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Re: The Science & Technology Thread

Postby Buc2 » Sat Aug 04, 2018 11:54 am

NASA assigns commercial crews to fly on Boeing, SpaceX spacecraft

But what will they wear?

Commercial Crew Astronauts Prepare for Launch — What Will They Wear?
By Chelsea Gohd, Space.com Staff Writer | August 4, 2018 07:52am ET

SpaceX and Boeing are working to launch commercial crewed vehicles into space — so what will the astronauts wear?

As part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program, SpaceX and Boeing will fly crewed test flights in 2019, according to new schedule changes. These flights will follow uncrewed test flights that are scheduled for late 2018. Today (Aug. 3), NASA announced the astronauts who will make up the first commercial crew for these missions.

It will be exciting to follow the journey of these astronauts, from their training to their launch to the International Space Station. But what will they wear on their epic journey into orbit? Boeing has designed bold, blue spacesuits, whereas SpaceX has taken a more futuristic approach to space-travel fashion — although currently short on details.

Keep in mind that Boeing and SpaceX's suits are designed for traveling in spacecraft to the space station; they are not created to be worn in the vacuum of space. For spacewalks, astronauts will continue to use the large, protective, recognizable white suits that are stored aboard the space station.

Story continues: https://www.space.com/41380-what-will-s ... -wear.html

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Former NASA astronaut Chris Ferguson tries on the "Boeing Blue" spacesuit.
Credit: Boeing


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SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk posted this photo to Twitter, revealing the full head-to-toe design of the company's spacesuit that astronauts will wear aboard the Crew Dragon.
Credit: SpaceX/Instagram
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Re: The Science & Technology Thread

Postby Buc2 » Mon Aug 06, 2018 3:39 pm

Tonight's 1:18am ET launch of a Falcon 9 rocket features the first reflight of a Block 5 booster.

SpaceX set to re-fly a Block 5 rocket for the first time tonight
Mission success would open the door to the third flight of a Falcon 9 rocket.
ERIC BERGER - 8/6/2018, 8:53 AM

On May 11, SpaceX launched the new, optimized-for-reuse Block 5 variant of its Falcon 9 rocket for the first time. Just before the flight, Ars asked company founder Elon Musk how long it would be before we saw the first reflight of a Block 5 booster.

"We are going to be very rigorous in taking this rocket apart and confirming our design assumptions to be confident that it is indeed able to be reused without taking it apart,” Musk said at the time. “Ironically, we need to take it apart to confirm it does not need to be taken apart.”
Apparently it did not take that long to tear the first stage of this rocket apart, because less than three months later, this booster is back on the launch pad for a geostationary mission set to launch late Monday night. SpaceX is targeting launch of the Merah Putih satellite to a Geostationary Transfer Orbit during a two-hour launch window that opens at 1:18am ET Tuesday (5:18 UTC). The launch will occur from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The first stage will attempt to make a landing on the Of Course I Still Love You drone ship after completing its primary mission. Weather conditions appear favorable.

Although company officials have not said much about the teardown process of the first Block 5 core, they appear to have found no showstoppers, given the quick turnaround. A successful launch this week of the 5.8-ton Merah Putih raises the possibility that SpaceX will be able to launch one of its Falcon 9 first stage rockets on three separate missions for the first time later this year.

It is worth recalling that SpaceX only flew a "used" booster for the first time in March 2017. On that occasion, the launch of the SES-10 satellite, it flew a Block 4 core of its rocket that had launched nearly 12 months earlier. Thus, a less-than-three-month turnaround of its first Block 5 rocket suggests that the modifications SpaceX made to optimize the reusability of the Falcon 9 rocket have had some success.
As always, SpaceX will broadcast the launch of its Falcon 9 rocket live. The webcast should begin about 15 minutes before the launch window opens.
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Re: The Science & Technology Thread

Postby Buc2 » Sun Aug 12, 2018 12:38 pm

NASA Launches Daring Solar Probe Mission to Kiss the Sun
By Mike Wall, Space.com Senior Writer | August 12, 2018 04:18am ET

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A historic and audacious mission to probe some of the sun's deepest secrets is underway.

NASA's Parker Solar Probe lifted off this morning (Aug. 12) at 3:31 a.m. EDT (0731 GMT) from a pad here at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, its powerful United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket carving an arc of orange flame into the predawn sky.

If all goes according to plan, the Parker Solar Probe will end up traveling faster than any craft ever has, and getting unprecedentedly close to the sun; indeed, it will fly through our star's outer atmosphere, known as the corona. And the measurements the probe makes there will reveal key insights about our star's inner workings that have eluded scientists for decades. [NASA's Parker Solar Probe Mission to the Sun in Pictures]

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NASA’s Parker Solar Probe lifts off from from Cape Canaveral, Florida on a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket on Aug. 12, 2018, at 3:31 a.m. EDT (0731 GMT).
Credit: Bill Ingalls/NASA


"It's going to be absolutely phenomenal," NASA Chief Scientist Jim Green told Space.com. "We've been wanting to do this for 60 years, ever since Eugene Parker got up and said, 'I believe the sun is outgassing.'"

That prediction was met with much skepticism back in the 1950s, but time proved Parker, a pioneering University of Chicago astrophysicist, right. We now know that outgassing as the solar wind, the stream of charged particles that flows constantly from the sun. And Parker, who turned 91 in June, became the first living person ever to have a NASA mission named after him.

Photos of Parker and a digital copy of his seminal 1958 solar-wind paper are flying on the newly launched spacecraft, aboard a memory card that also bears the names of more than 1.1 million people. These folks — who include "Star Trek" icon William Shatner — responded to a March 2018 NASA invitation to kiss the sun along with the Parker Solar Probe.

This morning's launch was initially supposed to occur on July 31, but several technical issues pushed the attempt back to yesterday (Aug. 11). And that try was scuttled after a Delta IV Heavy gaseous-helium pressure alarm went off less than 2 minutes before the scheduled liftoff.

https://twitter.com/NASA/status/1028550218201985026
NASA

@NASA
Nothing compares to watching a rocket launch live, says Dr. Eugene N. Parker who watched his first rocket launch this morning as his namesake spacecraft, #ParkerSolarProbe, launched to the Sun.
3:54 AM - Aug 12, 2018


Our mysterious star

The solar wind is very fast, zooming along at between 900,000 mph and 1.8 million mph (1.45 million and 2.9 million km/h) by the time it reaches Earth's orbit. But the particles start out pretty much motionless at the solar surface, said Parker Solar Probe mission scientist Adam Szabo, who's based at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

"Something happens in the corona where it steps on the accelerator and shoots out at supersonic speeds," Szabo told Space.com.

But scientists aren't sure what that "something" is. The same is broadly true for solar energetic particles (SEPs), even faster-moving flecks that are associated with solar flares and gigantic eruptions of plasma called coronal mass ejections. It's unclear exactly how SEPs — which can pose a threat to astronauts and wreak havoc with spacecraft software — attain such tremendously high energies, Szabo said.

And the corona itself is deeply mysterious. Temperatures there range between 1.8 million and 5.4 million degrees Fahrenheit (1 million to 3 million degrees Celsius) on average — far hotter than the solar surface, which is a pedestrian (by comparison) 10,000 degrees F (5,500 degrees C).

This doesn't make sense, at least not intuitively.

"You would expect that things should cool off" as distance from the nuclear-fusion action increases, Szabo said. "This is one of these big unknowns: What's going on there?"

The sun's incredibly powerful magnetic field and convective motion apparently work together to generate the energy driving these phenomena, said Lika Guhathakurta, the lead program scientist for new initiatives at NASA's Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley and former lead for the space agency's Living With a Star program.

"But how you bring that energy to the surface and propagate it is the challenge," Guhathakurta told Space.com. "And that's why we have to go there and measure it."

Kissing the sun

That's just what the Parker Solar Probe will do. Over the next seven years, the $1.5 billion mission will perform 24 close flybys of the sun, getting within just 3.83 million miles (6.16 million km) of the solar surface at its closest approach — far nearer than the previous record-holder, the German-American Helios 2 spacecraft, which got within 27 million miles (43 million km) in 1976.

During such tight passes — the first of which will occur in early November — the sun's powerful gravity will accelerate the Parker Solar Probe to top speeds of around 430,000 mph (690,000 km/h), NASA officials have said. That will obliterate the mark of 165,000 mph (265,000 km/h), which was set by NASA's Juno probe during its arrival at Jupiter in July 2016.

(The encounters will get closer and closer as time goes on; the Parker Solar Probe will gradually shrink its elliptical orbit from about 150 Earth days to 88 Earth days, using seven "gravity-assist" flybys of Venus. The record-breaking numbers cited above are for the final flybys.)

Conditions at and around closest approach will be extreme; the Parker Solar Probe will have to withstand about 500 times the solar radiation load we experience on Earth. And the spacecraft's sun-facing side will be heated to about 2,500 degrees F (1,370 degrees C), according to NASA officials. (Most of this heat will come from sunlight; the toasty plasma in the corona is spread so thinly that it won't play much of a role.)

"It's going to get hammered," Green said.

To deal with heat, the solar-powered probe is equipped with a 7.5-foot-wide (2.3 meters), 4.5-inch-thick (11.4 centimeters) shield made of advanced carbon-composite material, which will keep most of the spacecraft's scientific instruments at a comfortable 85 degrees F (29 degrees C).

These instruments will, among other things, measure the sun's electric and magnetic fields and waves; observe superenergetic particles in the solar atmosphere and beyond; count and characterize solar-wind particles; and photograph the corona and inner regions of the heliosphere (the giant bubble of solar plasma and magnetic fields that extends far beyond Pluto's orbit).

The observations made by this gear could help solve the coronal-heating and particle-acceleration puzzles, mission scientists have said. And it will give us a better idea of how stars tick in general.

"How can we possibly understand stellar systems if we don't understand the star next door?" Szabo said.

There should be considerable practical applications as well, he and others stressed. For example, mission data should yield significant insights into space weather, potentially allowing researchers to better predict and plan for the intense solar storms that can cause big disruptions here on Earth.

Such information could also help humanity push out into the solar system, by giving us the knowledge we need to leave our planet's protective magnetic field behind, Guhathakurta said.

"There's going to be no looking back after this mission," she said.
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