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Showing posts with label HOME. Show all posts
Showing posts with label HOME. Show all posts

Saturday, 30 August 2014

NASA’s Space Launch System is officially all systems go for Mars and Moon landings

Artist concept of the Space Launch System

NASA’s Space Launch System, the USA’s first exploration-class spacecraft since the Space Shuttle, has officially passed the whiteboard formulation stage and moved into full-scale development. The SLS, which will be the most powerful rocket ever built, will allow NASA to land astronauts on Mars and captured asteroids, and perhaps other planets and moons throughout the Solar System as well. The first SLS mission should lift off no later than 2018, sending the Orion capsule around the Moon. Asteroid- and Mars-bound missions should follow a few years after that. The question is, will NASA be the first to send humans to Mars (probably no sooner than 2032) — or will a commercial company such as SpaceX get there much earlier?
NASA began the SLS’s design process way back in 2011. At the time, we knew the stated goal of the SLS – to try and re-use as many Space Shuttle components as possible, to get back into deep space as quickly and as cost effectively as possible — but we didn’t know exactly what form the SLS would take. Now that the formulation stage has been completed, and focus has shifted to actually developing and fabricating the launch system’s millions of constituent components, we have a very firm idea of what the SLS will be capable of, and thus what kind of missions NASA will task the SLS with.
Space Shuttle main engine test fire
A test-firing of the Space Shuttle Main Engine, which will be reused on the Space Launch System
The Space Launch System is broken up into blocks. Block I, the first and most simple design, consists of a core stage that’s lifted almost straight from the Space Shuttle: It has two Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Boosters (SSRBs), and a first stage that’s fashioned out of a converted Space Shuttle External Tank (that big red cylinder thing — but on the SLS it’ll be painted white). Together with a modified Delta Cryogenic Second Stage (modified from the Delta IV), Block I will be able to lift around 70 metric tons (154,000 lbs) into low-Earth orbit. There is only expected to be one launch of the Block I variant. If all goes to plan, it will launch sometime in 2017 or 2018 and send an uncrewed Orion capsule on a circumlunar orbit around the dark side of the Moon.
The next variant of the SLS, Block IB, will use the same core stage as Block I — but instead of the modified Delta IV second stage, it’ll have the brand-new Exploration Upper Stage. The EUS has a lot of fuel and four RL10 rocket engines, boosting the total payload capacity to around 110 metric tons to LEO. Finally, at some point in the 2030s, Block II will arrive, which replaces the two SSRBs with new, “advanced boosters.” Block II will be capable of lifting around 155 metric tons to LEO.
The launch of the Apollo 11 mission, aboard Saturn V rocket SA-506
The launch of the Apollo 11 mission, aboard Saturn V rocket SA-506. 34,020,000 newtons of thrust from five massive F-1 rocket engines that each burned around 3 tons of fuel per second. The Saturn V is still the most powerful space launch vehicle ever used.
Read our featured story: The Space Shuttle legacy in pictures
By comparison, the Saturn V — which took NASA astronauts to the Moon — had a max LEO payload capacity of 118 metric tons, but it has long since been retired. SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, which is a much smaller and cheaper rocket than the SLS, will be able to put 55 metric tons into LEO. With the retirement of the Space Shuttle, there aren’t really any heavy lift launchers in operation: Ariane 5 (Arianespace) can only do 21 metric tons to LEO, while Delta IV (United Launch Alliance) can do 29 metric tons to LEO.
In short, NASA’s Space Launch System should be by far the most powerful operational rocket when it arrives in 2017-2018. SpaceX could decide to up-rate the Falcon Heavy, but I doubt it: With Falcon Heavy, SpaceX wants to compete with United Launch Alliance and Arianespace, which currently own the (incredibly lucrative) heavy lift market. A payload capacity of 55 tons is more than enough for that purpose. You only shoot for a capacity of 150 tons if you’re aiming at targets that are much farther than geostationary orbit — such as landing on the Moon or Mars or Europa.
Orion spacecraft
A rendering of the Orion spacecraft
The SLS’s primary payload will be the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV), though it will undoubtedly be used to send other large spacecraft into deep space. The Orion capsule is what NASA will use to land astronauts on the Moon, captured asteroids, Mars, and any other interesting lumps of rock throughout the Solar System. The first manned Orion launch, to a captured asteroid in lunar orbit, is scheduled to occur in 2021. Combined with SpaceX’s crewed Dragon spacecraft and Boeing’s CST-100, things are looking up for human space exploration!



Posted By: Pawan Lubana on Saturday, 30 August 2014

9 Nearly Worthless Gadgets You're Hanging Onto for Dear Life

N64

You can't put a price on childhood memories, which explains why most of your favorite toys and gadgets from childhood aren't worth squat.
Now, you can still make a nice profit off unopened, exceedingly well-maintained or rare items from your younger days, but the majority of your prized possessions are too new to be artifacts and too old to be useful
Before you try to sell your childhood dreams away, check out the nine items that have much more sentimental value than market value. And if you decide to junk them, think about donating orrecycling.

1. Most of your old sports video games

Madden2

Madden NFL 2000 might be worth a lot sentimentally, but not much monetarily.
IMAGE: MASHABLE GIF, EA SPORTS
You might treasure the afternoons you wasted away with your friends playing Madden NFL 2000and High Heat Baseball, but the games themselves are almost worthless. According toPriceCharting, which records listing prices for video games on eBayAmazon and Half.com, most sports games for Nintendo 64 and Playstation all start at about $3.

2. Super Soaker

supersoaker

This meant war.
IMAGE: IMGUR, BACCHUS808
Nothing said summer like pumping this cumbersome canon until it squealed and subsequently nailing your best friend in the eye. Unfortunately, a used Super Soaker probably won't get you more than $20 on eBay since they're still being made today — albeit with a little less power.

4. Sony Walkman cassette players

Walkmen

Better for pumping out the jams then pumping in cash.
IMAGE: FLICKR, EDVVC
Speaking of obsolete ways to rock out, don't bother trying to sell your Walkman cassette player. If anything, digging up that old copy of Backstreet Boys' "Black & Blue" and finally coming to terms with those grade-school crushes might be more valuable.
Some from the 1970s and '80s can fetch hundreds of dollars in near-mint condition, but the one you rocked in the '90s won't get much more than $25.

5. iMac G3

IMac

Pretty, but worthless.
IMAGE: FLICKR, CLE0PATRA
Yes, they're pretty and colorful, and yes, you can actually get about $150 for one if you manage to sell it. However, that's exceedingly difficult to do on eBay, where listings for the computers get little love with slashed prices.

6. Tamagotchi

Tamagotchi

There are 75 million of these things in world, making yours inexpensive.
IMAGE: FLICKR, JOI ITO
These virtual pocket pets might have you caused you (and your teachers) a lot of stress back in the day, but that won't amount to much profit. Tamagotchi are still made today — there's even an app now. By 2010 there were roughly 75 million around the world. Not rare = not too valuable.

7. Casio Calculator Watch

CasioCalcWatch

It's time to stop trying to sell these.
IMAGE: FLICKR, RIK PANGANIBAN
While the calculator watch had a heyday in the 1980s, it's been rendered obsolete by modern inventions, like PDAs, cellphones and fashion. Some modern top-of-the-line models go for a nice price, but the numbers aren't in your favor if you list a standard version. You'll be lucky to get more than $15.

8. Palm Pilots and other PDAs

PalmPilots

Relics from a land before smartphones.
IMAGE: FLICKR, BEN COMBEE
Another victim of the proliferation of smartphones, PDAs serve little purpose or utility now. And since it hasn't been too long since they were used, there's little nostalgia factor to drive up the price. High-tech models from the past decade may get you $40, but basic and older PDAs barely scratch $20.

9. Boomboxes

Boombox

A TV in a boombox might be the only thing to make it worth something.
IMAGE: FLICKR, ELIOT PHILLIPS
With all due respect to Radio Raheem, the boombox's glory days are long gone, and so is any chance you had to make some money off of it. While the boombox carries unique musical and cultural value, that won't translate into cash.
Some rare vintage models will go for $50, but the rest fall somewhere between $15 and $25.
Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

BONUS: 8 Modern Gadgets That Look Like They Macarena'd Out of the '90s

Posted By: Pawan Lubana on

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Smart Lighting Tech Brings Space Bulbs to Your Home

Hi-tech-lighting
Think it’s tough to fall asleep on earth? Just try to imagine what it’s been like for all the astronauts inhabiting the International Space Station (ISS) over the last 15 years. They experience day and night light patterns once every 90 minutes. Lighting can help. Even back on terra firma, people use lights to help lift spirits and regulate sleep when, say, the light is scarce in the winter.
Now, a space-age solution is, figuratively, making the trip from the ISS to Earth thanks to Lighting Science. The company developed lighting technologies that sought to mimic natural light patterns and, as a result may be helping astronauts find some semblance of circadian rhythm normalcy. Prototypes featuring similar, LED-based technology were first installed on the ISS in 2008.
Lighting Science's director of research Rob Soler worked at NASA and was part of the team that developed the original ISS LED lighting prototype. "The average astronaut gets about four hours of sleep per night," Soler told me, adding, "historically 70% of all medication on ISS are sleep aids of some type."
For earth, the company is working on three new LED lighting solutions, which will all be unveiled at CES 2014: Awake & Alert, Good Night and the Rhythm Downlight.
New-fangled lightblulbs may not seem like the next big thing, but when your 40- or 60-watt bulb burns out in a few months, you may be shopping for a high-tech lightning option, anyway. As of 2014, the U.S. will stop manufacturing and importing incandescent 60 and 40 watt bulbs. Many homes have already switched to compact fluorescent bulbs (one of the reasons home electricity use plummeted in 2013). However, despite the energy savings, most of the CFLs are not particularly high-tech or all that good for the environment (they contain trace amounts of mercury). LED-based bulbs are the next big thing. Owing to their digital nature, manufacturers can do a lot more with them than simply light a room.
rhythm-Lighting-Science
Lighting Science's Rhythm Downlight, for instance, can fit in most recessed lighting receptacles and communicates with a companion mobile app via Bluetooth connection. Users answer questions about their schedule in the mobile app and the light, according to a Lighting Science release, automatically adjusts its lighting properties “to optimize sleep or wakefulness.” This mostly involves adjusting the level of blue light the Rhythm emits. More blue light means less melatonin, which means you stay awake.
Soler explained that the same programming technology found in Rhythm is currently under review by NASA for Spaceflight qualification and could be installed on the ISS by 2015.
AwakeAlert_2_BR30noftc
Awake & Alert, which is not programmable, boosts blue light to help give you an energy boost at any time of the day. Similarly, Good Night uses reduced blue levels to help you fall asleep. The use of blue light and wakefulness and attitude adjustment is nothing new. Phillips, for example, has its own line of “Light Therapy” bulbs.
GoodNight-1-A19noftc
Awake and Good Night lights list for $69.99 and are available online from Lighting Science andHomeDepot.com. No pricing has been set for Rhythm Downlight, which should ship by the end of Q3, 2014.

Posted By: Pawan Lubana on Wednesday, 1 January 2014

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