from the urls-we-dig-up dept
The number of ways to get a person into space is pretty limited at the moment. Only Russia and China have operational launch systems that can escape the Earth’s gravity (with people as passengers). There are a bunch more spaceships in development, though, so if you really want to get into space without a Soyuz or Shenzhou, you’ll have to be patient. There have been a few recent accidents, but it looks like engineers have figured out some of the problems.
- Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo crash was evidently caused by human error. Co-pilot Michael Alsbury prematurely unlocked the ship’s braking system which deployed and led to a catastrophic structural failure. This spacecraft was designed with minimal automated systems to reduce complexity, but Virgin Galactic has added a safety feature to prevent this from happening again — and the design philosophy that favors manual systems may need additional tweaking. [url]
- EmDrive is a theoretically impossible propulsion system that produces “anomalous thrust” which has been observed by at least two independent labs now. It’s still not clear what is going on, but if this technology actually works, it would completely change the timetables for space travel. An EmDrive-powered vehicle could reach Pluto in 18 months — instead of the years that it took New Horizons to do so. [url]
- If you want to just see the edge of space, there are more and more helium-balloon-like ways to get there. Stratospheric ballooning for space tourism might be a bit safer than a rocket to LEO, and maybe a little bit cheaper. (Who’s counting
penniesc-notes when we’re talking about traveling to the edge of space?) [url]
- Blue Origin has tested its New Shepard suborbital system successfully, but it didn’t recover its reusable booster stage. Ultimately, the New Shepard spaceship will hold 3 passengers and reach an altitude of 62 miles, but further unmanned testing will be done before passengers are allowed onboard. [url]
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