We’re The Smallest!

The smallest space telescopes to ever be place in orbit, that is.  The twin Bright Target Explorer (BRITE) nanosatellites look like little cubes and will blast off atop an Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle today from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India.
Other nanosatellites have been launched into space, and near space, before, they have been mainly used to study the Earth or various other research.  The BRITE satellites will be the first nanosatellites to peer into the cosmos.  Each satellite is less than 8 inches (20 centimeters) wide and weigh less than 15.5 pounds (7 kilograms).  Once in orbit, they are expeted to observe the brightest stars in the night sky.

“BRITE is expected to demonstrate that nanosatellites are now capable of performance that was once thought impossible for such small spacecraft,” said Cordell Grant, manager of satellite systems for the Space Flight Laboratory at the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies (UTIAS), where the satellites were designed.
The nanosatellites can only fit small telescopes, so they won’t be capturing amazing high-resolution images of the cosmos, but they will be able to observe and record changes in a star’s brightness over time.

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The data collected from the BRITE satellites will help scientists find spots on the star, an orbiting planet or secondary star, or “starquakes” caused by oscillations within the star itself.

These small satellites can be built faster and at a lower cost than their larger counterparts.  Also, they can be added to the launch payload of existing missions without adding to the cost of the fuel needed to achieve orbit.

The only drawback that I can foresee is the addition of more debris in orbit.  The nanosatellites will hopefully contain enough fuel to move them into a decaying orbit back to Earth.  Otherwise, more junk to deal with in orbit.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities.  Connect with me on Google +.  If you need help with any patent, trademark, or copyright issue, or know someone that can use my help, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation by sending me an email or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

Norman

Chasing the Dream.

Ever since the NASA space shuttle fleet has been retired, there hasn’t been any real replacement.  Now, the private Sierra Nevada Corp., based in Colorado, has plans to change the status quo.

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In the next few weeks, the company plans to perform a key drop-test for its Dream Chaser space-plane.  The Dream Chaser, will be released by a carrier helicopter at an altitude of 12,000 feet (3,657 meters), and hopefully glide back and land autonomously at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center in California.

The unmanned 30-second drop test begins a series of trials prior to low-Earth orbit trips.  If the company is successful, they have a potentially lucrative contract with many governments to carry both crew and cargo to the International Space Station.  The space-plane could also potentially carry satellites into low earth orbit where they can be boosted to higher orbits.

The Dream Chaser has room for seven and looks like a miniature space shuttle. The craft is 29.5 feet (9 m) long and has a wingspan of 22.9 feet (7 m). For comparison, NASA’s space shuttle was 122 feet (37 m) long, with a wingspan of 78 feet (24 m).

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SNC isn’t the only company looking to cash in on the commercial space race.  SpaceX and Boeing both have space-planes that they are working on.

The Dragon from SpaceX has already docked with the ISS as I told you about here.

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The Boeing CST-100 (Crew Space Transportation) spacecraft is another capsule based project is still in development.

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The Dream Chaser space-plane is the only non-capsule design currently being developed.

NASA hopes at least one of these vehicles is ready to fly astronauts to and from the space station by 2017.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities.  Connect with me on Google +

Norman

China’s First Woman Astronaut

Liu Yang, is China’s first woman in space.  She and the other two astronauts are on a mission to dock with an orbiting station, the latest step in an ambitious program to go to the moon and on to Mars.

The Shenzhou-9 capsule lifted off smoothly at the Jiuquan launch centre, set in the arid wastes of north China’s Gansu province, commanded by an air force colonel, Jing Haipeng, 46. All systems functioned normally and, just over 10 minutes later, it opened its solar panels and entered orbit.

Liu Yang, 33, and two male crew members – mission commander and veteran astronaut Jing Haipeng, 45, and newcomer Liu Wang, 43 – docked the spacecraft with a prototype space lab launched last year in a key step toward building a permanent space station. All three are experienced pilots and officers in the Chinese air force.

Two of the astronauts will live and work inside the module to test its life-support systems while the third will remain in the capsule to deal with any unexpected emergencies.

The trio are among a breed of “superbeings”, said state media, a cadre of astronauts who will one day be able to endure the 56 million km journey to Mars.

Their training was run by the military but can be pieced together from Chinese specialist magazines and army journals. Physical and psychological resilience are put to extreme test in the so-called “58 ladders” that Chinese astronauts must “climb” to qualify for national fame – and there are no concessions to women.

The Tiangong 1 module, now orbiting at 343 kilometers (213 miles) above Earth, is only a prototype.  Plans call for it to be replaced by a larger permanent space station due for completion around 2020.

That station is to weigh about 60 tons, slightly smaller than NASA’s Skylab of the 1970s and about one-sixth the size of the 16-nation International Space Station.

China has only limited cooperation in space with other nations and its exclusion from the ISS, largely on objections from the United States, was one of the key spurs for it to pursue an independent space program 20 years ago.

China first launched a man into space in 2003 followed by a two-man mission in 2005 and a three-man trip in 2008 that featured the country’s first space walk.

In November 2011, the unmanned Shenzhou 8 successfully docked twice with Tiangong 1 by remote control.

Shenzhou 9 is to first dock with the module by remote control, then separate and dock again manually in order to fully test the reliability of the system. The astronauts are to conduct medical tests and various other experiments before returning to Earth after more than 10 days. (Photo by Ng Han Guan/China Foto Press/AP Photo)

China's First Spacewoman Liu Yang

China's first female astronaut Liu Yang, bottom, waves during a sending off ceremony as she departs for the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft rocket launch pad at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Jiuquan, China, Saturday, June 16, 2012

China's first female astronaut Liu Yang, waves during a sending off ceremony before she departs for the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft rocket launch pad at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Jiuquan, China, Saturday, June 16, 2012

China's first female astronaut Liu Yang, waves during a sending off ceremony before she departs for the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft rocket launch pad at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Jiuquan, China, Saturday, June 16, 2012

China’s first female astronaut Liu Yang, waves during a sending off ceremony before she departs for the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft rocket launch pad at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Jiuquan, China, Saturday, June 16, 2012. China will send its first woman and two other astronauts into space Saturday to work on a temporary space station for about a week, in a key step toward becoming only the third nation to set up a permanent base in orbit. (Photo by Ng Han Guan/AP Photo)

China's astronauts from left., Liu Yang, Jing Haipeng and Liu Wang wave and walk before a giant portrait of China's first astronaut Yang Liwei, as they depart for the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft rocket launch pad at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Jiuquan, China, Saturday, June 16, 2012

China’s astronauts from left., Liu Yang, Jing Haipeng and Liu Wang wave and walk before a giant portrait of China’s first astronaut Yang Liwei, as they depart for the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft rocket launch pad at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Jiuquan, China, Saturday, June 16, 2012. (Photo by Ng Han Guan/AP Photo)

Shenzhou 9 spacecraft rocket launches from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Jiuquan, China, Saturday, June 16, 2012

Shenzhou 9 spacecraft rocket launches from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Jiuquan, China, Saturday, June 16, 2012

Shenzhou 9 spacecraft rocket launches from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Jiuquan, China, Saturday, June 16, 2012. (Photo by Ng Han Guan/AP Photo)

A child uses a pair of binoculars to view the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft rocket before it launches from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Jiuquan, China, Saturday, June 16, 2012

Spectators gather to watch the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft rocket launch from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Jiuquan, China

Spectators gather to watch the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft rocket launch from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Jiuquan, China, Saturday, June 16, 2012. (Photo by Ng Han Guan/AP Photo)