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Slingshotting around the sun would make a spacecraft the fastest ever
Image of the test set-up for the thermal shield. Credit: (2023). DOI: 10.2172/1960159

NASA is very interested in developing a propulsion method to allow spacecraft to go faster. We've reported several times on different ideas to support that goal, and most of the more successful have utilized the sun's gravity well, typically by slingshotting around it, as is commonly done with Jupiter currently.

But, there are still significant hurdles when doing so, not the least of which is the energy radiating from the sun simply vaporizing anything that gets close enough to utilize a gravity assist. That's the problem a project supported by NASA's Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC) and run by Jason Benkoski, now of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, is trying to solve.

The project was awarded a NIAC Phase I grant in 2022, focused on combining two separate systems—a and a thermal propellant system. According to the project's , combining those two technologies could allow a spacecraft to perform what is known as an Oberth maneuver around the sun.

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Ariane 6 before wet dress rehearsal

Yesterday, the first Ariane 6 rocket to launch into space went through its last full ‘wet dress rehearsal’ at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana – it provided an exciting sneak peek of what’s to come, stopping just a few seconds before engine ignition and of course, lift-off.

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Saharan dust over the Strait of Messina Image: Saharan dust over the Strait of Messina
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SpaceX
Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

A late scrub due to weather on Tuesday that also took a Wednesday attempt off the board continued SpaceX's Cape Canaveral launch attempt woes of late, but it finally managed a liftoff on June 20, going close to 13 days between launches from the Space Coast, the longest run since late 2022.

It was not for a lack of trying, though, as bad weather and a scrub as the countdown clock hit 0 last week took a different SpaceX off the board. That led to SpaceX taking down that mission's Falcon 9 rocket and switching it up with a Falcon 9 rocket this week to launch a European TV satellite.

The first try on Tuesday night, though, faced high winds at the launch site, forcing a scrub just minutes before liftoff. SpaceX then called off a Wednesday attempt because of "ongoing unfavorable weather at the launch and recovery sites."

The company then shifted to Thursday, and finally managed the launch of the SES 24 mission, lifting off at 5:35 p.m. Eastern time from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station's Space Launch Complex 40.

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Video: 00:02:23

They say it takes a village to raise a child. To launch a rocket, we have the combined expertise and passion of Space Team Europe. Laëlla Marimoutou is one of many making the first Ariane 6 launch possible and has been interviewed as part of a series highlighting some of the people that make up this dream team.

ArianeGroup’s Laëlla Marimoutou works on quality assurance for Ariane 6. As Launch System Quality Assurance Deputy Laëlla ensures the rocket is ready for liftoff. Improvement is infinite and quality is inspiring.

Stay tuned for more from #SpaceTeamEurope: an ESA space community engagement

Week in images: 17-21 June 2024

Friday, 21 June 2024 07:15
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Week in images: 17-21 June 2024

Earth from Space: Adam’s Bridge

Friday, 21 June 2024 07:00
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This Copernicus Sentinel-2 image shows Adam’s Bridge, a chain of shoals linking India and Sri Lanka. Image: This Copernicus Sentinel-2 image shows Adam’s Bridge, a chain of shoals linking India and Sri Lanka.
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space
Credit: Pixabay from Pexels

Space exploration has always captivated our imagination, offering the promise of discovering new worlds and pushing the boundaries of human capability. As commercial space travel becomes more accessible, individuals with various underlying health conditions—including heart failure—may soon be among those venturing beyond Earth's atmosphere.

This raises critical questions about the impact of space travel on humans with potential underlying health problems. Recent research, "Computational modeling of in transitions," delves into this issue, offering insights that could shape the future of space travel.

Why study heart failure in space?

The demographic of commercial space travelers is shifting, increasingly including older, wealthy individuals who may not be in optimal health. Unlike professional astronauts, these space tourists typically do not undergo rigorous health screenings or physical training. This shift necessitates a broader consideration of health conditions, such as heart failure, diabetes, and other , in space mission planning.

Heart failure alone affects over 100 million people globally. Traditionally, space medicine has focused on the effects of microgravity on healthy astronauts. However, the inclusion of non-professional astronauts with preexisting health conditions demands a deeper understanding of how microgravity impacts these individuals.

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Seoul, South Korea (SPX) Jun 21, 2024
KICT Studies Microwave Sintering of Lunar Soil for Moon Base Construction NASA's Artemis program aims to build a lunar base, but transporting construction materials from Earth to the Moon is expensive. To overcome this, researchers are exploring the use of local materials like lunar soil. One method being studied is microwave sintering, which solidifies lunar regolith without melting it. T
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Los Angeles CA (SPX) Jun 21, 2024
SES announced that the ASTRA 1P satellite was launched by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida at 5:35 pm local time. The Ku-band satellite will enhance SES's TV neighbourhood at 19.2 degrees East, delivering content for broadcasters, sports organizations, and content owners to European TV markets. ASTRA 1P will also deliver HD content to subscribers
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University Park PA (SPX) Jun 21, 2024
If liquid water exists today on Mars, it may be too deep underground to detect with traditional methods used on Earth. But listening to earthquakes that occur on Mars - or marsquakes - could offer a new tool in the search, according to a team led by Penn State scientists. When quakes rumble and move through aquifers deep underground, they produce electromagnetic signals. The researchers re
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Seoul, South Korea (SPX) Jun 21, 2024
KICT Studies Microwave Sintering of Lunar Soil for Moon Base Construction NASA's Artemis program aims to build a lunar base, but transporting construction materials from Earth to the Moon is expensive. To overcome this, researchers are exploring the use of local materials like lunar soil. One method being studied is microwave sintering, which solidifies lunar regolith without melting it. T
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Los Angeles CA (SPX) Jun 21, 2024
Four and a half billion years ago, our solar system was a cloud of gas and dust swirling around the sun, until gas began to condense and accrete along with dust to form asteroids and planets. What did this cosmic nursery, known as a protoplanetary disk, look like, and how was it structured? Astronomers can use telescopes to "see" protoplanetary disks far away from our much more mature solar syst
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