Monday, June 22, 2009

New Mexico Spaceport breaking ground

CNN is reporting work has officially begun on the New Mexico Spaceport.

At a groundbreaking ceremony Friday, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson talked about the world's first facility for space tourists.
"New Mexicans have stepped up to the plate by making this investment," Richardson said. "This groundbreaking ceremony is an important step toward our goal of being at the forefront of a vibrant, new commercial space industry."
The almost $200 million project is funded by the state. Once completed, British business magnate Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic will begin taking tourists to space from the facility.

If you visit the official Spaceport America web site you can catch some awesome new video of Scaled Composites WhiteKnightTwo (which has had 11 successful test flights) gearing up for its maiden spaceflight sometime in 2010.

NASA, meanwhile, continues to tinker (and re-tinker) with its next generation spacecraft Ares and Orion, part of the Constellation Program which will eventually replace the aging shuttle fleet.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Luckiest kid in the world lives in Germany

A 14-year-old German boy, Gerrit Blank, was walking along, minding his own business, when a pea-sized meteorite struck him on the hand with such force it sent him tumbling head over heals and slamming a foot-wide crater in the ground nearby.

The odds of being hit by a meteorite are approximately 1 in a million. The chances it will leave a cool 3 inch long scar you can show all your friends is even less likely. But it happened.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Kaguya scheduled to slam into the Moon today

Japan is set to further its investigation of the lunar surface later today when it crashes an orbiter into the regolith. The spacecraft, actually named Selene, was launched in 2007, and is one of two JAXA lunar probes says:

"The Japanese lunar orbiter Kaguya has completed its main mission. But there's one final scientific endeavor: It will slam into lunar surface at about 2:30 p.m. ET (18:30 UT) today."

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency has set its sights on further lunar exploration, including an eventual colony.

The exact crash details are available here. You might be able to see the debris cloud, if you have a big enough telescope.

You can read more about the JAXA lunar plans here.