2. Centauri Dreams – The HARPS spectrograph is looking hard at 10 nearby stars for signs of rocky planets. Six have already been identified. This article takes a look at these early finds and speculates about what may turn up around other interesting targets like Tau Ceti and Alpha Centauri B.
3. Universe Today Nancy Atkinson: The first in series of articles outlining some of the concepts and hurdles for a human mission to an asteroid that NASA is hoping will be the first crewed deep space mission.
6. Discovery News – Ejecta kicked into space from impacts on the Earth’s surface appear to travel much further than anyone predicted — but could it be a life-spreading mechanism to other star systems?
12. Weirdwarp – Using acoustic waves to catch sunspots in the early stage of development can give as much as two days warning of disruptions to communication systems, air travel, power grids and satellites and prevent astronauts from getting fried in space.
The economy of a country or world that is sending a manned interstellar mission will be at least 25-200 times or more larger than our current economy. This also means a world with 10-100 times or more greater energy production.
I think that it is clear that societies will spend first on developing the local solar system. So interstellar would be about 0.01 to 0.1% of GDP as most of the space effort would be in the solar system. The local space development should include space telescopes that will enable direct imaging of exoplanets.
I am expecting major technological advances before any manned interstellar mission.
There will be molecular nanotechnology 2025-2045.
There will be superconducting systems for harvesting antimatter by 2030.
There will be nuclear fusion for space propulsion. Early forms 2015-2025 and more mature 2025-2040.
There will be nuclear fusion for energy generation 2015-2040.
There will be successful cryonics to suspend and reanimate by 2045. If you have full blown molecular nanotechnology then you will have the nanomedicine for massive life extension and for starting and stopping cryonics or other suspension.
The Holy Grail in space is to have a fully and rapidly reusable rocket. No one has ever achieved this. The space shuttle is partly reusable, but the main tank is thrown away every time. And even the parts that are reusable are extremely difficult to refurbish. And so the space shuttle costs about well, anywhere from four to eight times as much an expendable rocket of equivalent payload capability.
15. Nextbigfuture – California-based SpaceX is ramping up plans to become the world’s largest producer of rocket engines in less than five years, manufacturing more units per year than any other single country.
The Merlin 1D engine is designed to produce 155,000 lb. vacuum thrust and have a chamber pressure at “the sweet spot” of roughly 1,410 psia.
For SpaceX’s longer-term ambitions to deliver cargo and humans to Mars, Musk says plans to develop a “super-efficient, staged-combustion engine” could be made official “later this year, or early next.” Although no further details of the engine, variously known as the Raptor or BFE (Big Falcon Engine), are being revealed, the company last year showed a concept for a 150,000-lb.-thrust liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen engine with an Isp of 470 sec.
17. Meridiani Journal – An exotic planet made of crystalline carbon has been found orbiting a pulsar. Like the old song by The Beatles, ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’, but this is a real “diamond in the sky”!