For behind the scenes pictures, stories and special contests, follow us on Facebook!
Subscribe:

Tag Archives: Space

Video: Cryogenic Rocket Engine Makes Icicles

By Evan Ackerman

NASA’s new Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne Common Extensible Cryogenic Engine (CECE) runs on hydrogen and oxygen. The H and O combine, igniting into 5,000 degree steam and releasing a whole heap of energy in the process. So how in the heck does the engine form icicles while it’s running? Well, the hydrogen and oxygen are stored as liquids, and to stay liquid, they have to be very, very cold: the hydrogen measures a rather nippy -423 degrees F. As the hydrogen circulates around the engine, it cools everything way, way down, and when the super hot steam exits the super cold engine, it condenses into water at the edges and then freezes into icicles.

The CECE is called “deep throttling,” which means that the thrust can be adjusted from 8% all the way up to 104% of its maximum rated output of 13,800 pounds of thrust. It’s designed to take people back to the moon, along with all of the crap they’re gonna need to make themselves at home there for a while.

Hit the link for a nice big pic.Continue Reading

Atlantis Launch In Infrared

shuttleir500

By Evan Ackerman

This isn’t some weird Photoshop filter, it’s a picture taken with a digital camera that’s been modified to capture in the infrared part of the spectrum. Cool, right? Try this Google Image search for more examples of infrared pics.

VIA [ Gawker ]

A Bedroom In The Most Expensive Gadget Ever

By Evan Ackerman

Obviously, this guy needs a Kindle. I just wonder what kind of internet they get up there; for about $130 billion, it had better be something decent. I also wonder what else he’s got on that laptop…

If you’d like to see the rest of the tour, catch parts 1, 2, 3, and 4 on NasaTV @ YouTube.

Also, if you haven’t seen a shuttle launch from the point of view of a camera mounted on the outside of one of the booster rockets, check it out after the jump.Continue Reading

Bat-ronaut Rides Into Space On Discovery’s External Tank

bat_shuttle

By Evan Ackerman

When space shuttle Discovery launched on Sunday, it was carrying one surprise passenger: a small, and probably quite confused, Mexican free-tailed bat. An inspection team noticed the bat sleeping about a third of the way up the external fuel tank prior to launch, but everybody assumed that the bat (affectionately named “Interim Problem Report 119V-0080″) would wake up and fly away as soon as Discovery’s engines lit. Instead, visual and infrared imagery confirmed that the little guy was still there, alive and holding on, up until after Discovery cleared the tower.

Here’s what the Kennedy Space Center had to say on the matter:

Although we remained hopeful he would wake up and fly away, the bat eventually became IPR 119V-0080 after the ICE team finished their walkdown. He did change the direction he was pointing from time to time throughout countdown but ultimately never flew away. IR imagery shows he was alive and not frozen like many would think. The surface of the ET foam is actually generally between 60-80 degrees F on a day like yesterday. SE&I performed a debris analysis on him and ultimately a LCC waiver to ICE-01 was written to accept the stowaway. Lift off imagery analysis confirmed that he held on until at least the vehicle cleared to tower before we lost sight of him.

And thus is the legend of the STS-119 Bat-ronaut.

Godspeed, little guy, godspeed.

VIA [ Space.com ]

Video Friday: SpaceX Rocket Test

By Evan Ackerman

Happy Black Friday, here’s some rocket porn:

This is the first full mission duration test of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 (9 for 9 engines) launch vehicle. All together, the engines produced 855,000 pounds of thrust, and burned over half a million pounds of liquid oxygen and kerosene. The 9 engine configuration is robust and reliable, and the vehicle can still complete its mission even if it loses an engine after liftoff.

Pretty impressive for a commercial company, and they’re offering to put your satellite into low earth orbit for a mere $36.75 million.

[ SpaceX Falcon 9 ]

Romain Jerome’s Moon Dust-DNA Collection

Romain Jerome Moon Dust-DNA Watch (Image courtesy theage.com.au)
By Andrew Liszewski

In its continued efforts to set itself apart from the hundreds of other watchmakers that feature the Swiss brand stamp, Romain Jerome has once again come up with a watch that’s less about the design, and more about what goes into its construction. While their Titanic DNA line used pieces of steel and coal from the famous shipwreck, their new Moon Dust-DNA collection is made of steel from the Apollo 11 rocket, fibers from a spacesuit worn aboard the International Space Station and dust from a moon rock that was collected during our first visit.

The company plans to make just 1,969 of the watches, to commemorate the year Buzz and Neil took their first historic steps on the moon, but for the rest of us, the watch is probably the closest we’ll ever get to being there. The watches start at just $15,000 which is surprisingly affordable given Romain Jerome’s past creations, but certain models will cost as much as $500,000, which seems more appropriate.

[ theage.com.au – Watchmaker uses spare parts from space ] VIA [ Born Rich ]

New USS Enterprise Gives Me A New Hope (I Hope)

By Evan Ackerman

Oh, Star Trek. What happened to you? You used to be so good. TOS was badass for what it was, TNG was excellent after the first few seasons, and eventually DS9 was pretty good. And then Voyager had a decent episode or two. And then there was that other one that nobody watched because we were all too busy watching better shows like Firefly and BSG. And the movies? Except for “nuclear wessles” and “KHAAAAAAN” they’re pretty mediocre too. So let’s just say I haven’t been especially excited for the latest Star Trek movie. I mean, Star Trek is about the future, right? Why would I be interested in seeing a Star Trek prequel?

Here’s why:

This is the USS Enterprise NCC 1701, as reimagined (or something) by JJ Abrams for the upcoming Star Trek movie. Seriously, I was expecting a total trainwreck, but she looks pretty good, doesn’t she? Call me nostalgic, but it might (might) be worth forking over the $14 or whatever to catch this in a theater on May 8th of next year.

[ EW ] VIA [ Gizmodo ]

Personal Missile Will Send You Into Sub-Orbit

By Evan Ackerman

The options at the moment for getting into orbit (or even sub-orbit) as a private citizen are somewhat limited. You can spend a week on the ISS (for $25 million), buy a seat on Virgin Galactic (for $200,000 pretty soon), or get there on a technicality in a MiG 31 (for about $27,500). Copenhagen Suborbitals is looking to break into this questionable market with their Hybrid Exo Atmospheric Transporter, which is a single person space capsule that sits on top of a ballistic missile.

This concept is about as awesomely old-school as it gets. Don’t believe me? They did it in Star Trek: First Contact. There’s no room for a seat; the passenger is stuffed into the nose of the missile in a standing position. This is done partly to save space and weight (the diameter of the launch vehicle can be reduced), and partly to mitigate g-forces (they pulled the same trick in the Apollo lunar modules): oriented vertically, the human spine and legs make great shock absorbers. You do get a plexiglass window above you to look out of, and I imagine the takeoff experience would be pretty spectacular. You also get a pressure suit, some modified SCUBA gear to keep you breathing, and an emergency parachute. And vomit bags. The restraint system won’t let you move at all, though, except for maybe slight sideways turns of the head. Obviously, this is not for the claustrophobic.

The booster underneath is going to be a custom made hybrid rocket, firing for 60 seconds with about 3 gravities of thrust, which is significantly less than many roller coasters, albeit for a longer period of time. Most healthy people should be fine, though. The booster has no guidance system at all; it’s got a guide rail on the launch tower and after that, nothing but static fins to keep it on course. After a one minute burn, the booster is jettisoned. The capsule continues upward to over 100 km of altitude, and then descends, using two sets of parachutes to make it safely back to the earth.

The cost for all this is unspecified, since the rocket is still in the development stage. It seems to be moving along nicely, though… After the jump, watch a test video of Copenhagen Suborbitals’ rocket engine.Continue Reading

Spacewatch: Jules Verne ATV Re-entry Breakup Video

By Evan Ackerman

What do you do with a used spaceship? Stuff it full of crap (both literally and figuratively, I imagine) and send it off to a fiery death in the upper atmosphere. The European Space Agency’s Jules Verne Automated Transfer Vehicle delivered six tons of cargo and an orbital boost to the International Space Station last March, and has been taking up space ever since. The ESA decided to cast it loose over the pacific ocean, where a NASA DC-8 observation plane was waiting to watch the show. Video after the jump.Continue Reading