Carnival of Space 288

The Carnival of Space 288 is up at Dear Astronomer

Astronomers estimate 4.5 billion ‘Earth-like’ planets in our galaxy

Nextbigfuture – The controversial propellentless EMDrive reports research from ongoing work in China.The latest EMDrive experiment paper (from China) describes their latest thruster and gives the test results in details, showing that with a couple of kilowatts of power they can produce 720 mN (about 72 grams) of thrust.

It may not sound very much, less than three ounces, but in space a little thrust goes a long way. Boeing’s advanced XIPS thruster, which fires out Xenon ions at high speed, generates less than a quarter as much thrust from twice as much power. It’s used to maintain satellites in position, or move them to a slightly different orbit. Crucially, Xips weights about twenty kilos, more than an equivalent EmDrive, and the propellant for prolonged operation can weigh much more.

Nextbigfuture – “We could be in the business of studying the atmospheres of habitable worlds 10 years from now,” says David Charbonneau, also of the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics. If NASA launches the missions the space telescopes and we get lucky with analysis of Kepler data to confirm exoplanets, then we could be studying the atmospheres by 2017 or 2020 with new space based and new large ground based telescopes.

Nextbigfuture – Bigelow Aerospace’s historic first commercial space station will open up extraordinary opportunities for countries across the globe. Nations such as Japan, Canada, Brazil, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Sweden could secure the future of their human spaceflight programs and dramatically increase the size of their astronaut corps. Smaller countries with no human spaceflight experience such as Singapore or the United Arab Emirates could take their first bold steps into space in a rapid and affordable fashion.

* 8% lower cost ($36.75 million instead of 40 million) for astronauts but able to stay up to 9 times longer (60 days instead of 7 days)

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