Space news #11 2015: Fusion power?
China has been busy this week with news that the Tianzhou-1 cargo ship will be docking with the mysterious Chinese Space Lab in 2016. Meanwhile, Russia, fresh from public arguments with the US over the future of the ISS, is readying their SAR-401 robot for space… doesn’t SAR-401 look a lot like NASA’s Robonaut? Well, they are both intended to do the same job… so it’s not that surprising that they look alike. Once both robots are onboard the ISS, the crew will finally be able to start the rumoured zero-g robot fighting league.
So far the US has remained quiet about last week’s explosion of a “military weather satellite”. This week ESA spoke up on behalf of the US to reassure everyone that this exploding satellite is nothing to worry about. The concern is that an energetic explosion could send shrapnel into other satellites causing them to also explode as demonstrated in the move Gravity. Kessler syndrome is the worst case scenario where the Earth ends up surrounded with enough shrapnel from cascading explosions to risk damaging any vehicle trying to reach orbit.
This week, Lockheed Martin have claimed that they have cracked fusion and intend to deploy a working fusion generator. This is great news because fusion offers the potential of an abundant supply of cheap, clean power without needing to build huge arrays of solar and wind generators. The only problem is that they don’t actually have anything to demonstrate. Nonetheless, Lockheed Martin wish to assure us that they’ve figured out all the hard stuff and that controlled stars will begin to bloom across the globe within a decade. I would advise anyone planning to get rid of their now worthless roof-top solar systems to wait until a prototype that produces more energy than it consumes is demonstrated.
In addition to solving a lot of problems on Earth, fusion power offers the potential to open up the outer Solar System. While we currently have nuclear reactors, some people have an issue with getting the fuel into space on top of the fast moving explosion known as a rocket. Solar power is great in the inner Solar System, but beyond the orbit of Mars sunlight is weak.
I really hope Lockheed Martin can do what they think they can do.
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- Russian SAR-401 robot ready for the ISS
- U.S. silence on satellite explosion no cause for alarm
- Dealing with asteroid threats
- NASA finds source of Curiosity’s short circuit
- Apollo 9 glitch led to a life-altering experience
- How do you test something in Zero-G on Earth?
- Orion’s Launch Abort System Motor Exceeds Expectations
- International Space Station ‘Lost’ Without Russia Says NASA Chief
- Tianzhou-1 cargo ship to dock with space lab in 2016
- China’s test spacecraft simulates orbital docking
- Shaping up: the future of US space transportation
- Galileo satellites ready for fuelling as launcher takes shape
- NASA SLS Booster Has ‘State-Of-The-Art’ Improvements
- Testing astronauts’ lungs in Space Station airlock
- Planetary Society announces privately funded lightSail
- Lockheed Martin Eyes Portable Fusion Engines Within Decade
- China’s Space Laboratory Still Cloaked
- ISS Cargo Competition Ramps Up
- Boeing would remove equipment for cargo-carrying CST-100
- Private Company Eyes Commercial Space Station Airlock
- A new space race emerges
- World View completes first commercial flight
The Solar System
- NASA Spacecraft Becomes First to Orbit a Dwarf Planet
- Dawn arrival at Ceres will cap epic Solar System trek
- Opportunity Examining Odd Mars Rocks at Valley Overlook
- Mars Colonization Edges Closer
- How Did the Saturn Moon Titan’s Atmosphere Form?
- Fierce ‘Superflares’ from the Sun Zapped the Infant Earth
- Revolutionary Engine Could Fuel Human Life on Mars
- China has ability but no plan for manned lunar mission: expert
- Violent Solar Flares May Have Paved the Way for Life On Earth
- How Smart Can Robotic Space Explorers Get?
- First Attempt to Contact Hibernating Philae Lander Will Be March 12
- New Horizons’ Pluto Imagery Will Amaze Us
- A Complete Guide to the March 20th Total Solar Eclipse
- Are Extrasolar Worlds More Likely to Be Water-rich?
- The Vanishing Planet
- Scientists report breakthrough in detecting methane
- Potentially Habitable World Gliese 581d. Back from the dead?
- Happy Birthday, Kepler!
- Searching for Exoplanet Rings
- The Fermi Question: No Paradox At All
- Search for Alien Life Should Consider All Possibilities
- The Strange Dark Side of the Universe
- Message from the Cosmos
- The astronomer who brought us the Universe
- Dwarf Galaxies Discovered Orbiting the Milky Way
- Strange Objects Observed in Chaotic Regions
- What could you see with eyes sensitive to the radio spectrum?
- Milky Way Found to Be Much Larger Than Thought
- This Vintage NASA ‘Spacemobile’ Poster Has Us Wanting More
- The Earth, Moon, Mars, and Christopher Columbus
- Space as never seen before
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Dr. Mae Jemison, the first black woman in space and first astronaut to appear on Star Trek. pic.twitter.com/4QoTSmlQTn
— Dickie Greenleaf (@oobp) March 8, 2015