•   
  •   

US News Pentagon prepping nuclear moon rocket to beat China into ‘Cislunar’ space

14:25  26 february  2020
14:25  26 february  2020 Source:   thedailybeast.com

SpaceX rocket booster misses its landing

  SpaceX rocket booster misses its landing Monday’s launch went off smoothly, the company said, and its booster fell back through the atmosphere, slowing itself down by refiring its engine. For decades, rocket boosters had been ditched into the ocean after propelling their payloads to orbit. But SpaceX has sought to change that dynamic by developing a rocket that could not only blast off to space, but then autonomously reorient itself and fly back to Earth, touching down with pinpoint precision.

The Pentagon wants to extend the reach of its satellites tens of thousands miles toward the Moon . And it’s working on a high-tech, atomic-powered “ nuclear The military’s goal is to deploy maneuverable satellites into the vast space between the Earth and the Moon —“ cislunar ” space , it’s called—before

Cislunar space refers to that area of the solar system inside of the 240,000-mile radius of the moon ’s orbit, where all Earthbound US satellites are located and all manned space missions have taken place and which DARPA has identified as the “new high-ground” that is “in danger of being defined by the

NASA © Provided by The Daily Beast NASA

The Pentagon wants to extend the reach of its satellites tens of thousands miles toward the Moon. And it’s working on a high-tech, atomic-powered “nuclear thermal propulsion” engine to make it possible.

The military’s goal is to deploy manoeuvrable satellites into the vast space between the Earth and the Moon—“cislunar” space, it’s called—before China gets there with its own spacecraft.

But this isn’t the first time the U.S. government has tried to develop an atomic rocket. And there’s no guarantee the same problems that ended previous efforts won’t also scuttle this one. 

Scottish spaceport set for blast-off after £2m boost

  Scottish spaceport set for blast-off after £2m boost Plans that would see a remote island in the far north of Scotland become home to the UK’s first spaceport have come a step closer to fruition after a major funding boost. Unst in Shetland, the most northerly inhabited island in the UK, has been selected as the ideal spot to construct a commercial satellite launch pad as the nation bids to join the new and rapidly growing global space sector.Now Shetland Space Centre (SSC) is set to benefit from investment of more than £2 million from private equity firm Leonne International, which will own a 20 per cent stake in the venture.

China ’s Paranoid Party Line: America is the Enemy and Needs to ‘Butt Out’. The Daily Beast. Yahoo Finance Video. Nuclear Moon RocketPentagon Prepping Nuclear Moon Rocket to Beat China Into ‘ Cislunar ’ Space .

Nuclear Moon Rocket Pentagon Prepping Nuclear Moon Rocket to Beat China Into ‘ Cislunar ’ Space . Jude Libertas: What kind of headline is that?

“The capability afforded by [nuclear thermal propulsion] will expand the operating presence of the U.S. in space to the cislunar volume and enhance domestic operations to a new high-ground, which is in danger of being defined by the adversary,” the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which oversees the atomic rocket effort, explained in its budget proposal. 

Related: Trump's US Space Force is no joke

Trump's US Space Force is no joke © Atlantic Trump's US Space Force is no joke

The U.S. and Chinese space agencies and even private corporations are eager to mine the Moon for minerals that could support deep-space missions, potentially including humanity’s first trip to Mars. 

“An agile nuclear thermal propulsion vehicle enables the [Defense Department] to maintain space domain awareness of the burgeoning activity within this vast volume,” Jared Adams, a DARPA spokesperson, told The Daily Beast.

Elon Musk's SpaceX signs deal to send tourists into space

  Elon Musk's SpaceX signs deal to send tourists into space Elon Musk's company SpaceX has signed a contract with a space tourism company to send up to four passengers into orbit around the Earth. The contract with Space Adventures will see space tourists get up to five days in orbit inside one of the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft.SpaceX's president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell said: "This historic mission will forge a path to making spaceflight possible for all people who dream of it." © Getty The missions will use a Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Crew Dragon capsule It is unlikely to be possible for those who dream of it any time soon.

Nuclear Moon Rocket Pentagon Prepping Nuclear Moon Rocket to Beat China Into ‘ Cislunar ’ Space . The Daily Beast. Kirk Douglas leaves bulk of million fortune to charity - and 'nothing' to son Michael Douglas.

A few into cislunar space . Mars , cislunar space , even near-Earth asteroids have all been bandied about as new targets for NASA astronauts. But Spudis argues that it’s our nearest celestial neighbor that is most valuable in unlocking the rest of the solar system to crewed exploration, as noted in “The

DARPA’s budget request for 2021, which the agency released in early February, asks for $21 million for the so-called “Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations” program, or DRACO. 

Congress gave DARPA $10 million in 2020 to start studying the DRACO engine. The 2021 budget would allow the agency to start building components. The plan is for DARPA to test DRACO before handing it over to the U.S. Air Force for routine operations.

The military’s nuclear thermal propulsion project is a virtual twin of a similar NASA program that’s a couple of years older.

Related: Ministry of Defence preparing for space war within the next 15 years

Ministry of Defence preparing for space war within the next 15 years © Getty Ministry of Defence preparing for space war within the next 15 years

DRACO is what experts call a “high-assay low-enriched uranium nuclear-thermal propulsion system.” Basically, it’s a small nuclear reactor atop a space rocket. The reactor heats up a propellant—hydrogen, for example—that accelerates through a nozzle, pushing the satellite in the opposite direction.

Daredevil "Mad" Mike Hughes dies in homemade rocket launch

  Daredevil He was working on a TV show, "Homemade Astronauts," when his craft crashed in the California desert.The stunt was apparently part of a forthcoming television show, "Homemade Astronauts," that was scheduled to debut later this year on Discovery Inc.'s Science Channel.

China National Space Administration head Zhang Kejian announced that China is planning to land crew on the moon 's south pole "within the next 10 years The Chinese Lunar Exploration Program is divided into four main operational phases, with each mission serving as a technology demonstrator in

Elon Musk and SpaceX won't be leading the reusable rocket space race long, at least not if Russia has anything to say about it. The Russian researchers say that their nuclear -powered rocket platform will be able to make it to Mars seven months after launch, and that its reusable rocket stages can be put

Nuclear-thermal engines aren’t for launching from Earth’s surface. They’re for cruising long distances through space or maneuvering a lot while keeping closer to Earth. 

The Moon is 240,000 miles from Earth. Most man-made satellites orbit no more than a few thousand miles from Earth’s surface. The United States and China are both in a scramble to fill that gap. 

Beijing in 2019 landed humanity’s first-ever probe on the Moon’s difficult-to-reach far side, which always faces away from Earth. 

Now the Chinese space agency is working on follow-on Moon missions and could even send human explorers to the lunar surface as early as the mid-2020s. 

NASA, meanwhile, has at the urging of President Donald Trump tried to accelerate a potentially $30 billion plan to build a new manned station in cislunar space. That would function as a staging base for U.S. astronauts to return to the Moon by 2024, the theoretical final full year of a possible second term for Trump. 

Related: Spectacular images from space (Photos)

Atomic rockets could support America’s new Moon push. You launch the pieces of the reactor into Earth orbit on top of traditional chemical rockets and then assemble them while they’re zooming thousands of miles per hour around the planet. 

Attach the nuclear motor to a space capsule, spy satellite or orbital weapon, and it could travel huge distances over a span of years or even decades. 

It was the long-distance potential that motivated early American efforts to build a nuclear thermal propulsion system back in the 1960s and ’70s. NASA was making progress when President Richard Nixon abruptly canceled a bunch of rocket programs in order to focus the space agency on arguably less ambitious missions.

Now the idea of a reactor on a rocket is back in vogue. “Compared to chemical propulsion systems, the performance advantages of NTP can enable shorter total mission times and enhanced flexibility for crewed Mars missions,” Clare Skelly, a NASA spokesperson, told The Daily Beast.

For the armed forces, nuclear thermal propulsion is “a way to get more maneuverability in their satellites—repositioning satellites chews through the onboard propellant of a satellite,” Dale Thomas, a space expert at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, told The Daily Beast.

Related: 15 things to know about the Moon (Photos)

Of course, civilian and military space funding are both subject to political whims. Just because the Pentagon and NASA want nuclear thermal propulsion systems today doesn’t mean the president and Congress will be equally enamored of the idea long enough to actually build them. 

Congress has already begun to cool on Trump’s Moon plan. Trump wanted $1.6 billion for the Moon mission in the 2020 budget. Lawmakers approved $1.3 billion.

Plus there’s the issue of all that radiation. In the ’60s, NASA could test an atomic rocket in the desert, venting radioactive gas straight into the air, without too many people protesting. “That is not acceptable today,” Thomas pointed out. 

The government could replace live testing with sophisticated computer simulations, Thomas explained.

The last time a human explorer set foot on the Moon was in 1972 during the final U.S. Apollo mission. NASA hopes the current Moon race results in a “sustainable” long-term human presence on or above the lunar surface.

The Pentagon wants to get there first with spacecraft that can keep an eye on… whatever arrives next. 

To DARPA, that means building an atomic rocket. The agency surely hopes that, this time, it actually finishes building the thing.

Earth’s new ‘mini-moon’ is leaving soon. But it’ll be back. .
Astronomers expect mini-moon sightings to grow far more common as a new, giant telescope going up in Chile starts scanning the sky. It’s an exciting prospect for scientists interested in someday sending a spacecraft to study one of the rocks and maybe even bring it back to Earth. © K. Wierzchos/T. Pruyne/University of Arizona/Catalina Sky Survey/K. Wierzchos/T. Pruyne/University o... Astronomers believe they have spotted the second “mini-moon” ever recorded. “These asteroids are what built the planets,” Scott Sheppard, an astronomer at the Carnegie Institution for Science, told The Washington Post.

—   Share news in the SOC. Networks

Topical videos:

usr: 4
This is interesting!