) is currently in the prototype phase and busy at work mapping Laguna Negra in the Chilean Andes. Continue reading
The Orion space capsule has been delivered to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for a 2014 test flight. The capsule, designed and built by Lockheed-Martin, will eventually take astronauts to the moon, asteroids, and even Mars. For the test flight, the capsule will be launched aboard an unmanned Delta 4 Heavy rocket. Continue reading
I’m old enough to remember the sound of a dial-up modem whistling away as it connected to the internet. Videos seemed to take forever to load and streaming services were a long way away. It was the adoption of fiber optics that gave the internet a serious boost in speed, making nearly instantaneous communications over long distances possible. Now, NASA is looking to use similar technology to speed up communications with its satellites in space.
The Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) has passed a set of extensive tests and been installed on the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE), which will soon be orbiting the moon to gather information about, “the lunar atmosphere, conditions near the surface and environmental influences on lunar dust.” Continue reading