September 22, 2013

Carnival of Space 320

1. Chandra X-ray space telescope blog reports a team of astronomers has discovered enormous arms of hot gas in the Coma cluster of galaxies by using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and ESA's XMM-Newton. These features, which span at least half a million light years, provide insight into how the Coma cluster has grown through mergers of smaller groups and clusters of galaxies to become one of the largest structures in the Universe held together by gravity.

2. - Don't have $200,000 for a space flight? Here are 9 things you can do in space right now. Send a photo, take space training or flight on a zero G flight - there is more to space now than ever before.

3. Nextbigfuture Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus spacecraft is on its way to the International Space Station. After a flawless launch from the Wallops Island Flight Facility on the Virginia Coast on Tuesday, the spacecraft has performed two of the demonstrations NASA is requiring. Cygnus will continue to close in on the ISS, performing the final eight maneuvers on Sunday before being berthed at the station.

4. Nextbigfuture -Young Bae recently received a $500,000 NASA phase 2 NIAC grant for Propellant-less Spacecraft Formation-Flying and Maneuvering with Photonic Laser Thrusters. A four-phased evolutionary developmental pathway of the Photonic Railway towards interstellar manned roundtrip travel is proposed:

1) Development of PLTs for satellites and NEO manipulation, The first phase in the developmental pathway towards interstellar roundtrip manned flight is maturing PLT technologies and systematic scaling up of its power and operation distance capabilities. PLT is predicted to meet the needs of the next generation of space industry market by enabling a wide range of innovative space applications near the earth. In this phase, which is predicted to evolve over 5–30 year time frame, PLT would be capable of providing thrusts in the range of 1 mN–1 kN, which requires the operation power of 100 W–100 MW. The solar panel based space power currently can provide electrical powers up to 100 kW, therefore, the PLT capable of providing thrusts up to 1 N can be readily implemented in the near future. 2) Interlunar Photonic Railway, 3) Interplanetary Photonic Railway, and 4) Interstellar Photonic Railway.

5. Nextbigfuture - Google or the Google Founders are making well funded attempts to conquer big technological challenges. Success in these major endeavors will alter the trajectory of the future of humanity. A the list of technologies and technological challenges which Google or the Google Founders are taking on includes asteroid mining and cheap space telescopes.

Google spent about $6 billion on research and development in 2012. DARPA the US government military research agency has a budget of about $3.5 billion. Google has $54 billion cash available for more projects. Each of the founders (Sergey Brin, Larry Page) is worth $20-22 billion each. Google is growing revenue and income at about 20% per year In 4 years, Google could have 4 times the research budget of DARPA, which is up from its current budget that is double the DARPA budget.

6. DARPA has established the Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program. The program aims to develop a fully reusable unmanned vehicle that would provide aircraft-like access to space. The vehicle is envisioned to operate from a “clean pad” with a small ground crew and no need for expensive specialized infrastructure. This setup would enable routine daily operations and flights from a wide range of locations. XS-1 seeks to deploy small satellites faster and more affordably, while demonstrating technology for next-generation space and hypersonic flight for both government and commercial users. Key XS-1 technical goals include flying 10 times in 10 days, achieving speeds of Mach 10+ at least once and launching a representative payload to orbit. The program also seeks to reduce the cost of access to space for small (3,000- to 5,000-pound) payloads by at least a factor of 10, to less than $5 million per flight.

7. Positron Dynamics has seed funding from Paypal billionaire Peter Thiel’s Breakout Labs. Initial simulations show that as much as 10 micrograms of positrons could be produced each week with a linear accelerator,"" says co-founder Ryan Weed, PhD, a physicist and former cryogenic engineer for Jeff Bezos’s space flight company Blue Origin. We could see the beginning of the age of commercial antimatter within five years.

There have been other space based antimatter production concepts, which could scale to a gram of antimatter per year using about 11 GWe of power. This would be about 2000 times the production of what Positron Dynamics would try to produce from one linear accelerator (520 micrograms per year)

Also storage of antimatter in the vacuum of space could be easier. Storage and handling of significant amounts of antimatter are a greater unknown than the larger scale production of antimatter.

Storage of antimatter in the vacuum of space could be easier. Storage and handling of significant amounts of antimatter are a greater unknown than the larger scale production of antimatter.

Proposed orbital antimatter storage using superconducting rings

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