Why do we need telescopes circling the orbit?

When ESO promised in 2010 to build the E-ELT (European Extremely Large Telescope), the world’s largest telescop ever, on the Cerro Armazones mountain in Chile, everybody thought the construction would soon begin. Now we hear see stories that Chile is considering building their own telescope.

The country has the best conditions probably anywhere on earth to observe the universe due to its consistently clear night skies. It would have been the perfect spot for the telescope which has 6 m diameter and a 39-meter E-ELT mirror. It was planned as a complement to the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope with regular operation planned for early next decade.

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ESA´s Experimental Vehicle succesfully trained to return from space

While we are busy preparing for Space Elevator research, rocket science is not asleep: the European Space Agency launched their Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) from the spaceport Kourou in French Guiana.

The flight is part of the search for new means to deliver astronauts and cargo to orbit and make reusable space transport vehicles happen.

The vehicle’s entry speed was 7.5 km/s and  it separated from the Vega rocket at an altitude of 340 km and continued up to 412 km, after which it descended and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean just west of the Galapagos islands – returning conditions were the same as if IXV had come down from low Earth orbit.

Click the video below to see a time lapse of the launch preparations.

 

 

Why we need to design a Planetary Defense Policy

“If the dinosaurs had a space program, they would still be here.”

Continuing the asteroid theme from yesterday, this unattributed quote illustrates with a good dose of bluntness why asteroid detection, deflection, and mining is so critical to the survival of humanity. Many objects have struck earth in the past and it will continue until we are able to build what you could call the earth’s “force shield”. For now this job will have to be done by rockets but eventually might be achieved by more permanently installed machinery.

In his wonderfully succinct paper “A Planetary Defense Policy”, Al Globus calls on every spacefaring nation to dedicate 1% of their space budgets to go towards this important cause. Read the full text to learn more about the reasons and ways of going about it.

PlanetaryDefensePolicy2014

You can also check out his wonderful page space.alglobus.net

Solve for X: Peter Diamandis and Eric Anderson on space exploration

“The Earth is the cradle of humanity, but humankind cannot stay in the cradle forever.”

This is a quote by Konstantin E. Tsiolkovsky and also the opening of Peter Diamandis’ talk. He goes on to state that in fact we “have a moral obligation to become a multiplanetary species”, that “driving continued exploration is critical” and that we need to “expand our resource base”.

This is really what’s at stake when we are talking about taking the next step not only in technological progress but in the evolution of our species. By finally jumping off the planet and establishing new footholds in our solar system we not only become more resilient to intergalactic Black Swans – we also reopen a frontier for humans to explore, inspiring people to make this collective adventure their purpose and mission in life.

If you want to understand why solving the problem of low-cost access to space is so critical, watch the video and see how Planetary Resources is trying to solve it.

How to Maximise Future Freedom of Action

Alex Wissner-Gross suggest:

“Pretend that you’re an alien race that doesn’t know anything about Earth biology or Earth neuroscience or Earth intelligence, but you have amazing telescopes and you’re able to watch the Earth, and you have amazingly long lives, so you’re able to watch the Earth over millions, even billions of years. And you observe a really strange effect.

You observe that, over the course of the millennia, Earth is continually bombarded with asteroids up until a point, and that at some point, corresponding roughly to our year, 2000 AD, asteroids that are on a collision course with the Earth that otherwise would have collided mysteriously get deflected or they detonate before they can hit the Earth. Now of course, as earthlings, we know the reason would be that we’re trying to save ourselves. We’re trying to prevent an impact.”

Wait, maybe a company such as Planetary Resources or Deep Space Industries will be able to “eat” the asteroids by transforming them into oxygen, hydrogen, metals, or carbon nanotubes?

Beautiful Space Elevator Film Stills

The Space Elevator is quiet a photogenic theme and not too difficult to imagine in our modern futuristic context. Take a look at these beautiful shots from “A Certain Magical Index” anime. You can even make them inspirational wallpapers for your desktop.

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Space Elevator – General Cutting-Edge Review

Definition

A space elevator is a system for lifting payloads, and eventually people, from the Earth’s surface into space.

Abstract

Kohlenstoffnanoroehre_AnimationYuri Artsutanov first proposed the idea in 1960, and up until 15-20 years ago it was purely in the realm of science fiction. But Sumio Iijima’s discovery of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) in 1990 and Bradley Edward’s engineering research in 2001 are clearing the roadmap to a space elevator’s construction.[1]

The value and benefit of developing a space elevator infrastructure is even greater than earlier estimates, as it will change our approach to operations in space. Low cost, safe, reliable and flexible delivery of payloads to Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) and beyond could create an “off-planet” environment filled with opportunities ranging from commercial space systems to exploration of the solar system.[3] Still, what stands between us and a space elevator is a large improvement in tether technology – a macroscopic thread that takes full advantage of the incredible strength of CNTs.[1]

Projecting current research in carbon nanotubes and similar technologies, the IAA estimates that a pilot project could plausibly deliver packages to an altitude of 1000 kilometers (621 miles) as soon as 2025.[5] Beyond the tether, other challenges are relatively straight forward, and most certainly easier than the challenges faced by the architects of the Space Shuttle or space station.[1] Read more

A Brief History of Space Exploration

Will the space elevator be the Panama canal of the 21st century? Which economic system will we embrace in the next decades – cyber communism or libertarian anarchy? Will our solar system be a meritocratic system or bureaucratic in nature? Will our first space colony be on the Mars or on the Moon? Did you know that NASA’s budget in 2015 is bigger than originally requested?

These are the questions we ask ourselves about the future, but take a look back at how we started this grand human endeavor and how far we’ve come in so little time. Read more