Now comes nuclear-powered batteries in Space

How long does your phone battery last? A day or two or less than that? Be it the rechargeable battery at your home or office, and no battery can last a hundred years. But this nuclear battery can power a spacecraft for more than a hundred years. Unlike the conventional cells used in autonomous electrical devices, which require chemical reactions to transfer electrons or charged particles, nuclear batteries are a source of continuous and lasting power.

This battery has been designed by Russian researchers, which uses Nicol-63 isotope and diamond diode to create 3,300 milliwatt-hours of power per gram. If the battery could be used for commercial purposes, it will prove to be revolutionary. Nuclear batteries have been invented earlier too. In 1913, Henry Moseley came up with a first version which was later updated in 1953 when beta decay was used to convert the energy into electricity by Paul Rappaport. The semiconducting materials and beta decay paved the path to creating the nuclear-powered cell we are talking about now. 

These cells will not only help in space but on earth too. We have pacemakers to help people live longer but of the battery dies, so does the human. These batteries, however, have not been developed for health products. The replaceable and rechargeable chemical batteries get drained out very quickly. This is a big problem and rules out all the advantages of such cells. 

Betavoltaic cells are better as compared to galvanic cells since their life is much longer. Radioactive isotopes can have experience up to several hundred years. But on other aspects – density, power, etc.- they are inferior to later. 

Vladimir Blank, the team leader and director of the Technological Institute for Superhard and Novel Carbon Materials (TISNCM) is striving hard to improve the cell furthermore, at least up to tenfold. The prototype developed has 200 diamond converters along with nickel-63 and layers of Nickel foil. This would be quite challenging economically too, said MIPT since high-quality diamond substrates are not very cheap and on such a massive level, they can be an enormous barrier. However, the battery is ready for the test, and everyone is waiting to see what is coming next. Everybody is optimistic and wants to perform even better. They are trying to increase the voltage and battery output and enhance the surface area of the converter by increasing the number of nickel-63 atoms per converter. 

 

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What exactly is SpaceX?

Elon Musk’s space company, launching Falcon 9 rockets and aspiring to establish colonies on Mars, is a big name in the space industry, but what is cooking between SpaceX and NASA? 

The company was founded in the year 2002 with the idea of purchasing a Russian rocket and send it to Mars carrying mice and plants. But the meeting at Moscow didn’t go per the plan, and he ended up building missiles for himself.  

Musk wished to reach Mars by 2010, lest he knew it would take him six years to get one rocket into the orbit. Falcon 1 was the first in the row sent to space in 2008 and the one which set the grounds for the launch of a nine-engine version called Falcon 9 in 2010. Falcon 9 is an orbital rocket having two stages which allow it to launch satellites for special projects. It has sent more than 50 satellites including US Air Force’s super-secret space plane. Falcon can not only send payloads into orbit but then come back to earth/sea after the mission. Falcon 9 speaks of the glory of SpaceX, but that’s not all it has to offer.

Dragon craft has been carrying cargo to the International Space Station on a commercial basis and may be used to send humans by 2019. Other than that falcon heavy caught everybody’s attention when it was launched as the most potent rocket constituting of three Falcon 9 rockets strapped together. 

SpaceX has commenced the preparation of an even bigger rocket named BFR (Big Falcon Rocket) to be sent to Mars. This BFR is developed to serve as the ferry for Musk’s Mars Mission.

At the International Aeronautical Congress Meetings, Must shared his plans for sending BFR to Mars- the red planet. His primary interest is not in building infrastructure but offering space transportation. However, SpaceX is not limited to carry loads but to bring the universe to us. They plan to design a massive constellation of broadband satellites (about12,000). This would make the dream of the high-speed internet become a reality for areas where due to lack of physical infrastructure, internet services were either absent or very poor.

SpaceX has eyed upon Mars and is devising plans to send tourists around the moon. Projects like Hyperloop transit and Musk’s next big idea – the Boring Company-which aims are digging out tunnels on the surface of Mars, are all set to become the next revolution. Musk also has plans for regulating space traffic while still on earth.

 

Instead of Space Force create a Space Guard, few argued

A “Space Force” should be developed within the defense department was the topic of debate recently between the White House and Congress. As some believes that it will be more beneficial if an organization is developed which is quite similar to Coast Guard.

On May 27, in a panel discussion, it was suggested by experts and some government officials that it is possible that “Space Guard” can serve as a useful tool for dealing with space security-related issues.

Greg Autry, a professor who has also served on NASA transition said that: We have to identify how we can simply implement compliance along with the laws which we have to pass on on-orbit. A solution to resolve this issue can be space guard model.

In present scenario, there is no single agency or department which is alone managing U.S interests in space. Several efforts which were made recently like SPD-2 can help, but alone it is also not sufficient. Said George Nield, who earlier worked with Federal Aviation Administration. He said most appropriate and feasible solution can be developing Space Guard which is modeled at Coast Guard. The only mission he has is to ensure the good safety of space and also adopt all necessary measure in order to preserve the environment of space.

Nield also mentioned that, this space guard will serve in civilian department and defense department both for peace time and war time respectively. It will be having good existing capabilities as well as new capabilities. This time we have aimed to contribute with a more efficient job. We want to do better than what other agencies and departments are doing at present. Also, we are looking forward to address new responsibilities like rescue, inspection and more, which are not being addressed and handled currently.

Though this idea of creating a Space Guard is not a new thing, it’s just it got attention recently. Prior to this, this matter was not taken seriously, said Michael Laine.  He also added that at present there is no panelist for space security responsibilities. And if Air Force thinks the existing state is okay then they are not right in it as they are not fundamentally sound and well equipped to deal with conditions of the new environment. 

Some changes are mandatory in order to cope up with the new environment.  A new change can be motivating and exciting as well. .” Said George Nield.

 

Astronauts will look for these while aboard

NASA astronauts are working very hard to get the commercial crew program on track. They are leaving no stones unturned to design as well as develop the private spaceships and also the spacesuits and even taking part in the training operations as well. The primary objective of all these activities is to ensure the fact that astronauts who will go to space soon will have all the safety measures to combat any problems. In the year of 2014, NASA selected two of its most trusted contractors to take astronauts to the International Space Station and bring them back. One of them is SpaceX which received an order worth of $ 2.6 billion and the other one being Boeing which won a contract value worth of $ 4.2 billion.

Boeing has decided to test its first uncrewed flight mission in its CST-100 Starliner capsule. SpaceX, on the other hand, is supposed to schedule its first uncrewed mission in its human-rated Dragon Capsule. Both of the test flights are expected to be conducted in the latter part of this year. After that NASA, as well as these companies, have the target to initiate the crewed missions in the year of 2019 or by latest in the year of 2020.

However, currently, a joint inspection team is working to on the different aspects of the crewed missions. The team is also focusing on imparting detailed training to the astronauts in respect of the spaceflights and its different functioning. According to the NASA astronaut, Suni Williams, whenever some critical aspects of the commercial crew program are discussed, the whole team assembles to get an in-depth analysis of the testing parameters so that everyone is aware of the safety precautions during the practical testing issues.

Some of the activities that were done while conducting the training program with Boeing were assessing the human factors, different workloads, different uses and also various issues relating to manual piloting. Similarly, with the SpaceX team, the training programs that were conducted include spacesuit fit, multiple displays and development and at the same time imparting designing briefs.

Both the companies, Boeing and SpaceX, will have to ensure that their safety measurements are as per the rules laid down by NASA. The companies will even get feedback from the astronauts during the uncrewed testing flight missions. This is so because the persons on the ISS will work on the spacecraft both before and after the capsules reach the orbiting position.

Back to the moon – the letter that says it all

Eric W. Stallmer, the President of Commercial Spaceflight Federation, wrote a letter to NASA’s administrator Jim Bridenstine addressing the need of democratizing America’s most significant space enterprise. This letter appeared on 14th of May in the Space News Magazine. Eric congratulated Jim on becoming NASA’s 13th administrator and discussed the minute details he needs to look after to enjoy being in the top hierarchy of the world’s most iconic space research agency. He mentioned that NASA has varied areas of research and as the leader, your partnership has reached the next level. Now to maintain sustainable commercial ecosystem, you should maintain healthy business relations with the U.S. commercial space industry. He assertively stated that now we must emphasize on returning to the moon, as it is the soft target we long forgot. Moon is within our reach and a convenient escape to save earth from the forecasted annihilation. He told Jim about following fundamentals: 

Your team constitutes of the finest scientists across the globe. They are hardworking, passionate and above all professional. Nasa has been rated the best place to work consecutively for six years. You need to be dexterous in your leadership and management while working with them.

The people of America think highly of NASA, and you have to ensure their faith remains the support you need.

The funds will keep flowing as long as the work speaks of its glory and people believe in what you say. For the financial year 2018, you have $20.7 billion, and for 2019, $810 million is inside the vault to be utilized for the development of this magnificent organization.

Eric also narrated the infinite possibilities and exciting future with unique opportunities at NASA. He mentioned that president Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and the National Space Council are huge supporters of NASA and would do everything in their power to accommodate NASA with the best possible facilities. Eric mentioned that the American space industry was increasing and at such a pace, these innovations will be out-competing the world. To make this a routine, Jim needed to involve commercial space companies like SpaceX, Blue Origin to increase the number of reusable orbit launch vehicles that NASA has. 

Eric also wrote that the Space commerce being a new field altogether needed attention. From investors, media or familiar people, from  Starman to Mannequin Skywalker or the latest concepts for space stations; a new generation of young researchers is all set to build and launch experiments under the guidance of experts, and Jim has to prepare them to start space missions. NASA has begun democratization and citizens should soon get the space enterprise they always dreamt of, Eric stated. 

Pentagon’s idea of launching missile tracking satellite

To fill the blind spots in the antimissile defense system of Russia, the possibility of starting the sensors in the space has been looked by the Pentagon. However, this is not considered great news since previously a total of six administrations have weighed such a similar concept of searching for deploying the sensors in space, but none of those were materialized. Only two of the satellites were launched as a means of an experiment which was done during the presidency of George W. Bush, and these satellites are considered to be still there in orbit. The administration of Trump has sought a lot of funds by the year 2020 so that a constellation of sensors can be sent to space.  

One of the most dangerous space weapons is said to be made by Russia, and these sensors are supposed to warn whether hypersonic testing is done by Russia. These are to be detected easily with the help of sensors which are to be sent to space. Even though the thought of space sensor layer is considered to be progressional but right now it’s primary concern is the budget. This is stated by the senior at the Center for International and Strategic Studies named Tom Karako.  

The Pentagon is said to have various plans for the Ballistic Missile Defense. Russia and China are supposed to be launching hypersonic glide vehicles, and both are supposed to have nuclear warheads. However, one of the drawbacks of the Pentagon is that it lacks time to build defense architecture to stop the nuclear warheads. The 2020 budget is the only one which has the cost to support such defense architecture. But 2019 budget might be increased to build it. Senior defense officials even said to start a program related to this program related to this.  

The director of Missile Defense Agency namely Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves has always been on board with launching sensors in space. General John Hyten who is the U.S Strategic Commander is also said to be on board with it. The Pentagon has studied a lot about the uses of the space sensors so that they don’t face any problem during their launch. A plan for launching LEO constellation which is Low Earth Orbit was put forward by the Pentagon during the Clinton Years.  

The Red Planet Mars Gets Closest to the Earth in Last Fifteen Years 

Starting toward the beginning of June and proceeding into July and August, you can see a splendid orange-red star sparkling with an unfaltering light. Well, you may ponder, Nothing so brilliant and bright was obvious here previously. Where did it originate from 

This isn’t a star, which you will see while looking towards the east-southeast sky. However, it’s a planet Mars. This year, the Red Planet has been unmistakable just to morning people. In any case, with each passing night, Mars has been getting somewhat nearer to Earth. 

What’s more, this midyear will be a most pleasant event for the famous Red Planet. In late July, Mars will come nearer to Earth than it has since the year of 2003. The planet will be contrary to the sun on 27th of July, which means it will be inverse the sun in Earth’s sky, just fifty-one days before it goes through perihelion — its nearest direct relative toward the sun in its circle. 

On that day, the Planet will blast at the extent of twice as splendid as Jupiter, yet dimmer than Venus. Notwithstanding, the Red Planet will be at far south and so the onlookers at northern scopes will never observe the planet high in the sky, and air turbulence will debilitate the view more than expected. 

Truth to be told, for onlookers in the majority of the United States, Mars will be so low in the sky as to hamper adjustable work. At the point when the planet crosses the meridian and achieves its most astounding position in the sky, at around 1 a.m. nearby sunlight time, Mars’ elevation over the southern skyline will be just 23 degrees as saw from Chicago and 30 degrees from Los Angeles. Then again, eyewitnesses crosswise over South America, South Africa, and Australia will be given an outstanding survey opportunity, for the planet will pass straightforwardly overhead. 

On Mars, this period intently compares to the landing of fall (May 22) and winter (Oct. 16) in the planet’s northern side of the equator, and to spring and summer in its southern half of the globe. Mars has seasons like those of Earth, however they usual twice as long. Numerous fascinating and unusual regular changes occur on Mars amid this period. 

The individuals who complete methodical perceptions can contribute some valuable learning about Martian climate and surface conditions. In case you’re intrigued, you should need to contact the Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers — which has a perception segment particularly committed to Mars. 

NOAA recently declares that its first JPSS weather satellite is now fully operational

NOAA– The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, on 30th May, announced that its first next-generation polar-orbiting which is a weather satellite is now fully functional.

NOAA said that JPSS: Joint Polar Satellite System, a weather satellite was renamed to NOAA-20 after it was launched on 18th Nov. It has completed its six months of an on-orbit check. And so it is ready and fully operational now.

NOAA-20 is actually in the same orbit where the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite is there. Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite had been serving since 2014 as NOAA’s primary polar-orbiting weather satellite. Suomi was launched somewhere in late 2011. It continues to operate past its planned five year lifetime. With NOAA-20 entering into service it is expected that it may ends concerns related to a data gap.

NOAA-20 is a satellite with latest and best technology. Before this NOAA has never flown a satellite with such technology in such a famous orbit for capturing precise observations of the atmosphere, water, and land across the world. With this advanced technology and instruments, accuracy will be improved of  3 to 7 days.

With this improved weather forecasts we will be able to save more lives, property and can provide ample time to different business to protect themselves from several weather hazards, said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.

Data collected from NOAA-20 is particularly beneficial for the Polar Regions, which cannot be observed from other satellite which is there in geostationary orbit at present. It is very helpful for tracking any storm which is likely to develop in the Arctic, Alaska, and Antarctica, said, Neil Jacobs.

Forecasts on these remote areas have become critical for U.S. fishing, energy, transportation, and recreation industries, which are operating in the harshest conditions on the planet.

Ball Aerospace built JPSS-1. But after that, all the satellites which were in series next to it were not created by Ball Aerospace. They were developed by Orbital ATK, and they were awarded this contract on March 15. The agreement covered JPSS-2 with other options for JPSS-3 and four as well. Though Ball protested the award to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the protest was denied in July’15.

On May 25 NASA announced that it was exercising the options for JPSS-3 and 4. However agency has not disclosed the total value of the options, it was stated that overall contract value including JPSS-2 which is under construction currently is nearby to $460 million.

Scheduled delivery of JPSS-3 is in 2023, and that of JPSS-4 is in 2026. However, these two won’t be launched immediately after their birth. NASA is anticipating launching JPSS-3 somewhere in 2026 and JPSS-4 in 2031. These dates are not confirmed and may change depending on the current status of satellites in orbit.

Richard Branson very close to taking people to space

Richard Branson and his company Virgin Galactic has almost reached the halfway mark to space with its second powered flight of Unity Spacecraft which took off Tuesday. This has helped the company to come very close to fulfilling the dreams of launching its first commercial space vehicle within few months and thereby take people to space. According to the statement of Richard Branson, his company will take two to three months of time before they can finally be ready for taking people to space. He considered this test as an essential step towards achieving this objective.

Branson and his company are very particular in their approach to space travel. He has said that his company will take all the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of the passengers before they can start on the voyage of the space travel. The flight which took off on Tuesday was the second rocket-powered launch. Earlier, the company had suffered a significant setback with its Enterprise Spacecraft which failed on Oct 31, 2014. As a result, the company was highly cautious this time and conducted a fleet of tests to ensure that all the aspect of the rocket is ready before initiating a rocket-powered flight. According to Richard Branson once his company manufactures a “safe craft” that can travel up to 264000 feet above the earth’s surface, and then he will decide to go up. After he also has plans to take astronauts along with him.

One of the major initiatives of his company to stabilize the business of space tourism is to ensure the fact that he manufactures such spacecraft which is capable of being reused a large number of times before significant replacements or refurbishments. As per the latest reports United Spacecraft took off from the Mojave Air and Space Port which is situated in California. It was lifted by the jet-powered mothership Eve. After that, it returned to the earth’s atmosphere using a technique which is known as feathering. It also landed back on the same runway from which it had left.

In other words, applying this technique implies that the company was able to turn back Unity within a period o 54 days from the date of this launch. If we look back at the history, the Atlantis took the similar time from the year of its launch and thereby coming back to earth’s surface. NASA, however, initiated the Atlantis program.

China and U.N. Office for Outer Space Affairs Have Merged Their Hands

Space exploration has always been a grand venture, made by humankind. What does the future hold for space investigation? Nobody can answer it correctly, but yes, the progress of space science will never stop. However, there were, there are, and there would be instances that confer some important collaboration of International Space Centers. The collaborations happen mainly with some specific goals. At times, some space discoveries call for stunning arrangements and these arrangements may not be organized by one single space center and that is the reason why collaboration takes place frequently. 

A current piece of information has landed, and that stirred up the media. U.N. Office for Outer Space Affairs has confirmed long-term collaboration with China. This would be an excellent achievement for Asia, as not many countries from this continent have been able to take the leading position in Space discoveries. Truth to be told, Asian countries are far behind than the U.S.A and Russia in Space science. Thus, this news of collaboration seems to be too important to ignore. In Vienna, the U.N. Office held a service to celebrate new joint efforts with China. 

The entire world of space science is eager and keenly investigates this unique worldwide collaboration endeavor. China’s Manned Space Agency and the U.N. organization for Outer Space Affairs have been devoted to inquiring about and collaborating for quiet space investigation. In the year of 2016, they consented to an arrangement permitting both U.N. part states and creating nations to direct space probes board China’s new space station that is set to be propelled into space in the near future of 2022. 

The piece of news is accepted gladly by China. This will be China’s third era Chinese Space Station. It is being intended to help a three-man group to live and work locally available persistently. It will be utilized to assemble relevant research to enable better to comprehend space and investigate the likelihood of living there. 

The statement from U.N. Office for Outer Space Affairs reads like this: “If we can change the observation that space is something far away, that it isn’t a piece we can imagine. I trust that the following stage in the space-time will be for every one of us to go and invest energy, and figure out how to live in microgravity.” As nations and private area are increasing their community-oriented endeavors in space investigation, it might take us to interminability and past.