Topic: Spaceflight

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The 100 Year Starship

United States Spaceflight

The 100 Year Starship (100YSS) is a joint U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) grant project to a private entity. The goal of the study is to create a business plan that can foster the research and technology needed for interstellar travel within 100 years.

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2019 in spaceflight

Spaceflight Spaceflight/Timeline of spaceflight working group

This article documents notable spaceflight events during the year 2019.

Alcubierre drive

Spaceflight Physics Alternative Views Physics/relativity

The Alcubierre drive, Alcubierre warp drive, or Alcubierre metric (referring to metric tensor) is a speculative idea based on a solution of Einstein's field equations in general relativity as proposed by Mexican theoretical physicist Miguel Alcubierre, by which a spacecraft could achieve apparent faster-than-light travel if a configurable energy-density field lower than that of vacuum (that is, negative mass) could be created.

Rather than exceeding the speed of light within a local reference frame, a spacecraft would traverse distances by contracting space in front of it and expanding space behind it, resulting in effective faster-than-light travel. Objects cannot accelerate to the speed of light within normal spacetime; instead, the Alcubierre drive shifts space around an object so that the object would arrive at its destination faster than light would in normal space without breaking any physical laws.

Although the metric proposed by Alcubierre is consistent with the Einstein field equations, construction of such a drive is not necessarily possible. The proposed mechanism of the Alcubierre drive implies a negative energy density and therefore requires exotic matter. So if exotic matter with the correct properties cannot exist, then the drive could not be constructed. At the close of his original article, however, Alcubierre argued (following an argument developed by physicists analyzing traversable wormholes) that the Casimir vacuum between parallel plates could fulfill the negative-energy requirement for the Alcubierre drive.

Another possible issue is that, although the Alcubierre metric is consistent with Einstein's equations, general relativity does not incorporate quantum mechanics. Some physicists have presented arguments to suggest that a theory of quantum gravity (which would incorporate both theories) would eliminate those solutions in general relativity that allow for backwards time travel (see the chronology protection conjecture) and thus make the Alcubierre drive invalid.

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Satellite killed by trajectory patent

Spaceflight

AMC-14 is a communications satellite. Initially owned by SES Americom, AMC-14 was designed to be placed in geostationary orbit, following launch on a Proton rocket. Built by Lockheed Martin and based on the A2100 satellite bus, AMC-14 was to have been located at 61.5° west longitude for DISH Network service.

It was launched atop a Proton-M/Briz-M rocket at 23:18:55 GMT on 14 March 2008, from LC-200/39 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The satellite was placed in an unusable orbit, following a malfunction of the Briz-M upper stage. Over a six-month period, it was maneuvered into a geosynchronous orbit, and is now near 35° East and in an inclined orbit.

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Apollo 11 50th Anniversary

Spaceflight Military history Military history/Military aviation Military history/Maritime warfare Moon Smithsonian Institution-related National Archives

Apollo 11 was the spaceflight that first landed humans on the Moon. Commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin formed the American crew that landed the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle on July 20, 1969, at 20:17 UTC. Armstrong became the first person to step onto the lunar surface six hours and 39 minutes later on July 21 at 02:56 UTC; Aldrin joined him 19 minutes later. They spent about two and a quarter hours together outside the spacecraft, and they collected 47.5 pounds (21.5 kg) of lunar material to bring back to Earth. Command module pilot Michael Collins flew the Command Module Columbia alone in lunar orbit while they were on the Moon's surface. Armstrong and Aldrin spent 21 hours, 36 minutes on the lunar surface at a site they named Tranquility Base before lifting off to rejoin Columbia in lunar orbit.

Apollo 11 was launched by a Saturn V rocket from Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, Florida, on July 16 at 13:32 UTC, and it was the fifth crewed mission of NASA's Apollo program. The Apollo spacecraft had three parts: a command module (CM) with a cabin for the three astronauts, the only part that returned to Earth; a service module (SM), which supported the command module with propulsion, electrical power, oxygen, and water; and a lunar module (LM) that had two stages—a descent stage for landing on the Moon and an ascent stage to place the astronauts back into lunar orbit.

After being sent to the Moon by the Saturn V's third stage, the astronauts separated the spacecraft from it and traveled for three days until they entered lunar orbit. Armstrong and Aldrin then moved into Eagle and landed in the Sea of Tranquility on July 20. The astronauts used Eagle's ascent stage to lift off from the lunar surface and rejoin Collins in the command module. They jettisoned Eagle before they performed the maneuvers that propelled Columbia out of the last of its 30 lunar orbits onto a trajectory back to Earth. They returned to Earth and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on July 24 after more than eight days in space.

Armstrong's first step onto the lunar surface was broadcast on live TV to a worldwide audience. He described the event as "one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind." Apollo 11 effectively ended the Space Race and fulfilled a national goal proposed in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy: "before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth."

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Apollo 11 missing tapes

Spaceflight Moon

The Apollo 11 missing tapes were those that were recorded from Apollo 11's slow-scan television (SSTV) telecast in its raw format on telemetry data tape at the time of the first Moon landing in 1969 and subsequently lost. The data tapes were recorded as a backup in case the live television broadcasts failed for any reason.

To broadcast the SSTV transmission on standard television, NASA ground receiving stations performed real-time scan conversion to the NTSC television format. The moonwalk's converted video signal was broadcast live around the world on July 21, 1969 (2:56 UTC). At the time, the NTSC broadcast was recorded on many videotapes and kinescope films. Many of these low-quality recordings remain intact. As the real-time broadcast worked and was widely recorded, preservation of the backup video was not deemed a priority in the years immediately following the mission. In the early 1980s, NASA's Landsat program was facing a severe data tape shortage and it is likely the tapes were erased and reused at this time.

A team of retired NASA employees and contractors tried to find the tapes in the early 2000s but was unable to do so. The search was sparked when several still photographs appeared in the late 1990s that showed the visually superior raw SSTV transmission on ground-station monitors. The research team conducted a multi-year investigation in the hopes of finding the most pristine and detailed video images of the moonwalk. If copies of the original SSTV format tapes were to be found, more modern digital technology could make a higher-quality conversion, yielding better images than those originally seen. The researchers concluded that the tapes containing the raw unprocessed Apollo 11 SSTV signal were erased and reused by NASA in the early 1980s, following standard procedure at the time.

Although the researchers never found the telemetry tapes, they did discover the best visual quality NTSC videotapes as well as Super 8 movie film taken of a video monitor in Australia, showing the SSTV transmission before it was converted. These visual elements were processed in 2009, as part of a NASA-approved restoration project of the first moonwalk. At a 2009 news conference in Washington, D.C., the research team released its findings regarding the tapes' disappearance. They also partially released newly enhanced footage obtained during the search. Lowry Digital completed the full moonwalk restoration project in late 2009.

Apollo 15 postage stamp incident

United States Spaceflight Philately Guild of Copy Editors

The Apollo 15 postal covers incident, a 1972 NASA scandal, involved the astronauts of Apollo 15, who carried about 400 unauthorized postal covers into space and to the Moon's surface on the Lunar Module Falcon. Some of the envelopes were sold at high prices by West German stamp dealer Hermann Sieger, and are known as "Sieger covers". The crew of Apollo 15, David Scott, Alfred Worden and James Irwin, agreed to take payments for carrying the covers; though they returned the money, they were reprimanded by NASA. Amid much press coverage of the incident, the astronauts were called before a closed session of a Senate committee and never flew in space again.

The three astronauts and an acquaintance, Horst Eiermann, had agreed to have the covers made and taken into space. Each astronaut was to receive about $7,000. Scott arranged to have the covers postmarked on the morning of the Apollo 15 launch on July 26, 1971. They were packaged for space and brought to him as he prepared for liftoff. Due to an error, they were not included on the list of the personal items he was taking into space. The covers spent July 30 to August 2 on the Moon inside Falcon. On August 7, the date of splashdown, the covers were postmarked again on the recovery carrier USS Okinawa. One hundred were sent to Eiermann (and passed on to Sieger); the remaining covers were divided among the astronauts.

Worden had agreed to carry 144 additional covers, largely for an acquaintance, F. Herrick Herrick; these had been approved for travel to space. Apollo 15 carried a total of approximately 641 covers. In late 1971, when NASA learned that the Herrick covers were being sold, the astronauts' supervisor, Deke Slayton, warned Worden to avoid further commercialization of what he had been allowed to take into space. After Slayton heard of the Sieger arrangement, he removed the three as backup crew members for Apollo 17, though the astronauts had by then refused compensation from Sieger and Eiermann. The Sieger matter became generally known in the newspapers in June 1972. There was widespread coverage; some said astronauts should not be allowed to reap personal profits from NASA missions.

By 1977, all three former astronauts had left NASA. In 1983, Worden sued, and the covers were returned to them. One of the postal covers given to Sieger sold for over $50,000 in 2014.

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Black Arrow

Spaceflight Rocketry

Black Arrow, officially capitalised BLACK ARROW, was a British satellite carrier rocket. Developed during the 1960s, it was used for four launches between 1969 and 1971. Its final flight was the first and only successful orbital launch to be conducted by the United Kingdom, and placed the Prospero satellite into low Earth orbit.

Black Arrow originated from studies by the Royal Aircraft Establishment for carrier rockets based on the Black Knight rocket, with the project being authorised in 1964. It was initially developed by Saunders-Roe, and later Westland Aircraft as the result of a merger.

Black Arrow was a three-stage rocket, fuelled by RP-1 paraffin (kerosene) and high test peroxide, a concentrated form of hydrogen peroxide (85% hydrogen peroxide + 15% water). It was retired after only four launches in favour of using American Scout rockets, which the Ministry of Defence calculated to be cheaper than maintaining the Black Arrow programme.

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Black Hole Starship

Spaceflight Physics Science Fiction

A black hole starship is a theoretical idea for enabling interstellar travel by propelling a starship by using a black hole as the energy source. The concept was first discussed in science fiction, notably in the book Imperial Earth by Arthur C. Clarke, and in the work of Charles Sheffield, in which energy extracted from a Kerr-Newman black hole is described as powering the rocket engines in the story "Killing Vector" (1978).

In a more detailed analysis, a proposal to create an artificial black hole and using a parabolic reflector to reflect its Hawking radiation was discussed in 2009 by Louis Crane and Shawn Westmoreland. Their conclusion was that it was on the edge of possibility, but that quantum gravity effects that are presently unknown will either make it easier, or make it impossible. Similar concepts were also sketched out by Bolonkin.

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Soviet version of the Space Shuttle

Aviation Soviet Union Russia Russia/technology and engineering in Russia Spaceflight Aviation/aircraft project Central Asia

Buran (Russian: Бура́н, IPA: [bʊˈran], meaning "Snowstorm" or "Blizzard"; GRAU index serial number: "11F35 K1") was the first spaceplane to be produced as part of the Soviet/Russian Buran programme. It is, depending on the source, also known as "OK-1K1", "Orbiter K1", "OK 1.01" or "Shuttle 1.01". Besides describing the first operational Soviet/Russian shuttle orbiter, "Buran" was also the designation for the entire Soviet/Russian spaceplane project and its orbiters, which were known as "Buran-class spaceplanes".

OK-1K1 completed one uncrewed spaceflight in 1988, and was destroyed in 2002 when the hangar it was stored in collapsed. The Buran-class orbiters used the expendable Energia rocket, a class of super heavy-lift launch vehicle.

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