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Today — May 9th 2021SPACE FLIGHTS

Video of the Day: Elon Musk's Best Skit on SNL Last Night!

Dogecoin investors apparently wished that Elon Musk and the crypto's canine mascot appeared together on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE yesterday, like they do in this meme aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule!

"So there are still heroes in this world."

As many of you are aware, SpaceX founder Elon Musk made his debut as host on Saturday Night Live yesterday. Overall, I think he did a commendable job (he's a billionaire rocket scientist, not a professionally-trained thespian, after all)...though I'm sure investors of the popular cryptocurrency Dogecoin wished that the adorable Shiba Inu who's the mascot of this crypto appeared with Elon on screen last night! But this blog entry is about the best sketch from yesterday's episode—which had Musk portraying himself in a SpaceX-inspired skit about a colony on Mars. Much props to Pete Davidson and SNL co-host Miley Cyrus for adding to the hilarity that is The Astronaut!

Yesterday — May 8th 2021SPACE FLIGHTS

China Rocket Stage: Live View of Reentry

The folks at CelesTrak and Digital Arsenal are providing a live view of the evolving decay of China’s Long March-5B rocket body that launched the country’s Tianhe core space station module. Using the latest data from the 18th Space Control Squadron (18 SPCS) of the U.S. Space Force, the projection shows the position of the […]

China Rocket Stage: Live View of Reentry

The folks at CelesTrak and Digital Arsenal are providing a live view of the evolving decay of China’s Long March-5B rocket body that launched the country’s Tianhe core space station module. Using the latest data from the 18th Space Control Squadron (18 SPCS) of the U.S. Space Force, the projection shows the position of the […]

China’s Rocket Body: Trajectory Impact Prediction

Debris from a Chinese carrier rocket in the coming days is very unlikely to cause damage, said Wang Wenbin, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, according to a China Daily report. Regarding the atmospheric reentry of the core stage of the country’s Long March5B heavy-lift booster, Wang said it is highly unlikely that the debris will cause […]

China’s Rocket Body: Trajectory Impact Prediction

Debris from a Chinese carrier rocket in the coming days is very unlikely to cause damage, said Wang Wenbin, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, according to a China Daily report. Regarding the atmospheric reentry of the core stage of the country’s Long March5B heavy-lift booster, Wang said it is highly unlikely that the debris will cause […]
Before yesterdaySPACE FLIGHTS

Life on Mars? The Case for Martian Fungi

Life on Mars? According to an international team of researchers there is, in the form of Martian fungi. Their case makes use of imagery from the NASA Curiosity and Opportunity rovers, as well as photos taken from Mars orbit by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE), a super-powerful camera onboard the NASA Mars Reconnaissance […]

Life on Mars? The Case for Martian Fungi

Life on Mars? According to an international team of researchers there is, in the form of Martian fungi. Their case makes use of imagery from the NASA Curiosity and Opportunity rovers, as well as photos taken from Mars orbit by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE), a super-powerful camera onboard the NASA Mars Reconnaissance […]

Fall of China Booster: Down-to-Earth Factoids

China’s incoming Long March 5 booster core stage is generating lots of speculation – particularly the when, what, and where leftovers might reach the Earth’s surface. Here are a few down-to-earth factoids provided to Inside Outer Space from T.S. Kelso of CelesTrak, an analytical group that keeps an observant eye on Earth-orbiting objects: The CZ-5B […]

Fall of China Booster: Down-to-Earth Factoids

China’s incoming Long March 5 booster core stage is generating lots of speculation – particularly the when, what, and where leftovers might reach the Earth’s surface. Here are a few down-to-earth factoids provided to Inside Outer Space from T.S. Kelso of CelesTrak, an analytical group that keeps an observant eye on Earth-orbiting objects: The CZ-5B […]

Blue Origin Is Set to Launch Its First Astronaut Crew on Apollo 11's Landing Anniversary...

A video screenshot of a mannequin aboard Blue Origin's New Shepard capsule during flight NS-15...on April 14, 2021.
Blue Origin

Bid For the Very First Seat on New Shepard (News Release - May 5)

On July 20th, New Shepard will fly its first astronaut crew to space. We are offering one seat on this first flight to the winning bidder of Blue Origin’s online auction. Starting today, anyone can place an opening bid by going to BlueOrigin.com.

Here are the three phases of the auction:

1. May 5-19: Sealed online bidding – you can bid any amount you want on the auction website (no bids are visible)

2. May 19: Unsealed online bidding – bidding becomes visible and participants must exceed the highest bid to continue in the auction

3. June 12: Live auction – the bidding concludes with a live online auction

The winning bid amount will be donated to Blue Origin’s foundation, Club for the Future, to inspire future generations to pursue careers in STEM and help invent the future of life in space.

On this day 60 years ago, Alan Shepard made history by becoming the first American to fly to space. In the decades since, fewer than 600 astronauts have been to space above the Kármán Line to see the borderless Earth and the thin limb of our atmosphere. They all say this experience changes them.

We named our launch vehicle after Alan Shepard to honor his historic flight. New Shepard has flown 15 successful consecutive missions to space and back above the Kármán Line through a meticulous and incremental flight program to test its multiple redundant safety systems. Now, it’s time for astronauts to climb onboard.

This seat will change how you see the world.

- Gradatim Ferociter

Source: Blue Origin

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Blue Origin's Audrey Powers simulates astronaut ingress aboard the New Shepard capsule for flight NS-15...on April 14, 2021.
Blue Origin

Curiosity Mars Rover: On the Road Again!

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover at Gale Crater is now performing Sol 3110 duties. Curiosity recently drove roughly 145 feet (44 meters) on sol 3109, “so we’ve left our scenic view at ‘Bardou’ behind in the rear-view mirror… er… rear Hazcam… er…. actuaaaallllly, to be perfectly precise, front Hazcam since we drove backwards,” reports Abigail Fraeman, […]

Curiosity Mars Rover: On the Road Again!

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover at Gale Crater is now performing Sol 3110 duties. Curiosity recently drove roughly 145 feet (44 meters) on sol 3109, “so we’ve left our scenic view at ‘Bardou’ behind in the rear-view mirror… er… rear Hazcam… er…. actuaaaallllly, to be perfectly precise, front Hazcam since we drove backwards,” reports Abigail Fraeman, […]

Exoplanet Geology: A Clue to Habitability?

May 6th 2021 at 05:41

Because we’ve just looked at how a carbon cycle like Earth’s may play out to allow habitability on other worlds, today’s paper seems a natural segue. It involves geology and planet formation, though here we’re less concerned with plate tectonics and feedback mechanisms than the composition of a planet’s mantle. At the University of British Columbia – Okanagan, Brendan Dyck argues that the presence of iron is more important than a planet’s location in the habitable zone in predicting habitability.

We learn that planetary mantles become increasingly iron-rich with proximity to the snow-line. In the Solar System, Mercury, Earth and Mars show silicate-mantle iron content that increases with distance from the Sun. Each planet had different proportions of iron entering its core during the planet formation period. The differences between them are the result of how much of their iron is contained in the mantle versus the core, for each should have the same proportion of iron as the star they orbit.

Core mass fraction (CMF) is a key player in this paper, defined as the extent of planetary core formation as a function of total planet mass. We start with similar precursor materials, but variations in the core mass fraction point to the differences in the silicate mantle and the surface crusts that should result on each rocky world. CMF itself “reflects the oxidation gradient present in the proto-planetary disc and the increasing contribution of oxidized, outer solar system material to planetary feedstocks.” We can use CMF as a marker for how a given planet will evolve.

Can we expect a similar growth in iron content in the mantles of planets around other stars? Evidently so. From the paper:

Oxidation gradients have been observed around other main sequence stars… and similar gradients in mantle iron contents are thus expected in other planetary systems possessing rocky differentiated planets… Consequently, even if each rocky body in a multi-planetary system forms from similar precursor material, variations in their core mass fraction will generate silicate mantles and derivative surface crusts that exhibit distinct compositional and petrophysical differences. Hence, variations in CMF may have a disproportionate role in determining a planet’s geological evolution and its future habitability.

Image: Brendan Dyck (University of British Columbia – Okanagan) is using his geology expertise about planet formation to help identify other planets that might support life. Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center.

To explore how core formation influences both the thickness and composition of a planet’s crust, Dyck and team developed computer models simulating mantle and crust production in planets through a range of core mass fractions. As we saw on Tuesday, Earth’s CMF is 0.32, while Mars’ is 0.24. Dyck’s models investigate core mass fractions between 0.34 and 0.16.

So here we have some interesting observables to juggle. The modeling shows that a larger core points to thinner crusts; smaller cores produce thicker crusts that are more iron-rich, along the model of Mars. And now we circle back to plate tectonics, which is dependent upon the thickness of the planetary crust, remembering that plate tectonics is thought to be critical for a carbon cycle that can support life. The conclusion is apparent: We may well find numerous planets located within the habitable zone whose early formation history makes them unable to support water on the surface.

Adds Dyck:

“Our findings show that if we know the amount of iron present in a planet’s mantle, we can predict how thick its crust will be and, in turn, whether liquid water and an atmosphere may be present. It’s a more precise way of identifying potential new Earth-like worlds than relying on their position in the habitable zone alone.”

These conclusions again point to the critical nature of chemical composition in stellar systems, which is a key area of research made feasible by new instruments like the James Webb Space Telescope. Assuming a (fingers crossed) safe launch and deployment, JWST should be able to measure the amount of iron present in exoplanetary systems, which will offer clues as to whether life is possible there.

The paper is Dyck et al., “The effect of core formation on surface composition and planetary habitability,” in process at Astrophysical Journal Letters (preprint).

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SpaceX Update: Starship SN15 Nails Its Landing on a Historic Day...

Launching aboard a Mercury-Redstone 3 rocket carrying his Freedom 7 capsule, NASA astronaut Alan Shepard became the first American to fly into space...on May 5, 1961.
NASA

Exactly 60 years after NASA astronaut Alan Shepard became the first American to fly into space thanks to his Mercury-Redstone 3 rocket and Freedom 7 capsule, SpaceX made history of its own when it successfully managed to land its Starship Serial No. 15 (SN15) rocket at the company's launch facility in Starbase, Texas...following a flawless 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) hop above the coastline. Unlike the flight of SN10 two months earlier, however, SN15 managed to stay intact long after touchdown—with the vehicle successfully purging its remaining cryogenic fuel and being safed post-landing over the next few hours.

After a successful flight to an altitude of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles), Starship SN15 triumphantly sits on its landing pad at SpaceX's launch facility in Starbase, Texas...on May 5, 2021.
SpaceX

With SN15's flawless test flight now in the history books, it remains to be seen if it will fly again, or if it will take its spot near Starhopper at Starbase as currently the only Starship prototypes to survive their aerial demonstrations. Up next is SN16...and if the flight of this vehicle is successful, then that will only prove that NASA made the right choice in selecting Starship as the Human Landing System (HLS) which will take Artemis astronauts to the Moon's surface as soon as 2024 (even though the HLS contract has been put on hold thanks to protests recently filed by fellow HLS contenders Blue Origin and Dynetics against NASA). Once gain, well-done, SN15!

Live feed of Starship SN15 flight test → https://t.co/Hs5C53qBxb https://t.co/chZjdVAute

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 5, 2021

Starship landing nominal!

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 5, 2021

SpaceX takes a massive leap forward in Starship's development, on a historic anniversary in US spaceflight.

Watch the highlights of today's SN15 flight test in South Texas:https://t.co/QX9P6d14mt #SpaceX #Starship #SN15 pic.twitter.com/vXxKxDS8cb

— Michael Sheetz (@thesheetztweetz) May 5, 2021

HISTORY!!!!!!! On their 19th anniversary of being a company, @SpaceX proved their Starship vehicle’s wacky landing maneuver works!!! They NAILED THE LANDING!!! That was incredible!!! Congrats @elonmusk and the rest of the team!!!! That was unreal!!! pic.twitter.com/LYAE2Jr6KF

— Everyday Astronaut (@Erdayastronaut) May 5, 2021

Raptor Relight - three engines. Flip complete. Landing burn, looks like two engines. SUCCESS!

Now for post landing safing. pic.twitter.com/Q0TzAxx6Ay

— Chris B - NSF (@NASASpaceflight) May 5, 2021

Congratulations @SpaceX on the success of Starship SN15 pic.twitter.com/Jv98NGR5Yr

— Tony Bela - Infographic news (@InfographicTony) May 5, 2021

Seat Available: Blue Origin’s Online Auction

On July 20th, Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital vehicle will fly its first astronaut crew to space. That announcement from the group backed by entrepreneur Jeff Bezos also adds: “We are offering one seat on this first flight to the winning bidder of Blue Origin’s online auction. Starting today, anyone can place an opening bid […]

Seat Available: Blue Origin’s Online Auction

On July 20th, Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital vehicle will fly its first astronaut crew to space. That announcement from the group backed by entrepreneur Jeff Bezos also adds: “We are offering one seat on this first flight to the winning bidder of Blue Origin’s online auction. Starting today, anyone can place an opening bid […]

Space travel grows 20 years after 1st space tourist

May 5th 2021 at 11:36

The post Space travel grows 20 years after 1st space tourist appeared first on Space Adventures.

60 years since 1st American in space: Tourists lining up

May 5th 2021 at 11:32

“By opening up his checkbook, he (Dennis Tito) kicked off an industry 20 yrs ago,” Space Adventures co-founder Eric Anderson tweeted last week. “Space is opening up more than it ever has, and for all.”

Read More

The post 60 years since 1st American in space: Tourists lining up appeared first on Space Adventures.

First space tourist: ‘It was the greatest moment of my life’

May 5th 2021 at 11:24
On April 30, 2001, Dennis Tito arrived at the International Space Station. “I was euphoric. I mean, it was the greatest moment of my life, to achieve a life objective, and I knew then that nothing could ever beat this.”

The post First space tourist: ‘It was the greatest moment of my life’ appeared first on Space Adventures.

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