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The Space Gazette

Space for Everyone      -        July 16, 2001     -         Vol. 1 No. 2

Activism - Space Sails - Space Sail Simulators

Solar Sail to Fly this Week

Cosmos 1 - Solar Sail Test Mission
Sail deployment
Credits: Babakin Space Center, (c) The Planetary Society.

The Cosmos 1 solar sail test craft will fly this week atop a converted ballistic missile launched from a Russian submarine in the Barents Sea. During the half long suborbital flight, the payload will reach 412 kilometers in altitude where two solar sail blades will inflate.

The goal is to test the inflatable deployment of a full-size solar sail blade in microgravity and vacuum. Cameras will record the deployment.

If things go successfully, a complete craft with eight sails will be placed into a 850-km circular orbit sometime this autumn.

The technology development and operation comes mostly from the Russian Babakin Space and Research Center. The Planetary Society manages the project and the $4 million funding comes from the Cosmos Studios.

Multimedia - Mars

The Mars Bizarre
MOC narrow-angle image M11-04220
Tube structures in a MGS image.
MOC narrow-angle image M11-04220
Malin Space Science Systems

The Mars Global Surveyor has been imaging Mars since 1997. Most of the planet has been imaged and many areas have been covered more than once and in different seasons of the Martian year.

The images have rocked the space science community, sparking tremendous arguments over what they say about the planet's history and current state. The biggest battle concerns the issue of whether liquid water ever flowed on the surface and whether any water remains frozen beneath the surface.

Furthermore, among the tens of thousands of images, there are many bizarre features that defy quick explanation. These inevitably lead to "face on Mars" kinds of explanations and even Arthur C. Clarke claims that some of the pictures can only be explained as signs of vegetation. Most likely, though, they arise from less sensational geologic, climate, and chemical effects.

You certainly don't have to accept the extreme interpretations to find the images fascinating and to get an appreciation for just how dynamic and diverse Mars really is.

Checkout some of the galleries listed in the Strange Mars part of the Multimedia section and make some guesses yourself as to what those weird patterns imply!

[Hungarian Claims Of Martian Life Are Erroneous - Spacedaily - Sept.20.01

Fresh claims about life on Mars - CNN.com - September 7, 2001 ]

Rocketry - RLVCountdown - RLV News

Armadillo Rockets Along

Armadillo Aerospace continues to make steady progress in development of vertical-takeoff-vertical-landing rocket vehicles.

Run by John Carmack, a co-founder of ID Software and programmer of Quake and other famous games, the program seeks to make steady step-by-step towards a manned vertical-takeoff-vertical-landing (VTVL) sub-orbital rocket vehicle by next year.

Watch a recent video of a test flight of a unmanned vehicle - RollControl.mpg - and checkout the construction progess of the manned vehicle - Jul 7, 2001 Flight Test Meeting Notes.

The Armadillo website posts regular updates on their progress.

Space Simulations

Immerse Yourself in Space

Computer space simulators began as simple lunar lander games and grew into highly detailed flight simulators for spacecraft ranging from the Mercury capsules to the space shuttle.

With the growth of computer power, it became possible to develop elaborate virtual reality environments that simulated an entire space station or a community on the Moon or Mars.

In some cases you are the only participant. You explore the particular environment and, in some cases, try to develop it further.

Some of these environments can be experienced over the web, perhaps via a browser plug-in, and you participate in the world simultaneously with many other people.

The Mars settlements of the ActiveWorld site, for example, involves not just exploring the 3-D environment but actively developing it as well. Thousands of users have participated in the creation of this virtual space world.

Other such multi-user environments include the Moon Tycoon online 3-D game and Space City One.

Previous space news:

Articles Index


See also  
Space Headlines
RLV News
News Links

Investing-Rock Collecting

Private Moon Mission Gets Some Good Press

Applied Space Resources recently got the attention of some big time news outlets. A New York Times article discussed the commercialization of Moon rocks (Shoot It, Howl at It, Buy It - NY Times Week In Review - July.1.01 ) and their CEO got profiled at the Wall Street Transcript : CEO Interview and Profile (pdf file).

The company wants to send a spacecraft to the surface of the Moon, grab 15kgs of rocks, and bring them back to earth.

There are good indications of a market for extraterrestrial gravel such as the recent auction of James Irwin's Apollo 15 spacesuit patches. The cloth was embedded with Moon dust and the patches sold for $350,000.

Lunar meteor samples are currently selling for around $40 per milligram.

ASR believes it can fund its $175 million mission at $10 per milligram or $10 million per kg.

Satellite Watching -
Eyes in the Sky

Amateurs Spot
a Sly Spysat

An American spy satellite "pretended" to blow up soon after launch in 1990. According to MSNBC, the craft, which initially was very bright, seemed to split into several parts, some of which reentered the atmosphere, giving the impression of an explosion.

However, amateur satellite watchers in Canada and England later spotted the main craft, which had become much darker. It was maneuvered during the Gulf War to obtain better views of Iraq.

A spy satellite’s rise ... and faked fall - MSNBC - July.12.01

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