SpaceX and Space Adventures have partnered to offer space tourists a trip to orbit on the SpaceX Crew Dragon space capsule. They expect the first flight to launch in late 2021 or early 2022. Around $50 million will get you a seat. From Spaceflight Now:
The mission would not dock with the space station, but would instead fly into an orbit above the station’s altitude of about 260 miles (420 kilometers) above Earth, according to Space Adventures, the Virginia-based company that arranged flights of seven wealthy space tourists on Russian Soyuz capsules between 2001 and 2009...
Responding to a question on Twitter about a possible price tag of $52 million per seat, (Space Adventures chairman Eric) Anderson tweeted: “Per seat price for a full group of four not quite that much (not dramatically less, but significant enough to note). Definitive pricing confidential, and dependent on client specific requests, etc.”
Anderson tweeted that the training regimen for the Crew Dragon flight will be “significantly less than the few months required for previous missions or ISS missions.”
“Dragon in this profile allows up to 5 days,” Anderson tweeted. “3 days is probably ideal, 40-50 orbits or so.”
image: SpaceX Crew Dragon (NASA, public domain)
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After producing the Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition, my buddy Tim Daly and I launched a record/publishing label, Ozma Records, to publish creative works at the intersection of science, art, music, and consciousness. Today through Monday, we're having a special holiday sale on all of our releases! This is a rare opportunity to save 15% on the Voyager Golden Record 3xLP Box Set, the Voyager Golden Record 2xCD-Book edition, and our new limited photobook The Family Acid: California!
Voyager Golden Record 3xLP Box Set
In 1977, NASA launched two spacecraft, Voyager 1 and 2, on a grand tour of the solar system and into the mysteries of interstellar space. Attached to each of these probes is a golden phonograph record containing a message for any extraterrestrial intelligence that might encounter it, perhaps billions of years from now. Experience the Voyager Record the way it was meant to be played.
• Three translucent gold 140 gram vinyl LPs, containing all of the original Voyager Record audio, in poly-lined paper sleeves
• Three heavyweight jackets, gold ink on black
• Full-color 96-page softcover book containing all images included on the original Voyager Interstellar Record, gallery of images transmitted back from the Voyager probes, and a new essay by Timothy Ferris, producer of the original golden record
• Gold foil print of Voyager Golden Record cover diagram, archival paper, 12" x 12"
• Voyager trajectories turntable slipmat, gold ink on black felt
• Full-color plastic digital download card for all audio of the Voyager Golden Record (MP3 or FLAC formats)
• Housed in a deluxe record box with pull-ribbon, gold ink on black
• Includes free Voyager Golden Record diagram pin! Read the rest
The Gateway Foundation is a private company that claims they could build the first orbital space hotel by 2025. According to their site, the Von Braun Rotating Space Station is designed "to accommodate both national space agencies conducting low gravity research and space tourists who want to experience life on a large space station with the comfort of low gravity and the feel of a nice hotel" large enough for 450 visitors. From Space.com:
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Gateway Foundation officials acknowledge that the station might not be entirely finished by 2025, but the group aims to develop the station's main structure and basic functions by then. "We expect the operation to begin in 2025, the full station will be built out and completed by 2027. … Once the station's fully operational, our hope, our goal and our objective is to have the station available for the average person," (lead architect Timothy) Alatorre said. "So, a family or an individual could save up reasonably … and be able to have enough money to visit space and have that experience. … It would be something that would be within reach...
Alatorre said that the Gateway Foundation feels that such a project is now possible because the growing success of commercial aerospace companies like SpaceX has made launch options more affordable.
He added that the company admits that it's possible its timeline is pushing it somewhat. "We completely understand that delays are almost inevitable with aerospace, but based on our internal projections and the fact that we're already dealing with existing technology, we're not inventing anything new.
Yesterday, a satellite smaller than a shoebox unfurled a solar sail making it the first spacecraft to orbit the Earth powered by sunlight. LightSail2 is a project of the Planetary Society, a fantastic nonprofit organization co-founded by astronomer and science educator Carl Sagan. From the New York Times:
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For centuries, it was only a dream: traveling through space propelled by the sun’s photons. It was first imagined in the 1600s by Johannes Kepler, the German astronomer who described the laws of the planets’ orbits. In 1964, Arthur C. Clarke moved it into the realm of science fiction in “Sunjammer,” a short story. Carl Sagan, the cosmologist, believed it could be more than a speculative fantasy, and in the 1970s began promoting the building of solar sails for space exploration.
After 10 years of planning and over 40,000 private donations worth $7 million, that idea took flight on Tuesday, as LightSail 2, a spacecraft built for the Planetary Society, co-founded by Mr. Sagan, began what its creators hope will be a year of sailing around Earth.
“This is still one of the most feasible pathways to have real interstellar space travel in the future,” said Sasha Sagan, a writer as well as the daughter of the astronomer.
If it succeeds in its mission, it will contribute to overcoming one of the greatest limitations on the outer bounds of space travel — that the power that steers spacecraft, usually hydrazine fuel, eventually runs out.
In Technology Review, author and essayist Chuck Klosterman delivers a short introduction to the stars of space rock, from Pink Floyd (above) to Hawkwind to Spacemen 3:
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Space is a vacuum: the only song capturing the verbatim resonance of space is John Cage’s perfectly silent “4'33".” Any artist purporting to embody the acoustics of the cosmos is projecting a myth. That myth, however, is collective and widely understood. Space has no sound, but certain sounds are “spacey.” Part of this is due to “Space Oddity”; another part comes from cinema, particularly the soundtrack to 2001 (the epic power of classical music by Richard Strauss and György Ligeti). Still another factor is the consistent application of specific instruments, like the ondes martenot (a keyboard that vaguely simulates a human voice, used most famously in the theme to the TV show Star Trek). The shared assumptions about what makes music extraterrestrial are now so accepted that we tend to ignore how strange it is that we all agree on something impossible.
The application of these clichés is most readily seen in the dawn of heavy metal. The 1970 Black Sabbath song “Planet Caravan” processed Ozzy Osbourne’s vocals through a Hammond organ to create a sprawling sense of ethereal distance. Deep Purple’s 1972 “Space Truckin’” used ring modulation to simulate a colossal spacecraft traveling at high speed. The lyrical content of Led Zeppelin’s “No Quarter” is built on Norse mythology, but the dreamlike drone of John Paul Jones’s mellotron and Jimmy Page’s ultra-compressed guitar mirrored the sensation of exploring an alien landscape.
NASA announced today that the International Space Station is now open to private astronauts for commercial business and, yes, tourism. It ain't budget travel, that's for sure. Kenneth Chang writes in the New York Times
NASA is not selling space vacations directly, but allowing commercial companies to arrange such trips. The agency plans to charge the companies about $35,000 a night for use of the station’s facilities, including air and water.
The tourist companies would charge much more to cover the rocket flights to and from space, and to make a profit.
Bigelow Aerospace of North Las Vegas, Nev., has already reserved four launches. The company will use SpaceX, the rocket company run by Elon Musk, to take private astronauts. Each flight would have four seats.
Axiom Space of Houston is also arranging flights and hopes to fly tourists next year.
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Pricing released Friday is specific to commercial and marketing activities enabled by the new directive, reflects a representative cost to NASA, and is designed to encourage the emergence of new markets. As NASA learns how these new markets respond, the agency will reassess the pricing and amount of available resources approximately every six months and make adjustments as necessary.
To qualify, commercial and marketing activities must either:
• require the unique microgravity environment to enable manufacturing, production or development of a commercial application;
• have a connection to NASA’s mission; or
• support the development of a sustainable low-Earth orbit economy.
NASA’s directive enabling commercial and marketing activities aboard the space station addresses manufacturing, production, transportation, and marketing of commercial resources and goods, including products intended for commercial sale on Earth.
NASA astronaut Anne McClain captured this astonishing image of the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule approaching her temporary residence, the International Space Station. "The dawn of a new era in human spaceflight," McClain tweeted with the photo.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon, containing supplies rather than humans for this test, docked at the ISS yesterday morning and the hatch was opened a few hours ago. From NASA:
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(The mission, called) Demo-1 is the first flight test of a space system designed for humans built and operated by a commercial company through a public-private partnership. The mission also marks a significant step toward returning to the nation the capability to launch astronauts on a U.S.-built spacecraft from U.S. soil.
“It’s an exciting evening,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said after the launch. “What today really represents is a new era in spaceflight. We’re looking forward to being one of many customers in a robust commercial marketplace in low-Earth orbit.”
Filmmaker Kim Pimmel combined ferrofluids, a magnet, soap bubbles, and dye to create this mesmerizing short video. Science + art = awesomesauce.
Thanks, Brian Thomas!
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