Before Cassini or Galileo, there were the Voyager probes. Launched in August and September of 1977, both Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 continue to communicate with Earth via the Deep Space Network. Voyager 1 is farther from Earth than Voyager 2, due to differences in their missions and trajectories, at an estimated 141 AU from Earth (1 AU is the distance between Earth and the sun). On Friday, NASA engineers were able to successfully fire Voyager 1’s backup thrusters -- for the first time in 37 years.
Today, the most innovative research into space travel has shifted to the private sector, especially in the U.S. SpaceX's commercial rockets have not only cut the cost of launching into Earth orbit. They're precursors to bigger rockets the company hopes will send humans to Mars before the end of the 2020s, long before China's state-funded program achieves the same.
Uber is joining forces with NASA to develop an air traffic management system for its flying taxi service, the company announced Wednesday at a technology conference in Lisbon, as first reported by CNN. The ride-hailing firm first unveiled its ambitious plans for a flying car project last year, as part of Uber’s effort to transform the transportation industry.
In many cases, the aerospace industry is still a primarily male-dominated field. As of last year, one-third of NASA’s employees were women, according to an article by SiliconANGLE. With a new piece of legislation, Congressman Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) and Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (D-Connecticut) hope to encourage more women to enter jobs in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) field.
"It's really about our future. We count on the innovations in STEM fields to better our lives," said Dr. Jemison. "Information technologies and personalized medicine, apps and different materials, they all help to change our lives. So we need to make sure we're making that investment into the future so we can continue to advance."
It is encouraging to see that NASA is leaning more towards integrating commercial capabilities into how space science missions are implemented, especially for cubesats and small satellites. It is imperative that NASA embrace the many commercial capabilities that are becoming available in the small-sat market, which may reach $20 billion/year globally in the next few years.
"Great for role playing space exploration missions," Lego said in a press release announcing the set on Wednesday (Oct. 18). "Explore the professions of some of the groundbreaking women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) with the Lego Ideas Women of NASA set." [Gallery: First Photos of Lego’s "Women of NASA" Set]
NASA is in discussions about potential roles it could play on an upcoming series of Russian robotic lunar missions, including landers and sample return spacecraft. Jim Green, director of NASA’s planetary science division, told attendees of the annual meeting of the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group (LEAG) here Oct. 11 that he recently returned from a trip to Russia that included talks about cooperation on those future Russian lunar missions.
As you get older, some of your joints might get a little crunchy. The same is apparently true of robots. NASA has just sent two astronauts out on a multi-hour spacewalk to repair the International Space Station’s aging Canadian-built robotic arm, part of which broke down in late September. While the arm still works for certain applications, it will need to be fully operational in advance of the station’s upcoming supply drop next month.
Earlier this month, NASA said it was prepared to shift its focus away from Mars, and toward the Moon, whenever the current administration gave the “go” for logistical launch. Now the organization will have to put their plans into motion, because the present administration just announced a renewed effort to get back to the Moon, and beyond.