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Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk to Help NASA Land First Woman and Next Man on Moon

Returning astronauts to the Moon in 2024 could cost about $30 billion, or roughly the same price tag as the Apollo 11 spaceflight when factoring in inflation

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Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and owner of Blue Origin. (Wikimedia commons)

The US space agency has selected 13 firms — including Blue Origin of Jeff Bezos and SpaceX of Elon Musk — to develop space technologies as it prepares to land humans on the Moon by 2024 with the Artemis mission and, later, the Red Planet.

Various NASA centres will partner with the companies — which range from small businesses with fewer than a dozen employees to large aerospace organizations — to provide expertise, facilities, hardware and software at no cost, the agency said in a statement on Tuesday.

“We’ve identified technology areas NASA needs for future missions, and these public-private partnerships will accelerate their development so we can implement them faster,” said Jim Reuter, associate administrator of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD).

Lockheed Martin will work with NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, to test materials made from metal powders using solid-state processing to improve the design of spacecraft that operate in high-temperature environments.

Blue Origin will collaborate with NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston and Goddard to mature a navigation and guidance system for safe and precise landing at a range of locations on the Moon.

Blue Origin will also partner with Glenn and Johnson to mature a fuel cell power system for the company’s Blue Moon lander.

The system could provide uninterrupted power during the lunar night, which lasts for about two weeks in most locations.

Tesla CEO Elon musk, board
Tesla CEO Elon Musk. (VOA)

“Blue Origin, Marshall and Langley will evaluate and mature high-temperature materials for liquid rocket engine nozzles that could be used on lunar landers,” said NASA.

SpaceX will work with NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to advance their technology to vertically land large rockets on the Moon. This includes advancing models to assess engine plume interaction with lunar regolith.

SpaceX will also work with Glenn and Marshall to advance technology needed to transfer propellant in orbit, an important step in the development of the company’s Starship space vehicle.

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The space agency has doubled down on its next giant leap with the Artemis mission that would take “the first woman and the next man” to the lunar surface.

The programme includes an unmanned mission around the Moon in 2020 and a manned mission that also will orbit the Moon two years later.

Returning astronauts to the Moon in 2024 could cost about $30 billion, or roughly the same price tag as the Apollo 11 spaceflight when factoring in inflation. (IANS)

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NASA Telescope Captures Record-Breaking Thermonuclear X-Ray Flash: ’Burst was Outstanding’

The observations reveal many phenomena that have never been seen together in a single burst

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NASA, Telescope, Thermonuclear
The X-ray burst, the brightest seen by NICER so far, came from an object named "J1808". Wikimedia Commons

NASA has detected a massive thermonuclear explosion coming from outer space, caused by a massive thermonuclear flash on the surface of a pulsar — the crushed remains of a star that long ago exploded as a supernova.

The explosion released as much energy in 20 seconds as the Sun does in nearly 10 days.

NASA’s Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) telescope on the International Space Station (ISS) detected a sudden spike of X-rays on August 20, reports the US space agency.

The X-ray burst, the brightest seen by NICER so far, came from an object named “J1808”.

NASA, Telescope, Thermonuclear
The explosion released as much energy in 20 seconds as the Sun does in nearly 10 days. Pixabay

The observations reveal many phenomena that have never been seen together in a single burst.

In addition, the subsiding fireball briefly brightened again for reasons astronomers cannot yet explain.

“This burst was outstanding. We see a two-step change in brightness, which we think is caused by the ejection of separate layers from the pulsar surface, and other features that will help us decode the physics of these powerful events,” said lead researcher Peter Bult, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

The detail NICER captured on this record-setting eruption will help astronomers fine-tune their understanding of the physical processes driving the thermonuclear flare-ups of it and other bursting pulsars.

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“J1808” is located about 11,000 light-years away in the constellation Sagittarius.

It spins at a dizzying 401 rotations each second, and is one member of a binary system. Its companion is a brown dwarf, an object larger than a giant planet yet too small to be a star. A steady stream of hydrogen gas flows from the companion toward the neutron star, and it accumulates in a vast storage structure called an accretion disk.

Astronomers employ a concept called the “Eddington limit”, named after English astrophysicist Sir Arthur Eddington, to describe the maximum radiation intensity a star can have before that radiation causes the star to expand.

This point depends strongly on the composition of the material lying above the emission source.

NASA, Telescope, Thermonuclear
NASA’s Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) telescope on the International Space Station (ISS) detected a sudden spike of X-rays on August 20, reports the US space agency. Pixabay

“Our study exploits this longstanding concept in a new way,” said co-author Deepto Chakrabarty, a professor of physics at MIT.

“We are apparently seeing the Eddington limit for two different compositions in the same X-ray burst. This is a very powerful and direct way of following the nuclear burning reactions that underlie the event.”

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A paper describing the findings has been published by The Astrophysical Journal Letters. (IANS)