Expendable SpaceX Starship Could More Than Double Saturn V Payload

SpaceX’s Starbase factory is already building multiple intentionally-expendable Starships. Ship 26 and Ship 27 feature no thermal protection, have no heat shield tiles, and will not be fitted with flaps, making them impossible to recover or reuse. These Starships will be able to test technologies like orbital refilling and cryogenic fluid management. A SpaceX Starship …

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Plasma Thrusters Ran at 500% Beyond Old Power Limits

Benjamin Jorns, U-M associate professor of aerospace engineering led a new Hall thruster study that operated a Hall Plasma thruster at five times old power limits. His team challenged ran a 9 kilowatt-rated Hall thruster at up to 45 kilowatts while maintaining roughly 80% of its nominal efficiency. This increased the amount of force generated …

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Nuclear Wave Rotor Propulsion Could Get Ten Times Chemical Rocket Speeds

Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (NTP) is one of the best options for manned missions throughout the solar system with over double the ISP of chemical rockets. A new NASA NIAC study will look at improved nuclear propulsion with a Wave Rotor combined with Nuclear Electric. This could enable four times the ISP of nuclear thermal and …

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Fluidic Telescopes Could Breakthrough Cost Limits to 50 Meter Space Telescopes

The future of space-based UV/optical/IR astronomy requires ever larger telescopes. A NASA NIAC Phase 1 study will look at a space observatory with a large-aperture (50-meter) unsegmented primary mirror suitable for a variety of astronomical applications. The mirror would be created in space via a novel approach based on fluidic shaping in microgravity, which has …

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NASA and MIT Study to Make Orbital Dish the size of 1.5 Football Fields

NASA has a phase 1 NIAC (NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts) to overcome the limitations for making giant lightweight dish structures in space. In this NIAC effort, they aim to overcome limitations by using a novel in-space manufacturing method and advanced materials to fabricate high-performance reflectors with dimensions greater than 100 meters, 100 m/m surface precision, …

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