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Transportation Nation

Curiosity Mars Rover Lands on Mars, Looks for Life

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Mary Roach (photo by David Paul Morris)

What’s the size of a car, but travels 13,000 miles an hour? That would be the Curiosity Mars rover, which touched down on the Red Planet Monday after eight months of travel and what NASA engineers called "seven minutes of terror."

The rover will spend the next two years looking for signs of life on the planet. And it could also bring new life to the U.S. space program. The project was managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology, which faces significant budget cuts to operations and Mars missions.

Journalist Mary Roach wrote Packing For Mars, a book about what it would take to prepare people to travel to Mars, and the future of space exploration. She spoke with KALW’s Casey Miner about what happens now that Curiosity has touched down.

"It landed right where they wanted it to and everything went right," said Roach. "And [it's] just this unbelievable human achievement. Thousands of people working for the better part of a decade. To do that and it all comes together in this very brief chunk of minutes."

Listen to the interview below.

 

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WNYC News

First Pictures from Curiosity’s Martian Adventure

Monday, August 06, 2012

NASA is marveling over the Mars rover’s first photographs — grainy, black-and-white images of Martian gravel, a mountain at sunset and, most exciting of all, the spacecraft's white-knuckle plunge through the red planet's atmosphere.

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The Takeaway

NASA's Rover Lands on Mars

Monday, August 06, 2012

In the most anticipated rover landing in a generation, NASA landed its Mars Curiosity Rover on Mars at 1:31 am EST this morning. Curiosity will remain on Mars for two years, trying to find a signs that the planet can support life.

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Radiolab

Watch our Hangout: Ring in the Mars Rover

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Thanks to everyone who tuned in to watch our first-ever Google Hangout. We had a blast!

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WNYC News

Want a Front Row Seat to the Mars Landing? Try Times Square

Sunday, August 05, 2012

New Yorkers who want to witness the  historic landing Sunday of the Mars Planetary Rover Curiosity can do so from Times Square.

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Radiolab

Ringing in the Mars Rover Landing

Thursday, August 02, 2012

We'll be hosting our first Google Hangout On Air this Sunday, 8/5 at 11:30pm EDT to cheer on the landing of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity. Watch the online festivities on our brand-new Google+ page, our YouTube channel, or right here on radiolab.org.

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The Takeaway

Remembering Sally Ride: High-Flying Female Astronaut and Pioneer for Science Education

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A look back at Sally Ride: Her legacy, first space mission, and her work to bring science to the youth of America.

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Transportation Nation

The Enterprise, Boldly Going Up the Hudson

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

(photo by Kate Hinds)

The space shuttle Enterprise floated by WNYC Wednesday morning en route to its new home at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. Despite a construction elevator moving maddeningly to almost obscure the view, we were able to catch a glimpse.

The museum's Enterprise exhibit is scheduled to open to the public this summer.

Can't get enough of the shuttle? Check out photos of its arrival in New York in April here. To see WNYC listener-submitted photos of the shuttle's flyover, go here.

 

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Transportation Nation

SpaceX Hopes to Fly Supply Mission to ISS this Summer

Friday, June 01, 2012

Dragon on a barge after splashdown in the Pacific (Photo Courtesy of SpaceX)

(Orlando, FL -- WMFE) With the splashdown of a privately owned unmanned space capsule Thursday and a successful weeklong demonstration visit to the International Space Station, the company that built the craft is hoping the mission leads to regular resupply flights for NASA.

SpaceX hopes to get the green light from NASA to launch its first supply mission to the ISS  later this summer.

Dragon splashed down in the Pacific Ocean, nine  days after blasting off from Cape Canaveral. CEO Elon Musk said he was relieved to see the Dragon’s parachutes pop open, guiding the scorched capsule to its target a few hundred miles off the California coast, knowing the mission had been a success.

Musk described the test flight as like a “grand slam.”

“I almost feel like it’s more success than we had a reasonable right to expect, so I hope we’re able to repeat it,” said Musk.

“That’s going to be our focus is making sure that we repeat it well in future flights.”

Musk acknowledged his company would not have gotten this far without NASA’s help.

NASA’s commercial crew and cargo program manager Alan Lindenmoyer said after a final mission report comes back in a few weeks, SpaceX should be well on the way to starting services.

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The Takeaway

Mae Jemison's Quest to Take us All into Space

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Few on our planet know what it might take to launch civilians into space, and Mae Jemison is one of them. Jemison famously became the first black woman to travel in space when she boarded the Space Shuttle Endeavour in 1992. Today, she’s helped found the Dorothy Jemison Foundation, an organization dedicated to creating a space program for civilians within the next 100 years. 

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The Takeaway

Is the Private Era in Space Officially Upon Us?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The United States, Russia, Japan, the European Union, and SpaceX: what do they all have in common? If all goes smoothly over the next few days, each entity will have successfully brought a vessel to the International Space Station. Yesterday, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and its unmanned Dragon capsule lifted off en route to the International Space Station, marking the first ever flight for a commercial spacecraft bound for the space station. Michael Lopez-Alegria, former NASA astronaut and current president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, and Miles O'Brien, science correspondent for PBS NewsHour, discuss the future of space travel.

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Transportation Nation

SpaceX Successfully Launches Historic Flight in Florida

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Image Courtesy of Space X

(Orlando, FL-  WMFE) The supply ship built by Space Exploration Technologies is now in orbit and on its way to rendezvous with the International Space Station. With the successful launch of the test capsule loaded with supplies, NASA is a step closer to developing a commercial crew program to eventually ferry astronauts into orbit.

The Falcon 9 rocket, with a new valve in one of its engines, soared into the night sky over Florida after lifting off as planned from Cape Canaveral at 3.44 am Tuesday -- marking the first time a private company has launched a vessel to the ISS.

Space X president Gwynne Shotwell said the rocket could have flown even with the faulty valve that had delayed the launch on Saturday morning.

Ten minutes after the launch, the spacecraft was in orbit and had deployed its solar panels, beginning a sequence of rocket firings to maneuver close to the space station.

With Dragon now in orbit, the mission still has some way to go: after the spacecraft completes a complex series of tests to see if it can safely approach the ISS, NASA has the final say on whether to allow it to dock with the orbiting outpost.

Unlike Russia’s Soyuz, Space X’s Dragon will not mate directly with the orbiting observatory. Instead, astronauts will use the station’s robot arm to grab Dragon and slowly dock it with the station.

Astronauts plan to use a robotic arm to grab the Dragon and bring it into the station on Friday. If everything unfolds as mission managers hope, the Dragon will spend two weeks at the Space Station before detaching and heading home for a splashdown in the Pacific.

 

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Transportation Nation

Companies to Offer Rides to Private Space Stations

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Bigelow's Genesis II Space Habitat, launched in 2007 (Photo Courtesy of Bigelow Aerospace)

The private space companies Space Exploration Technologies and Bigelow Aerospace are planning to offer rides to international customers to private space stations.

The California based SpaceX is developing a reusable space craft and rocket, while Bigelow, which has offices and manufacturing plants in Nevada and Maryland, is working on an expandable space station which it says will be lighter and cheaper than rigid metallic structures traditionally used in space station design.  Bigelow's  BA330 habitat will be able to support a crew of six, and the company says it could be used by national space agencies, private companies and universities.

Mike Gold, Bigelow's Director of DC operations and business growth, says the plan is to lease space on the station much like a lease on a terrestrial building.

"Too often we treat space as something absolutely unique or different," says Gold.

"The business principles we've used here on earth for centuries apply just as well to space, and we're looking forward to bringing traditional business practices to space."

Gold says it's too early to tell what it would cost to lease one of the company's private space stations. "Until we know exactly what the cost of the rockets and the capsules we use for transportation are, I wouldn't want to say what the pricing will be."

Bigelow and SpaceX plan to begin a marketing campaign in Asia. Company representatives will travel to Japan to meet with officials after the upcoming SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch, which is scheduled to blast off from Cape Canaveral to the International Space Station on May 19th.

The Dragon capsule packed with cargo for the mission is designed to eventually carry astronauts into orbit. As part of its commercial crew program, NASA is providing funding and technical expertise to help  SpaceX develop its rocket and capsule.

The launch has been delayed several times while technicians work to refine computer software for the mission.

During the mission, the  space capsule will complete a series of maneuvers including docking with the ISS before returning to earth.

Bigelow's Mike Gold says he'll be watching the mission closely.

"There will certainly be a lot politically that occurs from this launch in terms of how much funding the commercial crew program receives, and therefore how quickly we can move forward with our own business plan."

Gold says he believes there could soon be a commercial station in orbit along with the International Space Station.

 

 

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Features

Space Shuttle's Arrival in NYC Delayed Due to Weather

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum may have cleared part of its deck in anticipation of the arrival of the space shuttle, but it will have to wait a bit longer. NASA's planned flight of the Enterprise, piggy-backed atop of a 747, has been pushed back due to "an unfavorable weather forecast."

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The Takeaway

Behind the Scenes at Orbital's Launch Facility

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

SpaceX and Orbital will be the first private companies to fly missions to the International Space Station. The two companies have multi-billion dollar contracts to supply cargo to the station after the NASA shuttle program shut down. BBC's science reporter Neil Bowdler was granted exclusive access to Orbital's launch facilities in Virginia.

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WNYC News

Watch | Solar Storm Expected to Hit Thursday

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

An impressive solar flare is headed toward earth. The massive cloud of charged particles is due to arrive early Thursday and could disrupt power grids, GPS, satellite networks and airplane flights, especially in northern areas.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Neil deGrasse Tyson on NASA and Space

Monday, March 05, 2012

Neil deGrasse Tyson discusses NASA and the future of space travel, now that NASA has put human space flight on hold. In Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier , he shares his thoughts on topics from the missteps that shaped the recent history of space travel to how aliens, if they existed, might go about finding us.

 

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The Takeaway

Have We Given Up on the Final Frontier?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

After half a century at the forefront of space exploration, NASA’s been hit by hard times. Last year, its groundbreaking and celebrated space-shuttle program was shuttered. The cosmos won’t see another American spacecraft for at least another decade, and that once dreamed of trip to Mars — not too long ago a serious interest of the U.S. government — isn't even close to being a priority.

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The Takeaway

Neil deGrasse Tyson on Traveling to Mars

Friday, November 25, 2011

On Saturday, NASA will be launching the new rover "Curiosity," also known as Mars Science Laboratory. The mission is meant to examine chemical ingredients to see if the planet can support human life. The spacecraft will explore a crater the size of a large lake. Curiosity is delivering a rover equipped to test if there is methane in the air. This could be a key sign that the "Red Planet" may be able to support life.

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Features

Intrepid May Build Off-Site Museum to House Space Shuttle

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum may build an off-site museum to house the space shuttle Enterprise, officials close to the plans told WNYC.

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