Tag Archives: spaceflight

Mystery missile an optical illusion?

At least one expert claims that the mystery missile launch off the California coast on was merely an optical illusion. Key quote:

John Pike of the security analyst group globalsecurity.org said the video shot by a news helicopter owned by KCBS is an optical illusion. Pike said the video is of an airplane heading toward the camera and the contrail is illuminated by the setting sun. He said the object can’t be a rocket because it appeared to alter its course.

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The first images of Deep Impact’s flyby of Comet Hartley 2

Here are the first images of Deep Impact’s flyby of Comet Hartley 2. The first is a montage, the sequence in time going clockwise. The second is a close-up of the second image.

montage of Hartley 2

close-up

The feature that I find most intriguing is the narrow smooth waist of the comet’s dogbone shape. The whole thing looks almost like a piece of taffy that’s being pulled apart.

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Watching the Deep Impact flyby of Hartley 2

Watch the Deep Impact flyby of Hartley 2 this instant (11:06 AM eastern)! The images are incredible. Update: The fly-by is over, but the live stream is still available (as of 11:30 am Eastern), showing some of the images taken. The comet itself is a peanut-shaped object about two miles long, with a jet of water coming out one end.

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Overhaul of NASA’s Deep Space communication system completed

NASA has completed a significant upgrade of its Deep Space communication system. These unheralded antennas and the engineers who maintain them make it possible for scientists to communicate with the far flung planetary probes in orbit around Venus, Mars, and Saturn, as well as the spacecraft visiting comets or traveling beyond the edge of the solar system.

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Google Lunar X Prize

The private race to the Moon, led by the Google Lunar X Prize. Key quote:

The Google Lunar X PRIZE offers a total of $30 million in prize money to the first privately funded teams to land robots on the Moon that explore the lunar surface by moving at least 500 meters and by sending back two packages of high definition video and photos we call Mooncasts. Unlike our first competition, the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE, the Google Lunar X PRIZE isn’t a ‘winner take all’ proposition: instead, we have a $20 million Grand Prize, a Second Place Prize that will award $5 million to the second team to meet all of the requirements, a series of technical bonus missions that can allow teams to earn as much as an additional $4 million, and a $1 million award that will go to teams that make the greatest contribution to stimulating diversity in space exploration and, more generally, in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

The competition operates on a “payment on delivery” model: the prize money is only given to teams after they complete a successful mission, meaning that each team needs to raise all the capital needed to design, develop and conduct their missions on their own. We’re now three years into a fairly long effort: the prize is available until all of the prize purses are claimed or until the end of the year 2015. Last week, we accepted our 24th team into the competition.

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