Last month, on May 2, SpaceX conducted a test flight of their new Falcon 9 Reusable (F9R) spacecraft. Check out the video below to see it in action.
The “rocketcams” in the video feature a shot from the nose of the rocket followed by video footage from the ground. The test flight took place in McGregor, Texas under a FAA Experimental Permit.
*The coolest part is the landing in my opinion*
This was a successful 1000m test flight of the F9R, a developing spacecraft that will have the ability to carry astronauts to and from space.
The “steerable fins” included on this spacecraft are unique and allow the rocket to carefully maneuver in mid-air to facilitate a smoother landing. These types of steerable fins have been used on smaller spacecraft by SpaceX earlier this year, but they are now incorporating them on their more important and larger crafts, like the F9R.
The successful testing of the F9R means that SpaceX may soon be sending U.S. astronauts to the ISS (right now we’re contracting Russian shuttles to launch them into orbit). Rocket development and the growth of the space industry are truly in full steam.
Today (May 18, 2014) starting at 9am EDT NASA TV will air the departure of SpaceX’s famous Dragon capsule from the International Space Station (ISS). The Dragon delivered precious cargo to the ISS, and it will be returning to Earth with about 3,500 pounds of valuable cargo as well.
“Dragon is a free-flying spacecraft designed to deliver both cargo and people to orbiting destinations. Dragon made history in 2012 when it became the first commercial spacecraft in history to deliver cargo to the International Space Station and safely return cargo to Earth, a feat previously achieved only by governments. It is the only spacecraft currently flying that is capable of returning significant amounts of cargo to Earth. Currently Dragon carries cargo to space, but it was designed from the beginning to carry humans. Under an agreement with NASA, SpaceX is now developing the refinements that will enable Dragon to fly crew. Dragon’s first manned test flight is expected to take place in 2-3 years.”
Dragon is a sophisticated craft that has provided NASA with valuable cargo transportation up to this point. Dragon is not only a method of transportation but is also a laboratory that can do research on its own, independent from the ISS.
Below are some pictures of the Dragon capsule and Dragon launch:
Dragon’s current mission is strictly cargo transportation. But SpaceX is hopeful that in the future Dragon will be successful in developing capabilities to transport humans to and from space as well.
Dragon has been docked onto the ISS for about 30 days now. According to Space.com the…
“Undocking is scheduled to occur at about 9:25 a.m. EDT (1325 GMT), with spalshdown in the Pacific Ocean expected at about 3:05 p.m. EDT (1905 GMT). The NASA TV webcast begins at 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT). “
March 24th NASA released photos and information about a new futuristic suit design known as the “Z-2 Spacesuit”. The suit is one of the most mobile spacesuits ever created and is expected to be used in missions as soon as 2016 according to NASA.
The suit has a functional Buzz Lightyear like appeal and of course is equipped with a life support system. Unlike clothing the suit is not worn but rather entered into from a rear-entry hatch similar to how you’d enter a spacecraft.
Check Out the images of the Z-2 Spacesuit from Space.com.
Futuristic planes based on spaceships which could allow passengers to travel from London to Sydney in two and a half hours are being developed.”
Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactics space flight company says that a space tourism plane that it is currently working on could be modified and turned into a super jet. The “Concorde-like aircraft” would travel outside of the Earth’s atmosphere and enter into orbit, using the Earth’s gravitational forces to travel at incredible speeds.
The spacecraft/super jet would travel around 4,200 mph and cover the distance of 10,500 miles from London to Sydney in just 2.5 hours.
So far Virgin’s SS2 aircraft has only managed to exit the stratosphere, the second lowest part of Earth’s atmosphere, though the company still says it will launch its first flights next year. Its manned spacecraft has become the highest commercial winged vehicle to ever fly and used its shuttlecock-inspired ‘feather system’ to safely re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere.
Eventually Virgin Galactic would like to create “Space Cruise Ships”, these cruise ships would take people away from earth and outside the atmosphere. Virgin Galactic’s Stephen Attenborough said they could serve as orbital hotels, and even allow tourists to travel to the Moon and back.
The company has already collected around $80million (£50m) in deposits from approx. 640 wealthy individuals interested in being some of the first space tourists. However Sir Richard himself and his family are due to take the first trip. Branson has also launched a TV competition show aimed at rewarding one winner with a ticket on board one of the SS2 craft (I’d gladly accept that victory).
Check Out the below video to see the aircraft in action and a description about the upcoming reality TV competition show.
China landed an unmanned spacecraft called Chang’e-3 today (12/14/13) successfully on the Moon, according to Shanghai media. Making it the first “soft landing” on the moon since 1976, and allowing China to join the club as one of three countries to have ever landed missions on the moon (China, USA, Soviet Union). A “soft landing” is a controlled landing that does not damage the craft or the equipment it carries. Also according to NASA, although this mission is being entirely organized and controlled by the Chinese all data collected will be given to the international science community. Check Out the below video for full coverage of the mission.
The landmark mission is something that China is very proud of. Although very behind in the Space Industry, it is a step in the right direction in accomplishing their long term goal of building a working space station by 2020. The Apollo Missions brought back over 800 pounds of moon rock as well as numerous amounts of diverse data, thus many feel there is little scientific reason to send a mission to the moon at this time. But regardless, the Chinese people are very proud of their mission as they should be, it is still a great accomplishment that only three countries have ever achieved.
Check Out the below video for more information on the recent Chinese Landing.
Check Out the below video footage of Neil Armstrong’s first steps onto the Moon back in 1969.